Saturday, January 30, 2016

Jan.31, 2016: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Jan.31, 2016: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Click to hear Audio Homily
Often times in homilies, we priests and deacons hold up as examples saintly men and women who demonstrate heroic virtues, particularly those virtues mentioned in our Second Reading--patience, kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, and self-sacrifice involved in truly loving someone. We priests in Louisiana like to mention frequently in homilies two persons who may one day be officially canonized by the Church. Those two persons are Boudreaux and his wife Marie.

One Sunday after mass Boudreaux and Marie had lunch at a cafe in Donaldsonville. They ended their meal in a heated argument over how much tip to leave the server. Boudreaux and Marie remained mad at each other and drove several miles down the road toward Pierre Part without saying a word. Neither one was going to give in to the other and admit that they might have been wrong. As they passed a pasture with a bunch of mules and pigs standing around, Marie sarcastically asked Boudreaux, "Are those relatives of yours?"
Boudreaux answered, "Yep, that's my in-laws."

We may laugh at this couple, but sometimes that’s exactly what happens in our own relationships. We are too short on fuse with little control of our sharp or salty tongues. Some people think that it’s too old fashioned to literally live out the definition of love as described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthian Chapter 13. Many of us know that scripture, “Love is patient, love is kind…” but how many of us consciously put it into practice? One elderly couple was asked how they managed to stay married for 65 years, and the wife answered, “We were born in a time when if something was broke, you fixed it...not throw it away.”

What that elderly wife said challenged me and made me uncomfortable. I know that sometimes I have that kind of throw-away attitude toward values, things, and people. Her words of wisdom made me look at my own attitudes that are sometimes selfish, prideful, and self-absorbed. Patient suffering and enduring with joy are difficult virtues to practice when the world teaches us to demand things to go our way and expect problems to be solved by microwave-like speed and efficiency. How many of us get impatient here in Donaldsonville with traffic even though there are only three stop lights in town? The people in the synagogue in today’s Gospel lost their cool with Jesus because he challenged their narrow mindedness and lack of belief and trust in him. Jesus begins to perform miracles in other towns. Yet, Jesus has not done miracles in his hometown Nazareth and the people want to know why. When He tells them the truth—that they do not believe in Him—then they become enraged and try to kill Him.

How do we react to someone who challenges us--rightfully or wrongfully? Remember that this challenge often comes from someone who loves us--a family member, a close friend, or a co-worker. When we hear words that are pleasing to us, we accept them, but when they disturb our consciences we might well dismiss them as worthless. Or worse, we give them silent treatment or become distant by resentment. How do you reconcile what you heard with what you are living right now? How do we respond, for example, to someone challenging us about racism or poverty in our town? How about when the rules of the church conflict with what we desire? What tendencies that create a throw-away attitude do we need to change? What is the Lord asking of us through today’s readings?

Ash Wednesday is only a week and a half away, so let us prayerfully consider what we will focus on during this Lent. We do not want to let Lent sneak up on us and not have a plan for our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving . During Lent, our parishes are offering several opportunities for us to grow deeper in our love for our Lord and His mission.
This coming Tuesday evening, we will begin our Divine Mercy Novena mass and chaplet.
Beginning on Friday, February 12, we will begin an adult formation class called “The One Thing is Three.” The class will be held at noon at the Ascension activity center.
On Friday’s, the Way of the Cross with Confessions will begin at 6PM at St. Francis Church followed by a Lenten Lite Meal.
Next weekend, a parish-wide meditation book, “Rediscover Jesus” by Matthew Kelly, will be distributed.
Today’s Gospel is about faith and trust in Jesus; what do we need to change so that we trust in Jesus and not in ourselves.

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jan. 29, 2016 Friday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 29, 2016 Friday: 3rd Week in Ordinary Time C

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.
For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. - Psalm 51

David, A Great King, Yet With a Critical Flaw. What is the Lesson for us Today?

Of all the great Patriarchs of the Old Testament, David is among the greatest. Warrior and King, composer and conqueror, unifier and organizer, a man after God’s own heart. He united not only the 12, often fractured Tribes of Israel, but, as a kind if priest-king, stitched together the religious faith of Israel with its governance. King among them, he also collected and disseminated the great prayer-book of Israel, the Book of Psalms, composing many of them himself. So great was David, that among the most well known titles of Jesus would be, “Son of David.”

And yet, like almost all the great figures of the Bible, David was a man who struggled and was flawed. His demons would lead him even to murder as he amassed power and wives. And though he brought unity and governance to 12 contentious tribes, his own family was in a ruinous condition: afflicted by a murderous internecine conflict which had David for its much of its sinful source, and which he seemed powerless to stop.

In the end his family intrigues would cause the delicate union of the Israel he had woven, to come unraveled. And in David’s flaws are important lessons for our times as well.

Let’s recall a few details of King David’s life and domestic difficulties and see where things unravel.

David was the youngest son of Jesse, of whom God said, I have provided a king for myself among [Jesse’s] sons (1 Sam 16:1). Of David it is clear that he was chosen especially by God, for the Lord instructed Samuel to look for him saying, Do not consider his appearance or his height, ….The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart ( 1 Sam 16:7).

Yes, there was something about David’s heart that God loved. Whatever his later flaws, David had a heart for God, and God a heart for David. Upon Samuel’s anointing of David, the Scripture says: And from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. ( 1 Sam 16:13)

Unifier – Upon the death of Saul, Ten Tribes from Israel in the north divided against Judah in the South, and war ensued. But through military action, and other more diplomatic efforts, David was successful in reuniting the Kingdom in 1000 BC. He drove out the Hittites to establish Jerusalem as the Capital. He also wove the kingship together with Israel’s faith in order to establish deeper ties among the Israelites. Thus Jerusalem also became the place of the Temple of God, and the Ark. It was during this time that David both collected, and probably wrote, a good number of the Psalms.

Yes here was the great man of whom God said I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14). But God only seldom (such as with Mary) uses sinless humanity. We carry the treasure of God’s love in earthen vessels (cf 2 Cor 4:7). David’s strength was admixed with weakness and flaws, flaws which cascaded down through the lives of others, and gravely affected the Kingdom he was privileged to set forth.

Trouble begins with the fact that David had eight wives whose names we know: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah; later Michal and Bathsheba. The Biblical text suggests he had other wives as well, upon settling in Jerusalem. From these David had 19 sons. Let the internecine intrigue and blood-letting begin.

Disclaimer – It is true that, as many will hasten to point out, that polygamy was common among the ancient patriarchs. Yes, it was. But that it was common does not shield from the fact that, as the Scriptures consistently show, Polygamy always brings terrible results: infighting, rivalries, and often murderous intrigue. I have written more in this problem here: Don’t Do Polygamy.

God in setting forth marriage in Genesis 1 & 2 prescribed one man for one woman in a stable and fruitful relationship. God created for Adam, only Eve, and not also Jane and Sue and Mary and Ellen and Samantha. And God said that a man (singular) shall leaven his father and mother (singular) and cling to his wife (singular) the TWO (not three or more) of the them shall become one (Gen 2:24).

Diversions from this God-given model bring only sadness and even death. David’s many marriages and sons by different mothers, is no exception, and the flawed family structure will bring real devastation not only to David’s family, but to all Israel.

First Degree Murder – David, already with many wives and competing sons, deepens the trouble when he has Uriah the Hittite killed, and takes his wife Bathsheba. The remarkably wicked act of murder rooted in lust and fear, shows a deep flaw in King David for which he is repentant, writing Psalm 51, the Miserere. But Bathsheba’s inclusion into the royal family only adds to the intrigue in the family, and the royal court. For she later advances the cause of her son, Solomon, against David’s older sons.

Rape – Even prior to that pot boiling over, tragedy had struck elsewhere in David’s family, among his sons. His eldest Son and likely heir, Amnon grew desirous of, and eventually raped his half sister Tamar daughter of David by his wife Maacah. “Blended families” have a higher degree of sexual abuse for the rather obvious reason that step-relations include less sexual reserve than full-blooded ones.

Weak Father – After the rape, according to Scripture, And when king David heard of these things he was exceedingly grieved: but he would not afflict the spirit of his son Amnon, for he loved him, because he was his firstborn (2 Sam 13:21). This was a mistaken understanding of love. For the love of a Father for his son must include discipline, and insistence on what is right. Amnon had seriously sinned and owed restitution. David remained quiet when he should have spoke and acted.

Resentful Son – Hence, due to David’s inaction, one of David’s other sons (and full brother of Tamar), Absalom, grew furious at what was done to his sister. He thus plotted, and eventually killed Amnon, and then fled to the Land of Geshur. David now had lost two sons and had a daughter who had been raped.

For indeed, though eventually pardoned by his father, King David, Absalom had grown bitter against David and raised an effective rebellion against him. In the war that ensued, Absalom and his rebellion were put down, and Absalom killed.

David seemed well aware of his role in Abasolom’s rebellion and demise. He had said earlier, when one of Absolom’s followers came cursing him: If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” (2 Sam 16:10-12) Upon Absalom’s death David cried: O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you–O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam 18:33).

Court and family intrigue continues right up to David’s death. The now oldest, and likely successor and son of David, Adonijah, was ousted from succession by David’s wife Bathsheba who, working with Nathan, promoted her son Solomon, while David lay feeble and largely forgetful. Claiming she had earlier secured a private vow from David regarding Solomon’s succession, she set loose a power struggle between Adonijah and Solomon. In the end Solomon prevailed over Adonijah, and, after David’s death Solomon had his half-brother (Adonijah) killed.

Like Father Like Son – Solomon, though a great king in his own right, inherited some of his father’s foibles. He ended with having 1000 wives and as Scripture says of him: King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women…As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:4-6).

The End of the Kingdom – So unraveled did Solomon become, and so disconcerting were his family and foreign intrigues, that shortly after his death, during the reign of his polygamous and expansionist son, Rehoboam. Israel again broke apart into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. They would never reunite.

How remarkable that King David, so highly regarded, not only by humanity, but by God himself, would have such deep flaws. And how remarkable too that, being as gifted as he was, David also brought such pain and sorrow to his family and, by extension to Israel.

What are the lessons for us? Let’s begin with the negative.

The first lesson is that allowing the family to decay and drift from God’s intended structure and form brings great harm. David’s polygamy, his unlawful and sinful acquisition of Bathsheba, his playing of favorites, and his refusal to correct and punish Amnon for the rape of Tamar, all contributed to serious and deadly consequences. And these deadly consequences expanded far beyond David’s own family, and rippled through all Israel leading ultimately to its break down and demise.

Some may argue that norms for marriage and family were less clear at this early stage of Israelite history, and that we ought not project later norms back on these times. I beg to differ. For Genesis 1 and 2 clearly set for the norms of Marriage as God intends: one man for one woman in a stable fruit-bearing relationship till death do them part. One man clinging to one woman, being fruitful and multiplying through their children. This is God’s plan as set forth in Genesis 2.

The first lesson for us is that our family struggles and modern departure from biblical norms regarding the family also have grave effects that extend beyond merely our own families. As divorce and remarriage, single parenthood, homosexual unions, and (coming soon) polygamy, proliferate in our culture, increasingly grave effects befall us as our children. There is often lack of proper discipline and supervision, and a lack of proper role models, and often gravely dysfunctional settings. As a result, our whole society grows weaker and more dysfunctional.

As the soil of the family grows ever thinner, we cannot expect to find the taller growths. And when the family is not strong, neither is the community, Church or nation. Birthrates fall and test scores fall, abortion, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, single motherhood and divorce all rise.

Our children are in the balance, and we like David, seem to have little will or ability to change our ways. And though we see destruction, even death all around us, there seems little collective will to repent, live chastely and exemplify biblical marriage. In so doing we act not only sinfully, but also unjustly to our children, our community, our Church and nation.

And, as with ancient Israel, our future is tied to our decisions regarding our families. As our families go, so will the nation go. The Church will ultimately remain, but she is sorely weakened by our collective lack of resolve to restore our families.

This is lesson one.

Lesson two – Despite David’s committing of some pretty serious sins, to include premeditated murder; despite also his flaws and weakness, Scripture clearly attests God’s love for David. God’s himself says of that he is a man after My own heart (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam 13:14). Yes, God had a heart for David, a special place in His heart.

And to be fair, David also had a great heart for God. It is true David was a sinner, and in several ways a very serious sinner. But he knew that, and was repentant (cf: 2 Sam 16:10-12; Psalm 51; 2 Samuel 12:11ff, inter al). He was a great King, to be sure, but also a humble man. In his final words near the end of his life, he advised: He that ruleth over men, must be just, ruling in the fear of God (2 Samuel 23:3). And though David sinned, he had a reverential fear for God rooted in love. He was a man after God’s own heart.

And herein lies the crux of this second lesson: God loves sinners, God uses sinners and flawed men and women. God can write straight with crooked lines, and make a way out of no way. Perhaps God should not have to, but he seems more than willing to use us, even in our brokenness.

Are there consequences to sin? Yes. But does God withdraw his love? Never. Even for those who finally refuse his Kingdom and it values, somehow his love reaches even into Hell. For how else could the souls there live without his sustaining love.

We should never doubt God’s love for us, no matter how deep our flaws or serious our sins. God will never forsake us. He may allow us to experience the consequences of our sins, as he did with David, and seems to be doing with us now, but God never withdraws his love or fails to shepherd us rightly. Whatever our sins, we have but to seek his mercy, like David, and accept his love. We are men and women after God’s own heart.

-Msgr. Charles Pope

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Jan. 28, 2016 Thursday: St. Thomas Aquinas

Jan. 28, 2016 Thursday: St. Thomas Aquinas

Prayer After Receiving Communion

I thank You, Lord, Almighty Father, Everlasting God, for having been pleased, through no merit of mine, but of Your great mercy alone, to feed me, a sinner, and Your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for my judgment and condemnation, but for my pardon and salvation. Let this Holy Communion be to me an armor of faith and a shield of good will, a cleansing of all vices, and a rooting out of all evil desires. May it increase love and patience, humility and obedience, and all virtues. May it be a firm defense against the evil designs of all my visible and invisible enemies, a perfect quieting of all the desires of soul and body. May this Holy Communion bring about a perfect union with You, the one true God, and at last enable me to reach eternal bliss when You will call me. I pray that You bring me, a sinner, to the indescribable Feast where You, with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, are to Your saints true light, full blessedness, everlasting joy, and perfect happiness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
-St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jan. 26, 2016 Tuesday: Sts. Timothy and Titus

Jan. 26, 2016 Tuesday: Sts. Timothy and Titus

About the Saints Timothy and Titus
Timothy was from an inter-faith marriage: his mother was Jewish; his father was Gentile. Titus’ parents were both Gentiles. Timothy and Titus were trusted friends, associates, and companions of Paul in his missions and in his sufferings. They often had the delicate task of delivering Paul’s letters to Churches with problems. Paul calls Timothy his “dear son.” One person cannot do everything. We need friends and associates; we need to delegate responsibilities. Because they had a common love and zeal for the gospel, these associates of Paul are honored as saints.

On Friendship and Our Life (By Fr. Henri Nouwen)
Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life.

This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people ... and be happy to return home.

Jan. 25, 2016 Monday: Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle

A friend of mine once preached a homily in which he stood before an altar with a big green trash bag stuffed full with paper. He held the bag up and said, “This bag is our life.” “As Christians,” he continued, “we seek to give our lives to Christ.” He then turned around and reverently placed the bag before the altar. “But then,” he said, “we always try to take our life back again,” and he unceremoniously snatched the bag up.

Corny, I’ll admit, although I’ve remembered it for fifteen years. It does, however, happen to be true. All of us intend to surrender our life to Christ in trust and obedience. But we inevitably hold something back or take something back. There are always parts of our life we haven’t given to Jesus, are unwilling to give to Jesus, or we find really difficult to give to Jesus. Often, we don’t know ourselves well enough to give all of ourselves to Jesus. That’s why giving our lives to Jesus involves a process of ongoing, lifelong conversion.

Maybe that’s something to keep in mind on this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It might be better to call it, “The Feast of the Beginning of the Conversion of St. Paul.” What we recall today was St. Paul’s conversion to the Faith, which was a key event in the worldwide spread of the Church. For Paul, however, it was only the beginning of his conversion to Christ.

Paul’s conversion process was a struggle. In his letters, he speaks of fighting the good fight, running the race, beating his body, growing from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity, engaging in battle with the armor of God, and pressing on toward a prize he had yet to reach.

Yet Paul did reach the prize. His experience of lifelong conversion reminds us that while there are no overnight saints, there are saints nevertheless. A saint is what Paul became, and with the grace of God, so can we. St. Paul, pray for us!

-Fr. Scott Hurd

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jan. 24, 2016: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 24, 2016: 3rd Sunday Ordinary C

Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you like smoothies like I do? I’ve told you before that I like to pour almond milk, a banana, bunches of spinach and kale in a blender and drink it. It doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? What does faith and banana smoothie have in common? Pope Francis said, “Please, do not put your faith in Jesus Christ in a blender. You can have orange smoothies, apple smoothies, banana smoothies, but please, do not gulp down a ‘faith-shake.’ Faith is a whole; you can’t mix it up in a blender.” Does your faith sometimes feel like drinking a smoothie, where you have a vague taste of a fruit, but not really? We may believe in the notion of the Good News of Jesus Christ, but not quite understand it and know how to fulfill it.

The fulfillment of the Gospel in our lives depends on our hearing it attentively, listening to it lovingly, and responding to it faithfully. We may be a little puzzled by what Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord...Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus announced that he is the fulfillment of all the scriptures. His presence among men begins the year of grace. From that moment on, the signs of mercy and closeness of God for the poor, the blind and the imprisoned and to all who are in need, will become increasingly evident. The message he proclaimed was not just for those in the synagogue 2,000 years ago but also for us. Even today, Jesus is announcing a time of extraordinary grace from God--to experience His mercy where we are set free and healed from our sins through His Son.

Pope Francis explains it beautifully, “Jesus is the Son of God who came into the world and gave his life to open the floodgates of love to everyone…By coming in our flesh and sharing our joys and pains, our victories and defeats, and enduring the cross, by living everything in love and fidelity to Abba, Jesus testifies to the incredible love that God has for each person, the inestimable value he sees in everyone. Each of us, in turn, is called to adopt Jesus’ way of seeing and choosing in love, to enter into his way of being, thinking and acting.”

As believers how do we proclaim and pass on our faith? We must proclaim our faith through our words and actions. This past Friday, my sister and brother-in-law texted me photos of their children all bundled up in the cold weather. As you heard from the news, the East Coast was hit by an incredible snow storm. My 9-year-old niece Therese was standing on the snow-covered steps of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington DC holding up a sign that read, “Why We March: To tell the truth about what it means to be human.”  My 7-year-old nephew was holding a sign that read, “I am the Pro-Life Generation.” And my 5-year-old nephew was just smiling for the camera. They participated in the March for Life held in Washington DC. My niece and nephews probably do not understand the reason for the march or the full meaning of the signs, but their mom and dad are teaching them that it is important to live and preach their faith by the way they live their lives. It is not enough to know the faith; a lighted lamp must not be hidden, it must be used to light the path of others. Pope Francis reminds us that this is the Year of Mercy, and we are to be the instrument of God’s mercy. Let us implore the Heavenly Father, as did St. Francis, to help us to become more Christ-like:  “Lord, make me a channel of your peace.”

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord
And where there is doubt true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness only light
And where there's sadness ever joy

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in giving to all man that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, January 22, 2016

Jan. 22, 2016 Friday: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Jan. 22, 2016 Friday: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Jesus . . . summoned those whom he wanted. (Mark 3:13)

There was a couple who decided to adopt children, but when they were given the opportunity to be matched with a child, they were overwhelmed. The agency presented them with an album filled with babies’ pictures and asked them to choose one from all of these children. When the woman’s eyes fell on one particular child, in her heart she knew that this was the child God had chosen for their family.

Years later, upon hearing this story from her adoptive parents, the daughter was awed. Her birthmother had protected her in the womb; her adoptive family had chosen her from among so many others; and here she is today, alive, healthy, and loved!

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear another story about being chosen—Jesus’ choice of the twelve apostles. Of all of Jesus’ followers, these were the men he chose and sent out to preach and drive out demons (Mark 3:14). Who would have thought that such simple, common fishermen would join a tax collector—Matthew—and a political activist—Simon the Zealot—and band together to have such an impact on the world?

God has a call and a plan for each of us, even for each child in the womb, waiting to be born. Today, believers in the United States observe the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. It’s a day when we can affirm that God wants each of these vulnerable children, just as that young girl’s mother wanted her. It’s a day when we can band together—no matter where we are—and pray for an end to abortion around the world.

God has given each of us the precious gift of life. He has called each of us by name and set us apart for his purposes. Today, let’s thank him for all he has done for us. At the same time, let’s dedicate ourselves to protecting all the vulnerable children yet to be born. Especially during this Year of Mercy, may they be welcomed into life, and may they all live to fulfill God’s call for them!

“Father, thank you for calling me your child! Protect each unborn child today. May they all be brought forth to live a full and blessed life!”

-The Word Among Us,

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jan. 21, 2016 Thursday: St. Agnes

Jan. 21, 2016 Thursday: St. Agnes

When David and Saul approached (on David’s return after slaying the Philistine), women came out from each of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums. The women played and sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: “They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.” And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David. (1 Sam 18:6-9)

Reflection: We often get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. Sometimes we compare ourselves to our detriment: we are not as beautiful, not as smart, not as rich, not as kind, not as faith-filled, not as compassionate. Sometimes we compare ourselves to our benefit: we do more, give more, pray more, volunteer more, spend more time with our families.

Whenever we get busy looking at others to try to define ourselves, however, we are usually at a point of low self-esteem. We think the way others behave will provide us with what we need to feel good about ourselves. When we let go of comparing ourselves to others and bring the focus back to our own selves, we find our way to self-acceptance.

Padre Pio's Words of Assurance:
“Do not give too much importance to what the enemy and your imagination suggest to you. . . .”
“Do you know what religion is? It is the academy of perfection in which each soul must learn to allow itself to be handled, planed, and smoothed by the divine Spirit, when he also acts as a doctor of our souls so that, having been well-planed and smoothed, they can be united and joined to the will of God. “Religion is a hospital for the spiritually ill who wish to be cured, and in order to achieve this, they submit themselves to . . . some probing, surgical instruments, fire, and all the pains of medicine.” -Padre Pio

Ponder: When do I compare myself to others?

Prayer: Lord, you are good and merciful. In your compassion, heal my need to compare myself to others.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jan. 20, 2016 Wednesday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 20, 2016 Wednesday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time C

God’s Care for You

1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

But when I take a close look at myself, I see only sin and weakness, and I can’t believe that God would want to help me.

Padre Pio’s assurance:
“Think no more of your past life, except in order to admire the heavenly Father’s goodness which . . . did not want to reject you, but rather, with great care, wished to overcome your hardness and, winning you over with his grace, wanted and wants to demonstrate his power over you.” “Place all your cares in God alone because God cares greatly for you.” “Let us consider Jesus’ love for us and his concern for our well-being, and then let us be at peace. Let us not doubt that he will invariably assist us with fatherly care against all our enemies. If it were left to ourselves to remain on our feet, we should never be able to do it. At the first breath of air we should fall down and certainly have no hope of rising again.” “. . . How many times does he not stretch out his hand to us to arrest our headlong dash towards the precipice? How many times, when we had abandoned him, has he not readmitted us to his loving embrace?”

Lord, help me to remember that you love me more than I can imagine, and that, despite my sin and weakness, you always want to help me. Amen.

-Padre Pio’s Words of Hope, Edited by Eileen Dunn Bertanzetti

Monday, January 18, 2016

Jan. 18, 2016 Monday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 18, 2016 Monday: 2nd Week in Ordinary Time C

“Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:20)

By obedience you give great glory to Me and gain merit for yourself."
— Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary of St. Faustina, 28)

Jesus told St. Faustina “I was obedient to my parents, my executioners and now I am obedient to my priests”. St Faustina said the devil can imitate humility but not OBEDIENCE. The fall of the devil and adam and eve was through lack of obedience. Mary was the obedient one like the saints.

Obedience means not seeing our will as paramount, but recognizing and doing the will of God. When the Sadducees and priests told John and Peter not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they knew what they had to do. Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in God's sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).

Saint Faustina wrote this notation in her Diary that warrants deep reflection: "A disobedient soul will win no victory, even if the Lord Himself, in person, were to hear its confession. The most experienced confessor will be of no help whatsoever to such a soul. The disobedient soul exposes itself to great misfortunes; it will make no progress toward perfection, nor will it succeed in the spiritual life. God lavishes His graces most generously upon the soul, but it must be an obedient soul" (113).

Like our Lord, we must be obedient in all things, even the little things in life. We must have a burning in our heart to love Him and be obedient to Him; that love and obedience is freeing and liberating. As St. Faustina wrote in her Diary, ""God lavishes His graces most generously upon the soul, but it must be an obedient soul" (381).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Jan. 17, 2016: 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time C

Jan. 17, 2016: 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time C

Click to hear Audio Homily
A few years ago, I had the privilege of leading a pilgrimage through Israel. One of the sacred locations is Cana where there stands a church at the spot believed to be the location of the miracle we read in today’s Gospel. Pilgrims flock to the Church at Cana to renew their marital vows or to get married, but they miss out on the true mystery and grace of Cana. The two mysteries are described in the two scripture passages from today’s Gospel:
Do whatever he tells you. (John 2:5)
And the disciples began to believe in him. (John 2:11)

Do whatever he tells you.
Though we may not be aware, all of us are being guided by the gentle, reassuring voice of our Blessed Mother. It’s true that some of us have a strong devotion to her. Others believe that a devotion to Blessed Mother distracts from the worship of Jesus. Our devotion to Blessed Mother should lead us to the heart of Jesus and to a deeper desire to follow him. Just as Blessed Mother at the Annunciation trusted in the will of God, she shows us in Cana that she is a model disciple. She turned to Jesus when something went wrong, and she believed that Jesus would take care of the situation. Do we also turn to Jesus in our struggles and believe that he will guide us through the situation?

And the disciples began to believe in him.
We are fascinated, and perhaps distracted, by the miracle of water transformed into wine and miss the real transformation, that is, what happened in the hearts of the disciples. Ordinary people became believers. When we encounter Jesus, experience the abundance of his love, know how much he delights in us, and realize how he rejoices in us, then we are transformed into believers--people who believe in the possibilities of love and mercy.

Last week we celebrated the baptism of Our Lord. Although we may not remember the actual day of our baptism, we know that our journey began when we were baptized in our faith, surrounded by our family and friends. It is our responsibility to lead our lives in such a way that others are inspired to know our Lord. As St. Francis beautifully said that “the deeds that you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today.”

In this new year, how can we consciously strive to be the sign that points to Christ? How can we strive to be disciples of Jesus who believe and trust in what Jesus will accomplish through us? Perhaps the best roadmap for discipleship is described by Blessed Mother Teresa:

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.

Our discipleship with God needs to be clothed in humility and silence rather than in doctrinal purity, bible thumping, and self-promotion of our own holiness. We must remember that the Church is not an exclusive holy club; rather, we are sinners who fall daily, but by the grace of God are redeemed and called to holiness. Our discipleship with God should reveal itself in our gratefulness to Christ; people should notice the joy of Christ in us. Pope Francis said, “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew.” When Jesus enters our lives, there is a new quality about our lives which is like turning water into wine; what was drab and uninteresting becomes vivid and sparkling. May every day begin with silence and prayer. Encounter Jesus in the silence and receive the grace to live our lives as instruments of peace to others.

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, January 15, 2016

Jan. 15, 2016 Friday: 1st Week in Ordinary Time C

Jan. 15, 2016 Friday: 1st Week in Ordinary Time C

Good Morning God

It’s Saturday morning, and Dad, in undershirt and boxers, and I, in PJs, are lathering our faces with shaving cream as we look at ourselves in the bathroom mirror. I, being only six years old, stand on the countertop and move Dad’s comb down my cheeks, pushing off the foam in rows in the same manner as my Dad’s reflection is doing with his razor. I love this ritual. I love the feel of my Dad’s smooth cheeks after the stubble of the night is swiped away. At some point during this father-son ceremony, Dad nods toward the rectangular sticker with the face of Jesus that is stuck to the lower-right-hand side of the mirror. My reading skills being new, I try as best I can to follow along as Dad recites the Morning Offering, “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day….”

My Saturday morning prayer times these days have the same feel as those of my childhood memories. I, in robe and slippers, sit with a cup of coffee while the Father and I prayerfully swipe away the stubble—the worries and concerns I took to bed with me the night before. Last night they kept me up and led me to believe they would soon grow out of control. But this morning I see that my Father and I can easily control them—can keep my soul smooth despite their presence. Last night as I tossed and turned in bed, the waters of chaos crashed upon the craggy rocks of my worried heart. But this morning God’s breath makes everything still and quiet. And at the end of the ceremony, I offer my own Morning Offering. It’s a little different from Dad’s, but it serves the same purpose: it consecrates my day to the Lord.

Eternal Word, Only begotten Son of the Father, Teach me true generosity. Teach me to serve as you deserve: To give without counting the cost. To fight, heedless of the wounds, To labor without seeking rest, To sacrifice myself without the thought of any reward, Except for the knowledge that I have done your will. Amen.
—attributed to Saint Ignatius Loyola

I consider the worries that kept me up last night. I see how small they are in the light of this day. I praise God for helping me to put things in proper perspective. I find my own favorite morning offering. I can use a popular version from a prayer book, or I could compose my own. I make it a daily ritual to pray this prayer. While pledging to give all that I am to God’s will this day, I offer everything: my work, my family, my life, back to God. I place it all under God’s care.

Fr. Mark E. Thibodeaux
God, I have issues : 50 ways to pray no matter how you feel

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jan. 14, 2016 Thursday: 1st Week of Ordinary Time C

Jan. 14, 2016 Thursday: 1st Week of Ordinary Time C

God, I feel lost

In my prayer I imagine myself lost in a forest, a desert or some other appropriate metaphor for my current situation. I call out to Christ, using the mantra, “Find me, Lord” or “Lead me home, Lord.” I ask the Lord to reveal to me what things I might learn while in this state of being lost. How might the Lord use this as an opportunity to save me, teach me, heal me, nurture me and so on?

Often I am lost because I’m too stubborn to ask for help from others. I should pray over the questions, “Am I lost because I’m trying too hard to go it alone? Who might be helpful to me right now? What’s keeping me from asking for help?”

Often we feel lost when we cannot articulate what exactly is our destination. I should spend some time with my prayer journal, asking God to help me compose a series of mission statements that become increasingly more concrete and particular. For example, I might start with, “My mission is to live my life according to God’s will.” I might spend a whole prayer time on that one statement. Then, the next day, I might write, “My mission is to be a good mother to my children.” Then, later, “My mission is to help my seventeen-year-old to adopt a mature attitude about alcohol.” And still later, “My mission right now is to talk to my son, heart-to-heart.” I should proceed in this way until I have to a concrete plan with which to act.

-Fr. Mark E. Thibodeaux
God, I have issues : 50 ways to pray no matter how you feel

Jan. 13, 2016 Wednesday: 1st Week of Ordinary Time C

Jan. 13, 2016 Wednesday: 1st Week of Ordinary Time C

How do I listen to God in prayer?

‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”  (1 Sam 3:10)

"Sometimes I have trouble hearing what God is telling me. Any advice? I want to learn how to really listen with an open heart and mind."

The question is an important one, one that many people have wrestled with. Even Saint Teresa of Avila — a Doctor of the Church in the Roman Catholic tradition because of her teachings on prayer — struggled with prayer and listening to God.

First, the very desire to be closer to God is itself a clear indication that God is working within you, drawing you close. As Thomas Merton, the great spiritual writer and Cistercian monk, wrote in a prayer, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have this desire in all that I am doing.” He continued, saying, “And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it.” One of the key things to listening to God and responding to God’s call is to tap into that God-inspired desire within oneself to please God, to respond to God in love, to reverence and stand in awe of God.

One of the best ways to do this is to spend time with God as much as you can. Practice Saint Paul’s injunction that we “pray without ceasing“. That means to have a spirit of prayer in all that you do, as you go about your daily life. It also means taking time just to be with God, alone and without distraction. This can be tough to do, and it is also a very intimate and vulnerable thing to do. But just as we would in a relationship with a loved one, we grow into these moments, we’re able to behold a sunset together without words or to gaze into one another’s eyes with great love. These experiences with God nurture us and help us be more in tuned with what God’s desire is for us, what God’s voice “sounds” or “feels” like.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola teaches that there are some other specific ways to get in tune with God’s call to you and to help you better listen to and respond to God. The overall term for this is “discernment." Ignatius developed a simple method by which you can review each day in a way that will help you grow in self-understanding and free you to follow God’s will. This practice is called the Daily Examen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Jan. 12, 2016 Tuesday: 1st Week, Ordinary Time C

Jan. 12, 2016 Tuesday: 1st Week, Ordinary Time C

God's "to-do" List

The moment I woke up today and saw my extensive ‘to-do’ list, I felt paralyzed, sluggish, and unprepared to tackle my day. But I knew if I wanted to begin my day properly, I had to start with my top priority—prayer—or in this case, asking God what was on his ‘to-do’ list for me. After 10 minutes, I realized that I was doing all the things on my “to-do” list for me, rather than doing them for others—or for God.

Hannah, before she became the mother of the prophet Samuel, was a childless parent. She was unhappy because the most important item on her “to-do” list (having a child) would not be accomplished. But it was precisely her “deep sorrow and misery” that prompted her authentic prayer. Eli would respond to us who are feeling overwhelmed: “your ‘to-do’ list is not yours, but God’s… Go in peace.”
—Michael Martinez

Lord, when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love.
Bless us with Your strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us.
We trust that in living close to You,
we shall see Your hand, Your purpose,
Your will through all things.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jan. 10, 2016: Baptism of Our Lord C

Jan. 10, 2016: Baptism of Our Lord C

Click to hear Audio Homily
When you think of rice in Louisiana cuisine, which dishes come to mind? Rice is in our gumbo, jambalaya, dirty rice, etouffee, and beans & rice. Rice is essential in Asian cuisine, too. For Koreans, the foundation of our breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a bowl of rice. We dip our chopsticks into a morsel of rice, then we add condiments of vegetables, fish, or meat. Once we finish the bowl of rice, we are done with the meal.  

There are four important points that we should remember about baptism, and the acronym RICE will help us remember. “R” stands for Rebirth. In baptism we are born again by water and the Holy Spirit. We are cleansed from original sin and become sons and daughters of God in a special way. “I” stands for Initiation. At baptism we are initiated or admitted into full membership in the church, the community of the children of God in the world. “C” is for Consecration. In baptism we consecrate and dedicate ourselves to seek and to spread the kingdom of God. We commit ourselves to be servants of God, to do God’s will and serve God with our whole lives. And “E” is for Empowerment. At baptism the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and empowers us, equips us, gives us the moral strength to say no to evil and to live as God’s children that we have become.

Do you remember the first time you embraced the meaning of the baptism you received? I was baptized along with my dad when I was 6-yrs. old, but it was not until I was 26 years old that I understood what baptism truly meant. Recall the baptismal promises we renew every year at Easter: (1) Do you reject Satan? (2) And all his works? (3) And all his empty promises? What do those questions mean for you? During college I began to read with the eyes and heart of faith the New Testament and encounter Jesus through personal prayer. I began to have awful dreams where I encountered strange, ugly, and dark beings who frightened me, as if to discourage my effort to deepen my relationship with Jesus. It’s when I cried out for Jesus in my dream that these dark beings would vanish.

When I pondered about the dreams, I realized that Satan was real and that for many years of my young adult life, I did not reject Satan, his works, or his empty promises. Satan does not entice us with blatantly evil temptations. His strategy is much more subtle, working at the level of our pride, our inclination toward selfishness, self-importance, and self-indulgence. His goal is for us to be self-sufficient, comfortable,  and preoccupied to the point that we forget that we are beloved sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.

What happens to us when our baptismal promises no longer have tangible meaning to us? Does that mean that our faith is dead? Does that mean that we no longer believe in what we just celebrated two weeks ago --the birth of the Christ Child? If the waters of baptism are no longer life giving to us--meaning we do not keep our baptismal promises--then we must draw to the fount of Mercy for renewal. Longing for the Heavenly Father and His Son will refresh the waters of our baptism.

Pope Francis urges us not to forget the great gift we have received. “Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries.” Christian life is a lifelong "Amen" and an "I do" to baptismal faith.

Just as RICE is the foundation of Louisiana and Korean cooking, baptism is the foundation of our life as sons and daughters of God. By our baptism we are all, in a special way, called and loved by the Heavenly Father. Therefore we must believe and follow the promises from our baptism and walk in the way of Our Lord. We must pray that we may be the hands and feet of Our Lord to this world which yearns for God and peace.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jan. 8, 2016: Friday after Epiphany

Jan. 8, 2016: Friday after Epiphany

The Ripple Effect

During this Epiphany season it is fitting that we keep our eyes focused on the Christ--the One who both proclaims and is eternal life. For, as the author of the First Letter of John reminds us, we who believe in Jesus the Christ already participate in eternal life here on earth.

Just as the leper in today's Gospel was forever changed by his encounter with Jesus, our belief in Christ changes us significantly, brings us into a new relationship to God, others, and even oneself. Consider the moments when you have had glimpses of this change, this new reality: when you moved from an adolescent belief about Jesus to following his way and putting the needs of others first; when you married and together with your spouse made an intentional commitment to work in a soup kitchen once a month; or when, perhaps on a retreat, you were finally able to let go of a destructive pattern of behavior. Taking these small steps can have a ripple effect on transforming our life and touching the lives of those around us.

Luke doesn't tells us what followed for the leper. We can't help but wonder what life was like for him after he was healed. Did his belief in Jesus grow? Did this grace of healing--his participation in enteral life--bear fruit? Did he "pay it forward"?

The same challenge to believe--to choose life--holds true for us. Today's Gospel is an invitation to ongoing transformation that bears rich fruit daily.

-Sr. Pat Parachini
Give Us This Day

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jan. 7, 2016 Thursday: Thursday after Epiphany

Jan. 7, 2016 Thursday: Thursday after Epiphany

The Merciful Father

God always thinks with mercy: do not forget this. God always thinks mercifully. He is the merciful Father! God thinks like the father waiting for the son and goes to meet him, he spots him coming when he is still far off.… What does this mean? That he went every day to see if his son was coming home: this is our merciful Father. It indicates that he was waiting for him with longing on the terrace of his house.
-Pope Francis, General Audience, March 27, 2013

If God is like the merciful father in the parable of the prodigal son (see Luke 15:11-32), what is God waiting for you to do in your life right now?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dec. 6, 2015 Wednesday: St. Andre Bessette

Dec. 6, 2015 Wednesday: St. Andre Bessette

“I am only a man, just like you,” time after time Brother André Bessette reminded petitioners who came to him. Known as a miracle worker of healing during his lifetime, this humble lay brother insisted on giving all the credit to God, the faith of those healed, and the intercession of St. Joseph. Quietly, he said, “I will pray for you.” Time after time, healing came.

Brother André was born Alfred Bessette in 1845 in a small town near Montreal. He was the sixth of ten children of a carpenter and woodcutter. At his birth, Alfred was so frail that the midwife baptized him immediately. Throughout life, his health remained poor. No one would have predicted that he would live to the ripe old age of ninety-one.

Son of a woodcutter, and eighth of twelve children. When Alfred was only nine years old, his father was killed in a work-related accident, his mother of tuberculosis, and he was adopted at age twelve by a farmer uncle who insisted he work for his keep. Over the years Andre worked as a farmhand, shoemaker, baker, blacksmith, and factory worker. At 25 he applied to join the Congregation of the Holy Cross; Andre was initially refused due to poor health, but he gained the backing of Bishop Bourget, and was accepted.

Doorkeeper at Notre Dame College, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. He spent much of each night in prayer, and on his window sill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph, to whom Andre was especially devoted. “Some day,” Andre believed, “Saint Joseph will be honored on Mount Royal.”

Andre had a special ministry to the sick. He would rub the sick person with oil from a lamp in the college chapel, and many were healed. Word of his power spread, and when an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, Andre volunteered to help; no one died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. “I do not cure,” he always said; “Saint Joseph cures.” By his death, he was receiving 80,000 letters each year from the sick who sought his prayers and healing.

For many years the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother Andre and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph on it, and soon after, the owners yielded, which incident helped the current devotion to Saint Joseph by those looking to buy or sell a home. Andre collected money to build a small chapel and received visitors there, listening to their problems, praying, rubbing them with Saint Joseph‘s oil, and curing many. The chapel is still in use.

Brother André died on January 6, 1937 at the age of 91. During the week that his body lay in state outside of St. Joseph’s Oratory, it is estimated that one million people braved the bitter Montreal winter to pay their respects. The basilica was eventually completed and remains a major pilgrimage site, attracting over two million visitors a year. The side chapels are filled with the crutches of people healed through St. André’s prayers.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jan. 3, 2016: Epiphany C

Jan. 3, 2016: Epiphany C

Click to hear Audio Homily
In October 1962, a songwriter named Noel Regney was walking through the streets of New York City. He noticed that no one on the street was smiling; there was a sense of despair in the air. His boss had recently asked him to write a Christmas song for the radio, but for days he could not find inspiration in the city where a general malaise had set in. At that time, the Soviet Union and the United States were involved in a crisis centered on missiles the Russians had installed in Cuba. The United States threatened military action if the missiles were not removed. The world trembled at the possibility of a nuclear war and prayed as these two nuclear powers stood eyeball-to-eyeball. As he walked the streets of New York City, the songwriter pondered about the horrors of World War II that he endured in his native country France. He knew the fear and terror of being close to death. The safe and secure life he had built for himself in the United States seemed as though it was on the verge of ending. En route to his home, he spotted two mothers with their babies in strollers. The little angels were looking at each other and smiling. All of a sudden, his mood changed and an inspiration came; the little ones reminded him of newborn lambs. He rushed home and wrote down the lyrics that came to his mind. He asked his wife to put music to the lyric. Thus came about a classic Christmas song that is beloved everywhere even now.

Noel Regney was, in a sense, in search of Christ -- similar to the search the Magi faced over two thousand years ago. We do not know what was happening in the personal lives of the three Kings, but they were inwardly prompted to search for Christ. Something clicked inside of them when they saw the star in the sky, and they interpreted it as a sign for them to follow. Before they left on their journey, the three Kings prepared gifts for the child. They didn’t just haphazardly pack the camels and leave on their trip; for them, this was a pilgrimage, knowing that at the end of the trip they were going to encounter the Christ Child, and they were going to offer something of themselves as a gift to the Christ Child. Their faithfulness to their calling was strong. They overcame every difficulty and hindrance which stood in their way, so as to follow the star. They made tremendous sacrifices for this pilgrimage. They had to leave their country, their palaces, their families, and their kingdom, or in other words, they had to leave everything which was most dear to them in the world.

Whether we know it or not, we too are in search for Christ. Like Noel Regney and the Three Kings, we are pilgrims on a pilgrimage to encounter Christ. Looking back this past year, we may have had both joyful and painful experiences, loss of our loved ones, or disappointments. We may ask ourselves, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ We are in search for an answer or meaning to which there seems be no adequate explanation. Instead of being anxious of what will happen this year, pray that we will see the signposts of God’s presence and providence each day. Among the new year’s resolutions we make this year, make it a resolution to answer God’s invitation to know and love His Son more. God asks us to embark on this journey with joyful anticipation, willing to be open, flexible, and accept His guidance, wherever it may lead us. On our pilgrimage to find Christ in our lives, we too must sacrifice and give ourselves to Him. We will find that as we begin to search for the Christ Child, we will see and hear His presence in all the ordinary events of our lives -- just as Noel Regney captured in the Christmas song he wrote during Cuban Missile Crisis attests:

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
“Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb, 
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite.”

Said the king to the people everywhere,
“Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light.”

-Fr. Paul Yi