The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Do we need God?

Meditation on the Mass readings
for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Some of the descriptive words employed by Scripture’s inspired authors in certain passages are telling in regard to humanity’s never-ending struggles. For example, Sirach (35:12-22) speaks of the poor, the oppressed, orphan, and widow. St. Paul is imprisoned and knows that “the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18). He also is lonely—“All deserted me,” he says. Meanwhile, in Luke’s Gospel, the self-righteous Pharisee’s prayer derides those whom he perceives as thieves, rogues, and adulterers (18:9-14).

Where do we see ourselves here in relation to God? In one way or another, and at one time or another, these terms describe many of us.

Whatever the case may be, the key to our approach to God lies not in perceived perfection, but in true humility. Our hope comes in the most unlikely of persons: in the passage from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus points to the tax collector, considered at that time to be the most despicable of all human beings. There, in the corner of the Temple, he humbly acknowledges who he is and asks for God’s merciful assistance. The tax collector—though far from perfect—recognizes his need for God, and so is justified in God’s sight.

The self-righteous Pharisee, on the other hand, has done many commendable things, but takes credit for them all himself. He doesn’t really need anyone, including God, in his mind. And so, Jesus says that it is the lowly tax collector (a sinner!), and not the haughty Pharisee (who did everything right!), whose prayer is heard. As Sirach points out, “the prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.”

A truly humble person, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing said, “stands in the truth with a knowledge and appreciation for himself as he really is.” When we display that kind of transparency and honestly acknowledge our utter dependence on God, as the tax collector does, the Lord stands by us and gives us strength—and the “crown of righteousness” awaits us no matter who we are. 

Thanks be to God.
--Adapted from Grace in the Wilderness
by Br. Francis de Sales Wagner, O.S.B.
© 2013, Abbey Press Publications

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hoosier Red

Earlier this week -- if you haven't heard by now -- Pope Francis named 17 new cardinals, including three Americans. One of those three is none other than Joseph W. Tobin, who has been Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for about four years.

Saint Meinrad Archabbey, which is within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, is no stranger to the new Cardinal-designate. He spent a week in private retreat in the monastery here prior to his installation as Archbishop in December 2012. He was here in late July for the abbatial blessing of newly elected Archabbot Kurt (who will attend the installation of the new cardinals at a consistory in Rome on November 19). As it turns out, Archbishop Tobin was also here on the Hill when he found out early Sunday morning that he had been designated a Cardinal by the Holy Father (having stayed overnight before confirming youths in the Tell City deanery that afternoon). And he's been here many times in between all those events.

Archbishop Tobin is the only Cardinal (OK, Cardinal-designate for now) that I've ever personally met. He is well thought of around here, and I must agree that he impresses me as a good and humble shepherd who, in many respects, extends the spirit of Pope Francis in his genuine care for the flock entrusted to him. I hope we get to keep him in the Indianapolis Archdiocese -- and for now, at least, it seems as though we will.

The following links provide more information and insight into the character of Cardinal-designate Tobin, all from The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper:

    Article from October 10 press conference
    Interview with Cardinal-designate Tobin
    List of further articles, photos, videos

May Christ the Good Shepherd bless, watch over, and guide Cardinal-designate Tobin, bringing to completion the good work he has begun in him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Who is lying at my door?

So many people are poor or disadvantaged in so many ways -- not just economically but physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And we don't have to travel to a Third World country to find them. They are right at our doorstep -- in our homes, families, neighborhoods, parishes, workplaces, and communities. Yet they often remain invisible to us -- so close, yet so far away from any real sense of compassion, understanding, or charity.

What is striking about today's Gospel reading for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Luke 16:19-31) is the phrase: "And lying at [the rich man's] door was a poor man named Lazarus." This is someone the rich man knew. He could not help but encounter him each day as he came and went. The poor man even has a name -- Lazarus.

The rich man not only declined to share his abundance with Lazarus. Most importantly, he failed to acknowledge him as a human being -- created in God's image just like himself. He refused Lazarus his human dignity by ignoring him. Do we often do the same -- ignoring those most in need who are right under our noses on a daily basis? People we know and presumably love?

Michael Casey, O.C.S.O, writes in his book Seventy-Four Tools for Good Living that "the poor are always with us: those who seem to have little talent for anything, those with poor social skills, those burdened with mental or emotional disorders, those whose virtue and commitment seem slight. These are the poor in our midst. We are called on, not only to tolerate their weaknesses of body and behavior -- as it were, to secure our own virtuousness -- but even more to do what we can to make their lives happier and more wholesome."

So, in this wider context, let us each ask: "Who is lying at my door?”

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Pray always"

We cannot pray "at all times"
if we do not pray at specific times,
consciously willing it.
These are the special times
of Christian prayer,
both in intensity and duration.

Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 2697

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Saint Mother Teresa

August 26, 1910 -- September 5, 1997
Canonized in Rome September 4, 2016
Feast day in the Catholic Church: September 5

Saint Teresa of Calcutta
pray for us.