Weekly Clergy Devotions
Posted: Sunday, November 8, 2019
Death is a Teacher
As we are approaching to the end of the liturgical year and today’s readings are about death, dying, life, and living. As today’s readings teach us, death is not only about dying. Death is also about how we live now.
In the first reading we heard about the martyrdom of the seven Maccabees brother is a frightful story. Yet, within the dreadfulness emerged beliefs that help is to develop the art of dying well. More than anything else, this reading tells us that in order to die well we must live well. The story of the martyrdom of the seven brothers and their mother reveals their conviction, their faith in each other, their fidelity, and their undaunted devotion to God. For those who live this way, death is not something to be feared. Preparation for death is not something we do in the later years of our life. Indeed, the art of dying well is to live well today. Therefore, today and also this week, each one of us should ask ourselves these questions: Am I at peace with life at this moment? And am I living well today so that I can welcome death tomorrow?
So dear brothers and sisters, every time that we participate in the Holy Mass, heaven and earth come together. It is a celebration of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, and it is also a foreshadow of our life with God in heaven. Let us celebrate both of these this today.
Fr. Dominic Toan Tran
Posted: Sunday, November 3 , 2019
The 2nd reading beautifully reminds us not to “to be alarmed… by an oral statement.” One statement I know which can cause alarm in many (myself included) is, “Purgatory.” Purgatory is not a bad thing, but a great thing, because it is one way to help insure God’s longing that everyone spend eternity with Him and all the other citizens of Heaven (Ezekiel 18:23). The month of November (not just All Souls Day, November 2) is the month the Church makes an extra effort to remember all of the deceased. The Church teaches that if one passes away already forgiven from mortal sin (but still has some attachment to some sin in some way), the soul is not able to immediately begin fully enjoying the happiness of the eternal banquet of Heaven but must first be “purified” of whatever attachment is still holding them back. The Church also teaches that our prayers help those not yet in Heaven in the best, and most direct way. To put it plainly, we are reminded, especially this month, to pray for all our departed loved ones, “just in case.”
Yet the related reminder I wish to express is that there is so much that can be done, now, while living, to help everyone get to Heaven as quickly as possible (also echoed throughout Church teaching). It’s beautiful to see someone who was away from the Church for decades receive the anointing at the last moments of life. However, Jesus longs for us to accept his help today. To free ourselves from what’s holding us back through the sacraments (including reconciliation when needed), to trustingly turn to Jesus throughout our days, to love all we come in contact with (even those who drive us crazy). All of this brings us closer and closer to God and Heaven!
In a time when fewer funerals, memorial Masses and cemetery visits are made, this can be our perfect opportunity to renew our commitment to be sure everyone is remembered– so that everyone (including ourselves) gets to Heaven as soon as possible (because the sooner the deceased enter Heaven, the sooner they can start praying face-to-face with God for us in their gratitude for us helping get them into Heaven!).
Fr. Martin Dunne III
Posted: October 20, 2019
We Really Need To Keep On Fighting.
Dear brothers and sisters, have you ever found yourself under attack by an enemy of some kind? How do you react?
Do you run away or do you fight back or do you just give in?
Sometimes, when we are under attack, it’s wise to give in, but at other times, we just really need to keep on fighting. This is true in the spiritual life as well. In our readings today, we find people under attack, and in each case, those people do not to give in but they keep on fighting back. In the first reading, after escaping from slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel reach a place called Rephidim. Here they are attached by a race known as the Amalekites. And the people of Israel react by going to war, they do not give in; they fight back.
In the second reading, St. Paul tells Timothy never to give up, but to keep fighting the good fight. And in the Gospel parable, we find a poor widow suffering injustice of some kind, caused by the attacks of an unnamed enemy. Even though she seems helpless, but the widow does not give in. She keeps fighting back by pestering a judge until he finally agrees to help her.
In life, we often undergo attacks from enemies that we need simply to ignore or even to accept but there are other times that we have to keep fighting against. Enemies that threaten our life as Christian, enemies that are stronger than us, we would be powerless. But thankfully, we have been given in an effective weapon that has already won for us the victory. It is this weapon and this same victory that we are celebrating every time we go to Mass. It is this weapon and this victory that we all have received a mission to proclaim to our community and the world. As we celebrate World Mission Sunday, let’s keep on fighting and do not be afraid of Christ and His Church, for there we find the treasure that fills life with joy.
Fr. Dominic Toan Tran
Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2019
In the story of the ten lepers form the Gospel of Luke we actually see everyone in the story doing the right thing. The lepers stood at a distance from Jesus and His company, just as the law commands them to do, as they call out for Him to heal them. Jesus responds simply and directly telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, this is also prescribed in the law, when a leper is healed they must present themselves before a priest to have the healing verified and be declared clean. The nine lepers obeyed Jesus and the law by going to the priest to be declared clean. The one leper who returned to Jesus, praising God loudly for his healing also did what was right for he, being a Samaritan, would have no business with the Jewish priest, so he did the right thing in returning to thank Jesus and praise God. Let us also be thankful to our Lord who provides so many good things for us, let us glorify His name with praise and thankfulness.
Deacon Bill Watzek
Posted: Sunday, October 6, 2019
The 2nd reading beautifully reminds us to, “stir into flame the gift of God.” In order to always be sure I am doing just that, in order to insure I always strive to be the best I can be, for God and for you, Canon Law of the Catholic Church (#276) recognizes the importance (to the point of the mandating) of priests to attend regular spiritual retreats. Here, in the Diocese of Palm Beach, priests are strongly encouraged to take annual retreats. I want to ask your prayers as I begin, tomorrow, my annual spiritual retreat.
For the next five days I will be at Our Lady of Florida Retreat House in North Palm Beach. Priests are free to choose retreat houses anywhere, but since my first substantial retreat taken back in the ‘90’s (and many beautiful times since) I feel a special connection with God at this most beautiful place. The chapels, the grounds, the friendliness of the staff and priests—everything fosters an environment which minimizes distractions to maximize the openness of the channel between myself and God. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly encourage a visit. They have retreats, masses, and other special occasions throughout the year!
I should have taken this annual retreat earlier in the year, but I’m very happy to be taking it now. Regardless of vocation, everyone is invited to take as many opportunities as possible throughout life (if not annually) to get away from the busyness of life and focus, for at least a few days, on the most-important relationship anyone can have—our relationship with God. If our relationship with God is at its best (during retreats and all other times), our relationships with everyone else will be at their best. I cannot thank you enough for all of your prayers and support during this most important time!
Fr. Martin Dunne III