Program #0249 for Friday, March 2, 2012: 2012 Catholic Appeal

March 1, 2012

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell

Today’s guest(s): Msgr. Robert Deeley, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Boston

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Today’s topics: 2012 Catholic Appeal

Summary of today’s show: This weekend marks the launch of the 2012 Catholic Appeal, the primary fundraising effort for the central ministries of the Archdiocese of Boston. Msgr. Robert Deeley joins Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell to discuss the importance of the Appeal to the work of the Church, not just for those that are directly funded by it, but for all Catholic parishes and apostolates that depend on the support of the central ministries, as well as the work of Cardinal Seán and the other bishops. Scot and Fr. Mark then consider Cardinal Seán’s homily for this coming Sunday in which he considers God’s call for us to be transfigured and how our response to that call can take shape. Fr. Mark also notes that his work on the Tribunal over the past 11 years has positively affected the lives of many people and supported the work of priests and pastoral associates. He said it would not have been possible without the generosity of donors to the Catholic Appeal.

1st segment: Scot and Fr. Mark discuss that this weekend is the kickoff for the 2012 Catholic Appeal. Fr. Mark said its important every year. Scot said it was moved from a May start to a March start a few years ago to coincide with Lent and give Cardinal Seán an opportunity to preach on Lent in a video or audio recorded homily throughout the Archdiocese. They will discuss the homily in detail in the third part of the show.

Scot welcomed vicar general Msgr. Robert Deeley to the show and said it’s his first Catholic Appeal as vicar general. Scot said this is a big deal for every ministry in the Archdiocese whether it receives money directly or not because it undergirds the central ministries. Msgr. Deeley said its the most important effort to raise funds every year. The Catholic appeal is the foundation for all the work we do. It enriches our parishes because it is the instrument by which we help priests, deacons, and pastoral associates. We also work to strengthen families, inspire the next generation of Catholics, and aid our leadership here in the Church. Campus ministry is an important part of our ministry. He recently celebrated Mass at the chapel at MIT and it was standing-room only with students excited to be there. In the brochure for the Appeal is a picture of Stephen, a young man at MIT who has been served by campus ministry, and Msgr. Deeley was able to speak with him about how he has been helped by the ministry.

Fr. Mark asked how money helps with evangelization of Catholics. Msgr. Deeley said the Cardinal has asked Bishop Kennedy to head a special initiative for evangelization over the next year. We hope that in our parishes there can be evangelization, which is supported by the ministries at the Archdiocese.

Scot said the materials for the Catholic Appeal look great. The theme this year is “The Good Samaritan is You.” Msgr. Deeley said that is not only this year’s theme, but is also a new way to look at the Catholic Appeal. It reminds us that the work of the Church is about each of us individually. As Jesus speaks of the Good Samaritan, he teaches that when we serve one another we serve the Lord. The Good Samaritan is the perfect exemplar of what Jesus was calling us to be. Being Church is about each of us in our own way and able to afford, provide what we can for the needs of others. This is fundamental to what we are as Catholics.

Scot said last year about 44,000 families contributed to the Catholic Appeal. How does he answer someone who asks why they shouldn’t just support the parish? Msgr. Deeley said the parish can’t exist without the Archdiocese. The Catholic Appeal is foundation of any other ministry happening. It is the offertory of the Archdiocese. Fr. Mark said some pastors hate asking for money, but if you believe in the good use it goes for, you should be able to stand up and ask for what you need. Msgr. Deeley said taking care of the Church and the poor the Church serves is part of our Christian responsibilities. It may not be comfortable to preach on, but it is a duty.

Scot said pastors said having the Appeal launch in Lent ties in with the almsgiving of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Why is it important all Catholics in the Archdiocese to come together? Msgr. Deeley said the strength we have by the collective gifts we can use to further the mission of the Church makes it possible for other programs to exist. He offered the example of Catholic Charities, which has its own sources of fundraising, and turns to the Archdiocese for a lot of help.

Scot said there’s a lot of information online which offers a transparency. Chancellor Jim McDonough concludes his service to the Archdiocese today. Msgr. Deeley said its hard to overstate what Jim has accomplished. He’s been a tremendous help to the Cardinal in moving the Church of Boston forward. Fr. Mark added his agreement. Jim McDonough gave both an outsider and insider perspective as both a former banker, but also a Catholic with a great love of the Church.

Scot said both Msgr. and the cardinal will be on the road this weekend. Msgr. Deeley will be preaching at three parishes within about a 10 mile drive of the cathedral where he lives, while the cardinal will have about a 50-minute drive. Msgr. Deeley will be at St. Eulalia’s, Winchester; St. Brigid, Lexington; and Sacred Heart, Cambridge. Cardinal Sean will be at Holy Family, Amesbury, and Sacred Heart, Middleboro. Monsignor said the goal was to have them cover all five regions and the cardinal got first choice. Msgr. Deeley lived at St. Brigid’s for a number of years when he was working on the tribunal. Those Masses are intended for anyone who would like a live kickoff to the Appeal. Everyone else will hear a video or audio homily from Cardinal Seán.

Msgr. Deeley would like everyone to think about we can never do anything alone. We are strengthened by our common bond in the Church. It helps us to speak and act in ways that no one of us can do alone. The Catholic Appeal is our way to be the Good Samaritan and to make the Church stronger.

2nd segment: Every Friday we discuss the readings for this coming Sunday. Because we want to preview Cardinal Seán’s homily for this Sunday, we want to read them now to give the context for what he says.

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing-
all this because you obeyed my command.”

  • Gospel for the Second Sunday of Lent (Mark 9:2-10)

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Scot said we hear these readings every Lent on the second Sunday. The first reading prefigures the crucifixion of Christ and the transfiguration helps the apostles understand why God would send His only son in a bloody sacrifice on the cross. Fr. Mark said both readings have a returning, an unbelievable moment of God and then a return. The first reading is one of the most striking stories in the Bible. Abraham is never the same again. In the Gospel, Peter, James, and John are terrified. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience of God and then a return to normal. Most of our life is lived in those moments of “return”. Scot said we are called to be listening and responding. We will now hear what Cardinal Seán said about this first reading about Abraham’s call:

The History of Salvation began with a call. God Calls Abraham by name. He was an unlikely choice. God’s choices often surprise us. Abraham was too old, he was childless, hardly the right person to be the father of a great nation, but what Abraham lacked in human attributes, he compensated for by his great faith. A faith that allowed him to trust in God completely, to hope against hope, to obey even the hardest command ever imaginable: to sacrifice the son of the promise, Isaac who was born when Abraham was 80 years old. This was the son whose descendants would be as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore.

Abraham’s faith in God is of such magnitude that he felt God would be able to resurrect the slain Isaac in order that His prophesy might be fulfilled. Such faith in God’s word and in His promise lead this Old Testament passage to be regarded as incredibly significant and exemplary one. Isaac carrying the wood for his own sacrifice prefigures Jesus carrying the Cross up the Mount of Calvary to be sacrificed. The ram or the male sheep that Abraham is to substitute for his son as the sacrifice, points to Christ the Lamb of God, a substitute for humanity.

And Abraham’s willingness to give up his own son Isaac is seen as a foreshadowing of the willingness of God the Father to sacrifice his Son. This powerful passage has been an inspiration to Christians, Jews and Muslims who all claim to be spiritual descendants of Abraham.

To us Catholics there is a powerful Eucharistic symbolism but the story also speaks to us about faith and sacrifice. We too are being called to be a part of God’s holy people, to journey towards a promised land and to fulfill a mission in this world. God is calling each of us by name.

Scot said the Cardinal began and ended by saying the history of salvation began with a call to Abraham and to us. The response is to model Abraham and Jesus by responding with faith and a generosity that recognizes all our gifts come from God. Part of our duty is knowing we can return it in love to God. Fr. Mark said a call is not necessarily a call to something that’s fun or easy. The call of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus was a call to something difficult and hard to understand. Yet we have to listen to that type of call too in our lives. So many people listening have been called to carry the wood of the cross through illness or financial burdens or needs of their families. We’re all called to carry the cross. We’re not always called to something to jump for joy about.

Scot said there are many levels of call. The Latin word is vocare from which we get vocation. From all of time we were created with a purpose for own lives that will return us to heaven. Then there is a call which is a substantial path to heaven that we call our personal vocation: religious life, married life, priesthood, etc. Beyond all the other good things we can do, our main path in life is to be the best husband or priest or religious. Sometimes our job vocation and personal vocation conflict, the calling to be a good husband or priest or religious takes precedence. Then there are the daily calls, the competing demands and requests and the ways we can respond each day in prayer. This is the call Cardinal Seán is talking about this weekend: How much am I being asked to sacrifice financially for those in need here in the Archdiocese of Boston. For some it might not be a lot, even if it’s just the widow’s mite for someone who can’t afford much. Certainly we are all called to holiness.

Fr. Mark said it takes everyone of us. He recalled a recent example in his own life of a man who stepped up to help Fr. Mark communicate with a deaf man. It took their combined gifts to reach this deaf man.

Lent is a time for us to reaffirm our faith and our willingness to embrace the sacrifices a life of discipleship demands of us. Lent is about making time and space for God, going into the desert, climbing the mountain. We need to step back from the routine, the noise, the distractions that prevent us from seeing what is really important in life.

Lent is a communal retreat that all Catholics are making together. Our Lenten sacrifices and prayers prepare us to renew our baptismal vows at Easter and to walk closer to Christ and our fellow disciples.

The geography of lent begins with the first Sunday in the desert and now the second Sunday finds us on the mountain. I can never hear this gospel without recalling my own visit to Monte Tabor, the place of the Transfiguration. I was making retreat with a group of priests from Massachusetts. We were staying at a retreat house on the mount of the Beatitudes. In the mornings we had prayers and conference, and in the afternoon we visited the holy places. To get to Mount Tabor we went in buses to the foot of the mountain, but the mountain was so steep that the buses could not make the climb. They took us up in some old Mercedes taxicabs with kamikaze drivers. The hairpin turns and the sheer cliffs were terrifying. When we arrived at the top I felt like St. Peter. I wanted to kiss the ground and say: “how good it is to be here. Let’s build some tents and stay because I’m not getting in that cab again.”

The views from the mountain are spectacular, but what the apostle saw in that secluded place is much more stunning that the view of the valley; for they glimpsed the glory of God. The apostles needed to know that Jesus is much more than a persuasive rabbi or a great miracle worker. They needed to be assured that the scandal they would soon find in the cross is not the end, that it is necessary, and that all will end in glory for the Lord and for themselves. The mystery of the Trinity is made visible. A bright cloud overshadowed them, it is the shechinah, the luminous cloud that covered the Israelites during the exodus. That represents the Holy Spirit, and the voice of the Father is heard: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him”. Our Lord is strengthened and confirmed as to his unique sonship, his necessary cross, and his glorious future beyond, and because of it. The lesson for us can hardly be different. Carrying our daily cross, in imitation of Jesus, is our own prelude to glory. Transfiguration also means there is another level to our Christian lives that is yet to be. And what blessed one it is!

On Mount Tabor were present the three persons of the Trinity, the three apostles and the two prophets. Heaven and earth meet in this event. At our Sunday Eucharist God’s glory is hidden but present. The community helps us to climb the mountain and glimpse Christ’s loving presence among us. Here we find the strength and motivation to continue on our journey of faith and to fulfill the mission that Christ has entrusted to us.

Scot said he loved that the transfiguration is for us a sign of how heaven and earth meet which is similar to how heaven and earth meet at every Mass in the Eucharist. The partaking in the Eucharist as a community strengthens and motivates us to continue in our faith with the mission entrusted to us. Fr. Mark said no one us will encounter Christ like the apostles did in the transfiguration, but all of us get glimpses of God. He said a new father showed him the photo of his newborn baby and God is part of the pulse of that miraculous child. Scot said his wife and son were on the Mount of the Transfiguration this past Tuesday in the Holy Land and she described what it was like to go up there on the very high mountain with a beautiful view. It’s not difficult to imagine that if God was going to give his voice from heaven on a cloud, it would be on top of this mountain, not just because of its beauty, but because it can be seen from miles away. As we look out from these mountains, we are often struck by the wonder of creation, which is a glimpse of God. We’re all called to be aware of how we will be transfigured if we respond to Jesus’ call to us. Just like the apostles didn’t really understand, we’re not going to understand exactly how heaven is until we’re there.

Fr. Mark said he’s never been to the Holy Land, but everyone he knows who’s been, it’s been a lifechanging event. You never look at the Bible the same again. The lifechanging event is a transfiguration. But Cardinal Sean also points out that lifechanging events begin in the desert with quiet and solitude. The desert is a challenging place. But to truly be transfigured, we must start with prayer and penance and fasting.

It is during this Lenten season that I come to remind all of the Catholics of the Archdiocese that our mission of evangelization, our works of mercy, and our service to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the formation of priests, deacons and lay leaders, our outreach in campus ministry, the youth, our apostolate to immigrants, and the countless services and activities of the faith community depend upon your participation, your generosity, and spirit of sacrifice.

Each year we turn to our Catholic faithful to ask for your help to be able to carry on our mission. We ask for your prayers, your time, treasure and talent. We know that many grandmothers in nursing homes are our prayer warriors. They join us each day for Mass and rosary on Catholic Television. We have thousands of volunteers who carry on so many acts of community service, works of mercy, religious formation of our young people and so many other ministries . On my own behalf and on behalf of the wider community, I thank each of you sincerely.

We are also profoundly grateful for the monetary support given through the Catholic Appeal from many Catholics throughout the diocese. I know that it is your faith that allows you to make this sacrifice as did the Good Samaritan who stopped to care for someone he didn’t even know.

Let us continue to work together to carry on the mission joyfully and generously so that the Gospel will be known and loved. Each of us must do our part.

We are not alone but surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who urge us on together through the forty days of spiritual renewal to the joy of Easter resurrection. Know that you are ever in my prayers.

Scot said we each one must do our part so that the everyone can hear the Gospel. Fr. Mark said he’s been a priest for 21 years and worked in Central Ministries for over 11. He thinks what he’s done in the Tribunal for 11 years has helped heal a lot of people and helps priests and parishioners fulfill their vocations. This is possible through the Catholic Appeal. He knows without a doubt that God works through him and that dollar in the Appeal in part funds him and every other person in the building and throughout the Archdiocese who have a direct effect on the lives of people. He knows the effect and wants to say Thank You for allowing him to do what he does.

Scot said the person who gave to the Appeal 30 years ago or 25 years ago, investing in everyone who worked for the Church, have left this legacy so Fr. Mark can minister to people today and for many more years. And those investments 25 years ago in him lead to his current and future service. Scot spoke of Bishop Kennedy’s upcoming new role starting in July as the vicar for the New Evangelization. We all know someone who isn’t practicing their faith anymore and we all know we can do a better job in proclaiming the faith and reaching out to them. We want the biggest family reunion in heaven ad that’s really the work of the Central Ministries of the Church. While The Good Catholic Life isn’t directly funded by theCatholic Appeal, it wouldn’t be possible without the Catholic Appeal. Every gift makes a difference.

Scot said he spent his first 4 years at the Pastoral Center in the development office and he knows that the every gift matters, no matter how much. We are a much stronger family works together.

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