Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Words From Fr bEd (From July 3rd, 2011 Bulletin)

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt.11:28

If we wanted to narrow down to three words the most important instruction of the Gospel, we could easily choose these three, “Come to me….” Everything else that we need to know and do flows from this simple response to Jesus’ invitation. Consider these words and how we might respond, because it is a constant invitation to our souls. Jesus desires us to turn to Him for all of our needs.

When we hear these words addressed to us, what do we imagine? It is an important meditation. I invite you to take a few minutes to consider this. Even a few seconds can begin to give us the ‘rest’ that Jesus speaks of. Why? Because Jesus is our sufficiency. When we have Him we have everything that we need.

Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water past the disciples? (Jn 6:16-21) Verse 21 reads “They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.” The disciples’ desire to be with Jesus was enough to also bring about their earthly desires.

There is something similar in Matthew 6. Jesus is speaking of the kingdom and its sufficiency. “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things (food, clothing, drink) will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33) It is in seeking Him, placing Jesus first, that all our other priorities are fulfilled according to God‘s perfect plan.

You might be experiencing some doubt about this principle as you read this. I believe it is something you have to try in order to realize the truth of it. God is ready to fulfill His part of this equation, this relational covenant. But we have a part. This is crucial to a loving relationship with God. Somehow in our ‘entitlement’ culture, we come to think that God owes us everything and that we have nothing to do but receive.

Now there is a truth in that. We are called to receive. But that includes words like; “Come to me”. God gives us also the grace to come, if we are willing. We must engage our will in the process and lift our foot, open our eyes, pick up the Bible, bend the knee, start the car, or whatever action is necessary to cooperate with what we understand to mean ‘Come’.

“Everything is grace”, St. Therese liked to say. We depend on God’s life-giving grace for everything, including our little efforts to cooperate with God. But these efforts are not ‘nothing’. They are an expression of our will, our intention and our love. ‘Coming’ to Jesus is the absolute best thing we can possibly do for ourselves. Give it a try and you will not be disappointed.

Commandments for Husbands and Fathers, cont.

To review what I printed earlier, the first two commandments repeat what I have said above:

1) Develop an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus

2) Get your priorities in order: Jesus first, your wife second, your children third… [Sorry ladies, but if your husband idolizes you to the detriment of his faith, you will end up a sorry loser. Spouses cannot fill a God-sized hole in our lives. Trying to do so is a constant source of frustration and disappointment. EW]  

3)  Realize you are a priest, a spiritual leader in the home. Here’s a new one: Make sure you know what your children are being taught at school regarding morals and values. All teachers teach “in your place” as you and your wife are the primary educators of your children. If objectionable subjects or materials are being taught in the classroom, you must stand strong. "The place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance. In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.” - John Paul II [Regardless of whether a school is secular or Catholic, parents must be vigilant about the content of their child’s formation. All teachers impart some moral viewpoint to your children. It is inevitable. Are your children’s teachers forming your children in real virtue?]

More commandments to follow. See for more information.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From June 26th, 2011 Bulletin

Corpus Christi
The Body and Blood of Christ

…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood,
you have no life in you…
- Jn 6:53

No wonder we require Catholics to attend Mass each week. Is there a week of your life where you don’t want “life in you”? This is the bread of angels, full of eternal life and imparting it to us who receive it. You know the saying, “You are what you eat.” How true when we think of the Eucharist. But have we become what we receive?

“Love begets love.” It is the movement of Love, enfleshed in the Body of Christ that we receive in Holy Communion, to give birth to Love within us. This is a guaranteed intention on the part of Christ. He cannot but be Himself. “God is love.” But He does not force Himself. When we receive Him into our mouths, do we receive Him as well into our hearts and minds? Are our wills and intellects ready to receive all that He has for us? Remember this glorious truth, “Body, blood, soul and divinity.” All are present in the Blessed Sacrament.

When we receive Christ in Holy Communion we also receive His Soul and Divinity. Every time! We do not receive 1% one week and another 1% the next week. We receive all of Him every time. He gives Himself fully, without reserve, out of love for each one of us personally. And yet He does not coerce or force Himself where He is not welcome. I see some in Communion line who are distracted, careless, even making a show of boredom. How cold and indifferent to the saving Presence of God.

Of course Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But what can we do to improve people’s awareness of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist? One sure way is to prepare yourself and your family for Mass. The best way to do this is to read the readings beforehand, even the morning or time before the Mass you normally attend. Or perhaps at the dinner table the night before. Is that too difficult? Children learn from their parents, especially through their example.

A second way to become more conscious of Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist is to visit the tabernacle (located in the Chapel) before and/or after the Mass. I know it is in an obscure location, which we plan to change soon. The Church documents on the liturgy say that the Tabernacle should be located in a place “prominent to the assembly”. How many of you have visited our tabernacle where the True Presence of Christ resides constantly? This is not to say that He does not reside in you or elsewhere. He does. But the Tabernacle, where we reserve the Eucharist for the sake of Viaticum, regular Communion to shut-ins, and private prayer, is the preeminent place on earth where we can always find Jesus. The thought and erroneous teaching that the Tabernacle somehow distracts from the Mass or Jesus’ Presence within the individual believer has led many astray, and is proven false by the lives and experience of the Saints. How Blessed Mother Teresa loved to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She considered the daily time of Adoration the greatest gift her community could possibly receive.

I can say with confidence that those who spend time with the Blessed Sacrament become aware of His Real Presence there and are inspired by it. Drawing close to the fire we are warmed. Some told St. Teresa of Avila that they would have been very faithful in following Christ if they had but lived during His time. She disagrees, saying that one would treat Christ during His life on earth the very same way we now treat the Blessed Sacrament here present in all the Churches around the world. As St. Francis prayed, “We adore you O Christ and we praise you, here and in all the churches around the world.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From June 19th, 2011 Bulletin)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. - 2 Cor 13:13

This Greeting, which is one option we use at the beginning of Mass, is one of the more explicit Trinitarian references in Scripture. It reveals the unity of the three persons of the Godhead in Christian life. The Trinity is a mystery, however, one that we will not fully apprehend in this life. It takes faith to believe in the Trinity without understanding. There is a story of St. Augustine walking on the beach. He was pondering the Holy Trinity when he saw a boy running back and forth to the water with a bucket, trying to fill a little hole he had dug in the sand. The water kept overflowing the hole and running back to the sea. Augustine remarked, “What are you trying to do?” The boy responded, “I’m trying to put the sea into this hole.” Augustine rejoined, “Why that’s impossible.” The boy wisely said, “So is trying to cram all the truths of the Trinity into your head.”

The Trinity, as defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia, is in the absolute class of “supernatural mysteries…. An absolute mystery is a truth whose existence or possibility could not be discovered by a creature, and whose essence (inner substantial being) can be expressed by the finite mind only in terms of analogy, e.g., the Trinity.” May the Lord grant us faith to believe, to trust, and to hope in the living God.

Happy Father’s Day

Steve Wood, a Catholic Men’s Spiritual Leader, has a theory that if we are to renew society we must renew the Church; to renew the Church we must renew the family; and to renew the family we must renew the husband and father. In my experience this is generally true. Yes, it is a generalization, but often women seem to gravitate towards faith and a relationship with God more readily than men. Call it male pride, but that is just a guestimate. So what can we do to renew men in their roles as husbands and fathers? Fr. Wade Menezes, CPM gives these ten ‘commandments’ that can improve your life and effectiveness as a man.

Ten Commandments of a Husband and Father

“Take courage and be a man. Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following His ways and observing His statutes, commands, ordinances and decrees,that you may succeed in whatever you do.” - 1 Kings 2:2-3

I. Develop an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus, allowing Him to forgive you of your past, to talk to you, to heal you and to guide you. Then, trust the Holy Spirit in all things. Trust Him to provide everything you need, including financial help.

II. Get your priorities in order: Jesus first, your wife second, your children third, your work fourth, etc. Develop a weekly schedule, blocking out quality time for the Lord, your wife, each child and the family as a whole. A husband’s most important time during any given day is the first five minutes when he gets home from work and the love and attention he shows his wife and children at that time. Remember that your human fatherhood is rooted in the Divine Fatherhood of Almighty God. (cf. Eph 3:14-15; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2214)

III. Realize that you are [called to be a priest in your] home. It is your primary responsibility to oversee the TV and its influence, the Internet and its influence, as well as the books and magazines that enter into your home. You must stand firmly against all evil influences, asking constantly for God’s strength and guidance to lead your family in loving a pure, holy and non-violent lifestyle. Esto vir! (Be a man!) A father fosters moral virtue within his home first and foremost by example. Get into the habit of blessing your children – both alone and with your wife – before they go to sleep at night or before they leave the house in the morning. [A professor at my seminary once said that the best example of a priest he had known was his own father, because of the way in which he led the fami in prayer and virtue. This does not mean that a wife does not also exercise her ‘priesthood of all believers’. Saint Edith Stein, the great German feminist, says that the woman is the heart of the home. In light of the truth that so many women do lead their homes in faith, men must not abdicate their own spiritual responsibility because of this. Often children look to the father for affirmation of their mother’s good example. If they do not find it, or even find negation or mockery, then this licenses the children to dismiss the faith as irrelevant. EW]

I will continue with these commandments next week. For more information in the meantime, see the Fathers of Mercy web site at:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Words From Fr Ed (From June 12th, 2011 Bulletin)

…He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” - Jn 20:22

Jesus’ breath reminds us of the ‘ruah’ of God, when God “…blew into [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) The word ‘ruah’ in Hebrew also means ‘spirit’. Jesus breathed His Spirit into the apostles, giving them the power to forgive sins. (v.23) With this breath He was also preparing them for the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In the Acts of the Apostles we read, “...tongues as of fire…parted and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:3-4)

See how evangelical the Holy Spirit is. The presence of the Holy Spirit brings an immediate sharing of the experience. Remember how Elizabeth gushed with honor for Our Lady and Our Lord when John “leaped in her womb” at the approaching presence of Jesus. The Scripture says that Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” This experience is not something one can contain. The abundance of God overflows the mind and heart of us mere creatures. This overflow is not wasted however; it overflows in the direction of other people. Our second reading from Corinthians speaks of the “spiritual gifts” of the Holy Spirit, which are given to each individual “for some benefit”.

Most of us have not experienced this dramatic kind of infilling of the Holy Spirit that occurred at Pentecost. In the history of the Church it’s actually somewhat rare, but not unheard of. In fact, the saints often had extraordinary charismatic gifts of healing, prophecy, and knowledge. More recently we have a charismatic movement in the Church that began in 1967 when 25 faculty and students at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh held a weekend retreat. They experienced similar phenomena as the disciples in the upper room. It soon spread to Notre Dame and Michigan State campuses. (Read more at

While we might pray to have such an experience, the normal route for Catholics is faithful reception of the sacraments during our lives along with obeying our consciences. If our consciences are properly formed they will prompt us to seek the Holy Spirit who leads us “into all truth”. We also should seek to receive and use those charismatic gifts that most help the Body of Christ. If you are like me, you might not feel too excited about a gift that might seem a little odd to others. But who are we to refuse to be looked at as a “fool for Christ”? We should be open to whatever God desires, even these extraordinary gifts mentioned in the Bible.

St. Paul puts all this in perspective for us under the form of the theological virtue of love. While giving important guidance for maintaining unity and order in the community (1 Cor 12 and 14) he places the heart of the Gospel message in Chapter 13. Here Paul writes, “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.” He places love above all charismatic gifts. As St. Ambrose would teach, ”Charity is the form of all the virtues.” (Summa II, II, q.23) St. Thomas Aquinas expounds on the meaning of this truth:

In morals the form of an act is taken chiefly from the end. The reason of this is that the principal of moral acts is the will, whose object and form, so to speak, are the end. Now the form of an act always follows from a form of the agent. Consequently, in morals, that which gives an act its order to the end, must needs give the act its form. Now it is evident, in accordance with what has been said (7), that it is charity which directs the acts of all other virtues to the last end, and which, consequently, also gives the form to all other acts of virtue: and it is precisely in this sense that charity is called the form of the virtues, for these are called virtues in relation to ‘informed’ acts. (Summa II, II, 23)

That’s easy for him to say! As I understand it, this means that love (that is, God), is the end, or goal, or true purpose for our existence. Jesus said that he is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. All our actions should direct us toward this end. Otherwise, where are our actions taking us? If I plan a trip to Spokane, driving to Portland is delaying that end. The straightest, quickest route is due east. We should head east as well, directing our thoughts to the Risen Lord, now Ascended into heaven, ready to direct all our thoughts, words, and deeds toward the will of our heavenly Father. Our hope to do this lies in God our Savior, “…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Words From Fr Ed (From June 5th, 2011 Bulletin)

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. - Mt 28:20

He is with us, now in a risen form, but with us. Emmanuel, as we learn at Christmas, means “God with us.” It is a name given to Jesus that He promises to fulfill in our lives no matter what we are going through. He also promises “another Advocate” to be with us, namely, the Holy Spirit. We pray for this gift during this coming week in preparation for Pentecost. While the formal novena began on Friday, June 3rd, it is never too late to start. As I printed in last week’s bulletin, I reprint the novena prayer here, for your convenience and the good of our parish:

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.

R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

What if we were to truly pray and fast for nine days as a parish? We’ll be including this prayer at all the Masses during this novena. But could you pray in addition to this for the sanctification of our parish? ‘To be holy’; this should be the goal of every Catholic. This does not mean to be so occupied with heavenly things that one is ‘no earthly good’. No, to be holy makes one more human, just as Jesus was ‘fully human’.

We need the Holy Spirit for this transformation to happen. That is the promise of Our Lord if we keep His commandments. Is there some way to keep His commandments this week in a brand new way? Or is there some practice that you had in the past that would be helpful to return to as a sacrifice for our parish? We have the opportunity to be a little heaven on earth here at St. Stephen the Martyr. All the necessary ingredients, supplied by God, can be found in a parish, but we need to cooperate with God.

Sometimes I think that adding just ten minutes a day of some worthy prayer, scripture reading, or charitable act is enough to make one a saint. Consider it; what if every Catholic studied their faith for ten minutes a day? That’s one billion Catholics. Our world would be revolutionized with peace and justice and the word of truth. Let it rain down from the heavens, even as it arises from the earth. Imagine what God actually desires from humanity beginning with each one of us individually. I believe He desires that His goodness reign upon earth, so that all may know His love. Please pray with me these coming days for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our parish and our world.

Seminarian Cliff Macaraeg
Please welcome Cliff Macaraeg, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Seattle who just finished his first year of Pre-Theology. This means he has been studying Philosophy and some other foundations for Theology. He is from nearby Holy Family in White Center and brings a wonderful love for apologetics (defending and explaining our faith). Hopefully you will have a chance to meet him and learn more about his vocation and journey. Please pray for him as well, as he spends his summer with us. It is a privilege to host him and a sign of confidence from the Archdiocese that we are a welcoming parish and good soil for forming future priests.

Praying for Bin Laden?
A parish in the south was in an uproar over whether or not to pray for the repose of the soul of Osama Bin Laden. The simple legal answer is that one is neither obligated to nor restricted from praying for him. My own preference is to pray for all souls, regardless of their actions in this life. That is not to say anyone deserves heaven or doesn’t deserve hell. I include here a statement from the Holy See Press Office:

Osama Bin Laden, as is known, claimed responsibility for grave acts that spread division and hate among the peoples, manipulating religion to that end. A Christian never takes pleasure from the fact of a man’s death, but sees it as an opportunity to reflect on each person’s responsibility, before God and humanity; and to hope and commit oneself to seeing that no event becomes another occasion to disseminate hate, but rather to foster peace.

Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to come and spread the fire of God’s love throughout humanity.