50th Anniversary of the Annual Appeal

 A Time for Reflection

The theme of the 2019 Appeal is “Our Faith. Our Hope. Our Mission.” and is much different from a one-time special collection. It is a pledge campaign where you can make a gift, today, payable over ten months that will help support the ministries and mission of all our faith communities of the Church of Washington. Please find the Annual Appeal brochure and Frequently Asked Questions on our information table for your review.

This year, you can support the Annual Appeal many different ways. Many of you may have received a mailing in January that you can respond to. You can also support the Appeal online at adw.org or text “Give” to (301) 231-1816. We will also be providing the opportunity to support the Appeal at Mass over the next couple of weekends.

As in every year, 100% of your contribution to the Annual Appeal will be designated to the ministries and programs supported by the Appeal.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration and generous response.

Pray for our President

Tomorrow, January 18, is Presidents Day in the U.S. Please join us for Mass at 10 a.m. as we pray for our current and past presidents. If you’re like me, you have read different (and maybe even conflicting) things about the faith of our presidents and founding fathers. The following article from www.pewresearch.org (1/20/17) seems legit and accurate. It’s encouraging to me that more Americans want to hear about the religious beliefs of their leaders than those who don’t.

Pray for our president!

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

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“The U.S. Constitution famously prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office. Still, almost all of the nation’s presidents have been Christians and many have been Episcopalians or Presbyterians, with most of the rest belonging to other prominent Protestant denominations.

The nation’s new president, Donald Trump, certainly fits this pattern. Trump is the nation’s ninth chief executive to be affiliated with a Presbyterian church. Presbyterianism has its roots in England and Scotland and has been active in North America since the 17th century.

Even though he no longer regularly attends a Presbyterian church, Trump was raised a Presbyterian and still considers himself one, saying “my religion is a wonderful religion.” (As a young man in New York, he began attending Marble Collegiate Church, a Dutch Reformed congregation, and in recent years, he has been associated with Paula White, an evangelical megachurch pastor who will pray at his inauguration.)

The first Presbyterian to occupy the White House was Andrew Jackson and the last, before Trump, was Ronald Reagan. Both Jackson and Reagan had Scots-Irish ancestry. Trump’s mother immigrated to the U.S. from Scotland.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center shows that many Americans care about their leaders’ faith. For instance, half of all-American adults say it’s important for a president to share their religious beliefs. And more people now say there is “too little” religious discussion by their political leaders (40%) than say there is “too much” (27%).

Historically, about a quarter of the presidents – including some of the nation’s most famous leaders, such as George Washington, James Madison and Franklin Roosevelt – were members of the Episcopal Church, the American successor to the Church of England. Unitarians and Baptists (including Bill Clinton and Harry Truman) are the groups with the third-largest share of presidents, each with four.

Although Roman Catholicism has long been the nation’s largest religious denomination, John F. Kennedy remains the only Catholic president. And since Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, only one other Catholic, John Kerry, has been a presidential nominee on a major party ticket.

Two of the most famous presidents in American history had no formal religious affiliation. The first, Thomas Jefferson, lost his faith in orthodox Christianity at an early age, but continued to believe in an impersonal God as the creator of the universe. Jefferson famously edited the New Testament by removing references to the miracles and leaving in Jesus’ teachings.

The second, Abraham Lincoln, was raised in a religious household and spoke frequently about God (particularly as president), but never joined a church. Scholars have long debated Lincoln’s beliefs, including the question of whether or not he was a Christian, and some aspects of his faith remain a mystery.

Lincoln is not the only president for whom there is some uncertainty surrounding his affiliation and beliefs. Some presidents were more private than others about their religious leanings and some may have evolved in their beliefs during their life.

For example, Lincoln’s second vice president and ultimately his successor, Andrew Johnson, identified himself as a Christian, but never was formally part of a denomination or congregation. Another 19th century president, Rutherford B. Hayes, sometimes attended Methodist churches, but “moved among Protestant denominations during his life,” according to the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was raised in a nonreligious household but converted to Christianity as an adult and worshipped at a United Church of Christ congregation – Trinity United Church of Christ – in Chicago. However, Obama left Trinity during his first presidential campaign in 2008 after controversial statements by the church’s senior pastor, Jeremiah Wright, gained widespread attention. Today, Obama calls himself a Christian, but is not a regular churchgoer.”

We Are One Body

Did you know that there are Catholic commentaries on the Bible? These are books that help us to interpret passages, words, characters, and events in Sacred Scripture. We priests use these! The one that I use for homilies, Bible studies, and overall knowledge is called the Navarre Bible commentary. The series I have covers all of the books of the New Testament. It is an excellent source that can be trusted to interpret and illuminate sacred texts faithfully and fruitfully. To give you a sample, below is some of the Navarre commentary on the beginning verses of today’s second reading (1 Cor 12:12-30).

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg


“(verses) 12-13: In Greek and Latin literature, society is often compared to a body; even today we talk of ‘corporations’, a term which conveys the idea that the citizens of a particular city are responsible for the common good. St. Paul, starting with this metaphor, adds two important features: 1) he identifies the Church with Christ: ‘so it is with Christ’ (v.12) and 2) he says that the Holy Spirit is its life-principle: ‘by one Spirit we were all baptized…and made to drink of the Spirit’ (v. 13). The Magisterium summarizes this teaching by defining the Church as the ‘mystical body of Christ’, an expression which ‘is derived from and is, as it were, the fair flower of the repeated teaching of Sacred Scripture and the holy Fathers’ (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis).

‘So it is with Christ’: One would have expected him to say, So it is with the Church, but he does not say that […]. For, just as the body and the head are one man, so too Christ and the Church are one, and therefore instead of “the Church” he says “Christ” (St. John Chrysostom). This identification of the Church with Christ is much more than a mere metaphor; it makes the Church a society which is radically different than any other society:

‘The complete Christ is made up of the head and the body, as I am sure you know well. The head is our Savior himself, who suffered under Pontius Pilate and now, after rising from the dead, is seated at the right hand of the Father. And his body is the Church. Not this or that church, but the Church which is to be found all over the world. Nor is it only that which exists among us today, for also belonging to it are those who lived before us and those who will live in the future, right up to the end of the world. All this Church, made up of the assembly of the faithful – for all the faithful are members of Christ – has Christ as its head, governing his body from heaven. And although this head is located out of sight of the body, he is, however, joined to it by love’ (St. Augustine).

The Church’s remarkable unity derives from the Holy Spirit who not only assembles the faithful into a society but also imbues and vivifies its members, exercising the same function as the soul does in a physical body.

‘All were made to drink of one Spirit’: given that the Apostle says this immediately after mentioning Baptism, he seems to be referring to a further outpouring of the Holy Spirit, possibly in the sacrament of Confirmation. It is not uncommon for Sacred Scripture to compare the outpouring of the Spirit to drink, indicating that the effects of his presence are to revive the parched soul; in the Old Testament the coming of the Holy Spirit is already compared to dew, rain, etc.; and St. John repeats what our Lord said about ‘living water’ (Jn 7:38; cf. 4:13-14).

Together with the sacraments of Christian initiation, the Eucharist plays a special role in building up the unity of the body of Christ. ‘Really sharing in the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up in communion with him and with one another. ‘Because the bread is one, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread’ (1 Cor 10:17). In this way all of us are made members of his body (cf. 1 Cor 12:27), ‘and individual members of one another’ (Rom 12:5)’ (Lumen Gentium, 7).”

Mary Across the Books of the Bible

Here is a succinct and potent reflection from Stephen Beale at https://catholicexchange.com about the wedding feast of Cana (today’s Gospel). These are points that you have heard from me before because they are so illuminating vis-à-vis this passage and the continuity of Scripture.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

When it comes to Mary in the Gospels, John 2:4 is a real head-scratcher.

It’s the wedding at Cana and the wine has run out. When Mary informs Jesus, here is the startling reply: Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.

It doesn’t sound like any way to talk to your mother, let alone any ‘woman’ for that matter. But many interpreters, including many evangelical Protestants, take this verse on face value, concluding it is some kind of rebuke. One well-respected evangelical scholar, D.A. Carson, takes it this way, suggesting that Jesus is putting some distance between Himself and Mary and signaling that He starts His ministry on His initiative alone.

Mary is mediator at Cana

Not only does this reading grate against the Church’s teaching on Mary, it also is completely at odds with the context. There are two glaring facts that argue for another reading. First, Mary does not shrink back as if chastised. Instead, she boldly charges off to the servants telling them to do whatever Jesus tells them. Not only is this not the behavior of someone who has just been chastised but it indicates that Mary expected Jesus to take action: she took his statement as a positive response to her request.

Was Mary right?

Well, we next see Jesus changing water into wine. This confirms her reaction.

Far from diminishing the stature of Mary, this confirms her role as a mediator and intercessor on our behalf with Christ…

Mary’s intercessory role is further confirmed in the very beginning of the Cana account. As John Paul II notes, Jesus’ appears to have been invited to the wedding by virtue of his association with Mary. Indeed, Jesus and his disciples are listed as guests after Mary. It is through Mary that Jesus comes to us. As radical as this may sound, it is simply a working out of the truth of the Incarnation itself.

And this is not just some random moment of John’s gospel. It is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

And there’s more.

Mary: from Cana to the Cross

The word that at first blush seems derogatory—woman—turns out to be steeped in meaning.

Our first clue comes in the second sentence, in which Jesus mentions that His ‘hour’ has not come. To the uninitiated reader, Jesus’ reference to timing might seem to reinforce the anti-Marian interpretation: Now is not really a good time. But ‘hour’ in the gospel of John, when not referring to a specific hour of the day (such as the “tenth hour” in John 1:39), is always a symbolic reference to Jesus’ death and hidden exaltation on the cross (His ‘last hour’ if you will).

The word ‘hour’ thus connects this moment—this beginning of His public life—to its climax on the Cross. Now, Mary’s intercession takes on even greater significance: it sets off the chain of events that lead right to the Cross. In John 19, we see Mary at the foot of the Cross—she has not receded into the background. She has not decreased as Christ as increased because she is not in competition with her son (as Catholic scholar Matthew Levering well notes in his new book Mary’s Bodily Assumption). Instead, at the foot of the cross, Mary’s connection with Christ’s saving work is confirmed.

And, at the crucifixion, Jesus happens to again address her as ‘woman’—this time in the context of making provisions for her to stay with the Beloved Disciple. (By the way, this tender moment further argues against taking ‘woman’ to be a derogatory term.) This reminds us again of Mary’s intercessory role at Cana. And it reminds us of this role at a crucially important moment.

Mary as the new Eve

But why is Mary addressed as ‘woman’ in the first place? Besides linking Cana to the cross, what does this form of address itself mean?

John Paul II notes that the word ‘woman’ recalls the prophecy in Genesis 3:15, in which Eve is described in similarly anonymous language: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.

Mary as Woman

To call Mary ‘woman,’ then alludes back to this passage, which is sometimes called the protoevangelium—or proto-gospel—because it looks forward to Christ. As John Paul II notes, “By his redemptive death Jesus Christ conquers the evil of sin and death at its very roots.” But, as Genesis 3:15 makes clear, this cosmic drama between Christ and Satan also involves another person involved: ‘woman.’ In addressing Mary in this way, then, Christ is confirming her universal role is this conflict between heaven and hell.

Suffice it to say, in terms of Marian theology, this connection to Genesis 3:15 is enormously important. The typological connection between Mary as the new Eve has bearing upon just about every Marian teaching of the Church.

To take just one example, consider the Immaculate Conception, the dogma that Mary was spared the stain of original sin. How does her status as the new Eve figure into the picture here? As strange as it sounds, it is a biblical fact that Adam, Eve, and Mary are the only three human beings ever to have been born without original sin. Remember, original sin came after the first sin of Adam and Eve. Just as Eve was without the stain original sin, so also was Mary, thanks to the pre-emptive intervention of Christ.

Sacraments of Initiation

  • Have you been confirmed?
  • Made your first Holy Communion?
  • Do you or someone you know need to be baptized?

A pastor at a nearby Catholic parish once asked his people these questions. He was asking more to double-check that everyone in his parish had received all three of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist). He didn’t expect many of his parishioners who have been filling the pews of his parish for decades to let him know that they still needed to be confirmed. Some even needed to be baptized! He was surprised – pleasantly, I guess – that twenty or thirty people came to the classes at the parish in order to be confirmed, etc. He seemed quite happy to be able to have the conversation with these courageous folks not just about the sacraments, but about faith and life in general. He was a proud spiritual papa!

So, of course, I will ask you all the same questions. If you need to be confirmed or baptized or make your first Holy Communion, then please attend our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes starting this Wednesday, January 16, 6:30 pm in the rectory. The “classes” are more like discussions that I will lead every Wednesday night until Easter. We’ll use a book that will be a very good resource for you and will help facilitate our discussions on Catholic teachings and practices. As you might have noticed, I don’t like to waste anyone’s time, so our talks will be informative and substantial, but not boring. There won’t be any tests; we just need your commitment to attend the meetings. Even if you don’t need to receive any of these sacraments, it would be good to attend the discussions and learn more about your Catholic faith. RCIA is usually for adults who are preparing to become Catholic. But even these non-Catholics have said that every Catholic should attend RCIA classes!

Here are some of the notes from the discussion on Baptism which line up with what comes from the readings for today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Isaiah 40:1-15, 9-11, Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7, and Luke 3:15-16, 21-22):

What do we receive at Baptism?

Life in Christ

“the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he richly poured out on us

through Jesus Christ our savior” (Titus 3)

Indwelling of the Holy Trinity

“I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28)

Grace

“The grace of God has appeared…so that we might be justified by his grace and become

heirs in hope of eternal life” (Titus 2-3)

● Faith

“For all of you are children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since

every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ” (Galatians 3)

● Forgiveness of sins

“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 40)

● Gifts of the Holy Spirit

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 3)

● Incorporation into the Church, the Body of Christ

“For by one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body” – 1 Cor 12:13

● An indelible spiritual mark

“Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging

to Christ. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.” (Catechism, # 1272)

Christ is born!

Fr Greg our last men’s group,

Epiphany: Christ Is Revealed

We hear the word “epiphany” mentioned occasionally in the secular world. Recently, I heard the hosts on a sports talk radio show say that the Redskins owner needs to have an epiphany about the state of the football team. No arguments here! We also hear words similar to epiphany such as “Aha moment” and “light bulb went on”. We understand these to mean that it is an awareness or realization of something for the first time, and usually is very powerful. In today’s feast of the Epiphany, we refer to the visit of Christ by the Magi with words like manifestation and revelation. It’s the same concept as awareness and realization, and it means that Christ has been revealed and the three kings realize who he is.

Last year, I gave you the following epiphany formula for the Magi (and for us):

● God will show you a star – something or someone that will lead you to where He is.

● God will reveal Himself to you in a personal and profound way.

● Do Him homage.

● You will be overjoyed in your encounter with Him.

● Offer Him gifts (e.g., your life as gold)

● Go home a different way (i.e., change your life)

Allow me to focus on the first one – God showing a star (a sign). I’m friends with a young woman and her family. She was raised strongly Catholic but has faced a few road bumps in college with her faith. God sent her a star: a young religious sister who has actually been a long-time friend of her family’s. This nun called her out of the blue weeks ago to invite her to a conference with thousands of other Catholic college students in January. She accepted and is currently at the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) conference in Indianapolis with 17,000 other college students. Yes, 17,000!

This young woman is looking for a sign like the Magi were. If she wasn’t, she would have politely declined the Sister. She has made a pretty serious commitment over her Christmas break. First, she is traveling to and from Indy on a bus with students from another university. That’s bold socially and spiritually! Second, she will be spending a few days with thousands of others doing Catholic stuff continuously – Mass, Adoration, Confession, talks, workshops, etc. It will be uber Catholic. She won’t be the only one there struggling with her faith, of course. But, the vast majority will be strong believers as well as many youth leaders of faith.

For what is she looking? In other words, what is her star? My guess is that her star will be a reason(s) to believe. Another way to say it is she is looking for evidence. She is very smart, and is looking for evidence that this whole thing about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church is for real. She needs to see it for herself. Her parents or priests or even that nun can tell her there was a star, but she needs to see the evidence for herself. She needs to make it her own. And believe me, that conference is custom-made for very intelligent college students like her who need to see in order to believe. I have great confidence that when we speak next, she will tell me about the star she saw that led her (back) to Christ. Her initial star in all of this, of course, was the Sister who invited her to the conference. See what happens when we simply invite people!

God is calling each of us to be a star to someone else. If that isn’t clear to you now, it will be soon. He will use you to be that sign for someone else to have an epiphany about His Son. He has done this for the past 2,000 years. Go back up to the formula of the Epiphany and remember how this happened for you. He used someone else to be a sign for you, and you have done Him homage and been happily changed ever since. He wants you to be the main player in someone else’s Epiphany. He wants you to be a star!

Christ is born!

Fr Greg

Do not delay

I was away last week making my annual retreat and was praying for you and your families. Please enjoy the following reflection on today’s Gospel (Luke 1) from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, at saltandlighttv.org.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

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There are two aspects of today’s Visitation scene to consider. The first is that any element of personal agenda of Mary and Elizabeth is put aside. Both had good reason to be very preoccupied with their pregnancies and all that new life brings. Both women had a right to focus on themselves for a while as they made new and radical adjustments to their daily lives.

Mary reaches out to her kinswoman to help her and also to be helped by her. These two great biblical women consoled each other, shared their stories, and gave each other the gift of themselves in the midst of the new life that they must have experienced: Elizabeth after her long years of barrenness and now sudden pregnancy, and Mary, after her meeting with the heavenly messenger, and her “irregular” marriage situation and pregnancy.

The second point to consider is Mary’s quick response and movement. Luke tells us that she undertook “in haste” the long and perilous trek from Nazareth to a village in the hill country of Judea. She knew clearly what she wanted and did not allow anyone or anything to stop her.

In his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, St. Ambrose of Milan describes this haste with a difficult Latin phrase, “nescit tarda molimina Spiritus Sancti gratia,” which could mean: “the grace of the Holy Spirit does not know delayed efforts,” or “delayed efforts are foreign to the grace of the Holy Spirit.” Mary’s free choice to move forward and outward reflects a decision taken deep within her heart followed by immediate action.

Procrastination

How many things exist in our lives that we dreamed of doing, should have done, and never did — letters that should have been written, dreams that should have been realized, gratitude that was not expressed, affection never shown, words that should have been spoken, etc.? Postponements and delays weigh heavily upon us, wear us down and discourage us. They gnaw away at us. How true St. Ambrose described Mary’s haste: The Spirit completely possessed the Virgin Daughter of Nazareth and compelled her to act.

The story of the Visitation teaches us an important lesson: When Christ is growing inside of us, we will be led to people, places and situations that we never dreamed of. We will bear words of consolation and hope that are not our own. In the very act of consoling others, we will be consoled. We will be at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life and issues seem to be, from them Christ is forming himself.

The women of today’s Gospel show us that it is possible to move beyond our own little, personal agendas and engage in authentic ministry and service in the Church. Ministry and service are not simply doing things for others. Authentic Christian ministers and servants allow themselves to serve and be served, taught, cared for, consoled and loved. Such moments liberate us and enable us to sing Magnificat along the journey, and celebrate the great things that God does for us and His people.

Consider these words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997):

“In the mystery of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First of all, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then, she shared what she had received. Every time we receive Holy Communion, Jesus the Word becomes flesh in our life — gift of God who is at one and the same time beautiful, kind, unique.

“Thus, the first Eucharist was such: Mary’s offering of her Son in her, in whom he had set up the first altar. Mary, the only one who could affirm with absolute confidence, ‘this is my body,’ from that first moment offered her own body, her strength, all her being, to form the Body of Christ.”

 

“Bellezza” (“Beauty”) by an Italian religious sister

…God looked upon a woman and loved her,

And he who loves even before looking at the face

Seeks the beauty that lies in the heart.

God looked upon a woman who was from the race

Of the little ones without name,

Those that live far away from palaces.

Those who work in kitchens,

Those who come from the numbers of the humble and the forgotten,

Those that never open their mouths and who are accustomed to poverty.

God looked upon her and found her to be beautiful,

And this woman was joined to him as if she were his beloved — For life and for death.

From now on all generations will call her blessed.

God looked upon a woman. Her name was Mary.

…and if you looked upon her Lord, it is because on Our earth filled with women and men, you found such beauty.

Gaudete Sunday–Rejoice

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Every third Sunday of Advent, the Church rejoices. This is known as “Gaudete Sunday”, which uses the Latin word for “rejoicing”. But, we’re still in the season of Advent, a penitential season. We are still in preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this way, the Lord is not here. Why are we rejoicing? Because “the Lord is near”.

My brother and his family are rejoicing because my nephew Ryan, their oldest child, is returning home for Christmas break soon after spending almost the entire semester at college. They are so happy that his return home is near. So many people will have the exciting experience of picking someone up from the airport for the holidays that they haven’t seen for so long. One of the best examples, though, of rejoicing at the nearness of someone’s arrival is a new baby. Of course, that is what we do at Christmas: welcome the baby Jesus. Waiting for a new baby might be the preeminent experience of being excited for someone’s near arrival. To use a phrase from today’s Gospel (Luke 3), we are “filled with expectation” throughout the Advent season for the arrival of our Lord.

This is what the Church is doing for us today by giving us “Rejoicing Sunday”. She reminds us the reason for the season which is the coming of the Lord. “The Lord is near!” While we will still endure the remaining days of Advent, we are uplifted by the announcement that the Lord is close. As we pass the halfway point and head for the home stretch, the Church gives us encouragement. “The Lord is near!”

For some, hearing that Advent is halfway over may be more of an alarm than a sound for rejoicing. They might be asking what the crowds asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?” If you feel that you haven’t been tuned into Advent yet and want to finish strongly, the first thing I would say is what St. Paul wrote, “have no anxiety at all”. This in general is easier said than done, I know. But, be at peace. The Lord has given us much practical advice through the sacred authors in today’s readings for the remaining part of our Advent journey:

1. PRAY EVERY DAY:make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”

2. DONATE TO THE OUTREACH CENTER:whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise

3. GO TO CONFESSION:Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

Regarding the third suggestion, it seems to me that more people here are going which is awesome. We had a beautiful and inspiring turnout on Wednesday night for the Penance Service. Overall, more parishioners here are responding to the words of St. John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord through repentance and forgiveness of sins. And, as I’ve been saying to you for three years now, an increase in frequency in the Sacrament of Confession is an increase in freedom. This means that Confession helps us to be free from sin and more fully enjoy a clean house in preparation of the Lord’s Coming, but also it means to be free to be the people we truly want to be.

Gaudete Sunday is special for me here every year because I rejoice in being your pastor. I echo the Lord’s sentiments of you through the prophet Zephaniah: “The Lord, your God …will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals”. I sing joyfully because of you throughout the year but especially upon Advent reflection and universal rejoicing today. “I shall say it again: rejoice!”

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Cry Out to Him in the Confessional

The end of the liturgical year–the feast of Christ the King

Today the Church concludes the liturgical year with the glorious feast of Christ the King. Historically, this feast was instituted for Catholics to remember that Christ reigns over all earthly rulers, kings, presidents, governments, movements, cultures, and societies. It is a good reminder to us Catholics with all that is going on in our Church and in the world. Francis is pope, Trump is president, but Christ is King!

Below are excerpts from a Q & A with Fr. Rick Poblocki from www.thestationofthecross.com about this feast.

May you know the peace of Christ the King,

Fr Greg

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What does the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, celebrate?

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is celebrated on the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. It recognizes the messianic Kingship and eternal Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This idea appears and is repeated in all prayers and readings of the day, and especially in the public recitation of the indulgenced prayer, The Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. This feast is sometimes called “Solemnity of Christ the King.”

What kind of a Feast is the celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe?

The Feast of Christ the King is a Solemnity, a Feast of the highest rank. This Solemnity is also a type of celebration known as an idea feast. Idea feasts direct our attention to some specific truth about Our Lord.

What specific truth is taught about the Lord Jesus Christ in the Solemnity of Christ the King?

The celebration of Christ the King directs our attention to Jesus Christ as Universal king and Eternal Priest.

What other examples of idea feasts are there?

Other examples of idea feasts are the Solemnities of the Lord in Ordinary Time, which include the Solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Corpus Christi), and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

How are idea feasts different from celebrations like the Transfiguration, Christmas, or Easter?

The difference between the two types of celebrations is simple: idea feasts celebrate a specific truth about Jesus Christ, while feasts like the Transfiguration, Christmas, and Easter celebrate an event that occurred in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ…

There are 9 characteristics of Christ’s Kingdom:

Christ’s Kingdom is eternal and universal, because Christ, God, and man encompasses all.

Christ’s Kingdom is of truth and life, while this world’s “kingdoms” are often built on lies and spiritual death.

It is a Kingdom of holiness and grace, in contrast to the secularism and godlessness that so often characterizes life on earth.

It is of justice, love, and peace, as opposed to a world where people are deprived of what what is justly theirs and are often hurt by the selfishness and injustice of others.

Christ’s rule demands that we render to others what they have a right to (justice), and that we treat others as we would want ourselves to be treated (love). Only when people treat each other justly, and when we treat each other the way we would like to be treated, will there be true peace.

This comes with a change of heart only Christ can bring about by His saving work on the Cross. No system of atheism, anticlericalism, secularism, or laicism will ever change a human heart and prepare a person for eternal union with God – only Christ can! Of course, this leads us, along with the angels in Heaven to proclaim: “Holy, Holy, Holy…”

Are there any signs and indicators that Christ is reigning as King in my life?

The clearest sign of Christ’s Presence and Kingly Rule within you is:

•The inspiration to set aside or deny yourself anything you know or realize is displeasing to Him.

•When you choose to deliberately reject any desires, urges, wishes, or drives that stand in the way of what needs to be done in order for you to possess Him, love Him, and serve Him.

These are clear signs of Jesus’ Presence and Kingly rule of your heart in your personal life and experience!

¡Viva Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!