Spiritual Reflection 6/9/2024

“We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” -Acts 5:32

While growing up, many of my days were filled with playing sports of all types…sometimes on organized teams in the community and other times in “pick up” games in the neighborhood.   As we would organize for those games in the neighborhood, the two “captains” would carefully begin to choose the members of their team, while the rest of us stood waiting for our name to be called.  I can remember hoping that I wouldn’t be the last chosen; seen as the least valuable player for a team. 

Many of us may recall events in our lives when we waited to be chosen, perhaps it be after an audition for a play or interview for a new job; it might be a letter of acceptance to the college of our choice or to become part of a new organization.  Too often we place so much emphasis on being chosen that it defines our life’s worth. 

In many places in the Sacred Scriptures, we are reminded of the marvelous gift of God, calling us to be His own people.  As His chosen children we have been called to fulfill the mission which He has set for us.  It may take us a lifetime or longer to understand, but even in our imperfection, in our limitations and shortcomings, in our unworthiness, God has created us to do Him some service.  From the moment of our being created in His image we are given our worth, and from the moment of our baptism we begin to seek that mission He has in store for us.  The world might not choose us, but God has chosen us.

Remember that you have been chosen by God, called out of darkness into His marvelous light, to fulfill a purpose which God himself has set before the foundation of the world.  You have a purpose for which God has called you.

The following prayer of Saint John Henry Newman reflects our purpose … 

God created me
to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission –
I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next…
Therefore, I will trust Him…
If I am in sickness,
my sickness may serve Him;
in perplexity,
my perplexity may serve Him;
if I am in sorrow,
my sorrow may serve Him…
He does nothing in vain;
He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it,
He knows what He is about.

-Fr. Kennedy

Spiritual Reflection 5/26/204

A few years ago, I was reading the paper and I saw a section titled in big bold letters “He Did it His Way”. The article was about a talk show host that retired and how he was so successful through the years because He did it His own way. As Catholics, we are challenged in this because worldly success doesn’t always match up with Christian Success.  

One can be successful in the eyes of the secular world by relying on oneself.  And one can be seen as unsuccessful in the world by relying on God. Though we may tend to rely on ourselves – have we ever thought of what life would be like if we didn’t have to? What if we had a source that we could tap into, a power that slowly transforms us into the person that we are truly meant to be?

In the Gospel today, we are reminded that we do have this power source.  The Holy Spirit. The bond of love between God the Father and God the Son.  He is their gift to us. The Holy Spirit gives us new life, new power.  All of us who have been baptized and confirmed have received the fullness of grace of the Holy Spirit, but sometimes we don’t know this.

There is an old analogy about receiving the Holy Spirit, but not knowing it. It is like we have a glass of milk and we want to make chocolate milk. What do we do? We take chocolate syrup and squeeze and squeeze it into the milk.  After that, we may have an inch of chocolate at the bottom of the glass. So, what is it now? It is white milk with chocolate just sitting on the bottom. When we were baptized and confirmed, God filled us and poured into us His Holy Spirit, but sometimes that Spirit just sits there.  We may not have allowed ourselves to be stirred up into a flame. Like what we have to do to make chocolate milk – we have to stir it up.

So how do we allow God to stir up the Spirit in our lives? The only true way we can do this and engage in this new life is by surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit. It is both as simple and as difficult as that. Every day we need to pray to the Holy Spirit, “I will do whatever you want” and mean it, or “Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

But Surrendering to the Holy Spirit is frightening, because it means giving up control. It means doing things even though we can’t connect all of the dots at first. It means being vulnerable and it is tough to be vulnerable. But when we learn to surrender, there will be opportunities that He will give us over and over again in our lives.  Opportunities that give us chances to rely on Him.  And the more we engage in those opportunities, the more we will know that they are from God and that He is doing the heavy lifting. Then we will have more confidence in Him.  We will start to learn how trustworthy and how loving He is. So, our challenge is to let the Holy Spirit be stirred into us, and to pray for this each day.

And then – our job is to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit use us to bring people to Himself. And when we do that, people will see us on fire knowing that we are doing it His way!!!

Spiritual Reflection 5/19/2024

As we celebrate Pentecost during this year of Eucharistic Revival, we praise and thank God for the power of His Holy Spirit manifested in all of the sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist. In the holy sacrifice of the Mass the Lord Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as nourishment for our pilgrim journey and as a pledge of eternal life. Before the words of consecration are spoken, the priest proclaims the prayer of epiclesis (from the ancient Greek meaning “calling down from on high” or “invocation”). The epiclesis is essential to the Eucharistic sacrifice because it is the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the simple gifts of bread and wine so that they can be transformed. Through the words, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion” (n. 1375). 

The priest implores the Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine, to transform these simple elements into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. As revealed in Sacred Scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit is to give new life by way of transformation, true change, and conversion.

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is received at Baptism giving each person a share in the divine life. In Confirmation, one is strengthened and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. In both Baptism and Confirmation, a person is truly changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit and by the sacramental grace bestowed upon the one receiving the sacrament.

The Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles at Pentecost. After receiving the Holy Spirit, they were changed and transformed. No longer were they afraid! Filled with the Holy Spirit, they had the courage to preach the Gospel to all nations, to carry out the works of Jesus Christ and to reconcile sinners.

The prayer of epiclesis and the prayer of consecration are an immersion into the life and love of the Blessed Trinity. The Son freely and willingly offered himself to the Father on the cross for our salvation. The Father and the Son sent the Spirit so that we would never be abandoned.

We participate in Mass to give glory to God, to worship and praise the Blessed Trinity, and to be sanctified. Never should it happen that we participate in Mass and remain unchanged. Receiving the proclaimed Word of God into our hearts and receiving Holy Communion into our very body – how can we not be changed in some way through our participation at Mass? This is a work of the Holy Spirit – to change us; to transform us; to give us life.

Let us lift up our minds and hearts to the Lord at Mass and call down the Holy Spirit in the many ordinary moments of our daily lives, so that we can be changed and transformed and, with the help of God’s grace, become saints.

May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM

Spiritual Reflection 5/5/2024

Peace be with you!

These words that Jesus said to His disciples on “the evening of that first day of the week,” remind us that He offers each of us this precious gift of peace. It was at this first encounter after His Resurrection that He calms their fears and strengthens their faith.  He assists them to see, not with human eyes alone, but with eyes of faith, so that they may experience Peace.

Throughout our lives we experience “firsts”. Events like, a child’s first step or first words; the soft touch of a newborn child’s face; the first day of school; First Communion; embarking upon a new career; a teenager driving the family car without the need of another licensed driver; or any other number of firsts in our lives.  When “firsts” occur, we often begin to view things from a different perspective – almost like seeing things with new eyes.  Although not always mindful of the impact of these experiences, they often bring much joy.

These days of Easter are a time for us to see with new eyes – eyes enlightened by our experience of the Resurrection, enlightened by the outpouring of God’s Love, enlightened by the gift of peace offered to Jesus’ disciples and offered to each of us.  With renewed vision, filled with faith, we leave behind our old ways of thinking.  We confidently approach each situation in our lives with hope.  We look at one another and realize that each of us is part of the Body of Christ, and we try to grasp the immensity of God’s love for us.

During this Easter season, our readings recall the first encounters of the disciples with the Risen Jesus.  The initial response of the disciples is that of disbelief and fear – they aren’t sure if their eyes are deceiving them; they ask themselves could it be Him.  Jesus, knowing their uncertainty, offers to them the assurance that it is He who is present to them.  Their fear and doubt were replaced by joy and peace.  Through their experience of the Risen Christ they were able to see things in a new light and confidently share the news of Jesus’ Resurrection.

We, too, encounter the Risen Christ in many ways.  May our encounters with the Risen Christ help us to see with eyes of faith; giving us true joy and lasting peace.

Recently some of our young members received their First Communion.  May this first encounter with Christ strengthen them for the days ahead and all throughout their lives. And may each of us be renewed in our devotion, love and respect for Jesus the Bread of Life and the peace that He offers.

Peace be with you,
Father Kennedy

Spiritual Reflection 4/28/2024

The famous sculptor Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”  He believed that the creation of the statue was already there and he confirmed this when asked about his famous statue of David. He said, “I created a vision of David in my mind and simply carved away everything that was not David.” 

Very similar to Michelangelo’s David, we all are a block of stone in the hands of the Divine Sculptor, our Heavenly Father.  He has a vision of who He created us to be and works unceasingly to remove all the parts of the block that are not in His vision.  The only difference between the block of stone and us is that the stone did not choose to become the statue of David, but God needs us to ask Him, to let Him work in our lives so that we can become that piece of divine artwork we are all called to be.  He even sent an example of what we were meant to be if we allow Him to sculpt us.  We would be shining examples of His Son, Jesus Christ.

When our parents in the Garden brought sin into the world, we began corrupting the beautiful creation we were meant to be.  We collect debris and burdens which begin to block and hide who we are.  This debris could be fear, anxiety, jealousy – basically all the things that come with sin.  They become rock-hard on us and we are unable to remove them by ourselves. In fact, they become so attached to us that it can be very painful to remove, so we may decide to just live with such burdens.  It can also be painful to have them removed since we hang on so tightly to them.

So God sends His only Son to not only help us remove these burdens, but He asks us to allow Him to carry them for us.  He takes all of our debris and destroys it.  By allowing Christ to do this for us, we become again the vision of creation that we were always meant to be.  By putting our trust in Jesus, we become that divine piece of artwork and when we are seen by the rest of the world, we glorify our Divine Sculptor again, our Father in Heaven.

May Jesus live in our hearts forever.
Deacon Chris

Spiritual Reflection 3/10/2024

The first reading is a striking one this week!  The Lord has tried very hard to reach the Israelite people!  The Lord sent many messengers to His people in order to turn their hearts back to Him and His laws. The Israelites would not listen! 

How often do people try to reach us and we simply won’t listen? There are many people in our lives that try to guide, direct and support us. We have coaches, friends, teachers, parents, priests, sisters, and even siblings try to give us direction! This made me think of Queen of Angels very especially. Last week, we took our standardized testing. Students are given plenty of time to go over each question or problem.  Students are encouraged to go back over their work or use scratch paper to complete problems. Many students listen to the advice or guidance given. Many students work very hard and are very diligent! As with anything, we have a few students that don’t take advantage of those supports.  Like the Israelite people, a few students don’t take the hints or guidance.  It can be hard to take that coaching.

During this week, let us take a step back and reflect on our own lives. Do I take coaching, guidance, and/or criticism well?  If this coaching, guidance, and/or criticism is coming from a person who loves us and cares for us, we should pause and take their words seriously. Who is that person in our life that we trust to guide us to a deeper relationship with Jesus? Like the Israelites, is the Lord sending us a messenger or message to turn our hearts? 

We have about three weeks of Lent left.  There is still time to change our actions, thoughts, and (most importantly) hearts to our Lord!  Let us take advantage of the time remaining!

Spiritual Reflection 3/3/2024

Christian Initiation of Adults or CIA (formerly known as RCIA) is a process initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit through which the non-baptized may believe, be freely converted to the Lord and receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Likewise, those baptized in another Christian Religion or as infants, who did not receive further catechetical formation may choose to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Catholics who seek to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and those who desire to strengthen their understanding of the truths of the Catholic Faith and deepen their relationship with the Lord are also most welcome to participate in CIA! 

The non-baptized or inquirers have opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit and enter a period of evangelization, which is usually about a year, but can be longer. During this time, he/she is introduced to Gospel values and the person of Jesus Christ. After the initial period of catechesis, the inquirer can freely choose to participate in the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Sending to the Cathedral. Our Pastor, Fr. Matthew Windle, accepted all five of our inquirers into the Catechumenate and also presided at their Rite of Sending. On the Vigil of the First Sunday of Lent, our Catechumens and their Godparents traveled to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, where Archbishop Nelson Perez formally ratified their readiness for the reception of the three Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Now called the Elect, they are in the period of Purification and Enlightenment throughout Lent. It is a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion, marked by the Scrutinies which begin today on the third Sunday of Lent and will take place on the fourth and fifth Sundays also. At the beginning of each scrutiny, the celebrant asks the assembly of the faithful to pray that the Elect are given a spirit of repentance, a sense of sin and the true freedom of the children of God. They are being spiritually prepared for the joyful celebration of the Easter Vigil, where they will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist and become full members of the Catholic Church. Throughout the Easter Season and beyond, the newly initiated will participate in the period of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy, where they will continue their growth in the Catholic Faith and participate fully with the faithful in the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration.

Our six Candidates were baptized in another Christian Religion and thus were already members of the Church and children of God. However, they had not yet heard the message of the mystery of Christ and needed the same catechesis as the Catechumens. They freely chose to participate in the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Sending to the Cathedral for Recognition by the Archbishop and the Rite of Continuing Conversion. Last Sunday, Fr. Paul Kennedy celebrated the Penitential Rite to mark their Lenten purification and to prepare them for the reception of the Sacrament of Penance. Along with the Candidates, their Sponsors and the entire liturgical assembly participated in the celebration of the Penitential Rite, which Father adapted to benefit all. At the Easter Vigil, our Candidates will be fully initiated into the Catholic Church through the reception of Confirmation and Eucharist. They will continue their spiritual formation throughout the period of Mystagogy.

Our Candidate for the Sacrament of Confirmation and our six fully initiated Catholic participants were fully engaged in the Catechetical sessions and Liturgical Celebrations. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, their understanding of the truths of our Faith was increased and their loving relationship with the Lord Jesus, Mary and the Saints was deepened. Their fervent participation in Mystagogy will bear much fruit in their spiritual lives.

Is the HOLY SPIRIT inspiring you to attend CIA to prepare to receive the Sacraments of Initiation and/or to deepen your relationship with the Lord Jesus and grow stronger in your Catholic Faith?

Spiritual Reflection 2/25/2024

We can often feel intimidated by the lives of the saints, especially their prayer lives. They appear to be “giants” in the spiritual life and we may think to ourselves that we could never be like them.

The good news is that saints were, in many ways, just like us and many of them didn’t pray grandiose prayers. Often the greatest saints led simple prayer lives.

Take, for example, St. Catherine Laboure who received the Miraculous Medal. While she was granted an extraordinary vision of the Virgin Mary, she describes her own prayer life in simple terms.

“Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to him, Lord I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do. If he gives me some task, I am content and I thank him. If he gives me nothing, I still thank him since I do not deserve to receive anything more than that.

And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart. I tell him about my pains and joys, and then I listen. If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen. God always speaks to you when you approach him plainly and simply.” How simple is that!

God desires a “contrite heart” above all things and favors a fervent prayer of the heart, however simple it may be. Cultivating a “contrite heart” is a main theme of the Lenten Season. Through Prayer, Fasting and Works of Charity we draw closer to the Lord Jesus who suffered and died for our salvation.

The next time you sit down to pray, consider following St. Catherine Laboure’s example, not overcomplicating things and putting yourself into the hands of God.

You never know what might happen when you pray like a saint!

God Bless you,
Father Kennedy

Spiritual Reflection 2/18/2024

The Wilderness

A very, very long time ago back when I was still scouting, I earned the merit badge of Wilderness Survival. I trained for about a week learning the skills that I would need if I ever found myself in the wilderness without any food or shelter. I was taught how to make a shelter, how to find food, and make a fire – all with limited resources. I was taught the importance of hygiene, avoiding injuries, and many other things that I could possibly face while in the wilderness. As is the Boy Scout way, I was taught to be prepared to tackle any task or obstacle that may arise. After a week of training, I was teamed up with another boy and I had to go out to the woods and stay for two days and two nights with only a knife and a fire-starting kit. I earned the merit badge, but I will tell you that I went home hungry and cold. My success only came from the training that I received. The preparation for the task was actually more important than the task itself. 

During Lent, we are asked to walk out into the wilderness with Christ. It is through our own preparation that we will be successful for the next 40 days and ready for the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert. We now see the very same Spirit who gave life to Jesus in Mary and who descended upon Jesus in His baptism, driving Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan and surrounded by beasts for 40 days. It is that same Spirit that drives us out into the wilderness of Lent. 

Jesus’ experience with the “wilderness” and “beasts” is a metaphor for the chaos and obstacles that impede us as we stumble through life, bearing our burdens. It is during Lent that we are called to remember scripture and prayer to get us through. We know this to be true because this is the very thing that Christ did during his time in the wilderness.

Lent is not meant to be easy. It is meant to temper and strengthen us in our faith. Lent prepares us for the very proclamation the world has been waiting for and fulfilled through Christ Himself.

The Kingdom of God is here!

May Jesus live in our hearts forever!

Deacon Chris

Spiritual Reflection 2/11/2024

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” ~ Proverbs 29:18

Every day we are journeying one step closer to our eternal home and each day gives us opportunities to discover, learn, and enter into fruitful relationships with God and with one another. Every day gives us opportunities to take chances on people and help encourage each other to build up Faith, Hope, and Love.  Every day brings endless situations that challenge us. Sometimes these challenges can be exciting. Sometimes these challenges can be grueling. Sometimes these challenges can be outright agonizing.  It is in these moments that we realize we cannot do it alone.

As humans, we thrive more fully when we rely on God and others in life.  We all need the friendly hand, the person who laughs with us and cries with us.  We need the unassuming presence of someone who tells us I am and I’ve got you. I am your friend, colleague, brother, sister, neighbor, mentor, husband, or wife. I am and I’ve got you!

Those are humbling words that were spoken to Moses in the Burning Bush.  Those words scared Moses and those words may scare us. We may say to ourselves, who am I or who are they to act that way? How can we be Christ-like to someone? Where does this confidence come from? The confidence to be Christ-like isn’t from what we have done for ourselves. It is because of what God has done in us, through us, and despite us at our Baptism.

Through God’s Son’s sacrifice on the cross, through His saving act, it has changed us forever. We are being transformed to become the non-burning bush in this world.  We become God’s hands and feet on this earth. We are called to help others as Moses did with the people of Israel.  He was asked to help them discern how to confront their difficult situation of slavery.

Moses was called to help launch the Israelites onto a journey that would define them forever. We are called on this journey out of slavery of sin. There will be challenges, but as Jesus tells us always, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” This is our Lord telling us “I am and I’ve got you.” So, if we struggle daily to do what is morally right even when those around us take shortcuts, then go to Jesus. If we are burdened with patterns of sin and weaknesses of character that affect our vocation as a spouse, a parent, a friend, a Christian…, then go to Jesus. If life seems unfair and God seems distant at best, then go to Jesus.

We are on this journey of life together for a reason, in this parish together for a reason.  As a faith-filled community connected by our love for Jesus, we look to the words of Pope Benedict to help define the vision for St. David Parish: 

 “Knowing Jesus is the best gift that any person can receive; that we have encountered him is the best thing that has happened in our lives, and making him known by our word and deeds is our joy.

We need to remember these words as they will continue provide us our guiding light as we move forward towards Lent and the future relationship with God and each other. We are all called to humbly accept the helping hand of those around us who offer to us the I am and I’ve got you people of God. We are also called to take chances on people and to offer that same act to others when it is needed.

Spiritual Reflection 2/4/2024

The Gospel today which is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel, presents to us Jesus who, after preaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Capernaum, heals many sick people, beginning with Simon’s mother-in-law. Upon entering Simon’s house, he finds her lying in bed with a fever and, by taking her hand, immediately heals her and has her get up. After sunset, he heals a multitude of people afflicted with ailments of every kind. Since healing the sick occupied a large part of Christs’ public mission, it invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of illness, in every human situation. This opportunity is also offered to us each year on the World Day of the Sick which is celebrated on February 11.

Despite the fact that illness is part of the human experience, we do not succeed in becoming accustomed to it, not only because it is burdensome and sometimes painful, but also because we are made for life, for a full life. We rightly think of God as fullness of life indeed, as eternal and perfect life. When we are tried by evil and our prayers seem to be in vain, then doubt besets us and we ask ourselves in anguish: what is God’s will? We find the answer to this question in the Gospels. For example, in today’s passage we read that Jesus “healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk. 1: 34); in another passage from Matthew it says that Jesus “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people” (Mt. 4:23). Jesus leaves no room for doubt: God whose face he himself revealed is the God of life, who frees us from every evil. The signs of Jesus’ power of love are the healings he performed. However, these cures are not complete in themselves but guide us towards God and make us understand that one’s deepest illness is the absence of God, who is the source of truth and love. Only reconciliation with God can give us true healing, true life, because a life without love and without truth would not be life. The Kingdom of God is precisely the presence of truth and love and thus is healing in the depths of our being. Therefore, Jesus’ preaching and the cures he works form one message of hope and salvation.

Thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ work is extended in the Church’s mission. Through the sacraments it is Christ who communicates his life and love to the multitudes, while he heals and comforts innumerable sick people through the many activities of health-care workers that Christian communities promote with fraternal charity. Thus, they reveal the true face of God, his love. Let us pray for all sick people, especially those who are most seriously ill, and need to depend entirely on the care of others. May each one of them experience, in the solicitude of those who are beside them, the power and love of God and the richness of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us!

May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM

Spiritual Reflection 1/21/2024

How do you view God?

It seems that as we grow older, but not necessarily wiser, our view of God changes.…and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

A few years ago, I read the following that became a reminder to me of how good it is that our view of God changes and so I share it with you.  It is entitled “The Bike Ride”

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited Heaven or Hell when I die. He was out there sort of like the President. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

But later on, when I recognized my God, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride; but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since . . . life with God, that is.   God makes life exciting.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, “Pedal!”

I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are You taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure; and when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey; our journey, God’s and mine.

And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away. They’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him at first, in control of my life. I thought he’d wreck it. But He knew bike secrets, knew how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high places filled with rocks, fly to shorten scary passages.

And I’m learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion…God.   And when I’m sure I can’t do any more, He just smiles and says, “PEDAL!”

When we allow Him to guide our lives…  what an adventure life will be!

God Bless You,
Father Kennedy

Spiritual Reflection 1/14/2024

Our Responsibility

       The father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, gives a wonderful prayer to God at the birth of his son. There is a part of the Canticle of Zechariah where he addresses his son directly and says these words: “You, my child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” 

John the Baptist did this very thing. He announced the need for repentance because the Kingdom of God was coming. He was preparing the way of the Lord Jesus. He knew from the beginning that it was not himself that we were meant to follow. John the Baptist, as did his followers, also knew that there was a price to be paid if our sins were to truly be forgiven. This is because in the Jewish custom of atonement not only were prayer and fasting required but also a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. A goat or lamb was often used. This is important to remember because of how John identifies Jesus: “Behold the Lamb of God.” When John identified Jesus as such, his followers knew that Jesus was the very way to salvation. Christ is being called by John the very sacrifice needed for our atonement with God. It made perfect sense for Andrew to start following Christ. 

The repentance that John was speaking about comes to completion in Jesus Christ, but the story of our salvation does not end there. Andrew had to let others know who Christ was. So, Andrew finds the person he loves and reveals to him what he has found. He tells Simon, his brother, that he has found the Messiah. Andrew, like John before him, led someone to Jesus. Simon, we all know becomes Peter, who Christ called the rock upon which the Church is built.

That same Church has the responsibility to continue to call all to repent and follow Christ. As members of this same Church, we also are being called to proclaim to all the very truth that we hear in our liturgy every time we participate: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Out of love for all, we have the responsibility to let others know this revelation. So, when Zechariah calls John the prophet of the Most High, he is really speaking to each one of us.

May Jesus live in our hearts forever. 
Deacon Chris

Spiritual Reflection 1/7/2024

This Sunday, we celebrate the Epiphany. The Holy Family is visited by three wise men from foreign lands. They traveled hundreds of miles to offer gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each gift represents a piece of Christ’s ministry: His kingship, His priesthood, and His death. Like the wise men, we are on a journey to find relationship with God. Where are you on this journey? What gifts are you bringing to lay at the base of Jesus’ manger? All He wants is you – the gift of yourself, the gift of relationship with you.

Recently like the wise men, I began visiting Jesus in the adoration chapel with a friend from the parish which has brought us closer together. Just a few months ago, we were strangers, but a simple invitation to sit in the chapel together has formed a friendship blessed by Christ. In the adoration chapel, we have shared our love for Jesus in the Eucharist, our hurt and struggles, our joy and laughter. We enter the chapel with no end time in mind. Sometimes we are there for 40 mins and other times we end up staying for hours – sitting in silence with Jesus and talking about what we need prayer for and how life has been going. This friendship has brought accountability to my prayer life. We are there for each other on those days when we may not feel like leaving the house or seem to be too busy to fit in visiting Jesus in the Adoration Chapel.

I like to visit the chapel because it is dedicated time that I know will be set aside for prayer. It is more difficult for me to sit in silence at home with a multitude of distractions. I work hard to carve out a consistent prayer life day-to-day, but it is difficult to compete with work, evening meetings, and social events. God, however, is by far the most important thing. As Dan Tarrant, a Catholic speaker, shared at a recent parish event, “If you believe that there’s a God, the biggest thing in your life is Him. Even if you have not let Him into your life yet, the biggest thing is Him… the most important thing that you can do in your life, if there’s a God, is have relationship with Him… Jesus says that if you seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, everything else will be given to you in time… How do you want to live now?”

Where do you place him in your daily list of priorities? In my personal prayer with the Blessed Sacrament, I offer over myself with the full belief that if I do my prayers will be answered. Trusting in that is hard and I am constantly in a battle of fully surrendering that His plan is way better than any I could formulate and try to craft for myself. I do, however, personally struggle a lot with placing him at the top of my list. He is high up there, but something seemingly more pressing ends up at the top of my list on regular occasion. I have noticed looking back at the weeks that I miss sitting with Jesus in the chapel are harder and longer. I slip up more in sin and lose focus on what is most important, what should be placed front and center in my life – especially if I miss multiple weeks in a row. Entering into the beautiful Sacrament of the Eucharist at Mass becomes more difficult because I have not spent time one-on-one with my friend in the Blessed Sacrament – Jesus.

More often than not, I need to listen to the advice I have given my friends — Go sit in the chapel. Have you talked to Him about it yet? I don’t know that I can help you, but I know that he will. — and listen to what God is saying to me in the silence. There I can find the answers I need, the comfort I am seeking, and the peace in all my anxiety. I invite you to visit the chapel and share your joys, worries, and sorrows with Jesus. I invite you to enter into conversation with Him not just by talking about the things you need and want, but by listening to what he wants to share with you, patiently listening for the answers that you seek. He gifted to you His life. Please, gift Him some of your time.

In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; Eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the Eucharistic celebration, which is itself the Church’s supreme act of adoration. ~Pope Benedict XVI

Come, Let Us Adore Him!
Eucharistic Adoration in our chapel:
Monday & Wednesday 7 AM – 7 PM
Friday 7 AM – 5 PM

Can you find an hour to sit with Jesus in Adoration? It will be the best appointment of your entire week. If you can sign up for a Holy Hour, please contact Paula Warnalis 215-715-6911.

Spiritual Reflection 12/31/2023

Promises Fulfilled

When was the last time someone promised you something that was never fulfilled? Or how many times have you made promises that you never kept? The Scripture Readings during these days speak to us about promises, but promises that have been fulfilled! Promises that are fulfilled by a faithful God, who is Emmanuel: God-is-with-us! As we celebrate this Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we are invited to thanksgiving but we are also invited to healing and compassion, to look at the past with gentleness, to look into the future with hope and to see the many blessings that life is offering us, even in the midst of difficulties. On this Feast, we are invited to look at the poor family of Nazareth and reach out to the anawim, the poor and the oppressed among us, the refugees and the lonely, for they must be family to us too!

In the first reading from Genesis, God tells Abram: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield” and Abram put his faith in the Lord. Sarah and Abraham had a child. A promise was made and fulfilled and the fulfillment of this promise changed the history of salvation.

In the Gospel today, another couple receives a promise and that promise is also fulfilled. Mary and Joseph bring their child to the Temple for they were obedient and followed the law of Moses: “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.” They didn’t have the resources to offer a lamb, so they offered “The sacrifice of a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”

The promise made to the righteous and devout Simeon and the prophetess Anna were also fulfilled! Simeon will not see death before he had seen Christ the Lord. He received more than what was promised! Not only did he see the consolation of Israel, not only did he see the Christ, but he took Him into his arms and blessed God. Now he can die in peace, for his eyes saw God’s salvation! A promise was made to Mary: a sword shall pierce her heart and the promise was later fulfilled.

Simeon and Anna received promises that were fulfilled. They were filled with the spirit and were able to see things others couldn’t! They saw salvation, peace, redemption, Christ the Savior! Others didn’t recognize it; others only saw a couple with a child fulfilling a requirement of the law. Mary and Joseph were probably filled with questions but they had God in their hearts and the hope of a promise. They went back home and “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.” Promises fulfilled!

In our own families promises are made. Sometimes they are fulfilled, sometimes they are not. Our families might not be perfect, and probably we have been hurt as we grew up, but we are still called to hope. In the second reading, St. Paul invites the Colossians to put on “Heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” These are qualities we all need as followers of Christ and members of our own family and the family of God.

On this great Feast of the Holy Family, we hear the call to “Put on love and let the peace of Christ control our hearts, the peace into which we were also called in one body and be thankful.” May we learn from the God who is our shield and who is always faithful to the promises He has made.

May God love and bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM

Spiritual Reflection 12/24/2023

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the City of David a Savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk2:10-14)

Rejoice: Pope Francis encouraged people to strive for joy telling his world flock, “We’ve never heard of a sad Saint. Man’s heart desires joy. Every family, every people, aspires to happiness and our job as missionaries of joy should be part of our lifestyles to help people face difficult situations in life.”

So, as we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas, let joy be born in our hearts not just this Christmas day, but the whole year; not just the whole year, but our whole lives. Let us inspire this world, that can seem so lost in darkness, with the light of Christ in the light of our joy. Let us welcome family and friends. Let us welcome strangers and travelers in our midst who may join with us to celebrate the Eucharist. Make room in the pews; greet them with a welcoming smile and gracious hospitality those like Mary and Joseph, who are seeking room in the inn. Let us not send them away to be born in a manger like the baby Jesus.

If you are returning to Church today from a long absence, or even a short one, let the joy of this celebration fill you. Let the light of Christ into your lives and into your hearts that your hearts may grow “three sizes” this day and return to the joy of celebrating the Eucharist today and every week of the year.

My thanks to all of you who have been faithful parishioners, for all you do even through the years. Thank you for all your support and prayers.

May God bless you this Christmas, may all darkness in your lives be removed by the light of Christ. May your hearts be filled with the Joy of Christ’s birth and may you be missionaries of that joy. Amen.

Christ’s Joyful Peace & Love,

~Fr. Windle
Fr. Kennedy
IHM Sisters
St. David’s Staff

Spiritual Reflection 12/17/2023

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

Most of us, if not all of us, will remember playing the childhood game “hide and seek.” One person would close his eyes and count to ten, while the others ran to find hiding places that would make it difficult to be found. Just before going out to find those who were hidden, he would holler…  “ready or not, here I come.”

I am reminded of that childhood game, because it seems we’ve only begun our Advent preparations and today, on this third Sunday of Advent, we are given a glimpse of the magnificent events of that first Christmas. And although we can begin this graced season with good intentions, today may find us feeling spiritually unprepared, unready to welcome the infant Jesus.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to be ready, no matter how good our intentions.

The gospels reveal an image of Joseph with which we may identify: fearful, uncertain, unprepared and unready.  Yet the angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home.”   Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel had commanded.  As we reflect on these weeks that pass so quickly, and envision our Christmas celebration, we too can be fearful, uncertain and unready. However, the child Jesus has been born to us, whether we are ready or not; and God has entered our world and our lives, whether we are ready or not. His plan will continue to unfold in our lives, whether we are ready or not.  The truth is we may never be fully prepared, never really ready.

Yet, how ready do we have to be?  It may be as simple as being open to the wonder that God has in store for us; being open to His outpouring of love; being open to the joy that comes in welcoming Him into our hearts.  Joseph, although unready, was open to the message of the angel.  May we, on the brink of our celebration of the gift of Emmanuel, open our hearts and lives to “God with us.”

May God Bless our celebrations!
Father Kennedy

Spiritual Reflection 12/10/2023

We Hate to Wait

Have you ever arrived at a doctor’s appointment, as instructed, 15 minutes before your appointment? After waiting in the waiting room for some time, the nurse then takes you back to the examination room where you end up waiting even longer until eventually the doctor comes in.  This is an extremely frustrating situation and we all dislike it very much.  As human beings, we hate to wait.  We hate to wait in traffic.  We hate to wait to be seated at a restaurant. We want our pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less. Our inability to wait for things has even changed the way commerce is done in our country.  We have Amazon which now delivers almost anything our hearts desire in record times.  Instant gratification is now our battle cry.  The problem is that waiting can be good for us.

Sometimes waiting for something gives us an opportunity to evaluate if we really need what we are asking for.  Sometimes waiting can allow us to make other choices.   Sometimes waiting for something allows us to prepare for what we are receiving.  Waiting can be very difficult at times.  Just ask your children who are waiting for Santa.  We actually use this to make our children behave – how sinister of us. But maybe, just maybe, our Lord is using this waiting – this anticipation of His coming – to do the same thing. Advent is the time that we await the coming of our King. Maybe we can use this time to ask of God what we want. Maybe we can reflect on the choices that we have made or will be making. Maybe we can reflect on what the coming of our King means to us and if we are ready to receive what He offers – eternal life through the forgiveness of our sins.  I think that is worth waiting for.

Waiting can actually be a good thing. We can use this time to direct our minds back to the Lord.  We can take advantage of the extra opportunities to go to confession.  We can get back to prayer.  We can use this time to prepare for the coming of the King of Glory.  We can then greet Him with a clear mind and holy hearts.

May Jesus live in your hearts forever. 
Deacon Chris

Spiritual Reflection 12/3/2023

In an office one time a man attempts to move a desk through a narrow doorway. Another man comes in and tries to help from the other side, after doing this for a while they fail and feel defeated by the desk.  The first man throws in the towel “At this rate,” he says, gasping for air, “We’re never goanna get it in.” “In?” The other man says in disgust and disbelief, “I was trying to get it “out!” 

A lot of times in prayer we can do this with God, where we tell him over and over what we want and think is best is for us, where we may want to push when he wants us to pull. If we ever get caught in this trap, where we don’t want to listen and surrender, we will grow tired and get distressed.  God doesn’t want that for us, He wants us to be as Psalm 46 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

“Be still and know that I am God” is our advent theme for this year and that is what my prayer for you is this advent.  Yet all of us can forget to be still and to listen to him.  We may just want him to listen to us. Advent is a moment for growth and giving the Lord our undivided attention so that He can guide us to a better life. He wants to have a conversation with us this season and one great way to do this is to focus more on learning how to pray.  He wants to teach us how to be still and how to listen. Christ is always present in our lives, but again we can miss Him by the busyness of our lives.  We can make prayer a ritual instead of an encounter moment with our Savior.  Prayer is not something to do, rather it is about being with someone who loves us so much that he would rather die than spend all of eternity without us.   Prayer is all about relationship with our loving God.   Prayer is so much more than seeing God as a lucky charm, a divine rabbit’s foot where we pull him out only when we need him.  If we pray that way only, it really isn’t a loving relationship, it is a relationship of use and convenience and nothing will happen. 

Jesus, the God of the universe, was born in a random place in Bethlehem: not to hide from us, but to be sought out – to be found. We need to have the desire to seek him out because we want to be with him and know him.  Advent is meant to be a time when we lift our minds out of the busyness of life and gaze with wonder and joy at God’s love. So, when we pray we need to be still so that we can listen. We can quiet our minds while we sit and wait for Him.  We may think it is impossible with the busyness life, but if we don’t make it a priority it won’t happen.

One great place to be still is in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but it can take place anywhere. Wherever it is, before we start saying any of our prayers, we must get rid of anything that can distract us at that time. Put away the phones and put away the to do list.  We will get them back when we are done praying. Think at that moment, “I am not alone, God is here.  He is going to get my attention for as long as I am praying.” We must be still and allow ourselves to know that we are in the presence of love and anticipate His love before we pray. There is no better way to spend quality time with God than in prayer personal, heart-to-heart prayer. So this is advent season, let us prepare ourselves to be still and welcome the greatest gift we can give to ourselves, our families, and the world this Christmas: Jesus.

Spiritual Reflection 11/26/2023

Works of Mercy

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, let us reflect on the importance of growing closer to the Lord by reaching out in love to others. For as Jesus Himself tells us in this Sunday’s Gospel: “Whatever you do to one of the least brothers of Mine, you do for Me” (Mt. 25: 40). As expressed in the article below from the National Eucharistic Revival ‘Spark Series’, the daily practice of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy fulfills this summons of the Lord.

Can you think of a time when someone did something kind or helpful for you? Maybe they paid for a meal when you were short-changed or made you chicken noodle soup when you were sick. Perhaps it was offering prayers for you or a loved one in a difficult season of life. The smallest, simplest gestures can have profound effects.

As followers of Christ, we are called to serve those in need. But it isn’t always easy to serve others, especially when the people that we serve don’t seem to appreciate our help or reciprocate with any kindness themselves. Of course, we aren’t called to serve others when it is easy or even when it makes us feel good about ourselves.

Christ gave of himself even though we didn’t earn it or deserve it. When that truth dwells in our hearts, “love can also blossom as a response within us” (Deus caritas est, no. 17). When you have experienced the grace of God, you want to show the grace of God. When you have received mercy, you desire to extend mercy.

We can look to Christ as our perfect example. He nurtured people spiritually and healed them physically. He didn’t just do it for those that he knew would reciprocate the gesture. He didn’t reserve his grace for only those who would follow him as a disciple. His mercy didn’t discriminate. As St. Paul reminds us, “for Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

There are countless ways in which we can help others. However, the Church has given us seven ways in which we can assist others’ physical needs and seven more ways to address spiritual needs.

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, and comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead” (CCC 2447).

The Eucharist is a sacrament of charity. In fact, the Church teaches us that reception of the Blessed Sacrament commits us to the poor (CCC 1397). As our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament increases, so will our desire to serve others. Whether you are called to help others spiritually or corporally, in big ways or small ways, believe that God will bless others through you. Jesus continues to give us his very best; we are called to follow suit. Today, let us be mindful of those around us and the opportunity we have to meet them in their needs.