The three gifts of Holy Thursday

This morning, at the celebration of Lauds for Holy Thursday, the pastor here at Saint Anne’s in San Francisco shared in his reflection of the three gifts of Holy Thursday. These three gifts are: The Priesthood, The Eucharist, and The Great Commandment of “Love.” All of these gifts are given to us tonight as we commemorate the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper. At tonight’s Mass we will see these three gifts unfold in very symbolic ways all interweaving in one another.

Tonight, the Lord Jesus eats with his disciples the annual passover meal. This symbolizes the Jews freedom from slavery and bondage and brought into the “promised land” by Moses. Jesus becomes the sacrificial Lamb tonight to free us from our own slavery and bondage with the blood of the Cross. Tonight Jesus gives himself to us through his Body and Blood in the form of Bread and Wine. The ultimate sacrifice, the commandment of Love to give oneself freely out of love for another.

Then as the master, Jesus becomes the servant by washing the feet of his beloved disciples. This is the gift of the priesthood. Where a man comes “to serve and not to be served.” Jesus the priest sets the example for Priests and all people to be servants to one another. The gift of the priesthood is, yes, becoming a servant, but by the power of the Holy Spirit at ordination, a man become “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ. He becomes Christ and does as Jesus does. The priest gives us each day Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is the commandment of love, the ultimate sacrifice, becoming a servant to another.

Jesus then tells us, “to love one another, as He loved us.” How are we to fulfill this commandment? We do this by becoming like Christ and imitating him. We become servants by washing each other’s feet and continue the mission which Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. At the end of tonight’s Mass, the Eucharist will be reposed to a side altar for adoration and prayer. Spend some time with Jesus. Pray to become a servant. Pray to become the gift of love. And, pray for your Priests that they too may be like Christ, the servant, the priest. Happy Holy Thursday!

This Easter, Catholics Come Home!

It’s kind of hard to believe that we are already in the fifth week of Lent. Just two more weeks to go until the great and solemn feast of Easter begins. As the “high holy days” approach this coming Sunday with Passion Palm Sunday leading up to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil we as the Church and as an individual walk with our Lord on his journey to Calvary. We all share in his bitter passion and even more in his glorious resurrection. Through His death, we have life. As we have journeyed through the desert these last 40 days we have focused on our relationship with Jesus deeply through our prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. We have also journeyed with our Brothers and Sisters who are preparing to profess our faith and begin living new lives as members of Christ’s holy and apostolic Church.

However, this is also a great time to walk with our brothers and sister who are no longer practicing the faith or who may have left the Church for whatever reason. Some may have been hurt, and rightly so, it’s ok for them to be angry with the Church. In these cases, all we can say is “I’m sorry.” Others may have just fallen out of the routine of going to Mass on Sundays. Well, it is our duty to follow through with the mission given to us from Christ to be his disciples and spread his gospel to “the ends of the world.” Why don’t we start with people we know and invite them back to Church. Statistics show that 1 of 4 Catholics attend Mass faithfully on Sunday. Personally, I find that a little alarming! So, in these final days of Lent, let’s go out there and simply invite someone back to Church this Easter and show them the joy in the risen Christ through the Catholic community. This Easter, Catholics Come Home!

Below is a brief video welcoming Catholics home. More information can be found at 

“Pardon the dust, we are under construction.”

Signed by Ashes

“Pardon the dust, we are under construction.” Today, we are told that over a billion people will receive ashes on their heads as a start to the lenten season. “Pardon the dust, we are under construction,” was a line that was woven into our penance service last night by one of the priest faculty members here at the seminary. He said that we can look at the Season of Lent as a construction site. While a building is being built, dust is always around. But, the building still gets built and eventually the dust will be removed and cleaned up. Lent is a time for on going construction of our lives. We are dusty and dirty but still have hope that our buildings (bodies and souls) will be constructed and cleaned for the glory of God.   Today the Bishop emeritus of Santa Rosa, CA led our annual day of recollection. The ashes we are signed with today have several purposes.

First they are a sign of our mortality. We are “from dust and to dust we shall return.” All things on earth are temporary, even our lives. For truly all of us yearn and strive our best for that perfect communion with our Creator. Let us not be attached to the things of this world for that is all dust. Rather, let us attach to the things of the world to come.

Secondly, these ashes is a sign of repentance. In the early days of the church and even in scripture it says that those who have offended God are to wear “sackcloth and ashes” and beg for mercy. Today we do just that. In the first reading of the Mass of Ash Wednesday, we are told from the Prophet Joel, “…return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God.” – Joel 2:12. No one is perfect and these ashes is a sign to admit our failings and with complete trust in God try our best to make amends for our sins and avoid any occasion of sin.  We do this by fasting, prayer, and charity.

Thirdly and finally, we are told in the second reading today from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians that “We are ambassadors for Christ” 2 Cor 5:20. The Bishop took light of this. During lent, yes, we walk in the desert with Christ. We make penance, fast, and take part in his death and resurrection. The Bishop suggested that while we do this, it is important to look at those who are crucified in our own world today in 2012. They are our brothers and sisters too. They too, have “dust and is under construction.” We need to walk with them just as we walk with Christ. To see Christ in the unwed mother, the alcoholic, those in abusive relationships, drug addict, homeless children, the hungry, the poor, the immigrant and so much more may be hard to see and even fathom, but, they are being crucified and we must help them carry their crosses.

May these ashes we wear today be a sign to the world that we are not perfect but we are trying. May it be a sign of hope for a hopeless world as we see the suffering Christ in all. May this season of dust construct our lives into a new building this Easter. Happy Lent 2012!

Lent is upon us…

Lent, a Liturgical Season of the Roman Catholic Church 40 days before the great Feast of Easter. Lent begins this coming Wednesday February 22 with the celebration of Ash Wednesday and ends at the Easter Triduum on Holy Thursday on April 5. This 40 days, 7 weeks is a time when the Church walks with Christ in the desert. 40 is a very important number in scripture. These 40 days is a time of purification and realization for the self and the Church at large. Christ was tempted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights after his baptism in the Jordan, where it was revealed that he was the “Son of God.” Jesus went into the desert  to know his mission on earth. These 40 days lead us to the Passion and Death of Jesus and then to the Glorious Triumphant Resurrection from the dead, saving all of us.

Lent is a time for a person to do just that. To rekindle his/her relationship with God and Jesus and the Church. It is a time to ask God for forgiveness of ones sins and a time to do good for others. Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Many people decide to “give up” something for lent and in place to do something good for themselves or another. It’s good to make that sacrifice, but I think that if one does give something up that at the end it should make him/her a better person spiritually and even more important strengthen his/her relation with God. The act of giving something up in a sense is dying to oneself and rising to new life with Christ at Easter.

On Ash Wednesday when being signed with ashes on your fore head, you will hear the minister say “Remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Lent is that. We must remember that our life here on earth is for life in eternity. All is temporary (dust to dust) and by following Christ and his Gospel on earth, we hope to obtain the eternal reward of heaven with Jesus the risen Lord. Happy Lent 2012!