From the Pastor

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, 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

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:, 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 A translation of the Sequence in English can be found at

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:

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: 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