Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Power of a Name

The scripture in Sunday mass today spoke of humility and expressing it in a very specific action.  Jesus directed all those who exhibit a desire to sit at the front, to rethink their choice as imprudent.

I struggle with the virtue of humility. I cannot seem to aquire it, but instead I long for it and admire those who have it.  I have prayed for it before and a combination of calamities befell me so that I started to despair almost, rather than seek a false humilty at my circumstances.

Humility is not a learned skill, it is only a grace from God which holds His essence and at the core is Love.

It has been easy for me to act with love in my life and profession as a teacher.  I pray for it continuously, that is what makes it easy to act on.  But a new student has struck a humble chord in me this past first week of school.  He asks many questions in his Hispanic accent, and each time he starts with a questioning intonation of the word "Teacher."

At first I corrected him, so that he would know my name, but I don't think I will again.  Because this small voice and a request afterwards is so beautiful to me.  It makes me think of the way Christ's disciples would have requested his teachings.  I am not comparing myself to Christ in any way, but this small request and following question led by the word "Teacher," humbles me enough to see how it is my duty to act as Christ did.  We all know that part ofcourse, but to have an added dimension of someone using the name of the vocation that God has given you is both gratifying and humbling.

Imagine if someone were to call on you instead in this manner:
"Hello, Friend?  I need your help today."

Maybe it has only struct me, in that I have never been addressed directly in this way, but I am glad it has.  This young man has humbled me and trusted in me to help him, in the same way I call upon Christ to grant my salvation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Florida Catholic: Link to Article

Here is a link to an interesting article about the Maronite Catholic Church.  I didn't realize when I last wrote about it in The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America that it is the anniversary of St. Maron this year.  Please keep praying for the building of the church in Baton Rouge by Father Charbel.

A pilgrimage site has been set up in Miami at Our Lady of Lebanon.  A beautiful prayer posted on their site reads:

1600th Jubilee of the passing of Saint Maron

Lord God,

you called your chosen one, Saint Maron,

to the monastic life,

perfected him in divine virtues,

and guided him along the difficult road

to the heavenly kingdom.

During this jubilee year, commemorating 1600 years

since the death of your chosen one, Saint Maron,

when he was called to the house of your heavenly Father;

We ask you, through his intercession,

to immerseus in your love that we may

walk in your path, heed your commandments,

and follow in his footsteps.

May his holy example resonate throughout our lives.

With your love, may we achieve that final destination

reached by our father, Saint Maron,

and carry your Gospel throughout the world.

Through his intercession, may we attain

the glory of the resurrection and everlasting life in you.

Glory and thanks are due to you, to your blessed Father, and to your living Holy Spirit, now and for ever.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Queen of the Universe

I visited the basilica in Orlando today. At first I was slightly unnerved by the opening speech that lasted for a while. I thought it took away from the purpose. But then I reminded myself to shutup because I was in a church built for tourists to be welcomed.

I tend to judge a mass by the same reverence that is present in a latin rite mass. I knew I was wrong to judge in this instance.

The entire experience at this church turned out to be quite a personal one. The architecture was modern, the head priest was chatty and people still came in at the end of the homily. But the presiders took this in stride and made all feel so welcome.

Even though I probably won't be attending this church again soon because I live elsewhere, the personal touch was heartwarming. Imagine if churches felt that way all the time. My local parish doesn't seem welcoming at all. You know when you sit next to people who smirk at you during the sign of peace and refuse to touch you or be pleasant in the least?

Unfortunately it happens. But what if we could combine the joy of smiling greetings and the reverence of the Catholic liturgy? It would be awesome! That's the church I want to live in the parish of. Instead, there are old poops like me who have gotten so used to avoiding the 'grumpies' , I just don't talk to anyone but my friends.

So let's go to our universal church like we really love to be there from now on! And that goes for me too!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America

I’ve been trying to research the Eastern Orthodox tradition to write a convincing article about a small movement to build a Maronite place of worship in Baton Rouge, La. I have not found much information other than what has recently been encouraged and said by Pope Benedict XVI.

He said in his June visit to the Maronite Church of Cyprus, “Together with Christians throughout the world, we are part of that great temple which is the Mystical Body of Christ. Our spiritual worship, offered in many tongues, in many places and in a beautiful variety of liturgies, is an expression of the one voice of the People of God, united in praise and thanksgiving to him and in enduring communion with each other.”

The Eastern Orthodox Church has a varied history with popular saints such as John Chrysostom out of Antioch and Saint Maron, an ascetic monk who led his followers toward Lebanon establishing the Maronite Church. The area of Syria extends north of Israel and Iraq today and surrounds most of Lebanon. According to history many people were converted to Christianity throughout Syria up until the 7th century when Muslim Turks forced conversion.

Today in Lebanon, where the Maronite Church was founded, all Christians are threatened by a pressing culture that surrounds them. In an interview from 2000, of a Syrian Catholic Bishop, the Bishop speaks of the diaspora of Christians from Lebanon and how they often choose to move to the United States to enjoy a free Christian lifestyle rather than struggle in an overpowering Muslim culture that tries to dominate in a secular state.
This is the main reason why it is important for Roman Catholics to pray for our Eastern Orthodox brethren that remain in unity with the Holy See. As long as there are zealous Christians that teach Truth in the Middle East, then there is the chance for peace.

Father Charbel Jamhoury has come from Beirut to Baton Rouge to help establish an Eastern Orthodox Maronite Catholic Church. His mission is the greater mission of the Church. Pope John Paul II spoke frequently of the brotherhood of Churches and the of the successors of Peter “joined together in a multiplicity of organically united groups.” As Roman Catholics we are called to pray in solidarity with the mission of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church and the mission of establishing communities to strengthen Catholics in our American cities too.

Please pray a novena with me for the success of Father Charbel’s goals in Baton Rouge. I found a prayer for church building, funny enough, at an Eastern Christian blog by Father Stephen. Please let it start your prayer each of these nine days.

O Lord our God, whose might upholdeth all creation: Stablish the work of our helpless hands; And make this lowly church a place for the showing of Thy glory; and for all peoples a house of prayer pleasing in Thy sight. We pray Thee: Hear us and have mercy.