The Price Of Righteousness: Mark 6:14-30


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

I’ve often thought, would I have become a Christian, if I’d known what all it entailed? The short answer is yes, because I haven’t renounced my faith or turned away from God. But there are times (like now) when I seriously think of throwing in the towel for the seeming injustices in my life, yet Peter’s words hauntingly return to me, “To whom shall we go?” [Jn. 6:68]

John the Baptist followed God. He did and said all that God had given him to say and do. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who He was, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) With all the righteousness and truth in his life, he suffered the death of a criminal.

It seems John had not only been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He pointed out the specific sin of Herod and Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife.

You can not tell the story of Christianity without recounting the deaths of those who told the truth….. and died.

God gives us His Spirit for strength in this journey, I know that, and yet I feel abandoned, though I know I’m not.

When John the Baptist was in prison we see that he sent some of his disciples to Jesus, to ask Him, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

We all have bouts with doubts in our faith, but this is starting to take a toll on me. Please pray for me my brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith.

Amen.

Vatican declares Knights of Columbus founder “venerable”


New Haven, CT – March 16, 2008   Pope Benedict XVI Saturday approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The pope’s declaration significantly advances the priest’s process toward sainthood and gives the parish priest the distinction of “Venerable Servant of God.” If canonized, Fr. McGivney would be the first American born priest to be so honored.

“All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals.”

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., Aug. 12, 1852, Michael Joseph McGivney, was the first of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney’s 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. His parents, natives of Ireland, had immigrated to the United States during the 19th century. Patrick was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where Michael himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he realized a calling to the Catholic priesthood. After studying in several seminaries, he was ordained in that Baltimore’s historic Cathedral by Cardinal James Gibbons Dec. 22, 1877. He took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 2, 1878. Father McGivney was named pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. in 1884. He became seriously ill with pneumonia in January 1890, and died Aug. 14, 1890 at age 38.

The cause, or process, for Father McGivney’s sainthood, was opened by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000, where it has been under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With the pope’s recent decree, and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney’s intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle would be required for canonization.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic Fraternal Organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.

5 Finger Prayer


Here is a simple way, to help you pray, more effectively, everyday!

  1. Our thumb is nearest to us. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember.
  2. Our next finger is our pointer. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.
  3. The next finger is the middle which is also the tallest. Let it remind us to pray for our leaders. For our president, governor and mayor. Leaders in business and industry and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.
  4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact, that it is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. Let this remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our prayers day and night. We can never pray too much for them!
  5. Lastly comes our little finger; the smallest of all. This is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and to others. So, our pinkie should remind us to pray for ourselves. By the time we have prayed for the other four groups, our own needs will be put into proper perspective and we will be able to pray for ourselves more effectively.

Thank you Father Ken Gehling, for sharing this with us!

Top 10 Parenting Tips Found In The 10 Commandments


I found this online, link to the whole article here:

10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”

Question for parents: Am I grateful for the life I have, the family I have, the home I have, and the faith I have?

Lesson for kids: On any given day, look for something in your life to be grateful for. Always be grateful for what you have.

9. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife/husband.”

Question for parents: Do I think of my spouse as my one and only lover and accept all aspects of my spouse?

Lesson for kids: Married couples show total commitment to each other and accept each other.

 

8. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

Question for parents: Am I honest in dealings and communications with my family, community members, parish and co-workers?

Lesson for kids: If parents speak the truth with others, and about others, children will see how honesty and respect are practiced. This can be reinforced as they develop relationships with family and friends.

 

7. “Thou shalt not steal.”

Question for parents: Do I refrain from choosing to steal or from cheating in financial transactions?

Lesson for kids: Honesty is the best policy and stealing is wrong.

 

6. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Question for parents: Do I stay faithful to my spouse in body and mind? Do I tell jokes or laugh at jokes that demean the institute of marriage?

Lesson for kids: If a marriage is filled with respect and commitment, they will see what that looks like and how it is done. More importantly, if parents keep this commandment, their children and spouses will never experience the conflict and pain that being unfaithful can create.

5. “Thou shall not kill?”

Question for parents: Do I keep this commandment and also not allow one’s self and children to watch murder related television shows or play violent video games that promote players to “kill” images on the screen?

Lesson for children: The influence of watching violent behavior is negative, and though a popular pastime in our culture, can and should be avoided.

4.”Honor thy father and thy mother.”

Question for parents: Do I speak of and to my parents with respect, spend time with them and offer them help?

Lesson for kids: If they see your parents shown love and respect, they will learn how to do the same for you, and other people as well.

 

3. “Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s day.”

Question for parents: Do I attend church on the weekend, spend time in positive activities, take a rest and not obsess or work extra hours (not scheduled)?

Lesson for kids: Go to Mass once a week and make Sunday an extra special day by sharing the time and activities with family and friends.

2. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

Question for parents: Do I choose not to take the Lord’s name in vain and not use offensive language?

Lesson for kids: Taking the Lord’s name in vain, swearing and offensive language are not spoken in the home and are not acceptable behaviors.

1. “I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”

Question for parents: Do I honestly have faith in God, and place him at the center of my life?

Lesson for kids: Through words and actions children can see what living a life looks like based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, and can learn how to then teach their own children. Children will also be able to feel the strength of their parents’ faith.

Lenten Reflection Week 1: Luke 23:34


Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Just picture it; Jesus, after having been scourged  and made to carry His own cross to “the place of the Skull” [Golgotha in Aramaic, Kranion in Greek, and Calvary in Latin] prays this prayer to The Father.

In physical pain, unimaginable to most of us, He can ask for the forgiveness for His murderers.

How are we at this? Can we pray a prayer like this in our situation in life, or do we let circumstances override our relationship with God? Can we ask for the forgiveness of those who have hurt us, stolen from us unjustly accused us of….whatever? Can we even grant forgiveness ourselves?

In many way, if we are honest with ourselves, we know we fall way short in this area. As Christians, we should knowthat we are called “to share in the sufferings of Christ” (Phil.3:10) and to “bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not” (Rom.12:14). Yet we, in our pride [maybe?] and in our selfishness, think “I deserve better” and plot our revenge; we do not bless – we curse and never lift a prayer for our persecutors.

Have we become so callous as Christians as to not live by the words of our Lord, thinking He’d understand? Well, He won’t!

As Matthew 6:12 clearly states: and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church expounds on in paragraphs 2840- 2842:

Now—and this is daunting—this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.
This petition is so important that it is the only one to which the Lord returns and which he develops explicitly in the Sermon on the Mount. This crucial requirement of the covenant mystery is impossible for man. But “with God all things are possible.”

. . . as we forgive those who trespass against us

This “as” is not unique in Jesus’ teaching: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. Then the unity of forgiveness becomes possible and we find ourselves “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave” us.

So, during this Lenten Season, let us reevaluate our relationship with God through Christ, by examining our relationships with others – in particular our forgiveness toward one another.

Here are a few more verses for us to reflect on:

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt. 5:10-12

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, Matt. 5:44

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. Matt. 14-15

                 Here is a Lenten prayer that we can pray as well:

Dear God, show us Your Face. Help us to listen, see, touch, taste and smell our way to You. In Your presence, You love us completely and all the wounds that life has inflicted on us close up. Teach us courage, so that we may hold fast to that which is good; and not render evil for evil. God, grant us Your gracious mercy and protection. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Amen.

Next Up….


A Lenten reflection series. The seven sayings of Christ from the cross.

Hopefully, this series will prepare our hearts for repentance and increase our joy at the Easter Celebration!

The first installment will be next week (2/4); “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

By Whose Authority?:I Peter 5:1-14


So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, (overseeing) not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters. And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: “God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen. I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

In this section of sacred Scripture, Peter addresses the presbyters. I noticed in researching this, the actual word in the Greek language is presbuteros. In short, this word carries with it a connection with Jewish religious leadership; the Sanhedrin. In Matthew 23:2, Jesus references this style of leadership: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. This word chair (also seat in some translations) is the Greek word kathedra. We as Catholics see the connection instantly with the authority of the office of Moses in the Old Testament, and with that of the authority of the office of Peter in the New Testament.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism. This fulfillment is called Christianity. Would Jesus really tell us to toss the baby out with the bath water? I doubt it. There was already a hierarchical system in place. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraphs 1539-1541:

The chosen people was constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But within the people of Israel, God chose one of the twelve tribes, that of Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service; God himself is its inheritance. A special rite consecrated the beginnings of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. The priests are “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”
Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifices and prayer, this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.
The liturgy of the Church, however, sees in the priesthood of Aaron and the service of the Levites, as in the institution of the seventy elders, a prefiguring of the ordained ministry of the New Covenant. Thus in the Latin Rite the Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:
    God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .
    by your gracious word
    you have established the plan of your Church.From the beginning,
    you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.
    You established rulers and priests,
    and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. . . 

 All this to say, our presbyters [priests] are here to lead us and we are to follow their example as they willingly oversee God’s flock. Peter reminds them that upon their faithful service, they will receive the unfading crown of glory when the Chief Shepherd is revealed.

Peter then turns to us, the flock [the younger members] and commands us to be subject to the presbyters. With all due respect to the sacred Scriptures, he doesn’t say “be subject to the Scriptures” but to the presbyters. They are assigned to us by God through His Church the “pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15).

This submission to the truth can only come about as we choose to clothe ourselves with humility. It is so easy to hide behind scripture as my only authority. After all, my relationship with God is my own business…right? Wrong! My relationship with God is personal, but it should never be private; especially to those in my own community. If we won’t humble ourselves God opposes us. If we do [humble ourselves] He bestows favor on us, and will exalt us in due time. God knows humility hurts, He experienced it on the cross. So cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

We must also be sober [straightforward in character] and vigilant [watchful] for the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. So what do we do? Resist him! As we learned in the James study, Whose Lover Are You?:

By allowing God’s Spirit to work within us we submit ourselves to God. If we think to highly of ourselves, God will resist us; “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” When we submit to God (give Him the authority over our lives) several things happen. He bestows a greater grace because of our humility. With this greater grace we are also able to resist the devil, assured that when we do, he (the devil) will flee from us! How amazing is that grace!

We are not alone; there are others suffering all over the world; but we must remember the God of all grace… will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little. The Holy Spirit through Peter, wants us to read, listen and hear these words; this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it.

So this week, let us submit to the presbyters who oversee us willingly and not by constraint, not for shameful profit but eagerly, for they are our examples to follow. Being humble in spirit before God and His Holy Church, as well as being sober and vigilant; steadfast in faith, to the God of all grace.

Amen.