Luke Live – A Paulist Mission!

Luke-Live

The first Paulist priest that we met — at least knowingly — was Fr. James DiLuzio.  Fr. James performs a mission called “Luke Live” which is built around a recitation (from memory) of the book of Luke along with popular songs and an invitation to personal reflection.

Our pastor, Fr. Clarence, invited Fr. James to bring his mission to St. Rose two years ago.  This was a few months after Evan had told us of his discernment toward the priesthood and, specifically, the Paulists.  We jumped at the opportunity to meet Fr. James and to get to know him.

He’s a great example of the Paulist charism, using his talents as a performer (his resume includes SAG/AFTRA membership) and storyteller to make the Gospel of Luke meaningful and personal.  Interspersed with the performance, he walks his audiences through a series of exercises designed to bring deeper understanding of the scripture.

We’ve attend the past two years and are looking forward to attending this year’s presentation.  It’s difficult to capture in words, the feeling of refreshment and spiritual nourishment that we’ve gotten from attending Luke Live.

If you’re in the area — or in any of the areas that Fr. James will be visiting — it’s worth your time to attend this mission.

I’ll leave you with a press release describing the mission in a bit more detail and with the hope that you’ll be able to attend Luke Live some day.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Live Gospel Proclamation to Return to Davis County Parish

Layton, Utah — January 5, 2014

Residents of northern Utah will have the opportunity to hear parts of the Gospel of Luke proclaimed live, from memory, along with Broadway-style singing and guided reflections.  Paulist Fr. James DiLuzio from New York will offer the presentation on February 3, 4 and 5 with sessions at 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. at St. Rose of Lima parish in Layton, Utah. The event is free to the public and is fitting for all ages — Families with children age 10+, teens, singles, and seniors.

The event is part of the “Luke Live” mission which is performed all over the country.  Fr. DiLuzio has committed the book of Luke to memory and performs it as a one man show, incorporating popular music along with reflections on the meaning of scripture in relation to modern life.  The performances come naturally to Fr. DiLuzio who once dreamed of becoming a professional actor and completed a masters degree in drama at the University of Southern California.

In the early 1980s, when he was working in customer service at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, DiLuzio began attending Mass at the church of St. Paul the Apostle.  He found himself drawn to the Paulist mission of evangelization through engagement.  The attraction drew him into the order and he was ordained a priest on May 8, 1993.

After serving nine years in parish and campus ministry, he wanted to find a way to integrate his dramatic training with evangelization.  Returning to the early days of the church — when the Gospels were shared from memory — he developed Luke Live.

“It’s not the kind of evangelization that says, ‘I have the truth and I am going to convince you’,” DiLuzio says.  “It’s really about sharing, about dialogue.  It’s about transforming not only the listener, but the person who is doing the sharing.”

Luke Live is ecumenical in nature, respectful of people of all faiths and creeds.  Although the majority of Fr. DiLuzio’s performances have been in Catholic parishes, this past year he was invited to share the Gospel at St. Luke’s United Methodist church in Memphis, Tennessee and his audiences have included people of many different faiths.

The program has resonated with audiences.  Speaking of a performance at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Logan, St. Rose pastor Fr. Clarence Sandoval said, “It was interesting to watch the people listen — maybe for the first time — to the Gospel, God’s Word.”  Members of other parishes who have participated have described Luke Live as “a new and exciting way of hearing the book of Luke” and “inspired and inspiring.”

This year’s presentation at St. Rose will continue the work, focusing on Luke chapters 13 through 18.  Each day of the mission will focus on two chapters with the morning and evening sessions offering the same content.  The event is free to the public.

— Dad

That’s Funny Right There!

I’m a big fan of humor.  Big fan.  Sure I love a good drama, but I’ll go out of my way for a mediocre comedy.  When it comes to Shakespeare, give me Much Ado About Nothing over Henry V any day.  (Which in no way implies that Much Ado is mediocre…just making the point that my preferences run to the funny.)

Which is why I was struck by a comment Pope Francis made in his homily on July 1.

He was preaching about the need for tenacity in prayer; the need to bring our petitions to God over and over; the need to negotiate with God.  He cited the example of Abraham asking God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

When we speak of courage we always think of apostolic courage – going out to preach the Gospel, these sort of things…But there’s also (the kind of) courage (demonstrated) before the Lord. That sense of paralysis before the Lord: going courageous before the Lord to request things. It makes you laugh a bit; this is funny because Abraham speaks with the Lord in a special way, with this courage, and one doesn’t know: is this a man who prays or is this a‘phoenician deal’ because he’s bartering the price, down, down…And he’s tenacious: from fifty he’s succeeded in lowering the price down to ten. He knew that it wasn’t possible. Only that it was right…. But with that courage, with that tenacity, he went ahead.

There.  Do you see it?  Right in the middle of the paragraph Pope Francis acknowledges the humor of the situation.

It makes you laugh a bit.

As a lector, I love being able to proclaim the reading from Genesis 18:16-33.  Abraham’s character is so vivid and outright funny.  God tells him that Sodom is toast.  Most of us would probably nod and say, “Well, they deserve it.”

Abraham doesn’t.  He starts to negotiate with God.  He starts the bargaining by asking if God really intends to sweep away the righteous with the wicked.  Then he asks

Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it?

God agrees to Abraham’s terms and Abraham — good negotiator that he is — presses further.  With a hilariously formal humility —

See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am only dust and ashes!

— he drives the bargain to 45 and then 40 and then 30 and then 20 and finally 10.  The whole story has a sort of haggling-in-the-marketplace vibe that makes me chuckle every time.

Yet, as Pope Francis points out, negotiating with God is a perfectly acceptable form of prayer.

Sometimes, the Pope said, one goes to the Lord “to ask something for someone;” one asks for a favor and then goes away. “But that,” he warned, “is not prayer,” because if “you want the Lord to bestow a grace, you have to go with courage and do what Abraham did, with that sort of tenacity.” The Pope recalled that Jesus himself tells us that we must pray as the widow with the judge, like the man who goes in the middle of the night to knock on his friend’s door. With tenacity.

In fact, he observed, Jesus himself praised the woman who tenaciously begged for the healing of her daughter. Tenacity, said the Pope, even though it’s tiring, is really “tiresome.” But this, he added, “is the attitude of prayer.” Saint Teresa, he recalled, “speaks of prayer as negotiating with the Lord” and this “is possible only when there’s familiarity with the Lord.” It is tiring, it’s true, he repeated, but “this is prayer, this is receiving a grace from God.” The Pope stressed here the same sort of reasoning that Abraham uses in his prayer: “take up the arguments, the motivations of Jesus’ own heart.”

Like all good humor, the story of Abraham’s negotiation is funny because it is true.  And it tells us something about ourselves and our world.

–Dad