Chipotle Fast Food Wisdom

Pass along… with a chuckle.

He was at the airport in their food court. Let’s just say that in the long line of fast-food places, there didn’t seem to be too many healthful options there for him. When he saw the Chipotle sign, he was therefore relieved. Here was an opportunity to choose such items as brown rice and tofu and eat close-to-healthy. Not great, but then, not so bad an option either.

As he sat down with a plateful of steaming vittles, he noticed something even more nourishing. It was a “Two-Minute Alchemy” tale by Paulo Coelho, printed right on the brown bag that Chipotle had placed the food in. He read it while eating. If that weren’t enlightening enough, the “flip-side” of the bag featured this Coelho quote: “We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.” It was some food for thought.

While cleaning up after all that salsa-laden food, he noticed these printed words on the napkin: “Made from 90% post-consumer recycled unbleached paper. ‘Could have been an electricity bill or a parking ticket in its past life. Forgive and forget.”

“Well, how green of me!,” he chuckled to himself.
And to think he almost went to the cheap Chinese food place in the food court–the ones handing out free samples to get a ‘guilt purchase’ from the passersby. Yet he had waved them away. Chipotle was the choice and the wisdom was not inside a taste-free fortune cookie, but in the green earth wrappings. Smart.

Satiated in body, mind and spirit, he went off to catch his next plane. Who knew that a quick lunch could be that fulfilling?

Note: Some people interested in getting others ecologically with it have come up with clever ways to do it.

Rest in Peace

The Mass of Christian Burial for Justice Scalia was a very good one. I watched it through on tape. It had all the parts of a good liturgy and farewell.
Antonin Scalia

Rest in Peace, Justice Antonin Scalia.

You did a very good job at being a Catholic, and expressing that faith in being a Supreme Court justice, and father, and husband, and defender of values and virtue in America. May God reward your efforts.

Listing of Blogs Presidents Day 2016 back to Thanksgiving time 2015

List of Blogs February 2016 back to late November 2015

Feb. 2016
+Mercy Mercy +Mercy Mercy More (definition of mercy) + Bear Wrongs Patiently +Admonish the Sinner +St. Valentine’s Day +Grace in Action (Grace & Works) +Countdown to the Ashes +Putting Out Deep +Snow Pics +MidWinter

Jan. 2016 +Love and 1st Cor.13 +Roe V. Wade +Pro-Life Prayer +Someone’s Tryin’ to Obliterate Christianity +Pray the Snow +Remembering Gilligan’s Island Days +A Cana Miracle +Champion Christian Coaches +Take the Plunge +New Day, New Year, New You +Little Portion Notes (Porziuncola) +Epiphany Day +Holy Mary Mother of God

Dec. 2016 +12 Days of Christmas +He Did Not Have A Home +St. Francis Prayer to Inspire +Holy Family +Gaspar the Friendly Magi +Jesus the Homeless Man +St. Francis and His Little Portion Church +Getting Into Mercy at Advent +Twas the Night Before Christmas +Joy is a Choice and Commitment +Live Christ/Share Christ Program +Immaculate Conception Thoughts +Inviting Paths to our Hearts +Active Awaiting +Pleasant Weeks + Deadly Sins to Watch Out For +

Nov. 2016 +Thanksgiving: Mmmm, Mmmm Good +Christ the King
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Mercy Mercy More

Here’s more on mercy. This research was done by a parish member who sent it to me, and I edited it for the blog.

The Year of Mercy has us ask the obvious question: What is Mercy?
It has not an obvious surface answer…

Mercy — Does it mean benevolence or forgiveness? Or rather is it more about charity or generosity? Or should it lean more in definition in the goodwill category? Mercy — Does it refer to some kind of leniency?

Mercy — In a secular sense, it is a word that sometimes is used as describing an act that is done by a person in power or control as an extraordinary offer to someone who is weak or needy. In a recent film, the violent over-taker is ready to shoot some one for not cooperating and submitting enough, and the person with the gun pointed AT them screams “give me mercy” while expecting still the worst.

Mercy — When interviewed, people thought of “mercy” as also a word associated with hospitals. Some hospitals are actually named “Mercy Hospital” (like the one nearby in Baltimore). People see caring for the sick and dying as an obvious example of giving mercy (because it is not an easy thing to do). Catholics know that this happens to be one of the corporal works of mercy.

Mercy — Many people will define it as treating people with kindness and forgiveness. As in–when one is merciful one is not cruel or harsh. As in–the person doing it is kindly forgiving (as used in a religious sense–since mercy is heard as a religious word). The idea is that a person who forgives is “merciful.” But the word MERCY means so much more than that ….

It is helpful to look at the Hebrew word for Mercy, since it was a religious concept and practice of the Hebrew Religion, which then was carried into the Catholic (Christian) Religion. I mentioned this word “Hesed” to you in the last blog.
According to STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE the Hebrew word for mercy is used over two hundred times in the Bible. It is used 82 times in the PSALMS and 52 times in the New Testament. In the Hebrew Scriptures the word used for Mercy is HESED. That word is so rich in meaning as to be almost untranslatable. It meant so much more than being kind and forgiving. Just as the word PEACE in Hebrew SHALOM means much more than the absence of war – but prosperity and blessing— so also the word MERCY has a much richer and fuller meaning than being compassionate or in not being cruel… It means TOTAL devotion, utter loyalty, unequalled love… The words abundance, reward to the fullest amount (i.e. plenty, overflowing, bountiful) can be used to describe HESED.

These Hebrew (Jewish) Scriptures are the ones with which Jesus was knowledgeable; when He spoke of mercy it was in the context of Hebrew understanding. Jesus communicated to His disciples that The Father’s mercy was unfathomable.

It would be helpful to have a Rabbi’s perspective, then, on what Mercy means to him, a Jew … and what might be the Christian evolution or dimension of the word. From www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/loyal-love and www.ligonier.org/blog/what-hesed, Rabbi Kamsler writes articles to explain how the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, has influenced the way translators have translated the Hebrew text for centuries. It is an interesting thing of history. The Septuagint was translated in Alexandria, Egypt about 250 BCE. It is the Greek version of the Hebrew, made necessary by the Greek Empire that overwhelmed the world of the Middle East. The Greek version introduced a slightly different word meaning for Mercy. The Psalms and nearly all the other books of the Hebrew Bible (46 books) were written several centuries BEFOREHAND in Hebrew. When the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of Mercy, it was as “Hesed.” Yet the Greek word for Mercy used (different than the Hebrew Hesed) is “Eleos” or more fuller as “Eleison” which leans instead to a definition of compassion or holy pity. (Hesed was steadfast loyalty/kindess.) It is interesting that in Holy Mass, we bring in the Greek word “Eleison” for our prayers (and not Hesed). Putting the word for Lord ahead of the word for Mercy, the Greek is “Kyrie Eleison” for “Lord, have mercy.” They are song-words by which the faithful praise the Lord and implore His mercy. The Kyrie Eleison (Greek for “Lord, have mercy”) is a song imploring for mercy (or begging for something in a plea for compassion from God). In the early centuries of the Church and her liturgy, this Greek “Lord have Mercy” was the phrase used. Have you noticed? We still have it and used it at each Mass.

Pleading for Compassion is a good thing to do by us to God. Yet it is interesting, in using Rabbi Kamsler’s research, that praying “Hesed” as our call for Mercy from God would have been an emphasis on asking God to remember His covenant and loyalty and promise to us. This prayer of mercy is a bit different than “eleison” petitions. ‘See?

The beginnings of the Kyrie Eleison, though, would have been in Jewish liturgy pre-Christ Jesus. The Psalms were many of the Temple and synagogue and pilgrim prayers. “Have pity on me, O Lord …” of Psalm 6:3 was in Hebrew originally, and for Jewish Religion, and the Septuagint translated it as compassion or pity. The Septuagint served as the Scriptures in those final two centuries or so before Jesus came as The Christ to the earth. The Jews had returned to their homeland, but had no longer the run of their land– it was in foreign powers’ hands (the Greeks, then later the Romans). There was a diaspora or dispersal of Jews all around the Mediterranean and its territories. The Jewish leadership and people left in Jerusalem and Israel were powerless, though they kept the form of Judaism (Temple prayers, holy days, religious practices) as watched over by Israel’s occupiers.

Yet HESED was the word for the lengthier time of Israel’s history and religion. When HESED was used (this Hebrew word for Mercy) it was in regard to man as describing from God (1) His doing favors and benefits for men; and (2) His kindness extended to the needy. Notice the difference when HESED is used to describe the actions of God: GOD’S HESED ….. the HESED of God means redemption from enemies and troubles; in one’s preservation of keeping life and not perishing in death. HESED refers to the quickening of spiritual life; in redemption from sin; and in keeping in covenant with God (as in Abraham’s one or with Moses’ one) with Israel.

In the context above, Hebrew and Catholic scholars today see that Mercy (as Hesed–and just as we use Mercy today in the Church) is a word much about referring to the loyalty of God. God keeps His covenants. God acts to be faithful to us. Mercy, then, is calling upon God for His commitment to save us. We mention His covenants to us. We especially note the Covenant of Jesus in His Body and Blood. Mercy is always related to the God/man Jesus and His Incarnational Sacrifice. His eternal covenant relates to His prior covenants, as seen in the Story of Israel and His call to their people, now fulfilled into the New Testament Church and her elect in Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior. The Catholic Church is all about covenants and our seven Sacraments are much of being signs of God’s fidelity or His Hesed (His Mercy). In our prayers, so often we pray Lord have mercy (on me) and Lamb of God have mercy (on us). We also speak to God in the Lord’s Prayer as needing to show faithfulness back to God even as we have been served faithfully by Him. It really explains why we pray “forgive us our trespasses AS WE forgive those who trespass against us.” We are looking to be in Hesed (Mercy). Not only does God give mercy, but the mercy He gives we can use to act in a steadfast, faithful, and kind manor to others. Because we are His child, even His embodiment in the world as a member of Christ’ Body. Hosanna! Hosanna!
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So, now, we have a Greek influence on our idea of Mercy— that it is about God’s compassion and holy pity. If we are to act like God (or, better said, with God), then we need compassion. Then we will be mercy filled (merciful).

We also have a Hebrew influence on our idea of Mercy— that it is about God’s loyalty and promise. If we are to act with God, then we need to appreciate God’s covenants to us (especially as expressed in Holy Mass as our renewal in covenant with God) and we need to show some fidelity or loyalty to God and to His Church established on earth by Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son Who became Incarnate (in the flesh on earth). We need to pray for the Divine Mercy to be accepted in the body of believers so we can be the body joined as to the Head, Who is Jesus. Jesus, the Head (and the Heart) desires to flow His mercy through us, to bless us, and to flow out into the world where Mercy is so desperately needed.

Mercy Mercy More.
The Holy Sacrificethe Priest The time is coming of Jubilee; I tell you truly, it is here being fulfilled now in your midst. For I AM bringing it.

Mercy Mercy

IMG_20140316_221206_850“What exactly IS ‘mercy’?’” you may ask. What’s the Bible say? What’s the Church say?
We could answer it by saying the question really is Who is Mercy… It is Jesus!

Yet in the answering of the what….

The word “mercy” in English has its roots in many beautiful words throughout the Bible. In the Hebrew Testament Hebrew we find the word “hesed” to mean as a covenant-pacted, steadfast, loving kindness.
And in the New Testament Greek we see the word “eleos” which means a kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.
And in the Latin I have heard that the word misericordia means “mercy”, derived from misericors, “merciful”, which is in turn derived from misereri, “to pity”, and cor, “heart”. In Medieval Latin, the word “misericordia” denoted various merciful things, and these senses were borrowed into English.
Its meaning in many other languages is related to words such as tenderness, kindness, sweetness, compassion, and pity.
cross

“Hesed” is the word that Catholics can best relate to in the understanding of mercy. Hesed was the loving kindness of God very often found in direct relationship to His covenant with His People in the Hebrew Covenant. We Catholics are covenant people. We are in the Christ (or Christian) Covenant era. Jesus is the full revelation of God and the Personal Sign of the Covenant of Peace with God. Jesus’ Cross is the covenant seal of the deal (or agreement) of God to humanity and humanity (in Jesus, the God-man) to God.

What is a covenant? As introduced in the Bible back a few thousand years, a covenant is a “blood-pact” –where one person says, “I will do this forever, if you will do that forever” and to mark the promise they would cut an animal open from head to toe, lay the two parts open opposite each other, walk in between them and say, “May you do that to me if I am unfaithful to the vow.” (Which BTW is where we get walking down the aisle for marriage with the groom’s family on one side and bride’s on the other–thankfully the last bit is not part of the deal.)

Enter God…

When God “cut a covenant” with Abraham, God knew that man could never keep his end of the bargain. Therefore God caused Abraham to “fall into a deep sleep” so that Abraham would never have to walk through the “split me open if…” part of the ceremony. (Genesis 15:9-18) We see that it was really UP TO GOD to keep the covenant by extending MERCY again and again to this “prone to wander” people. And in order to do that, God meted out a great deal of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, COMPASSION, LONG SUFFERING and SACRIFICE so that the “covenant” would work.

Enter Jesus…

Jesus was born for this reason: He is the fulfilment of the True Covenant. He is the once and for all sacrifice, our true “blood covenant” with God (read more about it in the New Testament book of Hebrews). It is by HIS blood that we enter into relationship with God and therefore receive the full extent of His mercy, love and forgiveness. All of this is offered to us because of what Christ has done for us on The Cross. He is our link between heaven and earth. We, too, are a “prone to wander” people, just as our spiritual ancestors were, and we too are still in need of His MERCY!

Pope Francis says mercy is “the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” Just this past week Francis said that Christians are all about bridges of connection with God. (We don’t want to put obstacles or walls up in the way for people to get to God; we are supposed to be ambassadors of reconciliation, even bridge builders in society.)
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So throughout this Year of Mercy…

Remember that we are given MERCY, not because we DESERVE it, as we do not. And we are able to extend MERCY, not on the basis that others DESERVE it, as they may not! We love because we have first been greatly loved, we forgive because we have first been greatly forgiven…

God gives us mercy to free us from the bondage of sin and slavery in order to enter into a loving relationship with us. We pass that free gift on to others because we ourselves have been loved and set free. (Thus the JUBILEE! A year in which we focus on forgiveness and healing by encouraging each other to grow spiritually through the sacraments and works of service to promote unity in the Church and in our world. 🙂

Mercy can be shown through tangible acts of love according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see #2447). “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.”

This Lent I am helping us all to remember those Works of Mercy. The bodily or corporal works of mercy are remembered better by Catholics, as they all appear together in the gospel of Matthew 25. The corporal works of mercy: Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked,
Give shelter to the homeless, Visit the sick, Visit the imprisoned, and Bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are not remembered so well. That is why I am covering it for Lent in homilies and blogs. Here they are:
Admonish the sinner, Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Comfort the sorrowful, Bear wrongs patiently, Forgive injuries, and
Pray for the living and the dead. I am covering them mostly alphabetically. So far we have done Admonish the Sinner and Bear Wrongs Patiently. Next will be Comfort the Sorrowful…

I pray that this year we will be like God in His Hesed– full of steadfast and loving kindness. I pray too that we can have Jesus in us as our Mercy. He Who was Mercy in the flesh in its most splendid, loving way–He lives in us now, His Body, to offer us participation in that faithful love and in that great extension of mercy to all.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

Bear Wrongs Patiently (2nd Sunday of Lent)

In this Year of Mercy I am presenting to you, as a Lenten Study, all of the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy. Each week we do one of them. This Sunday homily and blog post deals with “Bear Wrongs Patiently.”

What does this one mean? For starters, it calls us to partake in a holy endurance, coupled with Christ’ long suffering in us, so to find capacity to deal with all the wrongs that happen to us. Wrongs happen because of the broken world and sinful humanity. People make some awful choices out there and because of that people get hurt. You might recently have been the recipient of it; or you might have dealt it out to someone. So, as a committed Christian, what are we to do? We are frequently called to outlast hurts or wrongs or omissions that have offended us. Christ gives us some extra capacity to deal with hurt. It’s called His Grace. In our humanity we need to feel and deal with our hurt, rather than regularly suppressing it. How so? We are to take it to Christ Crucified. All things of this world of iniquity and sin and wrong are brought into Jesus’ Cross, and He makes peace by the Blood of that Cross.

Colossians 1:19-20 proclaims: “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, His Son, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself (all things!) having made peace through the Blood of Jesus’ Cross.”

Jesus Bore our Suffering–with all the wrongs of the world and of history; now we can bear the wrongs which with we face daily. Colossians 1 tells how we are to bring our burdens to Him, the Reconciler and Peacemaker. That would include all wrongs suffered. Two verses tell us more of God’s good advice: “Cast all your anxieties of life on Him, for He cares about you.” 1st Peter. 5:7 “Come, ye, all you who labor and are burdened-down, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

Why can God’s Son say such things? It is because He is The Christ’ Crucified Who bore everything for us at Calvary. He knows us. He knows the world. He knows our sin. He knows the root of them and the answer for them. (HE is the answer and remedy for them.)

If the sin of the world is hurting us, in its wronging us, that we are to bear wrongs patiently in the way Paul said could be a holy suffering that joins to Jesus’ Offering on The Cross.
Now we are to join our sufferings to Him, as this Work of Mercy is in the present tense as “bear wrongs patiently.” St. Paul in Colossians said that he believed his bearing of wrongs could be a holy suffering on his part to join unto Jesus’ Offering on the Cross. Colossians 1:24 says: “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His Body, which is the Church.” (That verse has so much in it that I invite you to meditate on its meaning sometime.)

We bear things to offer it to the Cross. Christ Jesus has already taken it on Himself, all the wrongs of the world, but it is important for us to join Him in that peace. We “bear wrongs patiently” that way. Patience is a word that could mean a long time, and it may mean a bearing of something until we meet Christ. Some things will take that long to be addressed. Then, the great healing will occur.

But lots of wrongs committed today can be dealt with today.

Some wrongs are really just mistakes or errors due to immaturity or misunderstanding. Christ Jesus figured that Peter, James and John were a bit clueless about this Feast of Booths celebration going on atop the mountain where they were. Today’s Gospel says that suddenly Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elijah appeared in the sky. Simon Peter fumbles for words to say about it: “Shall we put up three special tents for the feast day, since you have two friends visiting you up here, Jesus?” That’s basically what Peter says. (Luke’s gospel remarks: “Peter did not know what to say.) It was kind of a dumb thing to say. It was one of the greatest understatements of all the Bible. Here Jesus is in divine brilliance, summoning to Him the Old Testament figures of the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. There is great power going on in Jesus. Peter, waking from a nap, says something far too quickly about his experience. “Wow” would have been more appropriate! And here in this episode Jesus bears the immaturity and misunderstanding and verbal faux pas of his big fisherman following. And Jesus will bear with yours and my own not-getting-it moments of life. Because God is patient. So much we learn the same.

IMAG0203_1 One of Jesus lessons on the ever-patient mercy and wrong-bearing goodness of the Father is told in His Parable of the Prodigal Son. The story might as well be renamed The Parable of the Very Patient and Loving Father, for His son’s return. That was a long wait for that dad. So endure wrongs patiently is the work of mercy.

The epistle in today’s Mass tells us that we should live for the Kingdom of God, for the world is in quite the mess around us. The system of the world takes sins and wrongs as acceptable choices. As Paul says, people apart from God sadly “glory in their shame.” Fallen and separated humankind does erroneously figure that they can be arrogant before God and do all they brazenly want—thinking that there are no such things as absolutes or laws of God to follow nor consequences to fear for bad actions done to others. There is a Day coming when God will deal with all of the wrongs in people and punish them clearly and truthfully. Until then, we need to live as a Christian and be counter-culture and to stand up for God and His Ways. We will have to bear some hardship for it along the way.

Bearing Wrongs Patiently can be harder than the other Work of Mercy of “Forgive Injuries.” At least in the latter, someone is apologizing and owning up to the hurt they inflicted. Yet in bearing wrongs, one may never see the wrong person change nor the offense or infraction acknowledged. That’s why patience is put in the Work of Mercy. We will patiently have to leave the matter in God’s hands…
IMAG0201_1_1 We may never see the thaw of the ice-cold wrongs that are commitment in our lifetime. The Light of Christ’ Coming will take it out in an instant, though. As I was looking at some ice pile in our parking lot that just won’t melt, it demonstrated to me how some things stubbornly hang around. Sin is that way. This ice/snow just is a cold-hearted pile that is in the way of foot and car traffic on our lot. The photo shows the east door parking space all occupied by a cold patch of ice that just won’t melt away. But the warmth of the sun will reduce it eventually. Spring and Easter is coming.

As for ourselves, if we find that we are not bearing wrongs well in our Catholic lives, then St. Faustina recommends that we have greater intimacy with the Eucharist(1487). “To the suffering soul Jesus said: But understand that the strength by which you bear sufferings come from frequent Communion (or prayers to the Blessed Sacrament)… So approach this fountain of mercy often, to draw with the vessel of trust whatever you need.”

to be continued…

Admonish the Sinner (1st Sunday of Lent)

Our Lord reminds us in the Gospel today that He went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to discipline and hone Himself for the ministry life that was commencing. It was hard work, not just bodily, but also for the spiritual part, since He was doing it in a human nature, as well as in His divine one.

This example of Jesus can certainly inspire us to use these 40 days of Lent in this Year of Mercy to discipline ourselves and to let our Faith overflow in works of charity and/or of mercy. In this season, I have decided pastorally to draw your attention to the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy. In each Lenten Sunday and week, I will cover one with you in my homilies and my pastor’s blog on the parish web site.

Today we will consider the Spiritual Work of Mercy of “Admonish the Sinner.” A definition of it would be “to offer correction to a person who needs it, while acting as God’s agent, serving as His instrument of goodness, truth and loving guidance.

To admonish the sinner is not to judgingly scold a person, nor to talk down to them over some human fault or weakness they have. I think some people think that’s what it means. But it is certainly not so. If one pictures a so-called ‘superior’ person of character giving harsh lip or correction to a so-called ‘inferior person,’ then it’s far off from being a Work of Mercy. Why? Mercy does not involve harsh one-way judgments, nor anything like accusations given to others. The devil is the accuser, and he works harshly and meaning. God does not condemn people in His admonishing sinners, choosing people to be vessels of His service of reproof.

Think of Jesus and His Mercy. In that famous John 3:16 verse of “God so loved the world that He gave His Son,” many don’t realize the great meaning of the verse that follows right behind it. I’ve seen Christians try forcefully an evangelism style of “I’m-with-God-up-here-over-you attitude—and you’re-the- sinner-down-there” approach–and they use John 3:16 to convince or convict (really coerce) a sinner to come to their senses and repent. Yet as well and nice it is to share of the Lord to others, that method needs the follow through of John 3:17 which says “for God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to saved the world through Him.” I think that John 3:17 tells us a lot about Jesus’ mission.

As surely God’s Son came to deal with sin and sinners, it is meaningful to see that Jesus spent time among sinners, and He ate with them, and He got to know them, and He listened to them, and He saw them in love and mercy, AND He forgave them. Jesus also helped them to see what was best in them and what was best for them.

I point out the first obvious thing. You can’t “admonish the sinner” if you are not amidst them, that is, engaged with them, and at least caring for them. This was Jesus’ example. They accused Him often of “hanging around sinners” or being in the company or interest of those not so favored by society. Jesus liked this charge against Him. It meant He was doing His job and getting out to be with all the people, not just being around the favored ones. It also showed, quite starkly, of how sin, not love nor holiness, was running the show for his accusers. It made His mission clear. God does not condemn, He reaches out and gets involved in all of humanity’s great mess. The foe of God accuses. Sometimes the foe also tries to slip in accusation in place of admonishment. Yet there is great difference between them. Admonishment is done in love. And love first engages the sinner. God comes to us to help us, though He did not in any way have to do it.

Think of Pope Francis today and his own example as pontiff as getting out with all the people. As he reaches out recently to the Chinese, to the Russians, to the people in the barrios, to the homeless or prisoners, as well as to high officials or to nice society— he is among or amidst the people. His slogan is to have the smell of the sheep, if he is the shepherd. What criticism Pope Francis takes for this. Yet, also, look at who is noticing his love and outreach. He is to represent Christ as His vicar on earth, and Francis borrows a lot of guidance from Jesus as told about Him in the gospel(s). necessarily sinning like them, but or even see yourself as a fellow sinner in the world, and there, but for the grace of God, go I (like St. Paul said of himself).

So to live this first spiritual work of mercy is to be mixing in the world, like Jesus did. As we imitate Him, we know that God is in His Christians now and want to bear and shine His holy light to many needed places and people— all in need of becoming enlightened and led out of their darkness or greyness. The spirit of admonishing the sinner does come with a loving correction or reproof or rebirth in mind for the person’s in sins grasp. We will get there. Yet first see Jesus taking on temptation and sin in the desert, versus the foe, and getting acquainted first-hand of what humanity is up against in the fallen world. As we go through our Lents to our Easters, we have the goal to fight for the Light and the right, so to be light to the world, and salt of the earth.

Before we define the correcting part of this spiritual work of mercy, of “admonishing the sinner,” we must also know another thing. If called to really be active in this work of mercy, we need to be first filled in goodness. To admonish the sinner, in the example of Jesus, is to follow the Way He modeled the Good and how He invited them to taste and see the goodness of God. Jesus comes to people in goodness of life. It’s an attitude again of not being haughty, bossy, quick-to-judge, or better-than-the-other. Goodness is always not just concerned for one’s own good, but also always the good of the other. Jesus put His Spirit in us, and He wants us to live in His goodness. Jesus once asked a man: “Why do you call me good? Only God alone is good.” Jesus was asking the man who called Him “Good Teacher” if he really meant it, because if the goodness of God was seen in Him, then He (truly as God) could be trusted, as He asked the rich young ruler to make a change in his life. Yes, He was admonishing the man for holding on to worldliness. The man did not take Jesus’ guidance and word, but not because Jesus’ wasn’t good. Jesus was offering eternal life, which is very good, and the text in the gospel says that Jesus looked with great love upon the man, even as He was admonishing him.

We need that goodness, with Jesus’ Spirit in us, when we are to best “admonish the sinner” around us.

God’s wants in us a living example of goodness and true love with our faith practice. God inspires in us to have humility or compassion in any of our service to Him to other persons, especially when showing a person the way to go aright. Goodness will draw many to the Light, and certainly will not any condemning or critical or mean spirit. Goodness validates the freedom and truth and happiness and deliverance that is God’s offer to get people out of their fears and sins.

I think of admonishing others in the Spirit of Mercy is for both within the Church as a practice, and to be shared out to others outside the Body of Christ. As within the Church, we should look to connect with other parishioners or Catholics in our life circle and be close enough to encourage some people to become their best, and to notice and point out mercifully when we are falling from grace and hurting ourselves or others.
Jesus invited people to do things they never thought they were capable of doing. He inspired them with His holiness, and, in that way, we disciples of His can hope to live our faith well enough to inspire people around us to seek the higher and noble way of being. We can ‘admonish’ the world, which lives in such disdain and separation and bad attitude to others– by practicing the opposite of that, in a deep respect for others, to the human person, just because they are God’s fellow creation. We can offer dignity, even to those of whom we disagree or even have fundamental parting of ways with.

To admonish the sinner is also seen in Jesus’ ministry of lovingly giving warnings or “woes” to people of the consequences of sins. Yes, you know this is part of the Savior’s life, too. He would show in ministry that people were free to choose their our way, but in each choice people should know responsibly that A leads to B in the spiritual laws of God (or doing this leads to that). We warn people instinctively if they are heading out unknowingly into traffic. We might even yank them bank off the curb and road, for their protection. Yet, we don’t get it, in comparison, of how God also wants us to save people who are in our midst who are also lost and heading into more pain and disaster in their godlessness and sin. While we don’t yank them towards God, we do get involved, because our souls start to hear clearly their cries of woe.

Dr. Phil helps us Christians know how to go about things. In giving reproof, might we help people see the failure of their ways of the world, and its misery-making? Could we say, like the famous counselor: The ways of self and secular humanism–How’s that all working for ‘ya?! How do you see the world being: happy or sad? All good or in tragic need? Jesus came for those who were in need and could see the sickness of the world without Him. His admonishing the sinner is to help all of them get in the direction of heaven. He helps so as to save!

Saint Valentine’s Day

St. Valentines Day is this Sunday Feb. 14th.
Valentine was a priest in Rome in the times of great persecution of the Church. Fr. Valentine celebrated the Sacraments, including Matrimony, even at the threat of the Empire executing him for doing it. He indeed became a martyr.

The Church has remembered Valentine on Feb. 14, and he became the figure for today’s evolution of Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love and romance.

In recent ages Saints Cyril and Methodius took top billing on Feb. 14th, on the Church calendar, being the great missionary duo. Saint Valentine gets the less billing these days by the Church, by his public day of celebration is going strong.

After all, Valentine’s Day is about love. Everybody is for that!

God is love.

We give thanks to God for being Love and letting His people in Creation also share in living in love. We give Him thanks for inspiring couples to unite in Holy Matrimony, too, like Nonso and Musu. They married at St. Edwards on Feb. 7th.

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The work of Lent: Grace in action or godly cooperation [Ash Wed. Homily]

Homily: Blog Version–Added Length

There are those who want to cut to the chase, to only have the happy ending, and looking not to do the necessary work of reaching a goal. There are those who want the short-cuts, too, in avoidance of the long path that is usually taken to get somewhere they need to reach in their lives. Such people like to get around work and responsibility. In the field of Christian faith, such folks especially wouldn’t like the practice of Lent. Lent means that there is work for conversion to become more like Jesus; the season ‘broadcasts’ that there is no cut-to-the-chase or short-cut to Easter.

Lent has 40 days of conversion work, added along with the 7 Sunday feasts of celebration, and those are the 47 steps to a good Easter.
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So, my question is: Can one have full Easter joy without the work of Lent, or without one’s being in the conversion of life by an active, daily cooperation in the Spirit of Jesus? I really don’t think one can. Easter is the blessing that comes from the passion and sacrifice and Cross-Gift of Jesus, as practiced in us. We know the Risen Jesus through our knowing the Lord of Passion and Christ Crucified.

In that, we also then hopefully anticipate the Glorious Day of Christ Return, which will end our current era. This “packages” as one the experience of Paschal Mystery for the believer. Ascension and Pentecost time in the Church Year follow through on the Lent and Easter experience for our true Pasch.

So the Gospel reading today makes sense, then, that we don’t just have a surface level start here on Ash Wednesday, would that the ashes be only an exterior symbol for us (as short-cut hypocrites want it). For Catholics, we like having our external signs but we know they are given to lead us to the inward reality and renewal they propose.

Our Ash Wednesday rites today are about openness to the interior renewal God has planned for us. The secret or inside work of God is what Jesus put all the emphasis on in this teaching today from His Sermon of the Mount.

As Jesus advised, He didn’t want his disciples to put on long faces while fasting, so to just look gloomy enough for a day, all for appearance sake. In Jesus’ministry, He saw through the emptiness of men in ritual disguise of a penitential life, and pointing it out, He called His disciples to have a real experience with Him, in humbling themselves before God. For, as Jesus said, those who are humbled shall be exalted.

In our own following of Jesus in 2016, in a time in history of a lot of show and bluffing and pretense in the world by people, Jesus wants these ashes and today’s fast to be part of a good Lenten start, in a 40 day offering of ourselves before God. (Sundays we will have as feast and rest, as usual.). So let’s not just make this a one-day thing of Wednesday ritual, ok? Today begins a journey with God to more growth and holiness. Do not be afraid. Take this Lenten road all the way to the Holy Triduum–so as to present yourself well (by Lenten renewal) for a Holy Thursday where you can sup with the Lord as His faithful disciple who has walked along with Him, AND take the Lenten road for a good remembrance of the Cross and Jesus’ love of you on Good Friday, AND keep to the walk to finish Lent with an Easter adorned in the new life that Christ’ Resurrection affords his practicing believer. That’s the plan–let’s get to work.

The process of a Lenten renewal is described well in Romans 6:4-5, as Paul the apostle teaches those early Christians: “Know you not that all we, who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” Paul is asking us to go from Christ’ Offering and His Sacrifice and Death, onto the joy of the Resurrected Lord of Victory. No short-cuts or go arounds. Can you see the Paschal Mystery here in this holy process launched today— as Romans 6 teaches that the Way of the Cross is the Way to Easter and to the hope of Redemption in Christ forever? (We spent a whole Lent in the past just on that theology term and the reality of Paschal Mystery. ‘Remember?)

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In this blog, let me relate a story of conversion–of someone in the Paschal Mystery– who tells of his change of life in Lent to Easter. The man says: ‘Easter used to be a brief hour of experience for me, lasting as long as the Easter Mass.’ It had no lead up of Lent, nor ever an overflow of blessing after it.’ I used to come to Easter Mass and notice the nice Easter lilies and colors in the church, with women wearing floral dresses and men in good attire with pastel or golden neckties or bow-ties. I heard some fanciful alleluias sung by the choir. I heard the proclamation that Jesus rose from the dead on this day. The Mass was a bit upbeat, too, due to Jesus’ happy finish of life, and many looked in a good mood about that. And yet, I wasn’t really much caught up in that happiness. I was just there, dutifully, because I thought, Catholics ought to be there at Easter Mass. That’s all…. The Monday after Easter, for me, then was just another Monday. There was no joy or carry-over from Easter Sunday.

You know, that frank description describes a number of Catholics who are living marginally or without much commitment going on. The interior renewal hasn’t really happened to them, or, at least not lately. Yet Lent is a season to shake that all loose. For the man in the story, “church” had been just a place to meet, as needed, like for Ash Wednesday or Easter, or for a funeral or baptism once in a while.

But he had a change of heart. Upon being convicted by the honorable practice of some Catholic men at his workplace, and by approaching them for counsel one Ash Wednesday on how to live in their deeper richness of Catholicism, this opened the door for God to give Him many good discoveries. Lent became a Springtime of renewal for him. And that’s fitting–because the word Lent means Spring.

We hope something like that happens in our parish this 2016 Lent. St. Edwards parish has a 3-night mission at the end of February by a man named Gary Zimak who has experienced such a revival in his heart and life. He will talk about God’s ever-present Mercy and about the Personal Relationship with Jesus. Save Feb. 28, 29 and March 1 on your calendar. It’s a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night at February’s end. It’s here for helping all our renewal in Lent. Newbies and long-time
journeymen.

So back to that guy of the Ash Wednesday to Easter leap…uh, “the short-cut guy.” What did make him excited in winter’s closing months and into Spring? He was mostly enamored with sports, like college basketball’s March Madness and baseball’s Spring Training and its start of a new season. But in seeing a few men at work that looked happy in their Catholicism, while also following the sports scores, he asked one of them over to watch a game with him at his house, and during the course of the afternoon, he did ask the man about his evident inward joy and Catholic faith.

This eventually led to the man joining into a men’s small group in the parish. He was given some help by them on how to pray daily, and soon it was a happy routine in the morning. He said: “It’s not the ESPN sports scoreboard that gets me out of bed in the morning, but now its the hope of Jesus Christ in my life and prayer to start the day. Sports still is a big interest of mine, but I know that it will pass away, but God has something deep and lasting and eternal for me.”
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His first Lent as a revived Catholic was not a labor in Lent, but more of a joy in the journey of knowing God, and experiencing God. The way he put it, he said he had the “igion” part of Catholic religion in his life, but not yet the REAL-igion Real Faith, living Faith, is now his.

Ash Wednesday’s liturgy now continues with our applying ashes to heads, with the words were spoken over us, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” It warns us, in a way, that we could remain in the mere mortal world and its deterioration, or we can have Springtime-like renewal. Let’s have Springtime in our Faith. It comes by Grace in action or a holy cooperation with the God Who wants to see us more awake to Him. 1204132009

Countdown to the ashes…

Lent is beginning Feb 10. I will have four Ash Wednesday Masses (including one for our whole school at St. Pius X). I will do our three elderly home visit Masses on Thursday (with ashes) and a Thursday night Mass in the parish. Lent will start with a flurry (and maybe a few snowflakes, too).

Like the game Monopoly, Lent is not a fast experience but 40 plus days of going around the board of one’s life with God, and seeing “what God owns” to what we are keeping in our own ‘possession.’IMAG0188_1
LENT-OPOLY! The cards in hand are —Fasting and Penance railroad. AND
Almsgiving: Give 10% to the needy. AND Works of Charity: Pass Go and find a space to give your love and time to help.
‘Ready to play?!