Bless me Father, for I HAVE been singing!! It's been 50 years since Vatican II.
Yes – fifty years since Pope John XXIII (now Saint John XXIII) convened the Second Vatican Council. Pope Saint John XXIII was perhaps the most influential pope of the twentieth century. One of the greatest reforms resulting from Vatican II is the full and active participation of the assembled congregation.
What exactly does that mean for us? The opportunity to enter into the sacred liturgy with all of our senses, heart, body, mind, and voice - - a sacred, prayerful dialogue with the celebrating priest in spoken and sung prayer.
I am grateful for all the parish cantors, musicians, and a singing congregation! Together we praise and thank God, the angels and saints, the Blessed Mother in joyful hymns and songs. I encourage all ages, men and women, boys and girls, to please… Don't be shy…..Give Music Ministry a try! Summer is a great time to join the team who lends support to our congregational song. Sacred song, united to biblical text, forms a necessary and integral part of the treasure of the Catholic Church – our solemn liturgy.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
I'm happy to invite you to a parish meeting for anyone interested in touring our present Parish Center and to hear a brief presentation on the needs and potential plans of the building. As many of you know, the building is aging, built in 1974, it has never had any significant improvement over the past 40 years. This is presenting us with a number of decisions that must be made to responsibly address the deteriorations and end of life issues of several vital systems. It also presents us with the challenge of how it could be used more effectively in the future.
While we have a number of organizations, ministries and events that currently take place in the Parish Center, we also need to ask the deeper question of how can this building serve the heart of the mission of the parish for the next generations? This is a visionary question that I wish to consult you about.
We are in the initial stages of working with an architectural firm to begin to work with concepts that will then allow us to develop the best possible use of the current space with our needs and vision for the future.READ MORE
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
Happy Easter! What a beautiful gift the Church gives us: 50 days, from the first Sunday of Easter until Pentecost, to celebrate and meditate on the "joy of glorified life and victory over death." Our faith is predicated on this truth, as St. Peter affirms: "If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith." (1 Cor 15:14). The resurrection is the reason for our joy. In one of his letters, Pope Francis wrote "Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved." (EG 6).
This past semester, I took a course on the Nicene Creed we profess each Sunday. At the beginning of the course, I came across a sentence in my readings that stopped me in my tracks. "…if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving Him." After I read this, I thought about my marriage of 26 years. I was able to see the journey my husband and I have taken, how we got to know each other and how that led to a deeper more meaningful love for each other––a selfless love. It is the same way with God. Like my marriage, my relationship with God has been a steady process of opening to grace, of having courage to seek, and learning more about the immensity and majesty of God––and His perfect, infinite love.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
I love the springtime for so many reasons. Nature shows in dramatic form what God wants to do for each one of us in our heart. That is the reason why Sacraments of Initiation happen during the Easter Season and on a Sunday.
Easter Sunday is the Center of the Church year and every Sunday is a "little Easter." We celebrate the Resurrection and keep in mind that this day needs special significance in our week. If we don't mark any special time during our week, everything looks the same. We forget that God orders our lives. We think its all up to us. Ultimately, life becomes very boring without Sunday as a special day. Try to reclaim Sunday as a family day. Try to reach out to someone who is left alone on Sunday and visit them or invite them to your home. Pope Francis continually asks us to go out of our comfort zones to find where life sad, depressed and lonely. We might need to just look in our own families. Perhaps all the frenetic activity that families can get involved in with so many complicated schedules actually takes people into more isolation rather than into an experience of loved, recognized and cared for. We definitely need more quality time with those who love us and depend on us.READ MORE
The Church is still rejoicing at the Resurrection of our Lord as we conclude the Octave of Easter today. Easter is too big to be contained by just one day so the Church celebrates for eight days, and since Palm Sunday two weeks ago, the Catholic Church has been in full swing with one big celebration after another. The liturgies at Saint Magdalen's were wonderful and mystical and awe inspiring, reaching their apex on Easter Sunday morning with crowds that overflowed into the narthex at every Mass. How exciting and invigorating to see so many Catholics come out to celebrate their faith. It gives us a foretaste of how things will be in heaven and a look at how things could be here on earth. A special thank you goes out to all who made the liturgies so moving and prayerful and thanks to each of you in the parish for making St. Magdalen's the wonderful place to encounter Jesus Christ. There were so many volunteers involved in decorating the Church, serving at the altar, Lectors, Cantors, and the choir. The list goes on. Thank you!
Today, the celebrations continue with two events – the Universal Feast of our Lord, Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Divine Mercy Sunday falls each year on the first Sunday after Easter. It concludes the octave of Easter. This was our Lord's desire as He revealed it to St. Faustina. Jesus tells us, through St. Faustina, "My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity." He goes on to say, "The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment." We know that when we go to Confession we are forgiven, but we still must make amends for our sins. That is what purgatory is for. But on this day, God's Divine Mercy even takes the temporal punishment away from us. No purgatory! That means we are restored to our Baptismal perfection by Jesus Christ. This is a great gift from Almighty God that we are wise to take advantage of and develop a true devotion to the Mercy of Jesus Christ.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!
We can't underestimate what those emotions must have been like for Peter and John racing to the tomb, after they heard the words from the women "He is alive." It was news almost too good to be true.
If it was true then, everything Jesus said was all entirely true. Everything He did made so much more sense. All that they knew from the Scripture were fulfilled. If it was true they would have to respond to the news; nothing in their world could stay the same. Everything in their life would be different because they would now be the witness of this great story. Somehow they would have to make it known to others. It would not just be for them. The apostles running to the tomb is a good image of us this morning.
We all need this kind of expectant faith. The world we live in is rapidly becoming a world absent of wonder and awe for God. Many people have lost a sense of spiritual direction in their lives. We have only to look at our local sad statistics of heroin overdoses and suicide of young people. The rising tide of such statistics point to a severe lack of hope and a loss of spiritual energy. The answer is a need for significant meaningful relationships. The most significant is a relationship with the Risen Christ. Christ is God and He wants a personal relationship with each of us.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
Priests and deacons pray the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office) every day (or at least parts of it). The very first prayers recited each day are called the Invitatory. For the first five weeks of Lent, one of the two Antiphons prayed as part of the Invitatory goes like this: "Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts."
Now as a general rule it is probably not a good idea to harden your hearts, voice of the Lord or no. Nonetheless, most of us certainly do harden our hearts at certain times, perhaps because it is easier to deal with emotional or difficult situations if we put up a stony facade. And so, in moments of weakness, I have found myself walking in the opposite direction of a parishioner who looks like he or she wants to talk about something important to them. (If I have ever done this to you, I ask your forgiveness! ...and for a second chance.) In the same way, we might ignore a co-worker or friend who is hurting and needs a shoulder or sympathetic ear; we might give wide berth to a homeless person on the sidewalk as we walk by; we might persist in fooling around on the computer when we know our spouse has been waiting for us to do something that is important to her or him that she/he asked us to do days ago.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE