Sunday, March 18, 2018

5th Sunday of Lent @ St. Apollinaris Parish

MARCH 18, 2018

Comfort foods are menu items that hold a nostalgic or sentimental value to a person. A comfort foods are usually high in calories, high in carbohydrates, or perhaps just easy to prepare. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, a family, or a particular culture.

For me, growing up, it meant an egg fried in toast. The meaning behind that was, while it was easy to prepare, there were seven of us, so each was prepared one at a time. That usually meant that breakfast wasn’t in a rush.

Some typical American comfort foods would be apple pie ala mode, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, or anything chocolate.

Comfort foods are seen by some as a stress eating response – a way to feel better through food. Although other studies have shown that men eat when they feel good, while women eat when the feel bad.

Broad brush strokes aside, eating patterns and menu choices are always unique to individual persons, families, regions, and cultures.

Like all things, whatever we eat or drink – should be done in moderation.

Today is the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

We are 27 days in, and have had – counting today – 5 Sundays off.

How are things going?

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say,
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
10 chapters earlier in John’s Gospel, at the Wedding Feast of Cana, Jesus’ first miracle, He had said just the opposite - that His hour had not yet come.

What has changed?

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, we are told that Jesus
learned obedience from what he sufferedand when he was made perfect,he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
What obedience did Jesus need to learn?

In essence, the translation into English loses a bit of its meaning from the Greek. This phrase could be rendered that Jesus
increased in conformity [to us] by the things that he sufferedand when this was completehe became the author of salvation for all who are conformed to him

Saint Athanasius, the great 3rd century doctor of the Church said it this way:
For the Son of God became man so that we might become God
And so as Jesus took on our sufferings in conformity to human nature, so that if we are conformed to Him, we can share in His divine nature.

This is the spirit of adoption that we share as members of Christ’s body through Baptism.
Or as St. Paul says in Second Timothy:
If we have died with him [then] we shall also live with him;if we persevere [then] we shall also reign with him.

The bottom line is that too often Christians become “comfortable” with the way things are. When in reality, we are supposed to become “conformable” to the Person of Jesus Christ.

A big reason why we increase our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent is so that we can become more and more conformed to the image of Christ Jesus.

Less “comfortable” … more “conformable.”

And this is the “new covenant” that the prophet Jeremiah speaks of in the first reading … written seven centuries before Christ – to have God’s law written on our hearts through a deep and personal knowledge of God through the forgiveness of sin.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … may be be strengthened in our Lenten practices – not for their own sakes, but to bring us closer to God by the action of the Holy Spirit, conforming us more and more to Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Liturgical Ministries Reflection @ St. Apollinaris Church

MARCH 10, 2018


The Eucharist is our lifeblood – and the lifeblood of the Church.

The Second Vatican council reminds us that within the Eucharist, is contained the whole spiritual wealth of the Church.

We must always remember that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the whole Christian life – of our whole Christian life.

In the sacristies of the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity – Saint Mother Teresa’s sisters – all over the world, there is always a little sign hanging as a reminder for the priest. The purpose of this sign is to inspire him to offer Mass with devotion, freshness, contemplation, and enthusiasm.

The sign reads:
O Priest of God,
say this Mass as though it were 

your first Mass, 

your last Mass,

your only Mass.
Priest, or deacon; ordained, or lay; active, or receptive – anyone engaged in the celebration of the Eucharist in any way can approach the Mass as if it were their first time, their last time, or their only time.

The Mass can be broken up into its commensurate parts. There are books, talks, charts, Missals, or Missalettes that provide instruction or guidance on the Mass. And as many of those as there are, there are probably as many ways to break up the structure or explain the elements of the Mass.

From a spiritual perspective, there can be said to be three interior movements of the Mass. These can be applied to the particular parts of the Mass in sequential order, but also can occur at any point in the liturgy.
1. The way of purification.2. The way of illumination.3. The way of union.

Returning to the Missionaries of Charity, in their chapels, as in any chapel, there is always a crucifix. Written next to the crucifix are one of the last words that Jesus said from the cross:
I thirst.
Jesus thirsts for our souls … for our hearts … for our attention … for our love. And we should thirst for union with Him … for union with His most Sacred Heart … for union with His will … and for union with the Divine Love which unites Him to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

And finally, at the close of the Eucharistic Prayer is the doxology – the words of glory – that say:
Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

for ever and ever. Amen.
And so, these are our marching orders. In the pew, in a ministry, on the altar, in the choir … in our action or our reception … to participate in the liturgy as if it our first, last, or only Mass … to seek the grace to be purged of anything that separates us from God; to hear His voice in the prayers, the hymns, the Scriptures and allow the Light of Christ to enlighten our hearts, minds, and souls; and to unite ourselves body, mind, and soul with God Almighty … as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … and receive the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar – Jesus Christ – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent @ St. Apollinaris Church

MARCH 3-4, 2018

A meme is an idea or behavior that spreads from individual to individual within a culture—often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme. A meme acts as a medium for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can is transmitted from one mind to another through images, writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other phenomena which can be imitated.

The term “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins, from the Greek word mimema – meaning something imitated – in order to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomenon using evolutionary principals.

Within the internet culture, an “Internet meme” is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through emails, blogs, forums, or social networking sites.

One of the earliest Internet meme’s was the “FAIL” – F-A-I-L – meme; where photographs or drawings of individuals doing things in a ridiculously incorrect way – such as holding a phone handset upside-down, cars in swimming pools, using liquid paper on a computer screen … among others. This has morphed into a series of Internet memes captioned as “You’re doing it wrong,” which have a similar direction

Today is the Third Sunday in Lent.

Today’s First Reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, is the enumeration of the Ten Commandments. I’m sure you heard it, and you probably know most of them – or at least have a general understanding of what they entail.

In the Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, in the section preceding the text we heard proclaimed, St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians to be holy – according to the call of God; utilize God’s grace in everything they do; with an eager expectation of Christ’s return; while trusting in God’s faithfulness. He then goes on the point out that we are to be united in Christ, in whose name we are baptized, and who was crucified for our salvation.

That is, for the entire first chapter of First Corinthians, Paul is laying out what could be called “Creed-al” statements – bullet points of what Christians are to believe and how we are to behave.
He does this because the Corinthians were “doing Christianity wrong.”

In what we heard read today, St. Paul gives the solution to fixing those failed attempts at Christianity.
The Greek word translated here as “wisdom” also means “skill, knowledge, or prudence.”

Prudence is one of the virtues that seems to have fallen out of use. We’re all overwhelmed with society’s excessive pre-occupation with tolerance. But perhaps we need to shine a little light on prudence.

Prudence is often called the “Queen of the Virtues.” It is a moral virtue – which means it is an intellectual action that leads to right action.

Prudence requires a person to evaluate, choose, and then finally act – with the ultimate desire of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way.

Imprudent thoughts or ideas lead to imprudent acts – doing the wrong thing, and the wrong time, in the wrong way – or in summary: Doing it wrong. Or in other words: Sin.

Through a well-formed conscience informed by grace, a Christian can know and act appropriately. And this is wisdom.

However, with deep seated habits of mind and heart, we may need Jesus to come in and turn over some tables and drive out the critters and vermin that we’ve picked up over time.

So remember, next time someone asks you “what would Jesus do,” making a whip out of cords, and turning over tables … are among the potential choices.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Let us pray for the grace to live our lives through, with, and in Christ – who is “the wisdom of God” and “the power of God.”

May Jesus Christ – God’s incarnate Wisdom – be for us the Way, and the Truth, and the Life … leading us to everlasting life.

Confession Talk @ St. Eugene Cathedral

MARCH 3, 2018
10:00 AM 

Link to Penance Talk Notes
Saint Eugene's Cathedral
Santa Rosa, California

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2nd Sunday of Lent @ Holy Family Rutherford

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Lent, in which today’s Gospel is the Transfiguration from St. Matthew.
In the eastern Church tradition, the Transfiguration is one of the Twelve Great Feasts. And in traditional iconography – that is the prayerfully produced images if the eastern Church – Christ is front and center, surrounded by a mandorla – that is encircled in Divine light; as well as bathed in light from above – symbolizing the voice of God the Father.

To the left and right of Our Lord are presented Moses – the Lawgiver; and Elijah – the greatest of the prophets.

The three apostles are shown either lying down, kneeling, or reeling – that is, blown away … staggering … by what they are witnessing.

St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, presents succinctly God’s will for us.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
Please consider this single line deeply. God’s will is not your comfort, or your temporal happiness, or even that you do what you will – as the world often presents.

God’s will is that we be made holy … that we be glorified … through the grace and mercy poured forth on us through the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church … for our sanctification.

This is the point of our various penitential exercises in the Holy Season of Lent – our sanctification. We give up those things that stand in the way of God … the things we love (with a small “L”) so that we might devote a larger portion of our personal efforts focusing on the Person whom we should Love (with a capital “L”) above all things – namely the Most Holy Trinity … God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … let us pray that we might cooperate with God’s efforts to bring us to sanctification … let us put aside self-will, as well as the things that may overexcite our passion to the detriment of our relationship with Almighty God.

And let us persevere in our practices of penance as we progress through this Holy Lent. Drawing ever closer to the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2nd Sunday of Lent @ St. Apollinaris Church

FEBRUARY 24-25, 2018

Test Anxiety is a physiological condition in which people experience extreme stress and discomfort before or during the taking of a test. It has been argued that it has a direct correlation to reduced academic performance; as well as a student’s development and feelings about themselves and education in general. It has only been formally studied since the early 1950s, and research suggests that between 25 and 40 percent of students experience some form of test anxiety.

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent.

Last week we heard about the temptation of Our Lord in the desert.

This week, we hear about the test of Abraham – what is known as the akedah or the binding of Isaac.
I think it is important that we are clear in regards to what is a temptation; and what is a test.

The Catechism tells us that “[t]emptation is an attraction, either from outside oneself or from within, to act contrary to right reason and the commandments of God.

Whereas a test is “a procedure to establish a person's proficiency or knowledge” in order to “[reveal] [one's] strength or quality”.

In other words, a temptation has a malicious aim – to turn us away from God; while a test can demonstrate where we are in regards to our relationship with God – not only providing a measure of who we are, but encouraging us to grow in some way or another.

And so, in the first reading, following the testing of Abraham, God tells him,
“I know now how devoted you are to [Me.]”
St. Paul, in the letter to the Romans asks the rhetorical question,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
With this in mind, every devout Christian should have confidence that through God’s grace acting in our lives, we can be assured that no test … no temptation can separate us from God in Christ.

In the Gospel, we hear the account of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, on Mount Tabor in the presence of Ss. Peter, James, and John.

Yet this pericope is part of a larger section of Mark’s Gospel.

In the wider view, towards the end of Mark, chapter 8 … Jesus asks his disciples a question:
“Who do people say that I am?”
He receives a variety of answers, yet Peter gives the right answer:
“You are the Messiah.”

Peter gets an “A+” for a correct answer.

But then, Jesus begins to reveal how His earthly mission will end, telling them:
“the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”
And then, bold as ever, Peter tries to correct Jesus on this. Peter is, in turn, rebuked by Our Lord for applying human reasoning to Divine plans.

Peter gets an “F-“ for an incorrect answer.

Then Jesus explains the cost of discipleship:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”.
Which opens into chapter 9, and today’s Gospel.

In the revelation of the glory of Christ shown in the Transfiguration, the disciples are “terrified” and Peter gets all confused … and wants to start a construction project so they can hang around for a while at the top of the mountain.

St. Mark makes it clear that Peter and the disciples “hardly knew what to say”.

Yet more than a disorienting test, some authors see in the Transfiguration a liturgical foreshadowing. On Mount Tabor, we have the entirety of the Old Testament – the Law and the Prophets – embodied in the persons of Moses and Elijah. We have the Gospel in the Word of God made flesh – embodied in the Person of Jesus Christ – in all His Glory … revealed to three of His disciples.

Today, we have heard from the Old and New Testaments … Christ will come into our midst – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity – and we will dare to receive him.

Will this be for us an opportunity to allow the infinite, sanctifying, and transforming grace of Almighty God present in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist to change us? Or will we be stumped? And hardly know what to do?

As we approach this altar to receive Him – Jesus Christ – in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar – Holy Communion … let us pray that we may indeed be transformed … and transfigured … from who we are; into the person that God is calling us to become. May we, who through sin fall short of the surpassing Glory of Christ, be raised through “eager expectation” of God’s manifold graces to the “glory to be revealed for us” as the “children of God.” (cf. Rom 8:18,19 RNAB)

End-of-Life Issues - Sacrament of the Sick @ Diocese of Oakland, CA

FEBRUARY 21, 22, 24, 2018
1:00 PM, 7:00 PM, 10:00 AM TALKS