Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost and it is, therefore, a good time to reflect a little on how the Holy Spirit works, both in the Church, as well as in our own lives.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” -John 14:26
God knew that after the resurrection and ascension of His Son, Jesus, we were going to need some extra help. While Jesus physically walked the earth, all anyone had to do was listen to Him directly to know what He willed for them. However, when left to our own devices for too long, we humans tend to muck things up. We received the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in order to continually guide and advise us on the Father’s will for the Church as a whole and for individuals as well.READ MORE
This week is the final week of the series on the nine grades of prayer. We’ll take a closer look at the last two grades. These final grades can seem very out of reach for the vast majority of us, and perhaps that is true, but it is important for us to know what is possible when it comes to our relationship with God. If nothing else, these final grades can provide us with a deeper understanding of what some of our great saints experienced and what awaits us in Heaven.
8th Grade of Prayer – Prayer of Conforming UnionREAD MORE
As I announced last weekend, Bishop Olmsted has asked me to become the pastor at St. Gabriel’s in Cave Creek, and unfortunately, this weekend is my last weekend here. Throughout this past week I have been trying to wrap my head and my heart around this transition, as it will be very difficult for me to leave Corpus Christi. I share this because I want each of you to know how much I have loved being your Pastor.
You might wonder why so sudden of a move, and why I was selected. St. Gabriel’s is in a time of growth. They are in the process of building a new parish building and school building. The money has been raised and construction has just started. Bishop Olmsted needs a new pastor there who can immediately see to the construction while shepherding the faith of the community as they grow in making use of the new buildings. He has chosen me, not only because I am familiar with the community (I was the associate pastor there prior to being assigned here), but also because I have a love for evangelization – helping each person draw closer to God. So, I am honored that the bishop thinks that I am the right pastor to lead the flock up there.READ MORE
This week we are going to examine the 6th and 7th grades of prayer as developed by St. Teresa of Avila. Hopefully, you’ve been able to reap some fruit in your prayer life and have increased your desire for intimacy with God. As we go further along in this journey of exploration, remember to not be discouraged by how out of reach some of this may seem. Instead, approach the possibilities with a sense of wonder and awe. God is so good and has made amazing things available to each of us if we continue to desire them and seek Him out in all things.
6th Grade of Prayer – Prayer of QuietREAD MORE
Over the last two weeks we have examined the first four of the nine grades of prayer. Remember, in those first four grades, we are in control of the activity in our prayer life and the progress we make, with the help of God’s grace, of course. The last five grades of prayer are completely out of our control and are a means by which God comes into certain souls of His choosing to bring about a closer union with them. Whether or not any of us are chosen for such intimacy with God while here on earth is not meant to be discouraging, but rather, to make us all aware of what is possible when we pour our entire beings into an intimate relationship with God.READ MORE
You were hopefully able to find some opportunitiesto practice more meaningful verbal and meditativeprayer in the last week. Continue to keep comingback to those simpler forms throughout your prayerlife. This week, we will explore the 3rd and 4thgrades of prayer.
3rd Grade of Prayer – Affective PrayerThe majority of the development ofthis grade of prayer comes to us fromSt. Francis de Sales. If you are interested,his book, Introduction to the DevoutLife, is an excellent resource writtenspecifically to help lay people seek outholiness in their everyday lives.READ MORE
This article is the first in a five-part series onwhat are known as the nine grades of prayer.These were primarily revealed to us by St. Teresaof Avila and we’ve learned more over time fromothers like St. Francis de Sales and St. John of theCross.
First, let’s begin with what prayer is in a generalsense. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church,paragraphs #2559-2565, we find an in-depthexamination of prayer. But essentially, it iscommunication with God. However, it is notsimply talking to God with words, rather it isjoining your heart to His in love and making thecommunication a loving dialogue between thosetwo hearts. Just as with any relationship, themore the loving dialogue flows, the deeper theunion becomes and the more intimate thecommunication. As we’ll learn, the nine grades ofprayer are the stages and types of prayer whichdraw a soul into deeper and deeper union with God.It is important to note that each grade is notexclusive. In other words, when you move fromone grade to the next, you are not done with allof the previous grades. You will ebb and flow asyou move between the grades and you willalways need to return to the foundational forms.It is also important to note that in grades onethrough four, the individual is the primary moverand in grades five through nine, God is the primarymover. What this means is that for the first fourgrades, you, as the prayer, are in control of yourfaculties and self-discipline to work your waythrough the grades. In doing so, you may merit,by God’s will, progression into the final fivegrades where you become passive and God worksin you. In the final five grades, the individual cannotdecide to turn it off or on, rather God decideshow and when He will commune with the heartand soul. Do not be overwhelmed or discouraged!We’ll begin at the beginning and we will discussall of this in more detail as we progress throughthe grades.READ MORE
Today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. The infinite mercy of God is something so grand and awesome, that we have been blessed with a day on our liturgical calendar dedicated to meditating upon it. What exactly is Divine Mercy and how does it relate to us and our lives practically?READ MORE
Dear beloved parishioners of Corpus Christi, Easter blessings to you all! If you have been watching our live-streamed Masses, you will have noticed during the Holy Triduum liturgies, and now through the Easter season, that Fr. Rey and I are celebrating the Mass ad orientam, literally meaning “toward the East” or toward God, rather than toward the people. There are many reasons we have decided to do this at this time:READ MORE
Now that Lent is coming to an end and Easter is on the horizon, it is time to reﬂect on the cross as our hope and salvation. After the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, our intended permanent state of perfect holiness and perfect union with God disappeared which had catastrophic consequences for the rest of the generations of humanity that were to follow. You can read any book in the Bible and see that we have been sinning ever since Adam and Eve and things never turn out well until God steps in and does something about it. You can see the eﬀects of sin all around you now, both in your own personal life and in the world at large around you. It’s amazing how good we humans are at messing up, even when our greatest desire may be to never sin again. In our human weakness, we have no ability to break out of the shackles of our sins without God’s help.READ MORE
There is no doubt that the cross is the most recognized symbol of Christianity. It symbolizes what our Lord endured for us, what we carry, and our hope for salvation. There is so much meaning wrapped up in this one symbol of our faith. Today, we will take a closer look at one specific aspect of the symbolism of the cross as it relates to our life and our faith.
Not by coincidence, the cross is made up of two beams of wood – one vertical and one horizontal. The vertical beam symbolizes your relationship with God while the horizontal beam represents your relationship with others. You need both to form a cross. You need both to be Christian.READ MORE
Last week we covered how when we go to the foot of the cross, we are present at the actual sacrifice Jesus made for us. Another way we are present and participating is by crucifying Him ourselves through our acts of sin. This is a tough one to swallow, but the cross is actually where we personally continue to participate in the crucifixion of Jesus every single day.
Paragraph #598 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church has a rather dense explanation of this truth, which I will attempt to unpack here. First, the Catechism says that this teaching is supported by our Tradition which has been handed down by all the Christians who have come before us. The very first Christians recognized that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured” and that it was not merely an act of the Jews who were condemning him or the Roman soldiers who were carrying it out. In other words, this is not an invented form of “Catholic guilt,” but an understanding of the reality of what the crucifixion actually meant, from the earliest followers of Christ. That understanding was then passed down through the generations to us in the Church.READ MORE
This week we will reflect on what took place at the foot of the cross and how we participate in it still today.
The gospel of John tells us who was at the foot of the cross when Jesus was crucified: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdala.” (Jn 19:25). Of course, John was also present as this was when he was entrusted with Jesus’ mother, Mary (Jn 19:27). As you can see, there were not very many people there. Jesus had many friends and followers who followed him around in crowds numbering in the thousands, forcing him to perform miracles just to feed them. He had 12 dedicated Apostles as his closest friends, yet only one remained at the foot of the cross. Here Jesus was, at the apex of his suffering out of love for us, and he was abandoned by all but a few people. This fact is not unlike what is going on today around us. Many Christians today claim to love Jesus, but how far are they really willing to go for Him? To be standing at the foot of a cross where a man is suffering and dying is not a comfortable place to be and many are not willing to be that uncomfortable.
The second thing that is important to notice in the scene at the foot of the cross is that Mary, His mother, is standing. She is not sittng or flailing about, she is standing. There is no doubt that Mary’s suffering was second only to Jesus’. Simeon had prophesied to her that a sword would pierce her heart (Lk 2:35) and that moment had finally come. Yet, she handles her suffering with dignity and conviction, standing before her crucified Son. Her strength and perseverance in the midst of such horrendous suffering serves as our example in our own suffering. Of course, in our fallen nature, we so often fall to the ground or flail about under the weight of our suffering, but we should al- ways strive to follow Mary’s suffering. The next time we feel tempted to collapse, we can ask ourselves if our suffering matches the suffering of Jesus or Mary and when we see that it does not, we can ask for her strength and stand strong under the weight of it.READ MORE
“As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who
was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” (Lk 23:26).
This week we will reflect on the cross as that burden which we help others carry. Jesus did not carry His cross alone. He was battered and beaten and the cross was heavy. In His humanity, it simply became too much for Him and it became apparent that He wasn’t going to make it if left to His own strength. A bystander who had nothing to do with the situation, but was strong and healthy, was called in to help. By all accounts, Simon of Cyrene was compelled by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross, but it is hard to imagine that after seeing Jesus suffering so much, he wasn’t moved with pity and compassion.
Last week we discussed how in bearing our own crosses, we cooperate with Jesus in His redemptive work. In a very literal and physical way, Simon assisted Jesus in His redemptive work in the Passion. Jesus was doing the hard work, but Simon helped Him. At the time Simon carried the cross, he had no idea the good that would come about at the end of this terrible event. He could not see the big picture – the eternal picture. Of course, divine providence knew how it would all unfold, and Simon was placed in exactly the right place at the right time. This wasn’t an accident. Everything that happens in Scripture is intentional and has meaning for us. Simon of Cyrene shows us how we are called to help others carry their crosses in the spirit of sincere charity because all of it is redemptive for the Body of Christ.READ MORE
This Lent, we will progress through a six-week series of reflections on the cross and its various roles and purposes in our lives. We will begin with a reflection on the cross as something we ourselves carry and ultimately, die upon.
Jesus, the Son of God made man, came into this world in flesh to restore humanity from the damage caused by sin. The humanity of Jesus plays a significant role for our salvation. He became like us, lived like us, and suffered like us, so that we might imitate Him in all things. Through His Passion and crucifixion, we learn much about how to carry our own crosses and die upon them as well.READ MORE