Weekly Reflections

May 14, 2023: 
Lord, I thank you for my mother. Thank you for placing her in my life, and for the blessing she is to me and my family. Thank you for the godly wisdom that she has instilled in me. Words cannot express the gratefulness I have in my heart for her beauty and spiritual influence in my life. Please continue to bless her and surround her with your grace and favor. Amen.
May 7, 2023:
The Gospels portray the Easter encounters as deeply self-involving experiences in which a number of men and women were invited to recognize their Lord and to become dedicated witnesses to him and to his Resurrection. To witness to the Easter Jesus became the hallmark of a disciple of Jesus.

So what can we learn from these Easter stories? What applies to us?

God meets us on our own terms, where we are. He met Mary Magdalene in her fear; he met Thomas with his doubts; he met Peter and the disciples fishing amidst their loneliness and anxiety; and he met them walking to Emmaus in their disappointment.

Just so, the Lord meets you where you are, in your anxiety, fear, doubts or distress, joys and successes. Who among us does not have concerns as we reflect on our life and the lives of those we love? In any given week our hearts are filled with competing emotions stemming from personal experiences or media headlines; foreign wars, economic uncertainty, unemployment, the death of a friend, the birth of a child, an engagement, final exams!

It is these and all the other human events that nudge us closer to God. This is where the Lord finds you, where you are, as you are: he finds you in your doubt and in your faith, in your strength and weaknesses; in your fears and doubts.

This is where God meets you, finds you, on your terms and in your circumstances, with your particular challenges and special gifts and needs.

April 23, 2023:
In Luke’s Gospel it follows the famous “Road to Emmaus” account of two disciples encountering the risen Lord on their journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of the resurrection. In that account, the disciples did not recognize Jesus until He broke bread with them, an allusion to His presence in the Eucharist. Today’s gospel reading begins with these two disciples telling of their encounter with Jesus to the apostles after returning to Jerusalem that same day. Thus, these events also take place on Easter Sunday. Here Jesus appears to the disciples and offers them peace. He calms their fears by reassuring them that it is He through showing them His wounds and even eating a piece of fish to prove that He is not a ghost. As one might imagine, they were amazed. Just think of all they had been through. They had followed Jesus and recognized Him as the promised Messiah. But, then, contrary to their expectations, He was brutally crucified at the hands of their enemies, the Romans. These events plagued them with doubts and left them cowering in fear, wondering if they would be sought out and killed for associating with Jesus. Now, the one they knew to be dead was alive and standing in their midst. Imagine what was going through their minds!

Jesus not only assured them it was Him but “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” revealing to them that the Old Testament had, in fact, taught that the Messiah would have to suffer, die, and rise again. Therefore, they came to understand these events. St. Peter said: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” In what areas of your life do you need to repent and experience conversion?
April 16th, 2023: 
In the readings we learn about two kinds of people: those early followers of Christ who changed their entire life routine to follow Jesus and the Apostle, Thomas. Thomas knew Jesus well, witnessed His miracles, and yet, for a moment still doubted that Jesus rose and wanted proof that He was actually alive. Thomas’ initial response can be seen as an example of today’s modern world. The Catholic faith is always being questioned in the media and doubted, demanding proof of God’s existence. We, too, as Christian, sometimes fail to accept God as He is and instead put ultimatums on our own relationship with God. “God, if you do this for me, then I will”...similar to what Thomas says in the Gospel, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). Yet there were many people that heard of Christ’s sacrifice, and even without knowing Him in the flesh, they gave up all they had and completely devoted themselves to His teachings and embraced their Christian life. They knew in their hearts the truth of God’s unconditional love for them. They knew their faith deep in their souls, and did not need proof of God to dedicate their life and trust to Jesus. 

We should ask ourselves - who am I being today in my faith? A Doubting Thomas who demands God to answer my prayers the way I want/think they should be answered? Or am I like the early followers who trusted God in all things and let Him lead their life? God’s plan for us is far better than any plan we have for ourselves, so why do we struggle so much to give up control of our lives and put it into God’s hands?
Let us pray we can all be more like the early followers of Christ and devote each day to discerning more about sowing trust in God instead of doubt.
April 9th, 2023:
We are Easter people: Hallelujah is our song. Happy Easter! Hope you have a wonderful Easter Celebration! Jesus died and rose from the dead! That news was the best news the world has ever heard! Jesus lives, the past is forgiven, the present is blessed, and the future is safe. Hallelujah! It is the most joyful season. I want you to think and reflect more of our Resurrection moments, the moment we had great joy.
Yours in Christ, Fr. Niby Kannai
Divine Mercy Sunday is perhaps God’s greatest gift for our time. The promise of this day is nothing less than the forgiveness of all sins and punishment due to sin for anyone who would go to Confession and receive Jesus in Holy Communion on this very special feast. According to Divine Mercy Productions, one may receive the Sacrament of Confession, also known as Reconciliation, twenty days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday.

Why would Jesus offer humanity such a magnanimous gift at this time in history? Jesus told St.
Faustina that she was to prepare the world for His Second Coming and that He would be pouring out His Mercy in great abundance before He comes again as the Just Judge.

From the Diary of St. Faustina, 699, Jesus said of Divine Mercy Sunday: “On that day, the very
depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity.”Jesus knew that people would need to hear these words of re-assurance today, so He went on to say, “Come with faith to the feet of My representative…and make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyze what sort of a priest that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My flight.” (1725) “Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy.” (1602) 

April 2, 2023:
Ideas for a “Holy” Holy Week
Holy Week is a sacred time when we remember that no matter what our lent was like, Jesus will still rise from the dead.

All Week Long:

1) Look for ways to make this week more quiet.
2) Get to the liturgies if you can.
3) Go deeper in your prayer life.
4) Make a sacred space in your home.

Holy Thursday
1) Practice acts of service within your family.
2) Look for ways to serve your neighbors or your community

Good Friday
1) Pray the Stations of the Cross on your own if you can’t get to church.
2) Consider keeping silence in your home 12:00-3:00 pm.
3) Perform a random act of kindness.
4) Take on some sacrificial chore.

Whatever you choose to do this week, keep it simple, focus on ways to set this time apart, and then follow through on your commitments.
 --Fr. Mike Schmitz

March 26th, 2023: 
The Annunciation of the Lord commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she was to be the mother of our Savior. The Annunciation helps us to recognize the gift of new life from its very beginning in the womb. It call us to reflect on how we are to care for, protect and welcome new life, as the Blessed Mother did for the Christ child. In order to care for, protect and welcome new life in the womb, we must first care for, support and welcome and serve pregnant women, especially those facing difficulties or challenging circumstances. All mothers, like our Blessed Mother, bear the miracle of new life into the world. In a special way, they are entrusted by God with the gift of life. It is the role of the Church to walk with all mothers, offering support, encouragement and assistance as they seek to answer God’s call in their lives.

The Solemnity of the Annunciation also coincides with the anniversary of the papal encyclical Evangelium vitae, known as the Gospel of Life. In this gospel, Pope St. John Paul II challenged us to assess our efforts in assisting pregnant moms in need and to improve our responses where needed, especially at the local level. He writes: “With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses. With equal clarify and determination we must identify the steps we are called to take in order to serve life in all its truth” EV95

Feb 19, 2023: 
Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully.
We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God’s gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but
through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The
goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446).

Fasting means a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but they are not to equal that of a full meal. The rule of abstinence from meat is binding upon Catholics aged 14 and onwards. “THOSE THAT ARE EXCUSED FROM FAST AND ABSTINENCE OUTSIDE THE AGE LIMITS INCLUDE THE PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY ILL INCLUDING INDIVIDUALS SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC ILLNESSES SUCH AS DIABETES. ALSO EXCLUDED ARE PREGNANT OR NURSING WOMEN. IN ALL CASES, COMMON SENSE SHOULD PREVAIL, and all ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting.” For all other weekdays of Lent, we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting,” the bishops wrote in the Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence. “In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local,national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the selfdenial summed up in the Christian concept of ‘mortification.'” 

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