Knowing the Spirit Better

I am doing a personal three day retreat IMAG1390_2on The Holy Spirit.   I have a series of 14 half-hour talks on the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.   The series is done by a Franciscan priest I have met several times and been on retreat with for several Summers.

I am on my own instead of a communal retreat, so to concentrate just on this topic.

Fr. Barry

“Rebuilt” (model) church needs much re-consideration

7403_1I went to a “Rebuilt” Mass. I came as an observer of it, just another person in the crowd.  (No clerics on.)  It is a Mass within a new movement in Maryland to make the celebration of Mass more relevant to younger Mass-goers (though the Rebuilt founders may dress their approach up in other terms).   Here’s how it came across to me– it was like pulling in to a Cineplex today.

The church seemed more like an auditorium, and it was very dark inside, with commercials for the parish flashing on large screens up front.  On the way in through the main doors, I was passed by kids going out carrying paper plates of fresh pizza slices, adult men and women leaving with foam cups of hot coffee to their mouths, and a grandma in jeans and a t-shirt exiting while eating a banana.   That’s just for starters, folks.   (These people were leaving the café area of the parish, which I took a peak at before walking into the church part. These people were leaving from the prior Sunday liturgy.  But how often do you run into people leaving Mass with slices of pizza?!   But I knew I wasn’t at the Cineplex, but at a Catholic church for Mass!   I joked to myself:  “Maybe their dismissal to close Mass is:  The Mass is ended, go and eat pizza.”)

There was a greeting team and a parking team to hold open the door to church and to tell me exactly where to park beforehand.  As I pulled up the church driveway, I saw a couple walking in from the neighborhood street, and it occurred to me that they did so because they wanted to choose their parking situation.   After Mass, in the scramble of people coming and going, I understood why they chose the far-away spot.  ‘Twas quite a parking mess.  Obviously, the parish will need to schedule Masses at least 2 hours apart in the future (and not 90 minutes), lest someone and their banana gets run over in the confusion out on the lot between liturgies.

In watching people coming out from the earlier Mass, I did notice smiles on faces, and a good number of families in the crowd. Ah, a big positive!  People liked this parish!  Well, that was a very good sight to see!   People walking in to Mass also looking pretty happy to be coming.  That was refreshing.

As I saw the arriving congregants, I also saw a more younger crowd, with numbers of new families.  There were not many older persons over 65.  Maybe 5%, which in Catholic America is quite odd.  Well, it’s a positive and a negative here on that accord.

Well, a second negative was noticeable.  Most of the people all looked the same race and/or middle or middle/upper class background.   This sameness among the people was a little off-putting to me, because I knew the Maryland area of the parish church was more of a blended area, even though in a partly-affluent corridor out of the city. The congregants were almost all dressed in casual cool or just in plain jeans and shorts.   (Even more dressed-down that one going out to dinner somewhere.  There was an abundance of Orioles t-shirts in the attendees of Mass, suggesting maybe that they were including the struggling team in their intercessory prayers.  It worked, as the O’s won today–even with Chris Tillman pitching! 🙂    A man who did walk in to Mass wearing a suit did stand out among the incoming Mass-comers.   There was just a casualness in this parish that spoke of some lack of reverence here.  Of course, I have seen this casualness in other places– just not so dominantly (except at Beach parishes in the Summer).

As some of my first impressions were not so good here, I reminded myself that I was going to try to be positive, and not to come in with a critical attitude.  After all, this was my Sunday Mass obligation, as well.   I came incognito, and sat in with the congregation today.

As I walked in to a darkened church, I could make out an altar, a presider’s chair, an ambo, a crucifix, and some lit candles on stands up front and center.  Check: I was in a Catholic church.   One problem: No visible tabernacle, no sanctuary lamp.

What got one’s attention instead were the large screens flashing announcements and commercials above me, and everybody in the church was talking to one another, or checking their phones for messages (but not looking at Catholic Apps, such as one to prepare for liturgy!).  I saw only a minimal of people remaining quiet or looking like they were praying.   A young lady was taping something live on a tv camera just three pews away from me, evidently for their broadcast of this show, er, Mass, later on to the parish web site.  She was a distraction.

Relevance all too often sacrifices reverence in a church.   I immediately saw that here.

The band members were not a distraction, as they stood discreetly off to the side.   They were my lone witnesses to some respectful attitude before Mass.   Their drums and guitars were up on a platform, which rivaled the altar space for attention.   As Mass started, the band walked on.  From then on, people would be looking off to the side at them, or up at the big screens, about half as much as they would be looking at the lector or priest or altar.  These side distractions would hold a lot of the attention in Mass.   Still, the members of the band before and during Mass seemed to be the most reverent people in the house.   More on them later.   Mass has not started yet.

There was no kneeler to position oneself humbly for pre-Mass prayers.   There were no missalettes to check out the readings for Mass (although I always do that at home before I come in to Mass, so it was no loss for me, as I knew of the Jeremiah reading, the Psalm, the epistle, and the “what you hear in the dark, you must speak and proclaim in the Light” Gospel of this Sunday).   Thankfully, there were no parish bulletins to be found, so no one was eyeing them as pre-Mass reading material.  🙂

It was past the time for Mass to start, but we hadn’t begun yet.  There was no sign of a procession to be coming in of servers, cantors, deacon and priest.  However, there was a video welcome given to us from the big screens by two spokespersons for the parish, and many explanations to be made of what to do.  Next, another video came up about when the children would be leaving for their “Time Travel” session.   Now, finally, came the opening song.

The words to the opening song were up on the screens, and the music group was lively and contemporary.   I liked the way the group sang and played, but I did not know the song, nor did the people around me, so we mostly watched and listened to them sing and play.   I am not sure how the priest and one server got up to the sanctuary, but suddenly they were there. (Did they rise up from below the stage?!)   The Sign of the Cross opened us up, and a Penitential Rite by the presider.  The Gloria was a rousing 2017-sounding one, perhaps written by this parish group.   I sang along, as I could.  A member near me sang along pretty loudly and enthusiastically.  That was nice to notice.  As the Collect was prayed, I noticed something a little odd.  The presider wasn’t facing us, but he was facing diagonally away from us, angled toward the altar from his presider’s chair, positioned beside the altar ten feet away.  A lone teen or young adult altar server held the Missal for the priest, and I noted that the young man had an earpiece, receiving instructions from someone controlling the Mass from some side place.  Odd again.   Oh, now I got it, the priest was looking into a camera.  We, the live congregation, he had his back to.   Just great!   Check: negative.

In the back of church was a lighting ministry and a sound ministry.  From the appearance of it, they were paid helpers for Mass, vital to the liturgy, and helping with all the slides.  Ushers were going up and down the aisles spying for free seats about.

When the Liturgy of the Word began, the only slides to go up were the responsorial words of the Psalm song (which was not the Lectionary Psalm) and some text of the Gospel.  The church remained dark throughout the Mass so we could see the slides.  (If you had brought a St. Joseph’s Missal for assistance, then it would not have helped unless one used a cell phone light to see it.)   This lack of text is not much of a problem for me, since I think The Scriptures should be heard as proclaimed, rather than read along in the pew by persons looking down towards their missalettes.  I get that concept.  However, I have a comment about it.  This way that the Rebuilt Mass does the Word requires a very good lector to do it, and one who does not have an accent.   In most parishes, that would disclude many Africans, Asians, South and Central Americans from being lectors.  Heaven forbid a Jamaican or Australian or even Green Bay Wisconsin-ite be chosen to proclaim the Word, due to the need that all could understand each Scripture verse proclaimed (since a text can’t be followed).   Just saying.   It’s an exclusionary way this church does the Liturgy of the Word– for good communications’ sake.   The human factor was orchestrated here.   Not so good.

I was ready for a good homily.  The pastor-priest was proclaiming the Gospel and preaching today in Holy Mass.   Yet I was disappointed by what came next.   After proclaiming the Gospel, he merely summed up the readings and showed their ties to not being afraid to be the Lord’s voice or witness to the world.   Then he advertised that a series on Moses was coming at the tail end of Mass (though Moses isn’t in any Summer readings of Year A cycle, as far as I know).   Yet I like theme preaching a lot, so I looked forward to this post-Communion homily to come, since we were quickly standing up now and praying the Apostles’ Creed.

I checked the time, and it was only 25 minutes into Mass.   We were going in fast speed.   No break for any silence either.  The Offertory Song to follow the Universal Prayer was a familiar praise song of charismatic prayer meetings, so I knew it and joined along in the song.  No procession of gifts was done.  Soon, we were moving into the Eucharistic Prayer(EP).  Surprisingly, the Holy Holy song was the sung Latin Sanctus, of which the Praise Band took a break and it was almost an acapella  prayer.   We were signaled to sit for the EP.  (No kneelers.)   A few tried kneeling, but there was no room for that.

I watched the presider through the Mass, and he was pretty expressionless throughout, during a Mass with lots of high tech and praise band excitement.   A little odd.   He seemed to be doing things in a hurry, too.   He prayed a normal Eucharistic Prayer and did the elevations properly of Body and Blood, though.  As the Peace Rite exchange began, he was breaking the bread and the Lamb of God was sung and done quite soon.   Just one Lay Minister joined Father in the sanctuary space at the Lamb of God (to serve a church of 300).   I wondered about that in the moment, comparing the number of parking lot ministers I saw while pulling in.

As Communion started, the Praise Band didn’t receive, but went into singing right away, and I didn’t see them receive during the Mass.   I also noticed that other lay ministers appeared with ciboria, but not with Eucharist from the altar or a tabernacle in the altar area.  Odd.   They just appeared in numerous places with the Eucharist from somewhere, and the Communion Rite was finished up pretty quickly.   It was only 42 minutes in when the Prayer after Communion was done, without a call for people to stand up for it, nor for the blessing.   The priest prayed in the diagonal direction away from the people again, and then abruptly announced: “The Mass is ended.”    But the church experience was not over, just simply paused.   A dismissal of children from the church to their programs was announced, and a layman came up and then gave an 18 minute Moses talk, complete with slides, as the presider sat in his chair, again looking a bit detached and unemotional about everything, even as the pastor of this whole operation.   The lay teacher taught us how Moses had an attitude of gratitude.

This lay teacher did a very good job on the Moses teaching, and then we all stood, with the children come marching back in on a cue, and we sang a short closing song.   There was no procession out.   When the song ended, the priest shook some hands up front.  Most of the congregants went out into a café area to have donuts and coffee, and fruit, and bagels, and best of all, slices of fresh pizza.

I wondered about the value of the Eucharist inside of us as we lined up for pizza.  I decided to skip the pizza.   I took a walk around and I saw the babysitting ministry room, the little kids room for ministry, and the Time Travelers room, and some other rooms for during Mass/Moses talk occupation of the young.    (I stood in the Time Travelers room and wished to be at the 1983 World Series in Baltimore again, but nothing happened.)

I had managed to get inside and out of this “friendly parish” without anyone walking up and saying hi to me, except for a quick sign of peace in Mass, and I tried to go up and talk to a musician after Mass, but they turned away to talk amongst themselves.   I realized later that they were paid to play all the Masses of the morn, as well was likely the lector a paid person.   That ‘professionalism’ did not lend to those folks acting like regular members.  Not, at least, to my observation.  Paid help can act differently at or in a Mass or afterwards.  No surprise in that.   But not ideal!

Outside there were many people talking on the plaza, or hanging awhile in the café.   The mood was pretty good, except for the parking lot, as people for the next Mass were arriving, but not finding available parking spaces.   The parking ministers had a job on their hand keeping people calm out there.   If only Moses could have parted and opened up some new spaces somewhere, for a safe but late exodus of the 1030 Mass Folk and a safe arrival of the Noon Mass new folk.

I realized as I drove away that I hadn’t genuflected or blessed myself with holy water before my departure, until I realized that no one did at this parish.   It’s different.

My favorite part of the experience was the contemporary music, though it had its flaws.  I also liked that the children’s and youth ministry were bringing and leaving happy faces on the young (along with chocolate donut frosting).

The “Rebuilt” (model) church needs much re-consideration.

I noticed they are building a bigger church on the grounds.  Perhaps the old space can be used as a parking garage (but I got a feeling they’ll use it as a mega-café).  Or perhaps the new space and the present space is planned as one big space for worship, since they have the megachurch in mind with this place.

I am happy that many ‘Timoniniums’ and O’s fans are coming to Mass at this parish.  We need people coming to Sunday Mass.   I just wondered:  Is THIS how we are to go about it?

I liked the contemporary music– well, at least to a point.   The music ministers were the best part of the liturgy.   Since I have a liking to contemporary praise music, I did enjoy it.   However, the Mass needs to have its Liturgical Music, as well, which they really did not offer at the ReBuilt parish here. (I am a member of the National Pastoral Musicians Association for the reason of promoting liturgical works in the Mass, even contemporary ones, but not just Praise Band music.  That music has its place.   I really like it– but in its proper place.)

More comments…..  I did like the Moses presentation, but it was odd that the preaching of the day was by a layman, and not the clergyman   Yet I did like that people in the pews were staying for a Bible teaching of 18 minutes, as all Catholics very much need more Bible study and faith education.   I have tried many ways in my own parishes to present as such.   Sometimes it has led to longer Sunday homilies by me to get the message across, all with a 60-minute Mass limit in mind.    I know Catholics need so much more knowledge of the Bible and Catechism and Apologetics and The Saints– they do need so much more than the little many settle for.   ReBuilt, at least, is trying a creative way to keep Catholics in the pews for some teaching time.   Yet the sacrifice of the priest’s homily time is too much.    So, there’s a positive and negative comment in one there.

Other positives:  I liked that the babe’s and children’s and pre-teens had a ministry for them on Sundays, and that a whole lot of people were involved in their parish (even if for selling $1 pizza after Mass).   I figured that a high number of paid persons were needed for this whole operation to work, so I wondered all that worked out financially, or how much another parish (like ours) could copy it on a smaller budget.   I guess if you have the higher collection, then you can pull more ministry off.  Bravo to them that they pulled it off.   Our parish cannot afford a band, nor light and sound and screen/computer teams, nor paid staff on Sundays for all the ministries, nor the Security Guard (off duty Baltimore policeman) they had present.  Phew!

A major negative:  I think Jesus was lost in all of this.   Yes, He was glorified in the songs, and honored in the prayers, and mentioned centrally in His House, but all the trappings (music band, lights, cameras, screens, noise) took much away from His being honored and revered in His own Mass.   The priest, His sign, also seemed secondary to the liturgy, even while it all depended on his being there.   A general feeling of it being a religious drama show, with music, almost overwhelmed the Mass, and there was precious little reverence felt there for the one Centrality there that deserved the most respect:  Christ as Eucharist and the Sacred Offering at Mass.

Yes, we got Communion at this Sunday Mass, and we did acclaim Jesus— but it was such an unfamiliar way of doing it.   The boxes were checked of Catholic things to do in a proper Mass, but the Mystery seemed to be missing in the middle.

I think the Catholic Sunday Liturgy does need some of the elements and modern adaptations present at the Rebuilt Mass.   I get where they are coming from, but I am not sure where they are going, and I am unsure about how they are going about this reform.   I came as a person very interested in what they were trying to do here, but I am unsold on it at this time.   I am a fan for their trying, and in doing so as Catholics, rather than departing independents trying to re-invent the Christian Church.

But I think the “Rebuilt” program had better re-group! 

I have read all their materials in the past few years in attempting this project.   I like some ideas a lot, but I am flummoxed and offended by some other ideas of theirs.

But I just had to take a Sunday and go see a ReBuilt Mass for myself.    I did this today, leaving my retreat house to drive to this liturgy.  I wrote this review back at the retreat house.

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Consider Who the Host is at any Catholic Church.   He is Jesus.   The Attention needs to be on Him in any Mass, whether a Cathedral Mass with choir or a daily Mass in a simple country chapel.   His Presence in the Church, via the reserved Blessed Sacrament, is the first consideration of ‘noticing Him’ when one enters the Catholic parish church.   His Presence in the Priest, via Holy Orders, is an important focus as the prayers of Mass take place.  The priest presider/celebrant should reflect this and he should be aware of it.  Then the Word in Scripture announces Him.   The Eucharistic Prayer really ought to be prayed along (participated) by the faithful on their knees.  The Lord is Come to us in Mass.   The Eucharist and its thanksgiving is such the vital experience of the Mass.   It must not be lost amidst all else going on around it.  When I leave the Sacred Liturgy, the Peace of The Presence needs to be central.  The communal experience of prayer needs its key link to the action at the Altar (The Miracle of the Lord’s Supping with us) and our being commonly fed by the One Loaf Who is Christ, Bread of Life. IMAG1245

A Summer Weekend “off”

IMAG1388_1I take note that Summer has officially arrived on the calendar.   The heat is already here, and its time to sip the lemonade or slurp up a cold drink to cool one’s self.   On the Church calendar, it is back to Ordinary Time, all the way.   No special Trinity or Corpus Christi specials.

This is a week I chose to relax and vacate a bit, for a little vacation and a little retreat time.  And I am enjoying it.

The two retired clergy who helped us all year have stepped up to filled all my Mass slots in this week, so, thanks to Fathers Hill and Mallari.

I get to pick where I will be praying on Sunday for Mass.  That’s a rare opportunity.  I am always at St. Edward.  I will get to hear how a deacon, priest/bishop preaches the Word for this 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time. We have Jeremiah’s strong sense of God’s “watching his back” as He lives his life boldly for God.  We have the Psalmist begging the Lord for His “great kindness” to answer a dear prayer of his.   We have the Romans 5 verses on the Grace of God, fittingly coming along in this Year of Grace.   (I’d have preached solely on it.)   We have a Gospel with Jesus exhorting His Twelve to be bold witnesses of the Way and Message, and it ties back to the opening prophetic message of Jeremiah.

Do you look each week at our Liturgy of the Word before it is presented at Mass?   Do you look at our Five Loaves show on the parish web site for a reflection and a song on the Sunday Word?

Think on that…

Now back to important matters—- 

Kites sail in the Summer Wind.

V

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Year of Grace Pure Offering

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“He has robed Himself in Glory:  Blessed Be the Lamb.”.  Let us draw near to be embraced in the Pure Sacrifice He has afforded in Himself.

In this Year of Grace, we can come to re- appreciate how God offers us in the Church a pure offering of Himself to apply into our broken lives.

The Eucharist Host and the Blood from the Cup afford us a means of receiving the purity of the Lamb Jesus.  His Sacrament giving (“This is My Body…My Blood”) extends a Gift of Grace for the Perfect to meet the imperfect.  God intends to heal us into an eventual perfection of being.  It will come from Him, not us.

It makes the Holy Mass and the sharing of Christ as Sacrament so vital.  How can one deny their need for such a Presence?!

Who will heal and perfect us?  The Lamb.

Behold, the Lamb of God…. blessed we who are called to sup with Him.

Sad it is for those who might try to present themselves before God without having prepared for ‘their robes’ to be washed fully clean in His Blood.  Or try to present themselves on their own standing.  That won’t work.

Blood of Jesus

Blood of Jesus, save us.

A book called “Jesus Now” highlights a list of  things (which the author names) that the Blood of Christ “does” (as in a present experience to the believer).

What the Blood of Christ Does

1.  It remits sins (Matt. 26:28).     2.  It gives life to those who consume it (John 6:53).   3.   It causes us to dwell in Christ and He in us (John 6:56).   4.  It is the means by which Jesus purchased the Church (Acts 20:28).   5.  It is the means by which Jesus becomes our atonement through faith (Rom. 3:25).   6.  It justifies us and saves us from wrath (Rom. 5:9).   7.  It redeems us (Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).    

That’s the first third of the list.  So, look above at it:  Do you need remission of sins and new life in you?  Do you want to dwell together with God presently, via His help? Then, plead the Blood of Christ.

Will you let the Blood purchase you , that with other believers, God may form you by it into Christ’ Church ( and by His way, not yours)?  Do you understand your need for a Savior (via His Blood for yours) to atone you? Do you want sure allegiance with the Almighty before the wrath to come?  Are you interested in Jesus redeeming your life?

These are the kind of questions of which should be posed among all 21 points in this blog. We need the Blood of Christ. Let this continued thought stir you deeply….

Let’s continue… the Blood of Christ…

8.  brings those who were far away from God near to Him (Eph. 2:13).  

9.  grants us the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14).  

10. brings us peace and reconciliation to God (Col. 1:20).

11.  has obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12).  

12.  cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14).

  13.  …is the means by which we enter the most holy place with boldness (Heb. 10:19).  

14.  speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24).  

Go through that last 7 provisions of the Saving Blood of Jesus. Do you need the Lamb’s Blood?

Again, ask: why does the Church daily plead and present the Blood of Jesus in our Masses?  Why do we present a crucified Lord on our crosses as Catholics?   To honor and ever experience the Blood of The Lord.

Now let us complete the list.

What does the Blood do?

15.  It sanctifies us (Heb. 13:12).

16.  It makes us complete for every good work (Heb. 13:20-21).  

17.  It cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  

18.  It bears witness in the earth along with the Spirit and the water (1 John 5:8).  

19.  It is the means by which Jesus washes us (Rev. 1:5; 7:14).  

20.  It is the means by which we overcome the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:11).

These 20 points show the worth of participating in the Holy Mass regularly, where and when Jesus actually presents His Body and Blood as Sacrament to us. The priests show forth the Paschal Mystery: “This is my Body …This is My Blood of the Covenant…for you.  Receive it.”

What many times we are presented Jesus Blood for our salvation!  

Therefore, let us today thank God for the “precious” blood of Christ . . . the “sprinkled” blood of Christ . . . the blood of “the new covenant” . . . the blood of “the eternal covenant” (1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 12:24; Luke 22:20; Heb. 13:20).  For there is “life in the blood” (Lev. 17:11).  “This is My Blood, of the New Covenant, which will be poured out for the many, for forgiveness of sins.” (Mt. 26, and consecrating text of Eucharistic Prayer at any Catholic Mass).

Every Mass Jesus brings this Blood to us via Sacrament.   The image in the church of Jesus on The Cross ( a crucifix, not only a cross) is purposefully there for a sober reminder.  It calls attention to the altar below it, where the Real Presence comes, in Jesus ‘ Body and Blood.

The Body and the Blood via Holy Mass. A reflection for Sunday’s theme.

BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST SUNDAY  (Corpus Christi)    A Homily teaching then a review of the parts of Mass

The Church celebrates Holy Mass daily.  In fact, in every minute of any day very many Catholic Masses are going on around the world.   Catholics in the Lord’s Body are truly living out what St. Paul hoped for in The Church that we “proclaim the Lord’s death/ sacrifice, until he comes again (1 Cor. 11.26.).”   This was the hope he expressed, doing so in that famous chapter in his letter to Corinth ‘s Christians where he tells about how valued the “Lord’s Supper” is to the mission of The Church.   Indeed it is, and we so value it today.

The Catechism says: “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.”  [Lumen Gentium 11” CCC Part. 2, Article 3]   It adds, “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”  PO 5

In our valuing Holy Mass, let’s go back to a teaching in the Catechism, #1348. “Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is He Himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing Him that the bishop or priest acting in the person of Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis) presides over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the offerings, and says the Eucharistic Prayer.*  All (in the Mass) have their own active parts to play in the celebration, each in his(her) own way: readers, those who bring up the offerings, those who give communion, and the whole people whose “Amen” manifests their participation.”     (*In an added holy orders part of the Mass, a deacon may be assisting in too, too.)

God partakes in the gathering at each Mass.  We meet Him in His Son, the Lamb, in a particular way, and meet Him via His Spirit as coming among us to inhabit, bless and anoint us into being his people.  He showers down grace about those abiding faithfully in the bread of life, Jesus.    It is a vital work of God among us, and it is always going on for us, thanks to Catholics and persons who responded to vocations of service to the Mass and Our Lord and the life of His Church.

End of Homily

Now: I invite you to make a review of the Mass

Order of usual Mass for a Sunday

There are four main parts of the Mass, as shown below.   There are about 35 points in the Mass that have a name and a certain role in the Sacred Liturgy.   Take a look below and ask:  What does each part and point mean to me?   How do I experience the Lord in each, and how does He experience my participation?   How am I engaged with my fellow congregants at Mass, as we harmonize our place in the Body of Christ together?

Intro Rites     Entrance (Song or Antiphon)   Sign of the Cross    Greeting   Penitential Act   Glory to God     Collect

Liturgy of the Word   First Reading     Responsorial Psalm     Second Reading     Gospel with its opening Acclamation Homily   Profession of Faith (Creed)   Universal Prayer(also called General Intercessions)    Collection   Offertory Song

Liturgy of the Eucharist    Presentation of the Gifts and Preparation of the Altar      Prayer over the OfferingsEucharistic Prayer Preface/    Holy, Holy, Holy/   First half of EP, including the Consecration   Mystery of Faith    Second half of prayer, ending with Doxology  (thru. Him, with Him…)    The Great Amen.)   The Lord’s Prayer            Sign of Peace      Lamb of God     Communion   (Communion song or antiphon)    Prayer after Communion

Concluding Rites    Optional announcements   Commisioning of any Eucharist ministers to homebound            Greeting and Blessing        Dismissal     Recessional Song/or silent exit of presider and others.   (Thanksgiving prayer)

Trinity Challenge :)

A Trinity Joke
At the interfaith center, it wasn’t always easy for the various religious groups to share the same space.  Once, the Catholics wanted an earlier Saturday vigil Mass time for worship on one late Saturday afternoon, but the Jews wanted to use the same worship space for extended Sabbath prayer to sundown that same day.  

To settle who would get the worship space for the day, the community center leader asked the priest and rabbi leaders to have a short, friendly debate, and he’d decide the winner, who would then get the interfaith center for the extra time.  Both Only one faith community The Catholic pastor decided that he and the Rabbi could have a little debate contest on the priest and rabbi agreed. The Jewish rabbi agreed that the priest could pick any matter to debate, even on the subject of the Holy Trinity.   The priest agreed likewise. So the priest chose to have them debate on the existence of the Holy Trinity.   

So the interfaith community center leader hosted the public friendly exchange, and told them:  Let’s add a condition:  No words can be used in this debate, only gestures. I won’t ask questions, either. You just make non- verbal motions to each other.  I will give you 5 minutes. Begin.
So the priest and rabbi shook hands on it.   It all became quiet. The arbiter said:  Father Pat, you go first. Rabbi Benji, you go second in response to him.
Both nodded.  Pat and Benji sat opposite each other for a half-minute before the priest raised his hand and showed three fingers.   Rabbi Benji looked back at him and raised one finger.
Then a pause.
Then the priest waved his fingers in a circle around his head.   Benji shrugged at first, but then pointed to the ground where he sat.
So, then, Pat pointed to a tri-leafed shamrock in the room.   Benji quickly pointed to a rose, also in the room.
Then Fr. Pat opened up his travel case and showed a large wafer host and a small bottle of altar wine in it.  Benji then pulled out an apple from his windbreaker pocket.
Fr. Pat stood up and spoke, I give up. This man of God is too good. The Jews can have the worship center extra on Saturday, we’ll move our vigil Mass back an hour or so later on the date in question.

Soon afterwards, the Catholics who had witnessed the debate were all around their priest to ask him what had happened.  Fr. Pat explained, First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity.  He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still One God, a belief common to both our religions….Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us, and by Jesus leading us to Heaven. He responded by pointing to the ground and showing that God was also right here with us on the earth and that most things in the above and beyond still lay hidden…. then, I showed him how a shamrock has three parts to one plant, showing how God is Trinity, yet he quickly showed me how God was called in Scripture as the single Rose of Sharon, and that the rose’s thorn was for the long-suffering of Messianic faith…. then,
I pulled out the unconsecrated bread and wine to show that the Sacraments unveil mysteries from Heaven to unite us ahead to God the Father to His banquet table.  But Rabbi Benji pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin, and that Adam was probably the first Jew, never ever a Catholic, and how Adam probably didn’t comprehend a Trinity God.  
Father Pat surmised: This rabbi had an answer for everything. What could I do?
Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Rabbi Benji.
What happened? they asked.Well, said Bengi, First he said to me that the Jews had three hours to get out of here. I told him that not even one of us was leaving. 

Then he told me that this whole city would be soon filled with Catholics in worship, not us.  I let him know that, no, we were staying right here.
And then Reverend Pat pointed to a plant in the room, and who knows why (?) –so I just looked around the room and saw a rose in a vase on the table in there.  I just pointed to it for no particular reason, outside that it too was a plant… I don’t know….

One of the synagogue members then asked about the bread and wine and apple symbolism, if there was some deep meaning to it.  Rabbi Benji explained how it was no big deal: 
He pulled out his lunch, and so did I, then! ….  I was surprised that he stopped our debate so soon– I guess he was eager to go and eat his lunch! ….So we won the debate and we get the interfaith worship center space for that extra time on that Saturday ahead!

Trinity Sunday Homily

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“I Have Much More to Tell You” is the homily title today, taken from Jesus’ lips

Could we imagine all that there is of which Jesus want to tell us, beyond what we know now?   Oh, He says that is MORE (even MUCH MORE) that our Lord and Savior Jesus wants to tell us.   To his loyal apostles, He adds, “but you cannot bear it right now– this receiving more– but The Spirit Whom I will send will help you receive MORE.  So, cooperate with the Spirit of Truth coming to you.”

I have much more to tell you.   That line and theme does sounds like a joke on me, who always wants to tell a lot in my homily messages, in these short times I have in the pulpit here to preach and teach and exhort and inspire you.   To some I have succeeded and satisfied you.  To others, I held your interest, but maybe not so much inspired you with my subjects or points.  To still some others, you just did not want me to take long to say it– for one reason or another– and some liked my preaching, and others didn’t.

Don’t go too long, Father, as we can only take so much!’  I have seen that message on a few faces in the pews numerous times through the decade.  A few of you have voiced your displeasure with homilies of mine that normally have gone beyond the five-and-a-half-minutes you wanted me to take.   Yes, I’ll admit it, I have served some overflowing plates of preaching through the decade here.   I just have wanted you to have a lot to consider for your faith growth, but maybe now and then I could have pulled up a bit shorter in some messages, and said:  I have much more to tell you… but not today!   And some of you might have said: ‘Whew!  Thanks for the brevity this time.’

I could make this Holy Trinity real short today, too, but just saying one line:  The Mystery of the Holy Trinity is just that– a mystery.

And I could move us then right away into the Creed, and have Mass done in 39 minutes………………..   Sorry, that would be too obvious and trite here!

In this time of year, Pentecost into Trinity into Body and Blood Sunday, the Gospel takes us into John’s teen chapter messages.   And there is a line in John 17 that sums up our journey into these liturgies of The Church, heading into Summer.   It’s verse 3 that goes “And THIS is eternal life, that they might KNOW You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…”   We need to know God and via His revelation in Jesus Christ.    It’s gospel nuggets like that which compel me to try to stir your thirst for knowledge in the Holy, and give you all I can from the pulpit, albeit in my imperfect manner and delivery and clarity.   I just wanted to stir you, and myself, to hunger and thirst for the knowledge of God, even in this life on earth, before what comes in the next.

What is it today I am pondering aloud for you?   It is about Jesus – Who has always existed as the Wisdom at the Father’s side – who came as Revelation to us.  Jesus said it that “no one has seen God in His Infinite Wonder, but now through Him we can have revelation… even that he or she who has seen Jesus can know the Father!

Yes, even those who have experienced Him, sweet Jesus… and experienced His saving love… His enlightenment….His bridge to the Spirit of Truth— can realize that God is seeking that hunger for He has much more to tell us, show us, and love in us.  Do we desire it?  Do we desire it?

The answer through the generations has been, YES, some people have really desired Him.  And found Him.   There is a title for Jesus in that category, as He is called The Desire of Nations.  It comes in Scripture in Haggai 2, verse 7.  Those digging for knowledge in the Bible can find God there in that verse coming fully alive to you in a Bible meditation or study.

Let me read it aloud for you out of the prophet Haggai:  “I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come” (Haggai 2:7). This fascinating verse apparently has a double meaning. It applies first to the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel, and if you know a bit of your Jewish Testament history, the remnant steadfast Jews wanted their center and touch-point of God back with them.  God’s prophet says that in that spirit for a rebuilt Faith, then God would promise to such that the wealth of the nations would flow into their temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus is that rebuilt temple, as He said in conclusion of His ministry, ‘there is a temple here that will be raised up in three days, for all the find their touch-point with God.’   And Jesus arose.  And He lives, and His Body now is His temple for people to live in for the wealth of God and eternity to be found.  “The Kingdom of God is among you,” Jesus said.   “It is within you,” Jesus said.   “I am a king, but as it is, my kingdom is not here like an earthly one, but it is with My Father…”  “I and the Father are one.”…  I am the Resurrection and Eternal life… believe upon Me… and live!”

In this Year of Grace, let us celebrate the grace or favor of God letting us to know Him.

So where does that leave us on Trinity Sunday?  With accepting that Jesus alone can satisfy our desire to know – and He bestows on us the Spirit of truth to make it possible for an eternal relation with the Trinity.  

That it is going to take a lot of steps to grow and reach the place where God is ready to receive us.  We can take heart, the Holy Spirit is given for us to attain it.   We just need cooperate.   With a desire to know God more.

Yes, today we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.   There is Mystery in God, but He wants to unveil mystery to us to become knowledge and love.  What I will exhort you on this Sunday is that the Trinity – an eternal relationship with the Triune God – is the one thing that will make you or me happy. We have a lot of misconceptions about what will make us happy;  knowing God will make us happy.  Knowing God is Life.  So said Jesus– John 17:3.  Hold on to that verse!

I know one more thing that can make you happy today:  for me to stop my homily right here, at the 5 1/2 minute mark.  Amen!

Did it!

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Religious Cartoon

From the comics today.    Speed Bump.

A bunch of people are sitting on clouds and with white robes on.  They all appear to have been waiting awhile there, as they look at a “loading” message up in the sky above them, resembling a computer symbol.    IMAG1330_1_1

A character says: “It’s not exactly how I pictured Purgatory, either.”

Funny.n

Pentecost Homily

Before the homily’s preaching start, I just wanted to mark a few things.   The full initiation occurs at our 930 Mass this weekend for the joining of the Catholic Faith of one “Billy” Vali for Pentecost Sunday.   It is nice to have a conversion moment on Pentecost Sunday, as one remembers the first Pentecost having a lot of conversions take place (and baptisms) due to St. Peter’s preaching ministry that first official day of Christianity.

Baptism is the entrance into the Catholic Faith of believers, and St. Edward the Confessor just had her 1000th baptism last weekend, as Deacon Barnes baptized Dylan Albright, child of Nathaniel and Erin.    So they tell me, # 1,000.  (Billy is #1001!)

Today I wear my original Holy Spirit chasuble and also hand-made stole vestment from Pentecost 1988 and my first Mass that Sunday over in St. Pius X, when this feast day landed on May 22nd that year.  They were gifts from both my godparents.

We had our Live Christ Seminars all day Saturday, and thank you to our presenters and parish participants, looking for ways of renewal to the parish and to ourselves.  It was so appropriate for the program to come on this particular weekend!

Pentecost is the Church’s beginning, so, Happy Birthday to all of you, who are in the Church.   It’s 2017 years of God with us in Jesus, since the Annunciation, and it has been 1984 years since Pentecost, making 2033 becoming the official 2000th year since Jesus founded the Church in the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the whole body of faith.

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Homily.     What does Pentecost bring to us?  It brings Peace.  Power.  Participation.   (And) Presence.  A Holy Presence.

4 P’S.

Pentecost brings peace.  The gospel tells us today Jesus is Resurrected in the power of the spirit and now he speaks to His followers with “peace be with you.”   In those four words much is said by it, but one thing is for certain:  Humankind now is given a soulful reconciliation and serenity with God.  He tells His apostles to pass this peace around of His ministry of reconciliation.  In Jesus’ Resurrection and Exaltation, matters have now been opened up between God and humankind in a friendship between God and man.  Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.   The broken and separated relationship is mended with God, and He on His part has done the work via His Son for people to be friends again with Him.

This Peace is a renewal not just of the soul but also of the heart and mind and body. God can now dwell in us, and He can bless us in our thoughts, our will, and begin offering us ways for our bodies to become holy.   This Peace would open up a possible and personal and communal knowing of God (As Jn. 17:3 says:  “And this is the eternal life offered of our knowing of God now.”)  Things now can be perceived by the believer into a sense of the Sacred and the eternal, even in faith journey on earth.  There is much peace to realize in that new connection.  I went to a store not long ago called Bed Bath and Beyond, and I was wearing my collar while shopping, and a person walked up to me and said “do you work here?”   It made me laugh, that, what would a priest be doing being employed by that store (?) but I quickly turned some humor and evangelism into the situation, saying:  “Well, they don’t pay me, as I don’t know much about beds and bath supplies, but, as a matter of fact, I do know much about the Beyond,  Bed–no.  Bath–no.  Beyond–yes!  I know the Lord Who leads us to know Him and eternal life!!  How may I help you?!

The formula into experiencing the Beyond is heard in the Gospel today:  “receive the Holy Spirit” and Let God breathe on you the Gift of His Spirit.

Pentecost brings power.  This is my second point of 4 P’s of Pentecost.  Pentecost brings power and in Acts 1:8 Jesus tells them, that upon their expectant and open waiting on the Spirit, then they shall “receive power when the Spirit comes upon you.” The word power in original texts is “dunamis.”  This means a dynamic working within a believer and for the body of believers.   It really is meant to mean dynamite.   The Spirit can be dynamite power.   I like to use the word empowerment in this context.  God has empowerment to give, as He shares His Spirit and His ministry and Life with us– in Pentecost.  We have empowerment as a Church to be the instruments of the Lord and helpers and givers for His good purposes.   In our epistle text to the Philippians today, Paul uses the three words of people with gifts and services and holy workings as demonstrations of that power/empowerment shared in the community of faith.

In parishes we have people making gifts, like in tithing for the Church’s going, or in people giving their gift of organizing people or ministries.  We have committees of volunteers in the parish who are very giving to you in the time they spend with me or one another for parish life.  In this weekend, we just have the Live Christ Seminars for all day Saturday, which was presented by a group of people as a gift to us to show how to renew the parish, even as we ourselves get more renewed in Jesus.   In the category of services we have people in the parish who serve meals or buy food for the pantry ministry, and others serving as coaches to lead teams and bless young people, and a person this week told me about their now being a life coach in their Catholic faith as a volunteer service, much like doing spiritual direction.  In the category of Ministry in the parish, you can see we have altar servers, sacristans, council members, singers,and so much lay ministry.    All of that can be under Pentecost as power, or empowered people doing the work of the Lord.  Plus all you do in home or work or school or recreation as ministering to others.

(to be written out later….)