Posted by: matt25 | May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day?

  
It seems odd to me to wish you a happy Memorial Day. It seems more appropriate to wish you a reflective day, a prayerful day, a remembering day, a gratitude day, a committing to freedom day, and in that kind of Memorial Day wishing you joy rather than happiness. In that kind of day we honor those who we know gave their lives, who are missing, and who came home wounded in in body or spirit, as we work to build toward a world at peace in freedom, all the other days of the year.

You can learn more about this day and it’s meaning and history at http://www.usmemorialday.org

Posted by: matt25 | May 15, 2015

Turning The Page

Our youngest daughter is graduating today with her Masters in Speech Pathology.  After 29 years of having a child in school it is time to turn the page on that chapter of our lives.  With 2 doctors, a teacher, and a speech pathologist as adult children I think Mary Jane and I have given it a good effort.  But, it is our children who did the work to accomplish their goals.  They are the ones who made decisions and choices, after they reached the age of reason, which lead them to be the adults that they are.  They are the ones who have given us reason to be proud.  We just did our best to support them.  
image

Posted by: matt25 | May 1, 2015

A Super Post On A Super Blog

I have a confession to make about one of my guilty pleasures.  I like super hero movies.  I will even admit to enjoying watching that awful Green Lantern movie as I flew back from my mission trip to Africa.  I know, I know, but we all have our issues don’t we?

Maybe I won’t have to disguise myself when I go to watch the new Avengers movie though.   According to the review posted on movieguide.org “AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is a spectacular treat from beginning to end with a strong moral worldview and inspiring biblical allusions…” In another part of the review it says;

Everything in the story revolves around the idea that people are broken, and, left to our own devices, will destroy themselves eventually. This is why we need to be saved, not just from outside forces, but also from ourselves. Ultron’s demonic “church” has neither grace nor mercy, however. Thus, it’s fatally flawed, both morally and spiritually. This is what marks the Avengers as different. They see the same flaws in humanity Ultron sees, but they have an attitude of grace, mercy and love that makes them want to save humanity, at the risk of their own lives and wellbeing. 

You can read the whole review here.  Don’t worry, it warns you with spoiler alerts before it reveals something to ruin your fun.

So, who want’s to go to the movies with me.  You can have all the buttery popcorn you want and I won’t complain.  

  

Posted by: matt25 | April 26, 2015

Wake, Listen, Choose, Follow, Love

Originally delivered as a homily on”Good Shepherd Sunday”, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I think this recording is universal in the sense that it’s message not restricted to that day but. will hopefully give me pause to consider any time I listen to it. Perhaps it will for you as well.  God bless you as you listen, and always.

A homily is meant to be listened to rather than read but I have included a written version below that more or less tracks with the recording.  I do recommend reading the Scriptures which inspired it prior to listening.  You can find them here: Fourth Sunday of Easter.

The Good Shepherd by Daniel Bonnell.

The Good Shepherd by Daniel Bonnell.

One week ago at this very moment I was in prison.  I was in prison on an ecumenical retreat to help the men incarcerated there to come to know and to have a personal relationship with their good shepherd. I wasn’t consciously thinking about preaching my Homily this week, and yet in a very real sense that is what I was doing from Thursday to Sunday.  Don’t worry I promise not to preach to you that long, an hour and a half tops!  I promise.

Along with the rest of the retreat team, I invited those men first to think about their own lives, to understand more clearly the nature of the sinfulness that causes them to think they cannot ask God for forgiveness and then to understand that like the prodigal Son they could always, always, always, come back to the forgiving Father.  It is the same message that Pope Francis tweeted two weeks ago. “The Lord never tires of forgiving us.  It is we who get tired of asking for pardon”

We asked them to make a decision, to make a good faith effort to do that and to embrace the rest of the retreat with an open mind and heart.

That is where we started on Thursday and then through all of the talks and meditations, through the informal conversations and in breaking bread together, we invited these broken and flawed human beings to understand that we too were broken and flawed human beings; that we too were prisoners, spiritual prisoners to our own sins, just like they were but, with one vital difference. We had turned to the Father already.  We had asked for and received forgiveness.  We had responded to the call to forgive others and to love.  Following the model of Jesus that we recalled on Holy Thursday in the washing of the apostles feet, we had come to share with them that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  We had come to model Christian community to them and to empower them through the grace of God to do the same.

We were talking to those men about the cornerstone upon which they must build their lives. We were talking to them about listening to the voice of their Good Shepherd. We were talking to them about what is fundamental to being a Christian. How could they be followers of Jesus, unless they figured out first what voices they had been listening to, and second learned to recognize the Master’s voice so they could choose to follow him instead?

And I have continued to reflect upon that all week long. As I have for many years and will continue to do so for all of the days and years that I have remaining. Why must I do that?  Why must you also do that?

Because God created us for a purpose.  We are called by virtue of our baptisms to carry on the mission of Jesus himself, to bring about the reality of the kingdom and to be a healing touch in the lives of others so that they may do the same.  We are called to be in the deepest of friendships with Jesus and to share the way, the truth and the life of that friendship with all of the people that God places in our daily lives.

Simple, but not easy.

There are literally thousands of voices competing for your attention, and most of it happens when we’re on autopilot.  Therefore we have to learn how to actively listen for the voice of God.  We have to tune in to the divine frequency, and sort out all the static and the other stations that come into our hearts on the frequencies of the world.

It isn’t easy because we live in a world filled with voices that compete for our attention and time; voices that call us to our responsibilities at work, at home, and at school, voices that call us to our recreational activities, fun and relaxation. I am not saying that these voices should be ignored but, we must remember they are not the Master’s voice and must be in harmony with his voice if we are to joyfully dance to the tune they sing.

It isn’t easy because there are other voices that call to us to participate in things that we know we should not.  There are voices that make us slaves to bad habits and addictions.  There are voices that tell us we are not loved or lovable; or that there are others who should be objects of our hatred.  There are voices that tell us we aren’t attractive enough, smart enough, good enough, that we have failed before and can’t succeed now, and we shouldn’t waste our time trying to follow the Master’s voice.

Is there a thought in your mind right now which says you are not capable of this?  Is a voice telling you a reason you can’t hear or follow the Master’s Voice.  Is there a voice that tells you that what I am saying isn’t true?  Acknowledge that voice exists and give it to God.  These voices we must learn to hear, if only so that we can lay them at the foot of the cross and let the blood that was shed for us wash us clean of them.

Let me now invite you to think with me about our own lives, to understand more clearly the currents that we follow in the river of life and how they either help or hinder us from our purpose to live as saints in the world.

I ask you to decide with me, following the example of inmates who were on retreat, to make a good faith effort to do that, and to embrace the rest of the Easter Season with an open mind and heart which will bring us to the upper room at Pentecost, as it brought them to a new life in Christ last Sunday.

Between now and Pentecost let’s ask ourselves daily what voices we have been following.  Let us examine our day when we lay down at night and ask God to reveal that wisdom to us.  Let us ask ourselves how much time did I give today to God and how much did I give to the world?  If we want to be able to hear the Lord’s voice we have to set time aside to listen.  We have to wake up and stop living on autopilot!  We have to know who we are listening to!

We have to grow closer with the Good Shepherd who guides his flock every day, not just on Sunday.  So come to him in prayer in thanksgiving, for others as well as yourself, and especially for those who are the most difficult to love.  Embrace the sacramental life with joy, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation.  Reflect on the scriptures every day for they are the very voice of the Good Shepherd and the Gospels are the cornerstone on which we must build our lives.

You have a decision to make. Every moment of every day in every circumstance you have a decision to make.  Choose to follow the Good Shepherd as his disciple.  Live joyfully as a saint in the making, secure in the promise of the resurrection.  Then help someone else in your life do the same.

Become an intentional disciple of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, doing our Father’s will all day every day in and out of season.  Now is the kingdom. Now is the day.

Posted by: matt25 | April 15, 2015

Dreaming on A Wednesday

I read a post by Deacon Allen Tatara today and it got me thinking about dreams.  Here is a prayer he included:

Prayer for Dreamers 

God of our waking and our sleeping,
in every age,
you have spoken to your prophets
in dreams and visions
and have promised that
our sons and daughters shall prophesy
through your Spirit.

Through the dream of young Joseph,
you saved your people from famine.
In the visions of King Solomon,
you blessed your land with wisdom.
Because of dreams,
elder Joseph acted quickly
to protect your only Son from harm.

And through the revelation announced to Mary,
you brought forth a new King and a new dream
for all the world.

Bless those who continue to see you in dreams.
Open their ears to hear you in their visions,
loosen their tongues to speak your word,
strengthen their hands to respond swiftly in action,
and embolden their hearts that what they hear in the dark
they may proclaim in the light.

Make us all dreamers who tirelessly pursue
the vision of your Kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

~Diana Macalintal, The Work of Your Hands

I often will have the distinct understanding that one of my dreams is a manifestation of something very real in the spiritual realm; sometimes from God, sometimes not. Of course sometimes I have no sense of any meaning of my dreams at all.

I read a book some time ago, unfortunately I cannot remember the title or the author,  and it spoke of the history of dreams in the Bible as well as in the history of Christianity.  I remember one point in particular about trying to make sense of your dreams.  It was suggested that you keep a pad and pen near your bed so that you could write down your dreams immediately after you wake up.  You have to write it down immediately because the details fade quickly.  I tried it for awhile and it was  very interesting.

I think I will try it again.  No time like the present, maybe I’ll take a nap.

Posted by: matt25 | April 11, 2015

He Never Said To Keep It To Yourself

Here is the thing that I am getting from today’s Gospel reading.  I am supposed to GO!   

 

In order for me to have religious freedom, I must be allowed to go into the marketplace as a Christian and speak my Christian viewpoints without being bullied by the politically correct police.  If I speak aloud a different view than what you believe it is not hate speech, it is love speaking.  Try to accept that; even if you think that I am wrong.  

Posted by: matt25 | April 8, 2015

Not Just Any Old Wednesday 

It is Easter Wednesday.  Have you moved on from Easter already or are you still embracing the events that changed everything forever?

“Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Luke 24:25-27

Yes we need to work and deal with life and its challenges but, let your heart never stop burning within you!  Let your mind and your very life be drawn always out of the mundane and toward the eternal.  Let your joy be your strength and take others with you.  And when I forget, take me too.

Hearts On Fire - Romantic Art By Sharon Cummings Painting

Hearts On Fire – Sharon Cummings: Painting

Posted by: matt25 | April 6, 2015

Why Do Catholics Do That?

Originally delivered as a homily on Good Friday, I think this recording is universal in the sense that it’s message in not restricted to that day but will hopefully give me pause to consider any time I listen to it.  Perhaps it will for you as well.  God bless you as you listen, and always.

(  A homily is meant to be listened to rather than read but I have included a written version below that more or less tracks with the recording.  I do recommend reading the Scriptures which inspired it prior to listening.  You can find them here: Scripture Readings for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion )

Let me begin as we may begin all good things:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  (Amen.)

A friend of mine, whose father died this week, said this on Facebook this morning:

“Dad went home to be with the Lord.  We are very sad right now but, we know how blessed we are to have had him in our lives.  He was truly a silent hero;   always helping someone out and doing for others without any attention to himself.  I love you, Dad.”

She also said that they were glad that he was free from suffering now.  But for those of us who have not yet gone home suffering is a part of life.  We all live that.  In my own family we have been touched by all kinds of suffering.  We have known the touch of illness from the common cold to bone cancer, interpersonal suffering from harsh words to divorce, psychological or emotional suffering from uncertainty to suicide, and I am sure your family’s list, as well as my own, goes on and on.

It is our faith which is our life-line in all kinds of suffering and death.  And today on this Friday our faith calls “Good”, it is suffering and death that sets the stage.  And so it had to be for the spirit of glory to be seen as the curtain parted.  Today, in a special and deeply profound way, we open our hearts to a contemplation of suffering willingly accepted for the sake of love.  Suffering which, another took on to save us from eternal suffering.

“Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, by his stripes we are healed”.[i]

Today is the 2nd part of the Sacred Triduum, three calendar days that are at the same time a single and unified liturgical day, in our celebration of the Paschal Mystery.  Suffering and death, embraced by love, have set the stage for the 2nd Act.  But in Act 1 it was prayerful obedience which set the stage.  Jesus begged the Father to let the cup of suffering pass by him, but said finally ‘yet, not as I will, but as you will.[ii]”, which is what He taught us to pray:  “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”.[iii]

The master and teacher, who is a model for us in the washing of each other’s feet is also our model in prayerful obedience through which.  “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”[iv]  So our holy obedience, modeled after our Lord’s own example, is a part of our baptismal call which we hope to follow;

in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

It is very unusual for me to make the sign of the cross during my homily, so in this setting it is something that has stood out.  But I am guilty of doing it often with little attention or thought, so that I render it as a mere bookend to my prayer.  I invite you to make it a prayer that we can pray together now.  Please join me as we pray together slowly and from the heart:

In the name of the Father

And of the Son

And of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

In a book by St. Francis de Sales called “The Sign of the Cross” with the subtitle “The 15 most powerful words in the English language” he begins by explaining that the Sign of the Cross is a Christian Ceremony that represents the Passion of our Lord by tracing the shape of the cross with a simple motion.

He concludes his book with a chapter filled with examples of the power of this Christian ceremony that we know so well.  Here St Francis tells us:  “The cross has great power against the enemy for two reasons:  the one is that it represents the death of the Savior, which this proud being hates and fears¸ the other is that the Cross is a brief and powerful invocation of the redeemer that can be employed on every occasion suitable for prayer”.

The Sign of the Cross is not a bookend to our prayers.  IT IS A PRAYER!

It is a prayer which is central to our faith.  It is a prayer which we renew in our hearts on Good Friday, and a prayer which carries us in our suffering, as Christ carried our sins in His suffering.  The Sign of the Cross gives us a frequent reminder, hopefully many times each day, to embrace our faith if we make that sign thoughtfully and intentionally.

Do you user 3 fingers and contemplate the Holy Trinity?  Do you use 5 and contemplate the wounds of Christ?  Do you use it as a simple way to open your heart?  Perhaps as a parent you trace it on your child’s forehead as a blessing, in the way that Father Charles blesses us before we are sent forth to be Christians, “little Christ’s” in the world.

The blessings and graces that can flow from this simple motion are as deep and as varied as the mystery it represents;   the mystery of the sacred Triduum, the mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of the Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

As you come forward today to reverence the cross, my prayer for you is that it will be a profound experience of the love that you have for God, and the love that God has for you.  A love that gives meaning to our suffering, and promises us that we need not fear suffering or even death; because Good Friday cannot be separated from Easter Sunday, and we cannot be separated from the love of God.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

[i] ISAIAH 53:5

[ii] MATT 26:39

[iii] MATT 6:10

[iv] HEREWS 5:9

the-sign-of-the-cross

Posted by: matt25 | March 9, 2015

First Things First in Prayer

People pray.  To the life of anyone who believes in God, I might contend even for anyone who thinks there “might be” a God who exists, this is true.  For some it happens only rarely when life is threatened, and for others it happens constantly throughout the day, every day.  Gramma was in the latter group.

I remember our family visits to the home where my father grew up in Buffalo’s old First Ward, and being impressed with hearing part of my grandmother’s routine of prayer.  Any sentence that came out of her in conversation might end with the phrase, thanks be to God.  Whether she had said Grampa had gotten over a cold or that a batch of still warm cookies were waiting for us on the table, it might end with “thanks be to God.”

Gramma Hens was a pretty smart cookie I think.  She knew that life was hard.  She raised eleven children during the Great Depression.  Through it all she had developed an attitude of gratitude in her relationship with God that extended into every nook and cranny of life.  This was so ingrained in her being that her prayers of thanksgiving were not reserved for times when she was praying, instead all of the activities of life became opportunities for times of prayer.



My grandmother's painting of her backyard.

My grandmother’s painting of her backyard.


Perhaps we should learn from her what should come first in our prayer.  Before we ask for anything, even it is an unselfish intercession for someone else, even if we are painfully aware of our own turning away from relationship with God, no matter where we are on that spectrum of, I believe in God to I don’t know what I believe, perhaps we should start with a thank you.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about this morning as I sipped my coffee, thank’s be to God.

Posted by: matt25 | March 4, 2015

We must cherish human life from beginnin

We must cherish human life from beginning to end, from conception to natural death. http://ow.ly/JVZG4

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