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
“Behold, the fiery sun is rising; may blindness at last depart-let us speak nothing underhanded, let us consider nothing dark. To God the Father be glory, and to his only Son, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, for everlasting ages. Amen!” *
*The Little Book of Hours”, Paraclete Press.
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!
The 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.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
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.
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.
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!
Twilight on the campus of Bridgewater State University, MA. Another day draws to a close; another academic year draws to a close. This week, the 2018 commencements will be held. For many students, the twilight of their academic life, and soon, the dawn of a brand new life; with joys and disappointments, uncertainties and hopes.
To the BSU Class of 2018:
May the Good Lord be with you!
May God the Father watch over you and protect you!
May God the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, walk with you on your journeys. May he give you strength and hope!
May God the Spirit, inspire you, guide you, comfort you.
May Almighty God bless you all, now and forever!
Welcome, we are all here to witness something awesome! We have come to witness two unique individuals come forward, and with God’s grace, become one. We are about to witness the power of their love for each other, and the power of God’s love, made present here before us; and that should fill us all with awe!
For that is one of the objectives that a celebration of a sacrament is suppose to accomplish. It is an opportunity to encounter the Divine; through the ordinary objects that our God has created: water, olive oil, bread and wine,..a ring. A sacrament is also a means by which God transforms the individual or individuals who are receiving the sacrament. Through the waters of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, and become born again as a child of God. Through the anointing with holy oil, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and become one with Christ. And in the exchange of rings, which symbolizes the pledge, in love, of a man and a woman to each other, to their union. And it also symbolizes God’s pledge to you both; that He will be with you always.
For God is the source of all life, and of all love. And through His Spirit, that love can fill your hearts, your souls, all the way down into the very depths of your being. The power of God’s Presence within you, the power of His love; will help you experience the joyful times more intensely; will help you through the trying times with more hope. Remember always the description of love we have just heard from the writings of St. Paul:
“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians)
Love will never fail, if we continually open our hearts, and be present to God, the Father. A Dutch priest and author, had a personal revelation; reflecting on when God addressed Jesus, as He was coming up out of the waters of the Jordan River, as His “Beloved.” And He also calls you, me, all of us here, “Beloved.” Whether we have been good or bad; whether we have ignored Him or not; whether we believe in Him or not; He still calls each one of us”Beloved.”
It is by the power of that love; by the gift of His Spirit, that you both have been drawn to this place, to this sacred moment of time. And we have all been drawn here to witness something awesome.
Over a cup of decaf (ugh!) coffee, I will let you know that I have some worries over this upcoming Election Day, and it’s aftermath. Donald Trump’s statement at a rally that he will accept the election results as legitimate, only if he wins; really concerns me. Now, he has tried to tone that statement down; saying he is only keeping possible legal challenges open; but his followers are already convinced the election process is rigged. And there is a very angry electorate out there, on both sides. And we have seen how easy it is for protests to get violent.
Our national elections, with its smooth transfer of power, has been an inspiration to the rest of the world. And many experts, Democratic and Republican, have spoken out about how hard it is to actually rig a national election. There is no central control, but each state has its own election organizers and governing boards. It is hoped that some of these facts filter through to the Trump followers.
This may be, on many fronts, the most challenging election the nation has faced, since the time of Lincoln. But what gives me hope; what keeps me on a more or less even keel, is this phrase from a psalm I remember: “Why are you downcast, my soul? Why groan within me? Trust in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God.” Whether things go well, or go bad, I trust that God will be with me: with all of us. And with his help, as one nation, we will see things through.
The cup is empty, I am ready for bed. See you all next week, over a cup of coffee.