About frjamesdiluzio

January 2022: Director of the Paulist Fathers' Office of Ecumencial and Multi-Faith Relations while continuing to offer some of my missions and retreats. As a missionary priest, actor & singer, Paulist Fr. James DiLuzio developed a Mission/ Retreat entitled LUKE LIVE! Now in his 8th year traveling throughout the USA proclaiming Luke’s Gospel from memory with preaching and song meditations, his goal is to inspire , entertain and exemplify how we may more fully personalize and celebrate scripture in our lives. See www.LukeLive.com Throughout my mission/retreats, I offer many suggestions on how we may share our faith comfortably in all kinds of situations and contexts—highlighting the Paulist charism of Evangelization, Reconciliation, Multi-Faith and Ecumenical Dialogue.

Notes on a Webinar on Antisemitism sponsored by the G20 Interfaith Forum 9 May 2022 taken by James DiLuzio CSP

  • The G20 Interfaith Forum urges international attentiveness to formal legal and commonplace practices in various nation’s policies that infringe upon or deny rights to their Jewish populations and those of other minorities. Russia is a prime example of labeling people of the Jewish faith as enemies of the state on no other basis than that of their religion.
  • One of the myths contributing to Antisemitism is an assertion that Jews do not have loyalty to the nation in which they live. This remains an affront to reality. It is unconscionable that anyone in the public center describe any ethnic group in such a wide generalization. Furthermore, evidence abounds as to the substantial numbers of Jewish people actively involved in politics and social agencies for their respective nation’s welfare, not to mention numerous International Jewish agencies devoted to human rights concerns.
  • The Economic Crisis of 2008 quickly awakened Antisemitism. Various governments and political parties have often scapegoated the Jewish community during economic turmoil by fostering medieval, pre-modern and post-modern superstitions and fallacious arguments against the Jewish race.
  • Although Mainstream Politicians and News Media strive to avoid Antisemitic rhetoric, evidence of blatant Antisemitism is legion in many Non-Democratic Nations.
  • Often the World Stage exemplifies Antisemitism by an exaggerated attentiveness to Israel’s internal affairs. For example, the United Nations’ 2001 World Conference Against Racism exclusively railed against the Nation of Israel, paying little or no attention to racism and tribal warfare in Africa, Asia, Syria, Middle Eastern, and Latin America Nations.
  • The accusation that Israel is an “apartheid” nation is an example of Antisemitism. Apartheid in South Africa consisted of formal, legislated policies against a race of people in defiance of International Law. No such laws exist in Israel. Using the term “apartheid” makes a false generalization about an entire people and its representative government. Furthermore, the term presents a grave obstacle to negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people. Israel needs collaboration and support from other nations in addressing complex, territorial disputes. Condemnations alone is counterproductive. Regarding the political sphere, Israel would appreciate more international understanding of the fact that the Palestinians representative, Mahmoud Abbas, is a genuine dictator. The very nature of his position and policies make him (and the Palestinians who work for and with him) an affront to the democratic values they pretend to want for the Palestinian people.
  • Antisemitism is present in the lack of outcry against human rights violations in contemporary Russia where its government does not afford Jews and other minorities equal opportunities on many social levels. Russia’s propaganda that calls UKRAINE a Nazi nation ripe with antisemitism, provides fodder to blame the Jewish people for the invasion of Ukraine — an invasion the Jewish community actively protests. We urge an international outcry against Russia’s lies and hypocrisies.
  • The loss of a critical sense of history, including Holocaust denial, not only contributes to Antisemitism but perpetuates growing Christian and Islamic phobias in many countries. Efforts to combat these prejudices are not internationally unified. Governments must acknowledge Antisemitism as more than a political problem. In fact, it is a racial, religious, moral, existential, as well as a political problem. Historically, Antisemitic events often jumpstart active prejudices and racism against minorities in various religious, social, political, and cultural contexts.
  • A worthy historical example of a nation and Church effectively combating Antisemitism: In 1943, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church widely condemned the Nazis and their policies against the Jewish people. At the same time, they boldly supported and accommodated the Bulgarian Jews’ emigration to the land that is now the State of Israel.

For more information on the G20 Interfaith Forum, go to:

Moderator: Asher Maoz is dean of the Peres Academic Center Law School in Rehovot. He holds a PhD. In Philosophy from Tel Aviv University, and a Master of Law from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the G20 Interfaith Forum Advisory Council and Anti-Racism Initiative.

Speakers:

Yuli-Yoel Edelstein: Member of the Israeli Knesset. Mr. Edelstein is one of the most prominent refuseniks in the former Soviet Union. From 1984 to 1987 the Soviet government imprisoned him at a Gulag in Siberia for teaching Hebrew and Pro-Israel commentary. Freed via international protests, Mr. Edelstein emigrated to Israel and remains active in Israel’s public and political spheres.

Natan Sharansky: received Israel’s highest award for promoting Aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles in 2018. He is the only non-American citizen to receive the American Presidential Medal of Freedom (2006) Congressional Medal of Honor (1986). He has served as minister in four Israeli governments; Chair of the Shlihut (Emissary) Institute and The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP).

Dr. Peter Petkoff: A Senior Law Lecturer at the Brunel Law School in London, Dr. Petkoff is also Director of Religion, Law, and International Relations Programme at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. He is currently authoring a book for Oxford University Press on Holy Sites Under International Law. See also:  

From Angry Father to A Loving God: FATHER STU

A Movie Review by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

FATHER STU, a film about a real-life-narcissistic-troubled soul’s transformation, explores and incarnates the adage: “God writes straight with crooked lines.”  It is an engaging movie offering a high-quality performance by Mark Wahlberg as the real Stuart Long (1964-2014) a sort of Southern, Elvis-fed Hillbilly growing up in an exquisitely dysfunctional family who stumbles upon Catholic Christianity despite himself. Not saccharine, not preachy, this is a COMEDY-DRAMA with inspired casting, earthy expletives, and a strong pull to see just where this film-and where this man is going.  Its dramatic component gently eases us into the nature of faith, and, especially, a theology of suffering.  The script by Rosalind Ross puts more of a light, evangelical spin on the JOB dilemma than a more deeply nuanced Catholic one (Could no one have consulted ME?), but it makes sense based on the time frame and the locale. Bringing religious conversation into the secular movie world is always difficult, so when Stuart encounters parishioners at a local Catholic Church, there are times when we get all-too-typical Christian soundbites, instead of more profoundly intimate spiritual sharing.  Still, as director, Ross highlights terrific, nuanced facial expressions from a solid cast, and I’m happy to report that in FATHER STU, the whole is always greater than some of its parts.   

More about the casting:  Mark Wahlberg is perfect. He winningly incarnates the character’s transition from “Somebody Love Me, Please” self-absorption to a person who finds God in loving others – the film’s essential, vital theme. As the father-from-hell Mel Gibson is alarmingly compelling. What is it about this actor/director and his wrestling with faith-on-film? God know where he is on the faith spectrum, but his work is always thought-provoking, and Gibson captivates the menace here very well.  As Stuart’s mother, Jacki Weaver plays an excellent suffering soul. Along with her estranged husband, this mom offers the existential angst of a true cynic, yet her devotion to her son, and her hurt for the husband who abandoned her, is heart-wrenching. And Teresa Ruiz is radiant as Stuart’s love interest and the woman who instigates Stu’s faith journey. Indeed, these fascinating, well-crafted performances constitute the heart of this movie, even when the script and direction (also Rosalind Ross) don’t quite fulfill all the material’s potential.  Many scenes, however, are truly excellent, from the broad comedy of Stuart’s early adult life from boxing to acting to supermarket clerk and his infatuation with Ruiz, through to his conversion, and his torment. The intimate moments shared by Stu and his mother, and one with Ruiz near the film’s conclusion, are beautiful.

Although the trailers for FATHER STU make more than evident the plot’s trajectory, know that there will be surprises you are bound to appreciate. Make-up and Special Effects are among them and first-rate. We haven’t had a major motion picture exploring faith in a positive vain for some time. FATHER STU fits the bill nicely, and like a good parable, there’s much here to chew on and discuss as you leave the theater. Please go!   

For more on Father Stu, go to https://www.fatherstumovie.com/home/

Suggestions for a CHRIST-CENTERED CHRISTMAS (Updated)

 I BEFORE THE DAY BEGINS:  

  1. Invite dinner guests with musical ability to bring their musical instruments
  2. Have family members set DVR to pre-record Football Games; pre-record or purchase/rent CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, or other cartoons, or CHRISTMAS MOVIES.  These will be handy for intervals such as between main meal and desert or as alternate After Meal Activities.
  3. Community Games to Have on Hand:  Charades, Pictionary, Balderdash
  4. Music via CD, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube (See item VIII below)
  5. POST-ITS with #s on them, coordinated to # of guests.  Separate #s for Adults and # for Children.  Have each guest take a #. (Children’s # on one color post-it; adults, another)
  6. Display and have available a Bible & Children’s Bible opened to Luke, Chapter 2.
  7. A Book(s) or Copy of Clement C. Moore’s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and the poem/song THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.  Have these available for After Dinner Activity. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/visit-st-nicholas
  8. http://www.wikiwand.com/en/The_Twelve_Days_of_Christmas_(song)
  9. Christmas Carol Music Books or Song Sheet or PowerPoint copies displayable on TV (If your TV & computer are integrated, have the “tech” in the family work on this in the weeks prior to Christmas.  Otherwise, make copies of Song Sheets or just the lyrics.)

I             CHRISTMAS EVE (or Morning) – Replace the colored Advent Candles from your Advent       Wreathe with White Candles, and add a fifth White Candle at the center of the Wreathe.  

              Prayers for the Occasion available in Catholic Book of Blessings and online at

http://www.ewtn.com/library/LITURGY/adbless.htm

II CHRISTMAS MORNING: A Short Prayer before Opening Gifts: “Thank you God for the Gift of Christ in our lives. May the beauty of his birth bring new life to our faith and help us to appreciate all life, all children throughout the world. Thank you for the gifts before us.  Fill us with Gratitude for you and for one another. Keep us young at heart.  Amen.” 

  1. If young children are patient, read Luke 2: 1- 21 and Matthew 2: 1-13, Sing “Silent Night” or “We, Three Kings,” otherwise read and sing AFTER Presents are opened.
  2. Sing “God Bless Ye, Merry Gentleman” if all are receptive for another carol.

III      CHRISTMAS DINNER PRAYER: “Dear God, Here We Are–Our family and friends–and these are the feelings we bring to this Christmas Day.  Helps us understand the beautiful way You accept each us as we are. Make us confident in your love so that we may be at peace and feel your presence among us.  Help us to make the most of this meal, this day, and our time together.”  Then invite everyone to join in the Traditional Grace before Meals, OR if your company is of mixed religions, substitute the Christian Grace with this: “Blessed are YOU, Source of Life, God known by so many names, help us to experience Joy this Christmas Day and lead all peoples on to the pathway of peace.   Bless all our family and guests.  Bless our Meal and our Conversation. Amen.” 

IV    FIRST COURSE ACTIVITY (soup/salad), and /or Hors D’oeuvres:

  1. Ask: What do you remember about the First Christmas Story?  Include both the Biblical, Legend and Folk tales if you wish.   Begin with the children by number, then adults by number. Everyone gets “help” sharing the Christmas Story as needed.
  2. Conclude First Course by having someone Read Luke 2: 1- 21 and Matthew 2: 1-13

V MAIN COURSE:

  1. ASK: What event or circumstance are most significant for me about Jesus’ story today?
  2. Invite each Guest to share his or her memories of the best Christmas that they have ever experienced and why it is an important memory for him or her. TRY TO KEEP THE MEAL AS LEASURELY AND UN-RUSHED AS POSSILBE.
  3. Any Similarities between Jesus’ story and the Christmas memories shared?

VI   AFTER MEAL BREAK ACTIVITY:  Share Birth Stories during walks & pre-dessert clean ups:

  1. During the break, have all guests recall the story of the day each of them was born.  Allow time for the elders to inform youngsters if they haven’t already. Everyone will be invited to share his or her birth story during desert.

 VII DURING AND AFTER DESERT: Share Birth Stories

  • After each person shares say “As the Angels Sang for Jesus, the Angels Sang for you, too!  Everyone’s part of the story!  Everyone’s part of God’s plan!”
  • Invite Spontaneous Prayer: “For Whom and for What Shall We Pray for this Christmas Day?”
  • Sing “Angels We Have Heard on High –Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

VIIIAFTER DINNER ACTIVITY: Have everyone participate in Clean-Up:

  • Two Teams:  The Kitchen Team verses those who go for walks and/or play in the living room memorizing THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS OR THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS OR LUKE’S GOSPEL CHAPTER 2: 1-20.

IX AFTER DINNER & CLEAN-UP:

  • Together recall all 12 Days of Christmas or ALL the Verses of The Night Before Christmas OR Luke 2: 1-20; Share the story or song together. Which Team Wins?
  • Read one of the many stories and legends about Saint Nicholas

X MORE AFTER DINNER ACTIVITIVITES

  • Gather ‘round a piano and Sing Carols Together
    • Guess each person’s favorite Christmas Album / Cd and Favorite version and vocalist of any Christmas song
    • Have Christmas CDs (Vocalists/ Choirs) and have people sing-a-long.
    • Conclude with Christmas Caroling in the Neighborhood

XI          CHRISTMAS FAREWELL BLESSINGS

Before Farewells or before the first person must leave:

BLESS EACH GUEST individually or collectively: “May the Spirit of Christmas remain in your heart—the joy of life, the gift of family, and angels singing your song as you continue to compose it all the days of your life. May your song(s) give God glory!”

INVITE ALL TO SING “WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS”

PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME with OPTIONAL CHARITABLE COMPONENT TO CHRISTMAS: INVTIE GUESTS TO BRING A SINGLE $ 1. BILL for each member of his or her family or party to participated in a PLEASE & THANK YOU GAME. Designate a charity and let them know what the dollars are for in advance OR have everyone vote on one of two or three choices before Grace (E.G, Catholic Charities for Puerto Rico Relief or Catholic Relief Services or Unicef.) Have some extra $1. bills around for those who forget.). The FIRST TIME anyone forgets to say Please” or “Thank You,” from the beginning of the Meal (after Grace) to end of dinner (i.e. “please pass the potatoes; thank you), he or she gets a WARNING.  The SECOND TIME he or she must surrender their dollar into a basket. Proceeds go to the previously announced charity. At the end of the day, people may contribute the Remaining Dollars or additional $ if they wish to the cause.

BOOKS

Catholic Book of Household Blessings

To Dance with God by Gertrude Mueller Nelson features Great Ideas for Family Rituals & Prayers for Feast Days and Holidays throughout the Year

THE BAKER’S DOZEN story of Saint Nicholas by Aaron Shepherd

Other Resources:

Blessing of Advent Wreathe and Christmas Manger

http://www.ewtn.com/library/LITURGY/adbless.htm

Advent Prayers and Rituals:

http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=1423

Here’s a fascinating article on THE CHERRY TREE CAROL:

Suggestions prepared by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP     Updated                     December  2021

First Sunday of Advent 28 Nov. 2021

By Fr. James DiLuzio C.S.P.

People of the Covenants – Jews and Christians thought the end of the world was upon them when Rome decimated the Great Temple of Jerusalem. Yet, disappointed that Messiah did not arrive, Judaism and Christianity persevered by the grace of God. Jews were saved because of their confidence in God’s faithfulness; Christians, because they believed that through all the turmoil, their Redemption was at hand.

In every age there are signs for us to interpret that engage our faith. In the Great Religious Revivals of the 19th century, many Americans thought an eclipse of the sun would inaugurate a Messianic Age.  By the “Third Great Awakening” from 1850 onward new forms of Christianity emerged: Christian Science, the Mormon Church, Pentecostal Christianity. Within the main line churches, Methodism flourished, and, within Catholicism, the Paulist Fathers were formed.  All were trying their best to address the turmoil of their times:  industrial revolutions, workers’ rights, and a host of other things.  Through it all, the people were determined to stand tall because of their faith in Jesus.  The legacies of their contributions are still with us, especially in a widely held Christian principle: that Christ will return once humanity has reformed the earth, when our surrender to God is complete and the biblical design of peace and harmony are accomplished.  Indeed, Jesus made it very clear that our heavenly goals will not be reached unless we cooperate with Grace to experience a little bit of heaven on earth.  The KINGDOM must be inaugurated before Messiah returns.  Why else would Jesus say “build my kingdom!”

That vision is for every time and place, but it must be rooted. We must always acknowledge the reality of sin—the human proclivity to cause harm. There is an inherent selfishness in humanity.  Jesus always acknowledged that. One of my favorite biblical phrases comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 2, vs 25: “Jesus did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.”  Knowing this, He came to SAVE.  Amazing how his grace is offered to all who choose to hold steadfast to Him.

ADVENT begins a new year, and the signs of our times are offering new opportunities for renewal, for re-commitment to Christ. Humility is key. We must humbly acknowledge we need a Savior! Keeping our sights on Jesus, let us examine some of our most recent trials and see how we can witness to others that this new Church year is a year of grace. 

In September we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. Back then, most of us thought that, after the shock, and hurt, and cries for vengeance, and, after the wars (has any war ever settled all the issues for which it was declared?), we would have settled down, and taken up the cross of peace-making. Instead, in this 21st century, our nation and much of the globe remains infected with hate mongering, scapegoating, and intolerance. Did you know that sociologists have recorded that although wars unite people against a common enemy, when wars are over, domestic violence, gangs, and scapegoating minorities and others increase at alarming rates in peace time economies? Obviously, the revenge against Al-Qaeda and Osama Ben Laden did not satisfy.  That is a sign for our times worthy of our consideration.

 And now, we have lived with almost two years of the Covid epidemic. People of good will prayed and hoped that international cooperation would have been exemplary; that remedies and established protocols would have assured all humanity access to vaccines — a gift of inspiration from our God to the medical community and the world. But that is not the totality of our experience. Although great progress is being made, sin still erupts; controversy ensues. Except for those who because of health issues could not and should not be vaccinated (a small percentage of the population), there were and are people in every nation boycotting wearing masks and refusing vaccines as an expression of their individuality. A very self-serving defiance rooted in a hostile ideology that cares not for neighbors, or elderly, or apparently the young and future generations. Worse, today’s news highlights new covid mutations and pockets of pandemic spread.  Add denial of the human imprint on climate change, and it is clear the mess we are in.

Indeed, one of the worst sins of our age is denial of the sins of the past, which, in a sense, is like saying “We don’t need a Savior. We’re doing perfectly fine for ourselves.” HA! 

To those who say “Stop telling us about the sins of our past. We’re tired of hearing of the rape of the land, violence against the natives, the terrors of slavery, the abuse of children in church and homes, and poverty and all the rest.”  To those people, we must ask, “Do you or do you not value the Bible as Divine Revelation?  If you do, take note: the Bible offers more examples of sin than of glory.  Most of the Bible’s inspiration comes from naming and learning from sin and selfishness, from very human mistakes to outright denial of God and Covenant.

 Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel—shall we expurgate their stories from the text? The Golden Calf and the rebellion of the Israelites –forget it?  Jesus reprimanding James and John for wanting to get special favors; arguments among the Apostles as to which among them shall be treated the greatest – immediately following the Last Supper and the First Eucharist? Yes, better to delete all of that.  Is there nothing to learn from Jesus calling Peter “Satan,” or from Peter’s threefold denial, or the lukewarm, nausea-inducing mediocre seven churches of Revelation?  

         WISDOM comes from Truth –not half-truths.  Conversion comes from humility. Yet, for all this, the Bible’s most foundational message is how much we are loved.  It takes humility to accept that God’s Covenant comes from care; God’s forgiveness reveals loving patience. Jesus’ humanity reveals we are not only fully known, but we are never alone. Jesus understands that most of our sins are rooted in desperation, fears, and ignorance. With love, patience, and understanding –the gifts of faith—Jesus says, follow me, sin no more, and assist others in accepting love.

Advent prepares us to take stock again as to where we have been and where we are going.  Don’t we want to gaze upon the Infant Jesus in the manger and say, “Dear Jesus, I’m learning, I’m growing. Your love is reaching me, teaching me, transforming me.”

Today, all our readings insist that, no matter the era we live in, no matter the strife in our lives, that love is hope for sinful people.  Yes, our Christian faith offers tremendous redress to all that ails us. This Eucharist, this very day, is yet another opportunity for us to surrender to LOVE.  That is God’s will. To accept it, is to accept Jesus, to follow Jesus, who, as Scripture says, “shall do what is right and just in the land” and take us in that same pursuit.  

Advent.  Don’t wait!  Surrender! Our world is waiting to be loved.

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: It is the Beginning, Not the End

14 November 2021

Scripture Readings may be found here: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111421.cfm,

From the beginning of human civilization, there were stories of destruction, annihilation of humans, the ends of world, cataclysm of the cosmos.

An Assyrian Tablet found in Nineveh dating back to 3.200 B.C. reveals the first written prophecy of the end of the world

Gilgamesh, Noah, and the Ark – two of the many Great Flood Myths

Sodom and Gomorrah – fire and brimstone

Myths of the Norse folk – RAGNAROK

The Hebrew Prophets – “on that day” is a common phrase predicting doom and gloom (interestingly, also hope and rejuvenation)

Science Fiction Movies of Today:  Avengers, DUNE, The Eternals! (Do we think these in any way are un-related to the biblical prophet Hebrew prophet Daniel and the Christian Book of Revelation?)

Science informs us that there is a reality to come: 4 to 5 billion years from now our SUN will deplete its supply of hydrogen, helium, and collapse into a white dwarf. No sun – no earth

This should not shock us. Our very notion of life is eternal pattern of life, death, and rebirth is everywhere in evidence. WE KNOW THIS! Everything must change. Everything will change.

So, of course, Jesus engages in these ideas and images as well. For people of faith, these statements should be more SOBERING than surprising.

Every generation has its fears, its challenges, its persecutions, and its calamities. These are the sources for the myths, stories, and the apocalyptic literature of the Bible. They still can give us chills –especially today with the onslaught of global warming and an insistence we look at the human contribution to this more-than-just natural phenomenon. Remember, the global flood myths were rooted in actual floods that wiped out specific regions. For them, it was the end of the world.

For people of FAITH – all these warnings are GOOD THING. They are wake-up calls to HOPE and NEW LIFE. Amidst pain and suffering, our daily human crisis, the realities of violence and sin everywhere:  we have JESUS. Even in today’s Gospel, we have his blessed assurance that death gives way to TRANSFORMATION. He will gather His “elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”

The Jewish people, Christians in biblical times, as NOW, experience hardship, prejudices, conflicts from within our own ranks and from without. Like our biblical ancestors, entering the struggles of our times has an antidote: Faith, Hope, and LOVE.

As prophet Daniel wrote: “But the wise shall shine brightly
    like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
    shall be like the stars forever.”

Why need we be afraid? We know who we are. We know what God has planned for all who pick up the CROSS and “LIVE!”  It is our consecration in virtue, the grace to confess our sins and learn from our mistakes, because God is Compassion. God is forgiveness.

It is the Holy Spirt who gives us courage — courage to take responsibility for our wrongs with conviction for change, rebirth, and renewal. Jesus gives Us HIMSELF in Word and Eucharist and thus dwells in US. So, here we are today, eager for Communion, ready for our infusion of hope and Inspiration to be light for the world. Participate in the Gospel, we have nothing to fear. What we have now will give way to a New Heaven and a New Earth – and it is already in the making. The Holy Spirit of God insists–then, as now, that after all life’s calamities, faith and hope endure, and “the greatest of these is love.”

Homily for the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time — In POINTS!

Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

In Frances Hodgson Burnett’s THE LITTLE PRINCESS

  • Miss Minchin is a hard taskmaster – bullies and demeans young Sarah Crew, assigns her most difficult household duties with no help from other girls in the boarding house
  • Worse: in rare moments of free time with her friends, Sarah emits such joy and wonder of the world around her. Whenever Miss Minchin comes upon her, she stifles all the fun. 
  • Finally, one day, breaking her demure, respectful, demeanor, Sarah Crew cries out, “Why are you so mean? Didn’t anyone ever love you? Had you no parent, no one to treat you with kindness?” 

GOD

  • Too often people think of God as a demanding task master
  • We hear of the Commandments, and we think of all that we must do to live up to them
  • When we are in that mindset, Faith can feel like a chore, a barrier to JOY. No wonder so many young people do not take the time to explore it 
  • They do not understand that the biblical passages of an angry God were just a metaphor for the seriousness of the situations people get themselves in, and the terrible consequences of sin.
  • People do not understand as Saint Irenaeus (a French Bishop of the early 2nd Century) wrote “The Glory of God is every human person fully alive!” 
  • They do not recall what the disciple of the Apostle John wrote in his New Testament Letter to the Church: “God is love, and whoever remains in love, remains in God, and God in him.”
  • This is an extraordinary proclamation. It goes further than the biblical statements that affirm “God is ‘loving. “GOD IS LOVE.”  (1 JOHN 4) represents a tremendous spiritual development. It cries out to us today as the true underpinnings of the Ten Commandments. 
  •  The more we allow “GOD IS LOVE” –and God CERTAINLY IS as manifested and revealed by Jesus –TO PERMEATE OUR CONSCIENCES, OUR INTELLECT, OUR HEARTS, THE MORE WE BEGIN TO LIVE, because this love is more than a feeling, far greater than any human emotion or sentiment. It is a deep reality- high as the heavens and deep as the sea. 
  • When we are steadfast, secure, and cemented in a foundation of GODLOVE, the Commandments and the Sacraments make more sense. They are not tasks to perform, they are not “holy obligations:” but expressions of GRATITIUDE to God, to Jesus—for the Holy Spirit within and around us. We have come today for gratitude. YES, we may feel distracted, chagrined, impartial to our choice of being here today. Nevertheless, we made the choice for LOVE. Dwell in that love NOW. Allow gratitude to take root. 
  • This week I invite you to take out a photo of yourself from your infancy or childhood – a photo in which JOY is evident in you. Ponder how that JOY is part of GOD, and how God expresses LOVE for you –past, present, and future (whether you are conscious of it or not.)
  • Place the photo on your night table, or in your office, or in your prayer nook, or fix it in your mind throughout your day, and pray with it, give thanks to God for it, for YOU. Let NO ONE TAKE THAT FROM YOU. No matter another person’s state of mind, no matter his or her inappropriate, disrespectful, hurtful behavior. No matter the imperfection of their love. Concretized in GOD LOVE, miracles happen – it becomes fascinatingly easier to see GODLOVE in and for another. Allow that photo of you to imagine a comparable photo of them. See if that reforms the situation, see if your feelings change. 
  • As Saint Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:39): Nothing separates us “from the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ.”  We must not let others separate us from GODLOVE reality. Indeed, NO! We may, however, bring GODLOVE to them. 
  • “Thank you GODLOVE! Make us trust in You always for YOU LOVED US FIRST! In Love, You created us. In Love we are sustained. In love, we hope. In love, we forgive because we forever are forgiven. In Love, we truly LIVE! I believe that warrants a life of thanksgiving. Do you? 

FYI: Four Kinds of Love in Greek

Erōs
(GREEK: ἔρως) Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.
Philia
(GREEK: φɩλία) Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family, and community, requiring virtue, equality, and familiarity.
Storgē
(GREEK: στοργή) Familial love; affection; natural empathy for one’s family, country, or team.
Agapē
(GREEK: ἀγάπη) Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; charity; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for humankind and humankind’s love for a good God and for others. 

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

Readings: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20, Ps 54:3-4, 5, 6 and 8, James 3:16—4:3 and The Gospel of Mark 9:30-37

Everyone wants to be the best he or she can be. Everyone likes to come out on top, beat the competition, wind the medal. It’s so human! Yet Jesus chastises his disciples who want to be “the greatest.” He does so because so often “Be our best” degenerates into “Be THE best,” and with that comes a loss of our common humanity.  Jesus offers a solution to such bravado asking us to return to our childhood innocence.  

We may think only contemporary culture is excessively competitive, filled with rancor. Not so!  Were not Jesus’ disciples arguing for First Place–discontent to be one among many, to share and share alike? In every generation, people desire to be the best they can be, the greatest among top competitors. We want respect. We fantasize fame.  Christians are no exception. 

Admirable as these goals may be, Jesus knew that within those perfectly human goals of popularity and renown, there lurks in the shadows of our psyches, a penchant to take offense at another’s accomplishments, to allow our insecurities to feed resentment. We may even desire another’s downfall or find our imagination wickedly planning their demise.

The words from the Book of Wisdom must give us pause:  12Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us. 13He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. 14 To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,”

 “Child of the Lord,” is the biblical phrase of one who accepts God’s sovereignty, confident in who he or she is, one so rooted in God’s love, grateful for what she has. A child of the Lord does not brood over what he is not.  People long for that kind of peace and often resent those who have it. No surprise that resentment is often the source of conflict within and among families, colleagues, neighbors, parishioners – everyone.

From Cain’s murder of his brother Abel to the Crucifixion of Jesus, the sin of envy, resentment in another’s accomplishment and wellbeing is in rampant evidence in human history, literature and even in our everyday experiences.

Jesus says, “STOP!” Be as you were an innocent child!  Recapture the times in your youth when you were eager for everyone to succeed, everyone to get a prize, a gift, a hug, approval!  (Everyone must have felt that at some point, even if all we remember are our sibling rivalries. Who, after all, wasn’t in some way or other in competition for our parent’s admiration?) We all need acceptance. Acceptance. We may not feel we achieved that, but faith assures us GOD ACCEPTS US even with ours sins and failings.  Unconditional surrender to God brings experiences of God’s unconditional love. It is that simple!  Want to be seeped in serenity, more confident, with a stronger ability forbear life’s difficulties? Surrender to God. That’s the foundation of the kingdom.

Look to Jesus.  Jesus experienced that kind of heaven on earth. He was rooted in an unbreakable, fully sustainable, intimacy with God the Father. It gave him astounding inner peace.  We must remind ourselves the earthly Jesus had qualities every Christian strives for: fortitude, skill in debate, honesty in every endeavor, compassion, strength to challenge the commonplace, a healthy abhorrence of passivity in the face of injustice in Church and State.  We should all know by now that what often sounds like judgment and condemnation from Jesus, was, in fact, an open invitation to move beyond human shadow and come into the Kingdom’s light. This is who Jesus was and is, and his invitation still stands.

Today, and every day, Jesus invites us to ask, “Who is the true source of my confidence, my strengths, my ability to love and be loved? Will I allow the Christ to keep me in a child-like eagerness to be good, to share, to compete with my gifts in ways that do not devalue others or crush their spirits?  How may my honesty allow me to be vulnerable and sensitive to another’s frailties because of my faith in Jesus–the source of all that is good in me and everyone else?” Remember, all good things are contagious.  As we allow ourselves to be more honest, vulnerable, and sensitive with others, they are more likely to open up to us in the same way.   That is living in the Kingdom, where everyone has something to gain, and nothing to lose.  Gracious winners and Gracious losers – it doesn’t matter which, for it’s the loving of the life, celebrating God’s love.

We might enjoy lots of drama in our books and entertainment, in sports and in the news. Indeed, there is a little bit of Cain in everyone; a bit of the crowd yelling, “Crucify him,” in every faithful Catholic. Yet, deep within, is a more authentic desire for peace; hope that resentments will fade away, and we find ourselves laughing at our own frailties, inviting others to do the same. May our communion with Jesus be enough for us today and every day to be Christ to one another. 

Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

By Father James DiLuzio CSP

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 4-5

James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27 Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-2

During my 6 years as Associate Pastor in a parish in Los Angeles, I had the privilege of being chaplain to 4 pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  The experiences provided me with numerous Spiritual Highs. I was filled with a deeper conviction of my faith–our faith–and a liberating joy. Even when we entered Gethsemane and stood on the places of sorrow and recalled Jesus’ and the Blessed Mother’s agonies and pains, the pilgrims and I meditated on the tragic aspects of sin and Christ’s sacrifice with a foundational hope.  What we discovered, in a new, visceral way, was that as we engaged ourselves in the Holy Family’s sorrows, we more readily united our personal sorrows with those of others.  Stories of sadness and hurts surfaced among us, and as we attended to each one, we found ourselves released from our own hurts, disappointments, fears, and disappointments. Christ was with us.  On the Mount of Olives, or on the meadows where Jesus preached, Compassion overwhelmed us and engaged us in Resurrection experiences –the foundation of our Christian faith.

I need to remind myself of these Holy Land experiences, for now, some 20 years ago, I can detach from those feelings and insights all too readily.  Time and time again I find myself struggling with the Paschal Mystery. 

When Jesus ridicules the religious leaders for rote observance of laws and rituals, for not having conversion of heart, there are times I see myself as one of those Scribes and Pharisees.  It’s not all so bad, this identification.  I imagine they were struggling with the same inner tension so many of us have -conflicts between engaging in outward signs and not always feeling the intellectual and emotional commitment to worship. Am I giving of my true self—in all that I am and am not—as an offering to God, a genuine gift of thanksgiving for my very life? We subsist in God’s life, no other. Our Sacraments engage us in outward signs, yes!  Yet they offer something more: active participation in the life of Jesus and the Apostles. Woe to all when our participation becomes an empty ritual, devoid of conversion of heart. Confident in God’s compassion and infinite patience with us, we must have the courage to be honest that we are not worthy, but we are loved. Who among us isn’t guilty of some aspect of hypocrisy when walking the path of LOVE?    

Moses was recorded in Deuteronomy saying, “Observe (the Laws, the Covenant) carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people,” Today, let’s face it “the nations could care less what we do, what we believe,” for the world is exceedingly secular and humanistic. Clearly, our society is most attentive to signs of our sins and is quick to call out “hypocrisy!”  We have no control over the ways people perceive us as people of faith. We know we cannot be compassionate 24 – 7.  Nevertheless, we are called to public witness.

In the end, the greatest gauge of true faith are not our rituals or prayer practices but our embodying the 2 Great Commandments: “Love God, Love Self (not because of our family tree, our personal talents, and accomplishments but) because each of us are part of God’s design, God’s plan for the generation in which we live — Destined to find our fulfillment in loving others.” It always comes down to that. As disciples of Jesus, Our Lord, it must always come down to that.

As we strive for sincere hearts of faith, genuine commitment to participation in Christ, the true sacrament, we must “Pick up the Cross,” and, essentially, that Cross is The Golden Rule. Ask, “What do I really want from each and every other person in my life?”— Understanding, respect, loyalty, compassion, acceptance?   Well, then, offer each and everyone what we ourselves need. If not, we’re prone to all the dark, inner resentments, the ugly desires Jesus enumerates in Matthew’s Gospel—greed, malice, envy, and the like.

I consulted the Paulist Biblical Commentary on today’s readings, and I found this: “In the Biblical Tradition, the heart is the center of a person’s life, the seat of actions and emotion, (the seat of human) will, and thoughts, and conscience . . .  The heart is the determining factor in one’s standing before God.” 

So, to respond to what we’ve heard today, may we continually pray, “Change our hearts, Lord, change our hearts! Bless us with an ever-deepening conversion.  Ground us in pure and sincere worship, so that your Divine Heart, will secure for us all the joys of faith, in good times and in bad times, for ourselves and for others.  Oh, // Lord, Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us, for we are sinners. // May this humble, honest prayer (modeled for us by Saint Matthew, the tax collector) bring us all to Life, to God, to the Resurrection and all the promises of Christ.”

Consider Faith in God

This article by Ross Douthat MUST BE READ by anyone who engages in questions about God — no matter your religion or struggle with faith in a God who willed Creation into being. So engaging! So beautifully, logically and amazingly articulated! WOW. I welcome all Comments and subsequent Conversation on this piece! God bless!

HOMILY on the ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY 2021

By Father James DiLuzio C.S.P.

I enjoin you today to contemplate with me the beauty of this weekend’s commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption beginning with this recent quote from Bishop Robert Barron’s writings.  Bishop Baron is an Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Director of WORD ON FIRE ministries.

“When we speak of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother’s body, we are not envisioning a journey through space, as though Mary moved up into the sky. The “heavens” are a rich and consistent biblical symbol for the transcendent, for a manner of existence that lies beyond our familiar dimensions of space and time.

He goes on to say: “The Assumption of Mary means that the Blessed Mother was “translated,” in the totality of her being –

This means she achieved the fullness to which God intends for all humanity –imaged in the Resurrected Body of Jesus Christ –a complete unity of body, soul, and spirit free from all the limitations of biology and physics as we know it. 

Bishop Baron goes on to write that this fulfillment is what we mean when we use the term “heaven.”

He explains further: “Mary, who exists now in this other world, is not so much somewhere else as somehow else, and this helps to explain why we can speak of her, especially in her heavenly state, interceding, helping us, and praying for us and with us.”

Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language.  This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist.  In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what Saint Thomas Aquinas said long before him. Not surprisingly, Pope Emeritus Benedict and our current Pope Francis affirm the same.

In this way, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is inviting us to expand our minds and imaginations and our prayer life with more mystical dimensions, allowing us to become more comfortable with MYSTERY – a primary component of what it means to have a MATURE faith.  

Such Mystical Mystery concepts confirm our communion with all the Saints and all people of faith and goodwill who have gone before us.  The Feast of the Assumption of Mary, All Saints, All Souls, and all the Saints Days give us the assurance that we can, in fact, pray with them and ask for their intercession with God because we are united with them in Christ Jesus, all part of His One, Mystical Body.

We who are Jesus’ disciples have the significant privilege to know and embrace a foundational Christian truth – that through the Holy Spirit CHRIST is extensive, expanding His Essence from Age to Age in people of faith that whether we may deem people as “living “or “deceased,” all are and always shall remain alive. 

Therefore, although we use the language of metaphor to engage our imaginations to try and capture a bit of the profound mystery Jesus’ Resurrection and Mary’s Assumption and the promise of Eternal Life, our faith and our ongoing reception of the Sacraments confirm this reality.  Furthermore, today’s Feast reminds us that Mary is the first great and magnificent disciple leading the way promised to all who live by the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Beatitudes.

Thus, to pray to Blessed Mary is to pray to CHRIST in her –who not only held the Christ in her womb and in her arms but who lived the WORD OF GOD as Scripture says, as Jesus said, and thus epitomizes Christ LIFE in all of us, just as the Eucharist instills in us not only a consciousness, an image but a deep reality that we are continually being transformed into a CHRIST extension, if you will, in our place and our time.

It’s time we confirmed once again the essential connection between the Eucharist, JESUS and Mary and the Saints because they manifest for us what we are — a priesthood of all believers destined for a new reality which Scripture calls “A New Heaven and a New Earth.”   Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is within us, Christ is among us, Christ inspires us to full cooperation with Him.  Applying His Will, God’s Will, to our hopes, dreams, and goals, just as Mary did, we will join Mary in the pattern of Resurrection Transformation that Jesus set for all.  Thus, Mary’s Feasts are our celebrations of Christ in Us, too. Mary lived the reality of heaven in her life and remains in that heavenly peace now and forever.  So, too, may we!