Miracles of Jesus, 4

The Lord’s Supper – The Lords Sacrifice for Our Salvation

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. Luke 22:19-20

How this miracle can inspire us:

In the story of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus ate his last meal with his apostles. During this time he performed what could be the greatest miracle in the Catholic Faith: He transformed bread and wine into his body and blood. This miracle is commemorated in every mass through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

In the Lord’s Supper, the bread signifies Jesus’ body being the bread of life. Accepting Jesus’ body is like accepting Him in our daily lives and that we must live the way Jesus wanted us to live. The wine signifies the blood of Christ, that was willingly given to man’s salvation.

This miracle is important because it shows us Catholics how Jesus selflessly gave His life to all of us and that he is a servant not just to his apostles but to all of humanity. There is no reason therefore to feel alone or unloved in this world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Blood of Jesus

Blood of Jesus, save us.

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

What the Blood of Christ Does

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

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

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

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

Let’s continue… the Blood of Christ…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now let us complete the list.

What does the Blood do?

15.  It sanctifies us (Heb. 13:12).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Homily

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

Order of usual Mass for a Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Homily II: Easter and Mary Magdalene

IMAG1096_1Mary Magdalene came to The Tomb and found the soldiers on guard as dead men, with the Angel of The Lord sitting atop the grave boulder, which He had moved, saying The Crucified Lord is not here. As He is Risen, behold, see an empty tomb.

HOMILY        (Lengthened Blog version)

On this Easter Morn, we hear the Matthew 28 account of Mary Magdalene and Mary of Cleopas at the tomb of Our Lord, and then of the encounter of the Risen Jesus.  Last night at the Easter Vigil I preached on one of these women and of her inspiration to us.  It was of “the other Mary,” Mary of Cleophas.   Today I preach on Mary Magdalene and of her inspiration to us.   Both women were present for the whole Paschal Mystery:  They were there for the suffering Lord Jesus , and below Him as He died on the Cross, as well as coming to Jesus’ tomb to pray, therefore, putting themselves in place as the early witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection.

At the Cross, Mary Magdalene was a silent witness.  No words are recorded of her, only long sobs– as we hear Jesus address her later, “woman, why are you weeping?”   Jesus saw her weeping below His Cross of Sacrifice.   It moved Him to see His friend there for Him to the end.   So, He would meet her here on the First Easter’s dawn, as her great consolation and new hope.

Mary Magdalene knew Jesus as God’s Love revealed to the world.  She had been amazed with HIm, even since her deliverance from her darkness.   As she saw Jesus on the Cross, she might have commented to the soldiers:   “He won’t really need the nails, for His Love could hold Him up there.   He dies in the fullest Gift of Love ever.”

Mary Magdalen was one of the “three Mary’s” at the Cross.   The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary of Cleophas, and her made for the faithful trio.   Mary Magdalene was different from the other two, in that she was not related to the Savior by family ties.   The Blessed Mother was Jesus’ true mother, and Mary of Cleophas was Mary’s sister-in-law.   Our Mary was a Galilean woman from Magdala, a city more known to be influenced by Gentile than Jewish life.   Yet Mary of Magdala would meet Jesus and become one of His closest disciples.   As for new family ties, Jesus had said one time that “those who hear the Word of God and keep to it are mother, brother, sister–or family– to me now.”  Mary Magdalene certainly fit that description of Jesus’ new extended family by faith.  We have learned it, too, today, that if we accept Jesus the Word and keep with Him– in Scripture, in love and service, in Sacrament, as members of His body, the Church– then we are called Jesus’ brothers and sisters.   My opening address to you was as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus– just to acknowledge that family tie we have!

In Luke 8, we hear how Mary met Jesus while she was under the possession of darkness.   Jesus heals her out of seven demons.  What those sins or evil spirits were–we don’t exactly know.  Yet she had a full recovery.   7 is a number that denotes fullness.  You know it as such, such as of the 7-fold Gift of the Spirit or 7 days of creation or 7 Sacraments.   Mary of Magdala will be a changed, whole woman now.  Because Jesus will later call her “woman” as in Matthew 28, it tells us that she is a woman of the new creation in Christ.   He came to bring us back into Grace, like humankind had in the Garden of Eden.  In fact, as John’s Gospel describes Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene in that first public, official Resurrection account— it is in a Garden, on purpose.  Jesus is first the mistaken Gardener, in John 20, until Mary cries “Rabboni” in recognition of her Lord standing there.  She knew Jesus when He called her name.   It is the same for us awaiting after death; Jesus will call us by Name and welcome us into Paradise with Him.

On Mary Magdalene’s feast day, July 22, the Church gives the Song of Songs as the first reading, denoting our Mary as the one seeking the Lord as like the dove figure in that Biblical book about God and humankind drawing nearer to our full reunion.  This figure in the Song of Songs so desires to be one with her Lover.thhhh

I’d like to suggest here how Mary Magdalene is our saintly model of desire to be close with the Lord God of love.   We need to want Him so dearly, too.   What made this disciple so want to be near Jesus, that even after death she arises as dawn’s early light to go to Jesus’ tomb, even bringing spices, if perhaps the guards would let her in to pay her respects?   Let us pray for desire for Jesus!   There is a title of The Lord’s Anointed that befits this suggestion:  He is the “Desire of Nations.”   (From Haggai chapter 2.)

Mary Magdalene has the soul need for God.   Jesus is God–so she needs to be near Him.

Jesus accepts her close to Himself.  As we have learned from His episode in Bethany, in letting two women sit at His feet and be taught as disciples– Mary of Magdala would have had that opportunity from her Luke 8 meeting with Him and on.

Sometimes Mary Magdalene is given a mistaken identity or even a disparaging one– as Jesus’ intimate lover on earth, as in girlfriend or wife.  Shame on those who say such things, as they reveal in that ignorance or pride that they don’t know what kind of intimacy Jesus offers His followers.   John the apostle and Lazarus of Bethany were so close to Jesus, they get identified, too, as “the one Jesus loved.”  Mary of Magdala was a pure and close relationship to Jesus, showing what the kingdom of God offers anew.

By the way, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus in Luke 8, so the harlot woman who meets Jesus in Luke 7 is a different person.    Yet the same thing applies– Jesus would have women followers, and some were of those whom He had healed and converted– and they now were disciples, like the others, and with the apostles.

Mary Magdalene is a chosen example for Christians to follow, probably thanks to how John the Apostle appreciated her.   Under the Cross, John was there with the Blessed Virgin Mary, and he did take notice how Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” was there, too.   When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary find that Jesus is Risen, it is to John, and Peter, that the news is delivered.    With Mary Magdalene, she is the symbol of humanity renewed by the grace of God, and bathed into the Paschal Mystery, for a new start to the world for the people of God.  We live in the world now with Jesus.  Jesus is the Gardener of our garden of soul and body, working us to redemption to Glory.

The Tree of Calvary becomes the Tree of Life’s new start, and the Garden of our seeking in faith and hope is where we find the Risen Lord, by faith, more than sight.  Yet He will present Himself as Sacrament to our senses.  Still, we are to know Him first by the heart and soul.  Mary calls Jesus by her favorite name for Him:  Rabboni.   She teaches us that we need to know our Savior so well, that perhaps we even have a special Name for Him.  Why?  Because we are in a personal relationship with Jesus.

It is Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Cleophas (whom I preached about on the Easter Vigil and copied to the parish pastor’s blog), along with Salome who seeking Jesus on that first Easter morn.   In imitation, you and I have come this Easter morn seeking Jesus.   Mary Magdalene and her firsts see Jesus and go prostate to kneel and worship Jesus.  It is what we come here to do on Easter 2017:  to bow and worship, and to be glad we have a Risen Lord.

What happens to Mary Magdalene later?  We know she is a witness for the Church in the Holy Land for 14 years after Jesus’ Resurrection.   The non-accepting Jews of Israel resist the movement of Jesus and this Way of the Lord (Christianity), and they put Mary Magdalene adrift on a large boat without oars, to ban her from Israel, and on that same vessel is said to be Martha of Bethany, Maximillian, Sinonius (the healed blind man of Jesus’ miracle), the Magdalene’s servant Sera, and the remains of Anne, Jesus’ grandmother.  They end up floating to Gaul, which is now known as France.   Mary Magdalene continues as an evangelist there, and a Basilica attests to that, in southern France, and Mary dies at 72 as a mystic in a cave dwelling, matching what the Song of Songs says as a “dove cooing her voice in the clefts, longing for her Love of Loves.”  The testimony is given, that like Mary Magdalen met the Angel at the tomb, so would she sees angels through her lifetime, even being ministered by them in her final days.”

This homily about Mary Magdalene is meant to reflect back on the One she so honored with her life–the Meaning of Easter.   JESUS is the Risen One.   HE is our Love.   HE is our New Life and Hope.   HE is the One whom we seek for a fullest knowing of Him, and WHO so promises us that such will be given to us, even in an Everlasting Way.

Mary’s seeking so diligently for The Lord, and not giving up, nor letting up after a Risen Jesus visit, tells us the same, as the Scriptures reminds us:  “It is whoever perseveres to the end who will be saved (Matt. 24:13).”   So seek the Lord fully!  The Lord has much to show us, even forever and ever, to our highest happiness!

Mary of Magdala also tells us to gather with others in this faith.  Jesus says to her, as in today’s Gospel, ‘tell the Good News that I Am Alive, then tell the apostles and others to go gather as one back to Galilee, where everything begins again with you.”  Mary tells Peter, and after they find Thomas, all go back to begin anew with Jesus: together.   Peter and the Church have been one since that time, when at Pentecost, the Spirit came to them to be the one, inspired, holy, out-to-the-world Church.   Amen.

we begin anew in Galilee– go tell Peter.





‘Twere True? ‘Tis True

Long Teaching      There is a Part One, Part Two, and a Part Two all in here

Part 1

I heard a phrase this week: “If ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious.”  That twere word is from an old-fashioned English usage as in meaning if it were true (’twere), then it would be ( it’d be or ‘tidbe) thus and such.  I haven’t heard those phrases used in a while… but some folksy speakers favor them still today.  Listening to S.C. nominee Gorsuch speak this week shows that the homespun terminology is still much in circulation.

But how I heard the ’twere phrase was not in a good light.   It was used by some Christian anti-Catholic person, one who unfortunately, was speaking publicly in dead-set opposition to a Living Jesus with us in the Blessed Sacrament.  They said that the Eucharist couldn’t be real because the amazement and convincing factor wasn’t there, in their view.  So, in the folksy, olde-fashioned sentence, they said “if ’twere true, then it’d be most obvious,” meaning that they were trying to debunk the Eucharist*, saying “it,*” was not really Christ Jesus, in their demanding that, if “it*” were true, some special effects would be seen and felt to support the claim of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in our Catholic belief and practice.  

Cut to chase, the Eucharistic Jesus isn’t exciting enough for them to be real.  “It” seems too ordinary to them.  

What a short-sighted point of view this seems to be.   The “it” actually is a Person: Jesus.  There view does slight the Lord in some certain way.  

I am reminded of the account in Mark 6 when people also dismissed Jesus by saying that “they knew” how he was only (merely) a carpenter, just an ordinary relative from Nazareth, son of Joseph.  They “knew” it.  They made noise that Jesus could NOT be anything more (and surely not Messiah).   We know now how very wrong they were in belittling Jesus.  

Same thing with belittling Him as Sacrament and Bread of Life among us today. That’s a big mistake to make. It leaves out a major, personal experience of Christ from their lives.  Yet we Catholics will need to be the witness to His Real Presence, so that all Christians can be led to Him, the Bread of Life, for their full nourishment.

To those statements above of expecting a sign, or refusing to believe, I thought: ‘Like what special effects are they looking for to have prove to themselves the Eucharist is really Jesus?! A tingling sensation? A taste of true blood? A stupendous, instantaneous, miraculous healing to the communicant?’ What ‘special effects’ were they seeking of Christ or of the Church’s relationship to Jesus as Eucharistic Lord for our pilgrimage Home?   In their current faith practice, is it all a big feelings kind-of-experience they demand to have called their Christianity?  There is fault in that orientation, if so.

There are clear descriptions in the Bible (as proof) for the Real Presence, too, if they are searching.  I wondered:  How more clear in The Word can it be that John the Baptist or John the Apostle call Jesus the Lamb of God, or that Jesus calls Himself as “the Bread of Life” or the “Living Bread of Heaven,” as for us to “take and eat?!” of Him? ! (John 6, Luke 22)  Or, that He offered Himself purposefully on the exact Jewish Passover for sacrifice (John 13, Matt. 26), which was unnecessarily dramatic of Jesus if twere only a symbolic gesture He was making.  Yet, what if the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, is Real Presence Blood to save us from death in sin?   Hebrews 9:11-28 has something to say about that, of this Church today in a living practice of Christ’ offering, as while we seek His Glory to come.  (Read it.)

Experientially, at each Mass, I get a sense of the blood on the doorpost of our hearts being applied onto us and into us, who want to be saved from death and our sins.  This, of course, is an update to the exodus story, as we live under the Exodus march now of Jesus.  As the author of Hebrews writes to the believers to experience in their present-time:  “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14)

Oh my!   The anti-Catholic said “if ’twere true”– scoffing as he said it… but hallelujah, “TIS TRUE.   JESUS IS AMONG US IN HIS BODY AND BLOOD in the work of salvation, and He is building us up to serve Him for His kingdom!  The “I AM with you always” so promised Jesus at His Ascension (Mt. 28:16-20).  Jesus IS Sacrament and Paschal Mystery for us now, so that the great I AM has been and is now and will be ministering to us of His feast of salvation.

As for a convincing proof of Himself as Bread, back in Jesus’ public ministry in Israel, do your remember the big deal Jesus made of it about Himself.  In John 6, it says how even many disciples and the apostles did not get it, of what Jesus did after the Miracle of the Loaves.   Due to that, Our Lord said:  “You had your fill of the miracle loaves, but do you still not believe?”   The people had missed the sign (sacrament) unveiling of Jesus.  So, even with much of an amazing thing occur on the hill with the multitudes with all them getting fed from practically nothing at hand, they still didn’t believe.   Why not?  Because it was not to be any special effects or spectacle that would win hearts.  Jesus knew it was all about faith and its desire to catch on and believe.   In that John 6 dialogue text, Jesus asked His apostles, ‘as many have left, over this hard teaching, do you also want to leave?’  Peter spoke for the Twelve that they were staying; faith helped them see the Living God before them in Jesus–and in His signs.  ‘You offer Everlasting Life, Master!,’ says Peter, indicating that he and the band of apostles were remaining with The Lord.

So, it is true that some sincere disciples for Jesus today can get it wrong, at first, about Jesus as the Sign of God, the Sacrament for a living encounter in the Divine.   But we wish for them to “get it.” (Only by Grace did we, too.)

These denials of fundamentalists and charismatic Protestants and other non-Catholics about the truth of the Eucharistic Christ today are familiar.  Many do say something like the man did (If t’were true, tid’be most obvious); but they are exercising their prideful demands a bit too far.  Faith seeks understanding, and we hope they will arrive there to know Jesus as Sacrament.

There’s hope people will come to The Eucharist.  The Holy Spirit will be looking to draw them in to glorifying God by such an embrace of Jesus Real Presence.

In seeking such a demanding physical proof of God (sign, on their terms), maybe by faith they can really become surprised, because God IS offering a physical manifestation of His works in the 7 Sacraments.  It’s just not of the double-wow factor.   Jesus comes meek and humble among us.  That’s so vital a lesson to see in the Gospel story. Jesus says: “Come to Me… for I Am meek and gentle of heart… I will help your soul find its rest.”  That is the same Lord of the Gospels Who is Sacrament today.  We meet Him on those humble terms.  We kneel often in His Sign Presence to us, as in Mass or Reconciliation or in a Matrimonial union or Holy Orders consecration.   It’s a humble thing to experience God in Christ in Sacrament..


Our Lord And Savior Jesus presented Himself humbly before the Father.  See our Mediator kneeling in the Garden of Gethsename in our illustration on the page.

He kneels in a humble offering to God, doing so in the time directly which had followed the First Mass, the Last Supper.  Only in our own exercise of humility will we take note of God come to us in all humility.

Jesus Himself in His public ministry (as told in the gospels) was not touring around like a rock-star of today.  He did not have elaborate clothes, house musicians, magnetic appeal, and an oversized, look-at-Me personality.   As some Nazarenes commented of Him:  ‘You’re just a poor carpenter’s son, and a lone carpenter yourself now and widows son (with Joseph gone), and merely a relative of people we know, a man of no privilege (Mark 6).  How at all could you, Jesus, be God (?), the Messiah?’ they scoffed.

This denial of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh was a regular thing as Our Lord was in ministry, and that of some of the Jews rejecting Him when He came is clearly told in the New Testament.

Later, the rejection of Jesus as God in the flesh was the break of the first heretics of Christianity.   Interestingly, there is a tie-in to the same rejection of Jesus as Eucharist.  This has also been going on from early on in Christianity, though very much more in recent decades and centuries.   Many non-Catholic Christians insist on living apart from the Sacraments of the Church of the 2000-year-old Church begun by Jesus.  Why such resistance??

Refusal to acknowledge Jesus as Sacrifice and Sacrament in the Eucharist has been going around for centuries, even so in the time of Christ ministry itself (e.g. “How can He give us His flesh to eat?!” –John 6) ‘and many no longer followed Him (after His Bread of Life teaching).’

The connection of God coming as human and as flesh/sacrament are much related– The Word is Flesh; The Word is also Eucharist.  He is the same Word, expressed as flesh.   Think of the many times in bible stories when people would not acknowledge Jesus as God among them, because He was of the flesh.  They couldn’t imagine God as flesh, therefore, they would not believe.  The Lord in flesh was an automatic disqualifier for them.   Even the crucifixion of Jesus was about some Jewish leaders asking for the death sentence for a man claiming to be God among them as a man.   But, oh how wrong those Sanhedrin were!

Jesus said that He was giving His flesh for the life of the world, and that His Body offered was becoming Eucharist for the faithful:  God was extending His visit as flesh and His Presence to us via Sacrament.   The God Who became small as an embryo once was even becoming present as hosts and parts of bread transubstantiated.  Amazing this Lord of Heaven is!

It is important, then, to see how the objection of Jesus as God/man is tied together with the objection to Him as the Eucharistic Sacrifice today.  They are closely related.  As a person like this twere person goes so vehemently against Jesus as Bread of Life Sacrament, I suppose that they would have also missed Jesus as the Man of Galilee too.  Jesus just wasn’t spectacular or obvious enough for some people, I suppose. 

The recognition of the mystery of God among us is by faith, and that recognition is a Gift.  This is so true a point.   At some time in our lives we Christians all need to become like Thomas the apostle, who was missing from the assembly, and to come in and see what the others had said was true.   Thomas examines “the Body and Blood Jesus– even the nailmarks–and gets that it is all indeed true, so to exclaim “My Lord and My God.”  Believers outside of the Eucharist need to come in to those believers with the Eucharist and to recognize Jesus as the Eucharist, so to say “My Lord and My God” to the Blessed Sacrament.

Jesus said something very important to Thomas upon the doubting apostles’ coming back into the fold:  “Blessed are those who have not seen (nailmarks like you have here), yet who will still believe.”  

Because it is all by faith that we see.   No tingling or sensations, no fireworks, no overwhelming feelings– just Jesus recognition. 

The Jesus received in Mass from the faithful is related to same Man of Galilee, the man so often spurned, because of denials by so many that He was God in the flesh with them.  Read the Bible accounts. They are many detailing the above rejection.   When the Lord Jesus was in public ministry, numbers of people also demanded certain signs or amazing proofs from Him, in that same special effects mode, but Jesus did not serve them in that flashy way.  In fact, Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus doing many works among them in humble ways, almost as in secret.  Faith not flash was the way into intimacy with Christ.  The Gospels all communicate how Jesus was indeed already their Sign of Signs right in their midst.  He was Sacrament; He was sign– but not to the demand of people for a spectacular sign.  He came as one of us, not to wow but to gently meet us and heal us and save us. He once concluded, “This is a people making demands but no more sign shall be given them but for the sign of Jonah ( referring to His Rising from the dead).”. That would be His major sign, but it would only be manifest to people who were in faith with Him.

Jesus comes to us, maybe more humbly in surprise to us than we could ever expect.

Yet He is here.   Humankind, in our folly, make our demands on God, rather than roll out the red carpet and ask however might receive Him in. It is all due to our want to deny our sin and our need for help and transformation, and of our resistance to let it happen on GOD’ S terms, not our own.   It’s a problem of pride.   Believers who say they belong to Christ have such problems sometimes in pride, though given by word of promise to Christ the Lord.  Yet they fully don’t know Him yet.  They also are prone to errors.  Just read the epistles of the New Testament from James through Jude, and you hear the apostles trying to keep the Church one and true and moving to deeper conversion and convictions, rather they might lose their faith.  (John’s letters are particularly strong.)

Yet Jesus IS a challenge to us.   Anyone who says He is peachy and easy and just a buddy Savior has much more to know of Him.   When Jesus came, He knew that He would experience rejection or refusal from people to Who His True Identity.  John’s Gospel leads off with the real challenge before us:  “The Word became flesh… and to as many as received Him, to them He gave right to be becoming as children of God.”

Even while getting rejected as the Son of God meekly ‘sneaking’ (past our prideful eyes) into our world and history, Jesus continued to affirm His identity as The I AM.  He was God in human existence with us, and the God of eternity.  He said basic things (as recorded further in John’s Gospel) such as “he(she) who believes in Me (as such) has eternal life.”. “I AM the Bread of Life… anyone who eats of Me, this bread, has life eternal, and anyone who does not, does not have eternal life.”   Jesus says this.   The gospel records it.

‘Tis True.

Ah, the Irish like this word, ‘Tis!      And with the Real Presence, we Catholics can say of its truth:  ‘Tis!!

It also says clearly in John than many people left Jesus, because of not accepting who He was or what He said, as in looking for a different Messiah.  In His teaching on the Eucharist, particularly, they left Him. (See John 6.) These were those ’twere true, then followers.  They stopped following the Real Jesus due to stipulations, one might say.  Could they have been saying;  “Jesus, you are too much of the ordinary and sublime to actually be the Divine One you claim to be.’

Oh how wrong they were then.  And now.

Part 3.   Our Catholic testimony.   People undeserving but who have been blessed to see.

What the non-Catholics (who kid us about wafer worship) just don’t know!  Jesus is Eucharist for His people on the journey home to Him.   This is so dear to us who are Catholics.  It also startles us about Jesus.  Our God Who becomes small, whether as baby and man, or as Eucharist host– He does risk being missed or unnoticed or even disrespected or rejected.

By grace, we in the Catholic Church (and other Real Presence believers) have recognized Him, like those who did when on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24).  Praise be Jesus for His revelation to His people, and for His Gift to the Church.  The hidden part of the Emmaus story is of persons who had walked along as if without Jesus, and even heard His words, still had not caught on Who He was until the breaking of the bread.  Then, they knew Him.

We Catholics claim and believe God is with us, and even in ordinary-style signs and sacraments.  The Lord is right here among us, yet He still can be missed, as by those who will not see.  He is Sacrament to continue a physical reality with His Church, yet people just will not abide with Him in this Way.   I think of many ex- Catholics who have voted so with their departure from Mass-going. They had been right near Jesus, even to receive Him in as gift, but have departed away from this intimacy with Jesus to prefer some other place or experience.  Sad.  

Some of the younger generations are going off preferring a more dynamic, entertaining style of Jesus.  Even some of the older folks, too.  Yet the Word says “He came meekly.”  Notice it in Him as the babe in Bethlehem (Mt. 2).  Or the man of Galilee walking up to John the Baptizer (Mt. 11).   Or the man preaching on the hillsides (blessed are the meek–Mt. 5).   Or the one describing Himself:  “I AM meek and humble of heart.  Come to me, and rest. (Mt. 11:29).”   This One Person also proclaims I AM Food in John 6, to “eat and drink of Me,” as does He say in the Last Supper Gospels.

‘Twere true?   It really is true that the Humble Jesus, as in Mystery among us as Eucharist, is missed, or even dis-missed by people today.  Yet He is Real-ly there. Those who seek, find– says Jesus.  May they find Him as Eucharist among us.

How I love the EWTN tv show that has all the testimonials of people of other religions or denominations who have come to recognize Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread.   The show is called “Journey Home.”   Other live call-in radio shows on EWTN’s network feature many more such testimonies.   Catholic Answers Live is full of Eucharistic Jesus confessors.  ‘Tis True, they say.

Of my hurts as a priest is to know of former Catholics or former practicing Catholics who are not with us in Sacred Liturgy now.  I dearly pray for them to Come Home.

‘Twere is probably a poor relative of ’twas, as in “once before, He was my Eucharist, but not now.” As in someone saying: “I don’t want Him to be.  I want something more amazing or appealing.”   Would they demand it to not be so, of this Eucharist not to be Him?

As the destiny of the believer is to gather around the Throne in praise of the Lamb, in the Liturgy of Heaven, going to Mass is a getting ready and acquainted with the Lord as He is worshipped forever.   The Holy Mass is our connection even now to Heaven’s liturgy, as they go on simultaneously.   Scott Hahn’s book “The Lamb’s Supper” is a great read for someone to see the message of the Book of Revelation as of a communion of the Church triumphant in Heaven, united to believers of the Church Militant (fighting the good fight soulfully on earth’s pilgrimage) and the Church Suffering.   All are united into the Sacrifice of the Lamb, and we are made worthy only in the Lamb’s Offering.   Again, this is all about the meaning and mystery of Holy Mass.

As John’s Gospel proclaims, Jesus is God in the flesh… and then Jesus says “my flesh is real food, eat it in remembrance of Me… this is My Body…My Blood for you.”   In each Mass, we acknowledge this Truth.  ‘Tis True.   Blessed is the Lamb Who was slain, who reigns now.  This is the celebration of Heaven, of and in and by The Lamb Jesus.

And on earth we pray in every Mass:  “Lamb of God… have mercy on us… grant us peace.”

Mary, our model believer, embraces the Word made flesh among us. At the start to finish.IMAG0820_1IMAG0244







‘Twere.  ‘Tis.   Two shall be one, Bride to BrideGroom.

Twain is another old English language word with a tw start.  It’s used in phrases like “never the twain shall meet” but also in wedded lines like “twain thee, one love now.”

Which shall it be of the Eucharistic Lord Jesus: Never the twain shall meet (me and Jesus as Bread of Life)–or– twain us, one Communion and bond, Lord?


I think I will sign off on that.  (I’d tweet off, but this is a blog!  If it ’twere a tweet, then this message would have been over in the first sentence! )

Photo:  San Juan Cathedral in the week of Epiphany.  I con-celebrated some Masses here.   In Spanish.

The Doxology Prayer in the Eucharistic Prayers

Do you know what the Doxology is in the Eucharistic Prayer (EP)?

It is the big prayer of the presider to be followed by the Great Amen.  It is the special prayer during the action of the elevation the Body and Blood of Christ in finish of the Eucharistic Prayer (I,II,III,IV, others), as the presider (and perhaps deacon) lift(s) up the paten and chalice vessels with the Lord as Sacrament in them.

The priest prays/sings “Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, O God, Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.”

The people answer in song or prayer (with some gusto):  Amen!

That’s the Doxology.

What does the prayer and it’s Amen mean to us? That Only “through Christ, with Him and in Him” can we arrive to the Father.

The word “doxology” comes from the Greek “doxa” which means “glory”. Doxology, therefore, means glorification.

Each celebration of the Mass has this function of praise, of blessing, and of glorification. However, the Eucharistic Prayer is the heart of this liturgy. The Eucharistic Prayer begins with the preface, lifting our hearts up to the Father. Then comes the Sanctus, proclaiming God’s holiness and glory that fills the universe.  God’s people pray or sing Holy, Holy and Blessed is He Who Comes and Hosanna!   The EP goes on, but takes a break for the Mystery of Faith, the people’s prayer in the middle.  Then, at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the presider (priest) recites this concluding doxology, praising the Trinity. In this prayer, the priest elevates the Sacred Victim up high, above all temporal realities, and says:

“Through Him, with Him and in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.”

It is quite a Doxology, and it is meant for quite an Amen!    IMAG0751_2_1

We are now presented to God with the Sacrament of Christ among us.  We are standing with Jesus.  The Holy Spirit has come down.   The Father is drawn to Christ appearing as our Salvation in present form as Sacrament (just as Jesus said He would provide us), and we look up to the Father in this Doxology to say:  Here we are.  We are yours.  Let this Sacrament come to us and claim us anew.   May the Real Presence of Jesus really renew us!   May we please You, O Heavenly Father!    Amen!  Amen!

Then we speak to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer— as with Jesus, as in a Spirit led miraculous meeting/encounter.

The Church believes in the mediation of Christ alone and His supreme Priesthood. Only “through Him, with Him and in Him” can we reach the Father. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6) We know that our deeds are pleasing to God through Christ. Our lives united to His life, to His death and to His resurrection, are glory and honor to the Trinity.

The Church exists to glorify God: this is precisely why the priestly Christian people have congregated together– to elevate toward God, in the Eucharist, the maximum praise possible and to gain, on behalf of all humanity, countless material and spiritual goods. This is why the Eucharist is where the Church completely manifests and expresses herself.

Now is a good time to point out the fact that the active participation of the faithful does not consist in reciting together with the priest this doxological prayer. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, “The concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer is spoken (sung) solely by the principal priest celebrant and, if this is desired, together with the other concelebrants, but not by the faithful.” (GIRM, 236). The presider of Mass, in his unique Holy Orders , prays Person Christi in this Eucharistic Offering.  The people participate in the EP with the Sanctus prayer ( Holy,Holy), their sole recital/song of the Mystery of Faith, and then their Great Amen.  The EP is now prayed through to an Amen, as we are presented to God in Christ via the Mass/ Body and Blood of Jesus.

The Christian people make the Eucharistic Prayer their own and complete the great Trinitarian Doxology by saying “Amen.”   And they are to say or sing it heartily!    I can recall being taught this when the People’s Mass was begun in the early 1970’s and the religious sisters of St. Joseph of St. Pius X School (here in Bowie) told us to almost shout this response to the priest at the Doxology.   So we did!

There was a movie back then called “Lillies of the Field” with Sidney Pointer helping a community build a church.  He taught the religious sisters of the parish how to exuberantly sing a musical gospel style of “Amen.”   I recall our good sisters in St. Pius X finding great affirmation in that (and we ending up singing that Amen from the movie for awhile as the Doxology response song ).  Yet we got the message:  It’s the Great Amen of Holy Mass!

The people’s response to the Doxology of the EP IS one of the two very solemn “Amen’s” of the Mass.   (The other is in reception of Holy Communion.)  In the third century, the principal privileges of the Christian people were listed as: hearing the Eucharistic Prayer, pronouncing the Amen and receiving the Divine Bread. With this ‘Amen’, the faithful ratify the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Augustine says, “To say ‘Amen’ means to endorse.” Even up through the Carolingian dynasty, the last words of the Canon were not spoken in silence so that the people could respond ‘Amen’ out loud.

The word ‘Amen’ is possibly the principal acclamation of the Christian liturgy. The term ‘Amen’ proceeds from the Old Covenant: “The Levites shall proclaim aloud to all the men of Israel… And all the people shall answer, ‘Amen!’” (Dt 27:15-26; 1 Cron 16:36; Neh 8:6). According to different contexts, ‘Amen’ means: “This is it, this is the truth, so be it”.

The ancient ‘Amen’ continues to resound in the new covenant. It is the characteristic acclamation of the celestial liturgy. (Rev 3:14; 5:14, 7:11-12; 19:4) In Christian tradition, it conserves all of its ancient expressive vigor. (1 Cor 14:16; 2 Cor 1:20)

As in the whole liturgy, saying ‘Amen’ has a vital meaning. It shouldn’t be a mere response with the lips, but rather, it has the value of uniting us to the mystery that we celebrate. Saying ‘Amen’ means uniting ourselves with Christ, desiring to make our whole life a doxology, that is, a glorification of the Trinity, united to the Paschal mystery of the Redeemer.

An essential part of the Christian vocation is to be “the praise of His glory”. Once again we see how the liturgy should be lived. A summary of the glory of creation in Christ is found in the doxology. Through His obedience and love even unto the Cross, Christ has carried out the perfect glorification of the Father: “Father, glorify your Name” (Jn 17:5), and has achieved the perfect glorification of His humanity, united to the Incarnate Word: “Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (Jn 17:5) We must unite ourselves, with our lives, to this glorification of the Trinity. Uniting ourselves to Christ, offering our whole life with Him, joys and pains, success and failure, work and everything that we do, we will become praise of the glory of the Trinity “through Him, with Him and in Him.”

Consider these points the next time you are praying the Holy Mass.


Catholic Music Convention

I am away until Friday the 15th at a Catholic convention. As a photo below shows, the gathering was for hundreds of persons who have an interest and/or participation in Catholic music (used in liturgies). We were gathered together yesterday in singing “worthy is The Lamb to receive power and wealth, and wisdom and might, honor, glory, blessing!” We had a group of musicians leading thw throng, mostly made up of members of an organization called NPM–the National Pastoral Musicians. In this moment captured, our musical instruments were mainly of 2000 voices, joined by a few persons in accompaniment with instruments of strings and keys and horns.

This convention gathers people to bring together some music and praise to God, and to fellowship in the experience, and to go to various workshops and conferences to learn how to enhance Catholic liturgies. People also come to grow in faith and just be inspired by all the music. It’s real enjoyable.

This blog would be served better today if I had audio samples from this week’s convention … with all the musical styles represented and the great teachings. It has been a great feast here for me for the heart and ears.
I was in a grand closing Mass when everything here seemed to hit its peak. Also, our final plenum was by Fr. Paul Turner as he taught on how our ultimate goal is to praise God in unity, even in our blend of diversity.

In a workshop today, also, a songwriter/liturgist shared some blessings in his life. One such blessing was in how he experiences the prayed Psalms at Mass as truly an act where he prays it WITH CHRIST to the FATHER. He says that The Spirit enables this dynamic prayer orientation. He said this revelation and enhanced prayer at Mass was in realization of how Jesus prayed those same Psalms in His life on earth and as one of us, and how the speaker started entering into the present reality that Jesus still is present to lead and prays the Psalms with His Body on earth. His Word remains active and living! Jesus truly prays the Psalm with us as the grand Mediator of earth to Heaven.

This participation was our subject for discussion and for singing some Psalms together afterwards, using this mindset.

I come back to pray all the weekend Masses, the confessions, a baptism, and join along with a prayer/Bible study group. ‘See you then!

Homily: Father’s Day in the Word and in the news

The Scriptures for a Father’s Day weekend are not purposely picked out for the occasion, but just for a Summer’s Sunday Bible reading, falling randomly on this June day for a “Year C” selection.
But what did they say?

The Word opened with: “Thus says the LORD: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.”
It says from the Hebrew Testament that a Father in Heaven would promise to send an only Son, as a gift of grace. If people would look upon Him, upon His suffering love, their proper mourning for their sins would deliver them free. On this Father’s Day, we hear of the Almighty Father promising to do something very special for His wayward children on earth. It will come in a Blessed Redeemer.

So the opening Word today is a prophetic message on the Cross of Jesus. We know how it is fulfilled for our own hearing; Favor comes from what Jesus did at Calvary. He is the Sacrifice given for our sins, to offer reconciliation from God to humankind. Yet the Gift does involve a mourning to receive the divine favor. The prophecy says “they shall mourn for Him.” A mourning for who and for what? It is a mourning, involving tears and a gripping reality that dawns on us over Father God’s cost for saving us via His Son. The cost of God is Jesus’ offering! The Person of Jesus dies on the Cross for sinners. We mourn that gripping Event which occurred to save our souls. And when we do–the beatitude goes into effect: Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.

Mourning starts with Cross sorrow; then Comfort comes from the One of Love on that Cross who steps into our mess and blesses it and becomes our Mercy and Peace.

Relate this mystery to the news of those recent tragedies in Florida involving lost children and adult children to their fathers and mothers. In one horrible occurrence, there was great grieving down in Disney World over a parent’s child who perished to a sudden wildlife attack. We have learned that the father of that deceased Disney-vacationing child is a Catholic, who just let his little boy get out of his sight for a few seconds, not knowing the danger lurking. His son was snatched by a gator at the lake shoreline and the dad couldn’t rescue his boy. The Dad’s names is Matt Graves, and the wife and mother is Melissa Graves. They hail from Elkhorn, Nebraska and a Catholic parish up there near Omaha. They both are having a fairly terrible Father’s Day 2016. They are in deep mourning over what happened to their boy, Lane, on this vacation.

The dad Matt and his priest pastor did speak to Catholic press on Friday morn. They said that the whole home parish is rallied together in love and deep hurt together for Lane and his loss to the family and church. Imagine how the readings impact them today in their parish for Father’s Day. You heard them here. The Word refers to the Cross and to the Death of The Christ. “They shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,” says that haunting line of Scripture. In the Omaha parish, they mourn for their son, the little boy.

And, in their Sunday Mass, as we do here in Bowie of Maryland, we mourn that our sins have caused separation from God to happen and for death as its consequence, and that a Savior was necessary to bear our wrongs on a Cross that would free us into God’s Mercy. We pray for the Blood of Jesus to bear us Peace. We pray for the goodness of Jesus to get into us deeply and save us. We pray for this broken world, where lots of lives were lost in Orlando these past days, and elsewhere– and that we focus on Jesus as the only Way to deal with our lost situations.

What does the Psalm say on this Father’s Day? Psalm 63, in song, gives us Jesus’ prayer on the Cross. Jesus says He thirsts on The Cross, and we recall Jesus’ words at Calvary, even saying aloud: “I Thirst.” What did He mean? It tells us that Psalm 63 was in Christ’ heart: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”

Jesus means that He thirsts for His communion to the Father, for Their oneness, and He prays in a new way in history as something is opened up, that as He is given Communion back to Heaven with the Father, that He, the Anointed One, the Only Son, can also bring us with Him in His Body. Jesus thirsts for souls on that Cross, to be presented to the Father in salvation. What souls? Any of them, anyone, who comes in a repentant (mournful and sorry) life to the Father. What that mournfulness does is that it then becomes the way a person is united into the Sacrifice of Jesus. It is the mystery of Holy Mass. We mourn Christ’ Sacrifice, yet present it to the Father, with our “Lord, have mercy” and “Lamb of God, have mercy” prayers in Mass, and Jesus presents Himself to us, so we can unite Sacramentally to His body, and let us receive Communion with God. It is a reason we call it Holy Communion. Uniting ourselves to Christ’ Sacrifice frees us to not have to stand alone on our own merit, but be presented by Christ to the Father. Holy Eucharist, of course, relates us into the same Mystery started in us and our souls at our baptism (our baptism into Christ’ death).

The Graves family of Nebraska have been presenting themselves to God over and over in this manner and Mystery of Faith. The Dad and Mom and daughter and little son were Mass-goers. Jesus will remind and assure them again, and to their whole parish up there in Nebraska, that He is a reliable Savior to trust in. Jesus will help them remember again that it was for their tears and loss (for a life such as Lane’s) that Jesus came to save us. We hope the Graves family, with all their hurt and loss, will find blessed assurance of their boy Lane being in Jesus’ hands, the hands of a caring Savior, who took death upon Himself, so to keep death from taking Lane (or any of us) away when it comes upon us in this broken world. Death will be a door for Lane–into Heaven–and not oblivion. Lane was already baptized into Jesus’ death. Lane has salvation.

We can be co-realizers of that reality, and have Communion in it today.

Jesus thirsted for Lane, as well as for each and every one of our souls, that seeing our need and our looming death, He offered us a way to be united in Him and presented to the Father by Him. This is what the Mass is all about. Jesus saves. Jesus gives us to His Father.

When the Heavenly Father receives His children home, through the Blessed Son, and the Spirit’s power—He always has a happy Father’s Day.
You earthly fathers who are here today, and grandfathers, and other kinds of fathers– you know what the best thing you can offer you children, besides your first love, is in teaching your children to love and honor God and to be repentant of sin and to live humbled before the Almighty. And to respect the Holy Mass as how we present ourselves to God every week of our lives, in a Holy Day.

If children see their own dads humbled and before God in need, then they can follow and be saved in that example.

God bless you men who are doing this, or turning the corner on doing this. Pray for the grace to life on in this way of life! It comes from the Christ in you.

I’d like us to look at the two New Testament readings from Mass today, as well, for its messages on a Father’s Day in America.

We go to the epistle for a connection to “fatherhood.” In Galatians it says: “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s children, heirs according to the promise.” You are Father Abraham’s children, if you belong to Christ, so says the text.
When we go back into Salvation History, the road leads us back 4000 years to Father Abraham. As told in the Book of Genesus, Abraham was the man who pleased God, and who inspired a covenant with God the Father to bring forth an Eternal Son to save us. Abraham was a strong man, and strong father, who was strong in his faith practice, and God honored it so. God was moved by Abraham’s own willingness to move where He directed him, and then later, in Jerusalem and as a dad with a miracle birth son–God was moved that Abraham was willing to give Isaac over to him. Abraham was a man who really loved his son deeply, and yet, Abraham loved God even more and was willing to share or offer his son. This act on the mount led God to make a covenant with Abraham, and to the whole human race, which would lead the Almighty to later give us The Christ, so that we could live in the blessing of Father Abraham, and by faith be heirs to promises from God, recipients of eternal, heavenly favor.

And this leads us to today’s Gospel from Matthew 16. Peter realizes that the Covenant of Israel for the ages, to be realized in an Anointed One, a Christ, was right there on earth standing before Him. Here He is! The Savior, The Redeemer, The Lord Jesus Christ. Peter is asked by Jesus, “…and Who do you say that I Am? Have you come to know Who I Am?” Peter says: “You are the Christ of God.”

To our strong men, who are strong in spirit, and here today to be in the Presence of The Lord, say it in your prayers of Whom You know and honor: I believe I am in the Presence of The Christ of God! Say “I believe… and I trust in You, Jesus, and I follow You.” Dear men, who do this act of faith, we thank you for it. The world needs men and fathers like you!

Final line: Last weekend I was with two fathers and their new babies at baptism. One of them is a second-time dad, and I had baptized his first child, a girl, and now her baby bro was there and baptized in the same font. It was a few years ago when I witnessed this dad’s wedding to his lovely bride’s wedding here, now the mother of two children with him. They live down near Annapolis, now, but grand-mom still lives and attends here in our parish. Occasionally the couple does worship here, too. So the party was over there, in a house near Allen’s Pond, where actually the mother of the little one grew up. It was a real happy day, perhaps even an early Father’s Day last Saturday to Eric! It was good to be the spiritual father in the middle of that family and couple’s joy.

End of Homily

Bonus– see a short message on celebrating Dads and their vocation… right below

PART TWO here of this message is just a celebration of the vocation or role in life as being a dad today.
The USA National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) produces lots of resources dedicated to furthering the work of fatherhood professionals, with their research and information available to all in fatherhood to ponder in their higher role in life. They asked men: What has been your greatest “fatherhood” moment? Answers were:
• Welcoming my baby girl to this world when she was born. Holding her in my arms and humming songs to her in the middle of the night. Every moment is precious! (From A. Harrer)
• My son is the love of my life, he is my everything. 11-years-old and he’s out there with me working on our car, helping me wash her, and get her showroom ready…great kid in the classroom, and a great kid out in public being well mannered as well! (From L. Perez)
• Just watching my kids be themselves and being silly with them. And knowing they love me as much as I love them. (From L. Cusic)
• Being a single dad, raising my daughter myself since she was 18 months old, and she is a great kid, works [hard] in school, and is in the gifted program. She makes me so proud everyday…If someone’s in trouble, she wants to help. (From A. Redden)
• ‘Favorite Moment? Taking off a training wheel to teach my young one to ride a two wheel bike. Phone rang, ‘had to answer, and when I got back with my son, my 5-year-old had taken the other wheel off by himself (having seen me remove the first one) and was riding like it was nobody’s business. (From J. Bowman)

And, then, the NRFC survey asked the men: What advice they would you give to young dad raising their newborns today? Answers were:
• Be gentle, be patient, be loving. Always be there. (From T. Berntson)
• Read to your child 30 minutes a day. By the time he reaches Kindergarten he will have learned hundreds of words or more. (From T. Spencer), then he added practically, • With $100, open a 529 College investment plan. Do it at any Federal Credit Union.
• Tell your kids that you love them every moment and play with them. Don’t get discouraged – be strong. (From B. Bearbow)
• Turn the T.V. off and spend time with your baby, as much as you can, they grow fast. Set a good example to be a man and gentleman. (From A. Avila)

There is some good advice, and there’s much more good advice waiting out there for Dads by other good men who have been Dads and who have cherished it.

Today’s Birthday celebrant…

thUHK4C6VHHappy Birthday

on this June 2nd to

our regional school’s patron,

St. Pius X,

who was born in Italy on June 2, 1835.


The side picture is of our shared regional Catholic school (and where I once attended as a boy). St. Pius the Tenth school has been around almost 54 years now, and all the four RC parishes in Bowie support it financially and send our own parish family students to study there. We also have members who are on the faculty there, and each parish sends priestly support, such as regular teaching in the classrooms. In this past school year, six priests regularly helped in the school. The 8th grade graduation and Mass is next Wednesday night at St. Pius X church. This will be the first time in my priesthood that I have remained in a parish long enough (St. Edward the Confessor) to see a class go through the school from 1st to 8th. [*They also have K and Pre-K classes]

The statue of the patron is in the main lobby of the school, with another one outside of the church.
The parish and school were given this pious Pius name to honor the saint whose feast is August 21st on the Church calendar. He was canonized in 1954, so he was a rather new saint when the school was founded. He had been the 259th pope, and evidently the tenth pope named Pius, and he did a marvelous job as pontiff, and in much evidence of sanctity of life. Pius X inaugurated a worldwide liturgical renewal and the restoration of frequent Communion from childhood (2nd graders could receive). His papal motto was “to renew all things in Christ.”

His birth name was Giuseppe Melchoirre Sarto.

The prayer to St. Pius X:

Glorious Pope of the Eucharist, Saint Pius X, you sought “to restore all things in Christ.” Obtain for me a true love of Jesus so that I may live only for Him. Help me to acquire a lively fervor and a sincere will to strive for sanctity of life, and that I may avail myself of the riches of the Holy Eucharist in sacrifice and sacrament. By your love for Mary, mother and queen of all, inflame my heart with tender devotion to her.

Blessed model of the priesthood, obtain for us holy, dedicated priests, and increase vocations to the religious life. Dispel confusion and hatred and anxiety, and incline our hearts to peace and concord. so that all nations will place themselves under the sweet reign of Christ. Amen.

Saint Pius X, pray for me.