Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lent is a challenge to transform - Feb 24, 2013

 As I write this short reflection I look back to the experience of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). In some parts of the world it is called Carnival (“farewell to meat”). The excessive celebration of Mardi Gras contrasts with the starkness of Ash Wednesday. One of the merriest parts of the experience is where death is depicted as an ugly devil, as a grumpy Old Man Winter or as the King of Fools. On the last night of Carnival this figure of death is tossed into a lake or chased out of the town. When death dies, Carnival comes to a quick end. Masks are removed, grease paint is wiped off, the partying eases. The past is left behind in ashes. Everything that is false or deceiving is destroyed. In Lent we are challenged to lay aside the masks we wear. Lent is about painful honesty as we realize we are all sinners. We are all less than the people we want to be. Lent is a challenge to transform our lives. In our Lenten pilgrimage may we rediscover the world not through our Carnival masks, but through the eyes of Easter faith.
Father Bob Hawkins

Dynamic Catholic Feb 10 - 2013

One of my most favorite parts of vacations is reading. On my most recent junket I read five books. One of them is called The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly. This book is available at our book stand and is now being read by the members of the parish council. As Lent approaches, this book invites us to look at four areas of our parish life: prayer, study, generosity and evangelization. I invite you to spend some time reading this book. In addition at our Lenten Soup Suppers Ed Sirois will present four videos on the significance of the Vatican Council. As we travel through the Year of Faith, I invite you all to ponder the truths found in good books and videos this Lent.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, December 01, 2012

See beyond ourselves - December 1, 2012

At the beginning of the liturgical year Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars.” Throughout our lives we encounter “signs”; indicators of realities we do not readily see or understand or appreciate – or would rather ignore altogether. These signs urge us to look deeper, to see beyond ourselves, to confront issues before they become disasters. During Advent we ask for humility and wisdom to realize that God’s saving presence is in our midst. Let us hear His voice as he urges us to confess our sins, to perform acts of service for the less fortunate, and to ponder His word in our lives.

On December 13th Tom Kendzia and Val Jensen will be here to present an Advent concert. The concert is entitled, “Soon and Very Soon”. From 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. in church they will perform for our school children and families. And then from 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. they will perform for our Young-At-Heart group. Come and be inspired by their Advent message.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Baccalaureate Mass was a special moment

Last Sunday we celebrated a rite of passage in the lives of our high school seniors. They gathered for the Baccalaureate Mass where they were blessed and given a gift of a cross on a key chain. As each individual came forward Father Luke and I crafted a blessing that attempted to capture the unique personality of each student. It was a very emotional moment for me as I have seen these young people mature in grace and wisdom. Some have been altar servers, others lectors, still others have gone on mission trips to Jamaica and the
H.O.M.E. mission in Maine. A few years back they were part of our Confirmation program. It is my prayer that the presence of St. Luke’s Church has been a positive influence in their lives.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

See signs of faith all around us - Apr 22, 2012

As many of you know I like to read. Most of my reading consists of newspapers and periodicals. It’s only when I go on vacation do I have the pleasure of diving into a long book. Last Saturday I read a wonderful article in Commonweal by Fr. Nonomen. About four times a year he writes a short article giving a pastor’s view of the contemporary church. In this particular article he reflects on the experience of the Easter Vigil where five members of his community were being initiated into the Church. He asks what motivated them to want to belong – maybe a soup supper or attending a funeral or an intriguing question from a child after a religious education class. In this Easter season we are challenged to see signs of faith all around us. Perhaps these signs are present in the people who have chosen to belong to our parish. I end with this quote from Fr. Nonomen:

“…Someone in the parish recently observed that we ought to take ‘exit interviews’ of those who are leaving the church. That would help determine not only what we need to fix, but where we should spend more energy and prayer. But when I want to fill my oil lamp with a little hope, when I want to be ready and waiting for the kingdom-of-what’s-happening next, the people I really want to talk with are the ones who just signed up for the envelopes…”

Fr. Bob

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pastors should Spend more time on church suppers

As I write on this Tuesday morning I am thankful that our first Lenten soup supper went so well. Ed Sirois gave a great presentation on Mark’s Gospel, the RCIA class did the serving, 70 people came to the Mass and down to the hall afterwards. Following breakfast I went online and read an article forwarded to me by a good friend. The article was entitled “Researcher’s advice to pastors: Spend more time on church suppers” by Nancy Frazier O’Brien. She quotes Robert Putnam who suggests that pastors spend less time on the sermons, and more time arranging church suppers.” The study shows that the more church friends a person has, the happier he or she is. Sitting in the pew alone is not enough. Putnam writes “only when one forms social networks in a congregation does religious service attendance lend to a higher life satisfaction.” The parish that eats together stays together. What is so wonderful about the Barron Sunday night Catholicism series is that half the folks eat together before the session. As we move forward as a parish family it is my hope that we create multiple opportunities for people to gather and socialize. Jesus is present in the word, the Eucharist and, yes, even among His people. Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, March 03, 2012

2012 Catholic Charity Fund - starts this week.

One of the pillars of Lent is almsgiving. By sharing what we have we are able to lessen hunger and want in the world. During this season there will be many opportunities to give: the Gabriel Project, the Rice Bowl, Have A Heart. But perhaps the oldest way to give is through the Catholic Charity Fund. This weekend we will have our first In-Pew solicitation. Our goal this year is a challenging one: $225,000. I am sure we will be able to reach it because of the incredible generosity of our parish. For the past three years we have finished first in the Diocese. Pray for the drive’s success. The poor are depending on us.
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Visual symbols of Lent - Feb 25, 2012

Lent has many dimensions as it calls us to fast, pray and give alms. One way we express the many dimensions of the Season is through our Church environment. The following is a reflection from our Environment Committee:

Lent is upon us, and guidelines stress the solemnity of the season. That is why we do not ordinarily celebrate the joyful sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Eucharist, or Confirmation) or the Sacraments of Service (Matrimony or Holy Orders) during this six-week period. Decorating guidelines also remind us that we are not a department store window to be dressed and adorned, regardless of the season. During Lent even funeral flowers are removed when the Liturgy is concluded. Environment should always point to the Liturgy of the Word proclaimed at the lectern and the Liturgy of the Eucharist celebrated at the altar. This Lent we are attempting to highlight visually one symbol from each of our Sunday readings. Please notice that symbol, listen for it in the readings, and take the image home with you to practice during the week. When the dawn of Easter arrives, hopefully our hearts will burst with grace and reflect the loveliness of the flowers that once more will surround our environment. In ancient times the narthrex, or what we today call the vestibule or gathering space at the main entrance of our church, was a place for penitents and candidates for Baptism to remain until they were able to be fully catechized into the faith. Here at St. Luke’s we use our main entrance as a transition area from the pressures of the outside world into the peace of the spiritual life found in our worship. At various times in the liturgical year (notably Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter) we try to help in this transformation with banners or flowers. As we turn our hearts more fully toward God this Lent, we hope the environment helps check out our cares and sins at the doors as we enter and enable us to go forth back into the world prepared to fast, pray, and give alms with a happy heart.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our Common Humanity - Feb 19. 2012

Last Friday I went to see The Merchant of Venice at Trinity. What touched me profoundly was the speech given by Shylock where he refers to our common humanity.
“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
So often a world seems to be divided by class, race, religion. So often we accent what sets us apart. We find it so easy to stay in our camps. So as we look at our world we see chaos in Greece, turmoil in Syria, a budding nuclear conflict between Israel and Iran, the occupy movement in our country. Maybe our world would be a lot better if we could celebrate our common humanity. This then could be the springboard to work for justice which is the basis of peace.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A tension within me - Feb 11, 2012

It’s Tuesday morning and a deadline to get this Pondering finished is looming. In a half hour I will be in church preparing for a funeral. So, as always, I’m preparing. There is always a tension within me when I preach. You would think after 36 years this angst would lessen. Yet, as I think, this doubt and tension is a good thing. It means I am aware of my own limits and the need I have for God’s grace. So as I pray may my words today be God’s words. May my words communicate to someone the compassion and awesomeness of God. The following is a reflection of Karl Rahner on the priesthood. He says things more eloquently than I.

“The priest is not an angel sent from heaven. He is a man chosen from among men, a member of the Church, a Christian. Remaining man and Christian, he begins to speak to you the Word of God. This word is not his own. No, he comes to you because God has told him to proclaim His Word. Perhaps he adulterates it. Perhaps he filters and stammers. Accept him as the messenger of Christ. Let your hearts and minds swell with the grace of God so as to hear in his human words -- in his humbling, miserable, colorless and often repetitious words, – the holy, blessed and powerful Word of God, the Word that brings God Himself and His eternal life into our midst. Pray for him. Carry him so that he may sustain others by bringing to them the majesty of God’s love revealed in Christ Jesus.”
Fr. Bob Hawkins

Saturday, February 04, 2012

A typical day in the life of Jesus - Feb 5, 2012

We have been working our way through the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel these past few weeks. Scholars call this Chapter a typical day in the life of Jesus. Here He teaches with authority, casts out demons, heals many sick people including Peter’s mother-in-law. Then at the end of the Chapter we hear these words: “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” Amidst all the activity Jesus felt time to be alone with God. It was from His God that He received the strength to do His ministry. When I think of Jesus I think of this story about St. Anthony.
Fr. Bob
Once the great St. Anthony was relaxing with his disciples outside his hut when a hunter came by. The hunter was surprised and mildly shocked and rebuked Anthony for taking it easy. It was not his idea of what a monk should be doing. But Anthony said, “Bend your bow and shoot an arrow.” And the hunter did so. “Bend it again and shoot another,” said Anthony. And the hunter did, again and again. The hunter finally said, “Abba Anthony, if I keep my bow always stretched, it will break.” “So it is with the monk,” replied Anthony. “If we push ourselves beyond measure we will break; it is right from time to time to relax our efforts.”
Rev. Bill Bausch, in A World of Stories for Preachers and Teacher

Gather, share the faith, and build community - Jan 29, 2012

One of the benefits of our two days of evangelization is that many good ideas have surfaced. One of them was to sponsor simple soup suppers in Lent. This would provide a way for people to gather, share their faith, and build community. So on the March Mondays in Lent (March 5, 12, 19, 26) we are inviting people to the Novena prayers at 5:30 p.m., followed by Mass at 5:45, and a simple supper at 6:15. On a few occasions we might invite a guest speaker. As you know, we had our mission back in October when Father Jeremy Rodrigues came to discuss the new translation of the Mass. This will be another way to deepen our faith during the Lenten season. Look for more details as Lent draws near.
Fr. Bob