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From the category archives: Columns

Word Made Flesh

God wants to lift suffering from our souls

Kathleen Giffin
September 26, 2016
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2016

An occupational hazard for those who work closely with the suffering of others is "compassion fatigue." It is a condition of discouragement and hopelessness that arises from experiencing, day after day, year after year, the suffering of others, from witnessing the consequences of the harm that humans are capable of doing, one to another. As a Christian who does this kind of work, I sometimes find myself echoing the words of Habakkuk, asking God how long he is going to put up with the troubles we have down here, how much longer the children must suffer at the hands of their fathers, the innocent be brutalized for the ideology of their persecutors.

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Fidelity in small things leads on to Jesus

John Connelly
September 12, 2016
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 18, 2016

Jesus, in this week's Gospel, says, "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much." This Scripture should get our attention. It speaks volumes in a world that ignores virtue and actually celebrates vice. It speaks to us of purity of heart, purity of intention, purity of life.

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Let God guide you in conquering idolatry

Lydia Cristini
September 12, 2016
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2016

Sunday's readings offer a difficult message. Through the prophet Amos, God admonishes the people for their wealth, ease and complacency. Then, Paul says to "keep the commandment without stain or reproach." Finally, Jesus lays it all out with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: the rich man is tormented after death for not heeding God and the prophets by not helping the impoverished and diseased Lazarus suffering at his door.

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Remember the shortness of our lives

Brett Fawcett
August 29, 2016
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 4, 2016

Today's readings hit me in a very personal way. One week before writing this column, my wife and I lost our baby. So many thoughts assail you at a time like this - why did God allow this? Why was her precious life so short The fact of the matter is that all lives are short, but we often trick ourselves into forgetting this. Today's psalm cries out to God, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." Remembering the shortness of our lives, like the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.

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We play many roles in story of prodigal son

Maria Kozakiewicz
August 29, 2016
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2016

The story of the prodigal son is well known to us perpetual old sinners who walk away from God, starve and return to him with the regularity of the tide. No retreat, no major homecoming confession takes place without it. It contains the essence of Christ's message - the never-ending, patient love and forgiveness of God faced with human weakness and ingratitude. Seemingly, our civilization was built on this story. Robinson Crusoe meditated on it on his lonely island; little Heidi in a well-known children's book pondered its beauty and felt comforted. Great painters strained imagination to show the moment when father embraces the kneeling son.

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Endure suffering as a token of God's love

Lydia Cristini
August 15, 2016
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2016

Holiness is hard. Sometimes, Christians can get carried away with the "warm fuzzies" of the Gospel message. I do not mean to belittle the messages about love and forgiveness and joy and blessings from the Bible; they are important and truthful messages. However, they are not the only themes the Holy Spirit has given through the authors of Scripture. The health-and-wealth Gospel is a tempting way to read the Bible: If you believe in God enough and are faithful to him, God will bless you. You will not get sick, and you will prosper.

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Humility comes from recalling who we are

Kathleen Giffin
August 15, 2016
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 28, 2016

A statue of St. Francis sits in my garden amidst the hostas and coral bells. He carries a Bible and a cross; his prayer beads are tied around his waist and a bird happily perches on his shoulder. St. Francis seems the epitome of humility. He stripped himself naked of his possessions and inheritance in the marketplace; he looked to God to supply all of his needs, clinging only to the prayer that expressed his union with God. He became so humble that the birds of the air found no threat in him; he became friends with all of creation by his lack of striving and his simplicity.

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Pray, even when you cannot see the effects

Brett Fawcett
July 11/25, 2016
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 24, 2016

One thing we inevitably hear in the wake of great global tragedies and catastrophes is a lot of people telling the survivors that "our thoughts and prayers are with you." Lately, there's been another inevitable response: A chorus of people rejecting this, saying it isn't good enough. We need action, too, and, sometimes, people will even indignantly add: "Stop praying. God isn't doing anything." This may sound shocking and blasphemous to our ears, but we have to honestly consider the place where a retort like this could come from.

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Are we lucky to live in prosperous times?

Maria Kozakiewicz
July 25, 2016
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2016

"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" We all need a certain predictability to avoid major pitfalls in life. Still it is wise not to overdo the planning. Several people I know spare no effort to ensure they are in complete control of their lives. They live with pen and notebook in hand (or a laptop), and carefully plan their savings, investments and expenses. Everything they own is insured.

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God gives us his kingdom, and we rejoice

John Connelly
July 25, 2016
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2016

In this week's Gospel, the words of Jesus to his disciples should encourage us all: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." We all have fears. Fear of death. Fear of being destitute. Fear of not being loved. Conscious fears and unconscious fears. I remember as a small child checking to make sure no monsters were hiding in my closet. I was afraid some unnamed fear was going to sneak up on me when I was alone.

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