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Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Be it done unto me according to They Word"

This last Sunday before Christmas may the simplicity of the Gospel message resonate in our life.

Lord, holy Jesus, help us to listen to You.
May your Word
penetrate our struggles, sorrows, our self.
Help us to hear You
amidst the doubts, fears, worries,
the noise of the enemy,
the noise of this world.
Holy angels of God,
lead us, protect us,
as we seek our Beloved.
Mary, Blessed Mother,
pray for us,
that we may say Yes!
to the Words of your Son.

The Angelus

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, etc.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done unto me according to your word.
Hail Mary, etc.

And the Word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of

Let us pray. Pour forth your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, November 06, 2009


The tragedy at Fort Hood with the massacre of troops by the U.S. Army Major and psychiatrist, Nidal Malik Hasan will take time to investigate to determine the motivations behind these murders. It is intensely tempting to jump to conclusions to blame or somehow justify these acts of violence.
The media has made much of the major's work with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) among returning soldiers. There is speculation that his pending deployment to the Mid-east triggerd some sort of psychotic break and resulted in the murderous rampage.
Reports are now surfacing of the major's apparent intense Moslem faith and that there may be a spiritual root to this sad event. This is quickly linked to emphasis by many that Islam is a peaceful faith and that the violence of some is an anomaly of sorts. Sadly this does not match the historic record or the reality that whole nations and regions of the world are under the spiritual sway of deeply ruthless adherrants to this religion.
Where does this lead us? Should we jump to blame the psychological reasoning? Should we either take the politcally correct approach and deny the violence of Islam? Or perhaps take a religious war approach embraced by some conservatives?
I believe it is a time to seek to "discern the spirits" as Scripture directs, to recognize the reality of spiritual warfare that impacts the political and physical. It is also time to look, not just to the acts or wrongs of a person or people but to their soul, created by one God. There is none of us exempt from sin, violence or fault. We are all called to be people forgiven by God, through our Savior, Christ Jesus. We are called to the peace of His Cross.
Centuries ago, again in a time of warfare a Christian broke ranks with the militant Crusaders and dared to approach the perceived enemy, not in a politcally correct aura of denial of evil or wrong, but in a outreach of the love of Christ.
St. Francis and his visit to the Sultan reminds of the urgent need for this living courage and faith as we pray:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summoned & Sent

The cyber-version of my homily for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time:

The pathways…the purposes of God are a message of simple clarity in our Bible readings this day. It is a message that we as a parish and community and world have perhaps been struggling with these past months as economic challenges and personal losses have been shared by so many. Yet, as always, when we allow God to speak to our hearts through Scripture, prayer, sacrament and life we can each know the reassurance and hope that we are summoned by God to be sent through life in the simplicity of His grace.

Summoned by God ~ The prophet Amos sets the stage for us today. In the land of Judah about 800 years before Christ a shepherd and keeper of Sycamore trees ( a type of fig, known as the Sycamore fig, food of the poorer people) was summoned by God to challenge and confront the materialism and injustice that had filled the hearts of the people. Poor, unlearned and of no significance in the society of his day Amos was called beyond self to proclaim the simplicity of repentance and grace in the eternal wealth of God’s Kingdom.
St. Paul would affirm the same timeless message as the Holy Spirit sought to bring the believers of that day and now to realize and see our eternal riches and destiny IN CHRIST JESUS.
Our Lord summoned the first Apostles as a leaders and example of individuals, called with the wealth and reality of there humanity to follow Christ in service together for His Kingdom.
All these example affirm that God destines us from our mother’s womb to His purposes. This life is not our own…but God’s. As we allow and rest in that truth we can experience the riches of God’s provisions in the circumstances, blessings and sorrows we face to be equipped for the path of His choosing. There is no lack of the summons of God for people to know,,,follow...serve the Kingdom of Christ. There is no shortage of these summons or vocations. The lack, the shortage is in our listening and responding that summons. Yet it is in yielding to our Lord’s summons we experience the fulfillment of our destiny as we permit our humble self to be sent by God.

Sent by God ~As we realize the summons of Christ we soon learn, with the prophets and apostles that we are sent. We also realize that our summons and our destiny will likely by far more simple and humble yet it is essential to remember to whom we are summoned and with whom we are sent. Amos the prophet, the apostles and each of us share in some small way the holy joy and privilege of proclaiming in deed and word the redemptive love, justice and mercy of God. We are sent to help each other learn that it is not in our accomplishment or possessions that we find our worth but it is in living in humble love that we proclaim the mercy and justice of which the Psalmist sings. As we share these pathways of life we are sent to help with each others burdens, to be a people of healing deeds and words of genuine hope and mercy in the power of Christ. We are summoned and sent to share the infinite riches of the simplicity of God’s grace.

Simplicity of Grace ~ The prophets, the apostles shared a common qualification. The were basically simple people of rather humble means who heard and responded to God. They gave there basic intelligence and faith and sought to be the most FAITH-FILLED followers as possible. Often they had no great wealth, stature or education except and willingness to learn and discover, top proclaim and share, in the simplicity of the daily grace God provided, the wealth of God’s eternal Kingdom and mercy. Christ in sending out the apostles sent them with barest of necessities and preparation. He sent them with the wealth of a need to trust the provisions and power of their Heavenly Father. And so sent them empowered and provided for to live the Kingdom.
Times have changed. Our world is so much more intensely materialistic and self-centered. Yet God’s eternal Kingdom truth and love have not changed. The God of Amos, Paul and the other Apostles who knew well their lives and world, who knows as well, our life, our world calls us each to follow and share His summons to be sent on the pathway of God’s choosing to proclaim His Kingdom in the rich simplicity of His grace.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Corpus Christi

Last night as I attended our Lord during my hour of Adoration I was thinking about the upcoming Feast of Corpus Christi. At my parish we will be celebrating First Communion as well. I prayed then, as I continue to do, that our children and all of us would allow the Real Presence of Christ to be revealed in our lives. May Christ Jesus, God with us, break through our world-dulled senses and awaken in each of us a living recognition of the Body & Blood of Christ. May our ears be opened to hear Jesus speaking, equally as present in God's Word.
I was reminded of dynamic faith of St. Francis of Assisi. He wrote:

"And let all of us firmly realize that no one can be saved except through the holy words and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ"
St. Francis, Letter to the Faithful

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Holy Trinity Sunday

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for Holy Trinity Sunday 2009:

Today the Holy Spirit, through the mercy and grace of Christ, has brought us together to pray, “Abba”, to our Heavenly Father. We gather to celebrate and wonder at the infinite mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, One God in Three Persons. Christians for generations, scholars and contemplatives, gifted and humble have all sought to understand and explain the unexplainable. Through the ages diverse teachings have argued and sought to take this real mystery of faith and congeal into a concept of understanding comfortable to the minds of a particular group.
Whether it be the early Gnostics, Arianists, latter day cults or even contemporary groups who would deny the concept of God the Father we see a recurring efforts to try to squeeze the infinite God into our very finite box of a limited human intellect. The effort to relate to this infinite, eternal mystery is noble and good. But we would do well to allow our understanding to develop, our knowledge to increase through the grace of God that would enlighten our minds as we seek God in faith and love.
The living Word of of the Holy Trinity, the Scriptures we shared this day, all share a common, simple, yet infinitely enlightening invitation. We are called to grow in an ongoing relationship with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through which our spirit, minds (souls) and bodies would grow in the eternal truth that is God. Yet even this invitation is a challenge to our limitations. But God’s mercy is so great that He gives us simple, albeit limited, illustrations to help us in our quest.

As Christians we are baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Sacramentally, and literally translated we are IMMERSED into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As a part of that holy act we, the baptize , are often given a given a candle from which the fire from the Paschal Candle is lit. This is said to symbolize our carrying forth the Light of God in our Hearts. So it does. Yet that simple lighted candle also symbolizes this Holy Trinity into which we are immersed.

God the Father ~ The Wax: The heart, the source of infinite mercy and love from which the wick draws His passion to be ignited through the power of the Holy Spirit. The wax, mysterious yet containing the very essence of life and creation. This congealed beauty of sunlight and flowers carried by winged servants the sweetness of honey and life in the hive.
Yet stung by the wounds of life, or blinded by artificial substitutes humanity often is blinded to the the very love of the Father, the Love that is God to which we are created to call, our Abba, our Father.

God the Son ~ The Wick: The beauty and warmth, the hidden grace of life can only be realized through the wick that carries that truth to our souls. Drawing from the infinite depths of mercy and hope the love of the Father was sent to burn eternally through His Son, Christ Jesus. Revealing the Father’s mercy in the darkness of the Cross Jesus has shown the Light of Life with the dawning of the Resurrection. The indescribable beauty of the holiness of Heaven is revealed through woven fibre wick of the life of Christ, God’s Son incarnate.

God the Holy Spirit ~ The Flame: But this beauty of holiness, infinite light of love would not be seen without the flame, the passion of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday at Pentecost we recalled how that initial immersion of the early believers was seen through flames descending upon the faithful. And through the ages this same light of the Father carried by the Son, lit in the fire of the Spirit would shine. God seeks to bring light to those in darkness, hope to those in despair healing warmth to those whose love has grown cold.

Today, this Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, may we allow our baptism to be bring alive the candle of God’s Presence anew in our body, mind and spirit. May the Flame of the Holy Spirit burn within each of us the Passion of Christ drawing upon the infinite holy Love of the Father. Accepting the peace of this mystery let us share this light in our relationships with God, and each other that, together, we may grow in the fullness of God.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

St. Paschal Baylon

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for this 6th Sunday of Easter, The Feast Day of St. Paschal Baylon:

The Redwoods of these north coast mountains of California have awed many for generations with their stature, beauty and strength. Yet if you have lived or walked amidst these fragrant giants you have hopefully realized that they are but the largest members of a much fuller community. One of the most beautiful members of this verdant environment is the Redwood Orchid. Small, often hidden by the larger, more well known companions, it can be found in hidden glades in the moist Spring time bringing a violet beauty under the emerald canopy overhead. The little Redwood Orchid is a humble yet excellent introduction to the lesson from the Scriptures in our Mass readings today. It is also an appropriate introduction to a hidden, simple saint who’s life was a profound lesson of the call of our Risen Lord.
May 17th is the Feast day of St. Paschal Baylon (1540-1592). This simple Franciscan lay brother never advanced further than being the porter at his Loreto monastery. Born to a poor Spanish family he was a shepherd without formal education. Yet he taught himself to read and write with the special purpose of being able to pray the Little Office of Our Lady. Paschal Baylon was appointed the Patron Saint of Eucharistic Congresses and Associations by Pope Leo XIII. If remembered, he is often thought of for his deep devotion and love for Christ expressed in the Blessed Sacrament. His deep longing and prayer for this communion with Christ was a part of his life even as a young shepherd. It grew to become a life of fervent prayer with our Eucharistic Lord. But St. Paschal’s life was far more than a life of prayer. He lived a life of faithful service, especially for the poor and needy. He, although uneducated by worldly standards, also came to be known for his courageous and boldly gentle defense of his faith in the face of real persecution. This balance of loving devotion and service, for the love of God, is the heart of the message we see in our readings.

Chosen to Love: “God is Love.” Our Epistle today shares these three most powerful Words of Scripture. Often quoted, less often lived, the depth of meaning starts to dawn as we accept the context…”and God sent His Son to pay for our sins”. Knowing our condition, yet seeing the worth of the soul God had created the Father calls us to His Son.
People, of all nations, as Peter affirmed in our first reading, are chosen, are called to Love, to God. It is into the infinite embrace of the Crucified Savior we start to grow in the freedom of being..chosen…the freedom of being chosen by and to… Love. Paschal Baylon realized he was called, that he was chosen, out of his sin and this the Loving Presence found in the Body and Blood of Christ. Paschal also realized this call was for all humanity and lead to his life living the Commandment.

Commanded to Love: Often when we think of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament we think of it as a distinct practice of piety. We may relegate it to a contemplative effort best suited to religious or those who…like to pray. Sometimes those who practice Eucharistic devotion may be tempted to see this as a hallmark of their love for God. Sadly, it may lead to a condition of being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. St. Paschal, who spent hours in rapt prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, would fervently disagree. It was but the furnace from which he carried forth the fire of God’s love for the poor, his brothers or even those who opposed his faith. This love for God of which Christ commands us this day, and always, is but a summation and source of the love we are to abide in and share with each other. The command of God’s holy, fearless love fulfills all the lesser commandments or issues with which we may become distracted. St. Paschal lived out his love for the Eucharist Christ in his service and love of others. This included his fellow Franciscans, the poor and needy as well as those perhaps his enemies. Once, in holy obedience, he ventured on a trip into a part of France that was, at the time under strong anti-Catholic control. Hugeonots, opposed to the Church more than once confronted Paschal on his journey with assaults and threats. Confronted by a learned Protestant scholar he was challenged about belief in the Blessed Sacrament. The learned scholar was confounded and silenced when this simple monk defended and explained this Biblical truth with a bold yet gentle courage. Paschal did not compromise his convictions or his love for those who did not agree with him. He simply sought to live as His Risen Lord had called him to do.

Abiding in Love: With St. Paschal, our Blessed Mother, St. Peter and all the saints we are chosen to LIVE in this love that is….Christ. As we live, listening to the voice of Christ in the Scriptures we hear His mercy, guidance, correction and peace. As we learn to hear God’s voice in each other, our family and the poor or wounded we hear His call to.. love. As we receive His Sacred Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist we are fed.. with Christ.. with Love. As we come to pray before His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament we discover, with St, Paschal the quiet peace, joy and strength abiding in His Presence. (We are chosen to be filled with His joy and the joy of the Lord is our strength).

St. Pascal Baylon died at the age of 52. Numerous accounts describe the moment of his death as the bells were being rung for the Consecration during the High Mass in his monastery. This little orchid of the saints calls to us today to abide and live in the Love that is Christ.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Risen Christ ~ Divine Mercy

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for this Second Sunday of Easter ~ Divine Mercy Sunday:
Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, also recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday {St. Faustina}. Our Bible readings share the rich and clear message of that holy mercy of God needed, found and lived in the hearts and lives of the early believers in the Risen Christ.
Most Christians at some point in their life have wondered and desired to have been able to be there, to see, hear and touch Jesus. It is in knowing that longing our Lord shared in John’s Gospel account a profound promise and blessing that even the very Apostles could not receive.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
This singular promise, this blessing, although given over 2000 years ago, is found and experienced in the same simple journey as those believers in Jerusalem those days following our Lord’s resurrection.

Risen Christ, His Mercy is Needed: The post-crucifixion disciples, fear-bound in doubt-locked rooms remained so until the Risen Christ brought His mercy to them.
Thomas the Apostle, known for his honesty caution and doubts needed the merciful encounter with his Risen Lord to be freed to become the Apostle of the East.
Sister Faustina, by the world’s standards trapped by a life of poverty and very limited education was to become the Saint of the Divine Mercy by her simple yieldedness to her Risen Lord.
And we today, bound by sin, by fears, pride, and doubts need Christ’s mercies that are as new this day as they were that first Easter over two thousand years ago.

Jesus Risen from the Dead is our Mercy Found: The faith of the early Church was loosed as they received Christ:
In His Word as they heard and received His Word of peace and purpose,
In the power of God’s Spirit & Peace, receiving living the life of forgiveness and sharing that same forgiveness in word and deed,
In His Wounds as Thomas presented the pattern and proof for all that as we enter the wounds of Christ His holiness, wholeness and love bring the mercy of the Father.

Jesus, Mercy, Lived: The early Church that we read of in our first reading from the Book of Acts is beautiful in the simple power of selfless love and faith. Dismissed by many as a fluke and experiment that failed it is in reality the pattern that is meant to be applied and lived by all true believers. While most will not live in a structured community of faith this pattern, when lived in homes, parishes, hearts and lives will allow the very real Presence and Blessing of the Risen Jesus, His Love and mercy, His power and peace to be lived, known and shared.

Whether we look to the example of the Apostle Thomas, from doubter and skeptic to the Apostle & martyr to the East; the early Church living in simple selfless trust and love; the 20th century example of St. Faustina; we hear and see the promise and call of our Lord to receive the blessing of His divine mercy and to then live that mercy in our deeds and words.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ruin or Resurrection?

Easter Sunday 2009
This Easter the message of the ruin of the Kingdom of Christ seems to be the theme of choice in so much of the media.
The tragic murder of a little Sandra Cantu in Tracy California has been pinned on a neighbor woman. While the motive remains a mystery the media seems intent on publicizing at every opportunity the fact that the accused was a Sunday School teacher in a neighboring Baptist Church. The chorus of anti-religion seen in the comments online of various media is virulent in the hate and disdain of things of God.
President Obama has appointed Harry Knox to the Faith-Based Partnership Council. Interestingly Harry Knox seems to thrive on criticizing Roman Catholics and other traditional Christians. It is applauded by those who seem to want to affirm the President's comments on his European trip that the United States was not a Christian country.
Even in the natural world the earthquake in Italy has wrought heartbreaking sorrows on that country. The images of beautiful old churches in broken ruin, of masses of caskets, some of little children, to some, would speak of absence or perhaps the judgment of God.
Yes. There is real sorrow and shocking violence abundant in life. The focus of those who would look for and find every fault and crack in the church as a sign of ruin is very prevalent.
But none of this is new. Evil, sorrow, bigotry and hate have been a part of life on earth for a long time. The Church, the Body of Christ has been assaulted in many ways, times and places.
Many years ago a young Catholic man, after experiencing the empty violence and greed of the world found himself in a ruined little church. It was there Christ spoke to Francis of Assisi to rebuild His Church.
Even centuries earlier at a tear and fear drenched tomb some women came to tend their very real grief and sorrows. Another earthquake shattered their world. The angels appeared and proclaimed: "He is Risen. Go and tell the others".
Easter ~ 2009 amidst the sorrows and doubts of this world our Risen Lord, His holy love will still triumph.
Peace and all good in the Peace of the Risen Christ.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hands of Hope & Healing

{Artwork: "The Leper" by Ron DiCianni}

Our reading from the book of Leviticus today gives us a powerful view of the lonely and hopeless existence of the lepers of old. Outcasts, untouchables they were condemned, without hope. Through the ages they have come to symbolize the most hopeless of the hopeless.
Then in the Psalm we can hear and sense the Spirit of God leading us on, calling us to prayer, to the Presence of Christ.
And in our reading from Mark’s Gospel we are brought to another scene. A leper, unclean, outcast, without hope dares the unthinkable. This man symbolizing and living the despair of infectious hopelessness calls out to Jesus, son of Mary, Son of God. Condemned in his defilement he calls out to He who was undefiled, holy, pure. It is in that pristine love that our Lord does the unthinkable. Christ, son of God reaches out as the Son of Man and touches him who was never to be touched, and utters those words of hope, of life…”I do will it, be made clean”.
Today the Holy Spirit still empowers the hands of God to reach out to those others will not touch. The Words of Christ still speak hope and healing to those in despair. That work is the work of Christ’s Body. It is the mission of each man and woman, girl or boy who has been baptized into the Family of God. It is the voice of God’s Spirit that calls us to be one family in mission… the mission of the Kingdom of Christ.
In sharing the mission of Christ we may be tempted to look only at our abilities, our resources at hand, or even perhaps our wealth. All those aspects are important, even vital in the doing the work of Christ. Yet IF we only respond on the basis of our strength or our resources we miss an important reality of God’s love. The great works of God are not built from our prosperity..but from our need and God’s grace.
The leper in the Gospel did not consider that his desperate need would draw Him to the riches of God. Little did he expect that in his seeking the unthinkable the hope and healing work of God would grow on to inspire and touch hearts for ages to come.
We can look to the faithful in our own diocese. On a wind swept bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean there stand a church. Built from the faith, hard work and sacrifice of the early lumberjacks and farmers of the rugged north coast the beautiful little church of the Blessed Sacrament in Elk stands and serves to this day. Built not from the wealth and abundance of an affluent people it was built from the need and sacrifice of a peop0le of faith and vision. It was built with the hands and hearts of God’s family united in mission for the work of Christ.
We can look to the clergy and religious who have faithfully served through the years in parishes, and in ministries such as restorative justice. It is usually without realizing or feeling the truth that they are still being the hands of Christ, touching those others will not touch or speaking words of mercy and hope for those in need of mercy, in need of hope.
As member of God’s family. sharers in Hs mission we are called to respond. This call brings us to decisions.
Will we look only to our needs? Our problems, inabilities or wounds? The leper in the Gospel, while recognizing his needs chose to look beyond his hopelessness. In so doing he was able to look to and know the touch and voice of God that would bring his healing. Little did he realize that his need would bring hope to countless souls for millennia to come.
As we remember we are part of God’s family we may be tempted to look only to the failings of a few. We may allow anger or bitterness to cloud our vision and cripple the working of God in out hearts. We would do well to remember that all families have failings. And, that it is God’s family, with all our shortcomings, that we are a people being redeemed. If we are tempted to just focus on past failures, however tragic, it is time to allow the voice of the Savior to lead us to forgive…to build a bridge and get over it! Build a Bridge and Get over It!

Today many are struggling, in despair. Their hopes for success…security…are crushed. And even today there are still those who many would look upon as lepers. May we, as part of His family, His Body do our part to make sure His hands, His voice can reach all who need to know His hope and healing.
If you heart or home is struggling..please call out to Him..let His hands touch the needs and speak His hope, His peace, His Love. In doing so may we then allow His same hope and healing to reach others through our lives.