Faith

The Resurrection and the Life

"The Raising of Lazarus" (detail) by Carl Bloch

The Final Journey to Jerusalem Begins The account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus is the seventh of the seven signs in St. John’s Gospel that announce the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant and the passing away of the old rites, replaced by the grace and sacraments of Jesus Christ. It is also the […]

The Suffering in Bethany

“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something to spare this suffering?” The Sunday Gospels in Lent for Year A are particularly poignant and reflective, drawing us into the Lenten mysteries. We can see how the Church values them by the fact that these Gospels may be read at the weekday Masses as […]

Earthen Vessels

Photo by ritesh singh on Unsplash

The Light is Hidden, But Never Extinguished Many of us might remember the great battle in the Book of Judges between the Midianites and Gideon’s Israelite forces. Gideon had instructed his soldiers to each carry a trumpet and a clay jar with a torch in it. “And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and put trumpets into the hands of […]

The Lent that became Advent

Photo by Francesco Alberti on Unsplash

“What do we do with the void?” You may have heard, “Pray every Mass as if it was your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.” This past Tuesday, I went to an early morning Mass at a church dedicated to St. Patrick for his feast day. When a church celebrates its patronal feast day, it is celebrated as […]

Feasting on a Fast

"Christ in the Desert (detail)" by Ivan Kramskoy

In this season of preparation for the arrival of Easter, there is one particular practice that seems to get a lot of attention, most of it negative. This should not be surprising since the practice is all about denying ourselves something we have all become quite accustomed to – food. The practice of course is fasting. “But he said to […]

Fear and Trust in a Time of COVID-19

“Instead of anxiety, let us embrace faith and trust in God.” As the entire world responds to COVID-19, I must admit some shock and confusion over the level of fear that seems to be gripping countries, governments, and institutions. Without getting into the science of it all, since I am no doctor or virologist, the radical responses to the virus […]

The Nature of Forgiveness — Is it Humanly Possible?

"Return of the Prodigal Son" (detail) by Murillo

The exalted nature of forgiveness is attested to by the fact that it presupposes a number of other virtues.  Consider three virtues in particular: justice, clemency, and mercy. Justice has the nature of an equation: Borrowing ten dollars requires returning ten dollars. When justice is violated, punishment or restitution of some kind is required. Herein is the timeless significance of bringing […]

Be Reconciled

“Be perfect… in mercy.” Today’s Gospel is a hard one. There are so many sayings of Jesus to which we have become desensitized. There are parables and commands that have lost their radicality, simply because we have heard them so often. I think today’s Gospel is one such message. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You […]

The Desert in Carmelite Spirituality

Photography © by Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

“What did you go out to the wilderness to see?” (Matthew 11:7) These were Jesus’ words to the crowd. John took to the desert to draw people out into solitude to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. For many years the desert had become a place of encounter. In 1 Kings 19:1-8 a long time before John’s […]

What Does the Bible Teach About Fasting?

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

Lent has begun, so I thought we should revisit self-denial. Fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, help us, by God’s grace, to enable the soul to more perfectly and freely pray.  This leads to a deeper union with God and thus we become better stewards of the gifts […]