Monday, November 27, 2017

Solidarity in Suffering

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
Who are you, sir?
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."

(Acts 9:3-5)

The Risen Lord Jesus clearly reveals that he is uniquely united to the suffering members of his body, the Church.

Given this painful fact, and given the Holy Father's call for a week focused on the plight of persecuted Christians, perhaps we should re-frame the three great Ignatian questions:
  • What have I done for Christ, suffering with and in persecuted Christians today?
  • What am I doing for Christ, suffering with and in persecuted Christians today?
  • What will I do for Christ, suffering with and in persecuted Christians today?
Daily prayer seems like the least we could do, for these "least" among us. Perhaps it is a purposeful petition at a family meal, or maybe a decade of the Rosary per day for those who may be facing decades of suffering for the Name which is above every other name.  Or maybe it's a personal commitment to recite this prayer for persecuted Christians from the Knights of Columbus:

O God of all the nations,
the One God who is and was and always will be,
in your providence you willed that your Church
be united to the suffering of your Son.
Look with mercy on your servants
who are persecuted for their faith in you.
Grant them perseverance and courage
to be worthy imitators of Christ.
Bring your wisdom upon leaders of nations
to work for peace among all peoples.
May your Spirit open conversion
for those who contradict your will,
that we may live in harmony.
Give us the grace to be united in truth and freedom,
and to always seek your will in our lives.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Offering our own daily inconveniences, or health concern,s or fears and worries could be another way to show solidarity in suffering.  Giving alms for those who seemingly have nothing left to give would also have a tremendous ripple effect:

Finally, consider checking out this link for the USCCB resource page and/or this link for the "week of awareness" resources from the Knights of Columbus.

After all, Jesus really wants us to take to heart this week of awareness--along with his Kingly reminder about what's really at stake:

"Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine,
you did for me."
 (Mt 25:40)

Pax et Bonum,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Missionaries of Christian Family Life

What if we looked at our Thanksgiving gatherings with fresh eyes--focusing less on the food and the football, and more on each family member's missionary mandate?

It may sound like a stretch but--especially for the Catholic faithful--the family should be less like a comfortable pillow and more like a living launching pad.  The family is one of life's greatest "goods," and it serves as the irreplaceable foundation upon which society is built; it is a "school of Christian love" which is ordered to the common good.  Yet the deepest purpose of the family lies in the ongoing formation and sending of missionary disciples of Jesus Christ into the world.

Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American opportunity to express gratitude for the fellowship we enjoy with family members and extended friends.  Even where there may be differences or tensions among family members, it is an opportunity to show the special form of "accompaniment" that is possible only in families.  But maybe it is time for our gatherings to resemble the reconvening of missionaries who come together to be fed--physically, emotionally and spiritually--before resuming their adventures of sharing God's saving grace.

Some of the missionary disciples around our Thanksgiving tables may be weary from their labors, of course; others might gave grown lukewarm or disoriented regarding their task.  Yet this annual rite of nourishment and encouragement should provide an opportunity to "reboot" our commitment to bringing Christ the King into our increasingly weary world.

We need to be patient with our fellow missionaries, of course, since the terrain which we navigate has become increasingly hostile toward God's Truth, Beauty and Goodness.  And yet we should remain confident that we have Good News to share in our respective mission fields:  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the one from whom all of our blessings flow, as well as the one to whom we should direct our various acts of thanksgiving :)

Let's pray that each and every family may reclaim this deeper identity.  After all, "The mission of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit" (CCC, n. 737).

Monday, November 13, 2017

This Invitation Requires a Timely RSVP

The Wedding at Cana by Veronese

Life is choices.  Ultimately, the Lord of heaven and earth allows each of us the freedom to choose whether we will attend the eternal wedding feast.

The Bridegroom will be there, of course, surrounded by all those who were wise enough to accept the invitation.  The celebration will roll on and on.  Like a wonderful family reunion, brothers and sisters of all generations will gather around the Father's banquet table.

The only requirement for admission is our personal RSVP: In French, "répondez s'il vous plaît," literally means "Respond if it pleases you."  So the only question is whether it pleases us to accept the invitation or not.

No one else can answer the question for us.  No one can sign our name on the response card.  We are given a certain number of earthly days to accept or reject the invitation, but the clock is ticking.

At a certain point, if we dally too long, the Wedding Feast will go on without us.  If we ignore or disregard the invitation, the Bridegroom will respect our freedom and will have no alternative but to leave us on the outside looking in.  If we arrive late and knock on the door, His seemingly harsh words--"I do not know you"--will simply echo and confirm the "It does not please me to attend" which our lukewarm lack of response had previously indicated.

* * *

However, if it does please us to accept the invitation, we will enter into the most perfect of celebrations.  Face-to-face fellowship with our favorite patron saints and intercessors, as well as reunion with all of our loved ones who wisely kept the oil of faith burning in their lamps.  In the Father's house there are many rooms, indeed, and there is an "open table" for each of us. 

All of the glimpses of peace and joy we have experienced here on earth will open onto the total fulfillment of all our desires at this wedding feast.  Our hearts will overflow with the love shared by the Bridegroom and his bride.

But the request for an RSVP from the Bridegroom has a due date.  We may have until the 11th hour of our life to utter our "yes."  However, as an old joke painfully points out, some of us may well die at 10:30.

The party inside will be utterly glorious, whereas outside there will be only wailing and grinding of teeth.  Isn't this the "acceptable time" to embrace the "day of salvation" once and for all (2 Cor 6:2b)?!