Open the Doors
Each day, reminders of scheduled parish activities come across the bottom of my computer screen. I used to see the mass times come across and would dismiss them as they were something that I certainly didn’t need to be reminded of. The past few months, they have continued to automatically appear as well as regular scheduled parish activities and even hall rentals and I still dismiss them but now for obvious different reasons. This weekend our parish remains closed as others are re-opening to the public with a limit of 10 parishioners. Some may be wondering why we have not opened this weekend. The Pastoral Council has asked for all parishioners to fill in a survey (see section above) indicating whether you would like to attend mass during this time. There is also a need for volunteers to assist in the process in order for us to safely open our parish.
A few days ago, I went to the church and began taking down the purple Lenten altar cloths and décor. Today is Pentecost Sunday - a day when fellow parishioner, Rose Romanowich, always reminded us to wear red. The church remains bare instead of being decorated with red in celebration of this great feast day and birthday of the church; however, I ask you to focus on a different temple - your soul. The image and likeness of God is stamped on our soul and it is also a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism opens the doors to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in Confirmation, we receive the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in a deeper and more mature way. Many do not realize that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were infused in our souls at baptism and they are strengthened at Confirmation. When I am preparing children for receiving the sacraments, I ask them if they have ever received gifts and have left them unopened? I also ask them how often they receive a gift and enjoy that gift for a day or two and then forget about it completely? The gifts of the Holy Spirit are so often forgotten about and many are likely not able to even name what those gifts are. I remember receiving a phone call a few years ago from one of our sons and he reminded me that I need to ask God daily for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to increase in my heart. The gifts have been given to me and I must continually ask for the grace of the gifts so the fruits of the spirit can accompany me on whatever mission God has for me,
We associate different symbols of the Holy Spirit from a violent rush of wind and tongues of fire to the gentleness and peacefulness of a dove. Last week I spoke about FEAR having two different meanings – 1. Forget Everything And Run or 2. Face Everything And Rise. The disciples were waiting in fear but their hearts were being prepared to be renewed by the Holy Spirit. When Christ appeared, they rejoiced and were filled with peace. Sometimes, in order to Face Everything And Rise, we have to Forget Everything And Run, so we can be detached from things that are keeping us from finding the peace that Christ alone offers and that we can rejoice freely in his presence. On this beautiful Feast Day, when our church building remains empty except for Jesus in the tabernacle, remember to ask God to fill your soul, the temple of the Holy Spirit, completely with the gifts of the Holy Spirit (and wear red).
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same spirit, help us to know what is truly right
and always rejoice in his consolation.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
Note: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, right judgment (counsel), courage (fortitude), knowledge, reverence (piety) and wonder and awe (fear of the Lord).
The Fruits are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
F.E.A.R. – Face Everything And Rise
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of heaven? Some may think of an incredibly happy place, free of the trials and sufferings of this world. Others may long for their loved ones who are already there. For most, I think we immediately look up into the sky because that is where we have the idea that heaven is. Jesus ascended, going up into the clouds into the sky, so by assuming heaven is “up there some place” seems fairly accurate.
Several years ago, when our six children were all young, two young religious brothers (both now priests) visited our home. I so clearly remember them asking me a question that literally changed my life. I was discerning and discussing with them where I should share my time and talents within the church. Then the question was asked, “What are you doing to get yourself, your children and others to heaven?” It was at that moment when I began to understand more deeply that everything I did should always have eternity as my end goal and should be done in complete union with the Holy Trinity. I felt a deeper conviction to know and experience Christ through Sacred scripture, prayer and the sacraments and also to live with apostolic zeal for souls.
Jesus’ life on earth finished not with his death on the cross but with his Ascension into heaven. It is the last of the mysteries of his life here on earth. Today’s feast reminds us that our concern for souls is a response of love given to us by our Lord. As Christ’s earthly mission comes to a close, our mission as disciples begins. His Ascension strengthens and nourishes our hope and desire for Heaven. Jesus departs, but he remains close to each of us.
As our province is continuing to gradually reopen, and especially our churches, many different feelings and concerns are being experienced. Some are excited to “get back to normal”, others are concerned if it is safe to do so. Just as the apostles were fearful and uncertain about Jesus leaving them again, we too, are feeling the uncertainties and may be fearful of what lies ahead for us and for the world. In one of my prayer journals, I came across the following: F-E-A-R has two meanings: 1. Forget Everything And Run or 2. Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours! He invites us always to seek the things that are above. The hope of Heaven will fill our day with joy.
Many of us are earning for the Eucharist. As our parish continues to prayerfully discern how to best reopen our parish for Mass, here is something to keep in mind regarding how actual and spiritual communion differ.
A spiritual Communion is a genuine, though less sacramentally perfect, sharing in the Body and Blood of the Lord. Both in a visible, sacramental Communion and in a spiritual one, we feed on the Body and Blood of Christ by faith and love, and we receive the same effects in either case. Read more here.
Note: The Archbishop’s dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in place.
Infected by Love
The scripture readings this week once again re-iterate how the Blessed Trinity is longing to dwell in our hearts. Everlasting happiness involves both a knowledge of God as well as a clear vision of God – to live with Him and to be happy with Him. From this loving contemplation of the Blessed Trinity, an unlimited joy will arise in us. I have two stories to share that relate to these readings.
About a month ago, I heard about a new series called The Chosen. After watching all 8 episodes of Season 1, I was so drawn in that I watched it a second time and then listened to several interviews with the actors and writer. If you haven’t experienced The Chosen yet, I would encourage you to check it out on YouTube or download the app. Trust me, this is incredible. If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, you are in good company with the disciples. For the past few weeks, Jesus has been preparing them for his ascension into heaven and they have no idea what he is saying either.
First of all, I will share a bit about The Chosen - but not too much, as I don’t want to take away from your experience. The series begins with the pre-ministry of Jesus and introduces us to the disciples and other familiar characters that we learn about in the scriptures. I am always reminded how Jesus chose ordinary people and taught them just as He has chosen each one of us - through our baptism - to know, love and share Him with those we encounter. Jesus also spent so much time with them so they could not only listen to His words and teachings but they could witness His love and mercy extended to those around Him.
I was really captivated with a few interviews by the actor, Jonathan Roumie, who plays the role of Jesus. Many viewers shared that seeing the human side of Jesus brought them closer to the deity of God. In order to approach the humanity of Jesus, Jonathan shared that he had to “empty himself of everything that is me in service to being open as a channel for the spirit to come and work through me and essentially raise my game as a human being. To be the best version of myself around everybody at all times on the set is how I approach the humanity of Jesus. How would He have interacted with people? How does He deal with conflict? The best that I can do is try to experience every emotion that I think is needed for a scene... It is so important for me to get it right. God has trusted me to represent His Son in this project, so I can’t dishonor that.
The second story focuses on love and eternal happiness. Last week, on May 5th, Pope Francis declared a young man a person of “heroic virtue” and gave him the title of Venerable Matteo Farina. His reputation for personal holiness was witnessed by many.
Matteo Farina was born in Avellino, Italy, on September 19, 1990. At an early age, he possessed a deeply spiritual side. He would recite the Rosary every day, read the Gospel, and he developed a devotion to St. Padre Pio and St. Francis of Assisi. One day Matteo had a dream in which St. Pio came to him, asking him to share this message as the secret to Christian happiness, “You must understand that who is without sin is happy, then you have to teach it to the others so that we can go all together happily in the heavenly paradise.”
This dream led Matteo to realize that his vocation was to evangelize, and he wrote, “I hope to succeed as an ‘infiltrator’ among the young people, telling them what God wants. I look around me, and I want to enter in young people’s lives quietly like a virus, infecting them with an incurable illness called love.”
At the age of 13, he was diagnosed with cancer. During his treatments his strong faith and love of life never faded. Even when recovering from surgeries, he would say, “It is useless to despair. We have to be happy and transmit happiness. The more happiness we give people, the more people are happy. The more they are happy, the more we are happy.” Matteo died on April 24. 2009 at the age of 19.
Matteo Farina’s mission may be summed up in his own words, “My God, I have two hands, let one of them to be always clasped to You in order to hold You closer in every trial. And let the other hands fall throughout the world if this is Your will … as I know You by others, so let others know You through me. I want to be a mirror, the clearest possible, and if this is Your will, I want to reflect Your light in the heart of every man. Thanks for Life. Thanks for Faith. Thanks for Love. I’m Yours.”
Venerable Matteo Farina, please pray for us.
Read the full story of Venerable Matteo Farina here.
This week, I encourage you to ask for the grace of being “infected with love” through simple and fervent prayer. Take a moment to sit quietly with God, empty yourself of everything and allow Him to fill that void in your heart with His love. You will know God loves you by the joy you will feel.