HOMILY for the 5th Sunday of Lent (B)  

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ps 50; Heb 5:7-9; John 12:20-33

preached for the Guides & Scouts of Europe in Scotland by Fr. Lawrence Lew OP

The Liturgy changes its mood in these days, and the focus shifts to the Cross. St Luke says: “When the days drew near for [Jesus] to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). So now, two weeks before Easter, the days when Christ will be lifted up on the Cross draws near. We call this time, which focuses on the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation, Passion-tide. And we know it is Passiontide because it is our custom to veil the images of the Cross and the saints in our churches until the Sacred Triduum. We ‘fast’ from the image of the Crucified Lord, which can become too familiar to us, so that when the Cross is unveiled again on Good Friday it makes a stronger impact on us. And so, now in Passiontide, with Jesus, we set our faces also to go to Jerusalem with him. This is one of the powerful signs of celebrating Mass in this way where we all stand together to face the Altar and Cross. Together, we have turned towards Jerusalem, towards the place of Christ’s sacrifice; we are turned to face the Lord altogether.

This symbol of a common direction, of being orientated towards the Lord is something we Explorers will be used to. The international symbol of the our movement is itself about going in the right direction towards a common destination; it shows the Way. For the fleur-de-lys, which was found on the compass and on maps, pointed to the North; on our Baussant, and on the Cross we wear on our uniforms it points upwards. So it reminds us of where we must face in our lives: not just to Jerusalem and the Cross, but beyond that, to the Resurrection and eternal life. So, we’re headed towards Christ, who is the true North Star, who gives us direction when we are lost. And with him, and with Our Lady – whose symbol is the fleur-de-lys – we’re headed upwards towards heaven, towards “that Camp of rest and joy where [Christ] has pitched [His] tent and ours for Eternity.”

Every Explorer is called to lead the way, and show others the way to God. And, as our Chief Explorer, Jesus has really led the way; he is the Way. He has gone before all humanity and marked out the way that leads Man to heaven. So, we must follow his way and walk along the path he has trodden. That path is the Way of the Cross: it is way of humility, service, and love. As the letter to the Hebrews says, “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb 5:8). So you and I, my dear Explorers, will also need to learn to serve, learn to humbly obey, learn to love. As we heard in the Gospel: “If any one serves me, he must follow me.” So, we will follow Jesus’ own way, his example of perfect love.

Do you want to do this? Do you want to learn to love like Jesus? Do you want to follow him? Because if you want to you must be brave and ready to swim against the current. Our commitment as Explorers will require us, firstly, to go against our own desires. It will mean sacrificing the things we like — even good things, such as sleep, or playing on our computers or mobile devices, or other activities. It will mean turning our backs on comfort and conveniences and laziness. But if we learn this virtue of self-sacrifice, then we will be following Jesus our Chief; we will be learning to love like he does. But if we do this, then we will also be going against the current of a world that is alien territory for us. It’s a challenging world because humility, service, and love is not very fashionable in our world, even though people talk a lot about these.

But you, Explorers, will learn how to cope with the difficulties of life outdoors in nature; the hardship of camping and the wilderness. So, you will also learn how to survive in the wilderness of the world, how to do the hard work of defending your Faith and to stay always loyal to Christ our Chief, how to follow him, even to the Cross!

This is what we should keep in mind when we hear Jesus say today: “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:25). Now, we must be careful to understand this properly. The word ‘hate’ is a translation of a Hebrew idea that means, “love less, prefer less.” So, we’re called as followers of Christ to be willing to give up those things we love in life — our comforts and conveniences and the easier ways — and to walk in Christ’s Way. And we do this, we sacrifice and serve and obey, because we want to gain something greater. We follow Jesus’ way for the sake of eternal life; for the sake of being a true friend to others; for the sake of honouring the Promise we made.

And maybe this frightens you a little. The temptation is always great, when we’re afraid, to run away. But remember, Jesus says: “Where I am, there shall my servant be also” (Jn 12:26). In other words, God is with us; we are in Jesus’ Patrol! And so, we know, don’t we, that the strong protects the weak. So, Jesus, the Strong One of God, is always protecting and helping you and me. You may think you’re only little — our Patrol is only small, and there are few of us. But don’t worry, don’t be afraid. If you ever feel frightened or worried remember that fretting about something will not help; being anxious and worried doesn’t solve the problem or change anything. What we should do, if we’re worried, is to pray. Jesus reminds us today that a grain of wheat if it is buried in the ground bears much fruit (Jn 12:24). And a grain of wheat is small, not very much, just like you and me. But if we offer what little we have to God, if we give what we can with love and sacrifice, if we want to be faithful to our Promise, then God will do great things with us; his grace will make us fruitful. So, dear Explorers, don’t be afraid, and don’t worry – turn to the Lord!

Turn to your Chief in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. He is the grain of wheat that has risen and borne much fruit. With his Body and Blood, he will console us, and strengthen us. And the Eucharist is planted in us to to raise us up from our anxieties and fears, to fill us with God’s presence so that we can be fruitful — we bear the fruit of joy and hope in our hearts. So, let us always turn to the Lord and face him. He looks upon us with love and he calls us to be with him for ever, to be his friend. This is what it means to be a good and genuine Explorer. We will have honoured our Promise to serve God and one another, and so God the Father honours us with his friendship (cf Jn 12:26). Nothing in this world could be better than this.

Profile: Our Lady of Mount Carmel FNE, Colorado  

Please read about our brothers and sisters in the Rocky Mountains!

Group Leader: Nicholas Trandem, info(at)olmcexplorers(dot)org
Group Name: Our Lady of Mount Carmel FNE Group
Patroness: Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Group Colors: Navy Blue and Silver
Web Site: www.olmcexplorers.org

Our Lady of Mount Carmel:
We chose Our Lady of Mount Carmel because our home parish is Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Littleton, Colorado. We have witnessed her strong and miraculous intercession in the herculean effort of building our new parish church, and we place ourselves under her protection.

Navy Blue and Silver:
We gave the boys freedom to suggest colors for the group, and the two finalists were Marian colors — brown and gold for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and navy blue and silver for Our Lady in general. Our boys have a great love of Our Lady — one of the first decisions of their chiefs two years ago away to pray the Holy Rosary at the first troop meeting every month!

Q. What sections will you be offering on start-up?
We will have a full complement of sections — Timber Wolves, Explorers, Wayfarers, and Otters — for the boys, and we expect to start very soon with at least one section — an Explorer company — for the girls.

The boys’ Explorer Troop will start with two patrols, the Coyote Patrol, whose patron is Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati; and the Mountain Lion Patrol, whose patron is St. Louis IX, King of France.

Q. How did you hear about FNE and why did you choose to join?
I have had an abiding interest in Lord Baden-Powell’s educational method and its implementation in a Catholic context, and I’ve known about FSE and FNE for several years. Father Jackson, our pastor, has been to the Chartres pilgrimage four times, and each time he has been very impressed by the FSE youth participating in the pilgrimage. We were looking for a solid, established Catholic program for the youth of our parish and beyond (our group includes families from 10+ parishes of the Archdiocese of Denver and the local Byzantine Catholic parish). FNE and FSE have a proven track record of forming good Catholics through traditional methods, and have the materials and support to enable our leaders to bring that program to our youth. We’re very excited to be part of such an awesome organization!

FNE comes to Colorado!  

Our Lady of Mount Carmel gives the scapular to St. Simon Stock

Our Lady of Mount Carmel gives the scapular to St. Simon Stock

Please welcome Colorado to the FNE family! By order of our general commissioner, we are happy to announce the formation of a new group in the great Rocky Mountains. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel FNE with sections for boys and girls is now forming in the Denver/Littleton area. You can find their facebook page at: facebook.com/olmcexplorers and web page at www.olmcexplorers.org. Email them at info@olmcexplorers.org for more information. Semper Parati, and welcome to our new brothers and sisters in Colorado!

UPDATE: Please read more about Our Lady of Mount Carmel FNE Group.

FNE Explorers media mentions  

Dear FNE friends and family,

We recently were mentioned in two articles in Regina Magazine‘s February 2015 issue, “Amazing Parishes.” Two parishes with FNE groups were profiled:

In “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day,” we find a profile of the North Star Group’s home parish, Mater Ecclesiae in southern New Jersey:

What activities do you offer at the parish?

Father Pasley: We have a very active Music apostolate: a Mass schola and a full choir directed by our Music Director, Mr. Nicholas Beck and we are forming a Divine office schola. We have a full homeschool based CCD Program for preschool through High School, a Blessed Imelda society for our girls, the altar servers guild for the boys and men. We are the first parish in the United States to form a chapter of the Federation of North American Explorers. We have an active theatre society which performs a dinner theatre every year, an active Knights of Columbus Assembly. We have a book club and instructions for converts as well as various social committees for parish parties and affairs.

In another article in the same issue, “The Parish in Oklahoma’s Oil Fields,” we find a profile of St. Damien of Molokai Church near Oklahoma City, the home parish of our Morning Star Group:

One new addition to Saint Damien’s is the Federation of North American Explorers (FNE).  According to parishioner Evy Brown, “The purpose of the Federation of North-American Explorers is to save souls. The FNE is a formation movement helping children to live out their Catholic faith through hands-on experiences and to serve with passion. The adult leadership is made up purely of volunteers who seek to serve the youth. Morning Star FNE debuted at St. Damien of Molokai in May of 2014 with an astounding 35 members, and is currently at 47.”

To learn more about the Federation of North-American Explorers, please visit our national web site at www.fneexplorers.com, and contact our general commissioner Paul Ritchi at info@fneexplorers.com with any questions.

To learn more about our North Star Group in southern New Jersey, USA, visit our web site at www.northstarexplorers.org, and contact group leader Christopher Hasson at akela(at)northstarexplorers(dot)org.

To learn more about our Morning Star Group in Oklahoma, USA, visit their Facebook page, and contact group leader Robert Brown at morningstarfne(at)gmail(dot)com.

North Star FNE 2015 Winter Camp  

The North Star Group of the Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE) held its first winter camp for its boys’ units (1st St. John Neumann Timber Wolf Den and 1st St. John Neumann Explorer Troop) on Super Bowl weekend (Friday, January 30 – Sunday, February 1). Joining us for this historic (from our point of view, anyway) event were our brothers from Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE in West Virginia – 1st St. John Berchmans Timber Wolf Den and 1st St. John Berchmans Explorer Troop (read more about St. John Berchmans – the patron saint of altar servers – here).

These four units, which together made for three sixes of Timber Wolves, and three Explorer patrols, camped in Belleplain State Forest in southern New Jersey. The Timber Wolves stayed at the group cabin by the East Creek pond, while the Explorers camped at the more rustic lean-tos on the shores of Lake Nummy.

It was cold!

An Explorer shows us one reason why we should not leave our gear outside overnight

It was cold!

It was really cold on Saturday

Holy Mass on Saturday morning

Our FNE national religious adviser, Fr. Piotr Narkewicz, came and celebrated Holy Mass for us

Honor guard during Holy Mass

An Explorer with the baussant of our movement serving as honor guard during Holy Mass

Timber Wolves, Explorers, and Leaders

Timber Wolves, Explorers, and Leaders after Holy Mass – East Creek Cabin in Belleplain State Forest

Learning some basic engineering principles?

Indoor activity – it was cold! – Timber Wolves use their ingenuity to build a structure out of nothing but paper strong enough to hold up a brick

Thinking outside the box

Even taller! But it looks like these boys might have had some assistance from Rikki-tikki-tavi.

An Explorer smiles and whistles under all difficulties

Mongoose Patrol’s Chief not daunted by the cold weather

Timber Wolves on a hike

Timber Wolves on a hike! Here they are listening to a meditation on the Presentation from the pen of Fr. Sevin

Divine Liturgy

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Millville was kind enough to host us

East Creek Pond

The dock at East Creek Pond. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but much of it was frozen over. Did I mention that it was cold?

Email group leader Christopher Hasson at akela(at)northstarexplorers(dot)org for more information on our North Star FNE group located in southern New Jersey.

Click here to read more about Our Lady of the Annunciation FNE in Charles Town, West Virginia. Email group leader Terry Schau at schauterry(at)gmail.com for more information.

Click here to read more about our Federation of North-American Explorers movement. We are the North American (Canada, United States, and Mexico) member association of the UIGSE-FSE, a Catholic scouting association approved by the Holy See. Email our general commissioner Paul Ritchi at info@fneexplorers.com for more information.

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