Friday, July 15, 2011

Joke of the Day

I think having a son named Jack made me giggle all the more at this joke:
Jack's mother ran into the bedroom when she heard him scream and found his two-year old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl's grip and said comfortingly to Jack, "There, there. She didn't mean it. She doesn't know that hurts."

She was barely out of the room when the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, "What happened?"

"She knows now," Jack replied.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Joke of the Day

Thanks to the Happy Catholic, I came across this site with a few gems, including this one:
A miser had three sons, one of whom became a Dominican, one of whom became a Franciscan, and one of whom became a Jesuit. On his deathbed he called them in and told them that he wanted each of them to place a thousand dollars in his casket to be buried with him.

At the service, the three went up and the Dominican said, "This is a waste of money, Dad, but since you are my father and I owe you your last wishes, I've gotten permission from my Order to fulfill them." And he place a thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills in the casket.

The Franciscan said, "Dad, it eats me up inside, but there is so much good that could be done with that thousand for people who need it more that I just can't do it: I will not waste it on something so frivolous."

The Jesuit behind him clapped him on the back. "Don't worry, brother, I have you covered." Then he took the Dominican's thousand out of the casket, pocketed it, and replaced it with a check for three thousand dollars.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prayer of the Week


I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Annunciation

Today, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is nine months to the day before Christmas. If retailers had any clue about this feast's significance, I am quite certain we would be hearing Christmas carols on the radio and the window displays would be up already!!

Last year, Deacon Greg shared this depiction of The Visitation, painted by John Collier. I think the expression on "Mary's" face is priceless. You can almost hear her say, "Ummm....excuse me?!?!"
I am taking time this lent to read some of my favorite Jesuit authors. This morning, as providence would have it, I came across the following poem by Denise Levertov in A Friendship Like No Other by William Barry, S.J.

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
        Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one
        The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
                       God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
             Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
           More often
those moments
       when roads of light and storm
       open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                  God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child—but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
                only asked
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel's reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power—
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
         Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love—

but who was God. 

And don't forget Canon 1251:

"Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday."

Have a blessed weekend!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Buon Onomastico!

Growing up, unlike my sister, I never received a St. Patrick's Day card from my Irish grandmother. No, the card I received in the middle of March every year wished me a "Happy St. Joseph's Day". I always thought that was the coolest thing. I had a feast day all to myself! I guess since Jesus' foster-father is actually the patron of the entire Church, that isn't entirely accurate, but a boy can dream, can't he? (Joseph certainly did!)

From the first time I saw it, I have always enjoyed Barocci's painting of the Holy Family. It is called "Rest on the Flight to Egypt" and, although it depicts Joseph taking the Son of God away from Herod's slaughter of the innocents, there is such a serene joy to be found. The smile on his face says it all. Joseph is HAPPY to be a dad!

Here is a little video clip from one of my favorite authors, James Martin, S.J. I have been reading some of his works this Lenten season, and I think he does a great job of painting a portrait of my patron!

Prayer to Saint Joseph for Fathers

Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary,
you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty.
You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands.

Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you.
You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes.
They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them.

You too knew trial, labor and weariness.
But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother.

Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone.

Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done.


-Pope John XXIII

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tolle ... Lege!

A few years ago I wrote about a young woman named Maggie Doyne. She grew up in the same small, wealthy suburb in Northern New Jersey as I. (Albeit nearly a decade later!) When she graduated from high school, she took a different path than the rest of her classmates (nearly all of whom were embarking on four years of parent-funded college education). Instead of studying, she went to Nepal and built an orphanage... using money she earned babysitting to purchase the land! Robert Frost would certainly describe her path as the “one less travelled.” “And that” I am quite certain, “has made all the difference.”

Now, I have never met Maggie, and all I know about her and her work has been gleaned from a couple of newspaper articles and her website (which, by the way, I encourage you to visit). Here is a little snippet:

Kopila Valley Children's Home from maggie doyne on Vimeo.

The lives she and “her” children lead are far from easy, but there is a profound joy is quite evident in their faces.

As I look at the Scripture readings from today and yesterday, a few things strike me.

As we enter into Lent, we ask ourselves, “What will I give up this year?” Isaiah points out, however, that we have to move past the “I.” Instead, we need to look outward: to the oppressed, the hungry, the naked and the homeless. Instead of simply heading off to college, Maggie placed her own education aside and instead devoted her life to the anawim of Nepal. In doing so she has become, in the words of Isaiah, a “Restorer of ruined homesteads.”

Today’s Gospel tells the story of Levi the tax collector. Christ commanded him to “Follow me.” “And leaving all behind, he got up and followed him.” He left one way of life behind, and embarked on a completely different one. Just last week, we heard that after Jesus healed the blind Bartimaeus “he followed [Jesus] on the way.” Unlike Levi, however, Jesus did not order Bartimaeus to follow him; instead he said, “Go your way.” However, after his encounter with Jesus, Bartimaeus’ way was Christ’s way.

Contrast these two stories, for a moment, with a similar one with a very different ending. Not long ago, we heard the story of Jesus and the Rich Young Man. (Luke 18:18-25) This official had done ‘all the right things’: he followed the commandments to the letter and felt quite justified in his life. He wanted to know what he needed to do to earn eternal life. Jesus’ answer was simple: “follow me”. However, in order for the officials’ “way” to be Jesus’ “Way” he first had to “sell all that [he had] and distribute it to the poor.” Well, that was just too much for the man. He was too attached to his old way of life. It was one where he was in control, and he simply had to do the right things.

Letting go. Detaching. Turning away. Once we do that, we are able to start to follow God’s plan, and become one with Christ. Only then will His Way be our way. That’s what Lent is all about. When we focus our efforts on helping others, we naturally turn it away from ourselves. Maggie did, and her life is the richer for it. She is an Icon of the selfless service Christ calls us to offer. In fact, I am quite sure her story is a sacrament of the life offered totally to others.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tolle ... Lege!

In an attempt to increase the "post tempo" on this blog, I am going to embark on a little project this Lent. In his Confessions, Saint Augustine recounts the story of his conversion to Christianity. He was particularly torn between his licentious life as a teacher of rhetoric and the yearnings he felt to be closer to God. One day, as he struggled to choose, he heard a child’s voice instructing him to “take up and read!” (tolle, lege! in Latin). Believing it was a message from God, he grabbed a nearby copy of Scripture and randomly selected a passage. His eye fell upon Romans 13:13-14:

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Of course, as we know, the rest is history. As an aside, a professor of mine once commented on how different things might be if he randomly opened to the Song of Songs instead!

In an occasional series, I will attempt to apply this approach in a manner consistent with a quote often attributed to the theologian Karl Barth: “preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” I will use the Lectionary Readings for a given day, along with randomly selected newswire sources as my inspiration. Here's hoping that a regular "feature" will encourage me to click "Publish Post" a bit more often.

And, we’ll see where it goes….

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still...

In the wake of the Haiti Earthquake last January, Diana Macalintal - a colleague of mine from our work with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, wrote a beautiful prayer. Like a master painter, she used scriptural allusions like so many brushstrokes upon a canvas. Little did she know that a year later, and half a world away, those words would be used to call upon God to comfort those affected by another tragedy.

According to ElesiProductions's (The producer of the video below) YouTube Channel, "The Arch Bishop of Wellington [New Zealand] had sent out a letter to be read out during the liturgy which included a prayer titled "A Prayer After The Earthquake" by Diana Macalintal."

Take a moment (or four) to join your voice in prayer with all those who continue to recover - be it in Haiti, New Zealand, or wherever the "earth refuses to stand still and ... homes no longer exist." Then, take a moment to join with me as I give thanks for people like Diana who give us the words to say when there are no words to say.

A Prayer After the Earthquake in Haiti

Lord, at times such as this,
when we realize that the ground beneath our feet
is not as solid as we had imagined,
we plead for your mercy.

As the things we have built crumble about us,
we know too well how small we truly are
on this ever-changing, ever-moving,
fragile planet we call home.
Yet you have promised never to forget us.

Do not forget us now.

Today, so many people are afraid.
They wait in fear of the next tremor.
They hear the cries of the injured amid the rubble.
They roam the streets in shock at what they see.
And they fill the dusty air with wails of grief
and the names of missing dead.

Comfort them, Lord, in this disaster.
Be their rock when the earth refuses to stand still,
and shelter them under your wings when homes no longer exist.

Embrace in your arms those who died so suddenly this day.
Console the hearts of those who mourn,
and ease the pain of bodies on the brink of death.

Pierce, too, our hearts with compassion,
we who watch from afar,
as the poorest on this side of the earth
find only misery upon misery.
Move us to act swiftly this day,
to give generously every day,
to work for justice always,
and to pray unceasingly for those without hope.

And once the shaking has ceased,
the images of destruction have stopped filling the news,
and our thoughts return to life’s daily rumblings,
let us not forget that we are all your children
and they, our brothers and sisters.
We are all the work of your hands.

For though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be tossed to the ground,
your love shall never leave us,
and your promise of peace will never be shaken.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
now and forever. Amen.

Copyright © 2010, Diana Macalintal. Permission is given to reprint for non-commercial use.