Spiritual Reflection 8/30/2020

Society versus Discipleship

        Are we fully committed to follow Jesus and to be His disciples? Society says we are to be in charge and in control to be happy; but Jesus says we need to be obedient and follow Him, even along the Way of the Cross. Society says that we need to be rich to be happy; Jesus says that we need to be poor in spirit and detach ourselves from all our possessions. Society says that we are weak and foolish if we surrender our will to God and His Church. Jesus says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Each of us can look into our hearts and ask ourselves: Do I choose to follow Jesus or the norms of our society or world?

        Jesus made it very clear in this Sunday’s Gospel that there is a cost to discipleship. It requires sacrifice and renunciation and it is not always easy to follow Him and obey his commands. However, following the norms of society may bring superficial happiness for a time but our God is never outdone in generosity. When we do our best to love Him above all else, and to give loving service to our neighbor, He showers us with abundant spiritual gifts and lifts us up to Himself, especially during difficulties and trials. Embracing Christ and his call to discipleship will bring genuine, interior happiness and peace throughout our life and for all eternity.

         The Lord Jesus knows that we are all weak human beings and need a share in His Divine Life of Grace to persevere on the path of discipleship. Prayer or conversation with God and the Sacraments are the main vehicles of God’s Grace available to us. Through Baptism we receive the grace of divine adoption and become a temple of the Holy Spirit. In Confirmation, we are “sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit” and strengthened for service to the Body of Christ. Knowing that we are all sinners, Jesus offers his forgiveness to us in the Sacrament of Penance. With super abundant love, Jesus gifts us with his own Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Do I pray daily, go to Confession periodically, and receive Holy Communion frequently?

The Church knows that for many of us Jesus’ call to discipleship can be daunting. Therefore, she gives us examples of ordinary people living extraordinary lives – The Saints. We can also imitate the lives of faithful discipleship many of us have witnessed firsthand in the lives of our own parents and grandparents. Their faith and trust in God, even in the midst of trials, can be the beacon that lights our way on the path of discipleship.

           If you and I can resolve in our hearts: Yes, I do desire to follow Jesus’ call to discipleship and reject the norms of our society, then our loving Lord will take our hand and walk the path of discipleship with us. His grace will sustain us if we promise to pray daily, go to Confession periodically and receive his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist frequently. If we are faithful, we can all look forward to the eternal peace and joy of the Heavenly Kingdom.

God bless you always!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM

Spiritual Reflection 8/23/2020

+Dear Parishioners,

The opening prayer for this 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time implores God’s help “amid the uncertainties of this world.” How true these uncertainties are today! But what is certain is that by having God as the center of our lives, seeking to know and do His will, we will one day “find our hearts fixed on that place where true happiness is found.” That place we know is heaven. We recognize that these are troublesome times, especially with the global pandemic and civil unrest, but we cannot allow ourselves to be dragged down by all the negatives. We are followers of Christ and that means we are a people of hope.

In the first reading, Shebna’s authority is taken away from him because he abused his power and used it for his own benefit instead of for the good of others. As adults we must use our God-given authority for the benefit of our families, loved ones, and neighbors. One way to use our authority is to teach our children the love of God by passing on the faith and helping them to experience the love of God through prayer and the sacramental life of the Church.

These are definitely uncertain times, but we need to remind one another that God is our constant; He is ever-faithful, loving, and merciful. It is He who gives us true peace and strengthens us to live a Christ-centered life. Continue to teach and live the faith with your children by praying grace before and after meals and by praying together before bedtime.

In my family of 13, after dinner each night, my Dad would lead us in prayer. During Advent and Lent, we would pray the rosary. We were a rambunctious gang, 11 boys and 2 girls, so we were not always 100% eager to participate in the nightly prayers. If we got distracted, dear Dad would give us one of those very fatherly stares (I think you know the kind I mean) and then we would refocus on our prayers, or at least try to.

It is strengthening to pray as a family. Reading and discussing the readings for Sunday’s Mass is a great preparation for the Liturgy. Children, because of their simplicity, often inspire me with their insights. I am sure you have given it a try in your own family and found that often the children’s understanding of the readings was inspirational and profound. Remember the slogan the Servant of God, Father Patrick Peyton, made popular, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Below I share with you the family prayer we prayed each evening after dinner. May Saint Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, watch over and guide your family.

In Mary’s Immaculate Heart, I am,
Sister Mary

Spiritual Reflection from St. David Parish 8/16/2020

A few years ago there was extensive news coverage on a prediction that the world was going to end.  It seems that someone speculated that since there were no more dates on the Inca or Aztec calendar after a certain date the world must be ending, hence the prediction.  This prediction caused anxiety in a great many people including my children who were young at the time.  They came to me worried that this prediction could be true.  They were very surprised by my answer.  I told them, “I sure hope so.”   “Why Dad would you hope for that?”  I explained to them that with our faith in Jesus we had nothing to worry about.  If it was the end of the world, Jesus was coming to be with us again. Wouldn’t that be great? Maybe not the Father of the Year answer, but so very true.  Our faith in Christ can free us from all fear.  How many times do we hear Jesus Himself say, “Do not be afraid.”  Faith is a powerful tool in our arsenal.  Just last week faith saw Peter walking on water.  It wasn’t until fear took hold of him and, as Jesus says, he lost faith that Peter began to sink.  When we allow the storms of life to overpower us, we sometimes forget to just rely on our faith.  We can do such great things when we allow ourselves to be led by our faith in Christ.  As Jesus says, we could move mountains with faith. 

We sometimes forget that our faith in Christ also allows us to overcome sin.  We all sin but Christ tells us that through Him, even if we feel unworthy of forgiveness, with faith in Him all our sins can be forgiven.  The woman who calls out to Jesus for her child to be cured in today’s Gospel was not even worthy to speak to Jesus in the culture of that time.  That does not stop her from asking Jesus to help her.  In fact, Jesus tells her that her faith in Him is why he grants her wishes for her child to be healed.  It is an action on her part that grants what she wishes.  How many times in our lives do we allow the sins we have committed to bear us down?  We allow sin to sink us.  If we only have faith in Christ, an action on our part, we can put down the burden of sin and allow Christ to forgive us.  It also allows us to forgive ourselves.  Once we put all our faith in Christ, we will be able to waltz sinless and fearless across the surface of the stormy waters of life. 

May Jesus live in our hearts forever. 
Deacon Chris

Spiritual Reflection from St. David Parish 8/9/2020

When I was younger, I loved to fish. I remember on time as a 5-year-old going fishing with my dad and uncle to Marsh Creek, our usual fishing spot. When we got there, my dad set me up on a ledge above the water which seemed very high for a 5-year-old. He put a worm on the hook and helped me cast out. My dad and uncle took their spots, one on each side of me. As soon as they cast their lines was as soon as I slipped off of the ledge and into the water. I was so scared that I was going to drown. I didn’t know how to swim and started to flap my arms and my legs. There was a little bit of a current and I was moving down the creek a bit.

What felt like eternity in the cold water was probably only 15 seconds. I felt my dad pick me up, look at me with a smile, and say, “Matt just stand up.” I put my legs down and found out that the water only went to my chest! Being afraid is normal, but Fear can be so paralyzing that we are afraid to even stand up when we are asked.

There are so many things we can be scared of right now, but I think what a lot people are scared of the most are that things are just so uncertain in life. We just don’t know exactly what the future will hold for us and, too often, we can allow this to dominate and define our lives. When we allow Fear to be so strong in us, we don’t allow Christ’s peace in our hearts or trust that God loves us.

Jesus reminds all of us today, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” He tells us do not ever be afraid to approach Him no matter what happens in life. He is with us and is ready to pick us up even when we fall and are too scared to get up. He looks us in the eye with a huge smile and says, “Just stand up. I am with you.” As we prepare to approach Jesus once again in the Eucharist, taking those small steps to receive him, do not ever be afraid to know that He is with us no matter what happens in life.