Archive | July, 2012

our “not enough” on the altar

28 Jul

When we put our “not enough” on the altar, we are ready for Eucharist.

On either side of the front doors of our church is an empty niche.

The earliest photos we have of the church, from 1923 when it was dedicated

and from 1948 when the school was built next door,

 do not show anything in those spaces.

Our oldest parishioners, one of whom was the last baby baptized in the old church in 1923, do not remember anything ever having been in those niches and do not remember ever hearing any conversation through the years about why there wasn’t anything in them.

If I win the lottery and could personally fund the project, I would propose to the people for their approval that there be a statue of St. Andrew in one of niches, and in the other one, a statue of a boy with four loaves and two fish. No, that is not a typo. Four loaves.

Seeing those statutes, everyone would come through those front doors, and could enter personally into the story of this weekend’s Gospel. Andrew and the boy with the loaves would lead the procession to the altar. Standing before Jesus, Andrew would speak for himself and the boy, and for all of us, “But what good are these for so many?” We would hear Andrew acknowledge that he and the boy were not up to the task of feeding the thousands. They would admit that they did not have what they needed, that they did not have enough. We would listen as Jesus calmly and reassuringly said, “What you have, give it to me.” We would watch, as he took their “not enough,” blessed it, broke it, and gave it back to them, to give to others. We would be amazed that there was more than enough!

When we come to Mass on any given Sunday, we come with our own “not enough” of some sort. We acknowledge that we are not up to some task or some situation or some personal issue. We are not strong enough. We are not smart enough or resourceful enough. We do not have enough faith, enough trust. We do not have what we need. We simply do not have enough. As we stand before Jesus with our “not enough,” he asks us to put it on the altar.

When we put our “not enough” on the altar, we are ready for Eucharist. 

Oh, yes, the boy in the statue outside with the four loaves.  Why four, when in the story he has five? Imagine the fun we would have when we bring someone to church or we meet a visitor, and point out the statue. Calling attention to the fact that there are four loaves, we would say that it helps us remember the story of the five loaves. “Why are there just four loaves?” we would inevitably be asked. 

“The fifth loaf is inside on the altar.”

Aurora, Colorado: For how long am I his?

21 Jul

On Sunday the sung response between the readings about shepherds is the 23rd psalm.

Who is my shepherd? The King of love. Whose goodness fails me when? Never. What do I lack if I am his? Nothing. And for how long am I his? Forever.

The priest in Aurora, Colorado, will be in church on Sunday with a congregation in shock.

Some will feel ransomed and spared, as if they have been led by the shepherd to a verdant pasture where living waters flow. Some will be in a dark valley, in death’s dark vale, where they might or might not feel the Lord beside them. But before them all the Lord will spread a banquet on the altar. With heavenly (“celestial”) food he will feed them, and oh, what a “transport of delight” will flow “from his pure chalice” as he “bestows his saving grace.”

Through the long, long days ahead, when will his goodness fail them? Never.

 

The King of Love my Shepherd Is (Psalm 23)

 

The King of love my shepherd is

Whose goodness fails me never;

I nothing lack if I am his

And he is mine for ever.

 

Where streams of living water flow

My ransomed soul he leadeth,

And where the verdant pastures grow

With food celestial feedeth.

 

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love he sought me,

And on his shoulder gently laid,

And home, rejoicing, brought me.

 

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill

With thee, dear Lord, beside me;

Thy rod and staff my comfort still,

Thy cross before to guide me.

 

You spread a table in my sight;

Your saving grace bestowing;

And oh, what transport of delight

From your pure chalice flowing!

 

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never;

Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise

Within thy house forever.

 

— Henry William Baker, 1868

“So what each has offered may benefit all.”

20 Jul

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.

July 22, 2012

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

 

Collect

 Show favor, O Lord, to your servants

and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,

that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

 

Prayer over the Offerings 

O God, who in the one perfect sacrifice

brought to completion varied offerings of the law,

accept, we pray, this sacrifice from your faithful servants

and make it holy, as you blessed the gifts of Abel,

so that what each has offered to the honor of your majesty

may benefit the salvation of all.

 

Prayer after Communion 

Graciously be present to your people, we pray, O Lord,

and lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries

to pass from former ways to newness of life.

Photos Worth Thousands of Memories

7 Jul

 

Photo by Dan Campbell

To say that he has the patience of a fisherman, the eyes of an artist and the precision of a surgeon might be a bit of a Middle Eastern overstatement, but he is a very good photographer. Mark Bowen accompanied the second group of HOPE pilgrim-teachers from Cincinnati to the Holy Land, having also been with the first group in 2010.

Most often Mark is on the lens side of the camera. But once in a while he sets up the picture, turns his camera over to someone else, and is actually in the photo himself, like in this one taken by the café-keeper at Stars and Bucks in Bethlehem.  

He was also coaxed into being in this group photo, taken in Nazareth by our guide Rami on Jen’s camera.

Being himself quite taken by an event or a site, he is even known to have allowed his picture to be taken by someone else with their own camera, like this one by JoAnne at the Jordan River.

On a rare occasion, difficult to imagine but true, he has even “asked” someone else to use “his” camera to take his picture, like this one taken with Archbishop Elias Chacour at Mar Elias School in Nazareth.

Most often, though, people caught Mark, as he so often caught many of us, doing what he did best: taking pictures, and editing and saving and posting pictures, like in this one by JoAnne in Amman, Jordan

 and in this one by JoAnne on the Sea of Galilee

 and in this one by Cindy on the Sea of Galilee

and in this one by JoAnne at the Gloria Hotel in Jerusalem

 and in these two by Father Rob.

All that being shown and said, Mark has done a remarkable service and a remarkably good job of capturing the moments, the people, the emotions and the HOPEs of our Cincinnati teacher-pilgrims and our Palestinian teacher-friends during the HOPE Pilgrimage 2012. Acknowledging Mark’s work on the back end of so many photos and memories, on the front end we all want to express to him our gratitude, appreciation and admiration.

By the way, Mark, “Mom” (Nancy) especially wants you to know how much she loves you, as can be seen on her face (and yours) in this photo of the two of you, taken by JoAnne at the Dome of the Rock.

 

 

 

 

a 5th that might be a part of your 4th

4 Jul

The 1st might be a part of your 4th of July. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th will probably be a part of your Independence Day. May I suggest that you also treat yourself to a 5th – no, not that kind of a fifth, but the 5th as described below?

1st – Prayer: try the “Litany for Liberty” or the “Mass prayers for July 4: Independence Day

2nd – Flag: wear it , fly it, carry it, salute it, see it, hold your heart in front of it, pledge allegiance to it, sing under it

3rd – Hot Dog: grill it, burn it (that’s the way it’s good), bun it, mustard (up the courage to eat) it, and enjoy it like a kid, whether you grill out or grill out inside

4th – Fireworks: set them off, watch them, ooh and aah over them, be annoyed by them or be  irritated by them, just don’t burn yourself or anyone else with them

5th – Look up the meaning of “unalienable” in at least two places: You know, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Don’t assume you “know” what “unalienable” means. Look up two definitions or read two reflections about the word – and then ponder whatever stirs up within in you as ponderable.

Mass Prayers – July 4: Independence Day – in the Dioceses of the United States

4 Jul

Collect

Father of all nations and ages,

we recall the day when our country

claimed its place among the family of nations;

for what has been achieved we give you thanks,

for the work that still remains we ask your help,

and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation,

grant that, under your providence,

our country may share your blessings

with all the peoples of the earth.

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

Father, who have molded into one our nation,

drawn from the peoples of many lands;

grant, that as the grains of wheat become one bread

and the many grapes one cup of wine,

so before all others be instruments of your peace.

 

Preface 

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.

He spoke to us a message of peace

and taught us to live as brothers and sisters.

His message took form in the vision of our founding fathers

as they fashioned a nation

where we might live as one.

His message lives on in our midst

as our task for today

and a promise for tomorrow.

 

Prayer after Communion

May the love we share in this Eucharist, heavenly Father,

flow in rich blessing throughout our land

and by your grace may we as a nation

place our trust in you

and seek to do your will.

Through Christ our Lord.

“Stars and Bucks” in Bethlehem

1 Jul

Mark (the photographer) and I (the priest) decided to walk from the Church of the Nativity to our Sancta Maria Hotel. We left the flow of the pilgrims, as they headed toward the bus for the ride home. I told Mark that I wanted to stop at Stars and Bucks. Always anxious to get a shot that other eyes might not see, he eagerly tagged along.  

Our first stop along the way was for twelve pictures (he couldn’t take just one) of a man making falafel at his street-side open restaurant. Amazing how a vat of hot grease and balls of seasoned, crushed garbanzo beans becoming falafel brings joy to a photographer.

Shortly after we rounded the corner Mark shouted out, “Oh no, it is Stars and Bucks.” He saw the sign hanging over the café down the street a bit. He thought I was going to Starbucks, and was teasing him with the name. Would I tease about such a serious matter? 

The shop is on the main road in Bethlehem that leads right to Manger Square and the Nativity Church, the site of the birth of Jesus.

Most tourists and pilgrims zip right past the café in a taxi, or walk up the inclined hill on the opposite side of the street because of the location of the garage where all the giant tour busses have to park. But it was the goal of the walk Mark and I were taking … Stars and Bucks.

As I walked into the café and saw that they had coffee mugs for sale, I gave out my own acclamation in the little town of Bethlehem, “Yes!” I had joy like the shepherds and the angels on Christmas eve in the fields of sheep and shepherds. Well, that may be a bit overdone.

My buddy Paul has a collection of Starbucks mugs (see yesterday’s post), but he does not have, and not many people in the whole world have a coffee mug from Stars and Bucks in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Mark bought two mugs, one for his daughter and her husband. I bought one for Paul, and one for myself. Mark was enjoying the moment so much he agreed to get into a picture, and gave his camera to one of the keepers of the café, who seemed a bit puzzled by the performance being played out in his sleepy shop.

My regrets are that I didn’t sit down for coffee and conversation with the locals, and that I didn’t buy a whole case of the mugs. I could have left a lot of clothes behind to have room for them in my return suitcase. I have something to add to my itinerary the next time.

Photos 2, 3 by Mark Bowen/HOPE. Photos 4, 5, 6 by Waseim/Beit Jala. Photos 1, 8 by Father Rob/Milford. Phot0 7 by Stars and Bucks Café Keeper/Bethlehem, using camera of Mark Bowen/HOPE. Phew! Everybody gets due credit.

Litany for Liberty

1 Jul

INTRODUCTION 

Christ the Lord has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Let us turn to him in humble but fervent petition,

seeking the grace to root out from our hearts all trace of darkness,

and all that holds us back

from walking in the full freedom of the children of God.

As Christ is our great model for that inner freedom,

which enables us to do the right,

let us turn to him with confidence

that we, too, may follow him to the fullness of spiritual freedom.

 

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

 

Jesus, victor over sin and death… Free our hearts.

Jesus, source of light and hope… Free our hearts.

Jesus, fullness of truth and mystery… Free our hearts.

Jesus, teacher of seeking hearts… Free our hearts.

Jesus, healer of body and soul… Free our hearts.

Jesus, bringer of mercy and justice… Free our hearts.

Jesus, who humble the heart and mind… Free our hearts.

Jesus, release of captives… Free our hearts.

Jesus, voice against violence… Free our hearts.

Jesus, courage for the lowly/downtrodden… Free our hearts.

Jesus, origin of all authority and power… Free our hearts.

Jesus, true lawgiver… Free our hearts.

Jesus, unity of order and passion… Free our hearts.

Jesus, freedom of the Spirit… Free our hearts.

Jesus, obedient Son of the Father… Free our hearts.

 

For the freedom to love… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to believe… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to hope… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to worship… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to serve in charity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to care for the suffering… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to comfort the sick… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to feed the hungry… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to shelter the homeless… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to proclaim the Gospel… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to walk in chastity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to live in peace… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to work in good conscience… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to stand in solidarity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to seek justice… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject sin… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject coercion… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject falsehood… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject evil temptations… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject injustice… Give us your grace.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

O God, who gave one origin to all peoples

and willed to gather from them one family for yourself,

fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love

and kindle in them a desire

for the just advancement of their neighbor,

that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all,

each human person may be brought to perfection,

every division may be removed,

and equity and justice may be established in human society.

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.

Amen.

 

(C) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

“No, I’m not talking about Twitter”

1 Jul