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Reflections on Catholic Faith - October 2009 - The OTHER Woman in My Life

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October 28, 2009

Salve Regina Preparing For Advent

Dear friends -- a few of you may know my work here -- perhaps a little bit larger number might know of a ‘Deacon Tom’ whom they hear on a program called Catholic Moments or another internet program called Catholic Vitamins. And yet a few more might know of the ‘Deke’ through columns that I do on Catholic Mom and Catholic Family Podcast. In a small way -- what I am doing is evangelizing to some number of people... I am acting as an earthly mediator for Christ.

Now at first - you might say, “Who the heck does he think he is -- calling himself a mediator for Christ?” If you know of my weakness and sinfulness -- you are absolutely correct. But -- think again. Aren’t we all called to be mediators for Christ? Go there and Baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That is referred to as the great commission. As baptized members of His family -- we are called to present (and to BE) the Word to those who don’t know of it or don’t know it properly. We do this by our own words and actions (and in accord with the Grace of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit).

Now -- if you do agree with this premise -- I want to ask you to consider Advent in a new way... and that is to think about our Blessed Mother Mary as ‘the’ mediator for Christ. In his Encyclical REDEMPTORIS MATER, John Paul II definitely reinforces that while Christ is the only mediator before God. But he teaches that the role is not exclusive but one of inclusivity.
In the forward by then Cardinal Ratzinger, he says that ‘Christ as the sole mediator does not take away our task to stand before God as persons linked to each other and responsible for each other.’ In different ways, we can all be mediators with Christ and before God.

Cardinal Ratzinger, now our current Holy Father says that the pope’s basic thesis is this: “Mary’s mediation is unique because it is a maternal mediation, related to Christ who is always born anew into this world.”

As we hear those words -- and if we take them into our pre-Advent hearts -- we can understand that Mary’s role is to help us have Christ born again in the world. And  in our own weakness, we ought to try to give birth to Christ again and again. That’s why we celebrate Advent -- to prepare for a new coming of Christ into this world. And that is what Mary is doing in so many places.... Guadalupe... Knock.... Fatima... Lourdes... and in the Church’s liturgical celebrations and practices. Perhaps other places as well. Mary is helping us .... leading us to her son and to a re-birth of the Savior among mankind.

And just as I mediate with Christ for others, In no way ought my work impede the immediate union of others with Christ. (When that does happen that it impedes others from union with Christ -- then others are seeing me rather than Christ. Or worse, I am so sinful that I interfere with union with Christ!).

It is this pure mediation of Mary -- mediating Christ to others that makes the words of the hymn take flight in our Advent minds and hearts, “Salve, Regina... Hail Holy Queen! And as the words in that famous prayer say “.... Turn then, most gracious Advocate.... after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

Reading 1
Rom 8:12-17

Brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 68:2 and 4, 6-7ab, 20-21

R. (21a) Our God is the God of salvation.
God arises; his enemies are scattered,
and those who hate him flee before him.
But the just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
R.        Our God is the God of salvation.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R.        Our God is the God of salvation.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
R.        Our God is the God of salvation.

Gospel Lk 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
“Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

October 21, 2009

Old Time Obedience of Mary and Others

I’m sure most all of you are too sophisticated or educated to have ever wasted your time watching a TV show many years ago called Laugh In... But for those who might have seen it for a couple moments, do you remember  the comedian Flip Wilson? Flip’s most famous character was called Geraldine…. And her most humorous line was, “The Devil made me do it.” Most of us laughed at his Geraldine because it was a parody of our old way of expressing why we commit evil... and Flip Wilson’s line about the Devil making me do it was in fact a restatement of Eve’s words in Genesis... The snake made me do it... and in that story which so beautifully teaches about our human weakness... Adam doesn’t say to God, “Oh, I’m so weak and I haven’t been saying my prayers... “ No -- he says to God, “That woman that YOU gave to me... she’s the one...” In effect -- Eve as the prototype of sinful women -- she wants to blame something or someone else... and so does sinful man.

We look to avoid accepting blame in so many ways... we try to shift responsibility for our behavior by saying this is the way God made me... or everyone else is doing it.... or what I’m doing isn’t sinful -- it may have been a sin a long time ago but we’re more modern now.

In our reading today from Saint Paul, he says that sin is not to have any power over you since you are not under the law but under grace. Well I don’t want this to sound like I’m disagreeing with those words from Paul, but let me share something I heard at a retreat some years ago.

A wonderful priest named Richard McAlear expressed this teaching about avoiding sin: “The way that you will know that you are in the truth and you will not be deceived is by the gift of obedience.

Obedience to the Church… to the doctrines and to the truth of the Magisterium… these are what keep you balanced and in truth. The devil is the father of lies – and you and I will never be condemned or in trouble if we are in the truth of the Church.”

I like what Fr. McAlear said -- and it explains how people can be pleasing to God 1,000’s of years ago by doing burnt animal offerings and rigorous cleansing rituals and attending synagogue on the Sabbath... those were the understandings and practices of the people of God in those times... and for those who practiced loving obedience to the Jewish ‘magisterium’ back then, they would have been acceptable and pleasing to God.  The early prophets did it. The Blessed Virgin Mary did it. Her husband did it. And -- most important by way of making a point: Jesus did it.

In the Gospel for today, Jesus says we are to be ready at all times because none of us knows when our hour will come. And in that guidance from Fr. MacAlear, none of us will be in trouble or condemned if we are in keeping with the Magisterium of our Catholic Church. We ought to think about that because we have many who call themselves Catholic but distance themselves -- even speaking out against the Church on important teachings such as abortion, contraception... ordination of women... the Eucharist and the like.  

Now if we understand the logic - the rightness of Fr. MacAlear -- we can see that we fall right in line with Paul’s letter to the Romans today -- we are not under a bunch of rigid laws... we are under grace of obedience as was Mary and the others who were close to Jesus on a daily basis...

Reading 1
Rom 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters: Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death,or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8

R. (8a) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us–
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive;
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R.        Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey to their teeth.
R.        Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R.        Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Lk 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared,for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself,‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

October 14, 2009

Paul & Mary - Slaves of Christ

I was looking at the Personal Study Edition of the New American Catholic Bible to prepare myself for today and for this reflection. In this Bible, I went to the help notes associated with the readings for today - and the first words of the first reading were of interest to me. Writing in a form of Greco-Roman letter writing of those times, Paul addresses the Church at Rome by saying he is a slave to Christ Jesus. Those were times when captured or indentured slaves were common. And of course we have our American history in which slaves played an important part of our economy and growing country. We look down on it now but slavery was a practice -- an accepted practice of life for thousands of years.

Why would Paul -- an educated and powerful Jew -- and probably a man who knew pride or struggled with it... why would he call himself a slave?The Bible that I looked at said that Paul applied the term slave to himself in order to express his undivided allegiance to the Lord of the Church, and the Master of all. What a change has happened in Paul’s life that he would go from killing Christians... persecuting them to being a willing slave to the founder of Christianity. The conversion must have been so powerful -- so dramatic -- so compelling that Paul submitted himself totally to the will and plan of Christ Jesus.

Now we know from Scripture that Christ wishes this form of conversion for people who follow Him. And Jesus said no one can serve (that is to be a slave to) two masters. And it is this form of relationship that is intended by Paul rather than a demeaning, degrading   form of master/slave relationship.

This weekend, I preached in part about the continuing call that we have -- and the obligation to continually seek God’s will for us. Lord, where am I today in terms of Your will for me? Like the young man who came to Jesus -- we should be asking ‘am I doing what is necessary to obtain eternal happiness?’

I think that the Morning Offering Prayer is such a great prayer... I recommend it to all of us. I use it myself... And I also like it because it is said in unison with the intentions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys and suffering of this day... in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass... I hope you know these words and will consider making them the beginning of each and every day.

And then, because this is the month of the Rosary... and the month of Blessed Virgin Mary, I would recommend that you read some or much of the writings of St. Louis de Montfort. For example, I’ve brought with me today an audio tape version of de Montfort’s book True Devotion to Mary. It’s three audio tapes which can lead you to becoming a slave to Jesus and His Mother. When he was yet alive, John Paul II said “Reading this book was a turning point in my life... it is an integral part of my interior life and my spiritual theology.”

If you decide to read/listen to this book, you may find that it will help draw you towards emulation of the perfect virtues and example of the Blessed Mother. And, on reflection you can see Mary, like St. Paul as a slave to her son. But a beautiful, radiant slave who demonstrates the keys to sanctity and salvation.

Perhaps you might consider listening to this book now... and then, if your heart is moved, you might consider consecration to Mary during this coming Advent period. I also have the book on the 30 day process for consecration to Mary.

Wouldn’t it be awesome like Mary to become a slave to Christ and like Mary, give birth of Christ in your life this Christmas?

Reading 1
Rom 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the Gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1bcde, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R. (2a) The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R.        The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R.        The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R.        The Lord has made known his salvation.


Lk 11:29-32 While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

October 7, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary

You may have heard Fr. Bill talk about this feast or about the devotion to Our Lady of the Rosary. It was established back in 1573 by Pope St. Pius the V. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto -- a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary.  The feast was extended to the universal Church in 1716.

Now while the ‘ordinary’ or typical thing to do might be to talk about the history or development of the rosary -- let me step around that topic for today. Let me share a couple Rosary Stories with you in hopes that if you aren’t regularly saying it -- these stories may lift your spirit to try to get into the habit...

A person named Romy shared this: On my way home I decided to stop at the local chili’s restaurant and order some take out.

As I waiting for my order I noticed that the rain was coming down really hard and I started to worry because I lived about twenty minutes away.  I figured I would wait in my car for a little while until the rain subsided.  I got impatient like I usually do and said to myself it’s getting late I will put in my Rosary CD and pray along until I reached home.  I drove on the I-95 at 25-35 mph which is unheard of on that highway. I drove with my hazard lights on to let people around me know that I was driving slow and to be careful.  Most people were driving slowly but some people were going much faster than I was.  I was saying to myself: wow God these people just don’t know.  I was so scared because at times I couldn’t see more than 20 feet in front of me.  I kept praying and praying. 

I was saying the Joyful mysteries that day and the orator was on the first mystery where the angel says to Mary and the other Mary be not afraid because Jesus has risen.   The words "be not afraid" relaxed me and I continued to say the rosary for all the drivers on the road.  Usually it would take me 20 minutes to get home but on rainy day especially one like that it should have taken me at least 45 minutes.  I finished the joyful mysteries and then I started to say the sorrowful mysteries but by the time I got home I was on the last decade and I just wanted to get inside the house but I heard "just finish".  So I said ok and I finished the rosary and when I got to the end it suddenly stopped raining !!  Glory be to God.  That has never happened before.  The rain just stopped and I made it home without a scratch.   I hate to drive in the rain it’s very dangerous especially when there are people on the road driving between 60 and 80 mph.  It was a miracle I made it home safe and the fact that as soon as I finished the rosary it had stopped raining.  I am grateful to God and our Blessed Mary for bringing me home safely.  For years my mom prayed for me to get home safe whenever it rained and now that she has passed she probably still is. That was by Romy

And a woman named Christine shared this story: When my mother was in hospital for her final stay, the staff had her propped up with pillows to aid her breathing. She sounded like she was moaning with each breath. We had to play tag-team visitors, so some of us waited in the hospice room for their turn. My brother, Steve, popped his head in and asked if I had my rosary with me. I nodded and he gestured for me to come with him to Mom's room. He told me she wasn't moaning, but praying. He told me to lean in close and listen.

"Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen." was what I caught. So I laid my rosary on her hand to give her comfort. She was too weak to actually use it. I had the privilege of staying in her hospital room for one night. We brought her home the next day as there was nothing else that they could do for her. I prayed the Glorious Mysteries with her. I also felt led to pin a miraculous medal to her gown. I read some scriptures to her from Romans (nothing can separate us from the love of God), sang her a lullabye, and then she passed. I went to the weekday Mass at her church the next morning. Fr. Tom came over to me before Mass as I was praying. He asked, "have you gotten your message from Heaven yet?" My mouth hung open! I had just seen, in my mind's (soul's eye) the figures of my mother (younger at about age 33), and another woman clothed in biblical-type robes. The other woman had an arm around my mothers waist and the other arm out in front as if escorting her in to the Presence. I was so astonished! I just wanted to share that with you. Christine

None of us should pray expecting signs and messages and avoidance of the normal passing of someone at the end of their life... but stories such as these are common place... and many of us have many things that we can attribute to prayer... to the rosary if we just think of them... not the least of which is drawing closer to Mary and to her Son.

Our Lady of the Rosary... Pray for us.

Reading 1
Jon 4:1-11

Jonah was greatly displeased
and became angry that God did not carry out the evil
he threatened against Nineveh.
He prayed, “I beseech you, LORD,
is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
And now, LORD, please take my life from me;
for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”
Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it,
where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade,
to see what would happen to the city.
And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant
that grew up over Jonah’s head,
giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,
Jonah was very happy over the plant.
But the next morning at dawn
God sent a worm that attacked the plant,
so that it withered.
And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind;
and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint.
Then Jonah asked for death, saying,
“I would be better off dead than alive.”
But God said to Jonah,
“Have you reason to be angry over the plant?”
“I have reason to be angry,” Jonah answered, “angry enough to die.”
Then the LORD said,
“You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor
and which you did not raise;
it came up in one night and in one night it perished.
And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,
not to mention the many cattle?”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10

R. (15) Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
R.        Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R.        Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O Lord,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R.        Lord, you are merciful and gracious.

Lk 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

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