Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Trouble with Angels!

Remember the movie with that same title that’s in my header? it was about an all girls Catholic school. Rosalind Russell was the Mother Superior and Hayley Mills was the one of the students who got herself into all sorts of silly trouble. It also lightly touched that much of her problems dealt with the relationship with her uncle who was having difficulty with her and felt that the boarding school could straighten her out. She was orphaned and left in his care and her antics were more than he could handle.

In the end, after four years of “trouble”, she became one of the girls to stay at the school/convent because she was drawn to the vocation of possibly serving the Lord by joining the convent. It caused a rift with her cohort in crime. her best friend and her were little rebels and did all sorts of things against what the convent stood for. So she feels betrayed by her best friends decision. God’s call is certainly a mystery and trying to explain why anyone would want to become a priest, nun, deacon, religious or missionary has been unfathomable. But, it happens!

First of all the trouble with angels is that many people do not know the definition of an angel. If I am correct (and I may not be), angels are beings that are superior in the hierarchy of creation. Human beings are categorized in this lineage but it has been made pretty clear that human beings cannot become angels. We can display angelic behavior by being a helping hand, a confidante and a caregiver. But we cannot become angels!

So often at funerals we hear how the deceased is now an angel in heaven; playing their harp and singing with the heavenly hosts in God’s choir of angels. Sorry to rock your faith BUT, when we die we become saints. I know, I know…… we want to believe we have wings, play harps (without lessons) and walk around the earth pulling people out of the way from danger.   In the Eucharistic prayer at the Catholic mass, we call down God from heaven and the “communion of saints”  (That’s US!) to join God in his banquet table. As brothers and sisters in Christ we share in the breaking of the bread and wine that has been made into the Body and Blood of Christ.

It is believed that each and every person born has an angel to guard them. This is one of the first things we learn as children. Sadly, we so often forget that our angels grow with us and we do not always acknowledge them! So as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels, please remember to pray to them…..to help you, guide you and keep you safe!

Full Context Makes The Difference!

I wanted to post my entire homily for Amanda Bach. I was under quoted in the newspapers so I felt that I needed to let everyone see what I said. There are some highlights and underlines that I kept in there to help prompt me when I spoke. You may not reprint without permission.

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Rev. Andrew J. Corona

Funeral Homily for Amanda Bach

Friday September 23, 2011

 

We all experience the occasions when the electricity suddenly and unexpectedly goes off. We know that when there is no power everything stops. In that moment we can almost hear silence. The natural hum around us is deadened. All of our creature comforts stop. The TV doesn’t work, the radio is silent, all of our electric appliances come to a *grinding halt. But the worst time for the power to go out is at night because now we are thrown into the darkness.

In this darkness we may become disoriented…we feel lost, helpless and maybe even frightened. Then we may become angry because now our lives have been interrupted and whatever we were doing or were hoping to do is at a standstill.

We want to know what’s going on. If it’s a passing thunderstorm we can easily understand but it doesn’t diminish our feelings. If it’s otherwise we just want to start blaming! Who caused this? What is going on? I paid the electric bill. Darn that NIPSCO! There is a whole range of emotions that may surge forward. Until the lights come back again, there is no peace.

Losing Amanda has also been like the power going out. One minute the sun is shining and the next thing we have is the experience of being thrown into the darkness. Without the slightest warning, or the slightest chance to prepare ourselves, we are plunged into an impenetrable darkness. In the space of a moment our whole world is turned upside down. Nothing could prepare us from the news we got this past weekend.

Naturally we ask why?** Why did this happen? We know there is a human factor but we don’t know why! Our anger becomes real when we learned of the cause. It is an anger that we can carry us to a place where we would rather not go. And, it is a place where we must not go!

You need to know that God’s passion for justice is fierce because he identifies so completely with those who are weak and powerless. God identifies with you who have suffered such a devastating loss.** Yes, God’s passion for justice is so fierce but his call for compassion, mercy and forgiveness is even more fierce! Bill, Sandra and Sarah, we cannot possibly know or understand what you are feeling, but there is someone who does. Jesus knows your pain. Jesus was himself a murder victim.”

I want to make it perfectly clear that God did not will this to happen. This was not the will of our God. It is through the human weakness of sin and selfishness that is at the core of this ending.

So, what do we do? Well, there is only one thing we can do. Just as when we experience a blackout we rush for a light, any light, even the light of a humble candle. But now the only rush to the one light that can penetrate this awful darkness. It is the light of Christ.

We are told in the Gospel that as Jesus Christ died on the cross and ‘darkness came over the whole land until mid- afternoon, while the sun’s light failed. This means that the family and friends of Jesus experienced what we are experiencing. They felt lost and disoriented. Their hopes and dreams were crumbled. They did not know that the darkness would not have the last word because the Light of Christ would shine again!

How wonderful it is when the lights come back on again. How wonderful then it must have been for the apostles when on that Easter day they walked once more in the light of our Lord. It was not quite the old light. It was brighter! It was the light of their risen Lord! He broke the chains of death and he triumphed over the grave.

Our risen Lord is with us now in this moment. His light shines on his children; you and I, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. We must open our hearts to Christ who now lovingly embraces Amanda and us into his arms. Her life should not be defined by how it ended but rather by the way we loved her and how she shared her love with us.

St. Paul tells us that nothing, neither suffering, nor tragedy, nor death that can separate us from the love of God which we have witnessed in Jesus Christ.

And so now we come to this day. A day that, we too, will long for.  A day when we come face to face with God, who will embrace us and welcome us home.  We come to this church today and we are reminded of our humanity and the suffering we will endure as we complete our journeys.  We are reminded through the celebration of this Eucharistic feast that God is extending his invitation to us at his table. To share and enjoy, to partake in his body and blood.

The tall white candle is the Paschal Candle. It stands besides the earthly remains at every funeral Mass. We call it the Paschal Candle because we light it at Easter.  There are five grains of incense inserted in it symbolizing the five wounds of Jesus, the two wounds in his hands, the two in his legs and the wound in his side. It is almost as if Jesus is standing beside this coffin looking up at his Father and pleading on behalf of Amanda, saying, “Look, I bore these wounds in my body for the salvation of Amanda. I suffered, I died, I rose again for her. Forgive her Father and take her to Paradise.” Also in the Paschal Candle there are two letters of the Greek alphabet, the Alpha and Omega. In other words, Jesus is the beginning and end of all that we do and say. If it were not for Jesus suffering those five wounds, dying and rising, life would not have meaning. But Jesus was the beginning and end of Amanda’s life and is the beginning and end of all our lives. It is the Lord who gives meaning to our lives, especially in times of suffering.

Remembering a Life.

Amanda Bach

I can’t even begin to express the emotion that has been pouring forth. This week I will bury a young woman whose life was senselessly taken away. There are so many stories swirling around about “what happened?” I wish people could remember that there are two families that are devastated. One of the victim and the other the alleged suspect. Two young people. Children in my eyes. The story is still unraveling and so is the speculation. In the end, justice will triumph.

In God’s eyes, his passion for justice is fierce but his compassion and forgiveness are greater. Our young people who were friends of both persons have been steadfast in their devotion to them. Unfortunately, their coping skills can do more damage than good. Cool heads are difficult to prevail.

I have been fortunate enough to spend a little time with Amanda’s parents, Bill and Sandra. They are two very lovely people. Their courage has been incredible but I know that in the next few days the calm that I have witnessed will now turn to outward grief. But this whole family is amazing. They are fortunate to have a very close knit family who will give them the support they need in the days to come.

My suggestion is easy although it will be difficult for some to follow and it is simply this: PRAY! Pray for the repose of the soul of our beloved Amanda. Pray for the family of the accused. Pray for the young people who were their friends. Pray for understanding, forgiveness and kindness. Pray that we will move through this whole event with our faith intact and our trust in humanity be restored. Pray for yourself. Pray for your family. And most importantly, pray and give thanks to God for life!

Hello….it’s me!

ROMA!

I’m beginning to see how quickly I can get behind in blogging! Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy doing it and I certainly do not suffer from a lack of topics. Right now I am trying to stay focused on work because I am anxiously awaiting my trip to Europe. I’ve taken some heat with a few things lately but at night I’ve had no trouble sleeping. My only concern is the long plane ride to the ship. That wasn’t so much fun. If I could sleep for 10 hours on a plane it wouldn’t be so bad. Jet lag returning will be a hoot. I think it took me a week to get back on schedule and I get motion sickness while on land. I’ve yet to get seasick which I understand isn’t so much fun.

Back at the rectory I’ve been dealing with critters. Not mine but the ones my critters bring in from the outside. Darn that dog door. The cats have left me gifts of two dead chipmunks and one dead mouse. On top of that I have solid proof that there is a raccoon coming in and eating the dry dog food. Tonight the trap comes out. Thankfully I have a fellow in the parish who disposes them in an approved setting near the Dunes State Park. Killing them is not an option for me!

Can we talk about the weather now? Loving it! My wardrobe is geared for cool and cold. The summer is great and fun but I love the cooler weather of autumn. I will be quick to point out that I did not mention snow. I, like many others, only want snow around Christmas to complete the scene and the mood. We are only six weeks away from LITE radio starting the Christmas music.

It’s time to get moving….have a great weekend y’all!

Let Those Who Have Ears……..

Say what?

Now and then someone will tell me that when I was preaching  they felt I was talking directly to them. Often my response is: If it fits, it’s yours! Each week I am challenged with breaking down the word of God into everyday language. Often I like to tell personal stories or use historical tidbits to shore up my point. But my main focus is to be able to challenge people to ask “where do I fit into all of this?” Humanity is riddled with sin and selfishness. It is that lack of perfection that truly makes us “human”. We should never have to apologize for being human because we all have the capability to throw our words , actions and energies into a way that is pleasing to God and God’s people. Sadly, because we are tainted with sin and selfishness, we do not always attain the greater of our being.

But the Good News is that God sent us help in the form of flesh and blood. His son Jesus was born to help show us the way to the Father. What we do with this knowledge is up to us. The way to God requires us to listen and pay attention to what the message teaches us in today’s world. But more than that we are to respond to that call. It is when we respond that our God given gifts come to light and hopefully to life.

If we sit back without listening to the Gospel message, the lesson can become distorted and reinterpreted in a manner that is contrary to what God hopes for us. There are so many obstacles that can cloud our earthly journey and the veil of deceit can easily cover our eyes.

My job is to offer the hand of Jesus and the hope of eternal life. The message is not always easy to hear. If we do not have the ears of faith, hearing the message can be difficult!

Calgon, take me away!

Up, up and away!

As each day and as year moves by, I am beginning to see the importance of giving my body the rest it needs to fulfill and complete my duties. One of the things I always say is that my job and role of servant “will not kill me!” If permissible, I find myself going to bed around 8:30 p.m. every night. I made it a habit of turning on the timer for the TV and it seems that as soon as I am in bed and my head hits the pillow…..I am on my way to sleepyland. It feels so good to wake up refreshed.

Another habit I’ve made is a To-Do list. If it’s not written down then I forget. It has nothing to do with age, pre-senior moments or tattle -tale signs of Alzheimer’s. I’m sure anyone who has any amount of responsibility can resonate with that. Even with a list, I still forget stuff. And life moves on!

Last night I watched the Republican debate. I was looking for a worthy candidate and I think I am going to keep my eye out on one particular candidate. I will say that Rick Perry threw it all away when he spoke about Social Security being a Ponzi scheme. I think of my poor mother who scrapes to help keep herself alive on her retirement and affording to have my dad in a nursing home where he gets excellent care. Every month it seems that she’s tangling with Medicaid. Rosie is 83 years old and doesn’t need this crap.

Perry also lost me when he spoke of his distrust in science! What a doof! And Huntsman practically bragging about how they execute people in Texas was shameful. Pro-life? Don’t think so! I recently read a quote that went something like this: I get my comedy from Fox and my politics from Comedy Central (Jon Stewart). Spin, spin, spin! And we wonder why the voters are dizzy? I hate politics, I love politics! Are Americans THAT asleep where we are not watching the keeper of the gate? We are in trouble!

 

A Real Day Off!

The Crucifix at Nativity.

Keeping the stream of consciousness flowing can be difficult if you do not allow time for your mind to rest. I had hoped that I could make daily journal entries but so many times my day is filled with conversations and encounters that are not appropriate for me to print. That is, sometimes the intensity of my ministry will not permit me to share some of the day to day events. It would be very unprofessional and certainly un-Christlike!

Today was my scheduled day off. I find myself thinking of all the things I would like to do and today I accomplished very little. This is a good thing! I need to rest and restore my energy level. I’m not sure if my parish family realizes how difficult it is to oversee so many issues. Some of the issues that are brought to me border on silliness. BUT, I have to learn how to wade through some of the stories that cross my path. I feel that people want me to take their side when many times it’s very clear they need to make amends. In essence, I have no problem telling folks the truth and often times the truth is hard to bear.

But despite the “silliness” I really do love my job. There is so much I want to accomplish and I have great hopes and a reasonable vision of where I would love to move. Currently I am examining the Little Rock Scripture Studies Program. It’s awesome! I hope people will move towards it with zeal. I love teaching Scripture.

For fun today, I made a whipped cream with cream cheese frosting for a Red Velvet Cake. WOW! Was it ever good! As I sit back I am looking forward to watching the Republican debate tonight. So dear friends and followers, know that I pray for God’s people each day. And I ask you to pray for me.

Say What?

Listen to me!

Chances are, if you were to ask a priest if they would prefer to do a wedding or a funeral, chances are the answer would be a funeral… hands down! It’s sad to admit that. It seems that too often with weddings, the sacredness of the Sacrament gets lost in the folly of all the incidentals such as, the flowers, the music, the dress, the music and a host of other things that have very little relevancy to the actual ceremony. And, unfortunately, the one’s who are getting married often do not have a clue as to what to do. For one thing, I will not work with the mother of the bride or groom or Aunt Hazel from Iowa. I work directly with the couple and ask them what they want. If they do not know, I will gently guide them to what is proper decorum. The beauty of the liturgy is often lost when we start introducing elements that are completely irrelevant to the ritual. I often blame the soap opera’s for portraying weddings that will undoubtedly end in some kind of love triangle or a weird divorce or some other dramatic scenario. In fairness, that’s why they are on TV; they are paid to offer that dramatic lift and to shock our sensations. AND, like idiots we eat that crap up!

My goodness! Life is tough enough with the real drama that goes on through marriage. The two most common reasons why marriages break-up is lack of communication and finances. That’s a fact. The real drama in the homes is how we pay the rent, buy clothes for the kids and keep the car in tune. That is the short list!

I bring this up because yesterday I performed a wedding for some good family friends. I felt really good about this union and my mood reflected that. I know this family very well. I know of their joys and I am certainly aware of their struggles too. But because they are a very good Christian family I have seen them move through all of their times with such dignity and grace. It is rare to be able to say this however I will not and cannot abandon hope for others.

I see part of my job as a priest to help people restore hope in their lives. I do this through the Word of God. The Bible is a life giving resource and a model for all on how we are to attain God’s kingdom. This is a lofty task. Let those who have ears….hear!

Lemonade Anyone?

Squeeze me!

Okay, so yesterday I was not able to squeeze in the movie “The Help” but I did go on a little road trip to Streamwood and Schaumburg. In Streamwood, I stopped at the home of “CreeperBob”. That’s his eBay name and for his protection I will leave it just at that. I bought a new scooter from this man who is a paraplegic. It was pretty obvious as to why he wanted to sell this particular scooter. CB is a rather large man who’s body frame mammoths his former chair. The chair he has now is at best “well loved”. It’s a huge chair that has seen it’s day and many more to come. In other words to just say it was worn would be an understatement. It is coated with with dirt, dust, grease, food and possibly some other disgusting things. All the leather on the chair was worn and cracked and just plain ugly.

But that was not the part I wish to remember about this man. Yes, he was not the tidiest man as evidenced by his clothes which were coated with grime. And, Yes, he didn’t emanate a lovely odor about him.

The thing I will remember about CB is his indomitable spirit! He became a paraplegic back in 1997. He had become a taxi cab driver in Chicago to earn some extra income for his family. Not one to neglect the needs and care of his family, he put himself out on the streets. He had only been working the streets for a month and a half when he was robbed and then shot. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. For two months he was  in a hospital bed recuperating from a wound that severed his spinal chord. Then after that, several intensive weeks in rehab. Going home to a new house that was now outfitted for a handicapped person should have been a comfort to CB. But as he says, he was rolled into the house and looked out the window and viewed the ramp up to his door. Instead of bringing him comfort, he sat there and cried.

But the tears did not last. As he says, that next day he dried his tears and was up and around. He went into his garage and began sorting through it and arranged it in such a way where he could move around and be productive and feel useful. Today CB has a scrap business in Streamwood that is his livelihood along with an occasional sale on eBay to add extra income.

I guess this is another one of those lessons about not judging a book by it’s cover. I left feeling that I had made a friend and walked away just a tad bit more hope filled and inspired.

So what do you do when life gives lemons…………………………