Friday, November 23, 2012

Where is the line???

As I left my house this morning to get my car inspected and then head to Mass I was struck by the stark reality of how lost our country is, and in some ways how lost many Catholics in our country are, how we have so many things to help us find our way and yet when it comes to the most important things we seem directionless.  Traffic as I expected was crazy and people cut each other off trying to buy the biggest television or the newest iPad.  Now I am a technology guru and enjoy the latest, greatest toys when I can afford them (which right now being in Grad schools isn't often, donations are accepted however). 

All humor aside as I was almost struck by a car in the Walmart parking lot where I needed to go to get a taillight bulb for my car to get it to pass inspection, I was driven to reflect on just where are the lines in today's world.  What are we willing to wait in line for?  I saw many people willing to wait several hours to buy a TV or a computer but rarely do I see people willing to wait 10 minutes for the Sacrament of Penance.  When Sunday Mass goes longer than an hour, people complain and leave early after Holy Communion.  As Catholics we need to realize that at Mass we receive the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We should be willing to wait as long as it takes and then get down on our knees (if you are able) and say "Amen" with love and conviction.

It gives one pause in today's society as to what is valued.  People instead of giving thanks and enjoying time with family and friends went to go stand in line to get the best deal on the newest thing because stores opened at 8pm yesterday.  In this culture, in this environment Catholics need to get back to the basics.  Cardinal Dolan called for this at the meeting with all bishops when they met recently.  

So in this upcoming Advent season let us reflect on how much we as Catholics have to be thankful for and how much work there is to be done.  There is the tradition of an Advent fast as well as a Lenten fast in the Eastern Rite Churches, maybe its time we take their example and fast this advent as well for conversion of heart and mind.  We are all partners in the vineyard of the Lord and should act the part. However, for us to take the Gospel out to others it needs to first take root in our own hearts and I know for myself  I find myself sometimes lacking, none of us are perfect, but I know God's grace and the Holy Spirit will make up the difference.  The call is then to interior conversion and transformation, metanoia - radical transformation and adherence to Jesus Christ.  The General Directory for Catechesis puts it this way; "Faith involves a change of life, a "metanoia", that is a profound transformation of mind and heart; it causes the believer to live that conversion.  This transformation of life manifests itself at all levels of the Christian's existence: in his interior life of adoration and acceptance of the divine will, in his action, participation in the mission of the Church, in his married and family life; in his professional life; in fulfilling economic and social responsibilities." (55)(Emphasis mine).

So the question is then where is the line?  Is it at the store, at a restaurant, at the mall?  Where is the line to see Jesus?  In the New Testament people jumped at the chance - in the Gospel on Tuesday Zacchaeus runs ahead and climbs a tree just so he can see Jesus over the crowds and yet in many of our Churches pews are barely occupied the echo of emptiness rings of the stone walls.  Where is the line to see Jesus?  The call is being made, the Holy Spirit knocks on the door to your heart, Jesus seeks your answer.  Will you wait in line to see Jesus?
(I know its not Christmas yet but this song speaks great truth)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rejoice: Christ is still the King!! Unite and be witnesses of the Gospel

"That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that thou hast sent me.  I made known to them thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:21-26

Christ is still the king and we must stand together united in opposition not to a party or a person but to evil.  To those things, people and institutions that take innocent human life, redefine marriage, corrupt the morals of your young people and culture in general.
Catholics we need to be a witness even more of Christ the King!!!  It is time to stand up, to unite and show this country what being Catholic is all about - it is not a rule, or a commandment but it is about a person, Jesus Christ who is love - Deus Caritas est (God is Love).  Are we witnessing to that in everything that we do, from home, to the pews in church, to the classroom, to the workplace, to the store (and the store parking lots), to the roadways (I am guilty here just ask anybody who has driven with me), to every single encounter we have with every single person no matter the circumstances.

The order is tall no doubt, but with the grace of God all things are possible.  The Church right now has a united leadership and all Catholics need to unite behind our Bishops.  Catholics who are lukewarm, unsure,  or cafeteria Catholics need to see Catholics who are fired up, joy filled and joyful; witnessing to the love of God in their lives.  Families (of all sizes) living, breathing, and witnessing good family virtues (not just values).  The world will listen to authentic witnesses,  the Church has seen it time and time again starting with the Apostolic Fathers right through to today with Saints such as St. Josemaria and Mother Teresa, Blessed John Paul II just to name a few. 

While things did not turn out the way we had hope and prayed.  Our salvation does not turn on an election.  Our salvation is in the Lord and our hope is in Him alone.  Everyone at the day of judgement will be called on to give an account of their lives and what will you say?  We lost the election so I gave up?  No, you say our nation had a setback in civil authority but God still reigns and I still sought in every aspect of my life to witness to You Jesus, who is Lord of all.

Will things be more difficult for awhile, probably, but take heart we are not yet in a Colosseum with lions.  However, if today's equivalent is called for, be prepared to embrace it with open arms. While martyrdom is not a pretty thought, we are called to martyrdom by dying to ourselves everday of our lives.  And if more is called for stand firm and know that Jesus is standing right there with you and your witness, your sacrifice no matter how big or small, will be just that a witness to our nation and the world.   Remember 1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence."

This started out as Facebook post but just go too long, in closing I leave you with some verses from St. Paul, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." 2 Thessalonians 2:15

(From Today's first reading)
My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.
Philippians 2:12-18

May God Bless you and may God Bless America

P.S. I know its early but remember that Advent and Christmas are right around the corner, meditate on all God has done for us in the Incarnation and through His Paschal Mystery.
Rejoice for God is with us
Rejoice, Immanuel!
Rejoice and sound those trumpets
Rejoice and ring those bells
Rejoice to the King of Glory
And again we say rejoice
He is the Wonderful Counselor
The Prince of Peace