The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

There are moments in history that take place near or on rivers. In ancient times, the Roman general Caesar, took his legions across the river Rubicon, challenging the authority of the Roman Senate; and won. The Roman Republic became eventually the Roman Empire! On December 25, 1776, General George Washington took his rag tag army across the Delaware River, and attacked the British Hessian force in Trenton, NJ, the following morning. His victory at that battle saved the Continental Army from falling apart, and laid the groundwork for ultimate victory. And then there is the River Jordan. In ancient times, twelve tribes, after wandering in the desert together, crossed the Jordan, and were transformed into a united people. And during the Roman occupation, there was John the Baptist, who on the shores of the Jordan River, was proclaiming that the hoped for Messiah was coming, that now was the time for repentance, a time for change. And the symbol for that was to be bathed in the River, to be washed clean. And there was a growing expectation that the Messiah was coming soon. And then one day, a man from Nazareth arrived on Jordan’s shore, and John recognized him, knew who he was; and John poured the waters of the Jordan over him. And Jesus, saw the Holy Spirit descending upon him, heard his Father voice acknowledging him, “You are my beloved Son.” And the journey began, the work of proclaiming the Good News began.


And the work of salvation continues, Jesus continues the work through us who have also been baptized. On the day of our own baptism, the wound we suffered from Original Sin was healed; we were given new life as adopted children of God; we were all joined together in the Body of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, living together in a holy community that is the Church. We all share in it’s mission, given to us by Jesus, to proclaim the Good News, by our words, our actions; and by the example of our own lives; we are all called to give example to others what it means to be a follower of Christ, by the way we ourselves struggle with our faith; how we, as people of faith, relate to others; our families; friends and neighbors, to strangers, the homeless; the disenfranchised in our society; and to people that are not very nice.
When I read in Isaiah; when the Lord, through the prophet, declares “I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind,…” I feel that it is not just the physically blind we are called to open, but also those whose eyes are blinded by prejudice and hatred. To free those who prisoners of greed and selfishness. And to help those who live in the darkness of despair and hopelessness.


That is not to say to that there will not be times when we ourselves may be tempted to give into selfishness, anger, and despair. It is then we should turn to prayer, and the sacraments; namely confession, penance; and the Eucharist, where in we received Jesus Christ through Holy Communion, and are healed and strengthened by his Presence. It is by how we struggle with our own weaknesses and sins; and work to overcome them that we can be at our most prophetic.
Our own baptism is the beginning for each of our own journey of faith. That journey continues, for each of us, each with our own calling, our own approach, to living the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. May the Lord be with all of us on this journey.

Feathered Parishioners

Waiting!

Feathered parishioners waiting for the 4:00 PM Mass to begin last Saturday at St. Peter’s Church in Plymouth, MA!

“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, God made their glowing colors, and made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.

All Things Bright and Beautiful, Text by Cecil Frances Alexander

Unexpected Gift!

An unexpected surprise awaited me when I took my seat on the morning train! This sticker was on the windowsill of my seat. Needless to say, it brought a smile to my face.

Sometimes, God scatters unexpected surprises for us to stumble upon. Whether we encounter them in the world, or deep within our soul; we should be open to them in the moment, and rejoice!

Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola – A Reflection

St. IgnatiusThe story goes, that when I was born, my father put forward an unusual name for me.  He had been a recent graduate of Boston College, an institution founded by the Society of Jesus; also known as the Jesuits.  He had been impressed by these priests and brothers; so much so, that he wanted to name his first born after their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola!  My mother, being of strong willed Irish-Italian stock, basically said: “No way!”

A compromise was struck, my baptismal name was given as “Francis,”  after St. Francis Xavier, SJ, one of the original members of the Society.  My connection with the Jesuits was renewed, when as part of my Deacon formation, I and my classmates attended annual retreats at Campion Hall in Weston MA.  It is a Jesuit run retreat center, as well as a retirement home for their members.  So I began to learn more about the saint, whose name I almost inherited.

St. Ignatius was born in the Basque country of northern Spain.  He originally was raised to be a soldier of Spain.  At age 30, he was seriously wounded in a battle defending a town against an invading Spanish army. One of his legs was broken by a cannon ball, and he was brought back to the family home.  During his recovery, he read the only books available to him; a life of Jesus Christ, and stories about the saints.  Reflecting on what he read, he had a conversion experience.  He dedicated his life, body and soul to Christ.  The path that he took to reach this point, he would eventually create The Spiritual Exercises.  It is a blueprint, a process to help a spiritual director guide a person into a closer, more intimate relationship with God; developing an attentiveness, an openness, and responsiveness to God.

When he was studying at the University of Paris to become a priest, he was also guiding some of his classmates through the Spiritual Exercises.  Inspired by what they experienced, six of them, along with Ignatius, decided to form a company, a society, dedicated to serving the Church, under the direction of the Pope.  Thus was the Society of Jesus formed.  Since that time, Jesuits have traveled the world; as missionaries, educators, writers, parish priests and spiritual directors.  One of St. Ignatius’ spiritual sons would be elected as head of the Catholic Church, our current Pontiff, Pope Francis.

St. Ignatius, has been recognized as more of  a founder and organizer of a powerful religious community; and not so much as a mystic, except perhaps within the Jesuit communities themselves.  That has been changing, more diocesan priests, religious, and laypersons have taken the Spiritual Exercises, and it has enriched their spiritual lives.

Prayer for Generosity

Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

You Are Not Alone.

This sign appeared recently on the platform of the commuter rail station I go to. I do not know if it’s appearance had been planned for a time, or is in response to the spate of celebrity suicides that have hit the news recently.

These suicides should be a wake up call that there are many persons out there, family and friends, neighbors and coworkers, and fellow citizens; who are deep pain. They are suffering from depression, hopelessness, and despair. They believe they are alone, and they feel they cannot bear the burden any more; and they see death as the only source of relief.

It is up to all of us to give support, and care to our suffering brothers and sisters. To let them know that they are not alone.

Some of us may have the gift of providing counseling. Some may be able to be the one who listens. A welcoming handshake, a hug, or a hand on the shoulder; could make all difference.

God will make visible those opportunities to help. The Holy Spirit will give us those gifts we will need. And Jesus will be walking with us. At that very least, we can pray for those who tempted to commit suicide; for the souls of those who have; and the families they have left behind. May the love of God dispel the darkness, and bring hope to those who need it.

Mother’s Day – 2018

My mother, Margaret “Marna” Burke Jones, was born on July 30, 1927.  She passed away on June 8, 2013.  She gave birth to six children, of which I was the first.  She, with my father, Bill, raised us all with love and care; always there for us.

She is buried with my father, in a simple, beautiful cemetery in Peabody, MA.

Mon and Dad's Resting Place

One of my brothers left flowers at the gravesite for Mom, and took this picture!

In her memory; and for all mothers, living or deceased, I offer this prayer I came across on the Web:

A MOTHER’S DAY PRAYER

I said a Mother’s Day Prayer for you, to thank the Lord above for blessing me with a lifetime of your tender-hearted love.  I thank God for the caring you have shown me through the years, for the closeness we have enjoyed, in time of laughter and of tears.

And so, I thank you from the heart, for all you have done for me, and I bless the Lord for giving me the best mother there could ever be!

(Author unknown)

Holy Mother and Child