Monday, June 29, 2015

Farewell Father Martello


For my homily this week, I'd like to post an excerpt from Father Martello's Farewell Mass held at St. Joseph Parish in Amherst this past Sunday, June 28th.

Well, it is with great joy that we are here and we have Father Martello here with us to celebrate his retirement mass for all of his years of service. For Father Martello's last mass here, please turn your cell phones off and ringers off at this time. We are so glad and delighted to celebrate this. We have Father Weber here with us, and our Deacon as well, Deacon Dan. So as we begin to celebrate this celebration, we take a moment and call to mind our sins, and we ask the Lord to grant us his pardon and peace.... 

Well, buddy, it's here. Who would have thought; who would have thought that I would get to be here for this, and who would have thought you would be retiring? A lot can change in six months' time. 

Farewell to Father Martello
My first memory of Father Martello, while I would like to say it was in my home parish as he was at Holy Family in Parma, but he left in '77, and I was born in '79 -so I actually don't remember him from my home parish. However, over the years he would come back and I would get to experience him and know him -but I really didn't know him well; I knew of him and I knew of his legend. I didn't really know him until I actually came here to St. Joseph. 

The first time we really began to know each other was about a week before I started my assignment -you come and you meet the parish and you meet the pastor and the staff. When I walked into the office the first thing I saw was Father Martello's picture, his portrait, on the office wall. As I walked in, the door opened and Father Martello came and he gave me a big bear hug and I knew I was home. I felt like, from that first moment of meeting him, that I was going to be truly welcome here and at home here. You have made this really a home for me, Father Martello. So I thank you for that! As parishioners, I know that he's done that for many of you too. He has made this a home for all of you for the last 26 years. 

I think about that need that we all have to be touched, the need that we all have to feel love. In the Gospel, we hear two experiences of this. One is a woman who touches Jesus and another is one who Jesus touches. 

The woman who touches Jesus is just yearning, she reaches out for Him and she gets this notion that if I could just touch the cloak or His tassel, I could be healed. So amidst of this whole crowd swarming around Jesus and pressing upon Him, somehow or another she manages to get through and touch Him. At that moment she's healed, and the power drains out of Jesus. He feels the power come out of Him through touch. 

The other moment is when Jairus asks Jesus to come visit his daughter. He says to Jesus, "If you could just touch my daughter, she would be healed."  And Jesus responds, "Do not be afraid. Just have faith." As a father, Jairus had this longing to have Jesus touch his daughter, to lay His hands on her so that she may be healed. We all have this sense of the power of touch and the healing that it could do. 

I've seen this especially in the last six months. As Father Martello has been in and out of the hospital and rehab, he's been so good to me and allowing me to care for him. At one point he said, "I'm so sorry you have to do this." And I said then, and I say now, what a privilege. What a privilege it is to be able to care for a brother priest. In some small way, I've been able to care for him. Of course there are others helping much more than I, but what a privilege it is to be able to care someone you love. 

DSC_0078.JPGI think about your hands, Father Martello, and all the Sacraments that you performed over the years. Just think for a moment about the countless children that he has baptized; the countless times that he's laid hands on someone for confession; the countless times he's anointed. There were times in the last six months that I've anointed him, that I've laid hands on him and blessed him. And there's even times I've asked him to anoint me and to pray with and over me, to calm my anxieties. He's been such a wonderful pastor to me and a wonderful pastor to all of us. 

I think about this touch. God gave us the Sacraments, ultimately, so he could touch us. God wants us to know what His touch feels like. At some point throughout our lives, I think we all encounter a moment where we wish we could be physically touched by God; we wish we could be held by God; we wish God would sometimes come and give us a hug when we are going through a rough time; we wish God had skin so that He could actually touch us. 

We find that in the Sacraments we do, each and every Sacrament involves touch. Think about a baptism. The priest actually takes the child into his hands and pours the water over the infant. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  Some of you as adults got to experience that with Father Martello through the wonderful work that he did with RCIA. At the end of every confession, the priests lays hands on the penitents and says, "I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."  I think about the power of touch. At that moment, I know Father Martello would see, just as me, a person's body relax and release as the Holy Spirit comes over them. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, our source and summit, the priest's hands pick up the bread and wine, and in those very hands they transform into the body and blood of Christ. The married couples that he has blessed over the years. The priest's hands are extended over them in blessing. And then I think about the final burial- the hands are there to touch the casket, and to comfort the family members. 

Over the years, 25 of them here at St. Joe's, Father Martello has baptized 945 people; he sat in the confessional for over 945 hours; he has given children 2,196 First Communions; he's seen over 1,354 Confirmed; and he has married 270 couples -all just here at St. Joseph. He has even had a newly ordained priest with Father Joe Warner and laid hands over priests. Father Martello has celebrated over 9,126 masses here at St. Joe's, and he's probably buried many of your loved ones. Over all of these times, I think about God's touch, God's beautiful touch through Father Martello's hands -which is why, I want to end with a poem called "The Beautiful Hands of the Priest." 

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest
We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek it while tasting life's woes. 
When we come to this world we are sinful,
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hands that make us pure as angels
Are the beautiful hands of a priest. 
At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness
Their dignity stands alone. 
For there in the stillness of morning
Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
There God rests between the pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of a priest. 
When we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and sin
'Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
Not once but again and again. 
And when we are taking life's partner
Other hands may prepare us a feast
But the hands that will bless and unite us,
Are the beautiful hands of a priest. 
God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress,
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask Him who chose them to bless 
When the death dews on our lids are falling,
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised o'er us in blessing
The beautiful hands of a priest.

Father Martello, we thank you for all the times that you have touched us and blessed us, and we thank you for the many times that your hands have been the ones that have brought the body of Christ into this world. Through your hands, we have experienced the Sacraments. We thank you very much for your years of service, not only here at St. Joe's, but throughout the Diocese of Cleveland.

Friday, June 26, 2015

“Quiet! Be still!”

“Quiet! Be still!”Watching my nieces and the rule was "only one of you can cry"  and they listened!

Quite a few years ago I was babysitting my three nieces.  They were all under the age of ten and it was the first time I watched them alone.

It was all great fun at first.  We spent some time playing in the front yard kicking a soccer ball around.  One of the girls got very upset and was feeling left out.  She started to cry so I took her in and held her trying to calm her and assure her I loved her and we all loved her.  She was just sobbing in my arms.

Moments later another one must have gotten hurt because she came in screaming and crying as she walked through the garage door.  I didn't know what to do at that point and didn't know how to handle two crying kids.  So in order to have some order (and without much thought), I firmly stated with surprising confidence and serenity: "Uncle Mike has a new rule.  Only one of you can cry at a time!"  To my absolute amazement they BOTH stopped crying.  I think they were both shocked to have such a strange rule!  I was surprised because I felt little control but all of a sudden they listened to me!

It is still a story we tell from time to time and laugh about what an absurd rule that was but said with authority, it worked!

In Mark's Gospel we witness the authority and power of Jesus' voice.

As the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat with Jesus, a "violent squall came" so great that "waves were breaking over the boat" and it began filling up with water.  This was a serious storm and the disciples were understandably panicked.  For some reason Jesus was asleep in the stern on a cushion.  He must have been exhausted and sleeping very comfortably and soundly!

I imagine the disciples all screaming in panic trying to wake him up: "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"

Something very interesting happens here.  Jesus wakes up and said to the sea, "Quiet, Be still!"  And would you believe it?  The sea listened.  He must have spoke so strongly and with such great authority that the storm stopped, the wind ceased, and there was great calm!

Imagine the power and authority of his words.

Now think about it, if just Jesus' speaking can rebuke the wind, calm the storm, and even more so calm his disciples -can't he do the same for us?

Jesus has power over all of creation - including you!   He can calm you!  

Just as my nieces stopped crying at my command how much more powerful is Jesus' command?

I think of this especially when we are going through difficult times, when we are anxious and affraid.  Turn to him and say "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing!"  Because sometimes it doesn't seem like God does care, sometimes it doesn't seem like he is even there.  But He is.... and He waits... for us to wake Him up and ask Him for help. 

I think it's often like this in our own prayer lives as well.  I think there are many times when we sit down to pray and find our minds so distracted, our thoughts racing, our emotions raging, and our temptation is to try and calm the storm ourselves.  We try to calm our minds, or our thoughts, or not think about the things that anger or frustrate us... but how well does that work?

The reality is that only Jesus has the authority to calm the storms in us.  And again if he could calm the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee I think he can handle you and me.  

So the next time you find yourself in a storm either in your life or relationships, or simply in prayer, WAKE HIM UP!   Tell him you are perishing.  Tell Jesus you are struggling and you can't handle it and you need his help. 

You will find that even more than my voice had with my nieces, His authority will bring peace.  

Let Him command all the voices and emotions and feelings as He strongly, courageously, and with authority proclaims: "Quiet, Be Still!"  

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Reflection for Father's Day

A Reflection for Father's Day
When I was at St. Barnabas we had a parishioner,  by the name of Joe Russo who was a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and was very well known throughout the Diocese. He was a very active member of the parish, a loving husband, a father, grandfather, and he greatly loved and supported his priests. He was super Italian… he treated everyone like family. It was often said that he had a million friends. He had that quality of making everyone that walked into his life feel special. I was one of them.

Joe was one of the biggest affirmers of my priesthood. He was always affirming me, encouraging me, telling me how proud he was of me. And at one point he said to me… Father, I love you like you are a son to me, if you ever need anything, I won’t say no. And he meant it. Time and time again, anything I asked him for he either did himself or rallied and excited people to get involved in. At one point he gave me a new name… Joe has three sons: Rocco, Dino, and Gino and his grandsons name is Mossimo… so he gave me the name Miko. His family now calls me their brother Miko.

If you’ve ever had someone like this in your life that loved you like a father, took you into his family, gave you a new name, affirmed you, delighted in you… than you have a glimpse of what God desires to do for you. 2nd Samuel portrays this so wonderfully: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” God looks at us like this… he wants to bring us into his family, give us a new name in confirmation, love us like we are his own and delight in everything we do. You do have a father like this in God, you are a son to him, you are a daughter to him… he is your father. Delight in knowing that you are the child of our Father in Heaven!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

"This is My Body. This is My Blood." : The Miracle of Transubstantiation

"This is My Body. This is My Blood.": The Miracle of Transubstantiation

As we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi: The celebration of the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ. We have this wonderful gift to have Christ present to us, in essence and in reality, the fullness in his divinity, right here on the altar today.

One of my favorite reflections on this is actually by our former Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. He talks about the real presence in the Eucharist, and he gives us a kind of modern day understanding of it.

By His command, do this in remembrance of Me. Jesus asks us to respond to His gift and make it sacramentally present. When Jesus said this 2,000 years ago, he was not only asking, but commanding us, and giving us the authority, and the power to make His presence sacramentally present here at the altar. Body and Blood. Sole and Divinity.

In these words the Lord expresses, as it were, His expectation of the Church, born of His sacrifice, that we will receive this gift, developing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the liturgical form that we have today in the sacrament of the Eucharist. The remembrance of His perfect gift consists not in the mere repetition of the Last Supper --so we are not just repeating the Last Supper here -- but in the Eucharist itself, that is, a radical newness of Christian worship.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, there is a radical newness of Christ coming into the world.

In this way, Jesus left us the task of entering into His hour. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' self-oblation or sacrifice. More than just statically receiving the incarnate logos, we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving. Jesus, right now, draws us to Himself around the altar. The substantial conversion of bread and wine into His Body and Blood introduces within Christian principles a radical change.

During this moment of every mass, you are experiencing a miracle that is beyond miracles.

He goes on to call this a sort of "nuclear fission," to use an image that we are familiar with today, which penetrates to the hearts of all being. In nuclear fission, these particles are broken down, and a new creation takes place. Then out of this process, it explodes into this energy.

If you know anything about nuclear power, it is a million times more powerful than power that you get from gasoline or anything like that.

So "to use an image familiar today," he says, "which penetrates the heart of it is a change that is meant to set off a process which transforms reality."

On this altar, we have this explosion of energy which sets forth a process and a transforming of all reality. A process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all.

As the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward to the altar, and the priest lays hands over them, he says the words of Christ, "This is My Body. This is My Blood." Then the nuclear fission happens, that transformation happens, where the bread and wine become the Body and Blood. It becomes an explosion of grace. Not only does it explode to all of you who are here at the altar, like the blood sprinkled upon you, but your community too is going to be transformed, because you are going to walk out there today as the Body of Christ. All over the country that is going to happen today. All over the world that is going to happen today. This nuclear fission. This explosion of God's grace and energy comes forth into the world at every celebration of the Eucharist.

I am going to quote just a couple of things from the Catechism and some of my favorite sayings.

St. John Chrysostom wrote:
“It is by this conversion of bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood, that Christ becomes present in the sacrament. It is a true presence. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the Faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ, and of the action of the Holy Spirit, to bring about this conversion.” 
“It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He who was crucified for us, Christ Himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is My Body”, he says. This word transforms these things offered.

St. Ambrose says about this conversion: 
"Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing, nature itself is changed. Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before?”

Think about it. Christ's Word, at the beginning of the universe, created the heavens and the Earth out of nothing. He brought all of creation into existence out of nothing by His Word. Could not His same word transform this bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.

The Council of Trent summarizes:

"Because Christ, our Redeemer, said that it was truly His Body that He was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this Holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ, and our Lord and the whole substance of the wine, into the substance of His blood. This change, the Holy Catholic Church has fittingly, and properly, called Transubstantiation.”

Jesus awaits us in the sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go and to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and to make amends for any serious offenses that we may have. Let our adoration never cease.

St. Thomas says that:

"This is the sacrament of the true Body and Blood of Christ, and it is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses, but only by Faith."

St. Cyril says:

"Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in Faith, for since He is truth, He cannot lie."

Our Lord Jesus said this very clearly to us: "This is My Body and this is My Blood." And yet I know this is one of the most doubted things in the Catholic Faith. One of the things that many Catholics struggle with is the reality and the belief in the true presence.

All I really wanted to do today is just help articulate that, to reaffirm that we do believe; that we do believe the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ; that in the sacrament, we experience the true presence of Jesus.

And finally, I am going to close with a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. 
 "Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore, Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more, See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art. Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived: How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed; What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do; Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true." 

Please take a moment now just to pray for an increase of Faith, to pray for an increase of belief that we truly are receiving the true presence, the Body and Blood of Christ. If this is something that you struggle with or doubt, just ask God to give you the grace to experience it today, to have a felt experience of His true presence.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trinity Homily Painting Commencement Homily

Looking for inspiring art work as I prepare for my homily for Trinity Sunday

 It is so wonderful to have our graduates here with us, especially to celebrate and give thanks to God for what He has accomplished in our lives. As I look out at you, I just can't wait to see what He is going to do with the rest of your lives. I know that will come through your continuance, and only come through your continuance, of your deepening, relationship with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That is what we celebrate today. This great Feast Day of the Holy Trinity. Usually this is a day where priests dread preaching because we have to preach about this mystery of the Trinity: one God and three persons. And pretty much anything that we say is going to be a heresy. So I am going to try to avoid any jjjjheresy today and really help us understand this relationship of God.

That is what the Trinity really is: the essence of a relationship.

For the high school students, especially as you go into your lives, my hope and my prayer is that you have developed this relationship with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy Spirit.

The truth is, growing up Catholic, we oftentimes only have one relationship. Usually we are with one of the persons of the Trinity. Sometimes when we go to prayer, we are pretty comfortable praying with one of the persons. I just want to get an informal survey here. I want you to raise your hand one time and try to think about when you go to prayer. Who is your go-to person of the Trinity? When you go to pray, who do you normally pray with, the Father? The Son? The Holy Spirit?

We will start with the Father. First of all, when you go to pray, how many of you pray only to the Father? Raise your hand if you do that. Maybe about a quarter of the people, maybe less.

How many of you, when you go to pray, you pray to the Son? Raise your hand. And you are praying for somebody here.

How many of you, when you pray, you pray only to the Holy Spirit when you go to prayer? Raise your hand for the Holy Spirit. One, two, three, four. So the Holy Spirit is a little bit neglected.

But you know, I say this in all honesty because growing up, I only knew really how to pray to Jesus. He was the one I prayed to, and I was a little bit afraid of the Father and the Holy Spirit. I did not really understand the Holy Spirit or how to pray to Him. But the truth is, they are the three persons of the Trinity. So we are called to know and relate to each one of them in a very personal way.

For me, it did not happen until I went into the seminary and made my first eight-day retreat. The spiritual director asked me the same question. He said, "Who do you pray to?" And I said, "Jesus." And he said, "Well, I want you to ask Jesus to teach you and to tell you about what His Father is like and to tell you what the Holy Spirit is like." And that opened up for me this whole experience of praying with the Holy Spirit. You know I love God the Father, the Prodigal Father, and also this experience. I just want to you think about that.

First of all, who are you comfortable praying with? Then ask that person of the Trinity to introduce you, now, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As I was preparing for this, I started reading commentaries. I started reading some of the theological writings on the Trinity. And the more I began reading, the more confused I got. The more I thought, I thought I could never preach. I cannot use some of the theological statements and three logical understandings of the Trinity because you would all be bored to death.

I decided I would go to the Cleveland Art Museum and try to find a piece of artwork. If you haven't been to our art museum, it is amazing. They are done with their renovating. They have been renovating for eight years. It is absolutely breathtaking. However, I didn't know where anything was, so I could not find the Christian art. I pulled out my phone and I spoke into it. I said, "Help me find a painting of the Trinity." And it told me Room Number 109. Then I went to Room Number 109, and I found this beautiful image of the Trinity. I will put it on my website. You can see it there later.

I found this beautiful image. There is something about it that I was so drawn to that I could not walk away. I was standing there for about 10 to 15 minutes just studying. Then I asked one of the museum people a question. "I would love to have a chair. Could I have a chair?" I did not know this, but they will bring you a chair. They brought me a chair, and I sat down in front of this painting. I sat there for an hour. I opened up the readings for today. I was so inspired, so inspired and so enriched by the reality of the Trinity; that we have the person of the Father, the person of the Son, and the person of the Holy Spirit. We are called to have this deep personal relationship with each one of Them. The more we come to know the Father, the more the Father is going to show us the Son; and the more we come to know the Son, the Son is going to send us the Holy Spirit; and we are going to come to know the Father. So by getting to know the persons of the Trinity, we get to know God more. I am just going to describe the painting for a little bit, just to give us a reflexion of God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus.

In the painting, to paint the picture for you, to give you a little imagination, it is one of those medieval paintings. It comes from the medieval times. There is the image of God the Father, and He has his arms out like this. He is holding the cross, and the cross is actually in His lap. It is kind of cool because it is sitting on His chest and it goes between His legs. He is holding the cross in His lap and His hands are like this on top of the wood. God the Father is looking straight out at you. That is what caught me about the painting. God the Father is just looking into your eyes. I think about God the Father now that I have come to know His love.

We hear in the second reading that the Father is known as Abba, Father, or Daddy. We are supposed to have this image of God the Father; that we can climb onto his lap. That this God the Father is always looking at us with great love. No matter what we do, He loves being there.


I think about you high school students. You have gone through everything. Even when you walked in graduation and commencement, you hoped your parents were there. You hoped they were watching you, right? You hope they are not, “not there” or if they are there, they are not reading the paper or something. That they could care less. But that they are totally interested in you.

Well, God the Father is completely interested in you. You have His undivided attention. He just cannot get enough of you. It is like that song from the "Jersey Boys," "You're just too good to be true. Can't take my eyes off of you." God is so in love with you and He delights in you! He wants to take in everything you do in life. The image in the painting, the Father's eyes are just so strongly gazing at you. Of course, He has the classic beard. He has the white beard and the white hair. He has kind of a face like this, you know.

My father is obviously older than I am, and sometimes he will say to me, "I don't feel comfortable praying to God the Father. I don't like God the Father." And I said, "Well, why, Dad?" And he says, "Well, the nuns always taught me that God the Father is kind of like, you know, He was always watching you and judging you. He was just waiting for you to do something wrong." I said, "Well, Dad, how old are you? Can't you grow up a little bit and realize that maybe the nuns didn't teach you the whole truth of God the Father?"

The reality is that we do have this Father, Daddy, or Abba who we can crawl onto his lap; that is just delighting in everything we do. He never takes His eyes off of us; not because He is watching us to see if we do something wrong, but because He cannot get enough of us. He is so interested in what we do.

I think about the graduates. He is just so interested now in what you are going to be doing with the rest of your life. He loves you and is there just to hold you and support you.

I think that is what it so cool about the images. The Father has the cross beams. He is holding His hands on the cross beams. It is almost like He is blessing Jesus and protecting Him. Even at the moment of His Son's death, He was there holding Him, blessing Him, and protecting Him. God the Father is with you in your life. He is blessing you. He is holding you. He is protecting you. No matter what happens in your life, no matter what suffering you are going through, he's there with you, protecting you and blessing you.

That is God the Father.


The second is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit we often see as a dove. In this image, it is a dove, too. It is amazing because the dove looks like it is just taking flight, and It is coming right out of the heart of the Father. Right out of the Father's chest comes the Holy Spirit. And it is in motion. I love this as an image for the person of the Holy Spirit. It is this energy. The Holy Spirit is usually imagined as a dove or as fire. This fire, this complete energy that wants to take hold of us and consume us.

One of my favorite titles for the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit has a number of titles) is counselor. The Holy Spirit is the counselor. If you think about life and if you think about people in your life that you want to model, that you want to become like, there are probably people that emulate qualities that you just love, well, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate. He is God. So He has these ultimate qualities.

What I want you to think about is, what are some of the qualities that you want to emulate? Think about the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I will read them very quickly. What are the gifts or the fruits that you would just love to emulate from this person of God? And the great thing about the Holy Spirit, the person of the Holy Spirit, is He wants to teach you them. He wants to gift you with them. All you have to do is spend time with them and then we tend to emulate them.

The first are the seven gifts. Think about what you would like: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

We hear that if you are children of God, then heirs of God, and then fellow heirs of Christ. You are heirs of these gifts. They are meant to be given to you. The Fruits of the Holy Spirit are: Charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.


We think about this: the Holy Spirit is in motion and the Holy Spirit is wanting to give you these gifts. It is like the heart of the Father is just coming out into you and the Holy Spirit is the counselor who wants to teach you and help you to use these gifts.

And finally, so we have God the Father there, you have the Holy Spirit coming out of His breast, and then out of that you have Jesus being held right there in the breast of the Father. What is interesting about this painting is Jesus, his eyes are normally looking at you and icons. But this time, it is the Father looking. The Father looking at you, and Jesus' head is down, and His eyes are closed. I think that must be the moment of His final commendation of His spirit.

Into your hands, I commend my spirit. He closed His eyes, and He breathed His last and He died. In that moment, I would think, I would hope, I would believe that He is praying. When He closes His eyes, He is in union with the Father and He is praying.

When we pray to Christ, He shows us how to be in union with the Father. The truth is, for all of us, no matter what is going on in our lives, when we close our eyes and we imagine being held by the Father; we become the beloved son and beloved daughter.


Also in the painting are the wounds. The five wounds of Christ; two in his hands, and the two in his feet. Then there is a wound in His side. And that, I believe, is our entrance. We enter in through the wounded side of Jesus.

Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." And it is ultimately through Him that we come to know the Father.

I invite you to think about that when you pray. Who do you pray to, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? And ultimately, we are called to know and to have an intimate and deep personal relationship with all three persons of the Trinity.

If you don't know one, like my father saying, "Well, I don't know them, the nuns never taught me about him," why don't you instead ask Jesus, say, "Tell me what the Father is like." Or ask the Holy Spirit or ask the Father, "What is the Holy Spirit like?" "Can you send Your Holy Spirit to me?" And do this as you go throughout your week and throughout your life. And as you do it, God is going to reveal Himself to you. It might be in a friendship that you see. It might be watching a grandfather with their grandchild. It might be in a sign as you are driving down the road. God will reveal Himself to you as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That is my hope and prayer for the graduates, especially as you go on into your life. You will continue to come back here and continue to know and love God deeper and deeper so that you may love the love of the Trinity and bring forth that love into our world. ​