Father James Wallace

Work for Your Prayer

Dear Parishioners,

Work for your prayer. That is one message we can take away from our Gospel on this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. A Canaanite woman asks Jesus for help and he does not respond. The woman does not quit. She keeps asking. In fact, she asks so much the apostles become annoyed. “Jesus' disciples came and asked him, ’Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us’” (Matt 15:23).

All the wrong places?

Dear Parishioners,

We listen this weekend to the account of Jesus walking on water. The apostles, floundering on the boat, were so surprised they actually were “terrified,” as Matthew tells us (Matt 14:22-33). They do not think it is Jesus, but rather a ghost. They expect to see Jesus on firm ground, like any normal person. He should not be on water!

Shine On

Dear Parishioners,

“Christ's mysteries are our mysteries.” Blessed Columba Marmion once wrote those words. He was saying that we can apply the events in Christ's life to our own. The second Person of the Holy Trinity, by taking on human nature, fused humanity to the divine. What happened (and happens), thus, to our Lord, happens to us.

Twinning

Dear Parishioners,

The twin parables of the Kingdom of Heaven this Sunday (the treasure buried in the field and the pearl of great price) are ones, I surmise, to be easily dismissed. We are currently living in the Kingdom of God—do we see it as a treasure or a pearl? No. Our lives of faith and our activity in the Church seem rather ordinary, anything but a treasure or a pearl. So, how can we relate to these parables from Matthew on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time?

Fat Man

Around this time of year the sky is an acute focus for Catholics, particularly those in Japan. The Feast of the Assumption, when Mary was lifted up to heaven, is August 15th. On August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies. A few days earlier an atomic bomb named "Fat Man" came down from the heavens, obliterating Nagasaki, the heart and soul of Catholic Japan. Speaking of descent, the nuclear weapon design of Fat Man was that of "implosion-type." Detonation occurred by a descent of the plutonium fission. This was different than "Little Boy," the Hiroshima bomb that used a "gun-type" that fired a uranium bullet into the core.

Just One Cookie

I once received the following image in contemplative prayer. I am a child in search of cookies on the kitchen counter. I am not tall enough to see over the counter, let alone to reach up and grab them, but I know they are there. In my effort to obtain the treats there is a hope that I will have them, so much so that makes it as if I am, in reality, possessing the cookies.

The cookies, in my prayer, stood for holiness and, ultimately, for total unity with Jesus. I don't possess perfect holiness. I am striving for it, and in my striving and my total occupation with holiness, it is as if I possess it. That is why I, or the child in my image, do not get upset and either give up or break down.

Missing Pieces

Ah Love, could'st thou and I with fate conspire
To smash this sorry scheme of things entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits—and then
Remold it nearer the heart's desire?

Those are the lines of Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist from the early middle ages. His beautiful poetry makes me think of a part of the Mass known as the "Fraction Rite." This is when the priest, during the Lamb of God, breaks the large host into three pieces. One of these pieces is small and he drops it into the chalice, saying quietly, “May the mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to all who receive it.”

Vice or Virtue

Because you have a particular negative trait or habit doesn't mean you have to be defined that way. There's always an opposite virtue to your vice. Look at Moses. This supreme prophet was regarded as perhaps the meekest man who ever walked the earth (cf. Num 12:3). He was calm in the face of Pharaoh's obstinacy, patient with the complaining Israelites in the desert, and obedient to the Lord's decision to not let him enter the Promised Land. But Moses wasn't always this way. He had an extreme temper. He killed an Egyptian in his youth and literally smashed the two tables upon which the Ten Commandments were written. Moses recognized his temper and countered it with meekness, so much so that he became known as a meek, and not a hot-headed, man.

\

MacArthur the Anti-Christ

“We heard God speak here today!” shouted Senator Dewey Short above the din on the floor of Congress. “God in the flesh! The voice of God!”

There was pandemonium in the room, as people jumped over one another to touch the man. Others were literally prostrating themselves before him. It was April 17, 1951, and General Douglas MacArthur had just given his farewell address to a joint session of Congress. Afterwards, Herbert Hoover said he was a “reincarnation of St. Paul,” while a woman from New Jersey was a little more praiseworthy, claiming, “he has the attributes of God: he is kind and merciful and firm and just.”

The Noonday Devil

Acedia is probably the most underrated of the seven deadly sins. We think of it is sloth or laziness, but acedia is more complicated than that. Fundamentally, St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, acedia is a sadness over a spiritual good. Something that should bring us joy and excitement does not. For example, being around one's children should bring happiness. A man suffering acedia will avoid his family because they make him sad. Or, going to church and praying should be an uplifting experience. The afflicted person will feel sad around God and not attend Mass. He will, instead, sleep in. This is where the notion of laziness enters, but again, laziness is the aftereffect. We do not fulfill the obligations that will satisfy us because of that antecedent sadness. Acedia, therefore, is referred to as the "Noonday Devil." At noon when the sun is at its peak and we should be enjoying the day and active, we are, instead, sad and paralyzed.