May 22, 2016
Dear Parish Family:
Today we celebrate one of the most fundamental beliefs in all of Christianity; the Trinity – three distinct, coequal persons in one God. For all of us, the Church, the Trinity is considered a mystery. There are aspects of this mystery that we will never fully understand, but it is something we hold as revealed truth.
It has been said that such a theological mystery is not a puzzle to solve or figure out, but more like an ocean in which we are swimming. We may never comprehend its totality, but we experience its presence and accept its reality, as well as its magnificence.
We often pray to the Trinity without even thinking that we are. When we make the sign of the cross, we are praying to the Trinity. This is probably the most common prayer we pray as Catholics, yet, many people do not even think of it as a prayer to the Trinity. We go through the motions of the sign of the cross, without thinking about the words at all. My 4th and 5th grade RE students are often amazed to realize this is actually a prayer, as I’m sure some grownups are also.
During Mass, make a point to notice how many times we make the sign of the cross. Think about the words. Listen, too, for other prayers throughout the Mass that honor the Holy Trinity.
Let us remember also, the Holy Trinity is the model and source of unity of the Church, as well as that of the family. Let us pray to the Holy Trinity to guide us in love and strengthening our unity with one another.
May 15, 2016
Pentecost is the great Feast of the Holy Spirit. After the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit continues to bestow His many blessings upon us, blessings which allow us to be better disciples. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are unique because they strengthen our human nature. Let us call to mind the gifts which we receive from the Holy Spirit.
In the first place, we have the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith gives us the capacity to believe in God and in His words. Hope is the virtue which allows us to constantly pursue eternal life in God’s kingdom. The virtue of charity makes us capable of loving God above all things and expressing God’s love to our neighbors.
The second set of gifts are the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Prudence is the virtue which gives us the ability to discern and distinguish in any circumstance the good from the evil, and to always choose the good. The virtue of justice allows us to give to God what belongs to Him (such as our worship) and to give mankind its due. Fortitude gives to our human nature the necessary firmness to pursue the good in times of difficulty. The virtue of temperance allows us to keep under control our desires and to balance the use of created goods.
Even more is given to us from the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He bestows on our human nature His gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the lord.
Finally, the Holy Spirit is willing to empower our human nature with His fruits of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. For these reasons and more we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. Think about all the virtues, gifts and fruits which we can receive from The Holy Spirit if we are open to accepting them.
Which ones are those which we should pray for more? Happy Solemnity of Pentecost!
May 8, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
We celebrate the great mystery of Christ’s ascension into heaven. After his resurrection, Jesus stayed a bit longer with his disciples, making sure they truly believed in his glorious resurrection. As it was the Father’s plan, however, Jesus was to return to his glorious throne to be seated at the right hand of the Father and to be our Lord and King.
“Then he [Jesus] led the disciples out as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” (Luke 24: 50-53).
Jesus had just left his disciples and went to heaven, and yet the disciples were filled with joy. Why didn’t they show sorrow? Precisely because they truly understood Christ’s glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven. They knew that Jesus was not going a long distance away from them. Instead, with His glorious ascension into heaven, Jesus transcended space and time. This meant that He became available for everyone and everywhere His name is called upon. He is present at every altar where the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated.
The disciples also became aware that right after the Ascension they would enjoy the company of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who would lead them to the fullness of truth, the Spirit who would bestow the gifts of faith, hope, and love for the new believers.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us rejoice because Jesus is always with us, and the Holy Spirit is also our companion on our journey toward the Father.
Happy Feast of the Ascension. God bless you all.
May 1, 2016
Dear Parish Family,
Peace is a gift which we ask for quite a few times during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. But in what terms do we think about peace? We may think about peace as a period of time in one’s life without any hardship, a time in which all our needs are met. Or we may think about peace as a time without violence or enemies. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers his peace to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” What kind of peace is Jesus giving us? Is it the way we understand it?
This very passage of John’s Gospel is Jesus’ farewell to his disciples. This is not a peaceful time in Jesus’ life. In fact, he was about to face something horrible, his suffering and dying on the cross. It is right before his passion when he offers his peace.
We learned, therefore brothers and sisters, that Jesus’ peace does not cancel out the hardships of life. Instead, Jesus’ peace gives us the strength to endure the challenges we face every day. The disciples received their master’s peace so that they would be able to endure persecution, and even martyrdom, for the sake of the Gospel.
No doubt, peace is a gift that comes from God. Through the worries and concerns of every day life, we easily lose this essential gift. Therefore, it is important to consciously ask for this gift through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We also need to be conscious that our infirmities or hardships in general are not going away. Receiving Christ’s peace, however, gives us the courage to endure them.
Finally, thank you for your generous gift to Diocesan Appeal.
The peace of Christ be with you.
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.