Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mar. 31, 2016: Easter Thursday

Mar. 31, 2016: Easter Thursday

The Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem

The renowned artist Paul Gustave Dore (1821-1883) lost his passport while travelling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not.

Dore insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. “All right,” said the official, “we’ll give you a test, and if you pass it we’ll allow you to go through.” Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His work confirmed his word! (From Our Daily Bread, January 6, 1993)

In today gospel passage, Jesus appears to His eleven apostles and wants to reassure them at great lengths that He is not a ghost. He emphasizes His bodily resurrection. He asks them to “look” at His wounds, to “touch” Him and finally, like a final proof of his being truly risen, He asks them for something to eat. He explains how the scriptures foretold His death and rising. St. Jerome comments: “As he showed them real hands and a real side, he really ate with his disciples; really walked with Cleophas; conversed with men with a real tongue; really reclined at supper; with real hands took bread, blessed and broke it, and was offering it to them….Do not put the power of the Lord on the level with the tricks of magicians, so that he may appear to have been what he was not, and may be thought to have eaten without teeth, walked without feet, broken bread without hands, spoken without a tongue, and showed a side which had no ribs.” (From a Letter to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem 34, 5th century)

Particularly, we know that Jesus in His glorified body does not need to eat. He eats for the sake of His apostles. He eats, not so much for the material aspect of eating, but for its social dimension. For us human beings, because we are not pure spirits, practically almost everything that comes to us has to pass a humanizing process, even our most fundamental bodily needs. Even the noblest things, like our faith in God, reach us through our senses because somebody has told it to us or has shown concrete witnessing about it. God has given to us the things we want not through a magic or fairy tales but also through a human means. There is a philosophical adage that says, “Nothing is in the mind that was not first in the senses.” That is why, somebody had commented, we eat not just to fill ourselves and be satisfied. We should also see the human aspects of eating. For example, when we eat as a family, bonds are strengthened. When we eat with friends, we get closer to them. It’s good to enjoy the meal, but it’s even better to enjoy the company.

Fr. Joseph Benitez

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mar. 29, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 9

Mar. 29, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 9

How many of us here use reading glasses? For those of us who have trouble seeing things both near and far, it’s a hassle to carry around two sets of glasses. Yet we can’t live without them. They bring into focus what seems blurry. As an analogy, tears that we experience throughout life bring into focus--like glasses--what is truly important and real.

Mary Magdalene experienced something similar. In today’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb because the body of her Lord is not there anymore. This is not the first time that she is shedding tears for Jesus. In another Gospel passage, Mary Magdalene is the tearful “sinful woman” who anoints the feet of Jesus and dries them with her hair. She is the one whom Jesus defends against detractors who accuse her of being a great sinner. Jesus says of her that she loves much because she was forgiven much. At the tomb, she grieves with her tears for Jesus; in this dark moment of her soul, her tears of contrition, repentance, and gratitude allow her to recognize the Risen Jesus. She proclaims to the apostles, "I have seen the Lord."

Pope Francis said, "All of us, in our lives, have felt joy, sadness, pain. In our darkest moments, have we wept? Have we had the gift of tears that prepare our eyes to look, to see the Lord? In the face of the Magdalene who is weeping we too can ask the Lord for the grace of tears. It is a beautiful grace… to weep for everything: for the good, for our sins, for graces, even for joy. Weeping prepares us to see Jesus.” And the Lord gives all of us the grace to be able to say with our lives: “I have seen the Lord,” not because he has appeared to me, but because “I have seen him inside my heart.” And this is the witness of our lives: “I live like this because I have seen the Lord.”

Our Risen Lord makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see, with his eyes of love and compassion, our neighbors who suffer in body and spirit. It is easy to miss recognizing the Lord when our focus is on ourselves. Our Lord encourages us to focus instead on others, just as he told Mary Magdalene to go tell the disciples what she had seen. Our own experience of tears helps us recognize Jesus in those who weep and suffer. We are called to be witnesses, like Mary Magdalene, to proclaim to others, “I live with joy amid difficulties because I have seen the Lord.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Lord's Prayer sung by Fr. Paul Yi

The Lord's Prayer sung by Fr. Paul Yi

St. Agnes Sacred Hymns Concert, Baton Rouge, LA
March 13, 2016

How Great Thou Art sung by Fr. Paul Yi

How Great Thou Art sung by Fr. Paul Yi

St. Agnes Sacred Hymn Concert, Baton Rouge, LA
March 13, 2016

Holy City sung by Fr. Paul Yi

Holy City sung by Fr. Paul Yi
Sandra Mistretta accompanist
Easter Sunday Mass, Ascension Catholic Church, Donaldsonville, March 26, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26, 2016: Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday C

March 26, 2016: Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday C
Click to hear Audio Homily
“Where is Jesus’ body buried?” I had to pause and think for a bit, when a Catholic school student asked me that question. Was she asking the location of the burial place of Jesus, or was she really asking where Jesus’ bones are interred now? Before I could answer, another classmate raised her hand and said, “Jesus was resurrected, so there is no body here on earth.”
It is challenging to wrap our minds around the resurrection event of Jesus, for it defies our scientific understanding of death. The disciples of Jesus felt the same way on that Sunday morning following his crucifixion. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others went to Jesus’ tomb that morning, bringing spices to dress Jesus’ dead body. The women expected to find the lifeless body of Jesus in the tomb. His body would have been the only remaining link to the love they once shared with him. They found the stone rolled away and no sight of Jesus’ body. Two angels at the tomb prompted them to remember what Jesus had told them -- that he would rise on the third day. Recalling Jesus’ words, the women returned to the apostles to tell the news, but their news was greeted with incredulity. In disbelief, Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself. After he saw only the burial cloths in the tomb, he returned home amazed at what had happened. 
The resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday is an amazing event that challenges each of us to ask, ‘What does this mean?’ St. Paul eloquently writes how Our Lord’s resurrection affects all of us. We have died to one kind of life and have been born to another. As an analogy, we enjoy physical life because we are surrounded by air and the air is in us. Likewise, we now live the life of God because Christ is in us, just as we are in Christ.
Even more astonishing is how Jesus continues to provide a tangible sign that he is alive and present. Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, commanding us to do it in memory of him. We bring our sins, our fears, and our gratitude to the Lord at Communion, and Jesus transforms them within himself in his sacrifice and resurrection. Before we receive communion we respond with a firm ‘Amen,’ which means ‘so be it’ or ‘I believe.’
Because of Christ’s resurrection on Easter, we have real hope for eternity. We can have full, confident assurance in what St. Paul’s letter to Titus calls “the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) When we are confident in our future with Him, we can look at our trials from an eternal perspective. Even our most prolonged trials that may feel never-ending, fall short of eternity. Paul encourages us to keep that eternal perspective when he writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). 
At the Good Friday service at St. Francis, I was so moved during the veneration of the cross. Each person came up with great love for Our Lord and for what he did on the cross for each one of us. As they planted a kiss on the Relic of the True Cross, I could sense that Our Lord’s cross was really the cross of salvation for them.
These past 40 days of Lent, Our Lord has drawn us closer to him, inviting us to participate more deeply in the new life of His resurrection. This hour of celebration of Our Lord’s resurrection will come to an end, but we are sent forth to live this message of resurrection in our family and in our community. Our God who conquered death and the grave is working on our behalf in the here and now and in preparation for our eternity with him.

Friday, March 25, 2016

March 25, 2016: Holy Darkness, Good Friday

Holy Darkness Good Friday liturgy at St Francis of Assisi, Donaldsonville, LA, March 25, 2016 sung by Fr. Paul Yi Holy Darkness (Dan Schutte) Refrain Holy darkness, blessed night, heaven's answer hidden from our sight. As we await you, O God of silence, we embrace your holy night. 1. I have tried you in fires of affliction; I have taught your soul to grieve. In the barren soil of your loneliness, there I will plant my seed. 2. I have taught you the price of compassion; you have stood before the grave. Though my love can seem like a raging storm, this is the love that saves. 4. In your deepest hour of darkness I will give you wealth untold. When the silence stills your spirit, will my riches fill your soul. Inspired by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

March 25, 2016: Good Friday

March 25, 2016: Good Friday
For more than twenty centuries, the Church has gathered on this day that we call Good Friday to remember and re-live the events of the final stage of the earthly journey of the Son of God who went out, carrying his cross to the place called Golgotha. We are here because we are convinced that the Way of the Cross of the Son of God was not simply a journey to the place of execution. We believe that every step of the Condemned Christ, every action and every word, as well as everything felt and done by those who took part in his passion, continue to speak to us.

Several months after my ordination to priesthood, I was in Jerusalem, celebrating mass inside the basilica at the Garden of Gethsemane. The church was dimly lit, and all I could hear was hushed murmuring of pilgrims praying with their hands on a large rock--traditionally the place where Jesus spent the night praying in agony before his arrest. The altar of sacrifice was immediately behind the rock. As I grasped the chalice with both hands to elevate it during the Eucharistic prayer, a scripture passage came to mind -- the prayer that Jesus said in agony at the Garden, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)  And another passage came to mind where Jesus asked James and John, "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" (Matt 20:22)

As we re-live the Good Friday of Our Lord, we also are asked whether we are willing to drink the cup of Our Lord. I know there are many of you here who are going through a particularly difficult time right now, with loss, illness and family issues. What does it mean to have a part in the Cross of Christ? It means to experience, in the Holy Spirit, the love hidden within the Cross of Christ. It means to recognize, in the light of this love, our own cross. It means to take up that cross once more and, strengthened by this love, to continue our journey. On this journey through life, we are called to imitate the one who endured the cross.

As we reflect on the events of Calvary particularly when the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross and laid in his Mother's arms, in our mind's eye we glimpse again the moment when Blessed Mother accepted the message brought by the angel Gabriel. The had said, "And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lk 1:31-33). In response to Gabriel, Blessed Mother replied simply: "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38);Blessed Mother expressed these words again in the silence of her heart as she stood at Calvary, and as she held the body of her son in her arms. Inseparable from the mystery of the Incarnation is the extraordinary promise spoken of by Simeon during the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: "And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk 2:35).

The crosses that we carry only make sense when we unite them to the cross of Our Lord on Calvary. In some way, we all stand before the cross on Calvary. There we learn the lesson on how Jesus carried and embraced our crosses with great love. There at Calvary, Blessed Mother is standing with us. She knows what’s weighing in our hearts, especially the burden of the suffering that’s overwhelming us. It is all too natural for us to say, “Father, take this suffering away from me.” Yet, Blessed Mother’s presence at Calvary and her presence by our side remind us to imitate her trust in the Father, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Good Friday: Funeral of Christ at Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

Good Friday: Funeral of Christ at Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem

I Thirst
It is Christ who thirstily loved us to the end—all of us. That is the message of Good Friday. It is Christ whose thirst to accomplish his Father´s plan reached such immense proportions that he willingly endured the death of a common criminal on a Roman Cross. This type of thirst is radical indeed. It is most certainly beyond human. Stand below the Cross and see how God has thirsted for you; how he has selflessly and lovingly given himself in the Eucharist. Justice demands that you and I too thirst to give of ourselves to Christ, our Savior and our God.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24, 2016: Holy Thursday C

March 24, 2016: Holy Thursday C
For most of us, the word ‘servant’ is not a familiar term, for we may not have employed servants in our household when we were growing up. Perhaps we can identify with being a servant when we think of menial tasks that we do for others that we do for little or no pay. For example, parents, how many of you get paid for changing diapers, bathing the little ones, cleaning the mess after children leave the dinner table, and waiting in carpool line? Grandparents, how many of you get paid to drop everything, change your weekend plans, and babysit your grandchild at a moment’s notice? There is no task that is considered beneath our dignity when a loved one is involved.

On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus was at table with the disciples celebrating the feast of Passover. Then he did something unexpected by taking on the role of a servant as he wrapped a towel around his waist, took a pitcher of water, and began to wash the feet of his disciples. The gesture of a servant’s task affirmed what Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends... I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

What Jesus did at the Last Supper and later at Calvary should humble us. We who are weak and prone to sin are good at pointing out the faults others yet spiritually blind when it comes to our own sins. Also, how poorly we love! We are so impatient and angry with others when we don’t get our way. Even more humbling is when we realize that we don’t love God as He loves us. Compared to God’s love for us, our love for Him is not even a drop of dew lost in the ocean. Yet how are we to fulfill the impossible request from Jesus, to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”(Matt 5:48)? Jesus provided for us a way to return infinite love of the Heavenly Father, through himself when he instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

We bring to the sacrifice of mass our meager offering of sacrifice, and Jesus takes them in himself and offers Himself to the Father. At the Mass, Jesus is giving himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, into our hands: literally, in the hands of the priest, and spiritually, in the hands of all the lay faithful who unite their own sacrifices to the offering of the priest at the altar. Then, together, each in his own way, we offer Jesus’ infinite sacrifice of love to the Father and ourselves along with it. That’s the moment when Jesus’ sacrifice becomes our sacrifice, when Jesus’ love becomes our love, when Jesus’ offering of himself becomes our offering of ourselves. So, in that moment, we love God perfectly with his own divine love.

Jesus’ life is a feast for the poor and for sinners, and it must be the same for all of us who receive the Lord’s body and blood. As we receive His body and blood in the Eucharist, Jesus instructs that we must live out what we received. “I have given you an example: as I have done you should do. Blessed are you if you behave accordingly.” Humble service should characterize all of us who identify themselves as Christians. This is how we as Christians should be recognized in the here and now. “Love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Holy Week Schedule 2016 at Ascension & St. Francis Churches

Holy Week Schedule 2016 at Ascension & St. Francis Churches 
*Note: No daily mass on Holy Thursday (3/24) and Good Friday (3/25)

Holy Thursday (3/24/16) - 7PM at Ascension Church
Good Friday (3/25/16) - 6:15PM Way of the Cross / 7PM Service at St. Francis
Easter Vigil (3/26/16) - 8PM Mass at Ascension Church
Easter Sunday (3/27/16) - 8AM Mass Ascension / 10:30AM St. Francis
Monday (3/28/16) - Church office closed
Tuesday (3/29/16) - 6PM Divine Mercy Mass and Chaplet at Ascension

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 8

March 22, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 8

At some point in our lives, we may have experienced betrayal of trust by someone we loved dearly. Do you remember that time? There is a saying, ‘We can forgive, but we can’t forget.’ Even after forgiving the person, the relationship is never the same. How do we bring ourselves to trust that person again? It is a difficult question that does not have a satisfying answer, but how we respond to our disappointment in people is more important than what they did to us.

On the night of the Last Supper, Our Lord faced betrayal by many in his trusted inner circle of twelve disciples, the very ones that he called ‘friends.’ It wasn’t only Judas who was going to betray his trust. Peter, the Rock, was going to deny him three times, and most of the disciples were going to abandon him once Jesus was arrested. When Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,” he raised the possibility that anyone of them could be the one.

Jesus bore our sins so that we would not have to bear them. But there are other things Jesus endured on His way to the cross that serve as an example for us, things that we will have to go through and ways we will have to follow in His footsteps. He showed that some things in life can’t be fixed; but they need to be carried with love. His love and hope for his dear friends were not diminished even when he knew that he was going to be betrayed by them. Perhaps the unconditional love that Jesus showed is akin to how parents forgive their children who betray their trust. What compels parents to forgive their children time and time again after the betrayal of trust? Love. How is it possible that some are able to take back their spouse even after they walked out on their marriage? Love.

Jesus was fully aware of Peter’s betrayal. Yet Jesus’ love for Peter was not diminished. Love compels Jesus to tell Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

Betrayal of trust is especially painful when we are hurt by someone we love, respect, and trust. We may become defensive and bitter in an effort to never be hurt again. However, with God's help, betrayal is something we can recover from and not let hinder us, no matter how we feel. As disciples, let us remember that how we respond to hurts caused by others is more important than what they did to us. If we are betrayed or wounded by someone we trusted, refuse to get bitter. Instead, follow the example of Jesus and forgive them. We can't choose what other people do, but we can choose to have a right response. Somethings in life can’t be fixed; we must carry them with love.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 20, 2016: Palm Sunday C

March 20, 2016: Palm Sunday C
Click to hear Audio Homily
Many of you have been on a seven-day vacation. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage for seven days? The word "pilgrim" comes from the Latin "peregrinus," meaning "foreigner" or "stranger," and in the deepest sense, that is what all Catholics are: a people whose home is not this world, but the Heavenly Jerusalem, toward which our lives move us. Holy Week, then, is not so much a time to take a vacation but to embark on a seven-day pilgrimage to Jerusalem. We will follow the footsteps of Jesus, accompanied by Blessed Mother, disciples of Jesus, and millions of pilgrims around the world. Each of us is invited personally by God to enter the Holy City to celebrate Holy Week--the greatest events of salvation history.

Holy Week officially begins today with the celebration of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. In Jerusalem today, thousands of Christians from around the world joyfully march from the town of Bethphage, praying and singing in all languages, down the western slope of the Mount of Olives across the Kidron valley and into the Old City.

On Holy Thursday later this week, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at the Holy Sepulchre. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre contains, according to traditions dating back at least to the fourth century, the two holiest sites in Christendom: the site where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, known as "Calvary" in Latin and "Golgotha" in Greek, and Jesus's empty tomb, where he is said to have been buried and resurrected. Within the church proper are the last four Stations of the Cross, representing the final episodes of Jesus' Passion. Our Church commemorates Jesus’ washing of the apostle’s feet and accompany Jesus on his last hours prior to his arrest in Gethsemane. In Jerusalem that day at 9 p.m., thousands of Christians will spend a meditative Holy Hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by a candlelight procession to the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, traditionally known as the place where Jesus spent the night after his arrest.

On Good Friday, the Lord’s Passion and crucifixion will be remembered at Calvary. In Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims will follow Franciscan friars on the actual Stations of the Cross  on Via Dolorosa. Later in the evening, Christ’s funeral will be celebrated at the Basilica of Holy Sepulchre where the deposition of Christ’s body into the tomb will be reenacted.

The climax of the week, great Easter Vigil, will be held on Saturday in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of the resurrection of Our Lord. Inside the dark, ancient basilica in candlelight, the pilgrims will hear the powerful words of the mass, “Dear Friends in Christ, on this most holy night, when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life, the Church invites her children throughout the world to come together in vigil and prayer.  This is the Passover of the Lord.”

The pilgrimage to Jerusalem during this Holy Week is a time of prayer and to witness the miraculous signposts God has left for our return to Him. Let us not squander this opportunity. The World around us will be busy going about its daily grind, perhaps oblivious to the miracle of Divine Mercy happening during this coming week. Ask God to bless you with a heart that will be receptive to the treasure chest of graces He desires to shower upon your pilgrimage during Holy Week. The success of your spiritual journey will depend upon your openness, faith, flexibility, and love.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Holy Week Schedule at Ascension/St. Francis, Donaldsonville
Holy Thursday (3/24/16), 7PM at Ascension Church
Good Friday (3/25/16), 6:30PM Way of the Cross at St. Francis, 7PM Good Friday Service
Easter Vigil (3/26/16), 8PM at Ascension Church
Easter Sunday (3/27/16), 8AM at Ascension Church, 10:30AM at St. Francis Church

March 19, 2016 Saturday: St. Joseph

March 19, 2016 Saturday: St. Joseph

If there was ever a man with the occasion to feel like a third wheel or an unnecessary addition to the real action, it would have been Joseph, for the Incarnation was very pointedly achieved apart from his biological involvement.
Joseph was a man of few words because he was a man of action, a man's man from a long line of patriarchal family men (Matt. 1). The head of the family - making decisions, executing the plan - was his rightful place, one he learned from his own capable father.

But Mary presented a very 'unorthodox" problem. She claimed a "special" plan from God and had already begun executing it. Without telling him anything about it, she had already said "yes" and was already pregnant. Joseph had no idea how to properly deal with Mary's astonishing motherhood. Of course, he sought an answer to the disturbing question, but more than that he sought a way out of what was, for him, a difficult situation.

The fact that he would be asked to play the seemingly "tag along" role in the whole cosmic drama, and was only informed after the fact, must have gone against the grain for Joseph. If all of "it" were true, wouldn't God have used His own established family structure to inform Joseph first, ahead of time? Wasn't he capable of hearing God himself? Why would God displace him in such a way?

If he trusted, Joseph would have to "sacrifice" his manhood by pursuing Mary into this deliberate displacement in what would amount to a stunning reversal of Adam and Eve. At the dawn of salvation, the New Eve could, then, lead Joseph to Life.
If he followed her, it would mean a redemption of the whole sordid Eden affair in which a New Adam would emerge, but Joseph had to have felt slighted, humbled, silenced at the presence of this Word in his wife. He had to have balked at the sheer preposterousness of the claim.

And the skepticism would only get worse as her pregnancy became obviously untimely and began to mock his manhood. Why would God humiliate Joseph by the very masculinity through which He would ultimately work?

Indeed, the whole episode seemed designed to prove to him how marginal his role was. Certainly the God who flung forth the universe with a Word could build a better home for Mary and the Baby than he could.

His carpenter's wage was surely all but unimportant, as the God who trapped the ram in the thicket and covered the wilderness floor with manna would need no help providing for them. And his strength, superior in every way to a woman and baby's, well, of what use was it for the "Lord of Armies" who conquered the Egyptian military by drowning, and leveled Jericho with pots and torches and a bare handful of bellowing men?

The Measure of a Man
The truth is, God was teaching Joseph what every woman must also learn, often through her relationship with her husband: humility. No, God surely does not need the Josephs of this world in an absolute sense, but they image God in their daily grind, in their calluses and sweat, in the heroic execution of their sacrificial duties and fatherhood.

God chooses them specifically for their masculinity to do this, because they are the tangible proof of His own profound humility against a matchless strength. They image His interest in the roles of fatherhood and family and the profound importance He places on them, so that simply being a man is a particular gift with a particular authority.

Joseph's fatherly authority was eternally fixed from the moment the angel directed him to name the baby. As "name-givers" ancient fathers declared the legality of their fatherhood, and through speaking the name Joseph also became a prophet, proclaiming Jesus' mission as Savior.

It must have humbled Mary to be, first an instrument, then a receiver of Joseph's humility lesson, as she and Jesus would be the ones for whom he would sacrifice so utterly and repeatedly. But together in mutual deference to one another, his holy manliness and her delicate femininity, would rest the mysterious union in which God would place His only Son. In this way, God showed the world where he wishes for children to live and grow up, and the conditions under which they can flourish.
Although it was arguably his greatest humiliation, Joseph's union and presence with Mary despite her publicly perceived betrayal protected and defended her as much or more than their flight to Egypt. It roared in the Scriptural silence attributed to him of his love for her and his confidence in her purity and integrity, despite appearances, more loudly than any recorded word ever could.

This degree of loyalty takes the kind of grit only real men possess. From the beginning, Joseph accepted the indescribable gift of human fatherhood over Jesus, whose own "submission" or obedience to Joseph in their Nazareth home, should be understood as a sharing in the work of Joseph (Redemptoris Custos, Guardian of the Redeemer, John Paul II).

And while there, surely Jesus learned from watching Joseph how to father and shepherd, how to cut to the heart of a matter as pithily as possible, to lead and be responsible for a group, how to be silent before God and hear Him speak. It stands to reason that Joseph taught him how to measure twice and cut once, how to marry the joints of seemingly disparate personality pieces so that they fit and worked seamlessly, the importance of every jot and tittle and creative detail, and that spiritual formation is true craftsmanship and cannot be hurried.

That such holiness could come from his family is a testament to the man Joseph. Certainly he sometimes felt marginalized in his own family, yet he was the leader of The iconic family unit, and capable of it specifically for his manhood.

In the Heart of God's Will
Though Joseph may have been embarrassed that his wife and child slept in a barn, he was under a star that led foreign sages to them who laid riches at their feet. Though he may have felt he was running from the murderous king rather than actively defending his family, Joseph was a protector of the womb.
It was to assure fatherly protection for Jesus that God chose Joseph to be Mary's spouse; it was under his leadership to Egypt the Scriptures could be fulfilled: "'Out of Egypt have I called my son'" (Matt. 2:15).

Though his offering of turtledoves may have embarrassed him for their smallness, they brought them all under the aged eye of Simeon who saw Joseph's sacrifices and their consolation of all Israel.

Joseph's willingness and openness to the whole extraordinary Plan made him the keeper of salvation, the guardian, the watcher, the eye of God, until it could mature. When the time had come, Joseph left Mary in the hands of the Son he raised with her, so that He could rise to the head of the human family as was His destiny from the foundation of the world.

Joseph lived for his family, pouring himself out for them completely, and then faded from the story: "He must increase and I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30). And so we find the key to Joseph's silence: contemplation and interior greatness.
"St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies;...he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things-it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic," (Insegnamenti, Discourse, Paul VI).
Into Joseph's capable, callused hands were entrusted God's most precious treasures. He was called by God to serve us all through the exercise of his fatherhood. Mary and Jesus needed Joseph. If it had not been true, God would not have given him to them.

He is, therefore, God's absolute affirmation of men who are authentically themselves, engaging the world in those wonderful ways that are uniquely masculine, taking their places as heads of families, and providing dignity and keeping godly order in home and society through the work of their hands and other noble labor.

Every woman blessed with a Joseph "gets" how powerful understatement is. She wonders at him. She respects him. She is moved to profound thankfulness for the glory of his true strength, and she deeply appreciates how he articulates it so beautifully without the noise of words.
-Sonja Corbitt

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 18, 2016 Friday: 5th Week of Lent

March 18, 2016 Friday: 5th Week of Lent

Trusting in All Times

In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God; From his temple he heard my voice and my cry to him reached his ears. –Psalm 18: 7

A man was agitated driving down the street because he had an important meeting and couldn’t find a parking space. Looking up to heaven, he said, “Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking space, I promise to go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life and give up swearing.” Miraculously, a spot opened right in front of the building. The man looked up and said, “Never mind. I found one” (Readers Digest).

How often we pray to God when we are in need. How pious we become in distress or trouble. And how quickly we forget God when things are going well. Maybe that is why God allows challenges in our life; it may be the only time God hears from us. There is nothing wrong about praying when in need; in fact it is a blessed thing. Yes, pray to God when in distress, but don’t forget him in your joy.

Dear God, I am most grateful that you are there to help me. Who else do I have but you? But I don’t only want to know you when I am in trouble. I want to talk to you in all the seasons of my life. I pray that you will be there in my distress, but also that I may recognize you in my blessings. Amen.

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 17, 2016 Thursday: 5th Week of Lent

March 17, 2016 Thursday: 5th Week of Lent

God also said to Abraham: “On your part you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” –Genesis 17: 9

When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy morning chasing votes (without lunch), he arrived at a church barbecue late in the afternoon. Famished, Herter moved down the serving line and held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person in line.

“Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I’m starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one to a customer.”

Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I am the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman replied. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister”.

Sometimes we forget who God is. He is our maker, and we are his creatures subject to him. From his abundant love and mercy, he extends a covenant to us, a covenant that began with Abraham. This covenant is not a burden or cross to bear. We follow him and God promises that he will not abandon us. Following the covenant requires a certain amount of humility. We recognize that we are subject to God and must obey him. But it is in humility that we find our peace.

Father, through Abraham you have offered a covenant to us. We are uniquely connected to you. You are no distant God, but a God who walks with us. Grant me the grace to walk humbly and obediently with you. Amen.

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016 Wednesday: 5th Week of Lent

March 16, 2016 Wednesday: 5th Week of Lent

Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego… they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. –Daniel 3: 95

A construction crew was building a new road through a rural area, knocking down trees as it progressed. The superintendant noticed that one tree had a nest of birds who could not yet fly. Despite the tight time schedule, he marked the tree so that it would not be cut down.

Several weeks later the superintendent came back to the tree. He got into a bucket truck and was lifted up so that he could peer into the nest. The fledglings were all gone. They obviously learned how to fly, so he gave the order to knock down the tree. As the tree crashed to the ground the nest fell clear and some of the material that the birds had gathered was scattered about the ground. One part of it was a scrap torn from a Sunday school pamphlet. On the scrap of paper were these words “He careth for you” (Bits and Pieces).

God cares for you. Do you believe it? Do you believe it even when you are tested and are going through trials and challenges? Even in your most trying moments, know that God cares for you, just as he cared for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They willingly went into flames trusting in God’s care. He delivered them, but even if they were to perish, they knew they were still in God’s hands. God was first in their life. He cared for them, and he cares for you.

Father, I want to trust you in all things and in all situations. I admit I sometimes doubt your care when life becomes unmanageable. I want to serve and follow you. I know if I remain with you, you will remain with me. May I be safe and secure in your love for me. Amen.

In my trials, do I trust in God’s care for me?

Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016 Divine Mercy Week 7

March 15, 2016 Divine Mercy Week 7

The late Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn told of a time in the Siberian prison when weary from hard labor, weak from a starvation diet and in pain from an untreated illness, he felt he couldn’t go on. He was being forced to shovel sand hour after backbreaking hour. Finally he just stopped, knowing that the guards would beat him severely, perhaps even to death. Just then another prisoner, a fellow Christian, took his shovel handle and, right at Solzhenitsyn’s feet, drew in the sand the sign of the cross. Then he quickly erased it. But when Solzhenitsyn caught the glimpse of the cross all the hope and courage in the gospel flooded his soul and enabled him to hold on. He was saved by the sign of the cross.

Today we learn about the New Testament fulfillment of an Old Testament episode. The Book of Numbers shows the Israelites turning against God even though he had just won their release from slavery in Egypt. In punishment for turning away from God, Jews were bitten by serpents; but when they looked at a bronze serpent fashioned by Moses, their lives were saved. In the gospel, Jesus is speaking about himself and telling the people that only when they have killed him on the cross will they realise that he is the Son of God because only then will they see his glory. Like the bronze serpent on the pole, Christ on the cross will bring us new life. The cross is the symbol of our sinfulness, our rejection of God and our total separation from Him; yet Jesus made the cross the source of our salvation. The lifting up on the Cross ultimately reveals the merciful love of God the Father for all humanity.

Moreover, Jesus was confident that the Father would be with him through his cross. How about us? Do we put our confidence in God, that he would be with us through our crosses? How often we view the cross as a burden, a necessary evil. Rather than finding strength in it, we find despair. Admittedly, no one likes to suffer, but suffering is part of everyone’s life. The difference is that a Christian knows the secret— he joins his suffering to Christ’s. In doing so, we find not only strength but meaning in our pain and suffering. In the cross, the symbol of death has become the symbol of God’s loving mercy. Today we ask Our Heavenly Father for the grace to carry our cross. We are not asking Him to remove it, but to give us strength to bear it as Jesus did. May we do so not begrudgingly but with grace and fortitude, for in doing so, we will find life.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 13, 2016: 5th Sunday of Lent C

March 13, 2016: 5th Sunday of Lent C

Click to hear Audio Homily
Have you ever been to a perfect mass? Perhaps the choir was pitch perfect, the lectors read impeccably, the priest’s homily was outstanding, the sign of peace was truly sincere because no one in the congregation had any grievances against another, and everyone going to communion had no mortal sins in their hearts. Have you ever been to such a mass?

Which brings us to ask, ‘What makes a perfect mass?’ Recently, St. Aloysius hosted a morning mass where all the liturgical ministers were children with various disabilities. The altar servers had Down syndrome or autism; they didn’t process in a straight line nor were they in sync. The lectors each had a  disability; when a couple of them approached the podium, they froze until an adult went up to assure them it was okay. A gift bearer with Down syndrome almost dropped the host as she brought up the gift. Perhaps our culture considers these children as imperfect and lacking in so many ways. Yet, how does God see these children and that special mass which was not what we may think as perfect? Was God pleased with these children at mass? Those children with their imperfections offered the perfect mass, because of their childlike faith and trust.
Is God pleased when we show up to mass--we who are imperfect in a different way--distracted and committed numerous sins during the week?

In today’s Gospel, the scribes and pharisees brought a woman who committed a serious sin of adultery to Jesus to determine her punishment, for the Jewish law stated that a person caught in adultery was to be stoned to death. Perhaps for this woman, her sin was a misguided search for love. Yet the scribes and pharisees were using the sinful woman as a bait to trap Jesus, a far more grave sin. 

What is our reaction when we find out that someone has committed a serious sin? Is it compassion or judgment? The first reaction to someone’s fall should be pity--the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others. As for judgment, that is not left to us, for Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). So Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Our Lord was addressing a common fault that lies in all of us--many of us demand standards from others that we never even try to meet ourselves; and so many of us condemn faults in other which are glaringly obvious in our own lives. One by one, the crowd left without explanation, until there was no one left but the woman and Jesus.

Jesus then said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” He was not excusing her sin; rather He was showing her mercy and forgiveness. For every sin, there is high cost involved which affects lives and properties of others. When we walk out of the confessional, we do not leave with a presumption that we can sin again. Rather, we walk out with a renewed hope that with God’s grace, we will amend for the wrong we have done, and we will sin no more. Yet should we sin again, we should humble ourselves and go back to Jesus in confession for His mercy.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that God doesn’t forgive us because we’re so good but because He is so good; that He forgives us not because we deserve it but because we desperately need it. The Good News is that God’s ways are not our ways. God isn’t attracted to our gifts, virtues, and talents. But rather His love flows toward the lowest place--toward those who are little, poor, weak, broken, and sinful. This is the very definition of mercy.

We with a different kind of imperfection can also offer God a perfect mass with our humble, childlike trust. God is immensely pleased because our childlike trust opens the floodgates to His infinite mercy. God’s Heart is always moved by our humble acknowledgment of our littleness.
-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 11, 2016 Friday: 4th Week of Lent

March 11, 2016 Friday: 4th Week of Lent

Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. –Wisdom 2: 12

A Detroit schoolteacher was given a ticket for driving through a stoplight and required to appear in traffic court the following Monday morning. She went at once to the judge, explained that she had to teach on Monday and asked for immediate disposal of her case.

“So you’re a schoolteacher,” said the judge. “Madam, your presence here fulfills a long-standing ambition of mine. You sit right down at that table and write ‘I went through a stop sign’ 500 times.”

We are strange folks. On one hand, we admire and praise others for their virtue and successful lifestyle, yet we are not always comfortable when that person is close to home and seems to put us in a bad light. Call it envy, insecurity or maybe pride. When we see someone on a pedestal, we want to knock them off. We look for their faults in order to discredit them. Of course, it is an unhealthy behavior. We do it just as they did it to Jesus. In fact they put him on cross for it.

Father, help me deal with my insecurities and envies. Rather than feel threatened or jealous, may I learn to rejoice with others in their good fortune. May I be free in praising the good that I see in others. Amen.

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016 Thursday: 4th Week of Lent

March 10, 2016 Thursday: 4th Week of Lent

I know that you do not have the love of God in you. –John 5: 42

Newspaper columnist John Sinor tells of the time he was sent by the city editor to rescue a cat stuck in a tree. “The photographer and I got a long ladder. However, when we put it up against the tree, the cat came down by itself. There was only one thing to do. Catch the cat and take it back up the tree so that we could get a picture of me taking it down. We ran the pictures the next day of me taking the cat down. There was only one problem: The rival paper in town ran a picture of me putting the cat up in the tree” (San Diego Tribune).

The words may sting; we may think of them as a little harsh. But they are true. We do not have the love of God in our hearts. Oh, maybe some have a smattering of it, but most of us are motivated by our own concerns and needs. Like the photographer, we want to look good even if it is forced. Once we really accept Jesus’ words rather than deny them, we can begin to grow. We admit our selfishness and ask God to replace it. Little by little we change. We may not be perfect but we are growing little by little. We don’t have to pretend in front of others that we are someone special. We are simply his disciples growing in his grace.

Father, I may be slow to admit that I do not have your love first and foremost in my heart. But thanks to your grace I am getting better. Little by little I am surrendering to your grace. Little by little your love will replace my selfish need to be right. Help me this Lent to focus on you and not other’s opinion of me. Amen.

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8, 2016 Tuesday: 4th Week of Lent C

March 8, 2016 Tuesday: 4th Week of Lent C

What happens when Jesus gazes at you and reaches out for you? In today’s gospel, Jesus reaches out to an invalid man who had been ill for 38 years. With Jesus’ command, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk,” the man was healed of his infirmity. Perhaps such radical and visible healing may not happen to all of us, but something incredible does happen when Jesus reaches out for us and we respond. If you go down to the adoration chapel below this church, you can read a binder filled with praise and thanksgiving that countless people recorded. Many folks who go to adoration tell me how they are filled with peace--peace that money cannot buy.

Did you see the movie Risen that is showing in the theaters? In the movie, a Roman Tribune named Clavius is trying his best to achieve his military career ambition. At one point his superior, Pontius Pilate, asked Clavius his ultimate goal. Clavius replied that after winning a political position in Rome, he would like to retire in the countryside where he would enjoy peace. He felt trapped by his his inability to reconcile his career ambition with what he ultimately desired -- peace. In some way, Clavius’ belief parallels the modern belief that peace is achieved through hard work and toil. While we can achieve temporary peace, the deep, abiding peace seems to elude most of us. How many of us are family members work untold hours, purchase items to make us happy, try bigger and better ‘toys’ only to realize that we are not any happier.

At Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary, Clavius gets a glimpse of dead Jesus who seemed to gaze directly at him. Then later Clavius encounters the risen Jesus in a gathering of disciples. The risen Jesus gazes at Clavius with much compassion and understanding, which confuses Clavius and brings peace all at the same time.

Have you ever pondered why Jesus invites you to encounter him in the Eucharist, in the image of Divine Mercy, and in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy? Jesus told St. Faustina, “See I have left My heavenly throne to become united with you. What you see is just a tiny part and already your soul swoons with love. How amazed your heart will be when you see Me in all My glory (Diary, 1810). Do not fear anything; I am always with you” (Diary, 613).

Jesus is reaching out to us today, to unite himself with us. He asks for a response, however meager that may be--a response to trust Him. So we pray with faith that He will draw us to the fountain of His mercy in which we will find deep abiding peace that money cannot buy.

-Fr. Paul Yi

Monday, March 7, 2016

Concert of Sacred Music: Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 4PM in St. Agnes Church

An evening of Sacred Music - Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 4 pm in St Agnes' Church. Fr. Paul Yi and Fr. Charbel Jamhoury will perform a Sacred Music Concert, accompanied by Louis Wendt, organist and directed by Carla Landry.

Tickets are $20: sold after all St. Agnes' Masses, in St. Agnes Parish office and at the two Catholic book Stores on Florida Blvd. Tickets will also be sold at the door on the Sunday night of the Concert.

March 7, 2016: Four slain Missionaries of Charity sisters

Opening to the light of Christ brings about life-changing discoveries, but it can also stir up the darkness — for the dark elements within us, and the powers of darkness around us, are threatened by the light. In the parable of the Sower, as soon as the seed of the Word is sown and God’s light is given to man, the evil one comes and tries to take it away. We need to be prepared for the struggle, then, and to continue choosing the light we have beheld, especially in times of weakness and doubt.

After the attack at a Missionaries of Charity convent in Yemen claimed the lives of four of the sisters there-- Sr. Anselm from India, Sr. Margherite from Rwanda, Sr. Reginette from Rwanda, and Sr. Judith from Kenya. Pope Francis said at yesterday’s Angelus, “The four nuns who were killed in Yemen are modern-day martyrs and victims of indifference.”  Bishop Paul Hinder who oversees the area said, “For me there is no doubt that the sisters have been victims of hatred – hatred against our faith.” The Missionaries of Charity died as martyrs: as martyrs of charity, as martyrs because they witnessed Christ and shared the lot of Jesus on the Cross...As Christians we believe that Golgotha is not the end, but the Risen Lord who will have the final word at the last judgment.”

With heavy hearts today we pray for the people of Yemen caught in an atrocity of civil war with many innocent lives being lost every day. We pray for the repose of the souls of 16 persons who lost their lives from this senseless violence. We also pray for the people who committed the atrocity. Peace will not be possible without much forgiveness and forgiving.

Even as he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”, Jesus refused to bring himself down from the dark night of the cross, until he was raised up by the same Father whose presence he could no more feel. We ask for the grace from Jesus to persevere through crosses we bear even in the depth of our darkness. We put our faith in Jesus who promised that he will bring the dawn. We raise our hearts in praying one of the last prayers that those slain sisters would have prayed that morning.

“Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing I do your will. Amen.”

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 6, 2016: 4th Sunday of Lent C

March 6, 2016: 4th Sunday of Lent C

 Click to hear Audio Homily
This Saturday morning, many from our community and from the surrounding area went out to help cleanup a subdivision near Paincourtville which suffered devastation from the recent tornados. While we were cleaning up a house that no longer had a roof or walls, the owners of the house, an older couple, worked alongside us cleaning up their yard. The wife said, “My husband shouldn’t be doing the cleanup. He had heart surgery two weeks ago. But he’s hard headed.” The husband replied, “I was worried about how we’re going to cleanup all this mess, and you guys showed up.” He said, “Father, I had eight heart surgeries, a third of my stomach was taken out, and now this. But can I tell you a secret? I have a secret buddy.” He opened up his wallet, and pointed to a small picture of Divine Mercy. He said, “That’s my best buddy.” I could tell this man had great faith and trust in Jesus. He didn’t have insurance for his house, and he was able to salvage any more than a  few small items from the wreckage. Yet, he was not despairing.

Our trust is very precious to God. However, often in our spiritual life we have a trust issue with God. A young father shared what his 6-yr. old daughter told him one night. He went by her bedside to begin their routine night prayer before being tucked in. The little one said, “Daddy, let’s not pray any more.” Father asked why. She replied, “What’s the point? God doesn’t do what I tell him to do in my prayer.”

The Prodigal Son in our Gospel had a trust issue with his father. He wasn’t satisfied with what his father provided him; he took his way of life for granted in his father’s house. In some way, the Prodigal Son doubted his father’s goodness; perhaps he said to himself, ‘There must be a more rewarding and exciting life away from my father’s house.’ So he asked for his inheritance and left for a far away land squandering his father’s gifts on temporary enjoyment. When he hit rock bottom, he came to his senses that he could at least get something to satisfy his immediate hunger at his father’s house. He was afraid of his father, but that fear did not extinguish his trust in his father that he would at least treat him like a hired servant. That small trust was enough to bring him back to his father’s house. Even before the son reached his father’s house, the father ran toward him and lavished merciful love on his son.

Someone asked me, “What’s the point of going to confession when I’m repeating the same sin every time I go?” Take heart in what Jesus told St. Faustina, “You see how weak you are...Be at peace. It it precisely through such misery that I want to show the power of My mercy...The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy...I see your efforts, which are very pleasing to me.” (Diary of St. Faustina) Our journey back to the Father’s house begins with trusting in God’s goodness and putting less focus on our prone to failure.

The gentleman who showed me a photo of Divine Mercy in his wallet said to me, “Father, I tell Jesus this every time I go through a difficult time. ‘Jesus, give me just one more day of life with you, and I will serve you the rest of my life.’” With trust, he said this small prayer each time he went through a heart attack. Every time after his recovery, he visited neighbors and shared with them how good God is and encouraged them to place their trust in God. What can we learn from this humble man who has child-like trust?

-Fr. Paul Yi

Friday, March 4, 2016

March 4, 2016 Friday: 3rd Week of Lent

March 4, 2016 Friday: 3rd Week of Lent

All Our Heart

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself” is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. –Mark 12: 33

A teenager was sitting in church when the collection plate was passed around, and he quickly pulled a dollar bill from his pocket and dropped it in. Just then the person behind him tapped him on his shoulder and handed him a $ 20 bill. The boy smiled, placed the $ 20 in the plate and passed it on, admiring the man for being generous. Then the boy felt another tap from behind and had heard a whisper. “Son,” the man said, “that was your $ 20 bill that had fallen out of your pocket.”

What does God want from us? How much do we have to give? I am not speaking of dollars and cents, but the inward disposition of our hearts. God does not want only our gifts, he wants us. He wants all of us. God does not want to compete against money, person or pastime. God wants us to love him with all our heart, soul and strength. Anything else would be like giving him a measly dollar bill. God wants all of us.

Father, I hold back from totally loving you. I fear that I will lose out in the enjoyment of life. I fear that you may demand too much from me. I love you, but I am not quite ready to surrender everything to you. Perhaps this Lent I can grow in loving you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. With your grace, may it be so. Amen.

What is holding me back from loving God with all my heart, soul and strength?

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Lent Little by Little

Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 3, 2016 Thursday: 3rd Week of Lent

March 3, 2016 Thursday: 3rd Week of Lent

If Today You Hear His Voice…Turn

They are listening very intently. You can see their minds working, as their eyes close and open. The popular musicians who make up the panel on the TV show The Voice choose contestants to be on the show during blind auditions. They hear the potential contestants sing, but cannot see them. As they listen, they do not know the race, the age, and sometimes even the gender of the singer. They turn only for the voice.

What were the first words spoken by the mute man after he was cured by Jesus? Maybe he told a joke, or spoke words of love to someone. And there must have been the moment when he began to speak about this Jesus. His voice must have been compelling enough that it made people turn not toward him, but to Jesus. That same voice caused the religious leaders of the day to turn their backs to Jesus. They did not want to hear a voice that said that God is not interested in mindless religious rules. The ongoing challenge of faith is to be open to the voice that both comforts and challenges. The season of Lent asks us to consider our voices. Do they speak words of hope and forgiveness? Who might turn toward the Lord this Lent, because they heard your voice?

Loving God, use my voice this day to turn others toward your Son .

-Msgr. Gregory Malovetz
Magnificat Lenten Companion 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mar. 2, 2016 Wednesday: 3rd Week of Lent

Mar. 2, 2016 Wednesday: 3rd Week of Lent

Be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4: 9

Parents are known to give their children wise advice. For example, “Do what you love, and the money will follow” or “The early bird catches the worm” and “Well begun is half done.” “All I remember my mom ever saying is,” said one man, “Don’t fill up on bread.”

What are you giving your children and grandchildren? Is it merely the latest electronic game or digital device? What values and virtues are you hoping they will emulate? In our desire to give comfort to our children, we may have forgotten to give them what really matters. If we are filling them up on bread, they have no room for what will really sustain them. Faith is a gift from God, and consequently you and I can’t give it. But we can foster it. We can teach children to pray. We can show the importance of a faith-filled life by our actions: our concern for the poor, faithfulness to Sunday Mass, our prayer life. By sharing our faith, we nourish their faith. This is what God wants us to give our children.

Dear Lord, sometimes I forget what is most important. important. Whether I am parent or not, may I be mindful that I influence others. Help me, Lord, this Lent to live a life that points to you.

-Fr. Thomas Connery, Traveling Light

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 1, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 5

March 1, 2016 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Week 5

How forgiving of a person are you? Today’s Gospel strikes the heart of that question as Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”

A priest shared this story about his conversation with a 4th grade student at a Catholic School. As he chatted with a young boy, the priest asked him, ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’ The boy replied, ‘I’m the youngest of 9 boys, and I gave up fighting with my brothers for Lent.’ ‘So how is that going,’ the priest asked. The boy replied, ‘It’s going fine…” Then after a long pause, the boy raised his fist and said, ‘But, just wait till Easter comes!’ Doesn’t sound like the boy is very forgiving, does he?

How many of us are like that little boy? Through the parable of the Unmerciful Servant, Jesus is holding a mirror to show us what we are like sometimes. Like the servant who was forgiven a huge debt by his king, we sometimes refuse to forgive a small debt owed to us by another. Whether we realize it or not, all of us are indebted to God; none of us has enough to pay the debt. God is willing to forgive the debt, but the condition of the absolution is that we grant it to those around us.

Priests from our deanery is here for the Sacrament of Reconciliation after the singing of the Chaplet. Before we do so, let’s review the examination of conscience, to see where we owe God a huge debt we cannot pay:

In the areas of Pride: 
Have I judged others, in my thoughts or words?
Have I refused to admit I was wrong?
Have I been arrogant?

In the areas of  Vanity:
Have I been overly concerned about what others think of me? Have I allowed this to motivate my actions?
Have I lied or exaggerated to make myself look good?

In the areas of Lust
Have I viewed other people as mere sexual objects rather than as persons to be loved?
Have I viewed pornography: On internet? or TV?
Have I entertained impure thoughts or impure acts?

In the areas of Anger
Have I harboured resentment, grudges, and hatred in my thoughts?
Have I been impatient with people, family, events, sufferings, sicknesses?

In the areas of Covetousness
Have I been overly concerned about my own comfort and well-being?
Have I wasted money?
Have I used people for my own ends and advantage?

In the area of Envy
Have I envied or been jealous of the abilities, talents, ideas, good-looks, intelligence, clothes, possessions, money, friends, family, of another?
Have I repeated accusations that might not be true? Have I exaggerated?
Have I failed to keep secrets?

In the areas of Sloth and Apathy
Have I got so caught up in the things of this world that I’ve forgotten God?
Have I risked losing my faith/piety by bad company, bad reading, cowardice, or pride?
Have I trusted God, especially in times of difficulty?
Have I attended Mass every Sunday?

In the areas of Gluttony
Have I eaten excessively or drunk alcohol excessively?
Have driven after drinking?
Have I given money to help the hungry?

Lent is a time for us to honestly and humbly admit that we need a course correction. Let us ask God to forgive us of our debt which we cannot pay so as to forgive others who owe us much smaller debt.
-Fr. Paul Yi