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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Introduction to Lamentations[1]

This book of the Bible is a series of poems all about the destruction of Jerusalem. Around 587 BCE, the Babylonian Empire rolls into Judah, burns the capital city to the ground, destroys Solomon's Temple, and exiles about a quarter of the city's population. This was a traumatic event on a national scale, right up there with slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people are left to pick up the pieces and wonder "why?" Why did this happen to them? Why wasn't God on their side? Why would he allow a bunch of other-god-worshipping foreigners to invade his holy city? And, why, oh, why did he make Babylon so far away from Jerusalem? The author of Lamentations doesn't have an easy job. He needs to answer this question so the people can move forward and start their lives again. The author decides that it's not the Babylonians or God who's to blame for this terrible destruction—it's the Jewish people themselves. They sinned and disobeyed God. He'd warned them in Deuteronomy what to expect when you don't pay attention to God's commandments. Blaming the victim might not have been the most politically correct thing to do, but it worked. The Jewish people were able to regroup from this crisis and come out strong and thriving. And after about 50 years in exile, the Persian Empire came along and crushed the Babylonians to bits. The Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the Temple and nothing bad ever happened to God's chosen people ever again. 
Lamentations is an age-old book that tries to answer age-old questions—why do bad things happen? How do you cope with tragedy? How can you express your suffering to God and to other people?

Why Should I Care?

There's suffering (no cell reception, breakups) and there's suffering (invasion, mass destruction, death by starvation, exile). Some suffering is avoidable, and some isn't. No matter. Everyone suffers at some time or another. We're all inconsolable at times about tragedies great and small. The question is what can you do about it? Lamentations offers some helpful suggestions. The first is: Lament. And keep lamenting. Sometimes, it just feels good to get those feelings out. So start with the tears, sad movies, or sackcloth and ashes—whatever works. Second suggestion: once you've cried it out, use your suffering as an opportunity for reflection. Think about what got you to this place. Why did it happen? Was it something you did? If you've cried and reflected, and decided you brought all this bad stuff on yourself (like the poet believes Jerusalem did) Lamentations strongly recommends reconciliation. Ask for forgiveness. Beg for a second chance.  AND accept the fact that you may have permanently ruined the relationship. Lament some more about that. If you're suffering for no fault of your own, Lamentations still has something good to offer: the possibility of change. Things will get better even if it sure doesn't seem that way at the moment. Think about how things were better before your tragedy and have confidence that they can be that way again. Corny? Kind of. But it can help put things in perspective. Finally, you can talk about your suffering because we suffer together. The last chapter of Lamentations is a communal prayer to end suffering. Why do we publicly commemorate suffering like 9/11 or the Holocaust? Instead of forgetting about the bad times, we hold onto them to remind ourselves why they happened and how far we've come. The ancient Jews who watched Jerusalem burn had just experienced a national tragedy and they dealt with it the only way they could. They cried together, they told stories, they tried to understand, and they didn't forget. Sounds to us like a pretty good blueprint for coping. Some things never get old.

MAY 17 Sixth Sunday after Easter

You drew near on the day I called you; you said, “Do not FEAR!”

This chapter[2] is focused less on the destruction of Jerusalem and more on the suffering of an individual. The identity of the individual is never given. The figure of the sufferer makes concrete the pain of the people and gives way to a communal voice to suffering.

Trials and Tribulations[3]

·         The Poet has seen all this awful stuff with his own eyes. He's personally experienced it, too. We sense he's speaking on behalf of all Judah.

·         Trust us. The Poet knows what God's wrath is. God has abandoned him in times of trouble and left him to find his way out in the dark.  God has also filled the Poet's heart with bitterness and then trapped him there like a prisoner.

·         The Poet cried out for God to help him, but the Big Guy wouldn't listen. God ignored his prayer requests and returned all his fan mail, too. Stone cold.

·         God was like a lion pacing outside of the Poet's prison cell. He was just waiting to tear the Poet to pieces as soon as he stuck his head out. Or maybe he was like an archer just itching to use the Poet as target practice. The poor Poet! Poor Jerusalem!

Keeping the Faith

·         But even in all this misery and horribleness, the Poet doesn't lose heart. Really? Yup. He just remembers one really important thing—God can't stay mad at him forever. That's right. God is loving. God is merciful. So, at some point he's gonna have to come around and start helping the Poet again, right? Every morning the Poet wakes up is a chance for him to renew his relationship with God. If he has patience, God will be good to him in the end.

·         And if in the meantime God asks him to go through a couple of trials (like watching his city be destroyed, his friends and family murdered, and his children starve to death) then he'll deal with it. Sure, God causes all kinds of trouble for people, but he's also compassionate.

·         And in any case, it's not like God enjoys making all this bad stuff happen. His heart's just not in it. When there's evil stuff happening in the world—God sees it and takes copious notes for later. But no one can do anything—good or bad—unless God says it's okay. Everything comes from God. You can't complain when God is just giving you what you deserve, right?

·         That's why the people of Judah need to take a good look at themselves and return to God. They were sinful and disobedient, so he got angry and destroyed them. He ignored their prayers, left them for dead, and watched as their enemies crushed them. Note: this is not an overreaction. Judah's enemies have hunted him down and captured him for no good reason. But luckily, when he complained to God about it, God heard him.

·         God told the Poet not to be afraid. He said he would help him and make things better. Now, all the Poet wants is for God to right the wrongs that have been done to him. God saw all the horrible things these enemies have done. Now, all he has to do is smite the heck out of them. It's payback time, God. Get angry. Curse them. Destroy the Poet's enemies because they've done so many awful things. Come on. You know you want to. They never were your special people.


Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through famine.” (Ps. 33:18-19)

Everyone deserves to experience some unconditional love, and many go to great lengths to find it and do not. We were created for love but not earthly love. Earthly love is but a foretaste of the love God has for you. Today love someone with no conditions; just love them. For love alone holds the secret to life. There is hope in the midst of calamity.

"To love someone is to desire that person's good, AND to take effective steps to secure it"- Benedict XVI'

Sixth Sunday after Easter[5]

THIS Sunday is a preparation for the feast of Pentecost. At the Introit of the Mass, the Church sings: “Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to Thee, alleluia. My heart hath said to Thee, I have sought Thy face; Thy face, Lord, will I seek; turn not away Thy face from me, alleluia, alleluia. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall, I fear?

Prayer. O almighty and everlasting God grant us ever to entertain a devout affection towards Thee, and to serve Thy majesty with a sincere heart.

EPISTLE, i. Peter iv. 7-11.

Dearly Beloved: Be prudent, and watch in prayers. But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves; for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Using hospitality one towards another without murmuring. As every man hath received grace, ministering the same to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speaks, let him speak as the words of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the power which God administereth: that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Practice. The virtues here recommended are excellent preparatives for receiving the Holy Ghost, for nothing makes us more worthy of His grace than temperance, prayer, charity, unity, and hospitality towards our neighbors. Endeavor, therefore, to exercise these virtues, and every day during the following week pray fervently to the Holy Ghost for help in your endeavors.

GOSPEL. John xv. 26, 27; xvi. 1-4.

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: When the Paraclete cometh Whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me: and you shall give testimony, because you are with Me from the beginning. These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalized. They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth a service to God. And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you.

What kind of sin is scandal? It is a frightful sin. By it countless sins are occasioned, thousands of souls are carried to perdition, while the loving design of God for the salvation of men is frustrated.
How, in general, is scandal given? By saying, doing, neglecting to do something which becomes the occasion of sin to another.

When do parents give scandal? When they set a bad example to their children. When they do not correct them for doing wrong, or neglect to keep them from what is bad and to teach them that which is good.

How do employers give scandal? In much the same way that parents give scandal to their children: when, by bad example or by command, they keep their servants or other employees from divine service, or neglect to make them attend it. When they themselves use, or give to others, flesh-meat on days of abstinence. When they order the commission of sin.

Rogation Sunday

It is only a few weeks since Good Friday when we commemorated the agonizing death of Christ on Mount Calvary. This was an excruciating, shameful death even for hardened criminals who deserved it. But for our loving Savior, the innocent lamb of God, one who had never offended God or neighbor, it was something of which the whole human race should be ashamed forever. What caused Christ that torment and death on the cross was our sins, the sins of all mankind and not the spite and hatred of his Jewish opponents, who were only instruments in the tragedy. Atonement had to be made to God for the sins of the world, so that men could reach the eternal inheritance which the incarnation made available to them. However, not all the acts of the entire human race could make a sufficient atonement to God. A sacrifice, an expiation of infinite value was needed. The death of the Son of God in his human nature was alone capable of making such an expiation. That Christ willingly accepted crucifixion for our sakes, that he gave the greatest proof of love which the world has ever known, by laying down his life for his friends, did not make his sufferings any less, did not ease any of the pains of Calvary. His agony in the Garden before his arrest shows this: he foresaw all the tortures and pains which he was to undergo and sweated blood at the thought of what awaited him. But he was to keep his Father's commandment "not my will but thine be done." We Christians must have hearts of stone, hearts devoid of all sense of gratitude, when we forget what Christ has done for us and deliberately offend him! Alas, this is what all of us do sometimes, and many of us do all the time. Christ died to bring us to heaven, but we tell him, by our sins, that he was wasting his time. We do not want to go to heaven, we are making our happiness here! How far can human ingratitude and thanklessness go?

Christ told us, through the disciples on Holy Thursday night, that he had made us his friends, his intimates. We are no longer servants in the household, who merely earn their daily wage and have no intimacy with the family and no hope of ever sharing in the family possessions. Instead, we have been adopted into the family by Christ becoming man, we have been guaranteed all the rights of children intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the future sharing in the eternal happiness of that divine household. Christ's incarnation made us God's children, Christ's death on the cross removed sin. Sin is the one obstacle that could prevent us reaching our eternal inheritance. Because God gave us a free will we can in a moment of folly, a moment of madness really, deprive ourselves of the privileges and possessions which Christ has made available to us. We can choose to exchange an eternity of happiness for a few fleeting years of self-indulgence on earth. We can fling Christ's gift of love back in his face and tell him we don't want it. God forbid that we should ever act like this, that we should ever forget God's purpose in creating us. It is a marvelous thing to be alive, if we have hope in a future life. If nothing awaited us but the grave, then to live on this earth, which is a valley of sorrow and tears for the vast majority, would be the cruelest of jests. But of this we need have no fear. Life on earth is but a short prelude to our real existence. If we use this brief period as Christ has told us how to use it, death for us will be the passage into the eternal mansions. Be grateful to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; love the Blessed Trinity; prove your love by loving your fellowmen. By doing this you are fulfilling the whole law and the prophets; and you are assuring yourself of the place in heaven which Christ has won for you.

Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

Memorial Day Build Up

Every day from now to Memorial Day I ask your prayers for each service and all of our defenders to include police and fire on Memorial Day.

US Army[6]

As priest-chaplains of the Archdiocese for the Military Services we invite you to join with us in prayer. In times of joy and difficulty, in times of fear and doubt, in moments of distress and in times of peace, a simple prayer that comes from the heart becomes the place of your encounter with God’s love, mercy and protection. So, take a few minutes to join in praying with us and for us as you remain in our daily prayers. We hope that these sample Catholic prayers will sustain and support you in your journey of faith as you serve the cause of peace, justice and freedom. Please send us your Prayer Petitions. Your petitions will be remembered by priest chaplains throughout the Archdiocese as well as during daily Mass offered at the Archdiocese for the Military Services, Washington, DC.

Prayer for Troops[7]

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters as they go forth with courage and determination to face the forces of violence, weapons of destruction and hearts filled with hate.


 For our President and Commander-In-Chief, and our political and military leaders that they may tirelessly seek peaceful settlements to international disputes; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light. 

That the Lord may preserve the members of our Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force from all harm; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light. 

That even in war, we may keep clearly before us the defense of all human rights, especially the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light.

That the families, relatives and friends of our military members may be strengthened in this time of concern and anxiety; we pray to the Lord:
Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light. 

That the Lord may help families with men and women in the armed forces to cope with daily challenges in the absence of their loved ones; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light. 

That our homeland will be preserved from violence and terrorism; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light.

That the nations of the world will seek to work together in harmony and peace; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light. 

That the hearts of all men and women will be moved to pursue true peace and justice; we pray to the Lord:
Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light.

That violence may be overcome by peace; that weapons of destruction be transformed into tools of justice, and hate give way to true charity; we pray to the Lord:

Through the Darkness Bring Us to the Light.

That we may be grateful for and inspired by those veterans who have given their lives for our country and that we may bravely face the challenges ahead; we pray to the Lord: 

Lord God, Almighty Father, creator of mankind and author of peace, as we are ever mindful of the cost paid for the liberty we possess, we ask you to bless the members of our armed forces. Give them courage, hope and strength. May they ever experience your firm support, gentle love and compassionate healing. Be their power and protector, leading them from darkness to light. To you be all glory, honor and praise, now and forever. Amen.

Real Men ask God what they should do[8]

The special need for more frequent Communion is on the part of the men and the older boys. No man can afford to "keep his religion in his wife's name." The man is by nature the head of the family, and the family usually ends up where he leads. He can't expect his family to continue to live a very vital Catholic life unless he sets the example. As an Army captain can't hole-up in some rear line trench and cry out, "Onward, Christian soldiers!” neither can the husband and father expect his wife and children to do much in the Church Militant if he is a non-combatant, "too proud to fight." An interesting evidence of the power of example of the adult male in encouraging devout religious practice was had in England during World War II. In a certain Catholic orphanage, the larger boys were refusing to obey the Sisters' directives to approach the Communion rail with folded hands. In the neighborhood of the orphanage was a GI camp whose soldiers soon became heroes to the orphan lads. One day a crowd of the GI's came to Mass in the orphanage and went to Communion, of course with hands devoutly folded as is done in our country. When the orphan boys saw Tex and Bill and Tom properly approaching the Communion rail, the troubles of the Sisters with the boys were over. "Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn in no other way."

Daily Devotions

·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Universal Man Plan
·         Rosary

The only thing that saved his men in IaDrang valley that day was his leadership and overwhelming firepower. He stood toe to toe with an enemy force 7 times his size and left no one behind. He learned from the French but did not repeat their mistakes. This is what true leading from the front looks like and unfortunately that kind of leadership is fast disappearing. He took a fresh untested unit and the y performed absolutely flawless