COR THOUGHTS 241: A Heart That Gives Itself to Those in Misery

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Oh the misery of Job! This Sunday’s first reading is hard to take: “I have been assigned months of misery …. I shall not see happiness again,” laments this tortured servant of the Lord. The Church’s readings, however, don’t leave us dangling in that misery for long. Right away we hear the Psalm Response: “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.” A broken heart is a heart prepared and open to receive the mercy of the Lord, like a bride prepared and open to receive her bridegroom. Mercy: the Latin is misericordia, which means “a heart that gives itself to those in misery.” Our misery, far from repulsing God, is what attracts his heart to us! This message of tender, loving mercy is the good news of the Gospel. It’s what compels St. Paul to say “woe to me if I do not preach it!” (second reading). “For this purpose have I come,” says Jesus in this week’s Gospel. For what purpose? To touch, kiss, and heal our misery. No wonder “Everyone is looking for you,” Jesus (Gospel). Grant us the grace to open wide our wounds to your healing, merciful love. Amen.

235. How Campus Ministers Can Transform Student Life with the Theology of the Body

Students and tourists rest in lawn chairs in Harvard Yard, the open old heart of Harvard University campus

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by colleague and friend Mike St. Pierre, executive director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association (CCMA), for their podcast episode on how Catholic campus ministers can utilize John Paul II’s “theology of the body” in their important roles.

We talked about obstacles Catholic campus ministers face as well as a couple of steps they can take to strengthen their faith and, subsequently, their influence as campus ministers. Below are a couple of excerpts, and you can listen to the full interview at the end of this post. I’d love to hear your advice for campus ministers in the comments of our Facebook and Twitter posts.

Mike St. Pierre: For our listeners, most of whom are ministering to college students, what would you say are the obstacles that the culture places in front of college students that makes it harder to accept that truth of who they are?

COR THOUGHTS 240: Anxious to Please the Lord

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In this weekend’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that an unmarried person is anxious to please the Lord, while a married person is anxious to please his or her spouse. Of course, as St. John Paul II notes, every Christian who lives his faith fervently is anxious to please the Lord (see TOB 84:1). Indeed, spouses “please the Lord” greatly by living their marriage vocation faithfully. And an important aspect of that fidelity is recognizing that married love – as great as it is meant to be – is not the ultimate satisfaction of our heart’s desire. It’s only a foreshadowing of the eternal Marriage of Christ and the Church. A person can “be anxious,” John Paul II tells us, “only about what is truly close to his heart” (TOB 83:7). As important as a spouse should be to one’s heart, the Lord should be more important. “I am telling you this for you own benefit,” Paul says, “not to impose a restraint on you.” He’s not telling people they shouldn’t marry. If that is their “gift from the Lord,” they should. But they shouldn’t treat their spouse as a God-substitute. This is the power of the celibate witness when it is lived as Christ intended: it doesn’t devalue marriage; it shows us that the ultimate fulfillment of marriage is what the saints call “nuptial union with the Lord.”

234. Don’t Miss Out on This Musical Soul-food

Mike Mangione’s Latest Album Ascends New Heights

Mike Mangione But Ive Seen the Stars cover

If you’ve attended a live presentation of mine over the last several years, chances are you’ve heard the soulful cry of Mike Mangione’s music. From the first time I heard Mike perform, I knew he was an “artist of the ache” – a guy who was brave enough to tap into that abyss of yearning in the human heart and give voice to it in his art. Since his band first accompanied my presentations at World Youth Day in Sydney (2008), Mike’s music has been an integral part of what I do whenever his busy touring schedule has allowed.

Speaking of busyness, my own has made writing this review of Mike’s latest album long overdue. But I’ve Seen the Stars was released in October. New albums in my life – the good ones, that is – typically seem “new” for about two months. But four months on and I’m still listening to Mike’s latest with the enthusiasm I had the first week it came out.

COR THOUGHTS 239: The Time of Fulfillment

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The readings this weekend speak of the need to change our lives in light of the fact that “the time is running out” (second reading) and “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Gospel). “This is the time of fulfillment,” announces Jesus. “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” In short, the good news that we are to believe in is that God created us to share in the eternal bliss of his love, a bliss that Scripture calls the “Marriage of the Lamb.” The tragedy of sin is that we doubted this gift and took fulfillment into our own hands, making idols of the good things God created to lead us to him – like marriage. When St. Paul says “those having wives [should] act as not having them” (second reading), he’s inviting us to examine where we’re directing our desires. If it’s to anything less than the Infinite, we need to repent. To repent means to stop pursuing ultimate fulfillment in created things and entrust the satisfaction of all the desires of our hearts to the one who put them there in order to lead us to him. If we are ever to find the happiness for which we long, like the fishermen in this weekend’s Gospel, we must “abandon our nets” – all our attempts to “catch” happiness for ourselves – and follow Christ into “the time of fulfillment.”