Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Go in search of those less fortunate"

( Faced with human suffering, God expects youth to give the best of themselves, Benedict XVI told World Youth Day participants at the end of the Way of the Cross this evening (August 19).

The Pope and the youth celebrated Christ's passion and death with a Via Crucis along the streets of Madrid. Reflections from the Little Sisters of the Cross accompanied each station, and sculptures used in Spain's celebration of Holy Week were set along the procession.

Regarding these images, the Pontiff said that "faith and art combine so as to penetrate our heart and summon us to conversion."

"When faith's gaze is pure and authentic, beauty places itself at its service and is able to depict the mysteries of our salvation in such a way as to move us profoundly and transform our hearts," he reflected.

The solemnity of Christ's death on the cross was marked with silence and the sound of drumbeats.

"The cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one's life," the Pope stated. "The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men."

Benedict XVI urged the young people to "take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles."

In all human suffering, he said, "we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us."

The love of Christ should increase our joy, the Holy Father continued, encouraging the youth to "go in search of those less fortunate."

"You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion," he said. "The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord's way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. … Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the cross, by which man lives."
--- --- ---

…Addressing a gathering of professors in Madrid as part of the events of World Youth Day, Pope Benedict said, "In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the 'house' where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God."

An honor, responsibility

The Pope said the University "embodies an ideal which must not be attenuated or compromised, whether by ideologies closed to reasoned dialogue or by truckling to a purely utilitarian and economic conception which would view man solely as a consumer."

He then called on professors to take on the "honor and responsibility of transmitting the ideal of the University: an ideal which you have received from your predecessors, many of whom were humble followers of the Gospel and, as such, became spiritual giants."

"We should feel ourselves their successors, in a time quite different from their own, yet one in which the essential human questions continue to challenge and stimulate us," the Holy Father stated. "With them, we realize that we are a link in that chain of men and women committed to teaching the faith and making it credible to human reason.

"And we do this not simply by our teaching, but by the way we live our faith and embody it, just as the Word took flesh and dwelt among us. Young people need authentic teachers: persons open to the fullness of truth in the various branches of knowledge, persons who listen to and experience in own hearts that interdisciplinary dialogue; persons who, above all, are convinced of our human capacity to advance along the path of truth."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pope to youth: "seek the Truth"

13 days ago, twelve of us from GW waited all day in the Madrid heat along with 500,000 other youth to see and hear from Pope Benedict XVI. It was quite an experience, one that none of us will ever forget. While it was tough, it was grace-filled. Most of us were reasonably close to where the Holy Father was; two in our group were very close (the pic at the bottom was taken by Amy, our campus minister). Here are some excerpts from what the Holy Father said to youth as World Youth Day began, courtesy of

Hundreds of thousands of Catholic youth from around the world have gathered in Spain's capital this week not simply to meet other like-minded young people, or even to see the Pope, but because they wish to hear the word of God, says Benedict XVI…

"Why has this multitude of young people come to Madrid?" the Holy Father asked. "While they themselves should give the reply, it may be supposed that they wish to hear the word of God, as the motto for this World Youth Day proposed to them, in such a way that, rooted and built upon Christ, they may manifest the strength of their faith."

"Many of them have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives," he continued. "The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations.

"They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life."

The Pontiff said that "with God beside them," young people will "possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected."

World Youth Day, Benedict XVI said, is a "special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence."

He stressed that faith-filled youth "are not alone," and that "many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives."

…Words can be used for entertainment or information, but the words of Jesus have another purpose, Benedict XVI is telling youth in Madrid. The words of Christ are meant to reach the heart and take root.

The Pope arrived in Madrid today to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of youth who lined the streets in welcome. As many as 1 million are expected to participate in this 26th World Youth Day, which ends Sunday.

"There are words which serve only to amuse, as fleeting as an empty breeze; others, to an extent, inform us; those of Jesus, on the other hand, must reach our hearts, take root and bloom there all our lives. If not, they remain empty and become ephemeral. They do not bring us to him and, as a result, Christ stays remote, just one voice among the many others around us which are so familiar," the Holy Father told the young people in an afternoon event at Plaza de Cibeles.

The Master, the Pontiff continued, teaches "not something learned from others, but that which he himself is, the only one who truly knows the path of man towards God, because he is the one who opened it up for us, he made it so that we might have authentic lives, lives which are always worth living, in every circumstance, and which not even death can destroy."

…"It is always a good thing to keep seeking," he told them. "Above all, seek the Truth, which is not an idea or an ideology or a slogan, but a person: Christ, God himself, who has come into our midst! You rightly wish to plant your faith in him, to ground your life in Christ. He has always loved you and he knows you better than anyone else. May these days so rich in prayer, teaching and encounters help you to rediscover this, so that you may love him all the more."

There will not be a great transformation in the Church starting tomorrow, admits Benedict XVI. Though there are a half million young Catholics gathered in Madrid to celebrate World Youth Day with the Pope, the "seeds" of this experience are like the seeds of the Gospel -- part is lost.

World Youth Day will be the "beginning of a friendship with God and with others." It will open them to a "universality of thought" and make them aware of a "common responsibility." So these days do give much fruit: "God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics. … And we trust in this silent growth, and we are certain that, although the statistics do not say much about it, the Lord's seed really grows."

…"I would say that these WYDs are a sign, a cascade of light -- they give visibility to the faith, visibility to the presence of God in the world, and thus give the courage to be believers," he said. "Often, believers feel isolated in this world, somewhat lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world."

The Pope noted how World Youth Day fosters friendships that cross the borders of cultures and countries. "The birth of a universal network of friendship that unites the world with God is an important reality for the future of humanity," he affirmed, "for the life of humanity today."

He recommended seeing WYD as a sign and part of a great journey. "It creates friendships, opens borders, makes visible that it is beautiful to be with God, that God is with us," he said. And, "in this connection, we wish to continue with this great idea of Blessed Pope John Paul II."

"That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them," the Pope continued. "World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world."

"Of course, there is no lack of difficulties," he said. "There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood."

"But, with all my heart," the Pontiff affirmed, "I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord. He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us."

Monday, August 29, 2011

22nd Sunday - homily

I welcome all of you back to GW and hope that had a great summer! To all of our new students here, I especially welcome you. I am Father Greg Shaffer, the chaplain of the Newman Center which is the Catholic student center on campus. It is located at 22nd and F, a yellow townhouse behind the Smith Center. It is the "home away from home" for many of our 3,000 GW Catholics.

We have a couple dozen student leaders who are putting together a lot of cool things this year. They are all fired up like Jeremiah. You will learn quickly that we specialize in free food. Jesus first, food second. Every Tuesday we have a free home-cooked meal at 6 pm which rocks; Mass at 5:30 before the dinner. This Saturday, we'll have free Chipotle at our Opening BBQ. Just about every other Sunday, we'll have food down in the Parish Hall after the 7:30 pm Mass. We have retreats, Adoration, service opportunities, parties, Catechism classes, and Bible studies led by our Focus missionaries. The missionaries will be outside after Mass to introduce themselves to you and sign you up for Bible study. Last year, these Bible studies were very popular among students. So, check out Focus and check out the Newman Center as you start your new year.

You probably have already made goals for the year - academic, personal, physical, social, etc. I hope you have spiritual goals, as well. Let me suggest a good spiritual goal for you this year: pray every day for at least five minutes. This is not including Grace before meals and the rote prayers you say in bed at night. The goal is to have a conversation with Christ every day for at least five minutes. If you can do more, great.

Now, this goal is rooted in what St Paul writes in tonight's second reading and which is flushed out by Jesus in the Gospel. St. Paul writes to the Romans and all of you as you start this new year, "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind". What a great line! The first part you probably get - don't just go along with the college crowd in terms of how you act and think. But, the second part is a bit more challenging to comprehend. Jesus helps us to understand when He says to Peter and all of us that we shouldn't think as human beings do but as God does. How are we transformed by the renewal of our minds? By thinking as God thinks! So, St. Paul’s line means do not think as human beings do, but as God does. We come to think as God thinks through prayer.

One form of prayer which you may know about is called “Lectio Divina”. This is when we pray over a passage or phrase or even a word of Scripture for a period of time. I think that Focus does this sometimes in their Bible studies. Let’s say that you spend this week praying over this Gospel passage. What would happen is that you would begin to think as God thinks suffering. In this passage, Jesus tells the disciples that He will suffer much…and even be killed. Now, we know that this happened to our Lord, but at this point, the Apostles didn’t know it and this was the first time they heard anything about it. Peter, as the leader, thought he was speaking correctly when he rebuked Jesus and said that this won’t happen: “God forbid, Lord” (bad idea, Pete). Christ slams Peter who He calls "Satan" for thinking about suffering as human beings do only. We can’t fault Peter because this is the way that we approach suffering. We try to avoid pain and suffering at all costs. In college, there is a fair amount of suffering: stress and anxiety, loneliness, homesickness, isolation, rejection, depression, or failure. You or your friends might try to avoid these or other kinds of suffering through the party scene, drunkenness, drugs, sex, gossip, slander, anger, pornography, etc. Christ tells us that we shouldn’t try to avoid our crosses. He didn’t! He took His up and says that if we’re going to follow Him we need to take up our own crosses. This is what God thinks about suffering. Human beings say to avoid crosses; God says to take them up.

So, when we pray over this passage, we are transformed in relation to suffering. Thinking the way that God thinks about suffering transforms us by the renewal of our minds. It’s a very effective way to pray…to think as God thinks…to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

I want to close with the best way to pray…the best way to know what God is thinking. We have a chapel at the Newman Center with the Blessed Sacrament present….the Eucharist is there… Jesus is in the house at 2210 F St. Go talk to Him. Spend your five minutes a day there in prayer. Praying in the presence of the Lord is the best way to pray…the best way to know what God is thinking. The saints say that when we pray, we put on the mind of Christ. Come and spend time with Him this year in prayer, that you may be transformed by the renewal of your minds, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Attending Mass in inclement weather

The following reminder is from a bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington on the eve of Hurricane Irene.  GW students:  Welcome back to Foggy Bottom...PLEASE be safe and smart this weekend.

"With the approach of hurricane Irene up the East Coast this weekend, I ask you to please remind any parishioners who have concerns, that they are not obliged to physically attend Sunday Mass if dangerous travel or road conditions exist.

Those who cannot safely attend Mass in person are encouraged to watch the Sunday TV Mass, which airs at 10:30 a.m on CW50."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Viva el Papa!

Thanks be to God, we are in Madrid!  It seems that we have been gone for much longer than two weeks, not because we aren´t enjoying our pilgrimage (quite the contrary!), but because we have been to so many places and done so many things.  And, we have been spending this past week in Madrid for World Youth Day.  The graces of our awesome God have been flowing in small and big ways and we are trying to be open to them all.

We got settled in to our challenging but hopefully fruitful accomodations on Monday morning.  We were the first to arrive ("first ones here" - Clark W. Griswold) at the school outside of the city where we are staying this week.  It presents many challenges such as sleeping on a gynasium (women) or classroom (men) floor with people we are just meeting, activity-packed days that start early and finish late, and being in the presence of teenagers who can be all hours of the night.   It is a grace, though, to be there, and I have been able to meet some of the teens and do some ministry with them.

WYD started on Tuesday night with the Opening Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Madrid.  The estimate was that 500,000 people were jam packed into the streets.  It was very tight for several hours but overall a cool experience for our group.  We have attended workshops, talks, concerts, dances, Masses with a huge amount of bishops and priests (sweet!), and other cool things.  We have met people from all over the world and been in the midst of raucous cheering and chanting for the Church and homelands throughout the streets of Madrid for most of the hours of this week.

Last night, the Pope arrived!  It was an extraordinary day for us, one that none of us have ever experienced.  We planted ourselves in a good spot (so we thought) close to where the Holy Father would drive by and be for the welcoming ceremony.  We got there at 10 am, and stayed put in our contained area of asphalt in scorching heat until 9 pm.  People were pressing in on us for much of the last several hours (as was the experience for most of the 500,000 or so that were there).  So, our patience was tested.  But, the amazing thing to me was the day itself before the Pope arrived.  Hundreds of thousands of people under the age of 25 spent a whole day waiting to see a 85 year old man.  And, they were chanting his name and getting excited all day.  They have sacrificed a lot to be here and sacrificed much yesterday to be in the position to even get a glimpse of the Vicar of Christ.  There were some exceptions, but the crowd was overall very well behaved and patient, given the extreme situation that tested comfort and patience. 

When Pope Benedict arrived and greeted us, we all at least got a glimpse of him in person.  He told us that Christ is the meaning of our lives and to hope in Him.  He will speak more to us on this theme which has been repeated much this week.  Our students are getting a healthy diet of that theme and are thinking deeply about the meaning of their lives, their purpose, and their vocation.  This is a grace-filled time for them and their sacrifices are helping with that, whether they know it or not.  They are trying to be open and are being rewarded in small and big ways.  God has called them here and is speaking to them.  This will continue here until the closing Mass on Sunday where we will see and be inspired by "Benedito"!


Friday, August 12, 2011


We are just finishing up our amazing experience at Lourdes, France.  This is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  As I said at Mass this morning, it really is a preview to Heaven.  This is definitely a place of Grace.  There is so much peace here; everyone in our group has felt it since we first stepped foot on these sacred grounds on Wednesday night. 

We just finished bathing in the miraculous Lourdes water.  All twelve of us did this (individually) and were particularly moved by the experience.  I took all of my intentions with me into the pool which means that many of you were with me at that poignant moment of healing.

All of us have been enthralled with Lourdes the whole time, but in particular, visiting the Grotto multiple times, the Eucharistic Procession, Marian procession, Confession and blessing from my good friend Fr. Dan Leary*, Lourdes baths, movie on the life of St. Bernadette, Eucharistic Adoration (galore!), seeing and praying for the malades (the sick), washing with Lourdes water as often as possible, and just sharing the grace-filled here with thousands of people.

We have all been praying for physical and personal healing the past two days - for ourselves and for many others back home, especially GW Catholics.  God has indeed touched us profoundly through the powerful intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.  Amazing stuff!  Our Lady of Lourdes; pray for us!

* I providentially "bumped into" Fr Dan last night.  It was unbelievable.  I didn't know he was here and vice versa.  He is serving as a chaplain at Lourdes for 10 days, basically to hear confessions of pilgrims.  Our group really enjoyed hanging out with him last night after the procession, going to him for confessions qnd receiving his potent blessings/laying on of his healing hands.

Below is our group pic at Lourdes!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I'm checking in for a minute at an internet cafe in Rome.  Our pilgrimage is off to a great start with three solid days here.  Great group of GW Catholics!  We have hit much of Rome since we arrived early on Sunday morning.  We have enjoyed visits to St. Peter's (including walking all the way up to the top of the dome), St. Peter in Chains Cathedral (Cardinal Wuerl's titular church), food, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran (my favorite), food, Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museum, Colosseum, Roman Forum, more food, and other cool stuff.  Wish I could upload some photos...maybe next time I'll be prepared.

Taking an overnight train to France tonight...bound for Lourdes and Paris.

Already some spiritual fruits going on in our group as we are all bonding nicely and enjoying just about every minute of this (there are some sacrifices involved in our pilgrimage but everyone is offering them up quietly and generously).

Ciao for now!

Friday, August 05, 2011

World Youth Day bound!

Months ago, a boy I know emailed me about a crisis in faith he was having:

“Dear Fr. Greg, I am sad to say that I have drifted away from the church and not gone to mass for several months. My faith in God has been lost. But I want to believe I just don't know how…I need God, I just don't know how to get him…Do you think that you could help me find God again…”

We corresponded for a little bit, but months passed without word from him. Just this week, though, he sent me the following message which sounds a lot like a modern day parable. The boy assured me that it really happened. Amazing stuff!

“A boy was praying at camp. He was not sure if God existed, so he asked God if you are real make the wind blow hard on my skin. If you are real let a girl notice me. If any of these happen I will believe in you with all my heart. That second the wind blew so hard the tent blew away. At the end of the day A girl came up to the boy and said I dont know your name but I sat near you on the bus. Want to sign my goodbye card. Later that day the girl Facebook friended the boy. The boy later thanked God for his gift and believed in him with all his heart.

That boy was me.”

Leaving tomorrow on our World Youth Day pilgrimage! We’ll be back just before classes start.

GW Catholics, we can’t wait to see you back on campus! Bloggers, I’ll try to post about the trip during the next three weeks and will pray for you while we’re at the holy sites. Pray for the twelve of us!

We’re getting pumped for this:

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What is World Youth Day?

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that a group of us are going to World Youth Day in Madrid.  Nine GW students and three of us adults are heading to Madrid to join over 1,000,000 Catholic youth from all over the world as well as Pope Benedict.  From its title, many people think that it's just one day.  It's actually a week long event and the Pope is there for a few days.  We are making stops in Rome, Paris, and Lourdes, so it will actually be closer to a three week pilgrimage for us.  A pilgrimage is different from a vacation in that it is a spiritual journey; it has a holy purpose and goal.  It involves sacrifices and penances, mainly in the area of comfort.  We will go out of our comfort zones in some ways and hope that God showers us with graces as He usually does with pilgrims.

What is World Youth Day?  It is a Catholic celebration of and for youth from all over the world.  It was started in the 1980s by Pope John Paul II in order to gather young Catholics for catechesis, prayer, and celebration of our faith in Jesus Christ and to call young people to follow Christ and His Cross.  Millions of young people have grown in their Catholic faith, experienced the universality of the Church (how big the Church really is!), and found their vocations as a result of WYD.

Here is a video about the history of WYD.  Get excited, pilgrims!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Saints are legit!

I’m reading a book on the life of St. Bernadette, “A Holy Life”, by Patricia McEachern, Ph. D. It presents many of her writings and spiritual insights which are deep and profound. I have had a special love for St. Bernadette since I visited the site where the Blessed Mother appeared to her in 1858: Lourdes, France. It is an overwhelmingly grace-filled place. Many miracles have occurred at Lourdes in the past 150+ years, physically and spiritually (many people have been cured of physical diseases but also have had amazing spiritual conversions). This is especially meaningful and timely for us because a group of us from the Newman Center are going to Lourdes as part of our World Youth Day pilgrimage starting this Saturday, August 6. Pray for us!

As Cardinal McCarrick used to say, “I was thinking of you” when I read the following reflections on mortification by St. Bernadette. I wasn’t thinking that you should be practicing all that she writes (I don’t even live it…I have a long way to go to be a saint!). I was thinking that you would be amazed like me at the intensity of her thoughts. They are intense! She was a religious Sister of Charity who embraced suffering in union with Christ’s Cross; she died at the young age of 35. This book is filled with her journal-like writings, probably the first of its kind. I enjoy reading about saints tremendously, but especially about their interior lives. Stories about saints are incredible because they reveal the power of God’s grace through our nature. But, it is just as meaningful and maybe even more so to see what makes saints tick.

Saints are legit – legit in love with Christ and the Church…legit followers of the Gospel…legit men and women just like you and me…legit funny, smart, beautiful, etc. A glimpse into their internal lives is a glimpse into their souls which is where they have had a profound encounter with the living Christ and have been changed forever. As the following passage from St. Bernadette’s writings reveals, even something like mortification of the flesh which seems so foreign and unnatural to us is embraced and ultimately loved by the saints because it brings them in union with the Savior.

To learn more about mortification, please see my post from 2006 by clicking on today’s title.

“…Oh, yes, my Jesus! From now on, I want you alone to be my everything and my life. I shall follow you everywhere you go…Come my soul, courage. Climb to Calvary behind Jesus and Mary for just one more day. And then, with Jesus and Mary: Joy, Rejoicing, Eternity!

O good Cross! O precious thorns along the way, soon your wounds will be glorious.

A Religious must live with mortifications as a fish swims in water. For a Religious, there is something missing if she is not mortified. The serious practice of all her duties necessarily leads to practice of a continual mortification at every moment. If she is not mortified, she is lacking in her duty.

What is the source of offences against the Rule and against one’s vows? What is the source of the laxity of some communities? It is the fact that mortification has not been practiced or maintained. The mortification God asks of us is the precise observance of our Rule, its practices, its customs and the recommendations made by our superiors. A Sister who is truly faithful in this way practices mortifications judiciously and with absolutely no danger of vanity. I believe that she could enter Heaven without passing through the fires of Purgatory!

There are many daily mortifications that a recollected and attentive soul does not let slip away. For example, we please God when we get up in winter at the appointed hour without lingering and turning over in bed.

We should control our senses. Unrestrained curiosity is an obstacle to prayer. If someone enters the house, do not look or ask who it is. As for the sense of taste, we can practice any number of mortifications without anyone noticing it. A Religious should never express a preference for a particular food. You should never hear a Religious talk about food. It shows a lack of an interior life. When she goes to meals, she should be humbled by the fact that this necessity is an act we have in common with animals, then she should remember how the saints have acted.

A Religious who allows herself to eat and drink whatever she wants will never have an interior life…”

A pic of her incorrupt body (132 years after her death!)

Monday, August 01, 2011

18th Sunday - homily

I don't know how much of the debt crisis debate you've been following, but it's getting out of control. I've been watching the news talk shows on a couple different channels and I have never seen such anger and frustration toward politicians of both parties. I don't know if we are financially bankrupt yet, but, based on the level of anger, it sure seems that we are out of money.

With all that's going on with this very serious situation, the timing of our first reading is quite ironic. Listen again to the words of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah. It sounds as if God is speaking about our country:

Thus says the LORD:..
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.

One thing on which everyone agrees is that our government needs to cut spending. One of the main reasons we're in this mess is because leaders of both parties have been spending our money - our wages- on what is not bread...on things not needed...on things that don't satisfy. It's only now that we are all realizing that. If they had been spending money on programs across the board that satisfied all of us and our budget, then it would be a totally different situation and debate. We need to pray for our leaders this week, that they will heed the Lord and do what is right, not just for themselves or their party, but for the country so that we will all delight in rich fare.

We can take all of this and apply it to our moral lives as well. Have we made choices that have left us morally bankrupt? Have we chosen things that aren't bread, that aren't substantial or necessary? As our government has done much wasteful spending, have we gone after things that are a waste? For example, having a pure and chaste relationship with a significant other satisfies. This is like spending money on bread. On the other hand, unchaste relationships or acts don't satisfy...they are a waste. Sin is a waste! It's usually right after the act when a person realizes this. It's usually in Confession or preparing for Confession that a person realizes that sin doesn't doesn't make us happy.

Unfortunately for many of us, it's not until we have drained our moral bank accounts that we realize what satisfies us: the good. It's not until we see how wasteful vices are that we see how the virtues satisfy. Living the virtues means choosing the good consistently. What's good is what's from God. Only God and the things of God satisfy us.

God shows us one way how He satisfies in today's Gospel. It's the famous scene of Jesus feeding thousands by multiplying five loaves and two fish. It's one of the biggest moments in his ministry. He could have put on a much bigger "show". He has super powers! He could have done something much more spectacular, flashy, and entertaining. Instead, he simply fed a hungry crowd. He gave them what they needed. He satisfied them. That's what he does. He satisfies.

This story obviously points to the Eucharist. If you listened carefully, then you heard the Eucharistic language: "he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples". And, they were all satisfied. God is telling us that the bread He gives us - especially the Bread of Life - is what we are truly looking for. He is telling us that there all kinds of "presences" in the world - politics, riches, vices, whatever; the only presence that will really satisfy us is the Real Presence of His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist.