Welcome to the new Liturgical year (cycle B) and also the beginning of the Advent season! The season of Advent is a four week period of preparation and hopeful anticipation for the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The scripture readings within Advent generally focus on the Incarnation (Jesus coming as flesh for the world, fully God and fully human) and the second coming of Christ.
Our scripture readings today remind us to stay awake and alert. The parable Jesus gives in the Gospel forewarns us that his second coming will take many people by surprise. Our whole lifetime is given to us to prepare for a journey into eternity. If He comes and finds us ready and actively preparing through service to others and prayer, then we will join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. However, if He comes and finds us spiritually asleep with the doors of our hearts firmly closed to Him, then we will face the consequence of rejecting Him, which is an eternal separation from God in hell.READ MORE
This weekend, as we come to the end of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to reflect on the kingship of Jesus Christ. Pope Pius XI established the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 as a declaration of the Christian belief that the reign of Christ must be felt, not only in our private lives of Christians, but also in the public domain. The Feast originated as an objection against the rise of modern secularism right after the First World War (1914 -1919). At that time, there was a rise in the ideology of the power of humanity to rule itself. This led to a cultural superiority and leadership struggle among powerful world leaders with Hitler proposing himself as the dominator of the known world and other leaders striving for dominance over the whole world. The Church introduced the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe to send a message to the world leaders that no individual person can have control over the whole world except Jesus Christ who has ultimate power over the universe.READ MORE
Welcome to the new Liturgical year (cycle B) and also the beginning of the Advent season! The season of Advent is a four week period of preparation and hopeful anticipation for the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The Church urges us to take the beginning of the liturgical year as seriously as we take the new calendar year. Just as we do for the calendar year, we are encouraged to consider making new year resolutions at the beginning of Advent that help us stay awake to the coming of Christ. As a St. Benedict Catholic community, we are doing something new throughout the entire liturgical year by offering an additional day for Confessions every Friday between 5:00-6:00 pm. This is in addition to our usual Confessions between 3:30-4:30 pm on Saturdays.READ MORE
Our Scripture readings this weekend focus on the theme of “Spiritual investment.” The First Reading from the Book of Proverbs speaks of a virtuous wife that bears fruit in all things. She is very creative, using every opportunity presented to her to make her family a happy home.
In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a parable to illustrate how we can invest our talents spiritually. In this parable, we see that the man who went on a journey represents Jesus, who ascended to heaven after his resurrection. The servants represent you and me. The money symbolizes our God-given talents. In his absence, Jesus expects us to use our talents to build up his kingdom. The emphasis in this story is on the man with the least amount of money, or talents. He made no effort to trade with his talent for fear of losing it. He probably thought that he had so little in comparison to the others that he could be excused.READ MORE
Update. It’s hard to believe that we are already at the threshold of the holiday season. During the week, I had several meetings with the Staff, Liturgy Committee and the Diocese to review plans for the holiday season. We reviewed concerns from some parishioners as to whether or not we will need to scale down our Mass attendance as a result of the increasing rate of new coronavirus cases. I would like to let you know that our parish, in conjunction with the Diocese, is cautiously optimistic that we may not need to scale down during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are paying attention to the news, and the guidelines from the Arizona Health Department. In spite of the rising number of new cases, we have seen that parishes like ours that have followed the precautionary safety measures, especially wearing facemasks and physical distancing, are doing well so far.READ MORE
Over the next three weeks, the readings will focus on “being prepared.” This is because we are approaching the end of the Liturgical Year A. The story of wedding preparation in the Gospel today may not make any sense to us in the Western Culture. However, the point of the story is not so much about the wedding ceremony itself but on the need to be prepared so the Lord will fi nd us ready when he comes.
Today’s second reading contains a reference to an event sometimes called “the rapture.” St. Paul explains that when the trumpet sounds, there will be two groups of Christians: “those who have fallen asleep” and “we who are alive.” St. Paul states that those who are living will have no advantage over those who have died. Jesus will raise the dead and then those who are le[ behind; that is, Christians still alive will be caught up in the air with them. We will meet Christ who will transform us along with those whose bodies now rest in the ground.READ MORE
If you are feeling on edge right now with the post-election stress, please know that it is normal. Many others are feeling that way too. We are now overwhelmed with the accumulation of stressors from the global pandemic, increasing division and hostility leading to the election and post-election, the racial division within our cities, the unsteady economy and widespread wildfires. It is obvious that many people are experiencing having sleepless nights, especially as they anticipate the results of the election.READ MORE
Welcome to the month of November. In the Church tradition, the month of November is a period dedicated to prayers for the dead. On All Saints Day, November 1, we honor our holy heroes in the faith who have successfully made it to heaven by living a life devoted to God. On November 2nd, we celebrate the memorial of All Souls when we pray for all the dead who are undergoing the period of purification in purgatory before they can be admitted into heaven.READ MORE
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints which allows us to experience the joy of being part of the great family of God’s friends. The liturgy again presents the expression full of surprise of the Apostle John: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).
Yes, to be saints means to realize fully what we already are insofar as raised in Christ Jesus to the dignity of adopted sons and daughters of God. He who believes in Christ, the Son of God, is reborn. This mystery is enacted in the sacrament of baptism, through which Mother Church gives birth to “saints.”READ MORE
With less than two weeks to the General Election, the scripture readings this weekend are very timely. The readings capture the essence of Catholic Social Teaching: to respect human dignity, to care for the poor and vulnerable, and to maintain social justice for all. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about three levels of love we have for God and one another. In the first reading, God gives us a practical example of how we can demonstrate these levels of love for our neighbors by loving and showing compassion for the poor, the immigrant, and all vulnerable people in society. The reading identifies the most vulnerable people in the Old Testament as the immigrants, the poor and the widows. In our own time, the most vulnerables in our society are the infants in the womb, the elderly, the homeless, the poor and the immigrants.READ MORE
A number of our parishioners contacted me during the week seeking clarifications on Pope Francis’s comment regarding gay marriage. I guess most of us are aware of the news storm that came out on Wednesday, alleging that Pope Francis has endorsed the marriage. I was initially surprised like many others to hear such news suddenly. However, after reading the news and listening to explanations from different sources, I realized that it appeared his comment was not exactly as the news media portrayed it.READ MORE
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). This Bible quotation from our Gospel reading today is a popular one among politicians. This is because many people consider it as the origin of the idea of separation of Church and State. Surprisingly, many people use this term of separation of Church and State loosely when, in fact, they are actually referring to separation of religion and State. There is a big difference between the two. Many people confuse this to mean that religious leaders have no right to condemn unjust civil laws and practices, or the right to request the government to address injustice in the society. Many people who argue on this do not even bother to check and see what the Constitution of the United States actually says. Here is the actual quote from the Constitution:READ MORE
I am glad to inform you that, after a careful evaluation of the downward trend in the spread of the Coronavirus in recent time, and following the requirements of the Arizona Health Department, Bishop Olmsted has now granted us permission to extend our Mass attendance from 25% to 35% sitting capacity of our Church. This will begin this weekend. This is a significant progress and one more step in the right direction as we gradually move toward the complete restoration of parish life.READ MORE
There has been so much talk about the uniqueness and importance of the Presidential Election this year. What caught my attention is the projection about the impact of religious affiliation in the outcome of the election. The Catholic Church in particular has received more attention than any other religious group in recent times. Religious identity has always been the bedrock and a key factor that determines the core values and direction of any society and culture. Thus, a society either leans toward religious and moral values or is secularized and embraces moral relativism. Looking around the world, we see how the dynamic of religion versus secularism is playing out in different societies.
A recent study conducted by Gallup shows that the percentage of Americans who reported belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque or any religion is at an all-time low. The study further indicated that church attendance has dropped more among Catholics than among Protestants. It is no longer news that the largest “denomination” in the United States today are the “NONE,” that is, those who do not affiliate with any religious denomination at all.READ MORE
It’s great to be back at the parish. For the past 12 days, I attended the International Catholic Stewardship Council Annual Conference (ICSC). I consider myself blessed to be selected by the Diocese to be among the few priests who were invited to attend the conference. The overall focus of the conference this year were the themes of Discipleship, Evangelization, Stewardship and Mission. The goal was for the participants to listen to different professionals and share resources available to develop new strategies to adapt and minister effectively in the current situation we find ourselves. It was good for me to hear from so many presenters from around the country, and to know that we, in our parish community, are not alone in dealing with the stress arising from the current political tension, economic stress and the Pandemic. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with our parish staff and others to discuss some of the new ideas I have learned from the conference in order to discern the best pastoral strategies that will meet the needs of our parish.READ MORE
The parable of tenants in the Gospel today tells us of God’s patience and justice. It also invites us to reflect on our responsibility to accomplish the mission God entrusted to us in life and the consequences of failing to do God’s WILL. We are told the landowner was patient with the tenants and forgave them several times. However, rather than appreciating this virtue, the tenants took advantage of the owner’s patience. In the end, his judgment and justice prevailed on the tenants.
This passage reminds us that we must all face the consequences of our choices in life at the end time. This parable raises a number of questions for us. We ask ourselves, “How patient am I with other people and even with myself? Do I take God’s mercy and love for granted? Do I ignore or underrate God?” We learn from this story that God gives everyone enough time to accomplish our mission in life. His patience with us is boundless and God is always ready to give us another chance to repent and amend our lives. We must all render an account to God on how well we lived our life and face the consequence of all our actions in life at the end of time. Let us strive to seek the will of God, trusting in his love and mercy, and unlike the tenants, be mindful of his generous blessings.READ MORE
Welcome to the beautiful month of October. The month of October is quite unique for several reasons. Living here in Arizona, the month of October has become one of my most favorite months of the year, mostly because of the beautiful weather that is neither too hot or too cold. In the Catholic Church, the month of October is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Month of the Rosary, commonly known as “October Devotion.” The Church encourages every Catholic to make an effort to pray the Rosary every day throughout the month of October. There is a very rich history behind the October Devotion. This can be traced back to the origin of the Rosary in 1206. At that time, the Church was in crisis as the result of the influence of Albigensian heresy. It was then that the Blessed Mother introduced the Rosary to St. Dominic in a vision as a powerful weapon to defeat the heresy that plagued the Church.READ MORE