Pastoral Sharings: "19th Sunday in Ordinary Time"



   1 Kings 19, 9. 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9, 1-5;
   Matthew 14: 22-32

   Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Lord, save me.” Peter, frightened by the wind and the 
  waves, cries out desperately for  help in the Gospel 
  according to St. Matthew, chapter fourteen, verses   twenty-two to thirty-three. Christ had granted Peter the power to walk on the water, but giving in to his fear, the apostle had begun to sink. “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
There is a mystery here, that our faith is a gift from God, but at the same time, our faith is a cooperation with God; we freely choose to believe. And we can also choose to doubt and fall into fear as did Peter.
Fortitude is the virtue of which Peter stood in need at his moment of temptation.
“Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. ‘The Lord is my strength and my song.’ ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ “ (CCC 1808)
It is through grace by faith that we receive the gift of fortitude.  Peter confesses faith in Christ’s divinity, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”. Moments later that faith gives way to fear, and Peter is threatened with destruction by the forces of nature. Do we need power to “walk on water” in order to be happy? What are the things that we fear, that drive the power of faith, and the power of God, out of our lives? Is sin among them? Do we disregard the corrosive power of falsehood, the destructive force of unchastity?
What we cannot do without is a reverent spirit of worship, the power to confidently acclaim Jesus as Lord, and then to call upon Him for what we need to live as the praise of His glory.
Bearing witness to the Lord, confessing our Faith before others, enables us to practice and to grow in the virtue of fortitude.
“The faithful should bear witness to the Lord’s name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear. Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (CCC 2145)
When the disciples witnessed the power of Christ over the wind and waves, they fell down and worshipped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  They acclaimed Him in faith and thus they saw with true vision through the supernatural power of God working in them.
“Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as ‘Lord’. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing. At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, ‘Lord’ expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus. In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: ‘My Lord and my God!’ It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: ‘It is the Lord!’ ” (CCC 448)
Let us ask for the virtue of fortitude in worship and witness that our faith may grow and others may come to the Lord as well.  Above all, it is Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist that calls for our adoration.  We can, for example, better witness before the world by our more attentive genuflection as we enter or depart a church or chapel where the Lord is present; by an interior spirit of adoration as we process forward during the Communion of the Mass; by pausing to make a profound bow before receiving our Eucharistic Lord in Communion; by carefully resting one hand upon the other to receive the Lord and then reverently placing the Host on our tongue. 
Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, we adore thee!
-Fr. Cusick

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 10, 2014

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)—August 10, 2014
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus let the apostles struggle for many hours in a violent storm before going to them. Why did He wait so long?

Gospel (Read Mt 14:22-33)

After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (last Sunday’s Gospel), Jesus sent both His disciples and the vast crowd away. The disciples took a boat to the other side of the lake; Jesus would eventually join them there. In the meantime, He “went up on the mountain by himself to pray.” Whenever we see Jesus retreating to solitude for prayer this way, it reminds us that He was a sojourner here. His original and permanent life is in Heaven, in communion with His Father. Like Him, we are also sojourners here. Like Him, we also need solitary times with our Father.

Nineteenth Sunday: The Still Small Voice
I have always been fascinated by today’s first reading from 1 Kings 19.  It presents Elijah.  Elijah was the great and powerful prophet whose sharing in the Spirit of God caused a drought and a rainstorm.  Elijah called fire down on Mount Carmel, and defeated the false prophets of Baal.  Elijah left the earth in the fiery chariot of God causing people to wonder if he would come again, or, centuries later, if he had come again in a man named John the Baptist, or another who was infinitely more powerful than John, Jesus Christ.

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Matthew 14: 22-33

Today’s readings use rich imagery of the power and grandeur of the natural world to illustrate the even greater glory of God revealed to us in Christ.

Nature imagery is widely used in the bible as in other literature contemporary with the scriptures to convey an idea of the omnipotence and benevolence of God. In order to appreciate how effective such descriptions can be, one need only read the creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis, or the story of Noah and the flood, or peruse poetic texts such as Psalm 29, where the Lord is manifested through the appearance of a terrible storm, or the final chapters of the book of Job, where God reviews the mysteries of creation which are beyond human understanding.

Why Do We Doubt? (Matthew 14:22-36)
“If I try by myself to swim across the ocean of this world, the waves will certainly engulf me. In order to survive I must climb aboard a ship made of wood; this wood is the Cross of Christ. Of course, even on board ship there will be dangerous tempests and perils from the sea of this world. But God will help me remain on board the ship and arrive safely at the harbor of eternal life.”                                                          – St. Augustine

Saying your Prayers versus Praying your Prayers
In the spiritual life, the language we use intimately reflects our hearts. As an example, let’s look at prayer. Do we “say our prayers?” Or do we pray in an intimate relationship with God? The former is like saying, “I said words to my wife.” The latter is closer to saying, “My wife and I had a wonderful dinner together.” Prayer, when spoken of in impersonal terms, can depict and encourage impersonal aspirations, which can then lead to impersonal attempts at prayer. And impersonal prayer is not prayer at all, because it only amounts to a person saying things, rather than any real encounter with God. Here’s what St. Theresa of Avila had to say about “saying” prayers:

Simplicity in Devotion
When I first converted to Catholicism, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of devotions Catholics practiced. There was devotion to the five wounds of Christ, the brown scapular, the green scapular, the Divine Mercy chaplet, devotion to the Holy Face, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Rosary, devotion to the Sacred Heart, devotion to the seven sorrows of Mary, total consecration, and countless others.

This treasury of devotions is one of the most beautiful things about Catholicism.

How can I Hear God Speaking to me in Prayer?
The phrase “conversation with God” describes Christian prayer beautifully. Christ has revealed that God is a real person, and that he is interested—passionately interested—in our lives, our friendship, our closeness. For Christians then, prayer, as Pope Benedict explained when he visited Yonkers, New York, in 2007, is an expression of our “personal relationship with God.” And that relationship, the Holy Father went on to say, “is what matters most.”

Why Is Faith by Hearing?
Faith, as St. Paul wrote in Romans, comes by hearing. But why?

In other words, why doesn’t faith come through reading? Couldn’t reading through the Scriptures, the lives of the saints, or devotional works also bring us to faith? Yet, in Romans 10 and again in Galatians 3, Paul insists that faith comes through what we have heard.

Prayer is the Life of the Soul
St. John of the Cross says: “The person who flees prayer is fleeing everything that is good.”  Without air to our lungs it is just a matter of minutes that we will suffocate and die; what air is to the lungs, prayer is to the soul.  St. Paul exhorts us: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thes. 5:17). To the Ephesians ha says “Pray at all times.” (Eph. 6:18).  In the Garden of Olives Jesus earnestly warned the Apostles to pray: “Watch and pray”. (Mt. 26:41).Because they failed to pray the Apostles failed Jesus when He most desperately needed their company and their friendship.

Finding God Through Suffering
We are often reluctant to do so because we know we may be mocked, laughed at and persecuted. In truth, our fidelity to God and His Word may bring us pain and suffering. It is so difficult to follow Him. At times we don’t want to do as He asks. What He wants from us sometimes seems too painful, too difficult, and too burdensome. We want to flee and hide from Him. But we can’t. He is everywhere. He has given us Himself. Our salvation and that of others hinges on our sharing and living this Truth. So we must go on – imperfectly and inconstantly no doubt – but we must go on, trusting that God will be at our side.

The Battle for Purity
The battle for purity is ultimately fought deep in the recesses of the human heart. Our hearts were made to love, but since the Fall, they have been tainted by a desire to use others. This effect of original sin is seen perhaps most dramatically in our encounters with the opposite sex, wherein our hearts often are drawn to the other person more for the emotional or sensual pleasure we may derive from them than for any true commitment to what is best for them and their true value as a person. In this reflection, we will see that chastity is so much bigger than simply saying “no” to certain sexual actions we may commit in the body. In the end, chastity is a matter of the heart.

Life as Preparation for Death
Shortly before taking leave of this world, Sir Winston Churchill, who had lived a very long and illustrious life, was reportedly asked about the state of his soul:

“I am perfectly ready,” he said, “to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

Only someone of the stature of Sir Winston could pull off a piece of effrontery that egregious. And, thank God, there’s probably not much of him in most mortal men. I doubt that there was any at all in my brother Michael. He was far too humble to trade witticisms with the Deity.

When I’m Dying, Please Do This
I’ve become a Father John Riccardo podcast junkie.  I’m still processing his podcast on the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.  I learned some great insights into the sacrament itself.  More importantly, Father Riccardo reminded me of the tremendous dignity the suffering and dying have.  We all should listen to the show, but those of us who are either dying ourselves or know someone on their deathbed need to hear these words.  (Click this link to access the podcast.)  Reject what the world says about the dying, and remind them of their invaluable mission:

God Works in Mysterious Ways. Sometimes.
It is often said that God sometimes works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, however, He doesn’t. Sometimes the answer is so much simpler than anyone thought. But amazing nonetheless.
Father Steve Mattson of the Church of the Resurrection parish can recall praying the Diving Mercy Chaplet in front of Lansing Michigan’s last free standing abortion clinic. He recalls praying fervently for the closing of the clinic. He didn’t know how it could happen but he prayed nonetheless.

A Constellation of Saints
The night sky in its magnificent beauty has beckoned to me ever since I was a small child. At night, especially on a summer’s night, I would slip away and sit on our front porch, or better still, I would lie on the grass and just look up at the stars. I learned to recognize one constellation from another and once in a while view an eclipse of the moon.

God is Not Welcome Here
“A small error in the beginning leads to a multitude of errors in the end” – Aristotle, De Coelo The small error in this case is the assumption made long ago by the members of the United States Supreme Court that they had the power to play God. First, the court ignored the science on the subject of how birth control chemicals work and removed all barriers to the sale of such drugs.

Jesus does not hold anything back… do you?
There is a great old popular jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons titled All of Me that is one of my favorite tunes.  I particularly like the rendition performed by Louis Armstrong and another done later by Willie Nelson. The song is about a fellow who lost his heart to a girl who left him, so he croons, “You took the part that once was my heart, so why not take all of me?” But, all that aside, let’s look at the lyrics of the opening bars: “All of me, why not take all of me? Can’t you see that I am no good without you?”

The Queen of Sin: 10 Things Catholics Need to Know
Listers, the Queen of Sin conquers the hearts of men and surrenders them to her generals. It is a war of vice and virtue. No individual, however, becomes virtuous or vicious because of a single act. Both virtue and vice are habits. The Philosopher, Aristotle, defines a habit as “a disposition whereby someone is disposed, well or ill.” Those habits which habituate the person toward the good, are called virtues. Those habits that dispose the person to evil are called vices. A person’s habits define who they are. Following Aristotle, Aquinas notes that habits are a species of quality. In this light, the Philosopher states, “a habit is a quality which it is difficult to change.”

What We Fear Controls Us. A Meditation on the “Eighth Deadly Sin.”
What we fear controls us. Consider the following story.

Trichloroethane, an aerosol propellant that was used in the spray cans of many household cleaners, is toxic when inhaled in large concentrations. Back in the 1980s, teenagers discovered that they could get high by spraying the cleaner into bags and breathing in the fumes.

A  label on the can clearly warned of death or serious injury if the product was inhaled. But the young people who inhaled it simply ignored these sorts of warnings, leading to a number of deaths.

Unbearable Loss
My earliest recollection of Caitlin was in her mother’s womb. Her mom and I were both pregnant with daughters. Information we did not know at the time, but would later bring great delight. This “wasn’t our first rodeo” as they say, I was on child number four and Caitlin made six. The girls were born months apart and grew up a half a block away from each other. I remember Caity as a happy child, loved without limit by her family and all that knew her.

Be a Living Parable
I’ve personally never had a difficult time believing in God, and for that I consider myself blessed. Even in the particularly difficult times of my life, times when God felt eons away, I have never been able to simply relinquish my faith in His existence. For me, it’s all too reasonable.

Yet, for so many, this is not the case. For them, believing in God poses  much more of a challenge, and it’s not so much that they’re unwilling to believe, but rather they are unable or not quite ready.

What Others Think Of Us
I have had numerous conversations with friends and professional acquaintances over the years on the subject of openly sharing our Catholic faith. I am always a little surprised at how often many of them express strong reluctance to being open about their beliefs. The reasons given have included, “I don’t want to offend anyone.” “We could never do that at work.” and “I don’t like to discuss that outside of my parish.” Do we ever stop and reflect on how often our public actions and thinking are overly influenced by what others may think about our Catholic faith?

“Ten Commandments of Reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament”
An old friend of mine, Msgr. Charles Mangan noticed my answer about safeguarding the Blessed Sacrament and sent me this to share with you.

“Ten Commandments of Reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament”

1. Attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, even daily if possible.

25 Questions Every Catholic Should Ask An Evangelical About the Bible
It is a joke so common that even Catholics make it on themselves… and then they laugh. And the punchline always goes something like this; “…Because Catholics don’t read their Bible (insert laughter here).” This is less true today than it used to be, but it nevertheless remains a serious issue. It’s one of those hilarious things that really isn’t hilarious when you get right down to it. There are any number of historical reasons for this, but regardless, the fact remains most Catholics are generally incapable of engaging in a real Biblical dialogue with their Protestant brothers and sisters.

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