Friday, April 03, 2015

Holy Thursday Homily

    Tonight we remember.  We begin to remember that Love is stronger than death.  We remember this not just as something that happened 2,000 years ago in Jesus, but as something that IS happening to us, in us, right now on this Holy Night.
    The death, that Love is stronger than, is not just our physical death, but all the deaths we endure in loving service of our neighbors.  St. Paul said, in his letter to the Galatians: “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”  To experience this Divine Union in our lives requires a constant death to self so that we may rise in Christ and Christ rise in us.  The steps to this new life are remembered, and hopefully made our own, in the three acts of our Triduum service that we begin tonight.
    Tonight’s action is humble service.  I know it is awkward, and you feel a little self-conscience but imagine what it was like for those at the Last Supper.  Dirty, sweaty, smelly feet; and since no one else would do the task, Jesus bends down and washes everyone’s feet.  This action tells us that    Jesus loves us down to our toes, and that we must love each other in the same way.
    Tonight we need to remember that this table is not just for us gathered here.  All are welcome to the Table of the Lord, all; who suffer unjust laws that seek to discriminate against LGBT community, blacks, Hispanics, all who are coming to our shores seeking a fuller life; all who suffer from our pet peeves and prejudices, all who suffer from our family spats and arguments, all of us who suffer from illnesses and disabilities, who suffer from not feeling not good enough or worthy enough; all are welcome here to the table of the Lord.  Jesus asks: “do you realize what I just did for you?”  We washed each others feet in humble acceptance and welcome, so we do whenever we welcome , without reservation, someone into our lives, or into our community of faith.  Tonight we remember and we do for others what Jesus did for us.
    Tonight we gather around the Table of the Lord, to do what Jesus told us to do in His memory.  We gather in because we need each other.  We gather in for support in our weaknesses, and to share our strength with those who feel they can’t go on.  Together in Christ we are more than we can possibly dream of or imagine.  We need each other so we can face the darknesses that will inevitably will come.
    We end our evening tonight in silence at the Altar of Repose, as we anticipate the deep darkness and emptiness of Good Friday.  It is in the deep darkness of Good Friday that God speaks to us in the silence, for God’s first Word was silence.  It is in the deep darkness of the tomb that all the good stuff happens, and brings forth Easter joy, Yhere may be bunnies and Easter eggs but without the tomb there is no real joy and lasting joy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

OWNING OUR FAITH

The film on this website will be presented to Pope Francis on March 17, by two of my Paulist brothers. Fr. Mark-David Janus, CSP will present the Pope with Cardinal Kasper’s newest Paulist Press book, “Pope Francis’ Revolution of Tenderness and Love.” Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP will present the film "Owning Our Faith" in a private audience after morning mass.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

L2-2015-SPN
    Can we talk?  In today’s liturgy of the Word we reflect on two mountains, Mt. Moriah  and Mt. Tabor both of which we are asked to climb.  We remember Abraham and Isaac, Peter, James and John; two encounters with God.  The first seems dark, even sinister, the second glorious.  In fact, they are both glorious.
    Abraham lived in an era when child sacrifice was common practice among other religious traditions.  Abraham, delighted in a “new” God who had given him a child even when Sarah was barren, unable to give him a child.  Sarah and Abraham delighted in Isaac — the precious gift.  During the walk to Mt. Moriah Abraham must have suffered, must have wondered how in the world God would change joy into tragedy, leading him to the edge of committing the sin of murder.  This story is not about a punitive God who asks deadly things of us, but of a God who wants our full and undivided attention.  God wants all of us, wants to lift us out of our suffering.  Abraham knew that suffering is inevitable but learns that it leads to new and fuller life.
    Peter, James and John suffered from darkness, not understanding who Jesus really was.  So, off to the mountain they go, and there, in an instant of insight they really SEE Jesus - for a single moment Jesus captured their full and undivided attention, lifting them out of their suffering and darkness.  It doesn’t last long, Peter wants to nail it down, hold on to it and own it — and poof it disappears.  .
    Can we talk?  I am tired of naming sins.  It is a useless endeavor.  I am tired of listening to people naming other people’s sins — “look at what they are doing.”  It is even more useless endeavor, unless of course you just want to feel better than.  In the course of a year I listen to the naming of thousands of sins, and it is boring.  95 percent of them are sexual in nature which I am sure God doesn’t care about in the first place.  The naming and absolution go on and on and nothing changes.  People feel frustrated and I come away thinking that everyone is having more fun than I am.  Sin is not the problem, suffering is.  Sin is something we can name, suffering is something we need to enter into in order for it to be healed.  Naming is easier than entering into, so we settle for naming rather than going for transformation - even transfiguration.
    The question is not, what sin have I committed but how am I suffering?  How do I cause the suffering of others?  How are others suffering, not how sinful are they. 
    Last Tuesday I buried a 92 year old man.  Six times he went to the mountain and experienced transfiguration — during his life he had six holes in one, the last at age 86.  Imagine the swoosh of the swing, the crack of the club against the ball — it is all coming together — kerplunk in the hold.  For one, brief, moment singularity happens — all is one in wonder and excitement — all is well in the universe.  Poof, the moment is gone, ego takes over and we walk to the next hold.  These moments can happen not only on a golf course but any time we really let go and let God — when we push through the suffering of practice to glory that is simply given us, a gift, a precious gift.
    This we can experience when we free ourselves and others of the sufferings we all endure.  Lets go to the mountain, to the altar of God that tells us there is NOTHING THAT CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST, except our own EGOS, our willfulness.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Power of Story - The Need for Silence

  A mother once asked Albert Einstein how her son could become as smart as he was.  Einstein replied, “read him fairytales.”  “What else should I do” she asked, “read him more fairytales.”  Einstein once said “logic will get you from point A to point B, imagination will take you everywhere.”
    In a lot of ways we have lost the power of the story.  Immediately we want to know if something is true or not.  We get obsessed with data, facts and what we think is real and concrete.  In religious and spiritual realms we settle for beliefs and creeds rather than faith.  It is ease to say “I believe” quite something else to free fall head long into what we say we believe.  Imagination helps us take that step, the step that can lead us to far more than we can possibly imagine or believe.
    Jesus gave us no creeds.  Jesus told stories, stories that would, if we use our imaginations, lead us to new and fuller life.  Jesus told stores about daily life.  The story of the sower, the story of flowers in the fields, the woman who lost a coin and a person born blind. These and all the other stories Jesus tells can, if we use our imaginations, draw us ever deeper into the ordinary things and events we see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  Jesus knew long before the poet Gerard Manly Hopkins “that all of creation is charged with the grandure of God.”
    A few years ago my dad and I drove the Alcan Highway to Fairbanks Alaska.  I took many beautiful photographs but when I got home I was very disappointed with all of them.  None of them captured what I really saw; they all fell short of the insane beauty of that trip.  People who have seen them like them but I knew their shortcomings.  This is true of our words and iyr language especially when we try to tell someone of our spiritual experiences.  Our words, our symbols are only shadows of what they are trying to convey.
    In recent years my dad has told me stories of his landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  Interesting stories but only my imagination can lead me into the drama, horror, and full fury of what he was experiencing.  His words are only shadows.  My words, our words are only shadows of what we are trying to convey to each other.  This is why silence is so important for in the silence is the fullness of truth.
    God’s first Word was silence and out of that holy silence all was created in the imagination of God.  Only in awe-struck silence and we appreciate God’s truth all around us; only in such silence can we hold tenderly the truth of our friends, relatives, partners and our community of Faith.  “When you pray, go to your room and shut the door.”   We need to do this often alone and with others to discover God’s truth and love that abides deep within each of us.
    Let our first word, be Holy Silence.

Fr. Michael Evernden, CSP

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Every Creature is a Word of God

Fr. Richard Rohr nailed it with this reflection this morning:

Every Creature Is a Word of God
Thursday, January 22, 2015
God brought things into being in order that his [sic] goodness might be communicated to creatures, and be represented by them; and because his goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, he produced many and diverse creatures, that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another. For goodness, which in God is simple and uniform, in creatures is manifold and divided.
-Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 47, 1


Each and every creature is a unique word of God, with its own message, its own metaphor, its own energetic style, its own way of showing forth goodness, beauty, and participation in the Great Mystery. Each creature has its own glow and its own unique glory. To be a contemplative is to be able to see each epiphany, to enjoy it, protect it, and draw upon it for the common good. (Some Sundays I am drawn to awe, prayer, and service by the Nature Channel much more than by the morning church service!)

Sister Ilia Delio, OSF, a speaker at some CAC conferences, writes in true Franciscan style: "The world is created as a means of God's self-revelation so that, like a mirror or footprint, it might lead us to love and praise the Creator. We are created to read the book of creation so that we may know the Author of Life. This book of creation is an expression of who God is and is meant to lead humans to what it signifies, namely, the eternal Trinity of dynamic, self-diffusive love" (Christ in Evolution, p. 62).

Meister Eckhart, OP, says it even more succinctly: "Anyone who truly knows creatures may be excused from listening to sermons, for every creature is full of God, and is a book." And that is from one who was a member of the Order of Preachers!

Adapted from "Every Creature Is a Word of God," Radical Grace,
Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring 2011, p. 3

Related resources:
The Cosmic Christ (CD, MP3 download)
and In the Footsteps of Francis: Awakening to Creation (CD, MP3 download)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It is only a cartoon

It is only a cartoon. Last Sunday around a million French citizens flooded the streets of Paris to proclaim freedom; freedom from tyranny, freedom of speech, religion, freedom from fear and terror. Freedom, however, does not mean I can do whatever I want. Freedom requires civility. Freedom does not mean just because I can, I should. Words, even cartoon words matter. That said, there is no justification for slaughtering anyone for what is only a cartoon, be it a misguided opinion or not. Freedom requires civility. There is nothing civil about extremism in any form. Extremism never expresses the core values of any religious tradition. Extremism is ego on steroids, what I want at all costs. Addressing extremism and extremists is not the same as addressing their so called religious identities. Extremism is born of a dark fear that I am not going to get my way, that I am only good or right if I can wipe out all opposition to my way of thinking. We see being played out on the world stage, the bulling, fighting, arguments, spats and ego butting we experience as a part of our daily, individual lives. So, the solution begins with each of us individually, how we act and react on a daily basis to daily problems. Our scripture readings this weekend give us a clue to where we need to begin. Like Samuel we are often confused by the voices we hear. Eli tells Samuel what we need to do, to go to a quiet place, sort things out and utter the most important sentence, “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Only in quiet, only by getting our egos out of the way and listen with all of our senses will we know the next right step to take. In the Gospel, Jesus asks a most important question, “what are you looking for?” They ask, “where do you stay?” Jesus responds, “come and see” and they went and saw and stayed with Him. As we begin this New Year, the question is what are we looking for? Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him and we must stay with Him if we are to know the next right step. This response may seem so small, puny, insignificant we might just say so what. We might say if everyone doesn’t get on board, why should I? The fact is that nothing will change unless we change. We can only begin by taking the next step, and then the next and the next. The march in Paris last week will mean little unless each and every marcher actually changes, lives daily what they marched for. The march ws only a small beginning, the real work lies ahead as it does for each of us. The French did a good thing last week. We do a good thing every week in church but if these good things don’t transform our daily lives it is all for naught. We need to live what we celebrate so we can celebrate what we live; otherwise it is only a cartoon. Peace, and all Good, Michael

Small Train Ride in Wilson Park, Torrence CA