Friday, May 30, 2014

Photos for Coast to Coast

Photo 1 -- upper RIGHT part of page...

photo 2 ...lower LEFT part of page...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Keep my Commands, John 14:15 (2014-05-25)

[__01__]       In the Gospel this Sunday, our Lord and Savior is speaking – continuing a conversation – with the apostles at the Last Supper.

In this section of the Gospel about the Last Supper, Jesus equates – makes a connection between – compliance and love … between observance of the commandments and love.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)

Is there, however, always a connection between – compliance and love … between observance of the commandments and love?

In our own lives, we may not necessarily connect the two …

[__02__]       For example, I may keep the commands or follow the rules for reasons other than love … a reason other than deep respect.

Consider that we may have a supervisor, a teacher, a principal … a person from whom we receive rules/commands to follow.

We may follow the rules, even though we lack intimacy, or do not feel close to the person.

On the one hand, we outwardly follow the rules … just so that we can be seen – observed doing so.

In this sense, we are not really following these commands – freely and by our own desire – we are just doing so … to avoid a penalty or to gain some immediate reward.

Then, there is another alternative.

[__03__]   That is, we care for someone, we feel affection and love for someone… but we do not really follow his or her wishes or commands.

Is this, sometimes, true in our relationships with our closest family members, parents, spouses?

We may, for example, avoid doing what the other person wants… we avoid making compromises to please the other person.

We try to get our way rather than to give way…

On the road of life, we are not yielding to traffic … and we may also be exceeding the speed limit.

In this regard, we are “outwardly” – or externally saying I Love You … but we are not really backing up this love by our willingness to serve or follow the commands of another person.

[__04__]     It is difficult to LOVE and to FOLLOW COMMANDS.

We might prefer to have one without the other.

Can we do both?

[__05__]     In this relationship with us, the Lord asks not only about our outward observance but also about our intentions, the intentions of our hearts.

[__06__]    Consider the parable of the 2 sons, both of whom are sent to work in their father’s vineyard.

The first son says “outwardly” … I love you, but never goes to the vineyard to start working.

The second son says outwardly … “I’m not going” … but changes his mind, changes his intention and starts working ... he is discovering a loving intention.

St. John of the Cross is famous for this saying…

“Donde no hay amor, pon amor y
sacarĂ¡s amor.”  Or in English…

Where there is no love, put love and you will draw out love.

In order to follow the commandments, we not only pray for the wisdom to know what to do.. but also the strength to carry out the commandments… and to put love… even when we do not feel love.

[__07__]      Isn’t this the challenge for husbands and wives in their service to each other…

For mothers and fathers in service to their children…. For children in service to their parents… for all of us…

We are called to follow the commandments for each other… not for a legal obligation, but for a loving commitment.

Jesus is encouraging us to see all of our responsibilities, commitments, all of the commandments as opportunities to express our love.

Doing so, we are growing closer, more intimate with each other …and with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by whom these commands are not written on paper, on stone, but in our hearts.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lourdes 50th Anniversary of Dedication (2014-05-18)

5th Sunday May 18, 2014  (5th Sunday Easter)
At the Sat. 5:30 pm Mass + Sunday 11:30 am Mass with Bishop Edgar da Cunha presiding

Title:   Lourdes 50th Anniversary of Dedication

[__01__]       This Sunday, we observe the 5th Sunday of Easter, with a Gospel about homecoming, of reunion in heaven. Jesus says,

“in my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places, if there were not, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)   Our future hope and reunion in heaven.

[__01.01__]       This Sunday, we also observe, the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, in this building.  And, we read this in the white banner to the right of the altar.

In November of this year, we observe 100 years as a parish.

Today is 50 years in this our spiritual home, around this altar.

[__02__]       Anniversaries, centennials, birthdays, remind us not only to ..

  • Consider the past – to number our days and our years already experienced…
  • Consider the future – to ask the Lord to make his plans known to us.

In this Gospel reading, Philip is anxious – focused on the past - because he does not know what it means to dwell in the Father’s house.

He does not know where Jesus is going.

When we reach, certain significant birthdays, centennials, we might at times … feel confused, bewildered, uncertain.

In this bewilderment and uncertainty, we are called to pray for God’s direction and plan for the future… and we are also called to give thanks for the people in our lives through whom we have received our gifts.

On this parish 50th anniversary, we give thanks for you …all of you, the dear people of God of Our Lady of Lourdes …and we gave thanks for those whom
we have known in this church as servants, as God’s workers in the including the principals of Our Lady of Lourdes School and our teachers. The principals over the years include –
  • Sister Stella Joseph
  • Sister Stella Maurice
  • Sister Joseph Marie
  • Sister Alice Teresa
  • Sister Anna Raphael
  • Sister Francis Xavier
  • Sister M. Rachel
  • Sister Anne William
  • Sister Joan Woods – who is also here with us today
  • Sister Catherine Marita
  • Mrs. Mary Cassels – who remains a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

we have also known in this church as servants, as God’s workers in the vineyard of Our Lady of Lourdes … our clergy and pastors including –

  • Father Nicholas A. Marnell (1st pastor)
  • Father Joseph P. Connor
  • Father Hugh J. Fitzsimmons
  • Father Florence C. Mahoney (2nd pastor)
  • Father Edward C. Higgins
  • Father Thomas J. Walsh
  • Father Gerald P. Ruane
  • Father John T. Lawlor (3rd pastor)
  • Father Robert Daly
  • Father Eugene C. McCoy
  • Father Peter M. Cutillo
  • Father John G. Judge
  • Father John T. Hank
  • Father Kevin A. Kortina
  • Father Gerald A. Marchand (4th pastor)
  • Father Michael H. Hansen
  • Father Nicholas Figurelli (5th Pastor)
  • Father Jim Chern
  • Myself .. Father Jim Ferry
  • Father Bob Suszko
  • Father Edson Costa

… and the beloved recently deceased clergy of the parish – Deacon Ernest Abad and Monsignor Joe Petrillo.

These are servants, our brothers, for whom we give thanks on this, our 50th anniversary.  

But, isn’t it true that each of them would invite us to look forward, to go forward on this 50th anniversary.

[__03__]   Of course, if we were to feel lost or alone, we would be inclined to look back, to reminisce, to remember.

Philip, the apostle, at the Last Supper, is reminiscing.

The Lord is reminding us that when we serve him, surrender him, even repent of our sins and faults, we not simply doing this to account for the future.

We are repenting and examining ourselves not simply to be free of the past but to experience true freedom in the future.

Yes, we may experienced – at times – injustice, sinfulness, brokenness … but as St. Paul writes to Philippi, there are also blessings mixed with times of sorrow.

Paul identifies that there are good things to be recovered even in times of sadness and sorrow so that we grow in goodness and love – and freedom - ourselves.

Paul writes --  “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

This remembrance – and recollection and thanksgiving – is part of our path to peace.

[__04__]    Monsignor Joe Petrillo, with whom I served here at Lourdes had a particular fondness for nostalgia, for history, and for – as many of us and his dear friends know – storytelling.

I think inclination was always with him… even his regular hours of ministry and meetings.

Were you ever at parish council with Father Joe?  At a school board meeting with Monsignor?  At finance council gathering?

He took plentiful, copious notes at these.

Monsignor had trained himself, to be diligent about keeping a record. This was not just an act of nostalgia for him but also a way to affirm, recognize, and love the people in his life.

Still…his notebooks and binders kind of heavy with many pages … and they are weighty objects.

[__05__]    Monsignor Joe also had a way of orienting himself and others toward the future.

One particular way was his method of writing and delivering the announcements at the end of Sunday Mass.

I can still remember one the first times I heard him.  If there had been, say, 3 events on successive days at the end of the upcoming week, he would list them chronologically..but in reverse.

  • 1st … the Friday event…
  • 2nd … the Thursday event…
  • 3rd … the Wednesday event..

Unfailing, he adhered to this reverse chronology.  It was his way of not only focusing on the future, but also on what we have to do next.. what we are called to do immediately.

[__06__]   And, isn’t this also the message of Easter? To tell of the Lord’s resurrection, immediately, today.

It is the hope of Father Edson and me, for all of us, that we – our parish of Lourdes – will be messengers of the Lord today, of his mercy, and his direction … the direction and destination mentioned at the Last Supper to Philip and the apostles.

So, if we – at this altar at 1 Eagle Rock Avenue – have known Jesus’s love and sacrifice in the Eucharist, then we have seen the Father…and we will recognize the Father’s house and mercy when we arrive.

[__06__]   On this 50th anniversary, we also recall the gift of our faith and worship, that  bring us to celebrate not only our heritage but also our hope.

Our hope is not only for the future but also for the eternal present of the Son of God alive in the Resurrection and Easter … in this house…

“this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Good Shepherd (2014-05-11)

[__01__]       This Sunday, we read the Gospel of the Good Shepherd:

“the shepherd [Jesus our Savior] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out …” (John 10:__)

The sheep are being led and moved.

Movement and mobility are necessary for the survival of the sheep, of the flock.

In one geographical area, the sheep will find the nourishment of the green grass, but eventually they will move on to a new place to be nourished.

The lost sheep parable of the Gospel Book of Luke tells us that a shepherd will seek out the 1%, the one lost sheep out of a hundred.

Now, when we think of the one lost sheep, we might tend to think of the bottom 1%, the one who is lost, the one with many faults.

We think of the times when we feel sorry for ourselves.

But, sometimes, that 1 lost sheep out of 100 is the 1% that the Occupy Wall Street movement spoke of. That is, the 1% at the top.

[__02.01_-Z-_]   For example, Zacchaeus is part of this 1%.  He has climbed to the top of the ladder with profit taking.  The tax collector is one who is on the move.

He also climbed to the top of a tree in Jericho. Jesus brings him down from there, into the community.

[__02.02_-J&J-_]   James and John the apostles are also part of the 1%. They are on the move with ambition.

Do they, perhaps, resemble those in professional football, the NFL owners and general manages, analyzing and scheming during the NFL draft?  Who should be the # 1 draft / first round draft pick? Who is the greatest among them?

Consider the brothers, James and John. They come to the Lord expecting signing-bonuses and contract-guarantees with places at his right and left in the kingdom of heaven.

To the brothers, James and John, Jesus challenges them… wondering if they have spoken to an agent…

He asks, “are you able to drink the cup that I drink or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)

In other words, to be a disciple – even if we are in the elite 1% -- to imitate Christ the Good Shepherd in our own Christian service and Catholic life, we are called to accept …

  • To accept difficulty
  • To accept sacrifice
  • To accept the cross
  • To love the difficult person

This message brought James and John back into the community of the disciples.

[__03__]   Movement and mobility are necessary for survival. Our Lord, however, is asking us not only to consider our need to move, but also to move together as a community and together in faith with him.

[__03.01_-la naturaleza_]    Driving around West Orange [the “West of Orange”] and Essex County, we are not very likely to encounter the movement of a sheep herd.
However, perhaps, in the WEST of Ireland, or Texas, or the plateau of Haiti or Ecuador or Bolivia, we would encounter a herder or a guide with his or her sheep, cows, cattle.

Isn’t it remarkable how these animals can coexist on the same road with motorcycles, cars, bicycles, trucks?

Crossing from one green meadow or to another, they do so with the unity of the flock and the leadership of the shepherd.

Around here … in Eagle Rock Reservation, South Mountain Reservation and the surrounding roads, things are different.

The deer, the wild turkeys, the bear … they move about, often as individuals or in very small groups. They certainly need to move. It’s crucial to their survival, to their search for food. But, they move at their peril, in danger. Their home and ecosystem is much less stable and secure.

For you and me… are we living in the wild, the wilderness? Or living in the community of the flock?

*** Pause ***

[__04__]   Movement is necessary for our survival too.

Isn’t this also true in our families, in our lives with our mothers whom we honor today in the month of May and the month of our Blessed Mother Mary?

Mothers enable their children to move… this could be physical movement.. but also emotional movement, to express themselves – intellectually, emotionally, with the movements of the heart and mind.

A mother not only knows her child by name but also anticipates his or her next move.

At times, mothers are able to step in .. at times, not. But, nevertheless, isn’t it part of the responsibility and instinct of a mother to know her child’s moves and patterns.

Our mothers have not only been concerned with our he present but also with our future.

Mothers pray for reunion, for reconciliation with children to whom they may be separated due to tragedy, to circumstance …

A mother’s love reflects God’s love for eternity.

[__05__]   We survive by continuing to move.

Thus, our calling – our baptism – our initiation – reminds to accept first that we are sinners and are in need of repentance, conversion. This is one of our first movements.

By these acts of humility, we allow God to call us by name.

By turning away from sin, from injustice we are tuning in to God’s voice.

By trying to love and lay down our lives for the other person, for another person, we are imitating Jesus the Good Shepherd.

As shepherd Jesus knows our name and anticipates our next move, hoping that our next move will be to turn to him in prayer so that he can help us to find the gate, to find the door to verdant green pasture and to restful waters beside him.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hide and Seek (Part 2) (2014-05-04)

[__01__]       The season of the resurrection for the first disciples was a time of hiding.

And, in last Sunday’s Gospel, we observe them in their hideout of the Upper Room, the place of the Last Supper.

Last Sunday, the disciples were in hiding…

This Sunday, we might say that Jesus himself is in hiding …or at least not fully visible / recognized.

[__02__]     On the one hand, Jesus is walking – publicly on a road, on the road to Emmaus. He is out in broad daylight for others to see him, his clothing, his face.

Yet, the two disciples do not recognize him at first.  Is he simply undercover?

Is this a test? We have seen – or heard about these undercover tests undertaken by executives trying to learn about what their employees really do (“Undercover Boss”) or … in one recent case… a celebrity actor who is not realizing how hidden he really is…

For example, about a week or so ago, the Hollywood actor, Richard Gere, put on ordinary clothing, went to the streets of New York to be on location – in New York at Grand Central Station – to film a movie.

Mr. Gere was doing his scene as a homeless and hungry person..and going through some discarded items…

Now, on the same street was a family from Paris… French tourists. They did not realize that they had stumbled onto a film shoot on location ..and that Mr. Gere was not a hungry resident of the streets.

So, a member of the family approaches Mr. Gere and offers him food…

And, on tape, we see that his identity – his famous face – is ignored.  A point that you and I may be tempted – or may actually do – ignore the identity of suffering and impoverished people.

We travel past them in a way similar to the rich man of the parable in the Gospel of Luke. That is, this is the rich man who leaps and jumps over Lazarus at his doorstep. Maybe, he was just going out the door to pick up the Star-Ledger newspaper…how did he miss Lazarus?

[__03__]     God calls us to be charitable, generous … but first we are called to recognize – to identify – to call by name the person we are helping.

In a way, this incident with Richard Gere proved many of us might give …but we might also not stop to say hello or get to know the person.
[__04__]      In the Gospel of the road to Emmaus, is Jesus actually hidden?

We might observe that Jesus starts out visible – in broad daylight… but then, suddenly, in the moment of the breaking of the bread, he is hidden. He vanishes from before the 2 disciples.

[__05__]     Brothers and sisters – boys and girls – This is also the miracle of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

For this your First Communion day, you have studied, you have learned about Jesus, about his birth, Christmas at Bethlehem, his miracles, his willigness to die on the cross. Jesus makes himself visible.

Yet, this Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion, is also given to us to remain hidden.

Now, I don’t mean that you and I hide our Catholic or Christian identity.

Rather, I mean that -- receiving Jesus – in First Communion – we allow our life and his life to be hidden together, to be mixed together.

Boys and girls – remember that God loves you and wants to hide himself in your heart, in your mind.  Receiving the body and blood of Christ, he becomes hidden – his life is hidden within us.

[__06__]     A very traditional way of praying as Catholics is that we hide or come before the Blessed Sacrament in a private conversation with our Lord and Savior.

We can do this at Mass or before/after Mass … or, especially, any time that we come into the church building. We believe that the Lord dwells here, hides here so that we might carry his love…

To the road on the road to Emmaus, on the road to school, to home…and on the road to our salvation and home in heaven with him.