(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.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Saturday, May 10, 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
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
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
On NBC’s Today’s show website, Today.com, 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
Isaiah 8: 23-9:3
First Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
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
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.