Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Month of Mary

Last week we began a special month marked by what are known as the "bookend feasts" -  the Assumption (8/15)  and Queenship of Mary (8/22) on one end and the  Birthday of Mary (9/8) and the feast of  Our Lady of Sorrows (9/15) on the other end.  This special thirty days which span the second half of August and the first half of September is a month of Mary in the liturgical year.   Certainly popular piety has not given up on May,  the month of mothers, as a time to honor our  Heavenly Mother, yet so often the focus placed upon  our Blessed Mother during May ends up inappropriately  shifting it away from  her Risen Son during the Season of Easter.   How much more then is this present month more appropriate as a special time bracketed by special Marian feasts to pray to, and honor Mary as the only boast of our fallen human race because it does not compete with any other season or major feasts of the church year.    

 We begin  these thirty days  celebrating  her glorious Assumption and heavenly  Queenship and end by celebrating  her birth and remembering the many sorrows she endured while in this world.  Thus we are invited to move our attention  from heaven to earth and  in some sense to  bring  Mary back down with us remembering her as loving mother and  powerful intercessor who because of  her own humanity and sufferings is  more than able to empathize with us.  So let us turn our attention to the Blessed Virgin Mary in these late summer days until the 15th of September and seek  the  solace that can be derived  from the  assurance that  this now  gloriously reigning   Queen of Heaven is still a  loving mother who  knows us and our present situation all too  well, and if only asked,  she  is more than ready to intercede for us!   So let us continue to frequently plead - Holy Mary, Mother of God,  pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death -Amen!

Fr. Edward Healey

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Honey Rose

The Lord speaks in mysterious ways.  Some would say the events in our lives are simply happenstance.   We would say the Holy Spirit is actively involved in our lives, and we're guided by the Spirit that is with us during the good times and the bad.

For my wife and I a "good time" occurred on the 17th when our third grandchild, Melina Rose, was born.   She weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces, a 77 reminding me of my blog of a week ago about the number 77 and Jesus' words about forgiveness.

Then today I spotted this cartoon from Non Sequitur by Wiley.   Happenstance?   No, I'd say just another message from the Holy Spirit reminding my wife and me about "divine perfection" and the Spirit's gifts.      Melina means "honey" in Greek - the name of our new little sacred Rose.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

That Time of Year

It's that time of year of again - back to school time!  We are constantly seeing advertisements on TV or in the newspaper for Back to School "Shopping."  There are ongoing sales for school supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, and clothes.

This past Sunday, I moved back to Maine for my senior year.  It is hard to believe that another summer has gone by...and that I am soon to begin senior year.  Time really flies!

I know that these new beginnings can be nerve-wracking for some, particularly those beginning anew in a new place.  It is a time to trust in God and rely on the Holy Spirit.  I know that many Catholic Schools begin the year with a Mass of the Holy Spirit, which has become part of "history" in the Church.  This year, on freshman move in day, we are planning a Family Welcome Mass - using the Mass of the Holy Family.  Jesus too was part of a family, and during his life on Earth, bid farewell to Mary and Joseph as well.

Let us keep all students, families, educators, and administrators in prayer as we approach back to school.  It's not all about the sales or the shopping, but it's about opening to the work of the Holy Spirit in the year ahead.

I find myself saying, "We thank the Lord for all that has been...and for all that we be, we say yes."

Chris Hughes

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Unripe Green Grapes

Our first reading from Ezekiel (18:1-10, 13b, 30-32) begins: “The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, what is the meaning of this proverb that you recite in the land of Israel: Fathers have eaten green grapes, thus their children’s teeth are on edge’?...” What’s the prophet’s meaning that’s relevant for all of us today?

First, some background. The unfermented juice of green, unripe grapes is called verjus, according to the magazine Modern Farmer. It can add acidity to savory and sweet dishes. At the height of the Roman Empire around 71 AD, the juice was called acresta. Its use peaked again in medieval France cuisine sometimes in the form of crabapple. Traditional Dijon mustard still gets is slight acidic bite from verjus, and European chefs continue its use. So, Ezekiel is referring to unripe grapes, but more than that, as his proverb suggests.

During Ezekiel’s day the people believed they were punished for the sins of their ancestors rather than their own.  Little bit like Adam and Eve’s “crime” of eating the fruit in the Garden.  Ezekiel made it clear that everyone is responsible for their own sins. Yes, we often suffer from the sins of those who came before us, such as the ravages of war.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Original Nakedness

Today’s reading from Ezekiel is a bit provocative (16:1-15, 60, 63).  Actually, it’s quite provocative and a bit reminiscent of the 1990 movie Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.  Julia is a prostitute who is transformed by wealthy businessman Gere who eventually falls in love with her, and she with him.  It’s a sort of Cinderella story.   

Ezekiel has God (playing Gere) find a young woman (Roberts) born in Canaan of an Amorite father and Hittite mother.  God finds her “stark naked” and “old enough to love.”  God (Gere) covers her nakedness with a cloak and later bathes and anoints her; then clothes her with a gown, sandals, a sash, and robes.  That’s followed by jewelry and gold and silver.

But then we depart from the Pretty Woman plot.  Instead of falling in love with God (Gere), she becomes impressed with her beauty and becomes a “harlot lavishing her harlotry on every passer-by.” 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Powers That Be

“Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?    Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times...” (Matthew 18:21-19:1).    This is the curious advice we get today from Jesus as reported by Matthew. 

I’m tying Lord, oh I’m really trying (not really Lord).   But I just cannot forgive Commissioner Rodger Goodell and the NFL for the outlandish 4-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.   According to one ESPN account: “The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued a one-sentence rejection of requests by the National Football League
Players Association and Brady to reconsider an April decision that found that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acted within his powers by suspending the star quarterback for his role in a scheme to doctor footballs used in a January 2015 playoff game.”

Perhaps what riles me the most is that Goodell “acted within his powers.”  That’s the rub: power!   Jesus acted against the powers of his day and so did the men, women, and children following him and railing against the injustices of the Roman Empire. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fall To The Ground

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

Many of us may be grains of wheat still in tightly sealed bags, yet to be thrown to the ground where we germinate to become fields of wheat – productive and giving life to those who are nourished by what we are and by what we do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eat It

Today's first reading says: “The Lord GOD said to me: As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.

It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me.  It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: Lamentation and wailing and woe!

He said to me: Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat.  Son of man, he then said to me, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.  I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.  He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.”
  Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

Monday, August 8, 2016

Waiting With Anticipation ~ Fr. Edward Healey August 7, 2016

Homily for August 7, 2016 Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for today's Homily

To watch Mass in its entirety click The Mass

Four Faces

Today’s first reading from Ezekiel does not include all of the following text, so I include it here:  “…As I watched, a great stormwind came from the North, a large cloud with flashing fire, a bright glow all around it, and something like polished metal gleamed at the center of the fire.  From within it figures in the likeness of four living creatures appeared.

This is what they looked like: They were in human form, but each had four faces and four wings, and their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass. Human hands were under their wings, and the wings of one touched those of another.  Their faces and their wings looked out on all their four sides; they did not turn when they moved, but each went straight ahead.

Their faces were like this: each of the four had a human face, and on the right the face of a lion, and on the left, the face of an ox, and each had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above. On each one, two wings touched one another, and the other two wings covered the body….” 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Women as Deacons

I always thought that there would be the possibility of married priest within my lifetime. Actually there are. My sister in Minnesota had a married priest as her pastor who had a wife and children. He was previously a Lutheran minister who converted to the Catholic faith, and with a minimal amount of training and education he was allowed to become a priest, a married priest. Actually that is not so uncommon. Within the United States, there are several Anglican and Episcopal priests who converted to Catholicism and are allow to be priest in the Catholic faith. In addition, in the Eastern Rite Catholics, priests are allowed to be married if they are so when they are ordained. Actually the same goes for me. One of my classmates in diaconate training was unmarried when he was ordained so he was required to take the vow of celibacy. If for any reason my wife dies, I cannot remarry. We were always told, you better take good care your wife because she is the only one you will ever have. Because it already exists in certain situation, I foresee the Church will allow priest to be married in the future.

But women as priest? I don’t think I will ever see that. Women as ordained deacons? That is another story. This week on Tuesday, Pope Francis created a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. You may have read about the commission in the Cape Cod Times today. On Tuesday, he named 12 experts — six men and six women — to serve on the panel. One of the experts is Phyllis Zagano, a professor of religion at Hofstra University, New York and is the author of many books on women in the Catholic Church. She is a strong advocate for women deacons and has done extensive research on their historical significance. Her most noted book is “Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church.” In it, she has shown that history clearly demonstrates that women served as deacons in the early centuries of the Church. Writing for Harvard’s Divinity school last year, she said that the current practice of not ordaining women deacons is a “merely ecclesiastical law,” meaning it’s a regulation, not a doctrine. That is not to say that there will be stiff resistance from those who believe that this is the first step toward ordaining female priests and therefore resist allowing women to be ordained as deacons.

Establishing a commission does not mean that the possibility of ordaining women as deacons will happen. They are only an advisory board and the Pope does not have to follow their recommendations. But in the past week, I have heard much excitement about the possibilities that this commission can bring. Ordaining women as deacons does tie in to what Pope Francis has advocated for a more inclusive role for women in the Church. It will be interest to see what develops over the next few months (years?).

Deacon Greg Beckel

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Mt 16.13-23

A little over fourteen years ago I was ordained a deacon. So most people call me deacon now. It’s an easy first name to remember. Sort of like Monsignor for Msgr Hoye or Father for Fr. Healey or Wyndham. In fact a lot of people call me Fr. too. I usually can tell who the visitors are as they leave Mass during the summer. Even at the hospital people call me father when I say I am a Catholic Chaplain. I love being able to respond “Yes, I am a father, but I also am a grandfather”.

So What Is In A Name? It is interesting that people call you different names depending on when you met them. It says a lot about who you are. Most friends call me Greg. My sister calls me Gregory John John. I’m not sure I like that but I also have a couple of names for her so we’re even. I wanted to choose Gregory for my Confirmation name but they wouldn’t let me chose my given name at the time so being a little rebellious I chose my second name for my confirmation name. Thus Gregory John John.

Being in the military for 27 years I acquired several names starting with Lieutenant. Now, even though I’ve been retired for 20 years, most of the people who worked with me still call me Colonel Beckel. One name that I was given was sort of interesting. My call sign was “The Deacon”. That was 20 years before I became an actual deacon.