Tuesday, December 31, 2013

8 day feast of Christmas + a New Year's blessing

(from a Catholic blog -http://catholichotdish.com/faith-and-reasons/the-grinch-and-the-christmas-octave/)

It feels a little like the Grinch comes on Christmas Night for real. The same way that troubled green creature hauled out every trace of Christmas from Whoville, our culture removes all the signs that the Holy Day ever happened.

Trees wrapped in plastic are cast onto the curb, Christmas items are deep-discounted for quick sale on the Dec. 26 shopping holiday and Christmas music all but disappears from the airwaves.
When it comes to Christmas, the world could learn something about partying from Catholics.

The 36 hours from Christmas Eve through Christmas Night are just the beginning–our festivities go on for eight days. This liturgical octave of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and continues until the Solemnity of the Mother of God (New Year’s Day).

Besides offering seven more days for feasting and merriment, the Church has a serious reason for designating an octave celebration of Christ’s birth, along with octaves for Easter and Pentecost. It’s to help us contemplate the mysteries of these feasts experienced in the Church’s liturgies.

Old Testament roots

The octave commemoration has its origins in the Old Testament. On the eighth day, circumcision occurs in the Jewish faith, representing God’s covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. The Feast of Tabernacles and other feasts were celebrated for seven days but the eighth day also carried special significance.

In the fourth century, the Church gave Easter and Pentecost octaves possibly because it allowed for an extended retreat for the newly-baptized. Also, since both of those feasts always fall on Sunday, the octave day of the following Sunday seems like a natural closing for a week of festivities.

The Church introduced the octave of Christmas in the eighth century. Other octaves were added for Epiphany, Corpus Christi and saints. Until the middle of the 20th century, octaves were ranked in importance. For the most “privileged” octaves, no work was done nor other feasts celebrated.
In 1955, Pope Pius XII simplified the calendar so that the Church recognizes only the octaves of Easter, Pentecost and Christmas.

Feasts within the Feast

As she celebrates Christ’s Nativity, the Church also commemorates these feasts during the octave of Christmas:
  • Dec. 26: Feast of St. Stephen
  • Dec. 27: Feast of St. John the Evangelist
  • Dec. 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents
  • Dec. 30: Feast of the Holy Family
  • Jan. 1:     Octave day of the Nativity, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
One of the ways to commemorate the octave of Christmas is by attending daily Mass:
The octave’s primary observation is by celebrating daily Mass in thanksgiving for Christ, with the gospel readings centered around the Incarnation and early years of Jesus’ life. The wisdom of the Church begins the octave with the birth of Jesus and ends it on the eighth day with the veneration of Mary’s role in the Incarnation.
Feasting and merriment are both in order for the octave of Christmas, as well as visiting family, visiting the sick and elderly, and helping the poor. Also, here are prayers and activities for each of the octave days.

In the end, the Grinch was converted and embraced Christmas. Maybe as we give this Holy feast its proper place on the calendar, our culture won’t unplug the Christmas lights so fast and will let the Nativity celebration continue.

Merry Christmas!


Every good gift comes from the Father of light.
May He grant you His grace and every blessing,
and keep you safe throughout the coming year.

R. Amen!

May He grant you unwavering faith,
constant hope, and love that endures to the end.

R. Amen!

May He order your days and work in His peace,
hear your every prayer,
and lead you to everlasting life and joy.

R. Amen!

May almighty God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.

R. Amen!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Homily - "Mary and Joseph: open to life"

(Given at St Catherine Laboure Church in Maryland).

I'm the chaplain at the Newman Center at George Washington University in DC. On breaks, I help out at parish Masses like this morning. At a parish Mass one Sunday a few years ago, the second reading was the same as ours today which includes the famous line, “wives be subordinate to your husbands”. After Mass, an older couple told me a funny story of what happened with this line.  As the reading was being proclaimed, the husband nudged his wife on the arm, as if to gloat that she was subordinate to him.  She didn’t take kindly to this.  Then, I preached the homily and explained the line.  I said that being subordinate (or submissive) means to be “under the mission of”.  Wives are to be under the mission of their husbands.  What is the mission of husbands?  St. Paul writes in Ephesians 5, a husband is to love his wife “as Christ loves the Church”.  A husband is to love and serve his wife as Christ loves and serves the Church.  So, I explained, wives are to let their husbands serve them.  When I said this, the wife landed a huge elbow into her husband’s arm as if to say, “you serve me, buddy”!

It is a tall task, indeed, for husbands and wives to love each other as Christ and the Church love each other.  Christ gives his love to his bride, the Church.  She receives his love…just as a woman receives her husband’s love in the physical act.  She receives his love and returns it to him.  Think of what happens in the vows at a wedding: the man gives his life to his bride (as Christ gives his life to the Church), she receives his promises, and then gives hers to him.  They both act in persona Christi (“in the person of the Christ”); they act as Christ to the other.  By the way, it’s the only sacrament that the priest (or bishop) is not the celebrant.  Their task is to live out what they promised: to act as Christ to the other “until death does us part”.

Is this possible?  Some of my students at GW struggle to believe this because they never saw this model in their parents growing up.  Of course, the pool of faithful husbands and wives has shrunk in the current generation.  But, I can (and do) point them to examples like Sts. Joseph and Mary. In fact, they are the example for college students and adults everywhere.  How did they stay so committed and faithful to each other?  How did they live out the readings today, and remain as the Holy Family? A big clue comes in the Gospel that some of us heard on Christmas Eve.  It said that Joseph “did as the Lord commanded him” through the message of an angel.  He did as the Lord commanded him…even though it would change his life forever to stay with Mary who was pregnant with child even though they hadn’t had relations.  He didn’t question it.  He didn’t complain.  He just did it.  Mary, too, did as the Lord commanded her through the message of an angel.  What a huge message it was!  And, she was between 14-16 years old.  To hear that kind of message at 14 – that you would give birth to the Son of the Most High – and respond with “yes” is beyond remarkable.  And, yet, they both did as the Lord commanded.

They didn’t do as society commanded… or as the culture commanded….or friends…or family…or doctors.  I see the commands of a secular society up close and personal every day on campus.  And, they are often the opposite of what God commands. Young people are under so much pressure to sleep together, cohabitate, and use contraception.  Many of our young women were put on the pill by their doctors or even parents at a very young age.  Knowing the danger it does to their bodies and relationships, some are choosing to get off of it.  Probably half of my couples that I prepare for marriage are living together...then I read them the findings of a government study that found that 78% of couples who live together before getting married get divorced.  Cohabitation and contraception are preparation for divorce; chastity and Natural Family Planning (NFP) are preparation for marriage.  The divorce rate among couples that use contraception is about 50%; it’s less than 5% for couples that use NFP. Jesus says, "by their fruits you will know them".

The big point is for couples – and really all of us – to be open to God’s Plan.  The big problem about contraception is that it closes a couple off to God’s Will. It prevents procreation (open to life) as well as union between the spouses.  It’s like a barrier between them.  Using NFP doesn’t mean that a couple will have 20 kids.  It means that a couple is communicating with each other and with the Lord about how many kids He wills them to have.  It means greater communication, greater intimacy, and sacrifice which are all cornerstones of a healthy and lifelong marriage.  It gives a couple a better chance at imitating Mary and Joseph in being able to hear God and doing what He commands.  

Finally, Mary and Joseph couldn’t do it on their own, and neither can couples today.  They were both filled with the Holy Spirit.  At every wedding Mass, I say to the couple that the Eucharist is to be the center of their marriage.  Jesus promises tremendous fruit for any of us who eat his flesh and drink his blood.  It is the way for all of us to live as Christ on earth….this is what he mainly promises about the Eucharist.  Of course, the fruits of marriage are children. Every child is the fruit of his or his parents' love.  Jesus is the fruit of Mary and Joseph's love - how they bring him into the world, nurture, form, and shape him to be our Savior. Through their openness to God and to life, our salvation is born...our hope is born...our life is born. Through them, we have Jesus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Find the Perfect Gift"


Monday, December 16, 2013

Homily - "God comes to save us!"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.
A priest friend of mine used to say,  "if you don't believe in original sin, pick up a newspaper". Sin and selfishness is all around us, and we see examples of it every day. "Me first" started in the garden with Adam and Eve, and continues in so many evil ways in our world. We read about another shooting at a school- in Colorado on Friday, just one day before the one year anniversary of the Newtown school shooting. We read about violence and crimes all around our city, country, and world. We read about lying, cheating and fraud - the latest being the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's service. We read about evil in our culture - in marriages, families, and among young people. It's even in the sports section! There was a commentary in yesterday's paper that pride among those who run the Washington Redskins is what's ruining the team. Pride is what led to original sin; St Augustine said it is the root of all evil.

Original sin messed up so much. Before the fall, there was perfect harmony in creation, between God and man, and with man (male and female) himself. They were naked and didn't even notice it. But, the first sin brought them shame, broke the relationship with God, closed the gates of Heaven, and sent the order of the universe into chaos. Suffering and death resulted from this, as well as moral evil (like what I described in the newspaper), physical evil (diseases, for example), and natural evil (typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, etc.). None of this existed before the fall.

Christ restored so much of what was lost in the garden. We know that He redeemed moral evil in His death and resurrection. He worked miracles to restore nature. And, we hear in today's readings that He restored what was lost physically for some people. In fact, the prophet Isaiah said these would be among the signs of the Messianic age - that the blind would have their sight restored, the deaf would hear, etc. When Jesus tells the disciples of John the Baptist to relay to him that the Messiah had come, he uses these signs as the evidence. Isaiah's prophesy that "our God has come to save us" is true in Jesus Christ!

He has come to save us, and continues to come to save us. The signs of the Messianic Age are still with us today, and should be making the papers. These things are happening even at GW...the Hatchet should be covering them!  There are many examples of each, but I will choose one.  One of our young ladies was begging God this semester that she could see Him working in her life, particularly with relationships.  She had been meeting a bunch of jerks prior to this, and wanted the Lord to show her a good guy.  One day after Mass (a Mass she doesn’t normally attend), she bumped into a good guy…someone that she knows and likes.  They have been talking since; he may be Mr. Right.  One of our guys hadn’t been able to hear God for so long in prayer.  Recently, though, he did.  How huge is it to hear God speaking to us!  I know that so many of you long to hear the voice of God.  One student said two years ago that she wasn’t able to speak about God or Jesus or the Church to people.  But, just this semester she led discussions with her peers about faith.  And, she gave a talk on campus to people of different religions about her Catholic faith which was beautiful and solid.  Last week, some students came to Advent Confessions spiritually dead because of sin.  They were raised to new life spiritually through the sacrament.  At the Healing Mass last month, I didn’t hear that the lame walked – there were no physical healings that I know of – but several people told me that they received personal healings which are even more significant.  We brought FOCUS her four years ago to bring the good news to the spiritually poor, and they have continued to do that this semester.  In general, many here had been spiritually deaf and blind to the teaching on the Real Presence (because you hadn’t heard the teaching before or seen it as the Body and Blood of Christ), but now you are raised to new life in the Eucharist.

Jesus would say that you all are greater than St. John the Baptist even though “among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist”.  You are greater than him because your works are greater.  They are part of the Kingdom of God on earth….they are part of the Messianic Age.  John preceded all of this, but you are in the midst of it.  God’s works through you are greater.

Finally, when are home celebrating Christmas, look at that baby – the Christ child – as your hope.  Our hope is born on Christmas.  The kid is the sign of our hope…and that everything will be okay.  God comes to save us!  Hope is so important in the spiritual life.  The worst thing we can do is lose hope; discouragement is the greatest tool of the devil.  Christmas is the sign of our hope, and a sign that God loves you…and that you are good.  At Christmas, wow….God comes to save us.


Friday, December 13, 2013

"The Surprising Surge in Catholic Priests"

Click HERE to view a video interview, "The Surprising Surge in Catholic Priests", and here to read the corresponding article from the Wall Street Journal.

Here is the report from the USCCB last year: 



Priesthood (slight but steady increase of seminarians and ordinations since 2006)

 Ordinations

1995: 511
2000: 442
2005: 454
2012: 480

 Major Seminarians (seminarians in major seminaries)

1995: 3,172
2000: 3,474
2005: 3,308
2012: 3,723

 Average age at ordination is mid-thirties and is trending slightly younger.

 Ordinands are more ethnically diversified than in the past (in 2012: 71 percent Anglo; 15 percent Hispanic; 9 percent Asian or Pacific Islander; 3 percent African or African American). However, this trend has not caught up with the increased ethnic diversification in the Catholic population as a whole.

 Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States.

Religious Life

    Most religious institutes are experiencing severe challenges in the recruitment of new religious, although some are experiencing a surge of young vocations.

There is ethnic diversity here as well with a spike in professions from the Asian community (professions in 2012: 69 percent Anglo; 8 percent Hispanic; 15 percent Asian or Pacific Islander; 2 percent African or African American).

 The brotherhood is particularly challenged. The number of brothers in the US has declined precipitously: 6,535 (1995) to 5,451 (2005) to 4,477 (2012).

 The average age of religious of the Profession Class of 2012 was 39.

Good news: the recent survey by the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reports that over 600,000 never-married Catholics (aged 14-35) have "seriously considered" a call to the priesthood or religious life. The key factors correlated with the consideration of a vocation were all relational.

There was a much greater likelihood for a young man or woman to consider a vocation if they:

 Attended a Catholic school (men who attended Catholic high school were 6 times more likely to consider a vocation)

 Participated in parish youth groups (women who participated in a high school parish youth group were 9 times more likely to consider a vocation)

 Were personally encouraged to consider a vocation

 Personally knew a priest, seminarian, or religious

U.S.-born Hispanics are a significant untapped demographic. Less than five percent of the Hispanic ordinands were U.S.-born Hispanics. Yet 70 percent of young Hispanics in the U.S. are non-immigrant.

The percentage of Hispanics who are in seminary, ordained or professed are significantly less than the percentage of Hispanic in the US Catholic population. Hispanics make up 41 percent of all US Catholics born 1961-81 and 48 percent of all U.S. Catholics born after 1981. In 2012, the number of Hispanic ordinands (15 percent) and professed (8 percent) demonstrates the gap.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pope Francis's condolences to South Africa

The Pope's telegram to the South African President, Jacob Zuma:

It was with sadness that I learned of the death of former President Nelson Mandela, and I send prayerful condolences to all the Mandela family, to the members of the Government and to all the people of South Africa. In commending the soul of the deceased to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, I ask the Lord to console and strengthen all who mourn his loss. Paying tribute to the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth, I pray that the late President’s example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations. With these sentiments, I invoke upon all the people of South Africa divine gifts of peace and prosperity.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Homily - "Imitate and Follow SJB"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.

When I was out of the seminary the last time, my sister-in-law set me up on a date with a young woman who was Catholic (although wasn’t practicing at the time) and very nice.  We met up for coffee on our first date and hit it off really well.  That led to a second date for dinner.  She knew that I had been in the seminary twice.  So, at dinner, she asked me questions about the Church the whole time…through dinner, through dessert, and even after that.  I was thinking, ‘yeah, I like talking about this stuff, but come on, lady, this is a date!’  The classic line of the night was what she said at the end, “wow, I thought you wanted to be a priest because you’re a nice guy.  I didn’t know you were so religious”.  Hmmm…check, please!
Now, it’s not the best example, but I tell that story because of my sister-in-law.  I don’t fault her at all; we were all up against something else (my call to be a priest).  But, in the language of today’s readings, she “prepared the way” for that date.  I trusted her judgment about the young woman, and went ahead with the date.  She was the way for me to meet her.  I wouldn’t have had that experience (and a pretty funny story) if it wasn’t for her.  It’s the same way with so many of you on this campus.  You “prepare the way of the Lord” for so many other students at GW.  When you invite your friends to Mass or confessions after Mass like tonight, Newman Center, Bible study ,or whatever, you prepare the way of the Lord for them.  You are the way to Christ for them. They trust you, and go ahead with coming to Christ.  In that way, you imitate St. John the Baptist.

Two things I ask of you: Imitate and follow John the Baptist.  This is IF: Imitate and Follow.  Imitate him in preparing the way of the Lord.  He was the precursor to Christ.  He prepared the way of the Lord for all of us.  You are the precursor to Christ for your friends on campus.  My sister-in-law was the precursor to that young woman.  Prepare the way of the Lord!  Imitate and follow St. John the Baptist.  Follow his first word, “repent”! Repent means to turn away from sin and turn towards the Lord.  It means to have a conversion of heart. John repented for himself and others.  And, his example is what prepared the way of the Lord for others.  Follow his example of repentance – maybe not in eating grasshoppers and wild honey, but in living for Christ and holiness.  Preparing the way of the Lord in our own lives is the most effective way to prepare the way of the Lord for others.
We should repent every day, not just during Advent.  But, in a special way, the Lord calls us to repent to prepare the way of the Lord at Christmas.  We prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts.  We make straight his paths…make straight the path for him. The best way to repent, to prepare our hearts, to make straight the paths for the Lord is Confession.  It’s the best way to prepare for Christmas, and to enjoy it fully.  The best birthday present you can give Jesus is your sins…he wants them!  He died for them to be forgiven.  We will have three priests offering confessions after Mass.  We have guides to Confession in the back of Church to help you prepare for this sacrament of mercy….sacrament of repentance….to fully repent and be freed of your sins.   Repentance brings freedom!

Going through the guide is helpful to examine our conscience because we may not be aware of how we sin.  For example, under the first commandment, I might not have been involved in the occult, butdo I put God ahead of everyone and everything?  Or, do I put other people or things ahead of Him?  Do I pray daily?  Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin?  Mortal sin is a grave offense – and not everything I will go through here is a grave offense – which means it is seriously wrong, I know it is seriously wrong, and I freely choose to do it.  If we have committed a mortal sin, we need to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist.  We need to prepare for the coming of the Lord in the Eucharist by being in a state of grace. Have I taken God’s name in vain?  Here’s an example: saying GD or JC (in vain) knowingly and freely is mortal; OMG is venial. 
Do I keep Sunday as a day of prayer, rest, and relaxation? Have I deliberately come late or left early from Mass without a good reason?  Do I honor and respect my parents and those in authority? Have I participated in any way in an abortion?  Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Have I used contraception? Have I engaged in sexual activity outside of marriage? Have I looked at pornography?  Have I masturbated? Have I told impure jokes or used impure language?   

Have I stolen or cheated or pirated materials? Do I share with the poor according to my means? Have I lied or plagiarized or gossiped?  Have I ruined the good name of others by spreading lies? Have I pursued or entertained impure thoughts?  Have I looked at impure scenes from movies, shows, or plays deliberately to be aroused? Am I envious of what other people have in terms of gifts or possessions?  Is there someone I refuse to love? Is there someone I refuse to forgive?  Have I not forgiven myself for things that I’ve already confessed?
Have I deliberately missed Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation without a serious reason? Have I been to Confession in the past year? Do I contribute to the material needs of the Church as best I can?

And, the seven deadly sins: pride (selfishness…one definition of sin is “me first”), anger, lust, envy, greed, sloth (laziness), and gluttony (overeating/overdrinking).

We go through all of this to fully repent, get right with God, and to experience full freedom .  Sins weigh us down, so the more we give them to the Lord, the freer we are.  It’s like having a great weight lifted from our shoulders!  And, the beauty of being Catholic is that we hear from Christ through the priest that we are forgiven.  That is so healing to hear that all of this stuff is forgiven.  Maybe it’s major stuff going back five or ten years…we hear that it’s all forgiven, and that it’s done.  God has forgiven us!  We then just need to forgive ourselves.  But, that experience of freedom and healing is why Confession has spiked up among GW Catholics the past few years.  You have had that experience and have told others about it, and they have come.  You have prepared the way of the Lord for them in Confession!
Continue to imitate and follow St. John the Baptist in preparing the way of the Lord for others and in your own lives.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Big weekend: basketball, confessions

“Confession: Coming home for Christmas”

Two priests will be available to GW Catholics for Confession after the 7:30 pm student Mass this Sunday, December 8, along with Father Greg.  If you or your friends have been away for a time, you are invited to come home fully to the Church in time for Christmas through Reconciliation. Don’t be afraid to invite them.  What a great early birthday present to give to Christ -  your sins!


2013 BB&T Classic
100 seasons ago, GW men's basketball defeated Maryland for its first-ever varsity basketball victory. In this 100th season, the Colonials take on the Terrapins in the BB&T Classic, benefitting the Children's Charities Foundation, on Sunday, December 8th. Your game ticket is also valid for the George Mason vs. Oklahoma contest, which will take place prior to the Colonials' clash with the Terrapins...

All BB&T Classic Tickets will be seated in Sections 102-103 or Sections 119-120 at the Verizon Center and will be assigned first come, first serve. For questions, please call 202-994-7325...

STUDENTS: GW students with a valid GWorld card can pick up their tickets to the BB&T Classic for FREE from the Smith Center Box Office during regular business hours (M-F, 9:30am-5:30pm). Each student can pick up one ticket per GWorld card. Tickets will also be available for pickup at the Box Office during the Women's Basketball game against Towson on Saturday, December 7. Doors open at 1pm for the 2pm tipoff.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"The Final Exam"

The Final Exam

Four best friends from a university took chemistry and all of them had an 'A' so far.  These four friends were so confident that the weekend before finals, they decided to visit some friends and have a big party.  They had a great time but, after all the hearty partying, they slept all day Sunday and didn't make it back to town until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final then, they decided that after the final they would explain to their professor why they missed it.  They said that they visited friends but on the way back they had a flat tire.  As a result, they missed the final.  The professor agreed they could make up the final the next day.  The guys were excited and relieved.  They studied that night for the exam. 

 The next day the Professor placed them in separate rooms and gave them a test booklet.  They quickly answered the first problem worth 5 points.  Cool, they thought!  Each one in separate rooms, thought this was going to be easy ... then they turned the page.  On the second page was written...

For 95 points:     Which tire?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Homily - "Judgment is like a blind date"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.
Happy New Year! The first Sunday of Advent is New Years Day in the Church as it begins a new liturgical year. Advent is also a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. It's a season of preparation and penance. We should be doing acts of penance or charity during Advent.  We prepare for and celebrate the 1st coming of Christ, as Advent leads to Christmas. But, the readings also help us to prepare for the 2nd coming of Christ.  Jesus says, "be prepared"..."for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come".

How can we be prepared? Examples from society help to show how we are prepared in other ways. The motto of the Boy Scouts is "be prepared". Businesses should always be prepared for an audit, so they keep good books. Some people learn self-defense techniques in being prepared for an attack on the streets. These are examples of being prepared for something bad. But, people are prepared for good things, too! Engaged couples prepare for marriage, and men and women prepare for religious and consecrated life by entering seminaries, convents, and religious communities.

Two metaphors stand out about Christ's 2nd coming / judgment.  First, it’s like a pop quiz…the most dreaded part of school. You never know when it will happen so you always need to know your stuff.  Second, judgment will be like a blind date….you don’t know how it will go. If you've ever been on a blind date as I have (you see how well that turned out for me), going into it you know the person vaguely through others, or through their Facebook profile, or in talking to them. But, you don't know how it will go when you meet the person. With Jesus, we know him through others, or through his Gospel profile, or in talking to Him in prayer. But, we know Him now as Savior. In the 1st coming, He came as Savior; in the 2nd coming, He will come as Judge. We don't know how it will go in person with Him as Judge.

Some of the language He uses in today's Gospel gives us an indication. He says that some will be "taken" and some will be "left". He references those on the ark with Noah. He doesn't say they were sinning, just that they were doing ordinary things like "eating and drinking". But, the point is that they didn't give a thought about God, or judgment, or an impending disaster. Their sin was carelessness; they didn't care about anything other than worldly or secular desires. St. Paul describes these as "desires of the flesh" and tells us to make no provision for them. The prophet Isaiah urged people to "climb the mountain of the Lord". It's like the bumper sticker that we've seen: "this car climbed Mount Washington". That's great, but it should be accompanied by one that says, "this soul is climbing the mountain of the Lord". We should be concerned with the things of God as well as the things of the world.

Three ways to be prepared for the coming of Christ / judgment. First, choose what is good in your daily life. Christ references people who were taken while doing good in ordinary ways - out in the field and grinding at the mill. It helps to be surrounded by good people in order to choose the good. St Don Bosco once said that "one who associates with those who are good with be with them in Heaven". Second, live in a state of Grace. "Cast off the deeds of darkness - drunkenness, promiscuity, lust" - as St Paul writes, with the help of Confession. "Put on the Lord Jesus" in the Eucharist. Going to Confession regularly and receiving the Eucharist at Mass every Sunday are the best ways to be prepared. Third, always be ready. I celebrated a funeral Mass last Saturday for the mother of a friend of mine.  She and her husband of 51 years were walking across the street when a car hit them. She died, and her husband just came out of a coma. I said at the funeral that we always have to be ready because we never know when our time will come. Always be ready with God as I have been saying. Always be ready with family. Tell your family regularly how you feel about them...and that you love them. Reconcile with them if you need. Always be ready with life. Live each day as if it's your last. It's such a cliche, but it really seems that's what Christ is saying. People who try to live this way find the great joys of life.

When we are prepared and are ready to go at any time, we are filled with tremendous peace. And, we experience the great joys of life. We can expect that peace and joy to continue on our blind date with Christ the Judge and forever in His Kingdom.