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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Saints Peter and Paul

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This Sunday we celebrate the feast of two of the greatest saints of the Catholic world, Saints Peter and Paul. Simon Peter, the fisherman, strong and sturdy of build with thick curly hair (as we know from an early medallion), was outgoing, generous, and impetuous. Paul, the intellectual, was thin-faced and balding, with deep-set piercing eyes.

The question Jesus puts to Peter in our Gospel reading is one he asks each us of today who do you say I am, who do we say Jesus is? At various times in our lives our response will differ, depending on the circumstances that confront us. During our broken times we might need Jesus to be our healer. When we must stand up for our faith against the actions or views of others we want Jesus to be the strong one for us. When our prayer feels dry and our perseverance in faith threatened as often times they will, Jesus must be “living water” in our desert. When we must be constant for a troubled member of our family Jesus, “the living bread,” must be our nourishment. Thankfully Jesus isn’t just a plaster statue, Jesus is the concrete sign and reminder to us of our “living God.”

Jesus is with us when we are broken and weak, he is with us when we stand up for our faith and he is with us when our prayer life seems dry he is the water in the desert of our daily lives. He is also the constant who is with us and our families in good times and in bad.  What brings us together this Sunday and every Sunday isn’t what binds other individuals into a community. It isn’t our common ancestry, race, language, nationality or economic sameness though these may well be important. The common thread drawing us is our shared faith in God and one another. With Peter we profess Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We may express that in different languages and varied cultural expressions but, in one way or another, we proclaim the same thing: Jesus is our Lord, the Son of the living God.
Today’s episode is a key turning point in Matthews gospel. Jesus praises Peter’s response as one of a true disciple who understands Jesus’ uniqueness and importance. Was Matthew trying to show how insightful Peter was? No, because while Jesus affirms Peter’s response, he also names how Peter came to it. It was a gift of God.  We celebrate Peter and Paul, our great heroes of faith. But we remember that is not how they started out. Through these very limited humans God has done a great thing. Once they expressed their faith, God could begin building the church of those who witness in Jesus’ name. Like Peter and Paul all of us are required to witness to Christ and some may even have to give their lives in his name. Jesus is at work in the church, building us up, healing our wounds, helping us resist the forces of sin and death. Jesus assures us that  the church, built on the faith Peter will prevail against all the evil the world can throw against it and here we are over 2,000 years later expressing the faith that Peter expressed all those years ago when he said ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God.’

 

 

Corpus Christi

 

 

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This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ also known as Corpus Christi.In many places throughout the world the Feast of Corpus Christi would have been celebrated last Thursday but we in Ireland and many other places in the world  celebrate this feast on the weekend after Trinity Sunday.  When we see the Eucharistic Bread, we believe that it is Jesus who is there before us:  such is our faith in the Eucharist.  We are thus in the presence of the Resurrected One, He who has conquered death and who is now in Heaven, in the Glory of the Father!  The Church teaches that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (CCC 1324) This means that, because Christ is really, truly and substantially present in the Eucharist, we recognize that all the graces we enjoy as Catholic Christians come from this great Sacrament, and all we aspire to, the fullness of the life of God, is contained in this Sacrament.

Gathered at the Eucharist we bring ourselves and our prayers to God. We each have our own needs. People we know may be sick. we know people who need work but cant find it. The person who has been in our lives for so long has died.We bring these prayers for our needs and the needs of others to church because they raise our hopes in the power and love of God. We have those hopes because God is with us and continues to be with us in good and bad times through the sacramental life of the Church and through the Eucharist in particular.

Our relationship with God has produced fruitfulness, satisfied our longings, and brings us peace of mind and spirit. Because of God’s faithfulness, we give thanks, offer sacrifice, and once again present our needs. Sadly, in our modern world we are witnessing the institutionalization of moral decay. The legalization of abortion and same-sex marriage have dire consequences for the family, the core component of any society. In order to survive with faith intact and to live the truths of faith, Christian men and women today must fight against the idolatries of career, money, materialism, in short, “having it all.” Of all the things we “have” do we place first that which alone will last? So many people have chased after fame, only to have it elude their grasp. Others have given all in search of wealth only to find they had purchased many things but were dissatisfied without the “pearl of great price”. Some have burned themselves out pursuing pleasure divorced from authentic love and then fallen into the dark despair that emptiness and loneliness bring.And some have triumphed over the world by giving body and soul for the one thing necessary: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate the greatest gift our Lord has left us: His Body and Blood in the Eucharist or in Latin, “Corpus Christi” By following in our Lord’s footsteps, Christians over the centuries have sacrificed greatly, in a labor of love, for their faith, their Christian way of life and their families. Then as now, it begins with each individual humbly asking God to show the way and to provide the strength needed to follow in His footsteps. This strength comes from the Eucharist the Bread of Life which is the body of Christ.

 

TRINITY SUNDAY 2014

 

This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday which is all about the triune god Father, son and Holy Spirit. When my Father was alive he  often had a small tin of oil which was called three in one oil and it reminded me what the trinity was about  that is three divine persons in one. The Father is equal to the Son and the Son is equal to the Spirit three in one and one in three we hear this in the breastplate of St. Patrick. The 4th century St Patrick, with a brilliance that we Irish are justly celebrate found in the three leaf shamrock rising from the one stem an image of the Trinity..

 

The feast of the Trinity goes back to 12th century England and St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Historians say the great Thomas celebrated a Liturgy in honor of the Trinity in his cathedral. So was born the observance. In the 14th century, the feast came to be observed by the universal Church.  The belief in the Trinity goes back to the New Testament. There it is mentioned about forty times.
We open each Liturgy especially the Mass invoking the Trinity . We close Mass and so many other liturgies by calling upon those same Persons (Father Son and Spirit)  in blessing us as we go out into the world. Throughout the Christian world infants will be received into our faith communities  through Baptism in the name of the Trinity

Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months—Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and  Pentecost  it is the day when we  are asked to rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean. 

How do we understand the Trinity? We don’t! God, by definition, is ineffable, beyond conceptualization, beyond imagination, beyond language. The Christian belief that God is a trinity helps underscore how rich the mystery of God is and how our experience of God is always richer than our concepts and language about God.

The doctrine of the Trinity affirms God as loving and knowing, giving and receiving. We profess that God could not be God without the “other” (the Son) and the eternal bond of their relationship (the Spirit).

 
While some may think that the doctrine of the Trinity is negotiable, it is actually central to our faith. If we lose it, we lose all we are. Moses’ personal God, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, rich in kindness and fidelity,” emerges in St. Paul as the interpersonal Trinity that models true human relationship. Thus Paul prays: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you all.” When the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, it is an attempt to summarize the whole mystery of our God into one day. This is not just a “theological feast” ` but a feast which should speak to us of this simple fact of faith: the Father loves us, has revealed that love in his Son, and has called into a relationship sustained by the Spirit. It is our joy that, as baptized members of the Church, we can somehow share in that divine life and love which is the Trinity – becoming children of God. God has chosen us, and we are his own people, just as he chose the people of Israel long ago.

Each Trinity Sunday, we only scratch the surface of this great mystery of our faith. In gratitude and faith, let us begin and end every prayer with greater faith and reverence “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

 

Pentecost Sunday

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This weekend we finish the season of Easter with the celebration of Pentecost that is the birthday of the Church. This Sunday’s celebration is about the coming of the Holy Spirit the Advocate to the Church at its beginning.Our readings from scripture call to mind a universal need for a rekindling of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as a renewal of peace.  St. Paul in today’s reading explains: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

In the Gospel, Jesus, knowing that human nature is still weak, gives the apostles the power to forgive and reconcile those who sin. It is God’s mercy working through His bishops and priests down through the ages to ourselves in our own time and place! Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has, just returned from Palestine and Israel and on Sunday he will host the leaders of Israel and Palestine in a time  of prayer at the Vatican.  He has shown immense courage in outreach for peace and new unity between the Roman Church and the Orthodox who split from the Church of Rome nearly a thousand years ago. We can’t ignore problems  that arise in our lives and, most of the time, they just don’t go away by themselves very often we need to stop and think things through. That said praying through the problems seems to be the most reasonable solution to getting through them as many people will tell you prayer helps a great deal in any situation.  

As we reflect on the Word of God  this Sunday, let us ask for the specific gifts of the Spirit that will be helpful to us at whatever point in our journey we find ourselves.  Let us rejoice when we receive an abundance of gifts and graces.  May the peace of the Lord reign in our hearts!  Come, Holy Spirit!

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