Monday, April 30, 2012

You Are Mine

Perhaps no song so captures the intimate nature of the relationship God wants with us, the relationship Jesus the Good Shepherd promises us, than David Haas's hymn, "You Are Mine" (available on his CD of the same name).  Take five minutes and let its message fill your heart today (video above)...

I will come to you in the silence
I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear My voice
I claim you as My choice
Be still, and know I am near

I am hope for all who are hopeless
I am eyes for all who long to see
In the shadows of the night
I will be your light
Come and rest in Me

Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine

I am strength for all the despairing
Healing for the ones who dwell in shame
All the blind will see, the lame will all run free
And all will know My name

I am the Word that leads all to freedom
I am the peace the world cannot give
I will call your name, embracing all your pain
Stand up, now, walk, and live

Sunday, April 29, 2012


So what "fold" is Jesus talking about?  In the literal sense, a sheepfold, or just fold, is an enclosure for sheep, a pen, like the one in the image above.  At night, one of the shepherds would sleep in the opening of the fence, acting as a human gate.  Today, remembering Jesus as the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep, we use the word fold to refer to a group of people who share a common faith or belief.  To be part of the fold is to be confident in the intimacy of the divine embrace in which we are held close every day, enfolded in God's Love.

For more on the life of shepherds in first-century Palestine, go to Fr. Mark White's blog, the source of the image above.

April 29th 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

In today’s Gospel Jesus uses an analogy of being the good shepherd of his flock, the children of God. The good shepherd is not simply hired help but has a loving care for his sheep who in turn know their shepherd, can distinguish his voice among many different shepherds and together follow the shepherd faithfully. As Christian sheep we are called to…

1. Believe and accept in our hearts that God loves us beyond measure, that He is a good and loving Father and that we are His Beloved sons and daughters.

2. Listen to His voice. We hear so many voices pulling at us to do so many things that it can feel confusing and tiring. We need to find time each day to be quiet and to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who is guiding us and walking with us. This means concretely finding time for quiet away from music, TV, phone calls/texts, internet, etc. Only when we listen to the voice of God will we rediscover our true identity as the beloved sons and daughters of God and our mission to love God and others.

3. Flock together. Sheep flock together; we are created for community as the children of God to remember our identity and mission and to remind and encourage others that they too are beloved and sent by God to love others. This is the limit, and ultimately the fallacy, of being spiritual but not religious; it separates us from our family. We are created in the image and likeness of God as social animals to be in relationship with God (and others) who Himself is relationship (Father, Son, and Spirit). Within a concrete Christian community we read how St. Peter in today’s 1st reading was, as we are today, “filled with the Holy Spirit” to proclaim God’s love through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For 2000 years the followers of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist to become the Body of Christ to go forth to transform the world. This transformation does not happen on our own but through the Holy Spirit which is received and shared within the community, the mystical Body of Christ.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I know mine, and mine know me...

The modern world doesn’t hold shepherds in terribly high esteem:  their job is dirty and exhausting and perhaps even thankless.  Yet in the time of Jesus, shepherds were important; like David, they were both leaders and companions, offering guidance but also love and intimacy to their flocks.

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus the Good Shepherd reminds us that the intimacy he shares with the Father, he is also extending to us:  I know mine, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.  The relationship he is describing is not casual or superficial:  Jesus is willing to lay down his life for his sheep.  This bespeaks of a profound relationship grounded in God’s Love, a relationship open to all, if only we open our hearts to accept it.

God loved us into existence; God’s Love is what makes it possible for us to be called the children of God.  To embrace Christ’s presence, his death and rising, in our lives is to enter into that relationship, to embrace the fullness of the experience, to enjoy closeness with God.  It is a taste – but only a taste – of the perfect union that will be heaven, when there will be one flock, one shepherd.  And if Jesus the Good Shepherd is our companion, what might we be for one another, day to day, here on earth?

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we might be called children of God!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sent of Bored II?

Fulfilling a Mission

When we live our lives as missions, we become aware that there is a home from where we are sent and to where we have to return.  We start thinking about ourselves as people who are in a faraway country to bring a message or work on a project, but only for a certain amount of time.  When the message has been delivered and the project is finished, we want to return home to give an account of our mission and to rest from our labours.

One of the most important spiritual disciplines is to develop the knowledge that the years of our lives are years "on a mission." -Henri Nouwen

Sent or Bored?

Each of us has a mission in life.  Jesus prays to his Father for his followers, saying:  "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

We seldom realise fully that we are sent to fulfill God-given tasks.  We act as if we have to choose how, where, and with whom to live.  We act as if we were simply plopped down in creation and have to decide how to entertain ourselves until we die.   But we were sent into the world by God, just as Jesus was.  Once we start living our lives with that conviction, we will soon know what we were sent to do. -Henri Nouwen

Today, live your life as someone on a mission to do good, to transform the world, even in small quiet ways.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing

There are many ways of perceiving God’s presence in the world around us.  We see beauty with our eyes; we can also see beauty by seeing with the heart. 

Award-winning cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg’s TEDxSF talk reminds us that we find God in the beauty of our natural world, but we also need to open our hearts to fully appreciate the wonder of God’s blessings in our lives.

" life-giving water, if only you open your heart and drink."

Video credit (with thanks to Karlene for sending this video!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Peace of the Advocate

The Gospel of John often uses the word Paraclete (from the Greek) or Advocate (from the Latin) to describe one "called to our side," or "called to our aid," to console and comfort us, and most often, this word is associated with the Holy Spirit.  But in today's second reading (1 John 2: 1-5a), we are told that Jesus is also our Advocate, present at our side in the Peace he offers to his disciples in today's Gospel (Luke 24: 35-48) and to us today, whenever we call upon him.  

From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

peace (n.) Look up peace at
mid-12c., "freedom from civil disorder," from Anglo-Norm. pes, from O.Fr. pais (11c., Mod.Fr. paix), from L. pacem (nom. pax) "treaty of peace, tranquility, absence of war," from PIE *pak- "fasten," related to pacisci "to covenant or agree" (see pact). Modern spelling is 1500s, reflecting vowel shift.  Sense in peace of mind is from c.1200. Used in various greetings from c.1300, from Biblical L. pax, Gk. eirene, which were used by translators to render Heb.shalom, properly "safety, welfare, prosperity." 

Paraclete Look up Paraclete at
mid-15c., Paraclit, from Gk. parakletos “advocate, intercessor,” from parakalein “to call to one’s aid,” in later use “to comfort, console.”

advocate (n.) Look up advocate at
from L. advocatus "one called to aid; a pleader, advocate," originally pp. of advocare "to call" (as witness or advisor) from ad- "to" (see ad-) + vocare "to call," related to vocem (see voice). The verb is first attested 1640s, from the noun. Related: Advocatedadvocating.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 22nd: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19 and Luke 24:35-48

…of this we are witnesses

In this Sunday’s First reading we hear from St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles (in Easter the 1st Readings are taken from the life of the early Christians in the New Testament instead of the usual Old Testament stories). In his passionate speech to the Jewish people Peter is trying to convince the people of the Covenant (Jews) that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Covenants in the Old Testament and that in Jesus we have new life and a New Covenant relationship with God where He is no longer far off but intimate and near. This is the experience that the Apostles have in today’s Gospel as Jesus appears to them in the flesh, actually eating food with them to show that He is not a ghost, he has risen from the dead body and soul!

Peter’s rousing speech did not have to do with syllogisms or philosophical reasoning but something more powerful and just as true: witness. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. Peter’s passion was sourced from his personal experience of the Person of Jesus who is risen from the dead. This experience led to his preaching, founding Christian communities and ultimately to his own crucifixion in Rome. He believed so strongly that he was willing to give up his life instead of lie or hide his faith in Jesus.

As Christians living twenty centuries removed from Jesus of Nazareth walking this earth we too are called to claim this personal witness that is available to us even now. Where do we experience the personal experience of Jesus? Do you experience it at all?

In a few weeks we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the upper room. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the world that He might always be with us. Through Baptism and Confirmation the Holy Spirit dwells within us (sometimes we call this our conscience) and is as near to us as our breath (the word spirit means breath). We experience and find the presence of Jesus in all of creation (infants, sunsets, acts of love and service, etc.) and as Catholics in seven transformative and mysterious ways (the word Sacrament means mystery) that the Church identifies that the Holy Spirit comes to fill us with God’s grace/presence.

Just because Jesus comes to us in the Sacraments does not mean He is coming to us in a less real way. We are still called to be witnesses to Jesus Christ if we are willing to see Him with eyes of faith. This means we are called to (I) Find God’s presence/activity in our lives seeing with eyes of faith and (II) Proclaim that presence boldly with our actions and words.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Touch me and see...

After his Resurrection, Jesus appears several times to his disciples, and on nearly every occasion, they are troubled, frightened by the physical presence of Jesus before them.  The Resurrection is not an easy sell, and the disciples simply don’t “get it” right way.  In this week’s Gospel, Jesus asks, Why are you troubled?  They don’t know him by sight; he appears different to their eyes.  Even touching him is not enough – he has to eat food to prove that he is real.

What is Jesus really hoping for here?  In a sense, he is asking the disciples to accept what it is beyond their senses to perceive:  he is asking that they open the eyes of their hearts, so that they might know he is real, so that they might understand all that he has taught them.  But they don’t.  Depending on the eyes is so much easier than depending on the heart.  The disciples struggle, as do we.  Yet Jesus knows that the heart is stronger, and can see more clearly, if only it is open.  Open yourselves to this experience of my presence in your midst, he is telling them.  See me anew!

Humans mostly have nebulous experiences of the risen Lord.  We experience His love in different ways – but significantly, we do experience it.  God is revealed all the time; God’s revelation is constant.  It is up to us to be open to that revelation, to see God with the heart, and to appreciate his presence in our daily lives, whether it be in a sudden perception of startling beauty, in a kind gesture, or in the eyes of another human being.  Most significantly, perhaps, we let our hearts see Jesus present when we come together for Eucharist, growing in our capacity to let love define us, seeing others as God sees them, simply connecting with one another in this most communal of sacraments.  

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; 
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

To hear "James Dean" read the excerpt from The Little Prince from which the quote above was taken, view the video below: 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mount Carmel Teen Earns Hawk of the Week!

Aidan is the 6th Mount Carmel teen to earn Hawk of the Week this year and the first male! 
Congrats Aiden and all of our Mount Carmel teen student athletes!

Monday, April 16, 2012

What God has called me to do...

We are all called; do we choose not to move?
Or do we refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
to do what God has called us to do ourselves?

Sometimes I, I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not
This world needs God, but it's easier to stand and watch
I could pray a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong
But I Refuse
I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
I could choose not to move
But I refuse
I can hear the least of these, crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet of You, oh God
So if You say move, it's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
And show them who You are
I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
I could choose not to move
But I refuse 
I refuse to stand and watch the weary and lost cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back and try and act like all is well
I refuse to stay unchanged, to wait another day to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse
I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
I could choose not to move
But I refuse

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Anyone know why the hunchback of Notre Dame is called Quasimodo??

This Sunday's entrance antiphon is "Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem si gustastis quoniam dulcis Dominus," the beginning of which translates as, "Like newborn babes..." -- a reference to the newly baptized who, in the ancient church, wore their baptismal robes for the entire octave of Easter.  The day they took off their robes and deposited them in the cathedral treasury was the first Sunday after Easter, which became known as Quasimodo Sunday.  And Quasimodo was found by Claude Frollo on the steps of the church on that very day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 15th 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

John 20:19-31

Happy Easter from the Office of Religious Education!
We are an Easter people and our song is ALLELUIA! (St. Augustine)

Sunday Gospel Reflection (John 20:19-31)

4 take-a-ways from today’s Gospel:

1. Jesus meets us where we are at
When the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst”…they were terrified and in hiding, Jesus can get past any door or wall we put up or hide behind if we are open to seeing Him.

2. Jesus sends us forth
“The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”…Jesus has a plan for each one of us and sends us forth…do I believe that I am sent by God to do something amazing? Do I live my life as if I am sent forth? What am I sent forth by God to do?

3. Jesus sends us His Spirit so that His presence might always be with us in a concrete way
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” …it is from this passage (and many others) that we understand that: (I). Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to always be close to us and that (II) the Sacraments are the unique ways that Spirit is made present in our lives as we do the things that Jesus did/commanded  i.e. The Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession is given to us by Jesus. He speaks through the Bishops and Priests who Jesus Himself tasked to do this…we didn’t just make it up!

4. Jesus accepts us even when we are weak/confused/doubting
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.’"…we all have Thomas moments and Jesus still loves us. We want proof and want to see but are reminded by Jesus that “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." We have to retrain ourselves in an exclusively scientific world to remember that there is another reality, the Spirit/spiritual. This reality is similarly true but can only be seen with eyes of faith, the eyes of our hearts. Science isn’t built to measure this and so it says it doesn’t exist, but not using the right tool is a bad argument to ‘prove’ it doesn’t exist.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

As the Father has sent me...

Throughout the Easter Season, we hear readings from the Acts of the Apostles.  These are meant to remind us of how the Church formed after Jesus’ ascent into heaven, how a sense of community identity brought disparate individuals together so that they might be of one heart, and one mind, and so that they might go forth with a common mission.

The first disciples were not quite so sure of themselves.  In this week’s Gospel, they have locked themselves in their room out of fear of outside forces.  The post-Resurrection Jesus brings them peace – Shalom, he says, Peace be with you.  By breathing on them, Jesus is breathing life into the community, inviting them to open themselves God’s love in their lives, and to bring that love to the world:  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  One week later, Thomas, invited by Jesus to touch his wounds, has a radical conversion experience: My Lord and my God! he exclaims.  He, too, is now ready to go forth and proclaim the Good News.

This is the conversion we are called to as well, so that we, like the disciples, might bear witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We belong to one faith community; we come together to pray; we are sent forth (Ita missa est) to live in community.  Our awareness of belonging is part and parcel of the intimacy we share in Christ, the love that joins us to one another in Eucharist, so that we might love the children of God as we love God himself.  This is our charge:  to find a common identity in faith, and to engage in a common mission, because of that faith, namely, to bring the Spirit that is truth to the world by sharing the love of God with all we meet.

"Doubting Thomas," capital, Crypt of the Cathedral of Bayeux (11th c.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

On the third day, he rose again from the dead...


“To say, ‘I believe in Jesus Christ… who rose from the dead’ is to say… [that] I myself am ready to be transformed.  Once the Christ-life rises in me, I rise to new life as well…  Until we find ourselves with new hearts, more penetrating insights, fewer compulsions, less need for the transient, greater awareness of the spiritual pulse of life, resurrection has not really happened for us.  Jesus has risen but we have not.  Resurrection is about transfiguration.  Life as we once knew it, defined it, shaped it – if we really believe in the Risen Christ – rises redefined.  Transformation in any of us calls the rest of us to transformation.  Change changes everybody.  Relationships shift.  Expectations alter.  Insight deepens.  We begin to see as we have never seen before.”

Practice:  Life begins anew every morning when we wake.  Make it a practice this week to begin your day – before you even rise from bed – with a morning offering, a prayer for transformation throughout the day to come.  You might choose from one of the following:
  • Lord, one more day to love you! 
Brother Charles de Foucauld
  • Lord, today is the day I begin! 
St. Philip Neri
  • Jesus, shine through me and be so in me that every person I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. 
John Henry Cardinal Newman 

  • My God, send me thy Holy Spirit to teach me what I am and what thou art! 
St. John Vianney 

  • May the Passion of Christ be ever in our heart. 
St. Paul of the Cross 

  • And to be more with Him, more with Him, not merely with oneself. 
Pope John Paul II

Quotations from Benedictine sister Joan Chittister’s book In Search of Belief, which explores the Apostles’ Creed phrase by phrase, demonstrating how the Creed is not a static set of rules or statements, but a living document that speaks to the deepest meaning of our existence and serves as a life guide, calling all of us to engage more deeply in relationship with God and with each other.  Sr. Chittister’s thoughts challenge us to live the Creed more fully as Christians; her writing is thought-provoking and inspirational.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Resurrection of Christ

Hear artist Ron DiCianni explain the intricate details of his painting, The Resurrection of Christ (pictured in its entirety above; click on the link for a full screen view), the largest mural ever created of the central story of our faith -- a painting that shows the depth of one man's faith, and vision, a painting that captures the breadth of salvation history and the Love of God for humankind (video below).  It now hangs in the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas.