Can we ever be grateful enough? I don’t think so. Please know with certainty that one of my greatest points of gratitude is for you parishioners, for your goodness, for your support. I hope you have a longer list than mine. Consider making your own list. It lifts your heart!
May you have a lovely Thanksgiving, free of political discord, and full of affection, good food, and gratitude to the Lord, who makes all things possible.
Dear friends on the journey,
As we come to the end of our liturgical year next week and look forward to Christmas, we have gospels like today’s that look to the end of time when Jesus will return again and how we should prepare ourselves.
Today’s gospel sure paints a grim picture but we have to remember the context. Luke, taking inspiration from Mark’s writings, is describing Jesus’ already fulfilled prophesy of Jerusalem’s temple destruction in 70 AD, however the rest is to still to come “at an hour we do not know.” But Jesus tells us not to be terrified, to stand tall and persevere.
When our current view of life and experience of the world looks so much like the gospel’s bleak description of war, earthquakes, fire, famine, and persecution how can we possibly persevere and stand tall. Some days it feels like the end of the world and we wonder where God is in all of this. The big picture can be daunting. Hand in hand with the guarantee of pain, suffering and destruction is Jesus’ promise of God’s mercy, care and love for all of us collectively and individually.
This semester I am taking a class on one of our many Catholic spiritualities, Ignatian Spirituality, based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Very simple the focus of his spirituality is finding God in all things and one of his many exercises to do this is the Examen. It narrows the big picture into smaller, less overwhelming picture of our own lives. This simple reflective prayer, done even in 10 minutes at the end of the day, is a look back on your day to see where God was working and moving.
In five prompts you can find God’s presence, recall moments for which to be grateful, discern emotions and actions, review encounters that indicate the need for improvement, and look forward to another day.
I offer the Examen as a way of finding God in all ways of your daily living, whether it be in a season of easy going, a season of strife, and in this imperfect culture and impermanent world that is counter to the eternal life God promises us. This exercise provides a lens through which we see and experience God’s ever active love that helps us to not fear, to stand tall and to persevere in the here and now of life, as we celebrate Jesus’ coming this Christmas, prepare for his coming at the end of time, and most especially experience his presence among us now.
Faith Life Minister
At this time of year the daylight hours grow shorter as the nights become longer and colder. Leaves drop from the trees which seem to go into a suspended period of dormancy. And here in California, raging winds with their accompanying wildfires have become the “new normal.” These natural forces can turn our thoughts to the death of our loved ones, our own inevitable death and even to wondering about the end of the world. Many cultures, past and present, have customs, observances or rituals in the fall to deal with these realities, to remember departed loved ones and even to laugh at death.
The Church, in her wisdom, gives us HOPE at this time of year by focusing on resurrection and on God’s immeasurable love, mercy and faithfulness. As the liturgical year comes to an end over the next three weeks, the scriptures read at Mass may seem at first to be frightening and ominous, but their message is ultimately about God’s gift of eternal life. As Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, God “is not God of the dead but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
The Resurrection is foundational to our Christian faith. At the end of the Apostle’s Creed, which we recite on Sunday, we say that we “believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” Jesus’ resurrection is a promise of eternal life for all of us.
How do you imagine heaven will be? With our human limitations of understanding we use terms like paradise, banquet, clothed in white robes, shining like stars, being like angels, bathed in pure light. Or we think that heaven will be a better version of this life. But the life that God has in mind for us is beyond anything we can imagine!
For me, the most meaningful expression of heaven is this: God is LOVE and has loved us all into being. Ultimately we will be enfolded by the loving arms of God, Father, Son and Spirit, into their perfect bond of eternal love. What an existence that will be!
1932 - 2019
Friday, November. 8, 2019
Padre Serra Parish
5205 Upland Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
1935 - 2019
Monday, November 18, 2019
Padre Serra Parish
5205 Upland Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
If anyone needs to hear and be reassured that they are loved by our good God, we hope that you were listening to today’s readings. If you weren’t really paying attention or if in the future you ever feel alone or unloved, these are great readings. In them we heard the fact that God is OUR CREATOR, that God has a never-ending love for us, we heard of God’s mercy and gentleness with sinners, and of God’s constant reaching out, searching for us, of God’s desire for us to know that we are loved.
In the first reading we heard of God’s love for ALL things that are and that God dislikes nothing that God made, that includes all of us! The unbelievable hugeness and allinclusive love God has for all of us no matter where we are or what we have done are the themes of today’s readings and our belief that the Scripture is God’s very own Word should give us strength and courage to face what we have to, what we need to do, to live our lives as disciples of Jesus.
God always desires to be in a relationship with us; He created us, and He wants to be a part of all we do. Sue and I have been married for 52 years and we have held hands many times during those years, it feels right and good. But all those many years ago I can still recall the feelings of being scared as I reached for her hand for the first time, what if she pulled away, what if she didn’t feel the same way I did. For many couples holding hands is their first experience of sharing intimacy, and it was for us. Before that first kiss, before even a hug, almost always comes that simple act of holding hands. In that grasp of hands lies the foundation of most relationships.
Now we go back and remember our readings today, the message that God reaches out and desires to be in relationship with us. From our first reading we heard proclaimed, “Oh Lord, lover of souls,” lover of all of us. God desires this relationship but never demands it. Instead God comes slowly “courting” us, quietly making his presence known in our lives, reaching out to hold our hands, patiently waiting for us to respond. As we heard in the Gospel with Zacchaeus, when we turn our gaze toward God our life changes, our life of faith begins. When we accept God’s offer of life and love, we are converted and transformed, our lives will never be the same again because our Creator and Lover is holding our hands.
Jesus came to Zacchaeus that day. Jesus comes to us today and salvation is always available to us as a reality that can enter our lives at any time if we only respond with a “yes” as we look back at that loving Jesus who is constantly looking at us. Did Zacchaeus even know that the power to make such a change in his life was in his heart? Do we? The power of Jesus’ gaze at each of us has the power to transform us beyond our wildest imagination!
Jesus asks if today he can dine at your home, knowing what that can mean in your life, what is your answer? Are we willing to take hold of Jesus’ hand and begin that relationship?
Deacon Bill and Sue Spies