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.

Controversies in Conversation

An Invitation to Share Our Beliefs

Here I invite us to an Unofficial Dialogue so that we may share with one another:

  1. Our understandings of what our Faith Traditions teach or Philosophies Uphold
    1. (Please Provide Sources)
  2. Our Personal thoughts and Feelings about what our traditions teach or Philosophies uphold
  3. What We Personally Believe with Respect and Reverence for one another and respect for our respective institutions.

True Multi-Faith Dialogue invites us to clarify for one another our respective Tradition’s beliefs and moral codes, and share our own responses to those doctrines and/or sensibilities — however, UNCOMFORTABLE this may be for each of us. But I trust all who are committed to multi-faith dialogue are willing to share our perspectives without rancor, but instead, respect the ways the human heart and brain function as infused with each person’s particular faith, culture, and perspectives on personal autonomy. Therefore, in response to the recent United States Supreme Court Decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, I invite you to offer your Faith or Denominations’ perspectives on Right to Life and Abortion. (I have begun to compile a SAMPLE of the various religious institutions’ and their representatives’ statements on the Court’s decision, and I welcome you to add your statements in comments there as well. See the item entitled SAMPLE OF RELIGIOUS STATEMENTS that will soon be another post in this blog.) Let’s give a civil conversation a try! 

I will start us off with my explanation of the Roman Catholic position contextualized with my personal understanding of why this topic remains a difficult one.

A Humble Attempt at a Catholic Explanation of The Right to Life from the Moment of Conception

Presented by Rev. James M. DiLuzio CSP (A Catholic priest –not a formal Catholic Theologian, Ethicist, or Official Spokesman)

The Catholic Church upholds the belief that human life begins at conception and therefore society must protect it. Not all Christian churches agree. Not all Faith Traditions agree.  Part of the issue’s complexity is rooted in the different foundational premises people have as they enter the abortion debate. Generally, Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Pentecostal Christians start with life in the womb. Protestants, and other faiths often, but not always, start with each woman’s right to bodily integrity. While the former groups insist a woman’s “right to choose” begins and ends with her decision to engage in sexual intercourse along with her choices regarding family planning and contraception, the latter groups extend each woman’s rights of self-determination to any point including her pregnancy be it wanted or unwanted.  Some traditions limit the designation of “the right to choose” as “a moral choice” to specific stages in pregnancy.

In the hope of maintaining focus, I invite us to take one premise at a time. Therefore, in this first piece I will offer my best expression of the Roman Catholic beliefs regarding the life in utero.  

# 2270: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his (sic) existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. (Source: CDF — Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith document Donum vitae) [1]

       Biblical References: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.”  (Jeremiah 1: 5)    “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139: 15)  [2]

# 2271: Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed whether as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:   “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”[3]

       “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men (sic) the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”[4]

Science classifies many stages in the conception process. Let us first look at the natural process of conception and growth along with Catholic catechetical statements printed in BOLD.

My first source Fetal development: MonthByMonth Stages of Pregnancy (clevelandclinic.org):  “(An) Ova / female gamete is fertilized by male sperm in the fallopian tube of a woman’s ovaries. At the moment of fertilization, your baby’s genetic make-up is complete, including its sex. A fertilized ova is classified as a zygote.”                                                                       

# 364: “The human body shares in the dignity of ‘the image of God’: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit. [5]

# 365: “The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the ‘form’ of the body: [6] i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body, spirit, and matter, in man (sic), are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.”

This last statement that the soul and material body are inseparable, makes the Catholic sensibility that God, The Creator, infuses the immortal soul as sperm and ovum together create a zygote more tenable. Of course, the moment of ensoulment is unverifiable. As far as I know, neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any Christian denomination or Faith offers as an Institutional Body, any pronouncement, dogmatic or otherwise, as to exactly when God infuses the immortal soul in the human person in the womb. Truly there is mystery here.7 But, again, this fact does not mitigate the Catholic position that life begins at conception, and that humanity must respect every child’s right to develop and prosper. 

For the complete Catholic position with reference to ensoulment, here is the statement from the Pontifical DECLARATION ON PROCURED ABORTION from Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on June 28, 1974

“It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: 

  • supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed,
  • on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.”[7]

Let us return to what information Science gives us: 

“Within 24 hours after fertilization, the egg begins rapidly dividing into many cells. It remains in the fallopian tube for about three days after conception.   

“Within 24 hours after fertilization, the egg begins rapidly dividing into many cells. It remains in the fallopian tube for about three days after conception.  

The cell of the zygote continuously divides, eventually forming a hollow ball of cells called the blastocyst. . . . The blastocyte continues to divide as it passes slowly through the fallopian tube to the uterus. The blastocyst stays in their uterus for several days before it implants in the inner lining of their uterine wall (endometrium). It continues to make new cells, which separate into layers.” [8]

Now some proponents of abortion and abortive contraception (those that prevent a fertilized ova to attach to the uterus wall) is morally justifiable because, in the natural course of events, attachment of blastocyte to uterus occurs as infrequently as 30% of the time.[9] However, Catholicism insists there is a marked difference between what occurs in nature and what the human person “wills.” Human “Will” is subject to moral and ethical evaluation, and these are based on Biblical and Church Tradition norms. 

My Now let’s bring this science segment to its conclusion by returning to my First Source:  Fetal development: Month-By-Month Stages of Pregnancy (clevelandclinic.org)

“In these first few weeks, a primitive face will take form with large dark circles for eyes. The mouth, lower jaw and throat are developing. Blood cells are taking shape, and circulation will begin. The tiny “heart” tube will beat sixty-five times a minute by the end of the fourth week.”

 And so it is that the Roman Catholic Church finds support of its teachings on when human life begins in the way science documents each body’s distinctiveness at the onset of gestation and its evolving readiness to exist beyond the confines of the womb. Nevertheless, Roman and Eastern Rite Catholic Churches, Orthodox Christian Churches and other Christian denominations have failed to convince society of the validity of this belief. Therefore, the conversation on human life, abortion and all the related issues of human sexuality and responsibility, maternity and paternity, women’s and men’s health and dignity, remains open. Of course, for all of this, the health and safety of pregnant women remains paramount. See Appendix B as an introduction to that essential topic. 

And, for all this, it is time to insist our nation provides greater resources for families, fathers, mothers, and children– far more than our government currently provides. We must also consider the number of single parent families, and of grandparents raising grandchildren, absent fathers, and all the realities of people not taking joint responsibility for their children.

If the choice for abortion is to become truly “rare,” Americans must reclaim our responsibility to form healthy families. Sure, this will mean government programs and higher taxes, but taxes put to this purpose will strengthen our society now and for the future. Time for a New “New Deal.”  I invite you to read my MODEST PROPOSAL To Eliminate and/or Greatly Reduce the Need for Abortion. Go to: https://frjamesdiluzio.com/2022/07/05/a-modest-proposal/

As always, All Comments Welcome! 

PS: I found this article presenting Islam’s view of When Does a Human Life Become Human by Hamza Yusuf is a leading proponent of classical learning in Islam. He cites “Do not sever the bonds of the womb.” – Qur’an 4:1 and. Do not kill your children from fear of poverty. – Qur’an 17:31. Go to: https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/

Father James DiLuzio is a Paulist Father and Director of the Paulist Office for Ecumenical and Multi-Faith Relations centered in New York. APPENDICES to this article appear on the following pages.

APPENDIX A

Biblical Quotations Used in Pro-Life & Pro-Choice Debates

A Conflict in Christian Interpretations. (New American Bible, Revised Edition NABRE)

The Call of the Prophets:

These passages are open to debate: Were these conceptions a priori in the mind of God bestowed on the prophets alone or everyone?  Is ensoulment the same as to “be filled with the holy Spirit?” The Roman Catholic position is that these passages refer to every human being (in part via Psalm 139 cited below); other denominations disagree.

Call of Jeremiah 1: 4-7

  • The word of the LORD came to me:
  • Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
  • before you were born, I dedicated you,
  • a prophet to the nations I appointed you. 

Isaiah 49: The Servant of the Lord[a]

1 Hear me, coastlands, listen, distant peoples. Before birth the LORD called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. 

Psalm 139: 13-16

13 You formed my inmost being;
    you knit me in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
    wonderful are your works!
    My very self you know.
15 My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
    fashioned in the depths of the earth.[e]
16 Your eyes saw me unformed;
    in your book all are written down;
    my days were shaped, before one came to be.

Deuterocanonical Book of Sirach 49: 7

(aka Ben Sira and Ecclesiasticus 49:7)

As foretold by Jeremiah. They mistreated him
    who even in the womb had been made a prophet . . .

Deuterocanonical Book of Sirach 50: 1, 22 ff. Simeon, Son of Jochanan

Greatest of his family, the glory of his people,
    was Simeon the priest, son of Jochanan,[a]
In whose time the house of God was renovated,
    in whose days the temple was reinforced . . .

22 And now, bless the God of all,[b]
    who has done wonders on earth;
Who fosters growth from the womb,
    fashioning it according to his will!

23 May he grant you a wise heart
    and abide with you in peace;
24 May his goodness toward Simeon last forever;
    may he fulfill for him the covenant with Phinehas
So that it may not be abrogated for him
    or his descendants while the heavens last.

Luke 1: 13-15 The Announcement of the Conception of John the Baptist  13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid,[e]Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.[f] He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, 16 and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 

The Annunciation

PURPOSEFULNESS PRIOR TO CONCEPTION Luke 1: 30-33

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,[k] and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

The Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians 1: 15-16

 15 But when [God], who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles,

Ambiguity in Texts:  Exodus 21: 12 – 15 and 22 -23 

Personal Injury. 12 [e]Whoever strikes someone a mortal blow must be put to death. 13 However, regarding the one who did not hunt another down, but God caused death to happen by his hand, I will set apart for you a place to which that one may flee. 14 But when someone kills a neighbor after maliciously scheming to do so, you must take him even from my altar and put him to death. 15 Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death[10]

22 [h]When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. 23 But if injury ensues, you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Taken together, these passages imply that the biblical authors did not judge life in utero as equal to that of a human living beyond the womb. The penalty for a homicide was death, but the recompense for an injured pregnant woman who miscarried is merely a fine. Some people cite these texts to justify their belief that a child in utero is not yet a human being. However, note that the biblical text refers to an accident toward a bystander, not a willful attack on a person as in the case of the adversarial men. The Scriptures do not address a violent act against a pregnant woman who subsequently miscarries here or elsewhere. Therefore, the assumption of the lesser value of the child in utero is a false one.

APPENDIX B 

RELATED ISSUES: 

“Saving the Life of a Mother in Crisis Pregnancies”

Here is a brief look at the Catholic understanding in assessing crisis situations in which both the life of a mother and the child in utero are in jeopardy. 

Catholic Moral Teaching insists that all medical means are permissible in saving a woman’s life providing one does not willfully intend to terminate the life of a child in utero. 

“The Principle of Double Effect in the Church’s moral tradition teaches that one may perform a good action even if it is foreseen that a bad effect will arise only if four conditions are met: 1) The act itself must be good. 2) The only thing that one can intend is the good act, not the foreseen but unintended bad effect. 3) The good effect cannot arise from the bad effect; otherwise, one would do evil to achieve good. 4) The unintended but foreseen bad effect cannot be disproportionate to the good being performed.

This principle has been applied to many cases in health care, always respecting the most fundamental moral principle of medical ethics,primum non nocere, “first, do no harm.”

Source: Clarifying ‘Double Effect’ (catholiceducation.org)

See Also: https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/principle-double-effect-and-proportionate-reason/2007-05

For Additional Reflection on Catholicism’s perspective in response to the American LIBERTY issue, see Jesuit magazine AMERICA’s article written by Father Sam Sawyer, S.J. 

I support overturning Roe. But pro-lifers need to understand why so many Americans fear this decision. | America Magazine. https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2022/05/06/roe-wade-overturn-fear-242941

Don’t have time to read the article?  Here’s the essence of it cited from Fr. Sawyer’s closing remarks: 

“The pro-life movement has frequently been co-opted for other political goals and often happily colluded in them; politicians have used the lives of the unborn as moral cover for ignoring other calls for justice and to protect the common good. Many defenders of Roe v. Wade, meanwhile, have obscured and evaded the moral question about when life begins and what duties we owe to unborn children. Our country has, as a consequence of all these failures, not offered women a better choice than abortion, while it has accepted the lie that autonomy and freedom can only be guaranteed by the option to destroy an innocent life. “

See the following Survey on American Opinions: Most Americans believe unborn children have rights; poll shows (aleteia.org)

See the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Supreme Court Ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: https://www.usccb.org/news/2022/bishop-chairman-responds-executive-order-abortion-access

See this Official Statement by the Catholic Bishops of New York State: BishopsStatement-Dobbs2022.pdf (archny.org)

As Pope Francis asked ‘“I ask: ‘Is it licit, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?’ It’s a human life, that’s science,” the pope said. “The moral question is whether it is right to take a human life to solve a problem,

Here’s a bit of SEX EDUCATION available right now from the New York Times that can clarify facts to be used in the dialogue. .


[1] Donum Vitae is the “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation” which was issued on February 22, 1987, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It addresses biomedical issues from the Roman Catholic Church ‘s perspective. See: Instruction on respect for human life (vatican.va)

[2] Additional Biblical References on the Life in the Womb appear in an APPENDIX A at the end of this article.

[3] The Didache 2:2 See: Didache Wikiwand and other Church sources

[4] GS 51 S. 3 Gaudium et spes See: Gaudium et spes (vatican.va)

[5] GS 14 s 1  See : Gaudium et spes (vatican.va)

[6] Council of Vienne (1312) document (DS 902 – “DS”) is The Enchiridion (full title: Enchiridion symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de rebus fidei et morum). It is a compendium of all the basic texts on Catholic dogma   and morality since the Apostolic Age. It has been in use since 1854 and has been regularly updated since. It is sometimes referred to as Denzinger, after its first editor, Heinrich Joseph Dominicus Denzinger. 7 Catholic attempts to bring in Thomas Aquinas’ writings on this issue prove inadequate as Aquinas utilized Aristotle’s philosophies in conjunction with all the limitations of Medieval Science. With an understanding that, once conceived, a human being’s essence must go through stages from a vegetable, unanimated state, to an animal stage, and ultimately, a human state, he envisioned ensoulment to take place somewhere between to 40 to 80 days beyond conception) See St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 12251274) | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia (asu.edu) and What Did St. Thomas Aquinas Believe about “Ensoulment?” | Catholic Answers  and Declaration on procured abortion, 18 November 1974 (vatican.va)

[7] Declaration on procured abortion, 18 November 1974 (vatican.va)        

[8] Fetal development: MonthByMonth Stages of Pregnancy (clevelandclinic.org)

[9] Natural human embryo mortality is high, particularly during the first weeks after fertilization, with total prenatal losses of 70% and higher frequently claimed. See: Early embryo mortality in natural human reproduction: What the data say PMC (nih.gov)

[10] The verb used most often signifies a violent, sometimes deadly, attack. The severe penalty assigned is intended to safeguard the integrity of the family.

A Modest Proposal:

What Society Owes its Citizens in Order to Eliminate or Greatly Reduce the Desire or Need for Abortion

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NOW IS THE TIME for MORE Conversation and Debate on the Role of Religious and Educational Institutions, Behavioral Sciences, Businesses, and Society-at-Large Regarding:

  • Advancing SOCIETY’S RESPONSIBILITY toward Families including Universal Health Care that includes Subsidies for 
    • Pre-Pregnancy, Pregnancy, and Post-partem Health Care for All Regardless of Economic and Marital Status and Sexual Orientation
    • Expanding WIC (Women, Infants and Children) programs for All Single Parents, Male and Female
    • Paid Maternity and Paternity Leave for all Parents. I suggest we follow the European Model of Six Months or MORE as bonding is an essential dynamic for raising healthy children.
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  • Universal, Professional Child Day Care for infants and children of all Working Women and Men whether he or she works inside or outside of the home.
  • Greater Public Educational Offerings in Parenting, Child Care and Child Development especially in High Schools and GED Programs.
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  • Expanding Education K through Twelve to offer
    • Age-Appropriate Classes in All Schools on HOW TO BE A HEALTHY FAMILY, including such items as
      • Healthy Expressions of Anger
      • Ways to address fears, insecurities
      • Age-appropriate forms of Affection
      • Conflict Resolution
      • Healthy Diets
      • Home Economics
      • Ethics and in Health and Sexual Education including: The Psychology of Sexual drives, thought, feelings and decision-making
      • In-depth understanding of layers of social pressures regarding sexual expression  
      • Clarity and Specificity in situations when individuals reject sexual overtures
    • Expanding After-School Programs in Visual Arts, Crafts, Music, Theatre, and Sciences, especially where local school systems cannot afford such essential needs to healthy human development
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  • Sponsoring Ongoing Local, State, and National PUBLIC FORUMS to Develop a Consensus on Universal Guidelines (NOT LEGISLATION) for Promoting Co-Responsibility for Sexual Activity and its Consequences for both Men and Women. Special attention must be given to educate men in proper attitudes toward women as equals and co-partners in mutually agreed upon relationships including clarification of all of Men’s moral / social responsibilities toward their partners before, during and after their partners become pregnant.
  • These PUBLIC FORUMS should include representatives from all faith traditions, experts in Behavioral Sciences, Sociologists, Economics and more. Our nation needs to cultivate greater awareness of the consequences of our actions, the complex needs families have, and the family’s impact on society.
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  • Compare and Contrast Various Religious, Humanist, Philosophical, and Psychological approaches regarding sexual activity in human relationships (Inviting Multi-faith and Secular Perspectives) Amplifying and/or modifying these norms for Teenagers and their parents. Teenagers need to be much better informed of the dynamics of their changing bodies and all the associated feelings and drives. Psychology reminds us the human brain does not have all of its full adult capacities until age 25! Teenagers and parents need lots more information! See https://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/02/18/at-what-age-is-the-brain-fully-developed/
  • Commission and Popularize Psychological Studies of psychological and emotional impact on sexual activity and abstinenceInside and outside of Marriage for
    • Inside and Outside of Marriage
    • On Teenagers
    • On College Students
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  • New Dialogues with Medical Professionals and Behavioral Scientists with Religious Institutions on Sexual Behaviors and Psychology, including the mental and emotional dynamics of Access to, and use of Non-Abortive Forms of Contraception.
    • Special Attention to Conversations with Religious Institutions Opposed to All Forms of Artificial Contraception, especially those like the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention, among many others,, that ask all single individuals to abstain from sexual activity until marriage. Everyone could benefit by exploring further the many spiritual, psychological, and emotional dynamics of this prescription. 
  • Public Health and Safety Service Announcements as to the Best Non-Abortive Forms of Birth Control for those whose faith and ethics permit them. Churches and Other Religious Institutions could offer their exemptions / rejections such as “The Roman Catholic Church finds these forms of artificial birth control morally objectionable.”
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Here’s a bit of SEX EDUCATION available right now from the New York Times.

REFLECTING ON THE TRINITY

A Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

Holy Trinity Sunday, 11 June 2022

Blessings on this TRINITY SUNDAY: Three Persons in ONE GOD. Did you know that from ancient times, the number THREE was associated with perfection and mystery?  How fitting then to understand God in this way for the number THREE is evidenced deep in our collective conscious and unconscious selves. No surprise that we are made up of ATOMS — the smallest unity of ordinary matter, comprises three elements: neutrons, protons, and electrons. What’s more, we like to count in Threes. We speak of births and deaths in threes. Three times Four gives us TWELVE , we find an expansion of three that has tremendous connotations for FUTURE and HOPE: just as the 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles extended God’s Covenant each in their own way, to all the world. And, of course, three times eleven gives us Thirty-three –the traditional age of Jesus when his LIFE culminated in his Crucifixion and Resurrection. 

Should it be any wonder that Christians came to read the Hebrew scriptures and Christian Testaments identifying significant references to the concept of Three in understanding the centrality of relationship as the very heart of God.  Recall: the three angels / visitors to Abraham and Sarah in Mamre that confirmed God’s promise of children to the elderly couple. And, in fulfillment of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection came the realities of a new life because of a Trinitarian  Baptism Formula as Jesus said to his disciples: Matthew 28: 19 Go, therefore,[l] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.” Most importantly, we hear the relationship of the Trinity in the following scripture passages when Jesus is remembered as saying:

Gospel of John 10: 36:The Father and I are one.”   AND that this oneness is extended to all through the Holy Spirit:

Gospel of John 14: 26:  The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name —

Gospel of John 17: 21 so that they may all be one, AS you,    Father,  are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

So, we came to understand ONE GOD, whose ONENESS comprises  a UNITY of THREE:  

Today’s liturgical readings give us further understanding of who the Holy Spirit is. From Proverbs’ Poem of WISDOM, we heard  “  from of old I was poured forth  at the first.. . . . . “When the Lord established the heavens, I was there, I was his delight day by day,. . . .and I found delight in the human race.”  AND from Romans 5:“because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

But we not only find references to the Trinity in Scripture, but in our very selves, the Triune God is imprinted in us. We may look at aspects of our humanity to understand the Mystery of the Trinity because Scripture itself invites us to:  

Genesis 1:27. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.

Colossians 1:15  The Preeminence of Christ : He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Romans 8:11If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Wisdom 2:23 For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us.

Now place these Scriptures in conversation with this quote from Pope Saint John Paul II from his book ON THE THRESHOLD OF HOPE:  “The Search for God and the Search for one’s True Self are one in the same search.” So, let’s examen the three-fold personhood in us to help us embrace the Mystery of the Triune God more fully.

God is WILL, and God gave us a Will . God used God’s will to CREATE, and God invites us to willfully create either through procreation, or if we choose religious life, single life, or are unable to bring forth children, to nonetheless create using our minds and talents to honor God and serve others. WILL AND CREATIVITY ARE ONE IN GOD’S ESSENCE and so in our humanity, we offer an image of GOD THE FATHER. But God is more than will and creativity, and so are we more. Infants, for example, seem to manifest will and will alone (Feed me, comfort me, clean me up), yet within them is far more –the more just needs more time to manifest itself.  Therefore, in the image of God, we are Will and more than will, and, so, too, is our God. 

The Second Person of the Trinity in God is WORD, a LOVING WORD expressed through Christ.  Humans are meant for LANGUAGE, the expression of mind and will that reaches out to fellow creatures, and communicates meaning with an invitation to connect, to relate, to befriend fellow human beings.  “IN the Beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became Flesh and Dwelt among us.” And Christ dwelt among us to manifest LOVE and make all our communication and the resulting relationships LOVING.  Thus, Language, when used properly, keeps us in the image of God as are words unite us to our fellow human beings.  

When we speak and connect to others, we add to our personhood in such a way that we become distinct from our mere will and creative selves.  We sometime feel as if we are a different person than what we conceive in our minds because of the friends we make, the company we keep. Thus united, we remain ourselves, but become more than ourselves, just as when God Incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth God was an enfleshed God, a unique “other,”  yet so intimately unified as to be ONE –GOD AND CHRIST TO BE INSEPERABLE.  

Now let’s look at how we may reflect the third person of the Trinity.  We all know that God is spirit, but more than just “a spirit,” because in the person of the Holy Spirit, God is driving force for ACTION, for DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP with the world.  This Spirit is not self-contained or self-serving, but generous, overflowing moving Words and Bodies into fulfillment. Therefore, when God ACTS, putting God’s WILL, CREATIVE ENERGY, LOVING LANGUAGE AND CONNECTION WITH CREATION AND THE HUMAN RACE, GOD IS HOLY SPIRIT –again, not just a dimension of God, but an actual unique PERSON of God. 

Made in God’s image, Jesus shares that same HOLY SPIRIT with us. Gospel of John 20: 22: Jesus  breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Through the Spirit, we become energized in love, in forgiveness, in fostering and repairing relationships, transcending ourselves, expanding our consciousness and self-understanding to become a New Person in Christ.  We truly are ourselves, and not ourselves when we put our relationship with God and others first and foremost above any pursuit of worldly gain or glory. Sure, not so distinct as to be another person entirely (we are still Jean or John or who knows who) but hopefully, we may get a sense that God is actually a distinct Person as Holy Spirit while remaining ONE GOD. 

And so we come to Word and Eucharist today to meditate, to dream, willing to BE One with God, saying prayers silently and aloud, engaging in ACTIONS to live in Christ and be Christ to one another, making us more conscious of the threefold reality of the Trinity. When we receive this Eucharist, we are united to God in Christ and in the Spirit, we are one with one another – different, unique, yet wonderfully common in our common humanity and our dependence on God. It’s time we chew on that some more.

Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

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.