Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Words from Fr. Ed (From April 4th Bulletin)

Easter Joy
Joy can be elusive. It’s more of a childlike attribute. As adults we can become settled, so to speak, and even a little resistant to the grace of God which is calling us to liberation. As St. Paul writes, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal. 5:1) Easter is the culmination of the Paschal Mystery which liberates us from guilt, sin, and death. Can you feel it? If so, I believe you will also experience joy.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” If our Lent has been fruitful, then we should see some growth in these aspects of our lives. They also tend to travel together, so that where there is one there is likely to be another. One might be prominent in such a way that people affirm that we radiate a particular fruit.
There was a great priest in Seattle who was nicknamed “Fr. Joy”. He was Fr. Joseph John Fulton, OP (d. December 12, 1998). Fr. William Treacy writes that “…he was known as "Father Joy" because of his constant smile and joy in the Lord. “ This fruit of the spirit developed in Fr. Fulton as he journeyed from the Methodist faith of his Brooklyn family to the Catholicism that he was exposed to at Blessed Sacrament Parish in the U District of Seattle.

One experience that Fr. Treacy relates in an article on Fr. Joy indicates the powerful influence that the Holy Spirit had on this man. While a student at the University of Washington he desired to become Catholic, but his mom requested that he wait until graduation:

On his graduation in 1935, he won the President's medal for an outstanding academic record. Prior to graduation he was in St. James Cathedral when the newly ordained Fr. Thomas Gill was blessing individuals kneeling at the communion rail. Jack went forward and knelt. As the future bishop blessed Jack he felt an overwhelming desire to become a priest. In fact he went to the Chancery office to inquire about becoming a priest. He was informed that he should first become a Catholic!
Fr. Fulton did become a Catholic, then a Dominican priest and pastor of his beloved Blessed Sacrament. He taught many how to love God as he radiated the kindness and presence of Christ. I ran into Fr. Fulton there at Blessed Sacrament and asked if he would teach me Latin. He was a brilliant man, living up to the characterization of Dominicans of having aisles in his quarters that make their way precariously through columns of stacked books. He absorbed these and used that truth to set others free.
We too are called to absorb the truth, as we do each Sunday in the Word and the Eucharist. This truth that lives within us, if we give the Lord a chance, will fill us with Easter joy to overflowing.
Welcome to Guests and Newcomers!

A hearty welcome to all who have entered the Church this past week. You have added to our joy and the glory of God that is at work here at St. Stephens. You bring a unique gift in yourself to our community. As a member of the Body of Christ you have a specific charism and combination of talents that no one else has. Thank you for joining us.

Blessed Dom Marmion speaks of you in his work Christ: the Life of the Soul:
Every one of the elect is the fruit of the blood of Jesus and of the wonderful operations of His grace; all the elect are so many trophies won by that Divine blood, and that is why they are like a glorious praise to Christ and to His Father: “unto the praise of” His glory.

These elect, along with all who have responded to the grace of God are an example to us who are already here. We all stand in need of renewal. Let us be encouraged by their ‘Yes’ to the Lord. Easter is a time to receive the abundant grace of God, reflecting on His power over sin and death in preparation for Pentecost. May the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, animate our own spirits with greater love for God and neighbor. I thank all of you for being on this journey to God together.

ps – I plan to write my next article on the recent distressing news of scandal in Ireland and Germany. Please keep these churches in your prayers as we approach the Feast of Mercy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Saved Today In Renton!

Dear Pro-Life Friends,

Our 40 Days for Life saved a baby today!!! Thanks be to God for this grandest news; doesn’t this just make your heart so full?!

Let me tell you what happened:

Louise Scott and Mary Schofield were praying together at Cedar River today, when an 18-year-old girl got dropped off there for an abortion. After hesitating for a while near the clinic entrance, she came over to speak to Louise. Right as they began talking, one of the girl’s friends just happened to be walking by and stopped to talk also. The friend was holding her own little baby girl. Louise did everything to convince the pregnant mother that she needed to choose life for her baby, and offered her help and everything that she might need. But the mother ended up going into the abortion center with her friend.

Louise and Mary continued to pray, that God might change their hearts. And soon, the pregnant mother and her friend came back out of the abortion clinic!! They talked with Louise again, and told her that they were unable to go through with the abortion because Cedar River would not allow the friend’s little baby girl into their clinic! Louise was able to talk some more with the girls, and then they got onto the bus and left. They do not plan to come back later for an abortion. Praise to God!! The little unborn baby was saved by the little girl! How beautiful and touching.

Thank you so much to each of you for all that you are doing to make this 40 Days for Life! God is really blessing us. Please feel free to share this grand news!

Christina DeGoede

Words from Fr Ed (From March 28th, 2010 Bulletin)

Holy Week

The ‘Great Week’ is here! This week we celebrate the Paschal Mystery, the summit of Christ’s love for us. As we enter into this week I encourage you to take advantage of the graces of the liturgies that have been prepared for us through the centuries. One of the renewals of Vatican II was to restore the Catechumenate (how a person becomes Catholic) and the liturgies of Holy Week. If you have not partaken you are missing the highpoint of the Church year. Please try to attend as much as possible. Come and welcome those who have been called to be baptized and those Christians who will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

As a sample of the ancient liturgies that were used as a basis for reforming our own liturgy, I include some excerpts from the Diary of Egeria, a female pilgrim to the Holy Lands around 381-384 AD. She describes what she witnessed in the churches of Jerusalem:

‘Palm Sunday…at the seventh hour (~1pm) all the people go up to the Mount of Olives, that is, to Eleona, and the bishop with them, to the church, where hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and to the place are said… And when the ninth hour approaches they go up with hymns to the Imbomon, that is, to the place whence the Lord ascended into heaven…. And all the children in the neighbourhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives, and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old….from the top of the mount to the city, and thence through the whole city to the Anastasis (chapel/cave of the Resurrection), going very slowly lest the people should be wearied; and thus they arrive at the Anastasis at a late hour. And on arriving, although it is late, lucernare (evening prayer) takes place, with prayer at the Cross; after which the people are dismissed.

Holy Thursday…at the eighth hour (~2pm) all the people gather together at the martyrium (‘It is called the martyrium, the greater church, because it is in Golgotha behind the Cross, where the Lord suffered.’) according to custom….Then, when the people are gathered together, all that should be done is done, and, the oblation (the Mass) is made on that day at the martyrium, the dismissal taking place about the tenth hour. But before the dismissal is made there, the archdeacon raises his voice and says: "Let us all assemble at the first hour of the night in the church which is in Eleona, (wherein is the cave where the Lord was with His Apostles on this very day) for great toil awaits us to-day, in this very night." (Roman hours fluctuated according to season, counting twelve ‘hours’ from sunrise to sunset. If Holy Week was near the equinox, March 21st, the first hour of the night would begin around 6pm) Then, after the dismissal at the martyrium, they arrive behind the Cross, where only one hymn is said and prayer is made, and the bishop offers the oblation there, and all communicate. …Nor is the oblation ever offered behind the Cross on any day throughout the year, except on this one day.

Good Friday…And at the first cockcrow they come down from the Imbomon with hymns, and arrive at the place where the Lord prayed, as it is written in the Gospel: and He was withdrawn (from them) about a stone's cast, and prayed,….and the Gospel is read where he said to his disciples…Watch, that ye enter not into temptation; the whole passage is read through and prayer is made. And then all, even to the smallest child, go down with the Bishop, on foot, with hymns to Gethsemane; where, on account of the great number of people in the crowd, who are wearied owing to the vigils and weak through the daily fasts, and because they have so great a hill to descend, they come very slowly with hymns to Gethsemane. …then the passage of the Gospel is read where the Lord was taken. And when this passage has been read there is so great a moaning and groaning of all the people, together with weeping, that their lamentation may be heard perhaps as far as the city.

From that hour they go with hymns to the city on foot, reaching the gate about the time when one man begins to be able to recognize another, and thence right on through the midst of the city; all, to a man, both great and small, rich and poor, all are ready there, for on that special day not a soul withdraws from the vigils until morning.

After this, when the dismissal at the Cross has been made, that is, before the sun rises, they all go at once with fervour to Sion, to pray at the column at which the Lord was scourged….The casket is opened and (the wood) is taken out, and both the wood of the Cross and the title are placed upon the table. Now, when it has been put upon the table, the bishop, as he sits, holds the extremities of the sacred wood firmly in his hands, while the deacons who stand around guard it. It is guarded thus because the custom is that the people, both faithful and catechumens, come one by one and, bowing down at the table, kiss the sacred wood and pass through. And because, I know not when, some one is said to have bitten off and stolen a portion of the sacred wood, it is thus guarded by the deacons who stand around, lest any one approaching should venture to do so again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Words from Fr. Ed (From March 21st, 2010 Bulletin)

“Neither do I condemn you…”
Jesus liberates the woman caught in adultery with these words after saving her from death by stoning. This act of mercy ought to console us as well, if we can place ourselves in this scene. This is a simple meditation where we can read the Gospel account that we have this weekend (John 8:1-11). Classic ‘Lectio’ invites one to first read the account, then think about what is happening,thirdly to place oneself in the scene and speak with Our Lord, and finally to listen in a contemplative way to what He may have to say to us. You can also use something like the “Passion of the Christ” DVD which does a good job of depicting this scene.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation captures the essence of this encounter when the penitent tells their sins, making themselves vulnerable to judgment in a very real sense. While priests are trained to be merciful, telling another person one’s sins can give rise to that fear of punishment inherent with sin. John writes, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18) In the confessional we meet perfect love, just as the adulterous woman did. Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to save us.

Forgiving Vandals
No, I’m not talking about the University of Idaho. Sadly, we experienced vandalism on our campus this past
weekend. Both Our Lady’s shrine and the Labyrinth suffered vandalism and desecration. At least one person in our
neighborhood needs forgiveness. I would beg you to join me in prayer for him or her or them, with these words:

Prayer for Strength to Forgive
Faultless Lord, enduring death for me, You have consummated the debt of my sins:
Your sacrifice of forgiveness was absolute! Grant me the strength to also forgive others,
(especially whoever damaged our Church)
To excuse their transgressions against me. So I may truly reflect this spiritual fruit,
Obliterate any persistent feelings of malice. Let each trespass end as a closing chapter,
My continuing on the road of righteousness. Forgive my sins as I aspire to forgive others.
You are truly archetypical of forgiveness. You are a most forgiving Lord!

‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’

Imagine this poor soul being bombarded with grace. We all need it. We all have done wrong. On a practical note, we will be looking at how to make our grounds more secure, especially during the night hours. If you have expertise in this area, feel free to forward information to Jim Spencer at the parish office. Do be careful while coming and going from meetings and report anything suspicious to the office or to the police directly if it is serious. Trials can be a sign of progress, that our spiritual growth and the many blessings we are experiencing as a community have not gone unnoticed. Not to blame every mischievous act on the devil, but attacks against the Blessed Virgin do not flow from a pure heart. Thank you for your prayers.

- Fr. Ed

Friday, March 12, 2010

Words from Fr. Ed (From March 14th, 2010 Bulletin)

4th Week of Lent “This man welcomes sinners…”
Jesus welcomed sinners. Some of his Jewish compatriots were not comfortable with that.
They felt that part of holiness included separating themselves from sinners. Psalm 1 says as much,
“Blessed is he who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits
in the seat of scoffers…” We should certainly be careful about the company we keep. Evil company
can influence us. Therein lies the key. Does our association with a ‘sinner’ influence them for the
good or us for the bad?
If we are living in a state of grace, then grace itself will resist the influences of sin around us and even within
us. As I stated in an earlier article, temptation occurs through the world, the flesh, and the devil. From a state of grace,
living in communion with Christ and His Church, according to a well-formed conscience, every temptation is an
opportunity for growth in virtue. We should not despair when this happens because we can trust that God “…will
not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you
may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)
St. Padre Pio put it this way, “Stop entertaining those vain fears. Remember it is not feeling which constitutes
guilt but the consent to such feelings. Only the free will is capable of good or evil. But when the will sighs under the
trial of the tempter and does not will what is presented to it, there is not only no fault but there is virtue.”
God desires our growth. He also desires the rescue of those mired in sin. Sometimes we are called to witness
to those whom God has put in our path. This can be done in a very loving and non-judgmental way. Our concern for
another’s choices need not be an indictment against their character or reflect some judgment of God that we have no
way of knowing. It can simply impart love. As a friend, as a relative, as a fellow human being, we can say that
particular acts we know to be inherently wrong will have a harmful effect on everyone involved.
This separates the sin from the sinner on the level of judgment. We have no idea if this person is better or
worse off than ourselves. We have no idea where they will spend eternity. We have no idea what has led them to such
a choice. We have no idea where they will be in ten minutes. We can leave that to God. But we must call people, we
must invite, beginning with ourselves, to the infinite mercy of God. Jesus thirsts to forgive and heal every human
person. May we satisfy that thirst.

Reconciliation Service - Thursday, March 18, 7pm
…he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20:23)
There is joy and freedom in penance. Now that we have traveled the Lenten journey, seeking ways to grow
closer to God, leaving sin behind, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a perfect way to prepare for Holy Week and
Easter. We will have 13 confessors to choose from Thursday evening. Because of long lines in the past I’ve asked for
more priest support to make the evening easier on all of us. That gives you lots of opportunity for anonymity as well.
Why go to confession? How about LOVE? In any relationship our imperfections come out eventually and we
discover our vulnerability to sin and pettiness. The sacrament of Reconciliation gives us a formal chance to claim our
truest selves and renounce those actions that are false and demeaning. As Jesus said, “The truth will set us free.” This
includes the truth about our sinfulness. Confessing these in the confessional cleanses us and opens us to the healing
power and restoration of absolution. Come hear those beautiful words,
“Your sins are forgiven.”

- Fr. Ed

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (March 7, 2010 Bulletin)


We have been slowly working our way through the Catholic Catechism for the past year and a half. We covered articles 391 – 412 this past week, on 3.3.10. This includes sections on the Fall of the Angels and the Original Sin. Both of these doctrines have been challenged lately and deserve our attention.

In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis portrays a senior devil, Screwtape, writing advice to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. One of the first lessons he gives, is to make sure that the person Wormwood is assigned to tempt, does not believe that devils exist. This is a spirit of modernism that suggests that it is medieval and primitive to believe that a malicious spirit exists. Lack of faith here can lead one to a false complacency and inattentiveness to the subtle occurrences of temptation. The fact is, we are tempted. If so, by what?

The three classic sources of temptation are the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world is that spirit of peer pressure that tells a person that they ought to conform to some value that is not shared by Christians. The flesh is that concupiscence that is a consequence of the original sin. We have an inclination towards sin. While baptism repairs much of this, we are not totally free from this weakness during earthly life. The last source of temptation comes from those devils that are allowed to disturb our lives.

If one does not believe in the devil’s existence, I would encourage a read of several works on exorcism: The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist or An Exorcist Tells His Story. Both are by priests who have been called to deal in this most difficult ministry. The role is real, as more and more dioceses provide training for what modern psychology tried to explain away. All except Scott Peck, who wrote a compelling work on the problem of evil called People of the Lie. He began the book as an agnostic and ended up a Christian. All this is to say, if you don’t believe in Satan, how do you explain these phenomena? Most Christians who invest in prayer likewise run into obstacles of a spiritual nature that go beyond nature.

Our susceptibility to temptation reveals the original sin that left us impaired. Why else addiction? Why else war? Why else irrational evils committed for no apparent reason? Augustine speaks of stealing a pear as a child merely for the pleasure of stealing. He was not hungry, except for some delight in doing something that was forbidden. Not so different from an older garden where the sin was not about an apple in a tree, but rather the pair on the ground. Something in our hearts allows itself to be deceived by those three sources of temptation. Our reason, if engaged and especially if enlightened by faith, knows better.

What is the cure? Gen 3:9, 15 speaks of a victory on the horizon, through a Woman and her seed, who would conquer the serpent. We need to cling to her and those who know well how to fight. Unsuspecting Mary is often depicted with a snake under her foot. While it’s not the normal image of a housewife from Nazareth, it should make us want to be on her side in a pinch. There is power in humility. There is strength in purity. There is victory in love.

Words from Fr Ed (Feb 28, 2010 Bulletin)

For as strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the Divine Will as to the management of one's life for the salvation of the soul, is called a Spiritual Exercise. ~First Annotation

Ignatian Exercises
Feeling out of shape? Beginning Monday, March 1st at 7:30pm, we will be doing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises adapted for everyday life. Tim Malone, M.Div., will be leading us into the great discernment of spirits that was developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Ignatius himself while undergoing a radical conversion to the ways of Jesus Christ, spent time living in a cave writing his Spiritual Exercises. This became the 30 day Retreat that all Jesuits are required to do during their formation. Eventually the 30 day retreat became available to lay people in a format that was more doable with a busy schedule.
The Exercises include a method of examining one’s consciousness of God’s activity in our lives. How has God touched you today? What was the moment that seemed most life-giving? Was there some joy, peace, or feeling of love that stands out in your day? These questions accompany the search for God’s presence in our everyday life. We don’t need to wait for Sunday. God is present in the most mundane activities, even writing a bulletin article!
The Examen also looks at where we felt most drained, strained, or distant from God. When did we begin to feel discouraged or anxious? What were we thinking or doing? This revelation is a way of rejecting anything in our life that holds us back from a life lived fully in the presence of God. Ignatius speaks in the “PRINCIPLE AND FOUNDATION” of ridding ourselves of all that hinders us in our goal of praising and serving our Lord:
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and that they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it. For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
Would that we could make this principle our guide. Over the course of 12 weeks, through Lent and Easter, we will have that chance. Please join Tim Malone in finding the voice, presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. All are welcome. Daily prayer is an essential commitment for this series. Dispel all fear and take advantage of this wonderful course and facilitator.
Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest; to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds, to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will.
Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556)

Honduran Highlights
DAY ONE: Before I even got to Honduras I was experiencing an adventure. I like to stay in Houston overnight rather than taking the redeye at midnight from Seattle, which for me is a form of cruel torture. I never sleep. My friend Sr. Uyen from Baton Rouge drove from Louisiana to pick me up and take me to Fr. Hai’s parish where I stay. We had time, so we went straight to the new Cathedral in downtown Houston, a magnificent building just opened in the past two years.
Next door was the chancery so I sought out Dr. Marcella Colbert, national director of the Gabriel Project. She was free and able to join us for dinner, so I was able to pick her brain a little more about the Project that provides parish-based support for women in crisis pregnancy. St. Stephens has received permission from Archbishop Brunett to start the Project and be a model for the rest of the Archdiocese. Dr. Colbert will probably be coming in September to offer training to volunteers. To get more information about Gabriel Project, please see: