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.

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