Archive for the ‘trust’ Category

Brief comments about the Corapi controversy

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Many of you may be familiar with Fr. John Corapi, a priest who had a very public speaking ministry. After a dramatic conversion, he traveled the world preaching the Gospel, inspiring many to come back to the Catholic Church with his orthodox teaching.

Recently however, a terrible scandal emerged. A woman accused him of sexual impropriety and he was suspended from his priestly duties. A few months after this suspension, Fr. Corapi took it upon himself to discontinue any public ministry as a priest, dropping “Father” from his name. He became his own entity,  known now as The Black Sheep Dog. On June 16, the following statement was released on his blog in written form and as a video.

This statement created much confusion among those who had supported him and many condemned him for leaving the priesthood. Others sympathized with his reasoning. A tidal wave of responses poured in, many frankly quite judgmental and vitriolic. Well-known Catholic bloggers such as Mark Shea and publications such as the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor published pretty harsh commentaries on the situation.

I used to enjoy watching Fr. Corapi on EWTN for he spoke with such authority. When the scandal broke, I shook my head in disbelief, not just over the charges and his actions, but also over the harshness of the response from fellow Catholics.

I chose to wait and see, preferring to discern from the fruits of his actions. I believe now that the fruit born of this scandal is confusion, and confusion is not of God. It leads me to back away from Fr. Corapi. It’s never good to attach oneself to a personality – it’s only safe to attach myself to Christ.

Recently SOLT, the order of which Fr. Corapi was a member, released a statement which, in effect, pronounced Corapi guilty. This was the final straw and I knew I had to back away.

These scandals just don’t seem to let up. I live in the Boston area, ground zero to the eruption of the sexual abuse scandal which began to rear its head in 2001. We’re talking about 10 years of relentless scandals. What really hurts is hearing Fr. Corapi himself talk about being spat upon by strangers in airports when he wore the collar. And all along, he may have been scandalized himself.

I have known many wonderful, dedicated  and holy priests. My own husband is a deacon. I still believe that most priests are faithful to their vows,  in their love of God and His people. Hero worship is akin to idolatry and that the only safe course is to keep my eyes fixed on Christ alone for He is where my hope lies.

In lieu of that, I wrote a song back in 2001 called “Still the Same” in which I remind the listener that our Lord never changes but always remains the same. You can listen to it on the player below (lyrics follow), along with a song I wrote about forgiveness. I find myself praying for Fr. Corapi and asking God for forgiveness.

 

My good friend Nick Alexander (who himself says that he is a “faulty vessel” as we all are) said it best: “Be grateful that the Truth of the Gospel came to you, even if it came from a faulty, hypocritical vessel. And don’t let that vessel take up any more of your time, if such becomes that enormous a distraction from that very Truth.” Amen.

Still the Same

CHORUS:
Jesus, He will never change
Ageless, everlasting, still the same

VERSE 1
Yes He died (yes He died)
But forever now He lives
We may sin and do wrong
But He always will forgive
If we turn to Him

VERSE 2
Though our world (though our world)
Is spinning out of our control
And it seems that our pain
Is getting harder to console
He is here for us, He is here for us
He is here for us

VERSE 3
Though your trust (though your trust)
May be broken and betrayed
And the ones that you counted on
You find have feet of clay
You can count on Him, you can count on Him

BRIDGE
The wounds will heal, His church grow strong
We are His Body, in His love we will go on
And every person we must embrace
The poor, the broken
And the fallen in His grace.

CHORUS
Jesus, He will never change (His love flows forever)
Ageless, everlasting, still the same (Through His wounded Body)
(Through His Body)

VERSE 4
You can find (you can find Him)
In the breaking of the bread
He in us, we in Him
And His healing love can spread
Spread forever

 

Lay down your burden

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I just loved the homily given on Sunday by our pastor, Monsignor Mike Foley. He shared a true and compelling story of how he applied the above verses from the gospel reading to his own life.

Several years ago, Monsignor Mike was pastor to the largest parish in our diocese, St. Ann’s in Milford, MA. With approximately 3500+ families in the parish, St. Ann’s at one time had 5 priests to serve. Back in the early 2000′s, the death of a pastor caused the bishop to effectively “shuffle the deck”, redistributing pastors and promoting an associate to pastor to fill the various needs of the diocese. Monsignor was at the bottom of the deck. In the end, he was left alone at St. Ann’s without even the help of a deacon because the deacon was sick. He would not be able to get extra help for at least 3 months. On top of everything else, it was during the height of the sexual abuse scandal which rocked Boston and surrounding communities.

Monsignor knew he was in trouble. He described the various ways he could have reacted:

  • Get angry with the bishop
  • Work himself to death
  • Or turn to the Lord in prayer

He decided to turn the Lord in prayer. At at time when one would think more hours would need to be devoted to work, Monsignor Mike took 2 extra hours (together) out of his day to spend time with the Lord in prayer. He confessed his need and allowed the Lord to give him rest. He took the will of God (His yoke) on his shoulders, surrendering his own will for what he thought ought to be done, and surrendering the will and expectations of others.

In the end,  God showed him how to prioritize his work, helping Monsignor in his decision making, and ultimately, remaking the vision of the parish.

Monsignor Mike really shared from his heart. At one point, standing in front of the altar, he pointed back to the gospel book stating, ” I know that it works to allow God to carry your burden. I’ve lived it!”

All the while I’m marveling at the fact that this holy priest would spend 2 solid hours in prayer. As always, he, in essence, fertilized the desire already in me to deepen my prayer. It’s so helpful when God sets before you such wonderful examples like Monsignor Mike. We at St. Luke the Evangelist in Westboro, MA are so fortunate!

Follow-up to praying for the unemployed

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Faithfulness is the key! I’ve been praying the prayer for the unemployed by Rabbi Linda Bertenthal daily at 10:30am for the last 3 weeks or so, originally lifting up my son’s 2 friends (and eventually my son too, that he would get a raise so he wouldn’t need a second job) and God has been so good in answering:

  • One friend was extended at his full time contract job at Harvard University and was told that this was a hopeful sign that he would eventually be made a permanent employee
  • The other friend just landed a full time job after doing contract work
  • My son got his raise (and a pretty significant one too!)

God is good; faithfulness and trust are the keys.

Here’s the prayer again. Try using your mobile phone or iTouch to remind you to pray – think of it like being at the monastery with the bells ringing for prayer. Drop everything when that bell rings and pray:

Prayer for Those Who are Unemployed

I’ve lost my job, God, and I feel like a failure. I wasn’t prepared for the shame, the humiliation, the anger, the blow to my confidence. I didn’t see it coming. I feel so naked.

I never realized this before, but having a job is like wearing clothing. It makes you feel safe, protected. But being unemployed is like standing naked in front of everyone you know. Someone asks you, “What do you do?” and you feel like hiding. People start pitying you and whispering about you.

I’m scared, God. My family can’t survive without my income. We’re in debt and now there’s no way to climb out of the hole we’ve dug.

Help me, God. Fill me with courage and strength. Restore the faith I used to have in myself. Remind me that I am talented and capable and energetic and loyal.

Steady my nerves, God; calm my fears. Save me from self-pity. Lead me on the path toward a new opportunity, a new hope, a new beginning. Amen.

St. Joseph, patron saint of workers, pray for us.

Update on baby Joseph – keep the prayers coming!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Thank the Lord and our Lady for interceding for baby Joseph – there has been a temporary stay on pulling the plug:

Baby Joseph saved from life support removal –
transfer to Michigan hospital likely

Today’s gospel reading from Mk 9:14-29 is the perfect reading to reflect upon for this miracle – the father of the boy possessed by the demon cries out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Later, Jesus tells the disciples that this type of demon can only be driven out by prayer.

It appears this demon responds to prayer as well. Let us keep up the fight, and I will keep you informed.

Pray for baby Joseph and his family

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Baby Joseph cannot breathe on his own and the hospital plans on pulling the plug at 10am on Monday. The parents only want a tracheotomy done to remove the ventilator so they can take him home and have him die with them. This is such a sad story, but a frightening one too. Please visit this link on Facebook, “Like” it, and offer your prayers for this poor family.

Here is an article about what is happening.

If you don’t have Facebook, please offer prayers for this family. The time when the plug is the be pulled is rapidly approaching.

Only prayer can turn this around. Thanks.

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” Reflections on the readings for Feb. 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Today’s readings
Malachi 3:1-4, Psalm 24:7-10; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40

The title of this post is a quote from Louis Pasteur. I read it today in a biography about Louisa May Alcott entitled Louisa May Alcott A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever. Cheever maintained that many of the great works of writing, such as Little Women , and important discoveries, such as that of the telephone, came about by accident, but that the accident had been prepared for for years.

Curious that today’s Gospel reading bears this out exactly. We read about the prophetess Anna, who bore witness Jesus being presented in the temple Luke 2:36-38):

There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem

While it appeared to be an “accident” that Anna just “happened” to be there when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus, it was indeed an “accident” many years in the planning.

Notice how Anna never left the temple, spending night and day worshiping through fasting and prayer. Her heart was more than ready to perceive that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. She had cleared away everything in her life that would interfere with that insight. It was her singleness of mind, coupled with complete trust in the Lord, that allowed her to see this sight. Imagine her joy in knowing that she had seen the Messiah.

Now don’t get me wrong. Anna did not earn the right to see Jesus. She simply was ready. Isn’t this what our Lord says over and over again in the scriptures that we hear during Advent: “Stay awake.” Remember the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom – 5 had their lamps prepared, the other 5 did not and they were shut out the wedding feast.

All this confirms what I’ve felt for a long time about the spiritual life, that being a disciple of Jesus means to put aside all planning, all control, and just be prepared to ride the wave. The surfer watches for the perfect wave to ride and when he sees it, he jumps on board without hesitation. He can’t “make” a perfect wave happen, it just happens. And it will pass him by if he is not awake to see it.

Therefore, in my life, I want to continue to watch for and ride the waves that Jesus sends, and to catch them without hesitation. Some waves will be easy to ride and others will be far more difficult, even dangerous. But that constant reminder from Mary to just say “yes” is the key.

I just started reading about St. Ignatius and I have a feeling he and I will become good friends. I love his take that we must appreciate God’s creation but also be indifferent to it so that nothing will get in the way of that “yes.” Anna followed that advice and her reward was to see the Lord.

p.s. if you’re a fan of Louisa May Alcott and Little Women, I invite you to visit  my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion.


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How we can see with the eyes of God

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
1 John 2:3-11; Psalm 96:1-6; Luke 2:22-35

I received an iTouch for Christmas from my wonderful husband. At the time that I received it, I was very ungracious about it. I had made up my mind that I didn’t want touch screen technology but rather preferred an older model of the iPod and I was a little annoyed that he got me the iTouch anyway. Even my two grown children remarked about how I reacted with such ingratitude. Ouch!

Now that I have gotten acquainted with it, I am finding that it has many rich possibilities and I’m getting excited about it. My eyes have been opened, my stubbornness has fallen away. I apologized to my husband, told him he was right (not easy to do! :-) ) and asked his forgiveness.

I had made up my mind beforehand that I was not going to like it. I was stubborn, and it caused me to offend someone I love. That certainly is not seeing with the eyes of God!

In today’s Gospel reading, baby Jesus is brought to the temple by his parents to be presented to the Lord. An old man was there, Simeon. He had been patiently waiting for the Messiah to come and trusted in God’s word that he would indeed see the Christ. What if Simeon had been like me, mind made up, stubborn in his perception? What if he had set in his mind that the Messiah should come like a great king, or on a cloud, or in some other spectacular fashion? If he had done that, he would have missed everything! Instead, he was open and trusting, ready in love to receive the vision of the Messiah in the form of a helpless infant. By being open and loving, Simeon saw so much more than a great king. He saw God fully divine and fully human. He saw the unfathomable, uncontainable God incarnate as a little helpless, humble infant. Imagine what he learned about the love of God simply by beholding Jesus in this fashion! Imagine the incredible, uncontainable joy he must have felt as he held this wonder in his arms; the peace and gratitude in knowing that God had kept His promise, not only to Simeon personally, but to the whole human race!

So how do we keep our eyes open and keep our hearts trusting, as Simeon did? John tells us in the first reading: if we keep His commandments, we are in union with Him. If we love our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light, and the light allows us to see with God’s eyes.

How easy it is to be blinded by our pride! My know-it-all attitude regarding my husband’s wonderful gift blinded me to its possibilities, and worse, made me act unkindly towards my husband. I walked in darkness. This may be a small thing to be in the dark about, but it’s the totality of all these ‘small things’ that creates a larger darkness in our lives, a darkness that prevents us from seeing what God wants us to see.

Mother Teresa always said to do “small things with great love.” St. Therese the Little Flower served God with a smile for everyone she met, whether she liked them or not. These small things add up to a loving and trusting heart, able to see what Simeon saw. This is what I will strive for today and always.

p.s. It’s really cool to be able to read the Daily Readings on my iTouch! And I haven’t even begun to explore  Apps yet . . . :-)

Love is always the way to Jesus – reflection on readings for Nov. 29, 2010

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Readings for today
Isaiah 4:2-6; Psalm 122:1-9; Matthew 8:5-11

Today’s gospel reading from Matthew focused on the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his slave but felt unworthy to have Him come to his house. He instead believed that a single word from Jesus would heal his slave.

Jesus then remarks how amazing this man’s faith is, far more than any He could find in Israel.

The Pray As You Go podcast posed as a question, “Why did this centurion approach Jesus in the first place?” Right away I thought, “Because he loved his slave.”

It wasn’t knowledge of the prophecies or an expectation of the Messiah, or even curiosity. It was love. Love led this man, and love gave this man the ability to trust Jesus.

I then reflected on the scripture from Matthew 19:24, ” . . . it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  I always thought of “rich” in the literal fashion – someone who has a lot of money and possessions. But someone can also be very “rich” in tradition, “rich” in knowledge, “rich” in the scriptures. And perhaps those “riches” get in the way for many who cannot break away from what they’ve been taught and what they’ve seen to view something radically better.

I hear often of ministers’ and deacons’ families whose children fall away from the faith. The old concept of “familiarity breeds contempt” certainly is true here, and this is a great burden that these families bear. The children are fixated on doing the opposite of what their parents do just because their parents do it. It’s natural for young people to explore other ways in their lives (and we must be patient with them) but they can become very blind to what is very obvious.

Perhaps it is better to be poor in spirit. It certainly seems to have been true for the centurion. All he had left was his love, and that love led him straight to Jesus.

Can we break out of old beliefs to embrace the new?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Matthew 14:22-33 (New King James Version) – Jesus Walks on the Sea

22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea,[a] tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33 Then those who were in the boat came and[c] worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

I heard this reading on the Verbum Domini podcast but the translation was a little different. Verse 31 in that reading had, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” That jumped out at me.

I thought about Peter having the courage to walk on the water towards Jesus, embracing the new faith he had found. But then, he took notice of the ‘old’ around him – the raging wind, the cascading waves, and he fell back into that ‘old’, lost his faith, and began to sink.

Jesus had mentioned in Mark 2:18-22 about the danger of pouring new wine into old wineskins – the wineskin would break and not be able to hold the new wine. I pondered this image as I thought of Peter first stepping out in faith, and then stepping back into his old patterns.

How many times have we have it said in our parishes – “Why change, it’s always been done this way.” How many of us have had a great idea that we think will help and when we propose it, the reply is, “why change, we’ve always done it this way.” People are refusing to step out in faith, they are refusing to discard the old wineskins.

It all fits in with Jesus coming to fulfill the law rather than discard it. He wanted to radically change us, transform us, just like he was transfigured on Mount Tabor.

How much faith does it take to allow ourselves to be transformed in that way? Could we have been like Peter, walking on the water towards Jesus, even if for a brief moment? Imagine the change that would bring to our lives and to our world if we could do that!

The organic love of Jesus – reflection on daily readings for Nov. 4, 2010

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Here are today’s readings
Philippians 3:3-8; Psalm 105:2-7; Luke 15:1-10

The Gospel reading from Luke struck me in a very organic way today. The first line that jumped out was:

15:1 The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus . . .

In verse 1, I pictured the tax collectors and sinners drawing near to Jesus and thought of the warmth and acceptance that must have been emanating out of him. These people were accustomed to being taunted, ridiculed and rejected by most people. Most likely they were hardened so as not to feel the pain of rejection. Therefore, it must have taken a real leap of faith to attempt to place their trust in anyone! There is something very comforting to me, reflecting on that crowd of wounded, hardened people melting in the presence of the love of Jesus.

Then, there was this verse:

15:5 And when he does find it,he sets it on his shoulders with great joy

Again, it struck me in an organic kind of way as I imagined the flesh of the sheep touching the flesh of Jesus and how the warmth would have caused the sheep to calm down and feel safe.

I am an unabashed cat lover and I consider myself very fortunate to have two cats that enjoy being cuddled. One of my cats, Bacci, is elderly, turning 14 this month. I adopted him last year from the assisted living facility where my mother had been living. He had come from an extremely protected environment and was not used to other cats. The poor thing was subjected to bullying from my male ginger cat (who has since passed away) and since then, my female torti. Bacci didn’t have much of a ‘backbone’ to begin with and I felt the instinctive need to protect him. It was said that he didn’t like being picked up but I found he did in fact like it because it made him feel safe. He’s a big fluffy boy and when I pick him up, it’s in a soothing and quiet way, and he settles into my arms and purrs.

That’s what I thought about today when I read verse 5. The touching of flesh to flesh communicates messages of love, peace, acceptance and safety like no other.

I found myself longing to do the same with Jesus but reminded myself that I can consume Him through the Eucharist. It’s a wonderful and intimate thing, the best we can do until we meet Him face to face.

What a wonderful thing to consider, that our God, who is so big that no one can conceive of Him, would come in the form of man so that He could pick us up and set us on His shoulders, and lead us home.

There’s a song by Bob Dufford of the St. Louis Jesuits that ran through my mind today. It’s called “Like a Shepherd” and here’s a video of a choir singing it. Think of Jesus holding you close today.