Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S.: January 2005 Archives

St. Paul

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Saint Paul the Apostle

This great missionary was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, a coastal region of what is now Turkey, north of the island of Cyprus. Perhaps he was given the name Saul because, like the first king of Israel, he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. As the son of a Roman citizen, he was also given a Latin name, Paulus--Paulos in Greek. His devout family sent him to the school of the Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem for his religious education (Acts 22:3). He also learned a trade, processing wool for tentmaking (Acts 18:3). The only other thing we know about his family is that he had a sister living in Jerusalem (Acts 23:16). It's not clear whether Paul was ever married.

Most of what we know about Paul's life is found in the Acts of the Apostles: his persecution of the Christians in Jerusalem, his encounter with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus, his preaching in the Antioch community, the three long missionary journeys, and the years of Paul's imprisonment. Acts also records a great deal of his preaching, including two accounts of his conversion. Surprisingly, Acts ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome, and not his martyrdom. Paul shed his blood for Christ during the persecutions of the Emperor Nero, around the years 65 to 67.

Although Paul insists on the directness of Jesus' revelation to him, (Galatians 1:11-23), he was not a solitary figure. He had remarkable companions. When he arrives in Damascus blinded, the Lord sends Ananias to Saul, who instructs him and brings him to the community. The apostles are afraid of Paul when he arrives in Jerusalem, but Barnabas assures them of the zeal of his preaching about Jesus. Later, Barnabas is sent to Tarsus to fetch Paul back to Antioch. The community sends Barnabas and Paul to Jerusalem together (Acts 11 and 12) and then on a missionary journey (Acts 13 and 14). On the later two journeys, Paul was accompanied by Timothy, Titus, and Silas (also called Silvanus). He worked as a tentmaker with Priscilla and her husband Aquila while he was living in Corinth. (Acts 18:2)

Paul's letters were written before any of the gospels were completed. Scholars are not able to date each letter exactly, or even to put them in definitive order. (In the bible, they seem to be ordered by length: Romans is the longest, though one of the last written). Paul wrote when people needed encouragement, when he had heard about disputes and abuses, or when he needed something. The letters are not broad summaries of the faith, with the exception of Romans. But his advice on the importance of unity among believers of diverse heritages is as relevant to us as it was to the churches of Asia Minor. Several of the letters traditionally attributed to Paul were most likely written after his martyrdom, by people who had accompanied him on his journeys and who had been formed by his teaching.


As Saint Gaspar encourages us to do, Paul read the book of the cross. "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) and "Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:22-24) For Paul, God's power and mercy are fully revealed in the death of Christ. "All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

The blood of Christ is central to Paul's reflection on the cross. In the letter to the Romans, Paul contrasts the first covenant with the new covenant. "The righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood." (Romans 3:21-25) The blood of Christ is a sign of God's drawing near to us: "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:8-10)

In the letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, Paul's reflection on the blood of Christ has matured like a choice wine. "In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us." (Ephesians 1:7-8) and "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13) "For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Colossians 1:19-20)

Saint Gaspar drew on all these readings in his writing and preaching. Another favorite of our founder's is the second half of 2 Corinthians 7:4: "I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy all the more because of all our affliction." This is a very supportive message in the midst of trials. How is Gaspar able to find joy in such difficulty? Perhaps we can get a hint from context; the Pauline passage continues, "for even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way: external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his arrival but also by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more." The second letter to the Corinthians is full of intense conflict and misunderstanding, but in the end, the Corinthians write that they have been "saddened into repentance" and accept Paul's criticisms. Perhaps Gaspar is saying that those he is confident that those who oppose him will see the truth of his position in the end, and that the same will be true for us.

We celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Paul on the same day as that of Saint Peter, on June 29. We also celebrate Paul's conversion on January 25, at the culmination of the week of prayer for Christian unity.

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AS found in the letters of St. Gaspar:

St. Francis de Sales used to say that Paradise is a mountain (I will never tire of repeating it to all) which one scales more easily with broken legs than with whole ones. Happily through many tribulations let us hope to reach the goal of our desires. That same Saint, if I remember correctly, does not indeed want extraordinary spiritual attachments, since sanctification, the Apostle says, consists in doing the divine will: O Christians, the will of God is your sanctification. That spirit is acquired by reading S. Scripture which must be a priest's garden, as St. Charles Borromeo used to observe, and in the words of St. Augustine, it is the letter written by the Omnipotent to his creatures.( letter13, 1811)

To the nun, St. Jane de Chantal, afflicted for 41 years with terrible interior seizures of temptation, of fears of being in God's disfavor, and even of being abandoned by God, de Sales wrote as follows: "You must serve your Savior only with love for his will, with the privation of any consolation, and with a deluge of sadness and fears". He also wrote of her that her heart was like a deaf musician who, no matter how beautifully a thing was sung, that musician was unable to derive any delight. (letter 51, 1813)

St. Francis de Sales, in one of his letters, writes as follows: "Finally, it is always necessary to have courage, and if one were to experience a languid spirit, let us rush to the foot of the Cross, and let us immerse ourselves within those holy odors, those celestial perfumes, and without doubt we will be comforted". Elsewhere, in a letter to a lady, he says. "My daughter, nourish your soul on the spirit of cordial confidence in God; and, to the measure that you see yourself submerged in imperfections and miseries, raise up the more your courage to be hopeful ... preserve a spirit of holy joy. St. Francis de Sales concludes: "It is necessary for humility to be courageous and valiant in the trust that one must have in the goodness of God". (letter 52, 1813)

Let us listen to what St. Francis de Sales says in this regard: "Knowing that Jesus, true God, has loved us to the point of suffering death for us, even death on a cross, is this not the same as having our hearts put under a winepress and feeling its crushing force, squeezing out love with a violence that is as gentle and loving as it is forceful?" Then he adds: "So then why do we not cast ourselves onto Jesus Crucified, to die on the Cross with him who was willing to die out of love for us? We ought to say: I shall cling to him and I shall never abandon him; I will die with him and I shall burn in the flames of his love. One and the same flame will consume this divine Creator and his miserable creature. My Jesus gives all to me and I give my all to him. I shall live and lie on his breast; neither death nor life will ever separate me from him. Oh eternal love, my soul seeks you and chooses you for all eternity. Come, Holy Spirit, inflame our hearts with your love. To love or to die; to die to every other love so as to live in the love of Jesus. Oh Savior of our souls, allow us to chant forever: Hail to Jesus; love Jesus; hail to Jesus whom I love; I love Jesus who lives forever and ever." (letter 57, 1813)

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For Lizz

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Back on my feet

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I've been sick for most of the week, trying to take it easy, but the days are getting crazier. I am beginning to feel a bit more normal, taking off today to join the confirmation candidates on their retreat. Must get homily finished.

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Hellish week

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wow....there is so much to do this week. What a week!!! Well, I am away now at the Retrouvaille International Board of Directors Meeting. Jeff, Donna and I are presiding. See ya....

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...to Sr. Gladys Echenique OP, Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry at St. Edward, who celebrated her final vows today in a beautiful ceremony today at St. Edward.

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Today heaven and earth rejoice, watching the Lord being baptized and drowning in the water the great load of our sins. The human soul is illuminated because, delivered from the shadow of sin, she puts on a divine and incorruptible garment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Christ, announced by the law and the prophets, comes to regenerate us in his divine baptism. You are a mighty torrent, you who have created the sea and the water springs; you come to these waters to wash us yourself, who are to everyone cleanliness and purification. You are a gulf of truth, O Christ! You, the undefiled water source! how could the Jordan hold you? You are the sun that knows no twilight! You have illuminated your sacred flesh as a torch in the midst of the Jordan. You have found our image soiled with passion and sin, and have washed it through your baptism.

ancient text

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Congratulations....

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...to Cristina and Eric Stones who were married at St. Edward Church today.

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Happy Birthday!

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St. Gaspar was born January 6, 1786.

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Disaster Relief II

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100% of the funds collected this Sunday at St. Edward Parish in Newark will be sent directly to the CPPS parish in Kalapakkam (Tamil Nadu) for the assistance of the people there, rebuilding the church and rebuilding their lives. Checks should be payable to St. Edward Church and designated for Tsunami Emergency.

St. Edward Church
5788 Thornton Ave.
Newark, CA 94560

Any updates about the Parish in Kalapakkam (Tamil Nadu) will be posted here.

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Marriage Help

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Can This War-Weary Marriage be Saved?

The New York Times had an article on the work necessary to save marriages among the soldiers. They could have saved a whole bunch of money if they had heard about Retrouvaille.

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Happy New Year

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During the new year may you have....

Enough happiness to keep you sweet.
Enough trials to keep you strong.
Enough sorrow to keep you human.
Enough hope to keep you happy.
Enough failure to keep you humble.
Enough success to keep you eager.
Enough friends to give you comfort.
Enough wealth to meet your needs.
Enough enthusiasm to make you look forward to tomorrow.
Enough determination to make each day better than the day before.

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100% of the funds collected for Disaster relief at St. Edward Parish will be sent directly to our CPPS parish in Tamil Nadu.

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Update on Tamil Nadu

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We received an update on the effects of the earthquake on the CPPS parish in Kalapakkam (Tamil Nadu) from Vicariate Director Fr. Amaladoss Mariasusai on December 31. He writes that in Kalapakkam the community was just finishing Mass at about 9:15am on December 26. As the final blessing was being given, they saw that the water was going to reach the church. Pastor Fr. Irudayaraj took some children with him as he ran into the street. Fr. Raja remained in the church and was fortunate to have saved his life. One of the sisters escaped to the roof with 2 children. 10 parishioners died in the tsunami, and in about 300 more were killed in two nearby villages, many of them fishermen as well as children who had been playing on the beach.

Although water did reach the church of St. Anthony in Sadras (not far from a nuclear power plant), but Fr. Amaladoss writes that all escaped. At this point it is certain that housing will be needed and that the fishermen will need boats and nets so as to earn their livelihood once again.

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  one of Fr. Keyes' photos
 
 

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. in January 2005.

Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S.: December 2004 is the previous archive.

Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S.: February 2005 is the next archive.

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