Fast Before Feast

Christmas is a joyous celebration of the birth of Peace.  So why does the Church precede the feast of December 25 with a somber season of fast, penance and repentance?  A meditation for Advent… The Mass readings for the Second Sunday of Advent (Year A) are Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12. Christmas cards speak […]

Thanksgiving and the Eucharist

For Americans, the term “Thanksgiving” conjures up images of turkey and cranberry sauce, parades and bowl games.  These are “traditions” that have come to mark an event made a perpetual institution of American life by President Abraham Lincoln. But why did Lincoln proclaim the last Thursday in November as a national holiday? Because it was clear to him that the blessings of food, land, […]

The Second Coming in Glory

The belief second and final coming of Jesus as sovereign Lord and judge of the world is common to all Christians, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant.  It is commemorated each November in the Roman Catholic Feast of Christ the King, a celebration that inspires both hope and a salutary fear. The Mass readings for the Solemnity of Christ the King (Year […]

Armageddon, Apocalypse and the Final Battle

The Apocalypse — What does the Bible really teach about the End of the World, Armageddon, the second coming of Jesus Christ and the final battle against the Antichrist? The gospels and the book of Revelation raise many apocalyptic questions for Christians. The Mass readings for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) are Malachi 3:19-20; Psalms 98:5-6, 7-8, […]

Heaven, Marriage and the Resurrection

Will there be marriage in heaven? Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees about the widow married to seven deceased husbands needs to be understood in light of some important truths about the resurrection and the afterlife. The Mass readings for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) are Second Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalms 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15; Second Thessalonians 2:16–3:5; […]

All Souls Day and Prayers for the Dead

"The Madonna of Carmel and the Souls of the Purgatory" (detail) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

I’ll never forget that bleak January day when my father died.  It was very hard to believe in the resurrection as I watched the undertakers carry away his lifeless corpse in a body bag. But imagine this scene.  You are an unborn child who has lived in cozy but cramped quarters with your twin for nine months.  But now you […]

Sunday Reflection—The Pharisee and the Publican

The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (tax collector) in Luke 18 teaches us a lot about pride, humility and . . . insanity.  It even gives us insight into one of the principal battle cries of the Protestant Reformation — “sola gratia” or “grace alone.” The Mass readings for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) are […]

Sunday Reflection—Ask and You Shall Receive

Jesus says “ask and you shall receive.”  He encourages us to ask boldly and persistently through the story of the unjust judge and the persistent widow.  But if we don’t listen in prayer, we won’t know what to ask for.  Here are tips for using the inspired prayers called Psalms as guides to praying effectively. The Mass readings for the […]

Sunday Reflection—Giving Thanks

The Bible stories of Naaman the Syrian and Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers shows us that gratitude is an obligation of justice. To remember the source of our blessings and to give thanks is exactly why some countries, like the USA and Canada, dedicate a national Thanksgiving holiday.  And why Catholics have a “Sunday obligation” to attend the Eucharist. […]

Sunday Reflection—A Mustard Seed Faith

Jesus calls us to have faith at least the size of a mustard seed.  He also constantly addresses his disciples with this command: Be not afraid!  The story of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan shows us how to leave behind fear and grow in faith. The Mass readings for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) are […]