The Catechism in a Year – Day 331 – The Foundations of Prayer

Do we know how to pray? The Catechism depicts Moses learning how to pray and uses this as an example of prayer and relationship with God. The Catechism goes on to talk about David and his experiences with prayer and the Psalms. As Fr. Mike points out, “humility is the foundation of prayer,” and we need honesty, trust, and a willingness to engage in order to pray and approach God as he is. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 2574-2580.

Click on link: https://youtu.be/URfEHcxmMsE?si=hlcUIEyqQm39f7Sk


Sermon Notes – August 6, 2023 – Busy is Not Your Friend

Busy is Not Your Friend

 Father Peter Fitzgibbons

August 5 – 6, 2023

Gospel:  Matthew 17:1-9

In today’s Gospel, the transfiguration happened about 10 days before our Lord’s Passion.   The Lord gave Peter, James, and John this great gift to show them His power so that they would be strengthened and fortified for the scandal of the Cross . . . the Passion.  He showed them who He was. . .  true God and true Man.  Our Lord lowered the veil of His humanity to show them His divinity.   His face became like the sun.  The three apostles had a foretaste of Heaven.  They saw Moses and Elijah there.  And it begs the question . . . How did they know it was Moses and Elijah?   This happened thousands of years before Facebook, and there were no pictures.  So, how the heck did they know?   Their minds were enlightened in the presence of God.  Moses, Elijah, and others were discussing with our Lord events that were still to come so we will have knowledge of the future.  Remember, Heaven is outside of time.  There is no time in Heaven.  Everything is in the present at once because God is.  They heard the voice of God the Father call out, a theophany or the manifestation of God.  “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.”   Peter offered to build three shelters – one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for the Lord.  Peter said he wanted that moment to go on forever, but it didn’t.    Do you know what is interesting?  If you go back to the Old Testament, Moses disobeyed God when he struck the rock two times.  And the Lord said, “You are not entering the Promised Land.”   And where was Moses that day?  He was in the Promised Land which means there is forgiveness after death.  So, Moses made it to the Promised Land. 

The great spiritual consolations our God gives us are never lasting even though we want them to be.  They only last in Heaven.   Now this is a grave thing about the spiritual life or spiritual direction.  I was thinking about laypeople who say, “I’m a Spiritual Director.”  Uh-huh.  I’m Doctor House because I have watched every show.  That qualifies me, right?  If you say this prayer and do this, you will always be happy.  Really?  Check with a qualified medical professional about adjusting your meds.   We are never always happy.  Remember in the Book of Acts, the apostles were thrown into prison.  Prisons back then were very different.  One, they didn’t have cameras; and two, guess what happened to them . . . they got what we call “an attitude adjustment.”   They had the living you know what beat out of them.  But they rejoiced because they were found worthy to suffer for the Lord.   Our Lord said, “You will suffer for Me.”  He prophesied that we would have many trials and tribulations.  Look at Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.   He was shipwrecked three times, stoned, and scourged.  “Hey God, if this is the way you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!”   He did not have an easy time of it, but he kept going. 

There is a great temptation when our time to suffer comes and everything seems to go bad.  We don’t feel our prayers, we aren’t being listened to, and it’s the same darn thing day after day.  So, the spiritual life is not always marvelous.  It is more like “Oh, if only I could see God.”   How many of the apostles were in the Garden of Gethsemane?   Only one was at the foot of the Cross.  Yet, in three years they saw all the miracles – at least three risen from the dead.   Think about all the miracles our Lord did.  “Oh, if I had just one big spiritual moment, I’d never doubt again.”  That’s not true.  We are no better than the apostles.  Our good Lord’s consolations to us, His appearances to us, and His gifts to us come not when we want them, but when our Lord decides we need them or as a free act of love to let us know He is always there.  But we tend to forget.  We get wrapped up in our daily lives and events, and the crushing work of staring at the coffee pot and microwave willing them to work faster.    Sometimes, we are so busy that we overlook the obvious.  “I didn’t see the police officer sitting there.”   It’s a big black car marked “State Police.”  How could you miss it?   We have tunnel vision while driving.  Father Adrian van Kaam reminds us in his book that many times we are too busy and tend to overlook our Lord’s consolations.  Our Lord reminds us of His presence and His care in the ordinary, mundane, and trivial events in our lives.  That’s why it’s so important at the end of the day to do an examination of conscience.  Take some time to look back over the day, not to see what you did right or wrong, but to see what our Lord is trying to say.   “Hi.  I love you!  It’s Me.  I’m here.”  We overlook it all. 

A couple of years ago, I was going out to visit someone in the hospital.  As I was walking upstairs, a nurse was coming down them.  She asked, “Are you a priest?”   Yeah.   “I was just going to call you.”  Well, I saved you a dime.  “There is someone upstairs in ICU who is dying.”   I told the family that it was just by chance that I was in town and that I was in the stairwell when I met the nurse.  God loves this person who was passing so much that I just happened to be there to give them Last Rites.  It’s tiny little things like that which show how much God loves us, but we are so busy that we overlook them. 

God gives those moments to us because He knows how fragile we are.  The apostles were always filled with fear, and we are no different.  God always gives us reminders of His love.  Not huge ones because that would scare the you know what out of us, but tiny, little reminders and consolations that we often overlook.  Consoling moments sometimes just show up when we least expect them. God speaks to us about the most ordinary things.  Thank Him for them.  He is aware of our strengths, our pain, and our fear.  He has not left us. 

How will you apply this message to your life?  ___________________________________


You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the Church’s Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


The Catechism in a Year – Day 185 – Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence

Together with Fr. Mike, we continue our examination of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Fr. Mike takes us back to the Book of Genesis, the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, and the Book of Exodus, the story of Moses and Pharaoh. He emphasizes that the point of freedom in life is to be led to the freedom to worship God and that it matters to God that we freely choose to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 1356-1361.

https://youtu.be/FocyAQTKTO8


Sermon Notes – June 18, 2023 – Stop Reinventing the Wheel


Stop Reinventing the Wheel

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

June 17 – 18, 2023

Gospel:  Matthew 9:36-10:8

Today we hear about Jesus choosing the 12 apostles.  Now, if you look at their resumes, they are a bit thin.  Even though Jesus is supposed to know everything, He chose Judas who betrayed Him.  All of the apostles were cowards as was demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He didn’t pick too well, did He.  One of my theology professors, Father Francis Conway who is now in Heaven, would often say, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.”  And that’s true.  Why would He pick the Jews to bring salvation to the world?   On the world stage, they were not even a footnote.   Did they have an empire for 2,000 years like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans?   Nope.  So just who were the Jews?  They were nothing.  It’s true.  Then why did He pick them?  Because if they cooperated with His grace, they could become something. 

Look at Moses . . . he killed a man.   Yet Moses saw God face-to-face like one man talking to another.  He also received the Ten Commandments and was chosen to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.   But it’s not about what Moses was; instead, it was about what God could do with him through His grace.   It was the same with the apostles and what they could become.  Spoiler alert – you will hear next week that the apostles came back and said to the Lord, “Oh wow.  We did all these things.  We did what you told us to do, and it worked!”  Well, yeah!  Do what you are told, and you will receive what you have been promised.  It’s not who we are . . . it’s who we can become if we cooperate with God’s grace.  Look at Saul.  He persecuted followers of our Lord.  Go through Church history, and you will see that there are a lot of stories like Saul’s. 

What matters is what we can become.  It’s not the letters in front of or after your name.  Becoming “Very Reverend” made my mother very happy.  It’s just an honorary title in my position.  It doesn’t mean I’m “very reverend.”  I wish I were.  And all the letters after my name just prove I can take tests and are not a measure of how much I learned.   It doesn’t make me more wonderful or smarter than anyone else.  It doesn’t make what I have done better than what anyone else has done.   But God can use it . . . He can use the worst of someone’s past to transform the world.  Think about this:  88 years ago, our Lord used two men.   One was a drunken stockbroker and the other was a drunken physician.  Do you know what God did with those two men?  They formed Alcoholics Anonymous and all the Twelve Step programs.  How many men, women, and children have they saved.  The drunken stockbroker and physician were two of what the world would call “losers,” and look at what God did with them. 

God chose all of us, not for what we are but for what we can become.  Each of us, because of our vocation in the Body of Christ, can go where others cannot.  You cannot go where I go, and I cannot go where you go to bring God’s message and to evangelize.   God has chosen you and chosen me, depending on our place in the Body of Christ, to be His apostles, to be His disciples, and to be His evangelists.  This is not a reward.  “Oh, you are such a good person.  You did very well in your studies.  I’m so proud of you!”  We are given this grace for the good of others and not for our own well-being.  It’s not an “Atta Boy.”   God has given us all our talents and abilities – or perhaps our lack of talents and abilities.  Remember what God said to Saint Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Even in our suffering, we can teach people how to suffer and how to love.  Chaplain students all want to fix people.  “Oh, we are going to talk, and I’ll get them into social welfare counseling.”  Oh really?  You have a very blessed job, and you may not realize it, but you are called to attend to those suffering in Christ.   Laying in that bed is to suffer in Christ.  Granted, they may be a royal real pain in the caboose.  Not all people – sick or healthy – are nice.   I’ve been cursed out a lot.  Granted, I may have deserved some of it . . . but I’ve been cursed out a lot!  When you try to do something nice for somebody and they do not appreciate it, they let you know in a lot of different ways and in no uncertain terms.  They are suffering in Christ, and your reaction – or hopefully your lack of reaction – is evangelistic. 

God chose us to be His apostles in the new Body of Christ.  The apostles are now long in Heaven.  They were all cowards, but look at what happened to them . . .  10 of the 11 died a martyr’s death.  Although Peter was a coward, he died a martyr’s death by being crucified upside down.  Crucifixion is not a fun way to go, but upside down is even worse.  Paul had his head chopped off by the Romans.   By the way, that was considered an honor because it was an easier death.   God chose all of us but not to try to recreate the wheel – “Oh, we have this new program, and it’s great!”   Really?   Let me see if I can find that in the Bible.  Nope, not there.   I wonder why it didn’t work.  But they all need your money.   Just do what Christ told you to do.  The apostles were surprised that everything Christ told them to do worked.   We may see that some of our actions produce fruit – probably not though.  So do not be surprised by a temptation from satan.  We do what we are told to do.  Obedience to God’s commands is a work of love.  Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my Commandments.”   So, when we have done a work of love, let that work of love bear fruit even if it is later.

How will you apply this message to your life?  ________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  On a cell phone: click on “Blog” and then “Menu.”  Scroll to the bottom and click on “Categories.”  Sermon Notes are also available on the church Facebook page at ola.catholic.church.  Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”


Bible Love Notes – I Am Who I Am

In Exodus 3:1-15 God revealed Himself in the burning bush and told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

This name for God tells us He is self-existent, unchangeable, eternal, beyond our understanding, perfect, independent, supreme over all things (Isaiah 45:5-6). Wow! 

This describes all members of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.(1)  

People are always creating fake gods and building false religions. Many today are cutting, pasting, and adding to Scripture, softening gospel truths, ignoring God’s loving commands, and creating a Jesus in their image.

But we can’t redefine God (Isaiah 29:16). We can’t put our words in His mouth. Scripture is not a suggestion book (Hebrews 4:12).

The will and purposes of I AM will prevail. God is God. We are not.

This leads me to a different kind of “I am” statement. Seven times in the Gospel of John, Jesus uses metaphors to describe Himself. He speaks to us in ways we can easily understand, giving us insights into His character and mission. Now that we have clarified Christ’s deity, we’ll be discussing His “I am” statements in John.

💙💙💙💙


Bible Love Notes – You’re Not Done Yet!

“Scripture is filled with examples of men and women whom God used late in life, often with great impact – men and women who refused to use old age as an excuse to ignore what God wanted them to do.” Billy Graham

God never decides we’re too old for meaningful work. We may retire from a career, but we never retire from Christianity. 

Old Testament figures often distinguished themselves in their old age: Moses (Exodus 7:7), Joshua and Caleb (Joshua 14:6-1123-24), and Daniel (Daniel 5:13-29) did important work in their eighties.

This is good news whether you’re a teenager or a senior. At every age and every stage of life God has meaningful purposes for our lives.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

At every stage of life, we have new things to learn and new opportunities to leave our mark on this world.

I don’t know about you, but I find that exciting!


Daily Devotion – Partners in Victory

“Moses’ hands were heavy … Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.” – Exodus 17:12-13 NASB

Joshua led Israel’s army against the Amalekites. And Moses communicated God’s strategy and became a symbol of His presence. As long he held up his hands, “Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed” (v. 11).

But victory would not have been possible without the help of Aaron and Hur, two men who did not lift a sword or slay one enemy soldier. But Israel was victorious because these men fulfilled their assigned roles.

While Moses stood with God’s staff in his hand, the Israelites were victorious. Then, as the day wore on, his strength faded. That is when Aaron and Hur stepped in. Their task: to support Moses’ hands. This might sound trivial, but without this support, the battle could not have been won.

As we look at the work of ministry, we need to realize that, just as in the days of Moses, Christians need to work together as partners. There are many roles to play, and every person, every role is important. God’s army needs prayer warriors and teachers, encouragers, and administrators. He needs believers who will sacrifice and give to support the Gospel.

Remember, you have a vital role to play. The tasks and  skills you’ve been given are important. God has given you special gifts, talents, and special assignments. Make sure you are doing the work He called you to do.

Prayer

Father, I commit my life to You. Show me the tasks You’ve given me to do. I dedicate my time, talents, and treasures to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Extended Reading

Exodus 17

//Inspiration Ministries//


Minute Meditation – Spiritual Vaccination

We have all seen the rod of Asclepius, or its common variation, the caduceus, on medical insignia throughout the world. It was the symbol of this Greek god of healing, but is also found here in our First Reading from the book of Numbers (21:4–9). It is a single or double serpent winding around a pole, and we are not sure if the Greeks or the Hebrews had it first. But surely its meaning was a universal discovery that today we would perhaps call vaccination! In short, “the cause is also the cure”! Who would have thought? It seems to be true both medically and psychologically. At any rate, we have Moses prescribing such medicine to the complaining Hebrews in the desert, who were being bit by winged/fiery serpents. The meaning and healing symbol returns again in John’s Gospel on many levels, all of them significant. The recurring phrase is, “the lifted up one.” It has now become a rallying cry for the Jesus who was raised up on the cross and thus “vaccinated us against” doing the same (3:13 and 19:37). Jesus being “lifted up” is offered as a healing icon of love to all of history (12:32), and finally, as a victory sign of the final resurrection and ascension of all the human ones, as is prefigured in today’s account about the archetypal “Human One,” Jesus (8:28). This is powerful material, just as vaccinations always are. We have a Divine Medicine brought down to a small but potent dosage so we can handle it and it can handle us! That is what true spiritual symbols always do. Remember what we said earlier in Lent: Any direct contact with God is like contact with an electric wire—it burns you unless you have some good filters and a very humble humanity to receive it. No wonder so many Catholics and Orthodox never tired of hanging images of the crucified Jesus in their homes and in their churches. We needed to “lift up” and “gaze upon” the transformative image just as Moses first did in the desert. It can and did and will change many lives and much of history. 

— from the book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent

by Richard Rohr, OFM

//Franciscan Media//