To Jesus through Mary

A Religious Ed. teacher at St. Edward took a class period to teach on Mary, her help to us in prayer, and of why we have statues, shrines and Marian places of prayer. The children each made their own little shrine to Our Lady.

Are you interceding to Our Lord with the helper He gave us in His own mother Mary? Here is the Memorare Prayer, famous since the time of St. Bernard of Clairvaux of the 12th century.
“REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.”

I pray this above prayer with a parish women’s group (CWA-even Sunday afternoons), as we conclude a Rosary. The CWA are famous for using the phrase: TO JESUS THROUGH MARY. They say it all throughout their meeting and in greetings to one another.


Church of Mercy Quotes by Pope Francis

Here is a large number of quotes from the writing of Pope Francis’ “Church of Mercy” book. As the Year of Mercy enters its last phase from now until latter November, have we been delving into this Jubilee and letting ourselves by moved by The Divine Mercy?
All of these quotes are on a handout at our Mercy Station in church, along with many other inspiring things. For those visiting us by internet, we will print the Mercy Quotes of Pope Francis here:

“Situations can change; people can change. Be the first to seek to bring good. Do not grow accustomed to evil, but defeat it with good.”

“And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but of having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst.”

“To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change. To change! And why must I change? So that I can adapt to the situations in which I must proclaim the Gospel. To stay close to God, we need to know how to set out; we must not be afraid to set out.”

“Jesus on The Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it; he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the cross. Christ’s cross, embraced with love, never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.”

“If we—all of us—accept the grace of Jesus Christ, he changes our heart and from sinners makes us saints. To become holy we do not need to turn our eyes away and look somewhere else, or have as it were the face on a holy card! No, no, that is not necessary. To become saints only one thing is necessary: to accept the grace that the Father gives us in Jesus Christ. There, this grace changes our heart. We continue to be sinners for we are weak, but with this grace which makes us feel that the Lord is good, that the Lord is merciful, that the Lord waits for us, that the Lord pardons us—this immense grace that changes our heart.”

“St. Paul says that “the love of Christ compels us,” but this “compels us” can also be translated as “possesses us.” And so it is: love attracts us and sends us; it draws us in and gives us to others.”

“One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, because believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth that embraces and possesses us.”

“Our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members.”

“But, careful! Jesus does not say, Go off and do things on your own. No! That is not what he is saying. Jesus says, Go, for I am with you! This is what is so beautiful for us; it is what guides us. If we go out to bring his Gospel with love, with a true apostolic spirit, with parrhesia (freedom of speech–i.e. free to speak in Jesus’ Name), he walks with us, he goes ahead of us, and he gets there first. As we say in Spanish, nos primerea. By now you know what I mean by this. It is the same thing that the Bible tells us. In the Bible, the Lord says: “I am like the flower of the almond.” Why? Because that is the first flower to blossom in the spring. He is always the first! This is fundamental for us: God is always ahead of us! When we think about going far away, to an extreme outskirt, we may be a bit afraid, but in fact God is already there. Jesus is waiting for us in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, in their wounded bodies, in their hardships, in their lack of faith.”

“Let the risen Jesus enter your life—welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk; you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid. Trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you, and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.”

“Do you allow yourselves to be gazed upon by the Lord? But how do you do this? You look at the tabernacle and you let yourselves be looked at . . . it is simple! “It is a bit boring; I fall asleep.” Fall asleep then, sleep! He is still looking at you. But know for sure that he is looking at you!”

“Let us try asking ourselves: Am I open to the action of the Holy Spirit? Do I pray to him to give me illumination, to make me more sensitive to God’s things? This is a prayer we must pray every day: “Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the word of God, make my heart open to goodness, make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.”

“I think this is truly the most wonderful experience we can have: to belong to a people walking, journeying through history together with our Lord, who walks among us! We are not alone; we do not walk alone. We are part of the one flock of Christ that walks together.”

“Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness God brings us, the newness God asks of us. We are like the apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness that God wants to bring into our lives! Are we often weary, disheartened, and sad? Do we feel weighed down by our sins? Do we think that we won’t be able to cope? Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up.”

“The Church’s roots are in the teaching of the apostles, the authentic witnesses of Christ, but she looks to the future, she has the firm consciousness of being sent—sent by Jesus—of being missionary, bearing the name of Jesus by her prayer, proclaiming it and testifying to it. A Church that is closed in on herself and in the past, a Church that only sees the little rules of behavior, of attitude, is a Church that betrays her own identity; a closed Church betrays her own identity! Then, let us rediscover today all the beauty and responsibility of being the Church apostolic! And remember this: the Church is apostolic because we pray—our first duty—and because we proclaim the Gospel by our life and by our words.”
“Let us remain with Christ—abiding in Christ—and let us always try to be one with him. Let us follow him; let us imitate him in his movement of love, in his going forth to meet humanity. Let us go forth and open doors. Let us have the audacity to mark out new paths for proclaiming the Gospel.”
“No amount of ‘peace-building’ will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained, in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins, or excludes a part of itself; it loses something essential. We must never, never allow the throwaway culture to enter our hearts! … No one is disposable!”

“There is a celebrated saying by the French writer Léon Bloy, who in the last moments of his life said, “The only real sadness in life is not becoming a saint.” Let us not lose the hope of holiness; let us follow this path. Do we want to be saints? The Lord awaits us, with open arms; he waits to accompany us on the path to sanctity. Let us live in the joy of our faith, let us allow ourselves to be loved by the Lord . . . let us ask for this gift from God in prayer, for ourselves, and for others.”

“The language of the Spirit, the language of the Gospel, is the language of communion that invites us to get the better of closed-ness and indifference, division and antagonism.”

“Have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste. Encountering and welcoming everyone, [building] solidarity—a word that is being hidden by this culture, as if it were a bad word—solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human.”

“We are not Christian “part-time,” only at certain moments, in certain circumstances, in certain decisions; no one can be Christian in this way. We are Christian all the time! Totally! May Christ’s truth, which the Holy Spirit teaches us and gives to us, always and totally affect our daily life. Let us call on him more often so that he may guide us on the path of disciples of Christ. Let us call on him every day. I am making this suggestion to you: let us invoke the Holy Spirit every day; in this way the Holy Spirit will bring us close to Jesus Christ.”

“It is not creativity, however pastoral it may be, or meetings or planning that ensures our fruitfulness, even if these are greatly helpful. But what ensures our fruitfulness is our being faithful to Jesus, who says insistently: “Abide in me and I in you” (John 15:4).”

“Let each one ask him- or herself today, “Do I increase harmony in my family, in my parish, in my community, or am I a gossip? Am I a cause of division or embarrassment?” And you know the harm that gossiping does to the Church, to the parishes, the communities. Gossip does harm! Gossip wounds. Before Christians open their mouths to gossip, they should bite their tongue! To bite one’s tongue: this does us good because the tongue swells and can no longer speak, cannot gossip.”

“You could say to me, “But the Church is made up of sinners; we see them every day.” And this is true: we are a Church of sinners. And we sinners are called to let ourselves be transformed, renewed, sanctified by God.”

“To evangelize, therefore, it is necessary to open ourselves once again to the horizon of God’s Spirit, without being afraid of what he asks us or of where he leads us.”

“Spreading the Gospel means that we are the first to proclaim and live the reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, unity, and love that the Holy Spirit gives us.”

“…evangelizing, proclaiming Jesus, gives us joy. In contrast, egoism makes us bitter, sad, and depresses us. Evangelizing uplifts us.”

“Only a faithful and intense relationship with God makes it possible to get out of our own closed-ness and proclaim the Gospel with parrhesia (freedom of speech). Without prayer our acts are empty and our proclamation has no soul; it is not inspired by the Spirit.”

“Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful.”


Persistence in Prayer [A follow-up message to today's gospel and homily]

Persist, Why Don’tcha?
IMG_20150829_211000Above, if you look at that photo of me in the late 1980′s, it shows a couple asking me to bless their marriage, hoping they could be enkindled deeper in God’s love. The blessing was done in request by their adult and teen children, who celebrated their 25th anniversary with the hopes of helping their parents have the passion and unity to live out marriage in an improved way. Well– 25 years later, I had a chance meeting with the wife in that photo, as I just happened to stroll by her retirement beach home. There she recognized me and she said that God DID bless them with a great fire of love, as they transitioned into the post-kids, empty nest season of marriage. They persisted in seeking marital union and growth, and God gave it to them. She showed me that photo back when they renewed their vows with me– it was a photo of a prayer that DID get fulfilled for them.

The fire in their prayers put fire in their hearts and souls. The way of persistence and living in their vocation and grace of the Sacrament helped that prayer of 1989 get answered, and in a big way, to the delight of many in the family. What a joy!

But there are some in the Church who want to excuse such fire in their prayer, making excuses like: “Why should we have to ask God for something that seems out of reach or hopeless for us or too late?…. Or why should we ask God for something that He knows we need? Does God need to be over-reminded or ever nagged?”

These approaches both ignore the truth that prayer is meant to fire US up to faith. God ALREADY passionately loves us, but will we respond to Him? As Jesus put it in the Sunday gospel of Oct. 16th: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith alive in us?”

A doubter once posed this: “What kind of God would refuse to answer prayer until or unless he was pressured into it?”. Yet it is not about pressuring God, but of what kind of passion will arouse in us for the kingdom of God. That is what prayer is meant to be.

The key here is that prayer with persistence is for our sake, not God’s. If we always got exactly what we wanted the first time we asked, we would inevitably begin to treat God as our genie, only summoned forth to give us our hearts’ desires. But that is precisely what prayer calls into question: What do you really want?

Persistence compels us to the true center of prayer, which is not just about something, but an appeal to the Great Someone. Persistence deepens our relationship with God and compels the heart to examine what it really wants most. Do you want God’s will? Do you want God even more than you want what you are asking for? If not, then for God to grant what you are asking for, even if it is a good thing, might be the most unloving thing God could ever do.

Persistence demands patience, waiting. Henri Nouwen captures the idea beautifully, “You must be patient…until your hands are completely open.” Perhaps God desires to give you exactly what you have asked for, but only in a time and way that the gift can truly benefit you instead of harming you.

God uses persistence in prayer to purge our desires. St. John Chrysostom says that God works via our prayers to mold and even transform our desires, to change how we pray and of even what we are praying for, so that we gradually come to the heart of God’s will. We learn in maturity that God can be trusted. For example, a man prayed for years that he would get a certain job, until one day he came to realize that God might have had something else in mind for him with a greater good. Eventually, the man prayed for the courage to try what God was posing. Soon, he found himself doing it. This new course of direction in his life helped him to be available to save a few lives of persons, which was something the other path of life never would have experienced. Those life saving accounts are the best moments of the man’s life so far…

Prayer is meant to change and transform us, through the seeking and asking with God, and getting our guidance from Him. Prayer is knowing that God is trustworthy in the final outcome. God has eternity to meet all our needs, so we should keep that in mind about our delayed or ‘unanswered’ prayer. The praying person knows that Heaven will give us all answers to prayer (which are in accord with God’s will).

No doubt you have your story of frustrations in prayer. As I do, too. Take heart. Persistence does not guarantee that you will get now what you asked for, but it does promise you will get something better and actually closer to your heart’s deepest desire. God will answer your prayers. Perhaps not as to when we’ve wanted or even how we’ve wanted, sometimes, but it does come in a way that we’ve truly longed for in the depths of our soul. In the end, we want reunion with God forever, and the triumph of love and happiness and truth with it. God is working for that larger prayer to be totally fulfilled for us. All praise to His Holy Name.

Yes! We persist with God in confidence that He persists in and has persisted with us! In Genesis 3, God asked Adam, “Where are you?” and the whole Bible story afterwards from Genesis onto Revelation, and into Church history, is the story of God’s relentless pursuit of a deep, eternal relationship with us. Like the parable’s persistent lady, GOD won’t take NO for our answer! The Bible daringly depicts God as the spurned lover who will never give up, the abandoned Father who relentlessly draws back His wayward children, sometimes with discipline but always with the cords of kindness. God never gives up on you, so you don’t give up on Him, nor yourself.

Persist in prayer. As it was with Jacob, the LORD actually wants us to wrestle with Him, to wrestle in prayer, as if our life depended on it. Which it does.

Prayer can be about large matters, or very small ones. Jesus says pray continually, or always. Just in the 1130 Sunday Mass I had spontaneous prayers in its start, as I saw an elderly person leave, who wasn’t feeling well enough for Mass. A person had come in with them, and they left too. I suppose a few of the people that noticed it gave the ladies a prayer. During the opening prayer a fire engine raced by with horns sounding and lights flashing, and those of us who noted it have made a quick prayer for the matter to which the firefighters race to. I saw a person in church who missed a half-year from us because of poor health, and I thanked God how the person is now back with us. I saw a couple in church who had a strong part in helping a person’s faith last week, and I blessed the Lord for that account in an evangelizing couple. I saw a person in church who is battling depression, and I was glad to see they came out to Mass. That all happened in the Masses’ first ten minutes. We are to pray continually. The readings tell us in Sunday’s Word that prayer brings power (Exodus reading), and it reaches to the heights (the Psalm), and it is effective when we use Scripture in our prayers (the epistle), and that a person that keeps at it will be certainly given close attention by God (the Gospel). Let’s pray. Let’s make the Year of Mercy have a flourish, too, as we pray for Jubilee for our hearts, the Church, and the people of the world.

‘Persist, why don’tcha?

‘Persist, why don’tcha?! [Oct. 16 Homily]

prayPersist, why don’tcha?

Some Christians seem to forget this basic point, about prayer, as they give up too easily for the things they ask of God. One person conceded that they lacked conviction in the area of prayer, commenting, “I don’t want to bother God, nor harass Him. Anyway–why would He be concerned about my matters?”

That is a give-up attitude. That is an off-the-mark view of God, ignoring (and maybe purposely) the revelation of God’s Son in Christ Jesus. Excuses like that convey that a person doesn’t want to commit to knowing the intimate, caring way of Jesus, nor want to be living primarily by faith. Yet that is the challenge of prayer–to keep on praying and reaching out to God and doing so in the co-membership of people in Jesus called “Church,” co-seeking and sharing in the ways of faith practice in the kingdom of God.

Today’s teaching of Jesus in Luke 18 via parable is that we should persist in prayer. The great masters of prayer have always been clear on this point: we should persist in prayer until we have an overwhelming reason not to. An advisor wisely said, “Prayer is never rejected so long as we do not cease to pray. The chief failure of prayer is its cessation.”

That’s the key point of this message.

Luke 18 features the story of a widow who has been mistreated. Day after day she brings her case before a judge who “neither feared God nor cared what people thought.” The judge is at first indifferent to the widow’s request, but then he is compelled to reconsider because she refuses to take “no” for an answer. He finally relents, saying to himself, “Though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps appealing to me, I will give her justice, so that she will not wear me down by her continual coming.”

Jesus’ teaching point is not that God is like an insensitive judge who must be badgered to respond to our request, but of a comparison, that: How much more will God, our good Judge and Father, “bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?”

That is certainly how Luke understands the parable, for he prefaces it with the words, “And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

Luke’s choice of wording, “lose heart,” suggests what is precisely our experience in waiting. God delays in answering our requests and we are disappointed, tempted to give up, to lose heart. Sure. Prayer with trust in God can be hard. Which is why Jesus concludes the parable with a rhetorical question, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”

This line is of Jesus pondering the big concern of His: ‘Who will persist and put in the work of prayer and faith growth?’ Put in modern context: ‘How much is it worth to us to develop our Catholic faith, as by prayer and persistence?’ These words of our Lord surmise that unanswered prayers does test our faith. Like the widow not getting her help from the judge, it is true that sometimes we might feel that God isn’t responding to our needs and petitions. We meet a test when we get in such a case, but: Can we keep praying and not lose heart, in spite of our frustrations, or our disappointments?

Discouragement can be an easy temptation, and it happens in ministry to me at times. Yet I keep going to prayer for the needs of this flock, our greater Church, for myself, and with the hope that the Good News will spread about Jesus the Christ from yours and my honest-to-God life.

Did you hear the story of the persistent woman in Washington D.C., mistaken for a homeless person, who then became one, due to many missed government checks owed to her? The government did not believe her, and put her case in mothballs, for years, despite her constant claims that she was the victim of a government foul up. After a long persistent fight and appeal, she proved and won her case. It was in the news last month. A human interest story. All along she had been right, as she WAS owed a lot of money. She had kept the paperwork proving the truth, in her luggage she touted around in homelessness. But NOW the woman has been given her due monies; and she is off the DC streets. She bought a place. She has her dignity upheld. It was an incredible story, and much like this one told by Jesus.

Another parable in Luke’s gospel does makes the same point about not losing our confidence in God. Here’s the punch line: Jesus says, in Luke 11, “I tell you, even though he (the neighbor in Jesus’ parable) did not get up and give the neighbor the needed bread because of friendship, yet because of shameless persistence (NLT) or importunity (RSV), did he eventually get up and do it, supplying his neighbor’s needs. Jesus says, again: “So wouldn’t a good God give you as much as you need? Therefore, ask and it will be given to you.”

The message: God wants us to persevere in prayer. We need to have our prayer deeply a-stirring and a-moving within us, like groans and desires and passionate feelings. That restored woman in D.C. can act as a model, or these Lukan gospel examples.

I can say that this 2015-16 Jubilee of Mercy is much about being fueled by the spirit of prayer that Jesus teaches about here in Luke. And are you connected into these special speakers coming in to St. Edwards, in this our present anniversary month, and why I bring them in? I bring them in to call us to engage with God with passion and persistence, in the desire to be holy.

End of Homily

See the next blog of mine for a Homily Supplement– Persistence in Prayer.

Wedding Thoughts (Saturday homily)


Here are some nice sayings from a wedded person to another, speaking of complimentarity….

Wedding Thoughts

You are the mac to my cheese
You are the horizon to my sky
You are the bacon to my eggs
You are the laces to my sneakers
You are the jelly to my peanut butter
You are the smile to my face
You are the gravy to my mashed potatoes
You are the bubble to my bath
You are the ink to my pen
You are the lead to my pencil
You are the ketchup to my french fries
You are the water to my ocean
You are the icing to my cake
You are the colors to my rainbow
You are the syrup to my pancakes
You just make life so in agreement with mine, and make it so much better!

Here now are some sayings on married love and newlywed love and advice…

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, and always with the same person.
- Mignon McLaughlin

Love is a surprise that God gives, like the gallons and gallons of wine for the Cana couple, for days and days of celebration, and where they had lack, and knew not of it, God knew, and gave, and the need was supplied gracefully, by Jesus, as His wedding gift, as given through Mary’s participation.
–John 2 meditation

Love is so big… this gift that God offers, so let it be a moving sea between the shores of your souls, as you love one another by it.
- Based on Gibran, The Prophet

I have found the one whom my soul loves.
- Song of Solomon 3:4

Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible—it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.
- Barbara de Angelis

As it was in the beginning, God created them, male and female… and a man shall leave his parents, and a woman leave her home, and the two shall cleave to each other and become as one, anew! Be fruitful and multiply.
–Genesis 2

The moment I heard my first love story I began seeking you, not realizing how the search was to be reached. I needed to learn a lesson, so to find you, that, lovers don’t just meet somewhere along the way. They’re in one another’s souls from the beginning.
- Rumi

There is no remedy to love but to love more.
- Henry David Thoreau

Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.
- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Love is patient and kind… not envious nor boastful… and it need not insist… for love believes, love bears, love conquers all, and while it’s important to have faith and hope, the greatest of virtues is love. Love never fails, it is ever and always.
–1 Cor. 13

Two souls with but a single thought, Two hearts that beat as one.
- John Keats

Love isn’t blind; it just only sees what matters.
- William Curry

Our love in sum? What mattered most? We were together. I forget the rest.
- Walt Whitman

When I first saw you I fell in love and smiled because you knew.
- William Shakespeare

Mike and Amanda, may God bless you in marriage, as His newest love story in the world.

Year of Mercy Illustration, Logo, and St. Ed’s plans (Sunday 10/9 message)

Today’s Gospel from Luke is a lesson about ten persons who were given a great healing by Jesus, yet then 9 out of 10 turn out not to be grateful, nor ever come back to Jesus and give personal thanks for the healing that happened to them. The sign Jesus did involved a delayed healing, happening to them, only as they head out on the way.

Just one comes back with a thank you.

Often we read this with the identification of that we would probably be that one grateful person in the story. We’d come back. ‘Right?! I’d like to think of myself, too, that way…

Yet! I think that Jesus was getting to the fact that all of us likely have some blind spots of not noticing ourselves in any sin, such as that of ingratitude, or indifference. Some of us, perhaps a few of us, have taken a little lightly, too, our salvation gift from God in Christ Jesus, and His outpoured Gift of the Spirit, as a tepid response to the Triune charity and our soul’s healing might convey that we need, then, a greater depth and conviction to God in our lives and of some passion in our acceptance of His Lordship and goodness.

God has given the Church this year a Jubilee of Mercy. It was Pope Francis to discover the idea and pass it along. It is a gift to heal and renew us. How is it going so far? Are you in Jubilee?

You see what I mean of how easy it can be to discover a blind spot or weak response to God’s appeals?

Yet God just keeps offering. He is a giver.

Since we are doing a number of things here in the Autumn-Fall season about the Year of Mercy, as you see on our schedule and/or in the parish letter I sent with it in there, I thought my homily time today could be to return to the basics and the meaning of this Jubilee of Mercy. I would like to do so just using the logo that the Church has for this Year of Mercy.
imag0706_1The logo is an illustration of a good Triune understanding of God, with Mercy in the middle.

Friends, we continue in a Jubilee of Mercy for Catholics worldwide. Is Mercy in the middle of it? Is Jesus in the middle? Have you had a growth or renewal in Mercy since last Advent, and/or are you seeking right now experiences in Mercy? Are you planning to come to one of those programs coming up–The Brian Pusateri talk of forgiveness tomorrow night? Or the Dignity of Life panel two Monday nights from now? Or the Fr. Faust talk of brokenness to blessedness, a lesson on the 12 Steps and the Church’s practices that get us to healing and mercy, and help us pass it on to others, out of a grateful heart? We also will soon put up a Mercy Station near the Marian icon area, with some materials and cds for the Jubilee. imag0697_1
These talks all have some connection to the meaning of the Jubilee Logo.
The logo for this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was designed by Father Marko Rupnik, S.J., and he made it in the style of an icon. Fr. Rupnik says that the logo is to encourage a November-to-November “new flood of mercy (that) will flow over the world.” Observe the icon. The two figures stand for Christ, Who has the halo, and “Adam” or humanity… that is, us! Christ carries the person over His shoulders the way a shepherd carries a sheep. This obviously refers to the Good Shepherd, Jesus, Who rescued the human race that had gone astray. The Divine Shepherd laid down His life for His sheep. The black slats on which Jesus stands on (in the logo) remind us of the cross. The wounds in His hands and feet are scars from His redeeming sacrifice. The redemption of the world is the greatest act of mercy God ever performed. Some people interpret Jesus carrying the man to stand for the Good Samaritan. Just as the Samaritan went out of his way to care for the man robbed and beaten and left at the side of the road, Jesus took care of us after we were attacked by Satan.

A strange thing in the icon is about the two persons who share the one eye. (Did you notice it?) This indicates that Christ communicates Himself to us and so now we can see things as God sees them. This is the definition of wisdom: seeing things as God sees them. The man’s mouth is very close to Christ’. It’s been said that as Christ expired on the cross, human beings inhaled His breath and obtained new life (via the Spirit sent from Heaven). This also echoes creation, when God breathed into man and he became a living being. Now, in Divine Mercy, we have the new breath in the Holy Spirit.

The mercy icon is almond-shaped for several reasons. The almond shape is standard in iconography and used around Christ and later Mary and the saints. It is called a mandorla, which is from the Italian for “almond.” When two circles overlap, the part where they merge has the shape of an almond. This represents the divine nature and the human nature that are merged in Christ. An almond tree blooms early and is therefore a sign of life, of new beginnings. Thanks to God’s mercy, we have a second chance to live with Him in bliss forever. The painter Van Gogh painted almond branches to honor the birth of his nephew and gave this masterpiece to his brother. In Hebrew the name for almond means “watching.” We, the redeemed who live in the last age, are watching for the next coming of Christ.

Watching does mean to be paying attention. We pay attention to all our help and love and healing coming from God in Jesus His Son and by His Spirit. In that attention, we give thanks. It’s the loving response to offer back. Then we live out the healing as a blessing to other’s lives. The last line of Mass has an optional send-off: Go, glorifying the Lord with your life.

Brian Pusateri coming!!



An adapted Reflection By Brian Pusateri | Adapted From An Illustration of His 4th Day Newsletter

‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight, also known as “Wimoweh”…is a song written and recorded originally by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds, a South African music group in 1939. It was a number one hit in the USA in 1961 for the Tokens. It still is popular in 2016. Here are three of the verses from that song: In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight. Near the village, the peaceful village, the lion sleeps tonight. Hush, my darling, don’t fear, my darling, the lion sleeps tonight. What can we possibly learn from this cute little song?

Let’s be serious with it and take a look at the Lion/Satan analogy. How does the Bible depict things? 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” KJV “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” NAB So, maybe, the lion doesn’t sleep tonight. thn1tzo6qs

We know that often the lion is hunting at night, as in the cover and gloom of the African night. If it is a moonlit night the lion’s pride will even wait until the moonlight is obscured by a cloud before they attack. During the daytime, lions often sit quietly and just observe their prey, as if they were studying the dinner menu.

So the Bible indeed depicts Satan as our adversary and opponent, who prowls around, seeking to devour us. Satan, just like a lion, loves the cover of darkness. He is a cunning and deceptive adversary always lurking after our soul. If we are not careful, it could be possible to get devoured. So, what’s our plan not to?! (Jas. 4:7)

Ask: How does he make us vulnerable to his attack? We know how he goes about like a lion, looking to catch a victim in their isolation. A key defense for us is to look out for becoming isolated… The isolated animal gets in serious jeopardy at night, as it gets stalked and/or separated before the attack. Satan and forces of darkness and his pawns play out this game for real, for souls, that which plays out on the African plain. That lion (of 1st Peter 5:8) does not sleep all the night. Yet 1 Peter 5:7 has wise advice to not fear, but rather “cast one’s cares/anxieties/distress on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Brian’s Catholic ministry with “Broken Doors” is to help people to get out of forms of isolation, either over the shame of sin, or out of the independent spirit that makes a person vulnerable, or out from any type of hiding that has us in the shadows of some danger rather than in the light of Christ and the Christian community. He tells his own story of carrying a burden that needed to be addressed, even as he was a victim in one big hidden area of his life (which he’ll tell), and how he has overcome that isolation and come strong into healing and peace in God’s Mercy. Brian is a lay Catholic with a story of becoming a Mercy-filled and more stronger disciple of Christ in his life. His testimony really touches peoples’ lives and gives them new insight into God’s Mercy and Love, and the dynamics awaiting us in Christian life.

He will share that testimony on Monday night, Oct. 10, 7 p.m. in our church.

Brian adds: The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote this: “He who is alone with his sins is utterly alone!” Stated differently, allow me to say it this way: Any Christian who is isolated and alone without the fellowship and community of other Christian brothers and sisters is easy prey for a prowling Satan. (So, we really need to help one another.)

Satan, is a scheming opponent who uses this lie “Hush, my darling, don’t fear, my darling, I am asleep tonight” to trick us into letting our guard down. We need the spiritual protection of Christian friends and community. The next time you are tapping your foot and singing along with this old familiar song don’t forget that Satan the lion is always hungry. Thus, we need to be alert in our faith and practice it with some conviction and courage.

Are you currently plugged into some form of small Christian group or an honest commitment somewhere or somehow with someone to share your faith in a real way of revelation? Or instead are you a bit too much the isolated Christian who is more likely to be prey to some trouble. You do have a choice!

Oct. 2nd Homily Turn the Corner with Faith

Today I did not preach in St. Edward’s pulpit, as I had lots of visiting clergy help. I WILL offer a blog homily here. (It’s not that I’ve had a homily break. St. Edwards has had four deaths this past week, with four funerals and homilies to serve. Yesterday was the first funeral and homily, which was for Harriett Bury.)

Today’s Gospel is of Luke 17:5-10. It’s about faith growth. It’s about turning the corner of new soul possibilities with decisions and actions of faith

In my personal look at Luke 17, I think the plea from Jesus, that His followers increase their faith, is first to be interpreted in light of that He is in the drama of nearing Jerusalem (which takes place soon in two chapters ahead in Luke– 19:28). It will ultimately culminate in the Cross. The disciples will need stronger faith ahead.

Applied to us, we need mustard seed faith for all what God in Christ would like to lead us through ahead. So, let’s ask ourselves: Are we growing in faith? In this Year of Mercy, how IS Mercy presently building up our Catholic faith? There should be some answer to that, for you, lest Pope Francis’ plan for you fall short in this Jubilee. The Year of Mercy goes into mid-November.

My second point about Jesus’ plea (in Lk. 17:6) is that it is LED IN by the first five verses of Luke 17, which we did NOT read and proclaim today in the Lectionary. Peak into your Bible and see what reads there. It tells of the Mercy step needed to be able to advance in faith. It mostly gives a lesson about forgiveness, that, a repentant person who stands before us needs mercy from us, says The Lord. Do THAT and you are really ready for the mustard seed growth.

You’ll see, too, in vs. 1-5 that Jesus mentions there that our lasting through scandals and our being able to rebuke sin and speak against it, joins forgiveness as complimentary means for one’s faith growth. Interesting. It’s
all about living in truth, isn’t it? So, how has that advice been lived out in us? Where and how did our faith growth result by it? Or, if we are NOT addressing scandal, rebuking sin, and forgiving repentant people in our lives, then would we admit that it could be stunting our faith growth?

I hope we each can have faith growth in our lives, however it is fostered. Let us hope that loving and free consent to God’s will does provide the way, and that it is not just trials and errors to have us learn to keep increasing in faith. That’s my prayer, anyway.

Oh, let’s add on a vital finishing point. Jesus wants to hold our hand and enlighten our heart and soul for thus faith increase. We don’t do this alone or on our own. He is with us. He also provides others to walk along into this “increase.” Recall the apostles’ words in Luke 17: “LORD increase OUR faith.”

The parish has four special presentations coming up (as told by me in the pastor’s letter this past week) that present us with people and messages for to spur us on in Catholic faith, and to turn our next corner. Next Monday on October 10th, Columbus night, is our next one, with an outstanding message about forgiveness. Please come.imag0644

Blue Cool School

imag0705_1. It was a great day at St. Pius the Tenth (SPX) school today. Bishop Knestout (a grad) came by with the ADW Superintendent to celebrate the school becoming a Blue Ribbon award winner. All four of us Bowie pastor-priests were on hand, as well as the whole school body of students, teachers and staff, to gather in the church. There the school got the hapoy news.

We prayed and sung out in song and applauded one another (especially the teachers) and gave thanks for the accomplishment. The school really caught on quickly of how special this award was for us, and the mood was one of joy and excitement! We are in the top 15% in the nation for preK/K-8 schools.

I have taught here over the past eight years and it has been a happy time of return to the school of my childhood. I usually teach six classes per week in religion classes. I do other things at SPX like pray Masses, hear confessions, go to socials and field trips or sports CYO games or scout events. It’s been great.

Today the bishop recognized me for own connections and service to this school, as a priest come home, and the school responded by giving me a real big cheer. That felt great.
His Excellency shared his own memories of seven years in the school as a former student, and of some recent happy returns home to St. Pius X.
(When he joined the school and 2nd grade in 1970, I was there as a 7th grader. We lived three streets away and our families knew each other and shared the same parish. Later, Bishop Knestout and I went to the same seminary and became ordained in 1988 and 1989, successively, with first Masses at St. Pius X parish.)

I have been a part of Catholic schools since 1987. I don’t have a lucky horseshoe in my pocket, but five of the seven schools I have served in the ADW have received Blue Ribbon awards. Imagine that. Thus, I have seen the cream of the crop around the Archdiocese of Washington.

I told a reporter today that these students of this school were the most special to me.

The whole school donned blue hard hats in the end of the assembly, celebrating the reward given for our hard work and high achievement here.

As the whole school posed for a photo, at the finish, it did not dawn on me to snap a photo of them all there at the time. (It would have looked good right here.) Yet professional photographers were on hand; photos will be in local newspapers and the diocesan paper soon. Bravo.