Here are a couple of images of saints that cared for the sick and poor with great charity and love. They are an inspiration for us, especially if we are tempted to give in to into the fear that surrounds the Coronavirus.
1) St. Aloysius Gonzaga was so attentive to the plague victims that his superiors forced him to stop out of fear he would contract it. He did go into the streets to bring dying men to the hospital. When the hospital had no more room, he allowed patients to use his own room. He would eventually die from the diseases of those he served and loved.
2) St. Theresa of Kolkata began her ministry to the sick and poor in India when there was a famine. She knew that she could not walk past the first person that she encountered that needed help, because if she did, she could walk past every person that needed help.
3) St. Vincent de Paul, by God’s providence would devote his life to caring for the poor in Rome and throughout France.
Pray for love, courage and for all that are caring for the victims of the Coronavirus.
“At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
I guess I never really thought about the above quote from the Gospel of Matthew. Why did the Spirit lead Jesus into the desert to be tempted? This ties in with the “Our Father” prayer when it says,”…and lead us not into temptation.” Yet, here in the desert, God leads him into temptation. Why?
I think God is saying, “Hey, it’s time to bring Satan’s reign to an end. Let’s go confront Satan. However, this is not the Spirit leading Jesus into the desert to confront Satan like two cowboys standing in the middle of the street in a dual. This is Jesus just being Jesus. He has no weapons other than truth and love. Satan tries to tempt Jesus to abandon both. This is more like the Spirit baiting Satan.
I think this is how God typically will try to work in our lives when we are ready to be at His service. He will lead us into situations to bait Satan. This means we must enter into the darkness of our world with the intent of saving those that are enslaved by evil.
So, this Gospel passage tells us how God works. He arms us with truth and love and sends us out to bait Satan.
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!!