Monday, July 25, 2005

Feast of St. James the Apostle

Since traffic to this sight on Sunday is pretty slow, I repeat our appeal's message from yesterday...Day 5--The Joy of Being Catholic

In the Gospel reading you heard at Mass today--Jesus gives us several parables of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like--the first two are a reminder of why any of us even bother--the third a very loud reminder of the reality of the Church--good fish and bad fish (and only the angels at the end of time will be able to sort out that mess).

In both of the "find" parables something is found that is so precious, so key to what life is about that nothing else matters. The spiritual writer Jean Pierre de Cuasade wrote that "Without God everything is nothing, but with God nothing is everything." The joy of what is found by both seekers is so great that they sacrifice everything they have in order to possess what they do not have.

Most of us have had this experience in life where all the "stuff" has let us down enough to realize that true joy is somewhere else...this experience is a true grace because it enables us to really reach out to God and experience the joy that he has made us to experience. All the other "stuff" is a dead end road.

Sadly though many of us never take the next step...of getting rid of all the stuff and like the rich young man who was possessed by his possessions we go away sad.

A great grace in my life was to have known a young woman who had experienced the joy of Christ and also had (not by free choice) been despoiled of all her possessions. In the irony of life, her name was Pearl...in her early twenties she had terminal cancer and I myself still in my early twenties used to bring her Holy Communion. The joy that she experienced when she received Christ is something that I have never forgotten, twenty-five years later. Her entire life was near an end, all her hopes and dreams had vanished yet she communicated to me a joy that made me realize at an early age (although for her at the same age it was already very late) the pomp and emptiness of what the "world" and the "devil" hold out to all of us. Not to say that I haven't fallen time and again back into the traps set for us-- but thanks no doubt to her prayers and the prayers of others I have not remained in the pit for any length of time. I am a sinner but I have seen the pearl that is the source of true joy and is worth more than anything else in the world. Thanks to Pearl for teaching me that lesson.

I tell Pearl's story in The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life and credited her as the inspiration to the discoveryof the "pearl" and also the great price" which is required to possess that treasure-- embracing of the cross in our lives (the selling everything, i.e. changing the entire way we think about this life--the way we judge, the way we plan, what we think will bring us happiness).

Amy's Here. Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life. is a modern exposition of how being Catholic is the secret treasure found that can give one the joy that one is searching for in all the wrong places. This joy is so great that it is worth the "sacrifice" that I spell out in How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist. As Catholics we are in desperate need of knowing how to live our Faith out faithfully and with the full expectation of experiencing the joy that only Christ can give us, Amy and I have set out on a path to help Catholics understand how they can do that not by an endless search in diverse places but right at the foot of the cross in front of the tabernacle at their parish church--where no matter how many bad fish have been dragged in with the good (and God help us to become good fish), Jesus is present and comes to us.

This is the fifth day of our thirty day appeal to make Here. Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life.and How To Get The Most Out Of The Eucharist not only better known but also to get the message out! So many Catholics are struggling to see the connection that their Faith has with the "treasure" worth selling everything to possess. Too many good Catholics are listening more to the word sown by "the enemy" sometimes (like in the parable) in the midst of their own church. W e are asking readers of this blog and Amy's Open Book to consider buying one copy of both books for themselves and consider buying other copies for friends and relatives as mission to help each other reach our final goal--possession of the true treasure, Jesus Christ that is faithful to the commands he has given us in the church he founded on Peter.

Thanks again to all who have participated in this appeal, thanks for making both books Catholic bestsellers on Amazon. We have raised several hundred dollars to be given to Food for the Poor, we hope to raise several thousand by end of the appeal so that a new house may be built for a poor family in Latin America.