My dear friends,
How many times in our life have we been faced with a challenge or an obstacle and have flat out said “that is impossible.” Yet when we look back, somehow, we got through it.
In this weekend’s Gospel from Matthew 14:13-21 we read and will hear of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000, besides women and children. Impossible to the disciples? Yes. For God? No. Jesus goes on to feed all in abundance with baskets full to spare.
Perhaps you are facing a challenge at this very moment. Maybe you are praying for someone in need of God’s help, love, healing, and mercy. Place your trust in God. Pray that we can align our will with that of the will of God. With God all things are possible.
God bless, and please rest assured of my prayers, today and always.
Greg Schmidt - Mar 6, 2013
Background: Religious education and growing in one’s faith is indeed a gift. It is also a wonderful ministry to be able to provide. My field education is providing exactly this ministry to a city parish to grade twelve students. This has been an entirely new experience for me as I have never been in a classroom setting providing faith education. It has proven to be both challenging and rewarding, and I trust it will serve me well in the years to come. What makes this ministry even more challenging is that I and the students come from two totally different cultures – North American and African. The students have been in the United States between 2 to 4 years, and from what I have seen have adapted well. At the same time, I know they miss home.
Description: In one of our recent sessions, our theme was “Why did God create us?” My response was that God created us to give him glory, and that we do this by using the gifts that he gave us. Creation, I said, is an overflow of his love. In our conversation that followed, we talked about God’s love for us, and the importance of sharing God’s love with others. I recall saying how important it is to tell our family members that we love them. The students quickly advised me that never have they told their parents that they love them, nor have their parents every said to them that “I love you.”
As our conversation continued, I encouraged them sometime in the near future to say to their mother or father “I love you.” They informed me that it was not part of their culture. The fact that these students have never heard the words “I love you” from their parents shocked me. What I consider so basic and a given was something they had never heard in their life. I mentioned this to my supervisor and she too was shocked.
Analysis: I thought about this for some time after, reflecting on my own life. I assumed that everyone has heard from their parents that they are loved – verbally that is. I did not think that saying the words “I love you” was culture based. Growing up and to this day I hear the words “I love you” on a regular basis.
Upon thinking about this in greater depth, I asked myself if I was forcing my culture and beliefs on these students. Was I asking something of them that could potentially embarrass them? Or could it have been exactly what their parents longed to hear, as they too likely never heard it growing up? I also considered more deeply who told me they loved me growing up. Was there an unspoken love? Was putting a roof over my head and clothes on my back a way of saying I love you? Was a family drive on Sunday or a family vacation another way of expressing love? Was keeping me safe from harm not love? Was bringing me into this world not the ultimate sign of love?
Taking this one step further, how do we show our neighbor that we love them? How do I show these students that they are loved? Is it by my actions, by my being there, and by showing a true interest in them? I desire to see them to succeed, and to grow in their faith. Is this how we say that we love our neighbor?
The ministerial issue for reflection in this case is: In our ministry, and in our own families, is it necessary to say “I love you?” If Jesus calls us to love our neighbor, does it always have to be verbally?
Theological Reflection: According to 1 John 4:8, the very nature of God is Love, and love is present in Scripture as one of the central themes in describing the relationship between God and humanity. Indeed, love is the basis of creation. Because of his superabundant love, God willingly gave his own Son to bring salvation to the fallen world (John 3:16; Romans 5:5-9; 1 John 4:9). The task for all of us, then, is above all to love God with our entire heart (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37). We are also called to love our neighbors (Lev 19:18, 1 John 4:11-21).
Jesus loved his friends so deeply that he was willing to lay down his life for them (John 13:1; 1 John 3:16) in order for them and us to be adopted sons of the Father. In return, the disciples were required to show their love by imitating the unifying love of the Son and the Father (John 17:21-23). Such a love had to be more than mere words; it had to manifested by deeds: “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18), including keeping the commandments of Jesus (John 14:15, 21, 23; 1 John 5:3). Christians should also love one another (John 13:34; 15:17) with the same love that Christ showed to them (John 15:12).
Jesus’ actions reveal that he truly loves us. Jesus took care of those around him. He fed them. He looked after their physical needs and issues. He attended to their spiritual needs. And he ultimately died on the cross for us. These were all deeds and actions. He showed his love by serving God and his people. We too are called to live our lives by serving others, all out of love.
As Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical God Is Love: “The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ.” As ministers in the church, and in fact as baptized Christians, we are called to be instruments of love here on earth, through our deeds and actions, which are often unspoken.
I do not doubt that these children love their parents, and that they are loved in return. Their parents are giving them the greatest gift of all – the gift of faith, and a love for the church. They moved their families from Africa to Buffalo for a better life, a brighter future. While they do not hear the words “I love you,” their parent’s deeds and actions express their love loud and clear.
Evaluation: I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to minister to these fine students. Over time they have warmed up to me and have been very willing to share their faith and stories with me. While the words “I love you” have never been spoken, I pray that my deeds and actions have expressed that to them. I am also reminded that in my future ministry the words “I love you” will likely never be spoken, and yet in my mind, through deeds and actions, there will be tremendous love for my friends, peers, parishioners, and those that I care for.
In addition to our e-Bulletin, this newsletter has become a wonderful way of keeping us connected. In addition to praying for the sick and those who have gone before us at Mass, we will begin to present the names in our newsletter. This way we can pray for them in our private prayers, and sometimes we do not catch the names as they are being read at Mass. As a “Caring Roman Catholic Community,” this is what we do, pray for those in need of our prayers.
The power of prayer can never be underestimated! We all know “prayer warriors” in our lives and in our community, yet all of us have it deep within to connect with God, our Blessed Mother, and the Saints and to offer our prayers and petitions. And we too can pray for one another, for our prayers can strengthen one another, and provide comfort and peace. All through the power of God. Prayer unleashes the awesome power of God in our families, parish family, community and world.
So here is how you can help me. Do you know of someone in our community, a family member, a friend in need of prayers for help and healing? Would you like your name added to our prayers for the sick? Someone who has died, who has gone before us, so that we can pray for them as they journey from this life to eternal life? Please email email@example.com with your request.
We can never underestimate the power of prayer.
God bless, and please rest assured of my prayers, today and always.
My dear friends,
Woven into our scriptures this weekend is the power of the Word of God. This Word comes to us through Sacred Scripture. It is our choice what we do with it. During this time of COVID-19, it is my prayer that we take the time to break open the Word of God, to see how God is speaking to us, planting seeds within us, each and every day. How do we activate those seeds? By feeding them, nurturing them, and allowing the divine gardener to water them and activate them so that they take root in our lives. The power of communion (or spiritual communion) is the best divine fertilizer. So very simple yet so powerful. May the power of God’s Word transform our lives this day!
God bless, Fr. Greg
That there are two focuses of prayer? According to Saint John Damascene, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” The first focus is the raising up of our heart and mind to God. Here we focus on and think about God, a truly meditative form or prayer. We put ourselves in the presence of God, acknowledging God’s presence, and the simple fact that without God we are nothing, for God is the creator. The second focus is the requesting of good things from God, and this comes in the form of petition and asking. This can be for ourselves or for others, known as intercessory prayer or intercessions. We must never underestimate the power of prayer!
This is our faith. This is what we believe!
That Christ, whole and entire, body, blood, soul and divinity, is present in each of the species of bread and wine? Due to this undisputable fact, we can receive either the Holy Eucharist or the Precious Blood by itself, and know with certainty that we have received His body and blood, the whole and entire Christ. The Catechism reaffirms this by stating that ‘since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharist
grace’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, article #1390). By the virtue of the sacrament and the virtue of concomitance (the virtue that unites the body and blood, and likewise the blood to the body, for they can never be separated), the living Christ is present in each species. We, the faithful, that receive this beautiful sacrament often and regularly, should never feel deprived when only one species is distributed, for we are receiving the whole Christ.
This is our faith, this is what we believe!
That the Feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrates the real presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist? This is powerful for us as Catholics! While the host still has the appearance of bread, we believe that it truly is the body of Jesus Christ, and that while the wine still has the appearance of wine, we believe that it is the blood of Christ. This is all made possible through the eyes of faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This feast was proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church to Pope Urban IV, in order to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist, emphasizing the joy of the Eucharist being the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is with joy that we begin to gather once again as a
community of believers, for something has been missing from our lives these past three plus months – the real presence of Christ, welcomed into our hearts and soul through Holy Communion.
This is our faith; this is what we believe!
That the only thing that distinguishes the Three Person of the Trinity is the “relation of origin?” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 255 highlights for us that: the Father is related to the Son; the Son is related to the Father; and the Holy Spirit is related to both. This is the only means of distinction, for we believe in 3 persons in 1 God. Trinity Sunday is a wonderful reminder for us of the love that is shared among the 3 persons of the Trinity and how we, as daughters and sons of God, are drawn in to share in this love. This is by far one of the greatest mysteries of our faith, one that we will never fully understand in this life. Yet one day, when we are in the presence of our God and Saviour in heaven, we will be able to embrace this magnificent mystery.
This is our faith, this is what we believe!
That Pentecost is the “fiftieth” day at the end of the seven weeks following Passover? At the first Pentecost after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was manifested, given and communicated as a divine Person to the Church, fulfilling the pascal mystery of Christ according to his promise (Catechism of the Catholic Church - CCC). Annually the Church celebrates the memory of the Pentecost event as the beginning of the new “age of the Church,” when Christ lives and acts in and with his Church (CCC, 1076). We receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit at our Confirmation. Do you remember your Confirmation? The Bishop who confirmed you? This is / was a beautiful day for us when we received these gifts – gifts that are to be used by us each and every day. When you are in need of knowledge, courage, understanding and so on, simply pray “Come, Holy Spirit!” We are crying out to God – the third person of the Trinity for help. Be prepared to be amazed! This is our faith!
That the prayer Hail Mary is known in Latin as the Ave Maria. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the first part of the prayer praises God for the gifts he gave to Mary as Mother of the Redeemer; the second part seeks her maternal intercession for the members of the Body of Christ, the Church,
of which she is the Mother. Hail Mary, or Rejoice, Mary, the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greet Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her (CCC, 2676). It is so important that we take are prayers and petitions to our Blessed Mother, Mary. She is a powerful intercessor who intercedes on our behalf to her son, Jesus. Whether it be one Hail
Mary or the entire rosary, embrace this prayer as we abandon ourselves to the will of God as we unite our prayers together with her: “Thy will be done.”
Mary, pray for us!
From Our Pastor