Archive for January 2009


January 31, 2009

The Super Bowl is tomorrow.  I enjoy football as much as the next man.  Yet, as I reflect upon the role of sports in our society and through much of the world, I believe that it has become excessive and unbalanced.  Today, we see sports even getting in the way of Sunday Mass and Church activities.  It seems to me that entirely too much attention is given to sports.  What does the Sacred Scriptures teach us?  How would Jesus react?  What has your experience been?  What do you think about the place of sports in a Catholic home?


Sunday’s Gospel — Mark 1:21-28

January 31, 2009

Fr Leo’s post below reminded me that the parish restructuring announcement at Mass tomorrow could be a source of anxiety for people.  I’m guessing that for some, the anticipation of this announcement will be so distracting that their minds may tend to wander during the readings from Sacred Scripture.  In an effort to hinder any such distraction on my part, I decided to do a little extra preparation on Sunday’s Gospel.


Following a discussion of the power of the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, and the resulting “divine superabundance” of spiritual power, Romano Guardini, in his masterwork on the life of Christ entitled “The Lord,” introduces us to Sunday’s Gospel:

What a privilege it must have been to see the Lord in that early period of abundance when he carried holiness into the crowds.  How straightly he spoke to the souls of men!  Pressed forward by the élan of the Spirit, he reached out to people with both hands.  The rush of the Holy Spirit swept the kingdom of God forward, and the human spirit, shaken by the force that demands entry, felt it beat against the door.  The accounts of these first events are vibrant with spiritual power.  Thus from Mark:  “And they were astonished at his teaching; for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes” (1:21-22).  They were “astonished,” literally shaken out of themselves.  Such was the divine power that poured from his words.  Jesus’ sentences were not merely correct and pointed as were those of the Scribes, they were the words of one “having authority.”  His speech stirred; it tore the spirit from its security, the heart from its rest; it commanded and created.  It was impossible to hear and ignore.


I imagine that those gathered in the synagogue were engrossed in Jesus’ words.  Though I won’t be hearing the actual human voice of Jesus, and will be in a different setting, I hope to be equally captivated as our Scriptures are read on Sunday.


In “To Know Christ Jesus,” Frank Sheed comments about the process by which Jesus casts out demons:

It is fascinating to compare the speed and almost casualness of his exorcisms with the form prescribed in the Church – which occupies thirty pages of the Rituale Romanum.


Though I’m not demonically possessed, I have plenty of little ‘demons’ that need to be driven out of me:  self-focus and (sometimes extreme) self-centeredness; laziness, often fueled by my craving for comfort; negativity towards others; …I could go on and on.  I want the words of Sunday’s Gospel to sear my heart.  I want the authority of the Word of God to drive out those little demons.  And to keep them out, I will receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, his Eucharistic Presence.  Then, sanctifying grace and the power of the Holy Spirit will be there to help prevent those little demons from gaining entry to my heart.

An important Sunday in our diocese

January 30, 2009

Let’s keep Bishop Joseph Martino, all our Pastors, and the Diocese of Scranton in our prayers as we enter into this time of transition and restructuring.  We pray for God’s peace and good order, and that all things will be done in gentle charity.  This Sunday we will hear of the decisions concerning our parishes and life together in Christ.  May we embrace them in faith and trust of God’s providence.

The new environmentalism

January 29, 2009

Last Sunday at Mass I saw a t-shirt with the expression “I am a tree hugger.”  I told the young man wearing it that I was too!  But I embrace the tree of life, the Cross of Christ.

One body, many members

January 28, 2009

Aimee Cooper points out some interesting aspects about Catholic spirituality in this post yesterday on her blog.  As I reflected on her statements, I thought about the variety of Catholic men that will be responding to our invitations to join men’s groups.  These men will be at many different levels of Catholic formation, maturity and spirituality.  That may present some challenges as we meet in our groups and strive to deepen our relationships and gain each other’s trust.  In humility, each of us will just be a beggar trying to help other beggars find some bread.  But, as the initiators of these groups, do you think that the men who join will be looking at us as models to some extent?  Will that be uncomfortable?  Some of the men who join our groups may be far holier and more knowledgeable in the faith than are we.  Will we be comfortable with that?  These are just some questions that popped into my mind.  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.

The Angelic Doctor

January 28, 2009

Today the Church remembers St. Thomas Aquinas (1225—1274) Thomas was a Dominican Priest and is considered by many the greatest theologian and thinker in the history of the Church. He placed his intellect and gifts at the service of the gospel of Christ.  Thomas Aquinas was a prolific writer, known especially for his SUMMA THEOLOGIAE.  Near the end of his life, he attempted to burn all of his writings.  When asked why, he recounted that he had a vision of the crucified Christ who said to him:  “You have written well of me Thomas.”  But Thomas said: “All that I have written is as straw.”

Helping me to contemplate the face of Christ

January 27, 2009

Judy Bayer is an Icon Painter!  Along with her husband Frank [former Philadelphia policeman and US Marine] Judy has been a dear friend, and has come for confession and spiritual direction for a long time.  For Christmas this year, she painted [“wrote”] an icon of Christ, the Teacher.  In the spiritual tradition of the East icons are seen as windows into heaven.  Jesus, Himself, is seen as the Icon [image, in Greek] of God the Father.  Jesus said: “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  This icon is already speaking to me and calling me to sit at the feet of Christ, the Teacher.  Jesus was called Rabbi during his earthly life, and He continues to speak and form our minds and our hearts.