Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pope Francis and 3 million of his closest friends

A great article about the Pope's Mass in Brazil. (From The Washington Post)

Homily for Sunday, July 28

Given on Saturday, July 27 (5pm) and Sunday, July 28 (7 & 8:45am)

Click here for the Scripture Readings.

Preaching about Prayer is a lot like trying to fix 10 pounds of rocks in a 5 pound back. It's often hard to do. So, what I'd like us to do today is just stroll around a little bit and maybe the Lord will speak in our hearts.  I'd like to talk about prayer by connecting three different people: Jesus, Woody Allen and The Rolling Stones.  Here we go!

There's an image in the Book of Revelation that Jesus uses, speaking through John the Evangelist, to encourage people to come to the waters fo Baptism and become a disciple. The image comes from the third chapter of the Book of Revelation and it's of Jesus standing at a door, knocking. The lines reads: "Behold I stand at the door knocking. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter and dine with them." The word dine is somewhat of a euphemism: it means that Jesus will have an intimate encounter with the one who opens the doors for Him. This is the first image for our prayer this week: Jesus standing at our door, knocking. He is standing at the door of our hearts, our lives, our relationships, our marriages, our families, our fears, our doubts, our anxieties, our temptations and even our sins. He stands there knocking and waits for us to open to Him. The opening my friends, is prayer. The minute we transcend our selves and reach out time Him, this is prayer. Prayer is transcending the selves and having receiving from Him that which we can not give to ourselves. Jesus IS the answer to our prayers, all our prayers.

But we have to turn to Him every day and seek from Him that which our heart yearns.  Woody Allen is quoted as saying, 99% of life is just showing up. That might be true, but not when it comes to prayer. Prayer, according our Catechism of the Catholic Church, is a response to God. In other words, we are responsible for 1% and God the other 99%. If we make ourselves available to God, everyday, to spend a few moments in silent and solitary prayer, if we give Him our 1%, He WILL provide the other 99%. Wherever you are on the prayer spectrum, whether you're a daily pray-er; a good prayer; or you don't pray at all; no is the time to delve into an interior Life with God. Now is the time, Jesus is inviting us to enter into a deep relationship with Him in prayer. So, where do I start? I'd offer one suggestion. If you're just starting out praying, try this: read today's Gospel reading everyday for the next 6 days. Read it once; pick out a word or phrase that stirs in your heart and then just sit with it for about 10 minutes. Turn your mind and heart to God and God-ly things and allow Him to work in your heart for 10 minutes each day.  I promise you, those moments will not be wasted.

The last thing I know about prayer is that prayer is less about me telling God what I want, and more about God shaping my heart to desire what He wants to give me. He knows what we need. The question is, do I? So what do we need to be the people God wants us to be? What do we need in our relationships, our marriages, our relationships, our jobs. What do we need to embrace ever more deeply our vocations and our discipleship.  What do I need? And are my needs the same things that God wants to give me: the things that a Father wants to give to His children.  In other words, to paraphrase the Rolling Stones: you can't always get what you want; no you can't always get what you want; no you can't always get what you want; but if you PRAY sometimes, you just might find, you get what you NEED!! Ahh yeah!


Friday, July 26, 2013

An article on Religious Freedom

From today's Wall Street Journal.  A very good article on the essence of Religious Freedom.

Click here.

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for today's Scripture Readings

Our Psalm tells us today that the Words of the Lord bring Life into the world and also promise us Eternal Life. As we reflect upon God's Word today; and as we reflect about all the things that the Word calls us to do and be and sacrifice and offer, let's remember that the Word and the Acts of Love and Service and Sacrifice that flow from there are meant to give us Life, and as Jesus says in John's Gospel, give us Life abundantly.

Click here for information about Saints Joachim and Anne.  And here for even more.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for today's Scripture readings.

Notice the way in which the Father provides for his children. He gives them their daily portion of bread. And notice that when we pray the "Our Father" we ask for our "daily bread". This is the great reality in which we live: the Father gives to us each what we need.

This then is our point for prayer: as we go about our day to today, as we live out our vocation and find ourselves with the people, and in the circumstances we will, let us recognize that the Father will give to us exactly what we need to encounter and engage with those people and circumstances. He gives to us through this Eucharist and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that which we need to do and be today.

Let's be confident throughout the day, even if the day grows long and difficult, that the Lord has provided to us that which we need. He has done it today; and He will do it tomorrow.


Today's Saint: Saint Sharbel Makhluf

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Homily from Sunday, July 21

Click here for Sunday readings.

Google tells me that the city of Las Vegas is 158 square miles and has 1.9 million residents. I've never been to Vegas but people who have tell me that it's something to behold. And if there is one word that summarizes their experience, it's overwhelming.  Between the lights and sounds, bounty of food and drink, all the entertainment, it's overwhelming they say. They say that there's, "A lot to do in Vegas."  There's a lot to do, plenty to do. So, if you're looking for something to do, go to Vegas.

Google also tell me the Mojave Desert that surrounds Las Vegas is 47,778 square miles and has only 850,000 residents. Unlike the city of Vegas, there's not much to do in the desert. Excluding nature itself, there are no flashing lights or loud speakers. It's aridity and simplicity makes for a rather boring place to do things. So, if you're looking for something to do, I wouldn't go into the desert.

But think about this, throughout Scripture, the desert has always been a place, and a symbol, of encounter with God. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Jesus himself: they all go into the desert to encounter God. They all go into the desert to BE with God.  So, perhaps we can set up a paradigm then: the desert is a place of BEING. A place of being with God.

In today's Gospel reading we encounter Martha and Mary.  Friends of Jesus, they are hosting him at their home. Martha, taking up the work, finds herself doing all the work: she's got a house full of people. Mary, on the other hand, sits at the feet of the Master and is listening to him, engaging in conversation, being taught by him, being nourished by him; simply being with him. This of course gets Martha all is a tizzy- isn't better to always be doing something?

Today, Jesus says loud and clear, "No."

No doubt, my friends, you and I have plenty to do. From sun-up to sun-rise you and I have plenty to do: work, kids, errands, social engagements, other commitments. We have plenty to do. We can sometimes do so much that we end up lamenting how busy, how tired, how stressed we are.Sometimes, we can even measure a person's value or purpose but how much they do for themselves or worse, for others.

Today, Jesus invites us to not be so concerned with always doing things. Today, Jesus invites to work on being. He invites to work in being with Him, and on being with the people in our life. Jesus invites us every day to journey with him into the desert so that we can be alone with him. He invites us to daily prayer, and may even invite us to occasion retreats so that we can simple be with him for a time; to be nourished and taught; encouraged and corrected. A place of encounter; a place of felt presence.

But today he also invites us to be present for the people in our life. No doubt things have to get done. But Jesus invites us to remain aware of the PEOPLE that we are doing things for. For Jesus, it's not about doing things, it's about doing things FOR PEOPLE. It's the person, it's about the person. When we remember the people we are doing things for, it gives our actions meaning and purpose; it allows them to flow from a place of Love.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, "Do all things, even small things, with great Love."

This week, we recommit ourselves to doing all the things we need to do with great Love. But we even more deeply recommit ourselves to being present to the Lord that he might nourish us on a daily basis through prayer and acts of service. We also recommit ourselves to being present for the people in our life. To sit at one another's feet; set aside the things that we need to do; and find time simply to be together. And to allow the bonds of Love that join us together, to grow and deepen and strengthen.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily Scripture readings.

Jesus words to us are an invitation. And invitation to come to Him when we need rest and peace from the burdens that we carry.  Likewise, in our first reading we hear the God is the "Great I AM" and wants to lead His people to a place that is flowing with milk and honey- a place of abundant life. I am remembering a line from John's Gospel: "I come that they might have life and have it abundantly"(Jn 10:10).

For our prayer today, what most robs us of peace and rest? What's the heaviest burden we carry? A doubt, fear, anxiety, a sin? Whatever it is, God reminds us today that He wants us to come to Him with those things and allow Him to heal them.

So, today we surrender our heaviest burdens to Him and ask Him to replace them peace and rest. May He restore our tired minds, hearts and bodies. May He lead us to that place where there is only Life- and Life to the full. Our home- Heaven!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily Scripture readings.

Moses encounters the Lord and he is then sent on Mission. An encounter with the Lord changes lives; it changes plans and preferences and priorities. An encounter with the Lord sends us on Mission too. Maybe nothing so daunting as saving God's people, but we are called and then empowered to Mission, empowered to Witness to our discipleship.

So, today, let's be aware of this encounter: first at our Baptism and then every time we receive the Lord in Word or Eucharist or Prayer. We are given the opportunity to encounter the Lord everyday!  What then is the Mission He gives us? Certainly our vocations. But what else? What experiences or opportunities may He give us today that will be our Mission to serve Him and others? Maybe an act of Love, Service or Forgiveness or Healing that He wants us to work today? Maybe a kind word or smile for someone who needs it? Maybe a few moments of deep prayer to nourish and refresh our tired spirit?

May we be aware of those encounters and be willing to embrace the Mission that follows. Today. And every day.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Little Summer Reading

A little off the beaten path, but well worth it. Wonderfully written; very informative; and spiritually nourishing.

Click here for description of Halfway to Heaven: The Hidden Life of the Carthusians.

Would go well with this movie called "Into Great Silence."

I also just finished reading a novel called The Son, written by Philip Meyer. A great story about fathers and sons; survival, loneliness and redemption.  Well worth the read.

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for daily Scripture readings.

Today, as we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we ask Mary and St. Simon Stock's intercession as we ascend our own interior mountain to encounter the Lord in our prayer and interior life. With the same zeal that inspired St. Simon Stock and continues to inspire the other members of the Carmelite Order, may we pursue God in prayer. He dwells within and is waiting to encounter us there. May we recommit ourselves to daily prayer, silent and solitary moments, with Scripture, the Rosary, spiritual reading and just sitting in silence with thoughts raised to Him.

He is waiting there for us. Let us ascend to meet Him.

Click here for info on St. Simon Stock.
Click here for info on the Brown Scapular.
Click here for info on the Carmelite Order.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday Homily, June 14th

I don’t want to alarm you, but there are actually two of me. When God created Father Craig he also created a duplicated. When God created Father Craig, he also created Father Craig’s twin brother, Christopher. It’s true: I have a twin brother. So, if you’re out and about and you see a guy who looks like me with a beautiful wife and two little boys, rest assured that I am not living another life. It’s my twin brother and whatever you do, do not, do not, no matter what sad story he tells you, lend him money.

There is a picture taken several Christmases ago. It is of my grandfather, who is now deceased, my dad, my twin brother, and one of my nephews. What’s interesting about the picture is the striking facial similarity that the four men in the picture share. It’s uncanny really. My dad looks like my grandfather, my brother looks like my dad, my nephew looks like my brother; in the case of our family, there’s no mistaking a Holway man. Not only do they share similar facial features, but not including my nephew, the three of them have a similar gait; my brother says some things the same way my dad does; my dad has this look of curiosity that I remember my grandfather having too. There are a lot of similarities between the four men in that picture.

In our complex, yet beautiful second reading today, Paul’s letter to the Colossians, St. Paul is explaining to the Colossians and to all of us, the true nature of Jesus Christ. At the same time, Paul is teaching us about Jesus’ Identity, His Meaning, and His Mission. Paul tells us that Jesus is the image of invisible God. But that word image is loaded with meaning. From Greek the word is translated into the English word icon, and that means something like to be a copy of the original. But it also means to represent and manifest the original. So what Paul is saying is that if we want to know what God looks like, we have only to look at Jesus. But more than that, if want to know what God is like, we have only to look at Jesus (cf. Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 1). If we want to know what kind of characteristics God has, we only have to look at Jesus because He is not only the image of God; He is God, the second person of the Trinity.

You see, Jesus came into the world because God the Father wanted to make it clear and definitive, that He wants to have a relationship with us now, so that He can enjoy an eternity with us later. And so to prepare our hearts for that eternity he sent Jesus who will help us in the preparation work. Jesus’ mission is to make of us an image of God the Father. Jesus’ mission is to make us like himself. Jesus’ mission is to make us saints.

We believe that the great reality of our baptism is that we are radically configured to be images of Jesus. Sealed at Confirmation and nourished by the Eucharist, that image is renewed in us as we allow Jesus to slowly, steadily, almost imperceptibly, convert us, mold us, join us to himself in a deeper way, so that the Father might see and Love in us, what He sees as loves in His Son. This Eucharist is turning us into another Christ- from the inside out. And the more we receive Him, the more we become like Him.

So, our point for prayer this week.  As we go about our week, and as we encounter our life and relationships, as we encounter God in prayer and service, let’s be aware of this great reality: we too are images of God. May our words and actions be like those of the Good Samaritan: full of Love and Kindness. My friends, we are images of God: we are Christians, Beloved Sons and Daughters to God the Father. Our souls are stamped with his Image and Likeness. We pray that this week our words and actions may also be images and likenesses of the words and actions of Jesus. May our words be full of love and kindness; our actions be full of kindness and service for those who are in need. May our prayer be like that of Jesus’: “Father, not my will, but your will be done”(Lk 22:42).

This week, we pray that we may speak kindly, care deeply, love generously and live simply.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily Scripture readings.

Jesus continues his words of instruction to the Apostles before they begin preaching the Gospel. He warns them to "beware of those wolves in sheep's clothing" and then encourages them to not worry about what they are to say on His behalf because the Spirit will give them the right words at the right time.

Here, then, is our point for prayer today. As we engage today, whether we find ourselves with wolves or sheep, with either those open or closed to the Gospel, may we have words that are wise and prudent. These are Gifts of the Spirit. So today we ask the Lord to renew in us the Gifts of Wisdom and Prudence. If called upon to show that we are disciples of Jesus Christ may the words we use show friend and foe alike that it's not our Gospel we follow, but Jesus's Gospel: to Love and Serve and Give.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily Scripture Readings.

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Benedict. (Click here for his bio)

Benedict was a holy man, dedicated to serving God and those around him. Likewise, the church recently announced that it would canonize two former Popes: John XXIII and John Paul II. I love the idea that we are witnesses to this moment. It shows us that there are good people out there who witness to the fact that Love is possible and that ultimately, Love triumphs.

Saints are still being made: in our time. But there are saints among us, now! In our homes, our workplaces. And most importantly, in the mirror. Today, let's ask the Lord to bless us with a real desire to continue walking our Faith journey to holiness, to perfect Love. Let's ask St. Benedict, St. Pope John XXIII and St. Pope John Paul II to pray for us that we may burn with the same desire to Love and serve God and those around us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for daily Scripture readings.

Jesus calls the Apostles by name and sends them to the "lost sheep of the House of Israel."

This continues Jesus's ministry to those who are considered left out, or marginalized. Remember how Jesus spends his time with the known sinners of any given community: tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and excluded. Jesus commands the Apostles, "You must go there too".

And so he says to us.

My friends, as the summer continue to tick by, perhaps as a point for consideration is to take one of these summer days and devote to a hands-on act of service and Love. There are plenty of opportunities at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools and day cares for the underprivileged, nursing homes, and many other places, to spend even a short amount of time, connecting with someone that is in need.

In this way, we become Christ to them. And shaped by Word and Eucharist we become His hands and heart in the world.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for daily Scripture readings.

Jesus looks upon the crowd with "pity" because they looked "troubled and abandoned."  I think we can safely replace the word "pity" with "compassion" and then understand a little better why Jesus would want to heal as many people as possible. It is because they are troubled and abandoned that Jesus does good things for them.

So, there's a point for prayer: can we remember a time when we were troubled and abandoned and the Lord touched us through a kind word or action from someone we know, or even a stranger- an angel? A perfectly timed phone call or smile or act of Love that pulled us out of our angst? And can we ask the Lord to heighten our sensibilities that we may look with compassion upon those who are feeling troubled and abandoned and with a smile, a act of Love, or a simple prayer of intercession, relieve their suffering, if only for a moment?


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Saint Pope John Paul II?

In our lifetime, it's very likely.

Click here for a news article.

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily readings.

Thomas recognized the Lord not by His face, but by His wounds. Likewise, a mystic from the Counter Reformation (I can't remember which one), wrote that the Father recognizes the Son from the wounds He bore to accomplish the Father's plan for the redemption and salvation of human kind.

Today, let's pray that we may see and respond to the brokenness and wounded-ness that we see in others. Those who are sick, lonely, afraid; the poor, the marginalized; those who are mourning; those who are closest to us that need healing. Let's look into their wounds, and in seeing the Lord there, help to heal them through words and actions of Love. In assisting the Divine Physician to heal others, we serve Him.  Today, we work with the Lord to help to heal others, even as we are being healed.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for daily readings.

In one of St. John's letters he writes that perfect love drives out all fear.

Today, let's bring our fears, worries, and anxieties to the Lord. Let's ask him, through our reception of Word and Eucharist to burn away that fear, replace with Love and Hope and the Knowledge that we are constantly being cared for by Him. He may ask us to endure some trial, but it is only so that we might draw closer to him and experience His Love more fully.

Perfect Love casts out all fear. Today, we live, move and have our being in Love.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Daily Point for Prayer

Click here for the daily readings.

As I reflect upon these readings, one word comes to heart- commitment.

Abraham and God working out the commitment that they made to one another earlier in Genesis; Jesus teaching these two guys what the commitment to discipleship means; our feast day of Blessed Junipero Serra who intercedes for vocations to the religious life and the priesthood- men and women who make a commitment to the Lord to serve the Church and the Gospel.

Today, lets pray with our commitments. Let's pray for those who are preparing to make a commitment: engaged couples. Let pray for those who may be struggling with their commitments; let's remember the greatness of Love and Fidelity that God has committed to us and that we commit back to the Lord and to our neighbors.

Today, let's pray that commitments will be strengthened. Lord, send us the Spirit's Gift of Fidelity.