Tag Archives: Eucharist

Brokenhearted Community – by Doreen Salse

b238fce2288134abbf171e687597fbdfWow. We have had a bumper crop of excellent reflections on the Parish Blog this Lent haven’t we? I’ve been inspired by much of what I have read and am grateful to those who have shared their thoughts and insights.

I’d been thinking about focusing my reflection on the sadness in today’s Psalm: (34)

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him”

It was a natural place for me to go. After all, life is hard, right?

On Tuesday, like I do most mornings, I reached for my phone on my bedside table to read the Lenten reflections of the day on the parish blog. It was Charles Burre talking right at me about Psalm 20 about how weeping Continue reading

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Filed under Lent, Lent 2015

Thanksgiving and εὐχαριστία

images-1As a Roman Catholic, I am ever reminded that when we come to the table for Eucaristia, which means thanksgiving. It is about what we give – and not what we get. Sacramentally speaking, we don’t “get” or “receive” communion, we enter into it offering our gifts, turning ourselves over to God. That’s the idea anyway, I’m not always so good at that part. Withholding comes a little bit too naturally to me, but I’m trying.

Today I am thinking about how gratitude is always an exercised choice. Often best made, when you are simply going through the motions. After doing so, many years ago, I found myself surprised as I realized that I was truly are grateful.

As you know if you have attended our Thanksgiving mass, we typically get a prayer to use at our table. Today we received a copy of this prayer. Fr. Pat asked us to reflect with it today, and as the week goes on. Written by Howard Thurman in 1959, these words are a gift at any time of year. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I wish you peace.

A Litany of Thanksgiving
by Howard Thurman

Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.

I begin with the simple things of my days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.

For these, I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that I have known:
My mother’s arms,
The strength of my father,
The playmates of my childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to me from the lives of many who talked of days gone by when fairies and giants and all kinds of magic held sway;
The tears I have shed, the tears I have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the eye with its reminder that life is good.

For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I finger one by one the messages of hope that awaited me at the crossroads:
The smile of approval from those who held in their hands the reins of my security;
The tightening of the grip in a single handshake when I feared the step before me in the darkness;
The whisper in my heart when the temptation was fiercest and the claims of appetite were not to be denied;
The crucial word said, the simple sentence from an open page when my decision hung in the balance.

For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I pass before me the mainsprings of my heritage:
The fruits of the labors of countless generations who lived before me, without whom my own life would have no meaning;
The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;
The prophets who sensed a truth greater than the mind could grasp and whose words could only find fulfillment in the years which they would never see;
The workers whose sweat has watered the trees, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;
The pilgrims who set their sails for lands beyond all horizons, whose courage made paths into new worlds and far-off places;
The saviors whose blood was shed with a recklessness that only a dream could inspire and God could command.

For all this I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I linger over the meaning of my own life and the commitment to which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind:
The little purposes in which I have shared with my loves, my desires, my gifts;
The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence that I have never done my best, I have never reached for the highest;
The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the children of God as the waters cover the sea.

All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,
I make as my sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee,
Our Father, in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

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Reflection on the Eucharist – by Don Wilson

prison1Reflection on the Eucharist – looking for that safe place? – A Reflection for REC by Don Wilson

When in doubt, You are there in Your word
When in fear, You are there in Your strength
When abandoned, You are there as love
When tempted to the darkness of despair, You are there as light
When in confusion, You are there as peace
When nothing else makes sense, You are there to show the way.

For what it was worth, I knew in my heart that I always wanted to follow the Lord. Being baptized and raised in the Dutch Reformed church, I learned many of the Christian Protestant celebrations, (Christmas and Easter etc.) but was never able to grasp the true essence of the Eucharist as expressed in liturgy, and the additional spirituality of events like Advent and Lent. These are soon followed by Christ’s Ascension, and then perhaps the greatest celebration of all… Pentecost.

When I was in college, not practicing Catholicism and studying other religions, I was introduced to the Catholic Church by a very special person and discovered that all those other religions came up short when I compared them to Catholicism. Yet, I remained too presumptuous, perhaps too oblivious, to even think about what I was missing by not participating in the life of the Catholic Church. At times it was in the back of my mind as something that would be nice to do, but I did not make a serious effort to do it. In retrospect I suppose it could all be chalked up to my immaturity
Like many other souls, I finally had a conversion experience, when I concluded my time in RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. This is how one is brought into the Church. I may not have realized exactly what was happening at the time, but looking back at where I was in raising my family, and working in a very high-pressure industry, the memory that is strongest is getting up to go to Communion. I later described it as the moment Jesus grabbed hold of my heart, when I received Him in the Eucharist. Although I had not yet been to Confession and therefore should not have received Communion (unaware as I was), God in His love and mercy still used that moment. It was a point of departure to a new direction, where I would begin to pursue the love that He held out to me.

It took a little while to get there, but He kept calling my family and me, and we finally started going to church on a regular basis. Besides the obvious benefits of participating in the Mass, two other wonderful things happened: My love of history and of the Church was renewed, and my desire to learn more increased. Secondly, I was blessed to be a part of a community that really embraced their faith – and actually wanted to serve the Lord by serving each other. Sunday Mass was never really routine and was no longer something I even had an option about; it became a given. I wanted to be there to worship God in thanksgiving for the most beautiful gift of His son by receiving the gift of faith. My wife’s involvement in the faith has diminished over the years. She was raised Catholic, attending Catholic school and college; for whatever reason, she has not found what I have found in the Church.

Then came the day when my parish offered the opportunity to serve in the REC (Prison) Ministry. At first I was a bit apprehensive, but after having conferred with someone who has been at the heart of this ministry, John Koubek, I decided to take the leap of faith and prepare myself for my first REC Retreat. – And as many of you here tonight can attest, I’ve never looked back!

In this ministry I have found a relationship with all of you Jesus that I have not found anywhere else. Now, how do I express this devotion that He has inflamed in me and to which I believe He is truly calling?
As part of my vocation, I began attending REC Bible Study, here at Coxsackie and daily Mass as often as I could, and I learned from my Pastor to take better advantage of the time after receiving Jesus in communion, a most intimate time of prayer.

While I’m still far from pure of heart and single-minded in my devotion, having Christ in the Eucharist as the center of my life is my goal and a calling, and I can see more and more how that plays out in my own difficulties and growth. In the Eucharist, Jesus has become the point of reference for my faith, for “He is my rock, my fortress, my stronghold, my savior, my shield, my place of refuge” (Psalm 18:2). When I am tempted with doubts and despair, the Eucharist is my source of reasoning that leads me back to faith. When I have doubted the existence of God, I could never doubt His existence in Jesus, because I have experienced this existence in the Eucharist. I have found release, acceptance, comfort, the healing of hurts, forgiveness, and perhaps most importantly, strength in my brokenness. I felt time disappear. I have felt His presence. And when I don’t “feel” anything, I recall the life events that He planted in my memory and this recollection feeds my faith.

When I have doubted whether Christ really meant to establish such a huge institution as the Church structure is today, I remember that He is present in the Eucharist because of the church He established When I hear others complain against the authority of the Church, sometimes causing further doubt in myself, I realize that Christ gave that authority to His Church and the Church has lovingly used this authority to make Christ present in our midst, following His command to “do this in memory of me.”

When I have found it difficult in my self-centeredness to be thankful to God, I can usually feel humility welling up inside of me when I remember the gift of Christ’s sacrifice He gave and is continually giving to me. So the Eucharist has become my wellspring of gratitude. When I’m tempted to judge others and I find love difficult, I remember Jesus in the Eucharist and I ask myself, “Who am I that my Lord should come to me?” And if I let it, my heart becomes a little softer and gentler and expands with the mercy He places there.

Sometimes I find myself in despair over the suffering in this world. It does make me wonder how Christ could choose to be present in it the way He is How He could choose to be present in a Church whose members, like me, sometimes do ungodly things? Then I remember how He chose to become incarnate (invested in bodily nature or human form) in our broken world in the first place. How in human flesh He delivered Himself into the hands of sinful men, and He still does so. I think of how He was treated when He walked the earth, and how He still loved us and promised to remain with us always, “even until the end of time”…. and so He has remained in the Eucharist. Because His divine love is greater and stronger than any suffering, He inspires the certain hope that there is meaning in all of this and that it will lead us to joy on the other side.

And finally, If I may, let me close with this thought: “While Christ is present to us in many different ways, His presence in the Eucharist is unique and is unmatched this side of heaven. As we all celebrate Mass this weekend let us search to find the comfort, acceptance, nourishment and, again, strength in our brokenness. And always know that we are in a safe place and never alone.”

God Bless!!

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Vulgarem panem, sacri panis – ordinary bread, sacred bread

1147637_Plate_with_lace_border_25_cm_5110bd238b2abOh, those special, special dishes, the fine china. You know, the kind that only comes out on special occasions, right? If you happen to own some Royal Copenhagen china, you know about the special. You see, this Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica is the world’s most expensive china, with one place setting costing almost $7000! If I had that china, I would be afraid to touch it, let alone use it!

I had the privilege of meeting Greg Boyle in LA, October 2010.

I had the privilege of meeting Greg Boyle in LA, October 2010.

Recently I heard Gregory Boyle SJ, a Jesuit priest renown for his work with gang members in Los Angeles at Homeboy Industries; he was being interviewed by Krista Tippett for her radio program, On Being. (Here is a link to the page for that program and the podcast.) Fr. Greg was talking about some of his “homies,” as he calls them, having a meal together. Seven former gang rivals, sitting around a one kitchen, watching a turkey cook on Christmas (yes, I know – wrong holiday!), that they could share. And you can be assured that there was no Flora Danica in that household! Who knows, they might have eaten off of mismatched cheap dishes, or even paper plates. Yet, the meal they shared was very sacred.

the-last-supper-master-of-portilloThis absurd pairing of opposites such as $7000 Continue reading

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Palm Sunday 2013 at St. Edward the Confessor, Clifton Park

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We had a spectacular Palm Sunday at St. Edward the Confessor. It was so crowded at the 11am mass, all I could think of was the people lining the way as Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem. We were full and many people were standing, all around the perimeter of the church, even in the gathering space, and in the corridor that is near the sacristy, as you head over to the Faith Formation wing.

People say that the Catholic church is dying, but you would not know that if you came to our parish!

I was also at the 4pm mass on Saturday, which was comfortably full. On Saturday we had a full choir and bell ringers; it was beautiful. We had lovely music at 11am also; we are richly blessed with remarkable music ministry in our parish.

Here is a slide show of photos from the mass; there are a lot of pictures, so it will take a few moments for them to all float by.

Hosanna!

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