Archive | November, 2011

No Hatred or Violence, Please

30 Nov

Archbishop Chacour (CNS/Paul Haring)

In her October 25 article on the Catholic News Service website, Deborah Gyapong begins by noting that Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour is Palestinian, an Arab, a Christian and an Israeli citizen, and that he is proud of each one of his identities.

Here are snippets of the piece by Ms. Gyapong: 

  • “We have been labeled a nation of terrorists,” he said. “We have been a nation terrorized for over 70 years.” 
  • If people sympathize with the suffering of Palestinians in refugee camps, or struggling under the occupation in Gaza or the West Bank, or as second-class citizens in Israel, they might decide “to be on our side,” he said. “If being on our side with the Palestinians, being for us, means being against the Jews, we do not need your friendship,” he said. “You reduce yourselves to being one more enemy.”  
  • Archbishop Chacour said his parents taught him never to hate, even though, when he was 8, the Israeli military ordered his family to leave their home in their ancestral village. Expecting to be allowed to return, his family and other villagers lived for two weeks in the hills. Then the family heads went to speak with Israeli authorities about returning to their homes. Instead of inviting them back, the military herded them onto military trucks “like cattle” and dropped them off across the border at Nablus, West Bank, and told them not to return. 
  • In 1953, his home village was razed and the land confiscated by the Israeli government, he said. But he does not use these experiences as a pretext for hatred or violence. Instead, he has devoted his life to reconciliation and building peace among Jews, Christians and Muslims. 
  • “We Palestinians and Jews do not need to learn how to live together,” he said. “We just need to remember how we used to live together for centuries and centuries.”

Read the entire article here: “Melkite archbishop urges Christians to support Jews and Palestinians.”

the “Great Introducer” – and the “First Called”

30 Nov

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew. For us at St. Andrew this is big! On this day we remember Andrew – and Andrew remembers us.

Entrance Antiphon (Matthew 4: 18-19)

Beside the Sea of Galilee, the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.

Collect

We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your  church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you.  

Prayer over the Offerings

Grant us, almighty God, that through these offerings, which we bring on the feast day of Saint Andrew, we may please you by what we have brought and be given life by what you have accepted.

Communion Antiphon (John 1: 41-42)

Andrew told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus.

Prayer after Communion  

May communion in your Sacrament strengthen us, O Lord, so that by the example of the blessed  Apostle Andrew we, who carry in our body the Death of Christ, may merit to live with him in glory.

“Keep my spirit, until I come back”

29 Nov

At the farewell dinner the night before the Christian teachers from the Holy Land left us to fly back home, Rogeece, in the name of the group, presented me with a piece of olive wood in the shape of a heart. This is how she explained the gift: 

When we were at the Freedom Center, I watched a six-to-seven minute video about a young boy who was from a slave family. He was escaping, in order to look for freedom, and then return to his family. His hope was to bring back freedom for all of them. When the young boy was about to say goodbye to his mother and his young sister, he gave them a heart-shaped stone. Handing his heart to his sister, he said, “Keep my spirit, until I come back.” He meant to come back as a human being, with all his rights and dignity, to give freedom to all of them.

As we leave Cincinnati, we give a heart-shaped piece of olive wood to you, our father, and to our sisters and brothers that we leave behind. We ask you to keep our spirit, until we get peace in our land, the Holy Land, until we live with our families in peaceful and just conditions, and until we return with dignity.

I will keep your heart close to my heart, Rogeece. I will keep your spirit, until you come back.

Emphasis on “Now”

28 Nov

In the Mass prayers proper to the First Sunday of Advent, we found these new words in the updated English translation, and noticed an emphasis on “now.”

Collect: “the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming … so that, gathered at his right hand”

Prayer over the Offerings: “gathered from among your gifts to us”

Preface: “the great promise in which now we dare to hope”

Prayer after Communion: “for even now you teach us … to hold fast to what endures”

Did Not Keep Us from Praying

28 Nov

All day on Friday and Saturday, I had that icky, nervous, churning, unsettled, bothersome feeling in my belly, that feeling that I get whenever I feel uncertain or incompetent or inexperienced (or when I am worrying, as I regrettably do too often, about how I will perform or how I will look in the eyes of others).  

After Masses on Sunday I was exhausted and relieved – and grateful. It was an exhaustion and relief full of gratitude. 

Even during Mass on the weekend I was feeling grateful for the Deacon and the Music Director with whom I serve here at St. Andrew.

Dovile has been remarkably capable and positive (and patient with me). Her choir members were of immense assistance, some of them coming to more than one Mass in order to help the congregation (and me) to navigate our way through the changes.

I find it hard to imagine how priests could have survived the First Sunday of Advent this year without the presence and assurance of a liturgically savvy deacon like I have at my side when I am in the sanctuary.

Add to that the good sport and ever willing, flexible and humble (and brilliant) Sunday priest-associate that we have in Father Ken Morman.

All things considered, our transition to the new words and chant were as uneventful as they were eventful. How did it go at Masses this weekend at St. Andrew? It was as much a non-event as it was a huge event, thanks to Karen Kane and her Archdiocesan Worship Office and the outstanding learning opportunities and materials and worship aids provided for us, to Dovile Krempasky and her choir members, to Deacon Tim Schutte, to Father Ken Morman – and to the good people of St. Andrew who have been accepting, teachable, responsive and engaged during the time of preparation – and of especial good humor during the “first” Masses that we celebrated together.

Of course, we all flubbed up and stumbled a few times, but it did not keep us from praying. Contrary to the headline in this morning’s local newspaper, there was “no Mass confusion” here at St. Andrew. Today I feel proud to be a Catholic priest, and humbled to be able to be the parish priest among the Catholics of Milford.

the Great Promise in which Now We Dare to Hope.

26 Nov

Moments ago at the end of Saturday morning Mass, November 26, we closed the book on the English words that we have used to pray at Mass for the last forty years – and the only words that I have used at the altar since my ordination thirty-six and a half years ago. There is sadness in the parting. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. This evening, with the first Mass of the First Sunday of Advent, we begin anew with the updated English translation.

For a while we will need to focus on the words of the text and the notes of the chant. For a while it will be difficult to “pray,” but in a while the new words and notes will speak to our hearts.

Perhaps, when you hear new words, you will hear a new word from God, meant especially for you. Perhaps, in speaking new words, you will approach God in a fresh way.

As the prophet Isaiah suggests, perhaps the Lord, who is the potter, is forming us, the clay, into a new vessel.

That is an image that is suited to a lot of life. The clay does not know what it is becoming, only that it is in the hands of the potter. While the clay is feeling the spinning about that is taking place on the potter’s wheel, the clay also feels the warmth of the hands of the one who is forming it.

For many people at Mass this weekend, the adjustment in the words of Mass is far from being the biggest adjustment that they are making in life at this moment. There are bigger things in life that throw us off balance, and that cause us to be disoriented, and that make it difficult for us to pray. Compared to changes that you might be navigating in life, these changes in words at Mass are nothing.

And as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend – after all, every Eucharistic prayer is changed, and every prayer that I will pray from the chair will be a new prayer for the whole next year – as I begin to think that my adjustments are bigger than anyone else who is at Mass this weekend, I say to myself, “Wait a minute. God will give me the grace to make the changes I need to make. God will give you the grace to make the adjustments you need to make. That is true, not just for the changes in the Mass words today, but for all the adjustments that we ever need to make in life.”

In all things and at all times, in everything and in every way, the Lord is coming to us with newness of life and creating something new in us. As the Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer reminds us on this, the First Sunday of Advent, that is “the great promise in which now we dare to hope.”

Preface I of Advent: November 27-December 16, 2011

26 Nov

Preface I of Advent

(The following Preface is said in Masses of Advent from the First Sunday of Advent to December 16.)

The Lord be with you. And with your spirit. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right and just.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, as we sing the hymn of your glory without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Orations: November 27, 2011 – First Sunday of Advent

25 Nov

As we prepare for Sunday Mass, we study these prayers that the priest prays from the Roman Missal as he stands at his chair and at the altar. It is quite easy to find the readings for Sunday Mass. It is not so easy to find these prayers.

COLLECT

Let us pray

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 PRAYER OVER THE OFFERINGS

Accept, we pray, O Lord, these offerings we make, gathered from among your gifts to us, and may what you grant us to celebrate devoutly here below gain for us the prize of eternal redemption. Through Christ our Lord.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

May these mysteries, O Lord, in which we have participated, profit us, we pray, for even now, as we walk amid passing things, you teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures. Through Christ our Lord.

Peace the Angels Sang About

23 Nov

In the fields near Bethlehem … “Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Bethlehem is still not enjoying the peace that the angels sang about on that first Christmas night.

When we sing the Gloria at Mass, we begin, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.” We sing the hymn of the angels at Christmas.

Eman, a teacher in the Catholic school in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, was at St. Andrew a few weeks ago, with other teachers from Catholic schools throughout the Holy Land. Coming from the West Bank, from Jordan and from Israel, the teachers spent time with teachers from our school, learning together and establishing a partnership for continued learning together.

At Sunday Mass as we sang the Gloria, we noticed Eman looking up.

A teacher from Bethlehem looking up as the hymn of the angels is sung. Was she hearing the angels? Was she expecting to hear them? Was she thinking of the angels and their peace song? Was she thinking of her students in Bethlehem who long for the peace about which angels sing?

We did not ask. We thought it best to leave it between her, the angels and the Prince of Peace born in Bethlehem.

Celtic Woman’s “Believe” – did I wind up on the cutting room floor?

21 Nov

While in Atlanta, I visited Ebenezer Baptist Church, and sat near the pulpit from which Dr. Martin Luther King first preached. Being the only person in the church, I tried to hear the cadence of his words.

And I spent time in the Presidential Library of Jimmy Carter, a man with a heart for the Palestinian people in their struggles, which has endeared him to me.

But my reason for making the 460 mile, eight-hour drive to Atlanta was to sit in the Fox Theater for the live taping of “Believe,” Celtic Woman’s new show.

I had been in Ireland for the taping of their previous “Songs from the Heart” – and Atlanta is a lot closer than Dublin.

My seat at the Dublin show won me a place, actually four places, on the “Songs of the Heart” DVD: at the end of The Moon’s A Harsh MistressGoodnight My AngelMy Lagan Love – and my best performance, in the middle of  Slumber My Darling / The Mason’s Apron.

My chances of being on this next “Believe” DVD are not so likely. But I will be watching our local WCET at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 4. My friend at WCET, Dan Virzi, is hoping for a lot of pledges to the station during the show. I am hoping, hoping against hope, for only one appearance.

My question to Scott Porter, CEO of Celtic Woman, on Twitter was, “Did I wind up on the cutting room floor?” His reply tweet was evasive and teasing, “@AndrewAbuna You’ll have to tune in to find out.”

Even if I am not seen on the show or on the new DVD, the trip was worth every minute in the car. The music of Celtic Woman is lovely and pure. Besides, I came home with a photo of me and Lisa Kelly, my favorite Celtic Woman, taken after a “Hi, Father Rob, the only priest I know who is on Twitter.” I was going to post the photo here …

… but I can be teasing and evasive, too. I guess you’ll have to sneak a peek at the “wallpaper” on my laptop or my cell phone.

Support WCET/PBS on December 4 – and look for me!