Take Heart – Sparrow & Arrow Both!

Greetings on this the Optional Memorial of Saint Sebastian, martyr
Readings: 1 Pt 3:14-17; Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Mt 10:28-33
Notes: During Eucharistic Adoration this week my reflection (Stretch Out Your Hand) can be a particuarly challenging one when a person has a physical ailment or injury. For example, a man with a stroke paralysis in his right arm may find the reading to be both extreme in hope and extreme in disappointment. Stretch out my hand would be exactly what he would want to be given as a command and the receiving the blessing of the Synagogue that day! Instant Restoration!

It is difficult to imagine that Jesus’ miracles while extensive and superabundant were not the Lord’s final answer to our problems and woes. These are but examples and signs of the divine love and divine power.

All these things are preparation and anticipation of the final act of blessing – resurrection and eternal life.

It is our task to derive hope and encouragement from the saints and from the institutions and places that we have experienced joy and community. It is our task to read about the divine signs of the Gospel of John as proof and assurance not a particular gift to each and every one, all the time.

Take heart!

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Today we celebrate Saint Sebastian.

Photo of Mom’s parish, Woodside, NYC. We laid her to rest at Calvery Cemetery, February, 2020.

From the ordinary weekday reading, the calling of the Apostles: Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. Jesus’ calling is a powerful attraction. The attraction of superabundant love even held, for a while, Judas Iscariot who later betrayed him. Sebastian did better.

Reflection

The fact that many of the early saints made such a tremendous impression on the Church—awakening widespread devotion and great praise from the greatest writers of the Church—is proof of the heroism of their lives. As has been said, legends may not be literally true. Yet they may express the very substance of the faith and courage evident in the lives of these heroes and heroines of Christ.

From: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-sebastian/

First reading
Beloved: Even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34 is a highly regarded psalm of praise and trust in the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life.

Gospel Portion
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

In the Beginning – Truth

Greetings on this The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Readings: 1 Jn 2:18-21; PS 96:1-2, 11-12, 13; Jn 1:1-18
Notes: The Gospel of John does not contain an infancy narrative.

The gospel account does these distinct things instead:

  1. The gospel starts as the book of Genesis starts. In the beginning.
  2. It aligns the Christ event with the first creation by the Word of God of matter and light.
  3. It proclaims the Incarnation in the context of creation and light.

John making sure we know from the beginning the Lord knew he would one day dwell among us as brother and friend. So that we might see God according to our capacity to see him.

We saw and related to the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth, and sharer of the Father’s glory.

Pope Benedict delighted in teaching of this marvelous Lord who wished intimate life with us because of the generous love, super abundant love, of the divine. He saw faith as a growing and ever evolving expression of truth.

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now (Jn 16:12).
An ever changing and growing perspective: But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth (Jn 16:13a).

We have inevitably to face up to the question of whether man is made for the truth.

  • Cardinal Ratzinger, Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, 2003.

And the responsibility to live our existence as a response – as a response to what we are in truth.
(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance, p. 10 and p. 254)

It is our responsibility to do so. Pope Benedict did the best he could.

Pope Benedict XVI, 95 y/o, has died. Only 20 minutes ago.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and may the Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.

Amen.

First reading
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.

Every lie is alien to the truth.

Responsorial Psalm
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Alleluia Verse
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him he gave power to become the children of God.

Gospel Portion
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Blessed are the Meek

Greetings on this the Optional Memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
Readings: 1 Cor 1:26-31; Ps 131:1bcde, 2, 3; Mt 11:25-30
Notes: One man, in faith, through the Blessed Mother, in the power of Jesus, changed the world.

But the poor will inherit the earth, will delight in great prosperity (PS 37:11).

The first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.
Among the thousands present for the event were members of Mexico’s 64 indigenous groups.

Excerpt from the Canonization

“The Guadalupe Event”, as the Mexican Episcopate has pointed out, “meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ’s message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation” (14 May 2002, No. 8). Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favour upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.

Beloved Juan Diego, “the talking eagle”! Show us the way that leads to the “Dark Virgin” of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.

Source: https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/canonization-of-juan-diego/

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.

Reflection

God counted on Juan Diego to play a humble, yet huge role in bringing the Good News to the peoples of Mexico. Overcoming his own fear and the doubts of Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, Juan Diego cooperated with God’s grace in showing his people that the Good News of Jesus is for everyone. Pope John Paul II used the occasion of Juan Diego’s beatification to urge Mexican lay people to assume their responsibilities for passing on the Good News and witnessing to it.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-juan-diego/

First reading
No human being [should] boast before God.
Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.
Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.

We are:

  • Not wise by human standards
  • not noble birth
  • weak
  • lowly
  • despised
  • count for nothing

It is in God:

  • Due to him that you are in Christ Jesus.
  • [Jesus is our] wisdom from God,
  • As well as [our]:
  • righteousness,
  • sanctification,
  • and redemption.

Responsorial Psalm
In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty; I busy not myself with great things, nor with things too sublime for me.

Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD, both now and forever.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Gospel Portion
At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Purgation

Greetings on this the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
(All Souls)
Readings: Wis 3:1-9; PS 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6; Rom 6:3-9; Jn 6:37-40
Notes: Today’s Mass is the Official Prayer of the Church for the Suffering Souls.

There is an intimate union between the church militant and the church suffering.

Helping them on their way.

The work of the Church is not completed until every soul who in some fashion declares G-d and the need for forgiveness shall complete their journey to the beatific vision and eternal bliss.

By our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in suffrage (intercessory prayers), we are petitioning the Lord for the benefit of the Suffering Soul.

Heavenly Hosts Petition

  • Blessed Mother.
  • Saints of Heaven.
  • Angels as agents of the Lord in love with His humans seeking to render aid.

Militant Church Petitions

  • Catholic burial.
  • Blessing of the body and of the place of commendation with Holy Water.
  • Holy Mass for the benefit of the Suffering Soul (The Blood of Jesus and the Propitation Sacrifice).
  • Holy Communion for the benefit of the Suffering Soul.
  • Burning of blessed candles (modest).
  • Adorning the graves of the dead (modest).

Reference: Charity for the Suffering Souls by Rev John A. Nageleisen, TAN Books, 1982.

Reflection (by Franciscanmedia)

Whether or not one should pray for the dead is one of the great arguments which divide Christians. Appalled by the abuse of indulgences in the Church of his day, Martin Luther rejected the concept of purgatory. Yet prayer for a loved one is, for the believer, a way of erasing any distance, even death. In prayer we stand in God’s presence in the company of someone we love, even if that person has gone before us into death.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/commemoration-of-all-the-faithful-departed

First reading
The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.

As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord shall be their King forever.

Responsorial Psalm
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second reading
For a dead person has been absolved from sin.

If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

Alleluia Verse
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Gospel Portion
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.

Therefore, by the will of the Father, pray for the Suffering Souls of Purgatory.

Lord, by my own prayer,

fasting and almsgiving,

in union with Christ’ perfect gift,

bring relief and release for the Suffering Souls.

Amen.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Religion or Personal Projection

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings: Gal 2:1-2, 7-14; Ps 117:1bc, 2; Lk 11:1-4
Notes:

Speaking of the first reading a few days ago: I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel, I would like to share a story from this week.

We had the Catholic funeral liturgy for a beloved member. The Vigil service, Funeral Mass and the Committal Rite. All carefully prepared and the liturgy meticulously followed according to the faith.

We gathered:

  1. To pray for the soul of the dead (mercy, forgiveness, and the beatific vision).
  2. To pray for one another in consolation (love, unity, forgiveness).
  3. To remember our baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (salvation economy).
  4. To remember the sure hope of the resurrection and the mercy of God (the Divine Will).

After the graveside service the Funeral Director took it upon himself to orate for 20 minutes straight. And essentially demand the family and friends gather around the coffin for an extra-liturgical expression.

The worst part?

He started with: The real reason we are here

Really? You know the real reason. See the list I provided above items one to four.
In speaking with his coworker, he told me this FD does this all the time.

Shameful!

  • Funeral Director has a competence and role distinct and true.
  • He is not the spiritual director of the family and grieving.
  • I know he meant well and for that he gets this gentle warning.
  • At most he can provide comforting context when the context is not already provided.
  • He is there to provide concluding comments such as: ‘Thank you for coming’, and ‘This service is concluded’.

After three days of meticulous and exact theological understanding, developed over millennia, the FD decided of his own ego to declare, ‘the real reason’. He was not asked to do that. He is of unknown theological basis. He is unknown ordination or appointment. He did not read the discomfort of the family gathered to his expectations. He had zero understanding of interfaith practices.

Apparently he does this all the time.
Yikes!

I have done many interfaith services and faith services of other traditions, great and meticulous care must be given to represent the faith tradition of the grieving, not my own. His activity is a slap in the face of all religions and traditions and interfaith practices.

Why does it matter?

Because he is not in the position to declare the purpose of the gathering, the theological framework of the gathering nor listened to the words of the liturgy provided. The family and their ways are the paramount canon.

Some of our prayers are 2,000 years old given by the Lord himself!

How closed can a person be in such a moment!

I am writing this as a neglected reality. In the modern world, I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel. In your context it is fine. But in the context of a family with distinct and specific religious tradition, no, not at all.

Today is also the Optional Memorial of Saint Faustina Kowalska, virgin.
She is an impactful saint in the western church. Her modern era life (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938) and her diary has inspired millions to a life of loving the Lord and acting justly.

Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska’s Story here:
https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-maria-faustina-kowalska

For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

First reading
When they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel.
But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all…

Responsorial Psalm
Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.

Alleluia Verse
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father!

Gospel Portion

This! This is our focus:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

The Lord Hears

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest
Readings: Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23; Ps 88:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7-8; Lk 9:51-56
Notes: In our first reading and in our responsorial psalm we see humanity in dire straits!

So bad we feel and experience awful things we lash out!

  • Cursed am I!
  • You, Lord, have abandoned me!

But Jesus response with gentle love. He hears our deepest heart desire.
He does not react negatively to their taunts but rather stays the course to save all mankind!

Reflection

The Church is for all God’s children, rich and poor, peasants and scholars, the sophisticated and the simple. But obviously the greatest concern of the Church must be for those who need the most help—those made helpless by sickness, poverty, ignorance, or cruelty. Vincent de Paul is a particularly appropriate patron for all Christians today, when hunger has become starvation, and the high living of the rich stands in more and more glaring contrast to the physical and moral degradation in which many of God’s children are forced to live.

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-vincent-de-paul

First reading
Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.
Job spoke out and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,
the night when they said, “The child is a boy!”

Responsorial Psalm
Let my prayer come before you, Lord.

You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit, into the dark abyss. Upon me your wrath lies heavy, and with all your billows you overwhelm me.

Alleluia Verse
The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Gospel Portion
When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Content in your presence

Believers sharing scripture and discussing how Jesus impacts them. Content to be in your presence.

Greetings on this the Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Readings: 1 COR 15:12-20; PS 17:1BCD, 6-7, 8B AND 15; LK 8:1-3
Notes: In addition to the Twelve, many accompanied Jesus on his journey from one town and village to another. These same women will accompany Jesus to Jerusalem, are present at his death and resurrection. Both Mary Magdalene and Joanna are specifically mentioned in scared scripture.

Our memorial today concerns two Church leaders who differed in their understanding of how to readmit believers who relapsed but converged wonderfully in unity:

Cyprian, using judgment of the Church argument style, wrote:

(a warning) it will be attributed to us in the day of judgment, that we have not cared for the wounded sheep, and that on account of a single wounded one we have lost many sound ones. And whereas the Lord left the ninety and nine that were whole, and sought after the one wandering and weary, and Himself carried it, when found, upon His shoulders, we not only do not seek the lapsed, but even drive them away when they come to us; and while false prophets are not ceasing to lay waste and tear Christ’s flock, we give an opportunity to dogs and wolves, so that those whom a hateful persecution has not destroyed, we ruin by our hardness and inhumanity.

Even still Mary Magdalene and Joanna teach us above all things, we should say to the Lord:

We are content in your presence, O Lord.

First reading
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Responsorial Psalm
Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Gospel Portion
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

Our Lady of Sorrows

Greetings on this the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Readings: 1 Cor 15:1-11; Ps 118:1b-2, 16ab-17, 28; Jn 19:25-27
Notes: The image today is from the Camino de Santiago. There I found the Crucifix often with Jesus on one side and the Blessed Mother on the other. She suffered a dry martyrdom on the cross.

Our gospel portion today (Jn 19:26-27) is the fulfillment of the gospel portion LK 2:35.

(and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (LK 2:35).

Women are the first to know the pain of loss. From Eve to Mary, Sorrow over the children. Your grief is known to Mary and she prays for your consolation.

Adam again had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth. “God has granted me another offspring in place of Abel,” she said, “because Cain killed him.” (Gen 4:25).

First reading
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

Responsorial Psalm
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”

Sequence
https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2022/09/15/stabat-mater/

Alleluia Verse
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.

Gospel Portion
Fulfillment

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry