Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hump day happenings...

Yes, I hear it often on Wednesdays...Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it, and I'm supposed to oblige, it's hump day.  You know it's only hump day if we have a live for the weekend mentality as opposed to live for today.  For in each "today" is it's own blessings, along with it's own ups and downs, good and bad.  But for sure, each "today" is another opportunity to praise and thank and worship God!  Wednesdays count just as much as other days of the week, so do Mondays for that matter!

Now with all that being said, I indeed am looking forward to the weekend!  On these upcoming weekend days the diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be in complete overdrive, and I'm happy to be part of it all.  Not one, but two retreats will be taking place this weekend.  In Covington, La. at the beautifully spiritual St. Joseph Abbey, the men who are already instituted acolytes and awaiting ordination next June, will be on retreat along with their wives.  I wish them a wonderful retreat experience and will hold them in prayer.  I will not be with them this year because I will be about 20 miles or so west of the Abbey at the equally beautiful retreat center known as Rosaryville, mid-way between Ponchatoula and Springfield, La.  Here, we will welcome the recently selected men who begin their diaconate formation as aspirants, men seeking the possibility of becoming deacon candidates in a year.  Along with our diaconate director and another brother deacon, I will help present A Simple Path, from Blessed Mother Teresa along with other spiritual exercises over the weekend.  Perhaps now you know why I am so looking forward to the weekend.

Of course one does not arrive at some future date or future event without celebrating, or at least managing the now.  During what has been not the most dynamic of weeks at work, the Deacon finds himself also without his car as the old Acadia gets some much needed work done including being caught up in one of the numerous GMC recalls.  I reflected earlier today that while disappointing and inconvenient, it sure is not the end of the world.  And the bill, whenever I see that final total for parts and labor, just remember, you can't take it with you!

Hump day was another grass cutting day.  I waited to the sun was starting to go down and lo and behold, on a July 30th, thanks to lower than usual humidity and a nice breeze, it was not too hot.  What is going on this summer?  Of course, be it hot or not, wet or dry, please Lord, just keep any and all hurricanes away!

Enjoy the rest of your hump day and the end of July and be ready for the last full summer month of August.  And in all things, give God the glory and be thankful for your many blessings.

I've just about had it with all politicians; Congress can't even agree to recognize the Pope for his work

Pope Francis May Be 'Too Liberal' For House Republicans To Honor

 | By


ANDREAS SOLARO via Getty Images

A bipartisan resolution written to honor Pope Francis for his work towards social justice appears to be mired in Congress, reportedly due to his reputation among Republicans as being "too liberal," according to The Hill. The pope is expected to visit the United States in 2015 for the Catholic Church's World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), a Catholic, warmly invited Pope Francis to address Congress in a statement made in March 2014. However, House Resolution 440, which recognizes the pope's “inspirational statements and actions" and congratulates him on his election, was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December 2013 and has been languishing there ever since.
Out of the 221 co-sponsors of the resolution, a mere 19 are GOP members. A Republican supporter of the bill told The Hill that the lack of enthusiasm could be due to the belief that the pope is "too liberal," a perception drawn largely from his criticism of unfettered capitalism and trickle-down economics as well as his calls for a more equal distribution of wealth.
The Republican source told The Hill that some GOP members think Pope Francis is "sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged."
With the clock ticking on the legislative calendar, the writers of the resolution, Reps. John Larson (D-Connecticut) and Pete King (R-New York), sent a letter to Boehner on Friday to ask him to put it to a vote.
“To my knowledge this would be an historic first. I ask that you take a look at a bipartisan resolution introduced by Representative Peter King and myself, acknowledging the first Pope from the Americas ... it is my sincere hope that you will consider this resolution for the suspension calendar for a vote,” Larson wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill.
Boehner's March invitation said in part:
His tireless call for the protection of the most vulnerable among us—the ailing, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the impoverished, the unborn—has awakened hearts on every continent.
His social teachings, rooted in ‘the joy of the gospel,’ have prompted careful reflection and vigorous dialogue among people of all ideologies and religious views in the United States and throughout a rapidly changing world, particularly among those who champion human dignity, freedom, and social justice.
These principles are among the fundamentals of the American Idea. And though our nation sometimes fails to live up to these principles, at our best we give them new life as we seek the common good. Many in the United States believe these principles are undermined by ‘crony capitalism’ and the ongoing centralization of political power in the institutions of our federal government, which threaten to disrupt the delicate balance between the twin virtues of subsidiarity and solidarity.
According to The Hill, the resolution's supporters see it as a more formal acknowledgment of Pope Francis that goes beyond the open invitation originally extended. “The Speaker’s invited him to speak, it would give it more significance if there was an actual official resolution about it,” said King.

All about Mary and few more truths about Holy Mother Church

In light of the most recent headline grabbing dust up about Catholics being Mary worshippers from that leading authority on all things Christian, some young boy dating one of the Duggar clan, here is an awesome article that Protestants and others ought to read.  The Bible only crowd has earned that term, Bible only, mostly from the fact that they take from the Bible only that which suits their needs and places them at odds with the faith handed to us from Christ Himself!!  No my friends, we Catholics don't do all the crazy things your religion has whipped up to give you some justification to exist.  Fullness of truth, full Gospel Church; existing from the beginning of the New Testament, and existing in every nation, land, proclaimed in every tongue and involved in worship at every hour of every day as the sun sweeps across the globe from east to west: The Catholic Church, where yes, we honor Mary because honoring her gives glory and worship to God.

Please read this:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bishop and Preacher, he is the golden worded one

Image of St. Peter Chrysologus


Feastday: July 30
Birth: 380
Death: 450

St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Feast-July 30) Born at Imola, Italy in 406, St. Peter was baptized, educated, and ordained a deacon by Cornelius, Bishop of Imola. St. Peter merited being called "Chrysologus" (golden-worded) from his exceptional oratorical eloquence. In 433, Pope Sixtus III consecrated him bishop of Ravenna. He practiced many corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ruled his flock with utmost diligence and care. He extirpated the last vestiges of paganism and other abuses that had sprouted among his people, cautioning them especially against indecent dancing. "Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil," he remarked, "cannot rejoice with Christ." He also counseled the heretic Eutyches (who had asked for his support) to avoid causing division but to learn from the other heretics who were crushed when they hurled themselves against the Rock of Peter. He died at Imola, Italy in 450 and in 1729 was made a Doctor of the Church, largely as a result of his simple, practical, and clear sermons which have come down to us, nearly all dealing with Gospel subjects.

Great advice about preaching!

A good homilest will be concise and focus on Scripture.
A good homilist will be concise and focus on Scripture. CNS photo

A homily must be about God’s word, not yours


  • July 29, 2014
TORONTO - Perfecting the art of preaching is all about patience in preparation, says a homiletics professor. 
“I really am encouraging priests, deacons, liturgical preachers to take time,” said Fr. Joseph Mele, author of The Sacred Conversation: The Art of Catholic Preaching and the New Evangelization. “What I always try to have my students do in preparing the homily is to first of all spend time simply reading the word, reading the Scripture, studying it ... and let the word speak to them. You really need to take time to outline, to structure your homily so that you know one main point and you are going to be concise about that.”
And that main point cannot be a message from the preacher himself to the people in the pews but rather one which comes from God. Recognizing this is one of the biggest challenges young preachers struggle with, said Mele, who holds a PhD in rhetoric and communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
That’s because hearing the message from God requires patience and a willingness to put one’s own agenda aside.
“Often the first thing to come to mind is still their own thought — this is what I want to say about this passage,” said Mele, a former professor of homiletics at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. “Nine times out of 10 if they just stay patient and prayerful and reflective on the word another message will come. So the priest really needs to be faithful to wait for God to communicate the message God is desiring for the people.”
Mele gave this message to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s conference in homiletics held July 7 to 10 at St. Augustine’s Seminary. The conference, part of the seminary’s centenary celebrations, aimed to improve the preaching power of the archdiocese’s priests and deacons at the request of Cardinal Thomas Collins.
“(The cardinal) wanted to put a special emphasis on improving the state of homiletics,” said Deacon Peter Lovrick, who organized the three-day event. “Every one of the last popes have talked about the urgency to improve the state of homiletics in the Church and have given some very poignant and specific challenges or calls to the Church’s preachers as kind of a vocation for us to live up to. The Church is being very clear in what it is asking for from its preachers.”
Lovrick, a professor of homiletics at St. Augustine’s, said what the Vatican desires is preaching rooted in and focusing on Scripture. By doing that Lovrick said preachers will avoid the challenges Mele spoke of.
“If you do what the Church is asking you to do then you avoid all of the problems,” said Lovrick. “The problems being making preaching your own hobby horse, implementing your own agenda, bringing your own political slants in. It is almost an abuse of the congregation when you have a captive audience and they’ve come to hear the mind of the Church and not to hear your own particular agenda.
“Keeping focus on the Scripture, keeping focus on the mind of the Church, helps one keep focus on what the Church is asking for.”
Where Lovrick and Mele had a differed was on the length of the homily. For Lovrick, ideally a preacher will stay at the pulpit for 10 to 12 minutes while his American peer prefers a briefer seven- to eight-minute homily.
But at the end of the day, quality trumps quantity for both.
“I don’t like particularly to be emphasizing time limits,” said Lovrick. “It seems to me for a bad preacher five minutes can seem terribly long and for a wonderful preacher 20 minutes may just fly by like nothing. (A good homily) is an act of worship, an act of praise and an act of love which echos and fully connects with everything else.”

>Spotted 1st at Deacon's Bench

Pope Francis has his Top Ten list for happiness

How to Be Happy, Pope Francis-Style

Pope Francis in Argentinian newspaperWhat is the recipe for happiness?
Argentine journalist Pablo Calvo asked that question of Pope Francis during an audience July 7 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.  The pope answered amiably, addressing a group of Argentine emigrants and offering ten points.
I confess:  I read these pointers in La Croix, the French Catholic newspaper.  That means I read the Pope’s pointers in English translated from French which was translated from Spanish.  To simplify all of this, I offer the pointers in my own words.
Here, though, is Pope Francis’ advice for those who search for true happiness.
1.  Live and Let Live.  The Romans have a saying that we can take as a guiding thread.  “Go,” they said.  “and let people go ahead.  ‘Live and let live’ is the first step towards peace and happiness.”
2.  Give to Others.  Someone who remains isolated runs the risk of becoming selfish.  Remember that standing water is the first to be corrupted.
3.  Move With Kindness and Humility.  In the 1926 novel Don Segundo Sombra by Argentine poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes, the hero recounts how as a youth, man is like a rocky stream which hurried through the mountains, carrying everything ahead; but as an adult, he is a running river.  Then, in old age, there is movement but it is “remansado” (dammed; that is, slow and quiet).  Seniors, said the Holy Father, have the wisdom and the ability to move with kindness and humility.  A people who do not care for their seniors have no future.
4.  Take Time to Play With Children.  Consumerism, Pope Francis warned, has led to a loss of healthy leisure culture, in which people enjoy the opportunity to read, to enjoy the arts.  As Pope, Francis has little opportunity to hear confessions; but as a bishop in Buenos Aires, he heard the confessions of many young mothers who came in.  He asked them, “Do you have children?  And do you play with them?”  His question was not expected; but it was a way of reminding them that children are the key to a healthy culture.  It’s difficult for parents who must go to work early and return after their children are asleep.
5.  Spend Time With the Family on Sundays.  Recently the Holy Father spoke in Campobasso about the importance of reserving Sundays for the family.  He reminded people in the universities and the labor force that we should not work on Sunday.
6.  Help Youth to Find Employment.  “We need to be creative,” Pope Francis said, “with this segment of the population.  If there is a lack of opportunity for gainful employment, young people can get into drugs.  And the suicide rate is very high among young unemployed.  The Pope was unsure whether this was scientific data, but said that he had recently read that there are 75 million people under the age of 25 who are unemployed.  It’s not sufficient to merely feed them; instead, he hoped that they might find opportunities to be a plumber, electrician, designer…. some gainful career in which they could bring home an income.
7.  Care For Creation.  “We must care for creation,” Pope Francis said, “and we do not do so.  This is one of our biggest challenges.”
8.  Forget the Negative Quickly.  The need to speak ill of others is the mark of a low self-esteem.  This means that instead of elevating oneself, a person lowers the other.  It’s healthy, said the Pope, to quickly forget the negative.
9.  Listen To and Learn From Those Who Think Differently.   In a theme which has been quoted in the past, the Pope warned against the danger of religious proselytism, the paralyzing “I dialogue with you in order to convince you.”  Instead, dialogue should permit each to present his views for consideration.  The Church grows by attraction, not by proselytism.
10.  Seek Peace.  “We live in an era in which wars are numerous,” said the Holy Father.  War is destructive; and the call for peace needs to be shouted.  Peace sometimes evokes calmness, but peace is never quiet; it is still an active peace.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Martha, Martha, she served Christ!


Image of St. Martha


Feastday: July 29
Patron of cooks

"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.
Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. We read of three visits in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.
Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them. Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha's work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus' response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important -- listening to him. And that is what Mary has done. In Martha we see ourselves -- worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.
Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus' power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was. Jesus has returned to Bethany some time later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life. We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by annointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: "Martha served." She isn't in the spotlight, she doesn't do showy things, she doesn't receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.
We know nothing more about Martha and what happened to her later. According to a totally untrustworthy legend Martha accompanied Mary to evangelize France after Pentecost.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if the most important thing that could be said about us is "They served"?
Martha is the patron saint of servants and cooks.

Pope Francis spends his Monday evening visiting with the Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy

Papal first: Pope Francis visits Pentecostal church

The Associated Press By The Associated Press The Associated Press
on July 28, 2014 

Pope Francis has become the first pope to visit a Pentecostal church, pressing his outreach to evangelicals who represent Catholicism's greatest competition for Christian souls around the globe.
Francis flew by helicopter Monday to visit the under-construction Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in the southern city of Caserta. He met privately with Pentecostal preacher Giovanni Traettino, an old friend.
Speaking to some 350 Pentecostal faithful in the church, Francis apologized for Catholic persecution of Pentecostals during Italy's fascist regime, when the practice of their faith was forbidden, and stressed that there was unity in diversity within Christianity.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," he said. "I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil."
He acknowledged the remarkable nature of his visit, saying: "Someone will be surprised: 'The pope went to visit the evangelicals?' But he went to see his brothers."
Catholics have often compared Pentecostal groups to cults and accused them of overly aggressive, unethical proselytizing. The popular, charismatic movements have drained parishioners from the Catholic Church, particularly in Francis' own Latin America.
But Francis has met unofficially with several Pentecostal and evangelical preachers recently, including the Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland. He recorded an iPhone video for a Pentecostal conference hosted by Copeland, whose prosperity gospel ministry — stressing that God will reward the faithful with health and wealth — clashes with Francis' own embrace of the value of a "poor church."
Not all evangelicals or Catholics have welcomed the pope's outreach: Some traditionalist Catholics have sought to minimize the pope's initiative, stressing that Traettino and others represent only their individual churches.
In a statement earlier this month on the eve of the Caserta meeting, several Italian evangelical groups met in the same city and stressed the "incompatibility" of their beliefs with that of the Catholic Church and its pope.

Rewarding yes, frustrating yes indeed; Catholic blogging

For a little independent blog, this experiment called the abitadeacon does pretty well.  I sure wish I always had the time to pen an essay every day but then I would not be about the business of family, career and ministry.  While I view this blog as an integral part of my ministry, it must wait for availability. 

Now the rewards come from all the folks who read this blog, especially my homilies that I post frequently and those who follow the blog.  The rewards are magnified when it is used as a vehicle by others to grow in right relationship with God and grow closer to the faith.

It is indeed frustrating too.  I never can understand the swings of maybe 300 visitors one day, then something south of 200 the next.  I sincerely don't understand much about blogging in terms of traffic sources and visits.  Yet today, in just 3 short hours, the abitadeacon fetched about 6 visitors.  Why?  I really don't know.

Yet despite the frustration I take comfort in the truth that if this blog, as an instrument of faith, reaches just one person a day, then to God be the glory.  Maybe someone finds their way here to reinforce their faith or perhaps another comes here in their perpetual search.  In any event, I appreciate all of you for visiting the blog and hope more will visit, and visit often!