31 Jul

Cooler in the Shade

Mary shelters under the shade of her cloak.Our Lady of the Shadows. Sometimes when I see shadows, especially as a summer day is nearing its end, I think of Mary.

Firstly, to live in the shadow means to live in the shade, and to live in the shade is cool—literally speaking. You are protected from the sun and comforted. Mary gives us consolation and security. “In the shadow of your wings I take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by” (Ps 57:1).

Secondly, a shadow is contingent upon a primary object, and it takes the shape of that object. The sun setting behind the house casts a shadow, and the shadow is of the house, for instance. Mary is a shadow of the Church. Jesus the Light shines upon his Body the Church, and the shadow is his Blessed Mother. She is, after all, the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev 12:1). The significance of this? Mary makes the Church appealing. Again, it's cooler in the shade—colloquially speaking. “In the shadow of your wings I rejoice” (Ps 63:8).

24 Jul

Will be Done

Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1928 for her novel Kristin Lavransdatter. The epic takes place in medieval Norway and covers the life of the title character. Kristin is a complicated woman, deeply religious and virtuous on the one hand and rebellious and brooding on the other. She experiences both blessings and tragedies. There are many insightful passages in the story, including this here:

Not many women her age, now close to half a century, enjoyed such good health; that was something she noticed on her way through the mountains. Lord, if only you would give me this and this and this, then I will thank you and ask for nothing more except for this and this and this...

17 Jul

Prayer Without Solitude

As a priest I have the luxury of solitude. I pray in quiet before the Blessed Sacrament for one hour every morning. That quiet hour before dawn is an absolutely crucial, “non-negotiable” part of my day. The solitude facilitates my prayer, and prayer is my life-giving principle.

I recognize that many of you do not have the luxury of solitude and a “holy hour.” And yet, you need to pray. So, what do we do? Well, first of all, we must acknowledge a very important principle: God's will is made incarnate in, among other things, the responsibilities of our state of life. So, I would argue this: raising children can be a prayer; driving to work can be a prayer; and so on.

10 Jul

Three and Thirty

Military history is both interesting and full of spiritual lessons. In chapter 19 of the First Book of Chronicles in the Old Testament we hear of the young King David's campaigns against the Ammonites and Arameans. The two allies split their forces, leaving the Israelites surrounded. The commander in charge of David's force was Joab, one of David's best warriors. Here is what happened:

When Joab saw that there was a battle line both in front of and behind him, he chose some of the best fighters among the Israelites and set them in array against the Arameans; the rest of the army, which he placed under the command of his brother Abishai, then lined up to oppose the Ammonites. 1 Chron 19:10-11

03 Jul

God Bless America!

The 4th of July is tomorrow and I can't help but think of the connections between Catholicism and our country. There's a lot, so let's take for now the United States Capitol Building, where Congress gathers. The land today known as Capitol Hill was originally owned by the Carroll Family, a Catholic family with an impressive resume. Charles Carroll signed the Declaration of Independence, Daniel signed the Constitution and was a friend of George Washington, and John, the youngest, became a priest. In fact, Fr. John was friends with Benjamin Franklin, started the first diocesan parish in the country, founded Georgetown University, was appointed the first bishop ever in the United States, and then became the Archbishop of Baltimore, the first ever archdiocesan see in the United States. Oh, did I mention the Carroll family gave their property to the U.S. government?