Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Skeletons & Saints & Sweets, Oh My!

So Halloween is a Catholic holiday!  Who knew?
Read all about the Catholic origins of Halloween,
and its connections to All Saints' Day
(that Holy Day of Opportunity November 1st!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm a Little Tea Cup (in the hands of the Potter)

There was a couple who took a trip to England to shop in a beautiful antique store to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups.

Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked "May we see that? We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful."

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke, "You don't understand. I have not always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, "Don't do that. I don't like it! Let me alone," but he only smiled, and gently said, "Not yet."

Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was made to suit himself and then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. "Help! Get me out of here!" I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, "Not yet."

When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! "Ah, this is much better," I thought.

But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. "Oh, please, stop it, stop, I cried." He only shook his head and said, "Not yet."

Then suddenly he puts me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering, "What's he going to do to me next?"

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said, "Look at yourself." And I did. I said, "That's not me. That couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful!"

Quietly he spoke: "I want you to remember. I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you'd have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you."
 The moral of this story is this: God knows what He's doing for each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will.

So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to "stink", try this.

Brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest tea cup, sit down and think on this story and then, have a little talk with the Potter. -Anonymous 

Photo Credit 1, 2

Monday, October 29, 2012

He Healed the Darkness

David Haas’ song He Healed the Darkness (available on his albums Give Me Jesus and Glory Day) captures the joy of the blind beggar Bartimaeus, whose faith brings him healing and a new path.  To hear this song, click here, then click on the “play” arrow.

He healed the darkness of my mind
the day he gave my sight to me;
It was not sin that made me blind ;
It was no sinner made me see.
Let others call my faith a lie,
or try to stir up doubt in me;
Look at me now! None can deny
I once was blind but now I see
Ask me not how!
But I know who has opened up new worlds to me;
This Jesus does
what none can do
I once was blind but now I see

Photo credit:  Eustache Le Sueur (1617-1655), Jésus guérissant l'aveugle de Jéricho, Berlin, Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Château de Potsdam-Sans Souci
Song credit (Myspace)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sunday Gospel Reflection: October 28th 2012

Mark 10:35-45

In today’s Gospel we read about a young blind man named Bartimaeus who hears that Jesus is walking past him and starts crying out to Jesus, ‘have pity on me’. The people around him tell him to stop making such a scene and to be quiet, but he continues to call to Jesus. Upon hearing Bartimaeus Jesus called him over and asked him ‘what do you want me to do for you?’ Bartimaeus replies, ‘Master, I want to see’. Jesus responds, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you’, and immediately he received his sight.

Bartimaeus is a great role model for all of us. He was told to be quiet and not make a scene but sometimes doing what is right and being a follower of Jesus means upsetting some social norms and not being quiet! Bartimaeus had faith that Jesus could heal him and the courage to put himself out there to ask. Jesus promises us that ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Notice that in the Gospel Jesus does not heal him from his visibly obvious handicap right away, rather, Jesus waits for Bartimaeus to ask Him, to be honest and with himself and with Jesus. Each of us carries insecurities, fears, sufferings and experiences of brokenness. Our lower-self tells us to hide or bury these things (as if they go away!) but our higher-self, rooted in our identity as the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, invites us to offer them to Jesus with faith and confidence that He will transform brokenness into wholeness.


Throughout the whole world we 1 Billion+ Catholics are celebrating the Year of Faith where we are asked to reflect this year upon our own personal lives of faith and to experience a conversion to a deeper faith in Jesus. May we imitate Bartimaeus in approaching Jesus with faith and confidence and asking for what we need! For more information visit

This Week:
-What are the things that weigh on your heart or that you want Jesus to help you with? This week, pray each day for Jesus to help you praying “Jesus I trust in you”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Master, I want to see...

God’s mercy is a challenge to our vision. So is faith.  Do we trust in God’s vision?  Are we open to it?

Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, spreads his cloak so that passersby can throw alms onto it; the cloak is his assurance that he will be able to gather the coins even if he can’t see them.   But when Jesus and his disciples pass by him on their way out of Jericho, what does he do?  Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak, springs up, and comes to Jesus.  Abandoning his former life, and, along with it, his dependence on the charity of the world, blind Bartimaeus makes a beeline for Jesus, confident, trusting that this man can give him what no one else has managed to:  clear vision.

I want to see.  Bartimaeus is given physical sight, but he already has faith, the ability to go toward the unknown with confidence, open to God, trusting in God’s vision rather than in his own lack thereof.  And when Jesus restores to him the freedom to choose – Go on your way; your faith has healed you – what way does he choose?  The Way that is Jesus himself:  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way, into Jerusalem, where Jesus will show himself to be both priest and sacrifice.  And many more eyes will be opened.

Jesus is Bartimaeus’ guide; Jesus is his new cloak; 
Jesus is his deliverance and his consolation.  
Is he yours?

(Christ Healing the Blind Beggars of Jericho)
Louvre, Paris, France

This reflection is based on Fr. Pat's Thursday night Scripture class.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Believing in the Church

for more reflections and resources by Henri Nouwen visit

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sharing the Cup

As our readings this past Sunday remind us, Jesus, the ultimate Suffering Servant, came to demonstrate that we too can take death into ourselves, we too can share the cup, by opening our concern to the greater world, by embracing the will of God, by giving our life as an offering.

Sharing the cup can take on profound meaning when we spend time with the ill and the dying, for it means allowing the blessing that is their life to touch our own.  The story of Natalie, a volunteer with Heart's Home USA in Bangkok, Thailand, is a deeply moving account of the friendship that grew between this young American woman and a man whose illness demonstrated the need for mercy in our complicated world.  You can read it here.

Photo Credit
Link to story

Monday, October 22, 2012

What We Offer: The Cab Ride

Years ago, author Kent Nerburn had a small opportunity to serve.  It turned into a great moment he would never forget.  His story, adapted from his book Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace, begins:

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living.
It was a cowboy’s life, a gambler’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.
What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry.
Read more by clicking here.

Story credit
Photo credit

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pope Names 2 New American Saints Today!

Tens of thousands gather for a Canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square.
A celebration day that is near and dear to my own heart, today Pope Benedict XVI officially recognizes seven people as Catholic Saints, two of whom lived and cared for others in our own United States (and one who was martyred for his Catholic faith as a teenager!) One of the two Stateside Saints, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is a patron of ecology and a Catholic summer camp in Williamsburg, KS where I grew up learning to pray and play along with the more than 22,000 youth who went to Camp Tekakwitha over the years to celebrate our Catholic faith and the outdoors.

Read about the Canonization (from WashPo) and learn more about the lives of the saints

May we each live our own lives with heroic love, worthy of the call we have received by God, as living Saints praying and serving one another in joy! 

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

On October 21, 2012, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be canonized by Pope Benedict.  Kateri was born in the Native American village of Ossernenon (near Schenectady, New York) in the mid-17th century; her father was a Mohawk warrior, her mother, a Roman Catholic Algonquin.  Afflicted by smallpox, the disease which killed her parents and brother, Kateri bore the scars of the disease all her life. She converted to Catholicism as a teenager and was baptized at age 20, much to the dismay of many members of her tribe.  Dedicated to the faith, she left her village to join a Jesuit mission village near Montreal, Canada, where she devoted her life to care of the sick and the elderly.  She was also known for her chastity, and is said to have put thorns on her sleeping mat, lying on them while praying for the conversion of her kinsmen.  She died at age 24, and has long been known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," a traditional symbol of purity and chastity. She will be the first female Native American saint; her feast day is July 14.

Photo source

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 21st 2012: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Mark 10:35-45

In today’s Gospel two of Jesus’ Apostles, James and John, say to Jesus, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you. What a bold question to ask! Jesus, our loving God who knows each of us and knows what is best for us replies lovingly, what do you wish me to do for you? Jesus was sent by the Father to serve others and to show others the path to Heaven that comes from uniting themselves to Jesus. What James and John ask for, however, is not something that Jesus can give. They ask if they can sit at his right and left hand in Heaven, if they can have the place of honor next to Jesus. Instead of being focused on others they are focused on only themselves. Yet Jesus does not even deny James and John this request because Jesus wants each of us to share in the abundance of God’s love and goodness, rather, He simply asks James and John if they are ready to follow Him and share in His life, both in the good moments and the difficult ones.

Following in the example of Jesus is not easy or conventional, it is radical. Jesus shows us a radical, self-giving love by serving others in every moment of life regardless of ethnicity, religion, or social status. To follow Jesus is to listen to his words to the Apostles at the Last Supper instituting a ritual meal after he knelt down to wash their feet: this is my body given up for you, do this in memory of me. When we listen to these words at Mass we believe that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is made present among us in the Eucharist. As the priest blesses and lifts up the bread and the wine saying do this in memory of me we should look to the crucifix in the church and recall the last days of Jesus’ life from the Last Supper through his death and resurrection. Each time we say Amen and receive the Eucharist we affirm our belief that we are the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God and that we are willing to live up to our identity and calling to follow Jesus through His Paschal Mystery (life, death, resurrection) in our own lives.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
-How do I respond when I have pain, frustration or suffering in life?
-How does trying to live like Jesus change my understanding of suffering or sacrifices in my life?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

He gives his life as an offering...

What does it mean to die to self?

Well, in this Sunday’s Gospel, James and John haven’t quite figured that out yet.  They have the nerve to ask Jesus for seats at his right and left hands in heaven; they are looking for favoritism and glory.  What they (and the other disciples) still fail to recognize is that Jesus came to bring salvation to all, not just to some; that it’s not about glory for a few special people, but about Jesus’ followers sharing the cup that Jesus drinks.  And what cup is that?  Well, this is where the dying to self comes in, because the cup is our willingness to serve, to give up our desires for the needs and will of others:  whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant. 

Jesus, the ultimate Suffering Servant (Isaiah), came to demonstrate that we too can take death into ourselves, we too can share the cup, by opening our concern to the greater world, by embracing the will of God, by giving our life as an offering.  Jesus did just this on a grand scale, accepting to die for our sins, so that we might have eternal life.  Fully divine but also fully human, tested in every way, Jesus sympathizes with our weakness (Hebrews).  But in so doing, he also teaches us what it means to have faith and confidence in God’s will, even when we don’t understand it, even when we have to suffer for it.  Being a servant of God means entering into God’s vision; faith is a challenge.  But if we have confidence, if we truly believe that upright is the word of the Lord, and all his works are trustworthy (Psalm 33), then even that which makes us suffer, even that which leads us to die to self, can give us hope, hope for that light in the fullness of days that is heaven, perfect union with God, with all.

This reflection is based on notes from Fr. Pat's Thursday Scripture class.
Photo credit