Laying on a what?

Friends,

The prophet Amos says:

Thus says the LORD the God of hosts:
Woe to the complacent in Zion!
Lying upon beds of ivory,
stretched comfortably on their couches,

bedIn past posts, I’ve asked “What’s in your wallet.”  Today I might ask, “What kind of bed do you have?”  When we think about the amount of time we spend in bed, our bed’s might say quite a bit about our priorities.

The beds of the Old Testament times would consist of a mattress comprised of a mat or of one or two quilts.  The covering of the bed might be nicer quilt or even the outer garment you would wear during the day.

bed-2The bed frame or foundation would be made of wood or of the ivory referred to by Amos.  Poor individuals would find themselves on the ground.  So, the type of bed might reflect your status or priorities.

Most of us have decent beds, so what would be our “ivory beds?” What would we how which might reflect that our priorities are not aligned with the Lord?  Perhaps our cars, cell phones, entertainment choices?

bed-jumEverything is a gift from the Lord, even ivory beds.  It is how we choose to use them which determines whether we are merely following Jesus with our lips or with our lives.

Father Ken

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Our Lady of Sorrows

Friends,

Our Lady of Sorrows brings great comfort to us.  “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”  Mary firmly stood by her son.

She reminds me of a house set upon bedrock.  In studying house foundations, perhaps there is a metaphor between a house foundation and the faith of Mary and our faith.

foundationFootings and foundations are to homes what feet and legs are to the human body: footings anchor the home to the ground and they support the foundation, which in turn carries the weight of the home.

Foundation:  1 Co 3:11  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Footings:  

  1. I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
  2. For I am the least of the Apostles, not fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am,

pisa-2On December 2001, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” was finally reopened to the public, after having been closed for almost a dozen years. During that time, engineers completed a 25 million dollar renovation project designed to stabilize the tower. They removed 110 tons of dirt, and reduced its famous lean by about sixteen inches. Why was this necessary?

Because the tower has been tilting further and further away from vertical for hundreds of years, to the point that the top of the 185-foot tower was seventeen feet further south than the bottom, and Italian authorities were concerned that if nothing was done, it would soon collapse.

What was the problem? Bad design? Poor workmanship? An inferior grade of marble? No. The problem was what was underneath. The sandy soil on which the city of Pisa was built was just not stable enough to support a monument of this size. The tower had no firm foundation.

Our Lady of Sorrows.  Mary had firm footings in a solid foundation. So can we!

Father Ken

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The Prodigal

Friends,

300px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_ProjectHere are some notes of reflection about the parable of the prodigal son.

Some points of reflection in today’s parable:

  1. Prodigal means “wasteful”
  2. The younger son only returns because he is hungry and dying!
    1. Imperfect contrition
  3. The father runs to the boy
  4. The father kisses him
  5. The father does not allow the boy to give up his identity
    1. “Father I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
  6. The father lays down no conditions to receive his love, symbolized by:
    1. Finest robe
      1. Matthew 22:12: Friend, how is it that you came here without your wedding garment?
    2. Ring on finger
      1. Rings used as a signet
        1. Gen 41.42 With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring[a] and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
      2. A rich mans décor
        1. James 2.2 For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in
    3. Sandals on feet
      1. Both the wearing and removal of sandals is symbolic; to be barefoot was often a sign of shame, mourning, or poverty

Finally notice the father “goes” to each son.  Doesn’t make the son come to him.  Just as the Father is constantly coming to us!

Peace.

Father Ken

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How can I detach myself?!?

In today’s readings, the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear about detachment:

From the first reading, the book of wisdom, written by a Jew who was Greek, it says:

 For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns. And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?

And in Matthew’s Gospel, a Jew who wrote his Gospel to Jewish Christians,

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

knotDetachment. Its all about detachment.  Here are some quotes from the saints about detachment:

If they be faithful and seek no satisfaction in creatures, they pass from pure suffering to the pure love of God. But the fortunate souls who succeed thus far are very few. – St. Paul of the Cross

Oh! happy is he who can say, “I have despised the kingdom of the world, and all the glory of the time, for the love of my Lord Jesus Christ. – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

True love is found only in complete self-forgetfulness, and it is only after we have detached ourselves from every creature that we find Jesus. – St. Therese of Lisieux

Perfection consists in renouncing ourselves, in carrying our cross, and in following Jesus Christ. Now, he who renounces himself most perfectly carries his cross the best and follows nearest to Jesus Christ is he who never does his own will, but always that of God. – St. Vincent de Paul

There are three things which I am not able to do without: food, clothing and sleep; but I can restrict them to some extent. – St. Poemen

Perhaps it is not material things we must be detached, but rather other things.  One of my favorite prayers, but most difficult prayer to pray is the Litany of Humility:

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me. From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved… From the desire of being extolled … From the desire of being honored … From the desire of being praised … From the desire of being preferred to others… From the desire of being consulted … From the desire of being approved … From the fear of being humiliated … From the fear of being despised… From the fear of suffering rebukes … From the fear of being calumniated … From the fear of being forgotten … From the fear of being ridiculed … From the fear of being wronged … From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I … That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease … That others may be chosen and I set aside … That others may be praised and I unnoticed … That others may be preferred to me in everything… That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

peter water“God is truly humble,” Mother Teresa marvelled.  “He comes down and uses instruments as weak and imperfect as we are.  He deigns to work through us . . . to use you and me for his great work.”

If God can be humble, then we too can be humble. One “humility” is that we do not always live detached. We are unable to purge ourselves of the world. We know we should, we ought, and we try, but we cannot. True humility is accepting we do not live attached, but keep trying to live so.

When Jesus came into the world, he loved it so much that he gave his life for it.  He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God.  And what did he do?  He made himself the Bread of Life.  He became small, fragile, and defenseless for us.  A bit of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it.

This is humility and detachment. Allowing our ego to become so small, fragile, and defenceless. How can we do this? Paul, a man who struggled with ego too, said it well:

I can do all things through Christ, who is my strength.

Father Ken

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Humility

Friends,

One of the very best authors I’ve read is Michael Casey, a Trappist Monk who wrote :

One of the great dangers faced by monastic practitioners is that, after a few months or a few years or a few decades, we become weary of investing so much effort in the spiritual pursuit with so little evidence of having made very much progress.”

Humility is that way, isn’t it?

Humility is being comfortable in your own skin…..

humility

even if it’s not your own……..

 

Father Ken

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