Sunday, March 24, 2019
A few years back, a little change was introduced on Good Friday. The Cross is carried into church and everyone has the opportunity to reverence it. But first, the priest must remove his shoes. Remove his shoes.
As Moses approaches the burning bush, he hears a voice: Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is Holy Ground. God who would save them from slavery in Egypt is revealed in a burning bush. Now, God will save us from Sin and Death by the Mystery of the Cross. Holy Ground!
Twenty five years ago I was given a crucifix by my Pastor, Msgr. Paul Andrews. It says: “Why should you want anything else? I never did!” “This is where you learn everything!”
I recently finished a book by Kate Bowler – a professor at Duke University – “Everything Happens For a Reason & Other Lies I’ve Loved”
She has spent much time studying the “Prosperity Gospel.” Great spokespeople include Joel Osteen & Oprah Winfrey.
God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.
If you have positive thoughts, you will have positive circumstances
If you have negative thoughts, you will have negative circumstances
Prayer, then, is a way to get God to say yes to you. Follow the rules and God will reward you. “I am Blessed.”
For many years – Kate believed this. Then she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. What happened? She did not have enough faith? She did not believe? Did not pray the right prayers? She did something wrong – well no – sometimes, bad things happen.
Maybe my dad – who went to daily Mass – and was very sick at the end of his life – did not believe enough. Or my sister - who is now in cancer remission, and never misses Mass, somehow deserves what she is going through?
Nonsense, of course -
Having faith does not mean that bad things will not happen. Our bodies are delicate. Life is fragile. Things do happen.
As Kate explains it – a reminder that life is precious – a gift to be lived each moment!
I would say – it is the mystery of the cross. We all share in the cross. And, at the core of the mystery - where there is death, there can also be life!
You see - We are standing on Holy Ground – and by sharing in the Cross this Lent – by our sacrifices of Prayer, Fasting and Charity - we can transform our lives and the lives of others - Why should you want anything else, I never did? This is where you learn everything!
Friday, March 15, 2019
How does a worm get inside an apple? Dig’s it’s way in? No, the insect lays an egg on the apple blossom. Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats its way out. It begins on the inside.
Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Caesar” “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.” Left unattended it can destroy us – break homes – shatter hearts – ruin bodies – all because we have failed to recognize sin.
The First Sunday of Lent, we always hear about the temptations of Jesus in the desert. In some way, we also face the same temptations:
1) Temptation Not to Fast
We have all been there. I looked in the cupboard on Thursday and there they were potato chips. Didn’t we clean all the junk food out? Where did that come from? We may have given up alcohol, social media, our favorite food. But Lent is long, and maybe we are having a stressful day. Well, what’s the point, giving up such a small thing? It really doesn’t matter. Have just one – just an hour – just a day – just a week.
Why should we fight it?
It is important to fast – so we will not be slaves to our appetites – we must be able to control ourselves.
We also fast to remind ourselves who our real master is – and where real happiness lies! Jesus said – “One does not live on bread alone.” Like happiness my brothers dog Yogi got when he discovered a big bag of food and no one around. Best happiness is uniting ourselves with God!
2) Temptation Not to Pray
The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world – they are yours, just do not worship God. The devil does not have to go so far with us. Just show us our smartphone. Or maybe this project must be done, or this game must be played on Sunday morning. Or, there is a new series on Netflix that I must binge watch.
Jesus said: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” – not our curiosity, busyness or our laziness. Only way to serve – Life up our hearts and minds to God – pray!
3) Temptation Not to Give Alms - presume God will take care of everything
Devil takes Jesus up to the top of the Temple – throw yourself down – God will save you. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test!”
He refuses to fall into presumption. It’s like I sin and tell myself – I can go to confession. Of course, we can – but we take advantage of His mercy and use God.
We are also asked to do our part. God will do it, the government will do it, my parents will do it – what about me? Love in action means being of service to others, not being served. Remember Jesus at Last Supper – knelt and washed their feet. As I have done you also must do!
The real Temptation this Lent is to go through the motions. The word is near to us, waiting for us to reach out so that he can transform us! This is the time – do not wait!!!
Thank you Laura for including Father Connolly and I in Rich’s last days.
We always loved seeing Rich – Just a month ago he was sitting next to me at Parish Council – not knowing it was his last Council meeting.
Interesting phenomena on Ash Wednesday – local church was doing drive through ashes – imagine – not even time to get out of your car and say a prayer. Take and go, it costs you nothing.
Rich was the opposite – how can I give? Helping us figure out how to grow the parish at Parish Council. With us at Mass. Picture him at the Parish Picnics – at our God Squad Picnics – at the Knights of Columbus –
Despite all his challenges he could usually be found at St. Joseph’s Men’s group at 7am Saturday mornings. It was a comfort to see him. He had a powerful presence – a deep, faith filled man.
So, Laura let Father Connolly know Rich was back in the hospital – little did we know it was the last time. Father Connolly heard his last Confession, last Anointing.
On Sunday, he received his Last Communion – Viaticum – Food for the Journey.
I sat down with him – how are you doing Rich – he said how are you doing? How’s that foot? Wasn’t he something?
Told him I loved him – that he was a good, good man – and I thanked him for all he was and all he did.
He was surrounded by his family – his beautiful family – mom & dad and all the rest. Still joking with you – hey – guess what I’m giving up for Lent? Cancer! You should have done that last year! If only he could.
Pancreatic cancer in the news – Alex Trebek – my mother’s favorite show – recited statistics – 9% survival after 5 years. Pray end to cancer – maybe a young person here will find a cure?
Rich had long Lent – fought for 2 ½ years – he loved Laura and his girls, and he wanted to live with all his heart.
Monday came and the fight was over – now we stood at the foot of the cross – the cross he carried without ever a complaint - standing by his side until the end.
At the moment of Jesus death – centurion cried out – surely this was the son of God.
Rich’s mom took on the role of the centurion and reminded us – I am not saying this because I am his mother, but my son is a saint.
Isn’t that the purpose of life – not to have the most money, power or influence – but to become a saint?
Those who knew Rich could say – he had 1 foot here on earth – and the other foot in heaven. And what poured out from him always was love.
So that is my prayer today – that we might love as God has loved us – who gave his only Son for us.
That we might love as Rich taught us to love.
That God’s love might be poured into the hearts of Laura, Kyra, Kate, Julia and Jena and all the Scampoli’s – and fill your empty spaces with the deepest and most powerful love.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Rich - and Rich, until we meet again, have peace!
Thursday, March 7, 2019
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Rich Scampoli on Friday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. Rich is the President of our Parish Council. Please pray for Rich and his family, especially his 4 young children.