Saturday, May 31, 2008
Almighty and eternal God, who has created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially the Divine Person of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, that through the example of St. Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the Internet we will direct our hands and our eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
With that in mind, may I direct you to some other ordained bloggers for your consideration and edification? Most people know Greg Kandra of The Deacon's Bench, who presents Catholic news and commentary - especially from a deacon's point of view. He even graces the site with his homilies.
Second, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Msgr. Nick Amato, keeps a blog to inform parishioners of significant things, as well as his homilies, which are quite good.
A priest of Sioux Falls, Iowa, Fr. Dana Christenson, gives us White Around the Collar, with his own musings and now homilies.
So, as we journey through the Internet, we can encounter a lot - but here, in these places, we also meet those who with charity and patience, feed us through their ministry here in cyberspace. Thanks, guys!
Friday, May 30, 2008
As I mentioned, yesterday, we as an Archdiocese said farewell to a good and energetic young priest, Fr. Kevin Brooksbank. I spent a year with Fr. Kevin as he started his priestly ministry in Annapolis, MD, and we had a wonderful year of fun, fraternity, and prayer. He was a good priest - correction: he is a good priest. Even better now that he has gone before us marked with that sign of faith. He is a priest forever, and thus his task of intercession continues forever. Archbishop O'Brien reminded his family and us of this fact at the end of Mass. United ever more closely with the Divine Priest, he prays for us in our weakness.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I know he'd find this right up his alley. It's from GodTube:
GodTube is worth checking out - although, I found myself digging for the Catholic stuff (which might explain the note at the start of this video).
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
It seems that at some point, most of us lose that adventurous spirit, set down the guitar and and grow out of the diapers. We retreat from the fullest expression of who we are and "settle." It happens in our faith as well. How many times have I "settled" rather than living that Faith fully and enjoying the life that comes from that relationship with Christ and His Church? This pivotal moment also faces our young people every day.
The Holy Father, at the beginning of his pontificate in April of 2005, was keenly aware of the Young Church, and of the hesitations that they might sense as they are inspired to live out their faith. In his homily at his inauguration as pope, he had this to say - especially to our youth:
At this point, my mind goes back to 22 October 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter’s Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!” The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But he would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.He is saying, in essence, "Live fully for Christ, and you will have that fullness of life that only He can give." I think it is a refrain that we can count on hearing again at World Youth Day. Fear and faith are incompatible. Fear and freedom are incompatible. Freedom and faith bring us into full contact with the truth, and that Truth sets us free.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
So, for all you other Austin's out there, "Happy Feast Day!" from one of your own!
Monday, May 26, 2008
I like my job; but I love my vocation!
This week, I figure, I get to celebrate all seven Sacraments in the course of seven days. Bear with me here...
- On Saturday, I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my ordination to the Priesthood (my diaconal anniversary is May 11). I am a grateful priest, and I thank God for sustaining me this far and rely on His help and the prayers of the Faithful to sustain me into the future.
- To celebrate this anniversary, I was fortunate to help out in a local parish where I celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to Mass - as usually happens in our parishes (even yours!).
- Afterward, we gathered and celebrated the Eucharist for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
- At Mass, there was a little girl named Vivian whom I Baptized after the homily and we welcomed a new sister in the faith.
- Now, this might be a stretch, but I think it needs to be said and clarified. During Baptism, we anoint with Chrism as a reminder of our sacred incorporation into Christ, Priest, Prophet and King. This anointing is repeated at Confirmation, as an intrinsic link between Baptism and Confirmation. Remember: Confirmation is not a "rite of passage" for teenagers; it is a Sacrament that strengthens Baptismal grace and equips us to proclaim our faith.
- Today, I get to celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick with a member of my family, strengthening, again, our faith and trust in Christ, and uniting him with Jesus who also suffers for us.
- And finally, on Saturday, I will celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony at the parish where I am in residence. Actually, the ministers of that sacrament are the couple themselves; I am there as the Church's minister to witness and bless that union. Be we celebrate nonetheless.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Charlie was different. Charlie is portrayed as a simple, innocent and sincere boy, who just loves chocolate. That's what drives his desire to go to the factory, and that's what makes him so happy when he is there: the mystery is revealed and he can celebrate it.
Jesus gives us his Body and Blood - to nourish us and bring us ever closer to him. However, too many Catholics (never mind Protestants) do not believe that the Eucharist is that Body and Blood that Jesus says it is. No wonder our churches are so empty so often. If we knew the Gift, we'd want to celebrate that Mystery as often as we can. When we come to Mass, we get a peek into the most mysterious place there is - the very heart of God.
We come to share that Body and Blood; we come to celebrate the mystery; we come because we need Christ and know we will encounter Him here; we come, quite simply, for the love of It.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Standing alongside a row of gas pumps at a Shell station, Rocky Twyman joined hands with several cohorts, prayed to God for economic and social relief then sang "We Shall Overcome" - inserting the lyrics "We'll have lower gas prices" the second time around."Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened to you...."
For nearly a month, Twyman, a Rockville resident who serves as music director for a Baltimore church, has been praying at gas pumps - and anywhere else he is welcome - asking God to lower prices. Of course, since he started his prayer campaign, or what he calls a movement, the price of gas just keep inching upwards.
"We've got a lot more praying to do, man," he said to a German television crew that came to film one of his recent prayer sessions at the Shell station.
Read the full story here about this Maryland man who takes his prayer life very seriously and is applying it to the pump.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
In college I studied meteorology and geography, and was impressed by the amount of energy that goes into a thunderstorm and just a wave at the beach. All of this is able to be harnessed - we just need someone to develop the technology. This is part of God's charge in Genesis for human beings to master and care for the earth.
An Irish company thinks it has found a way to take the energy generated by ocean waves and turn it into a clean form of renewable "blue power." I'm not sure what this will look like if implemented, but I am impressed - and hopeful - that someone is thinking about it, and investing in it. I think God is as well.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
What I love about Indiana Jones -and what I only now realize and appreciate - is that he has a sense of what he is about as an archaeologist and a human being. He is not about possessing, but rather discovering. And in discovering, he has a sense of reverence. Upon finding the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail (how'd you like that on your resume?!), he recognizes the holiness of those objects - what they truly mean.
This is reverence - one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simply put, "reverence" means that one recognizes that which is holy as holy. It is not about grasping and owning - it is about wonder and appreciation of the sacredness of what is before us. This is an important lesson for our youth to learn. I am not going to go into a "kids-these-days" diatribe. They get enough of that. Rather, I want to make us all aware of the need to foster this reverence.
So often, when we try to make meaningful worship experiences for young people, reverence seems to be one of the first things to go. Mass tries to be a "groovy" experience for us so that we are "entertained" or "comfortable." Certainly, worship should be meaningful; yes, it should be comfortable - but it should be so because we are in the Presence of our loving God. And recognizing that presence is what reverence is all about.
So, cue the theme music - enjoy the show - and take a lesson from Indy. Reverence brings us into the presence of the Holy; and that is the greatest discovery of all.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
For Paul, for God, for us, it’s about being in relationship with each other, and the more perfectly we do that, the more perfectly we reflect God in the world. God wills that we all be one – not just with nice thoughts about each other, but genuine concern for each other; not just for those near and dear to us, but for all. This is what Jesus came to reveal. Just like Chuck searching for Wilson when he is lost, Jesus reminds us that God’s love for us is passionate – that He “so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes … might have eternal life.” And what is this “eternal life” if not perfect union with God that starts with perfect union with each other?
Saturday, May 17, 2008
First, is a "friend" I have via Facebook, who found me through that social networking site. Deborah Scalise is a British convert to Catholicism who expresses her love - passion - of her faith on her blog, "Ukok's Place". Deborah, I am sure one day we shall meet in person; right now, we meet in prayer.
Second is a colleague with whom I work in the wonderful world of youth ministry in Baltimore. Scott Miller is the Coordinator for Adolescent Faith Formation for the Archdiocese, and he runs a blog that is meant to be a resource for all who work in youth ministry - especially with adolescents (and once we hit it, how many of us actually leave adolescence?). Scott, your blog has helped me and many others speak a language of faith to these aliens we call our youth. Thanks!
Finally, I have a friend from seminary, who has taken to posting his Sunday and holy day homilies. Fr. Chris Mahar is a priest of the Diocese of Providence, RI, who reveals a gift for preaching and preparation that is evident in these wonderful posts. My only complaint, Chris, is that you don't post soon enough for me to steal your homilies! But, they are always edifying. In fact, each time we chat (and never enough, we'd agree), Fr. Chris' first comments are usually, "Hey, what are you preaching about this weekend?" I always come away encouraged and ready after those chats.
So, check these folks out. And stay connected in prayer - God's Internet.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Now is a good time to gather as a parish planning group and map out the Year of St. Paul. There are resources, and I am sure that many more will be advanced by the USCCB and various dioceses (at least, I hope there are!). At present, the main site is only in Italian. Over the weeks leading up, I will try to translate some pertinent parts until there is a better English resource. Otherwise, I welcome any suggestions for good catechetical sites on St. Paul.
"May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!" (from this weekend's 2nd reading - courtesy of St. Paul!).
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Remember the Alabama woman who was indicted for attacking another woman on the Teacup ride at Disney World? Well, now the real responsible party might pay! That's right: Disney. There must have been something that the park and Disney corporation could have done to prevent this awful event; they hold the key to this whole debacle - or, at least, they hold the most money. The woman who was injured by the other woman's raging behavior is suing Disney for failing to properly restrain the woman before she even went into her tizzy. "Mickey News" reported this last week.
Hmm. There's a lesson on responsibility here - personal responsibility. This simply does not sound like a case of justice to me.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There is reason to hope here, and to see in these baby steps answers to prayers for Christian unity. We now must gently coax them out from under the bed, into full Communion with us.
Monday, May 12, 2008
For those who want real Latin, follow this link.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We can watch the destruction that wind can wreak on towns after a storm, where houses, stores and churches may remain here and there without a roof or even an entire side - if they are left standing at all. We can harness this for a natural source of energy as well. There's great power in the wind.
Remember "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day"? Ever flown a kite? You might hold the string, but it's up to the wind to toss it around. The wind animates things.
Here in Maryland, we see sailboats on the bay on particularly beautiful days. The sails, full of the afternoon breeze, swell and drive the boats here and there. The wind drives us.
At Pentecost, we remember that day when the wind howled through the Upper Room and brought the tongues of fire upon the Apostles, forging and sealing the new Church. The Spirit is our Wind - the ruach of God - His life-giving breath. Like the wind, there is great power in the Spirit - to strengthen the Christian and build unity in the Church; the Spirit animates us to do the work Christ sets before us, bringing us joy in our faith and setting us alight with that divine fire; and the Spirit drives us to give witness to the faith we share - so much so that if we don't proclaim it, "the very stones will shout."
A blessed and joyful Pentecost to all!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The Simpsons have been on the air for around 20 years - and it's still funny! I think part of the reason for its longevity is the incredible diversity in the characters. There are just so many! And while at the heart of the show it tells the story of one particular family, the diverse supporting cast provides a constantly fresh backdrop to bring that story to life.
Every year at this time, the USCCB puts out a feature on the new ordination class. This year in particular - but usually every year - there is a remarkable diversity in the men who are being ordained priests. Again, we tell the same story of God's love affair with humanity, affirmed through Christ, and lived out in the Church. This story has been told - and is always fresh - since the beginning, because of the diversity of those who have told the story and those who hear it.
Continue to pray for more good priests, because the story goes on.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
So, I signed up. I am "friends" with 111 people (as of this writing), and that number continues to grow. Some are old friends who "found" me there, many are my students, and some are just fellow Catholics who have connected with me through friendships with other fellow Catholics. It is a great example of the Church in the world, using the modern resources available to strengthen the ties of faith that hold us together.
Facebook - and MySpace for that matter - are not substitutes for real friendships, though. These are more important than anything we can find in Cyberspace. "The one who finds a friend finds a treasure," Sirach tells us, and this is true. I am eternally grateful for all my friendships, and I thank God for them every day. As a priest, this is especially important to me. A priest without good friends - even outside of the priesthood - even outside of the male sex - is a priest to watch out for.
The connections that our faith calls us to are connections of love, faith and prayer. There are other social networking sites that are geared directly to people of faith. Disciples Now is one of them. It's just another way to connect - never forgetting the real bonds of love that unite us with our friends.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
It's not unlike our Church, right? Lumen Gentium (from Vatican II) calls the Church "the sacrament of unity for all mankind" (LG, 1). We are a sacrament - but only when we are united. Apart, we are prone to all the failings and sins of our human nature. When we decide that we know better than "the Church," or that "the Church" is wrong here or there, we automatically separate ourselves from that Church. We forget that we are part of the Church, and therefore called to unity.
In his priestly prayer in St. John's gospel, Jesus prays that we "may be one, as you, Father, and I are one." This unity is directed at a purpose too: that the world my give glory to God's name. Bickering, partisanship and "cafeteria Catholicism" does not serve this unity. Certainly, Jesus does not pray that we all be the same; rather, that we be one, that is, united - united in faith, hope and love; united in practice and word; united in the Church. Our diversity is a blessing, precisely because it reflects the diversity of God, and our unity, then, is a divine calling too.
I have been struck by the spirit that I see in the "Catholic Blogosphere." There are so many wonderful Catholic blogs that any one blogroll cannot capture the full sense of diversity. In the 2nd century, St. Irenaeus remarked about the unity of faith in the Church that has as its origin the Holy Spirit. What is taught and preached and celebrated in Germany, he says, is the same as in Spain. This is a mark of God's work, and we should rejoice in it. I hope to do a little of that today, and more regularly, by pointing out a blog or two to the few who might be reading this little corner of Cyberspace.
I'll start today with two who have been gracious enough to notice me out there as well. First, is the Curt Jester, which provides a humorous commentary on Church issues and has been rather decorated with awards for its insight. The other is Some Have Hats, presented by a Jesuophile (a lover of Jesuits? I take dibs on the coinage of that word if it's not already claimed!), giving an equally fun glimpse of all things Catholic.
There are many more - and I hope to point to them more regularly. Together, we can be like Voltron - Defender of the Universal Church - and rejoice in the beauty of our faith, and the unity to which we are all called.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This is what Captain Jack Sparrow kept telling himself in order for his special compass to work. It is not a normal compass. Rather than pointing north, it points toward the thing that that bearer wants the most. Jack's trouble? He doesn't know what he wants the most. He is struggling in his moral journey - pirate and scoundrel, or good man seeking to help others? He needs to convince himself that he knows what he wants, and he keeps checking the compass to find out if he actually does yet.
This week, we are awaiting Pentecost. In the time between Ascension and next Sunday, we - like the Apostles and Mary - pray and anticipate the Gift of the Holy Spirit. In this time, we are, in a sense, looking for our direction - looking for our Compass. This is the promised Gift that Jesus says "will lead you into all truth." The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says this of Pentecost:
"Fifty days after the Resurrection at Pentecost the glorified Jesus Christ poured out the Spirit in abundance and revealed him as a divine Person so that the Holy Trinity was fully manifest. The mission of Christ and of the Spirit became the mission of the Church which is sent to proclaim and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity.
As we prepare to receive this gift, we too pray, "We know what we want ... We know what we want ..." We want the Spirit, our Compass, pointing us to what we truly want: fullness of life in the Trinity.
“We have seen the true Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith: we adore the indivisible Trinity, who has saved us.” (Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion of Vespers of Pentecost)"
Monday, May 5, 2008
As might be expected, there is much whining over this - in the media, from PP, from the student, and her mother. The girl is described as non-Catholic (although her mom explains that she is a "recovering Catholic"), and the values of the Church should not be forced upon her. However, she is attending a Catholic institution. St. Thomas is not just another school. It is Catholic. And for the administration there, that means something.
The identity of a Catholic institution is important. Otherwise, it is just another school. St. Thomas officials are not saying that one cannot volunteer their services at PP; they are saying that a Catholic institution - dedicated to forming people according to Catholic values - is not going to reward such work with credit. Seems fair to me.
What bugs me the most about this, I think, is the outcry that we (as Catholics) need to base our values on what most people agree with, and thus, in the name of "tolerance", put up with objectionable practices - perhaps even participate in them ourselves. This is the "Catholic" politician problem too.
Church teaching here is not a surprise - nor should be the decision made by St. Thomas. You can't have your cake and eat it too - much less can you have someone else's cake! However, in today's world, maybe it is surprising that the school had the guts to stand by the Church's convictions. People take notice of that.
That is strength.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Could I have been
A parking lot attendant?
Could I have been
A millionaire in Bel Air?
Could I have been
Lost somewhere in Paris?
Could I have been
Your little brother?
Could I have been anyone other than me?
Could I have been oh, anyone other than me?
There's a question I think just about everyone has asked at one time or another. Believe it or not, lots of folks wish they were someone else, or that they were somewhere else, or did something else in their lives. The questions about why the world is the way that it is often lead to the response that "I wish I was not the way that I am." But that's the wrong answer. The answer is wrong because the question is wrong. Why? It's wrong because the ones asking it don't want to know about the world; really, they want an answer about themselves - about people - about humanity.
So where does the answer come from?
If it's a question about meaning, then the answer comes from God.
How many times have we dismissed regrettable behavior by saying that we were "only human"? Only human? As if there was some alternative? As if we could have been someone other than we are? No. If we were truly human (as opposed to only), then we would actually be perfect - because that's what God created us to be. But we have fallen.
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were God's response to that fall. In Christ, God has shown "man to man himself" (Gaudium et Spes, 22) and taught us that to be human is the supreme vocation of all people. In fulfilling our humanity, we come into contact with God, who speaks to us. God loves out humanity, and in the Ascension (celebrated today in many dioceses), that humanity is once again exalted and presented to the Father. God gazes on that humanity as the Father looks upon the Son, and their eternal Sigh pours forth as the Holy Spirit on our world (that comes next Sunday!).
St. Francis of Assisi once said, "What a man is in God's eyes, that he is and nothing more." But what a thing to be! - seen as we are in the eyes of the eternal Father!
"Could I have been anyone other than me?"
No, I couldn't.
And thank God!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
From the Baltimore Sun:
Sister Muriel Curran faced the man who shoved her to the ground and ripped away her purse three years ago. She quoted Scripture. She thanked him for the guilty plea that spared her a trial. And she asked a Baltimore County judge not to send him to prison.
"There is possibility and hope - I believe in it, it's what I'm about - in rehabilitation and a future," the 78-year-old nun said yesterday, explaining that she has difficulty believing in a penal system that sometimes leaves criminals worse off than before they went to prison. "I've taught too many boys in my life not to believe that growth and change can take place."
Police officers waiting for other cases listened in astonishment.
The defendant's aunt and grandmother wept openly. Even strangers sitting in the courtroom sat spellbound and dabbed at their eyes. The veteran prosecutor handling the case fought back tears and later characterized the scene as "the single most profound thing I have ever heard in a courtroom."Forgiveness is a powerful thing, everybody. Those nuns always have something to teach us!
Read the full story here.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
So, here in Baltimore, we celebrate Ascension Thursday on Sunday and have done so for around ten years. People have various opinions about this move. Say what you might, the important thing, I think, is that we celebrate it. If it's too much to ask of a regular Catholic to go to Mass on a Thursday morning or evening, and they will miss the holy day of obligation, what's the next best thing? Move the holy day! We've done it with Epiphany, why not Ascension? Heck - why not with all of 'em?
Seriously though, the celebration of Ascension is necessary for all Christians. Why? It is an integral part of the Paschal Mystery - understood as the death, resurrection, glorification and sending of the Holy Spirit. In the Ascension, Jesus takes our human nature, which he assumed in the Incarnation, and exalts it in the highest heavens, at the right hand of the Father. Now, because of the Ascension, the Father looks upon the face of His beloved Son and sees...us! We - our glorified humanity, that is - are present to the Father as the Son is present to Him. Therefore, we have to celebrate.
To go farther, at the Ascension, Jesus instructs the disciples (the proto-Church) to stay in Jerusalem and pray in anticipation of the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. Hence, the period from Ascension to Pentecost was the first novena for the Church (I'm not sure what a six-day period is called!). From now until Pentecost, we as a Church pray again in preparation for this Gift: "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love." (Go ahead: you can start praying it today; it's OK by me!)
That's the prayer...but it starts with the celebration.
Look out Disney World! He's made his reservation and has already visited! According to Mickey News, a 21-year-old man claimed to be the devil in Downtown Disney after he allegedly laid down a bomb-laden backpack.
"I have a mindset as a devil but I mean I'm a good guy trying to make the world a better place," he said.
You know what might make the world a better place? How about not telling people that you have an explosive device in your backpack?!!!