13th Sunday Homily (Thanks and Farewell) from Fr. Barry

Today is my tenth anniversary of being here at St. Edward–Bowie.   I wanted to just say thanks to all of you today, for the main message of this homily.  I have given 500 or so Sunday Homilies for you since July 1, 2007, when I first arrived.  This one will mix in my thanks, using a set of readings that lends well to a homily of appreciation.  These 13th Sunday “A” Scriptures speak about support that ought to be given to the worker of the Lord, and it also speaks of the blessings that go to and fro in co-relation of service workers to the community.  That is, we are blessed in God’s Spirit in our shared work for The Kingdom.

I became your fifth pastor a decade ago, and it was a real joy for me.   It was a homecoming to Bowie for me, and I do love this city.  (I’m a SPX School/ Tasker M.S./ Bowie High alum of old.)   It was nice to be here in a parish where Mom has been going since 1986, and to where Dad had likewise come over here with her from St. Pius X parish, since he was a new deacon in 1986, and that he was assigned here under Fr. Kemp.   He then served under two more pastors of Kehoe and Foley, until his passing in 2004.   I met a number of you back then at that wake and funeral of Dad, but knew some of you way before, and I knew some people from the K of C too, and some from my growing up days, and more.  Many of you, though, started afresh with me, or joined on along the way, and it has been nice to be in this faith community with you.

I had served in some parishes in crisis beforehand as a pastor or as a fill-in stop gap pastor, so it was so nice to come to a normal and happy parish and be your pastor and for so long a time.   I was hoping to build upon that good thing you had going here at St. Edward, and I think God has used me for good in this community of faith.  We remain as a good normal and happy parish, and I hope you have liked some of the things the Holy Spirit inspired me to do as your pastor for the decade.   I did enjoy shepherding here, and being on the journey of faith with you as we have pressed on the goal of meeting Christ in Glory.

Today’s reading from the Old Testament mentions that the prophet Elisha had a great supporter and a friend in a woman of Shumen (who is unnamed, so we’ll call her Misha), and she, like some others, knew that the man of God needed support around him, such as financial helps, and prayer, and love, and common spirit.  She was well off and talented, but also very much in need of more growth in the Lord.   She was so happy to meet Elisha the prophet.   She gave support to him, and he was so blessed for it, and likely very grateful.   Well, I can identify with that.   You have been support to me, St. Edward family, as a pastor doesn’t go it alone, and is as good as the people and participation around him.  I have had your love and parish dedication of time, talent and treasure from a good enough number of people to do some fine things here with that offering.  Together you have been a “Misha” to me.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.   I hope I have been your favored man of God, too, like the Bible story, though the story is about one of the greats, so I make no comparison to Elisha, that’s for sure.

It says that Elisha to give back to the woman of Shumen, as by a suggestion of her servant Gehani, who said that her sorrow was not being able to bear a child.   Elisha is given a prophesy in the Spirit, and he uttered aloud a prophetic word upon the woman, (Misha), and the prophet’s prayer led to a miracle and motherhood for her.   Nice.  We surmise that Misha was married, so two people got the miracle in that story.  Well, here at St. Edward, we have had some miracles and blessings here, too— going both ways– and I won’t single one out, but some definite works of God have been manifest here.  I hope I have been means of blessing to you.

As I thought of miracles where God has used me, I am guided to the thousands of Masses I’ve prayed here at altar before you, and with you.   Those are the miracles, all by Christ the Priest’ means through the holy orders he bestowed on me, that I might be so led to connect as our shared miracle.   I think especially of the many Sunday ones and special Holy Days’ ones here.  There’s been the miracle shared in our story of priest and people in liturgy.  We have had the Eucharistic miracle on a daily occasion here, sometimes several a day.   That’s the miracle of what I will remember most strongly between us:  how we gathered here in Jesus, The Bread of Life.

I will recall Sunday Eucharist and Daily Eucharist, and also those times by the altar for weddings, funerals, RCIA conversions, and Confirmations and 1st Holy Communions.   I will also hold dearly all the Masses over at the regional St. Pius school too, where I once watched the priests do it for me as a youth, and now returned to do it for the new generation. Nice.

Back to the Scriptures….

In this Gospel of Matthew 10, the chapter we are in is called the Mission chapter.  Jesus sends people out on mission to spread the Good News, namely the apostles here (and later the 72 disciples will also be commissioned, as Luke would tell us).   The apostles go out to the villages and towns to meet people and to share with them the Rabbi Jesus’ message and His works of healing.   In this mission effort, there are many people who receive the apostes in, and Jesus says that as they received them in (as His sent disciples)– that they were receiving Him in, as well.   He said that the prophet or evangelist or workman of God was worth his wage of support, in the giving of lodging, food and welcome.   Indeed, the apostles and some disciples came back, saying to their Master that there were people who welcome them in, receiving the teachings of Jesus, and some receiving the healings of Christ via them.   Jesus was glad for this report of some support afforded His sent ones.  He says that Heaven notices even for a cup of cold water given to someone representing Him.

Later in Jesus ministry, He would be the traveling rabbi with disciples going through Bethany, when cups of water were likely offered to Him, in the neighborhood of Martha and Mary and Lazarus.   Then they even extended much more to Jesus and company, and they become close friends.    I think of that story, too, in relation to Matthew 10, in the friends made and love found along the way in ministry, such as here since 2007. Thanks.

Again, like the first reading, Matthew 10 describes how it was an expected giving or generosity to assist God’s workman, and again, you have done that for me with some food, lodging, and a little pay for keeping my ministry here as priest.   I can thank you again for that.

You know, in the seminary, I wrote a 42-page exposition of this missions chapter 10 of Matthew, giving Scriptural exegesis on it, and forming some of my own opinion on it.   I did notice its appeal to the person in a priest vocation who leaves family life, like myself, and makes the church community his family.  Indeed, that is who you are to me:  family.   Even while I do have family here in the area, and I love them:  I am committed to serving you and the others in the Church of Washington of whom the Archbishop sends me out to help.  That was my life’s dedication at ordination–to serve the Church of Washington.

Living the message has been somewhat challenging, as in my being moved around a few places:  4 as pastor and 3 as associate pastor/ parochial vicar. And 1 in a floating half-year when I served several places from a parish in-residence, while doing a tenth year sabbatical.  Living Matthew 10 has been harder than writing about Matthew 10.   Especially in this week.   After a great ten years with you as pastor, suddenly on Friday I have been named to pastor/administer another parish.   I am being transferred.  In fact, I am as of Saturday the shepherd of a parish in Eastern Montgomery County called Resurrection Parish Burtonsville.    I have about 2 weeks to move my things from here, and to celebrate Mass just up to mid-July and then leave you.   It’s sad for me to have to go, after so many good times together, and in renewal in the Lord and His Spirit, and with new personnel coming on in the parish.  You now have a new music director, Megan Weeks, as of July 1, and you have a regular and new parish secretary, Cres Soisson, who will be officially the lone secretary on Wednesday, as our Jackie Macri retired on Friday.   I just hired them, but they will be serving under a new pastor.

So I am to go.  To Resurrection Parish in Burtonsville.   It is in Eastern Montgomery county, right off Rt. 29 in the corridor between Silver Spring and Columbia, Maryland.

To explain briefly, of the sudden change, many weeks ago the Archbishop told me that he wanted for my next parish to be Resurrection Parish, Burtonsville, as whenever it opened up to need a new pastor.   He thought it might need a new pastor soon.  I did not know when that would be, but quickly on Friday I was asked to change, and by Saturday, July 1st,  I was named.   It was an unusual way to do it, as all the other transfers were done openly back in May, but this post had a private reasonable explanation for how it was handled, thus, which I need not try to more detail for you.   The effect of it is that it takes me out of here rather abruptly.  Sorry for that.  The parishes of Resurrection and of Sacred Heart Bowie and ours have the announcement to make.   Fr. Scott Holmer to here, as your new pastor/administrator. Me to Resurrection parish in Burtonsville.

Today was planned to just be a tenth anniversary of thanks to you, of my happiness of being with you so long, but now it has just two weeks left to it, and I make this my official farewell, even while I will be here all this weekend and next, and cover many daily Masses until July 12th.   I knew the announcement might be coming soon, so I was afraid that this abrupt farewell might happen, but at least I had a small party planned for outside after all Masses today.   So we shall gather after Mass.

So who is the new priest coming in?   It is Fr. Scott Holmer.  He lives right here in Bowie, as the parochial vicar at Sacred Heart–Bowie, on Rt. 450.   He just will need to take a right on Rt. 3 and go 5 traffic lights south, and make a right onto Mitchellville Road, and up to #1940.   It’s a short move for him.  Not a far way to go.   You will like Fr. Holmer, as I do, and he is a marvelous choice to be your next pastor.   I have been working quietly with him in recent days and weeks, so to prepare him for this place.  I have been doing some residence renewal for him, too, as a hearty welcome in.   He will start likely on July 13th.

Three special words, people:   I love you.

Four others:  I will miss you.

Yet this truth remains:  We are one in the Body of Christ, and nothing will separate that union in the Spirit.   We are one.

Happy Independence Day Weekend, folks.    In this Year of Grace, a parting message:  It has been a grace and gift to be with you.

Finally, as we sing in the CWA prayer group here:  I love you with the love of the Lord, yes I love you with the love of the Lord, I can see in you, the glory of the King, and I love you with the love of the Lord.   imag0801_1

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

Live Christ Seminars on Saturday, Pentecost on Sunday

IMAG0047countrysidegirl-lookingthF4AYAH4ZcadleWe pray for the renewal of our parish on this Saturday of the Pentecost Novena…

in the Live Christ Seminars.

Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 6-3-17

Lord, come renew us!  Come and renew the face of the earth, Sweet Spirit and Life to us all!

Lord, I look to Your Presence.  I want to become more holy in You.

As for we, the Church– it’s Happy Birthday time.   A.D. 33 right up to Pentecost 2017 A.D.    IMAG0375_1

 

 

CWA and Cameroon Catholic support ministry

Several years ago, a group of Cameroon women in the parish or county region came together to begin an ecclesial group.   We started a chapter of the CWA (Catholic Women’s Association) here at St. Edwards.   It involved our joining into an existing ministry branching out from Cameroon and Nigeria, which is making efforts to form parish groups on USA’s east coast, to where more Cameroons have moved.   The first one in the region came in 2006-07 in Burtonsville.  Ours followed afterward.

 

The Burtonsville Maryland start at Resurrection Parish was honored last Sunday, with a bishops visit there.   It was Bishop George Nkuo from Kumbo diocese.IMAG1323

My own closer involvement with Cameroons in St. Edwards began with a wedding of a couple in the parish, one that brought many Cameroons into our church.  That bride and many other Catholic women soon were gathering, upon my invitation, twice-a-month, after the 1130 St. Edward Sunday Mass for rosary, doctrine and Bible study, lunch, charity planning, and socializing. I have joined and led them for several years now.

This past Sunday was a Mass and social time for hundreds of CWA CMA chapters and of other Cameroon men and women Catholic organizations in the DC/Baltimore area gathered in Burtonsville.  The bishop from Cameroon was the celebrant of an almost 3- hour Mass, filled with all sorts of ethnic traditions, songs, testimonies, and prayer in the Eucharistic Lord.   It was long for me, of course, but it was a rich experience.   It was another act of support I could give for a group of vigorous Catholic African immigrants, whom I value as an asset to the local Church.   I was one of only two white persons of color in the celebration, but that was fine with me, as I act in solidarity with these new members to the Catholic USA community. IMAG0461  I am getting used to being with them now.  Above is a picture from an African style wedding celebration from a few months back.  The program from Sunday also shows above.  In it you see one of about 20 songs we sang in worship. IMAG1324_1n

I did not take photos within last Sunday’s celebration.

Pentecost Novena starts Thursday

Sunday’s parish bulletin has a special inset on May 21 st.  It is a sheet with the Novena to the Holy Spirit prayers.

This prayer originated with Jesus at His Ascension, asking His followers to wait to be clothed from on high by the Holy Spirit. After nine days of expectant prayer, the Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost, birthing the Church.

We need to take seriously this novena for asking the Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us. The 40th day of Easter is when Jesus ascended; and today is day 36.  Pentecost is on the 50th day, which is on June 4th this year.   Make this 2017 Pentecost a special one by your own Novena to the Holy Spirit, starting it this Thursday.

The Church’s Mass of Ascension is now held on the weekend after the 40 th day.   It will fall on May 28th.  Yet the Novena starts on Thursday.

Nats Win- Remain secure in 1st

On a Mother’s Day night game, Michael Taylor of the Nationals hits an 8th-inning 2 run homer into the LF fair pole, helping the NATS come from behind, win, and send Nats mothers and fans to bed happy.  IMAG1259_1

I watched it on TV.  I just love the baseball season, with so many games to watch.  The Nats are mostly winning, making it real enjoyable.   In the post game comments by the manager, Dusty Baker, (pic below), imagine his comment, like: ‘… that was a Taylor-made ending”   or  “He was trying to hit that ball to his mother, who lives on Capitol Hill.  We settled on it just being a homer.  But we’ll make sure his Mom gets the ball.’   or “Did you fans know that Wow turned upside down spells Mom?!  Wow, what a night!’

IMAG1258_1.Nats 6, Phils 5= final score.

Ripping Weather

Tornados are usually associated with mid- America, and not the DC area.   We look at the sudden devastation and carnage with alarm, but from a distance.  It must be a terrible thing to lose one’s residence upon a ripping storm of wind.

I was in a Rockville Md. restaurant a couple of weeks back when the DC area went into sudden alarm.   Nearly every cell phone near me went buzzing in the early- warning mode.  It turned out that the wind storm hit elsewhere, such as upon Gonzaga High School (near DC’s Union Station), tearing off a chapel roof. Other places in Maryland/D.C. received damage.

The National Weather Service says that their detection services only give minutes in warning time, and they are reluctant to give false warnings out in a half- hour/ hour’s lead, except in super cell cases. The regular funnels in the sky form quite unpredictably.

People feel quite helpless with this info.  At least in mid- America, as in Oklahoma, they have shelters built for the expected tornados of the year.   Yet who can be ready for life’s storms?

Spiritually, we know that we will have our physical sufferings and calamities to last through, but the Great Storm to fear is for any person to go against the Lord in the end.  Jeremiah 23:19 says “Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord’s indignation shall come forth, and a tempest shall break out and come upon the head of the wicked.”

The Lord will reveal a fury on those who have dared flaunt His laws, as in committing the deadly sins.  Jeremiah’s Word of the Lord addressed those Israelites who had fallen from grace in following false prophets of idolatry.  They were sooooooo guilty before God in their bad sin.  Yet, in 2017 we Christians are also caught up in some serious business before God, in our falling into temptation in joining the modern world of idolatry and falseness, with all its associated pain.

For example, the culture is drug abusive, child eliminating, and greed run.   That right there would have a Jeremiah word to earth today.  The drug culture is everywhere,  bringing bad crime with it, such as here in Maryland.  We are guilty as Marylanders of it dominating society.   I think of Baltimore’s homicide reports being up so high already in 2017.   Protecting innocent life is also lost to us in society, with the rampant abortions still going on in America of millions of children gone (including Maryland or DC babies).  But what of how bad greed is– “the lust of money is the root of all evil” says the Word to us today, as we pursue it as a god, and watch some of our more powerful or talented people be sorely tempted into terrific sin of hidden corporate greed, as it does serious harm upon any people in their path.  Love of others is little considered here.

Whether it is personal sin or what is done in our society, there very obvious things in which such a prophetic message like Jeremiah 23:19 could be levied upon us, with Heaven saying:  “Stop!” “Repent of these ways!”  “Follow Me, not these false gods.  Turn to Me and be saved!– (while you can).”

There is a storm coming upon evildoers that needs immediate attention and address on this earth.  God is a judge of truth.   He will come in truth one day and nothing of darkness will be able to last before Him.  The Lord reigns and He sends His word down to us now:  ‘Be humbled, O people, I, your God, AM a force not to be reckoned with.  If you think a reckless wind storm in your fallen world is bad, then you are little prepared for what is so much greater and devastating. Amen.’

That was a spiritual message that God was looking to get across to me, and pass on.

In finish, in this blog entry, I look at a funnel picture from the newspaper, and I see a another similar message in it:  ‘Warn My people of my wrath.  Have them come to find shelter in My Mercy.  Lead them to repent, while they still can, to find their refuge in Me.’

Or, in the words of the old rock band BTO, whose song I just heard on the XM 70’s channel, the world’s storm winds are bad, but The Lord’s are…. well… You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

IMAG1222_1

 

Easter Sunday III and April 19 Emmaus homily message at St. Edward

admin-ajaxzzHappy Easter time!

The Four Gospels preach that the Lord Jesus Crucified is He Who is Alive from the dead.  Jesus is Risen!  In the Wednesday Octave Mass of Easter, as in the 3rd Sunday of Easter, the Gospel of the day gives us the Emmaus journey account of a man (Cleophas) and friend walking downcast from out of Jerusalem.  The evangelist’s account of this walk describes how a fellow traveler on the road joins along with them and raises some conversation with them,  Cleophas says of how he had thought before that the prophet Jesus was their hope, but that He and the dream died in Jerusalem on Friday.  He asks the Jewish stranger:  ‘How is it that you are not downcast, too?  Are you ignorant of who Jesus was, and how His death crushed people’s hopes?’ 

As Cleophas and companion travel on, the stranger who has joined them shares a different take on the ministry of Christ and its hope born through the suffering.  This brilliant man of faith tells them how Jesus was, is, rather, an amazing fulfillment of all the Messianic hopes, meeting all prophecies for a Hebrew to come and be a savior to people Israel and to the world.   Cleophas and the other man had probably looked incredulous at the stranger at first, but now after an hour or two’s walk, they are moved by the man’s words, and they invite Him, rather, plead with Him, to stay with them, and really enlighten them, over a meal and a complimentary stay there in Emmaus.

Then they the tell the stranger with them that Jesus had been the One upon whom they had trusted all their hopes to– and He suggests to them that they break bread together and pray.   They do so, and all of a sudden, the two men now recognize the stranger who has travelled with them.   It is the newly Risen Jesus.   “They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.”  This is the summation of the whole story.   Then, poof, Jesus goes.  They react by going to gather with Jesus’ core faith community, the apostles and Mary, and to share the Good News.   They run back to Jerusalem and the Upper Room.  When the arrive, they hear joyfully that the Lord Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter too.   A community of Jesus Alive is forming now.

These two actions–the journeying with a listening ear and heart—AND the welcome spirit and breaking bread action–are what we do at every Mass.   We do the Emmaus story every Sunday!   (And even in daily Masses, really.)  We do the Emmaus story in holding a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist.   Part A is the journey to Emmaus–the Liturgy of the Word.   Part B is the gathering at table with the Lord, recognizing Him as our Eucharist in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Have you considered this comparison with this Gospel before?  It’s all clearly there.  What we do as Catholics in Holy Mass has its model right here in a story from the first Easter day, on the road to Emmaus and in Emmaus.

We listen to the Word of God, taking a Sunday walk with it, and then we break bread with God on High in Christ. The difference is that with us, compared to the gospel persons in today’s account, we know Jesus is alive–or at least we have been told that Jesus rose from the dead.   They didn’t.

Yet sometimes, even knowing about the Resurrection, we still might not respond to this joyous Mystery of God, even upon hearing God’s Word, but like the first Emmaus walk and the two disciples, God will plant His Living Word in us, letting our hearts burn with it, touch us, and have us desire it all the more.

Did you know that the town name of Emmaus actually is translated to mean:  Yearning desired place.   What is your yearning and desired place?  Is it the Glory of God?  Then you have the burning in you.   It calls forth for a response and welcome and it leads to a greater recognition (or even first AHA recognition of Jesus Alive). Will we let the Word lead you to the Wedding Supper union?   It is designed to bring you to sup with God, at His table.

We the Church in Holy Mass call Jesus our Redeemer and we pray that the Spirit help us to be moved by Jesus, in Word and Sacrament.   The Spirit is given to us to magnify Jesus in our being.   Will it create light in the burning desire in our hearts for His Word?   Will we then flashed recognition of Our Lord in the breaking of the Bread?

These are deep questions for a people on the move, journeying with the Man from Galilee and heading to the place called Yearning Desire.

Can we be like Cleophas and the other person, all so touched by the Encounter with Jesus, so to become glad and to go seek others in the fold to share it with?  That is what our Parish Renewal program hopes to see happen, once people catch this fire.

Cleophas and that other person teach us to be glad like them– Jesus IS Alive and HE is the One to trust!

The children in Religious Ed were with me on Tuesday and Wednesday here in church and I told them that the lamb figure on the middle window in the east section was not just any ordinary lamb walking by.  The flag he was carrying was an Easter flag of victory, because, as I explained to them: He is Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, and happy are all called to His supper.

They caught on with recognition that Jesus is the Blessed Son of the Trinity, He is the babe of Christmas, He is the person that all the Good News describes being the best person ever to live on earth, and He is the Lamb of God, seen in the Heavens, too.   He is all of that.   They caught on to seeing that window anew.   And we adults need to catch on to seeing Jesus anew all the time.    He is (as our epistle describes) that “unblemished Lamb of Sacrifice” Who is Savior and Mercy to us, to Whom we are all indebted to.   Praise His Holy Name.0717132025

Movies Review

My favorite film, among the Oscar 2017 nominees, was Hacksaw Ridge.   It was an inspiring story of a self-giving Christian, doing heroic things while amid the horrific theatre of war.  Andrew Garfield acted quite well in it (deserving of an Oscar for best actor) as the unarmed medic, the focus of the story, who is willing to go all out to save his wounded comrades off the field of war.   Mel Gibson was the right choice of director of this film, and the intensity of the film’s war scenes is equal to the great Saving Private Ryan movie (but just as disturbing to watch, for sensitive or young viewers to be forewarned).  The Christian faith and motivation of the main character of this film is very clear and uplifting.  The violence in it (of war) is intense, which highlights the great bravery of the story’s hero.

I contrast an uplifting film with a downcast one:  Silence.  It casts the same Andrew Garfield in a lead role, but Silence was not so good a film (intense, yes– realistic of missionary ordeals, yes– a likeable flick, no).  Garfield didn’t seem right in the film, all showing you can win an Oscar in one show and be only so-so in another film.  Liam Neeson also had one of his poorest performances on film, also miscast in the film–the casting director under film-maker Scorsese is at fault here.  The first two thirds of the film is shot in a misty, cloud, unsure lens– as if giving the feeling that maybe the Jesuit missionaries should never have come.  Then the last third of the film has the missionary priests all cloudy of mind and heart, while bedazzled and outsmarted by their Japanese warlord opponent– enough for them to give up.  I was quite disgusted in this film story’s ending and final message, with its ‘excuse’ for apostasy.  It was Endo’s same ending (book author), so I am told, leaving a believer with just two ways to take the story/film– understanding the missionary’s choice in sympathy for their choice or disagreeing with it altogether. This filmmaker favors the first– giving only a scant reference in the end of the saga of a sign of continued private faith of the clerics.  (I favor the second way of reaction–disagreement.)  The common ground for the two divergent opinions on the story’s end is the shared disgust you have for the cruelty of the anti-Church forces trying so hard to stop the missionary enterprise in Japan. The psychological warfare employed reminds people of a repeat of it in the Japanese war versus the USA a few hundred years later.  I just found the film was mostly a waste of my time, with me even wishing I hadn’t seen it.  (I went because Scorsese had showed it to the pope.  I should have remembered that the same director made the hideous Last Temptation of Christ.)

Arrival was another nominated film for best of the year, and the sci-fi film indeed was quite interesting to watch, and a PG-13 film at that, making it the best family film of the year.  I reviewed months ago, but summarize it here how It is about some mysterious space-crafts that have come around the earth, which are trying unsuccessfully to communicate to earth’s inhabitants.   The story is about two scientists and a military officer who take all lengths to find the way to communicate to the aliens, and they to us.   The film’s message really might be about how we earthlings need to try harder in reaching and understanding one another, without fighting — all set in a sci- do spin.  Arrival is like a 2016 version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.   In speaking to how casting can really make a movie, the three main actors were just right for their parts in this film, as played by Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.  None had Oscar performances, but they worked well into the story. I liked this film.  It wasn’t a best picture, though. Even Star Wars R-1 had more spectacle.

After a 2016 Oscars had far too much made of the fact that Black films and actors were not awarded enough in the Oscars (but there just weren’t any of note last year), one only had to wait until 2016 to see a wave of films that African/Black Americans and other minorities would be featured in.  Lion, Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Fences all were big films of the past year (by minority filmmakers and cast).   Of the bunch of them, Hidden Figures was the best of them and a most uplifting story.   If a ‘Black film’ were to win in 2017, and it seemed a politically-correct fix was in 2016 (sorry, my conspiracy theory working here), then it should have been give to Hidden Figures, for how talented it was acted by its three female actresses in the roles of unknown successful Black American scientists/ mathematicians in the 1960’s NASA program–who had remained mostly a secret until this film.  In the Oscar awards show, one of the real NASA ladies (depicted in the movie) came out on stage and received a standing ovation.  Kevin Costner also starred in Hidden Figures–he was just right in the part.  When I watched the film in a theatre, the audience cheered out loud during its showing.   I also watched Moonlight, the film that was given the Oscar for best of the year ( fix! fix!) , and no one was cheering in it, I can definitely say. More on that in a bit.

Lion was a film made of mostly persons of India in a heartwarming tale of a lost boy who is separated from his mother for 25 years, but seeks out how to track and find her.  The adopted boy becomes a man and part two of the film is his effort (as an Australian) of looking online to find where he came from and from whom.   It is a tearjerker film, and most of the film is of the tension of this lost person, Soo (Lion), first as a boy and then as a man, played so well by a cute child actor Sunny Pawar and by adult Dev Patel.

Moonlight was a film about Terrence, a black, abused, father-less boy living under an addict mom, in a coming-of-age story.  He struggles with sexual identity, and for any protection, which comes to him in the form of a drug pusher who shows care for him (even while keeping the boy’s mom in addiction).  Mahershala Ali plays the neighborhood father figure for Terrence, and Ali won the supporting actor award for his performance (justifiably, I’ll say).  The acting part of Terrence is shared, as he ages in the story.  Shariff Earp plays him as an adult; Ashton Sanders plays him as a teen.  Sanders did an amazing job with the part.  We see the young man Terrence try to make it into adulthood, and finding just one person who seems to love him.  He ends up having a sexual encounter with him.  Later in life, the main character has succeeded in a job (though in a very shady, prosperous one) and he’s a muscular guy in a solitary, single life for himself, and the movie audience is sympathetic of him, but Terrence comes home looking for the man who formerly had given him sexual love.  It is because Terrence is still incomplete.   It was difficult to watch this film all the way through, given the politics of films about gays and what the filmmaker likely intended with it.   I did not want to be so manipulated by it.  In any regard, I didn’t think it was even worthy of nomination for film of the year.  But Hollywood gave it their full- thumbs up. Politically-correct slaves, that they seem to be.  The same votes went to the OJ documentary that won an Oscar, too.  

They should have recognized Hidden Figures or Fences if they were voting for a great 2016 film with black Americans in it and behind it.

Fences is a good story on stage, based on the remarkable playright August Wilson’s story of a black family in Pittsburgh in the 1950’s.  I have seen the stage show.  It’s powerful.   The film version is acted well and stays mostly with Wilson’s story, too, as Viola Davis and Denzel Washington do a very good job with it.  Denzel did over-do it, a bit, with the overbearing father role, actually. (Since Denz also was the director, who was going to tell him to lighten it up a bit?) The supporting actor playing the character of the high school son, Cory, is in real life a Bowie State grad ( from our city); he is Jovan Adepo.   Fences was surely in the top ten of 2017 films.

Other films of 2017 that were among the biggest (which I saw) were Star Wars: Rogue One, Allied, Manchester by the Sea, Jackie, La La Land, Hell or High Water, Sully and Inferno.  Not on any list I saw for best of 2016 was last Winter’s Pawn Sacrifice, but it’s worth a mention here (and I reviewed it a year ago in these blogs).

Star Wars-Rogue 1 lived up to its series expectation, though this story was some in-between one that took a bit to figure out. (The series jumps around too much! Is this a prequel to the sequel?! And what would that be?) It still was a lot of fun to watch.   I look forward to its follow-up in 2017.     Allied was a war film, returning us back to World War II and it tried to give us a modern-day Casablanca film.  It failed at that, but it was still a good enough flick– as you wonder if the girlfriend of the spy is just a girlfriend, or a spy of the spy. Hmm. Brad Pitt has the part of trying to figure that out.   Manchester By the Sea was a sad tale of an ordinary, sad, unachieving kind-of-guy who is put in situations where he is challenged to be more.   It is a part played by Casey Afflect (who won the Oscar for it) where he imitates a guy half-awake, and out of it for the whole film, almost devoid of emotions, as sad Lee Chandler, a Manchester janitor who has little to live for, which the film reveals why in its middle.  His best pal is his brother, who dies, and our janitor guy Lee is pressed to care for the survivor nephew, while having very little in the tank for caring for himself even.   It is quite a depressing tale, but it’s very realistically played out, and it garners the viewer’s sympathy along the way.   Jackie was a film with Natalie Portman playing a convincing Jackie Kennedy, but the story really had little to say.  I was not moved by it, except I was glad to see a priest part in it who was counseling Mrs. Kennedy rather caringly.    La La Land was a modern and upbeat musical about two aspiring actors in Hollywood who link up and support and love each other.  It was played by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (the most likeable Oscar winner), and I thought it was a warm and cute film, quite different and welcome for not being like the other choices out there on screens these days.  Can musicals have a comeback in the near future?  Most people loved this one, so I think so, except for the people comparing LA LA to musicals of the great film age of musicals (of which it didn’t hold a candle, as like to putting LA LA up versus Singing in the Rain).  City of Stars was a nice song from it.    Hell or High Water was a bankrobber’s tale in Texas, set back a few decades.  Jeff Bridges made the film an event, as he is so good in his movie parts–with him being a Ranger detective in this one.  The other two stars, Chris Pine and Ben Foster were funny and decent enough in their robber parts, but sorry,  I was not rooting for their characters to get away with their heists, but wanted the Ranger to catch them.(Chris Pine plays Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movies, so I suppose he could have had Scotty beam him up for an easy get away, but Pine had no starship communicator on him.)   Sully and Inferno were flicks both starring Tom Hanks, the first as the famous pilot who landed a jet on the Hudson River, saving all its passengers.  The second flick, Inferno, is Hanks playing the same investigator as other Dan Brown book/ movies before done, with him back investigating curious things going on in Rome and Florence, all in matter-of-fact details of saving the world, that’s all.   In both films (spoiler alert!), Hanks’ character is the savior.   Nice going, Tom.  (He’s just about always the hero- savior on film.)

Since I like movies, I see a bunch of them each year.

Parish Mission is Coming

HEADLINES:  LENT AND A PARISH MISSION ARE SOON ARRIVING.

LENT BEGINS ON THIS WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1ST.   THIS DRAWING BELOW BY A MEMBER OF MY KINDERGARTEN CLASS AT ST. PIUS X SCHOOL PROVIDES YOU A VISUAL OF THE SPECIAL DAY OF PENITENCE IN THE CHURCH.          THE PARISH WILL HAVE A SOUP AND STATIONS ON TIMAG0955_1HE FIRST FRIDAY OF LENT, MARCH 3RD.  SOUP IS AT 630 IN THE HALL AND STATIONS ARE AT 730-800 P.M. IN CHURCH. 

THEN THE REAL BIG THING! THE PARISH MISSION BEGINS ON THE SUNDAY NIGHT FOLLOWING (MARCH 5TH AT 7 P.M.).  IMG_3151

IN NEXT WEEKEND’S MASSES, OUR MISSION PRIEST, FR. BLAISE CZAJA, WILL BE HERE TO SPEAK AT ALL MASSES (VIA HOMILIES, AND BEING AVAILABLE AFTERWARDS FOR A HELLO).  HE ALSO WILL BE AT OUR SOUP AND STATIONS, AS HE ARRIVES FRIDAY TO US. 

THE PARISH MISSION TALKS ARE AT 7 P.M. ON SUNDAY, MONDAY, TUESDAY, AND WEDNESDAY NIGHTS—MARCH 5TH THROUGH THE 8TH IN THE CHURCH. 

THERE ALSO WILL BE DAILY MASS AT 8:45 A.M. MON-WED. WITH FR. BLAISE PUTTING A MORNING REFLECTION ADDED ONTO THE MASS. 

14747641130451560106922WHOOOOOO SHOULD GO TO THE PARISH MISSION?  WHY SHOULD ONE GO TO IT?  THE WISE OWL QUOTES FROM THE BOOK OF WISDOM:  “Wisdom is glorious, and never fades away: Yes, indeed, she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as do seek her…  seek her early, and you shall find her sitting at your door, waiting to gift you…For wisdom goes about seeking to bless people… showing favor (grace) to them in their ways and thoughts.”

 

Why a Parish Mission?    Pope Francis keeps encouraging the Church to be alive, like it is “on mission,” remaining in the task to bring the Good News to the world.                 Firstly, we need to be alive to our own baptismal call, and with our common call as fellow believers, appreciative of the Presence of the Lord Jesus to us, as “head of the body, the church (Col. 1:18).”  So, a mission seeks the draw the parish together into Christ Jesus and to be rejuvenated where she needs to live afresh in God.   A mission priest comes to be the vehicle for that motivation to the parish.  Fr. Blaise is good at it, and our parish shows the need for his ministry at this time.

Secondly, we need opportunities like this to not only bless ourselves in this time, but to afford others the opportunity to come back to the Church, or investigate her for the first official time.  A mission can be uplifting both to the new person as well as the long-time practicing Catholic.

Thirdly, the parish mission draws the whole parish together.  Since we have four regular Sunday Masses, it does fragment us a bit, but a mission has us all gathered as one for four evenings.  We meet one another and we get recharged.  Everyone takes time for the truly important things like wonder, mystery and prayer. Faith is stirred.  Our sense of “parish” is re-awakened.  Lives experience healing and the love of God, via our welcome and availability to the work of the Holy Spirit.  We show we “seek first the Kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33);” God responds to our openness.

Fourthly, in a Year of Grace, we afford a special avenue of experience for it.

As our slogan says beneath the parish altar, we beseech you:  “Abide in Grace.”