Sunday, October 15, 2017

Clothed in Grace for the Wedding Feast


“My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?
In one of His many parables about the Kingdom of God, Jesus tells of a king who invites chosen guests to His Son’s wedding banquet. When those chosen people reject or ignore His invitation, some even killing his messengers, the king became angry, destroyed the murderers, and extended His invitation to others, good and bad, bringing all into the banquet.
This parable echoes the story of God’s invitation to His chosen people through His prophets, many of whom were ignored, rejected, and even killed. Because of the unfaithfulness of those chosen guests, the invitation went out to the whole world. Yet, the guests must show the respect due to the King’s Son: when a man is found to have entered without a wedding garment, he is cast out.
We are those guests, the good and the bad, given the chance of a lifetime to come to the wedding feast of the King’s Son. Can you imagine showing up at such an event covered in mud, without making any attempt to wash up and be presentable? Would any of us even consider going to a friend’s wedding banquet in such a condition? But how often have we entered the Eucharistic feast neglecting to first clothe ourselves in love, charity, kindness, and purity?
Although God’s invitation is offered freely, we have a responsibility to prepare ourselves to enter into the banquet. The Lord provides the wedding garment Himself, clothing us in Christ at the moment of baptism but He gives us the free will to accept or reject that garment. Even when we fall into the mud again and again, He gives us the chance to cleanse that garment throughout our lives in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are required to respond to the infinite generosity of the King by accepting His invitation and preparing our hearts to be in His presence.
Be prepared for the great event. Don’t miss the chance to enter into the joy of the heavenly wedding feast, clothed in the pure garments of love.
 
 
 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Seeking the Face of God

Photo by David J. Phillip/AP

“…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious… think about these things.”  - Phil 4:8
Every day the news is filled with terror, death, tragedy, and injustice.  When I signed on to my computer to look up a story I planned to mention in this article, I was greeted with headlines reporting the mass murder of 59 innocent people in Las Vegas. Hurricanes, earthquakes, war, and terror seem to be everywhere. But St. Paul encourages us to think about that which is true, pure, and lovely. Such things seem elusive, but they are there, even in the midst of the storms.
God’s grace and beauty can shine through the darkest events, and God’s image is most often reflected on the faces of the people involved. In the aftermath of the storms, in the chaos and violence of a terrorist attack, in the rubble of an earthquake, the honorable, the just, and the lovely are glimpsed.
A photo taken after Hurricane Harvey shows a young officer carrying a mother and child through the storm waters. The mother cradles her son in her arms protectively, while both are enveloped in the arms of their rescuer. A mother in labor, evacuated from a Mexico City hospital during the earthquake, gave birth to her baby on the street. Her husband said, “The world was falling around us and he came to save ours. It’s the greatest message of love and example of strength and bravery for the world.” A young man gives his life for his beloved wife, shielding her from the bullets of the Vegas killer with his own body.
The true, the honorable, the lovely and gracious are most clearly visible in the people that reflect God’s image in our world: in the face of the rescuer; the embrace of a mother protecting her child; the birth of a child; the sacrificial love of a husband who gives his life for his bride. God has made us in His image, placed us in His vineyard, and sent His Son to show us the way, so that we may become, like Him, sons and daughters of God, empowered to be light in the darkness, hope in the storm, filled with a love that gives without counting the cost.
 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Humility of St. Thérèse


Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way. Psalm 25:8-9

In today’s readings, St. Paul speaks of the great humility of our Lord Jesus, who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” This is the example we are to follow: not to exalt ourselves but to humbly submit to God’s will.
This reading is especially fitting for today, October 1st, the Feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Thérèse lived a humble and obscure life in late 19th century France, entered a convent at the age of 15, and died when she was just 24; not someone you would expect to make an impact on the world. However, her “Little Way” of spiritual childhood has become widely known in the century since her death. St. Thérèse summarizes the Little Way in her book, Story of a Soul:
“…I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passersby. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger... But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new…  It is your arms, Jesus, which are the lift to carry me to heaven, and so there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must stay little and become less and less.”
Although she remained both little and obscure during her short life, God exalted this humble daughter of the Church: St. Thérèse was canonized 28 years after her death and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997.
St. Thérèse, pray for us!
 

 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

40 Days of Prayer and Praise




“Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Mt 20:16

The 40 Days for Life first began in Texas in 2004, when four people came together and prayed for a way to end abortion in their community. They decided to pray, fast, and keep vigil at the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic for 40 days and nights. They also began doing outreach to get other people involved, spreading the word door to door and by word of mouth. By the end of that first 40 days, hundreds of people were involved in this prayerful, peaceful movement that has since grown to encompass over 700 cities in 44 nations worldwide.

The 40 Days for Life first came to the Tri-Cities in 2008, its leaders drawn from our local Catholic parishes. I was part of that first team; it was also the first pro-life action I had ever been involved with. That year's Kick-off Rally was the first time I spoke publicly about the grief and regret I silently suffered for many years after my own abortion losses. Before that time, I remained silent on abortion, thinking it more compassionate not to call attention to women who turned to that awful and desperate solution. But I came to realize that silence only worsened the problem. I had gotten to know many people in the pro-life movement , and finally understood that they were not offering condemnation but real, loving assistance, healing, help, and mercy. So I joined them and began to pray, speak, write, and work for life.

Although I was a latecomer to the prolife movement, many of my 40 Days for Life teammates had long been fighting to end the injustice and tragedy of abortion. I remember one elderly man, a St. Joseph’s Knight, who had been working to end abortion for at least 33 years before 40 Days for Life began. His name was Dick Gilmore. He had been organizing weekly rosaries and prayers at the local Planned Parenthood ever since they first opened their abortion center in the Tri-Cities. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by novice prayer volunteers from all over the community. Dick did not resent the presence of the newcomers at the “frontlines,” but welcomed us. That first campaign was a 24/7 vigil for 40 cold days and nights in the Fall of 2008. Although he was in his eighties, Dick showed up at all hours, even the middle of the night, bringing prayer cards, rosaries, crosses and ideas.
 
At the end of that first campaign, we gathered to celebrate and praise God for the mercies He had shown during the 40 days. I was watching as Dick looked around at over 200 prayer volunteers, and broke down in tears of joy. I felt grateful and honored to be counted in his company, the last joining with the first, working together to defend human life. 
 
 
 

 Requiem en Pacem, 
Richard Francis Gilmore
Nov. 11, 1924 - Sept 16, 2016

"You, too, go into my Vineyard." 

Link to the Complete Text of the Readings for Sunday, Sept. 24th, 2017

It’s not too late to join us in God’s vineyard if you haven’t already.
 

Visit 40 Days for Life Tri Cities

Come to our Fall 2017 Kick-off Rally
at John Dam Plaza in Richland, WA

Sunday, Sept. 24th, 2-4 PM

Speakers, prayer, music, fellowship, information,

& COOKIES!

 
 
 
 



 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Forgiving the Unforgivable


Photo from www.immaculee.com
 
"Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? – Mt. 18:21
 
One of the most amazing stories of forgiveness I’ve ever heard was told by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, in her book, “Left to Tell.” She spent three months hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other starving women, as her family members and fellow Tutsi tribe members were slaughtered in the genocide that killed a million people. She survived by praying the rosary continually, saying, “Prayer became my armor, and I wrapped it tightly around my heart."
Yet she encountered difficulty with the words of the Lord ’s Prayer, finding herself unable to say “forgive us as we forgive others.” She remembers, "It was no use - my prayers felt hollow. A war had started in my soul, and I could no longer pray to a God of love with a heart full of hatred…. I tried again, praying for Him to forgive the killers, but deep down I couldn't believe that they deserved it at all. It tormented me... I tried to pray for them myself, but I felt like I was praying for the devil… I asked God to help me, and again I heard his voice: Forgive them; they know not what they do…
I took a crucial step toward forgiving the killers that day. My anger was draining from me - I'd opened my heart to God, and He'd touched it with His infinite love. For the first time, I pitied the killers. I asked God to forgive their sins and turn their souls toward His beautiful light… That night I prayed with a clear conscience and a clean heart. For the first time since I entered the bathroom, I slept in peace."
May each of us also find the grace and peace that comes from forgiving those who have sinned against us.
 

Speak the Truth in Love and Mercy


 
"Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.” - St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

We hear a wonderful promise from Jesus in today’s Gospel: our prayers call down God’s presence with us; even if just two of us agree about anything for which we are to pray, it will be granted. But today’s readings also remind us that we bear responsibility for one another. We are linked, morally and spiritually. If we see another person engaging in sinful behavior, we have a moral obligation to speak out in truth and mercy to help guide that person back into communion with God and the Church.
And that’s difficult. It’s especially hard to speak out against many of the socially acceptable sins of this generation. We risk being called judgmental, hypocritical, even hateful. But just as the Lord warns the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus warns the disciples, we are also warned that keeping silent risks both the soul of the person committing the sin and our own soul as well.
Is there something we’ve witnessed in our own circle of family and friends that we have failed to speak out about? Do we know someone whose marriage needs to be convalidated, or someone who is involved in an adulterous or immoral relationship? Are we aware of an incident of serious sin that is unconfessed? We all have someone in our lives that may need gentle guidance back to God. Jesus tells us to first speak to that person privately. Let them know the doors of mercy are wide open for their reconciliation. If they do not respond, ask a priest for his advice and intervention.
Doing everything you can to save the lives of those you love is not being judgmental or hateful, but is true mercy. And it is our obligation as Catholics. Do not be afraid to speak the truth in love and mercy, always and everywhere.
 
 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Shadow of the Cross


Bill on his birthday last year, 9/10/16
 
Can you imagine how Peter felt to hear Jesus predict the suffering, passion, and death He would soon face? He protests, saying, “God forbid… such a thing shall ever happen to you.” I think most of us would react the same way to hear someone we love making such terrible predictions. Yet Jesus very strongly reprimands Peter, reminding him that there is so much he has yet to understand about the ways of God.

Recently, my husband Bill was diagnosed with cancer. When I heard the doctor describe the pain that his treatment would cause, I also wanted to say, “God forbid that he should have to go through such suffering!” Yet the promised cure for his cancer will only come through the pain of surgery, the burns of radiation, and the sickness caused by the chemo drugs. But despite the suffering, this treatment will ultimately be life-giving, and I would not want him to refuse it.

In the same way, Jesus tells Peter that there is no other path to life but the cross. Jesus shows us the way, willingly suffering the pain of the scourging, the feeling of abandonment, the piercing thorns and the nails, the unquenchable thirst, and finally death on the cross, all so that our healing could be won, and our lives saved.

Anytime you are facing a difficult path; pain, illness, grief, troubles of any kind, turn to God. He is with you and He knows what you’re going through. He does not want you to suffer, yet because sin and death have entered into the world, there is suffering in this life. By passing through it Himself, Jesus opened the path to life. Do not be afraid, because God is with you. Take up your cross and follow Him. Together, you can get through anything. Trust in Him.

 

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...