Between rigorism and laxity

Photo by Bruna Gabrielle Fu00e9lix on

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Saint Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Readings: 1 Tm 4:12-16; PS 111:7-8, 9, 10; Lk 7:36-50
Notes: I promise to stop using so much of the Franciscan charism in my daily posts.
But they are so good!


It seems fairly true to say that almost every possible false doctrine has been proposed at some time or other in the history of the Church. The third century saw the resolution of a problem we scarcely consider—the penance to be done before reconciliation with the Church after mortal sin. Men like Cornelius and Cyprian were God’s instruments in helping the Church find a prudent path between extremes of rigorism and laxity. They are part of the Church’s ever-living stream of tradition, ensuring the continuance of what was begun by Christ, and evaluating new experiences through the wisdom and experience of those who have gone before.

First reading
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate. Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.

When we teach the truth in purity our understanding of truth deepens and becomes more loving, compassionate and merciful. When I teach, I am changed by the word I transmit. When I listen, I understand why.

Responsorial Psalm
How great are the works of the Lord!

Alleluia Verse
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.

Gospel Portion
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

So often we struggle with the discernment between rigorism and laxity.
Certainly today’s gospel portion implies that, for the religious leaders of the day, the sinful woman’s life was simply unforgiveable.

But Jesus explains that those who know their problems and seek the face of God will not be denied.
The Pharisee does not know his sin, so it remains.

Bringing relief

When Pope John Paul II wrote Evangelium Vitae he had a twin messaging:

  1. The Law “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17); the entire Law of the Lord serves to protect life, because it reveals that truth in which life finds its full meaning.
  2. EV 26, 58 and 59 contain the roots of the pastoral response to abortion. This part of EV is woefully under-prescribed.

It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.

If we are stuck in the first point (the Law) we miss the second of the pastoral response.

Cross referencing Evangelium Vitae with Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118 we find the following connections of thought:

  • These below are common to both documents in about 30-45% of women respondents:
    • Convenience
    • Mother’s health
    • Father who directly pressures the mother
    • Fathers who abandon the mother
    • Psychological pressures
  • These below are noted in 75% of the responses by women:
    • Insufficient governmental support / social policy for work
    • Insufficient governmental support / social policy for financial
    • Insufficient governmental support / social policy for educational
    • Insufficient governmental support / social policy for dependent care

Many centres in support of life, or similar institutions, are sponsored by individuals and groups which, with admirable dedication and sacrifice, offer moral and material support to mothers who are in difficulty and are tempted to have recourse to abortion. Increasingly, there are appearing in many places groups of volunteers prepared to offer hospitality to persons without a family, who find themselves in conditions of particular distress or who need a supportive environment to help them to overcome destructive habits and discover anew the meaning of life (EV, 26).

Pope Francis recently added:

“Whenever the church, in order to defend a principle, didn’t do it pastorally, it has taken political sides,” Francis said. “If a pastor leaves the pastorality of the church, he immediately becomes a politician.”

Don’t be a politician.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

She beheld her tender Child

Greetings on this the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Readings: 1 Tm 3:14-16; PS 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6; Jn 19:25-27

John’s account of Jesus’ death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary’s role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus’ Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.

First reading
I hope to visit you soon.

Paul knows to be in community is an essential part of the Christian way of living.

  • Even when we are introverts, we need community.
  • Even when we are rich, we need community.
  • Even when we are self reliant, we need community.
  • Even when everyone disappoints us, we need community.

You were born of community (Mom and Dad), you thrive in community, don’t neglect community.
In community we share the joys and sorrows of all.
In community we find relief from our suffering.

Responsorial Psalm
How great are the works of the Lord!

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the Martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.

Gospel Portion
In todays gospel portion, we are invited to the family as sons and daughters of the Blessed Mother.

Jesus gives the invitation.
We give the yes.
Jesus calls us brother and sister in the most profound way.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Sign of the Cross

Our Lady of Florida, Passionists Retreat House Chapel

Greetings on this the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Readings: Nm 21:4b-9; PS 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38; Phil 2:6-11; Jn 3:13-17
Notes: I think, an opinion, that Christians of other traditions should have these distinct liturgies added to their practices of faith (if they don’t have already).

  • Sign of the Cross – In the Name of …
  • Veneration of the Cross – the symbol of salvation.
  • Good Friday – passion of Jesus and crucifixion.
  • Ash Wednesday – need for restoration.

They are power expressive moments in the life of a Christian.
These liturgies allow us to get close to Jesus in a communal and tactile way.

A Franciscan reference (I quote them a lot lately)
The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration

First reading
The people suffered from their lack of faith.
The manna and the water from the flinty rock was not enough for them.
They complained and the consequence was that seraph serpents were able to inflict harm.

Repenting, they asked for relief.

Moses, by the Lord’s direction, made a pole with a seraph of bronze.
When the people gazed upon it, they were healed, their faith reinforced.

This divine action prefigures the divine action of Jesus upon the cross.

Responsorial Psalm
Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.

Second reading
The second reading today is thought to be a Christian hymn that Paul is referencing.
A song that the reader would know and easily enter into and contemplate its meaning and purpose.

Humiliation of Christ

  • Not exercise his equality with God.
  • Emptied himself.
  • A slave.
  • A human.
  • Humbly accepting death, even on a cross.

Exhaultation of Christ

  • God greatly exalted him.
  • His name above any other name.
  • All should kneel before him.
  • All should confess his Lordship.
  • All should confess Jesus is the glory of God.

Alleluia Verse
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

Gospel Portion
We venerate the cross because it is God’s chosen way to resolve our need for salvation.

  • The cross is a real instrument of death and a disgraceful way to die.
  • The cross is used as a method of control upon those who witness the death.
  • The cross is painful and torturous penalty contrasted with beheading.

But it is the cross, the worst we could use, becomes the sign and instrument of Salvation.

  • It is personal, the holy Son of God.
  • It was tactile.
  • It was God most present in our world, the closeness of the divine to the suffering of sin.

We venerate the cross every day.
We recall the trinitarian God who reveals himself for us.

Tactile Liturgy

We cross ourselves with our hand and say: (head, heart, left shoulder, right shoulder)

In the Name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.


In that act we recall:

  • the person of Jesus
  • his cross
  • his crucifixion
  • the Trinitarian God
  • the salvation of souls

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Believe Teach Practice

October, 2001

Greetings on this the Saturday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Tm 1:15-17; PS 113:1b-2, 3-4, 5 and 6-7; Lk 6:43-49
Notes: Today is the ordination of two new Permanent Deacons.

Ordination to the Diaconate of Francis O. Fau and Mark Alfred Hoch on 9/11/21 at 11 a.m. EST

Among other moments, the Bishop will entrust them with Handing on of the Book of Gospels:

“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

If you want to see it live stream go here:

I will be in the College of Deacons, double masked.

On the Twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 Attacks we are reminded how disastrous our impulses can be. The cycle of attack and revenge is not the way of God. May we remember with hearts filled with compassion and mercy.

First reading
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.

Insert my name at the “I”.

Everyone you are called to a good life, the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule.

Remember, God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Responsorial Psalm
Blessed be the name of the Lord for ever.

Alleluia Verse
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him.

Gospel Portion
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?

I tell you my life is filled with good people, helpful people, in the real and on-line.

Shout-out to the Twitter family!

  • People with goodness in their hearts.
  • People who produce good fruit.
  • People who do what the Lord commands.

So, yes, it can be done.

Remember: God makes good happen when I try to do good.

Of Sinners I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Golden Rule

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest
Readings: Col 3:12-17; PS 150:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6; Lk 6:27-38
Notes: In today’s first reading and gospel pair:

  • Paul reminds us just how very powerful and self-controlled we can be in Jesus.
  • For his part, Jesus, reminds us the the way of God expressed in human terms.

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, Priest, who during the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

First reading
Brothers and sisters: God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, put on:

  • heartfelt compassion
  • kindness
  • humility
  • gentleness
  • patience
  • bearing with one another
  • forgiving one another
  • put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

Brothers and sisters: God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, through Christ we have:

  • the peace of Christ which controls our hearts
  • been called in one Body
  • gratitude in our hearts to God
  • the word of Christ dwelling in us richly
  • the power to teach and admonish one another
  • to sing psalms
  • to sing hymns
  • to sing spiritual songs
  • the power do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Responsorial Psalm
Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!

Alleluia Verse
If we love one another,
God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

Gospel Portion
The “DO” list
of Jesus describes God (do = God does) through your life:

  • do good to those who hate you
  • do pray for those who mistreat you
  • do offer your cheek
  • do offer cloak and tunic
  • do give to everyone who asks
  • do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • do lend without return
  • do love your enemy
  • do forgive
  • do merciful
  • do give

The BE list:

  • be child of God
  • be not judged
  • be not condemned
  • be forgiven

The golden rule is the shorthand of it all.

Remember, with God, all things are possible.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

What to do, What to do

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Col 1:24–2:3; PS 62:6-7, 9; Lk 6:6-11
Notes: This week we step through the 6th chapter of the gospel of Luke.

There is a pause in the sequence for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Birth of Mary).

The sequence of first readings is supportive of the sequence of the gospel readings.
Colossians and Timothy letters.

  • Monday – Rejoice in my suffering for your sake.
  • Tuesday – We are being reconfigured into a participation of the body of Christ.
  • Wednesday – (Rm) Birth of Mary. All things work for good for those who love God.
  • Thursday – We are to reflect that change in the put on love, the bond of perfection.
  • Friday – Warning about false doctrines and unholy activities.
  • Saturday – All this because God is merciful to me.
  • Gospel
  • Monday -Healed on the Sabbath the man with a withered hand.
  • Tuesday – Mission of the Twelve and the ministering to the multitude.
  • Wednesday – (Mt – Birth of Mary) Genealogy of Jesus.
  • Thursday – Love of Enemies.
  • Friday – Judging others.
  • Saturday – (choose between) The Two Foundations – Rock or Sand.

First reading
Paul reflects to his readers,
In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his Body, which is the Church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God.

Dorothy Day, a radical catholic, said it in another way:

I cannot worry much about your sins and miseries when I have so many of my own. I can only love you all, poor fellow travelers, fellow sufferers. I do not want to add one least straw to the burden you already carry. My prayer from day to day is that God will so enlarge my heart that I will see you all, and live with you all, in His love.

Dorothy Day

Responsorial Psalm
In God is my safety and my glory.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.

Alleluia Verse
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Gospel Portion
Some worry the Catholic Church is overly focused on social justice at the expense of worship. At different levels this is a valid concern. Social justice cannot be the only focus. Jesus is our source and summit of faith and works.

The discernment of focus must pass through this filter and all it implies:

I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

New Wine

New Wine

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Readings: Col 1:15-20; PS 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5; Lk 5:33-39
Notes: Today is a day of mixed feelings. I am pro-life in the non-political way.

As the Lord would have us be – supporting women who are at a crisis – because the power of coercion has some effect but also has extreme counter effects to the detriment of all.

Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first (Lk 11:26).

Today will be my twelveth post in some way regarding abortion (12 of 456).

There are 7 Documents on the topic as well found on the Teaching Page:

  • A New Look at the Viability Rule
  • Abortion-Grid
  • Baptism and Chaos
  • DOMA
  • Horizons
  • Mother or Madness
  • Rejoice

Saint Gregory the Great was a protector of the helpless, purifier of the clergy and defender of the faith. He would have applied a different strategy than today.

If you haven’t figured it out, I like the Franciscans style of remembering:

First reading
Any work we do must be subordinate to and get its power from the healing power of God which is mercy and forgiveness.

through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the Blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Responsorial Psalm
Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
For he is good,
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.

Alleluia Verse
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Portion
Let us see a new way. Let us partake of the new wine or mercy and forgiveness.

I have advocated and practice giving women in crisis resources to reorder their lives in the hope of their seeing their higher horizon. Stipends range from $25 to $10,000, Uber cash, food and rental assistance are among the tools of compassion. We don’t coerce women. We help them regain their autonomy and dignity. The outcomes are very positive.

Texas has gone full on: posse comitatus.

If a claimant in an S.B. 8 case prevails, they are entitled to (1) “injunctive relief
sufficient to prevent” future violations; (2) without any showing of harm, an award of “statutory
damages” of at least $10,000 per abortion, with no apparent maximum amount; and (3) their costs
and attorney’s fees. In effect, S.B. 8 places a bounty on people who provide or aid abortions,
inviting random strangers to sue them.

Compassion versus Law.

And he also told them a parable.
“No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one.
Otherwise, he will tear the new
and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins.
Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins,
and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.
Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new,
for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Heel or Heal?

Heal Thyself

Greetings on this the Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: 1 Thes 4:13-18; PS 96:1 and 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13; Lk 4:16-30

  • The Gospel readings this week will be from Luke chapters 4, 5 and 6.
  • We complete the readings of the 1st letter to the Thessalonians.
  • We being the series on the letter to the Colossians.

The Christ event, the coming of the Messiah, in the flesh is a new encounter beyond all the encounters of the past. The study of his life is called Christology.

  • Who is he?
  • Why did he come?
  • What did he say and do?

First reading
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

I have the hope of the resurrection so these encounters with death while unsettling are also a source of hopeful expectation.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Alleluia Verse
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Gospel Portion
The newness of the New Testament is a reengagement of the Law and the Prophets.

  • Reinforcing teaching that has lost its vigor.
  • Recapitulating the foundational teaching.
  • Changing and updating worship with a new, broader, wider theophany.
  • Demonstrating the humble and hidden power of God.

This is one of my favorite gospel readings.
Jesus makes his great proclamation.

Many years ago I heard this word proclaimed and was moved to make it my own.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Following Jesus brings certain difficulties:

  • I am not a physician – i.e., yes, I am insufficient.
  • I cannot cure myself – i.e., yes, I am a sinner in need of a Savior.
  • I am not accepted in the own town – i.e., yes, the world rejects this way of life.

But, I get to… go from a heel to a healer so to speak.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Not Interested?

Five Talents

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Readings: 1 Thes 4:9-11; 98:1, 7-8, 9; Mt 25:14-30
Notes: Today another COVID funeral. Many funerals lately as the spike has arrived to the funeral homes. Given the continued increase in infections, the next 30-45 days will be intense.

The age range of deaths are much younger in this the fourth wave.
Deceased ages range from 45 – 55 in general.

A priest friend related to this COVID-19 crisis this way.

In the 1960-1970 time frame there was the epidemic of the Smoker’s Widows. He told me about the dozens upon dozens of men he buried in the age range of 45-55.

Leaving behind a smoker’s widow.

The story of the Son whom Monica prayed for:

First reading
Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more,
and to aspire to live a tranquil life,
to mind your own affairs,
and to work with your own hands,
as we instructed you.

Life does not need to be a continuous sensation of experiences and entertainment.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Alleluia Verse
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.

Gospel Portion
As the Alleluia verse says, it is a commandment to love.

  • We know we cannot force someone to love us.
  • It is foolish to try to bribe someone to love you.

But we can force ourselves to love even through the conflicting emotions and evidence of their lack of reciprocity.

Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, … out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’

  • The one talent we all receive is the capacity to love.
  • We may not have special skills, great wealth or lots of extra time.

We all have the capacity to love and we are expected to do just that even if we have to force ourselves against our ambitions, fears and anxieties.

You can love by praying. Like interest in the bank place your love as prayer in the secret place of the Divine. Pray for your family, friends, acquaintances and enemies.

Don’t lose interest.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Bitter Lot Yet Joy Abounds


Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Readings: Ru 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22; PS 146:5-6ab, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10; Mt 22:34-40
Notes: (not the dog).

Bitter lot frightens people.
But when we remain faithful to the Lord and to one another, bitterness will be the seeds of Joy.

First reading
Ruth’s love for Naomi is so very moving.
I wish this love for every Mother-In-Law and Daughter-In-Law to find the deepest meanings of love that begins with husband love.

My daughters, my lot is too bitter for you, because the LORD has extended his hand against me.

Ruth said,

“Do not press me to go back and abandon you! Wherever you go I will go,
wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.

Where you die I will die, and there be buried. May the LORD do thus to me, and more, if even death separates me from you!”

The bitter lot became a source of joy.
I recommend you read this four chapter book of Ruth.

Responsorial Psalm
Praise the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia Verse
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

Gospel Portion
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry