Posts in Category: Faith

ADVENT 1st Sun

From Fr John at St Roberts in Johnston RI – Homily 

One day Little Johnny was lying on a hill on a warm spring day gazing up at the white puffy clouds. Soon he began to think @ God — so he said out loud — God are you up there? To his surprise a voice came from the clouds — Yes Johnny what can I do for you? Seizing the opportunity, Johnny asked: “God what’s a million years like to you?” Realizing that Johnny could fully understand the concept of eternity, God said: “A million years to me  is like 1 minute.” “Oh,” said Johnny, “well then what’s a million $ like to you?” “ A million $ to me is like 1 penny,” said God. “Getting an idea” Johnny said “WOW…God you are so generous could I have one of your pennies?” God replied, “Sure Johnny, no problem, just wait a minute.”

Little Johnny wasn’t quite expecting that answer was he? In that sense it’s a perfect ADVENT story, for this is the Church’s season of waiting and of being ready.

  • Advent reminds us that God’s time & society’s way of measuring time are two very different things.
  • Advent is the Church’s time for walking slowly when others are rushing and speeding all around us .
  • Advent is the Church’s time for traveling lightly when consumers are becoming more burdened with mountains of merchandise.
  • Advent is the Church’s time for eating sensibly when people around us are eating & drinking far beyond common sense.
  • Advent is the Church’s time to focus inwardly to our hearts & our souls—when too many have forgotten the true reason for this season.
  • IN FACT Without Advent its almost impossible for us to find the real Christ of Christmas.

When we become so preoccupied with planning parties or become stressed out with shopping, or writing cards or baking tons of cookies, or decorating our house and yard — we can actually miss the birthday of the Prince of Peace because we are so emotionally & physically over-extended.

When our eyes are dazzled by too much tinsel and too many lights, by too many reindeer, and too many snowmen, we can actually have trouble seeing the simple Star of Bethlehem guiding us to the Savior’s humble stable.

Remember when Christ first came among us He kept it Simple, Silent, And Slow. We are the ones who have turned it UP SIDE DOWN.

When I was a kid my father and I would sometimes go for a walk on Sunday afternoons to see the trains. I remember the signs at the RR crossing with the words: STOP– LOOK– LISTEN.

In a sense the Simple message of Advent invites us to do the same in our lives today.

STOP some of the Madness & craziness of the so called Holiday season….Keep it simple LOOK around at the world with all its needs & beauty, all its people & its struggles and ask ourselves — How will my preparations for Christmas help them experience God’s love in a real way?

LISTEN to Christ’s call in the Gospel to be ready for Him whenever or however He reveals Himself to us today.

STOP — LOOK— LISTEN; Write those words down and put them where you can see them as an ADVENT reminder.

In other words — Pay attention to the deeper values & truths that Advent calls us to.

It’s OK to decorate your yard & home as long as we remember it’s not the Snowman’s B-day we are celebrating. It is Christ for whom we wait to return in glory & love to redeem His people.

Advent reminds us that God has already given us all we need in the Greatest Gift ever — Our savior & our brother Jesus Christ.

Thru Him we can all put aside our fears, our failures and our frustrations — and accept God’s friendship, God’s freedom and God’s forgiveness.

As we begin this Season of Paying Attention — Stop   Look   Listen  &  Keep it simple

Put aside some extra time for Christ each day

(reflection books)

  • Try to attend Mass one other day during the week if  you can
  • Look to see how can help one other person in need
  • And finally ask yourself — What gift will I offer to Christ on C-mas Day?

May we Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we begin this season of Advent preparation.

Rosary

For those unsure about how to pray this staple of Catholic prayer

Pope Pius XI is famous for saying, “If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.”

The Rosary is a powerful prayer, but a surprising number of Catholics are not familiar with it. Older generations are often seen praying it in church or at home, but young people are not always taught how to use the holy beads.

The good news is that it is a simple prayer, one that is easy to pick up on after praying a few decades.

Below is a short beginner’s guide for those interested in the Rosary, but who were never taught how to pray it by their parents, grandparents or religious educators.

Each rosary (the string of beads) has a crucifix at the end of a short extension below the loop. Begin by holding the crucifix and making the sign of the cross.

The very first prayer of the Rosary is the Apostles’ Creed. It is a short profession of faith, affirming your beliefs in the Catholic Church. Recite this prayer while holding the crucifix.

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Amen.

A large bead follows after the crucifix. On this bead recite the Our Father.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

Pray three Hail Marys on the following three beads. There is at least one tradition that suggests a person should pray for the theological gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity on these beads.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Before the next bead, holding onto the chain of the Rosary, pray the Glory Be.

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

At the next large bead, meditate on the first mystery of the Rosary and pray the Our Father.

The Rosary is divided up into five sections known as “decades,” called so because each decade contains ten small beads. During these decades it is customary to mediate on a “mystery” from the life of Christ. Tradition assigns different mysteries of the Rosary to each day of the week, but individual piety is not bound to it.

Mondays and Saturdays
The Joyful Mysteries surrounding Christ’s birth: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38); The Visitation (Luke 1:39–56); The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1–21); The Presentation of Jesus (Luke 2:22–38); The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52)

Tuesdays and Fridays
The Sorrowful Mysteries center on Jesus’ passion and death: The Agony of Jesus in the Garden (Matthew 26:36–56); The Scourging at the Pillar (Matthew 27:26); The Crowning with Thorns (Matthew 27:27–31); The Carrying of the Cross (Matthew 27:32); The Crucifixion (Matthew 27:33–56).

Wednesdays and Sundays
The Glorious Mysteries reflect on the Resurrection and other heavenly episodes: The Resurrection (John 20:1–29); The Ascension (Luke 24:36–53); The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (Acts 2:1–41); The Assumption of Mary into Heaven; The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Thursdays
St. John Paul II made the most recent addition to the Rosary with the Mysteries of Light, also called the Luminous Mysteries. They fill a gap in the life of Jesus that wasn’t covered by the traditional mysteries of the Rosary: The Baptism in the River Jordan (Matthew 3:13–16); The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1–11); The Preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15); The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8); The Institution of the Holy Eucharist (Matthew 26).

After meditating on the first mystery, pray a Hail Mary on the ten beads that follow. At the end of each decade pray the Glory Be. Some Catholics add the Fatima Prayer at the end of each decade, reciting the words taught by Our Lady of Fatima.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy

Repeat the above instructions for each mystery until reaching the end of the five decades.

At the end of the Rosary the next prayer is the Hail, Holy Queen. You may pray this prayer while holding the medal that joins the crucifix extension to the loop of the rosary.

Hail, holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

To conclude the Rosary some pray the St. Michael Prayer, and then end with the following invocation.

O God, whose only-begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation; grant we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

End by making the Sign of the Cross.

“RABBI, WHERE DO YOU LIVE?”

(Jn. 1:39)
“And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What is you want?’ They answered Rabbi, where do you live? He replied “come and see. (Jn. 1:38-39). So the disciples took up the invitation and followed and spent the day with him. It is unfortunate that we do not have an account of what took place that day. What did they discuss? What was the reaction to this one who The Baptist call the “Lamb of God?” But, if Jesus was true to form, he would have begun to instruct these two would-be disciples in the Reign of God.

How does one begin to instruct another is a very new and novel way of thinking? I would think that the instructor would begin by giving some very broad ideas and concepts that would set the stage, as it were, to more in-depth information. Jesus would most likely invite these two to explore a new way of looking at life, not as we would view it, but as God would view it.

Jesus may have first present the “Broad View of God.” In this view, Jesus would invite the disciples to see that in a world where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more. That God’s last world is LOVE and HATE. That God is very hopeful, as hopeful as the old woman who is once heard to boast, “I’ve lived through the Depression and three world wars – I hardly wait to see what happens next!”

Jesus may have invited these men to explore would may be the “Long View of God.” Jesus would ask these disciples to take a new look at what nature shows us every day. That is, life can and does emerge from death. That some things must die that others may be born and that Victory can come from seeming defeat.

At last, Jesus may have invited the disciples to explore the “Value View of God.” Here, Jesus might remind these would – be disciples that being God is about all things. God is able to see everything in perspective and that all things are not equal. Here Jesus would tell the disciples to get their priorities in order. Jesus would tell them several important facts of this new life. First, that GIVING comes before RECEIVING. Two, that BEING is better than HAVING. Third, that GOOD comes from GOOD MEANS and Forth, that PEOPLE are prior to THINGS, and that God is most important above all.

We who have taken up the Lord’s invitation to “come and see” might want to come to understand that God is not looking for perfection. Rather, God is looking for people who are willing to strive towards that perfection to which we are all called. Maybe, just maybe, if we begin to see our world and ourselves through the eyes of God, we might be able to laugh a little more at some of our short comings, be a little more open, forgiving, and at peace with ourselves and those around us. And in this way we might, just might, come to believe that being human is our way to becoming divine.

Peace and All Good

Fr. Vinnie, osf

DECIDE TO FORGIVE

 

For resentment is negative, resentment is poisonous, resentment diminishes and devours the self. Be the first to forgive, to smile and to take the first step, and you will see happiness bloom on the face of your human brother or sister.

 

Be always the first do not wait for others to forgive for by forgiving you become the master of fate the fashioner of life the doer of miracles.  To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.

 

    Here is the program for achieving a truly forgiving heart:

Sunday: Forgive yourself.
Monday: Forgive your family.
Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.
Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.
Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within you own nation.
Friday: Forgive across political lines within you own nation.
Saturday: Forgive other nations.

Only the brave know how to forgive.
A coward never forgives, it is not in their nature.

By Robert Muller (from Dear Abby)

“THOSE WHOM HE CURED, WHO WERE VARIOUSLY AFFLICTED, WERE MANY, AND SO WERE THE DEMONS HE EXPELLED.”

Fr. Raymond Brown wrote: “. . . working within the worldview of his time, Jesus, by driving out demons in his process of healing, is indicating that sickness is not simply a bodily ailment but is a manifestation of the power of evil in the world. . . suffering, tears, disasters and death are representative of alienation from God and of evil. . . the very existence of such factor indicates the incompletion of God’s plan.”
In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that the crowd came to Peter’s mother-law’s house and he cured them. We do not hear about who came, how he healed them or what he healed them of. Dis that beg to be healed? Did they allow the sickest to go first? Mark gives no instructions on how to behave or on what to say.
But, is it all that easy? “. . . no healing, no gift from God comes without some conditions.” William Faulkner once wrote. “The past is not dead –it is not ever past.” This sets the context for God’s condition. The past is not dead. Another southern writer, Flannery O’Connor, wrote in a short story about a father asking forgiveness from his son. The father states; I did not trust you, but please forgive me and forget it.” To which the son replied; “I’ll forget it, but you better not forget it.”
The past is not dead. . .it is not even past. . .the present is the totality of what went before. The acid of our past etches the metal of the present.
Even though we are healed, we still carry the scars that should remind us that we have wondered where we should not have gone. God asks that we remember that. God offers us healing, but that healing must be total me in the past, present, and future. God’s healing should make our lives a celebration of second chances and our prayer should be; “O God of second chances, here I am again.”
Peace and All God
Fr. Vinnie, osf

FRANCISCAN BLESSING

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work of justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in the world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what other claim cannot be done.
Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER AS A MORNING MEDITATION

Developed by Rev. Frank Toia
(Based on unpublished material by the Rev. Dr. John Weterhoff.

Our Father, who art in heaven. . .
What do you want to make possible in my life today which neither I nor any other human being can make possible without you?
Hallow be thy name. . .
What are the ordinary and routine experiences of life which you wish to make sacred today?
Thy Kingdom come. . .
In what specific ways do you plan to bring about your Kingdom through me today?
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. . .
What are the “Gethsemanes” in my life today about which I need today as you did, “Thy will be done”?
Give us today our daily bread. . .
What kind of spiritual, physical and emotional nourishment do I need most today?
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. . .
For what action or inaction do I need to be forgiven? Whom do I need to forgive? For what do I need to forgive myself as you have forgiven me?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. . .
From what do I need to be protected today?
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you, God, for your guidance. Help me to know you are surrounding me with your love all the day long.

THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES

By Father Vincent Treglio
 
It has been said that it is not easy to be a Christian in today’s world. There are so many things that pull us this way and that. Those values we grew up with seem today to be out dated. Society has changed greatly from what we recall when we were younger. Family values, which were so strong in the past seem all but gone. We might truly wonder where we are headed. I guess, we all have days when we reflect on what will happen to our society. We need only read the morning paper to get almost a feeling of doom. But once in a while we do run across someone or have some experience that tells us that all is not lost.
 
In the Letter to the Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 we are reminded that we are surrounded by a ‘cloud of witnesses’, those who have gone before us in the faith. We might think that they had it easy because they lived in the ‘good old days’, but I’m sure that they had their share of trouble living up to the call they received God.
 
There is a litany of names recorded at the end of chapter 11 of Hebrews. People like Abraham, Able, Enoch, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the many prophets of old, as well as those who came after them and followed the Lord and his call to discipleship, all had their share of trouble in living up to live lives of virtue in a society that pulled them to the worship of other gods, to living lives of sinfulness in a pagan world. These great ancient heroes surround us and stand before us to give us strength and inspiration.
 
In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, William Barclay wrote, “An actor would act with double intensity if he know that some famous dramatic master was watching him. An athlete would strive with double effort if he knew that a stadium of famous Olympic athletes were watching him. It is of the very essence of the Christian life that it is lived in the gaze of the heroes of the faith, who lived, suffered and died in their day and generation. How can a person avoid the struggle for greatness with an audience like that looking down upon him” (The St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh: 1976)
 
Yes, it is hard sometimes to be a Christian. But we have a great army who have gone before us to show us the way. The heroes of our Old and New Testaments cheer us on to victory. They are the ones who support us with their prayers and their stories. They are to ones who tell us that if we are willing to struggle and hold firm to what our faith calls us to, then a great reward awaits us in the joys of the Father’s kingdom.

“GO”

THE LORD SAID, “GO”
And the Lord said, “GO!” and I said, “Who, me?” and God said, “Yes, you” and I said, “But I’m not ready yet, and there is company coming, and I can’t leave my kids; You know there is no one to take my place.” And God said, “You’re stalling.”

Again the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “But I don’t want to.” And God said, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to.” And I said, “Listen, I’m not the kind of person to get involved in controversy. Besides, my family won’t like it, and what will the neighbors think!” and God said, “Baloney!”

And yet a third time the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “Do I have to?” and God said, “Do you love me?” and I said, “Look, I’m scared. . .People are going to hate me. . .and cut me up into little pieces. . . I can’t take it all by myself.” And God said, “Where do you think I’ll be?”

And the Lord said, “Go!” and I sighed, “Here I am, send me!’

By Lois Hodrick

Good Friday Meditation

AND PETER FORGOT

“Simon, Simon! Look, Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”
“Lord, (Peter said), I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death. Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, Peter by the time the cock crows today, you will have denied three times that you know me.’” (LK 22: 34)
We know the rest of the story. After the Passover meal they went out to the Mount of Olives to sing the traditional psalms and songs. It was at this point that the mood became very heavy for Jesus knew in his heart that the time was approaching that he would be handed over to the of the authorities to be put on trial, a mock one at that, and given over to the Romans to be flogged and crucified.
Those who had sworn their allegiance all took off when the guards form the Temple arrived. Some ran so fast that the very cloths that cover them were left behind, as with John Mark who had on a sheet. Maybe the boasting the disciples made was due to too much wine at the Passover meal?? But whatever the reason, it was short lived.
Fear, my brothers and sisters, has a very powerful affect upon us. It can make us stronger that we ever thought we could be or make us turn tail and run for our lives. Fear make us forget the past or the future, for only the present is important; the immediate presence of danger that we come face to face with.
Peter, as well as the others, found himself in that situation and he FORGOT!
As we read in the Gospel of John, Peter and John follow the crowd back toward the Temple Mount. Peter hides himself in the shadows of his cloak and tries to warm himself at the charcoal fire in the courtyard. It was there that a someone pointed him out…and Peter was faced with his paralyzing fear.
The girl at the door noticed Peter and said, “Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?” Peter said NO! Fear of being discovered took over. Peter FORGOT the first time he encountered Jesus. It was up on the lake of Galilee. Jesus was on the shore and said to Peter and his companions, “Children, have you caught anything?” No, they said. Jesus then said, “Through you nets to the other side of the boat,” and so they did. To their astonishment, their nets were filled to the breaking point. They had to call to their friends in another boat to come and help them with the catch. It was then that Peter through himself at the feet of Jesus and said, “. . . depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” But Jesus said instead, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.
Peter forgot the time at the wedding feast of Cana, and how, at the request of his mother, Jesus turned water into the best wine they had ever tasted. And let us not forget the time when in that deserted place, Jesus was able to feat 5,000 men, not to mention the women and the children.
Not much later, as Peter stood by the fire warming himself, another said, “Are you not one of that man’s followers?” Peter’s answer was again a resounding NO. Peter FORGOT.
Yes, Peter forget the time in that little town on Nain. Jesus and the disciples had just entered the town as the only son of a widow was being carried out and the town followed in procession. Jesus approached the litter and place his hand upon it and stopped them. Then to the young man, Jesus said ‘arise’. Jesus then gave the young man back to his mother. And then there was the time, that Jesus took pity on the ten lepers and heal them, and that only one, a Samaritan, came back to give thanks. And should we forget the time Peter and the others were there when the daughter of Jairus, Temple official, was very ill. Jairus asked Jesus to come and make her better. As Jairus pleaded members of his household came and said that the little girl died. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him into the house and said to the child ‘Talitha Kum!’ Which means, “little girl, get up.” And then he said, “give her something to eat.”
Peter also forgot that even before they went of the Jairus’ house, an old woman who suffered from hemorrhages most of her life was in the crowd and came up behind Jesus and said in her heart, “if only I touch the tassel of his garment, I will get better. . .” and so she was.
The night was chilly and Peter wanted to get closer to the fire. Once again, another spoke up, one who just who happened to be a relative of Malcus, the man whose ear Peter had cut with a sword. “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again, Peter started to curse and he swore he did not know the man.
Peter FORGOT. Yes, fear again got the hold of him and made him forget when Jesus and the others got word that, their good friend, Lazarus had died. Peter did not remember when they went to the town of Bethany, Jesus had encountered Mary as they entered the town. Peter may not have been close enough to Mary to hear what they said….as Jesus assured Mary that her brother would rise again. . . “Yes, Lord, I know he will, in the resurrection of the Just.” Peter did may not have heard what Jesus said to her…. Mary, I AM THE RESURRECTION.”
Fear made Peter to forget what took place afterward when they went to the place where Lazarus had been buried four days earlier. How Jesus, filled with emotions cried for his friend and then ordered the stone moved away and call into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out”. And to the astonishment of all, the dead man came out at which Jesus ordered, “Untie him and let him go free.”
It was at this point, when Peter coursed and swore for the third time that he did not know this man Jesus, that he raised his head, just as they were taking Jesus into the inner court to be judged, and their eyes met. There was no condemnation in the Lords gaze, only understanding, forgiveness and love. And off in the distance, in the chilly gray of dawn a cock crowed. A cock crowed announcing the dawn of a new day. Yes, their eyes met, and Peter REMEMBERED! And he when out and wept bitterly.