Our Ultimate Destination

Today’s Readings (Rv 1:1-4; 2:1-5; Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6; Lk 18:35-43)

This reflection is from Give Us This Day.  If you like the quality, please subscribe.  A yearly subscription costs less than five caramel macchiatos from Starbucks.


So much of Luke’s Gospel is given its structure from the theme of journey.  From chapter 9 to the culmination of the Gospel narrative, Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  Jesus had so firmly set his face to Jerusalem because “the days for his being take up were fulfilled” (9:51).

This is the end for which Jesus came, the purpose of his mission from God to this world, the goal that gives ultimate significance to everything that goes before.  Jesus came in order to give his life as a gift of love to God the Father for us in the sacrifice of the cross.

The month of November, beginning with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, is about our human journey and its ultimate destination.

In the ultimate destiny of Jesus we discover the ultimate direction for our lives.  Our lives are about making of them the best and most complete gift of love to God for the sake of the human family.  In the saints, we rejoice in gifts fully given and embraced in the eternal love of God.  In the souls of our departed loved ones, we continue to respond to the call to help them in completing their total gift of self to God.

In the middle of our journey, in our own Jericho, we find ourselves crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”  and saying, “Lord, please let me see!”

Lord, today let me see the ultimate goal of my life’s journey.  Let me see clearly that I am made for eternity in God’s embrace of love and that I arrive there by finding ways, every day, to give my life in love to others.

Father Anthony Oelrich is pastor of Christ Church Newman Center, the Church of St. Augustine, and rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  He also serves as Director of Continuing Education for clergy in the St. Cloud Diocese.

Pumpkin Analogy to the Christian Life

On the Sunday Mass before Halloween, the priest at the Yongsan Memorial Chapel (I forgot his name), gave a homily that related the pumpkin to Christian life.  I know that story has been around for a while, but it was my first time to hear it.  I searched the Internet and found a fairly good version, made especially for children (Sermons4Kids Website).  The Scriptural reference is 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Matthew 5:16.

As I am sure all of you know, Halloween is coming soon. Many of you will dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating. If you do, remember to be safe. You should only go to the homes of people you know very well. You know — close friends and family. Never go trick-or-treating to homes of people that you do not know.

I brought a Jack o’ Lantern with me this morning. How many of you have ever made a Jack o’ Lantern? If you have, you know that the first thing you do when making a Jack o’ Lantern is to clean up your pumpkin by washing off the dirt and mud. Then you cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and clean out the inside. You scoop out all the seeds and yucky stuff.

The next thing you do is to carve a face. You cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth. I don’t know about you, but I always like to put a smile on my Jack o’ Lantern.

The next step is to put a candle inside the Jack o’ Lantern. Then you light the candle so that the light will shine through the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Finally, when all is finished, you place the Jack o’ Lantern in the window so that all who pass by your house will see its light.

You know, I was thinking. This is a pretty good picture of what happens when we invite Jesus into our heart.

When we become a Christian, Jesus picks us up and cleanses our life from sin. He removes all the yucky thoughts and the seeds of doubt, hate, and selfishness that we have inside. Then he puts a smile on our face and puts his light inside to shine for all the world to see.

I don’t know what you think of when you see a Jack o’ Lantern, but I hope that this Halloween you will think of Jesus. Think about how he came to take away the sins of the world and put his light in our hearts to shine for him.

Dear Jesus, help us to let our light shine so that others will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.


The New Evangelization

I spent last night and this morning browsing the Internet for Catholic bloggers and vloggers.  What I found was humbling: teenagers evangelizing through YouTube (i.e. “SheisCatholic” and “RebornPureAdmin”) a hip-hop rapping Catholic Priest counter-messaging a hip-hop rapping Protestant; and a website dedicated to the online exploration and discussion of the world’s religions.

There is a lot more out there.  Bishop John Wester gave an address to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the new media for the new evangelization.  This “new evangelization” refers to a pastoral letter by Pope John Paul II entitled “Novo Millennio Ineunte.”  The clergy and lay people are called to use new media for pastoral work.  The pastoral letter is quite long.  So, I couldn’t find any mention of using new ways to evangelize until the middle of the letter.  The beginning read like a president’s or governor’s “state of the union” address.  Then, at section #29 in the pastoral letter, Blessed John Paul II gives his call to action: “I therefore earnestly exhort the Pastors of the particular Churches, with the help of all sectors of God’s People, confidently to plan the stages of the journey ahead, harmonizing the choices of each diocesan community with those of neighbouring Churches and of the universal Church.”  But, “…it must be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community.”  Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Ratzinger gave specific guidance on the new evangelization before Blessed John Paul II’s letter.  I would do well to follow Cardinal Ratzinger’s guidance.

Where do I fit in this “new evangelization”?  How can help give glory to God using new media?  How do I avoid the temptation of fame and all its traps?

At this point, I still don’t have a game plan to my website.  A plan may or may not be necessary to join in the new evangelization, but I will continue to use KeenforGod as an instrument for journaling, reflection on Scripture, and a means to capture my spiritual growth.  I pray that one day God will see me as worthy instrument to evangelize His love.  For now, I need to grow in discipline, grow in the Virtues (especially in Temperence and Fortitude).

I don’t know how I can avoid the temptation of fame, but I trust in God.  I need to reach out in prayer to ask Him to humble me, and help me be aware of my pride.  My beloved wife will be of great help, too.  She will definitely know when I’m walking down the wrong path.  She is strong in the Virtue of Temperence.  I can depend on the Holy Spirit to use her to correct me.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me continue to walk on this path, if it is Your Will.  I humbly ask this through Your only Son, Christ Our Lord.  Amen.

Teach Us to Pray: Journaling

“Teach Us to Pray: Journaling,” by Father James Martin, S.J.

Many Catholics keep a journal to record the fruits of their prayer.  This is a surprisingly useful spiritual practice, since as time passes we naturally tend to forget what God has revealed to us.  After all, even the disciples were prone to forgeting what Jesus had done — often right in front of them.

This forgetting may stem from plain old laziness, or more likely from a fear of responding to what we’ve learned in our spiritual lives.  (If we remember what God has revealed to us, we might have to change!)  Keeping a written record reminds us of God’s activity in our lives; and by looking backward we can gain confidence in the future.

Writing a journal also has a distinguished history in the lives of the saints, from St. Augustine to Blessed John XXIII to Servant of God Dorothy Day.  Day once wrote (in her journal) that a journal helps us see how various problems “evaporate” over time.

Today this form of writing is often referred to as “journaling.”  This means that the writing itself is a form of prayer.  It includes such practices as writing a letter to God, imagining a conversation between you and God, listing those things for which you are grateful, or starting with a question like “What do you want me to do for you?” and then writing an answer in God’s voice.  So the next time you find yourself stuck in prayer, pick up a paper and pen.  Or fire up your computer and start typing.

James Martin, S.J., is author of Between Heaven and Mirth [link], The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything [link], and My Life with the Saints [link].

Prayer before Confession after a Long Absence

I confess, Lord, it’s been awhile,
and I feel ashamed.
My guilt just seemed to get in the way,
and now I’ve put this off for too long.
Why do I let myself stay so far from you
when I know in my heart
that you have never left?
I am afraid, Lord, that if I reveal myself to you,
show you who I’ve become,
you will not recognize me as your own.
So I beg, look upon me
as you would look upon your Son, Jesus,
that you might see and love in me
what you see and love in Christ.
Then when I rise up and go to you,
I shall be overwhelmed with love
when I see you running to me
with your arms wide open. Amen.
— Diana Macalintal

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