Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dirty Hands

When St. John of the Cross was a six year old and out playing with his friends, he fell into a mud puddle and nearly drowned. During this time a beautiful lady appeared immaculately clean to help him out of his predicament. This appearance at such a young age of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a precursor of how she would be involved in his life. She reached out her hands in a loving manner to help St. John up and he reached for her but with drew his dirty hands.

If we continue to follow his life two things must be noted. First we can see that St. John spent a lifetime cleaning and keeping his hands (and heart) clean so he could reach out his hands toward God. Secondly events in his life showed that he developed a reliance on Mary. St. John of the Cross lived many crosses in his life and he endured with the help Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. We see drawings of Father John with the cross, he lived at the foot of the cross and in so doing was standing besides our Blessed Mother.

If we can turn our lives around this Lent and in effect CLEAN OUR HANDS as it were, then we can ascend the mountain towards union with God. Our sacrifices and crosses are easier to bear knowing Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is with us and they are well worth the effort to have the joy of the Resurrected Christ in our hearts.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Ps 24:3-6

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Doctor of the Dark Night

Every year at Cardinal Spellman High School this poster is displayed in every classroom. It is a reminder of what Lent is about. Some look at the sacrifices as a burden, (we didn't serve meat in our cafeteria yesterday), or senseless in our society, (why should I give up something?). No these are not burdens or senseless acts. The point that is missing is the very fact that we should do these Lenten practices out of LOVE!!

I am on a journey this Lent with St. John of the Cross. Some people misunderstand his call for detachment as "too much" or worse a sadistic way in which to achieve union with God that is not possible. I see it as LOVE in it's purest and simplest form, something we should strive for but won't obtain until the next life, a giving away of self for others. Jacques Maritain wrote of the human condition so eloquently in the introduction to the biography of St. John of the Cross by Father Bruno, O.D.C. :

Soul a-hunger for joy no longer hope for it. Dying of  a desire to be loved, they sink, in crowds, into a mysticism of the creature, and a homesickness of the damned. What they ask for, without knowing it, is that true countenance of love may be revealed to them.
In the general break-up of the framework of human society, each of us is called on to add to his own weakness a burden of heroism. We need the sternest secrets of wisdom and strength. The Cross lies heavy, with all the weight of love understood, on an ungrateful world, groaning in vain, and loathing it; nothing remains but to love the Cross dearly; it will bear us onwards, as, with swift prow, it cleaves the waters of eternal life. What better pilot than the Doctor of the Dark Night?

Knowledge of God was not an end for St. John of the Cross, Love was the end in which he strove for, a loving union with God who is LOVE. So the central message of our Lenten sacrifice is LOVE as St. John of the Cross writes, "There is no better and no more necessary work than love", "We have been created for love", "God makes use of nothing but love", "As love is the union of the Father and Son, so is it the union of the soul of God."

So love is sacrifice, a sacrifice that leads to the Cross, but it brings us into union with God. Whatever our state in life, we should be moving towards this perfect love and what a wonderful guide we have in St. John of the Cross.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

This has been a week of constant prayer and thought. I miss my students and can't wait for Monday so I can see the and make sure they are all doing well, some of whom live on the Long Island Sound in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. I'm sure our service society at Cardinal Spellman High School will be very busy next week collecting everthing that is needed to help the people who have lost so much in Sandy's wake.

When I was 15 my girlfriend (now my beautiful wife of 26 years) asked me to go down to the Jersey Shore with her family. It has become a place that holds my heart. I have spent many summers and weekends at Ocean Beach Unit III and we have passed down our love for the shore to our two daughters. We are all shaken by what we have seen, and we pray that those wonderful people can pick up and carry on.

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has talked about the increase in natural disasters that have taken place in recent years. He has correctly stated that when we rebuild we must take into consideration this increase in weather related disasters. He sights global warming as the reason for the increase in natural disasters and has called for alternate energy sources, and a reduction in our carbon footprint. No one can argue with being good stewards of the planet in which we live on. The one piece of the puzzle missing in the governer's attempt to beat natural disaster is the most important piece that we ignore even more than we ignor recycling laws, and that is God.

Our secular society has turned so far from God that we are out of balance to our true calling of being in union with God. Saint Augustine recognized this so long ago. To bring balance back to this world we must come back to God. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our hope and our salvation! I know this because I have heard so many people who pray and turn to God in times of disaster. We call on God in our time of need but we seem to go about our lives as if He doesn't exist when things are good. It is our lack of love for God and love of neighbor that causes natural disasters. Yes we can reduce our carbon footprint, but more importantly we should walk in the footprints of Christ.

I pray that the Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus under the title Stella Maris intercede for us in this stormy time:

Hail bright star of ocean,God's own Mother blest,Ever sinless Virgin,
Gate of heavenly rest, Taking that sweet Ave, Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us,Changing Eva's name.Break the captives' fetters,
Light on blindness pour,All our ills expelling,Every bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother;May the Word Divine,Born for us thy Infant,
Hear our prayers through thine, Virgin all excelling,
Mildest of the mild,Freed from guilt, preserve us,
Pure and undefiled.Keep our life all spotless,
Make our way secure,Till we find in Jesus
Joy for evermore
Through the highest heaven
To the Almighty Three, Father, Son, and Sprit
One same glory be,


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why Is There Evil in the World

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man (about 1615) by Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
If God is all powerful, loving, and in total control, the natural question would be why is there suffering and evil in the world? Unde Malum, where does evil come from? We can go back to the enlightenment and talk about Descartes, Hume, and an anthropocentric view of humanity but the long and short of it can be explained by the first reading from today's Eucharistic celebration:

Wisdom 1:13–15; 2:23–24
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.

There is no dualism in God, he didn't create both good and evil, in fact he created man "very good"(Gen 1:31). His love for us is evident in our gift of free will. Either we enter into life through Christ; or death through the devil. It's our choice; choose wisely!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

March for Life

I am always honored to chaperon the students from Cardinal Spellman HS on the day trip to the March for Life in Washington. This past trip I was blessed to chaperon the overnight bus. Following celebration of the Eucharist we were treated to a concert by Josh Blakesley and a music filled Eucharistic Adoration. The videos on this post are from the night before the March. They were originally recorded side ways and I just figured out how to rotate them(I'm slow, I know). We were at the overflow venues, both here and the next day at mass before the March, we were at the Armory. To see so many high school students from across America at the March is always a blessing and truly amazing! Being from the Bronx our students commented on how other students prayed with their hands held high and how they wish they could pray like that. You never know where seeds are sowed. It's was great that Josh Blakesly called everyone Church, that was so important for all the students to know they are part of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. Sorry for the shaky videos I was rocking out!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom

To say, "God gives us what we need" is probably the greatest understatement EVER!!!! On Monday night I was in prayer and trying to make sense of why we need a Fortnight for Freedom, you know a little fasting, some extra prayers, and I have to say I was overwhelmed by all that is happening these days. Later on while listening to iHeart Radio; the Zac Brown station (yes a city boy who listens to country music), this song from Big & Rich came on. Totally sent from God, no questions asked. Favorite part, "Don't you dare pledge allegiance, don't you dare speak of God, speak of God whoa whoa whoa; I am begging for forgiveness I want to make a difference even in the smallest way..." Oh the power of prayer!!!!! One more suggestion this week pray the Beatitudes, take comfort in our God who has already won the battle through His Resurrection, we only have to remain faithful and believe that the living God is found in the Catholic Church.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

On the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity we celebrate the very heart of our faith. At the time of God's definitive intervention in the world for the salvation of all; the angel Gabriel proclaims the Most Holy Trinity to the Blessed Mother, "And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God (Luke 1:35)."

 As baptized Catholic we are children of God and  this brings us into communion with the Triune God as family. Dr. Scott Hahn explains, "Last Sunday, we celebrated the sending of the Spirit, which sealed God’s new covenant and made a new creation. 

In this new creation, we live in the family of God, who has revealed himself as a Trinity of love. We share in His divine nature through His body and blood (see 2 Peter 1:4). This is the meaning of the three feasts that cap the Easter season - Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi.(read more)"

God Bless and enjoy your day!