Friday, September 28, 2007

In Assisi

We are at our Provincial Retreat and Chapter in Assisi. It is a wonderful time of fraternity and prayer. You can see daily updates of what we're up to on the Province website:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thought of the day

I saw this quote of Chesterton and thought it worth some thought:

"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."

- G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gone Fishing


Our retreat beginning the Confirmation program was great yesterday! We have the most awesome teens in this parish! Check out some more pictures from the retreat day here:

Being smart about faith

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 23, 2007:

An angel appeared at a faculty meeting and told the dean that he had come to reward him for his years of devoted service. He asked him to choose one of three blessings: either infinite wealth, infinite fame or infinite wisdom. Without hesitation, the dean asked for infinite wisdom. “You got it!” said the angel, and disappeared. All heads turn toward the dean, who sat glowing in the aura of wisdom. Finally one of his colleagues whispers, “Say something.” The dean looks at them all and says finally, “I should have taken the money.”

Wisdom, in the sense of being smart or shrewd as we see in today’s parable of the dishonest servant, is not an end in itself. After all, you can be smart and use your smarts to do mean things. Many con artists and criminals are smart people who use their brains to create misery in the world. Today’s parable challenges each of us to be smart, but smart in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God; just as godless people are smart in their pursuit of selfish goals and ambitions. Jesus uses the example of a smart manager in his master’s business to teach us the need to be smart in the Lord’s service. We are challenged to imitate the manager’s shrewdness, but not his dishonesty. “The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.”

Why did the master who had made up his mind to fire the manager now commend him? Probably the manager had been running his master’s business in a drab, routine and lifeless manner devoid of creativity and imagination. As a result the business was failing, so the master decided it was time to fire him: “Prepare a full account of your stewardship,because you can no longer be my steward.” The manager is facing a real danger of being dismissed from service. He knows the seriousness of the situation. He is not kidding himself. He knows exactly how helpless he is out there. He says, “What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.” He knows he is in a very difficult and precarious situation. He scratches his head and comes up with an ingenious plan to safeguard his future. And, the master praises him because if the manager had been using such smart thinking in the daily running of the business he would have made a much more successful manager rather than a failure.

In this parable, Jesus challenges us all to also be smart managers. “Me a manager,” you say? Yes, we are all called to be managers. Do you ever stop to realize that God has entrusted the whole of His creation into our hands as His managers. Jesus, in addition to that, has entrusted the very Kingdom of God – the kingdom of love, justice and peace – into our hands as his managers. World peace and harmony, and the renewal of all things in Christ, are the business of us all, collectively and individually. Our business as followers of Christ, is to help bring about the kingdom of God starting with ourselves. We have all been given the necessary resources to do this. We have been equipped with the truth of faith, we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, we have been strengthened by the sacraments, and we have been given time. But, sooner or later we also will be called upon to render an account of how we have invested and managed these resources entrusted to us by the Father and the Son.

The bottom line of today’s Gospel is this: Jesus reminds us that worldly people are often more willing to sacrifice for worldly goals than Christian people are willing to sacrifice for Christian goals. We are being called to be as smart, as committed, to spiritual things as others are to worldly things. We are being called to make a commitment to the Kingdom of God in our midst.

The grace for this commitment was given to us in Baptism and Confirmation, and it is renewed every time we gather on the Lord’s Day, around the Lord’s Table, to hear the Lord’s Word, and to share in the Lord’s Supper.

If worldly people are capable of making great sacrifices for worldly goals, how much more are we, as Christians, capable of making even greater sacrifices for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom? This is the good news that the Church reminds us of in today’s readings. This is the good news that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel. It is the good news that you and I have the power to do great things for Jesus and for His Kingdom – if we merely choose to.

Let me end with a prayer: Lord, open our eyes to your word, even when it challenges us more than we want to be challenged. Lord, open our minds to your word, even when it disturbs us more than we want to be disturbed. Lord, help us to put your word in practice, even when it means changing our lives more than we want to change. Above all, Lord, help us realize that you want to achieve great things through us and that we can achieve great things for you if we only open our hearts to you. Open our hearts Lord.

May God give you peace.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kids and God

Today I have another entry from the email files. Someone sent this to me and it gave me a good laugh. Enjoy! FT

3-year-old Reese:
"Our Father, Who does art in heaven,
Harold is His name.
A little boy was overheard praying:
"Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it.
I'm having a real good time like I am."
After the christening of his baby brother in church,
Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car.
His father asked him three times what was wrong.
Finally, the boy replied,
"That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home,
and I wanted to stay with you guys."
One particular four-year-old prayed,
"And forgive us our trash baskets
as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they
were on the way to church service,
"And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"
One bright little girl replied,
"Because people are sleeping."
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3.
The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake.
Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
"If Jesus were sitting here, He would say,
'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.'"
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said,
"Ryan, you be Jesus!"
A father was at the beach with his children
when the four-year-old son ran up to him,
grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore
where a seagull lay dead in the sand.
"Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked.
"He died and went to Heaven," the Dad replied.
The boy thought a moment and then said,
"Did God throw him back down?"
A wife invited some people to dinner.
At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said,
"Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied.
"Just say what you hear Mommy say," the wife answered.
The daughter bowed her head and said,
"Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stigmata of St. Francis

We commemorate today the reception of the sacred stigmata, or the wounds of Christ, by St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was the first known in the history of the Church to receive this high honor from the Lord. Below is the Encyclical Letter of Brother Elias upon the death of St. Francis in 1226. It was in this letter that Elias, then General Minister of the Order, revealed to the world this incredible miracle:

A Reading from the Encyclical Letter of Brother Elias:
Brother Elias, a sinner, sends greetings to our beloved brother in Christ, Gregory, the minister of the friars who are in France and to his brethren and ours. Before I begin to speak I sigh. What I shrink from has come upon me and has come upon you; our comforter has been taken away from us, and he who carried us like lambs on his shoulders has set out abroad into a far country. He who was beloved of God and of man has been received into the most resplendent dwellings.
In truth, in very truth, the presence of Francis, our brother and our Father, was a light not only to us who were close to him, but also to those who were more removed from in calling and in life. He was a light sent forth from the true Light to enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, that he might guide their feet into the way of peace.
He did this, even as the true Daystar from on high enlightened his heart and inflamed his will with the fire of his love. When he preached the kingdom of God, when he turned the hearts of fathers to their sons, when he brought the foolish to the prudence of the just, he made ready for the Lord a new people throughout the whole world.
His name was spread far and wide, even to the islands and all nations marveled at his admirable works. For this reason, my sons and brethren do not mourn beyond all measures; for God, the Father of orphans will comfort us with his holy consolation. And if you weep, brethren weep for yourselves but not for him; for in the midst of our life we are in death, while he has passed from death to life.
Now that I have told you these things, I announce to you a great joy and a new miracle. It is a sign which has been unheard of from the very beginning of time except in the Son of God, Christ the Lord. Not long before his death, our brother and our father was seen to resemble the crucified Lord, bearing in his body the five wounds which are the marks of Christ.
Therefore, my brethren, bless the God of heaven confess him in the sight of all, for he has shown to us his mercy. Hold fast to the memory of our father and brother, Francis, for the praise and glory of him who made him great among us and glorified him in the sight of the angels. Pray for him, as once he asked us, and pray to him that God may make us sharers with him of his holy grace. Amen.
Brother Elias, The Sinner

Congratulations Stefan!!


As many of you know, a young man in our parish, Stefan Steiner, entered our Franciscan formation program last month. God willing he will one day become a solemnly professed Franciscan friar and a Catholic priest.

Today was a special day in that journey as he was officially received into our Postulancy Program. He received a Tau cross, a symbol of the Franciscans, and the writings of St. Francis of Assisi.

Please continue to pray for Stefan as he journeys in his vocation with God and St. Francis!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Join the team

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 16, 2007, Ministry Sunday:

My folks are here this weekend. They came up for the wine tasting on Friday and the parish picnic today – and hopefully, because they wanted to spend some time with their son. But, since Dad arrived, we’ve had a running dispute in the house – will we be watching the Patriot’s game or the Red Sox game tonight? Dad is a die-hard football fan; and as you know I am a huge baseball fan. Of course, I keep saying, “I thought football doesn’t start until Thanksgiving?” And Dad keeps saying, “Baseball has too many games.”

As I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that there are really two kinds of people who love football. The first is the person who pulls up in front of the TV with a big bowl of potato chips or ice cream; the person who wouldn't know an onside kick from a Hail Mary pass, the person who regularly asks, “Did they score another basket?”; but knows nevertheless how to cheer for their team and is excited when they win.

The second kind of person who loves football is the one who starts playing the game at age 6. This person works hard every day playing the game, catching passes, staying in shape. Plays hard through their high school and college years spending every hour they can to be the best player they can be in the hopes of making it to the pros. This is the person who loves football enough to devote a life to it.

It also occurred to me that there are two kinds of people who baseball.The first is the person like me; the person who turns on the TV, grabs some potato chips or a hot dog (this is baseball after all), and watches every game, goes to some if he can; the person who reads up on his team, and enjoys the rivalry with that “other” team; the person who cheers for his boys and yells at the umps when they make a bad call.

The second kind of person who loves baseball is the one who spends years playing the game; tossing a baseball from an early age; the person who spends all of his money on equipment, camps, practicing; the person who spends hours every day playing and practicing with team members; the person who devotes his life to the game.

In both of these examples, they all love their games. Both love football and baseball. The difference between them is that the first group are armchair fans. The second are champions.
Now, it seems to me that there are also two kinds of people who love the Church. The first person belongs to a Parish and comes to Mass every Christmas and Easter. They drop a little something in the collection basket when it goes by. They bring their children to be baptized and receive first communion and bring their parents for a Catholic funeral when the time comes.

The second person who loves Church never misses a Sunday or Holy Day Mass and often comes to daily Mass. This person gives a good chunk of their income and makes real sacrifices to support the Church. This person takes Communion to a nursing home or serves on the Parish Council or volunteers as a catechist or sings in the choir or helps at the homeless shelter. This person comes to parish spiritual events, social events and is the one who steps forward when a volunteer is needed for some special cause.

In these examples, both love the Catholic Church. If we want to use the sports terminology, we might call one an armchair Catholic and the other a champion of faith.

Before we go any farther, I want to be clear that I don't mean any disrespect to the person I'm calling and “armchair Catholic.” We thank God for everyone who comes whenever they come, for everyone who finds it in their heart to donate anything at all to the church, for all who makes sure their babies are baptized. We thank God for them.

But for me, and I think for everyone here today, that isn't enough. Our Catholic faith is far too important for us to be just armchair fans. I, for one, need God at the center of my life. I need the peace that the Church gives me. I need the strength and the courage that the Church offers me. I need the friends and the support that I find in the Church. And I need to hear the promise of the kingdom waiting for me after death. St. Paul said today that “the grace of our Lord has been abundant.” I can't live as an armchair Catholic. I need far more of the Lord’s abundant grace in my life.

That is the whole point of our Ministry Fair this weekend. We rejoice in the abundant grace that the Lord has poured out on this Church and this community through the good works we do; and to make sure that none of us remain on the couch, but rather get into the game.

I think of a paraphrase of the famous quote of President Kennedy, “Ask not what Jesus can do for you; as what you can do for Jesus.” What ministry is Jesus calling you to? Where can you engage more deeply in the life of our parish? It isn’t about the Church taking from you – your time, talent and treasure; it is about the Church; about Jesus needing you. A professor back in the seminary said, “The Church doesn’t have a mission; the Mission has a Church.” He reminded us that the only reason for the existence of the Church is so that we can accomplish the mission that Jesus left us – of spreading the Gospel, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, visiting the sick and the lonely, of bringing forth the Kingdom of God in our midst. We come to Mass so we can be strengthened for Mission. Jesus needs you; the Church needs you; we, St. Francis Xavier parish, need you.

If you’re like me, you might sit in front of the TV with your potato chips and watch Big Papi knock another one out of the park and secretly dream of doing the same, with your teammates waiting to cheer you at home plate. I have dreams of being a World Series champion. But in reality, I can live without that dream. I'm too old, and I'm not ready to do what it takes to be a baseball champion. An armchair fan is oaky for me.

But, I am not satisfied to be an armchair Catholic. My faith is just too important. I have a dream which I won't give up: one day standing before the Lord and hearing the words I most long to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” That is worth more than anything in the world.

So, please take a moment after Mass today to visit the Church Hall and see all of the great works our champions of faith engage in; and please consider joining one of our special teams.

May God give you peace.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people and his friends
and those who turn to him in their hearts.
His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

(from Psalm 85)

Lord, let there be peace on earth.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday Mass is a necessity

VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 9, 2007 - Going to Sunday Mass is not just a rule to follow, but rather an "inner necessity," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today during the Mass he celebrated at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, on the last day of his three-day apostolic trip to Austria.

About 40,000 people followed the Mass on large screens placed in St. Stephen's Square, since not all of the participants were able to be accommodated inside. Rain in the morning prompted organizers to distribute plastic raincoats to the faithful.

The Holy Father's homily centered on the mantra of the early Christian martyrs of Abitene: "Without Sunday we cannot live."

The Pontiff said: "Sunday has been transformed in our Western societies into the weekend, into leisure time."

Leisure time is certainly something good and necessary, especially amid the mad rush of the modern world. Yet if leisure time lacks an inner focus, an overall sense of direction, then ultimately it becomes wasted time that neither strengthens nor builds us up. "Free time requires a focus -- the encounter with him who is our origin and goal."

In the opening greeting, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, explained that there had been a movement in Austria to defend "Sunday from tendencies to empty this day of its meaning."

Recalling the example of the early Christians, Benedict XVI explained that for them Sunday Mass was not a "precept," but rather "an inner necessity."

"Does this attitude of the Christians of that time apply also to us who are Christians today?" the Pope asked.

The Holy Father answered: "Yes, it does, we too need a relationship that sustains us, that gives direction and content to our lives."

We too need access to the Risen One, who sustains us through and beyond death. We need this encounter which brings us together, which gives us space for freedom, which lets us see beyond the bustle of everyday life to God's creative love, from which we come and toward which we are traveling.

"But Sunday," said the Pontiff, also calls to mind the "the day of the dawning of creation." He said: "Therefore Sunday is also the Church's weekly feast of creation -- the feast of thanksgiving and joy over God's creation." At a time when creation seems to be endangered in so many ways through human activity, we should consciously advert to this dimension of Sunday too."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Today is the 10th anniversary of the entrance of Blessed Mother Teresa into eternal life. Here are some powerful quotes of hers to reflect on:

"Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet especially your family. Be holy – let us pray."

"I once picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: You must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him. It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand."

"When once a chairman of a multinational company came to see me, to offer me a property in Bombay, he first asked: ‘Mother, how do you manage your budget?" I asked him who had sent him here. He replied: ‘I felt an urge inside me.’ I said: other people like you come to see me and say the same. It was clear God sent you, Mr. A, as He sends Mr. X, Mrs. Y, Miss Z, and they provide the material means we need for our work. The grace of God is what moved you. You are my budget. God sees to our needs, as Jesus promised. I accepted the property he gave and named it Asha Dan (Gift of Hope).

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."

"There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls - 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers."

"There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:Jesus is my God,Jesus is my Spouse,Jesus is my Life,Jesus is my only Love,Jesus is my All in All;Jesus is my Everything."

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor. It was an order. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a littlechild, you receive me.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.

If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.
Prayer to Blessed Teresa:
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, longing to love Jesus as He had never been loved before, you gave yourself entirely to Him, refusing Him nothing.
In union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you accepted His call to satiate His infinite thirst for love and souls and become a carrier of His love to the poorest of the poor. With loving trust and total surrender you fulfilled His will, witnessing to the joy of belonging totally to Him. You became so intimately united to Jesus, your crucified Spouse, that He deigned to share with you the agony of His Heart as He hung upon the cross.
Blessed Teresa, you promised to continuously bring the light of love to those on earth; pray for us that we also may long to satiate the burning thirst of Jesus by loving Him ardently, sharing in His sufferings joyfully, and serving Him wholeheartedly in our brothers and sisters, especially those most unloved and unwanted.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Follow the path of true love

Rome, Sep 2, 2007 - Pope Benedict XVI has appealed to young people not to follow the ways of the world but rather follow the path of true love and humility.

Speaking to a vast crowd of young people gathered near the Marian shrine in Loreto, Italy, close to the Adriatic Sea coast, he called on youth to live a lifestyle that “goes against the trend” and to emulate the example of Mary by transforming society through humility.

“Do not follow the path of pride, rather, follow the path of humility,” the Pope told an estimated 500,000 youth in his homily that concluded the ‘Youth AgorĂ ’. “Go against the current trend: do not listen to the persuasive and biased chorus of voices that today form much of the propaganda of life, drenched in arrogance and violence, in dominance and success at all costs, where appearance and possession to the detriment of others is openly promoted.”

The Pope warned that all these messages carried in the mass media are aimed at them. “Be vigilant!”, he pleaded. “Be critical! Do not follow the trend produced by this powerfully persuasive media. Do not be afraid, my dear friends, to prefer the ‘alternative’ route indicated by true love: a sober style of life, a life of solidarity; an honest commitment to your studies and work; a cultivated interest in the common good. Do not be afraid to appear different, or the criticism that you are out of fashion or a loser. People your age, even adults, all of those who seem far from the mentality of the Gospel values, have a deep seated need to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness of humanity manifested by Jesus Christ”.

“Dear young people”, the Pope continued, “it seems to me that for you to grasp the important message of God on humility has never been more important than now, that you want to follow Christ and be a part of the Church. The message is this: don’t follow the way of pride, but of humility”. This humility, the Pope went on, is the master route, “not only because humility is a great virtue, but because above all it represents the very way in which God himself behaves. It is the path chosen by Christ”. It is not about giving up anything, but about courage, he added. “It’s not about defeat,” the Pope said, “but it’s the result of love’s victory over selfishness, and of grace over sin. Following Christ and imitating Mary, we must have the courage of humility; we must entrust ourselves with humility to the Lord because only then can we become docile instruments in his hands, and have the permission to do great things”.

The Pope then gave examples of saints who have done just that: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, the patron of Italy, and other Italian saints such as Sts. Gemma Galgani, Gabriele of Addolorata, Luigi Gonzaga, Domenico Savio and Maria Goretti. The Holy Father also recalled those saints who were “anonymous” to us, but not to God. “For him, each person is unique, with his own name and his own face. Everyone, as you know, is called to be a saint!” The Pope then called on the youth to look to Mary as an example of how to live a life of humility. Before closing, the Pope looked forward to World Youth Day, to be held in Sydney, Australia, next July. “I invite you to prepare for this great youthful testimony to faith,” he said. “I await so many of you in Australia”.

The Pope concluded his homily by calling on the Virgin to help young people to become more holy with the help of the Holy Spirit, and to be disciples of Jesus. “Support and accompany these young people”, he prayed, “to be joyful and tireless missionaries of the Gospel among their peers, in every corner of Italy. Amen!”

The Pope’s homily was met with lengthy and warm applause.

At the Angelus address that followed the Mass, the Pope reminded those present of the importance of Loreto as a Marian shrine, and the example of Mary who said “yes” to God. “During the most important moments of your life, come here, at least in your heart, to spiritually recollect yourselves within the walls of the Holy House [of Loreto]”, the Pope said. “In order to bring God to the town square, first you must gather him to your inner being at home, just like Mary in the Annunciation.” Then you will become his true witnesses in the “square”, in society, bearers not of an abstract Gospel, but the embodiment of it”.

Changing the impossible

HOMILY FOR THE 2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, January 20, 2019: When my parents got married more than 50 years ago, my Mom came from a pract...