Another beautiful Sunday is in store today for the great mid-west. Yesterday, I literally spent the entire afternoon sitting in the backyard with the bar-be-que. A St. Louis deliciously: “Pork Steaks,” are so scrumptious when slowly grilled. (For those not in the St. Louis mindset, pork steaks are just sliced [about ¾ inch] pork butt.) Pork Steaks go great with toasted ravioli, gooey-butter cake, and Ted Drewes ice cream – more St. Louis treats.
Next Saturday is the ninth anniversary of terrorism showing its evil head on US soil with a devastating outcome for the entire world. Unofficially known as “Patriot’s Day,” it needs to be remembered by all. Please fly you’re flags proudly on this day as a symbol of unity by all.
I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of writing this blog. I am embarrassed by my earlier works; please do not read the first ones if you choose to read older ones. Not only has my writing style and format for this blog matured, so has my love for, wonder, and awe for our magnificent Lord. I can’t wait to see what happens in the near future.
I wish to thank everyone that has read this blog through the year. I want to expressly thank one individual, John H. for being my sounding board, editor, and spiritual director these last few months. John, you have pushed, prodded, and loved your way into my heart and soul. In you is the perfect example of someone trying to live as a “little Christ:” a Christian. God has blessed you, and has blessed me with you.
Everyone, please give me input on what you like, didn’t like, would like, or any other “like” I may have missed! I am totally serious – I am writing this for you as much as for me. I truly need your input!!! Please leave a comment on this blog site, or on my Facebook page. Thank you again, I love you all. Dan
Today in Catholic History:
† 1933 – Birth of Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Chilian catholic archbishop
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Heck is a place for people who don’t believe in Gosh.
Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ demand of all His disciples:
25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sits down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? 29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ 31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple. (NAB Luke 14:25-33)
This collection of the sayings of Jesus, most of which are distinctive to Luke, focuses on the total dedication necessary for a disciple of Jesus: His conditions for discipleship. Just prior to these verses, in Luke 14:16-24, emphasis was placed on the absolute gratuity and love of God wanting to share His banquet feast with us. These verses in today’s Gospel reading are the other side, the flip side, of the coin; God requires a full-hearted and totally absolute response on the part of the disciples. No attachments to family or possessions can stand in the way of this total commitment demanded of a disciple towards God. Also, this acceptance of the call to be a follower of Jesus demands a readiness to accept persecution, suffering, and a realistic assessment of the hardships and costs of following Him.
With Jesus saying the words “Hating his father…,” a total commitment was stipulated by Jesus for all wishing to follow him. A similar declaration is found in Mt 10:37-38: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” In Matthews Gospel, this is the first mention of the cross explicitly meant for the disciple, but implicitly foretold what was awaiting Jesus when He said “and follow after me” in last Sundays Gospel reading.
The two parables about building a tower and a foundation concentrate on the absolute need to reflect before acting. One must weigh the cost of decisions and actions. The last verse in today’s Gospel reading is not a command that all disciples, all followers of Jesus, just recklessly or spontaneously renounce their possessions. The comparison between the two parables and the last verse is that of the fate of those who are not able to see a decision or action through to the end, its conclusion. A true disciple of Jesus cannot withdraw from the sacrifice required of them for their faith! A disciple of Jesus follows Him to the end, even if it means sacrificing all their possessions, including their life!
A disciple’s family must take second place to the absolute dedication involved in following Jesus. This may sound pretty harsh by today’s standards. I believe it was equally as harsh during Jesus’ time on earth. Realize though that Jesus is not telling one to abandon one’s family and friends, as that might be a wrong and imprudent action. What He is saying is that one’s priorities need to be focused first on God in every action and major decisions we need to make! By taking up our cross – our responsibilities, duties and sufferings, all in the name of Jesus, we come a bit closer to the love of the Holy Trinity. Let’s remember that Jesus promised to send another advocate, a Paraclete, to be with us and to help us. By living our lives through and with the Holy Spirit, we can bring a stronger love to all those we encounter.
Several years ago, I was a very successful paramedic, educator, and administrator. Then I became sick, very sick, and literally, “circling the drain” in regards to my health. I had to retire from a vocation – a profession – of 30 years, which I had chosen and loved nearly more than life itself. With this turn of events, I became extremely angry at anyone and everyone. My anger was most importantly, directed to God who “put me in this position.”
Over a period of time my anger diffused and dissipated. God was a focal point for me (out of desperation at first). I decided to pick up my cross and start down that path, my own “Via Dolorosa.” In my pain and illness, I discovered a God I never knew before, a God of love for me regardless of my feeling towards Him!
How can one not be moved by the beauty of God’s creations in this world, and in knowing that this is just a pittance of the visions and love we will see and encounter when we leave this existence, to be in His presence for eternity? I am happy to say that I am now on a new path in my life, and have been as of that moment of discovery. This path was not of my choosing, but of God’s. Mine is now a much harder path in many ways, but a better fit for me. I can now see with a more open eye, and can see Jesus in all creation. How can one not want, or love what I can see now?
There is a Roman Catholic Priest in my area that was a naval officer aboard nuclear subs before becoming a priest. He actually helped develop nuclear torpedoes to be used in warfare, and other tools of total human destruction. With advanced degrees in nuclear sciences, this man was destined for a spectacular career in the US Navy and in the secular world. Instead, he turned his back on his supposed future and his past life of material wealth. He not only took and picked up his cross, he embraced it with the love only found through abandonment of self to the promised Holy Spirit. Our lives are a gift – a great grace – from God. What we want to do may not be what God wants us to do; then, maybe it is! The way we learn the difference is by the grace and whisper of the Holy Spirit when we ask God for help. Let the Holy Spirits grace lead us all to a truly God-centered life, since our relationship with Him is our first priority. I truly believe God cannot lead anyone down the wrong path!
“Just For Today”
“Oh, God, give me grace for this day. Not for a lifetime. Not for this week. Not for tomorrow, but just for this day.
Direct and bless everything I think and speak and do for just this one day, so that I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.
Oh God, for today, just for this day, let me live generously & kindly, in a state of grace and goodness that denies my many imperfections, and makes me more like you. Amen”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.
Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father’s construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.
During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.
In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”
After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.
The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.
For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.
Mother Teresa’s beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.
Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa “one of the most relevant personalities of our age” and “an icon of the Good Samaritan.” Her life, he said, was “a bold proclamation of the gospel.”
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 5 & 6 of 26:
#5 — Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.
#6 — They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.