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Glory to God in the Highest

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“Do not be afraid; for behold I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” No, I’m not talking about a vaccine for the COVID virus, I am quoting from the gospel of Luke as to the pronouncement by the angel to the shepherds. The angel heralding the birth of Jesus. But the words are good ones to remember and live by.

The birth of Jesus is good news. It is THE good news and no matter what we are feeling, the recalling of God made one of us means that as we and the world are living through these times, so is Jesus. Knowing it was God’s choice to enter into the mess of humanity 2000 years ago, and still walks with us today, is the foundation of Advent and of joy.

It’s not too late to stop and enter into the mystery of Christmas. It’s not too late to find that joy which may have eluded you until the very moment you are reading this. Take this moment, right now, to ponder the reality of Jesus with us. What would it mean in your life and the life of your family if you lived each day, made each decision, knowing Jesus was at your side? Maybe, like the angel, you would become a herald of the Good News! Announcing the good news that God didn’t come to praise those high up, but to elevate the lowly, to bring comfort to those in sorrow, to quell fear to those distressed. God started life as a small vulnerable infant. Remember, as God cared for the Holy Family, you are cared for and protected.

This year may seem like one in which everything is askew, that nothing is what it was, and yet, on Christmas Day we celebrate a certainty. On Christmas Day, we celebrate that God loved us so much that He sent his only Son to be with us, and with that the world is changed forever. This year, we may need to draw this mystery out a little more. We may need to work harder at pondering the meaning of the birth of Jesus. We may have need to search deeper for joy, but it is there and it is waiting. It is not too late. Start with repeating, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Have a blessed Christmas season.

Living for the Lord

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"None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and we die for the Lord; so then whether we live or die, we are the Lord's."

I cannot think of a more fitting scriptural reading as we honor the diaconate gifts given to us in the ordination of Kurt Peot and the farewell to Deacon Jim Matthias. both are great gifts to us and our larger church. Before I go further, I ask you to keep both of them in your prayers. Which brings me to the idea of prayers themselves. We often are told to pray for one another, we pray for those who are sick in the community, we pray for the "poor souls" in purgatory, we pray for the unborn.

Prayer is our communication thread with God and all the community of saints. Recently, I have emphasized we must see the world with one eye on earth and one in heaven. It is the only way our fractured society will  ever heal. With that in mind, we have those who specifically dedicated themselves to be examples of "living for the Lord." Let us remember that ordained deacons serve in a special way, as heralds of the gospel: to bring good news to the sick and poor, to preach words of life to our family of faith. When we join with them in prayer, we too are living for the Lord and with the Lord.

When a deacon is ordained, he is ordained to serve. What this means is that a deacon is willing to open his heart to those who he serves. This is a calling, this is a gift. We at St. Dominic Catholic Parish have been graced not only with many deacon vocations, but with men of extraordinary character and willingness to serve. May God bless our deacons and all deacons of our archdiocese.

in Joy, Trust

Starting from Zero Again and Again

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This year, due to the coronavirus, we had to wait until the gradual reopening process allowed us to celebrate our Baccalaureate Mass for our eighth grade class. Even with the Mass, attendance was limited to parents only. As I thought about the limitations we are working under, and my belief they are here to stay for an extended period of time, I was contemplating what the average Catholic psyche is right now. 

This tragedy of the pandemic, has unfolded like a slow moving accident. If an asteroid would have hit our planet, we would have all responded quickly and in unity. But with the nebulous spread; broad, yet unsubstantiated restrictions, and unproven reopening, I am not sure what everyone is feeling. In a recent poll taken, well over half of Catholics do not yet feel comfortable attending public Masses, even with the accommodations. The haunting question is when will they? I borrowed the title of this reflection from an article I read a while back. It was from a young missionary, who described her experience of learning Spanish in Bolivia, re-learning the dialect in Peru, and having to learn administrative skills in her new job. She remarked on how she had to adjust to starting over again and again.

Maybe that captures our feelings best. In this atmosphere, more than ever, we ask ourselves, is God in control? If we answer ‘yes,’ we approach each day with confidence and joy. If we answer with doubt, we approach each new day with fear and trepidation. This young missionary put her complete trust in God in a new country, with a foreign language, and an insufficient skill set. She now has friends, speaks the language, and leads with confidence. Our situation is not even near as complex, can you put all your trust in God, starting today? 

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