There is often a bridge between the first reading and the gospel at our liturgy. This weekend is no exception. In the reading from 1st Samuel we have the delightful story of the young and obedient Samuel and his wise and patient mentor, the priest Eli, whose mother gave him into Eli’s care at a young age, dedicating him to the Lord in thanksgiving for her prayer for a son being heard and granted.
The Lord calls Samuel three times, but he thinks it is Eli calling him. After the third time, Eli tells him to respond to the call by saying “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The text goes on to say, “Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.”
Some of the gospel readings we heard during Advent precede the passage from John’s gospel in today’s liturgy. He calls himself a “voice crying out in the wilderness to make ready the way for the Lord.” He says he baptizes with water for repentance, but one we do not recognize is among us who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He denies being the Messiah, or Elijah, or the prophet. Today’s gospel takes place right around the same time. John tells two of his disciples upon seeing Jesus approaching “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” They (the two) heard and followed Jesus.
Jesus asks them “What are you looking for?” They answer with a question of their own “where are you staying?” Jesus says to them “Come, and you will see.” Andrew, one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus first went and found his brother Simon telling him “We have found the Messiah.” When Andrew brings Simon to Jesus, the Lord says, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
So there is a lot of calling happening in both these readings. God calls Samuel (who thinks it’s Eli calling him). John calls his disciples to recognize who Jesus is. Those two call on Jesus to tell them where he is staying, and Jesus calls them to come and see. Finally, Jesus calls Simon by the name Cephas which in Aramaic means the Rock.
Samuel was sleeping in the temple, in the presence of the ark of God when he was called. Can this be analogous to resting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, or just in silent listening prayer. Might we hear God’s call then and there too? How will we respond?
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SEEDS (Sisters ~ Embracing ~ Enlightening ~ Daughters of Faith) is a monthly evening of spirituality for women to meet in fellowship to share the Word of God and grow in faith.
We begin the new year with a new series: The Year of Saint Joseph - by Pope Francis and The Hidden Life of Saint Joseph.
Proclaim the Promise
Prepare for the celebrations of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection by celebrating reconciliation (penance, confession) with your community – a beautiful service followed by the opportunity for individual confession with one of twelve loving and understanding priests.
Bring a can for the food pantry and stay after for refreshments in the courtyard.
Also visit: Lent
Recently my mom shared with me that every night at dinner my dad recites his pandemic mantra: EGBOK, an acronym for Everything’s Gonna Be OK. My brother even gifted him a T-shirt with the mantra. I was intrigued so I did what any 21st century resident does...I googled it. EGBOK was the trademark phrase of the KABCAM morning radio show, The Ken and Bob Company. For nearly 20 years, day after day, hosts Ken Minyard and Bob Arthur encouraged their Southern California listeners with their motto: Don't worry, EGBOK. This became so popular that thousands of fans wore buttons as a reminder and a hostage of the 1985 TWA hijacking in Beirut credited his faith in God and EGBOK for his survival and release.
All during this Advent and Christmas, the theme of light and darkness kept coming up for me. Not just in scripture and homilies but in unexpected places. On December 21 we witnessed the “Christmas Star” better known as the Great Conjunction, the aligning of Jupiter and Saturn in the southwestern sky. This alignment of planets to form a single brighter “star” in the sky could very well be what the Magi followed in today’s gospel. They trusted this star to guide their long journey. They relied on its light in the night’s darkness. In fact, it was only in the darkness that the Magi could see the vibrant star better. They trusted this light would lead them to the newborn king of the Jews. And they arrived and found what was promised.
Even in our first reading from Isaiah we hear the great prophet talk about the light that symbolizes the promise of blessings for Jerusalem. He assures the people that no matter the darkness and thick clouds covering the earth the Lord will shine upon them. This radiant light will cause their hearts to throb and overflow, and so much goodness will come. And they experienced what was promised.
Today’s scripture, and really our faith, is all about light, God’s radiant light that is promised and given to us today, most especially in our earthly darkness. I dare say 2020 has been a year of darkness. The pandemic hovers over us like San Fernando Valley smog. It is ever-present, affecting our daily routines, mental health, employment, relationships, milestone celebrations, and holidays. It exacerbates the grief of a cancer diagnosis, a failed relationship, the death of a loved one, and so on. It fatigues us and blurs our vision of the good.
As it was for the Magi, the darkness is when we see Christ’s light best. In this pandemic darkness, Christ’s light assures us that this darkness of isolation and worry won’t last forever. It will be conquered. His light guides us, warms us, gives us hope that good will come, that everything’s going to be OK. Isn’t EGBOK basically our Christian faith? God’s promise is revealed in the Paschal Mystery. The darkness of Good Friday is conquered by the morning light of Easter and the hope of resurrection when we will enjoy the glorious light of heaven.
1920 - 2021
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Padre Serra Parish
New Year's Day Mass
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!
Do you know what is great about our Church? Although it may seem like Christmas ended on Friday night, our Church loves to celebrate Christmas for weeks, even after we’ve opened our presents and spent time with family. I know I probably write about this frequently, but it’s a good reminder for myself as well.
If we believe in the life changing fact that God became man for our eternal lives, we should extend the party even further! With such a huge event in our lives, it is worth taking time so reflect on the joy of the birth of our savior.
According to the liturgical calendar, Advent actually ends on Christmas Eve. But once that ends, we officially begin celebrating the Christmas season which ends with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, which is usually the second Sunday of January.
If the lays out this plan, how should we celebrate? That’s where the beauty of this time really shines, because it is absolutely up to you!
Daily devotions? Sure! Giving yourself an extra deadline to deliver gifts to loved ones? Of course! Baking Cookies in the shape of John the Baptist? Why not?! In whatever way you want to celebrate, feel free to do so. The goal is to hold onto the glory of the Incarnation beyond the scene of the Nativity. Joy should not be confined only within Christmas day. The birth of our Lord should encompass our lives every day of the year.
To be honest, this might be the year to really dive into the joy of our Savior. It’s not a well kept secret, but this year has been difficult. Why not give ourselves a reason to pursue joy even further?
This year, though, many of my Christmas letters have started with something along the line of “What a year this has been!” or “We’re all so glad in the Smith family that 2020 is coming to an end!” It’s clear that people haven’t been travelling, or celebrating with big family get-togethers and meals out. It has even noted that the included group photo was actually from last year. People say right up front just how much they miss everyone. Life and death finding a way regardless, baptisms, weddings, graduations and funerals have gone on, as I know firsthand. Often, though, with travel restrictions, if these important events happened at a great distance, they happened without us. Sigh.
There is an authenticity to this. The first Christmas, as portrayed in the Gospels, stripped of our romantic notions, was a story of hardship. Pregnant, completely worn out by travel, in a strange town, and displaced by the crowd, giving birth in a place where animals dwelt – this is no one’s dream of the birth of a baby. We only darken the picture further by pointing out that the Romans were as dark a plague on the face of the earth as the Coronavirus, and were displacing people so that they could know how much to tax their conquered neighbors.
Angels still found reason to sing about it. I hope that you are able to find reasons to sing about it, too.
No matter how dark the world can seem, how painful our bodies get, how much we have to struggle, we are loved by Emmanuel, God with us. Regardless of how politics unfolded, or international relations decayed, or raging wildfires consumed, we are loved by Emmanuel, God with us. In spite of rancorous debate on how to address the pandemic, or the struggle to educate children, and the terrible loss for business owners and employees, we are loved by Emmanuel, God with us.
Take that love seriously. In fact, bathe your weary hearts in that love, and carry on. Get in the procession with Joseph and Mary, far from home and comfort, and fearful for Mary’s health, and the baby’s, and maybe your own…and carry on.
Even in these days, I wish you a blessed and merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve Mass
Celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!
There will be Holy Communion after the 4:00 pm Christmas Eve Mass. Everyone is asked to park their car and walk to the gazebo in front of the church courtyard. Please maintain social distancing, and wear your masks over nose and mouth. When you have received, step well to the side, away from everyone else, before removing your mask and prayerfully receiving the Lord. If there are many communicants, there will be a second station on the other side of the large Tau cross out front. If you have mobility challenges, you may park in front of the cross, in the unloading area, and Communion will be brought to you.
Photo by Julius Acero
1924 - 2020
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Padre Serra Parish
They catch the spirit of joyful anticipation as they worship with us on Sundays. They are full of questions about the Advent wreath, the liturgical colors, and the meaning of the scriptures chosen for Advent. They learn the Catholic way of preparing for Christmas by watching online Mass and participating in works of charity like Angel Tags.
The Catholic-seekers among us can be models of wonder and awe for those of us who may have become a little less enthusiastic about the season. Invite your non-Catholic Friends and relatives to attend Mass on the Grass with you. It may refresh your sense of this meaningful time of year.
If you or anyone you know is interested in finding out more about the Catholic Church, please contact Catherine Shadduck at (805) 482·6417 x331 or email@example.com
Hospitality Ministers Needed
To make sure that we are all as safe as possible at Mass, we need ministers who are lovingly assertive as they're welcoming.
Duties are to ensure that people sanitize as they arrive, wear their masks properly, and maintain six feet distance from those outside their household.
We especially need people willing to serve at the 4:00 pm Masses on Saturday and Sunday.
If you'd be comfortable in this role, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Event Hospitality & Baking
Contact: Teresa Runyon
Ushers welcome us as we arrive to worship, helping us find our way around the worship space and into comfortable seats, facilitating our processions (especially at Communion), and handing out worship aids and bulletins. They also help all of us be responsible stewards by taking up the collection at the liturgy. Contact: Paul Collier
Thank You from Angel Tags!
Thank you to everyone who bought gifts or sent in donations for our Angel Christmas Gift program. Together $16,000 was donated in gift cards and donations plus all the gifts which allowed our parish to bring gifts to the RAIN shelter, the seniors at OASIS, the Ventura County Youth Facility, Immaculate Conception Parish in New Cuyama, St. Francis Parish in Fillmore, and San Salvador Mission in Piru. A special thank you to our Confirmation kids who collected Target gift cards for the Confirmation group in New Cuyama. They were so touched by your generosity.
Every year, our parish helps over 1,100 children and adults have a special Christmas morning. This year we are collecting gifts for RAIN, OASIS, Ventura County Youth Correctional Facility, St. Francis Parish in Fillmore, San Salvador Mission in Piru, and Immaculate Conception Parish in New Cuyama.
You can save a life! Watch for upcoming drives.
To schedule an appointment call (805) 543·4290
For more information please contact Catherine at (805) 482·6417 x331 or email@example.com
The Advent season gives us some wonderful scripture readings and this weekend’s seem particularly suited to the time in which we live.
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.
Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading may ring true or false depending on what our experience of 2020 has been, but when we hear it as part of the promise that the Lord would redeem Israel and in light of the reality of Jesus Christ’s presence and action in the world, the truth of it rings clear.
Do you ever succumb to the temptation (as I do) to put off necessary work and growth because of a complacent reliance on God’s mercy and patience? Today’s second reading can help us properly realign. The first part is an encouragement to trust God and to be patient as he is patient: “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
The next sentence deals decisively with the complacency I mentioned: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.” So, my friends, what we do and what we say matter: “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be?” “…eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.”
The mighty Advent figure John the Baptist we encounter in the gospel (this, year, Mark’s) proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John has a healthy understanding of his own place in the scheme of things and so should we. He is content to be a creature, not the Creator; a messenger, not the Message; a humble servant, not the Master.
Jesus sent the apostles out to preach the Gospel and to baptize (a mission given also to us by our baptism). We are sent as they were to “give comfort to my people”. May we embrace that call so that we can sincerely make the Advent cry “Maranatha”, “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”
Music and Liturgy Minister
1940 - 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
Padre Serra Parish
Not at this time
♪ Let every heart prepare him room ♪
We decorate our homes for Christmas. Even more important is readying our hearts, both for the Lord’s return at the end of time, and to celebrate His birthday.
Examine your life. Confess your sins. Trust the Lord’s mercy. Celebrate with joy.
Also visit: Advent
Dr. Paul Ford offers a weekly reflection and study of the upcoming Sunday scriptures so we can better understand the good news message of Jesus Christ and how He is present in our lives.
Until we can meet in person again, he will email a pre-recorded lesson each week.
or visit this page for each week's recording:
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