Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moving Day!

Well, today I launched the ship! For new installments, look to the prairie! DEO VOLENTE EX ANIMO!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Joy in His Strength

Solemn Re-dedication
of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Saturday, 16 July 2011,
St. George’s, Grenada
Nehemiah 8:1-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Ephesians 2:19-22
Matthew 16:13-19

Rededicating today this Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is in a sense almost as dramatic as the events we heard about in our first reading from the Old Testament prophet Nehemiah, recounting what happened when the forgotten/neglected book of the law was discovered by a younger and more impressionable generation of leaders and taken out and read to all the people. Thanks to this discovery, to good leadership and to their openness, a people once again came to appreciate their having been chosen by God as His very own people. They came to know of their treasured relationship with the living God which had been rejected or neglected by their parents. You might say that youth and good will together found their way back to obedience to the law and thereby to the God Who had never stopped loving His people. Please, God, that this rededication today would have a positive and invigorating effect on the faith life of all in the diocese of St. George’s in Grenada!
“(F)or this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
It has been almost 7 years since hurricane Ivan blew through town. While 7 years might not be much to some, it does mean that a lot of Grenada’s children and youth never experienced the “before” of this Cathedral as compared to our joyful “after” of today. Granted, this rebuilding or restoration after the storm can’t be compared to that eventful day described by Nehemiah. Other than the building itself, things haven’t fallen apart here in Grenada for lack of a church building; nobody here has forgotten God’s law or grown up ignorant of their Catholic faith because the Cathedral was in ruins. We can say, however, that having this house of worship, this house of prayer back again gives to you all a special point of reference for your life and identity as Catholic Christians, as a diocese, as a local Church. This church can serve as a point of reference for understanding who we are in the only world which counts: in God’s world. Thanks be to God! Thanks to all who worked so hard! Thank you to all of the donors and benefactors who contributed to the reconstruction!

What indeed does it mean to be back on Church Street and in this building? We know that the word “cathedral” comes from the word “cathedra” which is the proper term for the bishop’s chair here in this church. Before the Babylonian exile in the Temple at Jerusalem the only chair or seat was the so-called “mercy seat” or propitiatory within the Holy of Holies where once a year the high priest entered alone to sprinkle the blood of sacrificed animals in expiation for the sins of the people. Outside the Temple building proper, which was preserved as space for God alone, however, there was a column where the king stood and which was a point of reference for the people and for the king before God Almighty for Whom the Temple was so to speak His footstool and heaven His throne.

The bishop’s chair, the cathedra, is for us in the New Testament a unique point of reference, focusing the people’s gaze and with authority drawing us to Christ, the Shepherd of our souls and our Redeemer. Anywhere, not just in church, not just in this cathedral and not just from his cathedra, your bishop can teach and through teaching the faith which comes to us from the apostles, he can bind you as one to the confession of St. Peter as we heard it proclaimed from Matthew’s Gospel: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” While it may be true that we don’t necessarily need the brick and mortar or the roof over our heads for worshiping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, still in many ways it is so much better to have this place. Different from the old Temple days, besides Mass times, you can come in to this house of prayer anytime and without the mediation of the high priest, you can place yourself directly before the mercy seat, not the footstool of the Almighty but the Tabernacle housing the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus, True God and True Man, here present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Jesus, the only mediator between God and men, Jesus perfectly present for us, whole and undivided under the form of Bread.

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked His disciples and after Peter responded with his confession of the true faith, the Lord declared that not flesh and blood but God the Father Himself had revealed to Peter, in the midst of the other disciples, the presence among them of His only begotten Son. In this place and in a very special way, we stand in continuity, we stand at one with St. Peter. Here with all due solemnity you/we profess our faith together with the bishop. Normally, unless we live close by, we worship in our parish churches and Father mentions the bishop’s name along with that of the Holy Father as he prays for us the Eucharistic Prayer. Here we see the bishop and are reminded of the Shepherd Who sits at the right hand of the Father and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

Seeing the kind of destruction which Ivan brought in September of 2004, no one here has any illusions about the permanency of structures built with human hands, but our faith is not really in the building itself. The building is a reminder of the teaching outlined by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians:
“(Y)ou are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
This Cathedral then is a visual aid, a constant reminder that it is we, living stones anchored on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, steadied and made secure forever by Christ Jesus Himself, we are as one God’s Holy Temple, His dwelling place among men.

On my first visit to St. George’s six years ago, the clean-up had been done, but all that was left standing really was the tower and the apse with the Crucifix. I remember clearly that people were still debating about the whether, the where and the how of rebuilding. There were all kinds of considerations and priorities to be kept in mind, as everyone agreed that the Catholic Church in Grenada should set a proper example by meeting the urgent and basic needs of the people first and foremost. All things come in their own good time and I assure you, I am glad you did decide, that you rebuilt this church as a house of prayer, as your cathedral and not just as a memorial to an older generation that long before you had sacrificed to build on this spot. Praise God! You have your cathedral back and on Church Street!

Having this house of worship, this house of prayer back again gives you a special point of reference as I say: a point of reference for understanding who we are in the only world which counts: in God’s world. Can I configure/set myself up like a computer or some kind of super-phone as I see fit, choose for myself how I will be Catholic, about whether Sunday Mass will be part of my life, about whether and how and which of the Commandments I’ll obey, about the importance of the Sacrament of Penance in my life for the worthy reception of Holy Communion? Is my will and how I see my life necessarily God’s Will? Not hardly! That’s why Ezra the scribe read the book of the law of Moses to the people; that is why they began to cry and had to be encouraged to celebrate, now that they had opened their ears and their hearts to God’s law.
“(F)or this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Join me today not only in rejoicing but also in begging the Lord to forgive those, to open the ears of those, to touch the hearts of those who stubbornly set their own rules and prefer a natural sunset to the Dawn who visits us from on high, Christ the Lord! Turn to the Lord with your bishop, let his chair, his cathedra in his cathedral church remind you of the Lord Jesus here among us, who one day will sit in judgment over us all. Be reminded always, both at Liturgy and when you come to visit this house, not only just of the loving God Who gave the law, but of God’s only Son, who gave His life for us upon the Cross! Buildings come and go; they are not absolutely essential, but they can certainly inspire us and direct us on our path to God.

St. George’s has its Cathedral back! Thanks be to God!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Let the Seed come to Fruition!

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A
Isaiah 55:10-11
Romans 8:18-23
Matthew 13:1-23

“As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth… so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.”
… the edge of the path; … on patches of rock; … among thorns; … on rich soil: [^] … he is without understanding; [^] … there is no root in him; [^] … the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word; [^] … he hears the word and understands it.

Whenever I hear this parable I thankfully remember my time in the Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin. The short corridor to the chapel was decorated with original stained glass windows portraying this parable of the Sower and the Seed and every time I passed when it was light outside the windows offered me a reminder, let’s say an examination of conscience in terms of my responsibility to be a hearer and an “understander” of God’s word; even though I many times sin or fail, as Jesus says to His disciples and to us, I am most fortunate as I am among those who understand, as are you, for by His great gift I was granted access to the mysteries of the Kingdom. As He tells us in today’s Gospel:
“(T)he mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them… in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled: You will listen and listen again, but not understand, see and see again, but not perceive. For the heart of this nation has grown coarse, their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, for fear they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed by me.”
This phrase reminds me of a priest up in the U.S. who some people tout as a modern day Fulton J. Sheen. His name is Fr. Robert Barron and he has a network TV program in Chicago, but I know him from a powerful internet presence, especially his videos on YouTube. While he teaches on every imaginable topic, just like Bishop Sheen back in the 1950’s, I wish to mention his attention to the criticism of religion coming from modern day atheists, people on the edge of the path who just don’t get it; they don’t understand or won’t understand God’s word at all. Fr. Barron is of a mind that we should all be trained to answer these critics who reject God and His Church. Father would like to see a revival and not just for priests and seminarians of the study of apologetics, which Webster’s dictionary defines, and I think satisfactorily so for our purposes, as: “1: systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine) 2: a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.” For those of us who know our catechism, it is basically standing up for our faith.

Fr. Barron lives in hope of converting these atheists and that is good, for you and for me an apologetic stance in matters of faith and religion means putting our lamp, the lamp of faith, on the lamp stand where it belongs, and filling our space with light. For us it is first and foremost, as I say, lighting the lamp of truth, the truth which comes from God, and sweeping our house clean to make it ready to receive Christ, our Bridegroom.

We may not always be 100% sure about everything, but we do know and understand. In matters of faith we are not that patch of rocks without depth. Perhaps we could be more profound, we could take things more to heart and try better to understand, but we do know; we do understand. In point of fact it is the worries of this world and the lure of riches that choke the word in our lives.

Speaking of worrying, I worry an awful lot about young people especially, as they are really too exposed to noise and distractions today. One of the things which makes me cringe in traffic, for example, are young people in vehicles seemingly just driving around with very loud music blaring. Too much video and audio stimulation doesn’t deserve to be called stimulation because its effect on us is, has to be numbing. We need to think things through; we need to think things out and that can’t be done with the TV always there to one side or loud music pushing everything out of our space.

Older folk once upon a time listened to music: way back, maybe, there was a program on the radio which received their full attention every Sunday before dinner. I have a friend here in Trinidad who really listens to music yet; she gives it here full attention for that hour or whatever it is and even reads up on the artists or the composer. That is not the kind of sound I’m talking about; that is still an active participation in an art form and not something which just fills what might be an enriching silence and perhaps a space for prayer.

… the edge of the path? … on patches of rock? … among thorns? … on rich soil: where are you? Do a special examination of conscience for yourself on those points! You may not have a corridor of stained glass to remind you of the parable and for that matter neither have I for a long time, but the parable is familiar and easy to remember in its four distinctions; even without props we can still test ourselves for receptivity. God’s word bears fruit in our lives to the extent that we are attentive to the word and allow it a place deep within our hearts and for our lives. Why would anyone reject God and in favor of what? I really cannot imagine.

I wish you a quiet Sunday with space and time for reflection and thought. You may discover that the house of your soul needs sweeping out as it has become cluttered for lack of attention on your part. Let His light shine into every corner, clean well and make room for Him! Take on your mission in the light of His word! Be light and salt for this world of ours, which is often out of touch, without depth and totally distracted!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

And Yet Believe!

St. Thomas, the Apostle, pray for us!

Wealth Worth Sharing

Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, ICEL from Church Music Association of Amer on Vimeo.

They say that as Catholics, two verses are our limit. Of late I have begun to speculate as to whether that isn't a natural predilection for chanted antiphons?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meek and Victorious

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A
Zechariah 9:9-10
Romans 8:9. 11-13
Matthew 11:25-30

“Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
If you are of average height and weight, the claim “One Size Fits All” might be credible, but when you are little larger, like I am, especially when it comes to caps or golf hats, you know that the claim has no basis in fact. The “All” is a presumption, and in fact, without foundation. I know. Those caps never fit me.

Today’s Gospel was the very same one we just heard Friday, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; that feast is a powerful and beautiful meditation on God’s love for us which took flesh in His Son Jesus. When that same Gospel is read on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, however, the focus is more on the gentleness and humility of Christ. It includes an invitation to follow Him closely. Be it clear, however, that although it is the same Gospel passage even so we are not just plopping the same hat on another head today. We’re digging deeper into the treasure trove which is Holy Scripture, into the Gospel which reflects that wealth in a very special way.

The interpretive key for the Gospel of this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found in the 1st reading, taken from the prophet Zechariah:

“See now, your king comes to you; he is victorious, he is triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey…”
Some English translations of our passage from Matthew’s Gospel use the expression “meek and humble” instead of “gentle and humble”. In either case we are reminded of the Beatitudes also from Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus promises that the meek shall inherit the earth, the meek shall be victorious, the meek shall be the ones to conquer. This Sunday tells us who and how Jesus is and how we can be one with Him in His great victory. Go figure, as they say, when our Commander in Chief, our King, is neither a commander nor a chief, but humble.

“Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion!”

There are loads of tools out there for self-improvement. Years and years ago, the classic book title for this genre was “How to succeed in business without really trying”. Or was that a Broadway play? My Dad’s generation had an association called “Toastmasters”, which helped you improve not only your public speaking but also how you met and greeted people. Since then there have been tons of audio and video tapes produced and sold, weekend seminars advertized in airline magazines, and now everything you can imagine digitally produced to help you make yourself better, to help you succeed, however you might see that success.

I doubt however if many have any luck in selling their product who advertize according to the line “How to succeed in business without really trying”. No, I’m more impressed by the “true grit” and maniac exercise programs which promise you good looks and stamina beyond your wildest dreams if you call the number at the bottom of your screen right now; those programs demand hard work and seem more promising. Even so, and rejecting all the preachers/entertainers we see on TV who promise you friendship with God, plus a new home, a new car and a great relationship besides, it must be said and even shouted out that real life and God’s promise is so much more.

The king promised by Zechariah is more; our life as subjects or as followers of the great king is meant to be for us so much more. Yet how hard it is for us to see our lives as more than a response to a code, a set of rules or a teaching! How hard it is to imagine that Jesus Himself has invited us to share His yoke, to share His burden, to share His Cross! This week I happened to see a video from Dublin, Ireland where they stopped people randomly on the street, asked if they had been baptized Catholic (to which all said yes) and then asked them if they went to Mass on Sundays, to which question all but one said either never or hardly ever. In answer to the why don’t you go, nobody I saw came back expressing any appreciation for the fundamental message of the Gospel:

“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children.”
Too few people, too few young people and not only young people, seem to understand the fundamental truth of our faith that God’s Kingdom is life and love shared, now and for all eternity. We’re competing with no one of a Sunday morning; we have nothing to sell. We’re celebrating our relationship with, our being yoked to Jesus, gentle and humble in heart. The word “boring” doesn’t apply because what we do in worship is neither goal-oriented education or achieving, nor (God forbid!) is it entertainment or a pep rally.

Make your Lord’s Day restful, leisurely with space and time for reflection! Binding us under pain of mortal sin to Sunday Mass is a good thing, because at least here and at least on His Day, the Lord’s Day, we should be able to catch our breath, to find ourselves and to see Who it is we are under the yoke with, Jesus gentle and humble in heart. The slogan “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is nothing short of perverse. Sunday, just like our daily prayers, awaken us to the only type of success or accomplishment worthy of being called success, triumph and victory. Our real enemies are not the laundry basket piled high, the desk full of unanswered correspondence, the guy infected with road rage who cuts us off in his selfish hurry to get wherever he is going. No, the enemies are fallen-aways from the ranks of the Principalities and Powers. No amount of gym time, no amount of jumping and sweating prepares us for that battle.  Our victory is an ultimate one we win yoked to Him. The victory in fact is already won and it belongs to the Lamb upon the Throne Who was slain and now lives forever!

Accept His gentle yoke!

The Children with Songs Before Him Went!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Three Ages of the Interior Life | Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP | Catholic Spiritual Teaching

"Without God, the seriousness of life gets out of focus. If religion is no longer a grave matter but something to smile at, then the serious element in life must be sought elsewhere. Some place it, or pretend to place it, in science or in social activity; they devote the selves religiously to the search for scientific truth or to the establishment of justice between classes or peoples. After a while they are forced to perceive that they have ended in fearful disorder and that the relations between individuals and nations become more and more difficult, if not impossible. As St. Augustine and St. Thomas (6) have said, it is evident that the same material goods, as opposed to those of the spirit, cannot at one and the same time belong integrally to several persons. The same house, the same land, cannot simultaneously belong wholly to several men, nor the same territory to several nations. As a result, interests conflict when man feverishly makes these lesser goods his last end."

A friend in Poland tipped me off to the availability on the www of the classnotes in English for the course which Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, taught for years at the Angelicum University in Rome (long before I was born). I hope to have time to read them during my upcoming vacation. Take a look yourself and see whether these same things aren't timeless in terms of the value in the discussion of life priorities. To my mind, this is another "grand old man" who deserves to be read and discussed by the youth of today. Here is page 1

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

False Premises Commonly Held

Michael Foley has a succinct article at Crisis Magazine which should be widely read as it could soften some of the opposition to reforming the reformed liturgy according to the mind of the Holy Father:  Liturgical Myths

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Paint Yourself Into The Picture

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

2 Kings 4:8-11. 14-16
Romans 6:3-4. 8-11
Matthew 10:37-42

The passage from 2nd Kings for today says that the wealthy Shunemite woman and her husband received Elisha into their home with all of the regard due to a holy man of God and, without expecting it, were rewarded with the one thing missing in their lives, the one thing money and rank could not buy for them, offspring, a baby boy! In Matthew’s Gospel today Jesus promises a reward to all those who welcome apostles, prophets, holy men, disciples, even God’s little ones. He demands only (to use a very colloquial form of expression) that we not be clingy or self-absorbed. That’s one way to explain what Jesus was trying to teach the Twelve:
“Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus demands first place in our lives: before closest kin, before our own selves. He demands that we follow in His footsteps all the way to Calvary. How many spiritual authors have filled volumes trying to explain to you and to me just what that is supposed to mean given our specific station in life! And yet, there’s something very attractive, yes, profound about explaining it with the simple command: don’t be either clingy in your relationships or self-absorbed with regard to yourself.

Why did the Shunemite woman and her husband gain the unexpected prize of a baby boy from God? Who else could have given such a reward? They won, if you will, because they went beyond themselves and their daily affairs (beyond their self-absorption?) to recognize God in their world in the person of a holy man, Elisha. Holy: that is, touched by God, belonging to God, caught up to God’s realm and communicating something of God to others for the sake of the life of the world.

I used to think that a big part of the reason for the increased violence in our world was middle class prosperity, the increased material wealth of a larger cross section of society which made them or us targets for the envy of materially obsessed but less fortunate types disposed to resort to violence in order to increase their share of the pie, if you will. Actually, I am beginning to see that the problem of violence and greed is more than a problem in and of itself. The greater tragedy, if you will, comes with the reverse side of the same coin, namely that our inordinate attachments or obsessions whether for persons or for things render us unworthy of the company of Christ. They hold us earthbound and far from the fullness of life offered to us by our living Lord.
“Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
I’m not sure which comes first in a two-year-old’s language acquisitions: Mine! Or No!... Though our vocabulary may grow and our manners become more polished, some of us ultimately don’t get much beyond staking out our own territory, asserting ourselves or fending off others including God and His will for us.  Indeed, the two great commandments of love of God and love of neighbor are one, two sides of the same coin. My self-absorption or possessiveness effectively leave me out of life’s running both in this life and for eternity. I cannot set myself up in life to win; I need to lose myself in order to find life and enjoy life with the other in God.

So much church art of the Middle Ages and other periods as well, particularly paintings, include portraits of the wealthy benefactors who paid for the artwork. Sometimes they are clearly part of the scene; sometimes they are painted smaller and kneeling in the foreground. In a sense, they could be showing off, but in another sense, they are going beyond their daily affairs to welcome the holy and put themselves in the picture so to speak with the saints at the foot of the Cross. You don’t give out big money for a painting like that without recognizing the holy in life.

You and I need to do something similar, without painting ourselves into a painting on the wall of a church, really without letting our right hand know what the left one is doing. We need to welcome all into our lives as if they were Christ. The breadth and height and depth of our charity, focused on Christ, will be the measure with which we are measured back.

I am sure at this point if I nudged people on a whole series of inordinate attachments and obsessions, I’d get back either the bloodshot stare of rage or the pallid face of desperation concerning a whole series of moral imperatives which people today won’t face in their lives; those crosses they ignore or refuse to take up with Christ. The problem, in good part at least, is self-absorption; it’s clinging to someone or something and missing the visit of the holy man Elisha, who just might leave that gift of God behind, which not only bends stubborn hearts and wills, melts the frozen and warms the chill, but leaves in its train, perhaps not a baby boy, but what he signifies in terms of life and hope far beyond the gusto or you name it which I can grasp for myself on my one time go around.

Ask the Lord this Sunday to open your grasp or grabbing hands and help you to extend your arms in welcome to whomever, be it an apostle, a prophet, a holy man, a true disciple of the Lord or even just one of God’s little ones. For not expecting the gift in return, we can be ever so much more blessed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

From My Mother's Womb

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Today's solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist got me thinking quite intensely about the notion or nature of vocations, which we firmly believe do come from God and not from personal whim. That is to say, God calls a man to priesthood, just like God called St. John to prepare the way of the Lord and from the first moment of his existence, from his mother Elizabeth's womb. I've come to the conclusion that this "spiel" about so-called mature vocations to priesthood and religious life as being somehow better is not only folly but perhaps should be attributed to the evil one. God required no previous life experience of St. John before singling him out as the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He doesn't require a series of adventures from a man as a prerequisite for admission to seminary.

Have you ever heard a witness from someone who came late to the priesthood who did not confess resisting or denying God's call, unless of course hardship at home stood in the way? By sending away younger people who present themselves as called by God, I feel we are stifling the Spirit. Let there be no mistake about it: over the last 20 years and more, bishops, pastors and seminary rectors have been sending young men away. How often over these same years have parents succeeded in dampening the hopes and aspirations of a son as well?

As odd-ball as those two first paragraphs of this reflection may sound and not wanting to be less than thankful to all those men who finally gave in or rebelled and accepted the grace bestowed upon them by God and became His priests, I want to insist that we need to do more to take younger people seriously and provide them with the opportunity of responding, proportionate to their age and maturity, to a call we must show that we too believe indeed comes from God.

St. Luke's Gospel for today's solemnity recounting the events on the day of John's circumcision seems to me to be incontrovertible evidence in this regard of how the world should react to God's subtle signs:

"All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. 'What will this child turn out to be?' they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel."

John's parents knew the difference between the finger of God and childish caprice; so should we. At this traditional time of year for priestly ordinations and anniversaries of ordination (35 for me this year!) the generally small or no numbers in many places cause pain but, with all due respect, not enough for hardened hearts to soften and creative minds to seek ways appropriate to our day and time to allow once again boys, yet boys, to speak an ADSUM at age 18 certainly, but perhaps even better at age 14! Maybe the Latin schools of the great monasteries and cathedral chapters should be reopened?

Forgive me for not having a pat answer to the vocation crisis! Our world has grown terribly chaotic and too many distractions compete for young hearts and minds. We grown-ups, however, cannot just stand idly by as if we were victims. We witness both cautious and bold "No's!" on the part of fellow Christians to other invasions into our rightful space as God's chosen ones. Shouldn't we also give respect to our children as they do the equivalent of what John did as he leapt for joy at the presence of his Lord, both of them still under their mothers' hearts? Elizabeth was voice for her son and for her doubting husband Zechariah. Let us help with a serious "Here am I Lord! I come to do Your Will!" for those the Lord has chosen from the womb today to feed and shepherd His flock.

The Birthday of St. John the Baptist has me worried about us who seem to be stifling the Spirit and depriving our people of the Bread of Heaven and the life-giving Word of God!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bone pastor, panis vere,

The Body and Blood of Christ
Solemnity (Year A)

The account of Moses and the People of God in the desert, taken from our first reading for Mass today from the book of Deuteronomy, struck me in a special way this year.

Normally when we think about Corpus Christi the Procession comes to mind, our carrying Christ into our cities, towns and villages. It is our witness to our faith in Him truly present under signs of bread and wine, Jesus present, our Risen Savior present, the Son of God present, the Word made Flesh present, not symbolically but really present, Jesus, His True Body, His True Blood, not the dead Christ but the Living One: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Bread of Angels is He; our Food and our Stay is He.

Normally we Catholics are busy today reclaiming the highways and byways for God in the Person of Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. We are blessing right and left and rightly so. We do so with joy and to the extent we are able in many places around the world with great solemnity and even pageantry, like in Orvieto not far from Rome or in some of the other places in Italy where they decorate in beautiful designs made out of different colored flower petals the path the priest will walk carrying Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Historically we can say that the Solemnity of Corpus Christi really took off at the time of St. Thomas Aquinas (just over 700 years ago),  Aquinas who composed the Divine Office and the great hymns for this feast. Since that time especially, Corpus Christi has been a saving antidote for all kinds of doubts and hesitations about the reality of this great mystery of our faith. It has calmed fears, restored joy, and vanquished those doubts in matters of faith which have crept into the lives of individual Christians, into the lives somethimes even of priests.

Normally, as I say, we are carrying Him, Jesus in the Eucharist, we are praising and proclaiming Him in the streets, we are worshipping Him, the One and Only, the One True God, Jesus Christ. But this year, as I say, Deuteronomy reminds us as well, at least it reminded me, that first and foremost we are celebrating God's action; it is not just we carrying and proclaiming. Moses says "Remember how the Lord your God led you... he fed you... to make you understand... that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord." Manna, bread from heaven, not what your fathers ate in the desert, but as Jesus says in the Gospel: "I am the living bread which has come down from heaven."

I think Trinidad is especially fortunate to have Corpus Christi both as a Holy Day and a National Holiday. While this day should be a reminder and reinforcement of a genuinely healthy Catholic pride in possessing such a great gift as Jesus truly present on our altars and in our tabernacles, let us also be mindful today in a very special way that it is Jesus Himself Who feeds and carries us all our days.

"As I (Jesus says in St. John's Gospel), who am sent by the living Father, myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me. This is the bread come down from heaven; not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever."

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Iesu, nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere,
Tu nos bona fac videre
in terra viventium.
Tu qui cuncta scis et vales,
qui nos pascis hic mortales:
tuos ibi commensales,
coheredes et sodales
fac sanctorum civium.
Amen. Alleluia.