July 5, 2020 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

I.  Happy Birthday to Christopher Grief!  This has been a most unusual time for the 10-week Summer Internship for our seminarian, Christopher Grief!  Seasoned a tad before he finally answered God’s tug on his heart, Christopher has just finished two years of philosophy, and one year of theology at St. Meinrad, the Benedictine seminary in Indiana.  He has interfaced with each team member, participated in our zoom meetings, observed marriage preparation, helped out with live streaming, emceeing, serving, sacristy cleaning, cooking, etc. Christopher’s birthday is Monday, July 6!  How young is Christopher?!?!  We are delighted he is assigned to the Cathedral of Saint Stephen this summer until August 2. 

II.  Sustaining Graces:   Since restrictions have been eased and safe guidelines released, the Cathedral Family has celebrated all (nearly all) the sacraments. We have experienced Baptism, First Holy Communion, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and, of course, Eucharist. The Sacraments given to us by Jesus Christ are a gift, a true gift to bring us closer to eternal life. Pope Francis reminds us “We are called to live our Baptism every day, as new creatures, clothed in Christ.”  Our Holy Father says that “with the grace of Baptism and of Eucharistic Communion [we] can become [instruments] of God’s mercy, of that beautiful mercy of God.” The very definition of Sacrament in the Catholic Catechism says (#1212) “The sharing in the divine nature given to people through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. . . .” An additional understanding of Sacrament which I like is, “a window of opportunity to experience God’s love.”

III. Blood is Life! Blood supplies around the country and in our area are critically low. COVID-19 has kept people “sheltering-in-place” and not coming out to donate a pint of blood. We are partnering with the Western Kentucky Regional Blood Center (WKRBC) and the McRaith Catholic Center to host a blood drive. This drive will take place Thursday, July 9th from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. in our Community Center. Please call WKRBC to reserve your time for your donation, 270/684-9296. You must be 17 years of age and at least 115 pounds and should eat a good meal prior to donation. This takes less than 30 minutes of your valuable time and precautions are in place for the safety and well-being of donors and staff. The Saint Stephen Cathedral blood drive is 57 days before the annual blood drive for Kate Hayden at OCS K-3 Campus. You will be able to donate at both events if you so choose. We need a great turn out, at least 25 donors. See you there! “Share your power!”

IV.  There is a Monk in Each of Us! Saddened by the immoral state of society, Benedict of Nursia (480-557) left the city to live as a hermit in Subiaco, Italy. In time, more and more men were attracted to his charismatic personality as well as to his simple way of life. He eventually moved a group of monks to Monte Casino, near Naples, where he completed the first version of his rule, now known as The Rule of Benedict. The rule asserts that the primary occupation of the monk is to pray the Divine Office in tandem with a vowed life of stability, obedience, and conversion. The whole of the monastic vocation can be summarized in the opening lines of his rule, “Listen carefully.” Because Abbot Benedict was tough on his monks in calling them to conversion, some of the monks tried to murder him by poisoning his drink; their plot was foiled when their Abbot made the sign of the cross over the cup, which then broke! Needless to say, he didn’t hang around there much longer, but went on to found thirteen more monasteries. When I visit the Abbey of Gethsemani, etched in stone at the guesthouse entrance is the Benedictine charism, “Welcome others as Christ.” As we celebrate the life of Benedict this Saturday, July 11, let’s not forget to “listen carefully.”

St. Benedict, pray for us!

V.  Healed by Laughing: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). In the fourteenth century, surgeon Henri de Mondeville reportedly told jokes to his patients in the recovery room. Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen. When the brooding deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood flow increases and transports more oxygen; endorphins are released, pain thresholds are raised, and some studies suggest that even our immune systems are boosted. When we laugh, others laugh too. Laughter is a contagious, highly effective, non-prescribed medicine. It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it. We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being. Have you had your dose of laughter today? Laughter is not only good for the heart, but also good for the soul!