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Welcoming the Poor

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Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. The origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. Rather, he sanctified the waters by his descent into them. Jesus set for us the example to be baptized. When we are baptized there are several things that happen: we enter a new, deeper relationship with God, we become a new creation, a daughter or son of God, and we become a part of Christ’s prophetic mission. Our eyes are opened to see those in need, and we are given the ability to carry another’s burden. We become the arms, the hands, eyes, heart, and feet of Christ. This reality touched me deeply on Christmas Eve.

I was in line for coffee the other day at a fast food location when I noticed a woman who had just left the city bus and had begun to walk laboriously, with a walker, along the parking lot. Every few steps she would stop and catch her breath. A young boy was with her. It was 17 degrees outside. Her fingers were exposed. I turned my car to stop next to her and offered her a ride to her destination in my warm car. Her name was Lisa, and her son, Thomas. They hopped inside. The place of their destination was not open for 20 minutes. I abandoned everything I had to do and accomplish…and made myself totally present to them. 

She shared that her family was poor, that they only use public transportation, and her husband works two jobs to make ends meet. We started talking about faith. She told me they attend the Salvation Army church since they “welcome the poor.” When the store opened, I helped her inside and Thomas stayed back to ask if we could exchange phone numbers. I will never forget them, or this experience. 

When they left the car, tears flowed down my face—”where they welcome the poor.” Was this Jesus I encountered? What more could I have done for her and Thomas? This experience was an Epiphany moment.

This is the effect of our Baptism: we are called to welcome the refugee, feed the hungry, build bridges of trust, share our gifts, seek justice and peace, and bring Christ into the world. 

 

Stained Glass Manifestations

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 We have very beautiful churches in our Archdiocese and beyond. The various religious art pieces and sacramentals enrich our life of prayer, such as the Stations of the Cross and the statues. As a child, I remember staring at the beautiful stained glass windows in my parish church. The sun shone beautifully through the colored glass and brought the picture to life more vibrantly. Through the centuries, the art of creating more detailed pictures of saints has grown, and still today, they lift our eyes upward. 

When we were baptized, we were christened with the name our parents gave us. At Confirmation we choose a saint whose life touches us in some way and becomes our intercessor.

Saints are very important in our faith formation because they inspire and encourage us, on our journey to holiness.  I remember a sister from my religious education class told us, “Saints are human beings. They become a saint the moment they know they are loved by God.”  Wow, simple, profound, and yet a challenge.

On our parish pilgrimage to France, Spain and Portugal, we stood on the ground where St. Dominic, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Ignatius of Loyola lived. They once walked this earth and now are living legacies and powerful witnesses to Christ’s love in their lives. They are intercessors for us. Also among the “communion of saints” are those loved ones in our lives who died and continue to intercede on our behalf in heaven. This could be your grandparents, parents, siblings, children or friends. Their faith lives on in us.

We are all called to holiness. We are grateful that God continues to call men and women to ministry, where they give witness to God’s love through their unique vocation. Each of us can be that “walking saint” in our world, leading others to Christ through our words and actions. We are strengthened when we walk together in that path for holiness.  It is not an easy task. Christ calls us to discipleship where we can be a stained glass window, manifesting the love of God that shines in and through our lives. My friends, it’s a blessing to know you as living saints in the making. 

Posted by Mary Lestina
Tags: faith, saints

One Heart

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Happy mid-summer! How did we get to mid-August so quickly? What happened to the summer that we longed for although with limited activities? I know that all of us have been challenged in many ways with physical distancing, adjusting to masks, and making major revisions in our summer vacations. Have you seen the signs on lawns, “We will get through this together.” Are we? 

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary reminds me of this. It is the day we commemorate when Mary “went to sleep” and was raised to heaven, body and soul. More importantly, it was the greatest joy for her to be reunited with her Son, Jesus. Inseparable. Closely united. Alternatively, we can use the Latin term, “Cor Unum.” One Heart. We can imagine the tremendous celebration in heaven when they were reunited. 

Since I was named after the Blessed Mother, I looked up the name Mary with the new interpretation. It means, “Beloved.” Yes, Mary was the beloved of God, and of her son, Jesus. She invites us to that deep relationship with Jesus so that we, too, might experience being His beloved.

It is that unity that Jesus invites us to daily. We are each on a journey of discovering Him in our life. What did you learn about yourself in the past months? What carried you and strengthened you in times of fear and anxiety? Did you feel nudged to come closer to our Lord; to place your trust in Him? Did you feel a need to reach out more to your family members, friends, and relatives? 

I come from a close-knit family. My brother-in-law has a re-occurrence of cancer. When one whom you love suffers, you also suffer. Family pulls together. We rely on the prayers of loved ones, and we want to make every moment together an experience of “one heart.”

Posted by Mary Lestina

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