Mary- Good News for December 8

8 12 2009

On the feast of the Immaculate Conception let’s think of the Mother of Our Lord.

Winter Miracle at St. Mary’s

Climbing Back – Good News for Holy Saturday

11 04 2009

A Letter to the Romans (Paul) 6:3-11:

Brothers and sisters,

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

The Daily Path: Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my commitment to return to Jesus’ table as a practicing Catholic. I won’t share the complete chronicle of events in the days leading up to Easter 2008, but my commitment was cemented on that “Holy Weekend”.

Work obligations forced me to miss the traditional three hour Good Friday devotion, but for some reason I really wanted time to reflect on Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice. I was inspired to go to the campus of St. Mary’s college where for some months I had been praying in the chapel. As I drove onto campus I saw the large white cross that sits on the green hilltop above. I decided to climb that hill and try to experience at least a tiny bit of what Jesus felt on the way to Golgatha and his crucifixion. I parked my car and headed straight up the face of the hill discovering it wasn’t as easy as it looked from down in the parking lot. It must have been a comical sight for any student watching outside their dorm to see this “old guy” in slacks and tie slipping all the way up the steep face.

As I slowly made my way up the hill, growing ever muddier and increasingly winded with each step, my silent prayers became more audible through my huffing and puffing. When I finally reached the top I was rewarded with a magnificent view of the surrounding valleys and hills that I had never seen before. (This was just the first of many new vistas that I would come to see in the next year) I recall kneeling down in the mix of damp, rocky soil at the base of the cross and praying harder than I had ever prayed in my life up to that point. I can’t tell you how or exactly when, but it was in those moments that I returned to the threshold of Our Lord.

Eventually, I made my way back down… this time following the easy fire trail that runs up behind the hill. That path was there all along but, like many things in my life back then, I didn’t see it. I’m still glad I took the hard way to climb the hill. It’s probably a reflection of my life in taking the longer road back to God. 

On Easter Sunday we went to Mass as a family at the church where I was baptized, St. Joseph’s Basilica in Alameda. As I listened to the sermon of Fr. Paul Minnehan, I knew in my heart that it was time to fully return to the Church. The next Sunday found me at St. Monica’s Church in Moraga, where once again the Holy Spirit touched me through the words of our pastor Fr. Wayne Campbell. That was when I knew this most prodigal of sons was back at the table with Christ.

As the late Paul Harvey would say, that’s “the rest of the story.”

Room to Chat: Lord, every day in his young life, Michael has climbed the hard road to Golgatha. Please help him to find an easier road to You. (See Room to Chat: Come Out – Good News for March 29)

The Greatest – Good News for March 18

18 03 2009

She intuitively obeys God’s law and teaches her children…

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

The Daily Path: Jesus asks us to “obey and teach” God’s law.

When I was suddenly called back to Christ, it was a bit of a shock to my wife. She had no background in any faith while growing up. Her only exposure to Catholicism had been as a student at St. Mary’s College. To her credit she wanted to learn about the Catholic faith and see what my re-conversion was all about. 

For the better part of the past year Anne has been in the “inquiry phase” of RCIA at our parish. For those of you unfamiliar with the Catholic Church, RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. In a nutshell, it’s a weekly Catechism class with insights to the Catholic faith, church rituals and way of life. The inquiry phase provides anyone interested in becoming a Catholic the opportunity to participate in RCIA, and by doing so, learn more. Despite the fact that Tuesday night is the most impacted night of the week for Anne, she faithfully attends the weekly meetings. 

I bring this up because in her I see a living example of Christ’s teaching in today’s Gospel. Here is a woman who isn’t Catholic. Until recently she had no real faith experience. She has a million other things to do in her hectic life but attends RCIA every week, drives the kids to faith formation classes, gets out of bed each Sunday to attend Mass with her family, and every night says bedtime prayers with the kids, leading them in what we call “God Blesses” (asking God to bless all the members of our family by name)… even our 2-year old who is eagerly sounding out words and building her vocabulary. 

I marvel at this amazing woman who I love deeply. A woman who in so many ways lives a life more faithful to Christ’s teachings than I do. She intuitively obeys God’s law and teaches her children and husband by example. I think she’ll ultimately be called among the “greatest” in His Kingdom.

Room to Chat: If you have a second today, please ask God to take care of His most faithful teacher and the precious cargo she carries. Friday is baby delivery day!

March Madness – Good News for March 17

17 03 2009

It’s a guaranteed trip to the Final Four…

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

The Daily Path: We are now in the midst of what is know as March Madness. The college basketball season is building to a crescendo with its tournament to decide the national champion. Teams like St. Mary’s College work hard all season to get to the Big Dance. Most of the basketball experts believed that coach Randy Bennett’s Gaels deserved to be selected for the 64 team field. On Sunday, the team along with hundreds of friends, family and other students gathered together to watch the televised tournament selection announcement. Unfortunately, St. Mary’s was not chosen despite an outstanding 26-6 record. The players were crestfallen. For some, this was there last shot at the tournament. Years of sweat and dedication would not be rewarded to its fullest. 

As I thought about the disappointment felt by our local heroes, I also reflected on God’s promise to each of us. Christ tells us that if we work hard to live a life that is pleasing to God, we will be selected for the Biggest Dance of all. Even if we pick up some losses along the road, our sweat and determination will earn us a spot alongside God in the Kingdom of Heaven. No experts other than God will determine our worthiness to play. It’s a guaranteed trip to the Final Four… Father, Holy Spirit, Son and… YOU.

(Note: Despite their exclusion from the NCCA tournament, the Gaels were rewarded with a trip to the prestigious NIT (National Invitational Tournament) and a #2 seed. Congrats to Coach and all the Gaels on a great season!)

Room to Chat: Find a moment today to ask St. Patrick to drive the snakes out of your heart. Be safe today.

Our Mother – Good News for December 12

12 12 2008

Luke 1:39-47

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” 

The Daily Path: Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I encourage you to read the story of Our Lady’s appearance in 1531 to a native by the name of Juan Diego near Mexico City. She is the patroness of North America and protector of the poor and needy.

Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus, has played an important role in my life since my parents offered me up to Her as an infant. I often visit the Chapel at St. Mary’s College for contemplation and prayer. My favorite place to do so is in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On numerous occasions, in the quiet peace of the chapel, I’ve asked Our Lady to carry my prayers to Her Son on my behalf. I know that some of these prayers have been answered. 

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you. You are blessed among women. And blessed is your Son, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, please pray for this sinner and all sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.