Fasting is an important part of Lent, as well as a useful tool for growing in virtue in general. Before we look into how fasting helps us on our Christian journey, let’s first reflect on how the Catholic Church understands and deals with human suffering.
In Catholicism we have a concept called “redemptive suffering.” What this means is that, in actively and willfully joining our sufferings to the Cross, we cooperate with Jesus in our own (and others’) redemption, effectively making us co-redeemers. Non-Catholics tend to have a problem with this concept, citing 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human.” The argument here is that since Jesus is the “one” mediator, there can be no others and certainly not our imperfect selves. However, Catholics understand this differently and it begins with language. In Latin, the prefix “co-” means “with,” not “equal to.” Therefore, when we say we are co-redeemers and that we co-operate in our redemption, we mean that we are participating with Jesus’ saving work, but in a subordinate way. With this understanding, we clearly do not take away from Jesus’ position as the one mediator between God and man, yet still enable ourselves to actually participate in the saving work required to get us to heaven.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters, our readings today are so rich and full but before I jump into our reflection beginning with our well-known and powerful first reading of Moses and the burning bush, let us pause and ask God that we too will encounter our Lord as Moses did. To warn you though, you might find this homily a stronger homily than others, and like Moses, it might make you a little uncomfortable, but I would not be doing what I’m called to do as your pastor if I don’t.READ MORE
Last week, in our reflection on virtue, we examined the Cardinal Virtues which primarily order our relationship with one another. This week, we will spend some time looking more closely at the Theological Virtues.
The three Theological Virtues are those that order man to God, allowing him to participate in God’s own Trinitarian, divine life. They provide the foundation for the Christian’s entire moral life because they guide, direct, and give life to all other virtues. These virtues are gifts given to us by God freely and it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to accept and use them. The three Theological Virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity.READ MORE
As we continue our Lenten journey, focusing on our personal growth in virtue, we should seek to understand what virtue is and how we can practically apply it in our lives to replace sin. There are countless virtues, as any act that allows you to turn away from sin, while turning toward the love of God and the love of your neighbor, is a virtuous act. Virtues like patience, chastity, humility, and gentleness may come to mind and they would all be correct. However, every virtue you can imagine is rooted in seven virtues — the four Human or Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological Virtues. This week, we will reflect on the four Human/Cardinal Virtues.READ MORE
Most of us are likely aware that Lent is a time for increased fasting, praying, and almsgiving as we imitate Jesus in preparation for the saving work completed through his Passion and Crucifixion. In order to prepare himself for what was to come, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days. He fasted and endured relentless temptations by Satan who promised Him all sorts of worldly delights if He would simply give in to him (Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11). In denying Himself gratification during this period of temptation, Jesus was spiritually strengthened and fortified. Recognizing these same benefits for us, the Church prescribes us an annual Lenten journey to spiritually fortify us and allow us to participate in our own redemption as we continue on this pathway towards salvation.READ MORE
Now is the time of renovations! As I hope you are aware, the plans for renovating the Parish Center are beginning and we are forming a consulting and design committee (see the back cover for more info). The actual construction will begin once we receive enough funds from the Together Let Us Go Forth diocesan campaign.READ MORE
Ready or not, the season of Lent begins Wednesday. Yes, we celebrate Ash Wednesday in a couple of days. Are you ready, do you know how you are going to draw closer to our Lord this season? What you’re going to give up or take on this Lent? Perhaps you’re thinking, whoa I can’t believe the season is upon me already, so maybe I’ll just do what I’ve done before. Well, before you think about falling into that pattern of doing what you’ve always done, let us first think about what the purpose of lent is and reflect on what Jesus says in our Gospel today. Have you ever thought about what the purpose of Lent might be? Maybe you’re thinking, well it is to prepare for Easter. Yes, you’re right, then what is the purpose of Easter? As you know, during Holy Week and Easter we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Easter and the Resurrection is the source of our salvation, the source of the forgiveness of our sins. A couple of weeks ago, St. Paul in the second reading said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; you are still stuck in your sins”. Jesus took all the sins of humanity, past, present, and future, to the Cross, and by his Death and Resurrection, then we have the forgiveness of our sins, that is, we don’t have to be stuck in our sins. Therefore, if the purpose of Lent is to prepare us for Easter, then it should be said, that the purpose of Lent is to help make the Death and Resurrection of Jesus effective in our lives, which will lead us to grow in our discipleship of following Jesus more closely. Have you thought about that- the purpose of Lent is to help you grow in holiness and follow Jesus more closely? Many people tend to give up something, usually something small, during Lent, and then look forward to taking it up again, sometimes over-indulging after Easter. If that has been you, think about if have you met the goal of growing closer to God by doing that? It is OK to give up something, even something small, but we must do it for the purpose it is intended. The purpose is to grow and strengthen your self-discipline so that the discipline can then be applied to another area of need in our lives. But ideally, the purpose of Lent is to begin something that will help bring about a lasting change in us away from sin and closer to God. Now let’s look at the Gospel for a few ideas.READ MORE
I want to spend some time reflecting on three fundamental truths of the Catholic faith and how their interconnectedness helps us to cooperate in our own redemption and the redemption of others. God, in all of His divine genius, has created a beautiful gift for us in the Church and it’s important for us to learn how it all works so that we can utilize this gift thoroughly.READ MORE
Our Gospel today continues the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in which Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are to live as set apart from the world, which as we just heard is a very high expectation. Jesus calls us to ‘love our enemies’. Yes, Jesus means those people we so often try to avoid because they annoy and frustrate us, we are called to love and do good to them. And if that isn’t hard enough, Jesus seemingly commands his disciples to do the impossible: be merciful as our Father is merciful. So often, we can hear Jesus’ teaching and perhaps feel a little, OK, better said, A LOT overwhelmed and unqualified, just like the first disciples must have felt. However, in this homily instead of trying to stir us on to do that which is so difficult, let me reflect on our 2nd readings from this week and last week to help shed light on one very critical aspect which makes our difficult task possible, and not so unbelievable as the first disciples must have thought. Indeed, this critical point makes it possible for us, but it also heightens the urgency and severity to Jesus’ words, and should make it more convicting for us. To do this, I am going to need your participation. Throughout this homily, I want you to be thinking about one very important question. That very important question is: Why are there so many atheists and agnostics in the world today?READ MORE
To begin my homily, I have two questions for you: First, raise your hand if you want to be happy? I know that’s a crazy question, of course all of you raised your hands because we all want to be happy. In fact, true happiness is what we were made for! Good, today Jesus tells us how to be happy.
Second, raise your hand if you want to be a Disciple? Good, I do too. If you remember in last week’s Gospel, Jesus called Peter, James, and John to become fishers of men and they left everything to become Jesus’ disciple. This week in our Gospel, Jesus gathered the 12 disciples with a large group of people and began to teach them what it means to be a disciple. So those who raised your hand and said you also wanted to become Jesus’ disciple, listen up. Our Gospel reading says that Jesus “raised his eyes to his disciples and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours”. Sound familiar? Yes, today we heard Luke’s version of the Beatitudes. You are probably familiar with Matthew’s Beatitudes- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted, and so forth”. And even though both Gospels say ‘Blessed’, the Hebrew word Jesus uses in both versions more accurately means ‘happiness’ or ‘to be happy’, of course if you follow Jesus’ directions, you indeed will be both happy and Blessed! There are also some differences in Luke’s version compared to Matthew’s. First of all, Luke uses the 2nd person- and he says ‘blessed are you’, rather than Matthew’s more general 3rd person- in which he uses ‘blessed are they’. And secondly, Luke’s version is more rigid and imposing, as there is a whole list of woes or curses included, which is quite the different tone from Matthew’s nice and comforting version. Therefore, can you imagine the disciples listening intently as Jesus looked into their eyes and said, “Blessed, Happy are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Happy are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. I imagine those words were consoling, after all, keep in mind, the 12 disciples left behind their families, their jobs, and all the comforts of home to follow Jesus. But then Jesus goes on to say, “Happy are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven”. I can imagine the disciples after hearing this last declaration of what it means to be happy, were like ‘I don’t want to think about people hating, excluding, and insulting me. Uh Jesus, can you go back to what you said earlier, those are more comforting?’READ MORE
As many of you know, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who considers himself Catholic, has gone further than any other politician (so far) in making it legal to perform abortions up to birth. Furthermore, they do not have to be performed by a licensed doctor. So, what have we learned?
1. We need to do a good job of investigating and discerning who we vote for! I wonder how many Catholics in New York voted for him just because he was a so-called Catholic, without really looking at his platform? I also wonder how many of those who voted for Cuomo, did so because of his stance on other issues, or even because of his proabortion stance, who are now sorry they have voted for a politician who would go to this extreme? I wonder if they are now second-guessing their decision to make his stance on other issues as more important than his view on life? I have no ties to New York and I do not know, but I wonder. Therefore, we need to investigate and research which candidates will work for what is closest to our beliefs as Catholics. It also shows that we must have a voice. We cannot allow the politicians to govern according to their agendas, instead of serving the people, and so we, the people, must speak up and declare abortion is murder and is not to be tolerated (and especially not celebrated!)READ MORE
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our Diocese is blessed with people who are moved by the grace of God’s love and motivated to share that love with others. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion, and I am so grateful for the love and compassion you share with those who are served by the Charity & Development Appeal (CDA).
Every gift to the CDA helps transform the lives of people who seek the loving presence of Christ. Thank you for helping 70 ministries, apostolates and organizations to serve those who seek the grace of God’s love.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
†Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Welcome back, class. Again, keep in mind that in this section of the class we are discovering who God really is. And so, if you remember last week, we learned that Jesus went into the synagogue of his home town, and read the prophecy from Isaiah in which the future Messiah, the Anointed One of God, will bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. Then Jesus startlingly declared that that prophecy, the long-awaited coming of the Messiah, had been fulfilled in their midst. In other words, Jesus declared Himself to be the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Before I go more into today’s lesson which describes who God is, first, let’s look at how the people responded to Jesus’ declaration that He was the Messiah, “all were amazed at his gracious words that came from his mouth”. Amazed at his gracious words, I’m hoping I’m misinterpreting how Luke meant it. But if not, what a reaction! In other words, ‘oh good, thank you for being the Messiah’, oh, gee, thank you for being the One who brings good news and freedom’. Gosh, I sure hope they didn’t get it, or really did not fully understood the magnitude of what Jesus was saying, because I’d expect jumping up and down for joy, I’d expect they would be running to tell everyone who they saw, or at the very least a little more heartfelt gratitude, anything other than a passing thanks without much meaning. But wait, that rings familiar to me, isn’t that how you and I can sometimes approach God? With so much indifference, like we don’t really recognize the magnitude of who He is, and we don’t really know or fully understand all that God has done and is doing for us.READ MORE