Sunday, March 18, 2012


Do we live in Babylon? 
Or, are we living in the land of promise? 
Is our world one of darkness,
or do we live our lives in the light of God’s love? 
If our lives seem dark, if our lives seem troubled,
sad,  or desperate, then we are,
like the Hebrew people
who lived seven hundred years before Jesus,
living in exile. 
People who live in exile struggle to believe
because they are so far away from home;
because they live in darkness. 

Nicodemus came to Jesus during the night,
and the night was something more than the time of day. 
The night was a dark cloak of secrecy;
the night was the darkness of doubt and disbelief. 

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, he was a member of the Sanhedrin,
which made him a member of the ruling class
of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day. 
He saw Jesus as a great man, one who was filled with God. 
However, this vision of Jesus was a skeptical one. 
He saw Jesus as a wonder worker, more like a magician. 
He wanted to believe, but was very much afraid to
because believing in Jesus
would have been very dangerous for him. 
It would have threatened his position on the Sanhedrin,
and it would have completely changed his system of belief. 
That kind of change is very difficult for anyone who is a person of faith.

Five times we heard Jesus tell Nicodemus
about the importance of believing. 
Believing that Jesus was lifted up in exaltation on the cross
leads to eternal life.   
Believing that God loves the world so much       
that he sent his only Son, leads to eternal life. 
Believing in Jesus Christ leads to living in his light,
which gives us a sense of direction in our lives of faith. 
We almost hear Jesus begging Nicodemus to believe in him. 
Nicodemus, do not live in the darkness. 
Nicodemus, do not live in doubt. 
Nicodemus, do not live in this kind of exile,
it is a place of evil, it is a place of darkness. 

People who live in darkness fear the light
because within the dark cloak of secrecy
they huddle in fear assuming that God does not see them,
know them, or love them. 

Believing in Jesus Christ, though, begins with grace;
it begins with the gift of faith. 
While faith does not answer the mysteries of God
and life in his kingdom,
it does inform our intellect so that from the depths of our wills
we can choose to believe. 
Believing, then, provides the light
that leads us out of the darkness of exile
into the eternal light of God’s kingdom. 

This is a moment for us to ponder deeply,
are we in Babylon, the place of being uprooted,
the land of shame,
the darkness of hate and violence? 
If we are, then Christ begs us to believe in him. 
Christ begs us to believe that the cross is our hope for salvation. 
Christ begs us to believe that God’s love for us is so great
that he would give us his Son to forgive us,
to take away all of our shame,
all of our doubt, all of our fear,
and to bless our lives with light;
the light of eternal life. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


The Lord Be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

That is why we are here. We gather to celebrate the Eucharist because it is right and just. We come to give praise and glory to God because it is right and just. We assemble as a community of faith to participate in the ritual of the Mass because it is right and just. We don’t gather here to be entertained. We are not here simply to fulfill an obligation. We are not here just to receive special graces from the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We are here because it is right and just.

It is right for us to gather here because this place is God’s house. It is a house of prayer. And we come to this sacred and beautiful place, so that we can participate fully in the mystery of our salvation. We gather as a faith community that loves God and each other in such a way that our prayer makes a difference in our lives. It is right for us to come here for private visitations. It is right for us to be able to venerate the Body of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. It is right for us to be here to celebrate all the other Sacraments. it is right for us to be here to learn about our faith and to grow in our loving relationship with God.

Jesus was upset with all the money changers and vendors of sacrificial animals that were in the temple in Jerusalem. He was not angry because they were there; they were supposed to be there. Many of the Jews who purchased animals for sacrifice used Roman currency which was not allowed in the temple treasury. The animals were purchased so that they could be sacrificed, which was an essential part of the Jewish worship. Of course, the money changers and animal vendors did make a small profit, but that’s not what made Jesus so angry.

Jesus was angry because the Jewish people stopped seeing the Temple as a sacred place of prayer. They no longer saw it as God’s dwelling place. God’s house had become a market place that had more economic and social importance. It’s value as a place of worship and praise was gone. People were paying lip service to the value of their faith. The “Yes” to faith they showed each other was a big, fat “No” to God. From the King on down to the religious leaders the faith had become a symbol of something more important than worshiping God. God’s will no longer mattered. The covenant no longer mattered. The letter of the law had become more important than the truth of the law, the spirit of the law, and people were being misjudged and mistreated. People were abandoning the faith because, it no longer met their spiritual needs. And history has a way of repeating itself.

The Lord Be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

That is why we are here. Our worship of God is a matter of justice. We are called to obey God’s command to keep holy the Sabbath. We are obliged to be here because we are God’s people, called to worship him as our only true God. Our being here might not seem to be as fun as taking a well deserved day of rest. Our being here might not be as productive as working on a Sunday and getting time-and-a-half pay for it. Our rituals do not always make sense to people. The Mass becomes so routine that it seems almost pointless to be here. But our presence truly is a matter of justice. We are gathered here to please the God who judges us and to love the God who loves us so much that he calls us to share in his divinity.

The rituals of the Mass may not seem to connect very well with our lives, but they are beautiful. The Mass is not very entertaining, but, it demands that we participate in a way that is heartfelt and meaningful. The Mass is more than a matter of fulfilling an obligation, it’s about obedience, commitment, and deep concern for the sanctification of our souls. The Mass is not just about what we receive for ourselves, it’s about worshiping God from the deepest parts of our souls because we are God’s children, because we love God.

The Lord Be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just. What greater reason do we have for being here?

Saturday, March 3, 2012


God has blessed each of our lives with the gift of free will. God wants us to understand, though, that our lives belong to him, our lives are in his hands and there is an ultimate destiny for us that we cannot reach by own will power alone.

“Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.” When we hear the word “Took” in English, we might get the idea that Jesus decided to go up the mountain and that Peter, James and John went with him. Maybe he decided to take them because he wanted them to come along. Maybe he took them because they wanted to go with him. Either way, he led them up the mountain. In the Greek language of his day, St. Mark chose a surprising word for the verb to “take,” ANAPHEREI, which meant to carry something in an uward direction. When I was a boy I used to have to carry the old Hoover Vacuum cleaner up the stairs. ANAPHEREI. It sounds like Jesus carried Peter, James and John up the mountain. I can think of two reasons why we carry people: (1) they are not capable of walking, or moving themselves; and (2) they do not want to go to the place they are being taken. In other words, Jesus made Peter, James and John go up that mountain with him because they didn’t want to go up there.

Why? Because just before this Transfiguration scene, Jesus told his apostles that the Son of Man would go to Jerusalem where he would suffer at the hands of Jewish authorities, he would be put to death on a cross and three days later he would rise again. The three apostles didn’t want Jesus to go through with this plan of suffering, dying and rising. They believed Jesus was the Messiah, but to their way of thinking, the Messiah was supposed to do something very different. He was supposed to free Jerusalem from the grip of the Roman Empire and restore God’s holy people to favored status once again. The Messiah was supposed to be a great military and political figure, along with being a holy man. The Messiah was never supposed to suffer or die. They didn’t want to go up that mountain because they felt like they had been duped. Here they just proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, and now he told them that he was going to do something different than what they wanted him to do. So Jesus literally had to force Peter, James and John to go up that mountain with him.

And it’s a good thing they went, too. Because when they saw Jesus transfigured, and talking to Moses and Elijah, they saw the glorified Christ, the Messiah. They heard God say “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” In this moment they knew that Jesus was a far more powerful Messiah than they could have ever dreamed of because they saw him in his divine and human nature.

During Lent the Church asks us to carry out works of prayer, fasting and charity, but we have free will and can choose to ignore these penitential acts. The disciplines of Lent challenge us to work through the stubbornness of our expectations of what the Messiah is supposed to be. Like Peter, James and John we are often content with what we think is a satisfactory image of who Jesus is, and what the sacrament of the Eucharist is all about.

So often people see the Eucharist as this nice, comforting source of grace that blesses us with a warm, almost magically good feeling. But that’s not the only gift the Eucharist provides. The Eucharist nourishes and strengthens our souls so that we can take up the cross of discipleship. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Anyone who claims the name of Catholic and Christian is called to accept the cross of discipleship. If we are going to take any real satisfaction in the fact that we receive the risen and glorified Body of Christ in this sacred meal, that means we have to understand that the Eucharist is not as much about what we receive for ourselves, as it is the fact that we are to reveal the living presence of Jesus Christ to others.

Therefore, we freely choose to take up our crosses which demand penitence. But that is not all. We are to love others as Christ has loved us. If we are to authentically share in this sacred meal, we allow his life to transform us. That means we will have a keen eye on how we can serve the needs of the poor here in our area and throughout the world. To allow his living presence to transform our lives we embrace the discipline of prayer so that his spirit of grace will enable us to reveal God’s presence to others who need to be blessed as well. Our world needs forgiveness. Our world needs peace. Our world longs to know and see that Jesus Christ is present and very much at work in us.

The cross without Calvary is self-will running amok in a chaotic world. If we are to authentically embrace the fact that we are disciples, we will allow the living Christ to carry us to the mountain of revelation so that we can see the glory of his presence in our lives, and hear the voice of God tell us, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

Monday, February 27, 2012


Confrontation is hard. We try to avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely avoid because whenever we have to make a hard decision we are confronted by whatever choices we have to make. That means we have to weigh all pros and cons; the consequences we can foresee good and bad. Often times, when we have to make moral decisions we are confronted by our inner beasts lurking in the dark shadows of our souls, and the angels who, in speaking God’s Word, help us to make the right decisions. We are confronted with sinful temptations. We are confronted with the truth flowing from the consequences of our decisions, teaching us the lessons of life which help us when we have to make similar decisions in the future.

Like the great prophets before him, Jesus took a forty day journey into the desert where he faced dangerous beasts and the demons of temptation which haunted him day and night while he fasted and prayed. This confrontation with hunger and evil was balanced by the goodness and beauty of the angels who comforted and consoled him. This time of testing was necessary because, if he was able to survive such an ordeal as fasting and praying for forty days and nights in the desert, his voice would carry the weight of authenticity as he confronted the people of God with the Gospel.

Lent is a time for each of us to enter into a similar kind of experience, one that helps us to live as authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. The desert is both dangerous and beautiful, no matter where, or what kind it is. In the foothills 25 miles south of Denver, Colorado there is a Jesuit retreat center. It is in the middle of nowhere, and the terrain is very dry, like a desert. I spent a month there in the summer of 1999 on a silent retreat. The scenery was majestic. The grounds of the retreat center beautifully groomed. The rooms were comfortable, the food was well prepared. The liturgies were simple but moving. There were no T.V.’s or radios, no computers and no cell phones. There was also no talking, except for on very controlled occasions. After a day, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Each day I walked out on the pasture trails that led into the foothills. One sunny afternoon a mile or two away from the retreat house, I stopped to look at the most colorful wild flower I had ever seen. I was thinking to myself how interesting life can be when we force ourselves to be silent for a long time. Right next to the flower was a fresh, what we call in Iowa, “cow pie.” I was pondering how my life is just like this strange conglomeration of the stuff I really don’t like very much about myself. Then, just as I started thinking about the idea that there is real beauty in my life, I heard an explosion of thunder louder than anything I had ever heard in my life. Storms like that pop up as they pass over the Rockies. It was bright and sunny when I heard that thunder, but 30 seconds later, it was pouring rain. Never before had I longed so much for home. On that day, there were a little over three weeks left of the retreat.

Lent doesn’t usually feel this intense to us, but still, it’s an important time to examine our consciences. We take stock of what’s going on inside our souls. We look at everything, the good and the bad, the beautiful and ugly, the sins of our pride and greed, the virtues of humility and generosity. In our fasting, prayer and alms-giving, we face the temptations of making excuses: “I know it’s Friday, but chicken is all I can find in the fridge and I gotta eat something with my salad.” “There is so much to do today and so little time, I’ll go to daily Mass in the morning. “We bought that laptop a few weeks ago and don’t have any more money in the budget for charity.” We so easily sabotage ourselves with excuses that can lead to sin. However, our better angels inspire us to try harder, to resist the temptations to sin, if we’re willing to listen.

Immediately after Jesus’ time in the desert was over, he preached an urgent message that sounded like thunder in the desert. The very first words we hear Jesus say in Mark’s Gospel are “This is the time of fulfillment.” Salvation has come into the world, and it’s time NOW to confront ourselves with the truth of sin and its consequences in our lives. It’s time to make a decision, “Do I follow Jesus Christ and take up my cross? Or, do I live my faith according to my own will?”

Lent, is a time for us face our sins, and to do the best we can to turn away from them and to seek the ministry of the angels that are found in prayer, fasting and giving alms to the poor. We find the ministry of the angels in the crosses we bear. It is in their caring for us that we discover the beautiful truth of who we really are.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


We usually feel compassion for people who are paralyzed.  Underneath that empathy we think about how horrible it would be to never walk freely, drive a car or rise up from bed each morning.  The paralyzed man in the gospel might bring up similar thoughts in us.  How sad that he could not walk up to Jesus. It’s too bad he had to have help getting to Jesus.  We might even get angry that the crowd of people listening to Jesus didn’t cooperate with this strange group struggling to get to Jesus.  But Mark is not asking us to feel anything.  He wants us learn something, he wants us to observe what Jesus does.           

You see, there is more than one kind of paralysis a person can experience.  The crowd of people was so spellbound by Jesus’ preaching, they couldn’t rouse themselves to make room so that the paralyzed man could get to Jesus.  They were, in a sense, paralyzed.  You could say that the scribes were paralyzed by their closed mindedness.  They didn’t like what Jesus had to say.  They thought Jesus was a blasphemer because he said, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”   

Jesus asked them, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic your sins are forgiven?  Or to say rise, pick up your mat and walk?”  They believed that only God could forgive sins. The reason they held this belief was that if forgiveness was offered there needed to be some kind of proof that the burden of sin had been lifted.  So, without answering the question, Jesus gave them the proof they needed, that he had the power to forgive sins merely by telling the man to rise and walk. 
This had never been seen by anyone before!  It proved that Jesus had the love to heal the paralyzed man.  It also proved that he had the divine power to forgive the sin that caused him to be paralyzed.  No questions were asked.  No judgments were made.  Jesus just lovingly told him, “Child, your sins are forgiven, rise, pick up your mat and walk.”  God’s grace has the power to heal the afflictions of the flesh and to forgive sins.  To this day, it is difficult for us to believe these things are possible, especially when we know that our own sins have caused us to be spiritually paralyzed.

Sin has a profound effect on our lives.  Knowledge of our sins invades our thoughts and so we distract ourselves with whatever numbs the pain.  Those distractions are painkillers with spiritual side effects that render us unable to move towards the healing we need.  Sin causes us to be in a state of paralysis God’s mercy can heal.  We need to hear the voice of Jesus Christ say, “Child your sins are forgiven, rise, pick up your mat, and walk.”
There is a way for us rise up from being spiritually paralyzed by our sins.  God’s mercy is available in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In the grace of absolution the sins we confess are taken away from us.  Unfortunately, though, in our spiritual paralysis we find it impossible to get ourselves to Christ.  What causes this inability to rise up?  I’ve heard it said that there was a priest here once who told people that it’s not necessary to go to confession.  That’s not true.  I don’t mean to call the man a liar, but clearly there was some inaccurate information spoken.  Our lives are very busy and we don’t feel that we have the time to get confession, so we just tell God we’re sorry.  Daily examination of conscience, and speaking the words “I’m sorry” are very good things.  We believe God is very forgiving.  But it is through the grace of absolution that we are truly given the ability to rise up and walk.

This brings us to the four men who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus. He could not do this on his own.  He needed their help.  The four men had the faith to get him to Jesus, and they wouldn’t let anything stop them, not the crowd, not even the house where Jesus was.  They took the paralyzed man to the roof, they tore off the grass, they dug through the mud and they lowered him to the floor at Jesus feet.  That was their mission.  Who are these four men?  They are the Church.  The Church has a mission to make it possible for people who are frozen in their sins to receive God’s healing love. 
I stand before you as one of those men.  I stand before you as one who has been given the ability to rise up from my own paralysis caused by sin.  I stand before you, also, in persona Christi, in the person of Jesus Christ.  I stand before you to say that the miracle of healing happens every time I raise my hands in that gentle gesture of blessing and say, “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins.  Through the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Some people say that Catholics have “lost their understanding of what sin is” and that’s why they don’t go to confession anymore.  Perhaps the real truth is that sin has a paralyzing effect on us.  We know what sin is.  We feel its impact when others hurt us.  We feel the weight of the sins we commit against others.  Sin hardens our hearts to the point in which it becomes almost impossible to seek God’s mercy. 
But the Church has been given the mission of offering the healing grace we need.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we hear Jesus Christ tell us to rise from the paralyzing effects of sin, and shame, division, anger, resentment and scorn.   “And I absolve you from your sins.  Rise up, walk in peace, my healing love has set you free.”

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J. wrote a poem called EACH DAY WRITES, he says:

“Each day writes in my heart’s core
ineradicably, what it is to be human.”
I have to be honest with you, not only did I not know what the word “ineradicably” means, I could hardly say it. Usually if I can’t even say an English word, I have to look it up to find out what it means. So I looked it up and found out that it means “unable to be destroyed or removed.”

He is saying that each day of life writes a message in our hearts about what it means to be human; a message that cannot be destroyed or removed. Each day tells us that our suffering, the commitments of our hearts and the ways we are present to others who suffer, express what it means to be human. And there is no force in heaven or on earth that can remove these messages, these lessons of life.

Job teaches us that the confusion caused by suffering leads to the desire to understand why pain is so much a part of his life. He had it all; money to buy anything he could ever want for the rest of his life, a wife he loved faithfully, children who were the delights of his heart, land, animals and the gift of faith that kept God near to his heart always. He lost it all in Satan’s bet with God that if Job were to suffer enough he would lose his faith because that’s what human beings do. In wrestling with his pain, Job came very close to cursing God, but God intervened reminding him that all that exists in the universe does so because God caused it, and Job, whether he is in tremendous pain, or is having the time of his life, will never change God. All Job has to do is make a decision: he has to decide if he is going to remain faithful to God, or, abandon his faith. Despite all the odds in his favor, Satan lost his bet. Job chose to keep his faith.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, reminds the Christian community of his obligation to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
St. Paul tells us that preaching the Gospel is an ineradicable obligation: one he could never walk away from; one he could never abandon. We have faithful obligations imposed upon us in our daily lives; obligations to love expressed in the vows we make, obligations to care for, nourish, protect and love our children, obligations to pass on the blessings of our faith, obligations to care for the poor, to forgive sins, to offer compassion for the sick and the grieving, obligations to love God with all our hearts, souls and strength and neighbors as ourselves, obligations to please God by the ways we live.

As always, Jesus shows us by the examples he sets how to fulfill these ineradicable obligations that are written on the core of our hearts. Read chapter 1 of Mark’s Gospel this week. It will take about 15 minutes. Mark tells us that Jesus Christ was sent by God to bring healing to the sick, to call sinners to repentance, and to proclaim the Good news of God’s love to the world. Read about how Jesus was present to the people. He was present as an authoritative voice that freed the man possessed of a demon at the synagogue in Capernaum, he cured Peter’s mother in law and all the sick from around Galilee. He touched a leper and told him of his desire to heal him. Jesus was present to the sick and lowly people of Galilee. He preached the gospel from the from the ambo of his divine humanity by using the language of love, and by being present as a human who offers healing, forgiveness, and a hand that tenderly touches even the lowliest people in the world.

“Each day writes in our heart’s core
ineradicably, what it is to be human.”
Each day tells us that our suffering, the commitments of our hearts and the ways we are present to others who suffer, the joys we share in laughter, the romantic moments when our hearts burst open with the delight of being in love, sacred moments of prayer, the shame we experience when we sin, and the mercy that cleanses our souls in forgiveness; all these moments express what it means to be human. And there is no force in heaven or on earth that can remove or destroy these lessons of life.

May I suggest that we take a few minutes of prayer, to ponder the lessons of this day that tell us what it means to be human. These are the messages that are permanent, they are eternal; they can never be taken away from us. Let the mystery sink into the core of our hearts to reveal the truth of who we really are.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

We don’t know anything about what Jesus said in that synagogue in Capernaum.  The gospel simply says that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, and that he has a unique authority.  His authority is spoken and it defines who Jesus is.  His authority is put into action and it defines what Jesus does. 

Jesus is the One God sent into the world to people whose lives are broken by sin.  Like the man in that synagogue who was possessed by the demon there is so much brokenness and pain in this world and Jesus the Christ has come to heal what is most painful in our lives, to bring peace in all the conflict and strife we face, to make our lives whole in his merciful love.

As impressive as the divine authority of Jesus is, though, the sad truth is that the awe of it doesn’t always make much of a difference.  It healed the possessed man and made those folks in Capernaum drop their jaws when they saw and heard the demon come out at Jesus’ command.  This was not a magic trick.  It was simply words of a command put into action.  But how long did the awe last in those people from Capernaum?  Later on, Jesus condemned the people from Capernaum because they didn’t believe, they didn’t change their lives and they continued to live within their sins.  Jesus’ authority was great for a little while; great enough to heal a man, but not great enough to convince those who saw it, that they should repent.

It’s sort of like the miracle we experience here at Mass.  We are in the presence of Jesus Christ.  His being commingles with our own in this Eucharistic meal.  We hear the Good News of God’s love proclaimed in the gospel and in the other readings of the Mass.  The divine presence of Jesus is real in us.  This place today is as alive with the Body of Christ as that synagogue was nearly 2,000 years ago.  He comes to bring healing, the forgiveness of sins and peace for our broken lives.  His presence has a transformative power that calls us to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

But how many of us are willing to turn away from sin to be faithful to the Gospel which calls us to take up our crosses each day to follow in the footsteps of Jesus?  The Gospel is Good News for a world drowning in despair, shame and sin, but Christ calls us to die to sin, to die to our greed, our prejudices, to all the ways we hate other people and to all the ways we ignore the plight of the poor.

Unfortunately, we get so used to the ritual we don’t even find it worthy of much awe.  We’re impressed enough to be here and the Eucharist does make a small difference in our lives.  The healing miracle happens over time.  Knowing this, we entrust our lives to the saving power of Christ, whose healing power comes by his divine authority.  The healing may not come in the ways we expect.  It might not fill us with the jaw dropping awe the people in Capernaum experienced when Jesus expelled the demon from that man.  However, His authority constantly and patiently urges us to receive his healing love.  It calls us to follow him as faithfully as we possibly can.  This is done by giving away what we have received – his divine love.

The miracle of this Mass might not be as impressive as witnessing an exorcism in a crowded synagogue – but that’s not the point of what’s happening here.  The point of the Gospel, the point of the Eucharist is simply this:  Jesus Christ has come into the world to heal us and to love us into eternal life in God’s kingdom.  Whether or not we’re impressed, we have to ask ourselves this question.  Are we ready to follow him?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This new translation is confusing to me.  After nearly a month, I still feel like a third grader standing up in front of the class reading an essay, "What I Got For Christmas."  The sentence structures and cadences are so different from what I am used to.  But I will have to GET used to it.  Someday I will.  There are moment, though, when I just don't feel smart enough to be a good priest because I keep stumbling all over the words I am supposed to speak.
I have no intention of saying anything bad about the new translation.  At the same time, I see no great reason to defend it.  It is what it is, and there's nothing I can do to change it.  In obedience, I will always do my best with it, and I will follow the rubrics and the exact letter of the liturgical law to the very best of my abilities - even though I sound like a third grader reading an essay.

In the Third Eucharistic Prayer there is a petition for Benedict our Pope, N., our Bishop, "And the Order of Bishops."  I want to briefly reflect on this.

Bishops are ministers of the Church, Apostles sent to shepherd the people of God. The old translation of the Eucharistic Prayer 3 simply said "And all the bishops...) along with the clergy and everyone else in the Church.  The new translation really says the same thing, but that word "order" seems to highlight further the ecclesial rankings of the bishops.  I don't begrudge them that rank.  I most definitely do not begrudge them the prayers of the people of God.

Because of the sex abuse scandals, bishops need our prayers.  Every diocese in the country has had to deal with the difficulties of all the legal ramifications the sexual abuse of children and other people by clergy.  Some dioceses have gone bancrupt after paying astronomical settlement costs.  Besides that, bishops are still being chastised for hiding the scandal under church carpets and moving offending priests from parish to parish.

Now that the new translation of the Roman Missal has been implemented in the English speakng world, the Order of Bishops will need our prayers because they are going to have deal with idiots like me who don't know how to read the translation in a way that makes sense.  Maybe I'm the only one.  But, like I said, "It is what it is" and it can't be changed, so I think the bishops are going to be fine with this issue.

The Order of Bishops need our prayers because the Church is still losing a lot of people and the need to present the Gospel to the world is great.  In their 1992 Pastoral Letter, STEWARDSHIP: A DISCIPLE'S RESPONSE the Bishops of the United States wrote about the need of all Catholics, including bishops, to embrace an attitude that defines a Christian Steward as one who "Recieves God's gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible manner, shares them in justice and love with others, and returns them with increase to the Lord."

I attend the stewardship conferences that are done through the ICSC.  I listen carefully to the presentations done by bishops, clergy, and lay experts in the field. Beyond that, however, I hear so little from the bishops about the call to live as stewards in the world except for when the bishops are asking parishioners to financially support diocesan ministries. 

Again, the bishops wrote about the necessity of evangelization in their 1994 Pastoral Letter, GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES.  They first spoke about challenging the peoples in the pews to be evangelizers to the point that others who are outside of the Church will recognize the goodness of those who are inside and will see in them an invitation to enter in.  The bishops are absolutely correct in this regard. 
Evangelization is very difficult work that must be directed by the bishops in their dioceses, but we hear so little about evangelization these days.

Bishops need our prayers, not because they have a higher rank than us - that's not a bad reason to pray for them, though.  They need our prayers because there is so much work the Church must be doing under their leadership, and the work is hard, and people will complain because the hard work brings about changes that they don't like and it's always the bishops' fault because they're the ones at the top.  The Order of Bishops has as their mission the four-fold task of evangelizing, teaching, serving the needs of the poor and sanctifying the people of God.  My prayer is that we will soon move beyond crisis mode.  My prayer is also that, now, since the new translation of the Roman Missal has been implemented, and maybe even as a result of its implementation, the Church, guided by the Order of the Bishops will bring the mission of the Church to even greater importance in the years to come.