23 Jun

Gospel June 23, 2019

In the First Reading, from the Book of Genesis, we have a story about Melchizedek, King of Salem (early name for Jerusalem) who comes to greet Abram by returning from a victorious battle. Melchizedek, who is also a priest, blesses Abram with bread and wine. The bread and wine are taken to prefigure the bread and wine of the Eucharistic sacrifice that celebrate Jesus’ victory over death, evil and sin, and enable us to remember our union with Jesus.

The Second Reading is taken from St. Paul's First letter to the Corinthians. This is the most ancient text we have on the origin of the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ. Since Paul was not present at the Last Supper, he is passing on what he himself received. Jesus gave us the Eucharist and the command to continue the practice of participating in the Eucharist to nourish our souls and spirit, but also to give our bodies in loving service and example just as Jesus did. This is what "Do this in remembrance of me" means.

The Gospel Reading is from the Gospel of St. Luke. This is the only miracle story recorded in all four Gospels. Jesus is out in the desert with a large crowd of people, teaching them about the reign of God and healing their sick. Jesus is feeding the multitude with a few loaves of bread and a few fish with more than enough for everyone and much left over. It is a prelude to His institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. “All are satisfied” and there are 12 baskets left over. “Give them something to eat yourselves” is a challenge to the Church to feed the physical and soul-hungers of people.

23 Jun

Whoever sees me has seen the Father

In a previous issue I talked about a spiritual relationship between obedience, poverty, and chastity, and faith, hope, and love.  

In this issue I want to say more on this pairing, to provide food for fruitful meditation throughout the week. This might sound like a broken record, but actually it's the heart of the matter; it's the firm foundation, Jesus Christ revealed to us what it means to be human, and that is to love. Our Blessed Lord taught the teaching of Torah, treat one another as you want to be treated. The greatest way we can treat people and ourselves is with love. Good, but what about our relationship with God?  

16 Jun

Feast of the Holy Trinity

Human intelligence needs God's help to apprehend the inner reality of God.  Certainly, human reason can employ natural analysis to some extent to describe God in terms of causality and motion and goodness.  Saint Anselm, who models the universality of Christendom by being both an Italian and an Archbishop of Canterbury, said that "God is that, than which nothing greater can be conceived."

A house is a house because it houses.  But what is in the house is known only by entering it.  Since creatures cannot enter the Creator, he makes himself known by coming into his creation.  "No one has seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him" (John 1:18).

Had we invented the Trinitarian formula, it would be only a notion instead of a fact.  There are just three choices: to acknowledge what God himself has declared, to deny it completely, or to change it to what makes sense without God's help.  That is why most heresies are rooted in mistakes about the Three in One and One in Three.

Unitarianism, for example, is based on a Socinian heresy.  Mormonism is an exotic version of the Arian heresy.  Islam has its roots in the Nestorian heresy.  All three reject the Incarnation and the Trinity but selectively adopt other elements of Christianity.  Like Hilaire Belloc in modern times, Dante portrayed Mohammed not as a founder of a religion but simply as a hugely persuasive heretic, albeit persuading most of the time with a sword rather than dialectic.  These religions, however, are not categorically Christian heresies since "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith . . ."  (Catechism, 2089).  Only someone who has been baptized can be an actual heretic.

Cultures are shaped by cult: that is, the way people live depends on what they worship or refuse to worship.  A culture that is hostile to the Holy Trinity spins out of control.  In 1919, William Butler Yeats looked on the mess of his world after the Great War:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . .

That is the chaotic decay of human creatures ignorant of their Triune God.  "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."  But to worship the "Holy, Holy, Holy" God as the center and source of reality is to confound anarchy: "For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible . . . He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17).

16 Jun

Feast of the Holy Trinity

Father James attempts to explain the Holy Trinity to a group of kindergartners. The Trinity doesn't get any easier to comprehend with age, kids!

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 16, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

"I will give you what is mine and declare it to you" (John 16:15).  Growing up, my parents used to refer to possessions in the first person plural: our house, our backyard, our car.  It impressed me because my siblings and I did nothing to earn these things.  We were not entitled to them. But that is how generous my parents were.  They took what was rightfully theirs and declared it to us.  I'm sure many of you parents do the same.  What love, what generosity!

We celebrate the Holy Trinity today which affirms for us, among other things, God's generosity and love.  The fact that God is relational from all eternity tells us that God is not alone.  If God was one and not three, he would be alone, which means he would need to create the world for relationship.  This means he would need our love, our worship, our holiness; and if he needed it, he would be angry if he didn't receive it.  But the Trinity tells us God is perfect in himself.  He is totally dependent and not in need of us.  He created us to allow us to share in the beauty and love that God is.  What God has, he declared to us.  That is what the Trinity tells us. 

16 Jun

Morse and Marconi

The first electric communication ever dispatched read, "What Hath God Wrought."  It was tapped out by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844.  He was sitting amidst an audience in the United States Supreme Court building.  The message was delivered within moments to Baltimore. 

Morse obtained the passage from Numbers 23:23. The Scriptural context is the story of Balaam, a pagan prophet sent to curse the Israelites. When Balaam sees the people he is so impressed he instead blesses them.  He prophesies that this people will not die out but will spring up like a lion and people will say of them, "Behold, what hath God wrought!"

Morse, the inventor of the single-wire telegraph system, had seen the transformation of the United States in the first half of the 19th Century, arguably the greatest period of growth and progress in our nation's history.  The US expanded from shore to shore and had revolutions on a communications, market, transportation, and religious level, all of which inaugurated new systems that are, in many ways, still in place in our nation.  Morse saw God at work, and the leading figures of the country in the chambers of the Supreme Court that day would not have disagreed. Communications technology led to the cohesion of the expansive land.  Yes, the Civil War would shortly ensue, but the outcome of that war addressed our core wound (slavery) and eventually united the nation further.  God was at work not just in America, but in technology.

A century later, Guglielmo Marconi, the Novel Prize winner and inventor of mobile devices, echoed Morse's sentiments when he said, "I declare with pride that I am a believer. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in it not only as a believing Catholic but as a scientist."

16 Jun

Gospel June 16, 2019


Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of The Most Holy Trinity, we honor all three Persons of God. 

In the First Reading from the Book of Proverbs we hear of the creation of all things by the Father. Wisdom, who is usually considered to be the Holy Spirit, is there with the Father.  

The saving work of Jesus is a major theme in the Second Reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. We are saved by grace. We do not earn it. Rather, by opening our hearts to Jesus in faith, we “gain access” to God who is our peace, hope and end. Because of our relationship with God, we can endure afflictions with the help of the Holy Spirit who is the love of God poured out into our hearts. 

16 Jun

May Our Sins Be Wiped Away

 
“Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.”


This is another secret prayer of the deacon. The term, "secret prayer,” refers to how the prayer is said quietly, as if it was hidden; it does not mean no one else can know them apart from the deacon. 

The beauty of the secret prayers is that they add a dimension of mystery to the liturgy. The liturgy is the foretaste of heaven. A lot of the symbolism found in the Mass is found in the Book of Revelations. Heaven, in a very short explanation, is unveiled intimacy with the Trinity. As St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul remind us, we will see Him face-to-face. 

09 Jun

Holy Spirit, Giver Of Life

Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 9, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

In the Nicene Creed at Mass, we say the following:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son,

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

 The giver of life.  What a great sobriquet of the Holy Spirit! 

09 Jun

Just a Drop of Holy Water

 
You see at Mass the deacon pouring the wine into all of the chalices. At one point, the deacon pours a drop of water into the priest’s chalice. As he does this, the deacon prays silently these words: 
 
"By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity."

The prayer over the preparation of the chalice anticipates what is to be received when we come to Mass, the divine life of Christ as it is spoken to us and given to us as spiritual food. The last portion of the prayer touches upon one of the greatest teachings from the early Church Fathers, known as the Marvelous Exchange. Jesus became Man, so that we may participate in His Divinity. The early church Fathers used the term, divinization, to articulate the mystery of how God pours His life into our souls.