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Keeping Vigilant

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The Gospel of Mark 13:24-32, begins the Adventen turn toward the End Times and the Second Coming of Christ. It is a passage that carries no warm and fuzzy messages, but rather messages of warning. We do not know the day nor the hour when this life will end and we will come face-to-face with our Maker. Are you ready to make an account for your life?

This passage reminds us to keep ourselves vigilant, ready at any moment to face judgment. It reminds us of our true priorities: all that belongs to this world will pass away. It is only Christ that remains. Do I live my life in a way that embodies the eternal nature of Christ, but the fleeting nature of worldly goods?

Furthermore, it is not just our salvation that we work for. As part of the Body of Christ, we are also called to work for the salvation of others. As we are reminded with the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, we are not isolated beings pursuing holiness, we are part of a communion of saints. We belong to each other. How are you praying for those around you? How are you sacrificing so that they might come to know Christ or deepen their relationship with Him? Do you notice people missing at Mass? People who used to come? What are you, personally, doing to invite them back to Mass?

We do not know the day nor the hour when Christ will come again. Nor do we know the day nor the hour when our individual life on earth will end. But we do know eternal life awaits us. Let us live our lives in such a way that we get there, and bring as many people with us as possible!

Fear and Trust

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In 2014, my son went backpacking in Alaska. He had a satellite device that periodically sent me text messages saying, “Everything is fine in Alaska, wish you were here,” and gave his location so I could follow his progress on a map.

The first evening of his hike I attended Cor Jesu at St. Robert where I turned off my phone. After Mass we went for a bite to eat. I got home about 11:00 PM and turned on my phone. To my horror, it said, “Something’s gone wrong in Alaska, call for help.” The message was an hour old and I felt  like I had let him down by turning my phone off. My heart started to race.

I called and found a rescue party was on the way but It would be hours before we would know anything. I was terrified. My heart was pounding as I sat in front of my computer looking at the map of their hike. They had tried to cross the Teklanika River several times, but each time they returned to shore. What had gone wrong? Had someone been swept downstream? I tried to pray but I couldn’t. My fears overcame my prayer and I returned to the computer screen.

Eventually, I realized there was nothing I could do, and I again tried to pray. My prayer was different this time. It wasn’t just for the welfare of my son, it was also for strength and courage to deal with whatever I would have to deal with. Peace came over me, and I was actually able to sleep for a few hours. 

When I awoke, I found out that a rescue party had found them and they were on their way out, but their condition was still unknown. A few more hours of waiting were in store for me, but now I had the strength and faith that God would be there for us no matter what the outcome.

That night, God taught me that faith can and will win out over fear. This is the lesson Job learns in the first reading today and the lesson the disciples learn, or are at least taught, in the Gospel. Jesus is always with us, just like he was in that boat, and so we need not fear. What he asks is for us to have faith and trust in him. That doesn’t mean the result will always be what we are hoping for, but it does ensure that God will go with us each step of the way, providing all the strength, courage, and hope we will need to carry on. For me, the story ended happily, but I know had it not, God would have carried me through whatever had happened.

Posted by Kurt Peot

Divine Mercy Chaplet

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I was teaching fourth grade in 2009, when I became familiar with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I had heard the Chaplet being said on Relevant Radio. Upon hearing how the Chaplet was discussed and shared, I did my own research to learn more. By this time, Pope John Paul II had already entrusted the world to the Divine Mercy on the day of St. Faustina's canonization in 2002,and declared the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina was the nun associated with the message and image of the Divine Mercy. You most likely have seen it. It is a rendering of the image of Christ with his hand over his heart revealing a stream of red and blue light with the words "Jesus, I trust in you" emblazoned below it. The significance of the image is relayed in this manner from the Diary of St. Faustina:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary, 47, 48). I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (327). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world (47). 

At the request of her spiritual director, St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the image.  

The two rays denote Blood and Water. The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). By means of this image I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works (742). 

These words indicate that the Image represents the graces of Divine Mercy poured out upon the world, especially through Baptism and the Eucharist. 

​The message of the Divine Mercy is simple: God loves us - all of us. His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. When praying with the Divine Mercy, we are to follow the ABCs. 

       A - ask for His mercy
       B - be merciful
       C - completely trust in Jesus

The first time I put this into practice back in 2009, I was struggling in communicating concerns to a parent of one of my students. Despite my best efforts, our conversations would typically end up contentious and the situation unresolved. I was left feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and angry.  At times, hurtful and unkind things were said by the parent which didn't contribute anything positive to the situation. Without knowing what else to do, I called upon the Divine Mercy. I held this parent in my mind asking for mercy on our situation. I asked for forgiveness upon the hurts I felt as well as those I may have imparted. I asked the Lord for clarity in the situation. I then began to pray, very intentionally, keeping the image of that parent's face in my mind with each "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." By the time I completed the chaplet, I was at peace. As testimony to its power, the parent contacted me within hours, deeply remorseful for how our conversation transpired.  

After experiencing the power of the chaplet, I decided to teach my students how to pray it with the same practical approach that I had used. As a class, we did this every Friday. The chaplet is one of many prayers in my arsenal, but serves me well when I can't get past my own inadequacies and difficulties in relationships. It's healing grace soothes the worst hurts. Admittedly, I have to pray it more than once in certain situations over a longer period of time, but it brings the forgiveness and mercy it promises. 

I submit my witness. If the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is not part of your prayer routine, I would encourage you to give it a try. It can be said with a rosary or your fingers. It takes less than 15 minutes. It is tremendously powerful . Jesus, I trust in you!

Posted by Jill Fischer

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