Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent--waiting for the coming of Christ

Advent is all about waiting--waiting in joyful expectation for the coming of Christ.
Historically, Jesus Christ already came in the flesh 2000 years ago when he was born in Bethlehem. But there are two other comings: his coming in glory at the end of the world, and his coming by grace into our hearts.
Although anything is possible, Jesus' second coming probably won't be during our lifetime. Here and now, though, Jesus comes into our hearts again and again through grace. Advent is all about opening our hearts to grace, letting the Lord lead us. Advent is such a short liturgical season that it goes by very fast, and we can come to the end of it before we know it. What is the Lord saying to you this Advent?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Remembering Mom

Today would have been my mother's 83rd birthday. She passed away in 2005. Since her birthday always fell around Thanksgiving, I have her in my thoughts and prayers every Thanksgiving in a special way. I'm grateful to her and my dad not only for giving me life but also for giving me the gift of being baptized in the Catholic faith and raising me in it. Mom was always a devout Catholic and for about the last 25 years of her life she went to Mass every day. She worked at a savings bank in New York, and the bank's customers always liked her because she was so friendly and pleasant.
I'm confident that now she is enjoying her eternal reward with the Lord.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stimulus watch

This website called "stimulus watch" has information on the various projects funded by the stimulus bill passed last January.
I picked out one at random--over 4 million dollars to replace AC units in various airports around the country. There was one for 30,000 dollars for picnic tables in a town in Iowa.
Do you think this is a good way for the government to be spending money?
About ten days ago the national debt passed the 12 trillion dollar mark. No government can go on forever living way beyond its means. True, the government could always print money, but that would force down its value and cause a huge inflationary spiral. That's what happened in Germany before Adolf Hitler took over.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hunger in America

A few news stories have surfaced lately about hunger in America. The numbers of people who went hungry at least some of the time last year because they didn't have enough to eat went up quite a bit.
The Christmas season is coming up, a good time to think of those who are struggling and to help them in some way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Confession

It's no secret that most Catholics have stopped going to confession frequently. Once I even met a religious sister (from another congregation) who told me she hadn't gone to confession in several years! But the sacrament of Penance is a gift from Jesus to us to cleanse our souls. Few people would wait weeks, months, or years to take a shower or bath. So why put off "cleaning" the soul?

Sometimes people may feel that they're not getting anything out of the sacrament, that they still have the same old sins to confess time after time, so why bother? Isn't it a little like always going on a diet and never losing weight?

Here are 4 tips that can address this problem:

1. Identify the area that troubles you most. Ask Jesus to help you here. If you let him be honest with you, he'll make sure you get the message. Or, you could even ask someone in your family!

2. Confess the sin and ask Jesus to heal you of the root cause. For example, one person might have the habit of belittling other people. Perhaps the root cause could be a deep insecurity rooted in a rejection from a parent. The person might feel somehow that belittling others puts them in a better light.

3. Forgive whomever you need to forgive. If you can get at the root cause and see who hurt you, forgiving that person opens the way for healing. Again, Jesus will help you here. We can't forgive others on our own, but Jesus gives us the strength and grace to forgive like he did.

4. Never get discouraged, even if you slip into the same sin. Make a resolution and keep on going. It's said that St. Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva, kept the same resolution for 20 years.

St. Martin of Tours and Veterans' Day

Today's saint, Martin of Tours, ties in nicely with the observance of Veterans' Day.
Martin was born in the early 4th century. His father was in the Roman Legions, and Martin grew up to become a soldier too. As a young man he converted to Christianity, and later was ordained a priest and then a bishop.
Martin is an important saint because he worked to establish the church in the rural districts of Gaul (now France--he's a patron of France, with Joan of Arc). Martin also spread monasteries in Gaul.
Probably the most famous story about St Martin is this: When he was still a soldier, one day he met an old beggar shivering in the cold. Martin took his own military cloak and cut it in two, giving half to the beggar. That night, Martin had a dream in which the beggar appeared in glory--and it was Jesus. The Lord told Martin "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me."

Monday, November 09, 2009

Great post at the Anchoress

The Anchoress has a great post today here. It's about hope despite the harrowing events we see going on around us: terrorism, (Fort Hood), an out of control Congress passing society-changing legislation in the dark of the night.
For a long time I've had a sense that the major events going on in our society are leading to a time of great troubles. This thought is not intended to be depressing or despairing, but realistic. Tough times are ahead, economically, politically, socially, religiously. Tough times are already here. Millions of people are unemployed, with few prospects for an expansion of new jobs. The value of the dollar is plummeting because of the reckless spending of our federal government. Last Friday the central bank of India bought 200 tons of gold--and got rid of a corresponding amount of dollars. The other countries that have been supporting profligate American spending are not going to continue lending us money indefinitely. And why should they? Why should they support a self-indulgent society that takes no thought for the future, that is willing to burden its children and grandchildren with a mountain of unsustainable debt? This party can't go on forever, and "the night is far spent" (St. Paul). More on that later, but for now, the Anchoress' words offer a good dose of hope.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The love of the heart of Christ

Every First Friday of the month reminds us of the intense love that Jesus has for each of us. He revealed this love to St Margaret Mary under the aspect of his Sacred Heart. The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is all about love.
Why is it so hard at times to really believe that God loves us? Perhaps it could come from a lack of faith, or perhaps from a sense of unworthiness, a sense of self-hatred or rejection. Other people might reject us, but God never does. Other people may not be able to love us, but God always does. If we have experienced rejection or a lack of love, it's easy to transfer that into our feelings, as if God looks at us like that too.
Look at the crucifix, and recall that nails didn't fasten Jesus to the cross, but his love did. St Paul says that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. He didn't die for us because we were good, we weren't. But accepting the love that flows from his cross makes us good. The next time somebody insults or disparages you, send that up to Jesus on the cross and ask him to transform it into love. He will.

Unemployment and the wily manager

Today's Gospel is about the wily manager, sometimes called the unjust steward. Jesus praises this dishonest steward not because of his dishonesty, but because he showed initiative in taking care of his own interests. Jesus' point is that we should take just as much initiative when it comes to God's work.

The unjust steward acted to save himself when he knew he was about to lose his job.
Unfortunately, the latest report shows that unemployment has reached 10.2 percent, the highest in 26 years. The real rate is higher because the official statistic doesn't included discouraged workers, nor those who work part time when they really need full time jobs.

There's a lot of talk about a so-called "jobless recovery," but I don't believe that. The economy can't recover unless people have jobs. I'm not an economist, but that's just common sense.
St. Joseph is the patron of workers, and he's the man to turn to if you're looking for work.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Communion of Saints

Yesterday and today, the Church celebrates two great feasts of the communion of saints: All Saints and All Souls day. They're like two faces of the same coin. All of the saints are those who have gone before us and now rejoice in God. The holy souls are those who have passed from this life but are undergoing a purification before entering into the fullness of joy.

The Catholic Church teaches that by our prayers, especially through the Mass, we can help those who are being purified. This is the reason why we offer Mass intentions for the deceased. Purgatory is more of a state than a place, as Pope John Paul said a few years ago in his general audience on the subject. The doctrine of purgatory gives us a consoling message. If we die without having reached the degree of love that God calls us to, we can get there through God's own loving action in our souls. That's really what purgatory is all about: finally learning to love as God loves. And when we reach it, we'll pass into the happiness of heaven.