Archive for “June, 2014”

June 30, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Monday, June 30 ~ Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Holy Gospel: Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other shore. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”


When the Lord Jesus calls us to follow him, he invites us into a personal relationship of love and friendship. That relationship also involves the commitment of our entire lives to Jesus as Lord and Master, Teacher and Healer, Messiah and Savior. To follow Jesus is the greatest of all calls. What an awesome privilege and an awesome responsibility to be a disciple of Jesus Christ! What does it cost to be a disciple? For the first disciples, they paid the ultimate price for being a follower of Jesus by not renouncing Christ as Lord, Savior, Messiah; by not renouncing Christ’s teachings; by being steadfast disciples of Christ. A disciple must be willing to make sacrifices, even the sacrifice of his own life to follow Jesus as his Master and Lord. Notice how another would-be disciple responded by saying that he must first bury his father, that is go back home and take care of his father until he died. Jesus appealed to the man’s heart and told him to detach himself from whatever might keep him from following as his disciple.


O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


What can keep us from giving our all to God? Fear, anxiety, self-concern, pre-occupation and attachment to other things, to name a few. Even spiritual things can get in the way of having God alone as our Treasure if we put them first. Detachment is a necessary step is we want to make the Lord our Treasure and Joy. It frees us to give ourselves without reserve to the Lord and to his service. There is nothing greater we can do with our lives than to place them at the service of the Lord and Master of the universe. We cannot out give God in generosity. Jesus promises that those who are willing to part with what is most dear to them for his sake “will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). Is there anything holding you back from giving your all to the Lord?

June 29, 2014 – From the Rector

ON THIS SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES  the Church universal remembers these two particular Apostles who guided the early church just after the time of Jesus. Both died as martyrs for the faith in Rome, in the early 60’s A.D., just thirty years after the death of Jesus. Each of these two saints is important for different reasons. Peter is important because he was the first Pope and kept the church united which was growing very rapidly in the years following Pentecost. In the first years after Pentecost it was Jews who accepted Jesus as the Savior and so the early church was a very Jewish church. But as time went on Paul began to preach also to non-Jews, the Gentiles as they were called. All of us are Gentiles. His preaching was very successful and he brought huge numbers of non-Jews into the church, so much so that the number of Jews in the church was greatly outnumbered by non-Jews. It is because of Paul that we are now in the Church. So both Peter and Paul had very important tasks in the early church, Peter maintaining the unity in the church which during his lifetime had already spread throughout the Middle East and Europe, and Paul who taught the Jews that Jesus is the fulfillment of their Old Testament hopes and taught the non-Jews that Jesus is the Savior. Whenever you see statues of Peter and Paul, usually Peter is holding a key, symbolizing his duty as head of the church, and Paul is holding the Bible, symbolizing his preaching. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul tells us something of the difficulties in his preaching journeys (2 Corinthians 11:24-28): “Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure. And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Three times Paul set out from Syria where he was based and preached all over what we now call Turkey, and in his second and third journeys he preached all over Greece also. Although not one of the Twelve Apostles we call him an apostle of the nations. It is interesting to note the personalities of both Peter and Paul. Peter was impetuous, telling Jesus that he would die with him on Holy Thursday night if necessary (John 13:37) but later that night he denied he knew him. We also remember Peter’s objection to Jesus’ prediction that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem and Jesus said “Get behind me Satan because the way you think is man’s way and not God’s way” (Matt 16:23). Yet what made Peter a suitable candidate for Jesus’ call was his love, so three times Jesus asked him if he loved him and asked him to look after the flock. Paul was a controversial character in his own way. He had a fiery personality. In his early life as Saul of Tarsus, he channeled that fire towards having Christians arrested, persecuted  and executed – even witnessing the death of Stephen, the first martyr for Jesus (Acts 8:1). (Incidentally, the Hebrew name given him by his parents was Saul, but, because his father was a Roman citizen (and therefore Saul inherited Roman citizenship), Saul also had the Latin name Paul (Acts 16:37, 22:25-28), the custom of dual names being common in those days.)After Saul’s conversion, Paul’s preaching was fiery and upset the churches. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that Paul then returned to Tarsus, and the next sentence says it all, “the churches throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria were left in peace” (Acts 9:31). Paul spent 10 years back in Tarsus before he began his preaching. It was a time for him to cool down and learn what the death and resurrection of Jesus meant for us all. Why did God call Paul? It would be only someone like him who could see that faith in Jesus demanded a totally new relationship with God for Jews, and also he had a very strong personality which he needed to help the Jews to accept that Jesus was the Savior of all peoples, and that because of Jesus there is no difference between Jew and non-Jew. Paul had the strong personality needed for that daring challenge and the insight to see that faith in Jesus the fulfillment of their Old Testament hopes was now required for salvation. As we look at the personalities of Peter and Paul, we see that God called them to use their personalities to spread the Gospel, Peter to use his impetuous love to look after the flock, and Paul to use his training and his strength of character to ensure that the non-Jews would be welcomed into the church. It is a reminder to us that our talents and our weaknesses too can become God’s means of helping others, if we allow. Key point – if we allow.  Folks, we don’t have to be perfect for God to work through us. God can and does work through us, faults and all, just as He did with Peter and Paul.

-Fr. Mike Lumpe

How Can I Learn God’s Will for Me?

DISCERNMENT: How can I learn God’s will for me?

Does God have one right choice for me in each decision I make?

When we pray for wisdom to discern God’s will when it comes to choosing a mate, a career, a job change, a move, a home, a school, a friend, a vacation, how to spend money, or any other choice, big or little, whenever there are two or more different paths opening up before us and we have to choose, does God always will one of those paths for us? If so, how do we discern it?

Many Christians who struggle with this question today are unaware that Christians of the past can help them from their own experience. Christian wisdom embodied in the lives and teachings of the saints tells us two things that are relevant to this question.

First, they tell us that God not only knows and loves us in general but that he cares about every detail of our lives, and we are to seek to walk in his will in all things, big and little. Second, they tell us that he has given us free will and reason because he wants us to use it to make decisions. This tradition is exemplified in Saint Augustine’s famous motto “Love God and [then] do what you will.” In other words, if you truly love God and his will, then doing what you will, will, in fact, be doing what God wills.

Do these two pieces of advice pull us in opposite directions, or do they only seem to? Since there is obviously a great truth embodied in both of them, which do we emphasize the most to resolve our question of whether God has one right way for us?

I think the first and most obvious answer to this question is that it depends on which people are asking it. We have a tendency to emphasize one half of the truth at the expense of the other half, and we can do that in either of the two ways. Every heresy in the history of theology fits this pattern: for instance, emphasizing Christ’s divinity at the expense of his humanity or his humanity at the expense of his divinity; or emphasizing divine sovereignty at the expense of free will or free will at the expense of divine sovereignty.

Five general principles of discernment of God’s will that apply to all questions about it, and therefore to our question too, are the following:

  • Always begin with data, with what we know for sure. Judge the unknown by the known, the uncertain by the certain. Adam and Eve neglected that principle in Eden and ignored God’s clear command and warning for the devil’s promised pig in a poke.
  • Let your heart educate your mind. Let your love of God educate your reason in discerning his will. Jesus teaches this principle in John 7:17 to the Pharisees. (Would that certain Scripture scholars today would heed it!) They were asking how they could interpret his words, and he gave them the first principle of hermeneutics (the science of interpretation): “If your will were to do the will of my Father, you would understand my teaching.” The saints understand the Bible better than the theologians, because they understand its primary author, God, by loving him with their whole heart and their whole mind.
  • Have a soft heart but a hard head. We should be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” sharp as a fox in thought but loyal as a dog in will and deed. Soft-heartedness does not excuse soft-headedness, and hard-headedness does not excuse hard-heartedness. In our hearts we should be “bleeding-heart liberals” and in our heads “stuck-in-the-mud conservatives.”
  • All God’s signs should line up, by a kind of trigonometry. There are at least seven such signs: (1) Scripture, (2) church teaching, (3) human reason (which God created), (4) the appropriate situation, or circumstances (which he controls by his providence), (5) conscience, our innate sense of right and wrong, (6) our individual personal bent or desire or instincts, and (7) prayer. Test your choice by holding it up before God’s face. If one of these seven voices says no, don’t do it. If none say no, do it.
  • Look for the fruits of the spirit, especially the first three: love, joy, and peace. If we are angry and anxious and worried, loveless and joyless and peaceless, we have no right to say we are sure of being securely in God’s will. Discernment itself should not be a stiff, brittle, anxious thing, but—since it too is part of God’s will for our lives—loving and joyful and peace-filled, more like a game than a war, more like writing love letters than taking final exams.


Now to our question. Does God have just one right choice for me to make each time? If so, I must find it. If not, I should relax more and be a little looser. Here are some clues to the answer.

The answer depends on what kind of person you are. I assume that many readers of this page are (1) Catholic, (2) orthodox and faithful to the teachings of the church, (3) conservative, and (4) charismatic. I have had many friends—casual, close, and very close—of this description for many years. In fact, I fit the description myself. So I speak from some experience when I say that people of this type have a strong tendency toward a certain character or personality type—which is in itself neither good nor bad—which needs to be nourished by one of these emphases more than the other. The opposite personality type would require the opposite emphasis.

My first clue, based on my purely personal observation of this kind of people, is that we often get bent out of human shape by our desire—in itself a very good desire—to find God’s perfect will for us. We give a terrible testimony to non-Christians; we seem unable to relax, to stop and smell God’s roses, to enjoy life as God gives it to us. We often seem fearful, fretful, terribly serious, humorless, and brittle—in short, the kind of people that don’t make a very good advertisement for our faith.

I am not suggesting that we compromise one iota of our faith to appeal to unbelievers. I am simply suggesting that we be human. Go watch a ball game. Enjoy a drink—just one—unless you’re at risk for alcoholism. Be a little silly once in a while. Tickle your kids—and your wife. Learn how to tell a good joke. Read Frank Schaeffer’s funny novel Portofino. Go live in Italy for a while.

Here’s a second clue. Most Christians, including many of the saints, don’t, in fact, have the discernment we are asking about, the knowledge of what God wills in every single choice. It’s rare. Could something as important as this be so rare? Could God have left almost all of us so clueless?

A third clue is Scripture. It records some examples—most of them miraculous, many of them spectacular—of God revealing his particular will. But these are reported in the same vein as miracles: as something remarkable, not as general policy. The “electronic gospel” of health and wealth, “name it and claim it,” is unscriptural, and so is the notion that we must find the one right answer to every practical problem, for the same reason: we are simply never assured such a blanket promise.

Darkness and uncertainty are as common in the lives of the saints, in Scripture as well as afterwards, as pain and poverty are. The only thing common to all humanity that the gospel guarantees to free us from is sin (and its consequences, death, guilt, and fear), not suffering and not uncertainties. If God had wanted us to know the clear, infallible way, he surely would have told us clearly and infallibly.

A fourth clue is something God did in fact give us: free will. Why? There are a number of good reasons—for instance, so that our love could be infinitely more valuable than instinctive, unfree animal affection. But I think I see another reason. As a teacher, I know that I sometimes should withhold answers from my students so that they find them themselves, and thus appreciate and remember them better—and also learn how to exercise their own judgment in finding answers themselves. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” God gave us some big fish, but he also gave us the freedom to fish for a lot of little ones (and some big ones) ourselves.

Reason and free will always go together. God created both in us as part of his image. He gives supernatural revelation to both: dogmas to our reason and commandments to our will. But just as he didn’t give us all the answers, even in theology, in applying the dogmas or drawing out the consequences of them, so he didn’t give us all the answers in morality or practical guidance, in applying the commandments and drawing out their consequences. He gave us the mental and moral equipment with which to do that, and he is not pleased when we bury our talent in the ground instead of investing it so that he will see how much it has grown in us when he returns.

In education, I know there are always two extremes. You can be too modern, too experimental, too Deweyan, too structureless. But you can also be too classical, too rigid. Students need initiative and creativity and originality too. God’s law is short. He gave us ten commandments, not ten thousand. Why? Why not a more complete list of specifics? Because he wanted freedom and variety. Why do you think he created so many persons? Why not just one? Because he loves different personalities. He wants his chorus to sing in harmony, but not in unison.

I know Christians who are cultivating ingrown eyeballs trying to know themselves so well—often by questionable techniques like the enneagram, or Oriental modes of prayer—so that they can make the decision that is exactly what God wants for them every time. I think it is much healthier to think about God and your neighbor more and yourself less, to forget yourself—follow your instincts without demanding to know everything about them. As long as you love God and act within his law, I think he wants you to play around a bit.

I’m happily haunted by Chesterton’s image of the playground fence erected around the children on top of the mountain so that they could play without fear of falling off the side. That’s why God gave us his law: not to make us worried but to keep us safe so that we could play the great games of life and love and joy.

Each of us has a different set of instincts and desires. Sin infects them, of course. But sin infects our reason and our bodies too; yet we are supposed to follow our bodily instincts (for example, hunger and self-preservation) and our mind’s instincts (for example, curiosity and logic). I think he wants us to follow our hearts. Surely, if John loves Mary more than Susan, he has more reason to think God is leading him to marry Mary than Susan. Why not treat all other choices by the same principle?

I am not suggesting, of course, that our hearts are infallible, or that following them justifies sinful behavior. Nor am I suggesting that the heart is the only thing to follow. I mentioned seven guidelines earlier. But surely it is God who designed our hearts—the spiritual heart with desire and will as much as the physical heart with aorta and valves. Our parents are sinful and fallible guides too, but God gave them to us to follow. So our hearts can be worth following too even though they are sinful and fallible. If your heart loves God, it is worth following. If it doesn’t, then you’re not interested in the problem of discernment of his will anyway.

Here is a fifth clue. When we do follow Augustine’s advice to “love God and then do what you will,” we usually experience great relief and peace. Peace is a mark of the Holy Spirit.

I know a few people who have abandoned Christianity altogether because they lacked that peace. They tried to be super-Christians in everything, and the pressure was just unendurable. They should have read Galatians.

Here is a sixth clue. If God has one right choice in everything you do, then you can’t draw any line. That means that God wants you to know which room to clean first, the kitchen or the bedroom, and which dish to pick up first, the plate or the saucer. You see, if you carry out this principle’s logical implications, it shows itself to be ridiculous, unlivable, and certainly not the kind of life God wants for us—the kind described in the Bible and the lives of the saints.

Clue number six is the principle that many diverse things are good; that good is plural. Even for the same person, there are often two or more choices that are both good. Good is kaleidoscopic. Many roads are right. The road to the beach is right and the road to the mountains is right, for God awaits us in both places. Goodness is multicolored. Only pure evil lacks color and variety. In hell there is no color, no individuality. Souls are melted down like lead, or chewed up together in Satan’s mouth. The two most uniform places on earth are prisons and armies, not the church.

Take a specific instance where different choices are both equally good. Take married sex. As long as you stay within God’s law—no adultery, no cruelty, no egotism, no unnatural acts, as, for example, contraception—anything goes. Use your imagination. Is there one and only one way God wants you to make love to your spouse? What a silly question! Yet making love to your spouse is a great good, and God’s will. He wants you to decide to be tender or wild, moving or still, loud or quiet, so that your spouse knows it’s you, not anyone else, not some book who’s deciding.

Clue number seven is an example from my own present experience. I am writing a novel for the first time, and learning how to do it. First, I placed it in God’s hands, told him I wanted to do it for his kingdom, and trusted him to lead me. Then, I simply followed my own interests, instincts, and unconscious. I let the story tell itself and the characters become themselves. God doesn’t stop me or start me. He doesn’t do my homework for me. But he’s there, like a good parent.

I think living is like writing a novel. It’s writing the story of your own life and even your own self (for you shape your self by all your choices, like a statue that is its own sculptor). God is the primary author, of course, the primary sculptor. But he uses different human means to get different human results. He is the primary author of each book in the Bible too, but the personality of each human author is no less clear there than in secular literature.

God is the universal storyteller. He wants many different stories. And he wants you to thank him for the unique story that comes from your free will and your choices too. Because your free will and his eternal plan are not two competing things, but two sides of one thing. We cannot fully understand this great mystery in this life, because we see only the underside of the tapestry. But in heaven, I think, one of the things we will praise and thank God the most for is how wildly and wonderfully and dangerously he put the driving wheel of our life into our hands—like a parent teaching a young child to drive.

You see, we have to learn that, because the cars are much bigger in heaven. There, we will rule angels and kingdoms.

God, in giving us all free will, said to us: “Your will be done.” Some of us turn back to him and say: “My will is that your will be done.” That is obedience to the first and greatest commandment. Then, when we do that, he turns to us and says: “And now, your will be done.” And then he writes the story of our lives with the pen strokes of our own free choices.




Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 45 books including: Handbook of Christian Apologetics; Christianity for Modern Pagans; and Fundamentals of the Faith.  This article is made available courtesy of The Integrated Catholic Life™. 

June 29, 2014 – Bishop’s Annual Appeal Update

Bishop’s Annual Appeal Update

(as of June 25, 2014)

Some statistics on the Bishop’s Annual Appeal in our parish to-date . . .

Number of parishioner families participating: 140
Percent of total parishioners participating to-date: 17%
Parish goal established by Diocese: $53,055.01
Enhanced parish BAA goal: $101,655.01
Total amount pledged to-date: $57,568.00
Amount already slated for 100% rebate to our parish: $4,513.00
Amount still needed to reach our enhanced BAA goal: $44,087.01


From this point forward, every penny pledged to the BAA will come back to our Cathedral parish in the form of rebates to fund the replacement of the Cathedral lighting system. The present lighting system, installed in the early 1980s, is failing, the manufacturer has gone out of business, and replacement parts are unavailable. Please, as registered parishioners, we all have a role to play in supporting the good works of the Diocese of Columbus funded by the BAA and the needs of our Cathedral parish. Let’s pull together as a parish family and contribute what we can to the BAA!  BAA envelopes are in the pews.  Please consider giving $15.00, $20.00, $25.00 or more each month over a 10-month period to help reach our enhanced BAA goal to pay for the much needed Cathedral lighting system.


June 29, 2014 – In, Around and Near the Diocese of Columbus


During these Masses special prayers are offered for God’s healing to be upon those assembled.  The Blessed Sacrament is exposed at the altar as those present are invited to come forward for the laying on of hands and prayers for healing by the Priest.  For those who are significantly ill or chronically ill in body, mind or spirit, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is also available. Upcoming healing Masses: July 11 at 7 p.m.; August 1 at 7 p.m., October 24 at 7 p.m.  For more information, please call the Shrine at (419) 396-7107, or visit the Shrine web site: 


July 12 – Filipino Pilgrimage Day, Confessions at 9:30 a.m., Mass at 11:00 a.m. in the Upper Basilica in Tagalog and English, 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Rosary Procession with Benediction and individual prayer;

September 21 – Latino Pilgrimage Day, Confessions 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 Noon, Mass at 11:00 a.m. in the Upper Basilica in Spanish, 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Rosary Procession with Benediction and individual prayer;

September 28 – Family Pilgrimage Day, Family Liturgy at 12:00 Noon in the Shrine Park, Picnic Lunch following liturgy, 2:30 p.m. Outdoor Rosary Procession with Benediction and individual prayer.

For more information, please call the Shrine at (419) 396-7107, or visit the Shrine web site: 


Yes, there are twelve Catholic Shrines located in Ohio, all worth making a day pilgrimage. These include: the Shrine of Saint Anthony (Cincinnati); the Shrine of the Holy Relics (Maria Stein); the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Consolation (Carey); the Sorrowful Mother Shrine (Bellevue); the Saint Paul Shrine (Cleveland); the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes (Euclid); the Shrine of Our Lady of Levocha (Bedford); the Shrine and Church of Mariapoch (Burton); the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon (North Jackson); the Shrine of our Lady, Comforter of the Afflicted (Youngstown); Our Lady of Toledo, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine (Oregon); and the National Shrine of Our Lady of Saint Dymphna (Massillon).  For more information on these shrines, visit: and click on “Ohio,” or click on other states for information about Catholic Shrines located throughout the United States.

BREAK THE ROUTINE WITH A MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER WEEKEND The routine of school days is now over for a while, but can summer be a time for refreshment in your marriage too? Sure it can: Just take a Worldwide Marriage Encounter weekend! The next Marriage Encounter weekends, both in central Ohio, are July 18-20 and September 12-14.  For more information or to register, contact Paul & Marilou Clouse at 740-746-9003 or visit our website at


Becoming a foster parent is an important decision for you and the child that you foster. At St. Vincent Family Center, we believe that all kids are good.  Sometimes they just need extra love and care to make them better. That is why it is so important for us to match the child with foster parents in a comfortable setting that they can call home until they are reunited with their own family or relative. We know that foster parents who are well-trained and engaged make the best foster parents.  We work hard to provide you with the best resources and trainings necessary to meet the specific needs of the child. Choosing to become a foster parent is a big decision. It’s normal to have questions about foster parenting.  We have been asked “How long does it take to become a foster parent? How do I know if I will be a good foster parent? Will I need to take a leave of absence from work to complete the training?  Our program director is available to answer any questions you may have.  Once you have made your decision, our foster care employees will work with you through the entire process.  To become a foster parent you need to be: 21 years of age; able to complete required training; and open to working with a clinician and foster care team in order to help the child thrive. For more information contact Beth Bradley by calling (614) 813-0523, or via e-mail at

SAVE THE DATE of Dec. 7, 2014 for 5th Annual CYSC Dinner Theater

We invite you to attend our 5th Annual Dinner Theater held on Sunday, Dec.7 at Villa Milano from 6-9pm. This is a one of a kind fundraising event to benefit the ministry and camperships of Catholic Youth Summer Camp (CYSC). Visit our web-site for info on CYSC and the Dinner Theater at or contact


Started in the 1970’s, it was a mission of Fr. Francis X. Schweitzer, former pastor at Holy Family, to feed the area’s hungry and homeless. Today the Holy Family Soup Kitchen & Food Pantry, located at 57 South Grubb Street (one block south of Holy Family Church, 588 West Broad Street) serves over 700 hot meals daily, Monday through Friday, and an average of 125 families receive assistance from the Food Pantry each week.  Please call Sharon Wing at 461-9444 in advance to volunteer.

The Catholic Men’s Luncheon Club…

…will NOT meet in July or August due to summer holidays and vacations. We will return to St. Patrick Church on Friday, September 5th with an intriguing presentation on “Evangelization in the Workplace”! Mark your calendar! A blessed and relaxing summer to all men and their loved ones from THE CATHOLIC MEN’S LUNCHEON CLUB!

Saints Peter & Paul – Two Saints, One Day

Saints Peter and Paul – Two Saints, One Day

By Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio

“Self” Magazine is certainly a sign of the times.  This is an age when it is socially acceptable to admit that life is all about me.

But selfishness is nothing new.  Ever since Eve bit into the apple, human beings have made the choice to dethrone God and put in His place the unholy trinity of me, myself, and I.

But Jesus commands us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Doesn’t this imply that love of self is OK, even required?

Absolutely. God placed in us a drive towards self-preservation.  He made beneficial activities, like eating, pleasurable.  And he made destructive activities painful.

But He also gave us intellect and will so that we are not driven simply by instinct, as are the animals.  So the ancient enemy of humanity does his best to deceive our intellect into thinking that what is destructive is actually good for us.  And he entices us to use our will to choose these destructive things contrary to God’s commandments.  The end justifies the means, he argues, and so if we have to trample over others and defy God to get what we want, so be it.

This is the kind of self-love that Jesus condemns (Matthew 10:37-42).  It leads to ruin, confusion, and emptiness.  There is no way to tame this or to fit religion into it.  The only solution is to kill it.  In baptism, this old egocentric self is crucified and buried with Christ (Romans 6:11). The man who wrote this line, Saul of Tarsus, knew what he was talking about.  The about-face required of him was radical, turning him from persecutor to persecuted, agent of hatred to apostle of love. There can only be one Lord–Jesus or me.

Accepting Jesus means allowing Him to be boss, allowing Him to call the shots and direct my steps.  Picking up the cross and following Him (Matthew 16:24-25) means accepting the Father’s will, even where it “crosses” my will, even when it leads to suffering.  This is the meaning of Jesus’ words to Peter “as a young man you fastened your belt and went about as you pleased, but when you are older, you will stretch out your hands and another will tie you fast and carry you off against your will” (John 21:18)

When Jesus had finished saying this, he looked at Peter and said “Follow me.”  Several years ago he said much the same thing to the previous successor of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI.  Those pundits who spoke of his maneuvering to build support for his “candidacy” before and during the conclave made me laugh.  Cardinal Josef Ratzinger had tried to retire twice before the death of John Paul II!  Both times the Pope refused to accept his resignation.  When during the conclave he saw momentum began building for his election, he cried out to God begging to be spared.  The room where the newly elected Pope first dons the Papal vestments is called the “Room of tears” for a reason.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, let us recall that before these saints were shepherds and apostles, they were sheep and disciples.  God was able to do great things in them and through them because they made a decision to surrender control of their lives and destiny to the Son of Man who is also the Son of God.

Jesus says “follow me” to each of us.  It may mean making a change of career.  It may mean breaking off a relationship that is leading us away from Christ.  Or it may just mean doing what we are already doing but for an entirely different reason . . .achieving great things not to draw attention to ourselves, but to glorify Christ . . . seeking an intimate relationship no longer to take but to give. . . working not for the weekend, but for the kingdom.

This article is made available courtesy of The Crossroads Initiative.

Food for Thought – The American Credo

The American Credo

By George J. Marlin

From the very birth of our republic, the American credo has been rooted in the tradition of natural law; it has been imbued with the belief that there is a higher standard by which all man-made rules must be measured. In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson justified the American case for separation from Great Britain with a classic appeal to the natural law:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained & to assume among the powers of the earth the equal & independent station to which the laws of nature & of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to change.

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from the equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness… [Italics added.]

In Jefferson’s view, the American Revolution did not break lawful ties to a sovereign realm, but reclaimed transcendent liberties from an illegitimate and corrupt monarchy.

Just six years later in his Notes on the State of Virginia Jefferson wondered what disbelief in natural law might mean for America’s future. “Can the liberties of a nation be secure,” he asked, “when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

It should be noted that Jefferson was influenced by a Virginia Catholic neighbor, Italian immigrant Philip Mazzei. Born in Tuscany in 1730, Mazzei studied medicine in Florence and immigrated first to England where he met Benjamin Franklin. It was Franklin who convinced Mazzei to move to Virginia to raise grapes and olives. Mazzei settled in 2,000 acres next door to Jefferson. The two men hit it off and spent hours discussing their concepts of liberty. Siding with the American colonies, Mazzei wrote and distributed pro-American pamphlets and articles. A statement he made in a 1774 edition of the Virginia Gazette certainly influenced Jefferson’s prose in the Declaration of Independence: “all men by nature are created free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government. It is necessary that all men be equal to each other in natural law. A true Republican government cannot exist unless in their natural rights.”

The author of the Declaration of Independence was not the only founding father to view the natural law as the fulcrum of society. Alexander Hamilton wrote this defense of the legality of actions by the Continental Congress:

There are some events in society to which human laws cannot extend, but when applied to them lose their force and efficacy. In short when human laws contradict or discountenance the means which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws and so become null and void….The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written as with a sunbeam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. [Italics added.]

For Hamilton “no tribunal, no codes, no system can repeal or impair the law of God, for by his external laws it is inherent in the nature of things.”

George Mason’s Declaration of Rights (1787), which was adopted as the preamble of the Virginia Constitution, refers to the natural law:

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent right, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

At his first inauguration (1789), George Washington declared “it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act my fervent supplications to the Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect…” In his Farewell Address, Washington reminded the nation that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports….Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” John Adams agreed. “Our Constitution,” he wrote, “was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

It should be obvious that for the Founding Fathers, man — the person — had intrinsic value. The cornerstone of American democracy is the concept of the person: of his dignity and of his inalienable rights, duties, and freedoms, within the natural law.

Happy Independence Day!


George J. Marlin is the author of The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact.  This article is made available courtesy of The Catholic Thing.

June 27, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Friday, June 27 ~ Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

 Holy Gospel: John 19:31-37

Since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken. And again another passage says: They will look upon him whom they have pierced.


True love does not count the cost, but gives everything for the beloved. Jesus withheld nothing, but gave everything he had for our sake. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) says that “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love.” In the cross of Christ we see the love of God broken and pierced for our sake. Jesus reigns triumphant at the right hand of the Father. He has risen in glory for our sake and he intercedes for us in heaven. He stands before the throne of heaven with his marks of victory – his pierced side, hands, and feet. Who can fathom the love of God? For all eternity we will gaze upon him who was crucified and who rose for our sake. The Lord Jesus calls us to lay down our lives in sacrificial love for one another. Only a broken and contrite heart can fathom the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ.


Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who glory in the Heart of your beloved Son and recall the wonders of his love for us, may be made worthy to receive an overflowing measure of grace from that fount of heavenly gifts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Do you know the heart of Jesus – a heart that was pierced for your sake and mine? Of all the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death, John mentions that the soldiers pierced his heart with a lance. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10: “when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him”. The heart of Jesus was pierced for our sake. He willingly went to the cross and laid down his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. If we want to understand the depth and breadth of God’s love for each of us, then look upon the heart that was pierced for you and for me. That is the reason Jesus went to the cross, to redeem us from slavery to sin and death.

About the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The devotion consists in the divine worship of the human heart of Christ, which is united to His divinity and which is a symbol of His love for us. The aim of the devotion is to make our Lord king over our hearts by prompting them to return love to Him (especially through an act of consecration by which we offer to the Heart of Jesus both ourselves and all that belongs to us) and to make reparation for our ingratitude to God. Devotion to the Sacred Heart was the characteristic note of the piety of Saint Gertrude the Great (1256-1302), Benedictine nun and renowned mystic. She was, in fact, the great exponent of devotion to the Sacred Heart. In our efforts to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus we have this prayer of Saint Gertrude’s as a model for our own:

Hail! O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary, 0 my amiable Savior. Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Thine is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things be conformed to Thine. May Thy divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. Amen.  

June 26, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Thursday, June 26 ~ Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Priest and Founder of Opus Dei

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.


What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms and trials of life that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool one another with our words, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2). There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we must choose between what is true and false, good and evil. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you? Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you pain or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, neighbor, and oneself. Such a person’s word can be taken as trustworthy.


Grant, O Lord, that we may always revere and love your holy name, for you never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundation of your love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


If you could foresee a threat to your life and the loss of your home and goods, wouldn’t you take the necessary precautions to avoid such a disaster? Jesus’ story of being swept away by flood waters and wind storms must have caught the attention of his audience who knew that terrific storms did occasionally sweep through their dry arid land without any warning signs. When Jesus described the builders who were unprepared for such a life-threatening storm, he likely had the following proverb in mind: When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever (ref. Proverbs 10:25).

June 24, 2014 – Lectio Divina

Holy Gospel: Luke 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.


Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leaped in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John’s clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8). John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came. What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his love and mercy.


Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your family may walk in the way of salvation and, attentive to what Saint John the Precursor urged, may come safely to the One he foretold, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Do you marvel at the grace and work of God, especially in your personal life? The friends of Zechariah and Elizabeth marveled at the wonderful way in which God blessed them with a child. This child was destined by God for an important mission. The last verses in the last book of the Old Testament, taken from the prophet Malachi, speak of the Lord’s messenger, the prophet Elijah who will return to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (ref. Malachi 4:6). We see the beginning of the fulfillment of this word when the Angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah the marvelous birth and mission of John the Baptist (ref. Luke 1:17). When this newly born child was about to be named, as customary on the eighth day, his relatives quibbled over what name to give him. This child, however, has been named from above! And Elizabeth is firm in her faith and determined to see that God be glorified through this child. The name “John” means “the Lord is gracious.” In the birth of John and in the birth of Jesus the Messiah we see the grace of God breaking forth into a world broken by sin and without hope. John’s miraculous birth shows the mercy and favor of God in preparing his people for the coming of its Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.