Friday, February 16, 2018

Valetine's Gifts

Dear Parishioners,

February 14th is always Valentine’s Day and a time when couples show their love for one another through gifts of one kind or another. Of course, not every one has a significant other of the human kind, but we all have a significant other of the divine kind—God. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day and provides an opportunity for us to give God some special gifts to show our love for Him. The traditional gifts of chocolate and flowers don’t mean anything to God. Instead, He wants our prayers, almsgiving (money to the poor), and sacrifice. However, God doesn’t want these gifts just on Valentine’s Day. Because it’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, He desires 40 days of prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving.

In sharing gifts with our human significant others, we receive their love in return for a number of days, weeks, months, and years at the most. But in sharing our gifts of sacrifice and love with God, we receive his gifts of grace and love, and we can keep them for eternity. That’s love worth winning.

Father Carl

Friday, February 9, 2018

Lent: A Time Of Renewal

Dear Parishioners,

I think that the seasons of Lent and Easter are my favorites. They carry great power and meaning. Lent prepares us for the greatest mystery of the Church and its most profound events. The Passion of our Lord manifested within the context of Holy Week is a special time, extraordinary time, a time when the world stood still and when the world was immeasurably and irrevocably changed. But I am jumping ahead. This week, we experience the opening scene of Ash Wednesday that in and of itself should set our minds whirling. We declare that we are dust, we are reminded of our mortality, and we come face to face with the meaning of our death. If we truly let that settle into our psyche, it calls for an examination of our lives. What am I doing with my life? Where are my commitments taking me? How am I spending my time and energy?

The dark mark placed on our foreheads serves as a sign that we are marked as a people. We have a calling beyond ourselves. We know who we are and what we stand for. We are men and women of Christ. Our lives are not ours but are His. As we have these several weeks to prepare for the Easter days ahead, let us make sacrifices, take ourselves out of the ordinary, and open a space within our lives in a new way for Christ. Let us open ourselves to God with a new devotion, a new habit, a new prayer, a new energy. Let this time be one of renewal. Let us take hold of ourselves and focus our time in cleansing preparation so that we may walk fully with Christ during his last days. He gives us the gift of salvation. Let us be ready to fully know this gift in our souls.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, February 2, 2018

Suffering

Dear Parishioners,

In today’s first reading, Job is down in the dumps (Jb 7:1-4, 6-7). He sees his current life as one of drudgery and misery. Many of us have had times in our lives where we feel the same. And when the weather is dreary and overcast as it has been recently, our morale is impacted even more. If we are not careful, those feelings can lead to depression. However, when we look at the passion and death of Jesus, we realize our problems can’t compare. Furthermore, we can see our suffering as an opportunity to connect more intimately with Jesus. As St. John Vianney said, “We complain when we suffer. We have more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing so likens us to the Lord as the bearing of His cross.” When looked upon this way, our suffering and misery quickly fade into the background.

Fr. Carl

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How Is Your Prayer Life?

Dear Parishioners,

How is your prayer life? I know it is a simple question, but it can be hard to answer. Are you spending enough time in prayer? I know, I know that there is a lot going on in your life. Time is in short supply. But one of the pillars of our faith is prayer. Christ got away often and prayed, so much so that his disciples would go looking for him. He left the crowds following him so he could pray.

Prayer is our primary communication channel with God. He hears our prayer. Now we may not get a quick response, but God is always on the other end of the line. It has also been said that God knows what we are praying about even before we pray. Prayer centers us and yet also takes us outside ourselves into the reality of God to whom we speak in our prayer.

Prayer opens us up to God who easily reads our heart. Our attitude in prayer is akin to contemplation, a quiet consideration, a flowing dialogue with God, an openness to something larger than ourselves. We grow through prayer into a greater relationship with God. Our spiritual vocabulary increases as we pray. The depth of our relationship with Christ increases as we ask, express, honor, complain, and give thanksgiving to God. Of course, the Holy Spirit is involved with all of this, because it is the Spirit who helps us to speak and to listen to God. The Spirit softens the ground of our being, so we are ready to be in relationship with God.

On Sunday evening, February 11 at 6:30 in the church, we will hold another prayer service under the title of Bridge to Christ. This is an opportunity to pray for someone in your family, a colleague, or friend who has drifted from God. We are the bridge that can connect others to Christ. That bridge is prayer and the example of our lives. Please consider attending.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Depend on Change

Dear Parishioners,

I have been around long enough to know that things change—always. I thought a lot about retirement as it got closer, and frankly, it isn’t what I had envisioned. Things change. But I am reminded as well, that God does not change. He is fundamentally and essentially the same. His Law of Love continues to shroud us in warmth and care. Even when times are rough, his presence is reassuring, his consolation strong and supportive.

Scripture remains a source of wisdom and insight into life. It is still the greatest story ever told, a view of the divine none of us have access to on our own. God is always available to us, as close as prayer. I believe he is also in the kind words we say to each other, in those moments of quiet giving, in our sacrifices, in our gentleness, in our care to one another. God’s strength is not something that gets used up. Rather it is like the flame of a candle that is shared with other candles. It does not diminish or lose its luster when given away. God’s energy is endless. His desire for goodness in us and for us is always available. We cannot sap God’s energy. Even when we sin, he continues to hope for our turning again toward him. He judges our weaknesses and prunes us if necessary, but then is there with mercy and love. Our world is not perfect nor are we, but God continues to push us to be perfect, perfect in love, perfect in joy, perfect in our kindness and generosity. And as we call out to him in our need, God will hear us and offer us his consolation. Let us trust and depend upon this great God of the universe, this creator God, this loving God, this God who was incarnate and walked among us. In him, we can depend.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Use Time Wisely

Dear Parishioners,

This week after the Christmas season, we return to what the Church calls “Ordinary Time” and so called after ordinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It does this to distinguish it from the liturgical seasons – Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. Actually, time isn’t ordinary at all. Along with space and matter, it was created by God. Before the creation of the world, time didn’t exist. We often take time for granted, but we shouldn’t. We are only given so much of it in this life, and unlike money, we can’t get any more of it. Queen Elizabeth I as she lay dying allegedly said, “I would give away all my possessions for just one more day on earth.” Hopefully, we will use our time wisely so that we will look forward to leaving time here to enter eternity with Jesus, Mary and the saints.

In the gospel today (John 1:35-42), we see John, Andrew, and Peter using their time wisely by spending it with Jesus, not only that day but every day. Is there a message there for you and me?

Fr. Carl

“Ask our Lord for the grace to think only of him and to desire only to please him in all you do during your whole life.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year!

Dear Parishioners,

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a blessed Christmas and that 2018 has started out well for you and your family.

In spite of the frigid weather, my heart was warmed by the crowds at the Christmas Masses and your generous donations. One unexpected blessing came from the estate of a deceased parishioner. It was a very substantial amount for which I am very grateful. It also reminded me to review my own will and make a few revisions. If you are looking for a good practical resolution for 2018, I recommend you do the same. In the process, please don’t forget St. Jane’s who connects you to Jesus. After all, she is our mother having given us life through baptism and nourishment through the sacraments.

May God bless you and your family throughout 2018.

Fr. Carl

“All the angels and saints are engaged in trying to prevent us from committing sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars