Sunday, October 25, 2015

Spiritual Sight and Grace-filled Days

For the past few days, I've been in Dallas participating in the University of Dallas Ministry Conference. This is a great event that serves the Church in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. I had the privilege of offering three workshops during the conference: "Celebrating Evangelization: The Mission of the Church," "Celebrating Initiation: The RCIA Process and Evangelization," and "Praying With the Church: Living a Liturgical Spirituality." All three presentations seem to have been well-received.

I'm genuinely grateful to have been asked to be part of this great conference and am thrilled to have had so many attend my talks. It was also nice to be able to represent Abbey Press at this event, as well. Good people doing good Church. What more can I say?

This week will see me fly to Milwaukee for some personal time. More on that later.

For now, here is my reflection on this Sunday's Gospel.

This Sunday we are given the story of this blind beggar who seems to be able to see what the apostles cannot. In fact the physical healing of Bartimaeus is a powerful reminder that when we open ourselves to God’s grace, we can be healed of that blindness of spirit that sometimes prevents us from following Jesus with freedom and joy, which is an important part of discipleship.

To read the full reflection, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

"Drinking the Cup": The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This has been a crazy week. I was in Dallas early in the week providing two workshops on the history and values of the RCIA (from the perspective of discipleship) and, after returning to Los Angeles late Wednesday evening, I led a mini-retreat celebrating Mercy on Thursday evening. I'm grateful that all three events went well and were each was a time of blessing.

However, the Church's calendar keeps marching on and, so, I'm happy to share my reflections on this Sunday's Gospel.

14th century Crucifixion from
the Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba in Alseno, Italy

The Church's calendar continues to move forward, however, and I'm happy to share my reflections on this Sunday's Gospel.

Jesus lived his life for others, offering everyone he encountered an opportunity for a new kind of relationship with God and with those around him. Everything in the life of Jesus—his friendships, his teachings, and his miracles—were signs of God’s unlimited mercy and compassion. And all of these came together in the moment when he held nothing back, offering himself to God on the Cross. As “a ransom for many,” Jesus won freedom for everyone who was enslaved by sin and death.

To read the full reflection, click here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Inside and Out

Happy to share this reflection, which was published for today in Give Us This Day from Liturgical Press.

To read today's Mass Readings, click here.

In his Rule, St. Benedict is very clear that monks are to avoid any semblance of private ownership: “without an order from the abbot, no one may presume to give, receive, or retain anything as his own, nothing at all” (ch. 33). This challenging teaching gave rise to a number of practices in monasteries, including monks or nuns of times past referring to “our habit,” “our cell,” or “our book,” as a reminder that all the goods of the community were shared among the members.  

St. Benedict went so far as to call private ownership an “evil practice” because he recognized how easy it is for us to focus our attention on things and lose sight of life-giving relationships. This is why he was so insistent that the monks should “look to the father of the monastery” for the necessities of day to day living and ministry.  

Today’s Readings also have something to say about our relationship with created things. Whether we are talking about household goods or our own bodies, the temptation to focus on externals at the expense of what really matters is always there. Having the right perspective requires humility and trust in God’s Providence
Like Benedict's, we're called to cultivate a humble awareness of our place in creation, including our responsibilities as stewards of the created world. Humility also includes the realization that we are capable of making gods of the very things that should be serving and enriching our lives. Our faith tells us that we can rely on God for the things that we truly need. But it also challenges us to recognize that everything we have is a gift--and that we should always be willing to share those gifts with others. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

What More Is Required?: The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Below is the link to my reflection on this Sunday's Gospel and First Reading.

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler
by Heinrich Hoffman
Like Saint Francis and Blessed Teresa, the young man of today’s Gospel is faced with an opportunity and a choice. Already a righteous, faithful man, he seems to recognize that something more was being asked of him. Perhaps it was a sense that simply keeping the commandments wasn’t enough or he might have seen the joy in Jesus’ closest followers and wanted that for himself. Regardless of the reason, he approached Jesus and asked what more was required of him and Jesus clearly told him the cost of being a disciple: let go of everything that was holding him back from giving himself completely to God.

We can understand the man’s frustration and confusion. Although he had always observed the commandments, “he went away sad, because he had many possessions.” Jesus was asking him to shift his focus from earthly possessions and concerns to the things of God.

To read the full reflection, click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Lesson of Our First Parents: The Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Although I'm taking a few days of vacation, I still wanted to share my reflection on this Sunday's Readings, especially as we enter into the Synod on the Family on October 4.

The Creation of Eve
by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel

As Pope Francis observed in Saturday’s Festival of Families, however, “Man and woman, through the astuteness of the devil, learned to separate themselves from one another. And all the love that God gave was almost lost. In a brief period of time, the first crimes, the first fratricide, brother killed a brother; the first war.” Damage was done and the beauty and simplicity of that first relationship was lost. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

To read the full reflection, click here.

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