October 25, 2022
Zacchaeus was “short in stature”, as we read in this Sunday’s gospel passage (Luke 19:1-10). He was height-challenged. A detail we perhaps overlook and might not consider a big deal. Being small, however, for some, can be a big deal. It might have been for Zacchaeus. Depending on how small he was, he may have been prohibited from full participation in the liturgy of ancient Israel. Indeed, in Leviticus, chapter 21, we read “no one who has a blemish shall draw near (to offer the food of his God), one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf…” Zacchaeus does not let this, however, be an obstacle to encounter. And Jesus responds to his hopefulness, and, in this welcoming encounter, Jesus lifts the prohibition. Our difficulty need not hinder our movement towards Christ, our worship; au contraire, a springboard it can be.Jesus indeed encounters and welcomes each of us in our challenges, in our brokenness of body or psyche or heart. He comes to the home of our hearts to stay. Such indwelling sets us free. His presence does not necessarily heal all things (alas!). His presence liberates our hearts to love more, even making mysterious use of the challenges to do so.
Let us eagerly welcome Jesus.
Yours in Him,
Is Humility a Thing of the Past?
October 18, 2022
Without a take-charge attitude, not much gets accomplished. The wallflower just observes, as life goes by, right? The wallflower appears to be the humble person in the room. Does humility, then, hinder human progress? Is humility feigned respect, a tired caricature? Well, not according to Jesus! In fact, in this coming Sunday’s gospel (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus says that “all who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus’ exhortation certainly does not preclude taking charge. We are to seek to accomplish great things. Jesus speaks at a deeper level, in reference to God and divine love, which, of course, in turn, transforms our lives. Although there is legitimate humility before persons with great minds and great hearts, the humility of which Jesus speaks entails seeing with eyes of faith and positions our hearts to receive the greatness of God.
Hear words of Scripture and Tradition on this:
Wisdom is with the humble.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
There is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart…
No one reaches the kingdom of Heaven except by humility.
St Augustine (+430)
There is more value in a single act of humility than in all the knowledge in the world.
Saint Teresa of Avila (+1582)
Asking for the gift of humility with you, I am
Yours in Christ,
Try, Try, Try Again?
October 11, 2022
The most obvious theme for this Sunday is that of perseverance. The collect (opening prayer) asks, “that the Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name”. St. Paul, in the second reading, encourages Timothy (and us!) to “continue in what you have learned and firmly believed” and to “be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable”. And, Jesus offers “a parable about the need to pray always and not to lose heart.”
19th-century British writer W. E. Hickson is credited with the well-known proverb:
Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again
British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon (+1892) says that “By perseverance the snail reached the ark”.
A question arises: does perseverance in our relationship with God, in the Christian life, consist in trying, trying, and trying again? Well, perhaps. There are choices to be made—sometimes hard, often repeatedly. There is a deliberate effort that consists in operating from deep within the heart, undeterred by inner or outer circumstances, “persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable”. But, perseverance in our relationship with God, in the Christian life, does not consist is “grinning and bearing it”, in “white-knuckling” it across the finish line. The parable is “about the need to pray always and not to lose heart”. Friends of Jesus are not Stoic. Friends of Jesus courageously find refuge in His heart. To pray always is, repeatedly, to bury oneself, in love, in Jesus. It is in His Heart, “fountain of eternal life”, as St. Gertrude (+1302), the German Benedictine mystic, says, that we do not lose heart. Indeed, with her, we can say to Jesus, “your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary”.
Grant That I May Behold
October 4, 2022
Allow me to share with you a prayer that is dear to me, a prayer full of awe and love, a prayer that we sometimes pray in the sacristy before our liturgy, our worship. It was composed by a brilliant mind in the Christian Church: Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), a Dominican friar originally from Italy. You may have heard me reference him once or twice! He is Saint Thomas Aquinas, however, as is the case with all saints, because of his love. This “prayer before Communion” is that of someone in love.
Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation.
Grant, I beg of You, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord, but also its full grace and power. Give me the grace, most merciful God, to receive the Body of your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, in such a manner that I may deserve to be intimately united with His mystical Body and to be numbered among His members. Most loving Father, grant that I may behold for all eternity face to face Your beloved Son, whom now, on my pilgrimage, I am about to receive under the sacramental veil, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
With you on this grace-full journey,
THE REV. DOMINIQUE PERIDANS