Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stop Believing in Miracles and Start Counting on Them

(Editor's Note: A couple of years ago published a true story of help offered and received in an anonymous situation. A "random act of kindness" so to speak. It was entitled "Prayer for a very pretty lady at ARCO". A comment to that story was sent to It is from the brother of our Theology Editor, Paul Dion, STL.)

Shared by Paul Dion, STL

Denis Dion (French spelling) is the author and editor-in-chief of a daily email prayer/exhortation column entitled "Reef Lection." This is his story.

We invite our readers to reflect on Isaiah 49 (we print it in the story below) and read the true experience that Denis and his family had of being held in the hand of God. Then we ask that you forward his story to as many people as possible so they too could be blessed by Denis' faith story.

Finally, if you have your own personal stories of how God created miracles in your lives, post it as a comment below so it can be a testament to the world as to how God does play into the lives of everyday people like yourselves.

Thank you and God bless. Enjoy Denis' story.
- Paul Dion, STL

Stop Believing in Miracles and Start Counting on Them
By Denis Dion

In the Spring of 1982 I had been working for a radio station in the local area for 17 years. I had an agreement with the owner that I would get$25.00 each time I did the play-by-play of a sporting event that took place outside of my regular working hours.

This one time a basketball game went into overtime and beyond my working hours. I put in for my "talent fee" and the new manager refused to pay me. It was a Friday and I came home and told Anna May (my wife) what had transpired. She wanted me to stand up to them since they had been using me for years.

So we prayed on it that weekend, and the Spirit guided the entire situation. On Monday, I went to the owner and he said he'd have to talk with the manager to get his side of the story. The manager got upset that I had gone over his head and told me there was no way I was getting the $25.00. I told him that as of that moment my fee was $75.00. Their response to that was to fire me.

When I went to the Unemployment office they had to interview me since I had been terminated. Then they had to interview the man who fired me. I won the case but this took about five weeks to play out.

Now, Anna May and I had started a savings account so that we might be able to get to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary. To that point we had saved $450.00. Anna May was only working about 10 hours a week for a struggling new attorney so she wasn't earning hardly anything and our 5 children were all teenagers, from 13 to 19. I don't have to tell you, that $450.00 didn't last very long.

After the 4th week I mentioned to Anna May my doubts about whether or not we had heard the Spirit correctly in responding to our prayer when someone slipped an envelope through our mail slot.

There was a $300.00 Teller's Check in a card with a tiny picture in the bottom left hand corner of the card. The picture was that of a person standing in the palm of a hand. Beneath the picture was simply marked "Isiaiah 49."

I wasn't familiar with the verse then, but I sure am now. "Does a mother forget her child in the womb? Even if she should forget, I will not forget you my child. I have you in the palm of my hand."

We took that $300.00 and bought a quarter side of beef and other foods. I brought it home and Anna May got to work cooking up all sorts of meals, spaghetti sauces, lasagna, chili, stroganoff, stews etc.

At one point I came into the kitchen and here she was in the middle of it all crying like a fool. When I asked what was wrong she told me about one of her friends whose husband had just walked out on her and her five kids, the same age as ours, and how she was left with nothing.

She sent me to get the biggest box I could find and loaded it up with a stack of these meals in tinfoil containers. Then we sent our son to drop them off at her brother's house with a note instructing him whom these meals were for.

And that was the beginning of a long experience of what it feels to live in the palm of God's hand.

The following week I found out I had won my case at Unemployment. The check I received was less than half of my former take-home pay, but at least it was something. We never changed our life style.

A few weeks later we took $50.00 of our mortgage money to buy meats for a sister-in-law who was injured on the job and needed the food for her son's wedding. We bought the meat and prepared the platters. Following the ceremony we came back to the house to pick up the platters and found another envelope on the floor under our mail slot with $50.00 cash in it.

Again, no name.

I was over 40 and over-qualified so no one wanted to hire me and as my unemployment dragged on, it became quite evident that God definitely was carrying us in the palm of his hand.

Anna May handles the budget and she would sit at the table on Fridays and shake her head. She'd say to me, 'Well, all our bills are paid, but I don't know what we're going to do nextweek." And then the following Friday, it would be the same story. "We're ok for this week, but I don't know how we'll get by next week."

Week after week for a year and half this went on. Sometimes money would just come through the mail slot, other times either Anna May or me would find extra work that came out of nowhere.

We never added up all the money that came through that mail slot, but I'm certain it was over $1,000.00. It was one miracle after another.

We stopped believing in miracles and began to depend on them.

It was truly a beautiful time in our lives. We were closer to God then than ever before. He provided what we needed, nothing more, nothing less, faithfully.

Besides all the material needs He provided, the greatest gift was the strengthening of our Faith and the loving memories of being carried in His arms. Many were the times during that year and a half that I remembered a key moment in my life.

When I was 17, in a seminary on Easter Sunday morning, I was listening to a piece of music entitled "The Risen Christ" being played by the music director before Mass. The music took me to the Tomb and I realized that the tremendous sacrifice Jesus paid for my sins and the miracle of His rising from the tomb saved me.

What I said to Him was; "I may not become a priest, but I will always believe in you."

That was not from my head and not from my heart but from the soul that accepted the Christ that had saved it.

Working for Jesus always came easily to me since I didn't have to worry about the salary. I had already been paid.

Thus, after leaving the Seminary (High School level) I got into broadcasting and worked for local radio stations for 25 years and for a local TV station for 21 years. Announcing and copy writing were my forte and I carried these gifts over to ministry in the Church. For a few years I volunteered as the announcer for "Crossroads" a weekly radio program produced by the Passionist Fathers and distributed around the world.

A few years after my marriage to a very Faith-filled woman, Anna May, we both became very involved in ministry to mentally handicapped children and adults through a diocesan bureau for Exceptional Children and Adults. We have a daughter with special needs, so this was a natural for us. Then came ten years of involvement in Marriage Encounter at the Passionist Retreat House in West Springfield.

Just when Anna May and I decided to start saying "no" and back off a bit my pastor asked me to start up RCIA in our parish. That lasted 20 years.

When I retired from the TV station I started the "Reef Lection" series.

My involvement in my Parish has also grown. I now bring Communion to the homebound once a week and every third week I conduct the Communion Service on the Pastor's day off. And for the last two years I have been the parish chairman for the Retreats at the Passionist Retreat center in West Hartford, CT.

The miracles have never stopped. We still live in the Palm of His Hand.

I pray that you and everyone you know also learn to live in the palm of His Hand. Please feel free to share my story with everyone you know. May they too be touched by God's Hand.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The pre-eminent college drinking song of all time. The authorities of the Roman Catholic university in Germany where it was composed by a Dominican monk were not amused. He lost his job. But the spirit of his song remains after more than 225 years.

Would you have fired him? Why? He wrote in Latin, didn't he?
You can sing this at my funeral. Don't you just love that bright red classic Caddy hearse? How can you cry for a guy whose riding in style like that?

Gaudeamus igitur
Juvenes dum sumus
Post jucundum juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

Ubi sunt qui ante nos
In mundo fuere?
Vadite ad superos
Transite in infernos
Hos si vis videre.

Vita nostra brevis est
Brevi finietur.
Venit mors velociter
Rapit nos atrociter
Nemini parcetur.

Vivat academia
Vivant professores
Vivat membrum quodlibet
Vivat membra quaelibet
Semper sint in flore.

Vivant omnes virgines
Faciles, formosae.
Vivant et mulieres
Tenerae amabiles
Bonae laboriosae.

Vivant et republica
et qui illam regit.
Vivat nostra civitas,
Maecenatum caritas
Quae nos hic protegit.

Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores.
Pereat diabolus,
Quivis antiburschius
Atque irrisores.

(vers. C. W. Kindeleben 1781)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Sm 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23

"In those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph with three thousand picked men of Israel,
'to search for David in the desert of Ziph. So David and Abishai went among Saul’s soldiers by 'night and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade, with his spear thrust into the ground at 'his head and Abner and his men sleeping around him.

'Abishai whispered to David: “God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day.
'Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!”
'But David said to Abishai, “Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the LORD’s anointed 'and remain unpunished?”

'So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul’s head, and they got away 'without anyone’s seeing or knowing or awakening. All remained asleep, because the LORD had 'put them into a deep slumber.

'Going across to an opposite slope, David stood on a remote hilltop at a great distance from 'Abner, son of Ner, and the troops. He said: “Here is the king’s spear. Let an attendant come 'over to get it. The LORD will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness. Today, though 'the LORD delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the LORD’S anointed.”
Responsorial Psalm

Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-1

R. (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Reading II
1 Cor 15:45-49

Brothers and sisters:
It is written, The first man, Adam, became a living being, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Lk 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who 'hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who 'strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your 'cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one 'who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to 'you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those 'who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? 'Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, 'what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
'But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then 'your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to 'the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
'Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
'Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed 'together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with 'which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”


These lines from the Sacred Scripture are going to be read in every Catholic church around the world this Sunday. The great King David, ancestor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had his arch enemy "dead to rights". There he was, sleeping, out cold and Abishai, David's "hit man" begs David to "let me nail him to the ground" with one swift, powerful stroke. "I will not need two strokes."

David says, "Do not touch him. Who can lay hands on the Lord's anointed and remain unpunished?"

Brothers and sisters, does that sound like a 21st century American? Does this sound like something that someone would say 2,800 years ago? Doesn't this make you proud to be a son or daughter of the great line of David and Jesus? Doesn't it make Jesus' word through Luke so much more powerful? By the time Jesus was saying these wonderful things, David had died some 800 years before. It had been about 2,800 years since God had pinned Cain down and
said, "Abel's blood cries out to me from the earth."

We are covered from head to foot with the challenge of God's eternal love. Our relationship with God is not only 17, 28, 45, 70 or 85 years old. We are living the life of God through our baptism from all eternity, and for all eternity. Lord, Jesus, keep our minds and our hearts open to your divine life. You truly are the one who keeps the fire of divine Love burning in our hearts.

This is our call. If we answer it and live it faithfully we will have not one single good reason to cry at one another's funeral.

Saturday, February 10, 2007



Redemptionis Sacramentum
April, 2004

On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided
regarding the Most Holy Eucharist

[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.


"Why would it be at least as reverential as kneeling to stand during the act of receiving communion? Give some reasons why standing is a proper posture for adoration and sacramental participation."

The interesting thing about us Catholics is that we have a tendency to get wrapped up in the small stuff and forget the 12 articles of the Apostles Creed!
We somehow enjoy picking the neck bones clean more readily than we regale ourselves with the nice tender fillet. Because we are a ritualistic, liturgical community, we find it easy and even appealing to make sure that all the detals fall into place. In our desire to accomplish perfection in the religious details that clutter our brains and our hearts, we fall into some rather humorus contradictory behaviors. The Burning Question of the week is one that causes some of these anomalies to strike those of us with a sense of humor.

Some of us insist on receiving communion kneeling. So we kneel for communion under the species of bread, then we move on and receive communion under the species of wine in the standing position. Strange isn't it that we should treat the same Sacred Reality two different ways in the space of a few seconds?

What about the altar servers and ministers who bow or genuflect when the are crossing the line of sight of the tabernacle (even diagonally) when they are facing it, but omit the reverence gesture when they are walking in a direction generally away from it?

Have you ever asked yourself why someone would genuflect immediately after receiving the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, before walking away from the immediate area of communion?

Have you ever asked yourself why the priest doesn't genuflect every time he crosses the direct line of sight of the tabernacle? Does he know something that we don't?

I don't know how many of you cruise the Internet to satisfy your thirst for religious information. I can tell you that I spend a lot of time on the religious area of the Internet. It is so crammed with Catholics asking , commenting , discussing , arguing and opining about the small stuff, like this question, while the essentials stay locked in the closet. We here at strive to rescue the faithful from this purgatory of devotional detail and aim to elucidate the true Catholic Life Style to the world. Therefore, our exposé about why standing for communion is a very reverential posture.

The reason why the Church has included standing as a reverential posture is because that is what it is in many countries of the world. It is also a posture of maturity and and indicates acceptance of such by the leaders of the community. Standing is the equivalent of the coming-of-age privilege that is given to young people who are admitted to the main table for dinner. Standing is therefore the posture of the believer who has been fully initiaited into the
community of the Catholic Faithful, the People if the New Covenant, the Subjects in the Kingdom of God, the Ambassadors of the Good News and the Participants in the Offering of the Lamb of God. Yes, standing is the posture of the Priests, Prophets and Kings of the New Terstament, the Baptized Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, such As we.

The Apostles Creed says, "I believe in the Communion of Saints...Life everlasting..." We say that because we are Baptized; we are the temples of God, We are His Prophets, his Kings and His Priests. Of what good are we on our knees? It's like trying to keep our nose to the grindstone, our ear to the ground and our eye on the horizon all at once. Once we're in that position, how do we get anything done?

Kneeling is a sign of abject dependence. It is a sign of a loss of freedom and self-determination. It was demanded of the sharecroppers by the feudal lords who forgot that human beings are blessed with freedom by their creator. Think about it, would the People of God have prospered for these thousands of years if they spent their time on their knees? Look at what Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Isaiah, Judith, Ruth, David, Daniel, the Maccabee Boys, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, James and John, Ignatius, Chrystostom, Francis and Mother Theresa and Maximillian Kolbe did. They didn't do that on their knees. Do you think that Moses was kneeling down when he was arguing with Yahweh? Do you think that Sarah was kneeling down when she
laughed at being able to bear a child at her age? Do you think that Jonah was kneeling down when he was yelling at Yahweh on the beach of Nineveh?

Finally, the disciples were not kneeling when they were told "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6;54) You know that they were standing because many of them walked away. The commissioning of the apostles in Matthew 28 had to be given to people at the ready, not to people on their knees.

Jesus conquered sin by his life, death and resurrection. We are called to do the same. We, as His disciples are called to conquer actual, post resurrection sin in ourselves and in the world by our life, death and eventual resurrection. By giving us the suggestion that we communicate with the True Presence of our Lord and Master on our feet, humbly ready and willing to go forth and exercise our discipleship, by following His mandate, the Church is telling us where Her mind is on this matter. To defy the well communicated mind of the Church as mandated by the national conference of bishops, based at least in part on the theology elucidated above is to place oneself above the teaching office of the ordained hierarchy. Since the charism of teaching is a sacramental grace of the Ordination to the office of Bishop, I leave it up to you to decide whether or not it is sinful to defy the decrees of an entire national college of bishops.

This is not a trivial detail.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007



We asked this question last week and not too many people were willing to jump into the fray, It is for this reason that we are making the following statements. We think that this is an important question. This is one of the questions that is "ahead of the curve" and thinks that it is important to communicate the church's position to you ahout it.
The foundation for the immorality of human cloning rests on the following principles:

1. The process of human cloning attacks the dignity of human procreation. .
2. The process of human cloning is an affront to the dignity of individuality.

Let's consider the reason given in number 1.

Methods of reproduction that result in offspring apart from the acts of marital union because they dissociate the ends of marriage. In vitro fertilization departs from from God's plan for human reproduction because it dispenses with the act of marital union. Cloning goes further than this as it doesn't involve the use of human male and female gametes. Because of this, the relationship between human male and female are not included. Father and Mother relationships are not included in the generation of the clone. This is therefore an exclusion of the relationship of filiation, consanguinity and of course, parenthood. Which mother would want to be the twin sister of her child?

What about the dignity of the individual stated in number 2?

what if you had to go around asking, "Who is my Mother" and could never find the identifying DNA? Every person has the god-Given right to be an individual for all eternity. The Adjective used for thid individuality is "ineffable." This eans that it is never able to be replicated. What if you got to heaven and found out that you had a complete identity with your father? Worse, how about having to stand in line behind five other souls?

Further, why would you want cloning?

You would not want to be cloned in order to create another human for the greater glory of God. You would want to be cloned so that you and your biological, naturally generated offspring would have a "bank" of compatible genetic material to replace organs that might be needed to save the life of Mom or Dad or Johnny in case of an accident. It would be nice to have another heart around, just in case. It would also be nice to be able to recreate sweet Betty who died so young. Now we can have her around and enjoy her just like we would have enjoyed Betty [1]. This is immoral because it is not life for the greater glory of God by for the joy and comfort of a self-centered human being.

Finally, cloning for "spare parts"?

No way! That is the ultimate insult to God. I need this extra being because I want to prolong my life. Since this being is not a fruit of my love but a scientific construct, I have the right to use the spare parts to make me live longer to enjoy my grandchildren, etc.
It is immoral to separate the procreative and unitive meanings of human reproduction.
Please stay informed about these matters.

I am who I am and only who I am...

I was never cloned and will never be. My individuality is eternal, just as God wants it to be. There will never be another me. I staked my claim to ME a long time ago. When I die, I will still be ME and no one else will ever be ME. Don't cry about that when you look into my coffin. If you do, my clone will scold you and your clone will have to come to your rescue. Then there wuill be tears all over he place. We can't let that happen.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Journey of Thanksgiving

Learn Daily; Live Holy; Love Deeply
Journey of Thanksgiving
Adult Faith Formation Week
St. Christopher Parish
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
January 29, 2007 through February 2, 2007

The week started with a bible study about the meaning of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the founding of St.
Christopher Parish and ended with an intensely spiritual meeting of the parishioners with Bishop Del Riego, auxiliary
Bishop of San Bernardino. How intense was it? Let’s just say that the bishop outlasted his K of C bodyguards.

The second annual Adult Faith Formation Week was a success. It had a different character than the one held last year. There were fewer participants this year, by about 10%. There were about the same number of workshops in the evenings. There were more and better scheduled workshops in the morning. This event was also remarkable by the very conspicuous absence of the need for baby-sitting. The adults who came, came to listen and to participate at a meaningful level.

This event was marked by the added presence of clergy presenters. Five priests from around the diocese, including one from the Diocesan Office itself made a deep impression on the audience. There were also three sessions presided by nuns, all of which were very well received. All in all it is estimated that close to 500+ individuals were touched by the event.

The crowning glory was the closing celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. His Excellency Bishop Del Riego presided and taught, in English and in Spanish before a crowd of some two to three hundred faithful. The key was that we never stop growing in faith and service to God. We are simultaneously called and sent by God. You could have heard a pin drop as he spoke.
After Holy Communion two special activities took place. The meditation Hymn was danced by a young girl in Hawaiian fashion. When the meditation ended, she went to the Bishop’s chair and adorned his shoulders with a lei of fresh flowers. His smile lit the church up and the applause was raucous and sincere. He then blessed the commitment bracelets that are to serve as a sign of unity in the Journey of Thanksgiving (Leviticus 25) towards the 50th anniversary of the foundation of St. Christopher parish. These were then distributed to all the participants after Father Romy slipped his on and invited everyone to join him along the way to the October celebration. This was followed by the blessing of icons and statues of the Child Jesus, candles and many other articles of prayer and meditation. The Bishop was surrounded by the flock, cheering, begging for blessing, touching his garments, shaking his hand, kissing his ring and generally claiming ownership of him for the next couple of hours. Thanks be to God that the
night was balmy and dry.

It was a glorious week when God and His people came together in the spirit of love. Other glorious weeks are on the way. There is an 8 week course on the sacraments that is being prepared as this goes to press. It is scheduled to begin in August of this year. It will be well advertised and be in the Parish Bulletin and in the for all to see in plenty of time for you to make plans to attend. Stay tuned.

It is important for all of us to stay dialed-in to God’s action in us. We do that by listening to teachers as often as we can. We do that by participating actively in the listening portion of every Holy Mass when we hear the Scripture readings and the comments thereafter by the priest. Let me guarantee you that if you stay close to the teachings of God through His Church, you will know why I don’t expect anyone to cry at my funeral.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


When's the last time you were the object of a random act of kindness? Did you get a chance to thank the person? If you did, you're lucky. There's nothing worse than getting petted by the wings of an angel and not being able to express your gratitude for the great feeling that it gives.

Last night, 2/2/2007 at about 9:05 PM I stopped at the ARCO station on Day Street before jumping on to the 60 WEST heading for LAX. I have a debit card with +$600 and a credit card with Fort Knox on it. Wife goes to the snack shop for a couple of hot dogs and drinks and she's carrying my only cash, one well used, totally wrinkled picture of Andrew Jackson. On the island outside I swipe one, "Denied". Swipe two, "Denied". I run into the store and luckily I'm the only one in line. I figure something's wrong on the island. I give one to the cashier, "swipte, swipe, denied". There's a line forming, but I'm really getting curly hair on the back of my neck now. I reach for card number two, slide it into the cashier's hand and watch while he "swipes, swipes, DENIED!" Now the line is four deep and wife is at my left elbow with the eats and the Jackson. I'm sweating, and I'm growling inside, not knowing what kind of astrologically, star-crossed conspiracy has descended upon me. Is ARCO ganging up on me?

At my right elbow, I feel a warmth. A gentle, swishing kind of presence. As the dogs and the drinks and the $20 all land on the counter at the same time, a very firm, commanding but extremely smooth voice says, "cover it with this." I turn to see golden hair, well brushed and aromatic. Sweet smooth cheeks with a slight flush, bright blue eyes with a deep gentleness and a smile that could light the Taj Mahal. In her hand, a simple Master Card, outstretched to the cashier. I settle my eyes into hers, give her a wan smile and gently but firmly say, "you are so kind, but we will be fine with the Jackson. Please, Ma'am, it's OK. " The warm presence hesitates, doesn't retract the card right away, insisting that she meant what she said. I smile lightly, wink at her and say softly, "we're OK, Ma'am." She retracts her arm, and returns to her place at the end of the line. I tell the cashier that the cash is for the eats and gas on number 7. He says OK, and punches it into the computer. My only money disappears. I turn to leave and I slide my gaze over to the Golden Haired Angel. I have a golf ball in my throat and a fog in my eyes, so with a weak smile and a lip-sync "thank you" accompanied by a wink, I leave and go to the pump to get what gas I got for my change from the 20. I quickly squirt the gas into the tank and leave for LAX. I thank God for my 50 MPG Hybrid. Wife and I are silent from emotion for the first forty-five minutes of the trip. We then pray the rosary, making the Golden Haired Angel the object of our offerings.

I don't know who you are, Lady. But God knows. I don't know if you even believe in God. What I do know is that two old people with credit cards that were the victims of an equipment malfunction told God to hold you close to Him, forever.

By the way, we didn't have enough money for parking, and the plane was late, so I drove around in circles for one hour before picking up our passenger and leaving LAX. We returned home on the strength of hybrid engineering, 62 Mile Per Hour cruise controlled speed, gas tank fumes and on the spirit of your spontaneous, generous act.

If the world had more people like you, there would be a lot less crying at funerals because we would all be sure that another angel had taken God's hand and walked home with Him.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


By Paul Dion, STL

I am here to tell you that is is not easy being Catholic. Here I am in the middle of bringing a presentation to 50 catechists in our parish to life when my telephone rings. The editor of this illustrious "Catholic Lifestyle Magazine" cheerily asks, "What does capax veritatis, capax Dei mean?" Huh?

I have to admit that I had to ask his indulgence while I conducted a 30 second search on "Google". I have to confess, I pride myself on knowing my unknowns. I get back to him in 45 seconds, we talk about it and during the conversation he asks, "Do you know what the Gospel for Sunday is?" GULP! NOPE...

I can see the Cheshire Cat grin over the telephone. It's about the miraculous catch. Oh...
Yeah, you're right, I am quite a blessing to you, right? OOOOpppsss!!

LUKE, 5; 1 - 11

So I came back to the desk and decided to give the story a second look. It was there just as it always is. And there are the apostles in their fishing boats coming off a night's work with empty boats. "Skunked!" Not a thing! They raise their heads from their work and there is their new friend, Jesus, the Temple guy with the pretty mother and the carpenter father whom they have yet to figure out. But he is quite a preacher. He was run out of town last week. He sure knows his Bible, this guy. Not only that, He's not afraid to sock it to 'em. Here He is again with a bunch of people following Him again. Strange how first they run Him off and then they come back asking for more.
"Hi, guys. Would you mind if I came aboard Simon's boat so that I could talk to these folks?"
No, no. Make yourself comfortable. There sure isn't any fish residue and smell around these boats this morning.
So Jesus talks to the people for a while. They shuffle off and He is alone with the guys.
"Simon", says he, "bring your boats out a little further, just over there a bit and throw your nets over the side and prepare for a good catch."
Now, folks, picture this. They have just recently come to know this man. All he knows about fish is that it swims in water and is edible. They are successful pros at this game and they have just come off a hard night's work with nothing to show for it. Not even breakfast. And now this carpenter who is perhaps better at prayer than at construction is telling them what to do. Simon speaks out, as usual and says, "We've worked all night and we have caught nothing." That's the polite, Bible version.
Jesus, all freshly primped for a new day, bathed and combed and ready for the world must have this look in his eyes because ol' Simon continues by saying, "...but, at your command, I will lower the nets."
The rest, as they say, is history. The catch is so great that they have a hard time bringing it in.
Simon says, " Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man."
Jesus says, "Don't be afraid. From now on you will catch men."
Then, Simon and the sons of Zebedee left their nets and their boats behind and followed Him.

Isaiah, 6; 1 - 8 The first reading

The story of the call of Isaiah is rather similar. Isaiah is praying in the Temple. He has a vision of God surrounded by angels. He shudders and says, "I am doomed for I am a man of unclean lips." (I like this line. It reminds of me of myself. Dirty mouth!)
One of the angels takes a hot coal and puts it on Isaiah's lips and says, "now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed and your sin is purged." God then asks, "Whom shall we send? Who will speak for us?" Isaiah, full of grace now says, "Here I am. Send me!"

I read this and I can't help but think of Saul of Damascus who gets thrown off his horse and flat on his bum by God before he sees the light. This morning we hear Paul (Saul's God-given name) say to the Corinthians, "Last of all, as to one born abnormally, He appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am and His grace to me has not been ineffective."
(I Cor.; 8 - 10)

Through these writings today, God calls all of us. He tells us that we are all a part of his plan. He counts on us to spread the word. He counts on us to tell the Divine Truth. All three of these characters in the Bible readings to day were sinners, just as we are. All three of them responded to the gift of faith and to the gift of mission.

Let's look at our lives and see how many times we have wondered if the "Carpenter" has any business to tell us, Mr. Engineer, Mr. Accountant, Mrs. Doctor, Mom, etc. what to do. We fussed a bit and finally caved in saying, "What do I have to lose?" Lo, and behold, there came along benefits that we had a hard time imagining. The three Bible stories we have just read are all about the same challenge that God directs to us. Three people leave their normal lives behind in response to the gift of faith. Life with God is not easy. The demands are really far out.

Think about it. Shepherds leaving 99 behind for one stupid loner? The second son comes home and the father throws him and the whole village a party? Crooked tax payers paying back ill gotten gains four times over? Sell all that you own and follow me?

Hey, this Gospel language is not new stuff. God's been saying it for centuries. Recall the story of Father. Abraham, "do what I say and you'll have descendants more than the stars of the sky." Abraham says, "Excuse me, I'm 99 years old. How is that going to happen?" "Noah, build an ark." "Moses, take my people out of here." "Judith, take off your mourning and go into the enemy camp to save your city. " "God, if you give me a son I'll give him back to you forever. " (Yahweh gave her her son, and Hannah gave him back to Yahweh, no strings attached, for life.) His name? Samuel, King David's grandfather.

So, we have to look inside ourselves. We have to leave our boats and our nets. We have to leave our intellectual smugness. It's not easy, but we have to hold out our hand, offer it to Jesus and walk with Him, keeping the immortal words of the apostle Thomas in mind, "Boys, if He says that we are going to Jerusalem, we go to Jerusalem with Him, to die with Him." (John, 11;16)

That is the challenge that people all over the world faced in today's Bible readings.

Are we up to it?