Monthly Archives: November 2016

Saint Andrew, the brother of Peter

We celebrate today the Feast of St. Andrew, whom Jesus  called on the lakeshore of Galilee along with his brother Peter to follow him. The gospels give only a few details about Andrew, like the other disciples he walks in the shadow of Jesus. The concern of the gospels is Jesus himself;  we know his disciples only through him.  What do we know about Andrew?

He’s a fisherman, of course. Andrew is a Greek name. The area around the Sea of Galilee was multi-cultural, which may explain why his Jewish family gave him that name.  A lot of trade went on in Bethsaida, where Andrew was from. Did he speak some Greek?

If so, that may be why later in John’s gospel, Andrew and Philip bring some Greek pilgrims to Jesus before his death. Jesus rejoices meeting them, because he sees them as signs that his passion and glorification will reach all nations. One could see also  why the Greek church has Andrew as its chief patron: he introduced them to Jesus.

It’s reasonable to see Andrew as someone interested in religious questions. He’s described as a disciple of John the Baptist, who points Jesus out to him. Jesus then invites Andrew and another disciple to stay for a day with him. “Come and see.” Afterwards, Andrew “found his brother Simon and said to him ‘We have found the Messiah.’” (John 1,35-41)

For the Greek Church  Andrew is the first of the apostles because he’s the first to follow Jesus; then he calls his brother. That was the role of an apostle–to follow Jesus and call others. Each month we honor one of the apostles, In November it’s Andrew.

Tradition says he was crucified on the beach at Patras in Greece. Besides Greece, Andrew’s also the patron of Russia and Scotland.


We humbly implore you, O Lord,

that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew

was for your Church a preacher and pastor,

so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.



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Morning Thoughts: Mary’s Mother



Albrecht Durer, “Virgin and Child with Saint Anne”, ca. 1519 (The Met)


Christmas is a time for grandmothers.

They bake and cook and decorate. Their homes become mini North Poles, diplomatic outposts of Santa’s Castle.

At its core, Christmas is of course all about Jesus. All about Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. All about the Holy Family.

The Holy Family is an extended family though. And it doesn’t stop at grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, or even cousins and distant cousins.

Just ask Saints Joachim and Anne, Zechariah and Elizabeth, or John the Baptist—not to mention all the unknown relatives whom the child Jesus surely encountered throughout His Galilean days. Ask any one of them about the far-reaching ripple effects of family grace.

Those touched by Jesus have a tendency to appear bigger than life.

Look at Santa Claus.

Most of us are aware that he is really Saint Nick.

But do we stop to wonder who Mrs. Claus really is?

I think she’s Saint Anne.

After all, Mrs. Claus is seen as everyone’s grandmother, especially when it comes to holiday cheer. But when it comes to truly celebrating the birth of Jesus, it is through Saint Anne that we approach the gates of Christ’s Nativity.

Mary’s Mother holds a special key. She is first among grandmas, first among those who pinch chubby cheeks, who pass along one more extra sugary treat.


Saint Anne help us. Speak to us. Show us how to be grand parents to all those around us, especially the little ones. Stir up the spirit of Advent. Bake away the holiday blues. Cook up a dish of Christmas love that only your hearth can serve.


Come one, come all, to the home of Saint Anne. Come with me to Grandma’s house for a holiday visit. Taste and see. Enter her kitchen, where the hot chocolate can always fit a little more whipped cream, where you hear the constant refrain: “eat…eat…eat…”

At Grandma’s your plate is never empty.

Her table is continually set.

She always sees Jesus as having just been born.

She is always wrapping Him up tightly in swaddling clothes.

It is simply grand.

To Grandma, Jesus is always an innocent child.

And she can’t help but see Him deep within both you and me.


—Howard Hain




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Tuesday: 1st Week of Advent

Advent invites us to become children, not physically, of course, but spiritually. A child stands a top  Isaiah’s peaceable kingdom in today’s reading:

“The calf and the young lion shall browse together,

with a little child to guide them.”

“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,

and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (Isaiah 11,1)

Jesus enters this world as a child and, before saying a word,  speaks from the manger in Bethlehem and his years in Nazareth. Later, he invites his followers to become like little children and praised the childlike.

“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,

for although you have hidden these things

from the wise and the learned

you have revealed them to the childlike.” Luke 10

What does he mean by “childlike”? I remember what St. Leo the Great said about this teaching of Jesus. To be a child means to be “free from crippling anxiety, to be forgetful of injuries, to be sociable and to keep wondering at all things.” (Leo the Great)

Think about it.  In a nurturing home a child is cared for, fed and clothed, and brought into life in a thousand small ways that say “Don’t be afraid, we love you.”

But we can lose the sense of being cared for as we grow  and assume adult responsibilities. We can become crippled by anxieties by believing that it’s all up to us; everything depends on me. No one takes care of me.

From infancy to his death, Jesus lived as a child of God, his Father, and knew he was in God’s caring hands. Shouldn’t we follow him?  No matter how young or old we are, we reach our hands out in prayer to “Our Father.”

Think about those other qualities of spiritual childhood, “forgetfulness of injuries,” “sociability” “wonder at all things.” They are gifts of childhood. Don’t lose them.


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Monday: 1st Week of Advent


Isaiah 4,2-6:  A cloud by day and a fire by night

Matthew 8:5-11:  The Roman centurion at Capernaum.

As Isaiah makes glowing promises about the holy mountain, Mount Zion, to which all people will come,  Assyrian armies rumble in to Palestine. “What are you talking about?” people say, “Can’t you see what’s at the door?”. But the prophet insists they will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks and there will be no wars any more.

Today’s reading, more promises.There will be a cloud by day and a fire by night over this holy mountain. The mountain’s on a journey, an exodus. Wonderful imagery for solid institutions that have been around for centuries. You’re still on the move, and God will guide you.

The Assyrians must have had the equivalent of the Roman centurions as the backbone of their armies. If you can get to them, you’ve got the army.Powerful men, loyal soldiers. They’re going to tell their troops: “Lay down your swords and spears.”

The Roman centurion in today’s gospel comes humbly before Jesus. “Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof, but say the word and my servant will be healed.” He comes with a faith never found in Israel.

The Messiah will touch the proud and the strong. The centurion is our witness.


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Advent Weekday Readings: 1st Week

 The Old Testament readings for Mass during the 1st Week of Advent  are  from the Prophet Isaiah, promising salvation for all. They’re wonderful Advent readings.

All nations will stream to God’s mountain for instruction. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2,1-5) Wars are no more; a fragmented humanity becomes one. Quite a claim, considering that Assyrian armies were laying waste the towns and cities of Israel and Judea as he spoke. But God’s promise trumps all human conquests.

For Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord is Jerusalem, on which the Jewish temple is built. All nations will come there; they will be fed a rich banquet (Wednesday), there the poor will triumph (Thursday), the blind will see (Friday); it’s the rock where people dwell safely, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together (Tuesday). The prophet’s imagery is strikingly beautiful.

The Gospels  for the 1st week point to the fulfillment of the Isaian prophecies in Jesus Christ. The Roman centurion humbly approaching Jesus in Capernaum represents all the nations that will come to him. (Monday) Jesus praises the childlike, who will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Tuesday) He feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) He affirms that his kingdom will be built on rock. (Thursday) He gives sight to the blind. (Friday)

Matthew’s gospel, source of many of our Advent readings, portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol) and his miracles benefit all who come.  He is the new temple, the new Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us, who raises our hope beyond human hope.

Here’s a schedule of the readings for the First Week of Advent:

Monday . Isaiah 4,2-6: God will be present on Mount Sion. Matthew 8:5-11:   The Roman centurion at Capernaum

Tuesday: Isaiah 11:1-10:  Promise of a king, a shoot from the stump of Jesus. The Spirit of the Lord is upon him. Luke 10:21-24:  God reveals himself to little ones. Blessed are the eyes that see. what you see.

Wednesday: Isaiah 25: 6-10:  A banquet of rich food is offered on this mountain. Matthew 15:29-37:  Feeding of multitude.

Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-6:  On the day of the Lord the poor will triumph. Matthew 7: 21-24-27:  Build your house on rock.

Friday: Isaiah 29:17-24:  The deaf shall hear and the blind shall see. Matthew 9:27-31:   Jesus gives two blind men sight.

Saturday: Isaiah 30:19-21-23-26 People are healed and given an abundance of gifts. Matthew 9:35; 10:1, 5, 6-8  Jesus pities the lost sheep and sends his disciples to cure, to raise the dead and give life.

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1st Sunday of Advent: Climbing the Mountain of the Lord

Listen to the homily here:

“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,” the Prophet Isaiah says as we begin the season of Advent. The land where Jesus lived is a land of mountains and hills. The Mount of Olives, the temple mount, Mount Tabor, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Mount Carmel. In Jesus’ day, people climbed mountains, first of all, to see where they were going. No Google Maps then. Hardly any road signs. Yet, from a high place you could see the way ahead, the dangers as well as the rewards. A mountain gave you direction and perspective.

Advent is for looking ahead more than looking back. Jesus is he who is, who was and is to come. In Advent, we look for him on our journey of life.

In Jesus’ day, people also went up a mountain to experience God. God was in the high places, they believed. You met God when you went up high places.

Could I suggest that Advent is a time to experience God who awaits us. God is waiting for us in Jesus Christ. It’s a time to reset direction and perspective. We so easily get lost. “Let us climb the mountain of the Lord.” It’s time seek refreshment from God.

In today’s gospel, Jesus uses the phrase, “the Days of Noah.” Those days are days to beware of. The Days of Noah are days when “people are eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” Nothing wrong with that, you say. I

But even good things can become routine, draining life out of them.  The days of Noah are “same old, same old” days, nothing’s happening, nothing’s going on, and nothing’s there as far as we can see. Might as well turn on the television and have a beer. The days of Noah are days of blinding routine that turn us into sleep walkers. We miss out on what life brings.

So what’s my life and your life like? Are we frozen in the days of Noah?  Let’s pray that God take us out of that kind of day. Let’s pray that God lift us up and help us see the good things around us and the good things that await us.

Today the season of Advent begins. It’s a time of hope. It saves us from being trapped by routine. Stay awake.  Advent is a time that proclaims a Great Day. “Let us climb the mountain of the Lord.”


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Saving Santa Claus

Santa Claus came to town today in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Parade. From the parade he went into the store  for Black Friday and he’ll be there for the rest of the days till Christmas.


But he’s more than a saleman, isn’t he?

My good friend, Mauro DeTrizio, whose family comes from Bari, Italy, has had a lifelong devotion to St. Nicholas. He’s also a good videographer and he has dreamt to produce a video on St. Nicholas, our Santa Claus.

More than a salesman, Santa’s a saint.  he reminds us that Christmas, more than a season for getting, is a time for giving. His quiet giving mirrors God’s love shown in Jesus Christ.

Telling his story is one of the ways to save him from being captured by Macys and Walmart and all the others. First, take  a look at our version for little children. Then, you might want to go on to our  modest contribution for bigger children– like us:


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