26 May

Easter Hymns, My Favorite

 

Dear Parishioners,

Easter hymns are my favorite.  They are joyful and triumphant.  Here is one not all that common, "That Easter Day with Joy was Bright" (perhaps you can listen online to hear the tune):

That Easter day with joy was bright:

the sun shone out with fairer light

when to their longing eyes restored,

th'apostles saw their risen Lord.

 

His risen flesh with radiance glowed,

his wounded hands and feet he showed;

those scars their solemn witness gave

that Christ was risen from the grave.

 

O Jesus, King of gentleness,

do thou thyself our hearts possess,

that we may give thee all our days

the willing tribute of our praise.

 

O Lord of all, with us abide

in this, our joyful Easter-tide;

from ev'ry weapon death can wield

thine own redeemed forever shield.

19 May

Simply, Love One Another

Dear Parishioners,

George Washington's Farewell Address is considered one of the greatest speeches in American history, second to Lincoln's address at Gettysburg.  It has been analyzed, referenced, and reenacted (the speech is read every year on the US Senate floor on February 22) countless times. 

Washington didn't actually deliver publicly the over-seven thousand word address.  It appeared in the newspapers on September 19, 1776.  The father of the nation indicated he would not seek a third term as President of the United States.  He would instead "retire" to his home in Mount Vernon.  This was truly his desire since the end of the Revolutionary War.  He simply wanted to tend his land.  He truly was a 'Cincinnatus'. 

Washington warns, in the address, against division: geographic, political, international. But he is also positive, attempting to guide the people and leave an American legacy. "The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity," he wrote, "must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local distinctions."

Washington wanted to form an American identity in the people.  They were no longer British colonists.  Nor were they citizens of a particular state, federalists, republicans, farmers, soldiers, whatever.  They were Americans.

We read from the Gospel of John this week part of Christ's 'farewell address.'  It's better than Washington's.  His 'command' to the people (just like Washington 'commanded' the people not to be divisive) was: "love one another" (John 13:34).

12 May

We Survived!

Dear Parishioners,

When I first prayed over the second reading for this Sunday, in preparing for this letter, I had my own revelation.  Of course, this is John's revelation.  He sees a great multitude standing before the Lamb of God, wearing white robes with palms in their hands.  One of the saints leans over to John, during his vision, and explains to John that “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14). 

My vision was that this multitude in the white robes was you all, you faithful Catholics.  No, it wasn't an idea of throwing a toga party.  It was me seeing you all who have survived 'the time of great distress.'

Okay, what's the time of great distress?  Two things.  First, in the Catholic Church. It's been a rough year for the Church, with the scandals and so forth.  You are still coming to Church.  (If anyone thinks Catholicism has been weakened, I hope you saw the Church on Easter Sunday—it was an absolutely packed house.  And, talking with pastors elsewhere, they had similarly full congregations.)  You have persevered in your faith throughout the scandals.  Your robe has been washed white.

05 May

We Must Obey God Rather Than Men

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Peter's transformation is astounding.  He goes from denying Christ during the Passion in the courtyard of the Sanhedrin to proclaiming Christ without fear in that same locale after Pentecost.  That boldness is seen in our first reading from Acts of the Apostles.

Peter and the apostles had been warned not to preach in Jerusalem.  They saw what the Jewish leaders did to Jesus when Jesus did the same thing--they had him crucified.  But Peter is a different man now.  He does not back down, even when threatened.  "We must obey God rather than men," he says.