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).

(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)…

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Blessed blessing

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I accessed Holy Rosary Cathedral for morning Mass online and soon became greatly concerned for Fr. Stanley Galvon, the good-natured rector, but all I could do was jot down observations along with my notes on his homily.

Wow.  Before starting the offertory prayers, Fr. Stanley stood at the altar, looked straight ahead as if distracted and upset, trying to clear his mind, heart, and soul.  And he did what I’d never seen him do before: he let out a long breath before taking on the task at hand.  I’d noticed first off at the beginning of Mass that his voice was different, that he lacked his usual upbeat-but-peaceful expression.  Maybe he’d been crying?  Or maybe he had a bit of a cold?  His homily, too, was brief and less inspiring (in-depth).  And he blundered here and there, stumbling on words more than the norm so that I was concerned, and curious, running various scenarios in my head as I wondered why he was so troubled.

I wondered, too, if his other viewers had come away with similar thoughts because it’s funny and somewhat strange how we get to know, intuit, things about folks even when we’ve never met face-to-face.  But, since I couldn’t do anything to help Fr. Stanley, I simply asked God to please watch over him as I kept him in my thoughts and prayers.

Then, here today, because of Fr. Arsene’s homily, I googled to learn more about the remains of the two-hundred-fifteen Indigenous children discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada and found the article by Tracey Lindeman in Ottawa (The Guardian; May 28, 2021) from the same morning that Fr. Stanley had appeared so distraught during nine-fifteen Mass.  So, now I understand the great loss and trauma of the past two weeks.

(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.)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercy and the God of all consolation who consoles us in all our affliction so that we may be able to console those who are [afflicted with the need for] consolation with which we, ourselves, are consoled by God.  I [can] summarize [this by] saying [that] you are consoled to become a counselor.  You are blessed to become a blessing for others.

Brothers and sisters, these last few days our conscience and our society have been tormented by the discovery about the residential school in Kamloops.  I know it’s a very delicate matter because it is political, sociological, historical; and it continues to divide people until now.  I don’t want to look at that fact in those dimensions: political, historical, sociological.  I would like to look at that spiritually in this homily, since the first reading speaks about giving consolation to others, as well as God [giving] us consolation whenever we are afflicted.  And the gospel speaks about the Beatitudes, among which the blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called “children of God.”

Dear brothers, dear sisters— you and I— we can’t change the story of what happened.  We can’t change the past.  But you and I can bring consolation to those who suffer the most due to what happened.  We all felt sorrow and pain to hear about such a story, but I think of all those who are more connected to that story by their identity.  And I think that they need more consolation than me.

We can only imagine the pain, the sorrow, the trauma, that such a discovery can reawaken.  In the hearts, spirits, and personhood of our brothers and sisters indigenous, it can be horrible.  Do we have any power to change that?  The easy answer is no because we all like easy answers, easy thoughts.  It is easier to say that we are sorry and to continue our business.  Facing the reality alone could stop us from doing our business.  Facing the reality can bring us to the edge of the unknown.  And we are frightened by that when we don’t know what could be the outcome, or when we sense that outcome… would be a heavy burden for our conscience….  But we need to face it because we can’t hide from the reality, but the reality will always face us.  That’s why, in today’s gospel, Jesus is urging us to be peacemakers to demonstrate that we are children of God.

A peacemaker is not always at peace when they are actively holding to that identity.  Sometimes they are flawed.  Sometimes they are misunderstood even by those they are trying to help.  But a peacemaker needs to be patient with all.  A peacemaker needs to be courageous.  A peacemaker needs to be ready for hard times.  But the great secret of a peacemaker is to know that they will never lose the peace of their heart, and they can bring peace in the hearts of others.  The world can be against them; but God will always be their consolation.  And they will always have an infinite peace of mind and spirit.

Now, how can this be applied to the current situation?

Our brothers and sisters in need of us are children of God, and each one of us is just like me and you.  And each one of us has their own issues, that’s true.  But the issue of the discovery about the residential schools is an issue that questions our humanity, your humanity, my humanity.  As I said, we can’t change the past, but we can heal the present and prevent the future.

As individuals, this is the time to bring consolation to our brothers and sisters who are re-living their historical trauma.  Can we bring peace to their hearts?  Can we bring consolation in their lives?  We are not a system— we can’t change the system— but we can change the reality of individuals.  As children of God, we should try that.  It is morally mandatory.  But how?

I would say that each one of us has their own way to act, but the correct [way] is, at least, to interact with those we meet.  Each one of us would like to be heard whenever we go through sorrows.  Am I ready to sacrifice my time and spend it with a brother or a sister who is mourning in trauma?  Sometimes you don’t need to talk.  Sometimes you just need to show the other person that you’re present for them, that you’re listening to them, that you are a brother or a sister sharing the same humanity.

May the Holy Spirit give us the courage to take the initiation to interact with brothers and sisters in sorrow in this moment.  You may interact only with one person in a whole month, [but] the most important is not the quantity.  The most important is the quality of interaction.  If you can listen carefully and with empathy, if you can bring consolation, if you can cry with, if you can identify with the human being in front of you, then you will be a peacemaker.  Then you will bring peace in the heart of the brother or the sister, and you will demonstrate to be a child of God.

You are consoled to be a counselor.  You are blessed to be a blessing.  Don’t be passive.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t be scared.  God will show the way.

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Links of interest…  Canada: Remains of 215 children found at indigenous residential school site…  Eight beatitudes of Jesus (card)…  Fr. Stanley Galvon…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Meaning outrage in The Review…  Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Cathedral: architecture / bells / crucifix / history / Mass (archives) / vespers (pdf) / website / windows…  Remains of 215 indigenous children have been found at a former school in Canada

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Corpus Christi

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I first happened upon St. Michael the Archangel Church quite by chance while waiting for online Mass to begin elsewhere on Mother’s Day and was so captivated by Fr. Kishore Babu Battu’s homily— an insightful, heartfelt tribute to his mom— that I returned a couple of times to replay the recorded video and soak in the love.  So, for the feast of Corpus Christi, I decided to tune in again but found, instead, a sweet priest with a boyish sense of humor and a memorable story just right for the whole family.

(Today’s homily, recorded, transcribed, and edited, was delivered by Fr. Alan Zobler, OSFS, visiting priest at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Monroe, MI.)

It’s once again very good to be back with all of you and to celebrate on this, the feast of Corpus Christi.  Please bear with me for the story that I’m going to tell.  I promise I’ll do my best to connect it to the feast.

Back in September I had two consecutive weekends in Cincinnati for weddings, [so] the very first weekend I was there— between rehearsals and the time in which I needed to be there for the actual wedding ceremony— I went to a park.

Gorgeous day, and… a really nice chance to be outside when such a strange part of our year was still unfolding.  I was sitting at a picnic table over this beautiful escarpment.  I can’t remember the valley that I was looking over, but it was just this wonderful summer-nearly-beginning-of-fall day.  And I was grading papers since the school year had just begun.

People were gathered but distanced from one another that afternoon and, as people passed, there was one individual who stood out from everyone else.  This man had his dog on a leash and, close behind, was a goose, like, on high-alert close proximity.

I said, “Sir!  Be careful there.  You’ve got a goose coming up on you.”  And he just looked back saying, “Ah, that’s fine.”  But I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

When the man went over to a spigot to get his dog some water, the goose was right behind.  The man splashed water in the goose’s face, too.  And they were in tandem, doing everything together until the man dropped the leash, stepped away, and walked about for a few minutes.

I was fixated.  What was going on?  I couldn’t imagine a man walking a goose along with his dog.

The man picked up the dog leash.  “Okay, let’s go!”  But the goose didn’t budge, so the man kept talking with passersby.

“How long have you had the goose?” someone asked.

“We’ve had Bobby five or six months now.  We taught the dog to ring a bell so that we know to let him out.  And Bobby does the same thing.  Wherever the dog goes, Bobby goes along with.”

My jaw dropped.  How does a goose think it’s a dog?

The man started to leave.  “Bobby!  Let’s go!”

The goose followed but, along the way back to the car, the goose got distracted.

“Bobby!” the man called out.  Nothing.  Then, about a hundred feet away, the man yelled one more time.  “Bobby!  We’re leaving!  Let’s go!”  And off the goose waddled.

Now, I promised to relate this story to today’s gospel, so here’s the rest of the story.

In response to the question that the man was asked— “How did you get the goose?”— he replied, “Last March I was driving back to our ranch when I spotted a family of geese, along with the mother, on the side of the road.  I thought they were all dead but, when we got down, this little guy ran over and swooped up Bobby.  And he’s been with us ever since.”

So, on this feast of Corpus Christi, I think of families in distress: families that seem to have been abandoned on the side of the road; families that have been neglected, rejected, forgotten; family members that have been separated from each other because of their misdeeds.  Some are facing desperate times, like that baby goose on the side of the road; but there’s something greater than life’s circumstances.

We have God who swooped down and simply loved us; God who, in our darkness, brought light; God who, in our brokenness, brought healing, forgiveness, and grace.  God didn’t just take us in and say, “Come on into my home, come into my life;” but invited us in a very real way to take part in his divine life.

Born out of a place of love, bread and wine can become something truly redeeming when it comes from a place of love, sacrificing love, love that trusts, love that surrenders, love that journeys with others and is willing to take whatever dark moment and make heaven known.

Brothers and sisters, this feast that we celebrate today is absolutely born out of love.  And, the good news is that it’s here for us every day of our faith journey.  May we never take it for granted.  May we be continuously transformed by it.  May our hearts be focused on making sure that we become Christ-like for others.  And, through our efforts, may God be blessed.

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Links of interest…  Archdiocese of Detroit…  Corpus Christi: celebrating / feast / origins / sermons / story…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  Fr. Zobler’s sermons…  St. Michael the Archangel Church: archiveshistory / links / look inside / Mass / media / prayers / website

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Truth

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Listening to Tobit 2:9-14, I rebelled within.  Why is this part of today’s readings? I wondered, rolling my eyes.  He’s no Job!  But, today’s online homily helped me look beyond Tobit to appreciate Anna, the unrelenting voice of reason, during— despite— her husband’s exasperation with life.

(Fr. Gerard Braun, whose homily was recorded, transcribed, and lightly edited, is pastor at St. Michael’s in Grand Forks, ND until June twenty-third, when he trades places with the pastor at St. Anthony’s in Fargo.)

One time a gentleman was very proud about how much he gave to the Lord. He said, “I take a thousand dollars in my hand every day, and I throw it up in the air. Whatever stays up is God’s; whatever comes down is mine.”

Obviously, it’s twisted logic; so, likewise, the logic of the Pharisees today. They miss the point that, you know, on the one hand, you give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s. Well, everything is God’s. Are their hearts given over to the Lord truly from the heart so that they could see God in their midst? In Jesus, could they recognize his holiness? Not if their hearts weren’t given to holiness, rather looking for self-concern and whatever it was that blinded them from seeing God’s presence in their midst. Pure love. So it is for all of us at times the failure to see the wonder of God’s mystery of love.

Justin Martyr, who was a martyr in the Church in 165 AD, found his way, first of all, through the study of philosophy. He was a philosopher [like those] of that time, Greek and Roman. But reason alone wasn’t giving him peace until someone introduced him to the prophets and, thus, Christianity. And then comes a far deeper wisdom than just what the mind can figure out— the wisdom of the heart; the wisdom of love; the wisdom of a God who would give himself on a cross for us to show us what love looks like and to not just show us, but to live it himself.

God gave his life for us, as love will do. No greater love than this than to lay down your life. And that, of course, led him to be this great apologist. That means one who teaches and defends the faith. And, as he stood before the Roman procurator [who asked] “Do you really believe that you’re going to some other place after we take your life from you? Do you really believe that?” before he beheaded him, [Justin Martyr] said, “I don’t believe it. I know it!”

That knowledge of faith, that knowledge of the heart, the truth that we begin to know— that we know that we know— because of a relationship. Just like you know a spouse, [just like] you know someone, we come to know God because we walk with him. And, thus, everything is God’s. It’s not like, well, I’ll give some to God and some— everything of my life is God’s. If he asks for it, then I must give it. I can’t hold back if the Lord requests and calls me to really empty myself as God did for us. To empty myself as God did for us. To be ready to give all.

One quick comment, too. Not to complicate the waters but, in the beautiful first reading, Tobit who got the bird droppings in his eyes, was a pretty righteous man. But now he’s in awful straits, and his wife has to challenge him. He’s filled with anger now, right? And for four years he’s angry [that he] lost his freedom [and] has to depend on his wife and her salary to feed them, so he’s just lashing out [like] when we get angry.

And, you know, when we have a bad day, whomever is in the way gets it sometimes. But this one person said, “We all need a truth teller in our life.” If you’re a leader and you put together a team, make sure one person on that team has the courage to tell you the truth about yourself so that you’re not always listening to the yes people. “Oh, yes, whatever you say”— pandering to you and whatever you want. Those aren’t the people you want on your team always. You want the one who’s going to tell you the truth, to help guide you.

Well, that’s who Tobit’s wife was. She said, “Look at the truth about yourself. You think you’re so righteous, and pretty soon you’re filled with anger and bitterness and resentment. Where’s your righteousness now?” She had to tell him the truth about himself.

Thus, with humility comes deeper conversion to realize we all need that truth to find our weaknesses and sins so that we can grow closer to the Lord through his mercy and forgiveness.

Links of interest…  Book of Tobit (lesson – more) / story / summary / wife (Anna)…  Justin Martyr: about / apologist / five lessons / quotes / saint (more)… Mass (world-wide listings)…  St. Anthony of Padua: diocese / Mass / website…  St. Michael Church: live stream (archives) / Mass / website…  Tobit & Tobias? Their lives are just like ours

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Sunset

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Ever since Zoom Masses ended at our local church, we’ve enjoyed online services in other places— some familiar, some new— in the U.S. and Vancouver, too.  And some, like the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, we visit for noontime inspiration, like today’s uplifting homily from Deacon A. David Warriner, Jr. (recorded and transcribed).

I recall to this day an occurrence that happened in the, I guess the early- to mid-seventies.  I was making a trip from Shreveport, LA to Jackson, MS; and it was evening time.  It was sunset.  And, the sun sets in the west; so I’m driving east.  Out of my rear-view mirror and my side mirrors I see this gorgeous-gorgeous glow.  Can’t describe it.  Just this gorgeous glow.

I drove on and, as I drove, I saw people sitting up on the sides of the interstate.  It was a little bit hilly there— not like New Orleans— but they had moved up the hills and they were just sitting there and looking.  So, I pulled over and got out and looked.

That sunset was the most gorgeous sunset that I have ever seen in my life.  There were hues of gold and yellow and just brilliant light everywhere you could see.  Everything took on that bright-bright glow.  It was definitely something that has left an impression on me.

God’s glory is seen in his creation.  That’s a good example.  As the rising sun is clear to all, yet even God’s holy ones must fail in recounting the wonders of the Lord.  We don’t fully understand our God.  These words come from the book of Sirach.

Sirach is characterized by scripture scholars as wisdom literature.  For us to understand that wisdom literature— what it is— it’s to think with the mind of God and to see with the eye of God.  So, Sirach in that book goes through this great effort to try to explain God; and, even he admits that he is failing in his attempt to do that.  So, what is the passage telling us?  What is Jesus’s Sirach trying to tell us as he recorded these inspiring words?

First of all, God is all-powerful.  Secondly, God is majestic.  And, third, God and his creation are filled with his splendor.  God’s glory fills every bit of the works of his creation.

Bartimaeus said to Jesus, “Master, I want to see.”

Now, as the gospel passage tells us, Bartimaeus was a blind beggar on the roadside; and Jesus and his disciples were making their way down that road.  When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was coming, something sparked that blind beggar to cry out.  He called for the help of Jesus.  There was something special about Jesus, and he recognized that.

In that short little passage, we see this encounter come to its fulfillment.  Jesus calls him over and says, “What would you have me do for you?”

Those beautiful words.  “Master, I want to see.  Master, I want to see.”

Now, let’s be real about this.  All of us— each and every one of us, no matter where we are or where we come from— are blind in some way.  Each one of us needs in some way to be able to see.  So, what is it that we need to see?  Maybe it is asking for strength in times of trial.  Maybe it is asking for faith in times of unbelief.  Maybe it is an asking for what will be coming to us— that hope that our faith tells us to be so true to.  Maybe it’s a healing, a job, a place to live, help for a family member, relief from the stress of life, food to eat, clothes to wear.  All of us, in some way, need to see.  So, what do we do about this?  And what lessons can we learn from what holy Mother Church has given us in scripture today?

First of all, faith.  Turn to God; turn to God with our needs.  Ask for what we need.  Whatever it is, there’s nothing too small, nothing too large, for Jesus.  And, if it is the impossible that we seek, do as Bartimaeus did: Ask for a miracle!  God is full of miracles.  And, if we take the time to look around, we see those every day.  This occurs in our interchanges with the Lord.  We more commonly call that prayer.

God listens!  We know that God listens.  God grants what we really need.  It may not be exactly what we ask for, but God certainly knows better than us what it is that we need.

So, Sirach tells us that God is all-powerful, that God is majestic, and that God is filled with splendor.  And the Lord’s glory fills all of his work.

I saw the Lord’s glory in that sunset driving to Jackson, MS that day.  It left me with a lasting impression: If we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, which sacred scripture tells us over and over and over, should he not listen?  Should God not be attentive to what we need?  After all, God knows better than we do.

Faith saved Bartimaeus.  Is our faith enough to save us?

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Links of interest…  Archdiocese of New Orleans…  Mass (world-wide listings)…  St. Louis Cathedral: daily saints / history / Mass / photos / tours / website...  What can we learn from blind Bartimaeus

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Stations

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

1st: Jesus is condemned to death

You suffered for us, O blessed Jesus.  It was our sins that condemned you to death.  Grant that we may obtain your mercy and pardon through repentance.

             

               

2nd: Jesus carries his cross

O Jesus, grant us the ability to embrace the difficulties of our life.
Make us ever ready to take up our cross and follow you.

               

               

3rd: Jesus falls the first time

O Jesus, you bore the heavy burden of the cross for our sins.
May your suffering make us watchful and keep us from sin.

               

             

4th: Jesus meets his mother

O Jesus, have compassion on us and give us a share in Mary’s intercession.
O Mary intercede for us that we may find our way back to God.

               

               

5th: Simon helps carry the cross

O Lord Jesus, may it be our privilege to bear our cross.
May we rejoice if we should be counted worthy to suffer for your name’s sake.

               

               

6th: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

O Jesus, may the thought of your suffering move us with deep compassion.
Kindle in our hearts a more fervent love for you.
May your image be engraved in our minds until we are completely yours.

               

               

7th: Jesus falls the second time

O Jesus, how often have you mourned us by our repeated falls into sin.
May we choose not to offend you.

               

               

8th: Jesus consoles the women

O Jesus, we mourn for you and for ourselves
Teach us to be more like you.

               

               

9th: Jesus falls the third time

O Jesus, we ask that you pardon our frequent relapses into sin.
May the thought of your suffering help us be our best.

               

               

10th: Jesus is stripped of his garments

O Jesus, strip us of all false esteem, conceit, and pride and make us humble
so that we can share your glory in the life to come.

               

               

11th: Jesus is nailed to the cross

O Jesus, nailed to the cross, fasten our hearts to the cross
so that we may be united with you.

               

               

12th: Jesus dies on the cross

O Jesus, we devoutly embrace your saving cross on which you died
so that we may have eternal life.
We honor your cross and lovingly accept our own.

               

               

13th: Jesus is taken down from the cross

O Mary, your grief must have been great as your son was put to death.
By his death and resurrection we have become children in Christ.
Help us be like your son, Jesus.

               

               

14th: Jesus is laid in the tomb

Lord, your suffering is over.  Sin, death, and hell have been conquered.
Be the King of my heart.  I surrender myself to your holy will.
I am yours.  May your kingdom come.

               

               

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

Contact information

Stations prayers are based on Reflections on the Stations of the Cross (B-8/15) from the St. Jude Shrine, 512 West Saratoga Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1805.

Pictured stations: (top) St. Cecilia (Los Fresnos, TX), Our Lady of Good Counsel (Brownsville, TX), St. Cecilia (Wisconsin Dells); (bottom) St. Joseph (Sunnyside, WA), St. Luke (Brownsville, TX), and St. Jude Thaddeus (Pharr, TX), respectively.

Prayers

Accept today, Lord, my humble and contrite heart.  Forgive my actions that have caused pain to others.  Show me the way forward that I might act in accordance with your divine and awesome love in all things great and small.  To the praise and glory of your name always, now, and forever.  Amen (Pittsburg Theological Seminary [PTS]).

Almighty God, soften my heart and let me see the extent to which I have sinned against your holiness and the creatures you love.  Though I can only see pain ahead for now, I accept your judgment and pray that, in your wrath, you will remember mercy.  Amen (PTS).

Dear God, as we follow Jesus and commit ourselves afresh to living for him in the world, we pray not only for ourselves and others who trust in Jesus— we ask that you will also hear our prayers in behalf of people who do not yet know him.  May we share and show God’s love to all whom you bring our way.  Amen (PTS).

God, devoted companion, grace us with prayerful resolve so that this might be a fruitful time for each of us, a time of true repentance, reflection, and self-discipline.  May these forty days be for us a pilgrimage into your heart and into deeper solidarity with our sisters and brothers within the human family.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen (Larry Livingston from Unbound).

God, your love for us is deep and mysterious.  In this time of anxiety, bless us with the strength and the wisdom to place our trust in you.  As your son, Jesus, prayed for resolve in the garden, so may we have the resolve to endure our current trials.  As he sacrificed his life out of love for us, may we dedicate our own sacrifices, big and small, to the care of our world, especially those most in need.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Livingston).

God, help us to know that you do not forsake us, that your steadfast love, grace, and mercy are always present in our lives.  Let us rejoice and say “God is good” even when to our prayer we do not get the answer we so desperately want.  Amen (PTS).

God of hope, guide us to look closer, so that we may see the potential of marginalized people.  Strengthen us to walk with those dismissed because of gender, ethnicity, race, religion, age, disability, poverty, or other circumstances.  Help us love, cherish, and believe in them the way you love, cherish, and believe in all your children.  We ask this in your holy name.  Amen (Loretta Shea Kline).

Gracious and compassionate God, be with us in our lament.  Turn our hearts and our most inmost parts toward seeing anew, toward the suffering that we ourselves experience in this moment, and toward the suffering that others experience because of our shared rebellion.  Bring us this day into the grace of knowing that our suffering is that of others also, that our lament is their lament.  And bring us into the grace of praying that our understanding may become full and of praying for a fullness of understanding that all may share.  Amen (PTS).

Gracious God, in the midst of busy contemporary life, we pause to listen prayerfully and expectantly to the ancient voice of the psalmist, as across the centuries it speaks to us of your gift of spiritual assurance in our times of uncertainty.  We offer our profound gratitude for your promises given.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen (PTS).

Holy God, at times we feel as though your face is hidden from us.  Speak love to us.  Gather us back.  Show us your face. Remind us that your love carries us, no matter how interesting the times in which we are living.  Amen (PTS).

Jesus, help us to follow you as you walk the way of the cross.  May we not lose heart in the face of suffering.  Amen (Franciscan Media [FM]).

Jesus, keep us faithful to you. When our faith is tested, may we not betray your trust.  May we always be your servants, even in times of suffering.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, may we put faith in you and in the works you do in fulfillment of the Father’s will.  May we help others come to believe in you.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, lifted up on the cross, draw us to yourself.  As we sign ourselves with your cross, remind us that we belong to you.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, may our attitude be yours.  Help us to let go of all that keeps us from life with you.  May today for us be a day of salvation.  Amen (FM).

Jesus, we stand with Mary at the foot of your cross.  Entrust us to her care.  May she ever lead us to you in the heart of the church.  Amen (FM).

Most gracious and loving God, on the night of Jesus’s birth, his cry burst into song and changed history.  As he grew, his teachings became life-changing songs of love.  When he was tried, crucified, and then died, the world thought his song was silenced.  His resurrection brought forth a glorious song of unending love.  Help us never to forget that, if Christ’s song is to continue, we must do the singing.  May we sing a jubilant song of faith, hope, love, and justice on earth as it is in heaven.  In Christ we pray, amen (PTS).

O Lord Jesus Christ, you died to save us.  You stretched your arms on the cross to embrace the world and gather us as your people in the church.  We rejoice!  May we share our lives with others who love you— and with the world you love so deeply.  Amen (PTS).

O Lord of infinite forgiveness and love, rouse our hearts to see the holy in the hustle and bustle, to feel the peace in the noise and chaos, and to experience your grace anew.  Amen (PTS).

Our heavenly Father, you have ordered the universe with physical laws that control the stars above and the world below.  You have given us life and the freedom to choose our path.  Help us to avoid the modern-day plagues that tempt us daily; help us discover the life-giving universal laws found in your word.  Light the way with your love….  Amen (PTS).

Suffering Lord, may we walk with you on the way of the cross.  Strengthen us to let go of selfish ambition and join you in serving others.  Amen (FM).

When our enemies surround us and plot against us, Lord, rescue us from their clutches and defend us from harm.  Be our strength and our salvation.  Amen (FM).

March 4, 2020

Lent opens with a piercing sound, that of a trumpet that does not please the ears, but instead proclaims a fast.  It is a loud sound that seeks to slow down our life, which is so fast-paced yet often directionless.  It is a summons to stop— a halt!— to focus on what is essential, to fast from the unnecessary things that distract us.  It is a wake-up call for the soul (Pope Francis).

March 5, 2020

“We could not go to Calvary to offer ourselves with him and thus share in the fruits of his sacrifice, so Jesus brought Calvary to us” (Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik in The Basic Book of the Eucharist).

March 8, 2020

“Faith isn’t primarily about rituals and rules, but about walking with God” (Alice Camille in We Journey Together, 2020, p. 13).

March 22, 2020

In times such as these, O God, we wait in Lenten apprehension and hope, longing for the preservation of humanity, the restoration of your creation, and the redemption of both through the sustaining and transforming presence of your Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our world (PTS).

March 26, 2020

We are not to be without pain.  Pain is Jesus suffering in us, but we are to look to him for strength and courage.  We are to learn this ability to shoulder our cross by gazing at him and being gentle and humble in heart (Mother Angelica in Suffering and Burnout).

March 27, 2020

Love and sacrifice are not the same thing, but they are inseparable.  To think of Christ and to think of the cross is not the same thing, but the association is so close that the implication is immediate.  Where love has been preached without sacrifice, it has not led to love but to license (Hubert Van Zeller in How to Find God).

April 12, 2020

Our Lord and our God, on this day when we celebrate your resurrection, help us to come to understand that Easter is much more than a one-day celebration each year.  Help all of us to know and understand ourselves as an “image of You.”  And empower us to live out our daily lives as your image to our family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and yes, even, our enemies.  Amen (PTS).

May 14, 2020

By dying on the cross for us, Jesus showed to what lengths God would go in his love for man; by dying for the glory of the Father, he expressed the depth of the love of man for God.  The cross is the supreme symbol of this love (Luis M. Martinez in True Devotion to the Holy Spirit).

June 22, 2020

“The great secret of a fervent life is to take as our ideal the maxim: Act on all occasions as our Lord would have acted had he been in our place” (Raoul Plus, SJ, in How To Pray Always).

July 28, 2020

“If the Passion of Christ is a way of pain, it is also a path of hope leading to certain victory” (Blessed Alvaro del Portillo).

September 14, 2020

“Glory be to you who laid your cross as a bridge over death, that souls might pass over it from the dwelling of the dead to the dwelling of life” (St. Ephrem).

December 3, 2020

“I believe that I shall be saved… for your mercy is greater than the malice of my sins” (St. Francis Xavier).

Links of interest…  Aventine meditations…  Earthbeat…  Easter/Lent (meditations)…  Forty days at the foot of the cross…  Franciscan Media: Lent with the saints…  Holy Week: 1st four days / Triduum…  Lent’s reward…  Loving with all our being…  Meditations for Lent…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive…  Prayer before the crucifix…  Praying Lent…  Resurrection…  St. Jude Shrine…  Stations of the Cross: about / devotion / fish eaters / for families / for kids (downloadable) / how to do / origin / prayers / printables  / puppet show / significance / unique chant / way of the cross / what are…  Via Crucis at the Colosseum with Pope Francis

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Capuchin church stations…  Christ’s passion…    Concrete abstraction…  For all time…  Full circle…  God’s lovely gifts…  Growing pains…  Lady of sorrows…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Lingering memory…  Pilgrim’s journey…  Prayerful ways…  Quiet prayer time…  Sioux chapel stations…  Simple yet profound…  Sorrowful redemption

Unsmiling disbelief

main altar in church

Sunday evening (bilingual) Mass at St. Cecilia’s in Los Fresnos, TX was— how do I put this delicately— interesting and unlike anything Steven and I had ever experienced before.  While the setting was lovely and inviting with lots of concrete benches in the churchyard and parishioners were cordial and glad to see visitors, the pastor was such an outlier that we didn’t know whether to be amused or concerned.

After Mass, I googled the priest on my tablet the moment we got back to our vehicle.  I wanted to understand why we’d been subjected to such unorthodox behavior during Mass.  The man had read the day’s written gospel interspersed with his own personal statements!  Who does that?

To make matters worse, the homily was tasteless and totally bizarre.  Was the priest having an off day?  Was he drunk?  Was he high?  Was this his usual comportment— or just theatrics for effect?  We’d never seen or heard anything like it!

Sitting on the fifth pew on the left before the ambo I sat there in unsmiling disbelief as my mind wandered momentarily.  What would Bishop Danny say?  Does he know?  Has anyone checked on the parish?  Don’t priests get evaluated the way teachers do?  Or is any priest better than none?  I missed Fr. George’s power-packed homily back home, but I’d appreciate him that much more soon enough.

Having visited a plethora of sacred spaces in my lifetime, I’ve seen and heard things that make me wonder how good people put up with what they face day in and day out within their parishes.  And, while I’ve never asked about church dynamics (because it’s not my place to do so), I’ve been told by some that they’ve “prayed for years” for a down-to-earth, welcoming priest instead of one who resents his assignment.  But we’ve also delighted in beautiful celebrations that make us want to belong.

So, except for mentally preparing for the photo opportunities— statues, stained-glass windows, stations of the cross— preconceived notions and expectations aren’t really part of the plan.  We’re usually so eager to experience a new church community that we count the days until our first visit.

Like crushing on a first love, we look ahead to that wonderful, memorable experience— the church, the people, the priest— that will remain with us going forward.  That said, St. Cecilia’s facebook page has positive comments.  Some parishioners love their church, so we’ll keep an open mind when we attend Mass in English next time.

          

                 

                 

                 

       

   

          

          

          

   

           

Prayer

Light of the World, enlighten our minds with wisdom and enkindle our hearts with compassion.  Let our moments of blindness be brief and instructive, so that we may never truly lose vision but, rather, gain insight as we seek to serve you in our brothers and sisters.  We ask this in your most holy name.  Amen (Larry Livingston from Unbound).

O glorious St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, you won the martyr’s crown without renouncing your love for Jesus, the delight of your soul.  We ask that you help us to be faithful in our love for Jesus so that, in the communion of the saints, we may praise him twice in our song of rejoicing for the blood that he shed which gave us the grace to accomplish his will on earth.  Amen.

Quote

Arise, soldiers of Christ!  Throw away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (St. Cecilia)

Links of interest…  St. Cecilia: life / miracles / Nov 22 / novena (more) / patron of music / prayers (more) / quotes / story…  Help my unbelief…  St. Cecilia Church: facebook / Mass times

WP posts…  Afternoon Mass…  Angels keeping watch…  Full circle…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Our Lady Star…  St. Benedict’s

Pilgrim’s journey

0SJC21018-66Not 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 appreciate most 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…  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

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).

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