Sunday, October 4, 2020

27th Sunday in OT @ St. Mark Au Gres

OCTOBER 3/4, 2020

Winemaking … or viticulture … first flourished in the Mediterranean basin due to the influence of various early civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by long growing seasons of moderate or warm temperatures. During the growing season, there is very little rainfall. Instead, most of the rainfall occurs in the winter months, which are characteristically on the warm side.

This unique climate exists mostly in coastal regions on either side of the 40th parallel in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Outside of the Mediterranean area, regions suitable for growing wine-grapes exist along the California coast, including Napa Valley, Chile, both northern and southern Africa, as well as western and southern Australia.

The oldest known winery was discovered in southeastern Armenia, and is over 6,000 years old. Yet because of the sophistication of the wine-making process in that particular find, it has been suggested that the wine-making is much older than even that.

Today is the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In today’s First Reading we hear from Isaiah chapter 5 … what is called the “Song of the Vineyard.” It is a sort of parable meant to admonish Israel for their sins. God is telling them that no matter what He has done for them, they continue to ignore His law and His presence.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the “Parable of the Vineyard,” in which the tenant workers rebel against a landowner by attacking and killing his servants. As a last effort, the owner sends his son - whom they also murder. Here, the message is that God gave Israel the Promised Land … and sent prophets who were ignored or, worse, killed … and in this parable, Jesus speaks of His coming … and predicts his own death at the hands of the religious leaders who despite their external trappings are rebelling against God, while pretending to be God’s chosen people.

In the passages from Isaiah that follow what we just heard in today’s reading, through the prophet … God enumerates six sins against Israel … namely: (1) greed, (2) lack of self-control, (3) false-piety, (4) deceit, (5) self-aggrandizement, and (6) injustice.

Contrast these six vices with the six things that St. Paul describes as “excellence” and praiseworthy in the Second Reading:

whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious …

Here you have an almost one-to-one correlation between the sins that God complains of in Isaiah … with the virtues that St. Paul says have been “learned and received” by the early Christian … and “heard and seen in” his own example. By embracing the example and teaching of the apostles … and by reaching out to God in “prayer and petition” as well as acknowledging God’s generosity through “thanksgiving”, the Philippians are told that “the God of peace will be with” them … and that:

the peace of God that surpasses all understanding  
will guard [their] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Just as there is are narrow conditions necessary for successfully growing grapes … so, too, there is a narrow path that we must follow as disciples of Jesus Christ. We cannot make things up as we go along … rather, we must follow Jesus Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life … for all who choose to follow Him … and for all who desire to receive Salvation through, with, and in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As we approach this altar to receive the sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … let us examine our own life according to those six criteria from St. Paul and ask ourselves if we persevere in truth, honor, justice, purity, beauty, and grace … and if there are areas that need ‘fixing,’ then invite Jesus into those areas of our lives that need him most … so that He may redeem us in His love, His grace, and His mercy. 

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and your minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

18th Sunday in OT @ Diocese of Saginaw

AUGUST 1/2, 2020

Back in late February or maybe early March, I was in Target in Petaluma, California. That’s where I was stationed up until 6 weeks ago. And the news was ramping up about the Pandemic. It wasn’t called a pandemic yet, but some people on YouTube or other social media were starting to use the word pandemic.

Anyway, I was walking around Target and probably picking up groceries and looking at appliances, when I walked down the paper products aisle. And I stopped dead in my tracks. There were only three packages of toilet paper left – two eight packs and one six pack. I’d seen this sort of thing in the past in California; during the Napa fires. And so, I figured I could load up on twenty-four rolls of toilet paper … just in case this went on for a while.

In case you might be wondering – how much toilet paper does one man need … or for that matter, a household or family need … there is a website HOWMUCHTOILETPAPER.COM that lets you calculate your needs. I figured that with what I already had on hand, I was good for six months. And, the lockdown only lasted roughly 90 days - give or take.

The strange thing is, how for many of us, we have never known shortages. In the old Soviet Union, there were long lines to get basic food items or personal necessities. During the Second World War, there were rationing stamps. And I guess for us, in this pandemic time, there are shortages, too.
Yet many people began hoarding, some early on. And others were left with nothing until shelves were restocked, and even then, many things disappeared rather quickly - or so it seemed.

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, and on the surface, our readings seem to have a theme of “food.”

But scratch that surface and not too far down, we see that even when food is given - miraculously or figuratively - we are to move deeper into a Divine Mystery.

In the first reading from Isaiah 55, we hear “Come!” But as we read further, we are called to “Seek!” And finally we are drawn into the presence of the LORD … where we have no other choice but to “Worship.”

In the Gospel, we hear of the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish which fed five thousand men and uncounted women and children; and the left-overs filled twelve wicker baskets.
Some modern commentators would strip this event of its miraculous nature. Claiming that Jesus inspired the crowd to share what they had and to abandon their selfishness. If that is the case, then the evangelists were idiots for recounting this story as miraculous. And that contemporary twist on a psychological theme is nothing more than poppycock.

Rather, the repeated recounting of the multiplication of loaves and fishes by all of the Gospel writers is to point to the “sign” of the Messianic Banquet. What Isaiah speaks of thirty chapters earlier when he says:
On this mountain* the LORD of hosts * will provide for all peoples * a feast  
In this pericope, we hear that Jesus had “pity” for the vast crowd – or rather “his heart was moved with pity for them”. The word, rendered here as “pity” has more customarily been translated as “compassion.”

It is translated from a Greek word that is a mouthful: σπλαγχνίζομαι (splagch-ni-zo-mai) meaning “moved as to one’s bowels with compassion.” So, not just pity, and not just compassion … but rather, what we might call a “gut wrenching” pity or a “gut wrenching” compassion.

Jesus uses this same word in the Gospels in three parables (1) the master who forgives the servant (who in turn does NOT forgive his fellow servant) ; (2) the motivating feeling of the Good Samaritan (which is not shared by the priest and the levite) ; and (3) the father at the end of the story of the Prodigal Son when he sees his son returning home.

Each of the characters in these parables experienced a gut wrenching compassion, and acted in a way that perhaps can only be called “not so normal.”

And the Gospel writers also apply this term – gut wrenching compassion – to Jesus, just before He feeds the multitudes, heals two blind men, heals a leper, drives out a demon from a man’s son, and raises the only son of the widow of Naim.

Based on this limited data set, it would seem that σπλαγχνίζομαι (splagch-ni-zo-mai) – gut wrenching pity or compassion – is accompanied by miracles … and that we are called to dig deep in our guts – so as to be “moved as to the bowels of compassion” in our dealings and our relatinships with one another … in order to experience similar miracles in our own lives … as we come to God, seeking God, and in our worship of God.

This Eucharist is our messianic banquet. Saint Paul, in the pericope from Romans reminds us that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And so, as we continue in our own act of divine worship in this Holy Mass, and as we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ … let us be moved to the depths of our hearts with love for God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – knowing that nothing outside of ourselves can separate us from God in Christ Jesus … and let us receive Him Sacramentally as a foretaste of the banquet of heaven … in this supreme act of worship.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Corpus Christi @ St. Vincent de Paul Parish

JUNE 13/14, 2020

This weekend we commemorated the Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. You can see his statue next to the St. Joseph altar.

His story is fascinating – you might want to look it up online or in a book. He was known for his powerful preaching, supreme knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick.

He can also help you find your car keys if you pray for his intercession.

But the story I want to relate was later in his life when he was preaching in Toulouse in the south of France. the people in that area had lost their faith in the Eucharist. They doubted if the bread and wine were merely a symbol, or if it was indeed the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

And one outspoken man challenged him. He brought a half-starved mule and waited to see its reaction when shown a pile of food on one side, and St. Anthony holding the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance on the other. The animal totally ignored the fodder and to everyone’s amazement knelt before Our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

This feast is of relatively recent origin, the Mass and Office texts having been prepared by none other than St. Thomas Aquinas in the year 1264.

The immediate reason was to commemorate a miracle, one year before, where a German priest, doubting the generosity of Christ in coming Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist … was given a singular miracle when at the Words of Institution, “This is My Body,” the host began to bleed onto his hands and onto the altar cloth.

But even more than commemorating a 13th century miracle, this day celebrates the central mystery of our Faith – what the Second Vatican Council referred to as the “source and summit of the Christian life.”

Which begs the question – do we recognize Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist?

As we approach this altar to receive the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – quite possibly for the first time in almost 100 days … let us pray for a deeper appreciation and experience of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in this most Blessed Sacrament. And may the infinite and manifold graces of the Eucharist transform us – and our homes, our neighborhood, our country, and our world – all for the greater glory of God.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

10th Week in Ordinary Time @ St. Vincent de Paul Parish



Friday of the 10th Week in OT 6-12-2020

St. Barnabas, Apostle 6-11-2020

Wednesday of the 10th Week in OT 6-10-2020

Daily Mass for the Dead 6-9-2020

Votive Mass for the Priest Himself 6-8-2020

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 6-7-2020

Solemnidad de la Santísima Trinidad 7-6-2020

Trinity Sunday @ St. Vincent de Paul Parish

JUNE 7, 2020

Released in November of 1967, and having the distinction of being both #1 and #2 on the British singles chart simultaneously due to being released on both a single and an EP, the Beatle’s song I am the Walrus was written by John Lennon the previous summer.

The lyrics are a combination of poetry, nursery rhymes, and nonsense syllables and phrases – the result of three failed attempts at three different songs that were eventually joined together and became the iconic tune known to us over 50 years later.

It was the first studio recording made after the accidental death of their first manager, the recording featured orchestral accompaniment that included violins, cellos, horns, and clarinet as well as a 16-voice choir of professional studio vocalists.

Critical reception was mostly positive, although the song was banned by the BBC (British Broadcasting System.)

Today is Trinity Sunday.

While many aspects of the Roman Liturgy have included the Trinity – namely in doxologies, Sunday prefaces; the feast we celebrate today – that is, a particular Sunday honoring the Trinity was not included in the calendar until Pope John XXII (the twenty-second) in the early 14th (fourteenth) century.

The feast was elevated liturgically to the highest solemnity by Pope Saint Pius X (the tenth) in 1911.

Now, anytime we speak of Theology – which is the study of God (theos = God, logos = study) … whether that be the Trinitarian theology, Patrology (the theology of God the Father,) Christology (the theology of the Person of Jesus Christ), Pneumatology (the theology of the Holy Spirit), or Theology proper of itself … we run two difficulties.

What you say can either come out sounding like jibberish. That’s the first risk. When you start bandying about with words like perichoresis in the Greek, or circumincession in the Latin – both are words referring to the relationship and the interpenetration of the three Persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then there are the theological distinctions between the Immanent Trinity and the Economic Trinity.

On the other hand, you may find yourself spouting heresy … and all the big heresies revolve around mistakes about the Trinity or the Persons of the Trinity.

So, Trinity Sunday can be a bit of a theological minefield.

But the Trinity should not be unfamiliar to us.

We are baptized into the Divine life of the Trinity – as we are baptized in “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Mass – the Divine Liturgy of the Church – is a sacrificial offering of the Son to the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We begin our prayers with the Sign of the Cross – proclaiming Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We end our liturgical prayers with a trinitarian formula.

And we memorize the Glory Be – which is a minor doxology to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Not to mention the Gloria (Glory to God in the Highest) and the Creed which again are Trinitarian in structure.

The difficulty, of course, is that God is beyond our comprehension – making the Trinity a mystery.

And a mystery is best expressed in silence, prayer, and song.

As we continue in the Holy Mass, offering the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit – let us remember that we are children of God the Father, redeemed in Christ His Son, and have received an outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Goo goo ga joob.)

Saturday, May 30, 2020

9th Week in Ordinary Time @ St. Vincent de Paul



Saturday Memorial of the BVM 6-6-2020

St. Boniface 6-5-2020

Thursday of the 9th Week in Ordinary Time 6-4-2020

St. Charles Lwanga and Companions 6-3-2020

Ss. Marcellinus and Peter 6-2-2020

Mary, Mother of the Church 6-1-2020

Pentecost Sunday 5-31-2020

Domingo de Pentecostés 5-31-2020

Pentecost Sunday @ St. Vincent de Paul Parish

MAY 31, 2020

Loosely based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum; the 1939 movie titled The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the best-known and most commercially successful adaptation of the book. From a box office perspective, it was not much of a success earning only a little over three million dollars and netting less than one-tenth of that in profits.

Due to the technology utilized, namely Technicolor™, it was up to that point the most expensive movie ever made by MGM. Not until 10 years later, when it was re-released in theaters did it begin to be a money-maker for the studio, and 50 years after its release was included in the U.S. National Film Registry, and named the most-viewed movie on television by the Library of Congress.

Many things from the movie have entered our national consciousness – phrases, songs, and characters – leading to many attempts at sequels and reinterpretations … none of them as successful as the original which is over 80 years old.

The four major protagonists are: a young girl, Dorothy – who only wants to get home; a scarecrow – who only needs a brain; a tin woodsman – who needs a heart; and a cowardly lion – who needs courage. After an adventure involving munchkins, flying monkeys, a wicked witch, and ultimately the Wizard of Oz himself … the four discover that what they desired was already within their grasp. With a final clicking of ruby slippers, and a chant of “There’s no place like home,” … everyone lives happily ever after.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. Fifty days since the end of the Paschal Triduum. Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Season.

Pentecost is associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit. And for most of us, we know that there are Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Fruits of the Holy Spirit … and perhaps you can rattle them off like a well-memorized lesson. But how do these affect you in your daily life? What is the place of these gifts and fruits for an Average Joe and Mary Catholic?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1831) “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit … complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.

Which requires us to take a step back. If these gifts complete and perfect the virtues, what are the virtues?

The “big three” are easy: The theological or supernatural virtues are Faith, Hope, and Love. We receive these in Baptism, and they are strengthened in us through our exercising them in our daily lives; as well as through our worthy reception of the Sacraments, most especially the Holy Eucharist.

So, what do Faith, Hope, and Love do for us?

Like the scarecrow, the tin-man, and the lion – we all need a little boost. Not from a wizard, but rather from God. Faith affects the mind, Hope affects the soul, and Love affects the Heart.

In a similar way, the first three human virtues of Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude allow us to properly apply and use our mind’s thoughts, express moderation in our body and soul, and persevere when things become difficult.

Justice, the fourth of the human virtues allows us to balance the actions within our lives by giving of ourselves to God, and to neighbor … in an appropriate mix and measure

These seven virtues – which we possess in varying quantities – are in turn completed and perfected by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The virtues of the mind are perfected by the gifts of Knowledge, Understanding, and Counsel. Knowledge being what fills our mind, Understanding being how our mind processes what it knows within itself, and Counsel being the application of our mind to help others and affect external events.

The virtues of the soul are perfected by the gifts of Fear of the Lord and Piety. Fear of the Lord allows us to show proper reverence for God, and Piety allows us to respond to God’s grace in serving both God and neighbor.

The virtues of the heart are perfected by the gifts of Wisdom and Fortitude. Wisdom allows us to make appropriate choices in prudently discerning between the desires of our heart, and Fortitude helps us to have courage as well as to follow through and persevere.

And finally, “[t]he Fruits of the Holy Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” As we grow in virtue by ordering our minds, souls, and hearts to God … the Holy Spirit perfects and completes our efforts through God’s grace. The end result, then, of living a Christian life is holiness – expressed in the twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity.

As we continue in this Holy Mass, offering to God the Father the Sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit… let us pray for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to be poured out in our lives … to complete and perfect our virtues … and as we conform our lives more and more – day by day – to God’s Holy and Perfect Will, may we experience the Fruits of Holiness in our lives through the Power of the Holy Spirit.