Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The “O” Antiphons

December 17 begins the last week before Christmas, and our anticipation of the great celebration that awaits us grows even stronger. The mood of the season shifts liturgically, as well: The gospels this final week focus on the events that immediately preceded the nativity. And the church reaches back into its history for one of its Advent treasures, the “O” Antiphons.

From December 17 through December 23, the church sings these ancient antiphons at evening prayer (vespers), expressing our longing for the Lord to come into our lives. The antiphons are used in the gospel acclamation at daily mass as well. Each day’s antiphon begins with “O”—a word of excitement, wonder, anticipation, awe—the perfect word, in fact, to express our feelings at this time of the year. Each day we address the Lord using different titles given in the Hebrew scriptures. The antiphons may sound familiar to you if you know the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” which is based on them.

These antiphons date back at least 13 centuries, maybe longer! Praying with them at this time of year helps connect us to the generations of faithful who have gone before, those who made faith possible for us, who carried Christ incarnate in their hearts for themselves, those around them, and those who would come after them. May we do the same.

Douglas Leal
Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation and Young Adult Ministry
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Sense, Good Air: While we live we are responsible to the Lord

On November 7, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, CA, and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, addressed the Christian vocation to cultivate and care for
God’s good gift of Creation in a speech to an ecumenical gathering in Louisville, Kentucky. Bishop Blaire identified how this commitment connects to Catholic concerns for human life and human dignity –
particularly of the poor and vulnerable.

Bishop Blaire said that God’s generous gift of creation demands a response back to God and a duty to steward what God has given to us for the good of all the human family. The bishop highlighted how environmental degradation compromises human life and dignity, especially of the poor and vulnerable. A prime example, he continued, are the adverse impacts which mercury, toxic air pollution and climate change have on human life, particularly on the unborn, in the case of mercury pollution and future generations in the case mercury pollution and future generations in the case of climate change. The full text of his address can be found at http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Bishop-Blaire-November-7-2011.pdf.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Holidays and Young Adults

The weather has finally turned and the holidays are right around the corner. Our churches and communities will soon be bustling with lots of celebrations! As young adult ministers, though, we should keep in mind that the holidays can sometimes be a tough time for young adults. The emphasis on family and togetherness can be painful for those who find themselves alone at this time of year. And especially in Southern California, there are many young adults who are separated from their families by distance or circumstance. What can your ministry do to support these young adults? The NCYAMA newsletter has some starter ideas (http://www.ncyama.org/newsletter/201111Articles/givingthanks.htm), or share some of your own and we’ll post them on our blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feast day of St. Jeanne de Chantal

St. Jeanne de Chantal
Cofounder of the Order of the Visitation
(1572–1641)

Jeanne de Chantal was born into a wealthy family in Dijon, France. She married a baron at the age of twenty and bore seven children (three of whom died in infancy). In 1600 her life took a tragic turn when her husband was killed in an accident. In the following years, as she struggled with her children’s upbringing, her heart increasingly turned to religious life. She vowed that she would never again marry.

In 1604 she heard a sermon by the holy bishop of Geneva, Francis de Sales. This was a turning point in her life, the beginning of a deep spiritual friendship and partnership that would advance them both along their paths to sanctity. Francis taught that the spiritual life was for everyone, not just for monks and nuns. Jeanne immediately responded to his message and asked him to become her spiritual director. After several years they founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary, a congregation dedicated to prayer and works of charity. Jeanne proved a gifted superior, combining superb administrative skills with a profound instinct for the spiritual life. “No matter what happens,” she wrote, “be gentle with yourself.” In her lifetime the order grew to include eighty communities in several countries. She died in 1641 at the age of sixty-nine.

“Sometimes put yourself very simply before God, certain of His presence everywhere, and without any effort, whisper very softly to His sacred heart whatever your own heart prompts you to say.”  —St. Jeanne de Chantal

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Relationship lessons learned

Some wisdom from our TOT presenters Len and Carleen Velez from their TOT talk at Good Shepherd, July 23:
  • You have to become relationship-ready yourself before entering into a relationship. While you're looking for a relationship, be sure you're working on your "own stuff."
  • You have to keep changing and keep working through things.
  • You have to keep finding ways to grow as a couple (time alone w/o kids, retreats, date nights, counseling, etc.)
  • Love is a daily decision.
  • Order of priorities has to be: (1) Faith; (2) Relationship with your spouse; (3) Children
  • God has a calling for each of us.  God wants us to be in relationship: marriage, religious life, single, but most of all relationship with God.
  • God has created that special person for you; as challenging as it is, God's timing is perfect.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Theology-on-Tap 2011 is here!

Our latest newsletter has all the info you need on Theology-on-Tap 2011! Check it out here:

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Theology-on-Tap-is-here-.html?soid=1102102916177&aid=iKO8zyTgtwU

Theology-on-Tap is a speaker and fellowship series that reaches out to young adults who want to explore the role of faith in their daily lives. In this casual atmosphere, you'll hear straight talk and honest answers to your deepest questions about faith, love, work, and other real life experiences. And TOT is a great opportunity to meet other young adults and make new friends. The series is open to all young adults, ages 18 to 39, regardless of religious affiliation.

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 5: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: Mt 28:16-20

The Great Commission

As Disciples of Christ it is our duty to spread the good news of Christ’s love. We are all Disciples of Christ and just as the eleven disciples worshiped and some doubted Christ when they saw Him, some of us go through the same doubts. It is in us as humans to continue to question the presence of Christ in us; it is then that we need to remind ourselves that Christ has reassured that that He is with us always, “to the very end of the age.”  We are the light of this world and our light needs to be shining for those that are without the light of Christ in their lives.  In what ways are you shining your Light unto others? How do you keep the flame of Christ’s love and His promises lit in your heart?  In times of trial and doubt, what do you do to remind yourself that Jesus is with you always? In what ways, as a young adult, are you spreading the good news and making “disciples of all nations”? 

"Jesus' departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus' physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus' presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time. He assured them of his power -- a power which overcame sin and death."  © 2002 Don Schwager

Noelia Ballesteros
St. Helen, South Gate

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vatican Issues Major Report on Science of Climate Change

A sobering report on the impacts for humankind as a result of the global retreat of mountain glaciers as a result of human activity leading to climate change has been issued by a working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutes in the world.

In their declaration, the working group calls, “on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses.”  They echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 World Day of Peace Message saying, “…if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us.”

The report focuses on the impact of anthropogenic climate change on mountain glaciers and warns that, “Failure to mitigate climate change will violate our duty to the vulnerable of the Earth, including those dependent on the water supply of mountain glaciers, and those facing rising sea level and stronger storm surges. Our duty includes the duty to help vulnerable communities adapt to changes that cannot be mitigated. All nations must ensure that their actions are strong enough and prompt enough to address the increasing impacts and growing risk of climate change and to avoid catastrophic irreversible consequences.”  (Emphasis added.)

The working group recommends three measures to reduce the threat of climate change and its impacts:

1. “Reduce worldwide carbon dioxide emissions without delay, using all means possible to meet ambitious international global warming targets and ensure the long-term stability of the climate system. 

2. “Reduce the concentrations of warming air pollutants (dark soot, methane, lower atmosphere ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons) by as much as 50%, to slow down climate change during this century while preventing millions of premature deaths from respiratory disease and millions of tons of crop damages every year.

3. “Prepare to adapt to the climatic changes, both chronic and abrupt, that society will be unable to mitigate. 

You can read the entire report which has been posted on the Catholic Climate Covenant website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 29: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: John 14:15-21

The words in today’s Gospel are part of Jesus’ Last Discourse—that is, part of his farewell speech to his closest and most beloved friends. What a powerful message that must have been, both for Jesus and for his apostles. And, it can still be as powerful for us today.

For Jesus, he had to carefully choose the ideas, messages, and hopes that he wanted to share with his friends before having to say goodbye. What would we say to our closest loved ones if we could only say a few things more? For the apostles, even though they did not yet fully understand what would soon transpire, they must have had some sense that these were significant moments, both for their friend and for themselves. Perhaps they were wondering what they would do when Jesus was no longer with them.

For us, Jesus’ words may be a little easier to grasp today because we know that the Passion ultimately paved the way for the Resurrection, and for the joy we experience at Easter. With this knowledge, we can more easily hear two important messages that Jesus has for us. First, Jesus assures us that we are never alone. He has sent us the Spirit of truth whom will always be with us. And, Jesus promises that he himself will someday return: “I will not leave you orphaned; I will come back to you.” Second, Jesus lets us know exactly what we should do in memory of his time on Earth and as a witness to his living presence: we are to obey his commands to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Indeed, what better way could there be to remember Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection than to keep his love alive in the world through our faith and actions!

Christine Gerety
St. Monica, Santa Monica 

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 22: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel:  Jn 14:1-12

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth   and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.


“Do not let your heart be troubled” When I read this coming Sunday’s Gospel those words stood out to me the most. How often do we allow ourselves to be troubled? Even with the smallest of things in our lives we worry. For example, writing this reflection was difficult for me. I was worried about what people might think of what I wrote. Am I doing this right? OMG what did I get myself into? Those were the thoughts going through my head.

Then I remembered those words, “Do not let your heart be troubled” Everything we do is an opportunity to grow closer to Christ and an opportunity to believe in Him, to let go and let God.

How often do you find yourself troubling yourself with the smallest of things? What are some things you can do to help strengthen your relationship with Christ and to be more willing to let go and let God?

Mary Vizcaino
Our Lady of Assumption, Claremont

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 15: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

John 10: 1-10
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.  But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.”…”Amen, amen I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep… whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come and go out and find pasture.  I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Reflection:
Jesus is the gate, the only entrance to eternal life.  Jesus, the Risen One, always recognizes us and cares for us, he is our Shepherd.  Jesus is truly here for us, he knows us by name.  He is with us through the moments where we feel the most alone, moments of hardship, of worry, or pain.  We must abandon ourselves in perfect confidence and let Jesus be our Shepherd.  He is with us and leads us to life. 

Meditative Question:
What is keeping You from abandoning yourself and allowing Jesus to be your Shepherd and lead you to life?

Annette Galarreta
St. Raymond, Downey

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 8: Third Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: Lk 24:13-35

“The Suffering Messiah”…. Incognito

Living in a world of billions and billions of human beings, how hard is it to think that Jesus himself, flesh and blood, might be next to you in line at the supermarket, or reading peacefully on the couch next to you at Starbucks, or best yet driving next to you fighting traffic on the 10 freeway as you race home after work to make the 5:30pm Mass?

Luke describes this in his Gospel as Jesus makes one of his appearances after his Resurrection to two men on their long walk to a village named Emmaus.  Jesus simply strolls into the lives of these two men, Cleopas and the other “Unnamed,” and begins to fulfill his prophesy among the hesitant believers.

Now when Jesus returned from the dead, he did not show himself so that he would be easily recognized.  Jesus had a plan and a very unique strategy to evangelize his true self to people and most notably to the twelve Apostles.  When I think about it, it kind of plays out like Clark Kent in the Superman franchise.  Superman’s earthly appearance to cover up his famed status as Superman was a simple human being living a normal life with an alias of Clark Kent, journalist for The Daily News.  Now when you think of the costume Clark Kent came up with to hide his identity, you have to chuckle at the idea that it was merely a pair of black rimmed glasses and a suit. That was all it took to keep his friends and believers in the dark.  Even when face-to-face with him, no one would put two and two together and figure out that the person behind those glasses was in fact Superman.  Sounds very comical, right?

As for our Superhero God, Jesus himself with his ultimate power, I think his costume is harder to distinguish.  See, as the viewers of the movie Superman, we know that Clark and Superman are the same person, but the characters in the movie don’t.  It’s easy to assume that these people don’t have a clue, but really they are blind to Clark’s true self. They are unable to see Superman as he truly is, because their eyes have not been opened or their faith tested. Jesus makes it a lot harder for us, the viewers and characters in this movie called “LIFE.” He makes it hard because he wants us to really find HIM.  He wants us to use the script of our God-given life to have a connection with him and find the reason why he would need to come in contact with us, as many of us pray to one day do.

As Catholics we solidly and fully believe that God is present in the Sacrament as we approach the altar, as well as in the Church he created. But can you look at that person sitting next to you at Starbucks and fully give them the same respect and love that Jesus deserves, and give them the same glory as if you had been in the presence of our King in the flesh?  Can you look into that person’s eyes so deeply that you see Jesus, and get that same warm, full feeling that most of us get walking out of confession?  I’m sure Jesus would want you to smile and greet that person as if you and he secretly knew that you were the special one who at that moment was able to figure out that his incognito cover or disguise was blown.  And then you move on knowing that you met Jesus and knowing that he can use the varieties of race or gender to make us understand that he made us in his Image.

In the Gospel of Luke, Cleopas and the other man weren’t fully on board with the thought of Jesus as a suffering Messiah; they were under the assumption he would redeem Israel.  To help them understand, Jesus had to step into their lives; then they had to invite Jesus to stay overnight with them and eat dinner with them.  Once invited, Jesus unveiled himself by the breaking of the bread, and then the two men fully understood this complete stranger was Jesus…God Almighty!!!

Once we can see one another as a “possible” Jesus in flesh, then we are focused on the grand idea of God being present in one another and we are not focused on the wrong things.  As I type this, I’m wondering if Jesus is sitting next to me in a Starbucks, smiling…high fiving God, and saying to himself, “Thanks be to God” that there are Young Adults interested in proclaiming the Word, connecting to each other, and keeping their faith strong and their eyes open to a future that will grant them to life everlasting.  AMEN!!!!

Christopher Galvan
St. Mary’s, Whittier
www.stmarysyam.com

Thursday, April 28, 2011

May 1: Second Sunday of Easter

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: Jn 20:19-31

In recent days, the disciples have experienced two monumental life transitions--the crucifixion and resurrection.  They hid in fear with the doors shut. I can only imagine how uncertain their future must have felt.  As young adults, we also experience major transitions in our lives.  These changes may or may not be as revolutionary as what the disciples experienced, but they do transform our lives.  We evolve with every big decision we make regarding school, the economy, our careers, family, and relationships.   Just like the disciples, I admit that I have not handled every tough life decision with grace and have often laid low, fearing the consequences and hating the uncertainty.

Similarly, I can relate with doubting Thomas.  Thomas needed to experience seeing and touching Jesus to know that He was with the disciples.  As I struggle through my own difficult transitions, I need a sign to let me know Jesus is with me. Interestingly, He has sent me so many today.  I saw him in the sunshine-filled day, in my friends who brought me coffee, and even in the stranger that was incredibly accommodating with my many of loads of laundry that consumed our shared washer and dryer.  God is here and He is with us.  

God has given us so many blessings to help us with our transitions and to ease our doubts.  We are seeing and touching God in the midst of His blessings and His people who are part of our lives.  However, His presence goes even beyond those senses.  He is all around us.  If we can embrace that idea, then we can be set free of any uncertainty that our transitions bring.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Michelle Cantu
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 24: Easter Sunday

Gospel: Mt 28:1-10


That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection
A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ

CLOUD-PUFFBALL, torn tufts, tossed pillows ' flaunt forth, then chevy on an air- 
built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs ' they throng; they glitter in marches. 
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, ' wherever an elm arches, 
Shivelights and shadowtackle in long ' lashes lace, lance, and pair. 
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ' ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches 
Squandering ooze to squeezed ' dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches 
Squadroned masks and manmarks ' treadmire toil there 
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, ' nature’s bonfire burns on. 
But quench her bonniest, dearest ' to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, ' his mark on mind, is gone! 
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark 
Drowned. O pity and indig ' nation! Manshape, that shone 
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, ' death blots black out; nor mark 
                Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time ' beats level. Enough! the Resurrection, 
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, ' joyless days, dejection. 
                Across my foundering deck shone 
A beacon, an eternal beam. ' Flesh fade, and mortal trash 
Fall to the residuary worm; ' world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
                In a flash, at a trumpet crash, 
I am all at once what Christ is, ' since he was what I am, and 
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ' patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, 
                Is immortal diamond.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 17: Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel: Mt 26:14-27:66

“The greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.” 
- St. Paul of the Cross – description of Jesus.

I’m personally a huge fan of St. Paul of the Cross.  I’m not sure why, but I just am.  When I saw this quote from him describing who he thought Jesus was, it got me thinking.  What was the greatest act of love that was ever shown for us?  You’ll hear scholars say it was the Crucifixion…but, I tend to think it’s the whole Passion of Jesus. 

Jesus knows what is going to happen.  In fact, he says it when he’s in the Garden of Gethsemane “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”  Jesus knows how much suffering this is going to be…and yet, even though our Father will not take this away from him, he’ll still go through everything because of that love he has for us. After all the trials, beatings, and suffering Jesus experiences, he is crucified on Golgotha.  We, as Christians, are called to look at the cross, and to realize that tremendous love that Jesus went through for us…his saving love as it were.  It goes beyond this though.  

"Love is filled with struggle, pain, and moments of real darkness. When we gaze upon the cross of Jesus, there we see God’s love revealed to us in the concrete, in flesh and blood. We perceive with our own eyes the lengths to which God would go to reach out to us, to redeem us and raise us up.”
– Fr. Robin Ryan, cp.

As we enter into Holy Week, let us all remember that Jesus died for us, not just so the prophecy could be fulfilled, but to show how much God loved us. 

Michele Fanara
St. Martin of Tours, Los Angeles

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 10: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel.

Gospel:  Jn 11:1-45
While reading thru this passage I can’t help but notice that Jesus already has a plan. When they came to notify Jesus he didn’t run to Lazarus right away, He waited for 2 days because rushing to Lazarus’s side would not fit with God’s plan. We must also wait on Jesus sometimes, just like the two sisters had to. Jesus is working according to His schedule, so that it will all fit with the Father’s plan. The waiting is usually the difficult part, and there is no indication on how long it will take. That’s one of the problems with our generation. We want everything NOW; if it’s not NOW I don’t want it. Sound familiar? Brothers and sisters, we must be patient with God, for He is working on his schedule. We must stay strong in faith that Jesus will also come through with a miracle in our own lives.

The part of the story that touched me the most is when Jesus wept. Even though Jesus knows what the plan was and that Lazarus would soon be resurrected from death, he is still deeply touched by their sorrow. He cried with them, He cries with you. I wish my hands could express what my heart feels when I read that. Jesus cries for us, cries with us. When we are going through a difficult time and when we are hurting and in pain, he cries with us. He knows the plan that God has for us, and like this story there might be a breakthrough just around the corner. Something that we can all learn from this story is that we must have faith in Jesus and be patient for we are living on his time.

Vidal Gutierrez
St. John Vianney, Hacienda Heights

Feel free to share your thoughts below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April 3: Fourth Sunday of Lent

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel. 
Gospel:  John 9: 1-41 – Jesus heals the blind man

“I transcend the capacity of your eyes…” (Danielle Rose)

Sometimes our darkest moments are also our greatest opportunities for grace. We are often put in situations we don’t understand, facing circumstances we feel we don’t deserve and thinking that perhaps God is punishing us for some past sin we may have committed. Woe is me…indeed. But the reality of it all is that where we are is where we need to be at that very moment, and that our situations or circumstances are actually part of a process that will eventually lead us towards a greater blessing that God has in store for us…and perhaps even for those around us. If our hearts are open to His will, He will work in and through our lives (whether we know it or not). And in all likelihood, if we knew He was doing His work through us, we’d probably try to control things - try to make the situation end up in the best way that we see fit. But what God sees goes beyond what we’re even capable of seeing. It’s bigger than what we could ever imagine or even try to comprehend.


Have you ever had one of those amazing moments where God has sent you someone that works wonders in your life? Maybe it was through a family member, friend, loved one, or even a stranger that you have felt His presence during a very difficult time. Or, perhaps, you were that person for someone else. God uses these moments of grace to open the eyes of our hearts so that we can fully see His hand at work and experience His love. The blind young man in the Gospel lived in darkness every single day of his life, and Christ brought light into his world. The man was unknowingly being used as an instrument of hope through Christ’s love. And here we are now, reflecting on his life…you never know who your own lives will touch. The blessing of sight that he received that day helps to open the eyes of our hearts to see the splendor of God’s love, compassion, and grace. How can we as Catholics open our eyes and hearts to His awesome presence in our lives today, and in doing so, fully recognize and experience Christ’s light in the world?


“…I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see…” (John 1:39)

Natasha Asinas
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 27: Third Sunday of Lent

Holy Family Parish in South Pasadena has compiled an online journal with reflections from parishioners based on each day's readings during Lent.

The reflection for this Sunday can be found at http://www.holyfamily.org/Lent/#/40/.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 20: Second Sunday of Lent

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel. 

Gospel:  Matthew 17: 1-9

"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

To experience the transfiguration means to penetrate the intimate relationship between Father and Son, until the point in which we could say: “I am God’s beloved.”   With the gift of life, we too have received God’s irrevocable love, but do we always recognize it?   When I can come to the point of accepting God’s love without hesitation, despite the betrayal of my sin, my infidelity and my hypocrisy; then I can accept God’s infinite loving mercy and kindness.

In the end, the greatest sadness for any person is to feel and believe they are not loved.  So let us ask ourselves…“Do I feel loved?  Can I give a name to one who loves me unconditionally?”  Often times we know that it is not easy to answer yes to these questions.  But today’s Gospel tells us that if we could not rely on any other person’s total capacity of love, there is someone who wants to “convince” us of His love.  God, with these words reveals a love and irrevocable decision for us of His unconditional fatherly love when He states “This is my beloved!”  Though God does not “need” our love to be complete, He desires it with passion so that we might be complete in Him.  

God realizes his dreams in us when we respond with the same love of the Son.  So I challenge you to ask yourself: how will I accept and respond to His all-embracing love in week ahead?

Sr. Bernadette Mota
St. Mary, Los Angeles


Get in on the conversation!  Share your comments below.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 13: First Sunday of Lent

Each week during Lent and Easter, a young adult from the Archdiocese offers a reflection on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel. 

Gospel:  Matthew 4:1-11

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus went to the desert for forty days and nights to pray. After the time of praying and fasting, he was then tempted by the devil. The devil first tempted him with food, then to use Jesus’ power to prove God would send angels to help Him if he jumped from the top of temple, and finally Satan offered Jesus all power and glory if he worshipped him alone.  To each temptation, Jesus held to what he knew was God’s will for him. 

As young adults, it’s difficult in this day to fall to the temptations of the secular world (the latest gadgets, fashion styles, cars, sex, etc.) and yet be able to live with strong Christian beliefs.  The word tempt in English usually means “to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.” However, the scriptural word used here also means test in the sense of proving and purifying someone to see if they are ready for the task at hand.  Each day, we encounter challenges and trials to live out the gospel, some bigger than others.  How can each and every one of us hold firm to our faith while in the midst of so many temptations this world offers?

Now as the season of Lent is upon us, we are not alone in our tests of faith.  In the words of St. Paul, “No testing [temptation] has overtaken you that is not common to everyone.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Just as Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, so are we in this season of Lent able to endure the trials of this life and rise with Him to the next.

Melinda Evangelista
St. John the Baptist, Baldwin Park

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cardinal Mahony reflects on his work with immigrants

As he approaches retirement, Cardinal Mahony issued the following statement on his retirement plans and his past and future ministry with immigant peoples. 


STANDING with the ELEVEN MILLION

Welcoming the Strangers in Our Midst

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles
January 16, 2011



            As I near formal retirement in a few weeks, many people have asked what I plan to do after retiring.  Because my roots and most of my time in ministry have been in Los Angeles, I plan to remain in the city I know with the people whom I love.

I have spent our annual Bishops’ Retreat in early January praying and reflecting on where the Lord Jesus is calling me to focus my time and energy over the coming months and years.
           
When Archbishop José H. Gomez becomes the Archbishop of Los Angeles in the last days of February, I will be free from the demanding administrative duties which are part of serving as Archbishop of the largest Archdiocese in the country. Each day I shall continue to pray for all of the people of our Archdiocese, as well as pray for and support our Archbishop.
           
With fewer duties, I am eager to give more emphasis to my ministry as a priest—celebrating the Eucharist as needed, hearing confessions, as well as having more time for hospital visits.           

In reflecting back on my years in ministry as a priest and as a bishop, I have come to see that so much of that ministry brought me in touch with immigrant peoples, regardless of how they came to this country.  While growing up in the San Fernando Valley I came in contact with those Mexican-American men and women who worked for my parents at their plant. They became my friends.  During my years as a seminarian at Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo, several of us seminarians were able to accompany priests to the farm labor camps where Mass was offered for the braceros, the temporary farm workers mostly from Mexico.

After my ordination to the priesthood, I served in the San Joaquin Valley and was always deeply touched by the faith, traditions, and commitment to family on the part of countless immigrants across the Valley—a large number of whom were involved in agriculture.  Their hard work and sacrifices were evident at every turn.  The efforts of Cesar Chavez to improve the salaries and working conditions of thousands of farm workers in our State greatly inspired me.
After being ordained bishop, my ministry continued with immigrants in the Dioceses of Fresno and of Stockton.  Again, I was attracted to these people because of their faith and love for the Church.  They were always anxious to help whenever asked, whether by assisting others in need or by lending a hand in the parish or the Diocese.

With my appointment as Archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, this relationship expanded as Asian Pacific and other immigrant peoples from different parts of the world became part of my ministry as well.

Over these many years, I have been constantly called and challenged by the words of Jesus:  “For I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35), echoing God’s mandate to his people in the Old Testament.[1]

Over the years immigrant peoples have become very dear to me, and Jesus continues to call me to walk with them on their journey.  I intend to spend the coming months and years walking in solidarity with the 11,000,000 immigrants who have come to the United States to improve their own lives and the life of our country and to advocate on behalf of the silent millions.  In a special way I look forward to collaborating closely with our United States Bishops’ Conference and the Committee on Migration and Refugees which is now chaired by the next Archbishop of Los Angeles, the Most Reverend José H. Gomez. 

  For so many immigrants in the United States today, life is not easy.  With the terrible downturn in the economy the past two years, millions of people have lost jobs in every field of employment.  Many have had to give up their homes and to make deep sacrifices to keep their families going.  So many voices blame immigrant peoples for our economic woes.   This is unjust and flies in the face of the facts.
           
Some 11,000,000 of our immigrant brothers and sisters are misunderstood and maligned. Without legal documents, their livelihoods and their very lives are at risk.  They live in the shadows of our society.  They are easy targets of blame for everything that has gone wrong, and is going wrong, with our country.  But a little historical perspective sheds light on our current situation and gives hope for the future, helping us to see immigrants not as “those people,” but as brothers and sisters living in our communities with the same longings and aspirations as all Americans.

If we would refresh our memories as a nation, we would see that the presence of immigrants—with or without legal documents—is never a cause of concern when the unemployment rate is low and our economy is sound and expanding.  For example, in December 2000 the nation’s unemployment rate was 3.9%.[2]  Those were the heady years of the technology and construction booms, and we needed everyone available to fill the jobs.  But after the financial and housing collapse of early 2008, the unemployment rate has grown to the point of 9.8% in December 2010.  As the economy improves, gradually, the need for workers will also increase.

I am encouraged by the prospects of helping these silent millions in our midst.  A review of major national polls since 2007 shows the reason for my optimism:  a majority of people polled believe our borders need to be made more secure, and that illegal immigration needs to be controlled.  But the same polls reveal that a majority of people polled [63% in one poll, 81% in another] are open to a structured  path to earned citizenship for those who are here in our country without papers but who pass background checks, pay fines, and have jobs.[3]

These high percentages tell me that our Catholic Gospel values and the American spirit are still alive among us.  I suspect that many anti-immigrant feelings and sentiments arise from frustration with the seeming inability, or the unwillingness, to fix our broken immigration system.  Three websites are useful to come to a deeper knowledge of immigration issues:  The Justice for Immigrants organization sponsored by the Church; the Faces of Immigrants site sponsored by our Archdiocese; and the Migration Policy Institute.[4]

I would like to focus on the positives and encourage all of us to get to know our immigrant neighbors more personally.  We will discover that their core values are the same as ours, and that they are here to help enrich, not diminish, our fine country.  Once we put a human face on an immigrant, the stereotypes and across-the-board characterizations begin to dissolve. 

When the disciples ask the King, “When did I see you a stranger and welcome you?” Jesus responds:  “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:38, 40).  Let’s begin a deeper conversation among ourselves without the harsh accusatory rhetoric which has so clouded this debate in recent years.

Across the country we have so many immigrants who are invisible and strangers.  I have great hope in working with our Catholic people at the parish level in order to understand Jesus’ invitation “to welcome the strangers in our midst.”    But there is more.   We need to engage our Catholic business and professional leaders, our Catholic colleges and universities, and our national Catholic organizations, urging them to put a human face on the immigrants in our midst and to give assistance to immigrant peoples as they struggle to find their rightful place in our society by becoming active participants in our communities, working jobs and paying taxes, and giving their very best for our country.

As I move forward to the next stage of my journey in faith,  I ask that you join me in prayer and mutual support as I seek to live more wholeheartedly  the answer to the call I have heard from Jesus:  When did you  see me,  a stranger, and welcome me?  When I looked into the faces of the eleven million who all bear the hopeful face of Jesus Christ!

             
                       
           


1  See the Book of Exodus:  22:50, 23:9; and the Book of Leviticus:  19:10, 19:33-34, 23:22

[2]   U.S. Department of Labor:   http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?series_id=LNS14000000

[3]   PollingReport.Com offers a very comprehensive overview of most polling on immigration issues over the past   years:     http://www.pollingreport.com/immigration.htm

Friday, January 14, 2011

This Year, Spend Time with Him

With the New Year comes hope of things being better and life getting a little easier. But in many ways this depends on our own decisions and choices. But we don’t have to do this alone. While there are so many things to do and our lives are so full of obligations, take a moment each day to ask God for guidance. It doesn’t have to be much. Even a few minutes will work.
You may be asking how do I do this? I can’t just pick up the phone and make an appointment with Him. What would I do and what would I say?
Well, there’s no right or wrong way on how to do this. What works for one person may not work for another. But even so, here are four simple things you can do to help spend a more meaningful time with Him:
  • Go ahead and make that appointment with Him. Put it on your phone or calendar as a daily reminder. Realistically, things will always pop up so it’s good to set a time and stick to it. Soon it’ll become a habit.
  • Try making a prayer list. Just like when we go to the grocery store, if we don’t have a list we tend to lose focus and end up buying things we didn’t mean to. So if you notice your mind’s drifting, look down at your list.
  • Say Thanks. Sometimes we forget about all the simple wonderful things from our day. Reflect on what God has done for you and those around you.
  • Read Scripture. It’s a perfect time to read the Bible. Consider going to a Bible Study, which can help with reflections.
Make it a point in 2011 to spend time each day nourishing your relationship with the one who made you and loves you. One great thing about God is that He doesn’t really take appointments. He is available anywhere and anytime.
Adapted from "How to Spend Time with God" by Robyn Adams
Lighthouse Newsletter, January 2011
Holy Name of Mary Young Adult Ministry
San Dimas, CA