Saturday, July 14, 2018

15th Sunday OT @ St. Helena, St. Apollinaris

JULY 14 / 15, 2018
5:00 PM (SAT), 8:00 AM, 11:00 AM (ST. HELENA)

Originally formed in 1968, the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills, and Nash – or sometimes Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young – have recorded 8 studio albums, 5 live albums, 6 compilation albums, 4 video albums, and 19 singles. They music is noteworthy for it’s intricate vocal harmonies and influence on contemporary music. As a group, they are remembered for their tumultuous interpersonal relationships and political activism.

One of their biggest hits, written by Stephen Stills, is titled Suite: Judy Blue Eyes – and consists of four movements, the fourth being a short stanza in Spanish with the back-up vocalists intoning “doo-doo-doo-da-doo” during this coda final verse.

The song is memorializes the imminent breakup between Stills and female artist Judy Collins.

In the second movement – where the tempo slows down to half of the other up-beat sections – almost like a mantra – we hear the phrases “what have I got to lose” or “what have you got to lose” repeated nearly half a dozen times.

Despite its popularity, it ranks #418 among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – with the Sunday falling on July 15.

Our first reading is from the Prophet Amos – historically the first of the twelve minor prophets – pretty much being “shown the door” by the wicked priest Amaziah. Amos is outside of his homeland, preaching to the Northern Kingdoms, and trying to get across a message of social justice, God's almighty power, and divine judgment.

What does he have to lose? The worst that can happen to him is that he gets to go home to the Southern Kingdom and the Land of Judah.

Amaziah, on the other hand, would have to get rid of the false gods he was promoting, and the false worship – the consequences of which, Amos was trying to warn him and the people about.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends out the Twelve Apostles. His instructions to them are to head out with only the barest of human necessities – but well-equipped with the power and the authority of God.

They may only have the sandals on their feet and the tunic on their backs and a walking stick, but they have been given divine power over evil and illness.

From a material perspective: What do they have to lose?

Finally, St. Paul in the opening of the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of the riches of God bestowed on us as Christians. Not only do we have  “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” but we are to be “chosen . . . holy . . .” and blameless. We are loved and adopted by God “through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of [God’s] will” and are forgiven and redeemed “in accord with the riches of [God’s] grace”.

These spiritual riches, as well as knowledge and wisdom of God’s mysteries, are ours in abundance through Christ Jesus Our Lord.

With such an abundance of spiritual wealth – what can the world offer us?

Our inheritance is found in our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. We have everything we need to foster and build this relationship.

At the end of Mark’s 8th chapter, we hear:
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.
What do we have to lose if we turn our back on Christ?


As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – let us pray that we might recognize the passing nature of this world, and the eternal riches offered to us as children of God. May the Eucharist we receive today nourish us and enlighten us to follow Christ Jesus . . . always and everywhere . . . He who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

14th Sunday OT @ St. Helena

JULY 7 / 8, 2018

Laurence Overmire is a contemporary American writer, poet, and activist.

In 2012, he published a book titled The One Idea That Saves The World which puts forth a call to unity. Prior to that he wrote poetry, seeing it as a means to reflect on his life, and calling it “a diary in art.” He called poetry “the art of using language to transcend language.

A quote attributed to Overmire that seems to be making the rounds is:
Expect nothing and accept everything and you will never be disappointed.
While that may sound a bit dark, if one considers that expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future;” for the most part, attempting to predict the future can create heaps of disappointments. Prognostication, while perhaps entertaining in part, can be a source of much regret.

Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the first reading, just before what we have heard read today, Ezekiel has just experienced a powerful vision – so powerful that it knocks him down. He has seen angels, and wheels, a throne, and brilliant fire and light. And it is from this vision in first chapter of his prophecy that we get the images or icons for the four Gospels: A lion for Mark, a man for Matthew, an ox for Luke, and an eagle for John.

Yet, now that the vision has passed – and Ezekiel has literally been knocked over by what he has seen – he get’s no time to rest … no time to process all of this. Rather, despite whatever expectations he had in the midst of this glorious and awe-inspiring vision, he is sent out on a difficult mission to speak the Word of God to the rebellious and obstinate people of Israel.

St. Paul speaks of “a thorn in the flesh” which pummeled him. And despite his expectation that God was going to heal him – at least according to Paul’s will – God’s will is that Paul learn the perfection of God’s power and grace through suffering “for the sake of Christ” realizing in this that “when [he] is weak, then [he] is strong” – because only then can he show forth “the power of Christ . . . dwell[ing] in [him].”

In the Gospel, Jesus returns to His hometown, only to find that the people take “offense at Him” – because He is not what they expect. They think they know him, yet what they know is nothing more than a false expectation – which keeps them from receiving true Faith . . . so much so that the Gospel tells us that Jesus “was amazed at their lack of faith.

As a corollary, in the episode of the healing of the centurion’s servant – which is not found in Mark’s Gospel, but is only in Matthew and Luke – Jesus was “amazed” at the Faith of the centurion.

We commemorate this at every Holy Mass when we echo the words of the centurion saying: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof . . .

This is not for us to expect nothing, but rather for us to model our own Faith on the amazing Faith of this Roman official.

And, indeed, no matter our circumstances, provided we live “for the sake of Christ [Jesus],” and provided that through the transforming grace of the Sacraments we allow the “power of Christ [to] dwell with[in us,]” we will experience that power in the mighty works of God in our own lives.

When we allow our expectations to sell ourselves short of God’s glory . . . or worse – allow our limited expectations to sell God short – even to the point of losing Faith, we will struggle in this “valley of tears” and miss out on our birth right as sons and daughters of God most high.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, let us pray for a deeper outpouring of the baptismal virtue of Faith. Or perhaps we should pray for an amazing outpouring of this supernatural grace – to transform us beyond our own expectations and rather to accept the infinite graces and power of God into our lives.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Most Precious Blood @ Holy Family Rutherford

JULY 1, 2018

Today we celebrate the First Class Feast of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The feast was initially commemorated on the Friday of Fourth Week of Lent.

In 1849, the Blessed Pope Pius IX fled Rome during an uprising. A truce was signed on July 1; and in honor of a restoration of peace, the Holy Father extended the Feast of the Precious Blood to all of Christendom.

Later that year, he included it in the General Roman Calendar for the first Sunday in July; and in a simplification of the calendar, it was moved to July 1.

Pope Saint John XXIII raised it to the level of first class, and in the revised Missal of 1969, it was removed … and reduced to a votive Mass.

In the middle of the 15th century, Franciscans and Dominicans – in the presence of Pope Pius II – debated whether the Precious Blood was an essential part, or merely a concomitant part of Our Lord’s sacred humanity. One hundred years later, the Council of Trent stated that the Precious Blood was indeed part of Christ the Lord. (I don’t know if the debate was an error in theology or biology, but I’m glad it’s been settled.)

Closely associated with the Sacred Heart – which is sometimes devotionally referred to as the “wine cellar of the Precious Blood.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI spoke in England in 2010, saying: “The outpouring of Christ’s blood is the source of the Church’s life.” And that the Precious Blood is represented “by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice, gives new life to the Church.

The martyr comes from the Greek word for “witness,” and the Emeritus Holy Father encourages us to be “witnesses of the beauty of holiness, witnesses of the splendour of truth, witnesses of the joy and freedom born of a living relationship with Christ!

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – may we remain united to Him in His Mystical Body the Church … and may His Blood course through our veins … so that He may increase the Divine Life of Grace within us … more and more … each day.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

13th Sunday OT @ St. Helena, St. Apollinaris

JUNE 30 / JULY 1, 2018
5:00 PM (SAT), 8:00 AM (ST. HELENA)

Merriam-Webster defines “victory” as:
the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist;
achievement of mastery or success in a struggle

Mythology and history warn us of Cadmean victories and Phyrric victories – where winning the battle might mean losing the war; or where winning may result ultimately in a situation worse than losing.

We have all experienced wins and losses … and in spite of the ups and downs of life, we have all made it this far … and hope to continue into the near, if not the distant future … whatever that might bring.

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. And we hear from the second half of the fifth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel.

From the end of the fourth … and the entire fifth chapter of this Gospel cover four situations, all related to a struggle which ends in a victory.

Jesus calms a storm: showing His victory over danger.

Jesus cures a possessed man: showing His victory over demons.

Jesus cures a sick woman: showing His victory over disease.

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead: showing His ultimate victory … even over death itself.

The first reading from the Wisdom of Solomon reminds us that much of what we experience in this life comes from the choices we make. And that a life of righteousness – that is a right relationship with God – prepares us for safety, peace, health, and life.

St. Paul in the Second Letter to the Corinthians admonishes us to imitate Jesus’s life through a generosity of spirit, and by living out our Baptism through Faith, Hope, and Love.

In sharing His Divine Life with us, God gives us the opportunity to honor His gift by generously conforming ourselves to Christ and cooperating with the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s passion and death was not a Phyrric or Cadmean victory. Rather, His life – and especially His passion, death, and resurrection – show forth not only His obedience to the Father, but even more so, His enthusiastic, willing, and generous acceptance of His mission … doing whatever it might take … to come to the aid of sinful humanity and to repair the damage brought about by the folly of the devil.

Through His complete and total self-gift … and by His example … Christ Jesus attains the Victory for us … provided we are willing to choose Him … and Him alone … over everything else and anything else … that might distract us from God’s call on our lives.

Our generosity in our relationship with God in Christ is always rewarded by God’s generosity to us through the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If we hold back, God is still generous – but we will suffer the consequences of our own bad choices … which limit the action of God’s grace to work through, with, and in us … and to transform us … to transform our lives … and to transform our world.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … let us pray that we might be “all in” for God. Let us make a firm choice to live our lives for Jesus Christ … through Him, with Him, and in Him. Knowing that whatever may come our way, the ultimate victory is our in Christ Jesus Our Lord.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist @ St. Apollinaris, St. Helena, Holy Family

JUNE 24, 2018

Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

The Church only celebrates three “Nativities” – or “Birthdays:” Jesus’ birthday on Christmas, December 25; Mary’s birthday on September 8; and today, the birthday of St John the Baptist, June 24.

We all have a pretty good idea who St. John the Baptist was. The parish 10 minutes south of us near downtown Napa is named for St. John the Baptist. As is the parish nearly 90 minutes northwest in Healdsburg.

John the Baptist is also called the Forerunner or the Precursor … referring to his role in preparing the way for Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the confusion when John’s father does not want his son to be named after himself – but rather fulfills the Archangel’s command that he be named “John;” a name which means “God is gracious.” And how fulfilling that command frees Zechariah from the 9 month God-imposed silence … because he doubted the message of Gabriel.

The reading from Isaiah speaks of a servant whom God calls from before he was born. This text can be applied to Jesus, John the Baptist, or to any one of us. God calls all of us, and today we can reflect on the last of the prophets – St. John the Baptist.

Finally, in the second reading from Acts, we hear the beginning of the first recorded sermon of St. Paul.

This sermon of St. Paul’s, can be broken into three parts: preparation, declaration, and application.
In the first part, “preparation,” Paul speaks about how God prepared the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah. This part is easy. The Jewish people lived in a far away land, and were different than the Pagans. For his listeners, Paul was recounting history … about a people – a “they” – who lived in a distant land.

In the second part, “declaration,” Paul speaks about what God desires to do for anyone who will believe in Jesus and the Gospel. This would have gotten their attention – telling them what God is going to do for “you.” While the old adage says “it is better to give than to receive,” there is always excitement when someone gives “you” a gift.

And in the third part, Paul tells his listeners what it is that they need to do. Here is the hard part – what do “I” have to do … in order to receive the gift they must hear the Gospel, repent and believe, and be Baptized.

Here we see how Baptism was already an integral part of the early Church. Yet while John baptized to inspire his followers to repentance, the Baptism in the Church is in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – and is a baptism of regeneration … washing away sins, especially the stain of original sin.

One is symbol – brought by the forerunner; the other is Sacrament – given by God’s graciousness.
And so, today we honor St. John the Baptist, and commend ourselves to his intercession.

May we, who receive today the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … in recalling our own Baptism, pray for true repentance. And may the graces we receive in this Eucharist today strengthen our resolve to persevere in following the call God has placed upon each and every one of us.

Friday, June 22, 2018

VBS @ St. Apollinaris Parish

JUNE 18 - 22, 2017

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

4th Sunday after Pentecost @ Holy Family Rutherford

JUNE 17, 2018

Pretty much every American school kid knows that July 4, 1776 was the day the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.

Perhaps less known is that on June 15, 1215 in Runnymede, England the Magna Carta was signed. And last Friday – besides being payday –  marked the 803rd anniversary of that fateful day.

Prior to the signing of the Magna Carta, English kings were somewhat at liberty to act as they saw fit, for good or for ill. Enormous burdens through taxes and levies were common; as were arbitrary seizures of people, property, and cash by the Crown. The unchecked power of the monarchy led to widespread corruption.

Enter the Magna Carta – the Great Charter of Liberties – that ensured the right to own and inherit property, and protection from excessive taxation. Things we take for granted 803 years later – such as, the consent of the governed, due process, equal protection, and separation of church and state – find their origins in the Magna Carta.

Today is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.

In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he speaks about the “expectation of the creature waiteth” Pointing out “the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

While this sounds awkward, the Greek word used for “the creature” – κτίσις – is a word used by rabbis to mean someone who had converted from idolatry … and so, perhaps a better rendering would be “convert from idolatry” or alternately “idolater” or “convert” depending on the context.

In the Gospel, we hear Our Lord’s admonition to St. Peter to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” While Peter protests – after all, it was the end of long hard day of work, and the fishermen had caught nothing at all.

Yet God has a plan. Despite what we may think. The result of Peter going against his own will and fulfilling Christ’s command is a miracle: “a very great multitude of fishes.” So great, that “their net broke.

Indeed, regardless of how we may weigh our own circumstances, God remains in control. God’s law, and God’s plan overshadow our own plan. And no matter what we may consider as “liberty” . . . unrestrained liberty rapidly descends into license … what we often see played out in the world.
We must be reminded over and over … that true freedom … true liberty … comes through Jesus Christ.

Yet are we fully convinced of this? Are we totally committed to living our lives through, with, and in Jesus Christ? When we think we have a better idea … or perhaps when things don’t go our way … do we cast aside fidelity to Christ and instead pursue our own whims? Or even, perhaps, wade into the corruption of the world?

Saint Paul reminds at the start of todays reading “that we are the [children] of God … heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ”  but not through force of will, but rather “if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, let us put out into the deep. Let us step out in fatih, setting aside any fears or misgivings … and place ourselves in the hands of Our Savior. Let us remember that all Creation – ourselves included – is subject to the Laws of God and Reign of God … and as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, and reign with Christ in eternity.