August 27th, 2023 – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
This Monday, August 28, is the first day of school for our parish school, Catholic East Elementary.
It’s hard to believe that the summer is over for many. As the new school year begins, we pause to remember the graces received in these past summer months of leisure and of good weather.
The Jesuits have a practice called, La Pausa, or the “Examen.” The examen is “an exercise in the practice of attentiveness to one’s lived experience and also in the art of discernment – becoming aware of the ways in which God is active in one’s life and resolving to cooperate better with his gifts and calling.”
God was certainly active in our lives these past summer months. Because of our busy daily lives and God’s presence in them, St Ignatius advices that we do the Examen at the end of every day, following these steps (as taken from jesuitinstitute.org):
Spend a few moments in gratitude for the gifts and blessings of the day.
Ask for light
Ask God to enlighten you, showing where he has been at work and present in your day through events, people and places.
Examine the day
Review the moments of the day, noticing what has led to consolation and what has led to desolation and reactions to these events, people and places.
Ask God’s forgiveness for the times when you have acted, spoken or thought contrary to his grace and calling for you.
Resolve to change
Decide what in your behavior or attitude you will try to improve tomorrow.
This past summer, I started gardening and learned the importance and the joy of eating the fruit of your work and hands. What were the many other ways in which God was active and present in our lives this summer? And what about today?
Sincerely, with love,
August 20th, 2023 – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable we come to understand that here, in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished.”
I love attending the symphony with someone who really knows music. In the blink of an eye they can determine, usually kindly, but expertly, a missing note or wrong pitch. I think that the unfinished symphony of life, as the great theologian, Fr. Rahner, points out, always provides a little imprecision and frustrating limits.
We can live with regret and frustration because of the unrealistic expectations of perfection we set for ourselves and others. Or, we can learn and grow, as Jesus did in this Sunday’s Gospel in his encounter with a foreign woman whose love for her daughter was the best teaching tool there could be.
All situations in life, good, bad, and in-between, provide opportunities to grow for the believer in Christ. As my dear friend and mentor, Sr. Ellen Barrett, always used to say, “change is inevitable; growth is optional.”
Have a blessed week. Have high standards; patience with yourself and others when they are not met; hearts and minds open to wisdom; and gratitude that life in its lessons can always bring new growth and a symphony worth listening to!
Sincerely, with love,
August 13th, 2023 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me to the parishes! It has been a truly amazing start to my priesthood. I have to say thank you to all the parishioners, as well as to Fr. Tim and Fr. Carlos, for all the blessings I have received thus far.
There are a couple of traditions regarding newly ordained priests that you may or may not know.
The first tradition is the first blessing of a newly ordained priest. Any time in the first year of a new priest’s priesthood, you can ask for his first priestly blessing. There are additional graces that come from new priest blessings. If you would like to receive a blessing from a new priest (like me), all you have to do is ask, “Can I have your first blessing?” We are all willing and excited to share our blessing!
Secondly, I had a holy card designed for my ordination. If you would like a Holy Card, you can find them at all the churches. Please feel free to take one.
I hope you have a great week, and don’t forget to come to Mass this week for the Holy Day of Obligation (August 15, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
August 6, 2023 – The Transfiguration of the Lord
The Gospel this weekend begins by saying, “when Jesus learned of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself” (Matthew 14:13).
Jesus must have been saddened to the core after hearing of the death of his cousin and friend to look for a deserted place to be by himself.
We find another similar episode in the Gospel of John. The Lord’s friend, Lazarus, had died. When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Bethany where Lazarus lived, the Lord asked to be taken to his friend’s burial place, and then, as the Gospel says, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
The heart of Jesus is as sacred as it is tender and sensitive. It is this “thin skin” of his heart that allows him to feel compassion and mercy and to plunge himself into the depths of the human heart to heal and redeem it.
The Gospel for this weekend also says that as Jesus was heading to that deserted place to mourn the death of his friend, he encountered a vast crowd who had followed him across the lake. In seeing the crowd, “[the Lord’s] heart was moved with pity for [the crowd], and he cured the sick” (Matthew 14:14).
As we prepare for a new school year, especially at our Family of Five and our great Catholic East School, I invite everyone, myself included, to never lose sight of the fact that carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ also demands a heart no different than his, with a thin skin and full of compassion.