It has been a while since my last post. I think I may have a good reason. Just days after my last post in November, Marist High School celebrated 55 years of teaching and coaching by Mr. Ed Hummel. I was asked to attend and offer a blessing for Ed and arrived in time to share in the reception before the awards ceremony.
After the reception all were ushered into the gym for the ceremony and I went to the area where many of us were to be seated. As I stepped up to the second row of the bleachers I realized I had not pushed hard enough to remain erect and began falling backward, so fast that I could not act. Needless to say I landed square on my back. Unfortunately for me, my back is not designed to land squarely on it and the T11 vertebrae snapped in two. Fortunately for me the spine did not shift.
To make a long story short, I was whisked off to Sacred Heart River Bend, examined and admitted with a broken back. A week after my arrival there I was transferred to a rehab center for another two weeks or so, then returned home to recuperate. During all this time I experienced significant pain which has been slowly subsiding and have had to wear a body brace to protect my back while it is healing. I will possibly be freed from my brace by mid-February and then should be able to resume a normal life.
There are two things that stand out from this experience: I was surely blessed that the break did not make me a paraplegic and I attribute both that and my rapid recovery to the prayerful support I received from the wider community. I also am very thankful for the wonderful work of the Eugene Fire EMT's, Sacred Hear Medical staff, and the caring I received at the hands of so many good people at Avamere of Eugene.
As we approach the holy season of Lent, may we all learn to bear our crosses and learn from them the loving mercy God has called us to enjoy and the loving mercy we are called to share with one another. Thank you for helping me bear mine.
PS: BTW - as I was otherwise occupied during December and early January, I hope you had a most blessed Christmas and celebration of the New Year!!
This time of year has become very confusing ... we are not celebrating Christmas; this is Advent. Yet if you ever do leave your home the world is frantically celebrating something, and it often sounds like Christmas. Stores are festooned with holly, fir trees and mistletoe. Jolly Old St. Nich(olas), AKA Santa Claus, has taken his place in the frenzy of “Holiday” shopping.
It is the season of preparation for one grand celebration of gift-giving, ratcheted up to the Nth degree. Everywhere one goes there are sales begging people to see their goods as that perfect gift your family, friends or co-workers will find so meaningful they will be even more thankful for your presence in their lives.
Waiting gets to be so very hard; the excitement is unbelievable. We just know that there will be presents we will just love to open on Christmas morning! The best part is knowing that if it isn’t what we want we can take it back the day after Christmas and get something we really want. But that won’t happen because all our friends know us well and have listened carefully to the “hints” we started to give months ago. We know we will like our gifts, just as we know they will like the gifts we give them ... maybe.
We must admit that we are often guilty of treating Christmas as a gift exchange, just like most of the rest of the Western world (and even beyond, as Western “civilization” spreads its mores and customs to the rest of the world). We hope family and friends will gift us with wonderful things, especially those we cannot afford ourselves. Then, of course, there is the old adage about financial matter that seems to fit this season: “In God I trust, all others pay cash!” Money has always been an acceptable substitute for creativity in gift giving.
But we live in hope. Looking forward to another celebration of consumer love. Not even remembering how quickly the joy of giving turns into the disappointment of receiving. Not remembering that the generosity and personal commitment of so many good-willed people will end on midnight of Christmas day. All will return to “normal” in the blink of an eye.
It is like we have forgotten the Promise in place of all these little promises that cannot possible satisfy beyond the moment. Society has become very much secular, to the point of forgetting our roots and the whole “reason for the Season.” Christians have been co-opted into this attitude as well. When we should be preparing for God’s gift, we long for gifts of a lesser nature, or the gratitude that comes from our own efforts to be gift-givers. Ultimately neither gifts we give, not gifts we receive are as essentially necessary as the Gift of Jesus.
During this Advent maybe we can change our focus from worldly things to those that will make a difference in eternity. If we are to really provide a gift, make it a gift that changes the world and brings about the Kingdom. Maybe a gift of prayer, like the bouquet of prayers the Sisters used to give on special occasions. Send these to family and friends, co-workers and employers, governors and legislators. If something more “solid” is desired make a sustaining gift to a worthy cause: Catholic Relief Services, your local Diocesan Seminary Fund, a community of Cloistered Nuns (May I suggest the Monastery of the Angels in Los Angeles), or maybe the formation program of active Religious (May I suggest the Western Dominican Province), or a long-term pledge of support to a local worship community (May I suggest the St. Thomas More Newman Center). If something more personal is desired, maybe volunteering on a regular basis to a food bank (FOOD for Lane County is a good one).
In any case, each of these suggestions will help bring about the kingdom of God and certainly help individuals prepare for the fulfillment of the only promise that matters.
Many blessing id this Holy Season of Preparation and hope.
When Christ fed the thousands it was a sign pointing to our own call to nurture those around us.
In the last few months and weeks we have been bombarded with images of chaos and death. Whether the tragic situation in Syria or the streets of St. Louis and Chicago, New York and Los Angeles there seems to be no relief from these anti-nourish events. Meanwhile we have a political system that seems to be preying on these same incidents to make us fearful and more accepting of curtailment of freedoms and rights to which we have become accustomed in a free and democratic society. The rule of law, essential for any sense of a well ordered society, has been divorced from the principles rooted in the foundation of this and many other nations in the world. It sounds like a disaster ready for the making.
On the other hand, we need to remember that we are the cherished children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ forming one body. It is because of our intimate relationship to God that we can have hope and actually rejoice in celebration of that intimacy.
Our world is made up of so many truly good people who ultimately have the power to change the course of human activity from negative self-destruction to a wonderful celebration of our common heritage and the power of our Good God working in and through us in Christ Jesus.
It is indeed time to wake up, to be alert to the ways in which each of us can make a difference, sharing who we are through the special gifts that God has bestowed on each of us. A good listener?? Listen to the weak and frail, the outsider and the lonely. Filled with wisdom?? Help others to make wise decisions and to learn how to continue to make such decisions in the future. Blessed with a great intellect?? Be a mentor to others, especially the young and marginalized. Handy with your hands?? Help others do those things that will not only make their environment more pleasant, but also safer and more secure. Don't think you have any gifts to share?? Your life of prayer is something our world desperately needs.
There are so many other gifts people have that can help "nurture" a world so much in need of tender kindness. It does not require anything more than who you are right now.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, remember the Thanksgiving we celebrate at every Eucharist. He showed us the way, he continues to lead us on, and he nourishes us with his very self. His life is ours. We are one body. Take care of that body today.
Many blessings ...
I have had the pleasure of being confessor for many people over the years of my priesthood. My first assignment in Seattle gave me the opportunity to hear and heal a steady stream of penitents every Saturday for two hours or more (not counting walk-ins and special appointments). Upon being moved to our house in Berkeley the same blessing was present. Since then I have been in ministries where it seems the gift of Reconciliation is less valued, or maybe we just have been going about it wrong.
In this present assignment to Eugene (the third time I have been here and second as a priest) I have experienced days when no one approached the Sacrament. Might it be that Saturday afternoon is not convenient for people?? Could it be that there are no sinners? (A joyous condition indeed!). I just hope that people have not forgotten that God chose to bestow this gift of His loving kindness in Christ Jesus so that we could shed our sinful natures and be healed of all that may prevent us from living the fullness of Christ’s call to holiness – wholeness.
During the academic year the Dominican Friars have decided to try to make the Sacrament more available; Tuesday and Thursday before the 5:00pm Evening Prayer and Mass, along with the usual confessions on Saturday before the 5:00pm Mass (primarily for the permanent community), Tuesday evening during Adoration and Wednesday evening before the 9:00pm Mass (primarily for the student community). Of course both Fr. Peter and I try to be available whenever individuals ask for confession outside the normal times.
May these opportunities to receive the special graces suited to the individual needs of our people be fruitful.
Blessings and Peace
The Sacrament of Reconciliation during the academic year is normally available at St. Thomas More Newman Center:
The Dominican Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Western Dominican Province) have been operating an educational institution since about 1851. It has gone through many permutations and today is a Graduate School in Philosophy and Theology located in Berkeley, CA, just north of the UC Berkeley campus. This Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology has educated many fine Dominicans, other religious and lay people.
A recent Dominican graduate of DSPT, Bro. Bradley Elliott, OP, made some telling remarks at his graduation. A few are quoted here (via the Rosary Light and Life).
Bro. Brad said:
“I cannot be completely satisfied in this life. My mind cannot, in this life, find complete rest. Not yet. I cannot yet see Jesus Christ. I cannot yet see that single vision in which alone the mind will find perfect satisfaction. I cannot yet hold Him and embrace Him. I cannot yet hold and kiss His face; Not yet. No. Not on this side.
“But what I can do on this side of the veil is study.
“I can study all that is true. I can, here and now, begin to recognize and distinguish, in the study of truth, what the features of that face will one day look like. I can, here and now, begin to appropriate to my soul, in the study of truth, a likeness of what that awesome presence might one day be like.
“What a great gift to study philosophy and theology. What a privilege to be given the opportunity, the leisure, to study philosophy and theology.
“This is why what we do here at the DSPT is so important. The DSPT assumes that the drive of the mind to ask ultimate questions, is not in vain; rather it is at the heart of what we are as human persons. The DSPT assumes that faith and reason go together. And neither one must be checked at the door when I enter the classroom. The DSPT assumes that I am not the creator and master of my own reality as if from some self-enclosed sadness, but am rather the servant of a truth that reveals itself to all who humbly search – a truth in which we all live, move, and have out being – a truth that unites and binds us all. The DSPT has taught me that there is joy in being a servant of truth; joy in discovering it wherever it may be found; joy in learning from another; and joy in passing on that which I have learned.”
[From Rosary Light and Life – published by: rosary-center.org]
I do hope that at least a few of you find time to visit dspt.edu and rosary-center.org. Both have a wealth of opportunity waiting for you.
Blessings and Peace
Our Newman Center is working toward a more engaged and welcoming gathering of a community, aware of its blessings and eager to share them with others. Part of that journey involves our effort to establish many small groups scattered throughout the greater Eugene area, involving both students, faculty and staff, AND the greater permanent community.
Not everyone is suited for the same sorts of topics, so we hope that a variety of groups focusing on Church Documents, Scripture, Social Justice, Liturgical Readings, Life Issues, Natural and Moral Law, and whatever else may form the framework for genuine sharing of our common faith.
We have also been following the lead of another diocese in offering “Five Minute Lessons” before each Mass, presently centered on the Mass itself, but with hope that we can apply this to other topics as well. Sometimes it is just logistically difficult, if not impossible, for some to get to a formal class (not to mention, many students do not necessarily tolerate one more class in their schedule).
Do come about ten minutes early for these mini-lectures. A guarantee that they will be informative, but not taxing.
Blessings and Peace!
Flock Party at University of Oregon
Saturday, September 26, 2015
This past Friday evening I had the pleasure of visiting the University of Oregon campus during the "Flock Party." Arriving by bicycle, I greeted Bro. Pius Youn, OP and the Peer Ministers and other students gathered at the St. Thomas More Newman Center table. The crowds were in great spirit that passed by and a good number paused at the Newman table for information and to play some of the games set up for them. Each game had a prize attached to it: both the bean bag toss and the "Rice Jar Guess" offered free t-shirts. Simply signing up for the newsletter gained a slice of pizza. If that was not a draw, then maybe the lanyards, lip balm, hand sanitizer, candy and other goodies made an impression. But best of all was a cut-out picture of Pope Francis giving a thumbs-up with a big grin on his face. Many, many people had their pictures taken with with the Pope or did "selfies.'
All of this was simply to generate interest in and help people become familiar with the Newman Center and the activities planned in the next few weeks. Please do browse the Newman website and discover a potential home-away-from-home. For Catholics, it is the Catholic presence at the University and offers all the Sacraments of the Church. For everyone it offers a quiet place to study, maybe to pray, and a welcoming community of like-minded people journeying through their college years. With retreat, educational, spiritual and recreational opportunities, it just might be the right fit for you. Stop by and meet the student leaders, the staff and clergy who make this a great place to visit and maybe even a haven for those looking for peace in a sometimes hectic academic world.
Blessing and Peace!