Friday, September 30, 2016

Oct. 1, 2016: St. Therese of Lisieux

Oct. 1, 2016: St. Therese of Lisieux
Trusting God with St. Therese of Lisieux

Saints are human, superbly human. They live life as God intends us all to live it. They suffer as much as we would in their situations. They struggle against sin. They respond to their trials with heroic virtue. We should not confuse acceptance of grief with denial of it. Just as I used to think that Christians should never get angry at all, I also believed that sorrow meant a lack of trust in God. I thought acceptance of suffering meant not crying, not feeling wounded or lonely or lost. I’m astonished when I recall how recently I realized this was wrong.  

The older I got, the more tragedy I observed in the lives of those around me. My nephew contracted leukemia. A friend’s daughter died at age four. One of Dan’s friends from high school passed away. Life was suddenly fragile. It seemed only a matter of time before sorrow hit me more directly.  

At the same time, I was encountering more sin and weakness in myself than I had realized were there. Striving to follow the teachings of the Carmelite saints, I expected that soon I would have a conversion like Therese did. I expected God to come and take over the work that I was unable to do. Instead, I saw little progress against sin in my life. I couldn’t understand why God would not relieve me of my anger problem, for example.  

Getting stuck in the spiritual life caused me to ask questions I would never have considered before. Had the Carmelite saints erred? Was holiness just for the few, not the many? Could I really trust God? Could I even be sure that he existed?  

Focusing on the present 
Worrying about the future is pointless. We can only live in the present. Jesus told his disciples, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mt 6: 34). God’s grace exists in the present. Remember when we discussed the question what if? Asking what if? distracts us from God’s plan. In a similar way, obsessing over the future paralyzes us. It restrains us from doing God’s will today. Today we have work to do. We have children to care for, jobs to carry out, prayers to offer. Today we can bring light to a neighbor in darkness. Today we can repent and forgive. God offers us the grace to endure at the moment that we meet with hardship, not before.  

Our culture, advanced in medicine and safety standards, has pushed death to the far corners of existence. Death affects our daily lives much less than it did the lives of our ancestors. The Martin family’s losses were common for the period. Our unfamiliarity with death, coupled with the demise of Christian culture, produces some pathetic offspring, metaphorically speaking. We spend thirty dollars for an ounce of wrinkle cream, thinking that if we stay young looking, we can ward off death. We cling to adolescent attitudes and behaviors. If we never grow up, perhaps we can live forever. We promote assisted suicide in the false belief that if we can control the manner of our death we will find peace. Yet peace eludes us.  

Jesus faced the Devil, sin, and death. He calls us to imitate him. “The trust taught by Christ is not based on a denial of the reality of suffering or evil” (SP 130). On the contrary, as Fr. Groeschel states, denying our fears jeopardizes our spiritual growth (ibid.). We cannot run away from suffering, unless we would run away from the Cross. No matter how much we imagine we control our lives, death will come in the end.  

Let us relinquish control to God. Let us learn to say along with God the Son, “Father, your will be done.” God is a tender Father, who holds our hands as we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” (Ps 23: 4) and who leads us beyond it to eternal life. Therese’s grieving for her father was natural and healing. She did not have to pretend to be strong. She just had to accept the Father’s will. She learned to lean on the Fatherhood of God. She entered even more into the way of spiritual childhood. -Connie Rossini, "Trusting God with St. Therese"


Sept. 30, 2016: St. Jerome


Filled with Joy and Peace

1133 During prayer, I heard these words: My daughter, let your heart be filled with joy. I, the Lord, am with you. Fear nothing. You are in My heart. At that moment, I knew the great majesty of God, and I understood that nothing could be compared with one single perception of God. Outward greatness dwindles like a speck of dust before one act of a deeper knowledge of God. 

1134 The Lord has poured such a depth of peace into my soul that nothing will disturb it any more. Despite everything that goes on around me, I am not deprived of my peace for a moment. Even if the whole world were crumbling, it would not disturb the depth of the silence which is within me and in which God rests. All events, all the various things which happen are under His foot.

-Diary of St. Faustina

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sept. 29, 2016: Our mission in the Church

Our mission in the Church

481 Almost every feast of the Church gives me a deeper knowledge of God and a special grace. That is why I prepare myself for each feast and unite myself closely with the spirit of the Church. What a joy it is to be a faithful child of the Church! Oh, how much I love Holy Church and all those who live in it! I look upon them as living members of Christ, who is their Head. I burn with love with those who love; I suffer with those who suffer. I am consumed with sorrow at the sight of those who are cold and ungrateful; and I then try to have such a love for God that it will make amends for those who do not love Him, those who feed their Savior with ingratitude at its worst.

482 O my God, I am conscious of my mission in the Holy Church. It is my constant endeavor to plead for mercy for the world. I unite myself closely with Jesus and stand before Him as an atoning sacrifice on behalf of the world. God will refuse me nothing when I entreat Him with the voice of His Son. My sacrifice is nothing in itself, but when I join it to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it becomes all-powerful and has the power to appease divine wrath. God loves us in His Son; the painful Passion of the Son of God constantly turns aside the wrath of God.

483 O God, how I desire that souls come to know You and to see that You have created them because of Your unfathomable love. O my Creator and Lord, I feel that I am going to remove the veil of heaven so that earth will not doubt Your goodness.

Diary of St. Faustina

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sept. 29, 2016: Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel

Sept. 29, 2016: Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel

Padre Pio's devotion to St. Michael the Archangel

Vincent Falco was born in 1929 in Naples, Italy. His childhood consisted mostly of hard work and long hours spent in helping his parents in the family lime kiln business. Vincent moved to the United States in 1951 when he was twenty-one years old. He had an employee at his cafe that troubled him. Someone suggested that he consult Padre Pio. Although Vincent had been baptized into the Catholic Church, he was not a practicing Catholic. He believed in God and in the power of prayer, but his Catholic faith was like a distant memory to him. He had not seen or spoken to a priest in a long time. He estimated that he would spend less than an hour in San Giovanni Rotondo and go straight back to Naples. It would undoubtedly be a very short trip. If Padre Pio could not supply any answers, he had lost nothing but time, and not very much time at that.

Shortly after his arrival in San Giovanni Rotondo, an unusual feeling came over Vincent. He felt a kind of disassociation from all of his ordinary concerns and preoccupations. He felt detached from his life, from his senses, from his surroundings and from everything else for that matter. He didn’t feel like himself. As he analyzed it, he realized that the feeling started almost as soon as he stepped out of the taxi and started walking toward the church of Our Lady of Grace. The next morning at 5:30 a.m. Vincent attended Padre Pio’s Mass. The Mass was held in an outdoor arcade, by the church. It was very crowded for a week day Mass and Vincent had to sit in the very back. As a matter of fact, for all of the days that Vincent was to spend in San Giovanni Rotondo, he never managed to find a seat close to the altar. When Padre Pio came to the altar to celebrate Mass and Vincent saw him for the first time, he was deeply impacted. Vincent said, “From the moment I laid eyes on him, I believed in him. Everything about him - his expression, his bearing, his person, spoke of holiness. He was so humble and so holy. He was too holy for this world. And not only that, he was not of this world.”

On the eleventh day of Vincent’s stay in San Giovanni Rotondo, his ticket number was called and he was finally able to go to confession to Padre Pio. At that time, the men’s confessions were face to face. A kneeler was provided right beside the chair where Padre Pio was seated. Confessions to Padre Pio were characteristically short, no more than five minutes and often less. Due to the large numbers of people waiting, the individual confessions had to be of short duration. And yet, the time sufficed. A few words from Padre Pio were sufficient to impart the spiritual direction that so many of the pilgrims were seeking.

Vincent had many things he wanted to say to Padre Pio but for some reason, the words would not come. He wanted to tell Padre Pio that he had been away from the sacraments for a long time and he was now ready to make his life right with God. He wanted to confess his sins and to receive forgiveness. He had only been to confession once before and that was when he was seven years old. At that time, he had run away from the confessional in fear and had to be coaxed back by a relative. It had been so long since he had been to Mass that he could not even remember. His desire was to receive Holy Communion from Padre Pio before he returned to Naples. Now, suddenly, he was ready to reform his life.

Although Vincent could not find the words to speak to Padre Pio, it did not seem to be an obstacle in communication. Padre Pio was reading Vincent’s mind and responding to his thoughts, just as he was thinking them. He said to Vincent, “I cannot give you Holy Communion. You must go back to where you came from.” Vincent understood that Padre Pio was telling him that he must return, not to Naples, but to his home in Miami.

Padre Pio tapped Vincent three times and then showed him a little wooden statue of St. Michael, the Archangel that he was holding. “St. Michael wants to protect you,” he said. He pointed to the snake that was under St. Michael’s foot, a symbol of the power of St. Michael to crush Satan’s power. “You have been running from the devil for a long time. But if you do not stop what you are doing, the devil will have you,” Padre Pio said. The confession was over.

- by Diane Allen
Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry: True Stories of Padre Pio Book II

Sept. 28, 2016: 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Sept. 28, 2016: 26th Week in Ordinary Time

Patience, Prayer, and Silence

 + During Holy Mass, I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His Heart. After some time, He said, "I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners."

+ When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: “You can do all things.” And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him. (Diary of St. Faustina, 1032-1033)


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sept. 27, 2016: St. Vincent de Paul

Sept. 27, 2016: St. Vincent de Paul

"Good works are often spoiled by moving too quickly. . . . The good which God desires is accomplished almost by itself, without our even thinking of it. The works of God are not accomplished when we wish them, but whenever it pleases Him.
If after so much effort and prayer, the matter is not successful, it will be a clear sign that God does not will it." - St. Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul’s Story

The deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among poor tenant farmers and country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later, Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of Saint Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war, and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse, and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

Pope Leo XIII made him the patron of all charitable societies. Outstanding among these, of course, is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833 by his admirer Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-vincent-de-paul/

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sept. 26, 2016: Sts. Commas and Damian

Sept. 26, 2016: Sts. Commas and Damian

Jesus’ Sufferings and Yours

1 Peter 4:12-13: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you. . . . But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.”

Spiritual Question:
But how can I find joy and gladness in suffering?

Padre Pio’s assurance:
“I am suffering very much, but thanks to our good Jesus I still feel a little strength, and when aided by Jesus, what [good] is the creature not capable of doing?... I am happy to suffer with Jesus. In contemplating the cross on his shoulders, I feel more and more fortified, and I exult with holy joy.”
“So let us not weep.... Jesus chooses souls, and despite my unworthiness, he has chosen mine also to help him in the tremendous task of men’s salvation. “This is the whole reason why I desire to suffer.... In this consists all my joy. Unfortunately, I am in need of courage, but Jesus will not refuse anything. I can testify to this from long experience, so we should not stop asking him for what we need.”

Prayer
Dear Lord, use me for the salvation of others as well as my own. Amen.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sept. 25, 2016: 26th Sunday Ordinary C

Sept. 25, 2016: 26th Sunday Ordinary C
Click to hear Audio Homily
Mother Teresa had a favorite saying, “If we have eyes to see, we would see Jesus in disguise.” All of us have to admit that on occasion, we are blind in recognizing Jesus hidden in a person. On one occasion, a young mother brought her 11 yr. old son to see Mother Teresa. The boy wanted to see her because he believed that she would tell him the truth about his appearance. The young boy was terribly disfigured from an explosion when he lit a stick of dynamite thinking it was a firecracker. His face was badly scarred and his arms ended in stumps. Mother Teresa sat next to the boy and took his poor stumps in her hands, holding them while he talked to her. Mother first traced a finger over the disfiguring scars on his face, telling him that in her opinion they made him look manly and strong and gave him a courageous look. Then, as the boy asked if his stumps were terrible looking, she took each in her hands, stroked the places where the scars were the heaviest, kissed each stump, and told him they didn’t look a bit ugly, but were simply good strong-looking arms that had no hand. He then told her about his plans for the future, of one day being a counselor and using his own experiences to help others to overcome handicaps. Those who were near by seeing their interaction, were in tears. Perhaps Mother Teresa was revealing how God sees what we consider to be disfigurement or imperfection. Could you picture yourself sitting next to Mother Teresa? Could you imagine how Mother Teresa would trace her finger on what you consider to be an imperfection or a deep wound in you?

Aside from our inability to see God’s perfection in human imperfection and disability, another kind of blindness is indifference to human suffering. Today’s gospel reveals that well. In the parable, Jesus contrasts the life of a rich man and the poor man, Lazarus, who lives in the shadow of the rich man and his wealth. The rich man never ordered Lazarus removed from his gate. He did not kick him in passing nor was deliberately cruel to him. The great sin of the rich man was that HE NEVER EVEN NOTICED HIM. He thought it perfectly natural that the beggar be accepted as part of the landscape. He also thought it acceptable that Lazarus should lie in pain and hunger while he wallowed in luxury.

Christ united us in relationship to God and to one another through his suffering on the cross. The two relationships are intimately bound to one another. Thus, our response to God is shown in our love and service to our neighbors. To love our neighbor implies that we recognize and reverence his dignity and rights. In our material rich country, the loss of dignity and rights happens in persons who are lonely, unloved, and ignored.

As we look about in our own community, is there a landscape of suffering people or condition that we have come to accept with indifference or irrelevance? Mother Teresa used to say, “People are hungry for God. People are hungry for love...Do you have eyes to see? Quite often we look but we don't see. We are all passing through this world. We need to open our eyes and see.” Perhaps the greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the indifference toward the neighbor who lives right around us. We may say to ourselves that the suffering or the need we see right around the corner is a systemic problem--generational poverty, racism--that we cannot solve on our own. Mother Teresa’s response to pain and need was to do little things, with great love. She invites us to not to be overwhelmed by numbers but to focus only on one neighbor that we can personally touch. Perhaps it can be something small such as helping someone learn to read, write a resume, or how to make a personal budget. We are not called to help masses, but to have common decency and respect for one person. When was the last time that you let someone ahead of the line? When was the last time you gazed upon someone with compassion and a smile. -Fr. Paul Yi

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sept. 23, 2016: Padre Pio

Sept. 23, 2016: Padre Pio

Our Desires

1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation. . . .”
Hebrews 11:16: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

Spiritual Question:
But too many times worldly desires overpower my desire to love God.

Padre Pio’s assurance:
“We sometimes desire to be good angels, and we neglect to be good people. Our imperfection must accompany us to the coffin, and we cannot reach this without the earth. We shouldn’t sleep there nor turn around, given that we are like little chickens, without the wings, however. Little by little we die to physical life, and this is an ordinary law held by providence.”
“Let us be content with walking with our feet on the ground, as being in the wide open sea makes us dizzy and causes convulsions. Let us stay at the feet of the divine Master with Mary Magdalene.”
“Oh how burdensome this mortal life is to the children of God. But the next life, which the mercy of the Lord will be pleased to grant us, will be more than we could desire.”

Prayer:
Lord, make my desire to love you always overpower my worldly desires, and use me to serve you by serving those around me. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sept. 21, 2016: St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Sept. 21, 2016: St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Let Jesus Be the Victim in You You have said “Yes” to Jesus and He has taken you at your word….God cannot fill what is full. He can fill only emptiness, deep poverty. And your “Yes” is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really “have” to give, but how empty we are, so that we can receive [Him] fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.

In you today He wants to relive His complete submission to His Father. Allow Him to do so. [It] does not matter what you feel, as long as He feels all right in you. Take away your eyes from yourself and rejoice that you have nothing, that you are nothing, that you can do nothing. Give Jesus a big smile each time your nothingness frightens you.

This is the poverty of Jesus. You and I must let Him live in us and through us in the world. Cling to Our Lady, for she too, before she could become full of grace, full of Jesus, had to go through that darkness. “How can this be done?” But the moment she said “Yes” she had need to go in haste and give Jesus to John and his family.
-Mother Teresa

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sept. 20, 2016: St. Andrew Kim, St. Paul Cho˘ng Hasang, and 103 Martyrs of Korea

Sept. 20, 2016: St. Andrew Kim, St. Paul Cho˘ng Hasang, and 103 Martyrs of Korea

Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn's Last Letter to His Parish
written from prison before martyrdom

My dear brothers and sisters, know this: Our Lord Jesus Christ upon descending into the world took innumerable pains upon and constituted the holy Church through his own passion and increases it through the passion of its faithful....

Now, however, some fifty or sixty years since the holy Church entered into our Korea, the faithful suffer persecutions again. Even today persecution rages, so that many of our friends of the same faith, among whom I am myself, have been thrown into prison. just as you also remain in the midst of persecution. Since we have formed one body, how can we not be saddened in our innermost hearts? How can we not experience the pain of separation in our human faculties?

However, as Scripture says, God cares for the least hair of our heads, and indeed he cares with his omniscience; therefore, how can persecution be considered as anything other than the command of God, or his prize, or precisely his punishment?...

We are twenty here, and thanks be to God all are still well. If anyone is killed, I beg you not to forget his family. I have many more things to say, but how can I express them with pen and paper? I make an end to this letter. Since we are now close to the struggle, I pray you to walk in faith, so that when you have finally entered into Heaven, we may greet one another. I leave you my kiss of love.

-- Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn in his last letter to his parish

Today in South Korea there are approximately 4 million Catholics, and Korea has the 4th largest number of Catholic saints in the world.

---------------

This first native Korean priest, St. Andrew Kim, was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After baptism at the age of fifteen, Andrew traveled thirteen hundred miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay apostle and a married man, aged forty-five. Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for an annual journey to Beijing to pay taxes. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found four thousand Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were ten thousand Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.

When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984, he canonized Andrew, Paul, ninety-eight Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were laypersons: forty-seven women, forty-five men.

Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of twenty-six. She was put in prison, pierced with hot awls and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of thirteen, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a forty-one-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 18, 2016: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C

September 18, 2016: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C
Click to hear audio homily

A crisis sometimes brings the best out of us as well as the worst out of us. The past month, we have been hearing incredible, inspiring human stories as well as treacherous stories of people preying upon the vulnerable. One lady said of her experience on the night of the flooding, "About 10:30 Sunday evening, when we had a foot and a half of water in the street, two young men who looked like they were barely out of their teens showed up at my door and loaded me, my husband,15 cats, three dogs and a rabbit to the Celtic Media Center." There was no monetary reward for these young men, but in that crisis, they were prompted by something greater than the need for money to brave the water to save people.

“Enterprising” is a word that can be both positive and negative. It means showing initiative and resourcefulness. The manager or the steward in the gospel could be described as “enterprising.” When his employer found out that he was engaging in dishonest business deals, he faced unemployment. He quickly used his managerial skills to provide for his future by winning over his employer’s debtors with apparent generosity. This steward wasted the resources that he had through the use of his conniving and cheating with others in the business world. His love for money determined his course of conduct and he exercised corrupt authority and power with it. We need to reflect on these few verses about our involvement with money, trust, and integrity. As Our Lord reminds us,
No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.

Can we describe Mother Teresa as “enterprising”? It just doesn’t sound right does it? She didn’t use her gifts and talents to benefit herself. She put all her gifts and resourcefulness toward serving the Lord and the poor. When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she asked if they would cancel the banquet for 135 persons to be held in honor. She asked that the $7,000 cost of the banquet be sent to her mission in Calcutta where it would feed 400 people for a full year. When she accepted the prize, she didn’t accept it for her honor. Instead she accepted it, “in the name of the hungry, of the naked, of the homeless, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society.”

I heard a catchy song online, and the lyrics are:
I don't know why, know why
Everybody wanna die rich
Diamonds, champagne, newest of the new planes
Work your way down that list.
We try, everybody tries
Tries to fit into that ditch
You can't take it with you when you go
Never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch

Mother Teresa’s initiative and resourcefulness teaches us about how we should live our life here on earth. We are called by God to use our material goods in a way that will help us as we stand face to face with God on judgment day. Everyone here on earth is an administrator of God’s goods; we are not the owner. Therefore, what we have is temporary and all that we accumulate means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Instead, what we are is permanent. What happens inside will remain and grow in us and bear fruit in the eternal life in heaven.

When we consider our life only in terms of economics of accumulation, we will not care about the most needy—the poor, the sick, the disabled, the elderly. True Christian life rises above economic considerations. Out of love for Christ,  and through Him, we utilize our gifts to serve our fellow man, who in God’s eyes is equal to us. Like the steward, we too will have to give an account of our actions and how we put to use God’s goods to further His Kingdom on earth. Let us earnestly pray, as did Mother Teresa, not to be tempted to use our gifts toward building a sand castle here on earth but a castle in heaven.

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sept. 17, 2016: What 'Night' means

Sept. 17, 2016: What 'Night' means

What 'Night' means according to St. John of the Cross

The word ‘night’ means ‘I know what you’re going through’, but also ‘. . . and it is important to respond in the right way’. John’s concern is not just to condole, but to help us bear pain creatively.

We saw that the experience of our weakness can lead us to an admission: that we are not our own saviours. Then, following the broad pattern of the books of Night, we saw that darkness can herald the approach of God, cleaving us off ourselves, opening us to himself. That can apply in prayer, and at depths of intensity we might scarcely think possible. But the pattern fits well too around the irritations that tense the most everyday lives. These experiences are painful, confusing, feel unacceptable, and such feelings can be rightly owned. But, for night to be dichosa, blessed, there needs also, at some level, to be a ‘yes’.

To get a sense of this, we might think, on the one hand, of a tendency from which we have longed to be free –those ingrained weaknesses which Night so skilfully exposed. It might be anger; or a crippling shyness; or a distorting lust; or the constant referral of everything to myself as the centre of pity or praise. We beg God to set us free. ‘But I know he won’t; it is too deep, and it has swooped up from nowhere too often before.’ Change feels impossible, and the hope of release can just tail off into despair.

On the other hand, we might think of negative happenings, which grate or sting or ache. They are not our doing (they come like night) and they together comprise the downside of life: embarrassments, insults, a put-down; the company of people who excel at the one thing I felt good at myself; the humiliation of failure or rejection. These are disconcerting, and if we joked them off at the start, and felt strong enough to ride them, we can come to feel crushed, with the risk of growing bitter.

We put a lot of emotional energy into those two areas: personal weaknesses, from which we long to be free; negative situations which come uninvited upon us. Left like that, they are a recipe for despair in the weakness and resentment at what hurts us. To leaving it like that, ‘night’ suggests an alternative. When the negative comes upon you, then remember your desire to be free –free from the personal weakness which was crippling you. It is here that God is doing it, and it is important not to panic, or run away.

Suppose, then, we get no thanks after going out of our way to help. The spontaneous reaction is to sting inside and make that ‘the last time I ever do anything for them’. That is a time to recall the longing we may have had to grow out of our narrowness and sensitivity; and to thank God for this.

It is right of course to grieve, to take a stand, and to seek a remedy. But it is important too not to miss the God-content in the darkness. On offer is freedom from ourselves, for a God who fills. To trust –that God is present in this –can turn the pain, where there has to be pain, from death-throes into the pangs of birth.

Trust is the key to growth. One of John’s images for growth is a mountain climb –The Ascent of Mount Carmel. But close reading reveals that his mountain, like Elijah’s Carmel in Israel, like Moses’ Horeb in Sinai, is a religious mountain. It speaks of communion, where the goal is not to sink a solitary flag-pole into the summit, but to ‘make an altar of oneself’ there for ‘a sacrifice of love’.

-Fr. Iain Matthew, OCD
THE IMPACT OF GOD: Soundings from St John of the Cross

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sept. 15, 2016: Our Lady of Sorrows (All School Mass)

Sept. 15, 2016: Our Lady of Sorrows (All School Mass)
 
Those of you who play sports know how many hours you prepare in practice in order to win a game. Many of our football players have spent hours in weightlifting, strength training, and running all summer long just to compete well at the game tomorrow. Have you ever thought about how God prepares each one of us for an important mission? Today we celebrate Blessed Mother’s feast day. In particular, we celebrate the sorrows of her life. It may sound strange, to celebrate sorrows; we are used to celebrating joyful moments. But sorrowful moments are also part of God’s way of preparing us.

From the very beginning, Blessed Mother was being prepared for one thing--to be at the foot of the cross of Calvary and to be given to us as our Mother. Every moment that she faced--both joyful and sorrowful--was preparation for that moment at Calvary. There she was given to us so that she could lead us to her Son.

At the Annunciation (when Blessed Mother learned she would be the mother of Jesus), the Visitation (when her cousin Elizabeth recognized her as the ‘mother of my Lord’), the Nativity (at the Birth of Jesus) and the finding of Jesus in the temple (when Jesus proclaimed that he must be in His father’s house), Blessed Mother grew to understand that her life was to play an important role in the life of Jesus. She celebrated the greatest joys of being a mother and wept over the deepest sorrows, and pondered it all in her heart.

Every moment of our earthly life, too, is a preparation for the moment when we stand at Calvary of our lives with Jesus and Blessed Mother. Such moments may be when we lose someone we love, when we go through a difficult trial, or prolonged illness. Blessed Mother is there with us, to encourage and comfort us. She invites us to stand with her Son at the cross. There underneath the cross is where the drops of grace flow from the pierced side of Jesus and renew us. We will learn at those moments how to invite others and lead them to Her Son on the cross.

Think of the particularly difficult challenge you face now. Can you see it as God’s preparation for you to be with His Son and Blessed Mother at Calvary? Can you see it as a way to grow closer to Jesus?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sept. 14, 2016: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Sept. 14, 2016: Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Internal Cross of Jesus

"My soul is filled with sorrow even to the point of death" (Mk 14:34)

If Jesus was all love, He was also all suffering. He longed "to be baptized with a baptism of blood" (cf. Lk 12:50). His external cross was as a relif, or rest, compared to the interior suffering of His Heart that crucified Him. From the moment of His Incarnation, this inner cross oppressed Him and throughout His life, the thorns of human ingratitude pierced Him.

Jesus kept those sufferings hidden and veiled. He smiled, worked and preached, but He hid His interior suffering (which Mary surmised), which He offered as the purest incense to His Father in all the instances of His life. The martyrdoms that tortured Him interiorly are neither taken into account nor are they appreciated.

That little cross, which we contemplate driven into the upper portion of Jesus' Heart, represents to us the most exquisite pain and a pain without relief. It is only in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that He allows us a vague idea of the torture which, during His entire life, tore His innocent Heart to shreds.

Water and blood gushed forth from this Inner Sanctuary of Love to purify and save me. Jesus was willing to be left without blood, but not without me. He let His veins be drained for love of me. He opened the Fountain of Life so that my lips might drink and my soul might inebriate itself with purity and sanctity with this Wine that brings forth virgins.

Have I at least been grateful for these internal sufferings? Do I love them? Do I honor them? Do I meditate on them? Do I make them known? Do I ask for them and do I embrace them in order to console Jesus?

If all the graces which we receive were solely the fruit of love, there would be motive enough to die of gratitude that we might make all the sacrifices in order to respond to that fervent love. But if they are also the fruit of sufferings--if to come forth from the Heart of Jesus, they tore it apart and they caused Him to shed blood--then where is there sufficient gratitude to appreciate them and adequate love to respond to them?

In this internal cross we find our salvation. This wound is the door to heaven, the manifestation of that longing with which the Heart of Jesus wanted to redeem us. From this sea of infinite Love, Eternal Happiness overflows in torrential streams.

Prayer
Although we do not deserve it, we open our arms and our whole soul with holy enthusiasm so that this Heart of Love can empty out its bitter sufferings to them, because we experience our greatest happiness when consoling Him.

At your side and with your help, Mary, what can we fear? I know that you are ever at the foot of Calvary. This being the case, let all the crucifixions come, because in the shadow of our Blessed Mother nothing will be too hard for us, for we can do all things in Him who comforts us. Amen.

- Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, "What Jesus is Like"
The Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (Conchita) was born in San Luis Potosi on December 8, 1862 and died in Mexico, D.F. on March 3, 1937. Wife, mother, foundress and lay apostle, the cause for her beatification is well under way today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sept. 13, 2016: What Jesus is like - His Name

Sept. 13, 2016: What Jesus is like - His Name Jesus' Name is a Name of love, of suffering and of hope! But what a price Jesus paid to receive this most sweet Name which means Savior!
What a sweet Name is Jesus' Name! What a heavenly sentiment one feels when pronouncing it! How much the soul glimpses through this Name! There is something very pure, very beautiful and harmonious in it. Something made up of light and purity. Of love and suffering. Of fidelity and of loyalty! Something which one cannot look full on, because it is blinding. Which one cannot embrace without caution, because it melts one. Which, nevertheless, in all Its Light the soul longs to contemplate and to embrace without any limits. Jesus is a Name of peace which calms all storms. A Name of light which illuminates the night of the spirit. A Name which embraces and consoles. Which sustains and gives one the strength for sacrifice. A Name which penetrates even to the inner recesses of hearts and purifies them. A Name of glory and splendor. A Name that tastes of heaven. Adorable Name! Who is not enchanted by Your sweetness? Who does not experience Your virtue? At times I see Him as a child. The first thing you ask a child is, "What is your name?" Let us do this often with Jesus. He will answer in the depths of our soul. With the sweetness and love that are so characteristic of Him, He will tell us what we need to hear. "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (Jn 11:25). His Divine Lips will tell us over and over that our faith will be illuminated and our hope for future happiness will expand the breadth of our souls, anguished at the thought of the death of those we love. "It is I. Do not be afraid" (Mk 6:50). We shall hear, be touched and feel ourselves relieved of a great weight that oppresses us as we become aware of His Compassion, His Charity, and His Infinite Love. Jesus wants love from us more than fear. He wants more confidence, abandonment, love and gratefulness. How can we fear Him Who came to earth to save us? -Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, "What Jesus is Like"

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sept. 12, 2016: Most Holy Name of Blessed Virgin Mary

Sept. 12, 2016: Most Holy Name of Blessed Virgin Mary

The name “Mary,” being the name of the Blessed Mother, deserves special respect and devotion, and is thereby celebrated in four ways: First, Mary is a name of honor, since the faithful praise Mary as the Mother of our Divine Savior; she is rightfully called “Mother of God,” for Jesus true God, second person of the Holy Trinity entered this world becoming also true man through Mary who had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, Mary is a most holy name, because the very mention of her name reminds us she is full of grace, has found favor with God, and is blessed among all women. Third, Mary is a maternal name, because she is our Mother, whom our Lord gave to us a He was dying on the cross (cf. John19:26-27). Finally, Mary is a name of the mother who responds to all of our needs, protects us from evil, and prays “for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

The holy name of Mary has been revered in many ways. St. Louis de Montfort (d. 1716) said, “The whole world is filled with her glory, and this is especially true of Christian peoples, who have chosen her as guardian and protectress of kingdoms, provinces, dioceses, and towns. Many cathedrals are consecrated to God in her name. There is no church without an altar dedicated to her, no country or region without at least one of her miraculous images where all kinds of afflictions are cured and all sorts of benefits received. Many are the confraternities and associations honoring her as patron; many are the orders under her name and protection; many are the members of sodalities and religious of all congregations who voice her praises and make known her compassion. There is not a child who does not praise her by lisping a ‘Hail Mary.’ There is scarcely a sinner, however hardened, who does not possess some spark of confidence in her. The very devils in hell, while fearing her, show her respect.”
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"Greet Mary frequently with the ‘Ave Maria!’ Salute Mary, think Mary, honor Mary, lean on Mary, commend yourself to Mary and repeat the Name of Mary. Be with Mary everywhere, be silent with Mary, pray with Mary, rejoice with Mary, be sad with Mary, work with Mary, walk and sit with Mary, and be recollected with Mary." - Thomas A Kempis, Author of "Imitation of Christ"

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sept. 11, 2016: 24th Sunday Ordinary C

Click to hear Audio Homily Have you ever lost something valuable? How did you feel when you lost it and what did you do to try to find it? A few days ago, Fr. Joe went to anoint a parishioner. Some time later while leaving the activity center, he noticed that his holy oil container was missing from his keychain. Although a new container would have cost only $20, he frantically searched everywhere for it because it was an ordination gift from a seminary classmate. He spent time retracing his steps through Donaldsonville, including returning to the activity center. He mentioned to those gathered at the center that the container was missing and everyone suggested that they ask St. Anthony to intercede. When Fr. Joe left the activity center, he noticed the missing container was in the grass and he was quite overjoyed. He didn’t throw a party like the man who lost the sheep, the woman who lost a coin, or the father of the prodigal son. Fr. Joe was overjoyed, nonetheless; for him, it was an intervention from heaven.
Have you ever wondered how God feels when He loses something? You may think that he is all knowing so he can’t possibly lose anything. But when we read through the scriptures, we find stories of loss. The first loss we learn about is Adam and Eve; when they hide in the Garden after eating the fruit, God calls out to them, “Where are you?” We know also that the Israelites were lost in the desert, wandering for 40 years. These scriptures and others are not so much about our search for God but God’s passionate search for us. In the gospel reading today, Jesus reveals the very heart of God through the three parables: lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. In these parables, Jesus underscored the immense value God places on each individual. For example, in the parable of lost sheep, only one sheep was lost out of a flock of one hundred. From a practical standpoint, the shepherd may have been wise to “cut his losses” by staying with the ninety-nine. Yet, he diligently seeks out his wayward sheep. Rather than being irritated or angry, the shepherd shows special care for the weak, the lost, and the broken. Each sheep is dear to him simply because it belongs to him, and the loss of even one in a hundred grieves him. The security and well-being of the whole flock is assured by the shepherd’s willingness to look for any wandering sheep. The same is true for the woman who lost a coin; the coin was important to her and she spent much time and effort looking for it. She rejoiced when she found the coin. At first glance both parables--lost sheep and lost coin-- seem to make the same point. The second parable, however, stresses the search for the lost item a little more than the first.
In the image of the father waiting for his lost son to return, we see the earnest desire of the Heavenly Father for our return to him, no matter what we have done. Through humble repentance, the lost son becomes a family member again by his father’s total acceptance of his son. Repentance and acceptance should be celebrated by all. Yet in the parable the elder brother is resentful of his brother’s return and is left to decide whether he will join the celebration. God is not just sitting patiently in heaven, waiting for penitent sinners to come home to Him. Rather, our heavenly Father sent His Son into the world to seek us out and find us, like a shepherd seeking his lost sheep, or like a father of a prodigal son who runs down the road to meet his lost son at the first sign of his appearing. There is an old Methodist hymn that echoes this theme: It is a thing most wonderful Almost too wonderful to be That God's own Son should come from heaven And die to save a child like me. And yet I know that it is true He chose a poor and humble lot And toiled and wept and bled and died For love of those who loved Him not. It is the most wonderful thing that God "rejoices" and is "filled with joy" whenever He finds His lost sheep! God love is committed and caring love, or better described as tender mercy. That's who He is. There is an intimacy between our God and His children, an intimacy of which mere hints are given in the Old Testament and revealed fully in the New Testament.
Recovering a lost sinner can take diligent effort, but the effort is worth it when the lost is found. Are you wondering that the lost sinner is sitting next to you? Don't wonder, we are each a lost sinner. At any moment, we could be the prodigal son, choosing to go away from the Father’s side, or the elder brother, choosing to be judgmental and resentful about those who leave the Father’s side. We should know that God is diligently pursuing his children who have wandered away. As disciples we should diligently engage in the search for sinners on behalf of the Father we serve. Jesus provides a clear example for us to follow. Finding lost "sheep" and missing "coins" is a disciple's priority. Jesus involved himself with sinners; so should we.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sept. 9, 2016: 23rd Week in Ordinary Time C

Sept. 9, 2016: 23rd Week in Ordinary Time C

How can we be like Jesus? After all, he’s Jesus Christ – son of God, consubstantial with the Father. How could any human being ever be like Jesus? Yet, in today’s gospel Jesus tells us that every disciple will be like his teacher. (Better choose our teachers wisely…) In light of these words we are reminded of an important fact; if we strive to become disciples of Jesus Christ then we will be like Jesus in due time if we keep seeking him.

Jesus instructs us to take the wooden beam from our own eye first. Yes, we must first find the healing we need so that we can see clearly. How do we do this? Where do we start? I believe we start by looking within and listening to our inner voice. Do you speak kind words to yourself? Do you love and appreciate the beautiful creature you are? Have you forgiven yourself for past behavior and wrong-doings? Remember, you are created in the image of an all loving God and this offers eventual perfection. Yet, all of us must take the steps necessary to reach perfection. We must finish the race strong!

SELF-FORGIVENESS: AN EXPRESSION OF SELF-LOVE

Let’s talk about self-love. You see, you can’t love others until you love yourself first. If your internal voice is constantly belittling you, criticizing you, vilifying you, telling you that you are not good enough, not smart enough, and/or that you are an unworthy sinner forever sentenced to a life of wretchedness, how could you ever fan the flames of the divine light God has placed within you? Your internal light is flamed with love – the fuel the Holy Spirit wants to shower you with.

You must love yourself before you can love others. While at first blush this statement may appear a bit cliché, it is an essential component to your emotional well-being. As we discussed earlier, it has been estimated that the average person experiences somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. While this number is up for debate, what is not debated is the fact that every human being has thousands and thousands of thoughts every day! Some of these thoughts are statements you say about yourself. Of these thoughts, some of them are true in the eyes of God, while others are lies planted by the Evil One with the sole intention of separating you from receiving all the glory God has for you.

You know you are speaking truth to yourself when your thoughts are congruent with God’s vision of who you are, a perfect and lovable creation. You are his child, a child of the one true King, and therefore you are special, unique, and perfect just the way you are. Thoughts that are loving, kind, and compassionate toward yourself and others are thoughts from God, anything else is a lie and in need of transformation and release. Additionally, thoughts that find their root in God promote a sense of internal well-being, peace, and happiness, which you now know from earlier reading have a profound effect on your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

When your internal tape player repeats messages that are in alignment with God’s vision, you experience thoughts of truth, life, and light. In the presence of such truth, every cell of your being exists in harmony with Love itself and is therefore divinely supported. Much like a lie-detector test, your body will not be deceived by wrong self-talk. This is why we are programmed to seek happiness and not heartache. As your internal tapes play words of truth, every cell of your body, heart, and soul experiences the vibration of God’s love. In this environment, you become strong and vibrant. You then share this frequency with the world. In a nutshell, you can’t send love into the world when you internalize words in opposition to love about yourself. Remember, thoughts are things, and given this, they profoundly affect you.

Through forgiveness of false beliefs, you begin the internal healing transformation necessary so that you can become filled with the internal love God has for you. Remember, love and love’s companion emotions cannot occupy the same space in your heart that opposing emotions hold. Love cannot be present when anger is in your heart. Peace cannot be present when fear is in your heart. Hope cannot be present when despair is in your heart. Either you have love in a particular space in your heart, or you have some opposing emotion. If you find yourself speaking internal words that are self-deprecating, mean-spirited, belittling, and even possibly hateful, I recommend you write those false beliefs down and begin with them first. They have no business in your heart, and it is time for them to go.

I hope you learn how to love yourself like God loves you. He delights in you and created you as a lovable and adorable creature. I hope you learn how to be like Jesus on your life journey my friends. May you forgive and love as you experience the life God has for you!

– Carolyn Berghuis
http://www.acatholic.org/friday-9916-be-like-jesus/

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sept. 8, 2016: Nativity of Blessed Mother

The feast of the Nativity of Blessed Mother

Today we celebrate the birthday of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. Any birthday we celebrate gives us the opportunity of celebrating the gift of life. In every family the birthday of a mother has a special time of joy as she is the one who cares for all and this is one opportunity to respond fondly to that love. The day of the nativity of Mary is dear to us as she is our special intercessor with her son Jesus and gets all favors to us. There are many Marian feast days celebrated in the Catholic Church and each one is dear to us. Today’s feast is certainly a family feast and we thank God for the gift of the person of Mary who is so human and so loving. Before we are born, our mothers are our entire world; they enfold, nourish, and protect us. When we are born they continue to care for us, by comforting, nursing, and teaching us as we grow. Mothers do not stop being mothers just because we are grown. Our mother will always be our mother. So it is with our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. She will always be Jesus’ Mother, and she will always be our Mother with Jesus our brother. And if, for whatever reason, our own birth mother is not quite all we would like her to be, our Blessed Mother stands ready, arms open to take us in. As our Mother, she will continue to nourish, protect, comfort, and teach us as we grow. Daily prayers that greet and thank her for her love and care, and intercessory prayers that ask for her aid, ensure her place in our families, our homes, and our hearts. She is the Mother of God, the Queen of the Saints, the humble spouse of the Church, and attentive patron of hundreds of persons and we depend on her for all our needs.

The feast of the Nativity of Mary celebrated on the 8th of September is closely connected with the Immaculate Conception of Mary. From all eternity God prepared a fit dwelling place for his son and chose the pure sinless womb of the Virgin Mary. She was to be prepared by divine providence to be the Mother of Jesus the son of God, and therefore was conceived in the womb of her mother Anna, her father being Joachim, without the stain of sin and her birth is considered by the Church as a solemn event. With a special role in the salvation of the world, Our Lady’s birthday has been described as the hope of the entire world and the dawn of salvation. That is why the Liturgy of the day says: “Let us celebrate with joy the birth of the Virgin Mary, of who was born the Sun of Justice…. Her birth constitutes the hope and the light of salvation for the whole world…. Her image is light for the whole Christian people”. St. Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from who bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation and asks for an increase of peace.

Created as a new creation, the Second Eve, Mary was immaculate in nature from the moment of her conception. Mary was created holy, gave birth to the Son of God in holiness, lived a holy life in the Presence of God and was taken to Heaven in the fullness of her holiness. Truly, she shall be blessed every generation. That message of faith given to us on the nativity of Mary challenges us. There are times when our self-sufficient society would willingly banish the sight of suffering. In Lourdes Mary has created a city where the sick and the weak are the privileged partners of our care and concern. That is a sign from Mary also of the type of society we should be building. We need to experience the faith of Mary in our lives in these days.

Fr Eugene Lobo S.J. Mangalore, India
https://msjnov.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/the-feast-of-the-nativity-of-mary-september-08-2012/

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sept. 4, 2016: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Sept. 4, 2016: 23rd Sunday Ordinary C

Click to hear Audio Homily
A weekend ago, a group of parishioners from Ascension, St. Francis, and St. Jules parishes helped clean and gut out a home of an elderly man near St. Isidore Catholic Church in Baker. When we arrived, there were not that many things on the curb where the debris should have been because he was reluctant to throw away his possessions. When asked how many years he lived there, he replied, “I got married 64 years ago, and we bought this house a year later, so we’ve been in this house for 63 years.” In that small 3-bedroom home, he and his wife raised 10 children. Can you imagine 63 years of memories being carted away one by one by strangers pushing a wheelbarrow to the curb?
           
Some flood victims were able to find humor amid devastating tragedy. Chuck and Karen Craft of Walker, Louisiana were among the thousands of flooded residents dragging furniture, appliances, and other belongings out of their home. Chuck and his wife thanked God that their family survived and had a long cry about their condemned home. Although they threw away most of the contents of their home, they were trying to salvage photos of their four children and 16 grandchildren. Chuck said, “I guess God wanted me to de-clutter. I was too pig-headed to do it...My story is no different than anybody’s down the road. Everybody’s life is out on the curb to be picked up by garbage.”

The Book of Wisdom from the First Reading asks, Who can know what the Lord intends? Our human reasoning and intellect are not adequate for the task. Faith is not so much making guesses about inexplicable things that happen to us and gloss over it with a statement like, “Oh well,” where we begrudgingly accept a situation. Faith means that in the midst of chaotic moments in our lives we make a choice to trust Jesus. He challenges our most precious loyalties. There can be no other loves before him. There is a cost to following Jesus, and the curious and half-hearted should take notice.
             
Mother Teresa who is being canonized this Sunday knew well the cost of discipleship amid challenges. She said, “We must deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God. What matters is the gift of yourself, the degree of love that you put into each one of your actions. Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as you have done your best. Neither glory in your success, but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people's opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. The Lord has willed me here where I am. He will offer a solution.”
         
The flooding did not spare churches either. In our diocese, Holy Rosary in St. Amant, St. Ann in Sorrento, St. Anthony in Darrow, Immaculate Conception in Denham Springs, St. Alphonsus in Central, and St. Jean Vianney in Baton Rouge were all flooded. The past three weeks have been difficult for the pastors and parishioners alike for all faith traditions.  Imagine what we would be feeling and doing if our beloved churches and parishioners of Ascension and St. Francis were under 3 feet of water. Would we find joy in the midst of suffering?
         
This flooding that came upon us unannounced has challenged all of us, even those whose homes were not flooded. As we drive by streets filled with debris that was once precious possessions, we cannot help but wonder why this tragedy had to happen. Perhaps we feel helpless and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of destruction. Yet at the same time, we may feel the call from Jesus to think about what we are doing and decide if we are willing to trust Jesus all the way. Our faith should strip the mask from the world and reveal God in everything, even in this tragedy. Faith makes nothing impossible and renders meaningless such words as anxiety, danger, and fear, so that the one who trusts Jesus goes through life calmly and peacefully, with profound joy — like a child, hand in hand with his mother. Although in this time of upheaval it may be difficult for us to pray, we try, giving our best as St. Paul reminds us, “… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
 
Would you stand now and turn to the Gather Hymnal and sing this song with me?

Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust, 
yet the love of the Lord will stand / as a shelter for all who will call on His name. 
Sing the praise and the glory of God.

1. Could the Lord ever leave you? / Could the Lord forget His love?
Though a mother forsake her child, / He will not abandon you

2. Should you turn and forsake Him, / He will gently call your name.
Should you wander away from Him, / He will always take you back.

3. Go to Him when you're weary, / He will give you eagle's wings.
You will run never tire, / For your God will be your strength.

4. As he swore to your Fathers, / when the flood destroyed the land.
He will never forsake you, / He will swear to you again.