Thursday, June 30, 2011

An draining day

     Sorry for the very late post ( a friend has already called me a "slacker"in his email), but it has been a very draining day away from the keyboard.

     It began early this morning with the draining of two vials of blood at Med Express for bloodwork for an upcoming doctor's appointment.
     Then off to the funeral of the father of friends of mine, a beautiful but emotionally draining experience.
     Then to visit with my sister, Janie, who allowed me to take her to lunch and then shopping.  After purchasing a new stove for the family home and making arrangements for new flooring in the kitchen, we were off to "trade in" our cell phones (hers died and both were due for updating).  She now possesses a phone much better than she had, I now have an i-phone 4 as well as a Samsung Galaxy Touchscreen Tablet.  Needless to say the checkbook was drained as well.  Thank God we had a friend guiding us in our purchases.
     Then, exhausted, we went to dinner before I returned home.  Janie paid for dinner [with a gift card I gave her earlier!].  The hour drive home brings me to this moment.  As you can see, it was a "draining" day.


     But to an important acknowledgement ... on this day, June 30th, 1970, Anthony Gerard Bosco, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was ordained a bishop at Saint Paul Cathedral.  He served many years as Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh and then as the Third Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg for over seventeen years.  He is now retired and living in Greensburg with his puppy.  He is still active in many things.

     Forty one years as a bishop is a remarkable milestone.  I would ask for your loving prayers for Bishop Bosco as we wish him well and good health.  Ad Multos Annos! (Many Years!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Epic Experience

     For the past three Tuesday evenings I have gone to the movies.  Journey Thoughts readers may not know that I am a bit of a movie buff.  In those three evenings I have spent a total of nearly thirteen hours watching three movies of a series: The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The extended version of the three movies directed by Peter Jackson (The Fellowship of the Ring - The Two Towers - The Return of the King) have been remastered for Blue Ray and were shown on the big screen in a limited engagement at certain theaters.  Locally Lowe's AMC at the Waterfront in Pittsburgh showed the films.  I was joined by a packed theater of fans.  Like me, I am sure this was not the first time they saw the movies.  But to see it on the big screen in the extended version (about an extra hour per movie of scenes not in the original cuts) was a treat.

     For those not familiar with the epic story by J. R. R. Tolkien, the struggle between good and evil, between dark power and the powerless is a great story.   Presented with strange creatures and unusual settings, it is filled with images that reflect the author's Catholic faith.  Every time I have read the books over the years I find inspiration as well as enjoyment, and with the movies the unusual has become more visually understandable - whether hobbits or wizards or elves or dwarfs or orcs or ents etc, etc, etc.  The creative mind of Peter Jackson and company deserved the numerous awards received at the Oscars.

     You may be of the same mindset as a number of my friends who wonder about my sanity, or at least good sense, to watch this kind of a story for thirteen hours.  I have a friend who prefers strict history, or a realistic setting.  Yet this epic experience of viewing the epic adventures of Frodo and Sam in the epic classic story of salvation and the triumph of good over evil in the Lord of the Rings was, for me, time well spent.  Thought I would share that with you.  As I was leaving, a few people that I had met over these weeks, including the older gentleman who took our tickets, said: "See you for the next movie".  Peter Jackson is filming a prequel - The Hobbit.
Can't wait.


     I just learned that the Vatican has a new, multimedia website that looks great.  Check it out and earmark it at


     Sixty years ago today Father Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a priest.  I hope we all know that he is now known as Pope Benedict XVI.  Congratulations, Holy Father!  If you can, say an extra prayer for him today.


     Today is the great Feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, two outstanding leaders of the early church who provided a firm foundation upon which the church could build.  Peter was chosen to be shepherd and leader of the group, despite his shortcomings.  Paul was chosen to be the champion and voice of the early church despite his shortcomings.  Both gave their lives in service as well as literally for the sake of the Gospel.  Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


     Our liturgical celebration today has us remember Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons for twenty-five years (a long time in those days).  He was a disciple of Polycarp, a defender of the teachings of the Church against the Gnostics, a great proponent of a Christian Bible with both testaments.  He died a martyr's death in 202.  During his life he was known as a bringer of peace to the family of God.   The opening prayer for the feast says: "Father, you called Irenaeus to uphold your truth and bring peace to your Church.  By his prayers, renew us in faith and love that we may always be intent on fostering unity and peace."  In a world, and sometimes even a Church, in conflict and division, may we be like Irenaeus, promoters of unity and peace.

     In our weekly bulletin, I do a little article on the saints of the week entitled "Companions on the Journey".  They serve as great examples and are our spiritual heroes.


     I mentioned last week of the Eucharistic Procession on Corpus Christi at our neighboring parish of Immaculate Conception.  Father John Moineau, the pastor, led us in an expression of our Catholic Faith that brought tears to the eyes.  Our Holy Father processes in Rome on Corpus Christi, other places have similar expressions of faith, but for Irwin, it was a first.

   There were upwards of 500/600 people joining in the procession through the streets of Irwin, led by Father John with the Blessed Sacrament along with three neighboring priests.  It was prayerful, reverent, moving and a joy to be a part of.  It was one of my better Corpus Christi celebrations.  I thank John and the people of IC for their hospitality and faith.


     Last evening I joined Fathers Chet Raimer and Pete Peretti in gathering with some of the Pittsburgh priests who were on retreat at Saint Paul Seminary in Crafton.  Father Joe Mele, rector of the seminary and a classmate, invited us and other alumni of the former Saint Francis Seminary in Loretto, PA to join them for dinner and the evening session.  The retreat master is our former professor in theology, Father Christian Oravec, T.O.R.  Father Christian serves as the Minister Provincial of their Province of the Third Order Regular Franciscans in Loretto.  We had a great evening remembering and celebrating with the Pittsburgh guys.  Their gracious hospitality was appreciated.

     PS.  Our old seminary at Saint Francis is now closed and the building is a maximum security federal prison ... except for the changed locks and the barbed wire fence.  Wonder who is in my room.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What if ...?

     Not too many months ago the Board of Trust Administrators of Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School (the board of pastors), on which I serve, met to discuss the future of our seventh and eighth grades in the program.  We did this in response to the diocesan move to create a Junior High level program at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, a move that I have yet to comprehend the wisdom of.  This new Junior High would theoretically draw new students into the Catholic School system, but in reality takes students already attending Catholic Schools from other local and regional programs.  It has had a great impact upon our struggling programs.

     We were determined to keep open the 7th & 8th grades, but with enrollment being a major factor.  Economically but even more importantly on an educational basis, we felt that there must be "at least" fifteen in each grade to continue.  But then came the questions ... what if there were only 14? ... what if there were only 12? ... what if there were only 10?.  Would we stay open?  It is a struggle, to commit to the program as well as to face the reality of the situation. [ps  We agreed to give a little, with at this time 13 in one grade and 14 in the other - for the sake of the total program.]

     In this morning's reading from Genesis, we find Abraham bargaining with God regarding the destruction of Sodom.  The Lord set a limit: if there can be found fifty innocent people, I will spare the place.  And Abraham begins ... What if there were five less? ... What if there there were forty?  What if ...?

     When they came to ten, and God agreed to the request, God disappeared quickly - for Abraham was pushing his luck.  There are limits.  And yet, we can approach the Lord and we can present our case, and we can be assured that he has the very best in store for us.  We may not always get what we want, but we do get what is best from the God who loves us.

     I was reminded of our school meeting as I listened to today's reading.


     Following this morning's Mass I celebrated the funeral liturgies for two parishioners - Irene Bernardo (90) at 10 am and Edward Napolitano (96) at 2 pm.  Both lived life fully and shared a great joy with their families.  May they rest in peace.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

     The Eucharist - the celebration of Thanksgiving of the Community of Believers and the great gift of that act of thanksgiving, the Body and Blood of Christ with which we are nourished - is the cause of our rejoicing today, on this Feast of Corpus Christi.  This gift unites us to the Living God.  This "communion" sums up the vertical and the horizontal dimension of the gift of Christ Jesus.  Our Holy Father, Benedict, in his Corpus Christ homily reminds us that when we receive communion we eat the bread of the Eucharist, allowing us to enter into communion with the very life of Jesus.  This life "is given to us and for us.  From God, through Jesus, to us: a unique communion is transmitted in the Holy Eucharist."

     The words "communion" and "community" express, from the Latin, the concept that we are "in union with" each other and with God.  We share an intimate bond that is life giving.

     The Holy Father refers to a teaching of Saint Augustine in which he is reminded by Jesus that when we eat food, it becomes assimilated by the body and contributes to its maintenance.  There is a union with the body that is wholesome and life sustaining.  But the Holy Father says "the Eucharist is a different bread: we do not assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ and members of his body, one with Him."  We become Christ-like, transformed.

     Our celebration of Eucharist and our reception of Eucharist unites us to Christ and to all whom he places in our path.  We become family, His body, one in Him, in "communion" with each other.  Our common bond, our source of life itself, is Christ Jesus, who said: "I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Mt. 28:20).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How things have changed

     Tomorrow, the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Irwin, our neighbor and mother parish, kicks off their 150th anniversary celebration with a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Irwin. It will be a great day for the Catholic Faith in this area.

     In inviting our people, I suggested that this might be a "first" for Irwin.  One of our parishioners who is a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill brought in a book "Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity in Western Pennsylvania" by Sister Mary Electa Boyle, which proved that that was not entirely accurate.

     Irwin and the surrounding area in the late 1800's was very Scotch and a stronghold of John Knox Presbyterianism, with a strong contingent of Orangemen who were very anti-catholic and anti-Irish.  Acceptance was hard to find, and persecution and hatred was commonplace.  Even the church was built in the "lower end" of town, near the railroad tracks and the creek, where all of the boarding houses and bars were to be found.

     Father Michael Murphy was the pastor in 1871, and wanted to establish a school.  He invited the Sisters of Charity to staff the school.  When word got out, there were threats and an open boast that "if Father Murphy ever brought nuns to Irwin, he would have to smuggle them in by night".  Father Murphy did one better.

     He arranged that the Sisters (five in number) should arrive by the 6:00 pm train on Saturday night, January 5, 1884.  As was the custom, the town was filled with people, shopping, socializing, checking out what was happening.  He met the Sisters at the train station, along with the church committee, most of the congregation, as well as a Brass Band in uniform.  He then led the procession through the streets of Irwin to the new Convent, with the town looking on and the troublemakers hampered from causing trouble.  In this way he "smuggled" the Sisters into town.  It must have been quite a sight.

     I can assure you that the town is nothing like it might have been in 1884.  Times have changed, and people have changed.  Sunday's procession, while Eucharistic centered rather than "Sisters" centered, will give proof of that reality.  We have come from a minority of immigrants to a majority of established citizens of this small town and its surrounding township.  We process Sunday with pride and to give honor and glory to God, and we are grateful for how things have changed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

An Unusual Tribute - 1 & 2

     In Thursday's local paper, the Greensburg Tribune-Review, there was an article about the death of Sister Camillus Erb of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.  Her funeral celebration and burial was held on Wednesday at Seton Hill.  She was 89, and had been a member of the Community since 1948.  Prior to retirement, she served as a nurse.  As the Sisters do so well, with the joy of their Faith and trust in the promise of the Lord, they celebrate the life and accomplishments of their Sisters as they celebrate the Resurrected Life that that Sister shares at the Heavenly banguet.

     But there was something unusual at this burial.  The VFW Post 33 of Greensburg shared full military honors for Sister Camillus, including a 21 gun salute and taps.  The United States flag which covered her casket was folded with honor and presented to her Religious Family through Sister Vivien Linkhauer, the Religious Superior.  The Sisters sang "God Bless America".  The honor guard was moved by the uniqueness of the event.

     Before entering the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in 1948, Camillus Erb served in World War II as a Navy nurse treating the wounded at the Pacific battlefronts.  She ministered to those Marines and sailors suffering from "shell shock".  She also, along with a number of nurses, had been imprisoned by the enemy.  Many of those captured nurses, the article said, had come home looking old and spent.  After the war, she committed her life to serving others in the healing ministry through her vocation in the Religious Life, and as her Sisters attested, she did so well.

     We are grateful to Sister Camillus Erb, SC, for her service to the nation, her service to God, her prayerful presence, and her dedicated life as a Sister of Charity in the ideals of Elizabeth Ann Seton.  May she rest in peace.


      Usually when we celebrate the feast of a saint of God, we celebrate their death, their entrance into Eternal Life.  I can think of three individuals whose birth and death are celebrated by the Church: Jesus, obviously ... Mary, September 8th birth and August 15th the Dormition ... and John the Baptist, whose birth we celebrate TODAY and whose martyrdom comes later in the Summer.  Having spent three assignments (as a deacon, an assistant and as pastor) at Saint John the Baptist parish in Scottdale, I felt a need to share this unusual tribute given to John, the Precursor.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Children of Abraham

     The reading from Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures at today's liturgy (Gn 16:1-12,15-16) gives us a great story that led to actions that caused a turmoil that still exists in the world today.  It is the story of Ishmael and Isaac.  It is the story of one Father, two branches of a family, and blessings that lead in separate directions.

     The story is simple.  God promised Abram (Abraham) that he would be the Father of a multitude of peoples.  He and his wife, Sarai, were childless, and with growing age, a little impatient.  Sarai offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abram so that she may bear a child for them.  That child, the firstborn of Abram, was called Ishmael.

     But then came the problem.  Hagar looked on Sarai with disdain, and Sarai became jealous and resentful.  She abused her so much that Hagar ran away.  The Lord's messenger found Hagar and told her to go back, even to the abusiveness, so that her son may receive the blessing of his father, and with the promise that "I will make your descendants so numerous that they will be too many to count ... for the Lord has heard you" she returned.  She bore Abram a son, his firstborn, and named him Ishmael.  Sarai conceived a son in her old age, and bore Abram a son named Isaac.  In simple tradition, through Isaac came the Hebrew people ... through Ishmael came the Arab family.  But both the sons of Sarai and Hagar received and became the source of blessings, and are Fathers to vast families.

      For lots of reasons these families see each other as enemies, in opposition to each other.  But they are children of Abraham, children of the promise, and in each is found blessing.

     As children of Abraham as well, maybe we need to see that reality more clearly and strive to be "bridge builders".  The world needs all of the blessings that it can  find.


     Last evening at the Catholic Heart Work Camp gathering at our school, a number of us heard confessions in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Over three hundred  are sharing the week, praying and helping those in need.  The grace that flowed from the Sacrament last night was tremendous.  My thanks to the kids who made this possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


     It is truly remarkable that today's post is my 100th!  It just seems like I just got started, and my thanks to my friend, Mike Ripple, for getting me going on this adventure.

     I really enjoy the experience.  I have shared this with others, but when I was in school, I was the quiet kid who never spoke up or expressed an opinion.  I think we need to blame the Lord for the change since Ordination.

    For the 100th, I would like to share two comments received recently.  One is from a classmate from Altoona, John Prosperi, who said: "I love your commentaries and stories that always hit the point with ease in reading.  I hope you enjoy writing your daily entries as much as I enjoy reading them.  It's a great connection with your ministry and truly upholds the fact that indeed wisdom does come with age!! ... Technology has allowed you to share your talents with the multitudes."  Thanks, John.
     The other is from one of my favorite bloggers - Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia fame.  Rocco emailed to send kudos.  He said: "I've already seen your post. "  He commented regarding the post on Saint Damian of Molokai.  I had asked if I could reference him and Whispers in the Loggia on occasion, and he graciously said yes.  His words provide great encouragement, and I am indeed grateful for his efforts to contact me.

     As of this posting, I have had 2,767 page views (people who have check out the blog).   I am humbled.  I pledge to continue to share with you my journey in the most positive way possible (the world is too full of negativity).  I can never be a Rocco Palmo (who has 18,805,985 page views!), but I will strive to use this means to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  God bless you.

     My sister, Janie, said that I should have fireworks for the 100th.  Couldn't figure that out, so I did it in red, white & blue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catholic Heart Work Camp - 2

     I mentioned in yesterday's post the Catholic Heart Work Camp meeting at the Bishop Bosco Center in our area.  These youngsters give up a week of their summer to join in an adventure of service and lived faith.  While staying at the school and "camping out", they spend the days working in a variety of settings.  This year the work sites include: Westmoreland County Food Bank, American Red Cross, Greensburg YMCA, Saint Vincent de Paul Society, 3 chapters of Faith in Action, Bridge to Recovery, Briarcliff Pavilion, Meals on Wheels referrals, Saint Emma Monastery, Area Agency on Aging, and the pastoral ministry referrals of Immaculate Conception and Saint Agnes Parishes.  They help those who are elderly, the disadvantaged or the disabled in various areas of the community and in Westmoreland County.

     In addition, they share prayer with daily Mass, a program tonight of Eucharistic Adoration and Praise and Worship, a "Four Corners" experience on Wednesday that includes Reconciliation, and a "testimonial" program on Thursday that involves clients and participating agencies.  What a program ... what a week ... what great kids!


     Last evening I made my annual journey to Saint Sebastian in Belle Vernon for the anniversary Mass for the Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group - the Valley of Hope.  When I arrived in Belle Vernon in the summer of 1975 there was a group just forming a prayer group.  Being involved in the Renewal, we worked together to provide an opportunity for Charismatic Prayer in the mid Mon Valley.  Yesterday was the 36th anniversary, and I was glad to be with many old and many new friends.

     I say this more of myself than of those there last evening, but boy are we aging!  Our numbers are fewer, having lost a good number of the "original" group.  And we are beginning to look our age.  But when you are with friends, who cares.

     Waiting to go into Mass, I gentleman walked by on his way to a meeting.  He said hello, then had a moment of recognition and said: "You're Father Len, aren't you?"  He said that he had just checked out JOURNEY THOUGHTS.  I thanked him.  I also got to say hello to my ordination mate and pastor of Saint Sebastian, Monsignor Roger Statnick.  I was a good evening.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Catholic Heart Work Camp - 1

     Our regional catholic school building, the Bishop Bosco Center, is once again hosting a gathering of outstanding Catholic Youth from around the country for a week long experience of lived Faith.  Called Catholic Heart Work Camp, this Greensburg PA Camp runs from mid day Sunday, June 19th through Friday morning following the closing Mass.  The kids and their adult leaders live at the school building, and go out in groups of seven (six youth and one adult) to minister to the needs of countless people in the area.  There will be approximately 45 teams.  Kids will come from thirteen parish or regional groups from Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin.  There are 258 young people ages 14 - 20 expected, along with 61 adults, 14 staff members, 2 priests, 2 seminarians, 2 women Religious and 2 deacons - a total of 333 people.

     Catholic Heart Work Camp lists as its mission a two fold aim:

1) To share the love of Jesus and serve the neglected, brokenhearted and marginalized in any way needed.  The Catholic HEART Workcamp mission is to revitalize communities and beautify homes for the elderly, disabled and those who cannot afford needed repairs.  Our goal is to inspire participants to serve in their local communities.

2) To empower participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others.  To foster the spiritual growth of each participant through the Sacraments, Catholic faith sharing and prayer.

    Very admirable goals.  In another post I'll share with you who they will be helping as well as what their prayer experiences will be.  We welcome CHWC to the area.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


     Trinity Sunday - a celebration of our experience of the One, True God.  One of the essential hallmarks of our Faith Tradition is the belief that there is only ONE God.  He (and we say "he" not to limit or restrict, but so that we can speak of God in our limited language) is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God that the Prophet called Allah, but most importantly for us, the One that Jesus referred to as Father.  Our monotheistic Faith defines who we are in the midst of a world that even today worships a multitude of gods in our everyday lives.

     But that One God reveals Himself to us in distinct ways: as a creator God, a life-giver, one who calls all things into being, as Father as Jesus calls Him;  as Savior and Redeemer in the unique God-man Jesus, sent by the Father to atone for our sins and restore us to a place of glory as children of God - this Jesus who is Lord and brother; and in a spirit of Renewing Love that empowers us to accept the life of the Creator and live as the Redeemed, building a world that reflects the Kingdom of God in our midst and our longing  for its fulfillment in Eternity.

     Trinity is a mystery ... to understand Three unique Persons in One God requires a leap of Faith.  It requires the love of the Father, the call of Son, and the empowerment of the Spirit.  It demands that we celebrate the fact that "God is with us" - that in Jesus we find the way to the Father, and through Jesus the Advocate intercedes for us before the throne of God.

     That is why we gather and are blessed "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  AMEN

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's an honor

     Yesterday as I was leaving the office and going out to lunch, I made a left onto Route 30 at the light and someone waiting at the light yelled "Hey, Father!"  I waved.  In the post on the Memorial Day parade, I had mentioned that many saw me riding in the parade and waved and said Hi.  By our position we have great recognizability.  By the gift of Orders we have been given that title.  By faithful service we are given great love.

     I am not someone hung up on titles.  I always say ... call me, whatever, just don't forget to call me for supper.  Responding to "Father Len" or "Padre" comes easily after 38 years, without even thinking.  But yesterday, with Fathers' Day at hand, the greeting at the intersection touched a cord.

     I am honored to be trusted with that title - Father.  I bear it as a servant of the Son of the Heavenly Father.  I am humbled that people of all ages and backgrounds - older than me and a lot smarter - see me as their spiritual father and friend.  I have no children of my own but I have a world that accepts me and welcomes me into their lives in that capacity.  How blest I am ... how blest we are who have been called by God and affirmed by his people to this role of love.

     To all of our Dad's, living and dead, on this Fathers' Day tomorrow, may you know our love and respect and find great blessing.  And to my Dad in Heaven, in particular, Janie and I love you!

Friday, June 17, 2011


     It was one week ago as of this posting that I sat in our neighboring Saint Agnes Church and enjoyed the program conducted by the youngsters from Saint Agnes and our parish of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton to round out their week long vacation bible school.  It was an inspiring and entertaining program.

     Vacation Bible School is an experience in our neck of the woods that takes place very soon after the school year ends.  The kids are invited to come and learn, to share and pray, to enjoy a different example of lived Faith.  Directed by a great group of catechists and helpers, under the direction of Mary Blythe of Saint Agnes and Sister Charlene of SEAS,and led musically by Diana Mikash and an outstanding group of musicians, the week centered upon getting the message of Jesus out to all the world, to every culture and peoples.  Specifically they looked at Italy, Peru, Japan and the Philippines (with Father Joseph, who is assigned to Saint Agnes and is from the Philippines, giving first hand insights).

     Nearly seventy youngsters took part ... and as I began telling about the closing program, I can tell you that it was rousing and moving.  The joy of our youth is indeed catching.  Congratulations to all involved.  And to all who have a VBS in your parish or area, I hope yours was as great as ours.


     Speaking of VBS ... one of the most interesting and unique ones that I have experienced was in Masontown, Pennsylvania, when I was pastor of All Saints parish.  The entire town held a week long VBS that was intergenerational.  It was held each evening, so that more could attend.  It was held at All Saints, because we had the facilities.  Everyone would gather for welcome and prayer before breaking up into age groups.  I always led the adult discussion (because it was in the church which was air conditioned!).  We concluded with a joint time of worship and refreshments.  It was a different experience including the very young to those not so young.  I still treasure those memories.  It was good to be in a small town setting, where you could do such creative things.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Summer Cold

     Sorry about missing a post yesterday ... but as the title says, a summer cold has set in and I spent a great deal of time sleeping.

     Before I crashed yesterday, I officiated at the funeral service for a gentleman the same age that I am.  His name was Don Bonazzo.  He was a real estate agent and from what I gathered a friendly and gentle guy.  I told his sister, Ann, and those gathered that what he did so well in life - finding a house for those seeking a home - is what we are about in the Church.  We have the greatest "real estate agent" there ever was.  He provides a mansion for us in which each of us has a place.  In fact, the gospel I used was John 14:1-6 where we are assured by Christ that there are many dwelling places in his Father's house, and that he was going to prepare a place for us.  He shows us the "listing" through the wisdom and guidance of the Church, he assures us that the price is right (in fact, it has already been paid in the fullest way possible), and that when the time is right, he will show us the way, take us home, welcome us into his glory.  If we want a glimpse of that eternal home, then we must follow Christ, for he is "the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."

     Please say a prayer for Don Bonazzo, for his peaceful rest in the mansion prepared for him by the Father.


     Today's Gospel (Mt 6:7-15) gives us the prayer that Jesus taught his friends.  Often a teacher or rabbi would share a prayer with his followers that would distinguish them as belonging to his group.  When asked for a prayer, Jesus taught

'Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Call

     Time and time again we hear the call of God, the invitation to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:42)   What a challenge!  One of my frequent departure sayings is "Be good".  This goes way beyond that.  It is difficult enough to be good ... to be perfect takes it to an entirely new level ... and to be perfect as the Father is perfect - Wow!

     Paul reminds us today in 2 Corinthians (2Cor 8:1-9) that the grace of God has been given to the church, poured out so that they/we may embrace what comes our way and run with it, that we may recommit to service of both God and each other and the world, that our lives be lived in love and charity, that we be Christ to and for others.  This is part of what it means to be God-like, to be holy, to be perfect.  This is the Call.  A daunting task, an impossible dream, apart from the awesome grace and blessing of God.  But with him and in him and through him nothing is impossible.

     Give your YES to the Call.  Give you THANKS for the grace of God.  Give your LOVE to all entrusted to your care.  And give PRAISE to God for his trust in us.


     Keep in your prayers the bishops of the United States as they meet in Session in Seattle this week.  There are many important items on their agenda including a review of child protection policies.  If you are interested in a great insight into Church news and the like, I invite you to check out one of my favorite blogs, Whispers in the Loggia  by Rocco Palmo.  He also gives extensive coverage to the Bishops' Conference.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ezekiel 37

     Ezekiel 37 refers to the passage from the Hebrew Scriptures that describes the vision given to the prophet of a field of dry bones and the invitation of the Lord to call them to life as a mighty army of God.  It is one of my favorites, and a great story.  It is one of the options for the readings for the Vigil of Pentecost.

     Ezekiel 37 also refers to a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Community that meets at Mt. St. Peter Church in New Kensigton, Pennsylvania.  They were given that name and the challenge to bring to life the "dry bones" of faith found in their river valley.  They have been at the task with great success for the last forty years, and yesterday I joined them in a celebration of that anniversary.  Celebrating on the great feast of Pentecost was truly fitting.  We celebrated Eucharist at 3:00 pm and continued with a wonderful dinner for all.  I was honored to be the presider and the homilist.

     Ezekiel 37's story is interesting and filled with the workings of God.  From the Spring of 1971 until today, the words of their pastor in the beginning, Monsignor Nicola Fusco continue to ring true.  He would tell the parishioners at Sunday morning Mass: "There is something wonderful going on in the Marble Hall on Monday nights ... those people really know how to pray ... try to come."  Marble Hall is the parish hall beneath the church.  This line from Ezekiel 37 says it all: "My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

     I am grateful for the generous hospitality of the Steering Committee, the priests of Mt. St. Peter Church, Monsignor Michael J. Begolly, the pastor, and Father Doug Dorula, the Parochial Vicar, and Father John Izral who joined us.  Sister Ann Infanger, SC, moderator of the Prayer Groups of the Diocese was also present.  The Lord truly blessed the day and all who shared in the festivities.


     I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the great feast of Saint Anthony of Padua celebrated today.  Anthony is much beloved by a multitude of people (in fact, our numbers at Mass this morning were greater than usual).  I will be attending the festivities at Ascension Parish in Jeannette this evening.  Ascension is a parish of Italian background, and while many love Anthony, the Italians have taken him as their own.  In addition to Mass tonight, we will share a great dinner in their best tradition.  Looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost reflection

     It has been a busy day, thus the lateness of the post.  This morning and again in a homily this afternoon I mentioned that yesterday, at my high school Prep reunion, something exceptional happened.  Saint Vincent Prep (the high school department of Saint Vincent Archabbey) was a part of the mission of Saint Vincent from 1867 untill the early 1970's.  With that now gone, there is a desire to chronicle some of that history and experience.  They are attempting to do this through video taped oral accounts from the Prep alumni.  At lunch, the twelve in attendance from our class decided to do it as a group.  But fortunately we had to wait our turn.

     While waiting in the old Prep building, we ended up in our old study hall, reminiscing about old times, teachers, prefects, fellow prepsters, experiences.  The stories brought laughter and remembering.  We had a good time in the nearly hour wait.

     But something unexpected happened when we went in for the taping.  Instead of continuing to tell antidotes, the guys began to speak of the great Benedictine traditions that we experienced, the excellent priests and laity that gave us a tremendous high school education, the formation - intellectually, socially, spiritually, morally - that was an exceptional gift to a thirteen year old away from home for the first time.  They spoke of the foundation that we received.

     They also pointed out how this foundation allowed them to prosper in life.  A number spoke of the disciple and routine of those days and how it made it somewhat easier when they went into the military service.  Some spoke of the educational background and academic encouragement that gave them the impetus to persue degrees and teaching careers.  One spoke of how those years helped him in his capacity as head of a juvenile facility - where co-workers would remark in wonder that he knew they could make a difference in the lives of those kids.  Another spoke of his positions of responsibility in the business field, and credited Saint Vincent with paving the way.  I was impressed.  They remembered the past with mostly fondness ... they acknowledged that the blessings of those days allowed them to make a difference in the world ... but it wasn't just a "past" thing - they continue to bring the Prep experience into their relationship, their families, their work, and in all areas of their lives.

     That is what PENTECOST is to be for us - this Birthday of the Church.  It is to be a time of remembering our journey, of acknowledging the blessings of God in our lives and how those blessings have been fleshed out, but also a time of renewing, refreshing, recommitting ourselves to continue to live out the Call that each of us has received.  Pentecost is about telling our story, rejoicing in our accomplishments, and pledging to continue to live out the Gospel.  I hope it has been that for you.  I thank my classmates for helping me understand the reality of Pentecost a little better.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reunion Weekend

     Well, the reunion has begun.  Last evening the Benedictine Community let their German heritage show as they welcomed the Saint Vincent Prep Alumni with "Offen Haus", a German Buffet and Social and set the stage for a day of remembering and of celebrating the legacy of our High School years (some can include their college years).  Archabbot Douglas Nowicki (class of '63) and Brother Norman Hipps, President of the College (class of '61) welcomed us.

     All Prep Reunions are all school affairs, with specific anniversary classes honored.  The class of '65 is celebrating 46 years, and a number have turned out.  Six of our diocesan seminary students out of the fifteen graduates (three have died) came back.  In addition, there were at least five of the Benedictine guys there as well.  We took pictures.  Two of our class are being honored as Prep Hall of Fame Recipients: Rev. Dr. Bill Hisker (a permanent deacon in our diocese and faculty member at Saint Vincent) and Marty Mullen of Virginia.  They are joined by Thomas Bauer, Father Gilbert Burke and Brother Norman Hipps, both of Saint Vincent, Ron Rosemeier and Leo West.  Also two faculty recipients: Father Chrysostom Schlimm, O.S.B. and Mr. Charles Manoli.

     I have posted a picture of our class of diocesan students from the old days.  Yours truly is in the left back row in front of  the lamp shade.  I hope that your Pentecost eve is one of joyful anticipation of the continued blessings of God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Busy Weekend

     Much on the agenda for this weekend.  First and foremost, it is the great Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, the feast of the Spirit, the conclusion of the Easter Season.  Secondly, I will be attending my High School All School Reunion at Saint Vincent in Latrobe (our class is 46 years out).  And thirdly, on Sunday I have been asked to celebrate and preach the 40th Anniversary of the Ezekiel 37 Charismatic Prayer Community in New Kensington, PA, which I deem a great honor and joy.

     As I mentioned in an earlier post, I entered seminary formation after my eighth grade year.  Being from a Polish parish, most of the guys who went to seminary attended Orchard Lake in Michigan.  I wanted to go to the former Saint John the Evangelist High School in Uniontown through the seminary program, but they were full and I was not from that parish.  Father Norbert Gaughan (mentioned in a previous post) made sure that I was enrolled at Saint Vincent Prep School in Latrobe, for which I am eternally grateful.  In my sophomore year, the newly established diocesan minor seminary of Saint Joseph Hall became our residence with classes continuing at Saint Vincent.  We were "day-hops", riding the old yellow school bus every day to classes.

     Saint Vincent is a Benedictine community that was established in 1846 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania by Father Boniface Wimmer from Bavaria.  It is an Archabbey that contains a Monastery, Major Seminary, College, and at one time the Prep School - which served as a regular prep school for boys from the area until our class ... the first of all priesthood students.  We were the beginning of the end for the prep.  I arrived at the prep in the Fall of 1961 and graduated in the Spring of 1965.

     The reunion is an all school affair held every other year on campus with three days of activities.  We begin this evening with a cook out.  I'll share some observations tomorrow.  Have a wonderful PENTECOST WEEKEND!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

     Last evening I attended a celebration of Evening Prayer honoring the 2011 Recipients of the Certificate in Pastoral Ministry in the Diocese of Greensburg.  Held at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, the prayer was led by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt with Marsha Cable, Director of the Office of Lay Ecclesial Ministry serving as MC.  One of our parishioners, Jeff Cieslewicz, was honored.  His wife and daughter were also in attendance.

     The Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program is a joint venture of Seton Hill University and the Diocese of Greensburg. Designed originally to develop and promote competent women and men for service as lay ecclesial ministers, the program also now serves as a resource to the diocesan Office for the Permanent Diaconate.  The goal of the program is the integration of the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of adults who are committed to the mission of Christ in the Catholic Church.  Their main focus is service of the People of God in a variety of ecclesial settings.

     Yesterday's group was the fourth in the history of the program, with just shy of fifty people  having received Certificates to date.  Last evening there were sixteen recipients honored.  The bishop spoke of the role of the laity in ministry, the history of the program, and the hope for the future.  He also gave credit to our Bishop Emeritus Anthony G. Bosco for initiating this endeavor in advance of the national efforts.  Bishop Bosco's vision was the strengthening and affirming of the roles of the laity in the Church.

     There are countless men and women serving the Church, with and without Certificates.  To all of them we express gratitude.  And to these who so certified, we offer our congratulations and prayers for their work in the future life of God's People.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Savage wolves and the hatred of the world

     What readings for this Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter - Acts 20:28-38 and John 17:11b-19!  Words of warning surrounded by words of encouragement.  Paul is about to leave the Church at Ephesus and warns them that they will be attacked from without and from within.  The attackers will not spare the flock.  They will be savage.  Jesus, in praying for his followers to the Father in their hearing, reminds them that the world will hate them for the truth that they possess.  The Evil One cannot stand the light of that truth.

     But Jesus prays the protection of the Father's love upon his followers ... he consecrates them in Truth, and encourages them to hold fast to the relationships that flow from their love for him.  Paul prays with the Church in Ephesus and exhorts them to keep watch over the whole flock.  He reminds them that while it will not be easy, that it may even cost them their lives, he is commending them to the gracious word of Christ that will build them up and give them a glorious inheritance.

     A good friend, Mike, in yesterday's blog pray-lium, spoke of "spiritual stalls", when it seems that everything conspires against the good work that you are trying to do.  If I'm on the right side, in the correct camp, doing the Lord's work, why are things sometimes so difficult?  Why am I stalled?  The answer is in today's readings.  We possess a message that is not welcome.  We bear a light that cuts through the darkness, a darkness that some love to keep close to their hearts.  We have not been promised an easy task ... but we have been promised the glory of God and the security of his love.  Jesus prayed that we may be one in the Father and in Jesus and their Spirit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


     Yesterday on Face book I received pictures from friends of mine of their daughter's commencement.  They were wonderful to behold.  Debbie and Greg Lofstead, great friends since my days at All Saints in Masontown (Greg used to own a wonderful restaurant called Dolfi's where I spent a great deal of my time when not ministering) are obviously very proud of their daughter, Maria.

     When I arrived at All Saints, Maria was in the first graduating class from Kindergarten, in the old gym, with a proud mom & dad present.  This past weekend saw another graduation, this time of Doctor Maria E. Lofstead, who received her Doctorate from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.  She has grown to be a beautiful woman that not only mom & dad but so many others, myself included, are very proud of.  Congratulations to Dr. Lofstead.

     But ... am I feeling like time is moving too fast?  You bet.  There have been so many, like Maria, whose lives I have been honored to be a part of who have grown and excelled in many areas of life.  They bring joy to the heart, and I find great blessings in them.  Thank God for our young people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Second Post - D-Day Remembered

     June 6th marks the beginning of the great assault upon the beaches of Normandy by the Allied Forces in World War II.  It was a massive undertaking and many lives were lost and changed forever.  It also was a rallying moment to those who opposed the enemies to freedom.

     My Dad was there, in one of the first waves on Omaha Beach.  He was shot, but rescued.  He recuperated in England for the remainder of his time in Europe.  He never spoke of it until much later in life, when he began to open up and take a more noticeable pride in what was sacrificed and accomplished.  He was proud to be of that "Greatest Generation".

      To all of those who were there on D-Day and who served during that war, to those who died on that field of battle that day, to those wounded and traumatized, and to those who served their Country in that great effort - the thanks of a grateful nation.

A Different Remembrance

     Today the Church celebrates Saint Norbert.  Norbert, who lived in the early 1,100's was founder of the Canons Regular of Premontre, the Archbishop of Magdeburg,  and a strong supporter of Church reform and evangelization.  In the opening prayer at Mass it says: "Father, you made the bishop Norbert an outstanding minister of your Church, renowned for his preaching and pastoral zeal."

     In this Diocese, in my lifetime, there was another Norbert who became a bishop.  His name was Norbert Gaughan, and he was our Auxiliary and then Diocesan Bishop of Gary, Indiana.  He died some years ago.  Every time I celebrate the feast of Saint Norbert I remember and think of the other Norbert.  I'm not sure everyone would place the two Norberts together in the ranks of recognized sainthood.

     Our Norbert was a brilliant man, a gifted preacher, and was placed in the realm of administration.  He was the "get the job done" guy for Bishop Connare.  He could be abrasive, short tempered, frustrating.  If you were a priest, you  probably had stories, some of which were not flattering.  While with us he would help out with the late Sunday Mass at Saint Mary in the small town of Export.  Often there were transitional deacons assigned to the parish, and he would have them preach.  Invariably they will tell you of the time that Norbert, after they had finished preaching, would get up and say: "Now what the deacon really meant to say was ...".  When one of our guys was being ordained a deacon in his home parish, the choir was moving into verse three or four of the opening hymn when Norbert actually stopped them mid-phrase, saying " don't you think this guy waited long enough to be ordained?"

     But to my point ... I've seen another side of Norbert Gaughan that helps me appreciate him in a different light.  He was our assistant pastor at my home parish while I was growing up, a heyday in the history of Saint Joseph Parish.  They had a young pastor that they loved and a great assistant, whose preaching brought people from all over.  He baptized my sister, Janie.  When I went to seminary, he was instrumental in getting me into Saint Vincent Prep and guiding my journey throughout those years.  I, too, was a deacon in Export, and never once did he "interpret" my homily (not that they were that good, but he just didn't).  When ordained, he took photos of the ceremony from his place and later sent them to me (he was an amateur photographer).  In one assignment, when we were building a new church and I was not involved, he insisted that I be included in the meetings.  Father Norbert - Monsignor Gaughan - Bishop Gaughan could be seen in a multitude of ways, some frustrating and some endearing.  But he was, as is today's Norbert, an outstanding minister of the Church ... renowned for his preaching and pastoral zeal, and we are grateful.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


     As a priest, one of the most challenging experiences is the move, the transfer from one parish to another.  Sometimes it is expected, sometimes it is welcomed, sometimes it is a total surprise and sometimes it is a disappointment.  I've lived through seven such experiences.  In my time and in our area there is no consultation or discussion with the man involved.  It is challenging, to say the least.

     From the time that you are told, through the time when it begins to sink in and you begin to wrap up and start saying good bye, to the time of your arrival and the start of a renewed ministry, there are a few quiet moments of reflection.  Those moments often have you reflecting upon who you are as a priest, the effect that you have had on people, the good accomplished in the past years, and a sadness upon leaving that behind.  But you also look ahead.  You've been given the stats, you have visited the place, you've been filled in on the situation, and ideas are beginning to form regarding the plan of action.

     It is a reflective time, a time of uncertainty and apprehension, with a desire to get started.

     This time between the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven and the coming of the Advocate at Pentecost is like that transition period.  The gang gathered in the quiet of the upper room for deep and intense prayer.  There was plenty of reflective thought.  Anticipation was building.  There was hesitancy mixed with the desire to get on to the task. They dwelt upon all that they had seen, had learned, had been told, had been instructed to do.  They wondered what this Paraclete would be like, what it would mean to their lives, and what would happen.  And then it happened ... the Spirit came upon them ... and we know the story.

     We too can use these days to reflect, renew, and recommit to the task given us by Jesus - to build and to be Church, to welcome all to the truth and life, to be Christ for others.  Come, Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth.


     I had the honor of welcoming into the family of God through Baptism little Jacob Mark Lenart, son of Jeff and Julie Lenart during the 11:00 am Mass.  Jacob was born May 20th - very tiny and very beautiful.  We celebrated his welcome with great joy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Steps to Holiness

     In these days leading to Pentecost, it would be good to reflect upon our spiritual journey.  In reading the May issue of the magazine "Inside the Vatican" (which I like a lot), I ran across  some thoughts given by Pope Benedict XVI on April 13th on the meaning of holiness and how we can achieve it.  He gives three simple rules for living a holy life.

     "Never let a Sunday go by without an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an added burden, it is light for the entire week."

     "Never begin or end a day without at least a brief contact with God" in prayer.

     "And along the pathway of our lives, follow the road signs that God has given us in the Ten Commandments, read in the light of Christ; they are nothing other than explanations of what love is in specific situations."

     He goes on to say "I must say that, personally, for my faith, many saints - not all of them - are true stars in the firmament of history.  But I also want to say that for me it is not just the great saints, whom I know well, who show me the path to follow, but the simple saints - the good people whom I have known in my life and who will never be canonized."

     Those thoughts speak to my heart.  I hope they touch yours as well.


     Today is "Burger Bash Day" in Irwin, and I just got back.  What is "Burger Bash"?  A number of non profits in  the area hold these fund raisers, but very few reach the level of our neighboring parish of Immaculate Conception in downtown Irwin.  While it is officially called IC Burger Bash, everyone refers to it as Father John's burger bash - Father John being their pastor, Father John Moineau - a young and energetic guy who started the tradition.

     Once a month during the summer on a Saturday morning/early afternoon, many volunteers grill burgers and onions and sell then at $2.50 each.  Just the burger and bun, and onions if desired.  You can also purchase chips, soda etc "a la carte".  The burgers are really good, and the onions are even better.  All of this is done in the church parking lot, where tents are set up.  They cook and usually sell out nearly 3,500 burger each Bash.  This fund raiser is also a great community builder, bringing people from all over.  Last year at one of the events, I ran into our own bishop, Bishop Brandt, sharing in the experience.

     Our thanks and congratulations goes out to Father John and the people of IC.  ps. grilling the onions as usual was Father John, after having morning Mass and a funeral, and before a wedding this afternoon and an evening Mass.  Thank God he is young and energetic.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day remembered

     This past Monday was Memorial Day in our nation, a day of remembering those who died in the service and defense of this country.  Many articles and blogs reflected upon how we have forgotten the true meaning of the day.  In many ways that is true.

     But here in the Irwin/North Huntingdon Township area Memorial Day is a big thing, especially the parade and cemetery service.  It is locally one of the biggest parades of the year.  This year, in a momentary lack of good judgement, they asked me to take part.  The parade started at ten o'clock and proceeded to Union Cemetery.  I got to ride in a limo in the parade.  It was uplifting and affirming to hear so many shout a greeting of recognition.  Then there were those who said: "There's that priest - what's his name?" or "Hi, Father Rick" (my predecessor - its a good thing we're good friends and I'm not insecure).  Pastor Patrick Ewing of the Ardara U.P. Church also shared in the prayer task, and shared the ride.  He too received many greetings.

     At the cemetery, the program was long (given the temperature) but very moving.  This year the local organizers - the VFW & the American Legion - honored a local man, Staff Sgt. Robert "Bobby" Acalotto, who went missing in action on February 20, 1971 on the Vietnam-Laos border, some forty years ago this year.  His family received the military and civic recognition and honors.  The speeches, the songs, the military honors from the Honor Guard, and even the prayers of Pastor Ewing and myself gave solemnity and proper dignity to a community's remembering.  I was truly glad for the opportunity.

     My Dad did not lose his life in WWII, but came back to serve the community as a policeman.  He and all those who have served, whether killed in action or having died later or still serving or who have entered into civilian life and are still with us, deserve the thanks of a grateful nation.  And Memorial Day needs to be a Day of Remembering.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rest in Peace

     The Diocese of Greensburg in which I minister is a small Diocese served by a small but mighty band of priests.  So when one dies, it deeply affects us.  This past weekend we lost two of our priests.  On Sunday Father Leonard McAlpin died after battling cancer.  He was 67 years old, and had been a priest for 42 years.  And on Monday, Father Henry Murphy, our oldest priest at 95, died peacefully in San Diego, where he lived.  He was a priest for nearly 71 years.

     Len, like many of our priests, was not originally from the Diocese, but came to serve us from Summit Hill, Pennsylvania in the Allentown Diocese.  In fact, he will be buried from his home parish there on Friday of this week.  Having attended Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, he was ordained for our Diocese by the late Bishop William G. Connare.  Father McAlpin served in many parishes and assignments over the years, and was chaplain of Saint Anne Home in Greensburg since 2008 until the present.  One of our priests emailed us with his thoughts of Len, saying that he admired and remembers the humility with which he bore his burden of depression over the years, the reverence with which he celebrated Mass, his articulate and hope-filled homilies and for the exemplary way he accepted the suffering and prospect of suffering that went with his cancer and treatments "Whatever God wills!"  I think that says volumes, and I thank him for sharing those thoughts.

     Murph was a gentle soul, a really great guy.  His service began in the Pittsburgh Diocese where he was ordained in 1940.  He was assigned in a parish of the newly established Greensburg Diocese when we were formed in 1951, and thus became one of us.  Murph was easy going, gentle (the operative word), and a good priest.  A variety of assignments here, a time of service in LA and again in his later years in San Diego, where, until his recent illness, he served as chaplain of a nursing home even in retirement.  Father Murphy loved to travel, and would just get up and go, calling from wherever he ended up.  I remember answering the phone one day in my first assignment in Irwin.  It was Murph calling to see if any changes were out as yet (it was transfer time).  I asked where he was ... he said he took the bus to Florida for a few days.  I remember a few years ago visiting him in California - his mind was sharp, even while his body was beginning to fail.  He touched countless lives.

     To both of these men, our deepest thanks and gratitude.  Our prayers are that they share the rest and the peace that the Good Shepherd has for those who answered the call to be shepherds.  Requiescat in pace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Justin Martyr on weekly worship

     Today the Church celebrates Justin, a martyr, layman and early defender of the faith to the emperor.  He gives us an early description of the Eucharistic celebration.   Here is basically what he says to the emperor:

a)     On the first day of the week, the day named after the sun, all
who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place
(common worship of the assembly) ...
b)     The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are
read, as long as time permits (Liturgy of the Word) ...
c)     An instruction is given by the presider, an exhortation to imitate
these good things (homily) ...
d)     Prayers for the common good are offered, for all present, for the
newly baptized, for those absent (intercessions)...
e)     Bread and wine, and water, are brought forward, and the presider
offers prayers and thanksgivings, and the people assent, saying
Amen (preparation of gifts & Eucharistic prayer)...
f)     There is a distribution of that over which thanks has been given
by the deacons to those present who are washed clean in baptism,
who believe the things that the community teaches, and who are
living as Christ has enjoined them (Communion) ...
g)     Those who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit;
and what is collected is deposited with the presider, who take care
of the needy (stewardship and charity) ...

     Does any of this sound familiar?  What was described took place around 150, but it fairly well describes our gathering for Sunday Eucharist today.  Thank God for the unity we have with the early Church, and the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and worship.