June 14, 2014 – Oh, Where to Begin ….

One of my all time favorite teachers, Sr. Elaine Freund, who was my high school composition and literature teacher, when asked how long a paper should be, always replied that we should be more concerned about the quality of our work than the quantity.  I could throw this out as an excuse as to why I missed the last couple of weeks of blogging.  I didn’t want to put out an inferior product.  Of course, that hasn’t stopped me the last 286 times, so forget that.  I could say I have been busy figuring out how to get the Cardinals to score more runs,but that really hasn’t taken hold either.  I guess my real excuse is that the lazy, hazy days of summer have set in, and the creative juices just weren’t flowing as much as usual.  I have, however, continued my daily postings to our Facebook group page concerning Catholic news items, obituaries, etc., so if you are not a Facebooker, you may want to consider signing up for it.

There is no way I can touch on everything that has transpired over the last few weeks, so I’ll just hit on what I can.  Back on June 3, our parish website, http://www.maryhoc.org, celebrated 7 years of being on the world wide web.  I want to thank everyone who has supported our web ministry over this time, and for all of the compliments I continue to receive.  The Holy Spirit truly has been at work in this branch of our parish mission.  Who would have thought that we would have our Parish Directory online, or that we would have a Facebook page, or so many other online tools.  I’m excited to see what the next 7 years will bring.

Since I have written last, Pope Francis not only completed his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was successful in bringing together Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a prayer meeting on Pentecost Sunday.  People who write headlines have the chore of trying to grab people’s attention with just a few words, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a headline that suggested Pope Francis and Bartholomew not only were forging a close relationship, but had a “budding bromance.”  Um, I don’t think I would put it in those terms, but the two have established a strong personal connection based on mutual respect and a humble and yet determined approach to confronting global issues like peace and climate change.  They are said to communicate easily in Italian and share a genuine desire to work for the reunification of their respective churches, which have been split since 1054.  Francis and Bartholomew met several times during the trip and kindled reports that they want to hold a high-level “ecumenical synod” in 2025 to mark the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicea that produced the Nicene Creed. Different Orthodox and Catholic versions of the creed are one of the stumbling blocks toward unity between the two churches.  Let us pray that the efforts for peace continue between the Israelis and Palestinians, and for an end to violence in other parts of the world such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

For the third year in a row, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is sponsoring a “Fortnight for Freedom.”  The theme of this year’s Fortnight is “Freedom to Serve.”  It will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2014, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.  Be on the lookout on our website and on our Facebook page for prayer resources and other information.  You can also go to http://www.fortnight4freedom.org.

Last Sunday on Pentecost we celebrated the birthday of the church.  We Catholics should be proud of our faith, even though we may look at things a little differently than others.  Some words have a little different meaning for us Catholics.  For example, the word “Mass” to others is a scientific measurement of the amount of space something takes up, whereas for Catholics it is where you should spend at least one hour of your week.  The word “Lent” to others is past  tense for the word “lend,” as in “I lent him some money,” whereas for Catholics it is the time of the year when you determine what addictions you still have some control over.  The word “elbow” to others is the main hinge joint in an arm, whereas for Catholics it is what your mom throws into your ribs when you fall asleep during homily.  The word “collection” to others is a group of objects kept or stored together, whereas for Catholics it means trying to scrounge up a crumpled one-dollar bill to put it the collection basket so you won’t feel like a heathen.  Finally, the word “father” to others is a more formal term for “dad,” whereas for Catholics it means a spiritual mentor whom you wouldn’t dare swear in front of.

Speaking of fathers, I wish all of our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, foster fathers, and any other fathers I failed to mention a very Happy Father’s Day!  We of course also remember our fathers who are deceased, that the Lord welcome them into the kingdom of heaven.  I also wish our spiritual fathers – our priests – a Happy Father’s Day!  All of our fathers have made sacrifices for us that we can never repay.  We especially pray for the current Father of our Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who showed that his 77 year old body may actually be human as he needed a couple of days of rest on Monday and Tuesday to recover from a recent brutal schedule.  Thankfully, he was back at it on Wednesday.

I think that covers at least some of it.  Have a great week.  Peace.

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