First a Reminder:
The new liturgical year is about to begin. Here is a helpful gift
for yourself, your favorite preacher, leaders of the parish RCIA
program and scripture reflection groups.
"FIRST IMPRESSIONS: PREACHING REFLECTIONS ON LITURGICAL YEAR C."
This CD contains two reflections for almost all the Sundays and
major feasts of the year. In addition, there are helpful essays for
preaching during the liturgical seasons (Advent, Lent, the Triduum,
etc.), book reviews and essays on various aspects of preaching. The
files are in three formats (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect and Adobe
Acrobat Reader) so you should have no trouble opening them on your
computer. To purchase go to:
click on the "First Impressions CD's" button on the left and
follow the instructions. (Purchase Year C before December
15th and we'll include Year B as a bonus.)
In our part of the world, the days are getting shorter;
darkness seems to be gaining the upper hand. In a couple weeks,
when the days will be still shorter, we will celebrate Advent.
It’s in our bones – when the days are the darkest we look for
light. We express our hope that God’s light will shine in our
darkness. God will not leave us to trip and get lost, but will
provide a light to show us the path to back to God.
But first there are things that need tending...that need ending!
So, this weekend and next the readings remind us that the world is
passing away; it must pass away. False securities and shallow
guarantees will not sustain us in times of strife and testing. God
alone must be our hope. God’s ways must be our ways, so that when
our securities and misplaced confidences fail us we can turn our
eyes to God’s saving light.
When biblical writers want to get our attention, shake us out of
our lethargy and give us hope, they write in the apocalyptic
literary genre. We see evidence of this literature in today’s
readings from the book of Daniel and from Mark’s gospel. The word
"Apocalypse" comes from the Greek and means "to lift the veil."
Apocalyptic literature suggests what we think we see as true and as
reality, in fact, may be obscured by veils. We think we see – we
don’t. We think we know the truth and the way things are – but we
don’t. We need vision; we need the veil over our own eyes lifted so
we can clearly perceive God’s presence and God’s future coming into
Apocalyptic writing is not meant to be taken literally, or
thought to contain secret codes reserved for those who can interpret
them. Nor is this genre of literature meant to predict dates and
places of future events. Though some have tried to make such
predictions. Periodically one reads about a fundamentalist sect
whose members have gathered on a mountain, or in the desert
somewhere, sure from their biblical reading that the world is going
to end on a certain date at midnight. When the cataclysm doesn’t
come, the disheartened members have to return to their former places
of employment to see if they can get their jobs back and to their
children’s school, to see if they can get them re-enrolled – since
the world was ending, they had thought, who needed mathematics
Apocalyptic writings don’t have hidden codes which, if we knew
the key, we could use to interpret and predict world events.
Instead, they hold a more profound and important truth for us
believers. For those Jews under persecution, who were tempted to
believe that God had forgotten them, Daniel assures them that after
the final struggles at the end of time, God will reward the
persevering faithful. But even more than that; God would not abandon
them as they underwent severe testing. God would see them through.
Thus, God tells the people that Michael, "guardian of your people,"
will protect Israel. (Michael’s name means, "who is like God.")
When the final tribulation, the "end times" come, the people will
"escape" – for God is protecting them. Then, the very horrific
trials will be the occasion for the coming of the Messiah. Our
selection from Daniel does not promise that no pain or tribulation
will befall God’s faithful. No one has to remind us of that! We have
seen too many good individuals and too many innocent peoples suffer
under the world’s tyrants. But Daniel assures his hearers that God
is their Savior who will not let them suffer final destruction.
What reassurance do these people and we have? What gets us
through the hard times when our faith feels pressed to cracking
under internal and external pressures? Daniel isn’t making a promise
on his own. He is not telling the Jewish people in the midst of
their extreme duress, "Cheer up! Things are going to be okay. Just
be patient." What he does tell them and us is, "In those days, I,
Daniel, heard this word of the Lord...." The promise is from God.
Daniel reassures us, "We have God’s word." So, the issue becomes: Is
God trustworthy? Will God live up to God’s promise? Can we live
during a time when we see no visible signs of relief and continue to
trust that God is with us; that hope is on the horizon? If we do
have this hope then, aided by God’s nourishing Word, we can stand
In today’s gospel Jesus draws on earlier apocalyptic literature,
as he alludes to a time of tribulation followed by the coming of
"the Son of Man in the clouds." (Dan 7:13). The distress will be
profound, even nature will go into chaos. Such awful times raise the
very questions the ancients asked– and we do too – "Who’s in charge
here anyway? God or chaos?"
Chaos may seem to have the upper hand, especially when all we are
used to and rely on collapses. Jesus refers to the signs of the
blossoming fig tree as a sign of hope. During the wintertime nothing
looked more dead than the bare fig trees in my grandparents’
backyard. But each Spring their leaves would sprout and, later in
the summer, we would again eat succulent fruit from those "reborn"
trees. (Those figs could move an atheist to believe in God!)
If the suffering first Christians and we moderns were to ask
Jesus, from the midst of our crazy world’s whirlwind, "Who’s in
charge here anyway? And when is this all going to end?" He would say
again what he once said: "You must trust my word. God is in charge
and God knows the schedule. Meanwhile, you must be prepared for my
return as you continue to live lives faithful to my word."
That’s the faith of the Bible: even amidst complete upheaval, God
has not abandoned us and will emerge victorious over death itself.
How appropriate it is that Jesus spoke these reassuring words. He is
about to enter Jerusalem and be put to death. "The tribulation" he
predicts for his disciples is about to take place for him. When
their world collapses with Jesus’ death will they remember and cling
to his words and look forward to an entirely new Spring? The same
can be asked of us. Can we trust what Jesus tells us again today,
"... my words will not pass away"?
With the resurrection of Jesus the end times have begun. We do
not know when Jesus will return; nor why there is such a long delay
in his return. Perhaps the delay is to the world’s benefit. Maybe we
Christians are being given more time to get our act together; not
just our personal rectitude, but maybe we are being given time to
witness to the world who Jesus is and invite more people to
experience God’s boundless mercy through him.
Meanwhile, we live as if Jesus were about to return. But we keep
our eyes open to signs of his presence already with us in his Spirit
and we witness to those signs by our lives. Perhaps that’s why Jesus
hasn’t yet returned; God wants to invite still more people to fall
in love with the God Jesus proclaimed. Today at this liturgy we
celebrate Christ’s presence to us in Word and Sacrament and we are
reassured that whatever endings we face, the Spirit will be present
to plant and nurture new life in us.
here for a link to this Sunday's readings:
Daniel 12: 1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10: 11-14,18; Mark 13: 24-32
JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD
show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the
delights at your right hand forever.
As we approach Thanksgiving, I often envision the Norman Rockwell
view--family gathered around a table loaded with delicious food. But
then I look at all the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral ministries that
feed the hungry and believe that it is in these ministries that
Thanksgiving is already occurring, week after week, month after
month. If you have never participated in one of these ministries, I
want to encourage you to do so. If you want to get close to Jesus,
accompany a poor man, woman, or family by serving or sharing a meal.
Consider the Helen Wright Shelter dinner meal that we serve once
a month (4th Fridays) to around thirty homeless women.
Because the needs are so great for this homeless population, the
Helen Wright Shelter will be moving to a new location and will have
beds for 75 women by the end of 2019. We are going to need lots more
cooks to feed and have fellowship with women who are working hard to
get back on their feet.
How about Family Promise? The unique point of this ministry is
that homeless families are kept intact. Without Family Promise, a
homeless family would have to split up if they wanted to stay
sheltered. Instead, area churches host the families at their
facilities. Cathedral feeds families twice during one week every
quarter, at Edenton St. United Methodist Church and First Baptist
Salisbury. Those who prepare the meals are encouraged to sit with
the families and share the meal.
Our Moore Square/Oak City Outreach meals ministry on the second
and third Saturdays of every month is another way to encounter our
brothers and sisters who are hungry. This coming April this ministry
moves to a new location and becomes part of a brand new center
called Oak City Cares that will be located next to the men’s shelter
on S. Wilmington St. The city is partnered with Catholic Charities
to provide a single resource/intake center for the homeless and for
those at risk of homelessness.
Last, but not least, Catholic Parish Outreach is our oldest
deanery effort to give a week’s worth of groceries once a month to
those in need. CPO would not be able to continue without its army of
Give thanks and join:
Director of Social
Justice Ministries Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
earth will pass away
words will not pass away
Our faith invites us to trust that, even amid complete upheaval,
God has not abandoned us. "The tribulation" Jesus predicts for his
disciples is about to take place for him. When their world collapses
with Jesus’ death, will they remember and cling to his words and
look forward to an entirely new Spring? The same can be asked of us.
So we ask ourselves:
- As we face our own tribulations can we trust that Jesus’
words will not to fail us and that he will be faithful to us?
- How can I be a symbol of Jesus’ steadfastness to others in
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
ask for the abolition of the punishment of death
have the infallibility of human judgment
demonstrated to me."
Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison
system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and
addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them
to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them
you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith
Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might
consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Terrance R. Elliott #0120236 (On death row since 12/18/03)
- Jason W. Hurst #0509565 (3/17/04)
- John S. Badgett #0014016 (5/6/04)
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC
For more information on the Catholic position on the death
penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the
is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like
"First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to
fr. John Boll, OP at
If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax
deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
1. By credit card:
Make a one-time only or monthly donation by clicking the "Donate" button
2. By mail:
Attn: Preaching Resources
Dominican Friars of Irving
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
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Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars
1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:
- Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
- One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B
If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group,
or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in
your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use
these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to our webpage:
and clicking on the "First
Impressions" CD link on the left.
2. "Homilías Domincales" —These
Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written
by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to
receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at
3. Our webpage:
- Where you will find
"Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and
"Homilías Dominicales," as well as
articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent
4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those
wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the
Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent
weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above
you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
Vince Hagan Drive
First Impressions Archive
Click on a link button below to view the reflection indicated.
(The newest items are always listed first.)