Sunday, June 29, 2014

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul - "Lord, I am not worthy"

“Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” cried Peter; falling to his knees; realizing, as he witnessed the miracle of the catch of fish, that Jesus is the One sent by God.  In that moment, when God’s glory and true holiness was revealed in the light from within Christ, Peter was confronted with the realities of his imperfect life.  In the light of Christ revealed: Peter saw his sins and came to understand how his life, to that point, was spent in sin and sadness.  With sorrow and regret Peter deemed himself unworthy to be in the presence of the Lord.

How frail and failed we humans are when true perfection is revealed in the light of Christ.  In His light our sinfulness stands out in sharp relief.  Our unworthiness becomes all too apparent in contrast to the sweet holiness of Jesus; causing us to tremble and fall under the weight of our offences against God.  We too, like Peter feel unworthy in His company and wish ourselves banished from His holy presence.  In our humiliation and shame we too say, “Depart from me Lord, for I am sinful and unworthy: as if our unworthiness would contaminate Him.  

But it is in His love we find perfection.  It is through Christ that we gain what was lost through Adam.  He is our Good Shepherd; returning the lost sheep to the fold, we are the son who was dead, now returned alive to the Father’s embrace.

It is only through God’s mercy and grace and in the love of Christ that we, who are unworthy, are raised up.  Our redemption is made manifest, not by anything we do, but when the Holy Spirit captures our hearts, so the love of Christ can find fertile soil to grow and expand.  It is in giving ourselves over to His love, surrendering ourselves to His will and opening ourselves up to live in close and familiar rapport with Him - that we fulfill Jesus’ command to love God above all and one another, as we love ourselves.

The most zealous persecutor of Christians, - through the love of God, was brought to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  Saint Paul was spent by God as he carried the Good News of Christ to the Gentiles.

Who better to bring a sinner to the Lord than another sinner?  Paul confessed his great sinfulness as a persecutor of Christ.  No one was more unworthy of God’s grace than he - who aided in the martyrdom of Stephen, denounced and condemned Christians; forcing them to blaspheme the name of Christ. No enemy of Christ was more infamous than Paul or showed more zeal and passion in oppressing Christ and Christians.  The name of Saul brought terror to Christians.

It was through this sinful man, - through this most unworthy person that God brought the Word of salvation to the Gentiles.  Tirelessly he persecuted Christ and his followers, and tirelessly he preached the Word of God, persistently spreading the Good News to pagans and suffering most cruelly for speaking of Christ.  His miraculous conversion changed him from terrifying persecutor - to great fisher of men.  It was only through these trials and tests of suffering that Paul would gladly say, “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”  

In these two Apostles we find God’s love and glory.  In these two sinners we find God’s truth in using the weak things of the world to bring about His kingdom.  
In Peter we find the Rock upon which Christ built his Church and in Paul we see the glory and power of God.  In them we see all man’s failures and weakness gathered up and purified in the love of Christ.

So, (let us) be filled with joy and hope in the Risen Lord, that we who are unworthy, as were Peter & Paul, will find redemption in the love of God, who makes worthy and useful - to His purpose, - sinners.  By His mercy and grace will are lifted up and given a place in His heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Deacon Don

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi - Food that Fills, Drink that Quenches & Practicum

We do not have life on our own, but through the grace of God.  Our lives are sustained through Real Food and Real Drink, the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Christ.

We are fed at the Word of God – who has fulfilled His promise of salvation through the Son, Jesus Christ.  As He saved the Hebrews from the deprivations of life at the hands of their oppressors - feeding them manna in the desert and making water flow from the rock – he bring us life giving food and drink - His promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.

In the Body and Blood of Christ we are continually refreshed.  This is food and drink for our journey – sustaining us, strengthening us, giving us all we need for the challenges of discipleship in Christ, Jesus that leads us to everlasting life.

There are two dimensions to the saving grace of God. Food and drink for the journey and companionship, so we may be alone.  As we each receive the life giving bread and wine we also gather together in community, the Body of Christ, His Church.  We are the people of God, all together – called to love one another and live in that love together as a people.  

We come together, gathering in worship and praise, around the table of the Lord.  Just as our Lord, Jesus gathered with others at meal, teaching, sharing and giving of Himself, we gather around the holy table of the mass, with Him in our midst, teaching, sharing and giving of ourselves with His same love - to all our brothers and sisters.

And, as in the feeding of the five-thousand – we share together in the Body and Blood of Christ - all at the table are fed, - yet the drink is not diminished and the food is not decreased – the larder always remains full. 

Jesus is the well that does not run dry – the living water that quenches our thirst forever.  Come, gather round all you who are thirsty, have your fill.  All you who are hungry, partake of this life-giving food and everlasting drink.  Be nourished with that which satisfies our real hunger and thirst – our real desire – for that which is holy and everlasting.


The other day I had the pleasure of meeting and training new Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for our two churches.  Now, we call them Extra-Ordinary Ministers because they are ‘Extra’ to the Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion – Priests and Deacons, but they also are extraordinary people - as the beloved of God, because they have discerned the call of God in their hearts to serve our community in bringing the Blessed Sacrament to His holy people during the mass.

As we were going over the basics of distributing communion during mass, I thought this would be a good opportunity to refresh everyone on the proper reception of Holy Communion.  From my observations our communities have a good understand of how to receive, but it never hurts to brush up on our table manners.

Communion in the Hand
First, I will address those of us who receive Communion in the hand.  By special indult from the Holy See in 1977, the Church in the United States is permitted to receive the host in the hand.  Pope Paul VI cautioned against certain abuses, especially a lessening in our belief in and reverence for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  

  • Remember you receive communion, you do not take communion – the Host is placed in your hand – not taken by you with your fingers. 
  • Don’t reach out to take the host from the minister, but elevate your hands to the chest level (especially children)
  • Hold your palm opened, with your recessive hand resting on top of your dominant hand (if you are right-handed – your right hand should be under your left hand). The minister will place the host in your open palm – then using your dominant hand - pick up the host and place it in your mouth
  • Consume the host while standing in front of the minister, not as you walk away.  Don’t worry about holding up the line. The host should be consumed when received. The ministers are required to ensure the host is consumed by the communicant at reception.
  • Also, please note that no one is allowed to bring the host to someone who is unable to join the communion reception line. If someone attends mass, but cannot stand in the communion line, please notify an usher who will escort a minister to where the person is sitting, so they may properly receive communion.
  • Please, do not present a pyx or other container to a minister, so you can receive a host to take to someone at home. (the host may never be placed or carried in anything but a solid metal – gold, silver or brass – container designed for such appropriate use)
  • Only properly commissioned ministers may bring communion to the homebound. Please call the parish office to arrange for someone from our Pastoral Care ministry to bring communion to the homebound.

Communion on the tongue
It is good to see that at many of our communicants continue to receive the Eucharist on the tongue.  This is the regular and normal practice for reception of the Body of Christ.  By receiving communion in this manner, the chance of stray particles falling or remaining on someone’s hand are reduced or eliminated. Remember – we believe that at the consecration – the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ and remains so, until consumed.  This is the Real Presence of the Lord, the gift given to us by Him at the Last Supper.

When receiving communion on the tongue remember to:

  • Give the minister a proper platform upon which to place the host. Stick out your tongue – we will not be offended or insulted (unless you do so in the parking lot after mass).
  • Do not try to take the host in your teeth
  • And my personal favorite - Do not present your mouth as if it were a CD player - where the minister has to insert the host in a narrow slot. 
  • Stick out your tongue and receive the Bread of Life!

For as we heard in the Gospel of John:
Jesus proclaiming,
“I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread I will give for the life of the world is my flesh!”
And His Church responds, “Amen, Alleluia!”

Deacon Don

Sunday, June 1, 2014

7th Sunday in Easter - John 17: 1-11a - "Prayer & Spirit"

Happy Easter!  The Lord is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
He has ascended to the Father! Alleluia! Alleluia!
He sends us the Holy Spirit as He promised! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let us rejoice and be glad for Jesus has shown us the way to the Father is through Him.  All that Jesus has - given him by the Father - Jesus has shared with us.  To know Jesus is to know the Father.  This is the truth we accept as disciples.  This is the reality of our faith.  Knowledge of the Father is through the Son and in the Son we have knowledge of the Father. Jesus is the gateway that leads to eternal life in the Father.

The Spirit of the Father and the Son is coming to - guide and comfort us, - lead and console us, - direct and assure us - so we may continue to lead others to Jesus, so they too may know the Father and the Son and have eternal life.  Jesus knows we need the Spirit of the Father and the Son to strengthen us and be with us in this world.

The power of the evil-one is a deadly force against which Jesus sends us the Spirit, so we may resist and overcome temptation.  With the Spirit we find courage to live as disciples, keeping the Word within us and sharing the Word with the world, so all may come to know the Father and the Son.

In prayer, we invite the Spirit into our hearts.
In prayer, we find strength and courage to discern God’s call to us in our hearts and live that call each day.
In prayer, our discipleship in Christ grows and our love increases.
In prayer, God’s love for us is revealed enabling us to bring His love to others.
In prayer, the seeds of our life in Christ finds fertile soil and grows in the Light of God’s love.
In prayer, we hear the voice of the Shepherd calling us to follow him to safety and peace - to verdant pastures and running streams - in the kingdom of God.

Today, we hear the Apostles gathering in prayer in preparation for the coming of the Spirit and in preparation for all they will do in bringing the Good News of Jesus to the world.  We too need to pray, in preparation for all Jesus asks of us, as we bring the Good News to the world of God’s love for all His children.

Let us continue to invite the Holy Spirit, Father and Son - to come upon us through constant prayer.  As disciples, who truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the one who bring us into the embrace of the Father’s love:
We proclaim today and everyday– Jesus Christ is Lord!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!

Deacon Don Ron