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Showing posts from July, 2016

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!”  These are the words that open our first reading this Sunday, and are a stark reminder of what should hold importance for us as we live our lives.  While we may be familiar with the saying, and my give credence to the sentiment, our modern lives are often mired in vanity, and we can use a sharp reminder as to what is really important:


The Word for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21

Our first reading is from the Book of Ecclesiastes.  The word “Ecclesiastes” is a rough Greek translation of the word of the Hebrew word Qoheleth, to whom the book is attributed.  This is not so much a name of someone, however, as it is a title… that is the “assembler” or “collector” of wisdom.  Like all wisdom literature in the Bible, this book is a collection of sayings and parables intended to remind us of what is important.  Here the author uses the word “van…

Summer of Mercy video series - Week 6

Feature Film:  Calvary (2014, 1 hr 41 min)

About the story:
Set in the present day (circa 2012), Fr. James is a parish priest in the small fishing village of Easkey on the Northwest cost of Ireland.  The film opens with Fr. James having an extraordinary experience in the confessional, forcing him to spend the next week examining the brokenness around him… within his parishioners, within his family, and within himself.  Like Christ on his journey to Calvary, Fr. James finds  himself making his own journey toward the cross, unsure where it will ultimately lead him.

Like the apostles who journeyed with Jesus, we the audience are taken on this journey with Fr. James through this pivotal week in his life, and like those same apostles, we are left with the challenge of making sense of the situation in light of Jesus’ teachings on mercy and love.

About the film:
Though the film is a work of fiction, it does capture well the zeitgeist of present day Ireland and its struggles with faith, the Church…

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Ask and you shall receive.”  These are the words Jesus teaches us in this Sunday’s Gospel.  Yet far too often we let our “Catholic guilt” get in the way of this teaching.  We’re so attuned to serving God and others that we sometimes forget that God also owes a duty to us, as our readings this week will show:


The Word for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6-7, 7-8
Colossians 2:12-14
Luke 11:1-13

We open with a passage from the book of Genesis.  Here Abraham is on his way to the city of Sodom (most likely because his nephew Lot and his family are living there).  As God is walking with them he asks Abraham if he has heard of the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah.  He has heard and fears the Lord will “sweep away” the cities as punishment for their sins.  So he confronts the Lord, most humbly, if he will destroy the city if he can find 50 innocent people.  The Lord relents, saying the city will be spared.  So Abraham presses the Lord further… if…

Summer of Mercy video series - week 5

Fr. Michael Gaitley's Divine Mercy:  The Second Greatest Story Ever Told
Episode 5:  Proclaim This MessageFrom the Augustine Institute:  In a certain sense, God’s School of Trust culminates in Church History with the mission of Pope St. John Paul II as he proclaims the message of Divine Mercy to the world.
Episode 6:  FatimaFrom the Augustine Institute:  Against the backdrop of a world engulfed in war, the prophetic drama surrounding a small town in Portugal captures the minds and hearts of believers and unbelievers alike.
Our last episodes took us on a journey through Poland's history, across Soviet Russia, over to Nagasaki Japan, and eventually to Washington D.C. where Fr. Jarzebowski was entrusted to spread Sr. Faustina's message of Divine Mercy.  This week we look deeper at what Pope John Paul's mission of mercy, and recall the events at Fatima in Portugal during the First World War, as we continue to piece together this convergence of people and events t…

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Last week’s readings reminded us of the importance of loving our neighbor.  Out of this love of neighbor comes our long standing tradition of hospitality, which we see as a thread in this week’s readings:


The Word for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
Colossians 1:24-28
Luke 10:38-42

Our first reading comes from the book of Genesis.  Here we meet up with Abraham (no longer Abram) as he has an encounter with the Lord.  Only this is no ordinary encounter.  Three men who have been traveling through the area have come to Abraham’s camp, and immediately Abraham insists that they stay, rest, and have some food.  This might sound unusual to us, but we need to remember that Abraham is living in a desolate area.  Travelers are not common, and when they are encountered, it is the long standing custom to be hospitable.  In fact, it wouldn’t be incorrect to connect this passage from our readings from last week about showing love to our neighbor.  Abrah…

Summer of Mercy video series - Week 4

Feature Film:  Dead Man Walking  (1995, 2 hr-2 min)

About the story:
Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) has been on death row in Louisiana for the past 6 years.  As his execution day comes closer, he writes to Sr. Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) for help with his appeal.  Sr. Helen reluctantly meets with him, initially finding him arrogant and unrepentant.  Still, she manages to find a lawyer who will help him file for a final appeal to avoid his death sentence.  Over a series of visits she develops a certain rapport with him, while also getting to know something about the families of his victims.  Sr. Helen soon finds herself caught between providing spiritual advice to a criminal, and seeing a need to comfort the families of his victims.

About the film:
Released in 1995, the film is a fictionalized account of the stories from Sr. Helen’s experiences as described in her book of the same name which was published 2 years earlier.  It stars Susan Sarandon as Sr. Helen Prejean and Sean Penn as Matt…

Summer of Mercy video series - Week 3

Fr. Michael Gaitley's Divine Mercy:  The Second Greatest Story Ever Told
Episode 3:  The Suffering ServantFrom the Augustine Institute:  If an entire nation can be “God’s Suffering Servant,” then Poland served that role throughout history by helping to save the civilized world through its fidelity to its Catholic faith.
Episode 4:  Faustina and the Spread of Divine MercyFrom the Augustine Institute:  The tumultuous history of Poland set the stage for a remarkable woman to become the catalyst of the main drama of the Second Greatest Story Ever Told, a drama involving the modern message of Divine Mercy and its popularity following World War II.
These two episodes continue the story from where we left off back in Week 1, driving us even deeper into the story of Divine Mercy and the grace that brought us to this important devotion.  Like last time we will view Episode 3, have a discussion, take a break, and resume with Episode 4 followed by discussion.

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

What does God want of us?  It sounds like a daunting question, but it’s really not.  All of the 10 Commandments, all of the Mosaic Law, all of the teachings of Jesus, come down to just two things:  Love God.  Love you neighbor.  But to quote the Lord from Exodus, we are a “stiff necked people.”  Our readings this week remind us that loving our neighbor is our ticket to salvation.


The Word for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37 or 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Colossians 1:15-20
Luke 10:25-37

Our first reading is from the book of Deuteronomy.  This is the book that most scholars believe was presented by King Josiah during the 7th century BCE in his attempts to reform the people back to the Lord.  In this passage, we hear Moses telling the people of Israel that God’s wishes for his people are not some remote or inaccessible dream, but are instead quite obvious… Love your neighbor.  Moses reminds us that we know this already, in our minds…