Remembering what Memorial Day is all about

Today here in the United States of America, we commemorate Memorial Day – the day we remember all those who gave their lives defending our freedom while serving in our armed forces. In the FoxNews article, SEAL who shot bin Laden: Don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day, the author says,

Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all – including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid. Memorial Day is a time to honor the lives of those who would rather die than take a knee when our national anthem is played. But they will fight and die for the rights of those who kneel.

For me, today is a little more real than in years past since I have gotten to know some real good men and women at my parish who have served in our military. I have also started to support a company, while drinking coffee, that was founded by a veteran and employs many veterans. This company is known as Black Rifle Coffee Company. If you drink coffee and want to support our veterans, I would encourage you to check out this growing company. The video below is produced by them, and titled – Never Forgotten.

Ever since writing an article back on this day in 2013, every time I see a military veteran (usually wearing a hat or shirt saying when or where they served) or a current active service member of any branch of the military, I go up to them, shake their hand, and say Thank you for serving our country. At first this was hard to do, but I once I did it a few times, it became easier. I think we all need to do this for those who have served or currently serve in the armed forces. We have the freedoms we do because brave men and women decided to put their lives on the line and defend this country. This day and everyday, let us pray for all of the military men and women who have died defending our country.

As we watch the military movies that are playing on television today, grilling burgers and dogs, drinking a beer, and enjoying this day off, just remember Why you have this day off and to offer up a prayer to those who have fallen and have died for us. Today is only possibly through the service and actions of our fellow citizens who have chosen to serve, fight, and defend our country.

If you are looking for specific military prayers, you will find them on this website. Ask for the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joan of Arc, and St. George – the Patron Saints of Military Personnel.

And, make sure you watch this short video from Black Rifle Coffee Company

Giving Thanks and Praying on Memorial Day

When the thoughts of Memorial Day come to mind in recent years, it’s the clip from the great World War II film – Saving Private Ryan, that comes to mind for me. Even now, it gives me a heavy heart (see below). And although it’s just a film, it portrays a little bit of what our soldiers have endured for our country and our way of life.

Today and everyday from here on out, when you see a military veteran or a current active service member, go up to them, shake their hand, and say THANK YOU. They have put their lives on the front lines and continue to do so today, in order that we may live in freedom. Let us pray this day as well as for all of the military men and women who have died defending our country. We must always give thanks to our military men and women.

American-Flag

As you watch the military movies that are playing on television today, grilling burgers and dogs, drinking a beer, and enjoying this day off, just remember Why you have this day off and to offer up a prayer to those who have fallen and have died for us. Today is a good day, but it was only possibly through the service and actions of our fellow citizens who have chosen to serve and defend our country.

If you are looking for military prayers, you will find them on this website. Ask for the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joan of Arc, and St. George – the Patron Saints of Military Personnel.

Make sure you watch this clip too!

Job Openings in the Diocese of Phoenix

At the request of my friends, here are three jobs that are currently open in the Diocese of Phoenix. Two are teaching positions at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix and the other job is at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Phoenix. Check out the listings below and apply if you feel called. The Diocese of Phoenix is a growing diocese with one of the best Bishops in the United States – Thomas J. Olmsted.

Spanish Teacher – 2015-2016 school year. All applicants must compete application available on-line at http://www.catholicschoolsphx.com

Biology and Anatomy Teacher – 2015-2016 school year. All applicants must compete application available on-line at http://www.catholicschoolsphx.com

Coordinator of Family Evangelization and Catechesis — Under the direct supervision of the Director of Evangelization & Catechesis, the Coordinator of Family Evangelization & Catechesis will be responsible for helping to build up a cultural of life within the parish boundaries, and for supporting the New Evangelization through the coordination of specific catechetical, social, and devotional apostolates, directed to the needs of the entire parish, but with a special emphasis placed on the Hispanic parish. Additionally, significant energies will be expended on evangelizing and catechizing entire families, beginning with parents. This will include catechetical instruction, catechetical methodology and assistance with rectifying nullity-related matters.

Essential Job Functions:Coordinate and implements Spanish/English language Children’s Religious Education process; coordinate Spanish/English language Ongoing Parent Religious Education; coordinate annual Vacation Bible Camp; engage in ongoing professional development; maintain a good working relationship with the wider civic community.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Required: Must demonstrate knowledge of the diversity within the Hispanic community; should possess basic theoretical knowledge and skills in planning, organizing, communicating, administering, managing and training; should be thoroughly familiar with established Diocesan polices affecting catechesis; must be bilingual and bi-literate in English and Spanish; must be flexible and willing to work evenings and weekends, as required; must have a valid driver’s license and the ability to travel as required; must have an ability to engage in ongoing professional formation, be able work well with people of diverse backgrounds; must have exemplary organizational and data inputting skills.

Minimum Qualifications:Must be an active, practicing Catholic in full communion with the Church; Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, Religious Education or a related field from a bona fide Catholic University; must have at least two years experience working in Religious Education at the parish or diocesan level, either as a paid staff member or volunteer.

To apply, please send application, cover letter, and resume to:
Mr. Michael Garibaldi
Director of Catechesis and Evangelization
mgaribaldi@stjoanofarc.com
Fax: (602)482-7930

Corpus Christi – The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

Although we celebrate many solemnities in the Catholic Church, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi has to be one that really stands out since its about the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Blessed John Paul II says, “A particular mention should be made at this point of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as an act of public worship rendered to Christ present in the Eucharist, a feast instituted by my predecessor Urban IV in memory of the institution of this great Mystery.” (Dominicae Cenae, #3).

Pope Francis carrying Jesus in Monstrance

This morning, I attended the worldwide Adoration with Pope Francis along with many other Catholics from the universal Church. As Adoration concluded, I left for a bit, but returned for the Holy Mass and the Corpus Christi Procession at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fr. Don Kline (Pastor) and Fr. Greg Menegay (Parochial Vicar) are really do great things at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church. The Holy Mass was one of the most prayerful and reverent liturgies I have attended in some time. The Sacrifice of the Mass is truly an awe-inspiring and prayerful time at this parish. The choir was not it’s own “show” but truly added to the Mass and lifted us up in Heaven. The faithful gathered were just that – faithful! As each processed to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ during Holy Communion, there was a true love in the actions of those present. Nearly everyone stayed and participated in the Eucharistic procession around the parish grounds.

Fr. Greg’s homily was fantastic! Simple, yet theologically sound and to the point on how beautiful and sacred the Holy Eucharist is for us as Catholics. The teaching of the True Presence is a fundamental teaching in the Catholic Church.  One of the points he made was that the Holy Mass was an action of thanksgiving from Holy Communion till the end of the liturgy. If you leave early, you are not giving the proper and full thanks to Jesus Christ in this sacrament. The priests at St. Joan of Arc have a good understanding of how they are united by their priesthood to the Eucharist and understand the words of Blessed John PaulJP II raising the Body of Jesus  II when says,

Through our ordination – the celebrating which is linked to the holy Mass from the very first liturgical evidence – we are united in a singular and exceptional way to the Eucharist. In a certain way we derive from it and exist for it…The priest fulfills his principal mission and is manifested in all his fullness when he celebrates the Eucharist…” (Dominicae Cenae, #2).

As we walked silently and reverently behind Fr. Greg Mengay carrying Our Lord in the Monstrance, the choir sang hymns in Latin. As we gathered outside near a makeshift altar, we listened to the Gospel passage about the Road to Emmaus. It’s an appropriate passage from the Gospel of Luke since it tells us how two disciples of Jesus walked with him on the day of His Resurrection. During this procession on Corpus Christi, we should be reminded to listen to Our Lord Jesus Christ as we walk through our lives as Christians. After the Gospel reading, we received Benediction (being blessed with the Holy Eucharist in the Monstrance by the priest) from Fr. Menegay. He then proceeded back into the Church with Our Lord and the faithful departed for home.

Corpus Christi Procession - June 2.2013

This Sunday morning was very blessed and special. It was a great day to be Catholic! As I walked to my SUV, I said to myself, “Man, I love being Catholic.” Only in the Catholic and Orthodox Church’s do you see the 2000 – year old Traditions in such magnificent splendor and awe. See the video below of Pope Francis and the Procession of Corpus Christi in Rome.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ be present in our hearts and in our bodies through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We ask for the intercessions of all the Saints and especially Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament to pray with us to God in Heaven.

 

Giving Thanks and Praying on Memorial Day

When the thoughts of Memorial Day or Veteran’s day come to mind in recent years, it’s the clip from the great World War II film – Saving Private Ryan, that comes to mind. Even watching it now gives me a heavy heart (see below).

Today and everyday from here on out, when you see a military veteran or a current active service member, go up to them, shake their hand, and say THANK YOU. They have put their lives on the front lines and continue to do so today, in order that we may live in freedom.

We must always give thanks and pray for our military men and women. Military life is hard and can make a lasting impression on one’s mind. As you watch the military movies that are playing on television or attending a parade to honor our veterans today, offer up a prayer to those who are with us presently, but also offer up a prayer to those who have fallen and have died for us. For military prayers, see this website. Ask for the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joan of Arc, and St. George – the Patron Saints of Military Personnel.

Here are some friends of mine that are active military personnel – Mark Bristol, Greg Johnson, Ricky Schumann, John Yorio, and Michael Quigley – Thank You gentlemen for your service and duty to our country.

Marching Military Branches

Catholic Humor with a Little Help from Bill and Ted…Excellent!

WHO WAS JOAN OF ARC?

Yes – that was Keanu Reeves. You know Neo from the Matrix Trilogy?…Yes…him!

Now really, who is St. Joan of Arc?

My student’s here in Austin would call her a Beast and that would be an affirmation to her character and way of life.

Psalm 137 – Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!

I realize that four days have passed since the 4th Sunday in Lent, but with school starting up again this week and trying to plan lessons for my students for the upcoming chapters, I have not been able to spend time on this blog. As much as I love teaching theology in the classroom, my practical work – the work that pays the bills often gets in the way of my blogging. There is humor in this statement and there is also frustration. A new friend tweeted me the other night and said that work (work that pays the bills) often gets in the way of the New Evangelization. I agreed with him, but then I thought about it again and said to myself, well I am doing the New Evangelization, with my high school students. I teach them “basic” theology in hope that when they leave us, they will go on to continue to grow in their faith and expand their knowledge of the Catholic Church.  With that being said, I now turn to Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, and 6.

Psalm 137 begins in exile and it’s a psalm of lamentation. This psalm is reminding us that the Jews are suffering in the land of their Babylonian oppressors after the destruction of Jerusalem in the years of 587-586 B.C. According to Pope Benedict XVI, we are reading a national song of sadness that reflects the things of the past that are being missed in exile. Although this psalm speaks of the suffering of the Jews in Babylon, it does give hope that the Lord will save his people from their captors and the slavery they find themselves in currently. This psalm is yet another good reminder for us during this Season of Lent because it’s during this season that we reflect on our own sins which bounds us to this earth as slaves are bound to the land they work. We also reflect and hope on the salvation that will come at end of Holy Week when Our Lord will sacrifice himself as the one, true, and perfect sacrifice on the cross.

A Levitical (temple priest) musician whose life in the temple was to write music wrote verses Psalm 137 more than likely. The psalmist was probably taken into exile with his fellow Jews around the year 587 B.C. Since the psalm is speaking of the disaster, we can assume that the temple has been completely destroyed and the Jews are held captive in Babylon and are weeping because they are no longer in Zion. The term – Zion – was a name for Jerusalem. The “songs of Zion” were known as the “songs of the Lord” and should only be sung and played in the temple. When the Babylonian captors requested that the “songs of the Lord” be played for them, it’s done with sarcasm. All they are looking to do is cause sadness in the Jews. In verse 2, when it says, “we hung up our harps”, means that the lyres (small harp like instrument) were silent and were not played.

A small note to add separate from the psalm is that Babylon had many rivers and streams. This is where the psalmist is more than likely writing this psalm near. It is through these waterways that the Persians would enter Babylon and conquer them. See Jeff Cavins’ Bible Timeline for a clear understanding of the Exile for Israel and Judah and the world powers of Babylon and Persia.

Verses 4-5 are speaking about how the songs that were sung in the temple and Jerusalem could not be sang in a foreign land. Although they lost the city of Jerusalem, the songs that they once sang are still in their hearts. The words “may my right hand be forgotten” is in reference to the inability to play the lyre if the Lord is forgotten in this foreign land. This idea of keeping the songs in their hearts can be reflected on in the early life of Karol Wojtyla  (Blessed John Paul II) when him and his friends formed a Rhapsodic Theater to keep alive the art of the Polish culture as well as the importance of Catholicism in that culture. Even though the Nazi’s had outlawed public Polish theatre, this group came together secretly and helped the Polish culture flourish after the war had ended.

Verse 6 speaks about how the psalmist makes the wealth care of Jerusalem more important than his own wealth care. Jerusalem is the quasi-Sacrament of God’s sacred people. It’s through the people of Israel that the world will be blessed. Jerusalem is very close to God. There is a theological understanding of the Church happening here, it is the sacrament to the world. The Catholic Church is the Sacrament of Jesus. The world’s hope is tied with the Church. Israel finds her fulfillment in the Catholic Church; however, the Jews are still the chosen people.

As we draw closer to the conclusion of Lent, let us pray to the Lord that we will have the desire to know God more and to keep Him close to our hearts. Let us also pray for those individuals in the Church that are bitter and cynical to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church. As St. Joan of Arc said, “Jesus and the Church are one.” And finally, let us pray for those who don’t know Our Lord at all and have either never found Him or just choose to not believe in Him. May the beauty of the New Jerusalem shine in our hearts for all eternity.