What Is Your Treasure. October 20, 2014

Jesus tells the story about a man who decides to keep building barns to store
more grain to insure a brighter future. But what happens when the Lord calls him from this life to the next?
There is no insurance policy for death. It comes to each and every one of us when we least expect it. All the money in the world and the barns of storage one builds will prevent this inevitable passage in life.
Yes , death is a passage , a journey….a pilgrimage in which the destination point is a reality jesus refers to as the Kingdom. In this life as we journey we can make this kingdom a reality…a state of mind and heart , that lives in the present moment. Yes, we must make plans for our future but those plans can NEVER become our “treasure” because they assure us of nothing. The treasure is living love…

The treasure we have is living the commandment to Love God and neighbor. Love is the only thing we take with us in the passage from this life to the next. This Love is surrounded by the memories of those who have shared with us the journey in this life. And the One Memory of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ that we live and celebrate in every Liturgy and with every breath we take…transforms those memories into lived experiences, once again and forever. This is the greatest Treasure.
Buen Camimo. Fr. Frank

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The Mysterious Call of God. October 19, 2014

I am a person who gets lost easy , so the Camino experience is God calling me in the darkness, literally, to guide people who are lost. I was walking alone in absolute darkness early this morning when I came upon a young woman lost, looking for the actual camino. I did the best I could and pointed her toward the camino. Lo and behold, I saw her and a young man , about a half hour later , bewildered as to whether they were actually on the camino. I know what it’s like to be lost, carrying a 25 pound backpack and being filled with fear in a strange country.

I stopped and tried to point to actual yellow arrows and shells. So I had them walk with me and when I pointed out a yellow arrow painted on back of a sign ( so easy to miss) their faces lighted up with huge smiles. I spoke as best as i could telling them to keep their eyes wide open for the many ways these yellow arrows and shells are hidden. And walking with flash lights in the pitch darkness can be frustrating and fearful, especially for a young woman in her early twenties.

I was called in the darkness to stop on my journey and be a guide for two strangers who needed me to stop.
Frequently, our God calls us to stop what we are doing and help a stranger in need. We miss out on the call if we don’t look up at the person and see their face and eyes. What I allowed myself to see was two people who wanted to be reassured.

Dorothy Day once said that if you can’t see God in the stranger than you are an atheist !!! She certainly was bold and not afraid to speak her mind. Jesus had that knack to see in the stranger and outcast the dynamic presence of God. He was a threat to so many as was so evident in today’s Sunday gospel when both the herodians and the Pharisees tried to trap jesus in speech. They wanted to “pull him down” so to speak , so that his words and witness would be diminished, losing their power to change minds and hearts. Oh, how we love the status quo…

He is “calling” us…YOU, to let God enter life in surprising ways. Sometimes God calls in the darkness of the pre-dawn time when that darkness is at its darkest; or God calls in the darkness of suffering and grief to let go of the weight of the sadness; sometimes God calls in the darkness of loneliness, leading us to forge new relationships; sometimes God calls in the darkness of fear, begging us trust that we will make it.
In the first reading God called Cyrus to lead the people; God called him, giving him title and purpose, and Cyrus had NO idea he was even being called!! Mysterious!
Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they were called by God to live the gospel and proclaim it with their very lives. It was the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit that empowered them to speak the language of the Gospel v
Yes, the mysterious call of God fills the readings and liturgy. That call seemed to fill my camino journey today beginning in the mystery of darkness. We will never be able to plan or foresee God’s call. We have to be open to how God may be calling us in our own unique life situations. The calculating Herodians and Pharisees had no power to suppress the call of God. May we, or our Church , never try to be so calculating.
The same Holy Spirit that so influenced the Thessalonians is calling us to surrender to the mysterious Call of God. Buen Camino. Fr. Frank

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You Are God’s Instrument. October 18,2014

God is absolutely dependent upon you to complete the gospel. By your words, your actions, your work or career the gospel can either be given a voice or remain dormant. In today’s reading at Mass from Paul’s Second Reading to Timothy, he says, “the Lord stood by me and gave me strength …. so that through me the proclamation might be completed and the gentiles might hear the Word.”
It was through Paul that the gospel takes root… It is through You that the same gospel is proclaimed and takes root. By your choices, demeanor, the way children are raised , how money is spent, the kind of home one lives in, the friends you have , what one does with free time, how one speaks about another behind their back…the gospel is either lived or ignored.
In the gospel, Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs. Paul had his companions and we need each other. The gospel is not meant to be lived, or proclaimed , in isolation or alone. We need each other to spread and live the gospel. Without support ,I believe it is next to impossible to be a disciple of Jesus.

Our baptism has given us a purpose : to live in the school of discipleship with other believers SO THAT we attract others to gospel living.
We are not meant to create closed families or communities but ones that are open to new
people and possibilities.
The most dysfunctional families and communities are ones that are closed in on themselves creating a suffocating and rigid environment.

Gospel living is always about moving forward into new towns creating new expressions. The church and every parish needs to create open and welcoming structures that are not threatened by new people with new ideas. There is no better way to repel new parishioners than to say ,in so many words , “you’re welcome here, but this is how we do things. ”
Our parish of St. Teresa has been a powerful presence in the Lincoln Park neighborhood for 125 years!!!! Yes, we are alive and vibrant because we are a people on a Mission: we are being sent into the world, rooted in the fires of Baptism, as disciples, paving the way for Christ. The more we create open paths for Christ to walk, the healthier and joyful will be our families , our parishes … Ourselves.

Buen Camino. Fr. Frank.
I’m just about at the halfway point.

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The Meseta. October 17, 2014

Most people think that this portion of the Camino , the Meseta , is the worst part of the journey because it is flat and seemingly endless. I find the Meseta to be beautiful and essential to the journey….absolutely essential! Walking in this environment ,that resembles the prairie, with fields of wheat and other crops, is phenomenal for the soul.
These past few days in the Meseta have allowed me to go deeper and allow a hidden wound from the past to surface. To be healed of that which haunts us demands that the Light reveal it. In the safety of God’s Love we CAN trust Him to heal the hidden wounds which only grow with time and repression.
The Meseta is allowing me to let this old wound finally be acknowledged and exposed to the God who will care for me. It took many years for me to trust and let go, thanks to this beautiful land, what many find so boring that they bus it to Leon !!! Maybe they are afraid of the silence and the void in which things we don’t like come to the surface. So many of us hate silence because in the silence we don’t have the distractions that prevent us from going deeper.
In today’s gospel, Jesus teaches us, his disciples, that God has counted every hair on our heads. If you’re bald , God can see and count what should be there!! And He says that what lies hidden will be revealed. Yes, the hurts and wounds need to be safely placed in God’s hands if we are going to grow out of hurt and resentment. How sad we sometimes choose to hang on to bitterness rather than let go and allow forgiveness and sorrow for sin to free us. God wants all of us to be free!!!
There are Mesetas everywhere, places of silence and solitude, in nature, a church, a room in your house, anywhere that will not allow distractions to prevent you from doing the inner work of letting hidden realities be revealed.

The irony: some of what lies hidden is NOT something bad or negative but beautiful and good. So many of us have hidden gifts or dreams or desires that have been buried in years of self doubt and denial. God wants them to be revealed and explored !! YES, our God is the God of exploration
and risk. I repeat: God wants You free.
My steps are just a bit lighter in this sojourn through the flat Meseta. Our wounds don’t just disappear but often take years to truly heal. So be it. I’ll just keep walking. We gotta start somewhere. And it’s never too late… I’m proof of that.
Buen camino. Fr. Frank

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May the Wind Be Always In Your Face. October 16, 2014. Castrojeriz

The old Irish blessings prays that the wind be always at your back. Today, it was totally in my face, for three straight hours, 30MPH plus, with a constant pelting rain. And cold…

No one said it would be easy. I walked through deep troughs of mud and whatever, pulling and tugging on my boots. The boots I am wearing are truly waterproof, thank God . I prayed for the wind to be at my back but the Lord was having none of it. He didn’t calm the winds for any of us pilgrims as He calmed the winds on the sea for the disciples caught in fear.

The Lord wanted us to brave those powerful winds and that we did. I’m just a bit weary. God doesn’t always calm the storms on the outside, perhaps to make us stronger within. I did receive a tremendous sense of tranquility as the winds were pushing us from side to side. I knew without a doubt we would make. That is the Peace that only Christ can give, the peace when we TRUST that we will make it.

Trust is at the heart of being a disciple and follower of Jesus. We are called to give in to this trust so that a relationship with Him can be forged and deepen. We have to trust that God created us for a reason from the foundation of the world. Yes, this is exactly what St Paul teaches in today’s reading at Mass ,and also, that we are predestined to be God’s adopted children. Paul ends the reading by saying that everything will converge in Christ, Who is the Cornerstone of all the cosmos and creation.

We are ALL braving the winds together and our journeys will meet and converge in Christ. Buen Camino. Fr. Frank

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Evolution. October 16, 2014

There was an exhibit in Burgos called “Evolution,” a provocative exploration into the origins of the universe. So many people believe that evolution and Christianity can’t exist together, and that official church teaching prohibits belief in evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Church leaves it up to each individual to decide for them self.
In my own opinion, the science of evolution is impossible to refute. I believe that we have evolved as human beings and that the entire created world is evolving. I just believe that a personal God began the evolutionary process, creating the human species millions of years ago. The more we evolve and develop , the more we participate in the recreation of the world. Part of the evolutionary process is the gradual growth of human creativity as we learn the unfolding of God’s Plan in which our understanding of Creation is expanding. We are slowly becoming “divinized” as we participate with God in the unfolding of this Plan: human consciousness is expanding in ways difficult to comprehend or keep up with.
The science of evolution teaches HOW the world and human life came about ; it does not tell us WHY we are here. The “why” is where God enters this human drama. When I see a beautiful sunset, I can sort of understand the concept of the sun’s light piercing molecules and ions and protons creating hues of red and purple and gold. But an awareness erupts underneath the mental concept of a Presence that compels me to feel what I can only describe as Joy. Hence, there is a Purpose to the evolutionary process just as there is a deeper purpose to a sunset.
My good friend Steve is one person I love to talk about these things, for he is a seeker with many questions. My conversations with him are interesting and thought provoking. He , more than any devout Christian , helps me to encounter Christ because faith is deepened when questions are explored. We tend to think that Christ answered many questions , when in reality , he asked many questions. He even responded to a question with another question. I believe if you actually count, Jesus asked hundreds of questions in the gospels.

The best description of the church is one I can relate with as I write this, a description that the Second Vatican Council taught in one of its Constitutions: the Church is a PILGRIM people moving in time. How beautiful.
As a “pilgrim” I am traveling, learning, meeting new people, expanding how I see humanity, expanding how I see the world. In short, step by little step , I am “evolving” and expanding. And God is at the heart of this evolutionary pilgrimage. God is at the heart of YOUR unique pilgrimage in which you can , if you choose, to participate in the recreation of the world. The world and creation is “charged with the grandeur of God,” wrote someone so famous I can’t remember his name. Whoever is reading this: YOU are charged with the grandeur of God…. And you are a work in evolutionary process.
Thank you Steve for helping me to grow.
Buen camino. Fr. Frank

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The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila. October 15, 2014

Early in morning I’m ready to leave Burgos and move on to Hornillos. I carry with me in my heart the many prayers you placed on the wooden cross before I departed for this pilgrimage. I will send those prayers pleading for healing, reconciliation , peace of mind, and those of gratitude for many blessings.
Teresa walks with each one of us, and as she teaches, the humanity of Christ is the gateway into God. As I walk, I will up in prayer the German immigrants who helped to found this parish ; I will pray for the priests and sisters who ministered, especially the sisters who gave their lives for thousands of children in the school ; I pray for the people who brought a variety of Hispanic and Latino cultures into our parish, many who remain a vibrant part of the parish; I pray for all the people who have been apart of our history until the present day; I pray in a special way for our young, for God is tugging at my heart and nudging my conscience to reach out to the young and help them to see the gifts God has given them and that st Teresa’s will be a parish that will make way for these young and their gifts.
Thank you all for praying for me on this pilgrimage of faith. For those who sent messages through blog and email: THANK YOU!!!! All those messages seem to arrive at just the right time. Thus Camino is beautiful but very different from the first camimo. You are helping me in ways you will never know. Thank you again.
Happy and Blessed Feast.
Buen camino. Fr. Frank

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St. Teresa of Avila. October 15, 2014

The must popular image of St. Teresa is her holding a pen in one hand reading to write, an open book in the other and the dove of the Holy Spirit. This very image will grace the corner of Armitage and Seminary. Teresa was a woman of inspiration, this very word , “inspiration” , means to “let breath in.” She surrendered to the Spirit of Christ while pleading that God hear her prayer to completely take over her life. She spent many years praying for this moment in which the Spirit penetrated her heart, creating an ecstasy of Love that overpowered her.
The Spirit led her on a journey, a camino, of massive change and upheaval. She was “inspired” to see the truth of religious life as she was living it; she “saw” the hypocrisy within the walls of her convent where the wealthy nuns were served by those who had no dowry. The life inside the walls of the Convent of the Incarnation was a breeze that spoke apathy and indifference to gospel living. Teresa , herself , was a bit of a busybody, for she loved to chatter and gossip. Something happened within the heart of Teresa that turned her world upside down.
In a powerful touch of irony , Teresa was actually born on October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. But the Gregorian calendar corrected to lapse in time so her date was moved to the 15th. The reform of the calendar was a reform of time and how it is measured
Reform is a constant theme in Teresa’s life, a reform that really did not settle until until she was in mid life. There’s hope for us late comers!!!
What Teresa proposed was a total reform of the Carmelite Order, compelling the sisters to live a life of evangelical poverty, prayer and obedience. She even went further and inspired her companion in the spiritual life, St. John if the Cross, to make a similar reform in the male branch of the community.
What was the result? She and John formed s new community of Carmelite reform, they branched off, so to speak. This caused both saints horrible consequences. Teresa was despised by most of the nuns who tried to throw get out and succeeded. Many in authority were suspicious of her inspired teachings. Even the Inquisition tried to condemn her but we’re no match for her intelligence and faith. Women were supposed to be seen and not heard and their prayer life reduced to “saying prayers .” Teresa was calling her nuns to a life of contemplative prayer, what she called ” prayer of the heart.” This was unthinkable in the 16th century Church. This attitude that deep prayer was only for monks and some priests was expanded to include women religious. The laity would not experience what Teresa was trying to teach not only get nuns but all people until the Second Vatican Council, just 50 years ago!!
St. John of the Cross didn’t fair much better. His fellow Friars hated the reform he proposed to such an extent that they locked him in a tiny closet for nearly a year!!!!!! It was within these dark, confined walls that John wrote much of his masterpiece, the Dark Night of the Soul. He had to escape the people of his own community, religious men, from being enslaved racist of his radical ideas of reform. His teachings were also under suspicion.
To be inspired by the Spirit sounds beautiful but it always demands a price and is never easy. The same “Spirit” that inspired and filled Teresa hovers over each one of us and our journeys. The open book that Teresa holds in her hands is an apt symbol of our lives: may we be an “open book” that allows the Spirit to not only hover over us if to fill us…change us….reform the way we are living life. May the Spirit freely write the message God has just for YOU in your very heart. But be forewarned by Teresa and John, to change or reform your life will most definitely involve resistance and even rejection.
On this feast of our patron, may our parish community make a difference in our city and church. May we have the courage to become and be reformed into a parish that speaks to the 21st century. We need to have our own parish synod , like the one going on in Rome right now, to forge a new path of evangelization. The people in our neighborhoods are waiting for us.
Buen Camino and blessed Feast.
Happy 125th anniversary.

Making Judgements. October 14, 2014

The Eve of the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila.
We pilgrims love to judge each other. You’re not a “true” pilgrim unless you stay at the dorm-style albergues; or if you don’t carry your backpack but have it shipped periodically; or if you take a bus or , God forbid, a taxi, when you get lost to get back on track ; or if you eat a regular meal deemed too sumptuous.
We all have different reasons for making this journey. Some are quite old and suffer from arthritis; some are living with other chronic illnesses; some are diabetic; some even have a particular physical handicap. We shouldn’t judge until we walk in the other’s shoe…or boot.
In today’s gospel , Jesus , himself, is probably having a sumptuous dinner at one of the Pharisees , which I guess makes him a bad pilgrim. Jesus senses that the Pharisee is making judgements on his demeanor since he is not observing the proper ritual washing before the meal. They are too concerned with the externals of the Law so jesus reminds them, and us, to first clean the INSIDE before worrying about external observances.
Making judgements is a normal part of life and we all make them on a daily basis. It is when the judging becomes judgmental that we get into trouble. We all have a lot of inner work to do on cleaning the inside, our hearts, where Christ dwells. Too often, he dwells in clutter and bitter judgments on the very people he loves.
Jesus ends today’s gospel with one remedy: to give alms, let go of our money and possessions , and allow charity to cleanse the inner chamber of the heart.
When we breath our last, as we all must , all we bring with us is love, our love of God and our love of neighbor. Faith and hope are not necessary in the Kingdom for we will live and breath and love in the very object of faith and hope : GOD. This is beautiful but sobering.
A question for all of us : how am
I judgmental in my own life ?

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila. May she guide your journey to the One who will make your journey safe. “God ALONE suffices.”
Buen Camino. Fr. Frank

Feeling Lost. Burgos. October 13, 2014

I came to a juncture on the Camino to Burgos and I chose the path that brought me through an ugly industrial park. The other choice was the one of beauty and peace. I was alone almost the entire time with no sign if the yellow arrows or shells. I kept walking and hoping and walking…until I spotted two bulky pilgrims in the distance ahead of me. I picked up the pace and within an hour I caught up with them, a lovely couple from Japan who spoke no English but made it clear this WAS the Camino.
Relieved , I thanked them, and walked on feeling more confident and less alone.
Getting lost is a constant theme on the Camino because it is easy to miss the signs. But in the end ,I really wasn’t lost at all, just uncertain if I was on the right path.
It is so easy to get lost in life. We discover that perhaps we took a wrong detour or are on a particular “path” we didn’t plan. In my feeling lost , I turned to Jesus who just kept walking with me leading me on paths not planned or predicted. There is a wonderful verse in one of the Psalms: “I will lead the blind on paths unknown and will turn the darkness into light ,not letting them stumble.”
God is leading you on paths that are unknown to you but will always lead to life and light. Let yourself be led by God and be surprised at what He has in store just for you. For me, I was led to a kind couple from Japan who spoke no English but spoke comfort to me. I entered Burgos quite confident, bathing in the experience of being found by two strangers.
Buen camino. Fr. Frank

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