Lent: A Season of Faith

When I was first in parish work, I remember the parish priest talking with the schoolchildren about the topic of Lent and prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. He asked them if any of them knew what fasting was. After a very long wait, one student raised his hand and said, “It is what I do when my Mom is mad at me. I run really fast!” The adults in the assembly burst into laughter.

Laughter is good. However, the Lenten devotions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are very serious practices for us as we prepare to celebrate the Easter mysteries.

As our catechumens prepare for the Easter sacraments, we are called by the Church to model what it means to be a Catholic Christians. We are called, especially during this Lenten season, to pray, fast, and give from the wealth we have to those who need our assistance.

This season is not merely a season of obligation to act more intently as God calls us to act; it is a season of opportunity to practice the foundation of our faith more attentively: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

The Resurrection of the Lord

On behalf of our entire staff at Assumption, I wish you and your family a blessed Easter! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Parish Launches Street Evangelization

Recently, we embarked on our maiden voyage into the waters of street evangelization. It was an exciting and fruitful two hours that we spent at Congress Heights metro station, talking with people about faith and distributing materials like rosaries and miraculous medals. We personally invited over fifty people to our church especially for Holy Week liturgies. It was all good!


Well, maybe not all good. One man told me he was a Methodist, but didn’t celebrate Easter because he didn’t believe in the Resurrection. He stated that “thousands of people saw Jesus die but only three saw him rise. That should tell you something.” I tried to tell him that that number rose to 12 and then 500 as Scripture says. It has grown to millions and billions in the past two thousand years. He gave some other reasons why he doesn’t believe, but they were given in anger and profanity. It seemed that his problem was more personal than spiritual actually.

What would you say?

Nevertheless, if you were evangelizing (sharing the Good News) with someone on the street, how would you reply if they said they didn’t believe in the Resurrection? You can give the traditional points of evidence from Scripture – empty tomb, burial cloths and garments, belief and witness of the Apostles and disciples. I told the man that the witness of the Apostles is huge. All but one of the eleven gave their lives because they believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and died as martyrs for the faith.

Tell your story

But really, the best way to evangelize is through personal experience. If I had had more time with the man, I would have talked about knowing the risen Christ, and having a relationship with him today. If we speak again, I will tell him about all of the evidence at Assumption that Christ is risen.

First and foremost, it would be the joy of our parishioners. You all believe that Christ is risen, that life triumphs over death, that we all have the hope of eternal life, and you show it! Your joy would quickly melt away any sadness or anger of his or others.

It all starts at Mass

There are so many more ways that our parish shows its faith in the Resurrection. As with everything, this starts at Mass. We kneel before the risen Christ in the Eucharist and whisper the words of St Thomas, “my Lord and my God” (btw, Mass attendance is up). Think specifically about healing Masses, though. You come forward to receive blessings for healing with the faith that Christ will bring healing to your wounds, peace to your burdens, and joy to your sadness. It’s really the faith that Christ has power over all things; if he can overcome death, he can overcome anything in your life!

One visit to the Pope Francis Outreach Center reveals the faith in the risen Christ of this parish. You firmly believe that Christ lives in the poor (cf. Mt 25), and you feed him accordingly. This and so many other aspects of your witness to the Resurrection are greatly in sync with what Pope Francis has said:

“The message which Christians bring to the world is this: Jesus, Love incarnate, died on the cross for our sins, but God the Father raised him and made him the Lord of life and death. In Jesus, love has triumphed over hatred, mercy over sinfulness, goodness over evil, truth over falsehood, life over death.”

May we experience the triumphs of our risen Lord and be a witness of them to others, and

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr Greg

Easter Sunday Homily

Street evangelization
    Christian who doesn’t believe in Resurrection?
    Witnesses to Resurrection
    Joy, happiness
Appreciate Resurrection more after Cross
Best Catholic witness is in Eucharist

Cry Out to God About Your Own Cross

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus is true God and true man. We believe in His divinity and see his humanity from the moment of his birth. But, the events of Holy Week show us that He is fully human. The two ―words‖ (phrases) above express this as much as anything.

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me”

Have you ever prayed, ‗God, I don‘t want to do this. This is too much for me‘? We all have prayed those or similar words to our Lord in relation to a situation that seemed to be too hard to bear. We might consider it crying: ―O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you‖ (Psalm 102). It‘s a very human act to ―cry‖ in the midst of unbearable suffering. Jesus unites with us in crying out to His Father in the midst of His agony in the garden. He also shows us it‘s okay to do this!

Recently, I was with couples who have struggled to conceive children. Infertility, miscarriages or troubled pregnancies are enormous cross for couples. While they went into marriage beautifully open to God‘s Will, they didn‘t want this. So, I pointed them to this word of the Lord in the garden. In his human nature, He is saying to the Father that He didn‘t want the cup of suffering that awaited him the next day. It was too much for Him. Three times He expressed His will. But, then three times, He said, ―not as I will, but as you will‖. The Lord goes to the depth of human

cries or complaints or commiserations in the midst of enormous suffering to unite with us, and to raise us up to accept it and do the Father‘s Will.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

How in the world does Jesus feel forsaken or abandoned by God? He is one with the Father from all eternity. We convey this every time we say “consubstantial with the Father‖ in the Creed. In his divine nature, then, it is not possible for Him to be separated from the Father. And, He says in John‘s Gospel, ―The Father has not left me alone. This speaks to His human nature because He is referring to His life on earth. So, we know in truth that Jesus is not forsaken or abandoned or left alone by God both in His human and divine natures.

Have you ever felt forsaken by God? We have all prayed this prayer of the Lord (and also Psalm 22). At different times in our lives, we might simply feel that God has forgotten about us. It’s like when children feel that their parents give more attention and love to their siblings. It might be an immature feeling, but it’s a real feeling nonetheless. Many people have the spiritually immature but real feeling that in some way God has forsaken them. It’s not true, but it feels true to them.

It was not true that God was forsaking Jesus. But, it was true that Jesus felt that way. The Father allowed Him to feel it in order to be fully human. Christ unites with everyone who has felt abandoned or lonely or rejected or despairing. St Teresa of Calcutta taught that these are the greatest human pains; Jesus experienced all of them.

Through these two words or cries of the Lord, Jesus unites fully with our nature and experience. And, He is saying that it’s OKAY to cry out to God about your cross or to ask where He is in the midst of it all.

May you know the peace of Christ this Holy Week,

Fr Greg

Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week 2017

Church of the Assumption


Holy Thursday

NO Daily Mass

7:00 pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper + Procession of the Blessed Sacrament

9 pm – 12 am Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (Rectory chapel)

Good Friday

NO Daily Mass

12 – 3 pm Confessions

3:00 pm Stations of the Cross

3:30 pm Confessions (or after the Stations of the Cross)

7:00 pm Passion of the Lord service

Holy Saturday

NO Daily Mass

7:00 pm Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday

10:00 am Easter Mass


He is Risen!

On behalf of all of us at Assumption, I wish you and your family a blessed Easter!

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta used to say, “don’t ever get so sad that you lose sight of the
Resurrection”. She would be preaching to the choir here because Assumption
parishioners live the joy of the Resurrection year-round. It’s not that you don’t ever get
sad, but it’s that your joy as a Christian trumps your sadness. Christian joy comes
from the Resurrection!

‘Why do you believe in the Resurrection?’ This is the first question for any Christian.
In fact, we are followers of Christ mainly because we believe that He rose from the
dead. St Paul wrote, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain” (1 Cor 15:17).

Here are three reasons to believe in the Resurrection.

Empty Tomb
This may seem to be obvious evidence to us, but it was the first indication of the
Resurrection to the disciples. How shocked must they have been to find the tomb of
Christ to be empty! And, what hope it must have given them…hope at first sight!
There is an excellent book, “Made for More”, by Curtis Martin which treats all of the
conspiracy theories regarding the empty tomb. Martin concludes that the only logical
theory about the empty tomb is the one presented in the Gospels, and believed by
Christians for 2,000 years.

Testimony of Witnesses
The word of those who were there at the tomb is very significant evidence. This isn’t
just about the spoken testimony that the tomb was empty and that they saw Christ in
His risen body. This is more about the testimony of their lives after the Resurrection.
They devoted themselves to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with many of them
dying for the cause. And, none of them ever recanted his or her testimony! The
Resurrection of Christ changed them forever, and that fact is very meaningful

Other Christians
It’s been said that the biggest reason people become Christian is other Christians. This
makes total sense if we are showing the joy of the risen Christ…it’s a joy that the
world cannot give. If we really believe that Christ is risen from the dead, then our
lives will be evidence of the Resurrection to those around us. We will show that God
lives! We will show that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we need to follow
everything He says. We will show that He is alive and well in the Catholic Church,
especially in the Eucharist. People will see it on our faces, in our eyes, and hopefully
in our virtue. Christ lives!

May you know the peace of the risen Christ,
Fr Greg

Seven Last Words

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

March 20, 2016

The following are profound insights and reflection questions from Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book, “The Seven Last Words”. May you know the peace of Christ this Holy Week.

– Fr Greg

“There was never a preacher like the dying Christ. There was never a congregation like that which gathered about the pulpit of the Cross. There was never a sermon like the Seven Last Words.” – Arch. Sheen (d. 1979)

The Seven Last Words of Christ

1. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”

His executioners expected Him to cry and curse like all those who had been crucified before Him. Instead, He cried out for the Father to forgive those who were executing and mocking Him (soldiers, Pilate, Herod, etc.).

Do I forgive ‘those who trespass against’ me?

2. “This day you shall be with me in Paradise”

“No one before (the thief on the right of Christ) was ever the object of such a promise, not even Moses, nor John, not even Magdelen nor Mary!”

Like the thief, do I give my sins to Christ who will then promise me Paradise?

3. “Woman, behold thy son”

‘Thy son’ is John, who represents us (the Church). “Woman!” is the 2nd Annunciation; “behold thy son” is the 2nd Nativity. We are born of Mary in the 2nd Nativity of the spirit; Christ is born in the 1st Nativity of the flesh.

It has been said that Jesus never denies His Mother anything. Do I ask my Mother to intercede to her Son for me, my friends and family?

4. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

While He is still in union with the Father, Christ brings atonement to all those who have abandoned God, doubt God’s presence in their lives, or are indifferent towards God.

Christ knows what I’m experiencing whenever I’ve been abandoned, rejected, lonely, hurt or isolated.

5. “I thirst”

Not said to anyone there at Calvary, or even to God. He says to all mankind, “I thirst…for love!”

Christ thirsts for my love; do I thirst for His?

6. “It is finished”

Christ triumphantly says this, like an artist who puts the finishing touches on a masterpiece. His work of Redemption is finished, but not complete (see Col 1:24). As the Mystical Body of Christ, we complete Christ’s work of Redemption (by taking up our own Cross).

Do I accept crosses in my life with faith?

7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”

Like the Prodigal Son who returns to his father’s house, Christ is on the road back to His Father’s House after spending His divine riches of power and wisdom on all humanity for 33 years.

Do I entrust my life to my Father in Heaven?