One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

September 23, 2006

For Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 8:4-15

The Church chooses to announce this parable at least three times a year at Mass.
Are we getting it?
In his parable, the Lord is telling us he has expectations of us.
He has planted a seed in each of us.
The seed is the Word of God.
There is another seed he plants together with his Word in us.
It is his Spirit.
He expects us to be “good soil”, freely receiving these seeds, and working actively so that they grow in us, flourish and bear fruit.
He expects us to yield profit thirty, sixty or even a hundred times over.
At the very least, honesty invites us to admit that God is looking for results.
He expects our lives to be fruitful for his kingdom.
In creating man, God did not make a merely earthen body.
He also made us spiritual.
Forming the human body from the soil of the earth, God breathes his own Spirit into it— the Spirit whom our faith calls “the Lord, the Giver of Life”.
Whether a man has faith or not, he is a human being because God’s own Spirit is in him.
That sets man apart from the rest of creation.
God’s Spirit in us is the reason we are images of God, after the Son of God.
Since he gave us life by giving us his Spirit, God can and does expect results from every human person, believer or not.
However, through faith and the sacraments, Christians receive a further and more specific gift of the Spirit.
For this reason, God expects even more from Christians than from unbelievers.
He expects from us profits thirty times, sixty times and even a hundred times over.
None of us may dare claim to have so much as begun to produce a hundredfold.
Still, there is little reason for despair or cynicism.
God in his grace makes himself into the possibility of our achieving his expectation.
How, then, might we be or become good soil and bring forth the hundredfold harvest?
The Lord explains today that good soil hears the word, holds onto it with a GENEROUS and GOOD heart, and brings forth fruit through PERSEVERANCE.
GENEROSITY, GOODNESS and PERSEVERANCE are natural virtues that even unbelievers have.
Though they are natural virtues, our Christian faith recognizes that they coincide with God’s supernatural invitation and command.
They coincide with the revealed law of God, so that God does not destroy or replace them, but makes them blossom into salvation.
God wrote his ways and laws into the nature of the human mind, heart and body.
That is what the Church calls “natural law”: the Word of God speaking and the Spirit of God breathing in us, making us uniquely HUMAN— that is, spiritual and not merely animal.
Through the Incarnation of Christ, through his death on the cross and in his Eucharist, God breathes, plows, buries and plants himself ever more deeply into the heart, mind, body and blood of our lives.
It is HIM that we bear like a seed within us.
It is HE who grows, blossoms and yields a hundredfold.
However, it is OUR human nature that rose and blossomed divine in him in his Resurrection, and OUR human nature that is seated now in him at the right hand of the Father.
In the end, our salvation and final resurrection are the hundredfold yield of fruit that the Lord expects.
The Eucharist is the real presence of all this.
It is Christ himself in his body and blood, filled with living and life-giving honesty, goodness and long-suffering patience.
Today and at every Mass, we dare to receive God’s Spirit, his grace and his Word through the Gospel and the Eucharist.
Let us be grateful for this, but let us also be mindful that with these gifts come also God’s expectations.
Let nothing go to waste.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 22, 2006

For Friday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 8:1-3

In the Lord’s Gospel, there are certain women who follow him with integrity, piety, faith, love and steadfastness.
With their own money, these faithful women provide for the needs of Christ and his twelve apostles.
They do this for as many as three years while the Lord goes about the country teaching and saving.
When the twelve apostles run away at the arrest of the Master, the faithful women follow him to the cross.
The faithful women alone go to the tomb to finish his burial rites.
After the Lord rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, the same faithful women, who had already risked everything, likely continued to be benefactors of his infant Church.
They likely were among the first to sell all their possessions and hand over to the apostles the income for distribution among the faithful who had need.
What moved these women to be faithful in following Christ?
The Gospel introduces them today as women the Master has healed of evil spirits and infirmities.
The Gospel does not tell us that the Lord healed any of the twelve apostles of any evil spirits or any infirmities.
The faithful women had personal experience of Christ as SAVIOR.
He SAVED them personally from evil spirits and infirmities.
The twelve apostles witnessed the saving and healing power of Christ.
The faithful women experienced it firsthand.
Firsthand experience would come to the apostles later.
Rising from the dead, Christ made peace with the apostles, forgiving them their unfaithfulness and breathing into them the Spirit and the authority to save others from sin.
The apostles finally lived out their lives for Christ, and gave their lives for Christ.
The twelve apostles and the holy women together show us faith in Christ and faithfulness to Christ.
Christ is Healer, Savior, Lord, Lawgiver, Teacher, Lover of Humanity, Son of the Father, Bearer of the Spirit.
As we worship him at his altar of sacrifice, resurrection and communion, we recall the faithful women who followed him to his cross.
We imitate the faithful women who were the first to go to the tomb of the Risen One.
We join the apostles in announcing the death of the Lord and professing his resurrection.
We join the apostles to hear the Lord say,
This is … that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me.

Through the liturgy, in the Gospel, the sacraments and the Eucharist, Christ still comes to men and women, still bringing the kingdom of God.
With his blood he still washes away the guilt of our sins.
With his body he makes us whole, he receives us as children of God, and he offers the guarantee that our own bodies and spirits shall rise sharing forever in his glory.
The faithful women know it.
The holy apostles know it.
With the faithful women and the holy apostles, let us take joy in the saving charity that Christ offers to all.
With all the saints, let us live the saving charity that Christ offers to all.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 21, 2006

For the Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist

Matthew 9:9-13

Today in the Gospel, Matthew the tax collector receives a challenge from someone we have never seen him meet: FOLLOW ME!
Hearing the stranger speak directly to him for the very first time, Matthew mysteriously stands up, immediately leaves everything behind, and goes to follow the stranger, Jesus, who has not yet so much as introduced himself.
We do not see Matthew bother to ask anyone who this stranger might be who has just said to him, “Follow me!”
Matthew does not take time to consider what is at stake.
He also does not ask for time to put his affairs in order first.
The only thing we have seen or heard in the Gospel is a challenge from a stranger, and the immediate response of Matthew.
We may see Matthew’s response as an example of pure, unhesitant faith
Christ came offering mercy.
Matthew was in need of it, and he knows it.
He was a publicly known sinner.
He knew he was a sinner.
On the other hand, as the Lord tells us in his Gospel, those who believe themselves healthy feel no need for a physician; but then in this way they lose, they miss the words of healing.
In contrast, Matthew, the publicly known “low-life”, a profiteering tax-collector, who was publicly recognized as a sinner, a public “sick man”, COULD and DID receive mercy in the invitation of Jesus.
When Matthew immediately stands up to follow Jesus, we see Jesus instead follow Matthew.
Jesus goes to Matthew’s house.
Suddenly we find Jesus there seated at table not only with Matthew, but also with a large crowd of tax collectors and other sinners.
Jesus had called only one sinner, Matthew.
Nonetheless, he accepts all those others whom Matthew himself has in turn invited.
All of these, Matthew and the large crowd of tax collectors and other sinners, sit down at the festive banquet together WITH and AS the disciples of Jesus.
This Jesus, with whom all of them eat, is a healer, a physician.
As we witness THOSE sinners sitting at table with Jesus, WE sinners should be grateful to recognize in their banquet of mercy a sign of the Eucharist—the banquet of salvation at which WE SIT HERE AND NOW— the banquet in which the Divine Healer sacrifices and gives himself to us as the one great and living medicine.
Today in the Gospel, Matthew and a crowd of sinners are celebrating the mercy of Jesus.
You and I at this Mass are also a crowd of sinners, sinners celebrating the mercy of Jesus.

That God Be Glorified in All

For those visiting from

The first reference to me (September 18) that you found there directed you here. However, my posts relevant to the issues cited are on my other blog.

Click HERE for it.
That God Be Glorified in All

September 20, 2006

IN MEMORIAM of Anthony Edward Gallagher

This memorial will be at the top of my blog beginning with 11 September, the fifth anniversary of the death of Anthony Edward Gallagher.

It will stay at the top of my blog through 20 September, the fifth anniversary of his
Requiem Mass.

On 11 September 2006, the fifth anniversary of terrorist attacks on the U.S.A., each of the 2,996 persons who died on that day will be memorialized in the following fashion.

Individuals who have blogs have signed up to receive the name of one attack victim each.

On the upcoming fifth anniversary day, each blogger will post his tribute to the victim whose name he has received.

I signed up, and I received the name of

He was born on Tuesday, 31 May 1960.

He grew up in Brightwaters, New York.

He graduated from Bay Shore High School, Bay Shore, New York, in 1979.

Anthony Edward Gallagher attended Mount Saint Mary University, Emmitsburg, Maryland, graduating there in 1983.

Three of his family members are alumni of Fordham University, the Jesuit university of New York: his father, Edward J. Gallagher, his uncle, Robert E. Gallagher, and his sister, Carolyn Gallagher.

He has another sister, Suzanne Adams. His mother is Rose Costello.

Every Friday afternoon at four o’clock, he committed himself to telephone and converse with his nephews and nieces— the four children of his sister Suzanne: Katie, Liz, Jay and Peter.

When planning to marry, he asked his nephews and nieces if it was acceptable.

Anthony Edward Gallagher and his wife, Carrie, married in February of 2001.

They resided in New York City.

He enjoyed riding his bike in Central Park and in local races.

He served as an energy broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, an investment bank specializing in bond trading.

His workplace was their New York office that occupied the 101st to 105th floors of Tower One, the north tower, of the World Trade Center.

He died there on 11 September 2001.

He was forty-one years of age at the time.

His Requiem Mass began at eleven o’clock in the morning at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Bay Shore, New York, on Thursday, 20 September 2001— the same day my own brother turned forty-one.

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O Lord, shine eternal light upon Anthony together with your saints forever, for you are gracious.

Anthony, may the angels lead you into paradise: may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and guide you into the holy city Jerusalem.

May the choir of angels greet you, and may you have eternal rest together with Lazarus who is no longer a poor man.

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“Trips for Kids” of Metro New York received a donation of bicycles in memory Anthony Edward Gallagher who was a bicycling enthusiast. The non-profit organization further honored his memory by hosting members of his family at a bicycle outing for kids on 2 June 2002. “Trips for Kids” provides such outings and environmental education for kids who would not otherwise have such opportunities. Click HERE and scroll down to “Biking Event Honors WTC Victim” to read about the event and some remarks from Anthony Edward Gallagher’s family.

+ + + chose to honor the memory of Anthony Edward Gallagher by giving this Siberian Husky the name "Gallagher".

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Today in the year 2006, September 11, I have received the following message from Alex, a sister-in-law of Anthony Edward Gallagher.
Thank you for your work on Memorializing Tony. I've forwarded your memorial to the rest of the family. He was a wonderful brother, Uncle and friend. He loved to play soccer and did so every chance he could with my boys who are dedicated soccer players. They would leave soccer balls at every relative’s house. To make sure there was always one around to play with. He is with my boys every time they walk out onto a soccer field.

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You can visit the blog memorials of others who died through the homepage that coordinated this tribute.

Click HERE for it.
That God Be Glorified in All

For Wednesday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 7:31-35

John the Baptist lived a thoroughly penitential life.
He lived alone in the desert.
He wore animal skins.
He ate coarse, wild food.
He preached repentance, scolded sinners, and he blessed their conversion with a public ritual washing in the Jordan River.
Our Lord, on the other hand, was not known for practicing a life of extraordinary penance.
Some people complained that Jesus associated with publicly known sinners.
Nonetheless, Christ was as concerned as John the Baptist about sin.
If someone approached the Lord to seek a healing of the BODY, the Lord often answered by saying, “Your SINS are forgiven” [Mt. 9:2; Mk. 2:5; Lk. 5:20].
Those uninvited words of forgiveness are also an implicit accusation of sin.
The Lord went about accusing people of being sinners.
Even when he would not publicly condemn to death the woman caught in adultery, he told her to her face, “Go, and DO NOT SIN AGAIN!” [Jn. 8:11]
John the Baptist’s way of life was penance twenty-four hours a day.
Christ’s mission in life was a search for sinners, a search in which he explicitly or implicitly accused men of sin and forgave them as well.
John the Baptist died for denouncing the sins of a king.
Going farther than John the Baptist ever could, Christ offered up his own sinless self for the sins of all men and women.
Together with John the Baptist, Christ fulfills the meaning of the words he spoke today: “wisdom is vindicated by all her works.”
Like John and Christ, we are to be wise in denouncing sin.
We are to be wise in doing penance— both for our own sins and for the sins of the world.
In giving us his Eucharist, our Lord commands us to be mindful of his own concern for sin.
This is my body … given up for you.
This is … my blood … shed … that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in memory of me!

Both John the Baptist and the incarnate Son of God teach us the wisdom of the children of God.
As we await the return in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are wise to be ready for him by seeking always the forgiveness of sins.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 19, 2006

For Tuesday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 7:11-17

In the holy Gospel according to Luke, today is the first time we witness Jesus raise someone from the dead.
The crowds who witness it have two things to say.
A great prophet has arisen among us.

God has visited his people.

The crowds spread that testimony throughout the land.
John the Baptist hears of it.
He sends two of his disciples to ask that Jesus either identify himself as the “One Who Is to Come” or tell them to look for someone else.
Instead of giving them an immediate reply, Jesus sets about curing more of the sick, the possessed and the blind.
Then he tells the disciples of John to report to John what they have seen and heard; and he lists for them what they have seen and heard.
What I find interesting is the order in which Jesus lists his “Messianic accomplishments.”
First, he lists healings of the body.
Then he names the miracle in today’s Gospel: the raising up of the dead.
First, healings of the body; then, the raising up of the dead.
It appears to be a logical progression.
The interesting thing is that the raising of the dead is not the “grand finale” of the list of “Messianic accomplishments” that Jesus recites for the disciples of John the Baptist.
Here’s the complete list as Jesus puts it.
Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind receive their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
and the deaf hear,
[and, finally]

The original language actually says, “The poor are evangelized.”
The progression of Messianic wonders: first, healings; then, raising the dead; finally, evangelization.
I admit that I would rather see a raising of the dead than hear the Gospel preached.
I’d rather be entertained than evangelized.
As Jesus lists his Messianic accomplishments, he gives the priority to evangelization over raising the dead.
Not only that, he specifies evangelization of the POOR.
Mother Teresa has confirmed this Messianic priority as one that the poor themselves hold.
Here are her own words.
You will be surprised to know
that in the poorest neighborhoods
in many of the cities where we live and work,
when we get close to the people who live in shacks,
the first thing they ask for is not bread or clothes,
EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE DYING of hunger and are naked.
They ask us to teach them the WORD OF GOD.
People are hungry for God.
They long to hear his Word.

“Even though they are dying.”
The poor ask for evangelization over and above escaping death.
After the crowds in today’s Gospel saw Jesus raise a man from the dead, they carried the essence of evangelization throughout the countryside, saying, “God has visited his people.”
Today in the Eucharist, we will know the same Messiah in the good news of his own flesh and blood: “God has visited his people.”
Perhaps we’re just not poor enough to appreciate that as much as we could.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 18, 2006

For Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Week of the Church Year

Luke 7:1-10

Several times in the life of our Lord, various foreigners in Israel rendered him some extraordinary act of homage or of faith.
Today, the foreigner who appears before us in the Lord’s Gospel is a Roman military commander.
This Roman officer sends Jewish messengers to beg the Lord to heal his slave who is sick and at the point of death.
The Lord sets out for the Roman’s house, but this commanding officer literally halted the Lord on the way by his proclamation of humility and faith.
do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, “Go,” and he goes,
and to another, “Come here,” and he comes;
and to my slave, “Do this,” and he does it.

At these words from a foreigner, the Lord marvels to those following him, “not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
Later the Lord will speak a prophetic blessing [Lk. 13:29], not only upon this one foreigner, this Roman officer, but upon all foreigners who believe.
Men will come from east and west,
and from north and south,
and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

And so, here WE are, from east, west, north and south, sitting at the table of the kingdom of God.
Baptism and faith have given us the privilege to eat at the table of the children of God.
We recognize our own faith as we echo the words of the centurion.
I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
but say the word and let my soul be healed.

Then the Lord answers us with saving power: “Be it done for you as you have believed.” [Cfr. Mt. 8:13]
It is he, the healing Lord, who “took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
What return can we make for salvation?
We must, with all our heart, declare the greatness of the Lord, and our spirits should rejoice in God our Savior.
For he has looked with favor upon our lowliness.
He has lifted us up from our lowliness, and seats us next to himself.
He fills us with good things.
It is right to give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.
So it is that we celebrate and offer the Eucharist, the Thanksgiving Sacrifice of Christ.

That God Be Glorified in All

September 17, 2006

For the Twenty-Fourth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 8:27-35

By this time in the Gospel the disciples have already seen Jesus cast out armies of devils, raise the dead to life, multiply a few loaves of bread on two occasions into enough to feed several thousand.
They have seen him walk on water and heal crowds of sick persons.
Today, he pokes them with two questions.
Who do PEOPLE say that I am?

Who do YOU say that I am?

They start to give a few answers.
The answer he finally accepts comes from Peter.
You are the Christ—
the Messiah—
the Anointed One.

This must be a great moment for the disciples.
Jesus is finally accepting from them the title of the wonder-working Messiah of God.
What a shock, then, as the Lord immediately turns the whole thing violently upside down on top of their heads!
Just when they have come to a moment of triumph with him, he begins to teach them that the Messiah “must suffer greatly” at the hands of the national and religious authorities, and he must “be killed.”
Peter rebukes Jesus for saying such things.
The Lord turns on Peter with violent words
Get behind me—
get out of my sight—
you Satan!

The Son of Man—
the Messiah—
must suffer greatly and be killed.

Many of the ancient and modern heresies in the history of Christianity are attempts to squirm past or squirm away from the notion that God has become a REAL MAN and now MUST suffer.
Even Saint Peter the First Pope squirmed.
Christ is true man and true God.
If he must suffer greatly and be killed, what does that tell us about God, and what does it tell us about man?
Before he was born a man of flesh and blood, God could not suffer.
Now that God is a man, he says that he must suffer greatly and be killed.
Why is this true?
HOW can it be true?
The search for answers can begin with the revelation that God is Love.
The LOVE-THAT-GOD-IS pours itself out forever and completely, without becoming empty and needing to be refilled.
GOD-WHO-IS-LOVE gives forever and completely, without ever becoming less or needing to have anything in return.
It is quite different with us human beings.
We have needs of body, mind and spirit— needs that must be met to some degree, or else injury and death do result.
Christ is God, giving away everything that he is and has.
At the same time, he is a man whose human needs must be met to some degree.
Precisely because he is THE-MAN-WHO-GIVES-HIMSELF-AWAY, holding nothing back for himself and taking nothing back for himself, he must suffer greatly and must die.
Christ’s suffering unto death shows that he truly is God.
His suffering unto death shows WHAT True Love is.
It shows HOW True Love is.
It shows WHO True Love is.
Today in his Gospel, True Love in Person tells us that if we choose to follow him in the way of love, we, too, must carry a cross and “suffer much”.
Without suffering, at least in some form of self-denial, there is no true love in us.
Christ’s suffering unto death shows that when a man accepts suffering freely and willingly, he becomes a SIGN, an INSTRUMENT and a PRESENCE of God who is Love.
That is our true human destiny, our true human vocation: Love.
Not false self-fulfillment, not the self-centered and self-enclosed satisfaction of our needs!
Our true human vocation and destiny is love: the giving away of ourselves, even to the point of deliberate self-denial, so that the borders of our sinful self-centeredness begin to be broken open by love and grace for the sake of true and divine freedom.
That is what the Lord teaches us in his Gospel today.
Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake—
will find his life—
will save it.

Christ our God chose to suffer and die.
We, when we suffer, have an opportunity to be Godlike.
We are free to Love.
To refuse to suffer when Love requires it is to be a Satan, and Christ will tell us to get out of his sight.
However, suffering itself is not our vocation.
It is not our destiny.
Our vocation is freedom and love.
Our final destiny is freedom and love.
Until freedom and love reach their full birth with the Return of Christ, suffering will remain the most challenging and the most powerful opportunity to exercise our freedom, and to submit to the ways of Love.
In his Gospel, Christ tells us he will return…
… with his Father’s glory
accompanied by his angels.
When he does
he will repay each man
according to his conduct…

… his conduct either as a lover or as a Satan.
If we wish to be with the Lord,
we must deny our very selves,
take up our crosses,
and begin to follow in his footsteps.
Whoever would save his life
will lose it,
but whoever loses his life
for the Lord’s sake
will find it—
save it.
There is, then, for those who follow Christ, a meaning, a purpose and hope in suffering.
Here and now in his Eucharist, Christ the Son of God— Love Incarnate whom we follow— takes up his cross, breaks and pours himself out and gives himself away for us and for our salvation.
In this, he gives us life, love and true freedom.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!

That God Be Glorified in All