Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Down to the River to Pray

Posted: June 11th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

This morning we left the little town of Bethlehem and headed down to the Jordan River to the site where John was baptizing. I must say that this was quite a highlight for me as this spot has only recently been opened to pilgrims. Since the Jordan River is also the international boundary between Jordan and the West Bank it is a very controlled military area. I was not allowed to go to this most special site 5 years ago. I felt very close to my patron at this site that is truly “in the wilderness.”

Shawn the Baptist at the Jordan River
Shawn the Baptist at the Jordan River 

While at the baptism site, we recalled how this was also the place where the Israelites crossed over into the Promised Land. What an important boundary this little bit of water is. It marks the crossing from the wilderness to the land of promise as well as the crossing from death to life in baptism. Just as the Israelites had to renew their covenant with God after crossing the river, so we too renewed our baptismal promises. It was a very special moment that gave us all a new sense of purpose and commitment.

Renewal of Baptismal Promises
Fr. Brian Helps Us Renew Our Baptismal Promises
Note His Fancy Apergillium

Leaving the Jordan River we entered the oldest city in the world, Jericho. It has been continuously inhabited for at least 10,000 years. It is also the lowest city on earth by elevation. The main highlight of our visit here was to make the climb up to the Temptation Monastery. It is built right into the side of the cliff overlooking Jericho. It marks the spot where Jesus spent his 40 days and nights being tempted by the devil. It was very hot and we all certainly got our exercise. Even though you ride a cable car most of the way up, there are still 200 stairs to climb. While there, Mike reminded us that the key to overcoming temptation is to be committed to meditation. We cannot overcome temptation on our own, but by remaining in union with God, he will deliver us from the test.

Temptation Monastery Cable Car Up From Jericho Monastery Chapel
Mt. of the Temptation Monastery

Our final trek was north to the Galilee where will be spending the next three days. It was so wonderful to see the Sea of Galilee again. We are actually staying inside the walls at the Church of the Beatitudes on top of the mountain overlooking the sea. You might doubt the location of some places in the Holy Land, but there is no doubt that the Sea of Galilee is still right where it was 2000 years ago.

The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee 

We ended our day by celebrating Mass outside the front of the church as it was much too warm inside. I got to give the homily and it just so happened that today’s Gospel from Mass was on the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew. You can’t ask for a more obvious blessing of Divine Providence. It was wonderful to read and preach on these 9 keys to be blessed right in the place where Jesus spoke these words. We are truly blessed. We don’t have to wait for heaven to be blessed, but we are blessed right here and now, even if our circumstances might seem otherwise. I pray all of you at home enjoy a blessed day.

Our Mass at Church of the Beatitudes
Our Mass at the Church of the Beatitudes

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Starting at the Beginning

Posted: June 10th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today was our first full day in the Holy Land and it has indeed been “full.” We began by traveling to the hill country of Judah, just as Mary did to visit her cousin Elizabeth. How appropriate that we as pilgrims begin at the same spot to which Mary went as a pilgrim 2000 years ago. Mary brought Jesus to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaped for joy. I pray that Mary will also help us encounter Jesus over the next days.

 Church of the Visitation
Church of the Visitation

After visiting the Church of the Visitation which contains the well where Mary and Elizabeth met, we went across the street to the Birthplace of John the Baptist. I got the opportunity to lead a reflection on the life of this great saint. I focused particularly on the prayer of Zechariah and how we was able to place the birth of John in the perfect context of salvation history. I pray that the Holy Land will help us all to experience the great physical context in which the stories of the Bible take place. It is so important that we know our story.

Birthplace of John the Baptist
Birthplace of John the Baptist 

We then moved on to one of the highlights of any pilgrimage to the Holy Land; we visited the Church of the Nativity and reverenced the birthplace of Jesus. I was wonderful to be able to celebrate Mass in St. Catherine’s Church on the site and then to visit the cave where Jesus was born. For Mass we celebrated the Mass of Christmas as every day is Christmas here in Bethlehem. I was particularly moved by the places in the Missal where the texts had been slightly changed, often adding the word “HERE” in many places to emphasize that the events spoken of at that first Christmas are all true and they took place right “HERE.”

Birthplace of Jesus
Birthplace of Jesus 

After all the busyness of Manger Square and the rest of the city of Bethlehem, we headed slightly outside of town to one of my favorite places in Bethlehem, the Shepherd’s Fields. These are the same fields where the shepherds first received the news of our Savior’s birth. Unlike when I was here previously in the winter, today there were many sheep out in the fields. It was very peaceful and wonderful to imagine the multitude of angels that would have filled the sky one special night 2000 years ago.

The Shepherds' Fields
The Shepherds’ Fields 

As the star marking the place of the Savior’s birth reminds us, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ Was Born.” What a blessing to be present “here” for this special time. Tomorrow we’re off to Galilee.

Star Marking Birthplace of Jesus
Star Marking Birthplace of Jesus 

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Up to Jerusalem

Posted: June 9th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Welcome to Israel

We made it! The rest of the group arrived earlier and are waiting for us at the hotel in Bethlehem. We are currently on the bus from the airport going “Up to Jerusalem.” The Scriptures always speak of going “up” to Jerusalem because it is located on top of a mountain.

Bethlehem is only about 4 miles to the south of Jerusalem, so we are going “up” just as Jesus and the apostles did. Of course Jesus never had a nice air conditioned bus, but other than that we’re just like Jesus.

Now, we’re looking forward to dinner and some rest. Tomorrow we set out for the site of the Visitation. Thanks for all the prayers. Praise God, we are here.

15 Hours and 22 Minutes

Posted: June 9th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

New York

Here’s a happy picture of New York from the way in this afternoon. Unfortunately, it looks much darker now, but I’m still looking at New York. We’ve been having a maintenance issue with the plane and we’ve already fixed it once and then come back. It looks like we should go soon.

If someone told you the flight to the Holy Land was 15 hours instead of 10, people would still go. You could just look at this as 4 to 5 hours of the smoothest flight imaginable. No turbulence on the ground!

Tomorrow…make that “today”…in Jerusalem, er Bethlehem. You get it. Just pray. We know it will turn out for the best.

10 Hours and 22 Minutes

Posted: June 8th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

After a 5 hour layover in New York we are just about ready to get on the plane to Tel Aviv. We’re just 10 hours and 22 minutes away. You can follow our flight in real time at the link below. No blogging over the Atlantic…sorry. Tomorrow, in Jerusalem! (well, Bethlehem actually).

Flight Aware JFK to Tel Aviv

And We’re Off

Posted: June 8th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Goodbye KCI

Greetings pilgrims! We’re all pilgrims of course, but special greetings from 86 of us on our way to the Holy Land. It’s high noon and we’re currently 37,000 feet high on our way to New York. I will be your official blogger and electronic tour guide. I look forward to bringing everyone back home a little closer to the holy places and proving a bit of a journal to reminisce after our return home. My camera and iPad are at your service. Feel free to interact by leaving comments and letting me know if you have any questions or want pictures/video of anything in particular.

Here’s some live flight info for you:

Flight Info

Homily 213 – Holy Trinity

Posted: June 3rd, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Our God Is a Family

God is love. We hear that a lot, but somehow it seems like we need more than just that line. Augustine famously described the love of God as a communion of love that necessarily had to involve more than one person. Lover, beloved, and love are the titles he used. This can help us understand a bit more about the Trinity.

Blessed Pope John Paul II took the understanding of Augustine regarding the Trinity and applied especially to the family. Our God is not a solitary God, but rather a family of persons. We on earth are called to image this love in our families. This is why the Church takes marriage so seriously. Our families are a most precious gift by which can come to know a little bit more about the love of God, even if we do it imperfectly here due to sin. May God bless all families in the mission to be a reflection of the love of the Trinity.

Homily 212 – Pentecost

Posted: May 27th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

What Drives You?

In today’s first reading, the Holy Spirit is described as a “strong driving wind.” We’re all familiar here in Kansas with just how powerful the wind can be. It can literally push you…or your house…over. On Pentecost, the Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit was a force like this. If we look at our lives, what drives us? Is it the Holy Spirit? Perhaps we’re driven by a lot of the things that St. Paul mentions in our second reading…immorality, lust and the like.

The Holy Spirit is also described as being fire. Fire can be destructive but also purifying. If we are driven more by the spirit of the world than the Holy Spirit, then maybe we could use a little purification from the Spirit. Renewing the face of the earth is a big task, but it starts on person at a time. Don’t be afraid to unlock the doors and let the Holy Spirit start driving.

My Coat of Arms

Posted: May 24th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Coat of Arms

Today is the 4th anniversary of my ordination as a priest. In honor of this occasion, I received a rather unique gift. Some of my parishioners commissioned an artist to design a coat of arms for me. While Popes and bishops are required to make use of arms, it is optional for the rest of the clergy. Like bishops, however, there are official rules for how a priest’s coat of arms are designed. The primary symbol is the black hat (galero) with the two tassels.

For the elements on the shield (called “charges”) I worked with the artist to create something meaningful and that people might recognize as belonging to me. My first thought was of course to honor my patron St. John the Baptist. For this I thought of a river. It just so happens that the coat of arms for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has a river. I therefore decided to borrow the symbols from the archdiocesan arms. This is especially fitting since the tower by the river represents Ft. Leavenworth and I was born in Leavenworth.

The tower in my arms therefore evokes my place of birth, but also primarily the Church. Notice that the way to enter is through the gate with a keystone and 12 smaller stones. The defense of the top of the tower is marked by 4 large stones representing the 4 evangelists. Notice also that one must cross the river (baptism) to enter the church (through Jesus and the apostles). The strong tower by the river could also signify St. John standing strongly by the river and the tower is also often used as an image of Our Lady.

Those who know me will have no difficulty with the thuribles. I love the Sacred Liturgy and don’t mind some Holy Smoke every now and then. Together they represent Divine Worship and our prayer rising up to God, as well as liturgy in general.

Finally, the motto underneath is the famous line of St. Philip to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (Ostende Nobis Patrem). St. Philip is my secondary patron and the saint who put the “P” in Shawn P. Tunink. I love St. Philip’s request because when he finally gets up the courage to ask Jesus for exactly what he wants, the thing he most wants is to see God, the beatific vision. Now, Jesus kind of had to correct him a little bit, but I like that too. It shows humility and that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what we want, even if we don’t get it perfectly right.

The motto also expresses a prayer for a renewal of fatherhood in our world. More than ever today we need strong and holy fathers. There is truly only one Father, Our Father in heaven. If I, or any other man, am to be called father, it must be my mission to show others “The Father.”

The official description (called a blazon) and explanation follow. Much thanks to Fr. Guy Selvester for his great talent in designing these arms and to my parishioners for a perfect anniversary gift.

 

Blazon and Explanation

of the

Armorial Bearings of

Rev. Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

 

BLAZON: Gules between two thuribles Or with smoke emanating from them Argent, a tower embattled with an open portal composed of twelve stones and a capstone Or; in base a barrulet wavy Argent.

EXPLANATION: The armorial bearings of Fr. Shawn P. Tunink reflect the local Church to which he belongs, his baptismal patrons, and his love of the Sacred Liturgy. The field is colored red; a color often associated with Divinity and with the Holy Spirit as a way of expressing the desire that all the endeavors undertaken by this armiger have God at their source. The gold tower is symbolic of the Church. Its open gate is composed of a keystone and 12 smaller stones signifying Jesus and the 12 apostles. The river below the tower, which one must cross to enter, alludes to Baptism and the bearer’s primary patron, St. John the Baptist. The tower and the river together are borrowed from the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas in which the bearer is incardinated as a priest. Therein the tower and the river represent Fort Leavenworth, the bearer’s place of birth, and the Missouri River. The two smoking thuribles, evoke the incense used in divine worship as a sign of our prayers rising up to God and being pleasing in His presence, and allude to the bearer’s love of prayer and the Church’s Sacred Liturgy.

The shield is ensigned with the black galero of a priest, with black cords terminating in two black tassels in accord with the ancient custom of the Church and the decrees of the Holy See. The motto appears below the shield on a scroll saying, “Ostende Nobis Patrem” (show us the Father). This phrase, uttered by St. Philip, expresses the desire to see God and is very meaningful to the bearer as St. Philip is his secondary baptismal patron.

The armorial bearings of Fr. Shawn P. Tunink were designed and emblazoned by the Very Rev. Guy W. Selvester, a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, NJ.

Homily 211 – Ascension of the Lord

Posted: May 20th, 2012, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Heavenly Help for a Universal Mission

When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not abandon his apostles. Rather he becomes present in a new and even more powerful way. The divine assistance he gives from heaven will be all the more necessary considering the mission he has given them. He tells them to go to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel. Their mission is the make the Church “universal” or, in the Greek, Catholic. Today the Church does exist even to the ends of the world. We must carry out this same mission. The good news is that we are not alone. Jesus is with us as well.