By BISHOP EDWARD J. BURNS
A BISHOP’S PERSPECTIVE in the Juneau Empire
April 13, 2014
One of the challenges we face in American culture is to retain a sense of the sacred. By sacred I am not solely referring to our formal religious observances (while these are very important) but also to those occasions in our culture during which we set aside ordinary activities to celebrate or commemorate what is highly valued and important in our society.
For example, Memorial Day, which is coming up at the end of May, is not really about celebrating a three-day weekend, hosting barbecues or discounts on consumer items. Instead, this is a sacred day dedicated to mourning our war dead and honoring those who died serving our country. At gatherings across the country, including here in Juneau, citizens join veterans in both honoring those who have died in our country’s wars and in reaffirming as a society and a national community the values of dedication, service and self-sacrifice that we believe in. It is a day set apart and dedicated to this important and significant activity. Those who have fallen in battle for our country are deserving of our respect. So, as a society, we set a day apart dedicated to the important, necessary and public activity of commemoration and gratitude.
Similarly, although in a much less somber way than on Memorial Day, we celebrate the founding of our country on Independence Day as a public holiday with fireworks, parades and other events as we hold sacred our independence and freedom.
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred week of the entire year for Christians. During this week, we commemorate the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday and his resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Holy Week provides an opportunity to participate spiritually in the mysteries of Christ’s passion, sufferings, death and resurrection. It leads to a greater appreciation of the initiative that God has taken to be one with us in our sufferings, identifying his love for us by sending his Son, and by his desire to be one with us for all eternity through the gift of salvation won for us by Christ’s victory over death.
By Barry Schoedel
In 1984 as a reflection on the Redemption Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter, titled Salvifici Doloris, or, On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering. In this letter the soon to be canonized pope wrote about suffering, and what it means to suffer with faith in Christ, in the communion of the Church. It is a profound meditation, particularly as we approach our celebration of the resurrection of Christ, having as one people united ourselves more closely to His death through the penances of Lent.
The late Pope wrote, “if one becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ, this happens because Christ has opened His suffering to man, because He Himself in His redemptive suffering has become, in a certain sense, a sharer in all human sufferings. Man, discovering through faith the redemptive sufferings of Christ, also discovers in it his own sufferings, he rediscovers them, through faith, enriched in content and new meaning.” St. Paul beautifully articulates this truth that he discovered within himself through Christ, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Each one of us is invited to discover Christ in this same way, within ourselves, in the deepest recesses of our experience of suffering. Through faith we find light there, God is there, with us.
By Deacon Charles Rohrbacher
In the Rule of St. Benedict he directs his monks to engage in spiritual reading each day during the forty days of Lent. As a Benedictine oblate I endeavor to follow the rule insofar as is possible given my state of life as a husband, a father and a deacon. So before Lent begins it has been my practice to search out an appropriate book, divide it by 40 and start reading.
This Lent I decided that I needed to read in full the Ladder of Divine Ascent, a spiritual classic by St. John of the Ladder, as well as the Book of Exodus. Reading the Ladder was given more impetus when I discovered, just before Lent began that the icon of the Ladder that I had been working on for over a year had developed some small but fatal cracks in the gesso (the plaster coating that receives the paint and the gold leaf in a traditional icon).
This meant that I needed to start again from scratch. So on Ash Wednesday I borrowed a power-sander from my friend Pat and sanded the icon right down to the board. As Pat pointed out, a bare board and a sander would be compelling props for an Ash Wednesday homily; perhaps next year.
So for the first two and a half weeks of Lent I forged ahead, reading my daily portion of the Ladder of Divine Ascent until God decided that my Lent was going to have a different character entirely. I had just completed ‘Step 6: Death’ and was beginning ‘Step 7: Sorrow’ when I received the news that my beloved teacher and friend, Fr. Egon Sendler, had died after a short illness.
Pere Igor was 90 years old, so his death, while unexpected was no surprise. Yet during these mid-weeks of Lent I’m afraid that I haven’t progressed much farther than those two rungs.
Pere Igor was a Byzantine Catholic Jesuit priest and his vocation since the 1950’s had been as an icon painter and teacher of icon painting in Paris. I was fortunate to be able to study with him in France, first in 1992 and again in 1998 and to visit him one last time in 2002.
By Deirdre Darr,
Executive Director, Shrine of St. Therese
In mid-February Bishop Burns asked that I arrange two outreach days at the Shrine of St. Therese for clients of The Glory Hole in Juneau. As a new resident of Juneau, I knew very little about the place so I did a little research. In 2013, The Glory Hole, a soup kitchen and emergency shelter in downtown Juneau, served over 50,000 meals and offered a warm, dry place to sleep 12,000 times. The Glory Hole has an amazing ministry and offers respite from the burden of homelessness, but it is still a heavy weight to carry and that was the point of Bishop Burns’ plan: to offer clients of The Glory Hole an afternoon of peace.
Leading up to the first outing, new and gently used items were collected at St. Paul’s and the Cathedral. Once delivered to The Glory Hole, the donated items found new, thankful owners. I watched as a man donned a new pair of white athletic shoes replacing his dirty, worn pair.
Five gentlemen from The Glory Hole joined us for the first outing to the Shrine on March 6th. While the weather was cold, it was a beautiful, sunny day and we had stunning views of the Chilkat Mountains. One man told Bishop Burns that the day was “a miracle.”
Holy Name School has announced the retirement of Connie Wingren, who has served as principal for the past five years and served as kindergarten teacher for many more years before that.
Connie moved to Ketchikan in 1967 as a kindergarten teacher for “Old Main” school. She became a member of Holy Name Parish, then located downtown, where she also taught Sunday school for the preschool and kindergarten children.
Her teaching career went on hiatus after she met Jim Wingren and married in January of 1969, in order to raise a family. From 1973 to 1980 Connie tutored students from Holy Name. For many of those years the children would walk to her home and spend about an hour working on reading or math. These children have always played a special part in Connie’s life as they have all become successful adults.
In 1979, Connie began to think about having a kindergarten program at Holy Name. Her two oldest children were attending Holy Name and her youngest would begin in the fall. With much prayer preceding, she said that she would volunteer for a couple of years to financially assist the school. These “couple” of years turned to seven years, and, she says, they were some of the most rewarding years of her career as a teacher. The special part is that the children she taught now have children of their own attending Holy Name.