April 24, 2017 – Monday in the Second Week of Easter

Saint for the day: Fidelis of Sigmaringen (1577 – April 24, 1622)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4”23-31    –    Psalm 2    –    John 3:1-8

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (today’s “Alleluia Verse before the Gospel.”)

In the Easter Season we are reminded that it is necessary to be “reborn” and born of water and the spirit. When the disciples prayed in the upper room the whole building shook as the spirit came upon them.   There are two images – water & wind – both powerful elements with a wide range of results. Water – refreshes, cleans & sustains all life. But it also floods, drowns and destroys. The wind of the Spirit can gently move pollen and seeds to fertile ground where life is continued. But wind unchecked can blow down entire houses and leave nothing in it’s path. All things in moderation should be our goal. Washed clean but not drowned. Moved gently forward but not blown off. We’ve been having early spring rains these days which means I don’t get out for early morning walks as I often try to do. I’ll probably not get a bike ride today, but that can wait till another day.

So, I’ll stay here and begin again. That’s what Easter gives us: a chance to begin again. We go through Lent & Easter over and over, year after year with the same themes. Does anything change in our lives? Or is it the “same old same old?”

We need to ask the question, “What difference has Easter 2017 brought about in my life? How has this Easter affected my ministry here at St. Dominic’s. Sometimes I get discouraged and wonder if I’m doing anything positive. Today’s “Saint” Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Franciscan who found a way to more perfectly follow Jesus. It brought me back to my own first beginnings when I was often “Porter” e.g. door keeper, at our House of Studies & was able to greet each visitor as if it were Jesus. Even though we had an electric button that would open the door, I always felt that whoever was coming to the priory wasn’t coming to be greeted by a loud buzzer, so I would get up and go and open the door. As I walked the few steps to the door I would actually try to visualize that it might be Jesus, or somebody making their last attempt to get their life in order and I couldn’t take the chance to give them one more example of a church-person who was rude or angry. I always thought that I needed to make my presence alone be a ministry of worth just to let people see me comfortable in the presence of God within. Even in spite of my personal short-comings, I can still affect some good. I might not have all the necessary degrees that others have but I still can look for the Christ in each person I meet. Well… these are my scattered thought on a cold and windy day in the 2nd week of Easter. God Bless whoever reads this! Amen!

April 23, 2017 – Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday

April 23, 2017 – Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 2:42-47    –    Psalm 118    –    1 Peter 1:3-9    –    John 20:19-31

“Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.”

 As a young altar boy I can remember the Triditine Mass which began with a “Confiteor” and then went immediately to the “Kyrie.” Three Kyrie’s; three Christe’s; three Kyrie’s said alternately between the priest and the server. You had to be very careful not get confused with the number of “Kyrie’s” and “Christe’s.”

That’s how the Mass always began. Asking for the mercy of  God and Christ.

When the late Pope John Paul II instituted this feast of “Divine Mercy” I must admit that I was a little chagrinned that my favorite “Doubting Thomas Gospel” might be supplanted by the piety of this Polish Nun. Now, however, I can see how the Resurrection of Jesus and God’s infinite divine mercy are connected so powerfully on this Second Sunday of Easter.

When I was gowning up I must say that I thought of God’s mercy as a “breast-beating” – “woe-is-me” kind of way to begin the Mass. It was as if God took pleasure in seeing me writhe in self-pity. But now I can see God’s Mercy in a totally different frame: God has mercy on us even if we don’t ask for it and it parallels our praying of the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Or, “give us mercy as we show mercy to others.” We often forget that and fall back into gloating over the fact that God has shown us His Diving Mercy in order that we will be able to show mercy to those around us.

So, on this Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday – we can still hear the Gospel of Jesus appearance and Thomas’ famous saying, “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief.” Or, “Lord you have shown me your mercy. Help me to be merciful to those around me.” Amen!

April 22, 2017 – Saturday in the Octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Adalbert of Prague (956 – Aprl 23, 997)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4:13-21    –    Psalm 118    –    Mark 16:9-15

“Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”(Mark 16:15)

These words at the end of today’s Gospel are the “marching orders” for the early church and are based on the conviction of those who have encountered the Risen Lord. “What we have witnessed and seen with our own eyes we now proclaim to you.”

With those words firmly rooted in their lives they “go out” to all the world and proclaim “Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.” They didn’t spend years in seminary study and were simple people who were uneducated and probably couldn’t even read or write. But they had faith! This kind of faith takes us beyond all our ready-at-hand categories and we often speak of it as something that we “have.” We would be better to speak of it as something that we “do” or something that we “are” by God’s gift. Be that as it may. It was enough to get the early Church going.

I am reminded of the saying, “If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Again, it’s not that Christianity has been tried and failed. It’s more likely that it hasn’t been tried with conviction. The early followers of Jesus were convinced of His resurrection so much so that they told the powers that be, “how can you tell us not to speak of these wonders that we have seen with our own eyes?”

We have 2,000 years of tradition behind our belief and yet some of us have still not translated that into a living faith. I don’t have all the answers to many questions but I still believe that God raised Jesus from the dead that – way, this far down the road of history – I, Brother Daniel Thomas, a Dominican Brother in the 21st century can encounter this Risen Lord even if I have to say, with my name-sake, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” It doesn’t take much of a spark of faith to cause a great fire to get going in our lives. But we have to accept it not just once. But every day of our lives.

That’s why we go through this “Easter thing” for seventy days! Amen!

April 21, 2017 – Friday within the octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Anselm (1033 – April 21, 1109)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 4:1-12    –    Psalm 118    –    John 21:1-14

“The sign on the door read: Gone Fishing!”

 This somewhat familiar saying packed with it a sense of, “I’ve had it! I need to get out of the ‘rut.’ I’m going fishing!”

The disciples are still in a quandary about what’s happened. They have a myriad of stories about the risen Lord but they are confused: “we thought He was to be the one who would free us from the tyranny of living under an oppressive government” and here they are: not any different from before.

We have to remember that the Gospels are the written record of the preaching of the early Church and are intended to give us ample examples of what it means to follow Christ. Contrary to some of the popular “prosperity gospel preaching,” the early followers of Jesus felt abandoned and alone so they did what many of us would do: they went fishing!

That is, they went back to their old ways forgetting all the blessings they had experienced in the short time of walking with Jesus. Even when they experience a miraculous catch of fish they forget that Jesus told them, “from now on you will catch people not fish.”

This section of the Gospel of John is thought by many scripture scholars to be an appendage that was added on later to further remind us of all that Jesus promised. So we are given some more examples of how it all fits together. The images are all there if we have eyes to see: the whole sense of the failure of a night’s fishing (like being tossed on a stormy sea); Peter’s jumping out of the boat (but not sinking this time); Jesus fixing breakfast of bread and fish (the multiplication of the loaves story.) It all goes back to the simple fact that we can never find full happiness going back to the way we were but always have to be in this now moment of salvation and ready to get on the way … whatever that might mean for each of us. Amen!

April 20, 2016 – Thursday in the octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Conrad of Parzham (December 22, 1818 -April 21, 1894)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 3:11-26    –    Psalm 8    –    Luke 24:35-48

“Come, you blessed of my Father; receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, alleluia. (Today’s ‘Entrance Antiphon; Mt. 25:34)

 These readings that we’re hearing in these days after Easter should give us encouragement since even those who walked and lived with Jesus had fears and questions concerning what it was all about. I didn’t count how many times Jesus said, “Have no fear. It is I” to those who were encountering Him after His resurrection. He also told them to “look at me and see that I am not a ghost.” All of us have fears of various kinds and we know that it’s fear of the unknown that prevents us from moving ahead. If out of fear we lock ourselves in our own personal ‘upper rooms’ we will never be able to meet the resurrected Jesus on the way! And even though Jesus miraculously comes to us he still says, “Do not cling to me.” Scripture tell us, “Fear of the Lord in the beginning of wisdom,” I think we have to think of that in terms of “awe” rather then common “fear.” And when Jesus tells us not to cling to Him He is reminding us that we can not just hold on to Him as some kind of “security blanket” but must be willing to go out and proclaim by the words and actions of our lives that Jesus is risen and goes before us to show the way.

Some of the “evangelicals” speak of “accepting Jesus as our personal savior and this promotes a false sense of what Jesus is all about. Accepting Jesus into our lives is meant to be the force that puts us back on the road and out to live fully the life that has been given to us. But we are not alone since we are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit – the creative force – that empowers us to be all that we are meant to be. And we have to remember that the Holy Spirit Is given to us in order to build up the “body of the Church” and not for our own aggrandizement. It’s never just me and Jesus but me as part of something much larger than and grander than anything I could do by myself. We are the Church and that Church will only be a good as all the individuals put together. Amen!

April 19, 2017 – Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Gianna Beretta Molla (October 4,1922 – April 28, 1962)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 3:1-10    –    Psalm 105    –    Luke 24:13-35

“Then they said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:33)

During this “octave of Easter” we are given the various accounts of how the disciples and early followers of Jesus gradually came to understand that Jesus was alive and with them. But notice that Jesus doesn’t go around waving a banner, “It’s ME! I’m back!” He wants us to come to an awareness of Him from a deep point – perhaps in their hearts that He is really raised from the dead. Today’s Holy Gospel is familiar to us and makes clear that we need to understand in the depths of our hearts that He is truly risen. This comes about in today’s Holy Gospel by way of the WORD and the Sacrament. Jesus had said many times, “I am the Word” that sets us free and “I am the Bread of Life” that touches and reaches to the depths of our hearts. “Were not our hearts burning within as He spoke to us?”

 Take a moment to think back to all the ways in which Jesus said, “I AM …” How many did you come up with? It might be good for you to write them down and keep them in your prayer-book or bible so that you are always aware of all the ways Jesus is present to you. Also, don’t forget that when Jesus says, “I AM …” He’s using the “first person singular form” of the Name of God as first given to Moses.

I like the setting of today’s Holy Gospel where the disciples were on the way to Emmaus when they chanced to be walking with Jesus. In some way, they might have been caught up in a discussion of how their hopes had been dashed with the crucifixion and death of Jesus. As He came near they did not recognize him and only came to see him when He took the bread, blessed it and broke it for them. Two things happened: the WORD became real to them and the BREAD became the Bread of Life for them. It’s almost as if that’s all we have to believe in: the WORD became real (we might even say) Became Flesh and dwelt among us. And the bread became His lasting presence which sustains our spiritual life. And this makes our hearts burn with the fire of God’s Love.

Take some time to let this Holy Gospel sink in. See yourself in this picture: when your hopes and dreams seem to be falling apart let the Word of God break through your darkness with its never ending light and let the power of the Eucharist be your “Bread of Life.” If it worked for so many of our saints might it work for you? Amen!

April 18, 2017 – Tuesday within the Octave of Easter

Saint for the day: Blessed James Oldo (1364 – April 18, 1404)

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Acts 2:36-41    –    Psalm 33    –    John 20:11-18

 “I heard the Lord call my name. Listen close and you’ll hear the same.”

One of the most rewarding times of my life was the semester I spent in Israel in late 1983. The program was offered by Catholic Theological Union (Chicago) and we were housed in a former Franciscan seminary in Ein Karem, a short distance from Jerusalem. On occasion I would stay overnight in the Old City and I usually “book ended” this time by visiting the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchral in the late afternoon (when most of the tourist crowds weren’t around) and early in the morning for the 4:30 Mass in the Tomb. There is something spectacular about being at the Tomb of Jesus for Mass. Especially in the dark and quiet of the early morning. I also remember sitting quietly in the little space at the entrance to the Tomb – called the “Angle Room” – usually all by myself – and, in the late afternoon. The familiar Gospel song “I heard the Lord call my name. Listen close and hear the same” would float through my mind. I would sometimes expect to open my eyes and see an angel standing there and asking me, “What are you doing? He is not here. He’s been raised!”

It was always a reminder to me that we so often are more comfortable sitting quietly somewhere expecting that the Lord will visit us, forgetting the second part of that greeting, “Go out from here and get on the Way that’s where you’ll meet the Risen Lord.”

Then there’s the other aspect of our encounter with the Risen Lord that, like Mary Magdalene, we want to hold Him close to us. But, again, He tells us “Don’t cling to me. I [am not finished with what my resurrection is all about] and have not yet ascended to my father and your father.”

So, we come to our “bottom line” for today: a reminder that the Lord’s resurrection and ascension is a cycle that must be completed in order for the Holy Spirit – the creative power of God – to be active in our lives. As much as I wanted to remain in the quiet of that little room adjacent to the Tomb – where I wasn’t bothered by any cares of the world – I knew that I must be “out and about” to meet the Lord “on the Way.” Interestingly, it’s our own St. Catherine of Siena who reminds us, “It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven!” Amen!

April 17, 2017

Click on the following “link” to know about Monday within the octave of Easter

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy

Acts 2”14. 22-33    –   Pslam 16    –    Psalm 118:24    –    Matthew 28:8-15

“I am the way,  the truth, and the life!”

The familiar saying, “…you can’t see the trees for the forest” might easily fit to these days of the Resurrection since we will hear over and over again Gospel accounts of those who were closest to Jesus during his lifetime – not recognizing him when they encounter him in various situations. A helpful note for us might be the reoccurring fact that most of His appearances happened when they were on the way. Mary Magdalen – on the way to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty, presumes that someone has taken the body of Jesus. She encounters Him on the way. And even when she sees Him she doesn’t recognize Him and thinks He is the gardener.

The two disciples –on the way to Emmaus don’t recognize Him until He breaks bread and explains the scriptures that apply to Himself. “I am… the truth(explaining the Scared Scriptures) and the Life. – the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.

Peter and John, on the other hand, come to believe just by seeing the burial cloths folded up nicely in the place where they had placed the dead body of Jesus. This should have been a clear indication to them that Jesus was not going to be recognized using their memory of what He looked like in life. If we apply all these interesting connections to our own lives we might more easily compare ourselves to Thomas who is most familiar to us as the doubting Thomas: “unless I see with my own eyes and hands…”

So, it should be obvious that any encounter with the Resurrected Jesus is going to require our ability to “see” with the eyes of faith. And still, like Thomas, we will probably have to say, “Lord, I believe … help my unbelief!”

On our journey through life – both physical and spiritual – we need to meditate on these three “qualities” that Jesus proclaimed: “I am the WAY, the Truth and the Life!

Whenever we get discouraged or down we need to see where we are. Are we on the way? Or have we taking a detour into self-indulgence or some other fault that prevents us from seeking – and living – the truth? And, are we honestly participating in the life of Jesus by frequent participation in the Eucharist? Something to think about on this Monday in the Octave of Easter. And, in case you didn’t’ get it right today: we have seven weeks to work on this! Amen!

April 16, 2017 – Easter Sunday

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy (with optional readings)

Acts, 10:34a, 37-43 – Psalm 118 – Colossians 3:1-4 – or -1 Corinthians 5:6b-8

John 20:1-9 – or Matthew 28:1-10 or Luke 24:13-35

“For they did not yet understand the scripture that He had to rise from the dead.” (the last verse of today’s Gospel according to John.)

 In all the days between now and Pentecost the Church will show us how the early community eventually came to the more complete understanding of all that Jesus said and did and how that changed them into believers.

Eventually, at the Feast of Pentecost – 50 days after the Resurrection – the Holy Spirit will be given and with it, the fullness of understanding.

There are some scripture scholars who propose that it was one singular event: Resurrection. Ascension. Coming of the Holy Spirit – then out on the road as missionaries but I think the Church wisely slowed that down some that we might have a better chance grasping what it means to be redeemed.

 In the coming days we’ll be hearing Gospel accounts that attest to the fact that the early Church only gradually came to recognizing Jesus. Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener; the disciples thought He was a ghost; the two on the road to Emmaus thought He was the only person who didn’t know about Jesus’ crucifixion and death. At that time they didn’t even use the word, resurrection.

 In the coming days the Church will gradually reveal how we come to a full awareness of what all of this means. It will be like the gradual unfolding of the “flower of the resurrection.”

 If the early Church had to go through this process why should we think that we “get it” with just the snap of our fingers. And that opening of that “flower” isn’t complete even yet. Remember the acclaimation that we say right after the consecration: “Christ has died; Christ is risen …and Christ will come again!”

 It’s almost as if there is just one moment of redemption that encompasses all of salvation history. If you attended the Easter Vigil last night and heard the singing of the “Easter Proclamation” – The “Exultet” you would have heard the phrase, “… O, happy fall of Adam that wroght such a redeemer as Christ”

 And here’s something that I bet you didn’t know: that skull and cross-bones that is often at the bottom of crucifixes isn’t some voodoo symbol, but is there to remind us that the Death of Christ on the Cross redeemed all of humankind … all the way back to Adam.

IF you ever have a chance to visit the Holy Land and be in the Basilica of the Holy Seplecure you’ll notice that the XII Station –   Jesus dies on the Cross – is directly above the supposed tomb of Adam.

Let us all pray during these days that we will come to a deeper and deeper understanding of what it means to be redeemed. It’s a process. Takes time. Amen!

April 14, 2017 – Good Friday Click on this “link” to read about today’s celebration

 

Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:1   –   Psalm 31   –    Hebrews 4:14 – 16; 5:7-9   –    John 18:1 – 19:42

“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that all who believe in Him might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

In these solemn days of the Paschal Triduum all of us who are involved in “liturgical ministries” have to be on guard to be sure that we don’t let the “mechanics” of what happens overtake us to the point were we miss the hidden essence of what’s really going on. These “three holy days” are really at the height of what “liturgy” is all about …if we let the myriad of symbols be all they want to be.

Today’s “liturgy” – because it’s not a mass – could leave some of us in a quandary. But it is filled with beautiful images – from both the scriptures and the actions which are done – that can draw us into the drama of the crucifixion and the great love that God has for us.

We don’t need to watch Mel Gibson’s, “The Passion” to gain insight into the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus if we let the “script” of today’s liturgy – both the words proclaimed and the action done – be all that they are intended to be. That’s why there is no need for commentary since the entire congregation is involved in dramatic words and powerful images. The Veneration of the Cross, if done with solemnity and grace, is one of the most powerful experiences of our Church’s liturgy.

All of this requires that we allow ourselves to be free of time restraints and other physical burdens. Most churches will be packed to the rafters on this day yet we still need to allow each person to enter into this mystery as if they were the only person for whom Jesus died.

The solemn reading of the Passion, along with the prayerful veneration of the cross and Holy Communion are different enough from our regular liturgies and thus should be able to draw us in to this great act of love.

“… no greater love than to lay down one’s life for friends.”

“What a friend we have in Jesus!” Amen!