Category: From the Staff

Welcome the Stranger: Extended Love Resource Guide

Extended Love: Migration and the Church

Fr. Eric wishes to share with everyone this resource guide. “Extended Love: Migration and the Church” is a quick reference resource to help everyone reflect on Church teachings, scripture, and quotes regarding the issue of migration and how the Church is called to respond.

Click here to download the resource.

If you would like to dive further into this topic, you are invited to join VIP (Valley Interfaith Project) and us as we co-host a Civic Academy on the topic, Wednesday, January 16. Click here to download the flyer.

Click here to visit a webpage with all the information we currently have on our Matthew 25 Project which is the way we are answering the call to Welcome the Stranger.

Recalculating – A Christmas Story

Recalculating – A Christmas Story

Read below or use the player above to hear the story of Zadkiel and Aniel. As angels in the Heavenly Hosts Choir, they were very excited to be heading to earth tonight for this performance of a lifetime, a performance announcing the birth of the greatest king ever!

Written By: Dr. John Konicek

 

Audio Version

Read By: Torri Winn

Music: Arrangement of “Silent Night” by Rocky Searan from his album “Synthetic Christmas.” Used with permission.

Recorded By: Michelle Harvey

Edited By: Adam G. Stein

 

Go Beyond the story… 

Fr. Eric & Kevin McGloin will be hosting a special evening event that is open to anyone looking to reconnect with their faith. Have you taken a different path? Do you hear that voice, like your GPS, saying, “Recalculating?” Then join us for one of these two evenings.

RECALCULATING

Wednesday, January 9 or Monday, January 14

7:00 pm in the Daily Mass Chapel

 

Christmas Angels Take a Turn for the Worst

Zadkiel and Aniel had been practicing their music for generations.  Aniel excelled at memorizing her lines for the soprano part, whereas Zadkiel had a remarkable range as a tenor.  As angels in the Heavenly Hosts Choir, they were very excited to be heading to earth tonight for this performance of a lifetime, a performance announcing the birth of the greatest king ever.  The lead angel [who went by his professional title, Angel of the Lord]  had kept the exact location of the performance under wraps, but Zadkiel and Aniel had speculated that the announcement would be made to people who were really powerful and profoundly influential. Zadkiel was certain that the prominent Temple Priests would need to be the first to hear the important news.  It was a jewish baby being born after all.  Aniel insisted that the proclamation should go right to the top, to the Roman emperor.  Not the nicest of persons, but none had more power than he did.

The signal came to head out.  Zadkiel and Aniel as section leaders were equipped with a GPS [Gloria Positioning System].  Zadkiel confident of what he thought would be the stopping place entered the location for the Temple.  Aniel, just as certain for her prediction, entered “Rome.” However, as they got closer to earth, the Angel of the Lord texted the actual coordinates.  The voice on Zadkiel’s and Aniel’s GPS cried out, “Recalculating! Recalculating!”  How could they both be wrong?  Dismayed, they followed the directional arrow to the final destination, but it was a field with sheep and shepherds.  Both Zadkiel and Aniel tapped their screens, hoping to correct the obviously bad connection.  This was the wrong place with the wrong people.  Shepherds were undesirables, unclean and living outside the city where dirty people belonged.  They often illegally grazed their flocks on land that didn’t belong to them.  And their animals were involved in a financial scheme with the Temple priests that charged high prices for exclusive sacrifices to God.

Surely they must have taken a wrong turn. Then the Angel of the Lord spoke directly to the shepherds, announcing good news of great joy for all the people.  Born this day is a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. The Heavenly Hosts Choir on cue launched into a song of praise. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”  It wasn’t a wrong turn after all.  These lowly ones understood the meaning of the message and immediately spread that message to others, the message of how the earth would be forever set in motion for God’s new direction for humanity.  Where God is leading us is the way of embrace for the lost and the lowly, the downtrodden and the abandoned, the discarded and the dirty.  God’s saving love finds us where we often don’t think it can exist. This Christmas, how will you let the Angel of the Lord recalculate where God is found in your life, especially in the places you would never expect?

Light Blindness

“By the mystery of the incarnation, Christ has led the human race, that walked in darkness, into the radiance of faith.” These words come from one of the Lenten Preface prayers in the Roman Missal, and they can bring focus to our readings this weekend. Light and sight are directly related. Without light, there is nothing for the eye to see. Just as the light of the sun (or a light bulb) is necessary to physically see, the light of the Son is necessary to spiritually see.

Our second reading reminds us that we were all once in darkness, but now we walk in the light of the Lord. Christ is our light and we are called to see as He sees. When God anoints David through Samuel in the first reading, he tells Samuel, “Not as man sees does God see.” The light of the Lord changes our perspective. In the Gospel, the man born blind has never seen light physically through his eyes. He does not seek Jesus out. He didn’t call for Jesus, and his friends didn’t lower him down on a mat. It was Jesus’ disciples, seeking an answer to a question, that brought the blind man to Jesus’ attention. They ask Jesus, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The disciples were seeing as man sees. They made a judgment and that judgment blinded them.

It was the belief of the time that the man’s blindness must be a punishment for some sin. Because of this belief, man saw an outcast. This blinded them. There was no way that they could see God’s presence in this man. How often do we do the same? We can judge, label, and marginalize. We can dismiss others because this person does that, or this person said this, or votes this way, or acts that way. Because of our judgments, we can find ourselves unable to see the presence of Christ in someone.

Through the man born blind, Jesus changes the perspective of the disciples, and he can change ours as well. Jesus saw someone in whom “the works of God might be made visible.” That is what we are challenged to see. The works of God can be, and are, visible in everyone… we just need to have our eyes opened. Can we change our perspective? Can we walk in the light of the Lord and see as he sees? It’s not always easy, but the radiance of faith makes it possible.

– Adam Stein
Coordinator of Communications

Be Holy

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” ~ Our readings this weekend give us a big task! Thank God the psalm reminds us, “the Lord is kind and merciful.”

The readings tie holiness directly to right relationships with each other. Holiness is not achieved on our own, but in relationship with and care for others. God knew this, and sent Jesus to be in relationship with us, showing us the way.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The word became flesh to be our model of holiness.” Jesus’ life is our guide. The Second Vatican Council’s document, “Lumen Gentium,” says, “At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right. God, however, does not make [a person] holy, and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather it has pleased [God] to bring [all] together as one people, a people which acknowledges [God] in truth and serves God in holiness.”

We are holy together! Jesus teaches this in the Gospel today and by His very life. Jesus’ call to love everyone, even our enemies, and God’s command, in the first reading, to love your neighbor as yourself show us how we live holiness.

St. Paul ties it all together, in the second reading, by reminding us that the Spirit of God dwells in each one of us. We belong to Christ, and in Christ we are united with each other. Everyone. Holy, as one.

This big task is achievable! ~ Let’s be holy by seeing Christ in ourselves, and in everyone we encounter.

Adam Stein
Coordinator of Communications

Stretch Forth Your Hands

Every Wednesday our staff gathers for a time of prayer where we look at the readings for the Sunday coming up, pray for all the prayers on our envelopes, and the needs of the community. Each staff member takes a turn leading this time and each one brings their own flavor to this time of prayer. This week, Torri Winn shared a reflection by Deacon Nick Senger that she found online and adapted. We wanted to share that reflection with you here (after the adapted reflection below, there is a link to the original, longer reflection, online).

Have you ever looked at people’s hands; the hands of your grandmother or grandfather, Or at the hands of an elderly friend?  The hands of a chef, a custodial worker, a mom/dad? Then you’ve had a glimpse of their life story.

Each pair of hands has a story to tell, and the older we get, the more our hands have to say. Some hands are scarred or spotted.  A hand can have callouses or be as smooth as lotion. No two hands are alike. Each hand in the world has its own unique creases and landmarks. No two fingers have the same fingerprints. Written on our hands is the story of our lives and the choices we have made.

The readings this weekend speak to us of the choices that lie in our own two hands. The book of Sirach tells us God has set before us fire and water. To whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Life or death.  Good or evil.  Water of Life or Fiery Gehenna. The choice is in our hands.

In the gospel Jesus tells us that we have the choice to break the commandments or to obey the commandments. The choice is in our hands. …or is it?

We make the choice in our hearts, and our hands make it happen.

What do our hands tell us about the choices our hearts have made?

What story do they tell?

God sets before us fire and water, And it is up to us to decide to which we will stretch out our hands.

We each have a choice to make. And the actions of the hands reveal the choices of the heart.

We may intend to do good, and we may know the right thing to do. But no matter what we intend to do, we discover what we truly choose by the story we read in our hands.

God’s hands tell a story too.

We can see the workings of God’s heart by looking at those hands:

The hands that smeared spit and mud and cured a man’s blindness.

The hands that touched the leper and made him clean.

The hands that drew Lazarus forth from the grave.

The hands that broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples.

The hands that washed their feet.

The hands outstretched on the cross.

With his hands, Jesus freely embraced the will of the Father; He chose Life over death. Good over evil. Relationship over rebellion. And his wounded hands tell the story.

Like Jesus, we are free to decide. God does not tie our hands. He lets us choose. God will never use violence to force our hand. God is persuasive, assertive, and direct.  But never tyrannical. There are no handcuffs in heaven.

We can choose to break commandments or to break bread, to build up or tear down.

When we gather as a community to renew our decision to choose the Water of Life and reject the Fiery Gehenna, and extend our hands in a sign of peace, and offer the story of our lives to our neighbors – No matter what our hands say about the choices we have made in the past, today we offer our lives to each other in peace, and recommit ourselves to choosing life.

We approach the altar and stretch out our hands to accept the Body and Blood of Christ from the Hands of the minister of the Eucharist.

Our hands receive the One who holds us in His hands…

And once again our stories will become the One Story…

And we will know it as well as we know the back of our hands.

Read the original complete reflection by clicking here

We are a Light in the Darkness

In the Gospel from this weekend Jesus calls us the “light of the world and the salt of the earth.” This is part of our identity in Christ. However it doesn’t end with simply “being” light and salt, we must do something. After Jesus identifies us, He then challenges us, “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

How can we be light? We can look to the psalm of the day, “the just man is a light in darkness.” Through justice, our light shines! What is justice? For the answer to this question, we can look to the first reading where God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and challenges the people to “share your bread with the hungry” and “shelter the oppressed and homeless.” God says we must clothe the naked and not turn our backs on our own. This is no easy task, but, in doing this, our light shines.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that justice is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” – It is about relationship. – Without an “other,” who is the light for?

Our light is not for us. It is for others! The Catechism continues to teach that, “justice toward [all] disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the sacred scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor.” Justice is the Gospel in action.

Through our justice we share with others the light of Christ. ~ May we have the courage to act justly and allow our light to break forth like the dawn, proclaiming to the world God’s glory.

Adam Stein
Coordinator of Communications

Our Epiphany Story

The Epiphany story is one of my favorites. A star, mysterious magi from the East, an evil king, all the elements of a good story. Yet we celebrate more than a story. The Gospel of Matthew, like Jesus, uses stories to teach us something essential to being Christian. Here we have foreign wise men seeking, journeying far from home, following a gift of the natural world to find the promise of God. They find that promise in a child living in a remote village with a carpenter and his young wife. Later in the story, this couple and child must flee to the land where their ancestors had been enslaved. Obedient to God, they would undertake a dangerous journey to seek protection and peace in another land, unfamiliar and sometimes hostile – all to protect the child, the promise of God.

The story is a familiar one. Parents leave home, threatened by violence and death to find safety and peace for their children. Yet there is something more in this story. This is the story of Emmanuel, God-with-us. The magi don’t just find a family with a young child, they find the promise of God. They experience the reality of God-with-us, present and real in the child. Their response is worship.

This story teaches us something essential to being Christian. It teaches us that God is here with us, that God is for all the world, including foreigners. It teaches us to recognize God-with-us in others, especially the poor and vulnerable. God calls us to recognize him in those who suffer, both near and far.

The Epiphany story tells us of wise men from the East searching for the promise of God. The wise men were most likely travelers from present day Iraq and Syria, once a place of wealth and culture. Today, it is a place of violence and suffering, a place where 3.2 million Syrians have fled searching for life, peace and safety. Just as the holy family fled to Egypt seeking to protect the promise of God, parents in the Syria and Iraq travel long distances seeking safety and peace for their children. The majority of registered Syrian refugees are women and children. 51% of these refugees are children under 17 and another 23% are women. Catholic Relief Services, UNESCO and other organizations are working hard to bring food, medicine, shelter and healing to these families. CRS is working with refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Serbia and you can learn about their work with children and families and more information about the Syrian refugee crisis at www.crs.org/media-center/syrian-refugee-crisis-7-things-you-can-do-help. Their work needs our support.

Each Epiphany at St. Patrick we invite parishioners to reflect on how we personally recognize the face of God in our world, our God-with-us. Again this year we invite you to take an ornament from the Epiphany trees in the narthex. On these ornaments we offer stories of refugee children and families and resources to learn, pray and act for these little ones, these suffering ones, these children and families fleeing their homes to find peace and safety, people choosing life. These resources come from Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who have proclaimed the week of Epiphany National Migration Week. They call us to pray and act on behalf of migrants and refugees around the world, and those victimized by human trafficking. God is truly with us, inviting us to love our neighbor. May your new year and this Epiphany be blessed with peace.

Cathy Olds, Coordinator of Social Justice and Outreach Ministry

Love is all Around

Love is all around… What difference does it make?

As our week unfolds, we shift seamlessly from the impatient waiting of Advent into the joyous festivity of Christmas. In our liturgical space, violets and purples are replaced with celebratory whites and greens; in our liturgical prayer, focus shifts from Christ’s coming in the “end times” (there are fancy words for this concept but I thought I’d spare you) to his incarnation, his birth as the infant Jesus.

With the incarnation, Love is birthed into humanity in a whole new way. Christ’s transformative love flows out over humanity—indeed over every living thing, every aspect of creation—as an extraordinary divine energy. And so, analytically inclined as I am, I ask myself, “What exactly do I do with that realization? What difference does it make to me that, as the song says, love is all around?”

The answer whispers back in the form of something I read in a newsletter from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, a very fine author on the spiritual life. “Love,” he says, “is not love until you stop expecting something back. The moment you want something in return for your giving, love is weakened and prostituted.”

Strong words! Since I’m not liking the notion that any love I offer be weakened, much less prostituted (what a thought!), I think I’ll work on making sure that my love always flows outwards. I think I’ll try to work on letting go of any desire for reciprocity, any expectation of return-in-kind, any desired outcome from whatever giving my Christmas season entails.

It’ll have to be a secret mission, though. After all, if I let the family know that I’m working on expecting nothing back in return for the love I’m dishing out, then they’ll be compelled to notice and compliment me on my marvelous generous spirit, which of course defeats the purpose.

Wish me luck.

Tricia Hoyt
Director of Evangelization, Family Ministry and Adult Formation

Extraordinary Gift

I was rather taken aback once, upon reading a book on the family, to discover the following: In the 19th century, one of the many definitions sociologists gave to the family was as a unit of producers; by the late 20th and early 21st centuries, however, such a definition had mutated to a unit of consumers. The fundamental shift implicit in this observation is clear. Our efforts no longer rally around the energies of the peasant economy or the industrial revolution; they function to bolster the success of the market economy.

Nowhere does this become more evident than during these weeks before Christmas. It is truly a task of herculean proportions to resist the lure of the shopping frenzy and focus on the tranquility and gentle expectation that is the hallmark of the Advent spirit.

I experience it personally: I venture out to a mall or shimmy onto a favorite retailer’s website, and voilà! I am transformed into a wanting creature! My customary serenity (or whatever passes for it in my daily life) vanishes. In its place are desires for stuff… stuff to give to my grandchildren, to adorn my house, to send as gifts to friends I haven’t seen in years, … the possibilities of justifying purchases, of acquiring stuff, are endless. Addiction reigns.

How enticing, in contrast, are the dulcet tones of the third week of Advent’s Rejoice theme! Rejoice in this, and only this: we are treasured. We are delighted in by a God who is ridiculously pleased to bring us into the fullness of communion with himself. To God, we are indeed an extraordinary gift. To us, Christ is the extraordinary gift.

Now, that one we won’t find on special or online.

Tricia Hoyt
Director of Evangelization, Family Ministry and Adult Formation