“Like a sudden breaking storm, the coronavirus crisis has caught us all by surprise, abruptly changing on a global level our personal, public, family and working lives. This dramatic situation highlights the vulnerable nature of our human condition, limited as it is by time and contingency. It reminds us that we have forgotten or simply delayed attending to some of the key issues in life. It is making us evaluate what is really important and necessary, and what is of secondary or only superficial importance. The crisis has shown us that, especially in times of need, we depend on our solidarity with others. In a new way, it is inviting us to place our lives at the service of others. It should make us aware of global injustice and wake us up to the cry of the poor and of our gravely diseased planet.” — Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

 

For Thanksgiving Weekend 2012, my Seminary Brothers, now Father Ivan Olmo of Orlando and Father  Michael Fragoso of Metuchen, and I visited Maryknoll in New York.

 

Our purpose was to visit Father Larry Murphy who then was well into his nineties… and is now well over a 100…an Incredible Priest and with a Lifetime of Incredible Ministry!

 

The weekend was filled with great joy as we visited with a number of the retired Maryknoll Priests at the facility that was once their Seminary and is now their Retirement Center. Their stories were filled with adventure and fulfillment.

 

We prayed at the Tombs of the Founders, we Contemplated the Missions at the Commisioning Bell, and we looked over the Hudson River at a World in Need of  Evangelization.

 

One of the Memorable Moments of that weekend for me was to Pray at the Grave of Bishop James Walsh who was imprisoned in China from 1958 to 1970. As a Grade School student at  Presentation of Our Lady in Barnum, I read HIS STORY in the Catholic Comic Book, Treasure Chest. Because we were in the Cold War at the time, had Civil Defense Drills, heard the Defense Siren tests from atop our school, and received instructions on building a Civil Defense Shelter in your Basement, HIS STORY had great relevance.

 

That Thanksgiving Visit rekindled my interest in the great work of the Maryknoll Priests, Brothers and Sisters. I want to share with you two Pandemic Prayers by Father Joseph Venerosi, M.M. as we celebrate perhaps the most Extraordinary Thanksgiving of Our Lifetime.

 

We pray…

 

+Save us, Savior of the world!

Let your mercy cover the earth

as sunlight fills the skies.

 

May these days of disease,

uncertainty and fear

never overshadow Your call to be

our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

 

Keep us safe, O Lord, not only from physical illness and danger

but also from spiritual sickness

of hatred, envy, greed and apathy.

 

Grant that this time of testing

teaches us to appreciate our health,

our faith, our friends and family,

but most of all, our life.

 

Into Your most merciful hands

we commend the souls of the dead

and beg Your blessing on the sick.

 

Open our hearts to Your

love and forgiveness

and our eyes to Your divine image

in all peoples at all times.

 

May we never tire of serving You.

 

Amen.

 

Let us pray…

 

+We give You thanks and praise,

O God of times and seasons,

but especially during these difficult times when disease and death have

threatened the whole world with suffering.

 

Though separated from one another

You remain near to all.

 

While uncertain as to what

the future may bring

we find comfort in knowing

You hold all things in Your hand.

 

May this be a time of purification

and penance that we might

number our days aright and

find wisdom to walk in Your ways.

 

Grant that we never again take

our life, health, breath, food or freedom for granted.

 

Bless us through our friends and families and may this food and Your grace

give us strength and courage to follow

You more faithfully through Christ our Lord.

 

Amen.

 

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“Prayer is the rudder that guides Jesus’ course. Prayer is first of all an encounter with God. The problems of everyday life, then, do not become obstacles, but appeals from God Himself to listen  to and encounter those who are in front of us. Secondly, Jesus teaches us that prayer is an art that must be practiced with insistence. Thirdly, Jesus’ prayer is always solitary. Every person needs a space for him- or herself, to be able to cultivate the inner life, where actions find meaning. Finally, prayer as taught by Jesus is the place where we find that everything comes from God and returns to Him. Peace and joy is what we will find if we follow Jesus’ example of prayer.” — Pope Francis
FROM YOUR PASTOR 

Is your Prayer Life…Second Nature…or A Struggle?

 

Because Jesus is One With His Heavenly Father,  He wants to be One With Us.

 

And perhaps we accomplish this through Our Prayer Life. 

 

For some, FORMAL PRAYER becomes hypnotic and is ultimately discarded.

 

For some, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER makes Jesus part of every moment of every day. 

 

Jesus began every act of His Ministry with Prayer. Through Prayer, He proved that Nothing is Impossible With God. 

 

For You and Me, Prayer can move us through the Lived Experience of Daily Life…powered by Faith, driven by Trust, and encased in Gratitude. 

 

That PRAYER can be reduced to SEVEN important, if not challenging, WORDS…I Love You, I’m Sorry, Thank You…repeated throughout the day…

 

How do we do this?

 

>When we wake up, we THANK Jesus for the day. We offer all of our joys, works, sufferings, and hopes of that day known only to Him. 

 

>Then, tell him what you need to do that day…NOT THE OUTCOMES JUST THE TASKS…that’s where FAITH comes in. 

 

>As you go through the day, you live the list. BUT WITH EACH TASK, whether it requires your brain or your brawn, ASK JESUS HOW TO DO IT ..that’s TRUST IN HIS PREFERRED OUTCOME.. not yours. 

 

>With each completed job or sub task, THANK HIM…for completing the Scoping Memo, Painting the Living Room, or Finding a Parking Space. Jesus not only wants to be PART OF ALL YOU DO, He wants to THANK HIS HEAVENLY FATHER for the talents GOD HAS GIVEN YOU to do each of these activities. 

 

>At the end of the day, in your EXAMEN: Ask Jesus To Forgive You for the ways in which you  hurt His Heavenly Father and  Others during that day; Review with Jesus all of the major events of the day;

Thank Him For The Outcomes even if they are incomplete; Notice The People And Events And Circumstances that HE USED to bring about those outcomes; and Ask Him for the GRACE TO ENDURE HIS RESOLUTIONS of Your Issues…that’s GRATITUDE.

>Tell Jesus what you know to be left Unfinished For Tomorrow, and Ask Jesus to Guide You in FAITH and TRUST.

>Then, go to Sleep!

Over time, this becomes the most CONSUMING WAY to grow in Relationship with Jesus Christ. He becomes part of Everything You Do and Everything You Are. HE IS ANYWAY…SO, CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER WILL ALLOW YOU TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS REALITY!

THIS SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS AS PRAYER THROUGHOUT THE DAY REMINDS YOU THAT JESUS IS PASSING THROUGH YOUR LIFE 24/7…You are NEVER alone…whether you acknowledge it or not!

 

REMEMBER, SLEEP-WALKING through the day or BENIGN ACCEPTANCE, with No Thank You, No Apology, No Unconditional Love regardless of the outcome…IS NOT PRAYER!

 

The JOY AND PEACE OF CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER FULFILLS…even when the outcome is difficult. 

 

Through this Lived Experience of Divine Intervention in Every Day Life, Prayer does become… SECOND NATURE…

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“Choose purity, meekness and mercy while entrusting ourselves to the Lord and dedicating ourselves to justice and peace….hope for God’s comfort. The meek…know how to control themselves…leave space for the other, they listen to the other, respect the other’s way of living, his or her needs and requests. They do not intend to overwhelm or diminish the other. They do not want to dominate or impose their ideas or interests to the detriment of others. Meekness is the way to go forward with humility and mercy. This means going against the current in respect to this world’s mentality, in respect to the culture of possessing, of meaningless fun, of arrogance against the weakest. The personal and universal vocation to holiness…proposes…that each person walks in a unique and unrepeatable way, according to the ‘imagination’ of the Holy Spirit.” — Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR 

What Virtues DO YOU CARRY as you walk on YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY?

Jesus taught us the Our Father with three deliberate Petitions:
>First to GIVE US — The World — what we need for Physical and Spiritual Nourishment.
>Second to FORGIVE US — You and Me — for our Sins Against God and Others.
>Third to GIVE FOREGIVENESS — Friend and Foe — to Those Who Hurt Us.
Central to each of these is LOVE — For God and For Others…AND OURSELVES.
But why is this SO HARD?
Maybe it is because we FAIL TO REMEMBER  that Jesus Loves You and Jesus Forgives You. REALLY! And, more importantly, perhaps YOU HAVE NOT LEARNED to Accept That Forgiveness.
 
THE ANSWER? Simply LOVE JESUS and let Him WORK WITH YOU and WORK THROUGH YOU…to Give Praise To God and to Love Others…JESUS WILL DO THE REST!
 
The FAILURE NOT ONLY TO RECOGNIZE BUT TO LIVE THIS REALITY denies God’s LOVE and MERCY FOR YOU…robs YOU of the JOY as a Beloved Child of God…and prevents YOU from being CHRIST TO OTHERS. 
 
So, HOW DO WE CHANGE? 
 
Perhaps to BE CHRIST, we have to LEARN CHRIST…
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
LEARNING CHRIST
Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of life — in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. 
Let me put myself aside, to think of the happiness of others, to hide my little pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them. 
Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may make me patient, not irritable. That it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow, haughty and overbearing. 
May no one be less good for having come within my influence. No one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow traveler in our journey toward Eternal Life. 
As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time, a word of love to Thee. 
May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity.

Amen.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Maybe we don’t LEARN CHRIST because we are carrying MORE THAN JESUS WANTS US TO CARRY…more Baggage and less Virtue…Spiritually and Emotionally…
Maybe we have to just LET GO…and TRUST…AND LOVE…
+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and You will love your neighbor as yourself. Using these two fundamental precepts, Jesus establishes two essential cornerstones for believers of all times. The first is that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to an anxious and forced obedience, but must have love as its principle. The second is that love must tend together and inseparably towards God and neighbor. This is one of Jesus’ primary innovations and it helps us understand that what is not expressed in love of neighbor is not true love of God; and, likewise, what is not drawn from one’s relationship with God is not true love of neighbor. Love for God is expressed above all in prayer, particularly in adoration. And love for neighbor, which is also called fraternal charity, consists in closeness, listening, sharing, caring for others. The verification of our journey of conversion and holiness is always in the love of our neighbor. As long as there is a brother or sister to whom we close our hearts, we will still be far from being disciples as Jesus asks of us.”  — Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

 

How do YOU LIVE the Greatest Commandment?

The LIFE OF JESUS defines the answer to this question.

In asking Jesus to articulate the Greatest Commandment, the Pharisees are not asking Him to choose among ten… they are asking him to choose among the 613 Commandments  in the Torah and pick the most important.

 

Jesus does so with a simply complex answer…He exhorts them to  LOVE GOD and to LOVE THEIR NEIGHBOR.

 

Common to both these commandments…is LOVE.

 

Unlike the Pharisees who basically instructed the people to do as they say and not as they do, Jesus tells us to DO AS HE DOES…and that becomes an enormous command. Why? Because in His death on the Cross, he exhibited the greatest LOVE there is — to lay down one’s life for another…for you and for me…

 

Jesus knew well the words of Psalm 18, ‘I love you, O Lord’…directing our first act of LOVE to God.

 

Jesus knew well the words from Exodus as God spoke to the Ancient Israelites…’for I am compassionate’…directing our second act of LOVE to others.

 

And Paul learned from Jesus as he reminds the Thessalonians that they become Holy when they become Imitators of Jesus.

 

So what is LOVE? Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that LOVE IS TO WILL THE GOOD OF ANOTHER. But that is NOT YOUR GOOD for them, it is the GOOD THAT GOD HAS DESIGNED  for them.

 

Holy Scripture reminds us that LOVE is not easy… it is a CHALLENGE … it is not a sentiment or emotion… it is a DECISION. Why? Because we are called to LOVE BAD PEOPLE TOO — criminals, enemies, critics, those who drive us crazy, and those who are mean —  because we desire that they repent and follow God’s perfect plan for their life. That is TOUGH LOVE…not shown TO US…but required OF US.

 

And that is why the PORTRAIT  OF LOVE that Jesus PAINTS FROM THE CROSS becomes the example for us to follow…the ULTIMATE  PAIN for the ULTIMATE GOOD.

 

The LOVE that Jesus exudes from the Cross reminds us that WE ARE LOVABLE…that includes the stranger and the friend.

 

The LOVE that Jesus exudes from the Cross exhorts us TO LOVE AS HE LOVES… that includes those who harm us as well as those who revere us.

 

The LOVE that Jesus exudes from the Cross reminds us that LOVE INCLUDES SUFFERING…that includes a personal cost to us as we replace our pride with humility in the service of others.

 

So, how do WE LOVE  as JESUS LOVES in Service to God and in Service to Others?  WE LOVE BY DEED, BY WORD,  AND BY PRAYER.

 

>We stand up for Moral Principles in the Public Square – – at work, at school, in politics, or at home.

 

> We share our Religious Values with Others — not to shame them but to plant seeds of faith.

 

> We respond to the Moral Doubts found in the Moral and Ethical Decisions of Daily Life —  by sharing the Christian point of view as advice and counsel…not admonition.

 

> We minister to those who are in Sorrow or Distress – – by being with and listening to the person in need.

 

>  We bear Wrongs to Us and Others — by seeking basic human rights and dignity and justice while and praying for our transgressors.

 

>   We forgive Mental and Spiritual Offenses – – by allowing forgiveness to replace anger.

 

>  We pray for the Living and the Dead — by remembering them while fostering their and our healing.

 

>  We care for Those in Need – – by using our time, talent  and treasure as a doer of mercy.

 

>  We link the Material with the Spiritual – – by giving others the material goods they need for daily survival along with a prayer for their survival.

 

>  We assist those who must Leave Their Home or Find a Home — by providing shelter, companionship, and help.

 

>  We seek those who are alone or isolated or imprisoned – – by  visits, contacts, or assistance.

 

>  We visit those who are Confined by Choice or Necessity or Illness — by giving our most precious commodity…which is our time.

 

> We care for those who Mourn – – by our expression of sympathy, our presence, or the provision of necessities as they grieve.

 

So, what is the bottom line?…It is SIMPLY COMPLEX…

 

We love God by being Christ to others…through HIS LOVE…

 

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“If we want to find Jesus, we have to overcome our fear of taking risks, our self-satisfaction and our indolent refusal to ask anything more of life…We need to take risks… in discovering his tenderness and love, we rediscover ourselves.”— Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

Why do we FEAR taking RISKS in our SPIRITUAL LIFE?

Our FEAR can be based on EXPECTATIONS … those we have OF OURSELF or those others have OF US. Either way, these EXPECTATIONS shape our RESPONSE to Spiritual Risks…our ability to SAY YES TO THE UNKNOWN.

Our FEAR can be based on a LACK OF BALANCE in our life between what is OF GOD and what is OF THE WORLD.  The KNOWN OF THE PRESENT and What I Have can provide more comfort than the UNKNOWN OF THE FUTURE and What I Can Achieve.

Our FEAR can be based on the PRESENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL in our life. An Ill-formed Conscience or Lack of Spiritual Clarity can RESULT IN BAD CHOICES NOW instead of TOUGH CHOICES FOR THE FUTURE.

It is the TENDER LOVE OF JESUS active IN OUR HEART that  will determine the RISKS  and their OUTCOMES in our Spiritual Life…and determine our ability to ask for MORE OF LIFE!

But the BOTTOM LINE is STARK AND REAL —  the Kingdom of Heaven is WORTH EVERYTHING and DEMANDS EVERYTHING.

>What am I  willing to give up?

>What is holding me back?

>What is the basis of my fear?

For some it will be WHAT THE WORLD  WILL SAY about the path they choose. For some it will be THEIR PRIDE since what they have defines who they are.

But in most cases, the FEAR is driven by one simple issue…taking RISKS may induce a FEAR OF WHAT WE MAY BECOME!

In our Spiritual Life, TRUE WISDOM is TO LOVE GOD, to have an UNDERSTANDING HEART, and to EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

Our ABILITY TO CHANGE is based on the following questions:

>How do we LOVE?

>How do we FORGIVE?

>How do we HELP OTHERS?

>How do we ENCOURAGE THE OPPRESSED?

>How do we ENDURE OUR TRIALS?

Your answers will determine WHAT YOU WILL BECOME.

OUR FAITH lies in the WISDOM to take RISKS  in This Life for our Eternal Life. OUR HOPE lies in God’s GRACE to help us ENDURE THE PRICE of the Risks. OUR LOVE lies in the TENDER AND LOVING HEART OF JESUS where we find TRUTH AND FREEDOM…

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“The cross is the badge that shows who we are: our speaking, thinking, looking, working is under the sign of the cross, that is under the sign of the love of Jesus to the end. …Receive the sign of the cross on your ears to hear the voice of the Lord”; “On the eyes to see the splendor of the face of God”; “On the mouth, to answer the word of God”; “On the chest, because Christ dwells through faith in your hearts”; “On the shoulders, to support the gentle yoke of Christ. – Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

This Weekend we welcome our RCIA SISTERS AND BROTHERS into the full community of the CATHOLIC CHURCH…WELCOME HOME!

Today, YOU become a Disciple of Jesus Christ!

And I want to thank Lauren Scheller, our Faith Formation Coordinator, your Sponsors, your Family, and your Friends whose lives bear witness to their faith, and why they are Catholics.

Saint Paul teaches that to be a Christian means to live in a radically different way than the way offered by the secular society that surrounds us. Being a Christian means acquiring a new mind and heart—the mind and heart of Jesus Christ —as we journey toward God’s Kingdom.

Over the last nine months, through a very difficult time in our World, together we have  encountered Jesus through Sacred Scripture, immersion into the Tradition of the Catholic Christian community, and the  discovery of the Risen Jesus in the Seven Sacraments. This beautiful ancient Rite that we experience today…in its original order – BAPTISM CONFIRMATION EUCHARIST… is a true conversion, a transformation…from being of the world to being of God…the culmination of your study, exploration, faith-sharing, and faith formation.

And it began with YOU… through the movement of the Holy Spirit. YOU came here seeking more in your Spiritual Journey. Then YOU were accepted into the Worshiping Community. Then YOU spent time learning and being formed in the Traditions and Doctrine of the Catholic Church. Then YOU were chosen to receive the Sacraments of Initiation.

And now YOU, with YOUR NEW CHURCH FAMILY, will continue to explore the deep mystery of our Faith and help build the reign of God on Earth as INTENTIONAL DISCIPLES!

PRAISE GOD!

Today is NOT THE END of your Journey, but the BEGINNING OF A LIFETIME JOURNEY. The same SPIRIT that brought YOU here nine months ago is now alive in you…bring YOU to the next level — a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST…BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY…a relationship with the One who knew YOU from the Beginning of Time…the One who wants YOU to spend eternity with HIS HEAVENLY FATHER.

TODAY, THE HOLY TRINITY IS ALIVE IN YOU!

But this Journey continues to unfold…through the Holy Spirit…

That is why ALL we do begins with the Sign of the Cross.

In BAPTISM, YOU and I are marked with the Cross — the one Jesus carried and the personal Cross he asks each of us to carry — as the outward sign of the Christian way of facing life.

But this Journey continues to unfold…through the Holy Spirit…

It is the Sacrament of Reconciliation that determines the efficacy of all the other Sacraments in your life. The State of Grace in your Soul greets each Sacrament. If your Soul is clouded with sin, we diminish the Spiritual Nourishment God wants to give us. GRACE BUILDS UPON GRACE.

But this Journey continues to unfold…through the Holy Spirit…

In CONFIRMATION, it is the Holy Spirit who brings to fulfillment in YOU the FRUITS AND GIFTS necessary for the JOURNEY OF YOUR LIFE. In this Sacrament, YOU are anointed with the Holy Spirit who keeps YOU connected to Jesus and makes YOU want to be like him as you accept the MISSION GOD PLANNED FOR YOUR LIFE FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME…allowing Him to work WITH YOU and THROUGH YOU…for yourself and others.

But this Journey continues to unfold…through the Holy Spirit…

In the EUCHARIST, we experience the SOURCE AND SUMMIT of Our Faith. The REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS in the Eucharist satisfies the deepest desires of our hearts for the One who loves us, for the One who saved us, for the One who intercedes for us, and for the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.

But this Journey continues to unfold…through the Holy Spirit…

This is YOU – our RCIA Sisters and Brothers, and the Church Families of The Cathedral Basilica and St Elizabeth, who are beloved Children of God, chosen for Christ, living in God’s Mercy, reflected in his Love — the Body and Blood of his Son in the Eucharist, to give YOU the Spiritual Nourishment to be his DISCIPLE in your everyday life…

As we accompany each other on the path that leads to God’s Glory…

LIVE IT!

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“Today we celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day. This is an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family. As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst…We must grow in awareness of caring for our common home…We are fashioned from the earth, and fruit of the earth sustains our life…Thus we live in this common home as one human family in biodiversity with God’s other creatures…we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us…How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and with the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship…harmony is a work of the Holy Spirit…In today’s celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          — Pope Francis

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

Last month, the Holy Father commemorated the 5th Anniversary of his Encyclical Laudato Si and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

As he commemorates these milestones, it is important to remember that the respect for the Created Environment is part of Catholic Social Doctrine.  “The ecological question must not be faced solely because of the frightening prospects that environmental destruction represents; rather it must above all become a strong motivation for an authentic solidarity of worldwide dimensions (No. 486). Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good, destined for all (No. 466).”

The comments and actions of Pope Francis have been part of the Fabric of the Papacy since Earth Day 1970…

Saint Pope Paul VI.  “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation. Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.” (Octogesima Adveniens, No. 21)

Saint Pope John Paul II. “The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.” (World Day of Peace 1990, No.7)

Pope Benedict XVI.  “In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an ‘ecological crisis’ and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the ‘urgent moral need for a new solidarity.’ His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees?’ Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources?” (World Day of Peace 2010, No. 4)

Pope Francis. The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. As these gases build up in the atmosphere, they hamper the escape of heat produced by sunlight at the earth’s surface. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.” (Laudato Si, No 23)

US Conference of Bishops. “At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both ‘the human environment’ and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God’s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. In that spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God for the wonders of creation, we Catholic bishops call for a civil dialogue and prudent and constructive action to protect God’s precious gift of the earth’s atmosphere with a sense of genuine solidarity and justice for all God’s children.” (Global Climate Change A Plea for Dialogue Prudence and the Common Good 2001)

Respect for the Created Environment IS ESSENTIAL to the Human Dignityof everyone…in 1970…in 2015…and in 2020…

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

“The problem is not that we have doubts and fears. The problem is when they condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even — without realizing it — racist. In this way, fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself; it deprives me of an opportunity to encounter the Lord.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             — Pope Francis 

 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

Two weeks ago, I offered a Reflection on a General Confession On The Sin of Racism. My Focus was the Five Chapters of my personal life – – – Chapter One: Schools, Chapter Two: Professional Life, Chapter Three: Community and Social Life, Chapter Four: Seminary and Catholic Priest, Chapter Five: Use of My Time, Talent, and Treasure to Build and Not Divide.

That Reflection is on the social media of both of our Churches if you would like to look at it. It will  help frame today’s Five Chapters.

Why did I write it? I wrote it because of a song that we used to sing at Presentation of Our Lady Grade School during the racial unrest of the late 60s —  ‘Let there be peace on Earth and let it  begin with me.’

Since that time, we had a very informative discussion in the Julia Greeley Guild Zoom Meeting last week. In that meeting, Mary Leisring — the Coordinator of the Guild, an employee of the Cathedral, and former Director of the Archdiocese Black Catholics Office — made the comment that her phrase is — Black Lives Have Not Always Mattered.

Mary reflected on that concept as it related to her life and career. As a Priest, she has been a great ground for me in Pastoral Counseling through her patience, wisdom, and love. And it was she, and the other Guild members last year, who told me about the reality of The Negro Motorist Green-Book —  Victor Hugo Green’s guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans produced annually from 1936 to 1966. I never thought that my Beloved Denver would need such a guide!

At that meeting, Dustin Caldwell, a member of the Guild and an Altar Server here at the Cathedral Basilica, said that when he was interviewed by the Denver Catholic, he chose to focus on his faith and his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus who will ultimately resolve these racial divides. But what he shared with us was HIS BACKSTORY. As a Young Black Man, he would get pulled over by the police for no apparent reason. When he would show them his Pilot’s License, it changed the story! That affected me deeply because Dustin is one of the finest Young Catholic Men that I have met in my life.

Mary and Dustin’s conversations made a difference to me in how I look at the current situation…how I process everyone’s Backstory…and that their Black Lives Matter in my life today.

Their thoughts and those of many others are in this week’s issue of Denver Catholic. I encourage you to read it.

After reading the Issue myself, it brought me to the NEXT QUESTION FOR ME: WHAT BLACK LIVES MATTER IN MY LIFE?  And five more Chapters unfolded…

>Chapter 6: Presentation of Our Lady Church. For 88 of its 108 years, a member of my family has been a Parishioner at Presentation Church in West Denver. It was the Church of my Baptism, First Confession, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation. And for 50 years in the 20th Century, my Dad, Ted, and my Uncle Frank were members of the Improved Order of Redmen founded at the time of the Revolutionary War. Ironically, in November 1912, the First Mass for the newly formed Presentation of Our Lady Church was celebrated at Redmond Hall near 8th in Knox Court. The Lodge was an organization of white men and a women’s auxiliary until that restriction was dropped the 1970. Its foundation is Liberty, the Flag, Community, and Fraternity. It’s an irony that a Catholic Church in Denver celebrated its First Mass in the Lodge Hall of such an organization. But my Dad and my Uncle (and the many parishioners who were members) were not racists, but two of the finest men I have ever met in my life. They joined the Redmen because there was a Hall in every mining town in Colorado where they lived growing up. They supported their community work serving the developmentally disabled and physically and mentally challenged communities in Denver. What shaped them, Presentation Parish, and me was not ancient membership criteria, but the spirit of service and the knowledge that Black Lives Matter in their service.

>Chapter 7: Newlon and Perry Schools in Barnum. I attended Preschool at Newlon Elementary School and Kindergarten – 3rd Grade at Perry School. (Yes, my classmate at Perry School was Duane Chapman – – Dog the Bounty Hunter!) In Preschool I met a woman by the name of Mrs Marie Greenwood. She was maybe one of the first Black women I met at four years old. My Mom, Gladys, and her best friend Pat Kreps, were the leadership of the PTA. Mrs. Greenwood was the first black teacher to receive tenure in Denver Public Schools. She was Called Home last November at age 106. She was a pioneer of integration in Denver, going to work in all-white Newlon School in 1955. She made an impression on me because of her kindness, her ever present smile, and her desire for me to be a good learner…she loved kids! Now here, once again, is the culture irony. In 3rd Grade I was the Student Body President at Newlon’s affiliate school, Perry School — the last red brick two room schoolhouse in Denver. It was the 50th Anniversary of Perry School in 1961. I accepted the Colorado State Flag from the Daughters of Colorado. They were originally affiliated with the Sons of Colorado organization (which 100 years ago was racially restricted to white men). It is ironic that the first tenured Black Woman in the Denver Public School System and a restricted pioneer heritage organization were both present in this school campus.  The Black Life that Mattered in shaping my early years was Mrs. Greenwood.

>Chapter 8: Big Sisters of Colorado. As you can guess by now, I grew up in a lower middle-class neighborhood in West Denver.  Of the 18 houses in my block on Quitman Street in Barnum, we had 11 Anglo, 5 Hispanic, one Native American, and one Austrian family. This diversity was important to my culturalization in the late 60s. After being in the Denver Chamber of Commerce Leadership Denver Program in 1980, I was asked to be on the Board of Big Sisters of Colorado in 1985. My old neighborhood helped me to understand the importance of the mentoring work of Big Sisters. Over time I chaired the Board and three of their major fundraisers. There were many Denver Angels who introduced this Kid from Barnum to the Denver funding community. One such couple was Dr Reginald and Faye Washington. Reggie is a prominent Black heart surgeon, and Faye is the consummate volunteer community leader. I still see his picture regularly and fondly at PSL Hospital. They, along with some other wonderful women leaders who are well connected in Denver, taught me how to conduct myself and move through the funding community in Denver. These Black Lives Mattered in shaping me as a compassionate member of a Diverse Denver Community.

>Chapter 9: The Salvation Army. I have been a member of The Salvation Army board since 1985 and was an officer for 11 years. During that time, I met well-known Denver Boxer Ron Lyle. He coached kids in the Cox-Lyle Boxing Program at the Salvation Army Red Shield Center in the Whittier-Five Points neighborhood, near where he grew up, and where the Senior Center at Red Shield is named after my parents, Gladys and Ted. Ron taught me something about how to work with young people…a key to my ministry to Young Adults as a priest 15 years later! This Black Life showed me that his rich, sometimes good and sometimes bad, life history, a compassionate heart, physical and mental discipline, and basic Christian Hope can change someone’s life.

The other iconic stalwart for me at that time was Mayor Wellington Webb. While we had been professional colleagues during the Lamm Administration, it was as Mayor that he responded EVERY YEAR to my call to assist The Salvation Army Annual Kettle Kickoff. He attended the Red Shield Center growing up — and he never forgot! When I lead the Prayer in the House of Representatives for the Memorial Service of my friend Ruben Valdez in January, the Mayor was there. It gave me the opportunity to thank him once again. This Black Life taught me the importance of loyalty and community service by witnessing that value to me.

>Chapter 10: Broadway. Over 20 years ago I met a Black Actor, Russ Costen, at Mother of God Church. Here in Denver, he was a playwright and a Broadway and Denver Actor. When I arrived at the Cathedral he attended here periodically. I asked THE VOICE as I called him at Mother of God, to be a Lector. Eventually as a regular attendee of the Sunday Concerts and Friday Night at the Movies, he would relate the stories of many of the actors in those movies who he knew and with whom he performed. (And, yes, Russ was in the movie HAIR!) Russ had a voice that was magnificent, and he mesmerized the Congregation. We were trusted friends. Russ was inducted into the Chappell Players Hall of Fame, his Alma Mater, in 2016 for his Commitment and Achievement. He often focused on the Road Not Taken and what that life might have been versus the life he developed in Denver. As he grew older, he realized the fleeting relationships of one world and the enduring values of another. He was Called Home two years ago last October. I was the last person to visit him…I miss him greatly…we had great fun! What he taught me was that life has its up’s and down’s… but what matters are the friends you make along the way. This Black Life Mattered in adding perspective to my priestly life.

Relationships in our life are a Gift From God…a Gift for which we should always say THANK YOU! And through Him the right people come into our life at the right time for the Virtue we Need to Learn, the Job we Need to Do, or the Person we Need to Become.

For me these eight BLACK LIVES MATTERED in my life and have helped me to this place and to this moment. More importantly, it was members of an often-Undervalued Denver Community who taught me how to Embrace A Total Community…

For those who have been Called Home, may God Bless Them in Abundance for their impact on my life. And for those who may become aware of this Reflection someday, thank you for all the Good YOU DID IN MY LIFE.

What Black Lives Matter in Your Life? You just may not have to look too far…if you open your eyes and your heart…

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…

Servant of God, Julia Greeley, pray for us!

+May God Bless You and Keep You+

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Every family needs a father. The first need is this: that a father be present in a family. That he be close to his wife, sharing everything—joy and sorrow, hope and hardship. And that he be close to his children as they grow—when they play and when they strive, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they are talkative and when they are silent, when they are daring and when they are afraid, when they take a wrong step, and when they find their path again: a father who is always present. To say ‘present’ is not to say ‘controlling.’ Fathers who are too controlling stifle the spirit of their children; they don’t let them develop. Fathers must be patient. A good father knows how to wait, and he knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself…All of this is, of course, not easy, so Fathers need God. Without the grace that comes from the Father who is in Heaven, fathers lose courage and give up. Children need to find a father waiting for them when they come home after failing. They will do everything not to admit it, not to show it, but they need it. And not to find it opens wounds in them that are difficult to heal. Fathers are the irreplaceable guardians and mediators of faith through their goodness, justice, and protection.”

                                                                                                                                                 — Pope Francis

FROM YOUR PASTOR 

What Makes Families Work?

Pope Francis gives us good advice…based in the Virtues of Fatherhood.

Today’s Fathers are as varied as the Families they lead — biological, adopted, foster care, relatives raising grandchildren or siblings, as well as the single parent family.

And some of us are Spiritual Fathers…

Father Coomes SJ provides some complementary advice to Pope Francis on Fatherhood, Family, and Our Church…

The parent, or head of the household or Family, is called upon to be a good provider. The successful Family, regardless of its configuration, should be grounded in Harmony, Mutual Respect, Peace, and Unconditional Love.

The Father figure, again in any of the above configurations, is to Lead that Family with a Humility and Trust emanating from a God-centered Life. To make the monumental challenges of Family life livable, the need for Security, for True Love, and for Faithfulness within the Family is essential to making Families work. 

That’s the HUMAN DIMENSION…

But there is a DIVINE DIMENSION…

Father Coomes solemnly reminds us that Parents will be held Accountable to God for the Souls of their Children, and that a Family CENTERED IN GOD endures their trials through HIS GRACE. That is why a Sacramental Marriage has JESUS AT ITS CENTER.

So, on this FATHER’S DAY, the father figure of YOUR FAMILY or YOUR HOUSEHOLD should Dedicate their Fatherhood to Saint Joseph, and Dedicate Their Children to the Blessed Mother as Their Protectress.

This DIVINE INTERVENTION IS ESSENTIAL TO THE HUMAN REALITY OF THIS CULTURE AND THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES. 

Fatherhood is a two way street…it brings with it the enormous Challenges of Endurance and Prudence…and an Obligation to Children.

Fathers must Deserve the Honor of their Children…through the Correction, Companionship, and Guidance they provide. The Virtues of Courage, Temperance, Honesty, Dependability, and Dedication are essential to carry out the responsibilities of Fatherhood in FAITH AND LOVE. The Silence of Disinterest can wound your child. And Words Said in Anger can NEVER be taken back.

As a Spiritual Father, sometimes I see something different…

Not every child experiences a Grace-filled Family, or the Idyllic Father of Saint Joseph or Pope Francis or Father Coomes.

Addictions, Career, Infidelity, Neglect, and Emotional Absenteeism can destroy a Marriage and Family…and emotionally, spiritually, physically, or psychologically Devastate a Child. Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Domestic Violence is REAL in these uncertain times. And the ISOLATION of COVID-19 is leading some Young Adults, some in these domestic circumstances as well, to contemplate SUICIDE.

Or maybe YOU WERE THE FATHER FIGURE to your younger brothers and sisters because of a Dysfunctional Family, a Refugee Family, or a Family Divided by Immigration.

On weekends such as this,  WE PRAY FOR YOU in three ways.

First, we pray for your earthly Father for their healing, for the repose of their soul, or for the others who may have experienced the same hurt as You.

Second, we pray for You as an  Abused Child, for your healing, and for your deliverance from what you experienced so you do not pass it on in the Fatherhood of Your Life.

Third, we pray in Thanksgiving to God for your LOVE to intervene in the life of your siblings or grandchildren and raise them with the TRUE LOVE of a Father.

God’s Providence in the Challenges of Parenthood may be difficult to comprehend. But His Providence is always a PROVIDENCE OF LOVE. When God Entrusts a Child to their Parents or someone in that Role, He bestows a DIVINE TRUST that is Very Dear to Him as they undertake a Special Work of Love in His Name.

Fathers, or Those in This Role, please entrust YOUR FAMILY AS IT IS EXPRESSED IN YOUR LIFE to the HOLY FAMILY and to the HOLY TRINITY.

May the Love of Mary, the Responsibility of Joseph, and the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit Place in Your Heart the Love, Guidance and Endurance to be the Light of Christ to THOSE WHO CALL YOU FATHER…

+MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU+

“Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost.”

                                 — Pope Francis 

FROM YOUR PASTOR

The tragic events of the last several weeks have put into POIGNANT CLARITY FOR ME the principles of Catholic Social Doctrine, the Principles of Our Founding Fathers in Liberty and Justice for All, and the Principles of Inclusion and Equality that should  FORM OUR CONSCIENCE and GUIDE OUR ACTIONS as Intentional Disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Preaching, Teaching, Healing, and Raising from the Dead of Jesus Christ was not based on the color of one’s skin or the country of one’s origin. It was based on one’s Faith in God, one’s Hope of Salvation, and one’s Love of Others.  Jesus sent his Apostles and Disciples to the Ends of the Earth to share the Word of God. JESUS WAS NOT A RACIST…HE EXCLUDED NO ONE. As His Brother, NEITHER SHOULD I.

And often unused Form of Contrition in the Catholic  Church is a General Confession. It involves looking at one’s life and our Sins Against God and Sins Against Others. Perhaps in this tragic time it is important for each of us to MAKE A GENERAL CONFESSION  as it relates to the SIN OF RACISM IN OUR LIFE. 

This Examination of Conscience for the Sin of Racism can be performed for each chapter of Your Life. For me, it would cover Five Chapters: 

>Chapter 1. In my Schools, how did I treat my fellow Black students at Newlon Elementary School,  Perry School, Presentation of Our Lady School, Regis High  School,  the Colorado School of Mines, and the Kennedy School at Harvard? Was I MEAN, INSENSITIVE, WILLFULLY HURTFUL, or INTENTIONALLY DISCRIMINATING? Did I Ridicule or Race-Bait? Did I SEE OTHERS do this and NOT CHALLENGE THEM?

>Chapter 2.  In my 35 year Professional Career, how did I treat Black candidates for jobs, the Black members of my staff, the inclusion of Black members on Boards and Commissions, and the effects of public policy decisions and actions on the Black Community? Were  MY PROFESSIONAL ACTIONS RACIALLY FAIR? Did my Staff and Boards reflect the Diversity of the Population which I Served?

>Chapter 3. In my Community and Social Life, did I PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS OF and PROVIDE SERVICES TO the Black Community in the programs and outreach of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, The Salvation Army, Serra Colorado and Serra USA, and my Parish Council work at Mother of God Church? Does my circle of friends REFLECT THE DIVERSITY of the communities — School, Social Organizations, Church Community, Neighborhood, and Social Events — from which MY FRIENDS are drawn? Do I SUPPORT OR BELONG to organizations that discriminate or have racist undertones? Am I a person who INCLUDES OR EXCLUDES?

> Chapter 4. In my life as a Seminarian and a Catholic Priest in the twelve parishes and missions in Massachusetts and Colorado over the last 10 years, did my Initiatives TRANSCEND RACE AND ETHNICITY? Did my Liturgies include CULTURAL REFERENCES and Prayers for an END TO RACISM AND INEQUALITY? Do I ALLOCATE MY TIME EQUALLY TO ALL regardless of their Religion, the Color of their Skin, or their Political Ideology? Have I included PEOPLE OF COLOR in the PLANNING, ORGANIZING, AND IMPLEMENTATION of Parish Councils, Parish Programs, and Parish Events?

>Chapter 5. Have I used my personal Time, Talent, and Treasure to support those Organizations and Activities that BUILD OR DIVIDE? Have my actions OPENED OR HEALED a Core Wound? Am I a Racial Pharisee, or do I Really Believe that WHAT I SAY AND DO MATTERS?

In all My Chapters, did I follow the Politics of Inclusion or Exclusion. And equally important, have I hurt anyone through Sins of Commission or Omission? Were any actions in these Chapters RACIALLY MOTIVATED?

While My Life is given as the example, the narrative is designed to provide a template to EXAMINE YOUR CONSCIENCE and MAKE A GENERAL CONFESSION  of those areas of Implicit or Explicit Racism in all aspects of Your Life. 

God-created everyone for one purpose — to spend Eternal Life with Him. God-created a Diverse World of Nationalities, Diverse Colors of Skin, Diverse Forms of Governments,  and Diverse Cultures — that often may not look like our own Personal World. 

GOD CREATED THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO SERVE THE ENTIRE WORLD…UNCONDITIONALLY AND WITHOUT RESERVATION. YOU AND I ARE THAT CHURCH!

At its core is the First Principle of Catholic Social Doctrine – – the Dignity of the Human Being…A DIGNITY FREE OF RACISM. The Principles of Catholic Social Doctrine REFLECT DIVERSITY…and REJECT RACISM.

In Confession,  we talk about RESTITUTION. That can take many forms…Compensation for the Past, a Change of Practice in the Present, and a Way of Life in the Future…with a Universal Core that has One Color…LOVE.

For anyone reading this Reflection, who was part of one of My Chapters, and whom I have racially offended, dismissed, or diminished…I APOLOGIZE. 

MY RESTITUTION will be reflected not in Rewriting My Past, but in serving ALL THE PEOPLE that God has placed in my care in My Present with Respect, Inclusion, Compassion, Understanding, and LOVE…by RESETTING THOSE ASPECTS OF MY LIFE that are NOT IN BALANCE.

A NATIONAL CONSCIENCE is formed through the COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSES…You And Me. And if we multiply that by the Population of Denver, the Population of Colorado, or the Population of the United States, we have a NATION in which GEORGE FLOYD DID NOT DIE IN VAIN…AND BLACK LIVES DO MATTER…not just in print…but in MY THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED.

Servant of God Julia Greeley, Pray for Us!

+May God Bless You and Keep You+