Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

A Blessed Advent to You

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

It’s all about the kids, isn’t it?

That dawned on me over the Thanksgiving weekend, when I was back in St. Louis with my family.

Besides eating . . . which I obviously relished – - and sleeping, we spent most of our time just enjoying the kids!  There we sat, passing one little one to another, cooing, talking baby-talk, or laughing as the kids would do something new.

My nieces are mostly grown-up, and now the married ones are having babies!  So we’ve got five of them, four and under, with two on the way.  All we adults seem to do is get ready for them to arrive, wait for them, play with them, hold them, change them, feed them, get their coats back on, and tell them good-bye.  Then we can’t wait for the next time we see them.

Those babies, those kids, are the center of our lives.

Which, of course, is the way it should be!  Anthropologists, researching primitive cultures, tell us that they were centered on the protection and nurturing of babies, until the young grow up to have their own.  Not “primitive” at all, is it?  Rather “advanced”, I’d say.

I remember the old Ben Casey, M.D., TV series, which began each week, “Man-woman-birth-death-infinity.”

A culture not centered on babies and children becomes narcissistic, and soon, extinct.

Sociologists tell us, for instance, that Europe is in a “demographic winter,” since more people are dying than being born.

And I’m afraid we’re not far behind!

Babies not only insure survival but selflessness.  When a husband and wife become a father and mother, their very lives are changed:  All is now about their baby, not themselves.

And, as Blessed John Paul II reminded us, the greatest gift one can give a child is a brother or a sister.

We men are created to become husbands and fathers; women to become wives and mothers.

True, it doesn’t always happen.  Some can’t be; some (like the author) choose not to be.  But, all of us would like to be!  That drive is sacred, noble, natural, good.  Those of us who can’t be or choose not to be usually become doting aunts, uncles, and godparents!

A culture, a society, a country, that does not protect marriage, the baby, and the family, is dying.

Now we’re in Advent.  We await the baby Jesus.

All of history is dated either before or after the birth of this baby.

All existence centers on a pregnant woman, and her baby, who is our Savior.

This baby is intended to be the center of our lives.

A blessed Advent!

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York columnI wrote about the rosary, a wonderful prayer and an effective means of evangelization.  I thought you might want to read it.

Here is an excerpt:

Pope Francis has radiantly reminded us of this, hasn’t he? It’s not helpful to start with what the Church is against; it’s not productive to begin with what’s right or wrong. We’ll get to that eventually. No, we start with the Person, the invitation, the message of Jesus! Then, everything else flows from this saving proclamation!

My friend, Father Bob Barron, one of the nation’s premier evangelists today, puts it like this: if a foreign visitor asks you to explain the complicated game of baseball, you would hardly start with the “infield-fly rule”! No! You would first introduce him to the beauty, rhythm, and flow of the game! Father Barron suggests he would take him instead to Wrigley Field, gradually introduce him to the majesty of our national pastime, and then patiently explain the details of the game.

The same is true of the mystery of the faith. We begin with Jesus, with the story of salvation, with prayer, liturgy, community, and the beauty of the Church. Gradually we then get to faith, doctrine, morals, practice.

You can read my whole column here.

Spring and Easter Renewal

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

In this week’s Catholic New York column, I wrote about the Easter season and renewing our faith.

Here is an excerpt:

Easter blessings!

I’m all for celebrating! We prepared for Easter with forty days of intense prayer, penance, and charity during Lent.

How about celebrating now for forty days—until Ascension Thursday—come to think of it, for fifty days—until Pentecost Sunday?

These ninety days—forty days of union with the suffering and death of Jesus during Lent, plus forty days of Easter joy, plus ten more days until Pentecost—are classic days of renewal for us who follow Jesus.

Even nature cooperates, as this grand season of the Church calendar takes place against the backdrop of the cold, dark, and dreary days of winter giving way to the warm, bright, vibrant days of spring.

You can read my whole column here.

A Prayer for Our Country at the Republican National Convention

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Here is the prayer that I offered at the Republican National Convention:

With firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, let us pray:

Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home.  We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life.  Bless those families whose ancestors arrived on these shores generations ago, as well as those families that have come recently, to build a better future while weaving their lives into the rich tapestry of America.

We lift up to your loving care those afflicted by the recent storms and drought and fire.  We ask for the grace to stand in solidarity with all those who suffer.  May we strive to include your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, in the production and prosperity of a people so richly blessed.

Oh God of wisdom, justice, and might, we ask your guidance for those who govern us, and on those who would govern us:  the president and vice-president, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and on all those who seek to serve the common good by seeking public office, especially Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan.  Make them all worthy to serve you by serving our country.  Help them remember that the only just government is the government that serves its citizens rather than itself.

Almighty God, who gives us the sacred and inalienable gift of life, we thank you as well for the singular gift of liberty.  Renew in all of our people a respect for religious freedom in full, that first most cherished freedom. Make us truly free, by tethering freedom to truth and ordering freedom to goodness.  Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love; prudently, and with justice; courageously, and in a spirit of moderation.  Enkindle in our hearts a new sense of responsibility for freedom’s cause.  And make us ever-grateful for all those who, for more than two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg your mighty hand upon our beloved men and women in uniform.

May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God, and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making.  Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed in our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone.  May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self-control, our liberty in law.

We pray for all those who seek honest labor, as we thank you for the spirit of generosity to those in need with which you so richly blessed this nation.

We beseech your blessing on all who depart from here this evening, and on all those, in every land, who seek to conduct their lives in freedom.

Most of all, Almighty God, we thank you for the great gift of our beloved country.

For we are indeed “one nation under God.”

And “in God we trust.”

Dear God bless America. You who live and reign, forever and ever,

Amen!

(editors note: this is an updated version.  Last night’s posting was incomplete. )