#Greg

Remembering the Old Prayers

As an eight year old boy attending Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in Long Beach, I would ride my bike in the morning dark the two miles to serve as an altar boy at the 6:30 weekday mass. Ours was the last class to learn the Latin mass and my memorization of the Confiteor (the “I confess” prayer) was haphazard at best.  Entering the sacristy to don my cassock, old Father Daily would quietly nod at me while smoking a cigarette and reading the sports page.  He had some patience with us boys as we sleepily fumbled over the Latin rite kneeling on the cool stone floor, offering him cruets of water and wine. Sister Miguel would feed us small boxes of cereal and milk after mass since we had left home fasting for the Eucharist. She would finger the large black beads of the rosary which draped about her corpulent torso while we finished our morning repast.  Like the rosary circling her waist, this church surrounded me, and continues to surround me, with her imperfect and blessed people praying, laughing, and crying our way to heaven.

by Andrew

Witness to Love

Throughout the gospels Jesus shows me the ABC’s of love. He unfalteringly exhibits this love through acts of healing, forgiveness and acceptance. The woman at the well, the story of the Good Samaritan, the woman caught in adultery, the healing of the Centurion’s servant, the thief on the cross, the lost sheep; everywhere and always Jesus reveals his mercy. His love is never contingent on a person’s religious practice, ethnicity, country of origin or “worthiness”.  His is a love without concern for borders, religion, race, language or politics.  So for me, I’m going to follow Christ, no matter how unpopular or odious it may be to the powers of this world. I will be a witness of love for the poor, the homeless, the stranger, the marginalized, the demonized, the forgotten, the imprisoned, the sinful and the difficult to love among us. God says it. My Catholic faith teaches it. I believe it. “Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:8

by Andrew

Fully Alive

The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” John 11:44

Lazarus! Everyone knows this name.  In Lenten time, we know that Good Friday is closing in when once again we witness the drama of Lazarus being played out in Sunday’s gospel. Death and its attendant sorrow and pain are in full force with wailing mourners, Martha and Mary, Jesus and his disciples showing love and solidarity, sharing in loss, weeping.  Jesus, so fully alive, all man, all God, conscious of the cross that awaits him, was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  The author of life, Emanuel, God with us, weeping with us, walking with us, laughing with us, always and everywhere for us, blessing and blessing and blessing us with this one and only precious life, is our model of being wholly and authentically alive.  Unbind me Lord and take away that which blinds me so that this day I may be fully alive.

by Andrew

Called to be Beacons

Over there,

on the horizon,

the sun has just touched the outermost

fringe of the western sky with light.

Sinking into the ocean,

the living ball of fire

wakes and trembles

for the other side to witness.

Sunset, sunrise, gradually lighting

each day with new

possibilities and hope.

Comforting anyone afflicted

left in the dark.

We, too,

rise and fall

each day bringing light

to each person we meet.

We bring God’s fire energy

to ignite other souls.

Carrying the light of Christ,

is worth the load and the grace

it reveals in the lighted path.

We are called to be beacons,

shining hope and blessing in the world around us.

by Liz

Seeing Clearly

If I see with clear lenses, the eyes of Christ, then I see the light and goodness all around me. How I see anything is how I see everything so if I have lenses that see everything and everyone as a threat or a menace then I am in chronic angst, hunkering down in the bunker of my opinion.  The refugee becomes a distressed brother instead of a potential terrorist. The undocumented person fleeing real danger and economic disaster becomes a suffering sister and not an “illegal alien.”  Bishop Kevin Vann and the rest of our Catholic leadership are busily resisting the darkness, setting up sanctuaries in our sanctuaries and finding ways to protect our suffering human family. What in my vision is keeping me from having the eyes of Christ, the eyes of Light and Love?

https://www.rcbo.org/resource/immigration/

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22

by Andrew

 

Loving Life

Yesterday I took my dog Koa, a gregarious golden retriever, on a hike in the local foothills above San Juan Capistrano.  As I was parking the truck, Koa cried with joy and anticipation at the sight of one of his favorite forays. The hillside was tucked in by a cool blanket of fog with the grasses and wildflowers heavy with dew.  Once off leash, he sprang like a racer up the rutted road with a joy that can only be named pure and true.  In that instant, as he romped in the wet grass, nipping at lupine and sweet peas, I saw a creature of God, loving the thing for which he was made!  Alive and free, Koa ran and leaped and sniffed and filled all his senses, fully experiencing the joy of being.  Like him I was given a life with gifts and desires.  When am I most loving my life, this great gift that Love has given?

by Andrew

Be Open to the Spirit

For many years my wife and I have accompanied the second year confirmation classes on their weekend retreat. The teens are restless and insecure  and many of them clearly do not even want to be there.  The first talk of every retreat is given by a retreat team member encouraging everyone to open their minds and their hearts to the experience.  As an adult group facilitator I can always spot the shy kids or the popular outgoing characters who are afraid to drop their defenses and experience vulnerability. Other teens seem more willing to enter into the retreat, sharing themselves on a deep and intimate level. Some may come out of hiding on the second day and others have their shields up the whole weekend.  It’s only the second week of Lent.  How open am I being on this forty day retreat?  Do I still have layers to peel away so that the gentle Spirit of God can do Her work?  It’s time to get real.

by Andrew

Strength to Weep

In this world, in this culture, in digital time, to weep is weakness. Love is contingent, compassion is an emoji and friendship is “friending”. I silo my wealth and bury my emotions, guarding a brittle heart against the ever-encroaching tide of the Word Made Flesh.  What if I awoke to the sound of Christ knocking on my palace door? Would I have the strength to unlock the deadbolts of my heart and, in the ensuing torrent of tears, find the courage to respond to the poor and marginalized in my own neighborhood? The cost of tears is a heart without hinges. Infinite God, let me find you immanent and incarnate in my brothers and sisters. Give me the strength to weep like Jesus.“Jesus wept.”John 11:35

by Andrew