Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Chicken and the Ewe

Things are pretty quiet on the farm these days. We are just waiting for the first snowfall and then we can do some logging. We will cut next years firewood too. Oh yes.. I almost forgot .....Merry Christmas to every one and have a happy new year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Homily for Solemnity of Christ the King year A

Today is the solemnity of Christ the King. Some of us may ask.... “Why in today's world do we need a king? Why... when we live in a country with a democratic government that looks after us. Why when the world tells us we have everything we need right at our finger tips. Why when the poor and sick are looked after by the state?”

One would suppose that we live in a perfect world.

Well... I guess you know that these are true statements... but probably you also know that all these things are only ideas and not the reality.

Because we are told these things are real and complete is precisely why we need Christ the King. None of the things I mentioned are based on Love. In other words... the world we live in is not oriented to be relative to God... but it is oriented relative to personal comfort, to money, and power. None of witch can bring us to a place of being that has no anxiety, no pain, no worries and no fear.

It is only through living life relative to Christ the King that these things can truly be overcome. When we live life relative to Christ we can begin to focus on the reality of the kingdom of God. Then and only then does life make sense. We were not created to become our own little gods with our own little earthly kingdoms We were created so that we can make our way to Gods kingdom and to become friends of His.

How can we do this is the next question many might have. Well... we can look to the saints and learn what they learned. St. Mark the monk tells us... “In spite of all of life's distractions call to mind daily who Christ is and what he became for our sakes.

Reflect on the light that his divinity revealed and glorified in the holy kingdom by all spiritual beings: angels, archangels, cherubim and serphim and all the spiritual powers whose names we do not know. Then think to what depth of human humiliation He descended in. His unselfish goodness, becoming in all respects like us who are dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death, captives through the transgression of Adam and dominated by the enemy through the activity of our passions.

When we were in this harsh captivity, ruled by invisible and bitter death, the master of all invisible and visible creation was not ashamed to humble himself to take upon himself our human nature. He became like us in all things except he was without sin.

All the penalties imposed upon us by divine judgement upon Adam for that first transgression such as death, toil, hunger, thirst and so on... He took on himself, becoming what we are, so that we might become what He is. Being rich he became poor for our sakes, so that through his poverty we might become rich. In His great love for us he became like us, so that through every virtue we might become like Him.

From the time that Christ came to dwell with us, man, created in his own image and likeness, is truly renewed through the grace and power of the Spirit, attaining to the perfect love which casts out fear... the love which is no longer able to fail, for love never fails. Love says St. John, is God... and he who dwells in love dwells in God. The apostles ( who are us today ) were granted this love, and so, were the ones who practised virtue as they did, offering themselves completely to the Lord, and following Christ with all their heart throughout their lifetimes.

So you too... should continually keep in mind the great King who took human nature upon Himself.”

This teaching by St.Mark the Hermit Tells us how to think of Christ the King on a daily basis. Not only do we remember these things daily but we learn that Christ is the King of love and that none of our problems are greater than His love.

Christ is the King who lived with us so that we can forever more live our lives relative to a God that cares that much. He came so that He cannot be called just an abstract idea. He came so that we no longer have to live in a world of distractions and empty promises. In Christ the King we have a way to live our lives relative to God who is Love.

There is no greater gift any King could give.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Mom and dad visit the farm.

And they took some pictures...

Me and Mom

Me and the ewes...

And the new building.. still in progress.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Here is an oldie but a goody.... A man fell over a cliff. As he fell he was able to grab a branch. Hanging on to the branch, he yelled out for help, “Help! is anyone up there who can help me?” Then he heard a voice saying, “ Here I am.... I will help you.” “Who is that?” he asked. The voice said “I am the Lord, I will help you. All you have to do is trust me.” The man said “I trust you... just tell me what to do.” The Lord replies “All right... just let go of the branch.” There was silence for a while, as the man thought about it. Then he asked, “ Is there anyone else up there?”

Today's Gospel is about God’s vineyard. It is not a parable, which makes a single point. Rather it is an allegory, in which all the elements are important. In this gospel story we hear a description of all of salvation history.

Thus the vineyard is Israel... the tenants are the religious leaders of the Jews;

the slaves sent by the land owner are the old testament prophets;

the son is Jesus, the Messiah; his murder is the Crucifixion.

The other tenants that will produce fruit are the Gentiles. The rich harvest refers at least partially to the last judgement.

One point needs further explanation.. the tenants say to one another, “this is the heir... let us kill him and get his inheritance”.

But is this a realistic plan? Consider this.... foreign landlords owned much of Galilee. They hired out tenants to care for their farms. But if the owner died without an heir.... the property became ownerless and could be claimed by anyone, and.... the tenants could easily claim it first. So in Jesus’ day, the allegory was quite realistic and readily understood by the hearers.

Jesus directed this story to the leaders of the Jews who rejected him. Because of their rejection, the kingdom would be given to the Gentiles, as the concluding verse indicates.

The point of this story is not so apparent to us, for we do not reject Jesus. Rather our failure is similar to the man in the story who fell over a cliff and held on to a branch. We do believe and trust God, but only half heartedly.

In varying degrees, we hold onto human ways, and our superficial Christianity.

Are we willing to trust God completely and commit ourselves to him whole heartedly.... or do want to hang on to the branch.

But is it realistic to let go of the branch?

Not if we mean that we have to let go of every human support.... every security for our selves and our families. I do not believe that God expects that of us.

But if it means that Jesus becomes our standard for understanding lifes meaning, then yes, we should let go.

If it means that we are willing to accept all that happens to us in the spirit of Jesus... as we say in the Lords prayer “thy will be done”. Then we should let go.

Jesus assures us that we are children of a loving God, that his love never fails us, that even “the hairs on our head have all been counted”.

His love does not keep our hairs from falling out (as some of us know better than others) (Father John is the only one I know that doesn’t have to worry about that!).

Gods providence does not keep suffering away from us. He only assures us that no matter what happens, his grace will enable us to accept it in the spirit of Jesus.

All this brings us to Jesus’ final words in the Gospel... “the kingdom of God will be.. given to a people that will produce its fruit. The harvest Jesus refers to is not a worldly one , the harvest Jesus wants is us putting our lives in his hands.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Homily for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Homily for 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

As a youngster one of our favorite comic strips was Peanuts. No adults appear in the strip but even as I got older it was still worth reading. One episode that is worth noting is the one where Linus and his big sister Lucy Van Pelt are having a chat. Linus had just told Lucy that he would like  to  be  a doctor when he grows up. “You a doctor! Ha, that's a big laugh,” complains his loud mouthed sister. “You could never be a doctor”, she continues. “You know why? Because you don’t love mankind, that’s why!” Then she starts to skip away from him. In the last frame, Linus yells after her, “ I do love  mankind...; its people I can’t stand.”

Paul today asserts. “Whatever other commandments there may be,they are summed up in this saying.... ‘ You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ …. hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” Paul is speaking in a typically Greek fashion, trying to find a single unifying principle behind all the commands of the law. He concludes that there is only one commandment; it is universal and covers every situation.....  the commandment of love. He implies that the separate commandments of the law are no more than illustrations of what love may mean in particular situations.  

But there are two points we can easily miss when we hear this teaching of Paul. First Paul  is talking about love of neighbour. He is not really concerned about people in general, about remote countries of the world or about universal humanity. Rather he is speaking about our neighbour, those with whom we are personally involved, those we meet and relate to every day. Paul’s teaching brings to mind Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan.... in that parable our neighbour is any one who needs us here and now. Secondly, Paul sums it all up by  urging’ “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. He does not refer to some poetical or abstract norm for our love.... his teaching is very concrete: “as yourself” or...  as being your self.  Still this can be misinterpreted. How much we love our selves is not the standard by which Christ is calling us to love others. Rather , we are called to love our neighbour as being of the same nature as we ourselves are, as being created in God’s image and likeness just as we are.

But there is one point about Christian love that is almost never spoken about. It is this.... is Christian love only agape... a Geek word meaning selfless love or is it eros another Greek word meaning desire or passionate love as well? The fact is, the word eros, or love as desire does not appear in the entire New Testament and only appears twice in the Old Testiment... where it is rejected. But if we understand eros as the very human love that includes desire and passion, then we can realistically find lots of eros in the Bible. In fact, God in the Old Testament is a God who loves his people passionately and jealously. And in the New Testament, God is a passionate  father who wants his prodigal son back. Also Jesus shows a constant warm friendship for children, for women and especially for the apostles, whom he so lovingly calls his friends.

What I mean is this..... neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament is interested in the separation of “heavenly love” and an “earthly love” Genuine human love of husband and wife, father, mother, child, friend is not appossed to love of God but is set within the context of the love. In the past century, the main emphasis in Christianity was on charity, and perhaps it made little impression on some of us, because charity seemed to have so little humanity. It seemed often dehumanized and spiritualized, with no vitality, emotion, affection or warmth and so was unattractive. Recently we use the word love rather than charity to indicate that our Christian love should be truly human.... with depth, warmth, intamacy, tenderness, humbleness, passion, and desire.

What all this means is that we cannot say with Linus, “I love mankind; it’s the people I can’t stand.” But we have to listen to Paul.... “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Most of all, we try to love as Jesus loved, accepting all those near to us with a warm, practical, passionate human love.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

An Eternal Perspective

An Eternal Perspective

Often times we are guilty of being nearsighted, therefore we can only see what is in front of us and everything further away is foggy and unclear. Since we cannot see too far in the distance we tend to concentrate on what is only directly in front of us. The danger here is that we are not embracing all of reality, but only a very small portion of it.

In this life it is easy to be overwhelmed by sufferings, trials, disappointments, fears and a million other things that stand directly in front of us. Our faith reminds us there is a greater part of reality we are not seeing. There is a greater part of reality that we often ignore. It is the reality of heaven!

This world, with all of its struggles and disappointments, does not contain the complete picture of our lives. The Catechism says that “heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1024).

Without this eternal perspective we will be overwhelmed by this life and all its drama. Happiness, peace, joy and fulfillment are not simply part of a fairy tale. We can experience them in pieces in this life, yet in heaven they will be ours in abundance. Let us keep heaven before us always and remember that by doing so we are not neglecting anything, but in fact are embracing the fullness of reality.

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Fr. Jeremiah's web site

Thursday, September 1, 2011

newest farm pictures

shawn in the side car and Garnet is the pilot.

can you see Shawn in the bean patch?

the ewes

our office for a couple of days while construction was going on to the building

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mass in Madrid

David Warren ( who writes for the Ottawa Citizen ) has written this article called " Mass in Madrid" . Go to the link and check it out. It speaks to the stupidity of some so called journalist.  http://davidwarrenonline.com/ 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Homily for Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

In today's Gospel, Peter shows both his impulsiveness and his inconsistancy - two characteristics that make him easy to relate to. Imagine... it's around 3 o'clock in the morning as the Apostles battle against a stormy sea, and Jesus comes walking across the water towards the boat. The Apostles are scared stiff - they think they are seeing a ghost. Even Jesus' reassurance does not take away their fears. So Peter takes the matter into his own hands and challenges the ghost to do something that only Christ could do - enable him to walk on the stormy water.

And he does - for a few steps. But then Peter takes his eyes off Christ; he looks around at the waves and the storm, and he starts to sink.

As long as Peter kept his eyes on Christ he was able to walk unhindered through the stormy sea. As soon as he let his eyes wander away from Christ to examine the intimidating waves, he began to sink. Just so, as we strive to make our way through the stormy temptations and challenges of life in a fallen world, only focusing on Christ can keep us afloat.

Christ is always close to us in our storms, asking us to believe in him. In his words to Peter, tinged with disappointment, we see how much he longs for us to trust him. He said "Why did you doubt?". And as soon as he steps on board the waves cease.

Christ wants to be our peace, our strength, and the solution to life's troubles. St Peter didn't learn this lesson right away, but he learned it well; in his First Letter he put it like this: "cast all your anxieties on him for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7).

Having faith in Christ doesn't mean that we will always understand everything that happens in life, but it does mean that we always know who we are and where we are going.
This is the priceless value of the gift of faith.

There is a story about a man who was accustomed to giving orders and having his own way. One day this fellow was traveling to an important meeting. He decided to take a shortcut and found himself thoroughly lost. He asked the first person he saw for directions, it happened to be a little boy.

"Boy, which way to Dover?" he gruffly asked.

"I don't know," the child responded, a little embarrassed.

"Well, then," the man demanded, "How far to Brighton?"

"I don't know that either," the child answered.

"Is there someone around here who can give me directions, then?" The man raised his voice.

"I don't know," shrugged the child.

The man's questions got angrier as the boy kept responding with the same answer.

Finally the man lost his temper and shouted, "Well you don't know much, do you!"

Then for the first time, the boy smiled. Looking up the winding road to a little house where the evening light glowed through the window and where his brothers and sisters played in the yard, the boy said, "No...but I'm not the one thats lost!"

As Christians, we don't necessarily have all the answers to life's problems - though the more we study our faith the more answers we find.

Yet, if we stay focused on Christ and close to him, we do have the one Answer that matters most - we know that we are children of God, and his all-powerful love is always watching over us, even during life's storms.

But how can we in the twenty-first century keep focused on Christ?

We won't be able to look into Jesus' physical eyes, as Peter did, until we enter the kingdom of Heaven. But in the meantime we can still keep our eyes fixed on Christ in a couple of very simple ways.

The first way is very obvious..... because you are already doing it! Come to church to see Jesus in the Eucharist and celebrate the mass with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The second way is also very simple. You can do this very privately and I defy anyone to give me a reason that they cannot do this.

Simply... while doing something relaxing or stop what you are doing and think about or contemplate Jesus. Very simple! Just think of Jesus and give thanks for all the good things in your lives. If your day has been rough ask... “what is it I should learn from these experiences?  And do not expect magical voices in your dreams or thunder claps , just be still and quiet and like Elijah you may simple hear a tiny whisper in the wind.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

For Nascar fans only!


Homily for Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

We hear in the gospel how immense crowds pressed upon Jesus as he taught. The crowd was so big, Jesus actually got into a fishing boat and used the lake as his speaking platform, so that he could address everyone gathered on the shore. Crowds like this hung on his every word wherever he went.

He could easily have turned them into a revolutionary army and manipulated them for any number of purposes. But instead, he simply invites them to change their hearts. Jesus truly is the Lord, and he lets us choose freely to accept or reject his message, never bullying us into following him.

He is the "sower" of the parable, spreading God's Word and announcing God's invitation, but never forcing hearts to welcome it. This combination of eagerness to win over disciples, but respect for his listeners' freedom is especially evident in Jesus' use of parables.

A Biblical parable is a simple comparison between a hard-to-understand divine truth, a truth about God and his plan of salvation, and a well-known earthly reality. Some interpreters say that Jesus used these stories and comparisons to conceal his meaning from his opponents.

But there is also another way to look at it.

Sometimes people don't want to accept the plain truth, because it means they have to change. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the plain truth. But many didn't accept it. So now he takes a more roundabout way to convince them. By telling parables He offers his listeners a chance to accept certain truths in the abstract, before seeing how they apply to them personally.

It's a way of telling someone uncomfortable truths that our minds and bodies do not want to hear, penetrating indirectly the hearts that have closed themselves to Jesus’ direct proclamations.

Jesus teaches in this way because he always respects our freedom, but he never gives up on convincing us to use that freedom well.

Pope Benidict  XVI tells us....
"It is necessary that each person freely accept the truth of the love of God. He is Love and Truth, and love as well as truth never impose themselves: They knock on the door of the heart and mind and, where they enter, bring peace and joy. This is the way God reigns; this is his plan of salvation."

Here is a story to help us understand how God allows us to be free to choose him. It is called “It is in your hands”

Two brothers were arguing about the wisdom of their parents.
"Father is very wise," said the first brother. The second brother disagreed. "Father is not so wise! We're just as smart as he is. I'll prove it to you." The next day the second brother went into the woods near his home and captured a small bird.He brought the bird home and said to his brother, "Let's go find dad. I will show you that he isn't so smart."

The two brothers went into their father's study, the second one holding the small bird between his cupped hands. "Father, I have a question for you," he said. "I hold a small bird in my hands. Tell me, is this bird dead or alive?" If he said that the bird was dead, the boy would simply open his hands and show that the bird was alive. If his father answered that the bird was alive, he would crush it between his hands and reveal that the bird was dead. This would prove that his dad wasn't so wise after all.

The boys' father considered the question for a moment and said, "My son...the answer is in your hands."


And so it is with us, in his wisdom, God created us with free will.

God gives us the seed of a meaningful, fruitful, and truly happy life by offering us his friendship, but it's up to us to plant the seed in good soil, and to keep the soil good. It's up to us to choose each day to follow Christ's voice in our hearts, not the lies of the devil, the sighs of our laziness, or the seductions of the world around us.

Will our lives be meaningful, fruitful, and happy?
The answer is in our hands.

Having said all this.....

Without the help of God's grace, our freedom cannot long resist the influence of the devil and material wants.
And yet, God's grace doesn't make us into saints unless we cooperate with it. There are two ways we can cooperate with God's grace.

First, we can use well of the gifts God has given us as channels of grace: they are
  • the sacraments, the Bible, the teachings of the Church, the example and intercession of the saints, and, most importantly of all, the gift of prayer.
  • If we are using these gifts eagerly and intelligently, and constantly learning how to use them better, we are like farmers who do not let their their tools get rusty and in disrepair.

Second, we can exercise our freedom, just as we exercise our muscles.
  • This means making conscious choices, motivated by worthy reasons.
  • The father or mother who goes to work every day for years just out of routine, and doesn't consciously renew each day his or her  commitment to his family and to the common good, the reasons behind their going to work, will eventually wonder what their purpose in life is..
  • The Christian who comes to Mass every Sunday for years just out of routine, but doesn't consciously renew his personal commitment to Jesus Christ each Sunday... which is the reason behind coming to Mass, will eventually drift away from God.

We must know the reasons behind our choices, and we must consciously renew our commitment to those reasons.

That's how we exercise our freedom and defend ourselves against the  boredom of routine - the secret ally of the devil, and the secular world.

Today, as Christ renews his commitment to us in this Mass, let's renew our personal love for him in the depths of our hearts, embracing His parables and choosing freely, once again, to be his faithful followers.

Nothing will please him more.