Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction

The following is a story about tradition by Sr. Jose Hobday. Born in Texas, USA, to a Seneca-Iroquois mother and a Southern Baptist father, Sister Jose Hobday was a Seneca elder and a Sister of the Franciscan Order. She brought her ministry to truck stops and prisons in the poorest diocese in the United States

When we were born, we got a special birth gift. Dad made us each a little leather pouch, our own little medicine bag. It was something learned from mom, who was a Seneca Iroquois. Mom put 2 things into it, and so did dad. We were to put it in our own special place. When old enough to understand, we were told what was in it. One thing mom put in was a pinch of Texas earth. She also kept a piece of my umbilical cord that she had dried and then joined it to the Texas soil. They were to remind me that I came from the earth and out of my parents, and so, I was to be always dependent on the soil and my family.

Dad put a bird feather in our bags. He burned a small part of the feather and mixed it with mom’s things. The birds are of the sky, and so they soared the heights to the horizon and beyond. This meant we were to soar, find out own place in the world and go there. None of us ever were told what else dad put in our bags. It represented the unknown, the mystery of life.

To have a mystery set before me like this early in life proved a big help when I began to work with the mysteries in my life that came along later. It also helped me to understand that God is the center of all mystery. I still have my bag, and it has shown me the importance of making symbols that tie us to places, people and God.

(Adapted from “The Medicine Bag,” A World of Stories for preachers and teachers, William Bausch, pg.)

There is no greater mystery in Catholicism than that of the Trinity. It baffles all preachers and teachers, and it can only be preached or taught through analogies or metaphors. The Bible is God’s medicine bag for us all. It connects us to the earth and to God.

Father, Son, and Spirit, they’re three and they’re one, and there’s no way to explain the Trinity. If we play 3 keys on a piano separately, we hear 3 distinct notes. If we play the three all at once, we hear only one sound; it’s called a chord. Three candles have separate flames when lit. Join them and we have only one flame, and the original 3 are indistinguishable from each other. Thus, God is relational: three persons separately, but one God, who delights in seeing us relating as they do.

We believe that we’re made in God’s image and likeness. We are most like God when we relate as God does, and God relates only in love. We’re most human and divine when we show love for each other. If God would ask: “How’s your love life,” how would we answer?

Father Mark