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A “Vacation/Retreat” — 2015

18 Nov

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You are invited to Deacon Henry’s 

14th Retreat Cruise

RCCL Serenade of the Seas

 November 13-23, 2015

Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL with stops at Tortola, BVI … Bassettere, St. Kitts …Roseau, Dominca …St. John … Antigua … Philipsburg, … St. Maarten

Starting at $1,087.00 per person.

You will need a valid passport

Contact:

Vacations by Annette

http://www.AnnetteTravels@aol.com

Phone 407-971-1971  

Retreat Outline:

Moving into God … How to Live the Faith More Effectively

The retreat will help already committed Catholics to renew an appreciation for their faith. It will also invite participants to reflect on how they embrace the call to grow and live the faith in their own families, communities and the environments of work and play.

Session One: Conversion, Moving from Darkness into Light

                Wonderful and Wounded Humanity

                Finding the Light

                Move into the Heart of God

Session Two: Move into God’s Embrace

                Called into the Community of Faith

                Why Belong to the Church

                The Mass—Perfect Prayer

Session Three: Prayer is Living the Mystery

                The Five ‘Words’ of Mary

                Adventures in Prayer—Getting Personal

Session Four: Move into the Mission of Christ

                Called to Give What You Have Received

                Feedback

(Note: Each session will be held while we are at sea and will run from sixty to ninety minutes. If you wish to prepare, look over the Gospels, the Documents of Vatican II on the Laity and the Liturgy, as well as Pope Paul VI’s “On the Evangelization of Peoples” and Pope Francis’ “Light of Faith.”)

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Azariah’s Prayer

16 Aug

Reaching Up

Azariah took a prophetic look at his world,

a prophet must seek and hear his God.

In the Bible’s Book of Daniel, we are treated to the prayer of Azariah. He, Hananiah and Mishael refused to worship an idol created by King Nebuchadnezzar. (Here I use their Hebrew names rather than the ones by which the pagans called them. See Daniel 1:6.)

 Because of their refusal to worship an idol, the enraged king cast them into a fiery furnace. To the king’s amazement, he saw them walking around unharmed in the fiery furnace—and Azariah prophesied about the sinfulness of the Hebrew nation and the justice of God (Daniel 3:1-31).

The Sin of the Nation

In essence, Azariah states that, as a whole, the Hebrews abandoned God. They have ignored God’s will and law, his call to be one with him and to enjoy an intimate life of grace. In spite of all he has done for the Hebrew people, God is dismissed from the depths of the human heart; at best, he is merely acknowledged by external observance of the law; at its worst, his people worship idols and profane his holy Name.

Could we not today, here in our own world, and particularly in our own United States, pray that same prayer as did Azariah? Here, where God has so lavishly blessed our nation with so many good things?

We do indeed have our own idols—the desecration of marriage, hunger for money and power, sex for sex’s sake, and the fear of aging and the desire to look forever young. Just consider carefully the following TV programs: “Dancing with the Stars,” “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Naked and Afraid,” “Dating Naked,”  and that general genre.

We Need the Prophetic Voice

We need prophetic voices, in our Church and in all society, to speak fearlessly, honestly and charitably about the growing darkness in our world.  The old concerns remain and, in my mind, deserve more attention in parishes and in families: Christian frugality, sexual morality, modesty in dress and language, and corruption in government.

And, of great importance, is the responsibility to teach, not  only the things that are sins, but the source of our moral convictions and the unhappy consequences of sin.

St. Augustine was very clear about the responsibility to preach truth. He said that preachers (and I suggest parents and teachers as well) must speak the truth. If they do, and the sinner dies, it is the fault of the sinner; if they do not, and the sinner dies, the preachers, parents and teachers bear the blame.

Jesus, help us to love you purely and passionately and to trust you completely.

The Tiniest is Greater

8 Apr

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Sometimes, God gives us an incomplete idea of what he wants of us–or so we think. Even a hint of what he has in store for us is more powerful than all  doubt and confusion.

 The fortieth chapter of Isaiah has long been a favorite. It launches the faithful one into a deeply rooted evangelistic spirit. It gives marching orders:

Comfort, give comfort to my people.… In the desert prepare the way of the Lord…Go up on a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings, cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news. Fear not to cry out, here is your God! (See verses 1a, 9.)

What a wonderful commission from our Lord.

But, also in Isaiah 40 (6b-7a), we find the powerful admonition which we must believe and proclaim:

“All mankind is grass, and all their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.”

The mere whisper of God’s breath, just a tiny hint of divine glory and power, is infinitely greater than the folly of self worship.

A Bit Significant?

3 Apr

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And on the night before he died, he took bread …

(Mt 26:26-30; Mk 14:22-26; Lk 22:14-20)

Truth Cannot Contradict Itself

Do the bread and wine, when consecrated at Mass, truly become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ?

We say “Yes, Amen!” Others deny this as ridiculous—even some who claim to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.

So, let’s takes a look at the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John.

Actually, we’ll focus on these verses: Jn 6:47-60, 66-69.

Six times Jesus proclaims and insists that unless we eat his body and drink his blood we cannot have life in us. Six times! Many leave him because “This is a hard saying” and they could not believe their ears.

Jesus asks them and us

Jesus turns to his disciples and challenges them: “Are you, too, going to leave me.”

And is it not at least significant that Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?”

It is more than significant. It is divine truth, revealed to us by the Son of God made Man. It is his gift of himself for the faithful of all ages.

What we receive in the Eucharist is not the tortured and dead body of Christ on the cross. We receive him in his glorified body, that body which could walk through doors, suddenly appear on a lake shore, vanish before the eyes of the two men from Emmaus—the body that, in glory, ascended into heaven.

This question of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist culls the flock of the Lord, separates those who believe his words from those who do not.

Check the Scripture for yourself.

And another “significant” fact

In Matthew, Jesus asks the disciples, “And who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They say that the people think he is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other prophet.

Then he asks them, “But who do you say that I am?”

It was Simon (Peter) who responded, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Than Jesus announces that it was the Father himself who revealed this to Peter and he singles out this man for leadership:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Is this not also more than a mere significance? It is divine truth, revealed for the good of the Church, for the unity of the Church in worship, doctrine and ministry.

Again, read the Scripture for yourself. And you may want to check it again on Holy Thursday.

 

 

 

 

Sharing Faith: Joy and Responsibility

14 Mar

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The Gospel is truth, creates a hunger for truth, fosters a love of God and the desire to share God’s love and mercy with others. 

Pope Francis, in his great book, “Joy of the Gospel,” calls all of us to a renewed faith and intimacy with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

He states:

  • Those who meet and know Christ are filled with joy—a joy that overcomes the darkness of sin and hopelessness.
  • To know and love God is to discover the depths of being human.
  • Francis “invites all Christians” to a renewed and personal encounter with Christ.
  • There are Christians “whose lives seem like Lent without Easter”; no one wants to listen to a “sourpuss.”
  • Those who evangelize, those who “give life away,” increase their life and joy. “When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment.”

Seven Topics of Concern

The Holy Father, as he launches into the body of his apostolic exhortation, lists seven topics he will discuss. They are:

  • The reform of the Church in her missionary outreach.
  • The temptation faced by pastoral workers.
  • The homily and its presentation.
  • The Church understood as the entire People of God–who evangelize.
  • The inclusion of the poor in society.
  • Peace and dialog within society.
  • The spiritual motivation for mission.

I encourage everyone to read this magnificent document (see JoAnn in the bookstore).

But I have chosen to treat two of these topics as one—temptation faced by pastoral workers, and the homily and its preparation.

The direction Pope Francis gives in “Joy of the Gospel” is beneficial for everyone, clergy and laity alike, and perhaps especially for parents who want to help their children—young and old—to stay close to God and the Church.

Four Important Things to Remember

Anyone who wants to pass on our Catholic faith must remember at least these four things:

  • God’s invitation to holiness is constant—and we are to seek holiness. Holiness enables us to recognize that God is in others, regardless of their faith, lack of faith or antagonism towards the Gospel.
  • The definitive truths and disciplines of our faith are not without foundation and focus. They are not successfully passed on as disjointed beliefs and behavioral demands. They spring from the heart and mind of Christ. Evangelization is compromised by pharisaical harshness and narrow-mindedness.
  • We must remember that the faithful transmission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will reveal the “centrality of certain truths.” It will become evident, through the conviction that God is Love and loves us, that the Church’s moral teachings are liberating rather than stifling.
  •  If we are true believers, our faith seeks to find rest in other human hearts. It gives a loving and constant invitation to everyone we meet. And “under no circumstance,” says our Holy Father, “can this invitation be obscured.”

Pope Francis reminds us that to evangelize is to cooperate with the liberating work of the Spirit.

This indicates that all of us, baptized and nourished by God’s Word and the Holy Eucharist, are to seek the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit to manifest God’s love. We are to do so in every place and situation each and every day of our lives.

In the Spirit we will “go forth from ourselves” towards our brothers and sisters—whoever and wherever they may be.

 

 

So What’s New?

15 Feb

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The Word of God–timeless and timely.

We go to church every Sunday. We hear the Scriptures over and over again. 

We are told, for example, that we are the “salt of the earth … a light shining in the darkness … a lamp giving light to all ….”

We’ve all heard this before—many, many times. And yet, we hear it again and again.

Why?

What’s new? Haven’t we milked this dry?

What’s new is you—and me, all of us—as we hear the Lord Jesus speaking to us today.

You are not the same today as you were last year—or even yesterday—nor are your loved ones, the people you work with, your neighbors and the world in which we live.

We grow, change our minds, progress and regress. We believe and have doubts. We caress and strike out, speak kindly and speak harshly.

At this very moment, God is calling us to a renewed, a refreshed awareness of his passionate love for us and his desire to speak to us in every moment and every experience of our lives.

God loves us! That truth is the tonic to cure the ills of boredom and apathy.

  • What is God saying to you right now—a word of encouragement or correction? Is it a call to a deeper knowledge of his holy will?

  • And what is the Lord Jesus saying to us, to his Church? Is it a call to deeper faith? To be sure, it is.

  • God’s call is to make our faith a living faith—a faith that will impact the darkness in our world: the plight of the homeless, the really poor, those with no faith, or those with weak faith.

This living faith will permeate the world with the light of hope and compassion. This living faith will shed light into local and national government, into the labor movement and all scientific disciplines.

For years, the popes and all the bishops, and indeed our own parish priests, have urged us to develop a deep, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Most recently, Pope Francis is urging all of us—clergy and laity alike—to rediscover the “Joy of the Gospel,” a joy that is the same as peace, a joy that is itself a magnificent light shining in the darkness.

So, what is this joy? Is it happiness? No, it is more than happiness. You can be happy over a good thing that happens.

Is it a spirit of gratitude? No, it is more than gratitude. You can be grateful for a gift—large or small.

  • Joy, like love, surpasses the limits of happiness and gratitude.

  • Joy is the light that shines in the darkness of your deepest hurt, your greatest need and your searing sadness.

How, then, do you acquire and nourish this joy?

You enter into the heart, mind and soul of Jesus Christ. You beseech the Father to make you one with him. You open yourself to the wisdom and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

When you at last surrender to God, you become victorious. You live that divine joy—and you can say with all honesty and the deepest of fervor and desire, “Lord God! I am yours!”

‘Joy of the Gospel’

22 Jan

 

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Exalt in the Word of the Lord! For he loves us unconditionally!

Pope Francis has given the Church a great gift in his “Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium).

In this book published last November, the Holy Father both edifies and challenges Catholics in their faith. He urges us to believe that God loves us. He challenges us to love others as God loves us.

That love for others, from the faithful heart, of necessity will result in sharing the cause of our joy and hope with others, with everyone in our life, with everyone we meet.

Continuing the vision of John XXIII, Blessed John Paul and Benedict XVI, he is calling us to recapture the fervor and focus of the early Church, that fervor which, for example, brought 3,000 people into the Church on the heels of that first Christian Pentecost. Or, again, the fervor which motivated Deacons Stephen, Ephraim, Philip and Francis to bring God’s Word and his wisdom to the people of their time.

And we can’t help but recall other great saints such as Teresa of Avila, Therese the Little Flower, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, John Chrysostom and Peter Chrysologos.

Here are some gleanings from “Joy of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis insists that each Catholic is responsible for sharing God’s love and the Gospel of Christ. He says that the Church goes forth to bring God’s word to all people. The Church (that means all of us) must leave her comfort zone to follow Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.

 The Church “which goes forth is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step.” This community knows that the Lord Jesus has taken the first step—he has lived among us, taught us and died and risen from the dead for us. He is asking us to do what he did. 

Pope Francis envisions a “ ‘missionary option,’ a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, time and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

Please, read and reflect on this message from our Holy Father. Reflect on it with family members, friends and fellow parishioners. Pope Francis is ushering us into a new Pentecost– and that’s what the “New Evangelization” is all about.

(You may download the document from www.holysee.org and click on Apostolic Exhortations. Or, you may obtain it from Word Among Us Press, www.wordamongus.org , for less than $10.00.)