Few people are saved (cf. Matthew 7:14).  Fewer yet are those enlisted in the canon of Saints of Holy Mother Church.  But who receives remembrance and praise like John the Baptist? Two feasts, honoring his two births: his birth from Elizabeth’s womb, and his birth into eternity!

To continue with a liturgical study, it is interesting to look at things old and new.  The new Confiteor at Holy Mass gets straight to the point: I confess to God (and everyone else in Heaven), and I confess to you, my brothers and sisters (and everyone else on earth).  The old Confiteor took the time to acknowledge a few other people, including John the Baptist, both in the first part (the confession), and in the second part (the petition for prayer).  The Baptist was brought to the memory of the Faithful at every offering of the Holy Mass, along with his name being mentioned in the Roman Canon.  Such is his import and prestige among the disciples of Our Savior.

John was the privileged herald of the Messiah.  And on the feast of his Passion, we see that he was a herald both in life and in death.  In life, he went about proclaiming “ECCE, AGNUS DEI!” (Jn 1:29).  In death, with joy he proclaimed to the souls in captivity, ‘the Messiah has come, he will come soon to save us’!

Our reflection upon what happens after death is of utmost import.  Most people fear death (natural enough I suppose), but this leads very often to a failure of even thinking of what comes after death.  This, in effect, can lead to a false understanding, and a practical unbelief in the Afterlife! 

So we ought to reflect upon what is to come.  Leaving John’s first birth to another feast, let us ponder his second birth.  He had seen the Messiah.  He had proclaimed Him, pointed Him out, acknowledged His authority, and it was time for John to depart.  It has been the case that many Saints have died in a way that reflects the Death of Our Lord.  Stephen’s martyrdom is an example in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 7:55-60).  Peter’s crucifixion, upside down, is another.  John is not so different.  He had been mistaken to be the Messiah!  He was arrested, as was Our Lord.  He was maltreated by Herod, as was Our Lord.  He dies in the midst of violence, immorality, and the thronging of a mob, as was Our Lord.  John Chrysostom speaks of the goodness of John and the wickedness of the circumstances:

John is the school of virtues, the guide of life, the model of holiness, the norm of justice, the mirror of virginity, the stamp of modesty, the exemplar of chastity, the road of repentance, the pardon of sinners, the discipline of faith – John, greater than man, equal to angels, sum of the Law, sanction of the Gospel, voice of the apostles, silence of the prophets, lantern of the world, forerunner of the Judge, center of the whole Trinity!  And so great a one as this is given to an incestuous woman, betrayed to an adulteress, awarded to a dancing girl! (“Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints” 520)

…and, we might add, handed over by a man mouthing evil oaths! (Mt 14:1-12)

To move from the evil circumstances of John’s Passion, what good news could we offer to rectify the injustice?  John’s Passion was not John’s end.  John’s first birth, as our first birth, was ordered to his second birth.  It does us little good to have been born, if we are not preparing for birth into eternity.  In Biblical language, “It would be better for that man to not have been born!” (cf. Mt 26:24)

John was born into eternal bliss on that day.  He was a herald both in life and in death.  He was now assured of such joy, and proclaimed it to those in captivity, those who had been waiting for a redeemer, those going back all the way to our first parents.  To Adam, John could say, “The New Adam has come!  He has come to save us!”  To the patriarchs and prophets, John could say, “the King and Ruler of Israel has come!”  No longer with distant promises, the faithful in captivity would rise, and look to the gates of deliverance, expectation renewed at the arrival of the Herald.  With what joy and elation did John and the rest greet Our Lord when He came in power to save, when He came and trampled the gates of Hell, when He opened the gates of Paradise, when John’s heralding was fulfilled!  And the last ‘ECCE’ was the best, for it was not in passing proclamation, but the beginning of an unending beholding.  John could fix his gaze on the Lamb of God, the Lamb once slain, never to die again! (Rev 5:6)


The Catholic Encyclopedia. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 486-491. Print.

The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints. First single-volume paperback edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. 520. Print.

The Navarre Bible: Saint Matthew’s Gospel. 3rd edition. New York: Scepter Publishers, 2005. Print.

A Letter to a Lonely Christian Teenager

A Letter to a Lonely Christian Teenager

Dear Christian,

You know that you are supposed to be happy.  You know that you are supposed to be overflowing with joy.  You know that your smile is supposed to reflect the light of Jesus.  And you know that this isn’t happening.

You are lonely.  It’s hard to be a Christian.  Nobody else seems to be excited about Jesus.  You know that there are certain places where it is easier to be a Christian, especially that one retreat that was so amazing.  And you have tasted that joy in networks like in youth group, or at that one service day, or even in Facebook posts and memes.   And I know exactly what the next phrase out of your mouth is, when thinking about these things: “But it’s just not the same!” (You are referring to that magical moment or hour or day or retreat.)

lonely teenager

This letter is for you.  You are from a small church in a small town, and nobody else seems to be like those awesome people you met from that other town.

This letter is for you.  You are in a band or school group and it’s such a great group, but it doesn’t have Jesus.

This letter is for you.  You know exactly what life is supposed to look like as a disciple, but dang it! You feel like you’re all alone.  It would be SO much easier if I had a friend to walk this with.  It would be SO much easier if I was surrounded by that group of people all singing praises together with that awesome music.  It would be SO much easier if I knew all the right answers and every time I opened my mouth people couldn’t help but love Jesus with me.  I just wish everything and everyone around me made it easier, rather than harder, to like following Jesus!

Good News / Bad News.

Good news is: It IS POSSIBLE to have this amazing, dynamic, crazy awesome relationship with God.

Bad news: You aren’t going to find it by looking around.  You won’t find it by looking to your classmate, your teacher, your subject, the tv, the radio, your group.

The power of your relationship with God is found right there… right there… in that word I just wrote… which word? this word: RELATIONSHIP.  With whom?  GOD.  Your relationship with God is where the power comes.

Duh.  You already knew that.  That’s not the problem, you say.  The problem is sustaining this relationship.  And you want to look to all the above mentioned things to sustain the relationship.  And so you needed to state your argument again.  And now I can reflect back to you the real problem.

* You know that you need to be in a continuous relationship with God.

* You want that relationship to be fostered by all the events of your daily life.  “I want everything around me to point me to Jesus.  Why can’t the world just be awesome like that?”

Exactly.  Your point is my point.  You want others to point you to Jesus.  And you feel that you need that so that you can live for Jesus.  Those people want the same thing.  Other people want you to be in such a dynamic relationship with Jesus so that you point them to Jesus as well!  If we all keep looking to others, nobody is going to be able to live for God.  You start.  You do it.

prayer in secret

And so I invite you to explore this relationship with God, without looking outside of you.  Look to Jesus!  He is alive!  Talk to Him!  Invite Him to take over your life, to take over your stuff, to take over your day, to take over this moment.  Now.  Not later.  The beauty of this letter is that I know you can do two things:

1) You can start to read.

2) You can stop reading.

So, read these following lines, one at a time.  Start with line one and read it over and over again until you can close your eyes and say it without reading it.  You have memorized it.  It has become a part of you.  And then you can intentionally speak it to Jesus.  It becomes a prayer.  It becomes a river of water.  It becomes the very thing you have been looking for outside of yourself.  This dynamic thing you are looking for outside of yourself will become the dynamic thing that you are presenting to the world, and you won’t feel so lonely.  You won’t feel so dry.  It won’t feel so hard.  Because you will have finally gone to the one place you knew you needed to go all along.  You went to Jesus.   He lives in you.


Jesus, come inside of my heart.

Bring with you the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, fill me with God.

Jesus, lift my mind to You.

Jesus, fill my heart with Your love.

Jesus, fill my life with Your joy.

Holy Spirit, wash over me completely.

Fill me up, completely up, with Your power.

Make me Your disciple, Jesus, on fire for You.

Give me strength to tell of You to everyone and anyone I meet.

Use me, Jesus, to be a person who is clearly and totally Yours.

I love You, Jesus.  Make me love You more right now.

More. More. More.  Fill me up with More of You.

Jesus, you rose from the dead.  Give me new life.



If you read those over and over, slowly and with true desire, your day will be different.  And if you do something like it again tomorrow, tomorrow will be different.  You will notice that the things around you can, in fact, support your journey with Jesus, because you will have His eyes, His heart, His will, pouring out of you.  Whether you feel it or not.

Dear lonely Christian teenager.  You are not alone.  Jesus is right beside you.  In fact, He’s inside of you!

jesus walks with you

Personal application from me to you of 1 Peter 1. (Go read it in your Bible, or below.)

I, a disciple of Jesus Christ, write to you, lonely disciple, wherever you are: God knows you; He gives you His Spirit, and the Blood of Jesus is covering you.  Grace and Peace to you in ABUNDANCE!  Blessed be God.  He gave you a new birth because Jesus rose from the dead.  You are on your way to Heaven.  Stay strong in personal prayer with Him and go to your secret place and strengthen your relationship with Him by talking to Him!

Grace and Peace to you,

a fellow disciple.


1 Peter, chapter 1:

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen sojourners of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification by the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ: may grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.  In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials,so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

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