Holy Week begins

Next Sunday is the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here. The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website.

The climactic events that have been repeatedly predicted since the Galilean ministry are now about to unfold (12:38–40; 16:4, 21; 17:12, 22–23; 20:17–19; 21:38–39; 23:32). Jesus was aware of the forces arrayed against him (26:2), yet he did not resist doing the will of the Father despite the suffering that would be involved (26:36–46). Ironically, the very religious leaders who opposed and sought to destroy Jesus were the unwitting instruments God used to fulfill his plan to exalt Jesus. Continue reading

Generosity

Perhaps you’ve heard one of Jesus’ well-known teachings about trusting in God’s generosity: “Look at the ravens, they don’t sow seed… or have barns, yet God feeds them. How much more valuable you are to God than birds”! Some people hear these words and feel comfort in God’s love. Others think immediately of the dead bird they saw the other day on the side of the road and wonder how that fits into Jesus’ picture of divine generosity! Continue reading

When the confessional is unavailable…

Here in Tampa, our city and county program is called “Safer at Home.” Kudos to the one(s) who came up with the name. That gave me an inspired thought. I think we should announce a “Forgiven at Home” ministry for Catholics and Catholic families.  To be fair, almost every diocese has published the guidelines from the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, confirmed by the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Continue reading

As Tears Fall

#AloneTogether. #SocialDistancing. #StayAtHome – these are just some of the many “hashtags” being used online in the various text messaging applications currently in vogue. It is the year 2020 and here on the 5th Sunday in Lent much of the world is “sheltering in place” in order to slow the spread of a coronavirus, Covid-19. On Thursday morning there were 471,802 cases worldwide – but then that is a count of test-confirmed cases. A day later the count surpassed 500,000.

The vast majority of people are not able to be tested, so no one really knows how many people are infected. And so, we keep apart from others in an attempt to hamper the mobility and spread of the disease; as they say, to “flatten the curve.” Non-essential businesses are closed with the lucky ones able to work from home. Schools are closed and teachers across the nation are scrambling to implement online classes. Unemployment claims are skyrocketing as people are furloughed or laid off without warning, savings are draining away as families helplessly watch, and countless numbers, without medical insurance, pray they don’t experience the worst of the disease. Families worry about their loved ones in assisted-care facilities or nursing homes – family elders in quarantine whom they are unable to visit. And people are dying while family and friends mourn their dead without the dignity of a funeral. The world weeps. Continue reading

After all these years…

Arising early on Sunday morning, I prayed the Divine Office, sat for a bit in the church before the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior (there are advantages of living in a friary attached to the church), shaved (hadn’t done that in a few days, although you’d barely notice), and sat down to read the Tampa Bay Times, our local newspaper (digital version). Continue reading

The power of habits – part 2

In last week’s column, I was suggesting that we humans under appreciate the impact and power of habits – good and bad. The previous column, paralleling Stephen’ Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” began to explore the habits of the heart for committed Christians. The premise was that we humans are not fundamentally thinking creatures, or believing creatures, but desiring creatures. Thinking and believing are key and essential parts of who we are, but what pushes and pulls us has more to do with what captures our desires, our affections — our hearts. Our identity as persons is shaped by what we ultimately love or what we love as ultimate. It is the heart that needs formation in the Christian life. I then began to list some habits for forming a loving heart. The first three habits were: Continue reading

Born Catholic

Mary Flannery O’Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist. She wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer who often wrote in what is known as a Southern Gothic style. Her writing reflected her Roman Catholic faith and frequently examined questions of faith, morality and ethics. In a letter to her friend Elizabeth Hester she wrote:

Then another thing, what one has as a born Catholic is something given and accepted before it is experienced. I am only slowly coming to experience things that I have all along accepted.

Good words. May we be intentional, mindful, grateful, curious, and persevere in the Faith we received as our experience grows.

Sitting Quietly in a Room Alone

The following is an article from Bishop Robert Barron (March 17, 2020)

Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” The great seventeenth-century philosopher thought that most of us, most of the time, distract ourselves from what truly matters through a series of divertissements (diversions). He was speaking from experience. Though one of the brightest men of his age and one of the pioneers of the modern physical sciences and of computer technology, Pascal frittered away a good deal of his time through gambling and other trivial pursuits. In a way, he knew, such diversions are understandable, since the great questions—Does God exist? Why am I here? Is there life after death?—are indeed overwhelming. But if we are to live in a serious and integrated way, they must be confronted—and this is why, if we want our most fundamental problems to be resolved, we must be willing to spend time in a room alone. Continue reading