We ARE a Christian Country!

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In today’s Gospel for the Feast of Saint Agatha Jesus says,

Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Today at 1:00 pm, my wife will be having surgery to remove a tumor.  I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer so I have asked my Internet contacts, Facebook friends, and online business associates to pray for her.  Normally I wouldn’t do that in a business context, but this is too important to leave any stones unturned.

The response has been nothing short of amazing.  People who I barely know, people I’ve never met in person, and people that I would never have thought to be particularly religious have responded to my request with kind words, thoughts, and the promise of prayers.

In spite of what you may see, hear, or read in the media, the world is full of wonderful, faith-filled people.  Responding to Jesus’ words today, they’re not ashamed of their faith.  Whether the president thinks this is a Christian country or not, I know that it is.  That doesn’t mean that every one of our citizens is a member of a Christian church, but most of them are.  And I don’t mean to imply that those who aren’t Christian are somehow inferior to those of us who are.  But those who aren’t  Christian are influenced by the Christians around them, whether they realize it or not.

Using the word “Christian” is a larger sense, we all follow Jesus’ teachings and we’re all affected by His Presence, whether we give Him credit or not.    “Love one another as I have loved you” is more than just a passage in a book.  It’s a principal that’s long been followed in this country by Christians, Jews, and others who want to live life in harmony with their fellow citizens.  You don’t have to be a Christian to embrace Christian values.

So, be proud of your faith!  Be proud of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  And be proud of your identity as a Catholic.  That’s what He asks us to do.

JanAnd, thanks to everyone who’s praying for Jan today.

The First Friday of Advent

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“GIGO”, Garbage in-garbage out, is a phase used in the world of computer programming.  It means that your results are only as good as the raw material that you put in.  In our modern world there’s no shortage of  “garbage” to put into our minds and bodies.  Garbage in-garbage out.

As we prepare for the arrival of the Son of God, we do our best to get ourselves ready.  But sometimes it’s an uphill climb.  Reality TV.  Endless ads touting the latest stuff that we just have to have or our Christmas won’t be complete.  The evening news tells us that we’re going to hell in a hand basket.  It’s enough to make you  wonder if it’s all worth it.  Sometimes “Silent night, holy night” seems like a naive pipe dream.

But, this isn’t anything new.  In an interview for Liguorian Magazine in October, 1992, famous author Henri Nouwen had this to say:

If you want to follow Jesus…[you must] control what you take in every day.  When you are on the bus or subway, or in your car, why busy your mind with television and radio?  Somehow you have to decide what your mind will receive.  I don’t mean you shouldn’t ever go to the movies or watch television, but control what enters your mind and heart.  It’s not just a question of pushing bad things out but a question of holding on to something really good.

It is good to have a prayer on your lips wherever you go.  There are so many moments in life when you are free to pray.  When you are waiting for the cashier in the supermarket, getting mad because he or she doesn’t hurry, say a little prayer.  ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’  Take that prayer with you wherever you go.”

Remember, Nouwen gave this interview more than seventeen years ago!

I recently had a conversation with a very wise Trappist monk.  We were talking about the sin of being judgmental.  Like Nouwen, he had a prayerful suggestion.  He said, when you finding yourself passing judgment on someone else,   stop and bless that person.  If you’re like me and you take that advise to heart, you’ll spend a good part of your day handing out silent blessings.