Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Pastor’s Point of View - #1

The Sudarium of Oviedo:  As you read this Fr. Healey and the 27 Pilgrims accompanying  him on their journey of faith will  have  already  visited  the  Shrine  of  Fatima  in  Portugal, scene  of  the  apparitions  of the  Blessed  Virgin  Mary  in  1917,  and  the Basilica  of  St.  James  in  Compostela, Spain, goal  of  the  hundreds  of  thousands  of  pilgrims  across  the  centuries  who  walked  the rugged  route  called  “El  Camino”  and  the origin  of  the  oyster  shell,  once  abundant along  the  coast  there, being taken as proof badge for  completing  a  pilgrim’s  journey.

Today, we  will  be  in  a  city  in  the  north of Spain that numbers among  its  treasure an ancient cloth about the size of a kerchief that is kept locked in  a  medieval  strong  box  except for the days from September 14th to the 21st  each  year  when it  is  on  display.  It is a sudarium or “sweat  cloth”,  a  common  item in the Mediterranean world in Roman times to  wipe  the  sweat  and  dust  from  one’s  face while  journeying  on  foot.  This  sudarium contains ancient blood stains that curiously match the wounds found on the head of the man  whose  image  has  been  mysteriously imprinted  on  the  shroud  of  Turin.  Tests  in recent  years  also  reveal  that  the  blood  type is also that of the man of the shroud, indeed AB, a type very common among the ancient people of Palestine. The history of this cloth  is  better  documented  than that of  the  more  famous  shroud, because it is known to have been in Jerusalem until the 7th century Arab invasion, when it was taken first to North Africa and  then  across  the  Mediterranean to  Spain.  The  sudarium  moved  even further  north  over  the  centuries  with the invasion of the Moors obviously to protect it from those who would not appreciate it. Today then, it is held, as it  has  been  since  medieval  times, in the  Cathedral  of  Oviedo  in  the  very north  of  Spain. What  is  it?  Could  it be  “the  cloth  that  covered  the  head” as referred to in St. John’s Gospel, the one the evangelist tells us that the beloved disciple saw rolled up and apart from  the  shroud  in  the  empty  tomb? Quite possibly it is, as it can be said to have had contact with the same body that  was  covered  by  the  shroud.

If you  wish  to  learn  more  about it you might Google  the  name Mark  Gucin who has been its chief historian in recent times. For the pilgrims, as for all of us, this  simple  ancient  sweat cloth stained  with  blood  and  pleural  effusion  should  serve  simply  as another reminder that the suffering of Jesus of Nazareth is entirely historical and very real, and  its  purpose  remains  only  to pay the price of the debt that we could never pay, so ugly as this little cloth may be it is a sign of pure love!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Cross: Uniting Our Suffering with His

On Wednesday, we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  This has always been a favorite feast of mine, but as the day approached this year, I found myself looking at it with a different perspective.

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross obviously brings to mind, the Cross and the Crucifixion of Jesus.  We all know that Jesus is both human and divine, and I think that this feast highlights it as well.  Yes, Jesus died on the Cross and rose again on the third day - so that we would have eternal life.

However, there is also a real humanity to all of this.  The Cross shows us that Jesus suffered.  We, too, suffer.  We fall (both literally and figuratively) - we make mistakes, and we sin.  We struggle - with addictions, financially, at work, in school, in our relationship with God, and with much more.  We face hardships - we've lost family members, jobs, money, people and things we love.  We have to make sacrifices for the greater good of God and others.  We can unite our suffering with the suffering of Jesus on the Cross.  We can unite our suffering with the Crucifix; the Holy Cross.

Jesus suffered too - in both a human and divine way.  On one hand, we see the pain that Jesus endured.  He was ridiculed and was killed in front of His own mother.  His poor mother had to watch Him suffer and die - imagine the pain she felt.  But, in a human way, during his time of Earth, Jesus got sad in His human life and public ministry, and he also faced ridicule.  While he did not sin, there were things that were a struggle and made him sad in life.  There were difficulties that he had to face.  My favorite picture of Jesus is the "Hook's Head," (painted by Richard Hook) which is used in the ECHO Program.  His hair isn't perfect, his teeth are chipped, and his beard has a patch of gray.  If you look at this image from any angle, you will see that Jesus is always looking at you.  How true that is - Jesus is always looking at you, watching out for you, and holding your hand saying, "I'm right here with you; you can do it," when you suffer and fall...when you bear crosses, burdens, and hardships in life.

Sometimes, we take this for granted.  Whenever I get stressed out with an abundance of schoolwork or just too much going on in life, I try to unite my suffering with Jesus's on the Cross.  Is it easy?  No way!  It's something that we have to work at in our spiritual life.  Remember, Jesus walked in our shoes, too.

I close with a quote from Pope Francis from his Wednesday Audience this week.  I found it on Facebook Wednesday night in the middle of what has been a very, very busy week, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit at work.  "When we are tired or despondent, let us not be afraid, let us come to Christ, trust in him, rest in him and joyously serve him."

Remember, you are not alone.  Just look up on the Cross, and remember the ultimate sacrifice; the ultimate price paid.

Chris Hughes

Mashpee TV Covers the Golf Tournament

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To Be the Best We Can ~ Fr Tom Wyndham, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016 Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for today's Homily

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass

September 11: Fifteen Years Later

Fifteen years ago today, on September 11, 2001, our country, our world, and our society changed forever.

We all remember where we were fifteen years ago.  We remember hearing the news and seeing the horrific images all over the news.  We all had wished that this was just one major nightmare, and that this really didn’t happen.

I believe that today is an important day for remembrance.  We remember all who lost their lives that day, and all who sacrificed time and the gift of life itself to help others.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Prayers for the Beckel Family

For everyone who enjoyed Deacon Greg Beckel's post "Learning About Prayer Visiting My Parents" You would have read about Greg's mom having terminal cancer. 

Greg's mom passed away today, September 9, 2016, we'd like to ask for your prayerful support for Greg and his family at this sad time. 

Puzzles We Are

Stormy days are days for patience and passing time while we wait for clearer skies.  It’s a day for doing puzzles – challenging or otherwise.    We know the end result with puzzles – a beautiful scene, a person, or perhaps something a bit obscure, like the periodic table of the elements I took on while waiting for tropical storm Hermine to pass by…while waiting…while waiting…while waiting. 

Puzzles start off as chaos with many shapes, sizes, and colors in total disarray spread out on a table before us.    We look for matches and patterns while slowly piecing it all together until finally – order and completeness.

It’s sort of like life.   Life can be a puzzle with many pieces we must put in order.  Chaos is not an option although for many of us chaos seems to be the rule of the day – or week, or month. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Death In The Fields

Original sin is the sin that has always confused me perhaps because the concept is based on our mythological Adam and Eve – two figures serving as our inaugural human couple or our primordial domestic pair.   From Adam and Eve we got Cain and Abel - brothers and a fraticidal murder leading to the real original sin of violence with the farmer slaying shepherd.

I prefer the explanation of original sin provided by Dominic Crossan who said “sin” did not occur in the divine garden, but in the human field (by farmer Cain).  "Original sin is not a flaw in creation, but in civilization, a fault not in nature, but in culture.” 

According to Crossan, “Original sin is not about individuals and sex but about communities and violence.  It’s about humanity’s penchant for escalatory violence as its drug of choice.” He says, “Escalatory violence is our nemesis, not our nature; our avoidable decision, not our unavoidable destiny.  It is our original sin that can be overcome."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Defying The Law

"While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath,his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said,“Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply,“Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.” [Last Saturday's Gospel reading]

There are many things we like about Jesus. His attitude towards the poor and the suffering give us examples to follow; his parables giving us food for thought and lessons aimed to make us better people; his anger at the domineering and oppressive Romans; and his urging that we use nonviolence to confront the powers controlling us – ruling us.

What should strike us as worthy of our applause is Jesus’ use of David as his way of defying authority when that authority turns a blind eye to doing what is right and especially when it means our doing right by God.  Jesus and his disciples are eating raw, uncooked grain from a field.  They were hungry, but more notable – they were working on the Sabbath and defying the law as stated by some Pharisees who confronted him.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mortal Sinning

Last Friday, September 2, the Boston Globe had an article entitled “Pope urges Catholics to care for planet: adds obligation to traditional works of mercy.”  He is quoted as saying “every Catholic should go to Confession to repent his or her sins against the environment.”   That’s quite an addition to our list of sins we would be asked to confess.  The trouble is: what are those sins?   Are they mortal sins as opposed to venial sins?  Do we break our friendship with God or do we injure it?

Pope Francis has highlighted global warming and climate change as “contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis” with the “world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”  With that said, I suggest sins against the environment are mortal sins. 

Many may disagree with me.  But, I’m not speaking of driving less and turning off lights as mortal sins (venial sins?).  I speak more of our consumer behavior that includes destruction of rain forests, loss of glaciers, warming oceans, and crippled rivers by diverting water for consumer needs.  The list goes on, but must be better defined to guide us.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Stop The Crying

September 1 was World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  “Catholic Social Teaching Care for Creation” is a short film narrated by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Father James Martin, and Dr. Carolyn Woo.  I encourage you to google “CST 101 Care for Creation.”  It’s a fitting video and message tied to Pope Francis’ “Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality: On Care for our Common Home.” 

Known as Laudato Si, or “Praise be to you,” we are reminded of St. Francis’ words in his beautiful canticle: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.”  As the Pope says, “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her…”

Some may say and clearly have said, “Let her cry.  She’ll get over it.”  But will our children and grandchildren when they witness what our collective excesses have caused – irreversible damage to our planet and Mother.  We can deny that climate change is happening at our peril…at our peril.  Today we see many effects of this change. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Learning About Prayer Visiting My Parents

I thought I knew how to pray, or at least how I was supposed to pray even if I was lax at times. I say my morning and evening prayers regularly, I’m at the hospital as a chaplain so I say prayers for the patients many times a day, I’ve always loved reading and studying the bible, I count a thought of a person during the day as a prayer, and I occasionally get into reading inspirational quotes to help put good thoughts in my mind. I have to say that my prayers have varied greatly over the years, from being a large part of my daily routine to periods of dryness where I find it hard to pray and sometimes I just get lazy or let other “more important” things get in the way.

This past weekend I visited my parents in Minnesota. My mother is Protestant and my dad is Catholic. In October they will be married seventy years. They brought us up as Catholic and my mother taught us all our religion. She knew the Catechism better than we did. She believed in going to church as a family but also wanted to continue in her own faith so one Sunday she would go with us as a family to the Catholic Church and the next she would go her church with her extended family. I remember her sitting with us and saying the rosary with us as we listened to it on our battery operated radio. We always said our prayers before meals and at night she would sit with us to say our night prayers before we went to bed. It was obvious we had a prayerful, religious upbringing.

But this weekend taught me more about how to pray through the example of their prayer. Two weeks ago my mother found out that she has terminal cancer and has been put on hospice. Then the night before I came home I got a call that my dad had fallen and fractured his pelvis and had to be moved to the hospital. Despite those two pieces of heartbreaking news their prayer life remained strong and visible. Even though they were eating separately, they always said their prayers before they ate, even if it was only a couple of teaspoons of apple sauce for my mother. On Sunday morning my dad asked me if I would watch Mass on TV at 7:30 with him in the hospital. Then at 10:00 I listened with my mother to the radio to the service which was broadcasted from her church. They were both very intent on what was being said, responded with all the responses, and even sang a couple of the hymns.