Saying Yes

Over the years while leading Bible studies, participating in RCIA to help folks fully enter the Catholic Church, or just in the odd discussion, I try to make a point about the most basic purpose of Sacred Scripture. It is simply this: for God to reveal God’s self to us – an invitation to a personal and communal covenant relationship. God tells us about God’s self through stories, the people’s experience of God in the history of Israel, and most especially in his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Think about the stories of our ancestors in faith. Basically, they all begin with an invitation to begin, follow, and slowly learn about God. My reading of the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Moses, King David, the prophets, and more all began with an invitation. Their encounter with God led them to a journey of an ever-deepening relationship with God. Along the way there are plenty of questions – some as simple as Moses’ inquiry about the name of God: “if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what do I tell them?” (Ex 3:13)  The same pattern is played out in Jesus’ calling the apostles from their fishing boats, tax collection stations, and other endeavors. Calling them to leave all behind and journey with him for three years: from Galilee to Calvary. Continue reading

Adjustments

I used to camp and backpack in the wilds of Virginia and West Virginia. Generally, it was just for a weekend – maybe two or three days – along with a group of friends. We would carry everything in/out. I remember having fun, enjoying it all, but I always felt like I needed a day to recover. Perhaps it was the infrequency of carrying a load, the hiking, and all that goes with the adventure, but come Monday, there was always a stiffness about my neck, arms, shoulders, upper back and all the rest that is connected to those parts.  I could still feel the aftereffects of the pack’s burden.  “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” It sounded like the perfect scripture for the post-camping Monday mornings. Continue reading

Making Your Life Count

The readings from daily Mass this week past should have been labeled “King and Prophet week.” Every day the first readings was a narrative about one of the Kings of Israel or Judah, a summary of their reign, and the proclamation of the prophets which came before them with the living Word of God. Prophets like Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; as well as prophets whose names are unfamiliar to us; and prophets whose names were not recorded in Sacred Scripture. Kings that might not be familiar to you, but are a cast of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Two of the best were part of the narrative: Hezekiah and Josiah – kings held in almost the same esteem as King David – godly men who understood their role as leader – to lead the people of God more deeply into the covenant life and promises of God. Two of the worst were recounted: Hoshea the last of the northern kings and Zedekiah, the last of the Kings of Judah. They ruled with iniquity as had most of their predecessors.  When they disappeared into exile, the time of Kings passed and all of Israel and Judah followed int exile, the promised land lost. Continue reading

Fountain fullness of love

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, our parish namesake. We celebrate what St. Bonaventure identified as the source of the fountain fullness of love poured into our hearts. Our hearts, in Latin the word is “cor” from which is derived the English word, “core” as in the core, the center of being, the center of prayer and hope, the center of our moral compass, and center of the stories that matter to us.

And today we also celebrate Father’s Day and honor the men in our lives whose presence shaped and formed us, passing on the Faith, passing on a moral compass, and letting us know where we stand in the world. All done through their experiences and passed on to us in wisdom and stories. I think we can all tell stories and recount sayings from our fathers. One of my favorite expressions from my father was “the main thing is making sure the main thing remains the main thing.” As I said, we all have our own stories. Continue reading

In relationship with lives that matter

Holy Trinity Sunday. On Trinity Sunday, we are called to reflect with joy and thanksgiving what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done to bring about redemption and the possibility of salvation for all. We celebrate to respond to the love God has shown for us, praising Him, and giving Him glory. We that we were created in the image of God, saved by God despite our sins, and our journey in this life is accompanied by God at each moment. It is a celebration and invitation to share the inner life of the Trinity. Continue reading

This Pentecost

Note: This Sunday marks our first Sunday public Mass since the beginning of the pandemic closures. It has been a busy week getting ready, planning, re-planning, and making sure our staff and volunteers are ready. Deacon Ray is taking on the homily responsibilities at the Mass I will celebrate. But in case, you might be interested, here is my homily from 2017.
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The Next Steps

USNA-graduationWe are firmly in the midst of high school and college graduation season. And sadly, this year, the rites of passage and mark of accomplishment is required to find new ways to celebrate. Ways that honor the women and men and salute their efforts…but in 2020 these events are not the joyful celebration that we had hoped for. So, all graduates, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as you celebrate and consider your next steps. Because pageantry aside, the next steps are key, defining, and part of the sea change you will experience in the next few years…. it has me thinking about my college graduation and my “next steps.”

Every institution has their own traditions and ways to celebrate – including my alma mater, the United States Naval Academy. Every May, the seniors march on to the field at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium for graduation. The women and men are dressed in their “choker” whites (future Naval Officers) and blues (future Marine Corp officers). Theses graduating midshipmen take their places, listen to the speakers of the day, walk across the stage to receive their diploma, take the oath of office, and then it happens… Continue reading

Living stones

I heard someone once refer to us as a “tourist church.” At one level that is certainly a compliment to the grandeur of the church structure, its architecture, and art. When you enter the church, there is no doubt that you are “in church.” At another level, given our proximity to the downtown hotels and the Port of Tampa, we have tourists and all manner of visitors – and you know what – they are all most welcome. If a “tourist church” means that we are known for welcoming the visitor, the stranger, the alien, and the tourist – that is a good thing. Continue reading

Who could possibly love us?

I suspect that most of us here share a fundamental experience with sheep. First we confuse lambs and sheep. Most of us think about lambs who seem wonderfully cute, are gentle of spirit, and how can you not love them? I mean, really. And our experience is mostly limited to the petting zoo/farm context. I suspect that as children we turned to our moms and said: “Mom can we have one? I promise to feed him and take care of him….. please…!!” Continue reading