Saint Monica

Today’s readings.

The kind of persistent prayer for those who were important to Saint Paul, as he speaks about in today’s first reading from his second letter to the Thessalonians, was something that Saint Monica practiced every day of her life.  This was a woman in love with God and the Church, and her family, although the latter was pretty difficult for her.  But her persistent prayer won them for Christ and the Church.

Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa.  Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious.  Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home.  Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her.  Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity.  Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica’s oldest son was Augustine.  At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage.  Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy and was living an immoral life.  For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house.  Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith.  From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him.  In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine would have liked!

Augustine, followed by his mother, eventually traveled to Rome and then Milan, where he came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director.  There Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.

She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction.  At Easter, in the year 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends.  Soon after, his party left for Africa.  Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end.  She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight.  I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”  She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

Monica was a woman who accomplished much by her persistent prayer.  It might be well for us today to ask for a portion of her spirit of prayer that we might accomplish God’s glory in our own time and place.

The Twenty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time (Bread of Life Discourse V)

Today’s readings

Life calls us to make some very difficult decisions sometimes.  Who will we vote for?  What school will we choose for our children?  Is this the person I should marry?  Is this job the right one for me right now?  In today’s readings, though, the players are making a very basic choice: whom will they serve?  It seems like the answer should be easy – God, of course – but for the people of that time, and if we’re honest, for all of us, there are certainly distractions to true worship.

The Israelites were certainly tempted to worship the so-called gods of the lands they moved into.  That would have made it easier for them to get along, but more importantly, would have provided economic benefits as they allied themselves with the native peoples.  For those who had been following Jesus, they couldn’t get past the hard teaching that he was the Bread of Life, come down from heaven, so many of them turned away.  And for people in our own time, don’t we all find excuses to turn away?  Living our faith is sometimes inconvenient because we can’t get the kids to their sports and still come to Mass, or it’s uncomfortable because we are embarrassed to live our faith and stand up for truth when business or social relationships call us to do what we know we should not.

Everyone at some point has to answer the questions we hear in our first reading and our Gospel today:  Decide today whom you will serve.  Do you also want to leave?

Today’s Gospel reading is the conclusion to the five-week study the Church has given us of the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, which we commonly call the Bread of Life Discourse.  We began back at the end of July, when Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish.  The crowds pursued him because they wanted more, and Jesus gave them food of another kind: spiritual teaching about what really feeds us.  In these last couple of weeks he has told them that he himself is the Bread of Life, that if one desires to avoid hunger in eternity, they need to partake of his own Body and Blood, because he is the true bread that came down from heaven.

The people have had two problems with this: first, they objected to him saying he had come down from heaven.  Many of them knew his family, and some probably knew him since childhood.  How then could he claim to have come from heaven?  Secondly, the prospect of eating his Body and Blood was repulsive to them.  They were so scandalized that, of the thousands he had fed, most of them returned home now, and even many of his disciples said goodbye.  So he poses the question to his Apostles – the chosen Twelve: – Do you also want to leave?  Speaking for the rest, Peter professes faith that Jesus is the only One to whom they can turn, that he is in fact the Holy One of God.

The situation is not that different from the one Joshua addresses in our first reading today.  Joshua took over leadership of the people after Moses died, and he is now showing his leadership style.  He will not be a leader that forces the people to do one thing or another.  Instead, he points out the many wonderful things God has done for the people.  This is the God who led them out of Egypt and sustained them through the desert journey.  This is the God who led them into the Promised Land, the land he promised their ancestors he would give them.  And now that they have received the many benefits of God’s mighty promises, it’s time for them to make a choice.  Will they serve the so-called gods of the pagan inhabitants of the land, or will they serve the Lord their God, who gave them so much.  For Joshua, the choice is easy: “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Peter and Joshua have it right.  They know the real source of grace, they know the One true God, they know the source of everlasting food and drink, and they choose accordingly.  And now the question is ours.  We have all of us been on a five-week-long Eucharistic retreat.  If you’ve missed any part of it, I encourage you to go back and read all of the sixth chapter of John.  It will take you ten or fifteen minutes if you read it nice and slow.  And as we stand here at the end of it all, we too have to make the decisions we hear in today’s Liturgy of the Word: decide today whom you will serve; what about you, will you also leave?

It’s a critical question for us.  Because there are lots of entities in our world that are vying for our servitude.  Will we serve the so-called gods of the people in whose country we live?  We who are disciples are aliens here; this is not our true home.  So what’s it going to be?  Are we going to serve the gods of relativism, of greed, and the culture of death?  Will we turn away and no longer follow our Lord?  Or will we recognize with the disciples that there is no one else to whom we can turn and say with Joshua, “we will serve the Lord?”

At one point or another in every disciple’s life, he or she has to answer this question.  For me, it came in my early thirties, when I had been going to Willow Creek Church with some friends.  I was attracted, as many are, to the music and the preaching and I had many good experiences there.  There came a point in which I felt like I had to make a decision between the Catholic Church and Willow Creek, and I spoke to my pastor about it.  We went back and forth for a while and finally Father Mike put it very bluntly: “I don’t think you would ever stand in that chapel and say Jesus wasn’t present there.”

Shortly after that, I went to Willow Creek while they had their monthly “Lord’s Supper” service.  And that was part of the problem: it was monthly, not every week, certainly not every day.  And it wasn’t Jesus: it was just bread and wine that was a mere symbol of the Lord’s Body and Blood.  They had to project the Lord’s Prayer on the screen, because people didn’t just know it.  And the speaker in his sermon, apparently an ex-Catholic, made light of the Sacrament of Penance.  And in that moment, I knew Father Mike was right.  Christ is present in the Tabernacle, he is present on the altar, present in the sacraments, and there is no way in the world I could ever live without that.  I couldn’t turn away, and I would serve the Lord in the Catholic Church.  Who would ever guessed it would have led me here today!

And so I leave you with the same question Joshua posed to the Israelites and Jesus posed to his Twelve.  You have been fed at this table on the Bread that came down from heaven; the holy Bread of eternal life, the Body and Blood of our Savior God.  Yes, there are distractions out there, but we all know deep in our hearts where the true food is.  So will you also leave?  Decide today whom you will serve.  As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot and doctor of the Church

Today’s readings

Learning to follow the path of perfection is the most important goal of the spiritual life.  How do we get our relationship with God right so that we can live with him forever in heaven?  That was certainly the goal of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast we celebrate today.

In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux.  His five brothers, two uncles and around 30 of his friends followed him into the monastery.  Within four years a that monastic community, which had been dying, had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot.  The zealous young man was quite demanding, particularly on himself.  A minor health problem, though, taught him to be more patient and understanding.  The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light.

His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known.  More and more he was called upon to settle long-standing disputes.  On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome, and at one point he received a letter of warning from Rome.  He replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece.  If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know.

But his long-standing support of the Roman See was also well known, and shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope.  The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe.  His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured.  The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster.  Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade.  This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.

In striving for perfection throughout his life, Bernard responded to the call of today’s Gospel reading: “Come, follow me.”  That’s our call, too, and reflecting on the life of the saints, like Saint Bernard, can help us to follow that rather demanding path.  One day, we hope that striving for perfection will lead us to eternal life, the goal of all our lives.

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s readings

The tradition of the Assumption of Mary dates back to the very earliest days of the Church, all the way back to the days of the apostles. It was known that Mary had “fallen asleep” and that there is a “Tomb of Mary” close toMountZion, where the early Christian community had lived. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 tells us that, after Mary’s death, the apostles opened the tomb, finding it empty, and concluded that she had been taken bodily into heaven. The tradition was spoken about by the various fathers of the Church, and in the eighth century, St. John Damascene wrote, “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay… You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.” The current celebration of Mary’s Assumption has taken place since 1950, when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his encyclical, Munificentissimus Deus, saying: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.”

And so we have gathered here this morning to celebrate the life of Mary, Mother of God, the first of the disciples of Jesus her son.  And there is plenty to celebrate in her life.  We who would be Jesus’ disciples too, can learn much from the way she lived her discipleship.  We can see in her life, I think, at least three qualities of discipleship.  The first is joy.  She is one who not only allowed something incredibly unbelievable to be done in her, but allowed it with great joy. That she did this with joy tells us something very important about who she was. Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Those who live with joy, true joy, do so because God is at work in them and God is at work through them. Mary knew this from the moment the angel came to her.

The second quality we see in Mary’s prayer is humility. She knew this wasn’t about her; this was about what God was doing in her and through her. It wasn’t she that did great things, no, “the Almighty has done great things for me,” she tells us, “and holy is his Name!”  The third quality is faith: Mary’s simple faith allowed her to say “yes” to God’s will and made possible the salvation of the world.  Because of that faith, she had a bond with our Savior beyond anything we could ever hope for.  Indeed without Mary’s fiat, her great leap of faith, the salvation of humanity may have gone quite poorly.

What is important for us to see in this feast, though, is that it proclaims with all the joy the Church can muster that what happened to Mary can and will happen for us who believe. We too have the promise of eternal life in heaven, where death and sin and pain will no longer have power over us. Because Christ caught his Blessed Mother back up into his life in heaven, we know that we too can be caught up with his life in heaven. On that great day, death, the last enemy, will be completely destroyed, asSt. Paultells us today.

 

Mary’s life wasn’t always easy, but Mary’s life was redeemed. That is good news for us who have difficult lives or find it hard to live our faith.  There are those among us too who have unplanned pregnancies.  There are those among us whose children go in directions that put them in danger.  There are those among us who have to watch a child die.  But because Mary suffered these sorrows too, and yet was exalted, we can hope for the day when that which she was given and which we have been promised will surely be ours.

Mary’s life was a prophecy for us.  Like Mary, we are called to a specific vocation to do God’s work in the world.  We too are called to make sacrifices so that God’s work can be accomplished in us and through us.  We too can be joyful because God is at work in us.  We too are called to humility that let’s God’s love for others shine through our lives.  We too are called to lives of faith that translate into action on behalf of others, a faith that leads God’s people to salvation.  And we too, one day, hope to share in the glory that Mary has already received in the kingdom of God.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

The Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s readings

One of the most important things we can know about the Blessed Virgin Mary is summed up in the simple statement: “As Mary goes, so goes the Church.”  Mary is the Mother of the Church, and so, through her intercession, we hope to follow the path she followed.  We certainly celebrate and hope to emulate her faith; that faith that allowed her to be God’s instrument in bringing salvation to the whole world.  One simple “yes,” one fiat forever changed the world and the destiny of all people.  We also celebrate and choose to emulate her discipleship; that dedication to Christ that went beyond merely being his mother and encompassed being one who “hears the word of God and observes it” as Jesus extols in today’s Gospel reading.  And finally, we hope to share the heavenly glory that she enjoys even now, even though our sinfulness will not keep us from tasting death in the process.

Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Assumption is an event for which we have no Scriptural reference.  Instead, the doctrine of the Assumption is born out of the enduring Tradition of the Church, beginning in the early Church, encompassing the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, and culminating in the doctrinal declaration of Venerable Pope Pius XII.  We know, by the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born without taint of sin.  Today’s second reading reminds us that the sting of sin is death, and so it follows then that Mary would not undergo the corruption of bodily decay.

In the early Church, it was known that Mary had “fallen asleep” and there is a “Tomb of Mary” close toMountZion, where the early Christian community had lived.  The Council of Chalcedon in 451 tells us that, after Mary’s death, the apostles opened the tomb, finding it empty, and concluded that she had been taken bodily into heaven.  The tradition was spoken about by the various fathers of the Church, and in the eighth century, St. John Damascene wrote, “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.”  The current celebration of Mary’s Assumption has taken place since 1950, when Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in his encyclical, Munificentissimus Deus, saying: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

We know that Mary’s life was not an easy one, and that makes her faith all the more beautiful.  The grace she received in the Immaculate Conception allowed her to be a model for all of us and for the Church.  The fruit of her grace began to unfold with the Annunciation: when the angel Gabriel brought her God’s call to be the Mother of God.  Mary was a young girl with all the concerns of a young girl in that time and place. She was as yet unmarried, yet faithfully embraced God’s call, strange and unfathomable though it must have been to her. Mary’s simple faith allowed her to say “yes” to God’s will and made possible the salvation of the world.

Because of that faith, she had a bond with our Savior beyond anything we could ever hope for. And so we truly believe that Jesus, risen from the dead and now ascended into heaven, prepared a place for his mother and caught her back up into his life. She was assumed body and soul into heaven, and the corruption of death was not allowed to touch the one whose purity made possible the birth of the Savior. As St. John Damascene also said, “It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death.”

What is important for us to see in this feast, though, is that it proclaims with all the joy the Church can muster that what happened to Mary can and will happen for us who believe. We too have the promise of eternal life in heaven, where death and sin and pain will no longer have power over us. Because Christ caught his Blessed Mother back up into his life in heaven, we know that we too can be caught up with his life in heaven. On that great day, death will completely lose its nasty sting, asSt. Paultells us today.

Mary’s life wasn’t always easy, but Mary’s life was redeemed.  That is good news for us who have difficult lives or find it hard to live our faith.  There are those among us too who have unplanned pregnancies.  There are those among us whose children go in directions that put them in danger.  There are those among us who have to watch a child die.  But because Mary suffered these sorrows too, and yet was exalted, we can hope for the day when that which she was given and which we have been promised will surely be ours.

As I’ve reflected on this feast today, what kept coming to me was the fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.”  Jesus showed us the way to do that by honoring his own mother with grace that she would never know death.  We aren’t able to do that, of course, but we can certainly call our mother or spend time with her, or for those whose mothers have passed, pray for her.  And may we all find in Mary our Mother the example of faith that will lead us to everlasting communion with her Son.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God:
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Monday of the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Things are starting to get real for those first followers of Jesus.  Jesus speaks to his disciples at the beginning of today’s Gospel reading about his impending demise.  He foretells that he will be handed over and killed.  And the disciples are overwhelmed with grief.  Certainly we can resonate with their grief.  They’ve been following him and living day-in and day-out with him for quite some time now, and just when they are really starting to appreciate his message and mission, he’s talking about the end of it all.

We don’t have to spiritualize things too much to grieve ourselves over Jesus’ death.  Because we know what brought about that painful, humiliating death: our many sins.  Both our personal sins and the sins of our society have caused the evil which made his death the necessary means of salvation.  And so, as we look up there on that cross, well, we might feel a bit of grief ourselves over such great suffering for so much evil.

But we can’t miss what the disciples seem to have missed.  Right after the foretells his handing over and death, and before Matthew comments on their overwhelming grief, Jesus says this: “and he will be raised on the third day.”  Now, granted, they had no idea what that meant, so probably it couldn’t have been much comfort for them.  But we do know what it means – it means everything!  Yes, the weight of our sins is ponderous, but they don’t define us.  Yes, the evil in our world is overwhelming, but it is not triumphant.  Yes, death is sorrowful, but it is not the end.  It wasn’t for Jesus, and it doesn’t have to be the end for us either, if we believe in him and follow him and live the Gospel.

The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [B] – Bread of Life Discourse III

Today’s readings

There’s an awful lot of murmuring going on in today’s readings.  First, the prophet Elijah, fleeing for his life, takes refuge under a broom tree in the desert, pleading that God would take his life rather than let his enemies catch up with him.  Then the Ephesians have apparently been displaying enough bitterness, anger, shouting, reviling, anger and malice that Saint Paul has to tell them to cut it out.  Finally the Galileans, having enjoyed the feeding of the multitudes and then asking Jesus for more, become indignant when he tells them he is the bread come down from heaven.  Murmur, murmur, murmur.

The word, “murmur” and the Greek word that is translated as such – “gogguzo” – are examples of onomatopoeia, that is, the words sound like what they are.  Gogguzo means to murmur or complain or grumble.  It’s a kind of discontent that comes from a lack of something deep down inside; as we see it used here, it comes from a spiritual hunger.  We see it in all three of our readings today.

In the first reading, the prophet Elijah has had just about enough, thank you very much.  Despite some successes in preaching the word of the Lord, he has felt that he is a failure.  Today’s reading comes after Elijah, with God’s help, just defeated all the prophets of the false god Baal in a splendid display of pyrotechnics on Mount Carmel.  It’s a wonderful story that you can find in chapter 18 of the first book of Kings, and your homework today is to go home and look it up!  I promise, you’ll enjoy the story.  Well after that outstanding success, one would expect Elijah to go about boasting of his victory.  Instead, Jezebel, the king’s wife and the one who brought the prophets of Baal to Israel in the first place, pledges to take Elijah’s life.  Today’s story, then, finds him sitting under a scraggly broom tree, which offered little if any shade, and praying for death.  For him it would be better for the Lord to take his life than to die by Jezebel’s henchmen.  The Lord ignores his prayer and instead twice makes him get up and eat bread that God himself provides, so that he would be strengthened for the journey.  In the story that follows, Elijah will come quite face-to-face with God, and be refreshed to go on.  But he can’t do that if he starves to death under the broom tree.  Sometimes God does not give us what we ask for, but exactly what we need.

In the second reading, it seems like the Ephesians, far from being a close-knit spiritual community as one would expect, were more like a bunch of grade school children at recess, or the British House of Commons during a debate.   Saint Paul calls them to remember that they had been fed and strengthened by God’s forgiveness that was lavishly poured out on them through the suffering and death of Christ.  And he tells them they should be strengthened by that glorious grace to imitate God and live in love.

So Elijah needed strength for the journey, and the Ephesians needed strength for love and compassion.  But maybe the greatest spiritual hunger that we see in today’s readings is the hunger of those Galileans that were murmuring against Jesus.  Our Gospel reading takes us back to Saint John’s “Bread of Life Discourse.”  We usually read from the Gospel of Mark during this liturgical year, but since Mark is shorter than Matthew and Luke, we have a five-week opportunity during the summer to hear John’s Eucharistic Theology beautifully told in the sixth chapter of his Gospel.  We began two weeks ago with the feeding of the multitudes; then last week the multitudes sought Jesus out so they could get more of the same and Jesus sets out to feed their spirits.  At the end of last week’s Gospel, Jesus told them that Moses didn’t give them bread from heaven, but rather God did; and then he made a very bold claim: “I am the bread of life.”  So this week, the people are angry with Jesus for that claim, for saying that he came down from heaven.  They murmured because they knew his family, and surmised that he couldn’t have descended from heaven.  They didn’t yet understand the depth of who Jesus was.  They were so hungry that they didn’t realize that the finest spiritual banquet stood right before them.

 

The thing is, spiritual hunger is something we all face in one way or another.  Whether we’re feeling dejected and defeated like Elijah, or feeling cranky and irritable like the Ephesians, or whether we’re just feeling superior and murmuring like the Jews in today’s Gospel, spiritual hunger is something we all must face sometime in our lives.  From time to time, we all discover in ourselves a hole that we try to fill with something.  Maybe we try to fill that up with alcohol, or too much work, or too much ice cream, or the wrong kind of relationships, or whatever; and eventually we find that none of that fills up the hole in our lives.  Soon we end up sitting under a straggly old broom tree, wishing that God would take us now.  If we’re honest, we’ve all been at that place at one time or another in our lives.

We disciples know that there is only one thing – or rather one person – that can fill up that emptiness.  And that person is Jesus Christ.  This Jesus knows our pains and sorrows and longs to be our Bread of Life, the only bread that can fill up that God-sized hole in our lives.  We have to let him do that.  But it’s not so easy for us to let God take over and do what he needs to do in us.  We have to turn off the distractions around us, we have to stop trying to fill the hole with other things that never have any hope of satisfying us, and we have to turn to our Lord in trust that only he can give us strength for the journey.  Jesus alone is the bread that came down from heaven, and only those who eat this bread will live forever, forever satisfied, forever strengthened.

Because this bread is so important to us, because it is such a great sign of God’s presence in our lives, we should be all the more encouraged to receive the Eucharist frequently and faithfully.  Certainly nothing other than sickness or death should deter us from gathering on Sunday to celebrate with the community and receive our Lord in Holy Communion.  We should all think long and hard before we decide not to bring our families to Sunday Mass.  Sometimes soccer, football, softball and other sports or activities become more important than weekly worship, as if Mass were just one option among many activities from which we may choose.  Or maybe we decide to work at the office or around the house instead of coming to Church on Sunday, a clear violation of the third commandment.  I realize that I may well be preaching to those who already know this, and I realize that it’s hard, especially for families, to get to Church at times, but this is way too important for any of us to miss.  It is Jesus, the Bread of Life, who will lead us to heaven – the goal of all our lives, – and absolutely nothing and no one else will do that.

It all comes down to what we believe.  If we believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life, then why on earth would we ever want to miss worship?  If he is the only way to heaven, why would we think to separate ourselves from him?  Our Church teaches us that this is not just a wafer of bread and a sip of wine that we are receiving; we believe that it is the very real presence of our Lord, his body and blood, soul and divinity, under the mere appearance of bread and wine.  Because this is our Lord we are receiving, we should never allow anything to take its place.  Because this is our Lord we are receiving, we must return to this Eucharist every week, every day if we are able, acknowledging the great and holy gift that He is to us.

We will come forward in a few minutes to receive this great gift around the Table of the Lord.  As we continue our prayer today, let us remember to always do what the Psalmist tells us: “taste and see how good the Lord is!”