Father's Corner

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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

Transformation

05-25-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the challenges of living the Gospel is allowing Jesus Christ to lay claim to our hearts. How often do we find ourselves putting on a good show so that others perceive us to be holy, when in reality we have not allowed the Gospel to transform us from within? In today's second reading (1 Peter 3:15-18), St. Peter tells us, "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts." What St. Peter means by this is that we should allow the Gospel to transform us from within so that our primary concern is no longer the perception of others. If Jesus Christ is not the king of our hearts, then the moment we face the dangers of temptation or persecution, we will likely end up compromising our faith. In order to stand strong in the face of temptation or persecution, Jesus Christ must reign at the level of the human heart. If we allow God to lay claim to our hearts, then we will find the grace that we need to be an authentic Christian.

One of the ways we can begin to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts is by making a good confession. All of us have fallen short of what is expected of us. Jesus Christ is ready and willing to forgive us and give us the strength to move forward as long as we are willing to confront our sinfulness and take responsibility for our poor choices. Often times we find ourselves making excuses for our choices instead of taking ownership of them. We are quick to assess the various external circumstances behind every choice, but slow to assess how we have allowed ourselves to be placed in a situation where we compromise our faith. This is why in the act of contrition we make a commitment to avoid the near occasion of sin and not just the sin itself. Too often we put ourselves into situations where we are destined to fail. We need to own up to this. It is our pride that wants us to blame external circumstances and other people for our choices.

Brothers and sisters, we have an amazing God who continually takes us back and reclaims us as His sons and daughters. May we allow Christ to reign as King of our hearts and allow Him to transform us from within so that we can be His authentic disciples. May all of us seek to make a good confession this summer so that we might stay connected to His love and grace.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

05-18-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the past few months you have probably noticed an increase in the use of Latin during our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. In particular, this past weekend we reintroduced the Latin Gloria in excelsis Deo. First, I would like to thank our music director, Richard Guerra, and our choir for their hard work in learning this beautiful piece of sacred music. They did a fantastic job! Second, I would like to explain why we have reintroduced these Latin Mass parts into our celebration of the Eucharist.

One of the major documents of the Second Vatican Council is the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (also known as Sacrosanctum Concilium). This beautiful document on the Liturgy was constructed to help the faithful develop a deeper sense of participation in the Sacraments. As a part of this movement toward more full, active, and conscious participation, Sacrosanctum Concilium allowed for the Sacraments to be celebrated in the vernacular (or the common language of the people). The Church believed that the use of the vernacular in the Sacraments would be of great benefit to the people of God. I think we can all agree that this was a tremendous blessing from the Church. Our ability to celebrate the Sacraments in English has helped us to participate more fully, consciously, and actively. However, at the same time, Sacrosanctum Concilium also expressed the importance of preserving the beautiful traditions of the Roman Catholic Rite. Although it encouraged the use of the vernacular, it did not envision the complete elimination of the Latin language from the Mass. The official language of the Roman Catholic Church is Latin. It is a beautiful part of our heritage and should continue to be a part of our celebration of the Eucharist. Paragraph 54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” It is in light of this beautiful document that we have decided to reintroduce some of the Latin Mass parts into our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.

Singing Latin can be difficult, especially when it is unfamiliar to us. However, as most of you have experienced, all it takes is a little practice. We have already learned the Sanctus, Mysterium Fidei, and the Agnus Dei with minimal difficulty. Now, we are seeking to learn the Gloria in excelsis Deo. This chant is more complex and will take us a little more time to learn, but we have an excellent music director and choir to help us along the way.

There is nothing more powerful than a Mass celebrated with reverence and beauty. The Latin Mass parts add a sense of antiquity and richness to our faith. It keeps us connected to the universal Church throughout the world and reminds us that our faith rests on thousands of years of tradition. May God continue to transform our lives through the richness of our Catholic faith.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Sacred Silence

05-11-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (John 10:1-10), Jesus uses the image of the shepherd to help us understand the kind of relationship God desires to have with His people. In the world of shepherding, the sheep are familiar with the shepherd's voice and respond to it with great fidelity. Sheep are able to recognize the distinct voice of their shepherd over all the other voices (even over the voices of other shepherds). They have a relationship of trust with their shepherd and follow him wherever he calls them. The Lord desires to have the same relationship with us. He wants us to have a deep relationship with Him so that we can hear His voice above all other voices and follow Him wherever He calls us.

Today's world struggles to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. There is so much noise and clutter in our lives that keep us from a relationship with Christ. If we want to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives, we must retrain the ears of our heart to recognize His distinct voice above all the other voices. In today's reflection, I would like to suggest one way we can begin to retrain the ears of our hearts to hear the voice of God: silence

Catholics need to reclaim the gift and power of sacred silence. We live in a noisy world that constantly bombards us with various sounds. Often times, these sounds distract us and keep us from hearing the voice of God speaking to the human heart. God speaks more often in subtle movements of the heart than through loud booming noises. In order to hear the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit in the human heart, we must first silence some of the outside noises. For example, do we really need to have the radio or television on all the time? While driving to work, could we sacrifice the noise of the radio and use some silent time in the car to speak with God? Could we sacrifice one television show each week for some silent reflection? Could we sacrifice five minutes of sleep on Sunday so that we could have five extra minutes of prayer before Mass? Could we arrive home five minutes later so that we could have some silent time with the Lord immediately following the Mass? When the Mass is over, must we immediately engage in conversation? A few minutes of sacred silence before and after Mass is a great way to let the Lord speak to our hearts.

At first, silence is difficult. Often, we feel awkward and fidgety. This is normal. We are addicted to sound, and getting used to the silence is difficult. However, after a little while, we begin to experience the peace and joy that comes from that few minutes of silent prayer. We begin to experience movements in our heart, and recognize these movements as the voice of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, take some time for sacred silence in your life. Create opportunities for sacred silence so that the Good Shepherd can speak to your soul.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Pilgrims on a Journey

05-04-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Have you ever wondered where we get our format for the celebration of the Eucharist? Well, look no further. The outline of the Mass comes from today's Gospel (Luke 24:13-35). Using this Gospel passage as our guide, let's look at the essential elements of the Mass to get a deeper understanding of what we celebrate each week.

First, the Mass begins with a procession where the priest and servers process from outside the Church to the altar. Notice how the disciples in the Gospel are traveling. They are pilgrims on a journey. As modern day disciples of Jesus, we are also on a journey. We are on a journey towards Heaven. The procession at Mass is a reminder of our true homeland, which is found not in this life, but in the next.

Second, the Mass begins with a penitential act, where we make a public recognition of our sinfulness. Notice how Jesus points out the foolishness of the disciples in the Gospel. Before Jesus can help them understand the Scriptures, they must first come to realize that they have faults that prevent them from seeing things properly. We too are sinners. We have faults that prevent us from understanding God's plan for our lives. The penitential rite at Mass is an opportunity for us to own up to these faults and receive God's mercy so that we can have a proper understanding of God's plan for salvation and our lives.

Third, the Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Word, where we hear readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Gospels, and a homily designed to scripturally interpret our lives. This is what Jesus did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He taught them the Scriptures and He gave them a proper understanding of them. This is what happens every Sunday in the first half of the Mass.

Fourth, after the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word, we then move on to the celebration of the Eucharist. This is exactly what happens in the Gospel. After Jesus interprets the Scriptures for them, He then breaks bread with them; He celebrates the Eucharist with them. It is in this moment where the disciples recognize Him. This is true for us as well. It is in the celebration of the Eucharist where we come to encounter most profoundly the presence of Christ. Christ's presence in the Eucharist is the reason why it is so essential to our Catholic faith.

Finally, at the end of Mass, we are sent forth in peace to announce the Gospel of the Lord and glorify the Lord with our lives. This is what happens in the Gospel following the breaking of the bread. The disciples go forth to Jerusalem to share the good news of Jesus' Resurrection, which they experienced first hand on the way to Emmaus and in the celebration of the Eucharist. We are given that same commission as modern day disciples. We must go out and share the Gospel with others.

As you can see, the Mass comes directly from Scripture. Through the weekly celebration of the Eucharist we are drawn into the mystery of the Lord's Resurrection. Through the Mass we are given the same access to Jesus that the early disciples had. What a beautiful gift! No wonder why the Church makes such a big deal about it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Canonizations

04-27-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate a great day in the life of the Church. Today, Pope Francis will canonize two great popes:

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Both of these popes listened carefully to the Holy Spirit and lived joyful lives in Christ. They are beautiful examples for us as to how to be disciples of Jesus. Pope John XXIII was elected pope on October 28, 1958 and was chosen under the assumption that he would be a "stopgap" pope, following the long papacy of Pope Pius XII. Little did the Church know that the Holy Spirit had something much bigger in mind for this mere "stopgap" pope. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Pope John XXIII strengthened Catholic and Jewish relationships, advanced the Church's voice with regards to human rights in the encyclical Pacem in Terris, and, most famously, called the first session of the Second Vatican Council. He lived his life as a joyful Catholic and understood the Holy Spirit's desire to engage the modern world with the Gospel message.

Pope John Paul II (someone familiar to all of us) was elected pope on October 16, 1978 and died April 2, 2005 after nearly a 27 year papacy. His first words as Holy Father were, "Be not afraid." Like Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II lived a joyful life as a Catholic and inspired people throughout the world, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. As pope, he wrote more than 14 encyclicals, played an instrumental role in the fall of communism, strengthened the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, and developed the Theology of the Body through his Wednesday audiences. To say the least, Pope John Paul II gave the world a more profound understanding of the human person.

As we celebrate the canonization of these two great saints, let us pray that we might listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as they did. Let us pray that we might give joyful witness to Jesus Christ and lead others to a relationship with Him. May they protect us and keep us free from sin so that we can live in the freedom of God's love. Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II...Pray for us!

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

The Mission of St. Mary Magdalene

04-20-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today is a very special day for the parish of St. Mary Magdalene, not just because we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also because we see the true mission of our patroness. In today's Gospel (Matthew 28:1-10), St. Mary Magdalene is given a beautiful mission: to be the first disciple to proclaim the good news of the Resurrection. She is given this incredible gift because she stood faithfully by Christ's side throughout His Crucifixion.

When a parish is given a patron saint, the parish is charged with continuing the mission of their patron. Thus, we are charged with continuing the mission of St. Mary Magdalene: to proclaim the Resurrection of Christ to the world around us. When was the last time we shared the good news of Jesus Christ to the people around us? When was the last time we reached out to someone in need of the Gospel message? Christ does not desire that we stand on sidelines, but invites us to be participants of the Gospel event. The Gospel that we preach with our words and lives may be the only Gospel that someone hears in their entire life. We are blessed with the good news of Christ. We are blessed with having stood by Him this past Holy Week and experiencing the great love that He demonstrated on the Cross. Now, like St. Mary Magdalene, we are charged with telling people about His Resurrection.

There are people in this world who want to believe that life is greater than death. There are people in this world who are yearning to experience Christ's power over the sin and death that they experience every day. We are charged to be heralds of the powerful message of Christ's triumph over sin and death. Today, let us ask our patroness, St. Mary Magdalene to give us a deeper understanding of her fantastic mission, so that it might also become ours. Through the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene, may we joyfully and boldly proclaim the Easter message: Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Why a Donkey?

04-13-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Why a Donkey?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of Mass today, we heard Matthew's account of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11). This Gospel begs us to ask the question, "Why does Jesus enter into Jerusalem on a donkey?" A donkey seems like an odd choice of animal to ride into Jerusalem. After all, most people entered into Jerusalem by foot, not by animal. So why the donkey? There are two reasons why Jesus chooses a

First, Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey to fulfill the prophecy mentioned in the Old Testament book, Zechariah 9:9. Jesus' choice of a donkey is a reminder that He is the royal Messiah for whom the Jewish people have been longing. He has come not to abolish or destroy the Old Testament, but to fulfill it. The donkey is a symbol of God's fidelity to the Jewish people through His Son, Jesus Christ. God has not forgotten His promise. Rather, He has been preparing them for the coming of someone much greater than they were expecting.

Second, Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey to remind the people of God of the true foundation upon which His Kingdom is built. Jesus does not come as the king of violence. He does not ride into Jerusalem on a war chariot. He comes not to conquer by physical force or worldly power. Christ comes in peace and poverty. He comes to build His kingdom on the grace of humility and love. He conquers sin and death, not by force but by sacrifice, by His Body and Blood given freely on the cross. Jesus' entrance on a donkey reminds us of the true nature and mission of Christ and His Church.

As we begin our celebration of Holy Week, may we be reminded of the paradox of the donkey. May we be reminded that a humble life is a royal life; that God's kingdom is for those who seek not worldly power, but the peace and joy of sacrifice.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Jesus Wept

04-06-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Although today's Gospel (John 11:1-45) is a long one, it contains the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35: "Jesus wept." These two simple words are very powerful. Our Lord wept at the death of his friend Lazarus and the suffering experienced by Lazarus' family and friends. Jesus was so moved by the sufferings of others that he was led to tears Himself. Even though Jesus knew that He had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, He still chose to share in the sufferings of those around Him.

This is a very important message for us. Often times when we go through tragic experiences we feel as if God is far away from us. Today's Gospel reminds us that Christ suffers with us when we go through tragic experiences. Even though our faith reminds us that we have nothing to fear and that Christ is the God of new life, Jesus has incredible compassion for us. Just as Jesus wept over the death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus weeps with us during our times of great sufferings. Christ is not far from us during these tragic moments. Rather, he is closer to us than we could possibly imagine.

When you go through tragedies in this life, remember that Christ is close to you. Remember that Christ suffers with you. Remember Jesus' tears. Remember Christ's power to raise Lazarus from the dead. He is not far from you. He is closer than you know. Allow the raising of Lazarus to give you the consolation and comfort of knowing the presence of Jesus Christ.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will