So what’s up? We tend to forget that there are some really, really, good Priests and Pastors out there who truly deserve our support and prayers. Remember, the ones closest to God are attacked the hardest. Let’s continue to pray for their sanctity, and to withstand Satan’s attacks and temptations. Not just them, but all our religious and ministers of the Church of God.
You probably missed me and Deacon Mike this past weekend. We were on our annual Deacons Retreat.
Noise: Have you ever wondered how our parents, grandparents and great grandparents survived without IPODS, cell phones, Xboxes, computers and (gasp!) even the TV? Today it just seems that almost everyone is either plugged in or jacked up to something! I mean, could you imagine great grandma at the dinner table cranking out tunes on her IPOD while you’re sitting there shaking your head? Yet how many of us are doing just that. We are getting out of touch with reality. If I’m on the IPOD blasting out my ears, how do I hear the sounds of life...the birds chirping and singing, the children playing, the stores opening in the morning? We used to associate sounds and smells with growing up. Remember the smell of fresh baked bread as you walked by the Italian bakery, or the sounds of Mr. Sullivan opening up the grocery store? We need some silence…God can’t get through if we can’t hear Him. What would you think if you saw Jesus jamming on his MP3 player, or checking his cell phone while you were trying to pray to him? I figured as much.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always take the time to thank our Pastor for serving us. Luv ya!
- Deacon Phil
So what’s up?
Questions. Asking this of teenagers is like a prelude to the sinking of the Titanic…be careful what you ask for. Actually it usually goes quite well and the children are satisfied with the answers. Here’s one: If I believe in God, why should I go to church? This is not a question to get angry or frustrated about. At some point in our lives most of us may have asked this. It is a question of discernment. Which is my answer?
A. It’s biblical. (It is)
B. Jesus went to worship (Synagogue), and if it’s good enough for him, well it’s good enough for me! (He did)
C. As Christians we believe in the “second” baptism, which is baptism by the Holy Spirit. This baptism is given to strengthen and edify the Church. (I didn’t make this up…please read Acts of the Apostles). Imagine the Holy Spirit stopping by and giving us a gift that he asks us to share. Instead we throw it in a chest. Each day he gives us a gift…we throw it in a chest keeping it to ourselves. Who are we strengthening? Who are we edifying? Sure we believe in God, but so did the Pharisees and Sadducees. It may not be today, or tomorrow, next week or even next year that someone may need us to share this gift with them. And when the time comes, where are we? Last year I said these exact words in a homily. After Mass a woman came up to me crying…she said, “thank you so much for preaching that today. I stopped going to church for ten years. A month after coming back a woman standing next to me at Mass was crying. I don’t even know why I did it, but during the sign of peace, I hugged her and said…Jesus loves you and so do I. I’ve never done that before. The young lady hugged her back even more and started crying even harder. Afterward she revealed that she was planning to kill herself that very night and came to church wanting to hear that someone loved her or she would go through with it.” Nuff said.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for peace…luv ya! Deacon Phil
So what’s up? Stewardship. If you haven’t considered it, please think about it. Just in case you didn’t know, stewardship is at the heart of being a Christian. I can hear the sighs already…”oh no, he’s going to talk about money.” Stewardship is not just about money…it’s about being good care takers of all that God our father has blessed us with. My friends, this includes Mother Earth and all life on this planet, wild as well as human. I refer you to the book of Genesis, chapter 1. We can’t save the world by ourselves, but we can help try, and I’m sorry, this is one of those things where ACTION is just as important as prayer and faith. Here we go!
Time: Have you ever heard someone say, my time is precious? Time is a blessing. Some of us seem to never have enough, and some of us seem to have too much. You will see this distinction with all things that God blesses us with, especially talent and treasure. It is very rare that one hasn’t been blessed with at least one of these, if not all three. There’s a reason for this. Just as the Father, so too can Jesus and the Holy Spirit know and understand what lies in someone’s heart, what and how much we can deal with, what and how much we can be trusted with. Things we don’t even know ourselves. This is where prayer, faith and enlightenment comes in, driven by the Holy Spirit. One of its many jobs is discernment and direction. Now you’re probably saying, “now hold Deacon, my time is my business not God’s”. Really? Once again I refer you to sacred scripture and to writings of the Saints. God pays attention to time, serious attention. Remember what Jesus said to Peter, James and John in the garden? “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37). Hmmm…there’s the question to ask about going to Mass on Sunday! You see, He doesn’t ask for much. Whether it’s at Church, or in prayer He just wants some. When a woman he was advising was apprehensive about the amount of time she had to spend in court as concerning her prayer and spiritual time, St. Francis De Sales said this, “For if you are faithful to God, He will never fail you; even though He has to stop the sun and the moon, He will give you enough time to perform your exercises and all else you must do.” Wow, isn’t this awesome? When are we going to realize that when we give Him something, we get more of it back? Yes, that includes time. So remember, we give Him the best of what we have, He continues to bless us with more of it…including time.
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always take the time to pray for your Pastor.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” It’s a question he asks each one of us. Notice he asks this three times. To love someone takes a lot of work and sacrifice...I want you to really think about this, because it does. Ultimately Peter would be sacrificing his life, but in this love affair…Jesus does all the work. Making the work joyful, giving us the strength to keep going when we feel we just can’t go on. This is the Jesus we meet in the Sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus doesn’t criticize Peter, nor does he throw in his face what Peter has done to him. He loves Peter and also knows that Peter is bound to his denial of him and needs to be healed. Being in sin binds the fruit of grace that the Spirit will bring…and Peter won’t be ready for it and neither will we. Sometimes we have to keep coming back regularly (just as we do when we go to see a doctor). But we have to be like Peter too. Notice he doesn’t make excuses for what he’s done, nor does he try to run. Jesus already knows. In saying yes to the Lord’s three questions Peter acknowledges his sin, is sorry for it, realizes that he has hurt the Lord and doesn’t want to hurt him again, and is ready to move on. Like I said, Jesus already knows but he wants to hear it from our own lips and we need to hear it too, we need to move on. Satan loves when we wallow in our sins, preventing the Holy Spirit from taking us to the next level. Having us believe that we’re the worst and God wants nothing to do with us. Jesus loves us, and wants everything to do with us. Do we love him?
Until next time…may Jesus keep you smiling, may God’s grace shine on you and always pray for our Pastor …he loves us and so do I!
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Our Lord? That’s right our Lord, as in our God, and also our king. God is always draped in mystery. To be honest with you our faith as Catholics is draped in mystery. There are many examples, such as the Trinity, the Eucharist and so on, but can I tell you something? This is just a fancy way of saying, we don’t know. You can’t explain a mystery; you have to figure it out. Sometimes, the answers are quite simple and sometimes they’re complicated. You know, it’s the simple ones we have problems with. We expect the answers to these mysteries to be complicated and exhaustive, when the truth is that they’re so simple…they’re staring us right in the face! The problem is, is that we can’t see or understand because we are trying to figure things out on our own. Divine understanding requires divine help, usually in the form of the Holy Spirit. It’s always good to pray and ask for understanding with help from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the one that gives power of interpretation, wisdom and understanding in these matters. We also need faith, for it is faith that helps us to believe. So do we believe that Jesus is our Lord, our God? The question of why should have been answered at Christmas time. Um, we do believe Jesus is God right? This could be tough to digest, but imagine you’re a super hero with fantastic powers, and you have to give up those powers willingly. Because you’re formless you have to take on a form (you don’t want to be scaring the daylight out of people), so you choose a human form. You are now human and vulnerable. You have to go through human stages of life to experience all the things humans experience, birth, growth and development, being cared for, being taught and so forth. As you develop, you realize that you are a physical manifestation of a whole, bigger being, and you must empty yourself completely for this bigger being who you are a part of to be able to manifest its power through you, allowing that being’s power source (the Holy Spirit) to flow through you. So you are an individual, but you are part of the bigger being, sharing thoughts, emotions, the Holy Spirit, etc. Pray about it.
Until next time… remember to pray for our pastor. Love ya! Deacon Phil
Happy New Year! Wow, another year come and gone! It seems it blew by. My prayer is that each and every one of us has a very blessed new year. A year filled with good health, peace and happiness; a tall order for sure, but not impossible with prayer and faith. I did enjoy seeing all the new faces during the Christmas Masses, I pray that we will continue to see those faces on a regular basis; um…we are one holy family lol! So what makes us a HOLY family? If you answered baptism, can I get a woo woo!! That’s right! Baptism is what unites us as a family in the Church. Mary, our mother, symbolizes the new Eve, and it is fitting starting off the New Year by honoring her. I mean, could you even imagine what would’ve happened if she had not said, “yes”? It also slows things down a bit by praying along with her for the things a mother longs for for her children, health, peace, wisdom, and reunion with God our father.
There’s a whole lot going on with the Epiphany than meets the eye. The Magi represent us as Gentiles. The gifts they bear are not only expensive but represent different aspects of what the Christ child will mean: Gold, royalty, kingship…frankincense, anointed, Godliness…myrrh, burial perfume signifying that he will die. It’s a simple story, but if you blink you’ll miss everything in it. There’s obedience, joy, intrigue, and deception. Satan is already in full swing through Herod and has control, hence the deception of Herod to the Magi. Notice that Mary is in the middle of all this…and she should be. She’s there from the very beginning, and she’s there at the very end. In the beginning as a mom, and in the end as a mom and a disciple. We may not have much to give the king, but we do have our hearts…we could at least give that.
Until next time… have a healthy, and peaceful New Year. Love ya! - Deacon Phil
Christmas is not just a day, but an entire season. It’s celebrated all the way up to the Epiphany. No, it doesn’t mean Christmas gifts every day, but it does mean a celebration of joy that lasts for more than a day, much like Easter. I love everything about Christmas! From the decorations to the food, from the music to the gifts. I especially enjoy the Midnight Mass. But I also remember that it’s a time of sadness for loved ones who have passed at this time of year, couples that have broken up, marriages that ended in divorce, the homeless and the poor, children who receive nothing, the single and the loveless, those lost to alcohol and drugs, the list goes on. For these I sit in front of my decorated tree, playing my blue Christmas music, and cry. This is why the Christ child is so important to me, to remind me of a world he was willing to be born into. An imperfect world, a world full of misery and shame, but also a world filled with hope. A world filled with decency and faith. Do you think this was an accident? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Abraham asked God if He would destroy the cities even if there were ten people worth saving and God said He wouldn’t. It’s a lot like that today…Jesus came into the world because there were people worth saving. I love that baby, but you know what? I like the fact that God Himself sent His only son into the world to grant us his grace. What I like even more is the King who is to come…the King who’ll destroy all those sad things I mentioned. No one should be crying at Christmas, unless they’re crying tears of joy. Please remember those less fortunate this Christmas. God bless us…every one. Have a very merry Christmas.
Until next time… have a great Christmas. Love ya!
“Do you know or have youheard? The Lord is theeternal God, creator of the ends of theearth. He does not faint or grow weary,and his knowledge is beyond allscrutiny.” - Isaiah 40:28, NAB
Last Sunday we celebrated the 2nd Sunday of Advent. It should have been a day of praise. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Think of it as a happy Lent. Everything we do is in anticipation of the coming of the King. It’s a season of quiet waiting, and we wait with joy.
So, do you know or have you heard? It’s not like it’s a secret you know. That God is eternal and is the creator of all life. Since He is the source of life, He doesn’t grow tired, He doesn’t get weak. He doesn’t suffer from the human affliction. The human body grows weak, faint and weary, but not God. That’s why there’s a spirit of Christmas…it goes on and on. We never get tired of Christmas. We get weary of the consumerism of it, but not the spirit of it. The Lord helps us out by “juicing” us when we start to get spiritually faint or weary. Christmas is an embodiment of this. It seems, no matter how tired we get of it…we have a little more strength, a little more spirit. We strive to understand its focal point…God. And with that we keep hoping and praying for peace, and joy. Not the kind that quits after the season, but the kind that’s just like God…eternal. We have a lot of questions, but we’re not listening to the answers. Those answers are all around us. If we just stop, look and listen…we just may see the eternal God in all of it.
Until next time….pray for peace…luv ya!
My hope is that everyone is having a good Advent season. What makes for a good Advent? Why, much of the same things that makes for a good Lent. Prayer, Reconciliation, scripture reading, Holy Communion and even fasting help, they are all great and help brings us closer to God. But have you ever thought of what really makes a worthwhile Advent? If you answered putting the Christ back into Xmas you’ve nailed it. Although the “baby Jesus” we are familiar with at Christmas is a wonderful sight, we need to remember there is something powerful that lies beneath that image. The image of the baby in the manger is a reminder of what level God is ready to stoop to in order to have us back in His presence and that only He can provide the true joy and happiness to fill the void that the darkness of sin has left. No man can promise joy and happiness like God can. That image of baby Jesus cries out the state of man and his spirit: vulnerable, poor, lowly, fit only to be with animals, and yet God wants more for us. So He came down to our level to show us the way. So it’s the things I mentioned before that make for a great Advent: taking care of other’s needs, loving others for who they are and not expecting love in return, not judging, reconciling our relationships, helping the poor, you get my drift. Below that very same image lays the powerful one, the King who is to come. The mature Christian version of that same image is the hope that is to come. If we look at the image of Christ as described in John’s Book of Revelation, it’s anything but cute, and can even be downright scary, and it’s meant to be. (RV 1: 13-16) Remember, that image stayed with Jesus to the end…weak. Remember Luke’s Gospel? Yep, weak. But as the risen King that is to come that image had to change. Remember, this King has to fight! He can’t look all cute and cuddly battling the likes of Satan and his Antichrist. The lamb has now turned into the Lion. But if we are ready, there’s nothing to fear and we recognize Him for who He is, our loving savior. Are we ready to meet the King this Christmas?
Until next time…have a great Advent and please keep those less fortunate in your prayers … luv ya! Deacon Phil
Psalm 121 is a short Psalm. It is only eight verses long, and titled the Lord My Guardian. It is a song. Let me sing it to you, shhhh……
“I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God will not allow your foot to slip; your guardian does not sleep. Truly, the guardian of Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun cannot harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil, will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.”
Isn’t that a beautiful song? It requires a deep understanding that the protection being afforded here is not based on the physical but on the spiritual. Jesus spent a lot of time trying to get us to understand that our relationship with God is not only physical, but spiritual. So much so, that God would allow the body to die in order to save something of much more value to him…our souls. Understand that those who have faith can cross that border not only in spirit, but in body. Jesus showed us this through his many miracles. He spent time on this because it’s something that’s important to us, but he also wanted us to realize that there is something much more powerful in our lives…and that’s our guardian. If we trust in the words of this song, the Lord will help us to realize that He guards us always…even in death, and that even death cannot harm us.
Until next time…please rely on the Lord regularly…luv ya! Deacon Phil