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Showing posts from December, 2009

My 54th New Year's Eve

Had a beautiful Mass this evening in Mildred, PA, at St. Francis Church. The music was beautiful. The event is sublime!
It is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Mary is the Mother of God because there was never a moment when Jesus was not God from God, Light from Light, and True God from True God.
Of all Her titles, Mother of God is the most important to the Church for it clearly proclaims the Divinity of Jesus. There is much discussion regarding the divinity of Jesus. Some say He was just a human person endowed by God with special gifts. Some say He was made divine when God raised Him from the dead, but was just human until after He died. Some say he was never human at all, but just an appearance of humanity (like a body snatcher or something?). Some try to make a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith.
This most glorious title of our Blessed Lady clearly disputes the above heresies. She is truly the mother of Jesus. He is fully human. He is also…

How to Get Sinners to Leave Your Church

There is a problem that some people have asked me to address:
Dear Father Mike,
I have a question that I was discussing with some of my parish friends. It seems that there are, from time to time, people who are not really very good Christians who continue to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion. Some of them are just unpleasant people who scowl and complain every time we see them. Some of these people are, according to good sources, known to frequent bars and participate in questionable activities around town. There are those, as we all to well know this past week, who only come to Mass on "special" days like Easter and Christmas. Then they take all the good seats, often the ones that everyone know is where someone else always sits. It is not that we mind guests, but we are more concerned about people who are supposed to be members, but give us a bad reputation by their actions and life styles. I guess what I am asking is if there is anything I (we) can do…

PRAY FOR PRIESTS!

Today I went to a local parish which has Eucharistic Adoration every Tuesday, except when there is a fifth Tuesday in the month. Guess what... Yep, this is the 5th Tuesday of December. I am praying that one day our little town of Williamsport, PA, will have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel somewhere. If I am ever made pastor, my church will have Perpetual Adoration. That is my promise to our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
So, anyway, I had a nice time praying in this Church all decorated in Christmas splendor to honor our Lord's Incarnation. While I was praying, two lovely elderly ladies came in to make a visit. Before they left, they came over to me and introduced themselves. They, mother and daughter, are relatively new to the area. The mother is a member of the Church where we were praying. The daughter is a member of The Door, a congregation that protests Catholicism and much of Protestantism. She did not seem to share the disdain for Catholics I have encountered among ma…
The Feast of the Holy Family
"...and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man." (Luke 2:52)

Mary pondered all these things in her heart and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature. Mary pondered. Jesus grew.
It seems to me that this is the whole of the Christian life and experience. We encounter Christ in some way, great or small. We reflect on this experience. And, Glory to God, He grows in our hearts, our awareness and our living.
What a joy it is to have the knowledge and favor of God grow in our lives through each encounter with Christ Jesus. There seem to be times, however, when the encounters are rare. What then should we do? We should follow the example of His holy Mother. Mary found the Child Jesus in the temple. We, likewise, must get to the "temple" to find Him in those desolate times when we feel lost or cannot feel His presence. Of course, I am referring specifically to the Church,…

Solstice

As the earth tilts away from the sun, the days grow shorter, the light is dimmer, the night is longer. At times it seems as though the darkness will overcome.
As a person tilts further and further away from the Son, the very light of life seems to be about to be extinquished. The darkness can be overwhelming. I know. I have been there.
Lately I have been experiencing a different type of darkness. It is not due to "tilting away" from God. It seems to be more of a natural result of the growing desire to completely unite to Him. Like the change of seasons, the spiritual life naturally passes from one season to another. Is you soul in winter? Spring cannot be far behind. Are you basking in the warmth of His Love. Remember this grace for the times when the prayer seem to be empty and the Lord appears to be distant.
Seasons of Prayer. Seasons of the spiritual life. Sometimes it helps just to remember that this may just be a season.

Why try to write my own when I just found this:

From the Decree of Damasus:






The arrangement of the names of Christ, however, is manifold: Lord, because He is Spirit; Word, because He is God; Son, because He is the only-begotten son of the Father; Man, because He was born of the Virgin; Priest, because He offered Himself as a sacrifice; Shepherd, because He is a guardian; Worm, because He rose again; Mountain, because He is strong; Way, because there is a straight path through Him to life; Lamb, because He suffered; Corner-Stone, because instruction is His; Teacher, because He demonstrates how to live; Sun, because He is the illuminator; Truth, because He is from the Father; Life, because He is the creator; Bread because He is flesh; Samaritan, because He is the merciful protector; Christ, because He is anointed; Jesus, because He is a mediator; Vine, because we are redeemed by His blood; Lion, because he is king; Rock, because He is firm; Flower, because He is the chosen one; Prophet, because He has revealed what is to come!
AMEN

Tidings.

A cold heart. A cold greeting. A cold breeze. A cold grave. And a cold shoulder.

What at day. Even priests and other faithful followers of Jesus are not immune.

I try not to let "it" get me down. I'm not always very successful. So I have a trace of the holiday blues. Notice that I did not say Christmas blues. The holidays can be downright depressing as we witness so many people becoming frantic: cookies to bake, gifts to buy, house to decorate, parties to attend and host, work that won't wait until after the holidays... It is the plague of modern life, this holiday season. And the whole time the radios blare out the insipid music we call Christmas Songs and holiday music. What once proclaimed the birth of our Savior, now glorifies infidelity as it rocks and rolls over souls numbed by consumerism and passion.

It makes me long and nearly mourn for a return to a time when no one cared about holidays. After all, it didn't matter what the day, the cows stil…

Christmas Friendships & Family

My grandmother continues to do as well as can be expected considering her age and previous health record. She will be 95 on December 16. Can you imagine the changes she has witnessed in that span of time: radio, cars, television, antibiotics, space travel, computers, just to name a few. In addition to all those externals are all the relationships which have run and continue to run their evolutionary course from inception to conclusion. All of this is quite ordinary except for the span of time she has endured. Somehow, though, I find it quite daunting, this passage of time with all its changes. To me, this ordinary process is so extraordinary! I watch in awe, almost afraid to breath, as though any movement might break the spell. Or perhaps, by not breathing I might be able to stop this relentless passage of time. Perhaps I could keep my grandmother alive forever, something I couldn't do for my mother. The ravings of a madman and the hope of a fool...

I risked a breath toda…

Some musings on the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish

Leftovers or part of God’s endless supply of blessings?

Jesus blessed the fish and the loaves of bread. 5 fish. 2 loaves. And the multitudes were fed. 7 baskets were left over. Cups overflowing. Abundance galore. More than enough and then even more.

The same, saving Lord continues to bless with the 7, this time not bread and fish, but 7 sacraments. 7 sources of his divine love. 7 moments in time that speak of His unspeakable love. They reveal His unknowable Nature. They create in us what is already from the beginning of time. What is unforgivable is forgiven.

These seven moments we know as the Seven Sacraments. From Baptism through Last Rites, we are given abundant Grace with more than enough to give to all with whom we come into contact.

There is no limit to the abundant Grace God has given to us. At times we may think that we are lacking. All that we are really lacking is the presence of mind to see what is there.

Advent Joy is Every Day Joy!

Joy

Was talking to a dear friend of mine the other night. She had read an article on joy which stated that although we interpret the meaning of the word to be happiness, the actual original meaning was grace.

Grace is such a rich reality. It includes all of the following:
The presence of God
The power of Love
The incredible knowledge of being ultimately safe in the care of God
Being blessed, gifted and happy.
So joy includes happiness, but is not limited to it. Joy is the manifestation of grace in our lives when we realized that we are not trapped by our fears, sadness, difficulties or emotions.

I find that Joy is and independent truth. It exists as a very real expression of the Grace of God. Joy is. And joy is not limited nor is it extinguished by those moments of life which we often label negatively. Thomas Merton has written,
"Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for Joy. And if you do not know the difference betw…

You Cannot Heal Yourself Out of Hell

You Cannot Heal Yourself Out of Hell

I read this most amazing statement just today. At first I didn't know what to do with that statement. I was wondering if that meant we were stuck. No way out for us. We just have to endure this vale of tears until the time of our deliverance. The world will always be violent. I will forever be crazy and tormented. The gates to Eden are not only locked, but lost long ago, never to be found. The only hope we have is to be strong enough to endure until the day of our salvation.

You can't heal yourself out of hell. All you can do is to love yourself into heaven. To love yourself means to put yourself fully and totally into the hand of Love Itself. In this sense, loving yourself has nothing to do with narcissism. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is not grasping and grabbing for all we want. It is completely releasing the self with all its desires and and even its needs, into the Hands of God.

God, alone, holds real love. And H…

The Rosary Saved My Life

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

I am now one month back in active ministry. I cannot explain the depth of joy I feel when I am doing the Lord's work as a Catholic Priest. I still struggle with Church "issues" and personalities within the presbyterate. I have tried to mend any broken relationships with my brothers. Some have accepted my attempts at reconciliation. Some have not. I doubt that I will ever attain any remarkable level of sanctity. I hope to attain Heaven as the Blessed Mother, the Saints and many fine Catholic people continue to pray to Jesus for me. With the above disclaimers, I want to share something that "happened" to me and in me this past year.

Because I had been barred from Sacramental ministry for a year (until this October, 2009) I was totally lost. I felt that my world had fallen apart. My purpose here is not to defend myself or to cast blame. Our Good Lord knows enough blaming has already b…