Reading the Newspaper Obits

I read the newspaper obituaries. I have been an ordained clergyman in eight parishes, so I know Catholic people from the region between Montgomery County down through mid-St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Just today, I found out through the Washington Post that Donald Baughmann passed (husband to parishioner in Rockville). I also heard that Marty Novak died (Laurel member), so I will already know it by Saturday morning paper’s notice.
I also know that in the past week a former classmate of mine’s (SPX School) mother died (Mrs. Jones), and a woman I knew while growing up in Bowie also died (Mary Conroy). She was in city and state politics, along with her husband, and knew my parents through that. I read Mary’s obit in the Post this week. It recognized her 20 years in Md.’s House of Delegates.

Sometimes I note a few things in the obits. There are stories being told there. This week they included quick stories of some fascinating women. In the Post paper this week I saw that an actress died that I have seen a few times on stage (Tana Hicken). It said she had “received 20 nominations for Helen Hayes awards in her life of 70 years, with a wide range of characters played.” I also read that Pittsburgh’s 1st female mayor passed at 96. 26 years ago Sophie Masloff won the vote as a folksy Jewish grandmother figure mayor, picked to lead a city out of a long slump. I was amazed to read that Pittsburgh’s first female mayor “was born to impoverished Romanian immigrants, with a dad who died when she was 2, and under a mom who scraped a living out of rolling cigars in a factory, and who had never learned English.” As a young woman, Sophie “worked in Allegheny County government jobs for four decades, as such did her husband Jack, and it led all the way to becoming Mayor of the big city.
I also read that Bowie’s Jamie Paterson died at 84. What was notable of this homemaker? Her grandfather was the Confederate General James Longstreet. I also read that Bowie’s Mary Smith, a D.C. teacher in her life, passed at 88. She was in public schools for 34 years. Notable to me was that she kept her Catholic membership going at St. Gabriel’s parish in NW DC, where she evidently was baptized long ago as baby Mary Dorsey.
These all were quick but informative stories of some interesting women whom God has blessed the earth in our area.

I also learned from Alan Postlethwaite’s obit (8-17)that he was a native of England but eventually got a job in the Smithsonian’s Conservation Unit, due to his learnedness as a metallurgical scientist. I found out that the Smithsonian was first begun and funded by an Englishman named Smithson. In the close of the obit, I wondered how this museum official ended up being, in his retirement, “a volunteer in President Bill Clinton’s White House.”

In a couple of days our own parishioner Theresa Proctor will have her obit in the paper. Theresa lived on Queen Anne Rd. for the past 57 years, and was married to “Mott” who predeceased her a few years ago here (I did his funeral.) She had been faithful to Mass through her life, and she was active in our parish, even in its founding days, even helping to keep our parish rectory cleaned. She helped social activities in the parish, too. Theresa lived beforehand on Church Road when that area belonged to Holy Family Mitchellville parish. In our becoming a parish (as a mission from Holy Family), Theresa helped us get the new members to St. Edward the Confessor, even when we just met in a school. Her wake and funeral are on Thursday morning, Aug. 29th at St. Edward. Her enthusiasm and smile and faith will be missed.

I had heard that another local (Anne Arundal County) priest had written some thoughts on obituaries…
Here’s what he said. He comically noted that the reading of obituaries is an Irish thing of looking and being sure that you are not listedin them, so that you can celebrate that you have another day to live well in this world! Obituary reading is his “racing form so that he’ll know who out ran him to heaven that day.”

One other comedian quips: “What’s up with obituaries? They now cost you an arm and a leg! The newspaper used to publish your passing for free. Now it costs you a lot of money just to inform others you are going six feet under. It hardly leaves your kin to cover the rest of the funeral bills. Ah–but you should just send them to 777 Pearly Gates, attention to St. Peter. He’ll cover you for the rest.”

Clive the Human Cannonball says he won’t need a funeral Mass. “Whenever the cannon shot does miss the target,” he says, “you can just go get a shovel and bury me where I have fatefully landed. It is probably where God intended for me to lay! Call it fate.”

Meaningful Memorial Day

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Here above is a photo of Decoration Day 1879 in Antietam Battlefield in Maryland. It shows a photo of one of the earliest celebrations of what today is named Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for the war-dead of our countrymen. This one was held on the 27th anniversary of the Sept. 17, 1862 battle– the war date of much blood and misery when the nation had lost its most soldiers ever in a day’s battle– when North and South forces fought each other in our America’s Civil War. In the old photo it doesn’t show the great numbers that came out that day. They came in the thousands to Antietam on this Decoration Day, to adorn (decorate) gravestones with flowers and flags, to collect together as people to remember those who perished and to say prayers for those fallen soldiers’ souls, and to hear a speech or poem or song for stirring up respect for our war dead– who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. They came to Antietam to pray for peace and accord in the nation (which had been torn asunder by the Civil War).
This is our pre-cursor to Memorial Day. At Decoration Day (and now Memorial Day) it is a time set aside to honor the war-dead, to remember the toll on human lives that war brings, and to pray for peace.

I went to Antietam National Park and Battlefield and Cemetery for my 2014 Memorial Day observance. It was meaningful. This year the numbers of holiday visitors in Antietam were fairly numerous–it was nice to see. In some recent years I have honored the day by attending parades or memorial wreath placings or a special concert or gone to watch the Rolling Thunder in the morning in DC and then walked along the national memorials. It feels right to do something meaningful for this holiday.

Antietam National Battlefield Park is just about 1 1/2- 2 hours from Bowie. National Park Rangers were there to assist visitors and lead tours, other volunteers were on hand to share information, paid tour guides were available, and a self-directed car drive hand-out is given out for people to follow and travel the whole area of the 1862 battle. The area is preserved and kept up like it was as a century-and-a-half ago. Markers and monuments are placed where Civil War action was held. The State of Maryland, in cooperation with the U.S. National Parks, has done a good job here in keeping this as a place of remembrance. The picket fences and fields seem like they were back in Civil War times. I took a photo, and while it was a peaceful and balanced one, I realized how different the scene was in 1862, as it was in the deadliest trench of the battle. IMG_20140526_130232_450

At the Marylander’s memorial, just near the Dunker’s Church (a battle center), I saw some artistic reliefs put on for display. Two of them I include in the photos.

You will also see in one of the photos a plaque from the National Cemetery that contains lines from “Bivouac of the Dead” by T. O’Hara, a famous poem of the 19th century on war and loss. The tall statue with the Maryland flowers is from the center of that cemetery, which held lines and lines of small white markers with a flag placed next to each one.
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Winning Weekends

The past few weekends have kept me busy. Church life usually brings a schedule of good busy-ness!

How I might comment on it (in this blog) is to say that I have many “Winning Weekends.” Great things happen on my weekends.

I am talking about what weekend life is for one in ministry. All Glory to the Lord for it, too. (Not to me.)

This weekend for Palm Sunday I had two of the morning Masses, and they were rich with all the prayers and songs and involvement of the start of Holy Week. The First Eucharistic Prayer and the incense over the gifts and the two Gospels (opening one of the procession to Jerusalem, and the drama narrative) did give the Mass a solemnity befitting Our Lord Jesus’ week of Passion. It was evident that the Spirit of the Lord was especially present in the church, and that many people had come in seriousness and devotion to pray on this special Sunday.

During the morn, I had many quick visits with people, and then I visited with the RCIA class for an hour, and then I had to prepare for our afternoon of prayer, and then we started it at 2 and went to 4:15p.m. A large number of people showed up for it. I was the presider. We had a Litany to Mary, a Rosary, a time of anointing of the sick (it was spontaneous, with many persons asking for it), Eucharistic Adoration, and a good time of devotion. We made a Consecration to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, too.
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(The guest priests prayed the 11:30 and the 4:30 Palm Sunday Masses, and the Vigil. I was glad this year that I was not as hard-pressed as other years, when, since 2008, I had been always doing all but one of the Palm Sunday Masses. We have two retired priests who come to help off-and-on and a Franciscan priest assisting me now in 2014. This has helped me a lot, since we had five Masses for Palm Sunday 2014.)

Then, a little later on for Palm Sunday, the Youth Group came to my house from 6 to 9 p.m. to see “The Passion of the Christ” film.

On Saturday afternoon (Apr. 19) leading in to the liturgies, I had some church errands for me to do (buying the palm trees and bringing them to church) along with doing two baptisms and attending the family reception(s). In the early evening, I assisted with the prep of the church for Mass, and made myself available as the second priest to hear 4 to 5 p.m. confessions (as I expected a lot of persons to come, though it was only about 12 people, and the guest priest heard all of them).
On Saturday night, I had a hospital visit to make for an hour of the evening. I also was able to fit in a dinner with a parish couple.

It was a rewarding and full weekend. Do you see what I mean, about a “Winning Weekend?”

Below is one of the couples for baptism with their sweet baby daughter, and the cake with her likeness on it (sweet too).
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Yet many weekends are Winning Weekends. The parish Masses make them splendid ones, as well as the
other activities that take place with parishioners.

On the weekend beforehand of April 5-6, I prayed two of the four parish Masses, and I heard the Saturday vigil confessions. I got to teaching the RCIA class on Sunday morn, as well as stop in for the Donut Sunday, socials of the first weekend of the month. I had some appointments with people on the weekend, and I gave my Sunday afternoon to the P.G. Stadium ballpark to support the Vocations Day at the BaySox game and its ‘double-header’ feature of the DC Padres (priests and sems) vs. a Catholic High School team. The Padres won that one. I got to throw out the first pitch at that game. (A high inside strike!)
IMG_20140414_134841 Demonstrating the famous Barry drop-fastball.

The weekend before that one (of March 29-30) included going all Saturday to the Youth Group retreat down at Camp Maria (off the Potomac in St. Mary’s County), and then taking a parish pilgrimage most of Sunday to the same county and a parish dinner down there. In-between, I had prayed two Sunday Masses at tSt. Edward parish and led our “Joy of the Gospel” book club (Sunday) session.

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It has been a busy time and I try to be engaged in a lot of parish ends, from the elderly to the youth and in-between. At our Catholic school and in our Rel. Ed. last week, we have held confessions for many of the youth and children. Plus, we had a Penance Service for all of the parish last Monday. We recently have held a Parish Liturgy Committee meeting to prepare for this Holy Week, and we have had a Parish Council meeting. This week is my Eucharistic visits (Masses and Communion calls) to all the homes and institutions of the elderly and home-bound. We also have all the liturgies of the Holy Triduum coming this week, and all their prep times each morning.

I keep in a good pace. I think, though, that the work of one priest in a parish is more suited to the man in his 30’s and 40’s. (I turned 57 last week.) I have been praying for vocations to come join the priestly fraternity of Washington and to bring help and new energy. My past parish (where I visited for the Spring Dinner on that pilgrimage) has asked the pastor (a younger man) to now lead his AND the neighboring parish for his duties, as the time of parish twinning has come to our diocese, with three couplets now going, and more coming ahead.

As a Lenten project in our parish, we did pray for all of the DC seminarians, for God to bless them in their preparations into a future priestly or diaconate life of service to the Church of Washington.

Tonight is the re-dedication prayers at St. Matthew’s Cathedral of the priests and bishops of this Archdiocese—as we gather for the Holy Oils Mass. My 25th time for a Holy Week and re-dedication. It was at St. Matthew’s Cathedral that I was ordained.

Fr. Barry

A Bible in the Hotel Drawer

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This picture above is a Bible that is on my office desk. I have been using it since the 1970′s. Yet I hardly ever take it with me when I travel. The picture below is of a Gideon Bible from my hotel room. IMG_20140316_221206_850

A Bible in the Hotel Drawer
I probably stay in hotel and motel rooms at least about seven nights every year. I will be staying in one this week, but it has been three months since I last did it. In the Advent season I did go up to see a show in the Lancaster Pennsylvania area, and stayed a night at a place, and they had a Gideon Bible in the hotel room’s night table. As I was in a mostly Christian town, and Amish-owned motel, I pretty much expected it. But three other places where I stayed in 2013, such as in Cleveland last October (in a big hotel chain), oddly didn’t have one. I mused over it with the hotel manager at check-out in the morning: “Hey! There’s no Bible in the room. Sir, did the Gideon society miss this place?!” He said: “We don’t have them anymore. I don’t think anyone ever read them, when we did have them.” I replied: “Well, I must admit, whenever I looked at a Gideon Bible in a room, it seemed to be in mint condition. Yet I did use one from time to time in the past, looking into my hotel’s night stand for the Gideon’s copy, even if it wasn’t my Catholic version of the Bible.”

He said: “I wonder, that if the country is mostly populated with Christians, how is it that those Gideon Bibles were mostly unopened in our hotels, as you said, staying in mint condition?” I said: “ I don’t know. Maybe it was more of a holy symbol to people, like a comfort, that there was a Bible in the drawer.” He said: “Well, hotels may be accepting them less now.”
I suggested to him that he put a notice in his hotel room binders of how a person could download a Bible APP or where they easily could find the Bible on the internet. I told him that it is how I read Scriptures on the road. He said: “Of course. Good idea.” But I gave him a Catholic Bible APP! I said “For internet searches for the Scriptures–Go to usccb bible online. Then you’ll have the Bible instantly.” Again, that’s the site for the full Catholic Bible!

With Gideon Bibles missing in Cleveland, and from other stay-over places in my 2013, I thought, perhaps, that the Gideon Bible organization was giving in to the fact that we can get the Word on our phones and computers now. I googled them to see if they still were on the job. Indeed they were! I saw that the Gideons are still going, and how they gave out over 942 Million Bibles out in the past decade—full ones or pocket New Testaments. They spent $129 million in their work in 2013 alone. But their concentration was over in India, Thailand and some other new territories. Maybe where phone Bible APPS are not used.

I had the ‘continental breakfast’ in the Cleveland hotel before my drive off onto the highway. The hotel had a handy waffle iron there, with ready-to-pour batter, syrup and fruit toppings standing by. While waiting for the timer to tell me my waffle was ready, I got online with my phone and read the daily Scriptures of the Mass-of-the -day, to prepare for my later Thursday night Mass back in Bowie. No need to haul my 10 pound Family Bible along. I went to the USCCB readings of the day online. It’s very convenient.

I wonder if in the Rome, Italy–would the Marriott hotels there have a Catholic Bible in each night drawer? Or has the Gideon Society got their New King James Bible in the rooms? And, what language would it be in? Italian? English? Or would it instead be the Book of Mormon, since Marriott is owned by Mormons? Well, I suppose not in Rome, but I would venture to guess that in Salt Lake City’s Marriott there is a Book of Mormon ‘Bible’ in the night drawer. I’m just wondering!
The judge Gideon from the Bible probably was a good choice for the Gideon Bible Society to have as their name’s sake. I bet that for the people who really have turned to a Bible in a hotel room, (since 1908 when that Gideon Bible Society started), that the person might have been searching for a sign and an answer of guidance over how to handle some difficulty going in their life. They might have just opened the Bible to anywhere and just read what it said—allowing God to ‘randomly’ speak to them—as if giving ‘a sign.’ Gideon the judge was like that. He laid out his fleece to see if God would leave an obvious sign for him. God did so! Then, he left the Ephra Holiday Inn and went and defeated the idol-worshipping Midianites, then, hurrah, all of Israel was free and they rejoiced!

Awful Tv

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There was a show that was advertised over and over on a network. It was touted as “one of the great shows on this network.” It was broadcast right after an NFL play-off football game to boost viewship last Sunday night. It was called “The Following” and starring actor Kevin Bacon. Indeed, the show was following football. However, in watching it for a quarter-hour, I recommend that noone follow it. It shouldn’t have a following.

The TV show started off with much violence. It began with a band of masked attackers set on killing people with ice picks or awls. One attack leads off the show, as someone in an art gallery is pierced. It soon goes next into scenes of an attack of a whole subway car of persons; resulting in several bloody deaths by viscious stabbings, by a gang set out to harm all aboard the car.
You are hoping for a commercial break by this point, perhaps one for headache or sick stomach medicine.

Soon after the commercial break, we go to a scene of one of the supposed attackers who has gone back to his apartment. He is shown doing something quite sick there. He is first seen sleeping with a dead woman and then later he is shown lifting her and dancing with her lifeless body.

After the next long round of commercials; the program shows police working on the case. Here then we see the star of the show, Kevin Bacon, and he is sizing up the gruesome events in a matter-of-fact way with the police, and Bacon’s character then hits the streets, and he will try to take matters in his own hands (not with the police nor FBI). He breaks into someone’s ‘low-lifer’s’ home, and tries to obtain information on the case by beating up the person. We are off to a whale-of-a start here.

In the commercial break; the Fox tv network’s local station gives a “news break” from their live news desk in which they report about real knife killings that have happened in our nearby Washington DC today. I am left to wonder if that specific news was purposely reported to stir viewer’s further interest in watching “The Following” to its end. (?!) Or was it a coincidence or an unplanned thing? All I know is that it was my cue to turn the tv show off. I had seen enough. I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Kevin Bacon has been asked to play sickos or evil persons in his latest performances. Yet, I wanted to know if the highly touted program was going to be worth watching. Not so. It is awful.

I think I write this blog to just confirm that what is being aired (even on regular tv, not even on the no rules cable/dish pay channels) is so bad for viewers to watch. This show called “The Following” is just a sample of violent shows. As we hear of violent acts going on around the nation in our malls, schools, parks and so forth— can’t we make the connection that our media entertainment (including the many bad electronic games now being played) is feeding the beast? The USA is getting colder and colder in our sin. Watching some tv programs is like sending ice cubes from our eyes and mind down to our souls.

Our Deacon Barnes spoke on the ill regard for human life in his homily on Sat. night and Sunday morn. He was commenting on it, in relating the Scripture and his theme of John 1 (The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world) to the marking of the 41st March for Life in Washington this coming Wednesday. The March will protest the open and government-sanctioned violence of abortions of children in America, numbering 55 million in the USA over these past four decades. The Silent Scream of violence is heard loud and clear by God and by His elect. It is the real “culture of death” that we are trying to combat in our living for Life and the Glory of the Lord. The Lord wants to take us away from sin and all the harm it does to people and to this world.

Welcome to Father Barry’s Blog! & Hello Pope Francis!

This is the blog of Father John Barry. I am the pastor of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Bowie, Maryland. As our parish council defined us a few years ago, “St. Edward parish is a family of faith-filled disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, living the gospel through worship and service.” This “Mission Statement” remains our focus, and it is written in on our parish bulletin as a reminder. Thus, I thought I’d lead off with it here.

I am the first pastor in the parish to have a blog. I will be learning to do this as I go along. I heard that Benedict XVI had the first papal blog and that he was the first pope on Twitter.
I suppose Pope Francis will follow suit. The popes will have much traffic and followers to their messages; I hope to have even just a few readers from the parish tag along. A blog gives me room to share or report things that might interest some people. If not, then that’s fine. I enjoy just trying this new thing out.

THIS FIRST BLOG’S “HEADLINES” :)
Our Catholic Church has a new pope. He is Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina He is a South American, the first such pope in history. He has some Italian in his recent lineage, which also will help him a lot. He was born Dec. 17, 1936. He is 77. This is the biggest story of this Spring 2013 in the Church, and it will be the biggest one of the year, so I suppose my blog should mark it as happening! He began his pontificate on March 13th, just about a month ago. He is Pope number 266.

Bergoglio has an interesting so far. He worked briefly as a chemical technician and a nightclub bouncer(!) before entering the seminary. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1969, and from 1973 to 1979 was Argentina’s Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus. He became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and was created a Cardinal in 2001. Following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 28 February 2013, the subsequent papal conclave elected Bergoglio to be his successor. He is the first Jesuit pope, yet it is interesting that he chose the papal name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order, and an Italian. Pope Francis is the first non-European Pope since Pope Gregory III in 741, some 1272 years ago. Francis’ election is certainly a Church-changer from the outset.

You can wrap up reading today’s blog here, or keep going if you want a little info on our pope that perhaps isn’t in the media.
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EXTRA It has been noted that this new pope will take a humble approach to the Chair of Peter, as he did as bishop in Buenos Aires. He will devote much time to noting the needs of the poor, and he will be a man of dialogue and openness that will either greatly please some persons in the Church, or perhaps disrupt a few who have maybe a staid view for Catholicism. Yet the new pontiff will not stray from the serious stands and traditions of The Faith, as he has assured Catholics that he is a “son of the Church.” Yet he wants a less confrontational rigid Church under him. He has already stated that Catholics have concentrated excessively on condemning abortion, contraception, and homosexual acts, while neglecting the greater need for tenderness, mercy and compassion. Still, while as a Cardinal, he opposed gay marriage in Argentina, citing it as a “destructive attack on God’s plan,” and he has called abortion “horrific” and he has insisted that women be valued, but not clericized. He has maintained (in his episcopal history) that divorced and re-married Catholics may not receive Holy Communion, and he has excommunicated a former Catholic priest for Eucharistic sacrilege and heretical views. So, he will defend the Church and petition her members to live in holiness. He will bring some things new to the papacy, as in style and approach and priorities, and he will keep things traditional and true with the 2000 year old Church, too.
Welcome Pope Francis. I would like to get to know you better. We all would.
Accordingly, he urged Bishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta to speak out against adoption by same-sex couples,[13][14] [17][18] Furthermore, he emphasized the Christian obligation to assist the poor and the needy in an optimistic tone, as well as promoting peace negotiations and interfaith dialogue