Sunday, January 31, 2021

Catholic Schools Week


Each year the last Sunday in January begins Catholic Schools Week.  The CSW 2021 - 2024 theme is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.” Catholic schools have a specific purpose to form students to be good citizens of the world, love God and neighbor and enrich society with the leaven of the gospel and by example of faith.
As communities of faith, Catholic schools instill in students their destiny to become saints.  Academic excellence is the hallmark of Catholic education intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person – mind, body and spirit.  Finally, service is fundamental to Catholic education and the core of Catholic discipleship.  Service is intended to help form people who are not only witnesses to Catholic social teaching, but also active participants through social learning.

The CSW logo emphasizes that the Catholic school, like the Catholic Church, is not a building or an institution, but it is the people. As the people of God, we work together to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth and raise up the next generation to do the same. The image of teachers and students forming the foundation of the school shows that they are active people of faith who serve others and God. May we all strive to live in active service of Jesus and his mission as we nationally join together during Catholic Schools Week and always.  May this week ahead be filled with many blessings for our Catholic School system.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Word of God Sunday

 On September 30, 2019, on the memorial of St. Jerome, Pope Francis announced that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time would be celebrated as the Sunday of the Word of God in his Apostolic Letter, “Aperuit illis: Instituting the Sunday of the Word of God.”

In the Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, we are reminded of the role of the Word of God in the life of the Church:  In the hearing of God's word the Church is built up and grows, and in the signs of the liturgical celebration God's wonderful, past works in the history of salvation are presented anew as mysterious realities. God in turn makes use of the congregation of the faithful that celebrates the Liturgy in order that his word may speed on and be glorified and that his name be exalted among the nations.

Whenever, therefore, the Church, gathered by the Holy Spirit for liturgical celebration, announces and proclaims the word of God, she is aware of being a new people in whom the covenant made in the past is perfected and fulfilled. Baptism and confirmation in the Spirit have made all Christ's faithful into messengers of God's word because of the grace of hearing they have received. They must therefore be the bearers of the same word in the Church and in the world, at least by the witness of their lives.

The word of God proclaimed in the celebration of God's mysteries does not only address present conditions but looks back to past events and forward to what is yet to come. Thus, God's word shows us what we should hope for with such a longing that in this changing world our hearts will be set on the place where our true joys lie (Preamble, 7).

As the Church celebrates the 3rd Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis launched an appeal to all the faithful to keep the Sacred Scriptures close at all times and to read them frequently.  “One of the greatest gifts of our time is the rediscovery of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church and the faithful,” he said at the Sunday Angelus address.

Let us always seek to keep the Word of God alive in our hearts and minds.  Bernadette Farrell in her song, Word of God, invites us to reflect on God’s Word alive in our world.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time


Today we celebrate the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Our readings continue with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season. Today’s reading from the Gospel according to John immediately follows John the Baptist's testimony about Jesus and his identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Having been baptized by John, Jesus begins to gather followers. The first followers sought out Jesus because of the testimony and witness of John the Baptist.

The first reading is taken from the first Book of Samuel 3:3b-10, 19 and gives an account of Samuel's vocation to take over the leadership of the Chosen People.  Samuel’s story is a familiar one where the young Samuel is sleeping and hears God calling him in the night.  Eli, the chief priest, told Samuel if he heard the voice again, he should respond, “Here I am, I come to do your will.”  The young Samuel did as he was instructed and followed the Lord’s instructions.

One of my favorite songs is this reading.  I remember when one of our sister’s introduced it to us and it has been a favorite of mine ever since.  The words are:

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Make of me what pleases you.

Here I am, here I am, Lord.

You spoke my name and beckoned me to come.  Before you now I stand to listen to your word.

You have the words of everlasting life.  If I should turn to you, to whom would I go?

What joy it is to stand amid your glory.  Let me always stay in your presence, O God.

Show me the path that you would have me walk, And give me grace to do what is good in your sight.

May we always follow Samuel's example and be open to the call of the Lord.

Here is a link to listen to the song:  Here I Am, Lord

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord


Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord's second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. Jesus descended into the River to sanctify its waters and to further his relationship with his heavenly Father.  The event takes on the importance of a second creation in which the entire Trinity intervenes.

In the Opening Prayer of our Liturgy, we hear: “Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

Let us pray this day for the grace to embrace the invitation of God’s will for us.  May we go forth in joy.  May we be led in peace.  May we know that God is with us, now and forever in all we do.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Epiphany of the Lord


Today we celebrate the first Sunday of 2021 and the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of the Messiah or the Savior of the world to all the nations and the peoples of the world. The visit of the Magi occurs directly before the story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. Matthew’s Gospel tells a version of 

Jesus’ birth that is different than the one in Luke. Of the actual birth of Jesus, Matthew tells us little more than, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod . . .” The story of the census is found only in Luke’s Gospel, but we hear about the visit of the Magi only in Matthew’s Gospel.

We know little about the Magi. They come from the East and journey to Bethlehem, following an astrological sign, so we believe them to be astrologers. We assume that there were three Magi based upon the naming of their three gifts. The Gospel does not say how many Magi paid homage to Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel, they represent the Gentiles’ search for a savior. Because the Magi represent the entire world, they also represent our search for Jesus.

We have come to consider the gifts they bring as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ role in salvation. Gold is presented as representative of Jesus’ kingship. Frankincense is a symbol of his divinity because priests burned the substance in the Temple. Myrrh, which was used to prepare the dead for burial, is offered in anticipation of Jesus’ death.

The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth.” Historically several moments in Christ’s early life and ministry have been celebrated as “epiphanies,” including his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, his baptism by John, and his first miracle at Cana.

Today as we sing the traditional hymn -- We Three Kings let us recall that these three represent all of us searching for Christ in faith.  May we do so in faith, hope and love.