Lincoln’s Log 6-20-2021

Common Ground and Creating Community

For whoever is not against us is for us.

Mark 9:40

Are you tired of the polarization and divisiveness in society? Our faith calls us to be engaged in the world around us, but how do we do that in a productive way? Do you want strategies to engage in dialogue with others online or in person, even about “taboo topics” like politics, race, religion?

St. Thomas More is a member of Common Ground Fox Cities which is launching the “Golden Rule Project.” This initiative seeks to equip individuals within the Fox Valley community with practices that foster dialogue, trust, and positive relationships. In this time of division, the Golden Rule Project strives to move the needle of our society – away from polarization and demonization of the Other, and toward authentic relationships that celebrate differences while working toward community.

One of the primary ways we build a healthier community is through listening to one another and sharing our story. On the last Thursday of each month, Common Ground Fox Cities is hosting a series of community conversations which will empower and equip you to do just that: listen and share. These dialogues can be transformative encounters where we discover that “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk. 9:40) and that we can live together.

The next Community Conversation is Thursday, June 24 at 7 pm. This virtual event, called Popping the Bubble: Creating Community Across the COVID Chasm will be a place to renew the work of creating community. I will be serving as one of the trained facilitators for this dialogue and I would encourage you to join in this conversation!

You can register and find more information at commongroundfoxcities.org

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 6-6-2021

Corpus Christi

This week we reflect on the great gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood. It is another feast where we use a sequence, a liturgical poem, to help us unpack the beauty and truth of the feast. Here is a section from the Corpus Christi Sequence:

Lo! The angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
See the children’s bread from heaven,
Which on dogs may not be spent.

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willling,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling
Manna to the fathers sent.

Very Bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesus, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints,
Though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be.

Amen. Alleluia.

The purpose of a sequence is to connect many of the biblical images around a theme so that the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus can be appreciated from many angles. Like most poetry, reading out loud and slowly can help unpack the meaning. The rest of the sequence can be found online.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-30-2021

The Holy Trinity

This weekend we celebrate the Mystery at the heart of our faith, the Holy Trinity. It is a Mystery, which does NOT mean that we cannot know it, but it means that we cannot comprehend it. We can get glimpses and tastes of the Mystery, but we can never “master” it like we can master a math problem or a philosophical proof.  The Trinity is infinitely knowable. But where do we start? I’ve found that a good approach to getting in touch with this Mystery is through the Litany of the Holy Trinity. The Litany uses brief statements to point us in the direction of the Trinity. Taken together, the litany explores many facets of the Trinity and can get our minds oriented to explore this great Mystery. Here is an excerpt from the Litany. 

God the Father of Heaven,

Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us

God the Holy Ghost, etc.

Holy Trinity, One God,

Father from Whom are all things,

Son through Whom are all things,

Holy Ghost in Whom are all things,

Holy and undivided Trinity,

Father everlasting,

Only-begotten Son of the Father,

Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son,

Co-eternal Majesty of Three Divine Persons,

Father, the Creator,

Son, the Redeemer,

Holy Ghost, the Comforter,

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,

Who art, Who wast, and Who art to come,

God Most High, Who inhabitest eternity,

To Whom alone are due all honor and glory,

Who alone does great wonders,

Power infinite,

Wisdom incomprehensible,

Love unspeakable,

You can find the rest of the Litany of the Holy Trinity here. Spend some time this week reflecting on this Great Mystery.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-23-2021

Pentecost Sequence

The feast of Pentecost which we celebrate this weekend is one of my favorites.  Below is the “sequence” for Pentecost.  A sequence is a liturgical poem that unpacks the meaning of the feast.

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.

May the fullness of the Holy Spirit descend upon us today and every day!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-16-2021

Back to the Beginning – Acts of the Apostles…

“[Before the Ascension, Jesus told his disciples] … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

We return to the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. The Book of Acts was written by Luke and assumes that we have read Luke’s Gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He begins the story of Acts with the story of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, His Ascension, and a call to mission. For the past several weeks, we have seen the effects of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church. This week we return to the beginning and hear the promise of the Holy Spirit. We are always living “between” these two realities. The Holy Spirit has come upon the church and empowers us for the mission, yet we are always living in the promise of the Spirit’s coming even more. This tension is what moves us to cry out, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

Today’s reading lays out the mission of the church. As Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father, He gives the disciples their marching orders (compare Acts 1:7-9 to Mt. 28:19-20). His final words to them send them out to “the ends of the earth.” In fact, Jesus’ description that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and then witness “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” is the story of the Acts of the Apostles in miniature. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (we’ll hear about that next week) and Peter first witnesses to Jesus there. Then these missionary disciples move out and proclaim the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Finally, Paul witnesses to Jesus in Rome, the gateway to the ends of the earth. We are invited to this same mission.

Stay tuned for next week…

Next week, we hear the great story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11). As you prepare your hearts to receive the Holy Spirit anew, join in the prayer of the church for the Spirit’s coming: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.” Amen.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-9-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“… Peter proceeded to speak and said, ‘In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10:34

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

Peter was deeply Jewish and knew Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He was very skeptical about proclaiming Jesus to non-Jews. What did a Jewish Messiah mean for those who were outside of God’s chosen people? However, Jesus came to save ALL people. God sends a vision to Peter (Acts 10:8-16) which challenges the way Peter thinks about God and who God chooses to save. He had also sent a vision to Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who was a prayerful man who was friendly to the Jewish people. In Cornelius’ vision, God tells Cornelius to send his men to invite Peter to preach at Cornelius’ home (Acts 10:1-8). God is setting up a meeting between the Jewish world (in Peter) and the Gentile (non-Jewish) world in Cornelius.

This encounter is what we read about in today’s reading (selections from Acts 10:25-48). This section of Acts records the first Gentile conversion to Christianity. As Peter preaches, the Holy Spirit descends upon the members of Cornelius’ household gathered there. They begin to speak in tongues and glorify God (signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence). Peter is overwhelmed that God is acting among the Gentiles and these new Gentile converts are baptized on the spot.

God does not act as we expect Him to. He challenges Peter to be open to new movements of the Spirit. God reveals that He is the God of all people. No one should be excluded from the grace of God. Cornelius takes the risk to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then to a missionary of a foreign religion. He puts his future and career on the line and trusts the God he does not know or understand. His faith is rewarded.

Stay tuned for next week…

I would encourage you to finish reading the Acts of the Apostles in the next two weeks as the church expands to the ends of the earth. At Mass for the next two Sundays (Ascension and Pentecost) we return to the beginning of the story of Acts and explore Jesus’ promise of the mission of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (Acts 2:1-11).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-2-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
Acts 9:26

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

It is easy for us to forget just how dangerous a man Paul (also known as Saul) was before his conversion. Prior to encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22), Paul was systematically hunting down Jesus’ followers to have them arrested (and perhaps even killed). Then, suddenly, Paul is changed. He claims to have encountered Jesus and wants to join with the other disciples. It is no wonder that the disciples were skeptical. Was this a new tactic Paul was going to use to trap all of Jesus’ disciples? How could he be trusted?

This is what we read about in today’s reading (Acts 9:26-31). It is Barnabas who steps into this difficult and dangerous situation. Barnabas places himself alongside Paul and discerns the dramatic change that has occurred. This son of encouragement (which is what the name “Barnabas” means) “takes charge” of the former persecutor. He listens to Paul’s story and witnesses the depth of change that God is bringing about in Paul. Barnabas takes Paul to the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He encourages them to trust the good work that God is doing in and through Paul. Barnabas accompanies Paul during his time in Jerusalem, encouraging him when his message about Jesus is resisted. Later, Barnabas goes on a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 13-15) and later begins his own ministry.

We all need someone like Barnabas in our life, to encourage and support us when life is challenging. We need a person who can guide and encourage all the good things we are capable of, even when no one believes in us.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apostles up to 10:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how God’s word continues to grow. In an unexpected way, Holy Spirit is poured out upon people who are outside of God’s chosen people (Acts 10:25-48).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-25-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’”
Acts 4:8a, 12

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles begin proclaiming the Gospel. Signs and wonders accompany the preaching and the community begins to grow rapidly. While going up to the Temple to pray, Peter and John encounter a beggar. Peter dramatically heals the beggar who begins proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

But there is resistance. While he is still preaching, the priests, temple guards, and Sadducees confront them. The resurrection of the dead and the role they played in Jesus’ death are the issue. They throw Peter and John in jail for the night.

The next morning, Peter and John are brought before the leaders in Jerusalem and questioned, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

In response, “Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’” This is today’s reading. (Acts 4:8-12).

As the resistance continues to strengthen, so does the faith of the early church. The signs and wonders continue, but so do the powers of resistance. Before long, Stephen, one of the early church leaders, is murdered. But the Gospel marches on.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apolstles up to 9:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how Saul – who oversaw the murder of Stephen – tries to join the disciples (Acts 9:26-31).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-18-2021

Easter Repentance

Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Acts 3:19

“Jesus said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Lk. 24:46-47

This weekend, the third Sunday of Easter, we read from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. These two books in our Scripture are companion volumes, both written by St. Luke with the intention of telling the story of Jesus (in the Gospel) and the story of the early Church (in the Acts of the Apostles).

In both the Gospel and in Acts this Sunday we read a word that we associate with Lent, not Easter. That word is: repent! At the beginning of lent, we heard the call us to repentance as Ashes were placed on our heads, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” But that was lent. Shouldn’t we be done repenting by now? After all that work, can’t we take a break from repenting and enjoy ourselves?

We easily forget that there are two dimensions to repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. Both elements are always present, but during lent, we often focus on turning away from sin. This facet of repentance can make us think of repenting as dour or dark or difficult. But turning away is only one side of the repentance process.

Easter exposes the other, more important, side of the process. In Easter repentance, we turn toward the new life and love of God given to us in Jesus. We repent joyfully. We celebrate the fact that Jesus has conquered sin and death and this celebration is a form of repentance. Sin can’t survive in the presence of real joy. Embracing new life in Jesus drives death away. Our hearts sing, “Alleluia,” which vanquishes fear. It is as if our hearts were empty but are now filled with the love of Jesus. His fullness drives everything else away.

Easter repentance is not dour or dark or difficult. It is cheerful and light and easy because Jesus has conquered death and sin. Alleluia!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader