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Saturday, December 23, 2006


Cyber-version: Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Christmas Eve day and the Fourth Sunday of Advent gives us a concentrated and shortened season to prepare for Christmas, to prepare for the Nativity of our Lord. The Bible readings we share today provide us the promise of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the visitation of the pregnant, yet Virgin Mary to her elderly and expectant cousin. It is in the greeting of Mary with Elizabeth that we receive the second joyful mystery of the most Holy Rosary. This Visitation in which the baby within Elizabeth’s womb recognizes the Holy Child just conceived within Mary’s womb, the infant Jesus, provides us the promise and lesson for this day.
One of the blessings and mysteries of the Incarnation is that the infinite, eternal God, would, in His timeless love for humanity , cross the threshold of eternity to become human to, share our times. But it is also in the Incarnation that Jesus, God come in the flesh, brings us to Him, Christ, God eternal. It is into this timeless relationship that we are called by Christ today. It is in a story from another time and place that we may perhaps better understand and experience this joy.
The early Franciscans received from their brother Francis a deep love and reverence for the infant Jesus. The Christmas crèche, the Nativity scenes we have in our church and homes comes from St. Francis himself as he sought to awaken anew the truth and power of the incarnation with the village of Grecio. Although probably started earlier and elsewhere it was by St. Francis that this awesome tradition was established. This love of the infant Jesus was deeply cherished by another saint and follower of Francis, St. Anthony of Padua. Its is from his life we share our main lesson.
Anthony was on a mission to France. His preaching, prayers and loving holiness was touching and moving many hearts to a deeper and renewed love for Christ and His Church. Amongst these people was the French Lord of Chateau-neuf-de-Foret (Spring, 1226). This lord was of a powerful, prominent family. He well knew privilege, place, power and wealth. And he had also come to the heart-rending realization that all of it brought no fulfillment.
Through the friendship of Anthony his faith and love for Christ had grown.
This friendship had brought St. Anthony to stay with the lord for a short while to work on his studies and writings. And so it was, one night the lord had been praying in the his small private place of prayer. Finishing his prayers he was walking down the hall to his room expecting to see the flicker of candlelight from the room Anthony was staying. He was astounded at the bright light coming from under the door and even more flummoxed to hear the sound of an infant child giggling and chattering. How could this be? There were no children of any age in the Chateau. Looking through the large keyhole the lord was astounded. Anthony was at his table with an open Bible and another large book. Upon the book sat a very young child that immersed the room in the intense, beautiful light. Playing, giggling, talking and embracing the Christ Child and Anthony are seen in the power and joy of Heaven. The infant, in Anthony’s arms stops, points to the door and whispers into the ear of the simple, holy believer.
The Christ then vanishes and Anthony goes to the door and greets the lord of the chateau, admonishing him to not share this event until after Anthony dies.
There are varied versions of this story, placing it at other locations. And, of course, some modern historians would question the veracity of the account. What, if any, is the message for us this fourth Sunday of Advent?
The message is simply the timeless longing for Christ to be . In the Scriptures we see that longing in the prenatal encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus. 1200 plus years later we see the infant playing with and being with Anthony and sharing His message with the lord of the chateau. Today, 2000 years later, Jesus longs for you with that same love that time cannot contain.
Is the story of St. Anthony and the Christ child true? The details are unclear, to be sure. Yet the encounter has all the strength of the truth of our Savior’s love. Did Anthony love Christ? Yes. Did Anthony love, embrace and rejoice in God’s Word? Yes. Would Anthony have held the Word of God, incarnate in his arms, rejoicing. Yes.
But I would ask that you simply find out for yourself. This Christmas allow yourself to enter anew into the humble faith known to Elizabeth,the Virgin Mary, Francis and Anthony. Hold and trust the living Word of God in your Heart. Receive in humble contrition His sacred Body and Holy Blood. It is as we look to Him in faith that we will know the joyful embrace of His love and the power of the whisper of His Word.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Soli Deo Gloria

To God alone the glory,
So easily we sing.
To God alone the glory
Organ chords can empty ring.

To God alone the glory.
We do boldly pray.
Yet pride, ego, self and sin,
So easily fill our days.

MY way I must have,
I know that I am right.
How dare others question
Why must they with me fight?

I’m doing this for God.
How could they ever wonder?
I’m doing this for God
What fools they are to blunder.

To God alone the glory,
I’m humbly proud to say
Soli Deo Gloria
In Latin I can pray.

To God alone the glory,
By stress and strife I’ll win
To God alone the glory
But what about my sin?

To God alone the glory,
I’ve come with arrogance and pride.
Soli Deo Gloria
In sorrow I cannot hide.

To God alone the Glory
To Him my sins confess
Soli Deo Gloria
At His Cross I rest.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Warning, Warfare and Welcome

Here's the cyberversion of my homily for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time:

Warnings Warfare, Welcome

We humans do not like to be warned. I have worked on many fires and other emergencies where we had to warn people of imminent danger. Amidst the fear there was consistently a feeling of resentment, resistance, denial, that this peril could apply to me, my family, my life. Yes it may well affect others….but not me. But, if something is going to happen that will affect us, we want to know ahead of time, maybe. If something does happen and we weren’t warned…watch out, the blame game will be had and lawyers will be circling. But we don’t like warnings, especially those that challenge and threaten our behavior, lifestyle, and our security. Perhaps it is human nature, rooted in the garden, but there is a resistance to anything that threatens the silly myth that we are in control and that our lives are our own.
The Bible readings for today contain words of warning. If you believe only in a warm and fuzzy concept of God and faith they are especially challenging. With the words of warning we also hear of tribulation. But, and this is very important, words of longing and welcome are clearly proclaimed. It is vital that we realize that it is because God does love us He warns us and He welcomes us to seek the return of His Son our Lord.
WORDS of WARNING are shared clearly and powerfully by Christ in the Gospel reading. (At all times but especially this day, take the time to prayerfully read the CONTEXT of our readings). Jesus warns His followers of the coming time of tribulation. He speaks of the great period of tribulation that will precede His return. Volumes have been written and shared on this subject. Protestant Churches have been founded and divided on distinctive interpretations of the second coming and this period of tribulation. The early Christians were convinced it applied to them and their lifetime. Subsequent generations have shared the same conviction. Those drenched in the sorrows of the dark ages, persecutions, the Hitlers and Mao Tse Tungs that have come and gone would be difficult to convince that a tribulation could be any greater.
These warning words of Jesus take fresh relevance, however, when studied in the light of current events in a global perspective. Global warming, oil depletion, a war of terror that no nation’s borders can resist all point to tribulation on a global scale. This compounded with a loss of moral conviction and commitment has hastened the current of time to an inevitable climax. This climax is linked to the conflict, the warfare spoken of in our first reading.
WORDS of WARFARE were the unpopular message of Daniel the prophet then, and now. Yet Scripture, both Old and New Testament contain clear, loving warnings of this spiritual conflict. We as followers of Christ are involved in this warfare. Daniel spoke of secular conflicts that were occurring and would occur in anticipation of Christ’s coming. Like darkening clouds on the horizon beckon a coming storm so the events of life and world warn of and are the battleground of this conflict of Heaven and hell. These conflicts would reveal the warfare between our Lord God and Satan. The conflicts in souls as well, between faith and doubt, love and hate, lust and love likewise expose this warfare. The prayer to St Michael the Archangel shared by Pope Leo XIII and that used to be prayed after every Mass affirms this reality and leads us to the victory, to God. To pretend this war isn’t happening will not excuse or dismiss us from being a part of it. And it is with God’s holy angels and saints we are called to hear share the clear message of welcome.
WORDS of WELCOME are the closing refrain from God’s Word this day. From the beauty of Christ’s eternal sacrifice that wins this conflict over evil that is spoken of in the epistle we are called to know and share the sacrifice and victory of Christ crucified and risen. For it is in the Body and Blood of Christ that we find peace, whatever the circumstance, comfort, whatever the sorrow. It is at this place of sacrifice, His holy Cross we are called to choose whom we are going to follow and serve in this conflict. It is at His Cross we are welcomed to the hope and joy of His victorious embrace.
So well the Psalmist proclaims….”You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your Presence, the delights of Your right hand forever.”
It is at His Cross we can pray…
Saint Michael the Archangel,
Defend us in battle,
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray;
And do Thou, O Prince of Heavenly Host –
By the Divine Power of God –
Cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
Who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stoning the sinner

The recent news of another sex scandal involving a man of the cloth (yes, sadly, it happens in both Protestant married clergy and celibate Catholic clergy) has brought a renewed fervor of stone throwing. The liberal, non-believing crowd bewails, with glee, the "hypocrisy" of the Christian leader who has fallen. There are also those Christians who in a fervor of seeming righteousness cast their stones of shame and condemnation for the man who has fallen in the perceived worst of sexual sins.
All this leads me to consider...


Cast the stones,
is the call,
when we see
the sinner fall.

Cast the stones
We must act
For those caught
In sinful act.

Wicked men!
Shame for shame.
They must bear
their full shame.

Cast the stones,
The law’s been broken.
Just revenge
is our token.

Cast the stones,
Make them cry.
Let them know
Our rightful pride.

They must see,
Make them know,
How right we are
To cast these blows.

Cast the stones
Accuse, attack!
Let our zeal
Show no lack.

Forgive, show mercy
Offer hope?
I think not.
Don’t make me choke.

So stones of anger
Let us gather
For the sinner
We must batter.

Yes! Cast the stones.
Go ahead.
These the words
The Master said.

And then I saw.
My name he wrote,
and all His laws
I had broke.

Cast the stones
Go ahead
If a sinless life
You’ve led.

So…cast the stones
Yes I will
Stones of mercy
A bridge to build.

Across the gulf
Of fear to cross
A path of hope
From our loss.

Cast the stones,
The way to make
To His Cross,
The path to take.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Attainment or Atonement?

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

They didn’t get it. James and John thought that it was all about status. They asked Jesus that when He came in His glory that they could sit one on the right, one on the left. They sought utlitmate places of status, position, of power. They sought to attain what they believed to be their entitlement. They sought to get what they felt they had coming.
We live in a culture of Entitlement. People want it all, NOW. And many would have it to be understood they deserve the best. Tolerance of suffering may well exist....for others, in other seemingly inferior places or peoples. Sacrifice may well be called for, for earlier generations, or others of different place or time. The cross..well.. yes a pious decoration perhaps, tastefully done of course, but it is not to be too excessive or, (shudder), fanatical.
No the early disciples, initially didn’t get. Sadly nor do we. Unless we are willing to accept Christ, the Suffering Servant, the Great High Priest. We won’t get it unless we are willing to let go of our attainments and seek His atonement.

The peril of attainment has been a hazard of humanity ever since the time of the Garden when our first parents sought to have knowledge that would elevate their place, their status like unto God. Now, so many years hence, the attainment of knowledge, power and control is considered vital proof of success. Seeking of Possession, Place, assumed Power and control have spanned a whole new generation of caste and class. Pears may lie and rot in the orchards, grapes may shrivel on the vine for lack of people either willing to work the fields or to allow those who are willing to come to an area to provide the service of farm work. The commoness of transit for “the masses” makes the struggle to develop alternatives to privately owned and operated cars an uphill battle. Men and women, and whole countries may well sacrifice their lives in a conflict to fuel...perceived entitlements to control and oil. Like James, John and the other disciples..we don’t understand it is NOT about what we have, where we think we deserve to is not about attainment and entitlement. It is about atonement.

The reality of suffering was sadly present when Jesus walked the earth. The politics of the Roman empire, the pride of diverse idolatries had spanned a culture of brutal and tragic ambition. This was compounded by the religious blindness of legalism and pride amongst many of the Jews. Amidst this culture of self Jesus came, lived, suffered and died. The prophet Isaiah foresaw the Messiah who was to come. But the Suffering Servant that the prophet foretold was not whom the Jews were looking for. The Suffering Servant, Christ our Lord, is, to our sorrow, not the One we may want to see either. So we hide behind false walls of self-control and effort.
But suffering happens. Health may decline, relationships may struggle and fail, the sun may not always shine. And it is in those times when we can finally start to understand. It is when we allow the nail-scarred hands of The Servant, Jesus, to pick us up, tend our wounds, to embrace us in our sorrows that we will realize it isn’t about what I have attained. It is about being “at-one” with God.

The place of atonement was well understood by the writer of the book of Hebrews. To be atoned be made “at-one-with” God was the place that God longs for all to find. In the provision of Heaven we are given The Great High Priest, Jesus the Suffering Servant. It is to Him who knows well the temptations, the tests of being human that we are to come. It is to this Great High Priest who understands you and I, understands our weaknesses, tempted in all ways like us, yet..without sin. It is to Him we are to come. And it is in Christ, His holy Blood, His broken Body, that we are made at-one with God, we are made whole.

It is then, as we grow on in His atoning Presence and in the sharing of His sufferings we are made free. We experience freedom from things, possesions, the pressure to succeed and attain. We are set free from self. It is then, in that freedom we can know the simple but real joys of sharing in all that life may bring, whether it be joys or sorrows, triumphs or disappointments.
With Christ's atoning mercy we can know and say with the Psalmist: “ of the kindness of the Lord, the earth is full”

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Catholics and the Bible

“Your Word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet” Ps. 119:105
So prays the refrain from the Psalm for Wednesday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time. The readings for Mass this week clearly proclaim the power and place of God’s Word in the Church. Yet there is an attitude of distancing amongst many Catholics from the Scriptures.
Recently I had opportunity to hear a homily in which some evangelical Christians were roundly ridiculed and mocked for their “only trust Jesus and His Word” simplistic faith. I have experienced modern ‘educated’ Catholics snicker (and worse) when I dare to mention I appreciate studying the Douay Rheims version of the Bible. A group of very faithful, well educated Catholic students were unsure if the Church had always venerated the Scriptures as is the Eucharistic Presence of Christ . Many Catholics will read endless books and articles about the Bible but almost fear actually reading the Bible for themselves. Many priests and religious education teachers are well schooled in teaching what they think should be questioned about Scripture (ah the thrill of critical method) and will do all they can to encourage.....doubt. (For myself, if I am going to er I want to er in faith, not doubt. When Jesus returns will He be looking for faith or doubt?)
Yet there is an intense hunger for the Scriptures, for sound Catholic-Biblical preaching.
While the concept of really trusting the inspired Word of God is suspect to many there are even more who hunger for the Truth they sense God’s Word holds. Why is there this struggle?
Part of the reason is a misunderstanding in some Catholics that Bible reading and study is for the clergy and religious. There is the misconception that only the clergy or religious should speak or teach Scripture. This is an unfortunate error. The Church is the safeguard of Truth. Scripture and Tradition are the teaching gifts of the Church and this does include the clergy, religious and particularly the blessed Magisterium. But correctly understood this gift of God’s Word (and the teachings of sacred Tradition) are for the entire Body of Christ. It is within the Body of Christ that the faithful are called to be reading, sharing, hearing the Bible.
Another factor for some Catholics is probably a response to the Protestant error of “Sola Scriptura” that expresses that the Bible is the only source of inerrant teaching and authority for faith and morals. In other words since we don’t want to sound like a “Bible-thumper” we will refrain from too much Bible study or (shudder) quoting of Scripture. Sola Scriptura is a serious error but perhaps from it we can realize a deeper reason for the is tragic problem.
The devil excels in strife and theft. During the reformation Protestants focused on the Bible and to their loss they increasingly neglected the Biblical Truth of the Eucharist. The Roman Catholics, while adhering to the Eucharist reacted to the Bible emphasis of the Protestants with an emphasis on the Church and Clergy’s role of safeguarding and teaching. This resulted in the devil seeking to remove the Scripture from the Catholic identity. It also resulted in the extreme dilution of truth of the Eucharist from the Protestant worship. Satan isn’t stupid. The enemy of our souls knows if the Body of Christ, the Faithful fully embrace the Truth of Jesus Christ Presence in the Holy Eucharist and in the Scripture that the power and witness of the Risen One in His people would be unquenchable.
I was a Protestant pastor for 11 years. In the course of following Christ into the Roman Catholic Church I became convinced that it is the most Biblical of the Christian faithful. Together may we take the Light of Christ, the Scriptures, and allow His Spirit to leads us to the Crucified and in His holy wounds, His sacred Body , may we become one in proclaiming in words and actions Jesus Christ is Lord!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Grieve not the Holy Spirit

Cyber-version of my homily for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time


Rare is the person who does not enjoy the fragrance of fresh baked bread. The smell of bread fresh out of the oven implores one to take a warm slice and to taste and see that it is good. Our Bible readings today share that very experience as we are called to Christ, The Bread of Life and to taste and see that He is good. But that does not always seem to be the reality. What goes wrong? The answer can be discovered in the kitchen and in today’s Scripture.
Anyone who has made bread knows the importance of the yeast. It must be fresh and it must be activated by the right temperature of water when it is mixed with the flour. Water too hot can kill the yeast. Water too cold can hinder the yeast from growing and leavening the dough. St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said: “grieve (or 'quench') not the Holy Spirit...”, or in other words, quench not Christ, the Bread of Life.
Today also we have a very important letter in our bulletin from our Bishop Walsh about the recent new sorrow in our Diocese regarding Fr. Ochoa. In this candid letter Bishop Walsh shares how he erred by yielding to fear as he faced this new problem. Our Bishop experienced what we each has at times felt in our life, that of the Spirit of God being quenched, in this case by fear. As Scripture testifies it has happened before.

In our Old Testament reading we see the prophet Elijah in the depths of despair. He has just confronted and seen slain a number of false, demonic prophets. Now the idolatrous queen Jezebel hs set out to kill Elijah. He is afraid for his life. This is compounded by his simple physical hunger and exhaustion. So the Spirit-inspired prophet quenches the Holy Spirit in his flesh-fueled fear and despair. And so do we whenever we yield to the fears and very real needs of the flesh. What are you afraid of? The violence that is afflicting our world? The increasing ecological stresses in our environment? The pressure on your family life? Lack of financial security? Health issues? These are very real fires of fear that could quench the Spirit and Presence of Christ in our lives.

St. Paul in writing to the Ephesian church addressed other challenges to the Holy Spirit working in through Bread of Life. The young Church in Ephesus was beset with inner strife. Simply put the passions of the flesh and of pride were filling the lives of the Christians with jealousy, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. There was also a surge of finger-pointing, blame and criticism...sound familiar? In this elevating of pride and self the Holy Spirit was hindered from guiding healing, and empowering the people of Christ.

Finally in the Gospel we see the Jews balking at the Words of Christ as He taught and shared the Truth...He, His Body is the Bread of Life. This was not a figurative, symbolic truth. He clearly said: "my Body is real food, my Blood is real drink". The listeners could not hide their unbelief. This chapter reports that this is the time when many of those listening turned away and left Christ. His truth was just too much for their minds to understand. They wanted to focus and accept only what they saw (His family) and what their silly futile intellectual pride could embrace. So...the Spirit was quenched and their love grew cold.

In our own day we see flesh, fears, money and pride all confirm the tragic reality that the Spirit of God can indeed be quenched. So do we despair? Should we just throw in the towel as Elijah was ready to do?

We must listen, seek, and yield to the Truth that sets us free. In yielding to Christ, God, who is Love, we can hear and know the truth of our own frailty and needs. We then can share the forgiveness and redemptive love and mercy that is Christ. Nourished by the true Bread from Heaven, Christ, we can clear away the clutter of stuff and bother that hinders the Holy Spirit from filling these temples with the power of His Holy Presence and purpose. Then in the strength of Christ we can share the sweet fragrance of of the Bread of Life to those who hunger. Our actions and our words will call out..”taste and see the goodness of the Lord”.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Summer Heat

Summer Heat

Summer heat presses down,
causing many souls to frown.
Long forgotten winter rains,
‘too cool, too wet’ we complained.
Now we’re hot and can’t cool off,
as summer heat presses down,
wilts the flowers,
burns the ground.

Global warming, many mocked.
Now they wonder and take stock.
Is it funda-vironmentalist ranting?
or can it be actually happening?
So as comfort levels are confronted
As we swelter and we wonder
summer heat presses down,
causing many souls to frown.

Perhaps our Creator would want to speak.
Might that God our soul does seek.
Oil and gas you do seek.
More and more, and make it cheap.
for power is what we want.

But in humanity’s selfish greed,
Yes, we cause the earth to bleed.
All creation groans and cries
to be set free from selfish pride.

So as summer heat presses down,
Let us pray instead of frown.
Yes it's Oil and Power,
we must seek,
but not in greed and havoc wreak.

Holy Spirit, Oil of God,
Guide and lead us in the love,
And the power from above.
for all of life Your stewards be
to nurture and creation free.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What are you looking at? or The Focus of our Faith

Homily 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ Cyber-version

I was a teenager learning to drive a stick shift. But this was no fancy synchromesh tranny. It was an old, 3-speed stick on the column in a 1960 Ford pickup. An old, used Ford pickup. The clutch and tranny were fussier than a newly trained liturgist. To add to my driving pleasure and my Dad’s stress as he taught me, the steering was sloppier than a liturgist who has forgotten their important lessons. So picture it..I was driving down the country road, approaching a curve, and a one lane bridge when coming the other way is another car, a new, fancy car Dad calmly (or so it seemed to me) said.”.just keep your eyes on the road, on where you need to go.”..Somehow I downshifted, steered and made it across the bridge without hitting the walls, the other car or driving into a ditch. I was learning to keep my focus. This brings us to focus on the Gospel.
“So He was not able to perform any mighty deeds there...He was amazed at their lack of faith”. This sad commentary from our Gospel reading shares with us a lesson of the peril of misplacing the focus of our faith. Our Bible readings challenge us..WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? What is the focus of your faith?

LOOKING ALL AROUND: Jesus, God, come in the flesh was essentially handicapped in today’s Gospel account from doing any of the real dynamic works of His Kingdom. Why? The people in his hometown were looking at everything but what really mattered. They focused on family, the past, their limited knowledge. They looked to their expectations. They were simply focused on the externals. This is a vision problem we all must confront. We may be tempted to focus on the faults, the problems or our expectations or the appearances of an issue. All these things need to be recognized, dealt with and then we need to move on. But we can’t afford to be looking for the foolish distractions that hide what, Who is real.

FOCUSING INWARD: Our reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church helps us understand another hazard to our spiritual eyesight. Paul the Apostle, struggled with some deep, pervasive weakness. Scripture does not elaborate what it was and while scholars have enjoyed speculating the specific problem is unimportant. What is important is the lesson Paul allow his need, his weakness to be an opportunity for the grace of Christ. To put it another way. Paul learned to look beyond is inner-self, his need, to the grace and strength of the Crucified. And yet how we cherish our inner struggles. We myopically gaze in hypnotic fascination on self...our needs..our wounds..our expectations or hopes and all the while we miss the opportunity to see anew, more clearly He who arose to meet our deepest need.

LOOKING TO CHRIST: The Psalm proclaims..our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy. It is as we allow ourselves to seek and behold Christ, His holiness, His Love that we see our utterly foolish all the other things we focus upon can be. In the Light of His Truth, His Presence that we can start to see what is truly real, important, eternal. In that light we see, clearly the need we all share for His mercy. And it is as we seek His face we can know the sorrow of His tears when one of us falls or His smile when we share the embrace of His forgiveness. Let us seek Him then. Otherwise we face the peril of missing our Lord. St. Augustine understood this peril when he said” “I am afraid of Jesus passing. “ The people of Nazareth were missing an opportunity of eternity by their distractions. Jesus would not, nor will not, overstay His welcome. He abides where He is welcome.

So...What are we looking at? Looking all around? Focusing inward? Or looking to Christ? Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full into His wonderful face.
And the things of earth
will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Courage or Fear?

Courage or Fear? This is a question faced by firefighters virtually every time the tones sound and a dispatch comes in. Firefighters are recognized for their courage. Many of the calls that come in are "routine" medical assists, accidents or fires. That routine can change in a fraction of a second as any experienced fireifghter knows. Hence the demand for courage is always there for firefighters. Whether waking up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night or hastily wrapping up an equipment inspection midday firefighters can face an array of dangers in rapidly changing moments.
The picture of the firefighter on a roof, in a venting operation illustrates this point. There are numerous dangers to face, the height and pitch of the roof, smoke, heat, flames, the danger of the roof collapsing, the saws used to cut the opening...all illustrate SOME of the dangers that have to be faced IF the job at hand is to be done. The need for courage is experienced quickly and often repeatedly, on a single call. It leads to a basic point of firefighting: conquering the challenge. This is usually expressed in controlling and extinguishing the fire, the medical emergency or whatever crises is manifested.
The reality of facing fear and conquering the challenges of life is something I have observed and known, both as a firefighter, a clergyman, parent, or more simply a human. It is especially as Christians and particularly as Roman Catholics that privileged reality is being felt in mnay ways.
The second picture of a church in flames illustrates my point. There would be those who see this picture as a church being destroyed. In fear (or perhaps for some, in glee) they would wring their hands and lament (or applaud) the flames.
Once again in my own Diocese of Santa Rosa a new allegation of sexual abuse by a priest presents flames to be faced. The priest involved has sadly succumbed to fear and apparently fled to Mexico. This is very wrong, yet very human. Guilt, especially when compounded by a virtual witch-hunt mentality as commonly preached by our local paper, The Press Democrat, makes the demand for courage even more difficult. That dread and desire to flee is also being felt by many of the faithful.
The reality of fear is faced by many, in diverse fronts. The problems above are just one example. The fear may be more personal. Sickness, financial needs, family struggles, relationships, job or education demands, all are examples of fears we face in life. And for the individual confronted by the flames of their fears it can be as searing as standing on a roof needing to be vented amidst smoke and flames. So what is the answer, what is the solution?
I can only share what I have known to work, in the middle of a fire or whatever the fear might be. The answer is not a solution, but a Person, Christ Jesus. "THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE BUT PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR...FOR GOD DID NOT GIVE US A SPIRIT OF FEAR, BUT OF POWER AND LOVE AND A SOUND MIND" { I John 4:18 & II Timothy 1:7}. We cannot be courageous except in a frightening situation. It is in those places we can reach out and know the arms of the Crucified about us. God will not allow anything to cross the path of the faithful that would separate us from His love. All things can be for our good and His Kingdom, if we persevere in loving, courageous faith {Romans 8}. In His Presence and Truth fears can and needs be faced and conquered.
Let's look again at the picture of the church in flames. Is it a church destroyed? Or is it a Church consumed by the fire of God's courageous love? A church in flames or a church that will know the power of the Resurrected One? Will we respond in courage or fear?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Feast of the Holy Trinity

Homily (Cyber-version) for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, 11 June 2006


In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Alright...Let’s do it again but this time close your eyes and picture your greatest distraction. Perhaps a problem, a need, a person, and event..whatever it is, now picture it in your hand. And, let’s PRAY again,

In the name, of the Father,.......of the Son,........and of the Holy Spirit......Amen..

It is as we pray that our hands that were holding our distractions had to open, and, in taking and making the sign of the Cross we reached God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Today is the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. One God, three persons, the Holy Trinity. The specific word is never mentioned in Scripture. However the truth of the Trinity is found from Genesis to Revelation . The Holy Trinity will never be explained or understood to the limited, finite capacities of our human intellect. God is too infinite, to big to fit. We are called by God, not to an intellectual understanding of the Trinity but to know, by relationship, by experience, the Triune God. We are called to be baptized, immersed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Baptized in the Father’s Love: St. Paul speaks of the working of God whereby we are freed to call out Abba, Father. From our wilderness wanderings as children who have strayed to a loving daughter or son who eagerly calls out to their papa upon seeing them the relationship is meant to be one of Love. We are created for and called to be immersed in the love of the Father. This love understands the needs and weaknesses, strengths and talents, of each and every child and yearns for that child to grow to the fullness of life for which they were, in love, created. Yet there will be those who say: “ I cannot relate to God the father was cruel, distant, can I know God the Father of which you speak?” We all can know the Father’s love as we are immersed in the Passion of His Son, our Savior.

Immersed in the Savior’s Passion: It is in the infinite mercy of God that we are brought to be immersed in the Passion of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.
It is as we allow ourselves to come to the Cross of Christ, touch and enter His wounds that we are immersed in Him. In His Body and Blood, Present in the Holy Eucharist for our lives, our wounds are healed, filled with the fullness of God. Wound, by wound, need by need, day by day the holy flood of His Passion and Love will immerse and fill our lives as we yield to Him. As we make the sign of the Cross we need to truly let go of all our distractions and be filled in His embrace. As we grow in the Father’s love, are immersed in the passion of His Son we will know the fullness of Truth in the Holy Spirit.

Filled with the Holy Spirit: Old Testament example and New Testament promise teach us that we are each to be Temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit longs to dwell within, fill us with the power, the Truth that is in God alone. One of the clear indications of the working of the Holy Spirit is the way the Comforter will lead us to the Truth..that sets us free.
In the cleansing, liberating confines of the Confessional we can especially know and experience this working of God who knows us, loves us and sets us free to be filled with the joys of Heaven.
We are called to be immersed, baptized in the Love of the Father, the Passion of His Son and the Truth of the Holy Spirit. This occurs as we pray, from the heart...

In the name of the Father, ....the Son, .....and the Holy Spirit..... Amen.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Feast of St. Ephrem

St. Ephrem ~ "The Harp of the Holy Ghost"
Today is the Feast of St. Ephrem. He is one of the more obscure of the saints (except perhaps in the Syrian church). I sense this relative obscurity does not trouble St. Ephrem in his heavenly home in the least. However his spirituality has much to teach us today. His legacy is shared in virtually every parish and church in the world every time we worship our Lord.
St. Ephrem (306-373 A.D.) was one of the first doctors of the Church in spite of his relative lack of schooling. He was, however, deeply schooled in the Scriptures that resulted in powerful insights into the mysteries of God and in sharing Godly wisdom. St. Robert Bellarmine wrote of the saint that he was; "more pious than learned". It was this piety, rooted in God's Word, and prayer that brought forth a harvest of wisdom and teaching.
St. Ephrem was a prolific writer and teacher. He expressed this fruitfulness usually in poetic form. He wrote many ancient hymns. It was this early 'troubador of the Lord' that is credited with introducing sacred song into Christian public worship.
In many ways he was a saint in the model of St. Francis of Assisi. His intense appreciation of the Passion of our Lord, humility, love of Scripture and relative poverty of worldly learning were all precursers of St. Francis.
St. Ephrem, relatively late in his life, was ordained a deacon in the Church. For me, all deacons, and all the faithful he is a real and practical example of learning and living the Gospel of Christ.
St. Ephrem, pray for us that we may learn and live the ageless wisdom and power of God's Word. Amen.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Pentecost ~ The Gift of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God

Holy Spirit, consume and purge all that is not of You, in me.
Holy Spirit, may Your holy fire burn to ash the dry, deadwood of our lives,
Holy Spirit, ignite within us the Passion of Christ, His Cross, His love,
Holy Spirit, may your flame of Truth help us to see our wounded self in Your Light,
Holy Spirit, may that same Truth guide us to the wounds, the Body of Christ, and entering in,
Holy Spirit there may we discover, daily, the beauty of your holiness the glory of Your love.
From there, Holy Spirit, empower us to live and share that same holy love wherever You lead.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Feast of the Ascension of Christ
Here is a cyber-version of my homily.

Alfie, was a dog we had for several of the earlier years of our family. He was a black cocker/over the back fence mix. When my wife and I picked him up as a wee pup we met his mom. She was the cocker, very sweet, intelligent and loved to play ball. Alfie was a very good, sweet, loving dog. He was great with kids, adults and other creatures, accepting each for who they were. But...Alfie was not smart. If you threw a ball he would look at you with his simple dog smile, wag his tail..and that’s about it. He never would have run a canine agility course, be a service dog or take part in a dog show. He was, simply, Alfie. My wife and I used to think of the song..”what’s it all about Alfie?” when observing his expressions of puzzlement about the complex stuff of dog life.
I suspect that the disciples had Alfie-like expressions on their faces as they witnessed our Lord ascend to the heavens. As the angels came and asked them what they were looking for they probably were wondering....”what is this all about?”. They had witnessed Jesus develop the Gospel in three years of miraculous ministry. They had travailed through His Passion. The horror, sorrow and disappointment of His death almost destroyed their faith, their lives. Then the resurrection, joy, fear, experiences that defied any comprehension and now....Jesus was gone. Defying gravity, sin, death and fear He literally ascended the clouds and returned to Heaven. He had instructed them clearly: wait for the promised Holy Spirit. I will empower and be with you always to guide and confirm my Gospel through your words and actions....but he was gone. What was happening?

Our Lord’s ascension is about the places, provision, and purpose of God. This event occurring between the resurrection and Pentecost culminates the incarnation, the epiphanial journey of Christ. It leads the Church and the believer to carry on that journey and work of Christ the King.

Places of God: The ascension completes the journey of Christ that begun with His incarnation, His birth and years in the fullness of humanity. Jesus, God, come in the flesh has conquered sin and death and now returns to the Father, to His heavenly throne. Journeying from the womb of Mary, through years of humanity to the depths of Sheol He now is home returning in joy to the embrace of the Father and the infinite joy of the Holy Spirit. But that is not all. St. Paul in writing to the Ephesians and Colossians declares that we are seated with Him in Heavenly places..that your hearts may be enlightened...that you may know His call..the riches of His glory. Our Lord’s ascension expands the spiritual geography, the places of our hearts to prepare and enable us for the Kingdom of Christ.

Provision of God: Jesus, in returning to the Father, opened the gates of Heaven to a fullness of the provision of God. The love, the glory, the beauty of His holiness, being so infinite simply needed to expand to all creation. In ascending Christ enables the the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of each believer and hence fill the Church. In that same provision and promise of the Holy Spirit He enables to fullness of His Eucharistic Presence to be shared and known in an ever growing tide of grace and mercy. From the single table in the upper room the provision of God is expanded with the ascension so that today, in every church at every holy altar of Christ another leaf is added to the table that was once in that upper room.

Purpose of God: With God’s places expanding, and His provisions shared we are brought to realize that in the ascension we are called to know and share the very purpose of God. As He bring us to the places and riches of Heaven we are called to share that very wealth. To know and experience the healing of His mercy, the joy in His redemptive embrace is but the beginning. We each, and together , are then called to share His ascended Presence with every creature allowing the truth the He is with us to be expressed in our actions and words.

So what’s it all about? Why did Christ come and then return to Heaven? Alfie was a simple dog. He shared our place, enjoyed our provisions, and faithfully loved in his own unique, uncomplicated way. Perhaps he was smarter than we realized.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

St. Paschal Baylon
17 May 2006

Today is the feast day of St. Paschal Baylon. This humble Franciscan would shun any adulation and therefore would not be concerned about the fact he is not well known in current times. Yet in prayerfully heeding his life and spirit I sense he would yearn to share with many today that which he shared while serving our Lord in Spain in the late 1500’s.
St. Paschal Baylon was born on the Feast of Pentecost, 24 May 1540, in Torre-Hermosa Spain. He grew up a rather poor shepherd boy and as a young man entered the Franciscan order. Although only a lay brother and poorly educated he did nurture a deep love and knowledge of Scripture. This combined with a deep love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament resulted in a man of rather simple yet very practical and powerful faith. Although never rising in social status above the task of friary doorkeeper many sought his prayers, counsel and friendship. He died in 1592 and was canonized in 1690. This Patron Saint of eucharistic confraternities and congresses is a saintly friend to spend time with especially in times of Eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
What would St. Paschal share with us today? I believe his message would be the same now as it was in his time in Spain. To know, love and serve Christ, faithfully, courageously is what matters most. If we are struggling with the affairs of this world we would do well to come to Christ in prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, and prayerfully read and listen to His Word, the Scriptures, and then simply trust and serve Him our crucified and risen Lord.
St. Paschal, pray for us!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


The following is a cyber version of my homily for this weekend.

This 4th Sunday of the Easter season the Scriptures present us with a resurrection-powered challenge. In the first reading from Acts, from St. Peter’s sermon we hear that in Jesus Christ..”There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under which we are saved” Further readings from God’s Word proclaim that we are called to be and become God’s children, through the leading of Jesus, the good shepherd. These truths are enhanced in our parish this weekend by two other facts. This weekend has been set aside by our Pope to be a World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We also are blessed to celebrate at our 10:30 Mass First Communion for our young ones. All these things present to us this vital resurrection challenge: Are we bridges or barriers for Christ our Shepherd?

Living our Holy Communion:
As we receive our Lord, present in the Holy Eucharist we are each called to enter into His holy wounds. In coming to Him in our brokenness, our woundedness, we can enter into and know His wholeness and holiness. As we allow His sacred Body to heal, as we allow His Holy Blood to nourish us in His redeeming love we then can know His Body being made whole. We can be and become His children, reaching out to others, wounded, hungering and in need of...Him. In the Presence of His love the walls of fear can be conquered, bridges of truth and mercy can be built.

Following our Vocation:
This Sunday we pray for vocations, especially to the priesthood and religious life. The callings of God are clear and plentiful. We need to pray for men and women , for ourselves to heed their vocation, to follow Christ our Shepherd. Now more than ever we need those who will faithfully heed the call to follow and proclaim Christ's Presence and Truth in their lives and words. The importance is not in the specific role. The importance is in our being faithful in our relationship with Him allowing Him to reach out to those He brings into our lives building bridges of His redeeming love.

Sharing the Shepherd
In living our communion with Christ, in following our vocations, we are called to follow and share our Shpeherd. This brings us to recognize and experience that there will be those who don't tread the same path we trod. There may well be those whose beliefs we may not agree with or understand, whose lives and actions may not adhere to our convictions. Does it matter? Is the answer in blind tolerance? or angry fear? The answer is in Christ. As we remember there are sheep of other folds we can then learn to share our Shepherd. We can know that while Christ is the only way to the Father, there are many paths to Christ. Paths that need bridges not walls built for the Savior.

Are we bridges or barriers for Christ? The answer will be found as we each seek, together, to live, in faith-filled love our communion with Christ and each other. It will be known as we seek to heed and follow in loving courage, the Shepherd of our lives in His vocation for our life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

St. Boniface & the Homeless

These photos of St. Boniface Church in San Francisco (from the San Francisco Chronicle) and their outreach to the homeless speak volumes. What do they say to you?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday ~ The Way of the Cross ~ God's way of Forgiveness

The season of Lent has come to a close. We are in the midst of the three holiest of days in our faith. As we anticipate and prepare to celebrate the joy of our Savior's resurrection we may be tempted to leave behind the call to take up our crosses and follow Him. As we witness the conflicts and strife in our world let's follow, even more closely, our Lord in the Way of the Cross, the Way of Forgivness in His redemptive love, the way of the resurrected One.

The Way of Forgiveness in Christ & His Cross

First Station: Jesus is Condemned
We Adore You...
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...For the Jews demand signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. I Cor. 1:18, 22-24

Heavenly Father, like the Jews we want proof to satisfy our finite senses. Like the Gentiles we want knowledge to gratify our intellectual pride. As we come to your Son help us realize that we cannot contain or comprehend the love, the mercy, the life you call us to share.
Forgive and free us to follow you our God and Savior.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Second Station: Jesus takes Up the Cross
We adore You...
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord... Ac. 3:18-20

Jesus, Lord, you take your cross showing us the path and way of repentance. Lord as we, with you, take our cross help us let go of our sins, of anything that hinders us from knowing and loving you. It is in your Presence, at your holy cross, we find the fullness of life you created us to know. It is there we find the path to you and your Kingdom of truth and love.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Third Station: Jesus Fall the First Time
We adore...
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it...The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps. 34:14 & 18

Holy Spirit, open our eyes to recognize the reality and sorrow of evil that caused you to stumble and fall. Forgive us for pretending or for trying to excuse the lies of sin and deception our enemy offers. Spirit of God lead us to the power of your peace, and the fullness of your mercy. Heal the brokeness of our hearts by your Presence. Restore those crushed in spirit by the embrace of love.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory Be...

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
We adore...
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my Spirit. Joel 2: 28-29

Blessed Mother as you saw your son, struggling with his cross, as you came to him in your sorrow your broken heart was filled with His Spirit. That same Spirit longs to fill and flow through our hearts and lives as we embrace the freedom of the cross. Holy Spirit fill our lives with your truth and love, empty us of all that is false and selfish.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
We adore...
But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world...Peace and mercy be upon all who follow this rule. Gal. 6:14 & 16

Jesus, like Simon we sometimes face the cross thrust into our lives. You let us choose to follow you and take our cross, or to deny you and that which you would offer. Lord, may our glory, our pride be found only in you. May we share the truth of your peace and the power of your mercy in the journey of our lives .

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be..

Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
We adore...
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. II Chron. 7:14-15

Jesus, Savior, with eyes of humble faith help us to seek your face. In the beauty of your holy smile may we know your forgiveness for our ignorance and failures, for our sins. Jesus the gift you let us share, to bring a smile to your face, that knew such suffering, to bring joy to our angels who strive so hard for us, by simple repentance and trust in you, as we pray:

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time
We adore...
Have mercy on me O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Ps. 51:1-2

Heavenly Father, we pray with King David for your mercy. Cleanse us of anything that would cause my sister or brother, or me, to stumble or fall. May the nail-scarred hands of your Son wash away the grime of this world and the lies of the deceiver that have stained our souls.
Lord we thank you for the freedom of your forgiveness. May we live that freedom for you and your Kingdom.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Weeping Women of Jerusalem
We adore...
Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Ps. 51:8-11

King of Kings, struggling up Golgothas hill you met the women of Jerusalem. Days before they had come to meet you with praise and palms. Their joy had been robbed as they yielded to the doubts and fears of the masses. Lord of the cross, forgive us for allowing our faith to falter, for trusting our fears more than your love. Jesus free us, to simply love and trust you and your word.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Ninth Station: Jesus Fall the Third Time
We adore...
Behold thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord we get so cluttered. We carry such silly burdens of the stuff of life. All the worries and grudges, resentments and fears we cling to make us stumble and bring sorrow to you. Lord the false light of our pride of achievement or abilities simply blinds us from seeing you and ourselves. Jesus we are sorry. Forgive us. Help us to learn that you set us free from the burdens of this world to take our cross with you. You open our eyes to see the gift of who we truly are, created for and restored in your love.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
We adore...
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him speech and my message were not plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I Cor. 2:2, 4-5

Jesus, what did you think as they stripped your clothes from your beaten and bleeding body? Fear? Embarrassment? Shame? Yet, in your holiness and love you must have felt ...sorrow. Lord in stripping off our pride and excuses, in simple repentance, we are afraid, embarrassed, ashamed. But Lord in your Presence we find we can be clothed in mercy, filled with forgiveness and sharing in the beauty and joy of your holiness. Jesus may the truth of your love calls us to you and to your cross.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
We adore...
One of the criminals who were hanged railed upon him saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us! But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong”. And he said: “Jesus, remember me when you come in your Kingly power”. And he said: “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”. Lu. 23:39-43

Savior, as the nails pierced your body you heard the cries of the fallen being crucified with you. You heard the cries of all of us, who have failed and sinned. In your pain and anguish you carried the pain and anguish of all those pierced by sin. You brought to all who call out to you, in simple repentance, the promise of the Paradise of your Kingdom, the truth of your forgiveness and love.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies On the Cross
We adore...
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty will say to the Lord, “my God in whom I trust”. Ps.91:1-2

Holy Savior, mercy-filled God, in the shelter of your cross we find peace. Jesus in the Presence of your broken Body we find your holy love that fills us with... You. Savior, for all the times we trust in self, the emptiness of the world, or our fears and failures, forgive us. Jesus you are our God in whom we trust.
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross
We adore...
For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done what is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgments. Ps. 51: 3-4

Heavenly Father, as they took the Body of your Son from the cross you saw the sorrow and fear of his disciples. For the only time of eternity you felt the emptiness of your Son separated from you, by our sins. And, Father God, you saw our fears and sorrows. You saw the emptiness of our lives apart from you and apart from each other. And you saw the holy blood shed for our forgiveness and healing. You saw your Son, Jesus, our hope, as we turn to you in prayer.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
We adore...
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him”. Ac. 2:38-39

Holy God, at the tomb it is so quiet.
Yet in the silence we can hear the hope and promise of your resurrection, the promised fullness of your Holy Spirit.

Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

St. Anthony of Padua & The Cross

Saint Anthony of Padua said: "Extending his arms on the cross like wings, Christ embraces all who come to him sheltering then in his wounds."
The cross beckons in the darkness of our woundedness of sin to Christ. In his wounds, at his cross we find shelter, healing and wholeness. This season of Lent let's pray that all those struggling in life may find the peace and healing that Christ longs to provide. Together let's surrender anew to His wounds.

His call to love he heard anew,
Surrender made that clear.
His broken heart in trust
He offered up without fear.

The tears and broken heart,
he gave in simple hope,
That Loves dawn
shine through
and brighten
others dark nights.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Spiritual Warfare

There is an interesting post on another Christian website, Bob Larson Ministries, that describes a profound meeting that took place recently at the Vatican. Bob Larson is a Protestant Christian minister that is quite active in the ministry of exorcism. He describes his meeting with the Vatican's chief Exorcist, Father Gabriel Amorth,( ). This prayerful meeting, I am convinced, has caused great joy in Heaven and intense fear and consternation in Satan's legions.
Spiritual warfare is a reality affirmed in Scripture (Eph. 6:12-20). It is intensely evident in the harsh and graphic warfare of the spirit seen in our world today. The blindness, hatred and violence expressed in the bloody Islamic reactions to cartoons, the greed, corruption and violence that fuels the wars in the oil soaked mideast, the scandels in the church (Catholic and protestant), the battle for the family (divorce, materialism, hedonism and sexual promiscuity), abortion, the false gospel of SELF, all of these and many more are powerful examples of Satan seeking to destroy the soul and life of humanity.
Sadly Christians can fall to two common temptations in this conflict. One is to ignore or pretend that this warfare is not real but just the stirrings of ultra-conservative Christians. It seeks to either dismiss the manifestations of evil as only psychological problems or the product of ignorant superstitious minds. The second popular temptation is to over emphasize the power of Satan and yield to fear and doubt. This is evident when Satan is blamed for every disruption or challenge to the harmony of life. It may be fed with virtual superstitious devotions or scrupulosity.
The truth-filled response and teaching of the Church lead us as Christians to rejoice in the victory (and yes the battle) we share in the triumph of Christ achieved at the holy Cross and the resurrection. We need to take the time to prayerfully heed the message of God's Word and His Church: (II Cor. 10:4, Lu. 22:31;; Jn 16:33;; I Jn 5:4 and the many exorcisms shared in the Gospels, done by Christ and in the Book of Acts by His Church; also study the Catechism of the Church, paragraphs:391-395 & 1673).
The meeting of Bob Larson and Fr. Amorth invites and challenges all beleivers to recognize the conflict at hand and to allow the Holy Spirit to unite us, at the Cross, with our Lord, our Blessed Mother and all the saints to grow in the victory of God's grace and redemptive love. Jesus promised Peter that upon this rock He would " my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" Mt. 16:18. Jesus describes a growing, victorious people and faith that would confront and overwhelm the very gates of hell. This battle of holy love is ours, with Christ and His holy angels.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the archangel
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against
the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Friday, January 20, 2006

St. Sebastian

May the same grace that brought St. Sebastian into the arms of Christ through the martyrs path be with us. For those in deep persecution and for all the faithful in their daily spiritual sacrifices, St. Sebastian, pray for us.

by H. Martin
20 January 2006

Body broken, pierced by arrows,
Sebastian knew and felt the sorrow.

Called by God to simply trust,
Faced the hate that doubt did thrust.

Roman soldiers, courage known,
Sebastian something more did own.

Called to serve the King of Kings,
A holy joy his life would sing.

Strength, courage, faith he shared,
with those cringing under persecutors glare.

Strength and character much admired,
the Roman court was inspired.

“Honor Rome, the world is yours”,
Sebastian faced the tempters throne.

Pleasure, pride, senses heed,
let your noble flesh be pleased.

While admired, sought by men,
to serve and be their pleasing friend,

Sebastian heard a greater need,
from the soul of men did plead.

“Fill the empty void I know,
while pleasure, power, pride do flow”.

Empty hearts do ache and long,
for love, for purpose, to belong.

Sebastian heard the desperate plea
and to Christ he did flee.

Finding there Love’s full embrace,
he found the courage with to face.

Doubts and fears, hatred strong,
for those denying Satan’s song.

Called to choose whom to serve,
Sebastian for the Christ did yearn.

Doubt in hate the arrows lust
for his body with killing thrust.

Left to die the martyrs death,
arrows failed his life to quench.

Holy care a sister gave,
life remained, courage brave.

Doubt and hate, pride did hear,
so chose to attack again their fears.

Clubs assailed, the body pierced,
crushing breaking his noble face.

Sebastian’s holy body died.
Sisters, brothers , faithful cried.

Tears of love they did know,
tears of joy even more so flowed.

Sebastian brave, in holy love
shared with us his martyrs blood.

Bringing to all who will,
the hope, the love of Christ to fill.

Persecution still does flow,
from doubt and hatred’s brutal blows.

Called to Christ to love, to live,
in simple faith and courage give.

Our lives in trust and love for Him,
who frees us from the chains of sin.

Free to follow, serve and fight,
in the quest for holy life.

Saint Sebastian for us pray
that with courage we may stay,

Close to our Holy King
So His praise and love to sing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rain, winds, floods, mud and debris ushered in the New Year. While the weather has mostly cleared there is still a lot of clean-up being done. Roads especially take a beating in this sort of weather. from potholes, mudslides and flood damaged bridges we find that the normal path of life can be disrupted. Sometimes this is for a brief period. it may be just an ongoing aggravation as we detour around a slide, a pothole or wash out. Some roads may face extended closures. The picture in this blog is the First Street Bridge over the Russian River just below flood peak. Our neighbors to the south in Geyserville are facing an unknown time of closure of the Hwy. 128 Bridge over the river. It was significantly damaged during the flood.
Having worked "flood duty" for many years (American Red Cross, Twin Hills-Gold Ridge Fire District, Calif. Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection) I was especially constrained to pray for both victims and responders during these challenges. Floods bring many hazards and challenges but one in particular is that they tend to impact those involved for extended periods of time. A fire or accident can be a tragedy that can change lives profoundly. However they tend to be of fairly short duration. The recovery or rebuilding may be extended but the actual crises is usually short, yet painful.
Floods are usually more prolonged in there assault on our lives. They are usually preceded by a stormy siege (in an of itself problem laden). Some floods are gradual with time to prepare and respond. Flash floods can occur very quickly with horrendous results. Here in Northern California we face both. The actual flood can occur for hours, days or even weeks. Then comes the clean-up and rebuilding. That can take years. All this brings about the reality of flood-fatigue. This is the condition that sets in when victims or responders run out of adrenalin and the harsh muck and stench of the damage is recognized.
Storms, floods and the damage and decay they bring are sometimes the seeming condition of life on a broader scale. In personal struggles, family or work challenges we can often face sieges of harsh weather. Then come the actual floods of life. Sickness, financial troubles, relationship losses all can overwhelm and inundate the individual or family. While we may face the early tides of trouble in our own strength,soon we all can face the exhaustion of flood-fatigue.
The pictures at the top of this blog are of our flooding river. While the river was flooding, just to the northeast of the bridge the rainbow appeared. Once again I was reminded that it is in the storms and floods of life that we discover the promises, the strength and provision of Christ. It is in our need, fatigue and weakness that we experience the epiphanies of Emmanuel, God with us.