Saturday, December 25, 2010

"God loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth"

Pope Benedict's Homily: Christmas Eve Mass 2010

“God anticipates us again and again in unexpected ways. He does not cease to search for us, to raise us up as often as we might need. He does not abandon the lost sheep in the wilderness into which it had strayed. God does not allow himself to be confounded by our sin. 
Again and again he begins afresh with us. But he is still waiting for us to join him in love. He loves us, so that we too may become people who love, so that there may be peace on earth. Saint Luke does not say that the angels sang. He states quite soberly: the heavenly host praised God and said: "Glory to God in the highest" (Lk 2:13f.). 
But men have always known that the speech of angels is different from human speech, and that above all on this night of joyful proclamation it was in song that they extolled God's heavenly glory. So this angelic song has been recognized from the earliest days as music proceeding from God, indeed, as an invitation to join in the singing with hearts filled with joy at the fact that we are loved by God. Cantare amantis est, says Saint Augustine: singing belongs to one who loves. 
Thus, down the centuries, the angels' song has again and again become a song of love and joy, a song of those who love. At this hour, full of thankfulness, we join in the singing of all the centuries, singing that unites heaven and earth, angels and men. Yes, indeed, we praise you for your glory. We praise you for your love. Grant that we may join with you in love more and more and thus become people of peace. Amen.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

John the Baptist vs. The Establishment

Gospel, Mt 3:1-12 

1 In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea,2 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'3 This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.' 

4 This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather loin-cloth round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.5 Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him,6 and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.

7 But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, 'Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution?8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance,9 and do not presume to tell yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," because, I tell you, God can raise children for Abraham from these stones.10 Even now the axe is being laid to the root of the trees, so that any tree failing to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire.11 I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.12 His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.' 

This is a scene from Matthew I wish was captured on video.  Can you imagine?  Picture the Pharisees and Sadducees faces when they get called out by John.  They'd heard the rumors and the mumblings about the madman in the desert, preaching, baptizing in the Jordan and proclaiming the coming of the King.  They sensed the drumbeats of a revolution, they sensed a HUGE threat to their status quo religious establishment and they crawled their way out to spy on what was really happening.  They weaseled their way into the crowd to bear witness of wrongdoing by the preacher in a camel hair garment who ate honey and locusts.  But John had guts, John was powered by the Spirit and laid into the Pharisees and Sadducees with a verbal attack the likes they had never been exposed to before.  I love it!  The holier-than-now Pharisees and Sadducees probably tucked their red faces between their tails and squirmed like snakes back to the comfort of their homes.  John the Baptist!  I think him and me would have got along very well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Mountain

I used to think of the road to heaven as a strenuous, lifelong climb up the side of the mountain.  But, after our Vincentian mission with Fr. Richard Gielow, I see now that God puts up at the top of the mountain right next to him.  Its up to us, with the free will He provides, not to slide downward away from him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Joy.  It is all really so simple.  It is a hit-yourself-in-the-forehead kind of simplicity.  God wants us to have joy.  He wants us joyful in heaven and joyful in our time on earth.  That is why he sent his Son to die for our sins, so we can have that joy.  Isn't that awesome?  Be joyful, spread joyful, shine joyful. 

Note: We had parish mission this week with Vincentian priest, Fr. Richard Gielow.  It was very uplifting for our parish and for me personally.  Over the next couple of posts, I will try to put into words some of the things I learned. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Taking the Gospels on the Chin

It must have been tough to be a disciple of Jesus. You get to feeling all bubbly and happy and good about following Jesus. You're ready to hold hands and sing Kumbaya all the way to the Pearly Gates. Then He does it, He goes into boxer mode. Yep, Jesus starts throwing the zingers at you and your glass jaw, packing more power than Tyson in his prime. Take the last three Gospels, for example.

Right Hook: Luke 13
After the master of the house has risen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.'
And you will say,'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.'
The he will say to you,'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!'
(Oooh, that hurts!)

Left Cross: Luke 14: 11-12
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Well, thanks Lord. Great advice.)
Then he said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...
(There had to be a catch. Ouch!)

Upper Cut: Luke 14:26
"If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."
(Triple OUCH!!!)

TKO! Round 1. Makes me wonder if I am fit for this...if I am worthy. Can I cut the mustard to get (and stay) with Christ in His ring? Put the guitar away brothers and sisters, no group sing tonight. I have to get some ice for these bruises.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Magnificat on Assumption Day

The Magnificat or the Canticle of Mary
(Luke 1:46-55)
And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

Mild, meek, pregnant, servant-of-the-Lord Mary makes a trip to see her pregnant-with-John-the-Baptist cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth sees Mary and shouts out what is to become the Hail Mary prayer after John the Baptist leaps in her womb at the sound of Mary's voice. Great stuff, sweet stuff, right? Okay. You then expect
mild, meek, pregnant, servant-of-the-Lord Mary to continue with this perfect WE/Oxygen/Lifetime channel movie of the week scene, but...
Mary, little Mary, belts out this zinger, the Magnificat! Holy Toledo! What just happened? Well, Mary has been transformed by God when she accepts His will. She has flipped the tassel over to the other side. Graduated from a meek, mild servant of the Lord to the MOTHER OF CHRIST. She speaks with the confidence of the Spirit. She lays down the law. This is what God is, what He did for me and what He wants done.
I can imagine people in close vicinity slowly backing away...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Welcome to The Grouchy Catholic!

I am many things. Catholic is one of the big ones.  And according to my people at home, sometimes (I emphasize SOMETIMES) I am a grouch.  The older I get the more Catholic and the more grouchy I think I am becoming, but such is life.  Hence, a blog on faith rants and pondering. With that in mind, welcome to The Grouchy Catholic blog. 
All my life, my mind sometimes wanders during mass.  In Catholic school, that often would get the death glare or the upper arm vice grip hold from the nuns of the Order of St. Benedict (furthermore referred to as the OSB).  In the Hays Family, a wandering mind often meant a reach-behind-the-three-kids-sitting-between-you-and-the-parents head slap from the Mother or the Father bookends in the pew.  
I thought perhaps I was a bad person for not hanging on every word.  The priest would be reciting the Eucharistic Prayer while I would still be thinking about the readings, visualizing the Prodigal Son coming home beaten and battered or Peter's anguish when the cock crowed that third time. Was I that bad of a Christian?  I thought maybe there was something major league wrong with my dedication to my faith for the longest time.
Then one day, I came to the realization that maybe, just maybe, this was one of the ways God was trying to get through to me.  He had me as a captive audience, so He would throw me these ideas.  Make me think, make me want to know more, make clearer the directions on the map He created for me.  So now, I accept these mental wanderings as my inspirations.  These inspirations will be a major resource for The Grouchy Catholic blog.  The Big Man upstairs is trying to tell me something.  Now, I just need to be open enough to let it into my mind and heart.
Unfortunately, He still hasn't come up with a valid reason for me dozing off during some Homilies... Oh well, I will have to be patient on that one.