Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Clay God uses: Saint Andrew

Peace and Good! I have always admired St. Andrew. The gospels show us a man with a generous heart and a willing faith. St. John tells us that, at the multiplication of the loaves, he was the one who presented the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus. He did say, "But what good is that for so many?" Yet, he had enough faith to present those small resources, and trusted Jesus could do something with them. We all know how small sometimes our gifts seem, and how little they seem in the face of the needs of the world. But Andrew can tell us: Bring them to the Lord. You never know what he can do with them! God bless us all!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanks to God/Buying and Selling

Peace and Good! I have been ill, even in the hospital, but am better,thanks be to God and His gift of modern medicine. I will reflect more on the whole experience soon. I also ask prayers for my Aunt Annette who died last Sunday. Her funeral mass is tomorrow morning.
One quick thought of the day: how interesting, to have Jesus overturning the money changers on the day called "Black Friday" because it so focuses on buying and selling! Not that Jesus was against business; he uses images of merchants and economics in some of the parables. But he was concerned always about priorities: that we remember what is what and why. Economics are to serve the good of people, not the other way around. And of course, it should serve ideally to help us love and praise God. But we forget so easily. I think that's what so motivated Francis. He knew the life of a merchant, he knew the power of money and wealth. And he knew how it could be so easily abused, turning things upside down. He experienced how his own father had chosen money, possessions and all to his own son. May the Lord help us, like Francis, to value things with their true value and keep our priorities. God bless!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Peace and Good! A Franciscan Friar today shared at mass about the conditions for Christians in the Holy Land. He talked about one young woman who, after obtaining a theology degree in the United States, returned to her native Bethlehem to teach the children the faith. It's a hard life there now, especially for the Christian population. One thing she mentioned as being particularly hard is seeing the wall go up, the wall the Israeli government is erecting around the town, making it feel like living in a prison.
It just made me wonder: how effective are walls? How well did the Great Wall of China work, or Hadrian's Wall? More importantly, how do they help make the world better?
I remember Francis, answering the bishop of Assisi, who wanted the friars to have possessions. "If we have possessions," he replied, "we would need walls to guard them and weapons to protect them."
Walls may work in one way, but do they help us to "love God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves"? Robert Frost quoted the proverb: "Good walls make good neighbors." But do they make loving neighbors?
I pray God will help us tear down the walls in our hearts so that one day, in His grace, we will live in a world where no walls are needed, except maybe to sit on while we eat an ice cream cone!
God bless and keep you!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Clay God Uses: Martin de Porres and Charles Borromeo

Peace and Good! These are two saints who amaze me, as much for what they didn’t do as what they did. They both had reason to walk another path, and yet both heeded the Gospel and walked in the way of the Lord, though in very different circumstances and places.
Martin de Porres had every reason to be a bitter man. He was treated badly by his father, looked down upon as someone illegitimate and of mixed race. When he joined the Dominicans he was kept for several years from becoming a full member because of prejudice. Yet, rather than becoming a bitter man consumed by anger, he used these circumstances to open his heart in compassion to others and obedience to God’s grace. He like Francis, was known to extend his kindness even to the smallest creatures, feeding the mice who plagued the priory rather than killing them. I think of the story of Francis telling someone who was bitter against injustices done against him that such bitterness would only bring about the only true loss, loss of his soul. Martin, by God’s grace, shows us that such bitterness is not the only way to cope with life’s disappointments and unfairness.
Charles Borromeo had the opposite. His was a life of privilege and wealth, full of palaces and power. He was related to the Medici family, and had relatives who were cardinals and even popes. This brought him position and privilege. He could have forgotten all about God and the good of others and put his energy into the politics of that era, both secular and ecclesiastical, and done quite well. But, again by the grace of God, he did not see what he had as being something he should use for himself, but that he should give himself to the love of God and others. He became a model archbishop and true Christian pastor. He used his gifts for others and thus turned worldly advantage into true discipleship.
Both these saints show us that there is no limit to what God can do, nor any particular type of person who can be a saint. Francis told us never to despise or look down on others. I think it was because he knew how powerful the grace of God could be, and how God often chooses the most unlikely instruments. He felt that he himself was an example of this, and he was right. Who would have thought that the party boy, spoiled son of a merchant, would ever amount to anything in the sight of God.
Francis, Charles, Martin: pray for us, that we too may emerge from whatever we’ve experienced in life, that with the grace of God we may be His instruments, his saints.
God bless!