Friday, May 7, 2021

Hail Mary, Full Of Grace

Dear Parishioners, 

May is Mary’s month. The weather has been pleasant, sunny, and warm. I imagine it to be like Mary’s disposition. When I think of Mary, I recall her “Yes” to the angel of God. Yes to being the mother of our Lord. Yes to a life she was probably not expecting. Yes to a major role in the history of the world. Yes to her contribution to the life of her son. Mary’s humanity was given freely to Jesus. His love and mercy, his self-giving spirit, his obedience to the Father—all these reflect also the disposition of his mother. 

How can we judge our own “Yes” in faith compared to Mary’s? I have said yes to marriage, probably not really knowing what I was getting into. I said yes to having kids, again not knowing the full life-changing decision that would be. I was ignorant but hopeful, willing to take the risk tempered by optimism. I said yes to the deaconate, not really knowing how I would be changed by the journey but open to God’s hand in my life. These pale to the enormity of Mary’s yes. Her yes further opened the door to God’s intervention and revelation in this world. Her yes was not the whole of it, but it began the revelation of God in earnest. 

The birth of Christ was given a place, a time, a family and a person in Mary. Like the gears of a huge clock turning through the years, churning through the centuries, Mary’s yes was the clock striking the significant hour that resounded through the universe. God’s plan was made real. It stood on the simple yes of a very young woman whose assent flung open the movement of God’s goodness and love. The spirit was released and rested upon her, sending grace into her life in a way not seen before. Mary, Mother of God, how can we thank you, how can we love you, how can we adore you enough? This month of Mary, let us contemplate the ways we can fashion our yes to God after hers. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

 

“Never be afraid of loving Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
- St. Maximilian Kolbe

Friday, April 30, 2021

No “Free Lunch”

Dear Parishioners,

This past weekend, a number of our children made their first Holy Communion, receiving Jesus’ body and blood, soul and divinity for the very first time. And I tried to impress upon them and their parents the
importance of this sacrament. Of the seven, it is the only one we call the “Blessed Sacrament,” because this food doesn’t just become a part of us. We become a part of it and become one with Jesus and the other members of the Church. We enter into a common union, and strengthen it by our prayers and sacrifices. 

This weekend it is fitting that Jesus refers to himself as the vine and ourselves as the branches. The vine carries the nourishment for the branches and keeps them alive so that they can provide fruit. The branches depend on the vine, for without it, they cannot produce fruit. As branches of the vine, Jesus nourishes us with the Eucharist, expecting us to bear the fruit of obedience and love of God as well as love of neighbor.

With this great privilege of being in communion with Jesus and the Church comes the responsibility of being fruitful Catholics. Jesus refers to the unfruitful branches as withered and useless, and fit only to be thrown into the fire and burnt. That’s a wake up call for all of us and a reminder that there’s no such thing as a “free lunch.” However, great things await those who live in God’s words and bear much fruit, for they truly become Jesus’ disciples.

Fr. Carl

Friday, April 23, 2021

Thank You, Lord

Dear Parishioners,

I live with a two year old. Now for those of you who know, that means that there is always activity, always chatter, and always a little presence you have to be aware of. Because of Easter, we are doing egg hunts. This means we hide the 6 plastic eggs in plain sight, while the little one goes and finds them. There used to be more! She gets so excited even when it is hidden in the same spot over and over. She doesn’t tire of the game. Something else that recently happened was that I pulled my phone from my pocket and out spilled the small wooden cross I have in my pocket. Little Harper saw this and said, “Baby Jesus!” We were all surprised even though we have read to her about the Nativity and other stories about Jesus. It told me that she has been touched by “Baby Jesus,” and that it is something we can build on and elaborate and connect to her life. 

For me, it also points to the hope and promise that Easter brings. Little Harper doesn’t know about the suffering that Christ went through, the wonderful things he did and said, and his position as Son of God. She doesn’t know about church history, or the Mass, or the Eucharist yet. But the ground has been tilled and the seed planted. God is sharing His life with her in a simple way, and the Holy Spirit is at work. 

The joy and beautiful morning of Easter has radiated out. The living presence of God is at work and has captured the mind and heart of another Christian, albeit a small and innocent one, whose new journey in Christ has only just begun. Thank you Lord for being with us. Thank you Lord for giving your life to us. Thank you for your promise and your loving presence that touches even the heart of a little child!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Dear Parishioners,

From time to time you hear the term “comfort food.” I never knew exactly what it meant, until I googled it. Originally used in a 1966 newspaper story, it was what adults under severe emotional stress turned to in order to bring back the security of childhood—like mother’s chicken soup. It had a sentimental or nostalgic appeal. These foods provide a temporary sense of well being and make a person feel good.

The disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced the ultimate “comfort food” on the road when they met Jesus and broke bread with Him (Lk 24:35-48). Beforehand, they were discouraged and running away from Jerusalem due to the apparent loss of all their hopes and dreams caused by the crucifixion. However, that meal of the breaking of the bread led to their reconnection with Jesus, a renewed hope, and the energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to return to Jerusalem. What great comfort they received!

There are times in our lives when we might feel as those disciples. And we, too, need an Emmaus experience with Jesus. Only we don’t have to take a long walk, because Jesus is here each weekend at Mass, providing the extreme comfort food “the breaking of bread” (the Eucharist).

Fr. Carl

Friday, April 9, 2021

Christ’s Gift Of Peace


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I hope that you had a meaningful and moving Easter celebration. For me, Easter is indeed the high point of the year. It comes with the beginning of Spring, so there is a sense of hope and new life in the air. I know that having to wear masks can be a hassle, but I am hopeful that the end of the pandemic is in sight. I want to ask you to do something. Wherever you are, stop what you are doing, pause, and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and conjure up an image of Jesus standing before you. He has been crucified and has suffered but has been raised up in resurrection. He is offering you His peace. He told his disciples, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you.” He is offering that peace to you as well. See Him opens his hands to you and smile at you, for you are his beloved. Can you relax your tension, your anxiety, your life plans and actions for a little while, and allow Christ to give you this gift?

The gift of Christ in Easter is His life for us and the promise of life with Him. Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday which reflects the meaning of Christ’s passion, suffering, death, and resurrection. God loves us truly, with our faults and blemishes, weaknesses and failures. But also in our good actions and loving relationships. We cannot be separated from Him. His mercy is divine and thus hard for us to understand and even comprehend. The God of Love cares for us, we are his people. We are the subjects of His care and attention. In our trials and pain, Christ is there wanting to ease our suffering. He is offering us peace. While the Easter season will last another month or so, let us work on believing in His peace and accepting it into our lives.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Happy Easter!

Dear Parishioners,

How different it is from last Easter to this Easter. No one was at Mass except the priest celebrant, one or two assistants, and the videographer. Thanks be to God, we will be able to accommodate many more this year. Still because of the virus, social distancing, and the reluctance of many to come out of concerns for their underlying health conditions and fear of the virus, attendance will be less than in previous years.

As the days grow longer, warmer, and brighter, so too does our morale. However, it’s not just the weather; it’s Easter! The joy of the Resurrection following the Passion and Crucifixion restores hope and brings joy to our hearts. Former baseball player, manager, and Hall of Fame member Leo “the Lip” Durocher once quipped, “Nice guys finish last.” That’s not really true in baseball, it’s not true in life, and it’s certainly not true about Jesus’ apparent defeat on Good Friday. He came back on Easter stronger than ever having shut out Satan, the forces of evil, and even death itself. So while the virus will present some difficulties in the days ahead, Jesus serves not only as an example of “Good” triumphing over “evil,” He also wants to be our companion in our journey through life.

Happy Easter!
Fr. Carl

Friday, March 26, 2021

Sacred Lessons Of Holy Week

Dear Parishioners,

Today we begin with Palm Sunday, the remembrance of the wondrous events of Holy Week. We remember all that happened so long ago. But if these events were only relegated to the past, something that happened to people long gone in a place that no longer exists, remembering would be nice but not particularly significant. This is by far not the case however. 

What happened in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago led to an eruption of energy that continues to reverberate today. The crucifixion of Christ and his glorious resurrection broke open the movement of God that significantly touches us today. Our lives were present in that terrible suffering of Christ. The mercy displayed in the love of God by the suffering of his Son continues to touch us. The powerful truth of the events of Holy week do not fade over time. God is constant in his love and mercy, and these do not come and go with the passing of time. 

The world changed those days in Jerusalem, and our lives were formed in many ways by those events. The purpose of our lives, the way we relate to one another, the importance of our families, how we look at our gifts, the liturgies we celebrate, our relationship with the living God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—all find their source in those ancient moments of profound significance. Christ endured pain and sorrow, betrayal and trial, adulation and mockery. Yet he spoke to us through those events clearly and with a strong voice, saying that his life was in service to ours, and our lives were to be for him and each other. He showed us how to be church and to be a community. He showed us what service, sacrifice, and love is. Let us be open this week to all these sacred lessons.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve