Body and Blood of Christ / Scripture
Us after every Mass
Body and Blood of Christ / Scripture
Feast of Holy Trinity
Caps / Wilson
In the name of the Caps
In the name of Father, Son, Holy Spirit
Identity / dignity stripped
Fight with others
Life w Trinity started at Baptism
Life itself / Grace
Fight for it in ourselves
God in communion
What does it take to believe that something is real? We live in an age of computer technology complete with things like Photoshop and other programs that can enhance photographs, create realistic images, and mimic artistic renderings. When looking at a picture of something, we find ourselves wondering if what we are seeing is real or just the result of technological creativity. Early believers came to believe because of what they witnessed in these new communities of faith. They saw people authentically living out Jesus’ command to love and to show mercy. What do people witness when they see us in action?
The hope of being transformed or transfigured into the image of God awaits all of God’s children. We walk through this life knowing that our eternal destiny is to be like God and live eternally in his presence. How does this truth about who we can become change the way we live today? Does it even matter to us that we are called to a higher purpose that is often quite different than the one we fabricate for ourselves here on earth? A transformed, eternal life is God’s desire for all of his daughters and sons. Knowing this helps us put suffering in perspective and walk peacefully with hope in our hearts.
When I was first in parish work, I remember the parish priest talking with the schoolchildren about the topic of Lent and prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. He asked them if any of them knew what fasting was. After a very long wait, one student raised his hand and said, “It is what I do when my Mom is mad at me. I run really fast!” The adults in the assembly burst into laughter.
Laughter is good. However, the Lenten devotions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are very serious practices for us as we prepare to celebrate the Easter mysteries.
As our catechumens prepare for the Easter sacraments, we are called by the Church to model what it means to be a Catholic Christians. We are called, especially during this Lenten season, to pray, fast, and give from the wealth we have to those who need our assistance.
This season is not merely a season of obligation to act more intently as God calls us to act; it is a season of opportunity to practice the foundation of our faith more attentively: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.
“How can I hear God?” One woman asked this with some exasperation at Bible study when we discussed today’s first reading (Sam 3) of Samuel hearing the voice of God. It is a question to which we all want the answer. Every day. St. Teresa of Avila taught that “Jesus is always speaking to us; the question is, are we listening?” If we are men and women who pray daily, read and meditate on Scripture regularly, and come into the Real Presence of the Lord in Adoration, then we are listening. Of course, these are not the only ways to hear God, but they are the best.
To that point, we will increase our hours of Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays starting in Lent. I will explain the significance of this for us as a parish in the days ahead. For each of us, it will provide a tremendous opportunity to hear God. The first time in my life that I heard the voice of God was when I started praying in Adoration. I promise you that God will reward whatever time you give to adore Jesus, and it very well might be an experience of hearing Him.
I thought that the words of another priest would help would be more beneficial when it comes to hearing God. So, here is a good reflection by Fr. Killian J. Healy at www.catholicexchange.com. See you at Wednesday Adoration!
May you know the peace of Christ,
God does not have to use external words and signs to attract our attention and convey ideas to us. He enters our minds directly. He speaks secretly, noiselessly, as befits the Divinity. It is only by faith that we know He is working in us. For example, God once spoke in a special, hidden way to St. Peter, who then confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona,” said our Lord. “For flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father in Heaven.”
St. John tells us that we will know all things from the Holy Spirit: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” St. Paul says that God enters our very thoughts: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”
God also enters our hearts and inspires us to holy desires. “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God, was listening; and the Lord touched her heart to give heed to what was being said by Paul.”
Thus, the Scriptures and the Church tell us that God speaks to us in the silence of our minds and hearts. He speaks to all men, but all men do not hear Him. God speaks to our mind and heart when we kneel to meditate or to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He enters our mind when the passing things of time excite our thoughts. It is He who gives us holy thoughts to conquer our temptations. It is He who stirs up within us the desire to persevere against all adversaries.
Perhaps we have never realized that God is illuminating our intellect and inspiring our will. Yet He does just that. That is why we are told not to do all the talking in prayer. For, if we continually recite vocal prayers without pausing now and then to think, we will stifle the thoughts and desires that God wishes to excite in us.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux tells us how she listened to the voice of God. “I know and have experienced that ‘the Kingdom of God is within us,’ that our Master has no need of books or teacher to instruct a soul. The Teacher of teachers instructs without sound of words, and though I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in upon me. As a rule, it is not during prayer that this happens, but in the midst of my daily duties.”
But we are not only to listen; it would be folly to remain in a state of mental blankness, waiting for God to speak. No, prayer is a loving conversation, and, when the Holy Spirit moves us, it is time to begin our part of the colloquy.
One way, then, to practice the exercise of the presence of God is to listen to God, to be aware that He speaks to us, to be ever conscious that God can use all things to communicate with us.
Can you write your story of faith? This was a question I recently asked a friend as we were discussing our journeys with the Lord. She pondered it, and then thought it would be hard mainly because she didn’t know exactly how she came to be a devout Catholic. She kind of laughed at herself while she was saying this, and it might seem humorous to us, too. But, some in our own congregation might have the same thought: how exactly did I come to really believe in and follow the Lord? Today’s feast of the Epiphany might help to pinpoint exactly the struggle for my friend or anyone else. What was our epiphany about the Lord and when did we have it?
When we talk about the Epiphany, we are referring to the outward manifestation of the Lord to the Magi and to the world. He is revealed to them as the Christ, and they “come to do him homage”. Their epiphany occurred through a star which led them to the baby Jesus. They were “overjoyed” during this experience, and gave treasures to the Lord of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When we hear that they “departed for their country by another way” , we can interpret it as this event changed their lives. This would be the starting point in their stories of faith.
I have described to you my journey of faith in homilies, but I don’t think I’ve written it here in any great detail. Please forgive me if I have! My epiphany happened with the Eucharist. My “star” was Msgr. Thomas Wells. And, it happened when I was 21 years old. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic schools through the first half of college. Even though I was taught Catholic doctrine at home and in school, not much sunk in the first 21 years of life. I was a clueless Catholic.
But, then, one day, Msgr. Wells and I were talking about the Eucharist. He said, “Greg, ‘this is my body’ means this is my body”. Epiphany! That was the first time I had really heard the teaching on the Real Presence. And, it blew me away. I had heard those words (“this is my body”) hundreds of times before at Sunday Mass, but they never really registered in my mind or heart. And then, after the one-sentence epiphany (or revelation), I saw everything differently: God, Mass, the Cross, the Church, Confession, and life. I began to “do him homage” at daily Mass and Adoration, and was having the same experience of being “overjoyed” as the Magi. Of course, this all changed my life as it did theirs.
In talking to many people for the past 25 years, I realize that not many can point to one moment – and certainly not one sentence – as their epiphany of who Jesus really is. For many, it has been engrained in them since childhood. They have always just believed. But, they have had a multitude of personal epiphanies about the Lord as Savior, Master, brother, friend, Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace, Healer, Divine Physician, etc. For others, the epiphany came as adults, and often in a way that Christ appeared to them in a personal way. That is really the underlying point to our epiphanies: an encounter with the living God in a person, Jesus Christ. Yes, the Magi were overjoyed at “seeing the star”, but only because it “stopped over the place where the child was”. They were so happy because they were encountering the Son of God. As much as I liked Msgr. Wells for 5 years before my epiphany, I didn’t find true joy until he led me to encounter the Son of God in the Eucharist. That’s when the Lord and faith became personal. That’s when an epiphany had taken place, thanks be to God.
So, here is the epiphany formula for the Magi and hopefully all of us:
Christ is born!
What is a blog site? This will hopefully become a frequent question at our parish because I want to start such a site here. Blog sites are all over the internet. They are websites where people become authors on different topics, and oftentimes others can leave comments in response. I have run two blog sites in the past, and they garnered a fair amount of traffic and commentary about church teachings, spiritual reflections, and world events. In some cases, the blog sites helped bring people back to the Church and sacraments. In all other cases, it was just good to engage people in an online community involving faith.
The way it will work is that we will establish a blogsite online and publicize the address for the site. I will post my thoughts, questions, and reflections; it will be similar material to what I write here. You and anyone else will be able to make comments or ask questions in relation to what I post, and even respond to other “bloggers” on the site. This is part of our family evangelization, so the big hope is that your family members will visit the site and even ask me questions. I will have them in mind when I post on prayer, forgiveness, sacraments, serving the poor, etc.
Here is an example of an actual exchange from years ago between two people who left comments on my post on Confession:
I kind of need a step before Confession. I am not ready to go to Confession and say that I have decided to ‘return’ and will try to go to Mass every Sunday.
Hey Kiwi, Confession is no big deal if I can do it anyone can. No one is going to judge you and you really feel like you are getting a load off of your shoulders. If you don’t want the priest to see you just go to the window side.
As you can see, people don’t need to leave their names. They can comment “anonymously”, but hopefully they grow out of that in time. Here are more examples of anonymous bloggers with some powerful comments:
Why does God have to be so elusive about communicating our callings? His silence can really be deafening. Why do we have to search and search and wait and wait? Please don’t tell me that God speaks to some people and not others.
Great news! My dad does not have cancer! It was a mix-up! I am so thankful to God!! What are the different ways we can show God our gratefulness?
Why do some people suffer so much and others only encounter minimal suffering? Life does seem “unfair!” Why do some people lose a child-the worst grief possible? I don’t think we will ever know the why on this side of heaven. When I am suffering, I stopped asking “why” and started asking “what.” What do you want me to do Lord? What is your will for me in this situation? The why question leaves me stuck in neutral because it is a mystery for now. The what question will help you to pick up your cross and walk with it.
There is some pretty good stuff here. I know and have experienced that there is some nasty stuff online, so please be assured that all comments are moderated. It will be a site of respect and class. And, hopefully, it will be one that will help to bring back the lost sheep of Assumption. Keep praying for that, please!
May you know the peace of Christ,
Fr. Greg Shaffer
3401 Martin Luther King Jr. AVE, SE
Washington, DC 20032
Fr. Greg Cell: 240-463-9960
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