Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jesus opens our eyes - OCTOBER 29, 2006

Helen Keller often spoke about tragic “blindness” experienced by many “seeing” people. She wrote, “I have walked into people whose eyes are full of sight but who see nothing in sea or sky, nothing in city streets, nothing in books. It would be far better to sail forever in the night of blindness with sense and feeling and mind than to be content with the mere act of seeing.” This Sunday’s Gospel tells the story of Bartimaeus who comes to sight through the intervention of Jesus. It was Jesus who opens our eyes to the goodness of God that exists in our midst. This Friday we gather for our parish auction. I have seen the spirit of Jesus alive in our parish family. So many people have come forward to offer their time, talent and treasure. May we all see our parish come alive as we gather Friday evening.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, OCTOBER 29, 2006

NEASC visit to St. Luke’s School - OCTOBER 1, 2006

This week we welcome the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) team to St. Luke’s School. This group will give us a detailed evaluation of our school. A self study has been prepared by our faculty complete with goals for the future of the school. The team will conduct interviews with faculty and parents. Class room observations will occur. It is important that an objective look at the school be undertaken. This will reveal to us our strengths as a school community and what improvements need to be made. Please pray for the success of this visit this week.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, OCTOBER 1, 2006

Reason and dialogue in a world filled with terrorism - SEPTEMBER 24, 2006

I have been following the current controversy between Pope Benedict and certain voices in the Islamic world. I believe Benedict’s intent was to open a dialogue with the Islamic religion. He has cautioned against religious violence and has urged a union of faith with reason. He is attempting to bring reason and dialogue into a world filled with terrorism. At a meeting with Muslims in Germany last summer Benedict urged joint efforts to “turn back the wave of cruel fanaticism that endangers the lives of so many people and hinder progress toward world peace.”
One particular concern of the Pope is reciprocity. He urges Islamic states to grant the same rights and freedoms to Christians and other religious minorities that Muslims receive in the West. One example of this is that while Saudis contributed tens of millions of dollars to build Europe’s largest mosques in Rome, Christians cannot build churches in Saudi Arabia.
I find it deeply disturbing that the extremists are winning the day in our world. Where are the modern voices of moderation? Who is today’s Anwar Sadat or Yitzhak Rabin? The value of Benedict is that he is appealing for dialogue between faiths. In an atmosphere of interreligious dialogue people meet in confidence and trust, share their spiritual gifts, maintain their faith and practice, and open themselves to grace and truth. This is what Pope Benedict is trying to do. Let us pray that he is successful.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, September 24, 2006

This and that from here and there - SEPTEMBER 17, 2006

This pondering is similar in style to what Bill Reynolds does in the Saturday sport’s section.

- A big thank you to Nancy Fitzgerald and her PTO board for a wonderful opening of the year picnic at Colt State Park. The weather cooperated as we enjoyed a perfect sunset over the bay. We were able to welcome many new families to our school community.

- Last week we had a parish finance meeting. One bit of great news is that our parish debt is down to $63,450.00. As things look now we should be finished with the debt in February. At that point the committee is thinking of changing the debt reduction envelope to a capital maintenance envelope. This will allow us to keep up with improvements and repairs to the parish plant.

- The parish auction will be here before you know it. Mark your calendars for November 3 at Johnson and Wales in Seekonk. We are blessed to have an excellent committee organizing this event.

- Please pray for our religious education teachers as they are commissioned this weekend at all the masses. Also please pray for the success of the Alpha program that begins this Sunday evening.

- Lastly, my office window looks out at the rectory’s backyard. This time of the year I watch the comings and goings of our pre-school parents and their lovely children. It is a great blessing to be in a parish with a school. Forming young people’s hearts, minds and souls brings me great joy. Let us work together this year to build up the St. Luke’s community.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, September 17, 2006

Catholic Framework for Economic Life - SEPTEMBER 10, 2006

Recently the Community Services office of the Diocese sent the priests these reflections on Labor Day. What follows is a brief description of the social teaching of the Church.

“LABOR DAY…a good time to reflect upon the Catholic Framework for Economic Life a statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops…

1. The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.
2. All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family, and serve the common good.
3. A fundamental moral measure of any economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring.
4. All people have a right to life and to secure the basic necessities of life (e.g., good clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security).
5. All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions, as well as to join unions or other associations.
6. All people, to the extent they are able, have a corresponding duty to work, a responsibility to provide for the needs of their families, and an obligation to contribute to the broader society.
7. In economic life, free markets have both clear advantages and limits: government has essential
responsibilities and limitations; voluntary groups have irreplaceable roles, but cannot substitute for the proper working of the market and the just policies of the state.
8. Society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs, and pursue justice in economic life.
9. Workers, owners, stockholders, and consumers are moral agents in economic life. By our choices, initiative, creativity and investment, we enhance or diminish economic opportunity, community life, and social justice.
10. The global economy has moral dimensions and human consequences. Decisions on investment, trade, aid, and development should protect human life and promote human rights, especially for those most in need wherever they might live on this globe.

According to Pope John Paul II, the Catholic tradition calls for “a society of work, enterprise and participation” which “is not directed against the market but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state to assure that the basic needs of the whole society are satisfied.” (Centesimus Annus) All of economic life should recognize the fact that we are all God’s children and members of the human family, called to exercise a clear priority for the ‘least among us’.”

Fr. Bob Hawkins, SEPTEMBER 10, 2006

End of summer reflections - SEPTEMBER 3, 2006

A big thank you to Terri Leary and her committee who organized last Sunday’s picnic at the Columban Fathers. A sizeable gathering of parishioners enjoyed food, friendship and games. What a diverse group we are as a parish. We have a great mix of senior citizens, middle age and young families. So many people come together to offer their time and talents to build community.

In the days ahead so many activities will commence. We have a very active fall season with classes and committees beginning. In November our bi-annual parish auction takes place. In October the accreditation team comes to evaluate our school. As I begin my second year as pastor I’m looking forward to working with Father Matt and all of you to make St. Luke’s all that it can be.

Fr. Bob Hawkins SEPTEMBER 3, 2006

Farewell to seminarian Luke Willenberg - AUGUST 13, 2006

This weekend we give a fond good-bye to Luke, our summer seminarian. It has been a real joy having him in our midst. Luke is a very prayerful, friendly and hard-working young man. He has been very present at our masses here in the parish. During our religious education summer season he gave daily reflections at the beginning of each day. He even played baseball and soccer with the kids during the breaks. Luke always felt welcomed by the St. Luke’s family. He enjoyed visiting the homes in the parish. When we had nursing home masses he came along and brought joy to the elderly residents of Orchard View and Bay Spring. I enjoyed introducing him to my communion calls.
The Diocese is wise to have seminarians spend time during their formation years in parishes. There you see the ebb and flow of parish life. This has not only been a good experience for Luke, it has also been very beneficial to us. Thank you, Luke, for your smile, sincerity, prayerfulness and dedication to the people of God. Good luck as you resume your academic formation. We look forward to having you with us at Christmas time.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, AUGUST 13, 2006

Humor: Toot ‘n Tell or go to ... - AUGUST 6, 2006

Here is some summer time humor. Imagine Fr. Bob and Fr. Matt having this conversation one day in the rectory.

The Pastor, speaking to the younger priest, said, “It was a good idea to replace the first
four rows of pews with plush bucket theater seats. It worked like a charm. The front
of the church always fills first now.

The young priest nodded, and the old priest continued, “And you told me a little more
beat to the music would bring young people back to the church, so I supported you
When you brought in that rock’n roll gospel choir. We are packed to the balcony!”

“Thank you, Father,” answered the young priest. “I am pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth.”

“However,” said the elderly priest, “I’m afraid you’ve gone too far with the drive-thru confessional.”

“But, Father,” protested the young priest, “my confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since I began that!”

“I know, son, but that flashing neon sign, ‘Toot ‘n Tell or Go to Hell’” just can’t stay on the church roof.”

Bob Hawkins, AUGUST 6, 2006

Idleness disintegrated what generations of service could not destroy - July 30, 2006

There was a Roman aqueduct in Segovia which was built in 109 A.D. This aqueduct brought water from the mountains to a thirsty city for 1800 years. One day it was decided to give the old aqueduct a well-deserved rest. The city constructed a modern pipeline to carry water to the people. Soon the aqueduct began to fall apart. The sun cracked the mortar and made it crumble. What generations of service could not destroy, idleness soon disintegrated. Our Christian lives are like that. If they fall into disuse and are left idle, they soon fall apart. For the next four weeks we reflect together on the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. If we receive this gift on a regular basis our faith gets the fuel it needs to move forward. So often we can take a blasé attitude toward our faith. Children can receive First Eucharist in May and not receive again until Christmas. Months can go by without regular attendance at Mass. May our faith never go idle. Jesus, may we always hunger for you, our Bread of Life.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, July 30, 2006

Rapid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity (Part 3 of 3) - JULY 16, 2006

“Rapid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity”
The last of three excerpts from Bishop Braxton’s remarks.

“…The name Islam is derived from an Arabic word which means peace (shalom in Hebrew). Islam means abandoning oneself, surrendering oneself in peace to Allah. While there are passages in the Quran that can be used to incite violence, there is nothing intrinsically violent about Islam. The vast majority of the world’s Muslims live in peace with others. The primary meaning of the Islamic term jihad is not “holy war against infidels” as we sometimes hear. Jihad means to “exert oneself” or to struggle, for example, by working hard, fighting to do good, striving to spread Islam all over the world.
This can also include using political structures and military strength to spread
Islam. Jihad can be a call to war to defend Islam. Islam also teaches that suicide (e.g. terrorists in the four planes on Sept. 11) is a sin, punishable by damnation. Like Christians, Muslims become martyrs only when they are put to death for their
A number of Christian experts on Christian-Muslim relations believe that while we should reject stereotypes of Islam, we should not take lightly the “clash of
civilizations” that can exist between Islam and Christianity. They see major differences between Islamic countries and countries shaped by Western Europe. They have radically different forms of structuring society and the relationship of religion to the state, and this could lead to serious tension and conflict in the United

The rapid growth and spread of Islam in our world and in our country presents
complex challenges to anyone involved in Catholic education today charting the future for tomorrow. As Catholics we have an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. We also believe firmly that Christ has mandated us to proclaim the good news, teach all nations and share with them the gift of baptism. As we have been reminded by the Vatican declaration “Dominus Jesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” our genuine openness to interfaith dialogue cannot lead us to embrace relativism.

Jesus, the Messiah and Lord, can never be presented as simply one of many prophets, one of many paths to salvation. Truly irenic interfaith dialogue must begin by being honest about the unchangeable foundations of our own faith. Most followers of Islam appreciate this because they feel obliged to be faithful to their fundamental

In our new world situation the new apologetic must acknowledge that it will not be sufficient to refer to Islam in a few paragraphs in a rapid survey of world religions. We are already seeing a small number of Catholic youths converting to Islam. We need serious and substantial Catholic reflections about Christianity and Islam online.
A key component of the new apologetic vis-à-vis Islam, I believe, is personal
contact. A first step in charting the course for the future in these challenging waters is to make every effort to establish contact with followers of Islam who live in or near your communities. Share your stories of faith. In this way, both groups – Christians and Muslims – have a human face.”

Rapid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity (Part 2 of 3) - July 9, 2006

By Bishop Edward K. Braxton, the Bishop of Belleville, Illinois.

Islam, as taught by Muhammad in the Qur'an, a work Muslims believe is the inspired literal word of God, is built upon five duties called the Five Pillars.

• The Creed (Shahada): “There is no god but Allah and Muhammed is his messenger.”

• Prayer (Salat): Faithful Muslims pray a standardized set of prayers five times a day.

• Alms-Giving (Zakat): Once a year based upon their income Muslims must give alms for the poor.

• Fasting (Swam): Throughout the daylight hours of the lunar month of Ramadan, observant Muslims must fast.

• Pilgrimage (Haj): If they can, all Muslims must go on pilgrimage once in their lifetime to Mecca .

Since Muhammad was both a political and a spiritual leader, the “Islamic Way” or “Shariah,” derived from the Qur'an and other Islamic texts, has led to the Shariah Law which governs the way modern Islam interacts with the non-Islamic world. Like Christianity, Islam has a vision of how people should live in this world, and it strives to create social and political structures in which people live according to this vision, sometimes down to the last detail.

Most (95%) of all Muslims are Sunni Muslims who believe that their leaders should be chosen by consultation and consensus. A small (3%) group called Shiite Muslims believe that only direct descendants of Muhammad can be Muslim leaders. Both groups embrace the Five Pillars. But they differ significantly on how Muslims should live in religiously and politically pluralistic societies.

The Islamic community is growing rapidly in Europe . There are several million Muslims in the United States , substantial numbers in many metropolitan areas. And their numbers continue to grow. In time Islam may well be a major force in this country. I enjoyed and continue to enjoy an excellent relationship with Ahmed El-Mamlouk , the Imam of the growing Muslim community in Lake Charles . He is a gracious man steeped in Islamic wisdom from the School of Alexandria in Egypt . Well over two million American Muslims worship at mosques each week. There have been disputes in some cities about the call to prayer broadcast from the minarets of mosques ‘imposing” Islam on Christians and counter arguments that church bells “impose” Christianity on Muslims.

Since Islam has no worldwide central authority, fragmentation and sectarianism are not uncommon. This may be especially the case regarding the issue of how faithful Muslims should live in pluralistic, democratic societies like the United States , which sanctions no state religion and which welcomes diverse religious traditions. Some Muslims prefer an Islamic state, like Iran or Saudi Arabia , where religious leaders who apply the Qur'an to everyday life making no distinction between secular and religious life hold the highest political positions. This is a part of the current difficulty in forming a new government in Iraq .

One very austere Islamic sect called Wahhabism (started by Muhammed bin Abd al-Wahhab (1703-87), the co-founder of Saudi Arabia ) calls for the strictest interpretation of the Qur'an. Its followers reject what they see as the materialistic, self-indulgent secularism of western (especially American) culture. It is the Wahhabi sect from Saudi Arabia that has shaped the violent extremism of Osama bin Laden. to be continued...

Raid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity (Part 1 of 3) - JULY 2, 2006

I hope all of you are enjoying the slower pace of summer. As you all are reading this I am away on vacation. In my absence I am leaving you with remarks of a bishop friend of mine. Bishop Edward K. Braxton is the Bishop of Belleville, Illinois. During my student days we were together at the University of Louvain. Recently he addressed the National Catholic Education Association in Atlanta. His theme was Catholic Education and the New Apologetics. A major part of his address concerned the rapid growth of Islam. Over the next 3 weeks his remarks will be in the Pondering section of the bulletin. I believe it would be helpful for all of us to have a basic knowledge of Islam.

Father Bob, JULY 2, 2006

“Raid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity”

“After that terrible day Sept. 11, 2001, many American Catholics asked themselves the question, What do we know about Islam? Some acknowledged that about all they knew was that it was the religion of Osama bin Laden and the terrorists.

Since then a day has not passed when Islam, a major world religion, has not been in the news. The children in our Catholic schools and in our parish schools of religion and our confirmation candidates, along with their teachers and their parents, are wondering about Islam. The rapid unfolding of events in the world has made it abundantly clear that we need to do much more than wonder. We need to learn.

When I was pastor in a suburb of Chicago, an eighth grader from our parish school whose uncle had converted to Islam had an urgent question. “Is it true that Our Lady of Fatima is an Islamic name?” I said, “Our Lady of Fatima celebrates the 1917 apparition of Mary in a city in Portugal. Because the name of the city is Fatima, Mary became known as ‘Our Lady of Fatima.’” I told him the name Fatima however, does have Islamic origins. It is an Arabic word,
not Portuguese. After the spread of Islam from North Africa to Portugal, the city was named Fatima, honoring the Daughter of Muhammad, the prophet of Allah and the founder of Islam, who was born in Mecca, in present-day Saudi Arabia in 570 A.D.

He said, “I never heard that before!”

Most Catholics may be aware that the Catholic Church is the largest Christian community in the world, with over 1.1 billion members. However, there is a great deal about Islam that they have never heard before. They may not be aware that there are over 1 billion followers of Islam as well. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are sometimes referred to as Abrahamic faith traditions because all three trace their roots to the patriarch Abraham, who worshiped God alone, and not many gods. This monotheism was something radically new in the Middle East.

When we ponder the belief that there is only one God, we realize that Yahweh, the God of Israel, Abba Father, the God of Jesus Christ, and Allah, the God of Islam are the SAME God, since there is only one God. Judaism does not have a god, Christianity another and Islam still another. If the God in whom the three Abrahamic faith traditions believe is God, then the faith traditions do not have God. God has us!

This affirmation does not mean that there are not profound, irreconcilable differences in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, about the divine nature. Differing about how God is God (for example, the Trinity, the incarnation) is not the same as affirming different gods.

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, recounts many narratives featuring Old Testament figures like Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Solomon and David. The Quran also reveres the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus Christ, acknowledging his miraculous birth and resurrection though not his divinity. Muhammad, unlike some radical extremist Islamic groups today, taught that Muslims must treat Jews and Christians in their countries as guests, not enemies. The followers of Islam believe that God’s revelation did not end in Christianity. They believe Judaism and Christianity are extended and fulfilled in Islam...” (to be continued)

Instruction on the Eucharist - JUNE 18, 2006

Implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal & Instruction on the Eucharist

In his Encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia), Pope John Paul II wrote: “The Holy Eucharist stands at the center of the Church’s life and…is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history.” In his letter to the Priest of our Diocese, Bishop Tobin writes: “The implementation of these directives provides us with an opportunity, then, not only to review our liturgical practice, but also to renew our personal reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this ‘precious possession’ of the Church, and to encourage our people to a more active and vibrant participation in the holy mysteries.”

Norms Concerning the Assembly:

1. During the recitation of the Creed, all should bow their heads at the words:
“by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary
and became man.”

2. After the priest washes his hands, returns to the center of the Altar and says:
“Pray brethren…, all should STAND first and then respond: “May the
Lord accept…”

3. When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his/her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence, and then receives the Body of Christ.

Celebrate the spirit of Pentecost - JUNE 4, 2006

We celebrate this weekend the outpouring of the spirit. The spirit of Pentecost brings us a multitude of gifts; love, forgiveness, peace, joy, courage, wisdom. Luke describes the Spirit in terms of a driving wind that unified the many languages of the human family.
In his book A Cry for Mercy Henri Nouwen writes this about Pentecost:
“The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to his followers, is the great gift of God. Without the Spirit of Jesus, we can do nothing, but, in and through His Spirit, we can have free, joyful and courageous lives. We cannot pray, but the Spirit of Christ can pray in us. We cannot create peace and joy, but the Spirit of Christ can fill us with a peace and joy which is not of this world. We cannot break through the many barriers which divide races, sexes and nations, but the Spirit of Jesus unites all people in the all-embracing love of God. The Spirit of Christ burns away our many fears and anxieties and sets us free to move wherever we are sent. That is the great liberation of Pentecost.”

In my short time among you I have witnessed many manifestations of the Holy Spirit. People come together to share their time, talent and treasure. Community is created when people give of themselves to others. Last weekend we dedicated the plaque in the garden to Fr. William Jenkinson. We are grateful for the many gifts he shared with St. Luke’s parish. A big thank you to the Ramos family who erected the stone and also to Kathy LaRiviere, Rosemary Silva and Linda Baker who prepared the garden.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, JUNE 4, 2006

Jesus' healing ministry today - MAY 14, 2006

Next Sunday at the 11:30 a.m. liturgy, we will celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick. Following the mass there will be a luncheon in the church hall. Some of my favorite pastoral moments have been at such healing masses. I can remember as a young priest at Holy Trinity in Central Falls we would gather all our communion call people together on Columbus Day for a special mass. It was so important to communicate to our home bound that they are an important part of our parish family. At St. Luke’s we have a vibrant ministry of pastoral care. Over 20 Eucharistic ministers bring Holy Communion to the infirmed in nursing homes and private residences. We have a bereavement committee that reaches out to people who have lost loved ones. One of the most evident dimensions of Jesus ministries was healing. On almost every page of the New Testament Jesus reaches out to heal a sick person. Come and join us next Sunday as this healing ministry of Jesus continues in our contemporary parish setting. One final note; you do not need to be at death’s door to be anointed. People facing surgery or with a chronic condition can also be anointed.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, MAY 14, 2006

See Things From a New Perspective - APRIL 29, 2006

A very angry woman approached the receptionist’s desk at the eye doctor’s office.

“Someone stole my wig while I was having surgery yesterday,” she complained.

The doctor came out and tried to calm her down. “I assure you that no one on my staff would have done such a thing. Why do you think it was taken here?”

“Well,” she huffed, “after the operation I noticed that the wig I had on was ugly and cheap-looking.”

The surgeon said gently, “Ma’am, I think that means that your cataract operation was a success.”

This story in many ways is an Easter season story. At Easter we get a new set of lenses through which to see the world. We begin to see things from a new perspective as we recognize Christ in every moment, in every place, in every relationship. The disciples in today’s Gospel have their eyes opened as they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. During this season we have many opportunities to recognize Jesus in the midst. The Catholic Charity Drive invites us to recognize Jesus in the needy. Next week Patrick Moynihan from the Haitian project will tell us of a school in Haiti that educates young people from the poorest country in the western hemisphere. There are many ways for us to have our eyes opened in the Easter season.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, APRIL 29, 2006

The Desert will Bloom - Easter APRIL 16, 2006

It brings me great joy to celebrate my first Easter with you. Easter is filled with so many messages that bring life. Here is one of my favorite Easter images.
In southeastern California there is a 282-foot gorge they call Death Valley. It is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere and the hottest as well. It has gotten as high as 134 degrees. Less than two inches of rain fall in the valley each year and whatever streams are created evaporate immediately.

Several years ago, however, the barren waste-land received an amazing nineteen straight days of rain. Suddenly the bone-dry earth came to life. Seeds that had been dormant for years burst into bloom and Death Valley became, at least for a while, a misnomer. One of my favorite images comes from the Advent season where it says that desert will bloom.

This analogy of Death Valley is a powerful symbol of Easter. By virtue of Jesus’ saving death and resurrection, all that was dead now lives. Beauty transcends the ugly. I’m sure that if we look at our lives we can identify with the barren seeds lying dead on the floor of Death Valley. Our world seems dead because of despair, violence, addiction and brokenness. Easter is a time to roll back the stone in our lives that prevents us from loving. Through the water of Baptism sin and death are conquered; we are called today to embrace life and turn away from death.

In Romans we hear it said that death had no more power over Jesus. It is the same in our lives. Depression has no more power over us. Addiction has no more power over us. Violence has no more power over us.

The Russian Orthodox people have a wonderful custom of enjoying big meals on the day after Easter. They sit around and tell jokes. They tell jokes to remember the big joke God played on Satan. Satan thought he had won on Good Friday. Jesus was put on trial, whipped and crucified. It was the triumph of death and darkness. But then on Easter God rose His Son from the dead. Let us rejoice in this wonderful “joke” this Easter. “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

Fr. Bob Hawkins Easter APRIL 16, 2006

Celebrate the Central Mysteries of our Faith - APRIL 9, 2006

The Palm Sunday begins recalling the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Then and now Jerusalem is a war zone where there is little peace or security. Factions exist everywhere as retaliation and revenge are the order of the day. Yet there is a bit of Jerusalem in all of us. We maintain our grudges, we withhold justice, we return tit for tat, evil for evil, insult for insult. Yet Jesus still comes as he desires to enter our Jerusalems. Instead of revenge Jesus wants to teach, forgive and heal us. Holy Week is about our call to respond to the heroic love of Jesus. Paul reminds us that Jesus emptied Himself of power and diversity and took the form of a servant. We too then are called to empty ourselves of resentment, grudges, and selfishness. During this week we celebrate the central mysteries of our faith. Come and be a part of the Triduum as we welcome new members to our community of faith, witness Jesus washing the feet of His disciples, venerate the cross, renew our baptismal promises and are fed at the table of the Lord. It brings me great joy to experience Holy Week for the first time here at St. Luke’s.

Fr. Bob Hawkins APRIL 9, 2006

Return to God empty-handed - APRIL 1, 2006

One of our Lenten practices is almsgiving. Recently I read an article by Margaret Silf that gave me a new insight into this practice. She once interviewed a South African woman who ran an orphanage for children whose parents had fallen victim to HIV/AIDS. The woman was asked what she wanted to achieve. She responded,

“…When I meet my maker I want to have used up, totally and completely, every gift I have been given. I want to return to God empty-handed, when I have spent all God gave me. Then I’ll be ready to go home...”

So often we think of almsgiving as the giving of our monetary resources. This woman reminds us that there is more to almsgiving than that. If we are true givers we give all of our energy to the Kingdom of God. We expend ourselves in God’s service. This is true almsgiving.

Fr. Bob Hawkins APRIL 1, 2006

A Snake Crawls into a Sleeping Man's Mouth - MARCH 26, 2006

There is a story from the Sufi tradition about a holy man who sees a snake crawl into a sleeping man's mouth. The holy man screams at the man, makes him eat rotten apples, even beats him until the man eventually vomits up the snake. The snake is a symbol of all the destructive patterns present in our life. In Lent we try to address these patterns. Linda Sheehan wrote an article in America entitled, "Polluted." While few of us are major sinners, still subtle evil exists in our lives. She writes:

"The nagging suspicion grows. Why can't we shake destructive patterns? Why do we keep yelling at the children about stuff that doesn't matter? Why do we spend hours watching television instead of working on the career change that would make us a better person? Why do we hurt the same people over and over? We never settle for less comfort. Why do we always settle for less kindness and honor and compassion?"

In Lent we practice the age old disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do this to combat the snake. The snake within wants too much food. We don't eat too much. The snake wants more money, more possessions, more control. We fast, give to the Rice Bowl, sacrifice for others. The snake wants our relationships neglected. We work on them. Ultimately in Lent we draw closer to Jesus who is the one in our tradition who helps us expel the snake and live holy lives.

Fr. Bob Hawkins MARCH 26, 2006

Come Aside and Rest for Awhile - MARCH 19, 2006

Missions are always grace filled times for parishes. We spend a lot of time and energy organizing committees. Parishes are concerned about temporal affairs; state of buildings, future capital projects, strategic planning goals. Yet at its core a parish is about fostering the spiritual growth of its members. This year we have seen growth in the spiritual development of different age groups in the parish; the men’s fellowship, young mother’s group, and the RCIA process. During Lent we offer a mission to see to the overall growth of spirituality in the parish. Father Frank O’Hara has been a parish priest for over 45 years. He has worked with the Renew program, Cursillo movement and other similar endeavors that have fostered the spiritual growth of parishes. For nine years he was my partner at St. Kevin’s as we strived to become a Stewardship parish. Join me in welcoming him here to St. Luke’s this week. His theme will be “Come Aside and Rest for Awhile.” On Monday different styles of prayer will be highlighted. On Tuesday we take a look at the precious gift of the
Eucharist. Finally on Wednesday we will have a chance to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fr. Bob Hawkins MARCH 19, 2006

Everything except Mass was cancelled due to snow - FEBRUARY 19, 2006

I arrived back from my scheduled vacation late last Friday afternoon. As usual there was a mountain of mail to read and a litany of phone calls to return. Then Sunday’s snow arrived and I had a different kind of a vacation. I called it an “enforced vacation”. With the snow everything, except Mass was cancelled. I really enjoyed settling into the quiet and the peace of the day. Every once in a while I would look out my window and see the snow swirling around in the wind. The phone and the doorbell were quiet. A little nap followed by reading the Sunday paper with a cup of tea was in order. Finally I worked up the energy to attend to my cluttered desk. In late afternoon I prayed, caught up on the forecast from the Weather Channel and started to think about dinner. Father Matt came by and we had a leisurely dinner with no meeting to run off too.
In our busy lives days like last Sunday are so much needed. We spend so much of our lives trying to keep pace. Every once in a while a weather event reminds us that God is in charge of our lives and not us. It is a joy to give up control and to letGod be God. A pleasant Sabbath was had by all.

Fr. Bob Hawkins, FEBRUARY 19, 2006

Qualities Needed in Today’s Priests - FEBRUARY 12, 2006

Recently Pope Benedict XVI spoke of qualities needed in today’s priests. He highlighted a love of truth, a desire to proclaim Christ and dedication to the suffering. Here are some excerpts:

1) “To respond to the expectations of modern society, to cooperate with great evangelizing action
which involves all Christians, prepared and courageous priests are needed who, without
ambitions and fears, but convinced of the gospel truth, are concerned above all with proclaiming Christ.”

2) “Priests must be willing to bow before human sufferings, making everyone, especially the
poor and those going through difficulties, feel the consolation of the love of God and the warmth
of the ecclesial family.”

Both Father Matt and I ask that you pray that we be such priests for you here at St. Luke’s. Thank you for your supportive presence which gives us both so much energy.
Fr. Bob Hawkins FEBRUARY 12, 2006

The Work of Human Hands - JANUARY 29, 2006

One of the important parts of the liturgy is the Offertory. In this part of the mass we offer to God our gifts, “the work of human hands”. These gifts include bread, wine and our material offerings. God takes these gifts and through the power of His Holy Spirit transforms them into the Body and Blood of Christ. This is a powerful reminder that any time we give of ourselves we receive so much more in return. Recently at St. Luke’s we have tried to re-enact this powerful dynamic by using the hosts that have been consecrated at that particular mass. The hosts present in the tabernacle are reserved for those in our community who are sick and homebound. The tabernacle is called the altar of reservation. It can be difficult to know exactly how many hosts to consecrate at every mass. So it will take some time for us to perfect this practice.

Also this weekend we dedicate our new pulpit and baptismal font in memory of Father Jenkinson. This will complete the church’s renovation from a few years back. A big thank you to Thomas and Roberta Coyne whose donation made the font possible. May the baptism font remind us that we are all God’s children.

Fr. Bob Hawkins JANUARY 29, 2006

Forty days to change our lives - JANUARY 22, 2006

For the first reading today the people of Ninevah have forty days to mend their ways. In other words the call to conversion sometimes is very imminent in our lives. What would we do if we had only forty days to change our lives? Some might take the forty days and use it for an extended retreat. Others might try to break a few bad habits and/or adopt a few good ones. Some may use that time to mend those relationships that have cooled because of pride, selfishness, stubbornness, etc. Given forty days we might become bold enough to rid ourselves of an old grudge or a deep seated prejudice. Some of us might pick up the Bible and ponder the biblical call to be people of justice. With forty days some might choose to go on a pilgrimage to a holy place. As we look into our lives, what changes in our lives is the Lord calling us to?
Fr. Bob Hawkins JANUARY 22, 2006

Feast of the Lord’s Baptism - JANUARY 15, 2006

This year the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism is not celebrated on a Sunday, due to Christmas and New Years being on a Sunday. The feast this year occurred on a Monday. I cannot let this important feast go by without some comments. Several years ago I gave a homily about a runner named Stefano Baldini. In the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta he finished dead last in the 10,000 meter race. As a matter of fact several runners in the race actually lapped him. While he was running the last mile, the times of the other runners were already being tabulated. Yet he ran the last mile in his quickest time. The announcer said: “Stefano Baldini’s time has been going down every mile.” When he finished the race the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
I tell this story because I believe there should be more stories about finishing a task in our culture. Go to any bookstore, and you will find countless self-help books about starting things: a diet, a business, a relationship, etc. Everyone wants to write about starting the journey. Yet do we find the strength to keep going when the journey is difficult?
The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of a great race for him. He was called to proclaim God’s unconditional love and mercy. This was no 100 meter race. Instead it would demand all the staying power of a marathon runner. He would have to deal with rejection, betrayal and eventual crucifixion.
As we look at our baptism we realize that what was required of Jesus is also required of us. Millions
are baptized and begin the journey, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. So many people find it easy to drop out when prayers aren’t answered as the journey becomes arduous. Staying power is vital. This Sunday we welcome six infants into our faith in the saving waters of baptism. We pray for the parents of these children. They are called to be the first and the best teachers in the ways of faith.
Fr. Bob Hawkins JANUARY 15, 2006

Homilies, Hymns, Hospitality, Holy Eucharist - JULY 24, 2005

A while back I read an article about successful parish communities. The author spoke of qualities that are evident in vibrant parishes. He referred to them as the 4 H’s; homilies, hymns, hospitality and Holy Eucharist. Using these as touchstones I would like to set out on a vision for St. Luke’s parish.

Homilies: I love to preach the word of God. I find it a challenge to apply the word of God to everyday life. It’s important that the word connects to our experience. Paul says in Hebrews: “the word is alive and active, sharper than a two edged sword.” I pledge, along with Fr. Matt, to take the preaching ministry of our church seriously.

Hymns: The old saying, “the one who sings prays twice” is so true. Let us sing a joyful song to the Lord here at St. Luke’s. Vibrant, active participation in the celebrations of the Eucharist is vital to building up the people of God.

Hospitality: Already I can tell you are a hospitable parish. The opening reception of a few weeks back shows you enjoy being together as a community. I look forward to receptions, picnics, and dinners here at St. Luke’s. Let us also greet each other warmly as we gather for worship each week

Holy Eucharist: We are a Eucharistic people who gather to celebrate the real presence of Christ in our midst. Let us allow Christ to do to us what he does to the bread on the altar. May He take us, bless us break us and share us with others.
Fr. Bob Hawkins JULY 24, 2005