Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Five Loaves and Two Fish
"Five loaves and two fish are all we have here. John 6:9
When we look to our own resources for a solution we are bound to come up short, unless that is, we are with Jesus and include Him in the consideration. What did Jesus say to the disciples, who were at a loss as to how to solve this very practical problem of hunger? He said, “Bring them here to me.” So much, if not everything, can be solved in this simple answer. Bring your problems, bring your family, and bring your friends to Jesus. He can take it from there.
Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan wrote a series of meditations for youth entitled “Five Loaves and Two Fish”. I include a few of his favorite quotes here:
[Five loaves and two fish], these are nothing, but it is all I have. Jesus will do the rest. (3)
(From Monsignor John Walsh) “I am not going to wait. I will live each present moment, filling it to the brim with love.”
(From St Maximilian Kolbe) “Everything, absolutely, with no conditions.”
(From Mother Teresa of Calcutta) “The important thing is not how many actions we perform, but the intensity of love that we put into each action.”
...I must live each day, each moment as if it were the last one of my life. (10)
Only one moment exists for you in all its beauty and that is the present moment (cf. Mt 6:34; Jas 4:13-15). Live it completely in the love of God. If your life is built up like a large crystal from millions of such moments, it will be a wonderfully beautiful life. Can’t you see how easy it could be? (10)
Cardinal Nguyen, after 13 years in Communist prisons in Vietnam, was exiled to Rome where he served John Paul II as head of Peace and Justice efforts. (1928-2002) May his prayers help us to live our faith more fully.
Commandments for Husbands and Fathers, cont.
Commandments I-VI appeared in previous bulletins.
VII. Consecrate Your Home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Set-up a “prayer corner” within the home, in the room where the family most gathers. In this room should be an “altar-table”. On this table, place a Bible, a good condensed version of the Lives of the Saints, and a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On or around this table, also place images (statues, pictures, or icons) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The daily family Rosary is a powerful prayer. If your children are still small, pray only a decade of the Rosary and/or vary it daily with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. A wonderful, fixed time for daily family prayer and spiritual reading (say, a total of just 15 to 20 minutes) is good immediately after supper each evening. Included here could be the Readings from the Mass of the day; purchase a daily Roman missal for this. ...You are called to be a true leader. A child will remember well into his adult life these early family practices of the Faith. They will never be forgotten. A father must be the first Christian witness to his wife and children. This is both a duty and a responsibility. Also, be sure to foster the use of sacramentals among your family members. Sacramentals are “sacred signs which bear a certain re-semblance to the Sacraments, and by means of which, spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church” (Catechism, glossary). Examples of sacramentals include: the Sign of the Cross, holy water, enrollment in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, religious medals, blessings, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, sacred art, rosaries, and the veneration of relics. While sacramentals do differ from the seven Sacraments, they are still very important in the life of a Catholic Christian. Also, promote visits to the Blessed Sacrament with your family members...
VIII. Do not let sports or outside activities become more important to you or to your children than Christ and family. Sports have become a false god in America today - especially on Sundays - and we tend to overemphasize them. Spend fun time at home. Do things together as a family. This calls for creativity, imagination, and frequent planning in advance. Seek suggestions from your wife and older children in this regard.
[The sacredness of Sunday Mass should be inviolate. As soon as you give your children the example that Mass is optional, they will follow this. It’s not true, Mass weekly and on Holy Days of Obligation is essential for our life as Christians. Exceptions exist for essential work such as police, fire, and medicine; for a summer camping trip more than a half hour into the wilderness; or for illness. Even summer vacations should be planned with Sunday Mass in mind, and every effort should be made to find a church. A good reference for Mass locations and times is: www.masstimes.org. Fr. Ed]
“Commandments” to be continued...
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Pearl of Great Price
What would you pay for this treasure that we call our faith? Jesus teaches us that it is priceless - beyond compare, and worth everything we could possibly give. Not easy? Perhaps not at first, but when we realize what the treasure is in comparison with this world’s passing goods and pleasures, we become willing, even eager. The apostle James, Patron of our Archdiocese, whose Feast is Monday, July 25th, was asked by Jesus if he and his brother John would be willing to “drink the cup that I am going to drink?” James and John did not hesitate; they said “We can.” (Matthew 20:22) James backed up his boldness by becoming the first apostle to be martyred. (Acts 12:1-3a) May we, through the intercession of Saint James, purchase this beautiful pearl for ourselves, by thinking, speaking, and acting in ways that show our love for God and our neighbor.
Bits & Pieces
Gabriel Project: We have been fortunate to have five angels working with five moms already in our Gabriel Project. One of these moms has already given birth! Praise God we were able to be with her and support her together with volunteers from St. John the Baptist in Covington. If you would like to join this priceless ministry, please contact Cecilia Foster at email@example.com.
Father Brian: As of this writing (7/18/11), Father Brian is doing well and hopefully coming home this week after a successful surgery. Please keep him in your prayers as he recovers.
Priest Time: I am always trying to devise new ways to organize my time and our community so that our time together would be best spent. Sorry for any delay in your getting to see me or speak to me. A few things may help. 1) Pray for vocations! 2) Support our Strength Finders movement so that you can use your gifts to the fullest. The laity can do much of what a priest does if they are using their Baptismal gifts to the fullest. Imagine Brother Andre (St. André Bessette), not a priest, going through the Quebec countryside healing the sick and consoling the sorrowful and instructing souls in the truths of God. He was not a priest. So many of our saints were not priests. 3) I welcome your ideas on how I can effectively use my time to be more present and available to our community.
Commandments for Husbands and Fathers:
1) Get close to Jesus.
2) Prioritize: Jesus, wife, children, work
3) Realize that you are a priest in your home.
4) Protect your children by knowing how their school environment and curriculum affects them in mind, body and spirit.
5) Pray with your wife regularly.
6) Spend quality time with each child. Treat each child in a unique and personal way. The power of a father’s affirming love is tremendously overwhelming and something truly wonderful. Children need it. They require it for their full and proper development. Let each child share his or her ideas, feelings, fears and problems with you. Do everything in your power to ensure that your child can always approach you in any matter. Be sure to share periodically with your wife your insights concerning each child. Discipline with firmness and love (again, your model here is that of the wise and prudent King who rules over the inhabitants of his kingdom with a firm, but great love; and not of the master who rules over his slaves). [from Fr. Wade Menesis] I say that a child looks to their father for strength and guidance. It is a strength ruled by gentleness and compassion however, not a Rambo-kind of machismo. Fathers can give a child a sense that there is structure and order in the universe, and that they are consistently and unconditionally loved and cared for. [EW]
And from John Paul II: Love for his wife as mother of their children, and love for the children themselves, are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. Above all, where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance. (72) As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of "machismo," or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.
In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, (73) a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, (74) by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church. Familiaris Consortio 25, Pope John Paul II
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
“Let them grow together until harvest.” Mt 13:30
“Why?” is often the question when something evil happens in our world. It is perhaps the most difficult question to grapple with in life. Why is there evil, why suffering, if God is so good? Our parable today speaks of an enemy sowing weeds among the wheat. The farmer allows the weeds to grow, which will test the wheat. If we want to be fruitful, vigorous plants in the Lord’s garden, we have to face the reality of evil in the world. It exists.
This past week I’ve been laid up with a bad back and other minor illnesses. I hate being sick. But there is a surrender that is necessary when we are sick. We have to trust God more than ever. We cannot do for ourselves what we would like to do. Our ambitions are stymied. We may even have to say, “I need help”. My independent nature rebels against this vulnerable place, yet fighting it only makes things worse.
William C. Martin shares this reflection:
How would you pastor if you could not speak?
How would you love the parish if you were immobilized in bed?
If you can answer these questions, you know the truth of your calling.
If you can do these things, you will overcome all obstacles.
From: The Art of Pastoring: Contemplative Reflections by William C. Martin (Vital Faith Resources, 2001).
Easy to advise others on the power of prayer when one isn’t suffering. Harder to be on the field than to be an armchair quarterback.
But real suffering lends itself to real prayer. The psalmist cries:
Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck. I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold. I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes have failed, looking for my God. (Psalm 69: 2-4)
During the day, if you wonder why you are suffering this particular trial, consider the words of Fr. Walter Ciszek:
To predict what God’s will is going to be, to rationalize about what his will must be, is at once a work of human folly and yet the subtlest of all temptations. The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that – not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God’s grace, but every day. Each of us has no need to wonder about what God’s will must be for us; his will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as he sees them and sends them to us (He Leadeth Me, p. 39).
Cliff Macaraeg, Pre-Theology II
Below is a short autobiography of Cliff, our summer seminarian. It is a great privilege to have Cliff with us, sharing his enthusiasm for the faith. May God bless his stay with us and his vocation.
My parents emigrated from the Philippines and lived first in Yakima, then moved to Seattle. My family - mom (Josefina), dad (Oscar), and older brother (Cyril) - currently live in West Seattle. I was born on October 11, 1987, in Seattle’s Group Health Hospital. I have lived my whole life in Seattle, having attended Holy Family Parochial School in White Center, Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, and the University of Washington. I just finished my first year of Pre-Theology at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA, in the Bay Area. My journey begins with my family. My parents raised Cyril and me at Holy Family Parish. We would pray during meals, have family rosaries, and attend mass together on Sundays. My mom would also take me to daily mass when I was too young to go to school. In the 4th grade, I joined the altar servers and continue to serve to this day. A huge influence on my life is Fr. Philip Bloom. He is an intelligent and holy priest and role model. I enjoy reading, cooking, hiking, biking, gardening, sleeping, and fishing. My favorite saints are St. Jude, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Joseph. Thank you everyone at St. Stephen the Martyr for being so hospitable, welcoming, and kind during my stay this summer!
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear.”
There was an expression in Illinois that went like this, “knee high by the fourth of July”. It referred to the height of the corn. If it was less than ‘knee high’ then the farmers were worried about the condition of their crop. With good soil, good seed, and good weather, corn flourishes in Illinois. Our Gospel today speaks of a sower sowing seed into various conditions of the soul. What conditions are you giving to God for His word to grow in your life?
Are you regularly sowing His word in to your heart? Are your ears blessed by what they hear? Are you vigilantly weeding out those vices, the cares and riches that can choke the life of Christ in your soul? Do you spend an appropriate amount of time in prayer every day, enriching your mind with the truth of God’s love? All these can help us to become the soil that receives God’s word and bears abundant fruit. Consider using your summer to prepare for an extraordinary harvest. How about 10 minutes of prayer every day? What about 10 minutes of study every day? 10+10 would tend to radically transform us as the Body of Christ.
The Lord asks us to pray for harvesters, to be sent into a ripe harvest. Would you be willing to share your faith with others? RCIA is a great opportunity to both increase one’s faith and understanding while helping others to become Catholic. Please consider being a sponsor this coming year of RCIA. The harvest is ripe. Remember, RCIA is not just for the unbaptized! Contact Cynde Bosshart (253-631-1940 x104 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for details.
For a good photo of our Archbishop’s investiture in the pallium by Pope Benedict along with our Pope’s homily for the occasion, see the June 29th entry at: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/.
Commandments for Husbands and Fathers, cont.
I. Develop your relationship with Jesus
II. Get your priorities in order: Jesus, wife, children, work, etc.
III. Take priestly responsibility in your home
IV. Monitor what your children are being taught in school.
V. Pray with your wife regularly. Try to keep a simple, but sincere spiritual journal and share it with her, even if your entries are just short, inspirational sentences. Trust the Lord to guide, purify and sanctify your relationship with your wife. She is the “heart” of the home. Reverence her as such. Love her with the same love and affection Christ has for His Church. Remember that your sons will grow up to relate to women in a way they saw you relate to your wife. Similarly, your daughters will learn from their father what to expect from men in a relationship. Share with your wife her burdens, her sorrows, and her joys. Ask the Lord for the strength to love her with the same love and purity with which He loves His Bride, the Church. (from Fr. Wade Menesis at: www.fathersofmercy.com/our_apostolates/missionaries/menezes).
[From Fr. Ed: What a gift from God, to have a prayer partner. This is a great treasury for married couples that is rarely opened. The Proverbs speak of a ‘worthy wife… [whose] husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.” (Prov. 31:10-11) Prayer helps to build this trust and spiritual intimacy. It is ultimately this intimacy that lasts forever. Jesus said, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage…” While there is no marriage between individuals love remains. St. Catherine of Sienna said that souls in heaven “…know a special kind of sharing with those whom they loved most closely with a special love in the world, a love through which they grew in grace and virtue….in everlasting life they have not lost that love; no, they still love and share with each other even more closely and fully…” (Dialogues 41) I encourage couples that I marry to pray daily together. Even if you are in bed and ready for sleep, reach over and hold hands and say a prayer together thanking God for each other and all the graces God has given you that day.
One other resource I can recommend is E5 Men at: www.e5men.org/. It is in Ephesians 5 that Paul admonishes husbands to love their wives. One of the programs of E5 is for husbands to fast on the first Wednesday of the month, praying for their wives’ well-being. Imagine the power in that sacrifice of love.]
I just finished a little treasure, Five Loaves and Two Fish by Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyen. It is a short collection of meditations on his 13-year imprisonment in Vietnam. He writes of how his faith was both challenged and sustained. He shares his experience of Phu Khanh Prison Camp in 1976:
"My morale was at its lowest. I was almost in despair. In the darkness of my cell, cut off from my diocese, from God’s people, from any human contact, I could not do a thing for anyone; I could not even talk to anyone; I felt completely useless. I prayed, but God did not seem to hear. Then all of a sudden I saw, as if in a vision, Christ on the cross, crucified and dying. He was completely helpless…certainly worse off than me in my prison cell. Then I heard a voice-was it His voice? – saying: ‘At this precise moment on the cross, I redeemed all the sins of the world."
Francis Cardinal Nguyen, pray for us.
- ▼ July (4)