Thursday, September 19, 2019

We can not serve two masters...


Jesus reminds us over and over again what our priorities must be.  First and foremost we are called to serve one Master, and that is God.   There are so many distractions that take us away from our true purpose.  Once in a while we need to put down our iPad, our iPhone, and the remote.  We don’t need to get rid of them, but we must realize that all of the things the “world” values are distractions from our true purpose, and that is to serve God.  We serve God by loving Him and our neighbor, and by helping those in need.  

Jesus tells us in this week’s Gospel that you can’t serve two masters.  We “will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.   You cannot serve both God and Mammon”.

So what exactly is Mammon?  I think of money when I hear the word Mammon, and it is money, but it can be many other things too!   Originally the Hebrew term meant money or something of great value (treasure).  Over time the term evolved and became known as something that was held either with a banker or someone you completely trusted, knowing that when you needed it, it would be available for you.  Mammon was now becoming an object of trust.  Next, the word began to be written with a capital letter signifying its importance, and people began to put all their hope and trust in this “Mammon”, and it became their god.

We live in a society that LOVES Mammon.  We are so fortunate in this country to live, for the most part, extremely comfortable lives, and I don’t believe that Jesus is saying wealth is a bad thing.   But he is saying we should be wise in how we acquire it, spend it, and how we should use it to build up the Kingdom of God, and not ourselves.  It’s when the purpose of “Mammon” becomes self-gratifying, that we can become enslaved to it, and our motivation and disposition can quickly turn from God to self.

The Lord knows our limitations, and our potential.  There is no “God quota” for prayer or good works.  He does not have unrealistic expectations.  He knows what we can and cannot do depending on our state in life.   But He does expect us to do something! 

So, what is your “Mammon”?  Where do you place your hope and trust?  What obstructions are keeping you from serving God?  What is getting in the way of your special purpose that God has planned for you?      

Reflection by Cheryl Provost



Friday, September 13, 2019

The Forgiving Father


Upon reflection of the readings this Sunday, the idea of mercy keeps presenting itself.  We see the mercy of God when Moses pleads with the Lord to be merciful and not have His “wrath blaze up” against the Israelites who have been behaving badly.  Mercifully the Lord listens to Moses and spares them his wrath.  Of course we are all familiar with this week’s gospel story about the prodigal son who takes his father’s money and squanders it on prostitutes and high living.  He then returns to his father’s house remorseful and broken and is greeted warmly and doted on as having returned!  Not only was the father in this parable merciful but also overjoyed upon his son’s return regardless of what he had done.  Saint Paul also mentions God’s mercy towards him for having appointed him to his ministry despite his past of being a persecutor.  God had mercy towards Paul’s “ignorance”.  Mercy, mercy, mercy!  What a powerful and wonderful gift from God.

As I was on vacation this summer I was perusing my social media.  I happened upon a blog post from Bishop Barron.  I was so struck by his message post that I had to re-read it a couple of times.  I even went so far as to get up from my comfortable recline and seek out other members of my family to show them this little treasure I found about the far reaching mercy of God and his everlasting love for us.  Because the post was so beautifully stated, I dare not paraphrase it, lest it loses something so bear with me as I restate most of it here.  Bishop Barron says “God sent, not simply, a representative, a plenipotentiary, but his own Self, his own heart. And this divine Son, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, entered into the darkness and the tempest of human disorder.  He went to the poor, the hungry, the self-righteous, those drunk on power and those with no power-to everyone languishing in the iciness of the far country-and he called them home.”  He further goes on to say, “Now what is death but the furthest outpost of the far country and the coldest place in the Artic landscape of sin? And therefore the assault on death was the ultimate mission of the Son of God.  There could be no place untouched by the divine mercy, no refuge from the press of God’s relentless love.  And so God died that we might never be alone and hopeless even in this most desolate of places.”  How awesome that sentiment is to imagine.  Thank you Bishop for putting into beautiful words God’s mercy and love for us.  The bishop further goes on to point out that through Christ’s suffering on the cross, “God becomes our friend, our brother, our fellow-sufferer, even in that most terrible moment.”  Such a comfort to hear that God is our friend even in our darkest times, when we are despairing, sick, in pain, hurting or grieving, God knows our condition personally in that moment. Bishop Barron finishes his post by saying “Because God has established his power even at the furthest outpost of the far country, there is literally nowhere to hide from Him.  Because the Son has gone to the limits of godforsakeness, we run from the Father only to find ourselves, at the end of our running, in the arms of the Son.  As a parent would go anywhere – into prison, to a foreign land, into the gravest danger – in order to rescue his child, so God the parent of the human race, went into the darkest reaches of body and soul in order to save us.  And therefore this is the meaning of the cross; God is heart-broken love.”  

After reflecting on the readings this week and Bishop Barron’s eloquent post, I’m thinking, two things.  The first is that we are the Israelites, we are the prodigal son, we are St. Paul, we are the lost coin, and the lost sheep.  We are sinners, we are lost, we are “ignorant” and yet there is nowhere to run from God’s mercy and love.  As any good parent would go to the ends of the earth for their child to bring them home, to keep them safe, and to shower them with love, so God is ever ready to do this for us and is doing this for us. God yearns for us to be close to Him.  The other thought is that like a child who has made mistakes, sinned or has done wrong but is seeking forgiveness, guidance, shelter or mercy, God again is always there. As the prodigal son’s father was there for him so God is there for us.  When we are ready to seek God out, receive His love and mercy and let Him in, His joy in that moment is immeasurable.   

Reflection by: Mary Juliano Hayes



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

True Humility

When reading this weekend's readings I was drawn at first to the Gospel; I thought that I may have been drawn to it because I spent last weekend at a family wedding and had a great time.  In my head I'm thinking, "ok I got this, I can totally play off of this week's readings and my wedding from the other day" but before I sat down to write, I reread all of the readings again and realized I wasn't drawn to the Gospel because of the wedding, I was drawn to the Gospel (and the 2nd time around) the first reading, because of the message of humility.  
"My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God." From the Book of Sirach

And 
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." From the Gospel according to Luke

Humility is one of the most misunderstood virtues and one that is often fun to reflect on what authentic humility actually is.  When I am being humble, am I just pretending to be humble or do I actually feel that humility in my heart, is that how I truly feel?  
Each day, I try to read something spiritual and not just the front page of espn.com.  Sometimes I succeed in reading daily and sometimes it's more of a challenge and I only do it once or twice a week.  When I do make time to read, one of things in my rotation of spiritual readings is a website called "Daily Reflections on Divine Mercy: 365 Days with Saint Faustina."  Ever since I visited St. Faustina's convent in Krakow, Poland, I have had a deep love for the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina.  One of the images on the wall in my office came from that convent; it's an image of Jesus' Divine Mercy shining down on Pope Saint John Paul II and the words "Jezu Ufam Tobie" written underneath, which is "Jesus, I trust in you" in Polish.
When reflecting on the readings today I remembered an article from that site that I had read recently on humility that I really enjoyed and thought I would share with all of you this week:
"The glorious virtue of humility must be understood, continually pondered and continually embraced.  What is humility?  It is nothing other than knowing the truth about yourself, believing that truth and living in accord with that truth.  Only you and God know the depths of your conscience.  Human opinion matters little.  Some may offer false judgments of you presuming your pride or another sin.  And at other times some may speak words of flattery, exaggerating your virtue from impure motives.  Neither false criticism nor words of flattery foster humility because they both have as their intention something other than the truth.  Some holy souls may even seek to misrepresent the truth of who they are by either exaggerating their holiness or by misrepresenting their misery so as to gain the praise or sympathy of others.  But, again, humility has as its goal the truth of who we are.  Seek to know and believe the full truth of your life, and then seek to live that truth openly and honestly.  This purity of intention will allow your true self to emerge, and through this humble act the Lord will shine forth from your soul (See Diary #1502-1503).
Ponder today the truth of who you are.  Seek complete honesty in regard to your actions and your intentions.  Understand yourself and seek to know yourself as God knows you.  Doing this will foster great humility.  As you grow in humility, see also the truth of God and His greatness.  Humbly acknowledge all that God does for you.  Seeing God at work within you and honestly expressing this with gratitude will allow Him to shine forth beautifully for all to see.  This is truth and this is humility.
Lord, I desire to know the truth of who I am.  I seek this truth and desire to allow it to shine forth with honesty and integrity.  I pray also that I see Your greatness and acknowledge Your workings in my life.  You are glorious, dear Lord.  May this truth shine forth.  Jesus, I trust in You." From https://divinemercy.life/2018/10/02/reflection-311-the-truth-of-humility-2/

Reflection by: Matthew Bensman

Thursday, August 15, 2019

#HolyMoments


As I reflect on Luke’s gospel this weekend, two lines spoke to me.


“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you but rather division.”


Division! That sure does ring true for our times now especially if you listen to mainstream media. Families will be divided. Everywhere I turn now, that is what is happening. And many of us happily participate in the dividing by our comments on social media, through our bumper stickers, ignoring our neighbors and/or family in need as put our heads down and look the other way.


We are dividing ourselves by picking sides in every war, battle and/or skirmish—political, religious and social. We see our families and communities being divided by drugs and depression at alarming rates. We also see more and more people moving away from religious beliefs and practices which breaks down the community that develops when we pray together rather than singularly or not at all.


Recently I was speaking with a young man at a business conference. He told me that he was not raised with any faith and doesn’t have any today. He didn’t not believe but didn’t feel the need to go to the effort to get involved in an organized religion. He felt like living by the “Golden Rule” was enough. That is a great rule and practiced in a faith community has the ability to have a much deeper and greater reach.


“I’ve come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”


In many ways I do feel the earth is blazing. There are “hotspots” of emotion everywhere, including in our own church, and if we continue like this we may burn up and burnout. The answer? In my opinion it is to create holy moments. Stop amplifying the differences among each of us and seek the common good.


Maybe God does divide us in order to wake each of us up so that we set the world on fire for the love of Jesus. Rather than hiding in our differences, we will seek to love one another for our humanness and to understand the other before judging and/or dividing them.


My husband and I had a holy moment last weekend when we were at AutoZone putting large amounts of oil into our Jeep. A stranger came over and offered to help. We didn’t necessarily need it but he knew a thing or two about cars so we accepted his help.  He went out of his way to offer some insight and kindness. After talking a bit, I offered him a hug for his kindness. For in these times where we are all so busy, often being divided, he took the time to just help. Where have you experienced a holy moment lately? Or better yet, where can you create one, or two or ten this week? Together, we can set the world on fire. #HolyMoment.

Reflection by Paula Harris



Friday, August 2, 2019

Finding Joy


        These are the years of memories. When you reach a certain (unspecified) age memories tend to flood in at unexpected moments. A scene in a movie, the scent of a meal or flower, the mention of someone’s name or even an inspiration spawned by a scripture reading... like this weekend’s readings. Imagine!

        “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” Thoughts come rushing back of younger days, working at a great, since defunct, company. Being part of Polaroid’s Vision Research Laboratory in the 80’s was at once challenging, rewarding and exciting. From one day to the next our lab never knew what we would be asked to find, prove or just try to see if the principle was sound. If we were successful Dr. Edwin Land would exclaim it “fun”, his favorite term for experiments gone well.

    One Spring afternoon, while attending a brain-storming meeting of minds discussing a perplexing obstacle to our experiment, I proposed a resolution, which was swiftly ignored much to my chagrin. By the end of that week we sat in a subsequent session to resolve the obstinate problem when a colleague offered the identical solution I had voiced a couple days prior. To my surprise this was received with great fanfare and hailed as a major break-through. It was not proper scientific etiquette to claim this was my original proposal.

         I departed work that day with some mixed emotions regarding what to do. My initial reaction was to speak up and claim at least a portion of the credit, which I believed I was due, for this solution. On thinking further, I decided silence might be the best avenue… the higher road. After all our project needed to be assembled, tested (played with) and presented in a couple days to Dr. Land. There was much to do and, as there were only a couple people in our lab with the ability to accomplish such a complex mission, forging ahead was the path I chose.

            That night, while seeing my youngest daughter to bed, I received a lesson in simplicity and humility. After the customary prayers and stories, I found her smiling a huge grin. When I asked what brought  her such joy she told me she couldn’t wait to go to sleep so she could wake up in the morning and enjoy another day, and all the wonderful things she’d do “while growing up.” The power of those words still amazes me!
  
           The next morning, I unlocked the laboratory door and dug in to complete our mission, happy to have been given the skills and intellect to do so, and to be part of a small team charged with accomplishing the near impossible. It was awe-inspiring to know God had provided me the gifts necessary to fulfill my responsibilities and the position in which to enjoy the fruits of these gifts… perhaps the greatest of which is another day to enjoy all the wonderful things I could do.

                Be happy! Be grateful! Stay well!


Reflection by Beau Stebbins

Thursday, July 25, 2019

SAVING THE CITY OF SODOM/BREAD FOR A FRIEND


SAVING THE CITY OF SODOM/BREAD FOR A FRIEND


Of course, we all know that scripture was shared, then written, thousands of years ago, reflecting on the people who lived in those times with their cultures, beliefs and traditions.  And sometimes we are left scratching our heads as to what the inspired writer’s message really means for us. 


As I read this weekend’s story from Genesis, I imagined listening in to the conversation between Abraham and the Lord, as Abraham tried to convince God not to destroy the innocent people of Sodom.  He begged the Lord’s mercy and kept at it, if there were “at least ten there”.  And God’s mercy prevailed. 


I tried to picture Abraham here today in 2019, begging the Lord to save our country and see that it was worth saving if there were only a few innocent people left.  A few hundred, a few thousand, a few million perhaps and God’s mercy would prevail. 


That is the hope of my journey – God’s mercy for all who are trying to walk in God’s way.  Some days produce a closer walk than others for me. 


After reading the Gospel of Luke, describing one who seeks out a friend to borrow some bread, I recalled an experience last Sunday. After spending several hours in our home preparing it for a neighborhood gathering today, I left projects undone because I was “undone” and needed a break for a bit.  The house was still in a state of disarray as was I.  The doorbell rang soon after I sat down to give my aching feet a rest.  L  When I opened the door, two smiling guests were there all ready to party, albeit one week early. I was mortified, they were embarrassed.  At first I wanted to send them away and keep my messy self and house from too much view.  But with their chilled bottle of wine in hand, I invited them in and we all had a great time visiting.


Jesus keeps on giving us opportunities to “open our doors”, either those of our homes or those of our hearts.  I pray for the grace to seek God’s mercy when the door of my own heart is sometimes not opened to God-visitors who are seeking the Lord’s path through me.


Reflection by Mary Keefe

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Modern Day Good Samaritan

The Parable of The Good Samaritan

   I would like to paraphrase just a few thoughts and consolidated definitions of what a parable is and is meant to do. First, the parable must be looked at in context with what came before and after it in scripture writings. Chris Dodd defines a parable as something from nature or common life that is strange and meant to tease the mind into thought.  Jesus intends for us to look at things in a different way and let ourselves be transformed.  Often there is humor or exaggeration but not an explicit demand.

     When I read this parable I ask myself, “Am I willing to have my world turned upside down? So many great minds have written commentaries and interpretations on this parable that I cannot do them justice, but will simply offer this story.
  
Sammy 
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” …… “And who is my neighbor?”  Luke 10:27,29



                                                     
       The ringing of her telephone startled her eyes to attention well before she usually woke up for the day’s first cup of coffee. The voice on the line belonged to her granddaughter, “Would you please drive us to school?.....We missed the bus and Mom has already left for work.”

      “O.K. Let me pull on some clothes and I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
  
    After returning home, Sammy quickly did her house chores so she could have lunch with her mother. She drove to her mother who was in an assisted living facility with a memory care unit. Several times a week, Sammy tried to have lunch or join in the activities with her mother there because it was becoming too confusing to her mother when they would leave the facility.
  
     After signing in, Sammy walked the corridor to her mother’s room and along the way she passed the same faces, John, Agnes, Ruby and others that she greeted each time she visited. But this was a new day so she became a new friend to John, Agnes, Ruby and others today. As usual, when she greeted Ruby, Ruby complimented the necklace that Sammy was wearing.  

      She found her mother getting ready to go to lunch. “I see you’re ready to go to lunch, Mom. I’ll walk down with you when you are ready.”

      “Oh, don’t you think we should wait for your father before we go down?” Sammy’s father had died 18 months ago.

     “We can go ahead and ask the kitchen staff  to keep his meal warm until he returns.” Sammy had learned that this rues was kinder than reminding her mother of a truth that still registered a startled grief in her mother’s frail body. Sammy sat with her Mom at a table with some of the other residents and sometimes was able to engage them in conversation, but most often was not able to converse very much. Her mother enjoyed seeing pictures that Sammy kept on her phone, often ones she had already seen, of the grandchildren and other members of the family. After lunch Sammy might take her mother upstairs for a cup of tea. When Mom became tired they would return to her room where Sammy would settle her in for an afternoon nap and promise to return the next day. As she closed the door, she offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the many “holy moments” she could share with her mother.

     On her drive home, Sammy passed a grocery store with a picket line in front. The sun was not quite ready to set but the north wind began to blow a chilling rain across the empty parking lot. Sammy didn’t know details about the strike but was taken in by the smiles that beckoned others to their cause. Her heart only saw the soaked and matted hair and felt the chill on their skin. So she did what she knew best to help---she fed them. Her car turned into McDonald’s where she bought twenty five burgers and cups of coffee. When she pulled into the parking lot with the burgers and coffee, her reward was many warm bear hugs from so many grateful strangers. 
  
    Before her head hit the pillow that night, she gave thanks for the many beautiful people who had entered her life that day.

  
   Sammy’s story is fiction but our lives are not. How do I live my life?



                         
Reflection by Linda Crowley

Saturday, July 6, 2019

It was then that I carried you!


Over the past few months the faith formation office has run various events that were designed for students but had a parent element as part of it.  After each one of those events we have had adults share with us that they learned so much and really enjoyed the events.  That got me thinking, why?  What do these events, that are geared towards kids and teenagers have that parents and adults find so appealing?  And I have come up with 2 answers – a simple, clear message and fun.  Our faith at its core is simple, “love the Lord your God with all your heart mind, body and soul and love one another as I have loved you” Luke 10:27.  Yes there is a lot more to our faith then that, but at its core, Jesus told us that this was the greatest commandment, and sums up everything our faith should be about.  Sometimes we get so lost in the details, we forget the core meaning.  Giving a simple, clear, concise message, keeps that from happening.

The other important aspect is fun.  Too often our faith and our church seems rigid, stuffy and boring.  That is so far from the truth.  Our faith is fun and amazing; we just have to let it.  Again we can get caught up the minor details of rituals and rubrics and forget about the meaning, or person (i.e. Jesus Christ) behind it.  Last week during #Jesus (our summer faith formation program for 7th and 8th graders) we prayed the rosary, had adoration, prayed the examen and learned about the death and resurrection of Christ, but we did so in a lively and fun way.  The students having fun while praying the rosary and acting out each joyful mystery didn’t detract from the beauty of the rosary, it added to it.  40 teenagers on their knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration is beautiful and powerful, even if teenage laughter and giggles sometimes break out. 

This Sunday we sign during the Responsorial Psalm “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy, shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of his name.”  That doesn’t sound like a faith that should be stuffy or boring, that sounds like a faith that should be alive and shouted joyfully from the rooftops! 

As I was walking through the parish center today, looking at all the decorations Jackie Halpin Curran has set up for our Vacation Bible School (If you don’t normally walk through the parish center, you should this week, it is awesome, Jackie did an amazing job!) it struck me that the simple fun message we will be teaching our preschoolers through fourth graders, is such an important message for the parish as a whole – When Life is ____, God is Good!  You can insert anything you want into that blank – when life is scary; when life is hard; when life is difficult; when life is exciting; when life is just ok; when life is good, GOD IS GOOD!

Sometimes we find ourselves only turning to God when life has turned hard or difficult and we think we need him, but when times are going well, we tend to forget about him.  Or we think that during the difficult times, God has somehow abandoned us.  No matter our situation- whether we just lost our job; are struggling in our marriage; just suffered a miscarriage; got promoted; got accepted into our favorite college; got dumped by the boy/girl you like; had our parents go through a painful divorce; lost a loved one; met the love of your life; been diagnosed with cancer; won the lottery – GOD IS GOOD. 

God loves you no matter what and is with you through the good times and the bad times.  Sometimes it is hard to see how He is working in your life but He is always there.  He loves you like His son or daughter and would do anything for you.  Sometimes it is just hard to see His plan, but know He is always there. 

This poem, “Footprints in the Sand” helped me through a lot of hard times in my life, someone gave me a cross with it written across it after my dad died when I was 18.  I have since passed that cross on to someone else who needed it and I hope it has been passed on again and again after that.  My prayer for you is that you always remember, that no matter what, GOD IS GOOD, and He is always with you.

Footprints in the Sand

“Last night I had a dream.  I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.  For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonged to me, the other to the Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.  I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.  "Lord, you said  once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all the way.  But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints.  I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.  During your times of suffering, when you could see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."



Reflection by Matthew Bensman

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How Do You Pray?

This week 40 of our 7th and 8th grade students gathered together for a week long faith formation program focused on knowing and loving the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
One of the main themes of the week was building a relationship with Jesus through prayer.  Each night we communicated with God in a different way - the Mass, the Rosary, Praise and Worship music, Adoration, spontaneous prayer and the Examen.  The beauty of our faith and the Church is that there are so many different ways we can pray and communicate with God, there truly is something for everyone, we only began to scratch the surface of all the different ways you can pray.  
Think of prayer as conversation with God.  Whenever we pray we speak with God.  God loves us and wants to be loved by us. Prayer always begins by God’s prompting us to make our way to Him. Because we first are loved by God we can love Him. Prayer is this exchange of love. As we grow in recognition of God’s love for us we more easily and joyfully converse with Him.
What is your "go to" prayer?  Do you pray daily? How can you deepen your relationship with God by communicating with Him? 

How do you like to pray? Feel free to share your favorite prayer experiences below.

Relection by Matthew Bensman

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ


As a young altar boy I used to place a large red cloth on the altar when Mass was over that had written on it in large gold letters for all to see, “Without Me You Can Do Nothing”. Today, we might say instead, “With God All Things Are Possible” (MT:19:26). I never really thought much about the meaning of this phrase when I was a kid, but it has always stayed with me. Of course, I now realize that it explains how Jesus could multiply five loaves and two fish and feed 5,000 of his disciples.


All miracles are significant but I learned recently that, other than the Resurrection, the multiplication of the loaves and fish is the only miracle mentioned in all four gospels. Had Jesus not performed this miracle the people would have had to look for food, some may have gone hungry, perhaps some may have become agitated, and the sense of community among them may have become disrupted. Instead, Jesus fed them and “all ate and were satisfied”.

Today, on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (what used to be called the Feast of Corpus Christi) we emphasize that Jesus continues to “satisfy” us with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. By receiving the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving) we are nourished spiritually, brought into communion with Christ and one another, recall His sacrifice on the cross, and are called to evangelize. Just as I wondered what may have happened had Jesus not fed the 5,000, I wonder what could happen to me if I were not able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. One could imagine that my relationship with Jesus would be affected (for I definitely feel closer to Christ when I receive the Eucharist). My commitment to the Church, the Body of Christ, could weaken.  And, my struggle to avoid sin would be even more challenging. Think about times that, for whatever reason, you have not been able to receive the Eucharist. Think about how that may have affected you and your participation in your faith community. Talk to someone who does not have access to the Eucharist and explore what impact it has on them. I am fortunate to bring the Eucharist to a 92 year old man in the parish who is no longer able to attend Mass. His reception of the Eucharist in his home is so important to him.


On this Feast day I think how fortunate we are to have priests who, through the sacrament of Holy Orders, are able to provide us with the Body and Blood of Christ. We forget that there are people in this country and in the world who do not have a priest to serve them and who do not have regular access to the Eucharist. Let us thank God for all He has given us, especially the gift of Himself. Let us also continue to pray for an increase in vocations.

Reflection by Bob Fanning


Friday, June 14, 2019

Hope Does Not Disappoint!

Father's Day weekend!  For so many people this day means family barbecues, home-made gifts from school, a round of golf without feeling guilty and cards that say, "Happy Father's Day from your favorite kid!" 

It's supposed to be a day where we stop and take a moment to appreciate the men in our lives who have done so much for us and been a blessing to our families.  Yet for people who have lost fathers, had abusive fathers, absent fathers, or always wished to be a father, this day can be a time filled with loneliness, sadness or grief.   It can be hard to find gratitude when life's circumstances feel challenging.

In fact, in just a few weeks (on July 3rd)  it will be the second anniversary of the most challenging time in my life, when my father passed away.  As odd as it sounds, the only way that I COULD get through that difficult time was by focusing on the small blessings in those moments and by being grateful.  I was blessed when I talked with my parents on the phone and knew something was different and that I should schedule a flight to visit them.  I was blessed when my husband got a nudge that told him I should not put off the trip to the following week.  I was blessed that my parents picked me up from the airport, and when my father fell in the parking lot and was bleeding, some strangers helped us get him to the car.   I was blessed when my brother was able to join us for dinner the next night and we marveled that the four of us had not been alone, eating dinner together in that kitchen, in over 20 years.  I was blessed to be there with my mother when he passed out and stopped breathing.  I was blessed to be the one to take charge (so she did not have to) and perform CPR.  I was blessed to sit in the hospital room and grieve and cry but also witness the outpouring of love and support.  I was blessed with the caregivers who were sent from heaven and for my friends who drove hours to sit outside hospice "just if I wanted a break at some point."  I was blessed that my brother showed up 1 minute before my dad took his final breaths, with fireworks going off in the background, as he headed to be with our Lord.  Through this sadness and tremendous grief, those little moments, where I knew God was working through others or by giving me a nudge to guide me, gave me comfort and peace. 

As we read in the second reading this week from Romans, "knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."  The pain and affliction that I felt during my father's passing was overwhelming at times.  Like a wave rolling over me.  However, when I breathed through the pain and remembered the many blessings that surrounded us, I felt gratitude, hope and joy through the tears.  There was overwhelming proof that we were being carried through this difficult time by the Holy Spirit.   Since then, my eyes have been opened to the many "coincidences", "God nudges", "God Moments" or "God Winks" that are surrounding us every day, encouraging us to believe, hope, support each other and get closer to God.    I've actually helped a friend find her cat who had been lost for three days because I felt the "nudge" to call her and then shared an article with her that gave her hope; the cat was found 20 min after we spoke.  I was on a call with a vendor and felt the nudge to talk about a colleague, who is a Rwandan refugee and looking for another job with a Visa.  He put her in touch with the right people, which gave her hope to keep trying.  This led to her dream job and her ability to stay in this country.  I randomly chatted up a man at a coffee shop who had lost his wife and felt the nudge to talk with him about their life together.  The list goes on.  We all have this happening daily.  The moments do not have to be big moments of tragedy for us to find them.  The weird coincidences and "random run-ins" are opportunities for us to help, love, and support each other.

When we fall on hard times, or we have friends/loved ones that fall on hard times, we should remember that "the challenges we face in life are always lessons that serve our soul's growth."   Part of the growth of the soul stems from gratitude then growths with hope. And hope?  Well, hope does not disappoint. 

Reflection by Gretchen O'Donnell


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