Monthly Archives: July 2018

Coming Together as A Faith Community

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In the Gospel of John, the Evangelist often refers to the miracles that Jesus performs as signs because they point to something more significant and some of the signs or important events happen near the time of Passover. The Passover was and is the Jewish celebration of their deliverance form their captivity in Egypt. After the Angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites that were marked with the blood of a lamb, he struck down the first born of Pharaoh and all the Egyptians. After this event, Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt.

Jesus is not only the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, he is also the fulfillment of the Passover, because he is the Lamb of God who shed his blood to save us from eternal death. That’s why the Feast of the Passover is so significant in the ministry of Jesus.

Jesus’ first miracle took place at the wedding feast of Cana. We remember how he changed the water in six stone jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons, into wine. A Scripture commentary states,

“The vast quantity recalls the prophecies of abundance in the last days.”

This miracle or sign not only fulfills prophecy, it is Eucharistic because it points toward the wine that will be changed into the blood of Christ

“…which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”

After this first miracle of Jesus, the Scripture says that he and his mother and disciples went down to Capernaum for only a few days. The next sentence says,

“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”

Today’s Gospel also mentions that the Jewish feast of Passover is near and the miracle, or sign that Jesus will perform, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is also Eucharistic because it points to the bread that will be changed into the Body of Christ which will feed the multitudes until the end of time. An interesting point in this Gospel is that Jesus asks Philip,

“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat,”

even though he already knew what he was going to do. There is a message here for us. When we are confronted with challenges and trials and we ask the Lord for help, he may ask us what contribution we will make to resolve the difficulty. Perhaps it is our prayer and fasting or it may be the use of the gifts that we have received from the Holy Spirit in baptism. We all have something that the Lord can use and he wants us to be involved in the resolution.

Another interesting point;

“Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.”

This abundance of grass means it was spring time, which again is the time of Passover. About three weeks ago our pilgrim group visited the Mt. of Beatitudes where we could over look the beautiful Sea of Galilee and this very spot where Jesus performed this miracle. As you look down from the mount toward the Sea you will find an area that is almost shaped like an amphitheater which could easily accommodate thousands of people. This is where Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish in order to feed thousands of his followers. This was a real miracle that showed Jesus power of matter and it happened in a real place that you can visit today.

This miracle of the multiplication is a prelude to Jesus discourse on the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, which he proclaims to the crowds that seek him out the next day. He admonishes them because they were interested primarily in the food he had provided. He then explains to them at great length that he is the Bread of Life which they must eat if they are to have eternal life. Four times he tells them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood if they are to live forever. Many of his followers found this teaching to difficult to accept and would no longer follow him.

The final Passover that Jesus celebrates is what we call the Last Supper. This event ties together the miracle of the wine and the miracle of the loaves. At the Last Supper Jesus not only teaches his Apostles that they must be servants of one another by washing their feet; he also institutes the priesthood and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

The Apostles who faithfully stayed with Jesus because they believed in him will finally understand how Jesus will give them his blood to drink and his flesh to eat. They become his first priests and Jesus will change bread and wine into his own body and blood through their hands and the hands of all the priests who will follow them.

The Holy Eucharist is a mystery of God’s love for us. At this Eucharist which we celebrate today and at every Eucharist celebrated everyday, every where in the world, Jesus Christ makes present to us his passion, death and resurrection. When we come to worship our Triune God we transcend time as we join the angels and saints offering praise and glory to Almighty God. We also have the opportunity to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ if we are properly prepared and disposed.

This is not an empty ritual as some may think. Jesus loves us so much that he gives us himself under the appearance of bread and wine, but not all who receive Holy Communion receive the same benefit. It depends on how we have prepared.

Have we fasted for one hour from everything except water and medicine?

The purpose of this small fast is to remind us that we are about to enter into a supernatural experience.

How long has it been since we have gone to confession?

We cannot receive the Lord in Communion if we have serious sin on our soul. Sin is an obstacle to the grace that Jesus wants us to receive.

Are we dressed as if we were going to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ?

Sunday Mass should be the high point of our week because we come together as a faith community to bear witness to our love for God and one another and His love for us. Jesus wants us to receive a super abundance of his grace, but he also wants us to be prepared to enter into intimacy with him so that we can be transformed by his love and then truly live our faith and share it with others.

This blog was Deacon Tom’s homily for the 17th Sunday (B) in Ordinary Time

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:00 -8:30 p.m.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. 

 

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Silence Can Lead to Peace

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We live in the most talkative age in the history of the world.  It would take millions of men and women in previous ages to communicate to others the same information which one person today provides in a single broadcast.

Do you think that the love of noise and excitement in modern civilization is due in part to the fact that people are unhappy on the inside?  Noise exteriorizes us, distracts us and can sometimes make us forget worries for the moment.  Let’s face it… noise; whether it’d be electronic, people, or even music; it can fill us, but not fulfill us.

Almost everyone desires some sense of peace, but we usually look in the wrong places.  Jesus said:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  (John 14:27)

Silence is a beginning. Mother Teresa explains it well:

 “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. … If your heart is full of worldly things, you cannot hear the voice of God.  But when you have listened to his voice in the silence of your heart, then your heart is filled.”

How does one find God in silence?  By opening the door of your heart.  A Key that can help open that door:  Our free will to choose to begin!

Okay – so we want to start!

Begin 3-5 minutes daily by simply being, not doing anything or reading. Don’t give up if you are distracted.  Ask God for His help, the grace of silence. Thank God for silence.
Silence in daily life is possible!

  • eliminate radio time while driving, cooking, washing dishes.
  • wake up in the morning in silence,  (without TV news, or  music)

 

Do not be afraid to be in silence.  The fruit of silence can be a deeper desire to pray, to ponder, to think before making choices or decisions.  Silence can lead us to peace in our hearts.   Remember, Mother Teresa’s words:  God is a friend of silence.

The Pilgrim Center of Hope has a Chapel Gethsemane with Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence.  Come and spend time in silence in our Chapel open Monday through Friday; 8:30am – 5:30pm.  We, at the Pilgrim Center of Hope, offer Morning and Evening Reflections for prayer groups, parish churches, organizations.

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:00 -8:30 p.m.

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. 

Can I Get a Witness?

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In 2 Peter 1:3-8, we read,

His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love. If these are yours and increase in abundance, they will keep you from being idle or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The author of this letter is teaching us. He explains the spiritual steps we can learn to ensure we remain on the path that leads us closer to God daily:

  • Faith, to..
  • Virtue, to..
  • Knowledge, to..
  • Self Control, to..
  • Endurance, to..
  • Devotion, to..
  • Mutual affection to love

What makes this lesson especially worth listening to, is that the author is also a witness.

In Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), Pope Paul VI, writes,

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Long before he became Saint Peter, he was Simon; a son of a man named Jonah, a husband and fisherman. Thanks to an encounter with Jesus Christ, Simon began a journey of faith in being Peter; an Apostle, the rock on which Jesus would build his Church and the first Pope.

It was not an easy road for him, and it never ceased to be a journey. In his book, The Priest is Not His Own, Archbishop Fulton Sheen writes,

“Peter never entirely got rid of Simon. But once called, Simon never ceased to be Peter.”

Even at his martyrdom, he felt unworthy; insisting on being crucified upside down, as he did not merit the death of his Lord.

Saint Peter is a perfect example of a missionary of hope; one who continues to grow humbly in faith as he boldly proclaims Christ’s Gospel message.

We can imagine this letter being penned after years of traveling those spiritual steps; often going forth and back as he gauged his progress and discerned where he may have veered off road. His witness gives us confidence in the merit of learning from teachings of Scripture and by daily walking what we have been taught.

Jesus did not wait for Simon Peter to be perfect, nor does he wait for us.

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:00 -8:30 p.m.

We at Pilgrim Center of Hope embrace this message of hope! We are a small staff, hundreds of volunteers, benefactors, and prayer intercessors; living as missionaries of hope!  We invite you to join us. Come and see! Visit Pilgrim Center of Hope in-person or online.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are You Looking For?

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That is the question Jesus asked two of John the Baptist’s disciples who began to follow him.  Let’s read the story:

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  The two disciples* heard what he said and followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?”  He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” (John 1:35-39).

It is interesting that one of John’s disciple that was following Jesus didn’t answer Jesus’ question immediately; he instead said Where are you staying? Perhaps we can relate to this response; not knowing what to answer when asked What are you looking for?

The question Jesus asks is an important one. Whether we realize it or not, that is a question that stirs in the heart of every one of us. More often than not, people are trying to find the answer through accomplishments as measured by society. So then why is it that so many people who have accomplished great things are still looking to satisfy that question? It is not a rare thing to discover in the news that someone who we thought successful has turned to drugs, alcohol or even suicide.

The reality is, we can only find the answer to that question in the One who asked it of the disciples. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; outside of him, the pursuit of our purpose for being on this earth will end in sadness and even hopelessness.  It was St. Augustine who said, “Our hearts are restless O’ Lord until they rest in you”. Some of the most renowned sinners in history have become persons filled with joy, peace and hope by following the One who asked the question, “What are you looking for?”

As you are reading this, believe you are loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father.   You can begin anew today.  How?  Imagine yourself walking with Jesus; He knows you, he looks into your eyes and sees who you are.  Oh sure, He knows what you have done in the past, but that is the past.  He invites you to begin anew, to follow Him now and begin a new life filled with peace and hope.  Ask Jesus to touch your heart with His healing hand.  Experience his love by accepting Jesus into your heart and then follow him.

 

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Benedict of Nusia will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Tuesday, July 31st from 6:00 -8:30 p.m.

“Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.”

Is Your Daily Schedule Founded on Christ?

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“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Those are the words of St. Augustine, who before having a profound conversion, lived a sinful lifestyle, which included living with a mistress and fathering a child out of wedlock.

In today’s society, it’s easy to get out of touch with God and our faith. For too many, the spiritual life has gotten deferred and neglected in the midst of worldly occupations, pleasures, pursuits, and distractions.

A Gallup report, released earlier this year, indicates that between 2014 and 2017 only about 39-percent of Catholics attended church in any given week. That’s down from 45-percent between 2005 and 2008, and way down from the 75-percent of Catholics who reported going to Mass on Sunday’s in 1955.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that, Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done(Genesis 2:2),” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives (CCC, no. 2184).

When asked why they don’t go to Mass, read the Bible or pray, many people will say they just don’t have the time.

The downward trajectory of Sunday Mass attendance by Catholics who have pushed aside keeping the Sabbath holy, speaks to the need for balance and temperance in everyday life, our theme for the month of July.

Balance Is Key

Balance is important, Pope Francis said, for protecting individuals, their families, society and the environment.

The balance Pope Francis speaks of is contingent on Christ being at the center of our daily life.

When I have spent time daily focused on God, He has multiplied my time (enough to go around) just as Jesus did with the fishes and the loaves that fed the multitude (cf. John 6: 1-15).

Clear Away the Obstacles

 Ultimately, we need to clear away all the obstacles that hinder us from drawing near to Christ. Throughout the day, there needs to be a steady flow of nourishment for our soul. How we start the day is crucial to keeping our soul from withering.

This is the perfect time to mention St. Josemaria Escriva, whose legacy is the belief that each of us can, by God’s grace, achieve holiness through the course of ordinary life and work. Here’s what he had to say about how to start the day:

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in the moment,you have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day(The Way, no. 191).

Spiritual Routine A Must

 When I get up each day, I make the sign of the Cross and say, Good morning Lord, praise your holy name, I offer you this day with love and thanksgiving. Then I get on to the spiritual & religious practices which have become a regular part of my day:

  • Morning prayers
  • Spiritual reading – New Testament or book suggested by a priest (spiritual advisor)
  • Praying the Angelus or Regina Coeli at noon to honor Our Lady
  • Praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Evening Prayers
  • Examination of Conscience

Over the years I have added the Rosary to my daily prayers. I also have a spiritual advisor (a priest or deacon) to guide and advise me. My routine took time to develop, but boy am I glad I did. Having a daily spiritual routine has enabled me to grow in faith and in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Developing a daily spiritual routine is a gradual process to always be seen as a work in progress. Ultimately, the goal should be to find ways to have God at the center of your daily life, and to contribute to that relationship through prayer, Scripture and other spiritual practices, so as to grow in faith and holiness.

 

“Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.”