Off another Blogger’s Site: The Iraq Religious Cleansing Crisis

It would be good for me to copy this homily from a Deacon of The Church who had important words to say about Iraq’s Catholics.

Homily for July 27, 2014: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 26, 2014 by Deacon Greg Kandra

If you visited Facebook Friday afternoon, you would have seen on a sidebar a list of some of the stories that were trending around the world – what people were reading, sharing, talking about. High on the list was the new cast for “Game of Thrones,” Ben Affleck as Batman, a documentary about Nicholas Cage and the suspension of Ray Rice from the N.F.L after he was indicted on charges of assaulting his fiancée.

You would have to look very hard to find any discussion at all about what I would say is the most important, most harrowing story of the week—quite possibly, the most historically significant story of this year.

That is: the obliteration of Christianity from Iraq.

The world is only now waking up to a horror that is unfolding before our eyes. It wasn’t until Thursday that the New York Times editorial page finally weighed in and condemned what is happening there. Other media coverage has been scant. Our government has been largely silent.

But attention must be paid. The gospel we just heard is about a pearl of great price – the kingdom of God. As I speak, some of our brothers and sisters seeking that pearl are paying the ultimate price. They are paying for it with their lives.

In the city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, the church bells have fallen silent. For the first time in 1600 years, there are no Christian church services, no Masses, no liturgies. Crosses have been ripped from churches. The cathedral has been turned in to a mosque. A monastery has been raided, looted, overtaken; the monks have been expelled, taking only the clothes on their backs. In a video that is, frankly, incredible, the ancient tomb of the prophet Jonah—one of the holiest sites in the region—was bombed and destroyed.

Men, women and children are literally running for their lives, fleeing to safer places to the north. In some towns, ISIS – the Islamist extremist group now dominating the country—has cut off water supplies and electricity. They have confiscated medicine. If they catch people trying to flee, they take everything they have – passports, medicine, wedding rings. The edict has gone forth: convert to Islam, or pay an outrageous tax that no one can afford. If you do not pay, you will be killed. It’s not an idle threat. Some people are being crucified.

And it is happening for one reason only: because they are Christian.

Seventy years ago, my father fought a war to stop genocide on the continent where his parents, my grandparents, were born. Now it has returned, in another place, targeting another group, going by another name. One Catholic archbishop has called it, bluntly, “religious cleansing.”

This time, the ones being cleansed are us. Christians. The first Christians were baptized in Iraq nearly 20 centuries ago. Some speak the same language that Christ himself spoke, Aramaic. Now they are being crushed under the heel of evil.

Last week, during his general audience, Pope Francis led a moment of silence to pray for the people of Iraq. The Chaldean Catholic patriarch Louis Sako wrote an open letter, saying that for the first time in his history, Mosul is completely empty of Christians, and warning that the country is facing — quote – “a humanitarian, cultural and historical disaster.”

The roots of this evil run deep. And the roots have spread like a cancer.

Some are trying to stop it—including Muslims. Last week, professor Mahmoud Al Asali at the University of Mosul spoke out against the reign of terror being inflicted on Christians, saying he believes it goes against the Muslim commandments.

For his courage, he was killed.

And yet, even now, other voices are continuing to be raised.

Friday, Jordan’s Prince El Hassan – himself a descendent of Muhammad – called for an end to violence in the name of religion in a statement that was signed by several religious and secular leaders. He wrote: “We cannot stand idly by and watch as the lives of the most vulnerable, our women and our children, are destroyed in the name of religion.”

Last Sunday, in Baghdad, both Muslims and Christians gathered in the St. George Chaldean Church to pray together—and to weep together. Some Muslims carried signs: “I’m Iraqi, I’m Christian” – a powerful show of solidarity.

In Mosul, members of ISIS have been marking Christian homes with the Arabic letter “N,” which stands for “Nazarene” – meaning Christian. It is reminiscent of the Star of David that marked Jews in Nazi Germany. But now, that “N” has swept social media and is even being seen on tee shirts. The message: no matter what our belief or our nationality, we are all Christians. We are all Iraqis. We stand together in defiance of genocide, of persecution, of hate.

Last week, my friend the writer and blogger Elizabeth Scalia wrote about this tragedy and urged action. Write to your leaders, she said, senators, members of Congress, bishops. Make them know that this matters, and why. She suggested donating to aid agencies like the one where I work, Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which supports people on the ground, caring for this growing tide of refugees, those Iraqis running for their lives.

Then, she said, pray. Fast. And pray some more.

She wrote: “Invoke the great cloud of witnesses and ask them for their prayers before the Throne, including: Saint Francis—himself, friend of the Sultan. We are in possession of the most subversive weapon of ambush,” she wrote, “which is prayer. “

If there is any consolation here, it is this: Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are not facing this alone.

Neither are we.

Many in the media may be ignoring this onslaught. We cannot.

We hold in our hearts our own pearl of great price: a pearl of faith and hope. Pearls, of course, are not created in a vacuum. They are born from friction, hardship. Out of that comes a miracle: a jewel of profound simplicity and humbling beauty, giving off radiance and light.

Let us offer that pearl in prayer to our Lady, the Queen of Martyrs, who knows only too well the tears that are being shed, the desperation that is being felt. She has known their terror. She has spoken their language. She has also been a refugee, fleeing from tyrants.

At this moment of despair, we turn to her with love and with trust. We pray for her intercession. We pray for her solace.

We pray, above all, for peace for all our suffering brothers and sisters in Iraq, and around the world.

Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

To read his blog, go to:

http://admin.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2014

Homily July 27th 17th Sunday “A”

Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Longer blog version (and not the final draft, but it will basically get the message through)

The Prize does not come by compromise; it comes by surrender to God’s reign and conformity to Christ Jesus.

Today’s Gospel asks us to consider just how much we want to meet God, and to do so on God’s terms and contact. God wants to make a partnership into us. He wants to be the Lord Who dwells in us, in our soul and mind and body. He wants us to be His willing soul partner, and one who thinks and learns and knows with the mind of Christ, and to be the one that glorifies their Maker with their body—sharing life’s experience in a bodily way, all in heightening one’s soul’s life with God. God has a plan for all of us to re-connect with Him, via love and trust and obedience to the Divine Will. Thus, we will have some need for great adjustment to God, for change, for conforming to be in sync with the Spirit of Jesus. This will take what is called conversion. “

The kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Salvation is the discovery; selfishness is what we need to sell away to make room for God to possess us.

In today’s gospel of Matthew 13, Jesus speaks of how special His offer is from Heaven. In two quick parables, Jesus calls our finding Him will be like a treasure discovered in a field or a pearl of great price found. Jesus is calling Himself the treasure. I was wondering… maybe Jesus said this while at an out of the way field or off the beaten way on a shoreline place. So He looks at His disciples and says: “Do you see the treasure and the riches of the soul right here?” At first they are looking down at the dirt and ground or shore’s sand for an object, but then they realize how He is speaking about Himself as the Offer of Love from God to receive. We can have relationship with God in Him. He is God’s Gift of Himself.

“The prize” can be ours. These Gospel of Matthew parables remind me of the wonderful verse in Phillipians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus.” Yes: Jesus offers a high prize.

So–Will we live in a way to let go of the world and all its compromise into sin and independent separation from God?

Or will we be selfless and give up the way of the world to conform ourselves to Christ?

Is God our treasure in which all that matters is in being in communion with Him? Or not—(i.e. in any other compromise)?

Sin needs to give way to grace. If we want the prize. In Matthew 13:1-43 (the gospel passages of the last two Sundays) it was a series of parables about our offering receptive ground to His seed of new life. We are to let God find His home, a first place in us. He is to be God in us. We are meant to receive new birth in faith in Him and to be His child, a member of a body of believers being joined back into fellowship with God. This Gospel today in Matthew 13:44-45 says that this offering is huge. It is so big it is divine. It is eternal. It will be life moving.

I was remembering getting a small prize as a child. I looked forward to opening crackerjack boxes for the little thing inside they put with the peanuts and caramel corn. It was such a tiny prize, but it was hiding in there just for me to find and keep. Also, the same ploy was used in marketing cereal. Post cereals such as Sugar Smacks and Sugar Crisp that had little toys hiding inside them—such as badges and little plastic airplanes. Kellogg cereals had even better offers; they had hidden toy treasures such as 3-inch bobble figures of a Winnie the Pooh story character hiding inside the box. I couldn’t wait to open up the box and get it! Yet it was such a little trinket toy. It’s funny thinking about it…

It got me thinking, though, that for God—it is all the opposite of that toy story. God is the Big Prize and we people are the small packages. Somehow, God wants to put the prize into us. We wonder how He can put something so big in a little person like you or me. I thought about it a bit. I think that God becoming a small Holy Communion can be a way that He puts His Great Self into us!

God has a treasure to fill up into us. Our souls can handle it. The soul was designed to share space with God. God wants to move the Treasure of His company into us.
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But there are ways to totally miss out on this offering. How? One can try to dictate terms to God about it, seeking to control this offer, or looking to get something into your life without giving up something that is in the way (your sin). One can try to compromise with God.

That is not the way to seek the prize of the upward call.

We heard a word in today’s Romans 8 reading that IS how we are to seek the prize of Jesus. It is instructed to us in the word “conform.” Conform to what or whom? It is to conform to Jesus, and not to compromise. Let’s proclaim the verse again: “For those he (God) foreknew (of those to be called by God and to God), He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The standard is Jesus. We must be conformed to Jesus to reach our high destiny.

So how would it be a problem for a believer? Here’s how. Some people calling themselves Christians or Jesus believers want to skirt around and avoid anything that is addressing the ongoing sin in their lives. They won’t deal with it, saying things like: ‘Oh—I have been forgiven for that. I became a Christian. All taken care of!’

This is a dodge, an excuse, a run-around.

The fact is that many people have just not squared up with God. They are opting for ways out of this kind of commitment, while still saying that “they follow The Lord.”

Is that so? This Gospel today asks of what one will give up to obtain the treasure or the pearl(i.e. salvation). Many persons who say they are believers may not have really surrendered themselves over to God, as Jesus asks here. Note how the people getting the treasure or the pearl make a significant surrender and change.

See in today’s verses in Scripture that it teaches how there is work to be done in us. In Solomon’s example, in 1st Kings, he admits it to God. While God tells King Solomon that he can asked for anything he wants. Solomon says “I need wisdom– for we have only come so far to go in knowing and loving you, yet, O God, as your Hebrew people.” Solomon is not speaking there in the language of compromise; it is of conformity to God’s will. It is pleasing to God.

Approprite, too, is today’s prayer of Psalm 119 of a person wanting union (or common union, communion) with God. The person prays for conformity to God. He says: “In all your precepts I go forward; every false way I hate. O Lord, I love your commands. Wonderful are your decrees; therefore I observe them. The revelation of your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple.” I don’t hear compromise there; I hear conformity.

Christianity is about our being conformed and converted to becoming one with Christ, to becoming like Him, to become holy. We need God’s assistance to get there. It’s about His will, not ours. God has a plan to save; we cannot save ourselves.

One of the difficulties of Christian Religion over the centuries has been the temptation for humans to expect God to fit only into how we perceive things or want things to be or say they should be. This is a big sin and a deceit that creeps within the Church. It is defined by a big word: It is called “Anthropomorphism.” “Anthropos” —meaning human and “Morphe”—to try to make change of something not human to be human. For instance, people want God’s will to become our will. God should act and think like a human being. We have our own morality and ways for living, not based on Jesus or God, but what we want it to be.

As one person put it: “God began all things and made man in Their own Image; not man is trying to take over and return the favor—to put God in man’s image, including our sin and depravity. Bad idea.

This sin of changing the Christian faith to call immoral things now as a.o.k. and alright and approved for society: it is all a huge deceit on humankind. What you see today with some Christian churches or groups, or among moralists or ethicists or leaders for human conduct—is they actually seem to think they can try to change God and Christianity to be only fitting in to humankind’s convenient and easy human plans. Sin can be negotiated. Compromises can be made.
This is fairly an enterprise to take much of the supernatural aspect of God, out of our moral guide. People are looking to morphe God’s laws to stoop to man’s—all while calling it still Godliness. No can’t do.

You can’t change or morph God out of His Deity. So they try to change what the definition of Christianity is—or of morality. To take the disguise away–in this warped thinking man does not want to give up His sinfulness. Man will only meet God on His own human terms. In that understanding, God cannot be allowed to be God, not in His meeting with us, because our conditions are hardened and closed. Mark 13 and Matthew 13 has given us some illustrations of the futility of that strategy with God. God doesn’t need change; we do. We are the ones who have faulted in the relationship, and quite badly. We are the ones who need to conform to Him.

I was reading a chapter from St. Paul in his 1st letter to the Corinthians. It is about this very topic, which also occurred in the First Church. Paul was upset that some Christians were not conforming to Christ, but rather acting quite worldly. Some people in the Corinth church he pastored were hating and fighting hard versus their brother in the community. There were attacks and lawsuits. It was a mess. It was far from Jesus’ command that we “love one another as He loved us.” St. Paul lays it on the line. He says: “you cannot inherit the kingdom if you are going against your brother believer, if you are acting with such injustice towards them. The unjust do not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul is just getting started. There are other compromises in the Faith going on. They are scandals. Paul says that this means that God must not be of prime importance to these members of the church, that they are not conforming to Christ and keeping Christ as their standard. No, they are acting in compromise with sin again. Paul continues: Do you not know how the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? No, and do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor boy slaves, nor sodomites, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God!”

People today have compromised badly with accepting the things on that list as not immoral or wrong anymore. They say a good person can do them. All is excusable. But it is not so!

Basically, for people who want to be fornicating, ‘adulterating,’ or sodomizing, or in theft and greed and slander and the like—there’s is the sin of wanting to conform to the standard of Christ and His holiness, but making it so God (or religion in His Name) must to conform to our sin. Absolute Truth is off the boards for them.
It is compromise or conformity to Christ. That’s the deal.

In this idea of anthropomorphism, people think and act as if they do not need to conform to God, but God’s ways has to conform to them and the progressive, modern world. This kind of thinking is not the Christian Faith, but a diluted, deceived, lost version of it.

Hear again how God puts it: “For those he (God) foreknew (of those to be called by God and to God), He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” The standard is Jesus. We must be conformed to Jesus to reach our high destiny.

If that seems a high and uneasy calling, then truly you are right. It can only be done by faith—that ability in our souls to commune with God. The Word says: “All things are possible with God.” “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” This is how we conform to Christ. We reach out for His help and in His Spirit. Things done only in the flesh will fail.

Let us not play games with God, and insist that He come down to our dirty level and that He has to change to our ways. Let’s not look for excuses from our sins, let us look for pardon and help to be free of our sins.

Playing games with God and His Truth just doesn’t work. Yet the world is selling it big time today. The world is very foolishly proud of itself. “Pride leads to a fall,” says the Word!

Jesus speaks of how true riches are found in the opposite form of life. If we would sincerely look from our hearts at what the Lord Jesus has offered us, we could see a treasure in what He is offering us, and rather than tell God how we will sin and pass by that treasure—we should give up our sins so as to win the prize of eternal life in His Name. Jesus You are our treasure, you are our pearl of great price. We shall not bargain and deal away our hope. We shall follow You– out of our sinfulness– and into Your Grace.

Ongoing Conversion (Bulletin Supplement: July 20)

“Ongoing Conversion”: A devotional study. “Jesus said: “If you would be perfect, then…”Mt.19:21

I invite you to take a devotional time and reflect on this teaching. It is a bulletin supplement today.

Our Catholic Faith teaches that members of the Body of Christ are given the way of ongoing conversion. As Jesus challenged the man who thought he was ready for eternal life (Mt.19:21), He also has a word to us on how to go forward in faith.

We are called to more surrender to God and its resulting deeper conversion of life: we followers of Him are called to deepen, mature, be strengthened, and to further live out and spread our devotion to Him. As Isaiah 35:3, Exodus 17:3 and Hebrews 12:12 advices us, we are to “strengthen our feeble hands and steady the knees that might give way.” It says that we need firm purpose and we need to follow the level path before us, which is one of healing. (Heb.12:13) We have a walk of faith to complete to its end. It is a journey for healing. It is to reach our Lord and say: Complete the healing we have started together. [Like the words of prayer for Eucharist: "Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb... oh Lord, I am not worthy... but only say the Word, and my shall be healed." I have prayed it a thousand if not ten thousand times, and I keep on coming for healing, until the Day I stand before Him, still oh so humbled!]

All throughout St. Paul’s epistles he also uses this walking theme in his message, that we would “walk worthy of the vocation to where we are called” and “walk not as the unbelievers do” and “walk in love” and “walk as children of light” and to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (from Ephesians and 2 Corinthians) Walking suggests progress, and we must make progress in our Christian life. Ongoing conversion! Walking also demands strength, and God has promised to supply the strength we need to walk with Him. Ongoing conversion! At the end of life’s walk, we will step into the very presence of the Lord. The process is described by Paul as going from justification (Christ saves me) to sanctification (He develops me) and to our becoming heirs and entering Glory (He receives me).

Finally, we will see the Lord and we shall be whole!

Maybe Paul best speaks of the ongoing conversion message of Christ Jesus when he writes in 1st Thessalonians 4:1-11. Did you do that Bible study I put up recently as a blog. I wanted to share it with you. I did it last week. I like the phrases in this chapter of Paul in his very first letter to any church. See the words and phrases there in his message of how we “ought to live to please God,” in “holiness and honor,” in “a call not to impurity but in holiness,” relying on “Who gives the Holy Spirit to you, that we might grow “more and more” to“aspire” and “work.” Paul says there to live pleasing to God, for The Day is coming. Thus– no Christian is meant to be complacent. Even among two dying Catholic persons whom I recently met for Last Rites, they still witnessed to me of their own fine-tuning of their faith and their pleas to God for grace to abound in them, all while asking Him pardon for things not done in their lives or for pardon for any sins they did commit, fully wanting to be in all favor with God in the end. They wanted to finish well.

Weekly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I also receive such good witness of people working to best be a practicing Catholic in their present state. As it says in #1428 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of reason to practice the Sacrament: “Christ’ call for conversion continues to resound…St. Ambrose says there are two principal washing-for-conversion acts in the Church’s Sacraments: there are water and tears: the Water of Baptism and the Tears of Repentance. (This second one is) an un-interrupted task for the Whole Church, who clasping sinners to her bosom… follows constantly the path of penance and renewal….It is the movement of a contrite heart drawn and moved by Grace to respond to the merciful love of God Who loved us first.”

The Word of God expands on this call for growth of faith. Here are a few Bible verses that I researched in a recent devotion time for myself, of a message of what God desires of us in the end. These verses offer us tall orders, asking of us are full cooperation of God through our lives, aiming for holiness of life. Some of the chosen verses speak of us as children of God, and so I figure because we are all still growing up in full maturity in Christ, right?! Review the below! Note: I inserted interpretive highlights in some of the verses.

Luke 1:37-38 (As said by the angel Gabriel to Mary)“For nothing will be impossible with God …Then Mary said: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
*Mary can be our inspiration and hope to trust in the Lord’s plan for us. Faith makes possibility!

Matthew 24:10-14a (Of the end) Then many will fall away…many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this Good News of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world” (–Jesus, at the Mount of Olives)
*It kind of describes things as they are in the world right now, doesn’t it?

PART TWO ONGOING CONVERSION

Take a look at this verse of the New Testament:
Hebrews 11:1, 6, 29. 12:1-2 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him… By faith the people (of the exodus) passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land!… Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (of New Covenant/Exodus signs), let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…Who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Note how this Bible author is reminding believers of the work of faith ahead for them, for their deliverance into the Way of Christ.
Ok, check out a few other ones now:
John 15: 4 “Abide in Me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches…If you (will) keep my commandments, (then) you will (need to) abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. I have said these things to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete(d).”
Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect(ed), therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

I don’t know about you, but I am feeling far from perfect in my practice of faith. And I have been practicing! Yet, I will need to keep being perfected (Mt.5:48).

One area of getting perfected is to stop desiring sins, especially the same ones over and over again. I need to practice the Presence of God. I need to imitate Christ. This takes a lot of ongoing conversion. For I do know about these following words of Jesus. He wants me to stop the desire for sin. He wants holiness to be my aim.
John 5:18 “We know that those who are born of God do not sin.” Wow, tough verse.
1st John 3:9-11,18 “Those who have born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them… The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters. For this is the message that you (believers) have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…Little children, let us love, not (only) in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

Another tought verse to practice. I will definitely need the Holy Spirit to do it!

1st John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He Who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us…”

So I will need confession of sin to help me win the battle.

James 1:14, 18a. 3:13,16,17 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works (that show the practice of faith)?…I by my works will show you my faith.” “Show by your good life that your works are done with (God’s) gentleness born of wisdom…For where there is envy and selfish ambition (–such does not come down from above)..But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and first fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.”
Gal. 1:10 “Am I seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (-St. Paul to the Galatians)

I have much to be born in me and/or to develop in me: God’s gentleness. Wisdom. Living foremost to please God.

Here’s another reminder about Ongoing Conversion as being the call of the Catholic Christian. I like this verse, even if it is so challenging. It moves my spirit to want to comply with God’s call.

2 Cor. 13: 5a,8-9, 11-13 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize Jesus Christ is in you?… We pray to God that you may not do anything wrong…but that you may do what is right…We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak…this is what we pray for: that (each believer) may become perfect….Put things in order, listen to my appeal! Agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss… and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (St. Paul’s words, with St. Timothy, to the church community he had pastured in Corinth)”

So, there it is! A devotion on Ongoing Conversion. Let us pray for the wholehearted full person to emerge in us for God.

Part II Happy Anniversary, Archdiocese of Washington people!

I once worked in the Chancery–Office of Communications at the Pastoral Center of our Archdiocese. It was when I was a seminarian. The job helped me to understand the local Church of Washington: as in–who we were, what we did, why we exist, when we started and where are we today. Part of the job was answering questions that the phone operator forwarded to me from people calling in. Part of it was preparing press releases of info on the Archdiocese of Washington(ADW). Such as: What is the history of your Archdiocese? When did it start? When did Catholicism start in DC/Maryland? So, here is a little of what I remember as the answers… as I suppose the person with that job currently will have to answer on the ADW’s 75th anniversary.

A Short History of the Archdiocese of Washington

Yes, it is the 75th anniversary of our own Archdiocese. We just marked it on this past Tuesday. We mark the time a pope said: “You will be a new Archdiocese.” He decided that on July 22, 1939.

Up to the time right before World War II, we were not an Archdiocese. We were “the Washington part” of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, under the Archbishop of Baltimore and all its bishops back to 1789. Washington was named a new Archdiocese by Pope Pius the 12th on July 22, 1939. So over 300 years of Catholicism had already taken place in the Maryland and District of Columbia regions, all under The Archdiocese of Baltimore, before we got our separate start. Tuesday marks the occasion of the papal decree, when the city of Washington, D.C. would be under new shepherding and be its own local church (“see”) from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. By this decision, while retaining his position as Archbishop of Baltimore, Archbishop Curley was simultaneously now the first Archbishop of Washington, to govern the two archdioceses as a single unit. Because of the elevating stature of the United States in the world in the mid-20th century, and Washington being its nation’s capital, this honor of making Washington a premiere see in the world became a necessity.

Maryland Day is March 25th, 1634; it is the date of the official start of the Colony and the Catholic Church here in this whole mid-Atlantic region. It is the day of a First Mass by Jesuit Missionary Father Andrew White. (His name and ship are on our west sanctuary window in church.) George Calvert, the family head of the new colony, hosted the Mass. A large cross is erected on that St. Clement’s Island today, on the site of that institution of Maryland. (I have a large photo of it in my pastor’s office wall. See photo below.) It will make sense, then, that on March 25th of 1940, the new bishop for Washington, Michael Curley, would pray Mass in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, and mark the moment of Washington becoming a new see (chair and diocese of an apostle). Bishop Curley had been living and serving in Baltimore alone before that. He served as dual shepherd-leader until his death in 1947. At that time, separate archbishops were appointed for Baltimore (Francis Patrick Keough) and Washington (Patrick O’Boyle). It went from being called “The Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington” (1939-47) and became instead (from that time on) as the distinct Archdiocese of Baltimore and the distinct Archdiocese of Washington (under new Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle). The Archdiocese of Washington was made the home to five Maryland counties, D.C., and a suffragan in the Virgin Islands. (A suffragan is a diocese/territory under the authority of the Archbishop of Washington, though served actually by its own bishop. Our former pastor, Fr. Tom Kehoe, actually served as priest there in the Virgin Islands prior to his pastorate here. Also, the present bishop of the Virgin Islands was the guest and presider of our Confirmation Mass here this year.)

The Archdiocese of Baltimore had once comprised a large mid-Atlantic area, but little by little through time it had territorial areas carved away into being their own dioceses. The Wilmington (De) diocese today is 57 parishes, the Arlington diocese today is 68 parishes, and our Washington Archdiocese today is 139 parishes–all now led by our own bishops. Baltimore remains a significant Archdiocese of its own, still with 145 parishes.

In the first century in Maryland, most of the parishes started were by Jesuit priests, from the waterfront ones at St. Mary’s City up to Chapel Point and up to Georgetown and in Washington, with inland ones in Pomfret or in Bowie(called Whitemarsh then) and Forest Glen(Silver Spring) and many other places now within the Archdiocese of Washington. One of the older religious sites in Maryland (within our Archdiocese) is Carmel of Port Tobacco Monastery. It was there in 1790 when Carmelite sisters founded it, bringing four sisters from Europe to begin it. By 1800 there were 14 sisters in it. Today, it still is going on well, with a community of Carmelites of good number there, including a woman from our parish, Carol Penland, who has been a member there for lots of years. In honor to her religious vocation, which made our parish proud (she was its first), she has added to the Catholic life of the Church in our Archdiocese in a significant and key way, for loving Christ and for serving us in prayer and contemplative living, for the good of all, as a Carmelite religious nun. Thusly so, I, your pastor, presented her with the 75th Anniversary Medal and Honor, in the name of the Archbishop. He asked us to name a person or couple of persons to honor for their making the Church a blessing to the lives of others. Carol is an obvious choice of such a recognition, even though she lives humbly and seeks no attention on herself. The medal is simply to say “thank you” to her for responding to Christ’ call in love of His flock, the Church. It is given to the whole community of Carmel of Port Tobacco.

In honor of the 75th anniversary, you may have seen the Catholic Standard article and photo of a thanksgiving Mass which was prayed on St. Clement’s Island just recently. Right near the Cross.
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Part I Happy Anniversary, to all of us in the ADW! Tues. July 22nd

Yes, my fellow Archdiocesan family, our Archdiocese was started 75 years ago on July 22nd. Happy Anniversary.

The Archbishop was interested in his pastors showing some recognition to people who have helped make the Archdiocese what it is today, due to their great service of Christ in it.
I was thinking of that for the past few weeks. The Archbishop gave me an anniversary medallion coin to give to some person of my choosing, in this honor of the servants of the Archdiocese.
I figured which person of St. Edward should receive it. It is Carol Penland, our one person in our parish history who was called and chose to accept to go into the monastic life as a religious nun.

Carol is now a woman in her 50′s and she dons a Carmelite habit and lives the discalced life as Sister Marie Bernardina. We can salute her as someone from here in Bowie and our parish who has made (and keeps making) a difference in the life of the local Church of Washington. She grew up practicing the faith as a girl here; I was talking to one of her CCD teachers just today, in fact, who remembers her fondly. Carol began a serious life of prayer and devotion to God as a young woman, and later discerned a calling to do it for the Church “full time” as a vocation. She professed to the religious life about a couple of decades ago. Sister Maria Bernardina has been a member of the Carmelite Religious Women at Carmel of Port Tobacco Monastery for all her time as a religious. She is likely to live there for her life. She gives a life of contemplation and prayer service to our Lord for the good of the Church. She is a 24/7 prayer warrior. She lives a virginal consecration to our Lord Jesus as a model of love of Christ as Spouse; presenting herself as bride as does the Church have that calling to be the engaged spouse to Our Lord, eventually to come into wedded union with Him to God. (2 Cor. chapter 11; Rev. chapters 3, 19, and 21). Carol/Sister Marie Bernardina is–more precisely–a religious nun. A Catholic nun is a woman who lives a cloistered (enclosed) life. Their ministry and prayer life is centered within and around the monastery for the good of the world. She professes perpetual solemn vows, living according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Saint Therese, the Little Flower, was a nun. Therese is one of her heroes. So is St. Teresa of Avila and St. Teresa of the Andes. Yet her favorite is her names’sake, who was a Polish mystic who lived in the 20th century, and was named a “blessed” by Pope John Paul II. This mystic identified with the suffering and sufferers of the world and interceded deeply in prayer for them. She was a spiritual helper supreme.
So our former parishioner Sister Maria Bernardina (Carol) is living a life of prayer for others. She secretly helps people in need. The needy person may not know of her help, but all that matters is that Christ Jesus knows and answers the deep petitions. His espoused calls to His Sacred Heart.
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As I am thinking of people who have helped the Archdiocese along….

One of my anointings this Summer, and later her Mass of Christian Burial, was to a Catholic woman named Geneva Pinkney. She had lived here in Washington through our whole existence as the “new” Archdiocese of Washington(ADW); she was baptized in a D.C. parish (when it was still the ADW) and raised here in a D.C. church and parish school (which became an ADW parish), and then married in another ADW parish church in SW Washington, then raised her family in two consecutive parishes in Prince George’s County, and she was buried from an ADW parish, where she had been a longtime leader there. In her final years, she was ministered to from our own St. Edward’s parish as we frequented her at Woodward Estates Home (located nearby the Bowie Health Center). Of her life story, she was a woman who lived a lot of Catholic Faith and gave a lot to Christ’ Church out of love for Jesus. She had a long and faithful marriage, and a legacy of love and care for her family, and a record of hard, honest work at her DC job. From pre-World War II times right to the present, she was one of our good members of the Archdiocese. So, as the Archdiocese is saluting certain members around her 139 parishes (she was a long-time member of St. Bernadines-Suitland), I think she is on my own hallelujah list of people who have helped the Church be a witness to the Washington area community.

Homily July 20th Sixteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time “A”

Parable of the weeds among the wheat
Matthew 13:24-43 Homily:
(Second draft–Sunday’s homily was shortened, the blog version I want to be fuller)

Upon reflection upon the parables in Matthew 13 this Sunday and past Sunday, I suppose that our Catholic journey to God is a mixed experience of being around saints and sinners, of being holy but also of being somewhat stubborn and contrary with God ourselves. We live in a world where the tempter and ruiner of lives has been allowed in, and he has done all he can to mess everything up. With the parable Jesus says (of a field with many weeds grown around the crop): “I see an enemy’s hand has done this.” (So true, the enemy has been around!) But we also know that we people have made awful choices and taken actions that have made the world’s field weedy rather than fully fruitful. We are guilty here, too. We can’t just pin it all on the devil. We have let ourselves become duped by lies and deceptions of a selfish, closed heart and mind. (v. 43)

When I review this Parable, I think upon the fact that most of us can see another person’s weeds much easier than our own.
But, let’s start there, and then we can proceed to our own weeds.

We would more easily see the bad, the weeds of life in the field of others, and all the trouble with the world, and of some things that we would know which would be offensive to God from others. It’s easier to dodge our own problems by shifting attention on others problems and faults. God gave us this ability to judge or evaluate others, but this ‘ability’ to see the wrong was not ever meant for some satisfaction of superiority of self or getting jollies on the ridicule of others, nor was it an “out” for shifting or pointing the blame on others. That’s just too easy to do. Notice in this parable and speaking section of His travels (Mt. 13)of to whom Jesus was addressing–that He was upset over the troubling behavior of some Pharisees, scribes, some hostile hometown people, and others among the rich or powerful who did not want to admit to their great sins, their weeds, their waste of life. So they acted to entangle and choke off Jesus’ message and ministry. As I read the gospel, I am given to say: Yeah, you bad ol’ Pharisees, you! Why can’t you get it right? But the plank might be in my own eye, when as part of the Catholic priesthood today, people may think we are a little too bossy (as a group) or maybe too cautious and diplomatic (in our pastoring) or maybe a bit distant and uninvolved with our people (as far as people skills are given): So–the Pharisees had their issues. Maybe Catholic priests have ours today, nearly as bad. I don’t know.

Maybe the laity Catholics have some issues too. As members of Christ’ Body, should they be mostly occupied in pointing out problems but remaining indifferent in changing them out in the field of the Lord? Lots of advice, little action sometimes. Some resort to despair, or give up and walk away–as if their part of the Church they weren’t responsible for. How does that help? Others will remain but like to point fingers in blame, but where’s their passion for serving God and living life for better recognizing of what pleases Him– isn’t that where our energies should be going? God has directed us in some things the Church ought to be doing. The clergy give much of their life work to be in service to the Church the Lord, and whether they are good or not so good at it, they are called by God and responding to Him. Inaction is not their issue. Yet it can be in the laity. It can drive the pastors and pastoral staff crazy. So can selfishness and everybody wanting to do it their own way, and be the chief. Servanthood is out; being served is in.

So these are some of our weeds growing alongside the wheat in the Lord’s field, the Church. We all have some work to be done in us, so that God may have His will be done in us. It is HIS Church, HIS world. We are all HIS creation. So you have a field with wheat and weeds. In the parable, Jesus uses this “sitz im leben” (the “situation in life”) to paint what should be the behavior of people “in the kingdom of God,” that is, as governed by the will of God. You have saints and sinners, you have godly acts and some quite un-godly acts going on together in this world. God sees it like a field with good crops coming over here and with nothing worthwhile coming from other there. But it is all His field.

God sees how a harvest still can come through the Church and her people(!); He will not pull the above-mentioned weeds out and cancel the Salvation Operation (weeds pulling the wheat out). The Lord reminds us in this parable that He has plans that will still work, even with our past resistance to Him, and God can grow something good upon the ground of our lives and even get us a harvest for eternity. There is a Saving Plan of God to deliver us all from evil and disharmony and to save us in the end of all things. We need to focus on that. God has decided that He will work among us, even with all the discord and selfishness and pettiness and laziness going on among His own. We should just do all we can to encourage one another to be trusting souls to God, to bear Christ in our lives, and to let Him deal with our lives right now, and let Him use us.

We know that the many people who will not obey the Lord nor love Him nor open themselves up, but rather just keep going along in the rebellion of the world versus God (in the “I want to be God, I don’t want God to be God” world)– we know that God says that a major judgment awaits such persons. Sin will be dealt with. But we need to keep cooperating with the Lord and be led by His Spirit to things that matter eternally and spiritually and in the application of our living the Kingdom of God example in our human journey. We are to reveal the hope of Heaven. God has called us to be witnesses of it.

It can be a little hard for us to get up and go with God’s plan. We do see the troubles in our own lives. Who are we? We are just sinners right?
Well yes, There are weeds in our lives. Yet Christ says, but look at the wheat growing there, too. We are sinners on the way to becoming saints. This wheat is the good salvation happening in us. This is The Christ happening in us. No wonder that Christ comes as wheat or bread to us. He is saying that holiness is happening to our lives, with a good end of our lives in view.

If we see all the weeds going on around us in others who are fellow Christians or in the ungodly, then the Lord says: If I can live with the mix of saints and sinners, of love and hate, of hope and fear, of goodness in people and awful greediness and deadliness and such— then we all shall live with it. We will need His eyes, His love, His purpose and direction, His wisdom— but we can do it. Rather than just despise the sinners and sin around us, as with disgust, we could learn a thing or two from a Savior who came from a Perfect Heaven and lived among us in a fallen divided and nearly ruined world, and loved us and mixed in with us rather than mocked us or laughed at us or left us in utter oblivion–rather, He became our Way to the Father.

As for sin, God still doesn’t like it. He calls it weeds to be collected and burned. So there will be rooted out all that offends God, but first His Mercy is here so that what and who can be saved–will be saved.

As for what God likes, He likes people who want to pleasing Him in the end and sum of things. From such a life, He will be able to save and treasure much, for they will be things sown for eternity, rather than for temporal vanity.

So perhaps this teaching came after the Lord and His disciples had walked through a field that had many problems. We heard last Sunday in the first part of Matthew 13, the Parable of the Four Soils, that the field was only about 25% ready to yield a crop and harvest. Jesus’ example is one again of nature in this follow-up parable.

Matthew 13’s parable of the wheat and the weeds is rooted in nature and in the behavior of people. The word “weeds” refers to darnel, a poisonous plant often found in wheat fields, as in the time and place of this gospel. As I read this teaching of Jesus, I reckon that there were many people more familiar with farming terms and principles back then in the “original Church,” than compared to our time and Church today. They “got” this farm-growing image rather quickly. Still, we may not have much of farming know how, yet can apply these lessons spiritually to our modern living. Socially we know of “darnel.” We know what a weed is. It is often some kind of sin and the effect of it. People do things to one another that are not good. We hurt one another. Why? Are you really sorry about it? Oh yeah?! How so? How have you shown your interest in the Lord of this Field helping us fix things, and making this ground around us fertile and tilled and ready for His Seed?

The “enemy” who sows darnel may be a jealous neighbour who tells stories on us (behind our back) so to wound our reputation while simultaneously elevating their own position and feeding their ego (that’s weedy stuff); or “we get it” how it could be referring to a disagreeable and unsupportive person who just won’t help us, or help some others–due to their myopic and narrow scope of nearly always preferring their own prideful point of view. That’s some ‘weediness’ to deal with–socially. And “we get it” that it could represent a person around us who is just quite sinful, in choosing immorality or deceit or cheating or gross immodesty or anti-religious activity—and we are stuck right there in that situation as a believing Catholic needing to keep to our Faith, and be un-apologizing or compromising about it to them, while also trying to find the way of loving these offending sinners and to even regular pray for them, all the while not loving their sin. Some weeds of the enemy are awful. We can be aghast by them. But they are right there in our lives.
Have we been on the receiving end of the bad stuff of the world?

From that vantage, we do need to understand, that, however hurt bu it, how Jesus still wants us to be faithful to Him, and to trust that He will deal with separating things out in the end, of the good and bad. While He may seem like He has been too delayed on His judgment and in dealing with unfair things affecting us, we will just have to trust Him and His Ways on the matter. Yes, we see a lot of weeds when we look out at the world. Imagine how many God sees. He will have a lot of weed-wacking to do ahead.

That is the easy view, though, as to look at other people’s problems upon us. What about the opposite view, of having a look at ourselves, and not the sins of others? We have done wrong. Yes, we also have our own weeds of sin within. We need to take the inside look at ourselves, in the Truth and Light of Christ’ point of view. We need to see what sins and weeds of ours are hurting ourselves or others. Subjectively speaking, Christ Jesus is the measure of a person. We are each accountable to Him, so says today’s parable, and when we are standing before Him in all honesty—we will see how weeds have grown all around our own good areas: Weeds amidst the wheat. Personal sins committed or not so nice sins of omitted cooperation with God— right besides our acts of faith, hope and love. These not so good things are right next to the good that we have done. What is to be done about it? These weeds among the wheat. Jesus says: He will deal with it all in the end. All the “good” that is sown in Good Soil will last and harvest into eternity—so He says. He says all the “good” will be so obvious that even the angels will recognize it, as they are sent to cut and divide, or collect and save the good wheat from the weeds.. That Day of Reckoning will come. We shall be seen for who we are and Who we loved. So our aim to please God everyday and worship and praise Him will make a great difference. God desires it. God rewards it.

As a Christian, we just hope we are really living honestly to God right now. For we don’t want to live in such a way that much in our lives would be temporal and passing, like those actions of ungodly persons of the world, all too ready for the weed-wacker, but instead that we would be in the Holy Spirit’s disposal to live in “Imitation of Christ.” Thomas a’Kempis wrote that Catholic classic, “The Imitation of Christ” so for people to see by Whom and to Whom they are measured by. Our life is to show some mirroring of Jesus Christ, Whom we adore and follow. We must allow ourselves to be sought and found by Christ. When we meet Him, we are to try to become like Him. The goal is that we seek to imitate Christ enough that other people begin to recognize Jesus in us. (For He is the Savior within our hearts.)

In the Church, too, we take a collective look inside. We see weeds that have grown up alongside our faith. It is the bad with the good. We have the bad sins we have done before the world, even when we (The Body of Christ believers) have been supposed to be examples of a committed life to God and to one another as the Church. So while we have had good times of prayer, care and sacrifice; we have also had weedy scandals of hypocrisy, fear and irresponsibility, gross neglect to knowing the Faith or teaching it, and the lack of giving of our best time talent and treasure to this high enterprise of being Church and witnessing Jesus Christ to the world—these fore-mentioned weeds have frankly been an embarrassment to us all. As a priest, I am told by some sincere outside observers that too many professed Christians whom they know do not come across as any different or better off than some worldly persons who do not have a Love of God. They wonder about that. So do I, and I get a little mournful of hearing of it. The scandal of Christians all caught up in worldly concerns and anxieties and things are as so many weeds.

In the end I just say: It is Your Church, Lord, I am just a worker in the field, trying to plow the earth for a good crop to come at harvest. At each Sunday Mass I just try to join with you as we all go back to the start, with the praises of the original Christmas story. To pray or sing in what pleases the Lord, speaking: “Glory to God in the Highest, and Your Peace Come to all people of good will… we praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You, and we give You thanks! For all Your Great Glory.”

This is where we start with God— blessing Him for coming to our help. We welcome Jesus to the bosom of our belief, to our hearts.

We also bow down to God right before that in our Act of Contrition, saying “Lord Have Mercy” and “I am contrite(sorry) over what I have done (that was wrong) and in what I have failed to do (that was the right I should have acted upon).. “Lord Have Mercy. Christ Have Mercy. Lord Have Mercy.” And I pray that “Almighty God might have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.” That is our hope. In this world with many weeds, with much “darnel”, there still will come a harvest of good, much good, is coming, and all of it will please the Lord that His Seed was received for such good life to come.

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I was looking for a farm joke for this homily end. I did not use it on Sunday at the pulpit, but with extra time in this blog, I will finish with it.
An Amish farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of corn, out of one of those roadways in Dutch Country. A local, a non-Amish, and non farmer, who noticed it all from a distance of his restaurant window, quickly called AAA for assistance and thene he rushed out and over to the roadway’s other side. This retired man shouted out to the boy: “Hey Son, are you alright?” The boy said: “I think I am, mister.” “Well, good!,” the man said, adding “”I just called for roadside assistance to come by. They will pick up the cart and the corn in about 20 to 25 minutes.” So now forget your troubles. Come in and visit with me. I will treat you to a dessert in the restaurant.”
“That’s mighty nice of you,” the Amish boy answered, “But I don’t think Pa would like me to.”
“Aw come on son,”the man insisted. “I can assure you I am nice and safe, and that you will like the restaurant.” The boy replied, “Oh, I like desserts and you do look safe and I know the restaurant, but—“ The man interrupted: I won’t accept any buts or no’s from you, I insist I treat you to a dessert and a nice break for 20 minutes until help arrives.”
“Well okay,” the boy finally agreed, and added, “But Pa won’t like it.”
After a hearty dessert of apple pie ala mode moonshine style, with a cold glass of milk, the boy thanked his host. “I feel great from the dessert and all, but I know Pa is going to be real upset.”
“Don’t be foolish!” the neighbor said with a smile. “By the way, where is he?”
The boy pointed out to across the street: “Under the wagon.”

Bible Study on 1st Thessalonians 4: A Walk in Holiness

IMG_20140414_131310_662A Bible Study 1st Thessalonians 4 A Walk in Holiness

Get out your Bible and read and pray the fourth chapter of 1st Thessalonians. Look at this outline as a way of following a message with these verses.

Topic: A Walk in Holiness.
[I did this devotion myself today.]

The opening part of 1st Thessalonians is all about living a life pleasing to God.

What is our inspiration to do so? I think the heavenly promise of Revelations chapter 19 gives us good reason to live this way. You’ll see how I tie that in with an icebreaker below. St. Paul leads into this chapter 4 with a line from 1 Thess. 3:13, that this church would heed his words so they would “so strengthen their hearts in holiness (in the Lord’s love) that they would be blameless before God the Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus with all His saints (for the culmination of the world to their coming into Glory).”

Opening ice-breaker. Have you ever worked hard at being pleasing to someone, at doing something the proper way that one ought to have done? There are points to follow for showing class and honor and respect. I think of weddings in church as such an event. It is why we have a wedding rehearsal for every Nuptial Mass or Nuptial Ceremony in church.
We had a wedding rehearsal and we were going over with the incoming wedding party on how teach person was to walk down the aisle and enter the sanctuary space. There was a proper pace and posture to follow, there was spacing to consider, there was a uniform way the bridesmaids should present themselves, and there was a way for the flower girls to walk and to toss the silk flower petals. Meanwhile, there was a proper way for the groom and groomsmen to enter from the side door, following the priest. All of it was rehearsed well on that Friday before the Saturday wedding. We especially took care in how the mothers of the couple would process in, and finally, how the bride and her father would enter in. All was rehearsed a few times so to have a very pleasing, elegant wedding liturgy in the church. Everyone learned of their places and the whole flow of the liturgy.
Yet we had not factored in the wedding runner and their assistants. Normally I don’t allow it at a wedding. The runner was put up (without my knowing or expecting it) and two persons were chosen by the family to do it prior to the bride’s entrance. I did not know of these plans. They were surprise add-ins to the wedding.
Result: the whole wedding went very well, except for the goofs with the wedding runner and the two men awkwardly pulling it back, and the white-paper runner going crooked and flapping over with folds, and thus, making those walking on it apprehensive of tripping. The men chosen to pull back the runner did not do it well nor did they do it in a timely way (the bride was delayed a lot by it and the music was running short) nor did these runner-pullers do their job with any coordination nor any show of dignity. Oh well! We all know what one mess-up can do to a wedding. Especially at the start and in the middle of all things. I just shook my head and grinned. Wedding runners are a bad idea!
But LIFE is a much more important matter. How we walk (i.e. live) is important. Christians are to walk as so to be pleasing to God. Our life is much like a rehearsal for our ultimate wedding to God in the Heavens. We want to be pleasing to Him. We want to present ourselves to Christ (the Bridegroom) so “to give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready…clothed with fine linen, bright and pure…(her) righteous deeds.” While we know that our life will have lots of glitches, we realize that the Word of God gives us all kinds of help so to be pleasing to God. There are things that God expects of us. He tells us so.

We live to be pleasing to God. We pray a phrase at every Mass at our hope that we are delighted to be engaged with God: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb(Rev.19:9).” This is our joy–that our life is all about presenting ourselves well before God, since He has called us into His eternal love. Now we are set up for our Scripture study.
Please read the 1st Thess. 4 text before proceeding. Then, the outline can help lead you into some thoughts.

PART ONE. A Life Pleasing to God 1 Th. 4:1-8
A. Walk to please God. (1)
1. Chapter 4 starts off with the words, “finally, brothers and sisters…” St. Paul (and his assistant Timothy) know what is on the minds of these Greek people of Thessanolika. They are concerned about the Return of Christ–the ultimate finality. People are wondering: ‘If He comes, then will we be ready? How are we to be ready?’
Paul says “in fact, you are doing what you ought to be doing (v.1).” You are living the Way of Christ, as we your apostles taught you (“as you learned from us).” We taught you to live for God.
a. Everybody lives to please somebody. Many people live only to please themselves.
b. They are insensitive to the needs of others. But Paul is saying to these Greeks, you instead are behaving as brothers and sisters of Jesus. Do this more and more! You are on the right course!
c. Then there are others who live to please humankind and give little effort to pleasing God.
Without faith instructions, we could be caught up in this worldly way, too. But we have been taught that we can be pleasing to God. It has elevated our lives and conduct. God is watching us.

Here God’s Word (in this verse 1) “urges” the Christians to learn how to not follow this self-pleasing path anymore. The apostles have their example to give. In verse 3 it says that to follow the path of pleasing God and His will leads to “sanctification.”

We Christians have the option away from the world to come to God and be “sanctified.” Do you like that word, that description, that change to your being which is sent by God who truly follow Jesus?

2. Pleasing God ought to be the major motivation of the Christian life.
a. Children should naturally seek to please their good parents.
b. Jesus said, “I do always those things that please Him.” cf John 8:29 He had a role as human servant to God the Father, as He lived on our human path even while still being the Son.

3. Pleasing God means more than simply doing His will.
a. It is possible to obey God and yet not please Him. Jonah in the Bible serves as a good example of one who did what God commanded, but he didn’t have a heart for it.
b. Definition of obedience = doing what we are told, of what we ought to do, and doing so with the right heart attitude.
c. Our obedience should be “…not with eye-service, as in what looks good and pleasing to the world, but with heart-service as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” cf Eph. 6:6
d. Pleasing God involves strong choices of letting God lead your life. These Thessalonians had problems of sexual sin and they were asked to abstain and to control their own bodies. Paul says he is confident they can, as he ways “each one of you knows how to (v.4).” Thus, sin is not a helplessness. Sin need not have dominion over ourselves. Yet, we need to know God and be in His might and love to be so moved to make the right choices for ourselves. It will please God to see us going in that direction. God can work with that good intention. It is to those who say ‘I can’t help it’ who make themselves difficult before God. God maybe will not have the pleasure of leading and guiding such a person. We must want “holiness and honor (v.4b).”

B. To obey God. (reviewing verses 2-3)

1. When Paul ministered in Thessalonica, he gave the believers “instructions” about following Jesus Christ; he has told them that this Word comes from the Living God.
2. In v3 he reminds them that there are some things that you do not have to seek God’s will about. (like sin!) The Will of God is for holiness. The fornication going on in Thessanolika was wrong; believers had to stop their practice of it. Why? It was sinful.
3. Abstaining from sin is possible! Scripture says so.
4. We are to be sanctified or holy and set apart from sin!

C. To glorify God. (reviewing verses 4-5)
1. This is the positive side of God’s commandment. While obedience takes discipline and choice, Glory comes to us in the sense of God’s assistance to us, and His Light and Care for us, and His participation in our lives. He participates in our lives in this earthly time, so that we can yearn to participate in full with Him in the coming eternity.
2. Christians are supposed to be different. Our bodies are now temples of the Lord. It is our call to love God through our bodily experience/practice. Saintly Pope John Paul the Great wrote a whole lot on the theology of the body and of how much God wants to be in our bodily existence, and not just our souls. After all, Jesus Christ the Lord came in the flesh to us.
3. Those who do not know God live ungodly lives for that very reason of not knowing what they are missing! We were designed, even bodily, to all be in cooperation with God. Since God is a God of Unity and Giving (as Trinity), and the God of our creation, He wouldn’t design the human person and our bodies to be kept away in selfishness, nor to identify ourselves in sin and depravity in the body. He wouldn’t want us to miss love and settle for lust. WE are to glory in His love. We are to experience His love and holiness even in all our relationships– God is to be known relationally among all humankind. God is to be known in the senses, not just in the spirit. He is Sacramental. But when people are divided/separated in relationship with God, then they are divided even in their own self. Lustful passions come. They demand sinfully that their bodies are only “theirs;” not also and primarily the property of God. These people who do not know God need awakening. As verse 5 says, those “Gentiles” around the city “did not know God”— and this had been why they were almost expected to be in lustful passions. They were out of control. Paul says that this is the sin that God has come to rescue you out of!
Speaking of out-of-control people, I watched a group of protestors versus the Church chant “get your rosaries off our ovaries!” While it was a catchy rhyme, I thought: “Those ovaries of yours are first God’s property. He has such loving purposes for you women and your bodies, but you don’t know Him yet! I pray they will know God. And I think it’s impossible to place rosaries upon a ladies’ ovaries, nor did I think any Catholics has gone this far. :) Really, the encroachment was more about what demands were being made versus Catholics and other Christians to act versus our faith and be complicit in America’s sinning more in sexual immorality. We aren’t willing to fund it nor be forced to accept it as “good” practice for ourselves nor among our members and families– as Health Care Laws were demanding upon all Americans. Verse 7 in 1st Thessalonians 4 explains our position: “For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.”)
4. But we, who know God, are obligated to glorify Him in this world! We are given control. Holiness and honor come from God’s Spirit to us. This is such a positive! God’s Spirit is poured out upon us so that we can share in God’s life, and be happy in the Ways of God (and not glory in sin). It is such a happiness to know that one’s body is “a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor.6:19)
5. Now, if we Christians do fall into fornication or some other sexual sin, as such, then it says that we need to get to know God and His holiness much better. Repentance is the key to getting to that knowledge of God. One must turn from self and turn to God. In knowing Him, we will be taught the wholeness of which God has planned to share in our own bodies. We will also realize His Presence in our bodies more, just as He also inhabits our minds, spirit, and souls. We also will realize the Great Mystery that the whole Church is a “Body of Christ.”

D. To escape the judgment of God. (6-8)
1. God is no respecter of persons.
a. He will deal with sin where He finds it. He’s an “Avenger” of sin.
b. Whether it be in the life of the unsaved or in the life of His own children.
2. The fact that we are Christians does not excuse us from His judgment upon sin.
(Gal 6:7) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”
3. We should be encouraged to live holy lives because we are in Christ now, and His Spirit is in us.
4. A holy walk involves a right relationship, with the Father (Who called us), God the Son (Who incarnated for us and Who became Sacrifice for us), and God the Holy Spirit (Who lives within us and leads us).
5. This will result or be evidenced by a right relationship with those around us.
6. Of course, we baptized believers do know that because we have given our lives over to the Lord in faith, that we are not condemned or lost in our sin. God has taken our sins to the Cross. Then “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” as o
II. Walk in Love v9-10
A. The Body of Christ is a Reality, not just a principal. We are collected into the Church, Christ’ Body, and we learn of our call to be one in love. The Spirit leads us to love our brothers and sisters.

1. Love One Another is the call of Christ’ Body. It’s a must.

B. Brotherly/sisterly love knows no boundaries.1. The church had been taught the principle of being one in love as brothers/sisters in Christ.
2. They understood the principle to a certain extent.
3. They practiced it toward the brethren in Macedonia.

C. Brotherly/sisterly love must encompass all.
1. This movement of loving our own bodies as temples of the Lord leads us to better love other people as temples of the Lord, as we can “see” God in them, and give them due respect as people in Christ’ Body. Paul says in a related verse in Galatians, (5:13-14,22-23) “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become servants to one another…you shall love your neighbor as yourself… the fruit fo the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against such things.”
1. It is not enough that we love the brethren of our “fellowship.” We are impelled to grow in love “more and more.” We must see to whom God is leading us to love. Even right in the assembly.
2. We have a relationship as church, even to all of the larger territory about us.
3. We must increase our love to extend throughout the world. cf. 3:1

III. Walk in Honesty v11-12

A. We need an honest testimony at our jobs/schools/places of recreation/ and neighborhood.
1. Living quietly is a call to one of respect, decency, modesty, and non self-centeredness.
2. Minding our own affairs is a call to respect boundaries with others and to not trespass upon them by our sins.
3. Behaving properly to outsiders and strangers was an important factor in this local church. It was a well-traveled area with many such persons—the church needed to understand her day-to-day outreach and reputation.

IV. What’s Ahead? chapter 4: 13-17.
A. They had some confusion about Christ’s return. Was it immanent?

1. Whether Christ was Coming Back Soon or not—they need not grieve as ones who had no hope. Christ had promised to bring to Him all who had died, as to save His own.
2. Because of the possibility of Christ’ Return very soon, unfortunately, many Christians in Thessanolika would just not work, thinking they could cruise to the Return of The Lord..
3. Christians could be assured that when Christ chose to return, they would be caught up in the air/clouds and be in triumph to be with the Lord forever. The dead would rise in Christ first, and right afterwards the living. They should “encourage one another” with those words. God will bring His people home to Himself.
4. The Return of Christ will come at a time we know not. A final day will arrive in history. Christians must keeping living day by day, year by year, and century by century in fidelity, until Christ’ chooses His Return. An Archangel will trumpet the arrival, Christ will be seen coming from above.
5. We will meet the Lord—our Hope of Hopes.

B. Since we know Christ is Coming, we need an honest testimony to go and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others right now, and our message can be of how important it will be to be in right relationship with Him. We need to win the lost. We need to show that we have invested all to be in right relationship with God and how we are prepared for Christ.
1. Christian who do an honest day’s work are witnessing to Christ. It’s not just Bible talk or Catechism explanations, but our own conduct in the world.…
C. The Return of Christ needs to spur us on in many ways in our Faith
1 We are to be excited that there will be a resurrection. (16)
2. The Lord Himself will return personally to claim His own.
3. When He returns, He will issue a shout of command. We will have been “marked” by the signs of Sacraments and of our heart of prayer and life of love, and the Return will have us reach up for Christ, not shrink and run.
4. We love being with the Lord now, even in our limited way of earth. How much we long to be together with Him throughout all eternity.
5.. We need to consider what people around us need to be told of The Lord and the hope that is in our life in Christ’ Body, the Church. Without Christ, what hope is there for the future?! The message of triumph coming (v. 13-18) is part of our evangelism message; all need to be ready! Jesus died and rose again—it is a Mystery to share. It is the mystery of the Holy Mass. We are joining into Christ right here in this world. We need not wait for the end, Christ is among us now to join us to Himself and His Mercy and Life.The basis of our hope is that we believe the gospel. The gospel is the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is Alive. There is comfort in knowing that the dead in Christ will live on with God in Heaven.

D. There is comfort in that hope. (18)
1. There is comfort that death for the believer is but sleep…not of the soul but of the body!
2. There is comfort in knowing that there will be a reunion.
3. There is comfort in the fact of eternal blessings with the Lord forever.
4. How we live now does really matter. All is invested in hope. Thus, we can walk in holiness, love, honesty and hope. We have a great happiness coming.

Biblical Advice for Christians Who Insist on Sinning in their “dare mode” to God

Biblical Advice For Christians Who Continue To Sin – we’d better soon get right with God!

For a Devotional Study

Someone liked my Matthew 13 Good Soil-25%/ Bad Soil 75% Homily on Sunday, and they wanted a list of Bible verses that also give some warning to those Christians who dare sin with an attitude against God, making their soil not so good anymore.
Sometimes Christians sin with a presumption that God will not respond to their blatant offense.
While God may not show obvious displeasure to them (and their prayer life is probably hurting or in a bargaining and blind-and-deaf mode with God–or they’d hear it there from Him), God’s Word can always reveal how He IS in displeasure with Christians over certain sins.

I looked for a collection of verses (while goodling) and this one came up quickly online in my own search. I will just load it onto this blog. While maybe a better list can be compiled, I only had the time to respond to them with this quick find. It probably get someone started in this topical study of things Christians should stop doing in sin if they expect their good soil to remain for the Lord’s Seed of work in us. We start with Sunday’s verse, and then go from there.

Matthew 13:1-9 NRSV
”A Sower went out to sow. And as He sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and…were scorched (later) since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth some grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears, listen!

Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Hebrews 10:26-27 ESV
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment…The Lord will judge His people.

Matthew 7:16-20 ESV
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NRSV
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

James 4:17 ESV
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 ESV
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

Romans 6:1-12 ESV
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Revelation 3:1-22 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

James 4:4 ESV
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
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Genesis 19:1-38 ESV
The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

Romans 1:26-27 ESV
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

NOTE: The last two on this list are directed probably to the same sex marriage issue. While lots can be said in comment, I will just post them. Many are not familiar with these two Bible verses.
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Now let us be reminded of the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to the Church.
As a priest, I get to put into use these gifts of the Lord for His wayward sinners. I get to help Christians be true to their Faith and become right with God again via the Sacrament.

John 20:19-24 ESV
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Hebrews 6:10 ESV
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

Ephesians 5:1 ESV
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Matthew 9:6-8 ESV
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

JESUS IS STILL GOING ABOUT THE WORLD BRINGING FREEDOM TO PEOPLE WHO ARE PARALYZED BY SIN. HE WORKS ON HEARTS AND SOULS AS WELL AS HAS COMPASSION ON US IN OUR TEMPTATIONS OF THE FLESH.

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Hard to Say Goodbye

Pardon my “caps” for this post… I was writing from a device that didn’t indicate it. :)

AS I READ THE WASHINGTON POST, I SAW THE OBITUARY FOR A FORMER PARISHIONER, KAY WACH. SHE HAD ALZHEIMERS FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND LIVED IN THE CARE OF HER SISTER IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. I KNEW THIS AND WAS SAD THAT KAY SPENT HER LAST PART OF LIFE NOT IN AWARENESS OF HER SELF. YET AS I PONDERED HER ILLNESS AND HER DEATH THIS PAST WEEK, I PUT MY FOCUS ON THE KAY OF A DOZEN SUMMERS AGO WHEN SHE WAS A VITAL AND HAPPY PARISH MEMBER OF OUR LADY’S PARISH IN ST. MARY’S COUNTY, AND WHEN I WAS THE PASTOR THERE, AND WHEN LIFE WAS GOOD FOR KAY IN THE 1990′S AND 2000′S. FROM MY TIME WITH HER, SHE WAS SMILING EVERY DAY AND ENJOYING LIFE IN A PRIVATE AND BEAUTIFUL HOUSE OF RETIREMENT OFF OF THE POTOMAC RIVER, WITH HER HUSBAND RAY. THEY BOTH WERE CATHOLIC ACADEMICS. THEY KNEW THE FAITH WELL, AND PRACTICED AND LOVED IT WELL IN THE LORD JESUS. THEY WERE QUITE GLAD TO HEAR THAT I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN COMING BY THEIR PLACE WITH FREQUENCY AND IN SHARING CATHOLIC FAITH AND KNOWLEDGE WITH ONE ANOTHER. THIS I DID FOR MANY MONTHS. THEY WERE ONE OF THE MORE KEEN AND TUNED-IN CATHOLICS OF THE PARISH AND COUNTY. I REALLY ENJOYED OUR TIME TOGETHER.

I KNEW KAY’S BROTHER, FR. HENRY, BEFORE I CAME DOWN TO MEDLEY’S NECK. HE WAS A BRIGHT AND EXPERIENCED JESUIT PRIEST IN THE WASHINGTON COMMUNITY OF GONZAGA. I HAD MANY DEEP DISCUSSIONS WITH HIM ABOUT THE LORD AND THE CHURCH, SO I WAS NOT SURPRISED TO FIND HE HAD A SISTER OF DEEP CONVICTIONS AND CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY.

KAY AND RAY WERE A NICE COUPLE. I GOT TO ALSO MEET SOME OF THEIR NICE FAMILY WHEN THEY VISITED THE WACH’S BIG RIVERFRONT HOUSE AND GUEST HOUSE. THERE WAS LOTS OF ROOM AT THEIR PLACE.
A SUDDEN THING HAPPENED TO RAY IN THE TIME I WAS IN THE PARISH. IT WAS A REAL SURPRISE. HE DIED OF A HEART ATTACK. IT HAPPENED IN THE MIDDLE OF A HEALING MASS. THOUGH HE WAS SURROUNDED BY MEDICAL PERSONS, NOONE COULD REVIVE OR HELP HIM. IT WAS AS IF THE POWER CORD OF LIFE HAD BEEN PULLED FOR ITS SOCKET. HE JUST COLLAPSED AND WENT OFF IN HIS SOUL TO GOD.

I PRAYED THE FUNERAL ALONG WITH SOME OTHER PRIESTS, PARTICULARLY KAY’S BROTHER, FR. HENRY.

KAY LIVED ON, AND THE PARISH COMMUNITY AND I TRIED TO BE REALLY THERE FOR HER IN HER TIME OF LOSS.

NOW KAY GOES HOME TO GOD. THE FUNERAL IS BACK AT OUR LADY’S PARISH THIS SATURDAY. UNFORTUNATELY, IN THE TIMING OF THINGS, I HAVE IMPORTANT DUTIES TO THIS PARISH OF ST. EDWARD THIS WEEKEND, SO I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ATTEND KAY’S FUNERAL AND BURIAL.

KAY’S BROTHER WILL BE THERE TO LEAD THE PRAYERS AND MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL.

THE PASTOR OF OUR LADY’S PARISH IS NEW; HE JUST STARTED YESTERDAY. HE WILL NOT KNOW KAY AND HER LEGACY, SO OTHERS WILL BE EXPLAINING IT TO HIM. I WROTE A SHORT NOTE, AS WELL AS TALKED TO THE PARISH SECRETARY A WHILE AGO. I GAVE MY GOOD THOUGHTS ON KAY. THIS IS WHAT I WROTE AND FAXED TO THEM TONIGHT.

FROM FR. BARRY: A NOTE TO OUR LADY’S–PASTOR AND COMMUNITY

I ENJOYED GETTING TO BE WITH KAY WHILE SHE AND I WERE LIVING IN GOOD MEDLEY’S NECK. IT WAS JULY 2002 THAT WE MET UP. I MET HER AND RAY. THAT WERE QUITE A WELCOMING COUPLE FOR ME TO THE PARISH. I APPRECIATED IT, EVEN THOUGH I CAME WITH SOME FAMILIARITY WITH LEONARDTOWN. RAY IMMEDIATELY TALKED THEOLOGY WITH ME, AND SHOWED ME HIS LARGE CATHOLIC BOOK COLLECTION AT THE HOUSE. KAY ALSO WAS WELL READ AND TOLD ME OF HER YEARS OF WORKING AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. SHE SHOWED ME AROUND THEIR LOVELY WATERFRONT HOME AND GUEST HOUSE. SHE SPOKE OF THEIR AFFECTION FOR PEOPLE IN SPECIAL VOCATIONS IN THE CHURCH (RELIGIOUS, CLERGY). SHE SAID THAT THE GUEST HOUSE WAS USED OCCASIONALLY BY SERVANTS OF THE CHURCH FOR SOME REST.

I COULD SEE THAT I HAD A NEW SUPPORT FROM THE WACH’S. THEY REALLY RESPECTED HOLY ORDERS AND THE CALL OF THE RELIGIOUS TO SERVE THE CHURCH’S MISSION.

I HAD KNOWN KAY’S BROTHER, FR. HENRY, IN A PREVIOUS ASSIGNMENT OR TWO IN THE ARCHDIOCESE. FR. HENRY HAD BEEN COMING TO HELP AT ST. NICHOLAS PARISH IN LAUREL (I WAS PASTOR THERE) AND HE WAS PART OF A “D.C. JESUIT CONNECTION” WE HAD COMING OVER REGULARLY TO COVER OUR DAILY EVENING MASSES AND OUR SATURDAY VIGIL THERE. HENRY WAS FONDLY RECEIVED AT ST. NICHOLAS IN THOSE VISITS TO PRAY THE MASS. IN A COUPLE OF YEARS LATER, HE INVITED ME TO ASSIST HIM IN THE N.I.H. CATHOLIC MINISTRY IN BETHESDA AS A HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN. I CAME FOR A YEAR OR TWO IN A ONE-DAY-A-WEEK VISIT TO ASSIST FR. HENRY. AFTER 9-1-1, WE WEREN’T ABLE TO KEEP THAT GOING. YET BY 2002, I WAS PASTOR OF HIS SISTER’S PARISH AND MOVED BACK DOWN TO ST. MARY’S COUNTY.

IT SEEMS THAT KAY AND RAY ALREADY KNEW SOME OF MY ST. AL’S PALS (1991-96) AND SO WE HAD SOME COMMON FRIENDS ONCE WE GOT STARTED IN SHARING COMPANY. ALSO, THE DAILY MASS CROWD AT OUR LADY’S PARISH HAD A SOCIAL PLAN TO MEET AFTER MASS NOW AND THEN, AND KAY WAS IN THAT GROUP. WE HAD SOME NICE TIMES.

KAY KNEW THAT I LIKED TO JUST COME AND SIT AND WATCH THE RIVER GO BY, ESPECIALLY AT SUNSET TIME. SHE WAS NICE TO RECEIVE ME NOW AND THEN, ALONG WITH A FEW OTHER OUR LADY’S PARISHIONERS ON THE WATERFRONT. IT WAS SUCH A SIMPLE AND WONDERFUL PLEASURE.

I WAS IN THE HEALING MINISTRY AND IT INTERESTED RAY. I TOLD HIM OF THE LIBERATING WAYS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. HE WAS FULLY A BELIEVER IN THIS. WE SPOKE OF GOD’S MOVEMENT AND POWER IN THE WORLD. HE LIKED HEARING OF MY EXPERIENCES OF BEING A LIAISON TO THE ARCHBISHOP FOR THE CHARISMATIC AND HEALING MINISTRY. STILL, IT WAS A SHOCK WHEN RAY DIED IN A HEALING MASS AT ST. GEORGE’S PARISH. KAY AND I WONDERED LATER: “DID HE PRAY FOR SOMETHING AND TRULY GET THE LORD’S BEST ANSWER, IN A HEALING INTO HEAVEN?” WE HOPED IT WAS THE EXPLANATION, AS THE SETTING OF RAY’S PASSING SUGGESTED GOD’S INVOLVEMENT IN A SPECIAL WAY.

I KNOW THAT RAY’S PASSING TOOK A LOT OUT OF KAY. SHE LOVED HIM AND SHE MISSED BEING WITH HIM. IT WAS LIKE LOSING SOME WIND IN THE SAILS. SHE WAS STILL MOVING ALONG FINE, BUT IT WASN’T THE SAME. A DECLINE IN HEALTH CAME, AND MAYBE IT WAS ALL READY TO HAPPEN ANYWAY AT THAT TIME, YET IT WAS HARD FOR US, HER FRIENDS, TO SEE IT TAKE PLACE.

MY INVOLVEMENT IN THE MEDLEY’S NECK COMMUNITY CAME TOO SOON WHEN THE ARCHBISHOP TRANSFERED ME TO ANOTHER PARISH. I HAD ALREADY BEEN MOVED IN 1996, 1998, 1999, AND 2002—SO THE CHANGE (AGAIN) WAS A BIT OF A SURPRISE, AND IT TOOK ME AWAY FROM OUR LADY’S PARISH IN MOST WAYS—BUT THE PARISH AND PEOPLE THERE HAVE FOND MEMORIES FOR ME (AND SOME LASTING FRIENDSHIPS)—AND IT INCLUDES MEETING THE BEAUTIFUL COUPLE KAY AND RAY WACH.

I WISH FOR FR. HENRY PEACE AND COMFORT IN THE LORD. I WISH IT FOR THE WACH FAMILY. I WISH IT FOR THE PARISH THERE.
I AM SERVING A WEDDING IN MY BOWIE PARISH THIS FRIDAY/SATURDAY NIGHT—THUS I DO NOT HAVE THE AVAILABILITY TO BE IN THE CHURCH AT MEDLEY’S NECK FOR THE MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL. YET I WILL BE THERE IN SPIRIT.

FR. JOHN BARRY