Friday, July 22, 2011

Jesus and the Internet

A week ago at a diocesan meeting, we were reviewing a new website for the deacons of the diocese (Albany, New York).  While watching the screen and realizing how much we use technology today, I commented to a colleague that it would have been interesting if Jesus had been able to use the Internet.  I could image that he would be sending out messages on Facebook and Twitter about how much his Father loved us and wanted us to be free.  He might have presented his Sermon on the Mount in blog form.  But is Jesus really not able to use the Internet because of when he lived?

The great saint Teresa of Avila in the sixteenth century wrote the following prayer:

Christ has no body on earth but yours;
no hands but yours; no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out
Christ's compassion to the world.
Yours are the feet with which to go about doing good;
yours the hands with which he is to bless now.

Keeping this prayer in mind we realize that Jesus is able to use the Internet because we are his hands, feet, eyes and ears in today's world.  When we use the Internet for good we bring the message of Jesus to others.  We all know that the Internet can be used inappropriately even for criminal purposes.  But the advances in technology that we now experience can be a great force for good if used properly.

Recently, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI sent a "tweet" to the world when the Vatican used Twitter (and they also use Facebook).  The Church realizes how beneficial technology can be in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I would like to call my readers' attention to several blogs which people in my own area of the world are using to spread God's word.  I would recommend them to anyone who is interested in hearing more about the message of our amazing God's great love for us.  They are:

Not Strictly Spiritual  (
There Will Be Bread  (
Pilgrims' Potpourri  (
Fr. Bob Longobucco  (
Musings on Religion, Art and Architecture  (
Albany Diocese Peace and Justice Commission  (

I am sure that you will find very interesting and inspirational reading in these blogs.  I would also commend to you a blog of a brother deacon, Deacon Greg Kandra, which can be found at  I must also recommend my daughter's blog if you care to read about how a person can live with a disability with humor and hopefulness.  Hers can be accessed by going to

The message of Jesus is being delivered loudly and clearly through the use of technology and through the great gift of the Catholic press.  May those of us who attempt to bring this message to others always do so with a sense of awe but also a sense of hopefulness and love for those we try to reach.  May God bless you all.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Ordinary Time" Is Not Ordinary

The Easter season in the Roman liturgical calendar ends with Pentecost Sunday - fifty days following the celebration of Easter.  On the day after Pentecost, the Church begins a liturgical cycle known as "ordinary time."  While it might not have been readily seen by most Catholics who attend weekly liturgies (because of two special feasts on the two Sundays following Pentecost), it would have become apparent when they arrived for worship the weekend before this to see the color green on vestments and adornments.

Of course, the term "ordinary" here does not mean the "regular, hum-drum, or run of the mill" but rather refers to the numbering of Sundays using ordinal numbers.  There are two times during the liturgical year when we celebrate "ordinary time" - between the Christmas season and Lent and the period following Pentecost.

But even though our usual use of the term "ordinary" does not apply here, it strikes me that the liturgical calendar of our Church pretty much imitates our various life cycles.  In the beginning of the liturgical year we celebrate Advent while we await the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus.  How many times in our own lives do we wait for something important with great expectation - it might be the birth of our own child(ren), the message that we have been given the job that we have so long sought, the word from the bank that we have been given the mortgage to buy the house of our dreams, and so on.  We wait for these events with prayerful anticipation just as the Church waits for the coming of the Savior.

Then we have the period of rejoicing when something wonderful happens in our lives - when what was long awaited has happened: the child is born, the son or daughter graduates from college, the new house is finished, the new job is just what we wanted, etc.  Such joy we experience like the Church does as it celebrates the Christmas season.

But in all of our lives there are those times when things don't always go our way.  We may experience either mental or physical suffering, the loss of a job, the dwindling health of a loved one, and perhaps even the death of someone close to us.  We look to our God at these times for strength and support to get us through the difficult times.  Such is the Church's celebration of the season of Lent when we are asked to practice penance and self-denial in concert with the recollection of the sufferings that Jesus underwent for our salvation.

But again - joy returns!  He is risen and we also arise from our sufferings.  Perhaps we have conquered a disease that has been troubling us; perhaps someone we loved experiences a recovery from a difficult situation.  The joy of Easter is in our hearts and we thank our God for his great gifts and mercy.

Surrounding all of these life experiences, however, are those times when things go on at a normal or "ordinary" pace.  We go to work each day and enjoy the times with our families.  We may be in school studying so that we can improve our own chances in life.  Whatever the situation we are doing the ordinary things of life.

But is our God ordinary?  We can experience God in those high moments of our lives when things are going so well as well as seeking him in those times when things are tough.  Through all of these times our God is not ordinary - our God is extraordinary; our God is amazing.  This is also true of those times in our lives when we are just going about the ordinary things of life.  God never leaves us to be with us only in those times of either great joy or great sorrow.

In an earlier post this year (3 March - The Sound of Silence) I recounted the story of Elijah found in Chapter 19 of the First Book of Kings where Elijah is waiting to hear the voice of the Lord and does not hear it in either the wind, the earthquake, or the fire but only finally hears it in a "tiny whispering sound."  Sometimes - in fact probably most of the time - God comes to us in these whispering sounds rather than in the bombast of wind, fire or earthquake.  My question then as now is "Are we listening?"

The man whispered, "God, speak to me."  And the meadowlark sang.  But the man did not hear.  So the man yelled, "God, speak to me!"  And thunder and lightning rolled across the sky.  But the man did not listen.  The man looked around and said, "God, let me see you."  And a star shone brightly.  But the man did not see.  And the man shouted, "God, show me a miracle!"  And a life was born.  But the man did not notice.  So the main cried out in despair, "Touch me, God, and let me know you are here."  Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.  But the man brushed away the butterfly and walked on.

We are now in the numbered weeks of the liturgical year known as "ordinary time."  But no time is ordinary with our amazing God who will be with us at all times whispering to us and touching us in various ways; we only need to listen and to be aware.  The color used during this liturgical period is green - the color of hope.  As we look around our world today we may find little reason to hope: military action is underway for our armed forces in three areas of the world, the threat of terrorism is constantly presented to us in the daily news stories, the ravages of weather that have occurred this year have almost seemed unprecedented.  Yet we move on in hope - a hope based in the fact that our God never abandons us.  Our God in the person of Jesus Christ, went to the very depths of the human experience in death in order that we might live.  Knowing this, how can we doubt that our God will remain with us?  Let us celebrate "ordinary time" with our extraordinary God!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

In the city of Philadelphia 235 years ago on this date, representatives of thirteen colonies under the subjugation of British rule, came together in congress to declare their independence from Great Britain and their desire to form their own country based on democratic principles.  While the signing of this declaration took place over several weeks (and perhaps months), July 4 is recognized as the birthdate of the United States of America.  Those signing the declaration knew that their own lives would be in peril should they be caught by the armies of the British Empire as their move toward independence was seen as treason in Great Britain.  As a result of their courage, the new country would fight its "revolutionary" war and arise as a new nation destined to become the most powerful nation in the world as time went on.

We congatulate our country on this day but we know that the progress sought for by the founders of the nation has taken these two plus centuries to accomplish and much still remains to be done.  And we are not without our faults and failings as a nation.  We have fought several wars with other nations in order to preserve our freedoms (the War of 1812 when Britain attempted to regain control of the rebellious colonies; the Mexican War; the Spanish-American War; and two world wars among others).  But the deadliest war that we fought as a nation was between ourselves: the Civil War fought between 1861 and 1865 which saw the deaths of over 620,000 soliders and civilians.  It was fought because certain southern states in the nation felt their rights were being violated and decided to secede from the union.  It ended up being a fight to abolish slavery in this country - officially pronounced by the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.  But the struggle for civil rights for our African-American brothers and sisters went on for years with vestiges still remaining in our society today.

Yes, we have made many mistakes as a nation and being human will continue to do so in the future.  We can only hope that we will learn from our mistakes and move on to retain our place in the family of nations as one that proclaims liberty and justice for all.

Our nation has been a beacon of welcome for many who have come from foreign shores to seek a better life.  For those who entered our country by way of the eastern seaboard would find their vessels sailing into New York harbor where they would be met by the "lady with the lamp."  She would reach out to "the tired, the poor, the huddled masses learning to breathe free" and lift her lamp "beside the golden door" to freedom.  One of the most awesome sights I have ever experienced is being on a ferry boat as it approached the isle of Manhattan at night and seeing that beautiful lady holding high her torch of freedom.  May all who come here always find that spirit of welcome.

In their solemn declaration of their independence, the founders of the country referred in their document four times to the Almighty, seeking the Creator's protection as they advanced their cause for freedom.  They spoke of "certain unalienable rights" given by God to his sons and daughters - the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (please note that the first right cited was the "right to life").

Our prayers continue to rise from our hearts in thanksgiving for this great country and ask the protection of our God to sustain our liberties and enhance the good we can do as a nation among nations.  To this end, we should be able to pledge - as did our founders - "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."  May God continue to bless the United States of America!