Following Christ

03-30-2014Pastor's LetterLyn Anderson

Dear Parish Family,

Have you ever had the experience of listening to the radio, a song is playing and you are immediately transported to another place and time. Or maybe, a smell or spoken phrase conjures memories long forgotten. In reading this week’s Gospel from John 9:1-41, the story of the man born blind, I was carried back in time to Alejandro Cabral Hospital in San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic.

Several years ago I had an opportunity as an ophthalmic operating room nurse to volunteer in a medical mission during Lent. Vision Health International was invited by the Diocese of Orlando to see and treat as many patients in a one week period as safely possible. The patients came from many communities as far away as Haiti - on donkey or walking, some alone and some with their entire family. Most had pre-registered tickets for admission to treatment, but some came without tickets in the hope of still seeing a doctor. A few patients believed that their vision loss was due to their sin, or God’s judgment on the sins of their family - resulting in blindness, disfigurement or vision loss.

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Mary, Mother of God

03-23-2014Pastor's LetterSister Barbara

Dear Parish Family,

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man name Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary". The angel told her that she found favor with God and that she would conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. He would be called the Son of the Most High...(Lk. 1:26) This Gospel will be read on Tuesday March 25th, the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. On this day Mary gave her "yes to become the Mother of Our Savior. All throughout the Old Testament history the Israelites waited for the Messiah to come. There was great rejoicing in heaven at the moment Mary gave her fiat. There will be great rejoicing this Tuesday as we gather to celebrate at St. Magdalen de Pazzi Church.

Last Saturday there was a retreat for 137 second graders and their parents. Five presentations were made throughout the morning. One presentation was The Wedding Feast at Cana. As the scripture was read the story was acted out by some of the youth in our parish. St. Luke tells us in his Gospel that Mary was present at that wedding and noticed that the wine was running out. In those days, to have something like this happen was a great embarrassment for the bride and groom. Mary was the one who noticed what had happened and went to Jesus saying simply, "They have no wine". Jesus knew it wasn't time for Him to reveal who He was. However, Mary said to the servants, "Do whatever He tells you". We know that after the jugs were filled with water, Jesus performed His first miracle by changing the water into wine. It was through Mary's intercession. Jesus heard her request.

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Music During Lent

03-16-2014Pastor's LetterCheryl Manfredonia

Dear Parish Family,

Throughout the year, the Catholic Church makes certain changes to the Mass to reflect the liturgical season. Next to the change in the color of the priest's vestments and altar cloth, the absence of the Gloria and Alleluia during Lent is probably the most obvious.

Have you ever wondered exactly why we don't sing these two Mass Propers during Lent? These changes in our ritual throughout the year can be viewed as moving up and down a sliding scale of 'magnificence' so that it will be clear even to the youngest child, what's really important in the full spectrum of what the Church believes.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the number one mystery Christians celebrate, so it's enhanced with three days of intense liturgy (the Triduum), a full week of solemn commemoration (Holy Week), preceded by 40 days of penitential preparation (the season of Lent). Along with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to get ready for Easter, the church also fasts from singing the GLORIA and ALLELUIA.

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Happy Lent!

03-09-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Tim Christy

Dear Parish Family:

Happy Lent!

As I began my announcements at the end of Mass last week, I said " I have some great news!" I paused. Then I said "Lent starts this week!" There was some soft laughter and some sighs through the Church. But I was serious. I think the Church is serious, because Jesus is serious. Conversion is the only thing that is not boring, rote or ever goes out of fashion. That is to say our ongoing need to recognize our God's central place in our lives is never ever done. The good news is Jesus knows we aren't finished yet. You and I are given another chance this Lent to go deeper, to be more true and authentic in our relationships with Him and others.

The first week of Lent we always meet the dramatic Gospel reading of Christ being led into the desert where he is tempted. The ultimate temptation is his obedience to the Father. Satan wants him to abandon trust in God's love and plan. He remains faithful to His call to be a human being and not resort to divine power to avoid the excesses of the human condition; power, pleasure, prestige. Every year we need this time to refocus and discover how we have allowed something other than obedience to God take over our lives. We can easily allow mediocrity to creep in and even fully abandon our call to discipleship.

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03-02-2014Pastor's LetterDeacon Ted

Dear Parish Family,

These words were used in the 1960's in a very popular show about outer space to describe the journey of that spacecraft and crew. Today I use them to describe our journey, the one that starts this coming Wednesday – our journey of the Season of Lent, 2014.

Lent is a time to seek out who we are, and who we should be, as followers of Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity given to us by our Church to spend time thinking about our lives, and to see if we need to change things within our lives, within our hearts, and within our families. To seek out new life within.

Although we all may have been through many Seasons of Lent in our lives, no two are ever the same. We are different people each Lenten season, with different situations, different priorities, different schedules, etc. No one has ever been through the Season of Lent in 2014 and so our journey this Lent is like no other. It is an opportunity for each of us to boldly, and courageously, and prayerfully go where no one has gone before.

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Praised be Jesus Christ!

02-23-2014Pastor's LetterAndrew Prickel

So much is happening in evangelization and a feeling of total gratitude fills my heart when I ponder all that God is doing. The first of three "Encounter retreats" occurred on February 1 st and was completely Spirit-led. Many on the retreat recalled having an authentic "encounter" with the Lord throughout the day that they had never had before and desired to "have more" going forward. Here is one testimony from one of our young adults about the retreat.

"First, thank you and to all the others who made the retreat happen this past weekend. This was my first retreat and I too felt blessed and honored to have been there. Each of the speakers was right on and I took away a little something important from each. I was also blessed in many other little interactions and conversations that day. Overall, I had a sense of peace throughout the day that I don't often feel in many settings. Moreover, spending all that time in the beautiful chapel with Jesus made for a very sweet day. Much needed."

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Youth Ministry

02-16-2014Pastor's LetterMichele Beckman

Dear Parish Family,

"Keep Calm and Go to Youth Group"

This saying was given to me on a poster as a Christmas gift from one of the Youth Ministry teens, and it is amazing to me how this phrase, which is a play on the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" from the 1939 motivational poster of the British government, so appropriately describes what attending Youth Ministry can do for a teenager and his/her relationship with God. Attending a Youth Ministry event is not simply coming to hang out in the gym. It is the opportunity to relate to other teenagers in the way that Christ calls us to be in relationship with each other and to see the face of God.

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The Sacrament of Marriage

02-09-2014Pastor's LetterRosemary and Deacon Stephen Kern

Dear Parish Family,

Valentine's Day is this coming Friday. For many of us it is a time to share a special expression of love with those we are close to. As Catholics, we also celebrate St. Valentine who is believed to have been a priest arrested and martyred by Emperor Claudius II for performing marriages for Christian couples secretly during a time of persecution of the Church. Legend has it that he sent letters of encouragement to his fellow Christians signing them: "From Your Valentine."

In light of St. Valentine's ministry, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated the week of February 7-14, 2014 as National Marriage Week USA in order to promote the benefits of marriage for men, women, children and society; to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage; and to affirm and support engaged and married couples. The gift and blessing of marriage is often misunderstood and under-appreciated in our current culture. Jesus, who in Scripture is frequently referred to as the bridegroom and His followers as the bride, has bestowed great dignity on sacramental marriage. In fact, out of compassion for the bride and groom and at the urging of His Blessed Mother, He performed His first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. We ask that you remember all married couples in your prayers during this week, asking our Lord to help them to always be open to the graces of their sacrament as they strive to live out their wedding vows on a daily basis.

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World Day of Prayer

02-02-2014Pastor's LetterSr. Pat

Dear Parish Family,

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This feast originated in fourth- century Jerusalem. It later was moved to Antioch and Constantinople where it received the name Hypapante,( meeting), a reference to the encounter that occurs between Jesus and Simeon in the gospel today. In the early Middle Ages, the practice of lighting candles was added to the celebration of the liturgy. This feast has been known by several names: Presentation of the Lord, Candlemas Day, and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 1969 reform of the liturgical calendar restored the title of the Presentation of the Lord.

In 1997, Pope John Paul ll, established the annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated on February 2nd. In the Pope's message to establish this special day of prayer, for men and women who serve the Church and the world in consecrated life, he pointed out how the presentation of Jesus in the Temple was an "eloquent icon" of the total offering of one's life and therefore pre- sented a wonderful occasion to pray for all those who have made such an offering of their lives.

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The Joy of the Gospel

01-19-2014Pastor's LetterSister Barbara

Greetings to all in this New Year,

Recently our Holy Father Francis wrote an Apostolic Exhortation to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful called "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel). The Pope has a way of speaking and writing from his heart. It seems that he has a burning desire to want us to draw close to Jesus. He calls each one of us to an encounter—or a renewed encounter—with God's love. This should impel us to bring others to Jesus. He reminds us that with Christ, joy is the echo of God's life in us.

This reminds me of the joy I recently experienced through the many volunteers who came to beautify our Church for Christmas. The joy that pervaded in the midst of all this work made God's life very visible to me. To all involved, thank you for your joy.

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Christmas

01-12-2014Pastor's LetterDeacon Ted

Dear Parish Family,

CHRISTMAS is becoming Christmas again!!!

It was an amazing Christmas season! Not white as I always hope for (thanks to summer like tempatures the Monday before Christmas!). But the feeling of Christmas throughout the month of December felt a lot more like Christmas and a lot less Politically Correct this year, at least to me. Here are some of the things I remember from this past Christmas Season, where I found Christ in Christmas:

Christmas Carol music in malls and stores that included songs of a religious nature
A radio station advertisement about God's peace at Christmastime
Songs being played on radio stations that were religious in nature
Several comic strips in the Sunday papers with a religious theme
Cashiers and clerks wishing me a "Merry Christmas."

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Deeper Encounter with Jesus

01-05-2014Pastor's LetterAndrew Prickel

Praised be Jesus Christ!

In November, Pope Francis came out with an apostolic exhortation entitled, "the Joy of the Gospel" in which he encouraged Christians to be open to experience Jesus Christ in deeper ways in their lives. In the document he stated that, "the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness." He then went on to say, "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at every moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day." What a great/challenging call we have from our Holy Father Francis. I wonder how many of us really want to go deeper with Jesus, though. Are you content with where you are? He has so much that he wants to give but we expect so little from Him at times. We must have big expectations and desires for God because he desires to fulfill and even go beyond them.

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