Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Dogma of the Blessed Trinity: Highly Theoretical—and Very Practical!

(Trinity Sunday 2021: This homily was given on May 30, 2021 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Trinity Sunday 2021]


The dogma of the Blessed Trinity is part of the very foundation of our Catholic faith.  It is, as the Catechism says, “the central mystery of Christian faith and life.”  (CCC, 234)

The dogma says that there are three divine Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—in the one, true, and eternal God.  Now that may sound rather simple, but, as anybody who’s ever studied theology or read the Catechism will tell you, it isn’t: What does the word “Person” mean in that definition?  How can something be “one” and “three” at the same time?  If the three Persons form one God, how can they be distinct from one another?  If the Father “begets” the Son, how can the Son be said to be “eternal”?

And on and on the questions go!  That’s why volumes and volumes have been written about the Blessed Trinity in the last 2,000 years.

So, on the one hand, the dogma of the Trinity is highly theoretical.  And yet, from another perspective, it’s a very practical teaching.

And I would say that’s exactly the way we should expect it to be!  If the teaching of the Church about the Trinity is true (and I believe it is!)—and that same Triune God created us and everything that exists—then there should be many things about the Trinity that relate to the ordinary, everyday experiences we have as human beings.

And that’s precisely the way it is.

The dogma of the Trinity, for example, reminds us of the importance of family life, since it teaches us that God is (in a certain sense) a “family” of Persons united by an eternal bond of love. 

That’s a very important lesson for people in our day and age, when the traditional family is under direct and almost constant attack!

So obviously those who believe in the Trinity should make their family life a priority.  Hopefully everyone here does.

The Blessed Trinity also teaches us that we are made to live in loving relationships with other human beings (both within our families and outside of our families).  As the old saying goes, “No man is an island.”  We are made in the Triune God’s image, and within the inner life of the Triune God there are relationships—relationships of love:  the Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Spirit; the Spirit loves the Father, etc.

This means that those who believe in the Blessed Trinity should always be working to make their relationships with other people better and more loving.

Believers in the Trinity should also have no difficulty whatsoever in recognizing and avoiding sins like racism and abortion, because believers in the Trinity affirm a very important truth (whether they realize it or not).  The truth is this: Those who share the same nature enjoy the same dignity.  Now what do I mean by that?  Well, in the Blessed Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct divine Persons.  However the Father is not “more divine” than the Son; the Son is not “more divine” than the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not “more divine” than the Father or the Son.  Each Person of the Blessed Trinity shares the divine nature; consequently each is to be worshipped as God! 

Those who share the same nature enjoy the same dignity. 

In a similar way, every human person—regardless of their age or their skin color or their other personal characteristics—has a human nature, and so they deserve to be respected and treated with a certain dignity, from the moment of their conception in the womb to the moment of their natural death.  As the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity share the divine nature and are to be treated accordingly, so every human person has a human nature and is to be treated accordingly.

The dogma of the Trinity even has implications for our understanding of marriage.  (This is something Blessed John Paul II helped us to understand through his Theology of the Body.)  And one of those implications concerns this controversial issue of so-called “gay marriage”.  As we found out a few weeks ago here in Rhode Island, a state or society can choose to make this practice legal through a legislative act or through a judicial decision.  But that’s all it is—legal.  It’s not real.  And it’s not real—that is to say a gay marriage can never be a marriage in the true sense of the term—precisely because of who God is as a Trinity of Persons, and because of who we are as human beings made in his image and likeness. 

Let me explain . . .

In the Blessed Trinity, the Father loves the Son with an intense, perfect, eternal love.  That love is so intense that it’s actually another Person—the Holy Spirit—who, as the Nicene Creed tells us, “proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

So please notice, in the Blessed Trinity, love is fruitful: the Father loves the Son, and from that love the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally.

In a speech he gave in Africa in 1988, Pope John Paul II said this: “Christian family life is a reflection of the life of the Blessed Trinity, where there is mutual giving and receiving of love among the three Divine Persons.”  This, of course, shouldn’t surprise us, because we’re made in God’s image and likeness.  As I noted earlier, our family lives are to reflect the inner life of the Blessed Trinity, because we’ve been made in the image and likeness of the Blessed Trinity!

All this having been said, if a marriage here on earth is to reflect the life of the Trinity properly, that marriage obviously must be FRUITFUL (or at least it must have the natural potential to be fruitful).

It must be fruitful (or at least potentially so), because the Father’s love for the Son in the Blessed Trinity is fruitful!

But a so-called “gay marriage” can never be fruitful, can it?  You learn that in Biology 101.  Two men cannot have a natural child of their own; two women cannot have a natural child of their own.  It’s impossible.  Only the marriage of a man and a woman has the natural potential to be fruitful!

So of all the reasons that can be mentioned as to why gay marriage is wrong, perhaps the most important one is this: It’s “anti-Trinitarian.”  It’s anti-Trinitarian because the love of the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity is fruitful.  The love in a gay relationship is not.

And it never can be. 

In conclusion let me summarize my homily in this way: As I’ve hopefully made clear in the last several minutes, by revealing himself to us as a Trinity of Persons, Almighty God has not only taught us something very important about himself, he’s also taught us many important things about ourselves and about our lives here on this earth.  He’s taught us about the importance of family life; he’s taught us about the need to bring his love into our relationships; he’s taught us about the dignity we have as human beings created in his image and likeness; he’s even taught us about the nature of marriage and human sexuality.

The only question is: Are we, as individuals, learning these lessons that the Lord has taught?

Sunday, May 23, 2021

When you say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ what do you mean?


(Pentecost 2021 (B): This homily was given on May 23, 2021 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; Galatians 5:16-25; John 20:19-23.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Pentecost 2021]


What a person says is important.  But what a person actually means when he says what he says is even more important.

For example, we’ve all said, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”  We’ve said it at Mass; we’ve said it at baptisms; we’ve probably said it in private prayer as well.  But the simple fact that we’ve said the words does not tell the whole story.  The real question is this: When I say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” what do I mean?  What do I, personally, mean?

I could mean any one of a number of things.  For example, I could mean that I believe in the Holy Spirit in the same way that I believe in George Washington.  Do I believe that George Washington existed?  Yes, certainly.  In that sense I can say that I believe in him.  But did I ever meet him? No.  (I know I’m getting old, but I’m not that old!)  I believe in George Washington because I’ve read about him in history books that were written by reputable historians, and not because I’ve had any personal contact with the man.  Some Christians, I think, believe in the Holy Spirit in the very same way.  They believe in him because they’ve read about him in the Bible or in some other book, but they’ve had no conscious, personal experience of him and his power.  How sad.  How tragic.  It’s especially tragic when you ask Confirmation candidates the question, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”, and they look at you like you have three heads!  You’d fare better asking them, “Who is George Washington?” Hopefully they’d tell you he was the first President of the United States and not tell you that he was an 18th century white privileged male.

But nowadays, you never know!

Which brings us to a second possibility:  When I say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” I might mean that I believe in him in the same way that I believe in our Holy Father, Pope Francis. George Washington is dead and obviously out of office, but Pope Francis is alive and in office at the present time.  And since that is the case, he, unlike Washington, does affect my life each and every day, especially as a Catholic.  Which means that I do have a personal experience of the man.  I see him on television, I’ve heard him on the radio, I’ve read some of his writings.  But my personal experience of him is fairly remote.  And why is that?  Well, it’s simply because I’ve never met him.  I’m not one of his close friends; I don’t have a strong relationship with him on a personal level.  And I get the sense that this is the way it is for many Christians when it comes to the Holy Spirit.  They know he exists.  They know he has something to do with faith, hope and love and some other good things.  They know they’ve received him in Baptism and Confirmation.  But that’s about as far as it goes.  When all is said and done, their relationship with the Spirit is rather remote at best.

And then we have the ideal: saying “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” and meaning that I believe in him like I believe in my best friend.  I believe in my best friend, not because I’ve read about him in a book, not because I’ve heard him on radio and seen him on television.  My belief in my best friend is based on a direct personal experience—a direct experience that I’m conscious of. 

And this is where our belief in the Spirit is supposed to be rooted.  And that is where it can be rooted in the future—in the lives of all of us—regardless of what our past relationship with the Spirit has been like.  If you need some inspiration in this regard, think about the change that took place in the apostles.  Remember that on the night before he died, Jesus gave a long talk to these men in which he said a number of things about the Spirit.  Read John, chapters 14 thru 17.  Our Lord said, “I will send you the Holy Spirit . . . the Paraclete . . . the Consoler . . .the Spirit of truth . . . He will guide you to all truth . . . He will bear witness to me . . . He will help you to bear witness to me.” 

And on and on Jesus spoke.  Now, if you had said to these men a few days later, “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” I’m sure they would have said “yes”.  But it would not have been the same kind of “yes” they would have given you on Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter.  Before Pentecost it would have been, “Yes, we believe in the Spirit because Jesus talked about him,” or, “Yes, we believe in the Spirit because Jesus rose from the dead, and we think the Spirit had something to do with that, and with some of the miracles and wonders that Jesus performed during his ministry.” 

But after Pentecost the answer would have been qualitatively different.  It would have been, “Yes, we believe in the Holy Spirit—because we’ve become aware of his presence and have experienced his power personally.”  After the Spirit descended on the apostles in the Upper Room, we’re told that Peter, who in fear had denied Jesus three times on Holy Thursday night, went out into the streets of Jerusalem and boldly proclaimed the Gospel to the crowds gathered there.  And he made 3,000 converts!  I can just imagine what the conversation was like as the apostles went home that day.  Peter probably said, “I can’t believe I did that.”  Thomas probably jumped in, “Well neither can I, Peter!” And John likely added, “This is amazing!  It’s true!  It’s just like Jesus said it would be!”

As Catholic Christians, we should want to be able to say those words, “I believe in the Holy Spirit” with the same fire and conviction that the apostles had in their hearts after Pentecost—the same fire that enabled Peter to proclaim his faith boldly and joyfully!  And chances are we will, if we, like the apostles, have a direct personal experience of the Holy Spirit that we are conscious of. 

That does not mean, incidentally, that we all need to have an experience like the apostles had in the Upper Room.  But it does mean that we need to become conscious of the Spirit’s work in our lives, like the apostles became conscious of the Spirit’s work in their lives at Pentecost and afterward.

For example, if you’ve been deeply offended by another person, and you’ve prayed for the grace to forgive—and you have forgiven the person—that’s the work of the Holy Spirit in you.  If you’re seriously tempted to commit a sin, and you pray for help, and you end up saying “no” to the temptation—that’s the work of the Spirit in you.  If you give in to the temptation, but then feel sorry, and then go and confess the sin in the confessional—that, too, is a work of the Spirit.  If you’re in a conversation with a coworker, and he begins to slander the Church, and you step out in faith and defend the truth—that’s another work of the Spirit in you.  (Remember, one of the gifts of the Spirit is fortitude.)  If someone comes to you for guidance, and you give them good advice after some thought and prayer—that, too, is a work of the Holy Spirit.

My brothers and sisters, the fact of the matter is that most of us (if not all of us) have had direct experiences like this of the Holy Spirit in our lives, although in the past we might not have been conscious of the Spirit’s involvement in those experiences.  Well, hopefully after this homily we will be, so that if someone in the future asks us, “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” we’ll be able to answer like Simon Peter would have answered after Pentecost: “You bet I believe in the Holy Spirit!  I believe in him with all my heart, because I have experienced his power personally, and become deeply aware (deeply conscious) of his presence in my life.”


Thursday, May 13, 2021

How to Deal with Our Losses in Life: ‘Look up’ and ‘Look out’


(This homily was given on May 13, 2021 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Ascension 2021]

Life is a series of losses.  I’ve come to realize that more and more as the years have passed.  (Of course, life can also be looked at as a series of “gains”—but that’s a subject for another homily!)  

Think for a moment this afternoon about some of the things that you lose during the course of your earthly life.  As time goes on you eventually lose your physical health.  You lose your youthful energy.  You lose your hair (some of us lose more than others).  Sooner or later you lose your job either through a layoff or a firing or through a retirement.

You lose your friends and family members because they die.  You lose your 20/20 vision.  You lose some or all of your teeth.  You lose your mental sharpness.

Losses are part of the fabric of this life—which is why it’s so important that we learn how to deal with them effectively.  If we learn to deal effectively with our losses, we can actually have a measure of peace and happiness on this earth in spite of their presence in our lives.  However if we fail to learn to deal effectively with them, those very same losses can easily overwhelm us and even drive us to despair.  

So there’s a lot at stake here.

In this regard, the apostles definitely have something to teach us.  Today we CELEBRATE the feast of our Lord’s ascension.  But quite frankly I don’t think the apostles felt like celebrating anything on the very first Ascension Thursday.  I say that because on that day they experienced the greatest LOSS of their lives: the loss of the physical, carnal presence of Jesus.  For three years these men had come to rely on our Lord’s wisdom, power and guidance in a very direct way.  He was there, with them—in the flesh.  They related to him as we relate to the people we have personal contact with every day.

But that all came to an abrupt end when Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after his resurrection.  And yes, he had promised to send them the Holy Spirit, that’s true, but I don’t think that meant much to them at the time since they probably weren’t too sure who the Holy Spirit was!

So what did they do?  How did they cope?  Well, if you read the Scriptures carefully you see they did two things in response to their physical loss of Jesus: THEY LOOKED UP AND THEY LOOKED OUT!  The Bible makes it clear that for the nine days between the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost the apostles met together in the Upper Room to pray.  In other words, they “looked up” to the Heavenly Father for the strength and help they needed—and in the process they ended up making what amounted to the very first novena!

At the same time they also “looked out” to one another (and to Mary, our Blessed Mother, who was there with them in the Upper Room).  They gathered as a group not only to pray, but also to console one another, to encourage one another, to build up one another.

Based on my experience of being a priest now for 35-plus years, I would say that the people who deal most effectively and most successfully with their losses in this life are those who do what these apostles did: they’re the people who make the effort to “look up” and to “look out” every day.  They’re the people, first of all, who have an active prayer life—who take prayer seriously—who try to pray every day with their hearts and not just with a lot of words.  That is to say, they “look up” often.

They’re also the people who don’t make the mistake of trying to live their lives as “Lone Ranger Christians”.  Quite oppositely, they consistently “look out” to others.  These are people who do not allow themselves to become isolated.  They’re people who are humble enough to admit that they need the support of their brothers and sisters in Christ to deal with their difficulties.  And they’re people who are smart enough to reach out and actively seek that support.

If we’re not coping very well with our own personal losses at the present time, chances are we’re falling short in one of these two areas.  Either we’re not “looking up” or we’re not “looking out” as we should be.  May the example of the apostles motivate us to change that, so that in the midst of our losses we will be able to gain at least a measure of peace and happiness—the peace and happiness that we all long for in our hearts—and that God, in his love and mercy, wants to give us.


Sunday, May 09, 2021

The Powerful, Natural Bond between a Mother and Her Child

(Sixth Sunday of Easter (B): This homily was given on May 9, 2021 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Acts 10:25-48; Psalm 98:1-4; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Sixth Sunday of Easter 2021]

I remember a conversation I had several years ago with a young mother from the parish.  She was telling me that, when she was pregnant with her second child, she went to see her doctor because she was convinced there was something wrong with her baby.  She wasn’t experiencing any glaring symptoms; it was just a feeling—a sense—she had.

The doctor probably thought she was overreacting, but he decided to order some of the standard, pre-natal tests for her anyway—all of which showed nothing.

But the woman wasn’t satisfied.  She kept pressing the physician.  Finally he ordered a specialized test, and, sure enough, they discovered that the baby had severely enlarged kidneys.

The doctor then asked the woman if she would consider an abortion.  At that point the baby was already five months old.  The woman told me she was shocked to find out that abortion was an option that late in a pregnancy (I told her that it’s legal in our country for all nine months—and it has been since 1973.)

To her credit, she got upset with the doctor and told him, “No, I would never do that!”

And, happily, four months later, she delivered a healthy baby girl into the world—and had her baptized here at St. Pius!

I tell this story on this Mother’s Day, not to focus on the abortion part of it (although that is certainly noteworthy!); rather, I tell this story because it illustrates in a powerful way how deep the natural bond is between a mother and her child—even when that child is still in the womb!


This young mother discerned that there was something wrong with her baby—even though all the initial tests said otherwise!

She knew it intuitively!

By the way, how can people in the pro-choice movement have the audacity to maintain that abortion does not harm women?

What a lie!!!

Even if the mother doesn’t want the child, this bond which is there by natureby God’s design—gets violently severed!

And that has to hurt emotionally and spiritually, unless the mother is hard-hearted or in total denial.

This is why Rachel’s Vineyard retreats and other such events are so important and such a blessing: they help to heal that gaping wound in post-abortive women.

Praise God.

The love that Jesus describes in today’s gospel text from John 15 is the kind of love that many of us were blessed to experience through our mothers, even before we were born.  This is real love—the love of Jesus himself—the love he witnessed to in his own earthly life, and especially in his passion and death.

Notice that Jesus says here, “Love one another as I love you.”  That’s a very important qualifying phrase at the end of the sentence: “as I love you.”  In today’s world, as we all know, love means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  For some, sad to say, it’s just become a synonym for sex. 

St. Thomas Aquinas defined love based on Jesus’ teaching here in John 15 and other places in the New Testament.  Aquinas said that to love is to desire the good for another person—which definitely describes Jesus’ attitude toward us.  Jesus came to this earth, and suffered and died on that cross, because he desired the good—the ultimate good—for every human being, namely, eternal life!

In this regard, his love was absolutely, positively selfless.  All real love is.  He suffered and died for us, not for himself. 

In fact, Jesus never thought of himself first.

Neither do good mothers.  Good mothers always put the needs of their children before their own.

This is what motivated that young mother to continue to press her doctor about the condition of her unborn child.  She didn’t care if he thought she was crazy; her one and only concern was for the welfare of her daughter in the womb!

Jesus’ love was also patient.  Just think of how patient he had to be—and was—with his own apostles.

Good mothers are also patient.  Mine sure was with me—and I know I tried her patience a lot!

Jesus’ love was also forgiving: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Good mothers will often forgive their children when almost nobody else will.

I think this is one reason, incidentally, why we refer to the Church as our “Mother”.  It’s because through the sacrament of Confession she will forgive us for anything.  Literally, anything!

And, above all else, Jesus’ love was self-sacrificial.  As we heard him say in today’s gospel, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  The best visual definition of love is the one hanging on the back wall of our sanctuary: the cross!

Now I haven’t done a scientific survey on this, but every mother I’ve ever talked to about this issue has told me in no uncertain terms that she would be willing to die for her children if she had to.

No questions asked.

And I believe these women. 

But this really should not surprise us—given that very special bond that a mother has with her child by natureby God’s design—even before birth.

Now it’s true—not every mother does in fact love her children with the selfless, patient, forgiving, self-sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.  For those mothers we pray a prayer of petition at this Mass: a prayer that they will allow Jesus Christ into their hearts and experience a real transformation in their lives, both for their own sakes and for the sake of their children.

But for the rest—for those mothers, living and deceased, who have faithfully witnessed to Christ’s love in their motherhood—we, your children, offer a special prayer of thanksgiving at this Mass: We thank the Lord from the bottom of our hearts for your presence in our lives, and we ask Almighty God to reward you—here and in eternity—for all you have done for us.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

How to Stay Connected—to Jesus


(Fifth Sunday of Easter (B): This homily was given on May 2, 2021 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22:26-32; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8.)

 [For the audio version of this homily, click here: Fifth Sunday of Easter 2021]


This homily is about “staying connected.”

Now this is a topic that should be of interest to most of us, because this is precisely what most people in the modern world spend most of their waking hours trying to do!

We live in an age of what’s commonly called “social media”.  As most of us know, the term “social media” includes things like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram—and regular old email, the primary purpose of which is to help people stay connected to each other.

However, the sad irony is it doesn’t seem to be working!  In fact, generally speaking, it all seems to be having the exact opposite effect!  It’s appears that the more social media options we have—and use—the more distant we tend to get from one another.  And sometimes the more belligerent we become toward one another.

Our social media are leading many of us to social isolation.  “Interfacing” has become a common substitute for “people-facing”!  Now don’t get me wrong, interfacing isn’t bad in and of itself—I, for example, email people throughout the day; it’s become a very important part of my priestly ministry.  But this kind of thing does become a problem when it almost totally replaces person-to-person contact and interaction!

Telling 10,000 people through Twitter that you’re about to take a bath is not the same as actually having a conversation with another human being!

To really “stay connected” with other people, we need to go beyond the kind of interaction we get through the social media.

And, believe it or not, something similar is true of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Our Lord calls himself “the vine” in today’s gospel text from John 15, and he refers to all of us as “the branches.”  That’s not a coincidence.  The branches need the vine to live: we need Jesus Christ and his saving grace to live eternally.  But we also need the Lord for everything else in life—even for things that we would normally call “natural”.  As Jesus says here, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”  And, as St. Paul reminded the Athenians, in God “we live and move and have our being.”

So a relationship with Jesus can’t be optional; at least it can’t be optional if we want to reach our ultimate goal of heaven, and if we want to live this earthly life to the fullest.

Now most Catholics and other Christians will readily acknowledge this.  They’ll have no problem admitting that having a relationship with Jesus and “staying connected” to him is essential.

The problem comes in actually building that relationship and sustaining it!  Well here’s where the analogy of the vine and the branches—and the analogy of the modern social media—become very helpful.

As I just said, Jesus makes the point here that our relationship with him is like the relationship of branches to a vine. 

Well, as every gardener will tell you, for a branch to remain on a vine—and flourish—and produce a lot of fruit—two things have got to happen: 

1.    The branch has to avoid being cut off; or, if it does get cut off for some reason, it has to get grafted back on.

2.    It has to get enough nourishment.

And that’s precisely the way it is in the spiritual life.  Branches (that is to say, people) who produce great fruit for Jesus Christ are people who, first of all, don’t allow themselves to get cut off from the Lord through mortal sin (or, who, if they do get cut off, get “grafted on” again as soon as possible by making a good confession). 

Believe me, nothing pleases the devil more than when we either ignore or deny the serious sins in our lives—because the devil knows that those sins sever us from Jesus, the vine!  And think of how often this happens today!  Serious sins like hatred, adultery, fornication, self-abuse, artificial birth control, homosexual activity: these are now socially-acceptable sins that are committed a lot more than they’re confessed.

But avoiding and/or dealing with mortal sin is only half the story.  As Christian “branches” on the vine of Jesus Christ we also need nourishment (just like branches in nature need nourishment).  This is where prayer comes into the picture, and it’s also where we can learn a few lessons from the analogy with today’s social media.

I think it’s safe to say that many Christians do send “tweet-style prayers” or “text message-style prayers” up to Jesus every day.  You know what I mean . . . the quick one-liners: “Jesus, help me!”  “Jesus, heal me.”  “Jesus, give me strength!”  “Jesus, get me out of this mess and I’ll never do anything bad for the rest of my life!”

Now there’s nothing wrong with prayers like this.  In fact, many of the great saints have spoken about the importance of talking to God throughout the day in precisely this way—especially by praising him and thanking him and professing our love for him.

But if that’s as far as it goes, our relationship with Jesus won’t amount to very much.  Common sense should tell us that.  Think about it: if all you did was tweet and text-message a particular friend, without ever having a more extensive conversation with that person, how deep or strong would your friendship be?

They might know what time you took a bath every day, but that’s about it! 

“Staying connected” to our earthly friends requires more than tweeting and texting. 

 And so does staying connected to Jesus, the heavenly vine.

But fear not, my brothers and sisters, as Catholics we have all kinds of opportunities to do this.  They’re actually built into the very fabric of our religion.  For example, I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy eating with my earthly friends as often as I can.  Well, as Catholics we have the opportunity to “dine” with Jesus at least once a week here at Mass in order to intensify our connection to him.  Perhaps you’ve never thought of Mass as “dinner with Jesus”—but in a very real sense that’s what it is!

And he himself is our food!

I also like to call my friends on the phone and have conversations with them that are a lot longer and deeper than “tweets”.  Doing that makes our friendships stronger.  Well the same applies to our friendship with Jesus.  This is why we need to have a regular prayer time every day that goes beyond those one-liner prayers. 

(I would say at least 15 minutes.)

But face to face contact with our friends is always the best, right? 

Well, in a certain sense, isn’t that precisely what Adoration is?  As one man put it, “When I go to Eucharistic Adoration I look at Jesus and he looks at me.”

There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

Finally, there’s the importance of our Christian friends in helping us stay connected to Jesus. 

Hopefully we all have Catholic, Christian friends.

Here’s an interesting question: What would have happened to Saul of Tarsus without his good friend, Barnabas?  As we heard in today’s first reading, the Christians in Jerusalem wanted nothing to do with Saul, even after his conversion!  They didn’t trust him; they didn’t believe that he had really converted! 

Only with Barnabas’ help did all of that change.  He talked to the apostles and somehow convinced them that Saul’s conversion was genuine.

Without Barnabas, Saul of Tarsus might never have become St. Paul!

So the bottom line is this: We live in a world where it’s very hard to stay connected.  It’s hard to stay connected to our friends and to develop strong relationships with them (even with all our social media), and it’s even harder to stay connected to Jesus and to develop a strong relationship with him.  But the good news is that both of those things are possible, if we work at them.

Every day.