Weekly Clergy Devotions

 

Divine Mercy

Usually I try to go deeper but today I’m not supposed to.  I don’t have to go deep, but simply celebrate!  Not only are we still celebrating Easter Sunday, but in a very real way, I consider Divine Mercy Sunday the greatest celebration of the whole year!  There are many reasons for this, but I’ll just focus on two today!

First, it’s the day we know we can all receive the “clean slate.”  Decreed by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002, the most special grace promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday is nothing less than the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul: “complete forgiveness (remission) of sins and punishment.” The most special grace promised by our Lord for Mercy Sunday is nothing less than the equivalent of a complete renewal of baptismal grace in the soul: “complete forgiveness (remission) of sins and punishment.”

 The plenary indulgence is granted (under the usual conditions of a sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and a prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, recite the Our Father and the Creed [which we say in Mass anyway!], and also adding a devout prayer (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!).

Second, and even more importantly, God’s offer of mercy is precisely why today is meant to be a celebration of God Himself just how much God loves us!  The Easter Season is the celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death in his Cross and Resurrection—which God did out of our infinite love of us!  If we could simply always remember this vastness of God’s mercy and love for each of us, we can rest assured we are always striving to remain in the richness of that love!  Happy, and Blessed, Divine Mercy Sunday!

 Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

Why Palms?

In many special events or celebrations, signs and symbols as well as the manifestations of joy and happiness represent the people’s feelings. For example, some of those signs or symbols depending to the occasion or celebration such as a flag on a shirt of your favorite team or institution, or perhaps a song, an anthem or parade etc, Make possible people’s expressions or desires. Again these signs and symbols contain a message which represent a tribute, admiration or to honor a nation, institution or leaders and representatives.

My friends, today we celebrate Palm Sunday and although we all know that the palms are not at all the center of the gospel message; those are some signs and symbols that will lead us to Christ who should be the center of our lives par excellence. In this order of ideas, we must keep in mind that, “Holy Week is ordered to the commemoration of Christ’s Passion, beginning with his Messianic entrance into Jerusalem.” This entrance to Jerusalem was marked by the acclamation of a people who cheered hosanna, hosanna! Wearing palms branches and they robes recognized Jesus as the king who will free them from all oppression and slavery. Let us then see in advance what the palm branches and the song of Hosanna represent in the context of the approaching Holy Week.

The Palms: are symbols of victory. When found in the catacombs it marked a martyr’s grave. It is also the emblem of many saints who suffered in the Roman persecutions. In depicting the Last Judgment, it is the symbol of final triumph, “after this I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could count from every nation and race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and the Lamb, dressed in long white robes and hold palm branches in the hands” Apocalypse 7-9. Palms marked Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (Long white robes…palm branches: symbols of joy and victory) During this Holy Week we could allow Jesus to enter in our lives, receiving him with a heart willing to love, forgiveness and peace. The Glory of the resurrection will come to you and to me. Let us walk together in these holy days towards the victory of Christ our Lord, who will give his life for love of humanity, for you and for me.

Hosanna:In time, the term came to be used as a form of exultant greeting and acclaim, as in Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Hosanna is a word that means “save, we ask, grant your salvation” an invocation of Yahweh, “O Lord, grant salvation! O Lord, grant prosperity” (Ps 118:25) the word was employed in later Jewish liturgy, especially at the Pentecost. It was probably used to signify the recognition of Jesus’ royal messianic dignity. However! What can we learn from this Palm Sunday and these two signs?

The whole point is an invitation to meet the Lord of life, the king of kings. This Invitation encourages us to seek Him and allow Him to enter our lives as our lord, placing all our anguishes and needs at his feet with the determination and trust that he will help us. At the same time, these events are a call for us to reflect on our attitude when coming to the church, especially to the Eucharistic celebration, which is to seek the love of God. Here is where the universe, heaven and earth come together to give glory to the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

So let our hearts be those palms that welcome Jesus into your live today with a contrite and repentant heart. We must always remember that only He can restore us whenever we feel lost or alone. So my friends let’s go out to meet the Lord; to be able to say with joy and happiness hosanna, hosanna! the Lord has saved me. Because He promised it, therefore He will fulfill it!

Blessings.

Fr. Robinson Aza

The second reading can seem very confusing.

How can Jesus be, “made perfect” when, as God, he’s eternally perfect?This verse (“…from what he suffered…was made perfect” Hebrews 5:9) was an attempt to convey a more sobering, but unavoidable, meaning.

Yes, Jesus is eternally perfect.He is fully God.Jesus is also fully human (all things but sin, which actually keeps us all from being fully human).I remember my grade school priests saying, “At the Nativity Jesus did not cry from the manger, ‘Ga-Ga I’m God!’”More specifically, Luke 2:52 acknowledged, “Jesus advanced [in] wisdom.”

This reading shocked and flew in the face of the sensibilities of the ancient audience, who was conditioned to think that suffering was only as a result of something bad.I know most (myself included) still struggle with this today.

Arguably the greatest wisdom is anyone can gain is that wisdom is gained through suffering.I loved the motto of my high school track team:“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”The deepest, most-important, most-pivotal lessons I gained came from the most excruciatingly painful experiences of my entire life.All of them.I can’t dare explain why it has to be this way, other than reminding that we still live in a broken world still waiting to be fully restored by Christ’s return.But in the meantime … when (not if … maybe it’s happening now), the next painful chapter of your life occurs, please strive to embrace it as your greatest opportunity to grow in wisdom … which is most especially our greatest opportunity to grow closer to God.

Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

Heroes in a Time of Pandemic

Many times when we talk about heroes or think of one of them, the first impression is what Hollywood has left engraved in our mind. Those who are big, strong men and women who have no fear anything are heroes willing to save and protect lives. They free people from the influence of evil.

Today my friends I do not want to disappoint you in regard of your image of anything your favorite heroes; because today I will not talk about those heroes that Hollywood produces for commercial purposes. Briefly, I want to mention two other types of real heroes. The first ones we call first responders among many. A first responder is a person with specialized training who is among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency, such as an accident, natural disasters, or terrorism. First responders typically include law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMT’s and firefighters. In some areas, emergency department personnel are also required to respond to disasters and critical situations. They are designating them first responders. To them our gratitude and appreciation for their work and mission in helping us and assisting us.

The other groups of heroes are the heroes of faith. The baptized, those who have made the decision to follow Christ, fulfilling the sacraments and the teachings of the Church. They with their testimony of life make possible the construction of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. They are our brothers and sisters thirsty for God and practicing peace, love and charity. The example of these heroes of faith has led others to join the evangelizing mission of Christ. To them today I want to make a special recognition and ask for your prayers for them and their families.

These new heroes are in their training process. They are a group of ten people including between men and women who have taken the courage to follow Christ and be part of the great Catholic family. I am talking about our catechumens and candidates for the RCIA program. These brothers and sisters of our community have already been chosen and accepted to complete their formation process in Catholicism. Very soon at the Easter vigil, they will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation. At the same time to all our children and young people who are in the religious education program, which together with their parents company in their formation every week, are making it possible for the good news of Christ to reach all men and women of good will. They are walking towards the sacrament of the Eucharist and confirmation.

These new groups of heroes despite the current circumstances of Covi 19 are making a difference. They remain faithful in their preparation and committed every week by the Zoom platform. We thank them and all the group of catechists and volunteers in the name of Jesus for saying yes to the Lord, for his courage and disposition. Let us remember the words of the gospel:

“It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.” John15, 16

Fraternally in Jesus Christ.

Fr. Robinson Aza

2nd Sunday of Lent

When first reflecting on the 1st reading all I could sense was awkwardness.I imagined Abraham and Isaac returning from Moriah in the most-awkward silence, suddenly broken by an overwhelmingly-exasperated Isaac suddenly exclaiming, “DAD!!!!You were REALLY about to kill me!How could you even think of that for one moment?!”

I would later try to mitigate this passage by thinking to myself, “maybe Abraham snuck in a sedative which knocked-out his son through this whole ordeal so he wouldn’t even know that Abraham was planning to kill him!”

But in spite of my imagination, the reality is that this passage is not meant to be watered-down at all.The 1st reading describes the most radical, perfect, trust Abraham, and Isaac, showed towards God, a beautiful foreshadowing of the most-radical trust shown by Jesus towards His Heavenly Father from the crucifixion which was originally seen as only absolute, complete, and total defeat, loss, and humiliation. This is a trust verbally expressed by Abraham to his beloved son as he was no-doubt suffering great internal anguish while approaching Moriah, “God will provide (Gen 22:8).”

I believe this passage is challenging us to make sure we’re not watering-down anything in our lives.We’re not downplaying the, “small” weaknesses which are actually causing great damage to ourselves and our relationships with God and others.We’re not spinning the call to radically give of ourselves completely … holding nothing back.We’re not doubting that each difficult moment is our truly greatest opportunity to love and trust that God will be with us, radically offering us more than we could ever imagine—now & forever!Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

The Excellence of the Gift of Love.

In this reflection, I want to begin with the words from the first Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God”… “Just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” These words basically invite us to imitate the love of Christ in everything we do for the good of those we love and at the same time, it is an invitation to not seek our own benefit but the benefit of others. When we practice and live this it is when we find true happiness.

The follow reflection is very appropriate today as many celebrate Valentine’s Day. Although my intention is not to speak properly of the commercial meaning of this day etc., I want to share with you a message of love. But from the Christian’s perspective; even more so when we speak of love for family, friends, community and love of God. The question that arises is what does this mean for us in days like today?

Perhaps on dates like this -Valentine’s Day- many people make an effort to find the best chocolate, the best flowers, the best restaurant or perhaps, the best diamond to give to a loved one. There is nothing wrong when we want to express in some way to those whom we love or appreciate, a gesture of affection with a particular gift. But let’s consider for a moment that perhaps the best gift would be to give ourselves an authentic
relationship; particularly today where the world seems to be divided not only by the circumstances of the Covid, but by the indifference to recognize that God’s love is present in each one of us. Sometimes we resist smiling, giving generously, forgiving, helping each other and even more, not respecting our differences.

Therefore, our call consists in recognizing us to be imitators of Christ. We must seek the benefit of the others who we love, as Jesus did, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. There is no greater love tan this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” John 15, 12-13.
Also, in Corinthians we can find the meaning of the excellence of the gift of love and here are just some verses from 1 Corinthians, which will help us understand the value of love:

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and with full knowledge, comprehend all mysteries, if I have a faith great enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. 5 Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. 6 Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. 13 There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.In short true happiness consists in loving in the way that Christ loves us. Happy Valentine’s Day in Jesus Christ.

Fr. Robinson Aza

The 2nd reading, as do all the Pauline letters, contains deep, powerful, yet practical wisdom in living the Gospel.  Paul acknowledges that the path to receiving the graces of the gospel requires preaching the gospel.  Preaching the gospel requires living the gospel.  Paul longs for all to accept
this reality.  

Throughout the last 2 millennia he and the other Saints have acknowledged that living the gospel is not so often in these grandiose acts, but in daily compassionate acts of faithfulness amidst the challenges of daily life.  

Lent is little over a week away but I argue the best way to approach Lent is by asking how we can more consistently live the gospel in our daily lives.  We all have our Lenten practices (“giving-up chocolate” seems to remain a most popular one).  But I question if this popular practice is really making the most of this season of Lent.  Year after year, we “give-up” something, and then on Easter Sunday everything returns to the exactly way it was before Lent began.  On Easter Sunday we’re the exact same person we were on Ash Wednesday.  If that’s what Lent is, then what’s the point?  An exercise in will power?  Diet time?  Bragging rights?  Before Lent begins, I’m trying to remind myself that our motivation for our engagement with the Lenten season is to give an extra effort (to the effort we should be striving for every day of the year anyway) to draw closer to God!  St. Paul hopes that everything we do is for the glory of God!  We are called to make sure we truly recognize God as the main, central priority in life, to recognize how that is the key to having the best possible relationships with all around us.

So with that in mind, how will you prepare to approach Lent 2021?

                                                                                                                                Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

Teach Me Your Ways, O Lord

My friends, today I want to extend to you the invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The invitation consists for us to be prepared at all times, especially in those aspects of our faith and our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters. It is a message of hope and trust in God. Although the readings tell us what will happen at the end of time, it does not mean that we have to live in fear or uncertainty. Let me share something with you. A few days ago I visited someone who requested the sacrament of holy anointing and that person said, “Father, I am a person who practices and lives the teachings of the Church and I have a lot of respect for our God, but I feel that at my age, I should be ready before the Lord calls me into heaven. I don’t know what will happen in my life, especially in these times where many things are not clear in this world. I just want to be at peace and ready. Isn’t that so Father?” So it is daughter, I answered. For me, my friends, as a priest of the Lord, that was a great testimony of faith; a testimony of a person, who wants to be ready, who has the desire to be at peace with God and with neighbors, a person who does not want to postpone the things of God, and leave things to another day before it could be too late.

My friends,I shared this with you because today we heard in the first reading of the prophet Jonah, that God gives Jonah a mission, “Set out for the great city of Nineveh and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”… “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” Wow, it sounds terrible But, “when the people of Nineveh believed God, they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” Yes my friends, when we seek God and beg for his help, God hears us. Here the key consists of having our heart ready and open to his love and mercy. We must keep in mind that we learn all this in the Church, from the word of God, practicing acts of charity and living the sacraments.

In this New Year 2021, and particularlyin this liturgical season of ordinary time, may we continuereviewing our actions, especially, because very soon we will begin the season of Lent where the Easter mysteries bring us closer to the promises of salvation for you, for me and for the world. We can desire Jesus Christ, Prince and Lord of peace and all consolation in our lives. Then we can say, I’m ready and I want to be at peace with God and with my brothers and sisters, here and now.

Blessings to all in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. Your friend and priest.

Fr. Robinson Aza

The 2nd reading, as do all the Pauline letters, contains deep and powerful wisdom.For example, imagine how radically things would change if people truly accepted the reality he observes: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you[?]”In today’s reading Paul reminds us of this as a deterrent from sinning.While this is very true, and very powerful (I can’t imagine we could sin if we truly recognized the reality of God was with us each moment!), I see a far deeper meaning, a meaning echoed throughout Scripture, including directly from Jesus Himself![“…do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit.” (Mt 10:19-20)]

Please allow this simple message to sink-in more deeply.Because God is always with us, we can do far more amazing things than we could ever imagine.And the urgency to allow God to work amazing things through us has never been greater!People need to recognize God is the only source of the fulfillment they are longing to have.They need to realize the tremendous harm of seeking that fulfillment anywhere else.They need your joy, your courage, your conviction, and your faithfulness to make this happen!

Fr. Martin Dunne III

The Epiphany of the Lord B

Much like the magi we are also searchers of Christ.From our youth we are taught of this God come down to Earth as a man, being born to a virgin and raised by a carpenter.We would like to know everything we can about this person of a Trinitarian God who became one of his own creatures.In our searching for Christ we, just like the wise men are guided, not by a star but that third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit guides us, “in spirit and truth” to encounters with Jesus, through scripture, through our prayer life and especially through the sacraments.These encounters build one upon another enriching us in our lives bringing us closer and closer to the one that we seek, and then hopefully one day, will bring us to the final encounter with Christ in our heavenly home.

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

God Keeps His Promises

I once heard it said never to promise something without being certain of what you are going to deliver. Perhaps that statement from the human condition is true. Sometimes we promise people things that we never fulfill, because our wishes and aspirations are limited and conditioned. But with God, that does not happen since God always keeps his promises.

Today we are celebrating The Epiphany of the Lord, and I want to invite you to meditate in God’s promises as John indicates in his Gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” John 3;16. Here our God overflows all his love to the universe, in this mystery of faith. He decides to come closer to us and become one of us revealing him to you and to me. The term Epiphany, comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation” of God through Christ to the whole world it is symbolized by the Three Magi from the East. These three men represent ourselves, the people of God who have been waiting for the Kings of Kings, Jesus. So we as the Magi came to this sacred place, to give thanks to God for such a gift in the person of Christ, full God and full human.

Friends the message is an invitation to accept, to receive and to love our God in this new year more than ever.This is a universal call to the ultimate truth. A truth that does not have any expiration day, because by him all the nations will be blessed. Let’s ask and approach our God of love for his compassion and mercy that this 2021 comes full of faith and hope to overcome the uncertainties we lived during the year of 2020.

I invite you to believe and trust again. We cannot live in despair. Therefore, let’s offer the best of our hearts as people of God to the King of the Universe, for two reasons: the first because God always keeps his promises and the second because God never rejects a contrite heart. A better resolution for the New Year than this could not exist.

Your friend and priest in Christ.

Fr. Robinson Aza

 

The Gospel on January 1st has one of the most beautiful verses in all Scripture: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:16). She was the closest witness to the greatest events of all time, from the Annunciation that she would become the Mother of God to the Resurrection following the Passion of her Son—and everything in-between!

There are two main reasons why I believe Mary kept all these things in her heart. First she recognized there was always, “more than meets the eye.” Too often we do not recognize the deeper meaning of words and experiences. Seemingly bad or neutral events are dismissed even though they were are actually good occasions (A gesture of “tough love” which brings about a life-saving conversion or the hundreds of seemingly-unnoticed gestures of love parents give in raising their children right are just some examples). Sometimes even obviously-good events may not be as deeply appreciated as they can be—and appreciation is the key to the second reason Mary chose to reflect on everything in her heart!

The profound, and often joyful, memories are largely meant to sustain us through all the other moments of life. We have heard several gospels in recent days on the events surrounding the Nativity of Christ, and they likely helped Mary through all the challenges she would face over the rest of her life. Sometimes the meanings behind our memories aren’t realized for years—but recognizing their value for getting through the challenging moments can be of priceless value! Please don’t hesitate in going into your reservoir of good memories, they can add great consolation and even joy to even the worst or most routine days!

Yet just as important as appreciating the memories is, please remember to appreciate the people behind the good memories! If these people are no longer with us in this life, we can show our appreciation by remembering them, thanking God for them, and honoring their inspiring legacy by living the best way we can. If they are still with us, we can show our appreciation for them by (still) thanking God for them and taking each and every opportunity to express our appreciation to them in both words and actions! Try to surprise them in sending unexpected note or extend some other gesture that they weren’t expecting. And as long as the appreciation is genuine, don’t worry about if you’re overdoing it—you can’t!

My favorite quote attributed to St. Therese of the Little Flower is, “memories are the roses in the winters of our lives.” Expressing our appreciation of those God placed in our lives is an expression of our appreciation to God for all their related memories. As you celebrate the New Year, what memories of the past will sustain you through the opportunities of the future?

Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

We Have a Special Guest.

My brothers and sisters perhaps many of us have had the opportunity to celebrate a special occasion. For example: the birth of a baby, an anniversary, a graduation ceremony, a marriage etc. Or perhaps we are waiting for the visit of someone we love very much or maybe we have not seen them for a long time. Then we are filled with joy and begin to make some preparations, to receive that special guest, that special visit. Some of those preparations are making a list of those things that we should buy to prepare a delicious dinner. Then we look for the best recipe to please the guests. After that, we organize and clean the house to insure that everything looks perfect. So, when the day comes and the expected person is in your home, there is only one word that could describe that moment and that word is joy. Yes, joy because we are glad to have our special guest in our home.

Friends, when there is joy in our being, all kinds of anguish disappear. Keep this in mind because in a week, very soon, someone who is super special will visit us. That person is God. He wants to visit your home, your life and bring to you that joy that only he can give and no one can take it away from you. The question is: are you ready that the God of life dwells in your life? Know my friends that he does not want to spend just a season in you. He wants to dwell in your life and transform your whole being.

Now, speaking of preparations, this weekend’s readings tell us how to be prepared for the arrival of the Savior of the world. For example, in the first reading of Isaiah, he presents to us how the people of Israel were visited by the Lord, after his captivity, bringing them healing, liberation and restoration, peace in the midst of all anguish, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a rope of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.” In the Psalm we can see how Mary’s joy invades her whole being, “My soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians invites us to always be in prayer, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks”. Finally in the Gospel we are called to be light and testimony for many. John knew that he was not the light; he knew that the light of the world is Jesus, the Lamb of God.

My friends, that all the preparations in this coming Christmas are not just decorations and beautiful lights. May it be the love of Christ and the joy of acknowledging that He is who wants to dwell eternally in you. Let’s sayour response to this special guest, Jesus our Lord, could be like Mary’s response,” The Almighty has done great things for me.”

Also, let us prepare ourselves to joyfully welcome into our homes, our special guest Jesus, who is the light of the world and may the joy he brings us last in our lives; giving thanks to God in all circumstances.

Your friend and priest.
Fr. Robinson Aza

Today’s first reading mandates, “Comfort, give comfort to my people” (Is 40:1).But with weeks until Christmas it can seem that even thinking of comfort is absurd!If our lives weren’t already extremely busy, this time of the year (& what a year!) can seem even more overwhelming than any other.So many pressures which seem to make comfort all but impossible!

But this Advent season beautifully attempts to remind us that we are to be at peace as we remember the big picture—not only that Jesus already came as a baby two millennia ago to forever free us from sin, but that he will return one day to make everything right, to restore us all completely, to take away anything that causes pain and to bring us to ultimate and eternal fulfillment with him and our loved ones!Advent is our season dedicated to reminding ourselves of this reality.It may sound counterintuitive with this being “the busiest time of the year,” but our greatest & most important priority this Advent season is setting time aside.For random acts of charity towards those in need (for example as many of you have most-generously done for the Angel Tree), for (dare I say it?) periods of rest, for prayer, for silent reflection, and for conversation with God (which will help us to remember that although we have many responsibilities and expectations, they can never ever outweigh the reality that God remains with us every step of the way, will continue to give us what we need, and will continue to offer his infinite love to us).This is not a false comfort that attempts to avoid our responsibilities, but a true comfort which allows us to fulfill our responsibilities.

The more we can remember this the more we can keep our perspective.The more we keep our perspective the more we will stay calm in spite of the many demands on our time and external threats to our peace.The more we can calm down, the more we’ll feel an internal comfort that neither anything, nor anyone, can remove, a calm which will help us through all the extra (and “regular”) activities we have on our undeniably packed schedules.We will find a deeper comfort in many other places too: the embrace of a loved one, the beauty of our church, the excitement on a child’s face.And the greater comfort we feel, the more we will be able to (in spite of whatever little shopping time there is) enjoy the greatest blessings of Christmas—Our Savior, our loved ones, our calling to do what we can to remind others of the ultimate meaning of our existence—doing all we can in gratitude for all God’s given us—most especially the salvation won by Jesus Christ from his love for us!

Fr. Martin Dunne III

1st Sunday of Advent

As we enter the season of Advent we have a Gospel that tells us to “Be watchful! Be alert!”Be ready because “you do not know when the lord of the house is coming.”This passage has been often interpreted as referring to “the end times” the end of creation when Christ returns as he has promised.The question is did Jesus mean to have every generation that followed in fear that the fire will rain down from heaven to destroy them at any moment?It would make more sense that Jesus meant to give us an instruction, not to live in fear of the end of the world but that we should be personally, spiritually prepared for our own end time.

We all know that we will die, the problem is that we do not know when.If we neglect the state of our souls and do not have ourselves prepared for our eternal life we are not being watchful or alert.This life that God has so generously given us is meant to prepare us for the rest of our lives, after our death.We have a choice, we can use this time for fleeting earthly pleasures or we can mold our lives to the will of our Creator and enjoy eternity with Him as He desires.A great time to work on this conformation is the season of Advent.We can make this time, these 4 short weeks, a time of preparation.We can make time for prayer, regularly scheduled throughout the day, for time of reflection on our lives and what we can work at to bring ourselves closer to God’s plan for us and a time to avail ourselves to the Sacrament of Penance in order to set ourselves right with our generous and forgiving God.

So as we light the candles on our Advent wreaths let us be mindful to take God with us when we leave Church each week and stay prepared by walking with the Lord “all the days of our lives.”

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

ADVENT:Time of Preparation

My friends receive a cordial greeting from Jesus Christ our Lord. Today, I want to invite you to meditate about Advent. This is a time of preparation, a time where soon very soon, we are going to start a new liturgical year. During the Advent season, our God is still sending us his message of hope, love, joy and peace through his beloved Son. Let’s think and pray on this: Are we ready of receive Jesus in our home and heart? We must be aware that Jesus, will bring lots of gifts and blessings to you, to me and to us. Are you ready to offer something to him?

Probably, someone is thinking what to offer Jesus right now in the middle of this pandemic, where our unwanted friend Covid-19, has brought, hopelessness, sadness, uncertainties, death, sorrow, separation, and so on. As people of God, the invitation today is to not walk in sadness. We are invited to walk to Bethlehem; where the light of the world will come. Let’s open our hearts to him. Baby Jesus, our Lord and God, wants to dwell in you, in spite of our poverties. I truly believe that everybody has something to offer Jesus. Here are some examples: How about offering yourself, in the role that you are as parents, sons and daughters, students, workers, believers, etc. Offer the best of who you are to the Lord, because everyone has something to give and to receive. In this coming Advent season, the Church is extending the invitation to be ready to welcome our God of love, with faith, with joy and hope. There is no reason to falter.

During Advent let’s prepare our homes, our neighborhood, a disposition in our jobs and in our daily routine to and set place for Jesus. That is the meaning of Advent or “adventus” which means welcoming, coming and preparation. Yes, family of St. Joan of Arc, we are preparing and waiting for Christmas, to welcome Immanuel “God with us”.A God who was be born in poverty in a manger, who in his childhood was suffered persecution and who did not enjoy the comforts of a home. Maybe many of us are wishing for a lot gifts. But how about our Lord? What kind of gifts can we offer to please him? Friends, we could offer the commitment of listening more to his word and making it real in our lives. Also, we could offer a sincere conversion, offering to our beloved ones and outsiders a gesture of courtesy and compassion. Advent is the perfect time to come back to the family’s love, respecting each other’s in building bonds of brotherhood in our community of faith.

Finally, in this coming season of Advent let’s ask Mary, the blessed mother of God and our mother to take us away from the shadow of darkness and uncertainties. That through her interception, we could be close to the light of salvation Jesus Christ, who will come to dwell in us. Therefore let’s be agents and disciples of love, happiness, peace and hope for those who are close to us. We should love them as Jesus loved us. We have to believe and work so that the good times, will come back again. Not more sadness because of our past time.

My friends during the coming Advent season made hope reign in our homes. Remember that Jesus is with us; for those who fights and who wait in the Lord is not defeated. We are called to not let hope die in our homes, Church and hearts. Why? Because is the God of love who strengthens us.

Let us Pray: We thank you, heavenly father because you always hear our needs, send us your Holy Spirit and model our being to welcome your beloved Son. One day we could meet you face to face and be able to count on the Saints, Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Amen.

Your friend and priest in Christ.

Fr. Robinson Aza