Repentance And Conversion

Peace, grace and Easter joy be with you all!

We are reminded that a great part of our witness to Jesus as The Redeemer of the Human Race is to embrace a lifestyle of conversion.

In the first reading, Peter identifies Jesus as God’s glorified servant and Author of Life whom the Jewish leaders put to death.  Peter testifies that God raised Jesus from the dead as proof of his true identity and that he understands that those who promoted his death were unaware of who Jesus really was.  Peter proposes to them a remedy for their sin: repent and be converted so that their sin may be wiped away!

In the Gospel, Jesus had just revealed himself to two of his disciples in Emmaus the evening before and now reveals himself to a large group of his disciples.  At the end of the account, Jesus summarizes the reason for his suffering, death and resurrection was so that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name everywhere in the world by his disciples.

A key word in both readings is repentance, which is a semi-accurate translation of the original Greek word metanoia.  Repent, as Websters Dictionary says, is to feel sorry or self-reproachful for what one has done or failed to do.  By God’s grace, the person is moved by conscience to feel contrition, sorrow, or regret for their sins as well as penalties undertaken on their account.  The Greek term, metanoia, directly signifies the change of mind and of heart that occurs in conversion.  The difference in our understanding of what repentance actually means is very important.  Repentance is not just something to be done on account of a sin, but is rather a way of life that focuses on becoming an image of God: a true human being.  Through our baptism, we are members of the Body of Christ – Jesus is the restorer of the human person!  This new life we are given calls us to the constant turn of the heart and mind toward God as an inner state of prayer with a posture of listening with deeply interested love.  The focus is not sin.  The focus is God’s saving love!  This is God’s work in us.

May God fill you with peace and joy! +++ Fr. Peter

Divine Mercy

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 with the Rosary 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.”

In the Gospel reading Jesus says to all those who were gathered in a room with the door locked: “Peace be with you.”  In saying this, a wave of grace washes through the hearts and minds of his disciples.  Jesus’ Word heals and strengthens his followers.  Any feelings of guilt, shame or recrimination is removed and they all experience the peace that only God can give through his mercy.  Easter season is a season of surprise and blessing coming from the heart of the Savior by Mercy.  Let us rejoice and be glad!

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

He Is Risen!

Happy Easter! Alleluia!

It’s hard to imagine what the first Easter must have been like.  There were only a small number of people who followed Jesus and they had just suffered a horrible, tragic loss in seeing him die on the cross.  They were still feeling the shock waves of his death when some reported the unthinkable – He is risen!  The event of the resurrection of Jesus sets Christians apart from the world in a special way.  Look around you.  There are more people in Church today for one reason.  Jesus died, then rose again!  You are here and so are they because they believe, they have faith and hope in the resurrection to eternal life.  Millions of people around the world have made a special effort to get dressed up and go to Church today to celebrate what their faith means to them.  Like you, I wish everyone had a strong faith and a sense of purpose about what to do with their faith.  Imagine what our world could be like if everyone worked together to build societies that honored God and put the Gospel values into action!

I am reminded that the followers of Jesus were few but they grew in number because they lived a sincere faith.  By doing this, the Lord showed his favor through them and more and more people wanted to have this grace-filled experience in life.   We have the same opportunity.  If the world we live in is to grow in holiness and remain a good place to live, then the faith that brings us here must go out with us into our homes, our schools, our places of work, our neighborhoods and wherever else we go.  We must be glad to share with other people what our faith gives us.  The tomb is empty!  Not because his body was stolen but because God raised him from the dead!  There are those who would roll the stone back over the entrance by covering up their faith or by denying what really happened.  This is a time for us to be grateful for the new freedom Jesus has given us from our old sins and attitudes that lead to a dead end.  We have been raised with him in sure and certain ways!

As a people of faith, let this Easter be the time when we sincerely rededicate ourselves as baptized disciples of Jesus.  He gave us the Gospel and its power!  Let our words and our actions show our good will and the Good News of the resurrection! +++ Fr. Peter

Holy Week

Peace be with you,

This weekend we begin the drama of Holy Week.  Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst the joyful cries of “Hosanna!” by the people who believe him to be the long-awaited Messiah!  This joy-filled acclamation at the beginning of the week increases our sense of shock and wonder at his arrest, mock trial and brutal death on Friday.  How could the mood in Jerusalem change so quickly?  How could some of the people who acclaimed him one day, turn around and hatefully condemn him a few days later?  We are moved to consider our own fickle behavior.  It seems like Jesus is lifted up only to be thrown down by betrayal and corruption.  How did Jesus endure and keep his faith through this erratic drama?  The readings from Isaiah and the Philippians give us some insight: Jesus was committed completely to God his whole life.  He was familiar with the fickleness of human beings and found that God was his final hope.  He chose obedience to God above all things even though it brought suffering and death, he believed God would reward him.

As Holy Week unfolds, we are reminded of our own call to holiness, to faithfulness and obedience to God’s will.  If we are disciples of Jesus, we too can expect to have hardship, suffering and even persecution in our own lives.  These forces are brought about by sin.  It should make us feel remorseful to know that our sins brought this injustice and pain upon Jesus and we should be acutely mindful of our treatment of others.  It is also uplifting to know that when we suffer for Christ and remain true to his teachings, we can be confident that that God will not abandon us but will sustain us and give us strength to persevere.  This week, let us draw closer to Jesus by uniting our YES to God with him so that through our suffering we remain constant in faith and grow in holiness giving increase to a rightful hope in the joy of his resurrection!

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Pray For New Life!

The story of Lazarus helps us enter into a deep and real encounter with Jesus.  Although Jesus is the All Powerful Lord and Savior of all; he is also human and weeps at the death of his friend and he grieves with Martha and Mary because of their loss.  Jesus is not afraid to cry, to weep and to grieve.  He is not aloof or separated from our pain, longing or suffering any more than he is separated from our feelings of joy, hope and gratitude!  Jesus is not afraid to feel and express his emotions in a healthy way with other people.  Jesus’ words to unbind and set Lazarus free are directed to us today.

Let us think about Lazarus for a moment.  He is bound up in a dark cave and he is dead.  These are the effects of sin.  Jesus has come to show that he can free us from these effects if we trust and believe in him! Close your eyes, try to identify the places of injury on your body or soul that have been damaged or died because of sin.  Think about your personal Spirit, has part of it died or been diminished in some way?

If you feel that you are in darkness and have lost sight of hope, If you feel unable to give or receive love, If you can no longer voice your true thoughts and feelings, If you did something bad or were made to do something bad, If you are unable to move forward and make changes in your life, If your mind is constantly dwelling on negativity, fear, guilt, or caught up in anger obsessing on past hurts and trauma, If you feel ashamed, If you have been carrying the burden of an unspoken secret, If part of your body is suffering from the damage of abuse, or anything else- ask Jesus to free you! If you feel that you are cut off from God and are unable to pray: pray in the name of Jesus!  Pray with a humble, sincere and repentant heart. Pray from the heart and simply be honest with Jesus.  Ask him to help you pray.

Remember: You cannot have lust or a wrongful attachment in your heart.  You cannot be effective in prayer if you mistreat your spouse or your children or neglect the poor.  You cannot harbor a grudge.  You must have faith in your heart and no bitterness toward someone else.  Pray with great hope and in secret.  Pray according to God’s will with an obedient attitude and live that way.  Pray in agreement with other believers and with delight in God’s goodness and love!  Fast and pray while abiding in God’s Word, Jesus Christ!

May the All-merciful Lord raise you to eternal life! +++ Fr. Peter

Spiritual Sight

The blind man in today’s Gospel is a very important figure for all of us to consider.  From our birth, we have all been affected by sin and the spiritual blindness that comes with it.  But thanks be to God, through our baptism, we know about God and we believe in Jesus as God’s Son, our Savior and Redeemer.  Baptism has given us the light of faith and understanding.  But our blindness is not entirely removed.  There are still blind spots that affect us and the people around us.  We are not able to discover them or change without God’s help.  Today is a day that we open ourselves to God’s grace: to be touched by Jesus and begin a new life!

In the story, Jesus uses his saliva and earth to make clay.  We remember the story of creation in Genesis when God formed man out of the slime of the earth.  Jesus smears the slimy clay on the man’s eyes and instructs him to wash in the pool—symbolizing baptism.  In baptism we were washed clean from our sin and we became born again; that is created anew spiritually as a child of God.  The darkness of sin has been removed and we walk as children of God by the light-vision of faith.  But our journey of faith is not an easy path.  At times we are misled or wander astray not entirely certain of the right way to go.  We experience doubt, confusion, fear, love, passion and pleasure.  Some of what we experience or perceive to be good we discover later on wasn’t good; it wasn’t what we thought it was.  When that happens, we turn to God asking for pardon and begin again our journey of faith renewed by God’s cleansing mercy.  Through this process, we experience an increase in our faith.  We are more enlightened with spiritual vision and understanding.  We are more firm at applying our faith to daily life.

Remember, Lent is a season of Kairos , that is a special time when the Lord is at work with us helping us to see more clearly the path for a closer life with him.  If we are sincere, Jesus will help us avoid things that cause us problems by showing us what they are and then showing us the way to avoid them.

May God bless you all during this holy season! +++ Fr. Peter

Living Water

Peace and grace to you all!

In the first reading, the Israelites’ physical fatigue and thirst reveals the deeper level of their spiritual aridity and lack of faith.  This happens even though God has been providing everything that they need in a unique and powerful way.  Moses is frustrated with their hardness of heart and their constant doubting, bickering and complaining rather than trusting in God.  Change is not easy.

In the Gospel story, Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman and surprises her in a special way.  She carries an empty jar to the well each day to satisfy her bodily thirst.  But in the encounter with Jesus, it becomes clear that the empty jar also represents her spiritual emptiness.  What she thirsts for spiritually is grace and mercy from God.  She has had a hard life and she longs for intimacy and fulfillment.  She comes to the well at mid-day to avoid the scorn and ridicule of the other townspeople.  She quickly discovers that Jesus doesn’t treat her the way other people do.  He is kind and understanding toward her.  He knows her whole life story with the bad decisions, the embarrassing failures, the mistakes, the losses and the pain.  Instead of ridicule and rejection, Jesus offers her a remedy.  For her part, she has only to put her faith and trust in him.  Her response is to leave the jar behind – her emptiness, pain and spiritual thirst.  As she leaves, something has already begun springing up inside of her, it is faith!  She believes in Jesus’ love, understanding and care for her!  The wellspring within her is the grace and mercy of God flowing upon her life through baptism.

We come to realize that Jesus came to the well on that day and at that hour to satisfy the longing that she had for God and to save her from her sins.  Jesus came to the well thirsting too.  He was thirsting for her faith and trust.  We are reminded of our own thirst for God and God’s thirst for our faith and trust in him!  This is an encounter that brings joy and fulfillment.  We are also reminded that baptism has brought us into the life-giving waters of grace that flow from God’s faithful love and mercy through Jesus.

May God continue to fill you with the life-giving water of divine grace! +++ Fr. Peter


Peace and grace to you all!

The event of the Transfiguration was for Jesus and his disciples a dazzling and affirming memory.  Most of us have had moments of glory in our lives in which we have felt blessed, affirmed and strengthened.  These memories are imprinted in us and they never fade or leave.  I remember my best friend who received the Most Valuable Player Award for his outstanding performance through a basketball tournament when we were in High School.  He was given a trophy that he still has!   Fr. Craig Boly’s mother Frances was chosen as the Rose Queen in 1939 and I know first-hand that it remained a dazzling memory for her!

There have also been moments of extreme awkwardness and discomfort due to misunderstandings, illnesses, or mistakes.  The Transfiguration provides a contrasting back-drop of dazzling beauty against deformity, horror, and ugliness for Jesus and ourselves.  For Jesus, it was being arrested amidst false accusations, gross miscarriage of justice, abuse of power, brutal beating and horrible disfigurement of his body by being crucified.  For ourselves, it reminds us of our own beauty and glory even though there are failures and struggles in life with injustices, betrayal, illnesses, or when bad things happen to us or our friends or family and we have no control.

It reminds me of the day my friend William Manfield informed me that he was dying of cancer.   The day was bright, sunny and warm while we sat on a park bench in Victoria watching ships and boats pass by in the Straight of Juan de Fuca: it was a lovely day and William still had the glow of life and love showing through him.  In the months that followed, that glow faded away as his body was disfigured by the disease and finally by death.  It is hard for us to encounter things like that but such times help us to remember what is important and how to cherish those memories.

In the Transfiguration, God gives us an image that far surpasses any earthly glory.  It shows God’s vision of the human person restored and fully alive!  That’s who Jesus is!  This directs us in faith to the object of our final hope.  Like Jesus, we know that our mortal lives are passing, but there is a resplendent, glorious, and eternal life to come!  The memories we have can help to anchor our hope in God’s faithful promises.  The knowledge and belief of Jesus’ commitment to God’s will leads to final triumph over sin and strengthens us!  It firmly sets our moral compass to follow Jesus the guiding star of our lives when darkness surrounds us.  Abraham Trusted God in the midst of extreme difficulty.  Jesus was obedient to God even when it meant losing his friends and laying down his life.  God is asking us to trust and be obedient too.  How do your memories help you love, let go and live for God?

May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

The Desert Experience

Peace and grace to you all!

As you know, the themes that run through Lent are prayer, fasting, almsgiving, forgiveness, conversion from hardness of heart to love of enemies and openness to God’s Word.  As we see in the readings this weekend, it is the openness to God’s Word and the struggle to follow it that drove Jesus into the desert.  We too are either dragged or driven by the Spirit each year to face temptation and struggle against the great idol of selfishness.  Why?  Because of our identity.  We are God’s special people!

Jesus had to wrestle against the temptations that all people experience through human nature so that human nature could be restored to harmony, peace and love with God’s will.  The desert experience of Jesus began immediately after his baptism, in which the heavens opened and the Father’s voice declared that he is the beloved Son of God.  In the face of temptation, Jesus affirms his divine Son-ship as servant of God by obeying God’s will rather than following inclinations that are basically selfish.  Jesus did not do this just for his own sake but for all of us.

In like manner, we are led by the Spirit to wrestle against our faults.  When we are tempted, we are asked to affirm our divine Son-ship as children of God.  Our hearts become afflicted and punctured when we realize that following Jesus perfectly is quite beyond our ability, no matter how hard we try.  These failures serve to help us depend more upon God and it is precisely through them that we experience God’s greatest attribute: loving mercy!  As we descend into the failure of our own pride, we paradoxically rise to a new and more abundant trust and love in Jesus who is our Healer, Life Giver and Merciful Savior.  The Paschal Mystery of Jesus (life, death and resurrection) is the pattern we live in our own life and each year we change.  We grow in greater freedom and readiness to follow God.  We discover that throughout our entire lives, we have been preparing in deeper ways for the joy of the resurrection!

May God accompany you on your journey in this holy season! +++ Fr. Peter

Jesus The Healer

Peace and grace to all!

Both the first and second readings this weekend refer to how those suffering with the effects of sin should be treated.  In the first reading, the individual with a sore is to present himself to the priest for inspection, and the priest is supposed to determine whether or not the individual is unclean.  In those days, there was a lot of fear and concern for contagious diseases and due to that, there were many declared unclean and ostracized from the community even if they didn’t have leprosy.  The people avoided them and shunned them – mostly out of fear.  This came at a time when the person afflicted needed support and assistance the most!  Imagine if you got sick and as a result, everyone rejected you.  Of course, one of the allegorical meanings of leprosy is sin, and in this case, it is a serious sin that separates someone from the life-giving presence of the community.  The leper in the story has enough courage to approach Jesus and make a request in faith.  When everyone else turned away, Jesus remained unafraid and compassionate.  That is because Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save!  Jesus came to be the bridge, the transcendence that crosses over the chasm that fear, ignorance and sin have brought into our lives.

Fear, ignorance, bigotry, hardheartedness, isolation and marginalization are realities in the lives of people today.  It includes the poor, the sick, the migrant, the addict, the prostitute, the post abortive, the abused, those of different cultures and faith traditions than our own, and those who do not yet understand the Gospel of Life.  For many, there is an inclination to be hard of heart, reject and ostracize others who have a different perspective than our own; just look at Big Tech and the mainstream media.  The challenge against such an attitude, is to not let the darkness take over our hearts and prevent us from reaching out to others.  If we separate ourselves from the Church, we separate ourselves from Jesus and we cannot bring the healing that Jesus wants to work through us.  It also requires us to be mature in our personal dispositions and faith so that we too may experience healing and grow in holiness.

God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter