Friday, March 23, 2018

Palm Sunday

"Don't miss the best part!"  That is the advice of Father Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  The liturgical services on Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday) are among the very best things we do in the church.

When we celebrate Palm/Passion Sunday in a few days' time, we enter into our holiest week.  We enter into our final preparation for the Easter feast.  Our Elect and Candidates enter into the final preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation.

As we gather on this Sunday, we hear Mark's account of Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem as well as Mark's account of the Passion of our Lord.  From triumphantly singing, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" to calling out "Crucify him!", the contrast is striking.  But perhaps that is the our story as well.  One moment we are filled with deep faith and strong resolution to follow Jesus; but when we are thrown into suffering beyond our control, we scream and yell at God and sometimes even turn away from God.

Why do we turn away from God in times of suffering or need?  Perhaps it's because one of the hardest things to do in life is accepting our limitations. We want to think that we are strong enough, smart enough, holy enough, and friendly enough to do anything and everything. But we can't. It is only in accepting our failures that we let Christ be strong in us.  Check out Casey Cole's reflection on why we are called to fail:

Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 LA Religious Education Congress

Workshop 2-01: Fr. R. Tony Ricard: "Have You Seen Him? Searching for the Child Jesus"

Workshop 3-01: Mark Hart: "Thinking Bigger: The Truth About Modern Evangelization" 


Workshop 6-01: Cardinal Luis Tagle: "Ways of New Evangelization in Asia" 


Workshop 7-01: John Allen Jr.: "Persecution of Christians in the World Today"

Workshop 8-01: Fr. James Martin: "The Historical Jesus" 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Third Scrutiny - Raising Lazarus

As our Elect prepare for the third and final Scrutiny, they will be reflecting on the story of raising Lazarus.

As believers, we are called to continue to pray for the Elect and the Candidates, as well as join them on their journey and closely examine our own lives.  Who are we as people of faith? And who do we want to become?   Sharing a personal meditation among friends—and learning from one another—can give us a new appreciation for our faith.

The following is the story of Larry Larsen, who "died" of a heart attack, but was brought back to life.  As you watch his story, see what rises up within you.  

In this story, as with Lazarus, God's action deepened the faith of the witnesses with the signs of life restored.  Do you have a 'deepened faith' story that you could tell to your family and friends to deepen their faith and trust in God?  If so, remember to tell it often, witnessing to the wonder and goodness of trusting God.

Larry Larsen said he did not remember being dead.  Often we do not realize when we are spiritually "dead".  We, too, rely on someone to bring us out of the tomb and start afresh.  Do you have someone like that in your life?  Perhaps a spouse, a close friend, a companion in faith, a spiritual director?  And have you ever helped someone to come out of his/her spiritual tomb?

Rising Up to the Adult Challenge within the Gospel - Ron Rolheiser

The Religious Education Congress, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Religious Education, is the largest annual gathering of Roman Catholics in Anaheim.  Over the three days, Congress offers over 300 workshops presented by 200 speakers.  Topics range from personal growth to music to spiritual topics – in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

This is the recording of the workshop given by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI at this year's Congress.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Five years of Pope Francis

On the five-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to the papacy, Church leaders discuss the impact his ministry has had on the universal church.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Second Scrutiny - Man Born Blind

This Sunday, our Elect will celebrate the second Scrutiny where the story of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41) will be proclaimed.  We, too, are called to continue to examine areas of our lives to see where we lack clarity.  Sometimes it can be hard to stay faithful when it seems like God isn’t there, when, like the man born blind, it feels like we have to face our crisis and trials alone.

In the following story, meet a modern day man born blind.  Patrick Henry Hughes was born without eyes and unable to fully straighten his arms and legs, making him unable to walk.  But he has overcome his obstacles with the loving presence of his father.  Not only is he musically talented, he played trumpet in the marching band while he attended the University of Louisville. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges together, decided "Why not?"

In 1999, the elder Patrick quit his job as a systems analyst and started working the graveyard shift at UPS so that he could spend his daytime hours at his son's side.  When Patrick was studying at the University of Louisville, his father sat in with him for classes and attended every band practice and game.  He learned all the routines and focused on being Patrick's eyes and legs.

Today, Patrick, who graduated from college magna cum laude in 2010, is a world-renowned musician and public speaker. He has also released two albums and authored a successful book, "I Am Potential: Eight Lessons On Living, Loving And Reaching Your Dreams".

After watching Patrick's story, spend some time and reflect on your own life.  Was there a time when you were struggling and could not see a way out? 

The man in John's Gospel was very fortunate and blessed to have been made new again through Jesus’ personal intervention.  When you think about the challenges that you've had, can you see and feel God's loving hand leading the way and making you whole again?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Celebration of Mary, Mother of Church

By Devin Watkins
Source:  Vatican News

Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.

The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

In a decree released on Saturday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.

He said the Holy Father wishes to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety”.

For the full article and the official English-language text of the Decree, click HERE

Saturday, March 3, 2018

What can we learn from the woman at the well?

Our Elect (those in the final period of preparing for Sacraments of Initiation) will be celebrating the 3 scrutinies on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent.  The scrutinies are special rites celebrated at the liturgies where the Elect are present.  The scrutinies are meant to uncover, and then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, and then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good.

These are ancient rites and they may, at first, seem strange to us.  But they are rooted in our human experience.  We need to examine (scrutinize) how we are, the areas of our lives where we are tempted, or seriously sin - in what we do and what we fail to do.  It is wonderful to reflect upon the journey these Elect are making during Lent, as an inspiration and source of renewal for us in our own journey.

The celebration is done in such a way that we, the faithful, in the assembly, will also derive benefit from the liturgy of the scrutinies and join in the intercessions for the elect.

As the Elect reflect on the reading for the First Scrutiny (John 4:5-42), we are also invited to go deeper with this passage.  Below you will find a modern day version of Woman at the Well.  See what springs up inside of you as you watch this monologue.

Questions to ponder:

  • Who are the Samaritan women, those needing to receive 'living water' through the awareness and presence of God in us,  in our midst?  
  • Do we approach them like Jesus, and get to know and accept them?
  • How do we need to ask God for 'living water' within our own lives?