Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Are YOU ready for Mass this Sunday?

I know that we are all busy folk, but how many of us prepare for Sunday Mass? If you truly hope to enter into the beauty of the divine liturgy (heaven on earth), then you need to prayerfully prepare a little. If you do not do a little preparation, you might find yourself constantly distracted during the Mass, missing parts of the readings, etc. One great way to prepare for Mass is to read over the readings a few days before Sunday. ... Allow a couple days to mull over God's word... He will speak to you through those readings. Today is Wednesday, so why not check out the readings for next Sunday today (click here: ).

After you check out the readings, take a look at the following reflection on the readings. These weekly reflections are produced by Scott Hahn's St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology (I have a link to their site in my links section). Scott Hahn has written many interesting books on such topics as the Mass, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the sacrament of Confession, etc.
Biblical Reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings
copyright St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

"Bread Left Over"
[July 30, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time] [2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15]

Today's liturgy brings together several stands of Old Testament expectation to reveal Jesus as Israel's promised Messiah and king, the Lord who comes to feed His people.

Notice the parrallels between today's Gospel and the First Reading. Both Elisha and Jesus face a crowd of hungry people with only a few "barley" loaves. We hear similar words about how impossible it will be to feed the crowd with so little. And in both the miraculous multiplication of bread satisfies the hungry and leaves food left over.

The Elisha story looks back to Moses the prophet who fed God's people in the wilderness (see Exodus 16). Moses prophesied that God would send a prophet like him (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The crowd in today's Gospel, witnessing His miracle, identifies Jesus as that prophet.

The Gospel today again shows Jesus to be the Lord, the good shepherd, who makes His people lie down on green grass and speads a table before them (see Psalm 23:1, 5).

The miraculous feeding is a sign that God has begun to fulfill His promise, which we sing of in today's Psalm--to give His people food in due season and satisfy their desire (see Psalm 81:17).

But Jesus points to the final fulfillment of that promise in the Eucharist. He does the same things He does at the Last Supper--He takes the loaves, pronounces a blessing of thanksgiving (literally, "eucharist"), and gives the bread to the people (see Matthew 26:26). Notice, too, that 12 baskets of bread are left over, one for each of the apostles.

These are signs that should point us to the Eucharist--in which the Church founded on the apostles continues to feed us with the living bread of His body.

In this Eucharist, we are made one body with the Lord, as we hear in today's Epistle. Let us resolve again, then, to live lives worthy of such a great calling.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Saint of Lebanon ... pray for peace!

Well, today is the feast day of St. James, of course. Now, I do not mean to slight a great apostle by any means. However, it dawned on me that yesterday (July 24) the Church celebrated the optional memorial of a saint from Lebanon:
St. Sharbel Makhloof. Check out the link below to find out a little more on this interesting priest, monk, hermit, miracle worker, and incorruptible man of God. I know that he must be praying for peace in his homeland. Let's ask for his special intercession.

Who is St. Sharbel (Charbel)?:

NEWS articles on Lebanon/Middle East crisis:

“On eve of summit, pope says prayers for Mideast might be working”

“Lebanese bishops ask U.N. to seek cease-fire to protect civilians”

“Maronite priest says war has not divided Lebanese Christians, Muslims”

“Catholic aid agencies accept donations for Middle East crisis”



Monday, July 24, 2006

Bite-size wisdom (build one another up, do not tear down!)

I also would like to occasionally post maxims—brief little sayings that can speak volumes about the spiritual life. Maxims have always been part of the Christian tradition: The Book of Sirach, Proverbs, the proverbs and sayings of Jesus (i.e.—“it is more blessed to give than to receive”—Acts 20:35), the early hermits and desert fathers, and St. John of the Cross, to name a few. Read, and mull over. Enjoy!


“To criticize, to destroy, is not difficult;
the clumsiest laborer knows how to drive his pick into the noble and finely hewn stone of a cathedral.
To construct—that is what requires the skill of a master.”

St. Josemaria Escrivá, The Way, #456

(see related Scripture passages: Rom 14:19; 15:2; and 1 Thess 5:11)

[PS: Just who is St. Josemaria Escrivá? He was the founded of Opus Dei (again, famous to most from the DaVinci Code book and film) and was recently canonized. To find out more about Opus Dei (no, they are not really a band of murderous albino monks) go to their website:

A biography of St. Josemaria: ]


Will the REAL Mary Magdalene please stand up?

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

Saturday (July 22) was the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene has received a great deal of buzz lately due to her role in the DaVinci Code blockbuster. I am told that the novel has some rather fanciful things to say about her. According to Catholic author and apologist Jimmy Akin, “if one wants to force Jesus into the role of being married, Mary Magdalene is one of the few prominent and (seemingly) available women to be pushed into the role of being his wife” (Cracking the DaVinci Code, p. 29). Why is this so? Mary Magdalene is one of the few women disciples of Christ who is prominent, whose name we know, and whom we don’t know was married to someone else. Other female disciples of Jesus were either known to be married to others (Joanna the wife of Chuza--Lk 8:3) or were too insignificant ("the other Mary"--Mt 28:1) or went unnamed in the Gospels (the Syro-Phoenecian woman--Mt 15:28).
Of course, the Magdalene was NOT married to Jesus. What we DO know about Mary of Magdala comes to us from Scripture.

We know Jesus cast 7 demons out of Mary Magdalene and that she was among some of the women who then followed and ministered to Christ in Galilee (Luke 8:2). A long-enduring tradition in the Church has also labeled Mary as a former prostitute, identifying her with the unnamed sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in Luke 7:36-50 (see also Jn 12:1-8). Many contemporary Scripture scholars refute this identification and argue that there is no scriptural evidence that Mary was a prostitute (see the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, for example). Whatever the case, we can at least assume that she was a sinner like the rest of us, and was 100% devoted to Jesus after he had healed her—her love knew no bounds! (Jesus' words would still apply to Mary--"her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love"--Lk 7:47)

St. Mary Magdalene’s true legacy can be found in the fact that she was among 2 other women to first see the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning (Mk 16:1-8). Mark’s gospel states that the Risen Christ first appeared to Mary (Mk 16:9) and commissioned her to announce his coming heavenly ascension to the apostles (Mk 20:11-18, Jn 20:17). The Byzantine tradition calls Mary “the apostle to the apostles” for it was she who first announced the good news to them: “I have seen the Lord” (Jn 20:18).

So, while many of us like to read fiction because such books can “tell a great story.” We must remember, however, that when it comes to our Lord and the saints, we already have stories of true beauty in the Gospels… stories that can teach us essential truths about the spiritual life. Let’s not forget to reflect upon St. Mary Magdalene’s life so that we can grow closer to our Lord. (That is, I am sure, what she desires for us as she enjoys heaven.)

For a short/snappy meditation on St. Mary Magdalene, see the following link:
For information on the DaVinci Code, see the following link:

Now, I will include a homily on St. Mary Magdalene from another wonderful saint, church father, and doctor of the Church—St. Gregory the Great, pope, who lived from 540-604 ad. (this homily is found in the Liturgy of the Hours, the Office of Readings for July 22; Hom. 25, 1-2.4-5: PL 76, 1189-1193)

Gospel: John 20:1-2, 11-18

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and did not find the Lord’s body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: The disciples went back home, and it adds: but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb.

We should reflect on Mary’s attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tells us: Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved.

At first she sought but did not find, but when she persevered it happened that she found what she was looking for. When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. Holy desires likewise grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires. Anyone who succeeds in attaining the truth has burned with such a great love. As David says: My soul has thirsted for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? And so also in the Song of Songs the Church says: I was wounded by love; and again: My soul is melted with love.

Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek? She is asked why she is sorrowing so that her desire might be strengthened; for when she mentions whom she is seeking, her love is kindled all the more ardently.

Jesus says to her: Mary. Jesus is not recognized when he calls her “woman”; so he calls her by name, as though he were saying: Recognize me as I recognize you; for I do not know you as I know others; I know you as yourself. And so Mary, once addressed by name, recognizes who is speaking. She immediately calls him rabboni, that is to say, teacher, because the one whom she sought outwardly was the one who inwardly taught her to keep on searching.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Poetry Break ("Today")

I hope to occasionally post some poems when I come across them. Take a quick break, ponder a little ...

I will do nothing
but grow
and so draw
to the moment
of eternal union
with you –
how wonderful
to achieve so much
by doing nothing

--Fr. Ralph Wright, OSB. From Leaves of Water


What is "Swallowed Scroll"?

"I want YOU to be a prophet!"

Why "Swallowed Scroll"?

Why is this weblog named after a Scripture account of God calling a prophet? Well, we all have a great challenge before us. By virtue of our baptism, we are ALL called by God to a share in the prophetic role of Jesus Christ! Being a prophet does not mean that you can expect to predict the future or receive some new revelations from God (sorry, public revelation ended with the apostles). Being a prophet DOES mean being a witness and proclaiming the good news (gospel) of salvation to the world. Again, this is not just the job of priests and nuns—this is for ALL the baptized. As baptized Christians, we are challenged to:

1.) delve deeply into God’s revelation through Sacrede Scripture and the teachings of His Church (that is, to “eat this scroll” as the Lord told Ezekiel) and

(2.) to proclaim that divine message through our actions and words to both those within the Church and the wider world (to “go, speak to the house of Israel”). [“Israel” was the name for the original People of God—God desires all people to be a part of the NEW family of God—the Church]
We must remember that evangelization means sharing our faith with both non-believers AND also with those fellow believers who need a deeper faith.

The newly released Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states this idea nicely: “The people of God… share in Christ’s prophetic office when with a supernatural sense of faith they adhere unfailingly to that faith and deepen their understanding and witness to it.” --Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #155.

So, to “adhere unfailingly” to the faith means that we TRUST God who reveals Himself to us—a God who will never deceive us. We trust God’s Church (the body of Christ) when she hands down the truths of the faith to us and continues to teach us as our loving mother. Even if we do not initially understand a particular Church teaching, we must have humility and pledge to study the teaching so that we can come to understand and embrace it.

In order to “deepen [our] understanding” of the faith, we must study Scripture, the teachings of the Church (especially in the Catechism), and most of all PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. This is how you EAT THE SCROLL (that is, the word of God),… you feed on God’s word by reading Scripture, praying with the Scripture, and receiving the sacraments (especially Confession and the Eucharist). Once you begin to assimilate God’s word into your own life, you can be a powerful witness to a word that is starving for truth.

I hope that this little website can help point out some resources that may aid you in your personal spiritual growth and your efforts to teach the faith to others. Our Catholic faith is so deep and rich,… there is a great deal to cover, but even the longest journey begins with a small step… let’s get going and dig in!

PS: yes, the picture at the top is an icon of the prophet Ezekiel