Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid." Can it really be true? Is our heavenly Father actually so aware of us? Does the Creator of the universe pay that much attention to me? Jesus says yes. God knows us far more intimately than we even know ourselves. And so, we have nothing to fear.
Being Christian isn't guaranteed to be easy. More and more even in our own culture, following the faith is being criticized and discouraged in the public square. Privately, we may struggle with the demands of the commandments or the ability to believe when we face the inevitable trials that come our way. But passages like this one in today's Gospel are a source of tremendous hope and consolation. We are loved beyond measure. We enjoy the care and concern of God in every situation, big and small. Truly we have no need to worry or be anxious because God is in control.READ MORE
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'" From the beginning, the Eucharist has been a source of controversy. Some people have always found the teaching difficult to accept. But as Catholics, the Blessed Sacrament is at the heart of our worship and our spirituality; we go to Mass to share in the holy sacrifice of Jesus' body and blood, and we receive spiritual nourishment from partaking of this heavenly food. As Jesus himself tells us in today's Gospel, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him."READ MORE
As you know, I sometimes like to share with you the words of our saints. This time it is from St. Peter Chrysologus, who died around the year 450.
"I appeal to you by the mercy of God." This appeal is made by Paul, or rather, it is made by God through Paul, because of God's desire to be loved rather than feared, to be a father rather than a Lord. God appeals to us in his mercy to avoid having to punish us in his severity.READ MORE
Last Sunday we celebrated the ordination to the transitional diaconate of John Nahrgang. This is the last step on his journey to priesthood. It is at this ordination that John made his commitment to celibacy and promised to be obedient to Bishop Olmsted and his successors. John will be with us as a new deacon at Mass in the coming weeks (actually, as I write this I do not know when he will be scheduled.)
Saturday morning we celebrated the ordination to the priesthood of three men from our diocese. We are truly blessed to have such great young men coming forward and giving their lives to God and to His Church.READ MORE
Next weekend is our annual diocesan Teen Congreso. I know, it sounds like it is in Spanish, but it is bilingual. There will be offerings in both English and Spanish.
Parents of teens, I would remind you that you are still responsible for the faith formation of your children...even your teens. So often I hear from teens that they feel separated or like their faith is not strong enough. Usually, when I ask when they stopped attending faith formation it is in junior high or even earlier. When I celebrate confirmations as a Dean, I always remind the parents that confirmation is not graduation, children must continue to learn as they grow.READ MORE
I have to admit that I am one proud father! Actually, we have many proud fathers and mothers, and grandparents and godparents, too. Over 200 of our young people have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation, and then they received Holy Communion for the first time. We can all be proud of these young members of our family at Our Lady of Perpetual Help!
Even more (yes, there is more!), Monday evening our 8th graders will graduate and move on to high school. It is always a little sad for me because I enjoy seeing them every day at school, but it is time to send them off and they are well prepared. Again, I am one proud father!READ MORE
Last year I asked you all to consider increasing your Sunday offering by $3 per week. Many of you were able to do that and you saw our Sunday collection increase this past year, not as much as I asked for but it did increase. So what did we do with the money?
Of course we have our regular bills: payroll, utilities, etc. Also this year we repaired the leaking roof at the Capilla, and part of the roof in our church. Remember we have some old buildings that always need repairs: Fr. Mario's bathroom had to be basically re-done because of plumbing problems, also the plumbing/sewer in the Notre Dame Center needed major repair. The compressor in one big A/C unit in the hall had to be replaced, and there are always smaller old A/C units that give us trouble. Those are just the big items.READ MORE
For the next two weekends we celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation with many of our young people. Please remember to pray for all of our confirmandi in the coming weeks.
This is also a good time to reflect on our own confirmation. Our church teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual seal by which we are conformed to Christ and made more fully members of His Church. Is this true in our lives? Do we reflect this Holy Spirit on all we meet daily? Remember, Christ himself was anointed by this Holy spirit when he was baptized by John, and then He was sent forth for the work of ministry, to pour out on the earth the fire of the same Spirit.READ MORE
We have been asked by the diocese to host the "Memorial for the Unborn Child" for the next two weeks. This sculpture will be in our church for the first week and in the Capilla for the second week. The sculpture is described as portraying a "beautiful equilibrium between pain and love, between the agony of the mother and the consolation of the child; between her repentance and his forgiveness." The message of the artist is: "Mother, please do not cry anymore, look at me, I am here. From heaven, I will be able to love you and do for you what I was unable to do on earth."READ MORE
Is Easter over already? Is all of that preparation in Lent and especially during Holy Week all for one quick day? Now we can go back to our "normal" lives like everyone else?
Actually, NO! That is why the Catholic Church celebrates the "day" of Easter for a whole week! After that we celebrate Easter as a season until the Feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the end of Easter by remembering that we, too, have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Why is all of this important? It is to remind us that for us who have shared in the resurrection of Jesus, for us who receive His body and Blood, for us who have received His Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Easter is our life--all year long!READ MORE
And now we can sing out: Alleluia! Our Lord is truly risen and we can rise with Him through His gift of sharing in His life. Now we begin again to try to live that shared life with our Lord and not fall into worldly ways.
What a great celebration we had, too. So many new members entering our community of faith give us hope and great joy. Of course, it is always wonderful to celebrate with a priest for his first Triduum; this was Fr. Ryan's first time as a priest to be part of God's great gift.
All through the Easter season, until Pentecost, we will be baptizing new children. In May we will celebrate Confirmation and First Holy Communion with about 200 of our young people. We have so much for which we give thanks, our community is so blessed.
Grace and Blessings as we begin Holy Week,
Monday, the priests of our diocese begin Holy Week with a day of prayer and reconciliation. It is my hope that you have all been to reconciliation already since we have expanded the hours during Lent. Like the priests, all of us should be more focused on prayer in these most holy of days.
Remember to check our schedule of services carefully because there are changes in Holy Week.There is only one Mass on Holy Thursday,at 7:30pm, and there are no Masses on Good Fridayor Holy Saturday inthe morning. Saturdayevening, after sunset, we will celebrate the Easter Vigil,the most important Mass of theyear. Pleaseremember that the Easter Vigil is close to 3 hours long; itis difficult for littlechildren. (I always see some people leave after one hour!!)READ MORE
Next Sunday we celebrate Passion Sunday, (Palm Sunday) and enter the holiest day of our year. As Lent draws to a close, let us renew our Lenten commitments. If we have not been as faithful as we wanted, let us make this week special by our observance.
Of course, our schedule changes during Holy Week so let us be prepared; watch the schedule carefully. Even next Sunday, there will probably be larger crowds. May we welcome visitors as Jesus welcomed all who came to him. Remember, our celebrations begin outside with the blessing of the palms.READ MORE