God’s love letter

Stained-glass window above the altar - St. Mary's Visitation Church - Elm Grove, WI

Again, another finely-woven tapestry— heartfelt, hopeful, joyful— shared in a way that’s relatable, light-hearted, and memorable.  The message is more than words, more than sentiments; it’s an invitation to love.

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and edited, was delivered by Fr. Joseph Craft at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

My brothers and sisters, our readings today are spectacular.  Have you ever had a day when you’ve looked up and said, “I’m burdened with the cares of this world and I just don’t know why, but I feel like the weight of the world is on top of me?”  Or am I the only one who’s had a day like that?  Well, then, we are just so blessed with our readings today.

Our first reading reminds us of Moses in Exodus.  It’s this wonderful moment when God reveals himself and his name.  What an incredible name: I am who am.  How we say that in the Church is: “Yesterday, today, and forever, God is always the same.”  That God who created.  That God who will be from the very beginning to the very end.  That God who is in love with you.  And I hope this stops you cold in your tracks.

Let’s slow this down for a minute.  Have you ever been in a situation where you grew up like I did with not too much money in the house?  And, at some point, you said, “I sure wish I had a rich uncle that I don’t know about.”  Maybe that family line you hear about in your heritage?  Maybe you’re related to a king way back, and there’s still some money someplace?  Well, guess what?  That is the God of I am.  And, in today’s gospel, he said, “Come to me, all you who are labored, and I will give you rest.”

We need to break this apart to fully understand.  When he says “come to me,” did you notice where this rabbi is?  He’s not waiting for you to figure things out while he waits in the temple.  He’s actually out there looking for you and me in our streets.  He’s come to our world and taken on our flesh, breaking down the barrier that was set up when our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into original sin.

When he says “come to me,” what you need to hear is: “I have been looking for you your entire life.  Come to me.”  He calls out as a lover to his beloved, like a bridegroom seeking a bride.  But it must be a free act of your will to say, “Yes.  I will go to you, Lord.”  He will never force us.

Someone shouts at him.  “What’s the kingdom of heaven like?”  And he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a bridegroom long delayed.”  That’s Christ.  And he’s looking for his bride.  That’s what we hear.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.”

Maybe that was in reference to the six-hundred-thirteen commandments the Jewish people contended with in the time of Moses?  Maybe it’s trying to keep all the commandments of the church today?  Maybe it’s just living in a world today where we have to pay bills to be able to eat?

He says, “I know your plight.  Come to me, you who are laboring and burdened.”  Then he says, “What I have, the love I have for you, will give you rest.”  In fact, the love that makes you go out and keep working so you can eat those nice meals and go to those nice places is really a God-sized hole in your heart.  You’re trying to find God.  And he’s gonna tell you, “That’s free.

“Take my yoke upon you.”

He wants to have two laws: To love God, to love others as yourself.

He says, “My yoke is easy.”  It’s about love.  And then he tells you that he’s meek and humble of heart.  He’s not coming like the god that wants us to bang out the rules one by one.  He’s meek and humble of heart— humble— meaning he’s doing the Father’s will.

I’ll ask the same question from yesterday.  What’s heaven like?  Does anybody know what heaven’s going to be like?

Heaven is where everyone’s doing the will of the Father.  And he’s showing you that he does that himself by coming to us, searching for us, and loving us.  His yoke is easy; his burden, light.

My brothers and sisters, what you receive today in this beautiful gospel is God’s love letter to you.  He says he loves you.  He seeks you like a bridegroom seeking a bride and— after searching for you your whole life right up to this moment— he’s asking, “Now, come to me.”

So, come to him— in his word, in the Eucharist— and let him love you.  His love will shape your life.

Quote

Jesus is waiting, so go and find him when your strength and patience are giving out, when you feel lonely and helpless.  Say to him: “You know well what is happening, my dear Jesus.  I have only you.  Come to my aid….”  And then go your way.  And don’t worry about knowing how you are going to manage.  It is enough to have told our good Lord.  He has an excellent memory (St. Jeanne Jugan).

Wedding altar: St. Mary's Visitation - Elm Grove, WI

Links of interest…  Archdiocese of New Orleans…  Be still & know that I am God…  Commandments: greatest / how to follow the first two (more) / most important / ten…  I am who I am…  Jesus: divinity of Christ / seven I AM statements / who do you say that I am…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Moses: facts / who was…  St. Louis Cathedral: daily saints / history / Mass / photos / tours / website…  You can only know the answer to “who am I” by discovering who God is

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  Heaven…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Heaven

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Some messages are Wind Song commercials: simply unforgettable.  They can be funny, sad, quiet, loud, true-to-life— or sometimes so bad— that they linger.  But the best ones are authentic and captivating, inspiring google searches even when the topic is familiar.

Today’s “sermon” hit the spot like an E. F. Hutton commercial— people listened — and some of us were so invested that we even blurted out responses to Fr. Joe’s rhetorical questions.  But that’s what heaven does: it totally gets our attention.

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The following, recorded, transcribed, and edited, was delivered by Fr. Joseph Craft at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.

We have some spectacular readings today.  We need to find out what exactly happened on Mt. Horeb.  How many of you have got that great historical mind that you can remember all the important events that happened on Mt. Horeb?

The burning bush!

When Moses goes down to Egypt he sets Israel free and, when he passes Mt. Horeb again, God makes a covenant with them.  They go out of the desert and, when they come back, Moses has this wonderful conversation with God that includes the Ten Commandments.  Years later, Elijah comes along after slaying all the prophets of Baal and, after running from the queen, Jezebel, lands on Mt. Horeb and finds God not in the earthquake or the fire or the storm, but in the small voice.

What are the words we hear today that God promises Moses on that mountain?  They will worship God on that mountain.  That’s what we need to get so far.  God wants to be in relationship with his people, so he gives us a place to encounter him and worship him.

Do you know where we stand today?  At sea level?

We stand kind of on Mt. Horeb.  We stand in a place where we can worship God.  That’s why we come to Mass.

Some people tell me, “You know, padre, I don’t get much out of the Mass.”  I say, “That’s great!  It’s not really about you.  It’s about us giving worship to God.”

That’s what we’re here about.  So, okay, let’s try to figure out where I’m making the connection between Mt. Horeb and here.  Did you hear the gospel?

Jesus is teaching us how to be in relationship with the Father: to worship God and to give him praise for all he’s done.  This is a beautiful priestly prayer, and we are a priestly people.  When we were baptized, we were anointed priest, prophet, and king; so today’s gospel reading is helping us know what we’re here after.

Does anybody know what we’re here after?

We’re here after the hereafter: heaven on earth.  When you and I receive the Word of God and the Eucharist, we’re supposed to become what we receive.  Does that make sense?

Let me break it open one more time: Does anybody know what heaven’s going to be like?  Has anybody been there?

I can tell you what heaven’s going to be like.  And, no, it won’t be angels playing violins on the clouds.  It will be where everyone is doing the will of the Father.

We come here to worship God.  He gives us the grace to hear the Word: how to live as he’s commanded.  And then he gives us the Eucharist: the grace to live that out.  We make heaven on earth by doing the will of the Father, and we start by getting outside of ourselves and giving God praise and worship.

Let me just hit a few more things.

Do you know when we worship God here on Mt. Horeb?  It’s when we genuflect.  It’s when we stand for the gospel.  It’s when we kneel.  But let me name two other really great places of worship.  You ready?

The first is after we’ve heard the Word of God, after we’ve listened to the sermon, after we’ve done the priestly prayers.  It’s the little blessed moment of silence, after we’ve received the Eucharist, when we ask God to help us do his will to make heaven on earth.  And, do you know the next most important time when we give that worship?  It’s when we wait for the priest to walk all the way out of church.  Sometimes people think that’s because the priest likes to have all that attention or so he can give that one parishioner that needs it that serious look: “You’d better do that this week!”  Nope.

Do you know why we ask you to stay here till the very end?

It’s so you can kneel one more time and say, “God, thank you for this encounter.  Now I’m getting ready to go out and live the hardest part of my week— away from you this close— so give me the grace to use what I’ve received.”

My brothers and sisters, today, let us worship.  Let us give God praise.  And let us make heaven here on earth.

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Links of interest…  Archdiocese of New Orleans…  Commercials: E. F. Hutton / Wind Song (more)…  Elijah ( journey – on Mt. Horebprophetstory)…  God speaks to us on tops of mountains…  How Jesus makes heaven present to us today…  Jezebel…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Moses: about / burning bush…  Most Americans believe in heaven… and hell…  Mountains, the Bible, & divine encounters...  St. Louis Cathedral: daily saints / history / Mass / photos / tours / website...  Praise & worship…  Prophet’s legacy…  Seeking Mt. Horeb…  Sermon vs. homily…  Ten Commandments…  Time to decide— reflection on a question from Elijah…  Why praise & worship music is praise, but not worship

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Beatitudes

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A wonderful homily, the Beatitudes always make me sit up and listen more closely because the words resonate strongly with a lifetime of memories.  And, for the Church to have this as its gospel reading specially for Canada Day?  Truly refreshing.

American Catholics may sing America the Beautiful or some such here and there after Mass, but that’s it.  Church and state are separate, so I was intrigued that the collective spirit of our neighbors to the north would celebrate differently from us.  And what a coincidence that Canada Day falls within days of our nation’s Fourth of July.  I was so excited that I had to learn more.  But never did I expect such contrasting views on the topic: The first online article made me smile, but the next one made me quite sad.

Last month I was stunned to read about the remains of the Indigenous children discovered in Kamloops and, more recently, in Saskatchewan.  Then, today, I was equally pained to read about the plight of Indigenous Nations in places like Iqaluit and Nunavut.

Adversity, resentment, bitterness, pain.  Injustices, past and present, impact future generations.  And nothing changes.

The Beatitudes are beautiful and relatable, but how can they ever be enough?  How can words, or even good intentions, suffice when Canada has so many broken hearts?

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, was delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada.

With this Canada Day Mass setting, the gospel is the Beatitudes, and that’s a wonderful reading today.  It maps out the high places that God wants to lead us to.  He respects our free will, of course.  It’s not automatic that we go to these high places of virtue, truth, and goodness by our own efforts; but the graces are there for us to work together.

So we can take a quick look at some of the beatitudes to appreciate why they are important for us, these high places of reverence and respect and responsibility.

Beatitudes talk about the humble of heart.  Humility is walking in the truth, so we have a relationship set that we know what is based on reverence for God and respect for each other.  Humility means that we are in the right place in our relationships.  Another Beatitude refers to the gentle of heart, or the meek, in that we wish to raise people up, to build up those around us.  There are many things that oppress us in daily life: fear, uncertainties, pride.  All sorts of things can push us down, but the gentle of heart wish to raise up the people around them, raise them up in dignity and hope.  Another Beatitude is holiness.  Holiness means that we want to be filled with God’s love.  And holiness means that we want to obey God’s Commandments.  The Commandments, again, map out right relationship, how justice and charity are brought together in day-to-day needs.  We also hear about mercy.  Mercy means, of course, not choosing to demand what is due to someone, but to let that go for the sake of a love that serves and sacrifices.  We also hear in the Beatitudes about purity.  Purity means nothing getting in the way of loving God and neighbor as we should.  And, finally, peace.  The Beatitudes talk about the peacemakers and those referred to as the tranquility of order.

So, that’s the work of government and citizens coming together to create and maintain an ordered tranquility.  So, with all of the needs of Canada in our minds and hearts, especially with the uncertainty of the last few months, we bring all of this to the Lord, seeking, again, reverence for God, the Creator, respect for each other— each of us made in the — and the image and likeness of God— and responsibility.  Peace and justice don’t happen automatically.  We have to be responsible for our part in promoting peace and justice for God’s glory and make the common good.

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look on me and answer, O Lord, my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.  My enemy will say, “I have overcome him;” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me (Bible Gateway NIV).

Links of interest…  Almanac: Canada Day 2021…  Beatitudes: Mt. 5:1-13…  Canada Day muted as country reckons with treatment of indigenous, other minorities…  Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops…  Facing our demons: A Jesuit take on dealing with anxiety…  Fr. Stanley Galvon…  How a First Nations restaurateur found her family through food…  Indigenous peoples & communities…  It was kidnapping & abuse, but not genocide…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  No perfect answer: Is it First Nations, Aboriginal, or Indigenous…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Psalm 13: Cry of Black Americans / How long, O Lord / lyric video / meditation on anger & disappointment / Women Living Well…  Radical call of the Sermon on the Mount…  St. Augustine on the esoteric meaning of the beatitudes…  This Canada Day, let’s remember: this country was built on genocide…  USA: How Native Americans fought back at boarding schools…  What’s in a name: Indian, Native, Aboriginal, or Indigenous

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Graces shared

Stained-glass window: Creation - St. Joseph Church - Port Aransas, TX

I’d been having a really bad time with serious pain in my lower back, so I lay down for a nap and dreamt I was sleeping.  Yet, from my bed I could see a lovely young woman through the front door’s glass panel.  A gentle breeze gave her loose-fitting, cornflower-blue-and-white dress a shimmery look as her brown locks blew this way and that but fell back into place.  And, without anyone letting her in, she easily made her way down the hall to my room.  Then, as I awakened, she softly said, “Thank you for the rosary you made for me years ago.”  I asked her name, and we chatted briefly.  She smiled when I said, “In good times and in bad, with God, we have hope.”

I woke up totally refreshed and wondered: What rosary?  I make St. Anthony, Child Jesus, and Our Lady Star chaplets to give away with their respective prayers.  Then later, duh.

May 2006, I broke my right kneecap in three places and, for self-imposed therapy, I walked the beach three miles each day with my rosary in hand; but I dreaded Tuesdays and Fridays.  I told God that the sorrowful mysteries made me very sad.

Isn’t there a way you could fix it so I don’t have to say them?  Isn’t there another way to pray the rosary? 

And, wouldn’t you know it?  I discovered the Franciscan Crown in the St. Anthony book I’d been reading after my walks.  So, despite my swollen, achy knee, Steven took me to Walmart to buy assorted beads and all else I needed to make myself a Crown.

And so began my journey with Our Lady.

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and edited, was delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada.

The Mass setting today is for Our Lady on a Saturday.  Mary is the first and greatest disciple of Jesus, and I’m thinking that her ways of supporting the Lord brings us encouragement and hope.

Over the centuries, countries have oscillated between independence politically from each other and consortiums of working together for the common good.  It seems that the worry about being dependent on others is that you admit your weakness or your needs but, at the same time, being independent can limit the amount of resources and the wisdom in caring for the needs of people as well as the needs of the earth.  So, there’s a great call these days for political dependency.  And, with things admitted, a lot of common good for all the earth and all the people.  That’s political dependency.

There’s a certain call for personal dependency as well on the Lord and each other.  And, with that, we admit our personal weaknesses.  That’s not only healthy to do— to admit that none of us can have it all in terms of wisdom and power and resources— but admitting our dependency on God, above all, brings us health and also an inexhaustible source of wisdom and resources, as the gospel tells us that the heavenly Father knows what we need and will bring us all that is essential.

When we admit our weaknesses, we build up humility and trust.  Humility means walking in the truth: our life is grounded on solid things.  We allow the Holy Spirit to move us toward Jesus to make him the source of our thoughts, words, and deeds.

When we see the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we see how her dependence on God brought her graces upon graces to share with others.  So, she was not really a doormat for others because she depended on God; rather, she was a leader with vision and humility that made a huge difference all around her and for the good of all creation.

Prayer

St. Jude Shrine prayer card: "Our Lady" - Baltimore, MD    St. Jude Shrine prayer card: "O Virgin Mary" - Baltimore, MD

Contact information

The two-sided card above is from St. Jude Shrine, 512 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201-1896.

Quotes

“Blessed the one whose thought has been with grace, like a cloud filled with rain, and which waters souls for the increase of fruits of life; his praise will be for everlasting glory” (St. Ephrem of Syria).

“God gives each one of us sufficient grace ever to know His holy will, and to do it fully” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

“Grace is nothing else but a certain beginning of glory in us” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered into our souls to act as a kind of spiritual penicillin.  Grace is unity, oneness within ourselves, oneness with God (Thomas Merton).

“The path of virtue is painful to nature when left to itself; but nature, assisted by grace, finds it easy and agreeable” (Venerable Louis de Granada).

Pots of Indian blanket, zinnias, and daisies ready for planting

Links of interest…  Blessed Mary: appears to us daily / honoring her / learning to love her / seven ways to strengthen your relationship / simple ways to invite her into your life / ten ways to love her  Five Marian devotions (popular) / signs of true devotion to Mary…  Marypages  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Saturday devotions: Mary’s day (more)…  Season of creation: Laudato si’ / virtual journey / website…  Seven simple ways to bring Mary into your life / sorrows of Mary (September devotion)…

WP posts…  Collective heart…  Faces of Mary…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Mary’s gifts…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  My Franciscan Crown…  Perfect prayer

St. Joseph

Stained-glass window of St. Joseph holding Jesus - Holy Rosary Cathedral - Vancouver, Canada

I love, love, love Joseph so much that our youngest kid bears his name, one of two, just like my brother.  And, for years— dare I say decades— St. Joseph has been shadowing me, like the time we visited St. Bonaventure in Detroit and, suddenly, I shimmered within sensing something, someone, very near.  I looked up from my camera and— whoa— there he was, looking ever so statuesque just three feet away.  Goosebumps!  And, it seems that, wherever we go, he beckons, as he did for us to belong to St. Joseph’s parish and for me to start the church blog.  So, naturally, I was all ears to hear this evening’s homily at Vespers.  Thank you!

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and edited, was delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada.

So, as you could tell from the gospel, this is all about St. Joseph.  Pope Francis has given us this year to focus on him.  He’s a bit of a mysterious figure in Bible in that he doesn’t say one word, but maybe that’s okay.

Someone said the most important part of conversation is the pause between words and, in the case of Joseph, it’s a long pause because he really doesn’t say anything at all.  But it’s how he’s present and how he’s doing things that’s so helpful for all of us in crazy times as these are.  And you can tell from the gospel reading from St. Matthew that Joseph was involved in crazy times as well.

Danger

First, he was ordered to go to Bethlehem to register even though his wife was very pregnant and travel arrangements were very primitive.  And, then, once the child was born, it seems that the three kings, the Magi, tipped off Herod that this child could be a competitor; so Herod decided to eliminate the problem by eliminating the child.  Kind of what we see these days in terms of solving your problems by violence.  That’s ongoing human twist thinking: Solve your problems with violence.

We have, then, Joseph in a dream being told to go to Egypt.  So, that’s not like jumping on a little commuter plane and flying to Egypt.  In those days there was everything from robbers to bad people along the way of any route and, in this case, soldiers from Herod who were chasing them.

Safety

There’s a delightful story about tinsel.  If you’ve ever seen a Christmas tree with those silver streamers on it, it’s called tinsel; and it comes from a legend about Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

On their difficult way to Egypt, Herod’s soldiers were almost catching them, so Joseph hid the family in a little cave.  And there was a spider inside the cave that, somehow, was used by God to quickly weave a web at the entrance to the cave.  So, when soldiers were about to go into the cave, they saw the spider web.

“No one has disturbed that spider web,” they said, “so they can’t be in there.  Let’s go on.”  So, that’s where the legend led to the use of tinsel on Christmas trees.

Training

It’s a delightful story, but behind all of this is the idea that God works with people in difficult times.  And, part of the difficulties these days is how each of us is trained because it’s handy to have good manners— to say “thank you,” things like that— but moral training is also really important, which is why Joseph was very special: He protected Mary and Jesus from people like Herod, and he trained Jesus.

You might say, “Well, Jesus is God, so he doesn’t need training.”  Well, that’s kind of the mystery of who Jesus is.  He’s totally God, but he’s also totally human, without any kind of contradiction between the two of them.  It’s a mystery how that works.  But, in any case, Jesus had to learn things.

The Book of Proverbs says: “Train up the child in the way he should go and, when he is old, he will not depart from it” (22:6).  That’s a big challenge to parents about things a child has to learn— languages, culture, religion, government, values, customs, conventions— so, if you don’t learn those as a child, you’re not trained in them.  And training involves more than being taught, since training goes from your head to your heart where something lasts.  So, if a child doesn’t learn these things in the heart, then what can happen?

Moses

Let’s talk about another little person to give us a sense of what this might mean.

We’ve all heard about Moses, born to Amran and Jochebed from the priestly Levite tribe at the time when Israelites were getting stronger.  A new pharaoh, who didn’t like the idea of the Israelites having children, came onto the scene and commanded that all the boys of Israelites be killed, while the girls could live as slaves.  Amran and Jochebed hid Moses by the Nile and, when the pharaoh’s daughter went for a bath, she saw the child in the basket and wanted to care for him.  Then, with her approval, Miriam, sister of Moses, managed to place the child with their birth mother so that he passed for an Egyptian prince— until he murdered one of the Egyptians working with the Israelites and had to leave the palace.

So, Moses was the great, courageous leader of the Israelites about fifteen hundred years or so before the time of Jesus.  The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for four-hundred years and, at that right time, God wanted them to be freed from slavery; so God chose Moses to lead them to the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey.

The story goes along in the Book of Exodus: God calls Moses and Aaron, the brother who becomes high-priest and spokesman for Moses, who takes on the pharaoh.  And their sister, Miriam, is a prophetess, but also a complainer.  The three siblings took on a mess but, because their parents had trained them as best they could, they didn’t forget who God was even after they had sinned.  And, somehow, they came back into God’s graces.

Similarly, Joseph and Mary trained Jesus in his ways of understanding the goodness and character of the heavenly Father.  So, where does that leave us?

Lesson

The encouraging message is that, despite our strengths and weaknesses, we can always come back to God and “be diligent, intentional, continually seeking ways to weave the goodness and character of God into the day’s events” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

St. Joseph reminds us that our heavenly Father is still training us.  We’re here at Vespers tonight because of the training we received somehow, somewhere.  This is our opportunity to thank God for that training and to pray for others: our parents, children without parents, parents who are discouraged or twisted up somehow.

Our prayers can help!  We are not alone.  Joseph, representative par excellence of our heavenly Father, is praying for us, too, in ways deeper than words can convey.  So, I’ll finish with a little prayer that Pope Francis wrote to thank St. Joseph.

Prayer

Hail, guardian of the Redeemer, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to you God entrusted his only son.  In you, Mary placed her trust.  With you, Christ became man.  Blessed Joseph, to us, too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life.  Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage.  And defend us from every evil.  Amen.

September 29, 2021

Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then (St. Teresa of Ávila).

Vespers altar: Holy Rosary Cathedral - Vancouver, Canada

Links of interest…  Aaron: brother & spokesman…  Amran: father of Moses…  Books: Deuteronomy (about) / Exodus (2:1-10about – summary – videos) / Proverbs (about)…  Christmas spider: books / legend / ornaments (more) / poem / story / tinsel…  Jochebed: wise woman…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Miriam: prophetess…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Moses, Miriam, & Aaron challenge God…  Pope Francis on St. Joseph / proclaims year of St. Joseph…  St. Joseph: for fathers / prayers (eight) / quotes / Wednesdays…  Who were the Levites

WP posts…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  God’s love letter…  Heaven…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  Sunset…  Truth

Perfect prayer

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Some of us have been praying our whole lives.  My parents spoke about God to us and took us to church.  Only they prayed not from books, but from the heart.

When my dad lay in bed day after day, looking forward to the priest’s daily visit in the afternoon, his peaceful expression masked the pain he felt: knowing death was near; knowing he’d leave mom with a five-year-old and a six-month-old to care for all on her own; knowing that his dad and his grandmother lived too far away, without the means to drop by, to check in on him; knowing that, in as much as he loved us and engaged with us as much as he could, he’d miss out on seeing what we’d become in life.  But, I could tell, always, that he spoke lovingly, patiently, and that we completed his existence.  He was at peace with God, and he was accepting of what was to come.

When my mom prayed, she was all heart.  Listening to her voice when she’d lie down with my little brother and me, she’d recite prayers learned from her mother, who had died during childbirth when mom was barely nine.  Without a rosary or a prayer book, the sentiment just flowed.  She seemed to be somewhere else, in a world foreign yet reassuring to me.  And, when she’d take me with her to church in the middle of the day, she’d kneel to pray for long whiles as I sat behind her on the pew.  She didn’t make a sound but, even now many decades later, I can still feel the strength of her faith.

So, prayer for me goes way beyond religious objects and books, although some are very nice and I have many of them.  And I think that St. Teresa of Avila’s assessment that one is either a noisy aqueduct or a quiet spring rings very true.  I also think that there’s no one prayer that God prefers when he’s given us diversity of expression.  So, for me, the simplest heartfelt prayer suffices because, in the end, all God really wants from us is to be near him, to talk to him, to love him, to do for him, to entrust our all to him, and to learn to listen to his whisperings so that we can be in synch.

“The whole doctrine of prayer, from its practical standpoint, can be summed up by saying that it is talking to God as a friend talks with a friend” (Fr. Bede Jarrett).

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Today’s homilies, recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, were delivered by Deacon A. David Warriner, Jr. at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada, respectively.

The Lord’s Prayer

Perfection is an elusive thing.  Many of us spend a lifetime trying to do one thing perfectly.  I think I’m still in that number.  But, what is it about perfection?  What is it that makes it so unique?  Let’s just think about some of the things that go around us.

In golf, I guess the perfect shot is a hole-in-one.  How rare are those?  In baseball, out of almost 220,000 played in the modern era, there have only been twenty-three perfect games.  And, in bowling, the score of three-hundred is considered a perfect game.  But how often do we see that?  Yet, not even these are perfect.  There are always flaws involved in one way or another.

We will never reach perfection on this side of the Kingdom.  As a people of faith, though, we should strive for perfection in our life with others and in our life with God.  In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he said, “Your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.”

Now, there were false teachers who were coming in behind St. Paul after he left his Corinthian community; and they were teaching heresies.  They were teaching things that were not true.  And Paul told them, “I teach you the truth, which is Jesus Christ.  And I expect absolutely nothing from you.”  So, if Jesus Christ is truth, what is it that he tells us about prayer?

Jesus says, “This is how you are to pray.”  And he gives us The Lord’s Prayer— as our archbishop calls it, “the privileged prayer”— that each one of us has to say and to pray, and we should do that often.

Now, look at that prayer.  It gives credit to the Supreme Being, to a god who is so immense that we can’t even comprehend.  Then it goes through those beautiful petitions where we ask God for what we truly need in our life.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa, says prayer is the interpretation of our hope.  Let’s think about that: the interpretation of our hope.

So, we are to pray, but guess what?  God knows what we need before we articulate that.  God knows what we need.  Prayer is for us.  God doesn’t need our prayer.  Prayer is for us— a gift that God has given to each one of us.  A gift that we have in The Lord’s Prayer is that it is the perfect prayer.

How can we say that?  Jesus identified himself as the truth and, in doing so, the prayer he gave us has to be perfect in every way.

So, pray often.  Pray often is our charge.  It is a talk with God.

The secrets to a good prayer are given to us by Matthew Kelly in his book, I Heard God Laugh.  Awareness of our need to prayer.  Begin the conversation.  Ask God what he wants of us.  Give ourselves in prayer, special time, special place.  Transform everything into a prayer.  That only takes an intention.  “Lord, I don’t like to do this, but I’m only going to do it for you.”  That becomes our prayer.  And make time.  God always has time for us.  We’re the ones that slight God of time, so we need to make prayer.  Show up.  Be there so we can pray to God.  God is always there for us.

So, Jesus instructed us in the gospel to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  And, as we see in these flawed sports games, nothing is ever really perfect.  However, if we pray in the way that Jesus has taught us— the perfect prayer— what better way to perfect our lives?

Mass

Relationships— our relationship with our heavenly Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, with each other— are at the heart of the Church.  St. Paul has a problem with relationships with the Church in Corinth.  It seems they’re being seduced by false teachers, and Paul challenges them to look at the marriage image as a way of restoring relationships as they should be in Corinth.

The marriage image is based on faithfulness and fruitfulness between the husband and wife; and it requires ongoing ways of sacrifice and service for the good of the other person based on God’s plan.  So, Paul keeps on bringing that to the Corinthians that they look at who is influencing them and what’s behind it.  But, of course, it has to be done with prayer and discernment.  It’s not an instant understanding because there’s weakness of mind, distractions, pride, selfishness, emotions— all sorts of things swirling around in their lives.  And that’s where the gospel points to— the mechanism for clearing all of that focusing on what is lasting, good, and true.  And that is where prayer comes in.

Jesus gives us the perfect prayer pattern where there is glory to God being focused on, as well as human needs.  Our heavenly Father is sincerely interested in our human needs.  He’s also sincerely interested in our response.

The most mature response to God’s goodness is to seek his will in all things.  So, there’s a lot in these readings today for us to ponder.  And Mass is the perfect prayer in which, through Jesus, our prayers are brought to the heavenly Father and graces come back to us to take away from Mass to share with others the outcomes and the benefits of our prayers and our desire to seek God’s will in all things.

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Links of interest… Archdiocese of New Orleans…  Four anchor points for prayer…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  St. Louis Cathedral: daily saints / history / photos / tours…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windowsReflections on the perfect prayer…  St. Thomas Aquinas: about (Jan 28more) / Christian life / Lord’s Prayer / prayers (Blessed Virgin) / quotes (sixty-eightmore) / Summa

WP posts… Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  God’s love letter…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Mary’s gifts

Life-size statue of the Blessed Mother with toddler Jesus on her lap encased in wood-and-glass

Even as a child my younger brother spent hours out in the yard.  He knew that mom loved flowers, so he weeded and watered, ever mindful of the fragrant red roses that greeted her after a long day’s work.  And, to mom’s delight, he taught himself to graft rose plants so that we had the prettiest, healthiest garden in our small neighborhood.  So, come May, mom would tell me, “Don’t forget to cut roses for Our Lady.”

Except for obligatory Mass and seasonal evening retreats, Mom never had time or energy for church activities.  She was a widow (then) with much to do, but she knew that my friend and I would walk several blocks to attend morning Mass at six and early evening processions to honor Our Lady.

Thinking back on those years, I wish I’d complimented my brother on his pride and joy: those exquisite roses he tended without reminders, without expectations, “without even a thank-you,” as mom would say.  He would’ve been totally taken aback but quite pleased and, sibling rivalry aside, he would’ve flashed his ever-ready smile with the cute dimples, too.  But I wasn’t into gardening, even when he and mom, in her later, more frail years, would walk her much larger yard and gush over plants ad nauseum during his many visits home.  So, decades later, I shouldn’t have been surprised when, at his funeral service, his wife glowingly pointed out the beautiful casket spray she’d chosen because “Joe loved red roses.”

Memories overwhelmed me!  My mind, heart, and soul went full-circle with joy, sorrow, love, awe, and missed opportunities for meaningful conversations.  Dad would grow rows of multi-colored zinnias in our tiny front yard— something I’d never thought to talk about— yet, all on his own, my brother had brightened our days.  So, zinnias to roses, four lifetimes together; flowers for mom, gifts for Our Lady.

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, was delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada.

It’s natural for us to think about relationships: how they’re going, who we can pray for and spend time with, that sort of thing.  But, on the highest level, we can think about our relationship with Jesus.

Is it easy for him to love us?  To love each human being?  Many would say, “Oh, yes.  He’s God.  He can love each person.”  And that certainly is true.  Jesus is a divine person with a human nature.  With that human nature, he’s able to feel in his heart.  He can feel rejection and the sadness of being taken for granted.

As humans, we can slip into those ways of rejecting Jesus or taking him for granted.  That’s because we have difficulties with pride and selfishness.  That is, all humans face that problem except the Blessed Virgin Mary.

She was in anticipation of the work of Jesus.  She was born without original sin so she could focus extremely deeply on the person of Jesus without that pride and selfishness; but that doesn’t mean that she was spared from the pain in her heart of seeing him rejected or treated poorly— or his Passion.

In all of her relationships, Mary was able to take into her heart all of the joys, sorrows, passions, and pains of others and she did not overreact or underreact.  And that’s where she provides such wonderful help to our sets of relationships, especially the most important relationship: our closeness to Jesus.

You see, through Mary, we can love Jesus perfectly.  We can get around those ongoing weaknesses that we have with pride and selfishness and, through Mary, we can love Jesus as he deserves.

Mary is committed to each of us— to help us to have reverence for our heavenly Father, respect for each other, and responsibility for our daily duties— so, at this Mass of recognition of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we thank Jesus for giving her to us and for helping us to love him properly through her.

Stained-glass window of Crowned Mary with Jesus in her arms

Links of interest…  Beautiful reminders of Mary’s love…  Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Month of Mary: for kids / May devotions (queen of May) / nine ways to celebrate / thirty-one ways to love…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Prayers: devotionsshort novena…  What do roses really smell of…  Why are roses associated with Mary (five flowers)…  Why is devotion to Mary important

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  God’s love letter…  Heaven…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Collective heart

Sacred Heart of Jesus bust

Jesus looks deep in thought.  Maybe he’s tired?  Or maybe he was up late with worry so he needs a nap?  You had to have noticed that, except for the Laughing Jesus (Wheatley, 1973), statues and stained-glass windows show Jesus not quite smiling.

We haven’t seen Jesus face-to-face so we can only attribute to him what we ourselves have experienced, especially as overseers of others.  Exasperation, disappointment, and resignation come to mind.  But I can never picture an unsmiling Jesus as petty and resentful— can you?  And, if he gave me the rolling eyeball, he’d most likely burst out laughing— as if to say “What were you thinking?!!” or “Calabaza!” (to quote mom)— instead of giving me a tongue-lashing.

So, when I think of the Sacred Heart, I imagine Jesus and Mary living life fully with Joseph, with their friends, with extended family members, with the greater community.  Together or apart, their collective heart knew no bounds.  Jesus and Mary experienced extraordinary joys and sorrows that they celebrated and endured, respectively, with great faith and love of God.

For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you.  Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning.  […]  And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast (Khalil Gibran).

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Today’s homilies, recorded and transcribed, were delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada, and the Very Reverend Henry Davis, SSJ, pastor and dean at Corpus Christi Epiphany Church and visiting celebrant at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, respectively.

Merciful love

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was, is, a great response to a twisted way of looking at God.  In the 1700s, in France, somehow God was seen to be very harsh and remote and inaccessible and frightening with his demands and expectations of us.

The correction came through revelations by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.  And, her understanding of Jesus that she communicated to others was that his sacred heart has a deep, personal love for each of us; that God has a tender, merciful love described in the first reading.

Jesus, with his divine personhood and human nature, has a love and a need and a desire to love us and to be loved, in turn, by each of us.  And, when we don’t return his love, that’s a great sorrow for him.

For the sake of justice, it’s important to make reparation to him for our sins that hurt him so much and also the sins of the world.

At this Mass we have an opportunity to thank him, to renew our love for him, to express our sorrow for him.  And, in a small way, it is reparation.  And, may we continue that attitude beyond today and every day, as we seek his help, to offer him the way of service and sacrifice out of love.

Sacrificial love (edited)

What a wonderful day to be gathered here to celebrate the solemnity of the most sacred heart of Jesus.  I’m a Josephite priest, a member of the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, and we have special prayers dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus throughout the month of June.

One of the most powerful acts not just for Josephites, but for other religious communities and the faithful as well, is to gather this Friday to remind ourselves of Christ’s passion and love for all creation and, above all, for his heavenly father, Abba.

Christ dying on the cross is an act of reparation for our sins so that we can glory in the presence of almighty God.  There’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  And Christ’s source of love is definitely from his sacred heart, so we come to him in prayer and ask for the forgiveness of all sins against the sanctity of life— abortion, murder, war, violence, injustice, and racism— that rob human life of dignity and quality.

When you look at a beautiful statue, a picture, or an icon of the sacred heart of Christ, you notice that his heart— his sacred heart— is on fire.  Looking at Jesus, the glowing around his sacred heart is his passion for you and for me depicted as a crown of thorns piercing his heart and a drop of blood to wash us from our sins.

In today’s gospel, we heard that water also flowed from the side of Jesus.  That’s the sign of baptism that makes us whole.  And, as God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we belong to the family of God, to the kingdom of God.  All of us.  And, as followers of Christ we’re called to love, to work, to be strong in our faith to the mission of Christ here on earth so that, when we get to the kingdom of heaven, we will shine brightly with hearts relating to Christ, our Lord.

The sacrifice of Christ’s love on the cross fills us with the grace of God through the sacraments that have the distinct presence of Christ, so it is most fitting that we gather to celebrate the most sacred heart of Jesus.

When we gather in prayer as God’s sacred people, we cry out: “Have mercy on us!”  The heart of Jesus is God’s sacred temple where we offer our prayers, our thanksgivings, our attitudes, and our petitions.  We ask the sacred heart of Jesus to hear our intentions and touch those we’re interceding for with his presence.  And we pray: “Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.”

But, do we really speak out when we see injustice in the world?  In our community?  In our families?  And, do we correct them with the heart of Jesus, with the love of the Lord?

Now, sometimes, that is a sacrifice.  But, we see what Christ did for love when he sacrificed his life upon the cross.  And, before he gave up his spirit, he said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Sometimes, in the name of love, we have to speak up for those who do not know what they are doing and direct them onto the path of righteousness.  That’s the powerful presence of the sacred heart of Jesus in our lives.  That’s what we’re empowered to do for others.  So, we fervently pray today that the sacred heart of Jesus can mirror our hearts here in this world and that we can love others with the same conviction, the same glory, that Christ has shown us by his act of sacrifice upon the cross.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us all and let our hearts become more and more like your heart now and forever.  Amen.

Ephesians 3:14, 16-19

This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father….  In the abundance of his glory may he, through his Spirit, enable you to grow firm in power with regard to your inner self so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith and then, planted in love and built on love with all God’s holy people, you will have the strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth so that, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond knowledge, you may be filled with the utter fullness of God.

August 12, 2021

“Sometimes put yourself very simply before God, certain of his presence everywhere and, without any effort, whisper very softly to his sacred heart whatever your own heart prompts you to say” (St. Jeanne de Chantal).

Sacred Heart of Jesus stained-glass window

Links of interest…  Corpus Christi Epiphany Church: about / parish turns 100 / staff / website (Mass link)…  Good tongue-thrashing in the Irish Monthly (1906)…  Josephites…  Kahlil Gibran: joy & sorrow / love…  Laughing Jesus: homilyWillis Wheatley (more)…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Sacred Heart of Jesus: devotions / homily / Oct 16 / promises (more) / quotes & reflections / solemnity (more) / ten prayers & quotes…  Sacrifice out of love…  Sixteen characteristics of God’s agape love…  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque: about (more) / first Fridays / prayers / secret…  Very Reverend Henry J. Davis, SSJ: Authentically black & CatholicZulu community…  Very Reverend Stanley Galvon: Fr. Stanley Galvon

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Mary’s gifts…  Freedom…  God’s love letter…  Heaven…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Freedom

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Early morning Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral is a daily staple, as we’ve come to enjoy the simplicity of Fr. Stanley’s thoughtful messages.  But today I wondered if he’d touch on Fr. Arsene’s homily from two days ago, being that Canada is in great need of healing after the recent Kamloops discovery.

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, was delivered by the Very Reverend Stanley Galvon, rector at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver, Canada.

In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, around the year 2000, we were having our synod and Archbishop Exner would often speak about how Jesus is wonderfully helping us to be free from all that oppresses us, especially sin and death.  And it’s not just at this time, but throughout all of human history that God is interested and desires to free us from all that oppresses us.

St. Paul recognized that problem of oppression, and he spoke to the Corinthians about it.  This time it was not directly people being mean to each other but, indirectly, through the religious leaders in those days, using the old covenant law to put people down, to control them.  So, he speaks quite firmly about that, that the old covenant law had many good purposes.  It could not, of course, bring us salvation in itself.  But it certainly taught us that it was meant to teach us the need for mercy from God.

Unfortunately, it became twisted, its use by some of the Pharisees to control others and to advance their own position of control and importance.  That was certainly not God’s plan for the old covenant law.

In the gospel, Jesus is speaking about the fulfillment of the law and Matthew is writing for Jewish Christians to show how Jesus fulfills the Torah law that is so special to them in their culture.  The caution, of course, is that, when people are using it wrongly, it becomes legalism.  But, when the law is used properly— not only the letter and the spirit— it leads to a deeper relationship with God, that there is an exchange: obedience on the part of God’s people and a loving mercy offered back by God.

So, these days, of course, lots of things seem to oppress us— whether it’s a natural thing like a pandemic or a simple thing like how we can treat each other; whether on an individual base, a community, or in society, residential schools, this sort of thing— but that’s where God’s mercy is even deeper than oppression.

So, we have hope we can press on, knowing that the Lord is bringing us freedom from these ways and giving us our purpose and a meaning to turn to him always, that humility and gratitude and compassion will eventually bring fulfillment to our human lives, and that his kingdom will be brought to its fulfillment and goodness will conquer all evil.

August 29, 2021

[W]hat religion tends to do is tell God whom God can love and whom God is not allowed to love.  In most church theology and morality, God is very unfree.  I know now that love cannot happen except in the realm of freedom (Richard Rohr, OFM).

Links of interest…  Archbishop Exner: about / service…  Elderly former Vancouver archbishop ordered to face questions in sex abuse case…  Fr. Stanley Galvon…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  God’s love letter…  Heaven…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  Salt and light…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth

Salt and light

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This morning’s online Mass yielded “spicy” enlightenment stemming from one of my all-time favorite Bible passages.

You are salt for the earth.  But, if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again?  It is good for nothing and can only be thrown out to be trampled under people’s feet.  You are light for the world.  A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.  In the same way, your light must shine in people’s sight so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).

Simply stated, “God is love and, whomever abides in love, abides in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

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Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, was delivered by Fr. Arsene Dutunge, JCL, assistant priest at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral and chaplain at Vancouver General Hospital in Canada.

You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  Brothers and sisters, today’s gospel is a reminder of our mission on earth: being salt and being light for our brothers and sisters, especially those who don’t believe yet.  The Lord says, “You are the salt of the earth.”  He did not say that you are the salt of the Church.

For salt to be effective, it has to get out of the shaker.  Many among us are bold in the few, but not courageous in the world.  They will speak of their faith in the relative security of the Church and among certain friends; but don’t ask them to preach to their spouse, to their co-workers, or even their children.  That’s too scary.  But, in reality, we are called to add spice to life; to bring beauty, joy, and hope to the world.

Joy is the sure sign of a Christian, of a Catholic, even while keeping the Commandments as a source of joy as we experience God’s power to put sin to death in us and bring forth other ordered self-discipline and holiness.  Hope, too, ought to distinguish us from the world that is often cynical and thinks sin is inevitable.  To this world, we are not only to declare that the Commandments are possible and bring joy, but to demonstrate it in our lives.

In our best periods of the history of the Church, our brothers and sisters contributed to this world with spicy things based on our faith— art, music, churches, hospitals, universities, the scholastic and scientific methods, et cetera.  Our tradition and scriptural teaching of justice, mercy, love, and the dignity of the human person as blessed in the world.

Are we doing the same nowadays?  Or, better, are you and I doing the same?

Brothers and sisters, salt preserves.  Before refrigeration people used salt to cure, or preserve, meat.  The salt killed bacteria and other microorganisms that cause rot and decay.  As Christians, as Catholics, we are called to prevent further decay in this insular world.  The truth that we proclaim is meant to preserve people from the decay of sin.  Chastity, justice, generosity, and the proclamation of the truth are like salt that preserves this world from decay: wars, jealousy, anger, bitterness, unfaithfulness, greed, et cetera.  We must be salt.  If we are not, nothing will be [changed].  Be the salt this world needs.

We are [called] to be a shining light for this world as well.  The light is to shine, but there is no shining without burning.  Shining causes us something.  It may be Christ’s light, but it shines through us.  This means sacrifice.  It means letting him use you.  It means not sleeping when you want to.  It means not just sitting at home.  It means getting out and getting involved.  It means getting out there and risking a few things.  It means being visible, targeted, and identified with someone— Jesus— who is hated by many nowadays.  And, in the world that prefers the darkness to light, it means being cold, harsh, out of touch, and hateful sometimes.  There is no shining without burning.

Brothers and sisters, shining involves concrete behavior.  Your light shines by the way you live, the choices you make, the behavior you exhibit.  It shines when Christians, when Catholics, get married and stay married, stay faithful to their commitments, and are people of their word.

Our light shines when we tell the truth instead of lying, when we choose chastity instead of fornication, when we are courteous and respectful instead of rude.  It shines when we respect life.  Our light shines when we clean up our language, give to the poor, and work for justice.  It shines when we refuse to purchase pornographic violence or other degrading materials.  Our light shines when we love instead of hate, seek reconciliation instead of revenge, and pray for our enemies instead of cursing them.

May the grace of the Lord make of us people who can talk to the world with our arts and behavior more than with our words.  May our lives be a blessing and an inspiration to those around us.  Amen.

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Links of interest…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Matthew 5:14-16…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  This little light of mine (Odetta; song’s origin)…  We are the light of the world…  What does it mean that believers are to be salt & light / “light of the world” mean in the Bible (more)…

WP posts…  Beatitudes…  Blessed blessing…  Collective heart…  Corpus Christi…  Foundation…  Freedom…  God’s love letter…  Heaven…  Mary’s gifts…  Most Holy Trinity…  Perfect prayer…  St. Joseph…  Sunset…  Truth