Patient readers, thank you for your patience during the recent stylistic modifications on this blog. I think I have settled upon the colors and fonts. You may call it "something old, something new, everything borrowed, nothing blue." (Save for the blue Google widget -->)
For any of you whose "brick and mortar" locations are close to Holy Guardian Angels Parish, here is a commercial for our annual Forty Hours Devotion. As the linked article explains in good detail, "Forty Hours" is a sacred moment for our parishioners and the larger community to renew our devotion to our Eucharistic Lord. He has made Himself available to us in this Sacrament as our true Food and Drink. Adoration increases our hunger to receive Him worthily and often. On Sunday, 29 September, Monday, 30 September, and Tuesday, 1 October, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed after Mass until 7pm each night, when we will offer Evening Prayer with Benediction. Fr. Eugene P. Ritz, Chaplain of Berks Catholic High School, will preach every evening. Please join us--if not in person at the evening services or anytime throughout the day for a Visit, then consider devoting a period of 15 minutes or more to silent prayer whenever you can.
If there’s one thing most of us love to give but hate to receive, it's advice. Very easily we of inflated ego may feel that others try to run our lives, or consider us incompetent. Maybe they do; but that’s not our problem. Our problem may be a difficulty with being open to new opinions, suggestions, or procedures. That’s an awful problem to have!
It was Israel’s problem, according to the prophet Amos. He paints a portrait of corporeal corporate types, "fat cats" fond of their own comfort. As a jazz fan, I don’t quite understand Amos’ problem with people “improvising to the music of the harp, devising their own accompaniment." I suppose the grand scene is what the sacred author wants to impress upon us: complacent comfort-seekers unfazed by the chaotic collapse of their land, the physical and moral distress of the people. There is an obvious parallel with the Gospel, in which an unnamed rich man was condemned for casually neglecting a poor man in his field of vision, and this despite warnings: if the warnings did not come from someone else, because there wasn’t a prophet around, then perhaps they came from within, if the rich man still had a working conscience. Not to have a well-formed conscience—or to have a well-formed conscience but not to act upon it—this is the earthly beginning of the eternal hell that Jesus describes, the torment from which He wants with all His Heart to deliver us!
In Pope Francis’ recent interview, he urged pastors and preachers to consider marriage and family matters in perspective. Along those lines, this weekend’s readings remind us not to ignore other Catholic social teachings, such as the solidarity or common friendship of all people—a bond solidified in Our Savior’s redemptive sacrifice on mankind’s behalf (cf. CCC 1939). This word first pertains to the leaders of a people, who are in the best position to notice and address human needs, even as they may have the greatest risk of losing touch and becoming oblivious to those needs. It applies all the more to religious and spiritual leaders in their responsibility to impart truth with love. But all people can become leaders in their own right by a steadfast pursuit of virtue, adherence to sound teaching, and prompt response to the concerns they encounter each day.
But a good leader needs a good cabinet; that brings us back to the first point about advice. The humility to seek and take good direction is paramount for the mature human being and follower of Christ. St. Timothy had St. Paul, and took Paul’s direction seriously. The rich man…well, remember he was a fictional character in a parable; but Jesus was really speaking to the Pharisees. Whom did they have? According to the parable, the Pharisees had their religious pedigree--Abraham, Moses, and the prophets--and we can presume that they weren’t paying too much attention to them. Whom do you have? A faithful Catholic draws from Sacred Scripture, the Church’s tradition and teaching authority, a well-formed conscience, and worthy relationships.
Above all, and through all, you and I have Jesus Himself. Let’s not forget that His grace enables our attempts and facilitates our successes. But He is infinitely more than a lecturer, a mentor or a coach: He is our Savior. United to Him, and attentive to His promptings to worship and service, we can assist others along the Way of salvation.