Tag Archives: Mass

three reasons

20 Aug

During the Mass in Cremisan valley our pilgrim-teachers saw three reasons for why they were praying and singing in the olive grove.

Here are two …

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… and here’s a third.

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These children deserve a green space in which to picnic and play.  

That’s why we sang and prayed.

 

this chalice

19 Aug

In June our pilgrim-teachers joined Father Ibrahim, the local parish priest of Beit Jala, for the every Friday afternoon Mass in an olive grove of the Cremisan valley. We prayed for a particular answer to a particular prayer: that the Israeli security wall not be built along the proposed route through the valley.

Father Ibrahim told the international visitors and the local people in attendance that the group of teachers that came from Cincinnati in 2012 brought a chalice with their names inscribed on the bottom as a gift to the parish of Beit Jala and as a sign of solidarity and continued prayers. Abouna (Arabic for Father) said that this chalice has been used every week since then.

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It was this chalice that I prepared for Mass with the wine and water.

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It was this chalice that Abouna Ibrahim raised high at the consecration of the Mass, holding the blood of Christ “poured out for us and for all.”

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“starring” the prayers of others

24 Jul

Before we left on pilgrimage we gathered prayer petitions from parishioners, families, students, friends, co-workers and classmates. Yes, I said “classmates.” One of our pilgrims is a student in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program of our Archdiocese. From her classmates she collected a huge stack of prayers, many of which were written in Vietnamese.

Mary Jo, a teacher at our SASEAS School, and her daughter Bridget, just weeks away from her wedding, cut and pasted all the prayers on heavy paper and created a real work of art.

All the prayers were folded into a book that was easy to pack and carry.

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The book opened up into a star shape that could rest right on the corner of the altar whenever we prayed.

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Cathy, the lay ministry student, kept the prayers with her at all times. Here she touches the prayers to the rock of Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, joining the cries of many to the cry of Jesus to his Father.

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The prayers rested during Mass on the altar over the stone of the holy (and empty) tomb of Jesus.

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The prayers were with us as we celebrated Mass with the local Christians in the olive grove of the Cremisan Valley near Beit Jala (Bethlehem).

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On the Sea of Galilee we celebrated Mass at an outdoor altar on the edge of the water near the home of Peter and Andrew in Capernaeum. We opened up the prayers to God there as well.

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And the prayers were with us for the last time at Mass on the Mount of Beatitudes.

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We left all the prayers that we brought with the Sisters who live in the convent on the Mount of Beatitudes. Cathy and I were just starting to explain to one of the Sisters what we wanted to do, when she scooped them out of Cathy’s hands, “Tell the people that the Sisters will continue to pray for their intentions.” Sister knew what we wanted – and what our parishioners, families, students, friends, co-workers and classmates wanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

celebrating Jesus in green, red and white

23 Jul

One of the good things about “having a priest” on a pilgrimage is that you get to celebrate Mass every day. One of the good things about “being a priest” on pilgrimage is that I get to celebrate Mass every day, each time at a site that was significant in the life of Jesus or is significant to the local Catholics today, and thus are significant to us.

The color was green when I concelebrated with Father Ibrahim, the parish priest of Beit Jala (Bethlehem) and Father Faysal, the General Director of the Latin Patriarchate Schools of Palestine and Israel.

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At Capernaum along the Sea of Galilee we celebrated in red, in honor of the Apostles Peter and Andrew.

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In the olive grove of the Cremisan Valley, Father Ibrahim and I wore white vestments.

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In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, if we had been on Mount Calvary, I would have worn red. But since we had Mass at the Holy Tomb, the color was Easter white.

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At the Milk Grotto shrine in Bethlehem the color was, well, you can see for yourself.

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to help, care and show

1 Feb

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Homily at Catholic Schools Week all-school Mass

If I were to ask your teachers how many reasons they have for why they like teaching at this school, I bet they would say, “Let me see. How many students do I have?”

Mrs. Sackrider, how many students do you have?

Each of you is a reason why your teachers like teaching at this school. You are the reasons.

Mrs. Sackrider, how many reasons do you have for why you like teaching at this school?

Where are the seventh graders? Your teachers are going to help you get to the 8th grade.

Fourth graders, your teachers are going to help you get to the 5th grade.

First graders, your teachers are going to help you get to the … ?

Eighth grade, we don’t have any more grades in our school, so your teachers are going to help you get to …?

Kindergartners, this is hardest one. Your teachers are going to help you get to …?

But your teachers are not only going to help you get to your next grade. Your teachers are going to help all of you get to the same place. Your teachers are going to help you all of you get to …?

You’re right. Your teachers are going to help you all of you get to heaven! Because they care not just about your mind and your body. They care about your souls. They teach about the saints, so that you will want to be a saint. And they will help you to be a saint, not just by teaching you about saints, but, most importantly, by showing you how to be a saint.

To help you get to heaven, to care about your soul, to show you how to be a saint – that’s Father Cordier’s job, that’s my job, that’s Mr. Devolve’s job, that’s Mr. Grieco and Mrs. Ducheny’s job, that’s Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Clayton’s job, that’s your teacher’s job, and, yes, that is the job of the maintenance men: to help you get to heaven, to care about your soul and to show you how to be a saint.

Isn’t it wonderful having a Catholic school?

I have homework and a question for the teachers. Teachers are usually the ones giving homework and asking questions. Now, they get the homework and are asked the question.

The homework? Pray for every one of your students, individually, by name, before you fall asleep tonight. You would probably be surprised by how often your students pray for you before they fall asleep. Mr. Estes, Mrs. Mascolino, Mr. Powers and Mr. Eskra, you’re going to have to start right after supper!

The question? Have you ever taken a list of your students with you to Mass on Sunday to pray for each of them by name? Maybe this Sunday.

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.”