From the Pastor

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