You Were There

Today is the one day of the year when there is no Mass celebrated. The commemoration of Good Friday is the most solemn day of the year. The readings for the Good Friday liturgy are so moving. In the first reading from Isaiah 52, we see prophesied that which Jesus would endure on this day. “But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” How can you read this reading and not tear up?

Also at the Good Friday liturgy, we read the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John. And we remember. We remember how He was mocked, beaten, spat upon and lifted high on a cross. For us. It is easy for us some 2000 years later to kind of sanitize what happened that day. But we mustn’t. This is one reason why my family watches The Passion of the Christ each year on Good Friday. It gives us a graphic reminder of what Jesus really endured for us. For me. For you.

Whatever you do today, take some time to remember. Chances are that if you go to liturgy today, you’ll sing “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” It may seem like a silly question 2000 years later. But the answer to the question is yes. You were there. I was there. We all were there. Because as Jesus hung on that cross, breathing His last, you were on his mind.

Father, help us to always remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Let it always remind us that our sacrifices are nothing compared to His. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It’s Holy Thursday on Seize the Day and the start of the Triduum.

Gus welcomes Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, to talk about the unique responsibility Catholic architecture plays in our faith life.

Also, author Stephen Mansfield joins Gus to talk about his book “Killing Jesus,” which provides an excellent historical perspective on the Passion of Jesus Christ. To order Stephen’s book, click here.

Finally, Gus celebrates the priesthood and asks the listeners about the important priests in their lives.


A Life of Service

Lent is over today. We begin tonight the Sacred Triduum. It is one long liturgical celebration that encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I hope you will make it to church for all of the services. Tonight’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper is one of the most moving liturgies of the Church year. Tonight parishes all over the world will reenact the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus.

Feet can be nasty. Today we generally wear socks and shoes and keep our feet relatively clean. But back in Jesus’ day…not so much. Their feet were constantly dust-caked and probably not very pretty. Washing them was the job of the lowliest servant. And this is the job that Jesus took on at the Last Supper. Jesus said again and again that the greatest in the Kingdom would be the least of all and the servant of all. For Jesus, this wasn’t just idle talk, not just a fancy teaching. He lived it. And not just in the upper room, but always. He healed, taught, prayed and gave his entire life in the service of others.

On Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the priesthood. When Jesus said to the disciples, “Do this..”, he gave them the power and the authority to turn the bread and wine into his Body and Blood. Our priests live out that example of service that Jesus taught. They offer up their entire lives in the service of God’s people. When you go to Mass tonight, please be sure to thank your priest(s) for “washing the feet” of his parishioners.

Father, your Son taught us to serve. Help us to imitate Him and live out that example of service each and every day of our lives. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We’re halfway through Holy Week and on today’s Seize the Day Gus welcomes Ryan McLaughlin to the Conversion Corner. Ryan is a evangelical convert who talks with Gus at length about his conversion to the Catholic Church. You can learn more about him and his faith journey by checking out his blog here.

Also, Jenny Kraska calls in to Seize the Day to discuss S.B. 175. She’s the executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference and she and Gus get into the nuts and bolts of proposed legislation that could bar any new pro-life laws in Colorado, prompting criticism that the bill is extreme and would prevent reasonable health and safety-based regulations. To read more about S.B. 175 click here.

Also, since today is the final live Seize the Day in Holy Week, Gus takes your prayer requests.

Be Mindful of Me, Lord

When we think of the brutality that Jesus suffered for us, we can see that this was all foretold in today’s first reading from Isaiah 50. “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” He did that for you and me!

On Wednesday of Holy Week, we think about Judas. Judas is a very enigmatic character in the Gospel story. Was he chosen from all time to be the betrayer of the Messiah? That doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Or did Judas have a free will? Could he, at any point, have changed course and not given Jesus up? And at what point did he realize that things had spun wildly out of control? Did he ever regret his eternity-altering decision?

You and I probably have a lot more in common with Judas than we may like to acknowledge. We must always remember that he was one of the Twelve. Chosen and sent. And yet he turned on Jesus. Thinking of Judas and my propensity to imitate him always reminds me of an old saying. It has been attributed to St. Alphonse or St. Philip Neri. I modify it for myself. “Be mindful of Gus today, Lord. He could turn on you at any time.”

Father, forgive us for those times when we turn on you. Help us to recognize our betrayals more quickly, and free us from all selfishness, the cause of our betrayal. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On this Tuesday in Holy Week, Gus speaks to David Adams, vice president for missions, Cross Catholic Outreach, to talk about the latest on the Shroud of Turin. In addition to all the carbon dating, which places the Shroud in first-century Jerusalem, the markings seen on the man in the cloth reveal those left by a crown of thorns, torture, scourging, nail puncture wounds of the hands/feet, bruised knees, and a side spear wound.

Also, Gus welcomes Catholic author Shaun McAfee to talk about his latest article entitled “Why I Used Birth Control and Five Reasons I Wish I Hadn’t.” Click here to check out Shaun’s blog, which features the article.

Gus also ask his listeners if they’ve ever had a spiritual experience with their own doctor. Have you ever prayed with your doctor? What was his or her reaction when you asked?

Shroud of Turin

Peter and Me

Our first reading today is from Isaiah 49, more from the prophesies of the Servant of the Lord. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Our Gospel reading is from John 13. Here we see Peter at his finest, just moments before we would see him at his weakest.

Jesus knew that He was on His way to the cross. He says to Peter, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter answers, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus tells him that “the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

The beautiful thing about Peter is that he really believed that he could stand up to any test. You’ve got to admire his sincerity. Unfortunately, when the time came to deliver, he simply couldn’t. Sound familiar? Sure does to me. In this moment of Peter’s life, he and I have a lot in common. I often have the best of intentions. “I will lay down my life for you, Lord!” Oh, really? Then why, at the first little temptation or trial, do I fold up like a cheap card table? Luckily, Peter got another shot. And he made the most of it. When we fold, Jesus is willing to give us another shot, too. Will we make the most of it?

Father, forgive us for our hubris, for our inflated egos. Keep us strong during moments of great trial. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s Monday in Holy Week and Gus asks what your Palm Sunday mass experience was like. Did you get palms before or after mass and did you make palm crosses?

Also, Gus welcomes Fr. Joseph Espaillat, director of youth ministry in the archdiocese of New York, to talk about his vocation and energizing Catholic youth with the faith.

In lieu of Fr. Joseph’s visit, Gus asks listeners what role youth ministry has played in their lives.

Dungeons and Prisons

Monday of Holy Week. For the next few days, our first readings will be from Isaiah, the prophesies of the Servant of the Lord. We’ll talk about today’s reading in a moment. The Gospel reading today is from John 12. Jesus goes to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Mary anoints his feet with costly perfumed oil. Judas objects, saying “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” Jesus rebukes Judas. “Leave her alone…You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Today’s prophesy from Isaiah 42 speaks of the mission of Christ. “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

There are prisons and dungeons all around us – of a spiritual nature. We are imprisoned by our own sin; we confine ourselves to the dungeons of resentment and anger and jealousy and envy. So often our sentences are self-imposed. There is a way out. His name is Jesus. He came to release us from these places of torment. But we must first give Him permission. Let Jesus release you today.

Father, we want to be set free from our dungeons, from our prisons. We ask your Son, Jesus, to open the doors and unbind us today. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Hosanna in the Highest!

“Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest!”

What a week this must have been for Jesus. Of course, He knew what was about to happen in the coming days. But what if that were you or me riding on that donkey into Jerusalem? Don’t you think that would be one heady experience? Reveling in the adoration of the people would have made my head explode from ego! Had I known what was about to come, though, I probably would have turned and run.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you went from triumph to tragedy in very short order? It hurts, doesn’t it? And it seems we always do everything in our power to avoid the bad stuff. But Jesus, even though He knew the bad stuff was coming, went willingly. Though it seems He experienced His greatest defeat after this amazing victory ride, His true victory was yet to come. Something for us to remember, in good times and in bad.

Father, thank you for the example Jesus gives us in seeming victory and seeming defeat. Help us to remember that, in the end, the victory is Yours. Amen.

Today’s Readings