Friday, August 30, 2013

The topic of spiritual battle has been coming up alot in my conversations with parishioners and even with random people who are not members of my church.  They see my collar and holler, "Hey Father, got a minute?"  Of course I've always got a minute or two!  

The conversation will go something like, "I was reading the Bible and it mention that Satan is roaring like a lion.  Do you think that could have anything to do with..."

The "with" can refer to anything from violence in  Egypt and throughout the Middle East to topics like politics, divorce, abortion and immorality of all kinds.  

Since this is happening so often, I want to remind everyone to pray the prayer of St. Michael.  At my church, we pray it after every Mass.  St. Michael is a powerful ally against the evil one and its minions. Just in case you do not remember the prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Gospel reading for Mass this past Tuesday was the following passage from the Gospel of Matthew:

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.

You pay tithes of mint and dill and cumin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”   (Matthew 23:23-36)

As I was praying over the passage I had a funny memory from my first pastorate in the early days of my priesthood.  I was pastor of a small church in rural West Virginia.  My first week there I took on the task of getting to know all the elderly parishioners who were no longer able to attend Mass.  One such parishioner was a dear old lady named Julia.  

Julia lived in one of a row of 4 or 5 houses that comprised the Italian "section" of town.  I was fascinated by the old brick ovens each home had in the back yard for baking Italian bread.  Julia was quite frail by the time I got to know her.  Her glasses were as thick as the proverbial bottom of an old glass coke bottle.  Her dentures were just a sneeze away from escaping her mouth.  She always kept one finger on them to keep them in place.  She was a hoot--a true character--and I LOVE hoots!  Julia and I became good friends during the 5 years I was her pastor.  She has since gone to her reward, and I pray for her still.

The reading about the blind Pharisee reminded me of my very first visit with her.  In the course of the visit, Julia offered me a cup of coffee.  Not wanting to reject her hospitality, I accepted.  It was good, strong Italian roast.  My favorite!  But I got quite a surprise when I got to the bottom of the cup.  There was a critter of some sort, long dead and petrified into a substance that might have been a very old cup of dried coffee.  Of course I didn't say a thing.  Other than a a slight yuk factor, there was no harm done.  Before I left I washed out her cup and mine, gave her a kiss, and never spoke of it until now.  

The funny thing was, the next day one of my parishioners warned me not to drink from Julia's cups because she was nearly blind and couldn't tell a clean cup from a dirty one.  

So now, when I read that passage I always pray for clean dishes and a clean heart.

Dear Julia.  May she rest in peace.

Friday, August 23, 2013

For Your Consideration:

The Catechism of the church explains subsidiarity succinctly: 1883 Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

This has been an extraordinary week of graces and blessings.  A long period of dryness in my ministry has come to an end.  Here are just a few wonderful events this week for which I wish to give thanks to God:
--3 people asked me to help them come back to Church! 3 in one week in a small, rural, mostly protestant area!  Praise God.
--A difficult situation in my parish was resolved.
--My students preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation are finally prepared.
--I actually had a humming bird let me "pet" it and hold it in my hand for a few seconds yesterday.
--My daily Holy Hour has been a source of consolation all week.
--Solanus Casey, St. Bernard, St. John Eudes and St. Padre Pio have been really helping me.

These are just a few of my wonderful blessings.  Each of the above situations are just part of a series of answered prayers.  Thank You Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  I love you.  Help me to love you more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013