Jesus, Make Yourself at Home!

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In October of 2023, I attended the Madison Eucharistic Congress with other members from St. Dominic. I was able to see and pray with the Eucharistic Miracles from around the world on that occasion, a work that was researched and published by Blessed Carlo Acutis. How fitting that this coming week, we will have the exhibit available here at the parish for us to meditate on and be drawn into the miracles of Jesus revealed in his body and blood. Carlo died at the age of 15, and was beatified in 2020. A first class relic of Blessed Carlo will also be available for us to venerate and reflect on this young man’s life and love for Jesus. May he become one of your new favorite “saints.”

While I was in Madison and was praying in front of his relic, I was drawn to one of his prayers: “Jesus, make yourself at home! Live within me as if it were your own dwelling!”  I meditated a long time on this reality, ‘live within me as if it were your own dwelling.’ How insignificant and unworthy I felt. I found myself in tears realizing the gap of this reality. This amazing God within me. How can this God come into my life, unworthy, sinful, doubting, imperfect, weak, and broken as I am? 

Lent is the time we look back at the past year, acknowledge our brokenness, and allow our Lord into our hearts, to heal us and open ourselves to His love. His love is what we often run from because we don’t feel worthy. We don’t want to look at our flaws and sins, our failures and wrong doings. It is tough to acknowledge where we failed. Yes, it is in our brokenness that room can be made for repentance that can bring us home to His heart. It is confusing to believe that it is in our brokenness that God can work in and through our lives. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.” (Eph. 2: 4-5).

What a great hope we have that our Lenten journey can bring us to new life by “cleaning out the crud in our lives.” Friends, let us make this Lent a new season for our souls. How can we do this? Come to Jesus in the Mass, in adoration, in silent prayer, and in the sacrament of reconciliation. When receiving Him in the Eucharist, allow Him to penetrate your heart, to change and renew you in His love. His love will transform you. Then together with Blessed Carlo, our prayer can be, “live in me as if it were your own dwelling.” Blessed Lent my friends.  Blessed to journey with you to His heart.

Doers of the Word

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How often as children were we told: “Wash your hands before coming to the table!” We hear in the gospel, that the Pharisees questioned Jesus' apostles:  “Why do your disciples not wash their hands before eating?” There were many observances in Jewish laws which seem to be primarily hygienic in origin; distinctions between foods that were “clean” and “unclean” as well as certain foods that could be dangerous to eat, and eating with dirty hands that could be a source of disease or sickness. Attaching a religious sanction to the recommended behavior helped to insure adherence to the law. 

By the standards of the day, the disciples were indeed breaking the Jewish law, but Jesus speaks of where real uncleanness comes from. The source of uncleanness is not with any food or drink that comes from outside. Real uncleanness comes from what’s found in our hearts, from within us. Washing hands does nothing to change that! 

Jesus is challenging the Pharisees, and all of us, to be people who demonstrate our faith not by external observances, but by the depth and breadth of the love found in our hearts. In many ways, Jesus is reminding us that our religious practices, our faith, have to be better than mere externals. It’s really about an inner conversion, a transformation that calls us to a change of heart and a deepening of our personal relationship with God, Jesus, and love for one another. 

St. James tells us that we are to “be doers of the word and not hearers only.” He teaches the importance of faith in action which comes from the heart. Each week, we will have many encounters and opportunities with other people. Will I be a more loving, caring and compassionate person.…will I “become Christ, each for the sake of all”?

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

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When Dr. Seuss was 53 years old, he was fed up. The children’s book author and illustrator was tired of the noise, the constant activity, and the busy-ness that was attached to Christmas. His desire was that people would celebrate the joy and peacefulness of the season without all the hoopla detracting from it. So he did what any great writer does. He wrote a story about it. How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become a classic, spanning over five decades.

It’s funny that in today’s world we think of the Grinch as an awful and mean creature. We forget that he actually transformed his attitude about Christmas. He saw the Whos in Whoville celebrating together, even without the gifts and food. He discovered that it was about being together and sharing this special day with each other.

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.”

How is your Advent going? Are you caught up in the gifts, food, and busy-ness? Are you finding yourself getting anxious about all the things to do and people on your shopping list?

What is your focus as we approach Christmas Day? Are you finding time to pray, reflect and give thanks for the miracle of Christmas? Are you setting aside time to be fully present to those you love and those you meet?

How big is your heart this Christmas season?