Welcome !

Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lent and Hope

I love Lent! I love how despite it being a season of repentance, wailing and gnashing, ashes and sack cloth, the lectionary readings for this season are full of hope. Old Testament scripture readings manifest God's future plans for the coming of the Kingdom, the inner transformation of Man's heart and the great love of our God as He heals and transforms our sinful nature, relieving sin and guilt, offering us a new life forever. The daily New Testament readings clearly explain Jesus' teachings, showing that progressive opposition to Jesus' work and teachings, yet containing those hidden gems of theophanies and angelic appearances to stimulate our hope that greater things will happen soon.
On Monday (3-26), the annunciation story (Luke 1: 26-38) surprised me... a classic Advent story appears in one of the most solemn and penitential seasons? Yet, imagine the hopeful memories this event gave to Mary as she later followed her Son on the road of sorrows to Golgotha. Perhaps she even retold this to the apostles as they sat huddled in fear in the upper room, as they all wondered what good could come of Jesus ' work. Mary might also be able to retell the story of St Joseph's own annunciation event, as described in the first chapter
of Matthew, which was read on St Joseph's feast day March 19th. These critical events show how God touched the lives of the Holy Couple, and demonstrated the couples' immediate and trusting response, having the faith in things unseen and the determination to cooperate with God's will despite very trying circumstances. How wonderful to remember such inspirational, angelic experiences especially when the situation appeared to be at its worst!

Jesus, himself, was no doubt an inspiration to his small band of followers after the crucifixion. On March 4th, we read about the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-10), where Jesus transfigured in glory along with Moses and Elijah, appeared to his three closest disciples. God, the Father, gives voice, " This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." At the time, the Transfiguration was bewildering to the disciples, Peter, James and John. Even more confusing, Jesus told them not to mention it until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Certainly, only in hindsight and great pondering after Jesus' death and resurrection, would this otherworldly event provide any confidence in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

A similar theophany occurred in Sunday's reading (3-25), when Jesus arrived near Jerusalem and determining that " the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (John 12:20-33), Jesus asks God to glorify his name. God responds, in the last theophany prior to the crucifixion, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." We see in this reading that Andrew, Philip and a crowd of people hear something. Some describe it as thunder, reminiscent of OT theophanies on Mount Sinai. Others said it was an angel speaking to him. Jesus confirms that it was a voice and it is for the benefit of those who hear it and not for Jesus' benefit. Oh to hear the voice of God impart His wisdom and encouragement! Despite the shocking nature of theophanies, the crowd and even some of the disciples still lacked confidence and trust in Jesus as Lord and Messiah. (see John 12:37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him...)

Today, I feel greatly encouraged by these events of salvation history, since I've been pondering it these last few weeks. But, I suspect the disciples had some doubt and needed to see proof of the glorification, i.e. the resurrected Jesus, power and action of the Holy Spirit,to feel fully confident in Christ our Savior.In fact, after reading all four Gospels on the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus, the disciples had their full share of surprise, amazement and disbelief upon hearing that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. Jesus appeared out of nowhere to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-49), they "were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost." Jesus had to present his hands, feet and body before them, and then eat something to prove he was really alive. Certainly, Jesus has some kind of other effect on people and he's able to"open scriptures and their minds" to understand them. Remember the disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, "were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" (Luke24: 32). Then in Jerusalem, when he suddenly appeared (Luke 24: 45) he "opened their minds to understand the scriptures." In the final analysis here, through his word, Jesus gave hope: Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope (Psalm 119:47)

Obviously, our Lord's work with the disciples was not finished, as his Advocate needed to arrive to imbue the disciples with all the super natural gifts but also hope for managing this very difficult life. I find it a pleasant surprise to see how reviewing these last five weeks of daily readings have been uplifting in this rather solemn season of repentance. Thank you Lord for the scriptures, your word, which still makes my heart burn with love and hope, some two thousand years later!

1My son, if you receive my words

and treasure my commands,

2Turning your ear to wisdom,

inclining your heart to understanding;

3Yes, if you call for intelligence,

and to understanding raise your voice;

4If you seek her like silver,

and like hidden treasures search her out,

5Then will you understand the fear of the LORD;

the knowledge of God you will find;

6For the LORD gives wisdom,

from his mouth come knowledge and understanding....

Proverbs 2:1-6

And hope!

My addition

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Our Rambling and Raucous Rituals

"Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom."  Psalm 51:8 

We have the most slapdash family Lenten prayer rituals of anyone I know, sort of like our Advent traditions, without the fire hazard.  I do try hard to make Lent meaningful for our whole family, yet in the middle of the season it is hard to see any benefit from the effort at all.  And it is an effort. This year has been the most disorganized ever! Still, we stick to it, but I really do long for a tangible outward sign that sticking with our devotions is transforming our hearts to be like His.

One of our family Lenten devotions is praying the Stations of the Cross in our family room.  It is a raucous affair, as children climb on and over furniture to take turns reading the prayers written on paper plates with rudimentary drawings of each station hung around the room.   Like the candles during our Advent prayers, I wonder if the whole devotion is distracting, or worse, not dignified enough for such a solemn and profound prayer.  Can the deep and sacred mysteries of faith break through all the noise?  Maybe it is not helping my children sincerely desire to encounter Jesus Christ, Crucified and to look for Jesus Christ, Resurrected.  Maybe I should change course now, while their is still a little Lent left.

4 year old's drawing
of the 14th station
Perhaps I could do something to bring about a more dramatic atmosphere. I could play a reverent song like Via  Dolorosa before our prayers, to quiet us down and center us better (I hesitate to suggest this because my husband will just look at me like I am delusional, and point out that no one will be able to hear the music over the crying baby and fidgeting, sometimes fighting kids).

Even as I am ready to completely give up the whole thing and just go back to the fairly calm decade of the Rosary we pray at other times of the year, I spy my little boy Max, pointing to a station saying "Jesus," and them babbling a stream of baby talk that has the exact cadence as "We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world."  Amazing!

Amazing that he picked that up in the circus that is our nightly Stations of the Cross.  Amazing that even when nothing seems to be happening, grace received by a baby, reveals the wisdom of our nightly devotions.  It is not in manufactured drama to increase superficial feelings of devotions and love, nor is it in perfectly performed prayers. The awareness of God, and of His saving love for us is the quiet, secret wisdom that opens little hearts and minds to God in familiar and sincerely done rituals and devotions.  In pondering this, something stirred in my heart, and a question arises, very much like the question God asks Elijah on Mount Horeb:  "Why are you doing these devotions?"  And instantly, I answer, "because I love you, Jesus."

And that brought to my mind the verse from Psalm 51.  It is our prayers that are offered with a sincere heart that yield the humble wisdom to begin to see truth in the mystery of the Way of the Cross, and to trust and love God enough to step into it.  I am strengthened by it, unknowingly, and so are my children.

So, the mystery contained in these chaotic, rambling, noisy Stations of the Cross devotions have an impact that is more profound than it seems at the moment.  Like so many things of God, grace is hidden in the messiness of life.  Like seeds in muddy soil.  The perception of something greater is aroused, and it is nurtured deep into Ordinary Time, long after the Lenten penances have gave way to Easter celebrations.  Our family will continue to faithfully enter into Lenten traditions and rituals because we love Him, and His grace remains with us.

And His grace works not by our power, but by His. God's work is more subtle, more intricate and much more powerful than the signs I want to see.

Peace and Grace,


Thursday, March 22, 2012


By Mary Anne Cronican

At every Mass, at every second, the memorial of the New Covenant is celebrated bringing together in the actions and words of the priest, the joining of eternity with time—heaven with earth. It is the moment when we leave time and enter eternity united as witnesses to and sharing in the eternal Sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. We are present at the moment of our redemption when heaven and earth embrace!

The bread is consecrated and becomes the Bread of Life. The wine is consecrated and becomes the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ our Savior.

It is impossible to fully grasp this reality and is understood only in the realm of faith.
Perhaps we can gain a somewhat deeper understanding and sense of gratitude for this awesome Sacrament of Love by examining it in relation the the OT and the relevance of the blood sacrifice offered by the Israelites and the fulfillment in the Sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary.

Blood to the Israelites of the OT was the life of the living being (Gn 9:4, DT 12:23). They believed it to be not only the life-giving element for both mankind and animals, but also considered it sacred and it was used in rites of worship. Atonement was possible only through the shedding of blood (Gn 9:6). In the sacrificial ritual of the OT, blood symbolically represents the life and blood of the victims (the one offering) offered to God, represented by the altar (Lv 5:1-5). The covenant between God and the Israelites was sealed with the blood of animals as we see in Exodus 19 and 24. The blood of the Passover lamb smeared on the doorposts protected the Israelites from the angel of death in Egypt (Ex 12:7, 13).

After God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses held a covenant ritual by slaughtering animals and spreading the blood of the victims (representing his own blood) on the altar, which represented God, and sprinkling it on the people, signifying that the covenant partners share a common life (Ex 24:6ff). This was done in atonement for the sins of the people and to seal the covenant with God. After the blood ceremony, they ate together (Ex 19:10).

The sacrificial significance of the blood of the Eucharist follows the ritual practices and formulae of the OT covenant sacrifice. The Blood of Jesus is poured out in atonement for sins and for purification and reconciliation. The difference is that the sacrifice of Jesus is not symbolic but is actually the sacrificial Blood of Jesus. The blood of animals cannot atone for sin (Hb 10:4). Only a perfect sacrifice could re-unite us with God and the only perfect sacrifice could be Jesus. The Blood of Jesus excels the blood of animals. It is only through blood that purification (justification) and remission of sin can be effected (Hb 9:20-22).

As the Mosaic Covenant was sealed with the blood of animals, a prefigurement of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Blood of Jesus sealed for all time the New Covenant, atoning for sin, and reconciling all of mankind with the Father.

At the precise hour that Jesus died on the cross on Calvary, the animals for the Passover celebration were being slaughtered. This is significant because it represents the ending of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New and Eternal Covenant in the Blood of Jesus.
It is also significant to note in Ex 19:10, that after the blood ritual they “ate and drank” analogous to our Eucharist where bread and wine are consecrated and we eat the Bread of Life and drink the Blood of Jesus.
Thus, the symbolic prefigurement of the OT came to fulfillment in the Sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. Every time we enter Church to participate in the sacred Mysteries of our redemption--that unfathomable act of Love—we leave time and enter eternity and when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, eternity and time, heaven and earth unite at Calvary with all of heaven present!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Joseph and the Family Plan

In honor of today's Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Journey to Wisdom is re-posting an essay by Janet Goodwin.

Saint Joseph, Pray for Us!

St. Joseph's Annunciation

Janet Goodwin

Joseph of Nazareth, the earthly father of Jesus, spoke not a word in the New Testament, yet his actions told volumes.  Somehow, he became the patron of selling houses, but his example illustrated more of the virtues of married life than how to build a home.  His life spoke for all the ages on love and fidelity to God and family, and the divine plan for marriage and family relationships.  Since Joseph is silent within the pages of scripture, looking back on a few Biblical personalities and their character traits will provide interesting background for the development of God’s plan through Joseph and the Holy Family.
   Abraham, the first of the patriarchs, demonstrated a faith and relationship to God, such that he followed God’s plan without ever truly knowing or seeing the full scope or end result.   Abraham must have been gifted with courage and determination to complete the travels so desired by God.  Later in their marriage, Abraham and Sarah fulfilled God’s will by having their son Isaac at ages past childbearing, so witnessing how God worked impossibilities into realities.  Later, Abraham underwent a great test of fidelity when God asked Isaac to be sacrificed.  Abraham’s fortitude shone brightly as he nearly completed the task, but then angelic intervention directed Abraham to kill a ram instead.  Abraham’s willingness to kill his beloved son demonstrated his unfailing devotion to God. (Ex 22) Certainly in a similar way Joseph would fit the righteous mold of Abraham, not truly knowing the path of his own life or the final outcome for his foster son during his earthly life, yet fully accepting the will of God at his own “annunciation.”   First, Joseph experienced his own excruciating test of fidelity as he contemplated a pregnant, virgin Mary.  In the book, The Mystery of Joseph, Fr. Marie Dominique Philippe writes, ”Trusting in the Father, Joseph accepts this situation that is humanly impossible to live…He must therefore accept to be the origin of the mistaken opinions that will be formed about Mary and Jesus.  This is perhaps the harshest trial for a just man.  In order to live it with love and joy, he must fix his gaze solely on the will of the Father and not become fixed on his own human judgment or the judgment of others.  He must live constantly in a radical conformity to the will of the Father, above and beyond all that comes from creatures.” (1, pg 15-16)  Like Abraham, Joseph would experience divine intervention by an angel to help direct and guide his life.   Joseph readily accepted the daunting challenge presented by God’s angel:  to witness God’s greatest feat, the virgin birth of Jesus, raise God’s son, and assume the role of husband, father and protector of the Holy Family.  
    Another Patriarch, Joseph of Egypt, came to power by correctly interpreting the Egyptian Pharaoh’s dreams.  He stayed in power, as the Pharaoh’s right hand man, by intellect and wise planning, saving the world (the Pharaoh’s kingdom) from starvation during a prolonged drought (Ex 41).    Joseph of Nazareth shared many characteristics with Joseph of Egypt.  Most importantly, both received heavenly guidance through dreams and acted quickly on such knowledge to save their “people” from certain death.  Pope Pius IX declared ”As almighty God appointed Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob, over all the land of Egypt to save grain for the people, so when the fullness of time was come and He was about to send to earth His only-begotten Son, the Savior of the world, He chose another Joseph, of who the first had been the type, and He made him the lord and chief of His household and possessions, the guardian of His choicest treasures (Jesus)…..” (2, Pg 4) 
       King David, the kingdom’s greatest king and founder of the everlasting dynasty, came to power several hundred years later also through his wise leadership, military skill and fortitude, an unlikely leader being the youngest of Jesse’s sons.  Interestingly, David founded a great community of believers who worshipped and prayed in the manner of the patriarchs generations before, yet expanded and refined liturgical worship with music, psalm and ceremony, as evidenced throughout the first book of Chronicles (chapters 15, 16, 23-26).   Ancestors, like Mary, Joseph and Jesus worshiped in this manner generations later.  The Holy Family faithfully upheld ancient Jewish traditions, yet like David, were the first to witness to a new way of relating to God through daily life and worship, living with the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus; a way that would fulfill and surpass the Old Testament, first starting with a Holy Family and lasting to our own day. 
   God’s salvation, Jesus, was realized through the simple means of marriage and family life in Joseph and Mary, as foreshadowed by patriarchs Abraham, Joseph and David.  Other biblical writings such as the Book of Tobit demonstrate the divine will and plan of marriage and the family.   In Tobit 6:18, the angel remarks to Tobiah as he contemplates marriage to his kinswoman Sarah, “But do not be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world existed. You will save her, and she will go with you.”   Similarly, Tobit 7:11  echoes God’s plan and esteem of the marital state, when the angel says to Tobiah:  “Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven! Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after. And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace."   The marriage plan of Tobiah, repeats itself later in the union of Joseph and Mary, again with the help of the angelic messenger, who announced the mysterious plan which the brave couple both readily accepted.    Pope Leo XIII states in Quamquam Pluries, “Marriage is the closest possible union and relationship whereby each spouse mutually participates in the good of the other.”  (2, pg 31) 
   After Joseph receives his “annunciation” to have no fear to complete the marriage to Mary, all Joseph’s human efforts became focused on Jesus and Mary, his own desires and needs totally subjugated to the needs of his family.  Fr. Marie-Dominique Philippe, in the book, The Mystery of Joseph, states, “The Father receives Joseph’s act of abandon, of total submission, and He wants him to cooperate in his own way in the work being accomplished in Mary through the Holy Spirit.” (1, pg 69)  What exactly did Joseph give up?  Many Catholic theologians believe Joseph to have given up the conjugal relationship of husband and wife, as Mary had consecrated herself to God in childhood.  Given the longstanding, Catholic view that Mary remained virginal throughout her life certainly would lead Joseph to change his normal views on marriage, but only with God’s grace.  Fr Philippe also suggests Joseph made his own consecration to God which included a virginal marriage to Mary, which effectively protected Mary’s virginity, her consecration to God and allowed Mary to give herself more fully to God.  There is no competition for love or even a lack of loving in this relationship.  Fr Philippe clarifies this and writes, “The fact that God has drawn Mary into a greater personal intimacy by making her the Mother of His beloved Son does not mean that Joseph must withdraw as if he were excluded.  Quite the contrary, the more God draws a creature to Himself the more capable that creature becomes of loving those whom God brings close to him or her…God is not the rival of human love, but when His love is communicated to His creatures it requires their human love to become truer, purer and poorer. (1, pg 39).”  
    Certainly then through Joseph’s mission as father and head of the family, he provides an ideal model for several aspects of fatherhood and family life.  As the family’s head, Joseph governed with humility and respect for the holiness and mission of the most Holy members of his family.  He cherished and sacrificed for Jesus and Mary.  He protected and defended with constant vigilance, instant response and courageous action, in utter disregard for his own safety and inclinations. (2, pg 68). Fr Philippe writes, “It is a life of prayer, of contemplation, of work…Joseph is called to watch over the Redeemer..guard Mary’s virginity… and Jesus’ divinity… from the notice of the prince of this world.” (1, pg 75-76)     Fr Philippe explains the model of Joseph’s sacrifice:  “Every time we put everything into God’s hands in this simple and absolute way, God always responds in an infinitely greater way, and His response comes to confirm and renew all that we give Him, by taking it infinitely further.” (1, pg 69 )
   Now we can see God’s ideal of the marriage relationship, the total self sacrificing abandonment to the beloved’s needs leading to greater love, affection and attachment through the mediation of God.   For Joseph, this sacrifice involved accepting God’s will in a meek and humble manner:  a socially unacceptable situation, a choice to love and protect Mary despite difficult circumstances, and the unbelievably humbling act of providing, protecting, and parenting God’s son.    For God was recreating something flawed and broken since the beginning of time. The first of all families, Adam and Eve, met failure and separation from God through the sin of disobedience. The path for future generations was bleak, as evil penetrated into the world through the first family after their fall from grace.  So God planned redemption through His initial family plan, using humans who perfectly fulfilled His ideals and perfectly followed His plan.  The marriage of Joseph and Mary brings to realization the “spousal gift of self” in receiving and expressing such a love.  Marriage is purified and renewed, as a sacrament of the New Covenant, so holiness can spread all over the earth. (4, para 8)   Fr. Gilsdorf writes, “Keeping vigil over the Child, our Joseph is truly patriarch of a “new Genesis.”  Guided by dreams, Joseph stands beside Jesus, the new Adam, and Mary, the new Eve.  As He himself will one day reveal, Jesus is “the Living Bread come down from heaven.”  (2, pg5) 
    Through the relative obscurity of living a “normal” life, the Holy family lived, worked and prayed like the other villagers, following ancient traditions as outlined and lived by great Biblical figures.  In so doing, the mystery of the Incarnation was hidden until Jesus Himself was ready to reveal it through public ministry.  (2, pg 54) Fr. Gilsdorf also mentions that by limiting information, all persons of all places and times can apply the basic facts to their own individual lives.  The more details given, the harder it would be to apply specific circumstances to one’s personal situation. (2, pg 101)  In this way of silence, families of all times in history can readily imitate the Holy Family’s virtues, especially by following Joseph’s example by accepting Jesus and Mary to be present in their lives.  It seems that the Silence of Joseph has a purpose and a meaning, and can be a model for all. 

  1.  The Mystery of Joseph, Fr. Marie Dominique Philippe, Zaccheus Press, Bethesda, MD, 2009
  2. Go To Joseph, Fr, Richard W. Gilsdorf, Star of the Bay Press, Green Bay, WI, 2009
  3. Bible used for reference:  The Catholic Study Bible, New American Bible, Oxford University Press, New York, 1990
  4. Redemptoris Cutos, John Paul II, On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church,  August 15, 1989
Copyright 2011, Janet T Goodwin

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Third Sunday of Lent

Deacon Paul and his family
For the readings this Sunday I have a few links for you all!

The first is to Deacon Paul Rooney's website: angelfire.com.  It is his excellent Didja Know series and he has some wisdom to share on the significance of the Temple for each of us!

The second is to another blog of mine: Talitha Koum, it is a blog in development. The title of the post is First God and I try to grapple with the notion that faith and worship are not necessary for doing good.

If you still need some Scripture reflection to meditate on I always direct people to: Archdiocese of Washington blog, Monsignor Pope never fails to enlighten me on the readings!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Father Flanagan, Servant of God

"We are humbled and overjoyed by Archbishop Lucas' acceptance of our petition to examine the heroic virtue and sanctity of Father Flanagan."  Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion.

This is the official news release from the Father Flanagan League shared with us by Sharon Nelsen, who has been privileged to be a part of the effort to promote the cause of Father Flanagan, Servant of God.   According to this release sent by Steven Wolf, "The mission and purpose of the Father Flanagan League is to is to educate and inform all people of the heroic virtue and sanctity of Father Flanagan's life and his mission as mentor and protector of youth, and spread devotion of his example throughout the world."  And the work continues:  "We must remain involved and working closely with the Church every step of the way and ultimately it is our responsibility to meet the financial needs of the effort to ensure the administrative and logistical aspects of this process remain in full operation for the duration."  (FFLSD).

 If you haven't already, start a friendship with Father Flanagan today!