Archive for February 2009

The Stations of the Cross

February 27, 2009

Stations of the Cross are one of the most meaningful and profoundly beautiful prayers of the Church.  These fourteen stations help us to enter into the suffering and sacrifice of Christ.  Through this prayer we can come to a deeper understanding of the Eucharist and all that Jesus Christ has done for us.  Bring your family to Stations [only last about ½ an hour].  Bring another man with you, it is a way to evangelize and reach out.


A time of humility

February 26, 2009

The season of Lent is a time of humility.  The word humble has it’s root in the same word as humus [of the earth].  “Remember, O man thou art dust [of the earth].  It is a time to remember who we are.  Our identity is rooted in the earth.  We are created!  God is our Creator!  He has formed us from the earth and put His own spirit [breath, life] in us.


February 25, 2009

           The Gospel read at Mass last Sunday was taken from the Gospel of Mark and it concerned the curing of a paralytic. The part of the Gospel that caught my attention are the verses “And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they made an opening they set down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.” Mark 2:3-4

           Who were the four men and what relationship did they have with each other and with the paralytic man? It seems unlikely that the four plus one were a random group. It would not be unreasonable to conclude that these men were friends. Perhaps the paralytic man had been injured in an accident while working with them. The four men who carried their friend to Jesus certainly loved their friend. The boldness of the “band of brothers” who made extraordinary efforts to bring their friend to Christ shows their faith in Christ, and their faith moves Jesus to forgive the man’s sins and to heal his paralysis.

            This is a concrete example of fellowship and underscores one of the prime purposes of the Catholic Men’s Fellowship movement. When we talk about fellowship we are using an English word translating the New Testament word “koinonia”, an incredibly rich word.  Koinonia can be translated as unity, communion, solidarity, participation, or friendship. The Latin word for fellowship is “communion” which is the word we use to describe our reception of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ at Mass under the appearance of bread and wine.

              What we Catholics need to understand is that the desire for fellowship with God cannot stop there. God wants our relationships in our families, parishes, and ecclesial groups to reflect the depth of relationship signified by the word “koinonia”. We also learn from the story of the paralytic man that God intends for his sons and daughters to help one another to receive the healing and blessings that God wants to bestow upon us.

                The commentary to the Navarre translation of St. Mark’s Gospel quotes St. Jerome’s commentary on the passage. In the paralytic man’s physical paralysis St. Jerome sees a type or figure of spiritual paralysis: the cripple was unable to return to God by his own efforts. Through the help of his friends Jesus cured the man of both types of paralysis.

                 There are many men we come into contact with in our ordinary lives who are suffering from a spiritual paralysis. The causes of the paralysis could include pornography, alcoholism, same sex attraction disorder, financial distress, troubled marriages, an aborted child, or alienation from family members. Many of these men probably would not go to a priest on their own accord to seek forgiveness and healing. But if we are their friends we should be willing to make great efforts to bring them to Christ for forgiveness and healing.

                 The liturgical season of Lent is always a time special grace and we should take advantage of the graces for ourselves, our families, and our friends. This Lent I encourage the Guardians to pray for the conversion and healing of their friends and family and other Catholic men in their parish.

                  The National Fellowship of Catholic Men is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Catholic Men’s National Day of Prayer on March 19th, 2009. However, the intercessions could be made every day of Lent. We should pray:

  • For every man to heed Christ’s call to personal conversion
  • For every man to become a transformed disciple of Jesus
  • For every Catholic man to fully acknowledge his vocational state of life calling
  • For every married man to love his wife and children as Christ loved the Church
  • For every ordained and religious man to serve Christ and His Church in accord with his specific vocation
  • For every man to embrace, proclaim, and exemplify the truth of the Gospel in his home, parish, workplace, and community.

                   In addition to fervent prayer, the Guardians should come to the Holy Hour for Men on March 14, 2009 at St. Joseph’s Oblate Seminary in Pittston. The Holy Hour also presents and outstanding opportunity for us to bring our fathers, sons, brothers, and male friends to the Risen Lord who will be there substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus will be waiting and desiring to heal and to forgive the sins of all those with the faith to come so we can be reconciled to the Father and with one another.


Ash Wednesday: Lent 2009 begins

February 25, 2009

Today, Ash Wednesday, we hear the words: “Remember, O man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shall return.”  It is a summons to remember our mortality.  At another place in the Scriptures, we hear: “Teach me O Lord to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart. (Psalm 90:12)”  As a Priest, I have been involved with many people who have died, both old and young.  It comes as Jesus warned: “like a thief in the night.”  A few nights ago, I was called out at 2:00 a.m. and had the graced opportunity to pray with a dying man and his family.  This season of Lent is like a long vigil for us to prepare for the coming of Jesus.  It is a time of purification and growth in trust and faith.  As the old man Simeon said when he held the child Jesus in his arms: “now Master you can dismiss your servant in peace, you have fulfilled your word…”  Let us, like Simeon, embrace Christ!

Preparing for Lent — Part 2

February 24, 2009

A few years ago, Fr Mark Kirby provided this appropriately challenging description of Lent in this post on his blog:

Lent is supposed to be unsettling. Lent is supposed to disrupt our routines. Lent is about entering into another rhythm of life, a rhythm different from the one by which we ordinarily organize our lives. The unwillingness to be disturbed, to make a change, even a very little one, in what has become customary reveals an underlying resistance to the grace of conversion. Newman speaks of indolence. Indolence is a state of sluggishness; it is the habit of seeking to avoid exertion. The indolent person says, “I am quite comfortable with things as they are, thank you. I have neither the desire nor the need to change my routines, to displace myself, or to do anything differently from the way I have always done it.” Indolence is incompatible with Lent.


The opposite of indolence is alacrity — a very Benedictine virtue — an eager willingness to get up and get moving. The dictionary defines alacrity as a “cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness.” When Saint Benedict treats of Lenten penances in Chapter Forty-Nine of the Rule, he says that they are to be offered “spontaneously in the joy of the Holy Spirit.” There is in this something of the quickfooted and swift obedience of Chapter Five, an obedience that brooks no delays.


I find it helpful to recall Fr Mark’s teaching just prior to the beginning of each Lent.  It adds to the seriousness with which I approach Lent.  It rocks me out of being complacent about taking time to prepare for Lent.  Since my tendency is always toward ‘comfort,’ it nudges me to get ready to embrace the “unsettling” and “disruptive” aspects of Lent.

Preparing for Lent

February 24, 2009

Tomorrow, ASH WEDNESDAY, begins the holy season of LENT. As we receive the ashes on our forehead we will hear one of two formulas from the Church [“Remember O man that thou art dust and to dust thou shall return” or “Repent and believe in the good news”]. For the forty days of Lent the Church invites us to re-pentance.  The word repentance has as its root re-pensare — that is, to re-think or re-look at our life.  In the Old Testament we are told “not as man sees does God see…but God looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)”  We are invited to see our life from God’s perspective.  First of all that is in a context of unconditional love and mercy.  God is calling us to allow Him to continue His work within us.  As we begin this holy season in preparation for the paschal mystery of the dying and rising of Christ, let us be awake to the grace of God and the movement of the His Spirit.


It is an ancient custom of the Church to fast [as well as pray and give alms] during Lent.  I do not find it easy to fast.  Still, the ancient custom of the Church is to fast on Wednesday and Friday.  Even if we just pass up one meal [health allowing] or have bread and water for one or two meals…let us try something!  Perhaps the fasting on TV is more important.  Fasting gives us mastery over our body and places it under the order of God.  Fasting was the subject of Pope Benedict’s Message for Lent this year.

As the economy continues to decline

February 23, 2009

“Like a building ready to collapse” are words that have been spoken about our economy.  It is a time to remember the teachings of Jesus concerning money and wealth.  “Where your treasure is there your heart will be.”  Again, we hear in the Psalms: “Put not your trust in riches…”  In the Sacred Scriptures the “poor of YHWH” — in Hebrew called the “Anawim” — are those who place their future in God’s hand and trust in him.  A few months ago, Pope Benedict pointed us to the correct way of thinking:

He who builds on sand only builds on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will vanish. We can see this now with the fall of two large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. Who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism.