Results filtered by “Peace”

Sign of Peace

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A part of the Mass that may seem very casual and straightforward but is actually an invitation to an incredible moment of forgiveness and healing is the Sign of Peace which is not as easy as we might think. And if we think about it this action is a little odd, I mean we take a pause in the liturgy to give each other a handshake, or if you were me when I was younger a successful sign of peace was when I crushed my siblings hand hard enough they winced in pain.

The reality of what we are doing in this moment though is important and it stems from a passage in the Gospel of Matthew which says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

The Sign of Peace occurs right before we come forward to the altar and receive Communion. But we cannot receive Communion if we are at odds with someone in the community. You cannot be in Communion with someone you are fighting with, so at the Sign of Peace, before approaching the altar of Communion, we turn to our brother and sister and first make amends with them, we give them peace.

That is no light or easy moment, for two reasons. The first reason is we make peace with the ones we love the most, which can be the people we hurt the most, our own family. We turn to them and in our sign of peace, we are both apologizing for the hurt we have caused them and forgiving the hurt they have caused us. For a handshake, which is just the sign we use for the peace we give, is something you both give and receive. It is a beautiful moment of reconciling so that we may approach the altar without anger, hatred, or hurt in our heart for the person next to us.

The second reason the sign of peace is no light or easy moment is that you are not just giving and receiving peace with your loved ones. You are also giving and receiving peace from the larger community. The person who cut you off, the friend who betrayed you, the boss who yelled at you. At the sign of peace you are also reconciling yourself with those people, forgiving them and asking forgiveness if the roles are reversed, because if you do not, you cannot receive Holy Communion fully, because you cannot be in communion with people you have anger or hatred for.   

With this understanding, the sign of peace at Mass is not a light moment, in fact it is a solemn and grave one, but also a beautiful one. And I can think of no better way to prepare to receive Christ in the Eucharist, than offering each other the sign of peace. 

Contagious Charitable Service

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The morning of ordination to the diaconate I woke to my heart full of peaceful anticipation. As I buttoned the top button on my cleric shirt, my son Zak walked quietly into my room.  Zak asked with enthusiasm if he could put my collar on for me. Of course I agreed and he slipped in the collar, carefully centering it left and right.  Immediately after he was finished, he wrapped his arms around me tightly and gave me one of his best hugs and told me he loved me. After a moment, he stepped back a few steps to take a better look. Zak then burst out laughing in joyful excitement and when he was finished returned to hugging me.

I can remember back four years ago attending the ordination of the class of 2018 as an aspirant and feeling terrified of the thought of being one of the men ordained a deacon; proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, and baptizing. Yikes! As I attended the ordination of the class of 2020, but as a candidate this time, things were transforming inside me. Throughout formation, I had discovered how service done in charity resulted in God pouring affirmations of joy and peace into my heart.

Anyone who prays the Liturgy of the Hours is very familiar with Psalm 100 for Lauds on the Fridays of the first and third weeks of Psalter (Psalm 100:2); Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him with joyful song. The morning of ordination I discovered that charitable service is also contagious and that God used ordination to pour his joy and peace into my family too. May God make service contagious in our families, our parishes, our communities, and in our world so that people of all nations may sing to the Lord a joyful hymn. May God bless your Sunday!


Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  With this statement our forefathers declared the very purpose of government. This statement and the remainder of the Declaration of Independence would set in motion the great nation in which we live.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the signing of this document and the birth of our nation. There will be parades, fireworks, picnics, cookouts with families and friends celebrating together the birth of this great experiment. My memories of these events date back to the late 50’s and early 60’s. Yes, as my daughter never fails to remind me, I am old. I recall with fondness great parades, large bands, drum majors and majorettes, batons twirling and flags flying. I recall fire engine sirens, huge crowds, fireworks that were weak by today’s standards, and fun with family and friends. The more things change….the more they stay the same.

But this experiment is not over. It is not complete. These unalienable rights have yet to be fully attained. I do not believe they will ever be fully attained this side of heaven and yet strive to attain them we must. We must never tire of bringing the kingdom of God to earth. Today we hear Jesus say, “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” and so it is, just as surely today as it was in 1776, as it was in Jesus time, and before. 

Jesus’ solution? Go to all the nations, to all the people, with great haste.  This mission we are sent on is a dangerous one so don’t be dallying about. Go and offer your peace to everyone and to those who return that peace stay with them and teach them about the greatest gift ever given. The gift of those very same rights given to us by a God who loves us so much he became a man, suffered and died at our hands only so we might spend eternity in paradise with him. Spend eternity in that one place where all men are truly equal and love abounds. The one place where we coexist in, no, become a very part of love, which is the Creator.  

Go, live and proclaim God’s peace!