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Jesus, Make Yourself at Home!

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In October of 2023, I attended the Madison Eucharistic Congress with other members from St. Dominic. I was able to see and pray with the Eucharistic Miracles from around the world on that occasion, a work that was researched and published by Blessed Carlo Acutis. How fitting that this coming week, we will have the exhibit available here at the parish for us to meditate on and be drawn into the miracles of Jesus revealed in his body and blood. Carlo died at the age of 15, and was beatified in 2020. A first class relic of Blessed Carlo will also be available for us to venerate and reflect on this young man’s life and love for Jesus. May he become one of your new favorite “saints.”

While I was in Madison and was praying in front of his relic, I was drawn to one of his prayers: “Jesus, make yourself at home! Live within me as if it were your own dwelling!”  I meditated a long time on this reality, ‘live within me as if it were your own dwelling.’ How insignificant and unworthy I felt. I found myself in tears realizing the gap of this reality. This amazing God within me. How can this God come into my life, unworthy, sinful, doubting, imperfect, weak, and broken as I am? 

Lent is the time we look back at the past year, acknowledge our brokenness, and allow our Lord into our hearts, to heal us and open ourselves to His love. His love is what we often run from because we don’t feel worthy. We don’t want to look at our flaws and sins, our failures and wrong doings. It is tough to acknowledge where we failed. Yes, it is in our brokenness that room can be made for repentance that can bring us home to His heart. It is confusing to believe that it is in our brokenness that God can work in and through our lives. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ.” (Eph. 2: 4-5).

What a great hope we have that our Lenten journey can bring us to new life by “cleaning out the crud in our lives.” Friends, let us make this Lent a new season for our souls. How can we do this? Come to Jesus in the Mass, in adoration, in silent prayer, and in the sacrament of reconciliation. When receiving Him in the Eucharist, allow Him to penetrate your heart, to change and renew you in His love. His love will transform you. Then together with Blessed Carlo, our prayer can be, “live in me as if it were your own dwelling.” Blessed Lent my friends.  Blessed to journey with you to His heart.

Awaiting with Joy

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Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. You see more amazon trucks than Walgreens stores. One of the many features that people love about Amazon is that you know when your items will arrive and receive a picture to prove that your item was delivered. We live in a world of knowing, planning and calculating.  

Today we mark the beginning of Advent, a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Advent means “arrival” or a coming into place.” We mark this holy season with the color of purple, create an advent wreath with candles for the 4 weeks of anticipating and waiting for the birth of Jesus. Everywhere there are decorations, songs, and lights reminding us that Christmas is coming soon. 

As the world emphasizes material goods and festive celebrations, as Christians, we are invited to a time of prayerful anticipation. Christ’s birth is the center of Christmas, not Santa (sorry Santa). The Advent season invites us to step away from what can be a frenzied time to consider how we commemorate the birth of Jesus, one of the holiest times in Christian faith. It is also a time to reflect on the return of Jesus at His second coming.

Unlike Amazon, we don’t know when Jesus is coming, when he will arrive and how close he is to being here.  How are we to see the signs that he is here? “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…” Mark 13: 33. This passage from today’s scripture puts me on edge. Is my heart ready for his coming? Do I have my life in order that he could come at this moment? Have I fulfilled what he has asked of me? These questions draw me to deeper silence and prayer during Advent Even within this busy ministry time of the year, living the beatitudes and trying to fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, God is calling me to spend time with him. 

This week I witnessed Jesus in a profound way. One of our parishioners had to bury his wife of 72 years. At one point, he walked down the aisle with his eyes closed ready to bid farewell to the love of his life. I knew in my heart the beautiful Jesus mosaic with arms wide open will embrace his suffering, welcome his beloved home to his heart, and strengthen him during this difficult time. Yes, Advent has begun, but it should never end. We are always waiting, anticipating and longing for the Lord to arrive in our world, and to bring healing in our communities  and families, and in our hearts. The JOY of waiting is part of his coming. Join me in making this advent journey one of JOY in not knowing but embracing that Jesus is amongst us in each other. See you at Mass.  Blessed Advent!

Posted by Mary Lestina
Tags: advent


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Do you remember the first time you stepped into St. Dominic Catholic Parish?  What were you feeling and what was your experience? I recently recalled that moment when I was hired 8+ years ago. Walking into an interview with 13 people around the table and, just weeks later, walking into a parish of over 8,000 members was daunting.  Fr. Dave, the pastor at that time, asked me to memorize everyone from the parish directory! I am still learning names. 

What were my first experiences? I was overwhelmed with the friendliness, kindness, and welcome spirit from so many parish members. There were many memorable “firsts” which will be eternally forged in my memory. It was the spirit of the parish and its faithful members who made me feel at home.  Many of you know my story. However, being single and blessed to serve in a parish with a vibrant school, parish leadership, and staff was easy due to the warmth and love I felt.

I recall my first Dominic Days annual festival, sitting in a row of chairs and finding an amazing family sitting next to me, strangers who I now call my friends. The festival is a wonderful opportunity for our entire parish family to welcome everyone to our festivities. Each one of us is the face and heart of St. Dominic. Even if people come for food, games, music, and fun, this is our opportunity to be the disciple Jesus calls us to be by welcoming the stranger and inviting them to join us at Mass.

In my morning prayer, and throughout the day, I often incorporate music that often speaks the words that my heart cannot verbalize. One of my favorite musicians and vocalists is Lauren Daigle, a woman who loves Jesus and draws us into her relationship with him. One of her many songs, “Everything,” speaks to my heart often. “When I can’t see, you lead me, when I can’t hear, you show me, when I can’t stand, you carry me. When I’m lost, you will find me, when I’m weak, you are mighty, you are everything I need… You give me everything...”

At this special event, I am humbled by the enormous generosity of people dedicating their time and energy, people who give of their heart to serve the parish. It is then when I realize that yes, Jesus, you give me everything, you give us everything. I witness Jesus in our celebration of the Eucharist but also in each one of you. Join me at the festival in being the face of our welcoming parish family and drawing others into our community who receives everything from the God who loves us.

Posted by Mary Lestina