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Posts Tagged ‘Fr. Tom’

The sacred three days (“Triduum”) has begun.  Tonight was the Feast of Holy Thursday, a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ gifts of the Eucharist and the priesthood.  We prayed specifically for priests, bishops and our Holy Father, and given the attacks on our wonderful pope, I thought this was very moving.

Fr. Tom gave a very good homily using some wisdom he got from a book called Thoughts Matter, which I might have to look into getting for myself.  I wish I had taken in a pen and paper, he said so much to scribble down.

After Mass, we processed with the Eucharist to its place of keeping, singing the English version of the Pange, Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium.  Once the Eucharist was enthroned, we sang “Jesus Remember Me” then ended with prayer and adoration.

I really enjoy the Latin Pange, Lingua, written by Thomas Aquinas.

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My parish priest, in addition to being a truly joyful servant, has a wealth of pithy sayings that cut right to the heart of the matter.  Here is what he said to me tonight during Reconciliation:

The Chinese have a saying – ‘There are two good times to plant a tree.  Twenty years ago, and today.’  ….Go, and plant a tree.”

Please pray for my tree!

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St. Benedict by Herman Nigg

Fr. Tom, showing his love for his sheep, had parts of the Rule of St. Benedict published in today’s bulletin.  I think it is edifying for my parish and me.  In this Year of the Priest, I pass it on for your edification, too.  :-)    

  • Help those who are in trouble.
  • Console the afflicted.  
  • Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
  • Speak the truth from your heart as from your mouth.    
  • Attribute the good that you find in yourself to God, and not to yourself.    
  • Desire eternal life with all the ardor of your soul.    
  • Listen willingly to the Holy Scriptures.    
  • Daily confess your past faults to God in your prayers with tears and groans, and in the future correct them.    
  • In all things obey the instructions of the Abbot even if, God forbid, he should go astray in his works, remembering this precept of the Lord: Do what they say, but not what they do.    
  • The struggler must be patient, enduring all things that come to him.    
  • We should not seek to be different from others; we should do only what is needful, following the example of the saints.    
  • Our words to others should be few and covered with gentleness.    
  • Honor those who are old.    
  • Love those who are younger.    
  • Pray for your enemies in the love of Christ.    
  • Make peace, before the setting of the sun, with those from whom you have been separated by discord.    
  • And never despair of the mercy of God.    

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Today is Ash Wednesday.  When I was young, this day was one of my least favorite days of the year, competing with Good Friday for awfulness.  The Lenten season was drudgery and pain and meant that I couldn’t eat chocolate or the newly delivered Girl Scout cookies.  I felt bad about Jesus dying.   Forty days dragged on and on.  But God is good and I grew in my faith and my understanding of this liturgical season.  Lent is now my favorite season, and Ash Wednesday one of my favorite days on the Church calendar.

Tonight, something wonderful happened at our parish for our Mass.  It was full of people!  Not just “Sunday morning at 11 am” full, either — it was overflowing, as in Midnight Mass overflowing.  All the seats were taken, we squished in, my family took our usual “no kneeler” pew and every spot was filled.  People lined the back walls and sat on folding chairs in the narthex.   It was very moving.  Fr. Tom watched in awe as more and more people came in.  This, for a Wednesday Mass that is no longer a holy day of obligation.  When we sang the Kyrie Eleison, the sound of so many voices brought tears to my eyes.  Fr. Tom, known for his good homilies, knocked it out of the ballpark with a straightforward challenge to each of us to fast earnestly throughout Lent, to suffer and deny ourselves.  He said, if there is no medical reason why you cannot fast, there is every spiritual reason to do so.  Can you do it?  Will you do it for Jesus?

On the way out of church, I noticed that the little Lenten black books were being snatched up too.

What does this mean?    Is it a reflection on our economy?  on the state of the nation?  Are people scared?  Is it a revival within our parish or the Catholic Church?  I don’t know, and I can’t speculate on that, but there were a lot of souls who needed to be there tonight, and it was a blessed thing to see.  So many souls receiving ashes on their forehead and reminders to turn away from our sins and be faithful to the gospel.

To that I say, “Amen, Amen.”

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Today–when we celebrate Epiphany— is one of my favorite days in the liturgical calendar.  It is the day I get to move the magi into the manger scene, and as a kid, I always loved rearranging, gazing on and meditating before the Nativity set we had under the tree.

In today’s homily, Fr. Tom told us about a friend of his from Peru who had never heard of Santa Clause until he got here to America.  (Santa Claus is a very European tradition.)   His family did not celebrate Christmas Day in the way we do here.  They gathered, went to mass and had a wonderful feast dinner.  But it wasn’t until Epiphany that they exchanged gifts.  On the morning of Epiphany, the children would rise to find gifts from the magi who had been following the star searching for the Lord.  The children would be told that when the magi came to the family’s house, the magi found the love of Christ so strong, they were sure that the Christ child was there, so they left gifts for Him….and those of course became what we would think of as Santa gifts.

Fr. Tom gave us homework.  He told us to make Epiphany a day of gift-giving “from the heart.  A day to give something of our faith to those we love–a Bible, a spiritual book, Rosary, whatever.”  He said, “Wouldn’t that be something?”

Inviting gifts of the season by having a Christ-centered, loving home.  An Epiphany gift given from the heart.  Wouldn’t that be something?

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…whenever we say “yes” to God’s will.  –Fr. Tom, Midnight Mass homily

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Creighton‘s Institute for Priestly Formations is doing God’s work, as you can see in this wonderful video.   Pope Benedict has come back time and again to the centrality of prayer within the life of priests.   That is what the Institute for Priestly Formations does:  teaches priests how to pray.  (If you scoff at that, then congratulations on being a better pray-er than me;  indeed, than most all of us.  Praying is a lifelong learning process of giving oneself over to God.  Even the great saints struggled with prayer.)

Watching this video, I was reminded how difficult the life of priesthood is.  Difficult and sometimes lonely.  I think those of us who are in the flock forget how much work our priests do.  How much responsibility they carry.  Yet, every single parishioner expects their pastor to be available for their needs, have time to chat, always be friendly and cheerful and be absolutely saintly all the time.   An example of this type of self-absorbed thinking would be a grandmother I met at a Catholic bookstore last month.  (I was getting my St. Terese book finally!)  She was picking out a Confirmation gift for her grandson, whose parents had switched to an Episcopalian Church because the father was vehemently anti-Catholic.  Although she started off bemoaning the loss of her daughter’s faith, she ended up berating her own priest for his lack of time, saying that she could not remember the last time her parish priest just visited her at home.  I interrupted (respectfully!) and said, “Ma’am, do you realize how many responsibilities your pastor has?  IF he only has one parish to tend, then he’s the preacher, the director of the RCIA, the teacher of the RCIA, the Superintendent of the parochial school, the eulogist, the celebrant, the CFO, the COO and the CEO of your church.  Oh, and probably the chief bottle washer, too.”  I stopped short of asking her when was the last time she volunteered around the parish office, but I did say that I stop in every couple of weeks to see if Father needs any odd errands run, and then joked that if we didn’t shop for him, our priest would wear pants with holes in the knees.  I am 100% positive that finding time in the day for personal prayer is very very hard for my priest.  I know that is why he rises at 5am to walk the park, because it is some of the only time he has to give to the Lord  in prayer.

So readers:  Pray for your priest.  Pray for your bishop and other leadership.  Theirs is a difficult life and having chosen it for themselves does not make it any easier a burden to bear. 

Also, please lift up the people of this Institute in prayer, their leaders, teachers and students, that through the work of IPF, we might receive more laborers for our vineyards tend to those laborers we have and grow God’s people here on earth.  May God continue to bless the work happening in Nebraska, and may the grace flowing through the newly acquired prayer lives of these  men sustain them in their ministries.

(I couldn’t embed the video.  Sorry).

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