Father's Corner

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Woundedness

08-31-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 16:21-27), Peter doesn't like the message that Jesus must suffer and die, so he pulls Jesus aside to rebuke Him. In turn, Jesus rebukes Peter for his unwillingness to accept the fact that discipleship with Christ comes with the responsibility of carrying the cross.

How often do we find ourselves like Peter, frustrated by the cross that God has asked us to bear? How often do we find ourselves like Jeremiah, feeling like the Lord has duped us? How many times have we expected the work of Jesus Christ to be easy, rather than challenging?

Cardinal Dolan tells a story in his book, To Whom Shall We Go?: Lessons from the Apostle Peter, about some World War II veterans who went to see Padre Pio before he died. One of the veterans, an Italian-American who was very skeptical about the rumors that Padre Pio had been given the gift of the stigmata (the physical wounds of Jesus Christ), said to Padre Pio, "Show me your wounds. I don't believe you." Padre Pio replied, "Show me yours." The man responded, "What are you talking about?" Padre Pio explained, "We've all got wounds. We all bear the stigmata. We've all got the wounds of Christ. Mine happen to be visible. You've got them too. Can I see yours?" In response to Padre Pio's explanation, the man began to weep. Indeed he did have wounds. During battle, two of his friends were mortally wounded by machine guns. He alone escaped the nightmare. He had been carrying this wound for a while and had never told anyone. Padre Pio, the saintly man that he was, heard the man's confession, and helped him face his woundedness.

The Christian life is a life of suffering. Jesus says, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." If we are to follow Christ, we must be willing to suffer. We must carry whatever cross our Lord asks us to bear. The Cross of Christ should not surprise us. Rather, we should expect it. The key to living a joy-filled life is not to hide from or block the cross, but to lovingly embrace it as Jesus did. We must learn to echo the beautiful prayer, "We adore you, Oh Christ, and we praise you, for by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world."

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

P.S. If you enjoyed Fr. Will's homily last week and would like to learn more about the papacy, Fr. Will recommends the following books:

Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" by Karl Keating
Saint Peter Lives in Rome: Explaining the Misunderstood Ministry of the Pope by Robert Stackpole, STD
The Biblical Basis for the Papacy by John Salza
Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs by Alan Schreck

Who is Jesus to you?

08-24-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 16:13-20), Jesus asks His disciples an important question: "Who do you say that I am?" If Jesus were to ask you this question, how would you respond? Pope Saint John Paul the Great once said in a homily, "We all know this moment, in which it is no longer sufficient to speak about Jesus by repeating what others have said. You must say what you think, and not quote an opinion. You must bear witness, feel committed by the witness you have borne and carry this commitment to its extreme consequences. The best friends, followers, and apostles of Christ have always been those who heard within them one day the definitive, inescapable question, before which all others become secondary and derivative: For you, who am I?"

Every Christian, at one point in time, must answer Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?" Discipleship is a personal conviction that is based on our answer to this question. We cannot escape it. The person of Jesus Christ demands a response from us. How will we respond to this question? C.S. Lewis once said, "Christianity if false is of no importance; and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important." Peter's statement, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," is a bold proclamation of who Jesus is to him. Jesus is everything to him. To make such a statement is to say that everything else is secondary to Jesus. Do we have the same faith as Peter? Do we believe that Jesus Christ is the messiah, the savior of the world? Does our life proclaim this truth? If not, why not? If not, who then is Jesus to you? Just remember, at some point you must answer this question.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Unworthiness

08-17-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28), we may be tempted to think that the healing of the woman's daughter is the apex of the story. However, if we take a closer look, the faith of the Canaanite woman that blossoms out of her dialogue with Jesus is the real apex of the story.

At first glance, it seems that Jesus is very rude to the woman. First he ignores her request. Then, after ignoring her, Jesus indicates that she does not belong to the family that He has come to feed. Finally, to add insult to injury, Jesus calls her a "dog," exposing her unworthiness of what He has to offer. Yet, even though Jesus has communicated three times that He is not interested in her request, the woman performs a beautiful act of faith that brings great joy to Jesus. She admits her unworthiness. She admits that she is a "dog" and asks only to receive what God is willing to give to her. Wow! What a bold demonstration of humility! How many times have we found ourselves requesting something from God with a disposition that suggests that God owes us something? As if we deserved that which we were requesting? The woman in today's Gospel empties herself completely of everything she thinks she deserves so that she is free to receive what God wants her to receive. Her perseverance in the face of what appears to be Jesus' rudeness and disinterest is her way of demonstrating to Jesus the true nature of her faith. Once she has demonstrated that she had emptied herself of her pride, then she was ready to receive the blessing of Jesus Christ.

If we are to receive the beautiful gift that Jesus Christ desires to give us, we have to first let go of any pride that lives within us. We are not deserving of God's gifts. We should not approach God is if we are worthy of such blessings. Rather, we should approach the Lord as the Canaanite woman: in humility, with a faith content to receive whatever scraps from the Master's table He is willing to give us.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Complete Trust

08-10-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes God reveals himself to us in the most unlikely situations and circumstances. This is exactly what we see in today's readings.

In today's first reading (1 Kings 19:9-13), the prophet Elijah is asked to go to the mountain of Horeb in order to have an experience of God. As he waited in a cave on the mountain, a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire all passed by the mountain. You would think that if God were going to reveal Himself, He would choose something obvious like a strong wind, an earthquake, or a fire. Yet, God was not present in these phenomena. Rather, it was in the tiny whispering sound where the presence of God was found (the last place Elijah expected). In today's Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33), we see a similar situation. When the disciples were caught in the violent storm, the last person they expected to encounter walking on water was Jesus. Instead, they thought He was a ghost.

Something that we must learn as disciples of Christ it to let go of some of our misconceptions about God. Often times we try to restrict the freedom of God with preconceived ideas about how He is supposed to work. When we do this, we end up limiting our spiritual vision. God works in His own mysterious ways, and as disciples we must learn to let Him reveal Himself to us in the manner that He so chooses. We must let God be free to communicate Himself as He desires. Discipleship is about being led by Christ. It is not about us telling Christ where He is supposed to be. It is about us following His lead and discerning Him in every moment and situation.

May we learn to be like the great saints of the Church who trusted completely in God. May we learn to discover Him in every situation and in every person. May we open ourselves up to God's free revelation of Himself and experience the fruits of this beautiful revelation. God's plan is always better than our plan.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Power of Prayer

08-03-2014Father's CornerFr. Chris Axline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

How much do we truly believe in the power of prayer? Today's Gospel shows us just how powerful prayer really is and how we should pray at all times, but especially when faced with big decisions and life-changing choices. This is exactly what our Lord does. Before all the major moment in His life Our Lord prays so that He might be strengthened in His work. Before calling His Apostles, He prayed. Before the Last Supper, He prayed. Before His death and Resurrection, He prayed. Even today, when He heard about the death of His cousin and friend, Jesus withdraws to pray. But then, something miraculous happens, strengthened by His prayer the crowd comes to Him and He feeds about 5,000 people!

Following Jesus' example, we see that prayer should be the first thing we turn to when faced with difficulties in our life. It is in our time spent in personal (and communal) prayer that we encounter in radical and profound ways God's power always at work in our lives. Through prayer we are strengthened and renewed so that we may step back into the world and bring God's unfailing Love to all that we hold dear.

As you proceed forth from here into your week, challenge yourself to see where, when, and how can you truly make prayer first in your life? How can you spend more time in prayer? How will the time you spend in prayer nourish, guide and motivate all that you throughout this week? Know that you are always remembered in the prayers of all the priests here! May God Bless you and shower His blessings upon you now and forever!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Chris

Pearl of Great Price

07-27-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once said, "Whoever understands the value of what Jesus offers will not hesitate to get rid of everything of his own, to become poor in spirit and in pure faith, in order to obtain what has been offered...Just as the farmer and the merchant are shrewd enough not to hesitate for a moment, so the Christian who has grasped what is at stake will take action immediately."

In today's Gospel, we hear of a farmer and a merchant who have found something of value that exceeds the value of everything they own and we see their immediate actions to give up everything to obtain it. What is our pearl of great price? What treasure is greater than everything we own? Is Jesus Christ that pearl or that treasure? Are we willing to give up everything we have for Him? Why? Why not?

This past week we celebrated the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, our patroness. The primary example she provides for us is the example of preferring nothing to Christ. St. Mary Magdalene loved Jesus Christ with a profound love that impelled her to give up everything for Him. Do we have that same kind of love for Christ? What would we be willing to sacrifice for a deeper relationship with Christ? What kind of behavior would we be willing to put an end to in order to receive a greater outpouring of God's grace? With the upcoming Adoration chapel only a little over a month a way, is Christ worth an extra hour of prayer each week? Exactly how much is Christ worth? These are the kinds of questions today's Gospel is asking us to consider.

May we be inspired by the farmer and merchant in the Gospel and have open hearts willing to give up everything for Christ. Why? Because He is worth it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Always Adore the Lord Jesus

07-20-2014Father's CornerFr. Ishaya Samaila

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (John 6:56). As I started my priestly journey in 1989, my pastor encouraged me to always visit the Blessed Sacrament when friends, brothers and sisters may let me down; Jesus Christ never will. Instead He will always be there at points of need. I took those words seriously and gradually things started turning around for the better. Without Adoration I can honestly say I would not have become a priest. I appeal to my reader to follow meticulously the steps of Saint Faustina:

Every morning during meditation, I prepare myself for the whole day's struggle. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory; and so it is that I fear the day I do not receive Holy Communion. This bread of the strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me. The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me it is the Eucharist.

The sacrament of Charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous Sacrament makes manifest that greater love which led him to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis P.1.

In Christ,
Fr. Ishaya

Eucharist & Adoration

07-13-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week I would like to share with you some thoughts about the Eucharist and Adoration from St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests:

"How many Christians are pressed for time, and only condescend to come for a few short moments to visit their Savior who burns with the desire to see them near him and to tell them that he loves them, and who wants to load them with blessings. Oh! What a shame to us! If some novelty appears, men leave everything to run after it. But we run away from our God; and the time seems long in his holy presence! If we really loved the good God, we should make it our joy and happiness to come and spend a few moments before the tabernacle to adore him and ask him for the grace of forgiveness; and we should regard those moments as the happiest in our lives. Are you in sorrow? Come and cast yourself at his feet and you will feel quite consoled. Are you despised by the world? Come here and you will find a good friend whose faithfulness will never fail you. Are you tempted? It is here that you will find strong and terrible weapons to vanquish your enemies. Are you oppressed by poverty? Come here and you will find a God infinitely rich, and who will tell you that wealth is yours, not in this world, but in the next. Ah! How good it is to enjoy the pure embraces of the Savior!"

May we have the same love for Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, as St. John Vianney, and may the Lord give us the grace to make a commitment to spend time in His presence each day.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Openness to Grace

07-06-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many of you might be asking yourself the following question, "What am I supposed to do in Adoration?" This is a great question. However, there are many right answers to it. The most important thing we do in Adoration is spend time with Jesus Christ. The fact that we are there with Him is the most important thing.

There are many spiritual practices and devotions that can be used in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Praying the rosary, meditating on Sacred Scripture, and spiritual reading are all acceptable and helpful practices that we can do in the presence of our Lord. However, simply spending a few minutes of silent time gazing upon Jesus Christ is also a beautiful thing to do in Adoration. How often do we get to be in a place where there is little to no noise and simply be in the presence of God? Not often enough! Adoration gives us a chance for this. At first, this might be an awkward experience. We are addicted to noise and to activity. Our initial experience of simply gazing upon the Lord in Adoration might be a little uncomfortable. Our initial feeling might be one of restlessness. However, through consistent time spent with Christ, the grace of the Blessed Sacrament will bring peace to our hearts and allow us to slow down and be comfortable simply being in His presence.

As we continue preparing for the coming of our new Adoration chapel, may we be given the grace to discern how we can make time for Adoration of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Benediction

06-29-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we prepare for the coming of our new building, I would like to continue focusing on the beautiful gift of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This week, I'd like to discuss the rite of Benediction, a popular Catholic devotion that originated in 13th century France and Germany.

At the end of a period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, there is a formal tradition that we call, "Benediction." This word comes from the Latin verb, benedicere, meaning, "to bless" or "to speak well of." During the rite of Benediction, the priest or deacon takes the monstrance with the consecrated host inside and blesses the community with the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a cross. On occasion, this blessing is accompanied by the ringing of bells and/or the use of incense. This is an important blessing because it comes from Christ Himself rather than from the priest or deacon. This is why the priest or deacon wears a "humeral veil" while giving this blessing. The humeral veil is the cloth placed over the shoulders and hands of the minister so that he does not touch the monstrance with his bare hands. The reason for this is to demonstrate that the blessing comes from Christ, rather than the minster. The minister during the rite of Benediction is merely an instrument of Christ the High Priest who blesses His people.

As we continue to learn more about Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament, may we open our hearts to our Eucharistic Lord so that our lives might be transformed by His incredible grace.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

06-22-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In light of the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) I'd like to share a beautiful true story.

In the little village of Lu, in northern Italy, some parents made some decisions that had important consequences for the Church beginning in 1881. Along with the need for vocations in the Church, these parents desired that children consider lives of total consecration to God's service in the Church. Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandero Canora, they gathered weekly for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for Vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, they all prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.

From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations: 152 priests and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations. Indeed the Lord will hear our prayers for vocations just as He heard the prayers of the faithful of the village of Lu.

May we have the same love of the Eucharist as the village of Lu.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The Greatest Act of Love

06-15-2014Father's CornerFr. Chris Axline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today as we reflect on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, we see that the true nature of Love consists in the self-emptying of one person, for the sake of another. For example, our Gospel today says quite simply that, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..." God gave us His Son in order that He might completely pour Himself out for us on the Cross. So great was Christ's Love for us that He quite literally gives us everything He can, including His own body and blood. Why does He do this? The answer is simple, "…so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16). Christ demonstrates for us that such gifts of authentic Love always bring forth life.

This is the basis for Pope St. John Paul II's writings on the "authentic gift of self" where he exhorts us to follow Christ's example of making a gift of ourselves to God, our family and our friends. Like Christ, we give ourselves away because we are called to Love. Such acts of love can be simple, such as offering up small, daily sacrifices, injustices, and hardships for a specific person. With God's help and grace, we learn how to make such selfless acts of Love and by doing so find that we receive "grace upon grace" in exchange (John 1:16).

Love, then, as we see from today's Gospel and the Holy Trinity (described by St. Augustine as a Communion of Love), focuses more on what it can give rather than what it can receive. This is the paradigm of the Cross, that monolithic event that, even to this very day, represents the greatest act of Love that this world has ever and will ever see!

Let us then ask the Most Holy Trinity to teach us what it means to love authentically so that we might increase our capacity to Love God, our families, friends, and all those whom we hold dear. May God Bless you abundantly and lead you deeper into His Love!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Chris

Gifts of the Spirit

06-08-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Earlier this year at a Confirmation and First Communion Mass, Bishop Olmsted preached about the three things that plague humanity and the ways in which the gift of the Holy Spirit combat these three plagues. Since today is Pentecost Sunday and we are focusing on the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles, I would like to expand on this idea.

First, humanity is plagued by ignorance. Aristotle once said, "All men by nature desire to know." We hate being in a situation where we do not understand something. Ignorance bothers us. How angry do we get when we realize that we have acted out of ignorance: "If only I had known the truth!" The Holy Spirit seeks to resolve the plague of ignorance. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are brought to a deeper sense of wisdom and understanding. This is evident through the lives of the saints. Think of how Mother Theresa was honored and revered by the smartest and most sophisticated scholars. A simple nun serving the poor in India revered by scholars! She was enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives us a deeper insight into who God is and who we are.

Second, humanity is plagued by fear. Fear is often the strongest driving force behind the decisions we make. How often do we make a decision based entirely on fear? How often do we find ourselves tempted to compromise on something that we know to be true because we are afraid of the outcome? Fear cripples us. The Holy Spirit combats fear by giving us the gift of courage. Courage comes from the two Latin words, cur (heart), and agere (to lead). To have courage is to have the ability "to lead the heart" to choose what is true, good, and beautiful, regardless of the outcome. The early Church martyrs guided their hearts to choose Christ even though they faced great persecution and death.

Third, humanity is plagued by isolation. There is nothing that terrifies us more then loneliness. When we feel isolated and lonely, it is hard to muster up the strength to do anything. The Holy Spirit combats isolation with intimacy. The word used for "spirit" can also be translated as, "breath." The image of breath is one of intimacy. When we take a breath we draw air into ourselves so that it becomes a part of us. This is what God does through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He draws us into Himself in such a way that He dwells within us. We are never alone when we have the the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's primary goal is to draw us into deeper union with God. In the East, they call this, "Theosis," or becoming partakers of God's own life.

As we celebrate this great solemnity of Pentecost, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us truth, courage, and intimacy, so that we might never be plagued by ignorance, fear, or isolation. May the breath of God continue to fill us with the grace to be powerful witnesses of the Gospel.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Get in the Game

06-01-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,

Imagine yourself sitting in the stands of your favorite sporting event. Imagine the best player in the game (and your favorite player) coming to you and bringing you from the stands onto the court/field. Imagine this player drawing up a special play for you to execute. How many of us have dreamed of becoming a professional athlete? How many times have we imagined ourselves taking the game winning shot or making a game changing play? How many of us have dreamed of simply being on the court/field for one moment?

In a way, this image helps us understand the significance of what we hear about in today's readings: the Ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ does not want us to be mere spectators of the Gospel. He wants us to be participants. He wants us on the court/field and in the game. Too often we allow ourselves to become mere spectators of the Gospel event. We sit back and watch as if we have no concrete role, expecting Christ to do everything and us to do nothing. The Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is a reminder that God wants us actively living the Gospel. We are not spectators of salvation history, we are participants. Jesus Christ does not want us to sit back and watch the Gospel unfold. He has a role for us in His saving work. God has empowered us with the gift of the Holy Spirit and wants us "in the game."

The work of Jesus Christ is not a magic trick. We do not sit back and merely "let it happen." We are called to engage the world as disciples of Christ. He has drawn up a game plan that includes our participation and he gives us all the gifts we need to be successful. Yet, in order to play our part, we have to first believe that God has included us. If we don't first believe this truth, we will never become the saints that God has created us to be. This is an essential aspect of the Ascension. May we continue to open our hearts to Jesus Christ and may we have the courage to "get in the game" and make the Gospel a lived reality in our lives.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will