All Souls Reflection

Long and Deep Teaching. Parts of the content here will be in the homily Nov. 2nd.

Pics. My shadow in the sand at Bethany Beach. Sunset sparkles off Lake Michigan.

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All Soul’s Day begins a month of daily intentions for our beloved dead, for their soul’s full sanctification in God, as they are made perfect in God’s Spirit for life forever in Heaven. Catholics have been praying as such since the First Church with the apostles, and we have also borrowed from the anticipated faith of the Hebrew people, who were preparing for the Messiah in enlightened religion.

I would like to share some Scriptures about this observance of the departed in our Catholic practice of faith, because I find that many Catholics cannot explain it well, when asked about it.

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Let’s review a few Scriptures of the Mass and Liturgy of the Word chosen of today…

From 2nd Maccabees, chapter 12, of the Old Testament (RSV): “On the next day, as by that time it had become necessary, Judas and his men went to take up the bodies of the fallen and to bring them back to lie with their kinsmen in the sepulchres of their fathers. Then under the tunic of every one of the dead they found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. And it became clear to all that this was why these men had fallen. So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”

Here is a text explanation:
In the books of Maccabees, we have the end of Old Testament time when the Jews, like Judas Maccabeus, had come to believe in the ongoing soul life of men, and of their resurrection to come. Judas (with other faithful Jews willing to even die as martyrs–so deep was their faith) believed that there would be some great new life connection in the Lord Messiah to come, Who would bridge Heaven and earth. He would be The One to carry over the soul out of the physical body at death and transform them onto Glory. This Lord Messiah of the Hebrew hope, would even be the Link between those departed, and those who remaining living on earth. All would live as one in Him.

In this Biblical account, Judas and his army find brother Jews on a battlefield who had died in war, but they find that these fallen men had each been wearing an idolatrous token. Judas Maccabeus feared that this sign of idolatry, of some ‘lucky’ token on them, was displeasing to the Lord. He instructed his own army not to resort to such a practice of token wearing, but asked that they collect the fallen men for a proper burial ceremony, wherein they would give these fallen soldiers some special prayers. Judas Maccabeus taught that their intercessory prayers for Divine Mercy (for their dead comrades) would be helpful, since they had all died in battle in a sin of idolatry and with likely unconfessed hearts about it.

Judas, thus, leads all his army in prayer, in a petition for all those fallen men that their idolatrous sin be blotted out. Judas knows that God’s Spirit will need to do that cleansing sanctification, so the prayers he leads are for those in need to get that cleansing and to go on to perfection in God’s realm. Judas’ actions go even further in concern so far as to offer a sin offering (sacrifice) to be prayed in the holy places in Jerusalem, namely, at God’s Temple. The drachmas will be given for the customary prayer to priests and intercessors there in their holy duties. This whole episode told in this Bible account is a communal act of a merciful and caring prayer for souls of the dead.

We do something similar in Catholic Faith. First, it is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for the living and the dead. Our Church takes that seriously, and we believe in intercessory prayer.
Secondly, we realize that modern people of faith also unfortunately die with some serious unconfessed sin on their hearts. We pray for their souls, in that, God’s Mercy and Purification come to their aid. Thirdly, we pray for those who died in God’s friendship, that their fundamental trust in God will be their saving grace, and that our prayers help them to now agree fully to abide forever with God. Sometimes we, the petitioner to God, even know what area of life the departed may need fully surrendered to God. In the Maccabees story it was the known idolatry of those soldiers. Today it may be that we know personally that our departed fell badly short in committing some sin, like in stealing, cheating or their breaking a big promise, or it could be we know of their religious omission in something like tithing, Mass-going, pro-life defending, or forgiving someone they should have. Or maybe we know how little social concerns that person had in following Jesus’ new command to “love one another.” In these cases, the one praying for a departed soul really knows what to say in petition. We ought to pray for the finished wonder to go well for that person’s obvious new for purgation and purification, because we know they need it. Yet if we don’t know of other believer’s shortcomings, it is always good to pray for a person’s soul who earthly body has expired.

As on memorial days like All Soul’s Day, we offer prayers, similar to the account in Maccabees. We pray with concern and support and solidarity for brothers and sisters in the Fold of faith who have fallen asleep in death, to be brought into God’s Light, and to be saved out of any un-confessed sin or disobedience or lack of faith maturity, and to be completed and purified into Heaven**. It is a prayer in Christ Jesus, via the Spirit, to the Father— for those who have died. We have our personal prayers and our prayers made in a special way in the Church and in our liturgies. The Gospel for All Soul’s Mass tonight is Matthew’s Beatitude list, including “**Blessed are the Pure of Heart, for they shall see God.”. I will be praying on All Souls for a lot of departed people in need, and for anonymous Poor Souls in Purgatory.

Our county flag has a cross on it, remembering our religious roots via Catholic familiesimag0720

Let us now turn to our second reading today, as written by St. Paul, of the book of 2nd Timothy, chapter 1, of the New Testament (RSV): “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me — may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day — and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.”

Onesiphorus, pronounced Oh-ness-SEF-or-us. is pictured to the far right in this icon of some of the famous 70 disciples of our Lord. sosthenes_apollo_cephas_tychicus_epaphroditus_caesar_and_onesiphorus_of_70_disciples_menologion_of_basil_ii

Explanation:
Here we have a Scripture of the New Testament time when Christians believed in the resurrection of the dead, as confirmed in Jesus, and in their fuller realization that we are embodied souls on earth, and that when we die, our souls pass on to God, with our bodies buried for the resurrection of the dead to come, when Jesus Christ would return. St. Paul the apostle had written many things of faith in what God would do so favorably for the disciple of Christ, His Son, and that, after physical death, God would continue His work in us in our soul. Next, at the Second Coming, our body would be given resurrection to perfection, with no more sin and death to be weary us any longer.

As Paul recalls the life of a deceased brother in The Lord, named Onesiphorus. Paul writes to Timothy to pass on to the family and community in Ephesus of how refreshing and good this believer was in life. Paul talks about the great support that this man had given him, even in the effort he made to see him in a Roman prison, and how Ephesus had been so blessed by him. Paul writes of Onesiphorus in the past tense, so it is about his dearly departed friend. Paul prays for his soul. He prays that the Lord grant Onesiphorus mercy—and for great reward on “that Day.” Paul was referring here to the Second Coming. Paul here is writing about this dead friend of whom he believes still lives on, just in a new way. He wants Timothy and others to remember this man as now heading to be with God, and to still be able to be loved, as family in the Beyond. Paul says that the Second Coming Day would arrive to bring all their hopes to fulfillment.

As we apply this Scripture to 2016 and the Church’s prayer practice, we note how we also do pray for people after they have died. We pray as their faith partners on earth, and for God to now look after them. We hope one day, by God’s Mercy and Grace, that we can gather again with our beloved and our friends and with all the just.

Friends care for each other, especially in times of need. What greater need can there be but upon death for one to get into Heaven with God?! Wouldn’t a friend hope that the most for a friend? Making Heaven is no easy guarantee, as some have been mistaken and foolish about. The Bible calls the way in as “narrow” but that “wide” is the road of perdition and destruction. So, we believers should definitely act as good friends and pray for people who have died. Who knows really what great effect it might have?! Maybe the prayer of a friend brings care and relief to a soul on the journey to God. Maybe the petitions here from earth do stir God’s Mercy in Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Love speaks volumes in prayer. Maybe these All Souls prayers unite the body of believers into Christ’ trust, and He expects it, in our cry for unity?

We don’t just pray for the people who we might think will desperately need it, as in ‘barely making it into God’s company (those of weak faith or of not a lot of evidence of soul room for God) faith growth). That’s a good person to appeal for–sure. But that appeal would be natural, just out of dear concern that the person does actually find favor with God.

Yet, we do also pray for the good and practicing believers who pass on. We need to pray also for the good practitioners of faith who have been among us. Rather than just assume an immediate Heaven for them, we join St. Paul for praying mercy on these people, too, as an act of solidarity and an ongoing friendship with them. I can recall that Mother Teresa in her dying days made everyone promise her for prayers for her soul after death. People thought–“Why—for a saint?”-—but Teresa knew her Catholic theology well, and she knew that purgation in the Spirit will be needed for nearly everyone. “Who dies perfect?” Teresa asked her visitors. She would know St. Paul and his teachings about how the Holy Spirit is sent to make us holy in this life, and to complete us in Christ Jesus, afterwards. Many have left a lot undone in life, even if confessing Jesus as Lord over their life.

A hint: Ask people for Mass intentions and other prayers for you after you die. You’re likely to need it! In your will, put it down as a “must” for a Mass of Christian Burial upon your death. These prayers really do mean something!

Here now is some more Scripture and knowledge of the Spirit’s role in purgation of all our sin…

The Spirit is called the Fire by Paul as he writes the Corinthians in the third chapter of his first epistle to that church. He says that the Spirit keeps at it to complete us in holiness, even later on. “The work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire. ”

The author of Hebrews agrees with this work of the Holy Spirit needed for us after our death, so as to see God in the New Jerusalem. In Hebrews 10 it proclaims: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.”

Revelation 21:27 is in agreement, too, here, as it declares that “nothing unclean shall enter Heaven.” Thus, the need for purgatory, a place or process to enter purification and completion, is in order. If St. Teresa of Calcutta didn’t feel quite perfected for Heaven, then neither should we be. And we should highly welcome, as she did, the prayers of people for us after our death.

Finally, the great confessor St. John Vianney, who spent hours upon hours every day with people in the Sacrament of Confession, was asked of why he gave some much time for this Sacrament, and he said that it was because it was freeing people of many sins that Purgatory would have had later to address, but was instead pre-dealt with in God’s Mercy in the Confessional. Wow. That’s a saint telling us something important.

John Vianney said the Holy Spirit does much work in perfecting a life in the confessional, but that un-repentance or an unwillingness to address the sins in our life, begs for an address for it later by God’s Spirit in our afterlife, because we cannot enter Heaven and be in God’s Perfect presence without becoming all holy ourselves. God must give the grace for that. Only the arrogant thinks otherwise and would depend on their own righteousness or merit.

(Of course, Reconciliation follows upon the Grace of Baptism and the general repentance of a person for God’s Mercy to save them.)

It is understood then, that the post-Baptism Sacraments affords us much in grace, and that our acts of charity and works of mercy do help in the perfection of our lives, too. It is the practicing believer whom God can then perfect. Practice makes perfect. We need to seek and do good works, and hold to do all we can in Jesus so as not to be dominated by sin. Christ is come to grant us all freedom from sin. Vianney’s saintly faith certainly borrowed from St. John’s epistles, where it set the bar for the Christian life, saying: “But you know that Christ appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him. Little children (of God),, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous.”

So there is some review of why we pray for All Soul’s, and how we believe in the Holy Spirit and His work, and how we accept purgation or purgatory, to be mercifully given our good completion in Christ Jesus. We also hear the call to use Confession, to remain pure, as God’s children of faith. Live it out.

All Saints

Say hello to your “Supernatural Friend” in Heaven. That’s who a heavenly believer is–ready to be friends forever with us. We call them saints.

There are some sure ones in Heaven that the Church has pointed out, or “canonized,” that would be great choices to be your friends in Heaven. There are multitudes of others, too. Each all of them in Glory want to cheer us on to make it to Heaven, too.

Which saint(s) shall be your supernatural friends?

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Can I tell you about mine?
I have my name’s sake: John– to be my holy friend. My first name is for a saint, which also was my grandpa’s name, and a Catholic naval hero guy. I pray to Saint John, as my supernatural friend. He is a favorite. I keep a drawing of him by my front door. His gospel is my favorite Bible book. I think it’s cool, too, that he was at the Last Supper, too, as I have learned to love the Eucharist as Jesus with us. All of this was probably due to his help. John became a priest, and so did I.

Here’s my next friend on my list–Mary. St. John was close to Holy Mary, The Saints of Saints. She is a supernatural friend of mine, and while I share her with billions of Christ’ faithful through time, Mary gives us each of us a personal care in the Church, as we allow. She is our beautiful Mother. I am doing something in return for help. I am consecrating myself anew in our supernatural friendship. I think Saint John recommended it. He wants me to better know Mary. John knew her well, and even took care of her (after Jesus’ Death and Resurrection) until her Assumption.

I have a saint that I chose for Confirmation: Anthony of Padua– to also be my holy friend for life. The friendship is working well. I can’t count the many ways he has assisted me over the 45 years of knowing him. He is always working to fix up the lost ways that I might go, or for me to find the lost things in my life. He is the patron of announcers, and he has inspired me to announce the Gospel with my life. He is depicted holding a child in his arms in his statue, which I saw in Franciscan parishes in my youth. Now I try to have a ministry to children in my life. As I see a child, I see Christ in them.

I have a saint of a new affiliation since my priesthood; he is an English priest saint and martry named John Payne. He was canonized in the 1970’s and given my birthday date as his new saint’s feast day. He is my holy friend of a few years, and I went and paid him respects at where he served and died for the Catholic Faith. I also prayed at St. Edward’s tomb on that pilgrimage.

I have my Irish heritage befriending me supernaturally to St. Patrick, as well.
I think he just automatically became my supernatural friend, with a last name like Barry, and since that he has seen me visiting his cathedral in NYC or marching in his parades with frequency from my childhood on.

These are the top special and supernatural friends in my life. They are each taking part in my life towards my own becoming a saint.

The goal of every Christian is to become a saint. And thus we are reminded– on ALL Saints Day of the Church calendar.

I also have Michael the Archangel, as my supernatural friend, all due to his name given me as my middle name by my parents. He is a supernatural friend to me, too! Make him SF #6.

Last year I began a friendship with St. Gaspar, one of the Magi to Christ. He carried the frankincense, the priestly gift, to the Christ Child on Christmas.
Now Gaspar has a little statue in my car. I made a postcard photo of it. He is SF #7. imag0762_1
I have struck up a supernatural pal in St. Edward since my arrival in Bowie in 2007=. Ditto that for St. Pius X, upon returning to teach at the school I attended in my youth.

It’*s Supernatural Delight– in knowing these living heroes of Heaven and lovers of God– these Supernatural friends.

May the saints and angels guide and bless you to the Glory of God!imag0760_1
Who are your supernatural friends?! We call them the saints.
At our parish saint’s fair, one of our confirmands has chosen St. Thomas Aquinas to be his saint for his full initiation into the Church. imag0742 here he is telling some children about his new supernatural friend.imag0741

Sunday Word: Humility & A call to pray 33 days to a consecration to Mary on Dec. 8th

On Sunday Mass, I preached on humility, using the scene of Zacchaeus from Luke’s Gospel. In application, I said how we all need to get up our own sycamore tree to be near The Lord, as once or as many times, because we really need to be in the place of asking for help. Our running ahead on the road and climbing up to see Jesus, whether it be by our own planning to grow in Him, or be it by life’s putting us into the tree near the Lord’s path, it is a good place to be where and when we can show ourselves to be in need of Him. Here I am, Jesus! Up a tree of humility! Help me out!

I spoke about humility as being the way to advance spiritually in the Catholic life. I reminded people about how I had brought two great Catholic speakers in during the month, one Mr. Brian Pusateri, and one Fr. Lou Faust, and how they each had talked so well about Mercy and how humility (with some action on their part) had been the key to the great place where they are today. They both great wonderful testimonies to our parish. They both spoke on humility as the means to get from brokenness to blessedness.

Jesus said it plainly, as in Mark’s gospel, “If anyone wish to be my disciple, let them humble themselves, take up their own cross, and follow Me.”

I think Zacchaeus had a whole back story to this account in Luke. I think he was ready to follow Jesus, but thought it was a long shot that Jesus would even give him the time of day. Yet Jesus did stop, certainly in notice of Zack up a tree, and Jesus gave him a whole day, as an unscheduled stop there in Jericho. In that encounter, in Zacchaeus house, not only did Zack come to be a follower, but many in the house found salvation.

Will we make the effort, or keep up the effort, to humble ourselves, and give ourselves to Jesus? I am talking humility with some action here.

Humility is a difficult virtue to practice. Therefore, we need helpers. The two speakers, Pusateri and Faust, gave lots of advice there. I can add one more piece of advice: Let Mary, the Christian model of humility, walk with you for at least a month, in a special permission for her intimacy with you, to lead you to where Jesus wants you to go, in humility.

I advice doing a Consecration to Mary on Dec. 8th, her feast of the Immaculate Conception. I advice a month of preparation with her for that self-offering, using the book and meditation of 33 Days to Morning Glory. It is a booklet written by Fr. Gaitley of the Marian Fathers of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the Divine Mercy Center for America. If you start using the book on Nov. 5th, then it will lead you 33 days to the vigil of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I am doing it, and I will inaugurate it on Saturday, Nov. 5th, with a 9 a.m. Mass here in the parish. imag0761_1

(I have previously done a Marian consecration before with St. Louis de Montfort’s method, and if you have, too– then use Fr. Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Divine Mercy, and present yourself through that new Gaitley devotional book.)

Fr. Gaitley’s makes the preparation for consecration to Mary very simple and available to do. We also have our rosary to pray and the use of Confession in this period of preparation. But using the devotions in the book are the main way of preparing one’s consecration to Mary. 33 days of 12 minute devotions and a rosary anytime daily. For Humility’s Sake. And no tree-climbing involved.

I invite you to do it. Books can be ordered from the Gift Shop of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy at 1 800 462 7426.

On Dec. 8th, after all the holy day Masses here, I will meet people up front by the altar for the consecration.

World Series Time

I am a MLB baseball fan. It’s Series time with a unique match-up of former lovable loser teams: the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs.

Right now the Tribe are playing like they’ll be the champs. I did not guess it would be so when I saw the team practicing way back in March at the Indians Spring Training site in GoodYear, AZ. imag0759_1imag0758imag0756_1imag0757_1

More thoughts on Ad Orientam and ‘Liturgical East’ Mass prayer

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I really wasn’t planning to blog again on this topic, but it is my opinion that the priests and people still campaigning for the priest to pray in the direction AWAY from the people at Mass need to stop and better consider that idea. It just is being disruptive and not so pious as the might think. I just don’t think the usual majority of Catholics wants another change to Holy Mass right now, nor are our churches built and situated for the turn-around, nor the later suspected intended-all-along Mass back at the high altar again. Those two quick points could be all I’d say on the matter, but I just got to vent here a bit.

An Ad Orientam (AO) Mass is one in which the presider does not face the people from his altar prayers at Mass, but rather, has his back to them, so as to be praying in the same direction with them, that is, ‘to God together’ (as some have described it). Once at the Offertory part in an AO Mass, the presider does not look at the people, but he comes to the front side of the altar and faces away from the people–praying ‘forward.’ For this to work, and it is a confusing thing to witness, the presider now has to go around the low altar and get in front of it, face away from the people, with his back turned on them, and then he continues on praying the key part of Mass. Even while we have microphones now for aiding our hearing the priest– the non-verbal message there is bad in the AO proposal. What we see and feel in this AO posture of the priest is exclusion, not inclusion. It seems to go back to the priest having a me-and-Jesus relationship, with the people as being second hand in the church. We have moved away from that way of doing things, I thought. While the priest is set apart in his Holy Orders, and in his charge to consecrate the bread and wine at Mass, he need not do it as if the treasure of Eucharist is all his. That is what I seemed to notice as exhibited by the AO Eucharistic Prayers (EP)of the priest. If I noticed or felt it, then I am sure others did, and it’s not right for the feeling of exclusion to be in the EP prayers. We pray together as a people. We receive the Miracle by the Epiclesis prayer and Consecration as a people. Together. This is a priest saying this to you.

Consider the new spirit of the Missal, which has renewed the invocation into the Liturgy of Eucharist, with the priest saying: “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty…” Consider that a turned-back presider counters that verbal prayer. If it is a shared offering, then show it is so. (Like we properly do now.)

Ad Orientam adherents say that the turned-away stance of the priest is of him praying with the people, as praying to God in the same direction as the people. While that sounds pious and wonderful, in reality it can instead smack of the priest as separate up there, and the people now, not as much, included behind him. I’m just saying that posture and position and body language mean a lot in communication, even in the Mass. In a communications point of view, the turned back of the presider (and assisting deacon) not only seems exclusionary, but visually it impairs the altar view for some. Many people now (in the AO Mass style) just can’t see the vessels or the priest hands and they may also miss the showing of the consecrated large host (since the elevation of the Body and Blood is not supposed to be high over the priest’s head, but a low subtle one). The face-away praying contradicts the whole point of bringing the priest and consecration closer to the people, as Vatican II liturgy documents said we needed now to do. I say–let the people see what the priest gets to see in the EP. Let the priest offer the give-and-take spirit of looking towards the people, and receiving their prayers in a visible, complimentary way. It’s just good manners and conduct, too.

A young clergyman said that ‘it doesn’t matter that we look at the people from after the Preface to the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) prayer.’ I asked him if he realized how his generation generally looks down too much at phones and computer devices and such, rather than to looking at other people’s faces in interpersonal manners. He didn’t agree on the assessment; I asked him to ask anyone over 50 on whether this poor communication habit is noticeable and true or not of his generation. I said that looking at people does matter. (And I’m not talking about skyping time!)

He said he did not need so much to look at people, and that ‘the priest could humbly look down more in his Mass, since it is not about him.’ I said, if it’s not about him, the priest, then have him not look not down towards himself! It’s kind of a false humility. Humility is esteeming others as much as yourself. A humble priest would esteem the others’ participation and experience of the Mass, besides himself. If there are people in his Mass, then it IS about engaging them in the Mass. We have had so many unemotional Masses and monotone presiders and self-absorbed clergy at Mass in the past, that it’s no wonder some people have not returned regularly to Mass. It didn’t feel like their Mass, maybe.

I commented that I try to look around the church during some prayers, and in the Gospel proclamation and homily, and in the intercessions, all in my part as presider. I do look less about in the EP, but I still give some facial time and expression at people in those prayers, and especially in the cues for the Mystery of Faith, Lord’s Prayer, Lamb of God and Prayer before Communion. When I pray lines in EP 3 like: “Listen graciously to the prayers of this family, whom You have summoned before You… O Merciful Father” I do look lovingly out upon the people God Has summoned to the Mass celebration. Or, when I pray the Roman Canon (EP 1), “Have mercy on us all, we pray, that (with Mary and the Saints) we may merit to be co-heirs to eternal life,” I look out at the people at Mass, because I am speaking about them, and me, in those lines. It just makes courteous sense. The same goes for the another EPline: “Holy Father, we humbly beseech you to accept us also, together with your Son…graciously to endow us with His very Spirit, who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.” I look up at the people during words like “we” and “us.”

Of course, during prayers with the elevation of the paten (Eucharistic Bread of Life, Who is Jesus) and the chalice (His Precious Blood), it is right to direct all attention on the vessels holding Our Lord as Sacrament. Again, I think these are common sense communication exercises, and not only theological sensibilities being in practice here. You look to what you are speaking about.
I also look quite a bit upward, as I address many prayers to Father God in Heaven.

Ad Orientam adherents say that we Catholics used to do Mass this way, with the priest facing the other way, so: How could it be wrong now to return to it? The answer to that is because we had Mass at a high altar way back then, and it was to the front far wall of the church. All of this, too, was far away from the people. It was another distance problem of the clergy praying Mass less connected to the people in the pews. Sometimes presider and pew persons were even 30 yards away in those high Masses. We gladly moved the Mass to where people could see it, as at a low altar close to the people. In the former, it sometimes communicated that the clergy were first class way up front, and the people/laity were second-class. Again. Just saying.

Ad Orientam persons just seem not to get that point about unnecessary clergy/laity separation, as they wish the churches just would move back to high altars and clergy turned around again. I call it one-way thinking. I have seen the AO Masses done, and the spirit of how they come across to regular persons in the pews (where I have been for the perspective), and I am not liking them, personally, and it would be uncomfortable to pray Mass that way for me. But it’s just my opinion here.

Yet let me keep going on here. Those wanting this re-arrangement cutely say that the priest will be facing then with the people. But what about the administering of Baptism, Anointing of the Sick and Dying, Reconciliation, Confirmation, or Holy Orders or Matrimony? The priest prays towards the people there. They aren’t in another direction as facing God then, right? Come on, this is simple!

For those who almost demand on this Liturgical East practice to come ahead, well, I think to ask for a clergy turn-around and major change to Mass is officious of the Ad Orientam–Liturgical East promoters. I love them, but I disagree with them on their proposal.

I think the church people and priest COULD USE use a RE-POSITIONING, but it’s of the hearts place at Mass, and not the feet of a presider. We need a different renewal than re-posturing. More on that later… as I’d like to say more on the communication lines.
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The AO Mass just seems to me as doing liturgy in poor communication technique. I am a radio-tv-film-theatre major in communications, and I approach matters in that vantage point. In a year-long Voice for Stage theatre class at the university, a fundamental lesson in its very first week was that we were to address the audience and to not speak upstage or offstage. It’s poor communication to turn your back on the people who are watching and listening to you. You speak TO them, not away. You also don’t turn your head down and speak to the floor. These simple theatre lessons apply here to praying Mass in a church, so I think. (I know Mass is not a stage performance, by the way, yet some basic similarities to Mass do apply.)

Let’s tie that into liturgy and theology in prayer. When the development of modern Catholic liturgy asked for more participation of clergy WITH the laity, and vice versa, and in their BOTH praying and taking part in Mass in a significant and complimentary way, it made great communicative sense for the Mass to be prayed by the priest FACING the people. What a blessed change it was for Catholics. I grew up through the change. What I noticed was that it fostered the SHARED prayer attitude at Mass. Beforehand, in history, having the priest’s turned back away from the people didn’t help the mutuality factor in praying Mass. The turn-around opened the Mass for all to better join in. I know that it benefitted my own prayer experience.

Seniors remember when the Mass was prayed Ad Orientam by a presider at a high altar (pre-1960’s practice), and it resulted in people more with watching and listening to “father” praying The Mass, as if the Mass was mostly a priestly prayer, and not the people’s. I remember my grandma praying a rosary during the whole Eucharistic prayer in those Masses way back then. It was her way of keeping active in prayer, instead of being left out during the priest’s praying of the Roman Canon. That’s how I interpreted her rosary actions. In the New Mass (People’s Mass), she began more to pray the Mass, especially enjoying the English words. It had been in Latin. Yet equal in impact to the language turn was the priest’s turn to now be looking at her and the congregation in Mass, inviting her participation. That she did. It was less watching and more joining in.

We have been blessed since Vatican II with the liturgy becoming inclusive and inspired for the congregation’s part, and not seeming just to be chiefly for the clergy. We had a problem before: The Mass used to seem like it was a priest’s prayer first, and a lay person’s only second-handed. The tip- off of this was the frequent line then: Who is saying/praying the Mass? (This meant–What priest is doing it?) Yet we ALL were praying the Mass–not just “father!” Were we not?! The phrases tipped off our viewpoint of things, like that the priest was the one celebrating Mass (as if others were attending to watch him celebrate). In yester-time, people asked: Who is celebrating Mass? (Folks would answer: Monsignor is.) Yet are we not all celebrating Mass, each of us? Indeed we ALL are praying the Mass, while vitally needing the priest to lead the prayer, of course.

A lot has gone on in 50 years of Catholic liturgical renewal, but it was greatly overdue when Vatican II brought changes. The Protestant influence of more inclusion for all their members in their worship services did show up Catholicism for perhaps being too clerical and a bit imbalanced in our own Mass participation. While our Catholic Mass and priesthood has always been so faithful to their founding by Christ, and so unique and holy and blessed and grace-giving, it’s celebration did seem to center much on the priest’s part, with not much joined on in prayer by others. This was the case for centuries! Even in recent times, when the Gloria and Sanctus were prayed (as the people’s part), often it was taken over by a choir singing it all on their own, and not generally by the congregants. (At least this was the experience in urban/city parishes, that had choirs.) The alternative often was the quiet and quick Mass, with prayers done, but a bit abruptly–and Sunday Mass was over in 35 minutes.

What a contrast that is to today’s Mass. I am so glad to be living in this era of renewal. Would we want to reverse that trend now? I have mostly been in musical and inclusive parishes since my youth and in through high school and college, and through to today in my ordained parish experiences. I live reaping the fruit of the reform to the Holy Mass. It was so needed. I enjoy how Mass is more a shared prayer now. I joined NPM for this reason a few years ago, supporting the help of the national pastoral musicians in the Church. They have a society, and clergy can join in. They contribute to liturgical renewal.

At one NPM convention I was asked about where I learned to love the Mass. I said, after parochial school days, it definitely was the engaged participation at the college Masses at Ohio University and the University of Maryland. We had a high level of involvement with the Mass there with our chaplains. I enjoyed Mass. I went on weekdays as well as weekends. I was being drawn in closer in intimacy with the Eucharist. I didn’t know much about all the renewal efforts of Vatican II, as I just was a collegian in the public, state university.

Yet now I see the liturgical force and blessing of Vatican II to get people singing and praying in an active way. I am in NPM now because is a vital organization for stirring the “full and conscious participation of the faithful in liturgy” and keeping the spirit of the liturgy. I also read the conservative books and periodicals (e.g. Spirit of the Liturgy, Adoremus news), so I am well taught of all that Sacred Liturgy means. That directive from Vatican II for full and conscious partaking was a gem. I remember reading those documents while playing guitar for parish Masses and college ones.

Has the Renewal really succeeded? I don’t know, as there are people that still seem to ‘watch’ the Mass, like as an outsider, missing the fact that THEY are praying it as surely as the priest. We so much want to involve that guy with the folded arms and emotionless face! Yet with the presider turned away from him, I think he will feel in-obliged to change, saying instead I’ll Let father do the Mass. I am just checking in here for the Gospel and Communion.

I read liturgical documents and go to liturgy conferences and talk liturgy with people in the Church. This Ad Orientam way of praying Mass has been explained by those asking for it as connected to our praying to the east for Christ’ Return, much like the early churches were oriented for the priest and people to pray Mass in that way.

It is true how some churches were built to point eastward, from as far back as 18 centuries ago. There was a tradition, though not widespread, for churches to be built facing east, as for seeing the coming of The Lord, Who told us He’s to arrive in Glory One Fine Day from the eastern sky. It was a very nice expression, to pray to the east and/or the sunrise. That the priest and the people both were looking eastward in prayer was logical for a Parousia believing people. Yet according to a long time scholar at Notre Dame University, named Bradshaw, there were not really as many such eastward churches through the ages. It was not a norm to point a church eastward. So, for the most part, priests and people were not praying eastward together in their Masses of long ago. If praying eastward together is important in Ad Orientam Mass praying, then there are very few churches actually aimed that way anymore. Take, for instance, our own experience today. St. Edward’s faces to the south. In fact, none of the ten nearest area Catholic parish churches to us do face eastward. Nor is our cathedral church of the Archdiocese pointing eastward at St. Matthew’s in DC, for it points to the north. (I say that they should re-point St. Matthew’s to aim towards the White House, as they need lots of prayer 12 blocks away at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.)

So the idea of eastward-looking priests and parishioners (for Jesus’ Return) really is not followed in practical terms.

(Ok. I’ll name some notable exceptions in Maryland. There are some east-pointing churches in places in Maryland, thanks to the Jesuits. Nearby in Charles County Md., St. Ignatius–Chapel Point was built purposely and precisely to the sunrise. In earlier Maryland times, it was a common practice to build east-facing churches. I can attest to that, as my parishes in St. Mary’s County of St. Aloysius and Holy Angels (Jesuit founded) are aiming eastward, as they always have been, although neither churches now have eastern windows to see out of. Thus, I suppose for the Jesuit parishes, they will be pointed aright for the Second Coming. They’ll see Jesus first in those churches, if they happen to be praying inside at the Second Coming. They’ll be pointed aright!)

But for the most part, we have not practiced the all-eastward anticipation at Mass. So, now, the AO Mass crowd have come up with a phrase, to answer the questions: Why can’t the priest and people still all point in one way? Can’t we all pray as like we were facing east? So this is how their phrase and idea of a “Liturgical East” idea came up. They say we should all pray as like we are aiming us, that is, in our hearts. Right?!! I don’t really get that! So here is a liturgical reform for a “*liturgical east” celebration, where and when all will be asked to face one way in church. Not east, but a “liturgical east.” What?! I don’t follow or figure what they seem to be making up.

Again, a “Liturgical East Mass” is one in which all members, including the priest, are facing the direction of the altar in a Christian church. It can be north or southwest or whatever, as long as all face one way “as to the Lord.” It is all about just what direction the altar is from the people and priest. Those who use this term in liturgy are focused on the altar, and a (supposed) one-directional focus on Christ, Who is present there in the Sacred Liturgy. It is done with the presider’s back to the people, whether west or northeast or such. He has to face the Altar, too. Away from the people.

“Liturgical East” just seems a made-up term, like the USA’s Three Day Weekend. We move a national holiday, like George Washington’s February 22nd birthday, over to a Monday, and give people a Monday holiday, and call it a three-day weekend. Yet really, only Saturday and Sunday comprise “a weekend.” Monday still is a Monday. Monday IS a weekday off, really, if given by the government. It’s a third-day off, but not really made into a three-day weekend. You see the point. You can’t make up an AO term like “liturgical east” without stretching reality, and doing a word play. Facing east is facing east. A liturgical east does not actually exist, so I think. One either IS facing true east or they are not in a Mass. You can’t make it up that you are eastward, if you are facing northwest. Sorry.

The term and movement behind it is an attempt to get the priest turned around from the people. It’s not a good communication form. I’ve made that point. If it’s a try to go back to pre-Vatican II styles Masses, then it is divisive and unwise to do that. Churches are not designed, either, to go back to the old ways, not for high altar Masses, certainly, nor for the low altar ones, practically.
What are they thinking, these Liturgical East advocates? Do they need a spiritual GPS?

Servant leadership from the clergy need to keep their wits about them. You don’t lead with your back to the people, unless you are George Washington crossing the Delaware, or John Wayne in a military hero movie, leading the charge of men up the hill.

Leading with a back turned? Funny, a music director wouldn’t do that in his leader role at a concert, as he mostly faces the orchestra or chorus. Nor would a teacher face away all day from their pupils in a traditional classroom. The facial contact is necessary. And as I watched the Summer Olympic rowing races, I noted the boat leaders facing towards their team of rowers, even while peaking ahead to their course. They don’t face away from the rowers they were leading. Yet they definitely were working as one team.

Why do the above examples of director, teacher, or front seat rowing persons lead as such? It’s because they all are guides and communicators. They have a distinct need to look at those to whom they are leading. Naturally. And, it’s a habit of good communication positioning.

As a priest, and when serving Mass, I see myself also as a communicator to the people, and not just communicating to God. Also, I see the role of priest as not only a participant at Mass, but also as Alter Christus in my Holy Orders. I present Christ through my being, ontically by ordination into Christ the Priest’ human sign of priesthood. I act “In Persona Christi.” Thus, it is a sensible liturgy enhancement that the people would be able to see me. It’s a good reason to face the people as a guide, communicator, and especially as a sign of Christ. It is appropriate, then, that I face the people in the Eucharistic Prayer. Even as a witness to Christ coming in Sacrament, for He is in Great Sign and Sacrament as the Body and Blood, I am looking towards Him. Therefore, we, as the people in church, one and all, are all looking to Jesus the Eucharist. The turning around the priest to face away from the people doesn’t add or improve to that. He still remains standing looking at the Consecration and the Body and Blood of Jesus, by either side of the altar. So why have the priest’s back to the people?

Just saying aloud here what comes sensibly to my mind. I may be missing some things on Ad Orientam and Liturgical East views…

As to the nice sounding “let’s all pray in the same direction” to the Lord’s Coming… I think Catholics already pray with vigilance for the Christ of Glory, with our lamps lit, as says the Word. The Second Coming’s Immanence is very evident in the Sacred Liturgy today of the New Mass. The Lord’s Coming is increased in awareness due to the peoples’ now praying The Mystery of Faith, along with praying now the Lord’s Prayer doxology, in her prayers of participation in the Novus Ordo (New Mass). Most of the people now pray/sing the Sanctus (instead of listen only to it sung by a choir) and they pray: “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of The Lord!” The Advent of the Lord’s Return is celebrated better today than a century ago. Thus, I don’t think we need a gimmick or new thing for looking to Christ’ Return, such as a necessary need to face eastward or in some liturgical eastward way.

However, here is a very good point I wanted to make in the final turn: The re-positioning NEEDED right now in the Church probably isn’t one way posturing of the clergy’s shoes, but IT IS OF ALL OF OUR HEARTS TO GET POSITIONED TOWARDS GOD. Pope Francis has given us all themes of joy, mercy and grace to ponder– for our better positioning, as we prepare the Way of the Lord. Here’s a pertinent question: Are people really having a jubilee of Mercy right now? THAT re-positioning to be fully in God’s Mercy is what’s important now to the Vicar of Christ. I don’t see enough of that kind of re-positioning in God’s people to the passionate appeal by Pope Francis to engage in fresh Mercy in our heart experience in this Catholic faith. His Holiness, Francis, has made the right call for the Church, and I think it was quite Spirit-led. We need Joy in the Gospel, fresh Mercy in our heart experience, and an appreciation of God’s Grace in our lives. That will get us ready for the Lord’s movement.

“Rend your hearts, not your garments” God said prophetically to His people. ‘O Pharisee, tear not your coat open, like in anger, and in resistance to God, but pour open your hearts to God, and be glad He has mercy on you, rather than give you what you might deserve for your sins.’ Are people really in jubilee of mercy in the Church? If so, then where are all the confessions? That’s a true sign of jubilee going on. Where are all the stories of mercy being celebrated?

Ok. Let’s finish up in the positive here.

God will come someday in His Gloriously arriving Son– in The Day of the Lord!! Could we hope even that He might return for us while we happen to be praying in a Mass? Wouldn’t that be nice?! Christmas Morning Mass would be an amazing choice for the timing of the Second Coming, now wouldn’t it?! Yet it could catch a whole lot of Christians by surprise, too. But maybe not catch by surprise at all in the Catholic who sincerely prays that Mystery of Faith for Christ’ Return, and the line of The Creed about “He will come to judge the living and the dead.” Maybe the Catholic listening intently to the Advent Gospel will also be ready and glad. zz

As for our readiness for the Parousia, Paul tells us (via the Corinthians) that the Teachings and Breaking of the Bread is a celebration of God’s promise. In each Mass (celebration) do we plead hope for Christ’ Return. St. Paul said “As often as you may eat this Bread and may drink the Chalice, you proclaim the Death (Sacrifice) of The Lord, until He comes.”

So it is true that the Mass gathers us in Christ’ Sacrifice, so we can be led to the Glory to be revealed in us. (John’s epistle message, or Romans)

Let us be reminded how Jesus was in and at the First Mass. In it, He was communicating love, sacrifice, humility, obedient service, and intimacy and common identity with them in instituting the Blessed Sacrament. I see Him being with the apostles in a Face-to-face way at the Last Supper. I think it’s the Catholic priest’s role today to communicate that same Sacred Heart example. However and wherever we do Mass, we clergy do need to imitate Jesus.

One Ad Orientam supporter even suggested that ‘those clergy of rival opinion might be priests with ego problems.’ It’s more true, sadly, that THEY with this reform idea are the ones with that issue of an EGO, and setting THEMSELVES as contentious for a change, They mistake pious directions for being difficult, and they are insensitive to the fact that the change to the new Missal is still a major adjustment for many people. To add more changes to the Mass presently will divide, not unite.

Visits on the property

imag0751_2We host people on the property sometimes for special things. For instance, we were the host of a gala anniversary Mass for a well-regarded DC Catholic woman, held in esteem especially by Black Catholics. A few clergy joined in to a congregation of mostly guests to St. Edward church. The party following Mass was at Camelot.

We had a Focolare Movement Mass visit on Saturday here, too. African-born Catholics from here and other places met and prayed here to recall with thanksgiving of how Focolare come to their aid back home some years ago to provide them a future of hope. These immigrant Catholics in America are living that dream today.

Who else is visiting us at St. Edward church? We have guests here for our parish talks. In October, we have had numerous persons come here on occasion to church to hear our guest speakers, such as on two recent Monday nights. On one of them, Fr. Mindling of Mt. St. Mary’s and a doctor and lawyer spoke on Respect Life Issues for end-of-life care for the sick and dying. He thanks the sizable crowd who heard this Bioethics talk. Brian Pusateri also spoke here on the Grace of Forgiveness, and helping people hear how to move from their own brokenness to blessedness, via openness of our need to share Mercy more whole- heartedly. He thanks folks who came out, both from our parish and from elsewhere, and he is glad to stay in touch via his 4th Day weekly email. imag0755_1 Google Brian Pusateri and 4th Day News to sign up for his letter.

Each month we host a Cursillo “Ultreya” meeting here on the property, as well as an Italian Club gathering in the church hall area. They both come in next week, with a mix of St. Ed’s members and outsiders.

Who else visits the property?
On the first Sunday of this month we had hundreds here for our outside Fun Day feast of St. Edward the Confessor. See the banner page for film footage of it.

In October we have had several funerals, making the church a gathering place of mourners. Yet, in a happy balance, we have had more baptism gatherings in church this month than for Masses of Christian burial. We also had two October Saturday weddings, bringing in families and friends here. The Wisconsinites and East Baltimoreans for Mike and Amanda’s wedding were fun to be with. The music and joy at Brian and Lisbeth’s wedding was quite special, too, for mostly a Bowie crowd in church.

Each month we host the Girl Scout mobile unit for supplies to members and to make local contact, so to save Scout leaders and members the long trip to GSA headquarters. The Mobile Unit was here last Friday, in our lot. imag0752_1 imag0747imag0746_1imag0743_1

Lastly, there is one group that comes on to our property now and then, but not willfully, but for being pulled over for speeding on the Mitchellville Road bend, where the Bowie Police like to enforce the traffic speed law. I saw the police here today (photo below), with a guilty motorist soon getting pulled over into our parking lot. It was the only case lately of a visitor to St. Edward not pleased or blessed to be here.
imag0748 Do you see the police car?

Recent blogs// 10-24 back to 8-24

Here are the blogs since late August.
OCTOBER14747641130451560106922
Starvin’ in Cleveland
(H) Exalted or Humble
To Jesus through Mary
Church of Mercy Quotes
Persistence in Prayer
(H) Persist, Why Don’tcha
Wedding Thoughts
Year of Mercy Logo
Nice School Guidelines
Brian Pusateri coming
(H) Turn the Corner with Faith
(H)=homilies
SEPTEMBER
imag0688Blue Cool School
Guess the Palindrome
(H) Things to Be Shared; Ourselves
(H) Funeral Homily for a Friend, Alex
Re-arranging words
(H) God sees what’s going on
MLB rounding third
Back in the school halls
Now for something completely different
Ministry Weekend
St. Teresa of Calcutta prayers
(H) Skyscraper building
Mother Teresa Canonization
AUGUST
(H) St. Augustine and Love
Essential Points in Marriage 1 & 2
What’s in a name
getImage

Starvin’ in Cleveland

Starving Seminarians!

I was pondering October 1983 today, because it was the last time when our local Baltimore Orioles were in the World Series. They won it over the Philadelphia Phillies, but they were to not return ever again (through to this Fall) to the promised land of baseball. The 2016 World Series starts Oct. 25. The American League representative is the Cleveland Indians.

I know Cleveland. I went to school there for a time.
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I can’t believe it has been thirty-three years since that 1983 Series with the O’s. I was thinking to myself—where was I watching that 1983 O’s Series win? I knew I didn’t see it in person, as I lived out of state then. It turns out I was in Cleveland in the seminary there in October 1983. I was two months in. It was a college seminary with a special pre-theology program. I, being a college graduate, was there for the pre-theology courses and formation program. About every night I was reading the Summa, the Bible, the Catechism, various philosophical works, Church history, pages in a Catholic encyclopedia, the Liturgy of the Hours and Lives of the Saints, reflections on the Sacraments, and other such lofty and holy works. I was praying in the chapel three times a day, including daily Mass.

But in October of that year, I fit in a lot of evening time in front of the common Seminary tv with my Orioles cap and shirt on. And we won it all.

There were some O’s fans in the seminary house of 225, but most of them were “locals” and thus were diehard Cleveland Indians fans. They were jealous of my O’s, with our having been to the World Series in 1966, 1969, 1970, 1979 and that 1983. I was a spoiled Birds fan. For them, Cleveland hadn’t even been to the World Series since 1954. They could only wish for the opportunity once more, when the Tribe would rise again. They were starving for a World Series team. I think of fellow sems back then like Jerry Bobrowski, loyal Tribe fan, and his baseball depravity of a winner. The Indians had been a lousy team for the 1960’s through the 80’s, so I respected Jerry’s rooting for Cleveland’s diamind boys, They would later have a brief spell in 1995 and 1997 of a Series team from their northern Ohio home, when the team peaked for a short time, but then Cleveland had been back on the outside looking in for years again.

But here we go! In 2016 the Indians put together a strong team, and they have advanced to the Series. 2016 could be the year the Indians win it all. It would be the Wahoo’s first Series winner since 1948, when ol’ Bob Feller and Bob Lemon pitched and Larry Doby and Lou Broudrea gave muscle to the line-up to go along with good fielding to their team.

Jerry’s probably got seats to an Indians World Series game this week. (Should I call him for help getting me a ticket? Probably not. He’d say—you had your chances—even if long ago now!)

Well, Cleveland hosts the first World Series game on Tuesday, Oct. 25th, 2016. I wish those home fans well. I called an east-sider named John of Cleveland up on the phone today to personally congratulate him and his team today. (And, if by some chance he can get tickets for me, for his ol’ buddy, I would comply to receive them!) I knew John in that seminary year 33 years ago, and we have kept in touch. I have kidded him about his inept Indians, and he has said in past times: ‘Wait ‘til next year.’ But not in 2016: It’s “Wait ‘til this year.” THIS is the magic year. Even the Cleveland Cavs NBA have already won a magical title for that former ‘mistake-on-the-lake’ city. Cleveland’s the place to be, baby!

But back to starving seminarians…. I was amused by my memory of those Cleveland fans who were starved for a winning team back then in 1983. I had gone to a few games at their old Municipal Stadium. The ‘starving’ for a winner also reminded me of us all being starving for food and snacks and drink back then, too, at school. The dining hall food was not too appetizing there at Borromeo Seminary. They simply had your real, basic grub, such as like for the Army. ‘Not much in frills or culinary thrills there! You really didn’t go for seconds on your dinner plate, either. One time through did it; your taste buds didn’t crave for more. There was not any room refrigerators for us, nor soda machines around, nor places (or the funds) to house much in the way of snacks in our rooms. So, in between our three humble meals, we were dyin’ for a snack or sugary drink, but there was none to be found. Most of the refrigerators and cabinets in the cafeteria and kitchen were locked up, to keep away any ‘seminarian vultures’ looking to raid the ice cream supply or good cookie supply of what was stored for our special treat desserts. Those treats came out for feast days like St. Francis of Assisi (10-4) or St. Charles Borromeo (11/4). The best in a ‘treat’ in a common day was a drink from lemonade junk juice machine or from the coffee pot always on at the kitchen.

We didn’t have money to waste on going out for snack runs or junk food, either, at least not on the Monday through Saturday mornings. You stayed in the seminary house (unless out on an apostolate) and you just lived on your allotted food portion. While we had had no solemn promise for abstinence of food, it felt like we were keeping such a vow! No one gained much weight. We were like angels for six days. But once in a while, somebody would get a stash of mom-made cookies or fresh popcorn or something, and they’d share it with their best friends in the seminary (or to anyone with such keen smell as to detect and come a-seekin’ the newly arrived food).

I was mostly a starvin’ seminarian, in that 1983-84 year of studies for the priesthood, but I had my delight in an Orioles World Series winner. Something I haven’t had since then, although snacks are available at my residence today in 2016, if I get the cravin’.

Now Cleveland has its crack for a baseball champ. I’ll be watching.

As for helping the seminarians, I try to take sems out for dinner when I can, especially in trips up to my other seminary alma mater of Mt. St. Mary’s. I never have got back to Borromeo in Cleveland.

The “exalted” or “humbled” person. Our Sunday homily

Do you identify mostly as being an “exalted” person or being as a “humbled” person? These two types are pointed out in Jesus’ account in Luke 18. As Jesus’ story goes, most arrogant types of people don’t ever see that as their problem, since clearly they feel superior, or feel justified in their lifestyle. While, in with most humble people, they will not say they are humble, but their actions will speak it. Humble is what humble does.

Maybe you or I would admit that we are more of the blend, of trying to be humble, but knowing we are selfish sometimes too. We hope that, with the Lord’s help, we are leaning much stronger to the humbler side!

In the context of this national election, just 28 days from now, haven’t you grown tired of the two major candidates acting so arrogantly, as like the fellow in the gospel today? ‘I am entitled to this high position…and I am glad I am not as awful as that other person over there, or their sort… and I am really the model person, even giving my money away to where I think it ought to go, and so you should be admiring my goodness. And, by the way, I am the self-made person, having not really not needing anybody’s help. I am my own success.’ The two candidates have sounded like that, much like the one whom Jesus pointed out who was too selfish and self-entitled.

It’s an interesting coicidence.

As we have grown tired and uncomfortable with such political bravado in this season, the Gospel says that then we can relate to God as He notes all of man’s proud antics. Yet, see how pleased Jesus was to see and hear an honest, humble plea of the tax collector, who communicated “Lord, have mercy on me.”

As the Word says today in Sirach 35, God does not begin in partiality to anyone. All types of people have the same consideration before Him, but as we fall into our selfishness and brokenness, like the Psalm prays, God gets less ‘access’ with the proud, while rather, He is able to draw near with the broken persons. Why so? Because they turn to Him for healing, and thus, He can save them. It is true simply for their openness.

In a witness story from Paul’s epistle to Timothy, God delights in the way that Saul the proud man was changed to become Paul the humble apostle. Paul writes how he himself feels very good rounding life’s turn to the finish line, knowing that he has learned humility and met the Lord and lived rightly. That ties in to the Gospel lesson…

We hear in Luke that the Son of God did clearly see the difference in the Temple area between one exalted man there in the front, and the humble man in the back. Jesus speaks about what He sees. To this day, Jesus sees where everyman stands before the Divine, which is the standard. The question or point is: Do we think that God sees us as proud and hard to work with, OR, as humble and ever wanting His mercy and love, desiring to keep growing in faith?

The arrogant man in Jesus’ account feels proud that he is a great person and so much better than most everyone else, and as deserving of that front row of favor. Yet Jesus sees it otherwise. Meanwhile, the man praying “Lord, have mercy” in the back turns out to be the one whom God can help and with whom He will honor.

Jesus taught that the exalted of the day, as in the self-important, the self-absorbed, the self-righteous, and the self-ish— could be facing later an eventual downfall, a dive, to the place of least consideration. As a proverb had famously said: “Pride goes ahead of the fall.” Arrogant pride isn’t a good thing to have, whether it be a smug religious-type like in the Gospel, or of the worldly kind. So Jesus encourages us to invite humiity by s free choice. Thus, to all His disciples, He instructed: “Humble yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Luke’s Gospel did explain early on, as it led off in Mary’s Magnificat prayer, how in Jesus, God would “cast down the mighty from their thrones, but lift up the lowly.”. In Luke 18 it is fulfills what Mary foresaw in Luke 1.

In a totally reverse view from fallen humanity’s take on matters, Jesus teaches how the humble will be the eventual ones in the favored, high, honored places in the end. Period. In His own human journey lived out, as for an example to us, Jesus is the most humble of men, even while possessing in Himself the greatest mind and talent and power ever held in a person.

Philippians 2 in Paul’s epistle sums Jesus up: ” While he held equality with God in His grasp, in His very nature, Jesus did not use it as something to His own advantage, rather, He humbled himself, in service, even accepting death on a Cross, so to save the many.” Paul concludes to the Philippians, that now Jesus, once Servant, is The Lord of all, forever, exalted at God’s right hand, so that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, before Him, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God.” That is what life in Jesus Christ offers, the most humble One is now the exalted One, and others who imitate Him will find the same final outcome: In HIm they’ll be glorified.

Jesus has a plan for us to happily living the humbled life. Are you in it?

Sometimes a simple means of knowing how to live in that plan is to follow a hunger for God. The humble person in the back of the Temple still hungered for God, praying “Lord, have mercy on me,” while the arrogant man in the front seemed content in his own self-righteousness, using his mouth to carry on about how much better he was than others. The problem with that is how he shows no room for letting God keep working, and in using others, for new opportunities. He won’t have any of that. Meanwhile, the man in the back seems open for more growth of faith.

I hope that openness to grow in faith is ours, at St. Edward’ parish, and I continue to present to you guest speakers to cover various areas of our Catholic Faith. As your pastor, I keep bringing in new people, because I think we need to keep growing in faith and keep receiving from others who have ministries of blessing in the Church. We have flown people in here to uplift us, like we did two Monday nights ago, in Brian Pusateri from South Carolina, and we have local Catholic experts driving here on this Monday (one is coming down from Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary tomorrow) to present the program you see in your bulletin today (and who’ve we’ve promoted for 4 weeks). And on Saturday we have a priest who comes down from Germantown to share Mercy stories and lessons he has heard via 12-Step groups.

In the past, St. Edward’s has had other great persons come in to present us talks in Apologetics (Tim Staples), Gospel Living (Frank Runyeo), Catholic Values (Chris Stefanick), and Prayer (an internationally known religious Sister–but I can’t remember her name). Yet we haven’t normally had have big crowds for them here– to my disappointment a bit.

Yet I do believe the Holy Spirit has been arranging all these guests for us for the good of the parish, and I do hope you can come to one or both talks THIS week, even for us all to finish well in this Jubillee Year, as we call out to Jesus: “Lord, have mercy. Help us to grow.” Amen.
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To Jesus through Mary

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A Religious Ed. teacher at St. Edward took a class period to teach on Mary, her help to us in prayer, and of why we have statues, shrines and Marian places of prayer. The children each made their own little shrine to Our Lady.

Are you interceding to Our Lord with the helper He gave us in His own mother Mary? Here is the Memorare Prayer, famous since the time of St. Bernard of Clairvaux of the 12th century.
“REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.”

I pray this above prayer with a parish women’s group (CWA-even Sunday afternoons), as we conclude a Rosary. The CWA are famous for using the phrase: TO JESUS THROUGH MARY. They say it all throughout their meeting and in greetings to one another.

FOR SERIOUS, SOULFUL ALIGNMENT WITH MARY, WHY NOT JOIN ME AND OTHERS FROM NOV. 5TH TO DEC. 8TH IN A 33-DAY CONSECRATION TO MARY, UNTO THE GLORY OF GOD? IT WILL USE THE BOOKLET 33 DAYS TO MORNING GLORY FOR OUR DAILY DEVOTIONAL PART. WE WILL BEGIN AND END THE JOURNEY WITH A MASS IN ST. EDWARD’S.imag0739_1