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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: February 2012
Wednesday
“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.” (Mark 1:12)
 
(Click here for complete readings. Audio option. Courtesy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
 
How many of us really have been to the desert, let alone spent any time there? In 2001, after the tragic events of that fateful September morning, I had the fortune and the grace to go to the desert. For three months I was privileged to live on the edge of the Saguaro National Desert in Tucson, AZ. Simplicity and silence at its best in the midst of a desert beauty that has to be lived, not just seen, to be appreciated.
 
Of course, it would have been the lap of luxury in Jesus’ time. Comfortable individual hermitages, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the wild of the desert, all in air-conditioned comfort! Simple yet nourishing food (grasshoppers and other such delicacies NOT on the menu).
 
In the desert one is confronted with SILENCE. Perhaps “confronted” is too strong a word. A better choice would be invited! Yes, one is invited into the SILENCE.
 
We live in a world in which we are bombarded by NOISE. We wake up in the morning, if not to an old-fashioned alarm clock, then to our iPhones, iPods or iPads gently singing us awake with our latest selection of favorite wake-up music. We listen to music, or even watch television, in our bathrooms.
 
We run to the kitchen where the automatic coffee maker has already brewed our beverage of choice. Our ears are assaulted on the way to work, riding the elevator, entering the classroom and even in our places of worship. NOISE, NOISE, NOISE! How do we hear God speaking to us through all the cacophony?
 
Is the NOISE of our lives our own choosing? Does the NOISE dull us to the realities around us, to the pain or disappointment we may be feeling? To the anger, mistrust, frustration that often invades our spaces? Are we hiding behind the NOISE so that we can keep God and others out?
 
Jesus was led out into the desert by the Holy Spirit. For what? To be tempted by Satan. Have no doubt, Jesus knew evil. He witnessed, and witnesses still, the evil that we often impose on one another. He had firsthand knowledge of humans’ inhumanity toward one another. Call it evil. Call it original sin. Call it the devil or Satan. Jesus saw what not loving could achieve.
 
He overcame these temptations and he gives us the grace we need to overcome them also — with his help. When we falsely believe that we are walking through the desert alone — fear not, he is walking right beside us. Courage!
 
Father James McDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1984 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He is currently stationed at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ.
 

More reflections:
Getting Back to Basics: What Lent IS and IS NOT
 

  

Monday

 

 Video recorded at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, New York, NY

 

Wednesday
Getting Back to Basics: What Lent IS and IS NOT
 
Who of us of a certain age cannot remember that wonderful scene from the Sound of Music as Maria (Julie Andrews) attempts to teach the Von Trapp children to sing? For some reason they are clueless. So Maria, in her own way teaches them:
 
“Let’s start at the very beginning
a very good place to start
when you read you begin with A-B-C
when you sing you begin with DO-RE-MI…”
 
The words of this song are ingrained in most of our collective memories. If we are too old to sing them, then we are just too old!
 
As we begin this Lenten Retreat together, perhaps it’s a good idea for us to “begin at the very beginning” and understand what the season of Lent is truly all about. Perhaps the Prophet Joel, whom we hear in the first reading from the Ash Wednesday liturgy, should be our jumping off point. (Click here for the complete readings.)
 
“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God.”(Joel 2:12-13)
 
I remember attending church on Ash Wednesday as a child, being signed with the ashes and then trying to make it through the school day with those ashes still in place. We stood out, people looked at us, many understanding, others perhaps smirking behind our backs.
 
We wore those ashes like badges. But as a child, did I truly understand the meaning of it all? Not really. Actually, even as I move into “the not-so-golden–era” of my life, I am still trying to understand what this Lenten journey is all about.
 
Lent is NOT about spiritual gymnastics. Will I make it through the next 40 days, sticking doggedly to my resolutions? Will this be the year that I finally root out all that is in me that is still not of God? Does that even happen here or somewhere after the grave? Truthfully, I can’t answer these questions.
 
I believe that Lent is simply about being honest and admitting, as much as it may hurt, that I am not God. I don’t have all the answers even when I pretend I do. I am not the best apple in the barrel, nor am I the worst. Truth be told, I am somewhere in-between. That is what Lent is for me this year. In the midst of life changes, between the ups and the downs, the highs and lows, I drift somewhere in-between.
 
This Lent let’s begin at the very beginning. STOP! BREATHE! LISTEN! FORGIVE! LOVE YOURSELF! LOVE GOD! LOVE OTHERS!
 
Will it be as easy as singing DO-RE-MI? Perhaps, for some of us. Maybe we just have to be patient and practice
 

Father James McDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1984 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He is currently stationed at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ.

 

 

Saturday

Click here to read the complete obituary.

Father John Barry, who spent the majority of his priesthood serving in parishes in the Vice Province of Richmond — from Virginia to Florida — died February 18 in New Smyrna Beach, FL. He was 90.

A wake service will be held February 20 at 7 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 998 Father Donlan Drive, New Smyrna Beach, FL. A funeral Mass will be celebrated February 21 at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart. Burial will follow at Edgewater Cemetery.

Father Barry, a native of Boston, professed vows as a Redemptorist August 2, 1942, and was ordained to the priesthood June 20, 1948. After ordination, he studied classical languages at Catholic University before spending seven years teaching at St. Mary’s High School Seminary in North East, PA. He went on to serve in several parishes and retreat houses up and down the East Coast, including communities in Griffin and Fort Oglethorpe, GA; Hilton Head, SC; Orlando and New Smyrna Beach, FL; Newport News and Hampton, VA; and Tobyhanna, PA.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Barry, and for the comfort of his family, friends, and confreres who mourn his loss.

Saturday

Redemptorist Missionary, Father John Gerard Barry, remembered as a quiet, prayerful and reserved superior, died early Saturday, February 18, 2012 while receiving palliative care close to his religious community in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
 
Father Barry was born on October 31, 1921 in Boston, MA and professed his first vows on August 2, 1942. He was ordained a priest on June 20, 1948.
 
Following his ordination, Father Barry studied classical languages — Greek and Latin — at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. so that he could begin his priestly ministry at the Redemptorist preparatory college in North East, PA. After teaching there for seven years he was transferred from the Baltimore Province to the Vice-Province of Richmond where he served as an associate parish priest, pastor, and retreat director in several cities including Opa Locka and Tampa, FL; and Newport News, Roanoke, and Hampton, VA.
 
Father Barry also served as the superior of the Vice-Province of Richmond from 1975 until 1981. He then returned to the Baltimore Province for three years to provide spiritual direction at the Redemptorist retreat house in Tobyhanna, PA.
 
For the rest of his priesthood, he served, once again, in the Vice-Province in Newnan, Griffin and Fort Oglethorpe, GA; Hilton Head, SC; and in Orlando and New Smyrna Beach, FL.
 
Although externally he may have appeared to be private, reserved, and even stoic, those who knew Father Barry would more accurately recognize his public demeanor as a reflection of his internal fortitude. His prayer life was not only the backbone of his priesthood and the foundation of his faith but also the source of his emotional strength, even from an early age. His father died when John was only two years old, leaving his mother to raise him and his five siblings by herself. And before he completed his preparatory education at North East, PA he was called home during his fifth academic because his mother also passed away.
 
His deep spiritual life gave him the courage to continue his vocation with the Redemptorists at Ilchester, MD where he met his Novice Master, Father Gunn, who, coincidentally, was the same priest who had baptized John many years earlier when John was only two weeks old, at the Mission Church in Boston.
 
“He handled a lot of the administrative work himself,” recalls his consultor, Father Vincent Douglass, “because he never wanted to burden anyone. He was a great man, a prayerful man, and a very holy priest who touched a lot of people, young and old alike. He was certainly one of the most affable, kind and gentle persons I’ve ever known.”
 
Father Edward Gray, another co-administrator with Father Barry, said, “He was always extremely considerate and if he failed at all, he failed on the side of being cautious. In his heart, he always wanted to do the best thing for the confreres. His temperament was mild which made him very easy to work with. And it goes without saying that the people loved him; they know; people can tell when they meet a person of depth and that was certainly Father John — a man of spiritual depth.”
 
A similar sentiment came from his fellow parish priest, Father Frank Nelson who added, “I’m amazed at how devoted the people were to him; people not only from the parish here in New Smyrna where he was most recently stationed, but the phone calls we’ve been receiving from Opa Locka, Hilton Head, just about every place he was ever stationed and from many years ago. They recognize the greatness of this man. They know. The people know.”
 
Few people knew the humorous side of Father Barry. He was not a comedian by any stretch of the imagination, but he had his moments. Once when he was exiting from a dinner at a Red Lobster Restaurant on International Drive in Orlando he noticed a man standing near the entrance with two colorful Macaws and a Polaroid camera. When Father Barry asked what he was doing, the man explained that he posed his parrots on the shoulders of tourists and snapped their photo for a small fee.
 
“But I haven’t had a priest pose with them before,” the man winked. “Okay, I want my picture taken with them,” replied Father Barry. With one bird nestled in his palm and the other perched proudly on his shoulder, the shutter caught the historic moment on film of a colorful parrot tilting its beak just inches away from Father John’s ear. “It looks like my bird is going to confession,” remarked the keeper. “I can’t repeat what I heard,” quipped Father Barry. “I’m bound by the seal of secrecy.”
 
Although he may not have been as naturally interactive as Francis of Assisi, Father Barry was certainly steeped in the saintly model of gentle kindness and priestly prayer. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

 

Rev. John Barry, C.Ss.R.

  • Born: October 31, 1921
  • Professed: August 2, 1942
  • Ordained: June 20, 1948
  • Died: February 18, 2012

 

Services

Viewing
February 20 at 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart Church
998 Father Donlan Drive
New Smyrna Beach, FL

Funeral
February 21 at 11 a.m.
Sacred Heart Church
New Smyrna Beach, FL

Burial
Edgewater Cemetery