28 Jul

Jesus Christ, My Super Hero

It is fascinating to watch these superhero movies. They depict heroes that take on a greater power than they themselves possess. Take Iron Man for example, Tony Stark is an immensely successful businessman, all around cool guy and an ingenious scientist. Tony Stark we might say is the pinnacle of achievement, who wouldn't want to be Tony Stark? Yet, when it comes to saving the world, his success is not enough. Tony Stark becomes Iron Man, because of a tragic incident that nearly took his life. After surviving it, he goes on to become this new hero.

21 Jul

Contemplative prayer

Father James with his five friends from seminary: Fr. Pat (Mobile). Fr. Adam (Kansas City), Fr. Victor (Mobile), Fr. Alex (Scranton), Fr. Anthony (Harrisburg).

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 21, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

A wise person once told me that true love doesn't consist in saying 'I love you'.  Think about when you're with your spouse, or your brother or sister, or your best friend.  When you're watching TV together, or fishing together, or having dinner, you may be sitting in silence, but love is being expressed.  Love is a reception of the other person's presence.  That is the ultimate goal for prayer.  That is what we call contemplation, and that's the point I want to make from the Martha-Mary Gospel.

21 Jul

God is a Fan of Us

Fans, a few years back, voted as the most memorable moment in Major League Baseball history Cal Ripken Jr. on September 6, 1995 breaking Lou Gehrig's streak with his 2,131st consecutive game played.  In the age of SportsCenter where the only highlights seem to be of the mammoth home run or a winning play from Game 7, this vote is a fascinating one indeed.  Fans appreciated endurance more than entertainment.

Forgive me for the trite connection, but God is a fan of us.  If he were to vote for the most memorable moment(s) in our spiritual life, I bet it would be us going to Mass week in and week out.  Whether we were busy or feeling ready, we went.  And we may have had a great experience during Mass or we may have fallen asleep, just like Ripken had great and horrible games during the streak.  But, like the Iron Man, we returned next Sunday.  God appreciates our commitment to him more than the results.  Commitment, achieved through the will, is a reflection of love.  The beauty of the spiritual life is that love for God need not be flashy.  In fact, it can be rather dull.  Commitment to the ordinary is extraordinary.

Fans, perhaps subconsciously, acknowledged Ripken's willpower because they were awed by his genuine love for a game.  I cannot think of a better occasion to make a memorable moment, an act of profound love, than routinely attending Mass in Ordinary Time.  I hope our streak never ends.

21 Jul

Gospel July 21, 2019

On this sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary time, the first reading comes from the Book of Genesis. The Yahwistic author mentioned Abraham addressed “three men,” as one person, “Sir.” Abraham offered his visitors the best of his household. The quality of his hospitality was rewarded with the annunciation of Isaac’s birth. The divine visitation to Abraham portrays a God who fulfills the promise that Abraham will be the father of a multitude. Abraham’s welcoming faith had been rewarded with an experience of the transcendent God.

21 Jul

Prayer for Purification

What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity

This secret prayer is prayed while purifying the sacred vessels: chalices and ciboria. It is prayed by the priests, deacons, acolyte (shout out to Tom Dombai) or an extraordinary minister of communion.

14 Jul

Preoccupation

Father James with an employee of Wrigley Field after he said Mass for the Chicago Cubs

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 14, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Preoccupation.  That, to me, is one of the themes of the parable of the Good Samaritan from today's Gospel.

The priest passes by the victim because the priest is on his way to the temple to worship. The priest will be delayed and, furthermore, if he comes into contact with a potential non-Jew (remember, the man has been beaten and stripped, so there's no way to identify him as a Jew or Gentile), the priest will be impure and have to go through ritual washings, delaying him even more.  The priest is too preoccupied.  He needs to serve God by getting to the temple.  He passes the beaten man by.

14 Jul

The House of Gold

California has the fifth largest economy in the world, a prosperity that can be traced back to the gold rush of 1848.  Prior to the discovery of golf, California was a barely populated territory annexed by the United States as a result of the Mexican-American War.  Thousands would migrate to the area, towns founded, a transcontinental railroad built, and a new society established.  The influx of the metal aided the dormant American economy and many professions, beyond that of mining, profited.  The admission of California as a state, shortly thereafter, was part of the 1850 Compromise that hastened the Civil War.

All this because of gold.

Gold is the most precious, beautiful, prized, sought after, incorruptible, durable metal there is.  When Solomon built the temple to God in Jerusalem in 953 BC, it was considered the most precious edifice in the world.  We read that "there was nothing in the temple that was not covered with gold" (1 Kings 6:22).  The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus provides this inventory: twenty thousand golden tables, a hundred thousand golden vials, eighty thousand golden dishes and twenty thousand golden censers.  Only was this splendor worthy of God.

It is fitting, thus, that Mary should be called "the House of Gold." She is the most precious, highly sought after, standard-setting, durable person there is, after her son.  Her soul, like gold, is refined, pure, and incorruptible (see the connection to the Assumption).  The way Solomon's temple was filled with gold objects, so is Mary's soul filled with graces.  The way the 49ers sacrificed everything to mine for gold, saints have labored for Mary.  And the way gold led to the transformation of America, so too has Mary, the House of Gold, transformed the Church and countless souls.

 

14 Jul

Gospel July 14, 2019

The First Reading is from the Book of Deuteronomy. This Book was written by a group of faithful Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel in the 9th century BC and means a “second law” that sums up the significance of the Exodus. Moses urges the people to heed the voice of God and to keep God’s commandments with all their heart and soul. After listening and acknowledging the one God, the people are to love the Lord their God with their whole being.

14 Jul

Love and Chastity

We have come to the last pairing of theological virtues with evangelical counsels. Our last coupling is love and chastity. In this exploration our aim has been to understand with greater clarity the evangelical counsels that the Church has practiced for centuries, knowing that the simple practice of these counsels opens our lives and our prayer life to participate even more in the inner Life of God.

07 Jul

Rejoice because your names are written in heaven...

Fathers. Derek, James, Connor, and Tom will be looking to win the priest golf outing this year

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 7, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

"Rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). In baseball, a defining moment is before the game even starts when the manager writes up in the dugout on a piece of paper the starting lineup.  If you're an everyday player, it's not that big of a deal, but if you're a player who plays sometimes, it is significant.  If your name is written on the lineup card, you're focused, you loosen up, pay attention to the pitcher throwing warm-up pitches.  If you're out of the lineup, you relax, pop some more sunflower seeds, and are somewhat disengaged.  There's a difference.