Thursday, September 28, 2006

They wanted to be with Jesus

A line from the Gospel read at Mass a couple days ago impressed me a lot. Luke's Gospel said that Jesus' mother and brothers came to where he was teaching and wanted to be with him.

They wanted to be with him. That's all. Isn't that a great definition of prayer? Just to be with Jesus? It made me want to spend more time in prayer, just to be with Jesus.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teaching Islam in the Public Schools

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about indoctrinating students in the practice of Islam in a California public school. This link has more details about the case.
The school board is arguing that it does not violate the establishment of religion clause because the students are role-playing in order to learn something about the religion.
However, in the classroom the students are reciting Muslim prayers, taking Muslim names and dressing as a Muslim.

Can you image the uproar from the ACLU if this class were about becoming Catholic for a month? If the children were reciting the rosary in class? If they were taking the names of patron saints and dressing up as their patrons? If they were being taught that abortion is immoral?
I really don't get it. Why is it not OK to mention the name of God in a public school but it is OK to teach impressionable children about Islam in such a way that may make them want to convert to it?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They forgot the bread

This morning I was reading the Gospel of Matthew, the passage which notes that when the disciples rowed across the lake they forgot to bring bread along. It just struck me that this is a very human, even humorous, incident. I realize there's a deeper theological point to the passage (about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees). However, I could just imagine the group of men getting into the boat in a hurry, and no one thought to bring along the essential supplies.

This gives me courage. Whenever I'm a little unorganized and forget something, at least I'm in good company! As human beings we're always going to slip up and make mistakes. The important thing is not to avoid mistakes but to learn from them.

The Pope and Islam

You've probably been following this important story. Amy Welborn has a lot of excellent links and terrific coverage of the whole thing.
The Pope just gave another talk in which he clarified his intention: "I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together." That is the whole point and what it was really about.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today on this feast a small detail from the Gospel struck me. John mentions that some women stood by the cross, Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. It's not clear if there were 3 or 4 women (was Mary's sister the same as Mary the wife of Clopas?). In any case, the three women who were named all have the same name: Mary.

This feast brings us again to ponder the paschal mystery, the mystery of the cross that leads to resurrection. I've been thinking more lately about the spiritual exercises I made last January. St. Ignatius was very wise in the way he put them together. Week 3 is about the cross, but week 2 is all about falling in love with Jesus. It's hard to go to the cross if we don't really know Jesus very well. But when we allow him to draw us into a deeper relationship with him, we can naturally fall in love with him. Then the mystery of the cross isn't so hard, because it's all about someone we love. It's like parents who stay up with a sick child--they don't even think of their lack of sleep, etc., because they love the child so much.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy birthday, Mary!

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Mary's nativity. Of course we don't know the actual date, but this feast was placed on the liturgical calendar exactly nine months after we celebrate Mary's Immaculate Conception (which means she was preserved free from sin from the first moment of her conception).

Once a priest told this story in his homily for this feast. He had been dealing with a very difficult problem and could not see a good solution. After struggling with it for a long time, he still had not found an answer. He was praying about it on this feast of Mary's birth. He told her, "Mary, you know that this is an impossible situation to deal with and I don't know what else to do. So I'll just give it all to you as a birthday present." Some present!
Anyway, a few months later something happened that resolved the situation. It just so happened that the breakthrough came on the priest's own birthday. So he said, well, look at that! I gave Mary my problem for her birthday present, and she gave me the solution for my birthday present!

Mary doesn't mind if we give her problems for her birthday present. She loves to help us with them and going to her with a lot of trust is the best present she can get.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

"Be doers of the Word"

Today's second reading, from the Letter of James, really hit a chord with me, especially the part about being "doers of the Word." It's funny how sometimes the word of God coincides with secular things that I happened to read. A couple weeks ago I read an excellent article from an internet newsletter about getting things done. The author, Robert Ringer, stated a very simple principle: nothing happens until you act.

It might seem obvious, but more times than I care to admit, I've simply waited through a situation hoping something will change. But nothing will happen until someone acts. If I want a certain outcome, I've got to take steps.

So many times I've thought of something that I'd like to do, said to myself, "Yes, I need to do that," and forgot about it. So it never got done. I can overwhelm myself by thinking of how big a project might be. But to start it takes only one simple step, then another, then another.

So I put on my desk a small sign reading: "Nothing happens until you act." It helped me a lot this past week to take specific steps to deal with issues I have to take care of.

Book Meme

Lisa tagged me for this meme:

1. One book that changed my life: Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. I read it in high school (during the time when religious ed. classes in Catholic schools were mostly fluff) and it was my first engagement with the faith at a deeper intellectual level.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Sanctification of the Mind by Bl. James Alberione. In it he expresses so well in his clear, concise way how important our thoughts are in living our lives. He talks about "power ideas" which he says are guiding principles to build our lives on.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: The Summa Theologiae by St. Thomas Aquinas. It would certainly be something to fill the days!

4. One book that made you laugh: Any of the Far Side cartoon books by Gary Larsen. Somehow I enjoy his twisted sense of humor.

5. One book you wish had been written: The Idiot's Guide to Being a Nun.

6. One book you wish had never been written: I can think of several but just to name one, Hitler's Mein Kampf.