Consider this… Mother’s Day

Consider this… Mother’s Day

The Month of May is a month for celebrating mothers.  First and foremost is Mary, the mother of God and the mother of the Church, of us all.  I was reading about how the month of May became dedicated to Mary and saw that in the times of the early Church, the pagan Greek and Roman cultures in which the Christians were situated had festivals during this month dedicated to the various gods and values traditionally associated with motherhood as well as springtime and new growth.  Christians re-appropriated these ideas and moved another practice called the Tricesimum (Latin for “30-day devotion to Mary”) to the month of May henceforth dedicating this time, as it were, to Mary’s honor for her supreme example of discipleship and gift of motherhood.

Accordingly, there are many and varied devotions to Mary that are celebrated at this time.  We crown Mary in the month of May and we celebrated this with our first communicants and parish this past Sunday.  The month of May is a special time to pray the rosary.  The rosary is prayed here at St. Mary’s before each weekday Mass at 8:30am as well as in the Chapel on Wednesdays at 7:00pm.  You are welcome to join us.  As another idea, something we had around my family home growing up: when grandpa moved in to live with us, he brought with him the Marian Shrine he had from his old house, and we set up a garden around Mary in the backyard.  Perhaps, you can create a prayer space for Mary in your home or in your garden with your family.  Consider contemplating on the life of Mary – her yes to God, her following Jesus throughout his ministry to the foot of the cross, her intercession at Cana, her apparitions throughout history………  Her discipleship, her surrender, her trust and faithfulness, her charity, her prayerfulness, her purity, her care – and then go about imitating her virtues in your own life.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, expecting mothers, motherly figures!  They have completely dedicated themselves to always wanting what is best for us.  We will never know or appreciate enough all of the sacrifices of love that our mothers have made throughout our lives, themselves following in the example of the Paschal mystery of Christ.  Indeed, what a wonderful and sacred vocation it is to care for others with a mother’s love, and we celebrate that in a particular way this weekend as we celebrate Mother’s Day.  God bless our Moms!

Keep Smiling   

~ Fr. Luke

Consider this…

Consider this…

Easter is a 50 day season, in which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is something we should all celebrate, because it is the hope of our faith. We hear in the preface at Easter liturgies—For he is the true Lamb who takes away the sins of the world; by dying he has destroyed our death, and by rising, restored our life. Through His  resurrection the victory is His; and through our faith in Him, the victory is ours. Jesus has destroyed sin and death, and gives us the hope for eternal life.

In today’s Gospel we hear about Jesus’ encounter with his disciples and with Peter. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. This is to counter Peter’s denying Jesus three times earlier in the Gospel story. Peter is upset by this questioning, but it gives him a second chance at discipleship.

Let us imagine the question and commands of Jesus are directed to us. Do you love me? Feed my lambs…Tend my sheep…Follow me. We can imagine that Jesus gives us, like Peter, a second chance to live as a disciple. Our God, full of love and mercy, gives countless second chances. God never gives up on us. Are we willing to follow?

This weekend we will also celebrate the “May Crowning.” In this tradition of the church we will crown the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary signifying her as Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. All are invited to meet around the statue of Mary in the back lot of the church and participate in the crowning. It will take place at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 1st.

I would like to close with a message from St. Mother Teresa about the Blessed Virgin Mary and devotion to her:

“If you ever feel distressed during the day, call upon our Lady, just say this simple prayer—Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now. I must admit, this prayer has never failed me.”

God bless, 

Fr. Ryan

April 24, 2022 – Divine Mercy Sunday

April 24, 2022 – Divine Mercy Sunday

Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and put your hand into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Words from our Gospel today from the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.

 

Think about this statement: “Justice is fulfilling… but mercy is transformative (2x).”  On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I want to share with you a story from my own life on the transformative power of mercy.  I was in 7th grade, and although I had a small, good group of friends, and did respectably well in school, I wanted something more.  As kids are wont to do at that age, I compared myself to others.  Many of us still compare ourselves to others no matter what age we are.  My classmates seemed to be more athletic, smarter than I was, better at different activities, and more socially adjusted, and if that were not enough, some of them were good at letting me know how inferior I was as I faced ridicule and some bullying at times.  I wanted the attention and acceptance that they seemed to enjoy.  And so, one day, as the school day was drawing to an end, our teacher, Mr. Hariaczyi asked me to do something and I talked back to him in front of the whole class.  Honestly, I don’t remember what he asked of me, nor do I remember the vulgar words I chose to use, but I do remember the reaction of the class: “ohhhhhhh!”  So, I knew that I had succeeded.  I got the attention that I wanted.  For that moment, I felt as confident and also as inflated as everybody else seemed to be.  So, Mr. Hariaczyi gave me one of these (come here gestures) to come to his desk.  He would have been within his rights to give me detention.  He could have called my parents or sent me to the principal.  He could have given me a good talking to.  For someone in authority who did not receive the respect that he deserved, at the very least he could have demanded that I apologize to him for what I said.  All those things would have been rightly fulfilling, would have been just.  But do you know what he said to me?  He said, “Remember, Luke, you are one of the good kids.”  That was all that I needed to hear.  He saw through my motivations, understood and accepted me for who I was, affirmed the goodness he saw in me, and offered me mercy.  And you know what?  I never felt like I had to act out in class again.  Yes, there are times when I get angry still, or say things I regret, or look for unhealthy attention.  But to that point in my life, I was feeling small and belittled which led in turn to bad behavior, but then I was accepted and loved and empowered to be good all because my teacher went beyond the limits of justice to deal with me in mercy.  Mr. Hariaczyi helped to transform the warped path that I was beginning to go down to bring about something greater in my life.  Justice is indeed fulfilling, but mercy is transformative.

 

After visiting the empty tomb that Easter morning, Peter came running back to the Upper Room to tell the rest of the disciples the news.  He said to them, “I have some good news and some bad news.”  “What’s the good news?” all the disciples asked.  Peter responded, “The good news is that Jesus has been raised from the dead.”  “What’s the bad news?”  “The bad news is that he wants to talk to us about last Friday.”  Maybe that’s the real reason the doors were locked in that upper room.  What God went through that Friday on the cross could hardly be called justice, could hardly be called fulfilling.  Instead, God forgoes the debt and literally absorbs the cost.  Indeed, you only have to look at the wounds in his hands and feet and put your hands into his sides of the risen Christ to know what such superabundant love has cost our God.  The resurrected Christ still bears the wounds of suffering, his experience remains a visible part of his body forever.  There is a cost to mercy – and the mercy of God, the salvation of the world was purchased for us at the greatest cost of all.  Now certainly, this says something about how much we are worth to God, and how valuable and precious we are in God’s eyes, each and everyone one of us.  On this Divine Mercy Sunday, there is wisdom to the prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet that begins, “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” For the sake of his sorrowful passion…  We can’t just write off Jesus’ suffering on the cross as: “he died for me; so now, I’m good and free…” Let us never forget there are nail marks in the resurrected Christ, otherwise we’ll make that grace cheap, and we’ll fall into old habits, and commit the same sins again and again, the very same sins which Jesus died to free us from.  Thomas reminds us of this as he demands to see the wounds of the risen Christ.

 

And yet, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in the upper room in our Gospel today with these marks on his body, did he want to talk about last Friday?  No.  He came into the upper room and greeted the apostles there with a sign of his peace: “Peace be with you.”  Though he would have been right to do so, God goes beyond the limits of justice to deal with us in mercy.  “Peace be with you,” he says.  After all that has happened and all we’ve done, God proves that his love is a merciful love, not based upon anything we’ve done.  God’s mercy towards us is unconditional because it is based upon God himself who is love and simply loves.  Moreover, in the resurrection of Christ, God’s mercy towards the human race brought about the greatest transformation that the world has ever known, as eternity is opened up to us and we receive new hope and life in his name.  Did we not say that mercy is transformative?  With the words, ‘peace be with you,’ our entire situation is changed and relationships are restored.  God proved that he could and would love us through anything, that his mercy could overcome everything whatsoever, even our sins, and the wounds we inflict on each other, and abuse, and wars, and pandemics and suffering and even death itself.  Justice is fulfilling; mercy is transformative.

 

Hence, the Divine Mercy image St. Faustina presents to us in her vision today, a Christ with two streams of light a red one and a white one… one for the cost of love borne for us all and the other for the abundance of merciful grace – they indeed flow together with each other.  That is what happens at every Eucharist – Jesus offers himself up to us in love that we may be transformed by his mercy.  When I return to the presider’s chair after communion, I often pray in my heart the two prayers of the Divine Mercy chaplet centering upon God’s gift of mercy which we have just celebrated: “Eternal Father, I offer you the body and blood, soul and divinity of your dearly beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world, so, for the sake of his sorrowful passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.”  It is special that I could pray this prayer and truly offer the Eucharist for us all.  And I think herein is found the beauty that underlies our whole devotion.  God’s mercy isn’t just for us alone, each person for themselves.  God’s mercy in Christ is meant to transform all the world.  That is what St. Faustina wanted us to know.  She would be thrilled that we are devoting ourselves to God’s mercy, but the main thrust of her saintly life, and Jesus’ mission too, was indeed to share God’s mercy with others.  In this upper room, like the disciples of old, may we also be sent by the Lord to go and transform someone else’s life.  Receive the holy spirit, start forgiving one another, and discover for yourselves: justice is fulfilling, but mercy is transformative. 

Consider this… Mother’s Day

Consider this… Unpacking Easter: Mystagogy

The gift of the resurrection is unlike the gifts we receive at Christmas, packaged all nice and neat.  It is not something that we simply grasp and then move on as if nothing happened.  Coming to appreciate the depth of Easter’s meaning is more like peering into an infinitely deep well, and finding oneself able to draw water and new life from it again and again.  Indeed, there is much to fathom here.

Easter is 50 days long – you could say longer than Lent on purpose – to give us time to reflect and celebrate these Easter Mysteries.  During this time of Easter, we follow the Apostles and the Early Church as they likewise needed to figure out how to come to terms with everything they experienced.  “Now what?” seemed to be the unexpressed question on everyone’s mind and heart.  Some decided to visit the garden and cemetery where Jesus was laid to rest.  Some decided to go to pack it up and go home taking the road to Emmaus.  Some hunkered down in the Upper Room.  Some shared stories.  Some questioned.  Some decided to go  fishing.  Jesus appeared to them on many occasions, helping them to understand their experience, helping them to find peace amidst their dashed hopes and grief, and eventually sending his Spirit upon them to help them go forward and carry on in the new life that had been opened up to them.  And go forward they did!  Despite all odds, the early Church took off and spread throughout the world because of their witness to the risen Christ and their  service in his name.  And even that took a lot of figuring out and discerning just how God was moving in their lives.  That we follow along with the Acts of the Apostles is not so much a history lesson but a chance for ourselves to follow them as they began to understand for themselves just how the resurrection changed and transformed their lives forever! 

This deepening of our experience has a fancy name in the Church: Mystagogy – the pondering and living out of the mysteries of faith as well as of those sacraments in which we encounter Jesus.  Right now, Mystagogy is one of the most important things we can do, because Easter is not merely an end (of Lent, of death, etc.), but a beginning of something new.  God has indeed done great things and has an awesome plan for your life that will fill you with joy!  It’s important that we take stock of these things for ourselves: how has God appeared to me in my life?  In this liturgical season?  In this past week?  Right now?  Where is God leading, that I may follow?  What is the life that God has opened up for me?  May we, like the apostles before us, come to know for ourselves that Easter joy and always witness to that by the way we live.

Like the apostles who leave us their example of coming to know God in a deeper way, so too we have the lives of the saints who have continued to plumb the depths of God’s love.  Among whom is St. Faustina, who received the vision of Divine Mercy, which is on display in our Church and Chapel.  Owing to her experience of Jesus’ grace, today is Divine Mercy Sunday throughout the world.  This presents for us a wonderful opportunity for us to contemplate God’s merciful love towards us, to pray out of that, and to imitate God’s mercy ourselves.  Where would the world be without it?  Consider praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet     today, either by yourself or with the community.  Moreover, the Divine Mercy chaplet is prayed after weekday Mass.  And the invitation is open as well to come to the sacrament of Reconciliation to experience that mercy for yourself.

Lastly, I want to take a moment here, once again, to thank everyone who helped make the Holy Week and Easter Triduum celebrations so meaningful and special for our parish community: the planners, the decorators, the musicians, the lectors, the ushers, the Eucharistic  ministers, the clergy… and many more.  A thank you to all who participated and joined us!  And all praise to God who is the reason for the season, and who continuously supplies his grace to us – Thank you Lord! 

Peace,

Fr. Luke