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Saturday, October 3, 2020

St Francis of Assisi

  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." Lk 10:13

The name Francis remains in the forefront of the news these days. Pope Francis has made it so, but it is not always laudatory. Humble, honest, and unafraid to speak his mind, our Pope has challenged us to face the sexual abuse crisis head on and captivated the imagination of many around the world especially with his call to Care for all Creation. Calling the church to return to its foundations, Pope Francis is living up to his name, and although, like St Francis, he is making some Catholics nervous, he is doing what he promised when first elected.

St Francis of Assisi not only thought about the poor, he became poor and allowed God to turn his life upside down. Like the 3rd century martyr, St Maximilian, who said "I am a solder of Christ, I cannot fight," Francis fought not for dominance over his neighbors but for Gospel purity. Wanting to live so poorly that he and his brothers would have nothing to defend, he directed the friars to own nothing, eventually convincing the Roman hierarchy to approve their way of life. Francis' example continues to inspire thousands of women and men today.

Today, live simply so that others can live.

What should be our response to the poor?

Friday, October 2, 2020

Let the Children Teach Us

 “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."  Lk 10:21

What is it about children that causes Jesus to hold them up as icons? Surely, they are charming and innocent, but there is more. Children live in awe and wonder. They see without blinders. They don't interpret what they see as much as delight in it, and in all of this, they teach us. Unlike the leaders of the Jewish community who are looking for ways to undermine Jesus, they don't care if he claims to be the Messiah. They only want to be close to him.

It should not surprise us that children are naturally contemplative, able to play or work at a project for hours without noticing the time. So fascinated are they by what is right in front of them, they are not easily distracted and teach us how to live fully each day. Jesus' praise for children is well founded and natural when we take time to reflect upon it.

Today, let your spirit be distracted by the awesome beauty of the world.

What most distracts you from living each day with joy and delight?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Guardian Angels

 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Mt 18:10

Most of us work diligently not to despise anyone or anything, trying always to think of all creation as a gift from God. Nevertheless, we slip, we sin, we fail. In recent days, the actions of our Congress have led many to despise the intransigence of those we have elected to serve, but whose behavior too often seems self protective and rigid. Because we so need our representatives to remember all the people of this nation, especially the poor, we expect them to have the comprehensive and inclusive view of what a stoppage in government service might mean for the neediest of our citizens.

When Jesus wants his disciples and opponents to understand fully his attitude towards them and his expectations of them, he reminds them to look at children as icons of humility. Children, he insists, can teach all what it means to understand greatness. We are not called to dominate or manipulate others, but to serve one another like children and slaves, and to be innocent, vulnerable and alert to everything and everyone around us, especially the poor.

Today, remember that there are angels around us to protect us.

How do you counter arrogance in yourself and others?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

St Therese of the Child Jesus

 “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (Lk 10:21)


Therese of Lisieux, who came to prominence at a time when the world was experiencing two world wars and violence of a kind never seen before, was one of the most popular saints of the 20th century. Therese’s “little way” made sense to the people of the United States who were overwhelmed by the loss of husbands, children, brothers and friends in wars fought far from home. Living each day with simplicity, handing one’s life over to God, and offering “every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love,” helped people who were being bombarded with painful news on a daily basis.

In recent days, Russia and United States have tried to broker a cease fire in Syria but it quickly fell apart.  We cannot help but wonder where the violence will end, and whether there isn't another way of responding to ISIS whose tactics are so overwhelmingly violent. Unless we search for new responses to those with whom we disagree, we will surely become numb and unable to to respond with a Gospel heart to those with whom we differ.

Perhaps Therese’s little way can still help us. If we commit ourselves anew to a simple path of prayer, conversation and patience, without denying the horrors of war, famine, disease and hunger, we might discover a God who is only too anxious to help us.

Today, live simply so that others can simply live.

How do you respond to violence against you in your own life?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

St Jerome

 "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St. Jerome


St Jerome is one of the most important scripture scholars in the history of the church. His translation of the bible into Latin, completed in the 4th century, was the basis of every translation into modern languages until the middle of the 20th century. His brilliance and discipline were such that he was able to produce not only a translation of the bible that continues to be a resource for contemporary students of scripture, he also wrote dozens of commentaries on the bible, and more than a hundred letters.

This being said, Jerome was a volatile, tempestuous and driven man. Reading a few of his letters makes you glad you were not in his sights. Jerome lived at a time and in a church that badly needed reform and his answer was a rigid asceticism. In what many consider his most famous letter, he warns St. Eustochium about every possible threat to her virginity while also acknowledging that even when he went to the desert to escape the insanity of the Rome of his day, he was tormented by fantasies of Roman dancing girls.

Jerome because is a powerful example of how God works with us as we are and uses even our faults for the good of others. Jerome’s life reminds us that when we submit ourselves to God, great things happen, and that God and history remember all the good Jerome did and underplay his shortcomings. What a wonderful lesson for us.

Today, ask for forgiveness of your sins, but don’t forget to be grateful for the gifts God has given you.

Have you experienced God dismissing your faults but using your strengths?

Monday, September 28, 2020

St Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Archangels

"Bless the Lord all you angels." Ps 103

Although it is easy to forget it in our information saturated culture, messengers are important. In many parts of the world, there are women and men who write letters for those in their families or villages who are illiterate, and many of them try not just to communicate a message in a literal way, but seek to put tone and feeling into their writing. In more recent times, messengers carry important letters from business to business to make sure the letter arrives safely and without delay.

In the ancient world, angels were messengers. Their primary task was to speak on behalf of God to people God wanted to address directly. Gabriel comes to Mary asking her to be the mother of God's son and Michael reminds the church that God will always guard us, and Raphael assures us that God will be our guide.

All of us are called to be angels to one another. Not only are we challenged to speak the Good News to others, we must be the Good News, and this happens every time we let the word of God live in and through us. While this is always simple, it is never easy, but everything is possible when we trust in God.

Today, be an angel to someone starving for a word of comfort.

Who has been an angel of God to you?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Wisdom of Jesus

 "For whoever is not against us is for us. " Lk 9:49

The fruits of wisdom are rich and powerful. Purely motivated people are more concerned with the needs of others than satisfying their own wants. Unfailingly gentle, the wise are constant and sincere in their friendship and love. When we meet wise people we know them because of their good fruits.

In Northeast United States, it is early Fall. There is less light both in the morning and evening. It is a natural time to slow down, rest, and be grateful for all that life has brought us, and wise people know that it is important to welcome all that is, not just that which feels pleasant or helpful for us. When we judge life, especially as it unfolds for us and around us, we are often too quick and harsh to condemn that which makes no sense. Because something is dark, we shun it, even though it might be darkness that will help us most to eventually see the light and live in it.

Wisdom, James reminds us, is compliant and full of mercy, not only towards others, but for ourselves and those who we might be tempted to dismiss as self centered. When we quietly allow ourselves to be patient with those who annoy us, their goodness in the eyes of God emerges and our wisdom grows.

Today, put on the mantle of peace.

What do you think are the marks of wisdom?