Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's a miracle for baby Carter!

A godson of mine, Carter Thomas Furey, who has battled cancer in one of his eyes for most of his very young life, received an Easter miracle from the Lord this week.  His grandmother sent me and the priest who prayed over his eye (with a relic of St Ricardo Pampuri) the following email today.  God is AWESOME.



What a wonderful day for Carter and the entire Furey family!  I owe so much of this to the power of prayer but also to the special prayer you (Fr Lee) gave Carter in the sacristy on Sunday after Mass.

All of the "seeds" that were "attacking" his eye are gone! They (the doctors) were gently preparing us for the possibility of ennoculation (total eye removal) and receiving a prosthetic eye. The idea of that was killing me but Jessy was educating herself on what she needed to know if/when the time came. I am so proud of her!
Then this morning during his routine, monthly EUA (exam under anesthesia) they discovered that everything is gone! He will still receive his next round of chemotherapy on Monday (and two or three more rounds in the coming months) just to be sure all the "bad stuff is dead and gone".
To get the whole story, continue to follow Carters journey at www.caringbridge.org/visit/carterfurey  for the most current updates

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

GW senior: "We are an Easter people"


The following Good Friday / Easter reflection comes from Chris Crawford, a GW Catholic senior.
 
 
 
During my 22 years on Earth, I have never endured as much loss as I have between this Easter and the last one. Last June my grandfather, my hero, died at age 86. My Nana was never the same, and went home to the Lord just a few weeks shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. And in just one semester at The George Washington University, our campus has endured the tragic loss of four of our peers, one of whom was a new member of my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.

 
It was easy to see God’s presence during the time in which my grandparents slipped away. The last interaction I had with my grandfather was to hold his hand and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be. The last words we said to each other were, “I love you.”

 
When my grandmother passed away, she suffered a great deal on her final day. I was able to travel home to see her, and was taken aback by the difficult state in which I found her. But amidst the anguish that her body was enduring, I saw the greatest evidence of a soul that I have ever seen. Her body was fading fast, but her soul was strong. Though she could barely speak, she built enough strength so that her last words to me were also, “I love you.”

 
As the Little Sisters of the Poor often say, you can feel God’s presence as he calls the elderly home.

 
It is not as easy to find God when a life is cut short in its late teens or early twenties. The losses at GW, particularly Ben’s apparent suicide, shook my faith to its core. Even the most brilliant priests could not provide satisfactory answers to my questions.  

 
It’s true; we look for God during times of loss by trying to find greater good. But that’s easier said than done. Even with the medical miracle of organ donation, it’s hard to say that lives saved by a deceased donor outweigh the loss of an aspiring doctor who would have spent his life saving others. And this thought leads to another: why are we trying to process death like a balance sheet of good and bad, anyway? For so many people, those sheets will never balance. And they shouldn’t balance.

 
The truth is, there are some losses that are so tragic that it feels impossible to find greater good on this Earth. Even if a school shooting causes us to treasure our children more; even if an attack on our country inspires patriotism and heroism; even if one suicide means others choose to find the help that they need; we are left with the harsh reality that no matter how well we move on and move together, the loss will always remain on this Earth. So we have to move beyond Earth.

 
As I processed all these feelings, I was desperate for answers. And as is usually the case, I found them at the Cross. And I recognized that if we look at the story of the Passion in earthly terms alone, it is a story similar to the loss that we all endure. Jesus is humiliated. He carries his cross. He falls twice. He is nailed to a cross, stabbed in his side, and finally dies as he lets out one last cry to help. Even Christ shouted from his cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 
Haven’t we all muttered these words during times of great anguish?

 
If left to our own accord, that is the end of the story - a tragic loss to a life well lived. But as we know, that is not the whole story.

 
When we experience loss, Christ is with us. The pain he felt on the cross was our pain, and he shares in our pain here on Earth as well. We are united in suffering.

 
But even this thought is not enough to comfort us. We need more, and we have more. Before the Passion, the cross was a sign of death. The resurrection transformed it into a sign of life. Of victory. Of hope.

 
The story did not end when Christ was laid on the tomb. The story did not end when Nana and Nanu were laid to rest, side by side in a Shrewsbury Cemetery. And Ben’s story did not end in a George Washington University Hospital room. If we live for Earth and focus on Earth alone, this might be where each of these tragic stories came to an end.

 
Too often, we see only Earth. We trap ourselves in a “Good Friday” mentality.

 
But we are not a Good Friday people. “We are an Easter people, and Halleluiah is our song”, as Pope John Paul II has said. If we were a Good Friday people, our gaze would never glance beyond our humble Earth. But we are an Easter people with our trust placed in the resurrection. God is not just with us in death, he brings us to new life.

 
Christ did not remain in the tomb. He rose again. He gave us more than Earth. He gave us Heaven, and the ability to be close with him forever. As has been said before, when we look upon the cross, we see not what we lost but what we gained. When we suffer, we are closer to the cross. When we die, we are called to encounter Christ.

 
Sometimes it’s hard to see this, especially in our suffering. On Good Friday, when Mary looked upon the cross, she could not have known of the Easter Sunday that was to come.

 
The sorrow and suffering of Good Friday is not the end of the story; the joy of Easter Sunday reminds us that the story never ends.

 

Christopher Crawford is a register contributor and the Director of Pro-Life Ministry for the Newman Center at The George Washington University.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter homily - "Desperate for the Resurrection"


When early Christians greeted each other on Easter Sunday, one said to another (in whatever language), “Christ is risen!”  The other would reply, “He is risen indeed!”  I have done this every year that I’ve been here, and joked about greeting each other on campus like that.  But, people have done that!  I have been greeted that way by you, and I’ve heard that you’ve greeted each other like that. Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!


About 30 of us watched the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” on Friday night.  It is incredible.  I was reading the other day that a movie and book have come out on the miracles from “The Passion”.  The producer of each says there are more than 70,000 stories of miracles and conversions from that movie.  One involves a murderer who turned himself in after watching “The Passion”.  It was obviously a fruitful production. It’s accurate and powerful….very powerful.  It’s tough to watch, of course, because you walk with the Lord every step through his passion and death. 

If we walk with the Lord, the passion is brutal, but the Resurrection is so sweet.  Think about his experience in coming back to life.  His body died, and his soul left his body.  We say in the Apostles Creed that He “descended into hell”; he spent three days freeing the good men and women from the Old Testament to Heaven.  His soul then returned to His body, and His body is alive again.  Just about all of the marks from His Passion are gone.  His tortured body is now pristine and glorious.  He has triumphed over His enemies…his wounds…sin…and death.  As much as we agonized over Christ’s crucified body, we rejoice even more in his risen body! 

We can have a resurrection experience in this life.  It’s different from Christ’s in that it involves death and rising of His body.  Ours would be death and coming back to life of our soul.  Souls are immortal, so they don’t die forever.  But, they can die to sin.  There can be a lack of life…a lack of anything good.  The person whose soul is in this state of mortal sin and goes to Confession, walks out of the confessional like Christ walked out of the tomb.  They are risen!  Or, maybe someone whose faith seems dead…someone who is just going through the motions…someone who doesn’t get anything out of Mass or prayer…and then have an Epiphany or “ah ha” moment…a grace-filled experience that breathes life into their souls.  They rise up in faith!    

Eight GW students became Catholic last night at the Easter Vigil.  Today’s Washington Post has a story about the record number of adults becoming Catholic in the Archdiocese of Washington this year.  Over 1,300 came into the Church last night in our area! They are the faces of new life in Christ through Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist.  Their old selves have died; the new selves live.

Our community in general is desperate for this Resurrection experience…desperate for Easter and Spring after a long winter and semester…after a long, long month filled with tragedies on campus.  We had a memorial Mass at Newman last week for one of the students who died recently. More than 100 people jammed our chapel to pray together and remember Carlos Pacanins.  Dozens of his family and friends spoke at the end with stories, memories, and reflections.  So many of them – almost all of them – spoke of Carlos as if He is in Heaven or on the way.  They spoke of his Resurrection! 

Finally, we could say (but won’t) at every Consecration at Mass when the priest holds up the Host and Chalice, “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  The Eucharist is the Risen Body and Blood of Christ.  At that moment, we are supposed to whisper what St. Thomas said, “my Lord and my God”.  It is truly Him and He is truly risen.  That’s our man.  That’s our God .  That’s Him who created you and saved you.  That’s Him who loves you and sees you as good.  You are good and you are loved. 

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Masses tonight, 7:30 and 10

Happy Easter!! Christ is risen! 


Masses tonight at 7:30 and 10 pm (NO 5:30)
St. Stephen's Church
2436 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Wash, DC, 20037




Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

“The Sacred Triduum- the three holy days"

As we enter into the Easter Triduum, the following is a deep and rich meditation for Holy Thursday (cf. Lk 22:14-20) from “The King, Crucified and Risen” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.:


“The Sacred Triduum – the three holy days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) – opens with joy and sorrow, love and betrayal, life and death, the promise of eternity and a feeling of impending death at the Last Supper. This is the great day of paradox – that is, apparent contradictions mysteriously containing truth. For example, we call this Passover meal the Last Supper. But these simple events are the beginning of billions of commemorations in Eucharistic liturgies. Could anyone there have imagined Bach’s Mass in B minor, or a Mass performed by native Africans singing an accompaniment to the renewal of the Last Supper?

It’s a very sorrowful meal. Christ promises the Eucharist, which has been the greatest single source of spiritual joy and consolation that the Christian world has ever known. Christ leaves the supper to be arrested; within eighteen terrible hours He will be tortured to death, and yet He tells us that He will be with us till the end of the world. The most significant sign of His presence is the bread and wine consecrated and transformed at the re-presentation of this holy meal.

During the past several days we have been meditating on some of His discourse to the apostles in John’s Gospel. If you have been reading along, you realize that these pages, including John chapters 5 and 6 and chapters 13-17 (called the Book of Glory), contain the most profound revelation of who Jesus Christ is and what He can be to those who seek to love Him.

Try to take some time during the Holy Triduum to read and meditate on these events. Although they happened so long ago, they are repeated over and over till the end of the world.

Any thinking Christian knows that Christ is betrayed, abandoned, humiliated, and suffers hunger and thirst constantly in his members. ‘I was hungry and you gave me no food’ (Mt 25:42). He is constantly on trial somewhere in the world, and He is left alone in our own neighborhoods in the sick and the dying.

The events of Holy Thursday are almost all incomplete realities. They look forward to what is to come for their completion. The very next day the Blood of the Eucharist must be shed and the Body must be broken. But even then, what do we see but the corpse of an atrociously abused man, like the image seen on the Shroud of Turin? We must keep going so that the Eucharist is not a funeral procession and the life of Christ is not just another noble failure. He lives! On the third day He comes back to life, never to die again. ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20).

There is so much in the Last Supper, and then there is the agony in the garden and the arrest of Jesus. Start anywhere prayerfully and thoughtfully, and you will walk into the vast tunnels of a gold mine. The events of these days can teach us every year and, in fact, every day of every year, because they come back to us not only in our memories but also in the sacramental reality of the daily Eucharist.

Is there one word that can sum up Christ’s deeds and our response as disciples? Obviously the word is love. It begins the account of the Last Supper in John 13:1: ‘Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The Gospel is above all a story of love, and love should be our response. St. Paul, who was called after all these things came to pass, summed it up so well in words that should guide our minds and hearts: ‘The charity of Christ urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14).”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"6 Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious About Faith"


From www.relevantmagazine.com:


Next year, when David Letterman signs off as host of The Late Show for the last time, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert will take over, positioning himself as the new face of CBS late night.
Though he’s made a name for himself by creating an over-the-top persona satirizing the hyper-conservative on The Colbert Report, the real Stephen Colbert—the one headed to CBS—is very different from the character he’s created. When he’s not in front of the camera, Colbert is frequently teaching Sunday school, attending mass or spending time with his family, who are all devout Catholics. Here are six times the funnyman got serious about one of his favorite topics: faith.

The Time He Talked about Faith and Tragedy with The New York Times

Back in 2012, The New York Times profiled Colbert, who reveal details about the man behind the persona.

The Time He Explained Hell on NPR

When Colbert was a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air, host Terry Gross asked how Stephen Colbert—the real, religious father, not the persona—explained complicated issues like God and hell to his own children. And though not all Christians may agree with his personal interpretation of what hell looks like, his thoughtful response is a reflection of someone who has genuinely wrestled with big ideas surrounding faith: “I think the answer, ‘God is love’ is pretty good for a child. Because children understand love … My son asked me one day, ‘Dad, what’s hell?’ … So, I said, ‘Well, if God is love, then hell is the absence of God’s love. And, can you imagine how great it is to be loved? Can you imagine how great it is to be loved fully? To be loved totally? To be loved, you know, beyond your ability to imagine? And imagine if you knew that was a possibility, and then that was taken from you, and you knew that you would never be loved. Well that’s hell—to be alone, and know what you’ve lost.’”

The Time He Embarrassed a Guy that Suggested God Caused Evil

Poor Philip Zimbardo. When the Stanford professor appeared on The Colbert Report in 2008 to promote his book The Lucifer Effect, he clearly didn’t know what he was in for. Despite a jab at Dr. Zimbardo’s villainous facial hair, the interview—which focused on a behavioral experiment that the book is based on—started out civil enough. Then at the 3:30 mark (warning, the video contains a bleeped-out explicit word), things take a dramatic turn when the discussion turns to the origins of evil in the Garden of Eden. When Zimbardo suggested that, “Had [God] not created hell, then evil would not exist,” Colbert broke character and snapped, breaking into an impromptu theology lesson. “Evil exists because of the disobedience of Satan. God gave Satan, and the angels, and man free will. Satan used his free will and abused it by not obeying authority. Hell was created by Satan’s disobedience to God, and his purposeful removal from God’s love—which is what hell is. Removing yourself from God’s love. You send yourself to hell. God does not send you there.”

The Time He Argued for Christ’s Divinity

Stephen Colbert is not a fan of Bart Ehrman. The religious scholar came on The Colbert Report to promote his book Jesus, Interrupted which questions the credibility of the Gospel and the divinity of Christ Himself. It got brutal. For nearly 7 minutes, Colbert deftly explained seeming contradictions in the New Testament, showed how Scripture supports Christ’s divinity and intellectually embarrassed the scholar in Zimbardo fashion. You can watch the entire exchange here.

The Time He Discussed the Importance of Humor in Faith

In 2012, Stephen Colbert took part in an event called “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy and the Spiritual Life” at Fordham University. Moderated by Rev. James Martin—Jesuit and priest and author—the event featured a light-hearted, but intelligent conversation about faith and humor between Colbert and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.
“If Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor, I am in huge trouble,” Colbert joked at the event. Though the two discussed a variety of issues, the one thing Colbert made clear was the genuine love he has for the Body of Christ and being a part of the Church: “Are there flaws in the Church? Absolutely. But is there great beauty in the Church? Absolutely … The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the Church gives me, which is love.”

The Time He Used the Bible to Advocate for Immigration Reform at Congress

Though much of his testimony before Congress—advocating for immigration reform and farm workers—was played for poignant laughs (“Like most members of Congress, I haven’t read [the bill]”), Colbert also used a another strategy to get his message across—quoting Scripture.
After talking about how he spent one day as a farm worker (making him an expert, of course), Colbert got serious about his motivations. "I like talking about people who don't have any power, and this seems like [some] of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work, but don't have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. And that's an interesting contradiction to me. And, you know, 'whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers,' and these seem like the least of our brothers right now …. Migrant workers suffer and have no rights."


Monday, April 14, 2014

Homily - "Go to the Cross"


I was planning on just saying to you tonight to go to the Cross.  This week the Church goes to the Cross in commemorating the events of our salvation.  On Holy Thursday, we celebrate Mass at St Stephen’s on the night that Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood.  Later that night at Newman, we try to stay up all night with Christ in the Garden, and have about as much success as the Apostles did.  Good Friday, I will be offering confessions from 12 noon – 6 pm at Newman.  Bring your sins to the Cross, and the blood of the Cross wipes them clean in the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Then, on Holy Saturday night and Easter Sunday, we of course celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and victory over death.  So, yes, go to the Cross this Holy Week.

But, the Cross has come to you.  My gosh, the Cross has come to you.  In the past two weeks, there have been four tragedies involving GW students.  Last week, two students were involved in car accidents: Carlos who died Saturday night and Carrie who is fighting for her life.  All of the recent tragedies have affected every one of us here, so we all have a share in the Cross right now.  On Ash Wednesday, I said to be Christ-like this Lent, and gave specific ways to do that.  We never would have pictured the Lent we have had.  I guess we should be careful for what we wish.  God has allowed you the best way to imitate Christ: through the Cross. 

When we get our piece of the Cross, it’s usually bigger and heavier than we want.  God apparently trusts you all a lot because He has given you a huge Cross.  I ask you to embrace it.  Christ embraced His Cross, and be like Him.  Don’t run from the Cross, go it.  Unite your suffering with the Cross of Christ.  The Church says that if we accept suffering with faith and love, we unite our suffering with Christ.  And, it can be redemptive. 

Why do we call it Good Friday?  Because of the good that came out of it: salvation.  Through His Cross, Christ saved the world.  Or, at least, He offers salvation to the world.  If you unite your suffering with Christ and offer it up for someone else, you can save them.  Your suffering can be redemptive like Christ’s.  I know people who have complained about their crosses and suffering; then,  then heard the teaching on redemptive suffering.  They stopped complaining and started to “offer it up” for someone else. 

Please know of my deep love for you, and my deep respect for at least being open to this.  Please know of God’s deep love for you.  He created you, and “God don’t make junk”.  You ARE good, and you are loved.    

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

QB Jim Kelly: “There is no way I’d be here without my faith"

NEW YORK (mmqb.si.com) — On a high floor of Lenox Hill Hospital Saturday afternoon, Jim Kelly, 54, lay propped up in a hospital bed, his head back, hair matted and tousled, a round of pain meds and antibiotics coursing through his veins. He looked tired. His daughter Erin, a freshman at Liberty University, held his hand as he ticked off what life has been like for him lately. Four Kelly brothers and father Joe ringed the room, along with younger daughter Camryn (pictured atop this story), and his wife, Jill, followed his every word from the foot of the bed.

“There is no way I’d be here without my faith,” Jim Kelly said. “It’s been such a roller coaster. So many things. The Super Bowl losses, the fabulous career, my son born sick, making the Hall of Fame, my son dying, two plates and 10 screws in my back after major surgery, one plate and six screws in my neck after another surgery, a double hernia, the cancer, surgery on my jaw, the cancer coming back, now what I’m facing. But …”

He looked at Erin.

“When you’re going through pain, you’re what?” he said.

Not even a millisecond elapsed.

“Kelly tough,” said the eldest daughter of Jim Kelly.
 
* * *
The story of Jim Kelly’s second, and more serious, fight against cancer is a complicated one. But toughness is a part of it, for better and worse. As is humor. Last June, doctors removed part of his cancerous upper jaw, made a prosthesis of six fake teeth and bone, and fastened it into the hole left by the surgery. They grafted a rectangle of skin from his upper left leg to replace the skin that was lost on the roof of his mouth. The prosthesis works like a giant retainer; Kelly can remove it, and he looks like an old man without his front teeth when it’s out.

“Have you met JK Swag?” Jill said Saturday afternoon. “After surgery, Jim said, ‘I will never pull this out.’ He didn’t want us to see him like that. Jim, introduce JK Swag.”

With that, Jim took the device out of his mouth and began talking like an unintelligible old geezer and scowling, and the room roared. Then he put his teeth back in.

“Sometimes,” Erin said, “we understand JK Swag better than JK.”
“The normal person wouldn’t have been able to take it,” Jim Kelly says. “Some days, I don’t know how I did. I’d look up to the Lord and say, ‘I give. Uncle. You got me.’ ”
The family will need those moments in the coming weeks. Today, provided a slight fever is under control by this morning, Kelly begins a regimen of treatment—chemotherapy Monday and Tuesday, radiation Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—designed to stop the cancer that is dangerously close to the carotid artery in his head. It’s too perilous to operate now, even if the cancer that has spread up his infraorbital nerve can be neutralized, because there’s no guarantee all of it can be found and removed. If doctors operated and all the cancer wasn’t eradicated, weeks could go by before chemo or radiation could begin while he recovers from surgery, and that crucial time could allow the cancer to spread into his brain unabated. So for now, it’s several weeks of aggressive chemo and radiation. Kelly’s New York oncologist, Dr. Peter Costantino, called Kelly’s condition “very treatable and potentially curable” last week.

“If he’s saying it,” Kelly said, “I hope so. I just know there’s a lot of work to do, to shrink the cancer. I just pray it works. If you hear I’m about to have surgery, then you know it’s working. That’s the goal. But it won’t be an easy operation.”

It’s a complex cancer. There’s not a big tumor in his head, but rather countless microscopic ones. That’s probably a major reason why the cancer was tough to diagnose when it returned. Kelly was having headaches—“massive headaches and migraines”—and doctors thought it might stem from problems with the teeth that remained after the jaw surgery last June. He had six root canals on the left side of his mouth in the months after the surgery. But still the pain, the headaches, remained.

“The pain became a blessing,” said Jill Kelly. Without the pain, doctors might not have been as aggressive in searching for the pain’s root cause. And because Kelly has a long history of clamming up about his pain, doctors took notice when he said his head was really hurting him.

After a while this winter, Jim Kelly knew there was something amiss. And further scans this month showed the little spots of cancer, many of them riding up the nerve leading to his brain.

“I guarantee the normal person wouldn’t have been able to take it,” he said. “Some days, I don’t know how I did. I complained about my headaches for months, and for a while I thought it was just part of the healing process from such a serious surgery. But obviously it was more than that. I’d look up to the Lord and say, ‘I give. Uncle. You got me.

“But now, this is just another river to cross. Now we know what it is, and we’ll keep fighting. Whatever I did in life”—now he motioned to the crowded room of family—“I never did alone. So we’ll fight. It’s in the Lord’s hands now.”

At times, the support system has him feeling a little guilty. He walks the halls here and sees patients, some very seriously ill, alone. “There’s a lady down the hall,” he said to his brothers the other day. “Anybody visit her? I never see anyone. We should bring her some of my flowers.”

“Part of that,” piped up Dan Kelly, “is the influence my mom had on us all. Mom would give away our winter coats. She’d say, ‘That kid needed it more. You boys will be fine.’”

The Kelly family follows that Christian message now. Sometimes, their message and belief is so strong it sounds like a gospel tent in the room.

“All the fame Jim had in football,” said Dan. “I honestly believe that is just an instrument for God to use his notoriety for a greater purpose. What was his plan? Not many people can endure the kind of pain Jim is enduring, and the pain—we despise it. But we know the purpose.”

“He can be a messenger of hope,” Jill said.

“You know it,” said Jim.

“It’s such a great opportunity for Jim to be on the same level as everyone else, for people to see him struggle and to identify with him. It gives everyone strength,’’ said Jill.

“You got that right,” said Jim.
 
* * *
On Friday night, I put out a message on Twitter to my followers. I asked if any of them had a message to send to Kelly, whose illness has been reported far and wide. I wanted to see what the level of compassion and concern was.

Here how the response started, from Samuel Nielsen of Wisconsin: “1,573 people live in North Prairie, WI and every one of them is praying for you, Jim.”

Then words came from Rochester, N.Y., Dallas; Princeton, N.J.; Peru, Ill.; the nation of Peru; Bullhead City, Ariz.; Boston; Windsor, Ontario; Lexington; Huntsville, Ala.; Bolivia; Edmonton; Delta Junction, Alaska; Brazil; Perth, Australia; Sweden; Red Deer, Alberta; Put-in-Bay, Ohio; Dublin, Ireland; Cork, Ireland; Sioux Falls, S.D. (“No one circles the wagons like Jim Kelly,” wrote Clay Beeker); Kuwait, the Philippines and Hyderabad, India. “Met him once at a Bills tailgate. Made me feel like I’ve known him for 15 years,” wrote Adam from Toronto. And: Qatar; Altoona, Pa.; The Woodlands, Texas; Newcastle, Wash.; Iceland; Zephyr, Ontario; Mumbai, India; Lone Tree, Colo.; Panama City, Fla.; the nation of Panama; Guadalajara, Mexico; Onaka, S.D.; American Samoa; Sydney, Australia; Tacoma; Hong Kong; Pakistan (Pakistan!); Donnybrook, Western Australia; and scores from Buffalo and Hamburg and the environs in western New York. Scores.

Why? Why the overwhelming love for Kelly? My theory: People love the fighter he was as a player. People loved much else about him as a player (called his own plays, never whined about losing the Super Bowl four straight years). People felt for him after his son died. People in Buffalo never had a bad thing to say about him. He never left Buffalo after his career for greener—or warmer—pastures. Blue-collar guy in an increasingly white-collar game.

And the overwhelming sadness of a good man’s life being threatened too soon.

Wrote Rich Gannon (yes, that Rich Gannon): “Please know brother that you remain in our thoughts and prayers. No hill is too tough for a climber like you.”

Wrote Allan Ruigu of Nairobi, Kenya: “Saw Kelly’s daughter’s pic with him in a hospital bed, heart wrenching. Get well soon & be strong.”     

Wrote Julien Urgenti: “I started watching football in the early 90s in Lyon, France. My love with football began with Kelly’s Bills. Go Jim!”

Wrote Asif Malik: “Get well soon, Jim Kelly. A great player on the field and I’ve heard, an even better person off it. (from Istanbul) #beatcancer”

I read 15 or 20 of them to Kelly and to the room of Kellys. He took a moment to compose himself.


“Humbling,” he said. “Humbling. I had no idea. I mean, I don’t do Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. But they tell me about it. There’s a lot of ‘Get well, Jim Kelly,’ out there, and I am so appreciative of that. I really don’t know what to say.”

After a while, a doctor came in and said she had to clear the room to examine Jim. Camryn and Jill’s mom went to get a bite to eat. The brothers went to relax downstairs in a waiting room. Jill and Erin adjourned to a waiting room down the hall that they’ve filled with inspirational Bible verses (“The Lord is my helper … I will not be afraid”). It’s the Kelly women who have raised awareness of his disease and made it an international thing.

They’ve done it through social media. Particularly noticeable was an Instagram photo Erin posted last week of her and her father laying in his hospital bed watch the Syracuse NCAA game on TV. Jim looked as weak as a pup. Erin looked devoted, hanging onto his arm. It went viral, quickly. Erin was stunned at the reaction, but it’s a social-media world, and emotional pictures of struggling heroes and their clinging daughters … well, that’s going to be a home run. And it was.

“We’re a sports family,” Erin said. “I just wanted to hang out with him. I never thought it would [go global] the way it did, but I like it because it shows the realness of our family. And that’s the raw truth of what he’s going through.”

She puts out pictures for the world to see, she said, “so people will pray. We believe in the power of prayer.”

The college freshman is a mature kid. She is not a hunter, but her father is, and so, for a Christmas present, she told her dad she was getting her hunting license, and the two of them would go on a hunting trip. “He’s my buddy,” she said. “I want to.”

Earlier this month, when Jim and Jill Kelly had a moment alone, and they were digesting the news that the insidious cancer inside Jim’s face and head had returned with a vengeance, they began reflecting. When they reflect, the subject is often their late son Hunter, who died at 8 of a rare nervous system disease in 2005.

“Well,” Jim said, “I know where my son is, in heaven. And I’ll probably see him before you.”

“No!’’ Jill said. “NO! Do NOT say that again!”

Jill Kelly recalled the story down the hall from her husband on this rainy Manhattan afternoon.

“That,” she said, “cut to my heart. I lost it.”

But the thought is unavoidable. The reality of their lives, all of their lives, is that Jim Kelly is fighting for his. He’s in the best hands he can be, and all they all can do is hope, and pray, that modern science works, and these microscopic cancer cells don’t continue the march to Jim Kelly’s brain.

“He’s never been through anything like this, obviously,” Erin Kelly said. “But I know the way he raised us. And I know who he is. He will fight this till his last breath. He’s a Kelly.”

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Pope Francis goes to Confession

The Path to Pope Francis' Much Beloved Virtue of Mercy
First Comes a Humble Heart
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, April 06, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Here is Bishop James Conley's latest column from the Southern Nebraska Register.
* * *
Mercy begins with humility.  Mercy is the generous forgiveness that restores relationships and rights wrongs.  Mercy is a manifestation of love in the face of sin.  But each act of mercy requires a humble heart, a heart capable of approaching another, confessing a wrong, and asking for forgiveness.  Mercy requires an awareness of our sinfulness, and an acceptance that sin is real, and harmful, and damages our relationships.

Last year, in a now famous interview by a journalist, Pope Francis, when asked how best to describe himself, told the world “I am a sinner - this is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

In a later interview, he said that he is tempted to sin regularly—to think “bad thoughts about someone,” for example, and that he must regularly fix his thoughts on the mercy of God and to remember God’s love for all sinners.
 
Last week, Pope Francis took an unusual opportunity to demonstrate humility.  He was leading a penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica.  Priests were stationed in confessionals throughout the basilica preparing to hear confessions in multiple languages.  While he was making his way to a designated confessional to hear confessions himself, the Holy Father, unbeknownst to those attending him, made a detour.  He stopped in front of a confessional, knelt before the crucifix, and began confessing his sins to the priest. Imagine the surprise of the priest whom providence chose to hear the pope’s confession!
 
In the sacrament of confession, waiting with joyful expectation, was Christ himself - offering his divine mercy to Pope Francis.
We all know humility is not an easy virtue to live in a consistent way.  But if we want to be friends of Jesus Christ, intimate disciples of the Lord, we need to approach him as sinners, sinners who are in need of mercy.
 
In 1931, Jesus appeared to a young Polish nun: Sister Faustina Kowalska.  He was wearing a white garment with rays of white and red emanating from his heart.  These rays, St. Faustina would later report, represented “blood and water. The white ray stands for the water that makes souls righteous.
The red ray stands for the blood, which is the life of souls.”
 
Christ told her that “my heart overflows with great mercy for souls, and especially for poor sinners….it is for them that the blood and water flowed from my heart as from a fount overflowing with mercy.”
 
The Lord longs to forgive our sins.  We need only to approach him, as Pope Francis did last week, with the knowledge that our humility will draw us into an ever-deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.
 
On April 11, St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center will host “Divine Mercy:
A Catholic Spiritual Gift,” a workshop seminar for all Catholic healthcare professionals.  The workshop will tell the story of St. Faustina Kowalska, and unpack the meaning of the Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ.  It will offer opportunities for healthcare professionals to understand the relationship between the ministry of healing and the ministry of mercy.

I pray that all healthcare professionals will attend this workshop, and that they will approach their ministry in the hope of Christ’s divine mercy.  And I hope that all of us might approach Christ in humility, and receive his divine mercy, and be transformed!

Monday, April 07, 2014

“Don’t ever get so sad that you lose sight of the Resurrection"

Click HERE to listen to Sunday's homily.


Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was known to say, “don’t ever get so sad that you lose sight of the Resurrection”.  We had a sad week last week at GW, one of the saddest ever in the history of this university.  Two students died: Lynley, a senior, and Ben, a freshman.  On behalf of GW Catholics at the Newman Center, I offer deep condolences and sympathies to those who knew them.  I ask you to pray for them.  I posted a prayer on the blog site, GW Catholic Q & A, that would be good to recite regularly for them: “Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them”.  Pray that God will grant mercy to them.  Pray that they asked for mercy.  God, who exists outside of time and space, can take our prayers now and apply them to the moments leading up to their deaths…and move them to ask for mercy, or express sorrow or repentance.  Pray that they were ready to meet God.

Father Sirianni is the GW hospital chaplain who lives here at St Stephen’s.  In the short window between the time Ben, who was Catholic, entered the hospital and died, Father anointed him which is huge; basically, he saved him.  He brought him the Grace of Christ and forgiveness of sins at death. “Anointing of the Sick” used to be called “Last Rites”.  In emergencies or when someone is gravely ill or approaching death, call a priest to anoint the person.  I don’t care if it’s the middle of the night; call us!  We are ready for the call….to save a soul and send them home to God.

This Gospel story of Lazarus being raised from the dead could not be more timely for us.  If we believe that Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, then we believe that He can raise Lynley and Ben, too.  Lazarus was dead for four days.  The Lord even waited a couple more days to perform the miracle just so that everyone knew that he was dead.  But, he also says that this “will not end in death”.  We believe that the events of last week will not end in death.  It ends in life.  It ends in resurrection.

We are men and women of the resurrection.  Lazarus’ resurrection points to Christ’s resurrection.  One of the main reasons we don’t ever get so sad that we lose sight of the resurrection is that it’s opens the gates to Heaven!  Before Christ rose from the dead, no one went to Heaven.  Without it, there is no hope of eternal life.  It opened the door for us to live forever.  What hope and joy that brings!  Also, if God can conquer death, He can conquer anything in my life.  There is nothing that makes me sad that He can’t conquer.  If He can raise Lazarus from the dead, He can raise me up from my sadness or win victory over whatever it is that is making me sad. In general, the resurrection brings such hope and joy that we should be people who show this…people should see our joy because of the resurrection. In fact, many people become Catholic because of the joy of Catholics…that comes from believing in and living the resurrection.  I honestly don’t know how people get through life and death without faith, especially in the resurrection.

Last week, over twenty of Ben’s friends came to the Newman Center to Mass on Wednesday night to pray for their buddy.  It was quite a sight to see.  It was right after Mass that they learned he died, so they asked me to lead them in a short prayer service.  Then, some of them came back to Newman later that night to pray individually.  Yes, in times of need, come to God, come to Newman, come to me.  It was such an inspiring thing to see that many college students coming together to pray.  It struck me that they believe.  They believe in the risen Christ and came to be in His presence; the Eucharist is the Risen Body and Blood of Christ.  They came to pray to Him and just be in His presence.  There is faith on this campus in the risen Christ!  Maybe it’s not practiced as regularly as it should be, but it’s there.  Seeing that was seeing one of the good things God is bringing out of these tragedies.

Finally, I have said this many times since I’ve been here, but not as much this year.  You are good and you are loved.  I beg you, I beg you to believe these two very important truths deeply in your heart: you are good and you are loved. They will help immensely overall in life but especially when hard times hit, especially loneliness or isolation.  If you are having a really tough time on a given night and are thinking about ending it all, please know you are not alone.  We are here for you.  I am here for you.  I have made a deal with some people who were thinking of ending it all that they had to call me first.  They did, and a few lives have been saved, thanks be to God.  The point is that there is someone with you.  You are not alone.  My cards are in the back of Church.  Call me.  I don’t care if it’s three in the morning.  Call me.  You are not alone.  Believe that, and believe that you are good and you are loved.    

  

Friday, April 04, 2014

Pray for Lynley and Ben

Please pray for GW senior Lynley Redwood, who died Tuesday and GW freshman Benjamin Asma, who died Thursday.



Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

"Astonishing Footage of Twin Babies..."




               
               



Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"Body Image": New book on Theology of the Body

The husband of our former campus minister, Alecia, has written a new book involving  Theology of the Body.  John Acquaviva, PhD, emailed me the following about it.  Check it out!




I wanted to personally invite and encourage you to help me to promote this message to the GW community and beyond.

The book is titled  "Improving Your Body Image Through Catholic Teaching" and it is now available via an ebook on Kindle.  The hardcopy will be available in about 3 weeks.

The foreword is written by Teresa Tomeo; and Christopher West and Greg Popcak have endorsed it. 

Here's a direct link to the Kindle version: