Showing posts with label baptism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baptism. Show all posts

8 Jan 2018

Baptism of the Lord Marks Endings, Beginnings


Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, with the Gospel reading from Mark 1:7-11. This occasion introduces Jesus to the world as the Son of God – pretty dramatic entrance to the world stage, wouldn’t you say? This passage catches your attention. The Baptism of the Lord is a really big day for three reasons. It marks the end of:

  1. The Christmas season, and the beginning of Ordinary Time.
  2. Jesus’ private life and the beginning of His ministry.
  3. Our separation from God and the beginning of an open line of communication between heaven and earth. 1 We see the physical manifestation of that claim with multiple people hearing the voice of God the Father, when He states, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).

Baptism Marks an Ending and a Beginning


Endings and beginnings remind us of our own baptisms where we died with Christ and became adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Our baptisms... Read more...

5 Jan 2018

'The seed of eternal life.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B


Baptistry, St Mark's, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 1:7-11 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

John the Baptist proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

In countries where the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated this year on Monday 8 January, eg the Philippines and the USA, there is only one reading before the Gospel and the Creed is omitted.
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 2013
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
MASS AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Sistine Chapel, Sunday, 8 January 2012
[I have highlighted parts of the Pope's homily]
Continue here.

19 Aug 2016

'Then people will come from east and west . . .' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Crowning during a Syro-Malabar Catholic wedding

Gospel Luke 13:22-30 NRSV, Catholic Ed.

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Three years ago when I was at home in Dublin a friend of mine from the Philippines, Marifel, who was a parishioner of mine in Tangub City, Mindanao, when she was a child and now works as a receptionist for a community of Dominican Sisters near Dublin, invited me for a meal in a hotel. When the waitress came along I asked her if she was from Poland or Lithuania or 'one of those countries. 'One of those countries', she replied with a smile, 'Latvia.' She took our orders but the food was brought by an Indian waiter. Later on an Irish waiter looked after us.



Full post here.

9 Jan 2015

'Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year B

The Baptism of Christ (detail), Tintoretto, 1579-81
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
http://www.universalis.com/20150111/mass.htm
John the Baptist proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;with you I am well pleased.”

The Census at BethlehemPieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels [Web Gallery of Art]






Two weeks ago, on the Feast of the Holy Family, I celebrated Mass in Holy Family Home for Girls here in Bacolod City. At the beginning of my homily I asked a number of the girls to look at a copy of the painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder above and to point out the Holy Family in it. None of them could find Mary and Joseph, just as none of the figures in the painting notices the young woman on the donkey and the man leading it. Full post here.

9 Dec 2014

Parents, the First Evangelists

Pope Francis has an evangelization prayer close to his heart this month: he is praying for parents. As the Pope puts it, "Pray that parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith."

Mary and Joseph were the first evangelizers of Jesus. If evangelizing means to bring the good news of salvation to the world, then Mary was a literalist: she physically brought Jesus, the saving Word of God, to the world. Joseph and Mary cared for the Word, loved the Word, and shared the Word with others in their daily lives.

It almost seems unfair, in a way, doesn't it? SAY WHAT?! Read on at Praying with Grace.

22 Aug 2014

'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Saint Peter, El Greco,1610-13
Monasterio de San Lorenzo, El Escorial, Spain [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 
Gospel Matthew 16:13-20 (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” continue gospel reading>

Pope Francis in Korea, 13-18 August 2014 [Wikipedia]


In his homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June 2013, Pope Francis said: I would like to offer three thoughts on the Petrine ministry, guided by the word 'confirm'.  What has the Bishop of Rome been called to confirm? By 'Petrine ministry' the pope was speaking of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, of the Pope, the successor of St Peter.
     Full post here.

29 Jun 2014

'Just Routine, Nothing Special' — Thank You, Father Statz

Quite a lot has happened, since Father James Statz came to the Our Lady of the Angels parish here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Most of it's routine, like the annual cycle of the liturgical year, some hasn't.

Today is the last time Father Statz celebrates Mass as our parish priest. I'm sorry to see him go, but very glad that he has been here.

Remembering, Mostly 2003


Some of it hasn't been routine, like when the Christmas tree — over a dozen feet tall — fell over behind him. That was in 2003.

I took that photo before the excitement. The choir director had told us that the last song would be "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" when the Christmas tree fell over.

Over a dozen children on the near side of the altar, and probably a few other folks, said "eee!" The tree fell neatly on the altar's far side.

Then we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Nobody was hurt, much, although Father Statz got clipped as the tree went past him, and the deacon was hit by the star.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

8 Jun 2014

God's Field Kits: Pentecost Plus Two Millennia and Counting

Partly because of the visual drama, this is one of my favorite scenes from the Bible:
"1 When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.

"And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, 2 and it filled the entire house in which they were.

"Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, 3 which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

"And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, 4 as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."
(Acts 2:1-4)
It's also part of what we read during Mass this morning: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America

18 Apr 2014

Life in the Universe: Focusing the Search

Scientists have found at least a dozen planets where life might exist. They're learning more about biosignatures: signs of life.
  1. Understanding Life's Limits
  2. A Growing Catalog of Known Worlds
  3. Earth-Sized Planets: Billions of Them
  4. Searching the Sky: Frustration and Vindication

Life on Other Worlds: Imagined


(From "Quatermass and the Pit," via Tales of Future Past, used w/o permission)
('That's odd: he doesn't look German.')

Some science fiction movies strayed from the man-in-a-rubber-suit style of space alien. But most extraterrestrials in the movies look at least vaguely human.

I don't mind, since "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Last Starfighter," and "Spaced Invaders" are entertainment: not documentaries....

...Angels are persons, too: beings of pure spirit, with no bodies. They "are personal and immortal creatures," with "intelligence and will." But angels are not human. Not even close.

Would I Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

I'm not authorized to perform baptisms, so: no, I would not. I wouldn't baptize anyone, since I'm not a deacon, priest, or bishop.

Bear in mind that I speak with the full authority of some guy with a blog....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Feb 2014

Lousy Godparents


You’ve been poorly catechized and didn’t really understand the role of a Godparent for your newborn baby and so you gave this honor to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. It made sense at the time and you both giggled and loved the whole idea of it. Now, years later, you no longer speak to your best-friend-since-3rd-grade. You’ve come to regret this poor choice—in a very big way—and don’t know what to do about the lousy Godparent you chose.
You have been blessed by faith-filled parents and have been living your faith in a constant manner for as long as you can remember. Bestowing the honor of Godparent upon your cousin was a good choice. After all, she’s family and your lives have the blood connection that will stand the test of time. A few years later you see that she didn’t really get how important this honor was and has really failed. She apparently didn’t read up on the “job” description and now your daughter is burdened with a lousy Godparent. And your daughter sees this at every family Christmas where other Godparents give their Godchildren gifts and hugs and special attention and your daughter gets nothing. Nada. What do you do?
The fact is, most of us are somewhere in the middle when it comes to selecting Godparents for our children. We get that it is an honor and we know it is somewhat important. (And the people we ask probably get it to a degree, too.) Since we can’t predict the future, we do our best and ask the person we feel would be best suited for the role—and he or she accepts—all without anyone necessarily understanding the entirety of the Godparent moniker. I inquired of a friend, a faith-filled practicing Catholic and the mother of a rather large brood, if she was “happy” with her choices of Godparents. Without skipping a beat she replied, “Nope.”

Cheryl Dickow       www.BezalelBooks.com continue>
The illustration used is from the children's book "Where Do Deacons Come From?" written by Elizabeth Ficocelli and illustrated by Shannon Wirrenga

10 Jan 2014

'This is my beloved Son . . .' Sunday Reflections, The Baptism of the Lord, Year A


The Baptism of Christ, El Greco, painted 1608-28 [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 3:13-17 (New RevisedStandard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”


Today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings the liturgical season of Christmas to an end. My edition of The Divine Office suggests the hymn above, Of the Father's Love Begotten (Divinum Mysterium),  as one that may be sung today.

'I baptise you in the name of the Father . . .' 28 December 2011

A Columban confrere, Fr Peter Steen, who died in Ireland in May 2009 at the age of 84 just a couple of weeks after leaving the Philippines, spoke to me a number of times, as I recall, about paintings of the baptism of Jesus. Many of them show only Jesus and his cousin, St John the Baptist. He thought that these were very inaccurate. Jesus lined up with others. St Luke's account specifically says When all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying (3:21).

Full post here.

13 Sep 2013

New Resource for Catholic Moms-to-be

Sometimes pregnancy makes us glowingly happy and sometimes it makes us miserable. But no matter how it makes us feel, it will change us and the world around us irrevocably. If you want to know more about the physical and spiritual changes that pregnancy can bring, if you're looking for deeper meaning in the little aches and pains, read Sarah Reinhard's book A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Sarah's book offers pregnant moms a week-by-week journey in prayer with Our Lady through pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond.

Each chapter of the opening section on pregnancy details the amazing physical developments the baby is undergoing. The chapters also lead us into meditation on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, helping us to imagine how Mary coped with the dizzying changes from the moment her motherhood was announced until the day she lost Jesus in the Temple and heard his radical declaration of departure from childhood: Did you not know I must be about my Father's business? Mary had no sin, but she had emotions, the book reminds us, and so we can turn to Mary for comfort, knowing that she must have felt at least some of what we feel.

22 Aug 2013

'Men will come from east and west . . .' Sunday Reflections, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C


Open Air Rock Cross also called Nasrani Sthambams in front of the 2nd Century built Marth Mariam Catholic Church at Kuravilangadu, Kerala, India. This church belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, in full communion with Rome.

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Luke 13:22-30 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

Jesus went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."


(Our Lady of Naval de Manila)

Earlier this month a friend of mine from the Philippines, Marifel, who was a parishioner of mine in Tangub City, Mindanao, when she was a child and now works as a receptionist for a community of Dominican Sisters near Dublin, invited me for a meal in a hotel. When the waitress came along I asked her if she was from Poland or Lithuania or 'one of those countries. 'One of those countries', she replied with a smile, 'Latvia.' She took our orders but the food was brought by an Indian waiter. Later on an Irish waiter looked after us.


A week later I found myself in St Andrew's Church, Westland Row (above), beside one of Dublin's main railway stations. While I was praying there a grandfather and his grandson aged about three came in. The grandfather was wearing bright summer clothes - unlike grandparents when I was young who seemed to be always dressed in dark clothes - and genuflected before kneeling in the pew. After a while the little boy asked him some questions. His grandfather pointed at the altar and also at some of the Stations of the Cross as he explained things to the youngster. They then left.

On one Sunday a month in St Brigid's Church, Blanchardstown, in the Archdiocese of Dublin and the parish I come home to when I visit Ireland, has Mass for the Syro-Malabar Catholic community in Dublin. Many of these are nurses from Kerala, India, working in Irish hospitals. St Brigid's Parish also has a Filipino choir that sings at one of the Masses on the last Sunday of the month, except during the summer.

And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us in the Gospel this Sunday. Thirty years ago churches in Ireland were still full at Sunday Masses, with young and old, and almost everyone Irish. Today there are fewer priests,  fewer Sunday Masses and fewer people attending them, most of them old. A large proportion of Sunday congregations are from places such as India, Nigeria, Poland, the Philippines. Mass servers - and there aren't too many of these anymore - are likely to be either immigrants or the Irish-born children of immigrants.

The above are snapshots of contemporary Ireland, as different from the Ireland of my childhood as are the mobile phones that everyone has from the box cameras that a few had and the telephones  that even fewer had in my time. 

But we had something precious that has been largely lost - our Catholic faith. There are various reasons for the rejection of the Church by many and the outright rejection of the Christian faith by some. But this can remind us that our faith is pure gift from God, a gift that can be shared and that was generously shared, even to the point of giving up life itself, by the countless missionaries who went overseas, or it can be lost, not only by individuals bu by whole communities.

The gift of faith can be lost by taking it for granted, by apathy, by not taking it seriously, by not passing it on. Jesus in the Gospel is telling his fellow Jews - and we must never forget that he is and will be for all eternity a Jew, just like Mary - that many of them are in danger of losing the precious gift of the faith, the faith they inherited from Abraham, our father in faith (Eucharistic Prayer I - Roman Canon) Isaac and Jacob, and that others will accept that same gift with gratitude.

A young Father Tagle being introduced to Blessed John Paul II by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI

In 2003, at a gathering of priests in Antipolo City, near Manila, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the Bishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle, now Cardinal-Archbishop of Manila, spoke about a then recent survey on the values of young Filipinos. What he projected could happen within twenty years in terms of the loss of the Catholic faith in the Philippines was what had been happening in Ireland over the previous twenty years.

I was heartened by the sight of the grandfather passing on our Catholic Christian faith to his young grandson by his example and his readiness to answer the boy's questions. I am heartened by the living faith of so many immigrants to Ireland.

My hope is that the Catholic faith will continues to be passed on in Ireland and elsewhere by grandfathers - and grandmothers and parents - like the one I saw in St Andrew's Church. My hope is that the Catholic faith will be renewed in Ireland and elsewhere by the example and fervour of immigrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, by men from east and west, and from north and south and that together we will all sit at table in the kingdom of God, not only in heaven but here and now as brothers and sisters working together to build a world where the values  of the Gospel prevail, a world where everyone will have heard the Gospel of Jesus proclaimed to them, especially by the lives we lead. 

My hope is that the nurses from Kerala, who trace their Catholic faith back to St Thomas the Apostle, the waiters, caregivers and nurses from the Philippines, whose faith embodies a tender love of Mary the Mother of God as our Mother, will help the Irish to re-discover the greatness of the gift that their ancestors received more than 1,500 years ago from a great missionary who first arrived in Ireland at the age of 16 as a kidnapped slave, St Patrick.

My fear is that there will not be enough grandfathers - and grandmothers and parents - who will know and value the gift of faith enough to pass it on and that the youngsters, children of immigrants to Ireland and elsewhere in the Western world, will succumb to the values of their contemporaries and reject the most precious gift that God has given us - our Catholic Christian faith, an invitation to share in the love of God for all eternity.


Though the video was made for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord it invites us to reflect on our faith, received through baptism, as pure gift from God, something we should do constantly.

Collect

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful 
to unite in a single purpose, 
grant your people to love what you command 
and to desire what you promise, 
that, amid the uncertainties of this world, 
our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

Photos from Wikipedia.

21 Jun 2013

'But who do you say that I am?' Sunday Reflections, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C


St Peter Preaching, Masolino da Panicale, 1426-27 [Web Gallery of Art]

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
     
Gospel Luke 9:18-24 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)

Now it happened that as Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, "Who do the people say that I am?" And they answered, "John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen." And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
                                        
But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. 

St Thomas More, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1527 [Web Gallery of Art]

On 12 June Taoiseach (Prime Minister ) of the Republic of Ireland stated in the Dáil(parliament) in the context of legislation that the government is trying to push through that would allow abortion in certain situations, I am proud to stand here as a public representative, as a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic but not a Catholic Taoiseach. A Taoiseach for all of the people – that's my job.

A number of columnists and writers of letters to the editor in Ireland have been praising Mr Kenny for this and contrasting it with words spoken by Labour TD (Member of Parliament) Brendan Corish  in the Dáil in 1953, I am an Irishman second, I am a Catholic first, and I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the hierarchy and the church to which I belong. This statement has been frequently, incorrectly attributed to a previous Taoiseach of the same Fine Gael party as Mr Kenny, John A. Costello. However, Mr Costello, as Taoiseach, said in 1951I, as a Catholic,obey my Church authorities and will continue to do so, in spite of The Irish Times or anything else . . . 

Today's second reading, Galatians 3:26-29) is very relevant to all of this, and not only in Ireland. St Paul says to us: In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christs, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise (RSV-CE).

Though the Second Reading on Sundays in Ordinary Time isn't linked thematically with the Gospel, as the First Reading is, St Paul's words tie in with the question Jesus put to the Apostles and puts to us now: But who do you say that I am?

Who is at the centre of my life? Pope Benedict frequently reminded us that our faith is above all in a Person, Jesus Christ, God who became Man. And Pope Francis, in his homily on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christ) said, So let us ask ourselves this evening, in adoring Christ who is really present in the Eucharist: do I let myself be transformed by him? Do I let the Lord who gives himself to me, guide me to going out ever more from my little enclosure, in order to give, to share, to love him and others?

St Paul's words challenge us to ask ourselves, 'What is my deepest identity?' We have many levels of identity, each of which has its own importance. I remember my first All-Ireland Football Final in Croke Park, Dublin, in September 1953. Dublin were playing against Kerry. I was there, aged 12 and standing on an orange-box, with my father, John, like myself a true 'Dub', and a neighbour and friend just a few doors up the street, Denis Stritch, who died only a few months ago, God rest his soul. Denis was from Kerry. During the game, the result of which was disappointing for me and my Dad, we identified with Dublin and Kerry, rivals but not enemies.

But if Denis and my Dad had ever visited me in the Philippines they would have identified themselves as Irish. However, if they had attended Mass in Bacolod City they would have identified themselves as Catholic Christians, as would everyone else present. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek . . .

This is our most basic identity.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, St Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5. When Jesus puts his question to the Apostles, But who do you say that I am? Peter answers clearly. The Christ of God.

Whether I am a janitor or a journalist, a priest or a politician, I am called by my baptism to live out of my identity as a son or daughter of the Father, a brother or sister of Jesus, in the service of all my brothers and sister. Pope Francis concluded his Corpus Christi homily with these words, Brothers and sisters, following, communion, sharing. Let us pray that participation in the Eucharist may always be an incentive: to follow the Lord every day, to be instruments of communion and to share what we are with him and with our neighbour. Our life will then be truly fruitful. Amen.

In most situations there is no conflict whatever between my various levels of identity. My being a Catholic Christian is not in conflict with my being an Irishman. But if I take my baptism seriously I can never leave 'the mind of Christ' at home or outside. In most areas of life Christians may legitimately disagree on issues while living their baptismal faith with all their hearts. Sometimes I have to yield on matters that I may not be happy with but that aren't fundamental. Politicians, for example have to do this all the time, as do the rest of us on many occasions. But when it comes to matters of life and death I cannot, as a Christian, put the Gospel aside, as if 'the mind of Christ' was a T-shirt I wore now and again.  


St Thomas More (1478 - 1535), patron saint of statesmen, politicians and lawyers, whose feast day is this weekend, 22 June, gave his life because he put his identity as a Catholic Christian before anything else. Just before his execution he said, I die his Majesty's good servant, but God's first. He recognised his erstwhile friend King Henry VIII as King of England but not as head of the Church.

That was Sir Thomas's response to St Paul's words this Sunday, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, to the question of Jesus, But who do YOU say that I am?

How do I answer that question?

13 Jun 2013

Whisper His Name



Father was a no show at the 8 a.m. Holy Mass today.  The old man stood at the back door waiting for him, he said he had talked to Father and that he had said he would be there.  At 8:02, we decided to have a communion service.  Jim, wonderful servant of God, did the service for us.  One of the men came up to me and a woman that I was speaking to after the service.  You never saw this man without his rosary in his hand.  It gave me such hope to see one so faithful every day to the Rosary of our Blessed Mother.  He came over and speaking to the woman spewed a derogatory comment about Father.  My heart dropped.  The woman agreed and joined in the bashing.  This isn't the first I had heard of this, and every time I hear it, it broke my heart.  

They invited me to McDonald's for breakfast, I declined and said I would stay and pray.  The woman said to me, "Well he needs it!" (Meaning Father.)  What she didn't know was that most of my prayers would be in supplication for THEM, and not Father.  




Do you know what a Priest is? What he does?  Yes he is still a human being, but one set apart by God.  By his obedience and anointed hands he has agreed to give his whole life to bring us heaven upon the earth.   Think about that, a man gives his whole life so that you can have something that you could not have without him.  If you truly understood this, you would seek to serve your priest instead of him serving you.  

Without a Catholic Priest there is no baptism, and our children and family remain in their sin. 




Without a Catholic Priest there is no absolution of our sins.  
Do you know how powerful the Confessional is or how it saves you from hell?  Do you know from the hands of a Priest in giving one absolution is more powerful than 500 years of sacrifices on the altars of the Jewish people?
  
Without a Catholic Priest there is no Confirmation, no gifts of the Holy Spirit. 
No wisdom, piety, fortitude, knowledge, prudence, understanding and no fear of the Lord.  Think about that, no fear of the Lord.  Those who don't fear the Lord take a fast track to the devil, and if fear of God was lost upon the earth, what a horrible evil place this world would be.  

Without a Catholic Priest there is no special union in Marriage in the Catholic faith, the marital union with the Holy Eucharist which brings not just two souls together, but two souls as one united to God.  For when a couple marry in the Catholic Church with the Holy Mass and take the most Blessed Sacrament, they are not only marrying each other, but their union unites them with God in the holy Eucharist.  




Without a Catholic Priest there is no Anointing of the Sick, which also cleanses sins.  How many souls have made it to purgatory only by the grace of having received this sacrament before death!  And how many fell into hell for the lack of it and dying in their sins. 

Without a Catholic Priest there is no Priesthood, for only a Bishop (who was first a Priest) can give us Priests and Deacons through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.



Without a Catholic Priest....and I shudder to think of it... there is no Holy Mass.  The Holy Mass is the marriage of Heaven and Earth.  In our earthly flesh we cannot even conceive how fortunate we are to be present and join in the prayers to God at the Holy Mass.  We should thank God daily for the Holy Mass, for I tell you the truth, without the Holy Mass and the clean oblation offered to God at each Holy Mass, the world would cease to exist.  

And without a Catholic Priest there is no Holy Eucharist, no Jesus truly, and substantially present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the most Blessed Sacrament.  This is the one reason why the Catholic Church will always exist until the end of time, because our Lord said, "I am always with you, until the end of the age."  Because He said it would be so, and He would not leave us.  

You don't speak ill of A-N-Y priest, either in your thoughts, and especially not out of your mouth.   Because if you say the slightest word against one of God's priests, you are slapping our Lord in the face.  Our Lord Jesus instituted the Priesthood, and every Catholic Priest is His.

People talk about bad priests (thank goodness I have never met one!), but I tell you the truth, if you knew what a priest will have to account for when he goes before the throne of God, even if he was the worst Priest on the planet, you would lie down and beg God for him.  We are called to be holy, but a priest is not only called to be holy, but to bring souls to God and God will ask him to account for every soul that he served and whether he led that soul to God or away from Him.  

If you knew the power of God that comes by the grace of the Catholic Priesthood you would whisper your priests name in fear of having the wrong inflection and offending God.  

Yet with all this, God is so good, for he only lets a few of us know the truth, otherwise our Priest might fall to pride and self accomplishment when it is all God.  So God in his mercy, even though He has given us this wonderful gift of the Catholic Priesthood, He gives them the gift of humility, for even with all that He has given a Priest to do, they still have to wash their own dishes and do their own laundry. 

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Some of my Favorite Priests:

And these don't include my "Everyday Holy Mass before I go to work." Priests! 
Love them too.





God Bless you Fathers!












Remembering Wisdom

I'm a Christian. So why, one might ask, am I not denouncing something most folks enjoy: like demon rum or Bingo? Or playing the Grinch...