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From the Clergy

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
The Holy Trinity
My brothers and sisters, this week we are reminded of a crucial foundation of our faith The Most Holy Trinity: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We say this every time we pray, beginning and end, and do so as a reminder of God in our lives. It is a mystery that scholars have discussed for centuries. For us it is quite simple. God is the Father and creator of things visible and invisible. His son Jesus is both truly God and truly man. He has two complete natures (one fully human and one fully divine). We refer to this as a hypostatic union. Finally, the Holy Spirit, God, through the waters of our baptism brings us closer to his love. The mystery of the Trinity then is The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is God (one God, three persons).
Maybe another way to think about the Trinity is something I learned when I was a child. I remember hearing about St. Patrick holding a three-leaved shamrock. Even though there were three leaves it was still a shamrock. In other words, each leave symbolizes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons (leaves) in one (shamrock) God. It resonated with me, perhaps it will help us all grow in understanding of the Trinity.
Why is all this important for our faith? We are beginning our Eucharistic Revival that will help us become more aware of the Eucharist and much more aware of the Holy Trinity. We may ask ourselves how the Eucharist lets us experience love in the breaking of bread, the real presence of Jesus. It is knowing that the Eucharistic contains body, soul, and divinity of Jesus. God is present for us to grasp onto if we only allow ourselves to experience his love. We will have more information available soon on the Eucharistic revival. It will be an exciting adventure for us to move closer to God in the coming months and beyond. Please let me know if you have initial questions and I would be happy to visit with you.
In Christ, Deacon Patrick
Pentecost Sunday
Jesus stood up and exclaimed:
“Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.”
My dear brothers and sisters today on Pentecost Sunday we celebrate a great day in the Church with the waters of living water flowing across each of us in our belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts with our baptism and if we hear and follow his voice we can be saved. Do not be weary. Do not be fearful. Instead allow yourselves to embrace God completely in what today really brings us: the gift of the Holy Spirit and to do our part in enlightening the hearts of others we meet in our lives. Yes, each of us is a child and disciple of Christ, and if we allow ourselves to embrace his love for us, we can share that love with others. If we are not sure about the resurrection, simply remember the wounds of his hands and side and reflect in prayer the suffering he bore for each of us. If we want to know about our baptism and the day we received the gift of the Holy Spirit, ask a godparent or parent, and learn the day of our baptism. It is a good reminder of the gift of the Holy Spirit into our lives. Remember always that Jesus is with us at each moment of our lives. The good, the bad, the challenging. Jesus is there to guide us. We can be disciples to those we meet each day like Jesus. Do not lose heart but instead remember that Jesus says “peace be with you! As the father has sent me so I send you.”
If we are not sure what to say and when, rely on the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and Jesus will show us the way. May the gift of the Holy Spirit continue to guide you in life, in prayer, in your work life and with your family on this Pentecost Sunday and throughout our lives. Let the Holy Spirit guide us to experience the complete love of Jesus.
In Christ,
Deacon Patrick
7th Sunday of Easter
This week we experience the Ascension of our Lord. If the Lord is our light and salvation whom should we fear?
We learn this week, that as Jesus is taken up into heaven, we too have the hope in our own experience based upon our faith. If we continue to dwell completely in the house of the Lord, we can one day gaze upon his love for us, face to face. Jesus raises his eyes to heaven and gives glory to the Father for having given Jesus authority over the people so that they may have eternal life. Jesus knows that if we simply follow his way even though we must take many turns and detours in our lives we can experience his eternal love.
We have so many challenges and obstacles in our way. Do we give those to God, or do we try to handle them all ourselves? For example, if we are traveling down a road and we experience the “detour” sign do we go through the closed road or simply follow the signs around the obstacle? This is like Jesus guiding us with signs that will help us understand Him more and to be guided to the truth and happiness. Jesus assures us he will not leave us as orphans on the journey of life alone. He will give us directions and signs to help us on the journey.
My dear brothers and sisters don’t let the detour signs in our lives derail our true focus. Let God be there for us to reveal the signs in our lives to help us around the obstacles we face.
In Christ, Deacon Patrick

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Have you ever known that you were telling the truth but someone else questioned you because they did not believe
you? Maybe a mediator, arbitrator, or attorney was needed to help prove your innocence. Wouldn’t it be nice to
know that we have someone that is our Advocate. One who asks us to be truthful with others and teaches us the
way to do the right things in life and not follow the variety of worldly sins and challenges brought before us each
day. We have an intercessor, comforter, and a spirit of truth that guides us each day of our lives. Who is this
The Advocate is Jesus Christ, who reminds us to keep his teachings at the forefront when we are making decisions
in our lives. Do we simply follow the crowd or do what we want to do, no matter the consequences? If we reflect
on scripture and pray even for a few minutes a day and ask, what would Jesus do, we may be given a different
next step in our decision. We must be genuinely truthful and honest with ourselves. By doing this we fulfill what
Jesus asks of us.
If we ask a subordinate, a child, a friend to do something, do we get a better result by telling them they have to do
something because you said so, or do you ask them because you love them and know it will help them be better,
help them learn, and grow? We do this like Jesus when our reason is found in the truth and love we have for
others. So, I ask each of us today, in all that we do as Jesus asked his disciples, if we truly love Jesus, will we keep
his commandments?
In Christ, Deacon Patrick

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Continuing our short reflections on the Nicene Creed, we are brought to “the forgiveness of Sins.”
In this statement we are professing that we truly believe in the saving power of the Lord that comes when we participate in the Sacrament of confession. God seeks to forgive us of our sin in this sacrament. When we profess that we believe in the forgiveness of sins, that we truly believe in the healing work of God that comes in the confessional. The Catechism says that regular confession of our sins is letting ourselves be “healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit” (CCC 1458) In this sacrament, there are five major pieces that make us the sacrament of confession.
1. The vocal confession to a priest and that is done in private. This comes from the biblical tradition handed down from Christ in John’s Gospel Chapter 20 (providentially, the gospel from this past Sunday) when Jesus says, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:23)
2. The penance where we are usually given a penance which is meant to replace the sin that we have committed. It is an act of faith, a deliberate effort in order to make amends for the sin(s) that have been committed. Usually, your penance will depend on the nature of the sin committed.
3. The act of contrition in which we are admitting in good faith that our sin is indeed something harmful. In the act of contrition, we are “heartily sorry” for having offended God and we are acknowledging that those sins have kept us
from the true life in Christ. We profess that our sin has been harmful to us.
4. The absolution, in which the ordained minister will extend a blessing on behalf of God almighty in a formal declaration of His forgiveness. This is a powerful moment, because in that moment we are brought together once again into the friendship of God.
5. Involves a spirit of Praise in which we have encountered the Mercy of God, the healing work of Jesus. What this means is that we should be brought toward a spirit of praise where we thank God for his great love. In this piece we are able to proclaim what the psalmist sang, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his Mercy is without end” (Psalm 136)
In the Archbishop’s recent pastoral letter, As We Forgive, he encourages us as a community of faith to seek the mercy of God, and to hope in the beautiful life that the Father has planned for us. That life is a life full of a joy and freedom that is found in the great mercy of God that awaits us in the confessional.
| Br. Vince Mary

Fifth Sunday of Lent

I believe in the Holy Spirit!

Chapter 3 paragraph 683686 and Article 3 paragraph 687747 of the Catechism (CCC) gives us a thorough understanding of what is meant by our belief in the Holy Spirit. I have heard many thoughts on what the Holy Spirit is and what it is not. But for us to really know precisely what is meant in the creed to say we believe in the Holy Spirit has several core points we must know. If you have been reviewing in the Catechism on the parts of the creed you may have observed the In Briefsummary paragraph 742747 at the end of this section. I encourage a review of that for further understanding and reflection.

Paragraph 742 lets us know that God has sent the Spirit of his Son Jesus into our hearts. No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit, as it is a core knowledge of our faith, and we receive in our baptism. The HolySpirit in the Church communicates with us personally and intimately when this occurs and through his grace, renews the life within us. The Holy Spirit is the third in the progression of persons and to believe in the Holy Spirit and to express the Holy Spirit is consubstantial with the Father and Son and is with us from the beginning to the end of our salvation.

From all history anytime that God sends his Son He also sends the Spirit as their mission is conjoined and inseparable (p 743). We see this in paragraph 688 that The Church is in communion with our faith since the Spirit inspires the scriptures, our traditions, liturgy, prayer, charisms and ministries of the Church, signs of apostolic life, and through witness by the saints. The Father sends his Son and is anointed by the Spirit, as they are distinct but inseparable. The Holy Spirit is the proper word from the Hebrew word ruahGods breath, the divine Spirit.

Some symbols we associate with the Holy Spirit are water which symbolizes the Holy Spirit in our baptism. Anointing symbolizes with oil the Holy Spirit through Christian initiation and is a sacramental sign of confirmation. It is synonymous with the anointing in the annunciation of the Virgin Mary conceiving by the Holy Spirit. By the action of the Holy Spirit in her the Father gives us EmmanuelGod with us. Fire symbolizes the forming energy of the Holy Spirits actions. We may experience this in conversion, the word we speak from God in scripture, or baptism through Holy Spirit and fire. Cloud and light are manifested throughout scripture and reveal the living and saving God. The Holy Spirit was there with Moses on Mount Sinai, when the Holy Spirit overshadows the Virgin Mary that she may conceive and give birth to Jesus, and at the anointing of Christ at His incarnation. We receive the seal of the Holy Spirit through anointing; healing by the hand by having hands laid upon us; by the finger of God that casts out demons in our lives; and the sign of a dove that Christ will return, and he does so each time we receive Christ in the Eucharist (p 694701).

Christ proclaims the good news to us in the Spirit of the Lord. He is with us and has been with us in the fullness of time as we are reminded of this with John being filled with the Holy Spirit, with Elijah, and with Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time as the Father found her to be the dwelling place for His Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit hence prepares, fulfills, and manifests His plan through the Son for our ultimate salvation. Mary then brings men and women toward an understanding of the merciful love of Jesus and by His death and resurrection He is constituted in glory as Lord and savior (p 717730, 746).
Finally, on the day of Pentecost the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is fulfilled and is shared throughout His
Church. God is love, we were lost and now found, and the Holy Spirit prepares each of us to bear fruit in the Church by animating us to build and sanctify the Church to help us grow and move away from our weaknesses (p 747). If we share in the Sacraments of the Church, we should bear fruit as we allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate within us a fire that helps us grow in faith and our love of God.

In Christ,

Deacon Patrick

4th Sunday of Lent

1st Sunday of Lent

On the third day he rose again from the dead.

Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead, and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen (Roman Missal Exsultet).

Article III p 2 of the CCC brings us the good news that what God has promised to the fathers that this day is fulfilled to us and our children in the raising of Jesus. Now as we are beginning our Lenten journey, perhaps we might not want to consider jumping to this conclusion today. But to reflect in the deepest love in our heart for Jesus and to do all we can to follow in each of His footsteps will help us know the crowning truth of our faith in Christ. It is a truth that is central to the Christian faith. A truth handed to us by tradition. A truth established by the documents of the New Testament. And a truth preached as an essential part of the Paschal mystery along with the cross, and giving life to those that have died!

We can be reassured too that the mystery of the Resurrection is not just some dream. It is a historical and transcendent event. These events are historically verified. In about 56 A. D., St. Paul wrote Corinthians. Christ died for us according to the scriptures. He was buried and rose according to the scriptures. He appeared to Cephas, the twelve, and five hundred others. My brothers and sisters, The Tomb is Empty! This is our first main event and a sign in the celebration of Easter. Though there were many other signs too: the discovery of the empty tomb by the holy women, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the disciples. These were the first messengers of the witness of Jesus and his resurrection. The linen cloths that remained suggesting it was not of human doing but that of God.

These first witnesses serve as the foundation of our faith and our journey to God. Dont we all serve as witnesses to Jesus in one way or another? We share our own stories of faith, overcoming weaknesses, and suffering. We gather wisdom and understanding that we can share with others like the disciples did after the witness to the great event and resurrection of Jesus. Not unlike us, the disciples though didnt just simply believe what the holy women said to them. They wanted proof. They wanted to see to believe. They wanted to be with Jesus again. They reflected how we feel ourselves sometimes when we try to understand all the mysteries of our faith. But God gives us so much evidence, signs, and his word to follow him more easily. If we let our hearts be opened, we will know He is risen!

Imagine the concern of the Romans when the tomb was empty! They guarded it. They sealed it as well. Rather than having an intended result of the citizens following Roman rule and law and living in fear of suffering the same consequences of the Passion of Jesus, now Jesus is risen. Imagine the Roman amazement and fear with having done everything possible and yet Jesus rose again from the dead.

Matthew reflects in his Gospel that some doubted. Certainly, some felt then and do so today that the factual events that occurred and a hypothesis of a Resurrection of Jesus just could not hold up. But rest assured, their faith in the Resurrection, and our own faith, was born, under action of divine grace, from direct experience and signs of the reality of the risen Christ.

In Christ, Deacon Patrick

5th Sunday in ordinary time

Many of us have catch phrases. Phrases we say of which others might say, “Oh So and So always says that.” One teacher of mine always said, “Words mean things.” Because we have a vocabulary and communicate using our words, then we ought use the correct words and understand what the those words mean. Continuing with our parish discourse of the Apostles’ Creed, this week we come across the words, “was crucified, died and was buried.”
Crucified, died, buried. Three words we can almost fly through while reciting the Creed as Jesus descends toward hell preparing to triumphantly soar toward the joy of His resurrection. Perhaps we think, “get me past this and on to the good stuff.” Yet we must endure.
Why must we endure? It’s because Christ endured for us. Crucifixion was concocted some 300 to 400 years before Christ by the Persians. For those charged with inflicting torture, few can imagine a more painful death than being nailed to a cross. We derive the word “excruciating” from crucifixion, recognizing it as a form of slow, painful suffering. Very few of us use the word excruciating properly, probably because we have never been nailed to a cross. We can only imagine. From this torture Jesus died. St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.” In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant (CCC 601). God shows His love for us in that while we were, yet sinners Christ died for us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer” (CCC 605).
And then for us, Christ was buried. In baptism, each of us is buried with Christ. “Baptism, the original and full sign of which is immersion, efficaciously signifies the descent into the tomb by the Christian who dies to sin with Christ in order to live a new life. “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (CCC 628). When baptism is done by dunking the person three times, each time the person being baptized is held under water and then drawn out almost gasping for air. By the third time, the person has died to an old way of life and enters a new way of life reconciled to the Father.
Crucified, died, and buried as words mean so much more, but once again this is only an invitation to descend deeper into the words that describe the Word made Flesh.
Deacon Hal

4th Sunday in ordinary time

“Suffered under Pontius Pilate…”

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we continue our breakdown of the Apostle’s Creed, we arrive at this startling phrase, “Suffered under Pontius Pilate.” There is much to consider here with Jesus and our belief in Him.

Realize that Jesus lived during the time of the Roman Empire. Rome’s territorial power existed over the land where Jesus lived and moved about. This means Rome was the ultimate authority for the Jews, and all those living in the surrounding area. We are reminded that Herod Antipas had authority to govern, but this was only because of the political and powerful reality of Rome which permitted it. Furthermore, when laws were broken and criminal charges were found for a person, the Jewish people could adjudicate some cases, based on their law and the commentary of the prophets via the rabbis and priests, but there were some particular

cases, and Jesus was one of those cases which they would send to Roman authorities charging Him as enemy of the empire and also the charge of blasphemy, to which Rome had no desire to charge Him with.

One important reality we cannot forget, is that Jesus was truly God and truly man. He had every bit of sensation and humanity as a person. Therefore, he felt pain, he experienced the brutality of lashes, and the beating of what his “charge” called for, including pains endured through crucifixion: asphyxiation, thirst, and other maladies.

To “suffer” is a verb, usually means to undergo, or endure, and at basic understanding is to be subject to. In this case, for Jesus, He deigned to be subject to Roman authority, and did not contest the charges, nor did he think he was “above the law” in some ego maniacal manner. Hence, we are reminded that Jesus was “obedient, obedient to death even on a cross” (Philippians 2:8) Jesus emptied Himself for us in the way of docility, obedience, and trust, manifesting for all of us the way to live even though the world may consider you a threat and enemy to the state. This line challenges all of us in a Christlike manner to affirm our belief in Jesus and learn how to be docile citizens without compromising our being a disciple of Him.


Peace in Christ,

Fr joe

2nd Sunday in ordinary time

Our parish community’s 17 week unpacking of the Creed continues with Creator of Heaven and Earth.  And Wow!—who knew there was so much to unpack in the three words of Creator, Heaven, and Earth?  I’ve provided links below to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for greater explanation.

Let’s crack open the suitcase together and unpack the essentials…


  • Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular, it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are the one, indivisible principle of creation.
  • God alone created the universe, freely, directly and without any help.
  • No creature has the infinite power necessary to “create” in the proper sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to that which had in no way possessed it to call into existence “out of nothing.”
  • God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness, and beauty – this is the glory for which God created them.


  • Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: “The angels work together for the benefit of us all.”
  • The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
  • The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.


  • “Father,. . . you formed man in your own likeness and set him over the whole world to serve you, his creator, and to rule over all creatures.”
  • (From the following chapter regarding the fallen state of the Earth) “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. . . It was through the devil’s envy that death entered the world.”
  • Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God.
  • Christians believe that “the world has been established and kept in being by the Creator’s love; has fallen into slavery to sin but has been set free by Christ, crucified and risen to break the power of the evil one. . .”

So, there it is laid out neatly before you.  I invite you to dig into the Catechism and unpack it even more.

The Epiphany of the Lord

My brothers and sisters, a blessed welcome to all of you this new year 2023. 

Over the next several months Father Joe and the Deacons will discuss the first pillar of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the “rebar” that supports the other three pillars.  What is this rebar? It is the core of our faith:  The “Apostle’s creed”, our Profession of Faith, and today we will come to understand specifically what we truly mean when we say, “I believe in God, the Father almighty.”

We can learn what this means by referring to the CCC chapter one paragraphs 198-201. Our profession of faith begins with God, is for God, He is the first and the last, the beginning and end of everything. God is the Father, the first divine person of the Holy Trinity. The creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, and creation is the beginning and foundation of all creation of God’s work (CCC Paragraph 198, p 54).  WOW! God is the rebar to support all else in the Church.

I believe in God” is the first affirmation and most fundamental element of the creed as it speaks of God, and our relationship with Him in the world. All the articles of the creed depend on the first. The other articles help us to understand God better, but as with the Commandments, God is the core of our faith (CCC Paragraph 199, p 54).

God is one nature, the only God revealed to us by Jesus, the God of all, is the living God, the great “I Am”, a faithful God to each of us, a merciful and gracious God; He is the truth and love (CCC Paragraphs 200-221).

With this knowledge of God, we profess our faith in God above all things, to serve Him first, to trust in God in all circumstances. So don’t be troubled, everything passes-God never changes, patience over all; if we have God, we should want for nothing as God is enough for all and our faith in Him leads us to Him alone (CCC Paragraph 222-231).

Paragraph 2 of the CCC tells us more about “the Father” as we are baptized first in the Father. Jesus revealed to us that the Father is not only the creator and Father eternally to his son Jesus, but He is also the Father of the poor, the widowed, and the orphan. The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, proceeds from the Father and the Son. In summary, the Holy Trinity is central to the Christian faith; the incarnation of Jesus reveals that the Father is eternal, and the Son is consubstantial-identical in essence/substance with the Father. 

And Paragraph 3 helps us understand “the almighty”.  We believe that Gods might is universal, He is merciful in all things, is an eternal God, and only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of Gods almighty power. He shows us his almighty power by converting us from sin to renewing our friendship with Him in grace. If we don’t believe God to be almighty, how could we come to understand how He could create us, Jesus could redeem us, and the Holy Spirit sanctify us?

I encourage each of you to reflect on the Apostles creed in the coming months and learn what it really means to our faith. You can access the Apostles creed in the CCC in the first section Profession of Faith. I also encourage you to consider Fr. Mike Schmitz brand new Catechism in a year that just started January 1. The first portion is on the creed, and you can locate this at “Podcasts, Catechism in a year.”

God bless each of you,

Deacon Patrick

The Octave Day of Christmas Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Well 2022 is long gone and 2023 has begun! We celebrate every New Years day on the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. What better day to begin the new year than with the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of all living things as the intercessor?

The new year can bring many things – new life, new winter’s snow, perhaps a new beginning, or maybe even a new hair-do! Of course though, it brings New Year resolutions; all of those wonderful things that we hope to resolve as we begin the new year. Certainly I will encourage every kind of New Year resolution that you add to your list, whether it’s waking up a little bit earlier, or walking an extra block on your afternoon walk, or refraining from one less negative comment. Whatever it may be, I want to suggest doing all of those things with the Blessed Mother who is capable of taking all that we have and offering it to Jesus, her Son in a beautifully, crafted handbasket. She takes our intentions and makes them her own. She gathers everything that we leave behind during the journey toward Jesus, gathers that and takes it to Jesus. The blessed Mother is there to guide us and intercede for us throughout the new year.
One of the most beautiful prayers the church has to Mary is the Ave Maria Stella, which comes to us from Venantius Fortunatus, an Italian poet and later Bishop. The prayer for me, describes a fitting plea as we approach the new year asking Mary’s intercession as we strive to live out our faith during this new year. Pray this with me:
Hail O Star of the Ocean, God’s own Mother blest, ever sinless Virgin, gate of Heavenly rest. Taking that sweet Ave, which from Gabriel came, peace confirm within us, changing Eve’s name. Break the sinner’s fetters, make our blindness day, chase all evils from us, all blessings we pray. Show thyself a Mother, may the Word divine, born for us thine infant hear our prayers through thine. Virgin all excelling, mildest of the mild, free from guilt preserve us, meek and undefiled. Keep our life all spotless, make our way secure, until we find in Jesus, joy forever more. Amen.
So, this year, as we move onward through the new year, may we truly take the Blessed Mother Mary as our Guide and our intercessor. Amen
+ Br. Vince Mary

Nativity of the Lord


Alleluia!  Alleluia! Rejoice, give praise, for a great light has come to the earth!
Merry Christmas on this Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord! Our Lord is born today, a great gift to all the nations. All that we know in our faith has become Word made flesh today; the divine choosing to become one of us. The main themes of light, truth, the world, testimony, the word, and the birth of Jesus Christ all bear fruit for us today.
Darkness is overcome by the light and birth of Jesus.  The bright star has guided the faithful to Him.  All that has been stated in the scriptures and what prophesies of what will come has been brought to us in the charitable gift of Jesus today. Everything that Jesus does from the beginning and through his life brings light in the mysteries of Easter and Christmas (CCC 512).
The world begins to change from old ways of sin and despair as Jesus begins to repair the old with the new, a grace upon grace of His love for us.  All those that attend the birth know this day is special and greatest in history. They each had an opportunity to see the face of Jesus, the Son of God.  Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be truly fulfilled in us (CCC 526).
The meaning of truth in the word of God that is shared with us has now become flesh. We can now genuinely be open to allowing the love of the Father into our hearts. By opening the gift of His love, we can truly embrace all that He has in store for us today and until the end of our days (CCC 1039).
We are reminded when we receive bread and wine that have been transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus at each Eucharist, is like Christmas because we are renewed as we experience Jesus.  He is Emmanuel (God with Us). Therefore, the Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life (CCC 2177).
Our liturgical season of Christmas begins today with the Christmas Eve vigil masses and ends with The Feast of the Baptism of our Lord.  We begin not just a one day but in fact a lifetime celebration of a charitable gift from God. Jesus brings His love to us through the gift of salvation and does so through grace for us to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues (CCC 1811).
We share our stories around the Christmas tree and give gifts to the ones closest to us.  We do all this to share that love with others as Jesus did with us. To gain a little perspective, pray about the incredible love God has for us in giving the gift of his only son, Jesus.
During this Christmas season please share all you can with others as reminders of the great gifts that Jesus has brought to us. If we open our hearts by experiencing the newness of the light of Jesus, He will remove us from the ignorance of slavery to sin (CCC p.6).
I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a joyous and healthy New Year!
In Christ,
        Deacon Patrick

4th Sunday of Advent


What is the Sacrament of Charity?

As we move through Advent this year, we have been learning a great deal about Charity and the love Jesus has for us. Most importantly this week we should remember that God is with us in the Eucharist. This is the Sacramental sign of Charity that God is with us…always!

Therefore, it is so important to experience the Eucharist as often as possible. It is the Good News of Charity, and the eternal love God has for us. We hear that the son of God, the Messiah, will be with us very soon and gives us this gift as a sacramental sign to place God’s charity in our souls. Whether we are sad, fearful or struggle with our daily tasks in life, the Eucharist is that complete reminder of Love that brings us closer to God.

What are ways that we can become closer to the charity God wants for us in our lives? How do we open our souls completely to receiving Him and allowing His great love to encompass every part of who we are? Attending communion more often on Sundays, daily mass, and adoration/benediction is a great start. The Catechism (CCC1395) helps us learn to have a better friendship with Jesus. Think about your best friend growing up or as an adult today. Isn’t it nice to know in this world we always have a great friend we can rely on in Jesus? He is there for us in giving us courage in all life events and giving us a boost to overcome obstacles.

If we have been to a living nativity scene, and experienced the Holy Family, the animals, and the people as they realize that God became man to show his closeness with us, we experience the charity God brings to us. Imagine ifwe were to be present at the nativity and the birth of Jesus. Would our hearts overflow with compassion, our eyes fill with tears, followed immediately by and emotional surge of joy as we witness the birth of our savior? God knew we would not all be there on the birthday of Jesus. But we would all be able to experience the joy and charity He has for us and does so with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is the ultimate gift of charity that we can participant in. It is this true presence of His body and blood in the Eucharist that is that sign of charity and opens our souls to salvation.

God is pure love, pure charity for us and places his love within us in the Eucharist. We can be with Him as He has chosen to be with us with the gift of the Eucharist. As we move through the balance of Advent and prepare ourselves in penance, showing mercy to one another and allowing our hearts to be receptive to the ultimate charity
God gives to us in the gift of his son Jesus and in the Eucharist, we will truly experience the best gift of the season:  The Sacrament of Charity in the Eucharist.

Deacon Patrick

3rd Sunday of Advent

Wait, one more?  Bury the Dead.

If over the last six weeks you’ve been checking off these Corporal Acts of Mercy articles to the six listed in Matthew 25:35-36, you would say we’re done.  But not so fast, we actually have a seventh act not explicitly mentioned in Sacred Scripture and that is Bury the Dead.  Aside from rounding out the list with the biblically valued number seven, this act is directed to the needs of someone who is dead more so than living.We honor with reverence all the good and holy events that occurred in that body over a lifetime.  While the person was alive, their body served as a temple of God (1 Cor 3:16,17) and a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).  Since both God and the soul abided in the body, the corpse now deserves to be treated with respect.

When Jesus died on the cross, as an act of corporal mercy, Joseph of Arimathea requested to take the body of Jesus for a proper burial.  He and others washed, wrapped and laid the body of Jesus in a tomb.

Nicodemus provided a mixture of myrrh and aloes while Mary Magdalene and other women prepared spices and perfumed oils to anoint Jesus’ body.

Other examples of Burying the Dead are highlighted in the Bible. After John the Baptist was beheaded, “his disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him” (Mt 14:12). When Lazarus died, his body was wrapped in burial bands, his face wrapped in a cloth, and laid in a tomb. After Stephen was stoned, “Devout men buried Stephen” (Acts 8:2).

Aside from physically tending to the body, we can also pray for the dead, attend the vigil, funeral Mass, or committal rite at the cemetery.  Perhaps one of the most powerful acts is to offer Mass intentions for the repose of the soul of the deceased.  Visiting the grave to offer prayers is also powerful.

“Does a body good” is not only an old marketing campaign for the Milk industry, but it is also the outcome when we carry out this act of mercy.  Bury the Dead does a body good both for the living and deceased.

Deacon Hal

2nd Sunday of Advent

Visit the Imprisoned
In our parish there are a number of people who dedicate their time to doing jail ministry. It’s a ministry that involves interacting with the incarcerated, those who have been essentially cast out of our society and into a new one. These are people who are battling shame, guilt, maybe even regret and now facing probably one of the hardest things, having to live without the possibility of living free.
I believe that in many ways, everybody is imprisoned in some way. That’s not to take away from the great task of doing a wonderful and needed ministry. Rather, to offer a new perspective and maybe a new way of looking at how to minister to those close to us. Imprisonment comes in so many fashions, but I want to suggest that outside of the justice system there is also a spiritual imprisonment.
To be imprisoned is to be restrained, to be held captive, or to be trapped. Now a beautiful reflection is to think about Jesus in His Passion had experienced every one of these things. However, I want to invite us to instead think about being spiritually trapped. That can mean a number of things; but to be spiritually trapped, restrained, or held captive is to be kept from living in freedom, alive, and in the mi
dst of the world. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, tell us that man is not made to be imprisoned by sin, or death, or even restraint. For that reason, he says, that “The glory of God is man fully alive!” – to be fully alive is to be free from restraint, from captivity or bondage. People in our world, those close to us, our friends and family might be trapped, battling wounds or sin and they need to be visited and comforted. Those wounds need to be bandaged, and when we visit them true healing takes place.
Now a good question to think about this week is this: What, in my life is restraining me from being fully alive? What in my life is holding me captive? If you know what it is, ask the Lord Jesus to come and
set you free from those chains. He can, He will because He’s done it before.
Br. Vinny
1st Sunday of Advent
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2447) states that one of the corporal works of mercy is “sheltering the homeless.” The Gospel of Matthew, from where the works of mercy are taken, says that those who are “blessed by my Father” are those who welcome the stranger.
While the wording here is somewhat different, the meaning is clear: Believers are called to provide shelter for those in need, especially those who are refugees.
This teaching of Jesus also emphasizes the importance of providing hospitality to the stranger, as expressed in Hebrews 13:1-2, which connects the importance of hospitality to an experience of the divine: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels,” a reference to
Genesis 18.
If we are to shelter the homeless and welcome the stranger, then we must act: Good intentions are not enough. As James 2:14 puts it, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” As 1 John 3:18 says, “let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.”
In Colorado on average, we have approximately a little over 9,000 people experiencing homelessness on annual basis according to United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The majority resides in our Diocese. We have great help from organizations such as Catholic Charities, Christ in the City, and countless others who give of time and ability to provide places for those homeless. Below are some suggestions you can do to live out this work of mercy in your daily life.
  • See St. Bernadette Parish office, or Catholic Charities for volunteer opportunities at a local homeless shelter and volunteer some time.
  • Donate time or money to organizations that build homes for those who need shelter.
  • Many homeless shelters need warm blankets for their beds. If you can knit or sew that would be an extra loving gift.

There are millions of children and families who are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger, and impossible living conditions, and searching for peace and safety. Engage parish groups of children, youth, young adults, and families in doing some research on the causes and challenges that these families face to survive. Contact Catholic Social Services, or Archdiocesan offices of peace and justice for help with your research. Seek ways to provide shelter for the homeless locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally.

Peace in Christ,

Fr joe

Thirty third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Clothe the Naked.

Remember Ray Stevens’ song “The Streak?”  Back in 1974, it spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboards Hot 100 singles chart.  In it, the song’s action news reporter would see the naked runner and shout out to his wife, “Don’t look Ethel!  But it was too late, she’d already been…”

Juxtaposed to Ray Stevens, we have Jesus telling us to be actively on the lookout for the naked. Why? So that we can avoid the discomforts and indignations Ethel experienced? No. When Jesus says, “I was naked and you clothed me” (Matthew 25:36), he is challenging us to be charitable beyond our comfort zone and to take an active part in restoring someone to their dignity as a human person.

Jesus is asking us to do more than drop off our unwanted clothes at a shelter. Certainly, this act is a charitable act. Even though our parish is partnering right now with Marisol House in a Coat Drive (Drop off warm coats for the mothers and children in our parish vestibule or parish office), we can and should do so much more.

Saint Theresa of Calcutta admonished us all when she said, “Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world if you have the eyes to see.
Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

We need to use our eyes and hearts to recognize the naked in our midst.  Look for the rejected, alone, and forgotten. Those without family or friends are stripped of all meaningful human relationships. Frequently, they think no one cares for them—as if they were invisible.

As Christians, we know better. Our hearts should hemorrhage with desire to bring comfort and peace to the naked. To clothe them with our love. The easiest way to do this is by sharing our time and presence.

Deacon Hal

Thirty first Sunday in Ordinary Time

My brothers and sisters today we begin our journey to learn more about the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy.  As we get closer each day to the holidays it is worthwhile to gather a deeper understanding of what the corporal works are about and how as God’s children, we have a part in helping others in His divine plan for us.

So, what does it mean to feed the hungry, the first corporal work of mercy? Jesus provides the answer to us in (Mt 25: 31-46) as He reminds us of the Judgment of the Nations. We might remember this scripture more clearly as Jesus reminding us of the parable of separating the sheep from the goats. The moral of the story reminds us that whatever we do even for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for Jesus. We should ask ourselves then did we feed those that have nothing to eat? Do we find opportunities to give water and refreshment to those that are thirsty? Do we invite the strangers into our home as guests or as enemies?  Do we provide clothes to those in need or serve those in the prisons?

Much of the time we focus simply on giving of goods (food, water, and shelter) to others.  Jesus knows though it is much more than that.  Do we truly provide support for others from deep within our own souls by giving others the goodness that Jesus asks of us?  Do we feed others with the love God has for us?  Do we share the gospel with others and teach them how much Jesus loves us?  Do we allow our lives to be filled with the joy of easing suffering of others as Jesus has done for us?

If we can find ways to truly feed the soul of others, the more likely they will help us in our times of struggle as well. As we move into the holiday season this year take that one extra step to feed the hungry. Certainly, giving food and clothes is very needed in these times.  Though that extra step of sharing a little bit of the goodness we have been given to others will help them rekindle the fire they may have lost in their faith.  Perhaps when we feed the life of others they will gravitate once again to their deep desire to be with Jesus.  A simple hello and a smile might be all that is needed to warm up someone’s heart. What is that one thing we could promise to Jesus to feed the hungry this holiday season? Perhaps it will become a part of our everyday lives as we move into 2024.

If we seek out people on the margins of society, we may find a beautiful new way to serve and bring love into their lives. Don’t worry that it might seem challenging at first.  Just let Jesus be our guide and He will help us find the way.

If Jesus were to ask each of us when the judgment comes, do we want to be referred to as the sheep, or the goats?

Deacon Patrick

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Continuing with our dive into the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy, we will explore the act of Praying for the Living and the Dead.
As a body called to together by Jesus, we the Church are comprised of many members; Living members who are known as the Church Militant, meaning those in pilgrimage to glory with the Lord. There is the Church Suffering, those are composed of people who have died and are in a state of purgation and moving to Heavenly glory. Lastly there is the Church Triumphant who are living the Heavenly glory with God and the entire host of angels, we generally know these individuals to be saints.
Why pray for the living? As a sign of love and compassion we are encouraged to bring thoseliving to the Lord, as we all belong to the mystical body of Christ. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians and us: “Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12) So when one member suffers, we too suffer, and when rejoices, we too rejoice. Also, we commend the living to the Lord as a sign our concern and love for them. Trusting in the Lord is most times our best support that we can offer others.
This holds true for the deceased in a very important way. We intercede for them before the Lord and Our Lady in prayer with trust and support, knowing God is better for the care of others than we are in this instance.
Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can support others.  Joining together in prayer for the living and the dead entrusts us all into God’s care.
• Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who is going through a tough time
• Request a mass intention for a friend or family member who has passed away
• Keep your own book of prayer intentions, writing down the names of those who you are keeping in your prayers
• Ask a friend or family member if there is anything you can pray for them about
• Through prayer, entrust your cares and concerns for those around you to God
Peace in Christ,
Fr joe
Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The deacons and I have taken the time to write on the 7 deadly sins, and also these past 4 weeks we have written on the 4 cardinal virtues. Our desire in doing so was to bring to light how these deadly sins manifest and what undergirds them, also to understand the beauty and goodness that comes with living the cardinal virtues.
When we are invited to live the Christian life, these virtues coupled with grace are powerful. We grow in holiness and allow for opportunities to show others the joy that comes from living as a disciple of Jesus.
Our Gospel reading today illustrates for us the need to not seek honors but by taking the lowest place we can live humbly and trust in God’s grace and providence.
Being humble, C.S. Lewis states is “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Turning our attention to others is a selfless and loving action. Being humble in this respect allows us to see what the Lord would like us to see and not be preoccupied in our own ego, or perception.
Another aspect to notice in the gospel is giving without counting the cost. To be selfless in this way means we do not expect to be repaid when helping another out, we do so simply because we have been given such great goods, and as a result ought to be donating in similar fashion. Being a steward of our goods reminds us that in the end not one thing is our own, we are custodians of goods. Our true reward as Jesus mentions comes in resurrection, this gift of divine grace that we could never earn we receive by living the invitation that comes from him.
May we all receive the grace to live humbly and trust in the Lord’s invitation to be good selfless stewards.
Peace in Christ,
Fr joe
Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Message from Dcn Hal
Have you ever given much intentional thought as to living more resolutely under and within the Cardinal Virtue of Temperance. In the past, there have been times I thought it would be a good idea, but that really never worked out well. As soon as I stumbled, I stayed down and was back to my intemperate ways.
Temperance by means of a simple definition is the virtue which moderates in us the inordinate desire for sensible pleasure, keeping it within the limits assigned by reason and faith. Back in the days of Adam and Eve prior to the Fall, all their physical senses were in complete harmony and controlled by reason. Neither Adam nor Eve ever became compulsively obsessed with eating or sex or getting drunk. If they would have ever found themselves by chance in a long checkout line at King Soopers, they would have never given into compulsive purchases of M&M’s or anything else they had to stare at on the shelves around the cash register. They never got addicted to anything, and they never experienced unhealthy cravings. That seems like good living to me, right?
But then the Fall occurs with the first compulsive purchase; not those delectable chocolate covered peanuts, but rather as art presents it, an apple. And with that, all our powers of self-mastery were lost, and we began to drift naturally to the many unhealthy excesses in pursuit of physical pleasure. This never works out well for us and is why we ought to give intentional thought as to living more resolutely under and within the Cardinal Virtue of Temperance. And this is exactly what I did two weeks ago, I began practicing this virtue with great patience. I upped my prayer time and dedicated it to asking for an increase in temperance and began denying myself of certain sensible pleasures. And I must say, life has become much better.
I have drawn closer to Christ and in an odd way, my relationships with others have become more authentically Christian. Even those M&M’s that at one time I would have eaten by the handful, I have found through practicing temperance and controlling myself, I enjoy even more just having 5 or 6 individual pieces. Go figure. And that works with everything. Yes, everything.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “That’s great for you, but how can I grow in temperance?” Glad you asked. Here are three practical and perhaps obvious steps you can take. After all, they’re working for me.
Take less than you want –Again, this may not be fun at first. After all, you may really want three scoops of ice cream. Take less than you want, though, and savor it. Do this repeatedly, and you will begin to wonder why you ever needed more.
Tell yourself no altogether – The world will tell you that you DESERVE to indulge yourself, that you are entitled to the maximum amount of pleasure. That simply isn’t true. Next time you want to indulge yourself, just say no. Again, the point of this is not just a joyless self-denial, but rather a positive learning of self-control that will teach us to enjoy less more.
Get uncomfortable – Many of the saints have said that one of our biggest enemies of our spiritual lives is the love of comfort. For example, we want to lay in bed as long as possible rather than getting up immediately—that sort of thing. We need to push ourselves into uncomfortable territory.
Many have thought temperance to be a gloomy and dour virtue, practiced only by those who do not want to have any fun. I can tell you firsthand, this is not true. When our inordinate desire for sensible pleasures comes under control and works in harmony with reason, we find a new and most beautiful kind of peace. We won’t dread being stuck in those long checkout lines at the grocery store faced with all those impulsive purchase opportunities. Practice temperance and live in God’s peace. It’s quite nice, I might add.
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Brothers and sisters,
In our lives whether we have already experienced what it means to exhibit real fortitude personally or in observing the sufferings of others, we know that we may face extremely challenging obstacles in life. Our suffering is the result of original sin and not because God wants us to suffer. He knows the courage that we must have when faced with tremendous pain or adversity. But he wants us to fight the good fight and never give in. Jesus knows well if the world says they hate you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (Jn: 15).
Fortitude is the strength of character that enables a person to endure pain or adversity with courage. It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many times, when we hear or read about examples of a saint, a martyr, or in the passion of Jesus we think about fortitude. But we do not have to go far from our own lives to know of the fortitude we experience.
We may know directly of a firefighter that rescued a family from a burning building and died trying to save more people. Or perhaps a military veteran that served others by helping to keep them free from harm. Or the medical heroes that workday and night to help whenever the call comes. We are called in one way or another to be courageous as a witness to our faith. Our faith is a crucial tool when we are in battle when faced with challenges in our lives. I heard one example where a caregiver could tell immediately in a hospital or assisted living facility if a patient had God in their lives. The people with Jesus in their lives find great consolation and fortitude that helps in carrying their burden.
Hebrews 12:1-4 asks us to “rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” As a runner needs water to run and persevere in that race, we are given that water in our baptism that helps keep our focus on Jesus. He endures for us, so do not be weary or lose heart. He takes on the burden for you and me. He comes to our aid in Psalm 40. Whether we are poor or afflicted the Lord thinks of us!
Having a fruitful prayer life will help us grow in faith knowing Jesus is with us in the good and the challenging times. We can learn many things from how we maintain courage in our pain and adversity in Joy in Suffering, A Nine-day Novena” by Bishop A. A. Noser. St Therese of Lisieux felt “our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficultly, but at the love with which we
do them (P. 18).” Some of us carry little crosses or hidden crosses that we simply do not want to share with others. Some of us have vocational crosses in the laity or in religious orders.
What St. Therese of Lisieux gives us most firmly when she discusses the Christian virtue of fortitude is the heroic and joyous manner of how St. Therese endures her cross of pain. She is heroic by putting on the armor of God! The martyrs will use the gifts of fortitude to keep them strong. St. Therese keeps strong with prayer and the openness to the gift of fortitude that allows endurance through the pain. She felt that “if you faithfully continue to give pleasure to Him in small things, Jesus will help you in the greater (P. 54).”
For example, what we personally experience in our own lives or what we have observed of others, we can learn about facing adversity with courage, strength, and even joy in suffering. St. Therese made it clear that her suffering was eased with Gods help and she was at peace giving up all self-seeking rewards and
giving all to God:
“Remember, Jesus, that thy Holy Will is all repose and my joy most blest; in holy abandonment—nothing I fear—in thy sacred arms, my God, I rest (P. 61)!”
Deacon Patrick

6th Sunday of Easter

In our lives we see the good versus evil. The light versus darkness.   Love versus hate.  We have so many fictional stories to choose from but the truth is directly in front of us.

Something greater than we can ever hope to completely understand is the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus was only with us in bodily form for 33 years, but how does he find a way to continue to help us?  It is through this gift of the Holy Spirit that is within us.  Jesus asks us and all those that choose to follow him to be Advocates.  To allow the Holy Spirit to help us guide others to Jesus. These people have come to us throughout time to teach his work and remind us of the great gift he gives us. The master teaches the prodigy, the prodigy becomes the master and then teaches others by the gift of the Holy Spirit that has been given to them.

Not all will listen though and that is the travesty.  For example, Judas challenged Jesus like the scribes and pharisees.  It was a final attempt by Jesus though to encourage Judas not to go to the dark side.  Not to go to sin but rather go to the light of Jesus.

Doesn’t this happen in our lives today? Are some of us simply leading a life like that of the scribes and pharisees?  For some our hypocritical natures cloud our lives in darkness and we grasp for anything that we think will bring us true happiness.  Some never find true happiness because they do not have Jesus in their lives.  Some of us spend our lives Challenging rules and laws that we have written rather than relying on the written and spoken word of Jesus?

Hasn’t Jesus already given us the gift of what we should do?  Not in terms of shall not, but in a positive framework that we shall as he knows the darkness if we don’t.  What then is the fundamental teaching we can take from Jesus message today, for his children among us?

It is to love, to share love, and teach others all we learn about true love to all we meet.

What is the definition of true love?

Jesus describes it in the Gospel this week:

  1. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.
  2. Whoever loves me will keep his word.  Focus on love and be loved.
  3. Whoever loves me the Father will love them.  Not just some but all will be loved.
  4. Whoever loves me, we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.  Love the poor, the downtrodden the sick, the shamed, the elderly, the forgotten, our enemies.
  5. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit who the Father sends in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have told you. By Reading the Gospel, the word of God, the priests, and religious are the advocates, those that remind us of the message of Jesus.  Be an advocate for Jesus.  Share his word and share this message of love with others.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say and when.  Let the gift of Love from the Holy Spirit guide you. Do not be afraid.

In Christ,

Deacon Patrick

4th Sunday of Easter
Love one another
We are moving rapidly through the Easter season of the church away from some of the passionate readings and Gospels to short and succinct crucial teachings from Jesus. Before long the disciples will know why Jesus is so direct as they are told Jesus will be with them only a little while longer. Are we taking this time of reflection to contemplate all we can from the messages Jesus gives us?
Judas squandered an opportunity to love and serve Jesus. Instead, he chose the darkness. Jesus does not want his disciples nor us to lose sight of the reason Jesus died for us. He did so because he loves us so much. He does this even knowing we have our faults, our sins, and our worries. But Jesus wants us to never forget the importance of love. The love he has always had for us, and that he has for us for eternity. That is a great message to ponder anytime, whether faced with joy and happiness or sorrow and challenge in life. We are always loved by Jesus.
How do we share our love with others? Jesus wants us to love him and others. Maybe we give signs of our love to our family with great big hugs when we see loved ones return home. Perhaps it is teaching someone about Jesus and why we love him so much. Or maybe it could be simply to allow the fruit of our baptism to flourish by keeping our hearts open to Gods direction for us.
Jesus alludes to the message of our salvation and freedom from sin, which is the ultimate gift of love for us. Revelation 21:1-5a tells us there will be a new heaven and new earth. God will wipe away the tears, and there will be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain. This will all pass away. Our suffering is rewarded with the ultimate gift of love which is the kingdom of heaven. St. Therese of Lisieux learned a great deal about suffering and the love of Jesus for her. Maybe she is someone we can pray for and reflect upon as we learn more about love.
This week’s story of love is truly the good news story that the father loves his children and will not abandon them. He loves us and asks us to love others as the father loves us. The best way we can allow love in our lives is to maintain faith in Gods promise of love and joy for us. We can continue to share that with others and learn all we can today about the beauty of the message of love that Jesus shares.
Brothers and sisters please remember this week’s message to share the gift of love with others in everything we do. Allow the truth of God’s love for us to direct our lives and help others always.
In Christ,
Deacon Patrick

5th Sunday of Lent

Dear brothers and sisters, 

In Sunday’s Gospel we have the story of the adulterous woman, who was caught in the act, and whom the scribes and Pharisees wanted to condemn. At the end of this Gospel, we hear these powerful words that Jesus tells her: Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”  

But how is this possible for the woman? how is this possible for us?  

For the scribes and Pharisees who brought the adulterous woman to Jesus, she was just a sinner and deserved death, she had no name, she was not given an opportunity to defend herself, she was just treated as if she was not worthy of existence. 

However, after the dialogue between Jesus and the accusers, when Jesus and the adulterous woman were left alone, a dialogue between her and Jesus starts. Jesus acknowledges her and forgives her sin. 

Jesus offers her an opportunity to start this relationship with Him, a relationship where He offers His forgiveness, His mercy, and His grace. 

This relationship with Jesus, an encounter with Him and His mercy, is what she needed to leave sin behind and start a new life, and this is what we need to leave our sinful life. We need to develop this relationship with our Savior, who doesn’t condemn us, but wants us to live an abundant life.  

We know that the reward of sin is death, but we also know that the reward of a relationship with Jesus and a sacramental life is eternal life.  

This lasts weeks of Lent, let us remember that the only sinner that we can bring to Jesus for judgement is ourselves, let us remember that the only way to not die because of our sin, is to have a relationship with our Lord and Savior and participate in the sacraments.  

Peace and All Good, 

Deacon Alex Díaz OFMCap. 

4th Sunday of Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The 4th week of Lent asks us the question: are we following the light of Jesus or are we sinking further into the darkness and away from His love?

The Jewish people were closed to turning on the light of truth that Jesus brought to them. We live in the light of the world today with the timer ticking to learn from Jesus.The eternal light is on for us if we learn to be better and let His light shine in our lives. We cannot change our past, but we can certainly learn from it. Maybe we are focusing on being more patient this Lent or simply opening our eyes to experience new ways of doing things like Jesus would do.

This Lent we should continue to focus on improving in our daily lives and washing ourselves from our sins in the confessional.Doing this will open our eyes again to the light of Christ.Prayer is another way to turn on the light of Christ in our lives. At some of the quietest times, his light will open our minds to ways we can become closer to him. Even a single light from a candle might be the spark we need to experience this light of truth. 

Jesus reminds us that the sins of our predecessors in life chose their direction and made missteps. This is how we learn. God is teaching us about sin and the light of the world like the blind man in the Gospel or for a son or daughter that comes back to God after losing their way. God gives us the light. He turns off the darkness in our lives if we simply allow him in. Let him turn on the light in our heart and allow the Holy Spirit to light our way.

We are halfway through Lent. Turn on the lights and turn off the darkness.

In Christ,

Deacon Patrick

3rd Sunday in Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

This third Sunday of Lent we hear in Luke’s Gospel the parable of the fig tree, and before Jesus tells the parable, he says this twice, “But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”  

How do we understand this Gospel as a call to conversion? 

At that time, any farmer, who was an observant Israelite, would have a fruit tree for at least nine years planted before he could expect fruits. Three years for the tree to grow and bear its first fruit, three years when people were prohibited from eating from that fruit, as is mentioned in the book of Leviticus 19:23 When you come into the land and plant any fruit tree there, first look upon its fruit as if it were uncircumcised. For three years, it shall be uncircumcised for you; it may not be eaten. And another three years during which the owner of the orchard was hoping to get some fruit.  

Fruit trees that did not produce fruits, were not only cut down, but were actually dig out from the root and burned, as we read in Luke 3:9 “Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 

Jesus did not come unexpected, John the Baptist prepared His way, he went through the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and inviting people to produce good fruits as we read in Luke 3:8 “Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance.” 

Jesus also spent three years in public ministry before His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, trying to harvest these fruits. 

What are these fruits that the Lord expects from us, so we are not fruitless as the Israelites were, as we see in Jeremiah 8:13 I will gather them all in—oracle of the LORD: no grapes on the vine, no figs on the fig trees, foliage withered! Whatever I have given them is gone.” 

The fig tree was given another opportunity, God gives us another opportunity this Lent to repent and convert to the Gospel. He gives us another opportunity to reflect on our Baptism, which replaced circumcision. As the fruit tree was supposed to bear fruit after three years when it was ‘circumcised’ as mentioned in Leviticus, we are too to be bear fruit with the graces we receive in our Baptism. Not judging, not condemning forgiving, not looking for the better places, serving our neighbor, humbling oneself. These are some of the fruits that the Lord expect from us, and that we hear about them in this week’s Gospels. 

This Lent, the Lord gives us another opportunity as He gave to the fig tree, let us go to the Sacrament of Confession, let us return to the Lord with a humble and contrite heart, this Lent let us try to serve and to love.  

Peace and All Good, 

Deacon Alex Díaz OFMCap.  

Does anyone want to be free of their distress? Who wants to have light in their lives rather than the fear of darkness? Are we willing to change our focus from earthly things to the citizenship of heaven? 

All these questions are answered in the second Sunday of Lent. It is God that frees us from the grips of fear and distress in our lives. He has compassion and mercy for those that seek him out. That is great consolation for us in these challenging times. We can simply open the door to our hearts and let God in to help us. 

If we have God in our lives to light our way we can know what is before us in the darkness. With Gods light we will know obstacles before us that would otherwise be hidden. It is then we gain courage because when God is with us we should not fear.  Isn’t it reassuring to know that God is there to help guide us with his light on our way?    

It is this light, a transfigured light of love that shines brightly before us this week. Are we willing to change our ways this Lenten season to allow the light of salvation into our lives? God reminds us this week to listen to his son Jesus. He lets the disciples know how important it is to listen to him. If we listen to the words of the Gospel we can learn to reduce stress in our lives. We can shut off the dark by turning on the light of God’s love for us. And if we do these simple things we can earn our salvation. The disciples witnessed for themselves the glory of God.  Later they shared this beautiful message of knowing the light of his love for us.   

Let us stay true to our Lenten promises and persevere. God is leaving the light on for us. 

In Christ, 

Deacon Patrick

1st Sunday of Lent

Brothers and sisters,

Ash Wednesday is already here, we’re already in the liturgical season of Lent, a time to repent and convert.

Every year we celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent is not just to remember what happened to Christ, but to live with Him, to suffer with Him, to die with Him, so we can rise with Him.

In order to celebrate His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, we must prepare ourselves. This preparation is what Lent is about.

When ashes are put on out forehead, we hear the invitation to repent, and believe in the Gospel, or to remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.

It is an opportunity to return to Him, as we hear in the today’s first reading from the book of Joel, “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

Let us approach this Lent, acknowledging that we are sinners in need of His mercy, repeating what the psalmist said, “For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always.”

It is a time to reconcile with God, as we hear on the second reading, but also it is a time to reconcile with our neighbor, with those who have hurt us. The sacrament of reconciliation is a great way to reconcile with God and to forgive others. It also prepares our hearts to suffer, die, and rise with Christ.

Let us consider what type of reward we expect at the end of this Lenten season. Jesus mentions three things to do and the right way of doing them to get a reward. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Jesus mentions the reward for those who do these focusing on themselves, but He also mentions the repay for those who do it in secret, where only the Father finds out.

Let us follow Jesus advise and humbly prepare during this Lent for His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, let us suffer with Christ.

Brothers and sisters, let us not expect material rewards nor recognition, but suffering and death, death to ourselves and to the ways that separate us from Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we can rise with Him.


Peace and All Good,

Deacon Alex Díaz OFMCap.

4th Sunday in ordinary time

How do we hear the word of Jesus? We find the answer this week.  It is not simply a matter related to one of our senses.  We may experience Jesus’ love in a variety of ways and senses.  We may experience Jesus through the written word and his teaching.  The example of his love for us this week helps us understand him fully.  To hear his love for us in our hearts.

Today the good news is that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled!  How do we know it?  This is the gospel of good news.  Saint Luke in his Gospel reading for this week reminds us that we begin to “know” the ministry of Jesus because it is fulfilled in his suffering, death, and resurrection.   This is the example of infinite love Jesus fulfills for each one of us.

Many times, we can become complacent because we get used to the people and experiences, we are most familiar with.  We may tend to believe that is how things are supposed to be. This was no different in Capernaum for Jesus.  The people were simply not familiar with or accepting of what he had to say.  In life we may have to move to other areas, change jobs, or even find others that believe in Jesus, so we are able to receive his love more freely.

Jesus begins to reveal his love for us in his teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God.  As he does this more people begin to feel his love for them, to hear his message, in their hearts.  They hear the words of love from Jesus and begin to follow him.  For many people at the time, it seemed contrary to what they thought they were supposed to do in their lives.  Instead, Jesus’ followers went to be baptized, changed careers, and followed Jesus.

We learn about Jesus’ love for us by his patience, kindness, and expressions of joy for us.  Once we know this in our lives, we can more freely embrace all that Jesus has in store for us throughout our journey to him.  Love doesn’t fail.  Jesus’ ultimate gift of love for us is our salvation.

A wonderful way each of us can become closer to understanding Jesus’ love for us is to open our hearts to him in prayer.  To embrace his words and gifts no matter how small.  Perhaps praying the rosary, divine mercy chaplet, or simply meditating on a passage from scripture will open the door for us to Jesus.  He is waiting if we just allow him to enter our lives.

This week be ready to embrace the love Jesus has for you in your heart.  Are we ready to embrace and hear the word of Jesus?

In Christ,

Deacon Patrick

January 23rd, 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
January 22 has been designated by the U.S. bishops as a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn  Children” in reparation for the U.S. Supreme Court decision re: Roe v. Wade in 1973. This year will be the 49th anniversary and in these 49 years, an estimated 63 million babies have been aborted here in the U.S. alone.
Our bishops are inviting all the Catholic faithful to observe this day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person    committed through acts of abortion.
There are different ways in which each one of us could participate on this day of prayer and penance, one could be assisting Mass on January 22, another way could be praying a novena that starts on   January 19th and ends on the 27th. You can find the novena on this link https://www.respectlife.org/9-days-for-life and also you could pray the Rosary with your family, do a Holy Hour, or any prayer or penance you are able to do. Why should we be part of this? As Catholics we believe that all life from conception until natural death is sacred, and the taking of a innocent human life, whether born or unborn, is morally wrong.
The “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation” states that “from the moment of conception, the life of every human being is to be respected in an absolute way because man is the only creature on earth that God has “wished for himself ” and the spiritual soul of each man is “immediately  created” by God; his whole being bears the image of the Creator. Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves “the creative action of God” and it remains  forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being. Human procreation requires on the part of the spouses responsible collaboration with the fruitful love of God; the gift of human life must be actualized in marriage through the specific and exclusive acts of husband and wife, in accordance with the laws inscribed in their persons and in their union. (Donum Vitae,5)
Let us pray for the end to abortion!
Peace and All Good,
Deacon Alex Díaz OFM Cap.

January 16th, 2022

It’s all in the “Sign.” 

When we take a trip or simply try to navigate through life, we look to signs to help us along our way. We look for a way to help us navigate and overcome challenges and to get to our destination successfully without distractions and detours.
We reflect this week on the signs Jesus begins to give us to follow Him by removing distractions and detours. Today, the second Sunday of Ordinary time, Jesus reveals the first of seven signs that He is the Messiah (see the introduction of John’s Gospel for the seven signs). Jesus gives us the initial roadmap to help us overcome challenges in our lives. We learn more about this revelation on our way when we reflect upon this Gospel in the roadmap as we pray in the second Luminous mystery of the rosary.
The symbolism of how much water was turned into wine reminds us too of the abundance that awaits us in the wedding feast with God. Allowing Him to fill our very souls with His love in the end of times because He loves us so much. God chooses to intervene in our lives to provide a way for us to be redeemed from the original sin in the garden. Jesus is the redeemer promised to us in the scriptures.
So why then is this week’s Gospel so important? It is the new beginning of our salvation, as Jesus alludes to His passion, death, and resurrection right from the start of His ministry. He serves us the good wine at the end of the wedding rather than had been done historically at the beginning of the wedding feast. It is the new beginning, this Good News of salvation. We wait for the good news at the end of our life’s journey to be closer to him. This news shakes the understanding of Jesus by His disciples, and so they begin to believe in Him because they experience this sign. Maybe we ask ourselves so why does all this matter? Jesus did not simply help His family and friends but makes known to others these deeds are for the benefit of all. Even Mary began to understand there was something about her son that was different. It was a sign of a new beginning. As a result, Mary asks us to do whatever He tells us. 
During this new beginning in ordinary time, we are asked to proclaim His marvelous deeds. To let Him be part of our lives, families, and nations. We can bring a variety of gifts to the world that is inspired in us through the Holy Spirit. God has called each of us through the Gospel. What is he asking of you?
This good wine helps us out of our desolation. It helps us experience the delights that are given to us by our loving Father because He rejoices in those who love Him.
Are we ready to follow the sign from God?
Deacon Patrick Smith
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 
As we begin this Advent season, let us go back to the Beginning. Let us learn God’s story of Salvation and notice the goodness of Creation. His gift in creating, and the fact that we are created is something to bring before the Lord in our worship. Also feel free to take notes during the homily. 
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Joe 
Take time to think, pray and share with others your answers to the questions below: 
Through what lens do I view reality? 
Have I really thought about why I am here?
Have I been personally overwhelmed by the message of the Gospel and surrendered my life to Jesus? If so, how did that happen? If not, why not, and what might it take for that to happen?
What am I anxious or fearful about right now in my life? Is my life filled with confidence and trust or am I riddled with anxiety and fear?
What effect does contemplating the grandeur and magnificence of God and his personal love have on me and on my fears? 
What is my image of God now?
November 21st, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus,
The entire Archdiocese of Denver is going on retreat in these next weeks. Together we will be learning about and encountering the goodness of God in the way of understanding God’s story of Salvation. My notes going further will be shorter, and will have questions for you to take to prayer and I encourage conversation among yourselves. Also, please use the space provided to take notes during homilies throughout the time. 
Peace in Christ, 
Fr. Joe
Given this week and the Kingship of Jesus, knowing that Jesus is Lord of all, here are two questions to take to prayer and conversation. 
How does the Kingship of Jesus over both the internal and external dimensions of your life challenge you?
In Baptism we become a member of Christ’s body. How does this truth inspire and challenge you when you see the Body of Christ on the Crucifix?

August 1st, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


Please enjoy the reflection below from Franciscan University of Steubenville for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Peace in Christ,

Fr joe


Endurance Test: Reflections on the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time


The journey of discipleship is a life-long exodus from the slavery of sin and death to the holiness of truth in Mount Zion, the promised land of eternal life. The road can get rough. And when it does, we can be tempted to complain like the Israelites in this week’s First Reading.

We have to see these times of hardship as a test of what is in our hearts, a call to trust God more and to purify the motives for our faith (Deuteronomy 8:2–3).

As Paul reminds us in this week’s Epistle, we must leave behind our old self-deceptions and desires and live according to the likeness of God in which we are made.

Jesus tells the crowd in this week’s Gospel that they are following him for the wrong reasons. They seek him because he filled their bellies. The Israelites, too, were content to follow God so long as there was plenty of food.

Food is the most obvious of signs—because it is the most basic of our human needs.  We need our daily bread to live. But we cannot live by this bread alone. We need the bread of eternal life that preserves those who believe in him (Wisdom 16:20, 26).

The manna in the wilderness, like the bread Jesus multiplied for the crowd, was a sign of God’s Providence—that we should trust that he will provide.

These signs pointed to their fulfillment in the Eucharist, the abundant bread of angels we sing about in this week’s Psalm.

This is the food that God longs to give us. This is the bread we should be seeking. But too often we don’t ask for this bread. Instead, we seek the perishable stuff of our everyday wants and anxieties. In our weakness we think these things are what we really need.

We have to trust God more. If we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, all these things will be ours as well. (Matthew 6:33)*

* (https://www.faithandreason.com/2012/08/endurance-test-reflections-on-the-18th-sunday-of-ordinary-time/)

July 25th, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our Gospel from St. John (6:1-15) is the beginning of what many consider as the foundational Scriptures for us who believe in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Yet, before we arrive to those lines of our Lord, Today’s passage reminds us to give over to the Lord any and all we have so that He can do astounding things.  We notice that the disciples with Jesus have been traveling. He has been healing people and drawing people to Himself and to God the Father. At this point in their journeying, with the feast of Passover approaching all are getting ready to celebrate God’s great mercy of delivering His people from Pharoah and Egypt.  With Jesus, we begin to learn part of His mission in drawing people to Himself and the Father, as the disciples gather all present and notice Jesus taking the five loaves and two fish taking, and giving thanks, then giving them out to distribute. (John 6: 11a) This for us Catholics comes to reality in the ministry of the Priest acting the in the person of Christ making the One same sacrifice of Jesus to the Father in the Mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. May we remember this One saving action of Christ wedding us to God, as we understand in the Catechism, which speaks of the foreshadowing of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes:

1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. (Cf. Mt 14:13-21; 15:32-39. ) The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ. (Cf. Jn 2:11; Mk 14:25.)

Image from: Benziger Brothers, Inc. Bible Stories for Little Children (New York, NY: Benziger Brothers, Inc., 1894) 57


Peace in Christ,

Fr joe

July 18th, 2021

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let us heed to Jesus’ request, and rest. One way to do this in what I call a Desert Day, below are the rules that provide framework.

Some Notes for a Desert Day

  • A desert day is based on our ability to make a retreat anywhere, anytime, even in the middle of a city, and can be a great source of life and strength in the life of all Christians. It is a time a deep silence and solitude, and listening in the midst of the world.
  • A desert day can start any time and last for any amount of time, and it is determined by our intention to do it. For most, it will normally be for 24 hours.
  • One would normally start with a reading from scripture or some great spiritual author. One could listen to a spiritual talk for 30-45 minutes.
  • At that point, we specifically ask for the grace that the Lord would take us wherever he wants us to go, first interiorly, second exteriorly. So maybe we mostly stay in our rooms, or we go to the mountains, or in more extreme cases, we spend the night in our car out in the eastern plains or pray next to a homeless shelter one afternoon. The distinction is not that we go wherever we want to go, or invent a new adventure for ourselves, but that we go wherever we sense the Holy Spirit is prompting us to go, for whatever reasons he is prompting us.
  • (When in doubt, be explicit in asking for graces from Jesus and entrust your cares to him with Mary’s intercession.)
  • There is a strong presumption that this will be completely in silence. However, the Lord may bring a conversation to you that you cannot avoid. Then that conversation is fully part of the substance of your desert day retreat.
  • There is a presumption that you would bring a bible and a journal (and maybe a great spiritual classic, if the Lord seems to indicate so). Of course, the Breviary (use Breviary or Laudate apps) and the Rosary are welcome and appropriate too.
  • There is also a presumption that part of the day would involve time with the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, even a holy hour, even though the whole desert day time is consecrated to him.
  • A good way to end is with a Mass, or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Little Mandate of Catherine de Rueck Doherty

Arise- go! Sell all you possess. Give it directly, personally to the poor. Take up My cross (their cross) and follow Me, going to the poor, being poor, being one with them, one with Me. Little – be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike. Preach the Gospel with your life – without compromise! Listen to the Spirit. He will lead you. Do little things exceedingly well for love of Me. Love … love … love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with Me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your Neighbour’s feet. Go without fear into the depth of men’s hearts. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest.

Peace in Christ,

Fr joe

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


In our Gospel for today we notice the healing of the hemorrhaging woman. Imaginably, the fact that she had been hemorrhaging for 12 years is startling, and yet perhaps after a certain time, she might have presumed that this condition would be normative, and thus “lived with it.”  Yet, what we notice in Mark’s gospel is not that at all. She realizes that Jesus has power, and this power is one for healing, and giving strength. “If I but touch his clothes…” she utters, and trusting in the ability of Jesus to be able to heal her. Immediately the hemorrhage ceases and she is healed. Naturally, Jesus amid all the people could not tell directly who had touched him, though visibly seeing her, a profound encounter begins to surface between Jesus and this woman; she realizes the one who healed her, and his immense humble power.


Brothers and sisters, how often could we be like this woman, living with long-suffering pains, addictions, vices? Do we have the audacity like her to approach Jesus? Do we approach him in the confessional to find healing and absolution? Will we approach the altar and eat Him in Eucharist? Do we quietly seek Him in prayer to be with him intimately there? Do we seek Him in the Scriptures and our priests and  others in the faith? I pray that each of us this week may draw near to the Lord Jesus to seek the healing He offers.


Peace in Christ,


Fr. Joe


James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Woman with an Issue of Blood (L’hémoroïsse), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 11 x 7 1/16 in. (27.9 x 17.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.111 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.111_PS2.jpg

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”- (Mark 4:38b)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


At times in our relationship with God we may consider this question by the disciples to be a valid one to ask the Lord. Certainly, I have asked Jesus this question with some frequency, albeit in a different manner: “Lord, don’t you care?” This question typically surfaces when we face a bit of trauma, or as the storybook would have it as “a horrible, no good, very bad day.”However, I would submit to you that the Lord thoroughly understands you and desires to be invited into the mess. We’re certainly not “perishing”, though at times the waters of life can be tumultuous, and difficult. Knowing that we don’t have the strength to survive on our own is all the more reason to call out to Jesus, and seek his love, remedy, in the Sacraments, and His life. Allowing God to be our firm foundation as we pray in the

Collect for Mass reminds us to love and revere His holy name and never be deprived of His guidance through those seas of life be they stormy or tranquil. Don’t be afraid to call on Him, and allow His voice in the Scriptures to console you.


Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe


1Rembrandt,  Christ in the Storm, 1633, Oil on Canvas.

2Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, 2nd ed., Atheneum Books for Young Readers,                 1987.

April 23, 2021

Dear Friends,

Please enjoy a second installment of an audience given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from January 2009.


Fr. Joe

“…Then, in a second sense, Christ is not only considered as head of the Church but also as head of the heavenly powers and of the entire cosmos. Thus, in Colossians, we read that Christ has “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him” (2:15).

Similarly, in Ephesians we find it written that with His Resurrection God placed Christ “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (1:21).

With these words the two Letters bring us a highly positive and fruitful message. It is this: Christ has no possible rival to fear since he is superior to every form of power that might presume to humble man.

He alone “loved us and gave Himself up for us” (Eph 5:2). Thus, if we are united with Christ, we have no enemy or adversity to fear; but this therefore means that we must continue to cling firmly to Him, without loosening our grip!

For the pagan world that believed in a world filled with spirits — for the most part dangerous and from which it was essential to protect oneself — the proclamation that Christ was the only conqueror and that those with Christ need fear no one seemed a true liberation.

The same is also true for the paganism of today, since current followers of similar ideologies see the world as full of dangerous powers. It is necessary to proclaim to them that Christ is triumphant, so that those who are with Christ, who stay united to Him, have nothing and no one to fear. I think that this is also important for us, that we must learn to face all fears because he is above all forms of domination, He is the true Lord of the world.

Even the entire cosmos is subject to Him and converges in Him as its own head. The words in the Letter to the Ephesians that speak of God’s plan “to unite all things in Him, things in Heaven and things on earth” (1:10) are famous. Likewise, we read in the Letter to the Colossians that “in Him all things were created, in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (1:16), and that “making peace by the Blood of His Cross…. Reconcile [d] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (1:20).

Therefore, there is not, on the one hand, the great material world and, on the other, this small reality of the history of our earth, of the world of people: it is all one in Christ. He is the head of the cosmos; the cosmos too was created by Him; it was created for us to the extent that we are united with Him. It is a rational and personalistic vision of the universe. I would say that it would have been impossible to conceive of a vision more universalistic than this, and that it befits the Risen Christ alone.

Christ is the Pantokrator to which all things are subordinate. Our thoughts turn precisely to Christ the Pantokrator, who fills the vault of the apse in Byzantine churches, sometimes depicted seated on high, above the whole world, or even on a rainbow, to show his equality with God Himself at whose right hand He is seated (cf. Eph 1:20; Col 3: 1) and thus also His incomparable role as the guide of human destiny.

April 16, 2021

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Church: A Body Vitalized by Christ’s Commandments.


Fr. Joe

Pope Benedict XVI’s General Audience on the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In St. Paul’s correspondence there are two Letters — to the Colossians and to the Ephesians — that to a certain extent can be considered twins. In fact, they both contain expressions that are found in them alone, and it has been calculated that more than a third of the words in the Letter to the Colossians are also found in the Letter to the Ephesians.

For example, while in Colossians we read literally the invitation to “admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col 3:16), in his Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul likewise recommends “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing praise to the Lord with all your heart” (Eph 5:19).

We could meditate upon these words: the heart must sing with psalms and hymns — and the voice in the same way — in order to enter the tradition of prayer of the whole of the Church of the Old and New Testaments. Thus we learn to be with ourselves and one another and with God.

In addition, the “domestic code” that is absent in the other Pauline Letters is found in these two — in other words, a series of recommendations addressed to husbands and wives, to parents and children, to masters and slaves (Col 3:18-4:1 and Eph 5:22-6:9, respectively).

It is even more important to notice that only in these two Letters is the title “head” — kefalé — given to Jesus Christ. And this title is used on two levels.

In the first sense, Christ is understood as head of the Church (Col 2:18-19 and Eph 4:15-16). This means two things: first of all that He is the governor, the leader, the person in charge who guides the Christian community as its leader and Lord (Col 1:18: “He is the head of the body, the Church”).

The other meaning is then that as head He innervates and vivifies all the members of the body that He controls. (In fact, according to Colossians 2:19, it is necessary “[to hold] fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, [is] nourished and knit together”). That is, He is not only one who commands but also one who is organically connected with us, from whom comes the power to act in an upright way.

In both cases, the Church is considered subject to Christ, both in order to follow His supervision — the commandments — and to accept all of the vital influences that emanate from Him. His commandments are not only words or orders but a vital energy that comes from Him and helps us.

This idea is developed particularly in Ephesians where, instead of being traced back to the Spirit (as in Corinthians 12), even the ministries of the Church are conferred by the Risen Christ. It is He who established “that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers” (4:11). And it is from Him that “the whole body grows, and… joined firmly together by each supporting ligament, builds itself up in love” (4:16).

Christ, in fact, fully strives to “present to Himself a glorious Church, holy and immaculate, without stain or wrinkle or anything of that sort” (Eph 5:27). In saying this, He tells us that the power with which He builds the Church — with which He guides the Church, with which He also gives the Church the right direction — is precisely his love.

The first meaning is therefore, Christ, Head of the Church; both with regard to her direction and, above all, with regard to her inspiration and organic revitalization by virtue of his love.

April 9, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, let us read below from Pope Saint John Paul II from his homily of 30 April 2000 on the canonization of Sr. Mary Faustina Kowloska.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

“It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called Divine Mercy Sunday. In the various readings, the liturgy seems to indicate the path of mercy which, while reestablishing the relationship of each person with God, also creates new relations of fraternal solidarity among human beings. Christ has taught us that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but is also called to practice mercy towards others: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Mt. 5:7)

He also showed us the many paths of mercy, which not only forgives sins but reaches out to all human needs. Jesus bent over every kind of human poverty: material and spiritual. His message of mercy continues to reach us through His hands held out to suffering man. This is how Sr. Faustina saw Him and proclaimed Him to people on all the continents when, hidden in her convent at Łagiewniki in Kraków, she made her life a hymn to mercy: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo.

Sr. Faustina’s canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium. I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of their brethren. In fact, love of God and love of one’s brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. (5:2)

Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments. It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned be penetrating the mystery of God’s love. Looking at Him, being one with His fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy.”

April 2, 2021

Christ is Risen! Truly, He is Risen!
Christus Resurrexit! Vere Resurrexit!
Χριστός Ανέστη! Aληθώς ανέστη!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This is a beautiful time. In the natural world, new life is springing up: flora and fauna alike. In this time, too, our Savior conquers death, reminding us that even death is not the last event. Resurrection and new life are found in Jesus, and we can live in His light and life among our family and friends.

May you in this time receive God’s love in our Risen Lord by being reminded as we did in the Gospel Acclamation: “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed; let us then feast with joy in the Lord.” Alleluia.

In Christ’s Love.

Fr. Joe

March 26, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Below is an excerpt from a Homily for Palm Sunday by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from 2011:

“It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday as we go up the mountain with Jesus, to-wards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent. On this day, throughout the world and across the centuries, young people and people of every age acclaim him, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But what are we really doing when we join this procession as part of the throng which went up with Jesus to Jerusalem and hailed him as King of Israel? Is this anything more than a ritual, a quaint custom? Does it have anything to do with the reality of our life and our world? To answer this, we must first be clear about what Jesus himself wished to do and actually did.

After Peter’s confession of faith in Caesarea Philippi, in the northernmost part of the Holy Land, Jesus set out as a pilgrim towards Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. He was journeying towards the Temple in the Holy City, towards that place which for Israel ensured in a particular way God’s closeness to his people. He was making his way towards the common feast of Passover, the memorial of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and the sign of its hope of definitive liberation.

He knew that what awaited him was a new Passover and that he himself would take the place of the sacrificial lambs by offering himself on the cross. He knew that in the mysterious gifts of bread and wine he would give himself for ever to his own, and that he would open to them the door to a new path of liberation, to fellowship with the living God. He was making his way to the heights of the Cross, to the moment of self-giving love. The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being….

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection be-tween two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.

Following the Liturgy of the Word, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer where the Lord comes into our midst, the Church invites us to lift up our hearts: “Sursum corda!” In the language of the Bible and the thinking of the Fathers, the heart is the center of man, where under-standing, will and feeling, body and soul, all come together. The center where spirit becomes body and body becomes spirit, where will, feeling and understanding become one in the knowledge and love of God. This is the “heart” which must be lifted up.

But to repeat: of ourselves, we are too weak to lift up our hearts to the heights of God. We cannot do it. The very pride of thinking that we are able to do it on our own drags us down and estranges us from God. God himself must draw us up, and this is what Christ began to do on the cross. He descended to the depths of our human existence in order to draw us up to himself, to the living God. He humbled himself, as to-day’s second reading says. Only in this way could our pride be vanquished: God’s humility is the extreme form of his love, and this humble love draws us upwards.

We are on a pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. We are striving for pure hearts and clean hands, we are seeking truth, we are seeking the face of God. Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask Him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure!


Fr. Joe

March 19, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Please join me in praying the Litany, below:


Fr. Joe

Litany of Saint Joseph

Lord, have mercy on us….
Christ, have mercy on us….
Lord, have mercy on us….

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us .
Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Illustrious son of David….
Light of the patriarchs….
Spouse of the Mother of God….
Chaste guardian of the Virgin….
Foster-father of the Son of God….
Watchful defender of Christ….
Head of the Holy Family….

Joseph most just….
Joseph most chaste….
Joseph most prudent….
Joseph most valiant….
Joseph most obedient….
Joseph most faithful….
Mirror of patience….
Lover of poverty….
Model of workmen….
Glory of domestic life….
Guardian of virgins….
Pillar of families….
Solace of the afflicted….
Hope of the sick….
Patron of the dying….
Terror of demons….
Protector of Holy Church….

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

He made him the lord of His household,

And prince over all His possessions.

O God, Who in Thine ineffable providence didst choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most Holy Mother, grant that as we venerate him as our protector on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in Heaven, Thou Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen

March 12, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we move closer to the Paschal celebration of the Lord’s resurrection, we may ask why is the Fourth Sunday of Lent called Laetare Sunday?

The name comes from the first words of the Entrance Antiphon for Mass, Laetare Jerusalem or “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” Signs of joy are allowed on this day, expressing our belief in the hope of the resurrection and to inspire us as we continue our Lenten commitments to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. According to the Roman Missal, instrumental music is permitted and the altar may be decorated with flowers.

Rose-colored Mass vestments, symbolizing joy, may be worn instead of purple to indicate the contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays of Lent. The tradition of using the color rose is thought to come from the tradition of the Golden Rose; at one time popes sent golden roses to Catholic heads of state in Europe on this Sunday.

The Fourth Sunday of Lent marks the half-way point of the Lenten season, even though the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the actual middle day of Lent. It also was once called Refreshment Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves, for the miracle of the boy with loaves and fishes in the Gospel of John.

Finally, the Fourth Sunday of Lent was previously observed as Mothering Sunday in reference to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, where the faithful are called “sons and daughters of God.” Families visited the church where they were baptized or made offerings to the cathedral, or mother-church, on this Sunday.

How can we observe Laetare Sunday in our home?
• Surprise someone with a rose or have roses on the dinner table.
• Plant a rose bush at home or for a friend.
• Share stories of where family members were baptized; take a drive to “your mother church.”

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

St. Bernadette Parish wishes to acknowledge and express its appreciation to the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, for this material.

March 5, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Below are some quotes on Almsgiving that are good reminders for us in the Lenten season. May they convict our resolve to grow in love of God and our neighbor.

The bread you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor. – St. Basil the Great

The rich man who gives to the poor does not bestow alms but pays a debt. – St. Ambrose of Milan

It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn’t give to someone in greater need than we are. – St. Francis of Assisi

As far as you can, do some manual work so as to be able to give alms, for it is written that alms and faith purify from sin. – St. Poemen

God has no need of your money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it. – St. Augustine

Charity is no substitute for justice withheld. – St. Augustine

‘”Give,” he says, “and it shall be given to you.” How soon do the misgivings of distrust and the puttings off of avarice fall to the ground, when humanity may fearlessly spend what the Truth pledges Himself to repay.

Be steadfast, Christian giver: give what you may receive, sow what you may reap, scatter what you may gather. Fear not to spend, sigh not over the doubtfulness of the gain. Your substance grows when it is wisely dispensed. Set your heart on the profits due to mercy, and traffic in eternal gains.

Your Recompenser wishes you to be munificent, and He who gives that you may have, commands you to spend, saying, “Give, and it shall be given to you.” You must thankfully embrace the conditions of this promise. For although you have nothing that you did not receive, yet you cannot fail to have what you give. – Pope St. Leo the Great

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

February 26, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Continuing with our Lenten campaign, following are several reflections on prayer to consider should the desire or inspiration to engage in prayer be lacking or absent.

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy. – St Therese of Lesieux

Prayer begins by talking to God, but it ends by listening to Him. In the face of Absolute Truth, silence is the soul’s language. – Fulton J. Sheen

If you have lost the taste for prayer, you will regain the desire for it by humbly returning to its practice. – St. Pope Paul VI

Our strength is prayer and the prayer of a humble person is the weakness of God. The Lord is weak only in this one sense: He is weak before the prayers of his people. -Pope Francis

Love to pray. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. – St Theresa of Calcutta

If the lungs of prayer and the Word of God do not nourish the breath of the spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the midst of a thousand daily cares. Prayer is the breath of the soul and life. – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

February 19, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we enter into the season of Lent, we begin to live intentionally by praying, fasting and giving alms. Following are some sayings to consider about fasting by the early Church fathers:

Pope Clement I (died 99 or 101)
“Let them, therefore, with fasting and with prayer make their adjurations, and not with the elegant and well-arranged and fitly-ordered words of learning, but as men who have received the gift of healing from God, confidently, to the glory of God. By your fastings and prayers and perpetual watching, together with your other good works, mortify the works of the flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit” – Two Epistles of Virginity, 12

Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) (c. 70–140)
“Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand. Your fasts must not be identical with those of the hypocrites.” – Didache, 7

The Shepherd of Hermas (c. 90–140)
“This fasting … is very good, provided the commandments of the Lord be observed …. First of all, be on your guard against every evil word, and every evil desire, and purify your heart from all the vanities of this world. If you guard against these things, your fasting will be perfect. And you will do also as follows. Having fulfilled what is written, in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord.

If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the Lord.” – Shepherd of Hermas, Book 3, Similitude 5, Chapter 3

Saint Basil the Great, (330–379)
“Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness.” – Homily on Fasting (text available in print)

Saint Augustine (354–430)
“Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. Enter again into yourself.” – Sermon, On Prayer and Fasting, LXXII

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

February 12, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we gear up for the Lenten season and desire to draw near to God in forms of penance and reconciliation, let us consider the principle of Interior Penance first, thus allowing our external forms of penance be fruits of conversion and greater holiness.

Interior Penance (from Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance. (Joel 2:12-13; Isa 1:16-17; Mt 6:1-6; 16-18)

Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time, it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart). (Council of Trent (1551) DS 1676-1678; 1705; Roman Catechism, II, V, 4)

The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. (Ezek 36:26-27. ) Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!”(Lam 5:21.) God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. the human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced (John 19:37; Zech 12:10):

Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.

Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong about sin,” (John 16:8-9.) i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion. (John 15:26; Acts 2:36-38; John Paul II, DeV 27-48)

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

February 5, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We learn from the Second Reading from St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:16-23) on the urgency to preach the Gospel. Here is an excerpt from an encyclical by St. John Paul II: Redemptoris Missio, also known as “On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate.”

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

Faith in Christ Is Directed to Man’s Freedom

The urgency of missionary activity derives from the radical newness of life brought by Christ and lived by his followers. This new life is a gift from God, and people are asked to accept and develop it if they wish to realize the fullness of their vocation in conformity to Christ. The whole New Testament is a hymn to the new life of those who believe in Christ and live in his Church. Salvation in Christ, as witnessed to and proclaimed by the Church, is God’s self communication: “It is love which not only creates the good, but also grants participation in the very life of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For he who loves desires to give himself.” (Encyclical Letter Dives in Misericordia (November 30, 1980), 7: AAS 72 (1980), 1202.) God offers mankind this newness of life. “Can one reject Christ and everything that he has brought about in the history of mankind? Of course, one can. Man is free. He can say ‘no’ to God. He can say ‘no’ to Christ. But the fundamental question remains: Is it legitimate to do this? And what would make it legitimate?” (Homily for the celebration of the Eucharist in Krakow, June 10, 1979: AAS 71 (1979), 873.)

In the modern world there is a tendency to reduce man to his horizontal dimension alone. But without an open-ness to the Absolute, what does man become? The answer to this question is found in the experience of every indi-vidual, but it is also written in the history of humanity with the bloodshed in the name of ideologies or by political regimes which have sought to build a “new humanity” without God. (Cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et Magistra (May 15, 1961) IV AAS 53 (1961), 453.)

Moreover, the Second Vatican Council replies to those concerned with safeguarding freedom of conscience: “The human person has a right to religious freedom…. All should have such immunity from coercion by individuals, or by groups, or by any human power, that no one should be forced to act against his conscience in religious matters, nor prevented from acting according to his conscience, whether in private or in public, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae, 2.)

Proclaiming Christ and bearing witness to him, when done in a way that respects consciences, does not violate freedom. Faith demands a free adherence on the part of man, but at the same time faith must also be offered to him, be-cause the “multitudes have the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ-riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find, in unsuspected fullness, everything that it is gropingly searching for concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth…. This is why the Church keeps her missionary spirit alive, and even wishes to intensify it in the moment of history in which we are living.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (December 8, 1975), 53: AAS 68 (1976), 42.) But it must also be stated, again with the Council, that “in accordance with their dignity as persons, equipped with reason and free will and endowed with per-sonal responsibility, all are impelled by their own nature and are bound by a moral obligation to seek truth, above all religious truth. They are further bound to hold to the truth once it is known, and to regulate their whole lives by its demands.” (Dignitatis Humanae, 2.)

January 29, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time we are reminded of the teaching authority that Jesus has. Below are a few paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the signs and wonders of Jesus:
“The signs of the kingdom of God”
547 Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.(Acts 2:22; Lk 7:18-23)
548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. (Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38.) To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. (Cf. Mk 5:25-34;10:52; etc.) So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. (Cf.Jn 10:31-38.) But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”; (Mt 11:6.) they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons. ( Cf. Jn 11:47-48;Mk 3:22.)
549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, ( Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5.) Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, (Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36.) but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.( Cf. Jn 8:34-36.)
550 The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Mt 12:26,28.) Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”. (Jn 12:31; cf. Lk 8:26-39.) The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.” (LH, Lent, Holy Week, Evening Prayer, Hymn Vexilla Regis: Regnavit a ligno De-us.)
May God Bless you.
Fr. Joe

January 22, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Given that this Sunday, The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, has been formally instituted by Pope Francis as Word of God Sunday, below is an excerpt from Aperuit illis, an apostolic letter and motu proprio which was issued on 30 September 2019:

“A profound bond links sacred Scripture and the faith of believers. Since faith comes from hearing and what is heard is based on the word of Christ (cf. Rom 10:17), believers are bound to listen attentively to the word of the Lord, both in the celebration of the liturgy and in their personal prayer and reflection.

“The journey that the Risen Lord makes with the disciples of Emmaus ended with a meal. The mysterious wayfarer accepts their insistent request: ‘Stay with us, for it is almost evening and the day is now far spent’ (Lk24:29). They sit down at table and Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and offers it to them. At that moment, their eyes are opened, and they recognize him (cf. v. 31).

“This scene clearly demonstrates the unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, ‘the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ’ (Dei Verbum, 21).

“Regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.

“Sacred Scripture and the sacraments are thus inseparable. When the sacraments are introduced and illumined by God’s word, they become ever more clearly the goal of a process whereby Christ opens our minds and hearts to acknowledge his saving work. We should always keep in mind the teaching found in the Book of Revelation: the Lord is standing at the door and knocking. If anyone should hear his voice and open for him, he will come in and eat with them (cf. 3:20). Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us.

“May we by God’s grace dive deeper into the Scriptures and Sacraments.”

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

January 15, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last week, we entered the liturgical season of Ordinary Time – a period that, despite its name, should never be thought of as “boring.” Rather, building on the graces we received in the Christmas season, we draw closer during Ordinary Time to Jesus and His Church. As we do so with God’s grace, please consider the following passage by St. Josemaria Escriva, excerpted from his Homily “Passionately Loving the World” and found in Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá de Balaguer, (Little Hills & Scepter, Sydney, 1993):

I continue to harbour a hope, which corresponds to justice and to the living experience of many countries, that the time will come when the Spanish government will contribute its share to lighten the burden of a task which seeks no private profit, but on the contrary is totally dedicated to the service of society, and tries to work efficiently for the present and future prosperity of the nation.

And now, my sons and daughters, let me consider for a moment, another aspect of everyday life which is particularly dear to me. I refer to human love, to the noble love between a man and a woman, to courtship and marriage. I want to say once again that this holy human love is not something merely to be permitted or tolerated alongside the true activities of the spirit, as might be insinuated by false spiritualism to which I alluded previously. I have been preaching just the contrary, in speech and in writing, for forty years and now those who did not understand are beginning to grasp the point.

Love which leads to marriage and family, can also be a marvelous divine way, a vocation, a path for a complete dedication to our God. What I have told you about doing things perfectly, about putting love into the little duties of each day, about discovering that “divine something” contained in these details, finds a special place in that vital sphere in which human love is enclosed.

All of you who are professors or students or work in any capacity in the University of Navarra, know that I have entrusted your love to holy Mary, Mother of Fair Love. And here on the university campus you have the shrine which we built with devotion, as a place where you may pray to Her and offer that wonderful pure love on which She bestows Her blessing.

“Surely you know that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, Who is God’s gift to you, so that you are no longer your own masters?” (1 Cor 6:19). How many times, in front of the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Fair Love, will you reply with a joyful affirmation, to the Apostle’s question: Yes, we know that this is so and we want, with your powerful help, to live it, O Virgin Mother of God!

Contemplative prayer will rise within you whenever you meditate on this impressive reality: something as material as my body has been chosen by the Holy Spirit as His dwelling place…. I no longer belong to myself…my body and soul, my whole being, belongs to God…. And this prayer will be rich in practical consequences, drawn from the great consequence which the Apostle himself proposed: “glorify God in your bodies.” (1 Cor 6:20)

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

January 8, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thank God in Jesus Christ that He becomes man and is human among us. The Lord abides.

The following poem, “God abides in men,” was written by Caryll Houselander (1901-1954), a lay spiritual theologian from Britain:

“God abides in men,
These are men who are simple,
they are fields of corn…
Such men have minds
like wide grey skies,
they have the grandeur
that the fools call emptiness.

God abides in men.

Some men are not simple,
they live in cities
among the teeming buildings,
wrestling with forces
as strong as the sun and the rain.
Often they must forgo dream upon dream…
Christ walks in the wilderness
in such lives.
God abides in men,
because Christ has put on
the nature of man, like a garment, and worn it to his own shape.
He has put on everyone’s life…
to the workman’s clothes to the King’s red robes,
to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment…
Christ has put on Man’s nature,
and given him back his humanness…

God abides in man.”
―from The Flowering Tree, Sheed & Ward, 1979.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

January 1, 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord this Sunday, we realize this moment is a manifestation of the glory of our Lord. Below are words from Pope Benedict XVI in a homily from 2010, which I found to be helpful in prayer:

“They [Magi] had brought gold, incense and myrrh. These are certainly not gifts that correspond to basic, daily needs. At that moment, the Holy Family was far more in need of something different from incense or myrrh, and not even the gold could have been of immediate use to them. But these gifts have a profound significance: they are an act of justice. In fact, according to the mentality prevailing then in the Orient, they represent the recognition of a person as God and King, that is, an act of submission. They were meant to say that from that moment, the donors belonged to the sovereign and they recognize his authority. The consequence is immediate. The Magi could no longer follow the road they came on, they could no longer return to Herod, they could no longer be allied with that powerful and cruel sovereign. They had always been led along the path of the Child, making them ignore the great and the powerful of the world and taking them to him who awaits us among the poor, the road of love which alone can transform the world.

“Therefore, not only did the Magi set out on their journey, but their deed started something new. They traced a new road and a new light had come down on earth which has never faded. The Prophet’s vision is fulfilled: that light could no longer be ignored by the world. People would go towards that Child and would be illumined by that joy that only He can give. The light of Bethlehem continues to shine throughout the world. To those who have welcomed this light, St Augustine said: ‘Even we, recognizing Christ our King and Priest who died for us, have honored him as if we had offered him gold, incense and myrrh. But what remains is for us to bear witness to him by taking a different road from that on which we came.’ (Sermo 202. In Epiphania Domini, 3,4)”

May we, after giving glory to Jesus, set ourselves on new roads of encounter with Him.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

December 22, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the Solemnity of the Holy Family, following is an excerpt from a General Audience from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on 28 December 2011:

“Today’s meeting is taking place in the atmosphere of Christmas, imbued with deep joy at the Birth of the Savior. We have just celebrated this Mystery whose echo ripples through the Liturgy of all these days. It is a Mystery of Light that all people in every era can relive with faith and prayer. It is through prayer itself that we become capable of drawing close to God with intimacy and depth….

“Mary’s ability to live by God’s gaze is, so to speak, contagious. The first to experience this was St. Joseph. His humble and sincere love for his betrothed and his decision to join his life to Mary’s attracted and introduced him “a just man” (Mt 1:19) to a special intimacy with God. Indeed, with Mary – and later especially with Jesus – he began a new way of relating to God, accepting him in His life, entering His project of salvation and doing His will. After trustfully complying with the Angel’s instructions “Do not fear to take Mary your wife” (Mt 1:20), Joseph took Mary to him and shared his life with her; he truly gave the whole of himself to Mary and to Jesus and this led him to perfect his response to the vocation he had received.

“As we know, the Gospel has not recorded any of Joseph’s words: his is a silent and faithful, patient and hard working presence. We may imagine that he, too, like his wife and in close harmony with her, lived the years of Jesus’ childhood and adolescence savouring, as it were, his presence in their family.

Joseph fulfilled every aspect of his paternal role. He must certainly have taught Jesus to pray, together with Mary. In particular, Joseph, himself, must have taken Jesus to the Synagogue for the rites of the Sabbath, as well as to Jerusalem for the great feasts of the people of Israel. Joseph, in accordance with the Jewish tradition, would have led the prayers at home both every day in the morning, in the evening, at meals and on the principal religious feasts. In the rhythm of the days he spent at Nazareth, in the simple home and in Joseph’s workshop, Jesus learned to alternate prayer and work, as well as to offer God his labour in earning the bread the family needed….”

Dear friends, because of these different aspects that I have outlined briefly in the light of the Gospel, the Holy Family is the icon of the domestic Church, called to pray together. The family is the domestic Church and must be the first school of prayer. It is in the family that children, from the tenderest age, can learn to perceive the meaning of God and to live in an atmosphere marked by God’s presence, thanks to the teaching and example of their parents.

An authentically Christian education cannot dispense with the experience of prayer. If one does not learn how to pray in the family, it will later be difficult to bridge this gap. And so I would like to address to you the invitation to pray together as a family at the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth and thereby really to become of one heart and soul, a true family.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

December 18, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The time for the coming of Jesus is close. Our Gospel this Sunday is St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation. (cf. Luke 1:26-38) As a disciple of Jesus, take time and pray through this scene, that God would send Gabriel to a seemingly unimportant place like Nazareth to have a great and important moment occur in the birth of His Son.

At times, we may think we are unimportant or not noticed. Paradoxically, as followers of Jesus, that reality is true. Yet, it is also true that God can work in and with our littleness, our unimportance, and we need not fear such grace in our everyday living. Rather, we should take imitation of our Blessed Mother, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” (cf. Luke 1:38)

May you have blessed Christmas.

Fr. Joe

December 11, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For the Third Sunday in Advent, we grow with greater anticipation for the coming of Jesus. We rejoice with this same anticipation, which is indicated in the Entrance Antiphon for Mass: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” (Phil 4:4-5).

The type of joy that St. Paul and the Church call us to in the liturgy is unlike any other excitement in our everyday life. That is simply because our salvation is coming. God draws near to us in a way that had not been previous – He comes among us as a person.

Let us reflect with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from his Angelus message of 16 December 2007:

<< Gaudete in Domino semper – Rejoice in the Lord always. (Phil 4: 4) Holy Mass of the Third Sunday of Advent opens with these words of St. Paul and is therefore called “gaudete” Sunday. The Apostle urges Christians to rejoice because the Lord’s coming – that is, His glorious return is certain and will not be delayed.

The Church makes this invitation her own while she prepares to celebrate Christmas, and her gaze is focused ever more intently on Bethlehem. Indeed, we wait with hope, certain of Christ’s second coming because we have experienced His first.

The mystery of Bethlehem reveals to us God-with-us, the God close to us and not merely in the spatial and temporal sense; He is close to us because He has, as it were, “espoused” our humanity. He has taken our condition upon himself, choosing to be like us in all things, save sin, in order to make us become like Him.

Christian joy, thus, springs from this certainty: God is close – He is with me. He is with us in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in Him. >>

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

December 4, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are encouraged this Second Sunday in Advent to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight his paths….” (cf. Mk 1:3b) This phrase from St. Mark reminds us of the hopeful expectation of the Messiah. Isaiah exclaimed this message to Israel (cf. Isa 40:3) at a time when there was promise of freedom from the Babylonian exile, though they were not yet free.

St. Mark writes this same phrase at the beginning of his Gospel, signaling for us to anticipate the coming of Jesus. We know in Jesus that we will be liberated from the slavery of sin and delivered from the exile of present torments to new a birth in a place of peace, with the Prince of Peace. The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares in paragraphs 719 and 720:

John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” (cf. Lk 7:26) In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. (cf. Mt 11:13-14) He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming. (cf. Jn 1:23; cf. Isa 40:1-3) As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” (cf. Jn 1:7; cf. Jn 15:26; 5:35) In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. (cf. 1 Pet 1:10-12) “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God…. Behold, the Lamb of God.” (cf. Jn 1:33-36)

Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of “the divine likeness,” prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John’s baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth. (cf. Jn 3:5)

May we continue with God’s grace to anticipate the coming of Jesus.

Peace in Jesus,

Fr. Joe

November 27, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Entering into Advent, we anticipate Jesus to be born. Singing hymns and psalms – hearkening to have God among us and have Him draw near – is a great and hopeful reality.

Paradoxically, having hope in God’s coming at the end of time is our primary focus this weekend. While it is true we remind ourselves in this season of God becoming man and living among us, it also is true that God will have another coming – one that we confess at every Mass: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.” That is why in this weekend’s Gospel from St. Mark, we read of allusions to being vigilant, alert and waiting for the Master to return (cf. Mark 13:33-37).

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (cf. 5th Sermon on Advent) referred to three comings of the Lord. The first is His coming in the past and being born. The second is the one present when He comes to us in the Eucharist. The third is His coming at the end of time. Advent is a way for us to recognize all three, to hold them in tension without fear, and have confidence in God’s love and promises: past, present and future.

Peace in Jesus,

Fr. Joe

November 20, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we should take some time to consider the enormity of this claim. In most respects, we tend to understand emperors and kings to be revered and territorial and – for us, as Americans – obscure.

Consider this from Fr.George Rutler, a priest in New York City, remarking on an experience someone shared with him:

“A professor told me of two experiences he had when civilization was picking up its pieces after World War II. He was in the crowd when King George VI visited Cambridge University and was greeted with loud cheers. Then, as a U. S. soldier in occupied Japan, he watched as a vast throng became stone silent when the Emperor alighted from the imperial train, all heads bowed and eyes downcast. Hirohito no longer had divine pretensions, but the customary reverence was palpable. The one king embodied the familial aspect of a monarch as father, and the other was a reminder of a ruler transcending the ordinary commerce of life.

On the Feast of Christ the King, the Church proposes a sovereignty both human and divine: The Holy One who walked the roads of this world as a man among men was at the same time of Heaven, the Supreme Being.”

We must beg for the grace to understand that which has been made clear in our Liturgy: Jesus is Lord of all. He is sovereign, meaning He reigns with supreme rule and ultimate power.

Pontius Pilate was made aware of such reality prior to having Jesus crucified. In the dialogue between them (cf. John 18: 29-38), it would be difficult to suggest whether Pilate exactly grasped who Jesus was. However – perhaps ironically – Pilate did write an inscription and put it on the cross on which Christ was crucified: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

When we allow Jesus to be the Lord of all, what we mean is God is first before all other people, things and interests. All these things and people fall under Jesus’ guidance, care and concern for each of us. The temptation is to place Jesus as one among many. We as Christians cannot permit this alignment. Let us all beg God for the grace to be aware of His glory and power and place ourselves and all else under His sovereignty.

Peace in Jesus,

Fr. Joe

November 13, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For this 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel about a landowner calling to account for his servants’ stewardship of what he had entrusted to them. This parable displays many beautiful and haunting realities for us. Most scholars think that by the use of this parable, Jesus wants us to examine how we have shared our gift of faith with others.

In our walk with Jesus, we are given many opportunities to share our faith through prayer, conversation and other means. At times, we may shirk from sharing this gift – out of fear, conflict or awkwardness due to an inability to articulate it. This weekend, I ask you, begging with the grace that comes from the Lord, to make an account of your stewardship by sharing your faith.

Start within your home and the responsibilities and call asked of you by God. Then, examine your sharing of faith to a broader community (e.g. work, clubs and other organizations, and impromptu moments). Notice where you may lack desire to share the joy of Christ and ask the Lord to enliven you. Where you fear, beg for the courage to share. Where you lack articulation, beg for simplicity and clarity of thought to share the joy that comes from Jesus.

Do not give in to the temptation that hangs on the thought that “they already know…therefore why bother?” Here is an excerpt from Pope Saint John Paul II, found in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici:

What has been said about the spiritual vocation can also be said – and to a certain degree with greater reason – of the infinite number of ways through which all members of the Church are employed as laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, building up the Mystical Body of Christ. Indeed, as a person with a truly unique life story, each is called by name to make a special contribution to the coming of the Kingdom of God. No talent, no matter how small, is to be hidden or left unused. (cf. Mt 25:24-27)

Knowing that we are all called to holiness and communion with God, understand that everyone of us is able by God’s grace to be fully alive and called to share such life with all.

Should you be in need of a resource, here is one I recommend for sharing the faith and to be used as an apologetic tool: How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice, Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues, Revised and Updated by Austen Ivereigh and Kathryn Jean Lopez (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015). This text has a wonderful introduction that provides helpful principles for communicating faith and dispelling some of the awkwardness and frustration that can occur in conversation. The book also provides encouragement to utilize one’s talents in sharing faith as a good steward.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

November 6, 2020

Dear‌ ‌Brothers‌ ‌and‌ ‌Sisters‌ ‌in‌ ‌Christ,‌ ‌ ‌

As‌ ‌we‌ ‌continue‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌month‌ ‌of‌ ‌November,‌ ‌we‌ ‌realize‌ ‌we‌ ‌should‌ ‌be‌ ‌mindful‌ ‌of‌ ‌our‌ ‌limited‌ ‌time‌ ‌on‌ ‌Earth‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌call‌ ‌each‌ ‌of‌ ‌us‌ ‌has‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌holy,‌ ‌to‌ ‌live‌ ‌the‌ ‌life‌ ‌that‌ ‌God‌ ‌has‌ ‌called‌ ‌us‌ ‌to,‌ ‌and‌ ‌“to‌ ‌be‌ ‌perfect‌ ‌as‌ ‌our‌ ‌Heavenly‌ ‌Father‌ ‌is‌ ‌perfect.”‌ ‌(cf.‌ ‌Matthew‌ ‌5:48)‌ ‌ ‌

To‌ ‌understand‌ ‌our‌ ‌call‌ ‌may‌ ‌appear‌ ‌odd‌ ‌or‌ ‌vague.‌ ‌As‌ ‌a‌ ‌result,‌ ‌our‌ ‌desire‌ ‌to‌ ‌live‌ ‌a‌ ‌life‌ ‌filled‌ ‌with‌ ‌God’s‌ ‌love‌ ‌and‌ ‌grace‌ ‌may‌ ‌appear‌ ‌impossible.‌ ‌For‌ ‌your‌ ‌reflection‌ ‌and‌ ‌prayer,‌ ‌St.‌ ‌John‌ ‌Henry‌ ‌Newman‌ ‌provides‌ ‌us‌ ‌with‌ ‌wonderful‌ ‌insight‌ ‌to‌ ‌strive‌ ‌for‌ ‌perfection‌ ‌and‌ ‌holiness‌ ‌in‌ ‌his‌ ‌meditation,‌ ‌“‌A‌ ‌Short‌ ‌Road‌ ‌to‌ ‌Perfection‌.”‌ ‌

Peace‌ ‌in‌ ‌Christ,‌ ‌ ‌

Fr.‌ ‌Joe‌ ‌ ‌

October 30, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we enter the month of November, we should take time to pray about growing in holiness and be reminded of the fact that we suffer death. This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, commemorating men and women who lived a life of holiness on this earth and now give glory and praise to God in heaven. The following day, we commemorate All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day). In both instances, we should be drawn to the fact that God calls each of us to be holy and be with Him forever.

One way in which we can take time to pray this month is by slowly going through paragraphs 1020-1065 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “I believe in life everlasting” which teach us about Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. In these teachings, we can come to understand that the way in which we live our life matters and we will be judged by Christ. We realize, as well, the desire of God to bestow mercy on us and that we, who live, should be compelled to intercede and pray for those who are in Purgatory, that they will be joined to God’s heavenly communion. We should pray that no soul should be separated from Christ.

By visiting a cemetery on November 2 and praying for the faithful departed, one typically would have the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence. Obtaining the indulgence also normally would require one at that time to make confession, receive Eucharist and pray for the intentions of the Pope. To prevent large gatherings in churches and cemeteries, Pope Francis has extended the plenary indulgence this year through the whole month of November. (You can watch the decree here, courtesy of
RomeReports.com, or read the Apostolic Penitentiary extending the plenary indulgence here.

Praying for our deceased brothers and sisters is a beautiful practice, knowing that most of us will leave this earth not perfected, rather as sinners in need of mercy and desiring to be with the one who is Perfect.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

October 23, 2020

In this Sunday’s collect, there is a threefold petition that I would like to unpack with you: “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.”

Let us take the first part, “Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity….” In this opening, we beg God to give us three particular virtues which only He can. We commonly know them as Theological Virtues, and these virtues are the ways God’s life lives in us – they draw us back to Him. You can study these virtues, as well as the Cardinal virtues, here: courtesy of the Thomistic Institute.

In the second part, by living the Theological virtues, we become animated to understand that God perfectly knows the best way for us to live. Therefore, we trust in His commands and ask Him to “make us love what you command.” At times, we distrust people in our everyday life, and the same thing can be noticed of our relationship with God. When we lack trust, we also tend to lack love and the will to do the good asked of us. We must ask God for the resolve to trust him and realize what He asks of us daily will always be for our good and the good of others.

The third and final part of the petition reads, “…so that we may merit what you promise.” When we live the Theological virtues, trust in God and live what He asks of us, we realize we are living in communion with God now and in the life to come. By merit, we should realize as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 2008:

“The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on His own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.” (See here for more on the Catechism.)

This is why the prayer mentions the word “promise,” for God is always the one to act first on His creations to draw them to Himself. May God shower you with Faith, Hope and Charity to animate you to love His commands and be assured of His promises for you.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

October 9, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We beg God in our prayer for the Mass to have His grace “at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.”

This petition from our Collect this Sunday is beautiful and, at times, challenging – especially in times such as these. Our challenge to be faithful and good citizens is evident. To inform our citizenry with our praxis and our faith in Jesus will most likely be met with opposition, and such opposition will be overt.

Lately, much of the media in the United States surrounds evils of many stripes: racial injustice, outrage leading up to the Presidential election, unsettled grief in the loss of a Supreme Court Justice, frustration with what appears to be an immediate appointment of another justice leading up to the aforementioned election, and currently living in a pandemic. I imagine there are countless other concerns: domestic or otherwise, plaguing the minds of many of us.

In all of these moments, we must cling to our gift of Faith in Christ Jesus to inform us and enable us to live the authentic witness we are all called to live: morally, religiously, justly, and with charity informing all that we say and do. We are called to do good works. Sometimes doing good works does not happen naturally. In my experience, living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are good ways to humble my pride and allow me to love when things and people in life are most difficult, not when easy.

The Corporal Works of mercy are:

– Feed the hungry.
– Give drink to the thirsty.
– Shelter the homeless.
– Visit the sick.
– Visit the prisoners.
– Bury the dead.
– Give alms to the poor.

The Spiritual Works of mercy are:

– Admonish the sinner.
– Instruct the ignorant.
– Counsel the doubtful.
– Bear wrongs patiently.
– Forgive offenses willingly.
– Comfort the afflicted.
– Pray for the living and the dead.

May God’s grace encourage you to live these out in your walk with Christ.


Fr. Joe

October 2, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Following St. Paul’s instruction from last week to the Philippians – and us – “to be united in our hearts and thinking one thing,” we know the one thing is to have the attitude of Jesus and to imitate Him by emptying ourselves in sacrificial love for the greater glory of God. In doing so, we become certain of the grace given to us by Jesus’ crucifixion and death. To live out this grace, we are to “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make [our] requests known to God. Then, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Why would St. Paul state that we should have no anxiety at all? I submit to you that one of the tactics of the devil is to disintegrate and perplex us, thereby causing us to fear to live our lives fully in Christ. When living in fear, we tend to shy away from joy, leisure, authenticity, conflict and a host of other beautiful things that God actually places before us to engage in and encounter Him. To engage the gift of our lives fully, we must by God’s grace live in such a manner that we know of God’s mercy, and the many other graces he has given us to live in everyday.

To live in the way St. Paul is exhorting us, we must keep in mind the following verses: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, what­ever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then, the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

By living in such a manner, peace is found and we realize anxiety is expelled.

My prayer for you this week: that God reminds you of His love, that you pray and petition Him, that you have no anxiety. May you think of the wonderful things St. Paul mentioned so you may live in the Joy that comes from Jesus.

Peace in Jesus,

Fr. Joe

September 29, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today in the Church’s liturgy, we commemorate the Archangels: Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. Here are some basic truths to remember about angels. We believe that God did create these spiritual beings, whom we name as “angels.” They’re spiritual in that they are not composed of matter. We name them angels because of the Greek: άγγελος, which strictly means “messenger.” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.328-336). Thus, when we say “angel,” we mean “messenger sent by God.” Therefore, the name of any “angel” is the function of the spiritual being created by God.

In particular, we have three angels known to be “archangels.” Each has a name that is unique and each has particular functions by God’s grace.

Gabriel, whose name means “Fortitude of God,” is given the ability like the other two archangels to command the hosts of angels and, in particular, to execute the commands of the Lord to the Courage and Power of God. We notice this in Daniel chapters 8-10. We also find Gabriel to have the power of judgment. In Judaism, Gabriel is attributed with the judgment that brought about the destruction of Sodom and Sennacherib. (For more information, visit Catholic Encyclopedia and Chabad.org.

The archangel Michael, whose name means “Who is like God,” is also tasked with hosts of angels to share in God’s kindness and mercy. Tradition attributes Michael with the following duties: to fight against Satan; to rescue the souls of the faithful from the demonic, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of God’s people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament; and to call away from earth and bring men’s souls to judgment. (Please refer to Catholic Encyclopedia.)

Raphael is the last of the three archangels and his name means “God has healed.” We find Raphael in the book of Tobit: cf. Tobit 5. In this scene, Raphael meets Tobias who doesn’t realize Raphael is an angel. They become companions on a journey, during which Rapahel tells Tobias they will stay in the house of Raguel and that Tobias should marry his daughter, Sarah. Further in the story, we hear of Sarah and Tobias returning home and Raphael revealing himself and bringing about a healing of Tobias. (cf Tobit 10-12). I highly recommend reading this short book of Sacred Scripture. In doing so, we realize why people select pieces of the book for readings in weddings.

Thanks be to God for the Archangels: Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 18, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are given the opportunity to recall God’s generous love and that this is such a gift that we must give it to others. God’s generous love is exhibited in many ways: by forgiving our trespasses, in receiving absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in recitation of the Our Father, when we receive forgiveness for venial sins that tend to plague and tempt us to not love God and neighbor.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us today of God’s gift in forgiveness: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their way, and sinners their thoughts; Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.” (Isaiah 55:6-7) Seeking the Lord is priority. Do we look for Him in our everyday life? The Lord can be found in the simplest of ways and places. Perhaps, we see Him in our family, spouse, children, priest and any person.

The gift of being human comes with the recognition we are created in the image of God. (cf. Genesis 1:26) With this reminder that humanity is made in the image of God, we should strongly consider our conduct toward each other. How do I care for and love my neighbor? To love God and neighbor demands that we give assent to the common fact that God is divine and Man images the Divine.

It is true that humanity is fragile, vulnerable, and fraught with temptation and sin. But with these realities in mind, we ought not be disabled, immobilized or rendered incapable of holding to the commands of God to His precepts: Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, for example. We are still called to love our fellow man and possibly bear wrongs patiently, displaying mercy. We should couple the beauty of God’s generous love found in forgiveness, to the desire that the Lord be magnified in our lives.

St. Paul exhorts the Philippians: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or death. For to me life is Christ and death is gain…Only conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:20,27a) Let us this week pray earnestly that our lives will give way to Christ and to follow His commands, to love God and neighbor and in imitation of our Blessed Mother: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior….” (Luke 1:46)

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 15, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Coming off the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, celebrated on September 14, today we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

We are presented with a beautiful opportunity to pray and consider the words from the Gospel of St. Luke, spoken by Simeon in the temple to Mary: “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35.)

Following is a performance of Stabat Mater composed by Antonio Vivaldi and performed by German countertenor Andreas Scholl and Ensemble 415: https://youtu.be/n71JvW4E9Xw, Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time and is prescribed as a Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. (You can find additional information on the piece and composer at www.stabatmater.info/componist/vivaldi. A translation of the Sequence in English can be found at www.stabatmater.info/english-translation.)

Take time to be beside Mary in prayer as she was beside her Son, whom Jesus gave to be our mother. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

In Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 11, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I recall many years ago my classes for religious education, particularly my classes for learning about the Sacrament of Confirmation. I must confess that I did not learn much. I diverted my attention to other temptations that would typically accompany an angsty 16-year-old boy. This was of my own will, choosing not to listen to the good-willed volunteer catechist. Only many years later did I come to understand those latent lessons and graces that this wonderful sacrament was giving to me.

These lessons are brought to our attention by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians. (cf. 1 Cor. 9:15-27) What we notice is the demand to witness to others the graces we have received by living a life in Jesus for others. Effectively when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, we complete our initiation entering into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church. We do not graduate from the church. Rather, we are full-pledged, initiated witnesses of God, called to share the love and knowledge of Him and His church with others.

For more in-depth understanding, I direct you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1285-1321. Specifically, in the Catechism we find “For ‘by the Sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.’” (CCC, 1285; Lumen Gentium, 11; cf. Order of Confirmation, Introduction 2)

We are called to act and speak about the goodness of God and His church, akin to St. Paul who exhorts us: “Brothers and sisters: If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!” (1 Cor. 9:16)

This may appear daunting; however, we are called to share God’s story, not our own. Our story can only make sense in the light of God, specifically the light of Christ, who is our entry through baptism to a relationship with God. To share this Gospel is beautiful, challenging and ultimately offering an invitation to another person the answer for which all seek: the way of living well.

Here is a great means of learning how to go about sharing the Gospel, which I found immensely helpful and practical, courtesy of the podcast “Every Knee Shall Bow,” made by Ascension Press: https://everykneeshallbow.fireside.fm/5.

May the Lord continue to strengthen you through the grace of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation to be bold and true witness to the world of Christ and His church.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 8, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we commemorate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This celebration lands eight months later than the fixed day when we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Her parents’ names are Joachim and Anne.

We learn of their names and the birth of Mary in the Protoevangelium of James: www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm. This document is not in the Bible, but is considered a part of the Church’s traditional beliefs, though it is not as authoritative as the Bible. Its final written version was completed in the early second century.

The document describes Joachim, Mary’s father, as a wealthy man and member of one of the twelves tribes of Israel. Both Joachim and Anne were saddened by their childlessness. Given their situation, Joachim calls to mind Abraham and Sarah and the birth of their son Isaac. (cf. Genesis 21-22).

Anne and Joachim began to fast and pray rigorously. They thought that their inability to conceive was because God was displeased with them. However, the couple would receive a greater blessing than Abraham and Sarah. The writing goes on to tell us that Anne was given a message by an angel: “The Lord has heard your prayer and you shall conceive, shall bring forth, and you shall be spoken of in all the world.”

Following Mary’s birth, Anne is described in the Protoevangelium of James to have “made a sanctuary” in Mary’s room and would not allow common or unclean items in the room with regard to her holiness, as told by the angel. When Mary was a year old, Joachim and Anne held a feast inviting priests, scribes and Pharisees of Israel, and they blessed her saying, “O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it. Amen.” (Protoevangelium, 6).

The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary’s parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph.

The beauty of what is encountered in the Protoevangelium of James is an understanding throughout the centuries of Mary and her upbringing. Allow this tradition to take place in your prayer and meditation with the greater reality of God’s favoring Mary to receive Jesus in her womb.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 4, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At times, we could be like Peter who asks Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21b). I get the sense that we may think things would be easier in life if we do not forgive our brother, simply sloughing off the prospect of doing so, since we can rationalize that “it’s no big deal.”

On the contrary – and according to Jesus – forgiveness is a big deal. Notice, Jesus from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). And certainly, His words today drive home the point, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

The concept of numbers in the Bible for the Jewish people is important. Seven, was a number to signify perfection. Therefore, to suggest a multiplied number, such as seventy-seven, would be the equivalent of saying your ability to forgive someone should be “perfectly perfect.” Thus, we are called by Jesus to be a specialist in forgiving people. Especially since we are to imitate Jesus, Himself, forgiveness is to be demanded of us who follow Jesus.

May God grant you the grace to be such specialists in forgiveness, in imitation of His Son, and feel the working of his mercy in your everyday life as you serve Him with your whole heart.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

September 1, 2020

Our Collect for this upcoming Sunday (6 September) calls us to realize that we who received the Sacrament of Baptism are adopted children of the Father, in and through Jesus Christ and His church. This relationship is tremendously important and gives us a belonging and identity unlike anything else.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Prologue and the first three paragraphs provide groundwork for understanding this relationship.

Prologue: “FATHER, . . . this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”(John 17:3). “God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(1 Tim 2:3-4). “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”(Acts 4:12.) – than the name of JESUS.

Paragraph 1: God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children
and thus heirs of his blessed life.

Paragraph 2: So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles He had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the Gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”(Mt 28:19-20). Strengthened by this mission, the apostles “went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mk 16:20).

Paragraph 3: Those who with God’s help have welcomed Christ’s call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ’s faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer. (Acts 2:42).

I would encourage you to take time praying and meditating through these short paragraphs. Know that God draws near to you, and desires to be with you, Jesus seeks us out to draw us back to the Father with love and that we have true freedom in the Lord and in His church.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 28, 2020

Throughout our readings for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary time, we find the theme to speak the Truth of the Lord. We encounter three different outcomes. The prophet Jeremiah laments the dilemma he finds himself in, “Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach.” (Jeremiah 20: 8b). To speak the word of God will at times result in becoming a laughingstock, and bring potential for persecution. It should surprise none of us to read this lament from Jeremiah and at times relate to his predicament.

Skipping to the Gospel, we last week read about Peter becoming the First Pope: the “rock,” the firm place which Jesus would bestow his authority and establish His church. Immediately following is what is in today’s reading. Jesus makes plain to the disciples that He will go to Jerusalem to suffer, be crucified and die. Peter exclaims, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”(Matthew 16:22). Jesus corrects Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (v. 23). At times, even after receiving great graces from God, we can totally fail, similar to that of Peter. We failed to keep in mind Jesus, His mission, and to heed the words of Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5).

St. Paul in the Second reading, writing to the Romans encourages all “by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Romans 12:1b-2). This is a great reminder when we should be in the situations similar to Jeremiah and Peter. The question to have in our mind before any action should be, “Is this what you are asking me to do Jesus?” To conform our mind and thinking to Jesus’ mind and thinking demands ongoing conversion of everyone be they prophet, priest or pope. We find such graces in continual prayer, the Sacraments, reading Scripture as a Lectio Divina, spiritual direction, receiving constructive correction from a fellow Christian in charity, and many others.

May God give you the grace of ongoing conversion to avoid complacency and idleness which often tempts us not to live joyfully in the Lord.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 28, 2020

Throughout our readings for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary time, we find the theme to speak the Truth of the Lord. We encounter three different outcomes. The prophet Jeremiah laments the dilemma he finds himself in, “Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach.” (Jeremiah 20: 8b). To speak the word of God will at times result in becoming a laughingstock, and bring potential for persecution. It should surprise none of us to read this lament from Jeremiah and at times relate to his predicament.

Skipping to the Gospel, we last week read about Peter becoming the First Pope: the “rock,” the firm place which Jesus would bestow his authority and establish His church. Immediately following is what is in today’s reading. Jesus makes plain to the disciples that He will go to Jerusalem to suffer, be crucified and die. Peter exclaims, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”(Matthew 16:22). Jesus corrects Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (v. 23). At times, even after receiving great graces from God, we can totally fail, similar to that of Peter. We failed to keep in mind Jesus, His mission, and to heed the words of Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.” (John 2:5).

St. Paul in the Second reading, writing to the Romans encourages all “by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” (Romans 12:1b-2). This is a great reminder when we should be in the situations similar to Jeremiah and Peter. The question to have in our mind before any action should be, “Is this what you are asking me to do Jesus?” To conform our mind and thinking to Jesus’ mind and thinking demands ongoing conversion of everyone be they prophet, priest or pope. We find such graces in continual prayer, the Sacraments, reading Scripture as a Lectio Divina, spiritual direction, receiving constructive correction from a fellow Christian in charity, and many others.

May God give you the grace of ongoing conversion to avoid complacency and idleness which often tempts us not to live joyfully in the Lord.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 25, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In this week’s readings, we encounter a theme of anticipating the second coming of Jesus and how to authentically interpret what people are saying. In Thessalonica, there were many people who had unsettled minds and were confused by all the talking about Jesus’ second coming. Specifically, St. Paul mentions people being “alarmed either by a ‘spirit’ or by an oral statement.” He is making a direct reference to people who think they possess a prophetic spirit and authority to spread their ideas, though they may not be of God.

We are reminded by St. Paul to trust above all in Jesus and His words, to keep His promises at the center and not to be confused by any strange interpretations and sayings from others. We learned last weekend that Jesus established and gave his authority to the Church with Peter as its head and the apostles in union with him, which would eventually be known as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We are reminded by the teaching of the Catholic church to not be giving way to subjective opinions. Rather, we are to interpret the sayings and teachings of Jesus in the light of the Tradition of the Church, which has made definitions and clarifications throughout the course of history.

The Second Vatican Council, in the dogmatic constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei verbum), we find: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” (DV, n. 10). What is meant in that statement is ultimately subjective interpretation does not carry any moral authority and can be discarded, especially in the cases which will distract us from joyfully living life and anticipating the Lord whenever he should come to meet us.

Following is a short video clip to watch on understanding Divine Revelation.

What Is Revelation? (Faith Seeks Understanding)

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 21, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sunday’s Mass is a beautiful reminder for us that God uses Peter as an instrument to begin building his Church. This only happens immediately after Peter answers Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?”

This moment is the beginning of the hierarchical church. We learn more of this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Number 880: When Christ instituted the Twelve, “He constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.

Just as “by the Lord’s institution,” St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.

“Number 881: The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock.” The office of binding and losing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head.” This pastoral office of Peter and the other apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

Let us take time to pray for Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, and all bishops who are in line with the Apostles: that they may be following the command of Christ to guide all and be good instruments of God’s grace in the Church for the world.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 18, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For this Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, we hear of Peter claiming Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Another synonym for Christ is the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Peter is stating Jesus is the long-awaited king to unite Israel and bring all creation into relationship with God the Father and the declaration that Peter is “rock” of the Church.

The entirety of the Liturgy for this day illumines for us the beauty, truth, and goodness that comes from Peter’s declaration and Jesus establishing Peter as the head of the Church, which still impacts us today.

What Jesus does in this scene is something to take to prayer and, I encourage you to read through the full passage: (Matthew 16:13-20). Jesus situates the conversation first with himself and his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (v.13). Seeking a general opinion, the disciples respond stating that Jesus is, perhaps John the Baptist or one of the prophets: Elijah or Jeremiah (v.14).

Then Jesus turns from the general response to ask for a personal response, “Who do you say that I am?” We find Peter’s answer “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (v.16), moves us from public opinion to a personal response, which Jesus makes plain is a gift of revelation from the Father (v.17).

This was a decisive moment of faith. Among many opinions, which could be confusing Peter confesses Jesus to be Lord. From that moment on, countless people have made this declaration, which questions about faith and living a Christian life (moral life) came about.

We find in our Collect language that reflects Peter’s Confession and Jesus establishing the Church: O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.

May we, by God’s grace, “unite in a single purpose,” that Jesus is the Messiah, love what He commands, which is his Church founded on Peter, and desire His promises (i.e. Communion with God in this life and as we confess “life of the world to come”) with our hearts hoping to encounter “true gladness.”

May God bless Pope Francis, successor of St. Peter, and Archbishop Aquila and all bishops, successors of the Apostles.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 14, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Continuing with the theme of Faith from last week, this week proves to show a necessity for Faith when the supernatural – in this case the demonic – shows its existence in the Gospel. We must accept the reality of demons, since at root they are angels (which we readily accept angels that do good), who chose to no longer serve God but serve Satan.

These demons function to sow confusion and many a malady that can be difficult for us to grasp. But basically, they will cause disruption with God, disorder and disunity. Whereas, God serves to show us in Jesus no interruption or communion with Himself, order and Integrity with God and His creation. The more we seek deep Faith in God, the more possible we will encounter the evil which seeks to militate against God. Therefore, even in circumstances where the supernatural evil should exist, we – like the Canaanite woman – go to Jesus and persist, relying on His grace to exorcise and command the evil to leave.

On a practical level this is very subtle most of the time – via the Sacrament of Confession which is the greatest example outside of Baptism to expel evil or using Holy Water, making the sign of the cross, to name a few – and only in rare instances explicit such as found in the movie “The Exorcist,” which covers the story of a young girl possessed by a demon that calls for a Solemn Rite of Exorcism. How the film portrays the ritual is certainly fantastic and with many terrifying scenes. Despite the terror, every exorcism is to bring the person afflicted by evil to peace by God’s grace in Jesus and His working through the priest and those praying.

With all that said, the desire of the Canaanite woman for her daughter to be relieved from the demon displayed great faith to Jesus, and Jesus willed to bring peace to the daughter as well as the mother and not allowing her to feel defeated. My prayer this week for you is: when faced with great tribulation and evil, may the Lord increase your Faith, and as we pray the Our Father may you be delivered from evil and rest in God’s peace.

Remaining by God’s grace,

Fr. Joe

August 11, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we keep in memory and intercession St. Clare, who founded the Poor Clares in Assisi early in the 13th Century. She was the abbess for the community for 42 years. Anytime we encounter someone who lived such an austere life and persevered in doing so, we come to encounter the call to holiness and that there is also call for us to live a holy life in which we can detach from those things that will prevent holiness. To be detached, be it from things, people, emotions or events, simply means that in all the activity we may be called to do that God be placed above all those things that he may direct them accordingly with our cooperation.

We read the following in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2544:

Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone and bids them “renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospels. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem, who out of her poverty gave all that she had to live on (cf. Luke 21:4). The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

And paragraph 2545:

All Christ’s faithful are to “direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.” (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 42§3)

Ultimately, having a healthy spirit of detachment, we take on a poverty rooted in humility that is pure and desires to trust in God’s providence rather than consume ourselves with the thoughts of self-sufficiency and what happens should we fail, which leads to anxiety and further woes. The Catechism concludes this section with “Abandonment to the Providence of the Father in heaven free us from anxiety about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.” (CCC, 2547)

May God give you all a reminder of His love and providence. May you abandon your life to him in such a way that he be first above all else, so that you may see him and not be anxious.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 7, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The liturgy for this Sunday – and in particular the Gospel and the First Reading – reminds us of the gift of Faith we have in God and to trust in Him alone. Our First Reading, as well as the Gospel, calls us to remember that no matter the forces of nature or other forces around us, which at times will provoke terror, fear, and confusion, that God will come in the simple, the calm and at times underwhelming ways to rest our weary selves.

We must take consolation and beg for greater Faith when we are tempted to rely fully on anyone or anything that is not primarily God.

I recommend the simple practice of making an act of Faith. Here is the act to use:

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them who are eternal truth and wisdom, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. In this faith I intend to live and die. Amen.

May God give you all a greater and more profound Faith and please pray that I increase in Faith too.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

August 4, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week, the Church commemorates The Curé of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney. A humble priest, he was born of peasant stock on 8 May 1786 in Dardilly, France. Vianney struggled through his studies in the seminary and was eventually ordained a priest. His most famous assignment was the Pastor in Ars, France in 1818 at the age of 31.

Upon going to Ars, his Vicar General said of the town, “There is not much love of God in that parish – you will bring some into it.” A biographer said this about Vianney’s arrival in Ars:

When he got within sight of it, having gotten lost along the way, he turned to his guide, one of the local boys, and said, “You have shown me the road to Ars; I will show you the road to heaven.” From all we know he said it in a matter-of-fact way. Heaven is not a gargantuan dream; it was as palpable to him as his books and his bed. (Fr George Rutler, St John Vianney: The Curé D’Ars Today, Ignatius press, 1988.)

I really appreciate the simplicity of this priest and I hope you do, too. Mainly because through the grace of God, St. John Vianney exuded joy and truth in sharing the love of Jesus to those in his parish. Oftentimes, he would regularly be found teaching catechism, as well as spending many hours in the confessional reconciling souls back to God.

In a General Audience, on 5 August 2009, Pope Benedict XVI said of St. John Vianney:

Therefore, the centre of his entire life was the Eucharist, which he celebrated and adored with devotion and respect. Another fundamental characteristic of this extraordinary priestly figure was his diligent ministry of confession. He recognized in the practice of the sacrament of penance the logical and natural fulfilment of the priestly apostolate, in obedience to Christ’s mandate: “if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (cf. Jn 20: 23).

We should all go to God in thanksgiving for such a holy priest and implore St. John’s intercession. I ask you to continue to pray for me, that with God’s grace a similar zeal and joy be present in my service to you all. That likewise with St. John Vianney, “I will show you the road to heaven.”

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

July 31, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus,

During Mass after the Gloria or the Penitential rite, the presiding priest exclaims, ”Let us pray” then makes a gathering in gesture. Do you ever wonder what that means? We call this prayer and gesture the Collect, which in Latin means ”to gather in.” So what the priest is doing is gathering in the prayers of those present to bring them to God the Father.

The priest then states a prayer from the Roman Missal made through Jesus Christ in communion with the Holy Spirit on behalf of the people.

Sunday’s Collect is no exception. The words in the prayer are beautiful and beg God to “draw near…and answer…prayers with unceasing kindness.” And what follows in the prayer is the realization that God is the Creator and we are His creation. What also is made clear is Creation due to sin can disintegrate and God the Father can restore His creation and also it, too.

Taking this prayer and the Second Reading from St. Paul, we understand that with God we need not worry for nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

My prayer for you this week is that God reminds you of His love for you, and that you have nothing to be afraid of knowing God’s providential care.

Peace in Jesus,

Fr. Joe

July 28, 2020

The Altar, a sign of Christ, taken from Rite of Dedication of an Altar 4:

Everywhere, in varying circumstances, the Church’s sons and daughters can celebrate the memorial of Christ and take their place at the Lord’s table. Nevertheless, it is in keeping with the eucharistic mystery that the Christian faithful should erect a stable altar for celebrating the Lord’s Supper, something that has been done from the earliest times.

The Christian altar is by its very nature a unique table of sacrifice and of the paschal banquet:

  • a unique altar on which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated in mystery throughout the ages until Christ comes;
  • a table at which the Church’s sons and daughters are gathered to give thanks to God and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

In every church, then, the altar is “the center of the thanksgiving that is accomplished through the Eucharist” around which the Church’s other rites are in a certain manner ordered.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have been reflecting and praying through the above passage before and after our new altar was dedicated. As the liturgy was going on and I was observing Archbishop dedicating the altar, I was overwhelmed with great emotion, mainly of awe and wonder at what was taking place. The amount of Chrism was great, and to see and smell such holy oil on the altar was a delight to my senses.

To have such a consecration occur made me contemplate on the sacrifice that Jesus did for us and the world and how in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we are taken to a place of life through Christ on the Altar. This reflection left me with overwhelming gratitude. I hope that same spirit of gratitude remained with you all as well who were present or watched the liturgy that morning.

As the ritual indicates, by its very nature the altar is a table of sacrifice and also of the paschal banquet. The altar represents a sacrifice in that it is a symbol for Jesus who is the one-saving sacrifice given to Father by the priest. Also, the altar is the paschal banquet, where we, the children of God the Father, receive the divine life of the Risen Christ.

I encourage you to take time in prayer on the beauty and symbolism of the Altar, may you realize it’s purpose and stability as a help for our worship to God.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

July 26, 2020

“God is in His holy place, God unites those who dwell in His house, He Himself gives might and strength to His people.” Psalm 68 (67): 6-7, 36.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The above Scripture is used for the Entrance antiphon for this Sunday’s Mass. The word “antiphon” etymologically is Greek, meaning in return (anti) sound (photos).
Thus, every time we begin a liturgy, which is an act of the total participation of Christ in His mystical body the Church, we move from the silence or the cacophony of our everyday life to sound praises to God.

This particular antiphon is full with things for reflection in prayer.

In this one line, we are reminded that “God is in His holy place,” He unites those who are with Him and He provides strength for them as well.

The holy place is wherever God is and consequently where holiness resides. Certainly, He dwells in the tabernacle of our church. When receiving Him in the Sacraments, He dwells in us. Since at times we cannot be in the Church, we should setup a prayer corner or a room for prayer, study and meditation. I highly recommend doing so.

Next, He joins us and unites us simply: those who are with Him and to one another. In my experience, we who strive to dwell with God are closely united to one another without, at times, the necessity of establishing a relationship, because Jesus is the one who has laid the groundwork, therefore we move ahead to communing with others easily. I noticed in my experiences of attending World Youth Days (Poland and Spain) or missioning to people in Eastern Russia we could commune and share life simply because Christ was our Foundation.

Lastly, by dwelling in God’s holy place and sharing His foundation with others, we will be strengthened for the mission He has asked us to co-labor with Him. This piece is one of most importance, mainly because in St. John’s Gospel we realize that Jesus is the vine and we are His branches and without Him we can do nothing (Cf. John 15:5). He must give us the strength to grow every day in His love, peace, power and joy and share life of God with others.

Try this week to realize and pray (1) where God’s holy place is, (2) the unity God provides to his followers, and (3) the particular grace in His strength He gives you.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

July 21, 2020

Then He said to his disciples: “The Harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9: 38)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For our third and final piece in Matthew 9:38, let us consider:

So, ask the Master to send out laborers for his harvest.

At times, we forget this all is His: the whole of creation, our lives exist in His mercy and grace. All of creation is being cared for by His tenderness, mercy, peace, correction and providence. We, his followers, specifically as his disciples, sit at his feet, and learn from him. When we are sent by him to labor and work the harvest, we act as his apostles, but only when he sends us. We must be docile enough that when he calls, we act on what he calls us to. In the same moment we are to pray because we are encouraged by Jesus to call on the Master to send laborers to work his harvest.

To take this reflection to a more practical pitch, I want you to consider the following questions this week:

How am I sharpening my tools for the harvest: i.e. Bible Study, time in prayer, reading the lives of Saints, reading the Catechism, and other methods?

Am I strong enough to enter the field and work? Am I receiving the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession when possible and necessary and finding time for silent prayer or sitting before the Lord in Adoration?

Know of my love for each of you and my prayer this week for you: That God provide you with the grace to intellectually and spiritually delve into breadth, length, height and depth of His Church and Sacraments.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

July 15, 2020

Then He said to his disciples: “The Harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9: 38)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Continuing on from last week’s initial reflection from Matthew 9:38, let’s reflect on:But the laborers are few….

At a certain point, we who were harvested, will be called to be the harvesters and laborers. Jesus is calling us onto the land of his creation, specifically to our fellow brothers and sisters who are raised in the fields of God’s love and grace from the seedling of their baptism and nurturing over time to be intimately connected to following Him. Further, there are also others who have never received the seedling of grace via Baptism. But their desire is so intense, we labor and harvest them that they may be immersed in the waters of Baptism, dying and rising with Christ. Reflect on the following questions this week with the Lord in prayer:

Do I realize I am meant to be a laborer in the harvest? How do I go about sharing and encouraging others to Jesus Christ and His Church?

Know of my love for each of you and my prayer this week for you: that Jesus reminds you of the work He has called you to with His love and mercy.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Joe

July 7, 2020

Then He said to his disciples: “The Harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9: 38)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write this note to you keeping in my heart and mind the above words from Jesus. Not often do I take time with one line of scripture and simply rest and chew on it for a while. Yet, I propose we think about and pray into the length, breadth, height and depth of such a line from our Redeemer for the next three Tuesdays. Particularly because, as stewards, we are also called by His grace to be laborers with the Lord.
The Harvest is abundant…
This may seem a bit odd, but for those of us who have spent any time on a farm – specifically around the time for harvesting crops, especially big crops that yield much – the sight is overwhelming. I think of those in the wheat and corn fields or perhaps grapes on the vine or olives in the trees, and harvesting getting ready to begin. But particularly the grain harvests, they were common in Jesus’ time and fitting analogies for people to understand the beauty and power of what can become of many planted seeds that are cared for.
To take that analogy to our life in Christ, many of us were given the gift of faith in seed form in our baptism as young children, babies most likely. And over time, we were nurtured not solely with food, but values, virtues and good help of God’s grace in the Sacraments we received, notably the Eucharist and Confession. We also likely received the sacrament of Confirmation strengthening us in the Holy Spirit for the great and holy things the Lord will call us to, be it Marriage, Holy Orders or Consecrated Life.
Take 5-10 minutes this week and reflect on these questions with Jesus:
  • When was I given the seedling of Faith in Baptism? Am I grateful for such a small gift?
  • When was the moment you were harvested by a laborer of the Lord – perhaps receiving Sacrament of Confirmation or a conversion experience – where you encountered the Lord and followed Him earnestly?
Know of my love for each of you and my prayer this week for you: that Jesus reminds you of His love and the great dignity of the holy life you are called to live in love of God and Neighbor.
Peace in Christ,
Fr. Joe McLagan