Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From October 2nd, 2011 Bulletin)

The Stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone…

     Jesus, the Son of God, was rejected by the religious authorities of His day. The one who could best build the faith of God’s people was considered an imposter and killed for His claim to be “I AM”, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The chief priests and elders couldn’t fathom a God who is three persons, a community of love; nor could they believe the Son in this Trinity would visit them at that time.

     We, too, can fall short in our faith that God is truly with us and for us. Our lives can be encumbered by beliefs about our world and ourselves that are not true.  We can be bombarded by messages throughout the day that do not reflect the truth of God’s love for us, or of His goodness. As Catholics we must work against this tendency with real commitment to the truth and intentional immersion in it each day.

     The Scriptures are a crucial source of truth to keep us growing closer to God. The Word of God orients us and reorients us in the right direction. One of the skills I learned in Boy Scouts was how to use a map and compass to find a particular location. They would have field trials and contests where our team had to find certain clues and landmarks using a compass and a map.

     I think it’s a fair analogy to call the Bible our map. It shows the general truth about where things are, the reality of how life is and how to negotiate it, where the pitfalls are, and what goals we might want to achieve. If one watches the needle on a compass, it’s fascinating to see it be directed by an invisible magnetic force coming from the North Pole. We also carry within us an inner compass, the Holy Spirit, who, along with the gift of reason, is orientated towards the truth.

     We were made for God. If I may repeat dear Augustine’s timeless truth here, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” He goes on to write:

Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new; late have I loved Thee! For behold Thou wert within me, and I outside; and I sought Thee outside and in my unloveliness fell upon those lovely things that Thou hast made. Thou wert with me and I was not with Thee. I was kept from Thee by those things, yet had they not been in Thee, they would not have been at all. Thou didst call and cry to me and break open my deafness: and Thou didst send forth Thy beams and shone upon me and chased away my blindness: Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath and do now pant for Thee: I tasted Thee, and now hunger and thirst for Thee: Thou didst touch me, and I have burned for Thy peace.  (Confessions, Book Ten, xxvii)

God is within us. He is our cornerstone and provides the compass that directs us to build our lives on Him. Remember the psalm, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain does the builder labor.” Let us build on Jesus, the cornerstone of our lives.

St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From September 25th, 2011 Bulletin)

Which of the two did the Father’s will?

Jesus tells us that we must do the Father’s will if we are to be saved. “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 7:21)  It is imperative that we find out what that will of the Father is for us. This involves knowing the Father.
How do we best get to know this Father whom we cannot see? Jesus is the answer. He said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:21)  But how do we see Jesus? The Church has given us several sources for the truth about Jesus Christ, including the Scriptures, Tradition and the Magisterium. All of these entail formal revelation. There is also an informal revelation that occurs when we observe the creation around us or our own human nature. All, when evaluated with reason, point to the existence of our loving God.

Just before sitting down to write this, my friend Larry, the owner of the ranch where I am vacationing, showed me the honey trays that he just brought in from his bee boxes. Extraordinary, the beauty of the honey combs that the bees have developed. Perfectly formed and patterned six-sided wax receptacles are laden with liquid honey which the bees then seal over for storage. I remarked to Larry that these were proof of God’s existence. We can see too, from the order in the hive that He is a loving God, taking care of even the needs of bees.

Like these bees, there is an order to our lives if we are willing to accept it. And that is precisely the key, we have free will. The bees cooperate with God by natural instinct. They aren’t sitting around wondering whether they should build six-sided containers or five. No, they simply do what is written into their nature by our orderly and loving God. Our lives tend to be less orderly, depending on our openness to God. I don’t mean to say that this necessitates external order in our lives, though often it is a fruit of interior order. This interior order comes from submitting our will to God’s.

Again, this brings us back around to the question of determining what God’s will is for us, moment to moment. Our vocations give us a lot of clues in the duties and responsibilities that govern our lives. His general will for married people is to raise a family, training children in the faith, supplying the material goods necessary for life. This would mean working in some way that fits our skills and desires. To be more specific, to do a good job of this means being honest and efficient, maintaining competency in one’s field. But we can still be more specific.

Through the day we have a myriad of decisions to make. To know God’s will on each of them is difficult, but we can begin by asking. Jesus said, “Ask, and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7) We need to take Jesus’ promise seriously and realize its veracity. The way to find out if it is true is to ask with an open heart to know God’s will, and be prepared to hear the answer. He will inform you in one way or another. That may include the difficult trial of not receiving extraordinary explicit signs of His will, but rather growing in faith, which is more important than specific knowledge of a task to be performed.

You may be discouraged by past failures to do God’s will, or you mope about how better your life could be if you had taken a different course.  Never mind, listen to the Gospel this Sunday about the two sons. One refused the father’s will initially, but then “changed his mind”.  We can change our mind too, taking on the mind of Christ, and become, even in an instant, full of God’s glory and grace.

African Mission Presentation on Sunday, October 2 (at 9:45 AM, between the two morning Masses)
St. Stephen’s has had a significant connection to Uganda through the Masaka Children’s Fund started by one of our very own parish-ioners, Emily Bourgeois. This project provides for orphaned children. A video presentation of the December 2010 mission trip to Uganda and Kenya, which included Masaka in their itinerary, will be shown Sunday between Masses. Also included will be info about the mission trip next August!  Do you feel drawn to help the children of Africa? For more info, contact Diane Cooper (425-652-1445 or

Jesus asked, “Which of the two sons did the father’s will?”
Sometimes we hear the Gospel, and it sounds harsh.  Jesus compares the minimal response to those that would allow great sinners greater access to heaven than persons who think of themselves righteous.  However when digging deeper into the reading and the intent of Jesus we find that on the contrary Jesus is seeking a greater commitment from his followers, a more engaged Christian lifestyle that is not just words but also true action. To learn what this might look like, RCIA is designed to bring persons into the Catholic Church, and unpacking the deeper meaning of the Gospels is an integral part of the process. If you would like to share in this process, please contact Cynde Bosshart (253-631-1940 x104 or

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From September 18th, 2011 Bulletin)

 …to me life is Christ…
                             Philippians 1:21

St. Paul is one who experienced a total eclipse of Christ taking over his life. Jesus is all he could see.  As Paul says elsewhere, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20) This is the goal of Christian life. It runs con-trary to the excess of self-affirmation current in our culture. Self-esteem can be important, but not to the exclusion of the real work of God in the soul. I believe John the Baptist probably had a healthy sense of self-esteem, yet he would say, “I must decrease and He must increase.” Same in our soul, Christ must increase, and we must decrease. 

The first place we carry out this transformation whereby Christ takes over our souls is in the Holy Mass. This does not mean that He steals our will and intellect making us like robots.  No, He actually elevates them to a place of true freedom where we, with faith and reason together, freely give ourselves over to the beautiful gift of love that God has for us. We see this docility in all the saints, but even in Jesus Himself as He surrenders Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus still had free will when He said, “If it be Thy will Father, take this cup from me. But nevertheless, Thy will be done.”
This same Jesus waits to give Himself completely to us in a surrender like the one He gave to the Father. Of course, He gave Himself over to death, according to the Father’s will, so that we might be able to receive His sacrifice, even His Body and Blood. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we receive His self-giving love, His sacrificial love, and we become givers like Him. We can even say that He is giving Himself to others through us along with our own personal sacrifice of self. This is the joy of beatitude, to be poor of spirit, freely becoming Christ for others. Life becomes Christ and the fullness of His life, death and resurrection lives within us.

9/11 Follow-up:

There were several beautiful stories available on the internet related to 9/11 including these:

The story of “14 Cows for America” at:    to-america/; as well as the story of Cheryl McGuinness that I used in my homily at:

Let us pray for peace.

What is Catholic Christianity?
“Are you envious because I am generous?”  In our society, fairness is often valued higher than generosity. How fair is it in this gospel for the landowner to compensate equally those who work less than those who labored all day? When we come to God, his favorable response to us is not measured on when we come to him but only that we finally do. All are welcome. This kind of gospel message which might seem obscure in our daily lives is typical food for thought and discussion at RCIA. If you are a non-Catholic who wonders about our Church’s teaching, come and find out what the Catholic Church has to offer.  Contact or 253-631-1940 x104 for details. 

September 23rd, Memorial of St. Padre Pio

A Prayer for Trust and Confidence in God's Mercy by St. Pio of Pietrelcina

O Lord, we ask for a boundless confidence
and trust in Your divine mercy,and the courage to accept
the crosses and sufferings
which bring immense goodness
to our souls and that of Your Church.
Help us to love You
with a pure and contrite heart,
and to humble ourselves beneath Your cross,
as we climb the mountain of holiness,
carrying our cross that leads to heavenly glory.
May we receive You
with great faith and love in Holy Communion,
and allow You to act in us as You desire
for your greater glory.
O Jesus, most adorable Heart
and eternal fountain of Divine Love,
may our prayer find favor before
the Divine Majesty of Your heavenly Father.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From September 11th Bulletin)

…how often must I forgive? 
                        - Mt 18:21

      Our Lord calls us through today’s Gospel to ‘forgive from the heart’. How appropriate given the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Forgiveness does not always come easy, especially where there may be no repentance or sorrow on behalf of the perpetrator. Like all significant tragedies, most of us can remember exactly where we were when the news became known on 9/11/2001. I was in my first week of seminary in Chicago. That morning, I was passing seminarians in the door-way to our dorm building on my way to an 8:30 AM class (CST). As they rushed in, they said that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. They were pushing past, anxious to see a television set with news. At first, it sounded like an accident. I proceeded to class asking others what they knew. The gravity of the situation was written on our wise professor’s face. The tall priest, a pillar of spirituality, was shaken. His face foretold a truth that we have since experienced; the world was entering a new level of crisis.

      I almost wrote that the world would be ‘forever changed’, presumably for the worst. But, I don’t believe that any tragedy necessarily changes things forever for the worse. Yes, there is loss, but we have a God who can heal. And yes, there has been an increase of conflict in the world. But, do we necessarily have to be a part of it? Jesus calls Christians to a higher standard than violence and revenge. The bottom line of Jesus’ message is one of mercy. We hear that today as Jesus admonishes Peter to forgive ‘seventy-seven times.’ And this is not sim-ply a perfunctory act of the intellect. Jesus says that we must forgive our brother from the heart. This means real love.

      From what I know of fundamentalist Islam, we’re not going to agree on many important aspects of religion, culture or politics. But, do I love the jihadist despite our radical disagreement? Do I desire his or her good? This is Aquinas’ definition of love, “to will the good of another”. We just heard St. Paul say that the fulfillment of the Law is to ‘love our neighbor’. He does not say whether that is a Christian neighbor, or Jewish, or Muslim, or atheist. Our duty as Christians is to love regardless of another’s different belief, even about what we hold most sacred. If what we hold most sacred, the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, has had its intended effect, then we will have the grace to forgive, to love, and bring healing to our broken world.

Save Us, Savior of the World

     We began singing the Memorial Acclamation this past week from the New Translation of the Roman Missal. Thanks to Marijean Heutmaker, John Burton, and all the musicians who helped implement this change. We’ll continue to integrate a few of the sung responses before the First Sunday of Advent (Nov 27th), when all the changes become the norm for Mass. Please take time to read the bulletin inserts that explain the theological thinking and linguistics behind the new texts. I include here a short quote from the new Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose H. Gomez, who writes about the "wonderful gift" the Revised Missal will be for the Church:

        Implementing this new translation means much more than simply memorizing new prayers. I really believe this new  translation offers us a special moment of grace.

        It is a fact of life that anything we do over and over again can become routine, something we just do without paying too much attention.

       But we can never let the Mass become routine for us. We need to love the Eucharist! We need to live the holy Mass! Our Christian life, our whole life, must be centered in the Eucharist.

        That is why this new translation is such a wonderful gift. It gives us the opportunity for a new Eucharistic catechesis. It gives us the chance to reflect more deeply on the meaning of our worship - on what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist, and why.