Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today's Gospel Reading - Sunday, March 31, 2013 with Reflection


1ST READING - Acts 10:34, 37-43

34 Peter proceeded to speak and said: 
37“You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. 40 This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

P S A L M - Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23

R: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. 2 Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.” (R) 16 “The right hand of the Lord has struck with power; the right hand of the Lord is exalted.” 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.(R) 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (R)

2ND READING - Colossians 3:1-4 (or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

1 Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory.


Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.

John 20:1-9 (or Matthew 28:1-10)

1 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 3 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. 4 They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; 5 he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.6 When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 7 and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. 8Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. 9 For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.



It is not enough just to receive the many blessings that God offers us through Christ’s death and resurrection. Part of receiving the graces with gratitude is to fully live the Gospel. In this way, we all become ambassadors for Christ, as Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 5. Is there any greater news totell someone than that his sins have been forgiven and that he is destined for eternal life? I think not!

But then, here’s a question that comes to my mind: “Why do we seem to be so reluctant to share this incredibly Good News with others?” Do we assume that they already know it? Maybe in some cases, but I am equally certain that there are at least as many people who are lacking in their faith response, and yet we do nothing about it.

We do not have to become the immediate means of salvation for everyone we know — that is God’s job. But what I am saying is that we need to be on the lookout for opportunities, whenever possible, to share how the grace of God has transformed our lives. Having received the grace of God freely, we have the responsibility to share it with others. This is both a duty and a privilege.

As we reflect on the resurrection of Christ, let us pray for the grace to be more aware of opportunities to share the Good News as they arise. Let us not be hesitant in sharing the Gospel with others. Paul tells us that he is never ashamed of the Gospel because he knows and has experienced the truth of the Gospel’s power to save (Romans 1:16-17). Experience is a part of our faith; if we have not experienced the saving grace of God at work in our lives, then we should ask, nay beg, God to give them to us as soon as possible. It is our experiences that we can share with others. They become the content of our proclamation of the Gospel. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL

REFLECTION QUESTIONS: What is your experience of the saving work and grace of God in your life? Should you pray to God for a deepening of your experiences of Him?

Lord Jesus, thank You for the saving work of Your grace in my life. Help me to receive it with joy and to be affirmed in God’s love and mercy for me. Help me to share this with others.

St. Stephen of Mar Saba, pray for us. Easter Sunday

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cardinal Bergoglio's October 2012 Pastoral Letter for the Year of Faith

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Among the most striking experiences of the last decades is finding doors closed. Little by
little increasing insecurity has made us bolt doors, employ means of vigilance, install security cameras and mistrust strangers who call at our door.

None the less in some places there are doors that are still open. The closed door is really a symbol of our today. It is something more than a simple sociological fact; it is an existential reality that is imposing itself as a way of life, a way of confronting reality, others and the future.

The bolted door of my house, the place of my intimate life, my dreams, hopes, sufferings and moments of happiness, is locked against others. And it is not simply a matter of the
physical house; it is also the whole area of my life, of my heart. All the time there are fewer who can cross that threshold. The security of reinforced doors protects the insecurity of a life which is becoming more fragile and less open to the riches of the life and the love of others.

The image of an open door has always been a symbol of light, friendship, happiness, liberty and trust. How we need to recover them. The closed door does us harm, reduces and
separates us.

We begin the Year of Faith and, paradoxically, the image that the Pope proposes is that of a door, a door through which we must pass to be able to find what we need so much.

The Church, through the voice and heart of its Pastor, Benedict XVI, invites us to cross the threshold, to take an interior and free step: to animate ourselves to enter a new life.

The phrase "door to faith" brings us back to the Acts of the Apostles: "On arriving, they gathered the Church together and told them what God had done through them and how He had
opened the door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts. 14.27).

God always takes the initiative and He does not want anyone to be excluded. God calls at the door of our hearts: Look, I am at the door, calling: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I shall enter his house and dine with him and him with me (Rev.3.20).

Faith is a grace, a gift of God.

"Only by believing does faith grow and be strengthened: in a continual abandon into the hands of a love which is always felt as greater because it has its origin in God"

Crossing through that door presupposes the beginning of a way or journey that lasts a lifetime, as we pass in front of so many doors which open to us today, many of them false doors, doors that invite us in a very attractive but lying manner to go down that road, promising an empty narcissistic happiness which has an expiry dated: doors that lead to cross-roads where, no matter which option we follow, will, sooner or later, cause suffering and confusion, doors focused on self which wear out and have no guarantee for the future.

While the doors of the houses are closed, the doors of the shopping malls are always open. 

One passes through the door of faith, one crosses that threshold, when the Word of God is announced and the heart allows itself to be shaped by that grace which transforms. A grace which has a concrete name, and that name is Jesus. Jesus is the door. (Jn. 10:9). He, and only He, is and will always be the door. No one goes to the Father except through Him. (Jn.14.6). If there is no Christ, there is no way to God. As the door, He opens the way to God and as Good Shepherd he is the Only One who looks after us at the price of his own life.

Jesus is the door and he knocks on our door so that we allow him to cross the threshold of our lives. "Don't be afraid . open the doors wide for Christ", Blessed John Paul II told us at the beginning of his papacy. To open the doors of our hearts as the disciples of Emmaus did, asking him to stay with us so that we may pass through the doors of faith and that the Lord himself bring us to understand the reasons why we believe, so that we may then go out to announce it. Faith presumes that we decide to be with the Lord, to live with him and share this with our brothers and sisters.

We give thanks to God for this opportunity to realise the value of our lives as children of God through this journey of faith which began in our lives with the waters of baptism, that unending and fruitful dew which makes us children of God and brothers and sisters in the Church.

The purpose, the objective (of this year of Faith) is that we meet with God with whom we have already entered into communion and who wishes to restore us, purify us, raise us up and sanctify us, and give us the happiness that our hearts crave.

To begin this year of faith is a call to us to deepen in our lives that faith we have already received. To profess our faith with our mouth implies living it in our hearts and showing it in what we do: it is a testimony and public commitment. The disciple of Christ, a child of the Church, can never think that believing is a private matter. It is an important and strong challenge for every day, convinced that he who began the good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6).Looking at our reality, as disciples who are missionaries, we ask ourselves what challenge this crossing the threshold of the faith has for us?

Crossing the Threshold of Faith

Crossing this threshold of the faith challenges us to discover that, even though it would
seem that death reigns in its various forms and that our history is governed by the law of the strongest or the most astute and that hate and ambition are the driving forces of so many human struggles, we are also absolutely convinced that this sad reality can and should change decisively, because 'if God is with us, who can overcome us?' (Rom. 8: 31, 37).

Crossing this threshold of the faith supposes that we'll not be ashamed to have the heart of a child who, because he still believes in impossible things, can still live in hope, which is the only thing capable of giving sense to and transforming history. It means asking unceasingly, praying without weakening and adoring so that our vision may be transfigured.

Crossing the threshold of the faith brings us to beg for everyone "the same sentiments that Christ had" (Phil. 2-5), so that each discover a new way of thinking, of communicating with one another, of looking at others, of respecting one another, of being in family together, of planning our futures, of living out love and our vocation.

Crossing the threshold of the faith is to be active, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit present in the Church and who is also seen in the signs of the times. It is to join in the constant movement of life and of history without falling into the paralyzing defeatism that everything in the past was better. It is an urgency to think in new ways, to offer new suggestions, a new creativity, kneading life with "the new leaven of justice and holiness" (1 Cor. 5:8).

Crossing the threshold of the faith implies that we have eyes to wonder and a heart that is not lazily accustomed, that is able to recognize that every time a woman gives birth it is another bet placed for life and the future; that, when we watch out for the innocence of children we are guaranteeing the truth of a tomorrow and when we treat gently the dedicated life of an elderly person we are acting justly and caressing our own roots.

Crossing the threshold of the faith means work lived with dignity and with a vocation to serve with the self-denial of one who comes back time and time again to begin without weakening, as if everything done so far were only one step in the journey towards the Kingdom, the fullness of life.
It is the quiet wait after the daily planting: it is the contemplation of the collected harvest, giving thanks to the Lord because he is good, asking that he not abandon the work of his hands (Psalm 137).

Crossing the threshold of the faith demands that we struggle for liberty and life together with others even when the ambient drags its feet, in the certainty that the Lord asks of us to live justly, love goodness and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Crossing the threshold of the faith bears deeply within it the continued conversion of our
attitudes, modes and tones with which we live. It demands a reformulation, not a patching up or a varnishing. It means accepting the new form that Jesus Christ prints on him who is touched by His hand and his Gospel of life.

It means doing something totally new for society and the Church; because "He who is in Christ is a new creature" (2 Cor 5, 17-21)

Crossing the threshold of the faith leads us to forgiving and to know how to break into a
smile. It means approaching every person who lives on the edge of existence and to call him by name. It is taking care of the fragility of the weakest and supports his trembling knees in the certainty that in what we do for the smallest of our brothers it is to Jesus himself that we are doing it (Mt. 25. 40).

Crossing the threshold of the Faith demands that we celebrate life. That we let ourselves be transformed because we have been made one with Jesus at the table of the Eucharist celebrated in community and from there our hands and heart be busy working in the great project of the Kingdom: all the rest will be given us in addition (Mt. 6.33).

Crossing the threshold of the faith means living in the spirit of the Vatican Council and of Aparecida (the latest meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops), a Church of open doors, not just to receive in but fundamentally to go out and fill the street and the people of our times with the Good News.

Crossing the threshold of the faith, in our Archdiocesan Church, presupposes that we be
convinced of the Mission to be a church that lives, prays and works with a missionary orientation.

Crossing the threshold of the faith is, definitively, the acceptance of the newness of the life of the Risen Christ, raised in our poor flesh to make it a sign of the new life.

Meditating all these things, we look at Mary. May she, the Virgin Mother, accompany us in our crossing the threshold of the faith and bring the Holy Spirit over our Church, as in Nazareth, so that just like her we may adore the Lord and go out to announce the marvels he has done in us.

Cardenal Jorge Bergoglio
Buenos Aires
October of 2012

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pope Francis’ Homily for Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, This morning I have the joy of celebrating my first Chrism Mass as the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with affection, especially you, dear priests, who, like myself, today recall the day of your ordination.

The readings of our Mass speak of God’s “anointed ones”: the suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God’s faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for prisoners, for the oppressed… 

A fine image of this “being for” others can be found in the Psalm: “It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe” (Ps 133:2). The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe.

The sacred robes of the High Priest are rich in symbolism. One such symbol is that the names of the children of Israel were engraved on the onyx stones mounted on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, the ancestor of our present-day chasuble: six on the stone of the right shoulder-piece and six on that of the left (cf. Ex 28:6-14).

The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were also engraved on the breastplate (cf. Es 28:21). This means that the priest celebrates by carrying on his shoulders the people entrusted to his care and bearing their names written in his heart. When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs of whom there are many in these times…

From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people, alive and strengthened, we turn to a consideration of activity, action. The precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend fragrance to his person; it overflows down to “the edges”. The Lord will say this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone. The ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid … and the heart bitter.

A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news.

Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes.

And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me”, “Pray for me” – these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the robe, for it has turned into prayer. The prayers of the people of God.

When we have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God’s grace and perceive in every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely material or downright banal – but only apparently so – the desire of our people to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it.

To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes.

It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. But not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.

We need to “go out”, then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.

A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers.

We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, become sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties – instead of being shepherds living with “the smell of the sheep”, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men.

True enough, the so-called crisis of priestly identity threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis; but if we can resist its onslaught, we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and cast our nets. It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction” – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.

Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart.

Dear priests, may God the Father renew in us the Spirit of holiness with whom we have been anointed. May he renew his Spirit in our hearts, that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those “outskirts” where our faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the Anointed One, came to bring us. Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Smart Ways to Fight Same-Sex Marriage (and how to do so charitably)

Nine states have legalized gay marriage,
and many more may soon follow their example.

More than half of Americans now support changing
the age-old definition of marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court takes its first look at same-sex marriage
this week, and its decisions will have far-reaching implications for us all.

For years radical social engineers have planned for a future in which marriage is considered an anachronism, and "intolerant" beliefs are strictly censored.

They may be winning this battle, but there's still time to avert this course, says pro-family advocate Dale O’Leary.  In her book One Man, One Woman, she offers a twelve-point practical plan for saving marriage for the next generation—a plan that begins and ends not with anger, but with genuine love and compassion.
In One Man, One Woman, the first book of its kind written for Catholics, O'Leary shares her knowledge and experience of every facet of the gay-marriage debate:
 politics, psychology, biology, religion, and social science.

With clarity and force she tackles the many myths surrounding this contentious issue, showing that:
  • Gay people are not "born that way" (scientists have never found a "gay gene" and never will), but neither do they purposely "choose" their condition
  • By their very nature, homosexual relationships reject the traditional marital ideals of permanence, fidelity, and mutual self-giving
  • Since marriage is much more than just a private matter between two individuals, radically redefining it will inevitably have grave ill effects on all of society.
  • Jesus' command to "judge not" doesn't compel us to approve of homosexual behavior or same-sex marriage (but we are called to speak the truth in love)
  • Research has conclusively shown that children fare best with a mother and a father -- and gay activists know this
  • The battle over gay marriage is but one part of a larger war against traditional morality and religion, and this war won't end even when the issue is settled

O'Leary shows how the redefinition of marriage in Europe and Canada has already taken a predictable toll on marriage rates, family stability, religious freedom, and, particularly, on the well-being of children.

These are trends that American society will soon follow if we do not stand with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and recognize that marriage reflects a deep reality – the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman.

So whether you're trying to fight City Hall, answer the challenges of a relative or friend, or even quiet your own nagging doubts, One Man, One Woman is your single source for the facts you need to understand and defend the truth about marriage.

by Dale O'Leary
336 Pages - $19.95
Paperback and eBook.


Receive a FREE COPY of 
Love, Marriage and the Catholic Conscience 
when you 
Order One Man, One Woman

Love, Marriage, and the Catholic Conscience offers everything a Christian needs to know about love, marriage, family life, and birth control—eye-opening reasons for you to give these Church teachings a closer look.

This brief but powerful book will teach you . . . 
  • Where the Church gets the authority to teach about birth control.
  • Why a truly loving marriage must be open to procreation of children.
  • Why some advances in medical know-how must be rejected on moral grounds.
  • Why Church teachings on contraception can never change.
  • How periodic abstinence can actually strengthen a weak marriage.
  • Plus, more to help you understand and appreciate the Church's teachings on love and marriage!
Order online above, or call

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Jewish View on Catholics

Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.
Jewish Sam Miller on Catholics

Excerpts of an article written by non-Catholic Sam Miller- - a prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman:

"Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?

Do you know the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.

The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.

The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people - not just Catholics - in the United States today.

But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.

Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.

Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic problem.

A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.

The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.

Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States .

Then remember what Jeremiah said: 'Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'. Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.

"Be proud that you're a Catholic."

Please pass this on to every Catholic...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today's Gospel Reading - Sunday, March 24, 2013 with Reflection

Palm Sunday

1ST READING - Isaiah 50:4-7

P S A L M - Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
R: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
7 [8] All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads. 8 [9] “He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.” (R) 16 [17] Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; they have pierced my hands and my feet; 17 [18] I can count all my bones. (R) 18 [19] They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. 19 [20] But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. (R) 22 [23] I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you. 23 [24] “You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel!” (R)

2ND READING - Philippians 2:6-11

Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.

Luke 22:14-23:56 (or Luke 23:1-49)
14 When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles. 15 He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, 16 for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” 20And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.21 And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; 22 for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.” 23 And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. 24 Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. 25 He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors;’ 26 but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27 For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.28 It is you who have stood by me in my trials; 29 and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.31 “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” 33 He said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.” 34 But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.” 35 He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. 36 He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked’; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” 38 Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!” 39 Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him. 40 When he arrived  at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” 41 After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” 43 And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. 44 He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.46 He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” 47 While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. 48 Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” 50 And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. 52 And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.” 54After arresting him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. 55They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. 56 When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently athim and said, “This man, too, was with him.” 57 But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You, too, are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” 59 About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man, too, was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, 61 and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 He went out and began to weep bitterly. 63 The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. 64They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they reviled him in saying many other things against him. 66 When day came, the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. 67They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us,” but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I question, you will not respond. 69 But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.” 23: Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a King.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, “I find this man not guilty.” But they were adamant and said, “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began, even to here.” On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. 11 Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. 13 Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, 15 nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. 16 Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.” 17 18 But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.” 19 Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder. 20 Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, 21 but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.” 23 With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. 24 The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. 25 So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished. 26 As they led him away, they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. 28 Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, 29 for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 At that time, people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’31 for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine, 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon 45 because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. 46 Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.” 48 When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; 49but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events. 50 Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, 51 had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the Kingdom of God. 52 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. 54 It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, 56they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.



This text from Philippians for our Second Reading today is one of my favorites. Why? In it we discover a very eloquent description of Christ’s humility, which Paul clearly considers as central to the work of salvation. Paul comes from a Pharisaic background and is well aware of the many accusations of hypocrisy that have been leveled against the group over the years, and even by Christ in His ministry. The issue at stake here is humility.
Christ clearly differentiates Himself from the Pharisees through His humility, an aspect of His character that is always to the fore. Paul is probably quoting from an early Christian hymn in this text, thus indicating how the Early Church sees the humility of Christ as central to His character and life. Even though Jesus is aware that He is God, He does not demand the attention and respect that is due Him. He makes the choice to use service as the defining thrust of His ministry. It is through the lens of service that we can fully acquaint ourselves with the heart of Christ’s message, the Good News of salvation.
The other main description of service is the image of “being emptied.” This can be interpreted in many ways, including that of giving all that He possibly could to achieve His desired goal. This is true of Jesus — He eventually died on the cross in order to bring forgiveness to our sins. Another way of looking at “being emptied” is to realize that if you are empty, you ultimately need to be refilled. Here, we see that aspect of humility, wherein Jesus entrusts His entire life and ministry into the hands of His Father. This level of total trust is something that Christians need to imitate to successfully follow Jesus in their lives.
As we listen to the Passion of Jesus today at Mass, let us keep in mind Christ’s example of humility through His suffering, and so seek to understand how we can better imitate His humility in our lives. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTION: How can you grow in humility in order to more fully embrace the Good News of Christ?
Holy Spirit, help me understand fully the humility of Christ so that I may receive and live this grace in my life.

St. Catherine of Genoa, pray for us.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

New Release: Anthony Esolen on God's Plan for you

"Reflections on the Christian Life is written by today's
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Fr. C.J. McCloskey III

In Sophia Institute Press's newest release, acclaimed Catholic author Anthony Esolen explains how the story of your life has already been written — and can be discovered — by considering the life and person of Jesus. Only in God does the world possess meaning, Esolen explains, and only in relation to God are our lives genuine stories.

You may have read Dr. Esolen’s articles on Crisis Magazine or The Catholic Thing, or perhaps inMagnificat or Catholic World Report.  He is widely recognized as one of today’s best Catholic writers and thinkers.

In Reflections on the Christian Life, Dr. Esolen offers a brilliant reflection — in ways that only he can — upon what it means for any of us, and for all of us together, to dwell in a world of stories. And he shows how we can take events in the life of Christ as the touchstone for all that happens to us on our journey from time to eternity.

Indeed, this book will finally awaken in you the unshakable confidence that despite even the tragic stories of this life, the good things you’ve known and loved are not gone forever: all that is lost will be found; all will be restored; all will be perfected. Truly, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1).

Like the star that led the Magi to Jesus, the wisdom in these pages will lead you to Christ. It will instill in you hope that increases every step of your way.
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Fr. George William Rutler
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Rarely does a book come along that so succinctly explains the decline of modern culture, articulates a defense of the Church's teachings, and offers a hope-filled path for building a civilization grounded in Catholic truth. In these pages, Dr. Ryan Topping does all three, pulling back the curtain on the false philosophies of the secularists and showing that in the West today the most formidable threat to freedom is not failing economies or Islam, but secularism.

In these pages written over half a century ago, Nicolas Corte gives you incontrovertible proof that Satan exists, that he and his legions of devils assault you daily, and that by means of relentless attacks — overwhelming and subtle — they intend to corrupt you, damn you, and drag you into Hell along with those you love and all the rest of mankind.

Countless Christians—including scores of saints—have suffered profound, pervasive sorrow that modern psychiatrists call “depression.” Then, as now, great faith and even fervent spiritual practices have generally failed to ease this wearying desolation of soul.  In these pages, Catholic psychiatrist Aaron Kheriaty reviews the effective ways that have recently been devised to deal with this grave and sometimes deadly affliction — ways that are not only consistent with the teachings of the Church, but even rooted in many of those teachings.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Orphans No More

by Father John McCloskey
With the surprise election of Pope Francis, following the stunning and completely unexpected abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, our prayers have been answered.
The Church, the family of God to whom Jesus promised he would always be present through a representative, beginning with St. Peter, who would lovingly rule the children of his flock — guiding them to holiness, teaching them and at times correcting them — is rejoicing.
Catholics affectionately call this representative Papa or Pope because we love and trust him to guide us in this life and show us the way to the heavenly Father. That is why we rejoice madly when that white fumata appears — no matter who the particular man is. In Pope Francis, we rejoice. We now have a new Holy Father. We are orphans no more!
The Church, which by its very essence was born universal, is now truly global — not only by the communion of the saints, but also thanks to new technologies that enable the word of God to be communicated in virtually any place, in any part of the world, at relatively low cost. And now, for the first time since early Christianity, we have a pope who is not only not from Europe, but also from another hemisphere that contains 40% of the world's Catholic faithful.
At first glance, there are several delightful characteristics about Pope Francis that undoubtedly will be a blessing to the Church.
Firstly, his intellect. He has degrees in philosophy, theology and chemistry. He has taught literature and psychology. Has any other pope in history arrived with such a broad academic résumé to the Chair of Peter?
Secondly, the respect he has received from his fellow Jesuits, who elected him superior of the Jesuit Province of Argentina. It is rare for a Jesuit to become not only an archbishop, much less a cardinal, and it's completely unprecedented for a member of the Society of Jesus to be the supreme pontiff.
Lastly, and perhaps most impressive, is his evident humility, as shown not only in his choice of pontifical name, but by his personal poverty and pastoral work in Argentina.
Pastorally, he has shown a preferential option for the poor. Indeed, one small example is how much time he spends hearing confession and giving spiritual guidance — not only to the elite, but also to the poor. They all know him simply as Father Jorge.
He has been heroically loyal to the Church's teaching on marriage and the right to life. And he has expressed those views strongly to the government.
On marriage, he has said: "Let's not be naïve; we're not talking about a simple political battle. It is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but, rather, a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."
He has also said: "At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God's law engraved in our hearts."
All of this puts Pope Francis in line among the most remarkable succession of popes in the modern history of the Church. From Pope Pius XII up to Blessed John Paul II, all the popes in between have had their causes for canonization officially opened. And who would bet against an eventual cause for Benedict XVI when he leaves this valley of tears for a better place?
This remarkable succession of popes is a cause for hope. But we must also remain realistic about the Church's mission in this new millennium.
The Church's mission, simply put, is to help as many people on earth to get to heaven as possible before the world is shut down and Jesus comes in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Two words are key to fulfilling the Church's mission: evangelization and holiness.
However, the Church is in the world — though not of the world — and joyfully plays its role in the charitable service of mankind and all races, all of whom are seen as children of God, regardless of their religious beliefs.
How appropriate that Pope Francis has chosen St. Francis of Assisi as his patron of his pontificate.
What can we expect from this pontificate?
Above all, continuity. I suspect we'll see a continuation from him with the two special popes who proceeded him in finally and forever putting into global practice the primary message of the Second Vatican Council that we are celebrating in this Year of Faith.
That message is the joyful universal call to holiness, not just for clergy or consecrated religious, but for every baptized Christian. And a holiness that is evangelical — in both words and deed — from men and women whose hearts have burned within them when they encountered the risen Christ.
Indeed, we are orphans no more. Pope Francis, lead your children in holiness and apostolic zeal!
First appeared on on March 15, 2013.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Today's Gospel Reading - Sunday, March 17, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Isaiah 43:16-21

P S A L M - Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
R: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
1 When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing. (R) Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed. (R) 4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the torrents in the southern desert. 5 Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. (R) 6 Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. (R)

2ND READING - Philippians 3:8-14

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.
John 8:1-11
1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 But early in the morning, he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to Him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. 4 They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. 7 But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. 10 Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”



The letter of the law is important as it describes the basis for any moral society. It is important that we try to understand the mind of the lawmaker if we want to understand the laws he has enacted. We will discover that behind every law is a story that explains its promulgation. There must be a good reason for a law, or else the law is useless as it will have little or no application. If we understand the reasons behind the enactment of a particular law, it will be easier for us to know how and when to apply the law and to what extent it can be applied literally.

Laws protect particular human goods, and the way that we express these goods can change over time. This implies that the way we express or understand specific laws may have to adapt to changing times and seasons as well.

Today, we are confronted with the issue of adultery. Marriage is an extremely important aspect of a functioning society. It is the basis of every family and it provides a firm set of relationships for the rearing of children. It needs to be taken seriously, or society will disintegrate. However, does a person who commits adultery need to be stoned to death? In a smaller society, it is arguable that the social consequences of adultery are more serious for their common good. If that is the case, then the smaller the society, the more serious the punishment for adultery is so as to protect the common good. But it is doubtful that it is necessary to execute adulterers even if the society is small.

Jesus’ message in the Gospel is one of mercy. Jesus encourages us to be merciful as we are all sinners and, thus, stand under the judgment of God. It is important that we seek to cultivate the virtue of mercy as we never know when we may be in need of it ourselves. I am sure we all want to avail of God’s mercy for us. Let us then practice mercy to those who sin against us. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you tend to either judge others or exercise mercy when they sin against you? Could you be more merciful in you relationships with others?
Lord Jesus, help me grow in my capacity to be merciful with others as I know that I have tested Your patience many times with my own repeated sinfulness.

St. Patrick, bishop, patron of Ireland and Nigeria, pray for us.

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