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Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Man Who Followed Christ ~ Fr. Junipero Serra

The readings from the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time speak of the call to follow God's call in our life. The Scriptures have many examples of men and women who did, and did not, follow God in the journey of their life.
This weekend we also have a Saint who gives a faithful and powerful example of what it means to follow Christ. Bl. Junipero Serra (1713-1784) was a Franciscan missionary priest to California. He is credited for founding the California Missions, some of which are still active Parishes to this day. Contemporary secular bias often seeks to blame Fr. Serra and the Church for the oppression and loss of culture and life among the native American Californian tribes. More accurate history would indicate that while seeking to share the Gospel of Christ with the native Californians the Church was often the strongest defender of these people from the military, greed, and corruption of the secular colonial forces.
This also helps us to understand Fr. Serra as a dynamic example of a man sharing, living and defending the Kingdom of Christ in a world that was often hostile to the truth of God's love. As he simply sought to follow Christ in faithful obediience Fr. Serra was lead to new frontiers of mercy and grace for the Kingdom of God.
Bl. Serra pray for us! Pray for the Church here in California.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In Memory of the Nine Charleston Firefighters

On Monday, June 18, 2007 the Charleston S.C. Fire Department responded to a structure fire in a furniture store. In the line of duty nine firefighters died fighting this fire.

Final Call

Dedicated to the Charleston Nine and all the other Firefighters who died in the line of duty.

The tones have sounded.
A fire calls.
Riding their rig,
To the smokey pall.

Sirens scream.
Red lights flash
On to the fire
Flames warnings cast.

Arriving on scene,
To their task each one goes.
One to the pump,
Others to hose.

The officer assesses.
Another alarm is raised.
Heavy smoke showing.
Rescues to be made.

Inside for the rescue,
Interior attack.
Inside for the crew.
They will not hold back.

Inside the building,
On hands and knees,
Heat, smoke and noise,
No one can see.

Adrenalin pumping,
Their hearts flowing strong.
Fears are controlled.
They’re pressing along.

Knocking down flame,
Searching each room,
They seek anyone trapped,
In the fiery gloom.

Then in the battle.
Their comes a brief moment.
Followed in instant
The fire has vented.

Air rushes in,
Flames explode.
With deafening roar
The crew is no more.

The tones have beckoned.
Angels appear.
Escorting the fallen,
Beyond all tears.

May the souls of the faithful in duty rest in peace.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

Here is the cyber version of my homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi:

Corpus Christi – The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ celebrates and teaches the awesome gift that is Christ, God with us. It shares and proclaims the mysterious and dynamic union of Heaven and earth, Spirit and flesh. It asserts the essential oneness of true holiness and true love, in, through, and with Jesus Christ.
But we find it so hard to understand. With the frustrating limits of our human understanding we try to fit the infinite mystery and gift that is God, come in the flesh, into the precise, tight, controlling, and little, boxes of our minds and hearts. Yet, once again, Christ in His great mercy and patience, His Love, shares His Word that can lead us out of those little boxes into His arms. His truth, His love.
We recognize the struggle with mystery in the Old Testament reading and Psalm that speak of the great High (and mysterious) Priest, Melchizedek. Long have minds and hearts tried to understand who this is. In the epistle we hear the familiar and comfortable words of Christ giving us His Body, His Blood. In our familiarity we lose sight of the fact that this was a shocking and scandalous concept for the minds and hearts of the early people of God. This leads to the Gospel. It is in the account of the feeding of the multitudes that Christ challenges and calls His followers, then and now, to look, trust, give, and receive beyond what they may understand…. to trust Him, receive and share Him, in faithful love.
The Sacred Body and Blood of Christ can bring us beyond ourselves, our limitations. It is with Christ literally feeding us and dwelling within us we can grow into the fullness of life He has designed.
It is especially in our relationships that this freedom is to be lived. The Body and Blood of Christ, conquering sin and death enables us to have those relationships of faith with the saints, with our loved ones gone home to Christ...that brings alive our own Heavenly hope. Yet His Presence brings us more than just the hope of the Heaven, of the holy. It is the living gift and call to unite and share Heaven and earth, spirit and flesh.
This is where we often start to struggle.
There are those who would want to confine the HOLY body and Blood of Christ to the HOLY. The rich and appropriate reverence and awe that can be found in His Eucharistic Presence is focused upon as the right..holy..way it is to be. Yet Christ longs to be so much more than that alone.
Then there are those who would confine their understanding and faith to a concept of His Body and Blood to the people of God…in each other. our words. our actions. It is often focused upon as sharing the LOVE that is understood to be God. Yet, again Jesus longs to be so much more.
God never intended to be divided, especially in His Body, His Blood.
This weekend, after the 10:30 Sunday Mass you will be invited to share in a Eucharistic Procession in honor of Christ Jesus. We will take the Blessed Sacrament, carried in a beautiful Monstrance down the middle aisle and out the front doors of the Church. With Christ we will walk out the middle gate, down the sidewalk and back into the Church grounds to the statue of Mary where we will share a song of thanksgiving to Our Blessed Mother for the faith and courage to be the first and truest of living monstrances. This procession, this unique carrying of the Presence of His Body and Blood further illustrates the promise and reality of Corpus Christi, the Great High Priest and Servant of redeeming Love.
In His Body and Blood true holiness, true love are united and carried forth. Jesus, God with us, The Great High Priest, The Servant of God must not be confined to our limited concepts of holiness OR of love. He is and must be…both.
As we each receive Christ’s Body, as we together share the cup of His Blood we are filled and brought into a union of spirit and flesh, the Holy, and Love. So it is that as we, His living and beautiful Monstrances are to go forth. We are to share the beauty of HIS holiness. It is as we speak, as we act we are to proclaim HIS love that would vanquish our fears, heal our lives and quench the ache of the lonely. In living the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ in our lives we will follow Him to new realms of holiness. We will also be called to relationships that may well challenge our understanding of love that will call us to the fullness of Holy Love in His Body and Blood given for us.