Shhh! God’s Talking to Me

Child and Shhh!There is a story of a king who visits a spiritual master. The busy king, had the responsibilities of running the kingdom and the well-being of all his subjects, still he desired to be united with God. The king asks the spiritual master to give him the secret of being united with God in a simple, practical way. The spiritual master said: “I will give you the secret in one word.” The king impatiently said: “Give me that word!’ The spiritual master said: “Silence.” The king asked: “And how could I get silence?” The spiritual master said: “Contemplation”. The king asked: “What is contemplation?” The spiritual master said: “Silence.”

All the great spiritual mystics and saints throughout the ages agree upon one thing, that is: any way to God HAS TO BE a way through SILENCE. If you want to come into COMMUNION with God you MUST pass through silence.

When Elijah went up the mountain and sought God he thought God would be in the strong and rock crushing wind, or in the mighty earthquake, or in the ferocious fire. The Lord did come to Elijah in neither of those ways. The Lord God spoke to Elijah in a tiny whispering sound.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus went off by himself on a regular basis to be alone in prayer. That’s when He could communicate one-on-one with His Father.

Contemplative prayer is a prayer of silence. Silence means “going beyond words and thoughts.” Contemplative prayer, then, is “going beyond words and thoughts” to experiencing the presence of God. It is “sitting with God.” And, in “sitting” words are unnecessary. Still, in “sitting”, you may hear God speak to your heart.

Picture an elderly couple, who are married over fifty years, sitting contently in silence on the front porch of their home. No words are exchanged, but much communication is going on. Basking in each other’s presence speaks volumes! We are to have such a loving relationship with our God.

Indeed, our Catholic Catechism says this: “Prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father.” CCC #2565

St. Therese of Lisieux said this: “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look toward heaven.”

In our prayer life, I’m sure all of us have said a multitude of words to God – almost as if we have to inform the Almighty how to run the world, or at least our lives. Yet, when you think of it, who has more profound things to say in our communication with God? Us to God? Or, God to us?

If you want to hear God’s voice enter into silence.

Fr. Dave

Rest in the Lord!

I’ve been there. You have, too.Jesus embracing child

You have too much on your plate – and feel overwhelmed.
I have felt the same.

You face impossible problems – and feel hopeless.
I’ve experienced the same.

You’ve experienced setbacks, disappointments, discouragements
– and are exhausted. Me, too.

You have been weary and heavy-laden, and so have I.

The question is: what do we do about it?

Some say: “That’s just how life is. After all, our society is a rat race.” Well, if we are all in a rat race, then just when you thought you were getting ahead, along may come faster rats. There is no rest. But remember this, whoever finally wins the rat race is still a rat!

Jesus wants more for us. He tells us: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

If all we needed was physical rest we can always take a nap. If we needed emotional rest, we can take a vacation. But how can we obtain relief regarding the deepest issues of life at the deepest level of our hearts?

Jesus said “Come to me.” Our Lord regularly invited people to come to Him to meet their needs. He still invites you and me. But we really have to come to Him – and on HIS terms.

Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Being yoked to Jesus tells us three things:

Connection “Be with Me.” Yokes are made for two, not one. We were not meant to go through life living apart from God. His yoke fits well and is lighter than the one we’ve been pulling by ourselves. Be connected to Jesus! Live by His commands.
Direction “Follow Me.” The idea of a yoke pictures the forward motion of two connected together. You cannot be yoked to Jesus and go your own way anymore. We follow Him and His direction for our life. Follow Jesus! Live by His commands.
Cooperation “Work with Me.” To be yoked together means that we cooperate with His work. We are to cooperate in His work of building His Kingdom. To do this we must live by His values so as to spread His values. We are to live by His commands.

The kind of rest Jesus gives is the rest that we really need, and it only comes as the result of obeying His commands. The rest we need comes with obedience to Jesus.

Our Lord invites us to rest in Him. It will be good for those who do.

Fr. Dave

The Body and Blood of Christ

Let’s take a quiz: Which one of the following statements is true?Body and Blood of Christ

1. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass symbolizes the spirit and teachings of Jesus.

2. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real presence of Jesus only during Mass.

3. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real Body and Blood of Jesus if you believe it is so.

4. The consecrated bread and wine at Mass is the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and we can adore and worship the consecrated host and wine as our God.

Before you answer, here are a couple of hints:
1. The Catholic Church has always taken the words of Jesus literally when He said “Take and eat; this is my body… All of you must drink from (the cup) for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:26-28) And, when Jesus said: “I am the Bread of Life … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (Jn 6:48-53).

2. Our Catholic Catechism states: C 1374 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist is “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”

The correct answer to the above quiz is, of course, #4.

From the earliest days of the Church the Holy Eucharist was believed to be the real Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the moment of consecration during Mass the bread and wine miraculously transform into the Body and Blood of our Savior. And the elements will never be just bread and wine again. That’s why extra care is taken to cleanse the paten and chalice after communion. That’s why we place the remaining consecrated hosts securely in the tabernacle. That’s why we can come before the Lord hidden within the tabernacle and really be in the presence of Jesus our Lord and God. That’s why we can adore our Lord in the Eucharist during Eucharistic Adoration.

According to Jesus, receiving Him in the Eucharist is not an option. Our Lord tells us clearly: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jesus is telling us: without Holy Communion we will starve and die spiritually.

The feast of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ) was established in 1264 by Pope Urban IV to emphasize the importance of what we are called to do every week, that is, to celebrate Holy Mass, professing our belief in the Holy Eucharist, and to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. The Pope asked St. Thomas Aquinas to write hymns for the feast. Aquinas wrote the Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris – hymns we still sing at Eucharistic Adoration.

Jesus promised his disciples that he would be present to them until the end of time. Our Lord is faithful to His promise by His real presence in the Holy Eucharist.

God and S’mores

Holy TrinityKids are naturally inquisitive. Some times their constant questioning about life drives their parents crazy, especially when the parents do not know the answer!

One question that we will never be able to answer fully or understand completely is: What is God like? But, we should keep on asking the question.

Jesus, of course, is the fullest revelation of who God is and what He is like. And, Jesus revealed to us that God is a Holy Trinity – three persons in one God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

OK. But what does that mean? Well, the best we could do is to give analogies, so as to get a “handle” on this truth. St. Patrick is known for his analogy of comparing the Holy Trinity to a shamrock – three leaves on one stem. Another analogy is the three states of H2O: liquid (water), solid (ice), vapor (steam).

How about this one? God is like a s’more. You know, that wonderful treat made of three different things – chocolate, toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers.

The graham cracker part could be likened to God the Father. The chocolate part is God the Son, and, the toasted marshmallow part could be the Holy Spirit. When we put these three things together, we get a trinity of wonderful flavors to satisfy our sweetest taste buds. In regards to our God, when Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united as one, we get the most satisfying treat of all. We get the “Holy Trinity,” and that will satisfy ALL our needs and desires.

This may be a mouth-watering analogy of how to get a grasp of the Holy Trinity, but of course this one, like all others, has its limitation.

Our Catholic catechism (#234) calls the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity the central mystery of our Christian faith and life, because it is the mystery of God in himself. The doctrine of the inner relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in such that each of them is fully and equally God. There are not three Gods but one.

Though we will never fully comprehend the mystery of our God, knowing God is a Holy Trinity teaches us something very important about Him and about us.

First: God does not exist in solitary individualism but in a community of love and sharing. God is not a loner. This means that a Christian in search of God must shun every tendency to isolationism. The ideal Christian spirituality is not that of flight from the world like that of certain other religious traditions. Christianity draws us into communion with others.

Secondly, true love requires three partners. You remember the old saying “Two is company, three is a crowd.” The Trinity shows us that three is community; three is love at its best; three is not a crowd.

We are made in God’s image and likeness. Just as God is God only in a Trinitarian relationship, so we can be fully human only in a relationship of three partners. The human person needs to be in a horizontal relationship with others and a vertical relationship with God. In that way our life becomes Trinitarian like that of God. I am a Christian insofar as I live in a relationship of love with God and other people.

United In Faith We Are Strong

peter-paul-unityIn a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channel, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t.

“What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus.

“These five fingers,” says Lucy.

“Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.”

“Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

In unity there is strength.  This weekend we celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul—two great pillars of our Catholic faith.  Peter and Paul were quite different in their backgrounds, yet they were united in faith.

Who were Peter and Paul?

Both of them were Jewish, that is true.  But Peter was a blue-collared fisherman, while Paul was a highly educated Pharisee.

Peter was called personally by Jesus, was made head of the apostles by Jesus, and given the keys of the kingdom.

Paul, on the other hand, probably never met Jesus face to face. He once was a persecutor of the Church. His conversion came about through a vision on the road to Damascus that left him blind. His inspiration and his style of presenting the gospel came from visions and charismatic experiences.

Sometimes, Peter and Paul did not see eye to eye.  For instance, Paul once had a public disagreement with Peter on whether Jewish Christians could eat together with Gentile Christians. (Galatians 2).

However, if Peter and Paul did not agree in life, they did agree in death. Both suffered the same kind of death, martyrdom, in the same city, Rome, at about the same time, 64-67 A.D.

 Two pillars of the Church

The early Church recognized Peter and Paul as the two pillars of the Church of Christ. This is depicted in an ancient icon with Peter on the right and Paul on the left, each extending a hand with which they bear up the Church.

By placing two of them together in one icon, united in lifting up the Church, the Church is sending a message to all her children that they likewise should be united, in spite of individual and local differences.  We are all called to build up the one Church of God.

Peter and Paul were two different men, who had different ideas.  But when it came to living their lives for Jesus Christ—they were united as one.  They professed one Lord, one baptism, one faith.  And in this unity, they provided the strong foundation of our church.

Strong in unity

Saints Peter and Paul exemplify to us that even if we are different and even if we have disagreements, we can still live and work together in the Church.

We can find reconciliation with one another through God’s grace and love.

Together we are better.  Together, united in one faith, we are strong.