Saturday, August 13, 2011

Children of Vacation Bible School Praise the Lord!

Friday, August 5, 2011


Here are some of the sayings (and more) of the saints which I used recently on CALLING ALL CATHOLICS.

Rejoice * in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18))

 “Blessed be God for everything”  Venerable Concepion Cabrera de Armida

In our troubles, we must always say, "Blessed be God, thank you my God, or glory to God!"  Blessed Jeanne Jugan, Little Sisters of the Poor

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.
   - Henri Nouwen

All the way to heaven is heaven. St. Catherine of Siena

On Suffering
For this reason the apostle Paul said of Christ, "In him are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God."  The soul cannot enter into these treasures, nor attain them, unless it first crosses into and enters the thicket of suffering, enduring interior and exterior labors, and unless it first receives from God very many blessings in the intellect and in the senses, and has undergone long spiritual training. The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.  From a spiritual canticle by John of the Cross (1542‑1591)

Adversity is . . . God's most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear.
Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministry (Baptist Minister)

Pain is the kiss of Christ. Catherine Doherty

(Let us) not let ourselves be troubled when we are sometimes beset by adversity, for we know that it is meant for our spiritual welfare and carefully proportioned to our needs, and that a limit has been set to it by the wisdom of the same God who has set a bound to the ocean.
Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure and Claude de la Colombiere, "Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence"

"I am God's wheat, ground fine by the lion's teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God." (Ignatius of Antioch)

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies:
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise.
- Brother Lawrence, "The Practice of the Presence of God"

"Don't imagine that if you had a great deal of time you would spend more of it in prayer. Get rid of that idea! Again and again God gives more in a moment than in a long period of time, for God's actions are not measured by time at all."- Teresa of Avila

“Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”
       Dom John Chapman of Downside Abbey

"Because prayer is indeed a supernatural act, a movement of spirit toward Spirit, it is an act in which the natural creature can never begin or complete of itself. Though it seems to come by one's own free choice that one lifts the soul toward God, it is in truth this all-penetrating God, Who by His secret humble pressure stirs us to make this first movement of will and love."(Evelyn Underhill [20th C.], "The Golden Sequence")

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.    - C. S. Lewis

If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence... ? You'd be bored to tears in heaven, if you're not ecstatic about God now!   - Keith Green

I 've learned to hold everything loosely because it hurts when God pries my fingers from it.
      -- Corrie Ten Boom

You must accept your cross; if you carry it courageously it will carry you to heaven.  God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry. - Jean Vianney

"Our natural will is to have God, and the good will of God is to have us, and we may never cease willing or longing for God until we have him in the fullness of joy. Christ will never have his full bliss in us until we have our full bliss in him."- Blessed Julian of Norwich

"I have always believed that, when God touches a human being, the experience will survive three tests: 1.) The time test: The person touched by God will never be the same again. . . 2.) The reality test: The soul which has been touched by God will not be drawn up into an other-worldly posture or into bowered ivory towers of private ecstasy but will be deepened in awareness of the world around. . . 3.) The charity test: The human being who has opened to God's touch will be made more God-like by reason of that contact."- John Powell, S.J., "He Touched Me"

“Without you my kingdom would not be complete.”
        Jesus to St. Gertrude the Great.

God will either give you what you ask, or something far better. Robert Murray M'Cheyne (1813‑1843)
Minister of the Church of Scotland

The signs accompanying grace are much joy, peace, love, and truth. Such signs impel us to seek truth. But the signs of sin are accompanied by turmoil, not joy and love toward God.
- St. Macarius

"The moment I realized that God existed, I knew that I could not do otherwise than to live for Him alone. . . Faith strips the mask from the world and reveals God in everything.  It makes nothing impossible and renders meaningless such words as anxiety, danger, and fear, so that the believer goes through life calmly and peacefully, with profound joy--like a child hand in hand with his mother."
   - Venerable Charles de Foucauld

"Giving soup and bread isn’t all that the rich can do. The poor are your masters, terrible sensitive, exacting as you will see. But the uglier and dirtier they are, the more unjust and bitter, the more you must give them your love. It is only because of your love—only your love—that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them.”
      St. Vincent de Paul
“I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual.  I can only love one person at a time B just one, one, one.  So you begin.  I began B I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn=t pick up that one person, I wouldn=t have picked up forty-two thousandY The same thing goes for you, the same thing in our family, the same thing in our church, your community.  Just begin B one, one, one.”
   - Bl. Mother Teresa

“An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all."  - Dorothy Day

“The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.”
      Henry Drummond, Free Church of Scotland, Evangelist

"Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car."
G.K. Chesterton

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people."
G.K. Chesterton

“In the "dynamic" religion that we are being promised for tomorrow, no ascetic discipline or special humbleness will any longer be required.  It will be a hot‑water bottle kind of piety with none of that gritty old morality it in.  It will be a brand of faith that has been synthesized, vitaminized, homogenized, and capsulized, and it will be as ready‑made for effortless consumption as that magically bleached, cottony, crustless, already sliced white bread which is the symbol of the modern American's massive superiority over the pagan bushwhacker.”
      Curtis Cate, "God and Success" (Biographer and Historian)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Same-Sex" Marriage

 A Message to Catholic New Yorkers
From the Bishops of New York State

     We bishops share with so many of you deep disappointment in the presumption of our state’s elected officials in the radical redefinition of marriage. Yet we are heartened by the vigor with which so many faithful Catholic New Yorkers fought to preserve the true meaning of marriage. Many surely believed that Catholics would simply shrug their shoulders and go along with this radical act of social engineering. Yet you did not do that. Together with people of other faith traditions, you spoke out. Thousands of you, by phone, email, letter or in-person visits to your legislators, and through social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as hand-signed petitions in the back of your church, let you convictions be known.
    We are grateful to you, as we are to the many legislators in the state Senate and Assembly who voted to reject this bill. We know the pressure that was brought to bear on them, and we admire their courage and yours in attempting to defend marriage and protect religious freedom. Their integrity and yours was called into question by many. Both you and they were accused of bigotry for simply defending the timeless understanding of marriage.
    The proponents of so-called "same-sex marriage" portrayed their cause as a matter of "civil rights." Redefining marriage has nothing to do with civil rights. The Catholic Church has a proud history in this country’s civil rights movement for African-Americans. However, this situation is in no way analogous. In the first case, a race of people was shamefully made to endure hundreds of years of slavery and systemic persecution and discrimination. Today’s debate focuses on a small group of persons, whose human rights must always be respected and defended by us all, but who claim a civil right to redefine marriage for all of society based on a private and personal preference.
    As so many of you have let us know, this is not just a "Catholic issue." Yet for us Catholics, there is particular disappointment with those elected officials who publicly profess fidelity to our Catholic religion but whose public stance is at odds with a fundamental teaching of that faith. The definition of marriage resides in the plan of God for humankind. It is at the very least presumptuous for the state to attempt to redefine it.
    From this sad moment in our state’s history, let it be our prayer that we witness a new appreciation for authentic marriage as understood by our Catholic faith and revealed to us by God through nature. We have seen so many threats to marriage in recent years, from widespread cohabitation, to infidelity, to exploding out-of-wedlock birth rates, to pornography and other addictions that undermine family and married life. Sadly, we have even seen rates of Catholic marriages plunge over the last four decades by nearly 60 percent. And now we see the state presume to alter what God already has defined and common sense can recognize as right and true.
    While our culture seems to have lost a basic understanding of marriage, we Catholics must not. We must be models of what is good, holy and sacred about authentic sacramental marriage. Let this moment where marriage is being attacked from without become a moment of renewal from within – in our Church, in our communities and in our families – where marriage is indelibly marked by fidelity, sacrifice and the mutual love of husband and wife leading to children.
    The Church does not seek to be at odds with the society and culture. The Church welcomes the opportunity to be part of the public dialogue and listens respectfully to all positions. But the Church cannot do otherwise than stand against the claims of any culture and any society that attempts to define a relationship into being what it is not. To that extent we members of the Catholic Church are called to be in opposition to the prevailing culture. And sadly we are called to do so again. We know well that marriage always has been, is now and always will be the life-long, life-giving union of one man and one woman. No act of government can change that reality. With respect for the dignity of every person, we proclaim this truth and we will be faithful to its meaning and to its observance in all that we say and do.
--The Catholic Bishops of New York State
June 24, 2011
Feast of the Birthday of St. John the Baptist

We are always near the breaking-point when we care only for what is legal and nothing for what is lawful. Unless we have a moral principle about such delicate matters as marriage and murder, the whole world will become a welter of exceptions with no rules. There will be so many hard cases that everything will go soft. 

G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't Be Afraid

     In the most recent issue of the Paulist Evangelization Exchange Fr. Tony Krisak speaks about the fears of Catholics when it comes to evangelization. He says that we don't need to know everything about what we believe. Rather, we do need to know why we believe or have faith. Here are the questions he provides to help Catholics get ready to evangelize: How does the Catholic faith help you to respond to the human longings you have? Why do you experience a welcome spirit when you are in the midst of the Catholic community? What is it about your faith that raises enthusiasm and/or hope in you? What kind of perspective does the faith offer you in relation to others, toward those in need, and toward society and the world? Fr. Krisak suggests that if people see that our faith answers our deepest longings, they will respond.
     Here's a link to a a quiz to see how ready you are to be someone who invites others to check out the Church:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Victory: Are We Living It?
     Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Alleluia. So what? Does Christ’s victory over the power of sin and death on our behalf change anything? How does it challenge us to live this victory each day?
     After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples and offers them his peace. When he appeared to the women at the tomb Jesus told them not to be afraid. In other words, through his death and resurrection Jesus brought about the possibility of peace and freedom from fear. Because of Christ’s victory there is no good reason to be afraid of or anxious about anything. We can rest in the peace of Christ which is deeper than any suffering or challenge we may face.
     To put it another way, Jesus has removed any barriers that may have prevented us from living fully and deeply the life of a disciple. We can no longer use any excuse for not being aflame with the faith and ready to share that faith with others. So, are we living deeply this new life which Christ won for us?
      We must seriously consider the great gift of redemption that God has given us and, as stewards of this gift, share it with others and not keep it locked up inside our hearts and minds. Others have the right to hear the gospel proclaimed to them. If we have been given the gift of the gospel, then we are obliged to proclaim it to others.
      Our churches are filled on Easter and Christmas, but in between those feasts . . . ? Are we really a people that believe in the victory of Easter and are looking for ways to live it and proclaim it? Do we dismiss our fears and anxieties and accept the deep-down gift of peace that Jesus offers us so that we can step out in faith and share the gospel with others?
      How will you take the victory of Easter and live it more fully, today, tomorrow, for the fifty days of Easter, for the rest of your life? How will your life shout “Alleluia” so that others may also come to know the gospel of Jesus and share in his victory over sin and death?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


A Walk Through Holy Week

      Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, a celebration that is both joyful and foreboding. The day commemorates the Lord's entrance into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with his disciples. We begin the Mass with the blessing of palms and a joyful procession into the church. Our joy is quickly tempered, however, with the reading of the Lord's Passion which reminds us of what is to come during the week.

      On Tuesday, the Chrism Mass will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Cathedral. This is the celebration at which the bishop blesses the oils which are used throughout the year: the oil of catechumens, the sacred chrism, and the oil for the sick.

      The three great feasts of Holy Week—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter—­comprise the Paschal Triduum. The word Paschal means "passover." Triduum, a Latin word, means "three days." The Last Supper along with Jesus' death and resurrection comprise the new passover event whereby we are saved and given new life. The three feasts are best viewed as one great, three-day event.

      The first great feast of the Tri­duum is the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. Lent ends with this celebration. On this night we celebrate the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, our new Passover feast. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, is the "lamb" whose blood saves us from death just as the Old Testament lamb's blood saved the Hebrews from death under the Egyptians. On this night we also celebrate our call to ministry. At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of the apostles and challenged them to do the same with one another. There will be no formal dismissal at the end of Mass this evening. Rather, after a procession, the Eucharist will be reserved in a repository and all will be invited to remain in prayer before the Eucharist, remembering Jesus’ time in the garden of Gethsemane.

      Good Friday is the most solemn feast of the Church year. It is the only day of the year when Mass is not celebrated. The celebration of the Lord's death begins in silence with the presider prostrating himself before the altar. The focus of the day's readings, which includes the reading of the Passion, is the suffering and death of the Lord, a death that was part of God’s plan for our salvation. During the celebration we are invited to come forward and reverence the cross which is a sign of our redemption and of God's love.

      The Easter Vigil begins the celebration of the greatest feast of the Church year. After forty days of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and refraining from saying "alleluia," we are invited to rejoice in the Lord's resurrection which destroyed the power of sin and death and opened the gates of paradise. We begin the celebration in darkness with the blessing of the Easter fire and the lighting of the Easter candle which represents the light of Christ. From the Easter candle we light our own candles and process into the church where the ancient hymn of exultation (the "Exsultet") is sung. We continue with readings that trace the history of salvation up to the resurrection. We then joyfully baptize, confirm and welcome into the Church new members and renew our baptismal promises. We continue with the celebration of the Eucharist and are dismissed with resounding "alleluias." The Mas­s during the day continues this joyous celebration.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pastoral Planning by the Numbers? It Doesn’t Add Up

. . . [T]he social science construction of reality has confused information with expertise, know-how with wisdom, change with almost anything new, and complexity with profundity. (Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, p. 96)

            Statistics. Facts. Data. Information. Lies, damn lies and statistics?[1] We live in the information era, the era of instant gratification of our inquisitive minds. But does information necessarily translate into knowledge. Does data provide a blueprint for change? Can statistics mislead rather than inform? In particular, in what ways might pastoral planning efforts throughout the country be attempting to reinvent what should be second nature to the church?
            One of the first things that dioceses and parishes do as they begin a process of pastoral planning is to gather the numbers, the available data, information on trends and whatever other statistical tidbits might affect the process. But what information should be used? A crucial question which is seldom asked at the start of the planning process is, What’s the vision and underlying spirituality for this particular planning process? Not to define this underlying approach is to start off on the wrong foot.

What’s Your Vision and Spirituality of Change?
            One set of facts which is seldom, if ever, placed on the table during discussions about change concerns our prejudices. What are the biases which we bring to the table? 
            Much has been said about the numbers of Catholics who have abandoned cities in the northeast for suburban life. City parishes know firsthand how the numbers of Catholics who used to reside in the city have left for the suburbs. City churches, once regularly filled to capacity five or six times on a Sunday, are now half empty. Even in the suburbs Catholic participation in parishes has declined. Budgets have been cut. Resources for ministries have diminished. The number of priests is declining. There are plenty of statistics and data which can be brought forward to show how the Catholic culture which boomed in the 50s and 60s has undergone a steep decline especially in the rust belt cities of the northeast.
            Sadly, when it comes to pastoral planning, most, if not all, statistical input is on the negative side of the equation. But do these data tell a complete story? Not at all. What seems to be happening is that data is being marshaled to support a spirituality of diminishment or scarcity. Why? Fear? Anxiety? Despair? Ignorance?
            Data can be used to prove just about anything. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (see Wikipedia for a good definition of this). The selective use of information can bolster any viewpoint. Sadly, the selective use of data in the Diocese of Rochester has cast a pall on pastoral planning, bringing about anxiety, fear and despair. It doesn’t have to be. If anything, the church is and must be a beacon of hope. Why? Because the church is the bearer of the Good News and the Good News is not about diminishment but abundance. The God of the universe is a God whose grace is bottomless, whose presence is powerful, and whose desire is that people thrive.
            One priest described the pastoral planning in this diocese like crouching in a foxhole with bullets whizzing overhead. That’s a powerful image, one that, I suspect, would be shared by many involved in the pastoral planning process.
            Edwin Friedman suggests that leadership, or lack thereof, underlying this kind of change focuses on the negative (death?) and demoralizes people. He states:

“It is not advancing technology that is creating the information bind, however; it is societal regression, first by perverting the natural instincts of curiosity and adventure into a dogged quest for certainty, and secondly focusing on pathology rather than on strength.” (97)

            Such pastoral planning starts with what’s wrong and not possible and never gets to what’s right and possible. The prevailing questions go like this: Now that you have less and will, in the foreseeable future, have less, how will you cut back, consolidate, and hunker down? Shouldn’t the question be: How do you want to grow, how do you need to grow and how will you go about it? Instead of focusing on weaknesses, the process should focus on strengths. Instead of the quick fix, we should be looking at what is right and build on it. Leadership, in the present day and age, is always a step behind the data when it should be out front leading with a vision rooted in the Gospel. Just as Jesus defined his mission as proclaiming freedom to the captives and God’s justice for all, so it must be our mission and vision.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. “(Luke 4: 18-19)

He did not say: Look, we’ve got a lot of poor people here so we need to be careful what we do with our limited resources. Jesus’ vision was formed out of the very statistics which today cause pastoral planners to say: It can’t be done.

A Great and Important Statistic
            Let me give one statistic which is never brought forward in the planning process. It concerns the number of unchurched people in our diocese. When I was pastor of Light of Christ I researched the number of unchurched people who resided in the 14621 and 14609 zip codes, the zip codes which include St. Andrew and Annunciation.  I used the Link2Lead program which the diocese had subscribed to for each parish at the beginning of the pastoral planning process. In those two zip codes were over 20,000 people who were not connected with any faith community. 20,000!! Recently I did some more research and found that in a three-mile radius around St. Pius Tenth Church nearly four in ten people had no faith community. If the church is about proclaiming the Gospel to everyone—and that is the great commission given to us by Christ—then why are we focused on diminishment when we have an abundance of brothers and sisters who have a right to hear the Gospel proclaimed to them and which means that we are obliged to proclaim the Gospel to them. Closing churches and deconstructing ministries doesn’t answer this need; it denies this need.
            What might the local church look like today if ten years ago every pastoral planning group had been commissioned to proclaim the Gospel to everyone in their region? What if every parish had been given a growth target of, let’s say, two to five percent each year? Sadly, it didn’t happen.
            Have we learned anything from the failure of pastoral planning over the years? Are we honest enough to say that it hasn’t worked and, what’s more, that we’ve neglected to grab hold of the very reason the church exists and fulfill that mission? Let’s hope that we will learn from the failures of the past and begin anew to do what God desires of us.

[1] Attributed to,  among others,  the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Here's a link to a paper I wrote while I was participating in the Lilly-funded Pastor-Theologian Program through the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Many writers have noted the decline in the one-on-one celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (also known as Confession or Reconciliation). Some attribute the decline to society’s changing awareness and understanding (or lack thereof) of sin. Some attribute the decline to the frequent use of communal penance services where participants don’t have to confess particular sins to a confessor. Whatever the reasons for the decline, it is a very unfortunate turn of events.
The sacrament of Penance is a powerful encounter with God and an opportunity to confront our sins and be healed. While the other sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, also forgive sins, the sacrament of Reconciliation uniquely helps us to focus on the areas in our lives where we turn away from God and our neighbor and hurt those relationships.
It is important to name our sins, something which doesn’t happen in communal penance services to the same extent. There is power in our words, power in our claiming and naming our sins before a priest who represents both God and the church. Remember that God spoke a word and it came to be in the story of creation. There is power in personally owning our wrong-doing and honestly seeking reconciliation with God and others.
Many say: Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest? Why can’t I just confess them directly to God? The Sacrament of Penance is about confessing our sins directly to God. However, because we are a church, a community, we must also recognize the communal aspect of our sinfulness. We do not sin privately. Any sin, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, does harm everyone else in the world. Individual confession gives us the opportunity to celebrate forgiveness in a communal setting. Again, the priest is not just an individual but the representative of God and the entire church when the sacrament of Penance is celebrated.
Many people say they are scared of confessing their sins. What will Father X think of me? I’ll be embarrassed! Fear and embarrassment are merely feelings which need not get in the way of  confessing our sins (although the devil sure likes to use them to keep us away from the sacrament). We are invited to let go of our worries and fears and accept what God has to offer: forgiveness and healing.
As a priest I am deeply privileged to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance with people. I see how people who commit themselves to their spiritual growth integrate this sacrament into their journey. I regularly celebrate this sacrament myself because I am aware of how much it helps me to claim my sins and continue on my pilgrim journey as a disciple of the Lord. Sure, I think: What will my spiritual director think of me when I tell him I’ve sinned in this or that way? But those momentary worries are always swallowed up in the wonderful healing which I receive in the sacrament. 
Here's the link:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I've written a simple guide for those who are unfamiliar with the Mass. Please feel free to download and copy. Here's the link:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Become an Evangelist!
     Do you remember what it was like when you couldn’t wait to show your parents a good report card? Do you remember what it was like when you graduated from high school or college? Do you remember when you received a promotion or raise and how you wanted to tell everyone about it? Do you remember how you felt when you got married, had a child, became a grandparent? The good news of the gospel is the best news there is, better than any other news we joyfully share with others. What will it take for us to begin joyfully sharing the good news of our salvation with others?
     Here are some easy ways to share the GOOD NEWS!

1.  Give a copy of parish bulletin to a friend or neighbor,
2.  When you are eating in a restaurant, say a prayer before eating and make the sign of the cross.
3.   Invite and treat a neighbor to one of our parish social events.
4.   When you visit a friend or neighbor in the hospital or nursing home, offer to pray with them.
5.   Take your rosary wherever you go and pray it while you’re waiting to see the doctor, etc. If someone notices what you’re doing, ask them if they pray the rosary.
6.   Talk about parish events in which you’ve participated. Tell people what you enjoyed about the event.
7.   Buy some Catholic tracts/leaflets and leave them in offices, waiting rooms, airplane seat pockets, etc. Or, take some of our sister parish brochures and spread them around.
8.   When you email someone, add a blessing, a quote from Scripture, or a saying from a saint.
9.   If your library accepts donations, buy a good Catholic book and donate it to your library.
10. Invite a friend, co-worker, or neighbor to come with you to Mass.

Friday, March 25, 2011

(St. Peter Chrysologus--his name means “golden-worded” because of the beauty of his homilies--was a doctor of the church who lived in Italy from 406-450 A.D. The following is one of his homilies.)

    There are three things by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue en­dures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all to­gether, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others, If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself. When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

Let this be the pattern for all when they prac­tice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you. Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold, united prayer in our favor.

Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

Offer your soul to God; make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

    To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit, unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fast­ing as rain is to the earth. However much you may cul­tivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

When you fast, if your mercy is thin, your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by sav­ing, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not he allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.
I am working with children in the Faith Formation Program at St. Pius X to help them present the gospel stories using puppets. Above is a picture of some of the kids with the puppets they made.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

      Most people probably think of Lent as a somber season. And why not? We don’t sing or recite the Gloria or the Alleluia before the gospel. We cover over the holy water fonts and put away the paschal candle. We know that Lent is a season devoted to acts of penance and observances which help remind us of our sinfulness and the need for God’s mercy. Still, is Lent really a somber season?

      Have you ever heard the phrase: Lex orandi, lex credendi? Translated from the Latin, this means: “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, if you want to know what we Christians believe, listen to the prayers of the church. How well do we listen to the various prayers at Mass?

      If we listen to the prayers of the church during the season of Lent, we have to come to the conclusion that Lent is a joyful season. Take, for example, the first Preface of Lent. It begins: “Each year you give us this joyful season.” The beginning of the second Preface of Lent states: “This great season of grace is your gift to your family to renew us in spirit.” Clearly, these prayers tell us that the season of Lent is a time of joy and a gift from God. Why? Because it provides us with an opportunity for growing in holiness and renewing our commitment to God. It is a joy to grow in holiness and commitment.

      So, while you are engaging in the various penitential practices of Lent, rejoice. Remember that God has given us the gift of salvation so that, even during Lent, we can be known as a people of joy.