Homily – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A long time ago, when I was in college, a group of us decided to go on a trip to climb one of the White Mountains. We rented a cabin and got an early start in the morning. I soon learned that I was not in shape for mountain climbing! I soon learned that I was not in shape for mountain climbing! I sat down on a rock outcropping, and told my companions to go own ahead, I would wait for them when they came back down. My classmates were not going to allow it. They literally dragged me up to the summit! And what a view awaited us, the beauty of the White Mountains range, it was breathtaking, it was a spiritual experience.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah is revealing a special mountain, the mountain of the Lord of the hosts. He calls on the people to climb the mountain, to reach the summit, and experience the joy of the Lord. There is promise of healing, the promise of a feast! Something like the feast Jesus described in his parable about the king and the wedding feast. He tells of a powerful king who is having a wedding feast for his son. He invites the important people of his kingdom to come, but they “diss” the king, they insult him by not coming. The king makes those people pay for their insults. And he then calls the common folk to come to the feast.

Many writers of the spiritual life use the metaphor of one climbing the mountain of the Lord, striving reach the summit. Climbing a mountain can be hard, very hard some. The same with striving to live the Gospel, it can be hard, full of challenges spiritually! Some of us may not bother, just stay where we are, live where we are. But if we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we can feel the pull to move on, we will have Jesus walking besides us helping us forward. Every moment we take the time to read and reflect on Scripture; every moment we enter into prayer, every time we come here to worship, to receive the Eucharist and experience intimately the presence of the Lord; we continue the journey upward, towards the summit. There have been those who gone before us, some living, some deceased, who have recorded the experience of their own climb, who can teach, but mostly inspire us onward. Jesus Christ, the King, calls out to us, “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, everything is ready, come to the feast!”

September 11th – Day of Remembrance

Our Lady of Sorrows 91119 years ago today, the United States was forever changed.  Terrorists hijacked four airliners, intending to make suicide attacks on certain institutions of the United States.  Two planes were crashed into the World Trade Center, in New York City, NY.  A third was plowed into the Pentagon, command central of the U.S. military, in Washington, DC.  On the fourth airplane, passengers and crew attempted to take back control of the plane, the terrorists dove the plane into the ground in Pennsylvania.  The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, from the structural damage caused by the crash, and the fires that followed, collapsed in on itself, killing all those trapped inside.  The Pentagon suffered severe damage, and many military and civilian personnel were either killed or injured.  All together, there was 2,977 victims of the attacks, who died.

On the day this happened, I was working in an office, in downtown Boston, MA.  I could listen on a radio, while I worked; so I was listening to public radio news.  I was shocked when I heard of the first plane crash into the Twin Towers.  The historian in me, remembered a similar crash in 1945; when a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber accidentally crashed into the Empire State Building.  But as time went on, and more stories came over the air waves, I could tell that what was happening was no accident.  Further down the street from where our office building was, was another building that housed the Boston Stock Exchange.  In front, they had a display window, that held large TV screens, showing news and how the markets were performing.  I could see a large crowd gathering in front that display window.  The size of the crowd extended out into the street.

Our bosses called us together, gave us a rundown of what was known, and told us to go home.  I stayed for a bit, I know it seems not to make any sense; but I was not going let any act of terror, keep me from doing my work.  It took a nervous call from my wife to get me to stop and leave the office.  Once outside our building, I found streets and sidewalks normally bustling with cars, trucks, and pedestrians, deserted.  Also, deserted was the train station.  The following mornings, when I would be waiting for the commuter train to take me into the city; I looked up into sky.  Normally, I would see a half a dozen contrails of airline jets flying to and from Logan International Airport.  That day, I only saw a few contrails, and they were circling overhead.  They were jet fighters.

There is not much more I remember of those days that followed the tragedy of 9/11.  I know I attended prayer services.  Prayer intentions for the victims and their families were mentioned at Masses I attended.  Little did I know what the long-term effects would be, resulting from those acts of terror.  Two wars, conflicts in the Middle East still being fought, with its share of dead, wounded and families shattered.  And there are still victims of the 9/11 attacks who are dying; dying from the cancers and other illnesses brought on by the smoke and contaminated dust from the Trade Center.

We are now struggling through another crisis; fighting a foe that is invisible, but very, very deadly. And to me, there is a different feeling throughout the country. We are not as united as we were once were against a common threat. Conflicts over individual rights versus the common wellbeing. A government on national, state and local levels splintered over politics; rather than the common good.

However, we still cannot forget those who lost their lives in the attacks; we must continue to remember them.  We must pray for and support the survivors; those who lost love ones; and those who are still trying to deal with the effects of those days on their minds and souls.  And honor to those first responders, in the past, today, and in the future; those who charge forward into danger, when others may flee.

I close this reflection with a prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, asking her intercession for us all in these dangerous times:

Remember, most loving Virgin Mary, never was it heard that anyone, who turned to for help, was left unaided.  Inspired by this confidence, though burdened by my sins, I run to your protection for you are my mother.  Mother of the Word of God, do not despise my words of pleading, but be merciful and hear my prayer.  Amen.

 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.  And let the perpetual light shine upon them.

And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Review of “Christ in Crisis” by Jim Wallis.

In the times we are in currently, all Christians need to read this. Those that do, may not agree, may even strongly disagree with Mr. Wallis; but his words may cause serious thought. Some of the serious questions it raised for me was, how closely do we ally ourselves to a particular government, a particular party? And will that alliance water down the Gospel message? We are challenged to reconsider what it means to be a practicing Christian in today’s world. I have doubts about my own strength, knowledge and faith! It calls for deep reflection and above all prayer.

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rough seas ahead!

1st Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a; Romans 9: 1-5; Matt 14: 22-33

I grew up in the North Shore of Massachusetts. Now, while I was a young boy, my father and one of my uncles’s co-owned a small, wooden outboard motor boat. We would bring it up with us to the Sebago lakes region, where we usually rented adjoining cabins. Now they also used to take the boat out into Lynn Harbor, where they, myself, my brothers and cousins would sometimes go fishing. Now one Saturday, it started out to be a beautiful day. We were just at the entrance of the harbor, almost into the ocean, when suddenly, this squall hit! I mean the waves started getting very big, the boat was bouncing all over the place, as my father and uncle tried to get the boat to an anchorage. After one big bounce, the rear bench we kids were on, suddenly broke, and we were sprawled on the bottom of the boat. What had been an adventure, was turning into something very scary. We finally made it safely to the Nahant town dock. But I will never forget how scared; how really scared I was.

In today’s Gospel, we see the disciples going on ahead of Jesus, by boat on the Sea of Galilee, they also, run into very rough weather, they too were being tossed about by the waves. The fishermen of the group were probably concerned, the landlubbers in the group were probably scared out of their wits. On top of everything else, there is this figure moving towards them through the stormy water, so they think, it’s got to be a ghost, right? Then Jesus calls out “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Now, Peter, wanting proof, asks Jesus to command him to come out and meet him on the water. He probably also wants to show Jesus that he has the right stuff, unlike these landlubbers. And Jesus calls him to come out to him. And he is doing it, up to a point. He suddenly realizes he is walking on water, in the middle of a squall, and he thinks “Holy “bleep!!”; what am I doing out here!!” He begins to sink into waves, and Jesus has to rescue him! So what happened? He had begun to looked at the storm around him, losing sight of Jesus, and giving into his fears! What was it Jesus said to the disciples when they first saw him, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

We are living in frightening times! We see a threat to our health, to our lives that appears invisible, but is very, very real. We see an economy that was once the envy of the world, come crashing down. We have people out there in our community, who are afraid, because they do not know how they will pay bills, buy food, pay rent or mortgage! No matter how much we may deny it, I am willing to bet that everyone one of us feels something of the fear that is abroad in this country, in this world.

“Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peter ran into trouble because he was not focused on Jesus! We can give into fear, if we are not focused on Jesus Christ, the Son of God! We need to become aware of His Presence in our lives, in every moment. We need to really listen and focus on His Word! We are all called to look to the altar, where we see ordinary bread and wine, that will soon become the Body and Blood of Christ! And we will receive Him, and be strengthened by Him for the times that ahead. The problems may not disappear, they may get better, they may get worst. But we are not alone in our struggles, we not alone with our fear; Jesus is with us in this journey. He will always be with us, supporting us in the midst of whatever storm we are in!

“At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Over a Cup of Coffee!!

So, going back to an old blog type; If we were sharing a cup of coffee, I would tell how hard it has been to keep up with the blogging! I can give a bunch of excuses; my laptop went on the fritz; it took awhile to get my new IPad up and running. And I could finally admit that I really having a bad dry spell.

But over a cup of coffee, I would share that on this weekend, here on Cape Cod, I am feeling at least a little inspiration. The Franciscan in me has been more aware of the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds me.

“Praise be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
“Praise be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.”
“Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather, through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.”
“Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Water, so very useful and humble, precious and chaste.”
“Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom You light the night, and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.”

O praise and bless my Lord, thank him and serve humbly and grandly,

Excerpts from The Canticle of the Creatures by Saint Francis of Assisi!

The coffee cup is empty, and time to get ready for the next. May the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

“Hail, O Lady!”

Statue of Madonna and Christ Child. Located in the lobby of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston,MA.

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, Mary, Holy Mother of God, who are the virgin made church and who are the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven, whom he consecrated with his most holy beloved Son and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, and in whom there has been and is all the fullness of grace and every good. Hail, His Palace! Hail, His Tabernacle! Hail, His Home! Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Handmaid! Hail, His Mother!……..And all you holy virtues, who through the grace and illumination of the Holy Spirit have been poured into the hearts of the faithful, so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

This prayer was composed by St. Francis of Assisi.

It Has Been Awhile

It has been a long time since I have tried to create any content on this blog. Since I have been silent, a lot has happened in the World, the Nation, and the Church. Despite all this, I have found it hard to, as one blogger puts it; “Hit those damn keys!”

I have found a group of parishes, a Collaborative, to minister as a Deacon, yet because of my work schedule, I have no time for ministry, outside of a liturgical ministry. Even that is not as available, because each Collaborative parish has it’s own homegrown Deacon. I preach, but getting a homily written is proving to be very difficult. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit has been with me, and my sermons have been well received.

Now, we find ourselves in a time of crisis; a health crisis. The pandemic, that is known as the Coronavirus is sweeping the world. The country is in crisis; the Church is in crisis! And we really do not know yet how it is all going to turn out. Yet the most moving sight for me, was of Pope Francis, alone in a dark, empty, rainswept St. Peter’s Square. He was praying for the people the world, and the Church. He ended the service by going into the basilica, then came out out again, holding a golden monstrance, which held a consecrated Host; the Body of Christ. Making the sign of the cross with the monstrance, bestowing a blessing “Urbi et Orbi;” to the City of Rome and to the World. In spite of the virus, in spite of death, fear, despair; the love of Christ is with us now and forever.

I am typing this on my new IPad; hopefully it will help me be a little more inspired. And be able to make a little more since. May the Lord be with you all. Be safe; be at peace.

Good Pope John

October 11th – Feast of St. Pope John XXIII

“All powerful and ever living God, you called St. John XXIII to guide your people by his word and example. With him, we pray to you; watch over the pastors of your Church, with the people entrusted to their care, and lead them to salvation.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen!

From the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer, Common of Pastors.