Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Says "Goodbye"

Thank you for your service, Pope Benedict XVI. 

God's speed as you embark on a new spiritual journey. 


Live Stream of Vatican TV

Come Holy Spirit. Descend upon your Holy Church and elevate a worthy successor.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Catholicism - The New Evangelization

Catholicism creator Father Robert Barron is at it again.  This time tackling the popular and pressing issue of the New Evangelzation. 

How do Catholics share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a secular world of unbelief? 

The movie is coming out soon from Barron's Word On Fire ministries.

Here's a preview of this three-part series:


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our World Seen With New Eyes

Pioneers always see the world differently after experiencing new worlds.

Life is never the same for the pioneer because new horizons are opened up and these new horizons change our preconceived perspectives about reality forever.

Here's a beautiful, meditative modern example. 

Astronauts were deeply affected by their experiences in space. Almost all never saw the planet or its people the same again.

What can we learn from this?   How will these new perspectives change our views of planet earth and its inhabitants?  

They call what you are about to experience the "overview effect."  Enjoy the ride.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

Peace on earth.  Good will to humanity.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Statement by Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain


February 11, 2013

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle made the following statement regarding the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would resign as pope effective Feb. 28.

"Like so many Catholics here and around the world, I received the news of Pope Benedict’s decision to resign with strongly mixed feelings. His decision is clearly a very personal, spiritual one, and it expresses his unfailing care and concern for the Church he has served tirelessly throughout his life. Pope Benedict is no stranger to challenge. He grew up in Germany during the Nazi scourge. As a theologian, he advised the council fathers during the Second Vatican Council. And he served as theology professor and bishop before being called to Rome by Blessed John Paul II to assume duties as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. With his resignation, we are losing a pastor whose papacy has been marked not only by his profound fidelity to the Lord Jesus and our Catholic faith, but also his gentle and humble nature. He will be missed, but we may be assured that, as with all his decisions, his announcement today was made prayerfully and for the benefit of the Church and all people of faith.

Having had the opportunity to meet him on several occasions, I have always been struck by his humility and kindness. A brilliant theologian, he is also a caring pastor who looks one straight in the eye and listens carefully. A prolific writer even before his election as pope, he has continued to teach clearly with his encyclicals and books. As pastor of the universal Church, he has reminded us particularly of the truth that faith must issue forth in love, and thus that not only individual Christians but the Church herself must reach out to those who suffer around the world. His 2008 visit to the United States was a landmark occasion for many of us, and I was personally moved by his presence.

In these final days of his pontificate, we will pray for his health and offer thanks to God for his extraordinary ministry as Pope. And with Catholics around the world, we will pray to the Holy Spirit for the Cardinals who will soon elect his successor."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homily - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Call Story

Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
1Corinthians 15:1-11

I love a good “Call” story.  And this weekend we get to hear three of the best stories of God “calling” someone to serve His Kingdom.
Isaiah and his amazing visions of heaven.  Paul’s retelling of how Jesus dramatically broke into his life.  And Peter who feels so unworthy, yet would become the foundational bedrock of our Catholic Church.
The beautiful thing to keep in mind as we let these readings soak in is this important point:  Jesus takes us just as we are -- flaws and all.   God makes imperfect people perfect when He calls us to serve His Kingdom.

I am reminded of something I saw on Facebook recently from a friend who works in ministry for the Salvation Army.   He posted:  “I'm just a nobody trying to tell everybody about a somebody.”

          Isn’t that true of Isaiah, Paul and Peter.  And these nobodies became towering giants with God at their sides.

            I want to share with you a modern day “call” story of another nobody:  Stanley Francis Rother was a humble farm boy from Okarche, Oklahoma.  He was not a very good student, but he knew his way around the farm.  And he could do just about anything involving manual labor.

            But God had other plans for his life. 

            Jesus broke into Stan’s life and called him to the priesthood. 

But he failed miserably at seminary, flunking out after being defeated by Latin.  The language of the Church never stuck.  And he was booted because of it.

            But this was the early 1960s and a change was coming to the Catholic Church. Vatican II would gift all Catholics with the ability to hear scripture and the entire Mass in our native tongues. 

            A supportive Bishop gave Stan a second chance and off he went to a seminary in Maryland where Latin was not an emphasis.

            During his time there, Stan was best known for organizing students to improve a grotto than for his scholarly work.  But graduate he did, and in 1963, Fr. Stan Rother was ordained and assigned to a parish in his home state of Oklahoma. 

            After a few years, his Bishop asked Fr. Stan if he would accept assignment in a sister parish adopted by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma.

            So, Fr. Stan packed his Chevy and drove two-thousand miles to the mountainous lake region of Atitlan, Guatemala, landing in the largest community Santiago Atitlan.
            Remember, this is a man who struggled with languages.  Now he had to learn Spanish and eventually the Tzutuhill Mayan language.

            When God hops into our boat we know we are headed for deep waters, but it’s usually a place where we catch many fish.

When Fr. Rother arrived in 1968, the assignment was peaceful enough.  He would serve with several other priests and a couple of nuns.

In his first few years, he learned Spanish, experimented with crops on the parish farm lands, installed new stained glass windows, refurbished the altar, and became beloved for being the only Gringo priest to visit the modest homes of parishioners, sit on their dirt floors and break bread over a meal of wild greens and tortillas.
            Eventually, he would be handed the parish to run on his own. 

            And remember his struggles with Latin?  Fr. Stan became fluent in Spanish and Tzutuhill Mayan and eventually would translate the Gospel into the Mayan language and began to do Mass in their native tongue, too.

            The people who tended the fields admired the priest “who was as comfortable atop a tractor as he was at the altar."

            He was beloved.  He found heaven on earth.  He became known not as Fr. Stan, but Padre "A'plas," a Tzutuhill translation of his middle name Francis.  This was a sign of love and affection to be honored with a Mayan name.

            Every Mass, the little hands of the Mayan children would lead Fr. Stan to and from the altar as he would celebrate Mass.  It was a beautiful life.

            But his dream was about to turn into a nightmare.

In 1980, a clash was brewing between natives emboldened by the Gospel’s message of Liberation and a government with its sights set on wiping out the native population.

            While many priests and catechists were preaching Liberation Theology, Fr. Stan wanted no part of efforts to criticize the government.   He was no radical.  He refused to preach rebellion.

            He just wanted to tend his flock in peace and harmony.

            But in the fall of 1980, the military moved into the mountainous Atitlan area to stamp out a growing native rights movement. 

Everybody got labeled a “Communist troublemaker” if they stood up for or behind the Mayan natives.

            Then the disappearances started and word of murder and torture spread.

            One of Fr. Stan’s brightest catechists was kidnapped before his very eyes one night, screaming to Fr. Stan,“Ayuda me,” “Help me.” 

            It was a plea that would haunt Fr. Stan for the rest of his life. 

For weeks, he wandered the rural countryside looking for his friend.  But no one knew where he was.  He would stop in police stations pleading for help.  But his pleas fell on deaf ears.  The young man would never be found.

            Fr. Stan would soon be on a military hit list.

            In conversations with family and friends, he knew what the future held, but said, “A shepherd cannot run from his flock.”

            Shortly after Christmas 1980, the heat on Fr. Stan grew too hot.  So, he fled Atitlan for Guatemala City and lived briefly at the same Maryknoll Retreat House we stayed in on our recent pilgrimage.

            He eventually would return home to the family farm in Okarche, Oklahoma. 

            While in the states a priest friend invited him to speak at an Oklahoma parish. 

Now remember, this was early 1981, President Reagan was just inaugurated, and communism, especially in Central America, was enemy number-one.

            Fr. Stan preached saying, “Don’t believe everything your government tells you.”  He had a unique perspective, seeing this as less a battle pitting communism vs. capitalism, but over human rights. 

But his remarks upset a couple of patriotic people sitting in the pews who wrote the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington D.C. saying, “I feel obliged to warn your nation’s government of the Church involvement within the leftist organizations attempting to establish a socialist (or Marxist) government in Guatemala.”

            The letters were a death sentence in the hands of Guatemalan officials.

            Something Fr. Stan heard about two nuns who fled Central America when the fighting got bad would stick with him.  When the nuns returned to Central America, the people asked, “Where were you when we needed you?” 

            Father Stan said, “I don’t want that to happen to me.”

            He felt lost not standing with his people.  So, just before Holy Week began in 1981, he returned to Santiago Atitlan, against the many wishes of family and friends.

            A few months later, on a hot July evening, a military death squad broke into the rectory and found Fr. Rother.  They tortured him as he screamed, “Kill me here!”  He most feared being taken away and tortured and his body never to be found. 

The gunman shot him twice.  
            I saw the bullet hole in the floor of the former library now special prayer space. I spent the night in Santiago Atitlan no more than 50-feet from the room in the same rectory.

            An American nun who lived nearby, Sister Linda Wanner, lovingly cleaned up the blood the night of Fr. Rother’s death.  “She saw his life poured out on (the) tiles.  She sensed that his faith and his courage had seeped into the very carpet.  (She said) ‘I (now know) what the blood of the martyrs really means.’”

            Fr. Stan’s family wanted his body returned to Oklahoma.  But not before his physical heart was left in Santiago Atitlan.

            “In death, as in life, Stan was of Oklahoma, but his heart resided in the Mayan church.”


           I had the honor to be joined on pilgrimage by Fr. Stan’s seminarian classmate Fr. Tom Connery of New York and witnessed him praying over the Church memorial housing his friend's heart and the bullet hole where his friend's life ended in the rectory library. 

Fr. Tom’s presence on the trip and the many stories about his friend Stan really brought the experience home for all of us.     

            Think martyrdom is something that only happened in the early days of the Christian Church?  I am sad to report more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century than in all previous centuries combined since the time of Christ.

            Jesus asks that we give our all for the Kingdom.  Sometimes our all means our very life.

            Fr. Stanley Francis Rother, the man who struggled with his school work and especially Latin, the humble man from a farm in Oklahoma, is now officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a martyr.  An effort is underway to make him a saint.

            “He was an ordinary man who found extraordinary courage in his faith.”

            As we celebrated Mass with Fr. Stan’s Tzutuhill Mayan people three weeks ago (I’m wearing this stole made by his people), I witnessed a miracle.  

A Church packed with joy-filled, devoted Catholics at all six Masses that weekend.  Six thousand people celebrating on one weekend in modest church in a tiny little town in the mountains of Guatemala.  

The nets Jesus Christ had Fr. Stan lower into the waters gathered an abundance of fish even 32-years after his death.       

            Father Stan’s presence is still felt by his people today.
            And as our group of priests and deacons came to celebrate Mass, the hands of the Mayan children grabbed the hands of the priests and the bishop and led them to the altar.  

          Just like Isaiah, Paul, Peter, and Fr. Stan, Christ calls humble, less than perfect people into His ministry and turns them into giants.

            What is God calling you to do for His Kingdom?