Monday, April 24, 2017

Fr. Chuck's Column, April 23, 2017

ALLELUIA! We survived Easter! Thanks to all who made this celebration so special: the lectors, ushers, servers, environment decorators, musicians, Eucharistic ministers, my brother priests, and all who attended and sang and prayed. ALLELUIA!
Meanwhile, the renovation of our church exterior continues. The large stone cross on top of the tower has been removed. It was held on literally by chicken wire and aluminum foil. I breathed easier after it was taken down. All the stone has now been taken off the exterior of the tower, and by the time you read this they should be removing the stone from the front of the church. They will start at the top and work their way down to the bottom. Once there, they will then start installing the new stone, starting this time at the bottom and working their way up. It should take a couple of months. Then they will go on to replace the front of the rectory.
They also have been busy in the interior of the first floor of the rectory, framing out the new nursery and the new, more usable meeting space. Through all this my brother Paulists have been extraordinarily patient and understanding with the noise, the dust, the disruption of construction crews wandering through our house, etc. We will all be glad when it is done.
And after all the stone work is completed, construction will begin on the new lobby and bathrooms. The lobby will be an additional entrance onto Guadalupe Street that will open onto the new bathrooms.
Meanwhile, a crew from Illinois is working on cleaning, repairing, re-patching and sealing the exterior walls on the other three sides of the church and rectory. That is a tough job, and it has taken them many tries with different products to find what will work best on our stubborn stains. But they are persistent and are getting results. One parishioner told me that she was pleasantly surprised with the results of one test section and that it reminded her of Jerusalem! Needless to say, that made my day. If we can go from being a gray, grungy and particularly unattractive exterior to reminding people of Jerusalem, we will really have accomplished something worthwhile in this project.
So as we go through the noise, dust and disruptions, know that it is all for a good cause. Thanks to all the donors of this project, thanks to the architects and engineers and Property Committee and those who figured this project out, thanks to the workers and contractors and laborers who are making it happen, thanks to all of you for your patience and support. We will soon have not only a beautiful church community but a beautiful church exterior to match. 

HOMILY Second Sunday of Easter April 22/23, 2017

          It is Easter Sunday night, and the disciples, fearful and afraid are hiding in a locked room.  They are terrified that what happened to their leader, Jesus, would now happen to them.  I too would be afraid if I were in their sandals.
          Suddenly, without warning, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them: “Where were you guys on Friday when I needed you?  Some “friends” you jerks turned to be.”  Then Jesus showed them his hands and his side.  “See what happened to me because you guys all deserted me?” he taunted them.  “Well now I am back and it is a whole new show!”  And with that Jesus blasted them all to smithereens. 
          The young Sylvester Stallone plays Jesus.
          Fortunately for us, that is NOT what happened.  Instead of blaming, or criticizing, or accusing, Jesus’ first words were “Peace be with you.”  Jesus had every reason to be bitterly disappointed, upset and angry at the Apostles.  But instead Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”
          Then Jesus showed them his hands and his side.  Why?  So they could see the wounds.  Not to shame or embarrass the Apostles, but to show to them the ultimate proof of His love for them and for us. 
          Jesus again says “Peace be with you.”  Then Jesus does something extraordinary.  He sends them out on mission.  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  
          What?!?  These guys have just proven conclusively that they are worse than useless. Not only do they desert him and run away, but like Peter they deny that they know him.  So it is remarkable that Jesus now entrusts His mission to them. 
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
          But Jesus knows what He is doing.  He knows His death and resurrection changes everything.  His death and resurrection usher in a whole new phase of history, a fundamental and epic change in humanity.  Because now the Holy Spirit is powerfully sent into the world. 
          Jesus breathed on them, just like God had breathed the breath of life into the first man, so Jesus is now making them new with new life in the Spirit.  
          Jesus said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.   Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
          This is the initiation of a whole new relationship with God, due to the saving death and resurrection of Jesus.
          Each of us has been baptized into that new relationship with God in Jesus Christ.  We too have been given the Holy Spirit.  This means we are to no longer to live in the old way of force and revenge, of getting even and grabbing all we can for ourselves, but rather to live in the new way of forgiveness and peace. 
          We do not do this because of our own inherent goodness and virtue, because we are such great and holy people, but rather because we have been given the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in a whole new way.  The way of Jesus.  The way of forgiveness, not revenge.  The way of holiness, not sin.  The way of Life, not death. 
          The Gift of the Holy Spirit empowers you to live in a whole new way.  Follow Jesus!
This morning at this Mass, three children, Jolene, Emmaline and Caroline, will be Baptized.  They will receive the precious gift of the Holy Spirit just as the Apostles did in that locked room so many years ago.  We pray that the Holy Spirit will be strong in their lives, and in ours too. All this is due to the saving death and resurrection of Jesus.  

Happy Easter!  Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fr. Chuck's Column, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! ALLELUIA!
It is wonderful to have you with us on this most Holy Day!  Thank you for joining in our celebration of Jesus Christ’s triumph over sin and over death. THANK YOU also for your patience and understanding as we live and celebrate our way through all the dust and inconvenience of the major renovation of the exterior of our church. Easter happens regardless!
May this celebration of the victory of Christ’s love fill you will Joy and Happiness!  The Resurrection of Jesus has changed all history and given it new and limitless meaning. It is because of the great event that we celebrate today that you and I have a future, indeed an eternal future. A future of LIFE and of LOVE!!! Alleluia!

So don’t be sad, don’t worry, don’t brood over injuries and bad times and misfortunes. Today is a time to REJOICE and be GLAD.  Life has purpose and meaning. Life is filled with infinite worth and possibility. Death has been conquered! Sin has been overcome! Any other problem is very small potatoes. We have great reason to rejoice. And your presence today adds to the JOY!
Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! ALLELUIA!