Brothers and Sisters, peace be with you!

I hope that each of you are having a wonderful Christmas season. I wanted to write to inform you that I will be taking this week off from updating my reflections on the blog. I will not be taking a break from reading and reflecting on the readings from mass, and I hope that you will not take a break from this as well. I will begin updating the blog again on Monday January 4, 2010.

I wish each of you a blessed Christmas season and a happy new year! May God bless you and your families this Christmas!


Canticle of Zechariah

Readings for Thursday December 24, 2009

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace." (Lk 1:67-79)

In today's gospel, we read the Canticle of Zechariah. Zechariah learned his lesson in trusting God the hard way, he lost his power of speech because he did not believe the angel when he told him that Elizabeth would bear a son in her old age. We see here from this canticle that Zechariah is clearly a new man, a man who truly believes with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. The funny thing is that Zechariah was a priest, so he probably new the scriptures inside and out, and it wasn't that he didn't have faith, it was just that he didn't believe with his whole heart. He was probably like many people and just going through the motions of life, and then when something miraculous appears before him, his heart is too hardened to even be moved by God's great gift.

As we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus tomorrow, I pray that we each learn a lesson from Zechariah and instead of having a closed heart to the Lord, we can open ourselves and to receive Jesus into our hearts and into our entire lives.

May the Holy Spirit fill each of us so that we too might glorify God and spread praise of Him throughout this world just as Zechariah did.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we thank you for your abundant love and mercy, help us to never stray from your goodness. Lord, you alone are the good and right thing for us to follow, help us to stay focused on you. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, may we never forget this and live our life as you would have us. We pray for all of our priests and religious, for strength in their vows and in their ministry. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Messenger of the Lord

Readings for Wednesday December 23, 2009

First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him." (Lk 1:57-66)

In today's readings we read about the coming of "the messenger of the Lord", John the Baptist. The prophet Malachi foretold his coming and how he was to prepare the way of the Lord. In the gospel reading we read of his birth and of his naming. The neighbors were all confused when Elizabeth wanted to name him John, but they were reduced to silence when Zechariah reinforced the name and then was given his speech back. All the neighbors and people of the area began asking "What then will this child be?" They could all see that there was something special about John, they just didn't quite know what it was.

The neighbors may not of known what John would become, but God did. In fact, God had even foretold his coming many years before through the prophet Malachi. But the truth is that God had a plan for John the Baptist since the beginning. God knew exactly how he would come into this world and the important mission He was giving to John. God's plan for John came about because Zechariah and Elizabeth came to trust and follow in God's will for them. John the Baptist understood and took on his mission in life, he knew his role and the things that God was asking. John was willing to go along with God's plan, He knew that was the right way and that there really was no other.

Today, we should all sit and ask ourselves; am I following God's plan for my life? Am I living out my purpose, or asking God to reveal this to me?

It is my firm belief that the only way that we will truly find peace and fulfillment in this life is by finding out God's purpose for us and by living out His plan for us.

May God bless you and your families during this Advent Season.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord help increase our faith so that we may be more obedient servants of you. Lord, help us to let go of the things of this world and to cling only to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Magnificat

Readings for Tuesday December 22, 2009

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

Today let us take time to read and reflect on the words of Mary in the Magnificat. Let us reflect on God's strength and might; and His faithfulness to those who serve Him. One final thought, if the blessed Mother took time to recognize and praise Him, shouldn't we do the same?

And Mary Said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."


Truth, brought to you by the Holy Spirit

Readings for Monday December 21, 2009

First Reading: Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Lk 1:39-45)

How refreshing Elizabeth's words must have been to Mary at this time. Here she was with the son of God in her womb, and she knew of course that no one would believe her. When she went to visit Elizabeth, however, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit was given the special insight into who the child was in Mary's womb. Elizabeth knew that she was blessed that Mary came to visit and knew that Mary was special because of her belief and her trust in God.

This scene that we read about in today's gospel reading is of course the visitation, the second joyful mystery that we meditate on during the Holy Rosary. I think that there are some key insights that we can take away from this mystery. One is that God will always send us signs that we are doing His will. They may be subtle or they may be quite obvious (as was the case for Mary), but He does send us these signs especially at times when we need them the most.

The other insight that we can take from this mystery is that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals truth about God and about our lives. In today's reading, Elizabeth had no prior knowledge about Mary and Jesus, but it was the Holy Spirit who revealed the truth about them to her. We too can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom that the Holy Spirit seeks to give each one of us. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can come to know Christ better in our lives and to know His truth.

As we come to the end of this Advent season, may we continue to grow closer to Jesus in both love and knowledge through the Holy Spirit. May we look to the great example of the Holy Family for the way in which we are to trust and follow God in our own lives.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you give to us and for all that you bless us with. Lord please send your spirit so that we may be full of zeal and life, and that we may come to know the truth about you more fully in our lives. Lord, we pray that your will be done in our lives and that we can humble ourselves before your greatness. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Actions speak louder than words

Readings for Friday December 18, 2009

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:5-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. (Mt 1:18-25)

In all of the gospels, we read about Mary's husband Joseph, but we never hear anything from him. No quotes, no anger or frustration, no canticle, not even a simple yes or no; not a peep. However, even though we do not have a great deal of insight into Saint Joseph through his words, we can tell a lot about this man from the way that we was described and by his actions. Being described as a righteous man, it was clear that Joseph was dedicated and loyal to God, but what really proved this was his obedience. Joseph, having been put in a situation that would be difficult for any man of any time period, found himself looking for answers. The Lord came to him in a dream and told him what it was that the Lord wanted him to do. Now did Joseph complain, question, or talk about the weird dream that he had the night before? Absolutely not, Joseph did exactly as the Lord had told him to do. Joseph didn't need to say anything, for in this instance his actions spoke louder than any words could have.

Each year, I gain a deeper respect and appreciation for Saint Joseph. Especially having a new family myself, I realize that as the man of the house God calls me to two main responsibilities in my family: to provide for and protect. In providing for my family, this is not just mean money, but also means giving of myself with my time and service to my wife and child. I need to not only provide for their physical needs, but also their emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs as well. In protecting my family, I must be on the lookout and always seeking to protect their health and their dignity. I must be fostering an environment where a spiritual life is strongly encouraged to protect us from being distracted in this world. This idea of men as the providers and protectors of their families is not one that should just be embraced by husbands and fathers, but by all men. It is the idea that we really should be seeking to protect the health and dignity of all women, and helping to provide for all those in need. Providing and protecting is one of the ways in which we fulfill our roles as men and truly be obedient to God.

From reading about Saint Joseph, I am very thankful to have this great example of a man who stepped up and fulfilled his responsibility as a man. So many men in this world do not do this, mostly because they never had anyone to show them how to be a husband and a father. Examples of real men may be rare, especially with how our culture likes to portray the stereotypical male. But it is important that we keep focused on what God calls us to be as men in this world, and to look to the examples like Saint Joseph.

May we always remember Joseph's example, that actions sometimes speak louder than words.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with and all that you give us. Lord you are so good to us and more than we ever deserve, help us to live for you and to have a heart that only seeks to be obedient to you in all areas of our life. Lord we pray for all families who are facing financial difficulty during this time. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


What's in a name?

Readings for Thursday December 17, 2009

First Reading: Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations. (Mt 1:17)

In today's gospel we read the genealogy of Jesus going all the way back to Abraham. The writer Matthew starts his gospel by showing that Jesus has the family history to be the Messiah. It is interesting how Matthew does this first, before even going into the life, death and resurrection of Christ; the first thing that he does is show the credibility of Christ. It is my understanding that family genealogy and history were important at that time, so it would make since that Matthew would include this in the beginning. Sometimes, even today, people want to know your background before they even open themselves up to you now; I imagine this concept was especially true of Matthew's time.

Many of us may skip over or breeze through reading this passage of the bible, I mean after all who just wants to read through a bunch of names, how is that going to help us? I used to feel that same way, but as I was going through a bible study last year and going over some of these sections which just listed name after name, I realized a few things: 1) It is important to know where we have been before we can know where we are going; 2) Each person in this world has a purpose; and 3) Going through the names/history is what helps us see how God's plan unfolded since the beginning. It is this last point that believe that we can draw a great deal of wisdom from. As we read through those names it is important to realize that between those generations there was a lot of time that had gone on and even many periods where people just lost hope; but even throughout all of the time and the tragedies, God still had a plan. Each day, each year, and each generation was one step closer to reaching the pinnacle of that plan ... the birth of the Messiah.

This advent season, let us remember and reflect on the fact that like God had a plan for His people throughout history, and He especially had a plan for those who were listed in the genealogy of Jesus. It is important for us to remember and trust that God has a plan for us as well, and even though we may not understand or completely see the big picture it is important to trust God who sees all things and can see the big picture in our lives and in the world.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you so much for all that you have given and all that you do. Lord, help us this advent season to grow in love and trust in you. We pray for all of our soldiers overseas who are away from their families right now, may they stay safe and return all for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Surpassing expectations

Readings for Wednesday December 16, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Luke 7:18-23

At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” When the men came to the Lord, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Lk 7:18-23)

Have you ever gone out to eat at a new restaurant with high expectations, and then after the meal you are just a little let down? It turns out that the meal just wasn't what you had in mind and that it just didn't meet the high expectations that you had originally had. Most of us have expectations about people and things, and there are times in life when the things that we had expectations about just don't meet those original ideas. This same scenario happened to John the Baptist.

In the gospels today, we read how after hearing about the things that Jesus was doing, and how he just wasn't quite sure if Jesus was the Messiah or not. It wasn't that He really doubted that Jesus was the Son of God, it was just that His tactics weren't what John had expected. John, like many people of the past had probably expected a kingly warrior type who would drive off the Romans and correct all the wrongs that were going on at the time. John just didn't understand why there wasn't a battle going on, or why there weren't any governments being overthrown. As it turns out, Jesus just wasn't what John expected. But like so many times in life, God has a plan that is beyond our expectations. John just did not know God's plan, He didn't understand how Christ came to preach forgiveness, heal people and to bring hope into this world. Christ did not come to destroy anything, but rather to build up. He came to give people a way to heaven, through His life, death and resurrection.

The fact is that we will never fully understand God's ways and His plans, all that we can do is trust in Him and to realize that His plans will always surpass our expectations.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we are able to do. Help us to be good stewards of all the gifts that you bring us and to trust in your will for us. Lord, we pray for all of our priests and religious, in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Obedience over Attitude

Readings for Tuesday December 15, 2009

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.” (Mt 21:28-32)

"NO!" When dealing with children, this is a word that we rarely tolerate. My daughter is only 9 months right now, but I do realize that the day will be coming soon when she will firmly plant her feet, look me in the eye and confidently say "NO" after being told to do something. I pray for when that day does come that the Lord will give me the patience that I need to not fly off the handle. But regardless of what her words are, the important things is that when she is asked to do something that she follows through with it. It is not as important if she is excited about doing it or not, but rather that she is obedient to me as a parent. Attitude can be worked on, much easier than obedience. For true obedience comes from love and respect.

When we feel that the Lord is calling us to do something, we may not be initially thrilled about it, and we may even vocalize that unwillingness to cooperate; but regardless of what our attitude is, it is important to always be obedient to God's will in our lives. In the gospel today, the first son had a bad attitude but was still obedient; and the second son had a wonderful attitude, but was not obedient. Which is better in God's eyes?

In our life, we cannot simply be someone who is cheery and talks a good game, but rather it is more important that we are obedient in all matters ... no matter how much grumbling we may do.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given to us, and to all that you call us to. Lord, help us to surrender all our own desires and wants and conform our will to yours. Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion and all those who do not have hope in this world, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Heart of a Learner

Readings for Monday December 14, 2009

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mt 21:23-27)

Isn't it amazing how God just doesn't swoop in and fix all of our problems and answer all of our questions, but rather helps us work out situations and helps us to find the right answers in His time? As frustrating as it is sometimes, I am glad that God doesn't just give me the answers to my problems, but He rather patiently takes me through the answer with prayer. I know when I am facing a difficult decision, and I take it to prayer God slowly begins to unravel the answer and helps me see it the way I should see it. By helping me work through a problem, I grow a lot more, much more than the times when I just make a quick decision based on what I think is best or what I want.

I find it amazing that in today's gospel, Jesus was trying to help the religious leaders find the correct answer by asking them a question. But by their response, it is clear that they are not interested in the truth, and they are not interested in learning what God has to teach them, for their response is purely a political one, and not one of those who are seeking the truth. Had they answered that John's baptism is of heavenly origin, (which it is clear that they knew, but just didn't want to look foolish) then that would have been a teachable moment for them. Jesus could have went on to tell them that all things come from God, and that the same origin of John's baptism is also the origin of His authority ... our Heavenly Father. But sadly this is not how the religious leaders responded to Jesus, and by not responding with humility and the heart of a learner, they were denied the answer and God's truth.

Jesus has something to teach each day, how will you respond to Him? I pray that each one of us is willing to humble ourselves and to take on the heart of a learner, instead of a hardened heart that is unwilling to listen.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, please increase our faith and our hope in you so that we will humble ourselves as your children. Lord, help us to do your will in this life and to be the people that you created us to be. We pray for all those in need of conversion and all those who are suffering in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Crossing the Goal Playbook

Catholic Book Review: Crossing the Goal: Playbook on the VIRTUES
By Danny Abramowicz, Peter Herbeck, Brian Patrick, and Curtis Martin

Last year I had the honor of attending a men's conference in Columbus, Ohio which was not like your typical men's conference. At this conference instead of just hearing the speakers, we actually got to witness and be a part of a live taping of EWTN's "Crossing the Goal." This is a show on EWTN for men, which has a "sportscenter" feel to it. It is interesting how at first glance this show looks as if it could be on ESPN, but instead of being a show for men about sports, it is a show for men about faith. The team of men that leads this show are: Danny Abramowicz, Peter Herbeck, Brian Patrick, and Curtis Martin. Danny is a former NFL receiver and NFL coach; Peter is VP and Director of Missions for Renewal Ministries; Brian Patrick is host of the Son Rise morning show on various catholic radio stations; and Curtis is President and Founder of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). The show takes on topics and issues facing men today, and gives great thoughts and practical advice for help in overcoming these issues.

I had the privilege of recently reading one of their supplemental workbooks ("Crossing the Goal: Playbook on the VIRTUES), which are designed to help reinforce some of the messages that go along with the show. It is not necessary for someone to watch the show in order to gain something from the book, as I do not watch the show myself (don't have cable or satellite; however I would certainly watch the show if I could). Now, even though I am not a regular viewer, I still found this book to be very thought provoking and valuable. I think that its beauty and strength is in its simplicity. The concepts are not deep theological theories, but rather realistic and practical. The writers clearly define and illustrate each virtue and discuss issues that threaten a man's ability to live out that particular virtue. Each chapter ends with a "coaching tip" which provides simple and practical advice for living out that virtue and growing in your relationship with the Lord. The book contains a chapter and discussion of each of the following virtues: Courage, Perseverance, Temperance, Wisdom, Justice, Faith, Hope, and Love.

I found that this book providing me with a greater understanding of each of the virtues and also got me thinking about many areas in my own life where I could use more help and do a better job living a life of virtue. I think that this book is perfect for anyone who is wishing to begin looking at the virtues and applying them in their own life. This book can be used by an individual or as part of a men's group. Having read this book, I can see how it would have great value in a men's group, as I believe the the topics discussed in this book could lead to great discussions among men. However you use this book, when working through it, it is important to ask the Holy Spirit to show you His truth and how you can apply these virtues in your own life.

The team at crossing the goal has done a fantastic job with this book, and I would strongly recommend this book to any man wishing to grow in his faith and to be the kind of man that God created him to be. Whether you watch the show or not, this book is another tool that can help you during this life, and it is another tool in this world which points to our ultimate destination ... heaven.

**For more information about the Catholic Company or Crossing the Goal: Playbook on the VIRTUES please feel free to click on one of the links below.



Readings for Friday December 9, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 48:17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” (Mt 11:16-19)

Have you ever noticed how much we are into labeling things? And I am not talking about your grocery store items. I am talking about how much we label people based on their actions or beliefs; and it seems that once there is a label, it can be hard to shake once it's there. How many times have we heard someone talking about big government or universal healthcare and immediately label that person a liberal? Christians who spread the word are often labeled as "Jesus freaks" or zealots. A kid at school who doesn't have the latest and most popular shoe may be labeled as poor. People who decide to practice chastity before marriage are thought of as prudes.

It seems as though labeling was also popular in Jesus' day as well. We read in the gospel today that John the Baptist was labeled as possessed, and Jesus was labeled as a glutton and a drunkard. What we must remember is that we should not be concerned what the world labels us, but rather what God labels us. Would you rather have a high profile and prestigious label while here on earth, or a place in heaven? If we are trying to define ourselves and make a place for ourselves while here on earth, then that is a road that doesn't not lead to heaven. Rather if our first priority is doing God's will and trying to reach heaven, then that is a road that leads to the glorious reward.

We must remember that earthly labels come and go, and it is not what other people know us as, but our biggest concern should be how God labels us. If we do not have the label of God's good and faithful servants, then we are not doing the things that we should be.

Do not let the world define you, but rather let God make you into the person that you were created to be.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given and all that you do. You are so good to us, and all that we have comes from you. Help us not to take this life for granted and may we always be seeking your will. Lord, we all need your help, we want to be with you in heaven, but we cannot make it there without you. Help us to persevere in this life until our time is done. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


A long way to go

Readings for Thursday December 10, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Mt 11:11-15)

Today we find out that John the Baptist is Elijah, the one who is to come and prepare the way of the Lord. John was a great prophet, even Jesus Himself says so. The Lord uses great messengers throughout the scriptures to deliver His messages and to help spread the good news and hope that is found in the Lord. God even to this day uses messengers to deliver powerful messages that each of us seem to hear at a timely point in our lives. I have been to some great conferences and speakers and heard some wonderful talks of powerful Catholic speakers. Many times when hearing these speakers it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time; God's timing is always good. But God has sent messengers into my life not just at conferences, but also daily; my wife, friends, family, etc. And who could forget about our priests who deliver God's message at every mass, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and any other times we need them. God's messengers are out there delivering His words and doing His will each and every day, and it is always for the sake of the Kingdom.

But regardless of how great these messengers are, because they are on earth, they still fall short of the glory of heaven. Even a great prophet like John the Baptist was considered below the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is an important reminder that no matter how successful we may be here on earth, we still have a long way to go. And no earthly successes can ever put us above those in the Kingdom of Heaven. Our greatest success in life will be the day that God allows us into His Kingdom where we can spend eternity with Mary our Blessed Mother, all the saints and the angels basking in God's love and praise Him and worshiping Him at all times. That is the day in which we will truly find success.

So let us remember that God sends many messengers in our lives, and if we are paying attention, we might just hear what God is saying to us. But regardless of how great we think these messengers are or how greatly we think of ourselves; we all still have a long way to go. For no matter how Holy we are here on earth, we are still below even the least in the Kingdom of heaven.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for the many blessings in our lives. Thank you for all that you give and all that you do. I pray that we can surrender our will to you, to let go of all the things that we cling to on this earth. Lord, help us to let go of worldly things and to just cling to you. We pray for all those in need of conversion and all those seeking hope in this world, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Soar with eagles wings

Readings for Wednesday December 9, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Do you not know or have you not heard? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

This passage from Isaiah is a wonderful reading about where our strength really comes from. I have often used and reflected on this passage while running. It has really helped to motivate me and to keep me focused during my workouts and during some races. This passage also puts many things in perspective, because we must realize that the source of our strength and abilities is not us or anything that we have done, but rather it is all from God. When running, I realize that nothing is impossible with God, and no matter how much I am hurting or think that I can't go on, I know that if I trust and rely on Him I can get through anything. To this day there isn't a race that I haven't finished, and all glory and honor be to God for that!

What I have learned from using this passage during running, is that the same principles apply to the rest of our lives as well. There are times when we just want to give up, when things seem so hard and almost unbearable, and we do not think that we are going to get through challenges and hardships; it is in these moments that we must realize that if we are willing to surrender, trust and rely on Christ, then there isn't anything that He cannot get us through. The prophet Isaiah tells us today that "God does not grow faint or weary" and those who put their hope in Him will not either.

"They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint." (Is 40:31)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given each of us. Lord we know that your strength and knowledge is unlimited, and we pray that we will be always mindful of you and that we will rely on you at all times. Lord, help us to let go of our pride and the things of this world, and to embrace you and your will for us. We pray for all those who do not have hope, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Immaculate Conception

Readings for Tuesday December 8, 2009

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. (Eph 1:3-6, 11-12)

Brothers and Sisters, today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Queen. In today's readings we see God's plan for Mary unfold, from the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve to the Annunciation, where Mary said her great yes to the Lord. We see that even from the beginning that God had a plan for us and that no matter what wrong our original parents did, the Lord had a plan for us to still have a way to Him. We read today from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, that from the beginning of time, God had a plan for our salvation, and for each one of us. From this letter, we should realize that each of us has a purpose in this life, that purpose is to love the Father with all our heart and to do His will in our lives. For we can only find fulfillment and happiness when we have conformed our will to His.

In Paul's letter, we realize that each of us has a purpose, and so did our Blessed Mother. Mary was given the grace by God to be born without sin so that she could fulfill her purpose of bringing the savior of all of us into this world. Her purpose was to love Him, and care for Him, and to be His greatest disciple while on earth. Yet, even having done all those things, God still has a purpose for Mary, and to this day her purpose is to lead each one of us to her son, Jesus.

Mary was called by God to be the mother of Christ, this was His plan from the beginning. On the cross, Jesus gave her to all of us to be our mother as well.

During this season of Advent, may we all ask for the blessed mother's intercessions and to be lead even closer to her son.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be a world without end. Amen.


Healing begins with Forgiveness

Readings for Monday December 7, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Luke 5:17-26

But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” (Lk 5:19-26)

In today's gospel, we read of the healing of the paralytic. There is so much that we can take out of this story, the pharisees disbelief in Christ's power, the perseverance of the friends, the sheer miracles that Jesus performs; but the thing that I find the most interesting is how before Jesus heals the man, He forgives him of his sins first. When reading this, it got me thinking about something, is it important that we are first forgiven before healing can take place? I think that most things have a natural order, and I think that it only makes since that before we being healing from a life of sin, that we must be forgiven first.

If we want to heal from any sort of emotional or spiritual hurt or pain, the first step is either to forgive or be forgiven. If there is no forgiveness, then healing cannot take place. Forgiveness is such a powerful gift, one that is freely given by God to man. Jesus came into this world to not only heal and teach us, but to give us freedom from sin through mercy and forgiveness. But if we fail to realize why Jesus came into this world and to recognize that He truly does forgive us for all of our sins; then if we fail to realize these two important things, then healing cannot begin.

Ask yourself today, is there something that I am sorry for that I need to say I'm sorry and ask for God's forgiveness? Is there someone in my life that I have been hurt by that I am having trouble forgiving? Jesus is our perfect model, if He can forgive, then all of us can and should forgive; it is the only way that healing can begin for anybody. If you are having trouble finding the grace to forgive, ask God for the strength.

Healing begins with forgiveness.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give and all that you bless us with each and every day. Lord, you are so good to us, help us to live a life that honors and glorifies you. We pray for the wisdom to know and carry out your will. We pray for all those in need of conversion in their hearts. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Friday December 4, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. (Mt 9:27-31)

Today we read about the healing of the two blind men who called out to Jesus asking for pity. Most of us have read and heard this story before, and many of us would agree that this was one of the many miracles that Jesus performed during His earthly life. Instead of taking the traditional route and talking about what a great miracle this was and the awesome healing power of God, I would like to pose a question in regards to this scenario: Why did Jesus heal these two men?

Often times we look at what has happened, and we don't even think about the why. In this story we are not told of the blind men's background, so we are not sure if they did anything to deserve this. Although we do not know, we can assume that nothing that we can do here on earth is ever deserving of such a miracle. Why else would Christ cure these two men? Perhaps He was showing off? That is also doubtful, especially since Jesus is God and He models perfect humility; and He also told these two men not to tell anybody. So if it wasn't anything they did or to show boat, then what was it? My guess is that it was because of two reasons ... love and mercy.

Jesus does not have to do anything for us, He does so out of love and mercy. He is God, and God is love, so therefore His why is because of love. He wishes to pour out that love to us, His children, who have done nothing to deserve this love, but because He is rich and abundant in love He chooses to have mercy on each of us. All He asks from us is to have faith and believe.

Jesus works wonders in our lives each and every day out of love. This same love is the reason why He died on the cross for our sake.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you and praise you so much for the great gifts in our lives. Lord, help us during this life. We need you so much, and we cannot do this without you. Lord, increase our faith so that we may never stray from you. Keep us humble and wise, knowing what your will for us is. Thank you for all that you give and all that you do. We do not deserve all of your love and mercy, but each day you pour it out on us, help us to never forget this. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Solid Rock

Readings for December 3, 2009

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest

First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118
Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Mt 7:24-27)

In today's gospel, Jesus likens those who hear His words and acts on them to two men who built their homes on different foundations. The wise man built his home on solid rock, and when that house was tested it was able to stand the challenges that it faced. The foolish man however built his house on sand, that when that house faced hardship, it blew away. Now I am no construction worker or anything, but even I have enough sense to know that you do not build a house on the sand. While we may not build ourselves physically on anything that is unstable, but what about spiritually? Are we building our spiritual lives on unstable things?

The foolish man who built his house on the sand, probably was not thinking about his future. He was probably only thinking about getting a beach front property. He was not thinking if what he was building his physical dwelling on would be able to stand any hardships and if that house would even last. We do the same thing in our spiritual lives, we place a lot of focus and trust in earthly things; things which are not stable. Sometimes we build ourselves up on our work, our positions, other people, money, prestige, our own beliefs, etc. But each of these things are not stable, and can quickly be blown away. The one thing that is always a sure thing in this world is Christ. It is Christ and His truth that we should build our spiritual lives off of. If we do this, then we can live a life of joy and peace knowing that no matter what hardships come into our life, we can weather those, because we are built upon a solid rock.

The prophet Isaiah today reminds us of the stability found only in the Lord: "Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock." The Lord has been and always will be a stable foundation from which we should build our lives off of. He is the one thing that will never let us down or never abandon us, all praise and honor be to Him!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our rock and our salvation; may we always live a life that is worthy of your calling. Lord, help us not to be distracted from the world, help us to stay focused on you and your will for our lives. We pray for all those who are building their house in the sand, may they find their peace and joy in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


There will be a day

Readings for Wednesday December 2, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, The web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain. (Is 25:6-10)

As I read this passage from Isaiah today, I am reminded of a song by Jeremy Camp. The song is called "There will be a day", and the main chorus goes like this:

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more,
we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

This is a beautiful song about the hope that is brought through from Christ. Just as Isaiah brought hope to the people of Israel during their difficult times, we too must remember the words of Isaiah during our most challenging and darkest times. No matter how difficult things may get for us, we must remember that it is only temporary, and if we are will to hang in their with God until the end, then when we finally reach heaven, all the pain, the despair, the troubles will all be gone. Jesus came into this world for us, so that we might have life everlasting, and in an often unsure world, Christ is the one thing that we can always count on.

During this season of Advent, let us all reflect on what Jesus came here to do ... lead us to something better.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given us and thank you for leading us to you in an eternal life in heaven. We are not deserving of all that you give us, but you choose to have mercy on us and to love us unconditionally anyways. We pray for all those in need of conversion, and may during this Advent season we all have a deeper love and understanding of you and our faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lions eating hay?

Readings for Tuesday December 1, 2009

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Luke 10:21-24

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Is 11:6-10)

Cows and bears as neighbors, kids playing by cobra's dens, lions eating hay like the ox ... kind of sounds like animal planet meets the twilight zone. And exactly what would cause such a drastic change in behavior of these animals? In today's passage from Isaiah we read about the stump of Jesse; and Jesse as we know is king David's father. We also know that Jesus is from the line of David, so today's passage from Isaiah is giving us great insight into the types of change that Jesus is going to bring into our world.

During this season of Advent, we reflect and prepare for the Lord's coming into this world as an infant. When Jesus came, and even still to this day He is changing things in our world, but the truth is that we haven't seen anything yet. There is still much more to come, even things that we think are impossible (such as a wolf and lamb hanging out). One day the root of Jesse will come back into this world and call all those who belong to the kingdom. And as crazy as some of these passages may sound, we would all do well to believe in Him and in His great power and glory.

Things like the calf and young lion browsing together may seem impossible, but one thing that we always need to remember that is with God, nothing is impossible.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our lives, Lord forgive us for the many times which we have taken these things for granted. Lord, help us during this advent season to prepare for you, may we rid ourselves of the things of this world and seek nothing more than your will. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Blessed are those who hear!

Readings for Monday November 30, 2009

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

First Reading: Romans 10:9-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. (Mt 4:18-22)

In today's gospel, we read about the calling of the first disciples, among those was Andrew. Today specifically we celebrate his feast day and honor him for his love and dedication of the Lord. I think that after reading about Andrew and the other apostles that were called, we should find great comfort in our own calling to the Lord. Many times we feel inadequate in the things that we feel the Lord is calling us to. But we must remember that when Jesus called those first disciples, He wasn't looking in the schools and the palaces for the most educated or most experiences men. Jesus called His first disciples while walking along the beach. He called fishermen and tax collectors. Jesus wasn't looking for the world's best and brightest (and this is obvious in His choices), He was looking for those who would hear His voice and listen.

Saint Paul tells us today that; "Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." (Rom 10:17) Saint Andrew and the other Apostles were picked because they heard the voice of Christ and listened; they had faith in Him who came into this world for us. When called for His purpose, they went; even if they didn't fully understand at the time, they still went with Him. We can say what we want about the disciples in their early years of following Christ, but it takes a lot of faith to leave everything and everyone you know behind to follow Him. Saint Andrew and the other apostles in today's gospel are excellent examples of surrendering the things of this world and following the Lord, may we all be blessed with same type of courage in our own lives.

If faith comes from what is heard, then blessed are those who hear our Lord Jesus Christ!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to hear you and to know you more. Lord, as we go along in this season of advent, help us to gain a better understanding of this time and of your coming into this world for us. Lord, may we grow in faith, hope and love of you during this time. We pray for all those in need of conversion, may the season of advent draw them closer to your love and your truth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Hello Brothers and Sisters!

I hope that each of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Each of us has so much to be thankful for, for we are each blessed by the mighty hand of God. May each of us realize all of His great blessings in our lives and may we give thanks to the Lord above, not only this day but each day of our lives.

May God bless you and your families this Thanksgiving Day!


Trials and Persecution

Readings for Wednesday November 25, 2009

First Reading: Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:62
Gospel: Luke 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Lk 21:12-19)

I have to admit, when I read passages like the one from today's gospel, regarding being handed over and put to death, it is a bit scary. Even though it is hard to imagine this, I do take comfort in Christ's words, "not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives." I am comforted by the fact that I can trust in God, and that I should not worry about what the world may do to me, but rather worry about a life without Him. And when we are faced with these trials, we should rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom and the guidance that we need.

It is not so much death that I fear, but rather leaving people and things behind. But then in these moments I quickly remember that I am really not losing anything, but rather I am gaining so much more.

The question is not "if" we will face trials and persecution, but rather the question is "when" will we face them. May we all be granted courage when faced with trials and persecution, and may we all rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us even when we are the most afraid.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to trust in you with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Lord, give us the strength and courage to face whatever it is that you call us to. We pray for all of our priests and religious; may they be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Nothing lasts forever

Readings for Tuesday November 24, 2009

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs

First Reading: Daniel 2:31-45
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:57
Gospel: Luke 21:5-11

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Lk 21:5-6)

When it comes to things of this world, they all cannot past one simple test ... the test of time. It doesn't matter what it is, everything has a point where it eventually comes to an end. Nothing on this earth lasts forever, and this certainly includes us. But we do try to act like we can make things last forever. A great example is our youth. How much money is spent on anti-wrinkle creams, hair dying products, facial scrubs, weight loss pills, etc; all in the effort to keep a youthful appearance. Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with using these products, but it is a good illustration of how we are always trying to hold on to things. And it is certainly not just things of our own body that we are concerned with, there are many things that we cling to like they will last forever. Some people cling to cars, houses, and other material things. Some people cling to people and relationships. The truth is that none of these things will last forever, and while it is okay to enjoy these things while we are here on earth, we must understand that there is much more in store for us at the end of time.

In today's gospel, Jesus tells the people that even the temple will not last forever, and even the sacred temple will be destroyed. Jesus tells the people that not one stone will be left upon another and that all will be thrown down. Jesus shows the people that all earthly things are not meant to last. This is the same message that we get from the first reading in the book of Daniel today. When Daniel was interpreting the king's dream, he showed how each of the kingdoms of the earth will come to an end and that they will be replaced by a heavenly kingdom that is of God. We of course know this to be the kingdom that Jesus would establish. But it is clear from the readings today that the things of this earth will one day come to an end, and will be replaced with the good things of God.

The intent of this blog post is certainly not to depress anybody, but rather to get us thinking with an eternal perspective. It is okay to realize that nothing on this earth will last, because there is something more and much better in store for us. May we all thank and praise the God above for preparing a place for each of us in His eternal kingdom!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we know that you are our King and our Lord, help us to serve you as we are each called to. Lord, help us to surrender to you each moment of each day, so that we can do your will in this life. Lord, you alone are our God and we are your people. We pray for all of our brothers and sisters who have fallen away from their faith, may they come back home and into your arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Hold nothing back!

Readings for Monday November 23, 2009

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

First Reading: Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Lk 21:1-4)

In all my years of playing sports, the only regrets that I had ever felt were from the times that I didn't feel as though I was giving it my all. There were times when I was just having an off day, and for whatever reason I was just dogging it. I would especially feel this during a game time situation where I felt as though I took a play off, or just wasn't focused on what I was doing. I can tell you the practices and games where I gave all of my energy and my very best (regardless of the score) were the times that I truly felt like a winner. My coaches often referred to this as "leaving it all on the field." Meaning that while playing the sport we would give all that we had, our entire focus, energy, passion, strength, everything; we would leave it all on the field, if we did that then we would be winners.

This idea of giving our very best and not slacking off in life, seems to be grounded in some truth. Think about it, how many times do you regret giving your very best at something? Now, how many times do you regret the times that you have held back? We spend so much time looking back at missed opportunities and missed chances that perhaps we never took or never gave our best at. Most people do not regret giving their best in life, because there is a sense of accomplishment that comes along with this, there is the feeling and idea of knowing that you did not hold back regardless of the outcome.

In today's gospel we read of a poor widow who also did not spend her life holding back. This woman in her poverty gave all that she had, you could say that she "left it all on the field." While her contribution did not have the monetary value that the others did, her bold move was certainly noticed by Christ. This is what Jesus asks of us every day, not to hold back from Him, to give Him all of what we have, not just a little bit. We must remember that Jesus did not hold back anything for us, not even a single drop of blood. Christ poured out Himself totally for us, and this is the model of which we should follow.

One day, when our time here on earth is all finished, do you want to meet Jesus with no regrets, knowing you gave your all, and left it all on the field? Or, are you okay living with the regret knowing that you held back?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for our lives and the great opportunities that you call all of us to. Lord, you love us so much, and your sacrifice for us was so great; help us to surrender and sacrifice for you as you did for us. We pray that your will be done, that we will seek what you want in all things in our life, that you will take us and lead us to where we are meant to be. We pray for all those in need of conversion, and for all those seeking true love and peace in their lives; may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Cleansing the Temple

Readings for Friday November 20, 2009

First Reading: 1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Chronicles 29:10
Gospel: Lk 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them,“It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. (Lk 19:45-47)

In today's readings, we read about two different times that the temple was cleansed of the things and people who defiled it. Jesus went in and drove out those who were treating it as a market rather than the house of God. I think that today's readings give us a good reminder that we are to treat those things that are holy and of God with the proper respect and reverence that they deserve. Today is a good day to think about how do we conduct ourselves when we enter the house of the Lord. If you are like me, perhaps when you are on your way to mass your are running so late that the only thing you are concerned about is rushing in and finding a seat. But I know that this is the house of God and that Jesus himself is in their, I think that each of us would do well to examine how we treat the house of God.

As a final though for the day, not only should we be showing respect and reverence for the church, but also for the other temple of God ... our bodies. Saint Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians; "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God which you are, is holy." (1 Cor 3:16-17) So today, let us also reflect on how we treat our own bodies, our own temples of God. Are we honoring Him by what we are putting into our bodies? Are we careful of the music, movies, TV shows, conversations, and other things that we let into our minds? Are we asking God each day to rid us of the sin and to fill our hearts only with Him?

May we all remember to treat God's temples with the respect and reverence of which they deserve.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, please forgive us for the times that we have not shown reverence for the church or for our own bodies, which are all your dwelling places. Lord help us to do what is please to you and to only fill our hearts and minds with the things that are good and Holy. We pray for all of our youth and for their dignity. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday November 19, 2009

First Reading: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Luke 19:41-44

As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu. (1 Mc 2:23-26)

If you have not read the entire book of Maccabees, I would strongly recommend it. Being a Catholic convert, we did not have the book of Maccabees in our bible (my old protestant bible was a bit lighter without those other book), so I never had heard any of the stories from this book until I came home to the church. The first time I ever read this book I thought it was so exciting, here you have this guy Mattathias who refuses to obey the kings orders and abandon God's ways. As soon as he sees another Jew obey the king instead of God, Mattathias goes absolutely crazy. The scripture says that "he was filled with zeal." I got to tell you, that kind of zeal is exciting, because obviously at that time not only disobeying the king's orders, but also taking out the Israelite who disobeyed God and the king's guys, now I am sure that Mattathias knew that there would be serious consequences because of that. But Mattathias didn't care about what could happen to him, he only cared about following where God was leading him.

We too like Mattathias and his sons are in a cultural war, where we are asked to maybe do things that go against our beliefs and God's ways. There is also increasing pressure from outside forces that seek to attack things that we hold so dear, such as the dignity of human life and the Sacrament of marriage. We must ask the Lord for the same type of zeal that was given to Mattathias, the kind of zeal to make bold moves in this life. Now, please do not think that I am saying that we should go out like Mattathias and kill people, that is not exactly what I am saying. I am saying that the zeal of the Lord can help us to stay strong against these many battles that we face on a daily basis. They can help us to stay strong against these current threats that we face and be zealous over God's ways.

May we all be granted zeal to share the faith and to stay strong against the challenges in this life.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that we have and all that we are given. We pray for the zeal and courage to go out and do your will each day. Lord, help make your path for us clear so that we may only do what is pleasing to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Well Done!

Readings for Wednesday November 18, 2009

First Reading: 2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 17
Gospel: Luke 19:11-28

“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’ (Lk 19:12-17)

Today's gospel parable is one of my favorites, because it contains a beautiful phrase. Upon his return, the king finds out how the servants did with trading his money. The first one answers saying that he took the one coin and earned ten additional coins. Then the king says that phrase that I just simply love ... "Well done, good servant!" The reason I love this phrase so much is because these are the words that I long to hear after my time here on earth is through. I pray everyday for the strength and courage to follow the Lord, and I know that by doing so I can stand before our King and hopefully hear those amazing words, "Well done, good servant!"

We each have gifts that God has given to each of us. We are to use those gifts to glorify our creator. Now, it cant certainly be a scary thing at times to use our gifts because they might take a great deal of courage and trust in God. But we should have the courage of the mother form today's first reading (Mc 7:1,20-31). This woman was not afraid to sacrifice herself or her family, for she stayed strong under persecution and trusted in God completely. Following God's plan and using our gifts from Him as we should is certainly challenging, but it is truly the only way that we can find peace and fulfillment in this life. By doing so, then one day we can can hear those beautiful words ... "Well done, good servant!"

Father above, we thank you an praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for the gifts that you have given us in this life, help not to waste them but rather use them for your glory. Lord, give us the strength to persevere in this life and to do your will. Lord, we pray for all those who do not know you and for all those who are in need of conversion. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The little tax collector

Readings for Tuesday November 17, 2009

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, religious

First Reading: 2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 3
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Lk 19:4-10)

I have always enjoyed the story of Zacchaeus the little tax collector. I admire his determination and persistence in seeing Jesus. I am amazed at how quick he came to repent and to do penance for the things he had done. It is clear that Zacchaeus wasn't truly a bad person at heart, he was simply without hope. This man probably didn't even have a strong reason to live a good life, who even knows what motivated him before he met Jesus. I am willing to bet that Zacchaeus was driven by money and greed like most of the other tax collectors at the time. But while he may have given in to the greed, it is clear that this is not what was in Zacchaeus' heart.

I think that it is amazing the changes that can happen once the hope of Christ is introduced into someone's life. Today, when Jesus accepted Zacchaeus, his heart was instantly converted. Zacchaeus had found the hope that he was so desperately searching for, and was he willing to go any distance or climb any height (or tree) just catch a glimpse of it. Like the story of Zacchaeus, we have many great examples in the bible and of the saints that show how much the hope of Christ can change us and lead us to eternal life.

Zacchaeus shows us today the power that hope can bring in our lives, may we never lose the hope of Christ which is the fuel of our faith.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord, may we always place our hope and our trust in you; may we always seek first to serve and honor you in all that we do. We pray for all of our priests and religious, may they be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday November 16, 2009

First Reading: 1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God. (Lk 18:35-43)

One thing that I cannot stand is a naysayer. A naysayer is usually a pessimist, someone who is always trying to rain on someone else's parade and tell them that something can't be done. Many of us have probably went to school with or even worked with a naysayer. Some of us probably even have naysayers in our own families. In today's gospel, the blind man by the road was surrounded by naysayers. He called out to Jesus, but all they did was rebuke him and tell him to be quiet. This could have been a discouraging moment in the blind man's life, but instead of listening to the naysayers, he chose to have courage and call out to Jesus even more.

The blind man teaches us today that we should not listen to the naysayers around us, but we should rather instead focus on Christ. We should not listen to other people when they tell us that it is silly or a waste of time to follow God, instead we should follow Him all the more. We should not listen to people who tell us something is impossible, but we should know that with God all things are possible. In this world we will always encounter naysayers, and it can be very discouraging to hear negativity coming from all directions, but as long as we keep focused on Christ and never stop calling out to Him then He will guide our path and make things clear for us.

I pray that like the blind man, we may all be given the great gift of sight, in order to see God working in our lives and to see His great blessings that have been given to us all. I pray that He will help us to see clearly, and to ignore the naysayers of this world.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day. Lord, you are so good to us, and we are very thankful for your great love and mercy. Lord, help us to see, help us to have courage in this world so that we may do your will without giving up. We pray for all of those in the military, may your hand guide and protect them in all that they do. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Diagnosis Critical

Catholic Book Review: Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare, By Leonard J. Nelson, III

This is a long over due book review ... having a new baby, moving, and starting a new job will tend to do that to you. The book Diagnosis Critical, by Leonard J. Nelson, III; takes a look at issues and challenges facing Catholic Healthcare Institutions. The book came out earlier this year, and it seems to be very timely, especially in light of the many future challenges that we are facing with the new administration and the democratically controlled congress. This book is also very timely in regards to the the current health care debate, which is a focus in a few chapters of this book.

This book covers and is broken into the following sections:
  1. The Moral Foundations of Catholic Health Care
  2. Catholic Identity
  3. The Struggle to Maintain Catholic Identity
  4. Catholic Health Care and Conscientious Objection
  5. End-of-Life Issues
  6. Social Justice and Health Care Reform
While this book provides a very detailed and informative background on Catholic Health Care in the US, as well as it's information in regards to moral foundations and ethics; I believe that the strength of this book lies in it's coverage of current issues. Nelson does a good job of discussing current issues such as end of life issues, especially in terms of provided the case study of Terri Schiavo. His discussion of social justice issue and health care reform couldn't be any more timely. He provides good information in regards to what health care reform should look like and how a government run health care option could pose a potential threat to Catholic Health Care Institutions that wish to keep a strong Catholic Identity. Nelson also shows how a bigger role for government may lead to Catholic Institutions being forced to provide services that go against the Catholic Church's strong teaching of life issues.

In light of the new administration and other forces seeking to expand certain "reproductive rights" and "end of life care", it is clear that Catholic Health Care Institutions will be faced with continued pressure and other difficult decisions. If legislation and policies lead to laws that require institutions to provide such services, the Catholic Health Care institutions will be faced with the possibility of closing, losing funding, changing focus and services, and many other challenges and difficult decisions. These important institutions provide great services to their communities and to all those involved, it is so important that we as the "Church Militant" stay informed and active in events that have the potential to affect our health care institutions.

While this book provides great information and great thoughts in regards to the future of Catholic Health Care Institutions, I believe that this book best serves as a resource for those wishing to stay informed. Leonard J. Nelson, III does a thorough job of covering the threats confronting our Catholic Health Care Institutions, and this book comes at a great time as our religious institutions are under great attack.

**For more information about the Catholic Company or Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare please feel free to click on one of the links below.


Let Go

Readings for Friday November 13, 2009

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin

First Reading: Wisdom 13:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Luke 17:26-37

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. (Lk 17:33)

"Let Go." These are the words that came to mind as I read the gospel today. It is so hard for us just to let go of the things in our life, many time we are trying to make things last forever or try to preserve them best we can. Think about how much money is spent on diet pills or machines that promise the perfect "six pack" abs? How much money is spent on anti-wrinkle cream, lotions, and other renewal products? We are told today that whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I would ask what is it that we are trying to preserve? We all know that this life is just a temporary residence; and the question isn't if we will die, but it is rather when we will die. Our time here on earth is meant to be spent serving and sacrificing for the Lord. If we are willing to lose our life to Him, then in the end we will save it.

Today we remember Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. She was an Italian born saint who as a child had always dreamed of going to China to serve. But this dream hit a major speed bump when two convents would not accept her because of her health. Frances then went to serve in an orphanage, where her and a few other women decided to take vows. Frances was then asked by the bishop to begin her own congregation of missionary nuns, so they formed the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. While the dream of China was still on her mind, it was clear that God has another direction for her ... America. Pope Leo the XIII asked that she go to America instead. So Frances (or Mother Cabrini) decided to head west instead of east. In America she became a great help and friend to the Italian immigrants there; and her and her sisters opened up schools, hospitals, and orphanages. Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini is a great example to us for the persistence and trust that she displayed in her life, it is a great example of letting go and losing oneself to the Lord.

When we let go and lose our self to the Lord; we are not losing in life, but rather winning in the end.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you and praise you for all the many blessings in our life. Lord, help us to just let go, to follow you where ever you lead us to. We praise you for your glory and may we never lose our trust and hope in you. We pray for all those who are in need of conversion and your unending love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lighthouse Catholic Media CD of the Month Club