Catholic Gators Blog

Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum

The Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Sam Abbott, UF Student

   Imagine you are suffering from a devastating and debilitating disease. You are in constant agony and no matter what you do, you cannot stop or even diminish the pain. Now if a  trusted doctor came to you and offered an instantaneous and permanent cure for this horrid illness, you would take it at once, right? Of course! You obviously would not reject it and try to cure your ailment through other means. However, this is what we often do.

   In offering us eternal salvation, Christ has given us the antidote to the pain, suffering, and death here on Earth that was spawned “by the envy of the devil.” All we have to do is be fully dependent on Christ and follow His word and we can be with Him forever. The solution to all of our problems here on Earth is available to every single man and woman, yet we try and depend on other means. Some, like myself, are driven by arrogance and egoism to believe that they can solve all of their struggles by themselves. This self-dependence drives us further from God because we trick ourselves into believing we don’t need His grace. When we fail at solving our issues, our self-dependence is shattered and we latch on to other means that we believe will solve our issues, but only continue our demise.  

   Others pursue worldly things to stop their sorrows. Whether it be pleasure, power, or wealth, mankind has always attempted to achieve our deepest desires with temporal items.  We believe that if we can achieve a certain level of wealth or fame, all of our worries will vanish. This dependence on the material to solve our problems leaves people coveting more and more in an attempt to satiate our needs. What we have now won’t satisfy us. This has lead modern man to become like Tantalus, a Greek character who was punished for filicide, and for feeding his son to the gods. For his punishment he was sentenced to stand in a pool of water with a fruit tree nearby whose branches would dangle low over the water. The punishment would be that the fruits of the tree would be just out of reach for Tantalus to be able to eat; and the water level would continuously change where each time Tantalus would reach for a fruit the water level would rise, but when he would try and get a drink of water from the pool the water would recede. with satisfaction just out of reach, the constant pursuit of the material leads people to eventually believe that their lives are devoid of meaning. One just has to watch the news recently to see how even the rich and successful can believe that existence itself is painful and pointless. Although written in the 1800’s, the sentiment Thoreau expresses when he states, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, still echoes throughout our society today.

   Thankfully, today’s Gospel  shows us the fruits of what total dependence on Christ can bring. The Gospel begins with Jairus, a synagogue official, coming to Jesus and begging him to save his daughter. Even this man of power and influence knew that only Jesus could cure his child and humbled himself before Christ. Likewise, a woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years, trusts Christ so much that she believes that even touching his clothes will cure her from her horrible ailment. These two people are rewarded for the dependence on Christ  and provide us with a model on how to live. Although those who are fully dependent on God may not be instantly cured of their ailments, they are invited into Christ’s redemptive suffering and can learn to love Him more through suffering. Like Christ, we too will be ridiculed by some for having this dependence in God’s work, but we know only Christ can cure us of death and deficiencies. No man or material item can do so. To be dependent on God we must be humble and trust that through his grace, we will be, “preserved…from among those going down into the pit.” Just as Christ told the woman who touched His cloak, our faith will save us.


The Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Written by: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

    Six months before the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, a miraculous event occurred in Ein Karem, a village in Jerusalem just south of the Jordan River. After an angel announced that a barren woman would give birth to a son, as well as the visitation of Mary to the home of this woman, St. Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist, a newborn “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).

    Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Now, this day is significant because John was born as the precursor to Christ. He was called to serve as a voice, to bring attention to the Messiah that was to come in order to redeem the world. Through his baptizing with water, he called all to repent and live virtuously, before Christ came to baptize with the “Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Through his ministry, however, he never lost sight of his vocation; he gathered attention among crowds only to bring glory to God. Through this selflessness, we also see St. John the Baptist as a martyr, dying at the hands of King Herod.

    But what does that mean for us? Are we not also called to do the same to boldly proclaim Christ? Indeed, through our gifts and testimonies, we are called to serve as that same voice, in order that we may bring joy and hope to the world revealed by God the Son, who came down and became man in order to be in relationship with us, in order to die for us, in order to redeem us. May we take this day to ask for the intercession of St. John the Baptist, in order that we may bring glory to God and humble ourselves, even when it is difficult. May we never cease to trust Christ, for without Him, everything is for naught. May we echo St. John the Baptist’s words, “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

Written by: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

    The Word of God can seem abstract, but through today’s readings we are shown one way of getting a better understanding: understanding images of nature in the Bible.

    In the first reading, we hear of all kinds of nature references from the Psalms. The description of the life cycle of a cedar acts as a form of prophecy for God’s plan for Israel to be a home to Christ. How do we understand this revelation of God from a short passage on a tree? Sometimes we wonder why God is not more explicit when telling us His plan and why His prophets use such different way of explaining reality. We get hints towards the answer of this question from Jesus in the Gospel, “With many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables He did not speak to them, but to His own disciples He explained everything in private.” (Mark 4:35-36). This explanation from the Gospel of why Christ uses parables can also help explain the first reading. Images of nature are universally common to humanity, and thus they become a great way for God, as Creator of nature and true author of Sacred Scripture, to inspire the human writers of the Bible. With this in mind, we might better understand when the Psalmist writes of “majestic cedars” and St. Mark writes of Christ’s speech on “mustard seeds” in order to share the Word of God for all generations.

    Jesus uses his example of the life cycle of a plant to explain the Kingdom of God to the public. When Jesus would speak with the Apostles He could explain in more detail, one potential reason for this is that He could answer questions from His 12 friends who knew Him well but questions from hundreds of people would not be able to be answered in a brief time, short of a miracle. We would be mistaken to think that God gave power to Jesus to reveal secret knowledge to a select few people since God’s Word is for everyone.

    Through study and prayer we move closer to an intimacy with Christ which warrants a better understanding of the faith through the Holy Spirit, and these methods are open to all. For many years I did not know what a mustard seed really looked like, but even more so I did not fully understand what faith means. Through study I better understood the context of a mustard plant and so the parable made more sense, and through prayer I grew in my faith (still have a ways to go). With more knowledge of Scripture, we can grow in our faith, these two go hand in hand. We should also contemplate the words of St. Paul, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5). Even if we never see a mustard plant growing in person to realize the full reality of the nature parable, our faith can lead us to understanding of God’s Word.  This is any Catholic’s true conviction that we know Him better since “all who come to Him will live forever.” Alleluia.

The Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Written by: Sam Abbott, UF Student

    Due to the mistakes of Adam and Eve, mankind is cursed with sin and death. These stains have followed mankind throughout its existence, tarnishing the creation that was made in God’s own image.

    However, there is a way to break the chains of sin and death forged by Adam. In Mark 3:20-35, the death caused by sin is destroyed by the eternal life Christ grants to his brothers and sisters. Christ declares that sin and blasphemy can and will be forgiven by him. This redemption of man gives us the ability to no longer fear death or be ashamed of sin. As Bishop Massimo Camisasca states, “Even if the experience of death is still in us, it is no longer a nightmare that darkens our existence, because death is no longer the last word. Our existence is no longer determined by the slavery of sin…”  We should no longer try to hide from God out of shame, like Adam in the garden, because our existence is now defined by Christ’s mercy.

    Christ obeyed his Father’s will and sacrificed Himself so that we may be free of sin and join Him in His Kingdom. As long as we do the will of God, we will be in Heaven as His brothers and sisters. In Romans 5:19, St. Paul writes, “just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Through the New Adam, all things are made new.

Corpus Christi Sunday

Corpus Christi Sunday

Written by: Sam Abbott, UF Student

    Little is known about St. Tarcisius, except for how he died. Either a deacon or young acolyte, Tarcisius lived in 3rd century Rome, where Christians were heavily persecuted and constantly martyred. One day, Tarcisius  volunteered to bring the Blessed Sacrament to Christians who were in Roman jails. While traveling to the prison, Tarcisius was accosted by a mob who discovered he was Christian and demanded he hand over what he was carrying. Tarcisius refused to do so and was brutally beaten by the mob. While he managed to keep the Eucharist intact and unharmed, he succumbed to the wounds from the mob attack. To some, this sacrifice of one’s life may seem puzzling, but as Catholics we understand Tarcisius gave up his life because he knew that the Real Presence of Christ is found in the Eucharist.

    Today on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,  we celebrate the reason why Tarcisius sacrificed himself. We are also called to remember the mystery and beauty of the Eucharist. Like Moses and the Israelites in the first reading, Christ makes a sacrifice. However, Christ does not use the blood of animals to make a covenant with us. Instead, Jesus offers up His own Body and Blood. In the Gospel reading for today (Mark 14:12-16,22-26), Christ became the victim so that a new covenant would be made between Himself and all of humanity. This covenant offers salvation and eternal reward for all those who believe and adhere to His word.

    To understand the institution of the Eucharist and its relationship with the faithful, look no further than the second reading.  In his letter to the Hebrews, we hear that the blood of Christ, ”cleanses our conscience from dead works.” The Eucharist sanctifies us because Christ, His promises, and His ultimate sacrifice are present within it. The Eucharist offers us the ability to be in union with God on Earth and rejoice that we are saved by a God who truly loves us.

    As proclaimed at the Second Vatican Council, the Eucharistic sacrifice is the ”the source and summit of the Christian life.” For us, the people of the New Covenant, the Eucharist is the anchor of our spiritual lives and offers us refuge from the busy and chaotic world around us. The Eucharist gives us infinite strength to remain steadfast in our faith, even under Tarcisius-like  persecution. The most Blessed Sacrament was instituted by our Saving Victim’s sacrifice, so we must be willing to sacrifice a part of ourselves to truly appreciate its significance.

         “How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness” – St. Thomas

Trinity Sunday

Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

    You are loved. Yes, you are loved by your friends, your family and others around you. However, you are also loved by the God of the universe, the Blessed Trinity, the All-Powerful in Heaven. We’ve all heard this countless times and we claim to believe it, but how many of us can truly say that we KNOW this to be true?

    In the second reading we hear something which seems obvious to us. St. Paul tells the Romans “… you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear”. This statement seems obvious to us, Christ came to set us free! But in those times, to many people and in many religions, the idea of a god was of a ruling master, one to whom we must be subservient. These gods were harsh, punishing, and strict. To these people, the Gospel, the idea of a loving God was nothing they had ever heard. Moses even exclaimes in the first reading that such a God had never been heard of before. A God who would choose a people in love, raise them up and defend them, free them from earthly slavery and grant them triumph over their enemies. Moses was astounded by the love of God, and he did not even get to witness the greatest act of God’s love: His coming down, humbling of Himself in human flesh, and His willing death for His people. God died for you out of love. The next line from Paul tells the Romans they are received by the Father in adoption! Not only does God love you, but He wants you as His own. We are the beloved children of the All-Powerful God. We are called to cry out to him as our “Abba”, our Father, our Dad. We hear in the Psalm today that the Lord has chosen us, He made the choice to claim us.

    So, by now you should know what God has done out of love for you. He has done more than any mere human could. Yet, why is it we do not feel his love at times? To answer this question, let’s ask ourselves a couple of other questions. What have we done for God out of love? Many times we find ourselves complaining Mass was too long or bolting out of church as soon as the closing song ends, and some of us even before that! Are we not able to give the Lord just a little more time? Are the things we are rushing off to do really that much more important than our relationship with God? We sin and we go to confession, but do we confess because we have hurt God and we want make amends or do we confess because we did something bad and we don’t want to go to Hell? How often do we take time out of our day to pray, to speak to God and share our love with him? The issue isn’t God failing to offer us love, He is always and forever offering His love to us. We on the other hand, we have to choose to receive His love by returning it back to Him. We must do our part in this relationship, committing the time and the effort to love God. Ask any married couple and they will tell you that a relationship founded in love only works if both people are offering their love to each other.

    So, you are loved, whether you choose to accept it or not. You are claimed by the almighty and eternal God as His kin, whether you accept that calling or not. God is your “Abba”, whether you come to Him or not. Let us accept His love, act like children of God and let us turn to our Father in Heaven when we face troubles. Then, we shall come to KNOW the love of God.

Pentecost Sunday

Written by: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

    “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!” Pope St. John Paul II exclaimed this during a homily in Australia in 1986. Today, on Pentecost Sunday, we conclude the liturgical season of Easter. Today, we celebrate the descent  of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, upon the Apostles. It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles were able to pronounce the mighty acts of God and baptize three thousand people.

    However, this gift of willing the will of God was not merely given to the Apostles,. We, as the body of Christ, are called to evangelize and live our faith with great joy. Although the Easter season is coming to an end and we approach Ordinary Time, it is anything but ordinary.

    What does Alleluia mean, anyway? It means, “Praise the Lord!” And what better way to praise our God than to live and learn about his life? That’s exactly what happens in Ordinary Time, as the Mass readings revolve around Jesus Christ and his ministry. Quite literally, the Holy Spirit is our Alleluia! To conclude the joyful Easter season, the Holy Spirit comes down in order that we may better understand, discern, and choose the will of the Father. We cannot do anything on our own, for “the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” But it is through the Holy Spirit that our praise comes. It is through the Holy Spirit that virtues and gifts come; wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. I think this trust in the Holy Spirit, this desire to fully align one’s will to God, is shown best again by Pope St. John Paul II through this prayer to the Holy Spirit that he prayed daily:

“Holy Spirit, I ask you for the gift of Wisdom to better
know You and Your divine perfections, for the gift
of Understanding to clearly discern the spirit of the
mysteries of the holy faith, for the gift of Counsel that
I may live according to the principles of this faith,
for the gift of Knowledge that I may look for counsel
in You and that I may always find it in You, for the
gift of Fortitude that no fear or earthly preoccupations
would ever separate me from You, for the gift of Piety
that I may always serve Your Majesty with a filial love,
for the gift of the Fear of the Lord that I may dread
sin, which offends You, O my God.”

    So as we carry on this week, let us remember Him from Whom all things are made. May our words and actions not be our own, but rather, of our everlasting and ever-loving Father, through the immense power of the Holy Spirit. Let us live out the ministry of Christ, the only-begotten Son. And let our Alleluia ring for all those to hear, for although the Easter season has ended, our joy has only begun.

Mother’s Day

Written by: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

    I want to begin by saying thank you and happy Mothers’ Day to all of our mothers: our physical mothers, our mothers by guidance and our mothers in spirit. It’s amazing how much our mothers do for us to ensure that we grow up to be great men and women in this world, so that we can be successful and grow up healthy. I learned early on that if you listen to your mother, not only will you avoid getting grounded, but often times you will come to discover that they know what is best for you. If you trust them and do as they say, more often than not, you will find out that you’ll end up better off than if you did not.  

     The same rings true in terms of faith. If we trust in Christ and his plan, we will be better off than if we fail to trust God. Sometimes, however it can be really difficult to trust God’s plan, just ask the mother of a teenager. Sometimes we are in trying times or we witness cruelty in our world and it can be difficult to continue to give our trust to God. Other times, Christ reveals His plan for us and we doubt it because it is too spectacular, we fail to trust because we do not believe that we could achieve the amazing things that Christ calls us to. The Apostles faced both of these as they stood and watched as their teacher was lifted into clouds. In the world that they lived in, Christians were persecuted and killed because of their faith and here was Jesus, telling these former fishermen, tax collectors and average townspeople who left everything to follow Him that they would receive power through God. Then, He’s gone. These apostles now have a decision to make, to forget Jesus and try to return to their normal life or to place their trust in what he said would happen. We, of course, know that they chose the latter and receive the gifts to grow the Church and spread the good news. So what will you do when given the decision to trust?

    If Christ told you that you would have the ability to drive away demons, speak different languages, pick up a snake or drink poison but not be harmed or even to heal the sick if you only believe, would you trust that? Would you trust Him? Well, He did say that and we must trust Him. We can begin to practice our trust in Him by being unashamed of our faith and talking about it openly, by volunteering to help the homeless or sick, by praying for the Church and the members of your parish, or even by simply listening to your mother.

The Sixth Sunday of Easter

By: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

    Imagine the humility experienced if you were to meet the pope in person. Even to non-Catholics, the pope is seen as a man of great wisdom and virtue. Then imagine the holy father looking into your eyes and saying “I’m a human too.” This message of humility is what shines through these weekly readings.

    We find Peter, the first pope, saying very similar words to Cornelius in the first reading. It is here, after stating that he is “also a human being,” that we see him make a proclamation to those who are listening. He states that all, not just the chosen nation of Israel, are open to receiving baptism and the love of Christ fully. This is something to reflect on that God calls all people closer to him since the Holy Spirit has come for all souls. Even those of different traditions are called into the the full life of Christ. The love of God is for every single person to come to experience. This should give us great hope and help shine light on our purpose.

    Next in the responsorial Psalm, we “break into song” praising God. Maybe the literal words are a bit archaic, yet the feelings invoked invite us to be humble enough to show extreme joy over Christ in public. This act of praising God in daily life is something that we could all use some more motivation in.

    Something else we must be always inspired to do is to love people always. We find ourselves caught up in the pride of our accomplishments and forget the humility that brings true happiness.

    This notion is expressed in the second reading through St. John’s pondering about love. The most important thing here is that it is not our love of God which makes us holy, but “that he loved us and sent his Son.” That is why Christians are called not just to be nice to people in a courteous manner, but to openly profess the love of God in a humble manner. Since we cherish the love of God in our own lives, if we are to really love our friends, classmates, and neighbors, we should consider having the humility to share the love of God through our testimony. Consider loving others by leading them to love Christ.

    How, if we are supposed to bring others to it with joyful humility, is the love of Christ expressed? This is the great question which Jesus himself answers in the Gospel reading. He says if we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, so what are these commandments? “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus says. This takes incredible humility to execute. It is very hard to give your life to people who will abuse you. It is so hard that we heard Christ beg that he would be spared from trial in the Gospel just a few weeks ago on Holy Thursday. If God himself is intimidated by suffering, we should feel assured that our fear of suffering for love are expected. Just as singing a praise song in public might make you a little uncomfortable, Christ took the entire pain of the world onto himself so that we might being God glory through his death. This glory is what we celebrate now in the Easter season, that Christ’s Resurrection brings true life to us. We are called, this very week, to humbly share the beauty and importance of the Resurrection to those we love (aka everybody).

     This week will we live for hope or for fear? This week will we praise God in public or will we hide our light until the Mass next Sunday? This week will we “love one another” by having conversations about Christ or will we settle for timid mediocrity?

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