My Dear Fellow Parishioners,
It was my great joy last Sunday to accompany 13 people from our parish, along with their godparents and families, to St. Julie Billiart Church in Newbury Park where they celebrated the Rite of Election with Bishop Robert Barron. This rite is an important ceremony, conducted on the First Sunday of Lent in every diocese of the world, with the adults, teens, and school-age children who will be baptized at the upcoming Easter Vigil.
After the Rite of Election, these candidates are referred to as the “Elect.” Our parish community is blessed this year to have 13 Elect: April Arguelles, Abigail Booth, Brittany Carruth, Shay Carruth, Joshua Castillo, Trinity Gunnels, Adan Guzman, Alonzo Guzman, Robert Henson, Daniel Mendoza, Isabel Mendoza, Alina Miller and Bryan Petrie.
Since the Rite of Election happened to fall this year on a 3-day holiday weekend, some of our Elect gave up family trips in order to celebrate the Rite. This speaks highly of their understanding of the importance of Baptism.
Sometimes we forget the importance of our own baptisms, perhaps because we were infants when carried to the font. The 40 days of Lent are designed by our Church, in her wisdom, to prepare not only the Elect for their baptisms at Easter, but to prepare all of us to renew our own baptismal promises, spoken long ago by our parents and godparents.
“Election” means choice. Our Elect have been chosen by God, as have we, to be disciples of Jesus and to embrace his mission as our own. Baptism is not meant to be just for our personal salvation. Rather, it is for the salvation of the whole world! We are baptized into the Body of Christ to be Christ's eyes, ears, mouth, heart, hands, and feet in the world today. We all have been given the gifts and talents necessary to continue Jesus’ mission, each in our own unique way and according to our particular circumstances.
May our Lenten practices this year help us to recognize our gifts in order to follow Jesus more closely and with greater generosity. During the coming weeks, let us journey together with our Elect to the waters of the font, eager to renew our mission as disciples!
Coordinator of Initiation
My Dear Parish Family,
Life-giving activities are from the Spirit of God. What are my life-giving activities? What are those things that make me the person God intended me to be? In today’s gospel from Mark, Jesus was in the company of adversaries and angels. It occurs to me that we have to have both. We cannot have a choice of one. If there is only one thing before us, we don’t choose one or the … same one; there is no choice there. Everyday all of us are surrounded by adversaries and angels, bad and good, and we do choose, sometimes
consciously, sometimes not.
Life has become so busy, so full, even in “down” time we are missing ourselves, and maybe even others close to us, in the daily buzz. In thinking about Lenten practices 2018, what to give up … what to add … Let’s search for what will help us keep Jesus at the center of our life.
Enter Lent … another genius of the Church. Somehow, those early church leaders knew we all would need an annual retreat. They knew it would take about 40 days. They knew we would need to hear, again, the stories of Jesus’ own struggles and encounters with human beings just like us.
Lent is a time for spring-cleaning, for getting our house in order, for inspection. Clear out the clutter – remove distractions. Clean the house – fast from dirt and disorderliness. Purge duplicates – give to people who need the things we store in our cupboards and closets. Make room for sacred space, prayer, time and space for relationship with Jesus and the people in our lives. Give something up as a spiritual practice of self-discipline, a small suffering aligned with Jesus’ incredible suffering. Care for the poor, especially the cold and the hungry.
Lent is a time to clean up our house, the one we live in and the one inside of us, the dwelling place. A suggestion: Write down all your daily activities. Discern those that are responsibilities and do your best with them. Discern those activities that do not give life and discontinue or severely curtail them, get help if needed, and finally, identify and embrace those activities that do give you life. Unleash what God had in mind for you. Embrace the angels.
What adversaries will we defeat? Let’s go for a 40-day cleanse and revisit Fr. Patrick's suggestions to fast (choose 1 or more) from: worry, judging others and negativity, pessimism and complaining, anger about things and hostility towards people, anxiety and bitterness, self-righteousness and grudges, greed and deceit, envy and arrogance.
Parish Life Minister
Parish Business Manager
In today’s Gospel Jesus worked his first miracle in Mark’s Gospel – and it’s a healing – no surprise there. The entire ministry of Jesus demonstrated His compassion for the suffering. He laid hands on lepers, restored sight to the blind, returned vitality to those whose limbs have failed them, and saved Peter’s mother-in-law from her fever. In well-fed cultures like ours, we may not appreciate how threatening fevers are to the malnourished, who don’t have the physical resources to feed the fever that fends off the infection. Fevers were often death sentences. Jesus, instructed of her fragility, moved directly to her aid, and with a touch, restored her completely.
Oh, to be able to lay hands and cure!
Even though we don’t have Jesus’ amazing powers, we can do the same good work as those attending Peter’s mother-in-law, in bringing Him to the afflicted. We do our best to see to it that those who are unable to join us on each weekend in person are still able to feel the Lord’s presence in their lives. To accomplish this, in our parish we have over thirty people, quiet heroes all, who do just that, bringing the Body of Christ to the sick and infirm.
I frequently note how deeply connected these ministers become to their charges, often accompanying them from home care, to hospital and convalescent care, all the way to their deaths, at times even attending their funerals. From personal experience, I can attest to the beautiful faith of our elderly and sick parishioners. I often feel that I receive more than those I visit, whose trust in, and love of the Lord is often so deep.
Those that do will often exhibit many other beautiful qualities of generosity, tenderness, prayerfulness and compassion. In effect, they resemble Jesus, at least to me.
This ministry is not for everyone. I encourage you to consider joining this marvelous company of Christlike, quiet heroes. You don’t have to be wise or eloquent. You do need a caring heart, but I bet that’s already true about you.
Give this service some deep thought.
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