Snow Day – And Aftermath

“Let the earth bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever!…Frost and chill, bless the Lord!  Ice and snow, bless the Lord!”  (Paraphrase from the Book of Daniel)

New England has just been through its first major blizzard of 2017.  With some delay, I was able to make it to and from work without incident (or frostbite!). 

Now, we have blue skies and bright sunlight reflecting off newly fallen snow.  It is the beauty of it, that makes me glad I am a Massachusetts man.  (Most of the time!)

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2017 – A New Year

2017-new-yearSo the year 2016 is past, the year 2017 has begun.  The world, our country has been afflicted by violence whether by state sponsored or terrorist sponsored attacks.  Many times the violence has been random.  The call of “Peace on Earth; Goodwill to all!” seems to ring hollow during this holiday season.

Our country has been through the most raucous presidential election season, since the early days of the Republic!  And it has revealed that there are deep divisions in our nation.  The concept of civil discourse and debate seems to have flown out of the window.  And we have elected a person as President that many do not respect; that others are a little concerned about his style of governance; and what it portends for the next four years

While engaged in Morning Prayer, I came across this verse from Psalm 42 “Why are you downcast my soul; why do you groan within me?  Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.”  This will be verse I think will become my new mantra for this coming year.

On New Year’s Eve, I joined my wife at a worshipping community she goes to; and participated in a Burning Bowl ceremony.  We were invited to write down on a slip of flash paper, something negative we wanted God’s help in taking away from us.  We then placed the slips in a bowl that had a small fire; which consumed the petitions.  It was very moving.

The year of 2016 has been a year of some changes for me personally.  I finally found employment at a South Shore company; starting in January, 2016.  So I will be entering my second year of employment, and it has been good.  The commute is long, two hours to and back; using commuter train and subway.  I am always telling people that at least someone else is doing the driving.

In September of this year, I will be entering my fifth year as an ordained Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.  I cannot believe that much time has passed.  I have been assigned to three Beverly, MA, parishes; where most of my work has been liturgical, assisting at 5 of Masses celebrated in two of three parishes.  It seems a lot; but I have experienced spiritual aid, that helps me perform my sacred duties well.  The Deacon has several ways of service he offers to the Church; a service of Worship, service of the Word, and a service of Charity.  I am still reflecting and discerning what that means in my daily life.  What role should daily prayer, daily reading, and meditating of Scripture should have.  I am not where I think I should be.  Maybe, this New Year, I will find some guidance; and perhaps some improvement.

A New Year begins, a year of fear, a year of anxiety, but also a year of hope, a year of change, and a year of trust in the Lord.

Yearar

Coffee Share  11/21/2016

deacon coffee mugGood day!  I usually meet you all on the weekend over a cup of coffee.  However, if we were having a cup right now; I would tell you that yesterday, I jammed the tips of my fingers in a closing door.  My pastor had to rush off to a wake service, after Sunday Mass. I volunteered to check our main doors, to make sure they were locked up tight.  One set of doors did not seem right, so I pushed them open a bit. Still do not remember exactly what happened, but suddenly my left hand fingers were caught in the doors.  There is no serious damage, a little bruising under one nail, and the fingertips are still a little sore.  So it has been a little painful typing yesterday.  Right now, I am using my thumbs on my mobile phone.  Not quite sure this is an improvement.

Over a cup of coffee, I would tell that we had our first snow of the year!  It was only a dusting, but I still had to brush our car off.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you my growing anxiety about  this presidential transition.  I have through a dozen presidential elections; and I do not remember it ever being like this.  I have in the past reserved judgment until a new administration was up in running.  But this transition, the opinions of people that they are bringing into government, quite frankly, scare me.

As I write this, I am watching a beautiful sunrise.  I remember a quote from the writings of English mystic, Julian of Norwich: “All will be well, all will be well.”  See you soon over a cup of coffee.

Election Day in the U.S. – 2016


After a very long, angry and bitter campaign; it is now up to us citizens.  Now, my wife, Peg, and I voted last Friday, at Beverly City Hall; the last day for early voting in Massachusetts.  The first floor was set up for voting, using old fashioned voting booths.  We checked off our preferences with a pencil; sealed our ballots in envelopes; and deposited them in a ballot box.  Even though we had to wait on line; everyone was friendly, and helpful to each other.

What will happen today; what kind of country we will have at dawn, remains a mystery.  After I saw a report on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” I am still worried.  They hired a pollster, (worked for Republican campaigns), to form a focus group.  He brought together a diverse group of individuals; who promptly went after each other’s throats.  No civil discussion, just anger came out against each other.  Even the pollster expressed fear over what he was seeing, and what it meant for the country.

The preamble of our Constitution begins with: “We, the People..”. We cannot lose sight of the fact, that each of us, in small ways and large, contribute to the ongoing experiment in democracy, that is the United States.  We may chose to build it up, tear it down, or let it whither on the vine.  This is the “choice,” we face; not just tonight, but in all days to come.

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – 2016

 

millaisthe_pharisee_and_the_publican_tateSirach 35: 12-14, 16-18

2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18

Luke 18: 9-14

 

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we read the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, who both go up to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray.  Jesus tells us about how the Pharisee “took up his position.”  Jesus hints that this Pharisee had a designated spot, probably in a prominent place in the Temple Sanctuary.  Jesus has the Pharisee, in his prayers, tell God of the “good” he has done during his life; how thankful he is, that God did not make him like the rest of humanity, especially that (ugh!) tax collector in the back of the Temple courtyard.  Jesus, in his tale, turns our attention to that tax collector; who many in Israel of this at time, considered a thief and a traitor.  This tax collector is on his knees, bent over, not daring to raise his eyes.  His only prayer is: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus then must have shocked his audience when he declared that the tax collector left the Temple area justified, but not the Pharisee!  It all has to do with humility.

Humility is somewhat of a dirty word in our society.  Our social media, our TV programming, our magazines, are full of stories of people who really make a big deal of themselves. In no way could it be said that they are being humble. Those seeking a job, are always told to present yourself in the best possible light; really sell yourself and your skills to a possible employer.  There is no room for being humble in that scenario.  Or is there?  What I mean is that to be humble, is not that we let other people walk over us; but that we acknowledge our true self, the self that was created by God.  We acknowledge all the gifts and talents we possess, were given to us by the God who loves us.  We acknowledge that everyone else around us, has been similarly blessed with unique skills and talents.   And to be humble, is to also acknowledge that at times, we may have misused those skills and talents. And we acknowledge that we need the healing power of the Father’s forgiveness.

Jesus is calling on us to remember who we truly are; what our relationship with God truly is.  In a certain way, Jesus is echoing the words of the prophet Micah: “You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with you God.” (Micah 6:8)

 

 

 

 

Passionate for the Way of the Lord!

fireThe parish in which I serve as a deacon has been blessed with a strong attendance at our Sunday services.  However, a good number of our congregants are getting on in years; there will come a time when they will no longer be with us.  And I do not see many young people joining us.  This situation is becoming common throughout this country; this is true in Europe.  There has been a call for a “New Evangelization;” but what does that mean?

There is already out there a plethora of programs, “how to” books, DVD’s and CD’s; all offering an approach that is sure to draw new members.  Most are based on experiences of pastors, lay teachers, and other speakers.  And many of them are fine, and may offer a short term solution.  However, no approach will offer long term success, if it does not awaken a passion for God; a passion for the Word and Sacrament; a passion to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right here,right now.  To ignite that passion, and more importantly, sustain it; we must open ourselves the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  Have a passion for reading and meditating on Scripture frequently, let it speak to us, let it excite us, let it inspire us.  Then, be passionate in prayer, both as an individual, and as part of a worshiping Eucharistic community.  Because, only in Christ, will we experience the great love  of the Father for ea h of us.  Only in Christ, will we find the strength to change our lives.  And through the Holy Spirit, will we receive the grace which set our hearts on fire.

It is then that we will have the passion to go out and “make disciples of all nations.”  However, most of us will not be called to preach with words, but by actions.  Like Francis of Assisi, we must have within us, a passion for healing the sick; giving care to those stressed out by life; welcoming the stranger.  In other words, we must be passionate about giving mercy to a suffering, alienated society.  We may be called in many different and various ways to do this; we may not be very good at it at first, but it only takes small steps, that will grow into bigger steps.

The first followers of Jesus, inflamed by the Holy Spirit, were passionate for living and proclaiming the Good News.  And they drew thousands into the faith.  Let us have the courage to become flame, to become passionate for Christ; and see what miracles we can achieve!

Passionate

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.