Congratulations to the children (their names are on the bulletin cover) who will receive their First Communion at the 10:30 am Mass this Sunday. May they always value the Body of Christ as the food that strengthens them to be good disciples. Thank you to their parents for bringing them to this important step in their faith journey.
Our nomination process for parish leaders has ended with 9 parishioners nominated for two pastoral council seats. Those nominated will be invited to a discernment session on May 5th. No one received 10 nominations for trustee, so I will appoint one, in discussion with the Parish Leadership Team. Two parishioners volunteered themselves, if they would be needed. Please keep the selection process in your prayers.
We have an interesting story in our selection from Acts of the Apostles. Paul, recently converted, comes to Jerusalem and the community does not want to accept him: they are afraid of him, they fear he might be a trojan horse. (Earlier in Acts, we are told: Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment). The Christians can only remember his recent vehemence in persecuting the Church.
Enter Barnabas: Barnabas was able to focus on what was happening, not the past. As a result, he was able to see that Paul had changed, that the Holy Spirit was in him, and that he could be trusted. We are told Barnabas “took charge of him and brought him to the apostles.”
Who has been a Barnabas in my life? Who was able to see past my flaws to the gifts that God has given me? Who enabled me to use those gifts for good?
To whom have I been a Barnabas? Am I able to look past the mistakes and flaws of others to see the talents they have, the talents that can be used for good? Am I willing to go out of my way and risk helping that person be
accepted, to help that person use their gifts for good? Is my way of looking at people and situations similar to the way Barnabas did?
All of us have flaws, all of us make mistakes, but all of us have God-given talents that can be used for the good of others. Sometimes we need the help of others to break through and use our gifts for good; sometimes we can be the one who helps someone else. The secret is not to always be focused on the past, but to look at people and situations from the perspective of what can be happening NOW that is good.
God wants to use us to help others be the best that they can be. Are we open to doing that? Are we open to others helping us? How can we be more open? And remember: Communion is the food that gives us the strength to be open! God bless.
Church sign of the week: Lay up your treasures in heaven where there is no depreciation.
Congratulations to Reagan McGinty, who will receive her First Communion at the 10:30 am Mass this Sunday. May she always value the Body of Christ as the food that strengthens her to be a good disciple. Thank you to her parents for bringing her to this important step in her faith journey.
Our chapter for this week from Living the Gift of Sunday is “Sunday is the day that belongs to God.” I will be accompanying you in prayer, as you read and reflect on this chapter.
Just as the second Sunday of Easter is always Divine Mercy Sunday, the fourth Sunday is always Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is certainly our Good Shepherd.
The analogy of a good shepherd involves a strong relationship. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will obey; the shepherd will go to great lengths to protect his sheep. It is a deep relationship, the kind of relationship mirrored by Mary Magdalene, who recognized Jesus by the way He said her name.
In all of my religious education as a child (called catechism, back then), a personal relationship with Jesus was never mentioned. It was always memorizing the catechism and other things about God and the Church.
In the last couple of years, our religious education has been transitioning to using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Its goal is to help children, from an early age, build a personal relationship with the Lord. The sessions are held in dedicated spaces, called atriums, which have reproductions of Catholic items (for example, an altar and all things used in the Mass) and symbols. To this point, the atriums have been at Christ King; the opening of an atrium here at Pius has been delayed by the pandemic, but it will open this summer for K3-K5.
The children learn the basics of our faith, but, first and foremost, they build a personal relationship with the Lord. That strong relationship will help them weather the challenges that they will face as they transition into adulthood more than simply having information.
I strongly recommend this program for our children. And perhaps the children will help their parents strengthen their relationship with the Lord, as the parents are accompanying them.
Please keep our Director of Formation for Children (Samantha El-Azem), her assistants, and all our children in your prayers, that all may grow in a strong personal relationship with the Lord. I encourage you to enroll your child in this wonderful program by calling Samantha.
May we, also grow in our personal relationship with our Good Shepherd! God bless.
Church sign of the week: Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.
This week we are called to focus on the SECOND chapter of Living the Gift of Sunday. The three relevant pages for this week, as well as a video of a parishioner sharing what Sunday means to him, are available here. I invite you, as a family, to spend time this week with chapter TWO: Sunday is a Day of Peace.
This Friday, April 23rd, the 10 martyrs from the diocese of our sister parish will be beatified in Quiché, Guatemala. Please take a few minutes of prayer on Friday in solidarity with our sister parish and all those who have suffered violence.
Our reading from the first letter of St. John reminds us of what is crucial if we want to live out our belief in Jesus Christ: The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
And what are His commandments? Love of God as shown through love of neighbor. That is very clear from various places in the Gospels, not the least of which is the parable of the Last Judgment: When I was hungry, you gave me to eat…a stranger and you welcomed me…ill and you cared for me…in prison and you visited me…
We cannot say we love God if we are not showing it through love of others. We all have been given time, talent, and treasure that we can share with those in need. Are we doing it? Do we visit or call those who are homebound or in institutions? Do we use our education and skills to help those in need? Do we support worthwhile causes?
All of our religious practice needs to be helping us show love of God through love of neighbor. I invite us this week to reflect on how we are doing and how we could do better. God bless.
Church sign of the week: If excuses came to church, the pews would be full.
Our services during Holy Week went very well. On behalf of all of our community, I thank Kathy Wellenstein and all the musicians and ministers who gave of their time and talent so that we could celebrate these special events in the life, death and resurrection of Christ our Savior. And we can’t forget Bobby Pantuso SDS, who live streamed the Triduum for us. May God bless all of you for your
This week we are called to focus on the first chapter of Living the Gift of Sunday. This booklet is available in the parish office, outside the main church door and online. The three relevant pages for this week, as well as a video of a parish family sharing what Sunday means to them, are available on our website and Facebook pages. I invite you, as a family, to spend time this week with chapter one: Sunday is a Day of Christ’s Resurrection.
Our Gospel this weekend has Jesus appearing twice to His disciples, the first time on Easter Sunday, the second time a week later with doubting Thomas present. Let’s reflect on the 11 apostles a moment (remember, Judas is out of the picture).
As they walked with Jesus, the apostles knew Jesus was special and had special power. They were feeling important as members of His inner circle and looking forward to being MORE important (e.g., James and John coming with their mother to ask for the first and second places in the kingdom).
Then came Jesus’ arrest. They ran away, denied Him. They were hiding in a locked room in fear. They were hollow and empty; their pride and grandiose plans were shattered.
In this state, emptied of selfish desires and feeling very vulnerable and alone, they were ready for the Holy Spirit. After His resurrection, Jesus appears to them and does three things: He tells them to be at peace, He confers the Holy Spirit on them, and He gives them a commission.
There were other times before His death that Jesus had told them to be at peace (e.g., when the storm was tossing their boat), but they could not receive the Holy Spirit while they were full of ambition and selfishness. It is the same for us. Jesus wishes us peace and He offers us His Spirit to strengthen us, so that we can bring His love to the world. But, if we are selfish and proud, we will block it. The more we know we are needy, the more room there is for the peace and Spirit of Jesus.
I invite us to reflect this week on the apostles before and after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. How much are we ambitious and full of ourselves, as they were before Jesus died? How can we grow to understand and feel more fully our neediness and dependency on Jesus and His Spirit? All of this, ultimately, is to make us better disciples, bringing the Good News to others. May God bless us as we strive to grow as disciples!
Church sign of the week: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.
Happy Easter! May our celebration of the gift of our salvation inspire us to share the Good News with others!
I would be commenting on Holy Week, but that will have to wait until the next bulletin, since this letter is due the Friday BEFORE Holy Week! I thank those who took the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our service on March 23rd.
Please note the information on “Living the Gift of Sunday,” which you can find in the April newsletter (which should have arrived this past week) and on our website. I hope you can take advantage of this 10-week reflection opportunity, as individuals and especially as families.
The basic message to us as we celebrate Easter is that after suffering and death comes resurrection, a gift that Jesus bought for us with His life.
What we have celebrated the past four days mirrors the cycle of life: in the fall flowers die, leaves fall from the trees, and seemingly death settles in and stays through winter. However, with spring comes resurrection and we rejoice as the trees begin to grow leaves and the first flowers emerge from the dormant earth. What does that say to us about what we have lived through this past year?
Perhaps because I have always been interacting with people and continuing many of my normal duties (even when my local community was quarantined with Covid, the five of us prayed and ate together and I continued my ministry from home), the pandemic has not weighed heavily on me. However, my pastoral ministry has made me realize that, for many people, it has been a long winter that followed the closing down of activities a year ago.
Where are we in the pandemic? February? March? April? How close are we to spring? We don’t know. But we DO know that spring and the resurrection will come: Jesus has promised! Spring and summer might not look exactly as they did before, but we can make sure that they are better by our attitude.
If we have been looking at the past and pining for it, I invite us to use Easter to turn our minds away from missing the past to the future and how we can make it better than any past. What have I learned during this past year? What is REALLY important and what should my priorities be? How can I make the new “normal,” whatever it will be, better than the past?
With a positive attitude and resolve, we can do it. It doesn’t help to pine for the past; we need to use what we learned this past year to make the future better! I invite us to reflect on this as we celebrate the great feast of the Resurrection. God bless.
Church sign of the week: If excuses came to church, the pews would be full.