Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remembering Romero . . .

the Assassination of 
Archbishop Oscar Romero
March 24, 1980

Days before his murder Archbishop Romero told a reporter, "You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish."
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

Oscar Romero was buried at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Good-bye, Winter! Hello, Spring!!

Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The gray perished landscape is shorn of color. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged.

Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are waking up.

Colors are beginning to imagine how they will return. Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of color emerges.

The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward; change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the full confidence of true arrival.

Because nothing is abrupt, the beginning of spring nearly always catches us unawares. It is there before we see it; and then we can look nowhere without seeing it. 

(Thresholds/To Bless the Space Between Us by
John O’Donohue)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Waiting for Spring - hurry up!

Image by Doris Klein, CSA

Ready for Spring (by Annette L. Sherwood, 2013)
I stand here watching
waiting, listening
in early Spring
I see the tiny bud
shooting up from
the tip of the branch
in anticipation, I remain still
I take in the cold air,
watching a few snowflakes fall by,
even feeling some of them
melt on my cheek
I breathe in this Holy moment
I did not plant the seed,
nor spend effort to encourage
original years of growth
No, that was not my work
only yours, Dear
I stand here with you now,
holding your hand,
awaiting Spring

We've made it through
another harsh spell,
cold, windy, bare
facing together a New Season,
we stand in a patch of wet snow
as it melts at our feet

Here I am, to Rejoice with you
 as we experience New Growth
 little buds are formed,
 the flowering has already begun
 together or apart, we delight
 and share this moment
 knowing New Life,
 fresh perspective, and green leaves
 are arriving,
 even as the last storm is passing…

 Spring starts blossoming now

 The winter of our hearts will
 begin to fade into cold
 distant memories

 Joy begins sprouting
 with our eyes,
 in our smiles,
 as it softens our hearts,
 leading us to laughter

 Hope enters,
 which we know
 will bud,
 into the flower,
 and then the seed,
 gently dropping to feed the birds

 The passing order of this Season
 feels like it is rooting us on
 toward New Life

 Before long,
 these cold days will pass away
 into warm ones with
 mild breezes
 Easter Blessings
 carrying a new promise for Life

 In Gratitude,
 I bear witness
 to Your Beautiful Spring
 and Celebrate!

Feast of Joseph the Worker . . .

Joseph is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without a complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. His life is a succession of prophecies and dream-messages of packing up and moving on. He is the man who dreams of setting up a quiet household, simply leading a home life and going about his affairs, attending to his business and worshiping God and who, instead, is condemned to a life of wandering. 

Beset with doubts, heavy-hearted and uneasy in his mind, his whole life disrupted. He has to take to the open road, to make his way through an unfriendly country finding no shelter but a miserable stable for those he holds most dear. He is the man who sets aside all thought of self and shoulders his responsibilities bravely — and obeys. 

His message is willing obedience. He is the man who serves. It never enters his head to question God's commands. He makes all the necessary preparations and is ready when God's call comes. Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. This is his message for us. 

Author Unknown

A Prayer for Work . . . 
Creator God, thank you for providing us with the gift to share our talents. Provide our community, our nation, our world the fortitude to provide work for all which is decent and fair. Make us faithful stewards of your creation to enhance the human dignity of our global family.  We ask this in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen. 
(From Being Neighbor: The Catechism and Social Justice, USCCB)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Patrick ~ Man of Courage, Man of Myth!

St. Patrick
May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more
And nothing but happiness
Come though your door

The Blessing of Light, Rain and Earth
May the blessing of Light be on you
light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you
And warm your heart till it glows
Like a great peat fire, so that the stranger
may come and warm himself at it
and also a friend.

And may the light shine out of the two eyes of you
Like a candle set in the windows of a house
Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the Rain be upon you, the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up
And shed their sweetness on the air
And may the blessing of the Great Rains be on you
May they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean
And leave there many a shining pool where the blue of heaven shines
And sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the Earth be upon you, the great round earth
May you ever have a kindly greeting for them you pass
As you're going along the roads
May the earth be soft under you when you rest upon it
Tire at the end of the day
And may it rest easy over you
When at the last you lay out under it
May it rest so lightly over you
That your soul may be out from under it quickly
And up, and off, and on its way to God.
(Author Unknown)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Woman, A Well, and the Word!

In 2004, the revolutionary work of the renowned Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, was published in a book entitled, The Hidden Messages in Water.  He discovered that molecules of water are affected by our thoughts, words and feelings. He showed in his research, that when ice forms under positive conditions, (that is, when water is exposed to positive and loving words) then the ice crystals form complex, colorful snowflake patterns.  Then again, he showed that when it is exposed to negative conditions, the crystals that form are incomplete and dull in color. Since humans and the earth are composed mostly of water, his message is one of personal health, global environmental renewal, and a practical plan for peace that starts with each one of us.  His findings imply that we can positively impact the earth. 

In Sunday’s reading from Exodus, God’s hidden message in the water from the rock was that God was present in their midst totally and tenderly. The story recounts the murmuring of the people in the wilderness and the miracle of life-giving water from the rock. Truly, the people thirsted, yet rebelled against Moses and lacked trust in God. 

Here for these desert people, the messages hidden in the water invited them into a deeper awareness that God is truly the one that quenches all thirsts, satisfies all hungers, and fills all emptiness. God was constantly calling them to the Promised Land, but just as constantly, they wanted to go in their own direction. 

In our Gospel, Jesus is in pagan territory, enemy territory, in Samaria where he is absolutely not supposed to be. But as usual, Jesus disregards the rules and breaks through boundaries and borders. He is tired and thirsty, sitting by the ancient well which belongs to Jacob. Then something extraordinary happens. Jesus is approached by a Samaritan woman, engages her in conversation about religion, and opens her mind and heart in ways that he has not done for anyone else. The result is that he completely changes her, transforms her, if you will. He accepts her as she is and asks for her help.He speaks to her about her life and tells her about herself, and she says, “I see you are a prophet.” Jesus invited her to raise her believing beyond the immediate reality of water of the well that satisfies physical thirst to what would satisfy her spiritual thirst. 

In this encounter, Jesus tells her who he is. He opens himself up and reveals himself to her, calling himself, ‘I Am,’ – the name Yahweh gave to Moses in the burning bush. Transformed in her hope, she then can share the joy of her discovery and bring her neighbors to Jesus.  Having fulfilled her task she then moves again into the background. The townspeople no longer need her.  She has brought them to Jesus. The encounter with Jesus had transformed her life, and she had received a gift that no one could take away from her. “For God’s hope does not disappoint, and God’s intimate love has been poured out into her very being."

Now with the grace of love, acceptance, faith, joy, truth, and freedom the hidden messages within her own life-giving well are generously and abundantly shared with all who are willing to encounter this woman.  For now she stands tall in her transformation. Jesus is the “Gift of God” who is Living Water. The secret message in Jesus, the Living Water is that he is the real well!

If we drink from Jesus we will never be thirsty again.  If we make Jesus the center of our lives, we will have a spring of water welling up from within us, giving us life, no matter what is happening around us!

So let us ask this woman of the well to walk with us during these Lenten days.  Let her guide us in our journey of faith, hope, and love, so that we, too, will be open to the “Hidden Messages” of the Life-Giving Water that our God so desires to pour into our hearts.

In closing, the following reflections are by Edwina Gately who places the following words upon the lips of our Samaritan woman.

“He tells me who he is -
The Christ- the one we all await,
The one who is to come, is here!
I am swelling with a joy and freedom I have never known!
There is a rush like cleansing water
Running through me, Leaving me light as air.
I have no need now - For my jar of clay.
I run - With the Living Water!
I run with the Good News entrusted to me –
To me – By the Christ - Who waited for me, received and filled me at the well
Where women gather.
Honored, blessed, Bearer of new life.
First witness of the Christ - Amongst us
Who broke the rules of exclusion,
Who dared to speak to a woman,
Who asked a favor from such as I,
Then chose me,
Chose me,
The woman
To run, oh, so filled up,
With such Good News."

P.S . According to Orthodox tradition, the Samaritan woman was renamed Photini, "Equal to the Apostles,” and went on to witness in Africa and Rome before being martyred for her faith.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Praying for the World . . .

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.

Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.

Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.

Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.

And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.

Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.

And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.

 (A Prayer for the World - Rabbi Harold Kushner – 2003)