February 18, 2018
For Lent, the Church gives us almost a slogan—Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving—as the three things we need to work on during the season. It’s a time of prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread out over 40 days. As we pray, we go on a journey, one that hopefully brings us closer to Christ and leaves us changed by the encounter with him. It’s a time to fast. With the fasts of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, meat-less Fridays, and our personal disciplines interspersed, Lent is the only time many Catholics these days actually fast. And maybe that’s why it gets all the attention. “What are you giving up for Lent? Hotdogs? Beer? Jelly beans?”
It’s almost a game for some of us, but fasting is actually a form of penance, which helps us turn away from sin and toward Christ. It’s about dying to yourself. The more serious side of Lenten discipline is that it’s about more than self-control – it’s about finding aspects of yourself that are less than Christ-like and letting them die. The suffering and death of Christ are foremost on our minds during Lent, and we join in these mysteries by suffering, dying with Christ and being resurrected in a purified form. Lent reminds us of our weakness. Of course, even when we set simple goals for ourselves during Lent, we still have trouble keeping them. When we fast, we realize we’re all just one meal away from hunger. In both cases, Lent shows us our weakness. This can be painful, but recognizing how helpless we are makes us seek God’s help with renewed urgency and sincerity. Reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we should be renewed in our compassion for others.
New Year 2018
December 31, 2017
The end of one year and the beginning of another is usually a time to look back to what has been and to look forward to what can be. I want to take this opportunity to thank God and all of you for your love, support and prayers. Know that I love and pray for everyone of you. It is a privilege for me to serve you. Many thanks for your gifts, money and cards you have given to me. I am so grateful. May God continue to bless everyone of you. A new year always brings new possibilities, and our church, like each of us individually, continues to listen for the ways God is calling us into these possibilities. May we be open to God’s call on our lives, and I look forward to continuing the journey with you. Many blessings to you in 2018! Together, may we grow in strength and grace to know and celebrate together God’s presence in our lives . Happy New Year! May 2018 be a blessed year for all! May we be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
Third Sunday of Advent
December 16, 2017
Gaudete Sunday :
What if we were told that the Christ whom we have heard so much about, and whom we are waiting for, is already here in our midst as one of us? What possible difference would that make?
I recall a story that can help us understand this question a little better. A certain monastery discovered that it was going through a crisis. Some of the monks had left, there were no new candidates joining, and people were no longer coming for prayer and spiritual direction as they used to. The few monks that remained were becoming old, bitter, and depressed. Even the relationships between the monks were becoming stressed and unkind. The Abbot had heard about a holy man, a hermit, living alone in the woods and decided to consult with him regarding their problem. The Abbot told the hermit how the monastery had dwindled and diminished and now looked like a skeleton of what it used to be. Only seven old monks remained. The hermit told the Abbott that he had a secret for him. He informed the Abbott that one of the monks now living in his monastery was actually the messiah, but he was living in such a way that no one could recognize him. With this revelation, the Abbott went back to his monastery, summand a community meeting and recounted what the holy hermit had told him. The aging monks looked at each other in unbelief, trying to discern who among them could be the Christ.
• Could it be Brother Mark who prays all the time! But has a “Holier-than-thou” attitude?
• Could it be Brother Joseph who is always willing to help? But who is always eating and drinking and can’t fast.
The Abbott reminded them that the messiah had adopted some bad habits as a way of camouflaging his real identity. This only made them more confused and they could not make any headway figuring out who was the Christ amongst them. At the end of the meeting what each of the monks knew for sure was that any of the monks, excluding himself, could be the Christ. From that day, the monks began to treat one another with greater respect and humility, knowing that the person they were speaking to could be the very Christ. They began to show more love for one another, their community life became more brotherly, and their prayers more fervent. Slowly people began to take notice of the new spirit in the monastery and began coming back for retreats and spiritual direction. Word began to spread and before long candidates began to show up and the monastery began to grow again in numbers as the monks grew in zeal and holiness. All this because a man of God drew their attention to the truth that Christ was living in their midst as one of them, actually, that Christ was present in all of them.
As Catholics, baptized and confirmed, we have the spirit of Christ within us. And through the Holy Eucharist, we have the true body and blood of Christ physically united with our bodies. The source of all Love and Joy resides within each and every one of us.
How can we Not be joyful knowing this!
But to rejoice, it also takes Faith.
Many of us are experiencing tough times, have lost jobs, are enduring hardships, personal losses, and what appears as insurmountable obstacles. And yet we are to shine as Joyful witnesses. So hearing this...just how do we approach life when so much around us seems troubled? We are to have faith! Faith that everything in life, good and bad, has a purpose, and that purpose will be used to help us grow in virtue and holiness. Faith also directs our attitudes. Even the severe hardships and trials have a purpose and are used by God for what really is important in life.... Our preparation for eternal life in heaven.
We really do have much to be joyful about! As Catholics, we have gained access into a holy family and a relationship with God. We have been given this family here at Church and in our community. We have been given the opportunity for everlasting life and the assurance that we are loved and will be eternally cared for. Let us look for and see the holiness in each other. Let us honor and respect each other knowing that Christ lives within all of us. Through our example, let us be that voice crying out in the desert and show the world the Joy that radiates through us. Let our faith radiate the truth, that no matter what trial, obstacle, or discomfort comes upon us, we deeply know that Christ is present, and that he will come again offering an eternal life of joy, love, and peace for those who truly embrace him. This is the source of our Joy and our focus here today, on Gaudete Sunday!