With the announcement of Pope Francis on the Second Sunday of Easter – Divine Mercy Sunday – of the upcoming "Year of Mercy," kindly know that part of my Confirmation homily will touch on the theme of mercy. For this reason during weekday Confirmations I am asking the deacon or priest to proclaim John 20:19-31 as the Gospel. Click here for English or Spanish.
As a point of information, although the announcement was made by Pope Francis on Divine Mercy Sunday 2015, the actual "Year of Mercy" begins December 8, 2015 on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and ends on November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. Accompanying this article please find copies of the document issued by the Holy Father. Click here for English or Spanish. More information will be forthcoming as we move into the "Year of Mercy."
+Bishop Joseph Tyson
April 20, 2015
Less than a week remains before the end of the 2015 regular session of the legislature on Sunday, April 26th. During these last days, the main task of the legislators is to pass a budget. Usually budget negotiations occur between key budget leaders behind closed doors. Given the differences between the House and Senate proposed budgets, most observers think a special session will be necessary to come to an agreement on a final budget.
A special session is called by the Governor any time after the regular session ends. Sometimes it is called immediately, or the Governor may wait and call it a few days or even a few weeks later. A special session has to be called for 30 days, but legislators can conclude it any time before then. In the past, special sessions have lasted from a few hours to the entire 30 days.
During this last week, while the budget meetings are going on, legislators are busy resolving differences and coming to agreement on bills that have passed both chambers, but were amended in one or both chambers. This is necessary before legislation can be sent to the Governor. Some hearings to plan for interim activities prior to the beginning of the 2016 legislative session also occur.
Below is a recap of the bills that were included in the bulletins this year. One of the bills you advocated for on Catholic Advocacy Day last month, HB 1720, which will improve indoor air quality in homes undergoing weatherization, has made it all the way to the Governor's desk. Thank you for helping to improve the lives of people with low incomes – another example that advocacy works!
The next bulletin will contain the highlights of the final budget when it is passed – whether in the regular or special session.
WSCC Legislative Update – 2015
BILLS WSCC SUPPORTS:
HB 1127 funds training for agricultural workers to improve their skills and safety. The bill passed the Legislature.
HB 1139 would have established a working group to study the trafficking of youth passed the House, but it "died" in a Senate committee.
HB 1174 would have decreased children's exposure to toxic chemicals. It passed the House, but did not receive a vote in the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, and is considered "dead" for the session.
HB 1295 would have required high-needs schools to offer breakfast after the beginning of the school day. HB 1295 passed the House, and was heard in the Senate Early Learning Committee, but "died" in the committee. It may be funded in the budget.
HB 1355 would have raised the minimum wage to $12 over four years. It passed the House, and was heard in the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee, but was not voted out of the committee, and is considered "dead" for the session.
HB 1390 would have enacted reforms concerning Legal Financial Obligations (LFOs) to make it easier for people who have served a prison sentence to reenter the community. HB 1390 passed the House. The Senate Law and Justice heard the bill, and amended it removing many of the reforms. The bill "died" on the Senate floor calendar.
HB 1436 would have created an Office of Homeless Youth Programs to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth. The Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee held a hearing on HB 1436, but it was not voted out of committee.
HB 1449, which passed the House, creates additional protections to prevent oil spills and improve rapid response to spills. HB 1449 also passed the Senate after being amended. Both chambers must agree on the bill before it can be sent to the Governor.
HB 1560, which would have designated March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day in our State passed the House, but "died" on the Senate floor calendar.
HB 1642, which would have funded community-based and statewide substance education programs designed to reduce initiation of substance use by children and youth, "died" in its original committee.
HB 1720 improves indoor air quality in homes undergoing weatherization owned by people with low incomes. HB 1720 passed the Legislature, and has been delivered to the Governor.
HB 1739, which would have eliminated the death penalty in Washington State, was heard in the House Judiciary Committee, but was not voted out of committee. The Senate version, SB 5639, never received a hearing.
HB 1745 would have protected for minority groups equal opportunity to participate in elections. The bill passed the House, but "died" in the Senate Rules Committee.
HB 1875 would have increased the amount of vocational training from 12 to 24 months for recipients of WorkFirst/TANF, subject to the amount appropriated. HB 1875 passed the House, but "died" in the Senate Ways and Means Committee without receiving a hearing.
HB 2113 would have created a legislative task force on poverty to develop a comprehensive plan for more effective and efficient poverty relief solutions through identification of pathways out of poverty. The bill was voted out of the Early Learning & Human Services Committee, but "died" in the House Rules Committee.
SB 5289 would have required parental notification for a minor considering an abortion. The bill passed the Senate Law & Justice Committee but it was not brought up for a vote by the entire Senate.
SB 5404 which creates an office to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth passed the Legislature, and is on its way to the Governor's desk.
SB 5880, which would have required mandatory training programs for certain employees to identify and report victims of human trafficking, never received a vote in committee.
SB 5883 would have directed the state to develop an anti-trafficking notice and require all establishments with public restrooms to prominently display the notice. SB 5883 was incorporated into SB 5884.
SB 5884 would create the Washington State Clearinghouse on Human Trafficking to share and coordinate statewide efforts to combat the trafficking of persons. The bill passed the House and Senate, but with different amendments. SB 5884 must be reconciled between the two chambers, before it can be sent to the Governor.
SB 5919 would have slightly modified the state's assisted suicide law to assure patients have complete information. The House Health Care Committee heard the bill, but did not vote on it.
BILLS WSCC OPPOSES:
HB 1647 would have required all private health insurers in Washington State to cover abortion services, if they offer maternity care. The House passed HB 1647, but the bill "died" in the Senate Health Care Committee.
SB 5899 would have abolished payday loans by replacing them with consumer installment loans but the bill would not adequately protect consumers and low income families. The bill passed the Senate, but did not pass the House. It is most likely "dead" for the session, but may receive consideration in the budget.
The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.
A Memorial Mass at Saint Paul Cathedral in Yakima will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23, for Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago and one of our former bishops, who died Friday, April 17. Bishop Joseph J. Tyson will be attending the funeral Mass in Chicago that day at noon. Bishop Emeritus Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J. will preside at the Mass in Yakima.
All priests and deacons serving in the Diocese are welcome to concelebrate the April 23 Mass at St. Paul’s. Please bring an alb; stoles will be provided. Pastors are encouraged to invite their parishioners to the Mass.
Attached to this article please find a schedule for funeral services in Chicago this coming week. We join Archbishop Blase Cupich, his auxiliary bishops, the clergy and the laity of the Archdiocese of Chicago in mourning the Cardinal’s death.
(At left, Cardinal George during his visit to Yakima in October 2014)
World Day Of Prayer For Vocations April 26
World Day of Prayer will be observed on Sunday, April 26th, also known as "Good Shepherd Sunday." The purpose of this day is to publically fulfill the Lord's instruction to, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his har-vest" (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2).
What: The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed to pray that young men and women hear and respond generously to the Lord’s call to the Priesthood, diacon-ate, religious life, societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.
Where: at Holy Redeemer Parish in Yakima Washington—1707 South 3rd Avenue, Yakima Washington 98902
When: Sunday April 26 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm
Please visit the following link with usefull information and resouces for the Day of Prayer, http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/world-day-of-prayer-for-vocations.cfm
ATTENTION YOUNG ADULTS: you are invited to Renovate LIVE! This free event will be on April 24th, a Friday, at 6:00 PM. Come and socialize and listen to a dynamic speaker.. The address is 1080 Long Avenue in Richland. That is the Youth Center (old convent) at Christ the King Catholic Church.
There are over 80 home mission dioceses in the United States, including the Diocese of Yakima. Parishes across the United States will join together to take up a special collection at the Sunday Masses April 25-26 to support these dioceses, which are often unable to fund essential pastoral work, such as religious education, seminarian formation, and lay ministry training. Because of this, they struggle to serve the unique needs of their communities. Through your support, the Catholic Home Missions Appeal helps to ease the struggle of these dioceses and helps them form vibrant faith communities. Please help strengthen the Church at home by giving generously to this appeal. To assist parishes in promoting the appeal, please find the following documents, which can be distributed in ways pastors find most suitable:
Prepares Volunteer Assistant Position
Catholic Family & Child Service is recruiting for the following position, Prepares Volunteer Assistant. This person will be responsible for the recruitment, training, and retention of volunteers for the Prepares Program. Heavily relying on a large, well supported and diverse volunteer base, Prepares will be responsible for the development, maintenance, and ongoing operation of a diocesan-based network consisting of Catholic parishes, volunteers, social service and health care providers, and approved network partners, for the purpose of supporting pregnant and parenting women, families and their children up to age five.This position reports to the Prepares Area Coordinator and must be capable of travel within the Diocese of Yakima, and occasionally within the State of Washington.
For more information and to apply go to www.ccyakima.org and click on "Employment."
Abbot Neal Roth sent me this wonderful link from the Easter Sunday edition of the Olympian. I loved going to this Abbey when I was in Seattle both as a priest and auxiliary bishop. It's really a wonderful feature to review especially in this "Year of Consecrated Life" so let's pray for all of our monks! Many Blessings!
+Bishop Joseph Tyson
(Click on photo or link below)
“She had no sooner said this than she turned around and caught sight of Jesus standing there. But she did not know him. ‘Woman,’ he asked her, ‘why are you weeping? Who is it you are looking for?’ She supposed he was the gardener…" (John 20:14-15)
Happy Easter! My hope and prayer for you is that you discover the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in your life!
One of my favorites images of Easter is this beautiful painting by Rembrandt that is part of the Buckingham Palace Royal Collection in London.
In the early morning light, Mary Magdalene confuses Jesus with a gardener. The details of the 17th century Dutch farmer’s hat along with the spade certainly may have served as good disguises.
Yet St. Paul’s words to the early Christian community at Corinth might serve as the best way to grasp the unusual and history-making event of His resurrection. Although we have never seen a soul, we all intuitively know when we witness the death of a loved that a sudden absence occurs when the soul leaves the body. That animating life-force disappears and the body begins to decay.
St. Paul speaks of God’s very spirit raising Christ up into His resurrected body. This event is so unusual that the evangelists carefully note the various reactions by the followers of Jesus as they write the Gospels. The women think he’s a gardener, the men think he’s a fisherman by the seashore. The travelers to Emmaus think he’s a wayfarer on the road. This resurrected body has a physicality that is visible but it passes through locked doors at Pentecost. It has an appearance similar to the Jesus they knew before the crucifixion but the appearance also is not immediately recognizable.
St. Thomas gives us the biggest clue of how this risen body can be recognized: through the wounds. This resurrected body bears the mark of those earthly wounds. It is only when St. Thomas gazes on the wounds that he, then, begins to recognize the rest of the body of Christ.
Might there be a great truth for us too? We ought not shrink down the power of the Easter message to a felt sense of renewal, the cycle of new life that comes each spring, or a deepening of our interior spiritual life as important as these may seem. The resurrection of Christ in all of its power and uniqueness points to our own hope of eternal life.
No wonder that the fourth century Jerusalem catechism attributed to St. Cyril specifically cites St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-11).
Attributed to St. Cyril of Jerusalem this early catechism puts laser-like focus on the factual realness of this history-changing event – the resurrection. As followers of Jesus, we view our entire existence – life and death – through this lens. It’s why Easter is the feast of all feasts and the great celebration. In Christ we see our hope and our future. In Christ we see how we can live our lives now in his love, his joy, his mercy and his forgiveness. Like St. Thomas we recognize Christ when we start by gazing upon his wounds. Those wounds are still visible today in those around us both far and near who are wounded by warfare, violence, loneliness and alienation.
The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of social services here in Washington State because we want to gaze on Jesus. We are the largest provider of health care because we want to see Jesus. We are the world’s largest school educator, the largest provider of refugee services and often the most visible charitable presence in war-torn places precisely because of our ministry’s alignment back to this powerful Easter message of Christ’s resurrection. As believers it is the way, today, that we catch a glimpse of Jesus in his Risen presence.
Returning to that famous Rembrandt photo, allow me to close with the words of the Dutch poet Jeremias de Decker – a friend of Rembrandt – who penned these lines to accompany this famous painting:
When I read the story describe by St. John,
And next to it see this artistic scene,
I think, where has a painter ever followed the writer so closely,
Or dead paint brought so much to life?
It seems that Christ is saying: Mary do not tremble.
It is I. Death has not taken your Lord.
She believes this, but not entirely,
And seems to hover between joy and sorrow, fear and hope.
The rock dominating the grave soars high up in the air in this painting.
That rock and the shadow it casts
Create beauty and majesty in the rest of the work.
Your masterly strokes of the brush,
Friend Rembrandt, I first saw on this panel.
Therefore my pen will write an ode to your gift brush
And my ink will praise your brush.
Circling back to my initial hope and prayer for you – to discover the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in your life – it is this resurrection that can motivate us to see our daily lives as more than a collection of random events. Perhaps the seemingly random activities of our daily life might become those of brush strokes by God the master painter. When we surrender to him and become the great person God created us to be, we become most ourselves and beautiful instruments of his beauty through our prayer, our worship, our care for creation, the gift of our children, our concern for the poor and our outreach to both friends and enemies. This is the power of the resurrection of Christ! My hope and prayer is that this resurrection become – for you – a source of hope for this life and the next!
May you have a happy and blessed Easter season!
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson
Bishop of Yakima
Genesis 1:1-2:2; Genesisi22: 1-18; Exodus 14:15-15:1; Isaiah 54:5-14; Isaiah 55:1-11; Baruch 3:9-15, 32-4:4;
Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28; Romans 6:3-11; Mark 16:1-7
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Peace be with you! Friends, I love how the famous Dutch painter – Rembrandt – depicts the risen Christ. In his famous painting that hangs in Buckingham Palace, Rembrandt depicts the risen Christ. He depicts him in dazzling white – for that is the description we have from tonight’s Gospel from St. Mark.
And Rembrandt also depicts him as gardener – for that is how he appeared to the women in the Gospel of St. John. The painting shows this risen Christ holding a spade as if ready to do some gardening. Rembrandt also shows the risen Christ wearing a typical 17th century farmer’s hat – something quite common at the time Rembrandt lived.
Just to drive home the point, I’ve brought over a little gift I received from our own Fr. Rogelio Gutierrez. As many of you know, he’s the famous gardener here at the Cathedral. I had the honor of touring his beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables last spring. At the end of my tour he gave me one of his gardening hats. He makes them himself. They’re similar to what regular field hands would wear to protect them from the sun in Mexico. If Rembrandt were painting in Mexico he probably would have used this hat!
What’s the point? The point is this: the risen body of Christ is not immediately recognizable. The women at the tomb confuse him for a gardener. The disciples of Jesus who spent so much time following him through Judea and Galilee confuse him for a fisherman on the shore. The disciples of Emmaus confuse him as a wayfarer on the road.
Why this confusion? Our bodies – our “earthly dwellings” as St. Paul would put it – are animated by a soul. None of us has seen a soul but because of death we know by logical deduction when the soul has left the body. Yet St. Paul explains to the early Christians in Corinth that the “risen” body is not animated by a soul – but by God’s very Spirit and in doing so our “corruptible” body by the power of God’s Spirit – takes on “incorruptibility.” This is the “glorified” body the early followers of Jesus encounter after the resurrection. It’s a glorified body that has physicality but it also passes through locked doors. It has an appearance before his ascension into heaven. But as St. Thomas shows us in the Gospel, the physical appearance of Christ only becomes recognizable when he first looks at his wounds.
What’s true for St. Thomas is even more the case for me and for you. If forgiveness is the starting point for Good Friday with Jesus extending his pardon even before he is crucified, then the wounds of Jesus become the starting point for our celebration of Easter. Where there are human wounds there is Christ waiting to be recognized anew. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently noted, next to the sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object ever presented to your sight because in him or her, the living Christ is truly present. (“The Weight of Glory,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces.)
With a little more depth and richness, the Fourth Century Jerusalem Catechism attributed to St. Cyril notes as much. “Let no one image that baptism consists only in the forgiveness of sins and in the grace of adoption. Our baptism is not like the baptism of John, which conferred only the forgiveness of sins. We know perfectly well that baptism, besides washing away our sins and bringing us the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a symbol of the sufferings of Christ.”
Friends, the sufferings of Christ are the doorway to Easter. Easter invites us into – not simply the canvas of the great artist Rembrandt – but the real-life canvas of the first disciples. With them we gaze upon the wounds. Gazing on the wounds we see Christ in his resurrected glory! As we respond to the Easter creed this night, may our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ animate our own desire to see him now in the wounds of those around us – both near and far! In recognizing those wounds may we die with Christ in our daily life so that we might rise with him on the final judgment day sharing with him eternal and everlasting life! Peace be with you!
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Peace be with you! Why the cross? Why reverence the cross? Why the brutal and bloody death of Jesus on the cross? In light of this death why even call this Friday, “Good” Friday? Succinctly put, the answer can be summarized in one word: forgiveness.
In his book, “Seven Last Words” Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe notes that forgiveness comes before the crucifixion. It comes before the ironically true proclamation of Pontius Pilate nailed atop the cross: Here is the king of the Jews! “Forgiveness always comes first,” says Fr. Radcliffe and then he cites the famous passage from the Gospel of St. Luke prior to the crucifixion of Christ: “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness comes first!
How different from the way we think. We think that forgiveness comes after the offense. If you and I are really honest with ourselves and our interior ruminations we often reflect on our lives gazing through the other end of the telescope – magnifying – not our sins – but the sins of others against us. We harbor grudges. We nurse resentments. We start our interior examination with a list – not of the wrongs we’ve done to others – but the wrongs done to us. Ours is the attitude captured by the famous English poet William Blake when he penned these lines:
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
And I water’d it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright
And my foe beheld it shine
And he knew that it was mine.
And into my garden stole
When the night had veil’d the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.
That image of William Blake – “My foe outstretched beneath the tree” – is a direct reference to the crucifixion of Christ. Tradition language often cites that Christ was nailed to a “tree” – the cross of death being a dead tree – and what Blake wants us to grasp is that we – all of us here tonight – are complicit in the death of Christ most especially because of our own lack of forgiveness, our own “watering” and “sunning” of our resentments, our own refusal to let go of past harms, wrongs we have suffered and injuries done to us.
When we fail to begin the passion of our daily life with “forgiveness” – literally giving forth to God the harm done to us – then we slowly kill off a place for Christ to dwell in our hearts. No wonder, then, that when the disciples ask Jesus how to pray he includes this petition in His – the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“This petition is astonishing….” notes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “…the outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us.” Then the catechism concludes its comment on this petition of the Lord’s pray by noting: “Love like the Body of Christ is indivisible.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2838-40)
So why reverence the cross? We adore, reverence and venerate the cross – not because the bloody death of Christ is good – but because his death – unlike other human deaths – is not the end. No! It’s just the opposite! The outpouring of mercy and forgiveness that flows from the death of Christ on the cross marks a beginning – the beginning of new life on earth and the pathway to eternal life in heaven. Unlike all the other crucifixions of the ancient Middle East where death is the end: this crucifixion points to life, eternal life, the eternal life of Easter, the Easter resurrection of Christ and our own resurrection with Christ at the end of time.
Do you believe this? Do you believe in the power of Christ’s cross? Do you believe in its power to save you? Allow me to suggest tonight that as we reverence the cross we consciously place our resentments, our past injuries, our angers and the many ways we believe we have been harmed onto this cross acknowledging – in the words of the introduction to the Church’s Rite of Penance – that God is the source of all forgiveness – and that this forgiveness is not something we manufacture on our own. Let us place on the cross of Christ all harms from the past ever done to us, thus allowing forgiveness to become the starting point all the passions and all the trials of our daily lives too. Peace be with you!
Artwork: Russian icon with 5 themes. Fragment: Good Felon enters in Heaven, 17th Century.
Homily for Holy Thursday 2015
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15
The Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima
Peace be with you! Why the Eucharist? Why it’s commemoration each Holy Thursday? Why its centrality in our lives as Catholics? The scriptural key can be found in tonight’s Gospel from St. John: “Having loved his own in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
In our Gospel, Jesus picks up a basin and washes our feet. He does for us what we could never do for ourselves – makes us worthy to sit at His banquet table. He gives us of His very self in this lowly act of service. In doing so, he prepares the table where he gives us of himself – in all of his humanity and all of his divinity – in the Holy Eucharist.
In each and every Eucharist we hear four verbs: take, bless, break and give. They form the action of the Eucharist whereby God in the person of Jesus Christ keeps giving himself over to us – loving us to the very end.
“He took bread in his holy hands.” That phrase from the first Eucharistic prayer refers to the same hands that healed the sick and the lame, gestured forgiveness of sinners and their welcome at His table. He does the same for us. Through the Eucharist he takes us in our lowliness, our sinfulness, and our unworthiness. He loves us to the end.
“He said the blessing...” That next phrase reminds us that the same voice of Christ who blesses the bread and the wine is the same voice that blesses children. It is the same voice of Christ who proclaims the unusual blessing – the beatitude – upon the poor, the sorrowful, the meek, the hungry the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted. He loves us to the end.
“Broke the bread...” That verb “broke” speaks of the fact that – like Christ – we are broken for others so that our very lives witness to the life of Christ – Christ – who loves us to the end.
“…and gave it to his disciples...” The final verb in the action of the Eucharist – given – speaks to the fact that we are broken for others so we can be given away as nourishment for those around us so that others might know what we definitively know: He loves us to the end.
Being loved and being loved to the end means – quite literally – that when Jesus lays aside his garments, he lays aside his glory and begins the Last Supper with the most humble act imaginable in first century hospitality: the washing of the feet. This action of Jesus ought to tell us that none of our cares and burdens, none of our troubles and heartaches, none of our fears and frustrations is too little for his consideration. He loves us to the end.
“Having loved his own in the world, he loved them to the end.” Why the Eucharist? Because even now, Jesus loves us to the end! Perhaps, then, our adoration meditation this night might lead us to trust more deeply this utter love and utter closeness that God has for each and every one of us! Peace be with you.
(Image: "Communion of the Apostles," Luca Giordano, created 1659)
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
Homily for the Chrism Mass 2015 at St. Paul Cathedral, Diocese of Yakima
Isaiah 61:1-3a, 6a 8b-9; Revelation 1:5-8; Luke 4:16-21
Peace be with you! St. Luke the Evangelist notes that after Jesus has read the Isaiah scroll that everyone in the synagogue looked intently at him? Why? Scripture scholars note that, unlike Modern Hebrew, that has letters for the consonants and small diacritical marks for the vowels, those ancient Hebrew manuscripts were written only with consonants. That meant that the person proclaiming the Isaiah scroll had to know from memory and by heart which vowel to insert into each and every word of the scripture.
Perhaps this is why those in the synagogue looked so intently on Jesus for when he inserted the vowels he inserted “…glad tidings to the poor…liberty to the captives…sight to the blind… and freedom to the oppressed.” Thus Jesus is not just inserting vowel from memory into this text of Isaiah. No. God – in Jesus – inserts himself into our human condition. Brothers, let me suggest that this “insertion of God into humanity” is precisely what marks our ministerial priesthood as we celebrate the seven sacraments with our people.
One of the more powerful instances of this for me came this last summer. I had just returned from Pajacuarán celebrating Fr. Lalo Barragán’s beautiful “Canta Misa” – his first Mass – and returned in time to celebrate Eucharist with our rural migrant farm workers harvesting cherries on a farm north of Prosser. It was a very hot day. I had a few extra passengers come home with me in my intestines so I was a little sick. Additionally, flying home on the plane, I had somehow twisted by spine getting into those tiny coach seats.
A woman came up to me wanting me to listen to her confession. Because I was not feeling real well, I asked for two chairs and sat down to celebrate with her the Rite of Penance. When we concluded I turned around and saw dozens of people lined up. I thought to myself, this is what you – my brother priests – experience. This is who you – the Yakima priests – are for so many of our people. Quite literally, through your priestly ministry, you insert God into the very hard lives of our people.
Regardless of language or culture, many of our people face very hard lives. For some – especially on the English speaking side – it’s the loneliness and separation from children they’ve educated and raised who’ve left the valley for better job opportunities in Portland, Seattle or other major cities. For others – especially on the Spanish speaking side – it’s the separation from loved ones back home, the fear of deportation and the stress of raising a family between two different languages and two different world – English and Spanish – Mexican and North America – Hispanic and Anglo.
Our people come to us – often in pain and struggle – desiring that we help them insert God back into their lives. For some that pain often comes from an acute sense of guilt and sin. Like San Juan Diego’s response to Our Lady of Guadalupe they feel themselves “…nada más que una escalaría de tabla….” They feel they are so low in life that they are nothing more than a rickety wooden staircase – something that people walk on. They cannot believe that God has called them to a higher life, a deeper holiness or a call beyond themselves.
For others the complexity of daily life and the crush of work and family responsibilities dries them out spiritually to the point that the felt-sense of God has been deadened. Like the woman at the well in St. John’s Gospel, their parched interiority leaves them scarcely believe in a personal God who would insert himself into their lives and quench their thirst.
When our people come to us in their thirst and in their pain they look to us to see Jesus. They hope that this Chrism oil of ordination might salve their wounds and transform their daily struggles into a fragrant offer back to God. From us they desire to hear what the late Holy Father, St. John Paul the Second, noted; namely, that there is a “divine limit” imposed on sin and that limit is mercy. (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.)
If we are to remind them of this “divine limit” that mercy imposes against sin then – as priests – this means we have immersed ourselves in the Word of God and inserted ourselves into the very texts that Jesus proclaims in the synagogue. It means that we are faithful to our life of prayer, faithful to the radical emotional and relational availability that comes with the gift of celibacy, faithful to a simple lifestyle that allows us to put our people first, faithful to our promise of obedience to the Church who confirmed our priestly call.
In short, like those who hear Jesus in the synagogue and like those we serve today, we must look intently on Jesus who – even now – inserts himself with all of his humanity and all of his divinity into this celebration of the Eucharist.
Brothers in a few short weeks we will make our retreat together. We will bring our selves and our people to prayer together as the Yakima presbyterate. I thank you – the priests of the Diocese of Yakima – for the many ways you give yourselves to your parishioners and – parishioners of this great Diocese of Yakima – I thank you for the many ways you call our priests to become ever better icons of Jesus Christ. Together, may we fix our gaze on Jesus! Peace be with you.
Inviting Yakima Diocese Women to Leadership Training Development Workshop
I received a very gracious communication from Kathleen Tansey who is president of the Seattle Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women. They are having this training opportunity in the Vancouver area and would like to extend this invitation to women across the Diocese of Yakima. Would you kindly consider sharing these flyers and information with your women leadership groups in your local parishes such as the YLI and Catholic Daughters? If you or your local leaders want more information, feel free to call Kathleen at (253) 630-7755. To view flyers and information, please click here.
Dear Bishop Tyson,
I know for many years while you served in the Seattle Archdiocese, you supported Seattle ACCW with your presence, especially celebrating Mass with us at annual conventions. It's been almost 10 years since there were active Council affiliate members in the Yakima Diocese. I'd like Yakima women welcomed back into our organization. Here is a perfect opportunity for them to learn more about National Council of Catholic Women and also enhance leadership skills. I ask you to support the event by sending representation.\
I share wonderful news from the Seattle ACCW. Along with the Portland ACCW and with the support of a $1000 grant from NCCW Associates, we are bringing two trainers from the Leadership Team to the Pacific Northwest for a day workshop on Friday, April 24, 2015. With the gracious welcome of Fr. Gary Lazzeroni and Event Coordinator, Jerry Herrera, it will be held at St. Joseph Parish in Vancouver, WA. The location allows easy access for Catholic Women from both Western and Eastern Washington and Oregon to come learn about the lifecycle of an organization, generational characteristics & relationships, and more. Priced at only $39, including lunch and hospitality with a working schedule from 10am to 5:30pm, many women can come just for the day. There is an option to stay one or two nights at the Red Lion at the Quay for only $89pn plus tax including breakfast.
Jim Thomas, Director of Life, Justice Peace, and Family for the Archdiocese of Seattle and our ACCW liaison at the Archdiocese has encouraged with the planning, host application and grant request. He felt a workshop like this could be of value to all Catholic Women and to the parishes they service. He is sharing the attached fliers with registration forms, bulletin announcements, and letter to Priests via the weekly message from the Seattle Archdiocese. I ask you to do the same in the Dioceses of Yakima, Baker, and Spokane. It's possible that some parish priests and populations may receive the information twice but it is better twice than not at all. It is exciting opportunity that we offer to share with you.
I ask you to support this event by sharing the news throughout your diocese and encouraging women of all ages to come learn more about their leadership potential and about how they are connected from the parish level to the USCCB. I ask you to download some or all of the attachments for your use. If you have any questions or need clarification, please do not hesitate to call. I look forward to your response.
Kathleen G. Tansey, President 2012-14
Contact: 253-630-7755 Seattle Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women 710 Ninth Avenue, Seattle WA 98104-2017