Archives for January 2012

Saul of Tarsus: Conversion of Paul

Today, January 25th, we celebrate the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. Paul originally was known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a bad guy. He was a real persecutor, even a murderer, of those who believed in Jesus Christ. He was a ruthless soldier, determined to eliminate those who believed.

Saul of Tarsus was not a guy to mess with.

The conversion of Paul is one of my favorite stories. On his way to Damascus, Saul was struck down off his horse by a bolt of lightning, and blinded. He heard a voice calling to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” The voice said to him, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul was instructed to continue to Damascus and to pray. Jesus sent Ananias to find Saul and help him with his conversion. Ananias restored his vision and told him “God has designated you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear the sound of his voice. For you will be His witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”
(And here’s the best part)…

Ananias told him “Now, why delay?”

Saint Paul - Saul of TarsusWith that, Saul became a ruthless warrior for Jesus Christ. Talk about a 180 degree turnaround! Some of Paul’s letters that we read in the Liturgy carried the deepest meaning and the greatest thoughts. What God was able to see in Saul was his tireless ambition and drive. Until his conversion, Saul was using that ambition and drive in the wrong direction.

The message I take away from Paul’s conversion is that:
Anyone can have their eyes opened,
Anyone can still learn a new thing or two, and
Anyone can still come to believe in the hope in Jesus Christ.

It’s never too late to become a warrior for God.

Newark, NJ and St. Francis de Sales

What does Newark, New Jersey and St. Francis DeSales have in common?

Today, January 24, we celebrate the feast day of St. Francis DeSales.  At Mass this morning, we heard the story of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey.  I have never been there, but I heard the story how the pulpit in the Cathedral is surrounded by two statues: one of St. John Chrysostom, and one of St. Francis DeSales.

St. Francis de Sales

Patron Saint of Schools

As the story goes, St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of schools and of wisdom.  St. Francis DeSales is also known as the doctor of the Church Lectionary.  And St. John Chrysostom was known for his homilies — and his brevity.  Our priest this morning was kidding about how most of the homilies he heard there were neither wise nor brief!

I’m sure he was kidding when he said that.

St. Francis DeSales is also the patron saint of writers and journalists.  In the 1600s, St. Francis DeSales was having a tough time dealing with those Calvinists.  When St. Francis DeSales was the Bishop of Geneva, he gained quite a reputation as a preacher.

Here is a wonderful series of photographs of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey (found on Flickr)

Daily Prayer, per Chris Pirillo

Thank you Chris Pirillo for the laugh today!

We Hope No One Hears Us!

Book of Samuel: Dare To Be Different

This past week, we have been reading from the book of Samuel. If you are not familiar with the stories found in Samuel, please take some time to read Samuel. If you went to Catholic School, you heard these great stories — perhaps a long time ago. But they are so vivid, the minute you begin to read them, you can likely finish telling the story to everyone around you.
OK, well, that’s the impression these stories had on me.

In Friday’s reading, the people approached Samuel and said, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not wish to take your place, please choose a king for us.”

Samuel asked why. They replied, “we wish to be like other nations. We want to have a king to lead us, and to guide us in battle.”

Samuel was very unhappy to hear this. But God told Samuel, “Do what they ask. It is not you the people are rejecting, Samuel — it is Me they are rejecting.”

Samuel gave them “the low down” on what the future would look like with a king. Ehhh, not very nice.
Essentially, they would lose all of their possessions and become slaves of the new king.

Even still, the people approached Samuel and demanded. “Please choose a new king for us.”
later, in speaking with God, Samuel said. “I tried to tell them what would happen, but they would not listen.”

God said, “then give them what they desire.”

Even as far back as 2000 years ago, people had the overwhelming raging desire to “fit in.” They wanted to be like everyone else — they wanted to be like other nations. They wanted to be essentially, led by a slave driver and suffer mightily and have all their possessions taken from them. This included their children taken from them and turned into slaves as well. Butt-heads!

It must be something in our human nature to want to “fit in.” To wear the same clothes, the same designer glasses, the same cars, the same houses… the same life! What Samuel was trying to get across to his people is they did not need to be like other nations. They did not need an “earthly ruler” to overpower them. Samuel was trying to get across the idea his people were unique — they were special. They did not need to look like the others, or fit in.

Yet, vanity ruled their decision-making process. And they paid the price. But we do not have to pay the same price and make the same mistakes.

We ought to “dare to be different.” It is completely okay to take risks, and to follow a different path. What stops us from taking a different path?

Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus

Today is January 3rd, which is the day we celebrate the Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Medal

Holy Name of Jesus

As if we didn’t already know that Jesus is a very holy name. This was the name given by the angel to Mary, before He was conceived in the womb.

But, at Mass this morning, our celebrant spoke about how we have seen so many athletes with unusual names over the past thirty or forty years. What he explained was, at the time “Jesus, the Christ” and also “Jesus the Annointed One” were such very unique and so very special names used to describe Jesus.

While someone can name their child “LeBron” or “Anfernee” it certainly carries special meaning for their immediate families. But terms like “Jesus the Christ” carry so much more meaning — for such a large percentage of the population, not just some family members. It truly IS a holy name: Jesus.

As a parent, we find that our children often try to emulate the parents. So it’s not a surprise to see your kids making the same torturous mistakes and missteps you made. It’s all a part of growing up. For the children, AND the parents! But, besides love, parents really GIVE their kids one thing: a name. Please parents, for goodness sake, don’t mess this up!

To a certain extent, remember, we have all become members in one large extended family. And today we celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus.