God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

Commandments For The Long Haul

 

St. Peter in Prayer, Matthias Stom Via Wikimedia

St. Peter in Prayer, Matthias Stom
Via Wikimedia

Father Dan Berrigan, the Jesuit poet and activist, wrote a short book with 10 commandments for living.  His wisdom touched my heart.  Six of these follow.  A guide as we bring in 2015!  The words below are Father Berrigan’s.  Read and reread!

  Acknowledge your contingency, your helplessness.  You are a creature, not the Creator.  Only God is the self-sufficient Being.  Life works when you acknowledge this, when you accept that you can’t give yourself life.  Like all creatures you are dependent and interdependent.  All is gift.  Proper living begins with the words, “I am not God.”

Pray prayers of helplessness, gratitude and praise.  Pray always!  By your Baptism, you are a priest.  Pray as a Priest.  Hold the world up each day to God.  Hold up both its wonders and its pains.  Pray in gratitude, thanking God for life itself, for this earth, for those who love you.  Pray from your weaknesses.  “Lord, hang on to me lest I slip away from you.  Do for me what I can’t do for myself.”

Welcome and accept the present moment.  Life is what happens to you while you are planning your life.  Don’t let the busyness, pressures and heartaches of life steal the present moment from you.  Only it is real.  Drink it in, with all its cares.  It’s the only place you will experience love and joy.  If not now, when?  If not with these people, with whom?  If not here, where?

Give yourself permission to be inadequate.  Both God and nature give you permission not to be perfect.  Don’t be too hard on yourself and especially others.  Everyone falls short.  God doesn’t keep you from falling and failing, but redeems you when you do fall.  You are loved as you are!

Serve the right God!  “God”, as Julian of Norwich assures us, “is completely relaxed and courteous, himself the happiness and peace of his dear friends, his beautiful face, radiating measureless love, like a marvelous symphony.”  Don’t serve any other God than this One.  Don’t bow to any molten calf, created in the image and likeness of our own tensions and bitterness.

  Be shockingly catholic . . . earthy and wine-drinking.  Bask in the goodness of life.  We have divine permission to be happy.  God invented wine.  Jesus scandalized people with his capacity to enjoy life.  He let his heart be warmed by friends.  The Baptist was the ascetic, not Jesus.

Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 27, 2014 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Great Expectations

A Memorable Mass After 70 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure.  Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . . The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .  The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid.  The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’ birth.

A Memorable Mass
After 70 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure. Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . .
The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .
The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid. The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’ birth.

38 years ago, in 1976, a short time before Christmas, I was living in the town of Bethel (pop. 3,500), in faraway Alaska, close to the Bering Sea.  Bethel had no roads leading out from it, except one to the airport, three miles away.  The only way to visit Bethel was by plane, by way of two jet flights each day from Anchorage, 500 miles away.  Not a single road ran between Bethel and Anchorage.

One windy Saturday night I left our Rectory at the Immaculate Conception Mission to drive to the town’s Community Chapel on the other side of Bethel to offer evening Mass.  The howling, screeching wind made driving our Chevy Van extremely difficult.

Arriving early, I found it nearly impossible to coax any heat out of the oil stove.  Inside, the temperature almost equaled the outside conditions at -10 degrees F and a wind chill of -50 degree F.  I pulled the altar as close as possible to the stove and put on my vestments over my great fur parka.  To anyone present I looked like a warrior from outer space.  That night, my only congregation consisted of a young Eskimo mother and her three little boys, with ages of two, three and four.

With breath coming from my lips in clouds, I prayed the simple, touching words of the Mass . . . “The Lord be with you . . . Lift up your hearts . . . Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.”  All through the Mass, the youngest child played under the altar at my feet.  At the words of the Consecration, spoken by an ordinary human being, the Lord, The King of Kings, came down on our pour, rough altar.  After my own communion, I offered This Humble King to the little mother, with her face almost hidden in the parka.  At the finish of Mass, without a word, she and her little ones hastened out into the frightful darkness.

Emmanuel – God with us!  How consoling and uplifting to have Jesus, the humble, gracious King of Love, with us.  From His place in Heaven, He heard my words, “This is My Body . . . This is My Blood” and came down to the vast wilderness of Western Alaska to be with me and the Eskimo family.  What faith this little Eskimo mother had to venture out, with her little ones, on a winter’s night, filled with a gale-like wind, to give worship to the Child of Bethlehem.

What message did she receive in her heart that night to bring her to the Holy Child?  The shepherds, on the first Christmas night, heard heavenly voices announcing the Birth of the Savior.  Like these shepherds, the young faith filled Eskimo mother returned home, rich with heavenly gifts.

The moral of the Bethel story above is to treasure the Presence of the Child of Bethlehem in our lives.  On this Christmas Day, 2014, we will make every sacrifice to leave our warm homes to offer worship in our Houses of Prayer!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!  Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 25, 2014 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 2 Comments