Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From January 29th, 2012 Bulletin)

"I should like you to be free of anxieties...
St. Paul here refers to the advantage of celibacy as opposed to marriage and its responsibilities. This is an objective advantage of celibacy, in that, normally, if one practices the faith, it is easier to focus on God alone if one is celibate. That is an objective standard, not a subjective one. In the reality of personal discernment of vocation, one has to seek a subjective calling that transcends objective norms that might not fit you personally. Say what?

While priesthood and religious life are wonderful goods in and of themselves, not everyone is cut out for it. Even Jesus says that only those who can accept it should choose such a lifestyle. Some seem uniquely called to marriage. This means that if one is called to marriage then that is exactly where they will find their greatest holiness and glorify God accordingly. One of the great pro-life warriors in our nation, Joe Scheidler, shared with me his own story of coming up to one week before his deaconate ordination, where one makes a promise of perpetual celibacy, and realizing that this was not for him. He left seminary and married a wonderful woman Anne and had many children, becoming the preminent pro-life activist in the country. He had no doubt that God was calling him to marriage.

Marriage glorifies God if it is lived well. This takes a mutual self-giving on both parts. As the Pastoral Constitution on the Church states, "By their intimate union of persons and of actions they give mutual help and service to each other, experience the meaning of their unity, and gain an ever deeper understanding of it day by day…True married love is caught up into God’s love; it is guided and enriched by the redeeming power of Christ and the saving action of the Church, in order that the partners may be effectively led to God and receive help and strength in the sublime responsibility of parenthood."
I know this is difficult to live. So is celibacy. I have over 5000 ‘spouses’. (Try getting along with all of them!) I find it a miracle that there is so much communion amongst us. It is a great gift of God. It is His Holy Spirit and the bond we share in the Eucharist which makes it as easy as it is. This unifying power of Christ is promised to spouses if they are open to it. I recommend a little prayer from the prayer of Christ the High Priest who said, "Father…that they may be one, even as we are one." (John 17:11) Spouses can change this to, "Father, make us one (you and your spouse), even as you are one with the Son and the Holy Spirit." What a beautiful communion that can develop from this simple prayer. I pray it for all of our married couples now, even as I write this…

Contact Senator Joe Fain
Our local state senator has a key vote to protect the sanctity of marriage in our state. To claim that same-sex unions are equivalent to heterosexual marriage is outrageous and will effectively undermine the good of our society. Please contact our local state senator to respectively express your opinion.
Call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
Here is the link to email your legislators:
Schedule a personal visit with your legislators to discuss marriage. Call ahead to do so. You can find their office number at: and clicking "find your district."
Book recommendation: Searching for and Maintaining Peace:
By Father Jacques Philippe

This little treatise is another gem from the author of Interior Freedom. In it he maintains that, "The more our soul is peaceful and tranquil, the more God is reflected in it, the more His image expresses itself in us, the more His grace acts through us." Philippe uses several scriptures to validate his position, like, "By waiting and by calm you shall be saved; in quiet and in trust your strength lies…" (Isaiah 30:15) He includes the counsel of Dom Scupoli, who wrote the classic, Unseen Warfare (or Spiritual Combat), "The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that He accomplishes great things."

There is a powerful temptation in times of trial that Philippe would like to unmask for us, namely, "…the temptation to believe that, in the situation which is ours (personal, family, etc.), we lack something essential and that because of this, our progress, and the possibility of blossoming spiritually, is denied us." In other words, the trial has obscured the light of faith which tells us that "All things turn to good for those who believe." (Rom 8:28) This also destroys our peace, the peace that is essential for us to benefit from the current trial. God is present and as Philippe advises, "It is not the exterior circumstances that must change; it is above all our hearts that must change." May God bless all of us with great peace of heart and mind in our trials.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From January 22nd, 2012 Bulletin)

"The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel"

- Mark 1:15

The truth is not far from us. Jesussays that ‘the kingdom…is at hand.’ It is near, it is accessible, but we haveto ‘repent’. Repentance is a change of mind, heart, and actions. First, we mustrealize the need to change. Often, in counseling situations, the question comesup, "Does this person realize their need for help?" Whatever the problem is, ashumans we tend to accompany our sin and imperfection with pride. The nature ofpride blinds us to the reality of our responsibility and the presence of prideitself. Pride is like Satan, whose first task, according to C.S. Lewis, is toget their victim to not believe in the existence of Satan! Clever.

God’s kingdom, which is within us, isalways attempting to break through our defenses and conquer our hearts andminds for Jesus. We do not have to do much except allow what the power of Goddesires. I love the second antiphon in the Office of Readings for Tuesday, WeekII: "Surrender to God, and He will do everything for you." Let us pray for thisgrace to surrender to the action of the Holy Spirit who is informing us of thetruth of God’s ways. He is present, He is willing, and He is good.

Gay ‘Marriage’?

As I said in my homily this pastweekend, our State Governor Gregoire has thrown her office behind the passageof a ‘same-sex marriage’ bill to be introduced as early as this past week. Itwill have tragic consequences on our society if passed. The distinction betweenman and woman goes back to Adam and Eve. Their complementarity and inclinationtowards one another were built in and part of natural law. The beauty andgoodness of God, even His own Trinitarian reality of personal love, is seen inthis created attraction. The rejection of gender is a rejection of God’s wisdom.

In addition, the first command tohumanity, in the form of Adam and Eve, is to "go forth and multiply’. We canread in the design of our anatomies the perfection of God written into humanityand the ability to procreate. What a privilege God has given us, to participatein the very act of creation itself. While God provides the soul, husband andwife provide the necessary physical ingredients that unite to form the body ofa human person. How extraordinary and how sacred. To obliterate this gift fromGod is to take us deeper into a godless society removed from common sense andnature. Without nature as a foundation, truth becomes whatever anyone wishes itto be, and mankind becomes very cruel.

Please join me in writing to yourstate legislators to encourage them to protect the definition of marriage asone man and one woman. You can find their emails and other info through theseheadings

• Readthe Meaning of Marriage Talking Points (providedby Gerri)

• Callyour legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

• Email all your legislators about marriage, then share the email widget with yourfriends on Facebook.

• Schedulea personal visit with your legislators to discuss marriage. Call ahead to doso. You can find their office number by clicking here andclicking "find your district."

See additional ideas.Iincluded here: the beginning of the Washington State Bishops:Marriage and the Common Good - A statement on legislation to redefine marriage...

Legislation has been introduced in Washington State tochange the current law defining marriage. The present law states: "marriage isa civil contract between a male and a female..." This same law also prohibitsmarriage to close-blood relations, a clear indication that the definition ofmarriage is related to bringing children into the world and the continuation ofthe human race. The legislation to redefine marriage, therefore, is not in thepublic interest.Marriage is certainly about the public recognition of arelationship between a man and a woman which carries certain rights and responsibilitiesfor the two adults. But, it is much more. Marriage in faith and societaltraditions is acknowledged as the foundation of civilization. It has long beenrecognized that the stability of society depends on the stability of familylife in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life. In this way,civil recognition of marriage has sought to bestow on countless generations ofchildren the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and father committed toone another in a lifelong union.

Additionally, by defining marriage both in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman and its important role of guaranteeing the succession of generations, the state is recognizing the irreplaceable contribution that married couples make to society. Married couples who bring children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the good of society. For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by bringing to life the next generation.

Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs. Washington State’s present law defining marriage as "a civil contract between a male and a female" is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society. It recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race. A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.

For these reasons, we the Catholic Bishops of Washington State call on the citizens of this state to maintain the legal definition of marriage. We ask all to join in praying with us for married couples and families and to do everything possible to support them. We urge you to contact your own state senator and your two state representatives to request that they defend the current legal definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From January 15th, 2012 Bulletin)

Rabbi, where are you staying?
     - John 1:38
One has to believe that John the Evangelist had a sense of humor in writing this simple request of Andrew and another of the Baptist’s disciples. It is a far reach from the mystical theology that he begins his gospel with: as we read on Christmas Day, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) By the end of the chapter he is getting to the radical collision between the Divine and the trembling human.

Andrew and company hardly knew what to do with Jesus. I’m sure they had their hands full with trying to follow the extreme, outside the margins John the Baptist. Now he is pointing to this ‘Lamb of God’ whose sandals, the Baptist confesses, he is unworthy to untie. Mercy. Even as they begin to literally follow Jesus down the path He was on, perhaps at what they thought was a comfortable distance, Jesus initiates the dialogue by asking, “What do you seek?”

They weren’t prepared. One thinks Jesus was probing for something more esoteric like “Truth”, “Justice”, “Righteousness”, or “The Kingdom”. No, they could only come up with something that kept some buffer between them and the Most High, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” One could imagine other questions with as little significance like, “What kind of bread do you prefer?”, or “What is your favorite wood to use when making cabinets?” Andrew and his friend were ready to follow, but on their own terms. Little did they know…

Jesus invites each of us to “Come and see”, come and see where He operates at His best. This entails a literal following of Christ, using our bodies to get up and follow Him somewhere. Paul gives us some clue in the second reading to the consequence of placing our bodies at the service of God.  “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.” Joining our bodies to the Lord makes our spirits follow because we are a composite of soul and body. One depends on the other. We don’t just follow Christ spiritually. We follow Him body and soul. That’s why Jesus can draw Andrew and company in by simply inviting them to bodily come and see where he stays.

Mass and March for Life
One of the most powerful works on behalf of the sanctity of life is occurring tomorrow, January 17th, beginning with a Mass for Life at the St. Martin’s Pavilion in Lacey at 9:30am. Archbishop Sartain will preside. Following the Mass, Fr Ed and friends will hike from St. Martin’s, time-permitting, to the capitol steps for the March for Life at noon. Since it is a five-mile walk, we may need to drive half-way to make the March on time. Details will be given on site after the Mass. The March itself is an important witness to our legislators of the value and sacredness of life. If the right to life is not respected, all other rights become moot.

A Few Good Men
Terrific Tuesdays is in need of a few good men to provide hospitality for our suppers. Terrific Tuesday Meals is an evangelical ministry that began in June 2010 and has been going strong ever since. Each Tuesday we feed over 100 guests with the help of volunteers from St. Stephen, First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and New Beginnings Christian Fellowship. St. Stephen the Martyr is the host site for these meals every other month and we would like to increase our male involvement from the parish during our host months. The majority of our homeless are men, who, in addition to a nutritious meal, benefit from the fellowship offered at Terrific Tuesdays. We encourage Table Hosts to sit with our guests at the meal. In addition to fellowship, we would like to increase an authoritative presence on our Church grounds.  This is an opportunity to walk the talk and follow Christ's words: 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' ~ Matthew 25:31. If you would be interested in helping out with Terrific Tuesday Meals please contact us at Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From January 8th, 2012 Bulletin)


When the king of heaven was born, the heavens knew that he was God because they immediately sent forth a star; the sea knew him because it allowed him to walk upon it; the earth knew him because it trembled when he died; the sun knew him because it hid the rays of its light. 

St Gregory the Great

What has been revealed to us through this Christmas Season? We have one more day left as our Season ends Monday, January 10th with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. What graces have you received? Our Gospel last week speaks of Mary at the manger keeping "…all of these things, reflecting on them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) When did you feel most alive during the past few weeks? This can tell us how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives.

Even as I write this I can think of a grace I received in the last few minutes. There is a short Internet piece that a friend shared that I found inspiring. I write this on the Optional Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus, a new feast here in the United States, but celebrated for centuries in Italy. This tender clip culminates in the most powerful, healing name one could hear or say.

To the City and the World

Every year on Christmas Day the Pope gives an address that summarizes his intentions for both the City of Rome, of which he is the Bishop, as well as the world, for which he is Pope, the Patriarch of all the Churches. In it he usually focuses especially on those situations in the world where there is great suffering. Here is the tail end of this year’s Urbi et Orbi Message. The full text can be found at:

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: "Come to save us!" Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.
May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizensDear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: "Veni ad salvandum nos!"(Come to save us!)

- Pope Benedict XVI


Thanks to all who gave me presents and cards for Christmas. I'm always humbled by people's generosity. If I'm not able to get a thank you to you personally, please accept my gratitude for all you do for me and the parish. May you have the happiest year yet in 2012.

- Yours in Christ, Fr Ed