Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sacred Conversations

In the past, I have proudly shared articles on this blog that have been written by my daughter-in-law, Joelle.  This morning, her latest piece on “Sacred Conversations” was just released. 

Her insight on communications, particularly within the context of marriage is really insightful and filled with compassion, understanding and love.  But then again isn't that how God speaks to us?

As she writes, “We are perpetually in a co-creative act of bringing a new, ever evolving thing—a marriage, a church family—into being through our conversations.”  This begs the question: what do your conversations sound like – with your friend, your spouse and with God?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Homily: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

After the disciples have spent so much time with Jesus watching him heal and teach and forgive it seems that Jesus feels it is time to give his disciples a ‘midterm test.’ He wants to see what they have learned after spending so much time watching Jesus minister to others.  But before he asks them the one and only question he has them hike 25 miles to the region of Caesarea Philippi.

Why the long hike?  What is the one question he asks them….and asks us?  And how would you answer?

Click here for the podcast of the homily
Click here for the text of the homily
Click here for the readings of the day

Friday, August 15, 2014

Feast of the Assumption

Normally the Feast of the Assumption is a ‘work day’ for me in my parish.  But being in Cape May afforded me the opportunity to attend liturgy with my wife (a rarity) and to partake in the annual celebration of the “Wedding of the Sea.”

According to legend, in 1445 the Bishop of Cervia, Paul Barbo, who later became Pope Paul II, was returning to Venice on the Feast of the Assumption, when the ship got caught in a storm.  After the bishop prayed, he threw his pastoral ring into the sea from the ship — and the waters were calmed.

So this morning, right after the Mass for the Feast Day, the celebration in Cape May continued as a procession took place three blocks to the ocean and the pastor, Fr. Frank Danella, OSFS, led the crowd in prayer and song as the local lifeguards rowed out into the ocean to throw a wreath of flowers and a ring from a boat into the water, symbolizing the union of the city and the sea.

Here is the prayer that Fr. Frank offered:

Greetings, Mother Ocean, I come to bless You in the name of the triune God.  I pray that you be restored to your original health, beauty and protected from all damaging hazardous chemical: oil, gas, spills, dangerous wastes, plastics and all that harm and retard your well-being.

I pray for protection, health and growth for all marine and plant life that you birth and sustain – mammal, fish, plants, tress, mountain, rock and all marine creatures in your loving care.

I pray for all who depend on the oceans for their livelihood.  Bless all boats and ships that travel on this ocean, take care of then and protect them.

I pray for all who care for and protect this beach and those who come to these waters.  Watch over all who enjoy the beauties and the refreshment of the cool waters.  Keep them safe and unharmed.

May we grow in gratitude, love and respect for these primordial seas.  And may almighty God continue to bless these waters: in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. - Amen

It was a beautiful way to celebrate our Lady on her Feast Day and as we listened to everyone singing  Thus it was a blessed way to remember that we are all community…all connected to creation….all connected to Mother Ocean…all connected the God who dwells within.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Effective Preaching

Those of us who go to mass each Sunday do so for many reasons: prayer, obligation , community, Eucharist, etc, etc.  But what we often do not hear is the Word of God broken open for us in a well written and delivered homily.
And why should we?  The average Roman Catholic clergy receives about six credits of homiletics (the study of writing/giving homilies) during their formal education.  And in fairness to the vast majority of priests, their time is consumed with managing the needs of a parish and ministering to their parishioners.  So finding 8 -10 hours each week to pull together a cohesive 10 minute Sunday homily (much less daily homilies) may be difficult – but is sorely needed.
As a whole, we often spend so much time focused on Christ being present in the Eucharist that we forget that Christ is equally present in the congregation gathered together, as well as in the Word.  But we are a people coming together who deserve to have the scripture broken open and poured out in a way that touches us, heals us, and gives us a meaningful message for the coming week.
This past January the National Catholic Reporter printed a short article they had asked me to write on the steps needed for an effective homily.  Since it was only released in a particular supplement addressed to deacons (have no idea why), I thought it would be good to release it here on my blog site and invite your comments, suggestions…or better yet, encourage you to print out a few copies and if you hear a poor homily, hand one to the preacher (priest or deacon) on the way out the door!
For a copy of the article click HERE

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homily: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we hear a gospel from Matthew which is broken into three basic parts: the parable of the sower…Jesus’s reasoning for using parables… and then lastly, the explanation Jesus gave his first century followers of what this parable was all about.  But there is something so obvious to see in this story that even Jesus omitted it from his explanation. 
What did Jesus leave out of his elucidation of this gospel?  And how can that missing piece of the puzzle change your life? 

Click and listen to how the answer to these questions is found….in the soil.

Click here for the podcast of the live recording of the Homily
Click here for the text of the Homily
Click here for the readings