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, May 25, 2013

Holy Trinity Sunday

 By:  Judy Morss

Last Sunday Was Pentecost Sunday and we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Church. "The Holy Spirit, which is the person in God that most resembles an element or an environment, penetrates and impregnates all created realities in order to communicate incorruptibility to them, to strengthen that which is weak in them, to impregnate them with the incorruptible life of God." (Cardinal Jean Danielou).
My favorite prayer to the Holy Spirit is simple and yet wondrous.  I pray it often before I begin a meditation or read Scripture. The Holy Spirit illuminates my thoughts and brings me clarity.

"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the Faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth."
Can't you just see those tongues of fire that rested on each of the apostles?  An outward sign of the infusion of the Holy Spirit into their bodies and souls.  What a beautiful vision that must have been.
This week, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Trinity, we come full circle.  We now know of the completeness of our God.  He is indeed the one, true God and in His unity, there are three persons --- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Three, indeed are one, and in this oneness we have our strength, our peace, our joy, our fullness as the human beings that God created. 
The Gospel of John 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples: "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."
The Holy Spirit is to be the guide for all the disciples and will tell them what he hears from Jesus who receives from the Father. And so the disciples will be enfolded in a circle of love and knowledge as they are surrounded by the endless love between Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  We, too, are enfolded in this circle when we draw close to God and accept the beautiful gifts He wishes to give to His beloved children. The warmth and safety within that circle is boundless as is God's love for his faithful ones. May we always remain inside that circle.

Peace and love,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Canticle to the Holy Trinity

By:   Sharon Nelsen

The readings for Holy Trinity Sunday ignite a canticle within me:

Blest are You, God the Father, Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God and the Holy Spirit Who have shown us merciful love. (Entrance Antiphon)
You delight in us day by day
Playing Your symphony on the surface of creation,
Delighting in us, Your song;
Dancing with us, Your melody. (Proverbs 8.31)
O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
Who are we that You should be mindful of us?
You have made us little less than the angels,
You have crowned us with glory and honor;
You have given us rule over the works of your hands
You have put all things under our feet. (Psalm 8.5-7)
Thank you for pouring Your Love into our hearts
Through the Holy Spirit that You have given to us. (Romans 5.5)
Thank you for your Spirit of Truth who guides us to all truth.
Thank you, Jesus, that everything the Father has is Yours
And is shared with us, (John 16.15) especially the Spirit
Who cries out within us: Abba, Father. (Communion Antiphon)
Thank You, Dear Father God, our loving, beneficent, merciful and forgiving Creator.
Thank You, Blessed Brother Jesus, for carrying Heaven to Earth;
for birthing us into Your Family now and forever.
Thank You, Powerful Holy Spirit, for nurturing us into intimacy with God and with one another.

Artwork: Wikipedia

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pondering Spiritual Things: A Word That Has A Spiritual Reality

As I was reading the May 20th office of Readings for today, I was really struck by the concluding prayer:
“Grant, we pray, almighty God. that  always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you.”
If you have a heart for spiritual things how do you hear the word “mother”?  Because when I read that Pope Francis told 800 superiors of women’s orders that they should be spiritual mothers, not spinsters I was excited!  When I read the actual quote in the Moynihan Letters,  I was over-the-moon!
Chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven shows how affection has its place in mature freedom and becomes a sign of the future world, to make God’s primacy shine forever.  But please [ make it] a fertile chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church.  The consecrated are mothers:  they must not be ‘old maids’!
Unfortunately that article was a bit critical of our Holy Father’s use of the words “mothers” and “old maids”.  Moynihan quoted Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post, a writer who often tries to defend the Church, yet, who felt that the comment was insulting to these women who had given up families to serve the Church.  She felt that it perpetuated a negative:  Seeing women’s roles in the church as exclusively "maternal".

Really??  And this from a women supposedly knowledgeably enough about our faith to defend the Church in print.  Even the author of the article wondered if the phrase was unfortunate because it will be misunderstood and misused.

How else will we fight “careerism” in the Church if we go on allowing a banal culture to narrow spiritual realities to superficial ones? Careerism will be all that is left for individuals to grasp onto in order to form some semblance of identity, inside and outside of the Church, if we allow this to continue.  How will we continue to stand and fight the the dictatorship of relativism  if we are offended by the ontological realities of our identities as male or female made in the image and likeness of God?   We will deserve the transgendered culture that we are getting if we ourselves, as Catholics, give in to the idea that “maternity” or “paternity” are narrow definitions of a material actions or roles and not the core of how we image the Father as male and female; signs of a future world.  A world where our masculinity and femininity are fulfilled, not eliminated!

I for one found the Pope’s words to be thrilling!  Spiritual words to be pondered, and allowed to gestate!  What do the spiritual realities of maternity and paternity suggest to you when you ponder them apart from the narrow confines of our relativistic world?  And how do you think we should communicate them? 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Jesus Breathed on Us

A Reflection on John 20:19-22 N.A.B.
By: Larry T
We are being assaulted! The attack on us is shocking, alarming, and ominous. We are the Catholic Church and attacks on our Church are personal attacks on us and our faith. Examples of the onslaught aren’t hard to find. 
Illinois Catholic Charities close over adoption rule. Catholic Charities in Illinois has served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children. But now most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in Illinois are closing down rather than comply with a new requirement that says they can no longer receive state money if they turn away same-sex couples as potential foster care and adoptive parents.
By Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, December 29, 2011
Fight against HHS mandate draws thanks from bishops. - Apr 8, 2013 - The U.S. bishops have thanked organizations and entities for their courage in fighting a federal contraception mandate that forces employers to pay for services that violate their religious beliefs.
Internal issues are even more disheartening.
L.A. Archdiocese reaches agreement with more than 500 abuse claimants. The Los Angeles Archdiocese July 15 announced the largest church settlement of sexual abuse lawsuits to date, agreeing to pay more than 500 alleged victims a total of $660 million.
2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
US priest pleads guilty to drug dealing charges. A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to selling methamphetamine from his flat in the US state of Connecticut.
2 April 2013, B.B.C
Saint Peter forewarned us about persecution.

8 Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour
9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.
10 The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.
11 To him be dominion forever. Amen.
1 Pt 5:8-11 N.A.B.
Before we are jolted into questioning our faith we need to remember that on Pentecost the Apostles received the Holy Spirit from our Lord Jesus.
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20:19-22 N.A.B.
They received the same Holy Spirit that anointed Jesus for His ministry; the same Spirit that empowered Him to spurn all of Satan’s temptations.
10 On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
11 And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert,
13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
Mark 1:10-13 N.A.B.
In turn Saul (St. Paul) received the Holy Spirit through the hands of Ananias (Acts 9:17 N.A.B.). So empowered, much to the dismay of the Sadducees and Pharisees, and deep suspicion of Jesus’ followers he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues of Damascus.
Emboldened by the Holy Spirit the apostles defied the Jerusalem Sanhedrin while their fate was being debated. Certain furious members of the court wanted to put them to death, but Gamaliel, the respected Pharisee doctor of Jewish law, spoke up:
38 So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.
39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him.
40 After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them.
Acts 5:38-40 N.A.B.
Where did the apostles get the courage to face down the Sanhedrin? What inspired the 3rd century martyrs Saints Perpetua and Felicity to stand firm in the face of their executioners and a horrible death? What guiding force steered the Church through the eighty heresies that had arisen by 375 A.D.? What sustained the Church through the Reformation? The Holy Spirit has guided us since Pentecost, and will continue to guide us because our Lord will never abandon His church. How prophetic were the words of Gamaliel!
The Holy Spirit is a force of power that causes Satan to cower in a corner, and we receive it at baptism and confirmation. Still, the Spirit can only motivate us to action; it’s our responsibility to defend ourselves, our Church, and our faith. The greatest danger threatening our Church is in the neutrality of large numbers of us. Satan is not a novice so we must go about our defense with a sense of urgency.
How can lay Catholics protect the faith? “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” – Saint Francis of Assisi. The wisdom of Saint Francis is that if we live the Gospel and follow the precepts of our Church, we will set an example for our families and strengthen our Church.
We can live Proverbs 13:20: 20 Walk with wise men and you will become wise, but the companion of fools will fare badly. Tools for faith building and associating with like-minded Catholics are plentiful. EWTN, the Global Catholic Network, has some excellent programming. Parish sponsored programs such as That Man is You, Lectio Divina groups, Marian Cenacles, and small faith community groups are in constant search of new members. We can sign up for a Bible study class.
Satan’s tactic is to chip away at our faith a bit at a time, so we must be aware of subtle attacks on our beliefs. If we’re not sure what our Church teaches concerning marriage, divorce, contraception, homosexuality, marriage of priests, abortion, and euthanasia we cannot defend our faith. Our first resource is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or better yet, we might consult a priest or deacon for direction.
On this Pentecost Sunday we might pause to consider the power of the Holy Spirit that resides within us. In our daily prayers we can petition our Lord for an increase in grace - God’s free-will gift to us which nurtures faith. We can also pray to Mary daily, this way: “Mary, please ask your most beloved spouse, the Holy Spirit, to transform me into the image of your Son, Jesus.” Such prayers will always be answered, since they are in harmony with the will of God!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


(Mother’s Day; 7th Sunday after Easter “C”; May 12)

I love this “Journey to Wisdom” site because of the wonderful reflections and meditations that are posted by all of you.  Today, I would first like to preface my own reflection with a flashback to St. Francis de Sales.  He had a great way to describe an approach to our meditations, which I would like to share with you.  He asks us to consider our meditation on God’s word as a walk through a flower garden.  There are lots of choices, lots of beauty, and lots of great smells.  So just select one or two or three flowers that appeal to us right now, and pick those.  Just so, select one or two or three points in God’s word that appeal to you as you meditate on His word.  Then “think frequently about them, and smell them spiritually during the rest of the day” (Introduction to the Devout Life).  Isn’t that a beautiful way to remember what to do with our meditations?

So today I want to share the “flowers” that appealed to me.  [In the Omaha Archdiocese we do not advance the “Ascension” solemnity to Sunday; instead we retain the liturgy of the word for the 7th Sunday after Easter.]
Today is a special day for Deacons like me all around the world, because in our First Reading from the Acts of Apostles (7:55-60) we celebrate the life of the very first Christian martyr, St. Stephen the Deacon.  The day after Christmas is really Stephen’s feast day.  But the Church also places this same episode right here, one week before Pentecost Sunday, because it shows the struggles that confronted the disciples in the early Church.  Unfortunately, Stephen gets stoned to death; but he gave us two lessons.  First, he shows what can happen when you cling to your faith in Jesus Christ during times of persecution: it may even cost you your earthly life.  But a second lesson is more important: Deacon Stephen provides a witness to how we must try to be like Jesus in his attitude of MERCY, no matter what the personal cost.
Stephen imitates Jesus even in death, as he forgives his persecutors. Jesus had said from the cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Now we hear Stephen saying, just before he dies, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  A merciful gift is given to his persecutors.

We discover in our Gospel reading today (John 17:20-26) that Jesus is praying for unity, a unity that can only come when people actually experience unconditional love – a merciful love that extends even to enemies, even to those who would kill us. Pope John Paul II taught us in a 1980 Encyclical (“On the Mercy of God”; #138) that only love that is demonstrated can bring about unity.

There are many roads that lead to unity.  But the most famous and most effective road is the “love road” commonly called “works of mercy.”  These are ways we demonstrate our love. These are ways that witness to Jesus Christ, and attract non-believers.  There are 14 works of mercy; but perhaps the hardest one of all to live out is the obligation we all have to forgive offenses willingly.  Jesus set the bar high; and St. Stephen lived up to it.

Do you remember that nasty Superstorm Hurricane, called Sandy, that hit the Northeast so savagely last October?  At the heart of the recovery efforts from the flood and fires, in the Rockaway area of New York, was St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.  There have been many articles in the secular press, even six months later, praising the many practical works of mercy that the parishioners at St. Francis de Sales provided for the storm victims—long before the official government support groups went into action.  As the news article said, and I quote, these works of mercy bring us together and also show the world what the power of faith can achieve.”  And that is from the secular press, mind you!

I think it is a wonderful coincidence that this weekend is Mothers’ Day weekend.  If there is any one single person in our life that has shown us how to extend mercy and forgiveness, it is our biological mother.  But our Spiritual Mother is really the “Mother of Mercy” par excellence.  Every day we appeal to her, in a prayer at the end of our rosary: “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy...”   We remember the many times she appeared to St. Brigid of Sweden, and to St. Faustina of Poland, and to St. Juan Diego in Mexico: she identified herself to them as our “Mother of Mercy.” 

We also remember the eloquent way Blessed Pope John Paul II called her the “Mediatrix of Mercy” (Redemptoris Mater, 1987).  He teaches that Mary has a specifically “motherly” role as mediatrix of mercy, when Jesus returns at his final coming.  We call the Blessed Virgin Mary our “Mother of Mercy” because she literally brought Divine Mercy Himself to birth in our world.

And now she shows us how to live as true Disciples, by living out the many virtues we need to practice daily.  One of the most important virtues, of course, is Mercy (or Charity, which is really the same thing).   The gospels show is that she lived out this virtue when she went to serve her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need, and also when she interceded for the needs of the married couple at the wedding feast in Cana.  And now our Queen Mother is in heaven, to intercede for everyone who calls for her help.

So we have a “cloud of witnesses” who have shown us, by their example, how to be merciful.  First, the example set by Jesus our Redeemer, forgiving his enemies from the cross.  Then St. Stephen the Deacon, forgiving those who stoned him to death.  And then the visionaries, such as St. Brigid, St. Faustina, and St. Juan Diego, who tell us that the Blessed Virgin Mary wants all of us to know that She is the Mother of Mercy.

There really is nothing more we need to hear.  The gospels and all the saints challenge us to be merciful, just like Jesus.  If there is anyone in your life who needs your forgiveness, then please imitate the holy witnesses, and be merciful.    Remember the command Jesus gave us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful”; or, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy.” (Luke 6:36; Matthew 5:7)

As we pray for and honor our own earthly mothers this weekend, please also remember to pay special tribute to our heavenly “Mother of Mercy.”  Please join with me right now in the “Hail, Holy Queen” prayer, as one way to acknowledge and respond to our Mother’s desire that we imitate the Mercy of her son, Jesus:

Together – “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful [clement], O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! +

Blessings to all of you!
I pray especially that the Lord will send each of you mothers many blessings through the mediation of His mother, Mary.

- Deacon Paul Rooney

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wandering Desire

A reflection on John 14

Jesus said to his disciples:  “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.  “I have told you this while I am with you.  The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubles or afraid.  You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I will come back to you.’  If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.  And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.  JN 14:23-29

Ascension of Jesus
When I was a little girl my family moved to Minnesota and we joined the local Presbyterian Church.  It was in this church that the love of Jesus was cultivated in my heart.  And though the church of my childhood lacked most of the sacraments, they did direct us toward a relationship with Christ. I especially remember Miss Peggy reading us stories about Jesus, helping us to memorize the books of the Bible and to understand the parables through delightful songs.   It was made clear to me that I could be bold like Zacchaeus or Bartimaeus and call out to Jesus.  I could expect Jesus to come to me in prayer, to heal me and to save me.  I prayed to Him frequently and I did hear His voice. 

 As I journeyed on in life, I wandered off the narrow path, I crowded out the voice of the Lord with what seemed like more fulfilling and realistic pursuits.  I remember a particular moment I had wandered so far away from Him that I stood on the brink of renouncing a belief in the historicity of the life, death and resurrection of Christ as I had learned from the Bible.  I was ready to dismiss it as all spiritual concepts and nothing more. In those moments I found I had only the strength to proclaim an abstract spirituality and vague ethical guidelines.  Yet that love that had once been nurtured but was now lying dormant in my soul stirred up painfully in the moment of my temptation.  It was a nostalgic-like yearning for something that I could not quite put my finger on, at the same time I felt contempt for this feeling, I tried to dismiss it as foolish and un-intellectual but the feeling was persistent.
C. S. Lewis in his essay The Weight of Glory talks of what he calls a wandering desire for the transtemporal.  This desire is present in each of us and there is no natural satisfaction for it in this world because we do not belong to this world – we are exiles!   Deep in our hearts God has placed a yearning to dwell with the Lord, where we truly belong, and where our identities are truly fulfilled.  And not just “spiritually”, but the whole of our being.  Our bodies as well as our souls.  We belong in the gleaming city on the mountain, we are destined to bathe in the waters of the Spirit that flow from the Temple, to eat from the Tree of Life and bask in the light of the Lord, to be known by Him, to have Him delight in us.   We catch glimpses of eternal joy in this world, but they are fleeting and utterly beyond our grasp, though we try in so many misdirected ways to capture them.  I felt these stirrings in my youthful prayers to Jesus, and occasionally as I pass through my life, I am visited by moments where peace and joy seemed to pour out upon me.  But these moments always slip quickly by, and even as I am enjoying them I am aware of a sorrow that always co-mingles with this joy.  Because it is lost almost as soon as it is received.  If we have lost our relationship with Christ, it is so easy to lose any sense of peace that we are being drawn on toward something greater, we feel only loss and have no real hope of renewal.  Because what we seek we cannot find here.  The world’s peace always comes at a terrible cost.

Unfortunately for us, we live in a time of diminished imagination and dreary earthbound dreams of distant Utopian hopes.  “Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all out modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.” (Lewis; Weight of Glory)  And how close I was to accepting that as the truth.  But what happened to awaken my awareness of how I had misunderstood and suppressed this wandering desire in me?  Fundamentally it was the love of Christ that was nurtured in my soul as a child.  Because I had heard His voice, and I longed to hear it again.   In that moment that I stood on the brink of disbelief I heard His voice quietly echoing a line of Scripture that I was not very conscious of at the time “Will you also leave me?” (John 6:67)  I literally dropped to my knees, because as the words were being spoken, I recognized His voice, and the other philosophies that I was flirting with were revealed to be barren, ugly and powerless in comparison to the voice I heard, which was so much like the vision of John in Revelations, containing with it all beauty and all love. My response was very much like Peter’s response to Jesus in the next verse, “There is nowhere else to go!”  I was always being beheld by Him and being drawn up by the bands of love.

After all these years, I still am astounded and grateful for how the very simple but earnest instructions of my parents and Sunday school teachers paved the way for that deeper conversion.   Now after having been a Catholic for a few years (okay for over 20 years, but who's counting?) I know how richly and concretely present He is in His Church, and how blessed anyone is who is born into our faith.  My love for Him has only deepened, and with this my attention to His words and how I am following them has sharpened.  So that, hopefully, when I walk into the world, and encounter the barren philosophies, His peace stays with me - even when I am opposed and confronted.  Because I am not just bringing my ideas of who Jesus is with me, but I am bring Him with me, I am letting His Spirit flow through me.  So that that wandering desire can be stirred up a bit in those that I interact with.  But first, I must love Him, and in loving Him I can follow His words.