Preparation day for the Easter Vigil has always been a hubbub of activity. This was a much quieter affair with two deacons and three faithful Marian Sisters. The Bishop will be here tonight for The Vigil. No Baptisms, but all seven readings. I Hope the elect do not need to wait until next year
This is the night wrapped in wondrous mystery when Jesus gave us the precious gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. This is the night Jesus made his apostles priests of the new covenant to share this gift with the whole world. The priesthood of Jesus Christ is a tremendous mystery, an extraordinary gift that is held in earthen vessels. He, who was made flesh for our salvation, has entrusted weak human flesh with the gifts of heaven, the Holy Word of God to be shared with all, and the Most Sacred Eucharist, his very flesh and blood given for the life of the world.
It is God who always takes the lowest place. In a world drunk on its own power, with tyrants and kings in the Middle East who enact violence against their own people, and Presidents and Governors and judges in our country where the dignity and preciousness of human life is in doubt or dispute, it is for us to rejoice in the majesty of the living God who takes flesh in the silence of a young girl's womb in a town far from the centers of the world's power, who makes himself fully present in the smallest piece of bread, and who kneels down, taking the form of a slave whose task is to wash your feet.
He did not call the great and powerful. He calls weak and inadequate men that he might be, in us, present, present to all men and women, and to act for them on his behalf. Pope Benedict call this God's bravery; he gives himself to human beings. He is conscious of our faults and our weaknesses, yet still considers men capable of acting and being present in his stead – this audacity of God is the "true grandeur concealed in the word 'priesthood'". That God thinks that we are capable of this; that in this way he calls men to his service and thus from within binds himself to his priests, and to his people.
For me, this is my 29th year as a priest of Jesus Christ. And each year I have a greater appreciation of the magnitude of his gift. As that appreciation increases, so also increases the knowledge of my own unworthiness. But this also increases the conviction that our lives must be centered in him. There is no greater encounter than to know Christ Jesus, to spend time with him and learn from him. For St. Gaspar del Bufalo the glory of the priesthood was to apply the grace, to make present the gift of the life-giving precious blood, both in the mercy poured from his side in the sacrament of Confession, and the gift of his body and blood in the Most Holy Eucharist.
This is not a re-enactment, or a celebration of some past memory. We are not simply passing on a story. This is not merely a moral exhortation or an example of service; we are not encumbered by the limits of time and space: In the mystery of God's time, it is Jesus Christ himself who on this night washes your feet and breaks the bread. In the past year as my own family struggled with the mystery of life and death, on a human level it simply appeared as a brother and sister. But at one moment I was able to turn to Kathy and say, "Jesus is here. He has come to bring you home" as I was able to give her communion for the very last time and anoint her with the precious and sacred oil. And as she lifted her hand to make the sign of the cross, in her weakness the very presence of Jesus Christ was palpable.
This figure was a gift to us from St. Augustine: By ourselves we have no power to live, subject as we are to death and decay. In his majesty as God, he did not have in himself the power to die. So, we enter into the sacred mystery of a marvelous exchange. Though he was in the form of God, it was not equality with God that he exploited for our sake, but he humbled himself and took the form of a slave. In this marvelous exchange, he who did not have the power to die would die for us, so that we who did not have the power to live, might live in him.
How then can we fail to give honor and glory to his name? How then can we fail to raise our voices in adoration and praise? How then can we fail to treat this most wonderful sacrament with the greatest of reverence and respect?
So in these strange days, these holiest days of the year, we keep the feast. We attend to the sacred mysteries. We listen to his word and listen to him.
That may mean making some extra time for prayer, sitting quietly with the Lord in the Eucharist As Pope Benedict said during his visit to New York in 2008, we do not need to be "afraid of silence."
This is not any day. It is a day filled with silence. There is no blessing or dismissal. We have not finished. We have begun. On this night the tradition is for absolute silence. In the silence we can focus. We can listen. We can attend to his voice. Rest here in silence, adoring his presence.
Give your time to him. God is never outdone in generosity.
This is the night wrapped in wondrous mystery when Jesus gave us his most precious gifts. If we give him our attention in a special way during these holy days, he will give us everything we need; He will give us himself.
This is the chapel for the Newman Center at Sonoma State University. I was made Chaplain there in June 2019. There have bee some good things that happened there with some major interruptions. First was the fires in Sonoma County that shut the school, and now it is this pandemic that brought everything to a halt.
The renovation project is not finished. There are a few items that remain, not the least of which is the floor. And sadly, regular Masses are not held in the chapel now because of the Corona-virus quarantine. But you can begin to see the beauty that will take hold in the old space. Instead of a garage that is used to say Mass, we now have a chapel that is deigned for the heavenly worship. Donations are greatly appreciated for this project.
Death is a moment in time, not in Eternity
Francis Walton Keyes
April 2, 1920 ----April 2, 2020
Deceased July 10, 1976
Happy 100th Birthday
(Photo: from Roman Missal dated 1644)
So, there is this young woman in a far-off place. Not in the centers of power, certainly not in Rome. Insignificant, unknown; who knew her? She was not known by anybody outside her village, but this is where God visited. She recognized the words, “Do not be afraid” –this is what God had said to Abraham, to Joshua, to Daniel. She had heard the echo throughout the centuries: God was building a house. She did not realize it was going to be her. When we think of God building His own house, that God said to David, “I will build a house,” we are thinking of a huge temple even bigger than St. Peter’s; we are thinking of grandeur. But this is where God came –Mary.
Ahaz thought he knew better than God. We all have expectations.
God will take the smallest place. The smallest crumb, the place in the universe that no one expects
We celebrate the day that God turns the world up side down. It is in Mary and through Mary that the situation of humanity and of the world has been reversed, and we have in some way re-entered into the splendor of the first creation. Mary is the instrument that links Jesus to the human race. God visits earth, comes to us where we are, and raises our humanity now to an incomparable dignity.
The greatest events, human or divine, takes place in absolute silence. The world does not notice or pay attention. The invitation comes from a messenger of God and God's Word takes flesh in the assent of a young girl.
There is nothing to prevent us from doing the will of God. No human deficiency can ever prevent us from doing God's will. Here I am, she says, I come to do your will. We gather in wonder and awe, also like St. Gaspar to fall in love with God's will. For him, her "yes" becomes the aqueduct, the font of all the graces of living water flowing to us in the sacraments.
- How does the world avoid noticing God's will?
- How do I show love for the will of God?
- When was the last time I said, “I am the servant of the Lord?”
My homily for a small group of sisters when public masses are suspended. This is recorded at Regina Pacis Convent, the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa.
Sermon, at the Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form, Cathedral of St. Eugene, Santa Rosa, CA
It isn't everyday that a well known author reads your book and comments on it. But that is what happened. If you have not read "The Father's Son" by Jim Sano then you are missing a real treat. So I sent him my book, and this is what he said about it:
I recently finished reading Father Jeffrey Keyes' book, "Rad to Trad: A Journey to the Extraordinary." The book itself has a beautiful cover and great photos throughout, but it was the story of a faithful and reverent priest that was what I enjoyed most. It was wonderful to get a glimpse into the life and perspective of a priest over the past several decades of his vocation. I enjoyed learning about Fr. Keyes’ gift and love for music and sharing that gift as part of his vocation. The most profound gift that I will take from this personal story was an insight and appreciation for the great mystery of the celebration of the Mass. I feel as if he opened the door a crack to raise my awareness and pique my curiosity to more fully appreciate this mystery. That is the gift I will be taking the time to get closer to this Lenten season and going forward in my own faith journey. Thank you for writing this book, for sharing your journey, and for keeping the focus on Christ. A great book that I could not put down and will go back and read again. Jim Sano
At that time, Jesus taking to Himself the Twelve said to them, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that have been written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and scourged and spit upon; and after they have scourged Him, they will put Him to death; and on the third day He will rise again. And they understood none of these things and this saying was hidden from them, neither did they get to know the things that were being said. Now it came to pass as He drew near to Jericho, that a certain blind man was sitting by the wayside, begging; but hearing a crowd passing by, he inquired what this might be. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! And they who went in front angrily tried to silence him. But he cried out all the louder, Son of David, have mercy on me! Then Jesus stopped and commanded that he should be brought to Him. And when he drew near, He asked him, saying, What would you have Me do for you? And he said, Lord, that I may see. And Jesus said to him, Receive your sight, your faith has saved you. And at once he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people upon seeing it gave praise to God.
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
Burying the Alleluia
Sacristy Art I
Sacristy Art II
Sacristy Art III
Sacristy Art IV
Sacristy Art V
Sacristy Art VI
Years in Review
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.