Sunday, December 28, 2014

Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph - 2014

Genesis 15: 1-6; 21: 1-3
Hebrews 11: 8, 11-12, 17-19
Luke 2:22-40

Today we celebrate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, which comes on the Sunday after Christmas.  This year, this Feast and Christmas are only a few days apart.  How many of us are still recovering from the Christmas celebrations; the preparations, the clean up; the stresses and the joys of that day. And how many of us are just hoping for a quiet weekend.  Can we suppose that Mary and Joseph may have felt the same way, after what had happened on the evening of the birth of their son?  First there was the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, then finding shelter in a manger, a barn!  Then that appearance of a group of scruffy shepherds, who have this story of angels flying in the night sky, proclaiming that this child, their child, is the long for Messiah.  I am sure that what Mary and Joseph longed for was some normalcy, to just perform the rituals required by Law of Moses and then get back to Nazareth and their lives as quickly as possible. 

So they go up to Jerusalem, to the Temple to make the required sacrifices.  Now keep in mind that they were not the only ones going to the Temple that day.  There would have been hundreds, if not thousands of worshipers going to the there.  If you have ever seen a picture of the crowds assembled in front of St. Peter’s in Rome, you would have some idea of the crowds going in and out of the Temple courtyards.  And yet, and yet; out of that massive crowd of humanity, Simeon, is able to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  How?  He was guided by the Holy Spirit, for God was fulfilling His promise, that Simeon would not see death, before seeing the Messiah.  Simeon had such faith in that promise, that for so many years he kept going to the Temple.  And despite so many disappointing encounters, he still had faith.   Then comes the day his path crosses with Mary, Joseph and their infant son.  He praises God that his faith has been rewarded, he has seen the Messiah.  Then he tells Mary and Joseph what the destiny of their child would be, and what it would cost them.  Now, after hearing this, who could blame Mary and Joseph, if they were to flee south to Egypt; or north to Syria, or east to Babylon?  This was not what they signed up for.  But they do not flee, they returned to Nazareth, Despite their fears of what the future may hold, they raised the child  Jesus up into a strong young man, who was “filled with wisdom” and with the favor of God.  They were able to do so because they had faith, faith that whatever trials and tribulations may come their way, God would not abandon them, that God would be there for them.  It is that same faith that their ancestor Abraham had when he first listened to God, to a Presence he did not know, yet he believed, and left the safety of the Ur, for an unknown land.  He had faith that, despite his old age, he believed that God would keep His promise of making from him a mighty nation.

And it is faith in God’s promise that through His Son, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, “God is with us.,” we believe that we will never be alone, that indeed, God will be with us always, He will be with us in times of trial, and times of challenge:.  He will be with us in the joyful times, and the sad times.  It is faith in Him, that draws us here today, as a community of believers, that through Word and Sacrament, that faith will be continually renewed and strengthened.  It is by faith in God’s love, which causes us to reach out to others, to share that love.  And it is by faith that we look forward to the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus Christ will come again, and a new heaven and a new earth will be born.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Boston Boy Coming Home to New England

I just read a tweet from Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary Bishop of Indianapolis, IN, announcing that Pope Francis has named him as the new Bishop of Burlington, VT.

Bishop Coyne was originally ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston.  Besides serving in the parishes, he was a  press liaison for the Archdiocese.   He is one of the few bishops in the US who maintains an active blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent - 2014; A Reflection

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64: 2-7
1 Corinthians 1: 3-9
Mark 13: 33-37

We are entering the Advent season, in preparation for the celebration of Christmas.  Of course, the department stores, electronics stores, the online shopping sites, have declared that now is the Christmas season.  “So buy now, now, NOW; while prices are low, low, LOW!”  And even those who do understand the meaning of this Advent season, they focus more on the preparation to remember the first coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as a human child.  We tend to forget that Advent is a time to also reflect on the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of time.  Many of us, I think, have the attitude that the Second Coming will not happen in our lifetimes.  This is fueled by scientific speculation that the Universe has billions of years left in it’s life, that Earth itself, has millions, if not billions years of life left in it. So we become complacent, we are like the college student who slacks off most of the academic year, figuring he can cram in his studies and be ready for his final examination.

Then today’s Gospel can be an alarm for us. For Jesus is grabbing us by the shoulders; shaking us and saying: “Watch!”  He is telling us, in no uncertain terms, that we do not know the day or the hour of his coming again, his coming in glory and power.  So we need to live every day, every hour, and every second, in expectation of Christ’s Second Coming!  And our hearts and souls must to ready, every day, every hour, and every second, to greet Him when He comes.  We must strive daily, to read, reflect on, and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We must live in expectation of encountering Christ daily, through God’s Creation, through His Word, in each other, and especially through the Eucharist.  We must work to make our hearts open to the Presence of our Living God..

This requires work, this requires preparation; it will mean a lifetime of work.  God is with us, ready to form us in a beautiful creation; as long as we do not harden our hearts against Him.  This is what the season Advent is to help us understand, to help us begin anew the work of conversion, to prepare and watch for the coming of the Lord.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Massachusetts Boy Makes Good - Again!

National Catholic Reporter's website has reported on the election results for various positions within the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The NCCB is meeting in Baltimore MD. 

Among those elected was a local fella, Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary Bishop of Indianapolis.  He has been elected to head the Communications  committee.  He is one of the few bishops who maintains a blog, and regularly uses other social media platforms.

Prior to being named a bishop, Bishop Coyne was a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston.  He became Cardinal Bernard Law's press spokesman, in the midst of the clergy child abuse scandal in Boston.  He handled that assignment well.  I was impressed that he was willing to be available to the media.  Especially being interviewed by Emily Rooney, on Boston's public tv news program.

Part of the New Evangelization is to use all of the new media to reach out to young adults, and youth.  I think that with his experinces, Bishop Coyne should be very effective in this  new position.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Deacons and the New Evangelization

On November 8th, I attended the annual regional gathering of Permanent Deacons, held by the National Association of Diaconate Directors (NADD).  This year's hosts were the deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston.  Our theme was the deacon's role in implementing the program of the New Evangelization, in our local parishes, and in our wider society. 

Just a couple of thoughts, while I am between Masses this Sunday.  Every practicing Catholic is called to be an evangelizer.  Called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, by word and action.  Called to invite those who have fallen away from the Church, by loving them.

Deacons are well positioned for this, because we live our vocation to serve, to proclaim the Good News, not just in Church; but also in our homes, offices, the marketplace, and on the streets.  A nun, Mother Olga, said that when we wake up for the day, we are deacons, open to serving others, at every moment.  Open to speaking the Good News, by word and action, to everyone we come in contact with.  And thus, we can become examples to others on what it truly means to be Evangelizers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2014

Exodus 22: 20-26
1 Thessalonians 1: 5c-10
Matthew 22: 34-40

In today’s Gospel, we have one of those rare encounters with the Pharisees, where they were not trying to trap Jesus.  We see a scholar of the Jewish Law asking Jesus which is the greatest commandment in the Law.  This is a traditional rabbinic practice, to ask a question about the Torah, and then debate over the answer.  If you go into a school that trains Jewish rabbis, you may see a room of students, one on one, debating about the meaning of some passage of Scripture.  Sometimes, the debate is quite vigorous.  Now keep in mind, the rabbis of Jesus’ time counted 613 commandments in the Law.  Out of all those commandments, Jesus picks one as the greatest, and also describes the second greatest commandment.

“You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  How many of us squirm just a little when we hear Jesus say to us what it means to be in a relationship with the Lord Our God, the depth of the commitment that is being demanded of us:  all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds.  It is not enough just to come here to church every week, to take a few minutes every day to say a prayer, or read some Scripture.  As good and important those actions are.  No, we are to strive to be present to God every second of every day of our lives.  We are called to live lives that give praise to the goodness of God, that offer thanks for God’s gifts to us. We are called to be in an intimate, personal relationship with the Father. 

Now, we all have to acknowledge that for many of us, this may not be easy.  We know from our own personal relationships with others, that we can fall short of the mark, that at times we will stumble, make mistakes, and not be fully present to the other.  However, the Father offers us the grace to overcome our faults and weaknesses.  Especially here, right now, He seeks to inspire us through His Word, and to strengthen us through the Eucharist.  We need only to open our hearts, our souls totally to the transformative power of the Father’s love.  We can then, in turn, be able to return that love.

And this is where the second greatest commandment that Jesus declared comes into play.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Now, let me repeat that, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  In order to love others, we need to first be able to love ourselves..  In other words, we need to be able to accept ourselves, with all our strengths, our gifts, our talents, and our weaknesses, our faults, and our failings.  And for some of us, maybe all of us, that may not be such an easy thing.  But if we accept the fact that God loves us, no matter how good or how bad we are, if we have experienced that wonderful love, then we can learn to love ourselves.  And if the God, who loves us, also created and loves all the people around us; how can we not care for them also.  And I am not just talking about loving our family members, our friends, and acquaintances; we are called to love everyone, the strangers, people that do not fit in our communities, the social outcasts, the “aliens” in our midst.  We are called to love those who are not nice to us, to those who have done us harm.  If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot make distinctions; everyone is a brother and sister, everyone deserves our care and concern. 

“You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus describes these as the greatest of the commandments; that must be the foundation of all those other rules, laws, commandments, and as we have seen, the most challenging.  How well we strive to live these commandments to love can be an example to the rest of society around us.  That from us, the Good News of Lord will sound forth, and can, and will be a beacon of light to the world.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reading the Good News, Living the Good News

"Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel". (Art. 4, OFS Rule)

In a recent talk, Pope Francis encourage everyone to carry a small book of the Gospels with them.  And more than that, to reflect daily on a passage from the Gospels. It is through the Gospels, that we can encounter Christ, be guided by him, be inspired by him.

I have my copy; do you have yours?

(PS: This is my first selfie!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Cry Havoc!"

On September 11, 2014, President Barack Obama stood before the nation, and declared that the war on terror has entered a new phase, with a more dangerous adversary.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is proving to be the most vicious, and powerful terrorists group in the Middle East.  They have been able to defeat a regular army, and seize huge swaths of Iraqi territory; determined to restore the Islamic empire of ancient times; and impose their version of Islam on everyone, by the point of the sword or by the barrel of a gun.  They have slaughtered prisoners of war, non-Moslem Iraqi citizens, brutally executed two Americans and a British citizen. 

The President is now finalizing a strategy to fight ISIL, hoping to use American airpower, and Middle Eastern soldiers; and not have to send US troops back on Iraqi soil.  Again, we are hearing a US President, calling the nation to action, but promising that our involvement will be limited and quick.  I cannot help but recall these lines from William Shakespeare, in his play, Julius Caesar; “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.”  A president may wish to control the situation, but once the “dogs of war,” are set free, often circumstances beyond a leaders’ control takes over. 

I have no idea what is the right course of action.  The pacifist in me mourns the amount of blood that will be spilled; both from foe and innocent alike.  The realist in me, knows that some action, some military action is needed to curtail the advance of this group, and protect the innocent who are in ISIL’s way.  I fear we are entering a new dark and violent period, where brave men and women must once again go into harm’s way.

All that many of us can do, is pray; pray for the suffering innocents, pray for those who are going into combat, and pray that the Holy Spirit break through hard hearts, shine a new light on our violent world, and guide us to peace.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 - Remembering

Today is a day to remember the terrible events that happened thirteen years ago.  St. Anthony Shrine in downtown Boston, has created a banner listing the names of the all the victims.  The Franciscan Friars have it hung in front of the Shrine, making    It a wall of rememberance.  I have watched people stop, read the names; some stop at a particular name, and offer a prayer.  I have gone up and touched the wall, and feel different; feel the presence of the Spirit, as I offer my prayer for the victims and their families.

"Enternal rest unto them all, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Franciscans in the Marketplace

What made St. Francis of Assisi, and the early Franciscan friars different from the other religious orders of their day, was that unlike the monks who remained in their monasteries, Francis, and his friars were walking the streets and marketplaces.

Recently, the Catholic News Service website posted a story about two Conventual Franciscan friars (Black robes), who are carrying on the tradition.  During the summer days in Rome, along the shore of the River Tiber, during the annual Summer Festival, they set up an information stall, amongst the other stalls, restaurants, and shops.  There, they pass out information about the Franciscans missions and services, to the residents, and tourists who come for the festival.  Amidst all hustle and bustle of the festival, they bring a touch of Franciscan joy to all they come in contact with.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sad News for Pope Francis

The BBC World News has been reporting that a nephew of Pope Francis, was involved in a car accident in Argentina.  Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, son of the Pope's late brother, was critically injured in the accident.  Tragically, his wife and his two young sons, who were passengers in the car, died in the crash.  Pope Francis is asking for prayers for his nephew; and for the souls of his great nephews and their mother.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Feast of St. Clare of Assisi - 2014

“Look upon Him Who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him.  Your spouse, though more beautiful than the children of men (Ps 44:3), became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout His whole body, and then died amid the sufferings of the Cross.  O most noble Queen, gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.”   (St. Clare of Assisi, The Second Letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague)

Sometime ago I attended a workshop, presented by Sherry A. Weddell, author of the book “Forming Intentional Disciples, The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus.”  In her presentation, she shared the story of interviewing a Catholic woman, who was very active in her parish, and was asked to describe her lived relationship with God.  The woman responded by saying that she did not have a relationship with God.  This shocking response from someone who was doing the works of charity, who was an important contributor to the life of her parish, shocked Ms. Weddell.  And it shocked me when I heard it, and saddens me.  It makes me wonder many others are in a similar situation with their faith life.

When people look at Franciscans, they see friars and sisters actively serving the poor, the outcasts; comforting the sorrowful, the grieving.  And sometimes, this active face of Franciscanism is all people see.  However, it is when the Feast day for St. Clare of Assisi comes around, that we are made aware of another aspect of the Franciscan way of life.  And that is, like Francis and Clare, we are called to enter into an intimate relationship with the God who loves us.  Through a life of prayer, and contemplation, we become more aware of the Presence of the Lord, within us, within all those we meet, within all of God’s Creation. 

Clare and her Poor Ladies served, and continues to serve as a reminder to the rest of the Franciscan Family, that without a personal relationship with our Triune God, our good works will eventually dry up, unless we remain connected to the source of all Love, through Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nineteeneth Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2014. A Reflection on the Gospel Reading

1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a
Romans 9: 1-5
Matthew 14: 22-33

“Meanwhile, the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.  During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.” (Matt 14)

A long time ago, when I was a very, very young child; my father and uncle took one of my brothers, and I, ocean fishing.  Our craft was a mid-size wooden boat with an outboard engine, which to us looked like a small yacht.  We sailed into the ocean off of Lynn, MA, and fished most of the morning.  Suddenly, a squall came upon us, with heavy rains and wind.  The sea, that had been very calm, now was full of huge waves.  The adults immediately started the engine and steered the boat towards land, my brother and I holding onto a wooden seat near the stern.  Suddenly, the boat hit a wave that launched it into the air, and it landed onto the ocean hard.  It landed so hard, that the stern bench we were sitting on broke, and we wound up in bottom of the boat.  It was the most terrifying experience I had ever had. 

We eventually made it safely to Nahant harbor, and a dock.  My father and uncle had to call my mother and aunt to come fetch us, and to bring the boat trailer.  By the time they got there, the sun was out; the skies were blue, and the ocean serene.

Because of that experience, I can better appreciate the fear that Christ’s disciples must have experienced as they tried to sail their boat through the stormy Sea of Galilee.  I wish I had the courage that St. Peter showed initially, getting out of that boat and attempting to walk on the water towards Jesus.  Though, as we read further in that Gospel account, that courage quickly disappeared when Peter was faced with the wind and the waves. 

However, before we start smirking at Peter’s predicament, let us recall our moments when we may have had “little faith.”  I feel that almost everyday, Jesus Christ is calling all of us to do something wonderful, something spectacular, something that makes us go beyond what we think we are capable of doing, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Yet, we let the obstacles, the storms that life may throw in our way; cause us to doubt our calling.  However, Jesus is there with us, saying to us:  “O you of little faith, why do you doubt?”  And he will help us through the storms.  He will help us overcome the obstacles.  By his grace, we will receive what we need, not only to live the Gospel, but proclaim it throughout the entire world; to all peoples, and all places.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Franciscan Artist

Chapter 5. The manner of working

The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a
spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of
the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and
devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate.  As
wages for their labour they may accept anything necessary for their
temporal needs, for themselves or their brethren, except money in any
form.  And they should accept it humbly as is expected of those who
serve God and strive after the highest poverty. (Rule of 1223, OFM)

Quite a few years ago, I was discerning if I had a vocation, a calling to become a Franciscan Friar.  I joined the formation program of the Friars of Holy Name Province, OFM.  One of my fellow postulants was David Haack; a very nice fellow, and a very talented artist.  Half way through our novitiate year, I felt that the Holy Spirit was calling me elsewhere, and I left the formation program.  David went on to become a professed Brother in the Order.

Up until recently he was involved in art education at St. Bonaventure University.  He has since retired, but as reported in Holy Name Province's e-newsletter, he found retirement somewhat boring.  So he founded Haack Studiolo, a place where he can create and sell works of art; often with a Franciscan theme.  May his efforts be successful and fulfilling!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Interview With The CEO Of Canada's Salt & Light Network

The Jesuit magazine, America, has a very interesting interview posted on their website, with Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who among other responsibilities is the CEO of the Canadian Catholic television network, Salt & Light..  The network has become something of a media power house, with some of it's programming appearing not only in Canada, but in other countries as well.

Several points I took away firm the interview was that for the New Evangelization to succeed, Catholic communications has to play a role in it.  Dioceses need to invest more in their media outlets, not reduce.  That the Church needs to be smarter in using social media, making it way to connect people with substantive content; which will engage their audience both in the head and the heart.  It is a very thought provoking interview.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Syrian Civil War Strikes Franciscan Friary

Vatican Radio News has reported that a Franciscan monastery in a Syrian village near the Turkish border was struck by a missile.  The building, which belongs to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, was severely damaged.  Fortunately, the friar occupying the building was only slightly injured.  The report goes on to mention other experiences of the Franciscan friars in the Syrian war zone. 

Sadly, the war tragedies experienced by Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Syria and Iraq, appear to be under reported by the major news agencies.  These stories have been crowded out by the series of fresh tragedies that have been occurring in our sad, wounded world.  We, who call ourselves Franciscans, must not forget our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ; keep them in our prayers, and come to their aid. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Such Faith In Churches"

"And the Lord gave me such faith in churches that I would simply pray and speak in this way: 'We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Your churches throughout the world, and we bless You, for through Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.'"  (The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi)

My wife and I have recently moved to Beverly, MA, into a very nice apartment complex.  I have recently been able to start using the MBTA commuter train to get into Boston for my job.  The train goes through the center of Beverly, and from my seat, I can see the steeple of St. Mary's, Star of the Sea.  When I catch sight of the steeple, I recite the above prayer that came to us from St. Francis of Assisi. 

Churches were important for Francis; for him, I think, they were a sacred space, where one could encounter God.  It was the place where the members of the Body of Christ, the community of believers gathered.  IT was were the Eucharistic Presence was reserved.  And it broke Francis' heart to see a church in disrepair, he would immediately set to work fixing it.  He was known to sweep out the interior of churches which had become dingy from neglect.  And, of course, he would spend many hours in a church, in deep prayer.

A church is more than just a building, it is a place were Christians gather, to encounter Christ in Word and Sacrament.  To take strength and inspiration from being part of a visible of community of believers.  It is where we experience all the moments of life; the baptism of an infant, the joining of a man and woman in marriage, and the remembering of a deceased person's life.

May every church we see house a community of the faithful; who are alive in the Spirit, and ready to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

First Communion at St. John's - 2014

Today I assisted at a Mass during which 33 young children recieved their First Communion.  The church was packed with families, all dressed up and in a celebratory mood.  The children all looked adorable; the girls in their white dresses, the boys in their dark suits, though one or two were in white suits.

The liturgy went well and was very moving.  The Gospel reading I proclaimed, was from Luke, the Emmaus story, where the disciples recognized the Risen Jesus, only when he blessed and broke the bread.  It is with eyes of faith that we recognize Jesus in the Bread and Wine; the Body and Blood we receive.  At the time of Communion, we need to be fully present to the moment, truly aware of whom we are receiving.  And when I distribute Communion, I see in most of the people who come forward, that awareness that something wonderful is about to happen!  And I smile!

I pray that those young children will grow in their awareness of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, His Presence within their hearts, and around them.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First Easter for the Beverly Catholic Collaborative

The Beverly Catholic Collaborative has celebrated it's first Sacred Tridiuum!  Each member parish hosted a service; St. John the Evangelist hosted the Holy Thursday's Lord's Supper; St. Margaret's hosted Good Friday services; and St. Mary, Star of the Sea, hosted the Easter Vigil.  All the services went very well and were very moving!  Especially the Easter Vigil, where we witnessed five individuals be baptized into the faith.

For Easter Sunday, the three parishes distributed little plastic Easter eggs to the little children.  It was fun watching the little tykes run up the main aisle of St. John's, to receive their egg!

Whether we are going through good times or difficult ones; the dawn of Easter provides one with joy and with hope!

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Second Sunday of Lent 2014 Homily

Genesis 12: 1-4a
Timothy 1: 8b-10
Matthew 17: 1-9

The term “multitasking,” has been a part of the recent popular lexicon in our society.  Many believe that with the improvement in computer technologies, we can do several tasks at the same time.  Now I know someone who does a lot of different things on their laptop; however, when I address that person with a question or statement, there is a 15 to 20 second delay before I get a response.  I think that many of us are finding that, yes, we can do a lot more, but our concentration is being fractured.  And we are not as present to others as we should be.  And this is not exactly a new phenomenon; human beings have always had to deal with having too many things on our mind.  We sometimes are always thinking about other things in the future, rather than being present in the moment.

Let us look at today’s Gospel.  We heard how Jesus took, Peter, James, and John, his first disciples, up a high mountain; and there revealed himself to them as the Messiah, the Son of God.  The imagery Matthew the evangelist uses in describing what happened probably does not do justice to awesomeness of the event.  And how does Peter respond to the glory he is witnessing?  He is thinking about camping!  “Lord, let me set up some tents for you and your friends, sit down, put up your feet, and stay awhile!”  Peter was not being present to the moment, was not being mindful of what was happening; he was not being fully aware of the glory that was before him.  It took the Father delivering a verbal head slap to make them pay attention:  “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”

We all can sometimes let the normal daily cares, anxieties, worries of life get in the way of our being aware of God’s presence in our world, within ourselves.  Even here, as we gather together for this most perfect moment of prayer; we can let ourselves get distracted, thinking about recent tweets, planning dinners, deciding which sports we are going to watch, instead of focusing on what is happening here, right now  Because at this altar will occur an event just as important as what happened on that mountain.  Soon, ordinary bread and wine will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ!  How awesome is that? And soon we will receive Him in Holy Communion!  Are we aware of that?  Are we allowing ourselves to experience the power of what is happening here and now?

Buddhists describe us humans as having what they call “monkey minds,” skittering from one thought to another; never being still, never being present to the moment.  It takes discipline, it takes practice to quiet our hearts and minds, and let God speak to us, to experience His Presence.  On our own, it is difficult to succeed in this, which is why the Father gives us the grace through Christ Jesus; so that we will be open to receive His love and peace.  Like Abram, who was open to the Lord’s word, and was willing to set out on a journey into unknown lands; let us be receptive the God’s love and guidance, and set off again on our own journeys to the Father’s house, to that promised land which is the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Controversy Over World Trade Center Cross - A Franciscan Connection

On NBC’s Today’s show website,, was a story concerning a group called American Atheists, and their attempts to prevent the “World Trade Center cross” from being displayed in the “9/11” museum.  The WTC cross is a section of crossbeams, shaped like the Christian cross, which was discovered in the rubble of World Trade Center.  Many of the workers on the site, first responders, and visitors to site said they received comfort from seeing the WTC cross on the site.  The American Atheists filed suit, claiming that although the “9/11” museum is a private organization; is being located on land being leased from the government.  The group believes displaying the cross will violate the constitutional separation of Church and State.  A federal judge has ruled against their suit, but the group is appealing.

There is a Franciscan connection to this story.  Father Brian Jordan, OFM, a Franciscan Friar of Holy Name Province, was one of the many members of the clergy helping those working on the WTC site.  It was Father Jordan who blessed the WTC cross before it was moved to the 9/11 museum.  There is a story of that event on the Holy Name Province website.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Third Sunday Of Ordinary Time Reflection 2014

Isaiah 8: 23-9:3
First Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew: 4-12-23

In last Sunday’s Gospel, we hear John the Baptist declaring to his follower’s that Jesus is the promised Messiah; not only that, Jesus is the Son of God, who has come to free from the power of sin.  In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus now beginning his mission; but one would expect that he would go straight to Jerusalem!  There he would find men who knew the Hebrew Scriptures backwards and forwards.  One would think Jesus would be seeking the most powerful and influential men of his time.  But no, he is traveling along the roads of Galilee, walking the streets of Capernaum; it is to the provincials, the local yokels that he is proclaiming the Good News that the kingdom of heaven is at hand!  It is to the poor and down trodden, the farmers and craftsmen, to the ordinary people who need to hear this Good News; that Jesus goes to. 

So in Matthew’s Gospel we see Jesus walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee; he comes across Simon Peter and Andrew.  And out of the blue, he asks them to come and follow him; he had special work for them.  Now a normal person would have looked at Jesus and replied: “Yeah, right!” and would have gone on their work.  However, Peter and Andrew dropped their nets and followed Jesus. 

The term “dropping their nets,” I heard used yesterday at a talk I attended at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center down in Braintree.  The presenter was Sherry Weddell, who with a Dominican friar lead workshops that helped people discern their charisms.  An outgrowth of that work was a book entitled “Forming Intentional Disciples.”  She defines an intentional disciple as someone who makes a conscious decision to follow Jesus; in other words, he or she “drops their nets,” Now, from the moment we were baptized, we became a part of the Body of Christ, we became disciples, but the majority of us, I am sure, were way too young to make a intentional commitment to the faith. 

Now, however, we are being called, we are being called every day, every moment to follow Jesus, to enter into an intimate relationship with our God.  We are called daily to live the commandments Jesus gave us: “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind,” and you shall love your neighbor as yourself;” with all the challenges, and the joys that we will experience. 

There is a community out there, a state out there, a nation out there, who needs to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.  There are those who need to see people, by word and deeds striving to live the Good News.  So we need to ask ourselves, if Jesus was to tap us on the shoulder, will we drop our nets?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Second Sunday Of Ordinary Time Homily - 2014

Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6
First Corinthians 1: 1-3
John 1: 29-34

In the 1990’s, Tom Cruise starred in a film, entitled “Jerry Maguire,”  in it he played a sports agent, who leaves a super sports management agency, because he feels he can do better on his own.  He is trying to retain his clientele, especially this promising football player, portrayed by the actor Cuba Gooding Jr.  Jerry Maguire is trying desperately to convince the football player to stay with him, the player remains unconvinced.  Finally, he tells Maguire, “Show me the money!” which becomes a catch phrase for the ‘90’s.  “Show me the money,” in other words, “Show me that you are the real deal, that you can deliver on your promises.”  Now, imagine if you are Jewish person during the time of Isaiah, and you just heard the words that are in the first reading.  Actually, these are the Lord’s words that Isaiah is repeating.  Keep in mind that this reading takes place during a time of trial for the people of Israel, the kingdom is being shattered, the people dragged into exile.  And God is saying that Israel will become a light to the nations!  Some of the people will take these words to heart and have hope!  Others, I am sure will say, “Show me the money!”  “Show that this promise will ever be fulfilled.” 

Fast forward to the time of John the Baptist.  He is going up and down the Jordan River, proclaiming that the Messiah is coming!  He calls people to get ready, repent from your sins, be baptized and cleansed from your sins.  And he drawing great crowds, but there are those who listen to him, especially the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem; who come up to him and say “Show me the money!”  Show us this Messiah!  John points to Jesus and declares “Behold the Lamb of God!” and he gives testimony of his own experience, of seeing the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, and knowing in his heart of hearts that Jesus is the Son of God.

Fast forward again to our present times, we see in this country the Christian community in decline; people no longer willing to make a commitment to the Church, no longer willing to believe.  We cry out to them, “Behold, Jesus Christ!  The Way, The Truth, and The Life!” do people respond to us by saying: “Show us the money!”  Show us, testify to us, by your words and deeds that you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!  How do we respond?  Do we insulate ourselves here in this Church?  Become a faithful remnant?  I would say no!  From the moment we were baptized and confirmed, we received a precious treasure, a treasure that is renewed and increased each time we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord!  But it is not a treasure to be hoarded, we are to go forth into our homes, our offices and workshops; the marketplaces and street corners; and share that treasure with everyone we come in contact with.  We are called to give ourselves in service to others, that they may know God’s love, to be a voice for the poor and oppressed.  That each person we greet, will experience the peace and love of Christ.  Let us “show the money,” let us show them the power, the reality of that the love that can only come through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It Is What It Is!

When the picture of Cardinal Sean O'Malley OFM Cap, being anointed with water by the Rev. Anne Robertson hit the Web; the Catholic blogosphere went ballistic!  Conservatives decried the fact that a Cardinal of the Church was accepting a blessing from a Protestant minister; a woman minister to boot!  Liberals were wondering if this was a new openness to ordained women!  The Boston Globe did a write up on the encounter, and a columnist for National Catholic Reporter online commented on the conservative blowback.

I feel that there is a tendacy these days to read too much into gestures.  We see that recently with peoples' reaction to whatever Pope Francis does; seeing it through their own ideological lenses.  Sometimes a courteous action is just that, a courteous action from one Christian to another Christian.  Nothing more, but definitely, nothing less.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Commemorating A New England Ecumenical Event

On January 19th, 1964, Cardinal Richard Cushing, then Catholic Archbishop of Boston, went to Sudbury United Methodist Church in Sudbury, MA.  He was to speak to a gathering of Christians of all denominations.  Even just a few years before 1964, such an event would have been unheard of, however, because of the work that the Second Vatican Council was doing on ecumenism; and the type of person Cardinal Cushing was, this milestone in ecumenical relations took place. 

50 years later, almost to the day, Cushing's successor, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM CAP, returned to Sudbury Methodist, to celebrate the memory of that event, and to look forward to the future.  The Archdiocesan paper, The Pilot, announced the event, and gave some historical background.  Among those attending the ceremony was a friend of mine, the Rev. Anne Robertson, who is a United Methodist minister, and is currently the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society.  I am privileged to be a member of the Society's Board of Trustees. The service was a combination of prayer, and song.  Since January 12th was the Baptism of the Lord, there was going to be a renewal of baptismal vows.  Somebody from the Pilot, George Martell, took pictures of the event and also got audio of Cardinal Sean's talk. 

Part of the renewal of baptismal vows included being anointed with water by either a Catholic or Protestant clergy person.  Anne and a Catholic priest were about to go to an overflow room, where they were watching the ceremony on live stream TV.  Before they went off, the priest asked Cardinal Sean to anoint them with water, then Cardinal Sean turned to Anne, and asked her to do the same for him.  Anne shares her reaction and her feelings about this on her own blog.

It speaks again of the Franciscan humility of Cardinal Sean, and his ability to seize the moment, and turn it into a pastoral, a loving, a Christian encounter; much like what Cardinal Cushing did fifty years earlier.

My late father was born into a Methodist family, he would later convert to Catholicism; but I still have Episcopalian cousins.   Ecumenism is very important to me, and I pray that we find a way forward to that day when we all will be truly one in Christ.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Epiphany Of The Lord. 2014

Today we remember the three wise men who came from a foreign land to acknowledge the Child Jesus as King.  They came with gifts for the Child.  What gifts to we have to offer in service of our Savior?

May the Holy Spirit help discern those gifts; and give us the grace to share them with all our brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Digital Bible

The Word of God has been proclaimed through many different media.  It was originally passed on orally from parents to children.  Then it was hand written on scrolls and bound vellum.  The invention of the printing press was a definite game changer.  Now, we are in the digital age, where Bibles can now be read on computers, tablets, Ipads, smartphones and Iphones.  America Magazine has posted an article on the digital Bible on their website