May 9, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (532) Ever watchful
“God created the whole world, but He is our Father. The Father loves me, and you. The tenderness of God’s love – no one can love as God. He made us. He is our Father.” (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
An elementary school teacher recently commented how during recess teachers are constantly on watch for the safety of each student. Each and every teacher is carefully monitoring not only the children at play but also the schools’ environments. Should the need arise to protect the children, they quickly gather them and reenter the school. Her comments brought to mind our recent Gospel readings of how Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (Jn. 10:11)
Our first experiences of being watched over perhaps began with our parents. They were attentive of our activities and if they sensed danger, they would come between us and the threat that may cause us injury or a bad experience. As we matured, we were taught and shown how to protect ourselves, thus avoid the risk of hurt or harm. “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” (Jn. 10: 14-15)
Each generation is challenged and faces unique problems and or inherits issue from the previous generation. Challenges come in the form of family, work, economy, health or even housing. How we recognize and adapt to life’s challenges will determine our outlook on life. Our faith plays a vital role in us living a long and peaceful life. “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believe in me might not remain in darkness.” (Jn. 12:46)
“Don’t hold on to anything. There is nothing that you are holding onto that is safer in your hands than in God’s.” (Dr. Greg Bottaro, The Mindful Catholic)
As our model Shephard, Jesus taught and calls us to help him shepherd his flock. As he laid down his life for us, we are to know the people we work and live with. We are to be free, faithful, and loving. There is an obligation on our part, and we are to be confident that it is the right and loving thing to do. We shepherd because we want to do it. We shepherd out of heart, even when we feel powerless in challenging situations. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4)
“O God, be a companion for me along the path, a guide at crossroads, strength in my weariness, defense before dangers, shelter on the way, shade against heat, light in the darkness, a comforter in my discouragements and firmness in my intentions, in order that, through your guidance, I might arrive unscathed at the end of my journey, and enriched with graces and virtues, I might return safely to my home, filled with salutary and lasting joy.” (Fr. Dave Pivonk, T.O.R., Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus)
April 18, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (457) Stewards of the Earth
“I sing the might power of God, That made the mountains rise, That spread the flowing seas abroad, And built the lofty skies. I sing the wisdom that ordained The sun to rule the day; The moon shines full at his command, And all the stars obey. (Isaac Watts: I Sing the Mighty Power of God)
At the Easter Vigil we read from the Book of Genesis, the seven-day creation account which tells of how God said, “Let there be… and He creates the universe in which human beings, God says… “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.” (Gen. 1:26)
April 22nd is recognized as Earth Day and/or the sixth anniversary of ‘On Care for Our Common Home’. Pope Francis in his encyclical on ecology and care of God’s creation Francis quotes the canticle "LAUDATO SI', mi’ Signore” - “Praise be to you, my Lord.” by St. Francis of Assisi. “That our common home is like a sister whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.” This year’s Earth Day theme: Restore Our Common Home address how as people of faith we must urgently act to not only protect but restore God’s beautiful gift of creation.
“I sing the goodness of the Lord, That filled the earth with food; He formed the creatures with his word, And then pronounced them good. Lord, how your wonders, are displayed, Where’er I turn my eye: If I survey the ground I tread Or gaze upon the sky!” (Isaac Watts: I Sing the Mighty Power of God)
Just as God is over us, so should we be good stewards. As guardians over creation, it is our responsibility to protect families and future generations through our actions to take care of our common home. Let us not take our Earth and all its beauty for granted. Pope Francis says, we must remember that “we stand on holy ground.”
“There’s not a plant or flower below, But makes your glories known; And clouds arise and tempests blow, By order from your throne; While all that borrows life from you Is ever in your care, And every where that man can be, You God are present there.” (Isaac Watts: I Sing the Mighty Power of God)
Father, out of your communion of love, light burst forth from darkness, and life shimmers in a dazzling array of beauty. As you care for all your creatures, give me a heart to love them as you do. Let me give honor to your handiwork, by giving more than I received. Amen. (Pause + Pray)
https://www.usccb.org/offices/general-secretariat/laudato-si-care-our-common-home https://catholicclimatecovenant.org/program/earth-day http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/upload/Laudato-Si-Bulletin-Insert.pdf
April 11, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (510) ABC’s of Divine Mercy
Pope Francis marked the 90th anniversary for the “gift of mercy” of the first appearance of Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska, on February 15, 2021. Pope Francis shared “Let us ask Christ for the gift of mercy. Let it engulf us and penetrate us. Let us have the courage to come back to Jesus to meet His love and mercy in the sacraments. Let us feel His closeness and tenderness, and then we will also be more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness, and love.”
An uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, Blessed Michael Sopocko a Polish Roman Catholic priest and professor at Vilnius University, Lithuania, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s divine mercy. The message by St. Faustina Kowalska, were so inspiring that even before her death in 1938, her devotion to Jesus’ Divine Mercy began to spread.
St. Faustina’s message is simple. God loves us – all of us. God wants us to recognize that his mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon him with trust, receive his mercy, and let it flow through us and to others.
The ABC’S of Divine Mercy
A: Ask for his mercy. God wants us to approach him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking him to pour his mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B: Be merciful. God wants us to receive his mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as he does to us.
C: Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of his mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.
“visible help… on earth. He will help you to carry out My will on earth.” (Diary of St. Faustian Kowalska, 53)
A Prayer for Divine Mercy
O greatly Merciful God Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its mercy to Your mercy – to Your compassion. O God: and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out: Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles!
O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through you know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will and through our life and at death’s hour.
Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming – that day know to You alone. And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness.
For Jesus is our Hope through His merciful Heart as through an open gate, we pass through to heaven. Amen. (Diary, 1570) (Divine Mercy Novena Chaplet)
April 4, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (518) Go and Proclaim
“You are a messenger of God’s love, a living lamp that offers its light to all, and the salt of the earth. Take Jesus to the people and places that need him most today.” (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
Today we begin the celebration of the fifty-day Sunday, of the Easter season. Between now June 16th, The Ascension of the Lord the Sundays of this time of year are considered to be the Sundays of Easter. The Seventh Sunday of Easter concludes with Pentecost Sunday, June 23rd. The weekdays from the Ascension, including the Saturday before Pentecost has us preparing for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, let us proclaim with those unable to attend Mass or those who do not believe the events of the Easter Vigil as “the most desired of the year.” Let us share that death no longer overshadows life. How Jesus came to fulfill an “everlasting covenant”, so we could know the living God and be united with him both now and for all eternity. How through our baptism, into the water, buried in death we are risen to new life. Of our renunciation of sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God. The lighting of the Paschal Candle, Christ yesterday, and today; the Beginning and the End; the Alpha and the Omega.
Let us also announce how Jesus left us his mother, Mary, in the order of grace. How we are comforted by her spiritual concern and aided by her heavenly intercession. As she walked with her Son, she walks with us on our earthly pilgrimage. “Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy?” (Luis Laso del la Vega: The Story of Guadalupe)
Recall the parable the multiplication of fish, how Jesus had compassion on those who gathered and chose to feed the crowds? Sometimes Jesus can do the same with us. We are to use the gifts that were freely given to us, to declare we are not alone, we have a loving Father who shepherds us.
“Therefore, through it is God who takes the initiative of coming to dwell in the midst of men, and he is always the main architect of this plan, it is also true that he does not will to carry it out without our active participation.” – Pope Benedict XVI
“God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of Easter joy. This is the morning on which the Lord appeared to men who had begun to lose their hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold: that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend into his Father’s glorious presence.
May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of bread and follow him in his risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.” – EWTN Easter Prayer
March 28, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (538) The Call
“My aim is to bring people closer to God.” (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God – The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
Our dad had an interesting way of getting our attention when we had not called or visited him and our mother. His call: “Mi Hija, this is your Dad. (pause) Your mother and I are doing ok. Just thinking about you. We are keeping you in our prayers.” I would then hear him say to her, “I think I left a message.” (click).
Our dad’s call brings to mind how daily in life God speaks to us. “The message of Easter is that God shows up when we least expect it: a voice in the garden calling our name, a stranger on the road, a tap on the shoulder, breakfast on the beach or dinner after a long day at work. Sometimes the alleluias are quiet, but no less heartfelt for all that.” (Diane M. Houdek: The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis)
Matthew Kelly in his book “I Heard God Laugh” shares that there are four aspects of the human person: body, soul, will and intellect. We focus on our body, will and intellect and we ignore our soul. Matthew points out “You have a soul. It is literally your life force. When it leaves your body, you die. It’s time to start paying attention to your soul.”
Our soul asks the same question of where do I rank in fulfilling your spiritual needs? Feed me. In the final end – who goes to heaven, not the body, will or intellect, but the soul. It’s our ticket to heaven. Let us feed our soul with daily prayer, reconciliation and the Eucharist.
God has a plan for every single person he created. It is to our benefit for us to cooperate with his plan with great joy. Our intent is to stay on faith’s-course yet gradually we get carried off in the opposite direction. We get distracted as life has us being pulled in countless directions. We soon discover that we have drifted further and further away, are overwhelmed, become restless, and lost.
God wants to rescue, restore and heal us. He is continuously calling us, ever present just as he did for others. He is working in our life and wants to bring us to completion in the life to come. He does not only know us he has always been alongside us, in ways no human being ever could. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” – St. Augustine
Possibly we may be the one who is to make the call for Jesus. Let us reach out to someone who has stepped away from the faith or is struggling. Make the call, let them know that they are loved, that God is waiting. Share the message, “Let us begin again,” – St. Francis of Assisi
“God was, and is, always waiting. There is never a time when he is not longing for us to come to him. The invitation is ever-present. The human heart was made for God and will only be fully satisfied when in union with him.” (Fr. Dave Pivonka, T.O.R: Hiking the Camino: 500 Miles with Jesus)
March 21, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (540) “Race Ready, Race Ready”
“Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3: 13-14)
The sprint medley relay is a track and field event in which a team of four athletes compete over sprinting distances as part of a relay race. Each member of the team runs a different distance, while holding on to a baton as they run.
I heard a track Coach announce to his sprint race team ‘race ready, race ready’. His proclamation to prepare yourself, brought to mind that next week is Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, the beginning of Holy Week. Are we race ready?
Our Catholic faith can be similar to a 4x4 medley. The racetrack of life has us experiencing different challenges in life. Each team member uses their strength for the glory of God, giving their all, then hands off to their teammate to carry on the message of God’s love, goodness, and mercy for all.
1st leg - Baptism we join the Catholic Faith team. We are welcomed, handed a Bible and a bid marked with the sign of faith. “For, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and the future.” (1 Tim 4:8)
2nd leg - Old Testament – Former teammates shared their experiences of how they ran their race. Those who have gone before us daily cheer us on as we run the course and cross the finish line.
3rd leg - New Testament – Jesus Christ became our personal trainer who personally shows us ‘how to”: stay focused, call of love and service, and finishing the race.
4th leg - Crossing the Finish line. “I have competed well; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith… the crown of righteousness awaits me, … and not only to me, but all who have longed for his appearance.” (2 Tim. 4 7-8)
Our call to serve God joyfully is at hand. Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord is our call to say, “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Phil. 4:13) “Our way to repay God is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.” (St. Patrick, Confession, 3)
As we enter the fifth week of Lent we have been preparing for Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of the Lord. Are we “Race ready”? Our time of Lenten preparation is about to be put to the test as our training and studying Jesus’s program of life handbook calls us to witness and minister to all on our pilgrimage.
Let us pray “that our Lenten celebration opened our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the pascal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him. In this way we will become what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” (cf. Mt. 5:13-14) – Pope Francis, Message for Lent, 2020
March 14, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (524) My Highway to Heaven
“If we treat the Eucharist as though it were just bread and wine, we sin against Jesus, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians. Ask for God’s mercy on all the times you have “casually” received Him. And next time you are at Mass, reflect more deeply on the miracle before you. (Bob Rice: A 40-Day Spiritual Workout for Catholics)
We enter the midpoint the fourth Sunday of Lent, known as Laetare “rejoice” Sunday. If you find yourself admitting that you are in need of an expression of hope and joy in your penitential Lenten practices you are not alone. As we continue our journey with Jesus towards Holy Week take some time to reflect on the presences of the Eucharist and Mass.
“The Mass is not something that mere mortals created. Rather, it is the creation of Jesus himself.” (Fr. Eamon Tobin: A Simple Explanation of the Mass)
I was reminded about the importance of being fully present when attending Mass while watching Mass on EWTN. Reference was made about the video The Eucharistic – My Highway to Heaven by Blessed Carlos Acutis. Carlos was called the Cyber Apostle of the Eucharist in Italy. Pope Francis felt that Carlos could “transmit the Gospel, to communicate value and beauty.”
I searched the video The Eucharist - My Highway to Heaven and want to share the link as Blessed Carlo’s information is very factual and informative. http://www.miracolieucaristici.org/en/Video/video.html
The Eucharist – My Highway to Heaven addresses the topics of:
Is Jesus really in the Eucharist?
How can we be sure that the consecrated host is the Body of Christ?
Can’t we just see the Consecrated host in a symbolic way that is represented as the body of Christ?
Does Jesus only mention the Eucharist during the Last Supper?
How should the words of Jesus during the Last Supper be interpreted?
The purpose of our life.
Importance of daily contact with Christ.
How John is the beloved Disciple of Jesus.
How can we become a Beloved Disciple of Christ?
What is meant by becoming a Eucharistic soul?
Transubstantiation the Latin: the changing of substance. The difference between substance and accidents
Sacrament of Love- by St. Augustine “If material things please you then praise God for them, but turn back your love upon Him who made them.”
How can we be sure that his Jesus’s words were not just a figure of speech?
Five First Saturdays Devotion as requested by Our Lady of Fatima.
The importance of Eucharistic Adoration according to St. John Paul II.
The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy that occurred in 8th Century A.D.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means House of Bread in Hebrew, while in Arabic it means House of Meat
How the Eucharist helps to orient us towards the will of God.
The importance focusing on the receiving of the Blessed Sacrament after Communion.
First Friday of the month the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart.
How to enter intimacy with Jesus Christ.
“To see ourselves merely as spectators at Mass is to miss the opportunity to take our part in the highest action done upon earth.” (Frank Sheed: Taken from Theology for Beginners)
March 7, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (515) The Summon (592)
“Will you come and follow me If I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know And never be the same? Will you let my love be shown, Will you let my name be known, Will you let my life be grown In you and you in me?” Bell, John “The Summon”
We entered our Lenten journey being called to follow Jesus into the wilderness. He saw that our spiritual life was in need of being rekindled, that our heart was being led astray with worldly, selfishness and sin. He summoned us to spend time in fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and asking for repentance true sorrow for our sin and wrongdoing.
Today the third Sunday of Lent Jesus asks of us, “Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?” He promises us that when We Trust, We Believe and We Know him he will give us spiritual food and supernatural strength (hope, love and faith) to help us in our struggles and testing.
“Will you leave yourself behind If I but call your name? Will you care for cruel and kind And never be the same? Will you risk the hostile stare Should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer In you and me in you?” Bell, John “The Summon”
Each day that we spend in the desert preparing to celebrate the feast of Easter, Jesus Christ’s Resurrection we are being transformed. As our heart and mind is being awakened by the Holy Spirit our relationship with God our Father grows stronger. “When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete.” – Augustine of Hippo
“Will you let the blinded see – If I but call your name? Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same? Will you kiss the leper clean, And do such as this unseen, And admit to what I mean In you and you in me? Bell, John “The Summon”
Our exchange in the wilderness is one of leaving behind our plan in life and following his plan for us. When we surrender our lives to God, we experience the life he created for us. Lent gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves how we can show the love of Jesus to be known as we walk the pilgrimage we are on. “Only by identifying with the least [will we] come at last to be the brothers of all. May God inspire that dream in each one of us.” (Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 287)
“Lord, your summon echoes true When you but call my name. Let me turn and follow you And never be the same. In your company I’ll go Where your love and footsteps show. Thus I’ll move and live and grow In you and you in me. Bell, John “The Summon”
“Today God continues to call - you and me – but do we listen?” (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God – The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
Feb. 28, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (510) Growing in Mindfulness
“How does God speak? Through everything there is. Everything, every person, every situation, is ultimately the Word. It tells me something and challenges me to respond. Each moment, with all that it contains, spells out the great “yes” in a new and unique way. By making my response, moment by moment, word by word, I myself am becoming the Word that God speaks in me and to me and through me.” (Brother David Steindl-Rast: The Way of Silence)
As if COVID-19 had not prepared us to learn to detach from our comforts, enters winter weather. Were we ever prepared for our walk in the desert wilderness of Lent? Must admit the ice and snow we received reminded us about learning to live without the comforts of shelter, electricity, water, food. The reminder of Lent of minister to those in need, reach out to your neighbor also was presented to us as well.
We may have found ourselves saying, but all I have to offer is “this little bit”. God replied, “That is enough”. Have I already not given you more than you need? “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt. 4:10)
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
Our 40-days of Lent calls us to Reflect, Repent, and Restore. Some ways of growing in mindfulness that we can do during Lent and make us witnesses of Christ as we be attentive to the needs, thoughts, and feelings of others in our daily life can come in the form of:
Reflect - reading the Word of God. Sign up for daily readings through: Faith ND: faith.nd.edu or United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB): http://www.usccb.org/subscribe/daily-readings-email-subscription-form Another suggestion pause and pray before you begin your day, even for just a moment spend time with Jesus and pray “Please give the grace to see what you want me to do today”.
Repent – Work at avoiding the temptation of not judging others. “When we begin to separate people in our thoughts for unjust reasons, when we start to see some people as ‘them’ and others as ‘us’ we fail to love.” (Open Wide Our Hearts, USCCB)
Restore – We seek to belong. Our giving ‘gift’ to others strengthens a sense of belonging. There is a closer bond between the giver and the thanks-giver. Everything is a gift. God gives freely to us, let us give freely to others. It is our way of saying you are loved – you belong.
Mindfulness is our choice that may cost us our time and perhaps some ego, but which we know God desires. Our obligation is to “participate in shaping the moral character of society a requirement of our faith. It is a basic part of our mission we have received from Jesus Christ.” (Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, no.9)
“A single act of kindness makes the soul return to life.” (St. Maximilian Kolbe)
Feb. 21, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (476) Rest and Listen
“Be patient with yourself this Lent. This past year has been difficult in many ways. Take your journey one day at a time.” (USCCB: Lent 2021 - Reflect. Repent. Restore.) Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
Chill, rest, relax, take a break, time out, quiet time, disconnect, and stop, are words we are quite familiar within the last several months. These words express the means of our conscious effort, to solve personal and interpersonal challenges, in order to control or minimize or endure stress or conflicts that we have had or currently experiencing.
We may have established some form of adapting to our world’s challenges yet our hearts remain restless with the “what if’s” of what does the future holds. As much as we would like to say we have our lives “under-control” we need help, “spiritual help”. Who best to call upon and rely upon but Jesus Christ? “Lord, you have probed me, you know me; … you understand my thoughts. You sift through my travels and my rest…” (Ps. 139: 1-3)
The season of Lent has arrived at the right time as we are all showing signs of mental, physical, not to mention spiritual fatigue. Our heavy sighs come from being mentally, physically, and emotionally drained and let us not forget to include sleep deprived.
The 40-day season of Lent is our opportunity of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. Let us use this time to reconnect and rebuild our spiritual life with Jesus Christ. Who knows us better, understands our challenges and can strengthen us on our pilgrimage?
On Ash Wednesday, ashes were sprinkled on our heads so that the fire of love could be kindled in our hearts. We were called during our Lenten journey to self-reflect and allow ourselves to experience the mercy of the Lord and seek a deeper meaning to “rest” in him.
“God is always speaking to us. Listen to Him. He wants from us deep love and compassion. Feel often during the day the need for prayer. Love to pray. (Mother Teresa and Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
Jesus told his apostles to get away with him and this same message is extended to us. Our spiritual needs can come in the forms of prayer, reflecting on Mass readings, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, or sitting quietly five or ten minutes a day. Our quiet time allows us to rest in him and direct our heart and mind to him.
“While the future may be uncertain to us, we can rest comfortably in the loving control and sovereignty of our Heavenly Father. We can trust in his plan, and we can rely upon his fatherly design and control.” (Mark Hart and Christopher Cuddy: Zelaous)
Feb. 14, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (507) Living a balanced life
“If you are hungry to hear the voice of God, you will hear. To hear, you have to cut out all the other things.” (Mother Teresa, Matthew Kelly: Do Something Beautiful for God – The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa)
This year’s Ash Wednesday readings spoke of God’s longing for us, “return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning; … Then the Lord had compassion for his land and took pity on his people.” (Joel 2: 12-18)
Seems that when we decide on our Lenten commitment, temptation automatically begins to test us to break our promise. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence…” (Mt. 4: 8)
During the 40 days of Lent we seek to reenergize our faith and prepare our hearts for the Resurrection of Our Lord at Easter. Our biggest hurdle is to choose life, and salvation as a follower of Christ. The choice is our and ours alone, pick up our cross and follow Jesus’ steps. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk. 9:23)
The Sunday’s of Lent will address the topics of: Facing Temptation, Preparing for Glory, Pursuing a Life of Virtue, Being Transformed by the Light and concludes with Having the Law in our Hearts. Each of the readings reflects the importance of remaining balanced through prayer, penance, firm hope, lively faith, humble holiness and devoting our lives to God.
Living a balanced life is like a bird in flight. Their wings continuously adapt to air flow around in the direction it flies. Their wings slice in the air in a forward direction and gets pushed up from below, the result it flies. Jesus invites us to live a balance life, to trust in him no matter what happens in life.
Lent provides us an opportunity to prepare ourselves for spiritual struggles and testing in life. The holy season allows us to learn how to return to God’s way of truth and holiness. We begin by denying ourselves and choose everlasting life. “Remove all obstacles and stumbling blocks so that you will be able to go straight along the road to Eternal life.” - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop: (Liturgy of the Hours Vol. II, pg. 1714)
Fr. Wade Menezes, a Fathers of Mercy, CMP offers the handout The Seven Capital Sins and their Opposite Corresponding Capital Virtues and Extremes to help with living a proper and balanced life. The handout illustrates the Seven Capital Sins (Living too lax) its Opposite Extreme (Living too rigid) and the middle the Capital Virtues (Living proper and balance). A copy of the handout can be found at http://www.fathersofmercy.com In the search box enter the words Seven Capital Virtues.
“O search me, God, and know my heart. O test me and know my thoughts. See that I follow not the wrong path and lead me in the path of eternal life.” (Ps. 139: 23-24)
Feb. 7, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (527) World Day of the Sick
“Love is not about patronizing and charity isn’t about pity. It is about pouring ourselves out for others.” (St. Mother Teresa: Do Something Beautiful for God)
Pope St. John Paul II on May 13, 1992, instituted the first World Day of Sick and was recognized the following year. February 11, 2021 marks the XXIX World Day of the Sick, the feast on Our Lady of Lourdes. This year’s theme Pope Francis says is, “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt. 23:8), which calls for a “a trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick.”
In his message for World Day of the Sick Pope Francis notes that, “A society is all the more human to the degree that it cares effectively for its most frail and suffering members, in a spirit of fraternal love. He warns us about the dangers of “self-idolatry” when our faith is reduced to empty words and we are unconcerned with the lives of others. We are to stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them.”
Prayer of the Sick
Ever-Present and Faithful God, I trust in You, and in Your protection and comfort in this time of illness and uncertainty of my life.
Come to ease the fears and anxieties that trouble my heart and spirit as I wait for answers and help from all who are caring for me. Please continue to guide their knowledge and skills, and bless the work of their minds and hands as they serve as instruments of Your healing presence for me.
Help me rest assured that You will hold me close in Your healing and caring embrace in all that may happen in the time to come. Give me strength, peace, and courage as I trust and give myself into Your loving care. Amen. (Sister Jane McConnell OSF, BCC)
As we continue to experience a worldwide pandemic Pope Francis expresses his spiritual closeness and the Church’s loving concern for those suffering Covid-19. As we recognize World Day of the Sick, he “urges a path of healing grounded in trusting and interpersonal relationship between the sick and those who care for them with assistance and care both in health care institutions and within families and communities.”
Prayer for the Caregiver
Holy One, Today is a new day; one in which I will encounter unknown circumstances, yet one I will greet with open hands anyway. I have been called to this day. Help me to be present to the present moment, knowing it is a gift.
Though I may not have all of the tools and wisdom I could use in this day, I will bring what I have. May my spirit radiate hope, joy and love, especially to those in most need.
May it let me know I care and they are not alone. I know I may not be able to fix all of the needs of this day, but may I be present to them and may that be enough. Amen (Nicholas S. Stewart MDiv. BCC)
Jan. 31, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (523) Pray for those in Religious Life
“Becoming a priest or a man or woman religious is not primarily our own decision… Rather it is the response to a call and to a call of love.” – Pope Francis, Address to Seminarians and Novices, July 6, 2013.
Pope Saint John Paul II established a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life in 1997. The feast corresponds to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas Day on February 2nd. On Candlemas Day, candles are blessed symbolizing Jesus Christ who is the light of the world.
World Day of Consecrated Life is Sunday, February 2nd. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to February 6-7th in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons of the whole Church. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples in their parishes.
Those called are strong in faith in the Catholic Church and her teachings and have a willingness to give themselves and consume themselves for souls, through the same Jesus Christ. These chosen ministers and dispensers of His ministries, Clergy and Consecrated Life, fulfill their mission and undertake apostolic works for the welfare of God’s people.
As Catholics we encounter Clergy and Consecrated Life at various stages in our life. We meet them as early as at our baptism, the receiving of the Sacraments, Mass, Liturgical celebrations, or at life-defining moment i.e... health issues or in the preparation of receiving Viaticum “the last blessing” as death approaches. During these Catholic moments, our lives are spiritually enhanced, as we encounter a person that God has called to a life of evangelical counsel.
Let us Pray during World Day for Consecrated Life this week for those who serve Him and us in the religious life.
“For those consecrated to God by the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience that they may seek to live their baptismal promises more intensely and have the grace to persevere in their commitment to the Lord and serve with open hearts and willing spirits. We pray to the Lord…”
“For all men and women preparing for the priesthood or consecrated life, that their days of formation be filled with joy, peace and the certainty of God’s love. We pray to the Lord…”
“For all who actively support the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, that they may see the fruits of their efforts in a rich harvest of vocations. We pray to the Lord…”
“That the life and mission of the men and women in consecrated life be a means of sanctification for them and building up the kingdom of God. We pray to the Lord…”
The Diocese of Lubbock Vocations & Seminarian website: https://catholiclubbock.org/Vocations.html provides information about our Seminarians, Candidate for Seminary, the Rother House and a Vocation contact to the Priesthood and Consecrate Life.
The Serra Ministries of Lubbock, affiliated with Serra International, a group of lay men and women who dedicate themselves to praying and promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. For information about Serra Ministries of Lubbock email Rudy Rangel at email@example.com
Jan. 24, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral Church (535) Immerse Ourselves
“Blessed be God who has given us a new birth through baptism. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Baptism: “means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.” (CCC 1214)
I recently observed how numerous birds in our backyard were using different methods in entering our birdbath. Their different styles of engagement of the water reminded me of our own approach of our daily baptismal commitment. Some birds were observing, as they kept their distance and watched, a few danced around the rim and at times would place a leg in the water, a few jumped in and out and a some thoroughly immersed themselves.
The Baptistry in our Cathedral Church was emptied in March as COVID safety protocols suggested that no water be kept, due to issues of not spreading the virus. At first, the thought of not being able the practice of dipping our fingers in the water and make the Sign of the Cross on ourselves as we walk by the baptismal pool would be short-lived.
As we approach almost a full year of not being able to remind ourselves of our baptism the anticipation of the day when we are able to dip our fingers in the blessed water may be like that of the birds who immerse themselves – the exhilarating feeling of being purified – thoroughly washed clean.
“Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.” The faithful Christian who has “kept the seal” until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life “marked with the sign of faith.” With his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.” (CCC 1274)
At the Baptism of the Lord, a few weeks ago we heard how Jesus began his mission of being sent forth by his Father, “My word… it shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:11)
As we enter Ordinary Time we too are invited to a fresh start with a new baptismal fullness, of being sent forth, to do the will of God. As baptized children of God’s family and “sharers of the divine nature” (2 Pt. 1:4) we are joined by Holy Spirit, our protector. Each of us with our own talents – beautifully and wonderfully made are tasked with fulfilling the mission which we were created for. Let us be “light” and “salt” to those around us. Let us daily “immerse” ourselves in, and not just observe, the baptismal waters and speak of the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation to those around us.
“We are washed clean through the waters of baptism, and daily we are invited to renew those baptismal promises – to return to the right path and to accept the forgiveness of Christ. God patiently waits for us to approach that fountain of mercy so that we can become whole and holy.” (Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow: Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women)
Jan. 17, 2020 Christ the King Cathedral (433) “Patris corde” (With a Father’s Heart”)
Pope Francis on December 8, 2020 decreed a “Year of St. Joseph” which concludes on December 8, 2021. The honor marks the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870.
Pope Francis in his Apostolic Letter titled Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) shared “My desire to do so increased during these months of (the) pandemic,” observing the many people who have made hidden sacrifices to protect and minister to others (just as St. Joseph did with the Holy Family). “Each of us can discover in St. Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”
During the celebration of the “Year of St. Joseph”, Pope Francis also announced the granting of special indulgences in his Apostolic Penitentiary “to perpetuate the entrustment of the whole Church to the powerful patronage of the Custodian of Jesus”.
Visit the Vatican News link for the listing of “Year of St. Joseph” plenary indulgence: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/vatican-city/news/2020-12/apostolic-penitentiary-plenary-indulgence-year-st-joseph.html
The faithful Pope Francis announced, have also been given the opportunity to commit themselves “with prayer and good works, to obtain, with the help of St. Joseph, head of the heavenly Family of Nazareth, comfort and relief from the serious human and social tribulations that besiege the contemporary world today.”
Pope Francis presented a challenge … a daily prayer to St. Joseph in his letter. He mentioned that “Every day, for over forty years, following Lauds [Morning Prayer]” he has “recited a prayer to Saint Joseph taken from a nineteenth-century French prayer book of the Congregation of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary.”
The prayer Pope Francis says “This prayer, he expresses devotion and trust, and even poses a certain challenge to Saint Joseph,” on account of its closing words: “My beloved father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power.”
Pope Francis concluded his Apostolic Letter (“With a Father’s Heart”), a prayer to St. Joseph, which he encourages all to pray.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us, too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen
Jan. 10, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral Church (496) Step-by-Step
“God doesn’t stand down the road and call us to catch up. He meets us where we are and leads us step-by-step to who he is calling us to become.” (Matthew Kelly: Rediscover the Saints)
The last ten months we have undergone and experienced to say the least, countless difficulties of uncertainty of what our next step would find us encountering. May our faith as we begin a new year recognize and trust that we were and are being led not by our own strength but by the grace of God.
We ended 2020 with our Advent candles of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy lit and were instructed to go forth and evangelize Emmanuel, which means “God with us” (Mt. 11:23) and to walk the talk of the Gospel. This year may we deepen our faith, share Christ’s Christmas and to call upon the Holy Spirit to give us the power and courage to affirm Jesus. Let us open our heart with confidence and courage and love each person, the way God loves us, despite our sinfulness.
It was just the second octave day after celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ that I overheard an individual say “thank God that Christmas is over”. My mind quick recalled the saying “no one will take your joy away from you”. (Jn. 16:22)
To glorify God’s kingdom, we must take up our cross each day and follow his footsteps. With each step throughout our day let us be prepared to extend our candle of hope, peace, love, and joy in the name of Jesus Christ, regardless of being persecuted for our Christian call to witness and service. When we do encounter resistance let us forgive them for, “They know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34) and pray for them, to save them from punishment.
It all begins with our first step as expressed by St. John Vianney: “On the Way of the Cross, you see my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses... We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for whatever we do, the cross holds us tight - we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to heaven?”
“God is at your side and already guiding you. You just have to keep taking each step, one at a time. He will take care of the rest.” (Fr. John Bartunek: Taken from A Quiet Place)
“Almighty God, the gift of your Son brings us assurance and confidence. Give us the strength in every conflict and struggle. We pray for the end of all persecutions and strife. May your Son’s peace rest in our hearts. We pray this in his name. Amen.” (Rev. Bob Loughery, C.S.C.)’
“We reach the ultimate goal of our journey one step at a time.” (Richard J. Hauser, SJ: Moving in the Spirit)
Jan. 3, 2021 Christ the King Cathedral (534) A Day of Peace
“Perfect joy is the ability to return peace and love to those who cross us. That is indeed the path to sainthood, and few of us manage to walk it perfectly.” (Pope Francis: Pope Francis and Call to Joy)
The words “Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me” are heartfelt words that have echoed a call for peace the world over since 1955. The tradition of World Day of Peace began on January 1, 1967 with St. Paul V, continued with St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
“The world must be educated to love Peace, to build it up and defend it.” – Pope Paul VI, 1968 Pope Benedict called every Christian to “tireless peace-making” and “to unfailingly contribute to the advancement of a true integral humanism.” Pope Francis says, “A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your brother, is a sterile and incomplete prayer.”
Jesus Christ is called the “Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:5) The Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen of Peace serves as a true example of living a peaceful life, assuring us that by following her Son, he will “guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk. 2:35)
“We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 975)
How do we live a peaceful life? As suggested and encouraged by previous Popes and with our Mother Mary let us daily pray for peace every day and strive to live in peaceful harmony with everyone. When we are at peace, we strengthen our relationship with God and all others. “Let not your hearts be troubled or afraid…” *(Jn. 14:27)
Last year the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development shared nine ways to pray at We Are Salt and Light for those in the need of peace in our community and around the world. Examples of nine ways to pray is The Prayer Box and The Service Prayer.
The Prayer Box. Create a personal prayer box. On small slips of paper, write issues about which you are concerned. Place the slips in the box. During your payer time each day, pick one or two slips of paper out of the box and pray for those you listed, and for the ability to listen how God might be calling you to respond. Another alternative list your issue on your home or phone calendar and pray for the intentions of those you’ve listed.
The Service Prayer. As we are called to a life of service to all whom we meet, ask God to help you be with you and to be attentive to his presence in every person you interact and give them the dignity that is each of them. After your visit or service time think about the ways you saw God in the individual. Ask for God’s blessing on them, of how God is calling you to assist them if only through pray for their challenges.
“PEACE” I give you… Pray, Eucharist, Adoration, Confession, Embrace His WillWe are Salt and Light: https://www.wearesaltandlight.org/pray-together/nine-ways-pray
Dec. 27, 20202 Christ the King Cathedral (483) A Gift of a New Year
Living in the Present: “We cannot control or predict what God has ready for us. It’s far better to enjoy each chapter of our lives than to look back on past happiness or long for an unlikely future.” (Every Day Catholic)
No truer words spoken ‘we cannot control or predict what God…’. Our lives are filled with so many gifts, most of which we take for granted, and they all flow to us through Jesus. I hope that we will view 2020 as the year that we will recall the saying: “yesterday’s the past, tomorrow is future, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” (Bil Keane: Cartoonist/Creator of The Family Circus)
Start Over by Dr. William Kroll
When you’ve trusted Jesus and walked his way
When you’ve felt his hand lead you day by day
But your steps now take you another way,
When you’ve made your plans and they’ve gone awry
When you’ve tried your best and there’s no more try
When you’ve failed yourself and you don’t know why,
When you’ve told your friends what you plan to do
When you’ve trusted them and they didn’t come through
And now you’re all alone and it’s up to you,
When you’ve failed your kids and they’re grown and gone
When you’ve done your best but it’s turned out wrong
And now your grandchildren have come along,
When you’ve prayed to God so you’ll know his will
When you’ve prayed and prayed and you don’t know still
When you want to stop ‘cause you’ve had your fill,
When you think you’re finished and want to quit
When you’ve bottomed out in life’s deepest pit
When you’ve tried and tried to get out of it,
When the year has been long and successes few
When December comes and you’re feeling blue
God gives a January just for you,
Starting over means “Victories Won” Starting over means “A Race Well Run” Starting over means “The Lord’s Will Done” Don’t just sit there… START OVER
Three St. Ignatius of Loyola New Year’s Resolutions:
“more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.” (Spiritual Exercise 22)
Consolation and Desolation. “in times of desolation we are to redouble our efforts to pray, increase penitential acts, remember times of consolation, and stay the course with decisions made in those past times of consolation.”
Follow God’s will. “any process of discernment ought to begin with total freedom, that is, a willingness to follow God’s will, whatever it is.”
“Almighty God, with you there is no beginning and no end for you are the origin and goal of all creation. May this new year which we dedicate to you bring us abundant prosperity and growth in holy living.” (The Catholic Prayer Book)
Dec. 20, 20202 Christ the King Cathedral (538) Repent, Faith, Rebuild the Kingdom
“Say to the fainthearted: Take courage! The Lord our God is coming to save us. (Is. 35:4)
There are times when I’ve observed the traffic during my early morning commute that the poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson comes to mind. As I drive l cannot help but notice of how the countless drivers give the appearance of being determined and focused on their destination.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!” Was there a man dismayed! … Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die. When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honour the charge of the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred.” (The Charge of the Light Brigade)
My observation recalls of how this Advent season we have been reminded to ‘be prepared’ for the coming of Jesus Christ. To be mindful that we live in a political kingdom and we were called to repentance and faith and to build a Spiritual Kingdom.
Like the brigade who charged into the valley we are to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. Just like the saints and all the faithful who lived their life according to the Gospel we too are to undergo struggles, difficult trials all for the love of God. We work for the Kingdom, the hope of the future. Our strength we are told will come from the grace of God and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “For I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is. 40:13
Dear Lord, there is much to do this day. Give us the wisdom when we are filled with questions. Grant us a grateful heart when we feel discouraged. Open our eyes to the opportunities that await us. Steady our pace so that we can see you in the people and challenges that will come our way today. Let us be pure of spirit so your glory may guide our thinking and acting. (Rev. Herbert Yost, C.S.C.)
All four Advent candles are now lit hope, peace, joy and the fourth symbolizes love. Only one candle remains to be lit, known as the Christ Candle, it is lit during the Christmas Eve service.
Christ Candle of Hope Prayer
God, our loving Father, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ into the world to counter all the forces of evil: sin, suffering and death, and to overcome evil with the force of good; hatred with the power of love, your great love for us in Jesus.
Help us never to curse the darkness, but to join with you in bringing Your light into this world, the light that is your Son, born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem. Help us to be instruments of your light and love by doing one special act of kindness or by being your special instrument of reconciliation this New Year.
May the Christ Candle we light symbolize our desire to bring light into a world of darkness and hope into a world of despair. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (EWTN: Christ Candle of Hope Prayers)
Dec. 13, 2020 Christ the King Cathedral (537) Waiting in Joyful Hope
“You exist to boldly carry out the torch handed down to us by our radical founder, Jesus. Your duty is to upend all that is backward in the world by joyfully setting it aflame with the true, the good, and the beautiful.” (Matthew Warner: Messy and Foolish)
We began our journey in search of Jesus Christ, the “Light” in the world very early in the year with the news of how COVID 19 was impacting lives globally. Through challenges, hardships, and fear of how to handle questions of what lies ahead, we were encouraged to remain faithful to our Catholic teachings. “I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know who holds tomorrow.”
Meister Echart, shares that “when someone is looking for something and finds not a trace of it, they become discouraged and keep to the hunt with reluctance. If they find a trace of it, they will take up the search with renewed energy. I do not yet come face-to face with God. Yet I seek God’s face because I have caught a glimpse. Not yet. And yet.” “I see him, though not now; I observe him, though not near.” (Num. 24:17)
We continue our pilgrimage journey to Bethlehem on this the third Sunday of Advent as we light the candle of ‘Joy’. Like the Magi who asked “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw this star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Matt. 2:2) We too intensify our search as we are “Waiting in Joyful Hope” for the birth of Jesus Christ.
There are eleven days left in Advent. Our candle of ‘Joy’ invites us to extend to all whom we encounter to join us in our eagerness “as the Lord, the God of Israel, is to come to his people and set them free.” (Lk. 1:68) In the words of Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 89: “As couples or friends, we find that our hearts expand as we step out of ourselves and embrace others.”
Dec. 17th marks the beginning of the “O Antiphons”. They speak of hope of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well.
17th “…come to teach us the path of knowledge!”
18th “…come to rescue us with your mighty power.!”
19th “…come to save us without delay!”
20th “…come and free the prisoners of darkness!”
21st “…come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”
22nd “…come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!”
23rd “…come to save us, Lord our God!
“Joy lives at the very center of Christian life. Joy makes us Christians different. We do not despair; we rejoice.” (Allen Hunt: Nine Words)
“Lord Jesus, you challenge us to deny ourselves, to pick up our cross and to follow you daily. Give us the humility and strength to bear our burdens with peace, and joy as we strive to walk in your footsteps. Help us to let go of ourselves, to let your life fill our hears. Guide us to your salvation. We as this in your name. Amen.” (Rev. Tim Mouton, C.S.C)
Dec. 6, 2020 Christ the King Cathedral (532) Lighting the way
“Receive the light of Christ”, these words were spoken to us at our baptism. Our light was entrusted to us to be kept burning brightly, to walk always as a child of the light.
Our pilgrimage this year began full of hope. Our candle’s flame since March may have wavered and although we may have felt close to being extinguished, we have been encouraged to remain faithful, to the keep our flame of faith alive.
We began the first Sunday of Advent by lighting the candle of “Hope”. Our candle of hope announced how our Church awaits the coming of its Savior, who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness. “Advent is synonymous with hope: not the vain waiting for a faceless god, concrete and certain trust in the return of Him who has already visited us…” – Pope St. John Paul II
Every candle we light during the Advent Season serves as a reminder for us to fill our oil lamp with prayer, the Word, going to or watching Mass and remaining focused on the birth of our Lord at Christmas. Angela of Foligno said, “If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament (the Mass), I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.”
Today, the Second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of “Peace”. As we journey forth through the season of Advent, we are called to share the Light of the World, Jesus Christ with all we meet. Let us reach out to others in love and kindness, and extend our flame to others whose flame may have been smothered by life’s trials. We are fueled by his Divine Love, when we share with others as “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
This week celebrate the feast days of Saints whose lives serve as holy examples in following the Lord. “Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints.” - Pope Benedict XVI
6th – St. Nicholas – Generous to the poor, and special protector of the innocent and wronged.
8th – The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk. 1:38)
9th – St. Juan Diego – Met the Virgin Mary who shared “Am I not your Mother? Have I not placed you on my lap and made you my responsibility? Do you need anything else?” St. Juan Diego, canonized July 31, 2002, by Pope St. John Paul 11.
12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe – Decreed “Patroness of all the Americas” by Pope Pius XII on Oct. 12, 1945. From 1531-38 at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City, Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe led eight million people to give their lives to Christ.
As we light our Advent candle of Peace let us pray: “Lord, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your Gospel and to point others to Jesus Christ.” (Presentation Ministries)
Nov. 29, 2020 Christ the King Cathedral (507) A Season of Hope… Take Time
This year has undoubtedly been a year like no other that anyone anticipated, has experienced, or can even compare. Everyone has had to daily adjust and make decisions based on the facts surrounding their circumstances. All have made efforts to advise, suggest, support, and survive challenges and difficulties.
As we enter the “Coming” of the Season of Advent and in preparation for Christmas let us turn our thoughts and heart to a “Season of Hope”. Let us daily take a little time to reflect and get ready for the coming of Our Lord and Savior.
Today begin Advent by lighting an Advent candle which symbolizes “hope” in bringing light to a world that has been battling the dark for the last several months. Our candle serves as a reminder that we are a people of hope, a people whose faith has overcome numerous challenges for many, many years. Let us praise God for his Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
Beginning Nov. 30th and continuing until Dec. 24th prepare for Advent Season 2020 by visiting the EWTN link: https://www.ewtn.com/advent/ for materials that captures the beauty of the season.
EWTN is currently offering the free e Book “Prepare Yourself for Christmas” by Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe, MFVA. The book will help you slow down in order to fully appreciate our holy season and to grow closer to Jesus and Mary in the days leading to the celebration of the Nativity. Along with the e Book Fr. Joseph will send each Sunday during Advent reflections.
The EWTN Advent Season 2020 link also offers: Reason of Hope, a Christmas Novena Devotion, Read Daily Advent Reflections, a schedule of EWTN Advent programming and Fr. Joseph’s Advent reflection videos as he guides us on our journey to Christmas.
What are the things you do every day, every week, or every month? If you can tell me what your habits are, I can tell you what your future looks like.” (Matthew Kelly: Perfectly Yourself)
TAKE TIME TO THINK.
It is The Source of All Power.
TAKE TIME TO READ.
It is The Foundation Of All Wisdom.
TAKE TIME TO PLAY.
It is The Source Of Perpetual Youth.
TAKE TIME TO BE QUIET.
It is The Opportunity To Seek God.
TAKE TIME TO BE AWARE.
It is The Opportunity To Help Others.
TAKE TIME TO LOVE AND BE LOVED.
It is God’s Greatest Gift.
TAKE TIME TO LAUGH.
It is The Music Of The Soul.
TAKE TIME TO BE FRIENDLY.
It is The Road to Happiness.
TAKE TIME TO DREAM.
It is What The Future Is Made Of.
TAKE TIME TO WORK.
But Don’t Let Work, Take All Of Your Time.
TAKE TIME TO GIVE.
It is Too Short A Day To Be Selfish.
TAKE TIME TO PRAY.
It is The Greatest Power On Earth.
“Life has a tendency to slip through our hands like water, unless we live each day, each hour, each moment with great consciousness.” (Matthew Kelly: Rediscover the Saints)
Nov. 22, 2020 Christ the King Cathedral (507) Pruning ourselves
When I was young, our dad planted four pecan trees, one for each my sisters and I. The trees are planted deeply he explained, so that its roots are held firmly in the ground, secure against the elements that effect it, i.e. wind, rain, heat, snow, etc.
At our baptism we were anointed and invoked with the Holy Spirit. Throughout our lives we like a tree, experience trials and if we remain rooted in the teachings of both the Father and the Son, we will be able to endure what arises in life. “Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)
A few weeks ago, as the temperature dropped, I noticed that the leaves on our pecan tree began to shrivel and fall. The scene of dead leaves scattered in the yard reminded me of the importance of us transitioning ourselves, like the falling of leaves on a tree as the year comes to an end.
“He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.” (Jn. 15:2)
Each year our branches become cluttered with baggage that prevents us from our sacred duty, our call to serve God and neighbor selflessly and generously. As our season changes from fall to winter let us take a note from the trees as they shed their leaves, to conserve their resources. We too should do the same and remove the things in our lives which prevents us from living the life God created us for.
“We crowd God out of our lives by filling our lives with things that don’t matter. Remove the things that don’t matter to make space for God in your life – in your heart, mind and soul.” (Matthew Kelly: I Heard God Laugh)
As we prune and eliminate the clutter that fills our minds, lives and homes, let us spiritually prepare ourselves for the season of Advent, Christmas, and the New Year. When we decide to release and detach from our overabundance of things as furnishings, clothes, etc. we allow ourselves to focus our attention on being replenished by Jesus. Through faith and the Sacraments, we have been taught to rely on the strength, wisdom, and perseverance that God who is in charge will provide.
“I am the vine, you are the branches, says the Lord; whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” (Jn. 15:5)
“God of all time and seasons, as autumn turns to winter and the days grow shorter, we remember and hope for your holy light in our lives. Give us your grace to see that where there is love, we find you among us – your kingdom here and now. Fill our hearts with your love and give us the courage and strength to share it freely as your beloved sons and daughters. Come Holy Spirit – enkindle us with the fire of your love!” (Rev. Bradley Metz, C.S.C.)