Naturally engaging

Early Sunday morning, May 12, 2019, the Carnival Legend docked in Ketchikan, Alaska; so we right away took a taxi to Holy Name Church several blocks away.

          

     

         

     

    

Mary before Mass

A woman spoke to me as I photographed the stained-glass windows in the vestibule.

Those windows are from the old church that was nearer the ship docks in the downtown area.  Of course, the parish outgrew it.  So, in the sixties, the school was built first.  Mass was held at the school until the church was dedicated in 1985.

“This worked out better, then?” I asked.

Yes, the downtown area was getting congested, and there was no room to expand.  It was very limited.  I didn’t live here then.  I moved here in 1974 and attended Mass at the school until the church was built.  The parish hall was finished about ten years later, and now the facility’s complete.

We introduced ourselves and shared bits and pieces of our respective journeys in faith before Mary continued.

Parishioners at Holy Name Church are very nice.  They transport visitors to and from the docks.  After Mass there are a couple of vans that take visitors back to their ships.  You may have to wait a little bit depending on the number of people who need rides, but they’ll take you.  Also, parishioners will offer to take you if they’re going that way.

“Thank you!  You’re angels!”

“God bless you!” Mary said before adding a final note: The archbishop from the Diocese of Juneau had been in town since Friday.  “Confirmations this weekend— and Mother’s Day— so all kinds of special things are happening today.”

I thanked Mary and wished her well; and she, in turn, wished us safe travels.

I returned to our pew and told Mel and Sharon that Holy Name was “a very welcoming community.  I only wish Steven had been here.  He would’ve enjoyed it.”

       

         

     

Katy after Mass

Steven’s illness was at its worst when we docked in Ketchikan; so Mel, Sharon, and I went to church without him.  Then, after Mass, a friendly young woman approached our bench to offer us and Kathy from Idaho a ride back to the docks.

“But we have canes and a walker,” I heard someone say.  No matter.  The SUV hatch popped open, and in they went without our assistance.

Along the way we learned quite a bit about Katy, “sixth-generation Ketchikan,” and her family.  She comes from a long line of educators— her grandfather was school superintendent— and she loves working with special-needs kids in class.  She also teaches ballet after school and has great aspirations still in the works.

Naturally engaging

A lovely experience all the way around on Good Shepherd Sunday, we enjoyed our time at Holy Name Church.  Inclusive and naturally engaging, parishioners built community with ease.  By selflessly accommodating visitors from faraway places, they made us an integral part of their finely woven tapestry within God’s kingdom.  All were welcome.

         

          

          

          

Prayers

Dear God, you appointed your only-begotten Son to be the savior of mankind, and you commanded his name to be Jesus.  I beg that a most ardent love of your divine son imprint that name on my heart; that it always be on my mind and frequently on my lips; and that it be my defense in temptation, my refuge in danger, and my consolation and strength in the hour of my death.  Amen.

Jesus, name full of glory, grace, love and strength!  You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who morn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick.  To you our devotion aspires; by you our prayers are received.  We delight in contemplating you.  O name of Jesus, you are the glory of all the saints for eternity.  Amen (St. Bernardine of Sienna).

Quotes

“If you are bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary you, if you are trembling with fear, invoke the name of Jesus” (St Lawrence Justinian).

The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affection.  All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport.  His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living (Blessed John Henry Newman).

August 25, 2019

God loves diversity.  That means God’s glory cannot be glimpsed without appreciating the variety of people, cultures, and creatures populating the universe (Mary M. McGlone, CSJ).

Links of interest…  Diocese of Juneau: facebook / The Inside Passage  (monthly paper) / website…  Good Shepherd Sunday: commentaryreflections / significance…  Holy Name Church: about / facebook / locationwebsite…  Ketchikan: about / things to doknow / visit / website…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook /  NPR / podcastpremiere / youtube…  Prayers: devotionGolden ArrowHoly Name Society / litany

WP posts…  Authentic delight…  Mission accomplished…  Verbosity

Pilgrim’s journey

Not quite five years ago I fell in love with the stations of the cross during our eight-day silent retreat.  But they took on new meaning a year and a half later when I discovered the connection between mom’s decades-old prayer and the fourth station of the cross: when Mary, rightly concerned, looks for Jesus and finds him, sadly, on the way to Calvary.

“Hortelanito, por Dios, dime la pura verdad: si Jesús de Nazaret por aquí lo has visto pasar” (Mendoza, 1939).  Have you seen Jesus pass this way?

Pilgrim’s journey

All of us are travelers, pilgrims on the march to our promised land.  We journey each day one stage nearer to our true home, the place our heavenly Father has reserved for us.

Sometimes our route may be rocky and torturous.  We often grow tired and weary from the obstacles we encounter.  We all have some experience of the truth of the poet’s words: “Now and then there’s a toll gate where you buy your way with tears.”  Even Christ, our lord, admits to us that “you indeed have sorrow now.”

Yet there is no other way to God.  As scripture notes, “How narrow the way and how straight the gate that leads to everlasting life.”  Christ, our leader, trod the same painful path he asks us to follow.  His way of the cross is also our way of salvation; so he now accompanies us on our way of the cross.

We will find our own journey easier when we daily imitate Christ and walk with him along the road to unending life.  As we apply Christ’s example and his merits to our personal situation, we will be strengthened to follow him through pain to glory.

When we think and pray even one station each day, Christ himself will help us perform our daily tasks and lend us his support (Franciscan Mission Associates, B-13R, pp. 2-3; edited).

St. Anselm’s prayer

O Lord, my God, teach my heart this day where and how to see you, where and how to find you.  You have made me and remade me; you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess and, still, I do not know you.  I have not yet done that for which I was made.  Teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me or find you unless you show yourself to me.  Let me seek you in my desire; let me desire you in my seeking.  Let me find you by loving you; let me love you when I find you.  Amen.

1: Jesus is condemned.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

                

           

Lord Jesus, may we deliver ourselves up with patience and love
to the many little deaths that fidelity in your service may require of us.

2: Jesus takes his cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Strengthen us, Lord Jesus, to carry our cross
with faith and trust and without complaining of its weight.

3: Jesus falls the first time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Be with us always, Lord Jesus.
Despite the weakness of the flesh may we never waver in our loyalty to you.

4: Jesus meets his mother.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Lord Jesus, may your mother and ours remain always
a sure hope and comfort for us, your pilgrim people.

5: Simon helps Jesus carry the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

May we be generous, Lord Christ, in coming to the aid
of our fellow pilgrims during our earthly journey.

6: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Dear Lord, may we never turn a cold shoulder but always
a smiling face to those who look to us for comfort.

7: Jesus falls the second time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Gird us with new strength, dear Christ, for the steep climb
and the hard stretches along the road to our glorious resurrection.

8: Jesus speaks to the women.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Lord Jesus, may the assurance that our Father in heaven will someday
wipe our tears away sustain us in the dark and painful hours of life.

9: Jesus falls the third time.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Help us, dear Lord, to pick ourselves up each time we fall.  Conscious of our weakness, may we stretch a helping hand to all who share our human frailty.

10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Dear Jesus, stripped of your garments in the passion
bless all our efforts at purification and renewal.

11: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

We give you thanks and praise, dear Savior, for submitting willingly
to suffering and death for our sake.  We bless your precious cross
by which the joy and salvation came into the world.

12: Jesus dies on the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

We are yours, blessed Savior, whether we live or die.
In baptism we have agreed to be yours in time and eternity.
May we be made dead to sin and alive to God with you.

13: Jesus is taken down from the cross.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Lord Jesus, you are the resurrection and the life.
May we stand before the world as your witnesses, vivid signs of the living God.

14: Jesus is laid in the tomb.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you
because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

           

           

Lord Jesus, may we always continue in the strength which comes
from our hope in your mercy, goodness, and love for us.

Concluding prayer

You, O God, overcame death through your only-begotten Son who opened for us the gates of life eternal.  Help us, then, to carry out in our lives the desires you inspire in us.  This we ask through the risen Christ, our lord, who now lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for all the ages.  Amen.

Contact information

Stations prayers are from Your Way of the Cross (B-8/15), received from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

                 

Pictured stations are from sacred spaces in Texas: St. Jude Chapel (Dallas), Our Lady Star of the Sea (Port Isabel), St. Albert the Great (Round Rock), Our Lady of Sorrows (McAllen), Sacred Heart (Cotulla), and St. Benedict’s (San Benito), respectively.

Resources

Creative Communications for the Parish has lots of devotional materials for all ages. What I most appreciate are their booklets for Advent and Lent, like the two below.

             

March 28, 2019

“True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity” (Pope St. Leo the Great).

March 29, 2019

“We need no wings to go in search of him, but have only to look upon him present within us” (St. Teresa of Avila).

March 31, 2019

Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable.  And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves (Ram Dass).

April 1, 2019

It is a lesson we all need— to let alone the things that do not concern us.  He has other ways for others to follow him; all do not go by the same path.  It is for each of us to learn the path by which he requires us to follow him, and to follow him in that path (St. Katharine Drexel).

April 14, 2019

This is what Jesus is exposing and defeating on the cross.  He did not come to change God’s mind about us.  It did not need changing.  Jesus came to change our minds about God— and about ourselves— and about where goodness and evil really lie (Richard Rohr, OFM).

April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday…  The sky holds tight her purple shroud, / Broken by the tips of blackened trees / Which stand in silent mourning. / All creation’s quaking, grieving are now a jealous sentinel, / Guarding the gates of morning / Listening / To the eternal Word which has been spoken, / Watching / For Adam’s bond to be forever broken, / All of time bows a prayerful head / To await its Maker’s rising from the dead. /  And I, / Too often fraught with unbelief, / Now unite my cry to that of the good thief. /  Bending low beneath the standard of the King, / I whisper to the darkness, / “I believe” (Sisters of Carmel, 2019).

Jesus & Mary by Jennie Price (2018)

Links of interest…  Be a pilgrim…  Communications for the Parish…  Fifteen ways Jesus Christ suffered in love…  Franciscan Mission Associates: contact / devotional saintslight a candle / prayer requests / quarterly newsletter / saint & prayer of the month / who we are…  Majesty of Christ crucified…  Prayer before a crucifix…  Ram Dass: Dying before you die / horrible beauty of suffering…  Relics from the crucifixion…  Roaring lion, mourning dove, word of God…  Signs & symbols…  Stations: about /  devotion / fish eaters / for families (more) / for kids (coloring pages) / how to do / Jesuitsmaking them worthwhile / on your block / origin / prayers / printables / puppet show / scriptural / significance /  uncomfortable truthway of the cross…  Ten lessons from the agony in the garden…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis…  Videos: street stations for commuters & bikers….  Way of the cross (preview)…  What it means to worship a man crucified as a criminal & Jesus saw from the cross…  Why pray the stations of the cross…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…  For all time…  Full circle…  God’s lovely gifts…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Our Lady star…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Repeated prayers…  Sioux chapel stations…  Sorrowful redemption…  St. Benedict’s…  St. Jude chapel…  Three visits…  Undeniable familiarity…  Unexpected detours…  Welcoming spirit

Remembrances

Since our monthly Saturday meeting in McAllen was rescheduled, attending four o’clock Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows was out of the question.  We needed another plan, so we opted for church closer to home.

For two days I vacillated between St. Benedict’s in San Benito and Our Lady Star of the Sea in Port Isabel.  Both are very special to us, very welcoming.  But I finally gave in to the gentle though insistent nudge from the voice within.

St. Benedict’s

Walking to our usual spot— fourth pew on the left— we quickly noticed a rather large frame topped with a floppy black bow with a large wreath beside it next to the ambo.

“Someone died,” I whispered to Steven.  “Is it a priest or a deacon?”

Once seated, I leaned forward and quietly asked the woman in the third pew who the man was.

“Fr. Nacho, our former priest, died March fifteenth,” the woman replied.  “He was with us sixteen years.  And then Fr. Tinajero took his place.”

I thanked the woman, sat back on the pew, and told Steven he’d been correct.

Remembrances

We’d been to St. Benedict’s two or three times when Fr. Nacho had celebrated Mass in Fr. Tinajero’s absence, so we’d delighted in his fatherly love: anecdotal homilies oozing with gentle wisdom, self-deprecating humor, and genuine engagement.  He loved his sheep, and they responded accordingly.  What a gift to witness their interactions.

Fr. Nacho had a positive outlook on life.  When he spoke about his mortality and his physical limitations, we chuckled.  Many even laughed out loud.  He was undaunted, down-to-earth funny, and gratefully aware that God was in charge.

Naturally, we were saddened to learn of his passing.  But, mostly, we were glad to have known him, even if just for a little while, so we could remember him with his flock.

       

     

       

       

           

Prayers

Daily prayer for the dead…  Immortal God. holy lord, father and protector of all you have created, we raise our hearts to you today for those who have passed out of this mortal life.

For all the faithful who have died we pray but, in particular, for those dear to us: parents, relatives, friends.  Nor do we forget all who did good to us while on earth and who helped us by their prayers, sacrifice, and example.  We pray also for any who may have done us harm and who stand in special need of your forgiveness.

May the merits and prayers of our virgin mother, Mary, and those of all your angels and saints speak for us and assist them now.  This we ask in Christ’s name.  Amen.

For the faithful departed…  Give them eternal rest, O Lord, and let them share your glory.

God, our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and returned to you in glory.  May all your people who have gone before us in faith share his victory and enjoy the vision of your glory forever where Christ lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

You are, O God, the creator and savior of all the faithful.  Forgive your servants all their sins and, by our loving prayers, grant them the pardon they always hoped for.  You live and reign forever in union with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

For a priest…  God of mercy, we who receive the sacraments of salvation pray for [name], your servant and priest.  You made him a minister of your mysteries on earth.  May he rejoice in the full knowledge of your truth in heaven.  We ask this through Christ, our lord.  Amen.

Quotes

Happy are those who die in the Lord.  Happy indeed the Spirit says; now they can rest forever from their work (Revelations 14:13).

In meadows of green grass he lets me lie.  To the waters of repose he leader me: There he revives my soul (Psalm 23:2).

“What eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what has not entered the human heart [is] what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Contact information

Prayers and quotes are from Let Us Pray for Our Faithful Departed (B-11/12) and Twelve Days of Prayer for Your Faithful Departed (B-16/07) from Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

                

April 5, 2019

Death— whether one of many deaths to the false self or our final physical dying— is simply returning to our spacious ground of being, to our foundation in love.  Life doesn’t truly end; it simply changes form and continues evolving into ever new shapes and beauty (Richard Rohr, OFM).

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May Fr. Nacho rest in peace.

Links of interest…  Benedictine benedictions…  Church in San Benito, TX: facebookMass times (more) / website…   Commending the soul to God…  Immeasurable charity of praying for the dead…  Liberating power of the St. Benedict medal (spiritual weapons)…  Making the case for fraternal correction…  Prayers: book /  death & dying / for holy soulsthe deceased – those in purgatory – when one fears death / meditations / more…  Praying the stations of the cross while mourning a loved one’s death…  St. Benedict: medal (braceletjubilee – more – seven things to know) / memorial / prayers: litany – novena – prayers (more)…  Turn mourning into joy

WP posts…  Call of service…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Mourning joy…  Our Lady’s snow…  Pilgrim’s journey…  Prayerful messages…  St. Benedict’s

Sweet treat

January 22, 2019, Steven and I joined the Texas Tropical Trail (TTT) group in Alice, TX for its 158th monthly partner event.  And what a time we had!

Everything— from the morning’s assortment of colorful doughnuts, coffee, and juice at the Chamber of Commerce to the tour of the historic courthouse to lunch at the country club to the four afternoon presentations— kept us clamoring for “more, please.”

The last speaker, Betty Ash, a retired teacher, captivated us beyond imagining.  Her early Jim Wells County history was a firsthand experience: exciting, hilarious, and memorable.  But her Native American stories— a glimpse of South Texas history that’s rarely discussed— had us wholly engrossed.  My hand hurt from trying to jot down every precious morsel.

Two-thirty came around, but we just weren’t ready to go!  So, Nancy Deviney, TTT executive director who plans surprises in advance, eased our reluctance by reminding us of “the optional tour for those of you who are interested.”

Sweet treat

Better than the bonus plan, the unexpected giveaway turned out to be quite a piloncito: the sweet treat that mom’s grandmother would gift to each of her country-store customers (and children) as both a token of appreciation and an incentive to return.

Because we’d visited the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi in January and Pastor Chip Blackshear had told us about the beautiful stained-glass window that had been moved to the church in Alice, Kathy Wemer of the Nueces County Historical Commission had arranged for our group to view the window.  So, eighteen of us rushed to visit with Pastor Kris Bair at the First Presbyterian Church on North Adams Street.

What a pristine sacred space!  Regardless of where one sits or stands, the stained-glass window is the focal point behind the altar: a delectable ethereal delight.

        

           

                    

                       

       

       

       

               

               

Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Dear Lord, please forgive me when I forget that you are God and the owner of my heart, the caregiver of my life and the teacher of my soul.  I confess that the world is convincing in its teaching that the acquisition of material things can bring happiness and that being right and being in power are more important than following you.  Forgive me when I choose to judge others because of their politics, their education, the color of their skin, or the amount of money they have in their pockets.  The love of power, fame, and material wealth can twist my Christian intentions from selflessness to selfishness, from welcoming to wall-building, and from caring to critical.  I repent from my lack of faithfulness and ask that you light the way of love for me to follow so that I might be guided by the truth and the life found within the way of Jesus Christ in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Father, we come to you through your son and our lord, Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit with thanksgiving.  Continue to intervene in our lives in miraculous ways so that we may proclaim your miracles to those near and far from you.  Help us to not be gripped with fear, but instead give us the courage to be your spokespersons.  May you be glorified in all we say and do.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, my God, and King!  I come before you in awe of your greatness.  I pray that in those times of frustration that I will be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love as you are so often with us, your children.  I thank you, Lord, for upholding me when I am falling and raising me up when I am bowed down.  I thank you and praise you for filling all my desires, hearing my cry, and saving me!  Amen.

Holy and most faithful God, we thank you for your grace and for the gift of your Son, Jesus.  Help us turn away from the worldly life of sin and turn instead to Christ Jesus so that your Spirit may dwell in us to give us life and peace.  Thank you that, in Christ, we do not stand condemned.  Thank you for your love and forgiveness which restore us to righteousness.  In Jesus’s name we pray.  Amen.

Lord, we are yours and you are ours.  Help us to sing a new song.  Let us worship you with the entirety of our bodies, thus bearing witness to the Incarnated One.  We pray in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Lord, you are our rock.  You are our foundation in times of darkness, and we know we can trust in you.  Yet sometimes we cannot feel your presence.  Give us strength to praise you and hope in you when we do not have the strength on our own.  Meet us in our despair, gracious God, and hear us when we cry out.  You are the one our souls long for.  We praise and pray to you now in your Holy name.  Amen.

Loving Father, we live in a world with many defined boundaries.  We view people on opposite sides of those boundaries as our enemies, our oppressors.  Purge our feelings of hate, enmity, and bitterness, and replace them with humility, patience, understanding, strength, and courage.  In our difficult work, help us to live with your eyes and your heart in the sure knowledge of our future hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Merciful God, I am grateful that your love surpasses all knowledge and understanding.  It is impossible to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love you have for me.  May you speak to me in my heart to influence, direct, and guide my every step so your purpose for me will be fulfilled to the fullest.  In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

You strengthen us and bless us, O Lord, because of your endless love for us.  This love is too great for us to comprehend, but we thank you for it and for the grace you shower upon us.  How wonderful you are.  You care for us.  You grant us your peace.  When we falter, Lord, you pick us up.  When we stray, you lead us home.  We long to be in your presence and ask for your blessings of strength and comfort that we may shine your light into the world.  We love you, Lord, and praise your name.  Amen.

March 30, 2019

Working on the thank-you card that I’d promised to send Pastor Kris, I googled the address of the church and was stunned to learn that the First Presbyterian Church will close by December 31, 2019.  This is very sad for the church community, but what will become of the beautiful stained-glass windows?  Both a final worship service and a celebration of the life of the church are planned (Meghan Donald; Alice Echo, 2019).

April 5, 2019

The church is not that building.  The church is the people.  The building is the sanctuary where we meet so, if we stay together as a congregation, the church is alive and well.  We can rebuild the building as long as we stay together (Rev. Gerald Toussaint).

Links of interest…  First Presbyterian Church of Alice to close by the end of the year…  History of the stained-glass window originally at the First Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive / publications…  Texas Historic Sites atlas…  Texas Tropical Trail

WP posts…  Authentic delight…  Dunes chapel…  Prayerful messages…  Third charm

Niño de Cebú

What a glorious evening in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebú!  Mass at seven was concelebrated by Bishop Mulvey, Fr. Paul, and Fr. Kisito at St. Pius X in Corpus Christi.

          

Bishop’s homily

It’s good to be with you again this year.  I can’t believe another year has gone by.  Seems like only yesterday— or at least a few weeks ago— that we were here for this beautiful celebration of Santo Niño.  So I’m very happy to be here with you again this evening.

Three epiphanies

You may have noticed in the feast of Epiphany which was two weeks ago that there we spoke of three epiphanies.

The Church has proclaimed that Jesus is made known, revealed in three ways.  So, the first is the Magi that come from afar, meaning that people from everywhere are called to come and adore Christ.  And there they saw the newborn son, the word God come in the flesh.  Last week we celebrated the baptism of the Lord where Jesus reveals— the Holy Spirit reveals— the relationship with God the Father and his son when it is heard, “This is my beloved son.  Listen to him.”  An epiphany.  And, today, as we read the gospel of St. John with Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, again his glory is shown in his first miracle.  Another epiphany.

And so these three epiphanies surround this time of the year as we celebrate the birth of the son of God, his gift to us.

Wedding at Cana

In that wedding feast of Cana, if I were to ask you or you were to ask each other what that feast was about, you could probably recount some of the details of the jars that were there— that were empty, that were filled with water, that Jesus changed them into wine, that Mary asked him to do it— those kinds of things of details.

St. John’s account

Many stories, of course, in forms of jokes, unfortunately, use this particular scene of Jesus’s life for humor.  Yet St. John not only recounts the details, but the beauty of the gospel.  You know, we have Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the synoptics.  They kind of line up with each other, but St. John takes it to another level.  His is the contemplative gospel that recounts events that have happened, but he goes much deeper into the symbolism of what was happening.

From the Jewish culture of which he was a part, he can also see the similarities that Jesus brings by the newness that Jesus adds to it.  So what do we find for our edification tonight at this particular scene of the wedding feast of Cana?

Six, not seven

Number six is one of the significant symbolisms, which you probably have heard if you’ve studied any kind of a Bible course or you’ve attended a class or maybe you’ve heard it in a homily.  But the number seven is the perfect number.  God rested on the seventh day.  So many other increments of seven— forty-nine et cetera— speak of the perfection of God’s work.  And so it’s interesting for St. John that there were six jars, not seven.

Being that there was an insufficiency there, that in this particular wedding feast which, for the Jewish people a wedding feast in a small town or any town was a monumental moment that went all week long, the bride and the groom had to remain dressed in their wedding garments all week.  The doors were open.  People came in and out to visit them and to greet them all week long.  So the wedding feast was extremely important to society, just as for us tonight Santo Niño is a part of the culture of the Philippines, is part of your culture.  And so, when St. John points out that there were only six jars, he’s saying that what is about to happen is the completion of what is insufficient, that Jesus brings something new.

Filling the jars

The stewards were asked to fill those jars with water.  Again, absurd for the wedding feast because, of course, wine was to be there and, as St. John reports, the best wine was to be served first.  And so, to use water meant that something was lacking.

Not knowing what was to happen the stewards, probably with huge questions in their minds, filled the jars with water.  They were instructed by the Blessed Mother— by Mary— to fill them with water.

Today in our sufficiency we would, say, go out to— I won’t name any of the stores around here.  I don’t want to offend anybody.  If you were to go to another one, then I would know.  But we’d just go down the street.  Get some more.  But water?  Water?

The greatest gift

When they did so, Jesus at that moment then changed it not into just regular wine, but to the best of wine which, again, is saying he’s there at that feast, at that important moment.

Some say the bridegroom was a relative of Mary’s somewhere in her family tree, so they were well known there.  But he brings in the best.  And St. John can easily see that it refers to himself and his own ministry that, when Jesus comes to us— when he has come to us— he comes as God’s greatest gift: the best, not just the ordinary, but the very best.

Relationship

We see that, in the book of the prophet Isaiah tonight, when the prophecy of Isaiah speaks of God marrying his people, coming into relationship with his people, which means us, these symbolisms, these realities of marriage, covenant, of wine that we celebrate now in the sacrament here at the altar— all of these are mediums by which God is among us.

Jesus wants to announce in this epiphany at the wedding feast of Cana that, in his person, God is now here with you.  The number six is no longer imperfect.  The water is no longer water, but wine.  And, he is there in their midst, to bring joy to their hearts.  This is the message for you and me tonight.

We can ask in our own lives, have we invited Jesus into our homes?  Do we invite Jesus into our families?  Do we invite Jesus into our difficulties?  Or do we just sit and complain and complain and write letter after letter of anger et cetera?

Inviting Jesus into our lives is what brings something new to any situation or to any relationship.  Without Jesus in our relationship, there is no peace.  And our relationships remain mundane.  We use them, but Jesus wants to be part of our life.  And what is the relationship that Jesus brings?

Love and sacrifice

As we continue on in the gospel of St. John, or if we continue looking there, what is that wine that Jesus brought us?  What is that newness that Jesus brought to the wedding feast where friends were gathered?

It is the wine of the new commandment.  I give you a new commandment: Love one another.

Even if the wedding feast in Jesus takes just human love— just human relationships, a human marriage— and changes it into something new, into something that is vital, something that is life-giving, that couple hopefully one day recalled or heard the words of Jesus.

Love one another.  Sacrifice your life for one another.  That’s what brings joy and peace to people’s lives, not taking away from one another, not extracting life out of others, not commanding others but being there in true harmony as God is harmony himself.  That’s the newness that St. John understands, that Jesus brought to that wedding feast: to be introduced into that couple’s life as he was about to, in the next years, sacrifice for you and for me.

Jesus was meaning to say, then, “Sacrifice your life for one another.”

Sacrifice your life for the good of your brothers and sisters.  Don’t keep Jesus out of your life.  Don’t keep his commandment to love as some abstract suggestion.  It’s at the heart of our lives to love one another as God has loved us in Jesus Christ.

At the end of the gospel reading of the wedding feast at Cana, St. John tells us that Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee.  And so he revealed his glory.  He revealed that something new is here.

So, you want to go along with the crowd?  That’s fine.  But you’ll find nothing new.  Jesus is what’s new even today.  And, St. John says, “His disciples began to believe in him” (John 2:11).

Welcoming heart

The question for us tonight is: Do we believe in him?  Do we believe that he is what’s new?  Do we believe that in our broken Church, our broken world, we need him at our wedding feast?  Do we need him in our lives?  The disciples obviously thought so.  They believed in him.

What does it take to believe, sisters and brothers?  It’s not believing just a bunch of rules and morals and doctrines.  It means believing in the person of Jesus Christ.  And what do we need to do that?  Jesus told us.  “You will not enter the kingdom of God unless you become like a little child.”  There we have the meaning of this night.  Many would say to you probably, “Well, Jesus is not a baby anymore.  He’s a grown up.”  That’s true.  But Santo Niño reminds us that he wants us to have the same humility, the same dependence in our life as a child— as a child.

The role of a child in our Christian faith is not insignificant.  It is extremely important.  So, as we celebrate tonight, as we pray for those who are in harm’s way, perhaps in any way, in the Philippines and beyond, let us remember that it’s being children that we can be open to the newness of God in our life.  It’s a child that throws open the door to friends when they come to the door.  It’s a child who wants to serve.  Let’s have that childlike— not childish, but childlike— heart in our lives that we can welcome the new things that God wants to bring into our lives every day when we say, “Welcome to our feast.  Welcome to my house” (Bishop Michael Mulvey; January 19, 2019; transcribed audio recording, edited).

         

          

                

        

                  

Prayer

Santo Niño, holy child Jesus, we adore you, we hope in you, we love you.  Have mercy on us.  Listen to our prayers, especially to those who are suffering, dying, and grieving.  Help us imitate your humility, simplicity, compassion, total self-giving, and love.  Illumine our minds, purify our hearts, and cleanse our souls, for we wish to glorify you in all that we do so that at the end of our life, we may see you face to face with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

Mother Mary and St. Joseph, through your intercession, may we grow in our love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

January 20, 2019

“It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet” (Pope Francis in Laudato Si).

Our Lady of Sorrows – McAllen, TX

Links of interest…  Child Jesus: coloring pages (more) / devotion / infancy & childhood / just who wasmeditations / miracles (books) / photos / questions & answers / reverence / solemnity / St. Anthonyvisions…  Divine Child: devotion / prayersanctuary…  Holy Infant of Prague: about / brief history / chaplet / feast / history / league / novena / of good health (more) / petitions / prayers in Spanish…  Santo Niño de Atocha: about (more) / chapel / history / miracles (more) / origin / prayers / story…  Santo Niño de Cebú: basilica / devotionfeast (more) / history / homily / novena / origin (more) / perpetual novena / song (YouTube)…  St. John the Baptist Church: facebook / website…  St. Pius X: facebook / Santo Niño devotionwebsite

WP posts…  Beloved joyful priest…  Call of service…  Celebrations…  Christmas year ’round…  Connected tangents…  God’s loving mercy…  Mercy and justice…  On being Christian…  Pink divinity…  Santo Niño…  Sweet Jesus…  Venerable Margaret

Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

Initially the Fullness of Truth Angels and Demons conference was to have been hosted by St. Mary Cathedral but, most likely because of limited on-street parking, the venue was changed to northeast Austin.

Holy Vietnamese Martyrs

The church was beyond gorgeous— eye candy for the mind, heart, and soul— so I made the most of my time between sessions and photographed everything in sight.

September 28-29, 2018

          

         

         

          

        

                       

                  

          

          

         

         

         

          

         

         

          

Fullness of Truth

                  

                  

      

                  

Prayers

Lord, so great is our love for you that, even though we walk in a world where speaking your name can mean certain death, your faithful still speak it— and speak it all the louder.  Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds and pray their prayers without fear of violence.  Hear the prayers of those who abide with you in dangerous times and in dark valleys and who die with your name on their lips.  Draw them quickly to your side where they might know eternal peace.  Amen (Catholic Relief Services).

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you.  And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that, if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadows of death.  I will not fear for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone (Thomas Merton).

O God, source and origin of all fatherhood who kept the martyrs, St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companions, faithful to the cross of your Son even to the shedding of their blood, grant, through their intercession, that, spreading your love among our brothers and sisters, we may be your children both in name and in truth.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen (The Roman Missal).

Señor, tan grande es nuestro amor por ti que, a pesar de que vivimos en un mundo donde pronunciar tu nombre puede significar una muerte segura, tus fieles aún lo dicen— y lo dicen con más fuerza.  Ayúdanos a trabajar por un mundo donde todos pueden hablar sus credos y rezar sus oraciones sin miedo a la violencia.  Escucha las oraciones de los que están contigo en tiempos difíciles y en los valles oscuros y que mueren con tu nombre en sus labios.  Llévalos pronto a tu lado donde puedan conocer la paz eterna.  Amen (CRS).

January 2, 2019

“Intimacy with the Lord is not a matter of physical kinship; rather, it is achieved by cheerful readiness to do the will of God” (St. Basil the Great).

January 3, 2019

The gift of faith, which comes to us from God, is a sublime grace.  But we are not intended to keep it to ourselves— in effect, to bury it in the ground.  The apostolic fishermen were ordained to be fishers of souls and not custodians of an aquarium (Fr. George W. Rutler in Hints of Heaven).

January 5, 2019

My God, how great you are, how wonderful in all your works!  Teach me your will that I may begin and end all my actions for your greater glory (St. John Neumann).

April 9, 2019

This is the perfect will of God for us: You must be holy.  Holiness is the greatest gift that God can give us because for that reason he created us.  Sanctity is a simple duty for you and me.  I have to be a saint in my way and you in yours (St. Teresa of Calcutta in The Love that Made Mother Teresa).

Links of interest…  Fullness of Truth: Angels & Demons / Why do Catholics do that…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs church: facebook / Mass times / photos / website…  St. Andrew Dung-Lac & companions117 martyrs / about (more) / Nov 24 (more) / prayer / quote

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  St. Austin Church…  St. Mary revisited…  St. Mary’s…  St. Michael chaplet…  Two angels…  Welcoming spirit

Welcoming spirit

The last weekend in September we attended the Angels and Demons Fullness of Truth conference at Holy Vietnamese Martyrs in Austin but, instead of returning there for Saturday evening Mass, we opted for Sunday morning Mass at St. Albert the Great.

Ten o’clock Mass

We arrived half an hour early to take photos as quietly as possible without disturbing anyone, and I did fine— until an older couple noticed me nearby.

The woman stood to speak.  “Are we going to be in your photos?”  And, before I even had the chance to answer, she added, “Because we don’t want our pictures taken.”

“Oh, no,” I said, trying to calm her.  “I’m only photographing the stations of the cross.  Aren’t they beautiful?”

I moved along to the Blessed Mother’s side altar and basked in her presence.  I was so grateful for her understanding that I couldn’t stop smiling.

Welcoming spirit

Then, out of nowhere, a crystalline voice called out to me!  Our Lady!  A child?  The Holy Infant filled me with so much love, joy, and peace that I wanted to cry!  My mind, heart, and soul scrambled to make meaning.  Was anyone even there?

I turned around and quickly surmised that, in wanting to console me, Our Lady had sent a child— a beautiful, precocious little emissary with a welcoming spirit— to help me see that everything was fine.

“Why are you taking all those pictures?” the youngster asked with great confidence and an even bigger grin.

Memories rushed my senses as I was transported to the familiar: the many fun lively discussions with my students over the years.  I felt totally at ease, wholly immersed in the teachable moment.  So, maintaining a respectful distance three chairs away from where the little boy sat, I bent forward slightly to chat from where I stood in the aisle as, no doubt, Our Lady listened in on the animated tête-à-tête she’d so graciously arranged.

          

          

          

          

          

          

          

      

      

         

Prayers

God, you made St. Albert great by enabling him to combine human wisdom and divine faith.  Help us to adhere to his teaching that we may progress in the sciences and… come to a deeper understanding and love of you.  Amen.

When I feel rejected…  Loving God, you made me who I am.  I praise you and love you, for I am wonderfully made in your own image.  But, when people make fun of me, I feel hurt, embarrassed, and even ashamed.  So, please, God, help me remember my own goodness which lies in you.

Help me remember my dignity, which you gave me when I was conceived.  Help me remember that I can live a life of love because you created my heart.  Be with me, loving God, when people hate me.  Help me to respond how you would want me to— with a love that respects others but also respects me.  Help me find friends who love me for who I am.  Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.

And, God, help me remember that Jesus loves me; for he was seen as an outcast.  He was misunderstood.  He was beaten and spat upon.

Jesus understands me and loves me with a special love because of the way you made me.  And, when I am feeling lonely, help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend.  Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them.  He encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity, even when others were blind to seeing that dignity.  Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him.  And he loves me, too.

One more thing, God.  Help me remember that nothing is impossible with you, that you have a way of making things better, that you can find a way of love for me even if I can’t see it right now.

Help me remember all these things in the heart you created, loving God.  Amen (James Martin, SJ; edited).

St. Albert quotes

“I have never gone out to mingle with the world without losing something of myself.”

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man and man to God.”

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his.  Therefore she is unsure in herself.  What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions.  And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil….  Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man.  Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good.  [Poppycock!  And we wonder why Church (big C) is the way it is?!!]

November 6, 2018

To discover that you are loved is the center of all existence.  And, when we are filled with this total and delirious love, little by little, we grow and love in turn.  That gradualness in our journeys is a sign of the infinite tenderness of God (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

November 14, 2018

When does God speak to us?  He speaks at all times, especially in prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  But it is not a monologue.  When we pray, then, we should also listen (Fr. Kilian J. Healy in Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God).

November 28, 2018

We do not define ourselves as men or as women through our work, our house, our health, or our reputation.  We define ourselves as men and women through the way we love (Simone Troisi & Cristiana Paccini in Chiara Corbella Petrillo).

Links of interest…  Albertus Magnus quotes (more)…  Church & science are not at war…  Good science/bad science…  Mary’s intercession speeds up the hour of grace…  Meditation vs. reflection…  Statements on women by church doctors, fathers, & saints…  St. Albert the Great: about / champion of faith & reasonchurch (bulletins) / doctor of the church / litanyMarian prayerNov 15 / novenaoptional memorial / prayer chainscientist (more)…  Tune into silence

WP posts…  Holy Vietnamese Martyrs…  Marian devotions…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  St. Austin…  St. Jude chapel…  St. Mary Cathedral…  St. Mary revisited