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Reflections on Catholic Faith - September 2009 - This fall... this September, how about if we go back to the basics?

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September 28, 2009

The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Occurring over 150 times in the Bible, the word “Zion” essentially means “fortification.” In the Bible, Zion is both the city of David and the city of God. As the Bible progresses, the word “Zion” transitions from referring primarily to a physical city to having a more spiritual meaning. And from the thousands of religious groups and sects which lay claim to the word or the meaning of Zion -- one gets the impression that it is a state or place of restoration. A place where things are according to God’s plans. It is a place where God again is with His people and there is peace and joy.

In our reading from Zechariah today we find these words, “Old men and old women, each with staff in hand because of old age, shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem. The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.”

 There are two views of meaning that I postulate for us today...

One is that this is a place of new beginning... this Zion is the Church. It is the Church as founded by Jesus Christ. Zion happens when the bishop is present and he is surrounded by the priests and deacons and servers and they are offering the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In our worship, there is no division or problem Jesus gives Himself to us in Holy Communion and He offers Himself to the Father on our behalf.... I love this image of Zion -- a place and circumstance of new beginning. A place where there is happiness and the aged are restored.

The other thought that I have about an ‘earthly’ Zion is in the family as God intends family. Properly married man and woman, loving and self-serving to each other... children brought forth in holy welcome and appreciation. Family worshiping together... and young children coming forth for Holy Communion or a blessing depending upon their age. Children raised in holy  circumstances in such a way that there is respect and discipline and great praised given to the Lord. YHWY (The Lord God) is pleased and this is an early Zion. This image in my mind of Zion is modeled on St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin and the Child Jesus. How beautiful that family setting must have been.

Together -- let us pray for a new Zion in our lives. Even if we are old and our children are raised... let us pray for and lead others to a view of happiness in Christ. Happiness in God’s presence among us. Happiness in living as YHWY has planned from the beginning.


deacon tom

Reading 1
Zec 8:1-8

This word of the LORD of hosts came:
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
I am intensely jealous for Zion,
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:  Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.
I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23

R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R.        The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the Lord:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
R.        The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence.
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R.        The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Lk 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”
Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

September 21, 2009

In the Beginning and Later He Calls Us

The first time Jesus called me to do something was at my baptism. And if you were  born a cradle Catholic, it is likely you were called at your baptism as well. It is likely... more than likely that I was called again when I went to my first confession. And shortly after, when I was invited to a new life when I received my first Holy Communion. And again when I was confirmed. And at each of these events, Christ spoke to me according to my age and His plan.

Now, because of living in the world broken somewhat by the stain of Original Sin, Christ’s call isn’t answered in the way we are called to respond. Consider today’s Gospel reading, “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.” That’s how we are called to respond to Christ -- and because this is the Gospel - it demonstrates a perfect response to the call of Christ.

Vatican II invites... no, it calls all Christians to preach the Gospel to all peoples. Yet here I sit... in the midst of a civil community which mostly doesn’t know Christ, and which mostly doesn’t know about the Truth and Beauty of the Catholic faith...

But I am quite literally on fire for other work I’m doing. I love my work on the altar at liturgies. I love to proclaim the Gospel. I love to distribute Holy Communion. I love to visit the people institutionalized in an elder-care facility. It feels so right to be a part of a weekly hour of Adoration in support of pro-life causes. I love to do this work on the internet writing columns and doing a new podcast and a recorded reflection on a site called Catholic Moments.

There are those that act as if they are moved by some of my work. And the Lord seems to be reassuring me that this is an important work as well.

And in the reading for today: “And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith...”

Because the Bible speaks to us each and every day, these words tell me that there is a call each and every day for most of us. Some are called to  work to be the best (Catholic or Christian if some non-Catholic faith) parents they can be. Some are called to be stay-at-home moms. Some are home-bound prayer warriors -- thanks be to God and please pray for us that are still doing outside things. Some are called to do ‘saves’ by charitably and lovingly meeting women heading into abortion centers and asking them to consider life alternatives.

The thing is -- we are urged by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians to ‘live in a manner worthy of the call we have received.’

And so -- if I didn’t live up to my baptism or First Communion calls -- if I didn’t do the best job possible in my marriage call... thankfully, as Catherine Doherty says: with Christ, each day is a day of new beginning (or starting over). Let us not worry about what we did or didn’t do with the call in the beginning or the one when we were teens -- let us consider that this is the beginning. Christ calls us again... Christ calls us anew.

Blessings. Deacon Tom

Reading 1
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all,who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5)  Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R.        Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R.        Their message goes out through all the earth.

Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

While he was at table in his house,many tax collectors and sinners came

and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.

Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

September 14, 2009

Babies Under the Cross

My dear friends -  For this weekend past, I did a homily that addresses the topic of looking up to... and embracing the Cross. And so, I refer you to that homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Those words speak to where I was guided as I thought about the lack of understanding of the self-sacrificial love that Christ exhibited for us... and how we are called to imitate that in our daily lives... especially in our marriages and in our family lives.

And so for today - as I pick up on this month’s theme of Going Back to the Basics -- let me call your attention to last Monday’s reflection which conveyed a verse from Psalm 139 in which the psalmist tells us that God saw us in the darkness of the womb before we were formed.. He knows all of our days and all of our thoughts and actions. And we will be accountable for them. Yes... accountability - a part of going back to the basics... Here are words from the late Henry Hyde, congressman from Illinois.

“When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that terrible moment of judgment, I’ve often thought, as (the late Archbishop) Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness... you are alone... standing before God, and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and very loudly in the next world; and I think they will plead for everyone who has been in the movement.

They will say to God, “Spare them because they loved us.” And God will look at us and say not, “Did you succeed?” but He will ask, “Did you try?”

Dear friends -- today I lift high the cross on which our Savior died... and I wonder if perhaps the greatest pain He experienced was the pain of seeing millions upon millions of little ones who couldn’t live to come to the potential that His Father had planned for them.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this -- but some time... perhaps in front of an abortion clinic.. or at the national Right to Life march in Washington, D. C. -- I hope someone lifts high the cross to request the power of Damascus over those who have taken the lives of the little ones... the ones who would become doctors who would have found the cure for cancer. Perhaps my brother Eddie would still be alive.... you would have loved Eddie... a great caring person ... a piano player who loved to entertain others. Just a few babies saved might have helped keep Eddie from death... or perhaps your loved one.

Let’s go back to before Rowe v. Wade. Let’s go back to the basics.

September 7, 2009

Back to the Basics

Well -- here we are -- fourth year started at the Deacon Tom website. I want to especially thank dear friend... our family friend Susan (Sue) Laurent. Over three years ago - she volunteered to help Deacon Tom put some homilies on-line. This was thought to be a good idea because we lived in a summer tourist area at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park. We had thousands of visitors to our Estes Park, Colorado parish. Many folks, swept up in the beauty of that area and enjoying vacations and sometimes holy experiences -- they often asked for copies of homilies. So Sue volunteered -- little did she guess this would become a retirement project. Or so it’s seeming. I’ve been looking for a way to give her a break or find new help. It hasn’t worked out yet. May the Lord bless Sue and her husband Scott and their children. Thank you. We love you. And you’ve heard it a couple dozen times -- we pray for you all.

My first month in 2006, I started writing reflections -- short homilies used in Monday morning Communion Services at the parish -- I started on the theme of Psalm 139 -- my all-time favorite of the Psalms. It is a basic text for me -- a spiritual philosophy that establishes a right-mindset for my relationship with the Lord.
“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works. My very self you knew – my bones were not hidden from you. When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.”

The Lord did form us. His holy will was necessary for me to be implanted in my late mom’s womb. And though I struggle with sin and image issues - He only makes good things and He sees the good that I do. Every hour... every day... the words formed by my typing fingers even now: He knew them all and He loves me. And He loves you.

This month -- I want to go back to the basics. I am... you are God’s plan. We couldn’t exist for a nanosecond were it not for His holy will and permission. And there must be a reason for this continuing in our lives. What does the Lord want from me? What does the Lord whisper to you? Let’s take the month and go back to the basics.

I’m going to go to Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament this week. And speaking of -- we started a new website. It’s found at www.catholicvitamins.com   We are starting a podcast and a new blog. The first podcast is a program you can listen to on your computer or on a portable listening device such as a Ipod. The first show is about Adoration. I can’t think of a better place to go and sit quietly and say to Him: Lord -- take me back to the basics. Help me to repent of all my ‘growth.’ Help wash me in my own tears and cleanse me. Sprinkle me with water and tears from hyssop branches. Make me clean again... and let me start Baptismal fresh... starting with the basics.

Who made me? God made me (through the act of cooperation by my parents).

Why did He make me? He made me to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and to be happy with Him forever in eternity.

Do I know Him? Do I love Him? I mean really love Him? Am I serving Him? These are the basics I will try to contemplate this week. Please journey with me. Pray with me. PRAY for me as I will for you.


Deacon Tom

Reading 1
Col 1:24–2:3

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is he whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you
and for those in Laodicea
and all who have not seen me face to face,
that their hearts may be encouraged
as they are brought together in love,
to have all the richness of assured understanding,
for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 62:6-7, 9

R. (8) In God is my safety and my glory.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
R.        In God is my safety and my glory.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!
R.        In God is my safety and my glory.


Lk 6:6-11
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
© 2006-2009 Deacon Tom Online

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