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Reflections on Catholic Faith - May 2009 - Acts of Faith

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May 25, 2009

Drawing a 'Bede' on Faith

You may have noticed that this May, the title for the reflections is about ACTS OF FAITH. So maybe this is a stretch and maybe it isn’t… but I’d like to say that on May 25th, I’ll be wearing a most unusual T-shirt. It has a man with a long nose and he’s holding a Bible in his hands. His features are rather rugged as in a representation of people from long ago. The caption at the bottom of this favored T-shirt is “The Venerable Bede.” It was given to me as a gift by a professor nun (Sister Justine) who teaches at Cardinal Stritch University. Thank you, Sister for helping me to learn a little bit and then helping me to read more of this holy man whom we honor on this date.

Here now are excerpts from the Franciscan website (American Catholic dot org) about this man of faith.

Bede is one of the few saints honored as such even during his lifetime. His writings were filled with such faith and learning that even while he was still alive, a Church council ordered them to be read publicly in the churches.

At an early age Bede was entrusted to the care of the abbot of the Monastery of St. Paul, Jarrow. The happy combination of genius and the instruction of scholarly, saintly monks produced a saint and an extraordinary scholar, perhaps the most outstanding one of his day. He was deeply versed in all the sciences of his times: natural philosophy, the philosophical principles of Aristotle, astronomy, arithmetic, grammar, ecclesiastical history, and the lives of the saints and, especially, Holy Scripture.
Ordained a deacon at 19, he was always involved in learning, teaching and writing. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible.

Although eagerly sought by kings and other notables, even Pope Sergius, Bede managed to remain in his own monastery till his death. Only once did he leave for a few months in order to teach in the school of the archbishop of York. Bede died in 735 praying his favorite prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As in the beginning, so now, and forever.”

His Ecclesiastical History of the English People is commonly regarded as of decisive importance in the art and science of writing history. A golden age was coming to an end at the time of Bede’s death: It had fulfilled its purpose of preparing Western Christianity to assimilate the non-Roman barbarian North. Bede recognized the opening to a new day in the life of the Church even as it was happening.

Though his History is the greatest legacy Bede has left us, his work in all the sciences (especially in Scripture) should not be overlooked. During his last Lent, he worked on a translation of the Gospel of St. John into English, completing it the day he died. But of this work “to break the word to the poor and unlearned” nothing remains today.

Quote:  “We have not, it seems to me, amid all our discoveries, invented as yet anything better than the Christian life which Bede lived, and the Christian death which he died” (C. Plummer, editor of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History).

May 18, 2009

I titled the reflections of this month of May ACTS OF FAITH. What I’m about to say isn’t based on any scientific study or rigorous research. But it does seem to me that more people have mentioned a preference for hearing the Acts of the Apostles than any other segment of Scripture.

The first hours of the Christian faith unfold as we hear of the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed upon the people… conversions, miracles, councils, visions and travels. In today’s reading, we hear of a dealer in purple cloth – purple – a color associated with well-to-do people. We can infer that Lydia was a successful business woman.

We can truly say that God’s grace was noteworthy in this Lydia. We read in the Acts of the Apostles of how quickly Lydia became a Christian… and in fact – she became a rapid and decided Christian influence for others in her own home. And further – Lydia wouldn’t say no. Her house was open to St. Paul and his companion. In her conversion zeal – Lydia is filled with self-denial and hospitality. Her two cameo appearances leave many longing for more stories of Lydia.

Over time, any who have read my words or been around my preaching have heard me say l that I am a ‘student’ of conversions. I love the Marcus Grodi (EWTN program) Journey Home television program. I’ve ordered some of the CD’s of various programs because the conversion stories told on the programs were so good. But I also love St. Augustine’s Confessions… and I’ve read 50 or 75 more stories in one place or another.

I just reached down to a lower shelf here at my desk and I pulled up an Our Sunday Visitor insert.

It is the In Focus section of Conversion Stories from March 23 rd, 2008. In this four page section are words on mercy and healing by a Kathy Druzbicki of St. John, IN. There’s a ‘coming home’ email story by a woman named Audrey Clinton. Like my wife Dee, Audrey was raised Methodist. Later, Audrey attended Baptist and fundamentalist churches well into her adult life. When she turned 40, she began serious research into the history of Christianity (can you spell ACTS of the Apostles?). She found a quote from Cardinal John Henry Newman: “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” Everything (Catholic) she read made so much sense.

There’s a story of a naval enlisted man named Donald Moffat who, when assigned to a ship tried to convert a young officer away from his Catholic faith. Instead of converting the other fellow, Moffat had the tables turned and he converted to our faith.

Most of us have heard it said: thank goodness for converts – they bring such enthusiasm to the Church. I’ve found this to be an almost universal statement. Most converts cite a decades long journey to find truth. And then comes the awakening that truth… sometimes referred to as Truth – is in the Catholic faith. Parts of truth are often found in good and holy people of other faiths… but so many are looking for the Truth that was started in Acts – and which continues to this day.

The closing words of Audrey Clinton’s email sum up the enthusiasm that so many of us have: “Before every Mass, I kneel and thank God for bringing me home.”

If you don’t feel this way – take steps… take heart… it can come to you… but you must want it… you must seek it.


Deacon Tom




Reading 1
Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer.

We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation,
"If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home," and she prevailed on us.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.

Sing to the LORD a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches . Let the high praises of God be in their throats. This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.

Jn 15:26-16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

"I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you."


May 11, 2009

The period from Easter until Pentecost at the end of May is filled with stories from ACTS of the Apostles…They are the wonderful stories that so many of us love about the beginnings of the new Christian Catholic faith. A few days ago, a friend from Florida said that his two favorite areas of Scripture used in Mass readings were from this time of year – when ACTS and the Gospel of John were read. Amen, dear friend… Amen!

We had some people over for a regular (monthly) rosary in the home the other evening. After the rosary, somehow the topic moved around to mention of Charismatic prayer groups. One person, a lady said something that made it sound as if Charismatic groups were a thing of the past – something out of the 1970’s or a little later. I jumped in to tell her that I thought she was wrong – that Charismatic prayer and groups are still very much in evidence. I mentioned my participation in this form of prayer and praise and worship back in the greater Denver area.

I told the rosary prayer group about a Charismatic priest whom I saw and listened to at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio last summer. He must have had three, four or more dozens of people (40 and as many as 60 folks) laid out on the floor (they call it ‘slain in the Spirit’) the evening that they held an open prayer service at Franciscan University. It was very powerful to see and to participate in. People were literally dropping like flies as the saying goes.
I don’t understand why it happens to some and not all. Back in Colorado, the pastor had me pray over people after weekend Masses one time. People lined up – it was quite a site to behold. But not one person dropped to the floor. I’m led to believe it’s a gift – a gift of the Holy Spirit. My faith doesn’t depend upon it happening to me… or my being able to be a conduit of that gift to others. Thanks be to God – the gift I have been given is an active faith.

And it is like the faith stories conveyed in today’s reading about Paul and Barnabus… a man looking intently at Paul – listening. Trying to evaluate whether he could put his (new or limited) faith in what Paul was saying. Now that is a gift that I do pray for. May the Holy Spirit be with me that when I talk to believers and non-believers… when I preach – that God will allow me to be a conduit of His Spirit… His most holy will… His Word. And could we all not wish for the same ‘gifts’ from God?

To my wife and children – let me be a conduit of your will, O Lord. To my neighbors and the community of faith where I worship – may they not see me but let them see some glimmer… some manifestation of You, dear Jesus. I’m so far from it now – but by this Act of Faith – let me assure You that I know you have the power to make it or let it happen.

Jesus – set my faith on fire…

Reading 1
Acts 14:5-18

There was an attempt in Iconium by both the Gentiles and the Jews, together with their leaders, to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas. They realized it, and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding countryside, where they continued to proclaim the Good News. At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, and called out in a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet." He jumped up and began to walk about. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in human form."  They called Barnabas "Zeus" and Paul "Hermes," because he was the chief speaker.

And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice. The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts." Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds
from offering sacrifice to them.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 115:1-2, 3-4, 15-16

R. (1ab) Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name give glory because of your mercy, because of your truth. Why should the pagans say,
"Where is their God?"
R. Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
Our God is in heaven; whatever he wills, he does. Their idols are silver and gold, the handiwork of men.
R. Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.
May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Heaven is the heaven of the LORD, but the earth he has given to the children of men.
R. Not to us, O Lord, but to your name give the glory.

Jn 14:21-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

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