Sunday, December 28, 2008

On with life . . .

Yes, you are right, it has been over a month since I last posted on this blog. My apologies! I have been spending less time on the computer and more time in life! It's not that I don't enjoy working on my website and blog, it's just that I've come to realize that life is much too precious to spend in front of a computer screen!

I'm not sure how I came to that realization, but for those of you who may be addicted to the Internet, please listen carefully.

Those people around you, your family and friends that mostly see the back of your head these days, deserve to have more of your attention. You are not with your kids just because you are home, if you are otherwise occupied. You are not growing in your relationship with your spouse if you spend most of your time in virtual reality. And you are certainly not growing in your spiritual life if you are only researching or reading about spiritual things.

You see, to have a relationship with God is to spend time in communion with him. Sometimes that is resting quietly; sometimes it is being fully engaged with your family. But always, it is embracing life!

Have you checked out of life because you prefer sitting at a computer, staring at a screen? Do something with someone, in person, TODAY! You will be glad you did!

God bless,

Friday, November 7, 2008

After the Thrill is Gone

Okay prolifers, take heart! I know many of you are very discouraged and upset after the election, but now is NOT the time to give up! All is not lost if your candidate did not win. There were plenty of things to vote on--from judges to proposals, and obviously, the presidency--and we all have a variety of opinions about which were the best choices, but if your favorite did not win, do not waste one more minute grieving it.

I would like you to read a wonderful article by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. Even though it is after the election, his call to arms, if you will, is very encouraging. It can be found at Columbia.

Now, let's move forward. Think about how you can contribute some time or energy to the pro-life movement. If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, speak. If you can stuff envelopes and do mailings, pray or whatever, just do it. Call your local Right to Life office and ask them what they need. Maybe they need someone to staff phones. Maybe you can put some inserts in your church bulletin. Whatever. Do NOT wait any longer for someone else to do it!

You see, we have to get working so that the next election puts into place a body of people who will lead from a pro-life position. The moral fabric of our nation is at stake and it can be strengthened if we get to work. All too often we think of making a difference by putting together big events, etc., but the real movement comes one person at a time. Remember how President-Elect Obama called on people at a grassroots level? Perhaps he knew that it works!

Please let me know what you do . . .

God bless,

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Image of God

Some of you who subscribe to my free e-letter CassidyComments ( will be familiar with the following quote. My apologies for the duplication, but this is such a beautiful quote from Pope Benedict XVI that it warrants repeating.

It comes from his weekly General Audience of September 17, 2008. I am using the translation published in the National Catholic Register.

"Just as Caesar's image was stamped on Roman coins in order to indicate that they were to be given back to him, the image of of the Creator--the only Lord in our life--is stamped on the heart of man."

Yes, the image of God is stamped on our hearts. That is how inseparable we are from our Creator. We are permanently joined to God and formed by him. It is natural that the heart, from where our love grows and flows out to the world, would be the centerpiece of God's image.

It's interesting, also, to contemplate the idea that Caesar's coins were marked so as to be given back to him, and we, marked for God, are always claimed by him as well.

God bless,

Monday, September 29, 2008

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I have saved a picture from an adoption magazine that is very striking. It has a cute picture of three little, wide-eyed babies, one boy, two girls. It is such a cute picture. When I opened the magazine to read about these babies, I was struck by the fact that they had been frozen embryos that were adopted.

All it takes is one look at this picture to see the problem with embryonic research. If these babies had been given up to research, they would not be alive today. Three beautiful little human beings would never have been given a chance to live full lives.

What to do with frozen embryos is a particular dilemma today. John Paul II tried to warn us that in vitro fertilization and such would cause great problems. Read his wonderful document--The Gospel of Life.

Of course, now that in vitro is commonly practiced and people are creating embryos they don't want, there is a moral problem--what to do with them. It's so sad. People are looking for a moral answer. How do I dispose of my extra babies? they ask.

There really isn't a good answer to this. When we try to scientifically create babies outside the natural, conjugal act of a married couple, it creates the mentality that children are a right, rather than a gift from God.

Just because we can do something lawfully or scientifically, doesn't mean we should.

One thing for sure is that it is never okay to do evil, and to destroy human embryos because they are viewed as "extras" is not an acceptable solution.

We must continue to pray for infertile couples and help educate them on the immorality of in vitro fertilization and the ensuing problem of creating "extra" embryos. They need to think about these things before placing themselves in a position that is a moral landmine.

There is NO SUCH THING as an "extra" embryo.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are You Giving Your All to God?

Sometimes we don't do what we know we should. Maybe we've let our prayer life lapse, or we've become a bit lazy in other areas of our life. Perhaps this will help. I was reading Chapter 11 of Hebrews this morning and some of the passages inspired me to try just a little bit harder . . .

If you start with verse 32, you'll find a list of some of the things the faithful before us have done. When you read:

"Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned sawed in two, put to death at sword point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. . . .They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth" . . .

you have to ask yourself, Is it too much for me to spend a little time in prayer? Is God asking way too much of me when He asks me to meditate on His Holy Word for a short time each day?

It really calls you up, doesn't it, on your depth of commitment to the Lord?

Spend some time today considering if you have truly given to God all that you can.

God bless,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Letter to the Hebrews

The Letter to the Hebrews may be read as a letter of encouragement to Christians wearied by demands. As I begin reading the first few chapters, I find a couple of very strong reminders that are important for us today.


Near the end of Chapter 4, we are reminded that Jesus is not someone who is unable to understand our weaknesses. We can confidently turn to him for mercy and grace.

For us, then, we can see that if we are to be compassionate to others and tolerant of their weaknesses, we must know our own very well. It is only in light of our own faults and sinfulness that we can humbly accept others. If we do not do this, then we are in danger of being judgmental and intolerant.


At the beginning of Chapter 5, in reference to high priests, we are reminded that "No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called
by God . . . ."

Whatever YOU are doing in the service of God's name, you are doing it because He has called you. When you begin to waver in your confidence, reflect on these verses. ". . . . it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: 'You are my son; this day I have begotten you."

You did not put yourself in the position you are in; God called you to it. You are his child. Verse 8 reminds us that Jesus "learned obedience from what he suffered."

We, too, learn obedience through the challenges of life. When we stay faithful to God's word and obey his commands, it will lead us to the salvation he has promised for all.

God bless,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's no substitute for Mass!

I was reading an article in my local paper about the Rosary Tapes. The story was highlighting this product where there are prayers set to music. In the article it shared the thoughts of a 25 year old Catholic. Her comment made me cringe.

Describing her use of the tapes, she said: "I don't make it to church every week, so it's just kind of my way of keeping in touch with my faith."

Is it possible, really, for someone to think that listening to prayers online is a substitute for going to Mass? Let's see, you've got the Eucharist on one hand and an audio prayer on the other . . .Yup, that's the same.

I hope you detect my sarcasm. And if you are a Catechist, I hope you never have a student who will grow into an adult who makes that kind of claim. I understand that maybe this is the best the 25 year old woman can give right now, so I applaud her efforts, but she is in serious need of some catechesis.

Sadly, she is not alone.

We must continue to pray hard for the lost generations.

God bless,

Monday, July 7, 2008

Reflections on Paul in Acts

As I continue my reflection on Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, I come to Chapter 26, where two things have given me pause . . .

In Verse 20, Paul tells us in no uncertain terms what he has been doing:

" . . . I preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance."

How many of us follow Paul's words today? Do we take seriously our need to repent (to be sorry), to turn to God, and then to make reparation through our actions?

When you have gossiped, hurt or otherwise been uncharitable, have you renounced it and asked God for forgiveness? Have you then tried to fix the damage done, even if it makes you embarrassed 0r uncomfortable?

Another way to look at this passage is a personal call to responsibility. Do you, like Paul, express the need for repentance when it is called for, or do you dismiss or laugh off others' inappropriate jokes, racist or disparaging remarks?

Secondly, I was struck by Verse 26:

Paul says, "The king knows about these matters and to him I speak boldly, for I cannot believe that [any] of this has escaped his notice; this was not done in a corner."

That last part, stood out as I was reading this passage where Paul goes before King Agrippa to testify on his own behalf about the charges brought against him.

I learned that this is a Greek proverb and may express the understanding that Christianity has not been hidden; it has been carried out in public where all can see it.

A good reminder to us that the Good News of Jesus cannot be "done in a corner!"

As always, I welcome your comments.

God bless,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Is Paul Speaking to You?

In Chapter 20 of Acts, Paul gives a speech as he is leaving the people of Miletus. He reminds them that he has never shirked his responsibility to them and has always proclaimed God's plan to them. Then, he tells them to watch over themselves and the whole flock, that they have been appointed by the Holy Spirit to oversee the church of God that was acquired by the blood of Christ.

He warns them that from among their own group "men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them." They must be vigilant.

We today, who have heard God's word proclaimed also must take to heart Paul's words. We have a responsibility to each other. We must be careful not to be misled by a twisted version of the truth--which we often encounter today.

If you have heard the Word of the Lord, you have a responsibility to carry it to others. How, you may ask, do I do that?

Maybe it is in your courage to acknowledge God where he is not normally mentioned, at work, or in your community or among your friends.

Maybe it is by your practice of faith that is outstanding in virtue. (God's grace makes that possible.)

Maybe you will bring the Word of God to your children, or in your relationship with your spouse.

Maybe you will study or join a religious order, or a lay order, and become knowledgeable about your faith.

However God leads you to carry His word to others, take this responsibility seriously and make it your life's vocation.

I welcome your comments about these reflections and God's work in your life.

God bless,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What was Paul doing?

In Acts Chapter 17, in a few places, such as verses 2 and 11, there is a reference to scripture.

Paul uses scripture in his discussions "expounding and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead", and that Jesus is the Messiah.

In Verse 11 we learn that the Jews of Beroea were willing to examine the scriptures daily. But what scriptures? Paul did not have the New Testament.

The Old Testament scriptures would have been available in Paul's time. He was pointing out to his listeners that the long-awaited Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures was Jesus.

Paul had one clear message: Follow Jesus. He is our Messiah. He suffered, died and was resurrected. Paul traveled all over with this message.

Now, when you think about it, his transformation is amazing! Others had to study scripture and be convinced, but Paul, who just a moment ago had been persecuting the church, understood deeply through his conversion the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.

How many of us who have known something for a lifetime could so suddenly change our perspective? Paul knew the scriptures before, but now he saw them differently.

What a beautiful, magnificent display of the power of God to transform a life!

That is possible in your life as well. Perhaps you are beginning to see your life through a different lens. Perhaps now, you see some sort of connection to God and you are exploring what that is. Pray to God and ask him to open your eyes.

The possibilities are endless!

Monday, June 30, 2008

St. Paul--a Man with a Mission

Pope Benedict XVI has announced a special Jubilee Year of St. Paul. What a blessing this will be! I expect there will be a lot of resources for us to read about this great saint, but I have decided to begin my journey in the Acts of the Apostles.

I have begun at the end of Chapter 7, where Paul is present at the martyrdom of Stephen, "consenting to his execution," as the beginning of Chapter 8 tells us.

As I read through these portions of Acts again, I am trying not to focus so much on the details, but on the spirit that moves the people. I am looking at their understanding of their mission, and it is quite clear:

"The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord." (11:21)

"For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people." (11:26)

The formation of the early church becomes even clearer, in chapter 15, where they assemble for the Council of Jerusalem.

The Apostles, the presbyters they appointed to lead, and the Church, gathered together and made decisions; practices and teachings were clarified. No wonder the Catholic church takes seriously its responsibility to share the Good News.

Their mission--without a doubt--was to draw others to Christ.

That remains our mission as disciples of Christ, and His church, as well.

As we follow St. Paul this year, we should compare ourselves to him. How is the Spirit moving me? How determined am I to stay true to Christ? How important do I see the mission of drawing others to Christ?

These are good questions for us to reflect on.

As I continue my journey, I'll bring some of my thoughts to you here in this space. A recommended website to begin your journey is:

Please add your comments here as well, to share with others.

God bless,

Friday, June 13, 2008

Is the Lord Whispering to YOU?

Today's reading comes from the first Book of Kings, Chapter 19: 9-12 . . .

Elijah is told to "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by."

Then came a strong wind, scripture tells us, "but the Lord was not in the wind."

Then came an earthquake "but the Lord was not in the earthquake."

Then came a fire, "but the Lord was not in the fire."

Scripture says that "After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound."

That is where God can be found, in the tiny, whispering sound, but so often we look for him in the loud thundering clamor, don't we?

Why do you suppose we have trouble hearing God today? Is it because we are so noisy we can't hear His whisper? Or, perhaps, we are looking in the wrong place!

Let your heart be open today to God's whisper. Set aside some quiet time for the Lord. If you are struggling with finding God in whatever is happening in your life, persevere in asking for His help. God is always with us, whether we hear Him or not!

God bless,

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Pope talks to Catholic Educators

Just out of pure interest, I have been reviewing Pope Benedict’s addresses to various audiences during his trip to Washington D.C. Anyone who claims that this man, or his Church, is out of touch with the “real” world, hasn’t been listening.

In his address to Catholic educators, he spoke to this Catechist’s heart. He reiterated his thoughts from his encyclical Spe Salvi, that “First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth.” The second emphasis was that “This relationship elicits a desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ and his teaching.”

Simply put: Catholic schools (not to mention parishes in general, and Catholics in particular!) should be an encounter with Jesus. This encounter should be so significant that it causes one to want to grow—not only in their knowledge, but also in their understanding—of who Jesus is and what he teaches.

That’s huge. That’s a great challenge to anyone interested in spiritual formation.

First and foremost, you need to be practicing the faith you are teaching; by doing so, you will draw others to Christ. That is evangelization. That is your mission. That is your partaking in the mission of Christ. To achieve this, your life must be a considered response to questions Pope Benedict asked in this address:

Do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear?

Are we ready to commit our entire self—intellect and will, mind and heart—to God?

Do we accept the truth Christ reveals?

Is the faith tangible in our universities and schools?

Is it given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation?

Even if you have never taught a religious education class in your life, you certainly have encountered members of your family, friends and neighbors who are in need of God’s healing love. You may be raising children (or grandchildren) that can benefit from an increased desire for Christ as well.

Take a bit of time with these questions and reflect on them. I welcome your comments.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Educating Catholic Children

I was reading an article in the National Catholic Register about Pope Benedict's speech to educators and administrators. An educator, Andrew ABela, who heard the address said:

"For us teachers, it is not just about what we teach, but about who we are; for our students, not just about what they learn, but who they become--and, in particular, to what extent we help them to overcome their reluctance to entrust themselves to God."

Amen, I say. Amen.

As a Catechist (one who instructs Religious Education teachers) his words struck at the heart of my beliefs about religious education. Anyone can stand up in front of a group of students and pour information into them. It is the work of a teacher (particularly a rel. ed. teacher), to be concerned about who that student becomes and how they relate to God in their lives.

At the forefront of the religious education changes that are necessary, is the reality that the teachers themselves must be of a certain mindset and lifestyle if they are to convey the truths of the Church to their students. Students must see "lived faith in action" if they are to comprehend any idea of what it means to be a Christian.

Additionally, families must gather around their faith and cling tight to what they know and believe to be true, as the tides wash against their children. Christ is the one we can believe in and trust; He is the one who will set our course straight. In a related article, Pope Benedict said that this is a springtime of hope for Christians.

The struggles we are going through now will certainly work to make us stronger.

He is a wise man and one to whom we should pay very close attention.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I began working a part-time, secretarial job last week for a seasonal business. Upon reflection, I realized that everyone is so focused on getting their work done, that I am a bit invisible. I’m only visible to the extent that I meet their needs, i.e., writing checks, answering phones, etc. Otherwise, they do not have the time, nor the inclination, to learn who Janet is. For instance, they know nothing of my family, my writing, my religion or my love of learning.

It occurred to me when I realized this that it’s possible that I carry this same tendency toward the poor. I started thinking, what do I know of them? How do they get noticed? Is it only when they meet a need (think migrant workers, for instance) that they get noticed? No, not from my experience. Meeting someone else’s needs is not enough to get you noticed.

If you are poor, you may do a job, but I still do not know who you really are. I do not know what you are like, your family makeup, or even if you have a religion. Often, you are collectively considered by terms such as “they” or “them.” You don’t even get the benefit of being noticed for your individuality.

That’s terrible. Just terrible. How are the poor supposed to get noticed? Do they have to interject themselves somewhere in order to be detected, or must they simply wait until others sit up and take notice?

Take some time this week to notice those around you, and those whom you typically overlook. See them, really see them. Invisibility is simply not acceptable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From Ashes to Diamonds?

Can you imagine this? I read in PARADE (Sunday, April 20, 2008) that there is a new trend--taking your loved one's ashes and incorporating them into things. No longer is it fashionable just to distribute them, but now you can have them put in synthetic diamonds, glass balls and pottery!

As if that weren't bad enough, apparently we now also have man-made reefs on the ocean that contain human ashes as well.

The Catholic church allows cremation (as long as it isn't a protest statement of sorts), but the remains must be cared for with dignity and respect--no wide distribution--especially on ocean reefs and in diamond rings!

One of the things I absolutely love about the Church is its respect for the sanctity of human life. Even human remains are given that extended dignity. To distribute human ashes as this article described is very wreckless--even if a solemn occasion is made of the event. Simple piety and a few prayers, when offered, will never elevate such an occasion to a sacred act.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Are you responding to God in your life?

I’ve noticed something recently, a pattern of sorts . . .

About sixteen years ago I went through a conversion experience that drew me closer to God and increased my interest and awareness of my faith. It wasn’t dramatic or anything like that, but a slow process of teaching and studying that opened my eyes.

Today that desire and experience of God continues, but after this time of what seems like interior preparation, it is moving outward. I cannot tell you, yet, how it will be manifested outwardly, but I sense that it is.

When I started thinking about it, I realized that this is a very typical pattern of God working in the lives of His people. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta had been prepared by God for many years before founding the Missionaries of Charity. Sr. Helen Prejean, author and advocate for people on Death Row, also had been doing other things when God called her to the neighboring prison in her community. Others, converts to Catholicism, seem to have excelled following their time of preparation as well.

I wonder if you, too, have found this to be true. Was there—or is now—a time of preparation for you?

As I continued to consider this, I wondered if maybe some people, rather than experiencing that interior preparation and move to outward service, simply remain idle. When you think about it, many live and die without a deeper sense of God in their lives. Many move from point A to point B without any realization that their heart desires to respond to their Creator.

Since God calls us first—and we can be assured that He calls each one of us—you have to wonder how some of us stand so still in our lives. Does distraction block our vision of Christ? Does our apathy or laziness? Why is it that some of us simply never respond to God?

These are good things to consider when you reflect on your own life in Christ. I pray that you will be inspired during this Easter season to respond to God, rooting out all indifference to your faith.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Speaking the Truth

I was reading in PARADE on Sunday, the section on celebrity news. I was sickened by the report about Melissa Etheridge. Now I don’t know anything about her, really, except for what I read, but that was enough.

Apparently, she has exchanged vows with her new female partner, with whom she “has” 17-month old twins, following her relationship with another woman with whom she “had” two children.

What struck me—and frightens me—is how casually it was reported—as if true—that two women can actually “have” a child. It’s as if it were the most natural thing in the world! It’s the same thing I hear when people identify same-sex couples as being married.

I’m not being mean or uncharitable here. I’m simply stating the truth. Two women cannot have children, nor is their relationship a marriage. It’s not a condemnation of them, it’s just a fact. We should never condemn others, but we must speak the truth in love.

Can you imagine if Jesus would have had the “whatever goes” philosophy of life? He wouldn’t have spent so many difficult hours trying to help the Pharisees “get it.” No matter how difficult it may be, we cannot change the truth.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pope Benedict--a true leader

I was reading a report in the National Catholic Register about Luxembourg’s potential for becoming Euthanasia-friendly. The Pope and the Prime Minister had a meeting where this topic was addressed. The bill is passing in this mostly Catholic country. The Prime Minister’s party wanted to block the legislation as well.

What struck me in this article, though, was a quote from the Vatican communiqué reflecting what is very typical of the Vatican—they’ll talk to anybody, even if you don’t agree with them.

According to NCR, the release from the Vatican said that they had “cordial discussions” and that those discussions were an ‘“opportunity to evoke the good relations that exist between” the Vatican and Luxembourg.”’ It said that this gave them the opportunity to “examine a number of questions of mutual interest concerning the current situation of the country.”

“We’ll talk” the Vatican seems to have said; they are a good model for us to follow . . .

When you or your brother have a major, serious disagreement, try to work through it, even if you don’t get your way. Euthanasia is a very, very serious subject and one that surely would raise the ire of the Pope, yet he keeps the lines of communication open because he knows that to do so provides the only real opportunity for progress. Just keep trying.

If you are a strong pro-life advocate, you, too, know what it feels like when your emotions are “stirred into flame” by the ignorance of the pro-abortionists. But, using the Vatican as your model, you now know that progress does not come by force, but by perseverance and love.

Pope Benedict XVI continues to lead by example. We should be paying very close attention.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Who is the Woman Behind the Mask?

I was talking to my dental hygienist the other day and she was talking about her upcoming wedding. I always peruse the engagement section of our newspaper, but I missed hers. She pointed to a copy of her engagement picture clipped from the paper. I sat there is disbelief. I wouldn't have recognized her if she had walked past me on the street!

We laughed at how her hair is always up and her unrecognizable face is always disguised by a mask.

I was thinking about our conversation as I reviewed the scripture readings for this week. This week we will spend a lot of time reading about people who didn't recognize Jesus. Particularly, on Tuesday, we read that Mary Magdalene thought Jesus was the gardener!

This passage has always struck me. Did Jesus look like the gardener, or did Mary just assume that because he was there, that he was? And then my thoughts go on to consider how often, maybe, I have not recognized Jesus in others. We understand, especially from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, that we can see the face of Jesus in the poor, the sick and the dying. Can we also see Jesus in the cashier at the grocery store? My sibling, parent or friend? Or, like Mary, do we mistake him?

A greater challenge in some ways, I suppose, is seeing Jesus in the Eucharist. Do I recognize our Lord in that tiny piece of bread or in the cup?

Whether you meet Jesus on the street today, in the Eucharist, or both, be sure not to be like Mary and mistake him for someone else!

Also this week, if you are paying close attention, you will see that Jesus' identity became known when he spoke a name, broke bread or performed a miracle. This clearly indicates to us that Jesus knows us, connects with us, even when we are not aware of His presence.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gospel Unity

In the "high priestly prayer" of Jesus in the Gospel of John (Chp. 17:11), Jesus prays to the Father that his disciples "may be one just as we are."

In these words we learn of the ideal--that all followers of Jesus should be one, just as Jesus and the Father are One. If you spend some time reflecting on this, you begin to see the beauty and simplicity of this statement.

Jesus and the Father, as is evident throughout this beautiful prayer, are One. Jesus comes from the Father. The Father is glorified in Him. Jesus wants this kind of union with us and the Father, too.

Faced with this statement, we have to ask ourselves, "How can I work to bring people together?" We should be careful that our actions and words do not serve to separate us. Even in the little, everyday ways that our pride causes us to condemn each other . . .

Maybe we think our way is always right and others are incompetent.
Maybe we are a little arrogant in how we raise our children, or the work we do, or how we use our talents--forgetting that they come from God.
Maybe we think we are holier because we do such and such, or are more religious because of our pious practices.

Humility is the answer to the problem of division. If I am humble, I will respect your beliefs. I will respect the way you do things. We will find unity in this freedom.

These are not high and lofty ideals. They are very simple and practical. The Gospels tell us over and over. Do not take the best seat at the table. Serve others. Don't put yourself above others.

When we do this, we will come together with our brothers and sisters and discover the "oneness" Jesus is calling us to. That is more important than those things we let divide us.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What was Judas' problem anyway?

On Tuesday we'll read (the Gospel of John 13:21-33,36-38) the passage where Jesus identifies Judas as his betrayer. Judas, who was among his closest companions, betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:15) for thirty pieces of silver.

To what are YOU so attached that you could be pulled away from Jesus?

Obviously there was a change in Judas, if he once followed and believed in Jesus. How powerful temptation can be! To reject Jesus, Judas turned to something else. What draws you away from living the Gospel? Are you being pulled by power, or position, or like Judas himself, greed? Are you too accepting of the latest spiritual fad, distancing yourself from the Church while embracing something that strokes your ego or your need for pleasantry?

The first reading on Tuesday, March 18th comes from the Book of Isaiah (49:1-6) and it reminds us that God calls us from our birth; He knows our name.

Isaiah reminds us of the greatness for which we are destined when he says:

"It is too little, . . . for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."

You see, God is calling you, not just for mediocracy, but to be a light to others so that His message of salvation can reach others! Do away with the obstacle that you have latched onto and turn to the ways of God! It is there that you will find meaning for your life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prayer of a sick person--Psalm 41

There's a line in Psalm 41 that goes like this:

"My enemies whisper together against me. They all weigh up the evil which is on me: 'Some deadly thing has fastened upon him, he will not rise again from where he lies.' Thus even my friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has turned against me."

These words bring to mind the betrayal of Jesus, but what about you today?

Do you ever feel that you are in the grip of something, that "some deadly thing has fastened" upon you? Do you ever feel that you cannot bring yourself out of the cloud that has rested over your head? That your spirit feels dead, as though it will "not rise again?"

Here the Psalmist speaks to the very heaviness of the human heart. Sometimes we get weighed down by our own sins, our own nature, our own character and we don't know how to rise above. Here the Psalmist speaks of the friends bringing about the pain and suffering, turning against the one who pleads. A truly painful experience when your own friends turn against you.

It is in these very moments that we can turn to Jesus in confidence that he will--as Psalm 41 attests--save us from the day of evil, guard us, give us life and make us happy. The Psalm tells us that Jesus will not "give him up to the will of his foes."

Whatever is weighing heavy on you today, be lifted by the words of this Psalm that plead for God's mercy and help. The beautiful Antiphon that comes before this in the Liturgy of the Hours says:

"Lord, lay your healing hand upon me, for I have sinned."

No greater heaviness comes upon us than knowledge of our sinfulness and the destructive impact our sins have upon others. Praying with this Antiphon turns to God in awareness of our sins and begs of his healing hand. This is an excellent prayer for Lent and I pray that it will inspire your trust in God's mercy and forgiveness when you come under the realization of the depth of your own sinfulness.

God bless!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

One with God

While praying morning prayers, I was enjoying the familiar song, Sing Praise to Our Creator. As I was passing over some of the words, I was struck by one line in particular:

"To Jesus Christ give glory, God's co-eternal Son; as members of his Body We live in him as one."

We live in him as one?

I started thinking, would that be similar to the Sacrament of Marriage, where, we are united as one with our spouse? If that is the case, then we can continue with the understanding that we cannot be separated as we are joined together.

Isn't that interesting? Do you live as though you are one in Jesus? How does knowing this change anything for you? The reference to being members of his body is familiar from scripture where we hear about the importance of every part of the body, but as members of his mystical body, we can also see that there cannot be any separation.

Try as we might to walk away from God at times, it is clear that there is no cutting loose. God is faithful. He is always with us, in us, inseparable from us. For those times when you feel that God is not listening or present, meditate on the words We live in Him as One and allow yourself to explore that reality and let it work in you.

God bless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yesterday we received the news that my husband was the victim of an attempted identity theft. The perpetrator tried to open a loan in his name using some personal information.

In today's reading from the Gospel of John (8:21-30) there is no problem with identity. Jesus tells the Pharisees and those who are listening exactly who he is. He admonishes them, telling them they are going to die in their sins. They just can't seem to hear what he is saying.

He tells them that the Father has sent Him. That when he is crucified, they will realize who He is. He tells them that he does nothing on his own that the Father is always with Him.

Some of His listeners that day, got it. Many, in fact, came to believe in Him. But we can be assured that some did not ever really "get it."

Where are you today? Are you paralyzed in your sins? Are you stuck in your world? Or will you be of the group that really hears what Jesus says and follows Him?

For the remainder of Lent, why not try to really hear the Word of God as it is revealed in Sacred Scripture? Be open to the Spirit's movement in your life so that you can come to believe, with all your heart, that Jesus is who He says He is. Really believe it and take it to heart. You will be amazed at the transformation that is possible.

God bless.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wisdom from Celebrities!

Do you ever read just a sentence or two in the news and the words strike you to the core?

Maybe it was the mood I was in, but I was reading in the recent issue of Parade (March 9, 2008) two separate statements that I thought were particularly insightful.

The first surprise came from an article about the comic, Tina Fey. At the very end of the article she is quoted as saying: "I'm here laboring over this tiny show so much, and around me people are making money by the fistful."

Oddly, it struck me because so often people in ministry work are doing just that. They are laboring diligently in the work of God, watching as those around them are "making money by the fistful." How often their skills could be used in a field that would bring in more income, but still, they stay the course, working for a mere pittance, if that.

I think that says a lot about the value of their work. They are faithful, even when the reality is, our society values work based on its return.

The second article in that same issue of PARADE was about the author Frank McCourt. He was encouraging people to do what they love to do, no matter how old they are, how old the dream is, or even if it is a brand new direction in life. After 30 years of teaching, sensing he had more in him, he turned to writing and became a best-selling author at the age of 66.

Finally, I overheard a staff person just last week say to our son, "It's okay to dream big. Your dreams don't cost you anything, do they?"

Putting all of these together, I am so inspired by the wisdom gleaned from these people. I hope you will find something in their words to inspire you as well.

Have a great day!
God bless.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jesus, the Source of New Life

I was reading over the scripture for a communion service I will be doing this week and I was thinking, "God? Couldn't you have given me something more to work with?" Needless to say, the passage I am going to reflect on is a little unfamiliar. It's not one of those that has a nearly built-in reflection.

Although I always take time to explore the depths of passages, this one, I thought would be a bit more challenging, so I settled in for a little study time with my Magnificat and my Bible.

The Old Testament passage from Ezekiel (Chapter 47:1-9, 12) describes a river flowing from a temple. Along the river, abundant life is apparent; fruit trees whose leaves never fade and whose fruit never fails, are watered. Fish are abundant and living creatures multiply. The river is truly life-giving, like Jesus Christ Himself.

In the Gospel reading from John (Chapter 5:1-16), we hear about a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He had been sitting by a pool of water, waiting for someone to put him in so he could be healed . . .

When you think about it, his life was small. He didn't do anything except wait by the water. A natural spring would bubble up and the idea was that the first one in would receive healing. Along comes Jesus who asks him, "Do you want to be well?" and he explains his predicament to Jesus. Jesus, by His Word, tells the crippled man to "Rise, take up your mat, and walk."

When he does, we now understand, it is by Jesus' word that each of us is healed.

What pool of water are you sitting by today, hoping to change your life? Do you know that Jesus is the one to whom you should go if you want healing? If you want new life? Do not waste your time with that which cannot bring you new life. I wonder how often we invest in false hopes when the true giver of life, Jesus, is ever-present.

Take some time to think about this today and really consider if you, like the man near the water, are looking to the wrong source for new life.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Is living a good life, good enough?

Do you ever wonder if you are living a life that is good enough for you to go to Heaven? What if you're not exactly saintly, but you haven't killed anybody either. On the day of Judgment, will the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa? Will your visits to the sick win over your gossipy nature? How is God going to judge us?

These are good questions and, thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI (who, btw, is very readable) gives us a hint at this in his latest encyclical Spe Salvi.

From Paragraph 46, in a reference to St. Paul's image of the Christian life being built upon Jesus Christ, the Pope says: "If we have stood firm on this foundation [Jesus Christ] and built our life upon it, we know that it cannot be taken away from us even in death. . . . If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward."

From Paragraph 47: "the way we live our lives is not immaterial, but our defilement does not stain us for ever if we have at least continued to reach out towards Christ, towards truth and towards love."

What great news this is for those of us who hover somewhere between saintliness and sinfulness!

In Paragraphs 45-46, Pope Benedict also gives a description of a life that is filled with hatred and lies versus a beautiful life that is "completely permeated by God," noting that "neither case is normal in human life."

So, there you have it, we can find hope in a life well lived, even if it is not perfect!

Be sure to check out this letter; it is good food for thought.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pope Benedict the XVI on suffering

I am right in the thick of Pope Benedict's Encyclical Spe Salvi which was published in November, 2007. It seems to be taking me forever because I keep putting it down and coming back to it. Not because it's boring, though, but because it is simply overflowing with beauty!

I'd like to share with you just one tidbit of information from this letter on suffering. Pope Benedict says that "Suffering stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today."

Here we have our Holy Father identifying why we suffer. It is because, as human beings, there is a limit to us and secondly, because the perpetuation of sin is immense!

But for any of you that have considered that our world would be perfect without sin, and are, perhaps, rallying against a God who allows it to persist, keep the following in mind.

Again, from Pope Benedict:

"Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power." Only God, he tells us, has the power to do this and we are reminded that only the Lamb of God can take away the sins of the world.

But, if you are like me, you have often wondered why, if Jesus can take away the sins of the world, does sin prevail? Pope Benedict reminds us quite beautifully that . . .

"Through faith in the existence of this power, hope for the world's healing has emerged in history. It is, however, hope--not yet fulfilment . . . "

And there you have it. We must never lose hope in the eternal justice of God who will prevail in taking away the sins of the world--some day--and remember that it is not in our power to do it.

If you have trouble with the idea of overcoming suffering (which typically arises from sin, but is not sin or punishment itself), think of my son . . .

Our son has been suffering for about a week or so from a wisdom tooth that will soon be pulled. In the meantime, I can throw Ibuprofen at him to try to "overcome" his suffering, but I am unable to remove the suffering. That can only be done by his oral surgeon.

Hmm. God, the great oral surgeon who rids the world of sin and suffering! Now there's a visual for you!

Honestly, we must do what we can in the face of suffering, but continue in hope for the day when the sins of the world, which cause so much of our suffering, will be taken away by God, who is always with us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Praying Through Desperation

As I was praying Psalm 86 during morning prayers, it occurred to me what a help it could be for those of you who are struggling in their marriage. This Psalm which is “the prayer of the poor man in distress” has some significant lines that could be a comfort to anyone who feels loneliness, desperation or emptiness in their marriage.

Several of the opening verses include pleadings to God for help:

Preserve my life, for I am faithful: save the servant who trusts in you.
Give joy to your servant, O Lord, for to you I lift up my soul.
Give heed, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my voice.

Later in the Psalm, the petitioner expresses confidence in God:

. . . . for you are great and do marvelous deeds, you who alone are God.
. . . . for your love to me has been great: you have saved me from the depths of the grave.

Whatever your particular struggle in life is, never give up pleading with God for help. A beautiful responsory given in the Liturgy of the Hours is:

“Incline my heart according to your will, O God.”

Let this powerful prayer be your assurance that you are moving in a direction blessed by God.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Have you ever been unappreciated, or even offended, by someone you have provided for, such as a spouse, child or parent? Maybe you’ve come home from work to hear your teenager question why their uniform wasn’t washed for the game—when they’ve been home since early afternoon. Or, maybe you’ve dedicated your time and energy to someone only to have them insult you for the way you served them. What has been your reaction to such ingratitude?

A natural temptation is to be angry, or even desirous of distancing yourself from the person causing you pain. But wait! Before you act on that feeling, ask yourself if you, too, might be guilty of ingratitude . . .

In my early morning reflection it occurred to me that we, also, are as guilty as a teenager on a Friday afternoon, of being ungrateful to Jesus! Consider that Jesus gave up his life, through much pain and suffering, not only for those who nailed Him to the cross, but for us as well. When was the last time you spoke a word of gratitude to Him? Do you frequently complain that He isn’t serving you well because you are not getting what you desire? Aren’t you thankful His response isn’t anger or detachment?

As a child of God, be grateful for the sacrificial act of love He has given through His son, Jesus. Take a moment today to appreciate the gift of salvation that you may enjoy because God, our Father, loves you so much!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Politics! Ugh!

I did some checking yesterday after my voting experience. I learned that Michigan passed Public Act 52 in September of 2007 which dealt with the primary.

I've also learned that Michigan has 15 congressional districts with 3 delegates from each district, for a total of 45 delegates. Apparently the GOP docked us 50% of our delegates for holding the primary early and breaking RNC rules while the Democrats withdrew their names so as not to break their rules.

So, the way I understand it, we changed our primary to a closed primary to allow participation and give us more relevance on the national scene, and what we ended up with was a primary that did not contain all relevant candidates and likewise penalized us.

I'm not that much into politics, but it doesn't sound very good to me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Are you kidding me?

I went to vote in the primary today and was shocked when I had to tell the nice volunteer whether I wanted the Republican or the Democratic ballot. It seems that you no longer get one ballot and then mark your preference, but now you have to request which party's ballot you want to use.

They mark it on a little slip of paper that you take to your little voting "booth" and then when you are done, you give it to another person to record whatever.

So, in the process of voting, two people--if they cared--now know which party I was voting for. What if the volunteer was a neighbor that I didn't want to have that information?

True, they don't know who I voted for, but still.

Is it me, or is this a terrible violation of my privacy?

What do you think?

Are you content?

I was reading an interview in the National Catholic Register with author Alexandre Havard. One quote in particular stood out:

"The more deeply we live the virtues, furthermore, the more likely it is that we will change the culture, rather than being content with merely shielding ourselves from its more pernicious effects."

How many of us (particularly parents) are guilty of being content with shielding our children from the harm brought on by culture, rather than attempting to change it?

We can complain all day about the language or content in PG-13 movies, for instance, but how many of us write letters or withhold our payment to them (which comes in the form of ticket buying)?

How many of us are fed up with the vulgarity of the upcoming generation of adults, but remain silent when confronted by it?

How many of us are appalled by abortion, but do not include in our prayers or actions any effort opposing it?

The list is endless.

We mustn't be content to shield ourselves from the effects of this culture, but we must take steps to change it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope Benedict's Letter

I have been reading Pope Benedict's encyclical (letter) Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) and have been fascinated by his insight and his readability. This is a great letter for everyone to check out. It can be found at:

He warns that it is not good for us to believe that a perfect society will provide hope for man. He describes the real error of Marxism as materialism, stating: "man, in fact, is not merely the product of economic conditions, and it is not possible to redeem him purely from the outside by creating a favourable economic environment."

In other words, our hope comes from God, it is not self-made through our own achievement. Benedict states clearly that "Man can never be redeemed simply from the outside." He criticizes Francis Bacon for believing "that man would be redeemed through science." This is a deceptive hope, Benedict tells us, while acknowledging the contribution of science yet warning about its potential destruction if steered from within.

Love is what redeems man and relationships are our life. We have a relationship with God and man, through "communion with Jesus." If we are self-centered and forget to look outward, we fall into an "individualistic understanding of salvation" according to Benedict, which is in opposition to "communion with Jesus" which has established our relationship with God.

Ultimately, Christianity is about the freedom that comes with the reordering of human affairs according to each new generation. This, Benedict reminds us, cannot be done strictly by creating good structures in our social order.

Ultimately, he tells us that "Anyone who promises the better world that is guaranteed to last for ever is making a false promise; he is overlooking human freedom. Freedom must constantly be won over for the cause of good. Free assent to the good never exists simply by itself." And more importantly, I think, he says that "If there were structures which could irrevocably guarantee a determined--good--state of the world, man's freedom would be denied, and hence they would not be good structures at all."

It is because we have the freedom to make decisions about our human affairs, that we have a responsibility to assent to the good and we must ultimately recognize that the hope we have in accomplishing this comes from God, not ourselves.

Friday, January 4, 2008

January Blues?

I know that overspending, especially at Christmas, has become a big problem, but I couldn't believe just how bad it has gotten.

I heard a quote recently that something like 50% of us owe $10,000 on our monthly credit card bills! It was also reported that many, many people have yet to pay off bills accrued from last Christmas! How is that even possible? What are people buying?

Years ago I asked a woman how she and her husband could afford yearly, lavish family vacations on their modest income. "Creative financing," she told me. When I inquired further, I learned that her idea of creative financing was simply moving money around on credit cards. I was saddened when she explained how they were able to go on vacations they couldn't afford, clearly unaware that this practice would one day get them in deep trouble.

I think it is time to give some serious consideration to living on less, voluntarily going without, and becoming responsible for personal debt.

To be able to do this, we have to take stock of our Pride.

Yes, I said, Pride.

Pride keeps us spending so we don't look cheap. Pride keeps us from getting the help we need when we get ourselves into trouble. Pride motivates us to satisfy our wants.

Pray hard and ask for help from an expert so that next January you will not be singing the Blues.