Pastoral Sharings: "No one who looks back"

WeeklyMessageFr. Andrew Greeleey
June 30, 2013
Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The passage today is advice to the early Christian followers of Jesus to travel light, to keep a distance between themselves and their material possessions. It is undoubtedly based on advice Jesus gave his followers during his public life when he sent them forth to prepare the way in the towns and cities he was planning to visit. 

It was not meant to be taken literally, but it was not meant to be dismissed as rhetoric either. Jesus and his band had a treasury, we know, because Judas the treasurer  was a thief and stole from it.  The apostles appointed deacons to handle administration.

The church today has enormous goods at its disposal, which generally are used well. Yet there is a terrible danger that financial administration will be confused with religious leadership – from the parish society on up to the Vatican.
Once upon a time a mommy and a daddy were preparing to take their two children for two weeks vacation in the country. They had, as do most mommies and daddies these days, a sports utility vehicle (SUV). They figured that they would travel light. For two weeks you don’t have to bring the whole house, do you?

Since the SUV was big, it was easy to pile things into it. First of all, they packed clothes. Because you can never tell what you might have to do or where you might have to go at the Lake or what the weather will be like, they didn’t really pack any more things then they would need for, let us say, a trip to Paris. Moreover they wanted their kids to look their best. So they packed comprehensive wardrobes for them too. You can never tell what might happen on a vacation, can you?

Then there was the matter of toys and similar stuff. The weather might be bad so they had to pack enough toys to keep the kids happy if they were imprisoned in a cottage for two weeks. But the weather might be good, so they had to pack enough toys that the kids wouldn’t be bored on the beach.  Then each of the kids had their favorite toys without which they could not survive. Did I forget the family dog?

Eventually the SUV was fully loaded and there was room for everyone except the mommy and the daddy. So they rearranged things. There hardly was room to breathe in SUV. When they got to the lake, they had to unpack all their stuff. When their vacation was over (as alas vacations tend to be) they repacked everything to drive home. Then when they arrived home they had to unpack everything. No one was talking to one another for three days.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 30
, 2013

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 9:51-62

Gospel Summary

The first verse of today’s gospel is a major marker in Luke’s story of salvation. Jesus is now ready to be “taken up,” i.e. to move toward the final stage of his mission which must happen in Jerusalem. For that reason, “he resolutely determined (lit. set his face) to journey to Jerusalem.” For the next ten chapters, Jesus will be on this journey during which he will illustrate the meaning of the journey of faith on the part of his followers of every age. This is clearly a spiritual journey in which theology trumps all merely historical considerations.

Thirteenth Sunday: Why Did They Do It? Why Do We Do It?
Why did Elisha do it?  He was a very rich farmer.  He used to plow the fields following a yoke of twelve oxen.  If he only owned one ox he would have been well off, but he owned a dozen.  His following 12 oxen would be similar to an American farmer driving a John Deere 9630.  That’s the biggest tractor that  John Deere makes. I know all abut big tractors because I’m from New Jersey.  Oh, and I know how to google things.  Elisha doesn’t just leave the oxen; he slaughters them and makes a fire out of the plowing equipment to have feast with what must have been his numerous workers.  With the oxen gone and the equipment burned, there would be no turning back for Elisha.

For Freedom Christ Set Us Free
Message: Christ has given us freedom that no one can take from us. Its practice leads to political freedom and makes possible a free – and prosperous – society.

You will notice a small difference this Sunday. Pope Francis has asked us to include St. Joseph along with the Virgin Mary in the Eucharist Prayer. He is completing what Pope John XXIII did when he mandated that the Roman Canon include St. Joseph. At that time the Roman Canon was the only Eucharist Prayer in use in the Latin Rite. Now we will mention St. Joseph in all the Eucharistic Prayers. This change is well timed because never did we more need the intercession of St. Joseph for our families, our dads and those who like Joseph are not biological fathers, but aspire to spiritual fatherhood. Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Catholics Called to ‘Daily Martyrdom,’ Says Pope Francis
During his June 23 Angelus reflection, Pope Francis said the faithful are called to follow the example of the martyrs in losing their lives for Christ, even if they do not suffer violence for their faith.

“Both in the past and today, in many parts of the world, there are martyrs, both men and women, who are imprisoned or killed for the sole reason of being Christian,” he said, noting that there are more martyrs dying violent deaths in modern times than in the early centuries of the Church.

Fight Against Secularism Unites Jews, Catholics, Pope Says
Christians and Jews can work together to challenge the contemporary problems of secularism and disrespect for the human person, Pope Francis told representatives of Judaism in a Vatican audience.

“Humanity needs our joint witness in favor of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God and in favor of peace, which is, above all, God’s gift,” the Bishop of Rome told members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations June 24.

Top 10 Greatest Works of Catholic Mysticism
Christian mysticism in and of itself is something that greatly interests me.  Soaring above the dry theological speculations of professional academia, mysticism encounters the living God face to face, though “through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor 13:12).

Now, to narrow down to only ten the greatest of the writings in all of Catholic history is nearly an impossible task.  No doubt, there are many entries missing on this list that should be present.  But as with any list like this, it will undoubtedly reflect the tastes and worldview of the author, so I will state without further ado that these are my votes for what I feel are the ten greatest works of Catholic mysticism that I have hitherto come across in my short life.

Me, My God, and I
In a twist on Robert Frost’s old saw about vers libre poetry, a priest friend of mine once remarked, “Being spiritual but not religious is like playing tennis without a net.”

This strikes me as very apt. There does seem something unsportsmanlike about claiming the consolations of spiritual living without binding oneself to a God or creed. It’s all dessert, no dinner.

Five Practical Lessons for Discipleship
“When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him” (Luke 9:51-52).

This begins the section of Luke’s Gospel known as the “Travel Narrative”. In this section, Jesus and his disciples journey to Jerusalem where redemption will occur and the Church will be born. St. Luke uses nearly 10 chapters (9:51-19:27) to record the journey to Jerusalem. Along the way, Jesus prepares his disciples for the work to which he has called them.  These lessons for discipleship offer each of us practical help for living the faith day in and day out. St. Luke packs important principles of discipleship in the opening eleven verses of the narrative.

Are most Catholics in America going to hell?
When you look around society today, it doesn’t look good.

Even in the Church, people are committing abortion and contraception.

They are sleeping together outside of marriage, using porn, and doing a host of other things that can endanger their souls.

It can be tempting to conclude that most Catholics in America today are going to go to hell.

Is the situation that bleak?

In the Bible, Psalms 14 and 53 both open with the statement: “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’” Whatever this may tell us about unbelief in ancient Hebrew society, today it is not only, or predominantly, fools who are saying this. And they do not restrict their utterances to their hearts alone.

Marriage Is a Path to Holiness
July 13 is the wedding anniversary of Blesseds Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin, who married three months after meeting in 1858. The union would produce nine children; the five girls who survived to adulthood all became nuns — their best-known daughter is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. While many beatified by the Church are members of religious communities, Louis and “Zelie” demonstrate that marriage, too, can be a path to holiness.

Do we need to set aside the Word “Marriage” and use “Holy Matrimony” exclusively?
In the wake of the supreme court decisions of this week, I would like to return to a question I have Asked before: Are we coming to a point where we should consider dropping our use of the word “marriage?”

It is a simple fact that word “marriage” as we have traditionally known it is being redefined in our times. To many in the secular world the word no longer means what it once did and when the Church uses the word marriage we clearly do not mean what the increasing number of states mean.

Does Evil Disprove God?
The problem of evil is the greatest emotional obstacle to belief in God. It just doesn’t feel like God should let people suffer. If we were God, we think, we wouldn’t allow it.

The atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie maintained that belief in God was irrational, for if God were all-knowing (omniscient) he would know that there was evil in the world, if he were all-powerful (omnipotent) he could prevent it, and if he were all-good (omnibenevolent) then he would wish to prevent it. The fact that there is still evil in the world proves that God doesn’t exist, or if he did, that he must be “impotent, ignorant, or wicked.”

Holy Spirit Stories: The Smile That Made a Family
One of my favorite stories about my first son, is how he saved a life of a person he’s never really known.
Being lonely and stuck at home and not coping with it very well that first year as a mom, I pushed his stroller all around the hot streets of Houston, desperate for company. I made friends with the dry cleaner, the photo lady, the pharmacist at the more expensive place because this woman at least knew my name, and the receptionist at my apartment complex. The receptionist! Every day around lunch, she’d see me pushing the beautiful blue perambulator, a gift from my in-laws, about the grounds. She’d wave me in and coo at my son, he’d smile back at her with his whole body. One day, I walked by and she didn’t wave me in. She was crying.

Every Life is a Story, A Story Known Fully by God
When my Father lay dying, I remember that one of the losses I began to grieve was that he was the keeper of many family stories. He was the one who could look at an old family photograph and tell you who they all were and something about each of them. As I saw him lying there, no longer able to talk much, I thought of all the memories stored up in his mind, all the stories, all the people he once knew and had spoken so vividly of.

Six Steps to Joy
I recently had coffee with a fellow Catholic who gloomily shared his ongoing struggles with overtly living out his faith in the real world and reluctance to discuss his faith with others.  He made it clear that going to Mass on Sunday was all he could or should be doing.
Unfortunately, this is a very common tale.  The conversation became really interesting and a little uncomfortable when we discussed why people become apathetic about their faith, hesitate about converting or leave the Church altogether.  It became obvious to me after a few minutes that how my coffee companion presented his faith to the world and how others view the Catholic Church may be connected. 

“How to Talk to Atheists” – Review
Since launching, I’ve been inundated with requests. Most take the same form: “Can you help my atheist son?” or “Can you respond to my atheist friend on Facebook?” or “What do I say to my anti-Christian professor?” I respond as much as possible but I can’t reply to all of them. There’s simply no way to personally engage every atheist argument. But that doesn’t mean I ignore them. Even if I can’t respond to the atheist myself, I point people to good resources that will help them to respond. I believe the old adage is true: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

“I Don’t Believe in God Anymore” – When Your Kids Reject the Faith
I’ve been hearing from a lot of parents whose teens are rejecting their faith. The stories are all terrifically painful but they tend to represent different variations on the following theme.

The other day my son/daughter was refusing to go to Church. S/he told me that s/he doesn’t believe ‘all that stuff’ anymore. We had a huge fight about it. I don’t understand. I never had any problems before. When s/he was little, s/he loved to go to Church. S/he was an altar server (lector, choir member)! Why is s/he being so stubborn all of a sudden?

Answering Common Objections to the Uniqueness of Christianity
Ronald Knox once quipped that “the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious.” The reason, as G. K. Chesterton says, is that, according to most “scholars” of comparative religion, “Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism.”



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