Lent is coming! Lent is coming! (Part 2)
Here are some things to keep in mind in preparing for the 40 days of Lent.
Here is a brief list of possible things to do for Lent:
Fasting - Pick a day of the week and fast on that day every week during Lent. (Fasting is mandatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these two days fasting is to eat only one meal, unless for health reasons a person needs more, then two half meals is permissible.) But for your other day of fasting, let’s say you fast every Wednesday during Lent, you can eat one full meal and two half meals. You can also not fast from quantity but quality. For example on your fast day you just eat bread and fruit….or something like that.
Give up dead time – Dead time is the time we spend vegetating in front of the TV or internet, or video games. (Parents do not be afraid to make a family rule that everyone gives up electronics during Lent.) Obviously, if it is necessary to use electronics for work or school, that is permissible. But other than that, they are not used. Replace that time with family activities. (For example, during Lent the family must pray together every day and then do something fun together every day. Put the kids in charge of organizing the prayer and the fun activity.)
….to be continued….
Lent is coming! Lent is coming! (Part 1)
Ok. Lent is a great season, right?...that is…If we are not afraid of what God has in store for us. As you plan to take this coming Lent very seriously, I would like for you to factor in to your spiritual and penitential practices the following points of wisdom:
These are just a few thoughts to get us thinking about Lent.
This last week one of our retired Archbishops, Archbishop Alexander Brunett died. Several years ago he suffered a debilitating stroke that he never recovered from. He was the type of person that would give his all to the very end. Because of the stroke he could not walk and at times struggled to speak. Nonetheless, he would come to Archdiocesan events with a big smile on his face. I found it very inspiring.
The first time I met with him one-on-one was when I had just been accepted as a new seminarian. He was telling me which seminary I would be attending. I was head-strong and he taught me in that first meeting that I needed to learn how to trust his judgment and learn to obey. I will never forget how patient he was with me, and how his decision for me was exactly what I needed. I have always been grateful to him for that. Being a bishop is a terribly difficult job, especially for the one’s that are willing to make the tough decisions. I do not envy them. May God help them and bless them with patience and wisdom.
Eternal rest grant onto him O Lord. And let perpetual shine upon him.
This Sunday we are celebrating the presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple. The custom would have included the parents making a sacrifice to God in gratitude for their new child, because, “every firstborn male is consecrated to the Lord… and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: a pair of doves or two young pigeons…”.
Implied in this sacrifice is the accepting of the mission that God has given them; namely, to form the heart and mind of their child to be close to God. In other words, they must initiate and cooperate with God, so that He will then consecrate. To consecrate is to make holy, to form it into something holy. The exchange of a pair of turtledoves for this incredible gift seems disproportionate and yet is very important. We give what we can and God makes it holy.
The normal offering in this case is actually a lamb, not the turtledoves. The turtledoves are optional for people that are poor. For Jesus there is spiritual meaning also. He comes to us poor AND as the Lamb of God, and so he does not need a lamb to be offered for him. The turtledoves are just fine, because one day under the shadow of the same Temple, he will offer himself as the new Lamb to take away the sins of the world.
For the next 14 days I will be on a vacation/pilgrimage. I will be driving down to Baja California. I will be visiting some of the very first missions that were established by some Jesuit, Dominican and Franciscan missionaries as they came up the west coast into California.
One mission I am hoping to visit is San Ignacio. It is about a 12-hour drive south of San Diego. The site for the town San Ignacio was originally chosen because it is a natural oasis. There is a naturally occurring spring and river and so there is plenty of water and vegetation. Also, because of the volcanic rock in the area they were able to construct the mission buildings that are very strong. The church building has walls that are four feet think.
I suppose this in an analogy of life. Like the oasis we are drawn to the wellspring of God. And the more we live close to him and depend on him we are able to build our home (our mission) close to him; using him, the rock, as our strength and protection.
This week there are two major human rights issues we remember. The first, is the injustice of racism, prejudices, and the horror of our legacy of race-based slavery. This evil was fought by many courageous people that refused to give in to it. We are still struggling with the effects and wounds in our culture. We continue to pray and work to root this evil out.
The second human rights issue is the ongoing slaughter of the innocents in our country by abortion. The sheer number of abortions each year in our country dwarfs any other evil that has been committed by any tyrannical dictator in the history of humanity. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy group, there have been approximately 65 million abortions in the United States since abortion was legalized in 1973.
On Tuesday, January 21 st we will be going to St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Olympia for the Mass for life and for the March for life the same day at the Capital.
Please consider joining us. We will be leaving at 6:30am.
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22
Today’s Feast marks the conclusion of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. It’s a feast of transition from Jesus’ hidden life to that of His public ministry. It also echoes the theme of the Epiphany in that the Baptism of the Lord is another manifestation announcing Jesus’ divinity to all of His first followers and to the disciples of John the Baptist.
First of all, it needs to be pointed out that Jesus did not need the baptism of John. John was baptizing as a call to and sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. Why did He receive baptism?
First, by accepting the baptism of John, Jesus affirms all that John has said and done and affirms his sacred role of preparing the way for Jesus and for a new era of grace. Therefore, the Baptism of Jesus acts as a bridge between the Old Testament prophets (of which John was the last) and the New Testament era of grace and truth.
Second, it has been said that when Jesus entered the waters of baptism, He was not baptized by the waters, rather, His Baptism was one in which all the created waters of this world were, in a sense, “baptized” by Him. By entering into the waters, Jesus sanctified water and poured forth His grace making all water the future source of salvation.
Third, the Baptism of Jesus was an epiphany. It was a moment of manifestation. As He emerged from the waters, “Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from Heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” This manifestation of the sonship and divinity of Jesus took place in a physical, audible and visible form so that all present would know, without question, that Jesus was the Son of the Father. Thus, His baptism is a way in which the Father introduced His Son and His Son’s mission to the world.
As we prepare to begin Ordinary Time, reflect, today, upon these words of the Father at the Baptism of Jesus. Hear the Father speaking to You about the divinity of His Son. Turn your eyes to Jesus and prepare yourself to follow Him and to heed every word He speaks. He was sent into this world to draw us to the Father, allow Him to fulfill that mission in your own life.
Lord, I believe that You are the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the World. I believe that You have brought about a new era of grace and truth and that I am called to follow You wherever You lead. As we begin this liturgical season of Ordinary Time, may it be a time of extraordinary grace in which I daily heed Your voice. Jesus, I trust in You.
The journey of the Magi is cloaked in mystery. I suppose the Gospel writers had no intention of giving explicit details of who they were. Without knowing these details about Magi, it is still a fascinating part of the Gospel of Matthew. Why would anyone set on such a strange journey with so many unanswered questions? Why would they do it? Generally speaking, people only do such things when they are seeking treasure, or fame or power, or motivated by some other selfish ambition. So, why then? Some historians seem to think that it is mere science or superstition that compelled them to go, astronomers (astrologers) following a star. For me, these reasons seem to sell short the significance of these men from the East coming to Jesus. What if it was something more?
Is it possible that it was true faith rooted in a desire to know the truth and a desire to be close to God? Is it also possible that it was rooted in hope to bring the message of God back to their people? Perhaps they are the first missionaries to the East. All my questions are based on reading about the lives of the saints. Isn’t it far more likely that it is the Divine movement of God in their hearts and minds rather than just scientific curiosity? Also, it makes no sense that they are adventure seekers or treasure hunters. Treasure hunters seek to get treasure, not bring it with them and then give it to someone on their journey.
The whole story implies that the Magi are motivated by humility and generosity, which are two of the greatest virtues present in saintly people. When we reflect on the character of Jesus as he grows up, as one who is courageous, humble, and generous, this explanation is truly consistent with the rest of the Gospel. Thank you, Magi for setting an example for us all to follow.
Dear parishioners and guests,
Merry Christmas!! May Jesus fill you and your family with great love this season!
You have heard me say before that the most important job of every husband and wife is to get their spouse to heaven. This means that everything becomes a potential gift of love to your spouse. Doing anything out of love for them, like the stinky chore of cleaning the gunk out of the shower drain….without your spouse asking, become opportunities to show that you will do anything to bring love into their life. There are a million examples of this: forgiving them and saying you are sorry without being asked, breaking bad or sinful habits…just because it will help your spouse be closer to God and have more love….praying for them….praying with them every day….going to Confession regularly just because it help you to be a more loving and patient spouse…etc.
Jesus has done the same thing for you and me. He has manifested from the first moments of his life his desire to do everything to help us get to heaven. The reason for this is simple, he loves us so much that he wants to spend eternity with us….
Look at the creche,
See how Jesus came,
Approachable, gentle, fragile, yet ready to exclaim,
From the first moments as He lay,
Looking up from a crib full of hay,
He sees you with a heart wounded by loss and fear,
He stretches out his hand to you so dear,
It is but a moment before you feel free,
To say, “Yes Lord, I will follow thee.”
The theme for the fourth week of Advent is love. Is it possible to love something that is unlovable?
I hope so, because this is one thing that distinguishes us from the rest of creation and makes us most like God. When God gives you the grace to be filled with true and sincere love for that which seems to be unlovable….it becomes lovable.
One day, when St. Francis of Assisi had a vision of God, God said to him, “One day you will love that which you despise, and you will despise that which you love.” Francis was deeply confused by this statement until one day he encountered a leper walking along the path. He immediately understood in his heart what God meant. He got down from his horse and kissed the leper and never despised lepers again.
Do you love your life, as it is right now? Are you truly happy? If the answer is “no”, then there is something unlovable in your life that is overpowering you. Pray for the grace to love it. Obviously, I am not talking about loving something that is evil, but rather the lovable buried under the unlovable.
When Jesus came, he came in an unlovable manner. He was rejected even before he was born, by the local people of Bethlehem. He would be rejected many times over again through the course of his life. And yet, in our unlovable-ness toward Him, he genuinely loves us, will continue to love us no matter what.
The theme for the third week of Advent is joy. There is something joy-filled when you are driving down a dark street and all the sudden you pass a house that is brightly lit with Christmas lights. It gives us a sense of security and hope. Joy is what happens when our hopes are being realized. It is hard to celebrate and be joyful about anything when life is full of fear and danger. Perhaps this is why it is so important for us to show our joy, for all the others traveling down the dark road of life. The joy of knowing that we are safe with our Savior who has come to us as a baby.
When a person puts Christmas lights on their house it is not just to provide light using electricity, but it is to provide a message that means….we are joyful! This would have been the same message received by the Magi when they saw the star shining before them. It would have been the same message that the shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem received from the angels when they said, “Rejoice, for unto you a Savior has been born!”.
The four seasons of Advent are linked in the following way:
The first week is a week of hope. Hope is focused on the future, not the past. Thus, this week we prepare for the second-coming of Christ. This is like a week of a cleaning before your guests come over. In this case the guest is Jesus coming back for you. What in our lives still needs fixing, cleaning, or straightening up?
The second week is a week of peace. Peace is the ability to relax because we trust others better than ourselves to protect us and take of us. This week we see in the first reading from Isaiah a world at peace. All creatures are concerned for each other. It is nice to not have any enemies, thus, our hope for peace.
The third week is a week of joy. Joy is because at this point, we are halfway through the season! But also, in the readings we join that moment in history when all of creation rejoiced that their hope has been realized, the Savior is coming! The wait is finally over.
The fourth week is a week of love. Love is now, because Jesus, who is love, is almost here. He invites us into his home and into his heart. He never wants us to be separated. It is here where our hope is fulfilled and we know peace, joy and love in Jesus Christ.
Let’s pretend it took the Magi four weeks to journey to Bethlehem. That means that we are beginning the journey with them today. They are going to be crossing through deserts and wilderness, facing long days of travelling and countless interactions with foreigners, all in the attempt to follow a vague notion that God has come as a child….and to meet this child. WOW! What an adventure!
What faith! To risk much on what was probably no more than a vision or vague prophecy that they heard…and a star. Can you imagine the feelings of doubt they must have had along the way? ”We must be crazy, why did we embark on this wild goose chase?” No doubt there were countless people along the way that laughed at them or scoffed at their foolishness when they heard about their mission.
Thank you, Jesus, for the foolishness and courage, for the doubts and struggles, for the moments when we have nothing but faith….as we journey to you!
This weekend is the feast day of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. That is quite the title. No one else in the world can claim to be king of the universe. It sounds almost like a superhero title, like superman. The difference between Jesus and all the fictional superheroes that we know, is that Jesus is real, obviously, and that he does not wear a mask. All the superheroes seem to wear some type of mask or costume. Jesus does not do either. The mask of the superheroes is to protect their real identity from the villain, so their loved ones are safe. Jesus does the opposite. Jesus does not want to protect us or shield us from Satan. He wants us to share in his victory by sharing in the battle. But how?
The costume that the superheroes have are usually to set them apart from everyone else. This is how they are different. With their costume they are above and beyond everyone else. They seem to be immortal. Jesus does the opposite. We share in his victory by marching into battle to die. He destroys death and raises us up. We know this. This is the victory. But can we trust him to point of death? What great faith it takes to do this. What an awesome universe we live in!
In 2 weeks, we will begin the Advent season. This is not Lent, so it is not a season of mortification or penance. However, Advent is about preparation for the coming of Jesus.
This is a great time to seriously reflect and incorporate the two commandments of Jesus in our lives. They are:
TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND, SOUL, AND STRENGTH.
TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOUR SELF.
For your pre-advent preparation come up with one way that you can love God more with your:
Heart – I will commit to doing a specific act of charity or mercy for Advent.
Mind – I will find a spiritual book, podcast, or other source of information that will nurture my mind through Advent.
Soul – I will prepare to make a good Confession and attend Mass and receive the Eucharist more than once a week during Advent. (Or other spiritual practices – I will pray with my spouse every day, or I will pray the rosary every day, etc.)
Strength – I will do at least one act of penance to grow in discipline and offer it for someone I know that is suffering, during the season of Advent.
Here is the basic format of Confession and the Act of Contrition:
First, examine your conscience. (What is it that weighs heavy on your soul?)(Spend time before Jesus in the Tabernacle asking him.)
In the Confession:
Say: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Say to the priest: “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.”
And then say: “It has been ……..….since my last Confession.” (How many weeks, months or years)
Then tell the priest what sins you have committed. (Be humble and honest. Don’t hold back. Jesus wants to forgive you.)
The priest will give you some encouragement and a penance.
Then say the Act of Contrition prayer.
The priest will then absolve (forgive) you of your sins. (The priest is acting in the person of Jesus Christ; it is Jesus who is forgiving you. Take courage in this.)
After the priest says, “go in peace” you say “thank you”.
Go and do your penance.
Come up with ways to change your habits with the sins you are struggling with.
Everyday ask God for His help so that you can grow in the virtues that are opposite your sins.
Act of Contrition
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy.
Confession is a great sacrament. We all need it….and we all need it regularly. I go to confession every time I meet with my spiritual director, which is about once a month.
I have been very impressed by how many people do come to Confession regularly, here at St. Mary. I keep adding time for Confessions and, it seems that more and more people then come. I also know that there are people that really struggle and are intimidated by Confession. There is a lot of fear. “What will the priest think of me when he hears my sins?”…. “Doesn’t God already know my sins…why do I need to confess them to a priest?” These are two questions that come up when some one is struggling with it.
I always tell people, my admiration for people goes up, not down, when they sincerely confess and repent of their sins. This is especially true of people that have done some really bad things but truly want to change their life.
With regard to the second question above, Yes….God knows your sins…..He knows everything, but He desires to for you to repent and ask for his mercy. He wants the love that should be between you and Him to be real, not just one sided. This requires us taking responsibility for our thoughts, words and actions and entrusting them to Him completely…just like in any other relationship.
Also, if it has been a long time since your last Confession, don’t worry, there is only one way to solve that problem….come.
If you have ever felt that your prayer life, or your relationship with God was stuck in a rut. Often it is because we forgot hove to be truly open to him and humbly trust him and his church. Confession can help pull us out of that rut.
Next week I will include the basic format of Confession.
Catholic parents have many different reactions to Halloween. Some see the side that glorifies…..or at least makes light of…. evil, death, and all kinds of vices; thus, should be avoided at all costs. That reaction is justifiable. Other parents see it as harmless fun that should not be taken so seriously.
I would like to offer a different thought about it. Our society is looking for something that gives life some meaning and excitement. Without some direction it will slowly slide down the path of the secular and banal. People will get so excited about sports, movies and political intrigue….but when it comes to God….it is boring for them.
Halloween used to be the celebration of the saint-heroes that helped us to strive for Heaven and God, and to boldly act with courage to stand up for all that is good and right. We still see a version of that desire when the kids dress up as Iron Man and Batman and other superheroes. But those superheroes are fiction, they are just the fruit of our imagination. The saints are real people that wanted what we want, to be heroic, and believe in something that raises the world up, rather than something that slowly degrades to superficiality and emptiness. Halloween was born out of the desire to celebrate Divine greatness. It was meant to be a day that celebrates “all the hallowed ones”; or in other words, all the saints.
One of the beautiful consequences of celebrating our saints is that we begin to feel the excitement of trying to become one ourselves!!
Here is an update on a few things happening at St. Mary and St. Anne.
At St. Anne, we are moving forward with the plans to install a storage building next to the existing hall. This building will be installed in the beginning of December.
Also, at St. Anne, we are moving forward with the retrofit of the bell tower. This means that the original bell will be restored to the tower. The tower will be structurally reinforced and restored. This is to be done in November.
At St. Mary, we are having problems keeping the boiler working for the office and hall.
We lost heat last week because the pump went out. We are looking at possible options for a new heating system for the building.
Also, at St. Mary, we are working on the fence/wall by the cemetery. I gave a detailed explanation of this project several months ago. We are trying to control pedestrian, bicycle and car traffic through our property. Also, we have an incredible amount of trash that is thrown into the cemetery. This is going to help with these things.
Also, all of our programs are up and running….this is going to be a great year!!!
All Saints Day - Friday, November 1 st : (This is a Holy Day of Obligation)
All Souls Day – Saturday, November 2 nd :
For about a year now, our parish has had a group of parents meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a homeschool program for children here at St. Mary. This program is a bit different because it will be a combination of being home-based and will have some components taught at the parish. This format is attractive to the families that want to do homeschooling and have an opportunity for their children to interact with others in a Catholic faith-based learning environment.
The committee is making progress in their discernment and planning process. Currently, we are calling it a Discipleship Academy. I mention it just so that you can pray for them, and so that, if you had questions about it, you can contact myself or Daniel Roberson. Daniel is the chair of the committee.
Ps Upcoming events: Sept 25th – Nov. 3rd - 40 days for life, (Peacefully praying for an end to abortion at the Planned Parenthood in Everett.) Every Wednesday 3pm-4pm (If you would like to carpool, we leave St. Mary at 2:30pm). Every Saturday our Hispanic group prays from 2pm-3pm. (For carpooling, they leave St. Mary at 1:30pm.)
First, you have or will be getting mailings from the Archdiocese of Seattle about the Called to Serve Capital campaign. I talked a little about it this last week at Mass. This campaign to raise funds for the endowment for supporting our priests in their retirement, for their medical insurance, and for the support of our retired Religious sisters that served in our Archdiocese. Please consider making a financial commitment to this campaign.
Second, we have a lot of things going on right now. I have listed a few things below so you can include them in your prayers.
Please pray for:
The adults that are beginning the RCIA inquiry phase of classes next week.
Pray for there discernment and commitment to the process.
The youth in Confirmation. That they can see Christ’s love for them and that internal beauty of their ability to love Him in return, that so often seems hidden to them.
For the 40 Days for Life and for all moms and dads that are considering abortion.
For the Grupo de Oracion prayer group and for their continued openness to growing in holiness.
Fr. Peter PS
Sept 25th – Nov. 3rd - 40 days for life, (Peacefully praying for an end to abortion at the Planned Parenthood in Everett.) Every Wednesday 3pm-4pm (If you would like to carpool, we leave St. Mary at 2:30pm). Every Saturday our Hispanic group prays from 2pm-3pm. (For carpooling, they leave St. Mary at 1:30pm.)
When I was 16 years old, I chose St. Francis of Assisi to by my Confirmation saint. I loved animals and so I thought I had a connection with St. Francis. But it would not be for another 25 years before I would discover the real beauty of St. Francis’ life.
My love for animals, in many ways was a very selfish thing. As a teenager struggling to fit in in life, I would see animals as being safe, nonjudgmental, totally accepting. In loneliness and depression for many people this is a great comfort. However, this is not St. Francis at all. His source of comfort was not in animals, nor any other earthly thing. His love would come to reflect Christ’s love and see Him in all things.
St. Francis could not look at a single thing without seeing the love of the One who created it. His love for God had no barriers. He saw God and his love in everyone and everything.
His love was truly magnanimous. Because of this he had a deep love for detachment and poverty. He did not what to possess things or own things. As soon as he felt the desire to own something, to posses it, to control it, he would lose the ability to see God shining through it. Poverty was his way of protecting this great freedom. This was the source of all his joy.
St. Francis could see Christ in a sparrow chirping in the trees and in a hardened sinner beating him and leaving him on the side of the road. He could see God in the littlest flower and in a person disfigured by leprosy. He saw God in all things. His feast day is October 4th .
Blessings, Fr. Peter
P.S: Upcoming events:
In one of our meetings a couple of weeks ago a person in the group mentioned a famous phrase that says, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things, charity.” I have been thinking a lot about this quote, lately. These three important movements that we try have as Christians in our lives are all dependent on humility.
And lastly, we need humility so that we always show respect and charity, no matter what the situation is.
Here is an example of these three in action:
Let us pray for humility.
P.S. Upcoming events:
I mentioned St. Therese in my homily this last week. I wanted to share with you something I found on her written by Thomas McDonald. St. Therese’s parents are the only married couple to be canonized saints in modern history. In his article Thomas says, “[Her parents], saints Louis and Zelie Martin maintained a faith-filled household of love and joy, raising five daughters who became nuns, among them St. Therese of Lisieux. Zelie died of breast cancer at age 45, leaving Louis with five daughters aged 4 to 17. He created an ordered and stable life for them, filled with games, prayer, and spiritual reading. In time, though, his mental state began to decline, perhaps caused by strokes, and he would display erratic behavior, sometimes disappearing for days.
His strange behavior and wandering became a problem for the family, ultimately leading them to institutionalize him in Caen, where the Daughters of the Good Savior operated a psychiatric hospital. Louis and his family met the challenge with faith, believing this was a trial sent to purify them. In a moment of clarity,
Louis told a doctor, “I know why the Good God has given me this trial: I have never had any humiliations in my life, and I need to have some.”
Of this time, St. Therese would write, In Heaven, we shall enjoy dwelling on these dark days of exile. Yet the three years of my Father’s martyrdom seem to me the sweetest and most fruitful of our lives. I would not exchange them for the most sublime ecstasies, and my heart cries out in gratitude for such a priceless treasure: “We have rejoiced for the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us.” Precious and sweet was this bitter cross, and our hearts only breathed out sighs of grateful love. We no longer walked—we ran, we flew along the path of perfection.”
With so many families today struggling to help and care for family members with mental health issues it is beautiful to see how their family, full of the love of God, came to see God’s love even more in this affliction.
The feast day for St. Therese is October 1st. Her autobiography is called, “A Story of a Soul”.
P.S. Upcoming events: We will be doing our St. Francis feast day blessing of the animals on Friday, Oct. 4th at 4pm outside the church.
On Monday, September 9th, we celebrate the life of St. Peter Claver. He was a Jesuit that lived in the early 1600’s. When he was early in his studies he came to know a very holy man named Alphonsus. Alphonsus, who would become known as St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, would tell him that God was going to send him to the new world, so he should prepare himself. This did happen. He was sent to Colombia. At that time Colombia was a major port for the trafficking of slaves from Africa. St. Peter would dedicate his entire life to serving the slaves in any way he could. Sometimes it was just bringing them fresh food, clothing, or medicine. But he brought more than that. His love for them brought them to the feet of Jesus. It is estimated that he baptized and catechized nearly 300,000 slaves during his lifetime. Sometimes, because of not having translators, he would teach with pictures. He became quite good at it. His love also awoken the consciences of many people to reject the cruelty of the slave trade. It was only after his death that many people began to change their attitude on slavery.
Holiness shines brightest when it is surrounded by darkness. Perhaps the greatest spiritual victory of St. Peter was not giving in to discouragement and doubt when very few helped him during his life. But because he refused to quit, eventually the victims and the perpetrators of the slave trade were impacted by Christ’s presence on the docks in Cartagena, Colombia.
PS: It is official, as of September 3rd,2019, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Peter Sartain and so Archbishop Paul Etienne is now the official Archbishop of our Archdiocese of Seattle.
On September 5th there is a feast day that is not on your church calendars that you received from the parish at the beginning of the year. I am not sure why. It is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. While on her way to a retreat when she was a young Loretto sister she experienced a call from God to start a new order that would help the poorest and forgotten.
As I was reading a little bit on her life, I came across the following quote. I think her words here help us realize that even when someone receives a clear message from God it is not the beginning of something easy, but it is the beginning of taking up the cross.
“Teresa wrote in her diary that her first year was fraught with difficulty. With no income, she begged for food and supplies and experienced doubt, loneliness and the temptation to return to the comfort of convent life during these early months:
Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then, the comfort of Loreto [her former congregation] came to tempt me. "You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again", the Tempter kept on saying ... Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.”
Even for a great saint, there is no escaping moments of desperation and difficulties. To persevere and surrender all to Jesus is the only way in these moments.
This next week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, we celebrate a mother and son combo, St. Monica and St. Augustine. Many mothers (and fathers) have struggled with a son or daughter that leaves the faith. This often causes the parents distress and anxiety. This is were St. Monica teaches us a better path.
Augustine was, like many kids, adventurous and rebellious. St. Monica prayed and prayed for the conversion of her son. He eventually did come back to the faith and would go on to become one of the greatest and influential theologians that the Catholic church has ever had.
The legacy of St. Monica was not like her son’s which was to influence the entire church for last 1500 years. Her legacy was to bring one person back to the faith. But because her faith and love helped bring the one person back, he helped countless people come to faith. So, in sense, she helped start it all by helping one person come back.
I mention this because we have many parishioners that are struggling with one or more their kids having left the faith. True faith is knowing that God is at work and there is no room for fear. In other words, her desire for the conversion of her son was not motivated by fear, but by complete faith and love of God.
We should not fear anything, even when things are not going as planned. If we are following God and living in complete trust and love of Him there is nothing to fear. This means that nagging, begging, threatening are not the best way to help bring their child home. These are all done out of fear. Instead, live with persistent joy of the Gospel, authenticity of one’s love and faith and complete confidence in God’s will.
St. Monica and St. Augustine, pray for us!
Our human nature is to hide our problems. We do this because of the shame and embarrassment that often follows. As children we did this when we “got caught” doing something our parents told us not to do. What was our response to the phrase, “Junior, did you do this….?” “No, that wasn’t me!”.
This temptation is true in our families. Instead of confronting bad behavior we try to ignore it or “sweep it under the carpet” and hope it does not happen again.
I say this because with all the shootings we have been having there were always warning signs. The friends and family saw signs that these individuals were thinking about doing something really bad.
True love is helping others even when it is difficult. Sometimes this means talking to professionals about things going on in our families, especially when there are signs of disturbing behavior that could lead to self-harm or worse.
If your conscience is telling you that something is not right with a friend or family member, don’t be afraid to get professionals involved. This may start with talking to your parish priest, deacon, teacher, trusted friend, or parent. From there, there can be other avenues for more professional help if needed. Never hesitate to call 911 if there is ever a serious abuse or a threat to life. It is always better to be too careful then not careful enough. My own personal experience is that law enforcement and medical personnel really do want to help us when we are in need.
Also, spiritually speaking, feel free to bring questions to the sacrament of Confession. Here, you can ask anonymously and get some guidance.
And lastly, always, always, always bring all these things to Jesus in your daily prayer. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us on the right path when we are not sure what to do.
This coming week, in addition to our big parish feast day of the Assumption of Mary on Thursday, August 15th, we have the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe on August 14th .
St. Maximilian Kolbe, as a child, had a vision in which our Blessed Mother offered him two possible crowns, the white crown of purity or the red crown of martyrdom. His response was, “I choose both!”. As a Franciscan brother he faithfully pledged his life to purity by living his vows of chaste celibacy. As a prisoner of war under the third Reich of the Nazis he would die by giving his life in exchange for the life of another prisoner, thus receiving the red crown of martyrdom. Both are crowns of love.
But perhaps there is another crown that he received, the crown of creative wisdom. He had an uncanny ability to create ways to reach people with the teachings of our faith. He founded a publication that would reach thousands of people in a time that would be filled with the darkness and death of the war. Also, the Militia Immaculatae, “Mary’s Army”, a group he founded, is still a group that operates throughout the world today.
I suppose I owe my own vocation to him. The retreat that I attended in 1997 was the retreat in which I first began my discernment to the priesthood. It was organized by the Militia Immaculatae.
On August 14, 1941, St. Maximilian entered heaven, the day before we celebrate Mary entering Heaven on August 15th .
P.S. Mark your calendars for our parish feast day coming up! Thursday, August 15th, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
I would like to inform you about some changes to our staff. These are being made in anticipation of next year’s programs and based on improvements we are trying to make.
Last year, we had two staff members relocate out of state quite suddenly and so we needed a quick solution. I am very happy with how everyone helped to pull everything together.
This coming year we need a more complete solution, especially with regard to some administrative tasks in the office, organization of our RCIA program, and our very large Confirmation program.
Because of this, Selena Vergara-Valdez, who is currently our receptionist, will be changing positions. She will be assisting Daniel Roberson with doing most of the bookkeeping tasks while he remains as an overseer of those tasks. Selena will also oversee the organization of our RCIA program and Confirmation program. In addition to this Selena will be directly in charge of the teaching of RCIA for the Hispanic community.
Because of these changes, we are currently hiring for the position of Receptionist. We will have the details of this position in the bulletin and in our Sunday announcements.
I would like to thank Ann Velasco for her time working with us on staff this last year. She has been an incredible help. She will no longer be on staff but will be helping us as a volunteer with our faith formation testing.
I would also like to thank Liana Pricer for all her time and care that she has shown in teaching the RCIA program for our Hispanic community. I truly appreciate everything that she has done.
PS Mark your calendars for our parish feast day coming up! Thursday, August 15th, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
I would like to offer some thoughts about protecting yourself and your family members, especially your kids with internet usage.
The internet can be incredibly useful and good for our world; however, it can be incredibly dangerous for our young people. Here are some rules that can be very helpful about protecting your kids. These rules are especially important if your child is spending too much time on the internet or if their behavior is changing in a negative way.
Here is one example: https://www.covenanteyes.com/support-articles/tips-for-parents/
This Friday is the feast day of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary. Like several other notable couples in the Bible, they struggled to conceive a child. Mary’s coming was not planned. In being open to God’s creative designs, they needed to surrender their plans. Everything in our lives these days seems to be planned.
Recently there was a movie released about the story of Abby Johnson’s life that was called “Unplanned”. It is a story about how she worked for Planned Parenthood and would later come to oppose the abortion movement. Her change of heart was not planned, on her part, but was the process opening up to God’s creative design.
When we pray, we can pray that God will complete our plans. But our plans are usually stale, boring and involve no trust or faith in God. Instead, pray for an adventurous heart in bringing God’s creative designs to completion. There is such freedom in “unplanning” our lives and instead living by God’s creative and grace-filled designs.
I have referred in several of my homilies to a movie called, “Risen”. We just ordered a couple of DVD copies of the movie. These are for you to borrow, so that you can watch it at home. They should be available in the next couple of days.
Cemetery update: There is a large pine tree in the cemetery that is leaning quite badly. A tree expert was brought in to assess the danger. He verified that the tree needs to be cut down. The tree is pulling up its roots and is only a matter time before it falls. Cemetery funds will be used to remove the tree.
Please mark your calendars: Thursday evening, August 15th! This is our parish feast day of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will have an evening Mass and a big parish party after.
We are entering back into a time in the year called “Ordinary Time”. It is tempting to think of ordinary time as “nothing” time, because there is nothing special happening; or as “vacation” time, because we are not doing much, the kids are done with their church classes and are done with school, etc. However, “Ordinary” should be more like “ordinary work-week” time. This is the time that we do what we ordinarily would want God to be doing; namely, working in our daily lives. We don’t want God to do “nothing” or to be on “vacation”. This is the time to do the normal routine of living our faith, just like the routine of Monday-Friday. This is the time for us to do the normal work of living our faith every day. That routine is marked by some time each day of praying alone, with one’s spouse, and with the family; every day doing the little acts of charity that a good Catholic should be doing at work, home, school, in the car, or on vacation; reading and learning something about the faith; and bringing Jesus with you where ever God may lead you this summer.
For those traveling: www.Masstimes.org is a great website to find the nearest Catholic church where ever you may be this summer. It helps kids to grow and mature in their faith when parents include faith on vacation. Praying the rosary together when driving is also a great way to pray together.
Please pray for our kids camp this week. It is being led by Dominican sisters from Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.