Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, June 17, 2018
This weekend is a perfect opportunity to reflect on today’s Psalm 92: “Lord it is good to give thanks to you.” It is most important to thank God throughout the year and at every opportunity we get—it helps us stay grounded, gives us perspective, and helps protect us from being swept-away by the challenges of life which attempt to present themselves as greater than they actually are! If all we can give during the more frenzied busier times of our lives is a few moments of thanksgiving to God that’s very understandable, but my hope and prayer is that all of us have more frequent and more-extended opportunities to reflect on the many blessings God has offered us throughout our lifetimes—and is still offering us through this very day! For example, sometimes it takes a getaway for us to clear our minds and reflect on blessings that previously went unnoticed in our lives and how God has been present throughout it all. Sometimes, when travel is simply not possible, we can still getaway to our beautiful chapel or to a nearby place of solitude so we can be alone with God, simply say, “thank you,” and renew our commitment to express our thanks through the daily faithfulness of our lives.
Today is also Fathers Day, the perfect opportunity to express our thanks to those who were the father figures of our lives who strove as best they could to reflect the perfect love of our Heavenly Father. Whether our natural fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, godfathers, priest fathers, (living and deceased), today is the great opportunity to express our appreciation for those who strove to love and form us into being the best people we could possibly be, and to renew our commitment to becoming more and more better role models for all we encounter in our lives—all as beloved children and disciples of Christ!
– Fr. Martin Dunne, III
Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2018
A house divided against itself cannot stand, a truth that is evident to all. In whatever situation one finds themselves in, if there is discord and disharmony there will be no progress or cooperation. This is true even within one’s own self. If our actions do not correspond with what we profess to believe we are being hypocritical, the one thing that Jesus time and time again accused the scribes and Pharisees of being. We all have our bad moments, that is for certain and forgivable, however we also have those things that we do or say that we wish we could change about ourselves. We have all heard the saying, “what would Jesus do?” Well it is pretty obvious, He would be perfect. He is God after all. The critical question is “what are we going to do?” The answer to this question should be “to try.” Come to think of it we do this all of the time. We are often on “our best behavior,” when we are in church, when we are in certain company and in certain situations. Since we can be good during these times why can’t we act that way all of the time!? There was a Carmelite brother, Brother Lawrence from the early seventeenth century who wrote about The Practice of the Presence of God. In this book he describes how he tries to live his life with God being before him at all times. In living in this manner Brother Lawrence has good motivation to be at his best and to do as God would will for him. In fact we all live in the presence of God all of the time. We have had the presence of the Holy Spirit within us since our Baptism. This fact should help us to develop this mode of thinking and behaving, and allow us to become the people that God would have us be here on Earth so that we may be present with Him for eternity in Heaven.
– Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, June 3, 2018
A Faithful Friend!
A caretaker of a cemetery noticed a man praying at a certain grave each week. In the summertime he would put flowers on the grave. The caretaker asked the man one day, “Who is buried in this grave that he should deserve so much of your commitment and love?” The man replied, “This is the grave of a very dear friend of mine. In the last war he volunteered to take my place that I might stay home with my wife and my newborn son. He was sent to fight and was killed in his first battle. He was brought home and was buried here.” Then with tears in his eyes, the man continued, “Do you blame me for being so thankful to one who died that I might live?”
My dear brothers and sisters, two thousand years ago, a man volunteered to die on the cross in Jerusalem on our behalf. That man was Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah. He shed his blood for you, for me and for the world. He offered himself to the Father for our sins. He paid the price for our eternal salvation. The Church believes that the Mass is the re-presentation of Jesus’s sacrifice on Calvary. This helps us to recognize the mystery of God’s love for us in our life today. God is not being limited in time and space. For God everything is in the present. Jesus’ sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice. We however, are humans and are being limited in space and time. The sacrifice of the Mass makes present to us the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary.
Bread and wine are common things that we take for granted. If we need some bread and wine, we just go to the market and buy some. When we take time to think about how bread and wine are made before they are brought to the market, we realize that it is a painful process of being broken, crushed, heated, and fermented. This is what Jesus means when he took bread and said, “Take it; this is my..” He said this right on the night he was handed over. They arrested him, crushed him, and nailed him on the cross. That is the process to make him the bread of life.
To make wine we also have to crush and press the grapes, squeeze out all the juice. Jesus took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” He shed all his blood for us. The shedding of his blood is the seal of his covenantal love for us. He gives us his committed and undivided love. Jesus set an example for us. He gave us his life. He also challenges us to give. We receive the Holy Eucharist as a gift. We also learn to give ourselves to God and to others.
– Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran
Posted: Sunday, May 27, 2018
Trinity Sunday. The 1st reading is a fitting one for the close of the academic year later this week, as Moses is trying to remind the people of all of the great things God has done for them!
Like many years, it’s been one full of unimaginable tragedies and challenges, most notably surrounding the events just a few miles down the street in Parkland. Although we can never forget either those events or our resolve to prevent a tragedy like that ever repeating itself, there have also been an abundance of signs of the great things God has done for us to insure all we do remains a declaration of our call for true light, happiness and peace. For example through the school and religious education program here at St. Joan of Arc the next generation of disciples is being prepared to do their part to give hope and offer God’s peace through the example of their lives! Yes, so many children and teens were given the academic formation which will help them become successful in providing for themselves, their future families and others. Yet more importantly they have been given a strong spiritual formation so they can cling to the peace of God through any challenge. Through the love and dedication of teachers, parents, volunteers, and ministers of so many outstanding programs here in the parish they have hopefully recognized that they are deeply loved by the God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is love (1 John 4:8). Yet hopefully they realize that from this love they are invited to always share, rely-upon, and grow deeper in this love of God, which is most-frequently displayed through the love of others. I pray they always realize that God wishes to help them in every way throughout life—including through the blessings always offered here, year-round, in the celebration of the Eucharist each and every Sunday!
While it’s great to recall the many great blessings from God, it is greater to remember the best way to express our gratitude is by using our blessings in the best way possible—simply striving to love as best we can! Although formal classes end in a few days, the opportunities to draw closer to the love of God never end—regardless of whether your school days ended years before! The more we persevere, while always remaining reliant on God’s help, in our acts of gentle and patient love in daily life, the more we will grow in God’s love, the more we will notice the many blessings of God’s love throughout our lives, and the more we will become God’s blessings for others in the most unexpected ways—not just during the comparatively slower summer months, but always!
– Fr. Martin Dunne, III
Posted: Sunday May 20, 2018
We, the body of Christ, all have a part in the plan that God has for His Church. As Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” God leaves it up to us to discern what our gifts are and how to use them for the greater honor and glory of God. Some have beautiful voices and use that talent in the choir to enhance the quality of the liturgy. Others may have a compassion for the poor so they help in the Care Ministry and hand out food bags to the less fortunate. Still others may be good with people skills so they become Ministers of Hospitality. Whatever abilities that you have received from God it is your responsibility to engage your talents in a way that will bring others the joy of the Gospel and in doing so bring them closer to God.
On this feast of Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the Church when the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and took the Gospel into the streets. At our Baptism we also received the Holy Spirit, may we let him work within us to be agents of the Gospel as we share the good news by what we say and what we do in our lives.
– Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2018
When are you going to start?
Dear brothers and sisters, as we move from one stage of life to another we are required at some point to let go of past ways and move on adopting newer ways of life. For example, as infants we had to be carried and fed, as children we had to hold our parents hands as we moved about. As teenagers we tended to be independent and yet we needed guidance and help sometimes. As adults we believe we can manage on our own. Nevertheless in our faith relationship we always need God and cannot manage without Him. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord; we are given a new presence of God within us.
The first reading begins with the first chapter of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, that links the birth of the Church to the moment Jesus is taken up to heaven, reminding us that the Church itself is the new presence of Jesus in our midst. Indeed, the disciples believe that they can manage by themselves relying on their own resources, they are ordered not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. For us who are used to plan and action, one of the most difficult things is to wait for God to act. If we look at our own experiences, we are always making plans for ourselves and for how God should act in our lives. We even sometimes set deadlines for when God should act in our lives. Our plans usually spin around like: “I”, “me”, and “myself” while God still has more wonderful plans which will unfold if we wait on Him.
In the Gospel we have Jesus bidding farewell to His disciples. He makes them understand the recent happenings and how they fit into the Father’s plan. He opened their minds to understand the scriptures and told them to go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to every creature. He told us that the Holy Spirit comes to give us the gift of understanding. The Word of God comes alive and makes sense when we can see how it connects to our life, when we see that it all fits in. However in order to understand we have to stay until we are filled, renewed by the Holy Spirit. Stay here in Jerusalem, in the Church, in your prayer until you are clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We may have wonderful ideas and plenty of experience and feel that we can manage with what we have. But if we are ready to wait, if we are ready to surrender to the Holy Spirit, something still more wonderful vwill happen in our life. The Gospel concludes with Jesus being taken up into heaven, He withdrew from His disciples sight and took His seat at the right hand of God. His mission was accomplished, now the mission of His disciples was about to begin. You and I are his disciples. Have you ever started the mission of Jesus by proclaiming the Gospel, by praying, serving, helping and loving your brothers and sisters yet? If you haven’t started, when are you going to start?
– Fr. Dominic Toan-Tran