Thursday, December 15, 2016

Final Destiny

When my cousin was young, she spent a lot of time in the closet.  Not because she liked it there, especially.  Mostly it was to give my aunt Stephanie a few minutes of respite from her antics.

 It really wasn’t so bad in the closet, which was actually a tiny room with a comfortable chair, a window that opened, and books and blankets and pillows.  And a door.  The door was always closed unless the closet was occupied, since, unlike a bedroom door, which opens in to the room, this one opened out to the hallway, blocking traffic. 

My cousin was a bright, inquisitive, and determined preschooler who was very creative, and very fast.  And thus, long before the term “time out” was coined, she spent many an afternoon “in the closet.”

One summer afternoon, so the story goes, my cousin was outside playing.  I can picture her, with her dark curly hair and rosy cheeks, a chubby bundle of energy happily immersed in some shenanigan or another. 

Aunt Stephanie had learned long before to keep one ear tuned to the tell tale sounds of mischief in the making.  It had been awhile, and Aunt Stephanie had heard neither whisper nor word from my cousin.  Just as she was beginning to wonder what trouble the silence was signaling, she heard the screen door slam, followed by the sound of little feet running across the hard wood floor.  Before Aunt Stephanie could reach the living room, she heard my cousin call out exuberantly, “Open up the door, Steph, I’m coming in!”

I love that story, which for  years  has been told over and over at family reunions and
get-togethers.  I love that my cousin was absolutely certain about the end result of her
behavior.  She knew beyond the shadow of a doubt where she would end up, and she accepted the outcome with her typical enthusiasm.

That’s how I want it to be when I die.  I want to know, without a doubt, where I’m going and why.  I want the assurance that I will be spending eternity in the most wonderful place in all of creation.  And when my time comes, I want to call out with joyful confidence, “Open up the gates, Lord, I’m coming in!”

Yet, I have doubts.  I have a little voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, not holy enough, not prayerful enough.  I yell at my kids, I swear when I get cut off in traffic, and once when I was five years old, I stole my cousin’s eraser. 

But here’s the thing.  God, in His infinite mercy, has made provisions for slackers like me.  The bible tells us, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9)  ;

See?     

John 1:9 promises, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So, when I hear those little voices, when I mess up on a day-to-day basis, I know it is important to silence those voices.   I must not let myself be defeated.  Instead, I need to confess my sins, thank God for His loving mercy, and rest assured that when my time comes, I’ll call out ahead, “Open up the gates, Lord, I’m on my way!”


Do you feel defeated by sin and bad habits?  What helps you to stay positive and  to keep trying?  What helps you to remember that you are a child of the Lord who is waiting to welcome you with open arms?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Crippled Birds



A few days ago my husband and I saw a robin in our yard.  One of its feet was broken and his body was swollen.  He could fly a little, but not well.  We watched the bird for a while, debating whether there was anything we could do.  We realized we couldn’t.  It was going to die and soon.  We didn’t know if the cold weather or a predator would get it first.  We couldn’t even bring it in to the warmth of the house to make it comfortable until it died.  It flew just well enough to keep away from us.

Lately I have been feeling like that crippled bird.  Hobbling around trying to do my best while just barely staying out of reach of my enemies.  Cats waiting to pounce, larger birds looking for an easy meal, or just the cold weather wearing on me.

I feel like I’m watched, and I would like someone to come to my rescue to help and protect me.  But instead they’re just watching and placing bets on how long I’ll last.  It doesn’t feel like it will be very long.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt like this.  Life is not easy.  When we are feeling down, crippled, hurt and broken, we just want someone to come and make everything easy.  To rescue us.

That’s when prayer is the most important tool we have.  We do have someone who is always there.  The battle might not go away and we might still feel broken, but Jesus will always be at our side, enduring everything with us.  We are not alone in the cold.

So for the One who keeps His eye on the sparrow, please keep Your eye on me.  Give me the strength to continue.  Be with this “crippled bird” until we join You in our eternal home.

Do you ever feel completely vulnerable or alone?  What do you do in those times?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Come Lord Jesus

Come Lord Jesus

Fr Andrzej Skrzypiec homily, 1st Sunday of Advent, 8:30AM Mass

A NEW YEAR in the Church’s calendar begins today. Happy new year to all!

This period is appropriately called “Advent”.  It comes from the Latin word adventus which simply means ‘coming’.  But what or whose coming are we talking about? 

Actually, at this time we can speak of three comings of God. 
·       The first, is when Jesus, the Son of God came to be born in the stable at Bethlehem. 
·       But today’s Mass also speaks of the final coming of Jesus at the end of the world. 
·       And there is still a third kind of coming we need to be aware of, namely, when God enters our lives every day. 
Every single experience can be an opportunity to make contact with God.  And we are reminded of that ongoing contact with God especially in the celebration of the sacraments, including this Eucharist.

The Church is pleading with us be vigilant to the many ways in which Jesus, through his Spirit, is coming into our lives now, filling our hearts with grace and inviting us to a closer union with God and to a more loving relationship with others.

Isaiah reminds us that our God is faithful to us always and knows about the situation we are in.  Our God is always moving to bring us together. 

-What is the coming together? 
Isaiah says, “that God may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” 

Our only real hope of coming together is to come together in greater fidelity to our GodThe closer we come to our God, the closer we will come toward each other.  It will no longer be about a winning and losing – about victory over the other..  When this hope-filled unity comes, Isaiah says,
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

Each of us can find a desire in our hearts that sings, “Let us go rejoicing” to this kind of communion and peace. 

St. Paul says, it is a time for us to “wake from sleep.”  This is a season to “throw off” many things that are all about darkness and to “put on the armor of light,” to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I guess there are dark areas in all of our lives.  Things we do, things we say, things we think, the indulging of our lower and self-centered appetites; things which we would not like other people to know about because they are quite wrong.  They do no good to me or to others.

But there is also goodness in all of us that God with his grace can release and intensify.

Advent is about recognizing that God is already with us and in us.  All we have to do is to be awake to God’s presence in our hearts.

How do we do that?

We do it through our personal prayer, prayer with the community at the Eucharistic table, through acts of charity and love by which we will the good of the other.

This wonderful season is about recognizing our own weakness yet feeling how deeply God cares for us, even in our deepest failings. Our renewed preparation to follow Christ might start with a sense of obligation or fear. But as we grow closer to him we begin to follow him out of love. Our fear is purified by love. We are faithful to the gospel out of a real desire to be closer to him.

Could this Advent season be one in which I give myself to more opportunities for togetherness, for bridge building?  We can indeed get involved in building bridges in our divided nation or even in the world with all its problems.

Sometimes genuine healing and reconciliation needs to begin  in our families by letting light into places of darkness.

Concretely, can this Advent be about continuing gestures of love for a spouse who often bugs me? 

Can this be a time to reach out to the adult child who has disappointed me – whom I might have hurt by my judgments? 

What nice, caring, generous things can I do that build a bridge, without recalling a hurt or continuing my finger pointing?

Then I can move a little further:

 Is there a friend or neighbor or church community member I have recently fought with about our differing opinions about something?  Could a coffee or tea together be a time to let Advent come alive by spending time saying that our relationship is more important than our differing ideas?

As we find these ways of preparing, we can pray, with growing desire, “Come, Lord Jesus.  We await your coming.  Come O Lord. If we are closer to you we will be closer to one another”


Marana Tha - Come Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Do you love me?



As I stand before the cross with a hammer in one hand and a nail in the other, Jesus asks me “Do you love me?”  Love, what is love?  I ready the nail for his hand.  You want too much.  You ask me to acknowledge my sin, give it up even.  It’s part of who I am.  How dare you ask me to give it up?  I drive the nail into his hand.  Can you not accept me for who I am?  Can’t you love me as I am?

I look into his face and see his kind loving eyes, even as I ready the nail for the next hand.  His eyes were full of love.  But I can’t accept that kind of love.  I like my sin.  How dare he call it sin?  I drive the nail into the second hand.  I go to pick up the nail for his feet.  As I reach for it, I feel his eyes on me.  I look again.

“You are so much more than your sin.  Let me set you free of its chains.”  His eyes say it all.  I drop the hammer next to the nail and kneel at the cross.  I’m ready to let go of my sin and let Christ be my Lord.

“I’m sorry, Lord.  I’m sorry for thinking I know better than you.”  I am more than my sin.  I can be forgiven and overcome it.  He will help me.  I bask in His glory, knowing how much He has given for me.  The author of life.  He has given me everything, and knows me better than I know myself.  Only he can know my full worth.  And He loves me from the cross I put Him on with my sin.

He draws me still deeper.  He doesn’t just want to forgive my sin.  He wants me to join Him.  For us to be one.  I’m to be part of the Body of Christ.  What joy!  What must I do Lord?

“Join me on the cross.”  What now?  You want me to suffer?  Maybe I’m happy right here at the foot of the cross looking on.  “The way to Me is through your suffering.  Don’t worry.  You will never be alone.”

I look again at those kind eyes.  He is my all, my everything.  How could I deny Him anything?  He doesn’t want to be on the cross alone.  Not knowing the cost to myself, I get up from my knees and climb on the cross.  Nails are driven into my hands.  The pain is intense.  But it is made sweet by His presence.  This suffering is so much better than when I was suffering from my sins.  This I can endure and I’m with my Lord. 

“Yes, Lord.  I love you.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Plgrimage: October 1st

Communion and Liberation invites everybody to join in a public pilgrimage on October 1st, in the desire to follow the Pope's invitation to rediscover the beauty of faith during this Year of Mercy. The procession will start from St Catherine of Siena at 1 pm, praying the rosary as we go, and head to the Cathedral via University Street and South Temple. We will pass through the Holy Door at the Cathedral and conclude with confessions and the Vigil Mass at 5pm. For more info contact Thomas Dunbar (thomasgwyndunbar@gmail.com).

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Communion and LIberation

In Salt Lake City, the Communion and Liberation chapter meets at St Catherine of Sienna, in Cate's Cafe on the main floor, every Friday at 7:00pm.   Parishioners at St Ambrose are welcome to ask Thomas Dunbar for more info about our local chapter.
      For more info on CL, see:
    http://us.clonline.org/whatiscl/default.asp?id=518 (and links on right hand side of that page)

Here's one of those pages:

The Charism of CL

“Through Father Giussani,” Benedict XVI declared, “the Holy Spirit … raised in the Church a Movement, yours, that would witness to the beauty of being Christian…

“Through Father Giussani,” Benedict XVI declared, “the Holy Spirit … raised in the Church a Movement, yours, that would witness tothe beauty of being Christian in an age when the opinion was spreading that Christianity is a difficult and oppressive way to live. Father Giussani then committed himself to awaken in youth the love for Christ, ‘Way, Truth and Life,’ repeating that only he is the way toward the fulfillment of the deepest desires of the human heart, and that Christ does not save us regardless of our humanity, but through it” (Address to the members of CL, March 24, 2007).

That “gift of the Spirit given to a person in a specific historical context, so that the person may begin an experience of faith that can be useful in some way to the Church’s life” is called “charism.” A charism, Father Giussani emphasized, has an “essential characteristic: it makes the Christian message handed down by apostolic tradition more convincing, more persuasive, and more ‘approchable.’ A charism is a final point of arrival for the Incarnation, that is, a particular way in which the fact of Jesus Christ, the God-man, reaches me, and through me can reach others.”
We can sum up the essence of CL’s charism in three factors:

1) the proclamation that God has become man (and the wonder, reasonableness, and enthusiasm of this announcement): “The Word was made flesh and dwells among us”;

2) the affirmation that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, dead and risen, is an event present in a sign of communion, that is, of the unity of a people, guided by a living person – the Pope, in the final analysis;

3) only within the life of the Church (which is Christ’s presence in the world) can man be more truly a man. Therefore, it is from His presence that morality and a passion for man’s salvation (mission) spring forth with certainty.

Father Giussani explained that a charism “begets a social factor, not as a project, but as a movement of people who are changed by an encounter, which tends to make the world, the areas and the circumstances they encounter, more human. Living the memory of Christ inevitably tends to beget a presence in society, apart from any planned outcome.” The fact that the Movement arose and grew without any plan or program was pointed out by Father Giussani in his letter to John Paul II on the fiftieth anniversary of CL: “Not only did I never intend to ‘found’ anything, but I maintain that the genius of the movement that I saw being born is that of having felt the urgency to proclaim the need to return to Christianity’s essential elements, that is, the passion for the Christian fact as such, in its original elements, and nothing more.”

And John Paul II, in his letter to Father Giussani on the twentieth anniversary of the Fraternity of CL, declared, “As I go back in memory over the life and works of the Fraternity and the Movement, the first aspect that strikes me is the commitment you have put into listening to the needs of today’s man... The Movement, therefore, has chosen and chooses to indicate not a road, but the road toward a solution to this existential drama. The road, as you have affirmed so many times, is Christ.”

In conclusion, we recall this witness of Professor Nikolaus Lobkowicz, founder of the Catholic University of Eichstätt, Germany: “This is perhaps the true secret of the charism of Father Giussani: he was able to communicate to us that the Judge of this world wants our good, that He is our brother and friend. It is not by chance that friendship is one of the virtues that the movement founded by Father Giussani exercises most joyfully.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seeing clearly



Recently I broke the screen on my phone.  I don’t mean a little crack; my screen was shattered.  As I waited for the new screen to come in, I had to deal with what I had.  I used clear fingernail polish to cover the many small cracks so I wouldn’t cut my fingers.  I learned to work around the cracks and use my phone as it was.

Our lives start with a brand new screen, like our phones.  When we sin our screen gets cracked and we have trouble seeing the world clearly. Sometimes we learn to work around the consequences of our sin, but the cracks are there to stay unless we turn to God.

When my screen came in, I took my phone to the store and waited all afternoon for the new screen to be put on the phone.  While I was waiting, I ran errands for work.  During this time, I missed phone calls, texts and emails.  Some of them were important, but there was nothing I could do until I had my phone back.

Just like with my phone, we have to repair our lives and our relationship with God when we sin.  This starts with acknowledging our sin and then confessing it. Sometimes correcting our lives can be painful and it can take time.  But if we let God work in our lives we will be blessed with a “new screen”.