Happy new year! We just celebrated some awesome days in the Church: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), New Year’s Day/Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Listen to Fr. DiTomo’s homily for the Feast of the Epiphany by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/zuu9tro. Become a follower on Sound Cloud!
It’s officially Ordinary Time, but there is nothing ordinary about it! This is the time of regular watering of our faith as we journey toward Lent and the Resurrection.
Our Faith Formation students have been asked to decide on their faith projects, keep coming to classes, complete their lessons, serve at the Family Mass and Dinner, challenged to pray every day during Advent and now look for the ‘sign’ or ‘Epiphany’ in their lives like the star that the Magi followed to find Jesus. Opening the Word has been about the gifts we bring to Jesus and offer the Church community as well as the ‘ordinary’ gifts we bring to the altar during Mass. I used my Morning Prayer to discuss what my ‘offerings’ are every day regardless of the season. I had a gift bag with ‘signs and sayings’ as props.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and especially those of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
Donna’s Morning Prayer
(adapted from the Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer)
We talked about what we can offer Jesus as a gift even if we don’t have gold (king), frankincense (God) or myrrh (man). We offer our big and little prayers, works, joys and even our sufferings and tears to Jesus. Just like the bread and wine we bring to the altar during Mass, Jesus takes them and transforms them into something good, better, beautiful and extraordinary. We ask the Holy Spirit to transform US. I ask that you remind your children that we come bearing gifts following the Light of the World who came to save us. We find him in the Mass!
We talked about the difference between the baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. How we may have gone swimming and tried to see how long we could hold our breath. The people who came to John the Baptist to be baptized were only baptized with water. They went under and came back up breathing in new life. They made confessions of their sins and shortcomings and committed to do better and be better.
John the Baptist warned them that someone was coming ‘greater than I’. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. There was a sign of the dove who descended upon Jesus and the words of God, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And this is echoed during the Transfiguration when God adds, “Listen to Him.”
During the past season and through these Feasts and Solemnities, we ‘see’ there were many signs: Angels, dreams, stars, and then the dove. How does God appear or reveal (epiphany) Himself in our lives? It’s a great discussion and can change the way you see others and the world.
Every week during Opening the Word in Church at the beginning of class they are asked to practice the 4-step prayer. (Say hi, talk about your day, ask for help and say thank you!) Ask them if they remember it! Prayer is a conversation. A student asked why we would tell Jesus about our day or week if he already knows. I said that we often talk to our friends about something that we were both at. Our friends already know what we did and what happened but we talk about it anyway. Reminisce about the meaningful parts, laugh at the silly parts and tear up at the sad ones. Jesus wants us to talk with him and help us carry our burdens. That’s what friends are for. That’s what a Savior is for. Jesus said he would make our burdens light!
Many blessings in the new year, Donna
A priest who makes his own light saber? You betcha. And soon he will be a bishop!
Deep in the heart of Texas, a campus chaplain is busy making his final spiritual and practical preparations for becoming a bishop. However, unlike many of his soon-to-be brother-bishops, Fr. David Konderla is carving his very own staff – or crosier – to signify his new position and duty as a teacher and head of a diocese.
“Every Jedi has not completed his training until he’s made his own light saber that he uses to fight evil with – so this is my light saber,” Bishop-elect David Konderla told CNA in an interview.
You probably never thought of a priest or a bishop as a Jedi. And you probably never thought that they would need a light saber although they do fight evil. For Fr. Konderla it’s a symbol of his role as a bishop. How does he make a crosier? What does it stand for?
A crosier is a hooked staff – based on the shape of a shepherd’s staff – carried by bishops in the Catholic Church to symbolize their pastoral function in the Church. Other important symbols of a bishop’s position are the pectoral cross worn on a bishop’s chest, the mitre- or hat, and the episcopal ring.
Fr. Konderla saved wood from trees that were taken down to build a parish center. “I was able to incorporate some of that wood into this crosier so it will have that special meaning.”
The crosier has a bottom section that is detachable so that you can travel with it. The hook is a little trickier to make. Fr. Konderla takes thinly-sliced strips of wood that are softened with steam from a kettle on his stovetop. After they soften, he quickly bends them around a form and lets them cool. Then they can be glued together to form an “ugly” square piece of wood that is whittled and smoothed until it takes the form of a hook. He will use different woods in the same process to make three rings of wood that he sees as “representing the trinity.” Then the staff will be stained and polished.
Fr. Konderla and his brother, a jeweler, are working together to design and make a ring based on St. Pope John Paul II’s fisherman’s ring. The ring includes gold from their mother’s wedding ring and incorporates his devotions to the Sacred Heart, Divine Mercy and Mary.
Fr. Konderla said that this project of creating the crosier and ring are reflecting the beauty that God creates in the world. “Art is expressive of the divine,” and woodwork in particular is an art form that must respect God’s own beautiful creations, he said. He will be setting up his workshop in his new garage as a bishop!
Everything in our Church has meaning from the stained glass to the vestments that the Priest wears. Our homes say a lot about us from the colors we like to the style of furniture. We wear different styles of clothing or jewelry. Do you have your Grandmother’s favorite teapot? Maybe something that belonged to your great-grandparents? As Christians, we all choose how we show our faith. I wear a cross and a few Saint medals. I have crosses in my home and religious pictures among the many of family or art that I have created. I also have treasures that have been handed down in my family. All of those are carried with me like the bishop’s crosier. They ‘shepherd’ and guide me through life just like the shepherd’s staff. Our challenge is to be good shepherds to those around us.
Here are some staffs from our popes:
Pope Francis looks pretty serious here as he listens intently. He has asked us to show mercy to each other, especially our families and listen to the poor. He wants us to make a difference in the world around us!
Pope Benedict XVI is smiling!
The dove of peace I hold in my hands…
We hold our faith like that little bird, like a baby swaddled, tender and mild.
He holds us in his hands
We hold others in our hands