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World Youth Day

“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”

The theme for World Youth Day 2011, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (2:7), is rather striking. If you take a moment to read the passages of scripture that come just before and after this verse, you can see that St. Paul is warning his readers and encouraging them to be determined believers in Jesus Christ. As one who believes in Jesus Christ, you will experience persons who will want to “deceive you by specious arguments (2:4), or to “captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ (2:8).” Using the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love that you received in Baptism are powers of the soul that can be excercised against deception. Faith is a light that shines in our minds to see the truth; hope is striving for the good we do not yet possess and enduring hardship to reach that good, and love – of God and for God – is the reason why we believe and hope in Jesus Christ.

The powers identified by Paul will tempt us to believe something less than what is true, or to love what is not trully good for us. Making a spiritual pilgrimage to Madrid, Spain will strengthen each of us to recognize and commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, Truth and Life, in our lives. May your pilgrimage make you firm in faith!

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USCCB Vocations Fair at World Youth Day!

If you’re planning to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, plan to join us at our Vocations Fair. Read more here.

“Rabboni!”

In today’s Gospel we are reminded that St. Mary Madgalene was looking for the dead body of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She never found it. Instead, she first heard his voice, but didn’t recognize it. When he called her by name, “Mary,” she recognized the voice of her Teacher (“Rabboni!”) and Lord. When she looked up, she saw her risen, LIVING Lord.

Look deep within your heart. In the darkness of the unknown in discerning God’s will for your life, listen for the Lord’s voice. Pray that you hear the voice of the Lord call you by name, that you may acknowledge him as your LIVING Lord, who lives within you and (just as for St. Mary Magdalene) turns your darkness into light, and your tears into joy.

“I will be with you”

In yesterday’s liturgy (EX 3:1-6, 9-12), we read of Moses who stood in the presence of God, before the burning bush . Moses was afraid and didn’t understand what God was asking of him. Sometimes we don’t know to what God is calling us, but he simply wants our availability, “Here I am, Lord.”

I suppose its like being “Open 24 hours” – being ready to do the will of God always, trusting that even though we may not “know the way” (JN 14:4-5) or think we can accomplish what God is asking, he will help us do his will. The Lord won’t abandon us to fulfill his will, for “I will be with you (EX 3:12),” says the Lord.

Retreating

I’m of that generation that remembers what it was like before cell phones. And 3G. And vocabularies that held words like “qwerty” and “blogosphere.” And even (dare I say it?) iStuff. My nieces and nephews sometimes find me and my peers entertaining as we hand over our new technology to their much more expert abilities and understandings, only to have them returned to us with ringtones that embarrass us in the middle of grocery stores and screensavers that force us to profess our love for Justin Bieber. Fear not, though, I have acquired enough techno-sophistication to spare myself such embarrassment and false allegiances. But what I haven’t figured out is why, once I start using all that “stuff,” it so readily finds a somewhat indispensible place in my day-to-day life, especially considering how easily I lived without it not too long ago.

In a few days, I will be headed off for my annual 6-day silent retreat. Gasps from the crowd, I know, but I love it. And I crave it every single year—six entire days of inaccessibility, of quiet, of solitude, with all that time, space, and energy to be able to center solely and completely on God and the “stuff” of the spiritual life. Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not anti-technology (obviously—I’m writing for a blog, for heaven’s sake!) but I do recognize its limitations and its inherent vortex characteristic that gets me all wrapped up in minutes, newsfeeds, updates, and tweets. Again, I’m not anti-that. But sometimes it literally gets me all a-twitter and makes it too easy for me to forget what’s truly important—what’s truly Real. So…as I enter into six blissful days of silence, I may not have an iPhone or an iPad with me, but I will have one ‘i’ with me: the great I Am. And that’s more than enough.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus

For as long as I can remember, the Sacred Heart has been a part of my life. When I was growing up (even though I didn’t notice this until I had come back home to visit as an adult), there was a framed image of the Consecration of the Family to the Sacred Heart in a very prominent place in my house. I was educated by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a high school named Cor Jesu. I joined a community whose charism is entwined with Sacred Heart devotion. And I have uttered the phrase “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you” more times than I think would be countable if they had been recorded. Certainly, the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been near and dear to me for the entirety of my life.

But what, exactly, is the Sacred Heart? Probably artistic images come to mind…or prayers…or even a vague sense of the love God has for each of us. I was having a conversation yesterday with a few people about what their understanding is of the “Sacred Heart,” and our discussion was relatively profound, I think. One person described the Sacred Heart as fire…that which enkindles, inflames, and ignites us into loving action. Someone else described the Sacred Heart as the image that in itself contains all the love of God and all the pain He endured out of love for us, and the mysterious unity of those two realities: love and pain.

What is the Sacred Heart for you? Or, more accurately: who is the Sacred Heart for you? Today, we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May the love of His Heart reach out to you, reach out through you, and be a blessing for all.

Corpus Christi

For some, Corpus Christi is a town in Texas. Catholics would recognize, however, that this town is named after the real thing. Corpus Christi is Latin for the Body of Christ. Just last week, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, we celebrated the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ given us in the Eucharist. Many parishes may have had a Corpus Christi procession for the feast this past weekend, but whether or not you had an opportunity to worship with the Blessed Sacrament, the feast of Corpus Christi is something that can endure well past the processions and incense.

The Eucharist is a gift for us each and every day—a gift of Christ taken, blessed, broken, and shared. And this Christ who gives himself to us at each Eucharistic liturgy, well, he asks us to offer ourselves as gifts as well—not just to him in worship, but to one another as we make up the Body of Christ. How might you offer your time, your energy, your very self to others this week, that the love of Christ’s Heart might pulse through you?



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