Sunday Jan. 29, 2023

I wanted to write on the beauty of the beatitudes and the readings of today and how they are still prevalent in our time; but The Holy Spirit is impressing upon me to write about Marylin today, and how our friend Marylin has embodied The Beatitudes and lives them every day.

Marilyn has always been humble and her heart was not set upon riches of this earth; she introduced us to Monique and the children of the Congo that we are blessed to have as our apostolate. She’s always been meek before the Lord and accepting of what her journey would be; I know that the God of Mercy has given her comfort. As a Dominican she hungers and thirsts after justice, especially for unborn babies, their mothers and those who have survived Abortion; she has shown mercy to a middle aged woman, who still had a hurting 15 year girl inside of her heart.

You are the salt of the earth and a peacemaker.  A light in our lives that will be our guide.  I love you, and I thank God for you.

Mrs. Denise Fourroux – Fedie, OP

Strengthening the Church

Jan. 22, 2023

When I was going through RCIA, I read the entire Catechism, as I devoured everything I could to learn more about our faith. I came to an understanding that the more holy things that we do, as the body of Christ, the holier the Church ultimately becomes. For example, every time we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the prayer of the Church, holiness is deposited into the Church’s treasury. Every time we pray the rosary, especially as a family, but even individually, holiness is deposited into the Church’s treasury. So, think about that for a moment. The same happens when we go to confession, only this time, it’s double, because the priest is making a deposit also. And when we attend Mass, think about all of those deposits. Each time we perform an act of mercy; a deposit is made. Every time we read scripture; a deposit is made. There are so many more holy works that we can do to make deposits, I can’t name them all, but you certainly get the picture here. This is how we participate in strengthening the Church.

I have been listening to recent interviews with exorcists after reading several books written by the late Fr. Gabriel Amorth, who was the chief exorcist in Rome for about 30 years. One of the questions that keep coming up in these interviews is why does it take so long to exorcize a demon from a person? The simple answer is that the authority of the exorcist to cast out demons comes from the Church through his bishop. Therefore, the stronger the Church, the stronger the exorcisms.

This is the point that we have to reckon with. We make the Church stronger through faithfully living what we profess to believe. This is a fact, not an opinion. What we do and what we don’t do actually matters, even individually. Each of us, through our baptism and again in our confirmation, are members of the Body of Christ. Think about all the parts of your own body that don’t work right. The more parts that don’t work right, the weaker you are, right? It’s the same thing with the Church.

To fix the spiritual dysfunction in your life, start by going to confession. Make an appointment so you don’t have to feel pressed for time. The priest will make time for you and help you make a good confession. This is so important because this is your first step in spiritual guidance. Your spiritual and physical lives are inseparable until you die. Many of the maladies that you experience may even be caused by demons or generational curses. Confession is always a great place to start.

It’s so easy to blame others for what is wrong with the Church. The truth is, if we want holier deacons, priests, and bishops, a holier Church, then we need to actively live our faith. This means we need to learn and accept what sin really is and intentionally make changes in our lives to avoid sinful behavior. We need to pray regularly; in fact, it needs to be a part of your everyday life. Attending Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation is the very minimum. Do not allow yourself to miss, and if you do, you must bring that to confession. That is a requirement, because missing Mass is a mortal sin. Don’t look for exceptions. Every time we make these changes in our lives, we make another deposit of holiness into the Church’s treasury.

The Church is not made holy through money, it’s made holy through its members cooperating with God’s will. Jesus told us to go out there and be the light of the world. The truth is, how can we be the light of the world, when we’re so dim? With God’s help, we can be that bright light that He created us to be. The question is, what is stopping you?

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jan. 15, 2023

Is. 49: 3, 5-6; 1 Cor. 1: 1-3; Jn. 1: 29-34

The Lord speaks to Isaiah telling him “You are my servant through whom I show my glory.” We have a duty to be light to the nations—to be a light to those around us. We all share a portion in fulfilling this duty along with His family of believers. We support each other, we don’t have the whole load. But like the individual spokes of a wheel, it is vital that we carry our part of the load. If we work together to fulfill His mandate to be holy, the path is smoother. We will recognize Jesus in our fellow believers and in those we serve. There is joy in loving and serving the Jesus we see in each person.

People will recognize Jesus by the love and care they experiencefrom those who truly follow Him. John the Baptist had an expectant heart and joyfully recognized Jesus’ Spirit, testifying he is the Son of God.

By Mrs. Marilyn Pipkin, OP

A Walk by Faith, Not Sight

January 8th, 2023

Reflection for The Epiphany of the Lord

How often do we try to have God come to our terms rather than force ourselves to come to His? How often do we derail God’s plan because we trust in ourselves more than we trust Him? And how often do our own plans end up doing us more harm than good? We are a Christian people that believe in the Lord and His promises and yet our own brokenness continues to mislead us time and time again. This week we hear the familiar story of the Magi who traveled a great distance so as to pay homage to the King of the Jews. Who were these Magi and where did they come from? They were Zoroastrians and astrologers; they had no allegiance to the Judeo-Christian God and yet allowed themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to come and worship this unknown King. They followed the star and brought gifts to the Babe, both homages having been foretold but carrying no significance to the esteemed travelers. And they listened to an angel in a dream and slipped away silently so as to not place the Christ-Child under the sword of one of Herod’s soldiers. Imagine for a moment what could have been, should the Magi have followed their own will rather than that of a God that was not their own.

Christ calls us to the humility of a child, the pureness of a child, and the trust of a child. If we have complete abandonment of ourselves and evict our own desires, we make more room for God and His perfect desires for us. We have a lot to learn from these strangers who traveled from afar to prostrate themselves in front of a child, their minds potentially full of self-doubt, uncertainty, or repugnance. Yet, they so beautifully unified themselves to the will of the Father, not quite grasping the immense significance of their doing so. If these men from distant lands with different gods were so eager to walk by faith and not by sight, what is stopping us?

Mrs. August Walkowski

For the Resolute

                As soon as they’re open, I’m going to join a gym.  And hey!  Once a month… no, twice a month is going to be a No-Screens-Family-Night with board games and popcorn once we’ve all helped clean up after dinner!  Ohhh!  Yeah!  2023 is going to be the best yet!  Oh – and yeah.  I, that is we are going to say the Rosary as-a-family every night before bed; well, maybe twice or, errrh, once a week.  Well, once a month for sure!

                Why all this new action, new effort, new determination?  A stupid question?  Now, my most favorite ole teacher told me that there’s no such thing as a ‘stupid question’!  Tell me why.  Please.  To get stronger – to feel better!  Yeah, I can see that.  And to get closer to the best people in the world – Family.  You bet!  That’s a good one, too!  And the Rosary?  Yeah, I kinda know, but what do you mean by it?  Hey, hey now.  Come on back!  I’m just messin’ with ya.  Come on.  Settle down. 

                Here’s what I’m getting at.  It’s good to be healthy.  Yeah, and it’s good to keep the home fires burnin’ so to speak.  But the praying stuff; you know, your last little thing on your list of Resolutions for this New Year.  The part you couldn’t quite explain.  Now-now, I know you think I should know.  And, I do, but I’d like to here it from your point of view.  Nooo.  This is not going to be like pulling teeth without an anesthetic.

                Let me get you started here… underneath Everything is Something Else, right?  Kinda holding that Something up.  Then under That is Something Else holding That Thing up.  And so on.  Until you get to the very Rock-Bottom-of-Things.  Now the Rock-Bottom-of-Things is already there when you first arrive.  It’s not something YOU make or put there.  But the Next Thing… that is the first thing you put on top of it needs to be:  Just.  Right.  It’s got to be stable and… and strong, and unmoveable so that the next levels on top of it can be that way too.

                So we’re building Our Little Houses – you know, Our Lives.  But they only last for so long, right?  Yeah, I know.  Sad-but-true.  But because of it, we want our lives to be, you know, Good.  As good as we can make them.  Are ya with me so far?  So how do we build on the Rock-Bottom?  What is the first layer of Goodness?  Yeah, good health so we can live a long time is good.  Yeah, but listen…  Yeah, close family ties so that long life can be a secure and happy one is really good, too.  Yeah.  But.  Listen…  It’s all going to tumble down one day, right?  It’ll all wear out…  one day.

                But that’s not the end-of-the-story, is it?  No.  It’s not.  There’s What-Comes-Next.  It’s the, you know, the “Why” we did everything as best we possibly could for in the first place.  But what is it?  Hey, ya got me.  But it’s there.  I can feel it – sometimes I can see the results of it right here under my own nose!  Yeah, I knew you could, too.  We all do, one way or another.  Anyway.  Here’s what I mean…  why spend all your effort, all your life on the part that goes away one day?  Yeah, sure.  It’s fun, and it does last for awhile.  But, then…  But… then…  (Come on, you know what I mean!)  But… then…  Yeah!  The What-Comes-Next. 

                Look, the Rock-Bottom is for when you’re healthy – and if-and-when you’re not.  It’s for when you’re in the middle of your close-knit family – and for if-and-when it disappoints or even falls apart.  The Rock-Bottom is for the beginning of life, the middle of life, the end of life… and for after the end of life.  It runs through Ev-ery-Thing!  And while your Ev-ery-Thing may not hold together or be what you want – The Rock-Bottom keeps you together with… well, with it’s wonderful, dependable, ole Self.

                Yeah!  Yeah!  You’ve got it!  The Rock-Bottom Bedrock we can build our Lives on is God!  He’s what puts us here, keeps us here as long as we’re meant to be here, and folds us up in his loving arms at the End-Which-Is-Not-an-End. 

                Building on the bedrock?  Well, no, you’re right, you can’t just lay things on top of it – you’ve got to connect with it.  You know.  Drive pilings right down into it so you can never come loose!  How?  Come on, you know how.  Just want to hear me say it, huh?  Okay:  prayer.  Don’t feel much like doing that?  I understand.  Then ask for his Grace.

                What’s Grace?  It’s strength when you are weak.  It’s determination when you waiver.  It’s even I-want-to when you don’t particularly want-to.  It’s the greatest Gift this side of Jesus-Son-of-God-on-earth-for-our-Redemption.  Well, it is God’s gift; yeah, Jesus’ gift, too.  Yeah, the Spirit’s Gift, too.  Well, yeah, he is… they are The Gift.  I don’t know how.  Well, of course we all want to know “How” it’s done.  No.  Nope, none of that.  The answer is there.  It’s like that joke that goes:  “Wait for it…  Wait… for it… “  Yeah, I know.  I want to know now, too.

                So.  What’s first?  Join the gym?  Set up a monthly family night?  What’s first for you this New Year?  Prayer?  Ahhh, regular prayer.  Yeah, well, asking for Grace-to-Want-to-Do-It is prayer too – I think you’re right on that one.  Yup.  Yup.  Amen, indeed.

Lectio Divina based on the Mass Readings for 1 Jan 2023

by Ms. Catherine “Cathie” Lambert, OP

Dominican blog reflection for Christmas, December 25

Is. 52: 7-10; Heb. 1:1-6;

John 1: 1-18.

Isaiah tells us that before our eyes the Lord is restoring man and all will behold the salvation of our God. No matter how bleak the situations are in the world, we have unwavering trust in God. He is the King of all creation and fulfills His promises of love and restoration.

In Hebrews we are reminded that He sustains all things by His mighty Word. He stooped to rescue us from the yoke of sin by taking our nature and living perfectly as a human. His love for all His creation was met by hate from those who hold worldly power and influence. They wanted the power that was His, again repeating the sin of our first parents. Opposition to us as professing Christians cannot deter us from our mission to make Him known and loved.

In John’s gospel we see that all things came to be through Him, yet, most men refused to recognize Him. Persecution did not stop His love nor deflect Him from His saving mission. He broke the yoke of slavery of men to sin. We now have the choice to reject or serve God. He gave us the path to everlasting lifewith our omnipotent Creator. 

The choice is ours. The path to Him is narrow and difficult. We can’t even imagine the wonders of life with and in Him. Nor can we fully recognize the truly tragic path of rejecting Him and being forever separated from Love. Our loving Savior has restored joy, hope and salvation to His creation. Let us rejoice in this wonderful celebration of His coming.

Mrs. Marilyn Pipkin, OP

Sunday, November 18, 2022

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, Letter, Saint Paul to the Romans 1:1-7, Gospel according to Matthew 1:18-24

Isaiah

“The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!” How many times do you hear people say, “Oh, that’s a sign!” and others tempt God by asking for a sign, behaving in a superstitious manner?

When we are troubled and long to see the road ahead and there is chaos and confusion all around, the “wisest” thing we can do is pray to God and ask Him for wisdom, understanding and prudence. If we humble ourselves before Him he will give us these gifts of the Spirit.

Saint Paul

Paul says he is called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, the gospel about His Son, who descended from David according to the flesh and through the resurrection from the dead he brought about the obedience of faith for the Gentiles as well as the Jews, for all peoples.

Matthew’s Gospel

The gospel proclaims that the birth came about when Mary was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Mary was a virgin before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. She was already betrothed to Joseph when the angel Gabriel announced the birth. May said, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he decided to divorce her quietly, but the same angel Gabriel told him in a dream “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Joseph took her into his home. After Mary’s exalted position, Saint Joseph is the greatest saint in heaven. By the way, Mary (or Miriam) means “exalted one” or “bitterness”. She is highly exalted but also suffered the bitterness of the crucifixion of her Son.

Isaiah said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

We need to spend this last week of Advent “pondering in our hearts” like Mary over the Incarnation:  “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”  God walked with the people of Israel, but we are privileged to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, even daily if we wish.

Luke is 24 chapters in all.  If we read one chapter a day, that takes us to Christmas eve.  Why not start now and “catch up”?  Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

Mrs. Peggy Brechtel, OP

REFLECTION FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

By: Ms. C. A. Riley, OP

12-11-2022

Faith

How joyful are you this Advent? Can you see the wonder and rejoice in the Lord? If not, what are you waiting for? In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, we are told that even the desert and dry lands rejoiced in the Lord, for they will flower and bear fruit. How is this possible you ask? Faith! faith in the Lord our God. With him all things, even those things that seem quite impossible for us are fulfilled by merely a word from God. Even the apostle James tells us that through our faith all the sufferings of this world will be wiped away by God. 

Jesus himself tells the disciples of John to watch and then report what they have seen. So why is it we still find it hard to believe that even in suffering there is relief and even in evil there is good? Are we looking or are we blind? When will our eyes be opened to the miracles that play out even today? It takes faith and I encourage you, my brothers, and sisters in Christ to pray for those less fortunate this Advent and when Christmas Day arrives, take a moment to be grateful for what you have been given.

An excerpt from a forthcoming writing on Catholic morality, titled “Giving the Tools”.

By Mr. Joseph Walkowski

08 December 2022

In a precursor to the now-common warfare between personal political opinion and the persistent voice of natural law, Pontius Pilate sought to disrupt neither of these warring parties and instead commanded for Christ to be scourged. As all men know, the brutalization of God was not enough for the world and so His Life was demanded as well. Upon His Resurrection, though, justice was demanded even more clamorously. Men, women, and children began to follow Him, so their lives too were taken. Holy days were demarcated for the celebration of Our Lord and His mother, but these were seized by men who vainly assumed such celebrations were theirs to seize! The triumphant feasts of Saints Patrick, Valentine, and Nicholas were wiped away by a deluge of alcohol, agnostic love, or (in the case of the last of these) forgotten entirely. The world wanted Easter without the Lord, so the victory of the Lamb was preposterously replaced by a rabbit! Nations bellowed for a Christmas without a Christ, so entitled greed and secular nihility were made to overshadow benevolence and Christian traditions. The faithful themselves were too impatient for the hushed stillness of Advent that heralds the celebration of the Incarnation, so lights and entire Nativity scenes were displayed without any care for the nine months that the Blessed Virgin had to endure before she could kiss the Forehead of God; if the Lord declared that the sinless Woman must wait for all that time, why would it be any different for those who have sinned? The hopeful remembrance of All Souls was mangled and represented as a day to celebrate disorder and those things that cut our earthly lives short. Yet none of these things were sufficient for the voracity of worldlings!

Morality, too, is daily demanded of God and immediately spurned. In the earliest days of barbarism and bloodthirst, the cry went up to the heavens for morality to be bestowed upon the world. Moses thus descended from his encounter on Horeb with the Divine response to such a call. Perhaps feeling like cornered beasts, some met these holy decrees with a right hand extended in welcome but a readied dagger gripped in the left. Despite the aversion of a few, morality came to rule the hearts and lands of nations. Theologians and peacemakers, who wished only to give all people the morality they so desperately desired, were slaughtered without mercy. Ancient servitude had been commonbut no one spoke for the slaves, so Blessed Augustine spoke against such practices (i.e., the ownership of man as of a creature). The Christian Church grew as the sole bastion of morality in the West, but Her enemies attacked Her for what they saw as limits on immoral freedoms, as a child might feel oppressed when denied a second dessert. The common people continued in their clamor for “Greater morality!”, so holy men such as Dominic emphasized pious reverence for the virtues of humility, charity, and unbridled joy in all trials. Those who had little care for practicing such moral perfectors deemed themselves philosophers and used honeyed words to turn entire countries against such a holistic moral system.

With the Enlightenment came hollow orators who declared that the Church, Who had given such clear guidance for achieving the morality so often yearned for (whether or not Her offices had been filled by men who themselves lived by such Christian precepts), had never been fit to gift the world with the didactic revelations of heaven. “We shall choose our morality as we deem best fits our situation”, they stated, yet the Church did not retreat. She continued to steadfastly guide all nations to the utter goodness found only in God, though the ears of many had now been caught up in the novel ideas of modern Gnostics. Those remaining people continued to beg for moral systems, which they were thoroughly provided, until the dawning of recent centuries which brought serpentine philosophers arising from French, German, and English streets and amplified the previously irritating call to do away with the Christian messenger entirely! Those who sought Christian morality were convinced that they did not know what they sought and that morality had always been relative. No longer do people turn to the heavens for Divine Wisdom, but instead to their own fancies of any particular day. It is no longer humanity’s morality. It is not even a country’s morality. Depending on how the obstacles and inconveniences of each day might affect the average person, that one believes they can only say “My morality”.

Hope

Have you ever thought about the hope that John the Baptist had when he was out in the wildness preaching?  He knew that someone was coming, but he didn’t know who, what, or even if it would happen in his lifetime. Yet he continued, with a hope and a knowing that the Son of God would come.

John lifted his voice for our repentance, he implores us to seek forgiveness from God the Father before it’s too late; for we never know when it will be to late.  This is the second Sunday of Advent, and it represents hope.

Hope is a promise, a gift from God, if you don’t have it, you’re in a bleak place indeed. John lets us know that God is always there, willing to meet us on whatever road we’re on, no matter what we’ve done.  We are all precious in his sight and He loves us and wants us all to join him at his banquet.  Hope is what John preached by the Jordan; hope is what he saw when The Son of God knelt before him to be baptized.

 I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with love and hope.

Mrs. Denise Fourroux-Fedie, OP

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