Tag Archives: Charles Burre

Understanding Our Citizenship by Charles Burre

isaiah-116-17Meditation on the readings for February 25, 2016
Jer.17:5-10; Psalms 1:1-4, 6; Luke 16:19-31

Today is not an easy time to be a citizen of the United States, for me at least, as we look forward to the presidential election. Many of the readings that we have heard already this Lent have called us to be the opposite of what the most of the candidates are promoting. For example: Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow (Is. 1:16), or …remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech…bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted (Is. 58:9,10).

I can take consolation from the second reading from last Sunday: But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). Father Austin Flemming’s homily from Sunday, puts some of these Continue reading

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Advent Reflection for December 7 by Charles Burre

adventcandlemotionweek2Advent Reflection – Joyful Journeys

Meditation on the readings for December 7, 2015
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalms 85: 9-14; Luke 5: 17-26

The passage from Isaiah is the perfect passage for Advent. If we fill in the other side of Isaiah’s metaphors with personal struggles in our lives that have been resolved through God’s mercy and love, then we can claim the joy of the season for our own. What lands of ours that were once parched have come into to full bloom? Have our hands and knees that were once feeble been made strong? Were our hearts frightened (and whose aren’t today) before we heard the words “Fear not”?

Perhaps our struggle is ongoing. Then, like the paralyzed man in the Gospel’s, we need friends that will carry us the the feet of Jesus where we can ask to be healed. And don’t be surprised if he says to us, “Your sins our forgiven.” If we reflect on this, we may realize that our paralysis is due to some unforgiven sin. Unforgiven because we have not asked to be forgiven or we have been in denial of its existence. Once we come to know that our God is a forgiving God, the healing can begin. Not only will we recover our ability to walk, we will be able to “leap like a stag” singing and praising God all the way home.

The message of Christmas should give us such joy and hope. When Simeon held the Christ child in the temple, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that through this baby salvation had come into the world so that the people of all nations could be healed. The psalmist declares that God has proclaimed peace to those who put their trust in Him. Isn’t that what the angels proclaimed to the shepherds?

We have a journey to make and we will pass through desserts, times of sickness, and times of fear along that journey. Perhaps we have come a long way along that journey or perhaps we have just found someone to show us the way to go.The scriptures assure us that God will accompany us on that journey with His mercy love and peace. The message of Christmas is that we do not have to make that journey alone, that all we have to is to walk in His footsteps.

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Promoting Our Joy – a Lenten reflection by Charles Burre

imagesMeditation on the readings for March 16, 2015
Isaiah 65: 17-21; Psalms 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12a, 13b; John 4: 43-54

In today’s reading Isaiah writes of the new heaven and new earth, which those who seek to know and honor the Lord will experience. Certainly the world free of all pain and suffering that is described is not yet a reality, but I believe that if we accept the good news that Jesus proclaimed, we can experience so much of this joy right now. We can, and should be, a delightful and joyful people who do not remember the painful things of the past. Yes, even in Lent!

I think that we Christians too often speak of the necessity of suffering in our lives. In fact, I cringe and think “Here we go again.” everytime I hear this message, or come across it in my spiritual readings. Although Jesus did ask us to take up our cross and follow Him, He also said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Why can’t we emphasize this?

The psalm for today says, “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing…You changed my mourning into dancing; O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”

rejoiceOf course, “Life is difficult.” as Father Pat likes to say. Mature Christians need to see their difficulties, trials, and suffering as things that will strengthen their character and cause them to turn to God for help. There is a time and place for counsel and guidance to help a brother or sister through a difficult period. I am not saying that such times of trial should be made light of or even denied. The last thing the person who is suffering needs to hear is “This is nothing. Cheer up!” What I am trying to say here is that, to the outsider, it appears that our faith journey consists solely in the way of the cross. We as Christians can get too hung up on our weeping at nightfall and miss the opportunity to share the rejoicing at dawn.

I also do not want to say that during Lent and the Easter Triduum, we should not let our beings become fully immersed in the passion of Christ. This is after all the core of our faith. But let’s not forget, “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.

One of the songs we sing at our Residents Encounter Christ (REC) retreats in NY prisons is “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” I first learned this song many years ago at our Hosanna prayer meetings. In those days our meetings felt like large revival meetings, as we sang enthusiastically: “I have decided to follow Jesus…, no turning back, no turning back.

noturningbackRecently, while rehearsing this song for an upcoming REC retreat, I noticed the second and third verses on our homemade song sheets: “2. It’s persecution to follow Jesus… 3. It’s tribulation to follow Jesus…” I did not remember these verses from the songbooks we used in Hosanna and suggested to the retreat team that these verses were not what the prison inmates needed to hear. We hold these retreats to make the love of Jesus become real to the inmates and these words detract, even if there is some truth to them at some point in our lives as Christians. The team agreed and our new song sheets omit these verses.

Although we will indeed face difficulties in our lives, because we know that our God will always help us through them, the song we should be singing is the last verse: “Sing glory glory and alleluia…No turning back, no turning back.

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The Reason for the Season – by Charles Burre

waiting+on+LordMeditation on the readings for December 2, 2014

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Luke 10:21-24

I decided to look at the next day’s readings each day until I found one that struck a chord with me and provided some thoughts for reflection. Bingo! Paydirt on the first day.

The reading from Isaiah: “but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.” echoed the book I am currently reading: Just Mercy by Bryon Stevenson. Bryon is a Harvard lawyer who has dedicated his life to defending the poor who have been sentenced to die in Southern prisons. His stories of hopelessness and injustice in the courts and prisons of our country are heart-rending. However, his selfless dedication to provide mercy and justice to those who need it most is inspiring. I am sure that he is guided by the vision that Isaiah had and that he is sustained by the Wonder-Counselor and Prince of Peace.

Last year I Continue reading

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Advent Reflection – December 4, 2013 – My Cup Overfloweth

mycuprunnethoverwater

My Cup Overfloweth

Reflection on the readings for Dec. 4
Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 15:29-37

An Advent reflection from parishioner Charles Burre

In Saturday’s blog, Fran spoke of the transition from Thanksgiving to the waiting season of Advent, yet today’s readings are overflowing with reasons to continue to give thanks. Isaiah tells us that the Lord will provide “for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” Not only will He supply our material needs, He will remove those things the threaten or confuse us (“the web that is woven over all nations”) and those things that cause us sadness or grief. And finally, the ultimate reason to rejoice, that to which Advent is pointing, “let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us.

Psalm 23 is frequently invoked in times of turmoil or grief, yet it too is mostly about thanksgiving. Our cups overflow with all that we need: green pastures, still waters, right paths, comfort, protection, and an abundance goodness and mercy throughout our lives. The Psalm also ends with the assurance that we will remain in the Lord’s presence forever.

Thanksgiving has never been far from my thoughts at this time in my life. We had a joyful Thanksgiving with two of our children, their spouses, and two beautiful granddaughters. The month of November began with the birth of our sixth grandchild and first grandson. Over the years the material needs of our family have been taken care of, often in unanticipated ways. God has guided us to good doctors and nurses when healing was needed. This was especially true for me this past year. Most importantly, He has led me on the right paths, which brought me to St. Edward’s, and surrounded me with many Christian friends.

In Matthew’s gospel we see in Jesus what is foretold in the first two readings as He feeds and heals all those who come to Him. The salvation story will unfold as we journey through the gospel and the liturgical year. It is the fulfillment of this ultimate promise that gives Advent and Christmas the joy that is proclaimed in so many beautiful ways at this time of year. Let us not forget the reason for this joy. May we continue to live our lives with joyful hearts that are overflowing with thanksgiving.

-Charles Burre

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Lenten Reflections – February 21, 2013 by Charles Burre

Meditation on the readings for February 21, 2013
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Psalms 138:1-3, 7-8; Matthew 7:7-12

Queen_Esther_2002Today’s

readings focus on prayer. Queen Esther pleads with God for help in confronting a conspiracy against her people. The psalmist overflows with gratitude because “On the day I cried out, you answered.” Jesus promises that our heavenly Father loves us infinitely more than any earthly father could and will fulfill our every need.

How

do we pray and what do we expect? Do we present God with a shopping list and expect that all items will be delivered or, at least, we will get a few of the important ones? Do we raise the same request over and over and think “God why don’t you hear me?” The image of the door being opened to the one who Knock_pennyknocks reminds me of the TV character, Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is portrayed as an immature, obsessive-compulsive person so impatient that, when he knocks on a door, he waits less that a fraction of a second and then knocks again, and again, and again frantically calling out the person’s name whom he expects to answer. This is certainly not how God wants us to approach his door.

The

readings on Tuesday of this week also pertained to prayer. The reflection by Kristin Armstrong in daily devotional Living Faith beautifully describe how when we open our hearts in prayer, God opens the door. She writes:

“When

we talk things over with him in prayer, the Holy Spirit enlightens us in the conversation. As our layers peel back, our vulnerability is exposed. The light of the divine filters in, and we begin to see that perhaps we are asking for the wrong things. Gently, through relationship, God aligns our hearts with his purposes, and our prayers become echoes in the hallways of heaven.”

This

captures so well my own experience in prayer. In those times in which I have been in greatest anguish over some problem, I have come before the Lord in prayer knowing that he is aware of my distress. I don’t propose my solutions to the problem or ask God to grant my wishes. Rather, I just allow God to guide my thoughts and give me confidence in the steps that I must take to resolve the problem. Sometimes it just involves the “serenity to know the things I cannot change.”

images
I

believe that God takes his time at answering the knock at the door so that we can think over what we really want to ask of the Master when we come into his presence.

The

person sharing this reflection is a member of the Hosanna Prayer Group, which meets each Thursday at a few minutes after 7:30 PM in one of the classrooms, here at St. Edward the Confessor.

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Advent Reflection – December 13, 2012 by Charles Burre

Advent Reflection for December 13: A Threshing
by Charles Burre

ThreshingIsaiah 41:13-20; Psalm 145:1, 9-13; Matthew 11:11-15

I can relate to Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord would make His people a threshing sledge that would separate the wheat from the chaff. As I continue on my faith journey, many of my long-held opinions and beliefs have crumbled and been dispersed in the wind due to the witness of Christian people whose beliefs and actions are closer to the teaching of Jesus.

I grew up as a Protestant in the “red-state heartland.” I adhered to, and nurtured, a conservative-Republican philosophy up until the last ten or fifteen years. In my twenties I read all of William Buckley’s books as well as National Review every fortnight. What attracted me to these writers, in addition to their generally Republican-sounding views, was that they often brought faith and theology into the discussion. In matters of world affairs and wars, I always supported the actions of our nation.

In the last several years, I have found myself re-examining many of these viewpoints and listening more and more to the views of other leaders and writers, people whom I used to write-off as naive, “bleeding-hearts” or having self-centered political ambitions.

Perhaps the sharpest of the threshing sledges that has been pounding on me lately has been Chris Haw’s book From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart. While born a Catholic, Chris joined an Evangelical mega-church in his teen years, during which he found a faith-community that instilled in him the message of the gospel and caused him to become involved several social causes. However, he saw that many of his evangelical brethren did not always practice what Jesus preached particularly when it came to the matter of national revenge after 9/11. Chris has devoted his life and resources to improving the most neglected of neighborhoods in Camden, NJ. There he began worship in the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and came back to sacramental union with the Church. He has delved deeply into church history and theology throughout his life and ministries and has written one of the most cogent apologies for Roman Catholicism that I have ever read. I wondered how he had time to do this, but then I’m sure he didn’t let the worldly things that have occupied so much space in my life do so in his.

Earlier this year I received another threshing as I listened to A Good Man, the biography of Sargent Shriver by his son Mark. Mark tells the story of the faith of his father, which motivated him to accomplish so much for the underprivileged in the world: e. g., the Peace Corps and the many civil right causes which he championed . I thought to myself: years ago I would have said; “These are just a bunch of Kennedys trying to gather a few more votes.” Having listened to this book, however, I have come to realize that people like Shriver are truly trying to live as Jesus taught.

I don’t mean to espouse one political philosophy or one faith over another here. There are certainly many sincere people across the spectrum working for the good of all or for what they believe to be God’s will. What I think is important is for us to critically evaluate our beliefs, actions, and their consequences against what Jesus taught. We need to be willing to listen to rebels like John the Baptist and “hear with our ears.”

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