It was a Friday evening meal for members of my local religious community, and I was seated at a table with one of our priests who teaches writing skills at the college. The college president was also at the table. The writing professor was beside himself with satisfaction with the students in one of his classes. After only three weeks the students were comprehending the subject matter, distinguishing nouns from verbs, avoiding run on sentences, excelling in class discussions, and expressing gratitude to their professor.
Once a young businessman was sharing a compartment on a train with an elderly gentleman. When he noticed the old fellow quietly and intently praying with his Rosary, the young man made fun of him for his ‘superstition’ and told him that science had rendered the beliefs of religion irrelevant.
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Four years ago, I had an opportunity to officiate at a wedding in Cartagena, Columbia. A beautiful statue of a great saint stands just outside the Church near the beach. It is there that I learned about this wonderful Saint of the day, Peter Claver. As a Jesuit priest, he went to the missions in Cartegena, Columbia which was then the center of the slave trade.
I believe we are inclined to help one another. I think it is built into our nature as social beings. It is how we are created, God’s design for a communal way of life of mutual care and interconnected support. It is key to our survival. We do not thrive in isolation. Our capacity to love calls us to a gracious attitude toward all whom we meet.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Blessed Mother. This celebration reminds us of Mary’s shared humanity with each of us - it’s makes her real. Imagine the sense of joy and hopefulness that her birth brought to her parents Joachim and Ann - imagine them looking at her with love and wonderment, and perhaps sensing that she was special.
As summer ends in this part of our world, many parishes are offering programs for individuals who would like to receive the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. As I read Saint Paul’s Letter to the Colossians today, I was reminded of the special gift that is to be had by those who have not yet received these Sacraments. Paul was reminding the Colossians of their own reception of these gifts...