Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thoughts on judging others

I take notice today that there are actually two sides to judging: there is judging, and there is being judged. Both are important and both are something we should be without. We don't talk very much about the second one, but it may be harder to get rid of than the first. 

Being judged may be hard to get rid of because it can happen to you without it happening. In other words, you may feel judged even though no one is judging you. 

Quite often, the reason we feel judged is because we are judging others instead of ourselves.

Actually, these two are inextricably tied to each other. We judge others for what we are guilty of ourselves. It's how we try to get rid of our guilt - find someone who is "more guilty" than we are so we can feel better about ourselves without having to actually face our sin. The very fact that you are judging someone almost always means you are guilty of the same thing, otherwise you wouldn't see it in them. That's why Jesus told us not to judge unless we want to be judged by the same judgment with which we judge, because they are one and the same thing.

The guy who screams out against pornography is obviously someone who has a pornography problem, otherwise he wouldn't be so mad about it. When preachers rail against something it is almost always because they are covering their own guilt. It's a vicious cycle - feeling guilty, judging others for what we are guilty of, and finally, feeling judged by those who may not even be judging us at all. All of this can happen wrapped up inside your own head.

How do you get rid of all this and stop playing these games?  The answer to that is found in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." By coming clean, admitting our own sin, confessing it to the Lord and to others, especially those we have sinned against and those we have judged, our whole view changes. As far as judging goes, we've already come to grips with our own sin. Based on that, everyone else looks pretty good. And as far as being judged goes, we have already been judged and been forgiven, so it's all about grace now - grace for ourselves and grace turned outwards to everyone else. That's all that's left - sinners saved by grace.

Step away from the judging game and cover yourselves in grace of God. 
John Fischer

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Thoughts on solitude

Solitude is the Place of Conversion
In order to understand the meaning of solitude, we must first unmask the ways in which the idea of solitude has been distorted by our world. We say to each other that we need some solitude in our lives. What we really are thinking of, however, is a time and place for ourselves in which we are not bothered by other people, can think our own thoughts, express our own complaints, and do our own thing, whatever it may be. For us, solitude most often means privacy. We have come to the dubious conviction that we all have a right to privacy. Solitude thus becomes like a spiritual property for which we can compete on the free market of spiritual goods. But there is more. We also think of solitude as a station where we can recharge our batteries, or as a corner of the boxing ring where our wounds are oiled, our muscles massaged, and our courage restored by fitting slogans. In short, we think of solitude as a place where we gather new strength to continue the ongoing competition of life.

But that is not the solitude of St. John the Baptist, of St. Anthony or St. Benedict, of Charles de Foucauld or the brothers of [the] Taizé [Community]. For them solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place of conversion, the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the emergence of the new man and the new woman occurs.
Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Thoughts on the Holy Spirit

John 16:5-11

Friends, once again in today’s Gospel Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the fuel of the Church, the energy and life force of the Body of Christ. And we can’t get him through heroic effort. We can only get him by asking for him. That’s why, for the past two thousand years, the Church has begged for this power from on high.

Jesus told us that the Father would never refuse someone who asked for the Holy Spirit. So ask! And ask again! Realize that every liturgy is a begging for the Holy Spirit. Fr. Hesburgh of Notre Dame once commented that the one prayer that is always appropriate—whether one is experiencing success or failure, whether one is confident or afraid, whether one is young or old— is "Come, Holy Spirit!"

He’s right, for this is the fundamental prayer of the Church. Mind you, we pray it, as the first Apostles did, in the presence of Mary and with her support. In the Hail Mary, we say, "Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death." What are we asking her to pray for but the Holy Spirit?

Bishop Robert Barron


Monday, May 27, 2019

Thoughts on Memorial Day

"Prayer of Remembrance"

Holy One, on this day of remembrance we say aloud their names again: the names of those who died this year. Died--the word is jarring. So jarring that we hardly use the word, substituting euphemisms that are a bit more vague.

Sometimes people say "lost" when what they mean is dead: "We lost so-and-so this year."
But people who die are not lost. They are not misplaced. We did not just lose sight of them, nor did they wander off. They died, and it is as final as the word sounds.

But that is, of course, why we don't say, "they died." When people die, they do not just disappear and we continue on. There is no such thing "as out of sight, out of mind." There is no switch to flip to turn off our feelings. The person may not be lost, but we are at a loss: for words; for normalcy; for what was, and what could have been. And grief is such an unwieldy thing: we are fine one minute, years even, and then the deep sadness comes, seemingly out of nowhere.

That's the thing about people who are loved: their memories keep. They're never too far away. They come to us in a song lyric or a line of movie dialogue or on a long walk. What was it that they always said? Oh, that's right. And they always had to have it a certain way. So maybe we'll do it that way, and laugh a little, in memoriam.

Be with us, Holy One, as we grieve over the empty chairs at the table. We'll light a candle and say an extra prayer, and we trust with sure and certain hope that You had them before we let them go.


Remembering the Fallen

On this Memorial Day, we remember those who serve faithfully, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve what they believed. God bless them all, and give us the strength and courage to stand as tall as they did.

A Prayer for Deployed Soldiers

Heavenly Father,
inspire those who are overseas for the cause of peace.Send your Son, Jesus Christ, as the Prince of Peace.
Bless the men and women of our military
who respond to the needs of peacekeeping.
Keep them safe from harm.
Let them be models of discipline and courage,
and bring them home safely to their loved ones.
We ask this in your name.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Thoughts on integrity

One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is forgetting how much our actions influence the people around us. Every day you are tempted to make decisions that may seem best for you but could have a devastating effect on the people around you. If you want to make wise decisions, you need to ask, “Will my choice harm other people?”
That’s the opposite of our culture. Our society teaches us to think only of ourselves. But God wants you to think about others, not just yourself. In fact, the Bible says that one day you’re going to be judged by God on how your decisions affected other people.

Romans 14:12-13 says, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God. So don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something that he thinks is wrong” (TLB).

You may not like hearing this, but you are being watched—all the time. If you’re a parent, you should be especially aware that little eyes are always observing. You’ve got to be careful about what you say and do because you’re influencing not just your life but the next generation as well.
Show respect for authority. If a police officer pulls you over for a ticket, even if you think he’s wrong, you treat him with respect.
Don’t call in sick when your family is actually going to the beach for the day.
Don’t bring supplies home that you stole from the office to use for personal benefit.
Don’t cheat on your taxes—and then brag in front of your kids about all the ways you’re ripping off Uncle Sam.
Don’t watch the awful stuff that’s on TV and in the movies with your kids. Think about whether you should be watching it at all.
Mature people limit their freedom for the benefit of others. Not because you’re afraid of what other people think, but because you’re motivated by love. In situations where there is no clear right or wrong, you have to ask yourself, “How will my decision affect other people?”

Rick Warren

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Thoughts on today's culture

We exist in a stage of great cultural animosity right now. Never in my lifetime has there been more polarization, hatred and outright cruelty to fellow human beings. In this kind of environment, revenge and retribution always increase like turning up the heat on the fire. Insult flies against insult and anger escalates, and much of this can filter down into our personal lives. How we react as Christians in the marketplace to personal attacks or false accusations will be as strong a witness to Jesus Christ in our lives as anything. This can pertain to participating in conversations that take down someone else. Social media is rampant with this kind of thing and a large part of the reason why revenge and retribution are on the rise. We need to avoid this.

Stay on the high road. Leave vengeance to the Lord. Don't seek revenge. Don't try and take the other guy down. Don't rejoice in someone else's misfortune. No one's keeping score except the Lord, and the Lord is "not counting people's sins against them" (2 Corinthians 2:19) so why should we?  

In such a time as this, we need to be full of kindness and our speech seasoned with grace. If you've been offended, let God deal with the offenders. Like David, we have a higher calling. We represent a kingdom that contrasts the present age with grace turned outward. That shouldn't be new. That's what we're all about anyway.
John Fischer

Friday, May 24, 2019

Thoughts on friends

John 15:12-17

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus says to his disciples, “I do not call you servants any longer . . . but I have called you friends.”

Psychologists tell us that a true friend is someone who has seen us at our worst and still loves us. If you have encountered me only on my best days, when all is going well and I am in top form, and you like me, I have no guarantee that you are my friend. But when you have dealt with me when I am most obnoxious, most self-absorbed, most afraid and unpleasant, and you still love me, then I am sure that you are my friend.

The old Gospel song says, “What a friend we have in Jesus!” This is not pious sentimentalism; it is the heart of the matter. What the first Christians saw in the dying and rising of Jesus is that we killed God, and God returned in forgiving love. We murdered the Lord of Life, and he answered us not with hatred but with compassion. He saw us at our very worst, and loved us anyway.

Bishop Robert Barron


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thoughts on Saint Gregory VII

Saint of the Day for May 23

(c. 1025 – May 25, 1085)

Saint Gregory VII’s Story

The 10th century and the first half of the 11th were dark days for the Church, partly because the papacy was the pawn of various Roman families. In 1049, things began to change when Pope Leo IX, a reformer, was elected. He brought a young monk named Hildebrand to Rome as his counselor and special representative on important missions. Hildebrand was to become Gregory VII.
Three evils plagued the Church then: simony–the buying and selling of sacred offices and things; the unlawful marriage of the clergy; and lay investiture—kings and nobles controlling the appointment of Church officials. To all of these Hildebrand directed his reformer’s attention, first as counselor to the popes and later as pope himself.
Gregory’s papal letters stress the role of the bishop of Rome as the vicar of Christ and the visible center of unity in the Church. He is well known for his long dispute with Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who should control the selection of bishops and abbots.
Gregory fiercely resisted any attack on the liberty of the Church. For this he suffered and finally died in exile. He said, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore, I die in exile.” Thirty years later the Church finally won its struggle against lay investiture. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Gregory VII is May 25.


The Gregorian Reform, a milestone in the history of Christ’s Church, was named after this man who tried to extricate the papacy and the whole Church from undue control by civil rulers. Against an unhealthy Church nationalism in some areas, Gregory reasserted the unity of the whole Church based on Christ, and expressed in the bishop of Rome, the successor of Saint Peter.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Thoughts on discernment

But no matter what we do or don’t do, no matter if we get it “right” or “wrong,” no matter if we figure out what we’re “going to do with our lives” or take every moment in stride, God will be there at our side guiding our path. Our goal in discernment is not to answer all of the big questions once and for all, to check boxes off a list and cast them—and God— aside until we have another question; our goal is to journey with God, to be constantly listening for the call that he has for us, the call to be a disciple of his Son in today’s world. Our goal, above all else, is to live in the moment with God.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thoughts on prayers

Forgive Your Enemies
Christians mention one another in their prayers (Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 4:3), and in so doing they bring help and even salvation to those for whom they pray (Romans 15:30; Philippians 1:19). But the final test of compassionate prayer goes beyond prayers for fellow Christians, members of the community, friends, and relatives. Jesus says it most unambiguously, “I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44); and in the depth of his agony on the cross, he prays for those who are killing him, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Here the full significance of the discipline of prayer becomes visible. Prayer allows us to lead into the center of our hearts not only those who love us but also those who hate us. This is possible only when we are willing to make our enemies part of ourselves and thus convert them first of all in our own hearts.
Henri Nouwen

Friday, May 17, 2019

Thoughts on life after death

A New Creation
If you believe, as I do, that there will be life after our death then the question has or will more than likely come up, "what will it be like or what is it like?" The four Gospels in their resurrection appearances of Jesus provide a most encouraging and heartening description of how Jesus is now and will be for all times.
But what will it be like for us? What will that "world" be like for those who will be enjoying it. St. Paul is cannot be more positive when he exclaims "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of human kind, the things God has prepared for them that love him." As wonderful as these words are, I believe many of us still long for so much more.
I find some satisfaction in the brief selection from the book of the Apocalypse in this weekend's second Sunday reading: ...a new heaven, a knew earth... God dwelling with the people... Always being with them... Wiping every tear from their eyes.... Death or mourning, whaling or pain no more, for the old order has passed away
The one who sat on the throne said "behold, I make all things new.".
For me this is a wonderfully remade creation. Very simply, everything is all right. But most importantly a loving God is with us and together with all of the beloved people of my life.
Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Thoughts on Mr. Wonderful

This past weekend I received a late evening call from my mother, who informed me that my uncle Dennis had died a little earlier in the day.  I was shocked to hear this news.  My uncle had been diabetic and was 74 years old.  He had recently found out that he had a cancerous tumor that needed to be removed and he had undergone the surgery and was recovering in the hospital and eventually a skilled nursing center.  The post-surgery recovery had not gone as well as planned and Dennis suffered some setbacks and complications, but no one expected him to die at this time.  At least I didn't.  Dennis referred to himself as Mr. Wonderful.  He was a very funny man with a great laugh and a big spirit.  He liked to laugh and it gave him much pleasure to make other people laugh.  He liked corny jokes and terrible puns.  He also liked the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.  He would tape the games so he could watch them later and skip through all the commercials.  Even though he spent many years of his adult life living in California and Oklahoma, he remained a Cardinals fan throughout.  My uncle Dennis had become a father figure to me since the death of my father in 1992.  He would call me on a regular basis to check in on me and see how I was doing.  He was a good father himself, having raised two boys who became successful in life and had nice families of their own.  Dennis was very good at making people feel better about themselves after talking to him.  After he cracked a few jokes, he would ask you how you were doing, not to make small talk, but to really know.  It was easy to talk to him because you knew he really cared about you.  He loved to read and study the Bible and he taught a Sunday School class at his church for many years.  He was a good man of God who knew the Lord and wanted everyone he met to know the Lord as well.  So while it was a huge surprise to hear of his untimely death, there is no doubt that he is in Heaven today and celebrating with the saints!  Thank you for your life and the love that you showed me and so many others.  So goodbye for now, Mr. Wonderful.  I will remember you with fond memories and will look forward to seeing you again one day, in Heaven!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Thoughts on John 6

John 6:60-69

Friends, we come today to the end of the extraordinary sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. He has told his listeners, "Unless you gnaw on the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

We hear that "many of Jesus’ disciples . . . said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’" Knowing their murmuring, Jesus says, "Does this shock you?" Now, if his words were meant in a symbolic sense, they wouldn’t have had this explosive, shocking effect on his listeners. Given every opportunity to clarify his meaning along symbolic lines, Jesus does nothing of the kind.

What follows from these words of the Lord is one of the saddest moments in the New Testament: the Scripture tells us that most of his followers abandoned him.

But when Jesus asks whether his disciples will leave, too, Peter speaks for the Twelve: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

The Church, down through the ages to the present day, has stood with Peter. Jesus is not one interesting teacher among many; he is the only one, the one with the words of eternal life—indeed, he is the Holy One of God. And he comes to us through the flesh and blood of the Eucharist.

Bishop Robert Barron


Thoughts on anxiety

Thursday, May 9, 2019

More thoughts on the Eucharist

John 6:44-51

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus offers himself as food for the soul. There is a great truth revealed in the bread of life discourse: it is the law of the gift. This personal, incarnating God wants to be eaten and drunk, to be radically and fully for the other.

Why were the gods of the ancient world so popular? Because they were projections of ourselves—vain, arrogant, resentful, violent. This means that they put little moral pressure on us. They were frightening but not morally demanding.

But this God who shows that he is totally love, and who wants us to eat and drink him in, is the God who wants us to be like him. As he is food and drink for the world, so we must be food and drink for the world. As he gave himself away utterly, so we must give ourselves away fully.

We’re not to cling to the goods, honors, and values of the world—all those things that aggrandize the ego—but rather give ourselves away. That’s what we learn from the God of the gift.

Bishop Robert Barron


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Thoughts on the Eucharist

John 6:30-35

Friends, today’s Gospel is from the bread of life discourse: "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." What God has wanted from the beginning is to sit down with his creatures in a fellowship banquet, sharing life and laughter, giving, receiving, and giving back again.

This is the loop of grace. The more we receive the divine life, the more we should give it away and thereby get more of it.

Throughout the Old Testament, we find images of the holy banquet. On God’s holy mountain, Isaiah says there will be good meats and pure choice wines. And throughout his ministry, Jesus hosts meals to which all are invited. God wants to share his life with us.

This comes to fullest expression at the Eucharist, where Jesus identifies himself so radically with the bread and the wine that they change into his Body and Blood, and then invites all of us around this table to feast and share life, to give and to receive and to give again.

Bishop Robert Barron