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Monday Musing or Monday Confusing?

I forgot to post a Monday Musing today! I was sick on Saturday and slept most of the day. It did occur to me on Sunday that I needed to do this, but it did not happen. This morning- well I did not think about it as it is usually done! What is wrong with me? I am confused!

In any case, I came to work and found this beautiful picture from Father Jerry – it is the chapel where he is living in Rome, at Casa O’Toole.

Thus our confusing musing is simply this photo!


BONUS EDITION – Saturday Song and More, The St. Thomas Aquinas Edition

St. Thomas Aquinas

Somehow I completely did not connect that today was the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas. Now I am not sure why, because I have been well aware that the day has been coming. Not the least of which was because of reading my friend Todd’s blog, Catholic Sensibility. (He has been making a novena to St. Thomas, his patron.)

St. Thomas Aquinas had an interesting life. He was born in 1225 to a noble family. Thomas wanted to enter religious life, but his parents were duly horrified, so they did what any good family of the 13th century would do… well not exactly. They took their son and apparently had him locked in a castle in southern Italy. This did not do any good and eventually they relented and off he went to the Dominican order. This is an interesting choice given that he was educated by Benedictines at Monte Cassino. However, he chose the relatively new Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.

Thomas was very large and very quiet as he studied in Cologne; thus he became known as the “Dumb Ox.” It was in Cologne that he studied under another great Dominican saint, Albert the Great, aka, Albertus Magnus. St. Albert knew that Thomas had much to offer the world.  Thomas later became known as “the Angelic Doctor,” a more apt appellation. Today he is revered for his work, in particular, his Summa Theologica, his vast work that was a synthesis of Aristotle’s philosophy and Christian doctrine.

The image above reminds us that joy is essential to the Christian life!

It is said that Aquinas wrote about The Song of Solomon, but no such work is extant. In later life he had a mystical experience that caused him to say this… “All that I have written seems to me like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me.”

Aquinas is often quoted and pointed to in support of very orthodox viewpoints. I always have to think that his words, heard in the chant of Tantum Ergo:

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui
Et antiquum documentum
novo cedat ritui
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. A-men
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor blessing,
Might and endless majesty.

Newer rites of grace prevail… God is always making a new thing. Thomas, as theologian and philosopher knew this – we cannot go backward.

Saturday Song

I should have posted this last week, it goes with that Gospel! But it goes with every Gospel doesn’t it? The essence of our life as Catholic Christians is turning ourselves over to God, following Jesus always. We must always follow the Call of Christ!


Father Jerry Travels to Rome (#FJIR – more about what that means in the post!)

Father Jerry has made it to Rome. Apparently it is about 62 degrees and sunny… not so here! He can see the Vatican from his room! For the next three months he will be on sabbatical. Father will be attending The Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College and he will be there until May. His time will also include a side trip to the Holy Land – what an experience!

I am posting this video about the sabbatical program. It is a little long, but it gives us a feel for where he is and what he is doing. In the meantime, I have started a Twitter hashtag that I will use for updates about Father Jerry on Twitter. (We have a parish twitter feed @ImmacConcGlenv, so if you are on Twitter, follow us.) The hashtag is #FJIR, for Father Jerry in Rome.  A word about Twitter, until recently, even I – the social media person that I am – disliked it and misunderstood it. I can say this – if you just want to sign up to follow the parish and keep up with Father, then do so. Don’t stress about having to understand too much or having to tweet. Just a thought – and all are welcome there and at our parish Facebook page as well.

Please remember to keep Father Jerry in your prayers and know that he has brought all of our intentions to Rome with him.  Feel free to leave comments for him here and I will make sure that he gets to see them!

Back to work – ciao!

A Preview of the ICTE Program from North American College on Vimeo.

The Conversion of St. Paul

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St. Paul… From persecutor to apostle. It is an amazing story of faith and many words have been written about it. I consider St. Paul a patron of mine for many reasons. Not the least of which is because I am convinced that he would be a blogger and social networker if those tools were available to him during his life. I am no St. Paul, but I do live to spread the Gospel via social media.

Back to our story, this being Christianity – this being Catholic Christianity – the story is universal. We are all Saul, we all can be Paul.

How have you been blinded? Knocked down? Turned? How to you preach? Live? Pray?

Monday Musing – εὐθὺς and Other Matters…


εὐθὺς! I know – what’s εὐθὺς?

Sorry, I had to throw that in. You must admit, it is eye-catching, isn’t?!  You might already know, it is Greek and it is Greek for immediately.

On Sunday we heard this:

Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

But there are many translations of Mark that use the word, εὐθὺς , in this context:

Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they [εὐθὺς] abandoned their nets and followed him.

Immediately. Straightaway. Full stop.

Peter Avvento’s reflection at all the masses this weekend, pointed to this. He was very clear about the immediate nature of the here and now. I’m not surprised; As you might know, I work at Immaculate Conception in Glenville, but St. Edward’s is my home parish.  He was here to talk about stewardship and this Gospel is very much about that. He pointed to this notion of right away. He was very clear about the immediate nature of the here and now. I’m not surprised; Peter is a scholar with an Doctor of Sacred Theology degree, from the Accademia Alfonsiana (Special Moral Institute) of the Pontifical Lateran University, and an STB from the Gregorian University in Rome and he probably knows Greek.

I bring all of this up because of Peter’s talk and of course, the Gospel. How do any of us do this?

Yes, we are involved in a process; our faith is relational. It takes time. However, we either decide to enter the journey or we do not. And entering that journey, in our Catholic tradition, is not about God and me alone. No – it is about everybody. Yes – everybody. I know – how annoying.

The call to follow Jesus requires a kind of immediacy. “Yes Jesus -I’m in. Now!”

Whether it is Jonah, or any other prophet who did not really feel like prophet-ing, the call requires us to get-up-and-go.  Frankly – who has the energy? Is it not enough that I showed up for mass?

OK, I’m being sarcastic, but I think you might know what I mean.

None of us can do this easily. Comfort and convenience reign, especially against the backdrop of exhaustion and ennui. And the cold days.

Yet the call is present and persistent. We are in a relationship and a process. But like any relationship, we must keep at it. And not just God and me, but you and me. Immediately. Now. Straightaway.

That is the call to the Gospel! εὐθὺς! Now!


A word about stewardship… If you are already involved in a ministry, thank you. If you are not but have thought about it, please think about the εὐθὺς of Jesus’ call. It doesn’t have to take up all your time, just what you can, when you can. All kinds of options are available and please know, you are needed!

Saturday Song

Today I am a movie trailer instead of a song. All week long I was obsessed with posting a particular scene from this film, which is set to the music from Swan Lake, but alas, I could not find that clip!

The movie is Of Gods and Men. This movie is, hands down, one of the best movies that I have ever seen. Based on the book, The Monks of Tibhirine, it is the story of a group of French Trappists who are living in Algeria. The story unfolds under the backdrop of Algerian unrest, an early chapter of Islamic extremism during the 90’s. This is all based on a true story.

So the book and the movie are both highly recommended.

Being Who You Are

“Being holy simply means being who you are.” – James Martin, SJ

Father James Martin, SJ is a favorite author of mine; I can’t wait to finally meet him in person in May when he is the keynote speaker at Spring Enrichment.

I love this quotation from him because it reminds me that we are all called by name by God. God has loved us into being and I believe that our faith journey in Christ is to become that person that God has loved into being. So being holy must mean that we must be who we are.

So simple. Yet not, at times. For me – most times.

What do you think? What does being holy mean to you? Do you think it means being who you are?

Monday Musing

Did you hear or see the readings for today? Wow, I am not even sure where to begin and I can only wish I had spent more time in the prior days giving this deeper thought and reflection.

From the first reading, from Samuel:

“Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission than the fat of rams.

Well, that is food for thought now, isn’t it?

Obedience is more important than sacrifice. I have come to understand this to say that both things are important, but one without the other is meaningless. And the emphasis is on obedience here might tell us that obedience is the inner quality. As a result, obedience is foundational; without it, sacrifice is meaningless and even offensive to God.

It is important to remember however – both are important!

The Gospel gives us these words from Mark, that Jesus said:

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
but your disciples do not fast?”

Yeah… why aren’t those disciples holy enough?! Why aren’t they fasting? Jesus has a reply for that…

“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

The relationship between obedience and sacrifice is revealed here. We are to pay attention and we must know, from being obedient, to know when to fast or not fast.  This makes me think of a quotation from St. Teresa of Avila that says something to the effect of, “there is a time for porridge and there is a time for partridge!”

If you are a regular reader, you might know that I had an editorial essay in this week’s Evangelist. I wrote about it here, or you can just read the essay itself at the Evangelist website by clicking here.  For all the things I have had published in the Evangelist, this one has earned me the most feedback in a short period of time! The majority of that feedback has been positive and I am grateful for that.

That said – I have heard some other kinds of feedback. There is a concern that I am essentially saying that it is OK to just show up at church once a year and receive the Eucharist, without regard for the rules.

That is not what I was saying. I was suggesting that people who might come to mass once a year or twice or year, or whenever they felt like it. I was asked if I thought it was not a mortal sin to attend Sunday mass and if I was making up my own rules.

The Code of Canon Law 1247 states:

On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Yes, we are obliged to attend mass and in the absence of such an act, we are also obliged to present ourselves to a priest for confession.

The same thing would apply if a person who was away from the Church, like I was, for example, and if that person returned to communion without suitable confession. I do understand this and was not suggesting anything otherwise.

I was also saying that it is difficult to hear and understand being in a state of mortal sin when we miss mass, given the state of the world. I was not saying that it was not a mortal sin.

So this diversion, a significant and important one, leads me back to our readings for today. Obedience and sacrifice are both in order.

Obedience is born out of a deep listening and responding to God’s call. Sacrifice is elemental to this. Obedience without sacrifice is as meaningless as sacrifice without obedience.

In the end, is it better for us to split hairs or is it more important to invite people in and have them grow in obedience and sacrifice? These things all seem to happen in community, so none of us can do that alone.

Saturday Bonus – Who Are We Eating With?

The following is the text of an essay that I wrote in The Evangelist this week. In a rare moment of non-self promotion, I had not put it on the blog on Thursday when it was published. Even though today we usually just have our Saturday Song, posted below, I decided to put it up as a bonus post, in light of today’s Gospel from Mark.

In the two days since this was published, I have gotten a fair amount of feedback about the essay. That feedback has been largely complimentary. Yet more than one person Continue reading


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