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DAILY REFLECTIONS

Daily Reflection 5/27/20
From Deacon Rusty Baldwin

The Spirit of the Lord

 

We hear about the Spirit of the Lord often during the Easter season but just what role the Spirit plays in our lives remains a mystery to many of us.  And to be honest some, to the extent they think about the Spirit of God at all, might even prefer Him to be something like “the Force”; an impersonal power of Star Wars ilk that we can harness and manipulate for good or evil however we choose.

 

But as we all know the third person of the Holy Trinity is God and the only power we have over the Spirit has also been given to us by God as well, that is the power to cooperate with the Spirit or not.  God is a gentleman; he will not force himself on his beloved.  But many are like the people of Israel; when they saw the Spirit of God, they begged God not to appear to them directly, but rather only through Moses, and they asked Moses to wear a veil to cover his face because it shone with the glory of the Spirit of God that was upon him.

 

At confirmation we received the same spirit that Moses, King David and all the prophets received, we received the same Spirit that filled the disciples in the book of Acts and inspired them not to pray that their persecution would end, but rather that the Lord would enable them to continue to speak the word with all boldness in the name of Jesus.  We received the same Spirit that filled the Saints who lived for God as well as the martyrs who died for Him.  Confirmation made us soldiers for Christ and soldiers do not live or die for themselves, but for the one they serve. 

 

We received the same Spirit St. Catherine of Siena did, a Doctor of the Church, who lived in the 14th century and was blessed with the stigmata.  St. Catherine convinced the pope, who had moved to Avignon, France to go back to Rome.  She also carried out many missions entrusted to her by the pope, something quite rare for a woman in the Middle Ages.  It goes without saying that St. Catherine was often misunderstood by her contemporaries and even her family and friends.

 

But when we live for the Lord, truly cooperating with the Spirit, truly seeking God’s will, we should not expect that even our friends or family will fully understand and we should not expect the world to understand at all.  But we need to go where the Spirit leads:  if it is to suffer persecution for the Lord, so be it, if it is to serve God and neighbor unnoticed so be it, if it is to be misunderstood, scorned, and dismissed, so be it.  Our Lord said as much in the Gospel when he said, “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”



Daily Reflection 5/25/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

Happy Memorial Day!

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (John 15:13). 

Today is a National Holiday and many of you have the day off work. Memorial Day often is referred to as the unofficial start to summer.  And since it is the unofficial start of summer many will celebrate by do some normal summer activities. A common activity for many is to enjoy a cookout shared among family and friends.  One of my favorite memories of Memorial Day is going out to the lake for a picnic and at some point during the picnic a storm comes in.   While these cookouts are fun and enjoyable, I think it is also important to remember why and/or what it is that we are celebrating today.  As nation today we remember those men and women who gave up their lives so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have today.  These men and women embraced the above scripture verse of laying down their lives out of love for a friend.  As we remember and pray for these men and women today.  I think it is important for us to also remember the heroes that are among during our current health crisis the doctors, nurses, and all health care workers and providers that have been risking their own health and lives to care for those who are infected with this virus. As we celebrate this holiday today, let pray for all those who have and are risking their lives so that we can celebrate in comfort today so that we can live.

Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.




Daily Reflection 5/23/20
From Lynda Middleton

This week we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension into heaven 40 days after Easter, or as a friend on Facebook described it, “Jesus returning to work at home.”  Many of us in these past few weeks have experienced the ups and downs of working from home.  Zoom meetings and webinars have become common place ways of meeting and doing business even for the church.

 

As you know, working from home has its pluses and minuses.  You can pretty much wear what you want, work when you want and munch your favorite snack while you work.  The negatives of home work may include kids, pets, messy work spaces and multiple interruptions…and did I mention kids?  It’s a struggle some times.

 

But what does it mean for Jesus to ascend and to return to his heavenly home?  Is his job on earth finished for all time?  Has he gone simply to sit at the right hand of the Father to hear our prayers until the last judgment and leave the rest of the work here on earth to his disciples?  Not likely.

 

Jesus promises three things that will happen when he returns to the Father: He will send another to comfort, counsel and advocate for us.  He is going to prepare a place for us so that where he is we will be one day also.  He is with us always, “even until the end of the age.”

 

We know that gravity exists and that it holds us on the earth.  We know that the earth is one of several planets in our solar system within a galaxy among countless galaxies in the universe.  We do not know the exact locale to which Jesus ascends.  We do know his promises and that his promises are faithful and true.  Where God is we will be also.  Until we get there God will send another who will comfort and guide us on the journey.  And, our Lord, who has been with us since the beginning will continue to dwell with us and in us through this life and the next.  God remains with us through pandemics, plagues and the ordinary growing pains of ordinary life.  Jesus has ascended to a new life that we might also have life and have it abundantly in this world and in the world to come.




Daily Reflection5/20/20
From Deacon Rusty Baldwin

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

 

“Truth” gets talked about a lot in our day.  At least, it gets lots of lip service, but I don’t think we actually hear the truth in the same proportion as people claim to be telling it.  In fact, given our culture’s cavalier attitude towards truth and the state of the news media, we can sympathize with someone asking the same question Pilate asked Jesus – namely, what is truth?  The fact is, today many are not interested in truth for its own sake, rather, they want power to enact a political agenda, or they want money to satisfy their greed, or fame to continue to enlarge their already over-inflated ego.  If the actual truth can do that, well that’s a bonus; if not, deception, alterative facts, or other subterfuge or manipulation will serve just as well.

 

Nevertheless, reality, that is to say, the truth is both uncompromising and uncompromised despite all attempts to hide or change it.  Only the truth is the truth which is why I so greatly admire the ancient philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  They not only diligently searched for truth, they also followed it where ever it led them!  They made mistakes of course, as we all do, but they made honest mistakes, mistakes made by someone on a noble quest; mistakes made by one who would be eager to correct them – more than that – they would be eager to be corrected for they didn’t care if they looked foolish, only that they not remain in error.  Such was their love of truth.  And without divine revelation but certainly with divine assistance – for we are all God’s children – they preached virtue as the greatest of all earthly goods.  To live well, to live honestly and courageously in accordance with the truth and to avoid anything that might offend virtue was their aim.  They exhorted all to do the same; they maintained that the primary role of government was not to protect the rights of its citizens but rather to instill virtue in its citizens, and in a polytheistic society they recognized that there was but one divine being not many, and that the highest form of virtue was contemplation of that being.

 

We are blessed to have had revealed to us the fullness of truth, that this one divine being that the noble ancients searched for is in fact one God in three persons, Father, Son, and the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit.  We are blessed to know that God is love and that he sent His Son to become one of us, to save us from our sins so that we might be with him forever.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Because of Him we are no longer bound by sin, nor are we to have any part of it.  The Truth has set us free!

 

But just as Jesus said, the hour is coming when people will not want to hear the truth, either in our words or in how we live our lives.  They will not want the light of truth to shine on their lies and activities.  We should not be surprised by this kind of opposition.  But such opposition is not the greatest threat we face.  Perhaps the greatest enemy we face is an internal one.  For so often our hearts are fickle.  Are we truly committed to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life where ever He leads?  Truly committed?  We will make mistakes of course. Sadly, we will stumble and sin at times.  God knows we are weak, he knows we need forgiveness which is the very reason he sent his Son!  But as disciples of Christ shouldn’t our mistakes be honest ones?  Shouldn’t our aim be to seek out holiness whatever setbacks or the cost?  We are on a noble quest; we should be eager to correct our sins and faults – and more than that – we should be eager to be corrected by others; for humility and being humbled is a sure path to holiness.  The truth is, whatever it takes, we should be eager to present ourselves holy and blameless to the Father, through the merits of the grace of His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is what it means to love God.



Daily Reflection 5/19/20
From Fr. Angelo

In the first reading from Mass today (Acts 16:22-34) we see that Paul and Silas were put in jail, tucked away in an inner cell with their feet tied to a stake.  In spite of their imprisonment, their hearts and minds were free as they sang and prayed to God.  As they prayed the power of God was revealed and the prison walls shook and the doors to the prison flew open.  The prison guard who was on the outside of the jail cell was really the one caught in his own inner prison. The thought of the two prisoners escaping caused him to draw his sword to kill himself.  And yet, the prisoners Paul and Silas had not escaped and in the end they were able to unlock the chains of the jailor’s heart and brought him the gift of new life.


The gift of new life was so powerful that the jailor no longer feared the consequences of the prisoners leaving the jail and in fact he bathed the wounds of Paul and Silas and invited them into his home.  he Spirit of God was working powerfully in this situation. There are no boundaries or obstacles that can block the gift of life that is found in the Risen Lord.  


Today’s reading invites us to ask:  Am I in prison or am I free?  Am I a prisoner to a bad attitude, worry or fear?  Has life beat me down or am I carrying a heavy cross at this time?  Has the isolation of being indoors because of Covid-19 temped me to lose hope?  We can look upon the faith of Paul and Silas and be inspired to maintain a sense of peace and calm in the midst of our suffering.  Through our faith in God we can find the strength we need to face any challenge with a heart that is free and at peace, a heart that rests in the awareness that we are children of God.



Daily Reflection 5/18/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

After nearly two months of almost nearly everything being closed because of the health crisis, Governor DeWine has given the green light to begin to reopen place again.  Places are being opened but we told that we need to take the proper safety protocols social distancing ourselves from one another, washing or sanitizing our hands a little more frequently, and we are being advised to wear a facemask.  With all these new safety protocols put in place, in some ways I more paranoid about catching the virus now then before when places were shutdown.  At the same time I am ready for life to go back to normal or perhaps as the experts like to remind us the new ‘normal’.  I look forward having people in church when I celebrate Mass again.  I look forward to going out to restaurants and supporting local businesses that are going through hard times right now.  I look forward to going to the barber to get my hair cut, I will probably have to wait a little longer because I shaved my head in the middle of this pandemic.  Anyway, I think by enlarge all of us are looking forward to our lives going back to ‘normal’ and at the same time we are nervous because the virus is still out there.  I think these words from St. Gaspar might be of help to us “Please take good care of yourself. You very well know that we are to be custodians of our health so that we, in all things, can do the will of God.”  As remerge to bringing our lives back to ‘normal’ I think we are called to take necessary precautions to care ourselves and our loved ones and then trust that our God is going to do rest in, taking care of us. – Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.




Daily Reflection 5/16/20
From Lynda Middleton

“I called to the Lord out of my distress and he answered me.”  (Jonah 2:2)

 

I wonder what it was like for Jonah sitting in the belly of that whale.  Jonah had been given a direct order from God, an order he did not like and was afraid to do.  “Go to Ninevah, Jonah.”  So, Jonah ran 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  Boarding a boat he headed for Tarshish and encountered the biggest storm of his life.  There was thunder.  There was lightening.  There were tsunami-type waves.  And just as Jonah was thinking, “It cannot get much worse than this,” he finds himself thrown overboard and swallowed by a great big fish.  How much can one person be expected to take?  Poor Jonah was about to find out.

 

Jonah is one of my best Biblical buddies.  God says, “Do.”  I say, “Nope,” and the whole situation becomes a little fishy.  Some days feel like hope has taken a holiday.  Our mood, our dreams and our strength gives out.  The light at the end of the tunnel has dimmed and we are left in the belly of despair.  Where do we go from here?  What do we do when this time and this place feel like an inglorious end?

 

Three weeks ago I received a small gift in the mail.  Opening my surprise package I found a thin ring in the shape of a semicolon.  As you know, a semicolon looks like this “ ; “.  Stronger than a comma but not as strong as a period, a semicolon indicates a pause between two thoughts in a written sentence.  But when worn as a symbol or a tattoo the semicolon is a message of solidarity and hope.  It symbolizes a temporary pause rather than a complete ending.  The semicolon is a reminder to take a breath.  It indicates that there is on-going movement.  Whatever is happening, this is not the end.  Something, some life could have ended but the wearer chose to go on.

 

Jonah, sitting in the belly of that whale could have stopped.  For three days he sat surrounded by fish inners and the open sea.  Out of this pause came thanksgiving and prayer.  “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, ‘I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.’”  (Jonah 2:1-2)

 

Are you feeling kind of fishy?  How bright is the light at the end of your tunnel?  Life ebbs and flows.  Riches, friends and health may all come and go.  But our Lord remains forever.  Even inside the belly of a whale God dares to draw close to those who love him.  So, the next time you feel weary or spent remember Jonah in the whale waiting and pause.  Wait, remember, give thanks and pray.  God is alive and well even in the area of our greatest concern and is even bigger than our biggest fish.





Daily Reflection 5/13/20
From Deacon Rusty Baldwin

Simplicity of Heart

 

Jesus used the imagery of the shepherd and the sheep many times in the Gospels.  He used this imagery because it perfectly describes the simple message we hear in the Gospel:  “Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

 

But the simplicity of this message doesn’t always resonate with us today.  We live in a world that prizes education and sophistication – the more letters and titles one can surround their name with, the more value, the more important we think that person is.  Jesus doesn’t see things that way.  He says, “Whoever wants to be first must be last and servant of all” and “whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me.”  Jesus simply doesn’t think like we do.

 

So is education, ambition, and a desire to achieve undesirable or even evil?  Not at all!  Jesus never discouraged us from such things.  In fact, he encouraged us to strive for things even greater than that – he encouraged us to strive for true greatness.  The paradox is that to be truly great, to reach the heights of greatness, we need to set our sights lower, we need to choose the last place, we need to be the servant of all.

 

Think about the example that has been set for us in this regard.  What degrees, titles, or rank did the world bestow on Jesus and the 12 apostles?  None.  Instead they were simply known as a carpenter, fishermen, tax collector and so on.  Not much formal schooling or worldly acclaim to be found there.

 

Greatness in the eyes of God cannot be seen by through the eyes of the world.  Those who serve the poor, the widow and the orphan, who feed the hungry, who welcome the outcast, who suffer for the sake of the Lord, and who do so without thought of reward or praise – to the extent we do such things, to the extent we look at a little child and realize we are in the presence of greatness, to the extent we refuse to bow to worldly wisdom, such is our greatness, such is the extent of our simplicity.

 

To be great, we need to put on the mind of Christ – to see things as Christ does, as they really are.  It’s that simple.



Daily Reflection 5/12/20
From Fr. Angelo

At every Mass, as we prepare to receive Holy Communion we focus on the gift of peace that is found in Christ.  Listen to the prayers we offer after we pray the Our Father together:  “Deliver us, Lord, we prayer, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days…” “Lord Jesus Christ who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant us peace and unity…” “The peace of the Lord be with you always…” 

The peace that we speak of is not simply the absence of conflict or violence or the state of tranquility or quiet.  St. Paul is a good example of peace in the midst of challenges. He traveled to so many places in his missionary efforts and often experienced hardships even stoning as a result of his faith in Jesus Christ.  What helped St. Paul and the disciples live in peace was God’s grace and the support that they gave and received from one another. God was working in and through their lives revealing his presence and power each step of the journey.  They knew they were not alone.   

Often people think they will finally have peace when their physical comforts are met, or when they have enough money or when there are not problems in the family. These are all external and in the end do not produce the fulfillment of peace they promise.  The peace Jesus gives is interior, a lasting peace.  When we live in Him we experience peace because we realize we are precious in God’s eyes and that God cares for us.

Today we are invited to reflect upon the peace that is found in Jesus.  We are assured of this gift of peace each time we gather for Mass and encounter the living God. When we live in Him and trust in Him, no matter what problem or conflict arises in life, we can be at peace and offer peace to others.  -Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S.




Daily Reflection 5/11/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

On the night before I was to be ordained we had a rehearsal to work out  the details of what everyone was supposed to do.  At the end F. Dennis reminded me that tomorrow was not all about me.  But rather it was all about how God is at work in the church and I am the instrument through whom God is working. So often when we are about doing God’s work it can seem like it is about us and we need to be reminded that it is God that is doing the work.  God is working through us.   


In our scriptures today Paul and Barnabas go Lystra and Paul heals a crippled man.  And the people begin to think that Paul and Barnabas are gods and in response they tear their garments and show the people that they are humans.  As we go about doing God’s work may we have humility of Paul and Barnabas that it is God that is doing the work and we instrument that God is using to do the work. –Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.



Daily Reflection 5/9/20
From Lynda Middleton

Reflection for May 9, 2020


“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)


How did you like to spend your time when you were a kid?  What was your favorite hobby or activity?  Did you play sandlot baseball or study the piano, fight with your siblings or collect stamps?  Did you enjoy getting involved in a good book or movie or playing video games?


As a farm kid, raised in the sixties I was shushed out the back door immediately following breakfast and not expected to return until sometime just before lunch.  There was always plenty to do. (If we did not find something to do, Mom would find something for us to do.)  There were woods to explore and trees to climb, baby kittens to pet and a bank barn containing endless possibilities.  But the best place of all was the creek that ran through the cow pasture.  Minnows lived in that creek as did tadpoles and the occasional turtle.  But the best part of the creek was the dark, rich mud that it provided.  Central Ohio clay was the best art material a kid could ask for.  


With a little imagination mud could be used to build a dam, make a disguise or create a work of art.  Mud was our media of choice as we constructed boats, houses and castles for our stick people.  To create something out of nothing, that was the most fun of all.


Going to my local superstore recently I was amazed at how well stocked it was with fruits and vegetables, bread and toilet paper and how sparse the arts and craft aisle was.  The art department was virtually wiped out of paint, markers and other supplies.  What’s going on here?  Are we just bored kids looking for something to do?  I think that it runs a little bit deeper than that.  We need art, music and beauty especially in this day’s climate.  We need to think higher thoughts and praise the God of Creation.


Art speaks to something inside of us as we catch a glimpse of the spirit hovering over the waters of creation.  Saint Pope John II wrote to artists, “like the artists of every age- captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colors and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation…”  Art gives form and meaning to our loftiest ideals and our greatest dreams.  It compels us to craft something out there that explains something that is happening in here.  Each of us is entrusted with the task of creating our own masterpiece, our own life that dignifies all life and gives glory to God


So, get out there and create something- paint, knit, sew, sculpt, write, compose music, play in the mud, or simply hum your own unique and authentic tune.  Let the art that is within you stir you to the beauty, goodness and truth that lead us to God…or, just have fun.


I would love to see and hear what you have created.  Email me at Lyndamiddleton9@gmail.com with your creative endeavors.




Daily Reflection 5/8/20
From Shaughn Phillips

Your Dwelling Place:

Reflection by Shaughn


Providence is funny. Before looking at the readings for today I had already prayed with the Sunday Gospel with three different Zoom sessions! Today’s Gospel will also be the first part of Sunday’s Gospel, which is perfect!


Jesus tells us today, and will again Sunday, that the Father has many dwelling places. He tells us too that He has prepared a dwelling place for you. He of course says this to all of us in the second person “you” plural. But I found myself reading it as “you” singular the final time. 


The question I found on my heart was simply, “Have you thought about your dwelling place Shaughn?” Simply take some time to imagine the dwelling place Jesus has for you. Is it spacious? Or intimate? Is it a beach or a mountain? Are there trees or is it a concrete jungle? What does it smell like or what is the lighting? 


Simply imagine, “what is the dwelling place Jesus has prepared for you?” Spend some time with the Lord in prayer today and this weekend with this question!




Daily Reflection 5/5/20
From Fr. Angelo

In the early years of the church, there was no clear vision of the precise direction the Church should go and who should belong to it. There was a common belief that the Christian Church was meant for the Jewish people only. In a rather short amount of time this attitude changed as the Gentiles embraced the faith. Even in the face of hardships and persecution the Church continued to grow.
It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, followers of Christ. The values and behaviors of these faith-filled people, in spite of their suffering, became a source of inspiration and launched the rapid expansion of the Church.

The picture of many Gentiles coming to believe in Jesus stands in contrast to the Gospel reading where the Jews in Jerusalem were filled with disbelief and suspicion about Jesus. They were gathered in the Temple, the sacred place where God dwelt and yet they could not acknowledge the presence of God in Jesus. He was so close, yet so far away from them. Jesus is very direct in speaking about his identity as God’s Son and the works that he has done in the Father’s name as proof for them. This upsets the crowd and they are ready to stone him for blasphemy.

What if Jesus had remained silent or watered down his identity as God’s Son? What if the early Christians had remained silent after the stoning of Stephen keeping silent out of fear?

What if St. Angelo, whose memorial we celebrate today, had kept silent in the face of the heresies of his day? Jesus, the Good Shepherd does not abandon us, but walks with us along the path of life, particularly when we must take up our cross. May we not shy away from the opportunities we have to live our faith and to bring others to Christ.
Fr. Angelo
Daily Reflection 5/4/20 
From Fr. Matt Keller

COVID-19 has altered all of our lives in some many ways.  From events on the calendar being canceled or postponed.  From meetings that have traditionally taken place in person to happening via Zoom and various other forms of digital technology.  From handshakes and embraces to staying six feet apart and wearing face masks.  And I think we could all to the lists of changes we made to our lives.  Today in the State of Ohio we are taking a step in returning our lives to ‘normal’ as many people are now returning to work.  For some may seem like it is too soon and there is anxiety about spreading the virus.  Still for others there is an excitement about getting back to work of going back to normal, a determination of needing to return to provide for the family. Regardless of where our emotions are today lets surrender ourselves into the hands of God, trusting that God is going to take care of us.

Perhaps the words of St. Gaspar del Bufalo could also be of good support to us today “Let us pray that in all things the will of God be done.” 





Daily Reflection 5/3/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

Today is the 4th Sunday of Easter.  Today is not only the 4th Sunday of Easter but today is also referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations.


In our scriptures today we hear Jesus give a description of who and what is a shepherd.  Jesus says that a shepherd enters through the gate, he calls his sheep by name and they come to him.  A shepherd also leads the sheep and the sheep follow him.  According to Jesus this is what a shepherd is and not only is Jesus says that he is a shepherd.


And Jesus refers to himself as being a shepherd in our scriptures today as a way of saying this is how much he loves and care for us.  But really this image of shepherd is really an image that flows throughout all the scriptures and it is used to show how much our God loves and cares for us.  Psalm 23 is common passage of God being referred to ask a shepherd. 


If our God cares for us in the same way that a shepherd that cares for the sheep, that would mean that we are the sheep.  And you know to be referred to as being a sheep is not the greatest compliment.  I mean sheep are not the smartest of animals and in some ways kind stupid.  Then again I would imagine God say the same thing about us humans.  While this image may not be  the greatest compliment it is an image that we can visualize and understand.  This shepherding image helps us to better understand God’s love for us.


God cares for us the way that shepherd cares for his sheep, and just how does a shepherd care for his sheep?  I never met shepherd before.  But I did grow up surrounded by dairy farmers, a matter of fact grew up living next door to my Uncle Gary and his family and I closely observed how they cared for their cows it was a 24-7, 365 days a year a job, milking twice a day, often having to leave family parities early or coming late, always making sure they have proper bedding, food, water, and making that they all were healthy.  Point being the work is endless.

And it is with this care that God takes care of us and it is with this care that we also called to care for each other. 


Today is Good Shepherd and we are called to pray for vocations. For many this about a focus on praying vocations to the priesthood but really regardless of what vocation we are called to we are called to care for someone.  

And sometimes in caring we are forced to make difficult and painful decisions for those that we are entrusted care for a husband or wife make the choice to send their spouse to rehab, a parent not letting a child do something that could be harmful to their safety or health, a religious superior taking the car keys from elderly brother or sister, or even the bishops choosing to cancel Masses during this health crisis.

All of these decisions are difficult to make no one ever wants to ever have to make these decisions for another person; sometimes it is the most difficult thing one ever has to do. Yet at time it is necessary in to save life when seems like it is destroying life.


And for us not in position to make such decisions it is easy to be critical about such decisions that are made.  It is not to say it is wrong to be hurt or upset about the decisions that have been made.  Particularly in response to this health crisis, it does hurt not being able to come to Mas or to have that event you have been looking forward to be canceled.  But I think it is equally important for us to be thankful we are not in a position where we have to make these decisions.  Let’s face it to make such decisions is not an easy place to be, so one of the best things we can do for these people. That they are not only looking out for what we want, but looking out for what is really best for us.




Daily Reflection 5/2/20
From Lynda Middleton

How shall I make a return to the Lord for all of the good he has done for me?
  • Psalm 116:12

I don’t know about you but sometimes I struggle with this whole, big concept of love, both giving it and receiving it from others.  From the time that we are children we sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And we learn from Jesus the two great commandments to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  But, do we do just that?  Do we really know in the very bottom of our hearts how much we are loved and then love out of that great reservoir?   How do we experience this divine love in a world filled with uncertainties and doubt?  How do I know that Jesus loves me, even me, as his beloved?


My friend, Pat Kelly, describes himself as a “paranoid optimist.” Pat is convinced that the whole world is out for his good.  Pat is a character, to be sure, but I think that he may be on to something.  How would it change us and those around us if we truly believed that the world is basically a friendly place that is operating for our good?  How would we feel and live differently if we truly believed that we are loved beyond anything that we could imagine or hope for?


As I think about many of my Christian friends and family, they know how to love and show love to one another.  They do it often and well.  Receiving love is a bit more difficult for many of us.  We simply cannot believe that we, imperfect though we may be, are loved and loveable.


So, I am proposing a challenge, a love challenge, over the next 24 hours.  Over the next 24 hours list 24 things, events, or happenings that benefit you and occur without your work, consent or even thinking about it.  For example, each morning the sun comes up providing food, warmth, light and even life itself for the whole earth.  The earth is just the right distance from the sun that we are neither destroyed by its heat nor frozen from it being too far away.  A second that happens each day is that I am surrounded by good and caring people, some I know, some who provide for me in ways that I can only imagine.  


I think that you get the idea…Name 24 things or happenings that occur that benefit you and may your hearts and homes be filled with love.


Lynda Middleton




Daily Reflection /1/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

Today as church we celebrate Saint Joseph the Worker a day where we honor the work of God but also honor the work of God done through human hands.  What an appropriate day to be celebrating the gift of human labor, first to be honoring all those people that have been working long and hard hours in the midst of our health crisis from medical professionals and first responders, to those who work in grocery stores, work as mail carriers, and all other workers that work in manufacturing that have been deemed as being essential.  People that have been working risking their own health with hope in keep the rest safe.  We give thanks to God for all these unsung heroes that so often go unnoticed in our world.  Perhaps in some way we could show our appreciation to them in special way today, but also pray for their health and safety. 

As we celebrate the gift of human labor today, I think it is important to call to mind those that have been off work at this time and are soon to return to work.  Those people are so anxious in wanting to get back to work.  As they return to work we pray that they would continue stay healthy and safe.  Lastly, over the past month many have gone unemployed and are seek working but trying to find help with the basic necessities of life.  Our prayer for them is that they will soon find good stable meaningful employment, but in the meantime that they will also receive the needed help.

Today is also National Religious Brothers Day.  Religious Brothers are in our church a great gift, at the same time this gift can so easily go unnoticed and forgotten.  In our community we had a brother that was very vocal about reminding to not forget about the brothers.  Another brother in our community told me “that if you take care of the brothers the brothers will take care of you”.  As I reflect on the brothers in the history of our community the Missionaries of the Precious Blood their primary ministry of the past has been in doing manual labor for our community houses working on our farms, printing presses, cooks, and in maintenance positions.  Work that is so necessary and can so easily go unnoticed but it is without them our community and community houses would not have survived.  Religious Brothers continue to minister in our community church in variety of roles teachers, chaplains, and various other roles.  In our pastoral region we are fortunate to have a Brother minister in our pastoral region.  Br. Matt serves as the book keep and DRE at Emmanuel, Br. Matt thank for your ministry and service to the church.

So often there is necessary work that gets done and goes unnoticed.  Often times done by people that knows the jobs needs and just does without seeking the attention of another person.  As go through our day today let us be aware these important people in our lives that so often go unnoticed for what they do. – Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.



Daily Reflection 4/30/20

From Shaughn Phillips


Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Reflection by Shaughn

Today’s readings are rich and there is just too much I can’t say in less than 200 words. I highly recommend taking some time to pray with them today! But the thing that struck me most was Psalm 66, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.” 

A part of my new morning routine during this time has been going for walks in my neighborhood. It has been amazing to see spring blossom literally before my eyes each morning the past month. The gradualness of earth’s rebirth this season is what has amazed me. Sometimes I feel I need to do quick and grand gestures to show my praise to God but nature has shown me it can be slow and gradual. And it must if it will be ultimately fruitful, which Jesus tells us even in the parable of the sower and the seed. Let us praise God with joy incrementally. Gradually. Then we will appropriately grow in our relationship with Him.




Daily Reflection 4/28/20
From Deacon Rusty

Jesus, I Trust in You!

 

Fr. Stinissen, a Carmelite Friar, wrote that the most basic sin of all is not trusting God – not trusting Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Think about that for a minute.  Could that possibly be true?  Let’s consider such a possibility based on what happened in the Garden of Eden.  We all know that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit He had commanded them not to, but was this disobedience the first sin?  Not according to the Catechism.  In the Catechism paragraph 397 it says, “Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command.”  Therefore, Adam and Eve’s sin of disobedience was the SECOND sin.  Their first sin was a lack of trust in God!!  Adam and Eve didn’t trust that God wanted the best for them.  So, the sequence of events in the garden was FIRST they thought God was keeping something from them, THEN they disobeyed.  And after they disobeyed, they tried to hide from God – not trusting that He would forgive them.  If Adam and Eve had minted a coin to mourn the fall from grace, the motto stamped on it would have been, In God We Did NOT Trust.

 

Fr. Stinissen goes on to explain the nature of sin.  There is an immense difference between understanding sin as breaking rules versus understanding sin as a lack of trust.  If sin is breaking rules, we see God as cold and juridical – a judge.  If, on the other hand, we understand sin as a lack of trust, then we are on our way toward love, for then we see God as our Father.  And to show us the love of the Father, Jesus reveals to us the whole truth on the Cross.  It is there that Jesus reveals who He is.  On the Cross, the hidden God is no longer hidden.  On the Cross the glory of love is revealed.  On the Cross, love is exposed in all its splendor.  And to this He adds the Eucharist and all the others Sacraments.  What more could he have done that we might trust Him?

 

That’s what makes Divine Mercy Sunday which we celebrated just a couple of weeks ago, all the more poignant – all the more precious.  For Divine Mercy directly counters our fear, our lack of trust in God with, “Jesus I trust in you!”  If we had to summarize what the saints, martyrs, and all the faithful who have gone before us want for us the most, I think it would be that we all be able to say with them:  “Jesus, I trust in you!”


Daily Reflection 4/27/20
From Fr. Matt

COVID-19 has impacted all our lives; COVID-19 has impacted our lives with many postponements and cancellations.  On account of COVID-19 we have been advised to keep our distance from each other.  Let‘s face it COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives.  Over the past month our daily routine has change dramatically.  Even in my life as a priest. 


So what is like to be a priest during COVID-19?  Probably the three best words to describe this time is weird, strange, and uncertain, this is definitely an experience that I was not trained for in seminary, so it is an experience of doing a lot learning on the fly.  The past month has been filled challenges but there also have been a few silver lining moments. 


Probably the most noted change is that the public celebration of Mass has been canceled.  It is strange to celebrate Mass in empty church. I think all of us are praying for the day when Mass can be celebrated publicly again.  I am hopeful that soon that we will be able to come back together.  Next to not having parishioners at Mass, I also miss the visiting that I do with folks after Masses.  There is much frustration that surrounds COVID-19 and wonder when our lives will go back to normal. 


In the midst of negative and anticipation, I do recognize some positives and I have been doing some learning. Probably the most notable thing I have been learning is how to use technology.  From holding meetings via Zoom, instead of in person to learning how to record, livestream, and upload Mass videos to YouTube, I always knew that these technologies were out there and knew they could be valuable tools for ministry.  But prior to COVID-19, I really never had much time to learning how to use these tools.  COVID-19 forced me to quickly learn how to use these technologies.  Another positive that come during this health crisis  in the rectory we have been spending more intentional time together, while respecting each other’s space.  Fr. Angelo and I have been celebrating Mass and at different times other priests have joined us.  Also we have been taking turns cooking for each other. Who is the best cook? No comment, but what I will say is the bigger highlight is fellowship we share during meal time.


COVID-19 has posed many challenges to us and they can certainly weight us down leave us feeling depressed, but what can pick us up being aware of the good things that are also going on at this time. – Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.


 


    

Daily Reflection 4/23/20
From Rita Zimmerman
 

In both of our readings today we hear about the gift of the Holy Spirit. "We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” and "He does not ration his gift of the Spirit." 

 

I'm intrigued by the way the Holy Spirit works. That gentle nudge that has me doing something or reaching out to someone I otherwise never would have reached out to. That insight into the bigger issue than my limited view of a situation. I've often prayed for the Holy Spirit to give me insight or help in one way or another. When I pray I ask the Holy Spirit make it abundantly clear to me, not to be subtle. I don't want to miss it because I'm running in too many directions and not paying close enough attention.

 

Sometimes that little voice will tell me to do something and I'll think, Really! You want me to do that! So I bargain and ask for another sign to confirm I'm supposed to do whatever the Spirit is nudging me to do. I know...I can just imagine God rolling his eyes at me.  I think I'm getting better at listening to the Holy Spirit and I'm grateful for the nagging, I mean promoting, the Spirit provides that has me doing things I otherwise wouldn't think to do. I'm not always comfortable doing what God is asking me to do but if the feeling just doesn't go away...I do it. 

 

Rita

Daily Reflection 4/22/20
From Shaughn Phillips

God so loved you…

Reflection by Shaughn


We have a classic scripture verse into today’s Gospel. John 3:16. But what does it mean to us? To you? I have come to recognize the lifelong adventure of discipleship is recognizing and accepting the reality that we are beloved by God and incarnating this truth in our lives. 


Growing up as one of seven I found it hard sometimes to believe I was loved simply for being me. With teachers and friends comparing me to my other siblings or comparing myself to them it was easy to fall into the traps of doubt or feelings of unworthiness. Yet my parents never compared me to my siblings. My dad would always say, “Shaughn I love you for just being you and nothing will ever change that.” I have come to realize my earthly father showed me continually what our Heavenly Father says to each of us. 


Allowing myself to simply let the Father gaze lovingly at me and say, “You are beautiful and I love you” is still hard some days yet it is what gives me the most meaning and direction in my life.




Daily Reflection 4/20/20
From Deacon Rusty Baldwin
The Spirit of the Lord

 

We hear about the Spirit of the Lord often during the Easter season but just what role the Spirit plays in our lives remains a mystery to many of us.  And to be honest some, to the extent we think about the Spirit of God at all, some might prefer Him to be something like “the Force”; an impersonal power of Star Wars ilk that we can harness and manipulate for good or evil however we choose.

 

But as we all know the third person of the Holy Trinity is God and the only power we have over the Spirit has also been given to us by God as well, that is the power to cooperate with the Him or not.  God is a gentleman; he will not force himself on his beloved.  But many are like the people of Israel; when they saw the Spirit of God, they begged God not to appear to them directly, but rather only through Moses, and they asked Moses to wear a veil to cover his face because it shone with the glory of the Spirit of God that was upon him.

 

At confirmation we received the same Spirit that Moses, King David and all the prophets received, we received the same Spirit that filled the disciples in the book of Acts and inspired them not to pray that their persecution would end, but rather that the Lord would enable them to continue to speak the word with all boldness in the name of Jesus.  We received the same Spirit that filled the Saints who lived for God as well as the martyrs who died for Him.  Confirmation made us soldiers for Christ and soldiers do not live or die for themselves, but for the one they serve. 

 

We received the same Spirit St. Catherine of Siena did, a Doctor of the Church, who lived in the 14th century and was blessed with the stigmata.  St. Catherine convinced the pope, who had moved to Avignon, France to go back to Rome.  She also carried out many missions entrusted to her by the pope, something quite rare for a woman in the Middle Ages.  It goes without saying that St. Catherine was often misunderstood by her contemporaries and even her family and friends.

 

But when we live for the Lord, truly cooperating with the Spirit, truly seeking God’s will, we should not expect that even our friends or family will fully understand and we should not expect the world to understand at all.  But we need to go where the Spirit leads:  if it is to suffer persecution for the Lord, so be it, if it is to serve God and neighbor unnoticed so be it, if it is to be misunderstood, scorned, and dismissed, so be it.  As Our Lord said in the Gospel reading for today “so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

 

Rusty

Daily Reflection 4/18/20

From Fr. Matt


In the scriptures there are several accounts Resurrection of Jesus stories some of these include the discovery of the empty tomb, Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene tells her to go tell his brothers, and the appearance in the upper room.  These are all great stories but one of my favorites is the Road to Emmaus. What I like about this story is that it is a story that I can relate to a little more than some of the other stories.  Two disciples leave Jerusalem and as they go they are processing what just happened.  Jesus their friend was arrested, condemned to death, died on cross was buried, and earlier that morning some women told them that Jesus was alive.  All this seemed to not make sense to them so they talk about it.  As they talk Jesus joins in the conversation and he opens them up to the scriptures and they begin to understand.  Similarly at different times in our lives we have events that happened that seem to not make sense, particularly in the face of tragedy.  Or with the current situation that we are in with health epidemic there is a lot that is going on that just does not make sense.  There is much uncertainty going on right now. I would imagine each of us has found at least one other person to talk to about what is going on.  Most of us are not given a clear understanding of what is going on.  Yet these conversations still seem to help us.  As we journey today let us be mindful of those people that help us to make sense of our lives. –Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.  




Daily Reflection 4/17/20
From Fr. Angelo

St. Augustine talks about the Easter Octave, eight days of Easter week, as “the days of mercy and pardon.” Each day the gospel at Mass offers a different image of the Risen Lord appearing to His disciples. Today’s gospel offers a beautiful model of the journey of reconciliation. Though they have seen the Risen Lord the disciples do not understand what their future is to be, so they go back to that which is most familiar to them, fishing. They try to get back to a normal life, but it just isn’t working. The disciples still carry the heavy burden of their past in their hearts.

            We get the sense that the disciples were obsessively fishing in the same area over and over again. Sometimes we can get stuck in a past wound. Jesus appears to them and suggests they fish on the other side. And when they do they catch a huge amount of fish. Being freed from their obsession with the past they can see new possibilities. This is true in the journey of reconciliation. When there has been a deep wound in life things can never return to the way they were. We must look for a new way of seeing the past.

            In an act of hospitality, Jesus prepares a meal for the disciples and asks them to add to the meal some of what they had caught. The meal reminds them of the last supper meal and the time they made a great catch of fish and were called to be fishers of men and women. Jesus is calling them back to the original dream. He is inviting them to see the terrible memory of the crucifixion with new eyes. With the crucifixion their dreams had died; now in the resurrection they can dream new possibilities. Today’s gospel ends before we read the exchange between Simon Peter and Jesus…Simon, Son of John do you love me? In this exchange, Jesus brings forgiveness to the broken past and then commissions the disciples to be a part of Jesus’ ministry of mercy and reconciliation to the world.

            Easter reminds us that with the resurrection we are all given a future full of hope. The sins and burdens of the past no longer need to control us. With forgiveness we choose a new future and resume our journey with Jesus, a journey leading us to eternal life.



Daily Reflection 4/16/20
From Lynda Middletown

The Gospel lesson for today begins with some of Jesus’ disciples heading to Emmaus after the crucifixion and before they knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

“The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35)


Many mornings I wake up between 2:00 and 3:00am when I am feeling restless or anxious.  It is that time of day when it is well past midnight and well before dawn. Some people refer to it as the darkest part of the day.  Teddi lies beside the bed murmuring in her doggy dreams. The birds have yet to begin their morning songs. All is still as the world waits quietly for another dawn.


On these occasions I like to gather up the quilts that my mom and grandma have made for me.  Swaddled to my neck I sit and rock and re-member who I am and the love that these two special women have for me.


Sitting there, I imagine the sights and sounds of home. I can almost smell the yeasty bread baking in the farmhouse and hear the ducks yipping in the garden outside of the window.  I remember who I am and how much I am loved among the sights and the smells, including and especially in this generations-old tradition of bread baking. Many decades later I know the taste of grabbing a hot slice of the newly baked and slathering it with strawberry jam.  It is in this simple act that I once-more become one with those that I love and have shared their love with me.


Growing quiet now, I recall another whose love was made known through the simple act of sharing bread. Jesus had done it so often before, and in the story preceding this verse he would do it again.  Having told them so much about the scriptures and all that had happened in the past, Jesus would now act out this love-giving sacrament. Lifting his eyes toward heaven, he gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to each of them.  In this simple, loving act of sharing Jesus became alive to them once more.


The disciples had understood what Jesus was saying to them.  They remembered his sayings and his teachings. They recalled all that he had said and done.  But this kind of memory was not enough. Their heads knew but their hearts had not yet received the fullness of receiving the risen Christ.  This reception of the heart would take action, an action that they loved and knew so well. In love, he gives thanks and breaks the bread that is his utter self-giving to them and to us.  Our minds are opened with the scriptures even as our hearts are opened with Christ’s self-giving love.


Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote, “Love Changes Everything.” And so it does.  The loving act of the Holy Eucharist moves us from simply recalling the past to experiencing its limitless goodness in the present.  Holy Communion bids us to share this love through Christ with all creation and especially with one another.


During this difficult time I challenge you to curl up with a favorite story, photo, or memory.  Grab your blanket and your jelly bread, remember and reclaim all of the love that our good God is sending to you. -Lynda Middleton




Daily Reflection 4/15/20

From Rita Zimmerman


Did you receive a call?


Many of you have received a call from volunteers in the parish who have graciously agreed to reach out to our parishioners.  If the parish has a valid phone number on file for you than someone from the parish has or will be contacting you to see how you're doing while being confined to home and to ensure you have help getting groceries, prescriptions and other things you may need. We want to touch base with all our parishioners and ensure they know we are keeping them in prayer and that we are here to pray for them or their needs during this challenging time. The volunteers are enjoying talking with all of our parishioners and our parishioners have commented that they are grateful for the calls and well wishes from the volunteers. If you are in need of someone to assist you shopping for groceries or helping in some way please call the parish office and let us know.

 

If you haven't already please remember to sign up for Flocknotes. This is a new email service we are trying as a way of keeping in touch with you via email, text messages or both. Please use this link https://flocknote.com/DowntownDaytonCatholicPa or go to the homepage for Flocknotes, click on “Find Your Church” using our zip code 45402 and from the selection of churches that appear click on “Downtown Dayton Catholic Parishes.” You can join our network and be on your way to receiving messages from the parish (all without needing to create a password)!

Thanks

Rita


They Were Cut to the Heart:

Reflection by Shaughn Phillips


Today’s readings for mass are beautiful. Like a pig wallowing in mud I find so much to delight in contemplating with these readings. But two lines stuck out to me I find an interesting connection with. 


The Jewish people in the first reading being “cut to the heart,” upon hearing the message from the apostles and Mary not recognizing Jesus until He says her name. I believe both the Jewish people and Mary were hearing the same Word. The Way, the Truth, and the Life! While they heard the Word in different ways they still heard the same Word. And the response of both the Jewish people and Mary are the same. They are cut to the heart. Both experienced the Resurrection.


During this Easter season are we still weeping like Mary? Are we like the Jewish people asking the Apostles what to do in response to the Word? How can we respond to the reality of Easter, the Resurrection, while cooped up in our homes and social distancing still? 


Maybe the only thing we are being asked to do today is what Mary did. Simply acknowledged that we have “seen the Lord.” Maybe God is simply asking us to sit still (literally) and reflect on how we have experienced the Resurrection. Simply to allow the Resurrection to take deeper roots in our own lives. Imagine what fruit that could bear in our lives today?




Daily Reflection 4/13/20
From Brother Matt Schaefer

 

“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.”

           

In this first post-Easter gospel reading, we see the beginning of the ministry left by Jesus.  Mary Magdalene and Mary did not abandon Jesus in his hour of death like the other disciples.  And here they are the first ones to hear of his resurrection.  Their fear is understandable—Jesus is gone from the tomb and an angel tells them He is alive and has gone to Galilee.  Despite their fear, they are joyful and they act quickly.  They become the first evangelists, the first to proclaim the good news.   


Fear is an interesting emotion.  It can motivate us to accomplish great things, yet it can also frighten us into inaction.  Fear can bring out the best in people—and the worst.  Sensible fear can lead us to protect ourselves, while irrational fear can lead to anxiety and avoidance.


I’ve heard people asking lately about what will be the legacy of our current Covid-19 situation.  Will our current fears lead us a future of fears?  Will our society be changed in ways that will be unsettling?  I guess the answer depends on how we are choosing to see the situation.  If we focus only on the bad now, we are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and our future outlook will be bad.  If we see the current situation for what it is—a scary and sometimes tragic outbreak of a virus that will end—we can also make room for seeing the moments of happiness and the occasions for blessing that still exist around us.


Rarely do we think of fear and joy as going together.  I’m not sure of how many people deal with fear that is related to their faith.  When I think of the core of my faith, the belief in a loving God and Savior, I don’t see any fear.  When I experience the holiest day of the year, Easter, there is only awe and gratefulness.  Perhaps this is how we can relate to the fear and joy of the two Marys—as awe and joy.  The awesomeness of a Savior who died and rose again for each of us, the awesomeness of the unending gift of the Good News, the awesomeness of the ministry we’re called to as followers of Jesus.

           

What moments of awe and joy did you have during yesterday’s unusual Easter?  Keep them in the forefront of your mind and prayers during this Easter season.  And be on the lookout for more signs of the Good News among us.

            Brother Matt Schaefer 





Daily Reflection 4/11/20
Fr. Angelo's Easter Vigil Homily

Easter Vigil April 11, 2020


In the Office of Readings that are a part of the official prayer of the Church, there is an ancient homily which  reflects upon the meaning of this Holy night.  It begins by saying, “Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness, because the King is asleep.”  There is something strange happening among us today.  A great silence and stillness covers the world as so many people around the world are staying home, practicing social distancing in order to flatten the curve, reducing the number of our brothers and sisters afflicted from the coronavirus.


Tonight, like our ancestors in faith, we too lean on our faith to help us find order in the midst of this chaos.  In this strange reality we are experiencing as a shared sacrifice, we look for guidance.  What do we do in the midst of darkness, suffering, worry, fear and doubt? Using a line from a hymn by Marty Haugen, “We remember, we celebrate, we believe.” 


We remember the history of our ancestors in faith as they experienced the One, True God leading them to life.  We remember God’s covenant of love; His faithfulness standing firm even though we continue to wander away from Him in our sin.  We remember the tremendous act of love in which Jesus poured out his lifeblood upon the cross, transforming that instrument of death into the very tree of life.


The image given in the ancient homily for this night speaks of Jesus going to the realm of death, bearing the cross and encountering Adam.  “Jesus took Adam by the hand and raised him up saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  The hopes and dreams of all who sit in the darkness of death have been fulfilled.  The chains of sin and death are broken forever.


This is why we celebrate!  Even though this Easter season may feel like an extended Good Friday into Holy Saturday, we cannot help but celebrate.  Though we do not know when our lives might be able to get back to normal, the gift of our baptism calls us to be missionaries of hope!  This morning I tuned into the weather channel and to my surprise they had a graphic on lower right-hand side of the screen that said, “Forecasting Hope!”  Hope is a powerful virtue which says, “God is leading all things to the good, no matter how dark or desperate or difficult life may be.” Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we actually live by hope!  This forecast of hope will come true as we celebrate the new life of Easter.


As we remember and celebrate, our beliefs are strengthened. We believe because we can see and witness the power of the Risen Lord alive and at work among us. God is leading us to the other side of darkness. I see it in the many people reaching out to in love, from healthcare workers risking their lives to care for the sick, to scientist working together for a treatment and a vaccine, through the many hidden people working to provide food, supplies and services to our community, to the person reaching out to their neighbor…so many people responding to the great commandment, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul; love your neighbor as yourself.  If the only thing we learn from this present suffering is the fact that we need God and we need one another, then we have come out of darkness and are living in the Light.


As believers we hear Jesus say to us this Easter, “Rise, leave behind the darkness of your old self, I who am life itself is with you.”  “Claim the dignity that is yours as a child of God.” “Join me in giving expression to the creativity of love.”  Tonight, we remember, we celebrate, we believe that Christ has conquered sin and death. We know how the story ends. Our job is to keep going, to continue to journey in faith, giving witness to the life we share in the Risen Lord.


A story is told of an old woman who went on pilgrimage every year to a holy shrine at the top of a high mountain.  This particular year, a fierce storm with strong driving winds threatened the journey. An inn keeper at the base of the mountain, cried out to the old woman in the midst of the storm, “Old lady, you’ll never make it up the mountain, the wind is too strong, the mountain too steep.”


The woman yelled back, “O, my son, getting to the top of the mountain will be no trouble at all.  You see, my heart has always been at the top of the mountain.  Now, it is just a matter of taking my body there.” 

Tonight, we know where our hearts are…otherwise, you wouldn’t be participating in this prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  In baptism our hearts are forever united with the heart of God.  Now it is just a matter of continuing the climb, no matter how strong the storm may be, following Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  The great King is not asleep, He is risen and is with us! 

Fr. Angelo



Daily Reflection 4/10/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

Today is Good Friday, a special day, day that happens only once a year, a day were we remember Jesus death on the cross. In a certain sense as followers of the Lord we do this almost every day, I mean every time we gather for Mass or at this time watch Mass on a screen, we remember Jesus death on the cross.  Any time we take the time to look at crucifix we remember Jesus’s death on the cross.


So what makes today different from the other 364 days of the year.  Well today we remember Jesus death on the cross in a more special way. We read the story and during the liturgy we this a little differently than what we normally do. I mean when we usually read a story in church usually one person reads it  and everyone else listens. But today the story we read today in some ways like a dialogue or in some ways a play.  I mean we hear different voices through the reading of the story.  Actually when we read the story we invite to participate in the reading of the story, as we echo those words Jesus the Nazorean, If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you, and take him away, take him away Crucify him.


We remember Jesus’s death on the cross, we listen and we participate in retelling the story, this is only part of what we do today.  The other part of what we do today is we approach the cross and reverence it some with a kiss, others by simply touching it, others by making the Sign of Cross, and still other come forward with some other form of reverence. While you may not be with us physically inside a church today, you still can reverence a cross today. I would imagine that you have at least cross in your homes hanging on the wall or sitting on a table. I would invite you to take that cross down from the wall or pick it up off the table in your home, and reverence your cross as if you were here with us.  Whether we are in this church or stuck in homes on this Good Friday each one of can touch the wounds of Jesus. For it is in touching that we encounter the love and mercy of our God, for it is in touching the wounds of Jesus that we are healed.


Good Friday for many is about touching the wounds of Jesus, not just the wounds on the cross, but it is also about being reminded of wounds of Jesus that exist in our world today.  Traditionally many gather to walk the Stations of the Cross in our streets stopping in those places where Jesus wounds still exist in our world such as at jails, homeless shelters, by courthouses, and places where violence exist in neighborhoods.  On some of these walks people not only go to the places but we encounter those people that are really suffering.  On account of COVID-19 all these Stations of the Cross walks have been canceled this year.  Perhaps today in our prayer we can call to mind these people and places we would have stopped to pray at.  Or perhaps you know someone that is struggling right now, if it is safe we could visit them, practicing social distancing of course. But probably the preferred way would be to take the time to communicate with them in some other way perhaps with a phone call, e-mail, or taking the time to write a hand written note. Today is day to call to mind the wounds of Jesus that exist in our world in other people.


But let’s face it we are also wounded ourselves, we hurt and we need healing as well whether that is from our own sinfulness, from some harm that someone has caused to us, or the pain that we are suffering during this current health crisis.


We are all wounded and on this Good Friday we bring our personal wounds and the wounds of others.  We bring these wounds with us to the cross and we ask healing from our God.


Today as we approach the cross of Jesus may our world experience the healing power of God at work in our lives and in our world in a special way today.



Daily Reflection 4/8/20
Deacon Rusty Baldwin

Forgiveness

Today’s readings for Holy Week point to the great mercy of Our Lord.  Jesus Christ, who made the heavens and the earth will soon be rejected by his own creation; by those who Our Lord loves deeply and who depend on his divine goodness for their very existence. 

 

As the Passion of Our Lord draws near, the readings urge us to reflect on the depth of Jesus’ love for us.  Through Isaiah the prophet he tells us, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pluck my beard.”  Those who did this to Our Lord might never ask him for forgiveness; might in fact hate him all the more because of his love for them, yet Our Lord is Love and cannot but love who he created.

Sometimes we find it difficult to forgive; even those who are truly sorry and ask for our forgiveness.  We savor the power we gain over someone who has wronged us.  If how we were wronged is a small matter, we should simply consider how Our Lord was willing to forgive those who wronged him and let go of our petty grievances.  Sometimes, though, we have been so deeply and so seriously injured by someone we might wonder whether we can ever forgive.  If this applies to you, Our Lord in His Passion is especially reaching out to you.

 

Give that injury and hurt, pain and anger to Our Lord – he knows the injustice you suffered and wants to bring healing to your spirit.  Our faith is for times like these, when we don’t think we have the ability to forgive, save for God’s grace.

 

 If this is indeed where you are today, I would invite you to unite your suffering with the Lord’s this Holy Week, unite the injustice you suffered with what He suffered.  He knows how real your pain is because he went through it himself.  And let us all pray for the grace to forgive as Christ forgives.  Let us pray for the grace the Blessed Virgin Mary must have had when she forgave those who pierced her heart when they crucified her son.  Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us.


Daily Reflection 4/7/20
From Fr. Matt Keller

What would have it been like to at the Last Supper?


There are a lot of different words that could be used to describe what it would have been like to be at the Last Super.  You know it would have been amazing to actually be there the first time Jesus took bread and said that it is his body or when he took wine and said this is my blood.  It would have been festive; I mean gathering to celebrate Passover would have been something Jesus and his disciples would have done each year.  It would have been like gathering to celebrating a holiday. Another word to describe what it would have been like to be there is awkward.  I mean think about what it would have been like if you were Judas.  In the middle of the meal Jesus says “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21).  Jesus may have not been calling Judas out by name, but Jesus was talking about Judas in a negative way. Or even to be there when Jesus says to the disciples all of you are going to have your faith in me shaken.  Or even with Peter when Jesus tells him you are going to deny me.

The disciples’ response to Jesus in so many ways seems to be natural, to say no my faith in you will never be shaken. Or to say I am willing to die with you I will not deny you.  In the end we know the story.  We know that  the disciples’ faith gets shaken and in many ways through the passion of Jesus they seem to fail.  Yet we know in the end this makes their faith stronger.  During this health epidemic in our country all of us are having our faith shaken.  And at times it may seem as those we are failing. At times it may seem as though we are questioning our faith.  During these hard times, we are being shaken, may stand firm.  May we stand firm like the Palm tree in the story that bends but does not break.  May we stand with trust that this is only making our faith stronger.



Daily Reflection 4/6/20
From Fr. Angelo

Reflection for Monday of Holy Week


On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week the scripture readings at Mass invite us to reflect upon three different writings from Isaiah’s  Suffering Servant Songs and three accounts of Judas whose heart is motivated to betray Jesus.  What a contrast we see in today’s gospel as love and betrayal are present in the same room.  Judas, a thief, is critical of Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. Judas argued that the money to buy the perfumed oil should have gone to the poor.  Yet, we know that his intentions in saying this were not honorable as he is preparing to betray Jesus.  On the other hand, Mary offers an extravagant gesture of love and devotion with perfumed oil, the smell of which fills the house. 

 

Since the earliest times in the Church, Jesus has been looked upon as the embodiment of the Suffering Servant.  Like the Suffering Servant, Jesus has not come as a political figure to start a revolution; Jesus has come as a suffering servant who works quietly to care for the broken, the lost and the poor; to be a light leading us out of darkness and sin.  Mary’s anointing points to Jesus’ identity as priest, prophet and king offering comfort and reassurance to Jesus as he prepares for his passion and death.       

 

In the midst of the hardship, stress and strain we experience today it’s amazing to see how a small act of kindness, a supportive word, an ounce of understanding can fill a house with the sweet-smelling fragrance of love.  Today we are invited to ask, “Do I live as a betrayer or as lover?”  I have a choice to make.  I always have a choice.  How will I respond to the presence of Jesus in my home today? 


April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday (2020)

Deacon Rusty Baldwin's Homily

Theme:  “Who is this?”

 

Prior to the Gospel reading for today, Jesus had made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem while the people laid palms and their coats on the road before him.  He entered the city to shouts of, “Hosanna to the Son of David” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  The Gospel of Matthew tells us the whole city was shaken and everyone in the city asked, “Who is this?”, “Who is this?”  This is a question asked in every age and one that anyone who encounters Jesus must answer, for Our Lord’s very presence shakes us to our core just as it shook Jerusalem to its foundations.  His presence compels us to answer the question personally and definitively.  And in today’s readings, many propose an answer to this question.

 

The crowds of Jerusalem, for instance, proclaimed Jesus a prophet, but soon thereafter called for him to be crucified.  Judas wanted Our Lord to be a political revolutionary and betrayed Him when he could not convince him to be one.  The apostles abandoned him in fear when he refused to turn aside from His Passion; when he insisted on continuing down the road to Calvary.  The scribes, Pharisees, and Chief Priests saw him as a threat to their power and prestige and so they wanted to kill him.  Pilate and Herod, for their part, weren’t particularly interested in who Jesus was, they just wanted to prevent a riot.  And so, when Our Lord would not be who people wanted him to be; when the Messiah would not do what people wanted him to do; when Jesus would not conform to their notion of who he should be, they abandoned him, betrayed him, and finally killed him.

 

And if we are honest, at times we are tempted to try to make Our Lord into who we want Him to be too, aren’t we?  Isn’t that what we do every time we sin; every time we refuse to love?  Sometimes we want a Messiah who hasn’t called us to holiness, who hasn’t commanded us to love those who hate us, who hasn’t told us we must be prepared to suffer as he did.  We try to manipulate God, to get Him to think like we do, as it were.  C. S. Lewis, probably the most famous Christian author of the 20th century, described the kind of God many prefer. 

 

An ‘impersonal God’; well and good.  A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness that only exists inside our heads; better still.  A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap into; best of all.  But God himself, alive, …, perhaps approaching [us] at infinite speed, the hunter, King, husband?!?  We didn’t expect that!  That’s quite another matter.

 

Indeed it is!  For when we see God as He is, He will not be who we imagined Him to be.  And how could we expect that it to be otherwise, unless God is made in our image rather than we in His?  But God does not hide who He is.  In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were the one’s hiding from God, not the other way around.  And Our Lord’s Passion happened in the sight of all, but only certain souls recognized him for who he was.

While most saw Jesus as someone to manipulate, as someone to convince to do their bidding, these souls recognized Him.  Who were they?  Those the world held to be of no account; those willing to share in his suffering.  Those who loved him so much that they were willing to accompany Him on His way of the Cross.  The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Veronica, the women of Jerusalem, and St. John the Apostle.  Those who in their humility, did not give into the fear of the moment, but let their love overwhelm their fear.

 

In the present crisis we are all experiencing, in which so many are suffering, are sick, and are dying, we must accompany those in need as they carry their crosses, to ease their burden in any way we can, in any way God gives us the means to.  Don’t give into the fear of the moment, but let love overwhelm your fear.  For it is Christ himself we are helping, it is Jesus who we are comforting:  “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you did to me.”  In this way, we too, stand with those at the foot of the Cross and know, as they did, the answer to “Who is this?”

 

“Who is this?”  He is the One who not only walks with us in our suffering, but shares in our suffering.  He is the One who, though sinless, took our sins upon himself that we might live.  He is the One who’s deepest desire is that we love him and each other as he loves us.  He is Our Lord; Our Beloved.

 

“Who is this?”  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The way to the Father.  He is the one who is with us in the dark valley; he is the one who is at our side, leading us out of our present darkness of sickness, anxiety, fear, and most importantly leading us from a life of sin, to a life of holiness and self-sacrifice.  He is the one who shows us the way to our heavenly home where we will consummate our eternal love affair with Him.

 

“Who is this?”  With the Roman Centurion and his men, the very men who crucified Our Lord, together we proclaim, This is the Son of God!

Daily Relection by Rita Zimmerman - 4/4/20


I'm finding it difficult to believe next week is Holy Week. Lent seems to have flown by this year. What a strange Holy Week it is going to be. I'm grateful we'll be able to attend services online but I just can't imagine Holy Week without services we can attend. No washing of the feet, no veneration of the cross, no lighting of the Easter fire at the entrance of church or procession into church in the dark. No joyous Alleluia, no ringing of the bells or blessing of the water. It certainly won't be what we're accustomed to but maybe we can make the sacred triduum a special and unique celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ this year.

 

How can we make Holy Week more real without actually being at live services? Maybe you and your family can think of some creative ways to add the items mentioned above into the services you will watch online. Wash each other’s feet and talk about why Jesus did this, discuss why we venerate the cross and have veneration in your home, make your own Easter fire and use a special candle to light candles for each person. Maybe you can invite grandparents or a neighbor to join you in your services by using Facetime or another online tool. Holy Week definitely won't be the same but maybe we can make it memorable in a positive way.

April 3rd Daily Reflection: Fifth Friday of Lent

Reflection by Shaughn Phillips


We have come to the end of the Lenten season. We find today’s gospel setting the stage for the climax of Our Story; Holy Week. Jesus tells us that “the Father is in me and I am in the Father,” which will lead us with our Lord a week from now to Calvary. Oh what irony of ironies! Our Lord will be crucified for claiming to be God! Even though the people have seen the works promised by the Prophets done by Jesus they still don’t believe. I find myself in this story more than I would like to admit having seen the works of Jesus yet still struggling to believe myself. Yet I need to recognize I am in this story because it is my own. 


I have an invitation. As we enter into Holy Week let’s enter into the drama of our story. Our Salvation. Let’s cheer and rejoice as we welcome the Lord into Jerusalem. Let’s share in the Apostle’s confusion and anxiety around the table with Jesus' ominous words on Holy Thursday. Let’s share in the anger of the crowds on the Via Dolorosa and in the pain and sorrow of Our Mother at the foot of the cross. Let our own tears around Covid-19 be united with Mary’s own as she held her Son taken down. But let us also celebrate the Easter that is already promised to us, even if we may not be able to fully celebrate it as we may hope for yet. 


I have found music and art in general allows me to permit myself to, “feel the feels.” Might I recommend this piece as we pray with Sunday’s gospel and enter into this holiest of weeks, which will culminate in our Salvation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IllH_2M55sI




Daily Reflection from Brother Matt Schaefer - 4/2/20


Years ago when I was applying to enter formation with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, I had to take a series of psychological tests.  One of them was a kind of personality inventory with over 500 true-or-false statements.  There were a few questions that were worded something like “I sometimes hear the voice of God.”  I remember at the time thinking, “Of course I hear the voice of God—that’s what made me examine my life, what led me to choose the Missionaries, and what brought me to this place to take these strange tests.”  So, thinking that honesty was important, I answered “Yes” to these statements.  I knew that psychologists might see this as a red flag, but I figured that for purposes of entering religious life, it would be an acceptable admission.


In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus makes some bold statements to a skeptical and shocked audience.  He says, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.”  The response:  “Now we are sure that you are possessed.”  Later Jesus claims that Abraham was glad to see Jesus come and he states, “Amen, amen, I say to you before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  The response:  the crowd “picked up stones to throw at him.”  Some people who listened to Jesus, like the apostles, heard hope in his words.  Others who listened only saw a crazy, dangerous man.  The apostles chose to entrust their destinies to the Son of God and left everything to follow him.  Others let fear and mistrust consume them and chose to remain safe in their familiar lives.          


True belief requires boldness.  Not standing on the street corner and shouting scripture boldness, but the boldness to dedicate our lives to the ministry that Jesus entrusted to us.  The boldness to put all of our trust in God.  The boldness to suppress our fears, doubts, and weaknesses with the hopeful promises of an all-powerful and ever-faithful God.      

          

In this time of fear, confusion, and separation may we all draw closer to the core of our faith—our belief in the Blessed Trinity.  May the Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier protect, comfort, and guide us all! 

            Brother Matt Schaefer




Daily Reflection - Deacon Rusty Baldwin - 4/1/20


Learning to Pray

Deacon Rusty Baldwin

 

I don’t think it would be at all controversial to assert that, up until a few weeks ago anyway, we lived in a world with so much noise and activity, it was challenging to find either the time or a suitable place where we could spend some time with God.  Now that most of us have more time than we have ever had to do just that, we might be at a loss at how to start.

 

Well, everything I’ve read on prayer; all the articles and books as well as all the mp3’s and CD’s I’ve listened to have all suggested I do one simple thing.  Shut off the mp3’s and CDs, put down the books and just pray.  How?  By being silent before God.  By just placing yourself in His presence and be silent before Him.

 

But by and large we don’t know how to do that do we?  I know, maybe we could do a Google search on silence, maybe there’s a book to read that we haven’t read already, maybe there’s a talk we haven’t heard yet, or maybe, just maybe we could take G.K. Chesterton’s advice who said – if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.  By that he meant, sometimes we just need to start, however poorly we do in the beginning.

 

Once a group of nuns who wanted to learn to pray better wrote a letter to St. John of the Cross, a holy Carmelite mystic, and asked him for lessons on prayer, on tips for living a holy and Spirit-filled life.  Now, St. John had already spent considerable time with these nuns when he lived near their convent, and so he wrote back and said … No!  No more lessons, no more counsel – I have given you all you need.  It’s time to put what you have already learned into practice.

 

Sometimes we are so eager to know about prayer or about our faith or about whatever, we spend all our time learning ABOUT a thing and never get to the thing itself.

 

Well, that can be true about God too.  There comes a time when we need to stop trying to know all ABOUT Him and instead focus on KNOWING Him – on just being WITH Him.  We do that through prayer.  And we enter into prayer through silence.  That was the lesson the great prophet Elijah taught us on Mount Sinai; God was not in the storm, nor the earthquake, Elijah found God in the still small voice.  We enter into His presence through silence.  It is there we encounter God.

 

And so I think it is a very apt time, when our world has been turned upside down; that we realize that God is closest to us, that His Spirit moves in us and through us in ways we cannot fathom most especially when we come before him in docility, in silence, and in humility.  When we simply come before him, be still, and know that he is God.




Daily Reflection - Fr. Matt Keller - 3/31/20

In our scriptures today, the Israelites are being bit by saraph serpents and they are dying because they have been bitten.  In response God tells them to “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live”[1]  what is killing them, becomes a means of saving the lives of the Israelites.  Actually this image of saraph mounted on a pole is the symbol of the medical field.  What was a sign of death has become a sign of life.  This sign of death becoming a source of life, is what the cross was for the first Christians.  In the scriptures Paul says the message of the cross is foolishness.  How could this instrument of death be a symbol for life?  Yet in our faith we see the cross as a sign of life and love.


I am a Missionary of the Precious Blood and as a Missionary of the Precious Blood I am given privilege to wear “the mission crucifix and chain, which St. Gaspar gave his confreres as sign of the community”[2].  And I like to take advantage of this privilege, the most common time is on a Sunday you will see me in my cassock, cross, and chain.  Those that have seen me or another Missionary of the Precious Blood in this garb would notice how that our mission cross stands out.  This image of life and death a sign our God’s great love for us.  St. Gaspar would often invite his confreres to study the book of the crucifix.     


In my study of the book of the crucifix I encounter a Jesus wounded and broken.  At the same time I encounter the gift of our God’s love, mercy, and reconciliation.  So a time when I particularly like to wear my cassock, cross, and chain, is when I know that I will be hearing confessions face-to-face.  I wear the cassock, cross, chain, and the violet confession stole to me this is a sign of reconciliation and mercy, and a sinner comes bringing his or her brokenness.  It is here that sinner places his or her wounds in the wounds of Christ and experiences the healing power of our God.


As we journey through our day today let us draw near the cross with our own brokenness and experience the healing power of Christ in our lives.-Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.



[1] Numbers 21:8

[2] Normative Texts of the Society of the Precious Blood Cincinnati Province, (January, 2002), S2



Daily Reflection from Fr. Matt Keller - 3/29/20


Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died

  • Lord if you would have been here
    • These are Martha’s and Mary’s words of lament
      • Lord if you would have been here

But you know are not these also our words of lament as well

  • when we face times of tragedy and adversity
    • Lord if you would have been here
    • Lord if you would have been there my brother would not have not died
    • Lord if you would have been there the storm came it would have never caused damage and I would not have lost my home
    • Lord if you would have been the argument would not have gotten out of hand and my brother and I would still be on speaking terms
      • Lord if you would have been there 

Or when we are in the midst of adversity

  • Lord if you were here
    • You could calm the storm
    • Lord if you were  here you could heal all illness so that no one would die
      • I mean in the scriptures we hear that you healed those that were
        • Sick,
        • restored the sight to the blind,
        • open the ears of the deaf,
        • and even today we hear that you brought Lazarus back from the dead
          • Lord if you were here
          • Lord if you were here

You know when we are going through tough times of adversity it is so easy to feel as though the Lord has abandoned us.

  • For it is in our cries to the Lord for help at times like this it seems like the Lord is not hearing us
  • Or at least not answering in the way that we want or desire
  • Why?
    • To be honest I do not know
    • And to be honest I do not know if I want to know
    • I do not about but I think if did know I think it would even frustrate me more

 While God may not be stopping the storm, perhaps God is at work in the midst of the storm because sometimes it is from

  • the storm destruction that new life comes about
  • It from death that new life comes
    • For Martha and Mary this came from Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead

How is God at work in the midst of this storm of this COVID-19?

  • One way I see God at work in midst of this storm is that is has caused us to either slow down our lives or readjust our daily and weekly routines  
    • Prior to this storm many of live busy lives with
      • Work, school, sports, movies, social gatherings, etc.
  • We were so busy at times we did not have time for
    • For God and/or prayer
    • For family and those people most important to us
    • Or even have time for self-care
  • So much of what has kept us busy is no longer keeping us busy that we can make time for God and family
    • This virus I venture has gotten many of us to pray more
    • And how many families over the past two week, now have time to sit-down and share meals together
    • And now we given that time to take care of our personal needs
      • And this bringing about new life
      • Another way that I see God at work is in the way that people and companies are responding to needs, some manufactures have switched their line of production to help our current situation
        • breweries switching over to making hand sanitizer
        • and others switching to make face masks 

Many of us may not like the situation we are in now, myself included.

  • And you know it is so easy get so caught up on what has been taken away.
    • Sports, movies, social gatherings
    • Public celebration of the Mass
      • Fr. Angelo and I miss not having you here 
      • I mean let’s face it there are a lot of things that have either been postponed or canceled. 
        • And this feels like death.
          • We cannot wait to get back to the normal routine of life

But perhaps what we are also called to do during this time is try and positive being aware of the good that is happening in the midst of this storm

  • How new signs of life are coming up
  • Or better yet
    • how can I
    • how can you
      • be a sign of life to the people around you?

For it is our faith that we believe out of death that new life comes about.




From Rita Zimmerman - 3/27/20

Well the past several weeks have been challenging to say the least. Things were sailing along so smoothly, looking forward to Easter and spring, making plans for vacation and summer get gatherings, then the corona virus disrupts our entire world. I’ve been thinking about how I didn’t really appreciate going out to eat, or to a concert or getting together with family until I couldn’t do it anymore. How many things have I taken for granted for so long because they’ve just always been available to me. This has really come home to me with the bishops decision to cancel all liturgies for a few weeks. I enjoy attending daily Mass and find it is the perfect way to start my day, adding perspective to the ups and downs of everyday life. It helps me to remember that as a believer I know God is ultimately in control and will see me through whatever is going on. Now I can’t attend Mass. I’m grateful the church is open and I can spend some time in the presence of the Lord but I sure miss going to Mass. As this virus continues to disrupt life I hope I am mindful of all the blessings I have and take for granted. I want to put my faith into practice by remembering daily that God is in control and I need to do my part and know that he will do his.  -Rita Zimmerman



From Fr. Matt Keller - 3/26/20

The Day After the Annunciation 


Yesterday’s feast of the Annunciation is one of my favorites. With being home I had a little more time to celebrate the feast day with baking cinnamon rolls, having steak with my roommate for dinner and topping it off with a Trappist beer, which I only drink on solemnities! But today’s breakfast will return to a more simple bowl of granola and a piece of fruit. Leftovers are on the menu for dinner with no special ale in sight for awhile. The feasting will return to Lenten practices. I am back in the valley with no mountains to climb, which okay Shaughn, it’s Ohio. But you catch the biblical metaphor here right? 


It makes me wonder though how did Mary wake up the next day after she encountered Gabriel. Did it return back to a depressingly ordinary worried and frenzied life of tasks? Was it a gut check of realizing what she just said yes to? Or did she hear the birds singing before the sunrise differently? Were the stones she walked on in Nazareth different as she went to gather water for her family? Was she more pleasant with her neighbors? More loving? 


I love my recent discovery at St. Joseph that the stained glass windows of the Annunciation and the Resurrection are across from one another. At this point in Lent, especially this year, we may be tired and asking why we are still trying to follow Christ. Celebrating the Annunciation reminds us to repeat our own FIAT, our own yes, to this Lenten journey. Easter will be here soon! However the question is will we respond today to God’s invitation, back into the ordinariness of our lives, as Mary did? 




From Brother Matt Schaefer - 3/25/20


The Gift of Memories

            Since I’ve been at home so much the past week, I’ve been taking long walks every day.  I usually go across the street from where I live to the grounds behind Salem Heights, the motherhouse of the Precious Blood sisters.  Yesterday I noticed a long row of green plants about a foot high.  I recognize these from past years as the leaves of resurrection lilies.  Unlike other plants, these lilies do not produce flowers in the spring.  Instead, the leaves will die back in June and be mowed down with the grass.  But then in late July or August, stems will suddenly emerge from the ground, shoot up, and produce pale pink lilies.     

            Lent is always a season of anticipation.  It is a time to look inward, to strengthen our relationship with God, a time of deprivation.  We endure because we look forward to the joy of Easter.  We not only know it’s coming, we know the exact date.  This Lent has been very different for us because we’ve been unable to celebrate our faith in the same way we always have.  We miss our churches and worshipping with friends, and most of all we miss the Mass and the Eucharist.  Easter will come on April 12th, but it will still feel like a time of deprivation.  We’ll miss the full churches, the Alleluias returning like long-lost friends, and the communal sense of relief and joy that always permeates an Easter Mass. 

            I had a friend who went to college over a thousand miles from home.  His excitement quickly turned to homesickness which overwhelmed him for a time.  One of his professors told him that homesickness was a sign that he came from a loving family and a happy home.  This helped him gain some perspective and he realized how blessed he really was.  He could enjoy his new life at school, knowing that his real home would still be there when he returned. 

During this time of separation from our parishes take some time to reflect about what you are homesick for.  What do you miss?  The people, the music, the Blessed Sacrament?  We have three beautiful historic churches in our downtown area.  What is it about your church space that you like most?  The windows, a particular statue, the altar or sanctuary?  Whatever it is that you miss, take some time to thank God for the ways that these gifts have enriched your faith life.  The time will come when we can return to our parishes.  We don’t know the exact time, but it will appear, just like the resurrection lilies.  And while we wait, we can pray, trust in God, and anticipate the beauty to come.

Peace,

Brother Matt

From Deacon Rusty Baldwin - 3/24/20


Good Deeds


I call the Gospel reading from Mass today (John 5:1-16) the “No good deed goes unpunished Gospel.”  Why?  Jesus cures a man sick for 38 years and after finding out who it was that cured him, the man goes to the religious authorities, walking on the very legs Jesus cured, and rats Jesus out to the authorities!  No good deed goes unpunished!


But that didn’t slow Our Lord down in the least.  He continued to cure the sick.  However they treated him afterward, Jesus never stopped pouring himself out for them.  But that’s the very thing he came to do; what he intended to do all along:  “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

And even after he had died, while still hanging on the cross, he continued to pour himself out for us sinners.  How?  Do you remember the soldier who pierced his side with a lance and blood and water flowed out?  Lifegiving blood and cleansing water flowed from the side of Our Lord.  And that’s the connection, the fulfillment of the vision Ezekiel saw in the 1st reading (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12).


Ezekiel saw the temple of the Lord with water flowing from its side.  The water flowed from the east, the direction tradition tells us salvation comes from and the direction Our Lord will come from at the end of time!  The water started off as a trickle (Jesus pierced by a lance!) but soon became a river so deep it completed covered anyone who entered it.  The water purified everything it touched and brought forth much fruit!


The water, of course, is grace, the source of which is Our Lord’s body – the Temple of the Lord!  And where did the water of the temple flow?  Into the Araba, the desert, a place without water, that is, a place without grace.  And we haven’t even scratched the surface of the symbolism in this passage.


For instance, we are in the reading too!  We are the trees in the desert by the banks of the river, well-watered and bearing much fruit.  Providing shade for those being consumed by the heat of the desert of life as well as providing food for the hungry and medicine for the sick.


That is our calling, that is how we are to imitate Jesus who poured himself out for others.  Lent reminds us of this through the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and giving alms.  Lent reminds us that we who have been watered by the grace of baptism are to bear much fruit. 


So, how is it going?-Deacon Baldwin

3/24/20