Spring Break – A Reflection

SR Letterhead LogoAt the close of a recent parish meeting, we were invited to pray for special intentions. One parent asked for prayers for a college-age son about to take his spring break in Florida. As a mother, “Florida over spring break” was code for all my worries about the evils that could befall children.

In the next weeks, many of us, intentionally, will do something to put winter behind us and look to the easier months ahead. That’s a good thing, especially if we do for our spirit what we do for our body–thus, my plea, my intercessory prayer for all of us here in our parishes – Holy Family and St. Robert.

We are about to enter into our “high holy days,” the most important and spiritually nourishing time of our liturgical year – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, the Triduum.

Is it conceivable that to enjoy the fullness of Easter 2015, we’ll let ourselves enter into the almost unimaginable vulnerability of Jesus Christ? How could we go about experiencing Jesus’ vulnerability and self-gift?

HOLY THURSDAY OF THE LORD’S SUPPER: Because we are so sorry for our sins, let us ask Jesus to “pass over us” with his great mercy. Let us thank Jesus for the remembrance of his body and blood – for his enduring gift of Eucharist which sustains our parish communities.

At our parish celebration of Holy Thursday, let us offer Jesus our feet and recognize that not only our feet, but our entire body is a gift of our Creator God – that we, like Jesus, come from God and that we will use our feet to return to God as we live to serve others.

GOOD FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD: Let us try to find a new way to enter into the passion of Jesus Christ. For the rest of the year, how will we “ever glory in the Cross of Christ?” Will our Easter experience lead us to “lift high the cross?”

Can we, by a new way of entering into the passion, become so strong and bold to make Jesus’ gift of the cross a source of joy and of our daily spiritual growth?

HOLY SATURDAY AND EASTER SUNDAY: And for 50 days more to that great feast of Pentecost, will we allow ourselves the unabashed joy to sing and shout, give one another hugs and high-fives, and celebrate with festive foods, because in the Resurrection we have the greatest gift that any Savior could accomplish?

With the TRIDUUM, we have before us a life-changing opportunity. Will we make Thursday, April 2, Friday, April 3, and Easter, April 4, 2015, our most memorable spring break? Jesus assures us it will be worth the effort in the amazing blessings that come our way!

Rosemary Murphy

St. Robert Pastoral Staff

Surrender: A Time to Die – Father Dennis’ Homily for March 22, 2015

frdennisWhat was your reaction when you first heard about the martyrdom of the twenty-one Coptic Christians killed in Libya? I was stunned. I could not believe that we live in a world where we are still martyred because we believe in Jesus Christ. I felt a deep sense of loss at the death of these my brothers.

Timothy Schilling in his article, “Rediscovering Jesus,” in the March issue of America, states, “While Christ has definitively ‘saved’ us, we still have to accept that salvation and allow it to flower within us.” This becomes challenging because we live in a secular society in which the highest choice is the choice for oneself. How do we move beyond our self-centeredness in order to embrace the salvation Jesus has won for us? It begins by going into our inner room of ourselves, asking the Holy Spirit to help us create a place for Jesus. Fashioning this place for Jesus means we have to die ourselves. For some of us it means letting go of the grudge we have carried around for years. For others it may mean focusing less on ourselves and more on the people who are so much a part of our lives. Still for others it may mean forgiving ourselves for a mistake we made a long time ago. In all of us there is something that has to die in order to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The great temptation is fear. Even when we want to let go, our great fear is, “What’s going to happen or what is going to take its place?” Jesus had to confront fear in His life as He faced His impending death. We hear Jesus in the gospel say, “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ (John 12: 27a)” Jesus overcomes His fear by focusing upon the fruit of His dying. Like Jesus we too can overcome our fear by focusing upon the fruit of our letting go.

The ultimate goal of entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is to become His disciple. Disciples are those who have put on Jesus Christ. What is on the top of Jesus’ list? It is the love of God and of our neighbor. His whole mission of reconciling us to God rests in the love of God and our neighbor. Let us, therefore, put on Jesus Christ. Let us get to know Him better by learning to think as He does, to join Him in seeking what He seeks and loving what He loves. What has to die within us so that we can think as He does, seek what He seeks, and love as He loves?

Returning to the True Light – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for March 15, 2015

FrPeterPatrickLast Sunday we heard in the gospel Jesus cleansing the temple. St. Paul sees the Church (us) both as Christ’s Body and God’s Temple: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

When we realize that we are the temple and giving Jesus a chance to cleanse our hearts, we are returning to the true light. We were given the light at our baptism. John’s gospel teaches us that Jesus was the light that came into the world. In this light we know ourselves to be sinners, but we are not condemned. Instead, we have been saved because we have been forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus died for all humanity, those who believe and those who don’t believe. Salvation is not a onetime incident, it’s a process. Each one of us needs to work for our own salvation, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert.” Actually, it was not the image of that snake set on a pole that saved the Israelites from death – as if it had magical or superstitious powers – but, as the Hebrew Scripture itself explains, their faith in a saving God (cf. Wisdom 16:7). In other words, the image of a snake was only a visible reminder or an external sign of a saving God who invited them to have faith in him and repent for their sins. In a similar manner, whoever looks at the uplifted (i.e. crucified and exalted) Christ in faith and a repentant heart is healed from the poison of sin.

This bring us to the question; “How well do we respond to the word of God, or how obedient are we?”  In the desert, the Israelites were only required to look at the serpent once they were bitten. Those who didn’t obey died. For us, we are so blessed to have Jesus who gave his life for our sake. The Son of God, incarnated in love, came not to condemn the world, but to save it.

Jesus is the light that has come into the world, to remove all the darkness in our life. He is only asking us to give him those areas in our lives are full of darkness, evil and sins. We wish to keep our sins hidden, even from God. Jesus has come to reveal our sins so that we may be forgiven. This is indeed the Good News; it is the reason for our rejoicing in this season of Lent and throughout our lives.

Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son of Man will be raised up so that those who believe in him will have eternal life. We are not condemned. Instead, we have been saved because we have been forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Psalms 51:3 says; “For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3). Therefore, my brothers and sisters, let us confess our sins and receive the graces from the sacrament of reconciliation.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Peter Patrick

Re-turn to the Light – Father Dennis’ Homily for March 15

frdennisIf you were given a very precious gift that could be used daily, what would you do with it? Because of its value would you put it on display, but never use it? Would you put it in a safe place in order to protect it? Or would you use the gift for what it was intended?

We have been given the most precious gift of all—the gift of salvation.

St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God, (Eph. 2: 8).” St. Paul reminds us of what God has done for us out of love for us. The starting point for understanding the gift we have been given by God the Father is His great love for us. Right now, do you feel loved by God? Think about this for a moment. Do you feel loved by God? Most of us probably would say, “Intellectually I can understand that God loves me.” I am speaking about understanding it with the heart. This is the only place where we can comprehend this great love. We don’t go around saying, “I am intellectually in love with my wife, or my husband, or my children.” This doesn’t hold any water.

For the vast majority of us, we can’t image how God could love someone like ourselves who are sinful. God knows our sinfulness. St. Paul tells us today, “When we were dead in our transgressions, (God) brought us to life with Christ…because of the great love He had for us, (Eph. 2: 4).” A few weeks ago I asked you, “What is your greatest sin?” Your greatest sin is like a drop of water in the furnace of God’s love. When God approaches us, He realizes that He stands on holy ground.

Not only are we loved by God, brought to life in Christ, raised up with Him, and are seated with Him, WE ARE HIS HANDIWORK. God is shaping us into an image of Himself. As the psalmist said, “It is wonderful to  behold, (Psalm 119:).” It is all about what God is doing with us, through us and for us. How do we respond to all of this? Our only response is to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. Believing is not of the mind, but of the heart. Jesus in today’s gospel tells us if we believe in Him we will be saved and we shall have eternal life.   Believing is living in the light—living in Jesus Christ. The Easter Vigil begins with the procession of the paschal candle during which is sung three times, “Christ, Our Light.” It is by His Light and in His Light we are to live.

When we conform ourselves to God’s image we are living in the truth because that is how God made us. In the book of Genesis we read, “God created man in His image; in the divine image he created him; male and female He created them, (Genesis 1: 27).” This Sunday God is inviting us to come live in the Light.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis    

 

 

A Time for Action – Father Dennis’ Homily for March 8, 2015

frdennisUsing your imagination, enter into our gospel story. Close your eyes. If there is any tension in your body, just let it go. Place yourself in the temple area. It is crowded because it is Passover. You have come to offer a sacrifice with your family. People are pushing. All of a sudden you see a man with a whip. He is angry, but is driven with a purpose. He begins to drive the oxen, sheep, and doves out of the temple area. The animals are fleeing as he cracks his whip. You are startled to hear the sound of the money changers coins hitting the temple floor. The man with the whip has turned their tables over, saying, “Take these doves out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace.” It is when He says “My Father’s house” that has caught your attention. You feel drawn to Him. The temple guards are rushing around, trying to bring order to the chaos. He turns to you and says, “You are my temple.” Slowly bring yourself back to the present moment.

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, asks this question, “Are you not aware that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor.3:16) The temple Jesus speaks about in today’s gospel (John 2:13-25) is not the one in Jerusalem, but us – we are the temple of the living God. It is this temple we have made into a marketplace. Our first reading, from the book of Exodus (20:1-17), speaks about being brought out of the place of slavery. What is it that holds us bondage – that keeps us a like a slave? What is it that has made the temple of the Living God a marketplace? In God’s temple, God is center. What is center in our lives? If it isn’t God, whatever it is needs to be cleansed, because this is how we made the Father’s house a marketplace.

Maybe cleansing is not so much as getting rid of, but of putting virtues into our actions that we believe should be there. How do we cultivate these virtues so that the temple of the Living God is truly a house of the Father’s presence? This third Sunday of Lent is asking us to take a long, hard look at ourselves. It is not easy to come to grips with the un-Godliness in our lives, but if we truly want to become and intentional disciple of Jesus Christ, we must confront this un-Godliness within us. On our own we cannot accomplish it, but when we give in to the Spirit and give in to the presence of Jesus Christ we are made clean, a temple that houses the presence to the Father.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis

Let Us Embrace Our Identity As the Body of Christ – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for March 8, 2015

FrPeterPatrickToday’s readings are calling us to embrace our identity as the Body of Christ.

Jesus does not simply cleanse the Jewish temple; rather, by eliminating the very reason for its existence—to offer sacrificial worship in the place where God was said to dwell—Jesus indeed himself becomes the Temple. Until the coming of Jesus, God had dwelt among the Chosen People in a place. But once the “Temple” of Jesus’ Body is raised up, God will dwell among all people forever in the very Person of Jesus himself. Meaning we are the temple of God.

Thanks to the theology born of Saint Paul’s conversion, this image of Jesus as God’s living Temple radiates outward from Jesus’ Person to embrace, first, the Church born of his Passion, and then each of us individual disciples of whom that Church community is formed. On the road to Damascus, the Lord asked, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” To Paul’s question, “Who are you?” came the reply, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4–5). Understandably, then, Paul sees the Church (us) both as Christ’s Body and God’s Temple: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17). This is not abstract theology, but practical discipleship, with real life consequences!

As St. Augustine puts it: “God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” Lent is a time we need to rebuild the “temple” of our hearts and minds by cleansing them of all profanities, evil, unjust and exploitative attitudes so that we can worship God in spirit and truth.  My brothers and sisters, I will never shy off saying we need to keep our house in order through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Just as Jewish leaders asked Jesus: “Are you going to build it again in three days? It has taken forty-six years to build…!” I know some people here might ask a similar question if not the same; “What about me, and I haven’t gone for confession for years?” We are so blessed because once we confess our sins, it will not take hours, or three days, but an instant. What a merciful and gracious God we have.

I like giving the analogy of going to confession with going to a doctor. The doctor will not be able to treat you unless you tell him or her how you are feeling and your symptoms. It is the same with confession, you need to tell the priest your sins, and in person of Christ, you will receive forgiveness and grace. This takes us back to the first reading; we need to reflect on the Ten Commandments of God and see which we have broken and ask God for forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation. The cleansing of the temple of Jerusalem by Jesus was a sign that indicated his desire to do an inner cleansing of our hearts and minds, if ever we are willing to submit ourselves to his cleansing power. Since we are in the Lenten season, today’s gospel text calls us to continue the process of inner purification of the temple of our hearts.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Peter Patrick

Women’s Retreat – Christ Renews His Parish

Cross

Is your life filled up but not fulfilled?
Are you feeling rushed to meet your life’s demands
but not feeling the rush of meeting your expectations?
Maybe it’s time to retreat from your life’s hassles
and surrender to a retreat.

 Christ Renews His Parish retreats have spread across the country since the program was founded in Ohio in 1969. These retreats feature faith-sharing, prayer, good conversation, and laughter. At Holy Family, there have been both men’s and women’s CRHP retreats at least once a year since 2011. We have been asked to share this wonderful program with the women of St Robert Parish. We have created our own one-day retreat so you can have this great experience.

Saturday, April 25
8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
3:30 Reconciliation with Mass at 4:30

 All activities take place at the Parish Center, St Robert’s Parish

 Continental breakfast and lunch included! Suggested donation $20 for the day.

 What can you expect at the retreat? Listen to some of our past participants:

 I experienced faith-sharing, personal stories, affirmation, food, wine, tears and laughter. I could tell you of faiths that have deepened, anguish shared, prayer lives enriched and the Spirit encountered. But telling is a pale imitation of the experience. Why not “Come and See”?

 – Sue Wustrack (Fall 2011) 

“I am a busy mom with many commitments – when I made an effort to keep my calendar clear, it worked! Because of the weekend, I got to know the women in a deeper way. The retreat deepened my faith in God, people and in my Church life.”

 – Therese Ciofani (Fall 2012)

Ready to learn more? Please contact:
Rosemary Murphy 332-1164 ex. 3014
rmurphy@strobert.org