Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Reflection on the gospel: Jesus’ critics considered themselves virtuous, but in truth, they lacked both love and compassion. When they criticized Jesus’ effort to reach out in love and compassion, the Lord rebuked them.
A shopworn truism suggests itself: what goes around, comes around. We need to be careful when we are tempted to judge others. All of us, without exception, have areas in our life that are not whole, and the compassion we show today for another well may be the compassion we need for ourselves tomorrow.
Saint of the day: Daniel Brottier spent most of his life in the trenches—one way or another.
Born in France in 1876, Daniel was ordained in 1899 and began a teaching career. That didn’t satisfy him long. He wanted to use his zeal for the gospel far beyond the classroom. He joined the missionary Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which sent him to Senegal, West Africa. After eight years there, his health was suffering. He was forced to return to France, where he helped raise funds for the construction of a new cathedral in Senegal.
At the outbreak of World War I Daniel became a volunteer chaplain and spent four years at the front. He did not shrink from his duties. Indeed, he risked his life time and again in ministering to the suffering and dying. It was miraculous that he did not suffer a single wound during his 52 months in the heart of battle.
After the war he was invited to help establish a project for orphaned and abandoned children in a Paris suburb. He spent the final 13 years of his life there. He died in 1936.
Spiritual reading: God does not desire more of you than that you should go out from yourself, insofar as you are burdened with your nature, and let God be God in you. The slightest image you have of yourself is as big as God; it holds you away from your whole God. To the extent that such an image enters you, God must yield, and to the extent that this image goes out, God enters in. (Meister Eckhart)
Gospel reading of the day:
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus was very pragmatic in his religious practice. He taught that our circumstances ought to dictate our religious practice; he had little patience for religious practice that lacked meaning within its circumstances. Here, Jesus observes it is not customary to fast when the bridegroom is still around. He is the Bridegroom and, as long as he was present, there is cause for celebration. Fasting is a sign of mourning and it is as inappropriate in a time of joy, when Jesus is proclaiming the kingdom, as it would be at a marriage feast. In the same way, let us conform our spiritual lives to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, so that religion flows from living, not deadened, hearts.
Saint of the day: Anne Line was born in Essex, England as Anne Higham, the wealthy daughter of an ardent Calvinist. When she and her brother converted to Catholicism, they were disowned and disinherited. Anne married another convert, Roger Line, who was soon arrested for attending Mass, then exiled to Flanders where he died in 1594.
When Father John Gerard established a house of refuge for priests in London, Anne was put in charge. Father Gerard was sent to the Tower of London and escaped in 1597. The authorities suspected Anne of hiding him, and she moved to another house, which became a rallying point for Catholics. On Candlemas, 1601, Father Francis Page was about to celebrate Mass there, when priest-catchers broke in. Father Page quickly unvested and mingled with the others, but the altar was all the evidence needed to arrest Anne. She was tried, convicted, and hanged for harboring priests. Martyred with Blessed Mark Barkworth, and her friend Blessed Roger Filcock. She died February 27, 1601.
Spiritual reading: Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment,
temptation and doubt about everything that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine. (H.J. Iwand)
This is the first blog posting for CFAP Tarrytown. We began our parish community in July of 2007 and have quickly grown to 8 regular members. We are one of two communities which comprise the parish of The Church for All People; our other community is in Brooklyn and much larger and a bit older. Pastor for both communities is Joe Diele.
2008 was a year of much growth for Tarrytown and nothing gave us greater pleasure than to host the receiving of the habit and professing of three members of the parish into the Franciscan Community of the Reconciliation on November 22nd.
The day began with a memorial prayer service at a local Lambda Peer Support Group Center for members of the LGBT community who had died during the last year as a result of AIDS or hate crimes. The service was organized and led by one of our parish members, Joe Diele and our Bishop, Frank Betancourt. Other members of CFAP Tarrytown and FCR clergy from CACINA also attended including George Lucey and Denis Couture. It was a fitting and mindful way to begin a day of much prayer, love and celebration both of lives lived and living.
Later that evening nearly 30 people gathered to witness the professing of 3 parish members in the FCR as they who took their vows and received their habits . Each was accompanied and assisted by a family member; as they received their habits from Frank along with Joe, George and Denis assisting. For those of us who had never witnessed the professing of a new member of a religious community, it was a moving and joyful moment!
The ceremony took place during Mass and immediately afterwards the celebrating continued with a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. The house was jammed with people, eating, drinking, laughing and truly savoring our community! Surely it was a night of great joy and gratitude.
Other news of our parish: we began a monthly scripture study in September and are currently working our way through Revelation. Once a month right after our Saturday evening liturgy we order pizza and crack open our bibles. Joe is leading us and the discussions are pretty lively and illuminating!
One of our newer members, left us in January to move to Florida for several months, so we bade her Godspeed and will miss her!
That’s it for now….but stay tuned! The next big event should be our 2nd anniversary celebration in July!
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”
Reflection on the gospel: The text here is rich in implications: Jesus talks about his rejection and then talks about picking up the cross. Being misunderstood and even rejected does not feel good, but when we risk being misunderstood and even rejected for the sake of the gospel, we embrace the gospel and imitate Christ. The elders, chief priests, and scribes, of course, were the religious authorities of Jesus’ day, but Jesus’ vision of the truth led him to reject their leadership and set out on a path that the Father had revealed to him. In an age when many religious leaders are turning to stale and lifeless teachings, we must be bold in our proclamation of the vision that the Father gives us and tenaciously hold to our prophetic mission even as Jesus tenaciously held to his prophetic mission, even if it risks death, yes, death even on a cross.
Saint of the day: Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz was born in 1799 in Spain. A member of a large and pious family in a small seaside village, her father died when Paula was 10 years old. She worked as a seamstress and lace-maker and helped raise her siblings. She also helped in her parish with other children.
At age 30, still single and devoting herself privately to God, she and her friend Inez Busquets opened a school in Gerona to provide a good education mixed with spiritual guidance. The school was such a success that she was able to found a college in May 1842, and another school in 1846. To staff and manage the schools, she founded the Daughters of Mary (Pious School Sisters) in February 1847 and took the name Paula of Saint Joseph of Calasanz. Paula served as its leader. These schools have now spread to four continents. She died in February 1889 of natural causes.
Spiritual reading: Christianity has all too often meant withdrawal and the unwillingness to share the common suffering of humankind. But the world has rightly risen in protest against such piety… The care of another – even material, bodily care – is spiritual in essence. Bread for myself is a material question; bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one. (Jacques Maritain)
Readings for the First Sunday of Lent:GENESIS 9:8-17, (1 PETER 3:18-22), MARK 1:9-15
Daily Reflection by Father Joseph Diele, Church for All People, Brooklyn and Tarrytown
The Lenten season is all about the Christian Community recalling our Baptisms. It is time for those preparing for Baptism to be prepared in a much more focused way. We go from ashes to the fire of The Easter Vigil and we go from the desert of these weeks to the waters of Baptism. We go from the remembrance that we are dust to the fact that this dust can rise by God’s power.
Noah goes onto the ark with the world. All creation is brought onto the ark. The scene is wonderful because it recalls for us the beginning. God is recreating the world. Scientifically we know if the story were factually true, the water reached the highest mountain, and if that were so, the water would have surmounted the Himalayas. If the water had really reached the top of the highest mountain, the world would have spun off its axis.
What if the ark is a symbol of an embryo floating in a womb? What if this story is really about the Great Mother? What if the creator God we meet in Genesis 1 as the Feminine Breath of God is here as the womb of God?
Ponder for a moment the meaning of creation? Of motherhood? Of a Divine Mother? Ponder for a moment the feminine side of God.
-What have we created recently?
-The great command of God both in the beginning and again here is to go and be fruitful. Too often and way too many church people have made this literal. The real command is much deeper, much more profound than only pro-creating rather how are we creating ourselves and our world?
-What do our communities tell us about being creative?
Gospel reading of the day:
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: On this Ash Wednesday, the gospel calls us to reflect on the meaning of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The passage from Matthew, as we enter into Lent, emphasizes the importance of doing all these things quietly and in a way that only God sees. No one should even know we are praying more, sharing more, or doing without things. Once we draw attention to ourselves doing these things, they have lost their real purpose, that is, is to bring us closer to God and the ways of God.
Ash Wednesday: Ash Wednesday is the Wednesday 40 days before Easter (excluding Sundays and the Triduum.) The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead in the sign of the cross, saying the words: “Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from someone else. In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.
Spiritual reading: He brought light out of darkness, not out of a lesser light, and he can bring thee summer out of winter, though thou hast no spring. Though in the ways of fortune, understanding, or conscience thou hast been benighted till now, wintered and frozen, clouded and eclipsed, damped and benumbed, smothered and stupefied, now God comes to thee, not as the dawning of the day, not as the bud of the spring, but as the sun at noon. (John Donne)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Reflection on the gospel: There is a theme in Jesus’ teaching of receiving the weakest among us as we would receive Jesus. In the Matthean description of the judgment, Jesus says that whoever feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothes the naked, gives shelter to the homeless, visits the sick, visits prisoners, buries the dead, that whoever does these things for another, does them for Jesus. In today’s gospel passage, Jesus says whoever receives a child, receives Jesus, but not just Jesus, but the one who sent Jesus. Jesus is able to so completely identify with the other that both the injuries and the blessings she or he sustains, the Lord sustains. When we remember this, our gifts to the wounded we encounter become much easier for us to practice. Let us then surrender ourselves to the discipline of seeing the Lord in each one we encounter, not just even but most especially the weakest ones God puts in our path. This best serves us not as an allegory or an ideal but as a way of life that we enact from day to day.
We are about to enter into Lent. In this season of baptismal renewal, people often give up little things as a form of repentance, but it would be better I think to make a discipline of service to those among us who have less than we do, to make for instance a practice of giving a dollar each day for 40 days to a homeless person on the street, than to mortify ourselves through eschewing, say, chocolate. Me, I say, if the choice is between not eating chocolate and not serving the poor, eat chocolate and serve the poor.
Saint of the day: A nobleman born in 1200, Luke Belludi was brought into the Franciscans by Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis of Assisi. Anthony’s companion in his travels and preaching, Luke tended him in his last days and took Anthony’s place upon his death. He served as th guardian of the Friars Minor in the city of Padua.
In 1239, Padua fell, nobles were executed, the mayor and council banished, the university of Padua closed, and the church dedicated to Saint Anthony left unfinished. Luke was expelled, but secretly returned, visiting the tomb of Saint Anthony to pray for help. One night a voice from the tomb assured him that the city would soon be delivered; it was. Luke was elected provincial minister, and furthered the completion of the great basilica in honor of Anthony. He died about 1285.
Spiritual reading: May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in. (Mother Teresa)
Gospel reading of the day:
As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit. Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!” Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive the spirit out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” is a prayer that is useful to each of us. All of us sometimes get over our heads with situations which baffle us. Whenever things get beyond our abilities, like the possessed boy was for the disciples, we need to pray. When we ask for help in our unbelief, it results in more belief, in joy, and restoration. God will meet our need in God’s time. God’s ways are not predictable, but God answers prayers like, “Help my unbelief.”
Saint of the day: Born in about 69, Polycarp of Smyrna as an associate of, converted by, and a disciple of Beloved Disciple. He was a friend of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and fought Gnosticism. The bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), he was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century. The Asia Minor Churches recognized Polycarp’s leadership. Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has been preserved, the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi, Macedonia. At 86, Polycarp was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna; the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger, and his body burned. The Acts of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He died about 155 in Smyrna.
Spiritual reading of the day: I can testify that I may live without air and water, but not without God. You may pluck out my eye, but that cannot kill me. You may chop off my nose, but that cannot kill me. You blast my belief in God and then I am dead. (Mahatma Gandhi)
For us and our salvation…
The creed talks about Jesus coming down from heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit becoming human for us and our salvation. Two questions come to mind, the first is Why did God decide to come down from heaven? The second might be from what do we need saving?
We recently completed celebrating the Feast of the Incarnation when God took on our humanity. Here is a God who wants to become so intimate with us that he shares the very life of his creation. What love must God have for us that he would diminish himself so that he could enter into our time and space, share our challenges and joys, eat with us, walk beside us and experience the one thing we all dread – death. His love is not just for us humans or for our world but for all of creation.
We are saved, rescue, ransomed and redeemed by a God who understands our humanness. Why? We are our own worst enemy, our egos, our desire to be more than we can ever be get in the way of being who we really are. We need saving from ourselves. Dickens, in “A Christmas Carol” portrays Ebenezer Scrooge as an individual who rejects the love of others concentrating all his efforts on achieving his own personal goals. As Marley’s ghost tells him each of us creates our own hell cutting ourselves off from God’s creation. We, like Scrooge, are unable to break away from our self centeredness alone. Christ needed to come among us to show us the way and to be the way.
So God’s very Word of creation became human through the power of the Holy Spirit and a virgin. He then grew into our lives being fully human, loving so strongly that he made the ultimate sacrifice to show us the depth of his love. Not only did he suffer and die like us, he went one step further. Through the same Holy Spirit of God the Father raised Jesus to life, not a resuscitation of a battered body but a transformed body, the kind of body we too will have when he comes again. His judgments will be fair and loving calling all who know him into a loving embrace forever.
(to be continued)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
Reflection on the gospel: The gospel tells us a story with a deeper meaning than we might first see. Jesus takes a walk. Up the mountain he goes with three of his disciples. At the top of mountain, a big change comes over him. Mark tell us, that Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no bleach on earth could make them.” Theologians believe that the deeper meaning of the Transfiguration is a prediction of the resurrection of Jesus. Here we have the story of Jesus, shimmering, glowing with life and light. Even so, the gospel contains suggestions of the Lord’s suffering, so it speaks indirectly both to the death and resurrection of the Lord.
What shall we take away from this gospel narrative? In the 13th century, there was a woman in England name Dame Juliana of Norwich. At one point in her life, Dame Juliana was given a series of mystical visions. In one of these visions, she saw our Lord on the Cross. Jesus was in great pain. The nails pierced His hands and feet. The crown of thorns cut into His forehead. The sweat from His face stung His eyes. Despite His pain, in the greatest tenderness, Jesus looked down from His cross at Dame Juliana. With true sweetness in His voice, He said to her, “All shall be well, and everything shall be well, and every manner of thing shall be well.”
Today, Peter tells Jesus that he is going to set up tents for the Lord, Moses, and Elijah. Peter has the best of intentions. But he really doesn’t get what’s going on. In life, we frequently just muddle through. We often do not get it. But God gets it. God sees the big picture. God makes everything turn out alright. God uses our imperfections and mistakes, all of them, to create the big picture. And so the message of today’s gospel is just this: All shall be well. And everything shall be well. And every manner of thing shall be well.
Saint of the day: Born in about 1561 at Horsham St. Faith’s in Norfolk, England, Robert Southwell was an English Jesuit priest and poet. He was brought up in a Catholic family and educated at Douai. From Douai, he moved to Paris, where he was placed under a Jesuit father, Thomas Darbyshire. In 1580, he joined the Society of Jesus after a two-year novitiate passed mostly at Tournai. In spite of his youth, he was made prefect of studies in the English college of the Jesuits at Rome and was ordained priest in 1584.
It was in that year that an act was passed forbidding any English-born subject of Queen Elizabeth, who had entered into priests’ orders in the Roman Catholic Church since her accession, to remain in England longer than forty days on pain of death. But Southwell, at his own request, was sent to England in 1586 as a Jesuit missionary with Henry Garnett. He went from one Catholic family to another, administering the rites of his Church, and in 1589 became domestic chaplain to Ann Howard, whose husband, the first earl of Arundel, was in prison convicted of treason. It was to him that Southwell addressed his Epistle of Comfort. This and other of his religious tracts, A Short Rule of Good Life, Triumphs over Death, Mary Magdalen’s Tears and a Humble Supplication to Queen Elizabeth, were widely circulated in manuscript. That they found favor outside Catholic circles is proved by Thomas Nash’s imitation of Mary Magdalen’s Tears in Christ’s Tears over Jerusalem.
After six years of successful labor, Southwell was arrested. He was in the habit of visiting the house of Richard Bellamy, who lived near Harrow and was under suspicion on account of his connection with Jerome Bellamy, who had been executed for sharing in Anthony Babington’s plot. One of the daughters, Anne Bellamy, was arrested and imprisoned in the gatehouse of Holborn. She revealed Southwell’s movements to Richard Topcliffe, who immediately arrested him. He was imprisoned at first in Topcliffe’s house, where he was repeatedly put to the torture in the vain hope of extracting evidence about other priests. Transferred to the gatehouse at Westminster, he was so abominably treated that his father petitioned Elizabeth that he might either be brought to trial and put to death, if found guilty, or removed in any case from that filthy hole. Southwell was then lodged in the Tower of London, but he was not brought to trial until February 1595.
There is little doubt that much of his poetry, none of which was published during his lifetime, was written in prison. On the 20th of February 1595, he was tried before the court of King’s Bench on the charge of treason and was hanged at Tyburn on the following day. On the gallows he denied any evil intentions towards the Queen or her government. He was hanged at Tyburn, and became a Catholic martyr on February 21, 1595)
Spiritual reading: My heart is transformed by the smile of trust given by some people who are terribly fragile and weak. They call forth new energies from me. They seem to break down barriers and bring me a new freedom. It is the same with the smile of a child: even the hardest heart can’t resist. Contact with people who are weak and who are crying out . . . is one of the most important nourishments in our lives. When we let ourselves be really touched by the gift of their presence, they leave something precious in our hearts. As long as we remain at the level of doing things for people, we tend to stay behind our barriers of superiority. We ought to welcome the gift of the poor with open hands. Jesus says, “What you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” (Jean Vanier)