Photo of “the walking Ad” on the roadside

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This is a sign twirler.   They are becoming a familiar sight on the roadsides.   This fellow actually isn’t handing out $50 bills, as the sign seems to suggest.    You’ll save  it on your next tax preparation, so the business says inside.

Should we have sign twirlers directing people to church?! :) If we dared, then what would the signs say?

“Detour to St. Edward church!>>>>>>>>>>>” “Make Someday this Sunday at St. Edward.”
“Prayer: Over There^^ at St. Edward Catholic Church.” “Mass Communications to God>>>St. Edward’s”
“Be Prayed Upon, not preyed upon. –Jesus, host at St. Edward’s.” “CH RCH– U are missing. Come by. St. Edward”

Lent and Baptism

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I often read the morning sports page. It had a sad headline there today, as it said that the Angels baseball outfielder Josh Hamilton (a Christian MLB ballplayer who has been battling addictions to drugs in his adult life) did lose his sobriety and succumb to taking drugs again and failed a regular drug test of the Major Leagues (cocaine). He will get suspended from playing the start of the 2015 season; it might be a long duration, as Josh has been suspended before. Hamilton loves playing baseball, with trying to hit pitches for long homers, and opposing pitchers say that Josh has lots of talent for hitting, but the player is striking out in living his real life.

One thinks of Romans 7:8, 11,24b-25a as it says “sin, seizing an opportunity…produced in me all kinds of covetousness…. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate… Who will rescue me from this?… Jesus Christ our Lord!”

St. Paul wrote that. He was saying that humanity needs to be renewed and regenerated and Christians need to keep coming back to  “square one”:  our baptism into Christ’ life.  We need to rely on the Lord living  in us and receiving His help to overcome our sin and to live as born anew.

I was pondering our morning Scriptures at daily Mass from Ezekiel 18. The prophet was speaking about the struggle between living in virtue and grace or that of living as captive to sin and disgrace. The dying to self and sin is our New Covenant provision to getting to God. In a prophetic word to Israel, Ezekiel (18:31-32) says “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against Me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit…Turn, then, and live!”

The Baptism Waters of Life in Christ flow for this Newness to abound again.  From dying to rising to glory!
Or—we can let the harm and the hurt of sin get the worst of us.

DYING < > RISING : THAT IS THE MYSTERY ONTO GLORY.

The tug of war of our sinfulness and sin versus the life of trust in God involves the movement of grace and virtue via God’s Spirit.
Romans chapters 7 and 8 speak a lot to the struggle of choices we have before us.  We must ask:  Who are we?  Are we a member of Christ’ Body?  Do we indeed have the Holy One in us?  Is not His sacrifice at work in us?
St. Paul says to the Roman church community: “How can we who died-to-sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Lent is a lot about valuing our Baptism in Christ and getting renewed in that baptismal identity. If we are to be dead-to-sin, via the new life come to us in our baptism, then we need to keep understanding what Baptism in Christ is presently doing in us. Right?!

Baptism is freedom and it is being put onto the Way of Christ with Him as the Path and Gateway to God and the glorious life one day. Maybe, like as Psalm One puts it, maybe a river is a better image than a road or path, for the meaning of baptism is “to be plunged into.” That’s what the word means. We are plunged into Christ’ Mercy and Life. Baptism is a change ontically in being. We no longer are only natural, but we enter into spiritual birth in the soul, which works with our bodily (and mental) lives. It’s a new way of being human; we have the soul pilot light as turned “on.”

We are meant to identify ourselves as embodied souls–with the soul very much in operation at the center inside of us. In our core, Jesus lives His life, and it happens by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We can be very open to His Presence, or just somewhat open, or we can be fairly closed and just ebbing in operation. I recall how Paul the Apostle saw those three types of people in his pastoring the Cornith church. In 1 Corinthians 1-3 Paul describes the only natural man (not alive yet spiritually–not given in to Christ yet), the nominal or carnal Christian feeding on baby food (but following the world still too much), and then the Spirit-filled and led Christian living into maturity. We hope to be in the third category. If we have been living long in Christian faith, then we all ought to be in the third category, and it is our aim for Lent to arrive at Easter in our best practice of it that we can. Read 1st Corinthians 2:1-13, and you will see what the mature Christian is all about, as living in the true wisdom of God.

What is it that we say of ourselves, as the baptized? That ‘the old person is past, and behold a new person is emerging in us, one that loves God fully and acts in harmony with God and in accord with others in His love’ (2 Cor. 5:17–a key verse to pray in Lent).” A forgiven sinner has surrendered their sins to Jesus. We are baptized into Christ’ Death, so to be made anew in Christ in the power of His Resurrection, with our eyes on the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus (Phillipians 3:14).

Here is the Paschal Mystery as told in that above verse. The Catholic is meant to understand Christ Crucified (The Dying Mystery), Christ Risen (The Rising Mystery) and the Lord’s great coming to call us upward (The Glory Mystery). It’s all right there in Phillipians 3:14, as like in so many other verses. Being a Catholic is living the Paschal Mystery. Baptism plunges us into it.

As a Catholic, we rejoice that the interplay of the dying and rising action of The Lord in us is making us fit for Glory someday!

As the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy told us (as I wrote in my last blog), our witness now in Lent is “to hear the word of God and devote ourselves to prayer…(and that) the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners. During Lent, penance should not only be internal and individual, but also external and social.” We are community in conversion to Christ, not just individuals getting saved privately. Baptism isn’t just personal salvation; one is saved into the Body of Christ, and His Church (which is His living Body).

Christ Jesus is alive. Baptism proclaims Him alive. And that His Mission continuing.

Of course, let me say that private faith is necessary, and a personal encounter with Christ is also important in being saved, as only you are responsible to God for you. Your personal devotion to The Lord, then, is meant to help you be like Jesus, so as to reach out to others in the holiness by which God inspires in you. Jesus loved others and reached out; so must we. All of us doing this from our own hearts makes us form a Body of Believers under Him, the Head of all.

The external and social aspect of Lent is the charity and works we offer out to others. Lent is of love, and love is a gift to another (or one to be received from another). Love is outward and connecting; which means Lent is such. As we walk together during Lent, we will experience the freedom that knowing the Merciful Christ gives to us (the Dying Mystery) so as to walk the Risen Way of Jesus among us. His Body, the Church, is His light to the world, His bread for the hungry, and His salt in the earth. It’s His city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

“What good is it… if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can only faith save you? What if a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?… Show me your faith with works.” James 2:14-26 excerpt

So Lent sends us outward, because our Baptism in Christ has plunged us into Christ, and He is the One Who went out to others, and said to His followers: Follow Me… then go out in My Name, and heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely have you received, freely give. (Mt. 10:8)

Lent also has an inward way of being outward, as we go back to the epistle of James: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Confess your sins…pray for one another… (From James 4 & 5)

Get into who you are–a baptized member under Christ Jesus.

Have a Good Lent

You are in my prayers and in my regular Holy Eucharist. The Church prays daily for her members. Peace in Jesus.
Fr. Barry

A Good Lent

Starting a Good Lent: Liturgy Notes for a Catholic

In the great Vatican II document on liturgy, “The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy” (Sacrosantum Concilium), we are given some Lenten advice to consider:

It says: “The season of Lent has a twofold character:
#1
primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer…
#2
and the same is to apply to the penitential elements: the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners. During Lent penance should not only be internal and individual, but also external and social.”

Let us consider all these above points of this official advice for our liturgical season, with some examination of self and The Church:

Part One
Since Vatican II, the time of Lent has been focused on our recalling of the Gift of Baptized Life. The baptized have been reminded how much our baptism is the beginning of our life-changing mystery, when and where we began our remaking into being “children of God.” If as received in infant baptism, then our parent(s) promised to raise us up in the Catholic Faith. Hopefully, they did as promised. If as received as a young adult/adult, then we were the one making the promise. Hopefully, we are doing so, inspired by The Living Hope Who is within us, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lent comes upon us to remind the baptized that we are to look within us (and at our outward living of the Gospel), to see if we are indeed living our baptismal calling and commitment to Christ and His Church. If we see that we are not doing so well at it, then for our failures and weaknesses, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to restore us for areas where we haven’t been living towards conformity in Christ (Galatians 4:19). We also have disciplines in Lent of prayer, fasting and self-denial, and almsgiving and charity to revive us in faith. In Lent, we want to be holy, and grow towards more likeness in Christ Jesus. We want to arrive at Easter in good disposition.

Lent is also the time to look for those who are in our parish programs (and elsewhere) who are on the journey to baptism. They need support, both in love and prayer. They need example from the present Church members that they, as well, are surely working further in pursuit of our holiness of life. Thus, our Lenten penance and our own special attention in Lent to spiritual growth is the atmosphere that the regular membership should provide to them. Out of that, the Church can give some excitement from the body of believers for the Easter candidates. This is important, for their Baptism and/or First Eucharist and Confirmation celebration will be a most vital event in their lives, as they come into Christ’ Body, and Jesus and His Spirit comes into them. We ought to be quite glad for their conversion. Thus, the Easter Vigil Mass is given for that celebration each year.

Since Vatican II, Lent in The Church has focused back on what it used to do in the early Church: use the 40 days before Easter, with its Sunday feasts, to highlight attention on those persons preparing for baptism and for those persons who are converting to Catholicism at Easter. In the renewal, it felt that all the faithful should go back to her roots and baptismal gift in Christ Jesus. All the prayers and Scriptures and devotions and such are ordered to renewal. Renewal is experienced well when “people are being added to the number of those being saved (Acts 2:47).” It’s how the First Church was energized.

In the parish life at St. Edward’s (and all around us in other parishes) we have people who are in the final stages of completing their catechetical training of faith and/or ready to enter the Church. In churches all over the world, they are having Rites of Election for these people. In dioceses, people are going down to the bishop’s cathedral or church of choice to be welcomed by their shepherd to the local Church flock. (It is going on here in the Archdiocese of Washington for the next two Sundays.)

In each church liturgy, there are special selections of the Word of God for the Catholic faithful to hear during Lent. In this “Year B” cycle in 2015, we have special gospels and psalms selected for each Sunday (and weekday) around the world for Masses and prayer times. Last Sunday in the Gospel, for example, we began with remembering with a Mark 1 portion of Jesus’ own going out into the desert for a 40 day fast. (Our parish put out some desert symbolism in the sanctuary to match it.)

The 1st reading of the Old Testament began with the covenant story of Noah. You’ll notice that all throughout Lent, in the Sunday Hebrew Testament reading, that the theme of covenant will continue.
The 2nd reading, the epistle, has the weekly theme of The Paschal Mystery running through Lent. Deacon Barnes and I are concentrating attention on those epistles in our homilies. We hope that our homilies will inspire people to diligently hear that word of God and lead them into prayer and devotion to Jesus. We hope people will meditate on The Paschal Mystery as they go into prayer this season.

“We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.” What does our Mystery of Faith mean for us? What does the Lord’s Dying, Rising, and Reigning in Glory (with plans for our union with Him) inspire in us?

So, let’s review how this first part of the Sacrosantum Concilium (line) has exhorted us to act in Lent.
“The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer…” What is the Lord pointing out to your life?

Part Two
Now, let us study how the second part of Sacrosantum Concilium (line of advice) has exhorted us to act in Lent. Let’s look again at the back half of the quote:
“and the same is to apply to the penitential elements: the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners. During Lent penance should not only be internal and individual, but also external and social.”

If Jesus came to win people to Himself out of a sinful world, then we need to rejoice when we see people being saved into Him. It is a part of the joy of the liturgy leading us to Easter now. Don’t you love how our Easter Vigil brings people into the Church? Don’t you love the new members’ happiness and wonder of discovery at Easter?

There is someone who very much doesn’t. In the days before Easter, the Foe tries to discourage the new members. This is when these persons really need prayer: right now. We can help to rebuke Satan and his warfare. We pray in victory that Christ Jesus has already won, and souls are coming to Him! And these are our new brothers and sisters in Christ!

When we pray, we should have a serious intention about it. What kind of extra praying can we do? Maybe it is in going sometimes to a daily Mass, or praying a regular rosary or praying the Stations of the Cross as an intercession…. Or maybe God wants you to devoting an intention of a good work or penance to the intercession of persons coming into the Church.

In other ideas for prayer, some parishioners have taken to the Pray-for-a-Seminarian-for-Lent intention. There are 80 cards (one for each seminarian) to be taken. They are on a vocations tree in the east side of church, near Our Lady’s statue.

Someone else has thought of a soup, stations and speaker Friday in March for our parish Lenten practice. We are seeking out a religious sister to be the speaker. It will be on either March 13 or 27 in the parish’s normal 7:30 Way of the Cross practice, but the soup time in the hall will be ahead of it.
We don’t yet have the fixed Friday date for it–it all depends on the sister’s availability. We will put the announcement for it in the bulletin and from the pulpit announcements.

In another parishioner-led idea, involving all the parish council, we are having a Sunday afternoon lunch and fellowship on March 22nd for our parish family. That is right in the midst of Lent. The reason for it is for having better relationships to one another as a parish family. That is certainly fitting the desciption of the document of an external and social expression for Lent, and that we just don’t do Lent privately. Since it is on a Sunday (which always is a feast day, even in Lent), we can be permitted for a social. The meal will be a simple one, and the charge will be very low, to encourage many to come. As of this past weekend, we are selling the tickets for it.

Back to the theme of prayer for Lent, we are “exhorted” to pray for the Church right now, and especially for our incoming brethren… and while we are at it, we are exhorted to pray for all sinners, who have not yet responded to the Gospel or to the Church, and we can pray that they might come to Jesus and to come to know Him well, with His Mercy and Love and Goodness.

We have had some fruit of evangelism this year. The Church’s RCIA program and other conversion programs are given much attention by parishes right now, as they aim to bring new people into the parish at a joyous Easter Vigil. Parishes have Lenten scrutinies in Sunday liturgies (like in some 9:30 Masses of ours); they are good for all the faithful to see—that the Church is growing, and that some members have been faithful and fruitful in finding a new person called by Christ Jesus. The congregation is also invited into prayer for the RCIA members in these Lenten rites.

The quote says that we must not neglect “penitential practices” during Lent. Some are tempted to have no change of routine or lifestyle during Lent, just letting the time go by. There could be spiritual sloth and tepidity in that!
Look out! The foe may be trying to render you less effective for Christ’ Body. You are needed to keep growing in The Lord. If you succumb to inaction or lack of attention to penitential matters, then God may be saddened that you did not act on His supply of grace in this season. He wants His people to grow, even when we think we’re “a-o-k.” Recall the words of Jesus in John 15:2, that “Every branch in Me that bears not fruit He (The Vinegrower, The Father) takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, He purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

The Holy Spirit will speak to the work that needs to be done in Christ’ flock.
If one listens for Him, then usually His guidance is found. He gives the Church much to hear, and our bishop-shepherds often have much to share of that. But you should privately receive some ‘leading’ of the Spirit, too.

The parish also is preparing well for a good Holy Week celebration in liturgies. (We had a two-hour meeting with our Liturgy Committee on Tuesday for just that—an organized and solemn Holy Week at St. Edward the Confessor.) I am so thankful to volunteer members who work to that good purpose of serving the Church and her ministries. The Holy Week liturgies certainly fit the external and social dimension of Lent that the document is asking for.

I have been involved with eight parishes and RCIA programs since 1987.
I rejoice in the memories of converts in those parishes… such as a friend of my sister joining the Faith… and a Navy top gun pilot… and a doctor of sciences… and a divorced man who was left to raise two Catholic daughters … and a Mennonite woman in love with a parishioner and farmer…and a school parent… and a very, shy family…an entire two families… and a music performer… and a professional actor… a restaurant chef… a hair stylist… a stewardess…a teacher…and the list keeps on going. Many an engaged person have been among the classes, hoping to share Catholic faith with their life-long spouse, and making that foundation for it.

As the document (Sacrosantum Concilium) encourages external and social dimensions to our Lent, I think of a few dynamic ones in my years in parishes. One parish become organized with six other Catholic parishes, and they rotated the Friday Stations through the area, with everyone getting to see a different host parish and have soup and bread beforehand. The parishes also all shared a regional Penance Service with all eight priests involved in it.

Another parish took a social justice path in Lent. After each of the Friday night stations, a speaker for a charity/cause addressed the prayer attendees. Then, donations for a fasted Friday meal were put in a collection for that charity. These two ideas were created and organized by lay members of the parish, not the staff. They were great Lenten Fridays for me.

When we do any practice for Lent, it should be in gratefulness to God for His Mercy in His Son, for ourself and any other sinner He has led back Home to Himself. As we fast, pray and give alms—let us remember to grieve for the lost sinner, who has yet to come to know Our Lord, and let’s pray the Lord to help them to respond to His call, and guide them to the Church.

So, what do you now make of the statement from Sacrosantum Concilium?
“The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the word of God and devote themselves to prayer…
and the same is to apply to the penitential elements: the role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be passed over, and the people must be exhorted to pray for sinners. During Lent penance should not only be internal and individual, but also external and social.”

Has the Lord given you a Lenten thing to think about?
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First Sunday of Lent Homily: The Paschal Mystery

IMG_20140414_131310_6621ST SUNDAY OF LENT, 1 PET 3:18-22

What is The Paschal Mystery of our Catholic (Christian) Faith?

It is declared in our epistle reading of today’s Mass, which we will get to, but put succinctly: It is these three things A/ we proclaim your death, O Lord  B/ and profess your resurrection C/ until you come in glory.

You will recognize that as our Mystery of Faith prayer for your part in the Eucharistic Prayer today.  While there’s much more to The Paschal Mystery, it can be told in that three-fold prayer.  OR– even easier– it can be defined in just three words referring to Christ–dying, rising, glory–dying, rising and glory!

In the Dying part of the paschal mystery– it refers to God coming among us and offering his life of mercy for our sins, given in Christ Jesus’ death for us.  Christ Jesus opens friendship with God for all repentant sinners.

In the Rising part, it refers to God’s offer of the soulful rebirth for humankind.  Jesus, God’s Son and Savior, offers us a new life and relationship to God via His Resurrection– and fulfillment of God’s Covenant, which enables humanity to join into eternal life.

In the Glory part, we are draw into a process of conversion into eternal life, enabling us to be fit (or suitably being made ready) for life in God’s Full Presence.  We shall be fully joined to God as the Body of Christ, His loving and faithful bride in Heaven.  Glory is something to be revealed by the Son (Isa.40:5; Mark 9:all) and in the seeds of resurrection or Risen Life in Him; we shall bud forth, like plants or crops or trees emerging from the ground.  We shall be glorious one day, likened to God’s holiness in His Incarnate Word, and sprout up to eternal living and perfection as people.  That’s the Glory to come.  It’s not here yet, but it is seeded within us.  As the inaugural Gospel of Jesus today’s Mass declares: ‘the Kingdom is at hand, it is within you, believe it!’

So, the Paschal Mystery, put succinctly is the Dying, Rising, and Glory Mystery of Jesus.   He is working an amazing, saving plan.

The Paschal Mystery is a good theme for Lent.  We need to enter into it more deeply each Lent, as we are led along to the great Holy Week, when we especially honor it.  As our opening prayer of Mass states:  “Grant, almighty God…that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.”  Then, the Preface of today’s Mass, which leads to our Sanctus (Holy, Holy), asks us to “pattern our Lenten observance (by Christ’ example by casting out) the leaven of malice, so that, celebrating the Paschal Mystery, we might pass over at last to the eternal paschal feast.”  We remember how Lent invites to recall Christ as the New Pasch (or as the Reconciliation Eucharistic Prayer used today says: “our Passover”), that, the Holy Mass is the Pasch Event on earth is in communion with the Pasch Event in Heaven, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!

Our parish plan is for a Lenten season that looks to knowing and partaking of The Paschal Mystery more deeply.   Indeed, there are “riches” in accepting and opening fully to The Paschal Mystery (TPM) of Jesus Christ.   We do delve further and further each Lent into relating to why the Lord has come among us in His Son, Who offers His life for us, and how His Resurrection and His Seat in Glory also presents a gift to us to grow in and to become fully given to.   Our God-Hero and Savior Jesus Christ has come to represent the human race and offer his life for the forgiveness of sins and to give us a new life of faith.

I tried to write my own definition of TPM as an exercise of understanding.  Here it is:

It is the ongoing story of our calling into the Beloved Savior Jesus Christ to live life by Him, through Him, with Him, in Him… and to take a living, soulful pilgrimage that goes to His Cross at Calvary and the freedom that His Offering brings to the sinner…. And it is to remain in Christ’ by that Sacred Love poured out to experience the power of the resurrected, new life—with conversion to become an Easter people of God… and to be led to Glory in a way of holiness and love that is the fountain within us, that immerses us into the Life of God forever, and in Jesus’ Good Reign over us.

Now, let us hear the three-fold part of TPM in our epistle today:  All of the epistle readings of the Sundays of Lent will proclaim the three-fold Dying Rising and Glory.

Take a look, take a listen to 1st Peter 3 today, and find The Pascal Mystery in it:

“Beloved: Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.  Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.  In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.  It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.”

THE PASCHAL MYSTERY

A1/ GOD LIVED AMONG US— “Beloved—Christ…(is come to the world)”
A2/ CHRIST JESUS HAS BECOME OUR SACRIFICE— “Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.”
B/ CHRIST JESUS IS RISEN— Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit. He went to preach to the spirits in (the prison of an already-death) to save persons through water… in the ark (of Himself, like that of Noah’s ark) and carry off to salvation (His chosen persons) through resurrection.
\C/ CHRIST JESUS REIGNS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD ALMIGHTY— “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God,
with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.”

How do we live TPM out?   It is so much in the acceptance of a beloved God with us (A), and a willingness to give our struggles, trials, sins, weaknesses, faults and such to the Dying Mystery, to Christ’ Mercy in a true surrender of self (B), and it is to let the rising side of our lives (faith, hope, love, accomplishments, commitments, goals realized) to be celebrated (C).   When the Rising and the Dying Mystery of Christ “plays off” one another in our lives, then the Glory is invested all the more.

In conclusion, a senior man wondered aloud if the better part of life was behind him, when he could “do” more as a Christian, and not be hampered for faltering health.   I said:  Sir, you are likely having your best years.   Let the bodily weaknesses that are become yours all the more (your dying and struggling side) help to share the rising side of who you are.  You already are invested in a million prayers to God, a hundred or more, thousands of Masses and Holy Communions, and lots of charity and self-will surrendered.   This is a treasure in you!  Plus, you have wisdom.  So don’t mistake human weaknesses for slowing progress in your faith; rather, see it as ways that the rising side can respond in faith to the challenges.   I recommend the book “Falling Upwards” by Richard Rohr to see how The Paschal Mystery works later in life.  Glory comes in what is planted; you have much already planted.  Take heart; have faith.

 

Lenten Devotion: The 7 Sorrows of Mary

Devotion of the Seven Sorrows of Mary

Introductory Evening to the Devotion. 12 minutes.

You will have the next week, or 7 consecutive times, to pray with The Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Why this particular devotion? Because it has been prayed here at St. Edward’s church and property and it has been found powerful and useful. Thus, we would like to foster its practice.

The individual times of devotion (7) will require just 10 minutes or less of you and it will lead you from Mary’s sorrow from the prophesy of Simeon until the prophesy realized in the Burial of her Son. The 7 Stations or “Sorrows” of Mary is a devotion appropriate to Lent. Today, we just want you to read about the background of this devotion, and then finish with a simple prayer. Or, if it so inspires you, you can start the first of the Seven Sorrows of Mary prayers today.

This devotion may also be adapted. If you’d like to spend a Holy Hour in praying all of the 7 Sorrows at the same prayer time, then it would work that way, too.

Intro/// We need to all relate to the Blessed Mother. She has been given to us by Jesus from The Cross. She can teach a lesson to us about sorrow. We need to experience some sorrow about Calvary, if our faith will be moved to great appreciation of Jesus.

The purpose of this 7 Sorrows of Mary devotion is to promote union with the sufferings of Christ through union with the special suffering that Our Lady endured, simply because she was the unique Mother of God—Of The Christ. In that shared mission she had with the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, of flesh-to-flesh, and as a special cooperator with God’s saving action, it is worthy to pray with some understanding and identification with her sorrows.

By uniting ourselves with both the Passion of Christ and His holy Mother, we enter into Jesus’ Heart and honor Him greatly; He is honored in this touching way because we have so honored His Mother. Mary is living in Glory with Him now as His triumphant servant (Rev. 12). We recall Mary’s place with Jesus was very special; and we need to realize that it remains quite special (ref. John 2:3-5, 9-11). Identifying with Mary’s sorrows, we place ourselves at Calvary with this devoted follower and family member to Our Savior. By the Holy Spirit’s help, Mary held on through her Son Jesus’ Passion and Death She was filled with grace (Luke 1:28). By that lesson, we know clearly that we need the grace of The Spirit to help us understand The Paschal Mystery and all about The Mystery of the Cross in it.

As Mary stood beneath the Cross (John 19:25), she was Our Lady of Sorrows, but it does not say in the Gospel that she wept, for the Scriptures does say that “her soul was pierced” (Luke 2:39), in a union to Jesus only the “mother of The Lord” could have experienced (Lk.1:42). The Church, in recognizing her perfect devotion as disciple to Jesus, stands with her in this devotion, pondering The Sign of Jesus that now stands in Him as Lamb and Sacrifice for the “inner thoughts of many to be revealed.” (Lk.1:35)

“Jesus saw the disciple whom He loved (the apostle John) standing beside her (by Mary)…he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’” As the Church gathers to pray in active memory of Calvary, we look over to our blessed Mother, as Jesus has led us to do, and we ponder her sorrows there. We also realize that Mary had steadfast faith in the Will of God to triumph for humankind in the life of her Son, The Christ, and Lord. This devotion celebrates her faith amid(st) a hurting heart/soul.

“The Seven Dolors” are meditations of a Scriptural event involving Mary and Jesus’ Sacrifice, and they ask for a short meditation period, followed by a prayer and intercession. This prayer has been used by the Servite Order of Catholic religious since the 17th century, and it has Pope Pius VII’s formal approval, and there is a day on the official Church calendar to Our Lady of Sorrows, which is September 15, the day after the Feast of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14).

In conclusion to this prep for this devotion… What a model the Blessed Mother has given to us! Mary understood uniquely what the Will of God was for her Son, and the meaning of The Cross, and she was faithful to God constantly, never breaking, in co-operating with her Son. The “woman” who said at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” was this same Mary. She was in full trust that Jesus was God’s action in the world to save. Jesus’ Name meant “God saves” and Mary believed He was perfectly named. At Cana, Mary heard Jesus speak to her almost in a future tense, or prophetically, of all that was ahead in the climax of His ministry. He said: “Woman… (in speaking of reference to her request for new wine), what concern is that to you and to Me? My Hour has not yet come.” Later, Jesus would pour forth His Blood on the Cross, which was the New Wine of His Perfect Covenant. The Last Supper was about the start of many Holy Masses where He would fill chalices and cups with His Precious Blood. Mary would be witness to the New Covenant, as like a new Eve for a reborn world. His Hour is now upon us. Mary is calling us to the Lord. The Cana story ends with this verse: “Jesus…(in) this the first of His signs…revealed Hsi Glory; and his disciples believed in Him. (John2:11) Mary says: ‘Go to the altar of the Lord.’

She had prepared the victim for sacrifice and now she offered Him on the altar of Calvary. For this assistance, she is sometimes called as co-redemptrix. Yet the honor had a cost of bearing sorrow. The Gospel says: “Near the Cross of Jesus stood His mother…” (John 19:25a) O believer, behold Mary on Calvary, she suffers and prays; she stands, as one offering sacrifice, and she does so a mother who “…is blessed (as) she believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”(Luke 1:45) Mary said: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38a)

When Mary gave us her Son, she gave us everything. Behold this heart which has so greatly loved all people that it has spared nothing for them.

Let us pray: “O God, the journey of sorrow is a difficult one, indeed, and I sometimes refrain from walking it. Yet, let me walk with Mary, your wondrous first and perfect disciple, who is The Lady of Sorrows, and help me to learn my lessons from her, and by You, in the Blessed Son, and Your amazing offering for lowly sinners to be given salvation and promise.

Lord by Your Cross and Resurrection, You have set us free! O Lord Jesus, You are the Savior of the world! Mary is Your herald! Amen.

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1ST DEVOTION (OF 7)

sorrow1
1st Sorrow of Mary
The Presentation in the Temple

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Or Optional Ending * “and will be forever. Amen.”

Meditation:
Sorrow as sharp as a sword shall pierce Mary’s heart because of her Child. Mary is in the Temple, having come with Joseph to present the Child to God. They meet Simeon, the holy man, and Anna, the prophetess. Simeon takes the Baby in his arms, saying he will now die in peace because he has seen Christ, then he foretells the sorrow to come.

Prayer:
1. I grieve for you, O Mary, most sorrowful, in the affliction of your tender heart, upon the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by your heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy, respectful awe of God.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

sorrow2
2nd Sorrow of Mary
The Flight into Egypt

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
Soon the sword of sorrow strikes. Herod the King seeks to kill the Child. Warned in sleep by an angel, Joseph takes Jesus and His Mother Mary, setting out for Egypt, where they lived in obscurity and poverty until it was safe to return to Nazareth.

Prayer:
2. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of your most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and your sojourn there.
Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

sorrow3
3rd Sorrow of Mary
The Loss of Jesus for Three Days

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
When Jesus is twelve, He is taken to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. On the return journey Joseph and Mary find at the end of the first day that Jesus is not with them. Racked with anxiety, they search for Him. Nobody in the streets, not even the beggars, can tell them where He is. Not till the third day do they find Him, in the Temple.

Prayer:
3. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried your troubled heart at the lost of your dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

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4th Sorrow of Mary
The Way to Calvary

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
Mary has known fear and sorrow, but none so great as seeing her beloved Son stumbling under the weight of the Cross. She hears the jeering shouts from the crowd and has no power to help Him. Pity and love are in her eyes as she gazes at His blood-stained face. To many around her He is no better than a criminal, and her heart is breaking as she follows Him to Calvary or Golgotha.

Prayer:
4. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of your heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His cross. Dear Mother, by your heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

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5th Sorrow of Mary
The Crucifixion

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
With John, Mary stands at the foot of the Cross. “A sword shall pierce thy soul,” Simeon told her. Truly her heart is pierced with sorrow. Her beloved Son is dying and she shares in His suffering. She does not ask God to take away this agony. She is His Mother, so close to Him that His pain is hers, too. And now He speaks from the Cross: “Woman, behold thy son.” Jesus give His Mother to John, and to us. For all eternity she is our Mother.

Prayer:
5. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which your generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by your afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel or right judgment.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

sorrow6
6th Sorrow of Mary
The Descent from The Cross

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
It is over. Dark clouds have appeared in the sky and upon the world. Jesus is dead. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take down the Body from the Cross. Mary receives the limp Sacred Body in her arms. She is filled with a sadness that no human heart has known. This is her Son. Once she had cradled Him in her arms, listened to His voice, and watched Him working at the carpenter’s bench. She saw Him enjoying Himself at a wedding, discipling the apostles, teaching the Kingdom of God, and doing miracles of healing. Now He is dead. She does not weep, her grief is too great for tears.

Prayer:
6. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of your compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance before His Body was removed from the cross. Dear Mother, by your heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of
understanding.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me. ╬ (end)

sorrow7
7th Sorrow of Mary
The Burial of Jesus

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me ╬
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. as it was in the beginning, is now, *and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Meditation:
Hastily the Body is wrapped in a clean linen cloth. Nicodemus has brought myrrh and aloes, and the Body is bound in the Shroud with them. It is carried and placed nearby is a new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, and there they lay Jesus inside of it. Mary and John and the holy women follow them and watch as the great stone to the sepulchre is rolled over the front entrance. Roman soldiers place a guard there. It is the end.

Prayer:
7. I grieve for you, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched your most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by your heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Sorrows, please help me.

O Lord of Grace, I have prayed the 7 Sorrows of Mary. I pray that You have found a place in me to direct Your will. I pray that You may lead me, Your servant. Amen.

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THANKS FOR PRAYING ALONG.

Ash Wednesday–We Open Up Lent: A Message on “Mardi Gras”

Masses for Ash Wednesday at our parish our annually at 845 a.m., 430 p.m. and 730 p.m.   We start Lent and repent.     Remember Jonah and the Whale?  Jonah wasn’t ready to preach it and Ninveh wasn’t ready to hear it– but God was ready to have it happen.   He used a whale to get Jonah in place.  Thus ocean restaurant knows the story…as I took a photo of it.

I guess God is ready for us, even this early in February, to begin a season of repentance. Here we go. IMG_20150216_155548_843

On this Ash Wednesday, I read to you what I had put in the Sunday bulletin last weekend. It is a series of questions, to see if you are familiar with the term of “Paschal Mystery.” It’s our Lenten theme.

Do you know much about “The Paschal Mystery” of our Catholic faith? What do you know and understand? How do you understand The Paschal Mystery to be involved in our liturgies, and in our daily living? How is there always a dynamic and dialectic dimension to The Paschal Mystery (TPM) experience? How does that work out for you, and for the Church? What is its movement, and to where is its movement leading?
In recalling the background of our own Christian Pasch, what do know about the Passover remembrance and rites for the Jewish one? Then, in knowledge and understanding of that, what did Jesus do in fulfillment of the Jewish Passover, so as to give it His eternal reality and make it Christ-graced or “Christian?” How is His Pasch present in the Church? In Whom/for whom? Why is it present?

These are questions to prepare your thoughts for our Lenten Theme. We are meant to grow in TPM; Lent is a really good time to devote our focus into it. The Church especially prepares in Lent for its Holy Week celebration, when TPM is meant to be our heart and soul of the liturgies of the parish. Yet TPM is not just a Holy Week observance; it’s just heightened in awareness and participation and by the prayers and actions associated with the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.

I will preach and write on The Paschal Mystery (TPM) all through Lent. There will be much on the Pastor’s Blog, too, as I have done before in Advent with the Priest/Prophet/King/Fulfillment theme that I hope you benefited by in that Church season. Fr. Barry

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I am not sure what “Mardi Gras” translates into? ‘Great Party? ‘Last Hurrah?

Side note: I once met a man named Marty Grass, but he was no partier! Nor was he a religious man!

“Mardi Gras” is the name of a celebration held on the day and night before Lent opens. Thus, it is this Tuesday the 17th—as Ash Wednesday follows on the 18th. In some places, especially in Brazil, Caribbean places, and Mexico (and Hispanic parishes in the South and West, and in some Louisiana and Floridian parishes), there is a carnival atmosphere of partying before the season of Lent starts on the next morning (Ash Wednesday). Mardi Gras and its carnival founding were begun by religious people, I’m sure, and intended to be a good time of fun, and not about sin, but to eat the sweets and the pleasure foods away, and drink the party liquids away, and to get out of the system any fanciful folly before the seriousness of Lent started. After all, Ash Wednesday in the Church is the day of fasting, penance, repentance, self-denial and prayer that launches a penitential period for Catholics. So, the night of fun on (Fat) Tuesday was all about getting into the transition to Lent, and having a final fling of party and dance. “Right?!

If there was merriment in Lent, then it could be reserved to Sundays or Saturday nights in Lent—as Sunday (and its Vigil) are always feast days in the Church, all year round. (Note: Our parish social in March is on a Sunday.)

Somehow, the real spirit of Mardi Gras festival has gotten away from many partygoers. It has lost much of the spiritual meaning for people, as they just focus on the party, and not on what follows (Lent) and to where the coming season is leading us, towards Holy Week, the Lord’s Supper, The Cross, and the joy of the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

I hope we will show someone, by our own practice, what Lent really means, and why Mardi Gras, on a winter’s Tuesday, really is a party that has a special meaning about it.

Homily 6th Sunday of the Year, Feb. 15 “Don’t Give Offense”

God’s Word says today:  Don’t give offense.

ST. DAMIEN’S SITE IN HAWAII MolokaiKaluapapaStPhilomenaCemetaryAdj500x375        TWO OF TODAY’S READINGS MENTION LEPROSY, WHICH THE GOOD MISSIONARY FATHER DAMIEN TREATED HERE IN MOLOKAI IN A TOTAL SACRIFICE OF LOVE FOR OTHERS.  BLESSED ARE THE MEEK.

SEE THE FIVE LOAVES VIDEO TODAY ON OUR PARISH WEB SITE, AS IT IS FILMED AT THIS SAINT’S MISSION SITE, AND FEATURES A SONG OF HONOR  TO FR. DAMIEN’S LIFE, AND IT GIVES INSIGHT TO THE 1ST READING AND GOSPEL OF TODAY.   MY HOMILY IS MOSTLY ON THE EPISTLE’S LESSON.

“AVOID GIVING OFFENSE”

Our homily theme comes from the epistle of St. Paul and his three words of advice: “avoid giving offense.” It comes from the closing verses of 1st Corinthians 10. “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved.”

Paul is asking people to conduct themselves in a whole new manner, with salvation and the common good of all as our new goals for living. He is telling his Corinthian church community this message. This is a pretty radical challenge to selflessness in the church, because Corinth was pretty much a wild, arrogant, lustful, out-of-control place. The new believers had a major lifestyle change to make. Avoid giving offense is a statement from Paul saying: ‘Often you believing Corinthians ARE giving offense, and you need to turn from worldly ways to the new person you are called to be in Christ. See what changes you can make, in letting Christ live through you.’

Christ Jesus is the example for us, as His life in ministry shows us what kind of Person now lives in our hearts, and of what the Lord would want to effect in us, for some new “kingdom living.” The first chapter of Mark’s Gospel is where we go again (like in the past two Sunday gospels) to learn of Jesus, where we find ourselves in another curious healing situation. Jesus, the most powerful Person to ever walk the planet, has chosen to give His time to helping an incredibly gross-looking man. While others are put off by the leper, Jesus instead comes forward to him. (This is the spirit of the Savior Who lives in us today.)

Jesus heals a hopeless diseased man so that the person could be freed to get back into society and start living a regular life. Jesus has used His healing power very quietly yet effectively. Jesus is not put off by the ugly and sick condition of the man, he is surprisingly welcoming of the man. The man had called out to Him; Jesus had come over and helped. So many persons beforehand had been disgusted and repulsed by that leper, but Jesus was not put off by the man’s diseased condition. Interesting.

In this opening chapter of Mark’s Story of Jesus, the evangelist shows Him caring for the poor and needy, and notably, giving them real respect. (We have noticed this in our 4th, 5th & today’s 6th Sunday of Ordinary time Gospel passages.)

So we return back to Paul’s three words of advice to his church: “Don’t give offense.” If Jesus lives in His people, then what is expected is that others will see in us some notable real respect going on, particularly in the lives of the mature and serious members of The Faithful. The real committed members to Jesus and His Church will be interested in the salvation of many into Christ and His Church, as this is a big motive for not giving offense in our conduct. Paul explains: “I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved–Jews, Greeks, and of any for the church of God.” We don’t give offense so that a person might come to belief. We put no obstacle in their way. We ask but for repentance and need, really.

So, in today’s Mark 1 Gospel, the leper is made well. What now will he do with his life? We hear that he doesn’t start off so well, as he doesn’t do what Jesus asked of him— which was to see a priest to be officially declared well, AND not to make a huge spectacle of the healing, so that Jesus can keep working openly. The healed man’s lack of compliance makes for some problems ahead for Jesus’ ministry, as verse 45 says “as a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly, but worked off in deserted places.” Oh well, conversion and healing stories are not always so tidy. But a pleasant revelation here is that Jesus did not have a forced plan for the healed leper to follow. He had hoped the former leper would follow His recommended course, but the man was free to do what he pleased. Jesus does not have a forced discipleship. And, if the healed man was bewildered in his new found freedom and wellness, and running around announcing his healing and his glee to everyone, then so be it.

This revelation follows up on my homily of February 1st (or Super Bowl Sunday) when I contrasted our aggressive and obsessive culture, on display in America’s ‘ SuperBowl’ spectacle, (though it’s only a game)— to the example of Our Savior and His tempered power, as He comes not as a God of force to win us over, but a God of invitation and love and healing and of gathering people together in Him. (Mk. 1:21-28, see that Feb. 1 message and homily)

As I preached and commented back on February 1st, the selfish culture we are in today moves people to push and force and coerce and control and dominate, and all the like— and the riches go to the winner who can manipulate and move things to go their way. Jesus stands for something totally other! Does His Church and His people look like the counter-culture Jesus? We are supposed to–because He lives in us.

This is why Paul can speak his words of “not giving offense.” Where would we get the motivation and influence to be so considerate and loving? From our Savior inside. The Savior inside of us wants to love and help the world.

Jesus is in stark contrast to the world who are in hard competition with one another, with most people looking to get their way, by hook or by crook. He, rather, looks to lead us to compliment one another into communion and to freely share and to freely decide to come together under Him and to love by His Spirit.

The Lord Jesus wants us to learn to freely love one another; it is His new commandment. In this new life, we are, then, to avoid giving offense. He is saddened when the human family is “at one another,” or opposed to one another, or being against one another. He sees the many offenses flying about in our world. He wants to give you strength to defend your soul against those offenses. He wants to help you to see that there is a whole spiritual world going on in our midst, where we can either be about the work of His Kingdom and His Paschal Mystery going on in us, or we can go along with the ways of the world. But if we want Jesus to be glorified in us, then we have a Way provided for us. Jesus says: “Ask the Holy Spirit and He will help you.” (Luke 11:13) “He will teach you what to say.” (Luke 12:12)

That fits into what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 10:31-32 “Brothers and sisters, whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (And) Avoid giving offense…”
Paul says between the lines: ‘Corinth may be a cut-throat place, with offenders galore going about, but it shall not be so with you, new brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. You should live to the glory of God, not to the glory of self, nor in the inglorious ways of fallen humankind. Do everything for the glory of God. Conduct yourselves in His inspiration.’

Washington D.C. and its area today is also famous for being an area of some cut-throat actions and offenders galore and manipulation and control. In September the pontiff Francis will be coming to address the city and its politicians with the Gospel. I wonder just what Pope Francis is going to say here in September when he comes! He’ll need some anointed words like Paul gave to Corinth.

When Paul was pointing out what things to avoid in giving offense, he probably meant for the people to stop using cruel and injurious insults, ‘cut-downs’, vulgarity, negative ridicule, gossip, falsehoods, and the calumny that was regular activity in the city. Paul pleads for them to drop this arsenal of offenses and to be born anew to Divine Love and Unity in The Savior Jesus Christ.

In a more street level type of advice, I might leave us all with some parting words of wisdom that a Jerry Seinfeld-like speaker was dealing to his audience. He said: “What’s with the people who pretend to not to be so awful to you, with these kind of statements: “I don’t mean to be rude, but-“—and then they go on to be rude to you! What’s up with that? Didn’t they just say they didn’t mean to be rude? So, then, why contradict themselves and do it? And hurt you with their words? Note to yourself, this person actually wants to be rude to you, and this ‘warning shot’ should not get them off the hook with the rude thing they are prepared to say to you. No way. If they start off with “I don’t mean to be rude–” then I am interrupting them quickly and saying: “Then don’t! Stop right there! If you don’t mean to be rude, then don’t talk. That so-called excuse you just gave is not sufficient!
Note to self, too, don’t do this to others!

[The speaker goes on:] Here’s another one of their permit-me-to-be-ugly zingers: “This is only business, and not personal, but–“ Well, if you hear them say that, then I’d say you’d better get ready to hear the worst! And it will be personal! Or If they say to you: “Don’t take offense at this, but–” or “I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but—“ Or, “Dont get upset with this, but–” prepare to take incoming offensive remarks and for someone’s feelings to get hurt!” So, what’s up with that? Maybe you can say to them: ‘Hold it –if you are going to say something offensive to me, then don’t tell me how to feel. I just may have an outburst, ok?! Plus, get ready to own what you are about to say, pal, for it sounds like something bad is to come from your lips. And if I react badly, well–why shouldn’t I?’ How about not saying it at all?
“Don’t take offense at this?” What a crock!

Or Here’s another one: When a person leads off by saying: “Excuse my ‘french,’ but—“ what they are saying is that their next words will be vulgarity or cussing or swearing, and not anything actually in French! You might just stop them and say: I don’t like vulgarity, or whatever you are planning to say, whether actually in French or in English. So–just stop there! Comprende vu?

When St. Paul said “Avoid giving offense” He was saying something quite applicable to today, when people go around being quite insensitive, and aggressive, and me-centered culture, and mean too– with a lot of numbness to numb-skull words and insults and the like. Paul is saying: Christians don’t have to be that way. And when we are–it might get in the way of the Gospel and our call to reveal the Christ Who is in us.

So– let’s try to give Jesus’ example to the culture: to not be offensive, but to even be surprising in our courtesy, politeness, and sensitivity to others. Jesus certainly surprised everybody in today’s Gospel episode (Mark 1) with his kindness to the leper, rather than give the usual bad treatment or avoidance or look down upon attitude.
“Don’t give offense –but give Jesus—for the sake of someone’s soul—and winning over the many. As 1 Cor. 10:32-33 advises.
Amen.

Sunday Homily Feb. 8th Cardinal’s Appeal Sunday

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The clergy in the parish did not preach last Sunday. The homily was given by Cardinal Wuerl via cd. It was part homily and part promotion of this annual appeal for funding to charities and agencies in the Church of Washington.

I will write down here what I thought was the main point that His Eminence made with the Gospel story.

He reminded us that Sunday’s Markan Gospel was about Jesus and some of His apostles being in Capernaum. Jesus had been there healing so many persons from various maladies, ailments, sicknesses and even evil spirit possessions. It had been a large number. It was likely to attract larger numbers.
Yet, after a day of healings and attending to people, the Gospel informs us that Jesus left Capernaum to go pray and be alone. He was in some private place by Himself. The apostles located him, and told Him: “Everybody is looking for you.”

Evidently, Jesus’ healings, which included Simon Peter’s mother-in-law as its start, had caused quite a stir in Capernaum and many more were looking for the miracle man to heal them. Peter puts it largely: “Everybody is looking for you.”

Cardinal Wuerl compares this to how many people the Church sees who hunger for help. They want all kinds of help, but certainly charity and care. Our response to those pleas for assistance can bring “the healing touch of Christ” to them, and it can reveal Jesus in their midst, that hopefully the receiver of assistance can also respond in the soul to the Lord Who is in the helpers around them.

Certainly, as Mark’s gospel account today shows, Jesus was quite generous in his time to be with sick and needy persons. His “agenda” was certainly to take up time always for the poor and the desperate. Because of Who He was– He healed them. He had the power to heal.

The Cardinal would like us to be generous, too, in our dealings with people in our Archdiocese territories who are in need. He says that already we are so generous, but that we should continue to be this way, and keep reaching out. As an Archdiocese, the Cardinal’s Appeal is a coordinated and large way that all of us can put our help together to some special needs that are presented to our local church (Washington, under Wuerl), with a charitable response that says “we care” as an network (or Archdiocese) of parishes.

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In the other readings of Mass, we heard from Job, and we all know what suffering that good man went through.
We also heard from St. Paul, who was explaining how much he has tried to adjust his ministry to the various needs of people.

Remembering the “Doctors” of the Church

IMG_07881 St. Jerome, Doctor of Biblical Science

It has been a year-and-a-half since we covered the Doctors of the Church as a parish theme. ‘Remember? It was during the Year of Faith. It seems that every other week or so, we come upon one of the great Doctors on the Church calendar (for their feast days). Last week on Jan. 28th, we had the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Next on the calendar on Feb. 21st we’ll have the feast of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

As we go along and honor those Church Doctor days of the year, it helps me to recall our concentration on every one of them in that Year of Faith. We studied one of the Doctors for each of our weekends (in handouts and homilies), and we also had about eight films that year that I showed for us to learn some more things of that particular, wise saint. In my research for you, I put up a place on our web site for listings of each of them, according to their groupings of East/West, and period of history. I also put up the particular title of doctor, as described by the Church. I thought I would put that list up here on The Blog today.

WESTERN ROMAN CHURCH DOCTORS

1 St Ambrose, 340-397 (Pastoral-Doctor)
2 St Jerome, 345-420 (Doctor of-Biblical-Science)
3 St Augustine, 354-430 (Doctor-of-Grace)
4 St Gregory the Great, 540-604 (Doctor of Hymnology)

EASTERN CHURCH DOCTORS

5 St Athanasius, 295-373 (Doctor-of-Orthodoxy)
6 St Basil the Great, 330-379 (Doctor-of-Monasticism)
7 St Gregory Nazianzus, 330-390(Doctor ofTheologians)
8 St John Chrysostom, 345-407 (Doctor of Preachers)

EARLY CHURCH DOCTORS

9 St Ephraem, 306-373 (Doctor of Deacons and Poets)
10 St Hilary, 315-368 (Doctor of-Christ’s-Divinity)
11 St Cyril of Jerusalem, 315-387 (Doctor of Faith and against-Heresy)
12 St Cyril of Alexandria, 376-444 (Doctor-of-the Incarnation)
13 St Leo the Great, 390-461 (Doctor of Doctrine)
14 St Peter Chrysologus, 400-450 (Doctor of Homilies)
15 St Isidore, 560-636 (Doctor of Education)
16 St Bede the Venerable, 673-735 (Doctor of English History)
17 St John Damascene, 676-749 (Icon/Image Doctor)
18 St Peter Damian, 1007-1072 (Doctor of Reform and Renewal)

MIDDLE AGE CHURCH DOCTORS

19 St Hildegard de Bingen, 1098-1179 (Doctor of Mystic Marriage)
20 St Anselm, 1033-1109 (Doctor of Scholasticism)
21 St Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153 (Devotional and Eloquent Doctor)
22 St Anthony of Padua, 1195-1231(Evangelical Doctor)
23 St Albert the Great, 1200-1280 (Doctor of Science)
24 St Bonaventure, 1217-1274 (Seraphic Doctor)
25 St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274 (Angelic Doctor)
26 St Catherine of Siena, 1347-1379 (Doctor of Unity)

COUNTER REFORMATION CHURCH DOCTORS

27 St John of Avila, 1500-1569 (Doctor of Evangelization)
28 St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582 (Doctor of Prayer)
29 St Peter Canisius, 1521-1597 (Doctor of Catechetical Studies)
30 St John of the Cross, 1542-1591 (Mystical Doctor)
31 St Robert Bellarmine, 1542-1621 (Doctor of Church State Relations)
32 St Lawrence of Brindisi, 1559-1622 (Doctor of Conversions and Missions)
33 St Francis de Sales, 1567-1622 (Doctor of Authors and the Press)

MODERN ERA CHURCH DOCTORS (1700’s-2000’s)

34 St Alphonsus Liguori, 1696-1787 (Morality and Marian Doctor)
35 St Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897 (Doctor of Confidence and Missionaries)
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The naming of the Church Doctors did not follow in the above order; the listing is by the saint’s time period. The last Doctors chosen have been John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen (in 2012), Therese (in 1997) and Catherine of Siena and Theresa of Avila (in 1970). Numerous saints could be in future consideration to become “Doctors,” including Pope John Paul II, but now would be too soon to name him. I think that the Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus should be the next one to be named a Church Doctor. It would probably delight our own guest priest Fr. Rom, as he sits in the Duns Scotus chair at Catholic University. Since Pope Francis has a liking to his names’sake saint, it could be a possibility. Still, Pope Francis was a Jesuit priest all through up to his papacy, so if a Jesuit theologian is on any list for possible new Doctors of the Church, I would think the S.J. one might get a nod. But I am not sure which Jesuit that would be. Of recent candidates who have newly-shaped Church theology, Teilard de Chardin S.J. was a little too controversial in his cosmic Christ views, and a few noted Biblical theologians might have sided too much on their scientific methods of Form Criticism over faith perspectives to merit any consideration.

Still, it’s likely that Pope Francis will be interested in naming a new Doctor, with three added over by his past two predecessors. Another will be “due” ahead. I will guess here that the next added Doctor of the Church will be John Henry Newman of England, once his canonization goes through. (He is now a “blessed” of the Church.) He would be unique in that he was English, and would be the first English saint in modern times (17th century to present), and that he was a bishop who was a convert. It would make for a fascinating choice, one that Pope Francis would easily warm up to. Who knows? It might be in the works!

Recent Lists of Blogs (back to Jan. 1st)

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What?!  You haven’t been reading some of my blogs?

The list from now going back to January 1st

The Super Bowl Culture          Super Bowl Homily+      Guessing Game at Test Time     Charity and Service isn’t so much about Good Feelings     A Joke      Come and See (and Stay)+   Funeral Homily–A Pro Life message+    Immigration and the Book of Ruth Baptism of our Lord+   Baptismal Teachings 1 & 2      Favorite Photos    Epiphany+     New Year’s/Mother of God Feast      Cartoons.