Archive for the ‘Columbus Chapel’ Category

Lamps, Baskets & Beds — Thursday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time—Year I

January 27, 2011

“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?”

How many bushels can a bushel basket hold when the bushel basket is covering a lamp? Zero. A basket used like this is totally unproductive for bringing in a harvest.

How would you feel about sleeping in a bed with an open flame beneath it? You probably wouldn’t get much peaceful rest.

You are the lamp and your light is from Christ. Having been brought into the house, the Church, your light should shine for the benefit of others. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should … encourage one another.”

How do you help others to produce good works? How do you help others to be at peace? What else could you do to help those around you to become more productive and more peaceful with Christ?

He Came To Us — Wednesday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

January 12, 2011

In today’s Gospel, “everyone” was looking for Jesus but only a few disciples could find Him. Jesus told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

Since the beginning, humanity has been searching for its completeness in God, but only a few could find Him. This is why He came to us as one of us. As the Letter to the Hebrews said, “Since the children share in blood and flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them.” He approached us as one of us, grasped our hands and helped us up, because everyone had been looking for Him, but only a few could find Him.

Recognizing God’s Child — Monday Before Epiphany

January 3, 2011

If you saw Jesus clean-shaven, in slacks and a shirt, would you recognize Him? Probably not — John the Baptist only knew Him as God’s Son after he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Him at His Baptism. The world did not recognize Jesus as God’s Son, nor does it recognize us as God’s children, yet so we are! Sometimes we treat others as if they were obstacles, distractions, or not even there. Instead, let us think of how Jesus would treat us if He anonymously encountered you or I, and then follow His example.

Prepare Yourself—Wednesday, 30th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 20, 2010

If you knew for a fact that you were going to die, or that Jesus was coming again,  one month from today, how would you begin living your life differently?

  • Would you pray more? 
  • Would you work harder to do good deeds?
  • Would you resolve to crush lingering vices?
  • Would you forgive enemies?
  • Would you show greater love toward people in your life?

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

This is much is certain: someday we will die, or we shall live to see Jesus return ‘at an unexpected hour.’ So, let us commit ourselves by the grace of God  to living in such a way now that if someone were to ask us what we would do differently if the end of the world or the end of our lives were near, we could honestly answer, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”

Farewell, and Farewell — Friday, 7th Week of Easter

May 23, 2010

When you were younger, your parents dressed you, and you were often led where you did not want to go. But now that you are older, you dress yourselves and more than ever you go where you wish.

As this school year ends, you take another step into the maturity of your youth. Soon you will be leaving school. Some of you will be leaving for the freedom of summer. You seniors will be leaving to begin the rest of your lives.

Your new freedom calls on you to make important choices about Christ. Now the question comes to you: Do you love Him? Do you want to respond like Simon Peter in the high priest’s courtyard, with a non-committed shrug as you walk away? Or will you choose to respond like St. Peter the Rock, who said, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you,” and then lived a life which proved that love.

Jesus asks you, “Do you love me?”  How are you going to answer Him?  Jesus asks you to do at least these things: to pray every day, to attend Mass every week, and strive to do His will every day.

Freely give your freedom to Jesus. He has given you everything good that you are. He has given you everything good that you have. Give it all to Him and stand in His will. His love and His grace are more than you know. He wants to give you more than you can ask. Jesus asks you, “Do you love me?” Follow Him.

The Apostles’ Charge — Thursday, 2nd Week of Easter

April 16, 2010

 The high priest Caiaphas had once remarked to the Sanhedrin during the time of Jesus’ ministry:

“You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. (John 11:49-52)

The high priest, whom many Jews believed possessed the gift of prophesy, here spoke words truer than he realized. A similar episode happens in today’s first reading:

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

With their teaching, the apostles have indeed filled Jerusalem, the true and heavenly Jerusalem, with the souls of the saints. And the apostles did want to bring Jesus’ blood upon those who questioned them, for the blood of Christ cleanses us from sin. In his revelation, St. John “saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev 21:2) “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14)

The Sanhedrin commanded the apostles to stop proclaiming Jesus, but the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men,” for as John’s Gospel says, “whoever disobeys the Son will not see life.” The Gospel teaches, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” But who truly believes and shall be saved?  Who disobeys and shall be condemned? Thankfully, this final judgment is not ours to decide, but our mission from Jesus is clear. Like the apostles, with Jesus’ teachings we are to fill the heavenly Jerusalem  and bring Christ’s saving blood upon all people.

11 Absent Students — March 25 — Annunciation

March 28, 2010

You have probably wondered why our school chapel’s icon, statues, and crucifixes are veiled with purple cloth. Covering of religious images is a tradition for the last two weeks of Lent, a period we call Passiontide. So why do we have this tradition?

One explanation recalls that Jesus’, when His enemies sought to kill Him, hid Himself prior to His final days: “Jesus left and hid from them.” (John 12:36) Others see in this veiling a symbol for how Jesus’ divinity was veiled within His humble and vulnerable humanity. He was God incarnate, but none of the rulers of His age knew, “for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8) But behind all of this I think there is a very human reason for why we veil the holy images of Jesus and the saints at Passiontide. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

During Lent we deprive ourselves of luxuries and pleasures for our personal conversion and growth in holiness, but we also do this so that we can celebrate the Christ’ Easter triumph with an even greater feeling of joy. This is why we normally don’t sing as much (or say the Gloria or the “A”-word before the Gospel) during Lent—so that we can enjoy pulling out all the stops at Easter.

Veiling our statues of Mary and Joseph, our wall icon of Elizabeth Ann Seton, and our crucifixes causes a little pain of separation within us. But what if this chapel had never been furnished? What if our chapel had always been bare of religious art? Then their absence would not affect us at all because we would not know that we were missing them.

There are not as many students here today as there should be. Now I’m not saying that this should have been a whole school Mass, and I’m not begrudging anyone who may have stayed in study hall this hour to work on homework.  This is a great turn out and every seat is filled. But still, there are not as many students here as should be here today.

In the early nineties, when most of you were born, for every three live births in our country there was one boy or girl who was intentionally killed. (CDC) I counted roughly 33 students here today. That means we are missing 11 of your classmates who were not allowed to be born.

Today we recall the Annunciation, which some people call “Pro-Life Christmas,” for even though Jesus will be born nine months from now, today is the day of the Incarnation, when God became a human being like us in the womb of the Virgin Mary. After the angel Gabriel departed, Mary went in haste to see her relative. Elizabeth exclaimed, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me,” and John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb in the presence of our microscopic Savior, Jesus Christ. (Luke 1:43-44)

Imagine if 11 of your classmates were to die in a bus accident. You would you feel terrible from the loss, and our whole school would be in mourning. But we have never known the 11 who are missing here today, so we do not feel our loss.

At this Mass and henceforth, let us keep the following things in mind regarding the past, present, and future. As to the past, remember these absent classmates and pray for them. They never received a name, they never had a funeral, and few people have ever prayed for them. Pray for their parents, too. 

In the present, perhaps you honestly find yourself not feeling much emotion one way or the other towards the reality of one million innocents being murdered in our country every year. If so, then ask God to give us His heart and His sight to love what He loves and to hate what He hates. God loves us all, but He hates our sins. He hates our sins because they are bad for us, and the worse they are for us the more He hates them. His love for us and His hatred for our sins are two sides of the same coin. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion.” The Lord’s heart is certainly not indifferent to this evil, and neither should ours be.

And finally, for the future, keep hope that this evil of abortion will come to an end in our time. We can have this hope, for as the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “nothing will be impossible for God.”

Romantic Christianity — Friday after Ash Wednesday

February 21, 2010

In the gospel disciples of John ask Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Of all the images in the Bible to depict the relationship between God and His people, perhaps the most common is that of bridegroom and bride.

As we begin this Lent we should understand that the saints became holy and made their great sacrifices not by relying upon their own “iron-wills,” but by falling passionately in love.

If we strive after holiness as a personal achievement our exertions will make us discouraged and resentful, like the people in the first reading who complain, “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

But what sort of person can make incredible sacrifices for another, without counting the cost, and feel intoxicating happiness as they do so? A person who can do this is a person who’s in love.

What if Christianity is not supposed to be so hard as you’re making it out to be? What if it is supposed to be as easy as falling in love? Perhaps you are being called to a new approach.

The Two Ways — Thursday, 6th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

February 21, 2010

In the first reading Moses sets before the people ‘the two ways’: life and prosperity, or death and doom. In the gospel Jesus tells us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and to follow Him. From this we might think that one could choose to bypass the cross, to never take it up, and to avoid the burden of the cross, but the cross is unavoidable.

Jesus was crucified along with two others, one on His left and one on His right; one who rejected Him, and one who accepted Him. These two people represent us. We are all crucified with Christ, and He is crucified with us. The question is how we will respond to Him.

In life there is no avoiding the cross, but in which way will we respond to it?  Will we rage and despair, or embrace it and follow Christ? Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. Let us follow the Lord, ‘for whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Christ’s sake will save it.’

Holy Reading — Wednesday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

February 11, 2010

If a saint, like St. Scholastica or St. Benedict, were coming to speak at our parish tonight, would you come out to listen to what they had to say? The queen of Sheba (thought to be present day Ethiopia) traveled hundreds of miles just to hear the wisdom of King Solomon. What would you be willing to offer in time and treasure to listen to the wisdom of a saint today? In truth, we can encounter their wisdom today and at fraction of the queen’s effort.

The saints of both modern times and centuries long past wrote their wisdom in books, which are easily assessable for us today. Jesus observes that food which comes from outside and passes through us cannot defile. The saints’ holy books, however, can sanctify us, if we hold on to their words with a receptive heart.

As it is written: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Spiritual reading is important for the growth of the Christian disciple, so commit yourself to beginning some holy reading that interests you.

A Weird Passage — Wednesday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

January 28, 2010

“Focus on the weird.”  That’s advice I heard that a homiletics professor once gave. “Focusing on the weird part of the readings in preparing one’s homily leads to the unlocking of mysteries. Besides, it’s what the people are most likely to be distracted thinking about during your homily anyways.” (This is a good rule of thumb for one’s personal Bible studies too.) So what’s the weird part about today’s readings? It comes in Jesus’ private answer to the disciples about His parables:

“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Does Jesus really teach in parables so that the crowd will not understand?  Why teach them if you don’t want them to learn? And why would Jesus want to be misunderstood by people “in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven”? Doesn’t He want all to be saved?

Jesus spoke in parables because it allowed those with open minds and hearts to understand Him, while serving as a defense against his hostile critics (who had appeared in Mark’s Gospel just before this scene.) Those who were open to the truth would patiently ponder His imagery and come to understand.  Those who chose to be closed off to Jesus would dismissively discard His stories without comprehending. Jesus did not want to be too clear too soon with His enemies, for if He had spoken to them plainly about Himself and His mission they might have moved to kill Him too early for God’s plan to unfold fully.

Did Jesus speak in parables with His enemies “in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Surely not, for Jesus wills the salvation of all. The choice not to be converted and forgiven lays at their own feet. They themselves choose not to be open, not to understand, “in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Are we open to Jesus’ message and will for us? We sometimes say that we wish that Jesus would be more clear about His will for our lives. Could it be that the reason Jesus doesn’t lay out His will for us plainly is that He knows we would simply answer “No” to His wishes? If we want to understand and respond to Jesus’ will for us in big things, we need to practice responding to His will for us in small, everyday things.

We need to turn off the TV or internet when He tells us we’re wasting our time. We need to respond to His invitations to prayer. We need to show patience and kindness with all the people He has placed in our day-to-day lives. If we are faithful in small matters then He will trust us to be faithful in big ones; we will hear His words, receive them with joy, and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

The Old New Pattern — Thursday After Epiphany

January 8, 2010

In his first letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John says that the commandment he writes to them is not new, and yet new. (1 John 2) The commandment he is referring had been given to them years before, by Jesus Christ at His Last Supper. He told His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)  Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love from Christ.

Once when Jesus’ opponents were trying to trip Him up they asked Him what was the greatest commandment. He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”  Then He added, “The second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22) Or, as St. Paul would later put it, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:10) Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love through Christ.

It is intuitive for people to understand that we should do good and avoid evil, that we should love good and hate what is evil. Yet that does not mean that everyone agrees as to how we should live this out. Often we see the truths which Christians present in love angrily dismissed by the world as hate. (Frequently the throwing of this charge allows people to dismiss opposing viewpoints without ever giving them serious thought.) Even those in a post-Christian secular culture will agree that somehow “love is the answer,” but how exactly are we to love one another?

Jesus shows us how to love.  He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We can learn from His example especially here, as we witness His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Mass, but we can also learn from the entire life He lived.

Sometimes it can be hard understand example, or difficult to relate Jesus’ life to the particulars of our own. To help us He gives us the example of His saints, through whom He has continued to live His one, salvific way of life through thousands of different human expressions. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus; He was anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Today this Scripture passage is still being fulfilled by Him through the lives of His saints.

“The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”  So let us learn what love is through the example of Jesus and His saints, for love sums up the law, and we know how to love through Christ.

October 28 – Sts. Simon and Jude

October 28, 2009

Cowardly Lion

Today we celebrate the Sts. Simon and Jude, apostles and martyrs for Christ. Simon was known as “the Zealot,” and Jude, or Judas the son of James, was nicknamed “Thaddeus,” which means “Courageous” in Greek. In the Gospel today the apostles are listed, with Simon and Jude coming towards the end, right before Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus.

When Jesus sent out His disciples with the power and authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the Gospel, He sent them out two-by-two.  One could infer (though this is by no means certain) that this Gospel passage lists the apostles according to those old missionary pairings: Simon Peter with his brother, Andrew; James with his brother, John; and so on, ending with the Judas called “Courageous” and the other Judas who became a traitor.

So here we would have two Judas’, side-by-side, in discipleship and ministry. Yet, only one of them earned a nickname for being courageous. To grow in holiness requires our courage, a virtue that Judas Iscariot tragically lacked.

John’s Gospel tells us that this Judas held the money purse, and sometimes stole from it for himself. That’s because he lacked the courage to acknowledge his faults and to grow in the virtues.

Judas may have betrayed Jesus because he thought this would kick-start Jesus, the weak messiah, into real, revolutionary action. Judas did not have the courage to trust that the providence of God working through Jesus Christ was really the best way to bring about the Kingdom on earth.

And after he had sinned, Judas lacked the courage to seek forgiveness, choosing suicide instead, which is called “the coward’s death.” Simon Peter denied Jesus, but he had the courage to confess his sin and to seek reconciliation. That was Peter’s salvation.

If we are going to grow in holiness to sainthood, it’s going to require our courage; the courage to acknowledge our faults and grow virtue, the courage to trust in God’s will and providential plan for our lives, and, when we fall, the courage to confess our sins and to seek reconciliation with Christ.

October 1 – St. Therese of Lisieux

October 1, 2009

Today we celebrate the young woman Pope Pius XI called, “The greatest saint of modern times.” At the age of 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France to give her whole life to God. There, she would take on a new religious name which would profoundly capture her identity: Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

St. Therese

How did her life resemble the Child Jesus? Early on, Therese saw her own weakness and littleness, and she believed that great and mighty deeds were beyond her, so she committed herself to a “little way of spiritual childhood.” She always tried to love and trust like a little child, modeling herself on the Child Jesus; not doing great things, but doing everything with great love.

The second title of St. Therese, that of the Holy Face, refers to the image Jesus’ bloodied face left upon St. Veronica’s veil during the Passion. How did Therese’s life resemble the Holy Face? Whatever she suffered, from small annoyances of daily life to the great pains of her final illness, Therese offered it all to God as a sacrifice for the good of souls. The image and likeness of Christ’s redemptive suffering was made present in her, like the image Christ’s face upon a clean, white cloth.

We can follow St. Therese’s example in our own lives, whenever we approach our Father in prayer with child’s fearless trust, whenever we do our daily tasks with a intention to do them with great love, and whenever we offer our sufferings as a sacrifice in Christ, for our good and the good of all His Church.

Thursday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

September 17, 2009

In the Gospel, a notoriously sinful woman learns that Jesus is in town and comes to the place where He’s eating. In those days, Jews ate at table as they laid upon elevated beds, with cushions under their chest or side, and with their feet stretched out behind them. The woman came in, and stood behind Jesus, at his feet, weeping. She came to Jesus because she had heard His proclamation of mercy, that He came ‘not to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.’

She bathes his feet with her tears. Why doesn’t she fetch water for this?

She wipes His feet with her hair. Why doesn’t she just use a towel?

She kisses His feet repeatedly. Why does she kiss his feet? 

The Gospel does not mention the exact nature of the sinful woman’s past, but perhaps her lips had kissed many, perhaps her beautiful hair had been shared with many, perhaps her eyes had shed many tears, from the great pain that follows impure romances. So the woman uses her own tears, and hair, and lips because she desires to honor God, through Jesus, with her body, in her body, and through her body. Her faith saved her, and gave her peace, a faith she expressed through her body. May our faith be like hers.