A few days ago I discovered that our first child was born on the Feast of the Holy Family. He was born 41 years ago, long before we knew such a celebration existed. This year I am especially excited about today's celebration of the Holy Family because our Bishop is introducing an Apostolic Letter to the families of our diocese.
The priest who received us into the Church told his parishioners each year, "it's the HOLY family, not the PERFECT family." This truth has stuck with me because there is no such thing as a perfect family and it makes us crazy if we try to create the illusion that we have achieved perfection.READ MORE
Fearful things can sometimes happen in family life. The local evening news often has stories about the struggles a family may be facing. Maybe it's a fire that drove a family from its home. Or it may be an illness that strikes a child and severely affects the entire family. Or the news story may be about an accident that incapacitates the wage-earner in the household. These kinds of problems seem even more tragic at this time of year, when families gather together and often feel a certain security and warmth in being united.READ MORE
Next Tuesday is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; it is a holy day of obligation. What is sad is that it is probably the least attended holy day of the year. Oh, I know, Monday night is New Year's Eve and there is a lot of partying, but Mary is our blessed Mother. She is also our patroness under her title of our Lady of Perpetual Help. How can we ignore her?
We will celebrate a vigil mass Monday evening at 5:30pm in English; what better way to welcome the New Year than with Mass. We will also have an English Mass at 10:00am on Tuesday and a Spanish Mass at 12:30pm. You can sleep in on Tuesday morning and still come to Mass!READ MORE
First of all, I wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you. This is such a wonderful time of year, full of family and friends. For some of us who have lost loved ones, it is also a difficult time. Please remember to pray for those who are missing loved ones or who are especially lonely at this time. God became one with us to remind us that we are all one family together.READ MORE
Here we are, mere days from Christmas, and we hear a Gospel anticipating the birth of another child. Mary has received word that her cousin Elizabeth is with child. Pregnant as she is, Mary "set out and traveled to the hill country in haste." She has recently received the greatest news of her life - that she is to be mother to the Messiah by the power of the Holy Spirit - but her concern is for her cousin in need. Through God's grace, Elizabeth turns it into an opportunity to honor the coming Christ. "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Yet Mary's example of selflessness should inspire us.READ MORE
We are now oh so close to Christmas and the excitement is growing. If you have small children in your family, they show you the loving expectation with which we are meant to await our Christmas celebration.
The eager expectation with which children await gifts is the same "I can hardly wait" longing that should be growing in our hearts as we look forward to Christ's second coming. Do we hope for the salvation of the whole world, believing Jesus will come again? Or do we think our desires will never be satisfied? Elizabeth met Mary's visit with great faith and humility. Are we ready now, after four weeks of Advent, to welcome Jesus and Mary afresh into our lives with joy this Christmas? Elizabeth gives us the words we need: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"READ MORE
We have just celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of all the Americas and patroness of our diocese. This is such an important celebration for many reasons. It might be important for all of us to reflect on the message our Blessed Mother brought to all of the Americas.
Advent season is a time to prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord when He comes again. Our Blessed Mother came to prepare the Americas to embrace our Lord through the Catholic Church in this new land. If we truly honor Our Lady of Guadalupe we must work with her and call our brothers and sisters back to Christ and away from hatred and division.READ MORE
In Christianity, we hear often about the "Good News." We might often associate it with Jesus' compassion to the poor, his healings and miracles, and the salvation he won for us. In today's Gospel, we read of John the Baptist. "Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people." Yet as we examine the rest of the reading, we see examples of John's preaching. If you have two cloaks, give one away. Don't cheat others out of their money, extort, or lie. And, of course, the warning that the Messiah is on the move and "his winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Merry Christmas?READ MORE
As Christmas approaches, let's take a moment to reflect on the life of joy that is promised to us. It's not just for heaven. We are meant to live this joy here and now! "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!" How is it possible at all times and everywhere to be full of joy? Paul lays out the steps for living in joy:
Isaiah uses poetry to describe preparations for the coming of Christ. He helps us to imagine making straight paths, filling in valleys and leveling mountains. The imagery comes from actual road work done in ancient times to prepare for the arrival of a king traveling to visit a neighboring city. He needed straight, level roads. He would not be able to go to the city if the roads were in poor condition.
Isaiah paints a picture of how we are to prepare our hearts for the coming of God. The "valleys" of failing to love as Christ teaches and the "mountains" of unforgiveness and other sins need to be made level by repentance. He wants to come to the city of our hearts. "Winding roads" that take him on detours must be "made straight." "Rough ways" full of obstacles need to be "made smooth."READ MORE
I am sure some of you have seen men on the church roof, which means we are finally getting our roof fixed. This is because of your generosity to our diocesan campaign, Together Let Us Go Forth-Juntos Sigamos Adelante. We have already received our first check for our 35% of what you have given to the campaign. Thank you to all who have contributed.
I receive a report every month and I noticed some people who have pledged to the campaign have not yet begun to send their pledges to the diocese. If you are having a problem, please call the diocese or our office for help.READ MORE
Now we begin the Holy Season of Advent; a time of preparation to celebrate the great gift of the Incarnation: God becoming one with us to show us the way to Him. Advent is a very busy time for all of us, not just because of preparing for Christmas, but also because of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This year there will be some changes in our Guadalupe celebrations. First, we cannot have a procession the last night of the novena. The city has been raising the price for a police escort every year; last year we asked for some relief and we were ignored. This year the cost is beyond what we can pay. Instead, our Grupo Guadalupano has scheduled some talks after the rosaries to help us grow in our understanding of the miracle of Tepeyac. Also, this year, I have asked Fr. Fernando Camou to celebrate the mass on the evening of the 12th of December.READ MORE
On this first Sunday of Advent when we begin preparations for celebrating Christmas - the first time Christ came to earth, the Church reminds us that we're also awaiting his soon return.
As a small child I worried about being "left behind" if Jesus came back to earth again. How could I be sure I was ready to be caught up with him in the sky? This question haunted me until years later I was initiated into the Catholic Church. When I heard the words of absolution in Confession, I knew I was in right relationship with Christ and would not be left behind. What a gift!READ MORE
The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. Wow! Does this strike anyone else as an amazing title for a Sunday celebration?
Today we celebrate the truth that the same Lord Jesus Christ we receive in Holy Communion every Sunday is also the KING OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE! Think about this. Let it sink in until your heart is filled with awe and wonder for God! I found the following facts on a website for kids by typing into my browser "What is included in the universe?":READ MORE
"Hail the King of the Jews." The kingship of Christ has always been different than the world expected.
Many of Jesus' disciples hoped for an earthly Messiah who would overthrow the Romans. But, as Jesus says in today's Gospel, his kingdom is "not of this world." And yet it is a very real kingdom. Jesus is a very real Lord. And we are called to invite Jesus to be king of our lives. In the early 20th century, disillusionment with authority of all kinds was growing.READ MORE
Next weekend Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup will be with us. As many of you will remember, Bishop Wall, before he was named a bishop, was a priest from our diocese and was the administrator of our parish for a number of months. In fact, our altar server program is a result of his time with us.
When he was a seminarian, Bishop Wall spent 7 months with me as an intern at St. Gregory parish when I was pastor. He is a good friend and a good shepherd.READ MORE
This month as we remember family members who have died and gather with family members to celebrate Thanksgiving, make a long list of all the things you are grateful for AND be a family who serves others!
Small gestures can mean a lot for families who are struggling to pay rent and buy food. Take joy in giving a family a gift card to the grocery store, making and delivering a hot meal, or paying for electricity for a needy family.READ MORE
In 1 Samuel, God advises the prophet Samuel not to observe as men see but as God sees. He tells him to "look to the heart." This is the movement of this Sunday's Gospel reading. "Beware the scribes," Jesus advises. He points out their public greetings and "seats of honor," which stands in sharp contrast to their private greed. For the Jewish people of Jesus' day, honor resides at the top. Power and prestige created a high profile back then as it still does today. After his warning, Jesus turns his disciples' attention elsewhere: a poor widow. "She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had." While the scribes donated large sums to the temple, they did so "from their surplus wealth." This woman -- in her faith and devotion -- offers "her whole livelihood."READ MORE
It has been my experience that God takes delight in replenishing goods that are running out, especially for when we put our trust in him.
The widow trusted Elijah as a "man of God." She put her faith into action by sharing what little she had with the prophet and God blessed her faith by providing oil and meal for her and her son. The key seems to be complete confidence; a willingness to give everything and trust God with the results. But sometimes God's generosity surprises us. The wine Jesus provided at the wedding at Cana was not a matter of life or death. It wasn't necessary for the survival of the newlyweds. Yet, he provided in great abundance for them.READ MORE
As most of our country prepares to celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving, my prayer is that they remember that thanksgiving is more than food and football. In fact, for us Catholics, every Sunday...every day is a thanksgiving day because the work Eucharist means "thanksgiving". Yes, we give "thanks" to our God every day for the many blessings we receive.READ MORE
"You are not far from the kingdom of God." What does it mean to be close to God's kingdom? In today's Gospel, Jesus is in a dialogue with teachers of the law. They know well the Law of Moses, with its complex codes, expectations, and punishments. What will Jesus say? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength ... You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus effortlessly distills all the books of law into two commands. The simplicity of the Gospel message doesn't mean it's easy to follow. Far from it! The simplicity of the Gospel indicates its totality. Anything that requires the passions of our heart, the choice of our soul, the reason in our mind, or the strength of our body - all of this ought to be animated by love. As you can imagine, that means pretty much everything! The love of God and love of neighbor is meant to flow into our entire lives.READ MORE
What lasting gift can we give the children in our lives? If we must live through poverty, war, famine, natural disaster, immigration trouble, what can we give our children that can help them most? If, God forbid, our children were separated from their families what would they have to help them live? If, on the other hand, they grow and prosper only to be tempted by the false values of this world: chasing pleasure, wealth, power, or fame, what can keep them from destruction? There is only one answer. We must give them the gifts that "remain; Faith, hope, and love." (I Cor. 13:13) These gifts can only be guaranteed to be found in Christ and his Church.READ MORE
Howdy, I know this is such a busy time of year for everyone, but it is also time for me to remind you about Catholic Education Arizona. This scholarship program for our students cost you nothing to donate except time. What you are doing is directing a portion of your state tax liability to CEA to support our students.
I always say this is too good to be true. Rather than the legislators deciding what to do with your taxes, you can have a say by donating to CEA. What is best is that you get back what you donate up to your tax liability. Some people say, "But I don't pay state tax, I get a refund." Your refund is the amount you paid into the state from your pay check, minus your tax liability. You can increase your refund by donating to CEA.READ MORE