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Showing posts from 2016

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Normally on the First Sunday of Christmas we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but since this Sunday is New Years Day, we defer to the celebration that is traditional to the 1st of January, which is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.


The Word for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

Our first reading comes from the book of Numbers.  The book of Numbers, a second re-telling of the Exodus story (after Leviticus), takes its name from the census that was taken of the Hebrew people, one at the beginning of the Exodus, and one at the end.  This passage, from the early part of the book, is the priestly blessing given to the people of Israel, and remains a popular blessing to this day.  On the occasion of celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary, it reminds us that Mary was beloved of God for being willing to take on the task of bearing and raising his son.  While our Psalm reflec…

The Nativity of the Lord

It is fairly well known that the word “Christmas” is derived from the Middle English “Christ’s Mass.”  While this name for the holiday still resonates with most people today, this name, along with many of its modern traditions are derived from England and English speaking countries.  But even though the name is fairly modern, the purpose of the celebration, giving recognition to the birth of Jesus, or the Nativity, goes back to the early 4th century.  In pagan Rome, it was not unusual to celebrate the birthdays of their gods.  The early Christians, therefore, in an ironic twist, took this opportunity to celebrate the day when our God was born into this world as a man.  To this day the celebration of the birth of Our Lord remains a major feast day, but the Church has begun to abandon the old Middle English name for the holiday in favor of a more accurate translation of the old Latin name for the feast:  The Nativity of the Lord.


The Word for the Nativity of the Lord (Vigil)

The Need for Religious Literacy... For Everyone

Jesuit Father James Martin posted this article on his Facebook page yesterday:

Academics and Journalists Unite Against Fake News


This article from America magazine (the Jesuit news magazine for which Fr. Martin is an editor and contributor) focused primarily on this latest craze of "fake news."  No, not the type of "fake news" that Jon Stewart raised to high art on The Daily Show, but rather how people are now digesting "news" from outlets of questionable repute, and how even major news outlets are using these same questionable sources without the necessary fact-checking and analysis which was a hallmark of journalism for decades.  What this discussion on "fake news" also revealed is how many journalists, and journalism itself, is so poorly informed on religion and the key elements of different religious faith traditions.

This isn't just a problem for journalism, its a problem for our whole society.

To be fair, misinformation about religious…

4th Sunday of Advent

Throughout this season of advent we have been focused on the ancient prophecy of the coming of a messiah, and how in Jesus we have the fulfillment of that prophecy.  This Fourth Sunday of Advent is no different as we read more about what to expect with the coming of this savior:


The Word for the 4th Sunday of Advent Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Romans 1:1-7
Mathew 1:18-24

Our first reading is again from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  This week we go back to an earlier time where King Ahaz is in trouble.  The Assyrian Empire is on the move.  The Northern Kingdom of Israel is under threat and King Ahaz of Judah is concerned that Jerusalem and his kingdom are next.  Rival forces are converging on Jerusalem so Isaiah is called by the Lord to go and meet with Ahaz and begs him to stand firm in his faith in the Lord.  Ahaz, on the other hand, is more comfortable putting his trust in the might of the Assyrians.  Our passage this Sunday picks up the story.  The Lord is upse…

It's About Time: Marriage Formation

File this under "It's About Time!"

I was reading through the daily email I get from the Angelus, our updated Archdiocesan newspaper and multi-media platform.  In today's email there was a link to an article entitled, "Why Does Catholic Marriage Prep Fail?"

This article, discussing how our current process of Marriage preparation falls far short of forming young couples for the vocation of a Sacramental marriage, referenced another very good article entitled, "Synod Fathers Call for Ending Pre-Cana in Favor of More Intensive Marriage Preparation."

Finally!  Our Church leaders are speaking out about the sorry state of marriage preparation!

If you follow this blog, you no doubt came across my posting from this past September:
http://ourladyofrefugercia.blogspot.com/2016/09/marriage-and-confirmation-so.html

In the months since, however, I've come to realize that the problem is even worse than I thought.  By way of example, let me walk you through a …

3rd Sunday of Advent

Patience.  Good things are coming, and are almost here, so Rejoice!  This is Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin “to rejoice”), the Third Sunday of Advent.  We celebrate that we are now past the halfway point of the Advent season.  For this one day we put away the violet color of Advent and bring out the Rose colored vestments and décor.  We light the rose colored candle in our Advent wreaths as we joyfully count the remaining days to Christmas.  Our readings remind us of the good things to come, but good things only come to those who wait…


The Word for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146, 6-7, 8-9, 9-10
James 5:7-10
Mathew 11:2-11

Our first reading, again, is from Isaiah.  Here the prophet sings of the great things to come, and the land itself will rejoice and bloom.  Isaiah goes to great lengths to paint us this glorious picture of Zion, but we must also recognize that this picture of salvation comes as destruction stands waiting at the gate.  King Hezekiah has t…

2nd Sunday of Advent

The Messiah is coming… Emmanuel.  How do we know this?  Prophets through the ages have been telling us and their scribes have been preserving those words so that we can recognize the signs.  Our readings for this coming Sunday give a picture of who this deliverer will be, who he’s come for, and how we should respond:


The Word for the 2nd Sunday of Advent Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Romans 15:4-9
Mathew 3:1-12

Our first reading is from the prophet Isaiah.  Here he describes for us a vision of the ideal king… the one who will “fear the Lord” and be a just judge; whose words will be his only weapons and whose reign will bring universal peace.  It will be so glorious that all the nations will seek it out.  To our Christian ears, this “shoot of Jesse” (King David’s father) sounds very much like Jesus himself.  But wait… This passage dates back some 720 years before Jesus.  Sometimes when we get a prophecy like this we need to pause and remind ourselves that Isaiah w…

1st Sunday of Advent: Follow-up...

As I noted in the commentary for the 1st Sunday of Advent, this is a season of penitent reflection, a time for us to slow down and consider if we are ready to meet Christ when he comes again.

Seems I'm not alone in that thinking.  Here's some links I'd like to share:

From the online Catholic news magazine Crux:
https://cruxnow.com/commentary/2016/11/26/culture-frenzy-advent-always-slows-us/

From  the online forum "For Her":
http://forher.aleteia.org/articles/3-advent-rituals-embrace-season/

From Matthew Kelly's Dynamic Catholic ministry, there's Best Advent Ever
http://dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever/

And lastly, from America Magazine:
http://www.americamagazine.org/content/the-word/stay-awake

On some of the outer fringes of Protestant Christianity there has been this growing movement to "Take Back Christmas."  They are understandably frustrated with how our secular society has taken over this uniquely Christian celebration and turned it into s…

1st Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday Advent marks the beginning of the new Liturgical year.  The green vestments and décor of Ordinary Time are put away, replaced with the purple vestments and décor of Advent.  Like Lent, Advent is a season of penitent reflection.  While our secular culture sees this time as the beginning of a frantic holiday season, we Catholics are asked to slow down, take a step back, and prayerfully consider if we are ready for the coming of Christ… that is, his second coming.


The Word for the 1st Sunday of Advent Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

Our first reading comes from the second chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah.  The book of Isaiah is one of the longest of all the prophets, and spans a period from before the Assyrian attack on the Northern Kingdom, all the way through (and long after his death) to the end of the Babylonian Exile.  This Sunday’s passage comes from the beginning of Isaiah, showing us a vision of Zion…

Monday Morning Quarterbacking - Christ the King

Monday morning quarterbacking.  That long standing tradition during football season where people gather around the water-cooler on the Monday after the big game that weekend to provide their own analysis of the outcome.  Why not do that with Church?  So, here we go... Christ the King.

Now first I have to admit that the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe happens to be one of my favorite feast days.  Not only does it give a regal close to our Liturgical year, but it stands as a testament to the truth behind the journey we've been on for this entire Liturgical year:  That it is God who is above all others, and all of us others are equal to no one else but God.

This isn't a new idea.  In fact, it is a pretty consistent theme throughout all of scripture, and it is in those moments when we forget this lesson that we find ourselves, as a people and as a society, getting into trouble.  We forget that God is our king, and we start elevating others into positions o…

The growing battle for our very souls...

I am a Catholic, and I am a catechist.  I live my faith as best I can, but I am also a person "of this world."  I have a regular, secular career that helps support my family (including their Catholic school tuition and my catechetical hobbies), and I engage in activities and relationships outside the Church.  For the most part my life in both these worlds have found a harmonious balance... that is, being able to engage in a secular society without compromising my Catholic faith.  There are times, however, where this can be a challenge, and sometimes we need to recognize that we are in a battle for our very souls.

This morning the following advertisement arrived in my email:


"Lust can be rationalized."  Think about that for a moment... "Lust can be rationalized."

I looked at this advert, and I was dumbstruck!  It stopped me in my tracks.  Once I regained my mental composure, the first thing that came to my mind was, "this is what we're up against.…

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

This Sunday we close our Liturgical Year with the Solemnity of Christ the King.  I can think of no better time than now, especially after such a divisive election season, for us to remember that it is only in Jesus Christ to whom we owe our allegiance.  This celebration was created in response to the growing nationalism and secularism of the early 20th century.  It was Pope Pius XI who instituted this feast in his 1925 encyclical letter Quas Primas.  At the time the world was still recovering from the first World War while revolutions in Russia, China, and Spain were sparking continued unrest.  All over the world citizens were calling into question the their models of governance and economics.  It would seem today the world is in similar turmoil, calling us once again to recognize that above all else, we serve Christ.


The Word for the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 2 Samuel 5:1-3
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
Colossians 1-12-20
Luke 23:35-43

Our first readin…

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

As we near the end of our Liturgical year, our readings take us to “the end of days.”  Jesus is in Jerusalem and he knows the end is near.  Our readings this week remind us that even in the face of adversity we must persevere if we are to gain eternal life:

The Word for the 33nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Malachi 3:19-20a
Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

We open with a reading from the prophet Malachi, who’s name literally means “my messenger” in Hebrew because the author feared retribution.  In this short passage the prophet gives us a view of post Exile Jerusalem, dating to around 445 BCE (around the same time as the Prophet Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem).  Here the prophet warns what will become of “evildoers” while there will be justice for those who “fear the Lord”.  This was a time of great spiritual upheaval in Jerusalem.  God loves his people, but the prophet finds that love is not being reciprocated.  It’s been almost 100 years since the joyful re…

32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

The afterlife.  The Apostles Creed teaches that we believe “in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.”  The Nicene Creed substantiates that belief when we profess that we “look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”  These beliefs are integral to our understanding of God and the nature of our souls, but yet we still can have some doubts.  Our readings this week help us to lay some of those doubts to rest:


The Word for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14
Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Luke 20:27-38 or Luke 20:27, 34-38

Our first reading is a from 2 Maccabees, a book written about 100-150 years before Christ.  This week’s passage tells the story of a Hebrew family being tortured and killed by their Greek Seleucid overlords.  The reading shows their valiant desire to keep God’s law, which in itself is noble, But that’s not the point of the story…

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Justification.  What does that mean… in a Catholic sense?  According to the Oxford dictionary, it is “the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.”  In other words, to be seen as being right (or justified) by God.  How do we do right by God?  Some people have some definite opinions when it comes what they think is considered doing right by God.  Still others say that our mere faith in Christ justifies us before the Lord.  As always, let’s see what our readings have to say on this topic:


The Word for the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14
2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Luke 19:1-10

Our first reading comes from the Book of Wisdom.  Similar to the Book of Sirach (which we heard last week), the Book of Wisdom is newer (dating to about 50 BCE), and comes from the Jewish community in Alexandria instead of Jerusalem.  What makes Wisdom stand apart from Sirach, however, is its perspective as from a people who are being oppress…