Tag Archives: mission.

The World Cup

I found myself on yet another Pilgrimage. This marked the fifth Pilgrimage I have had the privilege to take. This time my destination was France, with the main focus on visiting many of the places where people have encountered Mary. It was only the second day and I already experienced Mary’s strong presence in this country. The Lord has shown His presence as well.

It was Sunday, the Lord’s day. Our day began with Mass at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Our group was given the honor of sitting in the front rows of the cathedral. Of course, the entire Mass was in French, so I probably did not get as much out of it as I could have. Nevertheless, it was truly a sacred time and little did I know how significant the Gospel reading would be regarding the events that occurred later in the day.

The itinerary for the day was originally supposed to include a cruise on the river and a visit to the Eiffel Tower, but both events had to be canceled because of the World Cup Final. Since France’s team was in the final, the entire city practically shut down to watch the game. When the match started there was no-one in the city who was not watching the game; people were piling into bars and restaurants. The square in front of the Eiffel Tower was blocked off by military because there were so many people in the square watching the game. Our group of pilgrims ended up splitting into a few different groups depending how each one of us wanted to experience the game. I went with the group who wanted to watch it on the square. Our plan was quickly dashed when we were met by a wall of French Military holding machine guns blocking off all entrances into the square. It was a true miracle that we were able to find a bar with seats right in front of a television. Unfortunately, there were two different televisions playing the game in the bar and our television lagged, which meant that every time someone scored, we knew before we were actually able to see it. By halftime the group had had enough and we returned to our hotel. I honestly don’t know which was more exciting, watching the game or watching people watching the game. As the game ended, the action in the streets grew wilder and wilder. People were chanting the national anthem, jumping on moving vehicles, setting off fireworks and tear gas. In a sense it was beautiful chaos. When France officially won, everyone flooded into the streets and began to march. No one knew where we were going but we marched on anyway. Eventually, my group had to stop and head back to our hotel for dinner, but even as we were walking back we continued to see people coming, all chanting their anthem.

When we reached the hotel and gathered for dinner, we all engaged in intense conversation retelling all the crazy stories. One group saw a gang fight break out, while another saw a parked car completely destroyed because of all the people climbing and jumping on it to see the game. All law and order was forgotten; to be a part of the World Cup aftermath was to be a part of something that has never happened before and will never happen again. France winning set Paris on fire. Witnessing it made me think of the Gospel for the day. Mark 6:7-13 is all about Jesus sending the disciples out to preach the Word of God. The disciples now had their mission, which was to set the World on Fire with His Word. If winning a sports game can set Paris ablaze in such a spectacular way, can you imagine what the world could be like if we all accepted our mission and set the World on fire?

___

Originally posted at Kitty in the City.
Image: PD-US

Hidden faith will turn into ruins

Jeremiah 13:1-11

In this reading, God instructed Jeremiah to hide the loincloth in a hole in the rock, and some time later Jeremiah was instructed to retrieve it, only to find it “worthless and of no use”.

The loincloth is the most intimate part of a man’s clothing. And this is a symbol of the people of Israel too — the people of Israel were God’s divinely-elected people, they were close to God’s heart and were called to be intimate with Him.

From this reading, two lessons can be gleaned:
1. When Jeremiah found the loincloth spoilt and good for nothing, it’s akin to when we keep our faith hidden from others — it will be good for nothing too!
2. The story also reminds us if we don’t keep ourselves close to the Lord but hidden away in a hole, we will lose our mission and what we were made to do.

As humans, we are called to give life to others and be gift to others. It is in the chaste giving of ourselves for others that we become fulfilled. If we hide away, we become inward looking, self-centered at end of the day. And we detract from the very missions that the Lord has called us each to embark on.

Let us not forget too that our calling to be instruments of God’s peace and love is not only for ourselves, neither is it merely for those around us, but to the whole world!

We are called to be ambassadors for Christ, and we need to bring those who don’t know Christ to come to know Him through our ordinary lives. That was what Israel was instructed to do — to be a people who will be light to the world!

May we never hide our faith and become good-for-nothings, but instead may we be fearless in the the sharing of our faith so that when others see us, they see Christ.

___

Originally posted at Catholic Rambles.

Image: The Pursuit of  God — Know Your Bible

St. James and Our Lady of Del Pilar

Today, January 2, is the 1,978th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. James the Greater at the pillar in Zaragoza, Spain in the year A.D. 40.

I never have been particularly devoted to St. James the Greater, but for some reason, he seems to be devoted to me.

I heard somewhere that the desire to do the Camino de Santiago – the Way of Saint James, which ends at the church at Santiago de Compostela where the remains of St. James the Greater are kept  — is actually a call from the apostle himself.  Around ten years ago, I read about the Camino de Santiago in a book about hiking. Since then, I became obsessed with it, researching about it on the Internet and dreaming about being able to walk it someday. At that time, walking the Camino de Santiago was a wild dream which I never thought would come true. Back then, I did not know if I could fit it in with my other big plan at that time, which was to take further studies in either the United States or the United Kingdom.

However, my priest-uncle-spiritual-director – who happens to be named “Father Jim” – convinced me to go to Spain instead for further studies, which I did. The university he recommended happened to be along the route of the Camino de Santiago.  During my studies, I got excited every time I saw pilgrims – with their identifying scallop-shell pendants – crossing the campus.

Unfortunately, while I was able to hike some legs of the Camino de Santiago, I was not able to trek the last 100 kilometers required to qualify one to receive a compostela certificate. This was because I could not find a willing and available companion. Although women have been known to walk the Camino de Santiago alone safely, I did not want to take any chances.

Still, the opportunity to visit Santiago de Compostela came. I realized that flying to the place instead of walking did not make me less of a pilgrim.  (In fact, flying proved to be more penitential, as I would have enjoyed a hike through the Spanish countryside more than an interminable wait for a delayed flight at the airport.)

While praying in the church, I realized that I owe to St. James a lot more than I thought.

I am a Catholic because most Filipinos are cradle Catholics. The Philippines – and many other countries — got the Catholic faith from Spain where, according to tradition, St. James preached the Gospel. This means that I am a direct spiritual heir to St. James, who preached the Catholic faith that he received from Christ Himself.

Very little is known about St. James the Greater, but from what is known about him from the Gospels, he was certainly suited to his special mission of preaching in Spain. He and his brother, St. John the Evangelist, were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder” for their fiery spirit that made them ask Jesus  to bid fire to come down from heaven to consume the Samaritan towns that did not want to receive Him. They had drive, ambition, and a can-do attitude that made them give an affirmative response to Jesus when He asked them if they could drink from the cup from which He was to drink.

As energetic and driven as he was, St. James the Greater was not immune to temptations to give up.

According to tradition, on January 2, in the year A.D. 40, while he was preaching the Gospel in Caesaragusta (now Zaragoza) in the Roman province of Hispania (now Spain), he felt discouraged because very few of those to whom he preached accepted the Gospel.  While he was praying by the banks of the Ebro River, the Blessed Virgin Mary miraculously appeared to him atop a pillar.  (Miraculously, because at that time the Blessed Virgin Mary was still living in either Ephesus or Jerusalem; thus, she appeared through bilocation.)  The Blessed Virgin Mary assured him that the people he was preaching to would eventually embrace the Gospel, and their faith would be as strong as the pillar she was standing on.  She gave him the pillar and a wooden image of herself, and instructed him to  build a chapel on the spot where she left the pillar.

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), “El apóstol Santiago y sus discípulos adorando a la Virgen del Pilar”
Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), “El apóstol Santiago y sus discípulos adorando a la Virgen del Pilar”

St. James thus built the chapel, which is now the Basilica of Our Lady of Del Pilar.  He continued preaching, with better results. Then, he and some of his disciples returned to Jerusalem, where they were martyred under Herod Agrippa.  His disciples, however, brought his body back to Spain.

I like this story of St. James and Our Lady of Del Pilar.  It shows that God chooses each of us for special missions suited to our individual traits and aptitudes. At the same time, it shows that our natural aptitudes are not enough, for us to become effective instruments of God.  Christ had to correct and purify St. James’ fiery temperament before St. James could channel his energy to preaching the Gospel.  Then, in the course of his preaching, his natural energy proved insufficient to sustain his motivation.

But he did the right thing and prayed, and the Blessed Virgin Mary encouraged him. He allowed her to encourage him, and his preaching bore fruit.

The story of St. James and Our Lady of Del Pilar teaches us to exert all our efforts to fulfil the mission God gave us, using the best of our skills and abilities, while relying on the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She will encourage us when our strengths fail us, and with her help, we will do a lot of good.  Our encounters with her will pave the way for more encounters between Christ and others – just as the encounter between her and St. James paved the way for my own encounter with Christ.

_____

Image: PD-US

Your Vocation is Your Mission

On the First Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He astonished them with the reality of His Triumph over death, calmed them with His Peace, and directly informed them that they were going on a mission.

And this makes sense. They are the Apostles, they have a Church to build. Of course the Apostles have been sent on a mission. It’s in their name, apostolos, which is Greek for ‘one who is sent’.

The Apostles were sent to teach, make disciples, and baptize, bringing to all the life of grace regained by Jesus on the cross, that was lost with the Fall of Original Sin, in order to restore the relationship between God and man. They handed down this mission, and the grace to carry it out, through Apostolic Succession and Holy Orders, but you need not be a successor of the Apostles (Bishop) or priest in order to receive a mission from God.

Everyone has been sent on a mission by God. We all have particular missions specifically ordained for us by God, but we all also have that universal mission to love. In ecclesiastical terms, these missions are more popularly known as vocations, a calling. Yet, if we believe the words of Scripture in the first chapter of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,” we can understand that God knew our vocations before we were born, created us for a specific purpose, and finally sent us on a mission to fulfill that purpose.

To help us participate in this mission with our free will, God allows us to freely choose. He never merely uses us against our will, but instead allows us to know his plan in some mysterious way so that we may choose it for ourselves and make His goals our own. This participation is enabled through discernment and is manifested by what many have deemed “answering one’s call”.

However, if God knows our purpose for our entire life and merely calls us to come to know it for ourselves, it would be equally correct to say that God is sending us to complete this purpose. He sent us on our missions, some specific mission for each of us, to somehow, as light, leaven, and salt of the earth, bring God to the world so that God may be known, praised, glorified, and loved in this life and in the next.

The idea of all of us being sent on a mission is a fitting description of what God has done and we see it beautifully exemplified and revealed by Jesus Himself. Many times in the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the One Who sent Him. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Matthew 10:40). “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43). “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).

Jesus was sent by God to fulfill His mission. His mission was multifaceted, to teach us using words and deeds, to institute the Church and it’s sacramental mission, and to make atonement for the offense of sin. (All of this is beautifully encapsulated in the “Will” of the Father that Jesus must do). Christ came to show us how to complete our missions.

Christ’s life is an ocean of Truth, so I imagine many more lessons can be fished out, but by observing what He said and did, we can agree that to carry on our missions well, we need to remember certain things such as: We should (1) speak to the Father often, praying in solitude and in groups, (2) seek the Father’s Will in all things, and (3) keep the two greatest commandments, Love of God and Love of Neighbor.

The Church has articulated this last lesson of keeping the two greatest commandments as a vocation itself. In the fifth chapter of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, we find the Universal Call to Holiness. This call to holiness can be seen as a call to love as holiness is the turning away from selfish sin and toward God and others for God’s sake.

Lumen Gentium explains, “For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law, rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means. It is charity which guides us to our final game at end.” In the language of the Church, ‘charity’, or caritas, is love. Love is the means of attaining holiness. Love is the Universal Vocation, which means, Love is everyone’s mission.

In fact, Love is everyone’s primary mission. Sometimes we get caught up with other things (like money, work, or school) and seem to love others on the side as we focus on these other things. First, Love God and your neighbor, and then do everything else.

Furthermore, this mission is more than just items we check off of a “to-do list”. It is a mode of being. It is not our mission to do holy, but to be holy.  To not just do loving things, but to be loving. We can form our wills to desire holy things by doing holy things, doing loving things can shape us to be loving, but only through God’s grace can we truly be loving and be holy.

We cannot earn holiness, because we cannot earn grace. However, we can put ourselves in the right place to receive the grace we need to carry out our missions. We can do this by 1) frequenting the Sacraments; 2) Prayer; and 3) Practicing devotions with sacramentals, which can include blessings, venerating relics, wearing a sacpular, visits to sanctuaries, and the stations of the cross. Sacramentals do not confer grace directly, but “they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it” (CCC 1674).

Through the Sacraments, Prayer, and Sacramentals we can put ourselves where God wants us. These tools will furthermore strengthen and nourish us as we continue with our missions. By seeking to love and be holy through these tools, we can best imitate Jesus, who is God’s Word, and thus not return back to Him empty, but full (Isaiah 55:11).

Chosen by Jesus to Proclaim the Good News: One Filipino Family’s Call to Missionary Life

By Joseph Summers

Here at Family Missions Company (FMC) we are constantly blessed to see the transforming power of the Gospel! When our missionaries share God’s Word and Truth in sincere love for the poor whom they serve, God shows up and changes lives. This was the case last year, when Sammy and Lindsey Romero from Abbeville, with their two beautiful kids in tote, teamed up with Sarah Carroll from Carencro and a couple other single missionaries from FMC to bring the Gospel message to the poorest of the poor in Malaybalay, Philippines. God worked wonders through their “Yes” and used their witness to welcome 36 people into the Church through the waters of Baptism! The Leaño family is a living testimony to what authentic Catholic living can do, read their amazing story below:

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christian

Last year, we were invited to an Easter Sunday celebration by a group of FMC missionaries. We didn’t realize that God had planned that day to change our lives forever.

Before that day, we were so far from God. Both of us come from broken families without any Catholic foundation. I grew up exploring other religions, and Ramon never practiced any faith.

That same week we started attending a Bible study with the FMC missionaries. For the first time, we felt the Holy Spirit, and we realized that God’s words in the Bible are powerful and alive. We realized that it wasn’t too late to accept Jesus as our Savior and to invite him to rule over our lives. After that, we couldn’t stop praising Him and loving Him. We reconciled ourselves with Him, got our babies baptized, got confirmed, and got married in the Church all within a couple of months!

For the past year, we have been helping the FMC missionaries in the Philippines. Many of them have gone on to other missions, but we are always here to continue God’s will. We started Floors for the Poor with the Romero family, completed building and livelihood projects with the Eckstine family, and ministered in the jail and in the community with the Alvarez family. We also started a kids and youth ministry in our parish. We offered our family to God’s service however we could. Working in our hometown of Malaybalay has always been a blessing for us, but soon we realized that God was calling us out of our comfort zone to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). We prayed a lot about it, and we have said YES!

Lay Catholic Missionary, Catholic Missions, Family Missions Company, Missionaries, Families, Gospel, Poverty, Preaching, Evangelization, Foreign Missions, Great Commission, Matthew 28, Jesus, Laity, Christian

We recently participated in FMC’s Summer School of Missionary Evangelism in the Philippines, which reaffirmed our call to give our lives to becoming missionaries. Now we together with our two children are preparing to .

Family Missions Company is a ministry dedicated to spreading the gospel and serving the poor both here in Acadiana and globally. FMC trains and sends out singles and families, who have heard the call of Jesus to leave everything behind and follow him. Could God be calling you to bring His love to those far away?

Come and be inspired for missions at this year’s Proclaim Conference.

Watch the Promo: PROCLAIM 2013: the Catholic Missions Conference

Join us World Missions Sunday weekend, Oct. 18-20th at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, in Lafayette, LA for a weekend of inspiring talks, dynamics liturgies, and the encouragement YOU need to preach the Gospel to all creation! The conference will feature Archbishop Rivas, Ralph Martin, Deacon Ralph Poyo and more!

Register @ www.Proclaim2013.com

Proclaim reaches out to those who have never heard the Gospel message! It starts with your attendance. Every penny of profit from this conference will be used to spread the Gospel in Asia by supporting missionaries like the Leaño Family.

Proclaim seeks to stir up the Church’s missionary zeal, so that all Catholics will be inspired to live, share, and preach the Gospel! To learn more about the conference visit www.Proclaim2013.com or call 337.893.6111.

 

How Do I Serve the Church?

As the summer starts to wind down, I have begun to notice that there are a lot of goodbye parties on my calendar.  One is for my brother who is leaving Pittsburgh to join the Franciscans Friars TOR one is for a college friend who is joining the Franciscan Sisters TOR, one is for my other brother who is heading off to major seminary in Washington D.C. and still another for a friend doing a missionary year with Saint Paul’s Outreach. It is bittersweet to see my friends and family leave town, but I know that this is God’s mission for them. Their yes to God’s call challenges me to ponder about God’s mission for me at home.

The idea that the laity has a mission from God is something that is very underdeveloped in the Church. Often if we see a single lay person who is living a holy life, we encourage them to become a priest or a sister. It is as if there is this unspoken rule that we should leave the holy stuff to the priests, brothers and sisters, and the laity have no obligation to evangelize. However, this is not the case. At the end of every Mass, we as a Church are commissioned to go out and proclaim the Gospel to those we meet.

Recently, while I was at a Theology on Tap, the speaker exhorted the audience to be missionaries in their own parishes. He challenged us to start the type of outreach that we would like to see. Instead of waiting for the parish to start young adult outreach, a service group, a Theology on Tap, etc., we, the laity of the Church, need to start these initiatives in the parishes ourselves.

Now, there are many needs in our communities.  How do we know which things to start? Well, first we need to pray and ask God for His help. Spending some quality time in Eucharistic adoration is a great place to quiet our hearts and hear the voice of God in our lives.  In addition, I recommend asking your spiritual director, parish priest, or other holy people about your idea to fulfill God’s mission in the Church and see what they have to say.

After you have prayed about your mission and received confirmation from others about your idea to serve the Church, just go out and do what God calls you to do. I think we often get so wrapped up in trying to plan things perfectly that we sometimes are paralyzed into not doing anything at all. We need to have courage to start new initiatives and try new things to bring people to Christ. Yet as we start these new things, we need to keep our focus on Christ.

One of the traps that we can fall into when we try to serve God is to make whatever group, project, event or idea that we are involved with the end all and be all. As we try to follow God’s will, we need to do so in humility, knowing that apart from God, we can do nothing. If we rely on our own talents, strength, and abilities, we are not going to be able to fulfill God’s mission in our local churches, recalling that “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain those who build.” (Psalm 127:1)

So the harvest is abundant and the laborers are indeed few, yet let us as the laity of the Church go into the harvest with our priests, brothers and sisters to serve our communities and bring souls to Christ.

Mission is … a heart to serve and love

Meghan, during her second year in Nurobo, Indonesia.

Meghan’s parents were with her as she waited to check in at the airport. Her father asked her again, “Why are you doing this?” With honest simplicity, she replied, “Dad, like I’ve told you, I can’t explain it. I just know I have to do this.”

What was it that Meghan felt so compelled to do?  Mission.

She was on her way to Rome for her preparation to serve in Indonesia for two years. With her bags checked and a last hug, she made her way toward her boarding gate without a real clear idea of what she was getting herself into. All she knew was, ‘she had to do it’.

Many young people today consider going on mission projects. It is an exciting prospect, going to a far off land to learn about another culture and people, while serving the less fortunate.

During my six and half years with VOICA (Canossian International Voluntary Service), I have had the honor of preparing Meghan and many other young men and women to serve one to three years in our Canossian missions.

One of the first things we do with a new group of fledgling missionaries is to sit them down and ask them to share with us and their peers, “Why are you here?” On a rare occasion one might state they weren’t really sure why they were preparing for mission, but that it just ‘seemed like the right thing to do’. For the most part, those that come to us desire one of these – or a combination of – things:

  • Be able to see another country, and serving is a good way to learn about the locals;
  • Give back to God for the good education received, by helping others;
  • Travel;
  • Round out a resume;
  • Experience something new before settling into a career, and or getting married;
  • And sometimes they want to escape (not a good reason for mission).

These answers will naturally shift as they learn what mission really is and what mission really is not:

 

Mission is not:

  • A place we go to import our knowledge as though we have all the answers.
  • An attitude that I’ve done what was expected of me today; the rest can wait until tomorrow.
  • Set on a fixed schedule. Someone may knock at your door in need of help at an inconvenient time.
  • A division of chores between volunteer missionaries.
  • Grass huts and wild animals (although there are those things).

 

Mission is:

  • A place where we learn to be humble, realizing that even the poorest of those we serve will have something to teach us.
  • An attitude of putting others first, especially when you are tired and don’t think you can give any more.
  • Spontaneous at times, asking volunteers to drop what they are doing and give a hand to an urgent need.
  •  A union of hearts between volunteers, to be generous in helping one another.
  • A desire to know the other person and their inherent dignity given by God.

Little by little our volunteers grow into their missionary skin while preparing in Rome. They learn to live together in community (essential for successful mission); they learn to pray together, and to lead prayer; they learn about their particular missions, the language, culture; they learn to solve problems using the few resources they have; they learn to cook and clean; they learn about our Saints, Magdalene Canossa and Josephine Bakhita; they learn about mission in the Church; they learn how to serve others and their community.

More importantly, they learn that mission is hard work, but there is also much joy.

Those who experienced long-term mission may resonate with Meghan’s strong need to give a couple of years of life. Her reflections describe her need to go serve in mission an “illness” that “enveloped her entire being…a great desire on my heart to serve others”.

Our volunteers may not start out with such a desire; but as they complete their missions, and say goodbye to their new friends, they have learned well what it means to have mission penetrate their being, and grow in desire to give their heart to serve and love.

It’s something worthwhile to consider:

Voica Volunteer Missionaries in Action, serving as catechists, teachers, healthcare workers, bakers, diggers, brick makers, painters, and most of all, a sign the hope of God’s love to those in their midst.

 

Related Posts:

Last week Bonnie wrote about her call to mission from her kitchen.

Meet the Costyns, a young married couple now in Rome for preparation for mission with us. They are keeping a blog of their missionary journey.

 

The Beauty of Marriage

I had the priveledge of attending the marriage of Gary (one of my former Canossian volunteers who served 2 years in Malawi) to Hope (a former SOLT volunteer, who served in Central America). The wedding was without great fanfare, or large crowds, but never have I attended one so beautiful.

Why was it beautiful?

On one level, it was an experience that seemed to just fit for this young couple. I found myself watching in awe at the ‘rightness’ as they moved through the ceremony, and, on that level, can only compare it to this:

 

On a deeper level, without special adornment of the Church with flowers, or paid cantor (a school friend sung beautifully), the focus became the Bride and the Bridegroom, celebrating their union within the eternal beauty of the Mass. What I experienced in watching this couple who are obviously in love is best described in the words of Tertullian:

“How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church …? How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service, … undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.” 

It was this desire to be one, best described in the scripture passages they chose for the occasion. First, that from the Book of Tobit, where on their wedding night, before retiring to bed, Tobias and his new bride Sarah decide to kneel down in prayer together. Tobias blesses God, and then asks:

“Now, not with lust, but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife.
Send down your mercy on me and on her,
and grant that we may grow old together.
Bless us with children.”  (Tobit 8:7)

For the Gospel reading, they chose part of the priestly prayer of Jesus, John 17:20-26, which speaks of the unity of Jesus and the Father, and the longing for all believers:

“that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,

that the world may believe that you sent me.”

The homily by Fr. Anthony Blount, SOLT, tied these images together, of the newlyweds praying together by their marriage bed, and that of unity by reminding us of Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”

He went further to help us look at the reality of marriage by way of “the three M’s”:

  • Mass: How the bridegroom symbolizes the Eternal Bridgegroom, Christ, who longs to embrace us – the Church – as His bride. Mass is the ‘new and everlasting covenant (as proclaimed in the Eucharistic Prayer over the cup). If lived well, we encounter heaven. Marriage is a similar covenant, an image often used in the scriptures as an image of the everlasting covenant God makes with His people. Both are binding out of love. If we are attentive at Mass, we become more aware of God’s constant calling us to this perfect covenant made by Him to us.
  • Maturity:  Father used a very interesting image of his own mother – gentle soul by nature – in the kitchen pounding a piece of meat. Almost a violent act, tenderizing. Maturity in the person is a person ‘tenderized’ by God’s love through hard lessons learned in life, and a maturing of the soul takes place to prepare it for what He has in mind. We are sinewy and tough by nature, and need to let God teach us in order to reach a place of maturity, to be workable to the designs of God.
  • Mission: Marriage is a journey of service, of mission. Both Gary and Hope have served in foreign lands for a time, serving the poor by giving of themselves. Marriage, too, is  a mission to serve. It is saying, “My life is for something greater than myself.” It is an act that flows from the maturity of the person. It is also a mission to the Church, by raising up faithful children who long to commit themselves to ‘something greater’ than themselves. It also pointed out, they are beginning their life together on the morning before Mission Sunday, testifying to their willingness to be a part of the Church’s greater mission.

These ‘Three M’s’ are necessary for all vocations.

It just so happens all the elements of Church vocations were present in St Sebastian’s: Parents of the bride and bridegroom; single and married friends of the young couple; the priest; myself as a religious; and even in Gary’s siblings, his brother is a religious brother with the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and his sister, who could not be present, is preparing for her entrance with Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. We – together – were expressing the beauty of the Church when each fulfills his or her proper place within her.

All of these things, together, made the celebration memorable and timeless.  In a word, beautiful.