Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Eucharist: Model of Catholic Life

November 24, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was out in San Diego again at our Mother of Confidence. The retreat was on the Eucharist as the model of Catholic life. Sunday night I spoke about the Eucharist in general. Monday I presented the vertical dimension of the Eucharist (that it really is the body and blood of Christ). Tuesday was the horizontal dimension (that we must form communion with each other). Wednesday, I spoke about the missionary dimension of the Eucharist (that we are called to share the faith with others). The morning sessions were on the Gospel of Luke which we shall use this coming year in the liturgy. The parish was welcoming, as were the two priest there: Msgr Sheahan and a 90 year old priest who lives there, Fr. Hopkins. The latter is incredible for his willingness to help and serve, even if his eyesight is very poor.

I flew home on Thursday and then Friday morning drove out to the Dominican Retreat House in McLean, VA. I gave a workshop on the theme of suffering, drawn from the book I wrote called I Cry to You, O Lord. Then in the evening I started a weekend of recollection on the theme that the retreat house is using this year: Behold, I make all things new. There were two major talks and three homilies. Most of the retreat was silent. The spirit of the group was very peaceful, even as most of them were discerning major moments in their lives.

I am slowly working on the psalms CD's, but it is still going to take quite some time to finish that project.

I finished three books this week. The first was Fields of Battle: the Wars for North America by John Keegan. I had read another book by him a couple of months ago. He is very good, and this particular book is unusual. It is about some of the major turmoils that defined the nation, but it also include many of his own remembrances when he visited those sites. It was a cross between a war book and a travelogue.

I finished Eleanor of Aquitaine by Desmond Seward. What a woman! If you don't know enough about her, she is worth studying. One of her major projects was to fund a monastery for women which became a refuge for "fallen" women and battered women of her time. She plotted, conspired, connived, etc. She was the mother of Richard the Lion Hearted, and the wife of both the King of France and then Henry II, the king of England. (You might remember the film Lion in Winter about her and Henry).

The third book was my spiritual reading: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey. He is evangelical, so his scholarship about the history of some of the books of the Bible falls short, but his insights into faith and God's intentions and human response is right on. I took one quote from the book from the writings of CS Lewis: There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every split second, every square inch of it is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan. It speaks of the battle between good and evil that is most often fought in the most mundane of places and situation. Every choice has cosmic consequences.

I have a request for those of you who read this blog. I have been asked to go to Ghana to give a retreat for some diocesan seminarians. Normally, people who invite me must pay for my trip, but this country is much too poor. Furthermore, the province which has paid for many trips in the past just can't afford it this time. Can any of you help out. The plane ticket alone is going to cost over $2,000. If you can, could you mail whatever you can afford to Fr. Jude; 12290 Folly Quarter Road; Ellicott City, MD 21042. Thank you for considering this request.

God bless and have a Good Thanksgiving.


fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Boston Mission

November 17, 2009

The Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Peace and Good,

All goes well on the western front. This week I am in San Diego giving a parish mission, but last week I was in Lynnfield, MA, giving a mission at our Lady's Parish.

The morning and the evening talks were different, which I actually like a little better. I used the themes that I had developed for Fredericksburg for the morning: St. Paul in Scripture, St. Peter in Scripture, the Blessed Virgin Mary in Scripture, and Abraham and Sarah in Scripture.

The evenings were an overview of the themes in the Book of Revelation. Both morning and evening we had a great turn out. I was very pleased with the way it went.

I am working on the psalms classes CD's. The first one should be done shortly. It can take about three hours of editing for each hour of tape, so this is a long and drawn out process.

I am also back to the translating project. So far, so good.

I finished a series of lectures entitled Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Robert Bartlett. These were CD's prepared by the teaching company. I did my philosophy courses so many years ago that it was about time that I review some of the ideas in this CD's.

I also finished a book entitles the Renaissance Popes by Gerard Noel. If this book didn't make me lose my faith, then nothing ever will. The real purpose of the book was to present Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope (as in the father of Caesare and Lucricia Borgia) as not as bad as some would say. The problem is that he was plenty bad. (Not that most of the popes in his era were that much better.) Even Catholic authors considered him to be so bad that they called him the antichrist (which, of course, the Protestant reformers immediately picked up upon and used against him and the other popes down to the present days). This book reminded me of the writings of Boccacio who spoke of a Jewish gentleman who wanted to travel from Florence to Rome of convert during the Middle Ages. His friends all tried to talk him out of it because they knew the terrible things he would encounter in Rome. Yet, he went and then returned. He told them he went through with the conversion. They asked him if he had not seen all of those terrible things, and he responded that he had. Now, they were mystified and asked him why he had still converted. His answer is that if all those things could be going on and still the Church continues, then the Holy Spirit must be behind it.

God bless and


fr. Jude

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Studying the Psalms

November 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was home in Ellicott City. I gave a series of talks on the psalms. We had two identical sessions for each talk, in the PM and in the following AM, beginning with Monday evening and ending with Friday morning. I was very pleased with the way that the talks turned out.

The first day we looked at the psalms in general and the wisdom psalms (those which speak about the good life and how to live it). The second day we looked at lamentations, both individual and communal. That is the largest category in the psalter. I paid special attention to Psalm 22. That one fascinates me, because when you read it, you would swear it was written especially for the passion of Jesus, and yet it was written many hundreds of years before. I emphasized that since almost all individual lamentations end with a thanksgiving (called a todah in Hebrew), then Jesus' words, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me," are the introduction to a psalm that ends with a profession of faith that God would intervene. The third day we looked at psalms of trust and hope, including most people's favorite, Psalm 23. I compare that psalm to the song in the Sound of Music about raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens. It is a series of pleasant images to remind us that we can trust in God. The last day we looked at Messianic psalms, royal psalms and songs of Zion. Psalm 45 is my favorite. It was written for the wedding of a king of Israel, Ahab, and his foreign wife, Jezebel. Yet, hundreds of years later, it was used by the early Christians as a psalm that foretold the wedding of Christ with the Church. God does truly write straight with crooked lines.

I taped all of these talks and will be editing them over the next few months. If you would like a notice when they are ready, drop at line at my e mail address, frajude@juno.com.

I finished reading a second work by St. Augustine, the Enchiridion. It is about faith, hope, and charity, and it uses the Creed and the Our Father as its starting point. The thing that fascinated me is that I was able to see how Augustine seems to have gotten caught up a bit in the whole question of predestination. It is almost as if God had decided who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. You can see where the reformers such as Calvin drew their ideas when you read Augustine's writings. I have to believe that God intends all of us to be saved, yet he has given us freedom to decide for ourselves. I am sure it breaks God's heart if one of his children chooses the wrong path, but love cannot be forced.

I also finished listening to a book on CD called Leviathan by Eric Jay Dolan. I thought it was going to be about whales, but it was about whaling. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about the harrowing journeys and adventures of those who went to sea in this enterprise.

I am in a parish in Lynnfield, MA, near Boston, this week.

God bless and

fr. Jude

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A New Parish Grows

November 3, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was down in Fredericksburg, VA. I had given a mission at St. Jude Parish there five years ago. At that time, they had just moved from a funeral parlor to a facility in a strip mall (they are in a remodeled gym). The parish was just starting to take off.

It has grown by leaps and bounds. They are ready to begin the process of building a Church. The whole area is all but unrecognizable with all the building that has gone on. It is a commuter area for people who work in Washington D.C. (although it is some 40 miles away and the commute is a bear on interstate 95).

The sessions in the evening were centered on the Gospels, one night for each Gospel. In the morning, the sessions were on various people of the Bible: Mary, Peter, Paul, and Abraham and Sarah. As is common in my missions, the morning sessions were a bit more informal (as we drank coffee and ate some of the baked goods) while the evening sessions were a bit more formal.

The evening sessions were interrupted on Wednesday for the confirmation of the parish youth. There were over 20 confirmed, and the ceremony was incredibly well prepared. The bishop was great. He is one of the military bishops, Bishop Richard Higgins. (It was everything I could do not to call him Henry Higgins in the Eucharistic Prayer.) He knew exactly how to speak to the young people. He asked of them a promise of listening to God's call at least five minutes a day, a great idea for all of us.

I got to see the center of Fredericksburg this time (very nice and quaint) and saw the battle field ( I am a Civil War buff). Usually, when I travel, I don't like to see that many things because I am already overwhelmed with new things. Yet, this was well worth it.

I am at home this week giving a series of talks on the psalms. I am taping the talks (four of them of two hours each), so I hope to have the CD's available sometime around Christmas. I haven't finished any books, largely because I am reading about seven all at the same time. I guess I get bored easily, so I need to read a little bit from each one when I feel like it.

Today is my mom's birthday. It has been three years since mom and dad passed away in a car accident. Please keep them and my brother Gil (who died shortly before them) in your prayers.

God bless and

fr. Jude