Do What He Tells You

Posted: May 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

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After an incredibly grace filled Mission with Fr Dave Pivonka where we were reminded of the importance of living in the freedom that comes from The Holy Spirit
this is the perfect time to enter into a new commitment as we journey closer towards Pentecost. Oftentimes, many of us can be so geared up throughout the Lenten season that we “take it down a notch” once Easter time comes. Lenten disciplines are supposed to better equip us for the Spiritual lifestyle that is demanded of all who are called to follow Christ, for all who are called to be saints, and that includes all of Gods creatures. Possibly the greatest example we can follow is the Holy Mary, spouse of the Spirit, the Blessed Mother, the perfect disciple.
Throughout the month of May we are encouraged to reflect upon her example and to invoke her intercession as we prepare to enter The Upper Room and experience our very own new Pentecost. Mary was open to God’s will throughout her witness in Sacred Scripture. From the beginning when she was visited by Archangel Gabriel, though she did not understand, she proclaimed “Let it be done unto me, according to Your will”, to the end when she remained present with her dying son at the foot of the cross. She was surely present in the upper room when the Spirit of God descended upon the disciples and must have journeyed with St John as he looked to proclaim the Good News.
Mary continues today as she did in the scriptures, by opening her hands and pointing the way to her son. It is, as it was at Cana, when approached, she will remind us to “do what He tells us”. Regardless of where we are on the journey, we can always approach our Mother Mary. She is the New Eve who stomps upon the head of the serpent and protects the child in the Book of Revelation. She is both Queen and Mother and yearns to greet us, her children, when we come home.

Jesus I Trust In You

Posted: April 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

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He is Risen Indeed , Alleluia !
According to St. Faustina, Our Lord promises to those who go to confession and communion on Divine Mercy Sunday, the remission of the guilt and the punishment of sins. “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.

– Diary of Sr. Faustina, 699 Let us take this to heart as we prepare to enter into our Parish mission with a youth and young adult, oriented MERCY XLT. This is indeed a grace-filled time. After celebrating the source and summit of our faith in the sacrifice of the mass, we will then take time to feed our bodies with food and fellowship. This will be followed by a return to the sanctuary to listen to the Word, to enter into a time of praise and worship before The Eucharistic Lord, to take the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconcilliation and to experience the intimacy of the laying on of hands.
Oftentimes after the initial joy of Easter Sunday, the family gathering, the Easter egg hunts, the food and the drink, we can easily fall out of the Lenten disciplines and forget the need to further prepare ourselves for The kingdom. Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR, once said to his friars (in an Easter Monday homily), “Fellas, Easter is over, its time to get to work”. He quite rightly knew that the witness of the Resurrected Lord, meant that we (the witnesses) now need to get out and about and spread the good news.
This is why it is so important to ask for the gifts we need to fulfill the holy obligation of sanctity. We need the power of The Holy Spirit, we need to be filled with His Divine Mercy, we need to be changed in order to bring the message of The Good News to the ends of the earth. This coming Sunday’s MERCY XLT will be a time when we come to Him in the spirit of the disciples in the upper room, or the woman with the hemorrhage, or the women in the garden, this will be a time when we can cling to His garment, we can cling to Him and ask Him to heal us, to guide us, to strengthen us, to fill us with the gifts we need to be faithful, to love Him and to witness to The One that makes sense of this this world and of our lives, the One that calls us to Himself and prepares a place for us at the eternal banqueting table.
Without Him, nothing makes sense, with Him everything makes sense, that is why we say,

Jesus I Trust in You!

I DID IT FOR YOU !

Posted: April 20, 2019 in Uncategorized
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I DID IT FOR YOU !

Christ Has risen, He has risen indeed, Alleluia !
I DID IT FOR YOU… These are the words that Mother Theresa heard on a train that changed the course of her life…and the lives of so many others. Recognizing that the resurrection was for each one of us is essential in the receiving the transformative power of Christs resurrection.
We absolutely have to break out of the ordinary, to recognize this extra ordinary moment. Jesus is alive. He has risen from the dead. He has set us free from sin and paved the way to eternal bliss ! How can we be silent, how can we not shout at the top of our voices ALLELUIA ! Whoever you are, whatever you have done, wherever you have been…everything is changed, EVERYTHING ! The Resurrection of Our Lord brings great hope, brings great excitement and brings great joy. Now we must recognize the importance of claiming the fruits of victory over death. Now we must turn to Him more than ever before. In this extra ordinary moment we must meet Him in an extra ordinary way.
As joy filled as the celestial community might be in this moment, so too are the fallen and the demonic, filled with anger. The fight for your soul has been won by Jesus but only if we respond to that grace. Prepare your hearts to receive The Holy Spirit so you might be emptied of all that is not from Him and filled with all that is from Him. Like never before, do not be conformed to the spirit of this age but rather put on the mind of Christ, that every thought, every word and every action might glorify Him. We must pray to receive the gifts and the fruits of The Spirit so we might better serve Him in this world and be with Him forever in the next.
Now is the time to get busy for there is much work to be done. We have already entered into the celebration of Divine Mercy through our novena, we are preparing to listen and be changed during the Parish Mission. We have an amazing Youth rally at Great Adventure in May, a Charismatic Rally in June and an awesome experience of Church at the Belong retreat in July! All these events are incredibly helpful but none of them compare to the moment when Christ dies and rises to save us and to draw us to Himself. Recognizing this we should go out and spread the Good News to the whole world, and we should do this with words and deeds. Love Him and Love one another, ALLELUIA !

Who are you?

Posted: April 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

HOLY-WEEK
It has gone so quickly, Lent may have passed you by this year but we have one more opportunity to enter into Holy Week and “get our holy on”!
Holy Week is not exclusively because Our Lord is holy. It is yet another reminder that we too are all called to be holy, we are called to be saints. We do not have the luxury to let Lent pass us by, or to wait for better circumstances, or even to expect holiness from others. It is our responsibility to be holy right now! Mother Theresa once claimed that “holiness is not a luxury for the few but an obligation for everyone”, this is the reason we were created and this is our purpose in life. All else fades into insignificance if holiness is not front and center. The conversion process is not simply a Lenten discipline it is a daily renewal of our hearts, minds and souls, A constant turning! We turn away from sin and towards Him who is all good! We turn to Him for our well being, for our courage, our perseverance, for our needs and for our eternal inheritance.
As this particular week begins, we might ask ourselves who are we? We might picture ourselves in the crowd sing “Hosannah, Blessed is He who comes”. There we are in with the crowd, waving our palms and rejoicing as Our Lord enters the holy city. But where will be on Thurs, when He is taken before the magistrates on false charges? Where will we be on Friday when He is finally falsely charged and convicted? Will we be singing Hosanna then or will we buckle under the pressure and cry out for Barabbas? And where will we be when He is nailed to the cross and breathes His last?
With all my heart I hope to be with Him but sometimes I wonder!
Sweet Lord, as we prepare to enter Holy Week this year, give us the strength to persevere, to carry our own crosses, to remain with you and Our Blessed Mother Mary on this, the most horrible of journeys. Jesus, send us Your Spirit that we might be created and You might renew the face of the earth. Father in Heaven, help us to be holy so we might continue the mission of extending Your Son’s Person and Purpose in space and time and be The Church You call us to be!
While our Lenten journey might be coming to an end, help us Lord to enter into your Passion and continue to prepare ourselves so we might fully embrace the glorious resurrection of that Easter morning where one day we hope to join the celestial community forever and ever !

More than a screen saver

Posted: April 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

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As I sit in my office typing out this weeks insert, I am drawn to my iMac going into random photo-screen saver mode. The screen saver offers up pictures of thousands of events over the past fifteen years. The events generally revolve around three main areas, Family, Life Teen and Tabor House. I love seeing so many wonderful moments captured on screen and have them take me back in time, producing smiles and a sense of awe at how things once were and how they are now. Every so often I am saddened as I see pictures of friends who are no longer with us. And images of memories that were not quite as happy as they seem. Time passes so quickly and random screen saver mode has me looking back and in reflective mode.
As we approach the fifth week of Lent we might be tempted to look back and think what a fine job we’ve done thus far. We might be slightly proud of the way we mastered particular disciplines. Thoughts of being on the homestretch and confidence in the realization that it should be plain sailing from hereon in. We may even afford ourselves the opportunity to look down on those unsavory people who cant get out of their sinful habits or those we dislike for their aggressive attitudes towards people like us! We may have had a disastrous time of it and cant wait for the season to be over. Thoughts such as these are all trap doors and should have us reconsidering not just our Lenten motivation but our reason for Christian discipleship in the first place. There is certainly no room for condemnation, either of ourselves of of others
Using this weeks Gospel as a reminder of those who condemn. When we sit at the feet of Jesus and our souls are bared, we too can beg for His mercy, He will also remind us (as He did the adulteress woman), “where are they (that condemn you) ?” and again, “Has no one condemned you?”, we will be able to answer, as she did,  “No one sir” and He will say to us, “Neither do I condemn you.” Whatever habits we have managed to curtail (or not) during this season and whatever virtues we have managed to display (or not), let us not grow overly confident, nor tired or weary in the practice of growing in holiness. Rather let us humbly ask Him for more ! More power, more protection, more gratitude, more compassion, more peace, more humility, more mercy, more love.
One day we will be a passing picture on a computer screen. A remembrance of someone whom once lived here. If we are able to stay the course until the end of days and follow Jesus’ command to “Go, and sin no more”, our memory should serve as an inspiration and a source of motivation for our future brothers and sisters who will carry on the Lenten tradition long after we have gone. Let this not simply be a seasonal tradition but a daily practice for our earthly lives, so that one day when He calls us. I pray that the fruit of our Lenten preparation, will serve us well in having prepared our souls for everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven !

The First Break Fast

Posted: March 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

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We are almost at the halfway point of our Lenten journey…already!
It’s truly flying by, at least that’s the way its going for me! The third Sunday of Lent is a time to do a mini reflection, a pre half time show (that takes place more realistically next week when we celebrate Laetare Sunday), it is a time to take stock and do inventory. How is it going? Am I on top of my disciplines, how’s the fasting, the prayer, the almsgiving? Do I need to do more, do better, change things up? Is it drawing me closer to the Lord, am I benefitting my brothers and sisters, am I a better disciple?

I have a rather long list of do’s and don’ts this year and have been doing rather well ( he said way too proudly), or so I thought. Recently I gave a spirituality day for a group of High School faculty members. I realized that my Lenten disciplines, though many, have been falling short. During my preparation I became transfixed with the idea of fasting. In the Book of Genesis, when God created everything, He claimed that it was good, and when He created His masterpiece, (our first parents) He claimed that it was very good. At that point in salvation history, we lived in complete harmony with the Lord and all was well. We could do whatever we wanted contingent on the first fast. God commanded Adam not to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This was a time of original justice. It is fair to say that the first breakfast seriously altered the course of history and changed original justice into original sin and history became salvation history. Throughout scripture, there have been many fasts since that one, Moses fasted before receiving the tablets, Elijah fasted before meeting The Lord on Mount Horeb and the most famous took place at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry. When the new Adam was driven out to the desert by The Spirit for a period of forty days where he ate nothing…and was hungry…and was tempted. This Lenten season is the predominant form of remembrance of that experience.

Fasting has a place in our modern world and has been embraced by many as a holistic form of therapy, while this is not necessarily a bad thing, Catholics ultimately, practice the fast as a way to embrace the grace that comes from His example in salvation history, when we fast from sinful things we draw closer to Him, we experience a type of kenosis. This emptying out has value only when we are refilled with, and by, by His life giving Spirit. In so being we are able to confer the fruits of our fast onto the whole community. This is central to our Lenten disciplines. We must reattune our senses, so that we conform again to the greatest of all the commandments, the commandment to Love God and our neighbor…and our enemy. Penance is as much about service as it is about sacrifice. The marriage of service and sacrifice, for the glory of god and the salvation of souls, this is the greatest Lenten discipline that we can practice.As we abstain from our dependence on created things, we must recognize our dependence on the Creator. Let us use this time of penance to draw closer to Him, to be of benefit to our brothers and sisters and to prepare well for the resurrection. We yearn to walk with Him again in original justice. We yearn to live with Him, in harmony once more, forever and ever, Amen !

The Need To Detach.

Posted: March 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

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Over the past few weeks we have been preparing for Lent, (by remembering our death), entering Lent, (by looking at the existence of hell) and this week we are continuing our journey by glimpsing at Purgatory.
This very Catholic idea of Purgatory affords us the opportunity to recognize the need for purification before we enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the ability to prepare for such a grace filled opportunity with practices of fasting, penance, almsgiving and indulgences as part of the purgative process.
In a few weeks from now as we progress from Lent into the Triduum and then, the Easter season, we will be able to concentrate more on our Heavenly inheritance but for now it is enough to remember that Heaven is total and perfect union with God. It leaves no room for disordered attachments to created things that are always caused by sin. Purgatory therefore is a continued stage of sanctification, (the process of being made holy). It is a state of final purification that takes place after death and before entrance into heaven and is reserved for those who died in God’s friendship but have not yet been perfectly purified. In a sense this is Gods greatest mercy. He knows that nothing other than light can exist in His perfect Light and so in order to be made ready for that, we are granted a time of being made ready. Once in Purgatory we are guaranteed a place in the Kingdom of heaven, our purgative pain rests solely on the fact that we are not yet fully united with The One we most desire, (God) but the suffering, we will experience is not the same suffering as those who are in hell. It is a more hope, and even joy, filled suffering ! Once in Purgatory we are at God’s mercy and yet are aided throughout the purgative process by the prayers and actions of the Church community, (both the church triumphant and the church militant).
Another reminder of the importance of praying for the dead !
For those of us in the Church militant, our Lenten practices can help us detach from material goods, purifying our own hearts while at the same time, aid the souls in Purgatory. This is accomplished through acts of penance, fasting and almsgiving. Indulgences are another way in which we can help. An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins which have already been confessed and forgiven. A plenary indulgence offers a complete remission and a partial indulgence offers a partial remission. To receive an indulgence we must pray and complete a required act stated by The Church, along with reception of The Eucharist, going to confession and praying for the Popes intentions.
If we are able to complete such practices while offering the sacrifice up for the release of souls, grace abundantly flows in our hearts and we begin to aid the plight of the souls in purgatory. Once released, they become our allies in heaven and in turn offer up their own intercessions for us.
Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them O Lord And Let Perpetual light Shine Upon Them.
May They rest In Peace, Amen !

Hell Bound?

Posted: March 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

For those of us who are constantly wanting to improve, who feel there is still soooo much more work to do and feel we are earnest in our desires for opportunity and time to change….THIS IS THE SEASON WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR! Ironically the penitent inside is excited at the possibilities before us, sadly the fact that we feel this way suggests (as I mentioned last week) that the anticipation is sometimes greater than the reality. Take your time to grow in The Spirit this Lenten season. Don’t overload with unrealistic goals or disciplines, whatever you choose to give up, to sacrifice or to take on, make sure that it is for the glory of God, and not for vainglory.
In the season of “Memento Mori”, we cannot help but recognize the road ahead. It is undeniably an eternal road, that will ultimately take us down (or up) one of two “directions”. Heaven or Hell? Sometimes are perception of hell is somewhat comical. We make light of it with little devil horns and images of fire and jokingly claim, “my hell will be (insert most annoying thing in your life right now). Despite mention of hell from The Lord in scriptures and from the great mystics, visionaries and holy men and women down the ages, it remains difficult for us to understand the mysterious element of infinitude. What we all seem to agree on is that it provokes an everlasting pain, an agony that is incomparable. It is a “place” that we do not want to live in. Either way, many of us seldom reflect on the reality (or even the existence) of hell, and in turn we seldom reflect on the glory of heaven. This is what memento mori is really about. The phrase can be defined as meaning “Remember your death” and relates to our temporal nature, but it also presents us, as Catholics with the truth about our supernatural inheritance. The Church teaches that hell exists and is not contrary to our image of a loving God. God created man to be in a loving relationship with Him, which necessitates free will. It also teaches that God does not send us to hell. We choose our sin over Him and He respects our choice. Sin is the only thing that separates us from God, so once chosen, our hell is an eternal separation from The One that we did not choose and a full communion with the one that we did choose.
Basically there are four elements to remember in this first week of Lent, that God loves us in such a way that He allows us free will so we might be free to choose without coercion. That Heaven is a promise of eternity with Him and all the angels and the saints. That hell is a state of definitive self exclusion from that communion and is reserved for those who refuse (by their own free will) to turn away from sin and that sin, ultimately is the only thing that separates us from God. That’s why we must turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.

Lets-get-ready-to-rumble

Oftentimes in life, the anticipation of a thing, an event, a meeting etc, can gain so much momentum and become so much more exhilarating than the thing itself. As a lifelong Catholic it seems to me that many of us can apply this hypothesis to our liturgical seasons and their rhythms. In Advent we talk about trying to use the season to prepare for the coming infant King whilst juggling the secular joy of Christmas being ever present around us (from the end of October). So, while preparing for another season (Christmas), we completely lose the season we are in (Advent) and not being present to the season we are in are therefore not likely to be fully equipped to leave the advent season and be truly present for and throughout the Christmas season.

We can promise ourselves after the fact that next year will be different and then, there it is, right in front of us before we’ve had time to acclimate to all the other seasons. Well, not this year, no way. This year we are ahead of the game.

Even phrases such as that belie our holy endeavors, We are not supposed to be ahead of the game, or behind the eight ball, or anywhere other than where we are. We are simple called to be present. As I reflect on Lenten journeys past, I remember long lists, and short lists, flesh hating lists and overly exaggerated lists that named multiple acts of sacrifice. Some were attempted, some were disallowed (by spiritual directors) and some simply fizzled away as the season wore on. One such list was warily offered to an incredibly spiritually attuned director who came back with a flat “Nope, youre not attempting this”. When pressed for a series of alternatives, he gave me one simple discipline to try and master throughout the season. “Attempt, if you can”, he said, “to not allow a moment to pass you by when you fail to recognize the presence of God”. It’s a backwards way of telling me to remain in His presence at all times throughout the season! My reaction was dour as I felt it to be a pithy approach to the desert season, not at all in line with my self loathing or my interpretation of the sacrificial element necessary for this particular penitent. In obedience I reluctantly agreed and so it began.

My failure to remain in His presence, from that day to this, for any great length of time, remains my greatest Lenten challenge and the greatest challenge of my life. As we prepare to enter the desert, whatever discipline(s) we may choose to take up, we must remember His presence. Jesus is indeed Emmanuel. Not simply at Christmas but forever. He is with us, He does not leave us, we are the ones who move. Let us remember as we trudge the road to happy destiny, that this is not simply a time to rumble, it is not simply a time to sacrifice, it is not simply a time to isolate ourselves from people, places or things. It is, rather a time to be aware, to be focused, to celebrate and to “be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of The Lord” knowing that He IS TRULY ALWAYS WITH US AND ALWAYS WILL BE ! Lets try and live in that space at this time !

No Longer Slaves

Posted: February 24, 2019 in Uncategorized

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If last weeks readings were all about blessings and getting us ready for Lent, then this week picks up where we left off. We are reminded of the humility of the future King David when he has the chance to harm his one time persecutor Saul and chooses instead “not to touch the head of The Lord’s anointed”. This psalmist will then sing of The Lords kindness and mercy as he encourages us all to “Bless The Lord O my soul…”

Blessings abound in the throughout the readings in recent weeks but it is about to get real. In the gospel this week Jesus goes a step further, reminding His listeners that although we are called to Love our neighbor like ourselves, He is now calling us to “love our enemies, and to do good to those who hate us” This particular discourse is perhaps the most practically challenging of all Christ’s teachings. In those time His audience would have been focused on Roman oppressors as well as corrupt Hebrews, as well as the regular struggles with various types of people in our every day lives. He even states that we should give away our coat to those in need, we should bless those who curse us and if someone strikes us we should not retaliate but instead turn the other cheek.

I don’t know how well I do with these new guidelines. But I do want to be faithful to His calling. If that is truly the desire of my heart and I recognize the bombardment of blessings He bestows upon His beloved, then I need to respond in kind. There are some things that I need to do and some things that I need to stop doing. I need to “stop judging, stop condemning, I need to forgive and to be generous, I need to be kind and I need to be merciful. All of these actions (and inactions) can reflect the love that God has for each one of us. The love that hung on a cross and The love that redeems and sets us free if we simply surrender to that Love and manifest it in our daily lives. We may not be surrounded by an (obvious) oppressive regime, nor immediately recognize clearly corrupt “brothers” or “sisters” but the struggle with oppression and corruption (and so much more) oftentimes takes place within our hearts and minds and so it is more important than ever that we maintain our focus and do not veer away from the call to heroic virtue.

Ash Wednesday is only ten days away, we have plenty of food for thought in terms of the areas which we can do more (and the areas we can do less), let us approach this hole season with holy fear and trembling and with joy and confident expectancy that The Lord will do a great work in each of us for the “last Adam is a life giving spirit” and promises each of us “the measure with which we measure will in return be measured to you.”