Saturday, November 24, 2012

Between my ears: A scary place to be

In my dream last night, I was on the White House staff.  We were on the South Lawn of the White House, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan were visiting.  We all knew President Reagan had Alzheimer's, and I was sitting on the grass directly in front of him.  He was interacting with me nicely, and I thought, "Oh, he's having a 'good' day."  I had this idea that it would be a great photo-op if he would hand out Halloween candy to the children of White House staffers, who all worked on the 2nd floor (the 2nd floor of the White House looked like the inside of a hospital).  Another staffer tapped me on the shoulder and told me that if this photo-op didn't go well, I would be in big trouble.  That's when I woke up.

The lesson to be learned from the dream is this: I shouldn't have pepperoni pizza before going to bed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

St. Josemaria Escriva on the Feast of Christ the King

This is part of a 1970 homily which can be found in the book, Christ is Passing By:

If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my king and, through him, all those who have been redeemed by his blood. I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make him known and loved. And how will we show him to souls?  By our example.
Through our voluntary service of Jesus Christ, we should be witnesses to him in all our activities, for he is the Lord of our entire lives, the only and ultimate reason for our existence. Then, once we have given this witness of service, we will be able to give instruction by our word. That was how Christ acted. “He began to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1); he first taught by his action, and then by his divine preaching. If we are to serve others, for Christ’s sake, we need to be very human. If our life is less than human, God will not build anything on it, for he normally does not build on disorder, selfishness or emptiness.  We have to understand everyone; we must live peaceably with everyone; we must forgive everyone. We shall not call injustice justice; we shall not say that an offense against God is not an offense against God, or that evil is good. When confronted by evil we shall not reply with another evil, but rather with sound doctrine and good actions: drowning evil in an abundance of good.
That’s how Christ will reign in our souls and in the souls of the people around us. Some people try to build peace in the world without putting the love of God into their own hearts. How could they possibly achieve peace in that way? The peace of Christ is the peace of the kingdom of Christ; and our Lord’s kingdom has to be based on a desire to for holiness, a humble readiness to receive grace, an effort to establish justice, a divine outpouring of love.

Pope Benedict on the Feast of Christ the King

This comes from a 1979 work of Cardinal Ratzinger's called "To Seek the Face of God", and is found in English in the Ignatius Press book, "Co-Workers of the Truth":

The Feast of Christ the King is of recent origin, but what it celebrates is as old as the Christian Faith itself.   For the word Christ is, in fact, just the Greek translation of the word Messiah: the Anointed One, the King, Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified son of a carpenter, is so intrinsically King that the title “king” has actually become his name.
By calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the King, as people who recognize him as their King.  But we can understand properly what the kingship of Jesus Christ means only if we trace its origin in the Old Testament, where we immediately discover a surprising fact; It is obvious that God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom. The kingdom was, in fact, a result of Israel’s rebellion against God and against his prophets, a defection from the original will of God. The law was to be Israel’s king, and, through the law, God himself. … But Israel was jealous of the neighboring peoples with their powerful kings. … Surprisingly, God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kind of kingship for them. The son of David, the King, is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself.
If we look closely, we shall discover that this is, in fact, the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even turning his wrong ways into right ways. We can see that, for instance, in the case of Adam, whose fault became a happy fault, and we see it again in all the twisted ways of history.  This, then, is God’s kingship – A love that is impregnable and an inventiveness that finds man by ways that are always new.
For us, consequently, God’s kingship means that we must have an unshakeable confidence. For this is still true and is applicable to every single life: no one has reason to fear or capitulate. God can always be found. We, too, should make this the pattern of our lives: to write no one off; to try to reach them again and again with the inventiveness of an open heart. Our most important task is not to have our own way but to be always ready to follow the path that leads to God and to one another.
The Feast of Christ the King is not, therefore, the feast of those who are under a yoke but of those who are grateful to find themselves in the hands of Him who writes straight on crooked lines.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luke 17:20-25

Today's Gospel has the Pharisees asking Jesus when the Kingdom of God is going to happen.  "The coming of the Kingdom of God", said Jesus, "cannot be observed."

One of the things we overlook is the technological marvel (appropriate on this feast of the Patron Saint of Scientists, St. Albert the Great) that allows us to see weather maps.  Satellites in the sky take photos of cloud patterns, send the information to computers, and we can know whether we should have our picnic indoors or outdoors.  We've made some impressive things that enable us to see some some of God's creations that are even more impressive.

Imagine how many lives would have been lost if we had no idea the recent storm was coming?  What if people didn't know to get away from the coastline or stock up on candles, batteries, and canned soup?  What if we couldn't say "Look, here it is", or, "There it is"?  What if it was suddenly among us?

Worse, what if, like the Pharisees, God is right in front of us, and we don't recognize Him?

Hopefully we've all learned how to handle storms a little better, and will make sure we have batteries in our flashlights and radios, a propane camping stove, etc.  One of the nights we were without power, I poured over a catalog that I've been receiving for years, but from which I never really bought much.  If you're looking for some great things for electricity-free living, check out Lehman's.  You can bet I'll be getting an oil lamp or two for the rectory, along with a percolator coffee pot for the stove top.

A great vocation reflection

This snippet comes from Pope Benedict's 2010 Wednesday Audience talk on St. Albert the Great, whose feast day we celebrate today:
During his stay in Padua he attended the Church of the Dominicans, whom he then joined with the profession of the religious vows. Hagiographic sources suggest that Albert came to this decision gradually. His intense relationship with God, the Dominican Friars' example of holiness, hearing the sermons of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St Dominic's successor at the Master General of the Order of Preachers, were the decisive factors that helped him to overcome every doubt and even to surmount his family's resistence. God often speaks to us in the years of our youth and points out to us the project of our life. As it was for Albert, so also for all of us, personal prayer, nourished by the Lord's word, frequent reception of the Sacraments and the spiritual guidance of enlightened people are the means to discover and follow God's voice.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I snapped this picture in our parking lot last Tuesday evening, before the Nor'Easter came and put snow everywhere.  One of the good things that came from being "electrically challenged" was an appreciation of the sky at different times of day without artificial lighting.

Even in the midst of misery from no electricity, no heat, etc., beauty is all around us.