Easter Week III 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 today’s 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 of how He thought that the prophet Jesus was truly an amazing fulfillment of all the Messianic hopes for a Hebrew to come and be a savior to people Israel and to the world.   Cleophas and the other man look incredulous at the stranger at first, and blurt out:  “Are you the only person who doesn’t know that Jesus was crucified and done with, just last Friday?!”

Then they the tell the stranger with them that Jesus had been the One upon whom they had trusted all their hopes to– but He and those dreams had been crucified.  It doesn’t say what was said or happened next, but over the course of several miles, they are listening intently to their traveling addition.   There are taking in His word.  By the end of the story, they are welcoming the man to stay with them, which leads to them breaking bread with the man in a holy prayer/gathering.

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 them in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.   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 can we respond to our hearing God’s Word but letting our hearts burn with the Word, touch us, and have us desire it all the more?   Will we also then call Jesus our Redeemer and the Spirit the burning desire in our hearts by His Word?   Will we flashed recognition of Our Lord in the breaking of the Bread?

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?

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

 

From the Silly to Serious Signs– Part two

In my last blog, we were looking at Signs of the Times of the Second Coming of Christ.

I have two more “signs” of some historic notice to highlight in today’s column.  Yet first, here is an extended review of our Catholic beliefs on the ‘end things.’  I thought it necessary.

About the Second Coming, Catholics believe Jesus will come again. We teach that Jesus could come again at any time. His return is immanent. The Church’s Creed affirms that when Jesus returns, He will judge both the living and the dead. At that time, the world will come to an end. Catholics reject the belief in any coming “tribulation period” or a “rapture of the church” common among some other Christian denominations.  We believe Jesus will simply return, judge all of humanity, and bring an end to time.”

About the related idea of a Kingdom of God reign, Catholics see the Kingdom of God as something present and visible in the Catholic Church (and to wherever God will want to extend His body of believers into His elect), but we well also speak of it as something greater yet to come in experience in heaven. Catholics reject a literal millennial kingdom period, a belief common in some other Christian denominations. Saint Augustine first articulated kingdom view in his “City of God.” Yet he meant the age of the Church would be this kingdom period.  Catholics expect the Church and the gospel to spread to the entire world before the end comes, encompassing the entire earth in the made-available Kingdom of God.   That, indeed, is what we are trying to do presently.  Each Mass ends with a clergyman’s dismissal, such as “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!”

Christ will come.  We need for people to come to know Him before He appears in Glory.

We Catholics, for our whole history, have professed our belief that Jesus will come again in a glorious Second Coming.  Our Mystery of Faith in the center of the Eucharistic Prayer of Mass (as prayed/sung by the people) proclaims it and pleads God for it: “Lord Jesus, come in glory!”  Our Scriptures proclaimed in our liturgies announces it, such as in Revelation 1:7 (New American Bible) “Behold, He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. All the peoples of the earth will lament Him.  Yes. Amen.”  Or in Micah 1:2-4,11; 4:1,3 “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place…I will again bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam (Canaan).”  “…In the latter days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of The Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow unto it…“And he will judge between many peoples, and will decide concerning strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  Matthew’s Gospel ending (Mt. 24:30; 26:64) are proclaim texts quite familiar to Catholic ears about the End Times- “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in Heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory…(and Jesus said to him), You have said one thing, nevertheless, I say to you another, that, hereafter shall you see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and then coming in the clouds of heaven.”

So, while no one knows the day, nor should try to know it– of this Glorious Return of Jesus– He did leave some clues to the End Times signs.  Here, as promised, are two more such “signs.”  They are taken from the same Matthew 24 text.(vs. 3-8)

A) Growth of false teachers/ antichrists and deceivers of the Gospel message in the End Times.  B) Wars, earthquakes, famines as “birth pangs” of The End being near.

Jesus pointed to these things as He said in the finish of His ministry, while sitting on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and asked, ‘When will all this take place? And will there be any sign ahead of time to signal your return and the end of the world?’ Jesus told them, ‘Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won’t follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come.‘”
This translation doesn’t spell out what the “horrors” mean, but Strong’s Concordance communicates that the end times will be analogous to the birthing process, because  the word “horrors” comes from the word “odin” which is best translated as “the pain of childbirth” or “birth pangs.”  This means that, much like birth pangs, signs of the end times will appear with greater frequency and intensity as Christ’s return draws near.

History shows that wars, famines and earthquakes are increasing in frequency and intensity.  Let’s see the figures.  According to a Wikipedia list of wars, the past 500 years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of wars:  15th Century – 29 wars.  16th C. – 59. 17th C. – 75.  18th C.- 69.  19th C. – 294.  20th Century – 278 wars.  The first decade of the 21st Century already did witness 55 wars, putting humanity on course for 550 wars over the next one hundred year period.
According to Wikipedia, the past 500 years have also witnessed an increase in the frequency of famines: 15th Century – 6 famines.  16th C. – 10.  17th – 24.  18th – 28.  19th – 30.  20th Century – 44 famines. The first decade of this century alone witnessed 12 famines already, putting humanity on course for 120 famines for this century!
As the population of the world has grown, famines have caused more and more death and destruction in their wake.  Yet is it a population problem?  No.  It’s a greed problem and a pride problem.  We have great capacity to feed the world, even of this size now.
According to a Wikipedia list of earthquakes, the past 500 years have witnessed the following number of earthquakes described as a magnitude 7.0 or greater:
15th Century – 2 earthquakes    16th – 3 of them.   17th – 7 of them.  18th – 13 of them.   19th – 29 of them.   20th Century – 123 of them!  The first decade of this 21st Century already witnessed 144 earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or greater, putting humanity on course for 1,440 such earthquakes over the next century.  ‘Yikes!
The dramatic increase in devastating wars, famines, and earthquakes from the time of Jesus until today is one of clearest signs of the end times.  So it is a good thing to bring yourself to be ready for the Coming of The Lord.

As for false messiahs, antichrists and the like– just think of the big opposition to the Catholic Church today.  She seems to be a target for many.  Many would like to take her down.  Yet Jesus knew this from the start, saying to Simon Peter:  “The gates of hell shall not prevail against you.”  That comment from the Savior indicates how He knew they would definitely try to defeat or stop us.  Many today will indirectly be an opponent of The Church, with persons who will claim their own authority to bring a counter-message to that of the Church, as in preaching to “itching ears” as 2nd Timothy 4:3 describes.   Many declare their own versions of Christianity today, ignoring the One Jesus founded to be kept through time until His return.  The numbers of separate churches or communities calling themselves Christian is staggering in 2017.  The teachings of Jesus in John 17 are not much followed today, bringing on all the disunity of those called as “Christian.”  The “love one another” commandment of our Lord seems to be set aside instead for selfish things.  Even Gandhi said that perhaps the world’s biggest sin (amidst a world of people calling themselves ‘decent’) is greed of self.

The Loving Oneness of Christ Jesus was meant, most of all, to be expressed in the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist.  The Pauline mandate for the Eucharistic sacrifice by priests (as himself) to be prayed with the faithful, until Christ’ Return, is not followed at all outside the original Catholic orthodox Church.  “We proclaim the death (sacrificial offering) of Christ until He comes again,” said St. Paul in 1st Corinthians 11:26 in his epistle text on the Mass of the early church in Greece.  The true Church has the Eucharist to offer (re-present) to God.  The Church has the successor to Peter and the apostles, too.  Yet many choose to stand outside of her (or one might say: HIM).   Paul said that we are to strive to be “in Christ.”  He says it 160 times in his epistles.  Yup.

That is the sad state within Christendom–our division.

Then there is the awful state outside of Christendom, of people claiming to be equal or better than ‘regular’ or historic Christianity.  This time of history is full of many cults, some of the occult movements most obviously under Satan, others in new age movements under some spirit, not to the honor of Jesus, but still there are left the millions of others in false groups (cults) that claim some connection to Christ but not to His divinity.  Those cult members and false teachers are in a dire state themselves, outside of the salvation teaching of the Lord Jesus, Who very much IS Divine.  Jesus is God and man.   Scientology followers, Mormons, Christian Scientists, Unitarians, The Way members, Jehovah Witnesses and many more such cults claim to be godly, but there is not the acknowledgement of any to Jesus being as Lord God over them, that is, not in the way as He asked of His own.  thDNHZGYSJJohn’s epistles in the Bible are all about warnings of such false teachings and teachers.  The Early Church also has her hard fought accounts versus many heresies and distortions of the Truth of Christ.   Those original orthodox believers would be aghast at what is taking place today in these above false movements.thLK3WKK6Z

If one were to put up a road sign of all this spiritual confusion, then I think the one of the intersection depicted would be it.

Yet, more worse than the false teachings or astray ways going on is what’s ahead.   Gaining force to affront the Church is the real possibility for a global false leader of huge magnitude to mislead the world and to gain a massive following.  If the smaller antichrists of Hitler and Stalin weren’t bad enough last century, then we might shudder at who and what this century might bring us.  The rise of globalization and maybe a multinational world government and controlling system on the earth could bring the AntiChrist.  One day, a single man will rule all the people and nations on the earth, so seems to warn St. John’s Apocalypse vision: “And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.” Revelation 13:7
Given the current global financial crisis and the potential catastrophe of a global war, more and more diplomatic leaders and world politicians are calling for global government.  And as human technology continues to advance and mature, we’re quickly reaching a point where global totalitarian rule will be possible.  Some great deceiver will come forth to persecute the Church and Christ’ own, while seemingly being the popular figure for worldly people to follow, right to their oblivion.  Yet there will be a people of great faith keeping obedient to Christ and His Truth and Headship of the Body.  “And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world – to every nation, tribe, language, and people. ‘Fear God,’ he shouted. ‘Give glory to him. For the time has come when He will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.’” Revelation 14:6-7 (NLT)      Or worship the Deceiver.

What an awful time of conflict that portends to be.   Let’s pray for the strength to “endure to the end and be saved.(Matthew 24:13).”

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Prophecy is telling us that Christ is coming.
“In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know His return is near, at the door.” Matthew 24:33

The time on the clock of time is ticking.  “Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11.

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Sunday Feb. 12 The Appeal, Lincoln, Grace

IMAG0982_1It is the weekend for the Cardinal’s Appeal.   We will have pledges made at all Masses today for this annual collection.   The Cardinal has sent his cd homily for us to listen to —before the pastor’s explanation of the process of participating in the Appeal.

(Thus, I did not write a Sunday homily.)

I did preach on Saturday, but it was in a funeral Mass for Bill Newman.

Yet I always have a few thoughts running around in my head…

Today in American history it is President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday:  Feb. 12th.

As we discuss the meaning of Grace this year in the Church, it would be right to share an illustration from this great president on his protest of slavery and how his concept of God’s grace was pretty keen about it all– following the Bible’s guidance.

Abraham Lincoln went to a slave auction one day and was appalled at what he saw. He was drawn to a young woman on the auction block.  The bidding began, and Lincoln bid until he purchased  her—no matter the cost.   After he paid the auctioneer, he walked over to the woman and said “You’re free.”

Free? What is that supposed to mean?” she asked.

“It means you are free,” Lincoln stated, “completely free!”

“Does it mean I can do whatever I want to do?”

“Yes,” he said, “free to do whatever you want to do.”

“Free to say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes, free to say whatever you want to say.”

“Does freedom mean,” asking with hope and hesitation, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“It means exactly that you can go wherever you want to go.”

With tears of joy and gratitude welling up in her eyes, she said, “Then, I think I’ll go with you.”

 

This story illustrates what God did for us.   We are bought with a price and it was costly– in that Jesus gave His body and blood for us.   And once that purchase was made, He decreed us free.

John 8:36  says: “So if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!”

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Super Bowl Jokes

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Pack Not Out of Super Bowl                                  Even though the Green Bay Packers lost on national TV in the NFL playoffs to the Atlanta Falcons, it turns out that in Jimmie Dwayne Frubowkowski’ s X Box game in Kenosha, Wisconsin, that Green Bay actually BEAT the Atlanta Falcons 29-7 and WILL actually play the N.E. Patriots this Sunday in his XBox Super Bowl.  I am glad that somewhere and somehow my Packers team got to the big game ( even if only in Jimmie’s gameroom).                                                                                                                      Super Bowl Geograohy

In Geography class, the teacher told the students that the first three to get right answers to her questions would get a pass on homework that night.   She asked:  “Where is the Golden Gate Bridge?”   Quickly, one student’s hand shot up and they answered:  “It’s in San Francisco, California.”  “Correct! No homework for you.  Now, # 2, where in the country is Mount Rushmore?”  After a short delay, a hand went up:   “Mam,’ it’s in the state of South Dakota.”  “Yes, you’re right.  No homework for you.”  “Lastly, #3, where is New England?   A confident student wearing a blue-and-red jersey had his hand immediately up.  He answered:  “New England is most definitely in the South.”  The teacher said, “‘Sorry that’s wrong!”  The student replied:  “‘Wait a second. You asked where New England was—right?”  The teacher said: “Yes.”  He asked aloud to the whole class: “Isn’t New England in the Super Bowl and playing  in Houston Texas, which is in The South?!.”   The class agreed. He said:  “Exactly!  So is New England currently in the South? Go Patriots!”  “Ok, no homework for you, son,” his teacher said.

Space Jam

A man overhears two people talking about the Space Program, while lunching the day before Super Bowl 51 at a bar in Houston.  One has asked: “What if NASA could find a way to populate the moon?  Who would we send?”  In the corner, a guy with a Falcons jersey says without hesitation:  “How about we send Tom Brady and all the Patriots and all their fans there?!  That’d be NASA’s greatest feat!  And make it a one-way trip!”

Worst Player                                                                                                                                                  Somebody asked an expert NFL analyst:  “Who do you think will be the worst person playing on the field this Sunday at this Super Bowl?”  He quickly retorted: Oh ,THE worst one playing on that field will definitely be Lady Gaga of the half-time show (!).  Just awful expectations THERE.  Don’t the Atlanta Falcons have a band or something to fill the spot?!”

Super Bowl Coffee                                                                                                                                                            In Houston, there is a fancy coffee shop, where they aim to please and so they do all the work behind their counter. A fan in line has noted from orders ahead in line how the shop has run out of half-and-half and now only has milk for orders.  In his turn to order, this Falcons fan tells the barista “I’d like a Grande cup of your regular coffee, please, and just black, so without any of that half-and-half. ”   The barista says:  “What?!  I’m sorry. We are out of half-and-half, sir.”  “I know, he answers, “it’s why I said what I did.” ” The Barista says:  “we’re all out of half and half.”  The Falcons fan rolls his eyes and says:  “Ok, then, I’ll have the black coffee without milk, then.”   The barista says:  “Coffee without milk, yes, we can do that!  ‘Coming right up. “

Hiccups                                                                                                                                                         It’s kick-off time, but a 64-year-old lady in the stands at the Super Bowl is hiccupping hysterically.  Attendants take her to the stadium medical office to be seen by a doctor.  After a minute into the private examination, a screech is heard from the examination room, and then the lady bursts out of the room as if in looking in complete shock.  The attendants asks her:  “Are you ok?  Did the hiccups go away?”  Startled, she says: “Why, as a matter of fact, it has!”  Then the doctor comes out, saying:  ” I don’t know how to stop hiccups, so I just examined her briefly and told her she was pregnant.  That shook her up enough for a cure!” The doctor wrote her a bill for $100, handed it to her, and said:  “All better!  Now go enjoy the game!  And, no, you’re not pregnant!”

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Living with future bishops

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IMAG0729_1IMAG0728_1The pics depict the county signs and plaques in Upper Marlboro remembering their native son and America’s first Catholic Bishop, John Carroll.  In 1789, the first Bishop of Maryland, and indeed, the whole United States, John Carroll was ordained as bishop of all North America’s colony territories, with its see being Baltimore.

It was the start of a new period in Catholic history in the U.S.

Each time when I visit our neighboring town, where Bishop John Carroll was born and raised, I am reminded of it.   He also happened to be chosen as Bishop while living right here in Bowie in the Whitemarsh Jesuit Mission 200 years ago (now Sacred Heart parish).

Since 1789, a number of bishops have been ordained to serve in this primatial see of Baltimore.  On this day, Thursday, one of my friends and fellow priests ws ordained as the next one.  A bishop is made of Fr. Mark Brennan.  I am there at Mary Our Queen Basilica. Hooray for Baltimore. Auxiliary Bishop Brennan, who will work under Archbishop Lori.  They both were DC priests before their episcopacy.  I first knew Lori in  chancery service of Washington ( as a seminarian)..  They will make a nice tandem.

Fr. Brennan once was a priest of my home parish.  I also lived with him in my diaconate year.  So I know him.

Fr. Brennan becomes the third priest I have lived with who has become a bishop.   I must be a stepping-stone blessing!  (Bishop Mario lived with me as Fr. Mario in Bethesda and Bishop John Bosco was Fr. John Bosco in Laurel.)

Here is a long shot at Mary our Queen Basilica of the Mass today in B’more, proving once again: “You can be more in B’ more.” Yes, you can!IMAG0938

 

NFL games

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It is the road to the Super Bowl in football mania in America.   A familiar team and player marches on here in Tom Brady and the Patriots.  Ugghh!  I am tired of this perennial winner! This past weekend, the Patriots handily beat the Texans.

The Steelers won in a cold night game versus the home field Kansas City Chiefs.  The game went very late on Sunday night, so not so many tuned in.   But it was the Cold Steel team prevailing.

The Atlanta footballers won over their Seattle opponent. Atlanta is a team not often in the AFC Finals..  Can the Falcons of Atlanta fly higher?  There’s a little kid who thinks so.   (See the photo way below.)

I watch the NFL playoff games , as I can, and with more interest this year, as my own favorite team is in the mix.  They are “The Pack.” “The Pack is Back.” The Green Bay Packers have won a few Super Bowls– can 2017 be the next one for them?!  We shall see. They won versus Dallas in a thriller this weekend.  They now will play Atlanta next Sunday.  The key catch by Woods from QB Rodgers is depicted below, getting the ball in field goal range for the winner.  IMAG0922_1

The league sometimes is a blast to watch, but the NFL and all pro sports on TV is also so out of hand and so money driven.  Plus, these football games are nearing the fever pitch of Gladiator games of Roman days, as some athletes are nearly dragged off the field, it is all that brutal.

I wonder, too, if the whole pro sports thing might be nearing idol worship, the way sports fans take it and pay for it.  The woman fan in the photo (down below) might have forked out $1000 to get tickets, pay for transpo and hotel, and fund other expenditures just to see her beloved Texans lose the games to the Pats.  It’s not worth it!

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Photo: Little Falcons fan will root for Daddy’s team, in the red and black.   Here in the stadium, as opposed to home and school, screaming is encouraged!   Above: Sometimes some neat patriotism is shown in the NFL shows, like the above shot depicts, leading off before kickoff.

Then again, sometimes it’s just Patriot Fever. Patriotism for just the Patriots team.

On the other hand, it is all just a game, and just entertainment, and an escape from work or problems for people.    And when your city team wins, like the Denver Broncos did a year ago— well. the city goes joyfully nuts for a bit.

Maybe that’s all we have here: Some way to pass the time and watch super athletes in a bowl pass the football as we pass the bowl of potato chips around.

Well, anyway–Go Packers!  Make my Feb 5th a day of great happiness.   I will have a St. Blaire blessing on my throat (Feb. 3) so to cheer Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory.  :) That is, if they get there to the Big One in beating  Atlanta next weekend.   When I saw (in person) the Packers lose to the Washington Redskins here in DC of a lopsided 42 to 24 score ( and in freezing night weather several weeks ago), I thought they were done, yet the team has rebounded to win all their rest of their games since then.   Maybe they saw me up in the stands suffering for them (it was COLD and late), and became inspired to play worthy of their loyal fan base.  Yeah, right!!

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Arlington National Services

imag0806_1imag0809_1In this week fore and after Thanksgiving, we have two burials at Arlington National Cemetery. One was for John Stockstill (husband to Sarah); the other for Eva Poiani (wife to Claudio).

Leading up to the burial site prayers for John, there was a military band playing, and the transfer of the body to a horse drawn carriage with soldiers procession, and the walk/drive to the site. After the prayers at the burial plot, there was a military band song, 21 shot salute, and presentation of the flag to the spouse “on behalf of a grateful nation.”

For the burial today of Eva, spouse of retired soldier Claudio, it was a simpler yet still dignified burial ceremony, led by an Army priest chaplain. Afterwards the group at the internment went to the Officers Club at the adjacent Fort Meyers for a luncheon.

A burial in the holiday season is both moving (for its timing) and yet more difficult (to have an absence at this season).

Arlington Cemetery holds the remains of a few hundred thousand of the U.S. Military and family. They had three dozen planned burials there today.
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Arrival Movie & Hacksaw Ridge Movie Reviews/Comments

ARRIVAL REVIEW AND HACKSAW RIDGE REVIEW

“Arrival” is the cool sci-fi film arrived recently on a big screen near you. The film begins with 12 huge UFO spheres showing up across the planet. They look real intimidating. The UFO riders aboard the space craft want to communicate with us, yet we have a very difficult time understanding their way of communication means. We in the USA at our location decide to send Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner to start peace negotiations. Good choice. (Well, at least, they are convincing actors.) These two hold our interest in the film as they try to speak with these huge, clicking-clacking, pentagonal, play-dough like figures from outer space. (Yes, we get to see them–unlike the quick glimpse of previous alien visitors, like in “Close Encounters.”)

This film is clever, innovative, and believable as a near-future event to our history. Why wouldn’t a more-mature alien race in the galaxy want to help their bumbling neighbors on earth? Especially if they have been observing us awhile?! (But a question still lurks through the story: ARE they come in peace–or to destroy us?!)

The film depicts life on earth as greatly in trouble– much like our two-thousand-teens time now. Earth is floundering in an aggressive, divided world of nations heading for destruction. Can this outside threat from space unite us?

It looks like it will be not so. Will we be even able to understand the aliens, all the while they park their cigar-shaped, football-stadium-sized ships around the world and freak the world out? Yet this expert linguist and scientist (Adams and Renner) give it a try tol make a break-through, through the access to the aliens, granted by Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker. He is willing to give these non-military folks a shot at finding peace with the space visitors, rather than resort first to the usual try-to-blow-them-all-up manner of greeting to earth’s intruders.

The story (book/film) is less than attentive to the global panic going on, but turns to pass on some lessons that humanity ought to be learning here, like, maybe, (aliens or no aliens coming), we have to learn to be less “alien” to one another. We need to ask questions first, and save fighting and aggression from ever being our first response. You’ll see how the story takes the turn.

I liked the film a lot. I didn’t mind that lessons were coming at me about our understanding of being human. I liked that angle. (I will try to hold back and not reveal more of the movie.)

With those lessons, I proceed here in a Catholic take on the story. With any conflict before us, using the gifts of prudence, understanding, and patience ( to name a few holy gifts) is always quite important, as we humans have been offered help im the Holy Spirit. We need to discover that we always DO have outside help from God (and we humans always do NEED that help). We can benefit from an outside source greater than ourselves. We DO need to look up, but not for Jupitarians or Martians, but to God Who is over us. God wants to tell us how we may be saved and how to live in His Grace, so to be one in peace, love and truth with others on earth, until the call to Heaven.

With this great Divine Assistance, who then really id striving to communicate with God?
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God is ready to make His arrival, whenever we call on Him. “Seek…ask…knock” are His open invites to us.

Back to more about the film “Arrival”…
This is not a “World World Z” or “War of the Worlds” or “Independence Day” sci-fi film. It is more cerebral. The aliens may not be arriving to obliterate cities or to devour humans or animals for lunch. Could you handle it if they just parked and waited for a way for each species to exchange a message? (It’s a little like Close Encounters that way.) Yet, meanwhile, as in other aliens are here movie, will the aliens notice the various military actions mounting to try to send them back into space?! Will the aliens need to retaliate with much greater force if so provoked? Uh oh.

The “Arrival” film is adapted from a book, and director Denis Villenueve and writer-adapter Eric Heirsserer stay with the book’s curious emphasis on a side story about Dr. Louise Bank’s life (the part played by Adams). For action film officianados, they have to be patient to discover (in part 3 of the story), that this side-bar reveals that something else important is going on here. Bank’s ‘visions’ and experiences and her life-long search of understanding language (as a interconnect among peoples) ties in to the climax of the movie. There is an emotional lesson that will take us out to the closing credits.

While this film is not as action-packed as Will Smith firing in wild succession to knock down the alien fleet (as in Independence Day!), this film finishes in a fashion of passing along a moral, advance-humanity lesson from the aliens and from the experiences gained by humanity trying her best to learn from adversity and weakness and brokenness.

While you get your impressive cinematography and expansive visuals and mysterious figures from the film, it really asks for you to leave and to wonder afterward what can truly unite humanity and move us forward from the chaos we are in these times.

I expect an Oscar nomination for Adams, much like Pitt got one for The Martian a couple of years ago. Sci-fi is back in the movies, but with a challenge or two to your thinking.

Oh, just a mention, don’t mistake Arrival for “The Arrival” or “Arrival II” which were atrocious Charlie Sheen movies!imag0789_1
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hacksawridge-cover HACKSAW RIDGE MOVIE REVIEW

It was worth my fitting in the time for a third film to see this late Autumn. “Hacksaw Ridge’ was that film, a really fine one, by director Mel Gibson. It’s a war picture with the most disturbing scenes ever shown in such a film, matching the intensity of “Saving Private Ryan” (SPR). While I liked SPR better overall, this one is very good, too, as it takes the cruel realities of war violence, its suffering and death, and paints a great contrast in its true story of Dennis Doss, the conscientious objector serving on the US Army’s front lines as a weapon-less medic, in the fierce WWII Pacific Okinawa battles to the Japanese. (Doss calls himself “a conscientious cooperator,” since he volunteered for the Army to win the Pacific campaign—just not to kill anyone, but to try to save wounded lives.)

Opposite to how SPR was told, which put the gripping, realistic battle sequences at the film’s opening, “Hacksaw Ridge” mostly holds back to the movie’s second half for the combat action scenes, and first tells the background family-and-faith story and love interest of this Seventh Day Adventist person. Army Medic Doss will try to live true to his calling and identity through the grueling, horrific test of war. When the combat scenes start, a big, powerful musical score (composed/produced by Rupert Gregson-Williams) and loud, manic sound effects of war will lay the foundation of an effective, intense finish. The war scenes are spectacular but are so graphic (living up to Gibson’s way of doing things—i.e. Apocalypto, Passion of the Christ, Braveheart)—that I’d advise the queasy or sensitive to skip this film.

So, will Medic Doss rise up to the situation, or will he turn to a killing fighter, or will he balk and withdraw from too challenging a call? Since the story is real, we do know that Doss was there at the Spring of 1945 land assault on this strategic Japanese coastland battle. Dennis Doss is played well by Andrew Warfield, the Army troop’s commander, Sergeant Howell, is played seriously by Vince Vaughn, Captain Glover by Sam Worthington, and Doss’ love interest named Dorothy is played by Teresa Palmer.

I took away from Hacksaw Ridge that war is much more atrocious in person than any outsider would ever know. War is hell.
I took away from the film’s story that the closed-minds of a majority can be very inhuman to a godly person and their convictions, as did Doss in this true account. Doss suffers much from his own American side (for keeping his Adventist/Christian convictions) way before the enemy fighting force of the Japanese seeks to destroy him just for being American and with its landing forces.

People of religious convictions today know that treatment both in severity (extremist Moslem- terrorists vs. Christians) and regularity (daily pressure for a pro-life Christian to succumb and comply to the secular humanist’s abhorrent ‘choice’ policies to abort and kill babies or other ‘unwanteds’ in society). Like the story of Dennis Doss, we must rise up to live our love and truth in Jesus Christ, and show the Incarnational Reality of God to the world, Who is With Us to live in the hearts of people, wanting to live out His Good Will. It will take some courage and holding to our convictions.

Hacksaw Ridge won’t win film of the year, nor will the actors win Oscars, but it should get film nomination, soundtrack nominations, and a few other nods. It’s an amazing, graphic film of war’s ugly face, as well as some of life’s ugliness. As fighting goes on today, as it does in Syria, perhaps we can understand a little better of how horrible it all is.