What’s the difference between Justice and Charity? On our webpage we have posted helpful information from the Office of Social Justice, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Go to our preachers’ webpage:https://preacherexchange.com/index.htm and click on "Justice Preaching."
And...there are two women on North Carolina’s death row. Would you consider dropping them a card? See below.
I wonder why we don’t hear preaching from the Psalms, either in our Sunday or weekday liturgies? I am aware this is a generalization. Maybe I should say "rarely hear preaching from the Psalms." Is it because we just view the Psalms as a liturgical tool – to serve as a response to the first reading? But in our three-year cycle over 100 Psalms appear at least once in our lectionary. So, the Psalms are our ever-present, but often neglected Scriptures in our community worship. Sometimes they are sung, sometimes recited – but always there.
Israel used no physical images to represent God. But when the Psalms were prayed the worshiping community was before God in a special way. Every human response seems to be present in the Psalms: praise, thanks, joy, awe and complaint – sometimes vociferous complaint! When we express these feelings, the very praying of them reminds us that God is not deaf to us, whatever our current situation. The Psalms remind us that God is concerned about all we feel and all that happens to us.
About 60 of the Psalms are laments; indicative of the very difficult situations in which the Israelites found themselves. No wonder so many today turn to them for personal prayer throughout the seasons of their lives. No wonder too, that the church has found them eminently suitable prayer for our public worship. Here at our priory where I live, we Dominicans chant Psalms in our morning, evening and night prayer. The "wonder" then might be: why don’t we preachers preach from the Psalms? I don’t have scientific research with precise numbers to back me up on this. I just know I rarely hear preaching, much less an allusion to "the Psalm of the day" at our Masses.
But Psalms offer rich material for preaching and prayer. They are of the genre of poetry and, as such, are pitched higher and with more intensity. This is especially true when they are put to music. Thus, respecting the poetic nature of the Psalms can help address the imagination and avoid the didactic. Another word for "didactic" in preaching is "boring." Let’s put the above to a practical test and consider preaching from today’s Psalm 16 – our "Responsorial Psalm."
Usually just part of the Psalm is used in the response to the first reading. The excerpt from the whole Psalm is chosen to fit the mood, or "theme," of the reading. We do well to reflect and pray on the whole Psalm as a preliminary to focusing on the selection chosen for the day’s worship. Let’s do that – look on the whole of Psalm 16. ( Of course you will have to go to your Bible for this.)
Psalm 16 begins with a declaration of trust and then moves to a confession of faith. The psalmist confesses the Lord is the only God and expresses in two images the trust Israel has in its covenantal relationship with God. God is addressed as "my allotted portion." This is a reference to the "Land" God gave Israel, which was seen as a sign of God’s favor towards them. Land gave the nation identity and membership, encouragement and prosperity. Having land assured the people of their future. Now the psalmist names God as "the allotted portion." God has replaced the land. The blessings and the security the people associated with the land are replaced by God.
When the land was taken from Israel and the people dispersed, or taken into slavery, they still had God as their present assurance and future inheritance. No power, no tragedy, no disappointment could take God from them – or from us. "You it is who hold fast my lot."
Another poetic image from the Psalm’s opening lines: God is called "my cup." The cup could be what was passed around for all to drink and which solidified the union of those who drank. The cup united the community to one another in worship. It also united the community to God. (Remember the past – over two years ago– when the priests around the altar and the members of the congregation shared the cup?) The psalmist proclaims God is "my cup," expressing such a close union with God that no one, no worldly downturn, could break that union, or separate us from God.
Here is a saying I cherish about the Psalms. "The person who prays the Psalm, becomes the Psalm." Since the Psalms are God’s Word they are active and effective: they do what they say. The power of the Word is exemplified in the Bible in the very opening verses of Genesis, when God spoke and creation happened. Jesus, the Word-made-flesh, spoke the Word to an ailing and dismembered society. When he spoke healing, forgiveness and unity happened.
When we receive the words of Psalm 16 and respond in prayer, the word it speaks forms us. It can make a timid heart firm; strengthen our relationship with God our "allotment and cup"; restore our confidence despite our present struggle. As the Psalm speaks: "You will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption." Remember, "The person who prays the Psalm becomes the Psalm."
The Psalms make excellent material for preaching in their eloquent and powerful expression of the human situation. They speak of need, gratitude for God's support, grief, complaint, joy over creation, contrition for sin, feelings of guilt, a sense of being abandoned by family, friends and even by God. What they say, we hear repeated in our own hearts and the voices of those to whom we minster. They speak about what life feels like with and apart from God. They name daily human struggles and celebrations that bridge the thousands of years between us and their original authors. In other words, preaching from them will help us speak to the concrete realities of those in our congregations – isn't that what we preachers are supposed to do?
Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
"Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."---Galatians 5:1
This past June 19 was the newest Federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day. Juneteenth is the "longest-running African-American holiday," and it recognizes June 19, 1865, as the date that news of slavery's end reached slaves in Texas and other states in the southwest. Yet, the yoke of slavery is still present in our society today, only to have morphed into other forms. Often, those who fall victim to human trafficking, end up as economic or sex slaves. The No Project writes: "The crime of human trafficking or Trafficking in Persons (TIP) involves violence, control and the ‘ownership’ of human beings – all for profit. In 2018, the Global Slavery Index estimated that more than 40 million people are living as slaves today. Over 24 million people are forced to work for very little or no payment. . . Another form of exploitation is called commercial sexual exploitation. This can happen to both males and females, including children, teenagers and adults – online or face to face. Workers in private homes are sometimes treated like slaves. This form of abuse and exploitation is called domestic servitude. Forced marriage, child soldiers and forced illegal activity such as theft and pickpocketing are also ways in which people of all ages can become victims of the crime of Trafficking in Persons." https://www.thenoproject.org/slavery/slavery-and-trafficking/
Then there is the American prison work system as a form of slavery. As Freedom United writes, "The United States, which has the world’s largest prison population, aimed to abolish slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment of 1865. But the Thirteenth Amendment echoes the International Labor Organization’s definition by allowing involuntary servitude—in the form of forced labor. . .Meanwhile, American labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act exclude those incarcerated by classifying their working relationship as penal, not economic. Incarcerated people are thus unprotected from forced labor. Activists have further pointed out that mass incarceration and racial profiling in the United States has led to African Americans being incarcerated at far higher rates than their white counterparts. With forced labor remaining legal as punishment for a crime, the legacy of slavery and racism persists in the U.S. industrial prison complex." https://www.freedomunited.org/prison-labor-and-modern-slavery/
As long as slavery exists in the world, Christians are not free from the responsibility to advocate for change.
Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and 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:
And another said, "I will follow you Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
But Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
Following Jesus is not a part-time endeavor. If what Jesus says to the potential disciples in today’s gospel unsettles us–so be it. Let’s sit with his words for a while and reflect on where we are at this stage of our journey with him. What must we leave behind, what re-ordering must we do to respond again to a word from Jesus that’s full of promise, "Follow me"?
So we ask ourselves:
I don’t want a moratorium on the death penalty, I want the abolition of it. I can’t understand why a county [USA] that is so committed to human rights doesn’t find the death penalty and obscenity.----Bishop Desmond Tutu
This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
----N.C. Correctional Institution for Women, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131
Please note: N.C. Correctional Institution for Women is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/
On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/
"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 email@example.com.
If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP:
St. Albert Priory
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.
Or, go to our
webpage to make an online donation:
1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:
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:www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.
2. "Homilías Dominicales" —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, OP at Jboll@opsouth.org.3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - 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 to preaching.
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 email address.
Thank you and blessings on your preaching,
Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP
3150 Vince Hagan Drive
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Click on a link button below to view the reflection indicated.
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