Saturday, January 31, 2009

The prophet's choice (Sunday homily)

The people reflected in the readings wanted a prophet—
someone who would speak with authority for God—
and maybe we might like to have a prophet in our time as well?

You realize we actually do have such a prophet?
The Church has the role of prophet in our world today.

Our Lord himself founded the Church,
and poured out his Holy Spirit
to guide the Church with assurance—
even, as needed, with “infallibility”—
meaning, the Church cannot, and will not, err,
when teaching about Christ and how to live for Christ.

So the Church, as a whole—all of us—is prophet to the world.
Each of us, by our baptism has a share in this prophetic role.

This is why it matters that you and I are spiritually active:
why be faithful in going to confession and Mass?
Why continually seek to grow in our faith?
This is why our Catholic schools are worth sacrificing for.
This is why our religious education program is not an “extra.”
We are prophets: Christ is counting on each of us!

Within the Church, the prophetic role
belongs in a special way to the “teaching office” of the Church—
that is, her bishops, led by the pope,
and assisted by deacons and priests.

Now, you might look to your pastor, or our bishop, or our pope,
and you might shake your head! But it’s always been that way.

We’ve always been men with feet of clay,
with our heads in the sand and our finger in the air.

God could have sent us angels to lead the Church;
instead, he personally chose Twelve, with all their flaws.
Maybe he did that was so it would be clear, from day one,
that the success of the Church was the work of the Holy Spirit.

The story goes that Napoleon threatened to crush the Church—
and a Cardinal [Consalvi] replied,
“If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church,
do you really think that you'll be able to do it?”

If there are times the Church says things we don’t want to hear,
or are hard to follow—well, that is part of what a prophet does.

It is been a bone of contention, for some,
that I am “too conservative” about teaching the Faith,
or celebrating the Mass.
Now, I admit I am prone to my own biases and flaws, as are we all.
If you are here 50 or 100 years from now,
no pastor will follow me who will be any different.

So, the one thing that can correct for that is
that I submit myself, as much as possible,
to wisdom and authority greater than myself:
the pope, the bishops, the Second Vatican Council,
and the longstanding Tradition of the Church.

But not just me, as your pastor—but all of us.
Our common ground can only be what the Church actually teaches,
and the accumulated wisdom of our whole Tradition.

At times I will cite Vatican II, and someone will say,
“wait, that’s not what I was told.”
Many understandably think it was all settled years ago.

In fact, there are a lot of open questions—
and, yes, some rethinking going on.

If you’ve heard about these four bishops,
who are at odds with the Church,
but who the pope is trying to bring back into the fold:
that’s a big part of what that’s about.

Our pope—who took part in the Council—
has written at length about how best to understand
the Second Vatican Council in the light of our ancient tradition.
Many think—many were told—that the purpose of the Council
was to set aside what was handed down:
“Out with the old, in with the new.”

That’s a misunderstanding,
but it really is what a lot of people were told, or experienced;
and because it is a wrong understanding, it needs to be corrected.
If you want to know what Pope Benedict is about—there it is.
If you want to know what I’m trying to do—there it is.

One of the trials of any prophet
is that she sees what others do not;
He tells others what no one else says.

It happens when the pope teaches us about contraception,
capital punishment, or remembering the poor;
it happens when you and I speak up for Christ in our daily lives.

To be a member of the Body of Christ is—and always has been—
to be “out of sync” with the world around us.

That’s why they fed us to the lions,
why they chucked us into concentration camps,
and why people shake their heads and say,
“your values don’t fit in our world!”

They are right!
Because the world is passing away, but Christ is eternal!
Every culture and every generation thinks it has all the answers;
followed immediately by another culture or generation
that knows better!

This is where we find ourselves, day by day,
This is the choice, at each moment:
The culture or Christ?

Friday, January 30, 2009

The wonders of rice, heat and vicodin

Yesterday I walked over to have lunch with the schoolchildren; unfortunately, I stepped on a wet spot on the floor, my feet came out from under me and I landed squarely on my...prosperity. Ow!

God bless the kids, a bunch came over, "are you all right, Father?" Well, at the moment, I didn't feel like talking much! I just nodded and caught my breath; a couple of the fathers--it being "Catholic Schools Week," parents were having lunch with the children this week--came over and helped me up. I was pretty sore, and after working a couple more hours, I went home and tried some ice on my back. That helped; I had a Pastoral Council meeting that evening, and I made it to that; then headed home again. I remembered I had some vicodin, so I popped one of those. That helped, but it wore off about 3 am...unnh!

But by then I'd realized I hadn't broken anything, it was just soreness; putting on socks, boy was that an adventure! I was in the office a bit today, but am back home now. My secretary reminded me about the "rice pack" she'd given me awhile back--do you know what those are? It's just a bunch of rice, sewn up in a cloth bag. What you do is microwave it for 2-4 minutes, and it's nice and hot...ahhhh!

Of course everyone heard about it, and someone said, oh that much have been embarrassing; well, I suppose, but at the moment, I really didn't think about that! Just as well, I guess.

Anyway, I expect I'll be sore for a few days, but Deo volente, nothing more to worry about.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Conversion of Saint Paul in Piqua

Here's how we did things here, today...

> I had the 7 am and 10:30 am Masses this morning; I was a little slow getting over to the first Mass, so alas I started two minutes late.

> We arranged to have postcards in the pews, which the bishops had provided to parishes, as part of an effort to oppose the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act." The other priests and I explained the postcard effort, and assisted everyone in filling them out during the homily time.

My own preference is not to do this sort of thiinig in a homily, but to present a homily--but I deferred to the bishops on this one, and it is obviously a good cause.

> My homily was about conversion, keying off the readings of course, talking about how each of us experiences conversion, a bit about baptism, a bit about my own conversion experience, and how we all continue to experience conversion; and I talked about being agents of conversion--particularly for our society (lead in to the postcard effort).

> After 10:30 am Mass, Father Tom and I had brunch with the catechists who serve our religious education program, to kick off a time of prayer and reflection for them. The original plan was to have the time of reflection, followed by dinner, but we had to rearrange that. Following the meal, we headed back to St. Mary, where I led a study of Acts 22 (our first reading at Mass), to see what insights we could draw from Paul's conversion, for ourselves. Some nice connections. From there, we went over to church, for a period of exposition and prayer; I invited the catechists to reflect on anything we discussed, but perhaps especially on how God might be at work in their lives for ongoing conversion--and how they might make conversion meaningful for the children we're serving. Then back to the meeting room for a talk by Father Tom, on some of the things St. Paul teaches us that make an impact on us today. We finished up around 4 pm.

> Next up: the Life Teen youth group's "BBQ in the Snow"--this year we actually have snow for it (boo!)--that starts around 6:30 pm, and I'll stop by for that.

> After that, I hope to get together with the artist who is headed into town to work on the windows at St. Boniface--he's driving in from Wisconsin, and is due around 7 pm.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back from the March for Life

My whirlwind trip to the nation's capital is over. Left right after Mass Wednesday morning, hit DC around 5, dinner with my nephew, his wife and their son, then met up with a couple of Cincinnati priests downtown. Up for Mass at the Verizon Center with Archbishop Wuerl and everyone else--that's a combination "youth rally" plus Mass--then the seminarians from Cincinnati and I had lunch on the way to the march, then I found the Lehman Catholic group and we hung out a bit until we got marching. Started the Rosary, prayed all 20 decades, with help from Fathers Earl Fernandes and James Reutter--Father Jason Bedel was going to lead some of the mysteries, but he got way ahead of us, so that didn't work out. We ran out of mysteries before the march ended, so I'm thinking about five or ten new mysteries to suggest to Pope Benedict (next time I see him!).

Our parishes' coordinator of religious education and youth ministry drove back with me--he came up on the Lehman bus, all night. We decided to get something to eat before we left around 6 pm, and because it took forever to get out of DC at that hour--traffic was gummed up all the way up I-270 until it met I-70, in Frederick, Maryland!--we didn't get home until 3 am.

After sleeping a little later, I feel just fine, back in the office, and thankfully, not too much stuff piled on my desk.

The March is the same every year, except its numbers rise and fall; they were higher, I'm sure--I have a hard time gauging the crowd from my vantage-point--because of the election results. I was glad that very little of the signage or chanting was antagonistic to our new president--I think that is counterproductive, especially on his second day in office. I'm not saying there can't be the normal rough-and-tumble of politics, but I do not want to see President Obama "paid back" with a vitriole similar to what was visited on President George Bush. And it's practical--how does alienating tens of millions of African-Americans, who otherwise agree with us, help our cause?

A small matter: I noticed that the Obama White House waited until after the march--judging by press reports--to raise the spectre of changes in executive orders on abortion. Everyone knew it was coming; it might have happened the day he was inaugurated, which--if memory serves--is what President Bill Clinton did. Instead, the Obama folks chose to wait just a little bit, and not grind prolifers' noses into it. (CORRECTION: I just read, via a link at Rich Leonardi's "Ten Reasons," that President Obama signed an abortion-related order on Thursday, sorry I'd missed that report.)

Another matter--I read at the Washington Post today that "Federal regulators have approved the first experiment testing human embryonic stem cells on people, officials announced today." Connected to President Obama? Well, the article adds, "While the timing of the FDA approval led some to speculate that the two moves were related, Geron's work had not been restricted by the ban. The cells being used by the company were derived from leftover embryos at fertility clinics before the ban was implemented in 2001."

I realize a lot of prolifers are very negative about the near-term prospects, but I believe things are starting to get better and will continue to get better as we go forward. Prolife activism is going to continue to swell, affecting not only marches in D.C. and federal policy, but policy at the state and local level as well.

This weekend, millions of Mass-goers will be asked to sign postcards to Congress, opposing the so-called "Freedom of Choice" Act; and every indication I have is that while the abortion lobby wants it and will demand it, the White House and Congress know it's becoming more and more politically radioactive. Actually, you and I want a recorded vote on that, because a vote for that extreme legislation will be a huge, political liability for anyone not running in a super-safe seat--especially in the U.S. Senate. We have to do the work--we have to write the letters and sign the petitions--but I'm convinced we can stop that legislation, and just waging the battle will mobilize prolifers, and make us stronger than before.

What I saw at the March tells me we have a lot going for us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations Mr. President

A few minutes before Noon, the staff gathered in the office kitchen to watch President Obama take his oath, and then deliver his speech. I am glad I didn't see the tacky way some people received President Bush when he arrived--I think I had just turned on the TV. I hope those on my side, who are not fans of President Obama, do not treat him the same way. Low class.

I was thinking last night about how easily this might not have happened: Hilary Clinton might very easily have won the nomination--to my mind, she really "should" have, in the sense that she had every advantage, and if she'd simply done a few things differently, things she could have foreseen, she'd have won the nomination--and she might well be president today. I think that, had the Iraq War not happened, or if President Bush had come up with the "surge" strategy sooner, Senator Obama might well not have had had the war as an issue, to win the nomination. And of couse, one wonders if McCain might have won, had a thing or two turned out differently.

But here he is, and I, for one, wish him well, even though I will oppose him on so many things he advocates. I am happy for him, as he dances with his wife, enjoying his day; I am very happy that the whole world witnesses something that would not happen in so many places: the barriers and bigotry of the past has been so swiftly swept aside. Not too many years ago, people said it would not happen, and if a black man became president, it would occcasion terrible reactions. In fact, we've all taken it in stride, both white and black. Many of the nations that criticize us--for all things--of not being inclusive and tolerant, surely know that what happened here would never happen in their country; and that includes many of our democratic, enlightened, allies.

Tomorrow morning, after Mass, I'll drive to DC for the March for Life on Thursday. I expect a great turnout as prolifers nationwide get up and get even more active than usual; this weekend, our parishes here will take our part in a nationwide effort to send postcards to Congress opposing the so-called "Freedom of Choice" Act, which is the most extreme pro-abortion legislation you could imagine, which we must now prevent from passing. I think we'll do it: yes, we can!

Meanwhile, let's pray for our new president, to have a change of mind and heart--that he may see that all his good words about lifting people up, and setting people free, should include the unborn.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'You're called to be a "caller"'(Sunday homily)

This past week has been “Vocations Awareness Week.”
These readings today are perfect—
we hear about how God called Samuel,
and how God chose Peter and Andrew.

This past week, I had a visit from a parishioner,
Who wanted to talk about how can do more to promote the deacon program,
as well as lay pastoral ministry.

Perfect timing!

I admitted to her, I’ve done less on these things than I’d like,
so I was glad she brought it up to me.

She had some ideas, and she’s going to get back to me, but—
here’s what I would say to everyone here:

> We have a Vocation Committee,
but it’s small and needs more people.
There are a lot of good things, good resources,
I wish I had more time to work on this,
I’m just swamped these days!
But if you are interested, please give me a call!

My point is, with some more help, I think we can,
this year, start doing a lot more.

> For those thinking about being a deacon—come see me.
I see a lot of men here who would make great deacons.
But I realize it’s a hard call to answer,
with jobs and family concerns.
Each situation is unique, let’s talk about how to do it.

> If you’re specifically interested in promoting
lay pastoral ministry, I think the parishioner
who came to see me, would be interested
in hearing about that. Let me know!
We want to do some things.

In the first reading, did you notice where Samuel was,
when he was called?
He was in the House of the Lord;
yes, sleeping! But still, in God’s House.

When Andrew followed Jesus,
the first thing he did was simply spend time with him.
That means prayer, and confession and the sacraments,
but it also means giving each day to him.
Good for all of us to hear his call.

Now, when we talk about “vocations,” a lot of us are saying,
I’m not going to be a sister or brother or a priest.

I’ve got two things to say to that:
First: I said that too!
Many times I said, “oh no, not for me!”
I spent many years away from the Church,
and was certain I’d never come back to being Catholic.

But God has his way of calling you, “Samuel, Samuel!”
He called me back to our Faith,
and in time, he led me to be a priest, and your pastor.

Not once did He force me.
Not once have I regretted answering the call to be a priest!

So, parents: sometimes you wonder if your sons or daughters
will be happy and fulfilled, in answering this call.
The answer is, if this is for them, then nothing else will!
Parents, please be generous in your encouragement.

But a second point, for those who say you’re not called
to the priesthood, or religious life, is…

OK, but you still called to support that calling in others.
You are still called to help us, as a Church, to draw others.

If we want more priests and deacons and religious,
we must pray for them;
we must support that calling; that is a responsibility for all of us.

In other words, you are called to be a "caller."

That’s why I’ve asked everyone to add, to your grace at meals,
a simple prayer: “please send us more holy priests.”
I ask you to bring this to your holy hours and daily prayers.

Sunday night, we have an opportunity.
At St. Mary, 6-8:30 pm, we’ll have the “Call to the King” Conference—a chance to pray for more vocations,
And to consider if your “calling” is not to be a priest,
but to be a prayer-warrior for others to answer the call.

I ask you to consider two times, in our recent experience,
where we stormed heaven—and heaven answered:

1. Father Tom was a death’s door. You remember?
We prayed, and prayed and prayed. Look at what happened!

2. Every week, St. Boniface prayed for the “Rebuild St. Boniface Fund Drive.”
That thermometer sign in the vestibule didn’t move very much.

Go check it out—it’s moving a lot faster!
We’re going to complete that fund soon!

So there’s a calling to be religious and priests—
but there’s also a calling
to be the one who prays and sacrifices for these things.

I ask that everyone of us answer that call.

“Here am I Lord—I come to do your will.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

The King Calls You to Piqua (bumped)

...Sunday, January 18, AD 2009...

'Call of the King Conference'...

Right here in Piqua, at Saint Mary Church

Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 6-6:45 pm, led by Father Kyle Schnippel, Vocation Director for the Archdiocese, assisted by other area clergy.

Talks by:

Rev. Earl Fernandes, professor of moral theology at Mount Saint Mary Seminary, and a dynamic young priest...

Rev. Jason Bedel, newly minted priest, will tell his story and how your prayers made a difference...

and Andrew Cordonnier, a fine young seminarian, on his journey.

Refreshments follow at 8:30 pm...

And yours truly will be there as well!

Who should come?

All who want to pray for priestly vocations and for our priests

Anyone thinking about a vocation to the priesthood

See you there!

Sorry I'm typing so slowly...

But, boy, is it cold here!

It was more than 20 degrees below zero hereabouts last night, according to some folks in the office; we found some pipes frozen at the office, and it was a little nippy in St. Mary Church at Mass this morning. And yet a hardy 10-15 folks showed up for Mass, and in my homily, I told them it was edifying to Father Tom (who was concelebrating) and me to see them there when nothing obliged them.

My day started with a finance committee meeting at 7 am--we went over a monthly budget report, and talked about the disposition of some nice donations received before the end of the year. Based on what the donors themselves said, the finance committee feels strongly the funds should be put to building fund needs--either those pending or future.

As some of you know, St. Boniface has had a "Rebuild St. Boniface Fund" drive for about 2 years, aimed at dealing a variety of needs in the school and church. We've accomplished some of them, but we have many more to go. In December, we had a fundraiser "roast and toast" in honor of our 90-year old Father Caserta, and wow, was that successful! We raised over $80,000 from the event, between ticket sales or other gifts and pledges! We said we'd use the proceeds to restore St. Boniface's 107-year-old stained-glass windows, and then, we got a gift of $50,000 toward the project, so all of a sudden, we are in a position to begin the work.

So, this week, I've been working on that, and the project will begin next week.

Down the road, we want to replace windows in the school, replace the pews, deal with weather-caused cracks and deterioration of the church and office exterior, and a number of other things.

It's exciting and it's been something I've been working on for at least two years.

Also today, I went back to the hospital, to bring the Eucharist to someone I visited yesterday--but with a twist: I brought the Precious Blood.

This is unusual, but it is allowed, for those who cannot receive the Eucharist in the form of bread; in this case, the patient had a tracheotomy and could not swallow. So I explained to her, and her family, I could bring the Precious Blood, and put just a tiny amount in her mouth, so that there'd be no issue of swallowing or choking. She was eager to have it.

Here's the thing--one has to plan for it, because it is not allowed to reserve the Precious Blood except for a short time, in anticipation of this situation. So I consecrated a small amount of wine in a eye-dropper, which I keep in the sacristy for this purpose. I realize an eye-dropper doesn't seem very dignified, and I agree, but it's all I've found so far for this purpose. (If anyone knows of something different, let me know.) I chose to use the Mass prayers for a Votive Mass of the Precious Blood, and I explained the whole thing in my homily, both so people would know what I was doing, and also to help spread the word about this: it concerns me that some people mistakenly think they can't receive the Eucharist, because they can't swallow something solid.

So, this afternoon, I headed down to the hospital, and visited the patient, and explained how I'd administer the Eucharist, and assured her that, although it would be a tiny amount, it was Our Lord all the same.

Well, there were a few other routine items, but those were the highlights. It was a light day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another day in a pastor's life...

Some events from today...

Hit the office around 9 am--since I don't come in on Mondays, I had plenty waiting for me. A lot of mail to open and then direct to various folks.

I had to meet a family to prepare for a funeral--the man who died Saturday night--but I had to get some things done in the office first. I usually don't meet with the families myself, although I like doing it; but in anticipation of the day, perhaps not far away, when I will be the only priest here, I decided to recruit and train some parishioners who could do this. But this time, I did it. So I got my list of music suggestions, which I had the music director prepare some time back, and headed over the family home.

We spent about an hour, going over readings, and I explained the way the funeral would go. We went over possible music choices; the family didn't ask for too many things, I explained the meaning of the In Paradisum which is the normative hymn for the procession with the body to the cemetery, so they chose that; they also liked the idea of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, and they chose black vestments, after I explained the meaning of the options of purple, white and black. Then I asked them to tell me about the man who died, as I didn't know him well, but I explained that the homily is mainly about our Faith, and how Christ acted in the life of the one who died.

Back to the office around Noon, I think, and back to my desk. I got a few things together for the penance service tonight, for the children receiving the sacrament the first time (in preparation for first reception of the Eucharist), and I answered various emails, took a number of calls, signed checks, and opened mail. I had a big pile on my desk and worked on it somewhat. I had a meeting at 2:30 pm with the chairman of our stewardship commission--the purpose of which is to encourage involvement and inculcate a mindset in the parishes that fosters gratitude and a sense of mission, among other things. We were planning a survey we will provide for all parishioners, we hope in February.

I left that meeting around 4:30, and was on my way to the funeral home for the prayers, and I was thinking about my homily at the penance service. I remembered the Gospel was Luke 15, about the lost sheep; and the next parable is the lost coin (and then the lost son, aka the "prodigal" son); so I had an idea for my homily, and turned around and headed to the bank, where I bought ten gold, dollar coins.

Then to the funeral home, where I talked briefly with those who would bring the gifts forward, and the reader, then prayed the prayers with the family. Then I headed home to prepare my homily; at which point, I re-discovered that the coins in Luke 15 weren't gold, but were drachmae, which were silver! Ah well, no one else would know that!

As I'm waiting in the sacristy for the other priests, the coordinator of religious education advised me our retired priest was on his way to Columbus, to visit someone very sick. Oops, I bet he won't make it--five priests scheduled, now four. I explained to the other priests how things would go, and we began the service at 7 on the dot.

Simple service, using one of those Haugen settings of the 23rd psalm--which isn't appropriate for use as the responsorial psalm because it's not a proper translation--as the opening hymn. Seems like a good use to put them to, particularly at a Penance Service. Readings, Gospel, homily. In my homily I talked about the value of the sheep, the value of a coin--about a day's wages--and the most valuable thing is what Jesus goes looking for, us. "This sacrament doesn't make sense if we've never had the experience of being lost, if we've never felt our sins put distance between us and God; but for the rest of us who have been lost, Jesus has found us, right here!" Jesus comes to us, I explained, in the person of the priest. I also recalled baptism, and--keying off Psalm 51, which was our psalm response--the joy given us in the Holy Spirit, and this is restored in this sacrament.

One of the catechists led us in an examination of conscience, then I told everyone where the priest's would be. By that point, the retired priest had shown up! Deo gratias! FYI, every child had the option of confessing anonymously, and all the adults were encouraged to come, which is why five priests was important--they might hold back otherwise.

It was about 8 when I brought things to a close, at which point I blessed the rosaries each of the children had been given, and I greeted everyone I could afterward. Back here by about 8:30 pm, had my dinner, and now I'm writing this post.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's all good...

It's been a tiring week.

Monday I went into the office, surprising my staff; but I'd been out of the office a lot the prior two weeks, and I needed to catch up--which I did, to some degree.

One of the reasons I try to plough through the mess on my desk and keep it somewhat manageable, is because so many things come to me unexpectedly. Such as the last week or so--Saint Boniface received some unexpected gifts that will really help; and as a result, I was able to move ahead on restoring our stained-glass windows, which are over 100 years old, and deteriorating. Thanks to some generous donations, we will be able to bring them back to pristine shape over the next two years or so. So this week, part of my time was spent finalizing the plans for that, advising Pastoral Council since it involves a significant expenditure, and getting things in motion.

One of the tasks was to call all the couples planning weddings this year, to let them know this was going to happen, in case they wanted to shift their wedding to St. Mary.

Friday, I spent part of the day at the store, buying supplies for a dinner party Saturday evening; I have dinner for the parish staff every year at this time; this year, I didn't have the funds to take them out as before, so I prepared dinner for them. For those interested, the menu was:

With drinks, for appetizers we had:

Shrimp cocktail (okay, I mean I had a tray of shrimp with cocktail sauce)
Crudites (cut up vegetables)
Asagio cheese with pepperoni (and crackers)
Chips & dip

Then dinner:

Tossed salad
Roast Beef
Homemade mashed potatoes
Green Beans Piqua Style (hereabouts they make them with stewed tomatoes, very tasty)
Rolls and butter

For dessert:

Cheesecake with assorted toppings
Cut up fresh fruit

In case you are wondering what I actually made, I made the lasagna, but not the sauce; I mashed the potatoes, using both red and Idaho potatoes and leaving the skins on; I did not cut up the vegetables or the fruit, I let Kroger do that; the sisters prepared the green beans; I got the cheesecake also at Kroger.

Everything turned out fairly well--but I started things too early, and the lasagna and roast were finished way ahead of time; so everything had to be kept warm. Thankfully, it wasn't overdone.

Well, then, after all that, I was still up around midnight, and was about to head to bed, when the phone rang. It was the police dispatcher; the police had been called to a home and a priest was needed. No details, other than that someone had died. The dispatcher gave me a number; I called; it was busy. So for almost the next hour or so, I kept calling; it was busy. Finally, I got through; yes, they wanted me to come.

Well, I was wondering what the situation would prove to be; as it turned out--without going into details--it was relatively straightforward and I was able to pray with the family and for the deceased. But it was about 2 am when I got back; then up this morning for 7 am Mass.

At 9 am Mass, we welcomed five catechumens and had a ritual as part of Mass for them, signing them with the sign of the cross, and presenting them with crucifixes. The feast day was well suited for this, as I spoke about baptism. Sorry I don't have a text; I had some ideas I worked with, it's just been that way lately.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What's going on...

Today has been fairly busy, here's what I've been up to...

> up at 6 am to get ready for 7 am Mass. I had to start a little earlier, because I was preparing breakfast for folks at St. Boniface Parish, following 10:30 am Mass, having done the same for St. Mary folks last week; I had some stuff to bring from one parish to the other, and I had meant to do it before this morning, but there it is.

> The stuff needed for breakfast sat in my car during Mass, then after 7 am Mass I took it into the cafeteria, and did some prep work for breakfast later: got out post and filled them with water (for cooking the scrambled eggs: you can get eggs, yes, real eggs, frozen, in bags, which you boil; the eggs scramble nicely, and then you serve them), and the trays for the sausages to bake, and the coffee pot, and some other items. I'd also picked up donuts on the way to Mass, which I now put out. A parishioner who was helping would start cooking the eggs around 10 am, then I'd be back around 10:15, after the 9 am Mass, to get the rest ready.

> Off to 9 am Mass, with a stop at Tim Hortons for a cup of coffee and some donuts. (FYI--while the priest is obliged to keep the fast, same as you, he is not obliged to keep the fast between Masses; I find if I don't eat something at this point, I sometimes get lightheaded.)

> 9 am Mass at St. Mary was "high": lots of incense and chant, including the Eucharistic Prayer (Roman of course). A little side-note and benefit related to chanting at Mass. Some folks don't like it, think it's excessive. This Mass often has little children who, naturally, will cry or wail; and for whatever reason, not all parents can always silence them, or choose to take them out. And let's be candid--some of us might be able to tune it out, but no one finds a wailing baby edifying. Such was the case today: not one, but two, just as we were singing the "Sanctus." Well, as I began chanting the Roman Canon, the babies quieted down and all was silent during the prayer. Any opinions or observations on this point?

> Right after Mass, I visited with some folks; a couple wanted to talk to me about marking their 60th Anniversary at a Mass in February, and we made tentative plans.

> Had to run back over to St. Boniface to get things ready for breakfast, starting around 11:30 am (after 10:30 am Mass); my helper had started the eggs and coffee, I sent him to Mass, and I took care of the sausages and the rest of the prep work. A parishioner came by to help, and all went smooth.

> Folks started showing up around 11:20, folks who'd been at one of the other Mases; we had about 120 folks in total, and the only negative was not enough donuts and juice, but plenty of sausage and eggs. We had to make another pot of coffee, but folks stayed around a bit to help drink it. This is the secondary reason I started these breakfast--i.e., to build community; first was as my Christmas gift to the people of the parishes.

> Around Noon, the last few folks were leaving, and my various helpers assisted me with cleanup and putthing things back. It was around 1 pm when all was put back in good order. We had some eggs left over, still in the bag, which I sent home with one of my helpers who has a family. I took some back with me as well.

> Arriving back at St. Mary, I saw the retired priest's car still in the parking lot, meaning he was still in church; so I stopped in, laden down with my bags of eggs! I know, why didn't I take them into my kitchen first? I didn't want to miss him, I wanted to see if he needed any help, and I had some good news to share. (Sorry, I"m not telling you before I tell the parishes, but it concerns some end-of-year giving.) Turns out Father was talking and praying with someone, so I waited for him. Eventually, he finished up, and we chatted a bit.

> I got back home around 2 pm, and sat down to write this post and the last one.

Epiphany homily

My homily today was as follows (from memory, I did not have written notes):

> What does 'Epiphany' mean? It means manifestation, making-known, moment of understanding--that's how we use the term: to have an "aha" moment where everything comes together.

> Why does the Church have this feast? (Pointing to the creche) Last week you saw the shepherds here; now the kings are here; the Lord was born, and only Mary, Joseph and the shepherds were witnesses. This week, we celebrate the arrival of the Magi--who were not Jewish; this is the feast of the Nations coming to worship.

> This fulfills what we heard about in the Scriptures. The Jewish people had a good thing going: they had a relationship with the one, true God, while the rest of the world worshipped idols of wood and stone. The prophets said, one day all the world would come to know God; as we sang in the psalm: "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you." It was a prophecy, but also a challenge: God's people had a task to share their faith. When the Magi arrived, it was the beginning of what would happen: the nations would come to know Jesus.

> Most of us are not Jewish; we are from "the nations" who were given the Faith. My ancestors were German, running around the Black Forest, worshipping oak trees, until St. Boniface came and brought Christ to them; the same for all of us.

> Today, around the circuit of the earth, the Mass will be celebrated at every hour, in every language and culture; what the psalm said has come true: "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you."

> But still many people do not know the Lord; so the task God's People had from the prophets, is still ours: to share our Faith. In the coming year, this is our task, to share the treasure of our faith with our community. We have a lot to share! We have faith, we have mercy and reconciliation, we have Life in Christ! We have the Eucharist! As we share our Faith, our treasure, with this community where God has planted us, we will see more people come to know the Lord; we will help bring about what the Scripture said: "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you."