Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (From July 4th 2010 Bulletin)

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
- Luke 10:2

I just returned last night from Quo Vadis Days, which is a vocation discernment camp for boys 13-18. ‘Quo Vadis’ means ‘where are you going?’. This phrase comes from the legend of Peter’s escape from Rome during persecution. It is said that he ran into Our Lord walking into the city. Peter said, “Domine, quo vadis?” (Where are you going, Lord?) And Jesus responded, “I go to Rome to be crucified anew.” Peter, ashamed, turned back to what he knew was his duty. There is a small church in Rome at the traditional sight of this encounter on the Appian Way near the San Sebastian Gate.

The great news about Quo Vadis Days is that it has grown to over 130 boys interested in the priesthood. 20 seminarians who have begun their journey assist, along with 25 priests who give talks, hear confessions, and like last night, concelebrate Mass with the Archbishop. I was able to give a talk on prayer and meditation. Leonardo DiFillipi was also there to perform his one-man act of “Cure of Ars”. Overall it was a very encouraging atmosphere.

As the number of vocations in the U.S. continues to recover, following a world-wide downward trend since 1989, the question of age and maturity enters in. On the one hand, the common age of vocational certitude of those ordained is the sixth grade. Many priests claim to have known their vocation at an early age. Holy examples exist, too, such as Padre Pio, who knew quite early (10 yrs old) that he wanted to be a Franciscan friar “with a beard”. The American Church, however, has had a mixed experience of younger priests along with a generally positive experience of ‘late vocations’, men who decided later in life, after another avocation, to become priests.

I think the answer lies in real scrutiny of a man’s maturity in Christ. Thomas Merton once commented half-humorously, “It would be a good idea for a man to become a Christian before he becomes a priest.” So there are different levels of scrutiny: the human, the Christian, and the vocational. A man must pass 9 different psychological exams to enter the seminary program. He must also be of a certain physical health and mental aptitude. Then he should have basic Christian virtue and exhibit the conversion from sin necessary to grow in the grace of God.

The recent sex scandal should awaken the Church to the need for heroic chastity in all walks of life inclusive of the priesthood. Priests are obviously not immune from the temptations of the flesh. Neither are they necessarily more vulnerable because of their celibacy. Recent statistics in Illinois which examined the probable abuse in the two thousand cases reported to the state that year (2003?) found that only one of those was a priest. What were the avocations of the other two thousand abusers? How many were teachers, counselors, engineers or whatever other occupation you want to pick.

The true vulnerability of the priest lies in his spiritual prominence in people’s lives. He can do great good or failing that, great harm. Satan knows that. As our society and culture continues to steep itself in an ever-increasing love for sin, the priest remains a special target of spiritual warfare. As Sirach warns, “My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation.” (Sir. 2:1) To assist in the discovery of a vocation, and I would say any vocation, we must promote chastity. To the extent that we promote and model chastity in our relationships we will reap the fruit of committed relationships, either in marriage or a celibate’s commitment to the Church.

So what is chastity? I will try to offer some thoughts on this with the help of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in a future bulletin. Stay tuned in to God’s love. I include here a saying of John of the Cross, which I read last Sunday in relation to the Gospel as well as the death of a good friend and Catholic, Lenny Lombardi. For more information and photos of Quo Vadis Church, see:

Suffering and Love

And I saw a river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven
and the name of that river was “suffering”.
And then I saw a boat which carries souls across the river
and the name of that boat was “love.”

-St. John Of The Cross

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (From June 27th, 2010 Bulletin)

Masaka Miracle

Thanks to the concern of Diane Cooper and your generosity we were able to join Holy Rosary in providing for a latrine system for a school for the deaf in Uganda. Here is Sister Immaculate Rose’s letter to Diane when she found out:

Dear Diane.
When I opened the message I just observed a miracle done for me!!!!!
I do not know how I can really thank you! I only ask the good Lord to reward you abundantly. Today is a commemoration of Uganda martyrs at Namugongo shrine. I prayed for you. After Mass I open and find good news. Let me praise the Lord. I ask you kindly to convey my sincere gratitude to all [who have] done this wonders to me. - Sr. Immaculate Rose


The Daughters of Mary in Masaka, Uganda run a school for the deaf, among their many educational outreach missions. This school sits high on a hill, over-looking the motherhouse, giving the students a fabulous view of the surrounding countryside.  The sisters educate 130 deaf children, most of whom must live here as borders during the term. Among the numbers include 30 orphans. Up until the last week in April, sanitation facilities consisted only of pit latrines, which is typical in these developing parts of Africa (if there is sanitation at all). Unfortunately, heavy rains at that time caused the collapse of the latrines. The good thing was that most of the children were away on semester break. The challenging thing is that the sisters cannot resume school until the sanitation issue is remedied.  Between Holy Rosary and St. Stephens we were able to pay $6,000 U.S. to put in the 2 toilet facilities, one for boys and one for girls, which would consist of 5 stalls each. That is 12,000,000 Ugandan shillings, an amount nearly unfathomable for the Sisters.  They can now open the school again thanks to your generosity.

Tree Thinning
Being a lover of trees I hate to cut trees…unless they seriously need it. I was surprised when I first came here that the trees surrounding the back of the Church which caused the ant problem ($150,000) were left standing. It is apt to happen again. The same trees are shedding needles onto the roof which may cause problems with the roof as well as the gutters. A proposal to cut the worst offenders of these and other trees has reached me and I’ve walked the grounds approving what seems reasonable. Some are dying and others are a hazard. They will be replaced with more native landscape that also compliments our buildings. I’m also looking into improving our bird habitat to provide for the flickers which like nesting in the church roof. Please see another article in this bulletin for more detail.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (From June 20th, 2010 Bulletin)

If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.

“Life is difficult” is how Scott Peck puts it in his Road Less Traveled. To grow in truth and love, which is to grow in
Jesus, involves some pain. Most of that pain, according to mystical theologians is the pain of letting go of our false
selves, all the little coping mechanisms that try to avoid pain. One Abbot said that 80% of our suffering is caused by
avoiding suffering. Surrendering to the daily cross takes an act of trust, trust that God will be there, trust that this feeling
of death to my own will is leading me in the right direction. Jesus promises this in this weekend’s Gospel.

Non-violent Communication, Part II
One cross we can pick up daily is our communication with our neighbors. There are ways of expressing myself that reverence both my
experience as well as the values and dignity of the one I am speaking with. Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication: A Language
of Life is a great book for learning better methods of communication. I recommend it often where there is tension in relationships. Here is Part
II, written by writer in residence, Catherine Whetham:
This interplay of mutual giving and receiving in conversation is achieved by the four components of NVC (Non-Violent Communication): Observation,
feelings, needs, and requests:
1) Observation – concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being. NVC observes without evaluation. Even appreciation
should focus on concrete actions to avoid categorization and manipulation. “When we combine observation with evaluation, others are apt to
hear criticism and resist what we are saying” (Rosenberg 32). By focusing on observing concrete actions as they relate to our own feelings
and needs, we avoid the damage from guilt or shame that comes from unfairly evaluating, labeling, or judging an entire person or even an
individual action as Good, Bad, Evil, Corrupt, Crazy, Selfish, etc.
Toxic Communication (TC): “Henry is aggressive.”
Nonviolent Communication (NVC): “Henry hit his sister when she switched the television channel.”
2) Feeling – How we feel in relation to what we are observing. “By developing a vocabulary of feelings that allows us to clearly and specifically
name or identify our emotions (shocked, unhappy, irritated, anxious, weary, happy, joyful) we can connect more easily with one another”
(46). The language of NVC holds to “I” statements; by taking responsibility for one’s feelings and needs, the violence dissolves that comes
from the mistaken belief that other people cause our pain and therefore deserve punishment.
TC: “Will you please stop using me as a wastebasket for your words? You haven’t taken a breath for ten minutes.”
NVC: “Excuse me, I’m feeling overwhelmed because we only have five more minutes left to talk, and I’m worried I won’t get to respond to
all that you’re telling me.”
3) Needs – The needs, values, desires, etc., that are creating our feelings. Acknowledge the needs behind our feelings like the roots of a
tree. “What others say and do may be the stimulus, but never the cause, of our feelings” (60).
TC: “I feel scared when you raise your voice.”
NVC: “When you raise your voice, I feel scared because I’m telling myself someone might get hurt, and I need to know that we’re all safe.”
4) Requests – The specific, concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives. “The objective of NVC is not to change people and their
behavior in order to get our way; it is to establish relationships based on honesty and empathy that will eventually fulfill everyone’s needs.”
TC: “I want you to stop drinking.”
NVC: “I want you to tell me what needs of yours are met by drinking and to discuss with me other ways of meeting those needs.”
--Quotes, some examples and content taken from Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall Rosenberg. Catherine Whetham
Thanks to ‘Cat’ Whetham for this summary of NVC. Let’s disarm the world with a Word of truth and love.

Thanks for the gifts and spiritual bouquets.
Your love and support last weekend was very heart-warming. Thanks for all your gifts that have made my five years of priesthood a joy
to live.

Next Week - Next week I’ll share with you the miracle of Masaka that you are a part of as well as other great happenings.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Words from Fr. Ed (From June 13th, 2010 Bulletin)

The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth. - 1 Kings 17:24
Words are important. By them we can either reflect the goodness of God or detract from His image which we are. Too often our relationships break down due to an unhealthy rut in communication. No need to blame, but better to take responsibility for how we communicate. Often I recommend Non-Violent Communication, a book which has helped many learn to negotiate difficult conflicts between persons and groups. It gives a four-step method of reflection before speaking. I asked Catherine Whetham, a writer in transit, to write a few words about this book. EW

Driven to Nonviolence: A brief summary of Marshall Rosenberg’s method of Nonviolent Communication, Part I
Having just celebrated Trinity Sunday, we have been meditating upon the compassionate communication and communion, the mutual giving and receiving of the Holy Three’s perfect community. Marshall Rosenberg’s method and book Nonviolent Communication gives a practical example of how we as humans can better mirror the kind of relationships to which we are called as living images of the Trinity. If we were perfect likenesses of the Trinity (and perfectly intuitive), we would instinctively be able to sense and respond to the needs and the feelings of those around us. We would know from tiny clues when another was in need of solitude, companionship, lively debate, or prayer; and the fruits and gifts of the spirit would abound because of the oneness of heart and mind in our relationships. We would listen deeply to the feelings and needs of others and respond in ways to make their life more wonderful. Others, in turn, would contribute to our quality of life by sensing and fulfilling our various needs for autonomy, celebration, integrity, interdependence, play, spiritual communion, and physical sustenance. Like the Trinity, we would all exist for and contribute to the blessedness of each other. We would never crush or harm those around us, knowing that our own existence is linked to theirs and in truly loving them as ourselves.

Because of the woundedness of the human, however, we have abandoned our natural state of compassion in favor of a language of violence that labels, compares, demands, and judges. So often we equate violence with such acts as murder, child abuse, or rape, but fail to see the deeper, more fundamental roots within our everyday styles of thinking, speaking, and acting. Especially in modern western society, we may know how to speak, but we do not how to communicate and dialogue in ways that support the healing power of empathy. We speak largely a language of life-alienating communication stemming from the belief that there is something wrong with the feelings and needs of ourselves and others. We attempt to deny, repress, or eradicate needs and feelings rather than listening to their call to express Trinitarian life. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) uncovers the underlying operations of human discourse, enabling us to see what we are really doing whenever we enter a conversation or perform an action. For the majority of us who are not perfectly intuitive, this knowledge helps foster healing and wholeness by illuminating the goals and dynamics of communication.

Rosenberg views the main goals of language as twofold: a) Expressing honestly; b) Receiving empathetically.

This interplay of mutual giving and receiving in conversation is achieved by the four components of NVC: Observation, feelings, needs, and requests. (See Part II next week when Catherine describes these four aspects of communication.)

Fragrance Prayer by Bl. John Henry Newman*

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go., Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light,
O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine; it will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.


* Cardinal John Henry Newman will be beatified on July 10th! This prayer which I shared in my homily on Sunday is said by
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity each morning after Mass

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Words from Fr Ed (From June 6th 2010 Bulletin)

This coming Saturday, June 12th at 10am, in the Cathedral of St. James, the Archbishop will be
ordaining four young men to the priesthood. It is an extraordinary liturgy and opportunity to grow
in the richness of our faith. These men are laying down their lives for you, and as Jesus says, “No
greater love has any man than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” There are several ways to do this
as Christians, male or female, rich or poor, young or old, but the ordination liturgy captures the
essence of this sacrificial love that all priests are called to. I hope you can come and support these
men as they dedicate themselves to the well-being of our church in Western Washington.

Project Rachel
I had the privilege of serving at a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat recently. This retreat is organized by Project Rachel
which serves the needs and healing of women and men harmed by abortion. It is simply glorious to see the
transformation that can take place in a weekend of prayer, fellowship and tears. (There is laughter too!) These
courageous folk have made an enormous step in reconciling a very traumatic experience, facing what has occurred
and accepting responsibility for their part, in the loving presence of God’s mercy. Often, horrific circumstances have
contributed much to the person’s decision. Jesus meets each one of us in our poverty and pain and invites us into the
light of His marvelous love. If you or any of your loved ones has been harmed by the experience of abortion I
encourage you to call Valerie Jacobs at 1-800-822-HOPE (4673). All calls are confidential. A Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat
may be exactly what you need to heal the past and live with joy in the future.

Body and Blood of Christ
Today’s Solemnity reminds us of the great gift that Christ left us at the last supper and then again on the cross.
“His love is everlasting.” This gift of his Body and Blood in the form of the Eucharist is a perpetual symbol of His
presence here on earth. I say ‘symbol’ in the Catholic sense. A Catholic symbol, or Real-symbol, not only points to a
reality, but is the reality. Of course we don’t typically see Jesus’ Body when we behold the host (though miracles
have occurred). Normally what our eyes see is bread. Our hearts are another matter. Has your heart ‘burned within
you’ as you receive the Eucharist? Jesus is present there to feed and nourish you, not as an intellectual reminder of
all the wonderful truths of our faith, but in actual substantial presence. That’s why we use the term
‘transubstantiation’ when we refer to the consecration at Mass. In transubstantiation, the substance, invisible to our
eyes, is transformed from bread into the Body of Christ. That’s why Jesus said,
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not
have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise
him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood, is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and
drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (Jn 6:53-56)
The first Christians took this literally, often being accused of cannibalism. Their experience was substantiated
by the grace of God apparent in the Eucharist. Writing around 110 A.D., Ignatius of Antioch
says to the Church in Rome:
I desire the Bread of God, the heavenly Bread, the Bread of Life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; I wish the drink of God,
namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.
We can be thankful that we have received the same mystery, the same faith, and the same Lord who meets us
in the Holy Eucharist.