Monday, December 31, 2012

Preparing to Dance

The 5th Grade students who are studying ballroom
 dancing got a chance to see how it is done.

St.Columbkille Catholic School has been working with Dancing Classrooms to expand the horizons for these 5th grade students.

 After watching ...

 ... they had a chance to dance themselves.

 This is a skill they'll be able to use for years to come.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Holy Family

Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. Pope Paul VI said:

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ's life was like and even to understand his Gospel. ... First we learn from its silence. ... The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God's inner wisdom ... Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. ...  

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of the craftsman's son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. i would especially like to recognize its value -- demanding yet redeeming -- and to give it proper respect.

During the construction, Fr Damian has been reminded of when he helped his father, a bricklayer, in his work. One of his tasks was to carry the bricks to the workers.

He recalled how he often had a difficult time keeping up with the men who could lay bricks so quickly and how he used to mix the mud for them.

As you have learned values from your family, what might Jesus have learned from His?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mommy & Me

Earlier this month we had "Mommy & Me" at Sacred Heart Preschool. We were very anxious for our guests to arrive.

We had treats.

 We talked.

We made Gingerbread Houses.

But just being together was the most fun.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Slaughter of the Innocents

When we see how the entire nation reacted to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, it begs a question today.

Today, because today the Church holds the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The Gospel reading (Matthew 2:13-18) is:

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
"Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

Thus the question is,

"When we see the outcry at the death
of children today, how could there
not have been an outcry against
Herod in Bethlehem?"

Short Answer: "A change in our values."

Abraham took his son Isaac to be sacrificed to God (Genesis 22:1-19). But before the sacrifice the angel of the Lord stopped him and a Ram was substituted for the sacrifice of his son.

"Far more than we moderns generally realize, human sacrifice was a fact of life among the peoples of the ancient Near  East in tension with whom Israel first achieved cultural self-definition. Israel's renunciation of the practice of human sacrifice took place over a long period of time, during which intermittent reversions to it recurred." (Gil Bailie in Violence Unveiled.)

So while we might presume that after Abraham stopped the human sacrifice of Isaac, people would know not to sacrifice humans. But, as Bailie notes, it continued to occur. For example in 1 Kings 16:3-4 Hiel rebuilds the city of Jericho with his son Abiram sacrificed as he laid the foundation and his youngest son Segub sacrificed at it's gates.

The euphemism of "walk through fire" was standard in the ancient world for child sacrifice. In 2 Kings 16:3-4 Ahaz caused his son to walk through fire. Jeremiah decried the practise (Jer 19:5-6) saying that they ought not no spill the blood of the innocent. King Josiah was one of the bright lights who (2 Kings 23:10) desecrated these places "so that no one could make his son or daughter pass through the fire..."

Prevalent was the notion of the scapegoat where Moses (Leviticus 16:1-28) begins the practise of having one take away the sins of the people. The idea was that the one killed was not innocent, but the one who heroically made life for the others better.

It was into such a world that Jesus was born. It was in such a world that Herod was able to kill all of the male children two or younger.

But then the change came.

As St. Paul tells us, the cross changed everything. There we recognize that the one who died was innocent and we were the culprits who made it happen. With this understanding has come the sense that the death of any innocent is tragic. This is an understanding that, through Christianity, has so influenced the world that even the atheists consider the death of the innocent tragic.

It is in seeing how, in time, the world has been changed so that the death of innocent children is universally decried that we have hope that one day the same universal outcry will apply to the aborted.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

He speaks in stillness using the meek

One of the most incredible mysteries of Christmas is that our Redeemer, the Creator of the Universe, came to us an infant, a helpless child. Humility is God's mode of operation. He tends to speak to us in stillness and quiet. He likes to use the meek, the poor and the powerless to accomplish His will.

In my own life, God often speaks through my children. Most parents and teachers have experienced this. We know children can teach us a thing or two. Let me share three of my experiences. They all focus on our crucified Lord (which I'm certain is not a coincidence).

Years ago, as I was picking up a kindergartener from school, I had a religious catalog sitting on the car seat. When my son jumped inside, he immediately saw the crucifix on the catalog's cover and lamented, "Poor Jesus."

His words stabbed into my heart. How often had I looked at a crucifix and seen nothing, other than a religious decoration? Would I have been able to look at an image of any of my loved ones being tortured and be devoid of emotion? My heart had become so calloused. Years of exposure to religous images made them seem ordinary, commonplace. My kindergartener showed me that I had lost the eyes and heart of a child, which readily recognize the eternal and real.

On another occasion, during Lent, our family was watching a G-rated movie about Christ's Passion. A different son, who also was very young at the time, approached me, visibly distressed. He was stunned. How could someone betray Jesus with a kiss?

Somehow, that detail never got my full attention. But again, a child's words struck my heart, exposing its hardness after years of hearing the Passion story. My son made me ponder how much Judas' betrayal, and the manner in which it was delivered, must have hurt Jesus. I, too, consider myself Jesus' friend. And I also betray Him.

The third incident happened when I was getting ready to leave home and I draped a crucifix pendant around my neck. Another son, 3 or 4 years old at the time, noticed the crucifix at first glance. He drew close to examine it. "That's beautiful," he said. And he asked to kiss the crucifix (a nice devotion he has developed). "You should always wear a cross, Mom," he said.

"Yes, I should," I answered, knowing immediately Whose voice I was hearing. I recognized God's voice because He had been hinting about that subject for a while. But suddenly, through the words of a preschooler, His will became clearer: I should always bear the image of my crucified Lord. And not just with jewelry.

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this about exploring and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dedication of the Altar

Saturday, Archbishop Lucas came to consecrate our new altar and bless our ambo, tabernacle and chapel within a prayerful, 88 minute Mass.

In place of the Penetential Rite there was a sprinkling rite. Archbishop Lucas prayed:

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is a day of rejoicing: we have come together to dedicate this altar by offering the sacrifice of Christ.

May we respond to these holy rites, receive God’s word with faith, share at the Lord’s table with joy, and raise our hearts in hope.

Gathered around this one altar we draw nearer to Christ, the living stone, in whom we become God’s holy temple.

But first let us ask God to bless this gift of water. As it is sprinkled upon us and upon this altar, may it be a sign of our repentance and a reminder of our baptism.

All pray in silence for a brief period.

God of mercy, you call every creature to the light of life, and surround us with such great love that when we stray you continually lead us back to Christ our head.

For you have established an inheritance of such mercy, that those sinners, who pass through water made sacred, die with Christ to rise restored as members of his body and heirs of his eternal covenant.

Bless + this water; sanctify it.

As it is sprinkled upon us and upon this altar make it a sign of the saving waters of baptism, by which we become one in Christ, the temple of your Spirit.
May all here today, and all those in days to come, who will celebrate your mysteries on this altar, be united at last in the holy city of your peace.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

ALL: Amen.

 You can hear the Archbishop's homily here.

After the homily, Archbishop Lucas prayed:

Father, we praise you and give you thanks, for you have established the sacrament of true worship by bringing to perfection in Christ the mystery of the one true altar prefigured in those many altars of old.

Noah, the second father of the human race, once the waters fell and the mountains peaked again, built an altar in your name. You, Lord, were appeased by his fragrant offering and your rainbow bore witness to a covenant refounded in love.

Abraham, our father in faith, wholeheartedly accepted your word and constructed an altar on which to slay Isaac, his only son. But you, Lord, stayed his hand and provided a ram for his offering.

Moses, mediator of the old law, built an altar on which was cast the blood of a lamb: so prefiguring the altar of the cross.

All this Christ has fulfilled in the paschal mystery: as priest and victim he freely mounted the tree of the cross
and gave himself to you, Father, as the one perfect oblation.

In his sacrifice, the new covenant is sealed, in his blood sin is engulfed. Lord, we therefore stand before you in prayer.

Bless this altar built in the house of the Church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand for ever as the Lord’s table, where your people will find nourishment and strength.

Make this altar a sign of Christ from whose pierced side flowed blood and water, which ushered in the sacraments of the Church.

Make it a table of joy, where the friends of Christ may hasten to cast upon you their burdens and cares and take up their journey restored.

Make it a place of communion and peace, so that those who share the body and blood or your Son may be filled with his Spirit and grow in your life and love.

Make it a source of unity and friendship, where your people may gather as one to share your spirit of mutual love.

Make it the center of our praise and thanksgiving until we arrive at the eternal tabernacle, where, together with Christ, high priest and living altar, we will offer you an everlasting sacrifice of praise.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Before the altar Archbishop Lucas prayed:

We now anoint this altar. May God in his power make it holy, a visible sign of the mystery of Christ, who offered himself for the life of the world.

In silence, Archbishop Lucas poured oil in the center of the altar, then in all four corners before rubbing it in.

Before incensing the altar, Archbishop Lucas prayed:

Lord, may our prayer ascend as incense in your sight. As this building is filled with fragrance so may your Church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ.

Then some of our sacristans wiped the altar clean ...

 ... and it was covered with cloth.

 Then, handing a lit candle to the deacon, Archbishop Lucas prayed:

Light of Christ, shine on this altar and be reflected by those who share at this table.

Then we were ready for Mass.

Thank you Archbishop!

Before the Dedication

Before the Mass where Archbishop Lucas consecrated the Altar and blessed the renovations, he got a little tour from Fr. Damian.