Weekly Clergy Devotions

 

Friends, for the first time the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion have jointly warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on poverty and the importance of global cooperation.

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin Welby urge everyone to play their part in ‘choosing life’ for the future of the planet. Here is a summary of the full text:

In a joint statement, the Christian leaders have called on people to pray, in this Christian season of Creation, for world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. The statement reads: ‘We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behavior and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

The joint declaration strikes a clear warning — ‘Today, we are paying the price…Tomorrow could be worse’ and concludes that: ‘This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

The three Christian leaders spoke against injustice and inequality, saying: ‘We stand before a harsh justice: biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are the inevitable consequences of our actions, since we have greedily consumed more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure. But we also face a profound injustice: the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.’

The statement calls on people to:

• Pray for world leaders ahead of COP26

• For individuals: To make meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the planet, working together and taking responsibility for how we use our resources

• For those with far-reaching responsibilities: To choose people-centered profits and lead the transition to just and sustainable economies

As a people of faith, here at St. Joan of Arc, may we join our prayers and actions with all who seek ways to be responsible stewards of the earth that has been entrusted to us by our Creator-God. Our first course of action is in sharing this message with your extended family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues and other people of good will. As the statement notes: ‘This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

For the full text go to: press.vatican.va and search for the joint statement.

For more information on the United Nations COP26 go to https://ukcop26.org

Fr. Adam Forno

 

Every Mass is a Welcome Blessing

When we come to mass, something beautiful and unique takes place at that moment, and it is that God is wel-coming us and giving us his love and mercy. It happens specifically when the priest says, “The Lord be with you”. In this greeting we are invited to open the door of our heart to the Lord to receive His blessings and grace. That encounter with God in the Eucharist is as well a great opportunity to shut down doors like: Evil thoughts, unchas-tity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly (Mark 7: 21-21.) Those behaviors disturb our lives and our relationship with our creator and with our brothers and sisters. So what could we do?

In today in the book of the prophet Isaiah (50:5-9a) we can find some practical clues that will help us. By praying we can receive God’s blessing, for example: Opening our ears that we may hear his voice and message, trusting that God will come to our aid and believing that He never will put us in shame. Why? Because he is near to those who want to receive this blessing in freedom. Therefore, friends our prayers and actions this coming week after each Eucharist will be like Peter’s answers, “You are the Christ”. Christ wants to welcome you and bless you if you seek and open the door of you heart to Him. Allow Jesus to transform you here and now. Blessing in Christ our Lord.

Fr. Robinson Aza

 

On August 1st I mentioned my recent appreciation of the historical St. Joan of Arc in a homily during the Bread of Life Discourses from

John the Evangelist. I referenced Mark Twain, although not an atheist but one who railed against conventional religion with its dogmas

and traditions, who crafted a biography of Joan in novel form. Among his many books Twain claimed that his last novel, Personal Recollections

of Joan of Arc, was his most favorite book. He insisted in his own autobiography, “I wrote the book for love, not money.”

You might say Mr. Twain fell in love with Joan. I remarked I was falling in love with Joan as well.

Commenting on his massive novel, which took over a decade of research and preparation, Twain insisted, “I never attributed an act to

the Maid herself that was not strictly historical, and I never put a sentence in her mouth which she had not uttered.”

For Twain, we are told, part of Joan’s genius lies in her simple faith in God. Joan embraced God’s call against all odds. “I am enliste

d,” she says, “I will not turn back, God helping me, till the English grip is loosed from the throat of France.”

Among those odds Joan faced were incompetence, opposition and even deception from within the ranks of her own army. Even the

King, who was crowned because of her battle at Orleans, and the French clergy under English occupation betrayed Joan.

What emerges from the extensive documents of the first trial and second Rehabilitation Trial, eyewitness accounts and manuscripts is

simply this: Joan of Arc’s holiness, prophecies and visions were unmistakably due to God’s grace.

With that grace Joan spoke her mind to kings and bishops. She charged forward when her own army retreats. She gets shot by a

crossbow– but by nightfall she leads another attack. In the end, however, her enemies condemn her to death.

After being declared a heretic, yet still receiving her last Holy Communion, she knelt at her place of execution to pray for the French

k i n g. Then she uttered the words “hold the cross high so I may see it through the flames.” Then she cried out: “Jesus”.

Her love of Jesus is beautifully expressed in the 1929 silent French film “The Passion of Joan of Arc.” This film reflects Joan’s deep

love Jesus Christ most especially in the Eucharist. You can find other films depicting the patron saint of our parish on Netflix.

As I did in my homily I would like to again suggest that the simple faith of this illiterate, peasant teenager took up the sword in the

spirit of Jesus— who Bishop Robert Barron says, “(Jesus )came primarily as a warrior whose final enemy is death. He is a cosmic

warrior who has come to do battle with those forces that keep us from being fully alive. Throughout the Gospels Jesus deals with the

effects of death and a death-obsessed culture: violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion and phony community.” Sustained

by the Eucharistic Jesus, Joan not only took up the warrior’s sword for the liberation and peace of the Kingdom and Church of France

but, I believe, to combat a death-obsessed culture affecting souls. I think you may agree that this death-obsessed culture exists today.

Let me conclude with one of Joan’s reflections as I did in my homily: “Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman

gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives to little or nothing. One

life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it and then it’s gone. But to surrender who you are and to live without belief is

more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young.”

Sisters and Brothers in the Lord Jesus may each of us, like Mark Twain, “fall in love” with Joan of Arc the patroness of our parish

community. Like Joan may we never surrender our belief that we who believe in Jesus, and feed on him as the Eucharistic Bread of

Life, will never hunger nor thirst. Then fed again and again as we are may we go forth as warriors for justice and peace, as did she,

being bread for the life of our world, our church, our country and one another.

Fr. Adam Forno

22nd Sunday ordinary time B

The Gospel today speaks of cleanliness.While the Scribes and Pharisees worry about ritual washings and purification rituals, Jesus points to the truth that what matters more is what a person has within them, in their hearts, which makes them unclean.All of the rituals that the Jews were forced to perform were just outward motions with no true meaning.The matters of sinful inclinations and evil within men were of much more concern to Jesus than whether someone washed their hands before eating or not.Outward signs were merely to impress those around someone, showing them that they were good Jews and were obeying the “law.” Jesus wants us to understand that it is the things that we do to one another that is the real test of what defiles one.If we do evil to another that is the true defilement, which is what makes a person unclean.In our world today people feel free to pretty much say what they want to others without regard to the feelings or the situation of the other person. These days we speak easily and freely of each other’s issues and shortcomings due to our anonymous conversations online.I think that this makes us loose a bit of restraint that we would normally have when dealing with people face to face.This can be a kind of defilement of ourselves, hurting the feelings of others and maybe even causing issues that could be avoided.So let us take care and strive to make our communication to one another as civil and Christian as possible to avoid having hurt come out of our hearts.We should be people of restraint and love not a people of judgment.

Deacon Bill Watzek

You know that from June through November it is Hurricane Season here in Florida. During this time we live,
as do other vulnerable states, with the potential threat of having our lives upended. Clearly the COVID-19
pandemic upended our world as we collectively endured a “change” that turned our thinking inside out and upside down like a Category Five hurricane.

In Greekthis change is called “metanoia” which literally means to “change your mind.” It always involves an attitude of trust, letting go and surrender. Originating with the Hebrew prophets, the biblical idea of metanoia is that of a change of mind and heart, a full turning around, a whole new transformation of one’s consciousness more than simply going to church or following a moral code.

During our horrific pandemic we endured the necessary lock-downs,the wearing of masks, social distancing, economic and emotional consequences that we could have never imagined before the havoc occurred.Now with the threat of the virus in variant form, and with a transformed consciousness,we ought to be willing to “change our minds.”

Remember when the threat of COVID-19 first appeared in March 2020 and how the media began to report hoarding and price gouging? Then we heard in the weeks that followed the stories of everyday heroes who were selflessly sacrificing their lives for the sake of others.Crisis brings this out of us—selfishness or selflessness. Thankfully, today multitudes of these latter folks remain generous, courageous, and compassionate. We rely on them for physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. They remind us that in the process of giving what we can, and receiving what we need, we all build relationships that last.

So, it appears to me that the pandemic helped us remember and return to the reality that we are all connected to one another. We are interdependent and share the bond that makes us one family of humanity under our Creator’s providential care. As such, our responsibility to one another transcends national, racial, economic and ideological differences.

During this journey through the pandemic we have drunk from the chalice of shared sorrows and celebrated our joys.Now as we live beyond those somber days we mustcommit to the continued call of “metanoia”— to live with a new awareness.We must be willing to “change our minds” as we trust, let go and surrender.

It is an opportunity for people of good will everywhere, and in particular for we as the Catholic Community of St. Joan of Arc in Boca, to live the dream and fulfill the destiny God has for each of his creating.

Rev. Adam Forno

In the first reading, today, from the prophet Jeremiah, he speaks of the flock of Israel and those who are tending the sheep. The current shepherds have scattered the sheep and driven them away, and God says that He himself will gather the remnant of the flock. Furthermore God will return them to the land and they will once again increase and multiply and have no need for fear.In our Gospel we have the apostles coming back from being sent out by Jesus in pairs to preach the good news to the people of Israel and reporting all they had done and taught.The apostles had gone out to the lost sheep of Israel at the beckon of Jesus, God made flesh, to teach and to gather the flock.God fulfills His promise, foretold by Jeremiah in the person of Jesus who gives the flock a new message of reconciliation and love. He will guide His sheep through His apostles and the communities that they will form that will become His Church, our Church in which we reside and grow in love of God and one another.With the help of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments to strengthen us and allows us to be the people who live in the peace that Paul preaches to the people of Ephesus, the peace of residing in the flock that God has promised that He would personally tend till the end of time.

Deacon Bill Watzek

Worries Vs Blessings

One of the readings of ordinary time (Wisdom Book 1: 13-15; 2: 23-24) God speaks to us and gives us the answer, that He is not the culprit or promoter of evil, “but by the envy of the evil death entered the world and they who belong to his company experience it.”The reason why I place this point in this meditation is because sometimes, we say in our moments of anguish and worries that God is the culprit or responsible for our problems and calamities. Many times we even shout saying: Where are you God? Why do you not listen to me? Why is there so much evil and hatred in the world or why do our beloved ones have to die? Let’s see once more what the book of wisdom tells us, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being, and the creatures of the world are wholesome…God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” (Meditate on that and pray) now, I invite you to think for a few minutes about your problems and concerns; but do not dwell on them, since God, this weekend invites you to recognize the blessings you have received and that you keep receiving his love and mercy. Think about it, pray about it and live those blessings.

St. Paul tells us in the book Ephesians, in the first reading, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” This is the reason why I have titled this Reflection Worries Vs Blessings and maybe someone will say oh “padresito” (little father), We already have many problems, worries, catastrophes, difficulties and we do not want more of that. Well… “hijitos” (my little children) Let us thencontinue praying, let us then meditate only on the blessings received from God, on the gifts and talents received and let us use them for the common good. For example, how about the blessing of creation, life, family, friends, food, work, faith, church, the Eucharist and so on. The list is very, very long; now it is your turn to continue the list according to the blessings that you have. Keep living with the blessings that God continues to give you; because God is eternal, good and merciful without forgetting that you and I are his most precious creation. “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” Gen 1, 31.

Blessings.

Fr. Robinson Aza

 

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The lesson taught in the Gospel today is that faith overcomes all obstacles.We have two exam-ples of great faith in the story of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the hemorrhage.Jairus is a man of importance and wealth but his power and money are of no avail to him because they will not prevent his daughter from dying.He has obviously heard about Jesus and his ability to heal, so he seeks out Jesus and pleads to him to come and lay his hands on his dying daughter to save her life.Jairus makes this request of Jesus by coming to him and falling on his knees, pleading, most likely the first time in his life he has ever taken up such a position before anyone other than praying to God.

The other example of great faith is the woman with the hemorrhage, she is desperate as well, having been afflicted with this bleeding for twelve years and has spent all of her money on doc-tors who could not help her.She is an outcast due to the ritual uncleanliness that the bleeding causes.People must shun her because if they touch her or if she touches them they would be-come unclean as well.Due to these circumstances she is forced to a more indirect approach to the healer that she has heard about. She believes that if she can just touch the clothes of Jesus she would be cured and then try to sneak away unnoticed.

The faith of these two people in very different situations can be wonderful examples to us.No matter what type of situation you find yourself, no matter how bad things may seem to be, one can always look to God with a faith, in the knowledge of His goodness and kindness, and trust Him to give you that which is best for your eternal soul. Amen.

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

Invite Jesus On Your Summer Vacations

Summer is here and with it comes the holidays or vacations. Do you already have a good place to go? A place with a breezy, beach and sea? Do you know who you are going to visit? You already know who are you going to spend these rest days with? Today I want to share some practical texts on how to spend a good summer with the company of Jesus. I encourage you invite him to go with you or to be with you if you still don’t have a summer plans. Remember…

-The GPS, fails or do you feel lost on the road?
“Lord,” said Thomas, “ we do not know where are you going. How can we know the way, Jesus told Him, “ I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but throug me.” John 14, 5- 6.

-Do you go alone, with friends or family?
Do not forget to leave a spot for the guardian angel, invoke him,“For to his angels he has given comand about you, that they guard you in all your ways.” Psalms 91, 11.

-Did you forget to buy water or a soft drink to quench your thirst or did you get hungry on the way?
“Blest are they, who hunger and thirst for holines; they shall have their fill. Matthew 5, 6.
Jesus explain to them: “ I myself am the bread of life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall ever thirst.
John 6, 35.

-Does your family accompany you?
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves
himself.” Ephesians 5, 25- 28.“Wifes shoul be submissive to their husbands as if to the Lord, because the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of his body the Church as well as its savior.” Ephesians 5, 22-23.Children and Parents: “Children, obey your parents in the lord, for that is what is expected of you. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first commandment to carry a promise with it, that it may go well with you, and that you may have long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not anger your children. Bring them up with the training and instruction befitting the Lord.” Ephesians, 1-4.

-Do you feel tired after your vacation?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulder and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11, 28.

Finally, do not forget the advice of the Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, when you are confused or not knowing what to do.

“Do whatever He tells you.” John 2, 5. Jesus invites us to live in peace, love, respect God, our neighbors and practice acts of charity.

My friends, wherever you go, or whatever you do on your summer vacation, do not forget that you are a disciple of Jesus. Carry the joy of Christ in your heart and share it with enthusiasm. have a good summer and a happy return without forgetting,

“Give thanks to God the Father always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5, 20.

“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! Numbers 6, 24-26.

Fr. Robinson Aza

 

This weekend is a perfect opportunity to reflect on today’s Psalm 92: “Lord it is good to give thanks to you.”Even with the unprecedented difficulties, threats, and challenges of the last year and change 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 all 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 moment!For example, sometimes it takes a summer 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.Where travel is simply not possible, we can still getaway to our beautiful church 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.

Fr. Martin Dunne III

 

Corpus Christi

Christ is with us always, in everything that we do regardless if we are thinking of him or not.  But never is he closer to us than when we receive him in the Eucharist, his body, blood, soul and divinity.  As we process toward the minister of Holy Communion we should be meditating on that whish we are about to receive, giving praise to God for this special gift given to us by his Son.  We receive with reverence that which the Lord has prepared for us at the altar, through his priest, standing in the person of Christ at the consecration.  This gift which Vatican II declares is the source and summit of our worship of our Trinitarian God, pours the graces that is the gift of Holiness on his chosen people.  So as we receive the Eucharist let us say Amen with the thankfulness and joy for such a treasure that He gives us at the table of plenty!  Amen!

Deacon Bill Watzek

 

The Reality of God’s Love

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and the reality of community of love. Perhaps you have heard many times this mystery is very difficult to explain. In fact it is the main mystery for Catholics. But let me tell, it is the greatest, sublime and perfect reality of Love poured out to all mankind. The greatest theologians of the church have been questioned; the apostles themselves had a hard time believing it. And it is incredible for our mind to conceive “a single God, but in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Saint Augustine was also one who questioned himself about this mystery, an impressive story is told about him. Saint Augustine was the bishop of Hippo (now Annaba, Algeria) from 396 to 430. A renowned theologian and prolific writer, he was also a skilled preacher and rhetorician. He is one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and, in Roman Catholicism, is formally recognized as a doctor of the church.

One time, Saint Augustine was walking near a beach, meditating on the Holy Trinity and how it was possible that there were three Persons in the same and only God. In this, he meets a boy who, sitting on the sand, was trying to pass the sea water into a small hole that he had dug in the sand. Then the saint asks him: What are you doing?

To which the child responds:

– I want to put all the sea water in this hole.

– But no! That is not possible!

Then, our Good Child responds:

– Likewise … it is not possible that the great mystery of the Holy Trinity is understood by the human mind! If you understand it, it is not God. That said, the Child disappeared.

To try to understand the mystery of the Trinity is to want to do what that child intended: to put all the water of the sea in a little hole today. Our mind is so small that such a sublime mystery would not fit in our intellectual capacities. That is why the saint affirms “if we understood it, it is not God” in that God goes beyond our mental concepts, beyond what we can imagine. Many times we want to know everything and in its attempt we lose the sense of allowing ourselves to be amazed at the power of God. Maybe it is because we are immersing ourselves in the context of what is next. I want this, I have it and I discard it or I change it; forgetting that God surprises us every day with his love, gifts and blessings, “In the Church’s liturgy the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated. The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and the end of all the blessings of creation and salvation. In his Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, he fills us with his blessings. Through his Word, he pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts, the Holy Spirit.” CCC. 1082.

Let us pray to the God of life and love that he gives us, the wisdom to recognize the miracle of his love not only from an intellectual perspective, but from the integral truthfulness of the soul, mind and heart, in community, in communion but above all, in love.

Fr. Robinson Aza