Tag Archives: Death

33rd Sunday of the Year: Facing the tough times.

Study: Consider a time when you felt paralyzed by fear.  What helped you to act in a healthy way?

Pray: Do you have a situation where you are struggling for the right words to day?  Ask the Lord for the wisdom to speak.

Serve:  Is someone struggling in your life right now?  How can you help them persevere?

Mass Readings – 33rd Sunday of the Year

In the Gospel Jesus responds to the questions of those who are wondering when the destruction of the Temple will happen.  Through the course of his dialogue three key points surface:

  1. Do not fear.
  2. Trust in the Lord for the wisdom to speak.
  3. Persevere!

These points are crucial – they touch so much of our daily lives!  How often have we experienced moments of fear, or searched for just the right words to say, or looked for strength when we felt weak?  This advice is solid, practical, and helpful.

And yet while we may very well find ourselves nodding in agreement, we also know that this is often hard to do.  Fear can suffocate us and manipulate how we speak and act; sometimes we speak and live to regret what we said or how we said it; and there are days when we wonder why are we doing what we do.

The Lord understands.  Christ faced his fears in the Garden of Gethsemane; he spoke to the hearts of those who persecuted him, even as he persevered on the way to Calvary.

Today we examine our lives for vulnerable spots where we are weak and prone to temptation.  It is here that we call upon the Lord – to face our fears, trust in God’s wisdom, and keep going with a strength that is greater than our own.

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Catholic Inspiration Archives

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Note: This post was first published on November 7, 2016.


32nd Sunday of the Year: Matters of life and death.

Study: What comes to mind when you think of Heaven?  Have you or someone you know ever had a near-death experience?  How does thinking of Heaven shape how you live your life?

Pray: Is there something that is keeping you away from God?  Take time to pray and consider receiving the Sacrament of Confession.

Serve:  Are there any tasks that you have neglected that would cause hardship to others if you died suddenly?  What steps can you take to make sure that you are ready when the Lord calls you home?

Mass Readings – 32nd Sunday of the Year

Both the 1st Reading and the Gospel point to the resurrection of the dead.  In the Second Book of Maccabees we hear how those who are tortured for their faith find hope in the resurrection to eternal life, and in the Gospel of Luke Jesus teaches the Sadducees that the dead will rise.

To talk about heaven is not some sort of “pie in the sky” thinking.  We look to this world – where we experience birth, life and death – as a pilgrim progress.  We are travelers passing through, confident that there is more to the journey when death comes our way.

This understanding of the resurrection of the dead is thus both a consolation and a challenge.  As a consolation we have hope!  We seek to love and know the Lord in this life so that we are prepared to be with him forever in heaven.  Life on earth leads to the eternal; we find that our longings in this world point toward a fulfillment that comes in the next chapter of our story.

Yet the challenge is also real.  Will we be prepared at the hour of our death?  Will we look upon the face of Jesus with love, or will shame, fear, sin and vice drive us away?  For in the end all will be fully known: either we will run to the Lord to seek his mercy for our sins, or we will run away because we see our sins as insurmountable obstacles.

The Church Fathers used the image of Holy Fire as a fitting example.  When we are called from this life we will stand before the burning fire of God’s love.  The elect will draw near to this fire for warmth (and very possibly) a cleansing that burns away all impurities.  The damned will simply burn up…unable to receive the mercy and grace.  Why?  Because they did not acknowledge their sins and accept God’s mercy and forgiveness during their journey on earth.

As we head toward the end of the Liturgical Year and the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, I invite all of us to ponder life, death and resurrection – seeking the Lord’s saving grace in this life so that we are prepared to meet Jesus Christ in the eternal life to come.

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Catholic Inspiration Archives

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Note: This post was first published on October 31, 2016.

The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-1541, Sistine Chapel, Rome.  Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis.


13th Sunday of the Year: Life, Death and the Gift of Faith

Study:  Consider people you know who are suffering right now.  What is the nature of their struggle?

Pray:  Keep a list of those who are sick nearby when you pray.  Remember them often.

Serve:  How can your faith help someone today who suffers?  How can you be an instrument of healing and comfort?

Mass Readings – 13th Sunday of the Year

Consider for a moment someone you love who is seriously sick.  Perhaps it’s a disease, an upcoming surgery, and undiagnosed circumstance, or the relentless experience of pain...we all know loved ones who suffer – and we would do anything to help.

Now imagine that you have heard about a miracle worker who cures the sick and resuscitates the dead.  I know that if I discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was even remotely in the area I would rent a bus and bundle in everyone I could fit just for the chance that he would lay hands on them.

This is the situation we encounter in the Gospel today.  People are crushing in on Christ; they have heard of his power and they are are desperate for healing.  The double miracles in the reading point out a number of key concepts:

  • Our longing for healing
  • The desperation of those who suffer
  • The depth and breadth of emotions around illness
  • How we all have experience with sickness and death
  • God’s profound gift of healing & life

Simply put, an encounter with Jesus Christ is a healing encounter.  In the face of sickness and disease, the Lord draws near – bringing grace and power – to restore life to those who suffer.

As his disciples, we are part of this healing mission.

  1. Who is suffering in our lives right now?
  2. How can we help through prayer or service?
  3. How do we promote comprehensive healing – in Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul?

Jesus comes to bring life; may our lives – guided in faith – be directed toward healing the wounds we witness.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

Note: This blog post was originally published on June 23, 2015.


5th Sunday of Lent: The lesson of a grain of wheat

Study: When in my life have I had to let go of something, someone, so that growth could happen?

Pray: Am I struggling right now to let go?  Ask God for help – wisdom and strength – to do it.

Serve:  Is there someone in my life that needs help letting go of a past mistake or hurt?  How can I help them?

Pastoral Note: The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent provide an option for using the “Year A” readings at Mass for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process, but for those who follow the usual cycle the reflection is offered below.

Mass Readings – 5th Sunday of Lent

The Gospel of John today offers an image that contains the central idea of the Christian faith:

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
John 12:24

Picture a grain of wheat in your hand.  It is a tiny, lifeless thing; alone it can be crushed for flour.  Yet if that grain is allowed to fall to the ground two things will happen.

First, the grain will die to itself.  That is, it will cease to be a GRAIN of wheat.  Its hull will be broken down and disintegrate, the kernel will lose its appearance, and it will no longer be able to be used for flour!

Second, the grain will become something new.  The grain will be transformed into a new and living creation, full of life and possibilities.  It will not resemble the grain – it will be vastly larger, living, able to grow, and full of new potential.

Simply put, as the grain of wheat “died” to its old self, a new life was able to burst forth.  The old passed away, making new hope and opportunity available.  This is the Paschal Mystery – a journey from death to life.

Like the grain of wheat, Jesus will also make this journey; from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, his life will be a process of transformation, change, and new life.  Through his death, he will not only be raised to life, but he will become the instrument by which God saves us as well.

What does this mystery mean for us?  If this journey from death to life is our own, how do we live it out?  How do we experience the Paschal Mystery in our lives?  Here are four ideas for reflection:

1.  Death – we no longer need to be afraid!
2.  Life – we let go of our selfishness – to grow!
3.  Sin – we “die” to our faults; God’s grace fills us.
4.  We become like Christ – if he did it, so can we!

The Paschal Mystery makes sense, because we encounter the process of death to life in so many everyday experiences.  It is not an easy journey, but when we open our hearts to this mystery, we allow God’s transforming grace to work within us, remaking us into a new creation, alive in Christ!

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts

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Note: This post was originally published on March 15, 2015.


Daily Mass: Embracing the Cross. Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – Saturday of the 25th Week of the Year

Jesus announces that he will be handed over, and the disciples are afraid to ask him any questions about it.  The fact is, the Lord embraces the Cross to free us from our sins…inspiring us not to be afraid but to draw near Him in faith.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


Daily Mass: The lesson of a grain of wheat. Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – Thursday of the 18th Week of the Year (St. Lawrence)

When a grain of wheat falls to the ground it dies, and through this sacrifice of itself it begets new life.  Our sacrifices – when directed by the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ – can also become a rich offering to the Lord, who will change and transform us with his gift of life.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


13th Sunday of the Year: Dying and rising with Christ. Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – 13th Sunday of the Year

St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that our participation in the life and death of Jesus Christ brings us eternal life.  This Good News is our legacy as disciples and our inspiration to offer our lives with the hope and strength of God’s grace.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts