Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gratitude (Thomas Merton)

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. 

Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference. 

--Thomas Merton
(born January 31, 1915,
100 years ago today!)
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, February 1, 2015: All that I command him...

Who is in control here?

When, in our reading from Deuteronomy this Sunday, God tells Moses he will send prophets to communicate his will to the people, the answer to this question is quite clear:  God is the author of the Word and the authority behind it:  he shall tell them all that I command him.  And woe to the man who does not listen, and to prophet who tries to usurp the authority of the Almighty:  I myself will make him answer for it, God says.

In our Gospel text from Mark, Jesus – the Son of God – naturally speaks with the authority of his Father.  When he rebukes the unclean spirit who tries to drain his power by naming him (aloud!) the Holy One of God, Jesus’s authority is evident in all he does; the people exclaim:  What is this?  A new teaching with authority.  Like the unclean spirit, we sometimes challenge the authority of God over our lives; we struggle with our own demons:  our fears, our efforts to assert control, to assert ourselves over others and over our own life.  But the Lord calls us to surrender that control to God, to leave power where it belongs, so that if we have any authority at all, it is because God is at work in us.

Paul similarly asks the Corinthians to allow God to rule their lives, to remain singleminded about who is in control, exhorting them to adherence to the Lord without distraction.  In marriage or in the celibate life, God is there with you all along, in love – and we are to remain focused on the Lord, our endpoint, no matter what track our life has taken.  Psalm 95 suggests we do just this, first, through songs of praise and adoration:  to acclaim the rock of our salvation, to bow down in worship and kneel before him is to focus on the source of power in our midst before all else.  And most importantly, we must listen, we must hear his voice, because, whether we’ve recognized it or not, God is always the one in control, always the author (and authority) of all that we are, and all that we do.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jesus never imposes...

Jesus never imposes.  Jesus is humble.  Jesus extends invitations:  If you want, come.  The humility of Jesus is like this:  He always invites us.  He does not impose.

Jesus wants us free, and this freedom – where is it found?  It is to be found in the inner dialogue with God in conscience.  If a Christian does not know how to talk with God, does not know how to listen to God, in his own conscience, then he is not free – he is not free.

--Pope Francis, June 30, 2013

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

God's eyes fixed on you...

As often as you can during the day, recall your mind to the presence of God… Consider what God is doing, what you are doing.  You will always find God’s eyes fixed on you in unchangeable love.  Our hearts should each day seek a resting place on Calvary or near our Lord, in order to retire there to rest from wordly cares and to find strength against temptation.  Remember frequently to retire into the solitude of your heart, even while you are externally occupied in business or society.  This mental solitude need not be hindered even though many people may be around you, for they surround your body, not your heart, which should remain alone in the presence of God.  As David said, My eyes are ever looking at the Lord.  We are rarely so taken up in our exchanges with others as to be unable from time to time to move our hearts into solitude with God.

Happy Feast of St. Francis de Sales!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, January 25, 2015: Come after me...

There is nothing ordinary about responding to the call of Christ.

Our readings this Sunday all remind us that the process of conversion cannot be a one-time deal, but must instead be an ongoing, radical experience:  God calls us to turn to God daily!  Take the people of Ninevah, for instance.  Jonah is sent to call them to repentance and conversion:  Forty days more and Ninevah shall be destroyed, he tells them, and the people respond by turning from their evil way.  Their change of heart is practically immediate, their acceptance of the call to conversion radical in its focus.  Even Jonah is shocked (and even displeased!) by their sudden change of heart.  But God is abounding in kindness, and even Jonah must come to accept the radical conversion of a people he believed to be too evil to love God.

The fishermen Jesus meets in Mark’s Gospel are not evil men, yet they, too, are called by Jesus to radical conversion:  Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men, he tells them.  In an instant, their lives are redefined, as they leave their boats and follow Jesus, abandoning their livelihood and even their families to follow a man whose fundamental message is clear:  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul likewise calls the Corinthians to radical conversion:  time is running out, he tells them, so they must live life differently than before, because of the Gospel, the Good News Jesus came to proclaim.  Like the Corinthians, we are called to live as though we embraced the fullness of all God has give us, daily, to live for the love God has revealed, focused on the fullness of life that is the promise, daily.  It is the way or path celebrated in Psalm 25:  Your ways, O Lord, make known to me, Teach me your paths… To be guided in God’s truth is to live life humbly, giving constant praise to God for all that God grants us daily:  compassion, love, kindness, and goodness.

The Lord calls us to daily, radical conversion.  
What keeps us from responding now, profoundly, fully, entirely?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been fortunate this past year to have a cohort of ENDOW (Educating on the Nature & Dignity of Women), bringing our women parishioners together to explore Catholic teachings and writings in a small group setting. 
ENDOW’S mission is to transform the hearts and minds of women by inviting them into the joy, freedom, and dignity that come from living out their gift of authentic femininity in Christ.  ENDOW attracts women from all walks of life who are at various places on their faith journey.  If you are interested in joining Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s ENDOW cohort, please contact the parish office for the contact information (phone, email) of Cathleen & Lisa, our leaders in this journey.  Call 415.388.4190 or write to Catherine at for details.  The next session will begin on Tuesday, February 17 at 8pm in O'Brien Hall.

You can read more about ENDOW by clicking here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Holy Longing (Fr. Ron Rohlheiser)

Our reading from Paul's letter to the Corinthians this past Sunday reminds us that, for all that it can be a source of joy and fulfillment, one's body also has the potential to be a source of disorder.  In his book, The Holy Longing, Fr. Ron Rohlheiser, O.M.I, notes:

Sexuality is the extremely powerful energy given to us by God, which urges us to overcome our incompleteness.  It is also the pulse to celebrate, to give and receive delight.  In their full maturity these hungers culminate in making us co-creators with God… mothers and fathers, artisans and creators, big brothers and sisters, nurses and healers, teachers and consolers, farmers and producers… co-responsible with God for the planet, standing with God and smiling at and blessing the world.

The fire of sex is so powerful, so precious, so close to the heart and soul of a person, and so godly, that it either gives life or it takes it away. […] Sex is sacred.  Never casual, unimportant or neutral.  If its proper nature is not respected it becomes a perverse thing that works at disintegrating the soul.

In a committed, loving, covenantal relationship sex is sacramental, part of a couple’s Eucharist.  It is then a privileged vehicle of grace, an extraordinary source of integration for the soul, a deep well of gratitude.  It will open both persons (in a way that perhaps nothing else can) to becoming life-giving, gracious and blessing adults.

For a Christian, sex always needs the protection of a healthy chastity.  Chastity is not the same thing as celibacy.  Nor does it mean that one is a prude.  Chastity has to do with the appropriateness of an experience (sexual or other); we are chaste when we experience people, things, places, entertainment, sex in a way that does not violate them or ourselves.  Ultimately, chastity is reverence.

--Fr. Ron Rohlheiser, The Holy Longing, pp.196-202
To read one of Fr. Rohlheiser's thoughtful articles on this topic, 
consult his archives by clicking here.

Fr. Rohlheiser's book

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