Category Archives: Motivational

Morning Thoughts: Up and Away

by Howard Hain

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“In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

—Luke 14:33


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Butterflies fly.

They sail beautifully and somewhat clumsily at the same time.

It’s as if even their own weight is almost too much to carry.

Hard to imagine them bringing anything else along for the ride.

Paper-thin wings—watercolored and air-dried—the rain keeps them tucked away, hidden, out of sight.

Even little drops of morning dew keep them from flight.

But the hour will come.

Just wait and see.

Still. Quiet. Like an upright leaf.

They position their wings just right.

The sun to burn away all unwanted drops.

———

Have you dew-covered wings?

Does the dew of life weigh you down?

Do you want what’s unwanted to be burned away?

Have you tried pointing your wings toward the sun?

Or do you really not want to float above?


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“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.”

—Galatians 5:13


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Why Read the Old Testament?

Some people complain about the selections from the Old Testament we’re reading at weekday Mass these past few weeks. Too long, they say, they don’t tell us anything. They’d rather hear what Jesus is saying and doing.

Why do we read from the Old Testament? Reading from the Old Testament is a lot like reading from the New York Times or the Daily News, or following David Muir on ABC each evening. You’re not going to hear much about Jesus there either. The media gives us the news of the day as it happens and, especially these days, it’s not encouraging.

Not much encouraging news in our Old Testament reading today from the Book of Numbers either. (Numbers 13-14) Giants are out there blocking the way to the promised land. Israel’s scouts face giants as they reconnoiter the world ahead. There’s no way ahead.

Our media tells us the same: giants are blocking our way– North Korea, the Middle East, storms from climate change, political giants who seem to get in the way of a world of justice and peace. And we don’t have answers what to do.

But the Old Testament tells us more than the media. It’s salvation history. More than the story of the Jews, the Old Testament is the story of the human race and all creation on a journey, from the beginning of time to its end. Human sinfulness, tragedies and delays are there, but the story begins and ends in hope. God is there.

That makes the Old Testament stories so different from the stories the media serves up everyday. God is there from the beginning. That’s the way our selection today from the Book of Numbers begins: “The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]‘Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.’” And God is there as his people experience the consequences of their foolishness and lack of faith.

The columnist David Brooks in the Times yesterday said he has to think less about Donald Trump or he’s going to go crazy. He needs to think more about the deeper shifts taking place in society, he says.

I wonder if thinking about the deeper shifts is enough to stop you from going crazy these days. We need hope from another source. That’s where the Old Testament and the rest of the scriptures comes in. Some prefer calling it the “First Testament.” It testifies that the first thing to keep in mind about time is that God is there, from beginning to the end. God is our Savior.

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Friday Thoughts: Just The Facts

by Howard Hain

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All human beings are creations of God.

God loves all His creation.

He wills the best for each and every part of it.

His will is the best.

You are one of His creations.

So is the person you hate.

So is the person you dislike tremendously.

So is the person who annoys you to death.

God loves us all.

God offers us forgiveness for being so unkind to His other creations.

He loves us so much He gives us the freedom to choose the wrong path.

He loves us so much He sent His Only Begotten Son to show us the right way.

Jesus loves us so much He sent the Holy Spirit to strengthen and accompany us.

God smiles.

All three persons smile.

They are One God.

God’s love is all powerful and infinitely kind.

God’s gift of freedom is a gift He intends for us to use.

God desires for us to choose to become like Him.


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St. John Vianney

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August 4th  is the feast of St. John Vianney, (1786-1859) the patron of parish priests. Born in Lyon, France, he had to struggle to become a priest and once ordained was made pastor of a small parish in an out of the way place called Ars. “He cared for this parish in a marvelous way by his preaching , his mortification, prayer and good works,” his biography says, especially by his skill in helping people who came to him for confession. Soon people were coming from everywhere to Ars.

Good to pray for parish priests like him, struggling to minister in the church today as it goes through difficult times of change and questioning.

John Vianney knew the value of prayer and wanted to become like St. Francis of Assisi and St. Colette who “used to see our Lord and talk to him as we talk to one another. How unlike them we are! How often we come to church and have no idea what to do and what to ask for. We know how to speak to another human being, but not to God. “

His simple sermons challenged and changed those who heard him.

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Morning Thoughts: Over Easy

by Howard Hain

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A run-of-the-mill bakery.

A hand truck full of eggs.

A handful of women from Latin America.

Neither load is fragile.

A woman’s strength may appear as a delicate shell, and if poorly handled she too may break.

But strength is not a matter of not breaking.

It’s a matter of showing up, chipped, broken, sometimes even shattered.

It’s a matter of overcoming.

Of producing.

Of providing.

Of letting go.

One buttered roll at a time.

Preparing the day “café con leche” by “café con leche”.

The eggs slowly disappear.

The ladies change names.

Mary, the Mother of God, remains.

———

“Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew, of my Savior crucified.”

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It’s a matter of believing. Of dreaming. Of seeing what can’t be seen. Of loving who can’t be loved.

It’s a matter of hope that never ends, of hope that sustains the very faith from which it came.

It’s a matter of saying “yes” to each and every hour—for someone must be present to serve God’s promise of daily bread.

———

She who stands closest to the foot of the cross most resembles the man being crucified. She must embody Compassion, she still hears His breath, expanding and contracting deep within. Suffering is not be feared. Being without the source of all consolation and peace is just too terrifying.

The “fear of the Lord” keeps us within the grasp of Jesus’ hand.

It “is the beginning of wisdom.” Mary is there to begin. She remains till the end.

Wisdom begets Wisdom.

And she most often looks like a little unpresuming lady working behind a busy breakfast counter.

She is a lady nonetheless.

She is the mother of all I hope for.

———

“Pray for us, O holy Mother of God; that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

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August is Here

At the start of each month I email members of the Confraternity of the Passion and anyone else who asks a calendar indicating the scripture readings for the Mass and the feast days of the saints we remember that month.

The reason I do is that following the church calendar is an important way to grow in faith.It puts us in touch with the scriptures in our daily lectionary and the wonderful world of the saints.

Reading the daily scriptures together with fellow believers throughout the world develops a common mind, as it were. Fortunately, not just Catholics use the daily lectionary, some Protestant churches use it now too; so more Christians read the same scriptures together through the year.

Praying together can bring us together, we hope. Praying the scriptures together, which the Catholic church encouraged at the Second Vatican Council, is a step towards Christian unity. Blessed Dominic Barberi, Passionist whose feast is August 26th was especially dedicated to the work of Christian unity.

This month at Mass we continue reading from Matthew’s gospel. With chapter 14, Jesus begins to establish his church, built on Peter, a rock, but a frail man who with the other disciples must follow Jesus to the cross.

The following chapters from Matthew offer an instruction about the nature of the church. Its members must care for each other and forgive those who have offended them. At the same time they’re obliged to correct their fellow Christians, even to the point of separation from the community. (Matthew 18)

During the first few weeks of August we’ll continue reading from the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers about the Jewish exodus from Egypt led by Moses. Then we’ll read about their occupation of Canaan under Joshua and the Judges.

It’s a brutal occupation. Our lectionary softens our exposure to it by limiting what we read about it, but even so, why the violence? Why so many exterminated in the name of God? The scriptures raise questions and cause objections as well as give answers and raise our hopes.

Here’s where good commentaries and wise answers help; otherwise, we lapse into biblical fundamentalism. I’m reading the commentaries from the New American Bible, which recognize we can’t read these books as literal history. There’s a human hand at work in them.

God reveals himself progressively to the human family, which is intent on its own welfare and quick to destroy rather than build. God works in mud. Here’s a quote I like:

“Progressive revelation throughout Israel’s history produced far more lofty ideals, as when the prophets see all the nations embracing faith in Yahweh, being joined to Israel, and living in peace with one another (Is 2:2419:232545:2225Zec 8:2223), and the New Testament teaches us to love even our enemies (Mt 5:4345).” (New American Bible, Commentary)

There’s another way to look at the violence and exterminations found in the Book of Joshua:

“The theological message of the book is unmistakable. God has been faithful to the promise of the land. If Israel relies totally on the Lord for victory; if Israel is united as a people; if the law of herem is kept and no one grows rich from victory in war—then and only then will Israel possess the land.”

We’re a long way from possessing the land. “Your kingdom come.”

 

 

 

 

 

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17th Sunday a: Finding Life’s Treasures

For today’s homily, please play the video below:

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