Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good Shepherd Sunday, May 15, 2011, Cycle A

4th Sunday Easter Readings, Psalm, Gospel
I was blessed to live in Ireland during 2001.  It was not unusual when out for a country drive to see the scene depicted above.  Sheep in a road.  They actually have the right of way.  So occasionally you could come across a bit of a roadblock only to discover a flock of sheep being "shepherded" across the road by their lord.  Lord is a universal word for shepherd.

In our first Reading from Acts we hear about Peter who issues a challenge.  The formal Greek word for what he is doing is called Kerygma or proclamation.  He is laying it down, "Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who you have crucified.

How stunning it is that Peter, who denied the Lord three times in his presence, at the hour of Jesus' "trial" is now standing before all of Israel in the Temple and saying these words.  What is more startling is their effect: 3000 join the ranks and are baptized, most likely all who were present.

The Psalmody we sing is a familiar one: The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want, he leads me to verdant pasture....he leads me to His kingdom.  For Jesus is the awaited Lord of Israel, the one who Peter proclaims to all who would listen.

When living in Ireland you appreciate the art of shepherding.  For the shepherds communicate very clearly to their flock.  They may whistle or tap the ground with their "crooks", they may signal with their hands or control the lead sheep with their eyes.  It is an art and the sheep in some mysterious way understand they are safe when they are guided by a good shepherd.

In our first reading we heard about Peter in the Acts of the Apostles and now in our second reading we hear from Peter in his first letter.  He tells us that we have been called specifically as Christians to follow in the footsteps of Christ, THE GOOD SHEPHERD.  Remember God is good, good is God.  What is not of God is not good. Period.

So just what is it that we are called to?  And how is it that we must listen?  (When I was 9 or 10 I felt called to the priesthood; it took me 25 years to listen) We learn from watching sheep that there are signals the shepherd may give us.  And the Good Shepherd, Jesus,  gives us many like the tender of the flocks.

He gives us his Word, He gives us His Sacraments, He gives us His Church, his Bride. In this Gospel reading from Saint John, Jesus attempts to explain the way a shepherd leads his flock to the Pharisees.  The Pharisees, in general, are not good.  They are confused by His words.  So He speaks very plainly.

He says, "I am the gate for the sheep".  Jesus is saying I am the authentic Messiah, the one who leads Israel into the promised land, who opens himself like a door to the kingdom.  He left His Church for us, the Church is the voice of Him that leads us to that door.  The other voices and signals are false, they are from robbers and thieves who want to ruin us not unlike the evil one.

Today on Good Shepherd Sunday let us ask ourselves, when do we notice the voice, gestures and call of our Lord God, Jesus Christ?  When do we listen and respond and when do we pray to learn His will better?  Do we recognize what He is calling us to do?  His voice leads us to "an abundant life" as the Gospel writer John tells us.  This is why he came.  This is why he comes today for us here in the Eucharist.  When we "recieve" Him, we receive his grace, his joy his promise of everlasting life.

The only question we should ask ourselves is, how do we respond?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011 Cycle A

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, a holy day for our Church (special Solemnity) that was instituted by Pope Blessed John Paul II in the year 2000, when he canonized a polish nun, Saint Faustina.  She had received personal revelation’s from Our Lord Jesus Christ early in the 20th Century and was told to spread the word that God wants his message of mercy to spread throughout the world so that there may be healing, forgiveness and  reconciliation.  This is called the Divine Mercy devotion.  We are all called to dwell in the love of God, despite our sinfulness.  Praying this devotion helps us to receive grace from Jesus Christ, the sole savior of humanity, universal for all.

By God’s providence today is the day that Pope John Paul II has become Blessed, one step away from sainthood.  In his first Mass as Pope, Blessed John Paul II said do not be afraid to open wide the doors of Christ.  This phrase was shortened to the catch phrase, Be not afraid, which he preached all around the globe.

In 1990 I visited the Vatican as a pilgrim.  I happened upon a general papal audience in October of that year, “backpacking” through Europe.  I received tickets by following simple instructions in a simple tourist guide book.  It was so very simple, it said at the appointed time on Monday, go into the apostolic palace and ask the papal master of ceremonies for tickets to that Wednesday audience.  So I did it and I received some.  I have to be honest, the day of the Wednesday audience was my last day in Rome, and I was conflicted.  I thought I might rather go to the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s famous frescoes.  However, the guidebook I encouraged attending so I went.

To my somewhat surprise, it was stunning.  I can remember that Blessed John Paul II spoke in at least 8 different languages, including Japanese.  He responded when pilgrims of different ethnicities sang to him, which seemed to happen about half a dozen times.
Two moments particularly stood out.

After the hour long service in the Pope Paul VI audience chamber, which is an indoor venue that holds about 5000 people, the Holy Father made his way around the chamber.  For the next 90 minutes he stopped to greet all the pilgrims.  It was near the end of this impromptu stroll that he was closest to me. 

About 5 feet away I snapped several photos which would be developed when I returned home weeks later.  I remember that night being moved as I made an entry into my travel journal.  While reflecting on the day, I remember writing how beautiful his eyes were.  They were “icy blue” and seemed if they could look right through you, very powerful.  I also remember that his speech was very pure, his clear deep voice beholding.  The last thing I remember writing was that I had a profound sense that the Pope had a deep spiritual relationship with God; that he knew God.

Here is Pope Benedict XVI’s homily for today, Divine Mercy Sunday, where he declared his predecessor as Blessed Pope  John Paul II.

 Pope Benedict XVI: Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday and Beatification of John Paul II

Monday, April 25, 2011

Divine Providence: What is it, and why is it important?

follow the link to my newest post on another blog, True Faith: Spiritual Nourishment for the Seeker...wisdom and insight for the Soul..........

It is a bit lengthy, but I hope, well worth the read on an important theological concept to "master".  Enjoy!
s/d.a.s., diakonia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia, Alleluia!


Today, Easter Sunday is our high, Holy day.  I have to admit, that as an adult, this took some getting used to.  When we are younger we think about Christmas, and we as children understand the magnitude of the “Christ-mass”, the day God is born among us; we celebrate with many gifts.

So how could Easter, in effect trump Christmas, because make no mistake about it, Easter is OUR day!

For an answer we turn to scripture.  In today’s first reading, we hear St. Peter proclaim Christ raised from the dead.  This is profound in so many ways.

First, we must understand the terror of the Crucifixion.  I have heard it said that it was the electric chair of ancient Rome.  This is a bit off.  Actually this is not even close.  As terrible as death by electrocution must be, crucifixion was something much harsher.  Add to that what Jesus endured, being betrayed, abandoned, then mocked and spit on (by his own people) and then finally stripped, scourged, and mocked (again) as king of the Jews.  Finally he is nailed to the cross through his hands and feet.  He is placed in a position on the cross so that he would suffocate slowly to death, all the while enduring his other near fatal wounds.

How could a body so betrayed be raised?  How could it function after such torture?  Certainly this body could not gain new life.  We will return to this in a moment, but let us recall our Psalm from today, “The stone that the builder has rejected, has become the corner stone.”

Secondly, returning to how weighty Peter’s statement is, one must wonder how Peter went from hiding in the Cenacle to proclaiming Jesus in the Temple, the setting for today’s first reading.  All the Apostles, except St. John, hid once Jesus was captured.  And they remained in hiding for many days, perhaps weeks.  The first book following the Gospel, “The Acts of the Apostles” (from where we hear our first reading today) begins with Saints Peter and John preaching to the very people who condemned Jesus in the Temple. But how?

It is the RESURRECTION.   

It bears reapeating, IT IS THE RESURRECTION.

That is what differentiates us as Christians, and especially as Catholics.  We believe in life after death, everlasting life.  And we are called to eternal life in heaven, among all the angels and saints where we are called to be beyond joy.  We are called to be accepting of Christ and learning, learning to live His Gospel, his Way, imitating his life.

In today’s Gospel, we hear about those two favored Apostles again, Peter and John.  Saint Mary Magdalene calls them to see the empty tomb.  John arrives first (he is a bit younger) and waits for Peter.  Peter looks in and is confused.  In his mind he must be echoing the Magdala’s cry, “They have taken my Lord away and I do not know where they put him.”

Then John goes in and sees and he knows that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead.  The Son of God and the son of Mary has risen.

Imagine John’s delight knowing that it is all true.  Peter will also understand soon (and of course the Magdala). 

This is our faith.  This our faith, is on what we stake our claim on to the world.  We believe that God so loved the world he sent his only son to us, to you and to me.  Jesus is his son, flesh and bones like you and I but also, in this great mystery, the one true God.

The Christ came not for himself but for us, for our salvation to give us a share of his heavenly kingdom.  That is what Easter is about- that we are called out of this world to heaven...  That is why we are to recognize our earthly lives as a pilgrimage to heaven….  A place so fantastic that words cannot describe and as vivid as our imaginations are, they will always fall short.

We are called to eternity, heavenly bliss.  Not to a six figure job, not to that dream house, not to whatever we think will make us happy.  No, there are many good things but all of these things are misleading, they are false truths as compared to what we are truly called to.

We are called to live in Christ.  When we get this, and it is not easy, we have a profound sense of his love, God’s love for us and the world.  Once we receive this certain grace, then we are called to give it away to friends and yes, to strangers.  That is who God is, that is what truth is.  Truth is a person; he is Jesus Christ, who is God. 

Its not about material gifts, as fun and as important that Christmas is.  It is about something much greater: eternity.  Today, in the grace of this great feast we call Easter, we are called to accept this with our “eyes” of faith (like St. John), with our hearts (this is where our faith resides).  Faith is love, something that we cannot buy or sell.  Faith in God is love of God.  That is our great Easter mystery.  As the Psalmist says, let us rejoice and be glad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, April 16, 2011

Link to Today's Scripture

Palm Sunday.  The penultimate event during these days (second to The Paschal Mystery).

He who Is.

I am who Am.

He returns to Jerusalem finally.  He is heralded in triumph as the anticipated KING.

What can we say.....the Readings are profound (read them again).  Paul's masterful work in Philippians is known as the "Kenosis", a Greek word meaning "emptying".

Though he was in the form of God he took being God as not something to be grasped, so He became a SLAVE (Ph 2:6).

A slave?

Yes a slave.  A slave for love.  A slave for us....

God so loved the world, that He gave the world His only Son, born of a Virgin, from a far off land, the carpenter's boy.  He gave us Himself, all of Himself, emptying out Himself, his blood (Eucharist) and His water (baptism) that all who believed in Him may have eternal life. 
(Jn 3:16)

I suggest we walk around with this verse during Holy week, our immediate preparation for the Triduum, the Passion and Death of our Lord (bow) Jesus Christ.

He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life....our lives.

Say yes to HIM.............

Saturday, April 9, 2011

5th Sunday of Lent, April 10, 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel

{We will end our homily today with some contemplative thoughts that hopefully will carry us through the day and the week}

Today we will speak a bit about the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection from the dead.

But first, imagine you are surrounded by beautiful olive trees.  They are green, sturdy and thick.  The slope you are on is gentle and moving toward the valley below.  To the one side of the mount, there are thousands of gravesides, marked by their simplicity and their above ground tombs. On the other side of the valley is the ruins of a temple mount, its fortified wall still intact.  Within that wall is a glorious gate, once called the "Golden Gate" but now sealed up.

What are we speaking about?  The olive grove is in the Mount of Olives.  The valley below is the Kidron valley and the golden gate is the entranceway to the old city of Jerusalem.

 View of the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives.  Olive grove is in lower right (Gesthemane)  "Golden Gate" is walled up on other side of valley, in the top left portion of the picture.  The tombs are in the foreground.

At the end of time, the Messiah will walk down the hill through the valley and golden gate and walk into the "new" Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem.  This is essentially what we hear today from the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading (one of the great prophets of the Old Testament).  He says, "I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel."

We must remember an important tenet of O.T. prophecy, that God is speaking to us directly through his prophesized word, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So because Jesus is God, and is not confined by time or space, Ezekiel is speaking of the expectant Messiah “Jesus” when he says I will open your graves and have you rise from them.

In our reading from Paul, who is arguably the greatest prophet of the New Testament, the Apostle tells us how we can be resurrected.  We must live in the Spirit.  "The Spirit will give life to your mortal bodies also, through the Spirit dwelling within you". What does this mean?

Firstly, we receive the Spirit in the Sacraments.  This Sunday I will have the privilege to Baptize 9 babies.  The babies will receive the Spirit of God in their Baptism, they will be marked forever by Christ, conformed to Him who is God.  This comes to them through the actions of the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of the priest or deacon.

We also receive the Spirit in all the other Sacraments.  Especially in Holy Communion, the sweetest and most sublime of all the Sacraments.  But let us discuss a few others.

In reconciliation, as difficult as this has become in a world that wants to marginalize religious practice, we receive the Spirit through the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.  That is what absolution is and it can lead to profound grace, an indwelling of the Spirit for a prolonged period of time.  This can be very powerful and helpful, affirming our spiritual journey.

In Marriage, a man and a women offer their consent to each other, which is witnessed by God.  This promise is that they will no longer live for themselves but for the family they are about to create.  We do this in Church so as to receive the grace of the Sacrament, present before the living Lord in the Tabernacle (the Eucharistic Species).

So, you see, the Spirit is visibly present in the Sacraments, through the actions of the minister and then received by those who are recipients of these powerful gifts of Christ through His Church. 

In our Gospel today we hear the powerful story of Lazarus, the man who was dead who is risen by Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  It is a powerful story.  It is a story that is heard at many funerals, perhaps one that we may remember.

One of the reasons that we hear it so much is because we hear that Jesus weeps when he realize how frustrated are those at him because he allowed it to happen.  Our Lord is saddened and frustrated not by Lazarus' death and its emotional effects on the man's kin.  The Messiah is saddened and frustrated because his closest disciples do not yet realize that Jesus has come to destroy death forever, not just in the temporal sense.

Lazarus, surely, will die again after this episode.  If he didn't than certainly we would all be hearing about it on the news, that there is a 2000 something year old man roaming the earth.  No, our Lord lifts Lazarus so as to indicate that he himself will too rise on Easter morning.
Let us recapitulate or “re-cap” what we just have been hearing:
·        At the end of time, Jesus will raise the faithful from our graves and lead us into heaven.  We refer to this in scripture as the New Jerusalem.
·        The Spirit or Holy Spirit is present in the world from the beginning of time and has inspired prophets to speak the word of God.
·        The Spirit animates the Seven Sacraments of the Church.  We discussed Baptism, Eucharist briefly, Reconciliation and Marriage.
·        Our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead for a time, to prepare his disciples to understand Our Lord’s  bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday before his ascension into heaven.

In one weeks time we will celebrate Palm Sunday, that day 2000 years ago when our Lord enters Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.  Today, as we enter our last week of Lent….
we pray for the resurrection of the body and the Spirit that is coming on let us:
  • Return to the Spirit we hear so much about and contemplate the Third Person of the known Triune God (known through our human limitations)
  • Let us dwelling in the Spirit, contemplate our lives........
  • Let us rmember that at Mass, the Spirit will change the gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord.  The Real Presence of God through the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • This precious Blessed Sacrament, the sweetest bread from heaven is administered through the Holy Ministry of Priesthood..............

Thursday, March 31, 2011

4th Sunday of Lent, April 3 2011 (Cycle A)

Today's Readings, Psalm and Gospel passage
Everyone loves an underdog.  We are usually reminded of this at this time of year when the national collegiate basketball tournament is going on.  There are usually one or two teams that come "out of nowhere" to upset some of the more well known powerhouse teams, with their vintage recruiting classes and posessing popular acclaim.

Today we hear in our first reading about how David became king.  David a true underdog, who was the shepherd boy and the least of his brethren.  So much so that he was an afterthought of his own Father when Samuel came to anoint the new King of Israel.  "He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance.  But, not as man sees does God see, the Lord looks into the heart."  The Lord knew that David was capable of being a heroic figure and at the core of his heart knew that his place was to live as a servant of the Lord.

Isn't it ironic, that 3500 years after David walked the earth, Michelangelo was staring at a piece of marble that was marked for discard because it was flawed.  Yet the great sculptor took the rock and found the beauty within it to create the famous statue, "The David".  As if God helped Michelangelo look past the flaws, the ones that the men see and into the heart of the precious stone.  Because of what Michelangelo did with its flaw critics universally acclaim its beauty and significance.  They say the statue signifies two things: David is poised and ready to strike yet passive and relaxed.
Today we hear about the miracle of the blind man given sight in John's Gospel.  The man who stood by and begged all these years and was ignored by the Pharisees because he was "unclean" and flawed.  

He is given the remedy by the true Messiah, who fashions his ointment out of the earth, reminding us of how man was created.  Jesus sends him then to a purification bath, honoring the established law.  But the Pharisees refuse to believe that this is a divine healing and then condemn it because it was done on the Sabbath.

Today's scripture reminds us that God works in unforeseen ways.  God's grace is overflowing as long as we use our eyes of faith to see.  The  blind man is healed and the Jewish leaders are caught up in his supposed sinfulness and then how the remedy violates the sabbath laws.

Today we are called to be open to faith and to see the things of God with new vision.  David is called and relies on God to give him the strength to be courageous and lead.  He remains faithful and mindfully humbles himself before God which is the true testament to his greatness.  How far have the Pharisees fallen when all they can do is look for the "technicality" to beat down the grace of the Messiah's work.

We are like the blind man who no longer is in the dark.  He and we are given the blessing to "see" the world in a different way.  Afterward, we are called to recognize the origin of the gift, the sacrificial Messiah; to give praise where praise is due.  Then we can realize that our faith is a gift, and if we are open to its graces, then it is no longer I who see, but Christ who sees through me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Third Sunday of Lent, March 27, 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to Todays Readings, Psalm and Gospel

Thirst.  Today we hear some about being thirsty and needing water.  First in our reading from Exodus, the chosen people "grumble" to Moses about the lack of water in the desert.  Then in the Gospel the Samaritan woman fetches a drink of water for Jesus from Jacob's well.

The Gospel story of the Samaritan women has much depth.  First, we must understand that it was forbidden for Jewish leaders to interact with Samaritans.  This is because the Jews and Samaritans were rivals from the time of the Exodus, in the 6th Century B.C.  Most all of the Jews were killed or driven off into exile by the Babylonians.  Somehow the people of Samaria escaped being exiled.  Upon their return, the Jews and Samaritans no longer had a common history, and became adversaries.

Secondly, a Jewish man, a rabbi in this case, Jesus, would also not be permitted to converse with a women.  Gender divisions were very deep and well known at the time of Second Temple Judaism.  In fact, during the seasonal pilgrimages "up" to Jerusalem during the feasts, men and women would travel separately.

Nonetheless our Lord asks the women for a drink because he thirsts.  He thirsts yes for water but also for her soul as he gently corrects her poor choices of moral behavior and reveals himself as Lord to her.  This is an indication of how wide spread the Gospel message is intended.  She runs back home to inform her village.  We can see from the disciples reactions how radical this idea is, that salvation comes from the Jews yet is for all.

Later in John, at the cross, our Lord will say again, "I thirst" (Jn 19:28).  He does so to indicate to us in a timeless fashion that he thirsts for our love, so He can instill in us His grace.

Lots of times our inner faith is likened to a inner vessel or reservoir; it is at varying stages of fullness throughout our spiritual lives.  St. Paul reminds us today in Romans that hope, a theological virtue, does not disappoint.  He says it is like the love of God that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  Namely at our Baptism and Confirmation.  These are good images that depict our inner reservoir longing to be filled with the Holy Spirit, our true tonic.  His reference to hope leads us to consolation.

The image above is one that you would see at any of the Missionaries of Charity foundations, Mother Theresa's order.  She realized that His thirst was insatiable, that he wanted to drink us up in His love so as to fill our reservoirs with His love.  Mother Theresa certainly showed a profound and extraordinary response to his invitation by her devotion to Him and His little ones through her service to the most marginalized of society.

Today those who will be received into the Church at Easter receive their first scrutiny.  The purpose of this prayer is to help them prepare to receive the Spirit at Easter in its fullest.  Let us then join our prayers to theirs that their thirst will be satisfied by His love and His grace; that hope in Him and His resurrection does not disappoint.  Let us join them as we receive his sacrificial offering, his body to feed us and his blood to quench our thirst as we move in this world towards our eternal calling, life forever with Him in heaven.

Second Sunday of Lent , March 20, 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to today's Readings, Psalm and Gospel

When in the Holy Land, there is a profound sense of mystery.  One of the reasons for this is the reason our seminary Rector, Monsignor Peter I. Vaccari has given.  He said that the "land" is the fifth Gospel.  What he is insinuating is that once you walk the land, see the "wadis", canyons, desert as well as the "fertile plains", everything changes with respect to your study of scripture.  You can make an "Application of the Senses", one of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  You can imagine the places that Jesus (and other biblical characters) visited, walked and talked about.
Info on "The Spiritual Exercises"
You can see (I hope) from this aerial picture of Jerusalem, the "City on a Hill" that the fertile plain of Jerusalem stands out from the surrounding Judean desert.  The reason for this is that there are many underground springs feeding the soil of the plateau on the city that King David built, 3000 years ago.  This makes it a giant oasis in the desert and undoubtedly an important piece of land to possess, notwithstanding its spiritual significance.

It was the place that Abram (later Abraham), the subject of the today's first Reading from Genesis encountered the priest-king Melchizadek, offering him 10% of his wealth for his sacrificial blessing (Genesis 14:17-24).  It was the place that God directed Abram to go, leaving behind his relatives and friends for an uncertain future, a future guided by his eventual covenant relationship with YHWH (FAITH).  This would be a relationship of mutual trust that sprang the great Judeo-Christian era that we live in today.  Abram became Abraham, the father of our faith and our first Prophet.

In our Gospel from Mathew, we hear about the "Transfiguration".  Jesus is changed on Mt. Tabor.
Mount Tabor (Hebrew: הַר תָּבוֹר‎‎, Arabic: {جبل الطور }, Greek: Όρος Θαβώρ) is located in Lower Galilee, at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel.

On this important site Jesus is changed into what some scholars call his "glorified body".  This is what his heavenly body looks like, "His face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light" (see today's Gospel).  Here Sts. Peter, James and John hear the heavenly Father's voice, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  This scared them.  Jesus tells them to not be afraid and then orders them to be silent.

How will we be transfigured this Lent?  Will we react to the Gospel in a new way, or when Easter arrives will we fall back into our "old ways".  Let us make an attempt then this Easter to follow him more closely by ingraining some of our Lenten practices into our daily habits, rather than simply discarding them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

1st Sunday of Lent, 13 March 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to Todays Readings, Psalm and Holy Gospel

We pause for a moment to pray in solidarity for the tragic victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.....especially for the untold number of friends and relatives in the NY metro area who are suffering.........for the dead, Requiem et Pacem.!

Imagine a perfect world.  Easier yet, imagine what our own perfect world would look like.  Perhaps, if you like luxury cars, one day you would look out your window and find your "dreammobile" sitting in your driveway with a big red bow on it.

Perhaps your dream world would be no dishes to clean.  You could have a wonderful banquet with all of your favorite guests, living and dead, celebrity or long lost friend; any makeup whatsoever that you could dream of.

The kids would always play "nice", and bring home straight "A" report cards to boot.  College funds?  Forgettaboughtit...........full scholarship to the best "Ivy League" schools.

Oh yes, and the family dog.  What dream could be complete without the family pet.  He/She never sheds, never "begs" for food and takes care of cleaning up after themselves.  'Nuff said.

That image for us, whatever we conjure could be the Garden of Eden.

 Jacob de Backer ca. 1555, Antwerp, Belgium - ca. 1585, Antwerp, Belgium School: Flemish

 The Garden of Eden is the subject of our first reading from Genesis and is a simple way of presenting paradise to us, in a way that we can understand today as easy as early biblical man could thousands of years ago.  The point is that Adam and Eve, our first parents, had it all.  They lived in a beautiful garden, surrounded by interesting creatures and had wont for nothing.  God was in their midst and he gave them perfect freedom and just one simple rule to follow: do not eat of the "Tree of Knowledge".  Why?  Because it would corrupt them and ruin their perfect relationship with Him forever. 

As we move into our first full week of lent..........first let us recall our mortifications: fasting, penance and almsgiving.  Let us renew our resolve.  If our resolve is weak than let us completely renew our resolve by taking a different approach this week.  If we gave up sweets and this has failed then let us promise to pray more every day (rosary, novena, quiet time set aside for private prayer).  If prayer hasn't worked than perhaps almsgiving: let us volunteer at the "soup kitchen" or habitat for humanity one weekend.  You get the point.  Mortify ourselves to be in stronger communion with Him, the Christ.

Finally (I have to be brief today), let us remember that Christ renews all things in us.  All things!  

St. Paul explains to us in the proclamation from Romans today that Jesus literally reverses the effects of Original Sin.  What Adam has failed in doing (or not doing) Christ has succeeded in accomplishing.  "It is finished (complete)", we hear Our Lord say in John's Gospel, when he hands over His Spirit and dies on the cross (Jn 19:30). 
Bible Quote Here

 Jesus' perfect obedience nullifies Adams perfect disobedience, therefore we are called to salvation by his eternal, profound act of charity; this alone merits our call.  There is nothing you or I can do to merit eternal salvation, the heavenly kingdom or our "Garden of Eden" ourselves.  God did it for us.  Then, now and forever.  

We need only to love Him beyond all else, and learn to live in communion with him and each other.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Great Lenten Blog

My brother seminarians have a great site (also in the "My Blogs" section to the right)
Journey Towards Easter
Happy Lent!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Miserere mei Domine:  Have mercy on me, God, in your compassion blot out my offense (Psalm 51)
Link to today's Readings, Psalm and Gospel

Ash Wednesday is a very interesting day in our Catholic liturgical year.  It is one of our busiest days yet it is not an official "holy day of obligation."  Each parish usually has many opportunities for the faithful to receive "ashes" both after Mass or at other liturgies (and sometimes in between).  When we approach to receive our ashes from the minister, we hear one of two proclamations, “remember that dust you are, and to dust you shall return,” or "repent and believe in the Gospel."  These are important "invitations" for us to consider for Lent, to which we will return to shortly.

In today's first reading from the Prophet Joel, we hear:

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.

Our God is communicating through Joel*, who at least 500 years before Christ (B.C.), that we must deny ourselves to understand our merciful God.  YHWH is communicating an important message through Joel that we are all called to holiness, that this is achieved through God's grace and our cooperation.  Our cooperation begins with prayer, fasting and alms-giving.  That is why later in the passage we hear Joel say, "Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast."  How can it be that a fast, depriving ourselves of sustenance can be something to be proclaimed?

For an answer we turn to St. Paul who in today's reading, a proclamation to the Church in Corinth, says we are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20).  For us to be ambassadors to the One who is God and the One who is sinless and perfect, than we must enjoin to purify ourselves by sanctification. 

In our Gospel from St. Mathew, we hear that we are to pray to God privately.  Our Lord is making a profound statement about how humility is a virtue and pride is a vice.  He says this to counter the Pharisees who loved to pray and lament in public exposing their pride and lacking humility.  They were filled with sinful pride.  St. Augustine (late 4th early 5th C), when defining the seven "Deadly Sins" (not official Dogma, but helpful here) called Pride the worst.

Pride is evil and drives man to do evil things.  Think about some of the contemporary tragedies in the news.  Dictator autocrats are falling from power in the mid-east region.  Here in the U.S. we are still recovering from the great financial crisis of 2008, the worst since the tragedy of the Great Depression, 75 years ago.  And even our local baseball team, The Mets cannot escape the wrath of the great Madoff,  Ponzi Scheme caper.

The tragedies go beyond these events.  This is so because we have seen these things before.  Dictator types seem to always re-emerge in another marginalized nation to grab power with the "solution".  The Great Depression spawned legislation to prevent financial meltdown like ours from occurring again, until these laws were repealed in the 1980s and 90s.  This allowed our banks and financial institutions to become "too big to fail"; hence trillions of dollars in tax payer funded "bail-outs".  Every licensed financial broker must know how to recognize "Ponzi Schemes" to pass their licensing exams.  Yet somehow the "loopholes" are exploited.

These things are pure evil.  They recur because they appeal to our greatest vice, pride.  Unfortunately, St. Augustine was right, these sins can be deadly. 

Part of what Lent represents for us is solidarity in prayer.  We pray in petition for our own sanctification: that we may become more obvious of our misdeeds.  We also pray for the sins of the world.  Things like the obvious: dictators who oppress the marginalized
and here locally the health of our government and our economy.  Our prayer is a petition to God to make things right by relieving the suffering of the world.  He does this through our collective human conscience.

On Ash Wednesday we are signed with ashes for at least two good reasons.  First, we are signed with the Cross.  This is the mark of our salvation.  This is our identity as Christian.  This is the means for our expiation; our share in the heavenly kingdom guaranteed by Christ for those who turn to him and away from sin and evil.

Second, we are signed with ASHES.  This is because our mortal bodies will become dust once we are dead.  It is a reminder that we are human, that we are predisposed to sin (Original).  But the good news that the Gospel teaches us that we are redeemed by the Son of God, our Savior and our Messiah who gives us His seven sacraments to counter those "deadly" seven vices.

Ultimately we are called to the heavenly kingdom instead of our earthly abodes.  But one reason that He put us here is to help Him in our tiny ways (gifts and blessings) to bring others to the light.

So this Ash Wednesday we are invited to be signed in Christ.  Get your ashes early if you can.  Wear them proudly on the center of your foreheads.  You will be surprised how much respect you will garner for Him, and how He will shower you with grace.  And I would bet that you might even encounter a stranger who asks where he/she can get ashes for themselves, an amazing grace!  It is amazing what can happen when we trust in Him who is, "The Way, the Truth and the Life" and shows us the only way to the Father's kingdom, where there are many, many rooms for all who seek it (Jn 14:2-6).

*Joel (Hebrew: יואל‎) was a prophet of ancient Israel, the second of the twelve minor prophets and the author of the Book of Joel.
Joel: wikipedia

Saturday, March 5, 2011

9th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A (Last Sunday Before Lent)

Link to Today's Scripture
Dt 11:18, 26-28, 32, Ps 31:2-3, 3-4, 17, 25, Rom 3:21-25, 28

Many years ago there was an "ad campaign" on TV; I remember seeing it as a young boy.  Apparently there was a real problem with public littering on our streets and in our cities.  The public service commercial showed an American Indian, or Native American Chief, in full regalia walking around.  He looked ashamedly at all these trash pits along the sides of our roads.  After seeing people dispose of their trash by throwing it out of their moving cars he turns to the camera.  With a face that seems expressionless, he continues to turn into view and you see the "hook".  There is a profound sense of sadness about this man, this no longer brave and courageous warrior chieftain.  He is crying, judging by the tear streaming down his cheek.

It was a brilliant campaign, and I can remember still being little and noticing these abandoned lots where there was much trash.  I got the point.  And seemingly so did the target audience because the litter problem seemed to dissipate; it is not quite the problem today that it once was, at least that is my perception.

We begin with this image to draw our attention to our collective conscience, as a society and our individual consciences as people of God.  Regardless of our ethnicity, creed or color; we are all people that are created by God.  We are, as Ezekiel says (11:19), created with a clean heart, and God's natural law is written on it.

Today’s readings are similarly connected with this thread.  We, as people of the Judeo-Christian tradition have received God as revealed to man in His sacred word, and then eventually as Jesus Christ the Word made Flesh.

First we hear from Moses, the great Prophet of the Jews, extol his people to live by the commandments.  If they shun "the law" then they will be cursed.  Our Psalmist extols us to ask God to be our rock, our foundation the stable ground under our proverbial feet.  St. Paul tells us, perhaps in his greatest Epistle (Romans) that Christ has completed the eternal sacrifice for us.  No longer do we need to make our own sacrifice.  The only necessity is to trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who had Faith in the Father's will.  That faith now is his testimony to us to believe in his paschal sacrifice which satisfies and justifies our eternal reward: the heavenly kingdom.

In Mark, Jesus tells the disciples not to "fake it"; that will get them no where.  They are to genuinely live the Gospel and not be showboats.  This is a thinly veiled rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees who liked to publicly profess their faith and then privately treat the law with contempt, especially in their treatment of those marginalized by their gender, physical handicap or lack of wealth (widows).

Instead he says our testimony of faith in him, by listening to and conforming to His teaching (as difficult as it is) will rise to heaven.  He alludes to the Psalmist we heard earlier by using the metaphor of building a house on rock or sand.  We all know that rock makes the best foundation.  Just look at the sturdy NY skyline built on the bedrock of Manhattan Island.  Jesus is the eternal rock, the foundation of our faith and it is He who assures us of our place in heaven.

We are shifting from Ordinary Time into Lent, beginning next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday.  Lent is a time for penance: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  These are necessary steps for our sanctification, or purification.  We remember how often Jesus went off alone to pray in the Gospels, especially after his Baptism in the Jordan by John (the Baptist).  He spent 40 days in the desert, praying, fasting and was tempted by the devil three times (Mt 4:1-11).  In fact this is next weeks Gospel, the first Sunday of Lent.

Why is our fasting important?  Why should we take our Lenten penance seriously?  Why do we deny ourselves "meat" on Fridays?  Why do we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

One reason is because that is what we do as Catholics, it is our unique identity.  The Jews fast on Yom Kippur, their day of atonement and mortify themselves (give up electricity and their cars, etcetera ....) on the Sabbath.  Muslims fast during their holy month of Ramadan.  But there is a difference for us....

We do this ultimately in solidarity with Him, Jesus Christ, who is God.  He became man for us, for our salvation.  This is a great act of Love by the Triune God who needs nothing, not even our response.

Then the Son, as man, subjected himself to the most dreadful death imagined by the harshest perceivable means.
This is not "Catholic Guilt" or its formal definition, Jansenism (a declared heresy).  This is how much God loves us by sending his Son out of love for you and me so we may believe in God through the actions of the Son, to live by his teaching bringing all who we encounter closer to Him (Jn 3:16f).

Let us then take this Lent seriously.  It is a time for mortification.  A time for healing.  It is the place where we clear out the things of our being that block our ability to love Him, and each other.  If we do it well we learn (again) that are only true yearning is God, and He is our ultimate joy and fulfillment.

Then again, this year on April 24, we remember that He rose from the dead.  Calling us to new life, eternal life in heaven with Him...and all the Angels and Saints, who praise and glorify God, where there is only joy, and pure and brilliant light, the light of God forever, perfect LOVE.  Amen.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday February 27, 2011: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Readings: Is 49:14-15, Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9, 1 Cor 4:1-5
Gospel:   Mt 6:24-34

Note:  Readings and Gospel are available at, under "Readings" tab, then select date.

This week we have very rich readings from scripture to draw upon.  First we must understand the word "mammon" that Jesus uses in today's Gospel (Mathew 6:24- you cannot serve both God and mammon).  Simply put, mammon is the love of the material aspects of the world.  More specifically it can mean the love of money, the thing that St. Paul warns against in a Reading outside of today's "canon".  St. Paul says, "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).  Whether it is the acquisition of money that motivates us in life, and sometimes it does; or the material excesses that money can enable us to purchase, our Lord warns us that we cannot possess both God and mammon.  We must make a choice.

In our Reading from 2nd Isaiah, we hear a plea for God to be present; to not forget Zion. This short passage closes with the consolation that YHWH cannot forget His people, he is eternally faithful (hesed).  The Psalmist (Ps 62) then exhorts us very beatifully to "Rest in God alone, my soul".  This is a good anthem to pray when we seek the Lord's consolation at times of personal trial.  In St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "The Apostle" exhorts his followers in Corinth not to judge others.  Corinth is a very wealthy city that features those who would knowingly worship mammon.  We are to leave this instead to Christ, the final judge.

Why not mammon?  First it would be helpful to understand how this mammon manifests itself today. 

We have all probably seen at least one of these car commercials on TV around Christmas: invariably it is a luxury brand automobile company, featuring one of its models.  The car has a big red bow on top and usually features a short artistic profile of the giver and the receiver being full of joy.  They have arrived! 

This advertisement, which plays out in less than 45 seconds, leaves us feeling as if we are sharing the euphoria of the young attractive couple.  Sometimes it seems as if they are newly in love, and other times it is shown with the young family, including their small children rejoicing together.  It appeals to our subconscious.  Once this message is accepted into our minds then our emotions begin to react: get that car and you will arrive in style, and become happy and joyous forever.

Perhaps not.  There are so many things wrong with this image that we must comprehend its errors, for the sake of our eternal souls. 

Now do not misinterpret my reading of this.  Cars are a good, perhaps even luxury brands.
However, our deepest yearning is a relationship with God*.  We are longing to be on a journey of discovery.  One which we begin to comprehend the spirit that animates our souls.  This is God who creates us Imago Dei.  We are created in His image and likeness (as we see in the very beggining of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1 verse 27).  And He loves us beyond comprehension.  We experience His love especially on this journey to which we are all called in our own unique way.

Returning to the automobile advertisement, this "ad" taps into our yearning, albeit a false one.  It is a smart tactic that probably some Madison Avenue advertising firm was paid top dollar for.  But it is a terrible lie.  One that can literally derail us.  This suggests that our happiness resides in "things gotten".  Especially when we "buy into" this false philosopy of living (materialism), it informs us that we are ordered to this world (or we should be ordered to this world), the world that is passing away (1 Jn 2:17).

Instead Jesus offers a correction, a solution to our false yearnings.  Remember Christ encounters many "materialist", many who worship mammon.  These are those who prefer the world to God.  For instance, He is always encountering the Pharisees and Scribes, who want to challenge His reading of the "Law".  They want the status quo and He who Is affirms the correct teachings that these scholars of the day understand but disavows laws and traditions that do not reflect the Father's mercy and love.  Some of these misinterpreted laws and traditions help these Jewish leaders of the day remain in power and in a status of real fiscal wealth.

Jesus says in today's Gospel, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all it's righteousness, and everything that you need to live will be given to you."  Profoundly simple.  Stop worrying, achieving, making our "own beds" in which we must then sleep.  Think of those people we know who have success and then yearn to move up.  They find a better "dream house", bigger and more luxurious transportation and more exotic destinations to visit.  Then one day they come upon hardship.  Real hardship.  Perhaps the loss of a job, or illness or tragedy.  And their world of mammon collapses, their spiritual shallowness becomes exposed.  Sadly and too frequently they become physically and emotionally frail.  Some even perish.

Today Jesus offers us the alternative, Himself.  He who Is manifests God for us in His human flesh.  He who teaches us who God really is through his words, lessons, deeds and ultimately His paschal sacrifice on The Cross.

He who is, "The Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6).  This is his response in The Gospel of John when His Apostles ask him for encouragement.  They do not know what they will face when Jesus is gone but we could speculate that they were scared when they heard these words at this Last Supper account.

The Pharisees and Scribes rejected Him and His message, two millenia ago.  In fact, most of the world did then and perhaps most of it rejects Him even today.  We must remember first His eternal sacrifice that he made for our redemption at The Cross.  It is also helpful to remember that all of the Apostles, except John**, became willing Martyrs for the faith as well after witnessing the resurrected and glorified Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

Today on this Sunday, let us then approach him at the altar of sacrifice at our Mass.  Here we remember his sacrifice, join it to our own in communion with Him and His Bride, the Church.  Then we receive His precious Body and Blood, the Bread of Life that can nourish us on our earthly pilgrimmage to Heaven.  A pilgrimmage in which we are offered a choice: to worship the eternal triune God, or things of the world.

*See St. Augustine's masterpiece, The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book I, Chapter 1.

**One interpretation of St. John the Evangelist dying a natural death is this:
God spared St. John the Evangelist the death of a Martyr as scripture reveals (Jn 21:23), perhaps so that the New Testament Canon could be completed by him.  Many scholars attribute to him the Gospel of John, three Letters and probably the Book of Revelation, all of which is believed to have been written after 90 A.D.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Readings: Lv 19:1-2, 17-18, Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13, 1 Cor 3:16-23
Gospel:  Mathew Chapter 5, verses 38 to 48 (inclusive)

Hate is a strong word.

Websters (online) defines it as, "(An) intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury" and, "Extreme dislike or antipathy: Loathing."

In todays Gospel, We hear Jesus who speaks about hate.

“You have heard that it was said,
 You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust..."

I grew up in a very large household.  There were nine of us, ten including my grandmother "Nana", who lived with us for a time.  Have you ever heard of sibling rivalry?  I never did until I studied psychology as a young student.  Sibling rivalry is a complex phrase which essentially means jealously.  Jealousy is never good.  Jealousy can ruin relationships.

When we grew up my Mom was a devout Catholic,  She has passed on since.  But back then she loved her devotional prayer.  She prayed for the dead, she always insisted on us saying grace before dinner, (led by our Father) and all her children asked permission before leaving the table when we were finished eating her mostly delectable foods.  She always implored us to pray to St. Anthony for most everything while she prayed her novena to St. Jude.

I am the sixth of seven children, the youngest boy.  The "baby" is my little sister, in fact I still refer to her this way.  She is 44 and a mother of her own now with three little ones, and a good wife to a good husband for many years.

When we were very young, we were like peas in a pod.  She and I would always be playing together, sometimes much to my chagrin.  In fact, I can never remember wanting to play with her when she had friends over but she always was inserting herself into my "play dates."

In fact once, my Jewish friend Robert was over playing and he crashed his big wheel into her mini plastic ATV and she cried.  Dad heard the wails and screams and that was the end of the play date, he sent Robert home.  She could really cry well.  Unfortunately Robert never made it back to our home.  That said, Dad was right; my baby sister could have been hurt.

I remember too, that as the baby of the family she got all the attention.  This I didn't like at all.  So I figured out a way to counter this.  I simply ignored her when she wanted something from me.  And it worked, until one day she found the magic words, "I hate you Dennis."  That hurt.  It hurt bad, and, it probably got the desired result as far as she was concerned.

Today we heard the end of this great and eternal homily of our Lord, the Sermon on the Mount.  Great because in one short passage he gives us so much to think about, to pray about and to practice for our lives.  Eternal because he is eternal, with no beginning, no end; the Word made Flesh (Jn 1:1f).  Lastly, eternal because this scripture resonates with us today as much or more than two thousand years ago on the mount of Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee.  These things that Jesus gives us are crucial to our happiness.  True happiness is grace; pure consolation from God.

Jesus is speaking about hate, to teach us how to love.  Jesus mentions hate so that we learn how to love like God.  Perfect love.  Jesus teaches us about hate so that we can learn how to forgive, even the greatest of sins, trespasses and personal affronts.

A word about forgiveness.  Forgiving never means forgetting.  Sometimes the sin is too great to forget, but we must always forgive.  This means that we cannot hate the one who affronted us, even the most terrible unjustified actions that are waged against us.  We remember what hurt us so that we can avoid future encounters with the pain, and perhaps even the source of our pain.  God never equals pain.

An old wise priest once told me how he treats his "enemies".  First he informs whoever they are that they made it on to his "list".  I am not sure how long the list is but I can tell you that I am very glad that I am not one of this priest's enemies.  However, when you are on his list he promises you three things:
1.  His prayers
2.  His favor(s)
3.  His awareness (he will keep an eye out for you)

I think this is a good practice.  I can honestly say I have tried this once and so far it has worked out.  It is not easy, this wisdom passed on from the old wise priest.  But lots of times the right thing to do does not come easy.

[Note to self:(pray for _________.)]

Ultimately though, for now we are trapped here in our mortal, earthly bodies.  We are called to the perfect kingdom, despite our weaknesses,  where there will be no crying, no despair, no sadness: only perfect bliss, beyond all imagining, where all our questions will be answered and our truest desires satisfied (Rev 21:4f). 

If we want living models to follow we need only turn to the saints.  A great introduction to learning how to follow the saints is Jesuit Father James Martin's book, My Life with the Saints.  Simply put, the Saints are people who learned how to do ordinary things in an extra-ordinary way.  Things like charity, good works and unselfishness.  Saints understand love, Divine love, and the best part about the saints is they want to be our friends, here and now, to help us on our way home to heaven.

God comes to us as a person: Jesus.  He who once walked the earth as man is teaching us through scripture, teaching us through the great wisdom and tradition of our Catholic faith, handed down for 50 generations.  My friends our Church too is eternal, like Christ, in fact we are His bride His spouse.  Want some evidence?  There is no institution in the world beside our Church that was here 50 generations ago.  The Holy Temple of Jerusalem is gone.  The Roman Empire, the greatest of "civilizations" is gone.  We cannot even be assured that our great country will stand in the end.

Jesus promises us in scripture that our Church will exist until the end of time, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against us (Mathew 16:18).

It is important to know and accept that Jesus is also God.  He is not just a man who once walked the earth saying and doing marvelous things.  That description fits St. Francis of Assisi and scores and scores of Saints, known and unknown.  Jesus is God.  God is Jesus. Francis was a man who became a saint, but he is not God.

Finally, we hear again today Jesus correct Moses' teaching by telling us we must move beyond the minimum.  Moses says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  This is just partially right  To understand this completely, our Lord wants us to concentrate on the first part of today's reading from Leviticus: “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy."

Holiness.  Why?  Because God who is holiness perfected, can only Love.  God is Love.  Love is God.  God cannot turn away from us, even the worst of us.  In fact only the opposite can be possible, because as our Psalmist says, "The Lord is kind and merciful."  Our God is a god of infinite mercies, He is Love.

And He is just...
and He is faithful...
and He is.....perfect Love....

I love my sisters, all of them.  Although I remember to this day that terrible insult so long ago, I forgave my "baby sister" many, many times over. And later when we were young adults, I poked my nose into her business in a very nasty way, far surpassing her verbal insults of me as a child.  Both our trespesses, her to mine and mine to hers were ultimately driven by jealousy, the source of all disunity.  I know in my heart that she too has forgiven me of my trespasses.  In fact we are very close today, she, as a wife and mother is one of my true heroes, I love her beyond words...

71/2 years ago she asked me to be Godfather to her youngest Son.  He is amazing.  He is her third child and he is the baby.  And when I spend time with him it is never enough.  I always try to give him whatever he needs, being careful to try not to give him everything that he wants.   But I fail probably more than I succeed which is OK, because he is in very capable hands with my Sister and her husband and his older brother and sister.  Ultimately he, that little baby boy, is with Christ.  This is because he was Baptized 7 years ago....what else could a child want, but a share of Christ's kingdom in heaven?  I am sure there are lots of big wheels there.  And they never crash into little plastic ATVs.

I hope you never hear the "H" word in your households and I know the sister I love with all my heart and soul never really meant it.

Thanks be to God.......who is the Father of all unity, of communion and the reconciler of all sin (jealousy) and division.....great and small like.  The God who gives us His Son in the Eucharist, today and forever.

{Copyright 2011 D.A. Suglia, all rights reserved}