Feast Day of Theresa of Avila

October 15, 2017

Last week on the occasion of Thanksgiving I reflected on how our celebrations of the Eucharist are truly celebrations of thanksgiving because the Greek word “eucharistein” means “giving thanks”.  The Eucharist is the high point, the center of a Christian’s spiritual life and not only our spiritual life but really our human life. We come together with our hopes, our pains, our joys, our questions and our searching and share them with others and share them with the whole Church throughout the World so that we might find strength from the God who journeys with us. The Eucharist reminds us of the source of our life, of our being, of the gift we have received and which we are called with God’s grace/spirit to let unfold on our journey in life so that we may journey towards happiness and peace. That happiness and peace and fulfillment is not only our own personal fulfillment but also to the fulfillment of the humanity of all humans throughout the world. After all, that is our call on our human journey: our own happiness but also the happiness of those close to us, our family, our community, our nation, our world.                 When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at what we have called the “last supper” he did so by calling together his community for a meal of thanksgiving, in thanksgiving for what the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses had done for his people and for what God did in him, in his life. And the first thing Jesus did at this meal was to become a servant, to wash the feet of his followers telling them to do the same for others, “do this in remembrance of me”: to serve, to wash and heal, to nourish and to fulfill. Jesus gave his own very self so that we might be nourished and fulfilled and then asked us to do the same. So when  we come together and “do this in remembrance of me” we remind ourselves that, yes we are nourished by the gift of God’s Word and by the bread broken, Christ’s body. We first let ourselves be encouraged and challenged by listening to the Word of God broken open so that we as individuals and as a community of faith might become servants and the Body of Christ. That Word of God in the Sacred Scriptures is already the real presence of Christ. The community of faith gathered together is already the real presence of Christ, the body of Christ. That real presence of Christ comes to fulfillment when we say AMEN on receiving the Body of Christ in the bread broken and the cup shared. But our AMEN also means that: “Yes, I, we, are willing to become the Body of Christ” in the world we live in. Our AMEN means that we are willing to break ourselves open to serve our fellow human beings, to work towards a more just and sharing world, a more human world; that we are willing to work towards making the whole of creation be the way God intended and intends it to be.  That is why I quoted the prayer of St. Theresa, not the Theresa of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”) but rather the strong woman and 16th century Spanish Carmelite mystic, Theresa of Avila:                 “Christ has no body now—but yours. No hands, no feet on earth—but yours.                 Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.                 Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.                 Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.                 Yours are the hands                 Yours are the feet                 Yours are the eyes                 YOU ARE HIS BODY…” 

 
Theresa of Avila also gives us, in these our turbulent times, some very sound advice to trust or, in her words, “rest in the Lord” by practicing patience, not the easiest of virtues nowadays. Like all virtues we need to work at and develop the virtue of patience, which can renew our hope and trust in the future. She wrote: “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing make you afraid. All things are passing. Patience gains all things. If you have God, you will want for nothing. God alone suffices.” It reminds us once more that in our Sacred Scriptures, both the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) as well as the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) the words “be not afraid; I am with you always” are spoken by God or Jesus and repeated more often than anything else.                                                                     Shalom,       

Thanksgiving

October 8, 2017


It is certainly very appropriate that we begin this Thanksgiving weekend with celebrating the Eucharist which comes from the Greek word eucharistein which means thanksgiving. The Eucharist is the high point, the center of a Christian’s spiritual life and not only our spiritual life but really our human life. After all, it reminds us of the source of our life, of our being, of the gift we have received and which we are called to let unfold on our journey in life so that we may journey towards happiness and peace. That happiness and peace and fulfillment is not only our own personal fulfillment but also to the fulfillment of the humanity of all humans throughout the world. After all, that is our call on our human journey: our own happiness but also the happiness of those close to us, our family, our community, our nation, our world.
When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at what we have called the “last supper” he did so by calling together his community for a meal of thanksgiving, in thanksgiving for what the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses had done for his people and for what God did in him, in his life. And the first thing Jesus did at this meal was to become a servant, to wash the feet of his followers telling them to do the same for others, “do this in remembrance of me”: to serve, to wash and heal, to nourish and to fulfill. Jesus gave his own very self so that we might be nourished and fulfilled and then asked us to do the same. So when we come together and “do this in remembrance of me” we remind ourselves that, yes we are nourished by the gift of God’s Word and by the bread broken, Christ’s body. We first let ourselves be challenged by listening to the Word of God broken open so that we as individuals and as a community of faith might become servants and the Body of Christ. That Word of God in the Sacred Scriptures is already the real presence of Christ; that community of faith gathered together is already the real presence of Christ. That real presence of Christ comes to fulfillment when we say AMEN on receiving the Body of Christ in the bread broken and the cup shared. But our AMEN also means that: “Yes, I, we, are willing to become the Body of Christ” in the world we live in.
St. Theresa’s prayer says it all:
“Christ has no body now—but yours. No hands, no feet on earth—but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands
Yours are the feet
Yours are the eyes
YOU ARE HIS BODY…”
How to observe thanksgiving:
Count your blessigns instead of your crosses; count your gains instead of your woes; count your friends insetad of your foes; count your smiles instead of your tears; count your courage instead of your fears; count your full years in stead of your lean; count your kind deeds instead of your mean; count your health instead of your wealth; count on God instead of yourself. Author unknown.
Happy Thanksgiving, Shalom, Fr. Rolf, OP
Fr. Thomas

WHEN PAIN DOES GOOD TO SOMEONE

September 24, 2017

A tourist lady was visiting the mountainous country of Switzerland.

One day, she walked up to a sheep pasture on a hillside. There she saw a shepherd, with his flock of sheep lying at a rest around him. Nearby on a little pile of grass lay a sheep which seemed to be in pain. It was, it had a broken leg. The lady asked the shepherd how it happened. To her amazement, the shepherd answered, "Missus, I broke the sheep’s leg." He went on to explain: "Of all the sheep on this flock, that one was the most disobedient; it would never obey my voice. It always wandered off and led the rest of the flock astray. I had this problem before, so I knew how to cure it. I broke his leg to save it and my other sheep. "

On the first day I went to it with food, and it tried to bite me. I left it alone for a few days and it got hungry. Then I went back to it. Now it not only takes the food but licks my hand."

"Let me tell you something: when this sheep is well again -- as soon as it will be – it will be the model sheep of the flock. No sheep will hear my voice so quickly… None will follow so closely at my side."

Our reward is according to our spiritual works by the grace of God. If we have a heart that is disposed to serve the Lord, He will find spiritual work for us to do for the glory of His kingdom. Seek righteousness and receive the mercy of God. Keeping in mind what has been said, there is a lesson to learn from this. If we want to shine like stars forever and ever, we should not ask what the Church can do for us, but rather, what can we do for the Church. Jesus did not place His angels on earth to evangelize. He placed us here, that is you and me, as lights in the world so that His glory may be manifested through us.

This week, let us reflect upon our Divine calling to evangelize. Let us ask ourselves,

"What am I doing for the Church?"

"How can I bring others to the Church in the name of Jesus?"

"How can I help the Church flourish by the power of the Holy Spirit so that the

Heavenly Father will be pleased with my actions?"

~ Father Thomas