Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Quote of the Day

 
"Our time is now. If we carry the day and turn the tide, we can hope that as long as men speak of freedom and those who have protected it, they will remember us, and they will say, 'Here were the brave and here their place of honor.'"

--Ronald Reagan

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reflection on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

"I would also like to highlight another aspect of Peter’s attitude in prison. In fact, we note that while the Christian community is praying earnestly from him, Peter 'was sleeping' (Acts 12:6). In a critical situation of serious danger, it is an attitude that might seem strange, but instead denotes tranquility and faith. He trusts God. He knows he is surrounded by the solidarity and prayers of his own people and completely abandons himself into the hands of the Lord. So it must be with our prayer, assiduous, in solidarity with others, fully trusting that God knows us in our depths and takes care of us to the point that Jesus says 'even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore' (Mt 10:30-31). Peter lives through that night of imprisonment and release from prison as a moment of his discipleship with the Lord who overcomes the darkness of night and frees him from the chains of slavery and the threat of death. His is a miraculous release, marked by various accurately described steps, guided by the Angel, despite the monitoring of the guards, through the first and second guard posts, up to the iron doors to exit to the city, with the door opening by itself in front of them (cf. Acts 12:10). Peter and the Angel of the Lord make their way together down a stretch of the street until, coming back to himself, the Apostle realizes that the Lord really freed him and, after having reflected on the matter, went to the house of Mary the mother of Mark where many disciples were gathered in prayer. Once again the community’s response to difficulty and danger is to trust in God, strengthening the relationship with Him."

--Benedict XVI, General Audience, May 9, 2012

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The Day of the Sun is the day on which we all gather in a common meeting, because it is the first day, the day on which God, changing darkness and matter, created the world; and it is the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead. For he was crucified on the day before that of Saturn; and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the Day of the Sun, He appeared to his Apostles and disciples, and taught them these things which we have also submitted to you for your consideration."

--Saint Justin, First Apology, ca. A.D. 155

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reflection on the Ascension of the Lord


"The old manner of human companionship and encounter is over. From now on we can touch Jesus only 'with the Father'. Now we can touch him only by ascending. From the Father's perspective, in his communion with the Father, he is accessible and close to us in a new way.

"This new accessibility presupposes a newness on our part as well. Through Baptism, our life is already hidden with Christ in God--in our current existence we are already 'raised' with him at the Father's right hand (cf. Col. 3:1-3). If we enter fully into the essence of our Christian life, then we really do touch the risen Lord, then we really do become fully ourselves. Touching Christ and ascending belong together. And let us not forget that for John the place of Christ's 'exaltation' is his Cross and that our own ever-necessary 'ascension', our 'going up on high' in order to touch him, has to be traveled in company with the crucified Jesus.

"Christ, at the Father's right hand, is not far away from us. At most we are far from him, but the path that joins us to one another is open. And this path is not a matter of space travel of a cosmic-geographical nature: it is the 'space travel' of the heart, from the dimension of self-enclosed isolation to the new dimension of world-embracing divine love."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (Ignatius Press, 2011), p. 286

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Jesus is not one who adapts Himself to the world, tolerating that in it death, sadness, hatred, the moral destruction of persons should endure … Our God is not inert, But our God – I permit myself the word – is a dreamer: He dreams of the transformation of the world, and He realized it in the mystery of the Resurrection."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, May 17, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Reflection

"This week is the week of joy: we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. It is a true, profound joy, based on the certainty that the Risen Christ dies no more, but is alive and working in the Church and in the world. This certainty has dwelt in the heart of believers since that Easter morning, when the women went to Jesus’ sepulcher and the Angels said to them: 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' (Luke 24:5). 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' These words are as a milestone in history, but also an 'obstacle stone' if we do not open ourselves to the Good News, if we think that a dead Jesus bothers us less than a living Jesus! Instead, how many times in our daily journey do we need to hear said: “Why are you seeking the living among the dead?” How many times do we seek life among dead things, among things that cannot give life, among things that today exist and tomorrow are no longer, things that pass … 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?'

"We are in need of this when we shut ourselves in some form of egoism or self-complacency; when we allow ourselves to be seduced by earthly powers and by the things of this world, forgetting God and our neighbor; when we put our hopes in worldly vanity, in money, in success. Then the Word of God says to us: 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' Why are you looking there? That thing cannot give you life! Yes, perhaps it will give you the joy of a minute, a day, a week, a month … and then? 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' This phrase must enter our heart and we must repeat it...Today, when we go home, we will say it from our heart, in silence, and we will ask ourselves this question: why do I in life seek the living among the dead? It will do us good."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, April 23, 2014

Monday, April 10, 2017

Reflection for Holy Week

 
"Jesus reaches complete humiliation with his 'death on the cross.' It is the worst death -- that reserved for slaves and criminals. Jesus was considered a prophet, but he died as a criminal. Looking at Jesus in his Passion, we see as in a mirror the sufferings of humanity and we find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of grief and of death. So often we perceive the horror of the evil and pain that surrounds us and we ask: “Why does God allow it?” It is a profound wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent! When we see children suffering, it is a wound to the heart: it is the mystery of evil. And Jesus takes upon himself all this evil, all this suffering. It will do us all good this week to look at the crucifix, to kiss Jesus’ wounds, to kiss him on the cross. He took upon himself all human suffering, he clothed himself in this suffering.

"We expect God, in His omnipotence, to defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory. Instead, God shows us a humble victory which humanly seems a failure. We can say that God conquers in failure! In fact, the Son of God appears on the cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is despised and finally dies. However, Jesus allows evil to rage on him and he takes it upon himself to defeat it. His Passion is not an incident; his death – that death – was 'written.' Truly, we do not find many explanations. It is a disconcerting mystery, the mystery of God’s great humility: 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son' (John 3:16). We think so much of Jesus’ grief this week and we say to ourselves: this is for me. Even if I were the only person in the world, he would have done it. He did it for me. We kiss the crucifix and we say: for me, thank you Jesus, for me."

--Pope Francis, General Audience, April 16, 2014

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent


"The Lord promises the Samaritan woman water that becomes in the one who drinks it a source springing up into eternal life (cf. Jn. 4:14), so that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. In this scene, the symbolism of the well is associated with Israel's salvation history. Earlier, at the calling of Nathanael, Jesus had already revealed himself as the new and greater Jacob. In a nocturnal vision Jacob had seen the angels of God ascending and descending above the stone he was using for a pillow. Jesus prophesies to Nathanael that his disciples will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending above him (cf. Jn. 1:51). Here, at Jacob's well, we encounter Jacob as the great patriarch who by means of this well had provided water, the basic element of life. But there is a greater thirst in man--it extends beyond the water from the well, because it seeks a life that reaches out beyond the biological sphere...

"John distinguishes between bios and zoe--between biological life (bios) and the fullness of life (zoe) that is itself a source and so is not subject to the dying and becoming that mark the whole of creation. In the conversation with the Samaritan woman, then, water once again--though now in a different way--functions as the symbol of the Pneuma, the real life-force, which quenches man's deeper thirst and gives him plenitude of life, for which he is waiting without knowing it."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth--Part One: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (New York: Doubleday, 2007), pp. 240-241

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Cleanse your vessel that you may receive grace more abundantly; for although the remission of sins is given to all equally, the communion of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in proportion to the faith of each. If you have labored little, you will receive little; but if your labor has been great, great will be your reward."

--Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 1, 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quote of the Day

 
"If the Lord finds in our hearts a faith, I do not say perfect, but sincere, genuine, then He also sees in us the living stones with which he can build his community. Of this community, the fundamental rock is Christ, the only cornerstone. On his part, Peter is a rock, as a visible foundation of the unity of the Church; but each baptized person is called to offer to Jesus their own faith, poor but sincere, so that He can continue to build his Church, today, in every part of the world."

--Pope Francis, Angelus Address, August 24, 2014

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Reflection

 
"God has not abandoned His people and did not let Himself be defeated by evil, because He is faithful, and his grace is greater than sin. We must learn this, because we are obstinate and do not learn it. But I will ask a question: what is greater, God or sin? God! And who wins at the end, God or sin? God. He is able to overcome the greatest sin, the most shameful, the most terrible, the worst of sins. With what weapon does God overcome sin? With love! This means that “God reigns”; these are the words of faith in a Lord whose power bends over humanity, abases Himself, to offer mercy and liberate man from what disfigures in him the beautiful image of God, because when we are in sin, God’s image is disfigured. And the fulfilment of so much love will be in fact the Kingdom established by Jesus, that Kingdom of forgiveness and peace that we celebrate at Christmas and that is realized definitively at Easter. And the most beautiful joy of Christmas is this interior joy of peace: the Lord has cancelled my sins, the Lord has forgiven me, the Lord has had mercy on me, He came to save me. This is the joy of Christmas!"

--Pope Francis, General Audience, December 14, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quote of the Day

"With eyes set on Christmas, which is approaching, the Church invites us to give witness that Jesus is not a figure from the past. He is the word of God who today continues illuminating the path of man. His actions, the sacraments, are the manifestations of the tenderness, of the consolation, of the love of the Father for each human being. The Virgin Mary, 'cause of our joy' always brings us back to joy in the Lord, who comes to free us from so many interior and exterior slaveries."

--Pope Francis, Angelus Address, December 14, 2014

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mid-Life Crisis Averted

Regrettably, due to my father's illness and passing, my family and farm responsibilities, and my new job as music director at a local parish, I haven't had much opportunity for serious article writing or blogging this year. I've been mentally drafting several articles and blog posts while being forced to postpone typing them up and publishing them. That just goes to show that other activities in my life have taken center stage lately, pushing my beloved career as a freelance author to the periphery.

However, I don't intend to abandon freelance writing altogether, so long as I have any free time left. There's a basic rule of life that you make the time for what's important to you; conversely, this means that how you use your time reflects your values and philosophy of life. I have my own business as a writer, not just because I enjoy it, not just because it enables me to think through important issues and form sound convictions on them and share those convictions with others, not just because I get a little income from it every now and then; above all, I write because God has entrusted to me the talent of being an author, so I must use that talent responsibly for His greater glory and the good of my fellow men and women.

Twenty sixteen has been a difficult but decisive year of my life, during which God has allowed me to "encounter various trials" (James 1:2) in order to strengthen me in certain ways, while also clearly showing me the path He wills me to take. During the last several years, while I was pretty secure as far as who I was, I was also going through a typical mid-life crisis. Although I enjoyed (and was kept plenty busy) writing and publishing articles and music, working as a handyman for my good Catholic landlord in the great outdoors, and singing in the choir at my parish, I nonetheless felt keenly that something was missing. The main issue was that I knew I wasn't making full use of the musical talents God has given me. Additionally, I was unsure whether music or writing should be my main focus as far as a lifelong career, and hesitant to choose one over the other since I was passionate about both--and if I should do both, how would I successfully combine the two?

Thankfully, our loving and providential God resolved my dilemma by presenting me late this summer with the wonderful opportunity to serve Him as the full-time music director at the sole Catholic church here in my home county. Although it was emotionally difficult for me to cease regularly attending Sunday Mass at my beloved registered parish in the next county, I knew deep down that it was God's will for me to seize this opportunity--and I'm sure glad I did. Not only do I play piano and/or organ at three Masses every weekend, I also get to write a short weekly column for the parish bulletin as well as a longer quarterly article for the parish newsletter. So while music has emerged as my primary career focus, with writing now being secondary, I get to use both my talents and pursue both my passions within the same ministry--all under the watchful and loving gaze of Jesus Christ Himself physically present in the tabernacle just a few steps away from my office. God is so good!

I hope to write something soon--late this year or early next--about the 2016 presidential election and our country's future under the new administration. Articles on other topics coming as well. Keep me in your prayers and stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Quote of the Day

“The soul of one who serves God always swims in joy, always keeps holiday, and is always in a mood for singing.”

--Saint John of the Cross

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Quote of the Day

"We, therefore, who have been called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, neither by our wisdom or understanding or piety, nor by the works we have wrought in holiness of heart, but by the faith by which almighty God has justified all men from the beginning: To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

--St. Clement I, Letter to the Corinthians, 32, 4