Anointing The Sick

Peace to you!

This weekend Jesus sends his disciples out and equips them with authority over unclean spirits so they drive out many demons and anoint with oil many who were sick and cure them!  Perhaps today is a good opportunity to reflect on the power and grace given in the Sacrament of the Sick and the life-giving power in the proclamation of the Gospel.

The first point about the Sacrament of the Sick I have noticed is that many people do not fully understand what it is.  Such people call and ask for “the last rites.”  Sadly, many of them wait too long so that by the time the priest arrives the person has already died without receiving the sacrament or they have been left to suffer for a long time without the consolation of the Holy Spirit.  This is truly unfortunate because when death is approaching, it is a time when the dying person and their families need God’s help the most and that’s what this sacrament brings: pardon of sins and the consolation and grace of the Holy Spirit!

The Sacrament of the Sick is intended to serve the needs of those who are seriously ill, preparing for surgery, struggling with a chronic condition, in the event of serious spiritual need, when a poor condition worsens or to alleviate the gravity of old age.  The various forms of mental illness are also alleviated through this sacrament as well as persistent grief or depression due to grief.

It is important for everyone to understand that the sacraments are for the living; not the dead.  When a serious condition begins, it is time to ask for this sacrament.

I make an effort to make this sacrament available every Friday after the 12 noon Mass and frequently provide it after Mass on Saturdays and Sundays right in my office.

If you have need of it please ask for it and if you know someone who needs it, please speak to them about it first then contact me.  If you are not sure if you should receive this sacrament or not, simply ask whether or not you should.  May God continue to bless you in every way! +++ Fr. Peter

Be Open To God’s Plan!

Peace be with you!

Through the Gospel and readings last week we were given an idea of how important it is to have faith.  The woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus approached Jesus in a desperate state of faith and both experienced a miracle—unexpected but never the less hoped for.  The woman was healed and the deceased daughter was raised back to life.  The accounts of Jairus and the woman also provided a lesson of contrast between those who came to Jesus in deep, sincere faith and those who did not.

This weekend too we are given a lesson about faith but in a different way.  At the end of the Gospel we read that Jesus “was amazed at their lack of faith.”

For me, the Gospels over these two weekends work together to form two bookends: a matching set of opposites.  In order to grasp the contrast of deep, sincere faith and something less, we have to remember the other characters in the stories besides the woman and Jairus.  The crowd that was pressing in upon Jesus all wanted something from him but only the woman was healed.  The people at Jairus’ house all ridiculed Jesus when he told them the girl was only asleep—then he put them out!  In a way, they put themselves out by not being open to a possibility that was unbelievably good.

This weekend Jesus has returned home and the people are amazed at his wisdom and knowledge and the stories of the great things he accomplished yet, they looked down on him.  We get a strong sense that the negative attitude and preconceived notions of the people actually prevent Jesus from performing “any mighty deed there.”  For God to do things for us, we need to believe and ask, then we need to hope and believe that he can and will.

A few questions arise for us from the two lessons:  Is my heart open to experience God’s plan of salvation for me?  Or do I have a plan that God is supposed to accomplish for me?  How do I deal with pain and disappointment when things don’t go the way I want?  Do I truly come before God in a simple, sincere trust when I ask for help?  Am I grateful for finding blessing in the unpleasant and painful as well as the pleasant and good things in my life?  These are all matters of faith and trust and we are continually challenged to grow to new levels.  God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Dare To Approach Jesus!

Peace be with you all!

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, a theologian and spiritual writer, described a state of being that is natural to the human person in one of his articles.  “At the center of our lives there is an innate tension.  On the one hand, something in us wants to be different, to stand out, be separate and show itself to be unique and independent.  We have an equally strong, almost contradictory impulse that yearns for unity, community, family and intimacy, connection, solidarity and oneness with others and the world.”

In the Gospel stories, we see the people who stand out as those who approach Jesus in a state of humble, vulnerability and faith with a deep need for another person’s help.  The crowd represents those who are not seeking God at that level.  The woman with the hemorrhage is a great image for the socially ostracized and the one who feels unclean or unworthy within, or the person who feels like a persistent slow leak is draining them of life and hope.  It could be from some hurt from the past that no ordinary doctor or medication can heal.  It could be an addiction.  Jairus, a competent and upper-class individual, who falls to his knees before Jesus offers an image of what it is to be overwhelmed with worry, fear, helplessness and desperation.  Jesus’ response to those who approach him in complete sincerity is the same: the fountain of his Merciful Heart pours forth a grace of healing and deliverance, and in the little girl’s case, the grace of final salvation.

As baptized Christians, we have to make an effort to overcome our desire for independence in order to approach Jesus in the same way as the woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus.  Frequently, it is only through difficult events and situations that we become aware of our deep need for the help of God and others.  Sometimes the process takes years but it doesn’t have to.  There are many stories of those who came to the point when they called to God from the depths of their heart and soul.   They always remember God’s loving response.  There is nothing like it.  They will never forget it.  Do you need God’s help?  Do you want to be part of something far greater than your own personal reality?  Make a prayer of surrendering your life to God and enter the joy-filled communion of the Body of Christ.  May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Trust Jesus In Challenges!

Peace and Grace to you!

Our faith tradition is always an amazing treasure!  The readings this weekend capture a representative diversity of situations and sentiments for daily living.

Job has been trying to make sense out of the tragic misfortunes that happened in his life and ultimately concluded that God had not treated him fairly even though he himself had been just and faithful to God.  Job feels confused and lost.  It is as if a great and terrible hurricane destroyed all that he enjoyed and left him desolate and disoriented.  In response to Job’s confusion and complaint, God speaks and reminds Job of who He is.

In the Gospel we have five elements to illustrate lessons for us in daily living: the boat, the sea, the disciples, the storm and Jesus.  The boat is a frequent object and symbol in Mark’s Gospel.  It is a small place where Jesus is very close with the disciples and away from the crowds.  It also serves as an image of the Church.  The boat was a means of transportation by which Jesus and the disciples journeyed together to bring the message of salvation to the world around them.  The sea represents the forces of nature, mystery, and when aroused, it represents chaos and the abode of the dead.  The storm in classical literature is always related to the human experience of confusion, passion, disorientation, change, loss and sentiments of fear and powerlessness.  The disciples are those who are close to Jesus and journey with him in a special way to bring the Gospel to other people in different cultures and towns than their own.  This represents ALL the people of the Church.  At times, there are challenges and seemingly insurmountable forces and obstacles in the way.  Just as for the disciples in the story, there can occur in daily living the whole gamut of thoughts and emotions that are not rooted in the peace of God: a sense of peril, jealousy, anger, resentment and even fear of harm or loss of life.  In times such as these, we have to use our faith and call out to God who spoke to Job from the midst of the storm!  It is the same voice, Jesus, who rose in the midst of the disciples’ peril and spoke to the sea.  The sea and all forces of nature obey his voice– just as the chaos did in the beginning—all our fears and passions too are subject to his power to save.  Have confidence in Jesus for he is near and will respond to all your needs!  May God bless and save you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Spreading The Gospel

Peace and grace to you all!

In the June/July 2007 issue of the Catholic Extension Magazine a news item was mentioned that demonstrates part of the Gospel message this weekend: from small things, big things one day come.  On June 16, 1907, the Catholic Extension Society dedicated its first railway chapel car, the St. Anthony, to bring Mass and the sacraments to churchless areas on the frontier in America.  Two more chapel cars were built later on – the St. Peter and the St. Paul.  Many churches sprung up throughout the country after visits by these churches on wheels.  One Church was St. Catherine of Sienna in Mill City, Oregon.  There was a sizeable Catholic population in the area and many people came from nearby Jordan, who were mostly German Catholics, to see the chapel car and hear the Gospel and have the sacraments.  Jordan became the site of the first Trappist Monastery in Oregon and the foundation site of the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon whose Mother House is now located at Murray Blvd. and the Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton.  I am friends with two of the Sisters, Sr. Michael and Sr. Krista, and I occasionally get to visit them!

This kind of story from our local area reminds us that first impressions and humble beginnings can frequently grow to greater and lasting realities.  As people entrusted with the mission to advance the Gospel, one of the most important things to remember is that first impressions are important!  Many Catholics feel uneasy or afraid when it comes to talking about their faith with non-Catholic people.  Why is that?  We have a lot to be proud of and so much to share with others!  A couple of points that are important to remember about faith traditions: living your faith in the day to day relationship with God is a prerequisite for talking about it.  An important question you might ask yourself each day is “how is my faith important to me right now?”  Of equal importance is to never criticize or put down another person no matter their belief.  Also it’s never a matter of who is right or wrong.  As Catholics, we believe in giving dignity and respect to every person—it’s a debt we owe by love.  Reading Scripture, articles or books about Saints or the Catholic Church can help you feel more comfortable, more knowledgeable and more at ease when faith comes up as a topic for discussion but the most important element of all is the personal relationship of love we have in Jesus!   God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Corpus Christi

Peace to you!

This weekend the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  As the Church teaches us, we know that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life.  Echoes of the desert experience of our ancestors from the Book of Exodus remind us that God is ever-faithful in love and care for his people: it’s a Covenant relationship.  Today, we have a much deeper knowledge and experience of God’s love and care for us in the Eucharist because it is the real and true presence of Christ that far surpasses the Manna of the desert which prefigured the Eucharist.  Jesus established the celebration of the Eucharist as the New and Eternal Covenant.

Many Catholics, when they hear the words “Body and Blood of Christ,” visualize in their minds the consecrated Host and chalice at Mass.  We remember (anamnesis: Greek) when Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood with his disciples and we enter more deeply into the New and Everlasting Covenant in Christ and the whole Christian family each time we celebrate it.  St. Paul reminds of this when he tells us that “we, though many, are one body.”  For us, Christ’s sacrifice and gift of the Eucharist is not only an event at Mass; it is not only the real presence of God hidden in the gifts of bread and wine, it is also a living relationship that each one of us has with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and with each other.  The Eucharist brings us together as the Body of Christ to be the real and true sign of God’s presence in the world.  As we grow in our faith journey, we realize ever more deeply that the Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist.  This is a living reality that defies definition because it is a divine mystery.  But we are caught up in it, we share in the very life of the Holy Trinity!  Imagine what our Catholic family could be like if we were always consciously aware that each person is a living Host, a tabernacle of the real and true presence of God.  Therese of Lieseux came to realize that she was a small Host given for the world in love.  In one of the hymns that we sing at Mass, the words of a prayer of St. Augustine are quoted: “eating your body, drinking your blood, we become what we receive.”  May we continue to grow in recognition of the love and goodness of God in the Eucharist and, like Therese, that we can live more perfectly the Eucharist in relation with other people.  God’s blessings to you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Holy Trinity

Peace and grace to you!

This weekend the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.  It seems fitting that this feast should follow Pentecost because Jesus frequently referred to the Father before and after his death.  Then following his death and resurrection, he promised that the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, would come upon them and remain with the community.  The mighty wind signaled the presence and action of the Spirit among the disciples at Pentecost.  So at this point of revelation, God is understood as three distinct persons but of one divine nature: Father as Origin and Source of All that is; Son as Word of God, Savior and Redeemer; Spirit as the Animator, Indwelling Love and Guiding Light of God’s people, thus comes the Christian knowledge of God as the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Trinity always defies our complete understanding but there are a couple of things that are very clear.  God is completely relational, which is to say that God is an eternal spring of interested and active love!  God is completely in love with each one of us, personally!  Jesus came as a human being to restore the relationship between human beings and God.  Jesus expressed himself as God by being entirely loving and merciful during his life and ministry.  He showed us this love by healing us, embracing suffering and death to expiate us from sin.  Now we have the presence of the Holy Spirit nourishing us with the Word and the Eucharist, guiding us in right faith and inspiring us to continue the work of Jesus in the world.  We have been anointed by the Holy Spirit to act in God’s name in the world because we share in his divine life—what an amazing gift!  One of the greatest things to contemplate is that you and I and all the baptized receive the Holy Spirit inside of us, working within us!  We are sharers in the divine life of the Trinity!

This week the disciples receive a commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  This great commission is yours and mine and we do it when we put our faith in action and trust Jesus’ words “behold, I am with you always!”  May God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

Come Holy Spirit!

May God the Holy Spirit glow within you!

This weekend we celebrate Pentecost which is also the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and disciples of Jesus uniting them in one, Spirit, one faith and one Lord.

When we speak about spirit on a personal level, we are usually referring to something about matters of interest or passion in life.  We notice people who are filled with a kind of spirit: a team spirit, a school spirit, a work spirit, and a family spirit.  People of spirit are fired with a special passion, love and energy for particular things.  You can hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes and on their face and it shows in the way they spend their time and money.  Their whole heart is into it.  They get excited about it and they are obviously more animated and energized while they are engaged in what they love.

Understanding spirit at a personal level helps us to better grasp why God gave us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The presence of the Holy Spirit makes people on fire for Jesus and the Gospel!  The Holy Spirit builds, unifies, animates and sanctifies the Church.  The Holy Spirit is Truth, guiding us in the truth of God!  The Holy Spirit is the breath of God speaking and inspiring action in the members of Christ’s body, the Church.  The Holy Spirit is the gift of enlightenment and sure sign that we are God’s people: God’s adopted sons and daughters.  The gift of  fiery faith that we have from the Spirit is not like the flame of a match that can be blown out by the wind or drowned by water. No, the gift of God the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is an eternal, unquenchable, loving fire that drives us into action and ministries.  The Holy Spirit within us loves to be shared and expressed with other people in prayer and good works.  Its fruits are purity, gentleness, kindness, generosity, joy, peace, hospitality, healing, forgiveness and unity.  The Holy Spirit equips the Church in its mission by filling the members with gifts and inspiring them to action for building up God’s Kingdom.  I hope that all of us will open ourselves more fully to the Holy Spirit this year.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to ignite us with God’s pure love and passion for life and goodness and share this joy with others! +++ Fr Peter

The Ascension Exalts Humanity!

Peace to all at St. Edward!

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord that we celebrate this weekend completes a full circle of faith for us.  When the Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, the beginning of the restoration of humanity foretold by the prophets had begun.  We recognize by faith the marriage of human nature with divine nature, the union of mankind with God in the person of Jesus who is fully God AND fully human.  We know that Jesus’ mission was to rescue the human race and restore the image of the human person as God created them.  We recognize the love and intimacy in the way God chose to do this—by becoming human as one of us.  The Ascension makes this wondrous restoration in a spectacular way.  God was not satisfied that we should know Jesus as the one who suffered and died to take away our sins: Our Redeemer, Our Rescuer, Our Savior.  This was not enough!  Jesus raised his human body from the tomb of death and showed himself to the disciples as being alive!  He reveals the resurrection as a new life that is a lived experience for those who follow him.  Now Jesus takes his human body to heaven where it is enthroned at the “right hand of the Father”!   Just sit back and contemplate this event.  Let the shock of God’s exaltation of the human person sink in to your heart and mind!  Jesus raised human status from condemnation, to enthronement at God’s right hand—above all angels and united with God!   I hope that everyone can feel a new confidence in the love that God is extending to each person.  Once the restoration in Jesus is understood and accepted, no one will doubt or stand looking up into the sky.  We will work together diligently to make disciples of all nations, bringing them to the waters of regeneration in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  This is an amazing rebirth and joy!  It is time to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit that we may be builders of the great and eternal kingdom!  God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

Love One Another

May the splendor of the risen Christ fill your hearts and minds!

Jesus tells us this weekend that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

In this Gospel the word love is used many times.  In everyday life we hear the word love used frequently and in a lot of different ways: I love sunsets, I love whipped cream and peanuts on top of my banana split, I love family gatherings, and etc.  All of which are good things and it is important that we have them.  But when we go beyond the things that we like or being open only to things that conform to what we think they should be, we begin to understand what Jesus is saying.  It’s good to remind ourselves that Jesus had to make a human effort to keep his Father’s commandments in order to remain in his love and so in like manner we have to make an effort to remain in the same love.  We know that the core of the love that he calls us to is a sacrificial, self-surrendering love.  It is a kind of giving that focuses completely on God and the other person.  Like a boy who gives his coat and hat to his sister to keep her warm and protect her from the cold.  Or a mother who rises early to prepare meals and make sure her family has clean clothes to wear.  Or a father who is always watchful for the safety and well-being of his wife and children repairing the house or the car and lots of other things.  Many of us really enjoy making sacrifices for others and I know that is because the Spirit of Jesus lives within us.  We do especially well when we surrender our hearts and desires to God and give the sacrifices we make to those we love or think well of.  Today Jesus calls us deeper.  Another part of the giving we do is forgiving.  In order to remain in God’s love like Jesus, he shows us how to forgive.  Fathers must be ready to forgive sons.  Sons must be ready to forgive fathers just like mothers must be ready to forgive daughters and daughters must be ready to forgive mothers.  Brothers and sisters must be ready to forgive each other and friends must also be ready to forgive each other.  If we do this, and keep the command to love one another, we can remain in his love!  May God give you strength in mercy! +++ Fr. Peter