Monday, December 28, 2015

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. You remember, the biblical account of infanticide by Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. According to the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18), Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem, so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi.

In our time, "In a culture too often unfriendly to children, the victims of Bethlehem have become an emblem of all discarded children, cast away nameless on the streets, in crack houses, in pornographic film studios, and, a recent focus, in the disposal bins of abortion centers, because they got in the way of someone's pleasure, or ambition. They are our tragedy, but the adults who demean them, exploit them, abandon them are the Enemy's triumph in the war of evil versus good, death versus life."

We are all too unafflicted and unconcerned by this tragedy and crisis in our culture. My parish has over 4,000 families, yet we cannot get more than two or three at our monthly Respect Life meetings.

[Quote from "waiting in Joyful Hope" Liturgical Press, 2015]

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Feast of the Holy Family

Today's first reading at Mass for the Feast honoring the Holy Family caught my attention. I thought I would share it. It is from Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14:

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.
My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Always, always, honor and respect your parents. Before you know it they will be gone. My dad died when I was 10. I still remember him with fondness and love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Year of Mercy Begins Today

"The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Lk 6:37-38). The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn. If anyone wishes to avoid God’s judgement, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister. Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul. How much harm words do when they are motivated by feelings of jealousy and envy! To speak ill of others puts them in a bad light, undermines their reputation and leaves them prey to the whims of gossip. To refrain from judgement and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment, our presumption to know everything about him. But this is still not sufficient to express mercy. Jesus asks us also to forgive and to give. To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity."
--Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, Paragraph 17

Saturday, December 5, 2015

There is Enough for Everyone

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines. –Isaiah 25:6

There is Enough for Everyone

Reflection. Advent is a time to identify our hungers and go to the right place to have them satisfied.
I suggest that the right place is the Word of God and the Table of the Eucharist. Few of us are physically hungary but we have many spiritual hungers.

Prayer. St Joseph, we pray that our hungers may be satisfied by the Living Word and the Bread of Life.

--from Day by Day with St. Joseph, Catholic Book Publishing

Friday, December 4, 2015

Year of Mercy

Tuesday, December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception begins the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as called for by Pope Francis. Jubilees date back to Old Testament times. But in our era they occur every 25 years. The last one was in the year 2000 celebrating the millennium. The Year of Mercy is called Extraordinary because it falls outside the 25 year cycle. Jubilees are times of renewal, graces and forgiveness.

Pope Francis tells us that Jesus is the personification, the face, of the Father’s mercy. The Year of Mercy has several aspects. First, it reminds us of God the Father’s great mercy toward us. We can easily understand this by seeing the mercy, forgiveness, love and concern a parent has for their child. Mercy is readily and freely given. In acknowledging this mercy we should find joy, serenity and peace. In realizing God’s mercy toward us we become witnesses of our faith and express it with greater enthusiasm and conviction. We become living signs of the Father’s love for us.

Our response reveals the second aspect. In following Jesus, in living the Gospel life, the essence of being a Christian is having mercy toward others. Our mercy toward others is seen in our forgiveness. We are told to forgive seventy times seven times. Our mercy is also seen in our charity and in the corporal works of mercy. We sense the need to be patient, kind and compassionate to others including those who are separated from us. We become Good Samaritans.

A Jubilee year also is a time of forgiveness. Every Jubilee is a time of special reconciliation, but the Year of Mercy encourages us and the church to make special efforts of reconciliation with the Father through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with ourselves – sometimes the hardest one to forgive, and with our family and neighbor.

One prominent feature of the Year of Mercy is the opening of the Holy Door, so rich in itself with symbolism. This will be done not only at the Vatican but also in every diocese. Holy Name Cathedral as well will have a holy door opened.

The Jubilee calls for pilgrimage. Many will go to Rome, many to their diocesan cathedrals.
I hope you will take time and meditate on and embrace this opportunity for yourself and others to take advantage of this Year of Mercy.