The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

GO USA & CANADA ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

This I got as a member of K of C, so I share it with you, because I find it very good.

We need more human beings like Paul Harvey....

Keep this going around the it, and forward it again. Every time you receive it. We can’t give up on this issue.

Paul Harvey and Prayer
Paul Harvey says:

I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I’m not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don’t agree with Darwin, but I didn’t go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what’s the big deal? It’s not like somebody is up there reading the entire book of Acts. They’re just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. But it’s a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, the United States of America and Canada are both countries that were founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting Hare Krishna? If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn’t be offended. It wouldn’t bother me one bit. When in Rome…

But what about the atheists? is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We’re not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that’s asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer! Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don’t think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating; to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well… just sue me. The silent majority has been silent too long... It’s time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard know that the vast majority don’t care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It’s time we tell them, you don’t have to pray; you don’t have to say the pledge of allegiance; you don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right... But by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back . .. and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America and Canada, despite all their faults. They are still the greatest nations of all. God bless our service men and women who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

May 2007 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Sunday of Lent

- Deuteronomy 26:4-10;
- Romans 10:8-13;
- Luke 4:1-13

Years ago the explorer, Richard Byrd, spent the winter alone at the South Pole. For almost 5 months he lived in total darkness, buried beneath the snow in a tiny room. The temperature in that room often dipped to 50 degrees below zero. Three times a day, Byrd climbed the stairs to the roof of his shelter, opened a trapdoor, pushed away the snow, and went out into the cold and darkness to record weather information.

Why did Byrd choose to live by himself during these months of total darkness? He answered that question in his book Alone where he says he did it because he wanted to get away from everything. He wanted to do some serious thinking. He writes: “And so it occurred to me . . . that here was the opportunity. . . . I should be able to live exactly as I chose, obedient to no necessities but those imposed by the wind and night and cold, and to no man’s law but my own.’’ After the first month of solitude, Byrd discovered something “good’’ happening. He discovered that you can live much more deeply and profoundly if you keep life simple and don’t clutter it with a lot of material things. Byrd emerged from his room a changed man. He ends his book with these words: “All this happened four years ago. Civilization has not altered my ideas. I live more simply now, and with more peace.”

We sometimes need to retire and go off into a desert to re-think our life and the forces present in it. We need to hide ourselves in a solitary place; we need to create a desert in our lives so to be able to think carefully about the demoniac forces and powers which try to terrorize our lives. And they are many.
There are the 7 capital sins or vices: pride, avarice, lust, gluttony, envy, anger, laziness.

1 - There is the temptation of the body which is famished and hungry, starving and lacking something, but not always necessarily food. The temptation of the body tries to dominate my life and tyrannize it. There is lust, the desire for any pleasure and not only what is sexual in nature. There is gluttony and laziness (a capital sin) – the bodily tyrants of our lives.
2 - The temptation of greed and materialism, the temptation of wanting to make more money, to possess more, and to have to be rich are all around us, these lead us to avarice and envy.
3 - And then there is the biggest temptation of all: pride - with our conceit, vanity and arrogance, the desire for power, the desire to dominate, and the arrogance of supremacy.

These forces are dominant in our contemporary society; these three temptations are present in the whole of our lives. Jesus had three proposals against these demoniac forces.....the three evangelical virtues:

1 - the virtue of chastity to counter the domination of the body - His answer: “one does not live by bread alone” – you are not only a carnal being, you are a spiritual being as well
2 - the virtue of poverty against the domination of money - His answer: “worship only the Lord your God” and not money, not material possessions
3 - the virtue of obedience against the domination of pride - His answer: “do not put the Lord your God to the test”. The obedience to the reason and not to the famished body, obedience to the conscience and not to the money, obedience to God.
These three “temptations” are dangerous because they reduce other people--- and even the material world--- to things that can be used purely for my personal gain. They are dangerous because they create a world and a society in which everyone has to compete to get as much for themselves as they can.
In such a rat race, a minority corners to itself a disproportionate amount of the world's goods while the majority is left without what they need.

Above all, living this kind of life are dangerous because they can create the prevailing creed of the society in which we live. They believe that undiluted happiness comes with winning millions in the lottery. They believe that the ownership of what they have acquired is absolute. But there is no absolute ownership of anything.
When we think of temptations, we tend to think of sexual sins, telling lies, losing our tempers, gossiping about people's real or imagined faults, getting angry, feeling resentment and the like.

But the really dangerous temptations are:
- to want material wealth for its own sake (the ability to turn anything into money ['bread']),
- to want status (everyone looking up to me),
- and power (manipulating people and things for my own ends), things which are seen as going with wealth, power and status.

Three key areas Rather than just seeing them as three consecutive temptations happening almost simultaneously at a particular moment, we should perhaps see them as three key areas where Jesus was tempted to compromise his mission during the whole of his public life. They were not just passing temptations of the moment, but temptations with which he was beset all throughout his public life.

Some real examples of these temptations can be found in the Gospel accounts:
- The Pharisees asked Jesus "to perform a miracle to show that God approved of him" (Mark 8:11).
- "Save yourself if you are God's Son! Come down from the cross!" (Matthew 27:40).
- After feeding 5,000 hungry people with an abundance of food, "the people there said, 'Surely this is the Prophet who was to come into the world!' Jesus knew that they were about to come and seize him in order to make him king by force; so he went off again to the hills by himself" (John 6:14-15).

Clearly, in varying forms, these temptations of Jesus can come into our lives too. They are certainly coming. What will my response be to them?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ash Wednesday
Joel 2, 12-18; Psalm 51; 2 Cor 5, 20-6,2; Matthew 6, 1-6. 16-18

LENT  equals ashes, fasting, fish on Fridays  it’s an easy cliché fixed in our minds.

These and many more things come to our minds as we begin this most important period of preparation in the Church year. Though the Church requires fasting and abstinence, these are not the most important things about Lent. Fasting and abstinence are no help to us unless they move us to deeper prayer, bring us to a deeper commitment to the most important truths about our life in Christ: baptism, forgiveness of sins and a share in the Resurrection through conversion of heart and mind.

The Catechism speaks of this conversion, a renewal of baptismal grace and vocation.

Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mk 1:15) In the Church's preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism (Cf. Acts 2:38) that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life. (CCC 1427)

But what we are doing in the reality of our daily life?
"When You Are Fasting"

In Jesus’ day, all people of faith fasted. Christ did not have to tell people to fast, Jesus only had to remind them what to do when fasting. Christ says, comb your hair, wash your face, dress like you usually dress. Because, God knows when we fast, we need not draw attention to ourselves when fasting.

When our Church says to fast, we are told to eat only one full meal the day of fast, that for the other two meals to eat only enough to sustain our strength. And, no snacking. Abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. As good Catholics, we carefully follow the rules.

Fasting is about much more. We follow the rules if we have lobster thermidor instead of prime rib. But nothing changes, we still had a great meal.

We want our fasting to turn us toward God. The Psalmist (35:13) said, when I "humbled myself with fasting," my heart turned to prayer. Way back in the seventh century, the spiritual master Bishop Isaac of Nineveh wrote that a person "armed with the weapon of fasting is always afire with zeal" for God.2 That’s exactly what we want. For God to become more and more our intimate friend.

Sometimes well meaning people will tell us to fast from being judgmental, or fast from criticizing others, or fast from gossip, or fast from an hour in front of the TV, and so on and so forth. All good ideas. But, they are not fasting. Fasting means to eat less. To fast, we limit our eating, or we skip a meal, or we do not eat anything one day of the week. As we control our appetites, our soul takes on renewed zeal for God. That’s our goal.

This Lent, check out fasting. With prayer see if you feel prompted by God to start a routine of fasting.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Equality Act against religious freedom …

The bishop of Paisley says that something sinister is happening in the United Kingdom.

In a pastoral letter to be read at his diocese's Masses today, Bishop Philip Tartaglia clarified Church teaching in face of the Equality Act 2006, which "will force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples and thereby go against the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church."

The Equality Act generated wide debate in the United Kingdom, and a united response from Christian and other religious leaders.

"For the first time in the modern era in this country, the Catholic Church is facing the prospect of being forced to act against her faith and against her convictions, or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution," Bishop Tartaglia explained.

"This is a deeply disturbing turn of events and it is not yet clear what kind of precedent this may set for other areas of the pastoral and social activity of the Catholic Church," he added.

The prelate encourages the faithful to "defend ourselves by all legitimate democratic means," and write public officials to make the point that "regulations deriving from equality legislation are unacceptable if they damage religious freedom and the right of conscience."


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 26:2,7-9;12-13;22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Luke 6:27-38

Do not Judge

You know certainly the famous “law of the echo.’’ This law says that if you shout into an echo chamber, a shout will return to you. If you curse into an echo chamber, a curse will return to you. And if you sing into an echo chamber, a song will come back to you. The “law of the echo’’ also applies to life. In other words, you get back from life exactly what you give to life. Today’s gospel illustrates what that means in the concrete. It says, “Forgive others, and God will forgive you. Give to others, and God will give to you.”

This Sunday's Gospel contains a type of moral code that should characterize the life of a disciple of Christ. The whole of it is summarized in the so-called golden rule of moral action: "Do to others as you would like them to do to you."

This is a rule that, if put into practice, would be enough to change the face of the families and the society in which we live. The Old Testament knew it in a negative form: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (Tobias 4:15); Jesus proposes it in a positive form: "Do to others as you would like them to do to you," which is much more demanding.

But the Gospel passage also raises some questions. "To him who strikes you on the cheek, give him the other cheek; to him who takes away your cloak, give him your shirt as well. Give to whoever asks. Of him who takes your goods, do not ask for them back."

Does Jesus therefore command his disciples to not oppose evil, to let the violent do as they will? How can this be reconciled with the obligation to combat despotism and crime, to energetically denounce them, even when to do so is dangerous? Or how can it be reconciled with the idea of "zero tolerance" in the face of the increase in petty crime?

Not only does the Gospel not condemn this demand for law and order, it in fact reinforces it. There are situations in which charity does not oblige us to turn the other cheek, but to go directly to the police and report the misdeed.

The golden rule that is valid in all cases, we have heard, is to do to others as we would have them do to us. If you are, for example, the victim of theft, of a mugging, of blackmail, if someone rear-ends your car and demolishes it, you would certainly be happy if someone who witnessed the incident were ready to testify on your behalf.

The Gospel tells you that this is what you must do. You cannot let yourself off the hook with easy excuses: "I didn't see anything, I don't know anything." Fear and refusal to be a "nark" or "rat" is what allows crime to prosper.

But let us look at some other words from Sunday's Gospel which are in a sense even more dangerous: "Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned." So, should we leave the way open for wrongdoing with impunity?

The Gospel is not as naive and unrealistic as it might at first seem. It does not so much charge us to remove judgment from our lives as it does to remove the poison from our judgment! That is, that part of our judgment which is resentment, rejection and revenge, which often is mixed in with the objective evaluation of the deed. Jesus' command to "not judge and you will not be judged" is immediately followed, as we have seen, by the command: "Do not condemn and you will not be condemned" (Luke 6:37).

The word of God prohibits ruthless judgments, judgments that are merciless. It criticizes those who condemn the sinner together with the sin.

Father Cantalamessa on the Golden Rule
Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

Thursday, February 15, 2007

la fracture sociale mondiale:

Les 225 plus grosses fortunes du monde représentent un total de plus de mille milliards de dollars, soit l’équivalent du revenu annuel des 47 % d’individus les plus pauvres de la population mondiale.

Les trois personnes les plus riches du monde ont une fortune supérieure au PIB total des 48 pays en développement les plus pauvres.

L’accès aux services sociaux de base : le coût de la réalisation et de maintien d’un accès universel à l’éducation de base aux soins de la santé de base, à une nourriture adéquate, à l’eau potable, et à des infrastructures sanitaires est estimé à 40 milliards de dollars par an.

Les dépenses de publicité sont elles dix fois supérieures : 400 milliards $ annuels.
La comparaison de ce que représenterait le surcoût annuel afin de permettre l’accès
universel aux services sociaux et à des consommations vitales pour chaque être humain
permet de constater qu’il existe des ressources abondantes susceptibles d’être dégagées en faveur du développement humain.

Les comparaisons n’ont qu’une valeur d’exemple mais elles n’en illustrent pas moins de façon frappante l’utilisation qui est faite des ressources de la planète (Rapport 1998, page 41).

Quelles priorités pour le monde ?
(Dépenses annuelles en milliards de dollars)

Education pour tous : 6
Achats de cosmétiques aux USA : 8
Accès à l’eau et à l’assainissement pour tous : 9
Achats de crèmes glacés en Europe :11
Soins de gynécologie et d’obstétrique pour toutes les femmes :12
Consommation de parfum en Europe et aux USA : 12
Satisfaction des besoins nutritionnels et sanitaires de base : 13
Achats d’aliments d’animaux en Europe et aux USA : 17
Budget loisirs des entreprises japonaises : 35
Consommation cigarettes en Europe : 50
Achats de boissons alcoolisés en Europe : 105
Consommation de stupéfiants dans le monde : 400
Dépenses militaires dans le monde : 780

* source : rapport du PNUD 1998
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Gospel - Luke 6:27-38

A certain monk was praying under a tree beside a river. As he prayed the tide was coming and the river was rising. Then he noticed a scorpion at the foot of the tree struggling for dear life as the surging waves tried to drown him. The monk stretched out his hand to pull the scorpion to safety but each time his hand came near the scorpion tried to sting him. A passerby saw what was going on and said to the monk: "What are you doing? Don't you know that it is in the nature of a scorpion to sting?" "Yes," replied the monk, "And it is in my nature to save. Must I change my nature because the scorpion refuses to change his?"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:12,16-20; Luke 6:17,20-26

There’s an old legend that goes something like this:

Moses was sitting outside his house one day, looking very sad.
The Lord happened by and said, “Moses, why are you so sad?”
Moses said, “It’s your people, Lord.”
“What about my people?” asked the Lord.
Moses replied, “They need better food, better clothes, and better shelter.”
The Lord said, “We can change that.”
Within months, the people had better food, better clothes, and better shelter. Everyone was filled with joy.

A few months later Moses was sitting outside his house again, looking very sad.
The Lord happened by and said, “What’s wrong, Moses? Why are you so sad?”
Moses said, “It’s your people, Lord. They are enjoying themselves so much that they no longer have time for the disabled, the lonely, and the elderly.“
And what is more, they no longer sit together outside under the starry skies at night and talk to one another about how good and merciful you are.

The Lord said, “That’s not good, Moses. What should we do?”
Moses said, “I think we should make the people poor again, as they used to be.”

THE THOUGHTS PRESENTED in today's readings, especially in the Gospel, are going to cause difficulties to some people, if not to most of us.

It is easy to just read or hear the words and we may even nod our heads in agreement, but actually putting them into practice is not something we would think of taking seriously. There is a real danger here of separating life and religious faith. It is nice to hear these things in church, but they are often aside once we get outside the church doors and back into "real" life.

The first thing to note in the Gospel is that the teaching of Jesus is addressed not just to his chosen disciples, but also to "a great crowd of people" from both Jewish and non-Jewish areas. This is to say that His teaching is for everybody and not just for a chosen elite. It is not a special "vocation" but a way of life for all.

At a first reading they completely fly in the face of the way of thinking with which we are surrounded and on which we have been brought up.

"Happy are you who are poor, hungry, weeping and those of you who are hated, driven out, abused, denounced." Who can take such recommendations seriously?

"Woe to you who are rich, filled, laughing and spoken well of." Are we not being constantly taught by our society and its means of communication that the ideal is to be rich, filled to overflowing, constantly enjoying ourselves and be looked up to and even envied by others? Are not money, status and power the gods we are daily urged to worship? Are they not the keys to happiness and success in life?
Can't I be a good Catholic and be rich and successful at the same time?

Jesus presents three examples.... about those who are materially poor, those who are sad, and those who are hungry. These people make up a scandalously large proportion of the world's population even as we enter a technically advanced 21st century. Things have not really changed much since Jesus' time, except that, on the one hand, the numbers are now much greater and that, on the other, we have more effective resources to solve the problem in our time .

We can even ask: “Is it a sin to be rich? Is it a crime to be wealthy? Is it scandalous to be full or laughing?” Why does Jesus go so far as to say: “Woe to you rich, woe to you who are satisfied now, woe to you who are laughing”?

I don’t think it’s a crime or a sin to be rich, wealthy or living in good conditions, but. as Cardinal Daaneels from Brussels says, there is a serious danger that richness, wealth and prosperity are causing two serious conditions: blindness and arrogance.

Here are a few facts and statistics from the book "Reconsidérer la richesse” written by Patrick Viveret :

Last year western countries spent 780 billion dollars for arms

In the European countries people spent 105 billion dollars for alcohol and 50 billion dollars for cigarettes while consumers in Europe and in the USA spend 15 billion dollars for perfume each year.

In the USA alone people spent 400 billion dollars for drugs - for narcotics and each year they spend 25 billion dollars for pet food.

At the same time, the world needs only 13 billion dollars to feed all the hungry of the world!
These statistics tell us that wealthy Christians in the USA are spending twice as much for pet food as the amount needed to feed the the hungry of the whole world.

Each year Europe expends 11 billion dollars for ice cream; half of this money would provide water for all who don’t have it right now.

To assure the most fundamental needs of food, water, school and basic medical care for all the poor in the whole world would, require 40 billion dollars. The wealthy developed world spends ten times more than that, 400 billion dollars each year on advertising and marketing alone!

I don’t accuse anybody, I don’t say that richness in itself is a crime or a sin, but I think that there is a real danger that wealth and prosperity may cause two serious conditions: blindness and arrogance.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

5th Sunday in ordinary time
Isaiah 6:1–2, 3–8; 1 Corinthians 15:1–11; Luke 5:1–11

We are scared, our faith is very often only a theoretical knowledge or a crumb of the leaf of bred of the faith of our parents.

Our faith has two elements. The first is expressed by Paul in the Second Reading where he gives the briefest summary of what the Christian message is about. To "have faith" at that level is to accept that message as true and credible. For many Catholics, faith often stops at that point. If a person fully accepts the teaching of the Catholic Church, we sometimes hear people say, "He/she has the faith." Some Catholics like to spend a lot of time spelling out in detail what is orthodox and what is not and condemning those they believe to be "deviating from the true Faith". For some people faith can even be a painful matter leading to scruples.

However, there is another level of faith which we ignore at our peril. And it is the meaning that predominates in the Gospel. The Greek word for "faith" is pistis. The basic meaning of pistis is "trust". To have faith in Jesus is to put one's total trust in him.

That involves a different kind of relationship from the first. We might express the difference as between "believing a person" (what he/she says is true and reliable) and "believing in a person" (I would be ready to put myself totally into the hands of that person). Or, "I believe what you say" and "I completely trust you" are quite distinct in meaning and application.

This is basically what we see happening in today's Gospel. Peter and his companions are the experts when it comes to fishing in that lake. But even so, after a whole night's work they have nothing to show for their efforts. Then Jesus, after he had finished teaching the crowds (giving them the message to believe), suggests that they go out into the "deep water" and let down their nets. There is an element of scepticism and even condescension in Peter's reply. "We [the professionals] spent the whole night in vain, but if you [the amateur] say so, I will let out the nets."

The result was overwhelming and totally beyond their expectations; their nets could hardly hold the catch. It was their first test of faith in Jesus. The same call comes to us: "Go out into the deep water... Trust me completely... and you will be in for a pleasant surprise." We really have not learnt to believe until we have reached that level of total and unconditional trust in the Way of Jesus.

It is clear, too, that the huge catch of fish is just a symbol of what they and their successors will do later in drawing people to become followers of Christ. A large harvest will materialise and it will be the work of the Lord.

It is a truly wonderful and fascinating story and there are many lessons for us in it.

One lesson is surely that God chooses our weak moments to show what he can do. Peter and the other fishermen were down on their luck; they were exhausted and somewhat exasperated when Jesus appeared on the scene.

They already knew Jesus. Two paragraphs earlier Luke recounts how Jesus had visited Simon Peter’s house and cured his mother-in-law. So Jesus was no stranger, they knew him and they had already listened to his teaching and experienced the results of his extraordinary healing powers.

But they surely did not expect that he would choose them to be his closest disciples, they didn’t expect to be asked to leave everything to follow Jesus.

That’s a bit like us. We too are disciples of Jesus; over a period of many years we have gone to mass, listened to his teaching and from time to time have experienced his remarkable works. But we tend not to expect him to have any special task in store for us.

It is one of the great paradoxes of the Christian Life that in our weakness is our strength.