Alleluia: Restless Heart

Memorial of Saint Monica
Saturday, August 27, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray in the spirit of St. Monica, that generous, loving mother who never gave up on her wild and wayward son.

St. Monica – by Benozzo Gozzoli c. 1464

Monica was a stalwart example of the humble faith and gratitude Paul describes in our first reading. Monica knew that her entire being depended on God’s graciousness:

God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption…

Today’s Gospel, the insightful parable of the talents,  could very well capsulize Monica’s spirituality. For her, the foolish burier of the talents was her own son. He had been given amazing spiritual and natural gifts only to squander them in religious distortions and moral lassitude. Still she prayed, forgave, and encouraged Augustine until the light of grace dawned upon him.

Monica is such a powerful example for us. It’s hard to love that much and that long when there is no positive response to our hope and care. 

So many parents throughout the ages have shared Monica’s experience. So many family members and friends have agonized for their own beloveds who seemed lost in bad choices, addictions, or the other myriad forms of self-annihilation.

Let’s pray for one another today, especially for the “Monicas” among us who long for the spiritual wholeness of another to be healed and complete. May we/they be patient, honest, hopeful and loving. And may their own “talents” be multiplied and rewarded.

Prose: from Augustine’s autobiography about his mother Monica:

And now you stretched forth your hand from above
and drew up my soul out of that profound darkness
because my mother, your faithful one,
wept to you on my behalf more than mothers
are accustomed to weep
for the bodily deaths of their children.

Instead, she was fully confident that you
who had promised the whole would give her the rest,
and thus most calmly, and with a fully confident heart,
she replied to me that she believed, in Christ,
that before she died she would see me made whole in the faith.

Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, Book 1

Music: Augustine: The Way – Tony MacPherson

Fear or Faith?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Mt 23_24 camael gnat

Today, in Mercy, Paul talks seriously with the community at Thessalonika. Some early Christians expected the final coming of Christ to happen imminently. They had become upset, and somewhat obsessed, with concerns and rumors about “the end times”. Reactions range from fear to panic to denial.

Paul basically tells the community to settle down – “Hold fast to the traditions that you were taught.” In other words, focus on the core teachings of your faith – love, service, and grateful, joyful worship – not on the imagined fears of some unenlightened shouters.

We see such misdirection manifested in fundamentalism, scrupulosity, exaggerated devotional practices, cultic behaviors, even superstitions – the kinds of attitudes Jesus condemns in today’s Gospel.  These conditions cause us to become judgmental, elitist and superficial. They distract us from attention to the heart of our faith – mutual love, unselfish service, merciful justice, Christlike inclusivity.

Even as I write this reflection, we have a Church — like Thessolonia — fraught with turmoil.  Many call it unprecedented, although any student of Church History knows it is not. Still. it is a time when we who love the Catholic faith must pray for light, courage and fidelity. Let us pray too for Pope Francis that he may rely on the Holy Spirit to help him act courageously and definitively, as Paul did, to right the Beloved Community.

As for each of us, the fullness of God needs a large soul – not one shrunken by its own pettiness, fears, and self-righteousness. As St. Augustine prayed:

Narrow is the mansion of my soul;
enlarge Thou it,
that Thou mayest enter in.

Music: A Heart Like Yours ~ CeCe Winans