Sunday, December 7, 2014

Consecrated Life

Emphasizing the importance of the religious vocation, Pope Francis announced that the year 2015 will be dedicated to Consecrated Life.  He said that all Christians are called to live in imitation of Christ.  Those who are consecrated as religious sisters and brothers do this in a special way.  They vow their entire lives to our Lord according to the purposes of their religious orders.  They teach in our schools, take care of the poor and the sick and bring compassion and the love of Christ to those shunned by society; others lead lives of prayer in contemplation for the world.
Last Sunday was the beginning of this year of dedication.  It will end on February 2, 2016.  Those of us, who have had Sisters and or Brothers for teachers, know their faith, dedication and hard work.  They were motivated by the grace of their vocation.  God called them to serve Him and his people, and He continually supplied them with the strength, stamina and help to do it well.  They were for us great witnesses to God's love and to all the truths of our Catholic faith.  The most impressive part of all of their work was their love for God and for us.  They expected no return other than our good, growing up to be upstanding, faithful, happy men and women.
We are familiar with religious teachers.  But there are also countless Brothers and Sisters who minister to the sick, the poor, the homeless and other suffering souls.  Their joy lies in bringing the friendship and comfort of God to anyone in need.  Often these apostles of love are the only ones who bear hope to those who hunger not so much for food as they do for a human touch.
We can do two things right now.  First, let's make a commitment to pray daily for those in consecrated life.  The suggested prayer is elsewhere in this bulletin.  Secondly, we can show our appreciation by making a good donation today in the Annual Collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious.   Our aged Sisters and Brothers worked many decades with the vow of poverty.  Now, they need our help.  It's our turn to show our love and care for them.
Father Stanley

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent, A New Church Year

In today's Gospel, Our Lord tells us to wake from sleep and to watch.  We have to take time to consider what meaning our life has here and now.  As we were reminded last week on the feast of Christ the King, Jesus gives true meaning to each of our lives.  The Incarnation, God made man, effected a radical change to the universe.  Jesus taught us what it means to be human -- to be in the image and likeness of God.  If we do not see this clearly, it is time to remove whatever interferes with our vision.

The Church gives us this Season of Advent to make a thorough and honest examination of conscience and to purify our souls through Confession so that each of us can welcome and receive our Savior.  This is the time to see those things, attitudes and dispositions that separate us from Him.  We have to look deep down inside ourselves to confront the root causes of being lukewarm or cool in our relationship with Him.  Through Confession, prayer and penance, we are released from the hold of these bad influences and traps.

Just as we look for the causes of bodily sickness or a general malaise, we examine our hearts and souls to learn why we are not as close to Jesus as we should be.  Carefully going over the Ten Commandments is necessary.  Also, it is beneficial to consider the influence of the seven capital sins: pride, covetousness, envy, sloth, lust, avarice and gluttony.  How many of these are within our actions, our thoughts, our words and the way we look at persons and things.

It is not easy to do this because we are leaving ourselves open to a realistic evaluation of ourselves.  We have to let go of that often false, perfect self image.  Most of us would like to see ourselves as selfless, noble and good.  We, however, have to see the selfish and bad things lurking inside.  This is the only way to spiritual healing.  Then, we bring these to Confession, and we are cleansed by Christ.  His strength and love take the place of the corruption of sin.

When Christmas arrives, the new born King should find us with everything in order and with each of our souls ready to receive Him.

Father Stanley

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Christ our King and Thanksgiving

Today, the last Sunday of the Church year, we reflect on two things: Jesus Christ as our  King and the conclusion of the Year of Faith.  We proclaim Christ King of the universe because He is the only way to eternal life -- to salvation.  He is a patient, merciful King, giving us more than we need to combat temptations and to cooperate with his help.  He is the center of the universe and should be central to our lives.  When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we have real happiness.  This is a happiness that is not relegated only to the afterlife, but it is here and now.

As we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, we realized that there are many problems in the world.  There is so much evil perpetrated against people  and so much sickness.  There are problems and hardships also for many of us.  Yet, we recall that the Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder for us to see the blessings that we have and to be thankful.  Hopefully, we find time everyday to tell God how much we appreciate what He has done for us.  In spite of pain, heartache and worry, we know that He does care for us and wants us to be happy now and forever.  Knowing the Eucharist means thanksgiving, we thank Him for this greatest of all the Sacraments and the other Sacraments.  His Sacrifice, his forgiveness and his word are among other gifts for which we are grateful.

A natural response to receiving from God is for us to give to others.  It is so good to see the outpouring of gifts for the less fortunate at this time of year in spite of the poor economy.  May God reward you.  May we continue this spirit of giving throughout the weeks and months ahead.

Let us always remember to pray for others, especially for those who suffer and are in danger.  May God protect them and help them.

On behalf of Fr. Irek, Fr. George and Fr. John, I wish you a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING.  I pray that God bless you with good health and all that you need.

Father Stanley