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May 19th, 2014posted by propertymanagement

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Virgin Mary After Restoration

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Are You the Next Matthias?

May 1st, 2014posted by Sean Ater

The first act of the apostles after Jesus’ Ascension was to find a replacement for Judas. Of all the things they could do, they chose to focus their attention on finding a twelfth apostle. Why? Twelve was a very significant number to the Jews, representing completeness.  There were twelve tribes of Israel, so if the disciples of Jesus were to symbolize a new Israel capable of evangelizing the whole world, a twelfth apostle was needed.

But Jesus had chosen the original twelve. Now that he was gone, how would they know whom to choose?  In the upper room 120 people gathered for prayer and reflection, when Peter stood up to propose a solution.  Peter had one criterion, that the new apostle be someone who had been a disciple of Jesus from the very beginning, from his baptism by John until the Ascension. Peter reasoned that the new apostle must be able to witness to Jesus’s entire ministry. He must have followed Jesus before anyone knew him, stayed with him when he made enemies, and believed in him when he spoke of the cross and of eating his body — teachings that had made others melt away.

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Saint Matthias from the workshop of Simone Martini

This short account in Acts 1 is the one and only time we hear of Matthias in Scripture. There is no other mention of him in all the New Testament, although some  other ancient texts speak about Matthias’ enthusiastic embrace of his new role, including evangelization, persecution, and death in the service of the Lord.

So how does one qualify to be an apostle?

Clement of Alexandria said that Jesus chose Matthias, like all the other apostles, not for what he already was, but for what Jesus foresaw he would become. He was elected not because he was worthy but because he would become worthy. Jesus chooses all of us in the same way, from our Baptism. That’s why I don’t like to talk about being “ready” to receive Sacraments like Confirmation.  Let’s face it – no one is really “ready” to receive the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.  The fact is, through the grace of the Sacraments, God makes us ready to be who he has called us to be.  That means that the only way we’ll ever reach our fullest potential is by receiving the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation and by continuing to receive Christ in the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.  

So what is Jesus calling you to become? Come to Mass and find out!

Almost finished…..well, maybe!

April 30th, 2014posted by Sean Ater

schedule_8521cnpOn Friday May 9th, I defend my doctoral dissertation Teilhard in America  at the University of Dayton, the final step in  a PhD in Theological Studies.  I find this utterly amazing.  I never imagined that well into my fifties, over ten years after entering a Master’s in Theology program, I would be at this point in my life.

God leads us down some very wild and unexpected paths!

 I am also ALL too aware, though, that without the continuous support, encouragement and interest of many people, there is no way this work would ever have been finished.  Even more than any amount of time, effort, or research involved, completing this degree has been a psychological and spiritual battle.  Thank God for those who surrounded me and kept reassuring me it was indeed possible, that it would happen.

In a sense, then, I see this doctoral thing as a massive group effort.  We all collaborated, in one way or another, but I was the one individually “called out” by God to do this particular part of the work.   Isn’t that the way it is in life, whatever our vocation? No one really does it all alone; it’s only jointly, with God, that things fall together.

In a sense it is too bad, though, that unfortunately I am also the only one to whom they will confer the degree, but at least I can share the celebration.   So we will rejoice, as a community, the signs of God at work among us in this way.  We will celebrate and appreciate all our varied gifts.

I will hope, too, that by the completion of this degree at least one other person will be inspired to also follow God’s call into a change in life.  If that person is a woman, who by my example realizes that YES, it IS indeed possible to do something more, to be something more, to follow an inner longing to grow, even at middle-age or beyond, then I will especially be very happy.

As for the future, well, I intend to just keep on doing what I’m doing, meandering down this very crooked path called my life, trying to determine when and how high to jump, and where to turn,  as requested by a most loving, heavenly Father.  Hopefully I’ll get it at least somewhat right, even if right now I have no clue where I am going.

I am sure, though, that even if – as usual – I don’t get it perfect, some more truly amazing things lie up ahead.  After all, our God is truly an awesome God, and what is really cool is to be able to provide some small service in his name to the community I call home.  

I’m sure hoping, though, that future service is a bit easier than a doctoral program!

P.S.  Prayers are appreciated for May 9th!