Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Month of November

The entire month of November is devoted to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and Rosaries for the dead are offered during this time. The month-long devotion to the Souls in Purgatory begins with the three consecutive "Days of the Dead" at the end of October and early November:

The Days of the Dead are:

All Hallows' Eve: 31 October, the day on which we unofficially recall the realities of Hell and how to avoid it;

All Saints Day, or All Hallows' Day: 1 November, the day on which we officially honor God's Saints of the Church Triumphant; and

All Souls Day: 2 November, the day on which we officially commemorate and pray for all the faithful departed of the Church Suffering.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Saints Simon and Jude

Simon and Jude are the two most obscure Apostles. We don’t know anything about their background, only legends about their mission and how they gave their lives for Christ.

To distinguish Simon from Peter, he was called the “Zealot,” and to distinguish Jude (Judas) from Judas Iscariot, he got the nickname “Thaddaeus,” the “courageous.”

Simon “the Zealot.” Does it mean that he joined the patriotic terrorist group of Zealots who fought against the Roman occupation? Or does it mean that he was very zealous for God? We don’t know.

Jude is mentioned only once in the Gospel. During the Last Supper he interrupts Jesus’ discourse, asking him, “Lord, why do You intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Behind these words I detect a great humility and concern for those who were not able to be with Jesus. This question might be one of the reasons that he is venerated as the ”patron saint of hopeless cases.” Another reason might be that many thought the Letter of Jude was written by him. We read that the faithful should persevere even in an environment of harsh and difficult circumstances — in desperate and hopeless cases. What have these two not well known Apostles to tell us today?

Simon the Zealot can inspire us to live more involved lives as Christians. Jesus needs zealous disciples today to counteract widespread secularism in the world. A more zealous (not aggressive or intolerant) attitude is desired to guarantee that our faith will be carried onto the next generation.

And St. Jude? In the eyes of God, we don’t have to be a genius, a beauty, an artist, a great leader or a pioneer. We only have to be solid, firm, concerned for people in need, and spread love around. These will not make headlines but that is sometimes more heroic than breaking an Olympic record. Burning zeal for the cause of Christ, that’s what Simon and Jude teach us. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD 
Reflection Question:
Do I desire to be known in the world around me or am I, like Simon and Jude, content to do quietly what God wants me to do?
Lord, thank You for these two obscure Apostles. They make me aware that I don’t have to be well-known in the world. What counts is that I love You, follow You and bear witness to You.
St. Godwin, pray for us.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jesus’ Lament

The first part of today’s Gospel corrects some wrong images. First of all, we usually imagine the Pharisees to be enemies of Jesus. Most of them were, but there were also others who were worried about the safety of Jesus. They came to warn Him.

Then we usually imagine Jesus as very meek and soft. Today we hear how He uses bad words when He called Herod Antipas, the powerful ruler of Galilee, a fox, an expression of slyness, of cunning.

Jesus’ mood then changes. From anger and defiance, it turns to sadness. As a pious Jew, Jesus must have loved Jerusalem, the holy city, the place where the Temple, the House of His Father, stood.

From history He knew only too well that Jerusalem never lived up to its reputation as “holy city.” How many prophets had come and warned them to repent but were persecuted like Jeremiah, and even killed like other prophets? Jerusalem and the Temple had been destroyed already once, more than 500 years ago, a punishment for the sins of idolatry, injustice, corruption and oppression of the poor, as the prophets interpreted the catastrophe.

Jesus remembers the time He, like the prophets of old, had preached in Jerusalem and tried to turn the people from evil to a God-pleasing life — in vain! The image of the mother hen protecting her chicks under her wings is touching. What a pity that artists have never developed this beautiful picture.

Before we shake our heads at the stubbornness of Jerusalem’s people, I wonder what Jesus would say if He would speak about us. How many times have we been told to change our lives, to repent? How many times have we been told that just saying prayers and outward signs of piety will not save us? How many times have we been told that it is not enough to love God but that we love God most when we love our neighbor in need? Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem could be a lament over His followers in the 21st century.  Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Have I changed my life when I read in the Bible or heard in a homily that repentance and turning away from sin is what You want from me?
Lord, I feel guilty for my stubbornness. So many times You have given me a chance to change, but I live as if You had told me nothing. May the fate of Jerusalem not be my fate!
St. Namatius, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Many and Who will be Saved?

The question of who and how many will be saved has haunted Jews and Christians alike throughout the centuries. I hear this question sometimes in the confessional, sometimes in the classroom. For the Jews, the answer was easy: Jews will be saved, Gentiles not. When a Jew asked Jesus whether few or many would be saved, he must have expected Jesus to say, “Don’t worry, all Jews will be saved.” It must have shocked him when Jesus destroyed such a simple, false position and did not give any number. In effect He told the man, “God does not have a quota. Don’t be so sure about being saved because you are a Jew. There will be no mass promotion and general amnesty for the Chosen People. What counts in the end does not depend on who you are here on earth. It all depends on your effort to enter heaven.”

This story has been re-told many times: A man enters heaven and sees many palaces and thinks the angel would bring him to one of them. But the angel brought him to a miserable shed as we find them in slums. “That’s your home now,” he told the shocked man. “But why here and not in one of those big houses?” the man asked. “Because that’s all the material you have sent up during your lifetime; we could not construct a big house with it,” the angel explained.

Many Catholics are also too sure of salvation because they were baptized and go to Mass on Christmas, receive the ashes on Ash Wednesday, and recite an occasional prayer when in need of something. It might be that many “from east and west, from north and south” will be saved. What does that mean? It might be that some Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, prostitutes and street sweepers “take their places at the feast in the Kingdom of God” instead of some baptized Christians. Shocking? Yes. It’s as shocking to us as it was shocking to the Jew who asked Jesus how many would be saved. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Do I show personal effort to “enter heaven by the narrow door?” Do I show compassion and love especially towards those in need?
Lord, I felt too sure of my salvation because I go to Mass and attend the Wednesday novena. But how much material, deeds of mercy and love do I send to heaven for my eternal home? I realize — not enough.
St. Lucian, pray for us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Unwanted Mustard Plant

I have seen mustard plants in Israel and Turkey and was surprised because they are not trees but shrubs. Mustard is an annual plant. Its height can range from 30 to 100 centimeters, its branches soft. Mustard is an aggressive weed that easily infests wide areas. Cultivation of land contaminated by mustard is often impossible since wild mustard seed germinates at about the same time as annual crops are planted. No farmer or owner of a garden wants a mustard shrub nearby. Also, birds do not nest in its branches but flock to the shrubs to feast on the seeds and so contribute to the rapid spreading of the plant.

According to Jesus, that’s what the Kingdom of God is like — an overpowering shrub with dangerous take-over potentials, a plant nobody wants.

What is Jesus telling here? Most interpreters focus on the smallness of the seed and its end product — a big tree. But we just said that this cannot be the point because His listeners knew very well the mustard shrubs.

I think Jesus is trying to tell us here about the fate of the Kingdom of God: Many don’t want it, especially not its high ethical demands. Yet it will spread fast and nobody can control its fast growth. Remember the first centuries of Christianity? How many Roman emperors have tried to eradicate Christianity but failed? In the end their pagan religion was totally overpowered and destroyed by Christ’s teaching.

And today? We are again in a time when many don’t like the values Christianity preaches. In some Western countries, Christianity is seemingly dying. But in Africa and Latin America, Christianity continues to grow. Neither materialism nor secularism, so rampant in the West, can stop Christianity from spreading. We should not be discouraged b y c e r t a i n n e w s about the Church in the West or lesser religious and priestly vocations or declining Mass attendees in the Philippines. Nothing can stop the Kingdom of God. Why not contribute more to its growth? Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
What can I do to help the Church grow? What can I contribute to the spreading of the Gospel?
Lord, news about a decline of Your Church worries me. But Your short parable gives me hope. Help me to contribute more the spread of the Gospel and of Your Kingdom.
St. Daria, pray for us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Masks are for Carnival only

Jesus is angry in today’s Gospel. Rightly so. What He faces in the synagogue is illogical and hypocrisy. But it goes on until today. One day I walked on a Sabbath through Mea Shearim, the ultra-orthodox quarter in Jerusalem. When I came to a major road, I saw many Orthodox Jews standing along the road, cursing the cars passing by with loud voices and angry faces. Why? To start and drive a car is forbidden on a Sabbath. And so they “celebrate” the holy day of Sabbath, supposedly a day of praising God, by cursing people. 

Hypocrisy, we exclaim. But are we better? How many of our Christian fellowmen are wearing a pious mask by   attending daily Mass but destroying the reputation of a neighbor by their gossip? How many lament the poverty of many Filipinos but own two, three luxury cars, eat in posh restaurants and “fatten” their bank accounts?

How much money was used by “Christian” politicians for commercials during last year’s election campaign while so many of their countrymen were hungry, suffering and even dying because they could not afford a hospital? The list of Christian hypocrisy and Christian masks is endless.

Even in the Church, sad to say, we discover hypocrisy. There are priests who accumulate wealth, who are supposed to be celibate but have a woman and even children! We were shocked in recent years by revelations of sex scandals in many parts of the Church. So many pious masks are hiding the real person.

We understand Jesus’ anger in the synagogue, but it would be good to ask: What would Jesus say if He came here right now — in my parish, in my family? What would He say when He sees my lifestyle, my words and actions (or lack of
them)? Which mask would He rip from my face?

Hard as it is, it would be good to ask ourselves these questions. The answers may help us to become more honest — for masks are for carnivals onlyFr. Rudy Horst, SVD

Reflection Question:
Do I wear a mask to hide my ugly self? Do I pretend to be better than I am?
Lord, You have hit not only the people in the synagogue; You have hit me, too. I also wear a mask to hide my real self. Give me the strength and courage to be honest, to show my real face or to change to become what You want me to be.
St. Joseph Thi, pray for us.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Correction of a Common Belief

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed about 226,000 people. It devastated, among other places, the beach resort at Phuket in Thailand, famous not only for its beauty but also famous for its blossoming prostitution. When the news came, one could hear comments like, “That’s God’s punishment for the sins committed there.” But what about the innocent people living in Phuket and other countries hit by the tsunami? And what about the criminals who survived?
It was a common belief among Jesus’ contemporaries to think that disasters are God’s punishment for sins — a belief Jesus declares as false in today’s Gospel reading. Accidents, disasters and tragedies just happen and we should never judge those hit by them as sinners. During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, many priests and most seminarians were killed while many non-Catholics survived under the rubble. Was the archbishop a greater sinner than those who survived?

In the end, we are judged not by our biased fellowmen but by a just God. And according to which criteria will God judge us? One is surely by our practice of charity or lack of it. Another is according to our usefulness or uselessness. And that’s the message of the parable Jesus tells in the second part of today’s Gospel. If the fig tree would not bear fruit in a year’s time, it would be cut down because it is useless. So many times Jesus spoke about the importance of bearing fruit — or else…!

Sounds threatening, and surely it is. But as usual, Jesus adds a note of hope to the threat. The man in charge of the tree begs the owner of the vineyard to give the tree another chance. And that’s good news indeed. God is not like a policeman who hides somewhere to catch the unaware violator of a traffic rule. No, God warns through Christ again and again. Not only that, God gives us also one chance after the other because He does not want the death of the sinner but that he changes and lives. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Do I take for granted when God gives me another chance to change my life for the better?
Lord, thank You for Your kind warnings and for giving me so many chances to change and avoid offending You. If only I had heeded these warnings and made use of the chances You gave me!
St. Mary Salome, pray for us.

Friday, October 21, 2011


For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:19
One time in fourth grade, I came home and complained to my mom that I had a sick feeling in my tummy. But I couldn’t explain what was bothering me. All I could remember was that some kids had laughed at a boy who had tripped in the hallway and scattered his books all over the floor. With his face red with embarrassment, I watched as he fought back tears and gathered his things before scurrying away from the crowd.

After my story, my mom told me she knew why I wasn’t feeling well. “Guilt. You didn’t laugh at him but you didn’t want to be different from everybody else. So you didn’t reach out to help him either. When we know the right thing to do, we tend to regret not doing it.”

The Lord gave us great power through His Word and prayer to rise above the sinful nature of man. He has already provided the laws that separate right from wrong and it is in our true best interest to follow them. As Jiminy Cricket once said, “Let your conscience be your guide.” Eleanore Lee (elyo.lee@

When faced with tough decisions wherein the right thing to do is not necessarily the same as what you want to do, ask, “What would Jesus do?”
“Lord, continue to shield me with Your love as I wage a constant battle between good and evil within myself and, as together we stand, righteousness will prevail.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Prince of PeacE who causes Division

I am often asked by a Catholic young man or woman whether it would be alright to marry a non-Catholic partner. I know several couples who live a harmonious married life even though they belong to different Christian denominations. But, to be honest, these cases are rare.

I cannot forget Scott Hahn’s book, Rome Sweet Home. He and his wife had taken academic degrees in theology and were very active in their ministry as Evangelicals. But Scott began to question Protestantism and felt attracted to Catholicism; he finally converted and became a devout Catholic. His wife followed later but before she converted their  marriage nearly broke up.

“Days and weeks would pass without us sharing anything spiritual,” he writes. “As my spiritual life surged forward, my marriage tumbled backward… Most attempts to deal forthrightly with our differences would end in grief and frustration.”

After Mrs. Hahn’s conversion to the Catholic Church, most of their former Evangelical friends broke away from them.

This is just one example that illustrates Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel. While working in one parish, I witnessed the pain of parents whose son or daughter joined another Christian group or religion. The division can be even worse when a married couple belongs to a completely different faith.

St. Francis of Assisi met strong resistance from his father when he decided to live a life of poverty. Some young people who answer God’s call to the religious life often find strong resistance from their parents. Yes, a decision for Christ and His values can cause division. Jesus, the “Prince of Peace,” surely came to bring peace. Yet, since  conformity, compromise and popularity are not accepted values by Christ, our loyalty to Jesus’ Word can cause the loss of friendship and lead to quarrels and even ostracism. Do we have the strength to face such tensions? Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Am I afraid of division or rejection and so compromise when it comes to Christ’s teaching and values?
Lord, so many times I was torn between following Your Word and upholding Your values, and following what friends and family member say  and expect. Inflame me with the fire of the Holy Spirit to remain always loyal to You!
St. Martha, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


We often hear and see on TV news about catastrophes that suddenly struck and killed many people in a matter of a few seconds. Remember the 45-second earthquake that devastated the capital of Haiti in January 2010? At least 300,000 people perished. We cannot forget September 11, 2000, when almost 3,000 people who worked in or visited the World Trade Center in New York, thinking about nothing but their work and what they would do in the evening at home, when terrorist planes crashed into the Twin Towers and killed them. We still remember the tsunami that killed tens of thousands in the vast area from Indonesia to India. We hear about suicide bombers, bomb attacks, typhoons, floods, plane crashes, sinking of ferries and so on.

People died and we wonder how many of them were prepared to appear before God. I remember a song from my childhood years in Germany that was usually sung in church during funeral Masses. Translated, the first line said, “In the midst of our life we are surrounded by death…”

The thought of sudden death should not make us morbid, of course. God wants us to enjoy life. But we should also be realistic and include death in our planner, as St. Benedict did. He told his monks to keep death daily before their eyes and walk with death as a friend and not as an enemy. St. Francis called death “sister bodily death.”

Weird? Morbid?

I don’t think so. Jesus tells us in today’s parable to be alert and always ready for the coming of the Master, because no one knows the day or the hour when we will be called to appear before God.

Twelve days from now we will go out to the cemeteries and visit the tombs of our loved ones. Many make merry at the tombs, probably to avoid thinking about death. But our visit to the tombs could become a strong reminder of the shortness of life and the possibility of not being prepared when the Lord calls us. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Am I afraid of death? Am I prepared and ready to face my Lord at the end of my life?
Lord, Your parable is a very timely reminder of maybe the most important moment in my life — my death. Too often, I live as if life would go on forever. May You not find me unprepared but ready to enter eternal joy when my time comes.
St. Charles Garnier, pray for us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The best St. Nicholas Statue ever!

St Nicholas fresco

Now, from the artistic tradition that created the magnificent icons that grace the great cathedrals of Russia (where, for centuries, St. Nicholas has been particularly revered and loved) comes . . .
the best
St. Nicholas Statue 

Statue facing left.

It's over 12" tall
Back view of statue.

. . . yet hand-painted, front and back, with loving attention to detail
(Look closely: note the delicate gradation of tones in the blues and greens, and the soft blush on Nicholas's cheeks. See how carefully even his eyes are painted.)
St. Nicholas face

Look closely at
the Nativity Tableau:

With the 
Star of Bethlehem shining down on the Holy Family (and half-a-dozen other bright stars come down from Heaven to gaze upon them, too) . . .
Detail of Nativity.

. . . St. Joseph lifts his hand to bless the Newborn . . .
Detail of St. Joseph.

. . . who Himself blesses His adoring mother as she gazes down upon Him:
Detail of the Virgin Mary.

Finally, turning His face directly to us, the Baby Jesus blesses you and me, too:

Detail of the Baby Jesus.

Nowhere else will you find a statue of St. Nicholas as handsome as this, or as well-crafted.
Take it in hand.
Examine it closely.
It's virtually indistinguishable from the lovingly-designed, hand-carved wooden statue from which its mold was made.

Statue facing right.

Unfortunately, it's mid-October already and I've got only 150 of these St. Nicholas Statues left in stock. I may be able to obtain 100 more between now and Christmas, but that's not certain.
And today, I'm sending this ad to over 20,000, customers, most of whom have children or grandchildren who will be charmed by our St. Nicholas.
So if you want this handsome St. Nicholas Statue to grace your home this Christmas (and for many Christmases to come), click the link below or call our toll-free number right away.

St. Nicholas Statue
12+ inches; hand-painted
sturdy polymer, made
to last for generations
(Only available for shipping
within the United States.)

Front view of statue

Order online above,or call
Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108 USA

We always welcome contributions to our non-profit apostolate. If you would prefer not to use the PayPal button below, you can add a contribution directly to your shopping cart at our on-line store.
Click to donate through paypal or donate directly through our website: www.
Sophia Institute Press
is the publishing division of
The publishing division of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and of Holy Spirit College.



St. Luke left us with two books, his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He dedicated both books to a certain Theophilus and they were written for Gentile Christians. St. Paul calls him the beloved physician. In many parts of the world, images of Mary are attributed to the brush of Luke. But he surely was not an artist who painted pictures with a brush; he was rather an artist who painted lovely scenes with his pen. His descriptions were so vivid that he inspired countless artists throughout the centuries to put on canvas the scenes he described. If we didn’t have Luke’s Gospel, we would not know anything about the Annunciation, the Visitation, the shepherds and angels at Bethlehem, the Presentation and the finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple. Without Luke’s Gospel, we would not know of the parables about the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. We would not know anything about the Pentecost and Mary’s presence during that event, about theconversion and journeys of St. Paul, and so on. Yes, we would not know so many details from the life of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles if we do not have Luke’s two books.

The way he presents Jesus is also quite different from the way the other three evangelists do. Luke shows Jesus often in prayer. He describes Jesus as the divine physician, always merciful, compassionate, always reaching out to the marginalized in society, ready to forgive sins.

No other evangelist mentions the Holy Spirit so often, guiding the early Christian communities and their leaders. If you want to know how Christianity developed in the first decades, read Luke’s Acts. When you are afraid to approach God because of your sins, read Luke’s Gospel. When you feel rejected, judged, even condemned by others, read Luke’s Gospel and approach through it the merciful Lord who in turn will reach out to you and encourage you. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Have I read Luke’s Gospel from the beginning to the end? Have I familiarized myself with the Acts of the Apostles?
Lord, thank You for giving us St. Luke and his inspired writings. In his books I can meet You, hear You, and feel Your compassion and love for me, a sinner. Thank You for this gifted evangelist.
St. Kevoca, pray for us.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Isn’t it that often we live as if our life would continue forever? We just cannot imagine that all we do and enjoy would end one day. We plan, we provide for the future and feel secure — until a sudden illness or an unforeseen accident rattles us.And we realize that we had relied on a false security.

We make insurance companies happy when we “buy” security against illness, theft, fire, accidents. But can all these insurances prevent us from dying?

During the economic crisis in 2009, several billionaires in my home country, Germany, committed suicide because they lost millions. They were content with what they had accumulated over the years, only to find out that it was a false security they had relied on.

The Titanic was considered unsinkable because it had 16 water-tight compartments and four could be flooded without endangering the ship — until that horrible day, April 15, when an iceberg ruptured five compartments, one too many, and the ship sank killing 1,513 passengers. They all had relied on a false security.

That’s what Jesus is trying to tell us in today’s Gospel reading. The rich man actually acts quite reasonable. God had given him an extraordinary good harvest and so it was natural to plan for an early retirement and enjoy the rest of his life. But it was a false security. All his beautiful plans were suddenly shattered on the very night he had made these plans. That is why God calls him a “fool.” He planned for his future without taking God and God’s plans into account.

Does God then want us to live in constant insecurity? Far from it! Jesus wants us to put all our trust in God’s plans and providence. God is the only security we have in this world and life. If we are realistic enough and include even our inevitable death in our plans for the future, even death becomes meaningful because it is nothing but a natural return to where we came from: God. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Do I live as if I would live forever, or do I include the end of my life in my plans?
Lord, thank You for reminding me of the only certain thing in my life — my death which is my return to You. Thank You for reminding me to put more trust in You and Your plans.
St. John the Dwarf, pray for us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011



When I discussed in a seminar the Letter to the Hebrews, we came to a passage where the author of the letter wrote about a sin that seemingly would and could not be forgiven anymore. The discussion led us to the “sin against the Holy Spirit” that will not be forgiven, as we hear Jesus saying in today’s Gospel passage. What kind of sin is this?

When Jesus spoke to the Jews, they did not yet know anything about the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit. When they heard “Holy Spirit,” they thought of God’s Spirit which reveals God’s truth, and it was through God’s Spirit that one could recognize this truth. This needs a certain openness to God’s revelation. One has to stay attuned to God’s teachings. Or to use a modern term: one has to have a spiritual antenna and it has to be turned into the direction where the radio waves are coming from. If one does not care, he either takes down the antenna or does not turn it in the right direction. And that, for the Jews, was a refusal to listen to God, cutting one’s self off from where revelation and divine guidance come.

This is what Jesus calls “sin against the Holy Spirit.”

The Pharisees saw Jesus working miracles, driving out evil spirits — obviously acts of God. And still they accused Him of doing so by the power of the prince of devils. Nothing and nobody could make them accept Jesus as being sent by God.

God continues to speak to us, especially through Scriptures. He also speaks to us through the teachings of the Church, through experiences in life, through good people around us. It depends on us to listen and accept what we hear as coming from God or to reject it because it does not fit in our lifestyle. That would be a “ sin against the Holy Spirit,” a sin that, as Jesus said, will not be forgiven.  Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Which teachings of Christ and of the Church have I difficulties in accepting and following?
Lord, sometimes Your words are hard and difficult to accept. Sometimes the Church seems to be so strict. Then I tend to close myself. Thank You for reminding me today that I am about to commit that horrible sin. With Your help, may I never really commit it.
Blessed Victoria Strata, pray for us.

Friday, October 14, 2011



Newsweek issue from the 1990s published a horrible story about a married couple in Canada who kidnapped, tortured, raped and sometimes murdered teenage girls. They even videotaped their victims’ agony. And so we learned about 15- year-old Kirsten French. She was ordered to perform a certain sex act but she refused, saying, “Some things are worth dying for.” She never gave in, even when the couple showed her a video of one of their victims.

Ninoy Aquino said something similar. His motive was love for his country. We also remember the death of John the Baptist who also dared to tell the powerful ruler that he was wrong by marrying his half-brother’s wife. He died for the truth.

These three examples embody that kind of strength, self-determination and self-respect that we can only admire, because at the bottom of it is a sense of honor and the readiness to die to preserve that honor. In other words, John the Baptist, Kirsten French and Ninoy Aquino are telling us that there are values which one should not compromise. There are values which we, as followers of Christ, have to stand up and even be ready to suffer for.

But isn’t their standing up for truth, for chastity, for the nation outdated in our secularized and sex-obsessed world?

Here comes Jesus telling us in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body…” One problem that weakens our society and even the Church is that too many don’t have the backbone to stand up for truth, purity and other Christian values. As that weakens our nation, it is also weakening the Church.

“Some things are worth dying for.”

May these words give us strength to be more courageous in a world where chastity is laughed at, where the truth is twisted, where faith and loyalty to the teachings of Christ and of the Church are often undermined by secular ideas and trends. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Do I have the courage to stand up for Christian values and the teachings of the Church?
Thank You, Lord, for the timely reminder. I need more courage and strength. May Your Word and the example of so many courageous people teach me not to fear those who kill the body and make me stronger.
Sts. Saturninus and Lupus, pray for us.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last year, I conducted a seminar about archaeology and the Bible. Among the many things archaeologists have excavated in Palestine are remnants of monumental tombs in honor of the prophets of old, just as Jesus mentions them in today’s Gospel passage. He accuses the Pharisees of building such monuments for the prophets whom their ancestors had murdered. And now, as the last sentence of the Gospel says, they are attacking not a prophet but the Son of God whom they eventually will also bring to His death on the Cross. Again, Jesus exposes what He hates most: hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is not something we find only in the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. Hypocrisy remains rampant in our world, in our society, and — let us be honest — even in the Church. As we said yesterday, we are proud to be a Christian country but we project a very un-Christian image to other nations. Some people speak out vehemently against the death penalty for heinous crimes but advocate death for unborn babies in the wombs of their mothers. There are politicians who claim to be pro-poor but accumulate immense wealth and cheat when paying taxes. There are regular churchgoers who treat their maids as if they were not also children of God but slaves, and destroy with their gossip the reputation of neighbors.

There are politicians who claim that they want nothing more than to protect the environment but allow — for the money they get out of it — foreign mining companies to destroy forests, watersheds and mountains, and pollute rivers and water sources.

The list is endless. Let us also look into our own daily life and attitudes and discover that we are also infected by it. Our actions do not always match our words and outward behavior.

What would Jesus tell us if He would confront us? And how would we react to His stern, unrelenting criticism?Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
Reflection Question:
Do I tend to discover hypocrisy in others and forget that I myself might also be a hypocrite at times?
Lord, once again You directed my attention to the evil of hypocrisy. Once more, You made me aware of hypocrisy around me and in me. Heal me from this evil and let me become like You: open, direct, straight and clear in my words and actions.
St. Romulus, pray for us.