Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From Jan 30, 2011 Bulletin)


Our Gospel today points to the realities that cause
happiness. It is strange for us to consider poverty
and persecution as things we would call ‘blessed’,
but the Lord knows us through and through, knowing
especially that we need faith in the face of difficulties.
Trials beset all of us. They are a necessary,
though painful reality of the human condition. We
are forced, however, when tried by challenging circumstances in our
lives, to turn to God in a new and more profound way.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit…” This first beatitude is a gateway for
the others because it gives the basic disposition necessary for openness
to God. Our greatest poverty is a spiritual one. St. Francis and Bl. Teresa
of Calcutta lived with practically nothing, yet had great happiness because
their spirits were open to God. I’ve met millionaires who were
lonely, sad and restless. How do we find this poverty of spirit that gives

“The truth will set you free.” To be honest with one’s self and with
God brings a great liberation. Honesty admits my inadequacies. St.
Thérèse of Lisieux considered “…that the best thing that God could have
done in her soul was ‘to have shown her her smallness, her powerlessness.’
” This truth cries out to God who is all-sufficient for every need. If
we call on the name of Jesus in these crucial moments, He reminds us
that “all things are possible with God.” This truth allows us to be poor
and unafraid, knowing that Jesus will not leave us orphans, He will be
with us, blessing us and preparing us for eternal happiness.


Christian life includes spiritual warfare with the enemies of our salvation.
St. Patrick wrote a beautiful prayer called the “Breastplate of St. Patrick”,
found in several forms, one of which I include here:

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (from January 23, 2011 bulletin)

“Lord, teach us to pray…” - Luke 11:1
It seems like a simple request for Our Lord to teach someone how to pray, and yet it becomes complex in our broken
lives. Unfortunately, we are not simple people. But the Lord is patient and offers His disciples a beautiful answer, “When
you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins as we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
And do not subject us to the final test.”

He goes on to other lessons on prayer, but it begins here with the best known Christian prayer, the one Jesus gave us. We ought to know
it well and pray it often. In the early Church, Christians considered it an obligation to pray the Our Father at least three times a day.

If we only did just this, we would soon feel a drawing to pray more. The Scriptures invite us to “Taste and see how good the Lord is.” This
drawing to pray more, to know the Lord better, brings with it questions. As my beloved grandmother once said when asked who she thought
God is, “God is mystery.” In my ignorance at the time I thought I knew Him better than that. “Mystery” sounded too vague for a God who reveals
Himself to us. But as one grows in the spiritual life, one thing He reveals is His depths. God’s infinite Being becomes unfathomable and ineffable.
One could be overwhelmed.

It’s times like this when a person may feel a need for spiritual guidance. And so, many people seek information about the life of prayer. I
wish I had time to do this every day, all day long. It is a joy to help a person seek the action of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. And it’s an
impossible task for any one person in a large parish like ours. In discernment with a small core team, we sought to find a solution to this and
developed a new ministry called Spiritual Companions. With the expertise of Tim Malone and the help of Marijean Heutmaker and Diane
Cooper, we are launching this valuable help to the mission of the Church this weekend, January 22nd and 23rd.

The Twelve Companions (remind you of anything?) have been trained in the basic principles articulated by St. Ignatius of Loyola for
discernment of spirits and other methods of prayer. They have also received excellent listening skills and continue through ongoing formation
to shape their ability to relate with others. Each of them was screened for aptitude, and they have succeeded in completing this initial class over
the past year. They value their own spiritual journey and desire to share it with others.

These twelve adventurers in the spirit are trained to companion others on their journey. They aren’t spiritual directors or counselors, but
instead walk beside a person, sharing from their own experience and the richness of our spiritual tradition as Catholics. The disciples of
Emmaus give us a perfect image of how this ministry plans to function. You know the story; the two disciples are walking away from Jerusalem
wondering what had just happened. Their Jesus had been crucified and many of the disciples were terrified for their own lives. Now what? What
did their lives mean? Jesus comes alongside them, unrecognized, and asks what they were speaking about. “All that has happened in
Jerusalem over the past few days,” they respond. “What things?” Jesus asks.

Here is the crux of processing our prayer experience. ‘What things’ happen when you pray? We can try to process this alone, but it can help
immensely to share these ‘things’ with others. As the Body of Christ ,we bless, strengthen and encourage one another with God’s wisdom and
compassion. Sharing your prayer experience is a valuable way to bring the different members of Christ’s Body closer together.

Our Spiritual Companions at St. Stephen’s are available for one-on-one companioning or small group facilitation. We are hoping to have a
few small groups available for Lent this year. The format would include contemplative prayer based on the lectionary and sharing our experience
together. One doesn’t need to worry about sharing your feelings or personal concerns; one can share or not share. One doesn’t need to know
how to pray. We are all learners.

Please join me in commissioning these twelve founding members of St. Stephen’s Spiritual Companions. It promises to be an extraordinary
ministry of fruitfulness and growth in God’s love. One of our original core members, Leonard Lombardi, didn’t live long enough to see this come
to fruition, but his prayers and companionship continue in a more powerful way. Thank you, Lenny, for your gift of prayer and sacrifice for
Christ’s Church. We continue from the road to Emmaus on to the New Jerusalem together.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From Jan 16, 2010 Bulletin)

Pink and Blue Crosses

Some day, unless we repent, history will mark January 22, 1973 as a landmark date in the downfall of the United
States. It was the day when our Supreme Court made a decision that contradicted the very premise of our foundation
as a country. In other words, it was the day when the nine wisest citizens, so-called, rejected the cornerstone
of our Constitution. The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, reads:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the
political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers
of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's
God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they
should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Here the signers are going to give the primary reasons for America to become independent from England. This is our ‘raison d’être’,
our reason to exist.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness.

Notice how belief in God and the rights derived from natural law are assumed as ‘self-evident’, which means that they are “known to be
true by understanding its meaning without proof.” The rights derived from ‘Nature and Nature’s God’ are unalienable, or ‘not to be separated,
given away, or taken away’ from the individual person. The rights to ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’ cannot be given
away or taken away, yet that is what the Supreme Court tragically did on that day for the 52 million unborn who have since suffered
the consequence.

And not only these, but the mothers, fathers, families, friends, and society itself, have lost the image and likeness of God contained in
each and every person created. The gift of life, appreciated, is called to be esteemed and protected. When we fail to do that, we have
not truly received the fullness of life ourselves. This trend has to stop and change if the United States is to survive.

The Greek word for repentance is ‘metanoia’, to change one’s mind. We need a change of heart and mind here in America, which can
only begin with me, with each one of us individually. It means prayer and love, love for the truth and love for those harmed by abortion.
Which is why I’ve said ‘Yes’ to a desire to Memorialize the Unborn this Monday, January 17th. After 6:30PM Mass, we will process to
our Memorial Garden/Labyrinth area, placing 52 pink and blue crosses to acknowledge the 52 million children who have died due to
abortion. We will pray for them and their mothers in a special way with all-night Adoration following.

Some have concerns that this method is too ‘in your face’ or ‘political’. It is bound to make some people feel uncomfortable. Abortion
should make us feel uncomfortable. But the healing for this discomfort comes from real prayer and service to those most affected by
abortion. St. Stephen’s continues to offer significant support to Project Rachel, where moms and dads of aborted children can come to
know God’s mercy and love for them, acknowledging what they have done and reconciling with their children, who we believe are in
heaven in their innocence.

As long as Roe v. Wade is the law of our land, we live in darkness as a country, and parishes like ours need to provide a beacon of
hope, hope in God, hope in His mercy, hope in the conversion of all hearts. This is why we also provide support to Pregnancy Aid and
have helped found the Gabriel Project for expectant moms, so that we can stand in solidarity with any woman experiencing a crisis
pregnancy. Their dignity and well-being are at risk like the child within their womb.

Our Vigil for Life on Monday evening is followed by the March for Life in Olympia on Tuesday, January 18th. Please join me for both as
we rebuild the culture of life that God has always intended for us. Metanoia happens.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From January 9th 2010 Bulletin)

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Mt 3:17
Our New Year begins with the Feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of Our Lord. What is in those Feasts that could
inspire our coming year? Surely there is grace in every Sunday celebrated, but as John Paul II said, “In the designs of
Providence there are no mere coincidences.” There is grace, the life of God, in each and every moment of our existence,
if only we will listen and receive what the Lord has for us in that particular moment. So what can we derive from
the last two Sundays of the Advent and Christmas Season?

Epiphany is a Feast of Light, where God foreshadows His plan to reveal Himself to the gentiles, the non-Jewish
peoples. He does this through those ‘three wise guys’ as I like to affectionately call them. We actually don’t even know
that there were three of them. The number three comes from the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These certainly indicate three
areas of Christian life that demand our attention. Gold is a symbol of kingship, frankincense of priesthood, and myrrh of humanity and suffering.

Kingship can indicate the need for right governance, which if we apply that to ourselves, we might consider the virtues necessary to govern
our souls in making right choices. The beginning of a New Year is an excellent time to make resolutions around our own growth in Christ.
Is there a virtue that you need to strengthen? Remember that virtue in itself can be defined as “a good habit”; or “…a mean between excess
and defect; thus courage is a mean between cowardice and rashness, and liberality is a mean between stinginess and prodigality”; or “a habit
which perfects a power that a thing has.” Too often we think of virtue as something extreme, when it is actually the opposite.

What virtue do I need the most this coming year? Thomas à Kempis wrote that if we only added one virtue a year we would be saints in
no time. A few virtues to consider: faith, hope, love (the three theological virtues); fortitude, prudence, temperance, justice (the four cardinal
virtues); understanding, science, wisdom, art (intellectual virtues); in sub-categories we can name patience, chastity, humility and a host of
others. The most important thing is that we obtain them. They also flock together like the proverbial birds, so if we acquire one, the others are
close by.

If we can choose virtue, we also choose happiness and prepare the way for Christ, which relates to our second Feast Day, the Baptism
of Our Lord. The word for ‘Baptism’ in the Greek is baptizo or Βαπτιζω, which means “to immerse”. Have you ever been immersed in water
in a way that truly delighted you? I can remember a creek in Colorado that had a little waterfall, only a few feet really, but there was an air gap
behind it, so that one could dip one’s head back underneath the waterfall and into the air space behind the water. On a hot Colorado day in
the Rocky Mountains, it felt like heaven, and what a view. It was an immersion that I will always remember.

How much more should we consider our Baptism in Christ which we continue to affirm as adults, immersing ourselves in Christ as He
immerses Himself in us through the Holy Eucharist? What kind of a shower is He getting when He moves into our souls? Is He getting a
warm, heartfelt reception? Or am I indifferent or distracted? Do I resist God’s will in someway? I believe Christ is aware of these attitudes as
He tries to unite Himself to us in perfect love. We can actually change our attitudes through the grace of God and a prayerful turning towards
Him. Speaking to Him, even when, or shall I say, especially when we might feel indifferent, cold, bored, or dissatisfied, immediately gives God
a chance to warm our hearts with the truth about His love for us and desire to save us from our own weaknesses.

He desires to immerse Himself in us, to be with us during 2011 and beyond into eternity.

Thank You for Christmas

Thank you to all who made our Church so beautiful inside and outside for the Christmas Season. It was a wonderful atmosphere facilitated
by Cynde Bosshart, Mary Jo Kemper, and Rosanna Liliequist, and their energetic crew of volunteers. I also want to thank all who provided
the welcome and liturgies that we celebrated. The music was wonderful and all the assistance with parking and other logistics was
superb. I know many people were blessed. In fact, our Mass count for the five Christmas Masses was around 4500! Please pray that all who
attended will continue to grow and respond to Christ during this coming year.

Thank You for Presents

Thanks to all who gave gifts to me this Christmas. I am overwhelmed by your generosity and love. I hope to send thank you cards, but if
you don’t hear from me please accept my apology and thanks. There were also a few gifts that may have been separated from their cards,
namely a book of sermons by St. Alphonsus, a prayer sweatshirt, and a Gucci cloth. Please let me know if you gave these so I can thank you.
Many blessings to all during this coming year of 2011.