He Did Not Have a Home ( Jesus at Christmas– come to take a residence in you)

POEM HE DID NOT HAVE A HOME HERE (UNTIL IT WAS YOUR HEART)

HE was born away from Home. To this earth HE came. This was not HIS Home.
But He had made this world. To it a Plan HE unfurled.

When our innocence had been lost/ humanity’s sin had cost/ our lost place with God hurt the most
Peace with God was broken/ our world was so mistaken.

HE came from Heaven so far away/ Conceived at Nazareth to Mary/ But to Bethlehem HE was carried
To be birthed away from home (Nazareth), while also Born Away from Home (Heaven).

The Holy Family HE resided in/ Were forced to a census in Bethlehem/ Though Mary still held HIM in.
Road travelers at a delicate time/ So lil’ Bethlehem had The Child Sublime

Christmas came to planet earth/This world of exiles had a birth/Of One Who could restore our worth
HE gave up much to be with us/ HIS dwelling place often would be homeless.

No, HE did not have a home/ Herod’s troops came a-rushing in/ To end the life of this rival son
So HE did not have a home/ to Africa His family roamed

Joseph whisked HIM fast away/ Intel came from the Magi’s word, say/ in haste The Family moved that day
To an undisclosed address/ to a hideaway digress.

Birds have nests, foxes have dens /but a homeplace wasn’t HIS on earth/ to which HE came to bless.
And HE had no earth address. HE really had no real address

But for a time back to Nazareth been/ And lived as a Nazarene/ Mary loved her son in this scene
Jesus lived here up to his teens/ then foster Joe passed on serene

Birds have nests, foxes have dens / but a homeplace wasn’t HIS on earth/ to which HE came to bless.
And HE had no earth address/ HE really had no real address

It was time for Him to move on/ Maybe to the mountains He went/ To prepare for Messiah’s Advent Praying with Essenes, then with His cousin John/ And neither had a home, no neither had a home.

Birds have nests, foxes have dens/ but-the-Ministry-started-in-the-wilderness So HE had no real address Except the Heavenly One So Blessed

Then HE heard a Voice from Home/ The-Father-spoke: Now Is The Time/ The Spirit gave a Holy Sign
The Son declared His holy line/ Repent, for now the Kingdom’s come/ Sinners hearts are to be won.
And HE went back to Nazareth/ And announced He was The One/ The Prophetic Only Son
In this only place He had laid His head/ Its citizens rose up to wish Him dead/ Because they said He just was Joseph’s kid/
So His home town rejected Him/ Yes His hometown rejected Him

Birds have nests, foxes have dens/ but the welcome was not His to this world He came to bless.
John 1:11 says no earth address/ but HE came to fix our mess.
HE did not have a home/yet HE stood by the Master Plan/ and invited people to be born again/ did John 1: 12, 13, 14 does explain/ That while You had no home for your head, You care about us instead

You preached out on the road/ There were places You visited frequently / You took off Your shoes and scratched Your feet / ‘Cause You knew that the whole world belonged to the meek/ And You taught about the Kingdom Come/ even while You did not have a home (here).

You did not take a wife/ There were pretty maids in a row/ lined up to touch the hem of Your robe But You had no place to take them So You did not take a wife, no You lived the solitary life

Birds have nests, foxes have dens/ But the home of the whole world rests/ On the shoulders of a homeless man/ You had the shoulders of a homeless man. (Except for the Heavenly One.)

You had no stones to throw / Came here without an axe to grind/ Did not tow the party line
No wonder sight came to the blind/ and justice to the condemned/ You had no stones to throw

And You rode a donkey’s foal/ They spread their coats and cut down palms/ For You and Your beast to walk upon/
But the world won’t find what it thinks it wants/ On the back of an asses foal/ so I guess You had to get sold.
’Cause the world can’t stand what it can’t own And it can’t own You ‘cause You did not have a home Birds have nests, foxes have dens
But the hope of the whole world rests On the shoulders of a homeless man … You had the shoulders of a homeless man.

Birds have nests, foxes have dens/ the hope of the world rests on the One/ Who calls Heaven home
And He’ll bring His people there/ He’ll bring His people there.

If you’ll make your heart His home/ If you’ll give it as His throne/
He wants it as His dwelling place/ so how HE lifts up the human race/ to be delivered to the Father’s Place/
“Cause there THEY have a Heavenly Home/ It’s a Vast Eternal One

The Son surrendered time from there/ HE came to take our sins away/The Cross we put Him on 1 day/ He felt abandoned at Calvary/
but HE rose to be victorious/ so our home hearts be glorious

A Prayer of St. Francis to inspire

St. Francis’ Prayer, of the Parchment Given to Brother Leo.

You are holy, Lord, you are the only God, you do wonders.
You are strong, you are great, you are the Most High.
You are the almighty King.
You, Holy Father, are King of Heaven and Earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God of Gods.
You are good, all good, the highest good.
Lord God, living and true.
You are Love, Charity.
You are wisdom; You are humility; You are patience;
You are beauty, You are meekness, You are security;
You are inner peace; You are joy; You are our hope and joy;
You are justice, You are moderation, You are all our riches
[You are enough for us].
You are beauty, You are meekness;
You are the Protector . You are our guardian and defender
You are strength; You are refreshment;
You are our hope; You are our faith, You are our charity;
You are all our sweetness,
You are our eternal life;
Great and wonderful Lord,
God Almighty, Merciful Savior

The Holy Family Sunday Homily

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PRAYER
On this feast of the Holy Family, I think of the popular devotion started by St. Francis of Assisi of the Christmas manger scene/set of Jesus, with Mary and Joseph, and animals and human and1451167524931878474377 angelic others all around and about the Babe. Here shows the family and their life which (who) will change the world, and in this Christmas octave we recall it at its beginning, there in Bethlehem. Let’s pray over here at the manger to the Holy Family to begin Mass:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor of true love, to you we turn with trust. Jesus, with You at the center of this union, all holiness and honor and love abounds. We seek you in the center of our families and our lives. Help us all in our families and our circles of relationships, and communities in the spirit, that you may be in us and blessing them.

Holy Family of Nazareth, we intercede for families in need, especially all the displaced ones who dearly need your help, and so that families or homes may again be in peace, not ever again to experience violence, rejection and division— and homelessness–which has shattered so many people on this earth. We ask for your prayers, Mary and Joseph, always in the Way and Name of the Blessed Son, for holy and heavenly help to all on earth needing assistance today in family life, that they find ready comfort and healing.

O God, we are all meant to become restored and be one, as Your Children, so graciously hear our prayers, for those good purposes.
Amen.”

HOMILY
This Christmas I was inspired to build a child’s version of “Porziuncula”—the little chapel built in Assisi 800 years ago by St. Francis of Assisi and friends. It is the little church where this saint’s renewal of the Catholic Church by Divine Mercy all began. Today it stands in the valley of Assisi, right inside the great Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels; it’s a little church within a larger grand church. It is in some way a symbol for today’s celebration, as the family is the little church in the larger church, as proclaimed in modern times at Vatican II or Pope John Paul II’s Consortium on the Family or by our current Pope Francis.

Pope Francis visited this chapel for inspiration in the beginning months of his pontificate, since upon taking the papal name from the Assisi saint. He was inspired by this gospel movement of mercy which could inspire eight centuries of Catholic to better faith. It all started within a small group of twelve in Assisi, led by St. Francis, their band would renew the Church of its day.

Another ‘small group movement’ that has blessed the continuance of The Church in those centuries has been the influence that healthy, faith-filled families have made to us all. The Catholic Faith has needed the unit of the family to keep her flame burning. No wonder our Blessed Jesus chose to arrive into the world in a family.

I would suppose that Pope Francis was thinking of all this on his visit to Assisi and the Porziucula. In the place where St. Francis led a renewal, Pope Francis sought to repeat it. He thought of the Year of Mercy as needed as a Jubilee Year soon for the whole Catholic Church. Following a Year on the Joy of the Gospel. Like the Assisi saint knew—Joy leads into Mercy— and vice versa.

This Porziuncula place in Assisi marks the place of St. Francis’ personal calling to serve the Lord and go and repair His Church. So, I thought it appropriate for the Christmas season, to put up my replica here in the baptismal area of St. Edward’s church, and I based a child’s Christmas Eve homily around it. I’ll include it tonight, too.

The Little Portion chapel gives a mission to every Franciscan and every Catholic and fellow Christian today: “Go and repair my Church, go renew her.”

Then we might ask the Lord: How do I repair the Church? On The Feast of the Holy Family– seek holiness and the mercy and love of God right in your home and home parish. Our Filipino choir sang it ss a Christmas song: Love is the Answer.

The answer of love is given in themes that Pope Francis is giving us. How about the Scripture call of Jesus for us to “be merciful to others as God is merciful to us?” Or the Scripture Beatitude of Jesus in that “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy?” Or to ponder how the 7 Corporal and 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy going on in our lives and in the Church? Or to see if the parish is trying to have a parish renewal program (hint: we are—its Live Christ, Share Christ)– and investigating if you could be one to volunteer for it? (see the parish website about it).

The Franciscan Rule itself asks all followers of St. Francis (or St. Clare of Assisi) to profess the following: “Observe the Gospel faithfully, live the Gospel, and make the Gospel your rule and life (cf. 2R 1, 1).” This was the saint’s formula from Heaven to repair the Church of Christ. It’s good for us to follow today, in a needed renewal and repair to the Church, which is us.

Notice how Franciscans often look to works of mercy, particularly to the poor, for their work. I would propose that the family model ,(and parish model, in some ways) is poor these days, and it would need our extra address of love, mercy, and whatever else we can offer and do to help support the pillars of the Body of Christ.

We can help families, even our own, to start by getting Gospel rooted, taking it as our way of life, and looking to share and give it to others. (Examples)

At a recent Franciscan General Chapter held around the Portiuncula, the community was exhorted to be keenly aware of their being sent out in Mercy and love, bringing their Gospel encounter out: “Thusly, we proclaim and witness to what we experience: What our eyes have seen, what our hands have touched…, that we declare unto others (1 John 1: 1-3)…to provoke thirst for words of eternal life (Jn 6, 68)… and (inner) spirit and life (Jn 6, 63)… (As being) witnesses (to a) living exegesis of the Gospel (cf. Verbum Domini 83) – as was in the Little Poor Man of Assisi. This is what the world is really expecting of us.”

What I get from St. Francis to take from Christmas is that it is not just a solemnity to attend and feel nice, as in looking at a pretty Christmas card with Bethlehem’s scene on it, but that Christmas has always been a challenge to the world: See? God has acted, and now will you receive His Son and respond to His Spirit and live in Good News? Amen.

P.S. Blog addition: I have put a Prayer of St. Francis (not the famous one) to inspire you as printed on my latest blog entries. It comes Off The Prayer Parchment Given to Brother Leo. Since all serious renewal to ourselves and to others begins in prayer. Amen.

Gaspar the friendly Magi

Saint Gaspar is one of the three magi. He is also called Caspar or Jaspar by some (it’s all in the translation choice of the opening letter). Saint Caspar came along with St. Melchior and St. Balthazar in search of the king of prophecies and astronomical signs. The Gospel of Matthew, verses 2:1-9, mentions their coming to Christ to Bethlehem, though names are not given in the Bible account, nor the number of three. Yet since the seventh century, the Magi have been identified in the Western Church as Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar– all are declared saints. They all were known as outgoing, positive, faith-filled men. (Gaspar the friendly Magi!)

In their rest in the Communion of Saints, their bodies are all buried in the same location: in the majestic, historic Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. Matthew wrote that the Magi brought three gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts have significance, in that the gold signified the regal status of Jesus, the frankincense His divinity, and the myrrh His human nature.

According to tradition St. Caspar became a martyr. Some consider that the other two Magi also met with the same fate. The relics of the Magi were found in Persia by St. Helena. These were later brought to Constantinople and then to Milan in Italy. From there they reached Germany, where they became housed in the Cologne Cathedral in its Shrine of the Three Kings.

I happen to like Gaspar these days. I have begun a devotion to the saint. I like how he visits the infant Christ Jesus, face to face, so to bring to Him frankincense as a gift befitting a holy, priestly king. He has come on a long journey of over 100 days. He kept at it! His endurance paid off big time!
Tonight in Holy Mass I used frankincense over the bread and wine gifts to be consecrated on the altar. I thought of it being a small gift to Jesus tonight: to burn the incense and to pray the Roman Canon for such a solemn Mass as Christmas Eve Vigil.

I bought a statue of Gaspar this week, and, since he was a travelling saint, and that he was guided aright by God and a star appointed for Christ’ Coming, I have put the statue in my car. I will pray many prayers to St. Gaspar now. I will likely use GPS though, instead of using stellar charts, to get where I am going.

Magi like Caspar are called astrologers in some books, which could be a little misleading. Magi were “men who studied the stars”, in seeking the foretold promises of God to be fulfilled. A Logos or Word or God/man was expected to come. Cultures across the region of the Middle East and connecting regions shared this expectation. The Creator would become creature, and most likely a king. These Magi were not fortune tellers, then, nor whimsical dreamers hoping upon odds and long shots.

One modern thought of Gaspar’s roots and home base go to Iran. There are ruins of a Zoroastrian temple in the city of Urumia which today is named Orumiyeh, and its in the north west corner of Iran. Some say that from here that the King or Wise Man who went to Bethlehem (to adore Jesus at the time of his birth). In the 19th Century there was a Catholic nun and mystic by the name of Anna Katharina Emmerich, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II. She had visions and like revelations from God throughout her life that could back this Iranian place as the site, and you can read all those reports in the books written by Clemens Brentano called THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST AND BIBLICAL REVELATIONS, published by TAN BOOKS PUBLISHERS INC. Rockford, Illinois 61105 USA.

Yet Indians claim Gaspar too.
St. Gaspar is often considered to be an Indian scholar. An old article in the 1913 Encyclopædia Britannica states that “according to Western church tradition, Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India.” Historian John of Hildesheim relates a tradition in the ancient silk road city of Taxila that one of the Magi passed through the city on the way to Bethlehem.
As an internet source explains, some consider Gaspar to be King Gondophares mentioned in the Acts of Thomas–but that is not an approved book of Scripture, because it has inaccuracies in it anyway. Others consider him to have come from the southern parts of India where, according to tradition, Thomas the Apostle visited decades later. The town by name Piravom in Kerala State, Southern India has for long claimed that one of the three Biblical Magi went from there. The name Piravom in the local Malayalam language translates to “birth”. It is believed that the name originated from a reference to the Nativity of Jesus. There is a concentration of three churches named after the Biblical Magi in and around Piravom, as against only another three so named in the rest of India.

There are some who consider that Gaspar’s kingdom was located in the region of Egrisilla in India Superior on the peninsula that forms the eastern side of the Sinus Magnus (Gulf of Thailand) by Johannes Schöner on his globe of 1515. On it can be seen Egrisilla Bragmanni (“Egrisilla of the Brahmans”), and in the explanatory treatise which accompanied the globe, Schöner noted: “The region of Egrisilla, in which there are Brahman [i.e. Indian] Christians; there Gaspar the Magus held dominion”.[3] The phrase hic rex caspar habitavit (here lived King Caspar) is inscribed over the Golden Chersonese (Malay Peninsula) on the mappemonde of Andreas Walsperger made in Constance around 1448. Whether it was a latter day king who took the name of Caspar is also not known.

So, there are a few different claims on Gaspar. In any case, whoever and wherever he was, it must have been very interesting to have heard his accounts, post First Christmas, of being led to a child-babe King. This high school play seems to be on that topic, as Gaspar could be the middle figure, relating his story.
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The Magi are not considered kings by some historians, yet there is no questioning the regal honor they had. The reference to “kings” is believed to have originated due to the reference in Psalms “The Kings of Tarsis and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Seba shall bring him gifts: and all the kings of the earth shall adore him” Psalm 71:10. This Psalm is used in Epiphany Masses today.

Though the feasts of the Magi are not celebrated liturgically, yet the Martyrology mentions St. Gaspar, on the first, St. Melchior, on the sixth, and St. Balthasar, on the eleventh of January. Therefore, I will definitely be praying at Mass on this January First for the help of St. Gaspar, even while I also chiefly honor Mary, the Mother of God, on her feast day of New Year’s Day.

In some parishes, it is traditional to bless chalk for each family so that they may mark the first initial of each of the three Magi over their doors as a blessing for protection. This is done after the new year, and usually on Epiphany Sunday or on January 5th. Then the Year is put in-between the initials in the chalk. Here’s an example of it: 2 G 0 M 1 B 6

Christmas Homily Jesus the Homeless Man

Jesus, Son of God, submitted to being a homeless Person/person. On Christmas it may seem odd to be calling Jesus a homeless one, but I submit that He was…
It is the Year of Mercy, as Pope Francis has declared. Since caring for the homeless is one of the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy, then it is a good topic for a Christmas message. Especially since Jesus was a homeless person.

I have a poem that speaks of this viewpoint and reality of Jesus’ life. To introduce it, let me say:

God the Son left Heaven, and spent about 33 years among us on earth as the man/God, so one could say He was homeless, for a voluntary time, when He came to earth to be among us.

Yet in his earthly journey, He was mostly homeless. Israel had no country to call their own, as they were under occupation. Any Jews home could be taken away at a moment’s notice. Even in Nazareth.
Yet while Jesus is called a Nazarene (resident of Nazareth), they were not too hospitable to Him nor to His mother nor foster father there. In the end, He summarized Nazareth that it was like the towns of some other prophets where “the prophet was not welcome in his native place.” When Mary conceived Him in her womb, there was hostility all around her, even some folks had planned to stone her for being a cheating wife (in having a baby not Joseph’s, his betrothed). At the least, there were murmurs and bad looks and much judgment on her for her “situation.” Yet she and Joseph knew the Child came from Heaven, but few others believed such a ‘tale’ about the Child. It might have been a relief for Joseph to have to go to Bethlehem to get away with Mary, though the timing was terrible. Jesus was born away from home in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was not in any shape to welcome Him, so He was born in a animal shelter. Again, here is the Son of Man homeless. Next, the Holy Family flees to Egypt or Africa. Homeless again. And the return to Nazareth was where Joseph deserved to return to revive his carpentry business, once the threat was over on Jesus’ life.

Later on in life, Jesus would say, as Luke and Matthew both record it, that the Son of Man did not have a home, nor a place to lay His head. Homeless. And identified with all the outcasts and homeless and wandering souls. He came to find them. He is the Shepherd that came to “seek and save the lost (Lk. 10:19).”

The poem ponders this whole thing.
Jesus the Homeless Man

He was born away from Home. He came from Heaven so far away
Conceived at Nazareth unto Mary But to Bethlehem He was carried To be birthed away from home. And He was born away from Home.

2/No, He did not have a home. Herod’s troops came a-rushing in To end the life of a rival one to that puppet king in Jerusalem So He did not have a home — to Africa His family roamed

3/Joseph whisked Him fast away. Intel came from the Magi’s word–in haste The Holy Family moved To an undisclosed address — to a hideaway digress.
Birds have nests, foxes have dens …but the welcome was not His to this world He came to bless. And He had no earth address.

4/Then He moved back to Nazareth. And Lived in the carpenter’s care He was known as a Nazarene Mary loved her son in this scene some years passed into His teens then his foster Joe passed on And it was time for Him to move on
5/ Maybe to the mountains He left To prepare in caves for Messiah’s Day With the Essenes did he watch and pray For fulfillment of the covenant way Then he went to see Baptist John And neither had a home, no neither had a home.

Birds have nests, foxes have dens …but-the-Ministry started in the wilderness
So He had no real address But to the world Christ would bless

6/ Then He heard a Voice from Home The-Father-spoke: Now Is The Time
The Spirit gave a Holy Sign The Son declared His holy line: Repent, now, the Kingdom’s come Sinners hearts to be won.

7/ He went back to Nazareth. And announced He was The One.
In this only place He had laid His head Her citizens rose up to wish Him dead Because they said He just was Joseph’s kid
So His home town rejected Him Yes His hometown rejected Him
Birds have nests, foxes have dens …but the welcome was not His to this world He came to bless. And He had no earth address. But His One in Heaven did attest
You did not have a home, here. No, You did not have a home. Birds have nests, foxes have dens but You had no home here to lay Your head, so You became a guest instead …became a guest instead.

8/Many places You visited You took off Your shoes and rested Your feet ‘Cause You knew that the whole world belonged to the meek But You did not have a home, no, You did not have a home.

9/And You did not take a wife. There were pretty maids all in a row Who lined up to touch the hem of Your robe But You had no place to take them So You did not take a wife, no You did not take a wife.

10/You had a call to live A Redeemer’s call to live You set your face like flint to share Good News, mercy , lots of love to share And an invitation going everywhere Come, home to the Father’s love There’s His reign that lives above in love
Birds have nests, foxes have dens But without a house to keeping checking in You preached to the nation: Be free from sin. And make your heart God’s welcome place, and get out of death’s disgrace
10a/ Oh the hope of the whole world rests On the shoulders of this homeless man … You had the shoulders of a homeless man.

11/ Well, You had no stones to throw You came here without an ex to grind Did not tow the party line No wonder sight came to the blind you had no stones to throw. You had no stones to throw.

12/And You rode a donkey’s foal They spread their coats and cut down palms For You and Your beast to walk upon But the world won’t find what it thinks it wants On the back of an asses foal, so I guess You had to get sold.
12a/’Cause the world can’t stand what it can’t own And it can’t own You ‘cause You did not have a home. They gathered in Jerusalem, and sentenced a crucifixion, but you’d make it all a Sacrifice make it all a Sacrifice
Birds have nests, foxes have dens But the home of the whole world rests On the shoulders of a homeless man … You had the shoulders of a homeless man. No, You did not have a home.

13/Birds have nests, foxes have dens But the hope of the world rests on the One Who indeed calls Heaven home And He’ll bring His people there. That’s a Christmas hope declared

14/If you’ll make your heart His home If you’ll give it as His throne HE wants to live in there first place, so He can take His dwelling place, this was all set up for the human race, to find life in Glory and Grace, to be Home in God’s glory and grace.
Birds have nests, foxes have dens But the hope of the world rests on the One Who indeed calls Heaven home And He’ll bring His people there. That’s a Christmas hope declared

Francis and his little portion church

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220px-Francis_of_Assisi_FilmPoster One day as Francis prayed in the little church of St. Damian outside the walls of Assisi, he felt the eyes of the Christ on the crucifix gazing at him and heard a voice saying three times, “Francis, go and repair my house, which you see is falling down.”
Francis responded to this call, and gathered about a dozen helpers, and they went about raising funds and materials and did the restoration job, while begin to practice a devout Gospel centered life with works of mercy as its emphasis. This way that Francis laid down was very inviting, especially to people who longed for an “alive” Catholic Church, and not the sleepy, lapsed one of their days.

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A little church stands in the place right there in the valley, down from Assisi’s city hill, where Francis first went about the spiritual and corporal repair work for the Lord. Today many people visit the Porziuncola, which means “small portion of land” and refers to that chapel Saint Francis restored when he was a young man. However, the little chapel sits today inside a grand basilica church of Mary of the Angels, indeed a church within a church. People sit and pray in the place and recall how Francis gathered his first disciples; today we have had eight centuries of Franciscan religious and seculars looking to live this simple imitation of Jesus of “il poverello,” the poor one (the person in the Beatitude of poverty of spirit and life). Portiuncula or Porziuncula is pronounced Por ZZUN coo lah. PI-08tn_pi-05

Getting into Mercy at Advent 4th Sunday of Advent Homily

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What is the Christmas season 2015 to be like for us in a “Year of Mercy” in the Church? And what about the months that follow in 2016?

We have some suggestions for you. First, if you will look around at the words on these interior walls of the church, there are thirty different ones up that refer to mercy. Our parish’s liturgy committee, who do prepare us for each liturgical season, took an idea I brought of posting descriptive words that would be about mercy, and these are ones they brainstormed that speak of the sacred attribute. Take a look around at what we’ve posted: absolution, healing, compassion, engagement, charity, redemption, love, Calvary, Jesus… and perhaps it can lead you to some thinking about it and even meditating on Mercy.

Secondly, one of our parish council members said that a little phrase called “The Jesus Prayer” would be a good thing for everyone to pray in this Mercy Jubilee. In using it we could celebrate how God has been a Loving Father and we have been the welcome prodigal to Him, as we bow in our repentance and say: “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is a good little prayer.
So is the prayer called the “Confiteor” which we use sometimes in our penitential rite at Mass. It begins “I confess to Almighty God…” and ends “pray for me to the Lord our God.” In the middle of it we beat our breast and plead, “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grevious fault.” It is a confession of being a sinner who wants to move on to be a saint in-the-end.
By the way, since I mentioned the parish council, we have three slots to fill in January. We need some of you to step up. The council meets ten Tuesday nights during the year, advices the pastor, and plans and leads the two major social events of the year. And, they give good ideas for the Year of Mercy, like praying “The Jesus Prayer.” So, we are looking for where to use it now.

Thirdly, as fellow clergy ponder a direction or practice to go by in the Year of Mercy, I received some advice from Deacon Andy Nosacek of St. Pius parish. He says that he was perusing the Baltimore Catechism about the topic of mercy, and it recommends that “nothing can prove as useful as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” Deacon reminds us how there are 14 various works to look into, in total, and each of them asks for people to get active in practicing them, if one would be interested in pleasing the Lord and becoming converted in being like Jesus. Deacon says that the old Baltimore Catechism did a good job in helping him memorized this double list of seven works, which he has not forgotten since his youth. To remember them is to be prompted to do them.

If I were to ask someone in the congregation right now to recite the 7 corporal works and the 7 spiritual works of mercy, then would there be many who could do it? Well, I won’t put anyone on the spot! But to know the lists help us to go recognize them as in front of us when the opportunity arises… and perhaps to see Jesus in someone, as we recall that Jesus said: “Whenever you have done these, for even the least of people, that you also have done unto Me.” He was speaking of corporal works in his Sermon on the Mount quote.

There you are: Three Year of Mercy suggestions, even to apply in our lives in Christmas time.

Some of you have obviously been doing it:
Comfort the sorrowful… as parish members recall who might be in grief this Christmas over a death of a spouse or loved one this year. A call or a note can be very comforting to a hurting person.
Clothe the naked (or those needy for clothing)…. as parish members might have bought some clothes for the needy this year.
Bear wrongs patiently… as we try to keep it together in the pre-Christmas rush out there, and show some patient, merciful and kind witness to other people in their anxiety (even while we too might be in anxiety).

I will end by making mention of today’s Gospel. Since there is not one gospel account giving the details of Mary and Joseph in their arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, leading to the First Christmas, the Church today supplies a Joyful Visitation Mystery meditation as its gospel for Advent Sunday IV. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary: How is it that the Mother of My Lord, the Mother of God would come to me?…. and so blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” These lines of St. Elizabeth, which we use in every Hail Mary, help us also salute the Blessed Mother and to rejoice in Who came to the world via her womb and through her belief: Jesus, God among us! The reason for Christmas.

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Blog note:
Here are the 14 Works of Mercy
Feed the Hungry Admonish the sinner
Give Thirst to the Thirsty Instruct the ignorant
Clothe the Naked Counsel the doubtful
Visit the imprisoned Comfort the sorrowful
Shelter the homeless Bear wrongs patiently
Visit the sick Forgive all injuries
and to Bury the Dead. and Pray for the Living and the Dead.

Twas’ the Night Before Christmas adapted

The Night before Christmas
By OTELLA BRANTMIER (Bowie Catholic/
Adaptation from Clement Moore’s Poem)

Otella gave me this poem in December 2013. I put it on my blog then; I repeat it today.
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Twas The Night before Christmas
in Bethlehem town
Not an inn was empty, Not a room to be found.
Joseph was looking for a room they could share,
For Jesus, Our Savior soon would be there.
The town was all nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of tax collectors danced in their heads.

Mary on our donkey and I led the way,
To a lowly stable where we could stay.
Mary in her kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just said our prayers before a long needed nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a light,
I sprang from my bed to see what shone in the night.

Away to the window I flew with a dash,
Tearing open; the shutters, I saw a great flash!
When what to my wondering eyes should I see,
But a magnificent star shining down on me.
A STAR , with such brilliance! None could compare,
It shone on our stable, it shimmered everywhere.

I whistled and shouted, Called for my wife.
I turned and I saw Her surrounded in light.
Mary was bathed in this heavenly Glow,
Just how it was done, I don’t really know?
The stable was shinning as bright as the sun,
The next thing I knew God delivered His Son.

Falling, we adored in complete holy joy.
For Our Heavenly Father had sent us a boy!
Oh! JESUS, Our Savior, A child so fair!
Oh! God Our Redeemer to save men everywhere.
A Child from heaven to His earthly home,
Laid in a manger for His Kingly Thorne.

Angels chanting hymns of humble adorations
One by one bowed in profound veneration.
Then up to the housetops the Angels, they flew,
With their hearts filled with singing Alleju!
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
Angels in multitudes mounted the sky.

And then in a twinkling I heard angels still,
Singing to shepherds out on the hill.
All of nature was in movement of joy and delight
I stared in amazement at this wondrous sight.
The shepherds approaching, sheep gathered near
In low adoration, they too bowed here.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Adoring on knees, the ox and lambs were found.
The fox dressed in fur and the rabbit afoot
Came to the crib their little gifts to put
A bunch of berries, flowers and a fig,
A dove floated in with an olive branch twig.

And then from the East, they came from afar’
Three Wise Men on camels following that star.
In magnificent robes so grand to behold,
They came bearing gifts, myrrh, frankincense and gold.
Softly they praised Him, the King of Kings,
Giving thanks to God for the Savior He brings.

To this very day, Christmas comes each year,
In the hearts of all children, a Babe so dear.
If you listen carefully, you may hear,
The Myriads of Angels singing quite clear,
You may hear them exclaim ere they fly out of sight,
Blessed Christmas to all and to all a good night.

3rd Week of Advent Homily Joy is a Choice and Commitment

3rd Week of Advent Homily Joy is a Choice and Commitment
December 12, 2015 by Fr. John Barry

Joy is our theme for Advent Week 3 as we listen to Paul write in encouragement to believers in Philippi. One highlighted verse in Philippians 4 tells the basic message of this epistle: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice.” Gaudete! Rejoice.

Paul says that joy is a choice– and he should know, as he was choosing joy over pity as he lingered in a prison. His vibrant testimony about Jesus Alive led to this behind bars time, yet Paul kept in joy because he knew there was no way to lock out Jesus from his life. Jesus was now within Him, with promise to stay. That stirred the apostle’s life. He was committed to stay faithful and focused on Jesus to the end of his life, and that goal of life and meaning brought him happiness. He could serve the Lord. God had him firm for salvation.
That joy of salvation is what Paul focused upon. We should too.

A man named Len that I know preaches Missions for the Church said he relates people to Paul’s life and such verses as these, and an important lesson that he likes to preach out of Paul is to tell people that “whatever gets a person’s attention, gets them.” Further, he says, “If one gives their attention to negative things and only glances at Christ, then the negative things will get them. If, on the other hand, one would give their attention to Christ and only glance at the negative things, Christ will get them.”

Jesus said something just like that in the Sermon on the Mount: “Your heart is where your treasure is.” Matthew 6:21. Simple enough said.

Saint Paul here in Philippians urges us to focus on the good things of God, and so then to seek real lasting treasure. If we let our attention be pulled by these good things into the focus of Christ, then we could be living in the design God has made for us. Rejoice is a word that says “don’t go first to the negative and the cynical and the discouraging.” Why? Because the Lord isn’t there in those attitudes. Note how the verse says “Rejoice in the Lord.” Why are to be in Him. His Coming brings “glad tidings.” How so? Well, note how even the angel does say in their announcements to the shepherds in the First Christmas (as in Luke’s Gospel): “I bring you great news of joy.” Those shepherds came down from the fields and when they saw Jesus, they delighted in Him. Delighting in the Lord does draw us into Christ-likeness, which gives contentment at who is looking back at you in the mirror. We should pray for the Light of Jesus’ Face on us. Imagine sometimes that Jesus is face to face with you in prayer. He is seeking to lift your heart and lighten your own face. Why else would He say in Matthew 11 to “cast your cares upon the Lord” if He doesn’t want to help you be unburdened and to get a smile of relief?
Joy leads to Mercy. When we realize that God is at work in us, and we really don’t deserve His unconditional favor, it can lead us to link up Mercy to Joy.

Notice in the whole book of Philippians how Paul does focus on the Lord Who sacrificed Himself on the Cross for us. This is to rest any doubts we might have (like those people of Phillipi) of just how much love He has for us. Jesus gives all.

That’s our cue to start searching in 2016 for how this New Year of Mercy in the Church link the Mercy of the Cross with finding joy at the Lord’s Sacrifice for sinners. This act is meant to free us all, and, especially from the negative side of living. Life is not basically a downer if Jesus is up to so much renewal and goodness for us. ‘Right?
In a Year of Mercy– make Jesus’ Mercy and Care and Love for you the main thing that gets your attention. Give your attention to Christ– and pray for joy, or peace with contentment to come.

The Bottom line: Sadness is easy. Cynicism is a cheap, quick act. Yet Joy is a decision. That is why the line is repeated (“Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say rejoice”). We decide to give focus to what really matters in faith and in how we shall be loving people in this world and fostering healing mercy to them. (And they to us.) We want to all be build up in virtue.
Virtue is a habit of lots of good choices and decisions. It is seeing things in life with the help of Jesus.

People can either choose a way of joy in God or not. It happens every day. I heard about a Jesuit priest who visited a wealthy member of his parish. The man had a lovely home with a landscaped yard. The priest commented on how beautiful it all was and how happy he must be. “Yes,” said the man, but with a sad face he added, “Look at those bushes. I pay good money to have them tended and that’s what I get!” This man chooses to be unhappy by such confessions coming from his mouth.

Cynicism is the default position. On the other hand, joy can surprise us.
The same priest who visited that wealthy parishioner later served in a Latin American country. While visiting a rural community, a man asked him to come to his home. It was an adobe hut, but with a broad smile the man said, “Father, we have saved for a year to get this tin roof. Will you bless it for us?”

Joy surprises us. It shows up in unexpected places. It goes against the tide. Joy involves our whole being – which includes our ability to choose .
St. Paul says, “Rejoice always!” It’s not a suggestion, like “cheer up, ” or “look on the sunny side.” It is, rather, a command, “Rejoice.” Not only when things are going well. Not just when I am getting my way – but always. “Rejoice always.” St. Paul can command joy because joy requires a conscious choice .

Joy also can turn into a habit. Rejoice. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again, says Paul!

Most people think of habits as bad ones, yet habits–holy habits– can be what will bring the real smile to the heart. In getting to such a discipline, St. Paul does not tell us to wait until we have all our ducks in a row. He says, get started today: “Rejoice always.” He says, “Ask for God’s help—rejoice in the Lord.

Finally, if the priest needs any help getting a smile on his face this 3rd Sunday, the Church has us clergy put on these pink/rose vestments. The few looks we get from little girls liking our vestment color, and their curious stares (since they don’t see us usually in their favorite color)– gives us priests a chance to have a chuckle over it.

These vestments I wear, along with the matching wall hanging of the grapes on the vine to a rose background… these handsome cloths were especially made for us by a liturgical arts person and they were donated by Deacon David and Sandy Barnes.

Live Christ, Share Christ Renewal Program (a 2015 bulletin insert/homily remembered)

RERUN OF 2015 HOMILY BY FR. BARRY, DETAILING A PARISH RENEWAL PROGRAM BEING DISCUSSED BY THE PARISH COUNCIL.

JUNE 6TH 2015 HOMILY

Today we put a bulletin insert out this weekend on a parish renewal program our parish council and I would like St. Edwards to consider. It is accompanied by my homily at each of the Masses this first June weekend. This homily and insert is just meant as an introduction to the renewal program under proposal, and to put ‘a fishing pole in the water of the parish’ to see if it gets some interest from you, that is, if you show some bite of excitement for it.

It is a parish renewal program called “Live Christ, Share Christ.”

Before fully describing it to you, let’s appropriately start with the Scripture Readings of the Mass, as see if you notice, as I did, that they are good ones to reflect upon when thinking of community life and faith growth in a spiritual family, like ourselves.

Our opening Scripture tells us of perhaps the hardest job ever, in a renewal program for a faith people. Moses was asked by the Lord to deliver the Jewish people out of slavery and to get back to their homeland of faith. The miracle of the Red Sea had delivered them out of Egypt, but now they were travelling in the wilderness, where God wanted to turn His people back to becoming a holy nation back in the Land of Canaan. The text of Exodus 24 reads: “When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the LORD has told us.’

Well, that was definitely a good start to things. Could the Exodus succeed quickly to re-creating People Israel, for to strongly live by faith again, as they had done in the time of their forefathers of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Moses decided it was time to make a blood covenant with God, and for God to seal it in blood to them. They had a peace holocaust offering of young bulls to honor the moment. The covenant books and the altar and the people were sprinkled by the blood in pact with God to get on with their new lives ahead. It was a dramatic moment, told vividly in that Exodus account today.

The Hebrew Scripture is proclaimed in Mass today, because we honor the Corpus Christi Feast (now called the Feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but I like the old title!). The Gospel of today goes to Mark 14 and the Last Supper account, recalling how Christ Jesus gave us a new covenant of blood in Himself, in His own worth blood, so now we Christians are called to live anew and more deeply as Jesus’ people on earth, hoping to share in His mission, with His Holy Spirit, in renewing the face of the earth. The renewal is centered on the offering of Christ Jesus, Who is the worthy offering at every Holy Mass, where and when we gather in covenant. And, when we finish each Mass, we are sent forth to the world, with dismissals such as “Go and Announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go forth, the Mass is ended (as by the Latin Ite Missa est).” It means for us to go out and live and spread the Way of the Lord. For that mission we say “Thanks be to God” and we go out.

Now to speak on a proposal for a parish renewal program. Sometimes, our going forth is done in a heightened way, as to make extra effort to witness to the Lord, and help others come back with us, home to the Lord, His Saving Sacrifice, and His community of faith. With a challenge to renew a parish, could a people respond so heartily like the Exodus pilgrims did when they said: ‘We will do everything that the LORD asks of us?’ Consider not me or the parish council as your Moses figure, but think of Pope Francis as the one calling you, as so often his appeals are to renewal of the Catholic faith.

In November 2014, our parish council was presented a program to encourage and build up our parish. After discussing it for a few months, it was moved to be presented in this homily time for all parishioners to hear… “Live Christ, Share Christ (LCSC)” is a retreat program of presenting vital seminars on the Catholic faith to the parish. It is meant to stir up a parish to some renewal. It is a retreat given by our parish members and it is given right here at our church. There are nine seminars, accompanied by discussion and sharing exercises, along with some fellowship, and some praying and singing. It is a packaged group of prepared, dynamic seminars which have begun to energize Catholic parishes elsewhere, and it has papal blessing. Our parish web site has a place that describes it in detail, too, but listen to what we are considering, in this pulpit time of appeal.

We will need to have parishioners to volunteer to give the seminar talks, and many others to offer support to LCSC with ministries of music, hospitality, publicity and invitation, table discussion guides, and lots more for the “Live Christ, Share Christ” experience. The nine “Live Christ Seminars” can be offered in a variety of ways—–either for nine times (suggested: nine Sunday afternoons or Saturday evenings) or for three times for longer experiences together (as in three Saturdays or three weekend slots sometime…

“Live Christ, Share Christ” (LCSC) is successful in any of those applications above. It is a nice parish program because it can be adapted to our situation, and it is pre-packaged, so not a lot of research and work need to be done on the messages’ content. The seminar talks are ready to be given. but just need a person to give them, adding their own personal experiences onto the message.

Who goes to this LCSC program? It is for any presently practicing adult Catholics who feel led to take a retreat here on the vital areas of their faith. It is also meant to benefit inactive Catholics or other Christians, as well of benefit any un-churched adult persons who are led here to it.
The seminars cover the living essentials of a Catholic Christian life. Thus, it is evangelistic in style—doing the very thing that Pope Francis has asked us to try in our parishes.

How will our parish LCSC presenters and volunteers know what to do and say and how to do the retreat? Well, it’s pretty neat, in that a Catholic group who has done LCSC already comes in here and gives it to our team, so that we can see how it’s done, and meanwhile, get the blessing from receiving it first ourselves. Then, they in turn, give it to the parish— after a big promotion and lead up to it.

It will take a parish team to present this renewal program. There does offer the challenge! Who will the Lord lead to do it? Could it be you?

With the assistance of the Parish Council, overview by the Staff, and the direction of the Pastor, we plan and pray for this renewal program to be a blessing and life-changing and faith-building experience to our parish of St. Edward the Confessor.

What happens after the Live Christ, Share Christ Renewal here? LCSC then has a monthly follow-through meeting to keep people in fellowship, and encourage faith relationships to form in smaller circles.
Something similar happened here in that way with the Renew Program that St. Edwards (and many other parishes) had three decades ago. LCSC is a newest lay response to the Lord’s Call for Evangelization. LCSC was put together by Catholic lay people who were succeeding in doing a parish renewal program themselves. It has its influence from the USA and the Philippines. Frank Padilla was its founder.

Its main hope is for its participants to meet Christ anew, and to meet one another anew in living Christ, and then know Him more fully together as a parish, and to get inspiration to share Christ with others.

This is a practical and Catholic retreat-renewal experience. It may especially serve our younger generation especially, those in their 20’s to 50’s. It may help newer members and the ones not so plugged in to parish life (besides Sunday Mass-going) to have a way to come into more community in Christ and be formed to be the vibrant life of this parish in our coming years.

Let us remember St. Paul’s advice about sharing and spreading the Good News of Salvation in Jesus.
Rom 10:13-15 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on him of whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!

Let us also remember the pope’s words.
Pope Francis: ”I appeal to you to be the beautiful ones to bring the Good News alive to yourself and in your churches and shared among your community and neighbors.”

LIVE CHRIST, SHARE CHRIST.
Hopefully, it will be a program we can introduce in 2016. Who wants in?!

If you look at the parish web site, you will find more on this program, including a stirring message from Pope Francis, which is a must-read to become excited for such a program in a parish.

Fr. Barry