Monday, June 16, 2014

How Many Are You? / Trinity Sunday (2014-06-15)

[__01__]   How many are you?  How many will you be?

This is the question we would be asked if we were to sign up for a table reservation, if were to rent a room or apartment…or if were to come to the Lourdes parish picnic.

How many are you? And… can you play goalkeeper, defense, midfield … can you score?  This would be the question about the soccer game.

Nevertheless, how many are you?

[__02__]    “How many are you”  / How many persons are you is also a question related to this Sunday, to Trinity Sunday?

It may seem to be a quiz show/Jeopardy style response to Christian doctrine.  That is, we are familiar with this style of answering in the form of a question à If the answer is “trinity” the question is à who are the three persons of God?

“I’ll take Christian doctrine and teaching for five hundred.”

[__03__]   We believe that the 3 persons of God are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Through baptism, confirmation, and Holy Eucharist, this trinity of persons dwells within us.

How many are you?  The trinity of God dwells within each of us.

[__04__]    This means that all of us – parish priests , parish leaders, staff, sisters, religious, members of commiteees, the finance council, the parish council … in all of our building, rebuilding, fundraising efforts  for our parish anniversary of 100 years in West Orange … all of this is God’s project.

Lourdes just happens to the home field, home stadium in which we “play”– and also work and labor.

As we read in Psalm 127 about construction of both our home and the church –

“if the Lord does  not build the house, in vain do the builders labor.” (Psalm 127:1)

[__05__]   How many are you? How many are we?

The Lord builds the house – and works with each of – not only as a single helper, but as trinity – a team – of 3 persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

These 3 are often right behind us, trying to pass through the door, the street, the conversation in which we happen to be inhabiting… or one of these trinity-team-persons may trying to pass something – some virtue, grace, mercy, element of integrity and honesty to you and to me.

This does not mean the Trinity is trying to overwhelm us or pass us by, but rather to work through us and in us.

How many are we?

[__06__]    First ..there is God, the Father.

CCC 239 àBy calling God "Father", the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood,(Isaiah 66:13, Psalm 131:2) which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. The language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God—“we learn about the mystery of the trinity at home as well… ” for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard(Psalm 27:10, Ephesians 3:14, Isaiah 49:15) no one is father as God is Father.”
God the Father, as creator things seen and unseen, visible and invisible, calls us also to be attentive both the visible and the invisible.

To have confidence in God’s invisible providence when we feel anxious, uncertain about the VISIBLE difficulties, and struggles.

How many are you ? How many am I?

We are 1 plus three persons.

[__07__]    Also present in the Trinity, are the God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

The presence of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

That is, Jesus the Son gives himself – or as we read in John 3:16 à “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that all who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

This gift is delivered through the death and resurrection of our Lord.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.

However, his death was not the end. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus not only breathed his last.. but also breathed his Holy Spirit upon us, gives up his Holy Spirit to us.

This is also the challenge to all of us.

[__08__]    The Kingdom of God is located, built, and rebuilt in our families when we die to ourselves, repent of our sins… and seek God’s grace.

Not only as individuals ..but also as individuals in relationship with God.

We allow him – as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – to pass through us and work through us.

How many are we ...  [__fin__]    

Monday, June 9, 2014

Interpretation / Pentecost Sunday (2015-06-08)

[__01__]    “We hear them speaking in our own tongues –- in our own languages] -- of the mighty acts of God.”  (Acts 2:11)

[__02__]       Intepretation – or translation – into new languages - is action of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Perhaps, at one time or another, we have had the experience of giving someone instructions through a translator or through an interpreter.

This does not only happen at the White House or the United Nations during meetings of diplomats, presidents, and prime ministers.

We might rely on an interpreter at a doctor’s office for a diagnosis or in Penn Station for directions. In such a situation, a person – makes sense of our sentences and words, makes sense of what we are saying. Or, the interpreter would make sense of what someone is telling you and me.

[__03__]    At the same time, the interpreter or translator does not necessarily want to be recognized or noticed…

I recall a situation, years ago, in which I made the faux pas – the error of social grace – in a formal setting by turning all of my attention to the interpreter …. When I should have been focusing on the listener… I was a guest in someone’s home.

The interpreter reminded me to turn my attention to my host…

Of course, this would not happen at the White House.   Who would notice the interpreter on the 11:00 news broadcast of a meeting between the President or Secretary of State and an official from Japan or Argentina?

The interpreter in such a case probably is not even on camera. The interpreter is in the background.

[__04__]       Is the Holy Spirit in the background ?   The Holy Spirit, as interpreter – as Advocate – seems to make a different entrance on Pentecost Sunday.

What we read in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, is the surround-sound and special-effects arrival of the Holy Spirit, high audible volume, bright visual illumination.

[__05__]      Though fire is present, this fire is not an emergency call.

We read that the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire to rest, to rest gently on each one of them.

[__06__]     Is it not a relief – a reason to rest and trust – knowing that a person fluent in another language can interpret our thoughts and words?
In fact, the opposite is quite exhausting.

Perhaps, some of us had the experience of being immersed in an entirely new language. It is physically exhausting to spend oneself in such an environment.

It may take months or years until we feel comfortable. The interpret makes life easier.

[__07__]       Pentecost Sunday invites us to be at peace and at prayer, knowing the Holy Spirit can help our words – and our intentions be known to others.

Consider that the disciples were not learning a new language… they were simply being heard in a different language.

They were not being forced to change their beliefs …but were simply communicating these beliefs to people otherwise unable to understand.

[__08__]     Pentecost Sunday reminds us that even the words we cannot say perfectly to another person… may not necessarily be lost … or be a dropped call.

Even at times, when we feel rejected, there may be some element of our goodness – and good intention – still translated and transmitted.

We are called to trust that the Holy Spirit will make our love, mercy, intentions heard in the languages that others can understand – whether is this the language barrier between … 2 spouses, parent and child, neighbors …
The Holy Spirit helps us to be heard, even while we speak in our own particular way, in our own language.

[__09_-PRE CANA_]    Today, we also make this prayer for couples preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony.

This morning our Pre-Cana team including married couples from both St. Joseph’s and Our Lady of Lourdes hosted a day of Pre-Cana for engaged couples in Connor Hall. They join us at Mass tonight for prayer.

We pray that the Holy Spirit will also be their interpreter, their guide, to make their love known to each other, in both spoken and unspoken ways.

[__10_-Sisters of Charity_]      This Sunday, we also welcome, Sister Geraldine O’Brien – from Convent Station, from the Sisters of Charity. This weekend, we take a special 2nd collection for the retired Sisters of Charity who have served as teachers and religious at Our Lady of Lourdes school and parish … for many of us, have also been our first teachers… of grammar, words, sentences … on paper, on Pentecost, and in prayer – to trust the ways of God and the Holy Spirit.

Sister Gerry…. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

7th Sunday of Easter (2014-06-01)

[__01__]    Glory to God in the Highest.

Glory to God in the Highest.    

This introductory prayer of Sunday Mass reminds us of God’s power, splendor, reminds us to trust in God with our prayers and petitions.

[__02__]       In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus was speaking to his disciples – and to us – at the Last Supper, praying to our heavenly Father, saying..

“I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work you gave me to do. Now, glorify me, Father with you with the glory that I had with you before the world began. ” (John 17:__)

Glorification, glory, was our Savior’s objective. And, he introduces this objective – this goal – to us.


[__03__]    How do you and I understand or experience GLORIFICATION, glory…

Which is defined on the one hand as …

(1)   the praise, honor, or distinction extended – made possible – by common consent….

This is the praise gained on the Olympic track, the NHL/Madison Square Garden ice rink, or the soccer field.

This is the glory associated with a gold medal, Stanley Cup, or World Cup.

To be glorified in this way, one is competing and then commonly – popularly – acclaimed.

In this regard, glory is something placed upon the winner … similar to the hats and t-shirts that read “world champions” … or to the blizzard of confetti / paper after the buzzer.

Glory is something that we get …

[__04__]      On the other hand, Glory could be something that we give…that we give away.

This is the Christian life, the Christian calling.. we give glory rather than gain/get glory…

[__05__]      Jesus is introducing us to a new definition of glory, one based not on competition but on communion with the Holy Spirit, in allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in and form our decisions, and guide our consciences.

There is a reward in doing so, in accepting God’s ways… but it may not be the reward we are expecting that whatever we do, we are called to work at with our whole heart, as working for the Lord and not for human masters. (cf. Colossians 3:23).

[__06__]    Are we not inclined to define our work, our goals, and its glory based on the reward we receive today, from “human masters”… or from the

  • teaching grading our paper or exam
  • admissions board reviewing our application
  • manager reviewing our work

[__07__]      In the Book of Proverbs, we read, “all hard work brings a profit but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)

And, in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, we read, “all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Yes, the Lord is calling us to glory, and to perfection. Yet, we are called to be careful about what this glory and perfection is ..

We may think that glory is manifested or attained by what we get back or gain…

  • high score
  • Stanley Cup
  • “thank you”

While all of the above are gratifying..they are not our true glory… our true glory is defined by what we give, by the love we share, by what we give to God in prayer in action and what we give to others.

Glory to God in the highest.


Ascension Thursday (29 May 2014)

[__01__]   In many scientific endeavors, the measurement of distance is important.   

This is true whether a person happens to be astronomer gazing at the stars, or the apostle gazing at the ascension and departure of our Savior.

The scientist does not simply want to identify that there is a planet or a star. He or she also wants to know how far away it is. With telescopes, light waves, radio waves, the scientist measures exactly.

Now, of course, we might wonder – or ask – is this mileage or calculation a useful number, useful data?

Very few of us – even very few pilots – will ever climb to such an altitude or distance beyond our own planet.

Nevertheless, these distances are measured -- and the distances are useful – even if we were never to leave the surface of the earth.

The distance, for example, of the sun to the earth indicates important characteristics of our climate.

The distance between the earth and the moon is important for the gravitational pull and ocean waves. Recall that during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the tidal surge was greater due to a full moon phase.  

An exact distance – even over the course of hundreds of thousands of miles – is important information.

[__02__]        What we read in the Gospel of the Feast of the Ascension – on Ascension Thursday – 40 days since Easter Sunday – is the calculation, the estimation of certain disciples by the disciples of Galilee.

They are gazing into the sky. (cf. Acts 1:11)

Perhaps, they are similar to Philip the Apostle at the Last Supper, wondering how to get to the place to which Jesus had gone. 

Jesus himself had said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:3)

Philip was wondering where – how far away – this place would be.

[__03__]   The distance between oneself and the Lord is important.

Nevertheless, we also read of the challenge made by the angels to the disciples of Galilee, “why do you look up into the sky?” (cf. Acts 1:11)

[__04__]      Yes, it is important to find Jesus and to know the distance between and ourselves and our Savior.
However, this distance, is not measured in miles, kilometers, or light years.

Jesus, though having ascended to the Father, is not in a galaxy far, far away.

[__05__]     We are called to ask and to examine ourselves, to understand the distance that may exist between ourselves and the Lord because of our own journeys and travels.

Consider … my or your –

SPEEDtraveling faster might seem more productive. But we should also ask ourselves – are we being hasty? Prudent? In which direction am I headed?

COMFORT – having comfort – on a journey is preferable to not having comfort. First Class is better than economy, is it not? Yet, at the same time, we also might ask if our comfort level also places us at a spiritual disadvantage – or distance.

When we are a bit uncomfortable, sometimes, we are also recognize more clearly God’s ways, God’s route versus my route.

TRAVELING COMPANIONS – with whom I traveling, sharing my journey, my struggles? Do I seek out friendships, relationships with those who are honest? Candid?

Do I accept the word and counsel form someone willing to tell me the truth, even if I would prefer to move a high speed in a different direction or seek a way more comfortable?

Examining our lives, we can also imitate the early disciples, for whom intimacy with our Savior was possible not because they measured a physical distance but because they discovered the nearness and the closeness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.