Saturday, March 25, 2006

Be It Done Unto Me According To Your Word...

Eve's NO!

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 1: 6)

Did you ever wonder why we (meaning Catholics) venerate Mary? (not worship...we do not worship matter what some Protestants may have been told) I think if you asked most Catholics, they really couldn't give a good answer.

The above Bible passage is a continuation from my previous post. It's Eve's response to Satan as he tempts her with the Tree of Knowledge. She looks at the tree and even though God tells her not to eat it, she eats it anyway.

Then she gives it to her husband to eat too.

And then man falls.

Note that Man falls through Adam's sin and not Eve's. Paul affirms in the New Testament that Adam's sin is what caused the downfall of man and not Eve's response to Satan. It's only after Adam eats of the fruit that they realize that they were naked.

(Side Note: They were always naked! When they ate from the fruit, it's the first time that they took their eyes off of God and on to themselves...and felt shame.)

Unfortunately, it was Eve's initial, "NO!" that led to Adam's sin which led to the Fall.

Mary's YES!
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1: 26-38)

Today, March 25, is the Catholic Feast Day of the Annunciation. If you're Protestant and you're not sure what that means, it's the day that the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she has found favor with God and will bear His Son. This is the logical day to celebrate it as it's nine months before Christmas Day.

Imagine how Mary must have felt. She was probably around 13 years old...although the age doesn't really matter. Single but betrothed and a virgin. And an angel appears to her and says you're gonna have God's Son. Her whole life was about to change. She lived in a small town. People were going to talk. Perhaps snicker at a pregnant young girl. Rumors were probably going to spread. And she had no clue as to how Joseph was going to respond to all of this.

What's her response?

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

(Side Note: Her "How can this be..." is not a question of disbelief of God as Zechariah did, "How shall I know this?" for which he was struck mute. Hers is more of a "What's it gonna take to make this happen..." statement. At least that's how I've been taught it.)

And at that moment, her "Yes!" sets the foundation for the restoration of mankind.

Her "Yes!" was necessary to fix Eve's "No!"

So as Man falls through Adam's Original rejection of God (caused by Eve's "NO!"), Man is redeemed through Jesus Christ's obedience to God (caused by Mary's "YES!").

This is why Catholics hold Mary in such high regard. We call her the "New Eve" as Jesus Christ is called the "New Adam."

This is the understanding of the Catholic Church today and it's the understanding of the early Church Fathers all the way back to the first century.

We need to hold her as a model. We need to live a life like hers. When we hear what God wants from us--no matter how much it affects matter how inconvenient it may be.

We need to say "YES!"

The Hail Mary

Hail Mary! Full of Grace! The Lord is with thee! (Luke 1:28)
Blessed are thou amongst women
And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus (Luke 1: 42)

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now...and at the hour of our death.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Greatest Lie

But the serpent said to the woman: "You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."
(Genesis 3: 1-5)
Satan lies.

He lied to Eve and lies to us now today. He tempts us. He wants to take us away from God and wants us to put ourselves in the center of our lives in place of God.

Because he hates us.

He wants us to argue with God. He wants us to argue with our neighbors. He wants us to go to war. He wants us to kill if not with weapons then with our words. He wants division.

He envies us as he envied Adam and Eve. For we are with God and he is not. Through his envy, he wants to take us away from God. Not by turning ourselves to him but rather by turning ourselves inward to ourselves.

Recognize the lies and reject Satan. Avoid him and ask God for help.

Unfortunately for us, what Eve did not realize was that Satan was lying to her the whole time. The truth was that she already was like God as He created her in His image and likeness. The truth was that she already had knowledge of what was good and what was bad.

Satan lied and said that man will not die but rather become like god, the ironic Truth is that God fixed the mistake by becoming a man and dying.

Because He loves us.

Thank You, God.

I love You.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15)

How important is forgiveness?

Over the weekend, I have been reflecting on Matthew 18: 21-35. Great parable which I won't add to my post but please read when you have a chance. I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

In life, there will be people who cross your path--some close to you and some not--who will hurt you. Either intentionally or unintentionally, they will attack your very being. Perhaps they don't like the color of your skin or your faith. Maybe they don't agree with your convictions. Or maybe they're a family member who's been holding a grudge for oh so many years and lashes out at you.

And then you get hurt.

And you hold on to that hurt and let it fester inside of you. It starts to control you and soon, when you see that person who hurt you, you lash back at them to "even the score."

Is that what we should do? Is that what God wants?


God wants us to forgive--the way He forgave us. We put Him on a cross and nailed Him to it. The Jews didn't kill Jesus. We did. All the sinners who have ever walked on this planet. Every person who has ever said, "Thanks God for the advice but I'm doing it my way." With every sin we commit, we pound that nail into His flesh harder and harder. With every sin, we make Him scream louder and louder in agony.

And yet, He still forgives the penitent.

When someone hurt us, I can assure you, we don't feel the same pain that Jesus did on the cross. Forgive them as He forgives us. Don't dwell on the pain and the hurt. Don't let it control your life.

As Christ acknowledged His pain while hanging naked on a cross to die, we too must acknowledge our pain when someone hurts us for we cannot forgive without acknowledging that we've been hurt. Take the pain and the hurt and nail it to the cross and forgive whoever it is who hurt you.

What if we don't? What if we let it fester inside us? What if we let it eat away at our soul?

How important is forgiveness?

Our salvation depends on it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me

Today, I'm taking a small break from my Lenten posts to write about St. Patrick. As most people probably know, March 17 is St. Patrick's Day. St. Patrick is one of those saints that has transcended the Catholic Church and has their days celebrated by all people. (Usually by going to the local Irish bar and having a few pints of Guinness and by wearing green).

But there's more to Saint Patrick than this. Sure we know that he's Irish and we also know that we celebrate his feast day by eating corned beef and cabbage. What else?

Well, to learn more about St. Patrick, please visit this site which tells us what we need to know about him.

The above prayer is his and I love it for it's simplicity and how it shows that this man had a very good love for our Lord.

I'll end this post with a quote from Saint Patrick himself:

I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.

If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ's name. I want to spend myself for that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor.
It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: "They shall come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.

O Saint Patrick, thank you for your wonderful example. I ask that you pray for all who work to deliver the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world and that today--on your feast day--ask Jesus Christ, whom you love above all things, to touch the hearts of all who read this post.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Lost Son--Part 3

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, 'Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, 'Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.' He said to him, 'My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'" (Luke 15: 26-32)

I think this is the most intriguing part of this parable. If you may recall, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who have just complained that He welcomes sinners and eats with them. (Luke 15: 2) This parable is a rebuttal--one of many--to their complaint.

The older brother, after toiling in the field all day hears the celebration and wants to know what all the fuss is about. He asks the servants who tell him that his brother has returned and the father is celebrating.

What's the older son's reaction? Does he too become excited and happy and want to celebrate?


He becomes angry at his father and refuses to enter the house. His heart--not filled with love--is filled with envy. He doesn't want to welcome his brother as he probably does not love him (or his father).

How does the father react to this? He goes out and pleads with the older son to join the party. But the son sadly refuses. I obeyed your orders. I served you. But you never gave me anything.

Oh how blind he is. For the father has given him everything he owns. And he doesn't even realize it.

Lest anyone think that God hates the Pharisees (from Matthew 23), He does not hate them. He loves them. He wants them to join in the feast. They are the elder son in this parable.

The elder son represents all people who take God for granted (Christians and non-Christians). The ones who say they are Christian and do all the Christian things but don't really love Him. Please note that the elder son never says he loves his father...just that he served him and obeyed him.

Let's not be like this.

If you notice, Jesus never mentions if the older son ever comes back to the celebration. Did he ever repent as the younger son did? I don't know. It brings me to a final question which is something I would like readers to ponder...

Which one is the lost son?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Lost Son--Part 2

Coming to his senses he thought, 'How many of my father's hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."' So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.' But his father ordered his servants, 'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.' Then the celebration began. (Luke 15: 17-24)

This is the second of a three part post regarding the Prodigal Son. I appreciate the comments that have been left in my comments section from the first post. Honestly, there is a lot of depth to this parable and it has so many dimensions and meanings that we could probably write an entire book just on the parable of the Prodigal Son (if one hasn't already been written.) I'm only covering one facet of this beautiful parable.

In this section of the parable, the lost son realizes just how lost he is. He is in a foreign land working for a cruel boss and finally comes to his senses.

This section is all about repentance and a father's love. He realizes that without his father he is nothing. He is lost. He is dying from hunger and yearns to be a lowly servant to his father. For even a servant to his father is well cared for. He decides to go back to his father and ask him to be his hired hand for he is no longer worthy.

And there's his father. Waiting for him.

Waiting and looking out into the horizon. Waiting for his lost son to return back to him. Why? Because he loves his son who is now dead to him and his desire is for him to return.

And when he sees his son far far away in the horizon, his love for his son fills his heart and he RUNS out and meets him and before his son can even say, "I'm sorry for all the pain I've caused you"...

He embraces him.

He kisses him.

He loves him.

The son repents and the father celebrates for his dead son is now found.

What a great example of God's love for us. God wants us to repent. He wants us to have a contrite heart when we stray from Him and when we have that, before we even have a chance to say, "I'm sorry God!" He's already welcomed us back into His family.

For all sinners, God is waiting for us. He wants us to repent.

He wants us to repent and come back on our knees wanting to be His servant. Not worthy of His love or our righteousness.

And when we do, He will run out and embrace us and welcome us back.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Lost Son--Part 1

Then he said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.' So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. (Luke 15: 11-16)
I wish you were dead!

That's what this poor soul essentially tells his father at the start of this parable.

I wish you were dead.

Give me my share of your inheritance and let me do whatever I want with it.

I wish you were dead.

I will take all that you have given me and leave to a far away land. Far away from you and far away from your control over me.

I wish you were dead.

I will take the talents you gave me and waste them--on things that I want to spend them on.

You can't tell me what to do...for You are dead to me!

And then disaster strikes and this life of licentiousness leads to a life of serving pigs! (Rember...Jews don't think too highly of pigs) and then I long to be a live like them and eat like them. And I'm not even worthy enough to do that!

This is what a life of lawlessness leads to. This is what a life without God is like. We see it in our society now and it is evident in our media, in our schools and in our governments.

All of us start out as part of God's family. All of us have unique gifts and talents that God graciously bestowed on us.

Let's use them wisely--for the greater glory of God-- and not waste them--or else we'll end up wanting to live like pigs.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Redemptive Suffering

"A thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. " (2 Corinthians: 7-10)

Oh Lord, why is there suffering in the world?

This question is asked whenever we see a person dying. The pain that a person endures as their life is drawn out of them due to an illness like cancer is something indescribable. Some people choose to avoid it through assisted suicide and some persevere until the very end.

Suffering is a result of the Fall of Man. In Eden, there was to be no suffering. After the Fall, Man brought a curse to the earth that has scorched it since the beginning of time.

Does God want us to suffer?


Why? I don't know. Who am I to question God? However, He wanted Christ to suffer and Christ knew the suffering that was to come and His anxiety was so great that He sweated blood. Perhaps He wanted Christ to suffer as an example to all of us who have to suffer to a much lesser degree every day of our lives.

He also wanted Paul to suffer as noted in the above passage. Paul did not want whatever affliction he had and asked God to take it away from him. God's response: "My grace is sufficient for you."

What are we to do with suffering?

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24)

My father died from stomach cancer two years ago and although he suffered immeasurably, he never showed it. At that same time, my wife was expecting our first (and for now only) child. As you could imagine it was a time of great joy and great sorrow in our family.

In my father's last few weeks as he laid in his bed dying, a priest called him. He asked him if he'd had his last confession (which he'd already had) and then told him something that I'll never forget. (My father didn't tell me this...the priest did months later only after asking him.)

The suffering that my father was going through. The immeasurable pain he was feeling. The priest told my father to "Give it meaning." The term that the Church uses is "Redemptive Suffering." It's what Christ did on His path to the cross and it's what Paul is referring to in the above passages.

In redemptive suffering, we bind the suffering to our intercessory prayers and through the suffering the prayer has more meaning to God.

Although my father never told me what he was doing, I know that through all the pain that he went through, his prayer to God through it all was:

"Lord, I am suffering for my unborn grandchild."

When I think about that, I cry.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)

I've been having trouble writing a post lately. I don't know if I am having a writer's block or maybe what I want to write about, God doesn't want me to write or something altogether different.

As I started writing my original post, I scrapped it and decided to write about sin. I don't know why...perhaps God is pushing me this way or perhaps it's just me writing about sin. Anyhow, the above Gospel passage was read at the Catholic Mass last Sunday. It's Christ's first commandment to us. Repent and believe in the Gospel...Repent from what? Obviously, it's from our sins. Which brings me to the next question:

What is sin?

To be honest with you, I typed the above phrase into Google and got some interesting web sites that only confused me as I read people's thoughts on sins.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it as follows: "The rejection of God and opposition to Him" or to put it more simply...

Actively choosing not to love God (and one another).

Why would we do that? Because, unfortunately, we are prone to sin and sometimes, we choose to do what we want as opposed to what God wants. It's been like that since Adam and will continue to be like that until Final Judgement.

What are we to do? Repent. As often as possible. Every day if necessary.

And of course, Love God.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18)

Lent is upon us.

Lent is a time of conversion. It's a time of living simply. This is the reason why the Mardi Gras/Carnivale celebrations are so festive. It's the last celebration before Lent begins.

During Lent, we are called to focus ourselves more on God and help us prepare ourselves for the Easter Sunday. In order to prepare, we must truly recognize what God did for us through His sorrowful Passion.

For in order for Christ to Resurrect on Easter, He had to die on Good Friday. And in order to die, He had to suffer. And His suffering was brutal. And His suffering was for me (and all of us) for which I should be truly sorry.

On Ash Wednesday at Mass, the above Gospel passages were read all over the world from the largest cities to the smallest towns on all the continents. The passages are a reminder of what Catholics are called to do during Lent to help us prepare and to help us grow closer to God as we reflect on His sorrowful death. We are asked to grow in conversion and righteousness specifically through increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

When all three are combined and bound together. We grow in the Lord and are graced with His presence in ways that are astounding (and sometimes truly humbling). Of course, we are always called to prayer but during Lent, we are more focused through our Liturgies and activities on Christ's Passion. At Catholic Churches worldwide, The Way of the Cross is celebrated throughout Fridays during Lent. When praying the Rosary, we have more focus on the Sorrowful Mysteries at this time and our Liturgical readings are all focused on repentance and preparation for Christ's crucifixion.

Fasting is a process that can be used to purge ourselves of anything that may keep us away from God. It's not the traditional fasting (although it can be if you choose) but rather something that one gives up during Lent as a sacrifice. Why do we give it up? Because we love God and we show our love through the sacrifice. If a person enjoys morning coffee, they may sacrifice drinking it during Lent as a minor offering to God to show their love for Him. Whatever is given up should be something that's meaningfully significant to the individual. If a person hates going to the opera and decides they're giving up going to the opera, that's probably not a worthy sacrifice. When we fast (or sacrifice), we should tie it with our prayer. Whatever it is that we're praying for, we should offer our fast for that prayer. Example, if we're praying for an individual, fast for the healing (or conversion) of that individual.

Almsgiving should be done because we love our neighbors and through the lowliest of men, we can find God...and perchance bring them closer to Him too.

Above all, we do these things privately. We don't do them to show off or to compare ourselves to our neighbors. We do them because we love God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength.