Father David Anderson: the coming of the day of pentecost 3

Until this day, the effect of the alteration strange and beautiful comes to all of those upon whom the grace of God has blown. That means, dearest ones, that we now live inside the three Persons, though it takes a great act of faith it takes to confess that.

In our existence, and in a world which seems increasingly closed in upon itself, where we witness in our time the implosion of individuality, it takes a great act of faith to confess that. Nevertheless, the mystery of Pentecost proclaims to us that we live inside God, and not in a way that we cease to be the human creatures that we are; not in a way in which our personhood is in any way diminished, but instead, it is enlarged.

How is it enlarged? Well, we shall know that in the age to come, in the regeneration, when we shall partake of those things that the Church’s prayer of thanksgiving says are still are unknown to us: “We give thanks to the things that are known and unknown.”

What is unknown to us? What is unknown to us, yet already has been given to us, is that when we shall fully live inside the one God in three persons, in the three divine persons, we shall also–all of us—live within each other. Ponder that for a moment.

Each of us, all–and I don’t mean the few of us here. But all of those persons created in the image and likeness of God from Adam until the end. Each of those, who reach their destiny, upon whom the grace of God has blown and have become transformed with the alteration strange and beautiful, shall live inside each other with a capacity that is limitless.

Our minds collapse when we try to imagine eternity because we are confined in time and find it difficult to get past the notion of time that goes on and on. Yet that will be no more, but instead, there will be the eternity of God. God will be all in all, says St. Paul. And in that God being all in all, all who are in God will be “all” in each other.

Can you imagine just for a moment: each one of us, every angelic and human person that has been created by the one God in three persons, having a limitless capacity for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Can you imagine the immensity of that?

People who experience human love in this world – in marriage, in true friendship–have a small reflection of that “insidedness.” Often, spouses and friends who love each other suffer from love. Love makes them suffer. With the taste of the love that they have, comes the experience of its limitations; there is still an “outsidedness” that prevents the within-ness from being complete.

What about when that outsidedness is removed and doesn’t exist anymore? All outsidedness with God removed! All outsidedness with each other removed!

And everything that is experienced of the divine Persons and of the human persons and of the angelic persons is a limitless banquet of delight and beauty and perfection!

What about that? There will be no end! ‘

‘Then shall I know, even as I am known,’ says St. Paul when he speaks of faith, hope and love abiding and the greatest of these is love. Then shall I know even as I am known!

So, dearest ones, on the day of Pentecost, let us exult in this mystery of insidedness, withinness, and magnify the one God in three persons, as persons created by Him, who by His unimaginable love, have become transformed with the alteration strange and beautiful that He has breathed upon us.

Then neither life nor death nor things present nor things to come nor any other thing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us, Your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of Your love, now and unto the endless ages. Amen.

Father David Anderson: the coming of the day of pentecost 2

The second cause is the Ascension of the Lord, when He is exalted over the earth and crosses the threshold back into eternity from where He came. But, you see, He did not come from eternity bearing humanity. He returned to it (eternity) bearing humanity, clothed in humanity, not in a garment that one takes off, but in that which has become part of Him.

With our humanity, the Son of God crosses the threshold of eternity, and this is also another cause that has an effect in the very heart of things.   And that effect is that the life of God is poured out upon the world, as a result of the entry of a piece of that world into eternity in the ascended body of the Lord. So there is cause and effect, and action and reaction in the work of God, in the very heart of things.

That life-giving power, as wind and as fire–not wind and fire but as wind and as fire–came down during Pentecost and drove the apostles forth to breathe on the world, as God had breathed on them; and we, upon whom the grace of God has blown, have grown bright and radiant as lightning transformed with an alteration strange and beautiful. Well, that is an introduction to what the alteration is. Now we must speak of the alteration itself–its strangeness and its beauty.

The alteration that we have received, that has been breathed upon us, that has made us strange and beautiful, is that we have received what Jesus our Lord speaks of in the Gospel as the gift of God, the living water. In receiving it, we have become sources of it. The living water has come to us and now gushes up within us unto life everlasting.

What is life everlasting? It is the life of the one God in three Persons, and those three Persons live inside each other. They do not live external to each other, but within each other. Though they live within each other, their unique Personhood is in no way diminished but magnified.

The great iconographer Andrei Rublev has, as far as it is possible to do so with art, captured that in the icon of The Trinity. All of the three Persons are shown there as having eyes only for each other, the Son and Spirit having their source, their origin in the Father. Yet the Son and the Spirit do not have an origin and source in time but in the Father. So in that eternity, they live in each other!

How great a mystery that is for creatures like us who have endured the curse of the fall and death and live outside of each other–and outside the one God in three persons. God partially reveals Himself, but the reason why the revelation is partial in the Old Covenant is that you still can’t get in! “Moses, you have seen My back, but you cannot see my face” [God says].

Father David Anderson: the coming of the day of pentecost

Father David Anderson is pastor of Saint Peters Eastern Catholic Church in Ukiah, California. This homily was given May 2016.

“Magnify, O my soul, the one God in three Persons,” St. Gregory the Theologian said, while speaking on the day of Pentecost, words which have been set to song by the Church to the services of this day by the great hymnographers, especially St. John of Damascus: “We celebrate the day of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the appointed day for the promise, the fulfillment of our hope, a breathing which is the breath of God, a present share in the tongues of fire.”

A breathing, which is the breath of God, and a present share in the tongues of fire – that is the fulfillment of our hope, which has been given to us in the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

For 33 years now, as I have preached on Pentecost, at some point I say the last verse of the Matins canon: All of us, upon whom the grace of God has blown, have become radiant as lightning, transformed with an alteration strange and beautiful.

What is this alteration strange and beautiful, which is the fulfillment of our hope, and the present share in the inheritance God gives to his own? To know what it is, not only with the mind but with the entire being, we must begin from the world that we observe and the life that we live in it–and that is, everything happens as a result of causes and effects, actions and reactions.

We observe this constantly. We observe it so much that perhaps we don’t even think of it, even though it surrounds us constantly: causes and effects. The reason why the world operates and life seems to operate by causes and effects is that everything is a faint reflection of how God is, how God works.

In this Paschal time, we have celebrated and partaken of what could be called the two great causes and effects of our God. First, the cause of the voluntary death of the Son of God made flesh. He, who is utterly in His personhood outside creation, entered that creation and gave His life for that creation voluntarily, as an act of His will. This is a cause.

And it produces an effect, an effect in the very heart of things, so much beyond and so much deeper even than all the causes and effects that scientists can observe in the universe. The effect caused by the voluntary death of the Lord Jesus Christ is His Resurrection. His death causes it, because it is a singular death of a singular person, who uniquely and voluntarily enters into death with our humanity and thus unravels it.

We hear of that unraveling in the accounts of the Lord’s death in the Gospels; even the cosmos bears witness to it, and we could say, some of the dead prematurely come forth because at the very depths of existence, death is despoiled of its power. And so, we proclaim that not one dead remains in the tombs, because Christ is risen. His death causes His Resurrection. By His Cross, joy has come into the world. (to be continued)

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Easter Exodus of Love 4

The ongoing exodus experience, of conversion, is a true ecstasy, a coming out of ourselves in the discovery of God’s self, a greater love of the One who loves us. It’s a call for constantly having a renewed attitude of conversion. Sometimes, conversion has to be met on the level of our attitudes. The conversion of our heart, what’s going on in our heart, the emotions, the moods, all of these things, the thoughts in our minds, all of that is expressed in attitude.

From there comes disposition because when truth goes from the mind to the heart, it goes deeper and takes root in us; it becomes disposition, which is how I’m disposed towards somebody or something. Conversion of heart, as St. Paul says, means ‘being transformed by the renewal of our mind’ (Romans 12:1-2) that we may know what is God’s will and choose it. In other words, our attitude and our disposition enables us to go from what is good to what is pleasing and perfect; to go from good, to better, and to best; to not settle for less, to always strive to grow from the abundance of what God has and what God wants to give.

In order for us to do this, we have to have the right attitude, Mary’s attitude; the openness, the receptivity, docility that comes from surrender and humility and trust, and obedience. That’s the attitude that allows our souls to be cultivated and fertilized in order to bear fruit, and one that is so important for the conversion of heart. Saint Paul says that from conversion comes transformation, “an incessant moving forward.”

What you think when you hear that – an incessant moving forward? That excites and encourages me. In other words, God never becomes stale. God never becomes boring. Other things can become boring, but God doesn’t become boring. An incessant moving forward means what one great mystical theologian calls, the mystical evolution, an ongoing transformation, an incessant going forward.

According to St. Paul, we go ‘from glory to glory, from strength to strength.’ We’re always in a state of growth. In other words, ‘I don’t want to stay in the same stage of spiritual life for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be like the Israelites, going in circles for 40 years before going into the Promised Land. I want to be always growing in my relationship with God, knowing how God is alive in me and expresses Himself in my life. I always want to be growing in that love story and ongoing maturity,’ as St. Paul says, ‘to the extent of the full stature of Christ.’

What’s the full stature of Christ? Transfiguration, resurrection – that’s our destiny. When we see Christ risen and transfigured, it’s not only who He is in His divinity, but it’s who we are called to be, for we have been given a share into adoption through grace; that’s who we are in our deepest self, and that’s how we have to always be, in a state of moving forward and allowing God to come to fruition in us.

According to Pope Francis, “This liberating exodus toward Christ and our brothers and sisters also represents the way for us to fully understand our common humanity.” To hear and answer the Lord’s call is not a private and completely personal matter fraught with momentary emotion; it’s much deeper than that. Rather, it is “a specific, real, and total commitment which embraces the whole of our existence and sets it at the service of the growth of God’s kingdom.” Finally Pope Francis says, “the Christian vocation, [is] rooted in the contemplation of the father’s heart” – that’s his preface, but that’s so important.

Our first vocation is to worship God, to worship the Lord because that’s what the reality of heaven is. It is the festival, the fiesta, the celebration of worship, the exaltation, the human being fully alive in the glory of God. The Christian vocation rooted in the contemplation of the Father’s heart inspires us to solidarity in bringing liberation to our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest.

Pope Francis adds, “A disciple of Jesus has a heart open to His unlimited horizons.” We must allow our hearts to be open to Jesus’s limited unlimited horizons. This is what I hope and trust that the Lord Jesus is going to manifest to you according to your receptivity. According to your openness to His unlimited horizons, He will pour out His heart to yours.

Our exodus is up to us, but what makes us open? Faith and hope. As St. Therese says, confidence in His merciful love. If we have a little confidence, we’ll get a little from Him, but if you have unlimited confidence in the unlimited horizon of His heart you will receive a whole lot. May we be open to enlarge our hearts to God’s heart, and to gaze upon His face that me may receive an outpouring of his grace, in Jesus’s divine, most merciful, and most holy name, Amen.

SOURCE: Consecrated Life Retreat, New Mexico 2016, transcribed by Teresa Linda, ocds

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD


Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Easter Exodus of Love 3

Requiem for Syria by Khaled Akil www.khaledakil.com

The Holy Father writes, “Hearing and following the voice of Christ, the Good Shepherd, means letting ourselves be attracted and guided by Him.” John Paul II would use charmed by Jesus. Have you ever felt that way before? If you haven’t that’s alright, and if you have, I hope and pray in the Holy Spirit that Jesus is going to charm your socks off; that He is going to charm you, and woo you, and school you in what it means to be loved by Him because His love is the cause of our joy.

Mary always wants to communicate, what it means to be loved by God. Our Blessed Mother blows me away. No human being, ever before or during or after, could possibly ever love God as much as Mary did. Nobody could love God as much as Mary did and does. There’s no heart ever that loved God as much as she. There’s nothing, there’s no heart more beautiful than hers. Mary is the most beautiful human being imaginable, and as the cause of our joy, she wants us to enter into that beauty.

Mary’s mission of charity is that we enter into the beauty of what it means to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and especially to know His love for us; to know how God loves us with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength; to let ourselves be attracted and charmed by Him, guided by Him.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to draw us into this missionary dynamism, as Pope Francis says. I hope he just totally speaks to your heart because he’s a total missionary of charity in spirit. He’s a big-time missionary of charity in spirit. Everything he preaches is like St. Francis and St. Mother Teresa boiled down. He speaks to the culture in the way the culture needs to hear the words of the gospel, in a way that we can have an openness to hear, as if for the first time, and not think that we’ve heard it all before. He’s a perfectly chosen prophet and pontiff, by the Holy Spirit, for our time.

I totally believe in him; I have total confidence in him. Some more orthodox, traditional Catholics say, “I don’t know about him, he’s a little bit too unpredictable.” They would’ve said the same thing about Jesus of Nazareth. “He’s mad! He’s crazy! He doesn’t do anything! He breaks the Sabbath!” – just like the Pharisees.

Pope Francis says, “To offer one’s life to enter into the missionary dynamism is possible only if you’re able to leave ourselves behind.” It is very he hard to leave ourselves behind. Similarly, Jesus says, “unless you deny yourself, you shall not save yourself or find yourself. If you desire to follow me, deny yourself and pick up your cross. Those who want to save their lives will lose it.” This language can sometimes go a little bit over our heads, and we don’t quite understand it at face value. But basically, Pope Francis speaks truth in the way a common person can understand: Mission is possible only if we leave ourselves behind.

He adds, “Belief means transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego.” Can good people have inflexible egos? Yes, they can! Very much! Good people can have inflexible egos. Can religious and consecrated people have inflexible egos? Oh yes!

It’s in human nature, and we have to get out of that. It’s part of conversion “in order to center our life in Jesus Christ,” as Pope Francis says. There are radical fundamentalist anti-Catholic Christians who call the pope the antichrist. You have to wonder, have they ever read anything that the pope has written? He is always talking about Christ. How can he be the antichrist? This prejudice and fundamentalism is ridiculous. Talk about the inflexibility of ego. I know I’m on a tangent, but it’s awful to accuse the Pope of being anti-Christ when He is always proclaiming Christ.

You’ll come across the different ideas people might have towards Catholicism in your ministry. We can’t be intimidated by that. One of the big parts of being a missionary is having courage. To not be afraid of what’s behind the door, whether people understand us or accept us or not, and to know how to brush the dust off our feet.

Pope Francis continues, that in order to center our life in Christ, and leave ourselves behind, we must be profoundly rooted in love. “The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, de-centering us [from being self-centered].” He quotes Pope Benedict the XVIth, and explains that this love triggers “an ongoing exodus of the closed, inward looking self, to its liberation, through self giving, and thus toward authentic self-discovery, and indeed the discovery of God.” This quote, one of my favorites from Pope Benedict the XVIth, comes from his first encyclical, God is Love. Pope Francis is just part of that continuum of the Holy Spirit, the continuity of truth from one pope to another. The same spirit of God is leading. (to be continued)

SOURCE: Consecrated Life Retreat, New Mexico 2016, transcribed by Teresa Linda, ocds

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD

Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Easter Exodus of Love 2

Photo Credit: my nephew, Dominic Scott

The church in Ephesus had lost their first love, even though they practiced so many other valiant virtues in being faithful to God. They persevered, they endured persecution, they were totally traditional and faithful to the teaching, and they were hard-working. They were doing good things, but they had lost their passion. They lost the fire, they lost the zeal, there was no fervor anymore and so the Lord says to them, ‘I have one thing against you. You have lost the love of your youth, your first love.’

In speaking to religious, Pope Francis spoke on Good Shepherd Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and the whole theme of his talk was exodus as an icon, as encapsulating vocation. I want to draw from what he says. In speaking of exodus, Pope Francis draws us to the Old Testament as referring to the origins of the amazing love story between God and his people.

Our faith, our religion as current Catholic Christians is first and foremost a love affair, a love story with God. It is not all about rules, it’s about God transforming us into Himself, who is love itself. Of course transformation will involve rules and obligations because there can be no true love without responsibility. There can be no love without sacrifice, self-giving trust, and vulnerability, risk, a gift of self, a going out beyond yourself. Our religion as Catholic Christians is about this divine romance, this exchange between God and His people, this covenant. It is not something that we’ve invented, but rather, we’ve discovered it. God has revealed it. He’s unveiled the mystery of His purpose of our identity and destiny.

Our religion is not meant to be a burden, but to set us free to be who we’re meant to be. The world does not get that. The spirit of the world has it in reverse; it does not understand and sees our freedom through an opposite lens. But only love is credible; only love can get past all the filters of people’s misconceptions, of people’s prejudices – simply by acts of love. That’s why your vocation is so precious, important, and prophetic because you don’t have to preach a single word. By your very example, God can preach through you.

Pope Francis says, “The exodus is the origins of the amazing love story between God and his people, a history which passes through the dramatic period of slavery in Egypt and the calling of Moses, the experience of liberation and journey toward the Promised Land. All those things are not only historical but also symbolic of the spiritual life.” The Holy Father goes on to speak a little bit about that symbolism. He says we too need to have to pass from the slavery of the old Adam, or our own selves. Perhaps there was a time in our lives when maybe we were little bit more worldly-minded, when our values and priorities, and our mentality or faith weren’t the same.

This exodus experience to new life in Christ, is one of going to the Promised Land, to live our true purpose in what it means to become the person we’re supposed to be in God’s eyes, in his image. This exodus is an event in redemption which takes place through faith. According to the Holy Father,“This Passover is a genuine exodus. It is the journey of each Christian soul and the entire Church, the decisive turning of our lives toward the Father.”

The decisive turning – those words imply a conviction and a choice, a conviction in the heart and choice, an action that has been made. That conviction of the heart and the choice of life, that turnaround is what the gospel refers to as metanoia. That turning around is a conversion.

Ultimately, Exodus is a conversion, a becoming of the best version of ourselves, becoming who we’re created to be, becoming who are meant to be in God’s Divine Mercy. It is a decisive turning of our lives towards the Father, and I would like to add to that, a decisive turning of our lives toward the mystery of Easter.

What captures for me the beautiful mystery of Easter is not simply Jesus risen but Jesus’s radiance through his wounds because His encounters with the apostles were very specifically, encountering them in their weakness. Jesus as the eternal high priest expressed His sympathy with their weakness and by His wounds, He healed their weakness and brought out power. Light comes out of darkness – a new creation out of chaos, victory out of the cross, triumph out of tragedy. This is the mystery of Easter. How do we experience that in us? How do we see that in our lives? Because it will happen; that’s how God works. Jesus brings us into renewed vitality through the pattern of His Paschal mystery – through His suffering, and dying, and rising again. (to be continued)

SOURCE: Consecrated Life Retreat, New Mexico 2016, transcribed by Teresa Linda, ocds

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD


May Carmelite Events

  1. Friday, May 12 – Deadline to register for  the 100th Year FATIMA Pilgrimage (Portugal, Spain, France and Italy) led by two beloved Carmelite Friars, one very seasoned, 30-year Friar, Fr. Jan Lundberg, OCD, presently Uganda’s Mission Postulant Formator. The second Friar is soon to be Fr. Augustine Sunday, OCD (July 8th Priestly Ordination in Mission Uganda). Click here for registration information.

2) May 5-7, Vocations Vigil, Santa Clara Monastery(Click on the image for more information)

2) Saturday, May 21, 1 -5 PM. Mount Saint Joseph’s Monastery – Auction to support the vocations for Discalced Carmelite Fathers,  Club Auto Sport,  San Jose, CA. For more information contact Mount Saint Joseph Monastery (408) 251-1361. You can listen to a vocation story here, by Brother Mathhias.



Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Easter Exodus of Love 1

Photo Credit: my nephew, Dominic Scott

This Easter season, I want to touch on the exodus, the ongoing rekindling of our first love. The theme of our first love is so important, in order for us to remain fervent, in order for us to not to lose the fire of desire for God, to have a hunger for God’s holiness; to want him with passion, to be passionate about God in His love for us.

That first love is paramount, it’s so crucial because as St. Paul says, we can do all that we’re called to do, we can do so many things out of generosity, and practice many different types of virtues with God’s help; we can spend ourselves and exhaust ourselves doing, doing, and doing, but if we’ve lost our first love we’ve lost everything. If we’ve lost our passion we’ve become slaves.

We’re just doing because we have to and because were supposed to. As servants of God, we have to be on guard against that spirit of slavery. St. Paul says we’re called to be slaves of righteousness for sanctification, but that’s not meant to be a burden, a bondage, a heaviness, or a frustration. It’s supposed to be the opposite – it’s freedom. To be a slave through self-denial is meant to produce the fruit of freedom. If we are doing it in the right spirit, the spirit of love, the spirit of a child of God, who becomes a slave of righteousness, not because they have to, but because they want to, then there is freedom.

That’s not always easy to preserve. We can start off that way but as we all know, with the facts of life, with interpersonal relationships and human nature being what it is, the daily inconveniences and challenges, we could lose that spark after a while. We always have to go back to the source; we always have to go back to the heart, to the fountain- our first love.

Why am I here? Why did I let God choose this for me? Why did I let myself get into this? We have to go back to our first love and discover the gift in our consent. This relationship is not a curse, but a blessing, and I need to keep that blessing beautiful and fresh that I may be the face of mercy for others. Otherwise, I could become a whole different kind of face. If we don’t process it, we transmit it. If you don’t work through it, it’ll come out eventually. It’ll come out. The whole purpose of why we have prayer specifically set apart for us in the day is because that’s our special time to be able to draw near to the fountain of God’s love, the living water, daily – especially in the Blessed Sacrament. We must always draw back to that fountain.

SOURCE: Consecrated Life Retreat, New Mexico 2016, transcribed by Teresa Linda, ocds

Copyright 2017, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD