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Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin

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Faith

Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2014
Homily ~ Cyber Version

Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

How many of us, during the day or before coming into the church checked to see if there was any emails or text messages that perhaps we were expecting?   We are a people who have come to expect others to be messaging us, in some shape or form.

Now, how many of us, during the week, or perhaps coming to Mass, walking into the church expect to hear from God?  Maybe we think God is too busy.   Maybe we think God has no need or great desire to speak to me.  Or perhaps we are afraid of what God may ask or speak about.  Are we afraid of those discoveries to be made in prayer.

God does long to speak to our hearts and lives.   Christ, present in the readings of Scripture this day clearly expresses accounts and examples of how, this powerful season of Lent, we can grow in discoveries of prayer, of God, of ourselves.

Prayer ~ Talking to God: 
For many we understand prayer as “saying our prayers”, i.e., talking to God.  With faith and blessing we say the rosary, the Our Father, or the Stations of the Cross.  We tell God of our needs and hopefully our thanksgivings.  In our    Gospel reading we see Peter, James and John taken by our Lord, to the Mount of Transfiguration.  There Peter seems to understand this is a time and place for prayer.  And he starts talking, a lot.  Our Heavenly Father, hearing Peter’s chatter, interrupts.   This brings us to ask..does God need to interrupt our prayers to get a word in edgewise?  It shows us what we miss by failing to listen, by not watching…Him.  How often do we come to a moment, time or place of prayer, rattle off what our intentions are and then rush on without really looking to God or hearing a reply?

Prayer ~ Watching & Listening:  We are, as disciples of Christ are called to follow Him.  To watch and listen, to His way, His Will,  His purposes.  We see this relationship illustrated in the roles acted out in such dramas as Downtown Abbey.  The footmen, the butler, ladies maids are all and always attentive to their masters.  They tend to their tasks often with no verbal direction from their lord and his household.   They watch and they listen.   Sadly in our prayer life we miss this grace, profoundly and often tragically.
In our Old Testament reading we witness God speaking to Abram, telling him to follow His guidance to the promised land.  In that era of primitive faith Abram knew how, knew to..watch and listen for God.  Times have changed. God has not.  As it was in Abram’s day, as it was that day on the Mount of Transfiguration, God yearns for our attention.  And it is in that faith, the listening in the silence that we learn to hear God speaking, in the Scriptures, in creation, in and through the fullness of His Eucharistic Body and His Body of we we are.

Prayer ~ Responding to God: 
It is as we seek to watch and listen, as we share our hearts  of hope or wounds that Jesus calls us to respond to Him.   God the Father, speaking in the cloud clearly spoke to the disciples, “Listen To Him”. The first words Jesus spoke after that command were simple and clear:  “Rise and do not be afraid”.  As God called the early disciples to rise from their fears, as God called Abram to rise from his earthly securities so God calls each of us, to rise, from our fears and follow Him to discover the promises of His Kingdom,  this season of Lent and for all eternity.
It is in our watching and listening that the response of our lives becomes the real Amen.

Seek His Kingdom

Cyber-version of my homily for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Seek His Kingdom

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter
and the clamor
with all this world
makes us stagger.

Seek His hands,
pierced by love,
to help remove ,
this world’s sludge.

Earthly riches,
this and that,
things we seek,
that from Him, distract.

Walk with Him.
Let Him show,
in field and flower,
His treasure troves.

Let God be.
And before us bring,
His Kingdom’s riches,
of which angels sing.

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter,
and the clamor,
with all this world
makes us stagger.

Seek His voice,
His words of truth,
that in our lives,
His freedom soothes.

May that freedom,
of His Kingdom,
in His Spirit,
lead us all.

To those riches,
that never fail.
To that trust,
that will prevail.

Heed His voice,
follow His call,
in courage bold,
to His Love belong.

Seek His Kingdom,
clear the clutter,
and the clamor
with all this world,
makes us stagger.

In simple trust, His hand to take,
In His courage bold to make,
In His Love forward to go,
may we then,
His Kingdom grow.

St. Paschal Baylon

Here is the cyber-version of my homily for this 6th Sunday of Easter, 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 world..to 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 abide..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.

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