NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

NO CRYING AT MY FUNERAL

Monday, August 3, 2015

BLOOD MOON, BLUE MOON, GREEN CHEESE MOON

Love that predictable stuff!  Don't you?
Not as rare as 4 blood moons in 30 mos.!
But, very predictable
Now this one I like.  Nobody, but nobody, altar boy, censer bearer, Gospel Reader, bell ringer, bishop, priest, deacon, pope, patriarch, visionary, you name it/him/her, no one is ever going to be able to nail this next one down.
When this happens, good luck and God bless you all.
I am presenting my thoughts on the Bible based"prophecies" concerning natural phenomena that are making the rounds these days.  The one that is making the most impact at this time is the one making a big issue of the "Blood Moon" scheduled for September 28, 2015.  This is because it will be the fourth in a series of lunar eclipses occurring at intervals of about six months.  The present tetrad will present its final "Blood Moon" on September 28, 2015.
  
There are those who think that this tetrad is of special significance because all four of the blood moons are coinciding with significant Jewish holidays.  The prophecies that are being proposed all come from self-identifying Christians, not Jews.  They are all warnings of calamitous changes in the course of Israelite history.  The prophecies are all fashioned from specifically chosen Bible verses and are of course aimed at preparing people, Christians and Jews alike, to turn to Jesus in order to be in line for whatever will happen, up to and including the Rapture.

I do not think, and I do not believe that these astronomical phenomena have any religious significance whatsoever.  Not for Jews, not for Christians, not for Bhuddists, nor Taoists, not for Muslims, nor anybody else for that matter.  These are nothing but ongoing, very predictable actions according to the laws of nature. It is but natural and very predictable that some of these galactic events will coincide with religious commemorations that are based on the lunar cycles to begin with. There is absolutely no extra-natural (supernatural) significance to these recurring and predictable phenomena.  None.  There is no human nor divine reason to inflate the meaning of the coincidence between the date of a predictable astronomical (astrological?) event and the date of the coinciding religious high day to a level that reaches prophecy.

In addition, I do not believe in the interpretation of the meaning of Scripture as presented to me by those who tell me on the one hand that Sacred Scripture is all I need to come to know the plan of God but then try to convince me that they have the right to impose their interpretation of Sacred Scripture on me based on a predictable astronomical event that they say has a reference in the Bible.  No, thank you. 

Furthermore, I have a deep and abiding faith in the Universal Unity of God's management capability over the entire world.  I do not believe that God sends signs to Jews and Christians to the exclusion or marginalization of the rest of the human occupants of the planet.  God created us all.  God keeps us all alive.  When He decides to end the world, He will give us signs so terrible that no one will have any doubt about what is coming.  No one.

Deeper yet, I say that I trust in faith that God, the creator of the laws of nature doesn't play games with them.  He doesn't make them say one thing to me and another to you.  He doesn't make them behave one way on Jewish High Days and another way on Catholic and Orthodox high days.  He also doesn't play games with the Muslims and their high days, such as Ramadan. No, I don't think that God really gives a hoot about our mutiple calendars.  I believe that we are one with God and that He sees that we all have our good times and our bad ones.  He knows the righteous and He knows the sinner and He deals with each according to His will.  When the Hour comes when He will deal with us all, we will not need any "prophet" to tell us what is coming...It will be unmistakable...It will be the night of the Green Cheese Moon.

I will surely die before then.  You all now know that you surely will not cry at my funeral.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I TREASURE YOU IN MY HEART, OH MY GOD

The other day, the priest who was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass made a very powerful statement during his homily.  He warned us to be careful what we keep stored up in our hearts.  He said that if we are not watchful about what we have there, we could act in such a way that someone could be seriously hurt by a reflex action coming from our heart.  He warned us to work at storing only good things there so that our response from the heart would always be lovingly caring.
At the time that I heard this, I was moved and I wondered where he had encountered this piece of advice because it was not contained in any of the readings for that day.  To this day, I pray that if he had suffered an accident over which he was repenting, that his public confession would be recognized by God who would cleanse him and provide him with the courage to reconcile with the offended soul.
Furthermore, I have been thinking about this and asking myself why it was that I was so deeply moved by the warning.  I am becoming surer and surer that it is because I myself, like so many of us, I am sure, am not really totally pure in what it is that I treasure in my heart.  I know for a fact that it is not always loving kindness that leaps out of my heart during relationships with God's beloved people.  I was sitting there in church, happy and self satisfied that I had got out of bed in time to make it to Mass.  Then, the dynamic youthful pastor, shepherd of my soul, dug in, shook me and reminded me that I still have a long way to go.
The amazing thing about this warning is that it should not be new to me.  I know what Luke says about our Mother Mary, about how she kept loving things in her heart...
Besides the famous quote from psalm 119, 14, we have more places in the Sacred Scriptures where we are enjoined to keep our hearts clean so that what comes our of our mouth will always be holy.  For instance, Matthew quotes Jesus, "You brood of vipers, how can you say good things when you are evil? For from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
A good person brings forth good out of a store of goodness, but an evil person brings forth evil out of a store of evil. (Chapter 12, verses 34 and 35)
Matthew has more to say about this in chapter 15 as well.  There is a lot to think about when we ponder about what to store in our hearts.  Let's all join together and work at making sure that what is stored within us is nothing but LOVE.

Peace to you all.


Friday, May 22, 2015

THEY ARE FILLED WITH NEW WINE -- ILS SONT PLEINS DE VIN DOUX -- ESTÁN BORRACHOS



“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
8 Then how does each of us hear them in his own native     language?
9 We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants       of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and     Asia,
10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of          Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome,
11 both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and            Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own                  tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
12 They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to      one another, “What does this mean?”
13 But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much        new wine.”          [Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2]







Doesn't this sound familiar?  Of course it does.  We hear it every single day.  Let me start by one I've heard a lot, and still do, "Short man's syndrome cocky every step of the way!"  
"He's gotta be high on somethin'."
"If her brother weren't a cop she'd be in the 'big house.'"
"He's from the hills, he's got nothing to tell me."

The attitude of the people listening to the apostles wasn't new then and isn't new now. There is alway a possible denigration to anything that is said or created.  "I could'a been a doctor if I really wanted to."

We all suffer from this attitude to one degree or another. We practice it as a reflex action.  It is our way of asserting ourselves as being better that the other person.  The apostles were received with the same attitude that Jesus fought in the synagogue in His home town of Nazareth. No one said that He was drunk, but they sure put him down because He was just the carpenter's son.  It happened to him early in His public life and it happened early in the ministerial lives of the apostles. 

The Holy Spirit give us courage, zeal and wisdom because we need it.  The Holy Spirit is not a shield.  The Holy Spirit is a fire, a light, the wind in our sails.  Where are we sent to shine the light, to light the fire and to direct the ship?  Into the dark storm of reality.  That is what we learn on Pentecost Sunday.  We learn that Jesus knew exactly what He was saying when He told us, "Take up your cross daily and follow me."  (Luke 9:23)  We all know where that leads, to Calvary, to the Grave and to the Pearly Gates.



"Ces hommes qui parlent, ne sont-ils pas tous Galiléens?  8 Comment se fait-il alors que chacun de nous les entende dans son propre idiome maternel?  9 Parthes, Mèdes et Elamites, habitants de Mésopotamie, de Judée et de Cappadoce, du Pont et d'Asie,  10 de Phrygie et de Pamphylie, d'Egypte et de cette partie de la Libye qui est proche de Cyrène, Romains en résidence, 11 tant Juifs que prosélytes, Crétois et Arabes, nous les entendons publier dans notre langue les merveilles de Dieu!" 12 Tous étaient stupéfaits et se disaient, perplexes, l'un à l'autre: "Que peut bien être cela?" 
13 D'autres encore disaient en se moquant: "Ils sont pleins de vin doux!"


Ceci ne vous semble pas familier?  Bien sûr que vous l'avez reconnu!  Nous l'entendons chaque jour.  Permettez-moi de commencer avec ce que j'ai déjà entendu beaucoup, et que j'entends encore,
"le syndrome de l'homme court se voit a chaque pas de son chemin!" 
"Il est surement enivré de quelque chose."
"Si son frère n'était pas un flic, elle serait dans une chambre de la « grande maison »."
«Il est rien qu'un montagnard, il n'a rien à me dire."
L'attitude des gens qui écoutent les apôtres n'était pas nouvelle a cette occasion et ne l'est donc pas jusqu’à maintenant. Il est toujours possible de dénigrer tout ce qui est dit ou créé.  «J'aurais pu être médecin si je l'aurais vraiment voulu."
Nous souffrons tous de cette attitude à un degré ou un autre. Nous la pratiquons comme un acte réflexe.  C'est notre façon de nous affirmer comme étant meilleur que l'autre personne.  Les apôtres ont été reçus avec la même attitude que Jésus encontra dans la synagogue de sa ville natale de Nazareth. Personne n'a dit qu'il était saoul, mais ils l'ont insulte parce qu'il n'était personne autre que le fils du charpentier.  Ce qui lui est arrivé au début de sa vie publique, est arrivé au début de la vie ministérielle des apôtres.

Le Saint-Esprit nous donne le courage, le zèle et la sagesse, car nous en avons besoin.  Le Saint-Esprit n'est pas un bouclier.  Le Saint-Esprit est un feu, une lumière, le vent dans les voiles.  Où sommes-nous envoyés pour faire briller la lumière, pour allumer le feu et pour diriger le navire?  Dans la noirceur de la tempête de la réalité.  Voilà ce que nous apprend le dimanche de la Pentecôte.  Nous apprenons que Jésus savait exactement ce qu'il disait quand il nous dit: «Porte ta croix quotidiennement et suis moi."  (Luc 9:23) Nous savons tous où cela mène, au Calvaire, à la tombe et aux Portail Doré de la Jérusalem éternelle.


7 y se decían, llenos de estupor y admiración: «Pero éstos ¿no son todos galileos? ¡Y miren cómo hablan! 8 Cada uno de nosotros les oímos en nuestra propia lengua nativa. 9 Entre nosotros hay partos, medos y elamitas, habitantes de Mesopotamia, Judea, Capadocia, del Ponto y Asia, 10 de Frigia, Panfilia, Egipto y de la parte de Libia que limita con Cirene. Hay forasteros que vienen de Roma, unos judíos y otros extranjeros, que aceptaron sus creencias, 11 cretenses y árabes. Y todos les oímos hablar en nuestras propias lenguas las maravillas de Dios.»

12 Todos estaban asombrados y perplejos, y se preguntaban unos a otros qué querría significar todo aquello. Referencias versículo 1313 Pero algunos se reían y decían: «¡Están borrachos!»

¿Esto no suena familiar? Por supuesto que sí. Escuchamos algo parecido todos los días. Permítanme empezar por uno que he escuchado mucho, y todavía lo dicen, "síndrome del Hombre Corto engreído en cada paso del camino!"
"Tiene que ser alto en algo."
"Si su hermano no era un agente de la policía,  estaría en la 'casa grande'".
"Él es del rancho, que no tiene nada que decirme."

La actitud de la gente que escuchaba a los apóstoles no era nueva entonces y no es nuevo ahora. No todos los días una posible denigración a todo lo que se dice o creado. "Yo podria aver sido un médico si yo realmente quería."
Todos sufrimos de esta actitud en un grado u otro. La practicamos como un acto reflejo. Es nuestra manera de afirmar a nosotros mismos como siendo mejor que la otra persona. En la antiquidad se recibieron los apóstoles con la misma actitud que Jesús luchó en la sinagoga de su ciudad natal de Nazaret. Nadie dijo que él estaba borracho, pero seguro que lo dejó porque él era el hijo del carpintero. Se le sucedió temprano en su vida pública y ocurrió temprano en la vida ministerial de los apóstoles.

El Espíritu Santo nos da coraje, celo y sabiduría porque lo necesitamos. El Espíritu Santo no es un escudo. El Espíritu Santo es un fuego, una luz, el viento en nuestras velas. ¿Dónde estamos enviamos a brillar la luz, a la luz los abetos y para dirigir la nave? En la tormenta oscura de la realidad. Eso es lo que aprendemos el domingo de Pentecostés. Nos enteramos de que Jesús sabía exactamente lo que estaba diciendo cuando Él nos dijo: "Toma tu cruz cada día y sígame." (Lucas 09:23) Todos sabemos dónde lleva eso, al Calvario, a la tumba y las puertas del cielo.







Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CHURCH IN ONE HAND, JESUS IN THE OTHER, THE WAY TO HEAVEN

R.C. PRIEST - HERE TODAY
GONE TOMORROW
SEE YOU IN HEAVEN

There comes a time in every Catholic diocese during the course of every year when the faithful congregants struggle with the meaning of the changing of the guard, so to speak.  

The world of the Catholic Church is one that is focused on the end times, the final judgment, the moment of truth, the hour of death, the arrival of the Bridegroom, the meeting of our Creator/Father.  There are many elements of Catholic life that prepare us for the moment when we leave the temporal dimension and enter into dimensionless eternity.  One such element of this preparation is the call and the promise to continuity and unity of purpose in the life of the Church.  It is the factual, flint hard, day to day renewal of our Faith in the presence of God in every facet of our lives.  Besides the call to stay faithful to our families, to our jobs, to our country, to our own personal relationship with our friends and neighbors and finally to God through His Church.  Yes, all of these commitments require dedicated perseverance.  They require that we keep our hearts, souls and minds focused on the final reality, the rest of eternity in the presence of God.

We are brought up in the faith that says that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic (Universal) and Apostolic.  The greatest of these is its Unity.  It is one through time, one in mind, heart and soul every day and everywhere.  It is in its Unity, Holiness, Catholicity and  Apostolicity that Jesus could promise that the gates of Hell would never prevail against it.  We know that this is true because every day we get the opportunity to talk to someone clear across the world who has been to Mass in the morning; we say "God be with you" as we part company with an acquaintance; we get a telephone call from our Presbyterian friend asking for Catholic prayers before submitting himself to surgery; we travel anywhere on the continent and go to Mass in any language and we can relate; we travel anywhere and we know that there will be a daily Mass somewhere in which we can participate either to begin or end our day; we also know that at that Mass there will be warm hearted brethren willing to spend a joyful moment with us.  The priest may even be one of those who approaches us lovingly. Yes, the priest.  Ah, the priest.

Where does he come from?  How long has he been here?  For how long will he be here?  Is he the pastor?  Maybe one of the vicars?  Maybe from across town?  Maybe even traveling like us and just happens to be here for a couple of days?  Oh, he's from Africa!  We take that for granted these days.  We don't give it a second thought but in these two paragraphs we are living moments of preparation for eternity with the One, Unchanging Creator Father.  Eternity will be dimensionless, remember.  No time.  No coming and going.  Just constant measureless, wonderfully awesome love of God.  Our life in the Church prepares us for that.

We don't go to participate in the Mass because Father Mack is the celebrant.  We don't go to Mass at the cross-town church for the sake of the cross-town church.
We don't go to Mass where there are cushioned kneelers and pews for our comfort.  We don't have to worry about which priest will be celebrating the sacrament of Baptism next Sunday.  We don't worry about which priest is going to come to our death bed.  We know that if we are in our own country or a country far away, when we are there we are also in church, prayers and sacraments, tabernacles and sanctuary lights, pictures (icons) and statues, tabernacles and Stations of the Cross as well as incense and holy water.  It doesn't matter whether it is Bethlehem in Palestine or Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, it's all the same.

Finally, and to the point of all this, when the jolly merry-go-round of clergy changes happens every year, one priest leaves and one comes in behind him.  The Church doesn't move, they do.  You and I move too, but the Church doesn't move, we do.The Church is our heaven here below. It doesn't change.  The Church is the beginning of Heaven.  The Church is the bride of Jesus.  We hold Her hand and side by side with Her we hold His hand along the Way to heaven.  On the way to heaven we have to have the Church in one hand and Jesus in the other.  The occasional do-si-do of the clergy is nothing but the confirmation that the Church remains the Church and the rest is God's plan of using his human creatures as His collaborators along the way to Eternity.

We find the foundation of our faith in the Church in the mystery of Pentecost.  Jesus promised us the Advocate, the Counselor, the Comforter, the fire carrier who infuses our hearts and souls with the zeal for God's house.  The Holy Spirit showed the disciples the way of courage, penance, prayer and zeal.  We are in that same boat. The Ark that did not sink; the boat where the apostles were sleeping did not sink; the boat that we are in will not sink per the promise mentioned above.  This is a journey in a boat that leads to the Eternal Harbor of boundless, dimensionless love.  We know that because even in our short lives we see it weather so many storms.  Our contribution as faithful members of the Church is to keep our hearts and souls locked in to the eternal Light that never wavers because it is not human.  That is what the Church teaches us by its very existence.  

I firmly believe that and because I do, I am telling you, never cry at the transfer of the clergy because we don't own them, and do not even get tempted to cry at my funeral.

Amen.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT OH LORD

I have written many times about the experience of death in this space.  There has been quite a procession of saints that has passed before our eyes.  Some young people and some older people.  Some who died quickly and some who took a while to get it done.  There were some who died from violent causes and some who slipped into the night quietly.  There are some with who I exchanged pleasantries as we bade one another goodbye.  Each time it has been a learning experience in love.

I can't tell you how many times I have been the witness to death because they are too numerous for my aged memory to capture in a moment like this .  There have been those with whom I had good times and there have been those with whom I did not. That did not take the love out of the death experience.  Death is that moment when the gift of life becomes the gift of love because it is the gift of no return that has no boundaries.  It is the gift that defines the life of the deceased and in that definition we all participate in a moment of defining ourselves.  This is true even if we were not very close to the individual, in whatever way you want to define "close."
It is inevitable, that in the moment of death there is a lot going on right there on the threshold of eternity.  It's one of the most profound experiences of human learning with which we are blessed.

All that being said, today we said goodbye to Catalina Sotelo.  This simple, humble, hard working, loving, caring, dedicated person who was warm to everyone with whom she dealt.  She defied my 50/50 rule, I dare say.  My 50/50 rule states "At your funeral 50% of those present will be there mourning and 50% will be there to make sure that it's true."  I know, deep down in my heart that the nearly 500 people in church this morning were closer to 90/10, with only about 10% attending just to check it out.  No, Catalina filled the church because of her great love for people.

When someone fills the church even though they died at only 46 years old, you know that they did something right.  You know that God is showing us that this person had done what had to be done for Him.  It's a witness to a life well led and a faith-life shared with those in communion with you.  

As we pray for the eternal repose of her soul, let us also remember to thank God for the life that He gave her to share with us.  We enjoyed her help while she was warm and vibrant by our side.  Let us enjoy her vibrant spirit across the dimension of the spiritual existence and the physical existence.  

Into you hands, we commend our spirit Oh Lord!

Finally, don't forget that my 50/50 rule, part B is, "No Crying at MY Funeral."