The family that prays together...
                                                  ...stays together.

The Virgin Mary
Today's Readings
Pope Francis

A Bridge Over Troubled Water

A voice of a Deacon.  

Homily for Pentecost (and every day.)

           Today we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s official entry onto earth and it’s interaction with humanity—specifically the chosen Apostles.  Although the Holy Spirit has been here since the creation of the world, it did not have a known public presence until this point in time.  Jesus’ gift to all came when the fiery tongues appeared over the heads of the gathered group in the locked upper room in Jerusalem.      

            Remembering back to when I wore child’s clothing, I can hear my mother talking to me and trying to explain the Holy Ghost.  A fare amount of you here today probably remember the Holy Ghost; the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  

            I built a picture in my mind of the Holy Ghost—he was like Casper the friendly ghost, except he wasn’t made from a white sheet like Casper.  No sir, I made his form from a light blue sheet, like the color of the sky on a clear day ‘cause the sky is where heaven is!  Not bad logic for a six or seven year old.

            The Holy Ghost!  Then, as I journeyed through various ages on my way to adulthood, somewhere along the line the Holy Ghost morphed into the Holy Spirit.  Today we talk about the Holy Spirit. 

            Lately I have wondered how we came up with that descriptor? You won’t find Holy Spirit in scripture; you also won’t find Holy Ghost.  What can be found is, ‘the Father will send you another’; and you’ll find the Spirit; or the Spirit of God; Spirit of Jesus; the Spirit of Truth; the advocate; the Paraclete.   All of these terms describing the third named of the holy Trinity.  The Christian Triune God with three distinct persona—all of the same substance, consubstantial—coming together in one divine entity we humans call God, or Yahweh, or Allah, or the Creator, the Supreme Being and on and on.  It seems confusing, and that may be one of the factors influencing our current LOSS of real contact with the Holy Spirit.

            How many times do we pray to the Holy Spirit?  We pray to Jesus, we pray to the Father, and in one prayer, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…” one prayer, we do pray to the Holy Spirit.  That entity seems to be like the person people forget or ignore when they gather in a group situation.  We have lost our vision of the Holy Spirit and its very great importance in our lives.  It is an equal part of our Triune God.

            Jesus had reached a time of departure; his human form had passed while on the cross, it died there.  His spiritual form, which his followers had trouble recognizing, was about to return to the Father.  The Father’s gift to his Apostles and followers was the Holy Spirit of the Triune God, living in them, guiding them, strengthening them, helping them focus on Gods work in this life.

            That gift has been passed down to all of us.  Initially thru our baptism the Holy Spirit took up residence in our soul.  Confirmation strengthened its power to help guide us on a path that leads us through Jesus to the Father.

            The Holy Spirit is indeed our ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ as Paul Simon wrote almost fifty years ago.  After the fall from grace, humanity became incapable of fully coming into communion with our maker by our own efforts.  Without that bridge we would simply be standing on the edge of an embankment looking across a vast body of water, or ground, or whatever—unable to get to the mountain on the other side.

             Too often we view Pentecost Sunday as an anniversary celebration for an event that happened 2000 years ago to a small group of guys and a few women.  It should be celebrated as revitalization for the Spirit that we all have living within each and every one us.

            By following the spirit’s guidance in our daily lives we put ourselves in communion with our Lord—and as importantly, we’ll find ourselves helping others on their journey.  When we do that, it becomes apparent that we help ourselves more than if we concentrated all our efforts just on our own justification.  That’s the way that the Spirit works.

            As Paul Simon wrote in that song some time ago, I quote;

“When you’re weary, feeling small,

When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.

            I’m on your side. When times get rough

And friends just can’t be found,

            Like a bridge over troubled water

                        I will lay me down.”

            The Lord’s Spirit is part of our persona.  Almost a hundred years ago a fellow who was a scientist, Jesuit Priest and theologian, said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”  Fr. Teilhard de Chardin was referring to our similarity to Jesus of Nazareth. 

This is a holiday weekend, so most of us will have an extra play day and an increased chance to relax.  With a sense of relaxation and peace in mind, let me offer up a suggestion.

            Sometime during the coming week we will find ourselves in front of a mirror, most of us in the mornings as we prepare ourselves for the day.  Take time to look deeply at the image in the mirror.  Hopefully the Spirit of our Lord, the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete, the Advocate, will jump out at us.

            If we’re not sure we see it clearly, then we might say something like this.  “Hey, I know your are in there oh Holy Spirit.  I know you are there!  Now, I need you to come out of there.  Come out here and be with me; offer me guidance today and I promise, I promise that I’ll follow the path you lead me on.  After all, you are my personal bridge over troubled water.”

 Deacon Bob

Prayer: Taming the Whirlwind

The Voice of a Deacon


It’s all around us. It comes at us from all sides and permeates all areas of our lives. It shakes us and buffets us and causes us great anxiety. It’s the thing we worry about the most and the thing that keeps us up at night. It affects all our relationships both positively and negatively. And it’s the thing that can keep us away from God, if we let it. 


It’s the whirlwind.


The whirlwind is our daily lives. It’s the stuff of our existence these days. It’s the meetings and reports, the emails and texts and phone calls and tweets and Facebook. It’s the kid’s homework and dry cleaning and figuring out what’s for dinner. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just is. We live within it and it lives within us. We need to live within it because that’s how our lives get done. But it is the immediate, the now. Oftentimes is what we reflexively do without much thought. But it’s not big-picture stuff. It’s not reflective or deep. For that we have to step out of the whirlwind for a time.



The whirlwind prepares us to meet God. It makes us ready to let go completely and reach out to God to save us. Elijah went and stood at the mouth of the cave. Peter stepped out of the boat.



Elijah is worried today. He has just run away to Mt. Horeb, escaping from the king who he thinks is trying to kill him. You see, Elijah has been saying some very politically incorrect things about the king lately, and the king has a way of killing off prophets who don’t please him. In fact, he has threatened to do just that to Elijah, so he has run off into the desert to hide. But he has forgotten to bring any food with him, so he lays down in the desert under a broom tree and asks God to let him die. Instead, God sends an angel to him with food and water. After eating and drinking, Elijah then has enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mt. Horeb. Once there, he hides in a cave. And worries.



He worries that the people won’t listen to him. He worries that he will be killed if he is found. He worries about having enough to eat and drink. He worries about what might be living in the back of the cave. But most of all, he worries about what God might ask him to do. As he cowers there, the word of God comes to him and tells him, “What are you doing here? Go outside and wait for me.”


Elijah goes out and waits, worrying about what God will send his way. Will it be an earthquake, shaking him from his safe perch and forcing him to go and shake up the kingdom some more? Will it be fire, a burning deep within him that cannot be contained, that consumes him and compels him to speak the word of God? Will it be a driving wind, blowing him around helplessly before it, forcing him to give up control of his life to the Lord? Elijah looks for the Lord in the whirlwind, but he’s not there. 



Then a tiny whispering sound is heard. It says, “Come Outside”.



Peter is worried today. For a while now he has been wondering just who this person Jesus is. He sees the miracles, hears the teachings, yet he just isn’t sure. Peter is worried about a lot of things. He has left behind his family and his business. How will they survive without him? People in Capernaum are laughing at him, running off after some teacher like a fool. Doesn’t he know he isn’t a child anymore? He has responsibilities. 



And Peter is unsure of himself. He always seems to be running off at the mouth, saying the wrong thing. Just the other day Jesus called him Satan, when all he was trying to do was show his concern for Jesus. He was so ashamed that he hung back in the crowd, embarrassed to even look Jesus in the eye.



It’s almost like this storm on the lake. Peter feels out of control. He feels buffeted by the winds and the waves of daily life that seem to be against him. But then the Word of God comes to him also, just like Elijah, and says to him, “Come”. Not what he wants to hear. Peter wants to cower in the safety of the boat, not venture out upon the very waters that threaten him. He worries that they will engulf him, and you know what, they do. He starts to sink. I guess that 1 percent caught up with him.


Then a tiny whispering sound is heard. “Don’t Worry.” And he is saved.


What do you do when you are worried? How do you handle the anxieties and uncertainties of the whirlwind? Do you run away and hide in your cave? Do you cower in your boat? Is everything blown out of proportion? Is everything an earthquake, or fire, or a driving wind to you? Where do you find peace?


We need to step out of the whirlwind in order to re-root ourselves in what is truly important. We need a firm foundation in the Lord in order to handle the whirlwind. And to do so we must find silence. Elijah found the Lord in the quiet. Jesus went off into the desert in solitude to pray. The apostles recognized Jesus as truly the Son of God only after he had quieted the storm.



Jesus can quiet the whirlwind.



But it’s we who have to get out of the boat. Jesus says “Come” and we have to step out in faith. The most effective way to quiet the whirlwind is through prayer. Many of us exercise regularly, or try to. We know that in order to be effective, we must exercise on a defined schedule at a specific time and place. And it requires self -discipline. It’s the same with prayer.


I think we tend to think of prayer as something we do, not something we experience. We talk too much when we pray, probably because we may be uncomfortable with it. Prayer is more a state of being than an action. And it requires silence.


How many of you have a place in your home where you pray? Maybe it’s in your bedroom or den, in your favorite chair. My prayer room is my den, with my comfy recliner, surrounded by pictures of my family and closest friends. I have a relic of St. Padre Pio that my father gave me. A bird feeder is right outside the window. I have found that the quietest time in our house is early in the morning, before the busyness of the day begins. And so years ago I started getting up about a half hour before anyone else, pour myself a cup of coffee, and retreat into my prayer den for a few minutes of quiet.


Sometimes I pray the liturgy of the hours, sometimes I say a rosary, and sometimes I just sit there and say “Good morning, Lord.” And then I just look at Him and He looks at me. For me, that’s enough of a daily grounding before I hit the whirlwind. Or it hits me.


The best part of regular prayer is you can’t do it wrong. You will look in many places for God. You will try to find him in the whirlwind. But the best place to find him is here, in your heart. If you start looking for Him within, soon you will recognize him more in your relationships, in your work, in your everyday life.


And that’s how you tame the whirlwind.


Deacon Tom -

Our Quest: Stay in the Moment Where God Lives

As we enter Holy Week, the liturgies draw us - as do the words, "HOLY WEEK" - into a very prayerful time, a time to look into our own prayer life. 

When we do so, I get a picture, "Remove your shoes from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." As we move further away from the outskirts of reality and deeper into the fire of God's reality we begin to realize that we still have some fairly deep attachments in the outskirts. 

It is sort of like a bright light suddenly shining into a dark room, but there is no chance to enjoy the light, because of the squalor of the room. This is the soul's experience as God's truth breaks into the moment of our prayer time with our Lord. The light reveals everything but the light itself.

As we start to face up to the fact of our moral nothingness without God, and devoutly say our confeteor, we begin to see and enjoy the light. Where is the light?  It is nowhere. Nowhere? The word is a strange fusion of "now" and "here."  

"Here, the intersection of the timeless moment" or "the still point of the turning world." T.S. Elliot

Nowhere is everywhere. It is the now and the here - the place God lives - holy ground - and opportunity for encounter.

Our quest is to stay in the moment where God lives. Our tendencies are to spend times in the past, the outskirts, wrestling with shame and guilt or visiting the future, anxiously battling with worries and anxieties. In both cases, we are cheating ourselves of the present moment where God lives. 

Everyday, but especially during the week we call "Holy," we could spend five or ten minutes with a special appointment with Jesus thanking him for his redeeming act in which all of us are encompassed in God's ever present embrace of love.

Father Joseph