What's New

Reflections from Deacon Steven

Deacon Steven guides us through the readings we hear at Mass and relevant topics on our faith. He provides reflective essays to help inspire us as we navigate our personal spiritual journey.

Reflection for September 13 – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As many as seven times..?

Despite ourselves and our faults and our behaviors, God has great optimism for us. What is evident throughout salvation history, from the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament to the Christian Scriptures of the New Testament, God always believes we are better than we think we are.

Guiding the Israelites and through the ministry of Jesus, God is continually coaxing us and calling us to a level of love and forgiveness that we find difficult, if not impossible – except to God, who believes all things are possible, even for us.

And so, despite evidence to the contrary, God continues to speak to us about our potential for love, compassion and forgiveness.

This weekend, we hear from the Prophet Sirach (27:30-28:7), one of the seven so-called wisdom books of the Old Testament, written about 175 B.C. A book largely of moral teaching, it continues the traditions of the prophets some 500 years earlier to expound on our relationship with God that is lived by how we treat each other. These lessons are familiar, and ones we hear from Christ himself.

“Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” Sirach writes. We’ve heard that before.

“Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.” Again, nothing new to us as Catholic Christians, as followers of Christ.

In Matthew’s Gospel (18:21-35), Peter, who in so many ways mirrors our own conscience, quizzes Jesus about the depth of forgiveness that is required.

“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Peter wonders. Seven was a symbol of completeness.

And yet, Jesus ups the ante: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”

This level of forgiveness is among the great challenges of Christianity, right along with loving our enemies.

Our loving Jesuit Pope Francis reminds us of this responsibility to ourselves and others often. But it is not to feel our call as Catholic Christians as a burden, rather an opportunity to walk peacefully with Jesus. It is what Francis calls “The Joy of the Gospel,” in his great apostolic exhortation published in 2013. Forgiveness, as love, is a blessing to those who give and to those who receive. It is Godly.

We have faith that no matter how often we fail, or how far we fall, God is waiting for us, to catch us. He is our biggest fan. He keeps speaking to us, if we take a moment to listen, and imploring us to do the same. God has a higher purpose for us and he remains confident we can achieve it.

And so, even in our worst moments, we see and feel God’s unconditional love and his desire to call us back. In Catholic sacramental terms, we call it Reconciliation – our renewed and deepened relationship with God that comes each time we come to him in confession. We might wonder if sometimes he doesn’t look on with amusement, knowing our silly and repeated failures as he sees where we are headed and waits for us to find our way back. But he is always there.

The Name of God is Mercy,” Pope Francis reminds us in his 2016 publication. The pope’s message is clear and simple, as is his way. We need not complicate God, but only to embrace him and to allow him to embrace us.

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection for August 23 – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Upon This Rock…”

Jesus, as the Son of God, sees and understands all things. We, of course, do not. In many gospel stories we find the early disciples confused and challenged by the things Jesus said. So it was when Jesus, as we read in this weekend’s Gospel (Mt 16:13-20), calls Peter the Rock, of all things, and further says he will build his Church upon him.

Did Jesus do this out of a rich sense of irony, or maybe just for amusement? Because Peter seemed the least likely person to put in charge of anything. This fisherman was, by many accounts, impulsive, zealous and combative – a bit rough around the edges.

He usually was the first to believe, to go “all in”- and the first to fail. Remember, in faith he walks to Jesus on the water, then suddenly loses his way and sinks. “Lord save me,” he says, and Jesus does.

After Jesus is arrested, Peter, who said he will never leave Jesus, denies him three times. “I do not know him!” And three times Jesus, after his resurrection, asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter says, “Lord, you know that I love you.”

Hardly a rock at all. More like a weathervane turning in the wind. What, his fellow disciples must have wondered, was   Jesus doing or thinking?

But we don’t see as God sees. Jesus never abandons Peter. Rather, he seems to have soft spot for Peter’s compassion and humanity. Jesus sees into Peter’s heart, and upon that lays the foundation of the Church.

Jesus, fully divine, also is fully human. He understands our humanity – our temptations, weaknesses, strengths and potential. So in Peter we get the head of a new Church who is fully human, with all the commensurate faults and foibles, passion and possibilities.

As such, Peter is hope and encouragement for all of us when we stray, fail, lose our focus and need forgiveness. He is us. Each time Peter fails, he returns to Jesus and commits himself more deeply. Each time, Jesus is waiting and embraces him – perhaps with a knowing smile at his weakness, innocence and excitement.

If Jesus is willing and desires to keep waiting for and forgiving Peter, he desires the same for us. This is the great promise of Jesus’ love; the fulfillment of his promise to be with us always.

When Peter proclaims without hesitation that Jesus is the Messiah, it is not from his own brilliance or intellect or theological study. Peter speaks innocently from his heart, which is open to the wonder and surprises of God. As Jesus tells him: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”

It is Peter who reflexively responds with pure faith and understanding when Jesus asks the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Peter replies. This is a radical and divine revelation.

So that is a question we might well continue to ask ourselves – often. Who do we say he is? Who is Jesus to us? Are we open to believe what he says, to the doubts and the fears, and to the wonder and surprises, and continue to go to him?

And, importantly, what do we do about it? Because Jesus did not call Peter simply to faith and belief. He called him to go and to build a Church – not in a grand basilica or a consecrated building, but a gathering of people – all people. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Jesus says (Mt 18:20). That is the rock upon which Peter will build this Church – it is upon us. It is not a building. We are the Church – the one Jesus promises to protect so that nothing shall prevail against it. This Church is as strong as we are. So, like Peter, do we have the faith and the courage to say to him: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and live like we mean it?

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for August 16 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our Solidarity with the Poor

Among the culture-rattling messages of Jesus’s ministry was his insistence of God’s universal love for all people. The sick, the poor, the outcasts, women and children, Gentiles and pagans, sinners and lepers all have dignity. Jesus not only included them, he went to them. He sought them out and stopped when they called to him. He touched them, he ate with them, he prayed for them and he healed them.

Such is the radical nature of what would be called “Christianity.’’ The elite are not to be served, but to be held accountable for their generosity toward and treatment of others. Leaders are servants. The first shall be last. The lowly shall be lifted. The meek shall inherit the Earth. The hungry will be fed, the rich will be sent away.

The great comfort and compassion of Jesus Christ is alive and explicit in these teachings. The great challenge of Christianity also is evident in his words and actions. Try as we may, believe as we do, our societies continue to place great value on wealth and status, and ignore, sometimes disdain, the poor, the needy, those who can’t care for themselves or “carry their own weight,” as we say.

The tendency to isolate ourselves among like-minded people in the name of righteousness is seductive and  gradual. It also is pervasive and destructive – to others and to ourselves.

In this weekend’s Masses, the Prophet Isaiah (56:1, 6-7) reminds us that we must remain open and welcoming to others, those he calls “the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord.”

As Catholics, we are called to do the same as disciples of Jesus and for the common good of the Church in the world. In our own Catholic social teaching, we proclaim our solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed. “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” the prophet preaches.

In Matthew’s gospel (15:21-28), Jesus shows us the depth of acceptance that extends to the lowliest and most desperate among us. Jesus’s encounter with the Canaanite women, an outcast and a despised “sinner,” shakes up his disciple’s understanding of society and who among us counts.

Jesus first indulges their Jewish assumption that neither a poor Gentile woman nor her suffering daughter are worthy of God or their time. They are not his concern: “I was sent only to lost sheep of Israel.” And when he says to her, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,” the disciples and those around him might have nodded in agreement

Then Jesus reverses the story, exposing the sinfulness of the crowd’s attitudes. Instead, he reveals God’s forgiveness and compassion for all, including those who are rejected. Jesus is moved by the woman’s persistence and faith, and her willingness to risk shame and humiliation for his love and attention. She believes Jesus can heal her daughter in all her brokenness, that he is different. She is correct.

“Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.”

Jesus acts outside the restrictive rituals and rules of the Temple worship that became barriers to our shared   humanity, no matter how well intended they were. In his compassion, Jesus responds the only way God, by his very definition, can respond – with love, because that’s what God is.

Jesus would come to expect the same from his disciples then, just as he continues to expect from us now.

 

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for August 9 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Whoever has ears …”

We live in a loud world. We are inundated with noise. Music, voices, traffic, sirens, televisions, radios. Even our phones whistle, beep and talk at us. Not to mention those who are convinced that the more loudly they speak the more persuasive they are.

There is so much noise, but is anyone listening?

It seems to be there are fewer places, and fewer ways, simply to find quiet; a time and place to listen and to hear. Yet, it is often in the silence of our days, of our hearts, of our minds, that we can hear God more clearly.

Such is the case with our friend Elijah, the prophet we meet this weekend in the First Book of Kings (19:9a, 11-13a). In his quest to discover God on Mount Horeb, the great mountain of God, Elijah looks in what seems to be sensible places – big events worthy of a mighty God: the strong wind that crushes rocks, the earthquake that rattles the ground, the fire that followed and consumed the space. But the Lord was not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire.

“After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (19: 11-13)

There was the voice of God. Not in the great events, but gentle, compassionate and embracing as he invited Elijah into  relationship with him. Had Elijah not listened for that small voice, he might have missed him. It makes us wonder how often we, too, might miss God in the routine, mundane, quiet times in our lives – waiting for the big moments when God floods us his presence, be they joyful or sorrowful. Indeed, sometimes we have to sift through the sound and fury, particularly in these times of anger, polarization and anxiety, to hear God amid the noise. In our faith, as his disciples, can we trust that God is in the small, calming voices of our day waiting to welcome us?

The very first disciples wrestled with the same dilemma, by the way. Perhaps it’s a necessary step toward a deeper faith.

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew (14:22-33), Jesus’ friends are in peril. A few miles offshore, their fishing boat is tossed by wind-driven waves in a storm that sprang upon them suddenly. Jesus, who was praying alone on a mountain, saw their distress and reached out to them. But not in an expected way. No, Jesus came to them walking upon the sea, an impossible fear that terrified them even further.

Standing amid the great storm, Jesus encourages them in his quiet, calm voice. “Do not be afraid.” And they hear him. He calls Peter by name: “Come.” Hearing that voice through the storm, and with instinctive faith, Peter steps out of the boat and onto the turbulent sea toward Jesus. It is not until he is distracted by the sound and commotion around him that he loses his trust and his contact with Jesus, and he sinks.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus asks Peter as he reaches down to save him. Safely in the boat, and when the wind died down and when the noise abated, the disciples could hear and recognize clearly what was always there: “Truly, you are the son of God.”

What we learn through the first disciples is that Jesus continues to call for us, to reach for us even in the chaos and confusion – especially in the chaos and confusion. Just as Elijah finally discovers God in the small quiet voice, so too we can be reassured – can have faith and trust – that Jesus is speaking to us, if we only take time to find that quiet place to listen. Our peace in that voice.

And as Jesus so often tells his disciples as they travel with him: “Whoever has ears, ought to hear.”

 

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection for August 2 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Longing and Desire

A friend used to say that he often prayed for patience, but he stopped because God kept giving him more things to test his patience.

He may be onto something. In a society and culture that has come to expect immediate gratification, patience is a rare virtue. We don’t like to wait, and we don’t do it so well anymore.

So it is with added respect and admiration that we welcome the children, young people and adults who in the weeks ahead will celebrate the initiation Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation in our parish.

These sacraments were scheduled for the spring, but the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns forced them to wait – the second-graders for First Communion, young people and adults for Confirmation, and our RCIA people who have prepared for Baptism, Confirmation and Communion at the Easter Vigil Mass.

Our first communicants will be received at weekend Masses in Padua Hall, two families at each, beginning Aug. 8, confirmations are scheduled for Saturdays beginning Aug. 8, and our RCIA Mass is scheduled for the 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept 13 Mass in Padua Hall.

As difficult as this delay has been, it’s good to remind ourselves that in our anxiety God always waits with us and for us. We can encourage each other to use these times not to despair, but to grow closer to God, more reliant on his love for us, and maybe even patient.

Sometimes it is in our need and our brokenness that we find Christ. Free from attachments and distractions, we might see and feel Him more clearly, more intimately. It is as St. Paul admits in his beautiful surrender to Christ in his Second Letter to the Corinthians:

“Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (Chapter 12:10)

It was a journey of angst and patience, too, for the first disciples who wondered and waited what this Jesus was saying, what he was going to do and where they were heading.

Consider their situation in this weekend’s gospel story (Matthew 14:13-21). Saddened and shaken by the death of John the Baptist, they follow Jesus to the mountain where he asks them to do the impossible: Feed the 5,000 people who followed them with fives loaves of bread and two fish.

Doubtful, they do as he asks, resigned to trust that he will be provide. They have traveled with him, learned from him, prayed with him. They see in this moment, “his heart was moved with pity for them.” In solidarity with their suffering and weariness, he chooses not to send the people away, but to feed them – physically and spiritually.

In these times, particularly, we remind ourselves that we are those 5,000, longing and dependent on Christ. We wait in solidarity with our children and adults seeking the sacraments that draw all of us closer to Christ. Though delayed, with their increased desire, they may be among the best prepared to embrace their communion with Christ and the Catholic Church. In these coming weeks, please be sure to welcome them and to thank them for their time, commitment and devotion.

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for July 26 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Holding on to our Treasure

Catholic immigrants poured into the United States in significant numbers more than a century ago and soon began to build churches in their neighborhoods. The Church was the center of these ethnic communities of new Americans. Many of them poor, they came together to celebrate mass and sacraments, to socialize and to support and to care for each other. They depended on the Church, they depended on each other, and both flourished.

A generation or two later, these immigrants and their children began to gain status and economic security – even wealth. With affluence came independence. They no longer needed each other as much. And maybe not the Church, either. Gradually, many drifted away.

In these day, as our Church has been taken away from us just a little bit, maybe we are rediscovering what a treasure it is. In the scripture readings this weekend, particularly in the Gospel (Matthew 13:44-52), Jesus invites us to take a closer look at things that have true and lasting value, how we cherish them, and if maybe our priorities have become disordered.

He presents us with allegories of the hidden treasure in the field and the fine pearl. Once we find them, he shows us, we should rejoice and cling to them, ready to discard whatever else we don’t need. Like the Church, and Christ himself, true treasures sustain us.

He reminds us, even warns us, that maintaining that focus and desire can be a challenge. There are so many distractions and temptations calling our attention. So we tend to worry or complain that people just don’t come to Church anymore. It’s not like the “old days.”

But, in reality, it is like the “old days.” Indeed, it is the ongoing history of salvation from the stories of Adam and Eve, King Solomon, the great prophets and up to the temple officials in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus: God answers and rescues his people in their poverty and distress, they respond with great joy and thanksgiving, they achieve wealth and success, they are corrupted and they forget their need for God and each other.

This might be a time to ask ourselves how many times we have wandered away from God to pursue our own interests, to be our own person, not to need anyone. It leads to a lonely place.

Yet we know God always waits for us patiently the way the father celebrates the return of the prodigal son. Many of us have drifted and were thankful to be welcomed back to rediscover the true treasure that is our faith, our Church and our God. Let us remember to extend that same kindness and patience for those we know, or even don’t know, as they find their way back.

Paul, in his Letter to Romans (8:28-30), expresses this hope and optimism as he exhorts the new Christian community there to keep things in proper order, particularly their hearts:

“Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection for July 19th – At Home with our Church

At Home with our Church

An intrinsic part of Catholic faith formation, whether it’s First Holy Communion, teenagers preparing for Confirmation or adults seeking to become Catholic, is something we call the “Domestic Church.”

What that means is that the foundation of our faith and religion is in our homes. This is where our faith begins, where we first learn about Jesus and Church – and the place where they must be nurtured and sustained if they are to grow.

To take root, our faith cannot be just another one-hour-a-week appointment that we keep and then move onto something else. Though we gather each weekend to celebrate the Mass together, to share our love for Christ and His love for us, to sustain and to encourage each other, to worship with each other, that alone is not enough to penetrate our hearts, our minds and our lives. It is fleeting, really.

So in these most difficult times, separated as we are living through the Corona pandemic, our “Domestic Church” is even more important. Without the ritual of the Mass and the words and encouragement of the priests, without the Holy Eucharist, we must practice our faith in new and innovative ways we never expected would be necessary. We have relied on the Church to take care of this for us, so in many instances we might not be ready to go it alone.

Yet, we are ready. More importantly, God is ready and always has been. We are not alone. Our Church, more than ever, lives in our homes. It is in our daily lives. It is wherever we choose for it to be. As such, we might ask ourselves, what is God trying to show me and to tell me in this time? What can we learn about the eternal presence of God in our lives now that we are forced to take the first step toward Him?

Our Jesuit friends have an expression, “real world, real God.” It reminds us that God is not tucked away in a Church or a tabernacle, but is experienced in the moments of each day. God is in all things. Now, we need to take the time to find Him and to recognize Him.

So we learn to feed one another. To become Church to one another. To let God reveal himself in new and surprising ways. To get to the roots of our faith as the first disciples did, without the benefit of rituals and a church. To deepen our spirituality and relationship with an ever-present God.

This requires some effort. Or at the least some thought, time and attention. But as Jesus said, though the yoke we share with him and each other may seem heavy, His burden is light. It doesn’t not weigh us down, but uplifts us to new discoveries.

In our Catholic tradition, there is an abundance of resources to help us grow spiritually and in knowledge of our faith. A good place to begin is with the letters and apostolic exhortations of Pope Francis, particularly his loving and compassionate explanation of what it means to be Catholic in “The Joy of the Gospel.”

Add to that, some of his other writings: “The Name of God is Mercy,” “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) on the family, “Gaudete et Exaultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), “Laudato Si” (“Blessed be”) on the environment and the Earth, and most recently, “Querida Amazonia” (“Beloved Amazon”) on life and the Church in the Amazon region.

America media/magazine is an excellent source of Jesuit writing on contemporary issues, Catholicism, and living as a Catholic, the U.S. Catholic website, and the National Catholic Reporter. Or search for your own resources and discover authors such as Franciscan Father Richard Rohr, Father Henry Nouwan, Jesuit Fathers James Martin or William Barry. You might like to follow each day’s mass, with prayers and reflections, in Magnificat or Give Us This Day magazines, in addition to livestream Masses.

Through these resources and in our daily lives we discover, relatively easily, that if we are open to God in all places, our view of the world, not just religion, changes. God is alive.

So, then, the world is our Church and each day is our prayer, if we only allow ourselves to be aware of what’s around us. Isn’t that what Jesus did and taught? Isn’t that where Jesus had his Church – in the streets and villages and the people he encountered each day?

This is where we live what Pope Francis calls, “The Joy of the Gospel.” Individually and collectively, Jesus calls us by name as he did with His first apostles, and sends us to reveal His love for all people – with preferential love for the poor and outcasts, celebrating God’s great diversity, defending the oppressed and speaking against hatred, racism and bigotry. Loving Christ is our shared vocation.

We long for the time we can gather again in the comfort and beauty of our church – our sanctuary and temporary retreat from our worldly trials and burdens. It is a special and blessed place like no other. But until then, let us recognize and appreciate God’s presence in all the places around us, in the beauty of nature and in the grittiness of our backstreets and alleys. Because each of these places is a part of our “Domestic Church.”

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection for July 12 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

How Deep is our Faith?

Times arise in our lives when we have to confront our faith. Times when we must examine what we believe and how strongly we believe it. Times when we are challenged by events and circumstances and struggle to hold onto this abstract thing that is faith.

They are times, as Jesus puts it in this weekend’s Gospel from Matthew (13:1-23), that test how deep our roots extend and how firmly they are planted – with a healthy dose of real time applicability.

In good times, when we have a sense of peace and joy, it’s easy to find the goodness of God. We see and feel his presence in nature and the world around us; in the faces of others – our families, friends and even strangers. Our spirit is satiated with the wonders and gifts in our lives. Our faith, our belief, in God and in Jesus Christ is certain and unchallenged. It is a good place to be.

At other times, our faith isn’t so certain. Sometimes it smacks into reality and gets shaken. Things go awry. Our best plans and hopes are dashed or delayed. There is sadness and     disappointment. Perhaps we lost a job or didn’t get one we wanted. Something called “Corona virus” and “Covid19” has disrupted our schedules, ruined our vacation plans, thrown our children’s’ school schedules into disarray, kept us away from the people and places we like to visit. Or maybe someone we know, someone we love, has become sick or even died. At these times, we need roots deeper than the sand to hold up our faith.

Maybe in these times we struggle to find God in the midst of chaos and sadness. We have to pause; to ask ourselves, what do I believe? This, by the way, isn’t a bad question and perhaps one we don’t ask enough. We may come to realize that our faith in Christ is the one thing that is more real than anything.

Then still other times, we may be inclined to set aside our Catholic faith and our trust in God for some reason or situation. Not forever – but for a time. Maybe we set it on a parallel track with our worldly lives – traveling together, but not intersecting. Perhaps the Gospel of love for one another, our obligation to help the poor and suffering, the rejected and persecuted, the outcasts and marginalized gets clouded by self-interest.

Our Catholic beliefs may collide with our personal goals, our world views or our politics. What if our Catholic social teaching doesn’t mesh with what we want, how we think things should be, how we think others should be? Do we rationalize or justify hateful conduct and speech? Overlook prejudice and divisiveness because we get something else that benefits us or supports our views?

Can our faith stand when the things we profess are unpopular, or through the barrage of criticism and labeling and vilifying?

These are the tough and timely questions – the thorns of what Jesus calls “worldly anxieties” that can grow and choke our faith. But Jesus, as he always does, points out the risks and leaves us with a sense of hope and assurance that he will sustain us.

“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 12:23)

Jesus is that rich soil.

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for July 5 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Free From our Burdens

As the first disciples and apostles were building what would become the Catholic Church they began to write down certain things – how they would worship, where they would worship, how to share the Eucharist, who could come, what prayers they would say.

Over the centuries to come, more and more things were written down. The Church was becoming more unified, but also more codified. Eventually we would develop hierarchies, doctrines, rites, canon law, a catechism and more.

All of these were good and necessary as we strived to understand our relationship with Christ and God, with each other and with the world, and what it means to be a Catholic Christian.

Yet, as necessary and inspired as the may be, we must be ever-vigilant that we do not become buried and numbed by the very magnitude of our documents. At the moment they become our reason for being an institutional Church, they also may become a burden to us being a communal Church.

And so, in this weekend’s gospel from Matthew (11:25-30), Jesus takes special care to urge his disciples not to become bogged down by the weight of their religious law, but to live it with love and gladness.

Jesus invites them – as he invites us – to detach from mere ritual obedience that can make us weary and extinguish our sense of joy in our religion and our relationships. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,” he says, “and I will give you rest.”

In Jesus, we have a place to put our fears, anxieties, worries and problems. In exchange, he offers us Himself and calls us to live and travel with Him, to free us. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden light,” He says.

Our Jesuit Pope Francis calls this “The Joy of the Gospel,” in his Apostolic Exhortation. Our doctrines, dogma, rites and sacraments are intended to lift our hearts and our minds and souls to God. They are meant to help us to love one another, to invite others to Christ. We need to be careful that they not become barriers and hurdles to be climbed and conquered so as to join some exclusive society. Pope Francis, as Christ did, reminds us that when we exclude others, we exclude God. When we judge others, we invite judgment upon ourselves.

Francis stresses that Christ triumphed and speaks to us in his humility, meekness and peace – not by domination and intimidation. “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” Jesus says. In this gospel, Jesus says that’s where God finds us:

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.”

Surrendering to God in that way rids us of our burdens and frees us to live and share the joy of the good news of Jesus Christ.

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for June 28 – 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Cost of Discipleship

The first disciples of Jesus learned early and often that following Him could become a little complicated and confusing.

The things He said and the things He did challenged them: challenged their hearts and their understanding; what matters most, and who matters most. He challenged their minds as they tried to discern who is this messiah, what is he doing, what are these things he is teaching us: love your enemies, blessed are the poor and the meek, the childlike will enter the kingdom of God, the last shall be first …

Now, 2,000 years later, as current day disciples, following Jesus still can be complicated. We love Him in our hearts, accept Him in our lives, have communion with Him through his body and blood. Yet, we don’t have to venture far from church and mass to discover much of our world doesn’t look a lot like Jesus. Kindness, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance can be in short supply.

Jesus, of course, understands, just as he did when he lived and taught with his first disciples. These are difficult things He asks, but not without the promise that He is with us and of greater things than we can imagine.

In this weekend’s gospel reading from Matthew (10:37-42), Jesus reveals the cost of discipleship and the rewards, which we learn are neither material nor transactional. They are not for sale, but offered freely to those who will accept the terms – those who will take up His cross, as He says.

In part, Jesus is asking us to set our priorities, to put our hearts, minds and lives in proper order. Can we surrender to Jesus and, in doing so, uncomplicate what it means to be a disciple?

It is not a rejection of our families when Jesus says: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Indeed, honoring our mothers and fathers is fifth among the 10 Commandments.

Jesus is calling us to remember the First Commandment – to love God above all things, and from that all else in our lives flows. Beginning there, we are better poised and situated to live as children of God, loving and forgiving one another. Losing our lives for His sake, as Jesus asks, is not death. Rather it is dying to ourselves and our selfishness so as to love other people and to be one with Christ, as in baptism when we are anointed priests and prophets of the Gospel.

“Whoever receives me receives the one who sent me,” Jesus says. So we are called to that intimate relationship and mission with Christ our Savior and God our Father. Nothing can separate us, nothing can harm us.

Jesus reminds us that the way to the Lord is through kindness and compassion for each other – not how strictly we adhere to directives and ceremonies, but as pure and uncomplicated as this:

“And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple — amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

The challenge to us in our complicated days and lives is: Can we remember to do that?

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for June 21 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

St Joseph-An Example For Us All

St. Joseph is often seen as the quiet man, in scripture and in words, working mostly behind the scenes. But the little that we do hear from and about Joseph in the gospels reveals in many ways the nature and the call of fatherhood.

Joseph is a man of deep humility who puts aside his own interests and reputation to care for two vulnerable people – as the devoted husband and partner of Mary, and as provider, teacher and step-father of Jesus. He mysteriously disappears from scripture, but not before leaving us a clear understanding of what it means to be a father.

And so on this Father’s Day that is set aside to acknowledge and honor fatherhood, we pause to reflect upon what sort of call this might be – for biological fathers, step-fathers, men who fill the role of fathers, and for our priests who serve as fathers to entire communities of faith.

In Joseph’s time, and for many centuries to follow, a father was a stoic, steady, unemotional provider and protector. To be fair, for many centuries in more austere times and societies, that may have been necessary.

But through Joseph, and in Jesus’ relationship with His Father, God, we understand that a father always has been, and is, more than that. Joseph is a father and a husband of great compassion, kindness and patience.

Joseph is receptive and cooperates when the angel in a dream tells him to take the pregnant Mary into his home and to care for, regardless of the inevitable scandal. He teaches Jesus life and work skills, Jewish religion and customs. He is forgiving when the young Jesus stays behind in the temple and is missing for three days, causing great stress and worry for his parents – choosing to embrace him and to teach him rather than to punish him.

In Matthew’s gospel (10:26-30) this weekend, Jesus teaches his disciples about the care and attentiveness of God the Father for even the least of all:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

This is a model of fatherhood.

Jesus, of course, was in continual prayer and conversation with his Father. He prayed for his own solace, affirmation or direction, but most often on behalf of us. And he speaks of the things he has learned from his heavenly father, things he passes on to his disciples. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” (John 15:9).

These are the qualities of a father – to love, to care, to provide for others. This is the model of fatherhood evident in St. Joseph and in what Jesus, in this weekend’s gospel reading, asks us to proclaim with our own words and lives as disciples:

“What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Matthew 10:27)

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection for June 14 – Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

Corpus Christi

The liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass reaches its climax with the Holy Eucharist, when as a community we share the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, our savior who offered his life to save ours. It is not only a powerful moment, it is the essence of the Mass and our faith – the source of our very Church, which itself is the body of Christ.

We know this. It is what we do day after day, week after week. So why, we might ask, does the Church dedicate one Sunday a year to the Body and Blood of Christ – the feast of Corpus Christi that we celebrate this weekend?

The feast was originated in France in the 13th Century by Pope Urban IV to emphasize our belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and in the Church. It was to dedicate time to pause and to reflect on presence of Christ that through repetition might lose its impact, might become mundane, might become another routine.

This feast calls our attention to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, when in prayer we recall the Last Supper, the moment at which Jesus shares with His disciples His greatest gift – His body, blood, soul and divinity. In that bread and wine, we become one with Christ: We become what we eat.

“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said at that final meal, calling his disciples into eternal life and relation with Him. (Corinthians 11:25)

With Christ in the Eucharist, we receive forgiveness, love, hope and companionship. We are changed. “No longer I, but Christ lives in me,” St. Paul says. (Galatians 2:20).

As such, we are living tabernacles, taking Christ with us into the world as we are sent forth from the Mass. With awe and humility, we become His modern day apostles. And He reminds us we do not go alone.

“Being simple and essential, bread broken and shared, the Eucharist we receive allows us to see things as God does,” Pope Francis said in his Corpus Christi homily last year. “It inspires us to give ourselves to others.”

Francis said it shakes us from our lethargy, our apathy, calling it “the antidote to the mindset that says: ‘Sorry, that is not my problem,’ or ‘I have no time, I can’t help you, it’s none of my business.’”

So, this is what Christ calls us to do, calls us to be. For some, it was too much and they walked away. But for those who stayed, for us, it is a life-changing and life-giving experience. Fed by our Lord and our God, we become one with Him and one with each other. We come to a greater understanding of what life means and of our purpose.

And with it, in this most Holy Communion, we enter into this eternal promise from Christ, who tells us in John’s gospel this weekend:

“This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 57-58)

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for June 7 – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Encountering the Mystery of God

Next to someone actually rising from the dead, the Holy Trinity of one God in three persons, which we celebrate this weekend, may well be the most difficult Christian belief to explain.

We believe the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, even though the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is not the Father. One might easily become tied up in intellectual knots trying to reconcile this great mystery; and some of the most brilliant theologians in history have attempted to do so.

Others, St. Augustine among them, finally chose to let it go and to take it on faith. In a popular story, the great Bishop of Hippo and doctor the Church, comes upon a boy at the beach with a seashell trying to put all the water of the ocean into a small hole. When Augustine points out that it is impossible for the hole to contain the entire ocean, the boy replies: “It is no more impossible than what you are trying to do – comprehend the immensity of the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your small intellect.”

What Augustine is telling us is that to have to explain the Trinity is to miss the point. The Trinity, God, is not an intellectual pursuit, as interesting as that may be. By definition, God is beyond our comprehension. Rather, God is more easily understood as an experience that we live – deeply personal and yet beautifully communal.

We encounter God in our surrender to Him and to the great mystery we confess can’t be explained. That does not make Him any less real, but more profoundly real, dwelling in our hearts, our souls and our very being. God is something we can’t touch but can feel. Beyond our understanding, but not beyond our grasp.

And so in the Holy Trinity we experience the fullness of God in that most intimate relationship that Jesus expresses in Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel, which we read during the final week of the Easter Season. These so-called priestly prayers, which come as Jesus appears to his disciples cloistered in the upper room, express the depth of the love and relationship among Jesus, the Father and the disciples – in itself a Trinitarian relationship.

“I pray for them,” Jesus says. “I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” (17:9-10)

Religions up to this time had not imagined such an entanglement between God and his people.  This is not an angry, wrathful God who demands sacrifices and continual appeasement.  Rather, Jesus in his prayer calls us into the Trinity and to be one with Him.

“Father, they are your gift to me,” he says in the closing verses of John 17. “I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous  Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” (17:24-26)

 – Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection for May 31 – Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost

The first disciples of Jesus locked themselves in a secret room, gripped by fear, after the one they believed was the Messiah had been crucified and buried. He was gone. They did not know what had become of Jesus, never mind what would become of them.

It was in that room, we read this week in the Gospel of John (20:19-23), that Jesus found them huddled on the evening of the first day of the week, and calmed them with this greeting: “Peace be with you.”

Then he did one more thing. Jesus breathed on them, just as God breathed life into the world and into Adam, saying to them: “Receive the holy Spirit.” In doing so, He signaled to them what would be the beginning of a new Church.

Jesus gave them the hope and courage they would need when, by the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, He delivered that new Church on Pentecost.

We celebrate the great solemnity of Pentecost this weekend as, appropriately enough, we return to public celebrations of the Mass and what will be a somewhat different Church than we have come to know, in a parish consecrated to the Holy Spirit – Espiritu Santo.

So we will gather with the same faith, joy and openness with which those first disciples and converts embraced their call to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, with the power and the grace of the Holy Spirit. In Pentecost we receive the fullness of the Holy Trinity – one God in three persons: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus invites us into this intimate relationship, but at the same time reminds us it is bigger than each of us individually.  At the coming of the Spirit, in the Acts of Apostles we read on this day (2:1-11), “they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded…”

They were astounded because they discover this Spirit, this Jesus, this God is for everyone. This is not an   exclusive God for the privileged few and the elite, or many Gods of the pagans, or Roman worship of Caesar. But it is a universal God and Church – what we call Catholic; a healing Church that welcomes the poor, the sinners, the humble, the outcasts and all who come.

And it brings with it our mission and our purpose, with the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” Jesus tells his apostles in John’s Gospel, and breathing upon them gives them new life and purpose.

So, as with those Apostles, Jesus likewise sends us into our worlds – to defend and care for the poor and the sick, to expose and correct injustice and prejudice, whether it is by race, sex, nationality, economic or immigration status, religion and anywhere we find it.  It’s not always easy work, or popular, and we never actually finish.

But we don’t go alone. We remember Jesus told us that through Holy Spirit he will be with us always as together we glorify Him with our lives build what we have come to call one holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

 – Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection – Love Letters from an Apostle

Love Letters from an Apostle

As St. Paul the Apostle traveled along the Mediterranean Sea establishing the earliest church communities, he never left them far behind. Largely disorganized and uncertain, these so-called followers of “The Way” struggled to build a new religion and to understand this Jesus Christ who rose from the dead, which is impossible, and is the Son of God, which is confusing.

Forced to meet in secret house churches, they lived in fear of persecution and death. They settled in cities and regions such as Corinth, Colossae, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Galatia, Philippi and Rome.  They were separated and isolated – a condition we have come to know ourselves, even if to a lesser degree.

To get a sense of those early communities and how St. Paul sustained them, there is very little scripture more beautiful and intimate than the openings of St. Paul’s letters, which we read in this Liturgical season, and those of St. James and St. Peter, as well.

The greetings, thanksgivings and blessings from St. Paul, a self-described “slave of Christ,” are heartfelt reminders to them – and now to us – of who we are and, importantly, why we are.

These are by-and-large St. Paul’s love letters to encourage, affirm and exhort early Christians, and to comfort them. Sometimes with admonishment, always with compassion, they are reminders of God’s love for them and of how Jesus, now the Risen Christ, defines them and sustains them. The odds against that Church surviving were daunting, but St. Paul refused to let go, refused to give up.

Those letters serve the same purpose today, as we confront questions and the challenges of finding God amid the chaos.  In only a few opening verses, St. Paul manages to bring us back to a proper sense of self and relationship; to  the foundation of our faith, our God and our life, in simple, powerful prose. If you haven’t opened these letters in some time – or even if you have – you may want to return to them. Rather than feeling isolated in uncertainty, we may discover a deeper sense of solidarity with the reality of those first Christians, and find comfort in the encouragement St. Paul gives to them. This is the faith we share.

We see with St. Paul’s encouragement, and St. Peter and St. James, too, comes a call to ministry – to accept Christ and to do something about it.  “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead,” St. James writes (2:26). Feed the hungry, care for the “orphans and widows” – the most needy and vulnerable who can neither pay nor repay for the mercy extended to them.

This is what it means to be Christian, to love one another. It is what gave the early followers, and gives us, hope and courage in the midst of the unknown that we pass on to each other. It is a most appropriate message in this time, just as St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1:3-5):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.”

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

Reflection – Prayer for These Times

Prayer for These Times

The Catholic Church is blessed with a rich abundance of prayers, perhaps the benefit of 2,000 years of worshipping and deepening our relationship with God and through Jesus Christ.

We have somber devotionals, such as the Rosary, chaplets, novenas, and communal prayers – the Confiteor, the Gloria, Eucharistic prayers, exposition and benedictions are a few.

Bishops, priests and deacons pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily for the Church and the world; Catholics everywhere pray daily intentions for loved ones, friends and others close to them and around the world. Of course, we all share the Lord’s Prayer itself, both private and together.

We might say short prayers before meals; longer prayers before bed or to begin the day; prayers to saints and prayers by saints. Finally, there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself and the Eucharist – our highest form of prayer.

The point is, as we tell adults in our faith formation who want to become Catholic, these prayers come together to help us form a life of prayer. As we pray more – whether 20 minutes in our homes or 20 seconds at a stop light – our entire day itself becomes a prayer, a continual dialogue with God.

Variety helps to keep prayer life fresh. And in unprecedented times like these, sometimes we look to special prayers for the moment. Just as there are different personalities, there also are different ways of praying.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, has written a litany of five intercessions to be prayed during the day to address the COVID19 pandemic.  Cardinal Cupich, appointed by Pope Francis, is a leading modern voice in the Catholic Church on justice, the environment and contemporary life issues. He offers this litany, published in the recent Catholic    Extension magazine, for all of us to pray in solidarity with those most directly impacted by this virus that continues to claims lives in the United States and the world.

9 a.m. –  Prayer for those infected with the virus and all who are ill

Lord, place your healing hand on those who suffer illness. Bring them to full health and ease their anxious hearts. May our prayer and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary encourage them that they are not alone. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Noon  – Prayer for health care workers and those attending to the sick

Lord, we are ennobled by those who put their lives at risk in caring for the sick. Keep them safe and embolden them when they are weary. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

3 p.m.  – Prayer for first responders and essential workers

Lord, we pray for those who run to danger to keep us safe and those who serve the common good. Embrace them with your mantle of protection and comfort the fears of their families.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

6 p.m. – Prayer for people of every nation and their leaders

Lord, the pandemic opens our eyes to see each other as brothers and sisters in one human family. We pray for people of every nation and their leaders, asking that they be inspired to seek the good of all and quell the voices of division. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

9 p.m. – Prayer for those who have died today

Lord, we grieve the passing of our sisters and brothers who have died this day. We commend them to your tender mercy, confident that nothing, not even death, will separate us from your love. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

–  Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection – A Time to Explore ( Book Clubs)

A Time to Explore ( Book Clubs)

No matter how many movie channels, cable channels, news channels, cooking channels, home improvement channels, live streaming, sitcom and drama marathons are available on television, it still seems like there is nothing on.  And you realize you are watching someone make an omelet or paint a house and you wonder, “Why am I watching this?”

We are in unusual times, filled with more isolation time than we know what do with.  So when the television becomes a video desert, it’s the perfect invitation to turn it off and find a book.

A lot of us have books we’ve never found time to read or that someone has recommended. But it is also a great time to find something that can enrich and deepen your Catholic faith and understanding. A good place to start is with an online Catholic book club, two of which are mentioned below.

America media/magazine and the U.S. Catholic websites each provide excellent book clubs that explore a variety of titles, from contemporary to historic, with guided reading, commentary and responses.

Father Kevin Spinale, S.J., a Jesuit priest and doctoral candidate in English Education at Columbia University, is the moderator of America magazine’s book club. Led by Father Spinale, the group recently read and discussed “The Magdalene in the Reformation” by Margaret Arnold, which analyzes Catholic and Protestant conceptions of her close relationship with Jesus and her mixed and complicated reputations.

A little more off-beat, the group currently is reading “A Confederacy of Dunces,” the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by John Kennedy Toole. Join them as they reexamine this literary classic in the context of our time and its comical main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, whom Loyola University New Orleans author and Professor Walker Percy described as “a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one.”

The club chooses four titles a year, and provides discussion groups, questions, conversation prompts and supporting materials. You can find America’s Catholic Book Club at americamagazine.org/cbc

At the same time, you can subscribe to an online or printed version of America magazine, the Jesuit’s leading publication on the Catholic Church, with timely articles, commentaries and reflections on faith and life in the world today.

Also, U.S. Catholic magazine, published by the Claretian Missionaries in Chicago, has a monthly book club that highlights and reviews a selected title, as well as offering several other books to consider. Each one includes the book club guidelines and discussion questions.

The May title is, “Conscious Contact with God: The Psalms for Addiction and Recovery,” by Father Kenneth W. Schmidt, who is a licensed counselor. Schmidt calls the Book of Psalms an ideal “school for prayer” for recovery, with writings from despair to gratitude.

Other titles include, “Enough as You Are: Overcoming Self-Doubt and Appreciating the Gift of You,” by Peggy Weber, and “Virgin, Mother, Queen: Encountering Mary in Time and Tradition,” by Robert L. Fastiggi and Michael O’Neill.

Like the Jesuit site, the U.S. Catholic site, includes articles, commentaries and reflections on the Church, faith, politics and news. The book club site is at uscatholic.org/bookclub

Those are only two places. You are encouraged to find other Catholic sources and publications on your own, many available online.

And not to be forgotten on your reading list are Pope Francis’ publications that so beautifully explain and apply our Catholic faith to our lives and the world, beginning with his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of The Gospel”)

Others include: “The Name of God is Mercy,”  “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) on the family, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), “Laudato Si” (“Blessed be”) on the environment and the Earth, and most recently, “Querida Amazonia” (“Beloved Amazon”) on life and the Church in the Amazon region.

Separately and collectively, these writings by our Jesuit Pope Francis encourage us and remind us what it means to live and to serve as a Catholic in the current time, finding God in all things. Even in a pandemic.

– Deacon Steven, the clergy, staff and your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School

 

Reflection – Resurrection of Hope

Resurrection of Hope

On Easter Sunday, when Jesus rises from death to life, here is what changed: Everything.

The meanings of life and death. Our relationships with each other and with God. The purpose of our lives and our expectations. Our understanding of God himself, of possibilities, of hope.

What we discover that day, and continue to rediscover, in the Resurrection of Jesus is that God is not dead, but very much alive. The empty tomb is not about death, but about life. In fact, it is not empty at all, but filled with the promise and hope of life more abundant that we ever could have imagined.

God has not abandoned us, but embraces us and calls to us. As Jesus said to the women at the tomb: “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10) That invitation is made to each of us.

So, even in times such as these as we enter the seven-week Easter season – perhaps especially in times such as these – when we are threatened and separated by a pandemic virus we don’t understand, we continue to rise above our sorrows and frustrations.

Our Jesuit Pope Francis in Holy Week encouraged us “to respond to our confinement with all our creativity.” He spoke of “the contagion of hope.” In our Easter solitude and hardships, he said, God reminds us, “I have risen and I am with you still.”

We live in what Jesuits call the “eternal now.” Through the risen Christ, God reveals to us eternal life that is renewed every day and, indeed, every moment. Christ was, is and is to come.

As Catholic Christians we are Resurrection people. We are Easter people. Every morning, we rise with Christ, physically and spiritually, with new hope and joy.

Our ongoing resurrections give us hope to encounter the issues of the day, to see past them even as we struggle through them. In the moments when we have felt God’s presence deeply in own lives, and through Christ’s Resurrection, we know that all things are possible for God. And so we have faith in our times of fear and sorrow to surrender control and to let God direct us – with our participation.

The suffering and crucifixion of Christ, the cross itself and the  empty tomb transform death and nothingness into life and hope. So in this holy Easter season of joy, let us be encouraged not only by resurrection and hope, but by the resurrection of hope itself.

 – Deacon Steven, the clergy and all your friends at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church and School