Blue Cool School

imag0705_1. It was a great day at St. Pius the Tenth (SPX) school today. Bishop Knestout (a grad) came by with the ADW Superintendent to celebrate the school becoming a Blue Ribbon award winner. All four of us Bowie pastor-priests were on hand, as well as the whole school body of students, teachers and staff, to gather in the church. There the school got the hapoy news.

We prayed and sung out in song and applauded one another (especially the teachers) and gave thanks for the accomplishment. The school really caught on quickly of how special this award was for us, and the mood was one of joy and excitement! We are in the top 15% in the nation for preK/K-8 schools.

I have taught here over the past eight years and it has been a happy time of return to the school of my childhood. I usually teach six classes per week in religion classes. I do other things at SPX like pray Masses, hear confessions, go to socials and field trips or sports CYO games or scout events. It’s been great.

Today the bishop recognized me for own connections and service to this school, as a priest come home, and the school responded by giving me a real big cheer. That felt great.
His Excellency shared his own memories of seven years in the school as a former student, and of some recent happy returns home to St. Pius X.
(When he joined the school and 2nd grade in 1970, I was there as a 7th grader. We lived three streets away and our families knew each other and shared the same parish. Later, Bishop Knestout and I went to the same seminary and became ordained in 1988 and 1989, successively, with first Masses at St. Pius X parish.)

I have been a part of Catholic schools since 1987. I don’t have a lucky horseshoe in my pocket, but five of the seven schools I have served in the ADW have received Blue Ribbon awards. Imagine that. Thus, I have seen the cream of the crop around the Archdiocese of Washington.

I told a reporter today that these students of this school were the most special to me.

The whole school donned bkue hard hats in the end of the assembly, celebrating the reward given for our hard work and high achievement here.

As the whole school posed for a photo, at the finish, it did not dawn on me to snap a photo of them all there at the time. (It would have looked good right here.) Yet professional photographers were on hand; photos will be in local newspapers and the diocesan paper soon. Bravo.

Guess the palindrome

Guess the palindrome–a word that is the same in letters backwards and forwards.

For example, “You see with one of these, and it’s above your nose.”
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Answer: EYE. That was an easy one; and I gave you a big visual hint. Most of the other ones in the quiz below are harder.

If you guess 15 of them correctly in your tries, then go and get a soluble marker and write “smart” on your forehead. (Because you are smart in knowing your palindromes!)

Ready to play? Answers will be at the end. No peaking until you are done! :)

A. “To have faked someone out, as if you faked going one way, and you ran by the other way and scored.”
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B. “Pertaining to cities, it is a kind of duty one offers.”
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C. “The sprinkler system did its job overnight, and the lawn is artificially ____, rather than all dry.”
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D. “It is a watercraft somewhat slimmer than a canoe, but you cannot heat it, and have it too– as goes the joke.”
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E. “It is a tool often used in putting up buildings, so that they are straight up/down and sideways.”
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F. “In an old-fashioned way, it is a word used in a way addressing a woman.”
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G. “It is a little musical note.”
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H. “With this device/technology, meteorologists can see and relate on to us what kind of weather is coming our way.”
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I. “It is a word that means to attribute to.”
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J. “It is a rotating machine part.”
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K. “It is a series of compelling, long stories, as in Carl Sagan stories about the cosmos.”
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L. “There are two of them in the human species, as differentiated scientifically by chromosome study.”
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M. “In professional baseball, there are those who love to see all the recorded numerical minutia, called _____.”
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N. “In the stadium-led singing of the National Anthem, it is usually sung by one performer, as in a ____.”
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O. “It is a principle or a special point among a group, as in those of our Apostles Creed.”
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P. “It is an order in court to keep someone from speaking/testifying.”
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Q. “To ever-briefly sound your horn, as to politely beep.”
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R. “This should be put onto any small child for when they eat spaghetti-os.”
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S. “What might we call such a child?”
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T. “What sound does Jiffy Pop popcorn make when it pops?”
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Before we present the answers, and oh boy did we give you a second easy one with Quiz question T, we fill in this space with a photo. These palidromes were mainly supplied by an anonymous reader of the blog.
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Ok, let’s see if you got 15 (or more) solved. If so, then you are a real PIP!

Answers. EYE was the example. (You got it, right?!) Here are the rest.
A. DEKED. B. CIVIC. C. DEWED D. KAYAK E. LEVEL F. MADAM
G. MINIM H. RADAR I. REFER J. ROTO K. SAGAS L. SEXES M. STATS N. SOLO O. TENET. P. GAG. Q. TOOT R. BIB S. TOT. T. POP

(if you missed T, then you are automatically disqualified from winning, and may not mark “smart” on your forehead).

If you indeed got all of them, then you may say “wow” and call your “mom” (palindromic exclamations) and tell her of how smart you are!little sisters Mom, getting the news of your success with this quiz.

Bonus: A figure in the above photo, which has a palindrome vocation.
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Answer: NUN of the above (pic) :)

Things to be shared; ourselves to be shared. Homily Sept. 24-25

This is a homily about sharing things, mostly of ourselves to others.

Boys and girls, today’s story was about a man who wouldn’t share. He turned out to become very unhappy. Why? Because. It gets lonely without ever sharing, or of hardly ever sharing. Sharing is good! It gets people to come together. It helps you to have friends. Sharing brings happiness. God created us and all the world to be living that way.

Sharing.

So–what do you share? Toys or games? A bicycle? Snacks or food? How about the bathroom with your sister? Or do you share time with pals at school? Think about it for a moment… and I will now speak to the older people here about sharing.

Teens and young adults: a negative side of being self-enclosed (when we are NOT in the sharing mode) is that something can get us to shut-off socially a bit from other people. We can get attached to a THING that consumes too much “me”-time, leaving out the “us” time (or people time) in healthy, in-person, social exchanges. So, is there some THING which is getting too much attention from you, as in isolating you in its use, from being in healthy time with others? Maybe it is some electronic thing, which you might over-do or abuse in attention. Watching too much tv inside used to be my generations problem there.

I think this example relates to the problem Lazarus had in today’s Gospel story, as well as can it apply to the lesson from last Sunday’s gospel.

Adults, last week we were in Luke 16 for our Sunday gospel as we heard Jesus say that a person cannot fully serve both God and mammon. Just one can be truly served, said Our Lord. Today we just continue on in that message in Luke.

Mammon, as in the word it comes from “mamona,” refers to the materialism one lives, for the possessions they are clinging and clutching onto, in a spirit of serving self. Made into a religion or way of life, we call that today as “secular humanism.” In this lifestyle, one’s Ego is first served, rather than God–even while the Lord may be given some lip service or some effort of attention– but it is clear where the service of life is mostly going, which is to “self.”

A person once caught up in this way of life, but gladly no more, said that the best thing ever to happen to them–imagine this!– was when a sudden storm and flood took away most of their possessions! It claimed their house, home business and office, wallet, yard and garden, car and truck and boat, art, collectibles, tv and computers and electronic things, and so much more and so forth. Without these things, and without family to help, they had to live on by the kindness of others for some time. Help mainly came from their church and church friends. It brought a freedom to them that they always had inwardly sought out. It came–via a storm.

This person had a few clothes left, in their survival, and gladly their money savings was safe in a bank, but all else seemed to be lost to them. They realized that the best thing was spared–their own life–and that all the major stuff they had could be let go of and be gone forever. And they learned to let go, and to become less of a materialistic person, and it so happened. Wow.

They said that it was a lesson of a lifetime, learned through a dreadful storm, but that perhaps they could have learned the lesson earlier, step by step, if they had just been surrendering their life and things over to the Lord more. Yet they learned it, instead, all by this immense trial. This is what they now try to convince for other people to do– to freely find a spirit if detachment, step by step. You could call it their ministry now.

On this upcoming Columbus Day, in the evening, on that October Monday, circle the calendar for a Year of Mercy speaker, who will share a story of being an ordinary Catholic who had an extraordinary experience of sharing mercy out of a pain suffered, that hss freed him into a happiness he never imagined, into detachment.

Jesus lived a life of detachment, and He encouraged His disciples to try and do the same. Christians through the ages have tried to take to heart the Master’s words of wisdom, yet it has been hard to be not so attached to some things. The pleasure in things isn’t wrong, but of how off-centered we can get over things. The Lord isn’t stern with us, either, about our things, but He does say so here in Luke’s recorded words that we should heed some advice of Him to watch out for things getting to possess us, rather to just be our possessions. He also asks us to weigh our values in life as to how they promote the Kingdom of God experience to come among people of the world. It’s a message here in Luke 16 & 17, as it is throughout Luke, as in the prayer we ought to make (in Luke 6) for “Thy Kingdom to come, and Thy will to be done on earth,” as in and through us, for a sample to give to the world of how it will be in Heaven for God’s people.

The parable story of Lazarus is about a rich man on earth, too caught up in himself, to notice what is going on in him. He has gone uncaring and cold. Even the poor man by his door, of whom he could have easily helped, went unnoticed and in-helped by him. It’s a pity, as the Lord paints a parable scene in the afterlife, where and when Lazarus greatly regrets it. In perusing the parable, I reflect on how it wasn’t Lazarus money or charitable gift that is emphasized here, but it was the chilly heart of Lazarus. He had ample opportunity for conversion of his heart and mind to be a carer and a ‘share-er,’ rather than to remain as a hoarder and being so self-absorbed, as a slave to his lusts and greed, at the expense of the community, and ultimately, to his own soul.

The example of Lazarus may seem so dramatic and large, that we would not relate to it. But let’s learn from it, even if we would not be a rich man or woman, acting in such indifference.

A parish of the Church, like ours, is as good in community, as we are detached from the things that could pull us away from one another or our mission to be Jesus’ people. We are as good as our interest is to build up something here and in the world of the Christian way, the Kingdom of God. We can get so unconnected to that, and distracted away from living in that manner. We can be into a million things, but with it pushing godly priorities to back burners most of the time. We should try to not let that happen.

I wondered about a young person and why they did not stay in the church of their parents. I asked of it, and they surmised: ‘I suppose it was because I am and have been spoiled person firva long time. I have lived mostly a self-absorbed way, getting much of what I have wanted, and having all sorts of things and experiences, of mostly a worldly manner. This has been the focus for awhile. As long as everything is going good my way, I think I’ll stick with it. I frankly don’t feel the need for church or God stuff.’
It seems like they have the Lazarus disease. They need a cure for the inner illness they have, which is going on unacknowledged and unaddressed.

I recall Luke’s stories in his gospel and Acts of many people who learned detachment to things, turning focus to Jesus heartedness and to a life of sharing. This story of Lazarus was one who sadly didn’t. ### imag0688 A healthy church is her being a harmony and sharing tree Application: For the families that are raising children and teens right now, perhaps a simple application of this gospel could be to talk with your children about some of the things that they have that can be shared with others. Ask your children to describe a time when they had to share something that they had. Ask if this was easy or difficult and why. Talk about some of ways in which your family shares your possessions. Read again, together, today’s Gospel, to consider some reasons why the rich man may not have shared his riches with the poor man, Lazarus. Identify some reasons why we might share our possessions with others. Make a commitment as a family to do something this week in which you will choose to share your possessions.

Funeral Homily for a friend Alex

SCRIPTURES
A reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes:
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens: A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant… a time to tear down, and a time to build; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to be silent, and a time to speak; a time to love… God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work that which God has done…. Whatever God does will endure forever.

A reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians:
We believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep…. The dead in Christ will rise… Then, we who are alive…will be caught up together to meet the Lord (in the end)… Thus we shall always be with the Lord… Therefore, console one another with these words…. Encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do….

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (ch. 2):
When the days were completed for their purification, they (Joseph and Mary) took him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord …Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him… He came in the Spirit to the Temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law… he took Him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for Your people Israel.” The Child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them.

HOMILY
Ecclesiastes says it pointedly: “There is a time to be born and there is a time to die.” Dates are printed there on your program of Alex’ human birthday and of his date of death. Today as I mourn him, I am comforted by the images of sunrise and sunset, as appropriate to the verse being “a time to rise, a time to set.”

Over on the Dumlao waterfront property, you were in position to see the sunrise and sunset, the two very special moments of each day. It may be easy to take the presence and benefits of the sun for granted when it is overhead. And if you can’t see the horizon, it may be easy, too, to miss the wonder of a daily sunrise and sunset. But they are clearly revealed when one has a clear and beautiful view to take in. Alex and Maricel bought their local home because they wanted to appreciate each and every day, from sun-up to sundown and one’s rest and rising again. They could see and appreciate each rise and setting.

I liked coming over to watch some sunrises and sunset with them, either on their porch, or dock, or out on a boat, launched from their pier.

Take the wonder of the sun’s rising, if you will… Having extinguished the stars, ever so slowly, ever so gently, our sun eases itself over the rim of the world, coming up over the waters, from a shore view or river view. Up, up the sun comes from the great beyond, scattering light and radiating heat to the four corners of the earth. We are amazed at how large it appears. It is at its largest when it sits on the horizon, joining heaven and earth. It is no exaggeration to say that at this time it appears twice its normal size. It seems to pose there fleetingly, as if to show itself to us in all its brightness and freshness, before it starts to climb the sky and get on with the business of the day.

And take the sun’s setting. Down, down it goes. Its rate of departure can be measured by the fading light and waning heat. As it retreats, it appears to grow in size. It is at its largest when it meets the horizon. Sometimes it is a quite a show that it puts on in the western sky.

As at its coming, so at its going, our sun seems to pose briefly on the edge of the world, as if to show itself to us in all its completeness one last time. Then, re-lighting the stars, it slips slowly and silently away into the great beyond whence it came.
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Just as sunrise and sunset are very special moments in the day, so birth and death are very special moments in the life of a human being. At these moments we realize that each person is absolutely unique. At birth something (or someone) comes into being that never was before. At death something (or someone) passes away that will never be (on earth) again.
People also seem larger to us at these two moments. We may take them for granted at other times but not at these two moments. At these two moments we are given a glimpse of their true worth and of the benefits they bestow on us.
At birth and death we regard them not only as precious but sacred as well. Heaven and earth are joined together. We feel we are in the presence of mystery. Each person is a mystery. Each person is a gift from God.

Alex and Maricel (who pre-deceased her husband many months ago now) have been gifts to us. Some people knew them from work and from way back in the start of their marriage, some go back further, as with Alex and knowing him since school at (he went to St. John’s Military Academy High School), or right back to his elementary school days and parish in his neighborhood in Anacostia in D.C. You men have stuck together well since then.

Alex served for his country, and was a patriotic man, and he married a Philippines-born woman, Maricel, who became the joy of his life. With her, these two Filipino Catholics had “a time to embrace…a time to build… a time to laugh… a time to gather (especially in Maricel liking to collect unique things!)… a time to seek, as in traveling, which I got enjoy with them, as did others.

Alex and Maricel also had many “a time to keep,” as in keeping in love, keeping up with friends, keeping in community (as in that Teams of Our Lady prayer and sharing group), keeping as “church” (as in this parish here, faithfully–and in others beforehand), in keeping Catholic faith with Mass-going and prayers and sharing love with God’s beloved. This couple, who will be deeply missed, also kept close with the people in Medley’s Neck and Riverview Drive. One of their neighbors, Ned, has assisted in this farewell via his Leonardtown funeral home, and thanks here is given…

The uncomfortable phrase in the Ecclesiastes record of times is “a time to die.”

It is tough dealing with the death of our friend and neighbor and fellow believer. We approach it with faith in God and in thanksgiving for all that Jesus has done for us. Yet it still hurts. We approach it with fond memories of Alex, and of his wife Maricel, and how their lives touched us as works and reflections of God. Yet it still hurts to not have them with us now, here on earth, in the flesh with us.

Death throws a curve at us, in using a baseball analogy, like Alex liked to do. We followed baseball together closely. Death throws a curve in life, and it is hard to hit a curveball. It isn’t certain where the pitch will end up. Death renders us fairly helpless, like a big swinger largely missing a pitch. What comes next?

Yet in all our weakness, we still know we Christians are presently temples of the Holy Spirit and home to many Holy Communions and/or readings and ponderings of Holy Scripture in our Lord. We have prayed very many “Our Fathers” up to the Almighty, too. We have holiness in us; we have Jesus in us. We have life with God.

Yet our bodies still die, and are subject to death, the consequences of sin in humanity and our fall from Grace with God. How do we approach that fact, in that we still bodily die? I think we do so with a lot of mystery and a bunch of trust in God that all which will happen next to us will be as Jesus says will happen to His faithful ones. Which is: He is our Savior–we are saved. Our soul flies home, our body is buried, then time passes, and then the Return of Christ and the Resurrection of the body occurs. Full reunion happens for the good and just people of God at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

But here on a funeral death, we do have to deal with the mystery of death, and for a loved one like Alex, and of our memory also of Maricel. Since she had no official Mass of Christian Burial here in her Our Lady’s parish home, having died overseas, I remember her and present her to God, as with Alex’ intention.

Death is really only know personally for those who walk through that door and go from us. What is it like? We don’t know hardly at all. Some near-death survivors do describe a great Light, before their coming back to live more on earth. The Bible also gives us St. John’s Revelation and some peaks into glory with like with Isaiah seeing angels at the New Temple, or Ezekiel having visions. These all give some comfort. We mostly have the words of Jesus in showing Who God is to us. He shows God to be Merciful, and His description of the Father and Spirit is loving and full of life–of the everlasting kind. That sounds welcoming. Alex told me a few times since 2014 that he was content with his life and with whenever the Lord would call him. He felt fairly ‘kind-of-ready, as in that, we can always be a better Christian—but he was pretty much ready and confident that when God called him—that he’d hear “well done, my good and faithful servant”—the words Matthew’s Gospel tells about the good servant of the Lord meeting His Master finally at Heaven’s gate. That verse comes from Matthew 25, which is Jesus’ word about who will get to Glory. Jesus said it would certainly be people who gave of their lives to others, in being a good neighbor, as unto the Lord. I think Alex Dumlao meets the description of good neighbor to many, and a generous, holy man in varied ways. He always liked to be of help to others. It led him to want first to be a doctor.

Yet he was a Christian neighbor in that vocation, letting the heart of Jesus direct and inspire his work. Outside of work, he kept on being a very good neighbor and friend. This community knew well that giving heart of Alex, as always helping out, and lending his smile, and face of serenity that God had it all ultimately under control, despite how things look to us on earth.

Alex had a hard time dealing with the passing of Maricel. She truly was his other half. That was a curveball he had trouble with, but he did notice the good timing of it, that, before his own health went bad, God took his wife home. It would have been painful to not to have been able to care for her, so God knew what He was doing there.

Alex was ready for the Savior to call Him on. We spoke on the meaning of the prayer at the start of Luke’s gospel and Simeon’s hope. It’s why we have that gospel for his funeral. When Simeon saw the baby Jesus, he knew that He could now go in peace. Alex, when you were alone in your house, all of a sudden, Jesus came. In our own typical laughing at how God works, Alex, you were in the bathroom, using it for ‘business.’ What a place for Jesus to appear! Yet, in all the suffering or struggle you had, Alex— I am sure He came. I bet you quickly burst into Simeon’s prayer: “Let your servant go in peace. You have fulfilled Your Promise, O God. I am yours.”

In ending, for my part, I was happy to be sent to this parish in 2002, and get to meet this couple who would become cherished friends through to now. Alex and Maricel. ‘Hope to see you at the banquet hall of Heaven, friends!

Re-arranged words of same letters

I was teaching school kids today in the great classroom environment that is St. Pius Xth Regionals. The sign on a teacher’s door told a story of their philosophy. (It is shown here.) So, it means that silence is good, listening is good, and respect is important for the students to practice. With it, and with a few other things, you have a good classroom.imag0696_1

Teachers like all the word games and tricks. If l-i-s-t-e-n can make silent, then p-o-t-s can be stop, c-a-r-s can be scar, and s-p-a-r-e can be reaps, and so forth. There are some board games and internet games that test one’s word re-arranging skills. Be few can be as clever as that one on the door.

These brain games of words and numbers are healthy for you, making the mind to solve and work. Palindrones, lexigrams and anagrams are other brain calisthenics. Now and then, they throw one such word puzzle as a category in Jeopardy, and can be fun.

God sees what is going on–The Honesty Homily for 9-18

The Gospel: Jesus said to his disciples:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
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Homily
God sees all that is going on about earth. He is determining by our actions of whom “He can trust with true wealth” — that is, with heavenly treasure, with His Kingdom. For instance, in the all important Life Issues category, are we trustworthy enough in respecting others, of the people whom God has made? Are we trusted advocates for Life, as in being pro life?

In this parable, Jesus says that we should respect what belongs to another. Humanity belongs to a very special “Another”– it is Jesus Himself and all of the Holy Trinity! The Church defends life from conception to natural death simply because those people and souls belong to God. Are you fully aboard with that?

What also belongs to others is their own personal human dignity, a principle which is held high in Catholic social teachings. We see our neighbors as images of God. So, as in hearing this gospel today, we conclude that we can either serve God by respecting life and in serving Him in giving human dignity to our fellow man, OR we can be seen by God as an untrustworthy person, in one who is de-valuing life, God’s created work.

These matters matter! Our choices will show the answer of whom or what we serve. Make the choice to fully be a pro-life Catholic. Those calling their option to take away life as ‘pro choice’ are choosers for death for some people, usually the most vulnerable or helpless. Yet pro lifers alone have a choice that respects all and their right to live. It’s the honest to God choice.

The teaching of Jesus here in Luke’s Gospel reveals a truth about service, in matters upon the earth, that it indeed has eternal ramifications. One ought not to deceive their self any different: God keeps watch over all things. He’s watching who is honest.

Here in Luke chapter 16 we have Jesus explaining His use and meaning of a parable, about a slick lender who is in a difficult, business spot. It’s a lesson explaining that God does see and know about the person who is dishonest in this world and who does think they are getting away with it. They won’t, but maybe their effort to turn it all around with a decided effort will be the difference of how God sees that person in the end.

In the parable, Jesus explains how God sees how people go and do things dishonestly, and He knows why we do it, as often it is because of people’s divided hearts or divided loyalties. It’s the point of the dishonest steward in His parable. Jesus simplifies and summarizes the lesson, saying: “You just cannot fully serve both God and the god of mammon.” Really, one cannot fully be serving anything ungodly and say that they are also serving God well. It doesn’t work so.

Relate this to Life issues today. One cannot serve both the God of life and the false gods of death and god of self. This is a basic of the pro-life movement. We are servants to God with all respects to human caring, from people conceived in the womb and forward on.

Yet, we know, we have people saying they are a Catholic or another type of Christian believer, but who live in a huge compromise here in the Respect Life department, and who thus fall short in their honor due to our God of Life. One who is in that situation should be uncomfortable in that spot. Like the slick lender who knew he was caught in his deceit and dishonesty, there are some people God is calling to truly be pro-life and to show pro-human dignity–with no dodging and excuses and evasion anymore. Come clean to God!

As the nation goes forward, will we stand to honor Him and His own workmanship called humankind, or give in to secular humanism and materialism and the like? You have a decision to make, if you are on the fence.

I have a point with the Black Lives Matter movement: Include the African-American babies as black lives that matter. They are being aborted by the thousands and few raise their voice about that, even in most recognized black churches in the nation. Why so? It’s dishonest. Be pro-life because it is a Lives Matter movement and lived to glorify God as being His servants for life.

Our newest Saint, Teresa of Calcutta, made it a huge point in her USA visits, in publicly saying that, if we all here didn’t get honest about the abortion business and its related issues disrespecting human life, and see it for the great tragedy it is, then we would always be in a hole and in a shaded or bad place until we do. She called the believers in this nation to repent, and for the Church, acting in Christ’ Name, to restore society to peace. She remains right, but she her prophetic call for us to be pro life is not heeded enough. It is a bit like Amos’ story, whom we will discuss in a minute. Don’t we wonder of how can we say “God Bless America,” and expect an answer, if we in this nation are still taking so many children’s lives away, God’s little ones, by abortion and its procedures? Man!

As Luke 16 shows, people insist on a dualism (i.e. taking both sides or no sides) that Jesus said cannot be done. People want to claim how they still are a ‘good person,’ as in ‘ok in God’s sight,’ YET all the while having something sinful or dark that they are siding with–like supporting abortion and issues versus the respect for every human life. God asks that we instead get on HIS side fully and put away the ungodly attraction/ distraction. Whom shall we serve? Children belong to Him. If we are not trustworthy stewards with that–Jesus asks, then “How can we be trusted with more, which belongs to God?”

OUCH, you should say. Luke 16 IS an OUCH section of Scripture.

In Luke 16:14-15, the Pharisees and others said Ouch. The verse goes: “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things from Jesus, and they derided Him. And He said to them: You are ones who ‘justify’ yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men may be an abomination in the sight of God.”

If you justify your dishonest actions, when God says He knows the truth–then why not just change your actions? This is what the dishonest steward in the parable does, winning some points back with his boss and others, even while losing his job. He can start anew in honesty, if he would exercise the courage.

Take our story of Amos, too, from our opening reading today. Amos was a real good man of faith. He lived on the border of the two split-parts of the Holy Land, Judah and Israel. God raised up this holy man of an ordinary occupation (he was a caretaker of trees); He made of him a mighty prophet. The Lord sent Amos to speak to the northerner Jewish peoples of Israel, who were (in Amos’ time) living far off from their holy origins. The people and king there thought themselves still as good folks under God, but God didn’t see them that way.

God called this just man Amos and sent him to say such stinging words, as: Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the Sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” Thus says the Lord!

Amos tells these folks, in the prophetic word of the Lord, that “good” people would not be known for trampling over desperate folks, or harming the poor of the land. Thus, they are not ‘good’ in God’s sight! They need a big change! Thus sayeth the Lord, through Amos.

The Israelites didn’t like that assessment, and they wanted Amos to go away. He wouldn’t. ‘God sent me to save you,’ he said. ‘Oh, there are times when it seems you will be lawful. You behave on the Sabbath or before new moon festivals, as on official holy days, but then right after that, all manner of sin then breaks forth from you, with all sorts of lying and cheating and deceit, even the kind that is done to mislead or fool people and to take from them or to control them. God says that there isn’t weekdays off from obeying God! If Israel will be so disobedient, as they clearly were doing, then they had God’s ultimate judgment to face.

Amos really is proposing the question: So, knowing this, what do you all think you should so do? (How about repent and reform?) Cut to the end of story. We know they didn’t, and the Assyrians ran roughshod over them. The Northern Kingdom—Israel–fell.

We can borrow lessons from the story to our modern situation. God spoke prophetically in Amos about how His true followers should not remain comfortable and feeling aok in living with a divided heart or mind. God says through His prophet: ‘Either truly be holy and good, or not. You cannot serve in two directions.’ It is a call to repentance and amendment of life. And here you see the connection with Amos’ message and the one of Jesus in Luke 16. “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

In this Year of Mercy, a moment in the Sacrament of Reconciliation may be awaiting you about matter of life and being honest about it, or some other fundamental choice of serving God and/or another person who deserves respect from you.

In the good moral choices we Catholics are offered to make, as in an election vote, or one at work, or in social circles– are we siding with pro-life choices or in compromised, dulled conscience choices? Are we serving God with our lives and respecting human dignity, or going along with a disrespectful, me-first culture that prefers mammon. What is mammon? Mammon is another word for wealth that is used in the New Testament; a transliteration of the Aramaic ‘mamona’ which means wealth or self-profit and gain by unrighteousness.

I preach often against what is the practice of secular humanism, and the materialistic wealth that is even favored now over respecting human dignity and other’s lives in America. I preach against the way of ‘mamona.’ Why? Because Jesus says things like in Luke 16:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” That eternal dwelling He’s talking of isn’t “up.” Modern day rebels versus God, like the covetous Pharisees, do think they are ‘scott-free’ of Him, but instead stand guilty before the Word of God in Jesus, the Eternal and Incarnate Word. But as today’s parable shows, God mercifully gives us time to choose whom or what we will serve.

God has sent us Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II and others to prophetically say to us in the USA: ‘Abortion is murder. Murder is a break of the Fifth Commandment, a capital offense to the Almighty. God authors life and then we go and take it away. Is that the way of friend of God acts?’

Right now there are large forces working to lead this nation down a darker path on the Life Issue. They advocate Death. God speaks to us clearly on what should be our stand: “Am I not the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (i.e. The Life that goes on)? So, God is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus, Matthew 22:32.

Believer–Be with life and the God of life. God tells us through the prophet Amos today: “Don’t trample over the weak and do injustice to the poor.” Abortion promoters do this. Who “will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals” is his question today to the sinful, far-off-the-mark people of secular humanism who do this today. We will not be those people, Christians, oh no!! We stand with the great I AM.

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MLB Baseball is rounding third…

imag0593_1The 2016 is rounding third… and the season runs home with September baseball and pennant races… Teams are hoping for big first place finishes and/or play off berths… Recently I went to a Chicago Cubs home game versus the Giants (pic above). The Cubs won. The home fans were in full delight. Will the Cubbies finally be the champs of baseball this October? Time will tell– but they are favored to live their century sought dream…
I also went to a Yankees home game in NYC vs. the O’s recently. The Yanks won it.
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Tonight the Red Sox play the Yankees. I have it on tv. It is a key game for either of their post-regular season chances. The BoSox’ big star just smashed a home run in the game. “Big Papi” (David Ortiz) is in his final year and this player #34 hit his 34th homer of this season to give him 537 career four-baggers. That is a big number. He surpasses the beloved Mickey Mantle (a childhood hero) and the Maryland-born immortal Jimmy Foxx on the all-time records (who had 536 and 534).

This past month I also dropped by the tiny, Md. Eastern shore town of Sudlersville to see if they remembered their old-time Hall of Fame slugger Jimmy Foxx.. Indeed, the town has a park and statue for him, and a street and an apartment area named in his honor. While Ortiz passes Foxx in numbers, I still want to put Jimmy above him in amazement. Foxx was just short of Ruth in being the King Kong of yesteryear. imag0573imag0570_burstshot002_1. imag0566_1I learned something of Foxx on this visit. He was the secret real figure of the baseball film “League Of Their Own.” Tom Hanks played him as the manager in a women’s baseball league, who famously says to the ladies after a loss: “There’s no crying in baseball!”

(Pic below is me as an ump behind Thurman Munson, as I call a strike pitch, while in the Yankee Stadium museum.)imag0577_1

OH! We have a score update. The Red Sox came to win the game, with Ortiz being the hero.

Back in the school halls

imag0688imag0689 I am back teaching in our parochial school. School is in session for its 2016-17 lessons. It’s my 28th year to be teaching in Catholic schools as a priest.

One of the familiar and fun things in the Catholic school is its colorful boards in the hallways. I stood and chatted with a teacher busy making one last Tuesday. Here are three others. The two above are “hands in harmony” made of students in a class, making a tree of their parts. The one below is a full of drawings of what kids think a selfie phone pic might look like of themself. Fittingly, I took a selfie in front of the hall board.imag0690
Here below is a photo I took of a church at sunset, and I added a Welcome to Autumn effect to it. Each new Autumn means a new school year is underway!imag0645_1_1_1

Now for something completely different!

For something totally different for my blog, here comes a vocabulary builder! Here is a sentence for you with two new big words, both of which I’ve heard spoken in telecasts:

When I went vacationing to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery-chwyrndrobwilllantysllogogogochh, I strangely became afflicted with Pneumono-ultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

The town name IS a real village in Wales, on an island, across the strait from Bangor. It has 58 letters. I heard it pronounced on a BBC weathercast. The word for the odd illness came up in a televised spelling bee, and the quizzed kid actually knew it.

The affliction that poor tourist got (in our make-believe vacation) is a malady from one’s breathing-in tiny volcanic dust. It’s a real word in the Oxford Dictionary, but we would say it WAS quite strange how he got it in Wales, as it means that it came from ashes swept across the earth from some active volcano. ‘Poor luck, laddie! And on your vacation, even!

Now, as an added bonus to this surprise blog, I will help you to pronounce the name of that Wales village and the malady. The lesson is below. I will also tell you something of that village….

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery-chwyrndrobwilllantysllogogogochh
• LLAN – Like the word clan, but start it as a double-l pronunciation with your tongue staying behind the top teeth.

• FAIR – Vire. Say it like the word “fire” but with a “v”

• PWLL – Puh—wull.— it’s almost the word pull. But Pw-ull. (Keep the tongue in place for the ll’s!)

• GWYN – Like the girl’s name Gwynetthe but without the etthe part.

• GYLL – It sound like the fishy word “gill” but finished it choppy on the two ll’s (Tongue in place!)

• GO – Pronounce “go” as in the start of the word “gone”

• GER – Gare. • YCH – Yock. . • WYRN – Win.

• DROB – Say the words “draw” and “ebb” as one word: drawb

• WLL – Uhl. (As in dull, without the d)

• LLAN – Like clan, but start it as a double-l pronounciation with your tongue staying behind top teeth.

• TY – Pronounce this as you would the “t” in “twig”. ( It’s the tw without the ig.)

• SILIO – Just say “silly – ah”.

• GO – • GO – Like a baby saying Gaga. But it’s more like goh-goh

• GOCH – Gock.

Pneumono-ultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.
• PNEUMO— NEW Mow (like in a first grass cut)

• NOULTRA– No UL tra

• MICROSCOPIC—My crow SCOP ick

• SILICO— SILLY coe

• VOLCANO – Volcano

• CONIOSIS– Coney OH sis

Now that you have THAT all straight, you might wonder how the Llanfair village got its name. Translated, it means: “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave”. Llanfair means Church of Mary… and it being near a rapid whirlpool probably has made for some exciting baptisms. And, at the end of the word the Ogo coch means Red Cave. And, who was St. Tysilio? I don’t have the foggiest idea!

Ministry Weekend at St. Edward

Let’s talk about mutual service in The Lord. Since I had a wedding this past week, may I start the discussion with how a couple does it?

St. John the Paul the Great wrote and spoke many wise words on marriage as a godly covenant of service. It can be summed up by him that the secret of fruitful marriages is “mutual self-giving.”. That’s frequently the advice I repeat in my wedding homilies

This recent wedding on Friday featured a Gospel Bible verse from John 15. It was chosen to be a verse that sums up service, in application to this mutual service and work of love that makes a marriage. Jesus said: “This is my new commandment: love one another as I love you… No greater love, than that when one lays down their life for a friend. And, you are My friends [and I lay down My life for you].”

I told the couple, that this new commandment of Jesus is about the changed and better possibilities of loving others with the love of the Lord paired with you. God in Christ has put His love in the hearts of His believers, so it enhances all things we may do, and it makes great love possible. Jesus says that this same love inspired Him to lay down His life for us, for saving us. He says He did it because He is our friend.

Therefore, in the vocation of marriage, a couple can love one another in the inspiration of Jesus in their lives. This love can help them into a deep, abiding friendship, and into one in which they will lay down their lives in love for thw needs if their spouse and family.

This kind of service in marriage in the homes goes on naturally (or should I say, supernaturally?) To bless the Church and out to the community.

(Note: On our parish web site, listen to our song “Lay It Down” by Chris Tomlin.)

Parish ministry, likewise, is about being a good spouse to God, and in being friends to Jesus and to the Father. It inspires us into the new realm of service, the new commandment or Way of the Lord. As Jesus loves us, then we can let it move our hearts to love others. We see the parish neighbor in a new light, as a covenant partner in the Bride role, mutually-giving with Christ Jesus the BrideGroom.

So, step one as the Bride/Church: We need to let Jesus’ love get through to our hearts. We need to then love Him back.

Next, we do need to look how we are of service in Jesus’ Name. Outside of the parish, the possibilities of service are many, but I want to remind you that (along with the loving of your own kin), you are called to be a loving member of this parish body in some way.

Now and then, like in this weekend, we present St. Edward’s members with opportunities to volunteer and serve into ministries here: such as lector, Eucharistic minister, usher, teacher in rel. ed. or RCIA, or to be a helper in parish socials, like for our Fun Day, whuch comes up soon at October’s first Sunday.

Hearing our Gospel of today, we note how Jesus’ service of love was always generously extended. His critics reveal that He not only reached out to rogues and ragamuffins, but even dropped by to these ‘sinners’ homes. Jesus comments that it is the role of The Shepherd to seek and find the lost sheep. He adds that the woman finding coins (hence, the Church, finding people for His kingdom) brings Heaven much delight, too.

Lay ministry helps with God’s collection of His treasures. Angels ARE glad to see us serving God, says the parable, since it is their eternal delight to be doing so. We have lay ministers in our parish doing all sorts of things here, serving God as lectors, singers, people caring for the parish vessels, linens and holy water and such, people hosting donut Sunday for some fellowship building. Plus we have volunteers gardening, counting, giving computer counsel, doing food delivery, making home and elderly care visitations, teaching the youth, leading children’s church on Sundays, distributing Communion, ushering, and doing justice projects, meeting the needy, and more … there are boys and girls in altar serving, youth helping in Religious Ed. programs and retreats… and there also are people in prayer ministry, weekday/night Mass prayer, helpers at our Catholic school, helpers to pregnancy aid clinics and related outreach, cooks and booth helpers at our Fun Day, K of C activities, Parish council officers and others… That is some of our lay ministry. We have some people involved on their own in service or philanthropic exercises, to happy report.

As we look to fill lay ministries, we note how we have service outreaches that have gone defunct, like our high school youth group ministry–which now is become an all-volunteer effort and reclamation project… OR we have Pro Life lay ministry efforts like organizing our participation in the March For Life, which needs a fresh start… OR there are need for a new persons to lead a Teen Scholarship program OR provide new assistance in marriage prep help to the parish and pastor.

Some lay ministries we have advertised about in the bulletin or from the pulpit. Others are promoted word of mouth or person-to-person.

How does today’s Psalm 51 give us advise on service? In many ways. First, it is a prayer of realization by King David that he had become far too selfish as king, but needed to return to be a king with a servant heart to God and others. After all, he was anointed to be God’s servant–he needed to again be what God had made him to be.

I will speak a bit about a contrite spirit now.

Secondly, David learned through brokenness that his off-desires needed to be reigned in. He writes about becoming anew in faith. “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” Psalm 51 testifies of his turn-around to love others again, as a priority of life. Does that lesson speak to us today?

Contrite is a word of acknowledgement that leads to the action of a humbled heart and mind. From “contrere” it means to have come to terms that I have rubbed and bruised someone the wrong way. I’ve hurt someone. Sometimes I think a good act of contrition would be to realize, for some, that their inaction in a parish may have hurt the parish. Parishes need involvement from people, as people are able. Parishes suffer when service is not in the center of her member’s life. Parish life is not first in being served, but in serving.

Contrarily, many hands make light work. It also makes for more dynamic life when people serve as a whole, as a community– rather than act independently.

Do you ever wish the parish could be better? Do you have this longing, paired with the wonder of what you will be willing to contribute? Do you have an idea of what God wants of you for parish service, for liturgical worship and participation? Numbers of people have already asked this question of themselves, and answered it. Yet, we put it out there again.

Listen to a happy man in church ministry. It is St. Paul, as he writes letters back to a church and to a service partner in Corinth. He writes in today’s 2nd reading in wonder that God used him in such a dynamic way in the Church. He says: “I am grateful to Him Who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus, for service.” That is from 1st Timothy.

How would we pray and learn from Paul? By saying: I AM THANKFUL THAT GOD WOULD WORK IN MY LIFE, TOO, TO DELIVER ME FROM SERVING ONLY/MOSTLY THE WORLD OR MYSELF—AND LOOKING RATHER TO SERVICE TO THE GLORY OF GOD. MY SERVICE FOR GOD IS ALL ABOUT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE, FOR ALL GOD HAS DONE FOR ME.

It in Lay Ministry Sunday, and we have persons to come to the pulpit today to talk about the lay ministries they are in…. Thank you. IMAG0047