Thursday, May 29, 2014

"This Church"

There is a parish not too far from here where the pastor prefaces each Sunday mass with, “Welcome to the house of the Church of The Holy Angels” (not the actual name).  I always thought this a curious statement until I realized the point he was making: This building is where the people of this community gather, but it is not the church. It is the people who are Church, where they gather is just a building.  We are Church no matter where we are, in an auditorium, in the school gym or, as in my early Church experience, worshipping together in a public school cafeteria because we were a new community just being established.
In Mark’s gospel Jesus speaks of the two ‘churches’- the one a physical building and the other metaphysical, 
"We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with (human) hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'" Mark 14: 58.  
Jesus is our center, we are Church in Him.  Jesus established His Church in us, not in a building.  We are the temples in which He dwells; where the Holy Spirit with the Father and Son reside.  We are a living Church.
We cannot contain God within the confines of a building.  A building is not ‘holy’, but it is where holiness dwells; dwelling within its people who gather to worship in communion with God and one another.  We are Church, not inside these four walls and behind these beautiful windows which are monumental symbols of our love for God, but Church in our love for God reflected in our love for one another.  We are Church to the whole world.  We recognize God in one another, not in the fa├žade of a building.  Our community and fellowship with all the children of God is our Church.  As this community is Church in our town or city, we are all Church in this diocese, in this country, in this world.  We are connected, as Church, to all our brothers and sisters in and through Jesus Christ. 
We are pilgrims on a journey, passing through this life and these buildings in just a moment in time.  It is in the kingdom of God where we will dwell for all eternity.  Our desire is in rejoicing in the embrace of God for eternity, not in leaving a marker of our earthly existence.  As we hear in Matthew 6: 19,
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . .”
In these buildings we gather to worship God (the first of the two greatest commandments) and to love one another, in our journey to the gates of heaven (the second commandment).  Be Church with one another: gather, pray, worship, work and love - for the kingdom of God is at hand.

Peace,
Deacon Don

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Building Saints Since the Beginning of Time" Friday 5.23.14

There is much going on this week.  Planning of the Liturgy for the merger mass with Bishop O'Connell on June 29, the last training session on multiculturalism in the Church from the diocese (held at our wonderful St. Peter Claver facility) and catechetical sessions with our candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost (June 8).

Our parish is alive and very active, but as usual - while the harvest is plenty, the workers are few.  We could always use more members of the communities to share the joy of being Church.  We are called to share the gifts we each receive from God with one another, to build up the Body of Christ and help bring one another into the peace of God's kingdom.  We could hang a sign out on the front of every church, "Building Saints Since the Beginning of Time."

'Jack would be a dull boy' if all he did was work, so I direct your attention to the Dinner Dance scheduled for May 31st.  What's not to love - Good Food - Laughs - Fellowship - Great Music and Dancing! So come out and share the joy of community with one another and the bounty of God's grace.

One last item - I direct your attention to an article on the Catholic channel at Patheos (www.patheos.com/Catholic.html) entitled, "Influential Ugandan Nun Shine Light on Sacred Tradition of Black Catholic Women."  This is a very informative and interesting article on the struggles of Black women religious (which has been going on since at least the 5th century!) and how this movement is re-emerging and influencing the Catholic Church and transforming the world.  Do yourself a favor and read this.

Peace,
Deacon Don

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  All Christians should know this name and pray for this woman every day.  She is our sister in Christ Jesus.  She is one of us.  She is a believer in the promise of salvation and the glory of God, the Father.  She is a Christian, a wife, a mother, a doctor and pregnant.  She is a human being, a creation of God’s love.

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag. She is sentenced to receive 100 lashes (Jesus received 39) and then be hanged until dead. 

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  Her crime – Christian!

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  She was born to a Muslim father and Christian mother.  Her father abandoned the family when she was very young.  She was raised as a Christian by her mother.  She married a Christian man.

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  She refused to recant her faith.  She told the court, “I am a Christian and I will remain a Christian.”

Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  She will become one of the many martyrs of the Christian faith.  People, who for their love of Christ are harassed, persecuted, driven from their homes, economically oppressed, burned out of their churches, intimidated by their governments, shot at, legally executed and hanged in the streets remain  faithful disciples unto death.


Meriam Ibrahim Ishag.  We pray for you and for all who die for being a Christian, believers in Jesus Christ.  By your blood may we grow stronger in our faith and love; coming together, standing, as brothers and sisters, children of the One God to spread the Good News to the world.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Like a Beggar Who's Found Bread . . ."

In the last month I've attended three very interesting and engaging training programs offered in the Diocese of Trenton.  The first was a 5 hour class (hardly time to get more than an inkling on the topic) on Multiculturalism in the parishes.  This is a new reality for many parishes, especially ours (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Holy Spirit in Asbury Park) or will be in the near future.

The next program was an all day session with Sherry Weddell, author of Forming Intentional Disciples and co-founder of the Catherine of Sienna Institute.  Her work on getting to the depths of discipleship are having a major impact on parishes and dioceses around the country.

The third program called Evangelization 101 discussed and reviewed the challenge to the Church to be welcoming and inclusive to all its members.  We need to look at our parishes as home to all disciples, like the mustard plant is home to all of birds.

Multiculturalism in our parishes will be a topic from time to time because it is so important and, afterall we are all sisters and brothers in Christ.

The Diocese of Trenton, as well as most dioceses, offer a lot of interesting training and continuing education classes and programs that engage all ages and interest levels.  While deacons are required to experience at least 15 hours of continuing education each year, I believe everyone is able to find something offered that will help them on their journey of discipleship.  How are we to follow our Lord's command to go and make disciples of all nations without being properly formed and informed in His teachings and in His Church.

Peace,
Deacon Don Ronning

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 3, 2014 – Making Saints

I came across this story recently.

One evening Johnny was saying his prayers while his Mom listened.  When he finished the ‘Our Father’ he grew very quiet.  His Mom, seeing a look of consternation on his face asked, “What’s the matter, Johnny?”
“Mom,” he said slowly, “would you be happy in heaven, if I died and went to hell?”
Mom, taking Johnny into her arms said, “Johnny, I could never be happy if you were in hell.”

Who could not agree with the Mom in this story when we think about our loved-ones.  It just saddens the heart to think that we would be separated for all eternity from all those whom we love in our lives.  How could we find joy in heaven knowing our sons or daughters, husband or wife, friends and family members were spending eternity in suffering the pains of torment in hell.

This is why we are called to make saints of one another. This is why we are to live as disciples of Christ continuing His mission of salvation for all God’s people.  It is the responsibility of each of us to look out for, correct, admonish, teach, guide and live the Truth with one another in the world, so we may all dwell in the peace and joy of God’s everlasting kingdom of heaven.

We are called to see Christ and be Christ to one another with this goal in mind: That all God’s children come to be with Him in heaven.  It is all our responsibility to be the Salt and Light.  This begins in the home and with the family and extends out into the world. We are followers of Christ, the Way the Truth and the Light – everywhere, to everyone and at every-time.

This is the love of God.  This is the love we are called to have for one another.  Our love is measured by how well we loved the other, as we loved ourselves.

Peace,

Deacon Don