01 Mar

In Our Suffering We Are Never Alone

There are two portraits fascinating to compare.  The first is Ecce Homo by Philippe de Champaigne.  It is also titled, "Christ Mocked," and, of course, is a depiction of the scene when our Lord is clothed in scarlet and given a reed and crown of thorns by the Roman soldiers.  The second painting is Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 31 March 1814 by Paul Delaroche, depicting the emperor after his first abdication following the surrender of Paris to the Allies.

Both figures appear to be at their low-points.  (Napoleon looks like me after a Bears game.) But there is a profound difference between the two.  Napoleon is alone.  Christ is not. 

01 Mar

Gospel March 01, 2020

 

 

The First Reading, taken from the Book of Genesis describes the “Original Temptation” – “You will be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil.” Adam and Eve were given the possibility of making a choice to live for God, dependent upon and obedient to His will, or to say no to God. The temptation to evil led Adam and Eve to an act of faithlessness and sin. In this case they did not love God enough to be faithful. That is what sin is!

23 Feb

You Are the Temple of God

Back by popular demand! Fr. James with his niece Addy (2) and nephew Sebbie (3)

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 23, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Paul's letter is pure gold.  First, he gives the monumental line: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

This is key for the spiritual life.  This reality—that we are temples—is the foundation for all prayer. 

I'm big into prayer, as you know.  To me, it's the center of a priest's life.  If a priest isn't praying, his life is meaningless.  It's a train wreck.  Why?  Because prayer is relationship with God.  Think of being married and never communicating with your spouse.  Your life would be a contradiction.  Same with a priest.

23 Feb

Conscience is a Gift - Vox Dei

The conscience is connected with the Vox Dei, the voice of God, within us all. Victor Hugo recognizes this connection in his great novel, Les Miserables. St. John Henry Newman wrote essays on this wonderful truth of our being. Conscience is a gift. It directs our Will to what is truly good, beautiful, true, lovely and excellent for our flourishing. We know all too well, however, from our lives that we can have some serious wrestling matches with our conscience. This too is part of the human experience: our inner deliberations over what is good and what is evil.

23 Feb

A.R.R.R.

Anyone who has been in a position of authority—parent, manager, pastor—can relate to Saint Peter in this 17th Century painting from the School of Rubens.  The Fisherman, grasping firmly but gently the keys given to him by Christ, looks upward to God.  He is not 'white-knuckling' the keys, nor is he loosely holding them, about to let them slip out of his hands.   They are part of his identity. 

Peter's countenance entails anguish and pain.  But there is also hope and trust in his eyes.  He desires relief; relief not for himself, but for his flock.  He knows this relief will come, even if it is on the other side of eternity.

23 Feb

Gospel February 23, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of Leviticus. In this brief passage, the writer reminds his fellow Israelites of their call to live a holy life. This is the command given to us by God through Moses: “Be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy.” A life of holiness is manifested through acts of love, mercy and kindness, particularly towards those who have hurt us. It also shows us the way to share in God’s holiness: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

16 Feb

New Tabernacle, New Location

A New and Relocated Tabernacle for the Church

Friends,

I would like to propose for the parish obtaining a new tabernacle and relocating it to the center of the church, behind the altar and recessed into the wall.

First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The tabernacle is to be situated ‘in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.’ The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar” (CCC 1183).  

16 Feb

We Always Have A Choice

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 16, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

All the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together with the Cardinal a couple weeks ago for an all-day seminar.  We do this about three times a year.  In the afternoon we heard a talk on forming good habits, and the speaker mentioned "mindfulness training." Basically, if you can pause mentally when you are in the midst of a certain habit (smoking, eating, compulsively checking your texts, etc.), be mindful of what you are feeling and experiencing (something that is actually not that satisfying), you'll begin the neural re-networking process to break the bad habit.

16 Feb

Gospel February 16, 2020

The First Reading comes from the Book of Sirach. In today’s verses, Sirach instructs the people of Israel to trust in God and keep his commandments, for they will be saved by doing so. Before man are life and death, good and evil, Sirach says, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Our salvation, and life itself, are certainly blessings from God. Choosing to follow the ways of the Lord leads to these blessings. In other words, obedience to God’s law as the road that leads to life, and rejection of his commandments as the way that leads to death.

16 Feb

So that He may continue to walk with His people...

After years of going to Mass, learning to actually say Mass presents it in a completely new way. It is indeed familiar, but it carries a whole different weight to it. It is a good and holy weight. In Hebrew, the word for “weight” or “heaviness” is kavod; it is also used to describe, “the Glory of God.” Think of a rich dessert, after one bite you say, "woah, that is too rich for me."