Today’s Thoughts: “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.” (Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)
This simple expression of life touches our readings today (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a and Luke 7: 11-17). In the Gospel Jesus reminds all gathered at the city gate that they are spiritual beings in the presence of God as he brings the widow’s son back to life. The value of our life rests in our relationship with God and when we trust that relationship wonderful things can happen.
Yes, the world around us is human, imperfect but we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are spiritual beings living this human experience. God is always present. If we invest in God’s presence, if we stay connected to God’s presence the richness of our relationship with God can be experienced. God is always waiting. God is always ready to help.
Our first reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians talks about the Church as one body with many parts. Once again if we listen to Paul’s words we learn that we are spiritual people, intimately in relationship with God. God needs to be first. Care and concern for others is the primary task. Compassion is the attribute that enable all to experience the presence of God. We are asked by Paul to strive for the spiritual gifts no matter where we find ourselves in the Body of Christ.
Let us pray, during this troubling time in our Church for all Church leaders that they will always serve with compassion and love. Let us pray for ourselves that we will always embrace the spirit of God as we journey through this human experience.
Have a great Tuesday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Our faith it often tested, we might even say it is tested every day. We probably find it hard to have the faith of the centurion in today’s gospel He has a strong faith and is willing to turn everything over to God. His words to Jesus echo the words we say in the midst of every Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”
Just before we received communion like the centurion we ask God to accept us as we are, and we have faith that God will. We trust that God loves us even as we fumble through life, as we make mistakes. I admire the faith of the centurion and all those early, early Christians, they believed so strongly, they seemed to have such unwavering faith in Jesus.
Our challenge is be like the centurion. It is to be willing to turn everything over to God. However, this kind of trust, this leap of faith can be hard, because it is hard to give up control. I think sometimes we are willing to be faithful but with some exceptions. We stand on the edge, but we just cannot take that leap of faith, our fears are holding us back.
We might say that faith is like a muscle, one that grows stronger as we exercise and stretch it, as we use it, as we live it. At times taking a leap of faith, turning everything over to God, letting go and letting God are ways that we stretch, strengthen and develop our faith.
St. Ignatius Loyola has a very famous prayer call, the Suscipe, that seems to express the faith we find in the centurion of today’s Gospel and hopefully our own faith…
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Have a great Monday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: These words from Jesus always seem so difficult and at times next to impossible to live. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny him [or her] self, take up his [or her] cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34)
Yet, we have all met people who are wonderfully generous with their time, their money, their gifts and talents, while at the same time not calling any attention to themselves. People who seem willing to die to self for the greater good. And I have to say I am profoundly envious of these people and the freedom they seem to possess because I know that in my own life I fall tremendously short of living life this way. We also know many people whose slogan seems to be “Life is about me!”
Living and giving without wanting or needing gratitude and praise is intensely challenging. It takes a certain kind of person. One who has a loving heart and who is willing to let go of the need for others to notice what is getting done.
Throughout Jesus’ life there were a lot of little deaths before his ultimate death of the cross. Over and over Jesus had to embrace dying to carry on his life and ministry. He died to fame, fortune, power, acceptance, approval, popularity and at times even love. He died to all the things at we human beings seem to long for and think we cannot live without. Jesus lived out of a wisdom, knowledge and trust in himself and God’s unconditional love and it made all the difference.
In the Gospel of John, we hear John the Baptist say, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Perhaps another way of say what Jesus says today. The people whom I described above come to know in themselves that life is about God not them. They are willing to decrease so that God can increase and become present to the world. If the world could only learn this kind of trust, of letting go what a wonderful place this would be.
My friends in the Passion of Jesus let us try and let go and let God today. Let us decrease so that Jesus can increase in our lives. Let us deny ourselves, take up the crosses of life and follow Jesus today and always.
Have a great Sunday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: “We ask Mary that, as the first disciple, she teach us to remain watching, that she accompany us in patience, strengthen us in hope; we ask that she lead us towards the meeting with her Risen Son; that she free us from fear, so that we can hear the announcement of the angel... to announce it to others who need it so much.” (Pope Francis)
These words from Pope Francis help us to reflect on Mary’s place in our life especially as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows today. Yes, Mary experienced much in her life. She carried the awesome responsibility of being the Mother of Jesus. She encountered moments of great sorrow throughout her life, however Mary in many ways is our go to person. She was human, a person just like us who had great strength, great patience and great hope amid a life filled with sorrow, disappointment and pain.
Mary, particularly as Our Lady of Sorrows, is an example, a grace and a blessing to us as we journey through our own struggles in life. Perhaps something else that Pope Francis said best reflects the gift of Mary in our life - “To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change. To change! And why must I change? So that I can adapt to the situations in which I must proclaim the Gospel. To stay close to God, we need to know how to set out; we must not be afraid to set out.” (Pope Francis)
Mary certainly was faithful. Mary certainly was willing to change, to adapt to the situations of her life. She stayed close to God and was not afraid to set out and proclaim the Gospel of her Son!
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: Today is a very special feast in the Church and the Passionist Community. It is the Feast of the Triumph or the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. So I offer you two simple prayers to guide you through this day and life...
The first comes from our Passionist tradition it is a simple prayer we utter each day - "May the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be always in our hearts!"
The second prayer was written by the great Jesuit theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. - "The Cross of My Lord, Be my Standard, Be my Comfort, Be the Answer to all dark questions, The Light of all nights, The Sign that You have chosen us, The mysterious and sure Sign that we are Yours for eternity. Amen."
These two simple prayers reflect the meaning of the Cross that we as Church and as the Passionist Community celebrate this day.
May the Passion and the Cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ be not a sign of violence, oppression, war and failure. May The Passion and Cross of Christ be a sign of God's great and unconditional love for us. May the Passion and Cross of Jesus be a walking stick that we can lean on to rest; be a protector in times of struggle and danger; and always be a reminder of just how much God love's us, no matter how imperfect we are as we journey through life!
Have a blessed Friday everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: Today’s scripture readings present some challenging standards by which we are called to live. At first hearing, they are not very reassuring. In fact, we might say they are downright discouraging.
In our first reading, St. Paul, talking about the dietary laws of his time, says to eat whatever you want… as long as it doesn’t cause your neighbor to stumble. In other words, we need to look at the actions of our life and determine what example they give. Life is not black and white, even though we would like it to be. Even choosing what we eat can be a grey area.
The psalmist proclaims, "O Lord, you have probed me and you know me." So, there are no secrets from God. There is nowhere to hide.
Finally, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says; “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” These challenges along with the rest of what Jesus asks in the Gospel are seemingly impossible commands. Tall orders for the living of a faith life.
Each of our Scripture readings today in their own way are asking us to do everything for the glory of God. If we can keep this in front of us, then our actions and our words will ring true. We are always challenged to reflect on our motives for doing things especially when our feelings are hurt for being ignored.
A question always in front of us is, are we about serving God as we journey through life? Are our words and actions about the glory of God? If we can say yes to these questions, then we know we are on the right path. We will never do it perfectly because at times we step off the path because we are hurt temporarily by the insult or carelessness of the world around us. However, if God is our focus then we can refocus on the true purpose of our life, reminding ourselves that God knows our names and what we are doing always. A life of faith is not about “Me,” it is about serving God with gratitude and love!
Have a great Thursday everyone!
Today’s Thoughts: In Luke’s Gospel today, we experience several of the Beatitudes and we are encouraged to feel the “blessings” that come with our poverty and reliance on God. If we feel content and complete with all our earthly wealth and success, how can we improve our dependence and reliance on God? How does one strengthen and enrich a relationship if there is no need for the other person in our life? If one is so independent, as to not need another person’s help, council, ideas, or support, how does a non-relationship with another enrich us?
Our Gospel is suggesting that, if we “hunger” or “weep,” if we need others and need God, then we will experience a fulfilling life, we will find direction and come to appreciate the presence of others and God in our life. When we experience poverty, sorrow, hunger or insults, and find that we can overcome these struggles in life, through our dependence on others and God, we then will find true joy, appreciation and satisfaction in life.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!
Today's Thoughts: “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” (Mother Teresa)
Jesus spends the night in prayer. Jesus places himself in the Father’s hands, at the Father’s disposition and listens to the Father’s voice in the depth of his own heart and look at what happens. Twelve close friends are gathered and people from everywhere are healed!
In the Gospel today (Luke 6:12-19) Jesus shows us the power of prayer. It is not just a prayer of asking for help, though I am sure Jesus asked the Father for help from time to time. For Jesus and for us prayer is the placing of oneself in the hands of God. Yes, prayer is a conversation with God but prayer is often more listening then speaking.
Jesus prayed often and not only when he faced major events in life. Jesus throughout the Gospel takes time for prayer. He takes time to hear the Father’s voice in his heart so that graced things could happen on his journey through life.
So today let’s not forget that prayer needs to be a part of our lives. Let’s take at least a little time to put ourselves in God’s loving hands and hear God’s voice in our hearts. Let’s put ourselves at the disposal of God. The outcome for us just might be more good friends and healing for life’s struggles! Remember nothing is impossible with God.
“Prayer is not asking for what you think you want but asking to be changed in ways you can't imagine.” (Kathleen Norris)
Tuesday prayers and blessings to all!
Remembering the 17th Anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001
“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer says above there is nothing that can be said or done that replaces the loss of someone dear to us. But hopefully Bonhoeffer’s words can help to give comfort to all who lost loved ones fourteen years ago in Lower Manhattan, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania.
Perhaps, Bonhoeffer’s words can help all of us deal with what we as a city, a country and a world lost thirteen years ago. May his words give us pause to be grateful for the silent joy that all who gave their lives continue to give us. May those who lost their lives continue to be a hidden treasure for all of us, a treasure that we can always count on.
“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
To the people who gave their lives, to the families who gave their loved ones, to those who continue to give their lives because of the after effects of this day even these many years later, to all of you I say thank you!
Prayers and blessings this day!
Today’s Thoughts: “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” (Luke 6:9) This is perhaps an important question for us to consider today as a nation and as a world. What are we about? Doing good, saving life or doing evil and destroying life? Some might say it is all in how you look at it.
Yet in the Gospel today that is exactly what Jesus is getting at. How do you look at life? Do you look at life with an open mind or a closed mind? Do you look at life through the lens of possibilities or through the lens of only one possibility? The scribes and Pharisees had only one lens through which they looked at life, the law. They could see no other possibilities.
I have always admired people who walk into a situation open to seeing whatever the possibilities are. They might have their opinions, but they are also open to what others say and do. They have their own lenses, yet they can see other perspectives. Would that we all could see and live life this way!
The scribes and Pharisees only looked through one lens. Jesus was open to all possibilities especially when the possibilities meant life. We pray today that we too with the grace of God will always be open to the possibilities that produce life.
Have a great 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...