Category Archives: Reflections

Our life here on earth: an exile from our Heavenly Homeland?

ChristtheManofSorrows

Christ the Man of Sorrows”  Colijn de Coter, 1500

Many believe that our life here on earth is an exile from our Heavenly Homeland and since sin entered the world we have been deprived of our heavenly inheritance.

The thread that I see throughout our readings today is the love and mercy of God and our response to this love and mercy by Faith.

(Continued in Homilies…)

Dc. Steve Manzene is the Permanent Deacon at the linked Churches of St. Joseph the Worker/ Immaculate Heart of Mary, Liverpool, N.Y., Diocese of Syracuse.

The Best Lenten Season Ever!

THE SECRET TO A GREAT LENT

When a helping hand is “giving alms” – a selfless gesture of true generosity.

How Can I Make My Lenten Resolutions Truly Meaningful?

On our Lenten Journey we are called to fast, pray and give alms in preparation for Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Fasting, praying and almsgiving… we know what they mean, or do we? This Lent, I’ve challenged myself to move beyond conventional thinking about the Lenten season and consider the “secret” of having the best Lenten season ever. It’s something that is before each of us all the time, yet it’s incredibly easy to loose sight of.

The Forgotten Partner

Fr. Anthony Giambrone feels that almsgiving is the forgotten partner in our Lenten resolutions. He writes that “Works of mercy hold the key, for they animate our acts with love.” He concludes by saying that “Charity is the supernatural secret of this season.” But where do we find this CHARITY? And how do we make ACTS OF MERCY bring our love into our actions for others?

The Secret is Generosity

St. Gregory of Nazianzen writes: “Resolve to imitate God’s generosity, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity?”

Photo Credit:  Colleen McNerney

The secret then, is GENEROSITY in giving of ourselves, just as God has given everything to us. Far more than our monetary resources, true generosity demands the love and mercy of the Father, who showed his generosity in the gift of Christ Jesus… incarnate. One who knows us, loves us and sacrificed himself for us. Can we truly be any less generous?

(Deacon Tim McNerney, at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.)

“lead us not into temptation”

The Our Father & Pope Francis’ Suggested Change

When I read about the Pope’s suggested change from: “lead us not intoThe_Temptation_of_Christ_by_the_Devil_-_Google_Art_Project temptation” to “God help us not to fall into temptation,” made sense to me and I even began to incorporate this change when I prayed the Our Father.

Last week in preparing for my Homily for the first Sunday of Lent specifically Mark’s gospel regarding The Temptation of Jesus I found a few reasons why it should remain in its original content. They are:

  • The Jewish thought at the time of Jesus was that whenever a person received in honor, testing or temptation followed. In understanding the first verse of Mark’s gospel we had to look back to Jesus’ Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and a voice from the cloud said: “this is my beloved Son in whom I am very well pleased.” This certainly was an honor and according to Jewish thought temptation would follow.

  • In our baptism we also received a great honor: in our baptism we died with Christ so that we can also live with Christ forever and eternal life. I looked upon this as an honor and keeping with the Jewish thought temptation would follow.

  • Jesus overcame the temptations because God was present with him in his humanity with the angels ministering to him. In our temptation God is with us too. Remember, Jesus’ great temptation when he asked the Father if this cup could pass from him but not his will but God’s will be done. What happened? God sent an angel to strengthen Him.

As I looked at the results that happen to us when we are tempted and that they were positive and strengthened our relationship with God, temptation made sense to me.

  • Temptation helps us to detach ourselves from the things of this earth and focus on God.

  • Temptation helps us to develop a more ardent desire to be with God in heaven.

  • When we are tempted we become disturbed by temptation and see the danger of committing sin which disappoints God and overcoming temptation shows our love for God.

  • It renews our determination to avoid sin and not to offend God.

St. Augustine says:

“Our pilgrimage cannot be exempt from trial we progress by means of trial no one knows themselves except through trial or receives a crown except after victory or strives against an enemy temptations.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in Christ we overcame the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in Christ, and see yourself as victorious in Christ. He could have kept the devil from Himself but if Jesus was not tempted he could not teach us how to triumph over temptation.”

In our Baptism we received the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation and the graces we need for eternal life.

God has given us the gifts and graces we need, now it’s up to us to use them.

God Bless – Deacon Steve

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Our Civil Religion Tradition

The Bridges column of the July 2017 Sojourners magazine gave me pause to think more deeply about how we, as Americans, expect and embrace leaders in our nation who “draw freely from religious language to sacralize national symbols.” On this Independence Weekend my attention was drawn to what is for me, the single most inspiring example of civil religion. It occurred during a time of great peril that threatened our civil society… an event marked by unprecedented carnage and what appeared to be in irreparable division in our nation — the Civil War.

Gettysburg_AddressThe short speech that President Abraham Lincoln delivered on that battlefield of enormous human loss remains, in my mind, the peak expression of civil religious tradition against which all other forms of the tradition must be measured. The words “consecrate”, “hallow”, “devotion”, and “resting place” evoke a firm faith, an unwavering trust, and a God-given resolve to persevere in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. And while he only mentions “God” a single time, in the manner of the great documents created by the founding fathers, Lincoln’s reflection is thoroughly infused with the language of civil religion.

At a time in our country when too many leaders invoke the “religion card” in an effort to claim popular support or to criticize the faith of those not of the Christian tradition, President Lincoln’s address stands as a true measure of a civil religious tradition that “creates what Justice Felix Frankfurter referred to as “cohesive sentiment”. On this Independence Day 2017, let us strive to work toward a tradition that enables us to be in harmony with others in all that we say and do.

Bridges, Author Eboo Patel – Sojourners Magazine, July 2017 https://sojo.net/magazine/july-2017/can-civil-religion-save-us

 

4 Spiritual benefits…

A post on aleteia really made me pause to think about our relationship to the natural world. The article 4 Spiritual benefits of modern homesteading hit close to home. Here in verdantour rural area of upstate New York, nature in all its wonder is right outside our door: lush green fields, flowing streams, verdant hills, views uninterrupted by city buildings, highways… the stuff of man’s creation.

The author, Philip Kosloski, cited four benefits to modern homesteading:

  • Fulfills God’s call to be a steward of the earth
  • Provides more time for silence and contemplation
  • Creates a renewed sense of gratitude
  • Fosters a healthy attitude of humility

After prefacing his thoughts with an apt quote from Pope Francis’ Laudato si, he briefly

deaconspeaking

Chicken coop and bee hives

explains each spiritual benefit, weaving in both Hebrew Scripture references and his thoughts about our closeness to God when we “cultivate” a close and personal relationship with his natural creation… a creation that provides an abundance for our needs, if only we are attentive to it.

When was the last time you planted and tended a flower or a vegetable plant? Have you ever thought about having chickens or bees for your own natural or organic food? Is it even possible where you live? If not, do you support others who are, through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or even a farmers’ market?

Good questions for any of us… especially as we consider the goodness of our God in His great love for us!

Saints

In the “Moment”

Mark_MomentOur rollout of the @deaconspeaking Twitter Team account in the diocese has been proceeding smoothly. We have received good recognition: retweets, likes and profile visits by many Twitter users.  Each day we explore new features:  Lists, Hastags, Tweet Requotes.

One of the best features has been the Twitter Moments… an opportunity to combine related tweets into a single tweet that pulls a strand of thoughts together. Two in particular, “Celebrating St. Mark” and “Trust in God” have enabled many more users to interact with our evangelization message.

Why? For one, the “Moments” package can be visually compelling, as with this painting of the Apostle Mark that was an element of a requoted tweet. Most of all, by combining two our three related tweets together, we have the opportunity to present a message that really communicates a point. And that’s often a challenge to accomplish in 140 characters!

Check them out for yourself and let us know what you think!

Celebrating St. Mark:  https://t.co/iOZ4vI0HYX

Trust in God:  https://t.co/WtMf4QqoBc