“If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this earth.” (Roberto Clemente)
08/18/1934 - 12/31/1972
Today'sThoughts: This last day of the year we are treated to the mysticism of St. John. The profoundly familiar opening of his Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word..." It is not an opening story like in Matthew, Mark and Luke, it is a mystical reflection on God, creation and Jesus' entrance into the world. It is a reminder of where we have come from and the profound love of God we journey towards.
In the first reading John in his letter speaks to a community, a church, under persecution, struggling with the reality of life in a world made up of many different realities. Things appear to be coming to an end, but John reminds the community about what they know, what they have been taught, and about the relationship with God that they have entered into, so that no matter what happens they will remain faithful.
These readings speak to our realities this last day of the year. Things are coming to an end, perhaps not in the way John envisioned them but a calendar year is coming to an end. Over the past year we have seen many struggles, many signs that point to hate, disrespect, division, loss, tragedy, the absence of God and a hopelessness. However, John reminds us, as he did his own community, about what we know because we are friends of God. John reminds us of a new beginning, of by whom we have been created and the hope that needs to remain alive in our hearts.
We can encounter hate, disrespect, terrorist attacks, tragic losses, challenges to our faith, natural disasters but we know the love of God, we know that the Light that shines in the darkness of life, we know that that world often does not know God, but we do and we will live in the Light and bring it to the world today and always.
Some things to ponder as we prepare to welcome a New Year…
“For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.” (T.S. Eliot)
“Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences.” (Thomas Merton)
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man [or woman] made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man [or woman] starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” (G.K. Chesterton)
“Faith is why I'm here today and faith is why I made it through.” (Jonathan Anthony Burkett)
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” (Thomas Merton)
“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things...as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value.” (Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ)
“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.” (Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen)
“Faith is not for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them—all the way through!” (Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM)
Whoever you are, you are human. Wherever you are, you live in the world, which is just waiting for you to notice the holiness in it.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)
According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its own angel bending over it, whispering, “Grow, grow.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)
If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” (Meister Eckhart
Have a great December 31st everyone and a Happy 2017!
Today's Thoughts: The Christmas Season, at least within the Church is rather short this year. So rather than on a Sunday, which usually happens, today we are honoring the gift of family, specifically the gift of the Holy Family. When we honor the Holy Family we honor all families.
As I prayed with the readings for today’s Feast of the Holy Family a favorite fictional character from TV came to mind. The character, Special Agent, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, from the show NCIS. During an episode a number of years ago part of the story line was Abby’s struggle with family. She found out that she was adopted. In a very touching scene she goes to Gibbs and says that she doesn't know who she is now and Gibbs' reply goes something like this, "Abby, family is more than science and DNA, family is about the people who care about you and you have a lot of people who care right here." To me it was a touching scene that reflected some of Gibbs' best wisdom but also it reflects the focus of our feast today.
We might look at the Holy Family and say how can the Holy Family be an example of family life? They were the perfect family, how can a family in today’s world even begin to measure up to them? They were special people, blessed in a unique way by God. Jesus is the Son of God. Mary came into the world without sin. An angel came to both Joseph and Mary. How can any family ever measure up to the Holy Family? Well, in a word by caring!
Gibbs was right the basic value of family is that family cares no matter what, and it doesn’t always come from DNA. Haven’t there been times when you have considered a person family even though they didn’t have your DNA? You considered them family because in some way they were present to you when you needed them to be. They cared about you, about people in your life, about your family.
All of the stories we find in the scriptures about the Holy Family are about people who care for each other and for those around them. The gift of the Holy Family is the grace of caring. Perhaps our challenge today is to remember the people who care, those we are connected to us by DNA and those we are not – perhaps all of whom we can call family!
Have a great Friday everyone and a blessed Feast of the Holy Family.
Today's Thoughts: Feast of St. Thomas Becket – We find ourselves listening to the story of Simeon in our Gospel from Luke today (Luke 2:22-35). I have always liked the story of Simeon. It is a very tender scene. However, there is something missing in our Gospel today. From my perspective it should read just a few verses more so that we also encounter the story of Anna; to me it just seems natural to include both stories. Two people who have dedicated their lives to God waiting for this moment. You can hear the joy in their voices as they realize the purpose of their lives coming to completion, both embraced by the Holy Spirit graced with the gift of hope.
They do not sugar coat their message they tell it like it is – or should I say like it will be. There will be sorrow and struggle but also life. Rather than speak about the "rise and fall" Simeon speaks of the "fall and rise." The cross is part of Jesus' story but it is not the end. Death leads to life, doubt is embraced by faith, sorrow and struggle turns to joy!
Perhaps as we listen to Simeon today we need to remember that in being a person of faith our direction in life is always "upwards." Hope means that no matter how difficult things seem to get, no matter what the struggle – God is always with us. If we can be patience like Simeon and Anna the light of God will always direct our way, death, doubt, struggle and sorrow will become life, faith and joy!
Have a great Thursday everyone and may you find peace, hope and joy as you journey through your day!
Today's Thoughts: Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. It has special meaning for me because when I took my vows as a Passionist my title was Paul Raymond of the Holy Innocents. I took the Holy Innocents as my title, because before entering the Passionists I worked as a social worker and my responsibilities were abused and neglected children. I also worked with hard to place adoptive children. So when I entered the Passionists I wanted to honor children particularly those often forgotten by or unwanted by the world. I thought what better way to honor and to remember the children I served, worked with and encountered by placing them and myself under the protection of the Holy Innocents.
There is not a day goes by that I don’t pause to remember many of the children that I encounter in my work. I often wonder what happened to them. Many of them were wonderful children who just need a chance to break the cycle of abuse and neglect. They were children with gifts who often didn’t get the chance to realize those gifts because of decisions that adults had made. I continue to commend them and children around the world to the care and protect of the Holy Innocents.
The Holy Innocents are martyrs and saints. Spirit of God who cares for those often not cared for or forgotten. Through the celebration of their feast today and through their always present spirits may we come to value the gift of children and the gift of life.
Blessings upon all expectant mothers and upon all children today! Have a great Wednesday everyone.
Today'sThoughts: Feast of St. John the Evangelist – “Beloved: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touch with our hands concerns the Word of life….” The opening lines from the First Letter of St. John which was read at today mass. They have always been comforting yet challenging words for me. They are certainly profound words today as we celebrate the feast of St. John, the apostle, evangelist and beloved friend of Jesus. As we often refer to him, the youngest of the apostle or at least the fastest as we hear in today’s Gospel (John 20: 1a and 2-8).
John by tradition lived the longest and was not martyred as the rest of the apostles were. In his old age he became a prisoner in exile, a mystic, a hermit and certainly a profound writer of the story of Jesus. Unlike his fellow evangelists John’s story is steeped in images, stories not found in the other Gospels and personal expressions of faith. John’s story of Jesus soars to the heights of the mystery of God, thus John is often imaged as an eagle.
In some ways we are all like John, living our life, running ahead when we can, believing when we get the chance to enter the mystery. We use the stories of our lives to proclaim the presence of God. We have seen things; heard things and touched things and they have all been about and from God. We are all God’s beloved.
May the spirit of St. John bring out the mystic in all of us today. May we look beyond what we hear, see and touch to the presence of God born in each of us this day!
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Daily Thoughts: Here we are on the day after Christmas, the day after the wonderful scene of Mary holding her newborn infant in a cave just outside of Bethlehem. In today’s readings, the scene has shifted to a place outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem. It is not a tranquil scene but one of mob violence as they drag a young man out of the city to his death all because he believes. Stephen becomes the first martyr of the new church.
On Wednesday we will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the baby boys martyred by Herod because he was so afraid of the infant Jesus. My point here is that usually in these early days after Christmas two of the feasts we celebrate, St. Stephen and Holy Innocents, stand in stark contrast to Christmas and they do so as a reminder that being a person of faith, that believing, comes with a challenge, comes with resistance from the world.
Christmas is not a happily ever after story. It is the beginning of a journey of faith that will take us from a cave outside of Bethlehem to a hill outside of the Jerusalem and beyond. Christmas is the beginning of a challenge to wake up every day and find Emmanuel, God with us, in our lives.
As we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen today we are reminded that the world will not always see things as we do. Sometimes the world’s reaction to what we believe will be harsh and at times even deadly. But like Stephen we are asked to believe, to trust and to know that God is with us.
In our prayers today we ask St. Stephen to help and protect all who are persecuted because of what they believe. We pray for peace among religions, peace in our world!
“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” (Thomas Merton)
Have a wonderful Monday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...