“I am in Your Midst as One Who Serves.” An Ordination of Deacons – 2017

Deacon ordination 2017 4This past Saturday, my brother Deacons and I gathered at St. Edith Stein Church, in Brockton, MA. We were there to celebrate the ordination of 7 new Deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston. It was being held at St. Edith Stein, rather than at Holy Cross Cathedral, because the cathedral is undergoing a massive interior renovation. St. Edith Stein is a beautiful church, with an interior decoration that you do not see in more modern designed churches. It does have one drawback, very narrow stairs between the basement and main levels. The basement was where we gathered to vest for the ceremony.
Now, it had been raining heavily in eastern Massachusetts on Saturday, but the rain hadDeacon ordination 2017 stopped long enough for us to organize the procession into St. Edith Stein. The church itself was packed with the families and friends of the men to be ordained. A choral group from Holy Cross Cathedral lead the congregation in song, as we walked down the main aisle; bowed before the altar and took our seats

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I have been graced with good spiritual experiences, when I attend Sunday liturgies of the Eucharist, the Mass. But there is something about a grand liturgy, like an ordination, that really draws me into a holy place. Our presider was Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, lead us in prayer. During his homily, he referred to the second Scripture reading, Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6: verses 1 to 7. The passage describes how the Apostles had the early Christian community name seven men to serve the Hellenist widows. The Apostles laid their hands on the seven chosen men, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Cardinal Sean noted that it was interesting that we now had before us seven candidates for ordination. He reminded us all that we, as deacons, are called to a life of service, both within the Church, and to the world.

 
After the ordination rite, we previously ordained went up into the sanctuary to welcome our new brothers into the fraternity of Deacons. We are joined together; to be servants by proclaiming the Good News to people, and by living the Good News. We are joined together; to be servants at the Eucharistic altar, to help add to the people’s experience of liturgy, to help distribute the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the community through Holy Communion. We are joined together, to be servants to the poor, to those in pain and are alone. As a fraternity of deacons, we support each other, and learn from each other. Together, we help the Church bring the Good News to the world.

 

deacon red stole

 

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A Wedding Homily – 2017

Welcome, we are all here to witness something awesome!  We have come to witness two unique individuals come forward, and with God’s grace,  become one.  We are about to witness the power of their love for each other, and the power of God’s love, made present here before us; and that should fill us all with awe!
For that is one of the objectives that a celebration of a sacrament is suppose to accomplish.  It is an opportunity to encounter the Divine; through the ordinary objects that our God has created: water, olive oil, bread and wine,..a ring.  A sacrament is also a means by which God transforms the individual or individuals who are receiving the sacrament.  Through the waters of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, and become born again as a child of God.  Through the anointing with holy oil, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and become one with Christ.  And in the exchange of rings, which symbolizes the pledge, in love, of a man and a woman to each other, to their union.  And it also symbolizes God’s pledge to you both; that He will be with you always.

For God is the source of all life, and of all love.  And through His Spirit, that love can fill your hearts, your souls, all the way down into the very depths of your being.  The power of God’s Presence within you, the power of His love; will help you experience the joyful times more intensely; will help you through the trying times with more hope.  Remember always the description of love we have just heard from the writings of St. Paul:

“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”                  (1 Corinthians)

Love will never fail, if we continually open our hearts, and be present to God, the Father.  A Dutch priest and author, had a personal revelation; reflecting on when God addressed Jesus, as He was coming up out of the waters of the Jordan River, as His “Beloved.”  And He also calls you, me,  all of us here, “Beloved.”  Whether we have been good or bad; whether we have ignored Him or not; whether we believe in Him or not; He still calls each one of us”Beloved.”

It is by the power of that love; by the gift of His Spirit, that you both have been drawn to this place, to this sacred moment of time.  And we have all been drawn here to witness something awesome.

Reform and the Roman Curia

Pope Francis was supposedly elected by the College of Cardinals to initiate reforms in the Vatican. For many Western Catholics, this meant doing something about the clergy abuse of children. Things looked hopeful for awhile; with the creation of a papal commission to propose reforms. The commission was headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, MA; and included some survivors of clergy abuse.

Now, the last clergy abuse survivor on the commission has resigned. She has cited resistance from Curia members to proposed reforms; including a court to try bishops who either failed to deal with incidences of abuse or who protected accused priests.

While members of the Roman Curia deny this; there are reports of Curial officials just ignoring papal directives for reform. They may be figuring that they can wait out this Pope.

Maybe it is time for Pope Francis to take at one lesson from Trump; and became a “papal bull” on the Curial “china shop.” Maybe it is time to break it all down and begin from scratch!

(This my first post via e-mail.)

First Sunday of Lent – 2017


Since last Wednesday, “Ash Wednesday,” the Catholic Church, along with other Christian churches, began a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  This leads up to Holy Week, and the commemoration of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, the First Sunday of Lent, the sanctuary of our church is decorated in somber, purple; with no flowers.  We process in, not with hymns, but chanting prayers, begging for God’s mercy; and for the intercession of the saints.

The scripture readings for today, first tell of how our first parents, gave into temptation, and brought sin and death into the world.  Then  we hear the Gospel, the “Good News,” of how Jesus resisted temptation, and began the journey that would lead to our liberation.  

So how will we spend these days of Lent; will we intensify our spiritual lives? Will we “repent and believe the Good News?”  Will we be lights to a world so threatened by darkness, by hate, and violence.  Let us “prepare the way of the Lord, and be witnesses of the power of His Love!

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – A Brief Reflection

There was an inscription over his head:

‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’

.(Luke 23:38)

2 Sm 5: 1-3

Col 1: 12-20

Luke 23: 35-45

San Damiano crossToday, the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King.  However, the Scripture readings for the day could lead to confusion for some of us.  The first reading describes how the people of Israel came together and made David their king.  It was to David, did the Lord make the promise: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me ; your throne shall stand firm forever” (2 Sm 7: 16).  Even when their lands were occupied by foreign invaders; the people of Israel still hoped for the promised coming of the Messiah, a descendant of King David.

We believe that Jesus of Nazareth, of the line of King David; is the promised Messiah, the Christ of God, the Son of God.  However, in the Gospel reading from Luke, we see Jesus not seated on a throne, but nailed to a cross, like a common criminal.  Yet in this suffering, he was performing the greatest act a king can do; dying for his people.  For by his death and resurrection; Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, freed us all from the power of sin and death.  To Him, would come a glory that would surpass anything pomp and ceremony could bestow on a earthly king or queen.

Today, the Catholic Church is also ending the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  It is fitting then, that today’s Gospel reading describes the last act of mercy Jesus would perform before his death.  Despite enduring horrific suffering, he hears the plea of a repentant criminal, and promises him eternal peace.  Thus, we are being challenged by Jesus; that no matter how much pain or suffering someone may have caused us, we must be ready to be merciful, to forgive and to heal.  And no matter how hard life might be, at any given moment, we must be open to any opportunity, to give mercy to someone who needs it.

Weekend Coffee Share – 09/25/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a cup of coffee, I would apologize for not coming to the counter for a while.  One could say I have been struggling with one huge case of writer’s block.  It is a combination of trying to carve out a period of time to write something online; and not be able to think of anything to write.company-picnic

Anyway, let me share with you that earlier this week I attended my first company cookout earlier this week.  It was on a Tuesday, and the weather could not have been more cooperative.  Tents were set up in the parking lot of our office building.  The food was placed out buffet style.  And there were round tables for us to sit at.  Part of menu was BBQ pulled pork, sausages in a roll, hamburger sliders, very good macaroni and cheese, shrimp, and salads.  It must be sign of my getting older; but there was a time I could hit a buffet table at least twice; that is no longer true.  My wife would say that is a good thing.

One of the goodies the company was giving away, were “selfie” sticks.  Here is my first try with it.selfie

Over a cup of coffee, I would tell you that there was a big event in the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, recently; the coming of a relic, the heart of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina; also padre-pioknown as Padre Pio.  Padre Pio was a Franciscan Capuchin friar, born in 1885, in Italy, and died on September 23, 1968.  He was ordained a priest in 1910.  In 1918, he received the stigmata, after experiencing a powerful vision of the Crucified Christ.  He bore the five wounds of Christ for the rest of his life.  News of this miracle got out to the world, crowds of people gathered to witness it.  Padre Pio would be examined many times by physicians, with conflicting diagnosis’.  The Church would investigate him many times; would forbid him to say Mass or hear confessions for a period of time.  He would eventually be cleared of unorthodox thinking or practices, and returned to his priestly ministry.  He would spend a good deal of his time hearing confessions, offering spiritual council, and celebrating the Eucharist.  He remained at the Capuchin friary at San Giovanni Rotondo for the rest of his life.  He worked at, and successfully caused a hospital to be built near the town.  34 years after his death, he was declared a saint, by Pope St. John Paul II.

We Catholics have a unique relationship with our saints; we believe that they are in heaven with God, that they are praying for us, interceding for us before the Father.  Their lives continue to inspire us, encourage us to live more intensely the Gospel life.  They are very real for us; so when we come before a relic of theirs, we venerate it; knowing we are giving honor to the person, not the object.  And that is what has been happening with heart of Padre Pio; thousands of pilgrims have gathered in churches, in the North End of Boston, in Lowell, and in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.  All to venerate the relic, to ask for his intercession, or to thank him for a prayer answered.  It was a powerful demonstration of faith.  It is also a demonstration of the “juice” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston still has in Rome.  It also does not hurt that he himself is also a Franciscan Capuchin!padre-pio-heart

Over a cup of coffee, I am going to start saying something that will sound like the beginning of a bad joke; “A Catholic priest, a Methodist minister, and a Yale humanist enter a room;” what you get is “The Great Bible Experiment!”  Father Warren Savage, Catholic chaplain at Westfield State and Amherst College; the Rev. Anne Robertson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society; and Tom Krattenmaker, of the mbs_logo__0Yale Humanist Community, have been gathering in  New Haven CT, Albany, NY, Providence, RI, and on September 27, 2016, in Boston, to hold a town meeting style discussions on the Bible.  These locations, according to recent surveys, are the least Bible minded cities in America.  The final meeting in Boston, will actually be held at Harvard University; the event will be live streamed.

Well, the cup is empty; and will try to here next week, with another cuppa.

Exultation of the Holy Cross

On August 14th, throughout most the Christian world, churches commemorated the finding of the True Cross.  It was found under the leadership of St. Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, during her pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Miracles confirmed it’s authenticity; it’s wood was divided between the Churches in Jerusalem, Rome, and  Constantinople.

Those Romans who had been around during the old Empire, would have shake their heads; seeing a symbol of punishment and death, become a symbol of life and hope.

We all have our own crosses, that we have to bear, that we have to live with.  Jesus Christ calls on us to take up our crosses daily and follow him.  When we open ourselves to his Spirit; we discover that we are not only following him, but he is walking with us.  He is there, helping us bear the burden, helping us, giving us hope.