Friday, July 31, 2009

New Beginnings - Every Reason to Hope

Ad Orientem:
Priest and people together praying
with their hearts and eyes lifted to Christ

Conscious decisions to change things in our lives, major decisions like a change of jobs for instance, are usually or preferably provoked not by necessity (unemployment) but by a) a developmental crisis in the good sense, which brings with it personal growth and the desire to change, or by b) an irresistible opportunity or by c) a combination of the two, neither of which was big enough on its own to have precipitated something that important. I think the third is probably the option which best describes my present decision (which has no reference to unemployment).

In a sense, you might say I am finally coming to grips with the invitation from people I respect, first and foremost from the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and now Pope Benedict XVI, to look again at certain aspects of the last forty years of liturgical reform and specifically for me as a priest and bishop to look at the question of the best stance for the priest when praying the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.

This paper is intended only to deal with the orientation question; the other questions involving liturgical music, the worthy reception of Holy Communion and more are also profoundly important, but pamphlet size and context will limit us to the one question for now. Furthermore, the orientation question deserves separate treatment because it is the only matter regarding the reform which necessarily involves “moving furniture”.

Regardless of how seriously until now I might have taken the Holy Father’s call to return to sacred worship ad Orientem, I doubt, as a papal nuncio, if I would have had either the courage or the right to make structural changes in an established chapel or church without a directive or permission to do so from a higher authority (nuncios are accountable to the Holy See generally in terms of their behavior and cannot presume the authorization to make extraordinary expenditures or modifications in a building belonging to the Holy See). (Enter: b) the irresistible opportunity! And hence c) a little of both contributing to my choice) The need to remodel parts of the Apostolic Nunciature in Port of Spain early in 2005, to make convent space for the larger community of religious women arriving in September of that year, and from mid 2006 to mid 2007, major renovation following the authorization to replace an old leaky roof with a new one, and, at the same time, to rewire that part of the house while the roof was off, provided the opportunity to improve the utilization of available spaces in both houses and arrange a new chapel in the part of the house that would not be out of commission for months on end during the renovation of the old house.

As the family of the Nunciature and our friends know, the creation of this new worship space within an existing room has been an evolutionary process over the last couple of years, conditioned first by the need to move quickly so as to have a chapel in the new house and to have everything ready for roof work on the old house during the dry season of 2007.

Another factor which dictated the gradual approach to finishing the new chapel was what we’ll call simply “the sometimes availability of artists and craftsmen” to put the finishing touches on our somewhat hurriedly arranged new worship space. With really more success than most can boast in this lovely country, the project continues at a far better than average “Trini” pace and the bare essentials are gradually being embellished and some temporary appointments are finally giving way to what we hope will be their enduring form. Stained glass is taking the place of opaque white Plexiglas installed temporarily to eliminate distractions from windows which look out on the garage and the lane approaching the house. This was also a way to temper the morning rays of the sun since both windows face east. Temporarily too the beautiful poster reproduction of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Crucifix from the former chapel took their places, in about the only configuration possible given their size, in relationship to the Tabernacle, no longer at the side as in the former chapel but now centrally located on the south wall. With the installation of the new backdrop of paintings (altarpiece), consisting most notably in the center of the Crucifixion Scene with Adoring Angels in strict rapport with the Tabernacle flanked by Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Patroness for the chapel and the Patroness of the Americas, to one side and St. John the Evangelist to the other, the chapel is nearly complete.

The fixed furnishings in stone are those recommended by the relative instructions in the liturgical books approved by the Holy See: a free-standing Altar; a lectern; a seat, in our case a bench, for the priest and concelebrants from which he can preside over the Liturgy of the Word. In the land of termites, there is much to be said for the permanency of stone. With the Altar positioned front and center and with the new focal point provided by the altarpiece, the chapel invites not only to Eucharistic Adoration but also to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with priest and people together lifting their eyes and hearts to the Lord: ad Orientem. Interestingly enough, the altarpiece has enhanced the appearance of the tiny Tabernacle, which was purchased years ago for a much smaller room.

In a sense, that says it all, but I want to take a little time to anticipate some legitimate questions and render what might appear to some as a radical change (namely, worshipping ad Orientem) understandable for what it really is, the deliberate choice of an option, one which the Holy Father and I believe is better for prayer and praise.

Let me first anticipate some of the spontaneous questions, which deal with the particular arrangement of the chapel in the Apostolic Nunciature of Port of Spain. Let it be said at the outset that much of what you see was conditioned by the available space (in what was designed as a formal room with adjoining guest bed rooms – hence the new wall to partition off the chapel) and by budgetary constraints (generous benefactors are always welcome and will never be discouraged). As the room itself runs north and south, facing east was never a serious consideration.

Why are there no steps up to the Altar?

Basically no platform for the lectern and priest’s bench and no steps up to the Altar and Tabernacle were foreseen for practical reasons. No theological statement of one kind or another was intended. The ceiling of the room, a given, is too low to admit of steps. Above the present plasterboard ceiling are only a couple handbreadths of space below the poured concrete base of the floor above (hiding water pipe and electrical conduit for the floor above) and so nothing would be gained by tearing it out. The existing wood parquet floor seems to be holding up nicely after more than two years of use. Use would seem to confirm the judgment that installing a stone floor was not urgent from a practical and economic standpoint.

Why isn’t the Altar longer?

The size of the Altar is dictated by the width of the room and the initial intention to accommodate the celebration of Mass with the priest facing the assembly. An Altar built against the back wall of the chapel could have been longer, perhaps even double its present length. Free-standing as it is in the room, there was a need to provide sufficient space to pass between Altar and lectern and to accommodate candlesticks and allow a reasonable space between the priest’s bench and the Altar on the other side. The present size of the Altar, both in terms of length and depth, generously accommodates the sacred vessels which are meant to stand upon it along with the sacramentary, the book containing all the Mass texts. Candlesticks set up on the Altar with any measure of height or dignity would have put the ceiling in danger from candle soot or fire/heat. To return for a moment to my introductory comments, if my a) “crisis” had come at the beginning of this process, the chapel might have been arranged differently. The present arrangement would allow a successor to return to celebrating the Eucharistic Prayer facing the assembly, if he were so to choose.

Why granite furnishings and not marble?

A lovely white marble Altar or a sculpted Altar in a warm Travertine would have been nice, but Europe is far away and transportation costs are prohibitive. More often than not New World Altars are stone facing on a support structure of less noble material. This is what we have done in the chapel as well.

The two colors of granite (both from Brazil, I believe) were chosen to harmonize with the woods of the floor and other furnishings, which have a reddish cast. I can imagine embellishing both the lectern and the Altar with metal sculptures. For the moment, any ideas I might have are still waiting for the artist to come on the scene who could interpret them.

The granite priest’s bench with the chromed steel back (chroming is readily available because of the steel pan, the national musical instrument of Trinidad and Tobago) behind the presider’s place was chosen as opposed to chairs. It was set to the side at a right angle to the rest of the room so as to respect the overall symmetry of the presbyterium and the chapel. The granite is more substantial than wood and the bench is cleaner cut and takes up less space than a set of chairs. Even though the Nuncio is named as Ordinary in the Eucharistic Prayer in the chapel of the Nunciature, his chapel is not a cathedral and as such does not have a cathedra where only the local bishop can be seated.

Where is the Communion rail?

A small private chapel or oratory might well have a Communion rail but this one does not. If a proper rail were added the overall space available for special occasions where chairs are added to accommodate about 60 people would be lost. Neither consideration really excludes the addition of a Communion rail or kneeler at some future date.

What changes with a celebration ad Orientem?

In a sense, nothing changes because this option has always been foreseen in the liturgical books of the last forty years. Nothing changes for the assembly in any case; only the priest’s stance changes according to the option used to celebrate. The Liturgy of the Word should be celebrated from the priest’s bench no matter on which side of the Altar he may stand for the rest of the Mass.

The expression ad Orientem refers specifically to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The priest goes to the Altar to prepare the gifts and then prays the Eucharistic Prayer at the head of the people, all focused together with him on Christ. You will notice even celebrating ad Orientem, that on a couple occasions when the priest speaks to the people during the Liturgy of the Eucharist he does so by turning to address them.

When oriented everything makes more sense, you might say, as the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion Prayers are addressed to God. When facing the assembly across the Altar at this time the priest normally isn’t looking at the people anyway. He is looking at what he is reading from the sacramentary; otherwise his gaze should be lifted to heaven, to the Crucifix or focused on the Sacred Gifts upon the Altar. This explains the legitimacy, also as a preferred arrangement, of the one used by the Holy Father for the main Altar of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, where there is a lovely big Crucifix centered between six candles to provide the visual focus for the Eucharistic Prayer (I excluded this arrangement for the chapel of the Nunciature because of the ceiling height. Furthermore, it would still leave the priest with his back to the Tabernacle during the Eucharistic Prayer. St. Peter’s is big enough for a Blessed Sacrament Chapel).

Doesn’t the ad Orientem arrangement exclude people from what is going on at the Altar?

I don’t know how it could. The only real difference is that the priest needs to elevate the Host and Chalice over his head so that they can be seen after the words of consecration, but basically when oriented, the Eucharistic Prayer should be more meaningful or make better sense to all involved, because the focus of the action is more natural.

Will you be celebrating from both sides of the Altar?

No, I really am convinced that praying the Eucharistic Prayer ad Orientem makes more sense and is therefore better. I will celebrate that way in my chapel. In other chapels and churches, when I am invited, I will celebrate as is the custom there. Remember, the Holy Father has decided to teach by example in this case. I can find no evidence that things are otherwise. The liturgical books foresee both options. To date, no new rubrics have been issued on how to celebrate and no new directives given for the renovation of churches or the construction of new ones which require one arrangement to the exclusion of the other.

* * *

Here are some quotes (borrowed from another author’s collection) from the Holy Father’s past writings on the issue of the proper orientation for worship:

[T]he positive content of the old eastward-facing direction lay not in its orientation to the tabernacle.... The original meaning of what nowadays is called "the priest turning his back on the people" is, in fact--as J.A. Jungmann has consistently shown--the priest and people together facing the same way in a common act of trinitarian worship.... Where priest and people together face the same way, what we have is a cosmic orientation and also an interpretation of the Eucharist in terms of resurrection and trinitarian theology. Hence it is also an interpretation in terms of Parousia, a theology of hope, in which every Mass is an approach to the return of Christ.

-- The Feast of Faith (Ignatius Press, 1986), pg. 140

Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying toward the east is a tradition that goes back to the beginning.

-- The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2000), pg. 75.

The common turning toward the east was not a "celebration toward the wall"; it did not mean that the priest "had his back to the people": the priest himself was not regarded as so important. For just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy the congregation looked together "toward the Lord".... They did not close themselves into a circle; they did not gaze at one another; but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us.... [A] common turning to the east during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord.

-- The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp. 80-81.

As I have written in my books, I think that celebration turned towards the east, towards the Christ who is coming, is an apostolic tradition.

-- Looking Again at the Question of Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger, ed. Alcuin Reid (St. Michael's Abbey, 2003), pg. 151.

[A]mong the faithful there is an increasing sense of the problems inherent in an arrangement that hardly shows the liturgy to be open to the things that are above and to the world to come.

-- Foreword to U.M. Lang's Turning towards the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2004), pg. 11

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Respond and Be Happy!

AEC Youth Assembly 2009

14 July, Kingston, Jamaica

“If you only knew what God is offering you” (John 4:10)

Evangelizing youth for a fuller life in Christ

What would you say the theme of the AEC Youth Assembly 2009 is all about? “If you only knew what God is offering you” (John 4:10) “If you only knew…” sounds almost pessimistic, but it would be a mistake to take John 4:10 that way, because it would be reading this passage out of context. The whole of John Chapter 4 is far from desperate or pessimistic; it is a real success story. Here in the Gospel Jesus is speaking to a complete stranger, the Samaritan woman, a woman who had come to draw water from Jacob’s Well and from whom He, Jesus, asked a drink. Jesus engaged her in conversation and lost no time in refreshing her not with well water but with the pure and sparkling water of the Truth. This woman and through her the people of that town were refreshed and changed by their encounter with God’s promised Messiah, Jesus the Anointed, the Chosen, the Christ.

The subtitle to the theme of this assembly reads: Evangelizing youth for a fuller life in Christ. What does that mean? In Catholic circles at least, I have to tell you that the word “evangelize” is generational and specialized vocabulary. It’s not a word commonly used by my mother’s generation and maybe not even by yours. Professional church folk use the word all the time. How do you evangelize somebody? I might rightly ask some of those here present if there is a Creole word for “to evangelize”. I am not rejecting the word “evangelize”, but I do wish to say that to my mind we’ll need to go easy with the emphasis on that big 5 syllable word “e-van-ge-liz-ing” and place our accent on the second part of the phrase: “for a fuller life in Christ”. This is what Mother Church wants for you; this is God’s Will, His plan for you: “a fuller life in Christ”. To explain what I mean by fuller, let me use a familiar example. Parents want the very best for their children. Future parents even dream about making life absolutely fantastic for their not yet born son or daughter. We want everything and to the full for those whom we love. There is nobody who wants that full better or more for their children than nurturing parents. It’s the same for the Church with regard to its children. The hope and the dream of the Church is that you, our sons and daughters through Baptism might have, might know “a fuller life in Christ”.

The Planning Committee asked me to present today a “Charge to the Youths”. I think “giving a charge” is the same as “assigning a task” while at the same time challenging you or motivating you to do something. To the extent that someone speaking to a large group can even do it, I would like above all else to empower you, to point you in a direction and give you a little push to start you on your way. I’d like to convince you that full, as in full of life and happiness, can be fuller if you are built on that solid rock which is Christ. There is and can be more to you and to your life if you are bound closely to Jesus.

We always know when a child is on the way to growing up; growing up is marked by some crisis or even crises of greater or smaller proportion. That moment of crisis comes already in our young lives when all of a sudden we become aware in grown-up fashion of what is going on around us; we become thankful for all that has been given to us. It is a moment of crisis in the sense that we feel as though our really being blessed or happy requires a response on our part; we have to do something in return for all the good which has been done to us. The problem is or the crisis is: what to do? I don’t know how old I was but I still clearly remember my moment of crisis as a young person, being struck by this new awareness one night after supper and feeling I just had to do something immediately for my parents in return for all they had done for me up until that point in my life. For lack of a better idea, I just went out into the kitchen and did the dishes. It may not have been a totally adequate way to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all I had received up until that point in my life, but it was my moment of recognition toward all others for what they had done for me, even if at the time my reaction was a bit awkward and adolescent. “If you only knew what God is offering you” (John 4:10)… I have no way of knowing whether folks at home caught the meaning of my gesture of washing the supper dishes without being asked or ordered to, but it must have had some importance for them too. I say that because even now, if I try to beat Mom to the supper dishes, she won’t chase me out of the kitchen, but she won’t let me to do the dishes alone either.

Truth to be told: we’re always on the receiving end and thankfulness should be primary in our lives, but happiness is increased by our responding and doing something. Happiness is magnified when we become active, when we take life on for ourselves. We cannot live without goals that we act upon; real people do not live virtually; you cannot expect to live life to the full by wielding the TV remote or by mouse-click. We need to respond personally and as best we can; the words “anonymous” or “vicarious” have nothing to do with full or fuller. They do not and cannot satisfy.

“If you only knew what God is offering you” (John 4:10)! One time here in Kingston, riding in the car with Archbishop Reece, a young man came up to the car window at a stop light to ask for something and the Archbishop asked him what he wanted to be in life and he said a popular singer. He sang for us a little something which wasn’t bad but probably would never make it to anybody’s top ten hits list. I hope he has a “plan B” or has other things he’s striving for in life. I hope Jesus and life with Jesus is central to his plan. What does it mean to strive “for a fuller life in Christ”? If you don’t know, take advantage of this Youth Assembly to listen hard and don’t hesitate to ask for light in prayer and to ask persons who seem to know something to share with you the reason for their hope and happiness. Above all don’t limit yourself to seeking just entertainment or adventure in life! Choose life to the full in Christ and be really happy always!

Do you know enough about your faith? Do you know enough about Jesus, Who has loved you even unto death, death on a cross? Jesus invited the Samaritan woman to ask Him for living water; she did and He simply told her the truth about herself and about God. Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel goes on: “So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’ They went out of the city and were coming to him… Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:28-30; 39-42) It is my hope that the AEC Youth Assembly 2009 might work for you as the encounter with Jesus did for the Samaritans. May this week be the push you need to make a real life choice and come to know the fullness of life in Christ!

If I look back on my youth and the people my same age I knew from childhood and grew up with, I’d have to say that to my knowledge there aren’t any women whom I went to school with who have become nuns, religious sisters. That is out of over a hundred girls in my high school class. In the past, that thought made me quite sad until I met a number of those women five years ago for the first time again and could see what great wives and mothers some of them had become. Three of my high school friends plus me out of 100 boys became priests. That is indeed something, but I have also had the honor of getting reacquainted with a number of the rest of those 100 boys who were with me in school and who are fine men, fathers and husbands, and now even grandfathers. Some of my class are not happy or were not happy: sadly enough I found one of those boys who had been in and out of jail, not a bad person at all, who had hung himself from the rafters in the janitor’s room of the same elementary school we had both attended. Choose life for yourself, life in Christ!

Be grateful for all you have received and seek to respond even if your response does not quite seem to measure up to what you have received. I am sure that here among you today there are potentially some very great, loving husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. I’d bet that if you took Him on, Jesus would probably call forth from this group some of the excellent religious women that our region so desperately needs for the future. I am fully confident that there are goodly young men among you who have a call from God to become priests. Respond now, without waiting another day! Don’t wait! Get to work studying Latin and philosophy, start now to build yourself up for the call to the priesthood which will come through the Church from your bishop! Respond! Don’t do nothing! Do something even if it might seem inadequate to you! Ask Jesus for living water, give Him your heart, soul, mind and strength, and be happy! “If you only knew what God is offering you” (John 4:10)!

Your life not only can but will be fuller in Christ if you answer His call and ask Him for the living water He is ready to give you. Pray about your future and open your heart to know what God wants for you! Use these days for a profitable exchange with others here in Kingston! Don’t sit back! If you decide to act, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Like Amos, be Prophets!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
– for the Intention of Archbishop Paul Tabet –
Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature
Port of Spain, T&T

“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help”.

There are times when I wonder whether some of the people I meet are clear about what it means to be a Catholic. I say that in the sense that I at least, maybe you too, commonly run into people who are very shy about sharing their faith; it is not just that respect and reserve we owe to sacred things, rather faith seems almost to be such a private or personal thing for them that they dare not share even with people they love and respect what the Gospel refers to as hidden treasure or the pearl of great price.

There are two problems with this: one, it doesn’t make sense not to share the joy of your life with other good people and two, this private approach is hard to reconcile with the mission Jesus gave to the Twelve as reported in today’s Gospel. Maybe it’s just the fact that sharing the faith is not as simple as showing a friend our pictures of the children or grandchildren. Sharing the faith means inviting others to change. The Twelve understood very clearly their mission from Christ:

“So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them”.

In the Church, we cannot leave this work which is really what is meant by prophecy or a prophetic mission to the professionals (the priests and sisters). Today’s Old Testament prophet Amos, a farmer really whom God had called to preach repentance to Israel, is the foreshadowing of the calling all of us share as a result of our baptism, no matter what our walk in life. We’re called not only to save our own souls, but to save others by sharing the faith with them, which basically involves inviting them to change their lives to conform to the law of the Lord.

That may be a problem in and of itself, but Amos’ life points to a second part of the experience, which verifies itself time and again in the lives of all those who seek to share their faith with others. Very simply put, the prophet Amos rubbed the people of Israel the wrong way:

“Go away seer… We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple”.

While I was home in the States this year on vacation, I had a visit with a friend of some years, a woman who shared with me her perplexity over the situation in her parish. In the last year both her parish priest and the associate priest had been changed. The old ones were fine to her mind and parish life had been OK. You could say, however, that nobody had really “rocked the boat” much in the past. The new priests had a different approach even though they were very popular and obviously worked hard for all aspects of parish life. You see, they also preached on some very difficult and controversial topics, moral issues, which some of my friend’s fellow parishioners took as a “punch in the face” of sorts. The new priests, like the Twelve whom Jesus sent out two by two in the Gospel or like Amos, were preaching repentance.

My friend told me there had even been cases of people getting up during the homily and stomping out of church in a rage. However, for everyone whom the two priests angered, she told me, there were other people, the vast majority, who rejoiced in sound teaching and the priests’ courage in facing squarely some very hard issues. People were coming from other parishes in town of a Sunday to be able to listen to them and worship together with them. These men were successfully fulfilling the mission given to them by Christ.

Some people would argue that religion does not necessarily have to be so “in your face” and they’ll point to some of the preachers on TV. I asked a bishop friend of mine, whom I respect very much, what he thought of the mega-church phenomenon, which still seems to be attracting many people not by calling them to repentance or change of life, but by providing a comfortable, even beautiful place of a Sunday, with great music and a simple message not unlike the old “power of positive thinking” business of years ago. The bishop observed that for many people the mega-church experience was only a passing thing. They would try it for a while and in the case of many fallen-away Catholics he had met, the mega-church experience was a little nudge to bring them back to the Catholic Church. My bishop friend told me that it may not be the full Gospel, but sometimes it can help people on the pathway to fullness of life and faith in Christ’s Holy Church.

Conclusion number one: Sunday worship should challenge us to be renewed in the faith of our Baptism; it should be a call to repent. Catholic worship of a Sunday cannot be jumping up and shouting. It’s not meant to be a diversion or a festival of song and dance. It’s a time to lift our face to Jesus. It’s coming to that “out of the way place” with Him to draw strength for the week ahead. It is as much standing at the foot of the Cross as it is anything else and coming to understand how our whole life cannot really be lived anywhere else but in the presence of the Crucified and Risen One.

In a sense, Sunday Mass is Viaticum for the living. Viaticum, as you know, is Holy Communion under that special form which the Church gives to the dying. As believing people, we seek to call the priest when someone is near death; we want him to hear that person’s confession if he or she is still conscious; we want the priest to give that person the Anointing of the Sick and to bring that person Viaticum: Viaticum is a Latin word meaning basically “with you on your way” and means Jesus with you on your way to the Heavenly Father. For us the living, Sunday Mass could be called Viaticum, because it puts us back in touch with the loving Jesus, with the teaching Jesus, Who demands of us change. We take Him with us (Viaticum) from Mass on Sunday to be with us hopefully all week long.

We were washed clean on the day of our Baptism and then challenged with the bestowal of the white baptismal garment and the baptismal candle to keep our new dignity unstained and with the light of faith burning brightly in our hearts to go to meet the Lord when He comes again. Seeing as how none of us is perfect, a prophetic word from Father of a Sunday would seem to be an important part of that experience, really the only way to go for the Lord’s companions, for you and for me.

Back to our starting point and that part which is ours, as non-professionals, in the work of preaching repentance, just like the Twelve did at Jesus’ command, just like Amos did even if people did not appreciate his message in the name of the Lord! We all know that being preachy or nagging is counterproductive; it can drive our children away from the faith. Nonetheless, we have to realize that there are countless opportunities, some each day, not to get up on our soapbox but rather to share with others the reason for our hope both by word and good example. Yes, this Sunday’s message sheds light on how tough it can be to be a follower of Christ, but by the same token how necessary it is that we embrace that cross and share our faith with others.

Today’s Second Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is a bit longish but oh so important in reaching an understanding of who we are in Christ and what we have to share with the world. I am sure that many of you have a Sunday Missal at home or perhaps subscribe to Magnificat. I hope the rest of your Sunday is restful enough to give you a moment to pick that reading up again, read it over and savor it. It speaks eloquently about the nature of our adoption in Christ, about who we are, about our destiny from before time began.

Radiate Christ’s love at home, at work, and wherever you may be! Be prophets for our day and time!

“May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind, so that we can see what hope his call holds for us”.