Sunday, May 27, 2018

All Things Are Possible for God

All Things Are Possible for God

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

"You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:21

Lord help us to implement what Peter Maurin calls the “shock maxims of the Gospel.” 
Love your enemy.
Go the extra mile.
Turn the other cheek.
Lend, expecting nothing back.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
Give to those who ask of you and if someone takes what is yours, do not demand it back. 
Remember the lilies of the field.
Don’t build bigger barns to hold all your worldly goods.
Don’t judge that you may not be judged. You must lose your life in order to gain it.
“Come, you blessed of my Father, to the Kingdom prepared for you from all eternity, for when I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, when I was a stranger, you took me in.”
And then, of course, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

The Gospel calls us to some very hard tasks.  Today we hear about one of them – voluntary poverty. 

The encouraging news is that while our possessions might get in the way of our encounter with Jesus, God can overcome any obstacles that we put in the way.

Louise Zwick, co-founder of the Houston Catholic Worker, recognizes the challenges.

It often seems challenging or almost impossible to live out the Sermon on the Mount. Implementing it even in small ways often involves creative thinking outside of the usual patterns of thought as well as discernment about what is happening in our world.[1]

But how to have conversations about what really matters (the Gospel), when people’s concerns and all the professions are centered on having and possessing (as Peter said, on greed instead of creed), nations compete with each other on how to stockpile lethal weapons and wage war, whether through traditional methods or cyberwar, without regard for casualties?

The emphasis on having, financial security, and the will to power – in glaring contrast with the Gospel – almost drowns out the voices for peace, for the common good, and a just economy.  But not quite.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is one way those voices will not be drowned out.  Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King led the original campaign, many of the conditions still exist in our society.

The PPC is bringing together people from across the country who are organizing to build a broad and deep national moral movement – led by the poor, impacted, clergy and moral agents.  The movement reflects the great moral teachings to unite our country from the bottom up. 

Beginning in May, the campaign launched 40 days of moral action from May 13th until June 21, in 39 states and Washington, DC.

The next event (the third week in this campaign) will take place Tuesday, May 29, beginning with a 2 pm rally at the U.S. Capitol.  The focus of this non-partisan event is on the War Economy and Gun Violence.  

Themes of the campaign include:
Week 2 (May 20-26): Linking Systemic Racism and Poverty
Week 3 (May 27-Jun 2): The War Economy
Week 4 (Jun 3-9): The Right to Health and a Healthy Planet
Week 5 (Jun 10-16): Everybody’s Got the Right to Live
Week 6 (Jun 17-22): A New and Unsettling Force
Week 7 (Jun 23): Global Day of Solidarity, Mass Rally in Washington DC
For more info about this effort and these themes, go to or contact DMV Poor People’s Campaign (

One, Two, Three – GO! By Wayne Miller

One, Two, Three – GO! By Wayne Miller

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

This is why you must now know and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:39

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.  Romans 8:16-17

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always. Matthew 28:19-20

Abba Father, thank you for coming into the very center of my being, the divine unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Triune God, living in me, moving through me, blessing me and all your children.  Thank you for the gift of your acceptance of me with all my failings and missteps and evildoing.  Thank you for the wisdom and perspective of all your faithful throughout the millennia.  Thank you for the opportunity to GO forth filled with your Spirit – day after day after day.

When I began reflecting on today’s Scriptures, I was disappointed and confused.  I expected text after text to be brimming with the power and joy and exhilaration of the Holy Spirit – tongues of fire – miraculous healing – triumphant loving communities.  But instead, we have three very personal reflections on who our Triune God is, in each of His Personas.

Moses: living his mission – his GO command from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob transmitted through a burning bush and a burning lifetime of repeated encounters with the face of Yahweh and the faces of a recalcitrant, beloved nation that longed for leisure and security in the midst of a mighty desert quest.  Moses exhorting his children with the only gospel he knew: “…the LORD is God … there is no other!”  Throughout all of history, this is our bedrock, the foundation upon which our lives must be built to joyfully live as His Children. 
God gave me Moses to teach me about God, the Father!

Paul: The fire-breathing Pharisee who wanted nothing more than to eradicate all heresy from his land – until Jesus and new brothers shared the Gift of the Holy Spirit.  Paul accepted his GO command to move his beloved Chosen People beyond the centuries of the distant God of Moses to experience the Joy and Freedom only possible through total immersion in the personal Love of God’s Holy Spirit. He knew the intimate power of living in the midst of the Love between God the Father and God the Son, and he had the courage and wisdom to accept a wider GO command when told that His Chosen People were more than the core Hebrew elect. 

God gave me Paul to teach me about God, the Holy Spirit!

Matthew: the only narrator in today’s trilogy who actually lived a visceral relationship with the man who was God Among Us: Jesus. Matthew accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him, gave up a lucrative (if despicable) life, observed and chronicled Jesus’ miracle-filled, joyful, urgent, tragic, and triumphant life; and yet, in his very last encounter with God on Earth, he “doubted”.  Even then, God the Son entrusted to them the simplest and greatest and most terrifying GO command: give all nations the experience and knowledge of the Perfect Triune God and KNOW that I AM ALWAYS WITH YOU! “I” who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, forever united, forever preciously unique and perfect for our every relationship need, and forever with us in every circumstance of our lives.
God gave me Matthew to teach me about God, the Son!

Liturgy: we are so utterly blessed with the activity of the Holy Spirit throughout the living Tradition of our Catholic Faith.  We are blessed with the wisdom of centuries of God’s acting through his community to deliver to us these three images of Himself.  And then, we get the unspeakable privilege of acknowledging His Presence in a tiny wafer, taking Him literally within ourselves, and GO-ing out into our world to be His messenger. How can such a tiny wafer contain the grandeur and power and love and joy of the God of the Universe? I don’t know and I don’t care.  I just know that I am never alone. 

God gave me our beloved, wise, holy Church to nurture and teach me about the Kingdom of Heaven, here and now!

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for surrounding me with the Love and the Touch and the Voice of our Beloved Trinity.  We each have our GO commands and the precious gifts given by the Triune God with which to accomplish them.

Let’s GO!

De Colores!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Let the Children Come to Me

Let the Children Come to Me

Beloved: Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing a song of praise.  Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a man like us; yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land. Then Elijah prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:13-18

When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them. Mark 10:14-16

“Fathers and mothers of families should bring up their Children virtuously, looking at them rather as God’s children.” St. Philip Neri

Never get between anyone and their prayers to God be that the suffering, the sick, the healthy, or the child.  In less than five verses of the first reading, the word “pray” or “prayer” is used eight times.

Children did not have as favored a place in ancient Palestine as they do in modern culture.  The child was not just representing themselves.  The child represents someone who has total reliance on others. They do not work.  They have no money.  They have no power in society.  When they approach Jesus, they symbolize people who are in total dependence upon and obedience to the gospel.

“Today, we celebrate St. Philip Neri who is honored for his deep spirituality, as well as his good humor/joyful personality. He attracted people from every level of society because he was pleasant to be around. That is a good “saintly” quality for us as well—be happy in the Lord.” (Most Reverend Paul J Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Let Your "Yes" Mean "Yes"

The Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM Lifetime Mission Award was presented by Fr. Joe to Fr. George Corrigan, OFM for his steadfast commitment to both international and local mission, his service in Kenya as an FMS missioner, his work at his parish in Downtown Tampa, FL, and his consistent support of FMS.  This was at the Franciscan Mission Service annual dinner in 2010.
Let Your "Yes" Mean "Yes"

But above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your "Yes" mean "Yes" and your "No" mean "No," that you may not incur condemnation. James 5:12

But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." Mark 10:6-9

Oh, promises, their kind of promises, can just destroy a life
Oh, promises, those kinds of promises, take all the joy from life
Oh, promises, promises, my kind of promises
Can lead to joy and hope and love
Yes, love!!

(Writers: Hal David, Burt Bacharach; Performed by Dione Warwick)

Promises. Promises.

We are reminded over and over that the Lord is kind and merciful.  In the covenant with humanity, whether in the Hebrew Bible or in the New Testament, these promises come across over and over again.  God keeps his promises to us.

Today’s readings focus on how we do – or do not – keep our promises with each other.  Mark’s Good News focuses and a very special promise – the vows made in matrimony.  Even though Moses allowed divorce, Jesus explains that this was only because of “the hardness of your hearts.”

Despite that compromise, God wants us to keep our promises.  To God.  To Ourselves.  To Each Other.  Let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No.”  God’s kind of promises can lead to joy and hope and love!

Too often, the expression “Talk is cheap” is on the spot.  Probably the “cheapest” talk is New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make it to February with those resolutions still in place?

Oftentimes, those resolutions are just with ourselves.  Even more important are what we promise to others.  We tend to think of two adult sacraments – marriage and We want people to do as we say, not as we do.  That is why actions must support our words.

Perhaps we can be inspired by the example of Franciscan Fr. Joe Nangle.  Fr. Joe is celebrating his 60th anniversary of ordination this year. He was ordained when I was barely out of the crib.

Now he serves as head of Latino ministry at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington.

Fr. Joe Nangle with Sr. Marie Dennis at the Pax Christi Dinner,
November 15, 2009, at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, VA.
Fr. Joe entered the Order of Friars Minor Aug. 11, 1951, at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J. He made his final profession of vows Aug. 16, 1955, at Christ the King Seminary in Allegany, N.Y., and was ordained to the priesthood April 25, 1958, at Mount St. Sepulchre Friary in Washington.

Fr. Joe served as chief of staff for the international office of the Department of Social Analysis and World Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (1977-80). He went on to serve in a variety of outreach and social justice ministries, including as a staff member for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (1982-90), and associate director of Sojourners magazine in Washington (1990-94).  Fr. Joe also served as executive director of the Franciscan Mission Service in Washington (1994-2005).

He began assisting with the Hispanic ministry on weekends at Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington in 1990. Since 2017, Fr. Joe also has served as the regional vocation director for the Holy Name Province.

Happy Anniversary, Fr. Joe.  “Yes” means “Yes!”  That kind of promise leads to joy and hope and love!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

“Give To Each Other In His Name” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Give To Each Other In His Name” by Beth DeCristofaro

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire…Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another. (Mark 9:41-43, 50)

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. (Collect from the Mass for the Day)

Imagine what Jesus’ tone might have been as he instructed the disciples. Frustrated? Angry? Exasperated? Deflated? After all, not ten verses before this reading, he had again told them of his impending passion (Mark 9:31) but they did not understand. Then they tried to close ranks around their unique status as his chosen followers, arguing who was greatest and interdicting someone, not of the 12 who had expelled a demon in Jesus’ name. They were still not grasping the immense import of Jesus’ mission and the reason for being. They were focused on insignificant definitions and worldly status. I imagine Jesus sighed deeply with sadness that his message was misread yet he also had confident hope that they would eventually get it as they became salted with the fire of the Spirit which would inflame their spiritual lives.

It’s hard to stay “salted.” We humans can deflect and deny so quickly, moving away from the spicy challenge of life based on Jesus. We experience a setback and maneuver to point blame rather than discern what meaning our life’s direction has taken. A change is proposed in liturgy or parish leadership, and we leave in a huff rather than be open to new avenues for the Holy Spirit to enfold us. And, truth be told, sometimes, I still find myself at the back of the crowd whispering “who will sit on his right side?”  The “salty” intrusion of the Spirit feels too much to handle but if we allow it can break our hearts wide to let in God’s overabundant love.

Talk with and more importantly listen to someone else who has a radically different perspective than you do but who you must admit is an excellent (perhaps even admirable) person. Accept the presence of Jesus within her/him and receiver her/his gifts she/he gives to you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

“If the Lord Wills It” by Colleen O’Sullivan

“If the Lord Wills It” by Colleen O’Sullivan

Beloved: Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit"– you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead, you should say, "If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When I first began to consider retiring, I didn’t have any definite plan for what I was going to do. I pictured myself never setting the alarm clock again. I imagined I would have the long-awaited opportunity to read all the books that had lured me into buying them, only to end up sitting on a bookshelf waiting “till I had the time.”  But God had a different plan for me. In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think that a year later I would be working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life or that I would find myself with less time to read for pleasure than ever before. Nor did I think I would hop out of bed at 6:00 am five days a week. But God’s plan has turned out better than anything I could have dreamed up. God gave me the gift of a wonderful infant great-nephew and the time to be his full-time caregiver for the first year of his life. I never knew you could have so much love in your heart for a child. It’s been truly awesome watching this tiny human being grow and develop. My niece thinks I’ve helped her out, but she has no idea what a wonderful gift to me this year has been. There’s nothing like starting out your day with the big grin my little great-nephew puts on his face when his mom brings him in through my front door each morning. Yes, God’s plan was much better than my few scattered ideas about what to do with my time.

The last year has been a happy surprise for me, but sometimes God’s plan leads us down paths we would rather not go. That is apparent when we see Jesus pray in the garden of Gethsemane. He struggled with what was looking like God’s plan for him, but he when he rose to his feet, Jesus had set aside his own desires and accepted his Father’s will, not an easy thing to do at all.

We can make all the plans we want without consulting God in prayer. We can ignore the voice in our hearts calling us to go a different way from what we envisioned. We can kick and fight in an attempt to have it our way, but ultimately God is running the show. God has a plan for each of us that fits into the overall plan God has for all of creation.

The apostle James doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take our heart’s desires seriously, because our deepest desires are often what God wants for us. He also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make plans. I think James is saying, don’t be arrogant. Don’t act like you’re the god of your own little universe. Consult with God in prayer before starting out on a new path, because we all want our lives to be in accord with God’s will. Trust that God’s plans are for our welfare as stated in the Book of the prophet Jeremiah.

Try looking back at the time when you finished school or pick any 5- or 10-year period of your life. What were your plans? Where did God actually lead you, if you ending up taking a path different from what you envisioned? 

It takes a great deal of trust in God to be open to God’s desires for us. If you have time, listen to Trust in You sung by Lauren Daigle and co-written by Daigle, Paul Mabury, and Michael Farren.

Monday, May 21, 2018

“Whoever Receives One Child” by Melanie Rigney (@melanierigney)

“Whoever Receives One Child” by Melanie Rigney

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you. (Psalm 55:23)

Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me." (Mark 9:36-37)

The Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name, I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of His cross (from the Catholic baptism rite).

By NancyHeise [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
I went to a baptism the other day (not the one pictured here) and was struck anew by the Lord’s amazing grace.

My friends and four other couples were there, babies in godparents’ arms, gathered around the baptismal font. Everyone was dressed up for Jesus, positively beaming. I think the babies felt it too; there wasn’t a single cry during the ceremony, not even when water was poured over their heads.

The deacon welcomed everyone, Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, and non-believer, and explained the significance of each part of the rite. He noted that while we are instructed to put away our childish ways, the Lord always desires us to come to him as children: trusting, open, and loving. While the deacon likely handles baptisms on a regular basis, his explanatory words, tone, and face showed how much he loves this part of his ministry. Indeed, a man I don’t know, standing by himself, turned to me three times and made comments along the lines of “This guy is great! He really means it.

In the end, the deacon thanked all relatives and friends for coming and said all of us, regardless of our faith or lack thereof, are always welcome at the parish. As I left, I noticed the man who had been standing next to me was several feet ahead, still alone. I hope he comes back.

Next time you attend a baptism, First Communion, wedding, or other sacramental events besides reconciliation or Mass, welcome the stranger. Receive the child.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Behold, Your Mother

Behold, Your Mother

The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

Usually, today would be Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time. However, last year, Pope Francis inserted the ancient devotion of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, into the Roman Calendar on the Monday following Pentecost Sunday.

St. Augustine says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church. St. Leo the Great says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.

The connection between Christmas, Easter, yesterday’s “birth” day of the Church (Pentecost) and Mary’s maternal care is evident. Mary became the mother of Jesus on Christmas morning. Acts 1:12-14 and Genesis 3:9-15,20, if read in the light of the “New Eve,” show that Mary became the ‘Mother of All the Living” at the foot of the Cross when Jesus commanded us to “Behold your mother.” She remained with the disciples praying in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit descended upon the believers.

Mary had been waiting in the Upper Room with the Apostles, her Son’s closest friends. As any good natural mother, she would have loved them because he loved them. She would have wanted the best for them and likely had high hopes for them because of their closeness to him. She would have loved them despite their failure to stand by Jesus when things turned terrible and he was arrested, tortured and crucified. They, on their part, would have loved and honored her because she was the mother of their best friend.[1]

One might ask, are there not enough memorials and days honoring Mary? We certainly had quite a few already before today’s memorial was put back into the calendar. Throughout the liturgical year, the Church honors our Blessed Mother with at least fifteen special events of her participation in the mystery of salvation.[2] These are:

The Immaculate Conception of The Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8) S
Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) F
The Nativity of The Lord (Christmas) December 25 S
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary And Joseph (December 31) F
Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1) S
The Presentation of the Lord (February 2) F
Saint Joseph, Spouse of The Blessed Virgin Mary (March 19) S
Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (May 21) S
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (May 31) F
Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (June 9) S
Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary (July 26) M
The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15) S
The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 22) M
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (September 8) F
Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15) M
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (November 21) M
Our “study” of Mary’s place in the life of Jesus and the life of the Church from the Immaculate Conception and Annunciation through Pentecost and the Assumption would not be complete by skipping over any of these. This comes full circle with the Mysteries of the Rosary.

What place does Mary have in the Church of Your Life?

Mary has come to me as a teacher and as a guide – the first among women and the first among the saints. While the Synoptic Gospels all contain a Nativity narrative of some kind, John skips the history lesson and gets right to the heart of the message. Mary is there at the first miracle Jesus performs – turning water into wine at the wedding reception in the village of Cana. Her words at that event are her first verbal lesson: His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3)

From there forward the “Marian-ology” that emerges from the rosary and the string of solemnities, memorials and feast days carve out Mary’s role pulling me along more with the power of her deeds than her sparse words now and (hopefully) also at the hour of my death.

What does your soul proclaim?

[2] Not to split hairs, but solemnities are the celebrations of greatest importance indicated with an “S” on the list above. Each Solemnity begins on the prior evening with first Vespers (evening prayer) and several of the solemnities have their own Vigil Mass. Feasts indicated with an “F” are of secondary importance in our liturgical calendar and are celebrated on a particular day. These feasts do not have a first vespers or Vigil Mass the prior evening. Next in line are memorials, which are classified as either obligatory or optional. Memorials (“M”) commemorate a saint or saints. Obligatory memorials must be observed whereas optional memorials do not have to be observed. If reading this sequence seems a bit confusing, perhaps that is why the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops publishes an annual Ordo which outlines the proper celebrations and their particulars throughout the liturgical year.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spirit Enabled by Jim and Diane Bayne

Spirit Enabled by Jim and Diane Bayne

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  (Acts 4:4)

Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.  (Ps 104:30)

...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such, there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.  (Gal 5:22-23)

Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify because you have been with me from the beginning.  (John 15:26-27)
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
– from The Sequence for Pentecost

The notes for Pentecost from the Irish Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) website provide better food for study than anything we could write:

Rather than try to describe what the Holy Spirit looks like, the Bible says great things about what the Spirit does, how it impacts on life.  Paul uses an image drawn from nature, speaking about the fruits of the Spirit. He is talking about the visible flowering of the Spirit in a person’s life. We may not be able to see the Holy Spirit, but we can see the Spirit’s impact on our outlook and behavior, just as we cannot see the wind but can see its effects on the world about us.

Wherever we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control, the Spirit is there at work, made visible in and through these qualities and virtues. The person who had those qualities most of all was Jesus because he was full of the Holy Spirit, full of the life of God.

That divine life and love were poured out at Pentecost, initially on the first disciples but through them on all who are open to receive this powerful and beautiful gift.  Paul expresses it simply in his letter to the Romans, ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’  It is that Spirit of God’s love we have received who bears the rich fruit in our lives that Paul speaks about in today’s Second Reading.

The Spirit is constantly at work in our lives, making us more like Jesus. The ordinary, day to day expressions of goodness and kindness, of faithfulness and self-control, of patience and gentleness, are all manifestations of the Spirit that has been given to us by God. We can recognize the Spirit’s presence in the ordinary happenings of everyday life. The spiritual is not something other-worldly; it is humanity at its best.

Take time each evening this week to reflect on how the Holy Spirit was made manifest in your life during the day.  What opportunities did you have to expression goodness and kindness, faithfulness and self-control, patience and gentleness?  If you missed some opportunities, make a personal pledge to do better tomorrow. 

You Follow Me

You Follow Me

After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me, because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty. But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar, even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation. This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear these chains.” Acts 28:18-20

Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.”  John 20:22

“Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains only a grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-26).

John’s Gospel skips over two critical events.  There is no Nativity narrative.  No Immaculate conception.  No Annunciation. No trip to Bethlehem in its opening chapters.  And no Pentecost or Ascension or Assumption story at the end. However, the message at the end if critical.  Maybe that is one reason why the Gospel writer sets it up the scene, so Jesus has to repeat it.

My father had a way to emphasize something important that he was going to say. “Don’t make me tell you this twice!” Not so for Jesus. After all, he just told Peter the “last commandment one breath ago. But he has to come back and flag it for an emphatic delivery.

"YOU follow me."  Perhaps the simplest commandment. Maybe that is why Jesus saved it for last and repeated it.

Jesus shows his infinite compassionate patience with Peter…and us.
After all, Jesus has already reminded Peter just two short breaths ago to “Follow me.”  Peter, acting like a teenager, says, what about him?

My mother used to have an expression: “If Ron Horan or Tom Karaman or George Lock jumped off the Atlantic Highlands Bridge, would you jump, too?”  I think she knew that my dare-devil friends would get their thrills with a little bridge jumping.  But such thrills were not for me.

Jesus wants us to be our own individuals.  He doesn’t want us worrying about what our friends do or how they respond to his commands.  He only cares about us individually. Exactly my mother's point. 

We are called to respond to this Last Commandment in our own fashion.  It does not matter what Jesus has in mind for our other friends, we just have to follow Him. 

"YOU follow me." Jesus was addressing Peter (and us) and countering Peter’s status check – comparing himself to John.  Jesus stopped him in mid-thought and brushed off Peter’s questions.

"You follow me."  What concern is it of ours no matter what happens to someone else?  Our only concern is to follow Jesus.  No matter what the consequences.  No matter what the price. 

Peter showed us that he had to set his ego aside to let Christ rise up in him.  After all, in his own poetic way, this is the Ascension story in the fourth Gospel.  

How will Christ arise in you?