Saturday, November 10, 2018
The season of Fall and the changing of the colors of the tree leaves before they fall to the ground remind us of the shortness of our lives here on earth and how we depart this earth empty handed. The poor widow tossed into the collection basket the sign of her independence; her trust and dependence were on God. Her example of faith is grounded in the love of God. She teaches us that dependence on God can lead us to a life of simplicity, joy, and gratitude.
Friday, November 9, 2018
Nov. 9, 2018: Dedication of
St. John Lateran
By Deacon Greg Kandra
This is one of the more unusual feasts on the church calendar. It doesn’t commemorate a saint, or a biblical event. It celebrates a building. Specifically, the Lateran Basilica, in Rome. It’s the oldest of the four major basilicas in Rome, and as such serves as the official “home” of the pope – the seat of the bishop of Rome. St. Peter’s gets all the attention, but it’s the Lateran that is really the “pope’s church.”
A few years ago, my wife and I got to visit Rome and see the Lateran. You’ll find some remarkable objects – above the altar there are relics of St. Peter and St. Paul. There is also wood that is said to come from the table of the Last Supper.
But one of the most striking spots is actually outside the church. If you go to the square across the street, you’ll see a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, with his arms outstretched. It commemorates an important moment in church history: the Lateran is where Francis went to ask the pope for permission to start a religious order. And if you remember the story, his inspiration was a voice that he heard in prayer, a voice that told Francis “Rebuild my church.”
Well, if you step back from the statue of Francis and stand behind it, and look at it from a particular angle, between St. Francis’s outstretched arms you see the Lateran Basilica. He appears to be holding it up with his hands.
It’s a great image – and a great lesson.
A church building is brick and mortar, wood and glass. But – ultimately – it is supported by the arms and the labor of those who love it.
Ultimately, it is people.
It is you. It is me.
“You are God’s building,” Paul writes to the Corinthians. “You are the temple of God and the Spirit dwells in you.”
And it is up to us to keep the spirit – and to spread it – and to help it to dwell in others.
This Sunday, we’re marking “Stewardship Sunday” or “Commitment Sunday.” You’ll be seeing a short movie about that at the end of mass. I think it shows in a beautiful way how our arms support this church – how we all, together, lift it up to God. And how we then become God’s building, His dwelling place. Indeed, when we receive the Eucharist, as we will in a few moments, we become living tabernacles.
And it all begins here, in this tabernacle, this temple of God.
Many of you may remember Gene Flood, a longtime parishioner here. Gene was an important part of this parish’s history: he was the first baby baptized in this church. And nearly eight decades later, at his funeral here, his casket was sprinkled with holy water from the same font in which he was baptized. It was a beautiful reminder of how we mark so much of our sacramental lives within these walls. From baptisms to funerals and a thousand moments in between.
We are church. But this church, in ways large and small, is us. It is where we measure and mark our lives. And it becomes a part of us.
But there is one part that cannot be emphasized enough.
In his autobiography, Thomas Merton wrote, “I thought churches were simply places where people got together and sang a few hymns…and yet now I tell you, it is the Sacrament…Christ living in our midst…it is He alone who holds our world together.”
That is what this is really all about. That’s why we are here. That’s why we have the youth programs and the choir and RCIA and pastoral care and all the things that stewardship supports. It is to ensure that this sacrament, Christ living in our midst, continues to hold our world together through all that the parish does, all our ministers do, all that we do, together.
We do it because of this: the One who draws us to this sacred place. The One who nourishes our hopes, and who calms our fears, and who makes of each of us – with all our flaws and imperfections – his tabernacle.
It is all because of Christ in the Eucharist.
Remember that. Cherish that. And celebrate it.
Because when all is said and done, that is really what we are supporting. And it is, by the grace of God, where and how we will find our salvation.
Our prayer should be that we do that with joy, and with zeal and — like that statue of St. Francis shows — with open arms and open hearts.
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Friday, November 2, 2018
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
We gather in this church to celebrate our brothers and sisters who welcomed the love of God into their hearts and who are blessed or happy living in His love. As Pope Francis explained: “happiness is not having something or becoming someone, but true happiness is being with the Lord and living for love.” The saints of the Church are those who were poor by worldly standards, yet rich in holiness, mercy, and peace. The ingredients to their saintly life were the Beatitudes, first taught by Our Lord on a mount near the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Saints are humble persons who make room for God, who know how to weep for others and for their own errors, who fight for justice, who are merciful toward all, who guard the purity of heart, who always work for peace, remain in joy, and respond to evil with good.
Jesus shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken, from birth in a stable in Bethlehem to his death on the Cross on Calvary. In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and journey with him along the path of the love of His Father. It is not an easy journey, yet Our Lord promised his grace and presence. The secret of the saints is that they lived their life, single-hearted, in Christ’s love and promise. They weren’t perfect--like we aren’t perfect--but they allowed God to touch their lives.
If we take one of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure or single-hearted, for they shall see God,” we can begin to understand why they were joyful living in God’s love. Our heart is the seat of our thoughts, desires, and motives. We have many loves, priorities, and longings, and they pull us away from the true joy of being with God. What if we had single-hearted devotion to God? Would we make a courageous choice for God over all of our conflicting wants and desires?
Jesus invites us to take seriously the life of Beatitudes and to decide which path we will choose. He asks us every day whether we want to follow him or to choose another path. When Jesus asked Peter that question, he replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Can we, too, make a single-hearted effort to choose the path of Jesus through our actions, prayers, and service?