St Francis Q&A

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Abortion neutral" health care, please

The following is a news release from the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) dated July 30, 2009 regarding the health care reform bill that is now before Congress. Please pray and fast that the introduced bill - which is pro-abortion as Cardinal Rigali makes clear in his letter - does not pass.

Cardinal Rigali Urges House Committee to Support Pro-Life Amendments to Health Care Reform Bill

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote on July 29 to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee urging them to amend “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act” (H.R. 3200) to retain longstanding government policies on abortion and conscience rights.

Cardinal Rigali reiterated criteria for “genuine health care reform” set forth by Bishop William Murphy, Chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Policy, in his letter to Congress on July 17. He described health care as “a basic right belonging to all human beings, from conception to natural death” and said that “the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to ensure that needed health reform is not undermined by abandoning longstanding and widely supported policies against abortion funding and mandates and in favor of conscience protection.”

The Cardinal enumerated several problems with the bill as introduced: It would be used to mandate abortion coverage in private health plans, expand abortion funding, override state laws that limit or regulate abortion, and endanger existing laws protecting the conscience rights of health care providers.

“Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an ‘abortion rights’ agenda or reversing longstanding current policies against federal abortion mandates and funding,” he wrote. “In this sense we urge you to make this legislation ‘abortion neutral’ by preserving longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights.”

“Several federal laws have long protected the conscience rights of health care providers,” Cardinal Rigali added. “President Obama recently stated that he accepts these current laws and will do nothing to weaken them. Congress should make the same pledge, by ensuring that this legislation will maintain protection for conscience rights.”

The Cardinal closed by urging the House Energy and Commerce Committee to support amendments by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA) to address these problems in H.R. 3200. The full text of his letter is available at:
Keywords: Cardinal Rigali, USCCB, U.S. Bishops, pro-life, health care, health care reform, abortion, abortion funding, abortion neutral, conscience rights, conscience protection
For more information on the USCCB position on Health Care Reform, visit and

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I am away until the end of July.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Very rich in grace and virtues"

I wrote a while back about one of the best Marian devotions that I have found, “Total Consecration” by St. Louis de Montfort. Pope John Paul II once called this devotion “ a turning point in my life”. I would echo that sentiment! “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” is a 33 day prayer that is renewed each year. I began my consecration in 1999 and am now renewing it for the 10th year. God has given me so many amazing graces in being able to answer His Call to be a faithful priest during these years; I am convinced that the consecration has played a huge role in obtaining these graces. Just as there are so many graces when Jesus comes to us through Mary (e.g., Incarnation), so there are many graces when we go to Jesus through Mary (e.g., Consecration).

The first days of the consecration begin with a reading, either from the Gospel or from “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis (great book!). Here is the reading from the sixth day which really struck me as powerful and profound. Also, it dovetails my homily from the Sunday before last.

Sixth Day

Imitation: Book 1, Chapter 18

On the example of the Holy Fathers

Look upon the lively examples of the holy Fathers in whom shone real perfection and the religious life, and you will see how little it is, and almost nothing that we do. Alas, what is our life when we compare it with theirs? Saints and friends of Christ, they served our Lord in hunger and in thirst, in cold, in nakedness, in labor and in weariness, in watching, in fasting, prayers and holy meditations, and in frequent persecutions and reproaches. Oh, how many grievous tribulations did the Apostles suffer and the Martyrs and Confessors and Virgins, and all the rest who resolved to follow the steps of Christ! For they hated their lives in this world, that they might keep them in life everlasting. Oh, what a strict and self-renouncing life the holy Fathers of the desert led! What long and grievous temptations did they bear! How often were they harassed by the enemy, what frequent and fervent prayers did they offer up to God, what rigorous abstinence did they practice!

What a valiant contest waged they to subdue their imperfections! What purity and straight forwardness of purpose kept them towards God! By day they labored, and much of the night they spent in prayer; though while they labored, they were far from leaving off mental prayer. They spent all their time profitably. Every hour seemed short to spend with God; and even their necessary bodily refreshment was forgotten in the great sweetness of contemplation. They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, and kindred; they hardly took what was necessary for life. It grieved them to serve the body even in its necessity. Accordingly, they were poor in earthly things, but very rich in grace and virtues.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

16th Sunday - homily

When I was growing up, my family and I would go down to the beach every August. We were able to use a house of a friend of my Dad’s in Bethany Beach for two weeks. It was the highlight of every summer! When school finished in June, we couldn’t wait to get to the beach. During the days, we went to the beach and enjoyed time in the ocean or went to the pool. At night, we played board games – lots of board games! – or went to the boardwalk or something fun. It was such a great time! It was good, quiet, family time. Of course, there were a few disagreements here and there, maybe some arguments; I didn’t have anything to do with them…ok, so I did. Overall, though, I look back on those vacations with such fond memories because they were some of our best moments as a family.

In today’s Gospel, our Lord invites the disciples to get away and rest: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”. For us, this can be an invitation to make a retreat which is something that we should all do. But, it can also apply to vacations. Pope Benedict, who we should all be praying for now as he recovers from surgery for his broken wrist, gave us some very good vacation advice recently: “We must set aside time in life for God, to open our life to God with a thought, a meditation, a small prayer, and not to forget Sunday is the day of the Lord”. I would like to offer a few suggestions on how we can make time for God on our to make Christ involved in our vacations.

First, make a quiet, family vacation. I know it’s hard, but it is possible. It is very fruitful to spend time as a family and try to limit the use of cell phones, iPods, internet, TV, etc. It is so good to just have fun together, talk, and pray together as a family. We really can have an experience of God through our family; kids especially experience God the Father through their fathers and mothers. Second, go to Mass on Sunday on vacation as a family. Some of you are here today on vacation, so you get this point. We can’t take a vacation from God; we can’t take a vacation from Sunday Mass. Being on vacation is not an excuse to miss Sunday Mass. What a strong statement it makes to children when their parents plan ahead to make sure that they will be able to get to Mass, and that they all go, no matter where they are. It makes the statement that the Sunday obligation is most important and non-negotiable.

Also, if you have the chance, hit a daily Mass. What an excellent experience for anyone, but especially on vacation. Most people who have attended Mass during the week enjoy it more than Sunday Mass – it’s shorter, there are no collections, and there’s less singing! Seriously, it is more intimate and less distracting. It is a powerful experience with the Eucharist which is even more impactful on vacation, especially for kids. Also, if you go to a different city or country and go to Mass, then you experience the universality of the Church – the Mass is the same wherever you go. Again, this is a powerful experience for all of us, especially young people. What a great statement it makes to kids about the importance of the Eucharist!

Another suggestion is to pray together. Pray at the start of the trip for a safe trip and pray at different times during the trip. Praying the rosary is such a great family prayer! If you can’t pray a whole rosary, just pray a few decades together. It is highly recommended for families to pray the rosary together – the family that prays together, stays together. Also, you can read Scripture together, talk about the saints, or talk about our faith. It is so important to make time for God on vacations as a family and as individuals.

We all seek rest and peace when we go away on vacation. We need to make Christ a part of our vacations for us to find that peace. The second reading tells us that Christ is our peace. Only in Christ do we find peace and rest on vacation.

Finally, I will be going on vacation this week…I’m getting excited with all this talk about vacation and will heed my own advice. I will be going to the beach with a family who are dear friends. The highlight will be what we do every day in the house for about 15 minutes: Mass. If you’ve ever had the experience of vacationing with a priest and participating in a Mass that he celebrates in the beach house or hotel room or lodge, then you know it is the best! It is the best part of the vacation because it brings the Eucharist into your vacation. Jesus will be in our beach house! It will be the best moment of rest and peace for us this week. May all of us include Christ on our vacations. May we all find rest in Him who is our peace.

Friday, July 17, 2009

"A Pastor With Guts"

A friend sent me the following story about a courageous and inspiring prayer that was given by a minister in Kansas. Some powerful stuff!

A Pastor With Guts

Thought you might enjoy this interesting
prayer given in Kansas at
the opening session of their Senate. It seems
prayer still upsets some
people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open
the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is

what they heard:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask
your forgiveness and to seek your direction and
guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those
who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we
have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed
our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it
the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it

We have killed our unborn and called it

We have shot abortionists and called it

We have neglected to discipline our
children and called it building self esteem..

We have abused power and called it

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions
and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and
pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values
of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts
today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

The response was immediate. A number of
legislators walked out during the prayer in
protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian
Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than
5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls
responding negatively. The church is now receiving
international requests for copies of this prayer
from India , Africa and Korea

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on
his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,'and
received a larger response to this program than any
other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep
over our nation and wholeheartedly become our
desire so that we again can be called 'one nation
under God.'

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Holy Spirit:Third Person of the Trinity

1) Someone recently sent me the link to the video that the Washington Times produced during the DC ‘Hood (basketball team of priests and seminarians of Washington) game at Verizon Center ’08. It is very well done! Many thanks to the Times, especially the videographer, Barbara Salisbury. Please check out the video by clicking on today's title.

2) Next DC ‘Hood game: Sun., Aug. 16, 4 pm vs. Sacred Heart, LaPlata, at Archbishop Neale school (104 Port Tobacco Road, La Plata, MD 20646). Go ‘Hood!!

3) Anon posted the following:
“I have a hard time understanding the Holy Spirit as the third “person” of the Trinity. I understand Jesus as fully God and fully man, but I’m fuzzy on my understanding of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible the Spirit comes as fire, wind, clouds, dove, etc. It conjures up the image if the Spirit being something akin to a force (reminds me of Star Wars). St. Paul calls us to be in fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit, but I don’t quite know how to understand that happens.”

Thanks for your comment, Anon. The following article from addresses your points in an excellent way:

Third Person of the Trinity
By James Akin

Jehovah's Witnesses deny that Christ is God. When they go door-knocking they're usually well-coached on how to discuss their views on this matter. That's why, when they knock on my door, I talk about something they're less prepared to discuss-the Personhood of the Holy Spirit.

You see, they also deny that the Holy Spirit is God. In fact, they deny that he is even a Person, claiming instead that he is "God's active force by which he accomplishes his purpose and executes his will" (Insight on the Scriptures, 2:1019). Official WatchTower publications even compare the Holy Spirit to impersonal forces such as radio waves (ibid., 2:1020).

But for someone who makes an unbiased reading of the Scriptures, references to the Holy Spirit's Personhood leap off the page. For example, Paul speaks of it being possible to grieve the Holy Spirit: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30). Of course, it is not possible to offend or displease impersonal forces.

Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit as knowing the thoughts of God-indicating that the Spirit has an intellect: "For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:11).

He also speaks of the Holy Spirit exercising the faculty of will, as in the distribution of spiritual gifts: "All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (1 Cor. 12:11).

Scripture also teaches that the Holy Spirit serves as a Paraclete (Greek parakletos) on our behalf. This term, often translated as "Comforter," "Counselor," "Advocate," or "Helper," refers to a person who is called or summoned to aid one, especially in legal settings, where he serves as an advisor, or advocate for the accused.

Jesus repeatedly speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Paraclete whom he will send to help us: "The Advocate [parakletos], the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name-he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (John 14:26; cf. 15:26, 16:7-8).

A facet of the Greek text not obvious in translation is that in the three verses just mentioned (and others), Jesus applies the masculine pronoun ekeinos to the Holy Spirit. The personal character of a paraclete is further illustrated by the fact that Jesus also serves as our Paraclete before the Father: "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an Advocate [parakletos] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1)

There are also many passages in Scripture that refer to the Holy Spirit communicating with us-again, something an impersonal force cannot do. For example, when testifying before the Sanhedrin, the apostles refer to the Holy Spirit as their co-witness: "And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him" (Acts 5:32). Later in Acts, Paul states that the Holy Spirit testifies: "The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me" (Acts 20:23).

This testimony sometimes came from the mouths of New Testament prophets who attributed the words directly to the Holy Spirit: "And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, 'Thus says the Holy Spirit, "So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles"'" (Acts 21:11; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). Note the formula "Thus says the Holy Spirit" is modeled on the frequent prophetic formula "Thus says the Lord"-indicating not only the Spirit's Personhood but also directly equating him with Yahweh.

Sometimes even the biblical books' narrative directly quotes the Holy Spirit. In Revelation we read, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.' 'Blessed indeed,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'" (Rev. 14:13).

If it were objected that this quotation is found in a book of prophecy, which often uses figurative language, the topper is Acts 13:2:"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'"

The doctrinal force of this passage is unavoidable. Here we have a direct quotation of the Holy Spirit-not in a prophetic book, not in the mouth of a prophet, not in a parable, not told by a character in a historical book. We have the Holy Spirit directly quoted by the narrative of a historical book-just like the other real persons who speak in the book. And the same thing happens in Acts 8:29 and 10:19.

Even if one tried to explain away all of Scripture's other personal references to the Holy Spirit as somehow being symbols or figures of speech, the direct quotation of an individual in the narrative of a historical book unmistakably shows that the individual in question is a real, literal person, not just a force or symbol.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

15th Sunday - homily

Years ago as a seminarian, I was privileged to spend a few weeks in Calcutta, India with the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s sisters. It was an incredible experience being able to be with the sisters and serve the poorest of the poor. One image that stands out from that trip is the day that two of the sisters were sent off to different countries to do mission work. They were only allowed to take one box of things. One, little box! I moved here 10 days ago and had a whole lot more than one box (Msgr. Filardi said that I had more stuff than he did…but, he came back for another load in the afternoon, so he might have had more!). These sisters definitely live the simple, detached life that our Lord calls us to live in today’s Gospel.

Living simply brings freedom. I remember when I sold my house to go back to the seminary (one of the times!) and sold my stuff to charity. It was the most freeing experience I’ve ever had. When we are detached from the things of the world, we are free to give ourselves to Christ and others. When we are attached to people or things, it is much more difficult. This is what many people are experiencing with the recent deaths of celebrities. If we are attached to someone or thing, it is hard to let go of them. I’ve heard some commentaries say that people “worshiped” this star or “idolized” that star. The Bible – pretty much in the Ten Commandments – tells us to worship God alone and to be attached to Christ alone. We are to love people and enjoy things, but not to be attached to them. When we are attached to Christ alone, then we are free to give ourselves to Him. This is what the Missionaries of Charity experienced and this is what the Apostles experienced. Their only attachment was Christ, so they were free to go out and proclaim him to others.

Simplicity brings freedom and happiness. We don’t know too many people who are really happy because they have a lot of stuff or have a house full of clutter. In fact, it’s usually the opposite: people are much happier when they have gotten rid of stuff or removed it from their home. Those who try to live simply are happy people. The sisters didn’t seem to be sad that they could only take one little box of things with them. In fact, they were smiling from ear to ear; they looked so happy. The saints – those who live Gospel simplicity – are the happiest people we know.

The rewards of simplicity are freedom, happiness, and also power. The Apostles were called by Christ to radical simplicity – no food, no second tunic, etc. – and were given radical power. They drove out evil spirits, performed healings, and cured people. They were clean, open vessels through which God’s grace poured. Because they were detached and free by living simplicity, the Apostles as well as the Missionaries of Charity had great power in bringing Christ to others.

Finally, when we live simply and are free of worldly attachments, we are able to enjoy and participate in the many “riches of (God’s) grace”, as St. Paul writes in today’s second reading. God offers so many riches to us; chief among them is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the greatest treasure on Earth. When we are attached to Christ alone, we approach the Eucharist with a… “whew, what a gift”. We appreciate the incredible gift of God in the flesh! As we gaze upon our Lord and receive Him in Holy Communion, let us realize how rich we are to receive such a treasure. For when we receive the Eucharist, we are the richest people on Earth.

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Puns of fun"

Keeping things light from time to time is strongly encouraged on our sites! Here is a list of puns that a friend sent me. Hope you enjoy these “puns of fun”:

1. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: "Keep off the Grass."

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

5. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

8. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

9. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, "You stay here; I'll go on a head."

11. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

12. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

13. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his Grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."

14. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

15. The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
16. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

17. A backward poet writes inverse.

18. In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Hello, GW students!"

Hello, GW students! I’m Fr. Greg, the new chaplain of the Newman Center. I am psyched to be here to serve you for the next several years, God willing. I served here before as a seminarian from 2004-2005, so it’s great to be back. During my year here, I started a blog site, “GW Catholic Q&A”. I have continued to blog since then, setting up sites in three parishes. My hope is to post here regularly and copy it to the other sites.

This is a forum for you to ask any (appropriate) questions about our Catholic faith or to make comments and insights to which others can respond. Thanks be to God, there has been much activity on our sites the past 4+ years with almost 150,000 hits and tons of questions and comments. I hope you can join in the fun by making a post. Although I would prefer you to leave a comment with your first name on it, you can post anonymously. If you’d rather write me your question or comment, please email me at ; it will be kept confidential.

Here are two posts from bloggers on one of the sites (St. Andrew’s Q&A). The first is a comment made in response to my post, “Wear Your Sunday Best” (7/30/07). You can check out this and other posts by going into the “Archives” section on the home page of the site. Hope to hear from you; remember,”be not afraid” to post… your question or comment could really help someone else!

1)“Jacqueline” wrote:

“I'm a 19 year old college student and I am heavily into wearing my sunday best for church. The way I see it, God blessed you with nice clothes, so shouldn't you wear them to one of His spectacular events that is the Mass? (I'm a new Catholic so I'm super excited about it all) I also see it this way, church, whether it's a Catholic Mass or a Baptist service, it is a special occasion. God and Jesus and the angels are there, especially (litterally) in the Mass. Yes you are accepted as you are, but think of it this way: your sister is getting married. She loves you no matter what. But would you really wear shorts or jeans and spagetti straps or a t-shirt to that occasion? Out of the question, besides your sister would end you with her glare alone. God wouldn't do that, but doesn't he deserve the respect of your best because He gives you his best? Always? Anyway I think this was a great entry. Sunday best is the only way to go, unless all you have is your cleanest t-shirt and your nicest pair of jeans, the effort is what counts. Wow, that was a lot of words. Thanks for reading this. Have a great day and peace be with you! :0)”

2) “Anonymous” asked:

“Was there salvation before Christ? What happened to all the holy forefathers of our faith who sinned but also did God's will?”

Thanks for the question, Anon. The Church teaches that “Baptism is necessary for salvation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1257). This is based on what Christ solemnly proclaimed in Jn 3:5, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit”. We understand our Lord to be referring to Baptism because it is in Baptism that one is “born of water and Spirit”. But, the Church teaches that there are three types of Baptism: water, blood, and desire. Baptism by water is most common. Those who are martyred for their faith in Christ receive baptism by blood. Baptism by desire is the one to which your questions refers. How can they be saved if they lived and died before Christ (i.e., without having the opportunity to be born of water and the Spirit)?

They can be saved if they, as you wrote, “did God’s Will”. The Church teaches that a person who “is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved” (CCC, #1260). This baptism by desire can apply to people who lived before Christ as well anyone who has ever lived in ignorance of Jesus Christ and His Call to be baptized by water. Sadly, there are still people today who fall into that category even though the Church continues her great, world-wide mission of evangelization. God will not fault people for what they don’t know; but, He will judge us on how well we lived with what we know. He gave every one of us minds and hearts to know and choose what is good. May all of us choose what is good and do His Will in our lives.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

14th Sunday - homily

As we celebrate our nation’s independence and reflect on today’s readings, I have a question for you: who is the greatest prophet in the history of the United States? I know this will probably lead to many debates among you this weekend, but please, just be civil..! We have had many prophetic figures in our nation’s history – religious leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and saints like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who was the first native-born American to be canonized a saint. In a moment, I would like to give a quote from each one of these people to reveal their prophetic nature.

The readings today focus on prophets and how they are treated by their own people. We are all called to be prophets. What is a prophet? One way to describe a prophet is that a prophet speaks the truth. He doesn’t just speak his own truth or opinion – subjective truth – but objective truth. He speaks the truth…he tells it like it is. He says what’s real, and not just what’s real to him. Can someone who speaks only what’s subjectively true be considered a prophet? Well, let’s look at some examples. If someone said constantly that the Redskins were very well run by Daniel Snyder, then, as a lifelong Redskins fan, I would say that person is not a prophet! Or, if someone always taught that 2+2 =3 or 5 or whatever you want it to be, then that person would not be a prophet.

A prophet constantly speaks the truth. A prophet teaches that 2+2=4, that the baby in the womb is a person with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that marriage is between a man and a woman, that the Eucharist is really the Body and Blood of Christ, and so forth. He teaches the truth – objective truth – even if it’s hard or unpopular to do so. And, from the beginning, the prophets have been “rebelled against”, as the first reading says. People don’t always want to hear the truth.

Jesus was rebelled against as a prophet. It’s so sad that in his own town, people rejected him and he “was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (well, “apart from curing the sick”!). Our Lord makes it clear that we are a prophet in every town or family but our own. People often don’t want to hear the truth from us, especially those in our families! The reason is that they know us – as Jesus’ townspeople knew him – as the little guys or girls growing up. They see us as their siblings or children and not as prophets, just like they didn’t see Jesus as a prophet.

Our Lord was rebelled against in specific ways and in general ways as a prophet. Specifically, he was rejected when he taught about the Eucharist in John 6. Today’s Gospel reminds me so much of that scene: people are basically saying there, ‘aren’t you the son of a carpenter, and you want to give us your flesh to eat?’ Even though they had been following him every day and thinking he was the one to follow, they rejected him when he taught the truth about the Eucharist. They rebelled against him…they left him. They did this is general when they put him on a cross. Every time we look at a Crucifix, we see that Jesus was rejected in general as a prophet. Speaking the truth is what got him killed.

Finally, the freedom that we celebrate is based in truth. Our founders even called them “self-evident truths”. We have had many prophets speak the truth to us in our history. Here are the quotes from some of them that give us a taste of their prophetic natures. Martin Luther King: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it”. Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”. George Washington: “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected”. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: (to the children that she taught in her schools) “Love God, children, and you can forget Hell”. Let us pray for our current leaders, that they might be prophets – that they might be people who speak the truth..not just subjective truth, but objective truth. Real freedom is based in truth. Where there’s freedom, there’s Christ. Where there’s Christ, there’s love.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Thomas, Apostle. As I've probably written on here before, the Church encourages us to whisper St. Thomas' words at Mass during the elevation of the Eucharist at the consecration: "My Lord and my God". The following is from

Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Thomas should be equally well known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).


Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men. But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.

“...[P]rompted by the Holy Spirit, the Church must walk the same road which Christ walked: a road of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death.... For thus did all the apostles walk in hope. On behalf of Christ's Body, which is the Church, they supplied what was wanting in the sufferings of Christ by their own trials and sufferings (see Colossians 1:24)” (Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, 5).

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