May the joy of the Risen Christ fill your hearts!
This weekend is not only Good Shepherd Sunday, it is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations!
All who have become members of the Body of Christ have an inherent desire to seek God in prayer. Prayer should have a place of priority in a Christian’s life. A Christian should pray every day at least 3 times a day: in the morning, at mid- day and at night. Just like the meals that health professionals recommend, prayer is a kind of food that every soul must have for the nourishment of the spiritual life which ensures joy and peace through an intimate relationship with God. The body cannot live without eating or breathing, the soul languishes without prayer! Mothers have a special role in family life. Like Our Blessed Mother Mary, mothers show their children the way to Jesus and how to pray to God from the heart. Fathers have an extremely important role in the family as spiritual leaders. They give strength and firmness by modeling prayer and the Christian virtues. One important mode of prayer is listening to God with the ear of the heart. Mothers and fathers need to pray together and teach their children how to listen to God and be guided by him.
We believe that each one of us is singularly and uniquely gifted by God and because of that, God has a special plan and vocation for every individual and a way for them to use their gifts and talents for the benefit of others. This activity is directed toward the building up of God’s kingdom. Some of us are called to serve God in special ways through marriage vows, vows of religious profession, live singly or be ordained for service. Rising from vocations, there is also ministry. Many of the members of the community of St. Edward are active in ministries of caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, proclaiming the Word or serving Communion, Hospitality and various other efforts that make a difference in people’s lives. These are all good and important activities but there are more ways to be active! If you feel like doing something radical, try completely committing your life forever to Christ and follow the way he leads you! Many men and women in the Catholic tradition have responded to God’s call and have made the total commitment to sacrifice their lives in service to the Christian community and the needs of the human race. In their vows of poverty, simplicity, chastity and obedience, they have put on Christ in a powerful and wonderful way! Some are called to be priests, some are members of religious communities, some are deacons, some live and work quietly among us as consecrated virgins while others are called to marriage. Jesus is the Good Shepherd of souls, are you willing to follow where ever he leads you? Say “Yes” today and every day! Mother Mary did!
God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter
Peace and grace to you all!
This weekend we hear the story “on the road to Emmaus.” I love this story because it is so human and I think it always has something to teach us no matter how many times we hear it! That’s one of the great things about the Word, it truly is ALIVE! One key theme that rises to the surface for us is remembering. I often hear people say that the most important things we can do in life is cherish our memories. I know that memories are especially important to us and the people we love. Family traditions are repeated each year and the memories of past deeds and events at gatherings are recalled bringing laughter and joy. Today’s Gospel has something similar to a family gathering but far more powerful because it establishes the concrete, central underpinnings of our faith!
At first the disciples don’t recognize Jesus while they speak and listen to him. As they move along together we get a sense that a companionship is forming. When the stranger appeared to be going on, they extended hospitality and invited him to stay. The pinnacle moment occurs during the breaking of the bread when the disciples recognize Jesus. And in a flash, he mysteriously vanishes! They connect feeling the flame alive in their hearts at Jesus’ words and the moment of recognition. Then they realize a truth that we still hold on to today. Jesus is alive and present with us! The reason they didn’t recognize Jesus on the way was because they didn’t remember him the way he wanted to be remembered. Jesus wanted them to remember his great love for them in the “New and Everlasting Covenant” of the Eucharist. I just love this story because it brings us all home to why we come to celebrate the Eucharist. We don’t come together to remember his suffering and death alone, he doesn’t want us to be overwhelmed by that. We come together most of all to remember the love that he still pours out into our hearts! It is love and mercy that brings us to Jesus and more deeply to each other.
How do you want people to remember you? Jesus invites us all to be drawn into one memory with him, by sharing ourselves in goodness and love! May God enrich other lives through you! +++ Fr. Peter
Happy Easter! May the Divine Mercy raise you up in hope and courage!
Mercy Sunday is a special day for those around the world who have made the effort to pray the Divine Mercy Novena beginning Good Friday and culminating the second Sunday of Easter. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was given to St. Maria Faustina Kowalska on Good Friday in 1935 by Jesus who wanted her to pray it as a Novena (9 days) with special intentions for each of the nine days it was prayed. St. Faustina relates in her Diary that Jesus made several promises to grant many special graces to those who would pray the Novena. This Sunday many of the faithful will begin to realize the graces and gifts that Jesus promised to those who would pray the Chaplet. Those who were included in the intentions will receive life changing graces in their lives as well! I am very happy that we include praying the Chaplet in our parishes, especially at St. Edward where it is prayed before all Masses. Jesus also made promises to those who would display an image of the Divine Mercy which is prominently displayed in our Churches at St. Thomas, St. Bernard and St. Edward. The rays streaming from the heart of Jesus in the image have symbolic meaning: red is for the blood of Jesus which is the life of souls and the pale color is for water and Baptism which justifies souls (diary par. 299). The whole image is symbolic of charity, divine love and forgiveness referred to as the “Fountain of Mercy.”
May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter
May the Joy of Easter shine brightly in your hearts!
Through the journey of Lent we have been gathering on Friday’s to pray the Stations of the Cross. Many of us have personally experienced the rise and fall rhythm as we struggle with our own crosses and burdens. Through the struggle and the toil, the feelings of confusion and re-orientation, the rise and fall of hope and failure, we have been able to identify and confront some of the forces that have disfigured us. Some of these things are within us and some of them are from people or situations around us. Either way, whatever the source, we have felt the darkness and emptiness of pain and sin. These things have given us a tomb-like experience. We have felt trapped, isolated and unable to change.
Today, by God’s grace, we feel a new freedom! Our faith impels us forth from the confinement of old behaviors to new, better ways of living and loving! In practical daily living, Easter means the experience of tragedy but also joy through the experience of Jesus’ power to transform a tragedy into a new beginning. I think the disciples of Jesus had that type of experience, although much greater. They had placed all their hopes and dreams in Jesus and his promises but then came Good Friday and all their hopes and dreams were smashed to bits when he was taken captive, falsely accused and brutally killed. Their hopes and dreams seemed to finally vanish when he died on the cross. I doubt they fully realized what Jesus was doing for them at the time of the Last Supper—or on the cross. But as the sun rose on Easter morning, Jesus the true light rose with it and appeared to his disciples more fully alive than ever!
In that moment, the power of Easter began to transform the lives of his disciples. Incredulity gave way to belief, despair gave way to hope, darkness gave way to light and sorrow gave way to joy, hatred gave way to love! Every Easter Jesus invites us to open our hearts to the transforming power of his love so that he can accomplish in us what he accomplished in his disciples. He sent them into the world renewed and freed from fear or doubt. He made them people of light and filled them with joy! Then he sent them to share the Good News of God’s love and mercy! May God fill you with light, happiness and peace that you may share it with others! +++ Fr. Peter
Grace and peace to you!
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. It is called Holy Week because through the scriptures this week, we are brought into the historical account of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us that won our salvation. The liturgies this week take on a special character too. This is partly due to the focus on the passion of Jesus in the readings but also because we engage our physical senses through doing things out of the ordinary like, the reception of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, the empty tabernacle, the use of incense, the veneration of the cross, the light of fire and candles and special seasonal hymns. As we incorporate these things, it is important to realize that we are not re-enacting the historical events upon which our faith is grounded, but rather we are remembering and enabling ourselves, through the use of our senses, to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ life of service, his suffering, death and resurrection.
The mystery we enter calls us to reflect upon the events of the past and to ponder what is now happening among us as God’s people called to conversion. We should remember how God led the people out of slavery and oppression by Pharaoh in Egypt through the Sea of Reeds. The Sea of Reeds was the abode of the dead and the desert was a new life experience where they were taught the Ten Commandments. They also experienced God providing for them with manna and God gave them water to drink. The old passage through the Red Sea foreshadowed the passage of Jesus through his death to his resurrection and eternal life. Jesus opened the way for all to follow him through death to life. Our hope is to share in it! This “anamnesis” or remembering-in-a-special-way truly bolsters our hope and confidence in God’s loving plan of salvation for our future. As we reflect on the great biblical events, it is very important for all of us to realize that through Lent we have been on a journey of listening to God’s Word, turning away from sin and rising to a new and better life with Christ. My prayer is that we all grow in gratitude, love and holiness as we enter this special week in an ever new and deeper way. God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter