Saturday, December 15, 2012

Book Review: Three Persons, One God

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

How has your Advent been? Hopefully, a it's been a time or prayer, contrition, and preparation for the beautiful feast of Christmas. I can't believe that we're are already anticipating Gaudate (Joy) Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent.

On Monday (12/17) we also begin the O Antiphons during evening prayer. The hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is based on these fervent prayers of the Jewish people asking God to come to them. These beautiful prayers address Jesus by one of His Old Testament titles including O Wisdom, O Lord, and O King of Nations. But, who is this God they to whom they cry out or us for that matter? In Mark 8, Jesus asks the Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?" Every believer had an image of our God that comes to mind, or at the very least a sight, sound, or feeling that leads to thoughts of the divine. Of course if we understood God, as St. Augustine wrote, "it would not be God." Despite our inability to understand, we can know God in His love, mercy, and His Son.

In her book, Three Persons, One God: Growing in Relationship With Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, author Allison Gingras helps the reader answer that question and lead them to a deeper relationship and understanding of our Triune God. She writes; The God of our faith has revealed himself as HE WHO IS; and he has made himself known as "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34:6). God's very being is Truth and Love.

The book is full of references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and gives a scripturally supported introduction to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit complete with chronological bible references for the reader to look up. Besides being a primer on Trinity, someone new to reading scripture gets hands on practice in looking up bible verses.

 The first three chapters are more instructional in style and have more classroom type feel. That may be a manifestation of Allison's years of homeschooling her children. I can see the value however, especially for the person who wants to learn more about their faith but last studied in CCD class. The format also makes it suitable for a group study or RCIA class with a journaling section in each chapter. Although, unlike a purely academic work, it's never condescending to the reader and the author is quick to admit her own shortcomings at times.

If the former read like a textbook though, the last three chapters feel more like a love story and that is where the book truly shines. I know Allison personally and she knows how to tell a story and capture an audience. It is the personal stories and experiences that keep the reader engaged. I would have liked every chapter to read that way.
Chapters 4-6 focus more on our personal relationship with God and how we perceive him. One of my favorite examples is Allison's image of God sitting with her on the couch watching television like she did as a child with her own dad. This illustrates how the all-powerful God of the Universe can still love and relate to us on an intimate level and be a real part of our lives. As with the first, three there are bible verses to explore and all chapters have open ended questions for journaling. My only addition to the book would have been a seventh chapter to bring everything full circle and wrap everything together.I finished Chapter 6 and was left wanting for more, which may just be the author's intent. It's also a good way to market a sequel.

I always read everything with a healthy dose of skepticism, even when the author is a friend. I can honestly say I enjoyed the book (not the journaling) and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about God, to brush up on some catechetical basics, or to just better understand the treasure that is our Catholic faith. Allison's book is available on Amazon and through her website

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Sword Shall Pierce Your Heart

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day? (Ps.13:3)

There's no escaping the images, commentary, and discussion of today's tragedy in Newtown, CT. It is unimmaginable as a parent the horror that the victim's families must be experiencing. As I sit with my two youngest watching Curious George and the older three making some attempt to play nicely downstairs, I thank God that thery are here with me at this moment and how blessed we are to be entrusted with their care and all the moments we share, no matter how challenging it can be at times.

In this Advent season, we think of Mary as an expectant mother, carrying this miraculous child, feeling him kick, and pondering what the future would hold. Could she have know what Simeon's prophecy would entail and that she would one day hold her son's lifeless and nearly unrecognizable body after His crucifixion? No one should have to endure the death of a child, even if that "child" is an adult. But Mary can be our model of grace in suffering and someone to whom we can turn in our moments of grief. While I'm certain the pain never goes away, it is comforting to know that we can turn someone who know our pain and through the sarcrafice of her Son, we are confident that we have the opportunity to share in His Ressurection.

So, please pray for the victims, their families, and all those involved in today horrific tragedy. May God bring them peace and comfort in their loss and the hope that some day they will be reunited in Heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may the perpetual light shine upon them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Thirst for Blood

Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. (Rev. 12:17)

This is a chilling but timely article written by Providence College Professor Anthony Esolen. It brings into light how the Culture of Death is taking hold in our soceity. A commenter on the article brought up an interesting question: What is a Christian supposed to do? In other words, how do we as a people resist, or do we?  

Comments welcome as always. I look forward to hearing from you. Please also follow this blog on Facebook and Twitter.

Be blessed!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mrs. Jesus Revisited

I knew it!!! Fr. Z gets to the bottom of the papyrus controversy.

Of papyrus fragments. “Mrs Jesus” … getting a divorce!

A Tale of Two Catholics

Last night, we witnessed to men who are baptized Catholics explain the role in which their faith plays in the personal and public lives. Both showed an understanding of Catholic teaching and professed a belief in its truth. Belief is one thing; putting that belief into practice is another and that is where they greatly differ. Take a look at the following two quotes from last night's debate.

“I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that -- women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that.” -Vice President Joe Biden

“I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith,” Ryan said. “Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life."   -Congressman Paul Ryan

See a difference here? One choses to seperate his faith from his public life and the other uses it to inform him in his decisions. Jesus commands us to go "make deciples of all nations" and to teach others to "observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt. 28: 20) He makes no distinction as to our public or private endevors. What we profess at Mass should be the same as what we do in our homes, in the workplace, or in public service.

Is it easy? That would be no. But Jesus never said it would be. St. Paul encourages us, actually charges us to proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching, (2 Tim 4:2) even if it costs us friends, family, a job, or even votes. Are you listening Mr. Biden?

The Vice President went on to say: "Life begins at conception in the Church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life." So, he can't claim ignorance to Church teaching and is ok with with other people killing an unborn child. That's the same as saying stealing is wrong according to the Church and I accept that, but it's ok if you commit grand theft. I could give a lot of examples here but you get the point.

On the flip side of this arguement, if the Vice President believes that he shouldn't impose his views on someone else, why does he support the HHS Mandate requiring religious institutions to provide free contraceptives and sterilizations? There are many people who have strong held beliefs that those are morally wrong, however the government is requiring that they pay for them. Congressman Ryan stated how he was troubled by what he feels is the Obama administration’s infringement on “our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals. Our church should not have to sue our federal government to maintain their religious liberties."

Biden contended that “no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.” A fact? Really? The USCCB's reaction to that "fact" can be found here.

There is a difference in how one believes goverment resources should be allocated, the most sound tax plan, or how we should shape the country's foreign policy. But there are certain truths that need to be upheld and are non negotiable.

Be blessed!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Door of Faith

 “Dear brothers and sisters, you're among the protagonists of the New evangelization which the Church has undertaken and carried forward, not without difficulty, but with the same enthusiasm of the early Christians."   Pope Benedict XVI  Oct. 16, 2011

On October 11, the Church will begin the Year of Faith which will coencide with the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and end on the feast of Christ the King in November 2013. Here is a link to the Pope's Apostolic Letter announcing this year-long reflection on the richness of our Catholic faith and encourging all of us be part of the New Evengelization.

More to come on this...
Be blessed! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


So the Smithsonian Channel (never heard of it) is postponing its blockbuster documentary that will apparently shake Chrisendom to its core. The subject of this program, as you may have guessed, is the tiny, business card-sized piece of papyrus that purportedly proves that Jesus had a wife. They cite "upcoming tests" as the reason for the delay.

Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was unmarried. Any evidence to the contrary would shake up debates about priestly celibacy and the role of women in the church.  

So let me get this straight: Four Gospels, and twenty-three other books of the New Testament can be regularly misinterpreted or even completely ignored, but this one fragment of writing of unknown and questionable origin is going to change Church teaching that much?  Not to mention there are various non-Christain sources that at least support the earthly existance of Jesus. Even these sources have verifiable origens. Seriously? Where have wer heard this arguement before?


The Smithsonian Channel promoted the fragment as "one of the most significant discoveries of all time." After scholars began questioning it, the channel initially said it had no plans to delay the broadcast. But later it decided to postpone the Sept. 30 premiere.

So, if all it takes is small scrap of paper to get some Ivy League professor to proclaim the greatest discovery ever, I can make it easy for them. I'll have one of my children write something like "Jesus is God" and "The Catholic Church is the One True Church" and drop it off at Harvard. This could be the "next big thing."

Hey, an American 4 year old writing in crayon can be just as much of an "expert source" as an anymonous 4th Century Copt, right?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Sense of the Sacred

Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!” (Mark 9:5)

I like to repeat Peter's profession of faith whenever I am in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, whether it before Masss or in Adoration. Peter was right; why would we want to be anywhere else? Unfortunately for Peter, his heavenly vision and moment of pure bliss also abruptly ended. While I don't claim to experience ecstasy as some saints have, I do feel that I am on Holy ground when in His presence. Usually, I only get a few precious moments of prayer before I have to prepare my music or tend to a child so I try to make the most of my time.

Attending a different Mass this weekend, filling in as cantor, I made it a point to go early so to take advantage of the sacrament of confession being offered. There were only about a dozen or so people in the church, mainly of an older generation, so one would think it would be a great time for prayer. One would think...

Ecstasy? Not even close. I spent my time praying for my own patience from the loud conversations, the man chastising the young mother and her son for sitting in "his pew," and a woman yelling across the aisle at another man for allegedly cutting her off at the confessional when she was nowhere near it.

 Why do people think that the church is a social club? His pew??? Cut me off? Are you kidding me???

 I was at first hoping for a cleansing of the temple moment but instead tried to focus on my prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Jesus' words from the cross also seemed appropriate asking forgiveness for they "know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)

Shouldn't they, though?

I am no better a sinner, I admit, but sometimes it seems as if no one knows why they are there. The youth get blamed a lot for this but they are not always the culprits. Many have also grown up without being taught (which is a topic for another day). But these were adults, old enough to know better, and from a generation who came of age in a sort of golden age of American Catholicism. This was a time when churches were full, vocations were plentiful, and you dare not make a sound in church of there would consequences when you got home (so my my parents told me).

I'm not trying to single out a particular age group but my recent experience was jut an eye opener to a larger problem in our parishes. We forget who is present in the tabernacle, the awesome miracle of the consecration, and the amazing gift of the Eucharist. The next time we visit a church or attend Mass, let's try to remember that we are guests in God's house and focus on Him, rather than ourselves. Let's get back that sense of the sacred and like St. Peter, truly know how good it is that we are there.

Be blessed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fruits of Their Labor

The LORD said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.  (Genesis 12:1)

I came across this retro-tourism video today on Facebook. It chronicles the growth of my home city of Fall River from a small agrarian town to one of the largest producers of cotton textiles in the world in the 19th century. (Thank you to the Fall River History Club.
The Fabric of Fall River

It portrays the arrival of many immigrant communities with the promise of prosperity working in the mills.  My family is French-Canadian and thats exactly why many of them came here. Like Abraham, they left everything they knew to travel to what they perceived as the Promised Land. Over time they built the communities we have today from houses to shops, and espicially magnificent churches, Being Labor Day today, let's reflect one the struggles and sacrifice our grandparents and great-grandparents made. They had faith in God's Providence (Mt. 6:25-34) so that they and their progeny could have a better life. I know I'm thankful.

Be blessed. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Doers and Not Just Hearers

I can't believe today is already September 1st. What happened to June, July, and August? Living in New England all my life, I've always noticed a distinct change in the air once Labor Day passes. I think it's God's way of turning our attention from the lazy days of summer and getting back into the more on-task routines of autumn. 

The Church gives us a great reminder this weekend to get more on-task with how we live our faith as well. In the Second Reading, St. James reminds us that as the "firstfruits" of God's creation, we've been given a divine gift and have an obligation to care for the temporal and spiritual needs of others. 

Dearest brothers and sisters: All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.
Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:to care for orphans and widows in their affliction 
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   James 1: 17-18, 21b-22, 27

As St. James tells us later on: Faith of itself, without works is dead (2:17) we must do more than hear God's word, we have to put it into action as well. Many church ministries are starting back up this time of year so you might consider getting involved in one of them (I suggest choir) or go back to volunteering in a youth program or soup kitchen. How we choose to glorify God is up to us. The key thing is that we do something and become doers, not just hearers. 

Many of us will take a break from our work tomorrow to celebrate Labor Day. Let's not forget to give thanks to God for our livelihoods and remember our brothers and sisters who are desperately looking for work in these difficult economic times. Maybe that will help us think twice about cursing at the alarm clock when Tuesday morning rolls around. Let us give thanks to the Lord of our work and continue to do the Work of the Lord.

Have a blessed Labor Day Weekend.