Father's Corner

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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

Belief and Unbelief

03-30-2014Father's CornerFr. Chris Axline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today’s Gospel about the man cured of his blindness we see the struggle between belief and unbelief, the expected and the unexpected as Jesus performs an extraordinary miracle. On the one hand we have this man miraculously cured of his blindness by Christ, and on the other, we have the Pharisees. The Pharisees doubt Jesus’ power because they see God only as they want to see Him, rather than as He truly is.

Too often we act more like the Pharisees than the blind man. We refuse to see God working right in front of us because it is not the way we want God to work. Like the Pharisees, we become comfortable with the systems, institutions, and rules we put before us so that when God does something “outside the box” we react with doubt and disbelief, ridiculing the ones who bring us God’s message. This was the struggle of the Pharisees; they confused the message with the messenger. Because of their own expectations and false ideas about God they have judged this man and therefore close their hearts to God, “You were born totally in sin, and you are trying to teach us?”

Today, therefore, we see that Christ desires to come to us in our blindness and that it is only by admitting our blindness and our need for Christ that we can come to be healed, to see clearly, and have life. If we seek to confine Christ, giving Him only certain parameters through which His grace can touch our hearts, then we will turn into the Pharisees and no longer see Christ at work today. This is what our Lenten practices are all about, helping us to deconstruct those things which truly make us blind so that we can see Christ clearly and come to believe in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us thus ask Christ to come into that area of our hearts in which we are still blind and ask Him to heal us. Let us pray for the grace to be able to examine our lives, not out of fear, but in hope; so that by admitting our faults and failings, we can find our merciful Savior gazing upon us with Love, freeing us from our sin and leading us to union with Him for eternity!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Chris

Temptation Part III

03-23-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Temptation Part III

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I would like to finish our reflection on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (Matthew 4:1-11). Our first reflection was concerned with the work of God and the temptation to reduce it to the mere satisfaction of worldly needs. Last week, we looked at Satan's second temptation: to test God as if he were a mere worldly product, thus distorting man's proper relationship with God. In the third temptation, Satan tries to confuse Jesus about God's true identity.

In this temptation, Satan takes Jesus up to a very high mountain, shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and then promises Him all of these kingdoms if He is willing to prostrate Himself before Satan and worship him as if he were God. This particular temptation is a distortion of the identity of God as the one to whom all worship is directed. Satan is more or less asking Jesus to treat him as if he were something else. Satan is not God. He is merely a fallen angel. Jesus knows this. Jesus knows that Satan is not to be worshipped. This is why Jesus responds with the words, "The Lord your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve."

This is an all too familiar temptation for us. How often are we tempted to worship something that isn't God? All the time! We put so many things before God: sports, work, money, sex, power, popularity, television, household chores, etc… When any one of these things becomes more important than our relationship with God, when we compromise our faith in order to acquire some other kind of security or worldly pleasure, we have committed a form of idolatry. As Catholics, we know who God is. Yet, for some reason, we continue to live our lives as if He isn't God. Lent is an opportunity for us to change this. It is an opportunity for us to stop worshiping false Gods, and to start worshiping Jesus as the true God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask the Lord during this Lenten season to increase our desire for Jesus Christ and decrease our desire for worldly things so that we do not fall into the sin of idolatry. May God help us to burn with love for Christ, so that we might be the amazing instruments of His glory that He has created us to be. May we have the courage and fortitude to stand strong in the face of temptation and rejoice in the victory won by Jesus' self gift on the Cross.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Temptation Part II

03-16-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I would like to continue with our reflection on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent (Matthew 4:1-11). Last week, we looked at the Satan's first temptation: to reduce the work of God to the mere satisfaction of physical needs (to turn stones into bread). In the second temptation, Satan tries a different tactic.

In this temptation, Satan takes Jesus to the parapet of the Temple and asks Jesus to test God by jumping off the parapet to see if the angels will really come to his aid and protect him from falling. In this temptation, Satan is challenging the appropriate relationship that man is called to have with God. Satan is asking Jesus to "test" His Heavenly Father to ensure His love for Him. This is an easy temptation to fall into. Haven't we all asked ourselves the following question, "If God really is who He says He is, then why not make him prove it?" The problem with this line of thinking is that God isn't some material product that we can test. He is not something that we create and manipulate. He is a person to be known and loved, not a product to be tested. The second temptation is to reverse the roles of the man/God relationship: to make ourselves the Creator and to make God our creation.

In the movie, Prince Caspian, Peter asks Lucy a challenging question: "If Aslan was going to help us, wouldn't he have proven himself to us already?" Lucy's response is profound: "Maybe it isn't Aslan who needs to prove himself to us, maybe it is us who need to prove ourselves to Aslan." In this scene Peter has fallen prey to the second temptation of Christ. He has fallen into the trap of making himself the Creator and God the creation to be tested. The only way to know and love God is to approach Him as He is and as we are. We must approach the Lord as humble creatures desiring to know our beautiful Creator. We fall into this temptation when we pridefully make demands of God as if He owed us something. The truth that we must come to understand is that everything we have is a gift from God. He owes us nothing. Rather, we owe him everything.

Brothers and sisters, let us not distort our relationship with God. May this season of Lent be a reminder for us that God is not a product to be tested, but a person to be known and loved. May our spiritual practices this Lent help us grow in humility so that we can come to know the greatness of Jesus Christ.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Temptation Part I

03-09-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 4:1-11), Satan tries to tempt Jesus by challenging Him over three important topics: the work of God, man's relationship with God, and the identity of God. For the next three weeks, I would like to use my bulletin letter to review these three significant temptations and how they connect to our lives.

The first temptation deals with the issue of the true nature of the work of God, and is presented in the suggestion that Jesus should turn stones into bread. Jesus has been wandering around in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights and hasn't eaten a thing. We can imagine that Jesus was very hungry. Satan tries to convince Jesus that if He is the Son of God, then he should satisfy His hunger by transforming the stones around Him into food for Him to eat. This seems like a very logical thing to do. After all, isn't the quickest way to a man's heart through his stomach? Yet, Jesus doesn't fall into Satan's trap. Jesus recognizes that His real "hunger" is not for food, but for souls. What Jesus longs for most is not the satisfaction of worldly desires, but the restoration of man's relationship with God. Jesus knows that He did not come into the world merely to bring about worldly satisfaction. In other words, the true nature of the mission and work of God is not merely to feed the hungry stomach, but the hungry soul. This is why Jesus responds to Satan with the words, "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

We fall prey to Satan's trap when we reduce the faith to mere charitable works. We fall into this specific temptation when we think that if we do some charitable work like feeding the homeless, that we have satisfied the Gospel demand and that God will now turn his eyes away from our own sinfulness. The Lord, first and foremost, desires the sinner to repent of his own sinfulness. This is why the words spoken to us as we received our ashes on Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) was, "Repent and believe in the Gospel!" Once we have experienced the mercy and forgiveness of Christ, then the repentant sinner is called to do charitable works in His glorious name. The social teachings of the Church and the Gospel demand to live them out find their origin and strength in an encounter with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. We must never forget that the work of God is primarily (not secondarily) the forgiveness of sins. If we do one thing this Lent and nothing else, we should make sure to go to confession. It is the most important thing that we can do.

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Whom Do We Serve?

03-02-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Too often we find ourselves overly preoccupied with worldly things. How many times have we found ourselves saying things like, "I can't be happy without this career, without this particular relationship, or without this level of income?" We become so sucked into the things of this world that we become slaves to it, and lose our freedom to love God with all our mind, heart, and soul.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34), Jesus reminds us of the important truth that we cannot live for God and worldly things at the same time. Otherwise, we will end up loving the world and not God. A preoccupation with worldly things distracts us from the spiritual life and causes us to fall into sin.

In the Gospel, God is not telling us that we should never be concerned with food, clothing, or shelter. Rather, God is telling us that our concern for such things should always be set in the context of our first and most important concern: our love and complete devotion to God. Food, clothing, and shelter are means to an end. They serve as sustenance and support for our mission as disciples of Christ. When we make the acquisition of wealth the focal point of our life, the love of God fades into the background until it can no longer be found. We cannot allow the worries of the world to cause our love and devotion for God to fade away. Nothing should separate us from having a strong spiritual life in Christ.

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