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Just Who Are We?

19 Aug

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I mean, as “Church,” just who are we?

Well, indeed, with my fellow parishioners I proclaim we are St. Mary Magdalen Parish (and, we probably think, with “humble pride,” the best of the best parishes).

And you might say the same about your own parish. After all, the local parish is where we Catholics learn about and celebrate our salvation won for us by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

However, I cannot stop there; nor can I stop with the fact that here in Central Florida we belong to the Diocese of Orlando.

“There has to be more,” silently urges the soul.

St. Paul writes that God the Father “has put all things under Christ’s feet and made him, thus exalted, head of the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts” (Eph 1:22).[i]

This verse from Ephesians stopped me one morning as I prayed The Liturgy of the Hours. I sensed a deep peace—and, yes, joy—as I reflected on “the Church, which is his body the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts.”

That’s who we are—the fullness of Christ. For “in him, and with him and through him”[ii] we become the living Gospel. Each of us is called to be a tabernacle of his Real Presence in the world and in God’s entire creation.

In Christ, all things are “under our feet,” for we are the “body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts.”

So great an honor, is it not? To be Christ to the world, to reflect the divine light of God in the darkness of fear, despair, unbelief, hopelessness and indifference.

Honor? Yes. But remember, we are his disciples and that’s the only way we share in his mission and glory.

If we are to share his honor and the glory, we have to do what Jesus the Christ tells us:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” Jn 16:24-25).[iii]

 And here’s where the rubber meets the road.

 

[i] NAB, copyright 1970, 1973, 1975, international Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., taken from The Liturgy of the Hours, Book IV, p. 1519.

[ii] From the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.

[iii] NAB, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1970.

 

 

 

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We Are to Die with Them

28 Mar

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We may walk in shadows because we are too busy to see one another and the light of faith.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Cor 12:27).

Isolation—that is one reason we feel so alone. Everyone seems to be so busy, so involved in so many personal duties and pursuits.

We are so accustomed to the busyness of isolation that we are numb to the suffering of others. No, not to our family and close friends—but how do we think about those other Christians, the ones being slaughtered by ISIS?

In his death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ, calls us into an intimate communion with him and one another.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor: 12-13).

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Cor 12:26).

In faith and love, we share their terror, pain and death. We pray for them as we would pray for ourselves.

We are all one Body—the Body that was nailed to the Cross, the Body that rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.

We all have been called to “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4: 5-6).

 

Commercials: Ugh!

19 Feb

For Blog 011

When you fast, put on a happy face!

Here are some disgruntled observations about TV commercials.

  • You see these memorial crosses on the side of city streets and freeways. They are there to say that a loved one died in a car accident—and perhaps as a reminder that driving a car can be fatal. Yet, auto dealers show their cars speeding, spinning, leaping and sliding. I think this is irresponsible.
  • Then, there are these soap opera commercials that run and run and run. At times, unless you mute them and take a bathroom break, you can almost forget the show you were supposed to be watching.
  • Don’t forget about those spots (all too long) that want you to call in to purchase almost anything. You know, “but wait” you get double the order “free.” I called in once and I’ll never do it again. I couldn’t talk to a real person. The automated message kept on talking and trying to sell me a bunch of stuff I’d never want. What’s happened to person to person, eyeball to eyeball shopping?
  • Oh, yes—and don’t forget the lead-ins to the “real message” about the product. Some of these have nothing to do with the product. They serve merely as attention getters. I’ve stopped watching these also.

Maybe it comes with age (wisdom, boredom, clogged arteries?) but it takes much more that cutesy ideas to capture my interest.

(NOTE: During Lent, I will not be posting as many blogs–time to recollect, refresh, renew and recommit.)

Cruise Retreat 14

10 Feb

For Blog 011

                                                                          A happy invitation  

DEACON HENRY’S RETREAT CRUISE 14

on RCCL’s Serenade of the Seas. 

Time flies! We’ll be setting sail before you know it.

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

To sign up and for more information, please contact:

Vacations by Annette

http://www.AnnetteTravels@aol.com

Phone 407-971-1971

Starting at $1,087.00 per person.

You will need a valid passport.

Retreat Outline:

Moving into God … How to Live the Faith More Effectively

          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

(Note: Each session will be held while we are at sea and will run from sixty to ninety minutes–plenty of time left to shop, tour the ship or, hopefully, win a bit at the Casino.)

Christmas and Old Folks

5 Dec

 

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 This is a West Virginia scene. No snow in Central Florida!

For us older parishioners, Christmas brings back many memories of the “good old days.” I remember my earliest Christmases—the mystery of Santa Claus and the anticipation of what would suddenly appear under the tree.

I remember loving and generous parents, although they were far from rich and not especially comfortable with expenses vs. income. And I had wonderful grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins galore. Then there was brother, nine years my senior—and the wicked joy he took in teasing me.

Memories of Joy and Sadness

But burned ever more deeply in my memory was the tradition of Midnight Mass for all of us, with Mama singing alto in our parish choir.

Even when I was five or six years old, I knew the real meaning of Christmas—Jesus, our Savior is born.

Christmas joy and love remain among us—but, along with other older Catholics, there is that sadness that “things are no longer the same.” We are not as spry as we used to be. We forget things that happened last night while we recall a Christmas decades ago.

And there is sadness, too, that “things are no longer the same” in our families. There are fewer families boasting relatives who live near us, who can come together for Christmas dinner.

And, many of us old folks experience disappointment that, in our judgment, some of our children, grandchildren and other relatives seem to have lost the significance of the birth of Christ.

Incarnation is for Every Day

The Incarnation of the Son of God, and his birth from the virginal womb of Mary, must remain a daily reality. You see, we are part of the mystery of Incarnation. The Son of God became a man like us in all things except sin. We are in Christ; we are the Body of Christ.

In baptism, we were filled with divine life of God—and Jesus’s mission became our own when he commanded: “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19 ff).

Live What We Believe

We have no idea how our faith will impress or inspire those around us. Blessed Pope Paul VI said that we first of all share our faith by our goodness and holiness. In other words, we live and practice what we believe before we can ever hope to convince others when we speak to them about our faith.

 

The Messiah Comes!

9 Oct

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Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…

Jn 12:13b

Embraced by God, Part 6

IT IS THE PROPHET ISAIAH WHO SPEAKS so very clearly of the Messiah who was to bring joy to faithful hearts. Isaiah saw in the Messiah someone to be acclaimed as Lord and God—and one who suffers because he is the Savior.

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 and say to the cities of Judah,

Here is your God!

Is 40:9

    AND AGAIN, the voice of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, is uttered through Isaiah:

The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue,

That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.

Morning after morning he opens my ears that I may hear;

And I have not rebelled, have not turned back.

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;

My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced;

I have set my face like flint, knowing I shall not be put to shame.

Is 50:4-7

HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!

At last, the time has come. The promised Messiah has arrived. He is Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

He is introduced to us all by John the Baptist. John is baptizing repentant sinners in the Jordan River. He sees Jesus walking toward him. He announces simply, but forcefully, Jesus’ true identity:

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Jn 1:29

            With John’s proclamation, we enter into the mystery of salvation.

CHRIST CAME TO REDEEM ALL PEOPLE of all generations. We each are called to recognize in Christ our own personal Savior. At the same time, we are called into the new People of God. It is a call to become fully immersed in the Body of Christ, into his Church.

Being in the Church provides what people most need—intimacy with God through Word and Sacrament, and a deeply rooted communion with other believers, a communion ordained by God and reflective of the natural desire to belong, to count, to live with others.

As with the ants in our preceding blog, we need each other, and depend on each other, to achieve success in our lives and mission.

BUT BE PATIENT: When moving into God’s embrace, it is often slow and painstaking growth rather than dramatic conversion.

 

Called into the Comunity of Faith

4 Oct

 

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Embraced by God, Part 5 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were “no people” but now you are God’s people: you “had not received mercy” but now you have received mercy.

1 Pt 2:9-1

IT WAS JUST IDLE CURIOSITY, and a desire for a bit of intelligent entertainment, that led Peg and me to a National Geographic TV program about ants. I’ve always been fascinated by these little creatures. I recall many years ago sitting with our youngest child just watching ants work, moving objects far larger and heavier than themselves.

As I watched this program, particularly the segment on leaf-cutting ants, I saw clearly how the ant colony depends on the dedicated work of each individual.

Some ants go up into the weeds, bushes and trees and cut off large segments of leaves. They drop these leaves to their counterparts on the ground. These ants cut the large portions into smaller segments for still other ants to carry back to their home base.

Part of the marvel of it all is that these smaller segments weigh more and are much larger than ants carrying them.

Going and coming, they follow scent trails left by scouts looking for plants to supply leaves. They also scout for food.

Their instinct for work is so strong that if caught in a grass fire, they continue working until they are burned to death.

And when the community must move from one location to another, they carry the eggs and the yet-unformed young along with them, with as many as four ants pulling along an offspring who, encased in its “womb,” is much larger than those helping him.

That’s how God made us—individuals, dependent on one another for personal survival and the survival of the human race.

God created each of us and loves all of us.

But, God wanted a people of his own, a people to whom and through whom he could communicate his love and wisdom to all humankind.

From the Old Testament, God calls Abram, a seventy-five-year-old pagan, whom he will rename Abraham, to leave his own homelands, to strike out into the unknown.

The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Gn 12:1).

And thus began, in the Hebrews, his chosen people, the great odyssey of God’s plan for salvation. It remained rooted in the hearts of the Hebrew people—in faithful and in unfaithful times.

Among those who came after Abraham was Moses, who led God’s people away from slavery in Egypt.

A great nation—a people: This is God’s vision and his promise.

“I am the Lord. I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will rescue you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment I will take you as my own people and you shall have me as your God.”

Ex 6:6-7a

Then there was David who became a mighty king and warrior, also an adulterer and murderer, but one chosen and forgiven by God. David gave his people victory. He also gave us psalms to instruct us and to help us praise God.

Solomon, David’s son, built a magnificent temple for God. His wisdom is noted to this very day.

God kept his covenant to be faithful to his people even when they fell away from him and took on the attitudes and practices of pagans. His promise of a Messiah rang down through the centuries.

Next: The Messiah Comes