Friday, December 15, 2017

Increasing Light of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

We got our Advent wreath out of the attic and set it up. Our granddaughter was excited about it, probably because it was lit and aflame. I think it is a wonderful metaphor for our progression through Advent. This is a time of preparation and hope. We look forward with bright intentions to the birth of Christ when all sorts of miracles will occur at his hand and because of him. At first we have just one small flame. It can dimly light a small room. We can hardly make out what is in the shadows. It can be a beautiful experience with one candle. Things close are illuminated while things father away are hidden in the background. What is close begins to be seen. We can attend to our lives before us. What God has given us becomes clear. With two candles lit, we see a little better. Our eyes adjust and the light is sufficient to see another's face or to see our own hands. Those people in our lives become clear. We can see in the two candle light, those we love. We are brought together by the light to see our family. At three candles, the room is brighter. The light is fuller. I can now see the guest at the table with us, the friend, relative or neighbor. Perhaps the stranger that someone else invited can be seen. We can see the contours of their face, we begin to know them. A community is forming under the brightening light. With four candles, the light is bright and opens up the room. The space becomes bigger. The small voice we heard at one candle is now audible, and we can hear voices in harmony. The room is full, we notice. At four candles, our hope is big and our anticipation is high. We are taken outside of the dinner space into the night where the light from our candles brightens even the sky, and there we see a star coming to us bringing joy and a love not felt before. Our four candles open our lives and renew our spirits. It is not our little world that we attend to now but the larger world outside ourselves, our families, our community. It is the touch of God on our world and what that touch brings and how it is wrapped up in a little baby who would be our king and savior. May your Advent bring you increasing joy as God’s light increases within you.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“O My child, use your voice always for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, December 8, 2017

It's Advent. You're Invited!

Dear Parishioners,

Today’s gospel takes us to the desert where we meet John the Baptist (Mark 1:1-8). The desert had a special significance for Israel. It was there that God spent 40 years with his people leading them, instructing them, feeding them, and disciplining them to prepare them for the promised land. Although God had taken his people out of Egypt, he had difficulty in taking Egypt out of his people. They longed for the security and sustenance (food and drink). It was a time of testing and purification which eventually led them into a close relationship with God.

John’s appearance in the desert is a reminder of those days of long ago. His proclamation of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins was an invitation for the people to prepare for a new relationship with God.

Advent is a time for us to do the same as we prepare for Christmas. We, too, are invited to enter a spiritual desert through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and especially the Sacrament of Penance. If we do, we can expect to experience the refrain of this week’s psalm “Lord, let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation.” (Ps 85:9-14)
Fr. Carl

“We must love while we suffer, and we must suffer if we love.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, December 1, 2017

Slow Down, It’s Advent

Dear Parishioners,

As we begin our journey to the manger, where the whole world stops and takes a deep breath, let us pause as well. Our world is a frenzied, chaotic whirlwind of activity made worse by the likes of Black Friday and the splurge that is the Christmas Holidays. Don't go there. A young couple is making their way to Bethlehem for the census of the world as dictated by Caesar Augustus. They have had something of a difficult time. The man, a just man named Joseph, had contemplated leaving his betrothed Mary, but upon the instruction in a dream, decided against it (Matthew 1:18-25). Mary for her part, has had things to contemplate in her heart since a visit by an angel. She has since visited her cousin and had a wonderful and interesting visit with her, who is also pregnant. Her cousin noted that her child leaped in her womb when Mary and her baby approached (Luke 1:39-45). With all that has happened, it has certainly been a time to remember. They find themselves talking and reflecting. She is so young and gentle and open. He is older and perhaps more quiet and reserved. Do they know what is about to happen? Do they know the cosmic movements that they are a part of, the unfolding plan which has been in the mind of God for so long? Does she know completely the child she is carrying? Let us sit with the reality we know while they journey. Let us breathe slowly in anticipation of the events to come. Let us focus our attention on the couple, on whose shoulders rest such a great occasion that will overshadow the actions of many who are great and powerful. Let us whisper our prayers for them and listen for the soft sounds of hooves as they make their way through the Judean countryside. May God be with you Mary and Joseph! But of course, He is!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“When we are walking in the streets, let us f ix our eyes on our Lord bearing his Cross before us; on the Blessed Virgin who is looking at us; on our Guardian Angel who is by our side.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, November 24, 2017

Helping The Poor

Dear Parishioners,

I hope you and your families had a good Thanksgiving as you relaxed, reconnected with one another, and reflected on the many blessings we enjoy here in America. We have so many reasons to give thanks to God. Still, we have many needy people in our country, and we cannot forget them. Fortunately, we have some ways of helping here at St. Jane’s. There is monthly casserole making for Our Daily Bread, monthly collection of non-perishable food for NCEON (North County Emergency Outreach Network), and the weekly poor box collection sent to help the poor. We help many needy people.

This week we celebrate the Solemnity Christ the King of the Universe who has a very close and personal connection with the poor. In this week’s gospel of the Last Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46), we see the king reward those who were kind to the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and prisoners (in other words, the poor). Let us try to grow in our stewardship by connecting with Jesus who self-identifies with his friends, the poor.

Fr. Carl

“Alas! If we put all our trust in God, how much happier we should be!”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, November 17, 2017

Back To Virtue

Dear Parishioners,

Back to Virtue
I have been reading a book by Peter Kreeft called Back to Virtue about our need to return to lives of virtue. He speaks of the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, courage, and moderation, and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. He weaves these virtues around a discussion of the beatitudes (blessed are the peacemakers…). I wonder about what happened to these virtues? I have atheist friends who are nice people. You probably do as well. They wouldn’t kill or steal. They would probably measure up well to the Ten Commandments. But I reflect on them with sadness for their perspective is limited in that they are in this life by themselves. They live by self-chosen standards, and their view is that when they die, that is all. Game over. This life is all they have. I have a friend who is a nice person, but he wants almost desperately to have important memorable experiences. He has to fill his time with things and events. I guess that is well and good. But I do things hopefully with a greater purpose in mind. I try to make God my standard, coming from his revelation in scripture, the words and actions of his son, Jesus, and his spirit which motivates me.

The attitude of Job is important here. In this life, when difficulty hits, when pain and sorrow are present, belief in God is an asset and a consolation. I can rely on God’s truths. I try to live in him, through him, and with him. I believe that God is love, true love, ever growing and other centered. So I want to be virtuous, because those are qualities that have been handed down over the ages. They are not easy and fly in the face of our culture. I am not in it to get a reward or to feel good but to try to please God and to live up to his standards.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“Often in the course of the day, ask for the light of the Holy Spirit.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, November 10, 2017

Souls In Purgatory

Dear Parishioners,

November is the month of the Souls in Purgatory as we celebrated Mass last Thursday for our beloved dead. It’s the one day of the year that I wear black vestments as a sign of mourning for my deceased parents and relatives as well as for yours. It’s a day we remember the blessing they were to us, as well as an opportunity to pray for their speedy entry into heaven, should they need some help, and help for those still in Purgatory who need our prayers. It’s one of the 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy and a noble and excellent way of acting. However, it should not end on November the 2nd. The entire month should be a time during which we regularly remember and pray for the dead. After all, they are still part of the Church (the Church Suffering) while we (the Church Militant) fight through prayer and sacrifice for their joining with the Saints (the Church Triumphant) in the kingdom of heaven. As we remember our beloved dead, we ought to look ahead to our departure from this world. Have you looked to see if your will is up to date? Have you made plans for your funeral? Certainly there ought to be a Mass as that will greatly shorten the time spent in Purgatory. Have you left some money in your will for the poor and the Church? One spiritual writer once said that entry into heaven requires a reference from the poor, as our Lord had a special affection for them. Finally, this week’s first reading talks about wisdom (Wisdom 6:12-16). The wise virgins were ready for their master’s arrival (Matthew 25:1-13). May we imitate their readiness through prayer, service, and sacrifice to God and neighbor.

Fr. Carl

“The sun never hides his light for fear of inconveniencing the owls.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, November 3, 2017

Remembering Those Gone Before Us

Dear Parishioners,

As you read this, we commemorated All Saints and All Souls days this past week. I have been thinking about those who have gone before. Personally, I am thinking about my father, who died when I was 19, and my grandparents. My family was not a calm and peaceful place due to many factors. So I remember these family members not as simple relationships but as people with interesting lives who touched me in different ways. My grandfather was a cook on a Navy submarine. He one time filled several cereal bowls with all the cereal in the box to prove to his stubborn grandson, myself, that the toy on the picture was not in the box! My grandmother who, when we lived with her during one of my parent's separations, locked my brothers and I in our room on Saturday morning, so she could sleep later. It was reasonable, because if not, we would take a blanket and surf down the long stairway like a roller coaster! My other grandfather I never knew. He came to America from Greece, in an arranged marriage. He stayed briefly, became ill, and leaving his pregnant wife, went back to Greece shortly to die. And so, my personal heritage is before me. But also at Mass, we call upon the Saints and all those who have gone before us. We call upon an angel to take our sacrifice to the heavenly altar, and we remember the Holy Father and our Archbishop. We are a communal church, and this is most evident when we celebrate Eucharist during these holy days. We pray to the Communion of Saints to intercede for us.
Dear Lord, we thank you for our Church, eternal Church, Church throughout the world, and the church called St. Jane Frances. We remember and honor all who have built this Church, the many countless people whose toil and riches were poured into these places, so that all may revere God and carry on a relationship with His Son. Thank you Lord, for the benefit of their hard lives and labor. Let us continue on and give this gift to those who will come after us.
Blessings,
Deacon Steve


“To preserve Purity, three things are necessary; the practice of the Presence of God, prayer, and the Sacraments; and again, the reading of holy books—this nourishes the soul .”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars