A Eucharistic August leading to a Serran September

We just had the six Summer weekend gospels on Jesus, the Bread of Life.
My last two homilies were on Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence with us, and what His title of “Bread of Life” really means for us.

Today I would like to share about a missionary who came to America to pass on his love of the Eucharist. He came in the mid 1700’s when our land had very few Masses going on, with scant knowledge of the Lord, His Church, or His Message. This one man’s Catholic influence to America was so vast, that it is still going on two-and-a-half centuries here. He is remembered locally in DC with a statue of him under the Capitol building rotunda, and an outdoor mosaic on the east portico of the Basilica Shrine of Mary. On the west coast in California many places are named after him and even a major league baseball team.

Do you know who he is?

The team is the San Diego Padres, named for the founder of their city, Franciscan Friar and priest (padre) Junipero Serra.* He is the one who is being made a saint in Washington on September 23rd by Pope Francis. (*pronounced Yune ee PER oh)

Serra personally founded 9 Californian mission/cities. Others followed. They were founded as missions to bring Jesus and the Gift of His Eucharist.

Of Eucharistic Saints, I think of Fr. Serra. He is a great example of love of the Mass and its being spread to our continent in his missionary efforts. In the 1700’s he was in Italy living as a great Catholic philosophy teacher-priest, but he had a great movement growing in his heart to be a Franciscan missionary to the New World and to bring thw proclamation of the Lord and the Eucharist across the Atlantic. He wanted the Presence of Jesus to come to American soil. He had so treasured the Eucharist this way that he had to share it to the wirld’s other side.

Fr. Serra came to the Mexican missions first, in 1749, and then to the California missions in 1769 as the head of missions there, beginning in today’s San Diego. By 1784, he had helped several missions to start, between San Diego and up to San Francisco. The Sacraments were beginning in today’s California even before American Independence was forged in Philadelphia. Junipero died on August 28, 1784 and was laid to rest at the Carmel-Monterrey mission.

On Wednesday, Sept. 23rd, he will become Saint Junipero Serra– canonized by Pope Francis at the outdoor Washington D.C. Mass on the Catholic University campus. We can be grateful for this saint who brought the Eucharist across the Atlantic and over to the Pacfic to initially bless today’s USA west coast territory (of its mainland). While we have had Eucharist and Holy Mass in Maryland since 1634, California has had it, too,. since 1769. From sea to shining sea, this Land has been a Eucharistic land for peoples to know Jesus, The Bread of Life.
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There is more to learn on Padre and soon-to-be Saint Serra, and you can go to the parish website for one teaching on him (check out the banner and link on Serra).
I thought of today’s first reading as timely. It speaks of blessings falling upon the land of people who follow the Lord. It speaks about a favored people. Dueteronomy’s message (4:1-2,6-8) was put for the Israelites, but we can take some of those words to heart for America and what she has been given in the mission effort of the Church come here.

Moses said to the people: ‘Now, Israel, hear what which I am teaching you to observe,that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you… I enjoin you, observe the Ways of the Lord, your God….Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations…who will ask, for what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to them.”

In the Eucharist come to us, we have been given intimacy with God. In the Eucharist. Thanks to people like Saint- elect Padre Serra.

If Catholics can love the Eucharist here in today’s America in the way that Saint to be Serra did 250 years ago, then we could have people saying: How close is the Lord God to them!

A friendly exchange

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I was taking a walk with some friends in a neighborhood that was not ours. We saw a few persons who waved at us or gave a quick hello, yet, while passing by one house, a few people engaged us in conversation. After a minute or so, one of them asked me if I was Fr. John Barry. I said “yes.” Then we both came to mutual recognition and remembered a special moment we shared long sgo (pictured above).

She became excited. She remembered that her family asked me to be part of a surprise 25th wedding anniversary for her and her husband. I came and joined in the great family celebration. I blessed their renewal of vows. The event became one of the happiest days of her life.

She has kept a photo of it on her mantle for the last quarter century. Wow. And we just happened to meet when I ‘accidentally’ (providentially) walked by her (‘new’) house this week when she happened to be outside in front, talking to neighbors. Hmmm…

She also remembered lots of greetings after church on Sundays following that occasion. We had reached a connection.
Yet I got transfered to another parish far away and lost touch with people like herself at St. Mary’s.

It was so pleasant that 25 years later she recognized me passing by and had those memories so quick to share.

Her husband passed away last year. I was sad to learn of that, but the good part was it had been preceded by a long, happy marriage. She also informed me of the passing of another dear man of whom we both knew for years.

I have met some wonderful Catholics in my movement around the Archdiocese. I am happy when the Lord arranges for old faith partners (from my early parish stops) to intersect somewhere for a renewal of our ties. Thanks, Lord!

Celebrating the Year of Religious Life

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A VISIT FROM RELIGIOUS WOMEN TO ST EDWARD’S:

At all 8/29-30 Masses, The Daughters of St. Paul (Alexandria, Virginia) come to our parish, on invitation, as we commemorate the Year of Religious Life. We will hear some of their community’s story and witness in the Church.

The Daughters of St. Paul were founded On June 15, 1915. They are in the centennial year! This religious order have spread to 50 countries with radio TV and film media and internet ministries in 2015, led by 2400 Daughters of St Paul missionaries, and numbers of other affiliates and supporters. These women’s mission is to seek to be like Saint Paul as a communicator for Christ; they do so as a dedicated religious community. One Fr. James Alberioni in Italy had first started a congregation of men to influence the press (media) and then encouraged one Teresa Merlo to begin a group of women dedicated to the same goal. A women’s group started and their first project was to produce inexpensive catechisms. In 1922, nine women made perpetual vows for consecrated life in the name of Daughters of Saint Paul, and Teresa became the superior under the religious name of Mother Thecla. By 1926 the Daughters opened their first house in Rome so as to be at the side of the pope in the apostolate to the communications realm. In 1931 they opened their first foreign foundation in Brazil, and the next year arrived in New York City to begin their USA work. Today the Daughters have spread wide across North America, from Manhattan, to Alexandria (VA) and to Charleston (SC), Miami, Metairie (Louisiana), San Antonio, Chicago, St Louis, Los Angeles, Redwood City (CA) San Diego, Honolulu, Toronto-Ontario and back to Dedham (Boston).

In 1956 Cardinal Cushing of Boston asked their religious order to establish their novitiate house and their publishing apostolate in the Boston, where the Daughters are centered today for their North American work. They have two media centers in LA and New York, too. They are known for their bookstores across the nation, as like in Alexandria.

You can easily visit their bookstore. It is in Old Town Alexandria, and it’s open six days of the week. You can google Pauline Books and Media to see what they have online.

VOCATION GLOSSARY
Vocation: A discerned calling to service of God for the Church.
Consecrated Religious Brother: A member of a men’s religious order who is not in Holy Orders but engages in the work of the order. Members typically take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Consecrated Religious Sister: A member of a religious order or congregation of women devoted to active service or meditation. Members typically take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Novice: A person who has been accepted into a religious order and who is undergoing a period of training.
Novitiate: The period a novice spends in training, before vows, usually 1-3 years, for a community.
Vow: An act of devotion in which persons dedicate themselves to God or to promise God some good work.
Profession: The taking of vows upon joining a religious order.
Renewal of Vows: Sisters and brothers make renewable vows, and can leave freely.
Perpetual Vows: The commitment of lifelong religious life.
Convent: A home for religious women.
Motherhouse: Headquarters/retirement house of the community.

The Eucharistic Jesus Homily 8/23 21st Sun. “B”

Receiving the Eucharist is a very big deal. In two overused words of today, but good for sincerely describing the Eucharist: It’s HUGE. It’s AWESOME.
To put it a little more correctly. He is HUGE. He is AWESOME. Because The Eucharist is really JESUS. (Not really an “it.”) Yet Jesus makes Himself, as God, a little disguised! By faith we can see Him. By faith we can say: “Lord, to Whom else would we go?! (Though others may leave you or disregard you–I cannot) You have the words and bread of everlasting life!”

Just because Our Lord Jesus chooses to come under the form of bread and wine as Eucharist to us, it doesn’t mean that our fidelity or reverence or response to Him should be any less than if He appeared in a magnificent vision to us. He is the One and the Same Bread of Life, Eternal Son and Savior to us, Jesus Christ. It is God’s choice in the Son to be with us this way as Eucharist, and in the Flesh as One of us in human history. Yet I think that people easily under-regard Jesus or disrespect Him or under-appreciate Him sometimes. Just because of the Way God chooses to humbly meet us–as in Eucharist. This homily is to remind us to watch out for that.

When somebody of great importance comes humbly to meet us, just because they come casually or without fanfare, it doesn’t mean that the encounter is of any lesser stature. (So it is with Christ as Eucharist.) In fact, if the figure of renown has purposely come “at ease” for the reason to put the person they are seeing at ease, then the dignity of the meeting may even be greater, because the Great Figure has even adjusted things on their end all for the person on the receiving end. What an accommodation! What an honor by the One of Honor! (So it is with Jesus to us.)

Let me give an example. In the first hundred and twenty five years of US history, not everyone knew what the president looked like, or where he was. A president took a vacation back to his home state, but without the public’s knowledge, so he could have some rest and catch up with family. The president had heard about a fine man running for mayor of his former Indiana home town, and that this man often dined at noon at a new corner luncheonette in town to talk with voters. The vacationing president wanted to offer that candidate some tips to help him win that election. So, he chose to casually walk alone into the luncheonette one Saturday, unnoticed for who he was, and there he saw the mayoral candidate, and sat next to him onto a stool at the diner counter, and ordered himself a coffee and a blt sandwich. That candidate saw the stranger and asked: “From out of town?” The president answered: “Yes, but long ago I lived here on North Delaware Street… I understand you are running for office.” The candidate nodded, and mentioned a few of his campaign positions. After listening, this president, still unrecognized there, said: “Can I offer a few suggestions and interests to you that a candidate could benefit by in a mayoral platform here?” The candidate said, “Well, you’re a stranger and outsider now and all that, so, let me just be polite enough to say, ‘I’m not interested’, as I mean, how could your advice help me?” The conversation abruptly ended with that. Both men finished their lunches, but in readying to go, the candidate said: “Perhaps I could listen to a couple of ideas from you, as you said, you once had roots here. I don’t mean to be rude, feller.” With that, the president offered him some advice about the kind of unaddressed concerns that he had heard would mean much to the town voters, and could make all the difference in their votes. The candidate took that advice, and went on later to win the election by it. It had been quite the encounter, he would realize, that was had at that luncheonette.

Not knowing who had met him in the luncheonette that day, the new mayor (now) went out to North Delaware Street to see if any residents there might have remembered the out-of-towner who had visited his native place that Summer week. Someone did know the person, and they smiled and said to the new mayor: “That stranger you met was our current President Benjamin Harrison, home here to Indiana for a vacation to see us, his kin. We understand he went to see you, to pass on advice for your sure victory, though he went as a common man into that luncheonette. It’s great that you took in his wisdom. He had heard about you and wanted to help you to win, and we see you did! Benjy–er, that is, President Harrison expressed that he’d like to keep up with you by mail–if that’s alright.”
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And so it was that the Indianan learned who had so blessed him that Summer day.

Jesus comes in a ‘disguise’ (as singer Rich Mullins and Catholic Brennan Manning, author of “The Ragamuffin Gospel” describe the Eucharistic Presence). He comes to this Altar Table of His Catholic Church, His home, to sup with us, teach us, and hopefully inspire us to holy, victorious Christian lives. Yet his Eucharistic disguise and His words via a Lectionary and Bible verses may make it a little less obvious we are in the company of the King of Kings. Still–this is His special meeting place. He has set it up so to bless us. We easily can miss the dynamics of it all, the unbelievable goodness of God to afford time to come personally to us, and to touch us personally, Sacramentally. It is really Him here, the Bread of Life. It is pretty huge and awesome, but downplayed, because the Lord likes to present Himself humbly to His own, and not overwhelm us by His position and power and importance. He is Bread of Life to us, Jesus, our brother, the friendly person at the counter with us, as in having a blt and coffee with us.

The Eucharist can just seem to be some small, round, bread pieces passed out after a religious hour in church, of some symbolic reminder of our good Jesus of Nazareth Who sat down with friends at the Last Supper or other meals. Yet He is SO MUCH MORE than mere appearance shows, and much more than just a symbolic memory with us. He is REAL PRESENCE. He is the Lord ‘hiding’ but not-so-hiding in the Sacrament. He is the Bread of Life. He comes to bless us. We need His wisdom, His supply of grace, and His inspiration to live better than just on the human plane. We are invited to be God’s children now, and for what is impossible for man, nothing is impossible if he or she live on the grace of God, then all things are possible! By the Bread of Life, all is possible!

Let us hope, for ourselves, you and I, that we don’t put obstacles in the way, or sins versus His humility or His Eucharist or in-the-flesh coming. Some people, even in the Church, still don’t get it of how important our encounter with the Lord is here at Holy Mass and His Word and in His Eucharist. Let us resolve to get our end together and be in the disposition to receive what the Lord wants to give us. Like Joshua said in the first reading, about spiritual resolve: “As for me and my house, we will first serve the Lord.”

What is contained in Jesus, The Bread of Life, in He Who comes to us? He is the new life, the new covenant, and strength, and connection with the Divine.
Even in one host so fittingly and lovingly received, we can overcome whatever weakness it is that we have going on in our lives. What is a weakness you know you have? Do you want Jesus to help you to the strength of new life? Pray the Communion prayer well: “Lord, I am not worthy… but only say the Word–be well–and I shall be healed.” My will is bent to Your will.

If you have a weak will, or weak faith right now–and you see some serious sins of commission or ones of serious omission in your life, then go to confession. It returns you to disposition for the Eucharist. For the Lord in Sacrament wants to bring us new life in His new covenant, with strength, for faithfulness.

Amen.

Post Homily Cutting room floor>>>>>>>Follow-up Application

What can living a good Eucharistic life afford us? If Grace comes through worthy reception of the Eucharist….
It is possible to remain faithful in marriage or pre-marriage, and to not let adultery or fornication take over one’s life–in breaking the 6th or 9th Commandments.
It is possible to live in truth, and not let falsehoods and lies take your inner life away, so only to play a surface Christian, all in breaking the 8th Commandment.
It is possible to be respectful and honorable, above and beyond our normal means, and to live by mercy and humility and other-centeredness and more–all in keeping the 10th commandment or 4th Commandment.
It is possible to keep the 5th Commandment and to love life from conception to natural death, and not abide by a culture that denies such, and thinks its still ‘good.’
It is possible to live by a natural law of God, for we are His creation, and there IS a God design to our making, rather than make up our own subjective, relativistic rules of humankind to be in idolatry and violate the 1st Commandment.
It is possible to bless the Lord in all things, and see His Presence around you– rather than see only the world and its fallen-ness and things to curse or denounce or demean of it–which is the message of the 2nd Commandment.
It is possible to keep the Lord’s Day and/or a special encounter with God in your week at Mass, with is the 3rd Commandment, rather than push it out of the center. It is possible to meet God in Sacrament regularly, as in Reconciliation or Eucharist or in blessings in Holy Matrimony. By the Bread of Life it is possible. He is with us!!
It is possible to not hurt another, or harm them, with injurious words or actions or violations, which is what the 5th and 7th and 8th and 9th Commandments are about.

THIS LIFE OF BEING IN ACCORD WITH GOD/OTHERS/AND YOUR TRUE SELF IS ALL CENTERED ON KNOWING JESUS AS THE BREAD OF LIFE.

Jesus speaks to us in our Gospel today: “The one who eats this Bread of Life lives for ever!….My words are spirit and life to you, but there are some among you, my followers, who do not believe it….Do you wish to go away?” Can we answer that hard question with an answer like Peter’s? He said: “We have nowhere to go but after You. You have the words of everlasting life…You are the Holy One of God.”

We can answer with our lives of faith, too, that we truly believe in God’s Presence, and His Commandments, and that only by Jesus, the Bread of Life, can we be worthily presented to the Almighty Father to glory. So, I repeat this homily’s opening. We do not want to under-estimate or under-appreciate or disrespect in any way God’s coming to sup with us, and bide time at this altar and church. We want Encounter with the Bread of Life. We will need to forsake ourselves and we will need to get beyond surface-y faith or understandings. Just because Our Lord Jesus chooses to come under the form of bread and wine as Eucharist to us, it doesn’t mean that our fidelity or reverence or jubilation should be any less than if He appeared in a magnificent vision to us. He is the One and the Same Bread of Life, Eternal Son and Savior to us, Jesus Christ.

Bread of life Homily 8-16 20th Sunday “B”

The chaplain got off the cruise ship and headed to do a Sunday service at a church on Jamaica, when a stranger came up to him and said: “Give me some bread, Mon!” The chaplain-in-collar quickly got out his Bible and said: “I have my Bible right here with me–what scripture would you like to hear?” The Jamaican man shook his head and said: “No. Give me some bread, Mon!” and the chaplain reached into his travel bag and pulled out a sandwich and said: “Ok, I get it! Here–this will be tasty for you! ‘Want it?” But the Jamaican shook his head again and with frustration pointed to the chaplain’s wallet pocket and repeated: “Give me some bread, Mon!” The chaplain said:” Oh, it’s money you want, sir?! I’m a chaplain so I’m only carrying my passport. I actually do not have any money on me, but I can give you two-out-of-three of your bread requests!”

That little story, my friends, reminds me that the phrase “bread of life” can be understood in more than one way.

Particularly in the spiritual sense.

Firstly—“bread of life” can refer to God’s Word as in the Scriptures or in God’s imparted wisdom to us, thus to give us our daily bread of teaching. Secondly— “bread of life” can refer to inspired works where a community feeds the needs of others. Thirdly—“bread of life” can refer to the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist received. It is the main way Catholics relate to it.
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In today’s Acts of the Apostles reading, it pretty much mentions all three in how Jesus the Bread of Life was working among them. The first parish gathered to listen and feed upon the apostle’s teaching. They prayed and ate the Eucharist. And, they planned on the building up of the kingdom of God on how to spread Jesus’ love and influence and care out to the community and world.

Let’s review these three ways of how we know Jesus as “Bread of Life.” Firstly, Jesus is the Bread of Teaching. In the teaching ministry, the Lord feeds us with knowledge of Himself and His ways and how we are to live. I think of an example of a teaching ministry that we have placed on our parish website. Do you watch the show called “Between Sundays” there, that focuses on the Scripture and Liturgy themes of the week for Mass? That ministry does a good job at it; the Lord is moving through them.

There are also parish ministries of people gathering to survey the scriptures or spiritual material. I know of some persons who have trained themselves in the scriptures and now are leaders of a program called Little Rock Bible study in their parish. This is an example of someone loving the Bread of Life as teaching. And passing it on.

In our own parish the CWA formed a women’s Bible study and docrine group three years ago and it’s still going strong. They hunger for God’s teaching. I have joined in for their study of two full gospels so far.

Let’s go to the next category of Bread of Life practice. Another understanding of being with or in the Bread of Life is how the Word of God and the Holy Spirit move God’s own to do His loving works of goodness. For example, a ministry in DC called Bread for the City has been going on for a few decades, and it all started in a church basement, but now it has expanded to a couple of city food pantries as well as a medical clinic with a few weekday staff giving free medical help to people, assisted by many other medical volunteers on a rotating basis. These efforts are done by Christians who want the word to be given out to people hungry for its practice. People hunger for a God experience and I think God Himself inspires these actions to happen in Bread for the City.

On a local level, some people in the parish are collecting school supplies to donate to needy school kids. Boxes are by the doors.

Thirdly, The “Bread of Life” for Church goers has especially been understood as meaning the Eucharist or The Blessed Sacrament; this has been its main understanding for Christians since oue Faith’s very start. The Acts of the Apostles community and the one of John’s Gospel speak of Jesus as the Real Presence in Sacament–that those who truly partake in it have eternal life, according to Jesus. John 6 and its message today at Mass tells us how the Eucharistic hunger is the longing for God to personally commune with us, and we with Him, in the breaking of the bread and Holy Communion.
It is a most intimate encounter with God, and it’s Jesus very Body and Blood given to us, and not just a symbolic thing, or some religious ritual.

In extra Bread of Life love, I think of daily Mass persons in parishes through the years. Some come to weekday Eucharist regularly with a special ongoing prayer request, and some others come on certain anniversaries of things for a special visit with God in Christ the Bread of Life, and still others come when specially prompted–and it is all in appeal to the Lord while being able to be in His special Presence, at table, and with reception of Him within them in Eucharist. These communicants come in non-obligation days purely for more Eucharist and to be close to God in that graced of the Sacrament. One retired person said that the best thing about it was being free to come to daily Mass. What a nice thing to hear!

This concludes my homily of three ways to approach the Bread of Life today. All three are linked to one another: the Teachings we feed on, The Eucharist will share and unite to Christ upon, and the mission to give Christ to the world as “Bread of Life.”

Church pray-ers

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COME AND WORSHIP THE LORD! FOR YOU ARE MEANT TO BE HIS PEOPLE, THE FLOCK THAT HE SHEPHERDS!
LISTEN TO HIS VOICE. AND LET HIM LEAD YOU IN THE WAY THAT YOU SHOULD GO.

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IF YOU ARE A FOLLOWER OF THE LORD, THEN YOU SHOULD BE SEEN WHERE HE GATHERS AND RENEWS HIS OWN EVERY SUNDAY: IN A CHURCH.

The New Ark of the Covenant: The Assumption of Mary

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Today we give thanks to God for the grace and favor bestowed on Mary, Jesus’ Mother, this sinless Woman and Queen of all saints, for God gave her an assumption of body and soul into heaven at the end of her life. It was a fitting reward for her, this faithful servant of The Lord.

When I ponder Mary’s Assumption, I associate it much with her title as the new Ark of the Covenant. This title refers to Mary as the New Testament fulfillment of something of the Hebrew (or “Old”) Testament, named as the Ark of the Covenant. In the Hebrew story before Christ came and lived among us as Jesus, God’s Son, there had been an encounter with God in the Exodus event. It was so special an encounter that they saved artifacts from that meeting with God and Moses and his family, and they put it in a remarkable golden tabernacle container, that was to be treated with utmost care and reverence.

Three main things of the divine encounter were saved into this “ark” container for Jewish remembrance: 1. the two tablets of stone containing the ten commandments which had been written by the hand of God, and 2. manna bread which had been kept in memorial of the miracle supply in the wilderness to sustain God’s people in pilgrimage home, and 3. 3.Aaron’s rod that budded.

The “Ark” was an important Promised Land connection in the Hebrew Covenant. When the God of that Covenant came personally to earth, Mary became the new model and heavenly model of the Fulfillment of that promise. How so?

Many Christian people remember the Moses story of his leading people back home to Israel, their promised land. We know of the chiseled rocks with God’s law on them and this artifact would remain a greatly important object to them, as well as a sample of the manna bread that came from Heaven, along with Aaron’s rod that had budded as a divine sign of blessing to the house (or tribe) of Levi. These three precious things were kept in this “ark” container, and the Great Temple was build to host the “ark of the covenant.” When the Hebrews lost that promised land, due to their neglect and indifference of faith living, enemies conquered the land, and the Ark went into hiding, and it hasn’t been seen since.

The Jews mourned its lost presence, and even in the times of Jesus’ life on earth, it was a big topic of discussion. If the Messiah came, wouldn’t he rebuild or restore the Temple, and return the ark there, so that this House of God and people of faith would have the precious ark back, to remember the Exodus times?

The Messiah came, in Jesus Christ, and He spoke that the “temple” would be His body, and by His death and resurrection and following events, the faithful pilgrims who sought the Homeland (or kingdom) of Heaven would also have their new “ark of the covenant.”

So, rather than being just a container, the new ark would be a person. Rather than honoring just a container that held the laws of God in crumbling rock with a container, this new ark would honorably have held the LawGiver Himself in her womb.

Rather that just revere the remains of the manna wafers that fell in the wilderness in the Book of Exodus story, the new ark would be flesh and the LawGiver Christ would be flesh of her flesh, and He would give of His Flesh to be salvation for the world, and means in The Eucharist, to cross over and into the kingdom of God by His Bread of Life Supplied. And, furthermore, the relic of what remained of the budded rod of Aaron, that had been in the first “ark” of the first official Levite priest, would be ‘updated’ greatly in the new Ark, who was Mary, Who had given to the world the Priest of Priests, The High Priest of Heaven, and associated with Mary with be the God of holiness, changing the world by the gift of her Son, who was forecast Scripturally to “rule over even Jacob’s (Israel’s) descendants forever with his rod (reign) that would never end (Luke 1:33).”

All this comes through Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant, also called the New Eve, for all that started through her, by the Way of Jesus.

So, she who brought Jesus into the world, became a far greater Ark of the Covenant than the original Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. The Old Ark disappeared, and is lost somewhere to maybe one day be found by archeologists– yet the New Ark disappeared in a different fashion– she went to Heaven. We call Mary’s Assumption into Heaven the Ark being put in the grandeur of God’s Temple in Heaven. She is bodily and spiritually taken into Heaven.

Today’s feast day honors this astounding thing. We now know that in heaven Mary continues to intercede for us, helping us to reach the goal of heaven which she enjoys. That is why we pray the famous Marian prayer line “…after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ!”

How did we end up giving Mary this honor and this title? Is it Biblical? Yes, often on this feast we include the readings from Revelation. In Revelation 11:19, it describes John the apostle’s vision of heaven in which he sees something which would startle his contemporaries – he says he sees the Ark of the Covenant. As we just said, The Ark of the Covenant had been missing for centuries before the time of Jesus and we can imagine the shock that John’s account would have caused in the first century as he related that he saw the ark in heaven, and that he then described it as a woman.

The people knew that John was the one who cared for Mary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. As the believers began the Way of the Lord, John had Mary often at Ephesus, or among the Ephesians. He knew Mary well, and he was very close to her. So, John would not be mistaken if he said that The Ark of the Covenant that he saw in his vision was Mary in Heaven. He also saw her in a new light. She was the new ark. The lost one need not be found. Mary was the living ark. The former one had prefigured her! What a revelation! And in the New Ark, he saw anew the three gifts in it:
1.Jesus the living Word of God, the Word made flesh (not just written on stone as in the Old Testament),and
2.Jesus the Bread of Life (John 6) the fulfillment of the manna of the Old Testament, and
3.Jesus the Priest of God of a New Eternal Covenant, and, by his natural parent on earth (and foster father), He was even a descendant of Aaron!

So the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament was pointing forward to a far greater Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament, who came to be Mary, who carried the living word of God, Jesus. In the middle of the Old Covenant story, King David and King Solomon go to much effort to give reverence and honor to the signs and symbols of the (ultimately successful) Exodus of the Jews back home. Now, in the New Covenant story, the Church gives much effort to give reverence and honor to the New Ark, particularly, since she was so special to Jesus, God’s only Son, our Savior Divine.

If take it to the ultimate conclusion, when we will reach heaven, we expect to dance for joy like David (2 Sam. 6:5) over God’s people having come home to the Temple of God to give Him fitting worship. We will look back at how we honored Mary on earth in the Church, and be glad, and realize that God had given us Mary for secret help and holy power and friendship in the Church, and as our model. King David once called out, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” in 2 Sam 6:9–as he was glad to be near the object which contained the divine symbols of encounter with the living God. We should start falling into awe with the same statement of David, in asking: “How would the Ark of the Lord in Mary, come to me, when I am weak in faith, and sometimes ignorant?” We could also benefit from remembering that St. Elizabeth once called out to Mary in these same words (Luke 1:43): “Why is this granted me, a so undeserving one, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

After John the Apostle (and writer of Revelations) sees the Ark of the Covenant in heaven in that vision, he sees another vision, as if to confirm that Mary is indeed the Ark of the Covenant of the New Testament; he sees “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…” (Rev 12:1)

Popes have reaffirmed this interpretation of this text. Events in history have too. The Revelations 12 form is that of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the tilma of St. Juan Diego. The woman in John’s vision was pregnant and giving birth to a male child and at the same time a dragon was waiting to do harm to the child but both the mother and child were spared by divine intervention. We can understand this vision of John as Israel in the Old Testament giving birth to the Church in the New Testament and the dragon is the devil trying to destroy the Church.

An even better way to understand John’s vision is that the woman is Mary, the Ark of the Covenant in the New Testament, and she is helping each of us to come to birth spiritually because she is the Mother of the Church and the devil is making war on us. Mary’s Assumption into heaven, having completed her life while remaining sinless, reminds us, as Saint and Pope John Paul II said, (that) the goal of the Church is Heaven. We pray that one day the whole Church may be in heaven pure and holy like Mary in heaven, as the sainted pontiff said: “in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle.” (Redemptoris Mater §47)

Mary has a role to play from Heaven to earth. Her Son Jesus allows it. In Heaven, Mary, as Mother of the Church, cares for us here on earth, helping us to become more like her son Jesus. She can visit or bless us or love us like a mother. Pope Paul VI, stated, “We believe that the Most Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, the Mother of the Church, carries on in heaven her maternal role with regard to the members of Christ, cooperating in the birth and development of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.” Saint and Pope Pius the Tenth added, that Mary the Assumption, as giving birth in Rev. 12
“was the birth of us who, still in exile, are yet to be generated to the perfect charity of God, and to eternal happiness. And the birth pains show the love and desire with which the Virgin from heaven above watches over us, and strives with unwearying prayer to bring about the fulfillment of the number of the elect.” (Ad diem illum laetissimum §24)

It is all very interesting and mysterious isn’t it? And it’s OUR mystery cherished.

Gregory of Narek and Holy Thursday living

I had a talk with a couple of persons about Cross Living with St. Gregory of Narek and/or Pope Francis. They have given me some post-homily reflections to share concerning the Eucharist and of Holy Thursday’s meaning for us Catholics. Since John 6 is our Sunday gospel most of this month of August, it seems appropriate to add these comments on how the Lord set up His Eucharist and its context on His Holy Thursday Institution.
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St. Gregory of Narek

We are all in this world experience and life together: This is what St. Gregory of Narek taught. It is a profound level up in maturity in Christian living. A couple of people reminded me this week of how Jesus’ final words on Holy Thursday gave us instructions in this deep way of following Jesus.

At that first Holy Thursday, Jesus taught four main things:
A) we are to love one another in Him (as by His new commandment—which by the way includes loving our enemies as Christ would, and not just loving our family and friends or neighbors)
B) we are to serve one another profoundly (as in the example of Jesus’ washing feet).
C) we are to partake in Jesus’ True Body and Blood, as Sunday’s Gospel of John 6 says to us, and which we have in Mass
D) and we are to head out to watch and pray privately with Our Lord, as in a Garden of Gethsename with Jesus.

Warning Lights 19th Sunday of the Year Homily

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When you get ready to drive off on a out-of-town vacation, one thing you shouldn’t ignore from your car are those warning lights on the dashboard, such as for low tire pressure, or low oil, or more so, for engine trouble. Ignore those warnings and you may not get very far from your own neighborhood on that long-anticipated trip.

When it comes to the ultimate trip, our after life, and getting to Heaven, there are admonitions that the Word of God asks us to seriously consider. They are like red warning lights for humanity. Today’s Scriptures point some out. First, you ought to hesitate on heading on in any murmuring spirit against the Truth of Jesus, God’s Son. Second, you do not want to grieve the Holy Spirit by carrying on in bitterness and with serious anger in ‘your tank.’ (That is–your mind and heart.)

Those warning lights come from God’s Word today.
From the Gospel of John chapter 6 — Murmuring and doubt and quick, assumptive human judgment proves awful. Someone might totally miss out on God’s visitation to them by it.
From the Ephesians Epistle chapter 4 — Bitterness and an inner, furious anger within the community can impede the receptivity of God’s Spirit in said community. It can turn things really bad for everyone.

While we could talk about the foolishness of opposing God by such actions or attitudes…. and we could talk about how our neighbor does not deserve any of our foul living dumped upon them, nor we have it dumped on us from others…. I’d rather like to go to the further point, that: These sins done OUTWARDLY to somebody or The Someone are eventually SERIOUS sins directed against our OWN SELVES. We are self-afflicting in the murmuring spirit and we are self-hating in practicing bitterness and the ongoing hostility on another person or persons! And that is no healthy condition to be in out there ‘ driving’ on the roadway of life. One’s due for a big vehicle failure!

Now–God wants to help us. He wants us to accept and embrace ourselves as creations in His Own Image. He desires for us to truly love and respect ourselves, as being His own dear sons and daughters (as today’s opening prayer of Mass states).
He doesn’t want to see a breakdown on our path of life.

I had a nice story last Summer about averting a breakdown on the highway. I decided to rent a vehicle for a long trip with some friends, as we drove out to Western Pennsylvania and to Ohio and to West Virginia. While driving out the mid-county connector 200 to get out to Rt. 70 West in Montgomery County, the Enterprise rental car dashboard indicated a red warning light. It indicated a sudden low tire pressure. Rather than ignore the warning, I instead paid immediate attention to it. I pulled off to the side of the road, and I saw that a tire had been punctured and was losing air. I called Enterprise and they said to come to a nearby rental outlet soon. I did, as there was one nearby in Gaithersburg. I got over there, and before the tire was too low to drive. Enterprise Rental Cars had a new car waiting for us, an upgrade, gassed up full, and with the air conditioning on, and they even moved our luggage for us from the one car to the other. That was a breakdown averted. And God is even much better than Enterprise, in that He is always there to aid our lives to travel well on the highway of life, helping us out of the attitudes that could curtail our destination to Him. (He also has eternal life and Heaven in mind for me, and not just Ohio and back!)

In life and its roadways, though, you have lots of people hurtling around in demeaning judgments and malice and festering anger. The ‘hot drivers’ are influencing everybody to be mean on the road, but let’s not get that way! Some people are so far from a faithful life under God’s reign that anger and a belittling spirit (the two warning lights in Scripture today)— that they are like a rattlesnake sometimes. Do you know that a rattlesnake, if cornered, will sometimes become so angry it will bite itself? That is exactly what the harboring of hate and resentment against others is— it’s a biting of oneself. We think that we are harming others in holding these ‘spites,’ and hates, but the deeper harm is to ourselves. Even in the hidden aggression and private resentments we hold with others, we end up hurting ourselves! We need a spirit of contrition if we are hoping to settle things aright. Or else it festers and does real harm against ourselves and our standing with God.

God is there to assist us to learn how to love ourselves rightly, acting as images of His making and design. We will learn from there how to live in community, as all of humanity was also designed to do.

Allow me to take a second sweep of these Scripture examples today. That warning light of murmuring is twice named a problem by Jesus in John 6 today. Murmuring was the same sin made by the Exodus pilgrims that had them get lost and circling around aimlessly in the wilderness. Now Jesus was referring to that past sin as to say that it was happening again. If the people did not have faith and accept Him as the Eucharist of Life, they’d lose their way in life and their unity would break down. Jesus was professing The Truth in this key teaching on Himself as the Bread of Life sent down from Heaven. He says that even much more than Exodus Manna, He was the True Bread come from the Everlasting Father, and One with Him in divinity, even while joining in humanity. Yet many in the crowd set themselves against Him, as if He were teaching something crazy. They spoke under their breath, made whisperings of strong opposition, and gave raised eyebrows of judgment, with the look of arrogant bewilderment against Jesus. Just like those mistaken travelers in the stalled Exodus.

Jesus addresses that murmuring. He does not make light of it. He says it WILL impede one’s way to the Everlasting Father. Woah!! That is one of the strongest statements Jesus ever makes! He makes it right after offering Himself in a most intimate way to the people– to be the Food of Life for them and our soul’s nourishment. They reject this offer, and belittle Him and his family in their response. They murmur. The people were quietly ridiculing Him of just being an ordinary nobody from Nazareth. Jesus, in a sense, says: ‘Stop that attitude. Or you’ll not be able to be taught something special by God.’ My friends and co-travelers seeking Heaven, Jesus has a warning light to some of us that are guilty of the belittling attitude, the poor words of comment, and the under-estimating of Him as Bread of Life and the Eucharist
and as a Real Presence to us in the world. Respond to your red light.

Murmuring may seem outward in action, but it robs us more inwardly, as we sell short the very life-giving things we need of God, and of others He has put in our life as blessing.

Now–lets look again at the other warning light on the dashboard of life. The admonition of God’s Word in Ephesians 4 wants us to deal with bitterness and all. God wants all forms of sinful anger to be dealt with by the people of His flock. This message in Ephesians is not given to non-believers or to novice believers, but to Christians in practice of The Faith. They still were ‘driving around’ in bitterness. Bitterness is defined as anger over a long period of time that has been allowed to grow and fester to be a dilemma. The word bitterness in the Bible comes from a word that means bitter, gall, a bitter root that produces bitter fruit. Therefore, bitterness is not a surface problem, but we got to get to the roots of things, and our Faith can take us there for God’s work of conversion. Anger comes from a word that means agitation of the soul, a violent emotion, evoking wrath.

Red warning lights come on when we are living in this manner and saying we are a Christ-follower.

The thing about emotions is they also affect your body, not just the soul, and we can bodily have raised tensions and blood pressure. Anger and bitterness can do a number on us—-leading to muscle cramps, heart racing, blood ailments, loss of sleep, blood sugar problems, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive malfunctions. While doctors have all kinds of medical prescriptions associated with these disorders, have you considered that there may be ways to health by addressing spiritual areas of your life? The spiritual solution may take away the need for all kind of pills.

Negative behavior like exercising bitterness can make a lot of others sick, emotionally and then physically and more. Is there a situation in your life that has made you bitter or angry ? Maybe it’s family. Family issues and relations can bring the worst emotions in us. Is a key relationship in your family full of bitterness? Maybe it’s work related? Nothing can ruin your day faster or more completely than a job you hate or a situation there that you greatly dislike. Are you dealing with anger and bitterness? Or perhaps the better question is “How do we stop falling in these traps?” Paul has given us the whole book of Ephesians with answers, but he basically says that we can live to the pleasure of God, and learn anew of His compassion and mercy and kingdom life, and we can deal with the ‘unpleasantries’ of life, and to not collect anger, but process it in Christ, and even to let it go.

We have our situations in life to all deal with. I was impressed by the faith of a parishioner who dealt with an issue that could have remained a festering resentment, yet she addressed it. She became free of its hold on her. Now she is taking on other challenges, perhaps just as hard, but learning to give the Living Christ His Lordship and Lead in her life. Jesus is more that just a carpenter; He is our Savior and Deliverer and our Freedom. CONCLUSION: There are some nice stories of people in the Bible who were once bitter, but they were changed by God. In the Book of Ruth, Naomi renames herself to be called “bitter” and thinks that nothing will change her situations of loss and hurt. Yet, she gets the support of Ruth, and the story ends with the salvation of their family by a family redeemer, and a happy marriage is made of Ezra to Ruth, with Naomi being part of the house as grandmother and a welcome mother-in-law.
Hannah of the Hebrew Bible was able to pour out her bitterness to the Lord and she found God’s help and mercy.
There are some nice stories of people in the Bible who were once selling God short and complaining. Our first reading with the prophet Elijah has him wandering out into the desert and sitting under a broom tree, and saying: God, I should just die right here. Take me now. God didn’t let him feel comfortable with that belittling spirit, but helped Elijah to get up, eat, and move forward. So, let us, get up, eat the Eucharist with faith today, and see where God has us to go next.

And if we see red lights on the dashboard, you can call Enterprise if you are in one of their vehicles, but if it is about your life, call on God.
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True Colors

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I heard the phrase ” true colors” sung out recently. It was being misapplied to something of a coming out in sin, of revealing one’s sinful inclinations, but I have understood the original phrase and the famed song in its name as to mean to let truth shine out through your person. It is to celebrate the honest and good beauty of God’s life within you.

The modern, pop song encourages its hearer to don’t be afraid to let that true color goodness shine through. (The True Colors writer confirms this as the song’s meaning–in an interview.)

Recently, I have been noticing many stories about colors in the media. In most of them they remark how much people are truly still fascinated by the colors in life and how they lift spirits. One article I read about a Catholic artist mentioned the religious power of art, as IT imitates the Creator’s love of colors.

The morning paper has a story on color today, too, on the use of colors.

I was just at a Summer event people watching and one little girl’s happiness with her new colorful shoes brought a smile to my face. So did a little sunset walk looking at the pinks and golds in the Summer evening sky over me.

Colors can certainly inspire happiness.

I was reading some trivia questions concerning colors. I am going to start off by asking you to try your luck at answering them. They are not easy ones. One question is from District Trivia (featured in the Post this Sat. a.m.) and the other is from Jeopardy. I will ask them both to you and go and try to guess the correct answer:
Color Trivia Q #1.
4 Colors in a box of 64 Crayola crayons have four letter names. Name them!
Take 60-90 seconds to answer. I will tell you what answers I came up with, later…

Color Trivia Q #2.
This major league baseball teams’s official colors are Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and Black. Who are they?
Take another 60-90 seconds to answer. I will tell you what answer I came up with, later.

Did you see the big “blue moon” last night? It was pretty cool. It wasn’t actually blue, but the moon did come up appearing big and bright. I didn’t have the occasion to shoot a photo of it, so in honor of the rare occasion (of a second full moon in the night sky in the same month), I have posted a picture of blue jars and also a moon coming up over the horizon. Glance back and forth at them rapidly, and you might get your blue moon!

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Someone snapped this pic of a Blue Moon, but it wasn’t the right Blue Moon that I was looking for! But I wouldn’t mind a taste of it!IMG_20150801_112756_488

We’ll get to the trivia answers down below, but I thought I’d speak about my experience of colors that I had at a quilt store with words from one of its makers. It was last month when I visited a store that sold authentic, home-made American quilts. It was a lovely display of the love of color! While I didn’t buy (nor need) a quilt, they were so delightful to look at, and it almost had me buying one, just to bring home the joy!

I went to the website of one of the quilters, and I wasn’t surprised to read of her joy of putting all the true colors into her work. She felt it was a calling from God, and that it was her work of prayer, and a gift of love to the world. I have included some of her web comments on “Me and my love of color.”

“I am Alissa Marie… I’ve been an artist my whole life and have ALWAYS been drawn to color and making things. When I started quilting, it was like something clicked. I can take my love of colors and love of everything logical and make my colors have a place. A space for them, a place for them, somewhere they fit and should be. Quilting and sewing things out of fabric just makes me happy… I love color; most any color really. Although there are some I’m not hugely fond of, if its colorful, I’m in. And in my life, the richer and more luscious ones rule. As a hair stylist by trade, I have to know color. Thankfully, I’ve been good with color my whole life. My mom always asks me to help pick out colors for her walls and I always tell my mom she can learn, it’s easy….(as in) not that blue, it’s too bright, and that one is too green, and that one over there will be purple in the sunlight, so duh, it’s this one right here! I mean, how can you not see that??… With colors–I’m also what you call a coordinator. In my head, how do you not coordinate that marigold with that peacock blue? It’s obvious! That is also why a lot of our quilts always looks great!…
(As a Quilter I follow some simple color guidelines. You need to know level, tone, and contrast.)
1) Level. This describes as to how light or dark is your color. Generally, light colors bring feelings of light, airiness, and brings things forward (think of floating white clouds). The deeper the color, the heavier the feeling, and further things recede (think of a cave). When making your quilts, you look at the blocks. Whichever elements you want to bring to the forefront you make lighter; conversely, any elements you want to recede use something darker.
2) Tone. I think of tone as where in the color spectrum each color lives; warm vs. cool. Is the green a yellowy grass green? More blue like sea foam? Is the purple closer to a magenta? Or an Indigo? The tone is important when color coordinating. Even colors at a similar level, maybe a deep yellowy pea green, and a brighter indigo blue will have contrast because of the warm green and the cool blue. I pay attention to the tones of the colors.
3) Contrast. Contrast will make your patterns pop, and show off your blocks more. You can use the obvious level of colors, black and white, or light and dark; but another way to show contrast is by using tone, use both warm and cool colors.
If you’d like to see how “good” at color you are, take the X-rite Pantone color test. http://www.xrite.com/online-color-test-challenge…”

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Hello again from Papa John, your blogger! I was fascinated by the quilts and the quilter, so I hoped you liked that excerpt above. Now we are ready for the answers to the Trivia Questions.

4 Colors in a box of 64 Crayola crayons have four letter names. Name them!

What did you answer? I came up with the following in a minute or so… Grey, Lime, Teal, Pear, Kiwi, and Plum. Obviously, I was going with fruity colors in my guessing.

The Correct Answer is: Grey, Gold, Blue, and Plum. (As the printed answer in the Wash. Post) Pink is not in the 64, says the article, but Carnation Pink is! Oh! Teal is not in the 64, but Aquamarine is! Oh!
And yes, I DID put those blue jars in the photo next to the trivia question to help you at least guess one correctly!

This major league baseball team’s official colors are Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and Black.

The Correct answer is the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, as they portray the unique colors to their Phoenix area of the USA. Being a baseball fan, I got that trivia question rather quickly. So did the Jeopardy contestant.

Here is a Bonus Trivia Question on Colors (for you, since you are so smart)
What are the Primary Colors and why are they so named?
Plus–True or False: You are a trichromat.

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The Primary Colors are red, green and blue.

We’ll give you credit if you put ultramarine blue or purple or purplish-red or purplish-blue or orangey-red or orangey-yellow, too. (The judges are in a good mood here.) The reason for these as primary colors is because of the human eye having basically three types of color receptors, called cone cells. Humans and other species with three such types of color receptors are known as trichromats. So, it’s true, that you are one!