Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another Tragedy of the War


Two more Jersey soldiers killed in Iraq
by John P. Martin and Claire Heininger
Wednesday June 20, 2007, 9:19 PM
Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger

An unidentified woman is surrounded by reporters as she stops by the home the Hamilton of Mittie White Snell. Sgt. Eric Snell, her son, was killed in Iraq on Monday. The woman came by to offer condolences but no one was home.

Eric Snell had the trifecta: talent, looks and brains. He was a star outfielder at Hamilton High School West, good enough to be drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 1989. Snell was eager to jump to the pros, but his mother pushed him to consider college first. So off he went to Trenton State.

When his baseball career fizzled, Snell turned to modeling. And then to the Army. He signed up for two tours in Iraq. He was promoted to seargant. On Monday, Smith died after a firefight with insurgents in Baghdad, the Pentagon announced today. He was 35, the father of two sons.
"He was a good-looking guy, a great athlete, a great person," said Michael Toleno, a high school baseball teammate. "He died too young."

Eric Snell played baseball for Trenton State College in the early 1990s.

A second soldier with New Jersey ties, Farid Elazzouzi of Paterson, was also killed in Iraq in the last week, the Defense Department said today. Elazzouzi died from wounds he suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated June 14 near his vehicle in Kirkuk, officials said.
Together, Snell and Elazzouzi brought to at least 76 the number of service members with Jersey ties to die in Iraq.

"He was one of the nicest young men you could meet, a son every mother would want," said Gloria Stephens, a neighbor to Snell's mother, Mittie.

Read the full story in Thursday's Star-Ledger.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

True Words of Wisdom

"War is never the answer;
only love conquers hate."
-- Pope Benedict XVI at Assisi, June 17, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Good Steward of the Earth

Sister Sandy shared an interesting post in which she shared, in part, a bit about her efforts to care for the earth by cutting down on her use of gasoline. When I read it, I found it calling me to take up the challenge. Now I am trying to think of ways in which I can better care for the earth and her natural resources. How are you living this challenge? And what ideas can you share with me (and others)?

Please pray for her!

Please keep Sister Mary Alan Barszczewski, cssf (Immaculate Conception Province, Lodi, NJ) in your prayers. Sister Alan is in the worst struggle of her six year journey with recurring liver cancer. Sister Alan played a very significant role in my life during high school where she and I were the mainstays of the music ministry and where I helped out with different athletics activities. Sister Alan is an amazing powerhouse of faith and fight and now faces the greatest challenge of her young 60 years.

There's a link to an article about a recent impromptu celebration of her life here, compliments of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Please join us in encircling her with prayer!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Gospel Reflection for Today

June 2, 2007
Saturday, Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 11:27-33

In today’s Gospel, we find the synagogue leadership starting to lose focus on what’s most important: they are persisting in seeking an answer to a technical question regarding the origin of Jesus’ authority rather than on focusing on substance of his message. Unfortunately theirs is not unusual behavior. How often do I find myself behaving in the same way, placing my attention and energies on logistics and technicalities rather than on really hearing and listening to an important message? How many times at Mass do I focus on how things are being done rather than on what is being done? How many times in discussions of Church-related issues do I get hung up personalities and who is aligned with whom rather than allowing my heart to engage with the Gospel of Jesus? How many times have I allowed myself to get distracted by meaningless superficialities and failed to let myself engage with the really important issues of the moment? Unfortunately it’s true, sometimes I’m more like a scribe or Pharisee than a disciple or a Christian. Yet as the Gospel of Pentecost reminds us, Jesus is with us seeking to extend His peace to each of us. Jesus is ready to breathe His Spirit of Love upon each of us, if only we will let him. His healing and forgiveness are available to us through the sacraments of the Church.

Jesus, sometimes my vision is clouded and my sight is not set directly on you. I get distracted by things that aren’t all that important and let insignificant details get in the way of my seeing and hearing you. Help me to clear my eyes and open my heart so that I may receive your healing and forgiveness. I know that You are with me, Lord, and I am ready to accept the gift of Your peace.

Gospel Reflection--Friday, June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007
Memorial of Saint Justin, martyr
Mark 11:11-26

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people,” Jesus reminds the disciples after driving out the moneychangers and vendors from the temple. Certainly these words remind us of the sacredness of churches, sanctuaries, and house of worship. Yet, especially in this day and age, these words can also apply to another dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the human body.

We know we are duty-bound to revere and keep holy places of worship, places where the presence of God are sacramentally present, but we also know that we are equally bound to revere and keep holy the body in which the Spirit of God lives. This can be more of a challenge than it first seems. While most people would never have occasion to even consider selling their human body, there are so many ways in contemporary society in which this dwelling of the Holy Spirit is neglected, abused, or disregarded. The challenge for us today, then, is not only to revere our own individual dwelling place of the Holy Spirit but all sacred bodies in which the Spirit of God dwells.

Lord God, may I never forget that Your dwelling is a sacred space and so may I always work to preserve the sanctity of Your every dwelling, of each person within whom you live.

Gospel Reflection -- Feast of the Visitation

Sorry, friends, I had intended to post my Gospel reflection here each day, but I fell behind. (The complete set was posted at the start of the week at the Quellen Center website.) Here are a few of my thoughts on the Gospel for the feast of the Visitation:

May 31, 2007
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Luke 1:39-56

Today’s feast gives us a celebratory Gospel passage: the story of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth . The story of the Visitation is filled with precious gems. In it, we see Mary, herself at a moment of need, going forth without consideration for herself to be present to her cousin in need. We see Mary not only pouring out herself for another but also bearing Jesus’ presence to another. We receive from the initial greeting between Mary and Elizabeth words that form part of our daily prayer today, and we witness in Mary’s Magnificat a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude so deep that her entire being sings in praise to God.

When I become aware of another’s need do I go to them in haste without consideration of any inconvenience it may cause me? Or do I think first about the impact of such a trip? Do I understand the meaning of being sacrament to others? Do I recognize that I have been entrusted with the ability to bear Jesus to others? Do I fulfill that awesome opportunity? Do I celebrate the gifts of the Visitation in my daily prayer? Do I join Mary in expressing my thankfulness and gratitude for God? What it is that causes my entire being to sing in praise to God?

Today I will contemplate the words of Mary’s Song of Joy (Magnificat) and make them my own.

The Light of Friendship

From an e-mail sent by a friend:


I am not going to be the one who extinguishes this candle.

This is to all of you who mean so very much to me, I pray for your happiness. The Candle Of Love, Hope, and Friendship. This candle was lit on the 15th of September, 1998. Someone who loves you very muchhas helped to keep this candle alive by sending it on to you.

May God richly bless you as you keep His light burning brightly. I received this candle today.
And even though I received it for the 1st time a few years ago, I was happy to see that it is still burning brightly. Now it is your turn.

Don't walk in front of me,
I may not follow.

Don't walk behind me,
I may not lead.

Just walk beside me
and be my friend.