First Witness to the Resurrection

Today we celebrate the memorial of Mary Magdalene, first witness to the Lord’s resurrection and sometimes called “The Apostles to the Apostles.” She is also identified as the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with expensive oil and her hair and sometimes, the woman healed of seven demons. To be sure she is one of the most colorful characters in the Bible but most importantly she is one of  the most faithful followers of Jesus and the first evangelist.

A Model for Today

What does Mary Magdalene teach us about what it means to be a faithful disciple today? She is a model for me for two primary reasons.  She is passionate! She is passionate in her love of the Lord.  Her passion is extravagant  like using expensive oil to annoint the  feet of Jesus. Some of the Apostles thought it was ridiculous. You can imagine them rolling their eyes muttering  “silly woman!”  Jesus, however took the opportunity to see her actions as a genuine expression of love and an act that will have a deeper meaning as he moves closer to his own death and resurrection. Her passion will mature and become a source of strength as she walks with the Lord to his death and remains at the foot of the cross.

A Woman of Hope

On the morning after Jesus was buried she races to the tomb, grieving for her Lord and still wanting to be close to him. She finds the tomb empty. She is faced with something so inexplicable, St. Therese of Lisieux writes, Mary knows that the tomb is empty, yet she remains there weeping, hoping against hope.  And, indeed the Lord has not abandon her.

An Evangelist

The Lord greets her and gives her a mission to announce his resurrection! This passionate, sometimes extravagant woman, is given the most important task of Jesus ministry–to call others to believe the unbelievable. Does, she say “now way!”  “Me, are you kidding me?”  No, she leaves, the Lord, whom she thought she had lost and goes to Peter and the Apostles to share the news,  I’m sure, imagining they will once again roll their eyes, thinking her grief is making her unstable. Some accounts say that Mary Magdalene even joined the Apostles on their first preaching mission following Jesus resurrection.

A Model of Evangelization

Mary Magdalene highlights three essential components of evangelizing:

1. Are you able to share where you found the Lord, when you went in search of him?

2. In knowing the Lord, we have found hope. How is your life different because you are a person with hope?

3. What good news do you have to share with others about what it means to know and love the Lord

Evangelization is first and foremost sharing the story of our faith, of our encounter with the Lord.

Give it a try by sharing with us where you have found the Lord…

Come Away with Me and Rest Awhile

blessed-sacrament-chapel“Come away and rest awhile” was Jesus’ invitation in Sunday’s Gospel.  A perfect invitation in the throws of summer vacations. In the spirit of “staycations,” Our Lord doesn’t literally mean “come away.” One can rest in the Lord with out leaving home!

Summer sometimes offers a bit more time for relaxation and contemplation. Fewer activities, fewer commitments at the parish or with other groups to which we belong. I promised myself that I would try to give more quality time to the Lord. I want to take time to just sit and be with the Lord. This Gospel reminded me of that promise.

Resting in the Lord

The Lord offers himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament and so one of the easiest and most delightful ways to rest with the Lord is at  Adoration and holy hour. The Lord is waiting, even expecting us, to come and sit in the quiet and beauty of the chapel or church and relish in his presence.

Inviting the Lord on vacation with you

If you are lucky enough to be taking a vacation, set some time aside to sit with the Lord on the beach, in the mountains, or in a beautiful garden and let the beauty of God’s creation fill you with his presence

At home with the Lord

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In the spirit of a “staycation,” you need not go further than your favorite chair to pick up your bible and share a convesation with the Lord.  At www.valyermo..  you can find an excellent introduction to the ancient practice of Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina combines reading Scripture prayer and meditation.com

The interior cell

Catherine of Siena, the great lay woman and doctor of the Church who lived in the 13th century desired to spend all of her days in the presence of the  the Blessed Sacrament, believing that was how she could best show her love for the Lord. She created a “cell” in a small space underneath the steps of her house and there she spent her days in prayer.

At a certain point, she heard God say to her that if she wanted to love Him in the way He loved her, she would have to leave her cell and go into the world and serve his people. This alarmed Catherine, feeling the world was a distraction to living in the presence of the Lord with an undivided mind and heart. Faithfully, Catherine left her cell and discovered in the midst of the world, the cell was within her. She was never far from the Lord as she moved through her day with her mind and heart raised to God.

If you saw the video of Dr. Ostuto that I posted last week, this is what she means when she speaks about the trenches being an avenue to contemplation

This is the beauty of taking time to rest with the Lord. We live with the feeling of his closeness, that even in the midst of the business and chaos, we are with the Lord.

I hope the hazy, lazy days of summer afford you the opportunity to rest awhile with the Lord.

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Why Are You So Afraid?

In today’s Gospel there are 13 men in a boat: Jesus with his apostles. When the storm sets in, 12 are in a panic, but one is so calm that he sleeps peacefully in the back of the boat. Who is right here? Jesus is, of course. Storms come and go, but God is working his purposes out. Nothing is out of control. Even in the sad a tragic moments of our life God can and does bring forth good. He can make a way a way out of no way and write straight with crooked lines. All things work together for good to those who love and trust God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) For every door God closes he opens another.

After calming the storm Jesus asks a question that you and I must answer: “Why are you so terrified? Do you still lack faith?” You and I have to answer this question. Clearly our fear is rooted in our lack of trust, but why is it that we fail to trust? As I look back and even the most difficult moments of life I can see that God was up to something good, something better. Yet still fear and panic are only one setback away.

Consider Jesus sleeping through a storm, consider 12 other men in a panic. Who is right and who sees more truly the reality of that moment, the 1 or the 12? Why are you terrified?  What if the storm is supposed to be there. What if it’s actually doing something good? Why are you so terrified? Be still! ….and there was a great calm.

Feast of the Most Sacred Heart – Love Conquers All

Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I am afraid that sometimes the devotion to the Sacred Heart comes off as syrupy and sentimental. I hope I do not offend but I must say that some of the images of the Sacred Heart present Jesus in an almost feminized manner. His long locks of flowing hair, red lips and an almost “come hither” look are bothersome to me. Such qualities look fine on a woman, but not a man. Again, I hope this does not offend. There are surely good depictions of the Sacred Heart out there, I just think some are in bad taste. But, beyond sentiment this a serious feast. God has a heart to save us and a love that is vigorous. Jesus love for us was a strong, manly and saving love. He never hesitated to speak the truth in love. He loved us enough to warn us of sin and call us to repent. He loved us enough to summon us to sacrifice and taught us that the greatest love was to lay down your life for others. In the end it was not nails that held him to the cross but love, love for the Father and love for us. The heart of Jesus contains not just a sentimental love, but a saving and summoning love. His heart is strong and spacious, vigorous and victorious. And his love alone is powerful enough to drive back sin and restore grace. For some reason I am mindful of the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King who sad: Darkness cannot conquer darkness, only light can do that and hatred cannot conquer hatred, only love can do that.

The video you are about to see is the furthest thing from sentimental. It is from the passion of the Christ and shows the moment of Christ’s death. Shortly thereafter a soldier thrust open Christ’s side and reveals the very Heart of God. The way the movie depicts it, Christ’s love, his Holy Spirit almost explodes from his side. And this love “confuses the proud in their inmost thoughts” and “lifts up the lowly.” The Temple leaders are in confusion, the Roman guards are in flight. But Mary, John and Mary are at peace beneath the Cross of Christ. His heart has been revealed. Christ’s vigorous love makes Satan howl in frustration and defeat. Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart. May you know the strong and powerful love of Christ.

The Good Shepherd Lays Down His Life For His Sheep

 “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.

On this Good Shepherd Sunday we celebrate the fact of what our Shepherd has done for us. He has given his life for ours. Consider this, there are many things and people that will try to claim your loyalty. Maybe it is a political party, maybe it is a philosophy, maybe it is the boss at work, maybe it is popular opinions. But there is only one contender for your loyalty who ever died for you. His Name is Jesus. He alone is worthy of your most fundamental loyalty since he alone gave his life for you. Freely he died, not merely as a victim of circumstances. He laid down his life of his own accord and he took it up again. Only Jesus died for you.

Mary Did You Know?

I have often wondered what it must have been like for the Blessed Mother and also for St. Joseph. They were told remarkable things about their Son Jesus. They were told he would save his people from their sins, that he was destined for the rise and downfall of many, that his name would be great and that he was the Son of God. But for all this, they were given very little detail as to how all this would unfold. Perhaps from time to time they wondered, “Did I really hear all that from the angel?….How will all this come to pass?” In the end Joseph and Mary had to walk by faith, not knowing all the details but just trusting that God had it all worked out.

And isn’t it the same for us? I don’t know exactly what the future hold but I do know Him who holds the future. And I trust him. Isn’t that enough? It has to be because God isn’t going to show me the road map. He is just going to say, I am the Way, follow me. Don’t worry where we are going, just follow me.

Here is a video that meditates on Mary’s walk of faith: Mary Did you know?

Christianophobia?

One of the last unprotected classes in the world is believing Christians. There is much lament rightly expressed over discrimination against other religious, ethnic and various protected groups but it is usually open seasons on Christians with a special hatred reserved for the Catholic Church. It is “alright”  to use ugly stereotypes and hateful imagery regarding Christians. Unsympathetic simplifications of our doctrine are common  as are ugly labels such as “reactionary, hateful, homophobic, intolerant,  backward and rigid.” The President recently insisted that the name of Jesus be covered over at Georgetown while he spoke there no one cried foul (even at Georgetown!  🙁  ). No one would ever dare suggest that holy symbols be covered over at a mosque or synagogue. But it is open season on Christians. Perhaps it is because we seldom speak out against things such as this.

A rather interesting development along these lines took place at the World Conference on Racism.  A Russian Orthodox Delegate to the conference actually suggested that there may be such a thing as hatred against Christians. He chided the other delegates for saying nothing about what he termed “Christianophobia”  while at the same time denouncing many other forms of hatred. It seems a long overdue observation and thanks are due to this courageous delegate. More about this story at Gloria TV: