Tuesday, May 22, 2018

                                                           Cell-Phone Baskets

Last year a Grandparent told me about a new rule in her house when grandchildren come to visit.  They have to put their cell-phones in a basket near the front door.  They get them back when they leave.
The point is that grandparents want to talk to their grandchildren. After the initial shock of having to do this, the grandchildren apparently comply without too much fuss. 

It turns out that this rule can have a positive mental health effect on the grandchildren. 

The General Social Survey has discovered that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985.  Loneliness is on the rise.  And technology, cell-phones and internet use is a contributing factor to loneliness.  And, amazingly, it is generation Z (18-22 years of age) who comprise the loneliest generation of adults.

Technology is good for many things.  But it can’t replace person-to-person or face-to-face conversations with people we love.  Most Facebook friends don’t cut the mustard!

Do you ever look at texts or check messages in the middle of conversations with people you love? I confess that sometimes I do.   I think I have to change that. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

                                              Pro-Life…A Seamless Garment

Being Pro-life is being against abortion and much more.

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness says: "Our defense of the innocent unborn, needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development.  Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and underprivileged…the victims of human trafficking, etc.”    

In that same letter he says: "We often hear it said that…the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue.  Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared with "grave" bioethical questions.  That a politician, looking for votes, might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children..."

20 years ago Cardinal Bernadin called for 'a consistent ethic of life' which he named ‘a seamless garment’.  Question: What does it mean for you to be Pro-Life? 

*The quotes from Pope Francis are from Paragraphs 101 and 102 of his letter on Holiness.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

                                                      “I Call You Friends” - 2
                                                                (John 15:15)
Most Fridays Fr. Javier Guativa and I bounce ideas off each other for our weekend homily. We start by looking for a common theme.  Last week we found it in Jesus’ calling us ‘friends’.  So we developed a list of characteristics of good friendships. Here are some of them.    

Good friends want the best for us.  Good friends enjoy each other’s company. They are people we can count on.  Good friends accept us as we are and forgive our mistakes.  They also bring us joy.  Good friends laugh a lot and good-naturedly tease each other.

Most of those descriptions apply to our friendships with Jesus, except the one about laughing and good-natured teasing. But…maybe that should fit too.     

So I tested it out.  The next day in an imaginative contemplation, I asked Jesus what He sees in me that makes Him laugh or smile.  In about 3 seconds I knew the answer. He laughs every time I give a Culver’s card away at mass for the right answer to a homily question!  It makes me smile just thinking about it.  And that adds a new dimension to our friendship.

So I’ll make it a regular part of my prayer…realizing that every day I probably do or say something that makes Jesus smile or laugh.

Take 5 minutes and ask Jesus what he sees in you that makes Him laugh or smile!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

                                             I Call You Friends (John 15:15) 
Jesus calls His disciples ‘friends’ in the middle of His speech at the last supper.  They included Peter, Thomas, Judas and the Beloved disciple. And Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Martha, and unnamed others were probably there too.  And some of them betrayed Jesus and ran away when He needed friends the most. 

But Jesus didn’t pressure them.  He even washed all their feet.

Their acts of abandonment and betrayal surely hurt Jesus.  But He understood loved them.  He knew about human nature and our tendencies and lapses in being the people God wants us to be.

What His disciples didn’t understand was that Jesus would love them no matter what.  He’d always offer them second chances.  That’s a real friend!

Name one of your closest friends.  Recall the history of that friendship.  What do you treasure most about him/her?  Have you needed some second chances?

How long have you seen Jesus as your friend? Name some stages in the growth of that friendship. Think of the last time you needed a second chance from Him.    

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

                                                       Are You Holy?

If someone asked me that question, I’d roll my eyes and say “Not really”.

Recently Pope Francis released an Apostolic Exhortation on Holiness.  It is a 34 page letter which is both readable and down-to-earth.  Check it out.  A basic message is that holiness does not imply perfection.

Two weekends ago I started the homily by asking people to raise their hands if they think they are holy. At the 1st mass 1 person raised a hand.  At the 2nd mass no one raised a hand. But at the 3rd mass, 14 people raised their hands. I was delighted.

Two families raised their hands.  Both families have 3 children…some younger ones and some teenagers. And every member of each family ‘tentatively’ raised their hands. (Their hands were up but not real high.) I liked that. They see that they’re on the way.

Pope Francis says: “Holiness is present in parents who raise their children with love; in men and women who work hard to support their families; in the sick and elderly who never lose their smiles; and in next-door neighbors and those living in our midst.”

Two concrete actions: 1. Answer the question for yourself: Are you holy?  2. Name a holy person you know. Talk to him/her about that.          

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

                                                                 Spiritual DNA

Last year I received a gift certificate to do a DNA search through Ancestry.com.  I assumed my DNA would show my strong German background…having 3 German grandparents. To my surprise it was my Polish grandfather’s DNA that dominated my profile. In hindsight that makes sense to me.  I look very much like him.  And our personalities are similar too.       

Recently I chose the text of 1 John 3:1-2 as a reading for a funeral.  That text begins with this sentence: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”  And that got me thinking about something I’d call spiritual ‘DNA’. 

What qualities have we inherited from God our creator? How are we God-like?

In the instance of that funeral homily, I mentioned the deceased’s 'tender heart', 'playful spirit' and 'love for the natural world' as his God-like qualities.  

Take a few minutes to think about God-like qualities that are embedded in your spiritual DNA.  What qualities have you inherited from God?  Think of a person you love.  What God-like qualities do you see in him or her?  Tell that person what you see of God in him or her.     

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

                                         Repent and Believe the Gospel

On Ash Wednesday, when the ashes are put on our foreheads, the minister of the ashes can say: “Repent and believe the Gospel”.  These words are part of Jesus’ mission statement in the Gospel of Mark. (Mk 1:15)     

The Greek word ‘metanoia’ is translated ‘repent’.  It means that we are called to face our sinfulness and to change our minds and our hearts.    And the Greek word ‘evangelion’ is translated ‘Gospel’. And it means ‘good news’.  And, for my part, the best ‘good news’ is that God continually gives us second chances.

I’ve received ashes on my forehead since I was a baby.  And I’m 70 years old now.  That means that God has given me 70 Lents to get things right.  And I try.  But I always fail.  So next year, if I’m still alive, I trust that He will give me my 71st chance to get it right. Maybe the 71st chance will be the charmer…but I doubt it!  

How many times have you received ashes on your forehead? 

Blessed are we to have a God who is so loving and forgiving!