Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin



douloscross, a servant of the Cross, a servant of Christ. I am married, a father, a Permanent Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. I am also a retired firefighter and fire chaplain.



Homily ~ Christmas 2019 (Cyber-version)

So, are you ready for Christmas?  Advent is complete for another year and the Christmas season now begins in fullness.  We hope that as you gather with family and friends there will be many reasons for happiness and peace.  But we are also mindful that the holiday season is, for many very difficult and painful.  Those who a struggle with ill health, poverty or broken homes know  deeper struggles in this season.  Those places where persecution, violence and environmental  crises prevail will struggle to find cause to celebrate at this time. The many clouds of conflict and sorrow in our nation and world would easily hide the hope we gather to celebrate this night.  All these realities, these truths from our world would cause many to ask…. IS CHRISTMAS TRUE?

Before we explore that very valid question lets us first, briefly, look at the immense wealth of Christmas traditions.  The date of Christmas, the Christmas lights and sharing of gifts, Santa Claus and the Christmas tree and many other traditions have become part of this season.  Increasingly there are those who complain that Christians robbed the various pagan religions to make up this holiday.  True or false?  To explore and understand these many practices is good.  But to do so would take far more time than we have tonight.  But for this who truly want to understand let me know and we will explore these things.  To answer those wonderings we need first to resolve the more basic questions asked earlier.  IS CHRISTMAS TRUE?  Is the story of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, in a manger in Bethlehem true?  If it isn’t..Why Are You Here?  If it is..Why aren’t you here?

IS CHRISTMAS TRUE?  I cannot answer that question, as you deserve.  I can give many theological, intellectual reasons why it can be understood to be true.  But to know the answer you deserve it must be an answer for the heart.  The answer is not something we understand but Someone we can come to know.  For that to occur let us journey, in our hearts to Bethlehem, over 2000 years ago and join the shepherds, join Joseph and Mary and…

LISTEN to GOD  ~ Turn OFF the noise of the world and listen to The Living WORD, God’s angels and servants.  Let  be alert to the place where we can hear God, the fields, the stillness of the night, the place of humbleness.  It is often in our brokenness, our woundedness, our fears that God will speak most clearly…IF we will listen.

COME to GOD ~  The shepherds heard the angel and then the choir of the heavenly host.  REALLY?  After this celestial proclamation they must have wondered..was that real?  There was only one way to find out.  COME to God.  We need to let go and turn away from ego, pride, sin and come, if faith to God.   They chose to obey and go to Bethlehem.  Uncertain.  Afraid.  Unable to understand.  But they came to God and discovered Jesus, as the angel promised.  I am sure there were, among the shepherds those who thought, this is NUTS.  It is only when we step out in faith that we will come to God and know, in our hearts that Christmas is true.  This applies in throughout or lives, in our relationships, in our hopes and even in our failures.  Each are invitations to Come to God.

COME and  SEE.  When the shepherds saw Joseph and Mary and the baby in the manger WHO did they see?  A poor carpenter and his young bride with a newborn?  These simple field hardened men saw something far more.  They saw the glory of God come to earth.  For when we get even a tiny glimpse of His Holy Presence that Truth cannot be hidden.  Sacred art struggles to illustrate this with the proverbial halo just as this simple preacher struggles to express that holy glory with these simple words.  Let us look past the futile images and words that cannot contain Christ born this night.  Let us, Listen, Come, See and Grow in the Light and Truth that is the Christ.  To see Christ in each other, this wounded world, and in creation we must be willing to look with eyes of faith.  The faith that plants the bulbs in the garden in winter can see the blooms in the Spring.  Look past what may seem dead or hopeless to the person, the issue with the eyes of faith.

GROW with GOD.  To encounter the Truth, born in a manger is to be forever changed.  We will be compelled to decide… to turn away from Jesus and embrace our fearful intellect or to grow in that faith and love that brought Him here to us. If we come and encounter the Living Word, The Light of Life, born of the Virgin Mary, and if we decide to follow we will grow in that love, the peace, the holy joy that only God can bring.  We will still encounter the sorrows and struggles of this world, until He returns.  


The answer is there if we will just Listen, Come to See God and allow His  Peace, His Love to grow through our lives.

Holy ADVENTure


2nd Sunday of Advent Homily 8 December 2019

Holy ADVENTure

  This Second Sunday of Advent we continue our faith journey in anticipation and preparation for our coming King and Savior, Jesus.  We are in the midst of ADVENT.  This word, well used and familiar, contains a lesson in both its meaning and as affirmed in the Bible readings for this day.

  ADVENT from the Latin Adventus: a coming approach, arrival…of the Savior.  It is actually linked to another word with which we are even more familiar:  ADVENTURE, again from the Latin, Adventura: A remarkable occurrence to happen, reached through risk and danger. 

These simple words lead us to look to our VENTURES of ADVENT.  Will we join with the Spirit of God to to guide us in our Ventures of Advent to more fully meet and know Jesus our King and Savior? If so may we follow God in…

  THE SPIRIT of ADVENT… Our Old Testament reading from the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the profound promise of the Messiah,  Jesus to come from the Jesse, father of King David.  In this promise we see how the Messiah will come in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  This applies to both the first, the Incarnational coming of Emmanual, God with us.  And it equally applies to the return, the second coming of Jesus.  The prophet John in the Book of Revelation strongly instructs the Church that we need be a people listening and obeying the Word the Spirit speaks to the Church.  This holy venture of the people of God to and with God must and can only be walked in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.  It is as we are empowered and lead by God’s Holy Spirit we will see our journey takes us to the Places of Advent.

  THE PLACES of ADVENT… Clear and consistent is the path and places of a Spirit led and filled Advent.  In a word it is to the place of wilderness.  Whether we look to the journeys of the Hebrew people or the life of John the Baptist and the early testings of Jesus there was a common place…the wilderness.  What does this tell us?  Creation is essential as a place to meet and follow God.  In the austere beauty of the desert the Old Testament people of God met with and realized the exquisite and awesome power of our Holy God.  And it was in the gentle breeze, pounding rains or green pastures they learned to follow the Shepherd of souls.  The Places of Advent  will see us brought from the noise and lights of the world to the quiet and strength of the woods, the flowing brook and the birds singing in praise to God.  They would teach us that we too are to simply seek and praise God in our hearts and in our songs and thoughts..   The place of Advent is also a place of SIMPLICITY.  Scripture recounts how the coming of Jesus in the stable or His return as King of Kings will be first welcomed by those least encumbered with the excess, the stuff and cares of this world.  There is no APP for your cell phone that will truly help you walk your ventures of Advent.  In fact the Holy Spirit may lead you to turn off your phone, your tablets and computers, even for brief periods to help you prepare for Jesus.  As we journey in the places of Advent we will meet and share with other pilgrims seeking the King who is to come.

  THE PEOPLE of ADVENT… St. John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord made it very clear.  Anyone seeking to be ready for the coming King must be a person of faith and repentance.  Our Ventures of Advent will calls us to at times risk, with courageous faith, and turn in holy love to steps of obedience that will bring us closer to our Lord.  This quest is one that will not cease until we meet He who is to come.  For may be great the tests, the dangers that we will confront as we walk with each other, in His Spirit.  There are many other attribute that will mark an Advent people.  But one in particular St Paul mentions in our second reading:    Welcome one anther, then, as Christ welcomed you…”.   If we are walking in His Spirit, if we are filled with God’s Spirit we will be a welcoming people.  Setting aside our fears and prejudices, doubts and wounds we will seek to see each other, and Jesus sees us.

“The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes.” ~ St. Therese of Lisieux

Unhindered Journey


Homily 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 10 November 2019 (Cyber-version)

Readings:  II Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14; Psalm17;  II Thessalonians 2:16-3-5; Luke 20:27-38

Unhindered Journey

The Christian year is rapidly coming to a close.  In 3 weeks our new year will begin with the First Sunday of Advent.  Time, as we know it, seems to move ever faster while some of us seem to move ever slower.  In this season of change we are reminded that we are on a journey, the journey of life, of faith.  For whether one has a growing faith in God or a faith in self or things we all believe in something…in somebody.  As we allow the light of God’s Word to shine in our lives today we can see this journey that we share and that it is God’s desire, in love, for us to make our journey unhindered.  For God “…that unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours (God’s).”[Collect Mass 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time]   We realize of course that this journey of life is not always easy or without danger but that we are created and redeemed to  make our pilgrimage through…

✠  WORLDLY PERILS:   The example shared in our first reading from 2 Maccabees affirms that in this world we will face great worldly perils.  Even if we are protected from the intense persecution described in this reading we must recognize that Satan, that evil exist and would battle against the souls, so precious to God, that seek to grow on in His will.  Persecution, worldly power and things, sensual lusts would all be used to rob us of the holy beauty and love for which we are created and for which Christ endured the cross to embrace us in saving love.  But even beyond worldly perils we also will face…

✠   TEMPORAL PLACES:  In the steps we take and the places we go, this side of eternity, we will journey through many temporal places.  Some will be very beautiful, good and holy given to us by our loving Lord to help and sustain us in our journey.  There will be the still waters and green pastures of which the familiar Psalm describes, where we are refreshed and our souls are renewed.  It is in many of the temporal places we may come to windows to eternity where we may glimpse the glory of God or hear the exquisite  melodies of saints and angels joining us in worship.  It may be in the rich simplicity of a walk in the woods or sitting quiet in a still morning we grow in the power of God’s peace.  But the Gospel describes the faithless confusion of the Sadducee’s as they tried to entrap Jesus in their crippled understanding of the temporal place of marriage.  And in that dialogue Jesus reminds us that what is given and designed for us here and now may not be the same as what He has prepared for us in heaven. As we seek to journey, unhindered to God we must allow the Holy Spirit to give us discernment for that which truly matters.  Someone once shared the 5/5 Rule:  “If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it”.  This rule gives us insight to realize our…

  ETERNAL PURPOSE: As we journey through Worldly Perils and Temporal Places we are called to remember and realize we are created and redeemed for Eternity.  And this realization brings us to embrace the grace that will enable God to free us to make our journey to Him in ever-growing freedom, as we prayed in our Collect. For this journey, if it is to be unhindered must be alive in the Spirit of Metanoia..of conversion.  Those graces of changing one’s mind, heart, self or way of life, in the mercy and grace of God, to grow in spiritual grow unhindered in our journey into eternity. 

  St. Therese of Lisieux once said:  “ Jesus does not consider time, since He is eternal.  He considers only love”.   May we each, may we together, grow, unhindered, for God in the holy love that is Jesus our Lord.  “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.” 

Found With Joy ~ The Parable of the Lost Sheep


Found With Joy ~ The Parable of the Lost Sheep

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Many years ago I was privileged  to work at a dairy.  My primary job was I was the feeder.  I had to be sure the stalls were full of feed for cows in the barns and that for those out in pasture that they had their needed feed.  But I also had other tasks, one of which was to bring the fresh calves and their mamas  from the calving pasture.  Normally it was a fairly simple task of leading the calf with mom following close behind, usually hollering.  But if a calf was born too many hours before I would bring them in they might have found their legs.  And what was usually a fairly simple job would become much more complicated.  If a calf wandered off mom would normally be close behind and often be fairly easy to spot among the hills of grass and trees.  But there would be those who would wander off and end up in some secluded rough ravine.  They still had to be found and brought in, safely, to the dairy.  I wish I could say that when finding these wanderers I did so with joy.  But often it was irritation and a sense of you stupid calf what were you thinking??? And then there was always the protective mother cow who was sure I was there for reasons that were not good.  But I would retrieve the calf, Sometimes on a rope, sometimes carried, with mom hollering close behind and with joy we would reach the milk  pens where they needed to be.  I share this story to help us focus on but one of the parables in our Gospel reading today.  For it is in the parable of the lost sheep we are reminded, we can learn and experience what is a very urgently needed lesson of WHY Christ is here “…to seek and to save the lost”. [Lu. 19.10]

To realize the immense importance of this truth we need to understand the context.  Jesus was being confronted , with intense disdain, by the scribes and pharisees because he was actually eating.. sharing with..SINNERS!!!  Our Lord’s fellowship with those considered as “losers” was scandalous.  All propriety and tradition dictated that such people were to be avoided, disdained and judged as unworthy of any respect or dignity.  But Jesus wouldn’t abide with such ignorant nonsense.  So our Savior responds to their judgments with the parables shared in the Gospel.  In this earthly story with an heavenly meaning Jesus, the Shepherd of our souls, expresses the WHY of God the Father in sending  His Son, to find those who are lost.

GOD SEEKS ~ the sheep who is lost. That one sheep, of value known only to the shepherd must be found so He seeks the wanderer.  So God LISTENS!  For the cries, the laments of a lost and perhaps wounded soul.  God LOOKS to those places where the sheep, our souls do not belong, without rancor or disgust, God SEEKS with a love hungering for the finding, for reconciliation.  And God FINDS that which is lost, not a loser, but one who wandered  off in ignorance through unbelief , perhaps wounded now but God FINDS, with JOY.  So often we focus upon what we think is the most important, our attitude, surely of sorrow, penance, humility but in doing so we cannot not ignore God’s feelings of finding the lost…great JOY!

GOD CARRIES ~ Finding the lost sheep the shepherd, Jesus, now CARRIES the lost one, with JOY back to where he belongs.  Perhaps wounded, clearly weary of the wanderings in the world the sheep is safe upon the shoulders of Him who would soon carry a Cross to reach all those who are lost.  The shepherd did not question the sheep about his repentance.  The shepherd did not lecture the sheep about his sinfulness or bad choices. 

Christ carries each of us to the place of healing, of mercy of home with Him.  That place we were created and reconciled to be.  The place where the direction, focus of the sheep will now be upon He who loves us where we are …and brings us to where we are meant to be, with God.  And as this journey of reconciliation occurs so does the rejoicing in Heaven, of the angels and saints for the lost sheep is home.

Today may we realize, Jesus, Present in the Word and in His Body and Blood longs to set out from the  Scriptures to journey from this Tabernacle and altar in and with us that He may seek and save those who have wandered off.  Jesus longs for us to experience and share in WHY HE is here.

St. Paschal Baylon


Here is the cyber-version of my homily for this 6th Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2009, The Feast Day of St. Paschal Baylon:

The Redwoods of these north coast mountains of California have awed many for generations with their stature, beauty and strength. Yet if you have lived or walked amidst these fragrant giants you have hopefully realized that they are but the largest members of a much fuller community. One of the most beautiful members of this verdant environment is the Redwood Orchid. Small, often hidden by the larger, more well known companions, it can be found in hidden glades in the moist Spring time bringing a violet beauty under the emerald canopy overhead. The little Redwood Orchid is a humble yet excellent introduction to the lesson from the Scriptures in our Mass readings today. It is also an appropriate introduction to a hidden, simple saint who’s life was a profound lesson of the call of our Risen Lord.
May 17th is the Feast day of St. Paschal Baylon (1540-1592). This simple Franciscan lay brother never advanced further than being the porter at his Loreto monastery. Born to a poor Spanish family he was a shepherd without formal education. Yet he taught himself to read and write with the special purpose of being able to pray the Little Office of Our Lady. Paschal Baylon was appointed the Patron Saint of Eucharistic Congresses and Associations by Pope Leo XIII. If remembered, he is often thought of for his deep devotion and love for Christ expressed in the Blessed Sacrament. His deep longing and prayer for this communion with Christ was a part of his life even as a young shepherd. It grew to become a life of fervent prayer with our Eucharistic Lord. But St. Paschal’s life was far more than a life of prayer. He lived a life of faithful service, especially for the poor and needy. He, although uneducated by worldly standards, also came to be known for his courageous and boldly gentle defense of his faith in the face of real persecution. This balance of loving devotion and service, for the love of God, is the heart of the message we see in our readings.

Chosen to Love: “God is Love.” Our Epistle today shares these three most powerful Words of Scripture. Often quoted, less often lived, the depth of meaning starts to dawn as we accept the context…”and God sent His Son to pay for our sins”. Knowing our condition, yet seeing the worth of the soul God had created the Father calls us to His Son.
People, of all nations, as Peter affirmed in our first reading, are chosen, are called to Love, to God. It is into the infinite embrace of the Crucified Savior we start to grow in the freedom of being..chosen…the freedom of being chosen by and to… Love. Paschal Baylon realized he was called, that he was chosen, out of his sin and this the Loving Presence found in the Body and Blood of Christ. Paschal also realized this call was for all humanity and lead to his life living the Commandment.

Commanded to Love: Often when we think of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament we think of it as a distinct practice of piety. We may relegate it to a contemplative effort best suited to religious or those who…like to pray. Sometimes those who practice Eucharistic devotion may be tempted to see this as a hallmark of their love for God. Sadly, it may lead to a condition of being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. St. Paschal, who spent hours in rapt prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, would fervently disagree. It was but the furnace from which he carried forth the fire of God’s love for the poor, his brothers or even those who opposed his faith. This love for God of which Christ commands us this day, and always, is but a summation and source of the love we are to abide in and share with each other. The command of God’s holy, fearless love fulfills all the lesser commandments or issues with which we may become distracted. St. Paschal lived out his love for the Eucharist Christ in his service and love of others. This included his fellow Franciscans, the poor and needy as well as those perhaps his enemies. Once, in holy obedience, he ventured on a trip into a part of France that was, at the time under strong anti-Catholic control. Hugeonots, opposed to the Church more than once confronted Paschal on his journey with assaults and threats. Confronted by a learned Protestant scholar he was challenged about belief in the Blessed Sacrament. The learned scholar was confounded and silenced when this simple monk defended and explained this Biblical truth with a bold yet gentle courage. Paschal did not compromise his convictions or his love for those who did not agree with him. He simply sought to live as His Risen Lord had called him to do.

Abiding in Love: With St. Paschal, our Blessed Mother, St. Peter and all the saints we are chosen to LIVE in this love that is….Christ. As we live, listening to the voice of Christ in the Scriptures we hear His mercy, guidance, correction and peace. As we learn to hear God’s voice in each other, our family and the poor or wounded we hear His call to.. love. As we receive His Sacred Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist we are fed.. with Christ.. with Love. As we come to pray before His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament we discover, with St, Paschal the quiet peace, joy and strength abiding in His Presence. (We are chosen to be filled with His joy and the joy of the Lord is our strength).

St. Pascal Baylon died at the age of 52. Numerous accounts describe the moment of his death as the bells were being rung for the Consecration during the High Mass in his monastery. This little orchid of the saints calls to us today to abide and live in the Love that is Christ.

CALLED to JOY ~ 4th Sunday of Easter


This holy Mass began as Father prayed our Collect:  “Almighty and ever-living God lead us to share in the joys of heaven so that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before.”  That prayer and our readings from the Word  of God clearly help us to realize  God Calls us to Joy to, as our Psalm proclaims:  Sing (in word and action) Joyfully to the Lord!”

Following our Risen Lord this season of Easter we share a journey fraught with great challenges.  Our readings from the Acts of the Apostles speak of times of great blessing coursing though trials of persecution, and internal turmoil in the Church but through it all they “were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit”.

St. John in the Book of Revelation speaks to us of those Christians, having survived times of great distress, are worshiping God in the beauty of holy joy. These lights from God’s Word shine on our short Gospel and bring us to understand:  Jesus our brave Risen Shepherd calls us to follow Him in joy. 

The Gospels speak repeatedly of our Good Shepherd.  Anyone who has worked around sheep or livestock know well that voices and manners of anger, hate and fear will not work to bring these creatures to their needed place with any degree of health and well being.  So it is with us.  Yes Jesus, our Good Shepherd knows and warns, guides us from the perils and evils that may abound.  But God calls  in, through and to Himself in joy.

The great Jesuit scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said:  “Joy is the most infallible sign of the Presence of God.”  (fruit of obedience and the Holy Spirit) Jesus calls us to follow and grow in His joyfully holy Presence.  This is not a joy of a TV style silly happiness or of ever easy and cheerful circumstance.  It is a joy rooted deep in the love of God that enables the soul to know, even in what the storms and crosses life may bring that joy of God  grows in the truth that God created us, knows us and calls His healing embrace.

The great 16th century saint and doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila lived in a time of great challenge for the faithful.  Many in the Church had settled into lives of ease and neglect of the pathway of God.  Her own Carmelite Order was struggling with spiritual weakness and lack of faith.  Called by God to reform her order and in many ways the greater Church she became a great saint of passionate, contemplative love for God.  But there was a distinct aspect of her witness for her Savior.  She had a profound sense of humor and recognition of the need for God’s gift of humor and joy.  One of her famous quotes was:  From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord deliver us.”

In our faith of today so often inundated with the messages of deep sadness, anger, fear and confusion many are the temptations, the voices, that would call us to despair, doubt and to turn away from the Lord and His Church.  It is for each of us to realize deep within our soul the voice of our Good Shepherd calling us to joy.

Nothing in life, the world, our soul surprises God.  He knows what we face every day of our life.  God created us,  Jesus calls us, to follow and, as the Gospel proclaims, to be known by God.  It is as we grow ever closer to He who died on the Cross and conquered death and sin we are filled with His joy. Let us, with His holy saints resolve to follow Him and proclaim and share in the joys of heaven, now and for all eternity.

Divine Mercy in the Church Today


Divine Mercy Sunday ~ 28 April 2019

Jesus, I trust in you.

Lord, as I think about, pray about that simple, holy prayer and the graces you shared with Sister Faustina I am moved to believe You are calling your people to greater trust, to move beyond images and prayers  so comfortable to mercies and graces so powerful and needed.

Jesus, Savior, I trust in you.  Have mercy on your people wounded by sin and scandal.  Heal those scarred by the sins of others and by the lies offered by bitterness and unforgiveness.  Jesus help us to use the stones we are tempted to cast upon those we judge to, instead, build bridges of mercy and hope, for all.

Jesus, Lord, I trust in you.  Your Body is challenged with divisions and strife when  your Liturgy becomes times and places where many are busy judging if others are praying in the ways and words they judge others should be using.  Jesus help us to truly love and worship your Real Presence in Word and Eucharist and….in each other.

Jesus, Shepherd of our souls, I trust in you.  The pride and comfort we take in our tidy, comfortable God boxes is excluding us from the abundance of life and faith you seek us to share. Forgive us for quenching your Holy Spirit who would guide us to grow in The Truth that makes us free.  Lead us from practices and traditions not rooted in your holy, redeeming love.  Lead us Holy Shepherd in those paths of righteousness for Your sake.

Jesus, I trust in you.


Holy Thursday ~ Feast of the Lord’s Supper


John 17:

[20]”I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,[21] that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  [RSV]

This Holy Thursday we solemnly remember and celebrate Jesus giving us the most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, the gift of His Body and Blood.   Words, paintings, images cannot contain or fully express the infinite graces and mercies God provides for us all in this gift, to all who will believe in Him.

This Holy Thursday I am especially mindful of the thoughts of Jesus Himself that holy night before He went to the garden and His passion.  As He was gathered with His disciples He shared that Passover and instituted what we have come to celebrate as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion.  The synoptic Gospels all give clear accounts of Jesus breaking the bread and sharing the cup.  But in John’s Gospel, written many years later, we are allowed to listen to the further words Jesus spoke, we are able to essentially listen to the heartbeat of God as shared by the disciple who leaned upon His breast.

Jesus gives the clear example of our being servants in the washing of the feet.  He then goes on to teach, clearly, our need to abide in Him, in the Living Word and to love God and each other as He loved us. Christ then provides the clear promise of the empowering and guiding graces of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be, to become, what He created, saved and calls us to be, His people, His Body.  (John 13 – 16).

This passionate dialogue is then concluded by our Lord’s prayer in the full text of the seventeenth chapter.  He prays for those who would live through the next harrowing hours.  He prays for us, those who would come to believe through their witness.  Then Jesus concludes this prayer, just prior to going to the Garden of Gethsemane, with the words beginning this post….[20]”I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,[21] that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  [RSV]

As I reflect upon this prayer and then as I see so many divisions and so many intent on building these divisions and strife I am so sorrowful.  The perils of clericalism, the perils of arguments over traditions and liturgies, the perils of judging all those sinning differently than the preferred norms.. all these divisions feel to me as mockings of Him who prayed, as lashes upon His back, as nails pounded into His Holy Body.

Jesus, forgive us, have mercy on us, we know not what we do.  We know not You as we should.

SACRIFICE ~ A Lenten Reflection


[St. Peter’s Parish Lenten Retreat ~ 23 March 2019]


I Introduction:

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice..” Romans 12:1. God calls us through His Word to share as living sacrifices with Christ. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this vocation as we read:   1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’”  & 1368 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. the Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. the lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.

In the catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer, arms outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his arms on the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and intercedes for all men.”

Within the specific vocation we have we are called to fully be these living sacrifices in Christ.  The degree of our surrender to Christ, in love and faith, will determine the fullness of victory and joy we experience in His resurrection.  The season of Lent allows us to grow in our conversions, our embrace of Christ and His holy Cross and to grow in our sharing of His Passion and resurrection.    And it is in the Paschal Celebration, the Sacrifice of the Mass we find the steps of renewed conversion and consecration to our Lord.

II                                           LIVING SACRIFICES ~ Elements of our call

Quietly let yourself enter and be with the disciples, with Jesus in the Upper Room on the Night of His Passion .  This was in the short hours before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and shared the Sacrifice of His Passion on the Cross.  The other Gospels give us the account of the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist.  John’s Gospel give us insight into the Heart of the Savior as He lives His redeeming passion.  [John 13-17]

You will note that this outline on the graces of Sarifice follow the Liturgy of the Mass.  Jesus was sharing so much more than was realized with the disci[les then, and with us now.

1) Cleansing – The Washing of the Feet, the Cleansing of self/ego

the service of God and others

The Penitential Rite

John 13:1-16, 34-35 Note:  About failure, of self, of others John 13:36-38

2) Listening, Lectio Divina, to God’s Word.

Hearing, living His new commandment, Love one another

FAITH, listening in love

PRAYER ~ Responding to God’s Word

John 14:1;12-14; 23-24;  15:7-13

3) Preparing the Gifts ~ What do we bring to God?

Talents, blessings and sorrows and weaknesses

John 15:5, 16-17

4) Invocation and Epiclesis

Seeking and trusting the Promise, the power, the Presence of the Holy Spirit

John 14:26-17; 16:7-12

5) Eucharist

I Cor. 11: [23]For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,[24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” [25] In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” [26] For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Wheat – Crushed and milled

John 13:26

Wine – Harvest and Crush

John 15:1-5

Entering the Wounds of Christ

John 20:[26]Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.”[27] Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” [28] Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Communion – Eternal bonds

John 17:20-23

6) Praise and Thanksgiving

John 17

7)  Further Steps:

Let us present ourselves as livings sacrifices to God

Allowing His cleansing

Listening in faith and love to His Word

Presenting our gifts

And in receiving His Body and Blood

sharing His sacrifice for His Kingdom,

For the praise and glory of God.


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