Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Have a Blessed Easter Season!

Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted 
what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread
(Lk. 24:34-35)

It has been an amazing few weeks since Easter. So amazing that words won't do it justice. I've instead chosen a few pictures that hopefully share that amazement and joy. Have a blessed week!
The Light of Christ

My parish, Holy Name, Fall River, MA

Easter Morning
My view from the loft

Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, Fall River, MA

St. Joseph/ Divine Mercy

An amazing moment  

Proof the Church is dying out.

A small gathering in Rome. 

St. Gianna, pray for us. 

Our Lady's Altar

Marian Procession

May Crowning
Have a blessed Easter Season

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: The Last Confession of the Vampire Judas Iscariot

Caravaggio - Taking of Christ in the Garden
What if Judas was a Vampire?

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
             I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul and faith

I'll never forget a homily I heard on Spy Wednesday of  Holy Week where the priest asked "What if Judas asked for forgiveness? What if he turned back and went to the cross and accepted Jesus' Mercy? What if he professed faith in the Giver of Life himself and not chosen death instead? We'd now be calling him St. Judas the Penitent instead of a traitor and a thief." 

                                                        And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate

Washed his hands and sealed his fate 

Judas, like us, had two paths to choose from - one easy, one hard. He could choose the tree or the cross. Our faith tells in that no matter what we do, Jesus will forgive us if we are truly sorry and we ask for it. Through the ministry of the Church in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, God will grant us pardon if we are truly sorry, but that's not always the easy choice. To overcome sin, we must swallow our pride, be contrite, and desire to sin no more. Of course we know from the Gospels which path he ultimately chose.

Pleased to meet you,
hope you guess my name!

David Vermont's novel, The Last Confession of the Vampire Judas Iscariot, Judas' story didn't end by hanging from a rope that day in Jerusalem. "He is restored to life by the Devil and made into a vampire apostle. The Devil teaches Judas to manipulate men and history. He becomes a king, a general, a teacher and a blacksmith, whatever is needed to effect the outcome of history and move it towards the goal of his new master."  The author takes us on a tour through Christian history and weaves a story of heroic virtue, suffering, and the hope of salvation, from 33AD to the present day. In the end, he sets his sights on laicized priest to try to obtain the one thing the Devil cannot give him. 

The book is enjoyable to read and moves quickly. It also makes the reader think about more than the action and storyline - mainly life, death, Heaven, and Hell, but not to the point of being overwhelming. It allows you to relate to the main characters- both good and bad. I found myself experiencing the humanity of Fr. Breviary, almost weeping with him in his personal sorrow and part of me also understood the confusion and despair of Judas, who despite his superhuman abilities, still found himself longing for what he could never attain on his own. 

Although it can be considered to be in the vampire genre, it's not really about vampires. It is, however, very Catholic, which is refreshing given some recently popular novels which I will not mention. In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided a copy in exchange for a review. I give the author credit for tackling such a story and it was a welcome addition to my lenten reading this year. As I meditate on the Passion of our Lord on this Good Friday, I'm sure at some point I will think about Judas and all the "what if's" and what could have been. Of course we know that only God has the answers and everything, including the reasons for our own sufferings and joys, are according to His plan, done in His time, for the good of all his people. 

Have a blessed Holy Week! 

Holy Name Church, Fall River, MA. 

Sympathy for the Devil
Writer(s): Mick Jagger, Keith Richards
Copyright: Mirage Music Int. Ltd. c/o Essex Music Int. Ltd., Mirage Music Int. Ltd. c/o Essex Music Int. L

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Caught Up In Appearances

Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, 
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see, 
because man sees the appearance 
but the LORD looks into the heart (1 Sam. 16:7)

We'll, we're more than halfway through Lent, so us procrastinators better start to buckle down and get serious about it. Now what should I give up? Actually, for me, this Lent has been very spiritually productive, especially in my contemplating God's plan and trying to be less bogged down by my own struggles and falling into self pity from thinking how hard I must have it. Last Sunday's readings were exactly what I needed (they usually are) to help keep me on course in my Lenten journey.

 Whenever I hear the account of David being chosen from among his brothers, I can't help but think of this. That's what having children...or at least the mind of one will do. In the Veggietales version, young David is given the Sisyphean task from his brothers of propping up their ever-falling sheep. He was the youngest of eight, and as we know, s**t flows downhill. David had no shot at his father's inheritance and probably resigned himself to the fact he'd be tending the flock for the rest of his life. Little did he know God's plan would be beyond his wildest imagination.

 I'm sure we all feel this way from time to time - I know I do often. We get discouraged by our daily labor and lost in the darkness of self-pity. Then we run the danger of getting caught up in appearances as Samuel did. He saw the oldest brother as big, strong, and handsome and figured he was prime king material. However, while man judges appearances, God judges the heart. He calls us to see His plan that is far beyond our routines and what we can see on the surface. Our struggles are temporary, but God wants us forever. 

My friend Kevin mentioned the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda chastises Luke for judging him but his stature and appearance. He's looking beyond the odd little green guy in the swamp to find the great Jedi Master, which is a great comparison to the scripture. The people of Jesus' time also looked beyond the simple carpenter for their great Messiah, not realizing the great I AM was in their midst.  

We've been praying the St. Padre Pio Novena together as a family. I'd like too close with part a prayer from that Novena which he composed for confidence and trust in God's Mercy. 

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.

Of course now I'll never get this image out of my mind when I read Samuel. Have a blessed week.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lord, It is Good That We Are Here.

Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. 
                                                                      (Mt. 11:28) 

I was blessed this past Saturday to have attended a Men's Retreat! I was was able to spend a day learning, worshiping, and praying. Although I've been involved in different ministries over the years, this is the first time I've spent an entire day on a retreat for myself since college. There were about 60 men of diverse backgrounds, which was a lot more than I thought would be there. I think it goes to show the need for solid men's ministry.

We ended the day with Mass, and of course this weekend's Gospel was Matthew's account of the Transfiguration. I felt like St. Peter thinking how good it was to be here. Actually, I feel like St. Peter often, but that's a story for another post. Getting back to Saturday, I was away from the usual stresses of life, able to spend time adoring our Lord, and enjoying fellowship with other Catholic men. It was my own Mount Tabor, a place where I could for a moment, experience the radiance of our Messiah and lay all my burdens on Him.

But as St. Paul said in the Second Reading (2 Tim. 1:8B-10): Bear your share of hardships for the gospel, with the strength that comes from God. While it was good to be there, I knew it had to go back to the routines of life. Not that my life is so terrible. In fact, I am tremendously blessed! But there can be worries and challenges. Monday always follows Sunday, but hopefully we over the weekend we can catch up, spend time with our family and friends, and recharge for another week.  Our Lord allowed the Apostles to experience his full glory as a means to strengthen them for the challenges they would soon face. We have that opportunity every week at Mass, to be strengthened by the Word and the Word Made Flesh.

Of course it's not easy to take our faith out into the world. How many of us get strange looks on Ash Wednesday or praying Grace in a restaurant? No, it's not a world that is often accepting of our faith but as Paul further reminds Timothy:

On this account I am suffering these things; but I am not ashamed, for I know him in whom I have believed and am confident that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. (2Tim. 1:12). 

It's Friday already!  Have a blessed weekend!

My Parish's altar during Lent. It has Mt 11:28 inscribed on  the front.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Facing the Deserts of Lent

Lent is only a few short days away and I'm not ready.

I now believe my parents when they told me that time does go by faster as you get older but I'm sure that having children is the biggest accelerator. I can't believe how fast they grow and change...just like I can't believe I haven't written on this blog since Advent 2012! Then, we were expecting our 6th child, now Gabriella Marie is just about walking.

Looking forward, it always seems like there is so much time ahead of you but then it's gone. I'll admit to being somewhat of a procrastinator so this is something I experience often. Usually, it's something that needed to get done yesterday. We'll, I still have 4 days before Lent starts; that's plenty of time. I am signed up for a men's retreat next Saturday so there's one thing in the plus column for me.

Of course Lent is not just about giving things up. It's also about positive additions to out lives and gaining strength from our daily trials to help overcome those struggles rather than escaping. Jesus knew is ministry would be difficult and end in a most difficult and painful way. He prepared for this by spending forty days fasting in the desert.

I get weekly email devotional from the Daughters of St. Paul.  Today's reflection was about spending time in the desert this Lent. Not the Mojave of course, but the reflecting on the 3 deserts in our lives where Jesus remains with us. The first is when we reflect on His suffering and death whether we pray the stations of the across or read a passion narrative. The second is living and accepting our own suffering and therefore remaining in the desert and being united with Jesus. The third, is recognizing the suffering others through prayer, solidarity, and actions.

How will you remain in the desert with Jesus this Lent?