Saving Our Souls

Today is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, the patron of my congregation. Our Founder, Theodore James Ryken told us that “The name of this insatiable laborer for souls will indicate with one word what is intended for the congregation.” Now I have to admit that there are very few ways I am able to identify with St. Francis Xavier. Perhaps if at the age of 17, when I was making the decision to join the congregation, I had known these words of Ryken I would have sought out an order or congregation more suited to my personality and temperament.[read more]

Awareness and Judgment

On this first weekday of Advent, we pray that when the Lord comes and knocks, we shall be found “watchful in prayer.” To be in prayer is to be awake and watchful in a way far more truly and distinctively human than the way we are present to life much of the time. In today’s gospel Jesus exclaims to his disciples that in no person in Israel has he found the faith that the centurion manifests. For what Jesus experiences among his own people is what he well may experience among his church today when he comes. He may find[read more]

Envy and Scapegoating

In his commentary on the above verse from Luke, Luke Timothy Johnson writes: “In Greek moral philosophy, misos (“hatred”) is often associated with envy, phthonos, and like it tends toward the harming of another.” To hear repeatedly in the gospels of the hatred of many of the religious leaders of Jesus gives rise to the question of “Why?” Conventionally we answer this question by pointing out that Jesus poses a threat to their status as leaders by revealing what is impure and self-serving in their motivation. However, there is perhaps an even more fundamental reason for their hatred of him,[read more]

Human Responsibility and New Creation

Alas, the day! / for near is the day of the Lord, / and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.Blow the trumpet in Zion, / sound the alarm on my holy mountain! / Let all who dwell in the land tremble, / for the day of the Lord is coming; / Yes, it is[read more]

Fear and Responsibility

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.  You lock the Kingdom of heaven before people.  You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.” Matthew 23: 13-14 From our perspective, the seeming malevolence of the scribes and Pharisees, at least as presented in the gospels, is more than[read more]

Beginner’s Mind

Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, “Come you reign over us!”  But the buckhorn replied to the trees, “If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith, come and take refuge in my shadow.  Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn and devour the cedars of Lebanon.” Judges 9: 14-15[read more]

Overcoming Despair

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.” But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the lowliest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s[read more]

To Promote the General Welfare

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with[read more]

New Life and Responsibility

The Lord took Abram outside and said: “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.  Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”  Genesis 15:5 Early this morning a young couple who are very dear friends gave birth to their first child.  I awoke, from a fairly restless and anxious night,[read more]

The Lord Called Me From Birth

The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. . . . You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Isaiah 49: 1,3 All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”  For surely the[read more]