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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: May 2012
Thursday

Fr. John Murray offers a short video reflection on today’s celebration.

 

Courtesy: Perpetual Help Novena Video, Mission Church, Boston

 

 

Wednesday

One of the most challenging aspects of being a parish priest is coming up with something new to say to the congregation every Sunday. (I have heard, however, that we are really repeating: “God is Love,” in a thousand different ways.) 

What I like to do, on occasion, is to “open up” the homily to the congregation. While it can be somewhat unpredictable, it is always worthwhile to listen to all the thoughts, experiences, and wisdom that gathers every Sunday for Mass.  
 
I had an opportunity to do this recently at Mary, Star of the Sea Church in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. We were celebrating the Ascension of the Lord and I briefly mentioned how moving it is to think that Jesus, even after his Resurrection, still bears his wounds. I shared that to me it means that our woundedness; whether it be spiritual, emotional, or physical, has tremendous value. We join our wounds to Christ and by his wounds we are healed.
 
Then I asked for the thoughts of the people who were gathered. Without any hesitation, one of the young woman in church asked how do we know, without the help of the Bible, that there is really life after death?
 
Fortunately for me, another young woman from the congregation came to my rescue. She quoted St Paul’s reading to the Ephesians (1:17-20) that says: 
 
Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe…
 
“For us who believe…” The knowledge of God always involves a stepping out in faith, a movement into an unknown territory that has no blueprint of what comes next. Whether we use the Bible or not, our belief in God involves acceptance of a Mystery that we cannot see or fully understand.
 
So how do we know for sure that there is life after death without the help of the Bible? Peter Berger, a sociologist and former professor at Boston College and Boston University wrote in his book, A Rumor of Angels, that the human person can know that there is something more than this life by play and humor. In our play, we often create an imaginary world with its own goals and rules. It is a way for us to accept that this life is not all there is. We make these artificial games and sports to help move us to explore the possibilities that there is something which lies beyond our physical world and its limitations. 
 
Humor is another way that we allow ourselves to hold lightly even serious situations that could cause our deaths. Humor allows us to step back from reality and view life more objectively.  Again, it is a way that helps us to move forward even when the outcome of our lives may seem arbitrary or even tragic.
 
Pope John Paul II explored these boundaries in his wonderfully honest, “Letter to the Elderly,” which he wrote when he was 78 years young. Read an excerpt from the pope’s 12-page letter:
 

“In our human condition touched by sin, death presents a certain dark side which cannot but bring sadness and fear. How could it be otherwise? We have been made for life, whereas death – as Scripture tells us from its very first pages (cf. Gen. 2-3) – was not part of God’s original plan but came about as a consequence of sin, as a result of “the devil’s envy” (Wis 2:24). It is thus understandable why, when faced with this dark reality, a person instinctively rebels. In this regard it is significant that Jesus, “who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15), also experienced fear in the face of death: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Mt 26:39). How can we forget his tears at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, despite the fact that he was about to raise him from the dead (cf. Jn 11:35)?

However rationally comprehensible death may be from a biological standpoint, it is not possible to experience it as something “natural.” This would contradict a person’s deepest instincts. As the Council observed: “It is in the face of death that the riddle of human existence becomes most acute. Not only is a person tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of his or her body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction.” This anguish would indeed be inconsolable were death complete destruction, the end of everything. Death thus forces men and women to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of life itself.  What is on the other side of the shadowy wall of death? Does death represent the definitive end of life or does something lie beyond it? 

 
For us who are on this side of the shadowy wall of death, we will never see clearly what lies beyond. That is why our main Christian virtues are: “Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). St. John said it this way: “God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God in that person” (1 Jn 4:16).
 
May our Holy Redeemer and the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to realize the hope that belongs to God’s call and the riches of God’s glory that await all who believe.
 
(Originally published in the Catholic Chronicle of St. Lucia)
 
Fr. Kevin MacDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1987 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. He is a mission preacher stationed at St. Patrick’s Parish in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

 
 
 
Wednesday

The Holy Spirit

In the beginning, The Spirit hovered over the world
Like a mother hen cooling her egg
On a torrid day.
And the world burst forth.
And God saw that all was good.
 
The Sprit in a burning bush
Spoke to Moses
“Break my people’s chains.”
The Sprit blew the waters of the Red Sea apart
To set a people free.
 
The Sprit empowered the prophets
And overshadowed a Virgin
And spoke to a man from Nazareth
Dripping with baptism water
“You are my beloved Son.
 
The Sprit hovered again
Like a mother hen, cooling the egg
Of the early followers
Locked in a room (a womb?)
To burst forth into life,
And filled them with courage
With faith and hope
With Wisdom and understanding and counsel
 
Hover dear Sprit, the Giver of Life
Over these gifts
Of bread and wine
“Let Your Spirit come upon them
And make them holy,
So that they may become
The Body and Blood of Your Son
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Hover too over these people gathered
At our parish Mass.
Let your Spirit come upon them
And make them holy.
Make them faith-filled and brave apostles
Empowered, by the hurricane wind of the Spirit
By the consuming fire of God’s Love.
 
Fr. John McKenna, C.Ss.R.

 

 

Friday

The academic year is winding down, and several Redemptorist students are among those receiving diplomas this month. At the end of May, all the students will begin their summer pastoral assignments, serving in parishes and Redemptorist outreach ministries throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Summer assignment locations include the Shrine of St. Anne-de-Beaupre in Quebec, Canada; the Commonwealth of Dominica in the West Indies; Trinidad; Fresno, CA; Baton Rouge, LA; Brooklyn, NY; Philadelphia, PA and Biloxi, MS.

Congratulations, graduates, and know of our prayers as you begin your summer assignments!
 
Graduating from St. John’s University, New York City (philosophy studies)
Calvin Auguiste, C.Ss.R.
Jacky Merilan, C.Ss.R.
Ashford St. Romain, C.Ss.R.
Alfredo Medina
Chung Tran
 
Graduating from Boston College (theology studies) 
Elton Letang, C.Ss.R.
David Verghese, C.Ss.R.
 
 
 
Thursday

From the Redemptorists’ Campo Grande, Brazil Province:

The City Council Sul has honored an American Redemptorist. Father John Hennessy, a member of the Baltimore Province serving in the Campo Grande Province in Brazil, received the John Paul II Medal of Honor from the Board of Aldermen in Campo Grande, Brazil May 16.

Father John, 84, was born in Boston. He professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1948 and was ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1953. He was sent to Brazil by the Baltimore Province almost 60 years ago. In 1987, he went back briefly to the U.S. serving as rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston and then returned to Brazil in 2001. He ministers full-time in the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Campo Grande.
 
He offers assistance in 17 novenas every Wednesday at the Shrine, and celebrates two Masses on Sunday and accompanies several pastoral groups during the week.
 
Father Dirson Gonçalves, rector of the Redemptorist community at the Shrine, considers it a wonderful experience to have Fr. John in the Redemptorist Community and the Shrine in Campo Grande. He is always available for any kind of ministry. Fr. Dirson echoes the sentiments of all when he asserts that Fr. John Hennessy remains a great blessing for us in Campo Grande.
 
Father Joaquim Parron, CSsR, the Provincial of the Campo Grande Province, believes that Father John is a great example of Religious Life for the young in Brazil and prays that he can stay many more years with us.