Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Anne's Novena: Binghamton, NY: July 14-26, 2009

July 28, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was preaching a St. Anne's Novena in Holy Trinity Parish, Binghamton, NY. This parish is an combination of three parishes, one of which was originally named St. Anne (hence this particular devotion). We had a great crowd each evening, from 130 to 160 people.

We had Mass with an extended homily, and then the novena prayers at the end of Mass. Many of the talks centered on the mercy of God, especially as seen in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The people were most welcoming and were very supportive of the message I preached.

The friars staff this parish as well as St. Cyril and Methodius a little distance away.

The closing evening we had a procession with the relic of St. Anne. I found out later that the parish has a tradition of praying with their feet in religious processions. I always find that a very healthy thing. We so often pray with our minds, and we have to find a way to use our bodies as instruments of prayer as well. I often give the example of the Whirling Dervishes (Sufi mystics who dance around for hours on end to enter into a religious trance), the rabbis at the Wailing Wall who bounce back and forth, and even our charismatic brothers and sisters who wave their arms and clap their hands as they pray. I think we could even think of certain activities such as exercise, taking a walk, dancing, etc. as forms of prayer if we use them to unite us with God.

I finished two short tape series this week. The first was called Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It is the story of a disaster that occurred on a Mount Everest climb in which several people were killed. I am not sure I understand the lure of mountain climbing, but this book gave me a great insight to the psyche and the dangers involved.

The second was an abridged novel called Brought in Dead by Jack Higgins. It is a British detective novel and it was typically clever and enjoyable.

I also finished a volume of the Library of Christian Classics called Alexandrian Christianity edited by Henry Chadwick and J.E. Oulton. This volume is not for the faint hearted. It is a series of translations from the writings of Clement of Alexandria and Origin, also from Alexandria. They wrote at the end of the second century and the beginning of the third century A.D. One can see how many of the doctrines that we hold dear were already established, while others were still being developed. Clement ended his career better than Origin. The latter was accused of various points of heresy (e.g. that even the devils would convert before the end of the world and that all of what God created would be saved). They show their strong Greek philosophical background (e.g. putting down the physical world while seeing that which is spiritual as the only true good). Their works are heavy, and I admit I only finished them because I set a quota of ten pages a day until I finished them). Yet, I found them worthwhile for me. They certainly showed me how many different heresies were circulating in the early days of the Church, and how it truly was a miracle that the faith remained intact (which can only be explained by the action of the Holy Spirit).

As I mentioned last week, tomorrow I am travelling over to Kenya to give some retreats. I don't know if I will have access to the internet while I am there. If I do, I will blog you next week. If not, then I'll start again when I get home on the 18th of August.


fr. Jude


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