Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Turning 100

Tonight I met with a committee of parishioners to plan our parish's 100th anniversary.  We actually have a bit of an interesting history.  The Diocese of Rockford, Illinois was formed in 1908.  St. Catherine of Genoa Parish was formed in 1912.  It is the first parish to be formed after Rockford became a diocese.  It had a very meager beginning and has grown during the past century to the extent that a new building was erected in 1968 to accomodate the growth.  I am proud to be a part of the history of this faith community and am exctied about what will become of our anniversary celebration.  It should be a fascinatng event.

Monday, September 5, 2011


A couple weeks ago I saw a report on the news about a man, I cannot remember his name, who is on the boards of some charitable institutions where he lives that help the homeless find shelter, and the unemployed find work.  This man works in a food line during the day to feed hungry people who don’t have any food.  In his spare time he edits a newsletter that the homeless can sell so that they can find shelter at night. 

This philanthropist who does great work for the poor in his community is both homeless and unemployed.  He is not mentally ill.  He is not addicted to drugs or alcohol.  He did not gamble away his income.  He was not raised in poverty.  He is an educated man whose own financial situation just became very difficult.  He made a few financial mistakes; probably bought a home that was above his pay scale and he started falling behind on his payments.  Then he lost his job.  His home was foreclosed upon and he had nowhere else to go.  Now he helps the homeless find shelter each day not knowing where he is going to sleep.  He eats the same food he feeds to those who come off the streets. 

And because of my poor memory he remains another nameless person who walks out into God’s vineyard to do the work of harvesting.  He does the work of the Church in anonymity and in deep compassion for the poor.

As we celebrate Labor Day with pride in the work we do, as we relax and enjoy this beautiful day, let us remember that there is a task of profound importance in the world that we, who are disciples of Jesus Christ must complete without fanfare, but in the anonymity and compassion of our hearts, and that is the work of harvesting God’s love for a hungry world.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


God constantly invites us to live as disciples who learn from and follow Jesus.  This invitation might come in the form of a gentle breeze
after a powerful storm. 
It might come in the form of confusion or despair
when we don’t know what to do. 
It might come to us in the daily grind
of everything we take for granted and miss,
making the familiar look like it’s all brand new. 
What is important is our response to that call 
because in it we discover the commitment to our faith.

Every authentic response to the call of Christian discipleship
must be carefully discerned, it cannot be a mere reaction. 
St. Peter shows us this truth when,
rather than thinking about the implications
of trying to walk on the water,
he gets out of the boat and just starts walking
until the wind and waves remind him
that this isn’t possible and he nearly drowns. 
He reacted, and his reaction nearly killed him. 

One of the greatest tragedies of our day is that people
often make decisions without thinking them through carefully. 
An idea is proposed, and in the blink of an eye a decision is made
without any real awareness that, “This might not work out so well.”    Clearly this is what happened to Peter who needed Jesus to rescue him. 
Or, a good suggestion is made, but it might take a little work,
it might not feel like something we’re all that interested in,
and so the idea is dismissed without even thinking about it.

In 1992 the Bishops of the United States wrote a document
It is a beautiful yet profoundly challenging document. 
It unites the word “stewardship” with “discipleship.” 
Anyone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ
is called to be a steward who takes care of something
on behalf of another person. 
We have been given our faith. 
Jesus Christ has entrusted to us this Church,
this religion, this spiritual way of life. 
What Christ has given is a sacred gift that we are to cherish with great care.  The gift of our faith demands that we share our time, talent and treasure
so that the Church can live and grow, in these troublesome days. 

Tithing is a spiritual discipline that reveals our commitment
to the call of discipleship,
and many people think that all the Church does is ask for our money.  We have asked people for help in the liturgy,
or to help teach our children the faith,
and there’s just never enough time,
or we’re just not smart enough,
or we would just rather do something else.
The Gospel calls us to serve the poor,
and yet we choose to take good care of ourselves first
ignoring their plight. 
As disciples we have been asked to live and proclaim the Gospel
which is the good news of God’s mercy and love for a sinful world
and we continue to hold onto grudges and prejudice.

To many Catholics stewardship seems as hard,
and perhaps ridiculous, as walking on water. 
This is even true for the hierarchy of the Church
which has not done enough to promote the spirituality of stewardship that their own document calls for.
But when Peter said,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”
all Jesus said was, “Come.” 
He never said, “Peter, you fool, you can’t walk on the water.” 
Jesus invited him in midst of the stormy seas,
the ferocious winds, and crashing waves
to come out and take a walk with him on the water. 
You never know, maybe Peter would learn
to entrust his life to the will of God
even if it didn’t make sense,
even if the work would be hard,
even if his faith was weak.

Jesus calls out to us in every moment of our lives to be disciples;
stewards who have a mission
to proclaim the gospel,
teach our children the ways of our faith,
serve the needs of the poor
and to live holy lives. 
He calls us to be generous to the poor, merciful to sinners,
kind to those who are hard to like
and to worship with a spirit of joy and enthusiasm that unites us. 
Right now, in the calm of this moment,
even though there is tension and anxiety,
fear and distress in our lives,
Christ invites us to come out onto the water,
to not be afraid, to know that he is near,
and that he will catch us if we fall. 
He will not allow us to be harmed by how much we give,
how we live, or how we express our faith. 
His hand is ever there to lift us up, to bolster our faith,
and to show us the way to be disciples.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


On this Feast of the Holy Trinity
we celebrate the fact that we believe in one God
who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
We are members of a monotheistic religion,
which means we only have one God. 
Our one God consists of three co-equal persons
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
Each person is fully and equally God,
However, the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit,
the Son is not Father or the Holy Spirit,
and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. 
Therefore, each distinct person of the Trinity functions in different ways. 
The Father is our Creator,
the Son is our redeemer,
and the Holy Spirit is the giver of life. 

The fact that our belief in the Trinity is central to our faith
makes it possible for us to be like Moses,
who after he saw Yahweh on the Mountain spoke these words:
“If I find favor with you, O Lord,
do come along in our company.” 
What an amazing invitation. 
It speaks of Moses’ humility in the presence of God. 
Moses was not allowed to see the face of God as he passed by,
but he knew the Lord was there. 
The mystery of God’s presence was not fully revealed to Moses,
but God was present in a truly physical way. 
Moses understood his unworthiness to be in the presence of God,
and yet, he had the audacity to ask God to be with his people
on their journey through the desert. 
He knew that Israel would never make it to the Promised Land,
their home, without God’s help.

We too have the right in our own faith to invite God
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
to be present to us on our spiritual journey.
 “Do come along with us God. 
You are creator of heaven and earth. 
All that exists does so because of your divine will. 
You are our Father, we are your children and, like our ancestors,
we are on this journey through life to the land you promise,
the dwelling place you have created for us,
so that we, your children, can live with you,
our Father through eternity. 
But like our ancestors before us, we are a stiff-necked people. 
We complain that life is not what we want it to be. 
We get angry when the life we think we are supposed to control
from the time we get up to the time we go to bed
is filled with chaos, stumbling blocks, and mirages
that trick us into believing that we can live our lives
without your grace, your presence and your love. 
If you find favor with us, O Father, walk with us, be us,
show us the way to our eternal home.”

At other times we can invite Jesus, the only begotten son,
to be with us, especially when we know we have sinned
and are in need of his mercy. 
“Do come along with us, Lord Jesus, for we so easily lose our way. 
We are paralyzed by our sinfulness, our pride, our greed
and our lust for all that we desire for ourselves. 
We need your mercy and the salvation you promise us. 
Do come along with us,
you have promised that you will not leave us orphans,
you promise to be with us always. 
Be our Bread of Life here in the desert of sin and death. 
Let us know your healing touch, your gracious presence at our tables,
in our homes, and in every place where we feel
we are most unworthy of you. 
For we are weak, we are hungry,
we are impoverished by our selfishness and greed. 
Do come along with us and be our daily bread.”

We can call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration. 
“Come, Holy Spirit, Come. 
Enkindle within us the fire of your love. 
Do walk with us for you are the Lord, the giver of life,
you bless us with your gifts, your Word, your grace
which fills our lives with peace. 
Come into our confusion and doubt
as we grieve those we love who suffer in sickness, pain and death.  Come into the dullness of our souls
and inspire us with excitement and joy. 
Come into the barrenness of our souls
which leaves us dry as bones in the desert
and let your wisdom fill us with new life. 
Do come along with us and guide us with your light.”

The Trinity is a central mystery of our faith. 
Our salvation rests on the belief in one God
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 
And while we will never fully grasp the meaning of this mystery
we can invite God to define us, enlighten us and save us,
for without the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
we will forever remain lost in the desert. 
Like Israel, we need our Triune God to be with us
         to show us the way home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Matt. 6:1

Love is our reason for carrying out acts of righteousness:
love for God, love for the poor, love of our faith. 
Love is also our compensation, our recompense, for these righteous acts. 
God’s love is poured out from a deep secret place within our souls
where we are eternally in communion
with the One whose love enriches our lives
beyond the love we share with one another.

Perhaps the greatest sadness we can know in our relationship with God
is that human love always seems to matter more
than the recompense of God’s love. 
We so readily settle for a minimum wage – a slave’s recompense –
not knowing how richly God blesses our lives with his love.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Third Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2011.


            May is the busiest month of the year because we’re focusing on a lot of important events like Mother’s Day, First Communions, Confirmations and graduations.  Students in college are preparing for their finals. Baseball games and other extracurricular events are happening.  There is so much to do, we lose sight of the fact that we are still in the midst of the Easter Season.  The risen Jesus Christ is still the focus of our celebration.  Like Cleopas and his companion, though, we journey through life with our thoughts pulled in many directions, but are we aware of the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives?  Does his resurrection have meaning for us?  Or, do other important things prevent us from seeing him?
            Even here at Mass it seems we are not always fully aware of the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  We stand up at Holy Communion, we get in line, the ritual so familiar and habitual we don’t always get the full implications of what it is we are doing.  When something sacred becomes habitual, its meaning gets lost and we end up going through the motions of receiving, eating and going back to our seats.  The actions of the ritual become even more important for us than the awareness of what it is we are doing.
            Life is like that sometimes.  We find ourselves getting so caught up in the intensity of our lives, and the mundane routines, that we lose sight of the meaning of what we do.  When this happens we are like Cleopas and his companion, walking in our own direction, moving, perhaps, further away from where God wants us to be, totally unaware that Jesus Christ is present to us, hidden in plain sight and ready to open our eyes.
            Mary Grace Murray, my mother’s mother, died of Parkinson’s disease twenty five years ago.  Parkinson’s disease is a very slowly progressive disease of the central nervous system that shuts down the body little by little.  For several years Grandma Murray was able to function quite well.  Ultimately, she had to sell the house and she moved into an assisted living apartment, then into a nursing home.  Over the years she needed more and more care, and the time and energy of my mother and her sister, Jeannine.  During those final months and years the changes I saw in Grandma Murray were quite dramatic.  I was, however, in the seminary several hundred miles away and could not see her very often.  Mom, on the other hand, was so close to what was happening, that it was the care Grace needed that mattered the most.  In responding to the needs of her dying mother, my mom paid very close attention to everything that Grandma needed. 
            It wasn’t until after Mary Grace died and Mom saw her in the casket wearing a pretty dress and some nice jewelry that she realized, “Oh, it was you all along.”  Mom recognized the lovely features of her mother and remembered how full of life she had been.  Mom thought about how much Grandma Murray loved the simple things in life like going uptown for a cup of coffee with friends, or sharing a can of Mountain Dew with her grandson after he mowed her lawn.
            “And it happened that, while he was at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.”  Cleopas and his companion recognized him because they were familiar with the action of taking bread, blessing it, breaking it and sharing it.  They saw Jesus take bread, give thanks for it, break it and distribute it to the crowds who ate their fill.  They saw Jesus take the Seder bread at the Last Supper when he broke it, and gave it to them saying, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body, which will be given up for you.”  On the road to Emmaus Cleopas and his companion had been so caught up in their grief and pain that they could not see the presence of Jesus Christ who walked with them.  It took something as radical and as simple as that gesture of lifting bread toward the heavens, giving thanks, and then sharing it to realize the impact of this meal, and the reality of Jesus’ presence in their lives.
            In all the busyness of this month of May, with all the intensity of the stress we feel in our daily lives, with all the distractions that pull us in a million directions at once, we are here for one thing: the Body of Christ who feeds us with his love and grace.  Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  Alleluia.  May the eyes of our hearts remain open so that we will come to know his presence with us in this sacred meal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Prayer For Calm

In a recent conversation with my spiritual director, it was suggested that, along with the other aspects of my daily prayer, it would be good to add a brief prayer asking God to help me with a problem I have with my temperment.  So the prayer is forming in my mind and soul.  Right now, it goes something like this:

God, I pray for calm today.
Help me to face all the stress and anxiety of my life
with a sense of composure.
This is one of the greatest longings of my soul.
I desire calm dignity in how I respond
to all that stresses, worries and bothers me.
I make this request because my life
is intimately connected to the lives of so many people
and my reactions impact their lives too.
I have been unable to change all by myself;
all my efforts have borne little fruit and so
I place my life in your tender care.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why am I in it?

This is a difficult question to answer, but I hope it's a question every Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist or person of faith asks.  For most of my life I know my intentions have been good ones.  In a naive and idealistic way I like to think that I've done some good in how I've lived my faith. 

My faith. 
How I've lived,
I've done
my intentions,
my gifts.
I am still
at the heart of it all
in it for me.
and I wonder,
how much longer
can this go on?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Fourth Week of Lent                                                                 John 5: 17-30
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
Jesus sounds like the prophet Ezekiel in the vision of the dry bones that come to life again by the Spirit as the prophet speaks God’s Word.  When the dead are given new life Ezekiel hears God say these words:
“O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!  I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord.  I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.”                                                         -- Ezekiel 37: 12-14
The dead Jesus talks about are not just the ones who lie entombed in earthen graves.  They are also those whose souls lie dormant in faithless repose while they continue to live and breathe, think and act unaware of the presence of the Lord of life in their midst.  These are not the souls of those who live in squalor, persecution, famine or war.  These are the souls of those who live in the first world; the world of the upper and middle classes; the world of busyness and tension; the world of entitlement and wealth.  These are souls that are like dry bones waiting for the Spirit of life to reinvigorate them. 
Lent is the time for us to hear the Spirit speak the word of life in the desert.  This word breaks through all the illness and fear that paralyze us.  The voice of the Son of God cries out here in the wilderness, “you are my beloved to whom I give my life.  Rise up and follow me, and you shall live forever.” 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Technology is still no substitute for work.

Remember the Palm Pilot?  That was the beginning of the end for me.  I went through a few of them before I realized that a paper calender and a pencil work so much better for me.  I got pretty good with the Palm software and was able to manage my time fairly well with the handheld device.  But there were always problems with synchronizing with the computer, and I lost one, dropped and broke another, and the technology gave me huge headaches and never really saved me any time. 

I don't have a smart phone either.  The technology looks amazing.  These devices do so many different things and are meant to make life so much more convenient.  They are portable stereos, games, calenders, Internet, phones, and life savers if you lock the keys in the car.  Touch an app and you're ready to play the latest bloody battle game, or research a paper, or maybe even give grandma a call.  You can even do an examination of conscience to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

When technology becomes so smart that it does all our thinking for us, though, I think we're in serious trouble.  I've seen how the Confession App works.  It seems very cool.  It gives you an extensive list of possible sins and all you have to do is put an X in the box by the ones that apply and it will automatically remember the sins for you in nice neat categories.  Then when you get into the confessional all you have to do is bring in the smart phone and you've got your list of sins right in front of you.  How much easier could it be for the penitent who has it all?

Of course the penitent still has to decide whether the sins on the list apply.  There's a little bit of effort for you.  But is that really going to be a substitute for prayerfully and courageously listening to the conscience as it helps us to understand the nature of our sins, their consequences, and our need to let them go?  Something as important as thoroughly reflecting on our sins takes time, honest effort, and it's not very much fun.  It's not supposed to be convenient.  The purpose of doing a thorough examination of conscience is not just to help us remember what we are to say in the confessional, it's also to help us understand more deeply what it is we need to change in our lives. 

Maybe I'm just "old fashioned."  I've always been the type of guy who does things the hard way.  I guess if I was smart enough to grasp the technology and really let it work its magic, the Confession App could really rock my world in a fantastic way.  But at my age and temperament, I'm going to live with doing the work myself.  I just can't make myself trust the machines to work right for me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Would you like some honey with your Gospel?

St. Francis de Sales used to say that you attract more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel full of vinegar.  I'm sure there is a great deal of truth to that statement.  But when I take a good look around I see that those flies who want to hear the Word listen well.  But how often do we lick off the sweetness on the outside and throw away the rest?

As I examine my own life I realize that I am a pretty direct kind of person, and while I can be diplomatic, while I can speak with sweet overtones, I am probably more like the prophet Jeremiah who had such a fire in his belly that he had to speak God's Word with a boldness that usually angered people more than it attracted them.  I know it's a good thing to challenge people in encouraging ways.  However, I am convinced that there is so much sugar in everything else people hear today, that there's probably not much room for the sweetness of the Gospel.

Here's my question.  How does the Church most effectively promote the Gospel to a culture that refuses to listen?  What works best?  Is a honey coated, spoonfed approach going to work better than a good old ass-kicking, or the old-timey revival approach?  If I went to a street corner here in Genoa, Illinois, a nice quiet semi-rural community and started proclaiming the Gospel, would that work?  If I went door to door and invited myself, or imposed my presence on the lives of this community, would that work?  Or, should I just keep on doing my best to preach well, love the people I'm called to serve, and just leave it at that?  I hope I get some responses to this blog.  Unfortunately, I've run plum out of honey.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Will someone shut that damn goat up?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tobit 2:9-14; Mark 12:13-17
Who was right in the debate between Tobit and his wife?  I can see merit in both positions.  Anna received the goat as a bonus for the work she had done.  Her employer might have been very pleased with her work, or maybe they just felt bad for her because she was working so hard and her husband was blind because a bunch birds pooped in his eyes. 
But Tobit’s position also has merit.  He did not want to risk eating meat that had been stolen.  He didn’t know where it had come from.  Perhaps his sense of justice was a bit too strict, but legally speaking hecould have been correct.  There is an undercurrent of real stewardship in telling Anna to take the goat back.  So often we have more than we deserve; more than we need.  Could it not be said that when we keep more food for ourselves than is necessary we are robbing the hungry?  Perhaps all of us have stolen food in our pantries.  I think I do…
What would life be like if all of us decided that we would give to God what belongs to God?  My guess is that it would be heaven.  For now, we live in this world and it belongs to God.  All we really possess is the life we have and everything else belongs to God.  If we only took and used what was necessary for sustaining our lives we would probably find that in very short order, poverty would vanish forever.  Poverty exists today because we who can afford all we want in this life are greedy.  Deep down we see ourselves as Caesar; we are demigods ruling our own empires and everything belongs to us.  I wonder what causes that kind of blindness.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What God has joined let no one divide

Friday, February 25, 2011
Mark 10:1-12
One of the greatest longings of the human heart is a loving union so intimate, so powerful and good nothing in the universe could ever break its bond.  Marriage in the Church is the closest thing we have to such a union as the two are joined becoming one flesh.  This union is impossible, though, without God’s grace to unite them.  That grace is there every day.  It is given in divine abundance to those who are joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  But how open are couples to receiving and sharing that grace with each other?  The bond of Holy Matrimony can only be as strong as the relationship the husband and wife each have with God.  No matter how much they might love each other, if prayer is not part of their relationship with God, who is the divine and silent partner in their marriage, then it is merely tenacity, hard work, some stubbornness and luck that keeps them together.  Openness to God’s grace in a loving, and intimate friendship with God is the key to living as one flesh.  It takes three for two to live as one.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Everyone will be salted with fire."

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Every time I’ve read the words “Everyone will be salted with fire” I’ve scratched head wondering what that phrase means.  There are lots theories about it.  The one that makes the most sense to me says that Jesus was talking about the purifying qualities of salt.  Rub a little salt into the wound and it will sting mightily, but the salt will help cleanse the wound.  Often times, healing hurts even more than the wound.  Grieving the death of a loved one often times hurts more than the death, but grief is a natural and important part of the healing process.  People with cancer are treated with chemicals that cause tremendous sickness and pain, but without those treatments, the cancer will take their lives. When war has been waged and battles go on long enough leaving behind death, homelessness, the destruction of society and hate, enemies must ultimately sit down together and negotiate the terms for peace.  When we sin we have to feel the effects of our shame, they cannot be ignored forever.  They are there to help us seek reconciliaiton, mercy and forgiveness.

"Everyone will be salted with fire.  To avoid suffering and pain is to choose a life without salt, and Jesus does not encourage that kind of existence because life in the kingdom of God is all about being purified, perfected; we are being made whole.  Healing is always God’s desire for us.  Unfortunately the healing process is often very painful.  But when the throbbing stops, and we are able to open our eyes and our hearts to God’s gracious and merciful love, we can authentically say, “Thank God for salt.  It really does make life taste good.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

"I do believe, help my unbelief!"

Monday, February 21, 2011
Week 7
Mark 9:14-29
Every coin, it seems, has two sides, one that is positive, and one that is negative.  The more valuable the coin, the greater are its positive and negatives sides.  Here was the transfigured Jesus in his risen glory on top of the mountain with his friends Peter, James and John along with Moses and Elijah.  There was God’s voice, too, thundering from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.  No retreat in the history of the world could ever match the heights of this peak moment.  But down there at the bottom of the mountain was anger, argument, a boy possessed by the devil,  a father’s weak faith and the disciples’ failure in trying to help the boy.
Flip the coin, where will lady luck land?  Will she land us on the positive peak moment of grace, healing and peace?  Will she land us in the depths of sin, doubt and despair?  Either way, luck has nothing to do with it.  Whatever the moment, Christ is there calling us to a deeper faith in the joys and delights life offers, and in the sorrows we must endure.  Lady luck is nothing but a myth, a mirage of faulty logic.  What is most important is prayer.  The prayer of gratitude for all that is good in this life and the prayer for mercy, compassion and healing when we suffer.  On top of the mountain, or in the depths of Hell, the love of Christ is always the same.  It is the love that draws us in every moment of our lives to his heart that beats eternal salvation for all those whom he loves.  Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mark 6: 53-56

The Church teaches that we are the new Jerusalem; a shiny city on a hill.  We are God's chosen people.  With this favored status we have the promise of salvation, if we are true to the Covenant.  We are the holy ones, the saved, the redeemed, the ones who will see God face to face in the heavenly banquet. 
"Through his cross and resurrection he freed us from sin and death and called us to the glory that has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart."  (Preface for Sundays in Ordinary Time 1)
Gennesaret, though, seems to be a more apt description of who we are as a Church today.  Gennesaret was on the other side of the lake, near pagan territory.  It was seen as the place where demon possession was an epidemic.  It was unholy, wounded, filled with anguish and sorrow, it was a place where many sick people suffered in terrible pain.  It was a place where the saved lived side by side with the damned.  It was a place Jesus paid special attention to because they needed him to be present to them.

All he needed to do was pass by them, and if they just touched the tassle of his cloak as it whisked by them, they were healed.  But the sick, the possessed, those who suffered in sorrow and pain needed one thing: the help of those who knew Jesus would cure them.  They needed the community who believed in him to help them in their powerlessness to be in his presence.  This, to me, is the better model and understanding of what the Church is supposed to be.

Rather than seeing ourselves as the saved, the ones who've made it and are, therefore, already graced and already in the golden city of Jerusalem, we should see ourselves as the ones who are to bring the suffering, the lost, the poor, and all the others we know of who are sick in Gennesaret to the one whose presence will bring them healing and peace.  Are we willing to make such an invitation to those who need to touch him?

Friday, February 4, 2011


About 15 years ago a movie called Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story hit the theaters with a resounding thud of silence.  It was a beautiful movie.  It tells the story of Dorothy Day who grew up in a fairly affluent family, received a degree in journalism and had the promise of an elitist career.  She got pregnant, and the father encouraged her to stop the pregnancy.  When she did, he abandoned her.  This moment was a life-changing event.

She met a French-Canadian philosopher, Peter Maurin, and was influenced to become a member of the Catholic Faith.  Together they founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930’s.  Their main task was to feed the hungry and homeless people living in the streets of New York City during the depression.  At a time when she needed help the most, she asked for help wherever she could get it, and even the Church tried to silence her.  She was relentless, and worked harder to care for the poorest of the poor. 
She was accused of being a communist during the 1950’s.  She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.  She protested for peace during the Viet Nam Conflict.  She was imprisoned for non-violent civil disobedience.
We go to Mass, we hear the Gospel proclaimed, we receive the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and all the graces that come with it.  But if we are here because of what we are getting we are here for the wrong reason.  If we are Catholic because we want to get into heaven, then our Catholic faith is, at best, being used minimally. 
Our being nourished by the Eucharist does not just strengthen us for the journey to righteousness, holiness, Catholic piety and the hope of a heavenly reward.  We are fed so that we can feed others.  We are nourished so that we can have the strength to give testimony – to proclaim the gospel to world that is dying of starvation.  When we are fed with the Body of Christ, we are given the nourishment we need to entertain angels.