Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI at World Meeting of Families - Spain

The Homily by Pope Benedict XVI, at the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families in Spain, was an inspiration to all families, and to myself. His message on the importance of family, and the ties of children to generations of ancestors is relevant in my life today. I have prayed, desired, and faught for the resolution of Christopher's mother and I, so that we may be together as a loving, caring, nurturing family. The Holy Father indeed reinforced that importance in my mind. At one point, he said that we are all called to work for perfection in our family relationships. I will continue that work with love and prayers.

Christopher's only living great grand-parent, Ila, is getting ready to celebrate her 90th birthday this August in St. Louis. I was so grateful that I was able to assist my mother yesterday with the final touches on the invitations for my grandma's birthday party. God willing, I will be able to attend. Christopher's mom will also be receiving an invitation, and a verbal invitation from me. Christopher's great grandma has not had the pleasure of meeting him in person. I pray that this will be that meeting.

Following are several sections from Sunday's homily by Pope Benedict XVI:

“The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life.”

“(Children) along with the gift of life, receive a whole patrimony of experiences. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity, to initiate them to life in society, to foster the responsible exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love based on their having been loved, and above all, to enable them to encounter God.”

“At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood and motherhood, we find God the Creator. For this reason married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son and daughter of God.”

“Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and a perfect man. He knew whence he came and whence all of us have come: from the love of his Father and our Father.”

“Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to his call. Even if no one can answer for another person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness of their Christian faith and hope. The need to ensure that God’s call and the good news of Christ will reach their children with the utmost clarity and authenticity.”

“The Christian family passes on the faith when parents teach their children to pray and when they pray with them; when they lead them to the sacraments and gradually introduce them to the life of the Church; when all join in reading the Bible, letting the light of faith shine on their family life and praising God as our Father.”

“To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches us to respect and foster the marvelous reality of the indissoluble marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family. To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best means of ensuring the dignity, equality and true freedom of the human person.”

"I wish to call on all Christians to collaborate cordially and courageously with all people of good will who are serving the family in accordance with their responsibility so that by joining forces in a legitimate plurality of initiatives they will contribute to the promotion of the authentic good of the family in contemporary society.”
“Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.”

“The Christian family - father, mother and children - is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore his help, he will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ.”

“And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world. Amen.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Fallen Away Brothers

My fallen away brothers who were both baptized in the Church have cited several excuses for not being faithful to the teachings, sacraments, and traditions of the Church. Among the excuses I have heard is that the people who go to church are hypocrites. This is definitely a true statement of many Catholics today. We must remember, however, that Christ started his church for the sinners, not for the saints.

In reflecting on today's Mass reading from the Old Testament - Amos 5:14-15, 21-24, it is clear that God hated his worshippers. Perhaps my brothers are right. Well, let's just wait a minute and take a little closer look. Many times people look too quickly at the surface, or listen to others who do not tell the whole story. In Amos 5:21 God did say: "I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities."

Our Lord says in Amos 5:23-24: "If you would offer Me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream." Our songs are just noise, our prayers are all so fake if we are not repentant, and we fail to follow his word.

God truly does admire his people, their songs, their prayers, their charity, when we are one with him and our mother church. "Seek good and not evil, that you may live; then truly will the Lord, the God of hosts, be with you as you claim!" (Am 5:14)

Like any loving, caring mother, the Church has rules, guidelines, and the such to help it's children get through this life on Earth, navigate the rough waters, and keep the faith, so they may all share in the great feast in Heaven.

Modern western law was indeed borrowed from the Catholic Church, as were many great and meaningful things we have in our society today. There are far less "laws" in the Church than there are in many cities, states and countries. Christ passed on the authority to Saint Peter, and his successors (the complete line of popes from Peter to Benedict XVI), when he told Peter that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. If we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his church, and if we are blessed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will make it down the long, winding, tiny road. If we stray, and take the easy way, or decide to blaze our own path, we may find ourselves lost or on the highway to destruction.

May my brothers and my entire family have the desire put on their hearts by the Holy Spirit to experience our Lord in the Holy Eucharist every day of their lives. I will never cease to pray for my family, my son's mother and her family, and my friends. I pray that God will always look at me as being "with him", and that he will enjoy my songs, and prayers.

Captain Christopher!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Galatians 5:13
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom
as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one

As we celebrate the Independence of our country, we should be careful not to forget what real freedom means. I believe Father John Corapi said in one of his many great talks, "...Freedom is not the right to do whatever you want, but instead it is the freedom to do what is right."

This country was established with a guiding creed. Many countries are established to serve a particular ethnicity or for other cultural or political reasons. The United States was founded on beliefs that people from anywhere, of any race, of any religion, of any age, etc... should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The great melting pot runs the risk of "melting" if we continue to be overly tolerant of those who wish to change our country by their definition of freedom...Doing whatever they want, whatever makes them feel or look good. They are bringing a change to our culture of "doing what is right" by making the people think that abortion, incest, and euthanasia are "good" things, and are quickly melting the great melting pot.

Have a great July 4th Independence Day! Do what is right...Be a blessing in someone's life today!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Have the Faith of a Child

Today's (July 2) Gospel reading at Mass (Mk 5:21-43) was about the Faith of the woman afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years and the Faith of a synagogue official Jairus whose daughter was at the point of death. In both cases our Lord Jesus Christ showed his mercy and love to those who have faith in him. The woman was healed upon touching Jesus' clothing, because she knew that if she could only touch his cloak, she would be healed. She was indeed healed, even without asking. God already knew her desires and her faith. Christ said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

We have been taught to have the faith of a child, and we too will be saved, and our prayers answered. This was brought home to me a few weeks ago, when my 3+ year old son asked me to open a Thomas the Train packaged in one of those nearly impossible to open plastic things. I had gotten several of these packages for Christopher recently, and the only way I could open them was with scissors. That day, we were riding the train in Old Sacramento, and I did not have scissors or any sharp object with me. Christopher knew, and he had faith in me, his father, that I could indeed open that package. "Open it Daddy...I know you can." He said it with such confidence and faith that I had to find a way to open the package. I found a secret little opening in the bottom of the package and was able to open the package to the delight, but not surprise of my son.

I learned a lot about faith that day. I really tried to have that kinda faith and use it in my prayers as I prepared to ask Christopher's mom to marry me four weeks ago. I just knew she would say "yes" because of my child-like faith and prayers in the matter. Before that day arrived, I also had a realization that God may not answer my prayers the way I expected, even with my prayers and faith. I knew that even if my own son asked with the faith and confidence he had with the train, to allow or give him something that I knew was not good or right for him...even with his faith in me and God, I would not allow him to have such a thing.

I know that is the way God works. He will always answer our prayers. The answer just might not be the answer we want, but it will always be the answer that is best for us...if we have the faith of a child or of the hemorrhage afflicted woman in today's Gospel reading.

May God grant us the faith of a child, may we be saved from our afflictions and our sins forgiven. In Jesus' name...Amen.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Father's Day Lake Adventure

Father's Day at Folsom Lake. Christopher just loved the lake and Uncle Donkey's and Aunt Sara's Boat. This was truly a great Father's Day gift to share another bonding time with my terrific son.

Return of the Ring

The return of the most precious engagement ring happened today. Four weeks after I laid my heart on the line, and was denied, I returned the ring. I am sure this happens to others, but it was a bit awkward. The folks at Helzberg Diamonds were great throughout the whole thing. From the search, purchase, follow-up, and finally the return today. Life is going on, and life is good. Just have to stay focussed on Christ, and everything will be taken care of.