About that wedding on Saturday...

 A few days before the royal nuptials I posted on FaceBook that I had “little to no interest” in the wedding.  Many FB friends agreed, many disagreed.  The stronger responses came after the wedding, with many commenting on Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon on love.  Since then I’ve watched the whole wedding on YouTube with particular focus on the sermon.

Curry preached a strong and compelling sermon on love with a fervor I suspect was at least a little constrained by the occasion and setting.  Still, there was there was no room left to doubt the bishop’s personal faith and convictions - his sermon was a blend of testimony and proclamation, delivered with inviting warmth. 

One commenter on my post wrote that the “wedding was a great home run for bringing God back into marriage.”  It’s on this very point, however, that I would critique the sermon.  Speaking powerfully about love, the preacher made little connection with either marriage in general or the one being celebrated at the moment.  Listeners might draw lines connecting the sermon’s message with the celebration but little if any attention was paid to marriage as a sacrament of the very love being proclaimed.

One could not fault Curry for offering a potent message on the power of God’s love in our lives but I found myself waiting for him to help us see the union of the bride and groom as an icon, a living image of that love that binds us, the Church, as Christ’s spouse.

It will be interesting to see in what ways the royal ceremony influences the couples who approach their local parish to celebrate their weddings.  I was disheartened to see the ultimate expression of what I refer to as the “marginalized groom” approach to the entrance rite where, though two people are getting married, procession spotlights one and leaves the other in the margins. In fact, it’s not *her* day - it‘s *theirs.*

Will we be getting requests from engaged couples to program “Stand By Me” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odZ9GVuyfkc) as a musical selection for the ceremony?  It appears that Ben King’s song had earlier roots as a hymn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjro77BlcW8) but I doubt that’s the version brides and grooms will be asking for. On the other hand, it would be wonderful at weddings to hear royal couple’s choice of John Rutter’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yUfpgV8ZvI).

But, for the record, I love all things Rutter!

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/22

Of all I have, Lord,
all's a gift from you,
from your heart and hand
into mine...

My being, my life,
my heart and my soul,
my mind and best thoughts
- all your gifts to me...

My family and friends,
my dwelling and food,
my liberty and freedom
- all your gifts to me...

My talents and skills,
my dreams and ideas,
my work and achievements
- all your gifts to me...

My faith and my trust,
my passion and love,
my joy and my strength
- all your gifts to me...

My desire for truth,
my hunger for peace,
my thirst for deep joy
- all your gifts to me...

Nothing I have is all my own
for all's on loan from you to me:
given to me to give away,
to share with any and all in need...

Of all I have, Lord,
all's a gift -
from your heart and hand
into mine...

For all I've been given
I thank you, Lord,
and for all I have I praise you now,
Giver of all good gifts...


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Monday Morning Offering: 5/21

Coffee in the Morning by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

When it comes to some things, Lord,
I'm so slow to learn!

At my age, after all these years,
you'd think I would have figured out,
would have accepted the reality,
that no amount of worry or fear on my part
will change the things that trouble and disturb me....

In fact, worry and fear about this or that
only add to my anxiety about things in general!

And I know all the clever things they say about worry:

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair:
it gives you something to do
but it doesn't get you anywhere...

Worrying doesn't take away
tomorrow's troubles,
it takes away
today's peace...

Most of the things you worry about
never end up happening...

Worrying is using your imagination
to create something you don't want...

You can't change yesterday
but you can ruin today
by worrying about tomorrow...

will never change
the outcome...

And you said it best of all, Lord:
"Don't worry about your life.
Which of you by worrying 
can add a single hour to your life's span?
If even something small is beyond your power,
why do you worry about the rest?  
Oh you of little faith! Stop worrying!"
(see Luke 12)

You counsel me not to worry, Lord,
and instead to entrust all my burdens,
my troubles and my fears
into your hands, into your care...

Of course I have to take responsibility
for what I can do and what I can change 
but worry about even these things
bears no extra fruit...

So this morning I offer you, Lord, 
all my worries and fears
- and yes, even that one!

I place my worries in your hands,
all the while praying that all shall be well,
that all shall be well,
that all manner of things shall be well...

And I offer another prayer this morning, Lord:
when disappointment comes my way,
when things don't go as I had hoped,
when the answer to my plea
is not what I had prayed for,
then give me strength
to accept what I cannot change
and to trust that in all things
and at all times,
you are by my side,
you have my back,
you lead and guide me,
you will, at last, bring me peace...

Today, Lord, give me the peace and relief,
the comfort and consolation,
the serenity
of really and truly letting go into your hands 
at least some of my worry and fear...

Help me trust that your love,
having brought me safe thus far,
will safely bring me home...



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Homily for Pentecost 2018

Homily for Pentecost Sunday 2018
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

So, what do you think was going on in Galatia?
I mean: what was happening that occasioned St. Paul
to write to them about: 
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery and hatred;
rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of anger and selfishness,
dissension, factions, envy, drinking bouts and orgies - and the like! 
How ‘bout those Galatians!

Or was St. Paul simply trying to mark out clearly the two sides
in that internal tug-of-war we all experience
in different ways and at different times in our lives?
St. Paul’s dirty laundry list here might not generally describe our lives,
but we all know the inner struggle that’s ours
when we’re tempted by: 
false gods and superstitions,
over-indulgence, immorality, lust and impurity;
hatred and anger and discord;
selfishness and rivalry, jealousy and envy - and the like! 
And all of those things in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds
and in what we’ve done and in what we’ve failed to do.

All of these are temptations all of us face
and they’re temptations that usually look more attractive
before the fact than in hindsight.

And if you’re thinking that list doesn’t really apply to you,
then measure yourself against the standard of the other side
of that internal tug-of-war.
Measure yourself against the standard of the Holy Spirit.
I may not be altogether accurately characterized
by Paul’s list of nastiness,
but am I better described and known as: 
loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous,
faithful, gentle and always in self-control? 
Am I better known
by the movement of God’s Spirit within me?

If we’re honest, I’ll bet that most of us find ourselves
not at either extreme but rather,
somewhere in the middle, somewhere in between.
There are two sides in this internal tug-of-war
and the question for the Christian is this:
which side do I want to be on?
And for the Christian,
 “somewhere in the middle, somewhere in between,”
is not a sufficient answer.

Jesus asks more of us than that
and gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to help us choose the better side, and those gifts are: 
wisdom           understanding right judgment 
courage           knowledge       reverence 
and wonder  and awe in God’s presence: 
all gifts we receive to help us make the better choice 
- in all our thoughts, all our words and all our deeds.

But sometimes, even often, these are gifts we’ve never opened.

Imagine that this box is filled with the Spirit’s gifts
and left on the doorsteps of our minds, our hearts and our lives.

Imagine that this box contains everything I need
to choose the better side,
to make the right decisions in that internal, spiritual tug-of-war.

So that when I'm being selfish and foolish,
I can pray to be filled with the gift of wisdom...
And when I'm confused and confounded,
I can pray for the gift of understanding...

And when I have choices to make,
especially the hard choices
of morality and purity, of truth and love, of selflessness,
I can pray for the gift of right judgment...

And when I find it hard to say and to do what I know is right,
I can pray for the strength of my convictions,
for the gift of courage…

And when I realize how much I don't know
about my relationship with God,
I can pray to be filled with the gift of knowledge...

And when I see that I only pray selfishly, when I want something,
I can pray for the gift of humble reverence...

And when I think or act as I’m the center of the universe,
I can pray for gift of standing humbly before God and all creation…

There’s a box of gifts like this in the heart of everyone here
and that box of the Spirit’s gifts is waiting to be opened
and the gifts inside used, enjoyed and shared.

Which of these seven gifts are you most in need of?
And if you think you need two or three of those -
if you’re like me, you think you need all seven and that’s ok
because all seven are the gifts we’ve been given.

In the spiritual tug-of-war inside each of us,
God calls us to the Spirit’s side.
No Christian - no Christian - is called to a mediocre faith,
a faith somewhere in the middle, in between.
Each of us is called to excellence
and each of us is given the Spirit’s grace and gifts
to help us choose the better part, to choose to strive to be: 
loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful and gentle, 
not the servants of our temptations but always, with God’s help,
surrendering control of our hearts to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit’s gifts are fed and nourished
every time we come to the Lord’s Table to share in the Eucharist.

Pray with me that the gift of Christ’s life,
given once for us on the Cross
and offered to us now at this altar,
that the gift of Christ’s life open the gifts of the Spirit within us
and help us, always, to choose the life of grace.

The Holy Spirit is always nudging us, prompting us
to open and use the gifts that are ours.
Ever time, every time we feel the Spirit moving in our hearts,
every time we feel the Spirit moving in our hearts,
let us pray
to follow where the Spirit leads.

Every Time I Feel the Spirit!

Every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.
Yes, every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.

1 Up on the mountain, when my Lord spoke,
out of God's mouth came fire and smoke.
Looked all around me, it looked so fine,
till I asked my Lord if all was mine.

2 Jordan River, chilly and cold,
it chills the body but not the soul.
There is but one train upon this track;
it runs to heaven and then right back.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/20

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit...
-- Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11 

These lilies belong to the family Gloriosa   
and strike me as nature's bow to Pentecost Sunday.

Today's Pause for Prayer follows the photographs.


Those tongues of fire,
descending on Jesus' disciples,
did not singe or scorch or burn
but rather, anointed your chosen
to be faithful to you
and to your gospel...

In the same way, Lord,
infuse me, send your Spirit upon me,
and bless, anoint, charge me
to be faithful to you and to your gospel...

And because of my weaknesses, Lord,
let this same Spirit heal and strengthen me,
inspire and counsel me
with the courage and wisdom I need
to be faithful to you and to your gospel...

Come, Holy Spirit of Jesus risen,
and fill my heart
with the fire of your presence...

Lord, send forth your Holy Spirit
to heal and recreate me
that I might be faithful to you and your gospel...

Send forth your Spirit, Lord,
and you shall renew the face of the earth...




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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 5/19

Today (May 19) marks the 45th anniversary of my ordination as a priest. I can remember my ordination day as clear as a bell! It was a beautiful day and I remember driving from the seminary to the cathedral in my blue Volkswagen with the all the windows down. I was somewhat nervous but mostly excited about what was going to happen that day when Cardinal Medeiros would lay his hands on my head and anoint my hands with chrism.

Although I could never have dreamed or anticipated then what these 45 years have brought, I am grateful for every one of them: for five years at St. Ann Parish in Quincy; for four years at the University of Notre Dame in graduate studies and positions in seminary formation (Moreau Seminary) and campus ministry (especially in my favorite dorm,  Morrissey Manor); for nine years at St. Ann University Parish in Boston serving the campuses of Northeastern University and Emerson College; for three years at St. Joseph Parish in Medway; for ten years in my first pastorate at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in West Concord; and for fourteen years now, here at Holy Family Parish.

The life of the Catholic Church over those years has included great joy and tragic sadness. For the former we offer God our praise and thanksgiving, for the latter we ask the Lord for his mercy and healing… Still, in every one of those years I have counted myself blessed to serve God’s people as a priest and blessed by the people it’s been my privilege to serve. I thank God for all of you! Please offer today's Pause for Prayer (below) for my ordination classmates and for me.

Image source
A Prayer for Priests

Gracious God, loving Father,
font of every gift and grace,
make our priests for us, we pray:
men of faith and sacrifice,
humble servants of your Word,
prophets of your Spirit’s power...

men of hopefulness and peace,
loyal heralds of the gospel,
strong defenders of the truth...

men of scripture and tradition, 
faithful preachers of the Word,
its comfort and its challenge...
men of prayer and grateful praise,
faithful servants at your table
where we gather in communion... 
men of custom and of change, 
bound to follow day by day
where your Spirit calls and leads...

men of tenderness and strength,
shepherds leading home the lost,
caring for the poor and sick...

men of counsel and discernment,
trusted guides along our way,
shining light on darkened paths...

men of patience and of mercy,
offering healing consolation
for the grieving and abused...

men of justice and compassion,
reconciling and forgiving,
granting pardon in your name...

men of sacrifice and honor,
single minded in your service,
set apart to do your will...

men of holiness and joy,
anointed by your grace,
ordained to preach the Cross... 
Make us one with them in faith
and in Christ your only Son,
in whose holy name we pray...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/18

As Pentecost approaches this weekend, Lord,
   I pray you renew your gifts within me...

When I received the sacrament of Confirmation
you gave me the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

right judgment...
and awe in your presence... 

And so I pray...

When I'm being selfish and foolish,
   fill me with your wisdom...

When I'm confused and confounded,
   give me understanding...

When I have choices to make,
   grant me the gift of right judgement...

When I find it hard to say and to do what I know is right,
   strengthen me with with the gift of courage...

When I realize how much I don't know about you, my God, 
   fill my heart, mind and soul with the gift of knowledge...

When I see that I only pray when I want something,
  give me the gift of reverence...

When I think I know pretty much everything,
   fill me with a sense of wonder as I stand before creation...

When it seems like I've forgotten who you are in my life, O God,
  give me the gift of prayer, of quiet time in your presence...

Send your Holy Spirit to me this Pentecost, Lord,
  renew your Spirit within me and all the gifts you've given me...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 5/17

Take, oh take me as I am...
the first line of one of my favorite songs,
part of my morning prayer, seven days a week...

Oh, would that I'd accept myself
   for who I am, Lord:
not because I'm perfect (that I'm not)
but because the broken, torn, imperfect me:
   is repaired daily by your skilled and healing hand;
   my tattered edges hemmed, mended and stitched
      by the thread of your mercy;
   my personal chaos sorted out by your wisdom,
      my life held together by the duct tape of your grace...

You take me as I am, Lord,
   not because I'm perfect (that I'm not)
but because each break, each tear, each breach
   bears the sign of your healing care...

You are always ready to repair me,
   to remake and recreate me
      in your image and likeness:
my scars and patches are the marks of your love,
   the signature of your divine artistry...

You take me as I am, O Lord,
   so help me accept my self,
      my mended and restored self:
I am a work in progress
   in your holy, healing hands...


Take Me As I Am



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