Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Rejected Prophet

Usually celebrities are welcomed to their hometowns by proud family members and neighbors,  but when Jesus returns to his native place, a rising star in Galilee, he’s driven out of the synagogue and almost killed by the people of Nazareth. He claims to be anointed by the Spirit of God and he’s been acclaimed elsewhere, but they see him only as the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and reject him. (Luke 4,21-30)

They stay unconvinced, it seems, because some of his family appear later at Capernaum, the base for most of his ministry, and want to take him home because he’s out of his mind,they say.

Why are they against his extraordinary claim? Is it because they know him too well? Or really, not enough? They’ve watched him grow; he’s worked on their homes and in their fields. He built some of the tables they’ve used for their meals. They know his father, his mother, his relatives. An unassuming young man whom they’ve known since infancy.

Where does he get all this?

We have to be careful that, like them, we get used to Jesus Christ, whom we may have known from our infancy. They took him for granted. His silence through the years made them blind to his power and they did not believe in him.

We know his silence too in faith and sacraments. He may act somewhere else, we may think, but not in us. We can mistake his silence for powerlessness too.

Give us faith in you, Lord.

(4th Sunday of the Year)

The iPad

The iPad, the new mobile tablet from Apple, was “revealed” the other day and the reviews say it may change the face of communication. It offers email, internet access, ebooks, and audio-visual features from a 9” screen. The geeks are picking it apart for one thing or another, but one reviewer may have gotten it right. Apple didn’t make this for the geeks but for their mothers.

If I were thinking of producing media content today, which I am, I should think of producing it for the iPad.

If I had an iPad now, what would I be able to carry around with me? For starters, the whole bible, the readings for Mass, video Mass homilies and short bios of the saints,  courtesy of the US Bishops. The entire Liturgy of the Hours by way of Universalis: Documents of Vatican II, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism from the Vatican site:

For Catholic news, there are the blogs from CNS: America Magazine, Commonweal Zenit:

I could have with me my homilies, my email, podcasts, slide and video presentations. Resources like Wikipedia, the Library of Congress, the New York Public library would be  available by way of the internet.

Not a bad treasure of  resources to carry around and work on as you go.

But, as Yeat’s poem says, “What then?”

We need to work on what we’re doing now, our websites, blogs, etc..What will they look like on the iPad?

The iPad could use simple catechetical material, strongly visual. I think it will be the basic tool for providing catechesis in tomorrow’s church, but it will mean rethinking how we catechize and what form our catechesis will take.  I like the approach used in the new US Catholic Catechism for Adults, which uses saintly people to say what faith means. Short 10 minutes or 24 minute presentations.I have been using it for retreat and mission talks.

We need good material on the Passion of Christ too. In a quote from yesterday’s blog, St. Thomas Aquinas said we human beings  find “relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives.”  How can we present the Passion of Jesus on the iPad?

Let’s think about it.

David Carr, in the New York Times for  January 31, looks into the future of the iPad. It’s there, he says, now book and magazine publishers and other providers of media content have to think about it and work on prototypes and figure out the financials of it all.

Preaching in the World Marketplace

Today,  24 January 2010, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales and World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XIV urged priests, as he previously urged others in the church, to discover new possibilities in the “new media” for carrying out their ministry of preaching the Word of God. “Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry. “

For the pope, the new media is an important way of preaching the gospel, especially to the younger generation and to the world beyond the church and he calls on priests “to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”

There’s a new “agora,” a world marketplace, where Christ must be proclaimed. Get out there.


A Funeral in Wethersfield

Just returned from the funeral of Gerri Frechette at Corpus Christi church, Wethersfield, CT. She was the mother of Fr. Rick Frechette, CP, the director of St. Damien children’s hospital in Haiti.

He was attending his dying mother when the earthquake struck Haiti last week and at her urging he returned to help in the disaster. He returned to her bedside a few days ago and as he and his family were celebrating Mass around her bed, she died.

In his homily, Fr. Rick said how grateful he was that as a priest he was able to offer his mother to the Lord as part of the great offering Jesus makes in the mystery of the Eucharist. A woman of great faith, she knew the significance of her death at this moment.

Fr. Rick commented on how different his mother’s death and burial were from what thousands experienced in the Haitian earthquake. Her death was expected; she prepared for it; all the funeral arrangements for her burial were carried out with great care and dignity. The Haitian dead died unexpectedly;  they had no warning; the bodies of many of them were dumped unceremoniously in mass graves, unaccompanied by loved ones and signs of respect and faith.

A number of Fr. Rick’s Haitian associates attended the funeral. He will return with them to Haiti and their relief efforts tomorrow.

Fr. Rick expressed the hope that the world will be a place where people could live their lives, like his mother, in dignity and respect and pass to the Lord in confidence and with a sense of fulfillment, as she had done.

May she rest in peace, and may all those who have fallen asleep, rest in the peace of Christ.

A Cross in Haiti

Like so many, I’m following developments in Haiti these last few days, especially the activities of Father Rick Frechette, CP, a member of my community, the Passionists. He’s a medical doctor in charge of a free pediatric hospital, St Damien’s, outside Port-au-Prince, which is still functioning in make-shift conditions after the horrendous earthquake. You can read about him, and donate to his mission, if you wish, here. Major networks, like NBC and ABC, have been covering his story and the hospital where he ministers.

The world is responding to this poorest of countries with sympathy and help. How could it not? An earthquake is such an unexpected tragedy, and this one struck a poverty-stricken land crowded with human beings living in brittle homes that crumbled and crushed thousands of men, women and children.

We ask “Why?” Is the natural world cruel as it is kind? Is its Creator uncaring or distant from all of this, or not there at all?

Faith doesn’t answer our questions, but instead invites us to look at the mystery of the Cross of Jesus as God’s wisdom for times like this. One picture from Haiti yesterday showed a crucifix in the midst of the destruction. A reminder to see Haiti’s  suffering and death with this mystery in mind.

The mystery of the Passion of Christ doesn’t give answers, but it gives comfort and hope. That’s what the great English mystic, Julian of Norwich, says it brings:

“The passion of Christ is a comfort for us. He comforts us readily and kindly and says:All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”

Teresa of Avila sees this mystery in the same way.  When Jesus says “Come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you” he is inviting us to find refreshment in his Passion, she says.

When faced with the mystery of suffering and death, go to the Cross of Jesus, she tells us, and look up into his face. “And he will  forget his own sorrow, turning his face to relieve yours.” He will be our comfort, our refreshment.

Certainly, this is a time to reach out and extend our help in material aid to the poor people of Haiti. But let’s not forget to pray for them, to stand before Cross of Jesus and look into his face, to ask him to see, not us, but them, to care for them, to comfort them, to give them hope.

In many ways Haiti has been a forgotten place in our world. Will this terrible event help us remember this land and its people? The Cross of Jesus is a mystery that brings humanity closer.

“The nearer we come to the cross, the nearer we come to one another.”

Sharing His Life

As “the true light, which enlightens everyone ” come into the world, Jesus came not only that we might see his glory but also that we might share in it. “From his fullness we have all received, grace for grace.” (John 1,16) His baptism in the Jordan and his presence at the marriage feast of Cana in Galilee – two themes from John’s gospel still closely connected with the Feast of the Epiphany– portray Jesus revealed as God’s Son who unites humanity to himself.

From earliest times the Feast of the Epiphany, like Easter, was a day for baptizing those who believed in his name. To them, “he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1, 12) The story of the Magi, from Matthew’s gospel, says that all people are called by God to share in the grace of Jesus Christ. “The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Jesus Christ through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3, 5-6)

Some historians see the Feast of the Epiphany originating from early Jewish-Christian celebrations of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated God’s glory in covenant, light and water. In John’s gospel it’s during this same Jewish feast that the question is asked: Who is Jesus Christ? (cf John 7-10) He is God’s divine Son, the gospel says.

In some places the Feast of the Epiphany is also called the Feast of the Holy Kings or Three King’s Day. Gifts are given in memory of the Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Homes are blessed with holy water, in remembrance of that blessed home where the Magi found the Child and his mother.

In the western church, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus follows the celebration of the Epiphany as a separate feast, but it should be seen as  part of that celebration.

“For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Saviour, and the whole world is filled with joy. Today’s feast of the Epiphany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.”  (St. Proclus of Constantinople)

Do You See What I See?

The liturgy goes slowly through the mysteries of Christ, because  we can’t know them  in a few minutes or a few hours of worship, not in a day. It takes time, a lifetime.

And so we prolong the Epiphany feast for a week in our liturgy, hoping to see what the Magi saw.

“In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us. He therefore reveals himself in this way, in order that this great sacrament of his love may not be an occasion for us of great misunderstanding.

Today the Magi find, crying in a manger, the one they have followed as he shone in the sky. Today the Magi see clearly, in swaddling clothes, the one they have long awaited as he lay hidden among the stars.

Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.

So the Gentiles, who were the last, become the first: the faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles.” (St.Peter Chrysologus)

The Magi came searching; their questions seek answers. For now, their questions rest  “in deep wonder”  before the Child.