THE UNBROKEN WORD

 

This week we are faced with another tragedy of immense sadness for many. This time is not a natural disaster, but one wrought of another nature. As destructive forces rained into a crowd celebrating a night of music together in Las Vegas, we are all left with sadness, grief and the confusion of how events like this can happen at all.

The weeks to follow will be led with stories of courage, remembrance, healing and loving for those affected. Many individuals already are being held up high for physically covering others during the shooting, offering up their lives in a split second to protect another; in some cases, people they did not even know. Others stayed with the dying to offer comfort, again leaving themselves exposed to danger, but rather choosing to remain, and be a friend someone needed during their last moments. We see the worst of humanity causing the divine to emerge from others in all its glory. This is small consolation to those who have lost loved ones, but we can find meaning in these terrifying moments and how many put their fellow man first, placing the love of another in front of their own natural instincts of self-preservation. These are the true colors of the divinity of God bleeding out in these men and women. They prove to us there is a saint awaiting in us all.

Let us hope when we are called, in big and small ways, we can be as selfless as these men and women. They are not just heroes for doing something beyond a common definition of bravery, they are Christ in Action in our world.

SHE CRIES FOR YOU

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She cries for your daughter,

Your son,

Your mother,

Your father,

Your friends and their loved ones.

 

She has seen the sorrow,

Felt the pain,

Experienced the helplessness,

And endures it all because of His love.

 

Our Lady of Sorrows,

Pray for us on this sad day for so many.

THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 7 OCTOBER 2017

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
Lectionary: 460

Reading 1BAR 4:5-12, 27-29

Fear not, my people!
Remember, Israel,
You were sold to the nations
not for your destruction;
It was because you angered God
that you were handed over to your foes.
For you provoked your Maker
with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods;
You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you,
and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.
She indeed saw coming upon you
the anger of God; and she said:
“Hear, you neighbors of Zion!
God has brought great mourning upon me,
For I have seen the captivity
that the Eternal God has brought
upon my sons and daughters.
With joy I fostered them;
but with mourning and lament I let them go.
Let no one gloat over me, a widow,
bereft of many:
For the sins of my children I am left desolate,
because they turned from the law of God.
Fear not, my children; call out to God!
He who brought this upon you will remember you.
As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God,
turn now ten times the more to seek him;
For he who has brought disaster upon you
will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

Responsorial PsalmPS 69:33-35, 36-37

R. (34) The Lord listens to the poor.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!”
R. The Lord listens to the poor.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They shall dwell in the land and own it,
and the descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. The Lord listens to the poor.

AlleluiaSEE MT 11:25

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

GospelLK 10:17-24

The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, 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 who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

THE UNBROKEN WORD

 

This weekend I will be on retreat at Miramar in Duxbury, MA. The theme of the retreat is Julian of Norwich, a mystical saint from the 1300s England. Julian was an anchoress. So now I may have used three words in the first two sentences we are normally unfamiliar. Mystical, anchoress and retreat.

I think sometimes we are so hungry for explicit, almost scientific information about our faith, we miss the point. By feeding our hunger for facts, we miss the mystical. The part we cannot explain. The feeling we have when we know God is close to us, but we can’t communicate it. When this happens, we need to snuggle up to the mystical, the wonder of God in our lives and those around us. We are all on a spiritual journey, which like any journey has many waypoints and interludes and episodes. Often the only thing we have in common with other’s journeys are their uniqueness. Which is no commonality at all.

Our faith is often described as a mystery but in a way which emphasizes our inability to understand. There is no need to understand. The only thing we are called to is to be close to God. Only to accept His love as presented to us. In the Eucharist, in our actions with others and in an acceptance of the mystery of God’s presence in our lives.

Retreats can help us in this process. Setting some time away from the hurly-burly of everyday life. Some time when we can slow down enough to be present in the Presence. Perhaps you can do the same. To retreat from the “noise of the world” for a short time and just go on a date with Jesus. Perhaps you can take a day, but if not, a short walk might do.

Just embrace the mystical. And see God in the everyday.

THE SACRED GARDEN

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Sometimes we don’t need those words,

The advice of others,

Proclamations of a better life,

Just silence and a walk.

 

In a garden. Any garden will do.

To reflect on my journey.

THE UNBROKEN WORD

This week I happened to return to the topic of Nietzsche (the German philosopher) for one evening. (Shows what happens to my mind when my wife is away for a few weeks ). Anyway, I was reflecting on his rejection of Christianity and his encouragement of man to focus on obtaining power to realize satisfaction and happiness in life. While none of us need a lecture in the dangers of focusing on power alone to meet our needs, it is interesting to note man’s frustration at our efforts to control mother nature and one another.

This can be a dangerous balancing act, where our spiritual life comes a sad second to meeting the other more important need of a relationship with God. I say that not in some pompous or righteous manner, but rather just because the more we focus on ourselves, the greater the distance we separate ourselves from God. Just like an addiction, and we all have them to a greater or lesser extent.

Sometimes we have to bow to mother nature. This week was another one of evacuation, power outages and many, many stories of people helping people. It should never be a surprise, but the best does come out when we are called to action; a very reassuring feeling, one which distracts us from our own wishes and to move towards those in need.

On a personal note, I saw this in action on an informal all-night vigil held on the “What’s App” phone application this week. My brother in law was undergoing open heart surgery in South Africa, he is 49 and has a 6-month-old son. The prayers which poured out over that night on the “chat line” were in English, in Afrikaans, from England, Switzerland and family in the USA. I know there were prayers from our parish as well. As I pen this message, he survived the surgery and is in recovery.

There are thousands of US families displaced by Irma, Harvey and even more devastation in the Caribbean. We can at times such as this see the power of nature, the love of God and our mission to help each other all manifest in a single image.

The call is rather beautiful. For it is in this we can make the difference and close off the road that Nietzsche and others would have us take.

A road which only leads to ourselves and not God.

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The Power of Nature

© 2017 Michael J. Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is Director of Teen and Adult Faith Formation for St. Eulalia Parish

THE UNBROKEN WORD

 

We are entering the second week of the national disaster which is Harvey. A tremendous time for action in prayer and deed for us all. Watching and listening to the reporting this week, it gave me great cause to reflect on my own time in the south.

Our first six years in the USA were spent in Huntsville, AL. A time when we got to really know Southern hospitality, and unfortunately, severe weather. Tornados were something I had only studied about in High School, until one visited our neighborhood during my son’s 6th birthday in November 1989. Within a few minutes 21 people were dead, 463 injured and 500 homes were destroyed. I spent time that evening looking for my wife and children, who, unknown to me, were stuck in traffic at the time with six other kids trying to make it home. My motorcycle provided the only tenable form of transport as I checked the hospitals for their whereabouts.

Thank God they were all safe, but that evening I had a taste for what it must be like for those on the Texas coast this week. Let us all do what we can to help, in prayer, in kind or in deed. There is a special collection this week for the parish to assist.

In the meantime, the photograph below shows the other side of mother nature, as the sun bathes our late summer blooms in New England. We can rely on God to provide us with our needs, even in the most difficult times.

After all it is not the hard times which really test us, but rather our response to them. Right now, Texas could do with some sunlight in their lives, and we have some to spare.

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The Flowers and the Sun

© 2017 Michael J. Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is Director of Teen and Adult Faith Formation for St. Eulalia Parish

THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 7 SEPTEMBER 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 434

Reading 1COL 1:9-14

Brothers and sisters:
From the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you
and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit
and growing in the knowledge of God,
strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience,
with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Responsorial PsalmPS 98:2-3AB, 3CD-4, 5-6

R. (2) The Lord has made known his salvation.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. The Lord has made known his salvation.

AlleluiaMT 4:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come after me, says the Lord,
and I will make you fishers of men.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

 

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

THE UNBROKEN WORD

 

Such a week as we have not seen in many a while. I often I try and avoid reporting on topical matters, yet when faced with such a calamity which is the hurricane/tropical storm Harvey, it is hard to not be affected by its impact. This week we see the best of human nature and the worst of mother nature both happening at the same time. (To quote Chris Cuomo of CNN).

Again, we see humanity, directed by God, bringing others to safety, putting themselves second and the very best of being an American neighbor/brother/sister to others. We can gain solace in watching what others are doing to help, and perhaps make our own presence felt in some way. Certainly the rebuilding of the coastline of Texas is going to be a monumental effort, one likely to take months, even years, to complete. However it will, lie the Phoenix, rise again with help from others.

Rebuilding on this grand scale makes us grateful for what we have today. Situated in the wonderful corner of the North East we know as New England, we have little to complain of, at least not severe weather of the sort just encountered in Texas.

While visiting Old Sturbridge Village last week, I was reminded of the weeding required in our garden in Clinton, and how small most challenges are when we compare them with others.

Yet, they are still important to notice and repair.

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I will remove the weeds in my garden, and my life.

Tending the Weeds by Michael Cunningham

© 2017 Michael J. Cunningham