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Founded:1950
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
130 Main Street
Carver, MA 02330
Phone: (508) 866-4000 Fax: (508) 866-5588
A Parish of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston MA

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_______________________SCHEDULE______________________

Weekend: Saturday 5 pm; Sunday 10 am
Weekday: 9 am (except Thursday)
Holy days: 9 am & 7 pm
Confessions: Sat. 4:15 to 4:45 pm
Eucharistic Adoration: (1st Friday) 9 am to Noon

 


 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Acts 9:26-31

Psalm 22:26-28, 30-32

1 John 3:18-24

John 15:1-8

 

            The forsythia at my home finally bloomed.  For a brief week or so these shrubs will explode in all directions their fiery, yellow blossoms that will soon implode into ordinary green leaves.  Forsythia love to climb things, but my home’s previous owners established a row of eight free-standing forsythia to preserve privacy from the next-door neighbor’s long driveway at the side of the house.  I like the privacy.  But it’s hard to keep forsythia in check and in a few weeks I’ll get out a tall step ladder to again re-shape the shrubs into spherical hedges that block the neighborhood’s view of my favorite, shady reading place.  The andromeda along the street also will need my attention soon.

 

            I don’t talk to plants.  I don’t think they have feelings, as some gardeners do.  But if they did have feelings, I wonder what they would be thinking as they see me approach with loppers and pruning sheers.  Perhaps it would be like watching the dentist approach me with a syringe full of Novocain®.  Yikes!

 

            And I wonder if the plants would appreciate the difference between lopping off the dead branches and pruning back some healthy ones.  The need to get rid of dead branches is obvious even to people who don’t garden or landscape.  Pruning is a bit harder to understand; it takes skill and experience.  A branch may grow long and display several buds along its length.  It takes a lot of energy for a plant to sustain a branch with many buds, so if one cuts away some of the healthy buds at the end of the branch, the remaining buds will receive more of the plant’s energy and may blossom more fully, potentially producing beautiful flowers or even fruit.

 

            Jesus borrowed the image of vines and branches from the Old Testament [1] to portray our relationship with him.  It is obvious that “a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine.”  But even a branch connected to the vine needs care.  This is what pruning is about.  Jesus is the vine and Heavenly Father is the vine grower; we are the branches.  Barren branches are taken away.  What remains is pruned “so that it bears more fruit.”  Then Jesus said, “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.”

 

            I am not talking to those who may be withered branches.  They follow their own ideas and have their own pursuits.  They neither feel nor want a connection to the vine.  And they are not here.  I pray that some day they may perceive the fruitlessness of their lives apart from Christ.

 

            But the rest of us understand we’re connected.  And we face pruning.  That is not fun.  It’s understandable that we might become anxious as we see God approaching us with loppers and pruning sheers.  Sometimes the pruning process seems excessive and our faith is challenged.  We may not be able to distinguish that God’s hand is pruning away the excess of our life so that we may bear greater fruit – as opposed to the impression that God is discarding us as dead weight.  The struggles in our life may sometimes feel as if we have been abandoned by Heavenly Father. 

 

            So here Jesus reassures you and me.  He encourages us to stay with him.  “Remain in me,” Jesus says.  “You cannot bear fruit ‘unless you remain in me.’”  “Remain in me, as I remain in you.”  That is the key. 

 

On some occasions the “pruning” may be the closing of a door that we had preferred to enter, a hope or plan of ours that seemed so important at the time.  But that way might have led us away from a relationship with Christ.  At other times the “pruning” may be more dramatic, even painful.  It may be an illness, an estrangement from or loss of a loved one, or a financial setback. 

 

Though being pruned may feel as if God has disappointed us, or even abandoned you or me to our troubles and worries, Christ Jesus always remains with us.  If we do not surrender to doubt, even the most troubling circumstances will bear fruit.  It is part of God’s plan.  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

 

Saint John wrote in his first epistle, “We have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”  Here John speaks as Jesus did: “Those who keep [God’s] commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us.”

 

            So the alternatives are set before us.  Somerset Maugham, the great Catholic novelist, had one of his characters express the first alternative.  He wrote, “It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.” [2]  That is our first alternative:  As the people around us take note of our struggles, they can be negatively affected by what they witness, because they observe that we ourselves have become disheartened.  So, doubt and despair grow.  This adds nothing to the glory of God. 

 

But if you or I remain with Christ, confident that the struggle is not a sign of God’s wrath but is part of a painful pruning leading to new fruit, other people may be edified – not that we are such long-suffering saints, but that in us they may come to accept that Christ is present even amidst trouble and turbulence.  In this way, we do become disciples.  In this way is God glorified.



[1]  Hosea 10:1; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15; Psalm 80:9-16.

 

[2] Somerset Maugham, Moon and Sixpence (1919), Ch. 41.

 




Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Psalm 4:2-4, 7-9

1 John 2:1-5a

Luke 24:35-48

 

            We’ve all heard the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  I’ve never been there.  You?  Gambling and the night life of Las Vegas hold no attraction for me.  For those who’ve been, it may be prudent to keep to them selves how much money was lost, how many scotches were imbibed, and so forth.  But, I suspect, just the aura of having been to Vegas leads people to wonder about a person who’s been there, adding to the glamour (or the shadiness) of that tourist’s reputation.  Some people like the idea of keeping other people wondering about them.

 

            Let me suggest another saying:  “What happens in church, stays in church.”  And that, by the way, is not a good thing.  Too many Christians live this way.  They say they believe in God and they live as if they do not.  Faith is reduced to worship (which, by the way, is how secular humanists think religion ought to be).  We participate in Mass on Sunday, but there is no difference in the way life is lived on Tuesday.  Faith is minimized to mean going to Mass.  “What happens in church, stays in church.”

 

            St. Peter had just healed a crippled beggar outside the Temple. [1] The passers-by were amazed.  Now that Peter had their attention, he taught the crowd.  He reminded them of what their leaders – and they – had done to Jesus, choosing freedom for Barabbas instead of for the Son of the Father.  Peter testified of Jesus that “God had raised him from the dead.”  And what ought the response to this great news be:  repentance; conversion.  Forgiveness would not be granted just because they felt bad about their poor decisions.  Forgiveness would be granted if they changed their life, if they were converted. 

 

            St. John’s first letter confirms this.  John wrote boldly, “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them.”

 

            Jesus himself, in those spectacular Easter appearances, calmed his terrified and confused disciples.  Cleopas and his companion had encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus and only recognized him when Jesus broke bread with them. [2] Then they ran back to Jerusalem to report what had happened.  (This is where today’s gospel selection begins.)  And Jesus appeared again.  The disciples thought him a ghost.  But he reassured them, ate with them, and explained yet one more time the prophecies concerning the Christ, crucified and raised from the dead on the third day so “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sin, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

 

            And then Jesus added a phrase that we might dismiss as pertaining only to those disciples.  But it applies to you and me as well.  “You are witnesses of these things.”  To “witness” is not only to observe some event.  To “witness” means to give testimony.  You and I say we believe in Jesus Christ.  Now is the time to give testimony to our faith, to witness.  Do not keep our faith inside the walls of this building.

 

There is a story of a young girl visiting her grandmother in a small country town in the South.  She attended a very emotional religious service, where people expressed their feelings by jumping around and shouting.  It was a completely new experience for her.  She asked her grandmother if all the activity really meant that people were being touched by the Spirit or whether it was merely a huge piece of self-indulgence and emotional release.  Her grandmother wisely answered, “Honey, it does not matter how high they jump up, it is what they do when they come down that will tell you if it is the real thing!” [3]  We don’t do much jumping up at a Mass.  But the same can be said of you and me:  It does not matter much how profoundly we genuflect, how intently we listen to the gospel, how enthusiastically we sing hymns of praise.  It’s what we do when we leave all this behind and go into that world out there that will tell if this worship is the real thing.

 

The real thing begins with conversion, a change nurtured by grace in the way you and I are determined to live.  The greatest witness you and I can give is to be our better self.  Authenticity will convince.  This authenticity must inevitably spill over into acts of Christian charity.

 

In front of Christ the King Parish in San Diego there is a statue of Jesus.  This Christ figure has no hands.  But the statue had not been vandalized.  Instead, it was the intent of the sculptor to illustrate that Jesus needs the hands of his followers now.  Those who believe in and love Jesus are changed by the quality of that relationship; they act differently than they would if they did not believe in and love Jesus. [4]

 

So, give no one the impression that our motto is “What happens in church, stays in church.”  We believe that Jesus is the Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.  This faith impels us to our own repentance.  And we accept that the message of repentance is to be preached in the name of Jesus to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem and continuing from this place.  And we hear Jesus’ commission to each one of us:  “You are witnesses of these things.” 



[1]  Acts 3:1-11.

[2]  Luke 24:13-34.

[3]  As quoted from Good News (homily service), 1992, p. 663.

[4]  William A. Barry, God’s Passionate Desire and Our Response (Notre Dame, IN:  Ave Maria Press, 1993), p. 103.

 

Octave of Easter

Second Sunday of Easter

April 12, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

Acts 4:32-35

Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

1 John 5:1-6

John 20:19-31

 

          Fear. it would seem, Jesus considered the opposite of faith. [1] The opposite of faith is not failing to understand or to accept every doctrine.  Jesus did not teach doctrine.  He did, however, summon from his disciples a bold, personal and communal response to himself; this calls for courage.  Take, for example, John’s memory in today’s gospel.  On Easter some of the disciples actually saw Jesus, saw “his hands and his side” that bore the wounds of crucifixion.  They told absent Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.”  But even though they had seen the Risen Lord, a week later they were still in that room where “the doors were locked.”  Afraid.  It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit descended upon them on Pentecost that they combined belief with courage.  Then faith exploded throughout the world.

 

            When someone is new to the faith, unfamiliar with prayer and the scriptures, I will encourage them to read carefully Luke’s gospel.  Most people already have at least a vague awareness of the Jesus-story.  Then I encourage that person to quickly move to Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles.  Acts is the story of the Church’s birthing struggles:  the preaching and miracles of the Apostles, the conversion of Paul, the confrontation of faith and Empire, the worship of the early Christians and their moral clarity.  It seems the Sunday evening mini-series AD will address these very things, unlike most bible movies that stop with Christ’s Resurrection.  Here we may discover the struggle of the earliest Christians to find the courage to stand in opposition to the values of this world.

 

            And we may discover in Acts and potentially in the TV show AD that the earliest Christians still were afraid.  But, “With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus….”  These Christians gained the insight that every soldier must discover:  that “Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to carry on with dignity in spite of it.” [2]

 

            Christians are being slaughtered or imprisoned by Muslims in many parts of the world.  Afraid, yet with remarkable courage, vast numbers refuse to deny Christ and they go to a martyr’s death.  We must pray for them and for all who face this fearsome decision of life and death.  And we must exert pressure on our Federal government to do more to protect our brothers’ and sisters’ human right to life and to freedom of conscience.  As far as I can tell, nothing is being done for them by either state or Church.

 

            In our own “free” culture, Christian faith is also under assault.  This assault is often subtle, found in a condescending or dismissive attitude toward religious people.  Senator Obama referred to everyday people as “clinging to their God and guns.”  Sometimes the assault is governmental, as when laws or regulations require people of conscience to act in a contrary way, for example Catholic institutions or religious communities being required to provide abortions.  The danger here is not so much in the regulation as it is in some citizens’ attitude: what difference does it make? 

 

            So it takes some courage for us to speak words of faith.  I do.  But when I do, there is the perception that I have to talk about the Lord and about faith.  “We’ll have to excuse father; it is a priest’s job to talk about that sort of thing.” 

 

But what a powerful word it is when you speak of the Lord and about faith.  Of course, the presumption is that you have armed yourself with the basics of our religion and scriptures.  I remember the photo of a young Marine whose remote outpost in Afghanistan was attacked as he slept, showing him standing at his fighting position in boxer shorts and flip-flops.  But at least he had the presence of mind to put on his Kevlar helmet and grab his rifle.  Sometimes you and I are called to stand up for Christ in our boxer shorts and flip-flops, but we feel (or prove) inadequate to the task because we haven’t trained ourselves with helmet and rifle. 

 

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that each confirmed Catholic has received is Knowledge.  I’m sure many of us have a number of religious facts rumbling around in the gray matter.  We certainly have an outline of our faith in our weekly recitation of the Nicene Creed.  But another gift of the Spirit is Understanding, namely how that knowledge applies to the situation in which I find myself, in which I find my world, my culture.  The Spirit will guide us to Understanding, just as that Marine’s training guided him to the firing line prepared to defend his position, even in his boxers. 

 

Another gift of the Holy Spirit is Courage.  The elders here know that gift as Fortitude.  That is our graced acceptance that “the victory that conquers the world is our faith.  Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”  That’s the rhetorical question John poses in his first letter.  Our faith in Jesus does conquer.    

 

Besides each of us arming ourselves with a prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ and with the faith handed down to us by the Apostles in the Catholic Church, we need to support one another.  I do this by preaching in, I hope, a clear, convincing way.  Our parish does this by supporting the religious education of your children, and by providing adult faith formation for those who take time from their busy lives to learn.

 

When it comes to the individual Catholic, we each are responsible to encourage one another.  We do this, first, by giving our own example of how faith is an active part of our life.  This is done in little things like having a religious symbol in our home, like a crucifix or a likeness of the Madonna.  These little things include prayer within the family, even in public.  I remember seeing families in Kuwait pull onto the shoulder of the highway at particular times, taking prayer rugs from the car trunk, and everyone bowing in prayer toward Mecca.  Do we even say grace publicly when we’re eating out?

 

A slightly bolder thing is to worship weekly and to invite others to join our worship.  And those others include the sleepy teenager or grumpy spouse, not just the neighbor down the street.  We boldly praise God here and sing to our Creator.  Bolder still is speaking the name of Jesus when confronted about our faith or, especially, when one of our friends is hurting or dealing with a difficult decision. 

 

The great evangelical preacher Billy Graham said this, also something every soldier eventually comes to understand:  “Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” [3] The consistent message of Pope Saint John Paul II to the youth of the world and to each one of us was simply, “Do not be afraid.”  Your courage will stiffen another person’s courage.  And our faith in Christ Jesus will once again explode throughout the world.



[1]  William A. Barry, God’s Passionate Desire and Our Response (Notre Dame, IN:  Ave Maria Press, 1993), p. 60.

 

[2]  Scott Turow, The Burden of Proof (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

 

[3]  Rev. Billy Graham, quoted in Reader`s Digest, November, 1992.

 

 

Easter

April 5, 2015

 

Rev. Anthony Medairos, pastor

 

            There is a folk expression which goes something like this:  “A dog is just dog except when he is facing you.  Then he is Mister Dog.”  When Mister Dog is not an actual canine, we mean by this image that there are issues that face us.  And sometimes these issues are significant enough that we are forced to deal with them with particular attention and care.  On this Easter let’s address a metaphorical Mister Dog: namely, how the resurrection of Jesus affects you and me.   

 

I don’t suggest that we doubt the fact of Jesus’ rising from the dead.  There is convincing, historical evidence of fear-filled men and women being transformed into heroic witnesses to the fact of Christ’s resurrection.  Only the most callous critic could deny that something dramatic happened to change these people – in fact, to change the Roman Empire.  Jesus really was raised from the tomb.

 

            Easter is not a time for proving this.  If a person will not believe the eyewitnesses or the testimony of their lives, spent and even martyred for the Risen Lord, then nothing we can say today will convince.  But Mister Dog still faces us:  a nagging doubt not so much of the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but of whether his resurrection means anything today.  Is that “something” that happened to the first Christians still happening?  Is it happening in us?

 

            All those religious movies portray Jesus’ resurrection as the great miracle.  But, for many, these stories are just entertainment, uplifting of course, but they may be without any implications for people today, without an effect in people’s way of living, and way of dying.  One small example:  we have journeyed through this season of Lenten denial, perhaps giving up candy or beer and such.  But now Easter has arrived and we feel released to resume our pre-Lenten vices.  So, for us Easter is not so much a time of new life, as it is a return to our old ways.  Where is the newness; where is the change?

 

            George Orwell said, cynically but with some truth, “On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”  We have become so jaundiced by the apparent success of powerful and evil people and institutions, we begin to doubt whether it is worth the effort to be good ourselves. 

 

Besides this, our experience of the human condition distracts us from the good news of Jesus.  Some watch their beloved parent or spouse drift away in a nursing home.  An innocent child is attacked by cancer, while street thugs and thieves thrive with impunity.  Venal politicians and corrupt officials cavalierly pervert the trust of the people they’ve sworn to serve.  This world’s talented and beautiful people waste themselves on drugs and alcohol, and become even more famous, still richer.  Again, we begin to doubt whether it is worth the effort to be good ourselves. 

 

            But as we celebrate the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection,   Easter overwhelms the world’s expectations.  In Christ we understand that appearance is not substance.  Riches are not wealth.  Power is fleeting.  The world offers these values: appearance, riches, power.  But you and I follow a Lord who praised the meek, forgave sin, loved enemies, a Lord who gave us new life by his crucifixion. 

 

The Old Testament prophecies expected a savior who was a lion, a king to save Israel, but instead there came the Lamb of God.  Among the lions and eagles that are national symbols of power, the lamb seems out of place.  But this is the choice which the cross and resurrection place before us:  Will you and I follow some eagle or other?  Or do we conform our way of life to following the Lamb – fully aware lambs are often led to slaughter?

 

            The cross and resurrection proclaim that significance does not depend on being successful, as the world counts success; victory doesn`t go to those who “have made it.”  The meaning of life does not reside in the conqueror, but in him who died out of love – and, thank God, rose to life!

 

            We can see the truth of this for ourselves, all around.  See our own parents and their freely accepted sacrifices.  They had the courage, for example, to bring a child into the world, feed him, clothe him, care for him and worry about him, discipline him and educate him, preparing him to the best of their ability for the life he would lead and then, letting him live it. [i] What love parents manifest as they empty themselves – and life is the result!  This kind of courageous love is what Easter is about:  one willing to die to self that others might have life.

 

            A wise person said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” [ii]  Life has been shrinking lately.  Many young couples, for example, are unwilling to take up the imagined “cross” of child-rearing.  Abortion infects our culture.  Old people, poor people, are treated as insignificant, not shown the human dignity owed to each of God’s children.  The young are starved for time generously expended on them so they may learn from their elders how to live.  One must wonder whether this is why so many of the young tempt death, sometimes using drugs out of pain or perhaps they perceive themselves adrift in life alone.             

                       

This is where Mister Dog turns to face us.  This is the confrontation:  does Easter mean anything, if you and I do not live differently, more generously, in a self-emptying way, because Jesus has been raised from the dead?

 

            Good Friday and Easter, together, face the reality of suffering, injustice and death, while at the same moment offering hope and new life.  We who live in the power of the cross and resurrection are invited by the Risen Lord to transform this blighted world, beginning in the way we ourselves live.  You and I can face Mister Dog and end the status quo.  There is too much injustice, racism, hatred and war, for things to go along as usual.  We must never dilute our faith so that it would become unrecognizable to the Apostles while it is totally acceptable to our contemporary, pagan world. 

 

            What we celebrate today is not some 2,000 year-old miracle of new life for Jesus.  That would be wonderful enough.  But this Easter we celebrate the rebirth of courageous faith in ourselves.  And our faith is this: that because Jesus has conquered death and offers us new life, we are empowered by the Risen Christ to make our fragile lives into something lastingly loving.  And our love can change the world.



[i]  D.L. Stewart, McNaught Syndicate from Reader’s Digest.

[ii]  Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, edited by Gunther Stuhlmann (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich).

 

 

 

MISSION STATEMENT
This Roman Catholic, God-centered community of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish seeks to be compassionate and faith-filled, empowered by the Holy Spirit through the grace of the Eucharist and the sacraments to proclaim and live the gospel as believers in the Risen Christ.  Therefore, we commit to share joyfully our time, talents and treasure in works of mercy and justice both within and beyond our parish.

 

 
 

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