Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Examiner

I'm pleased to announce a new blog by Tucker Cordani, a seminarian for my Diocese of Springfield, MA. Called "The Examiner" columns will focus on prayer, scripture, the sacraments, issues facing the Church in America, or other questions of faith. Please visit it at:

http://www.examiner.com/x-25264-Boston-Catholic-Examiner

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: "The Jesus You Can't Ignore"

The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ

by John MacArthur
Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 2008


In The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
John MacArthur (no relation) argues that Christ was not the meek, mild character modern Christianity has made him out to be. Yes, he dealt gently with sinners, healed the sick, and preached peace. In his dealings with the official Jewish religious establishment, however, he was much harsher. Not only that, he didn’t merely wait for them to question his teachings or his methods, he provoked them. As MacArthur points out, “from the time Luke first introduces us to the Pharisees in Luke 5:17 until his final mention of the ‘chief priests and rulers’ in Luke 24:20, every time the religious elite of Israel appear as a group in Luke’s narrative, there is conflict. . . When [Jesus] speaks to the religious leaders or about them – whether in public or in private – it is usually to condemn them as fools and hypocrites. When he knows they are watching to accuse Him of breaking their artificial Sabbath restrictions or their manmade systems of ceremonial washing, He deliberately defies their rules.”

“The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” is a very informative book. I learned much from his discussion of the various Bible texts in which Jesus confronted the Jewish establishment. However, MacArthur writes from an Evangelical perspective. His main purpose in writing this book is to encourage the Evangelical community to not back down from religious debate. He wants them to condemn false teachers and false teachings more and stand up for what is right. In his Epilogue, MacArthur does caution against “judging the secrets of men’s hearts – their motives, their private thoughts, or their hidden intentions.” However, he maintains that “people who actively teach serious error – especially doctrines that corrupt vital gospel truth – are to be confronted and opposed.” This creates some problems. As a Roman Catholic, I view MacArthur as a brother Christian, someone who I do not agree with totally, obviously, but a fellow Christian who is working for the kingdom of God. I feel that he is in error with some of his beliefs, but I trust that God will sort all that out. He feels that I am someone to be “confronted and opposed.” I believe I am right about my faith as much as he feels he is right about his. Neither one of us is going to win that battle. This is a book well worth reading, but it is important to know MacArthur’s purpose in writing before delving in.

"Will I See My Dog in Heaven?"


I haven't read Will I See My Dog In Heaven by Fr. Jack Wintz, but the title caught my eye and I read the review of it in St. Anthony Messenger. It is a common question, especially for those of us who love our pets. The big theologians say "No," that our beloved furry friends don't have free will and therefore cannot choose God and aren't granted access into the beatific vision. Well, that is one way to look at it and it is a reasoned argument. But seeing as none of us know for sure, I tend to agree with Fr. Wintz that the answer is "Yes." Anyone who looks into an animal's eyes knows that they have a soul. They were created by God and God proclaimed his creation "good." Why would he not extend that creation into the next world?

Per Barbara Beckwith's Review, "Father Jack argues that God would not suddenly stop caring for the creatures he had called "very good" and put into existence with great care in the Garden of Eden. He would want them with him in 'the restored garden' of heaven." He also tells of St. Francis "who always thought of animals as his brothers and sisters and acted accordingly, like with the wolf of Gubbio. St. Francis put animals into the Christmas scene at Greccio because he firmly believed that Jesus came for their sake as well as ours."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots

I read about this Novena to Mary, Undoer of Knots today in a magazine, and decided to look it up. I think that this is something I could use in my life at the moment. There are definitely knots that could use some untying. A novena booklet can be ordered from www.maryundoerofknots.com

Chaplet of the Seven Knots
This chaplet comprises seven groups of 4 beads each: A meditation bead, and three smaller beads on which are said Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria.

Beginning on the Pendant:
Holy Mary, who unties the seven knots, full of the presence of God during your life you accepted with great humility the Holy Will of the Father and the legacy of your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Evil never dared to entangle you.
Together with your Son, you interceded for our difficulties, and with simplicity and patience, you have taught us how to undo the knots that entangled our lives. By being our Mother, you smooth and make clear the ties that unite us to Our Lord.
Cover us with your protective mantle and permit us to experience, in your loving and maternal protection: Peace, Harmony, and Purity.

On the large beads, consider the meditation, one for each knot (below)

On the small beads, pray
Our Father
Hail Mary
Gloria

1st Knot:
In our temptation: Protect us

2nd Knot:
In our sin: Deliver us

3td Knot:
In our distress: Succor us

4th Knot:
In our sorrow: Comfort us

5th Knot:
In our fear: Encourage us

6th Knot:
In our illness: Relieve us

7th Knot
In our weakness: Strengthen us

At the conclusion:
Holy Mary, Mother of God and ours, with your maternal heart undo the knots that entangle our lives. We ask you to receive in your hands ( mention who or prayer request ) and liberate us from these entanglements. Blessed Virgin Mary, through your grace, your intercession, and your example, deliver us from evil and untie the knots that obstruct our unity with God, so that we may find Him in all things, have Him in our hearts, and serve Him always.
Amen.

Holy Mary, full of the presence of God
during your life you accepted with great
humility the Holy Will of the Father and the
legacy of your Son Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Evil never dared to entangle you with its
confusion. Since then you have interceded
for all of our difficulties. With all simplicity
and patience you have given us examples on
how to untangle the knots in our complicated
lives. By being our Mother forever, you arrange
and make clear the path that unites us to Our
Lord.
Holy Mary, Mother of God and ours, with your
maternal heart untie the knots that upset our
lives. We ask you to receive in your hands
(mention who or prayer request) and deliver
us from the chains and confusions that
have us restrained. Blessed Virgin Mary,
through your grace, your intercession and by
your example, deliver us from evil and untie
the knots that keep us from uniting with God,
so that once free of every confusion and error,
we may find Him in all things, have Him in our
hearts and serve him always in our brothers
and sisters. Mother of Good Counsel pray
for us .
Amen

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Brief History of the Rosary

October has long been the month dedicated to the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th) in 1573 to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto, a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Pope Clement XI expanded the feast to the universal Church in 1716. The dedication of the entire month to this devotion was officially established by Pope Leo XIII in 1884. While devotion to this prayer form waned a bit in the years immediately after Vatican II, interest in this long-practiced devotion is experiencing a resurgence as the faithful rediscover the beauty and spiritual benefit of this meditative practice. The name “rosary” comes from the Latin “rosarium” which means “rose garden.” A rosary is widely considered a gift of roses to Our Blessed Mother in heaven.

The rosary has had a long history and gone through many stages of development. The use of prayer beads actually precedes the time of Christ. Hindus used them to help keep track of prayers said throughout the day. In the Christian tradition, early monastic orders would pray the 150 psalms daily. At first they would use 150 pebbles in a small pouch in order to keep track. This later developed into a string with 150 knots and finally a rope with 150 wooden beads. Members of the laity who did not necessarily know the psalms by heart wanted to have a comparable version of this practice and so the tradition of praying 150 “Our Fathers” each day was born. A similar string of beads was used to keep track of this as well. In time, the “angelic salutation” of Gabriel was added before each “Our Father”: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” Later on, Elizabeth’s greeting was added to this: “Blessed are you among women.” Still later, the prayer of “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” was added and the “Hail Mary” as we know it was developed.

Meanwhile, in the year 1214, Mary appeared to St. Dominic and encouraged him to spread devotion to the rosary. She promised him that if he did so, he would be successful in converting the Albigensians and that his religious order that he founded would prosper. He spent the rest of his life encouraging others to pray the Rosary and founded a Rosary Confraternity to aid in this task. One hundred years later, Blessed Alan de la Roche picked up where Dominic’s work had ended. He divided the rosary into 10 “Hail Mary” decades preceded by the “Our Father.” In the 15th centuries, the mysteries of the rosary were assigned to each of the decades. This gave people an opportunity to reflect on Scripture while offering up this meditative prayer. In 1917, Our Lady appeared to three young shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. She declared herself to be “Our Lady of the Rosary” and repeatedly urged the children to recite the rosary daily.

In more recent times, Pope John XXIII taught that the Rosary must have a threefold purpose: “mystical contemplation, intimate reflection, and pious intention.” On October 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II added a new set of five mysteries to the rosary. Known as the “Luminous Mysteries” or “The Mysteries of Light,” they focus on Jesus’ public ministry. In his apostolic letter “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”, he wrote that “The rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at a heart a Christ-centered prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb.”

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

This is the 4th Anniversary of when I started this blog. Many thanks to those of you who have shared this journey with me. Whether you have been a faithful reader or an occasional visitor, I greatly appreciate your welcoming me into your life. I hope that this blog will continue to be a source of information and inspiration for those who happen upon this small corner of cyberspace.

Light: The Rosary Musical

Quiet Water Productions, a Catholic Ministry located in Northwestern New York State, has produced a great video that makes the Rosary come alive! “The Rosary Musical” is a forty-one minute music video that includes reciting the “Luminous” mysteries of the Rosary along with original musical presentations. The Tremblay family runs Quiet Waters Ministries from their home and a converted Catholic Church and
Social center where they have created a recording studio. Quiet Waters combined a family Rosary with depictions of the Luminous mysteries set to music. The musical numbers are professional, beautifully performed, and are set during Jesus’ ministry. This is an experience that can be enjoyed by all ages. If the
Rosary has been a stumbling point in your faith, this video helps make its simple beauty more real. If the Rosary is a strong part of your faith, this is reaffi rming! The Rosary Musical could be a great homeschool morning and/or a starting point for conversations about how Mary and the Rosary are deeply connected to
Jesus and our Catholic Faith. Visit online @ http://www.quietwatersproductions.com/

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"A Mother's Tale"

In the September - October 2009 issue of Home Education Magazine L. Hartman wrote an article I think most homeschooling moms (or stay-at-home moms) can relate to. Titled "Defining Ourselves: A Mother's Tale," she tells of feeling less than valued. I really wish there was a link to this article on their website, but sadly there isn't. So, I will leave you with this excerpt:

Homeschooling has been many things - difficult, delightful, exhausting, enlightening, boring, brilliant, and constant - but it has not always provided me with the cultural validation that I seem to crave. Intellectually, I know that my choice to stay home with these people was the right one - worthy, fulfilling, and successful. Emotionally, however, I react to a culture that doesn't really value mothering - a culture that asks "What do you do?"

Hartman goes on to describe how she was jealous of a friend of hers who was so successful - who worked and had a family and did both well (I know I have been there), but then she comes to find out that this friend is actually envious of her life.

I laughed and told her of my own envy. It seems almost petty now, a decade later, but that was all that I needed. To have her - or anyone outside my family - see the value of my work, the beauty in it, re-energized me and reminded me why I was where I was . . . Both [my friend] and I came away from that night seeing the value and the beauty in our own choices, and we were both better for it.

On Family

A great quote on family from Aileen O'Donaghue in today's Living Faith

My own mantra about families is that God gives them to us so we learn how to spend a lifetime loving people we wouldn't necessarily choose as friends.

Isn't that the truth?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's the Little Things

I just returned from my parish’s centennial celebration. The honorary chair for the evening was a former mayor of our city and lifelong member of our parish. Now in his eighties, he told a story of an event that happened seventy-five years ago! He was a little boy preparing for his first communion. It was a big deal for the pastor of the parish to come visit his classroom. Every one tried to do his very best and be on his best behavior. On one such occasion, Father asked for a volunteer to lead the “Our Father.” The future public servant eagerly raised his hand and was called up in front of the class. The pastor and the class waited expectantly for the prayer to begin. Unfortunately, stage fright overtook the little boy and he forgot all the words. His mind completely went blank.

As he said, the priest could have done any number of things. He could have made an example of him in front of the class. He could have reprimanded him for not knowing his prayers. He could have called someone else up. Did the priest do any of these things? No. What he did do was whisper the words behind him so that he could say the prayer and no one was any the wiser. This was such a small kindness, yet seventy-five years later, an old man still remembers it and willingly shared it with a large crowd of people.

Mother Teresa said that “We can not do great things. We can only do little things with great love.” She also preached the five finger gospel with one of the following words represented on each finger: “You did it to me.” She reminds us of the words in the Gospel of Matthew that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we do to Jesus. So often in life, it is the little things that matter.

Most of us do not lead lives which change the world on a large scale. Rather, we live quiet lives in which we touch a select few – our families, our friends, our neighbors and co-workers, and those we encounter simply going about the business of our daily lives. Yet, how we treat those people we do come in contact with can make a huge difference.

Do we respond to our family members with kindness and love or do we treat them with impatience and frustration? Do we help our co-workers and do our work with a cheerful spirit or do we complain? Are we good neighbors to those who live around us? Do we treat those who serve us at the grocery store or the bank or a restaurant with respect or do we grouse at them and treat them badly?

Every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. We can share a smile, give a hug, and spend time with a child. We can feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty and do so with a cheerful heart. We can give of ourselves and make someone else’s day a little bit brighter. We can remember as Jesus said, and Mother Teresa reminds us, that little things done with great love are little things done for Jesus. They may not be remembered in the big scheme of things, but God will know. Then again, it just may be that a simple act of kindness may change the life of another person and will be recalled three-quarters of a century from now! Little things do matter an awful lot.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Thanksgiving for Hospital Eucharistic Ministers

In the October 2009 issue of US Catholic, Paul Wilkes shares his experience of giving communion at a hospital. He speaks about being a minister of the Church and extending Jesus' body to all he can. This reminded me of when I was in the hospital giving birth to my own children. For my first child, I went to a Catholic hospital. I was there for four days. No one ever brought me communion. I didn't realize I was missing anything. With my second child, I was at a secular hospital and someone came to bring me Communion every day. What a great comfort that was to me. I don't remember who the people were who came to see me, but they truly brought joy to me. I'm very thankful for them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm Right Next to Scott Hahn!

No, not literally. But my book is. I went to visit the library at my alma mater yesterday and just for fun searched to find my book Letters to Mary from a Young Mother on the shelves. There it was, sitting right next to Scott Hahn's Hail, Holy Queen. I got quite a kick of that! My book is keeping very good company!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Putting in the Time to Live a Christian Life

It's a popular adage that practice makes perfect. I say that to my children all the time. The past couple days, I have encountered two reminders that this is, in fact, true. No matter what we are trying to accomplish in life, we need to put in the time to make it a reality. The first reminder came in reading Writer's Digest. Joshua Henkin wrote "Some of my worst work was produced under the influence of inspiration, and some of my best work was produced when I was feeling least inspired. Pack your lunch pail and go to work. Tie yourself to your chair. That's how you become a writer."

As a writer, I can vouch for the truth of that statement. Every Sunday night I write a column. While I keep my eyes open for a source of inspiration it is not always easy to find. Many weeks there are desperate pleas to the Holy Spirit. My columns are not always great, I know, but I do somehow find the words each week and hope that the Holy Spirit helps them do the work that they should.

The same holds true for the spiritual life. If we want to be a person of God, deeply rooted in prayer and faith, then we need to do the work. Alton Pelowski, writing in Columbia Magazine compares living the Christian life to running a marathon.

"A training schedule for a marathon mirrors the advice of the saints, in that it starts out slowly and gradually increases in its demand. If a novice runner attempts to run a long distance without training, or a young Christian attempts to pray for extended periods and perform heroic acts without ever having done so, the feat often proves too formidable, and the goal is seen as not worth the effort.

"On the other hand, if one does take the necessary time to train - and not just talk about it - then longer distances become easier with each successive week. In the same way, St. Thomas Aquinas and others have explained that when we come to possess the virtues, which rightly order our actions in thought and deed, then doing good becomes natural and seemingly effortless."

Anything we want to do well in life, we need to practice. That includes our faith.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Confirmation Question

Today I overheard a very interesting conversation regarding the Sacrament of Confirmation. Two women, both involved in religious education, were discussing whether teenagers should be made to make their confirmation. They both agreed that they should. They felt that it was part of the responsibility of the parents to make sure this happens. They promised to raise their children in the faith at Baptism. This is the culmination of that process. I admit, this is not how I ever looked at this particular sacrament. I understand their position, but I have always been staunchly of the opinion that Confirmation needs to be freely chosen by the candidate. It needs to be that person’s commitment to the faith.

In our current culture, children are brought forth for Baptism at an early age. My own children were both less than two months old. Yes, I made that commitment for them. I promised to raise them as a Catholics and to teach them the faith. My older son now receives Communion and goes to Reconciliation regularly. He was excited to have the opportunity to do so. My younger son will be receiving those sacraments this year and is also very excited. I hold out hope that when the time comes for them to make their Confirmation, they will be ready to make that personal commitment to the faith.

I truly believe that part of the issue surrounding Confirmation is the age at which it is conferred. In the United States, the Bishops have the discretion to administer the sacrament anywhere between the age of seven and seventeen (obviously, adults can also receive the sacrament). In my own Diocese, the tradition has long been to confer Confirmation during the Junior year of High School when a young person is sixteen or seventeen. The thinking is that a young person is nearly grown and capable of making an adult commitment. A person can also receive a driver’s license at that age, thereby allowing them to take personal responsibility for mass attendance. A young person should have been in Catholic School or attended religious education for a number of years by this time and understand the faith. The logic is good. The reality, however, is that the majority of young people of that age are in an all out authority rebellion. It is part of the natural process of things. Young people are attempting to spread their wings and figure out what they stand for. It is a time of questioning and searching. These same young people, however, might have been very ready and willing to make that commitment to the faith at a younger age. Such a commitment would have allowed them to receive the added help of the Holy Spirit, help that could be quite beneficial as a young person navigates the challenging teen years.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. . . .Although Confirmation is sometimes called the ‘sacrament of Christian maturity,’ we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited election and does not need ‘ratification’ to become effective. St. Thomas reminds us of this: ‘Age of body does not determine age of soul.’” (CCC 1306,1308) The Catechism goes on to state that “catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community” (CCC 1309). Children who have reached the age of reason and have been brought up in the faith can certainly understand that sense of belonging. Why is our Church denying this opportunity for grace to children who want it and are ready for it? Perhaps if the Church extended the opportunity for Confirmation to these younger children, with the understanding that it would need to be the child that wanted it, the issue of whether or not parents needed to make teenagers receive the sacrament would cease to exist.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Review: One Life

One Life: Hope, Healing and Inspiration on the Path to Recovery from Eating Disorders

by Naomi Feigenbaum
Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009

When I had the opportunity to review “One Life: Hope, Healing and Inspiration on the Path to Recovery from Eating Disorders” by Naomi Feigenbaum, I did so with both interest and fear. I am a recovered anorexic myself. It’s been nearly twenty years but I can still remember the feelings associated with that period as if it were yesterday. From this vantage point, I was able to fully appreciate the struggle Naomi went through. She has written a powerful book detailing her experience of recovery at an inpatient treatment center. She has done so in a positive way, trying to help those who may follow in her footsteps. As she states, “It is my hope that the description of factors common to all eating disorders, as well as the skills I have learned to deal with them, will help other women gain the hope, courage, and confidence to give up their own eating disorders and to fully recover.”

The title of this book “One Life” comes from a statement that one of Naomi’s therapists makes, “You only have one life; don’t waste it on an eating disorder.” Each chapter in the book corresponds to one week of her treatment. Naomi begins each chapter with a skill for recovering anorexics to work on. She lists the skill, how to use this skill, and when to use it. The skills run the gamut from Being Honest to Using Your Voice to Reaching Out to Others and Relinquishing Control. These are useful skills for everyone to have.

Naomi is to be commended for her honesty and willingness to share. A powerful passage comes towards the end of the book when she finally realizes the reason for her eating disorder, “I was afraid of life. I was afraid of confrontation with others and not getting what I needed, so it was easier not to ask. It was difficult to cope in healthy ways and far easier to resort to attention-seeking behaviors and forcing others to take care of me. Life is full of challenges. It was easier to sink into non-existence, comforted by the familiarity of the eating disorder I had known for years.”

“One Life” should be required reading for anyone touched by an eating disorder. I would particularly recommend it for parents who have a child struggling with an eating disorder. It provides a valuable window to what is going on in the mind of someone struggling with this. Thank you, Naomi, for writing this book.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

For Mary's Birthday!

Just as artists long to paint one masterpiece among their many works, so Jesus made his mother to be his greatest masterpiece. - Scott Hahn, "Hail Holy Queen"

Book Review: Fearless


Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear

by Max Lucado
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009

The title of Max Lucado’s latest book is a powerful one. “Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear.” One reads that and thinks, “Wow, that would be nice. It’s not possible, but it would be a great thing if it were only true.” After all, there is so much to fear. Every day the news media tells us of all of the threats to our very existence and way of life. Lucado acknowledges that fear. He understands that we are all very much afraid and does not make light of it or dismiss it. Rather, he encourages us to lean on the One who tells us not to fear. As Lucado tells us, “The Gospels list some 125 Christ-issued imperatives. Of these, 21 urge us to ‘not be afraid’ or ‘not fear’ or ‘have courage’ or ‘take heart’ or ‘be of good cheer.’ The second most common command, to love God and neighbor, appears on only eight occasions. If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously. The one statement he made more than any other was this: don’t be afraid.”

Lucado explores the very real fears that we do have and offers God’s word to help allay those fears. He examines the fear of not being worth anything, the fear of disappointing God, of not having enough, of not protecting one’s children, of facing challenges, of violence, of death, and fearing that maybe our faith is all for nothing, that maybe there really isn’t a God at all. Through it all, Lucado does not sugarcoat the reality of life. Perhaps that is the most refreshing quality of this book. He does not promise that all will be well simply if we believe in Jesus. He knows that is not the case. True believers still encounter all the evil that the world has to offer. What Lucado does do is encourage readers to lean on God through it all, to give Him our fear and trust that God knows what He is doing. Lucado writes, “real courage embraces the twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate triumph. Yes, life stinks. But it won’t forever. As one of my friends likes to say, ‘Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.’” He maintains that difficulties have a different purpose when viewed from an eternal perspective. “What makes no sense in this life will make perfect sense in the next.” He compares this world to life in our mother’s womb. A lot of things were going on there that no doubt made no sense to us and served no real purpose in utero. Yet, they existed for life in this world. The same will hold true for what we encounter now and life in the next. We have no need to fear. We are in good hands.





Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Parable of the Lost Teddy and Goose

There once was a little boy who loved a soft blue teddy bear and a plush green goose with all of his heart. They went with him everywhere he went, tucked safely under his arm. Like the velveteen rabbit, they showed signs of the little boy’s love. The bear especially wore his wounds as badges of honor. From his patched up eye and nose to the many surgeries necessary to keep his body put together, that bear was literally loved to pieces.

One day, the little boy lost his favorite stuffed friends. The search was frantic. The tears were many. The house and car were searched from top to bottom to no avail. The little boy curled up into a ball, inconsolable. Where could they have gone? A prayer to St. Anthony finally led to the missing toys. They were sitting on the bottom of the slide where they were left when his friend next door invited him over to play. The little boy ran out to them, scooped them in his arms and kissed them with all his might. What was lost had been found and there was indeed great rejoicing.

Chapter 15 of The Gospel of Luke shares three parables of items lost and found: the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and the lost (prodigal) son. In each case an item of great value is lost. Great sorrow and searching ensues, followed by celebration when the item is found. We all know the experience of loss. Whether it is a child losing a favorite toy, a worker searching for a misplaced paycheck, a mother searching frantically for a child who has wandered away in a department store, or a person missing a long-lost friend, we all know what it means to be sick with fright and worry over something missing. We are not the same until the missing something is returned to us. When it is, we want to celebrate! We share the news with all who are within earshot! What we lost has been found! Come share in our joy!

And so it is with God. Like the Good Shepherd, the woman searching for her lost coin, and the prodigal son’s father, God searches for us when we are lost. He knows the state of our hearts and waits eagerly for us to return when we stray away. When we do, there is great celebration! Like the little boy squeezing his stuffed friends tightly, God holds on to us with joy and welcomes us back into the fold. There is much rejoicing in heaven! May we give them cause to celebrate!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Prayer for Priests

This is the year for priests - June 19, 2009 - June 19, 2010.

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for our faithful priests,
whose spiritual fatherhood and example
of fidelity, sacrifice, and devotion is so
vital to the faith of your people.

Give our priests courageous faith in the
face of confusion and conflict, hope in
time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast
love for you and for all your people. May
they grow in holiness and may the light of
your truth shine through their lives and
their good works.

We ask your blessing upon our seminarians
and all men who are discerning a call to the
priesthood. We slso beg you to stir into flame
the call to the pristhood that you have placed
in the hearts of many men in our diocese
and throughout the Church.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our
Eternal High Priest. Amen.

St. John Vianney, Patron of Priests,
pray for us and for all our priests.