Readings for the Day: NM 21:4-9, PS 102:2-3, 16-21, JN 8:21-30
Unfortunately, I’ve begun to receive word from a few friends who work for other parishes across the country, that they have received their last paychecks and are now unemployed. These messages are disturbing on two levels.
It breaks my heart for them and their communities.
The fact is, most people who work in Catholic parishes could find higher paying jobs elsewhere, but they (and their families) happily have made the sacrifice to help the Catholic Church thrive. I’ve worked for St. Anthony of Padua, St. Stanislaus, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Our Lady of Joy. (Mary seems to like me.) In those parishes, I’ve worked with many people who could’ve lived much more comfortable lives—if only they’d worked outside of the Church. But they love God and His Church. Now, they are being forced into unemployment.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: DN 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 PS 23:1-6, JN 8:1-11
If you are reading this, you already know Jesus is heroic. He walked straight into certain death and paid the ultimate price for a crime (the crime of our sin) he didn’t commit. We are reminded of this heroism and sacrifice every time we hold a rosary or look above our parish altar.
But this divine quality of heroism didn’t just appear out of nowhere just before Calvary. It can be found throughout his short three years of public ministry. Today’s Gospel shows us one of the best examples.
It is the story of the scribes and the Pharisees preparing to stone a woman for adultery. But let’s not focus on the inequality of the laws of the day. Let’s move past the obvious lessons of hypocrisy. Instead, let’s drill down to what is happening at the most basic—and often, most forgotten about—level.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: EZ 37:12-14, PS 130:1-8, ROM 8:8-11, Jn 11:1-45
As believers, we’ve been turning to our Lord and begging for a reprieve. Yet, it seems like things are just getting worse. Why wouldn’t God step in and temporarily suspend people’s free will to go out and spread this pandemic? Why wouldn’t God just step in and wipe out all disease as you read this?
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the story of Lazarus. Jesus hears his friend is very sick, but instead of grabbing the first donkey back, he does the opposite. He decides to remain even two days longer. He actually allows his friend to suffer and die precisely because he loves Lazarus. How does this make sense?READ MORE
Dear Family of God,
Over time many of us have taken for granted our relationship with God and one another. Sin and selfishness have divided us and have allowed our hearts to be cold; cold in our relationship with God and our neighbors. One thing I wish and pray that will come out of this trial is that we put God at the center of our lives. That we once again have warm and loving relationships with one another; united as one. Loving God above all and loving one another as Jesus loved us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the lord and turn from evil” (Prov. 3: 5-7).READ MORE
Readings for the Day: JER 11:18-20, PS 7:2-3, 9-12, JN 40-53
Happy Birthday to me! That’s right. Lent…pandemic…birthday…yay… Okay. Now that my pity party is over, let’s talk about gratitude. I’ve heard many quotes on the subject, but there are two that stand above the rest.
“Right now, your life is full of things that others are praying for.”
I’d encourage you to take inventory. How many of these apply to you? Do you have clean water? Flushing toilets? Food in your pantry or freezer? Do you have heat and air? A roof over your head? Entertainment in the way of books, internet, and television? Do you have an outdoor space on your property? Are you corona virus free? Do you have your senses? Taste? Touch? Sight? Hearing? Are you still employed? Do you have loved ones? Do you have faith? Do you own a Bible? Are you free to pray? Do you have access to online Catholic resources like oloj.org and formed.org? What else can you think of? Here. I’ll help you with this short video. Right click the link and watch it in another tab before coming back. www.youtube.com/watchREAD MORE
Readings for the Day: WIS 2:1A, 12-22, PS 34:17-21, 23, JN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
As Arizona continues to discover exactly how many among us have been infected, I want to be careful not to just hammer you with the message of “stop worrying, have faith, be a light.” The fact is – there are people who are much more naturally prone to struggle in this unique combination of isolation and stress.
I don’t want to discount your struggle.
I think today’s Psalm is for you. “When the just cry out, the Lord hears them, and from their distress he rescues them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him.”READ MORE
Readings for the Day: EX 32:7-14, PS 106:19-23, JN 5:31-47
A few days ago, I walked the church campus during my lunch. It was eerie. The parking lot was nearly empty. The hall was hollow. The preschool was silent. The whole campus (outside of the parish office building) was silent. If you plan on dropping by the church for prayer, I encourage you to do the same.
Imagine (as I did) living in a country where the government permanently shut down every church. This is what it would look like. Imagine what we take for granted was outlawed tomorrow. This is what it would sound like.
Lest we forget, people actually live under those unthinkable conditions today.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: IS 7:10-14, 8:10, PS 40:7-11, HEB 10:4-10, LK 1:26-38
Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. It celebrates the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary her special mission of being the mother to His only son. I like to call this the feast of “No Pressure, Mary!”
Today is a pretty big deal. Don’t believe me? Check out the Angelus. Or the Joyous mysteries of the Rosary. Today is the day God revealed to Mary her role in the salvation of the world.
But we aren’t off the hook.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: EZ 47:1-9, 12, Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9 Jn 5:1-16
In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years. On the miracle scale, this might not equal Lazarus, but it’s pretty darn impressive. So what are some of the last words Jesus says to the man? “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore.”
Why does Jesus seem to be more focused on the spiritual than the physical? He heals a man’s infirmities and tells him to work on himself spiritually? We all know the answer. Physical illness can only hurt us for a limited time. Spiritual illness can impact eternity.
Years ago, a surgeon friend asked how I cope with such a “pressure-packed job.” I laughed at him. He said he was serious. As he saw it, he was only saving the temporary. My job was focused on the eternal. I do not share this story to feed my own ego (as it actually is quite frightening if I forget that Jesus can use anyone – regardless of qualification). I share this because I believe my friend had clarity of priority.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: Is 65:17-21, Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-12A, 13B Jn 4:43-54
Our televisions are filled with press conferences. Our streaming services are populated with movies like “Flu,” “Contagion,” and “Outbreak.” Our radios are overflowing with conflicting doomsday statistics. Our roads are empty and our grocery stores look like something from a dystopian novel.
So, what do we do?
A year or two ago, we had an incident in our church. Someone (who seemed to have some mental issues) was behaving very erratically and posed a danger to those around her. Several people scrambled to help and one member of our congregation with extensive military training went straight to the fire alarm and pulled it. He knew the situation was serious and took appropriate action without the slightest hint of panic. His calm response cleared the church quickly and made it easier to handle the potentially dangerous situation.READ MORE
In this time of fear and panic, what perfect timing that this Sunday’s Psalm includes the words, “Even though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”
And how timely and beautiful that this Sunday’s Gospel is about Jesus’ ability to heal!
I want to apologize for the how random the following thoughts will be, but we have a lot to cover.
Pray for the containment or eradication of this virus.
If you are on Facebook or Pinterest, follow the parish pages.READ MORE
My Dear Parishioners,
Many of us never imagined being without Sunday Mass. The Lord says “Be not afraid, for I am with you always”. In God’s providence this trial is occurring during Lent – the Church’s season of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the “peace that surpasses all understanding” which is the Lord’s promise.
Be assured that you remain in my daily prayers. I know these are difficult and uncertain times. Let us stay in touch with one another as best we can, using the means at our disposal. It is important that we still remain united as the mystical Body of Christ.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: Hos 6:1-6, Psalm 51:3-4, 18-20, Lk 18:9-14
The first line of today’s first reading says, “Come, let us return to the Lord.”
When Masses in our diocese were suspended until further notice, my phone and social media accounts blew up with people asking my opinion. My opinion was that there were too many opinions and not enough prayer.
So, what is my prayer? Beyond the defeat of this insidious pandemic, I am praying that this situation helps us all recognize that we have taken Mass for granted. Whether it was nothing more than a habit, or the highlight of our week, attending Mass was something that could never be taken away. Until now.READ MORE
Readings for the Day: Hos 14:2-10, Psalm 81:6-11, 14, 17, Mk 12:28-34
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the top two commandments. Love God with everything you’ve got. And love your neighbor as yourself. We all need to be reminded of the second commandment-now more than ever.
Panicked people are hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and sardines. Okay. Not sardines. (Just wanted to see if I could cause a sardine shortage.) They aren’t concerned with people who might need what they already have too much of. Then, there are the people who are taking this lightly. They are fighting their boredom by setting up parties for themselves or their kids. They don’t think they’ll get sick and aren’t giving a second thought to the elderly and vulnerable they might infect.READ MORE
Good Morning Parishioners of Our Lady of Joy and Friends Beyond,
Our parish staff continues to work incredibly hard during these trying times. There will be regular updates. We will be streaming Masses. We are working with the diocese to figure out how to handle those who are scheduled to receive various sacraments. And we have enacted a total spending freeze in an attempt to survive losing almost our entire plate income.
One of the things I can contribute is this blog. Every day, our parish website will be updated with a new entry. My prayer is that this little space helps us remain connected to our Faith and one another during this trying time.READ MORE
It’s a little-known fact that between having served on the National Evangelization Teams (a Catholic Missionary organization) and working in parishes full-time for over twenty years, I’ve helped facilitate or coordinate over 300 retreats for teens and/or adults.
I have to tell you, something horrible happens when you’ve done anything that often. It becomes more and more difficult to enter into the experience of the retreat, and easier to make a habit of constant evaluation.
Here is a simple way to explain it: the Canadian figure skating judge can never experience the Olympics like we can.
This is tragic.READ MORE
Lent is beginning, so naturally the readings focus on temptation and sin. The first reading explains how sin entered the world. The responsorial hymn confesses our sin and asks God for mercy. The second reading describes how Jesus removes our sin. And the gospel shows Jesus resisting the temptations of the evil one.
As I read through them, I can’t help but think of the reputation our beautiful faith has in the secular world: a place you go to have guilt dumped on your head. And then they ask for money.
If it wasn’t tragic, it would be funny.READ MORE