Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Words From Fr Ed (From May 1st, 2011 Bulletin)

Mercy Sunday

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. -Jn 20:23

John Paul II declared during his homily at the Canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000, that the Second Sunday of Easter would now be known as Divine Mercy Sunday. ( This year we celebrate this Feast, on May 1st, in an extraordinary way because we have First Communion being received by some of our children. In addition, John Paul II, who died on Mercy Sunday in 2005, is being beatified in Rome on the same day. What an amazing convergence of graces! How can we make sense of it? A recent rendition of Amazing Grace includes the expression ‘grace like rain’. Grace, like our northwest rain, is pouring out upon us. What are we to do? The answer is simple: receive.

John Paul was inspired by the revelations given by Christ to a Polish nun named Faustina, who said to her, “Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy." (Diary, p. 132). How true that is, and how true to our Gospel, which we read this Sunday. Twice Our Lord says, “Peace be with you,” before breathing on the apostles saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Imagine that for a second. We just witnessed at the Chrism Mass the Archbishop breathing on the holy oils as part of the blessing ritual. Here Christ is not breathing on an object, but on persons. Remember God breathing life into the nostrils of man at the beginning of creation, making him ‘a living being’? Sin, however, destroys a much more vital life within the soul and mercy is the cure.

We continue this week with our novena of mercy, which Our Lord gave to St. Faustina, inviting her to offer different categories of peoples to His Infinite mercy. Jesus encouraged going to confession during this time of mercy:

When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light. ...Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them, that I listen intently to the beating of their heart…when will it beat for me? (from the Diary entry 1602, 1725, 1728)

There is also a plenary indulgence for all who confess their sins, receive Holy Communion and pray for our Holy Father’s intentions. (See for more information.)

First Communion

Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. - Jn 6:56

Congratulations to our students who are receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. This is the ‘new and everlasting covenant’ between God and all humanity. No more lambs, nor more messengers; God Himself has come to save us as He plants His law more deeply into our hearts through the gift of the Eucharist. Each child who receives Him becomes a tabernacle of the Most High. These children continue to be dependent on good parenting, which includes perhaps a more important communion, their second one. When will it be?

All of us should consider why the Church insists on Sunday worship in relation to the Eucharist. If this is the Bread of Life, is there a week of your life when you don’t want to have eternal life within you? The week is described in Genesis as a model for human life when God rests on the seventh day. We ought to dedicate one day a week to pure rest in this awesome God from which flows all the goodness we can ever experience in life. Parents of First Communicants, please come back next week for the sake of your child and for your own sake. Your life eternal depends on it. While His mercy is infinite, as this Sunday suggests, we need to cooperate with the graces He gives us.

Blessed John Paul II

Our recent pope is on the fast track to sainthood. You can see the beatification at beginning at 11:30pm Saturday, April 30th. John Paul wrote a few words on his death bed to be read on Mercy Sunday, the day he entered heaven:
As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the Risen Lord offers His love that pardons, reconciles, and reopens hearts to love. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy! Lord, who reveal the Father’s love by Your Death and Resurrection, we believe in You and confidently repeat to You… Jesus, I trust in You, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world. Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From April 24th, 2011 Bulletin)


Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting;
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
To Galilee he goes before you.”

No, not for Jerusalem only! This power and life will spread to Galilee and beyond, even all the way to Renton! People often ask about this small detail, both in Scripture and the Easter Sequence which I quote above. Mary Magdalene, apostoli apostolis (the apostle to the apostles), was given the errand by an angel in the Gospel of Matthew, to begin the sharing of the Resurrection, the transmission of truth.

The peculiar thing that people tend to notice is that the angel infers that the apostles will find him in Galilee, yet Luke clearly places the Ascension at Bethany near Jerusalem. The angel in Matthew says, “…then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’” Matthew goes on to say that the eleven went to Galilee, “ the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.” (v.28:16) Jesus gives them the great commission to evangelize the whole world “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (v.19-20) Then Matthew leaves out one detail, the Ascension.

These details seem to contradict themselves in the four Gospels, but we do see an essential element that all capture: Jesus is sending them forth from Jerusalem. The trauma of the crucifixion could easily have paralyzed the new-born Church if it weren’t for this outward movement of Jesus in the Resurrection narratives. As good physical therapists suggest in recovering health, whatever one does, move! This has a personal message as well as a corporate one; that this Gospel which has benefited me is not for me alone and I have a responsibility to go out of myself in sharing it with others.

Has the love of God ignited this fundamental Christian attitude in your soul? It is an important reflection on the extent to which one has received the Gospel message and the reality of Christ’s resurrected presence into our lives. The Latin phrase nemo dat quod non habet (you can’t give what you ain’t got*) is an appropriate principle here. It is a fair test as to whether we will follow Christ after all we have seen this Holy Week.

*Kentucky translation

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From April 17th, 2011 Bulletin)

Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek,
and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. - Zechariah 9:9

Our Holy Week begins in the narthex with the Gospel of Matthew and a scene prophesied by Zechariah (or ‘deutero-Zechariah’) around 520 BC. What kind of king is this, who rides on a humble donkey? Something different is about to occur. Our Pope, Benedict XVI, writes of this in his new book, “Jesus of Nazareth (Part II), Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection”:

He is a king who destroys the weapons of war, a king of peace and a king of simplicity, a king of the poor. …through this anchoring of the text in Zechariah 9:9, a “Zealot” exegesis of the kingdom is excluded: Jesus is not building on violence; he is not instigating a military revolt against Rome. His power is of another kind: it is in God’s poverty, God’s peace, that he identifies the only power that can redeem. (pp. 4, 5)

Benedict goes on to describe the throng of pilgrims that Jesus had joined ever since Jericho, where he had healed Bartimaeus. The song “Blessed is he who enters in the name of the Lord!” was part of the ‘pilgrim liturgy’. For those who have made a pilgrimage before, often there are traditional songs, prayers, and readings that accompany one, either on the bus or on the grounds of the pilgrimage site. These pilgrims coming for Passover had their own rituals too, including the blessing as they arrived at the temple, “We bless you from the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 118) I’m reminded of the wonder and awe of seeing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, on a recent pilgrimage. There is a thrill to be at the heart of our Catholic faith and all that is related to the witness of the apostles.

Our professor Pope, always the teacher, takes advantage of this text to condemn violent sectarianism:

The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all. Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favorite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be. It serves, not humanity, but inhumanity. ...No; violent revolution, killing others in God’s name, was not his [Jesus’] way. (15)

Where is this donkey, this ‘animal of the poor’, leading Jesus? It is leading Him to His Passion, to His great kenosis, His self-giving, to create a ‘house of prayer for all peoples’. Benedict writes of the ascent to Jerusalem, literally from below sea level in Galilee to now 2500 feet above, and its purpose:

The ultimate goal of Jesus’ “ascent” is his self-offering on the Cross, which supplants the old sacrifices; it is the ascent that the Letter to the Hebrews describes as going up, not to a sanctuary made by human hands, but to heaven itself, into the presence of God (9:24). This ascent into God’s presence leads via the Cross- it is the ascent toward “loving to the end” (cf.Jn13:1), which is the real mountain of God. (2)

Our liturgies this coming Holy Week draw us into the reality of Jesus’ experience of His last week of human life. If you were living in Jerusalem 2000 years ago would you take time to be with Jesus? If He invited you to join Him at the Last Supper, would you take the time to be with Him and the apostles? If you knew He was being driven and beaten, along SE 192nd St. and would be crucified on St. Stephen’s property, would you come to console Him, to pray for Him, to be with Him in His hour? Would you go to the tomb with Mary of Magdala with spices and perfume to anoint His Body? He has invited you to join Him in this Holy Week 2011. May it be the best week of your life.

“Will you not watch one hour with me?”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From April 10th, 2011 Bulletin)

Musings of a Dessert Father

I can’t pretend to call myself a desert father. They are holy and ascetical in the practice of mortification. I’m more of a dessert father; I have trouble passing a good donut. But holiness is not out of reach for us who are weak. In fact, recognition of weakness is a requisite for an honest relationship with God. So there is a good place to begin. Are you weak (and can admit it)? Then there is hope.

As I write this, I’m still in the high desert at Marymount Hermitage. It’s a stunning vista here of melting snow in forested mountains and rolling sagebrush. The clouds and rain are visible for twenty miles distant as spring begins to make itself known here in Mesa, Idaho. Delicate buttercups begin to show themselves after a long winter’s hibernation. Robins begin to declare an end to it, ready or not. Geese fly every which way confused by the indecisiveness of the weather. We had snow yesterday.

Silence, nature and prayer begin to have their effect on me. I found myself weeping over a simple statement by Antonio Rosmini this morning, “I, who understand, feel, and I, who feel, understand.” Right now, I’m trying to understand what was so moving about this little truth, but maybe it’s not a little truth at all. Maybe it’s a big truth about humanity. The quote is actually Denis Cleary commenting on Rosmini’s writings on the human person, and what makes each of us unique (from Antonio Rosmini: Introduction to His Life and Teaching). Blessed Rosmini (beatified in 2005) was trying to respond to modern philosophies that either erred on the side of ‘all we know is feeling’ (that which our senses detect), or oppositely that ‘all we know is thought’ (that which we sense is unreliable). Rosmini unites them in describing a human person as that place where the two, thinking and feeling, are united.

In solitude one can begin to experience and appreciate little statements, or dried sagebrush, or inquisitive magpies with greater clarity and magnitude. By application, this speaks too of the magnificence of one human being, breathing, sensing, feeling, thinking and desiring. You are unique. There has never been a ‘you’ or an ‘I’ like this one, ever until now, and never will be another. You are unique. Dare I say it again? The preciousness of a human person, made in the image of God, is extraordinary. This is why we must respect and reverence each and every one of us, regardless of opinions or persuasions or even goodness or wickedness. Each human person is unique.

I have the day off again except for Mass, which is hardly a chore. We had planned to look at The Spiritual Doctrine of Elizabeth of the Trinity together, but that will wait until Friday when I hope to be feeling better. My nose had started to run as I got to the airport Monday morning and my head filled with congestion. I was whining about this internally on Tuesday, with a tremendous headache to go with it. Why come out here and be sick? Is this some cruel sport from God? Doesn’t He know better? Where is His sense of timing? I could be making so much progress in the spiritual life if I was healthy, I thought. In sharing these profound thoughts with the most High, I received no direct answer. My head was spinning anyway from this cold, or flu, or whatever. I could hear nothing but my own snuffling.

Then, as if already planned, I picked up Abandonment to Divine Providence from the Hermitage library. I had read it before and remembered its refreshingly simple premises about surrendering oneself in the present moment. I was desiring a God who could reach into my weakness and suffering and sickness and bring some value to this moment which seemed less than ideal. Here is what de Caussade had to say:

In reality, holiness consists of one thing only, complete loyalty to God’s will.

Perfection is neither more nor less than the soul’s faithful co-operation with God.

Our only satisfaction must be to live in the present moment as if there were nothing to expect beyond it.

You are seeking for secret ways of belonging to God, but there is only one: making use of whatever he offers you.

God truly helps us however much we may feel we have lost his support.

The more God takes from the abandoned soul, the more is he really giving it…the more he strips us of natural things, the more he showers us with supernatural gifts.

There’s more of course; I can only recommend reading this one. I continue to pray for the parish as I write this. I look forward to being with you soon and will be when you are reading this. As I finish this article, my head has cleared and the geese seem more sure of themselves.

From the desert,
Fr Ed