Saturday, January 26, 2013

HNP Franciscans Help Youth To Challenge City Hall

The National Catholic Reporter has a story on their website, concerning a group of seventh and eight grade students who lobbied the local government of Camden, NJ, to clean up and repair a local park.  They are students at St. Anthony of Padua School, which is attached to St. Anthony Church, staffed by Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, OFM.  It is an inspiring little story of how the friars helped these young people take an interest in their community; and how to go about improving it, one step at a time.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homily For 2nd Sunday In Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62: 1-5
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
John 2: 1-11

Recently, I have learned the meaning of a new phrase, and that phrase is “back story.”  One definition is that it is a literary device used by some writers, to create a history or biography for a character, or events that lead up to the current incident the author is writing about.  The back story may be just for the author’s benefit, to help in writing about a present moment in the story. 

After going through today’s Gospel reading, I find myself wondering as to what was the back story for the wedding feast of Cana.  The passage hints that the wedding party had a good number of waiters or servants in attendance, with a head waiter in charge.  The size of the water jugs seems to indicate that there were a lot of guests invited, who would be using them for the ceremonial washings.  So I am speculating that somebody in the wedding party had, as saying goes, “a lot of brass!”  So how does it come about that Mary, the mother of Jesus, a simple woman from Nazareth, gets invited to this wedding?  It could be that she was a relative from the poorer side of the family.  She must have been loved and respected to be invited, and of course, they would have to invite her son, Jesus, who was developing a reputation as an itinerant preacher

Mary is observant, she notices the distress among the servants responsible for pouring the wine; she sees the wine is running low, and she knows what dishonor it could bring to the married couple.  She turns to her son, who tells her that this is not the moment.  But Mary knows; deep down in her heart, where she has reflected on everything that has happened up to this moment, that now is the hour.  And the rest is, as they say, history.

However, I think we should notice something, the groom and the head waiter are clueless as to what has happened.  It is not to the people who live “Upstairs” that this miracle is revealed; but to the ones who are “Downstairs.”  And we can imagine these servants, the ones who prepared the water jugs, going to their families and telling them of what they had witnessed.  And soon the word gets out throughout their neighborhood.  And soon, all of Cana is abuzz, as is the rest of Galilee.  And everyone is talking about this country rabbi, by the name of Jesus.  And his disciples are now aware that there is something more to this Jesus of Nazareth.

We all know what the something is; we know that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, who died and is risen, who has freed us from the power of sin and death.  If we know this, then we cannot keep this a secret; “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.” (Isaiah: 62: 1)  We are entering a process to reorganize the Catholic communities of Beverly into a collaborative. The aim of this process is more than just preserving the status quo; their ultimate goals is to give us the resources to go out and be evangelizers, to got out and proclaim the Good News.  We are all called, by virtue of our baptism into Body of Christ, to participate in the prophetic role of Jesus.  Does this mean that we all become street corner preachers?  Maybe!  However, what I would ask all us to do is to reflect on the words of St. Paul from the second reading.  We all receive different gifts from the Holy Spirit, which are meant to be used in building up the Body of Christ.  This means taking the time for prayer and reflection, to become aware of the gifts we have received and what opportunities present themselves to us to use these gifts. Sometimes, the best evangelizers are those who strive to live those two great commandments of Christ, to love God with all of our heart and soul; and to love others as ourselves.  One act of charity can be like a stone dropped into a pond; the ripples will go out and spread through our families, our neighborhoods, our city, the world. 

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.”  Let us not be timid, let us not be quiet, but boldly go out, in whatever way the Spirit calls us, and proclaim the Good News, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Texting For Prayers

St. Francis of Assisi took a new approach in reaching out to the common people of his age.  Where Sunday sermons of that time had developed into intellectual dissertations, often spoken in Latin.  Francis preached very simply, in the language of the people.  His friar sons continued that approach, even into our Internet driven era.  The National Catholic Reporter's website is carrying a CNS story about Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, accepting prayer requests via text.  Cool!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Twenty Five Years with the SFO

“The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this; to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.” (Art. 4, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

With everything going in my life lately, I had forgotten an important anniversary this month.  January 9, 2013 was the 25th Anniversary of my Profession of the Secular Franciscan Order Rule.  The only other members of my profession class were a married couple in their eighties.  Sadly, they have long since passed away.

It has to believe that it has been 25 years; 25 years of trying to be faithful to the spirit of St. Francis.  I sometimes have done well, sometimes not.  There has always been “beginning again, for up to now, we have done little.”  There has been times of joy; times of sadness; times of frustration, and times of fulfillment.  I still find inspiration from the writings and life of St. Francis, and all the other Franciscan saints.  I am still moved by the work and lives of Franciscan Friars, Poor Clares, Franciscan nuns, and Secular Franciscans I have met over the past 25 years.  I look forward to the next 25.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ordination of Auxiliary Bishop Robert Deeley for the Archdiocese of Boston

On Friday, January 4th, 2013, I had the wonderful experience of attending the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Robert Deeley, who becomes an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Boston.  The following are some random reflections, typed out in the late night, with my head threatening to droop down onto my keyboard.

I received an invitation to the ordination some time ago.  Since I work in downtown Boston, I decided to take a half day, and attend the ceremony.  People in my office must have wondered what I was up to when I brought in my suit carrier, which contained both my alb and dalmatic.  I took the MBTA Silver Line to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  In the basement of the Cathedral, I vested with the rest of the clergy, and found my fellow deacons.  Because of most of the permanent deacons work and were unable to make it, there was only about a dozen of us there.  We were definitely outnumbered by the diocesan priests.

The participants began to gather for the entrance procession; ahead of us were members of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Order of Malta, then came the clergy.  As we processed down the main aisle, we walked through an honor guard of the Knights of Columbus, which was a new experience for me.  The Cathedral sanctuary was beautiful, with all it’s Christmas decorations still up.  The end of the procession had the Archbishop, Cardinal O’Malley OFM Cap, Bishop-elect Deeley, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Vigano, and Cardinal William Levada.  And with them were also about 40 Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots.  When one sees this many bishops gathered in one sanctuary, it makes real for me the term, “College of Bishops.”

The liturgy itself was very beautiful, very inspiring.  I know that there have been some stories on the blogosphere about Catholics finding the old Tridentine liturgy more meaningful, more “spiritual.”  I still hold that our current liturgy can be that and more, if we take the time to plan carefully, and encourage all who attend to actively participate.  The Lord was definitely among us that afternoon.

I pray the Father will be with our new Auxiliary Bishop; that through the Son, he will be strengthened for his work; and through the Spirit, he will receive wisdom.  May God be with him as he helps shepherd the Catholic community of Boston.