Fundraiser for Typhoon Victims

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Our Commingos Choir group put together a program of prayer and song and pictures of the hurting in the Philippines. It was a time to gather in charity and to contribute to the needs that Catholic Relief Services has for funding their efforts to care for the victims of the recent Typhoon and its havoc.

We have collected a couple of thousand dollars so far for this relief effort.

Pope Francis Shows Much Human Warmth

On this 2013 Christ the King Sunday, the Gospel is taken from Luke, which features Christ Crucified as the image of the King of Love, the King of Hearts. Matthew and Mark show a different portrayal of Christ as King, in those other two years of our three-year cycle of Gospels, used for this closing Sunday of the Church Year.

Luke shows us the deep care and human involvement of Christ the King. Jesus the Lord even sheds His blood for us. The Blood Divine is meant to heal and transform the sinner to be a member of the Reign of God, in promise to come.
Luke just shows how caring this Savior Jesus really is.
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Our pope has been seen caring deeply for individual persons. In media photos this past week, Pope Francis was shown as embracing a man with most of his face missing, embracing a sick youth, and welcoming some curious child to come closer to him at a liturgy.

While popes often are trying to minister to large crowds and many pilgrims (amidst their demanding ecclesial schedule)–it can be difficult to minister much in a person-to-person way to strangers. Yet Pope Francis is managing to do it. He shows great human warmth and concern for the individuals out in his papal audiences and in the liturgies he serves and in the places he visits.

Luke shows our Savior being this way. It is nice that the current Vicar of Christ is showing much of the same.
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Veteran’s Brunch at the K of C

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On the Sunday of the holiday weekend, the K of C John Neumann Assembly in Bowie (4th Degree of the Knights of Columbus) had a patriotic themed lunch and program to honor Veterans. It is an annual affair.
I am the Friar to the Assembly. Numbers of parish men are in it.

Here above is a photo of the main speaker at the Event. He is Colonel Douglas Dillard, US Army Retired. He told us of his involvement with parachute Infantry Battalions and Airborne Corps, which action in World War II and Korea and Vietnam. He is highly decorated. He told us stories of service, showed some film reels, and spoke of his present work with Veterans. It was all very good.

CWA at our church

The Catholic Women’s Association has a parish chapter at St. Edward’s and it is mostly comprised of Catholic women who have a background with the group tying back to Cameroon or Nigeria.

They meet in the church for two Sunday afternoons a month (2nd/4th @ 1 pm). They pray a Rosary, do a Bible study lesson, sing, share a lunch, make intercessions, and plan service projects to the parish.
Last meeting they completed their study of Matthew’s Gospel. Here are photos below of persons in the Bible Study. We began the gospel some months ago, and have read, studied and discussed the whole Good News according to Matthew! We also have read other related Scriptures.
I am the Bible Study leader and the chaplain to the group.

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The Young at our Church

Girls and Boys in the Scouting Program meet in our church during the week. This past week, a number of them helped make some fun thanksgiving snack-baskets for persons to receive for a holiday surprise (cheese/crackers/mac’n’cheese/beans/chili/etc.).

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Members of the parish Confirmation Class for 2014 took a pilgrimage to the Basilica in Washington D.C. On Veteran’s Day they went on a tour designed by myself and pilgrim trip planned by Mrs. Curtis (CRE) which included a lot of looking around at religious art and learning its meaning/significance in the National Shrine to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
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I Love a Collect at Mass, Part Two

The “Collect,” the official opening prayer of a Catholic Mass, is
a wonderful experience for the Church to start its worship time and sit with God in His Word and to sup with God in His Eucharistic and Living Christ.

It is one of three official times in the Mass when we are called to prayer by the priest, as he acknowledges the whole body of believers in his prayerful words, and invites the communal response from everyone. The Collect follows the opening Sign of the Cross, greeting, and penitential rite (Lord, Have Mercy) and the Gloria praise prayer (when done on Sundays). The priest, standing at the presider’s chair, invites all to approvingly, prayerfully, and vocally agree with the led prayer, with an “Amen.”

It all really is a shared agreement for participation with the Lord in the Sacred Liturgy.
We have been invited to meet the Lord in the Mass; we speak in faith and favor to the Lord’s kindness of seeking deeper communion with us.

The Collect is a prayer of priest and people joined in unison.
It is about the whole Church praying as one, and as being led by Jesus as its Priest. There is a focus to the prayer leader (priest) who is gathering people is the sign-value (Sacrament) of Christ being present with us as the Living Head of the Worship. Jesus is the Priest at Mass.

You really can’t understand the reason for a Collect if you don’t know Christ as truly Present in a liturgy.
Nor might you not “get it” as to why a priest speaks for the assembly, her words, and then calls for an affirmation and agreement in it, with her “Amen.” Not if you didn’t understand Christ as truly Present in a liturgy.

Jesus is the One really speaking that Opening Prayer (Collect); all of us are those to whom He is addressing, and inviting a favorable response to it (Amen!). That is, if you’d believe that He comes into the parish church and leads the Mass, using the Catholic priest to give us a representative sign of Him being there.

Jesus also is the One Who has chosen that representative for His Presence, a human vessel for His service–in that Catholic priest.
Jesus is The priest ordainer. He uses them for Sacrament revelation to be living and present among His Church. He also so uses the Bread and Wine as Sacrament revelation to be living and present among us. He will also use the Sacred Scriptures to reach us in His Living Presence.

So, we want to get underway in the Sacred Liturgy. We have a “Collect.”

(Interestingly, just to note it here: Jesus is Priest, Victim and Sacrifice–All in One in the Mass. As Priest, He appeals to His Father for us. In the Mass, we pray with Jesus to the Father. Notice all the times we pray to the Father in our words at Mass. As Priest He will stand with us and by us. Jesus will mediate His life as Peace Offering from humankind to the Divine, in His Victimhood. Jesus is Sacrifice as the Lamb of God for His people.)

Priest. Victim. Sacrifice. Truly Present to us at Mass.

Christ is with His Church in a Mass. He is acknowledged as The Sacrament Encounter of a Living Saviour Jesus. The Catholic priest (or bishop) speaks the prayer for our awaited response, yet we pray as if Jesus Really is leading the worship, using his chosen priest-servant as His embodied witness of His actually being there.

It is another reason why I, the priest, then so love the Collect prayer. It is Jesus starting the Mass, using my lips and words (from a Church-approved text of His One, Holy, Catholic, Church), as to gather a people to Himself, as Shepherd to His sheep. When the congregation says “Amen” to the prayer, they are answering Jesus’ Collecting Call.
He loves to hear His people say “Amen” to Him.

I ponder the prayers in the letter of St. Paul to the church at Corinth of which he had spent the most time with… and he is hoping for God’s faithful to pray a “yes” in their dialogue with God through his apostolic ministry. The 2nd Letter to the Corinthians begins with one of the loftiest prayers of blessing contained in the New Testament. It reads: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”

One ought to want to reply a hearty “Amen!” to it. “Yes–Blessed Be this Wondrous God of ours!” Paul, I echo your words. Amen.

Here is a Collect for Holy Trinity Sunday.

“God our Father, who, by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification, made known to the human race your wondrous mystery; grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

We want to reply a hearty “Amen!” to it.

Let’s examine what the prayer said for us.

God the Father is addressed. We prayerfully acknowledge Him as the Initiator in sending both the Son and Holy Spirit to us to experience. We note the benevolence of God’s love in doing this for us. He gives us two-fold in blessing. He gives into the world the Word of Truth. He gives right behind that Gift the Spirit of sanctification. He makes these members of His Godhead known and revealed to us. He works in Mystery to a human understanding and reception, so that we could believe and even profess Who and What is True. It reminds us that as disciples we are to subordinate our will to God just as Christ did. We are to respond to all that is true, or better said, to all Who is True. God is All True. Real. Manifest to us to enter, in mystery, a life unto eternal glory, with access to adore the Majestic One. All made available in Jesus the Lord.

Do we desire this offer??!! We do. We could shout our Yes, our Amen—it is so good!!
Yes, we believe our Christian Faith to be “the true faith.” Its Lord and Founder IS THE TRUTH!
We profess our trust in Him and His Way.
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In this next part of surveying The Collect Prayer, I quote a Lutheran pastor’s appreciation of this approach to God in liturgy.

He says: “The Collect is somewhat poetic and reverent in nature. It is not written/spoken in a free, extemporaneous style. Yet, we should never fall into the mistaken notion that written prayers are not spiritual. On the contrary, a written prayer is a well-thought- out reflection of the God of order.”
” It has been said of the Collect, Their humility of spirit is balanced by certainty of faith, and their brevity of form by breadth of thought. (L. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy). So, both written and extemporaneous prayers have a place among God’s people as long as the prayer is truly spiritual in the thought it conveys and in the heart of faith that prays it.

The Lutheran pastor further explains the ‘workings’ of a Collect:

“The Collect will often follow this five part pattern.

1. God is addressed. Typically it is to the Father, but prayers addressed to the Son and Holy Spirit are also used when it is appropriate (e.g. “Almighty God, merciful Father”)
2. The basis of the prayer is given (e.g. “since you have awakened from death the Shepherd of your sheep”)
3. The request is given (e.g. “grant us your Spirit that we may know the voice of our Shepherd”)
4. The purpose or benefit of the prayer is stated (e.g. “that sin and death may never pluck us out of your hand”)
5. The ending comes, which is a doxology and serves to clarify once again that we are praying to the one and only Triune God and via the Savior/Mediator/Lord of the Body (e.g. “through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”)
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Thanks for the survey, pastor.

Now, when you come to pray next Sunday, pay a little more attention to the Collect prayer.

And, use the printed copy of it in your bulletin, to reflect more deeply, later, on what we were praying to God.

I Love a Collect at Mass

You might have thought a priest would say “I love the collection at Mass.” 🙂

But I said “I love a Collect.”

What is a “Collect?” The Collect is the Opening Prayer of Mass, in which the priest prays a prayer on behalf of all the Church, and the assembly answers “Amen” to it. There is a different collect for every Sunday and any special feast or saint day of the Church Year. Many new ones were written for the Roman Missal that was put out a couple of years ago (the English one). Most of them are quite beautiful. I will give an example below, in this blog, by including this Sunday’s Collect for Christ the King Sunday. (In our parish bulletin, too, I most often print the “Collect” prayer for week. You can see each bulletin at our st. edward’s bowie website).

Presider: Let us pray…
Or: Let us pray that the reign of Christ may live in our hearts and come to our world… (pause)

Presider: Almighty and eternal God,
you have made of one blood all the nations of the earth
and will that they live together
in peace and harmony;
so order the course of this world
that all peoples may be brought together
under Christ’s most gentle rule;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever… All People: Amen.

The Collect is a prayer written for the worldwide Church. The prayer frequently focuses on the Scripture content of the Mass or of the saint or feast themes of the day.
All the Special Masses of the Church (like Weddings, Funerals, Votive Masses) also have their own particular Collect/Opening Prayer. There are some very beautiful Collects for these occasions.

Yet, Sunday Mass is mostly your expereince when you hear “The Collect” led by the presiding priest/bishop, and it leads to your assenting response. When you pray “Amen” to the Collect, you are giving agreement, that, “yes, this is the whole Church’s prayer.” This “Amen” is a quite important answer by you. The priest expects all to answer into the end of the prayer as it is “our” prayer to collect us together, under God, for a liturgy.

It is interesting that in all the other 200 or so parishes in Maryland, as well as all around the English speaking world, the same “Collect” prayer is prayed with people giving their same “Amen” to it. It is a prayer of unity each Sunday and holy day/feast. God collects this one united prayer of His people as our speaking as one to Him.
So, it not only collects us together, but it connects and collects us into the Lord God, Who is THE Celebrant of the Mass. Jesus is the Lord of the prayer of the Church. He is “Head of the Body, the Church (Col. 1:27).”

We name these Collects as “proper” prayers, in that each is written proper to an occasion of the Church. There are 34 Ordinary Time Sunday Collects for the regular Sundays of a Church Year; set with another 18 others for the Sundays of Advent & Christmas time and Lent & Easter time. Christmas Day and Vigil Masses have their special Collects; there are even different ones used for what time of day it is. For example, The Christmas Dawn Mass has its own Collect, here it is below:

Presider: “Almighty God and Father of light,
a child is born to us an a Son is given to us.
Your eternal Word leaped down from heaven
in the silent watches of the night,
and now your Church is filled with wonder
at the nearness of her God.
Open our hearts to receive His life
and increase our vision with the rising of dawn,
that our lives may be filled with His glory and His peace,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.”

Isn’t that a good Opening Prayer for early Christmas Day Mass? Could you pray an “Amen” to it? I hope so. 🙂

The example of the two printed Collects above shows you why I can say: ” I love a Collect at Mass.” They are a great way to be led together into the Holy Mass. After they are prayed, we sit down, in finish of the Opening Rites, and proceed to break open the Liturgy of the Word (which its 4 Scriptures and acclamation).

The Collect aids in the unity of thought in the service.

It also seems to say, inbetween-the-lines: Are we all ready to receive the Word and Sacrament, Who is Jesus Christ?”

Our Amen says: We are.

The Collect is particular to the kind of worship that we serve to God as Catholics. There is a great strength of a Collect in a liturgical worship, I would say, over other types of gathering prayers in other types of services. The Collect is a “we” prayer. It doen’t focus inward on the individual, but to the body of faith. The Collect is deeper than an emotional appeal or aroused feeling with words, in comparing it to some non-Catholic church experiences I have had. The Collect is more of a timeless prayer, than one of contemporary relevance, too. I remember going to a non-denominational church a couple of decades ago where everybody kept praying “Lord, I just wanna…” or “Lord, we just wanna…”. It was a prayer that sounded very close to words then from a Madonna song. (*Girls just wanna have fun). 🙂

I thought the manner of prayer was too much in relevancy and a needs-oriented informality with God. He deserved a lot better!
The Collect is a prayer with some dignity and reverence to it from the Church, not to be mistaken for One Direction or Miley Cyrus lyrics, we hope. By the way, Catholics are not the only ones who favor having a reverent and unifying Collect to begin our worship time; Lutheran and Episcopalian/Anglican churches use them, too.

In Part Two of these Thoughts “I Love a Collect” I will share some more of the benefits of a “Collect” prayer. I will quote a Lutheran pastor to his similar viewpoint that such a prayer approach in a liturgy is important. Join me for Part Two…

Typhoon Haiyan lays destruction in the Philippines

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The Typhoon that hit the Philippines was one to cause major destruction.

Through related stories of our parishioners, who worship with us but who have come here from a Catholic upbringing in the Philippines, they say that the devastation is vast in their native land, and affecting many people they know there. At least ten per cent of the population there is affected in some suffering.
The nation there is much poorer than ours, and recovery efforts will be difficult.

As three responses, we will have a baked goods sale on the Nov. 23/24 weekend at the parish. You may bring a donated food item by, or you may purchase one at the church after Masses. It is a quick effort suggested by one of our parish staff, so it will be simple and an opening effort to show care and solidarity.
Secondly, we have been directing donors of money offerings to give it to a most effective and trustworthy operation to assist in the Philippines, in the Catholic Relief Services there. Go to crs.org for info. If you write a check to place in our collection, then please make it to St. Edward’s, and we will join it to all the other offerings and send one check to CRS.
Thirdly, there will be an hour of prayer at 5 to 6 p.m. in the church on Sunday, Nov. 24th, hosted by one of our music groups in the parish, compromised of Filipino/Americans.
Fr. Barry

Final Look: Doctors of the Church

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I took us for a Year of Faith study of the Church Doctors. It was our St. Edward parish expression (and pastor’s input) of a walk of faith with some of the greatest Catholics of faith in history.
We took a look at each of the 35 Doctors had to offer to the Church and to posterity. Each of the 35 Saints had made a vital and valued contribution to the Church’s understanding of Our Lord and how He desires for our progress in The Faith. Week per week, we examined those contributions and models of faith.

Faith leads us onward in our relationship with God and to His people in the Body of Christ.

Two resources I used was “The 33* Doctors of the Church” by Fr. Chris Rengers (*written prior to the update of St. Hildegard and St. John of the Cross to the listing) and the papal collection of Wednesday audiences on the subject of The Church Doctors (which can be seen online).

One of the 35 Church Doctors has a slogan attached to his life; it might sum up what all of the people of God could live by. St. Anselm described his spiritual journey as “faith seeking understanding.”

He talked about the need for growth in our spiritual side, just as the body grows from food. Growth is very important to the Christian and to the Church. “Every soul requires its suitable food,” said he, and adding some examples, he mentioned “growth in kindness, tenderness of service, mercy, cheeful encouragement, and loving forbearance (where there had not been strong before).”

Hopefully, after our past year in the Church, we have grown some in faith.
The Church Year ends on the 34th Saturday of the Year, November 30th, the Feast of St. Andrew. The 1st Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1st and its Saturday eve vigil, starts the new Church Year.

Fr. Barry

Lesson in a Bermuda flower

The Flora of Bermuda are all gorgeous.

I took a liking to a thin-red, popsicle-looking, drooping-over- backwards, bright red stem flower called the Acalypha Hispida.

Acalypha (genus) Hispida (species) of the Euphorbiaceae family.
It is better known as The Chennile Plant or “The Red Hot Cattail.” Here’s a photo of it. ‘See it?

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Yes, it could look like a cat tail, in hot red.
But I prefer popsicles to cats!
(The “Red Popsicle Plant”, hmmm, I guess that name probably doesn’t work.)

This rich, beautiful and flowery shrub can grow up to 10 feet long. It grows in bunches. Thus, it looks like a mini fireworks show, with the red colors tailing down, after peaking. The photo I attach is taken in the town of St. Georges, off of someone’s back yard flora.

It flowers repeatedly. (It likes to keep putting on a show.)

God made this “Cattail” flower.
That’s what I was thinking when I was looking it over.
It was truly lovely to behold.
God made this flower.
Good job, God!

But this is a “particular” flower. It has its “difficult side.” Though it looks like a popsicle, once had better not taste it, for it is mildly poisonous! Plus, if it is touched by humans, it causes our skin to go itchy, sweaty and red. Not good!
So, one better leave the Cattail alone. Look, but don’t touch.

The Cattails were growing on this lawn plant along a pathway in St. George’s, Bermuda. The owners, knowing the temptation for tourists to touch the red flower, or even to cut it for themselves, had posted a sign. It read: “Look, but don’t touch.”

(And I can understand that the owners knew how many tourists were going by their lane, and they had hoped their Cattails could just remain only to be seen, not touched, lest passersby go take them for free. And, if tempted passersby would ignore their sign, then the ensuing rash would be their good lesson to have obeyed the signs.)

The Cattails were there to be admired, but that’s all. Leave them be in their beauty.

Now, the following comparison might sound a little stretched, but I was reminded (from the flower) of a woman in a parish I once served. I had first met her when she was proposed to for marriage by some man. She came in to ask: Now what do we do?
She was a striking, well-dressed, well-poised, cosmetically- polished young woman. She was quite beautiful in appearance.

I said to her and the fiance’: Let see how ready you both are for Holy Matrimony.

In the engagement program, our marriage helpers team said that they liked the couple a lot, but thought their relationship seemed very surfacey. The PreMarital Inventory tool I used to assess their compatibility and viewpoints also concurred with the advisor couples opinion. So, then, in marriage prep with them, I discovered in our counsel that they did indeed have those issues.

This beautiful, engaged woman had lived much of a “look-but-don’t-touch” life up until then. Her physical charm had made it hard for her any close sense of touch or social life with others, and she had chosen cautious and shallow relationships, so to avoid much offering of herself with others. She had put on an outward show of appearance that hid an insecure, surface-only relational way.
She said that this learned behavior was due much to being such a strikingly pretty woman and girl through her life. She had been “on display” too much in her life. Now, finally, she had a serious boyfriend who shared her Faith and convictions, and with whom she could trust and open up with.
The couple delayed setting their wedding date until the woman felt she had matured past her safe and distant and surfacey style, into a personal and open manner with her husband and other close persons. It was wonderful to see happen. She was revealing her true self to her future husband, and there was much beauty inside of her (and not just on the outside).

So, in some way, she had transformed away from a “look but don’t touch” Cattails kind of flower… to a woman who married the man and has been about a decade and a half in married love with him.
So, while looking at this flower (and I really don’t know why I thought of her all of a sudden by it), I remembered her journey(from her pre-marital mode to her change into full maturity into marriage).
How could I get all that from a glance at a Bermudan flower?!

So I wrote this poem below, remembering her BEFORE life, when it was look-don’t-touch, see but don’t know me life.

I said a prayer for her and her husband today, for enduring love in the Lord, in Whose Name they were wed.

But now the poem…

Cattail Poem

Lazily in the sweet winds I sway,
I am like a fashion model,
on a break, who never needs to work hard to shine.

I wear my lipstick
but don’t touch me,
I must smudge and scar all who do.

I borrow hot rod color from the sun,
I do glow, but I am untouchable!
Let me just look fine just standing here.
For I love to be this way.
This sway.
This s-w-a-y. This s—-w—–aaa—yyyyyyy.

Ah, thanks for the change. Lord, I needed the love.

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That’s my poem and my thoughts today.