Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

Homily – February 21

The Genesis reading today shows the covenant liturgy between God and Abraham. What Jews and Christians learn from this serious business of entering into a covenant is, God provides the grace and Abraham provides the faith. It reminds us that we too bring faith, a trust that God will provide for us and help us serve others.

First Down – Week of February 21

Dear Friends,

For many of our Christian brothers and sisters there is a constant call to be generous in giving financial resources to do their work of ministry. The expectation of many Christian denominations is that money will be talked about, following the biblical call for tithing. Many surveys show that other Christian community members are very generous in giving

financially to their communities. When some of these Christians join our Catholic family they continue their generous giving. The same data unfortunately shows that in many Christian Communities, Catholics are the people who give the least.

There are many reasons why, yet it does not remove the call to ask Christian Disciples in Mission to share their bounty that has come from God. There can be a misconception that money talks should not be given. Yet one only needs to look closely at the life of Jesus who depended on the generous giving of the people. There are actual names of men and women in the scriptures who gave money to Jesus for his mission. To feed his group, to give to those in need, for his travel and all things needed to meet the basic human needs.

St. Paul talked about people giving him money for his mission and collecting money for needy communities that were established. Paul gave gratitude for the people giving generously. Our parish community today relies on the generosity of its family members to help meet the needs of our mission in preaching the Gospel and caring for those in need. I am grateful for those who take seriously the call to be generous. Without your willingness to give we could not do what God has asked of us. Yet in all honesty there are a significant number of parishioners that give very little or nothing at all. Our weekly giving has not reached the pre-recession levels, even though a significant number of people do have the ability to be generous in their giving to this community.

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday, an opportunity to remind all parishioners the need to give, to help us continue our mission to bring Christ into the world. Does St. Patrick Community bear any fruit in the world? Does what we do at St. Patrick make any difference to people? Why then do so many people come to us looking for Christ, support, help, comfort, direction, prayers, communion, sacraments, forgiveness, hope and the teachings of Christ. There is so much we offer through God’s grace and yet so many give so little or nothing at all.

I invite everyone to help change some of the data that shows that Catholics give the least of all Christian denominations. We can begin in our community, as all that we do can only be done through generous giving. As Jesus, St. Paul and many others in scriptures depended on generous gifts, so do we.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Eric

Homily – February 14

The words Lent and Mercy are more than just headline words for this season. When opened we discover that Lent practices must lead us to be aware of the suffering of those hurting in our society. Scriptures remind us the practices of fasting and prayer in the end miss the point if we are indifferent to human suffering. Mercy is healthy relationship with others and 10 items are shared that can give us practical things to work on during Lent that lead us to mercy.

Download:  Fr. Eric’s 10 Ways to Show Mercy During Lent
Read More: Our Lent Page of the Website

First Down – Week of February 14

Dear Friends,

The teachings of Jesus in the Gospels on marriage can be difficult to fully understand exactly how we are to live it in our lives. Jesus does speak on marriage and what the early community struggled with regarding divorce. When two people become a Sacrament in our Catholic faith, the priest

who is a witness along with those present assume that the marriage taking place is valid, spiritually. This means that two people enter the union freely, a quality of consent that is good and that both people can carry out the expectations of a valid marriage.

When divorce happens, anyone has the right to petition for an annulment. In other words, no one can say beforehand you have no case or no chance for an annulment. An annulment means something spiritually was missing from the relationship prior to the wedding. It does not mean children become illegitimate, and an annulment does not say that the relationship did not happen. It seeks to look closely at the relationship since we believe all marriages are sacramentally valid until otherwise shown through a process. This can all be hard to understand during such a painful time. Mercy needs to be the challenge of the Church in trying to follow what Jesus wanted for marriage and be merciful when couples find their relationship has been broken.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted has decided that the Diocese of Phoenix Tribunal, which oversees such annulment cases and other marriage situations, will now provide the annulment service free of charge. In other words, no one will be asked for money to help offset some of the costs of providing this service. Pope Francis has in the past expressed a desire that the Church not ask for a fee for such services and our Bishop has decided that our Diocese will no longer ask for a fee. What good news for many people.

During this year of Mercy, asked for by Pope Francis, this is an important step to reach out to those who find themselves in need of an annulment. I personally see the need for an annulment for many reasons. The other side of the coin is that the process takes way too long, and this saddens me, but I have no control over the process. This may not be the best day to share this news with you on Valentine’s Day, yet I think it is. Anytime the Church can take steps to comfort those who want to love again, to protect the marriages of those already married by reminding us of the beauty of that great sacrament, I see this as healing and hopeful. I am so grateful to Bishop Olmsted for making the decision for no charge for annulments. May this merciful step go even further in being just as merciful as our Merciful Father.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Eric

First Down – Week of February 7

Dear Friends,

We begin another Lenten season this week. People know that Ash Wednesday is a big deal as ashes are distributed. This allows people to have an outward sign showing they want to follow God as well as reminding others that Lent has begun. Traditionally Fridays have been days of self-sacrifice and penance. Businesses know that on Fridays in Lent

increased amounts of fish and other non-red meat items will be sold and they plan accordingly. Most people know that Catholics do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent, except the Catholics! Giving up meat is a small way we can share in Jesus’ mission to give up things that are not as important to God and take on things that are very important to him. Catholics sometimes choose a different item to give up/offer up. Another way Catholics honor this tradition during Lent is to take on new things which help our spiritual outlook.

We are reminded that Lent does not stand alone, meaning that it is all about giving up things or making ourselves uncomfortable for six weeks. All our Lenten practices lead us to prepare to celebrate the great season of Easter, which lasts for seven weeks! Lent helps us remove things from our lives that keep us from experiencing fully the Easter mystery.

I look forward to seeing many people come to the church on Wednesday, as it’s always nice to see people on days other than just Sundays. This is a wonderful outward sign of our journey to renew our lives during this holy season of Lent. Also, every parishioner will be receiving a magazine that covers our theme of Mercy for Lent and for the entire year. It provides a great resource in understanding what mercy really is and how we can practice mercy in our daily lives and relationships.

We also want to keep in prayer all the adults and families that are in our Initiation process. These adults and family members have been on a journey to prepare for full communion with our Catholic family. On the first Sunday of Lent they will become the elect and will examine closely their commitment prior to being fully initiated at our Easter Vigil Mass.

May our merciful God show us the way to Easter this Lenten season.

Heavenly Hint:

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Eric

God Takes the First Step


 
All three scripture readings this Sunday deal with three individuals not feeling worthy to serve the Lord. Isaiah says he as unclean lips, Simon Peter asks the Lord to leave him for being a sinful man and St Paul writes that was one who persecuted the follower of Jesus. Yet all three readings speak of God initiating his mercy meeting them as who they are and where they were at. All three given the grace to serve him. That is our story as well if we trust that God is the one who takes the first step towards us.