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This week our prior provincial, Fr. Tom Enneking, osc, is with us in Onamia. In the first days of his trip, he and his council will meet to review and discuss the province directives. He will then stay on in our community to live among us, to observe how we live out our vocation and offer some concluding affirmations and recommendations. Later this year, our new master general, Fr. Laurentius Tarpin, osc, is tentatively scheduled to visit both of our priory communities, meet the confreres and experience our Crosier Religious Life in the United States. Be assured, I am not pointing out these two visitations as in the Gospel story of Jesus when He entered the temple and created havoc because of what was going on there. Rather, I talk about these visitations because of the directive in our first reading from the letter of Peter (4:10), “Use your gifts to serve one another; be good stewards of God’s grace as you have received it.” The visits of these two leaders are ways of calling us to be good and faithful stewards. 

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I’ve never been to the Garden of Eden, that pristine place of paradise where our human story began in God’s generous love of creation--but I’ve been close. Indeed, over the last decade, I was privileged a number of times to make the long journey to the village of Agats in Asmat to assist in leadership work there. And one of the impressive realities that struck me in the heart of that jungle is how it simply encompasses everything as far as the eye can see, and so a connection to some remembrance of the Garden of Eden as the place where God walked upon the earth cannot be ignored. Truly, the jungle of Asmat is large enough still to carry the footsteps of God, just as the expanse of the creation story we heard from the Book of Genesis yet gives plenty of room for our reimagining this immense act of God so as to catch our attention once again. 

And it was in this jungle--we know so well, it was in this vast jungle of Asmat that our Br. Clarence found his home. It was in this vast jungle of Asmat that our Br. Clarence found an intimacy of heart with God and with God’s beloved Asmat people living in that place descendant of the Garden of Eden.  

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The story is told that composing new music was not an easy task for Joseph Haydn. He was known to spend days and weeks in intense prayer upon receiving a commission for a new symphony or piano concerto. His prayer was focused on his desire to be inspired, to receive a gift of the Spirit, to create out of the silence of his inner depths music to touch the soul, music to feed the spirit, music to express beauty. His incredible corpus of work is a testament to his openness to the inspiration he so desired in order to bring forth beauty in music.

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Fr. Rick, osc, invites you to read his Homily from Monday morning Mass:

There is wideness in God’s mercy, and Peter is ready to acknowledge the surprising and undeniable work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles. Yesterday Peter presented Jesus as the Shepherd and Guardian of our Souls, a favored and ancient image. Here is an invitation to reflect on our image of God.

In a recent Pew survey, self-identified Catholics were asked, "Which comes closest to your view of God?: God is a person with whom people can have a relationship, or God is an impersonal force?"

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It may not surprise you to hear that I was at least tempted to select the genealogy narrative from the Gospel of Matthew for Br. Roman’s funeral, but since it is only about “begetting” in the Davidic line and not about second-cousins and thrice-removals, I decided that it wasn’t quite up to the full detailed standards that Roman had held for all such things relative. 

Instead, we hear the Gospel from Luke which relates Jesus’ teaching on prayer to his disciples. Taking a page from human experience about the persistent “asker” in the middle of the night, Jesus says that the heavenly Father will also likewise give way to those who persistently “ask and knock.”  Probably most of us knew Br. Roman as such a persistent prayer. He would offer prayers and ask for prayers with deep compassion and deep faith at almost every turn—whether as Apostolate or alumni director, or in his own personal ministry of constantly holding people and their needs before the Lord. 

Though unknown to us yet are the results of Roman’s prayer for ourselves or for others, he now gets to behold these truths with the angelic pristine vision of the elect in heaven--he gets to see the actual answer to Jesus’ long ago question, “If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”  Roman gets to see these promises of God fulfilled—for both himself and for all those whom he presented to the Lord in his prayers of 90 years.

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Br. José Velázquez, osc, professed his first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience on August 28, 2013, the Feast of St. Augustine. Fr. Tom Enneking, osc, prior provincial of the U.S. Province of St. Odilia, delivered this homily on that day.

God’s ways are not our ways.

Who would have thought
•  that this day would arrive?
•  that a young man living in the heart of Mexico would have such a deep devotion to the Holy Cross that he would literally search the globe for a way to live a religious life with the Cross at the heart of it all?
•  that he would find what he was looking for in a religious community just to the north of his home country?

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