We have seen the Lord!!!

IMG_53703rd Sunday of Easter, 2017 ~ I must decrease…

Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10

So Jesus went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and give it to them, but vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

are you sure+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

None of us recognize Jesus at first. We are usually caught up in our narrow vision. It’s like texting while driving and not seeing how much harm we can cause because we were so focused on our immediate emotional gratification. We don’t see those we harm because we focus on our own fears, pain or broken relationships. However, when we accept Jesus calling us foolish, then we are on our way to burning hearts of love within. We will see while the world around us remains in darkness.

Jesus is all around us, but we are distracted with our phones, pads, addictions and fears. It will take a severe power outage or satellite crash to get our attention. I remember when I was in Puerto Rico in 1996. This was before my life was enslaved to a cell phone (we didn’t have them). A hurricane was forecast. I was on the base, but was sent home because they thought the coast was clear. In fact the worst side slammed us. I lived on the bottom of a two-story house on the side of a hill. My bed was levitating and all power had gone out. When the morning came, there was quite a bit of devastation and my friends had to rescue me. But there was the most profound silence that opened me to the whisper of God. There was no TV or telephone so I was open.

For two weeks, there was no power and no sound of electricity. I could hear a car coming miles away if it could get by the debris. It was wonderful and hot and sticky. I loved it. I prayed, I sang and found myself sleeping better. My prayer was my food.

I wonder what it sounded like when Jesus broke the bread in Emmaus? O Beloved, God is alive. We are already living in heaven. Remember what he said to Martha at the death of her brother. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me and dies, will live. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Have we a chance to even be open to Jesus walking with us, or will be in the middle of a television show or text or internet? Mother Teresa of Calcutta shared a prayer with us. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace. While they two were sharing about what happened in the breaking of bread, Jesus came into the room with locked doors and said, “Peace be with you!” They were very startled. Jesus might startle us a number of times. (Stay with Us!)

Jesus asks a few questions of us today. How will you answer these questions?:

“What are you discussing along the way?”

“What are you hungry for? What are you thirsty for?”

“What sort of things stop you or distract you from this mission of God?”

Let us be prepared for Jesus to call us foolish. If they had recognized Jesus, he wouldn’t have walked with them on that day. Jesus comes when we don’t recognize him. Wasn’t it a really great day?

Jesus was recognized in the breaking of the bread because they saw the wounds in his hands as he broke the bread. His power was unleashed.

If the power goes out around you, simply allow the power with in you to kick on. Those two ran back to Jerusalem seven miles without any streetlights. The Light was within them burning brightly. They had incredible energy to walk over 14 miles in one day. Jesus is the Power of the world, the Prince of peace. Let us rejoice and be glad.

I am so glad that Jesus has called me a fool, because it woke me up to a joy I cannot contain. “I have seen the Lord!”

So God made a better way

When the moment was right he sent his own Son

And he opened the way so that everyone

Could have hope and believe that when time was done

He’d be able to make us one

 

Now I understand that there is a key

It’s Jesus in me a reality

That God is in Christ, and that Christ’s in me

That with faith I see what is unseen.

 

To hear with my heart, to see with my soul

To be guided by a hand I cannot hold

To trust in a way that I cannot see

That’s what faith must be!!!!

(Lyrics and song by Michael Card)

Have you seen the Lord?!!!

The best Easter ever!

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow…. Gospel according to St. Matthew 28:1-10

The Magi who came seeking the Messiah were overjoyed at seeing the star of Jesus, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Women who came to the tomb seeking Jesus the crucified were not expecting an angel with the appearance of lightning. After seeing the angel of the Lord, the women went away from the empty tomb fearful yet overjoyed. But then Jesus greeted them as they ran. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage like the Magi did. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of humility, surrender and love. Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.”

Here I was in Fallujah, Iraq on Christmas night 2004, I was exhausted, beat up and depleted. I had celebrated about 19 Masses in three days. It was rainy and cold with broken glass all around me. A 19 year old Marine on lookout was unable to receive communion and asked for me to bring Jesus to him. I almost said no, but here I was. He was fearful yet overjoyed at seeing me with the Eucharist. We didn’t know that the battle was over. My homily was the same for every Mass and Communion service. “If this is not the best Christmas ever, then something is wrong.” The Marine looked at me from the mud, death and broken glass as if I was crazy. Even though I truly believed that every day living and believing in Jesus makes it the best ever, my hope was frail and despair was building. My joy was on life-support.

This young Marine reverently opened his grimy hands to receive the Body of Christ. I thought of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes in the crèche and on the cross. As I began to sing O Holy Night, which is really an Easter hymn of resurrection, the Marine sang louder and louder in an operatic voice. Could the whole world hear this Marine? With our eyes closed, tears streamed down my face and soul. I was no longer afraid. When I opened my eyes and saw the Marine radiant with face awash in tears, he gave me a smile and simply said, “Yep, Padre, this is truly the best Christmas ever!” We had approached Jesus, embraced his feet, and did him homage. We offered him gifts of innocents lost, broken minds, and love. Jesus simply said, “Do not be afraid! Tell my brothers and sisters the Good News! You will see me in the Eucharist!” And now today is the day that springs from the best Christmas ever. It must truly be the best Easter Ever…

Some people are still trapped in the rubble of life and some, like you, with the help of God, are raised from the rubble and rebuilt with strength, courage and patient hope. We have the choice, will we step out of the tomb new and renewed, resurrected in our lives, or will we be tempted to return to the tomb with our same old perspective, and, like shackles, take them again into our life’s experience?

This is the atmosphere of the tomb, but Jesus wants to instead, open the way of life, the way of joy and the way to lasting peace. The light has conquered darkness; hosanna to God in the highest!  ( Check out the short video clip which will inspire)

Best Easter Ever

I pray for each and everyone of us that we might be filled up, filled up with the joy of salvation, filled up with the joy of justice, filled up with the joy of the Sunday experience so that our lives speak something, so that our lives mean something, so that our lives have a purpose, so that our lives have an impact. Jesus is the light that comes into our world, his words echo through the Gospels, may we remain young as they also echo in our lives fully alive with strength, courage, wonder, awe and hope, as Good News.

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Passing on the Torch of Compassion

We can only hope to give the best care possible to our heroes and heroines.

When medicine has gone to its limits

Or sometimes even beyond

In the compassionate care of the providers

It is then that the

Spiritual dimension of the human person

Shifts into high gear

It was already there, this spiritual dimension

Even in her denial

But at the moment of pain that escapes

the morphine

and encouraging words

and even tears of the soul…

that is when your RMT

Religious Ministry Team

facilitates the

Faith or lack thereof…

Within the indomitable

mysterious

wholly incredible

person

human being

and spirit

To save

That source and summit

Beyond death

And yet below, that is attainable

As I have witnessed

And borne with gratitude and trepidation

When a son or daughter of our nation is close to breathing no more,

Or even after the breath has been stolen away,

It is then that we ask their final wish and receive

their final statement

In the timeless moment before departure

stripped of all earthly desire…

life runs dry.

A chaplain records and witnesses this miracle of death

And the RMT can teach the Medical Team to provide likewise.

Let us journey with great love, hope, and humility.

Let us celebrate the hours and days and minutes

that will transform and transfigure

our wounded, dead, and their families forever!

AMEN.

We can only imagine what our kind acts, our compassion, our love, and our skills will create in eternity.

We can only imagine.

Chaplain Ron Moses Camarda +

Camp Fallujah, Iraq

February 24, 2005

Tear in the Desert

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Last night I watched in great horror and disbelief when our president evoked a standing ovation for the widow of a Navy Seal who was killed in an operation that was deeply flawed. It didn’t seem like it was done out of compassion, but to make him look like he is doing a great job as our president. Most notable is that the father of that sailor is estranged from the president who hasn’t shown any respect for the loss of his son. The father held that Navy Seal when he was a baby. He was proud of him. He is probably mourning the many civilians and children who were also killed in that raid. Our safety as a nation can’t be bought with the deaths of millions of displaced people. People who make arms and weapons profited from that fiasco. Where are the prophets?

Where are the chaplains and commanding officers who know this is not the way to go? When I was in Iraq, I knew that my most difficult task would be to comfort the families and friends of those who died in my arms or whose bodies I received from the battlefield. As a priest, there are times when I need to be quiet while those mourning the death of their loved ones pounded my chest. That is the Cross and that is the fast that God requires or desires. To feel hopeless at such loss.

I do pray for President Donald Trump, but I still believe that Jesus is trying to break through his stony heart. I am trying not to judge, but Jesus does give me permission to observe the fruit. “You will know them by their fruit.” So when I think of our leaders of our country (including the media, congress, lobbyists and military industrial complex), I see people trying to profit at the expense of bearing the fruit of love, joy and peace.

Think of anyone you are supporting and see whether they have any of these fruits of the Holy Spirit…

LOVE

JOY

PEACE

PATIENCE

KINDNESS

GENTLENESS

GENEROSITY

SELF-CONTROL

PURITY

FAITHFULNESS

These are more important than the Ten Commandments, because this fruit is what rules and laws are aiming for. This is what decreases the need for government; when people love one another. I have a long way to go, but at least I believe I am bearing some of this fruit.

For Ash Wednesday and Lent, I speaking out against hate that is often masked behind self-righteousness and hypocrisy. Of course, I am beginning with myself. It is not easy, but the peace, love and joy that rises in my heart is worth the fasting and sacrifice.

Love, joy, peace,

Ron Moses +

The fruit of silence is prayer

the fruit of prayer is faith

the fruit of faith is love

the fruit of love is service

the fruit of service is peace…

I prayed this prayer of Mother Teresa many times as the soldier, marine or sailor died.

 

Home for the Holy Days!

Seven years ago, I was in Iraq for the last week of the Battle for Fallujah. It was the week before Christmas when all through the desert, the troops were all longing for a house safe and still. How could we even imagine that this would be the best Christmas ever when we had no way of getting home for the holidays, for we were thousands of miles away from all that we loved?

The last U.S. troops convoyed out of Iraq and into Kuwait yesterday. The Army battalion that I said Mass for in the desert were the ones closing the gate and thus ending this almost nine-year war. There is no jubilation. But there is a sense of peace. Over 4,500 U.S. troops gave their lives. Over 200,000 Iraqi citizens lost their lives. What did we accomplish? Who profited from this fog of war? Who is still paying for the sins of our society?

These are really tough questions that I reckon have no easy or short answer. Each of us must evaluate the part we play in the wars of the world and within our families. If we truly want peace in our lives we must first be peaceful persons in our own hearts. Then we must be peaceful in our families and communities. We cannot give what we do not have. We can’t “give” democracy and peace to another country if we haven’t achieved it in our own country. It has been over 150 years since our Civil War, and yet we still have not discovered a true peace. We still bristle and balk over our unresolved issues of equality, civil rights and bi-partisan issues that seem to be the real root of our discontent and violence.

I would like to share with you just one of the amazing reflections from a book I am reviewing for the Military Writers’ Society of America. The book, Faith Deployed…Again (More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives) is composed by Jocelyn Green and 25 contributing authors from every branch of the U. S. military. Many of us agreed to the war in Iraq at first because we believed it would make our house safe. Even though Jesus, Mary and Joseph did not have a house at his birth, they did find a “home for the Holy Night of Birth.” Consider what Leeana Tankersley writes:

Safe House
God makes homes for the homeless
Psalm 68: The Message

I UNDERESTIMATED THE GRIEF I would experience when I moved home from the Middle East. We received orders back to my hometown, and I naively assumed I would be able to jump back into life with relatively little transition. I was blindsided when reeling feelings of loneliness arrived.
Back home, everyone’s life had changed while we were gone—including my own—and I felt like I was trying to jump into a game of double Dutch.
What really threw me was how isolated I felt. In Bahrain, I only had a few close friends, but somehow that felt like plenty. Back home, I was surrounded by hundreds of people I had practically grown up with, and yet I rarely felt known or understood.
Of course, everyone wanted to know, “How was Bahrain?” But every time I tried to put my experiences into words, I’d feel these unwelcome tears rising and I’d search for words. How could I ever express the breadth and depth of this strange place that had shaped me so significantly?
What is more painful than feeling like you don’t belong? Especially when what you thought was home turns out to be the most foreign place of all?
Scripture contains countless stories of those who were exiled, plagued with the gnawing sense of being foreign, wondering where they fit. The story of God is a story of reconciliation, belonging, and homemaking. In fact, isn’t that the central narrative of Scripture: Once we were not a people, but now we are a people (1 Peter 2:10)?
If you are feeling homeless today—whether you have returned home and it no longer seems to fit you, you have left home and you are lost in a sea of strangers, or you have no idea where home is anymore—don’t lose hope. God makes homes for the homeless.
Rarely does He build to our measurements, expectations, or time frames. In fact, God’s shelter for us can come in all shapes and sizes.
Shortly after we returned home from Bahrain, I happened onto a group of women who took me in. We have spent the last five years listening to each other’s lives, being a sacred shelter to each other. We make a point to listen instead of advise, pray instead of preach, hope instead of judge. Somewhere in the alchemy of validation and love, a sense of belonging has been forged.
Slowly, this group has become the hands and feet of God in my life, a place of belonging and comfort for me—a home.
May God be building a safe house for you, even today.

Ask
Do I have people in my life I can trust?
Am I willing to reach out to them when I need support?

Pray
God, please build me a home. May I find the enduring shelter of safe individuals around me, and may I be brave enough to live in the warmth and protection they provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To learn more, please visit http://www.FaithDeployed.com
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O Beloved, there truly is no place like home for the holy days. We are all called home to be with our true family. Our Mother will again wrap her baby in swaddling clothes and lay him in a stinking manger because there is no room for him in the many beautifully decorated homes for the holidays. I realized where my true home was back on a dreary, rainy and cold Christmas day when I was in a war torn country where Abraham almost sacrificed his son, Isaac.
After preaching at about 19 Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services among the troops that “this has to be the best Christmas ever”, I no longer believed it. But when I reluctantly trudged up the 5 flights of stairs to the 19 year old Marine who wanted Communion on Christmas, life seemed cruel and empty to me. Then I placed my a vulnerable Jesus into the battle scarred and filthy hands of this young man who probably struggled in his faith also. Like Mother Mary, I basically wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in a stinking manger. When the Marine began to sing O Holy Night louder and more beautifully than I could, I knew I was truly home for all eternity.


Gratitude and love filled my being. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for all peoples. For today in the City of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Beloved. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!”

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So my Beloved, let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us. Let us enter into our very own hearts and journey into our hearts to our home. Christ Mass is where we will find our eternal home…Today!

Merry and Joyous Christmas!
Let us pray that all people of all nations will find their Way Home!
Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

Living Veterans

Even though November is the month when we remember those who have died, there is something to be said about the living. Memorial Day is when we remember all Veterans whom have died. On the other hand, Veterans Day (November 11) is a time to remember and honor all Veterans who live after serving, precisely because they have lived.

Once a veteran, always a veteran. All veterans take an oath similar to a marriage covenant. Divorces or annulments of their status as a veteran are almost unheard of. In fact many veterans are the fiercest fighters for the end of all wars and for abiding peace, precisely because they are committed to protecting their beloved country against all enemies foreign or domestic. (even if the enemy is within our souls)

“I, a Veteran of the United States of America, promise to be faithful to you, My Beloved Country, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will honor and love you all the days of my life.”

Lately I have been struggling with my next book, TEAR IN MY SOUL, which is an attempt to discover the truth and flesh of our souls. I have journeyed and written in my journals since I graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy over 30 years ago. I have written about that sacred time just before death of hundreds of people. That is probably the reason that all the doors opened for me to be called to serve with the Marines in Iraq against all odds. God knew I would be a great witness to these astonishing living moments before death. I have been doing it most of my life.

Susi Pittman raises and attempts to answer the question about whether animals are in heaven. In the weeks and maybe months ahead, I thought it would be worth sharing about people I believe are in Heaven. I have loved them all and I truly don’t believe that I could ever outdo God in compassion and love. Hang on as we take this incredible journey together to discover a tear or two in our souls if we glimpse a loved one in heaven.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, this story comes from my time as a parochial vicar at St. Catherine’s in Orange Park. I had been called to lead a funeral service for a Veteran who wasn’t attached to any particular church. Who am I to judge?

Maurice

What do I know about Maurice except that he died August 3, 1998?
Maurice was a sailor and soldier, a husband, father, brother, grandfather and son.
He lived 76 years
He must have been a friend and an acquaintance
The sea is magical and peaceful
I know the touch of a sunrise or sunset at the core of my being
Those who sail on the seas or deploy know the longing,
for the source of the breathless celestial transits,
for the mystery of the loneliness
the desire for loved ones
the need for home
even when home is somewhat broken
Veterans know the camaraderie of a troop or battalion or ship
the fall of a shipmate or death of a buddy
All these are part of living
If we always waited for the trip, voyage or deployment to end or the hump to cease,
we may never live the life we were given
If our only goal in life were to make it
to Eagle Scout or Scout Master or CEO,
how empty would be the journey?
the adventure?
the voyage of eternity?
Maurice, Dad, Granddad, Friend…
We will meet you in the moments,
the breaking of our hearts

and in the remembering of the voyage
Sail on!
March on!
Right on!

God bless our Veterans. Let’s pray for lasting peace only Jesus can give us. After the Battles of Gethsemane, Golgotha and Death, Jesus stood before us even though the doors were locked and said, “Peace be with you.” And then he showed them his hands and sides. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced? He said it again, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive each other’s sins, they are forgiven. If you hold them bound, then they will remain bound.”

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

Seven Years since the Battle of Fallujah

I guess I have been quite negligent in this blog.

Here I am on the 7th anniversary of being in the Battle for Fallujah.
My view of life is different.
It has been tough.
It has been wonderful.
It has been a long journey.
Since I last posted, much has happened. June 2011, I was elected the State Chaplain of the VFW for Florida.
This past weekend I went to the Fall Meeting in West Palm Beach.

What I realized is that the Veterans of Foreign Wars must someday close their doors. This will only be accomplished if we don’t participate in any more wars overseas. I truly do desire for World Peace. WE MUST BE PEACEFUL first in our own families.
Can you imagine the joy if 100 years from now we would no longer need an association of war veterans? It would be a celebration.
No more Tears!
This is my dream and hope.
Just imagine!
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron

Imagine World Peace