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.

Homily. May 13/14. Celebrating Fatima’s Centennial.

Pic of my own 2003 Fatima pilgrimage. IMAG1256

On May 13, 1917, Mary, the Mother of Jesus our Lord, appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal.  She had admonitions for the world to be in prayer with God so to gain strength to fight versus oncoming difficulties in the world.  Those difficulties came to be known as World Wars 1 and 2, along with the threat of Communist expansion in the world.  The children received a message that God was sad for all our sins.  The seer named Francisco said:  “More than anything else, I want to console Our Lord.” So he lived a life of child piety.  The seer named Jacinta said: “I want to suffer very much for love of Jesus.”  This little girl knew that loving Jesus does have a cost, and it’s the heart’s cost of a surrender to God’s love, keeping away from a fallen world’s enticements to sin.

During the world wars and the communist pushes into nations, millions of lives were lost in those times.  Faith was suppressed when the invader force came in.   The Fatima message called for faith and hope from Catholics and believers world-wide to bear God’s light to vanquish the darkness.

The Portugese people mostly heeded Mary’s message and thus they had less harm come upon them from the wars (at least than others did), but the message wasn’t just for their present time, or to them, but for the future and to many others.  The Fatima call has spread around the world, in fact, and for a century.

The 3 visionaries were all shepherd children.  Their names were Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta.   The latter two died as youth, as even foretold by Mary, but on this weekend Pope Francis comes to their Fatima village to canonize them, as Saints Francisco and Jacinta.   Lucia lived through most of the 20th century, even into Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, the one she says she saw in a vision. She had seen a suffering pope, and it JPII indeed who was the victim of an assassination attempt, but he survived, and JPII came back to Fatima to thank the Blessed Virgin personally and did so quite dramatically too. All near the end of Lucia’s life.

The Fatima visionaries trio saw angels, Our Lady, Heavenly sights, and hell too.   They came to realize, even in all their innocence, of the profound nature of the spiritual life that takes place everyday.   They realized their need to be with God and to become holy. They saw the great need of all the world to come to Jesus.  And they saw that Mary was there to help that come about.   That’s always her role.   To lead people to her son, The Son of God.

Our Lady of Fatima’s message was to pray for conversion of the world to God, and to offer prayerful reparations for the sins of humankind, the sins so heaped up in offense in the 20th century.   A prayer for sinners in most need of God’s mercy was added to end all of the decades of the rosary prayer, in request by Our Lady in her Portugal apparitions, and she added a call for new 1st Saturday devotions, as in 5 of them done annually, in prayerful union with her Immaculate Heart.  This call by Mary has been taken fairly seriously in places and by people.   Thousands of people did witness a so-described spinning of the sun as a Fatima sign of God’s part in sending Mary to help the world.  That sign still appears to people in some effect.  The best sign, though, is that lasting one of a hundred years of the most faithful flock in Europe, that being the Portuguese, who remain more steadfast to the Church than all of their neighbor nations.

PFFatimaPope Francis has come to Fatima yesterday and pointed to Mary as a person in grace and a model to us.   He quipped:  “Which Mary do you know?  The plaster statue or the woman full of grace, so blessed because she believed?”    Francis tells us that when we believe, we give God more ground for His favor to work in us.   He says that we need to be open to a merciful God Who still wants to work in our lives, so as to perfect us.  Yes, we need work done in our souls.   Jesus, the Gardener, once seen by Mary Magdalene on that first Easter Sunday, has tilling to do in us.  I have suggested to you more than a few times that it is to serve in evangelism efforts, outreach to the communities around us, and proclaim a Jesus of Faith, Who welcomes people home.   This shall be the home for many, if we but reach out to them.   The June 3rd Life in Christ seminar that we are having that Saturday from morning to evening is our gathering place for renewal.  We come to learn how we can let our own hearts beat with love for others, and then later in the year, invite other people to a day retreat, those whom we see or know around us that look to need Christ.

In my decade among you, we have reached out a bit, to add new members– but not to the point of replenishing the 900 households we once had.  We are under 700 now, and our religious ed. and Catholic school student numbers are lower than before.   Our new neighbors need to meet the Christ we proclaim and serve.   Our Lady of Fatima tells us that she is a patron of conversion.   Get to know her story if you need to.   I put introductory videos on our website to that end.   Mary wants to help us.

When our statue fell and was beyond repair in the backyard devotional area on the hill, I wondered which type of Mary statue could go up there this time.   Our Lady of Fatima, with the three children who became saints, gathered at her feet– that is what I ordered.  We’ll dedicate it on a weekend ahead.  Fatima

The Scriptures today in Acts 6 say that “a man named Stephen was filled with grace in the Holy Spirit,” and along with six other named men– came forward to serve under the apostles to help advance the mission of the Church– the Way of The Lord Jesus.  It says how the apostles prayed and laid hands on them.  (And that) the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples (there) in Jerusalem increased greatly.”   We could adjust that message to Bowie, that via persons in grace and the Holy Spirit and the apostolic church, did help the Word of God to continue to spread, and that the numbers in the fold increased greatly.   Are you looking to serve that mission in some way?  Come on June 3rd.  Give an rsvp to the office that you’re coming.

What can we expect from God?  That He will use us for His calling the sheep home. That He will appreciate our cooperation, for the Psalm today says how “the eyes of the LORD are upon those who revere and respect Him, upon those who hope for His kindness.”   I propose that His kindness is to help St. Edward parish to renewal and more numbers.   It’s in your trust in His kindness, your priority.

Hear the invitation on this Lady of Fatima day, via the epistle proclamation which Peter makes:  “Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house!”  Does that not sound like a call to renewal and strength as a spiritual house of St. Edward for the Lord?

Last weekend, the presenter for Live Christ Share Christ appealed for people to not to be afraid to be in a renewal with God, and that this Catholic program, based first on an all-day seminar experience, is meant to show people how to stoke faith renewal, just in case one wants to help the parish grow, and its people within.  We take a question that Philip once said to the Risen Jesus in front of him, in questioning if the apostles really knew the way to do things, as Jesus was calling to them:  Philip said to him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?”   Jesus was gently reminding Philip that God was among them, not just up there with the Father in the Heavens, Jesus said:  I Am the Way, on this journey with you, brethren!”

Yes, indeed He is.  We need to believe it.

Photo:  I co-led a Fatima Pilgrimage in 2003.  Group picture in the Fatima square.

 

Mary in the first Easter season with Jesus

I think that Mary was with Jesus in many resurrection appearances.   I see her at a dinner perhaps, and a personal time together, and with Jesus in a visit to Peter’s house, and maybe witnessing Him delighting in a child’s faith bin His resurrection, and also being on the hill at the Ascension of The Lord.   These photos depict these things. IMAG1251_11494385190262938798712IMAG1245IMAG1241

The Rising Up Life. Homily 5-7

How do we live a Rising Up life?  By the buoyancy of the Easter Lord Jesus.  We engage Him daily into our lives.  We do it by prayer, spiritual reading, service to the Gospel, and by loving in a God- breathed way in activities and relationships.  That’s for starters.    It’s the success formula and story of many a saint, such as the single Canadian woman Blessed Marie Leonie Paradis, whose feast is May 3rd. She came from a poor but religious family. Her pursuit of holiness as a Catholic inspired her to become a learned woman of the Faith, going on to teach in places in Canada as in New Brunswick and Montreal, and in the USA in New York and Indiana.  She founded an Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.  Many others took up an imitation of her zeal for God and love of people.IMAG0460_1

What Marie-Leonie found was of how to let the Risen Lord into her being, so that He might be her inspiration.  She learned to live in tandem with Him.

Indeed.  The Risen Lord seeks avenue to live in His people.  This is the new life.  The prophecy was that God would put in us a new heart and spirit– Yes, His very Self in us.    I in you and you in me, as John’s Gospel tells of Jesus of this rising up life.

How do we say YES to the LORD today to the new life?

We hear about a changed Peter in the Acts 2 reading today for the opening Sunday Scripture.  He now lived in Jesus and we hear how his convicted teachings were so moving that his hearers “were cut to the heart.” They took Peter’s exhortation rather seriously–about becoming saved from their corrupt generation–and it says 3000 people expressed their repentance in baptism in that afternoon described.

A changed new life in the Risen Lord Jesus has the holy power to touch others and make a real difference– whether in St. Peter, Blessed Marie Leonie or in you and I.

So how do we say YES today to being joined in the Easter Lord Jesus, and Rise Up more in the New Life?

IMAG1225_1

2nd Sunday of Easter Homily

If you heard today’s reading from Acts with recognition, then congratulations, because you realize that it was our Advent theme of the 5 Loaves ( or 5 key ways) to be the Church.  It’s valuable 5 lessons are in the Advent’s blogs (at our parish web site) for your looking back…

Let the Color of your New Life in Jesus be seen before others.

sPeacock–a symbo1l of New Life in the Risen Lord.

On Good Friday I had a seafood lunch out at a restaurant with family members.   It followed a parish morning prayer service, a server rehearsal, and then a Way of the Cross at a Catholic cemetery, with a visit to dad’s grave.  4-16-2004.    It was fitted in to some free time before Evening Liturgy.

At the restaurant, I felt a little out of it.   In this place, the majority of people there looked rather oblivious of it being the day of the Lord Jesus’ death.   People were drinking alcohol and eating meat and carrying on around us, while we ate our fish meal.   While I had a good lunch gathering with my family, the scene around us had me see just how very secular our society is right now.  The stores that day were probably all busy, and while many people had to go to do their jobs or schools, some had it off–but not in acknowledgement of religion.  Those persons who had the day off were likely doing things like golfing, shopping, and maybe the kids were on the video/computer games all day—- and that was all sad to me, as society treats The Day Jesus Died as just any regular Friday.  With little notice.   Even the Washington Nationals had a game, with a bobble-head doll giveaway.  Real sad.

Good Friday is meant to be a day of mourning.   I suppose many were not intending to mourn–not at that restaurant, anyway.   Meaning—it just did not seem how Jesus was relevant to them, nor His death being important to them, nor the realization of His life-saving death happened on this day in history to save sinners.  Didn’t these people feel at all like sinners nor needing any saving?   Well, anyway, I was at the place, too–for awhile.  Maybe someone saw me there, and wondered:  Why is he here?

A Catholic saint once said:  If a person doesn’t appreciate Good Friday, then they can’t really comprehend or celebrate Easter Sunday.   I am concerned that there are an increasing number of people not acknowledging they are sinners in need of God, so what could Easter mean to us.

Now the Lord doesn’t want to win people over using guilt trips or finger-pointing, so my point isn’t of accusing judgment here, but just about the Lord’s perspective over us all.   The Divine Mercy in the Blessed Son saw all the human need and our misery, and came to save us.  Jesus defined His coming, saying:  “I have come to seek and save the lost.”  And, that, is who we all are. The lost folk.  Quite lost.  In a world with so much offered by God to us, even for redemption, but we wander and stray, into indifference or even defiance to Him.   God looked at all of the world and her history of our pride leading us far off-course from His original plan for us, and so from the Cross Jesus, God’s Son, bore our sins, saying:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”   Maybe in modern lingo, ‘These people are so messed up!  They really need this Divine Mercy, Father.  Forgive them, for they have it all so wrong that they even condemned me to a Cross.   They mock Me, but Salvation will come by here.’

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, can we ponder just how royally messed up we are as a world?   Yet, can we be baffled in joy, that God is come to save us anyway?!

Now, Divine Mercy Sunday is a bit different from the Good Friday perspective.   We have a Risen Lord coming to the apostles, and showing His triumph, while also bearing the marks of His crucifixion.   He will always be the Lamb of God for us.  He is a Lord of Triumph, too.  That is what Thomas sees, a Lord who died and rose, and he exclaims:  “My Lord and my God!”

He sees the two expressions of Jesus, His Sacrifice and Resurrection, joined into one.  So Thomas sees the connection of the Cross and Rising of Jesus as one thing.

Jesus lived out this connection.  As Jesus was up on the Cross, we know He prayed some Psalms in those three hours, ones that connection His dying and rising.  He prays the abandonment prayer of Psalm 22 “why have You abandoned Me to death?” along with Psalm 23, for sure, “though I walk the dark valley, I fear no evil… a table is prepared for Me even in the presence of my enemies… my cup (of victory) is overflowing, surely goodness and mercy shall follow in…to the House of the Lord forever.”   Jesus was praying those such Psalms, along with this one we prayed today, Psalm 118; it was on His mind and heart that fateful Day, as He pondered what lay ahead:  There is Resurrection after the rejection.  Psalm 118: verse 22: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the cornerstone.”  Hear Jesus praying: ‘I will start a work, Father, of saving people into a Living Temple, of My own body.  I am the Cornerstone for a whole new world.  The Building Block.  I was rejected, but I AM what can build up a new people.’

Psalm 118: verse 23:   “By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful to see…”  Jesus could see the New Day dawning, upon His Sacrifice being accepted by the Father.  Hear Jesus praying:  ‘WE have done it.  It is a wondrous gift of love, to bring back this fallen people, this lost creation, and give it a free way back to the Divine Friendship.  By God, US, it is done– for people now to believe and accept and live out.  This work of salvation is a wonderful thing for them, and I shall now arise!’

Psalm 118: verse 24   “This is the day the LORD has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”   Easter really is the day God has given to us, and actually it is the first day of endless love and possibilities to be born from the fruits of Jesus’ Resurrection.   Easter is a Day, THE DAY to rejoice and be glad in it.   Easter, too, is a Season of the Church.  Easter, as well, is a whole new way of life.   Jesus may live in us now.   Easter is also the promise of Heaven and eternal life, given as a gift in the Redeemer Christ Jesus.

These verses bring a real happiness to our liturgy, for if you have walked with Jesus in sorrow through Lent and Holy Week, you are best ready for the Bright Side of the Story.

For God has a victory to bring for those who come and are humbled by the Cross of Christ.

Jesus sees His rejoicing faithful, and He hopes He may use their witness to bring the Good News out to touch others.   Like here in Bowie.   For the many people who are not surrendered to Christ in their hearts are just filling time, keeping occupied, looking to put off that emptiness of soul inside— Jesus wants to deal out purpose and meaning and love and fulfillment to them.   Jesus is given to be the New Life for these needy souls. You and I are meant to be examples of that, to reach the gloomy and the distracted and the disguised.  Life’s purpose is to live for God.  That’s what Catholic Christians should be ‘advertising’ in our lifestyles, and that Easter and Jesus Alive IS a reality.   And yes—-Grace provides a way out of sin and death and darkness.  We herald how Grace is making breakthroughs to people such as us.   It was in seeing our brokenness and need, and a Jesus to fill it– that brought the enlightenment.  His Cross has met our brokenness and His Resurrection has us truly set free.

“If the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed!”  So says Jesus.   He is Risen and we are free!

I am so glad to be in that realization and revelation, even if I do ask myself:  Who am I to receive this wondrous grace?  But The Lord has a marvelous love to share out.

It is the burden of pastors in churches to worry about the state of people’s souls.  To reach the lost person and help them to be found in Jesus, and then for them to grow in the Lord Jesus.   It is also supposed to be the concern of every baptized person to be interested in helping souls come to know Jesus, and for the body of believers to keep growing deeper, then, in their faith.  Hear our epistle speak to that today.  “May that the genuineness of your faith, so precious to you…even willing to be tested, prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”   Yes, St. Peter’s letter says that we hope for a genuine experience of Jesus in us, the whole Jesus, in His Paschal Mystery, that others may see their hope is in Jesus, too.  The message continues from Peter,  “Rejoice right along (until into that)…glorious joy, as (when) you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.”   thM30CLBDM
Jesus is that “fisher of men,” so leading the Church at her start.

So, in a suggested follow-through of this Easter message, we present in the bulletin our second appeal to a parish renewal program getting started, with the need for a few to step up and help it get going.  Read the leaflet today and/or visit the parish website under Faith Formation today.    It’s about a training retreat program to learn how to put on a evangelistic outreach to the community of non-believers, tepid believers, and need-to-be-more engaged believers of helping the Good News of Jesus to spread out to others. IMAG0554

A resurrection style Lord of Sacrifice, as seen depicted in the Gate of Heaven cemetery chapel, Silver Spring.

Go out and tell the Good News, He is saying.  Let the colors of New-born Life in Jesus be seen by all.  s

 

 

 

 

 

 

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