Monday, January 29, 2018

A Prayer for Times of Transition & Seasons of Uncertainty

The Presentation of the Lord

Patient Trust in Ourselves
and in the Slow Work of God
by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

"Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
 We should like to skip the intermediate stages,
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, to something new.

"And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability...
And that it may take a very long time.

"And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually,
let them grow,
let them shape themselves
without undue haste.

"Don't try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.

"Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete."

Monday, January 22, 2018

"Be Not Afraid" of Life

A national Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children (January 22, 2018) is serious business because forty-five years of legalized abortion in the U.S. has been deadly business.  Across the U.S., we have ended an estimated 60 million lives--and wounded hundreds of millions of mothers and fathers and grandparents along the way.

Not much new can be said regarding this tragedy which is tearing apart the fabric of our society.  But sometimes, we find new ways to say what needs to be said. 

1.  Check out the beautiful video advertisements put together by (click on "Our Ads" to view).

2.  Preview a few of these outstanding themes from the USCCB, many of which have been featured in this year's 9 Days for Life campaign.

3.  Finally, listen to what Pope Francis really thinks about this controversial topic: 

"Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this.   

"Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.  

"Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, 'every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offense against the creator of the individual'." (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 213)

May these insights transform our prayer throughout this week and this new year--


Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK Day and Service for the Greater Glory of God

"Use me, God.  Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do,
and use it for a purpose greater than myself."
+Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Serving others changes a person's heart.  Belonging to something bigger fulfills a profound human need.  Giving one's very self to others is the path to finding one's true self, as the Lord himself has revealed.

Rather than just another Monday holiday to stay home from work and school, our nation's annual recognition of Martin Luther King Day has morphed into a national day of service.  It has become an opportunity to put partisan politics on hold. It is also an opportunity to transcend, at least for a day, the real racism which continues to haunt our nation.

Not a day OFF, but a day ON :)

As a fitting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this national day of service has the potential to transform our perspective on life.  When I serve:
  • I remember that my life is not all about me and that I'm not the center of the universe.
  • I grow to understand that authentic self-esteem comes from giving myself to others.
  • I experience Jesus Christ, mysteriously present, and slowly realize that He alone can "break the chains of hate."

Of course, if does not spring from the right motivations, service can become just another self-soothing experience.  The temptation to feed the ego by doing good deeds can become part of an enslaving cycle of "self-affirmation."  The key Christian insight is that we serve others not because it makes us feel good (though sometimes it does), but because it is a concrete response to God's will in our daily lives: discerning a real need and acting accordingly, at the right time and in the right way.

Living with and for others foreshadows the eternal glory for which God has created the human person. After all, this is how Jesus described his own mission:

"The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many"
(Mt 20:28).

Finally, in honor of Martin Luther King's solidarity with those who are most oppressed and most vulnerable, let's hold in prayer the hundreds of thousands who will journey to Washington, D.C. for the 45th annual March for Life.  This contemporary civil rights movement promotes justice for vulnerable unborn children and mothers who represent every race and ethnicity.  It is a fitting extension of Dr. King's non-violent vision of social change.

Check out 9 Days for Life

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Faith of Fresh Starts

The liturgical leap from the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord to the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord invites us to connect the dots spiritually and theologically.  What connections should we discern in the leap from the Magi visiting the Holy Family in Bethlehem to the Jesus presenting himself to John at the Jordan?

As many commentators have noted, the "dwelt among us" of the majestic Prologue to John's Gospel literally means that the Lord has "pitched his tent" with us.  The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity has come to us in finite form:  Love in the flesh; the Merciful Face of the Father; the Beloved Son, with whom the Father is well pleased.

The Magi recognized that the coming of Jesus means that the innate human search for meaning and purpose--the quest for ultimate reality--has been turned inside-out.  The God whom we seek "out there" has joined us on the journey, "right here."  In Jesus, God continues to draw near to us in all of our weakness and frailty and disorientation.

John the Baptist also has eyes to see and ears to hear the arrival of this spiritual revolution.  Like the Magi, he has emptied himself of self and opened himself to the mystery of God-for-us.  Personal conversion of heart cracks the door which allows the Holy Spirit to sweep the house clean. 

This is the epiphany--the eye-opening illumination, the awakening to a mighty manifestation--that we all need to behold.  This ongoing mystery of the Lord's Incarnation is meant for each of us personally.  It is a revelation of the personal transformation which Christ is working under each of our roofs, wherever we are currently pitching our tents.

Both the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord remind us that God knows we all need a fresh start, and he comes to deliver a new beginning for each and for all.  Now and forever.