FR. RONAN’S BLOG

It Is A Vision Thing

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There is an old saying that has always intrigued me: “Tell me where
you stand and I’ll tell you what you see”. I like the saying very much because it helps me realize how my “vision” is limited in so many ways
by my experiences, which are themselves finite. For me, this statement
has many applications. For example, most of us choose friends and colleagues who are like ourselves. We may read the same news reports, listen to the same news shows, belong to the same church community, support the same sports teams, and live in similar neighborhoods. In
many ways, our “vision” may be similar.


Today, we are all “standing” in the middle of a different and very unfamiliar place. Because of COVID, we are all looking out at the world differently than 6 months ago. Everyone, without exception, has been affected. One of the things we do not see clearly is an end to the pandemic and a return to what we considered normal from several months past.


Every day, when the weather permits, I walk from our house in Hayes Square out around the Harborwalk, and across Chelsea St. to Saint Mary’s Church and Parish Center. The walk usually takes around 20 minutes. That is now changed. I need at least 30 – 35 minutes for the walk. You could conclude that I am simply walking slower and that applies to Lily, too. Maybe…. However, the real reason is the folks we meet along the way (many with their dogs) and I desire to pause and chat a bit.


Social distancing and isolation along with working remotely and all the rest
have caused a thirst for human connectedness. People are happy to stop their walking and share a few words whether for the first time or checking-in from last we met. It is wonderful; and it is making me late for Mass!

COVID is causing us to all appreciate one another and relationships we have
taken for granted become more special. “Where I stand …” is more aware of my mortality and the precious gift of life and time. “Where I stand …” is humbly grateful for now having so many items we always took for granted (like toilet paper). “Where I stand …” is frustrated that I have no control over what happens tomorrow and angry that our government is so divided and unresponsive to the poor.

You and I stand in Charlestown (for the most part) and our vision is blurred in these days. This blurry vision causes me to look where I can see more clearly, to focus on that which offers me hope and a path forward: my faith. I firmly believe God is more present than ever in these moments, awaiting our gaze so that we can recognize what truly matters and is life giving. It is and always will be the beautiful sweet mystery of love. See it, seek it, nurture it, cherish it, celebrate it and recall that where love is, there is God.


Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Fifth Sunday
Ordinary Time
September 19/20, 2020

From an early age, we tend to distort the concept of “fairness”:
“I am good. I deserve good things. I am not receiving good things. Something must be wrong. Who’s going to fix it?”
We also know the age-old expression: “Who ever said life was fair?”
Jesus knew this expression when he offered his parable in today’s Gospel reading. Christian stewards acknowledge, with humility, that they receive good things from the Lord in abundance; even if these gifts are not the ones they think they need when they need them.
Consider which servants you identify with most in the Gospel reading, the ones who demand “fairness”,
or that final servant who, seemingly, deserves the least.

Coming Home

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Even though Covid continues to define everything in our world, the seasons are changing and September is here. As we wind down summer, there is a rush to make sure that everything that was supposed to get done over these short few months actually got done. Did the kids finish their summer assignments? Did I paint that room I was going to? Did we visit that lake that we drove by last year? Did I finish that book I was going to read? Did I even start it? The amount that we try to cram into summer can be exhausting to just think about. But, next year, we will do the same thing again: we will plan as much as we can and try to squeeze it all in!

For me, September actually brings some relief. The kids get back into their normalcy – for now it is remote learning, hybrid learning, or back in school with masks on. More people are also figuring out what their new work routines are. Sure, this means more cars and buses on the roads, but with the busyness, it forces you to also slow down a little bit (because the traffic will not allow you to go any faster)! For me it feels good to just come home.

Coming home gives me a sense of relief that I rarely get from anything else that I do. When I walk through the doors at home, there is a sigh – a breath of fresh air. There could be other things going on at home that make it seem stressful, but I am still home. I relax, take that breath – if only for a minute – and then dive into what needs to get done. Those minutes are precious.

Another one of those moments for me is when I walk through the doors of our beautiful Church. “I’m home” is what I say to myself. I believe this feeling is also the same for many other parishioners. One can feel the warmth of the building, the love of other parishioners – and of course God’s love.

Just like our familial homes, there is also that other “stuff” that needs to get done at the Church. Paying the bills, taking care of the property, and fixing what needs to get fixed. The people of our Parish come together in remarkable ways when things need to get done. The huge effort to refurbish and paint Saint Mary’s is succeeding only because of the support of all of us. Our religious education program will be starting soon, and many volunteers will come together and teach the children of Our Parish.

Because of COVID, understandably, some in our community have not felt safe returning to Sunday Mass. Fortunately, this weekend all four Masses will be celebrated for the first time since March. Please also know that the Church is cleaned and sanitized before each Mass and seating is designated to respect social distancing. So, when the times is right for you and your family to walk through the doors of Saint Mary’s, I am sure you, also, will feel you truly are HOME in God’s house – and God is welcoming you with open arms.

James Santosuosso,
Business Manager

Twenty-Fourth Sunday Ordinary Time Weekend of September 12/13, 2020

Today’s Gospel reading continues Jesus’ instructions on being good stewards of others – the direction that if we love Jesus Christ, we must forgive an individual 77 times. The reading compels us to consider one of the most difficult practices of Christian discipleship.
Forgiveness is the way of Jesus, the way of the cross.
Vengeance, bitterness and hatred seem so much easier and certainly more desirable.
Forgiveness is a hard road to travel, but it is the only road that leads to life in Christ.
Consider this week who you need to forgive.

This September

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There never has and likely never will be another end of summer like this year’s. We are all entering into the fall with sketchy plans and wondering how this is all going to play out. Educators are feverishly working to put in place good experiences for their students. Parents are searching to find solutions for too many problems, whether working remotely or in some hybrid model of their children’s education. Everyone is anxious about COVID and its possible return in the weeks ahead. Yes, this is an unprecedented autumn.

Is there a place to go to find relief? Is there a formula that makes dealing with all of the ambiguities and challenges possible? I think there is. It begins with an examination of our expectations: why what we think is important really is important. It continues with carefully reviewing what truly matters the most and why it does.

This process means locating my life and that of my family and friends, in a bigger picture that moves outside of the box of my usual customs and familiarities and perhaps my comfort zone. For example, this morning a young dad, in responding to my question about how his family is doing, replied a lot was very uncertain and worrisome. However, he had a job and so they are blessed.

The young mother and father then explained how grateful they are that their three beautiful children are healthy and happy, and that the Sunday morning is beautiful.

I believe that one of the most potent resources we have to respond to this terribly hard time is gratitude. That may seem a paradox and I guess it sort of is one. Nonetheless, gratitude flows from a wisdom that recognizes that God is active, present constantly, and is always close at hand. “Count your Blessings” is not a simplistic piece of advice from of old. It is an enduring piece of wisdom.

Often, to be implemented, it requires placing my moment in a context bigger than my private expectations and thus recognizing God’s fingerprints on everything. For myself, such an awareness causes me to utter, “thank you!”

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time September 5/6, 2020

In Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans he suggests that God lavishes his love upon us through Jesus Christ, who calls us to the kind of loving relationship, if we so choose it, that demands accountability. It is like, in Saint Paul’s vocabulary, a kind of “debt” that we can never “pay-in full.” But we begin to repay by following the direction of one of the most familiar statements in the Bible: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Good stewards realize that God does not call them just to love those who are easy to love, but to love the unloved and the hard-to-love people in this world as well.

This week, remind yourself: “I am put here as an ambassador of God’s love.”

Expect A Blessing

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Most of us confess that we are not ready for summertime to pass and I, for one, feel offended that the trees in the Training Field outside of the office have already begun shedding their leaves!

But as the passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us all: “There is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens” (3:1). The movement of the seasons, each flowing one into another, without anyone of us understanding the mystery and beauty of it all is both humbling and awesome; for it is God who sets the appointed time, even though many of us often resist that truth. We prefer to think that we are in control.

So how can we face change as a blessing rather than a burden?

I have come to believe that our God is a God who turns all things to good, and the more we expect to be surprised by God’s gracious love, the more it happens, even in difficult times. When we turn the page, sometimes reluctantly, and find the next page offers something unfamiliar, unappealing, even painful, that is the exact moment to trust God and to look with anticipation for the blessing God has packed into this new “page.” Our openness to the challenge results in it becoming fruitful in countless ways.

Isn’t it possible that our Creator God has so constructed our lives that the constancy of change is exactly meant to be an ongoing invitation for us to look toward God and trust that a blessing will come out of whatever difficulty we are facing? In all this we call to mind the words of Scripture, Nothing is impossible with God. Actually I have come to prefer turning that phrase around, Everything is possible for God.

Come September I no longer have to go back to school and all that, yet I still
feel a resistance to letting go of the summer season. To savor its beauty and all the loveliness of this time of year is a good preparation for the next movement of God’s work – the autumn. Seeing God’s hand in all of life can help us to let go and appreciate all of God’s marvelous work. Further we can see that God is also working in each of us, as we face the unfolding of own seasons of life.

So, letting go of summer as a metaphor for life can help us to learn to trust a bit more in God’s wonderful plan for us and all that surrounds us in this special time of year. Truth to tell, autumn seasons can hold blessings for all of us!

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-Second Sunday
Ordinary Time – August 29/30, 2020

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus brings up the topic of the cross to his
followers. They would not realize the cross was part of God’s plan and
was to be their legacy until after the Resurrection.
Today’s followers of Christ recognize they are stewards of his entire legacy, including his cross; that through their mutual sacrifices God’s glory is revealed. They don’t live their lives in Christ only when it is convenient for them. They make a decision to take up their cross and carry it, no matter what the cost. In the midst of the uncertain times we live in, what crosses do we bear in order to reveal God’s glory? – ICSC bulletin

HUNGER

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

When most of us feel hungry we open the refrigerator door, go to a cabinet, dial for takeout, or look for a place to find and buy some food. Without much effort, we find a way to satiate our hunger. Yet we all know that there are other kinds of hungers which are not so easily satisfied – a longing for companionship and love; a yearning for meaning and purpose.

Yes, the deepest hungers of the human heart are not for food, but rather for
relationships with others that are significant and life-giving and for a sense of purpose. The God Who created each of us has placed this longing in every person’s heart, and most every day, in one way or another, it is a hunger we seek to satisfy. When we experience it, we not only feel nourished, we feel fulfilled – more complete and joyful. And when it is lacking, we know the anguish and pain of disappointment, incompleteness, and unhappiness.

The hungers of the world are well known to our God. Jesus, God’s gift to all
of humanity, walked the earth and experienced them all. He knows the complexities of life; the importance of family; the need for good friendships; the pain of betrayal; the necessity to cultivate a forgiving heart if one is to be whole again. And above all, he understood the fundamental need for a relationship with His loving God, who sustained Him in life through death into a resurrected life, ultimately bringing Him home again to dwell where there is no time.

Jesus healed and transformed those who sought Him and whom he sought
out who were sick, lonely, and ostracized; those who were chasing after stuff that ultimately did not fill their void. He gave direction to those who were lost, and purpose to those who lacked meaning in their lives. And so we, too, can turn to Jesus for guidance, assistance, and nurturance in every aspect of our lives.

When Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”, those who heard Him were shocked – appropriately so. He goes on to explain: “I am the living bread, whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”. This is not a statement made for one moment in time; rather it is a proclamation of a truth that endures for all time, available to us in the Eucharist.

God’s gift to humankind of His Son is the explicit response of our Creator to
our hunger. It is in Christ that all of the longings of the human heart are filled. We are brought into this relationship at our Baptism and invited ever deeper into relationship with the Word proclaimed, the Sacraments received and the community gathered who together become the Body of Christ. Our relationship with Jesus is meant to be dynamic, and requires each person’s assent day by day, if it is to be a fulfilling one – just as in our human relationships.

Many of our brothers and sisters are starving – malnourished at an advanced level that extends beyond the need for food that perishes. When I look out the window of my office onto the Training Field, I see men and women hurrying along on their way to work. I see the same thing in the early morning when I am walking in the Navy Yard. And I wonder…what kind of a day they will have? Will their hungers be satisfied?

Fr. Ronan

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 22/23, 2020

Saint Paul reminds us in today’s second reading that the ultimate origin of everything is God. Since everything comes from God, we are God’s own.
We can never put God in our debt.
There is absolutely no negotiating with God.
Every breath we take is a gift.
Every good deed we perform is grace.
Good stewards realize they are created and called to make
the beauty, greatness, compassion and justice of God and his
gifts known throughout the world.
The stewardship question for us is whether we are willing to embrace this call, acknowledge our dependence on God and give our lives over to him completely for this purpose.

Prayer as Relationship

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Many of us remember the oldest and best definition of prayer: ʺraising the mind and heart to God.ʺ I suspect that most of us practiced the first part, raising our mind to God, beer than the second part, lifting up our hearts. That imbalance can too often make the experience of praying ʺdryʺ or ʺunfulfilling.ʺ

What this definition probably intended to say was that prayer involves our whole person in a relationship with God. Using the various relationships of our lives as a guide, we can come to new insights about prayer.

A wise spiritual guide once said, ʺWe are as good at praying as we are at the other relationships of our lives. If you want to get better at prayer, work on the key relationships in your life.ʺ

Take a close friendship or marriage, as an example. We wouldnʹt imagine
that what makes the relationship work is trying to find a half an hour, early in the morning, to sit in a chair and close our eyes and think heavy thoughts about the other person. We know instinctively, even if we hadnʹt ever put it into words, that a key relationship in our life is a matter of the heart. The other person means a lot to me. Iʹm not just attracted to the other, but the other is someone whose desires and dreams and vision are very important to me. And, if this relationship is one that is growing in love, the other is one I want to serve – give of myself for.

Relationship always involves a strong desire to be with. A relationship
will fade if we have no continuing interest in spending time with the other, or connect with the other. Even when our time together might be limited, we have feelings for the other which sustain the relationship. The closer the relationship, the stronger those feelings. In a marriage relationship, I might not see my spouse as much as Iʹd like, but I know that my job or my care for our children or time shopping – whatever I do when we are apart – is all done because of our relationship, to further the goals of our life together and our mission together. Intimacy in the bedroom is an important, but small part of the relationshipʹs bond. If the other intimacy and connections are there, then the bedroom time is wondrous. If the relationship of the heart is not connecting us when we are apart, intimacy in the bedroom can become quite problematic.

Words, gestures and rituals express and give shape to the relationship of
the heart. ʺI love you.ʺ ʺThank you.ʺ ʺYou are wonderful.ʺ ʺI need you.ʺ ʺIʹm
sorry.ʺ A smile, an embrace, a gesture of vulnerability, a self-revealing story, a gift full of meaning, doing something together. Our song, our favorite place, a special reading, a special menu, a tradition weʹve developed. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of ways a relationship develops and grows.

How could prayer be a relationship with God, if it only remains a lifting of
our minds to God? We need very special times of intimacy with God, but that time needs to be prepared for and built up to. To enrich our relationship with God, engages our hearts. That involves finding intimacy with God in the midst of our everyday busy lives, much like we do with the other important relationships of our lives. Perhaps as we pay more attention to what gives life and intimacy to these relationships, we might grow in the affective side of our relationship with God.

If this tip stirs a desire for that kind of relationship with God, one place to
begin is to let God tell me about how much God loves me. The God who says,
ʺYou are precious in my eyes and I love you.ʺ [ Isaiah 43:4] If Iʹm open to Godʹs expressions of affection toward me, that can open my heart to stir up affection in the form of grateful response. Love needs only a spark to get started. It takes ongoing care to keep the fire from going out. With special care, it can become a long lasting, warm and comforting, life-long relationship.

Source of article: http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html

Twentieth Sunday Ordinary Time
August 16, 2020

In today’s first reading, the Lord speaks through the prophet Isaiah during a
time of political upheaval and moral decline. The prophet had warned of God’s judgment against people for the feelings of self-importance they found in their possessions, and condemned them for various forms of economic injustice such as exploiting the poor and immigrants.
Good stewards know that Isaiah’s message is as compelling today as it was in the time of the kingdom of Judah:
Do the right thing.
Offer justice and compassion toward others.
Be honest in all your dealings.
And remember to observe the day of the Lord.

How Do You Measure?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

I came across a book the other day with the title, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” I picked it up as I considered it to be a catchy title. The author, Clayton Christensen, was, at one time, a highly regarded professor at Harvard Business School. Christensen’s book focuses mostly on a person’s career, yet the themes include all aspects of life including, satisfaction in work, personal relationships that endure and bring happiness, and maintaining one’s integrity.

Everyone passes into different stages of life wherein one needs to adapt
and learn about new realities. Times such as starting high school or college, beginning a new job, becoming a member of a team or entering a committed relationship – all times that challenge us to learn and grow. Sometimes these chapters of life are fun, exciting, and challenging, especially when they are expected and planned.

At other times, often not of our own choosing, we are drawn into changes
that are very difficult, even disruptive. The unexpected arrival of COVID on our doorstep five months ago caused and continues to create a substantial amount of turmoil for so many and, sadly, all too many have lost their lives.

And so I wonder, how do we measure our lives in the era of COVID?
How do we gauge our level of happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, and peacefulness? How do we identify what is missing in our lives? Perhaps these questions seem odd, yet we are all living in this moment and we are all struggling to do the best we can in a very changed reality and into an unknown future.

Conceivably, the question about what we find to be the enduring aspect
of our lives and that which truly is fulfilling will be answered more in terms of relationships rather than in what we do. Perhaps the COVID time which continues to interrupt our routines and the usual measures of our lives is a pathway for what truly matters – the importance of others in our lives.

Many have asked where God is in all this turmoil. I believe God’s closeness to us is a constant, although our awareness of that truth can be diluted by
the overwhelming confusion of these times – understandably so. The turmoil of these times is within us and all around us. We can easily get sucked into the latest breaking news cycle. That has never been helpful for me. For myself and perhaps for you a be,er way is to pivot to our relationships, beginning with God, the fountain of all love, and follow that path not only to get through these times, but also to find the greatest possible measure of a well-lived life.

Fr. Ronan

Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time
August 9, 2020

Today’s Gospel reveals what miraculous things can happen when one embraces a single-minded faith in Jesus Christ. Peter gets out of a wind-tossed boat when the Lord calls him. His faith is tested by his obedience to Jesus who is calling him out onto the water.
In the midst of the waves and the wind, Peter gets out of the boat and walks toward Jesus. Good stewards heed Christ’s call to them. Sometimes that call directs them to take on seemingly impossible challenges.
This week, reflect on how the Lord could be calling you out of the safety of your own “boat”

SUMMERTIME

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

While the effects of COVID will continue to touch the lives of everyone for some time to come, many folks are trying to find a way to have some vacation this year. Now that Massachusetts seems a bit safer many are
seeking a bit of relief from the heat and the stress of these past months, before the uncertainty of the school year begins.

Every year about this time, I recall reading a column in one of the papers
from a regular columnist who writes about being on vacation. She describes in colorful language some beachfront town, maybe on the Cape or up Maine. The scene is charming, inviting, and lazy and always makes me wonder why my vacations are not as perfect as hers seem. I mean she talks about the beauty of the ocean, the breezes, the ice cream cones and cook outs; she describes the laid back mornings and lots of time for reading stuff she has looked forward to all year; connecting with old friends, pleasant walks and time … time to just be.

Don’t know why, but my vacations don’t usually seem as idealic as those I read about. I want them to be – at least as I look forward to a couple of weeks out of Charlestown. I fully recognize that I need to get away from the day-today reality of my routine and that a change in routine is really good, in fact necessary. Nonetheless, the person who goes on my vacation is the same person who gets up each morning at 5:30 and begins a schedule that is always full until late that night. What’s more, that person really enjoys each day like that.

So I conclude, it takes a bit of time to get into a vacation. The first days, 5:30 still seems the time to get up – at least Lily, my Black Lab thinks so. She is ready to go out, have breakfast, take a walk and start her day. Sometimes I tell her, we’re on vacation – go back to sleep. She doesn’t believe me. But after a few days, she starts to get the hang of it – we stay up later – there is more time for long walks, much more exercise and she is now happy to sleep in. In fact my dog gets into vacation mode faster than I do.

In August, I plan to get away for a couple of weeks. Slow down the daily pace, spend time with family and friends, get in some sailing and beach time and rest and read. I hope to stay away from the computer each day and not to hear the phone ring for whatever. When this happens, I see, again, what a blessing is my life. Leaving Charlestown and this parish helps me realize anew how much it all means to me, how I have grown to love this place and all of the people who form this great parish.

Maybe that is one of the greatest gifts of getting away: appreciating
what you have left behind and getting rested and refreshed so that
you can return. I hope that you and yours can also get some time away
before the weather cools down, and the schools open, and the cycle begins again, and that God blesses you and your family this beautiful summertime.

Fr. Ronan

Eighteenth Sunday
Ordinary Time
August 1/2, 2020

In today’s Gospel we find an equation the disciples of Jesus couldn’t solve: Five loaves and two fish divided by 5,000- plus people.
They failed to recognize Jesus in the equation; that whatever they had to offer, Jesus could take it and bless it and satisfy the hunger of the crowd with it. Good stewards recognize that the Lord can work miracles with the gifts they offer to a hungry and broken world.
How often are we willing to offer our gifts in faith, even during disquieting times, even as insignificant as we think they are, and count on the Lord to do the rest?
How often do we count Christ into the equation?

A PRIMAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE EUCHARIST by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist Abbott who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, tells this story of his first communion. He grew up in a Roman Catholic family in France and on the day of his first communion he said to his mother: “I don’t understand what I’m doing.” She answered simply: “It’s okay, you don’t have to understand it now, later you will understand.”

Jesus, no doubt, must have given his disciples the exact same advice at the Last Supper, at their first communion. When he offered them bread and said, “This is my body”, and then offered them wine and said, “This is my blood”, they would not have understood.  There would have been considerable confusion and bewilderment: How are we supposed to understand this? What does it mean to eat someone’s body and drink someone’s blood? I suspect that in the face of their non-understanding, like Christian de Cherge’s mother, Jesus would have also said: You don’t have to understand it now, later you will understand.

Indeed in instituting the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to understand what they were doing, he only asked them to faithfully celebrate it until he returned.  Their understanding of what they were doing in celebrating the Eucharist only developed as they grew in their faith.  But initially, Jesus didn’t ask for much of an understanding, nor did he give them much of an explanation for what he was celebrating with them. He simply asked them to eat his body and drink his blood.

Jesus didn’t give a theological discourse on the Eucharist at the Last Supper. He simply gave us a ritual and asked us to celebrate it regularly, irrespective of our intellectual understanding of it. One of his more-explicit explanations of the meaning of the Eucharist was his symbolic action of washing his disciples’ feet.

Little has changed. We too aren’t asked to fully or even adequately understand the Eucharist. Our faith only asks that we are faithful in participating in it.  In fact, as is the case for all deep mysteries, there is no satisfactory, rational explanation of the Eucharist. Nobody, not a single theologian in the world, can to anyone’s intellectual satisfaction, adequately lay out the phenomenology, psychology, or even spirituality of eating someone else’s body and drinking his blood. How is this to be understood? The mind comes up short.  We need instead to rely upon metaphors and icons and an inchoate, intuitive understanding. We can truly know this mystery, even as we can’t fully understand it.

During my seminary and academic training, I took three major courses on the Eucharist. After all those lectures and books on the Eucharist, I concluded that I didn’t understand the Eucharist and that I was happy enough with that because what those courses did teach me was how important it is that I celebrate and participate in the Eucharist. For all the intellectuality in those courses, their true value was that they ultimately said to me what Christian de Cherge’s mother said to him on the day of his first communion: You don’t have to understand now, later you will understand. Contained in that, of course, is the fact that there is something profound here that is worth understanding, but that it’s too deep to be fully grasped right now.

Perhaps this can be helpful in our search for what to say to some of our own children and young people who no longer go to church and who tell us that the reason they don’t go is that they don’t find the Eucharist meaningful. We hear that lament all the time today: Why should I go to church, it doesn’t mean anything to me?” That objection is simply another way of saying what young Christian de Cherge said to his mother at his first communion: I don’t understand this. Perhaps our answer then could be along the lines of the response of his mother: You don’t have to understand now, later you will understand.

The British theologian, Ronald Knox, speaking about the Eucharist, submits this: We have never, he claims, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination. In the end, none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus: We haven’t turned the other cheek. We haven’t forgiven our enemies. We haven’t purified our thoughts. We haven’t seen God in the poor. We haven’t kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world. But we have, he submits, been faithful in one very important way; we have kept the Eucharist going. The last thing Jesus asked us to do before he died was to keep celebrating the Eucharist. And that we’ve done, despite the fact that we have never really grasped rationally what in fact we are doing. But we’ve been faithful in doing it because we grasped the wisdom in what Christian de Cherge’s mother said to her son: You don’t have to understand this; you just have to do it.

Seventeenth Sunday in
Ordinary Time
July 25/26, 2020

A profound stewardship prayer is offered by the young King Solomon in today’s first reading. He asks the Lord to give him an understanding heart, compassion towards God’s people and the insight to distinguish right from wrong. An understanding heart, or wisdom, is a gift from God. It is a gift that enables us to make good decisions and prudent choices. Cultivating and sharing this gift is essential, especially when poor decisions and lack of compassion have consequences that affect the lives of others.
During these disquieting times, are we asking God for an understanding heart?
Are we exercising good stewardship over the gift of wisdom?
Are we sharing our compassionate hearts with others?

What To Do?

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In the middle of this summertime as the nation continues to struggle to make peace with COVID, there appear to be more questions about what we ought to do than there are answers. Or maybe it is the other way around! It is dizzying to consider all of the challenges we face from children returning to school, questions about daycare, huge issues in the economy, the injustice of racism, to the day-to-day stressors of trying to navigate life in a safe way.

Much of what I “do” is reacting to whatever reality I face – I guess it is the same for all of us. When the reality is as daunting as a pandemic and racism, so complex and difficult to comprehend, what to do is hard to figure out. I think most of us consider one way and then another and then maybe conclude, we just do not know.

For example, the other day I had a conversation with my niece, a professional educator. I asked her what she thought about re-opening school in September. She responded by identifying a number of very complex issues, such as conditions of old school buildings, equity of resources among children in different sectors of the city, safety concerns for teachers, availability of technology, and needs and expectations versus reality of budgets. Finally, she said “I just don’t know how we can do it”

In conversations with friends and colleagues about racism, something similar happens. First of all, among white folks, including myself, we easily get defensive. We are certain it exists and also that “I am not racist so it doesn’t really pertain to me”. When the conversations go deeper I realize I am racist and, in fact, I believe most of us are although that is not our intention and it is not conscious. Good people can be racist as it is part of our socialization and our culture. Because racism is multilayered and extremely complex finding effective cures, solutions, is never easy and simple.

In all of this summer’s realities “What To Do” is a tough question to answer. So, maybe that is not the best starting point. Perhaps the better question is “How to Be?”

I think we all need an anchor, a fundamental standing place to view all that is happening. That standing place has to be clear. It is the platform, reference point from which all else flows. I don’t think it is simply about a superficial characteristic of our lives such as, “I’m a Red Sox fan so …” or “I am a Bostonian so …” or “I am a millennial or Boomer so …”

For me, my anchor, my fundamental standing place is my Judeo-Christian faith. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There I find everything I need to look for “What to Do”. It is yoked to the belief that each of us is a precious child of God and each possesses a dignity and worth beyond measure. From that faith flows the exhortation that we are to love one another as we have been loved and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Looking forward from these July days, I believe it is possible to find a good path through the conundrums of this time by first focusing on how to be before deciding what to do.

Fr. Ronan

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 18/19 2020

In today’s second reading, St. Paul bids us to take comfort in knowing that when God invites us to pray to him he knows our true needs, even if we do not. The Holy Spirit intercedes and prays for us even if we can’t come up with appropriate words; even when we don’t have a clue what to ask for. We are not left alone. Good Stewards know prayer in an important part of living a life in Christ. The important thing is to make space for God.
Do we let God into our hearts?
Do we make room for the Holy Spirit to pray within us?

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