Father's Corner

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Pastoral Council

02-23-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the primary ways in which a Pastor fulfills his obligation of working collaboratively with the faithful and effectively serving the needs of his parishioners is through the work of the Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Council is an advisory council made up of various parishioners who meet on a regular basis to aid the Pastor in assessing the needs of the parish, establishing priorities, and making decisions concerning the allocation of parish resources. For the past year and a half, much work has been done with the Pastoral Council. We have updated our guidelines and statues, ensuring their compliance with those of the Diocese of Phoenix, and we have established a strategic plan to advance our parish mission of witnessing the love of Jesus Christ through evangelization, catechesis, and the celebration of the Sacraments. I feel richly blessed by the members of the Pastoral Council. They are faithful Catholics who love the Church and St. Mary Magdalene Parish. This weekend during the 9:30 am Mass, I will perform a special blessing and commissioning of the Pastoral Council. We have recently finished our revision of the guidelines, statutes, and strategic plan and I feel that now is the appropriate time to give them a public blessing and commission them as they continue to assist me in fulfilling my obligations and duties as Pastor. Please take time to offer a special prayer for the members of the Pastoral Council. Pray specifically that we will always place Jesus Christ and His will at the center of all that we do.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The following are the members of the Pastoral Council for St. Mary Magdalene Parish:

Mike Rimbey (President), David Hillier (Vice-President), Sherry McCarville (Secretary), Jane Douglas, Clint Leonard, Mike McCartney, Debbie Rinell, Ric Serrano, Scott Fleckenstein, and Walt Stenborg.

Emotions

02-16-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As human beings, we are emotionally invested in the world as much as we are physically and intellectually. We experience all kinds of emotions everyday and sometimes we are unsure what to do with these emotions. Jesus knows that our emotions play an integral role in the way we live our lives. In a way, today's Gospel (Matthew 5:17-37) is a beautiful teaching by Christ on the role of emotions in the human person. Yet, Jesus' teaching is easily misunderstood and needs some clarification.

First, it is important to understand that emotions are morally neutral: they are neither good, nor bad by themselves. Rather, emotions become good or bad based on two things: (1) the object they are directed toward and (2) the degree with which they are ordered toward their object. What does this mean?

An emotion is considered a good one if it is the proper response to a particular stimulus. For example, anger is an appropriate response to an act of injustice, or grief is an appropriate response to the death of a loved one. These are appropriate corresponding emotions. An example of an improperly ordered emotion would be anger directed toward the birth of a child. Anger is not the reasonable or appropriate response to that particular stimulus.

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CDA

02-09-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When I was in the seminary I was able to be a full-time student and spend the vast majority of my time focusing on the necessary preparations for the priesthood. It was a blessing that I didn't have to worry about school payments or trying to find various ways to pay for my seminary formation. My attention and focus was on becoming the priest that God wanted me to be. It was the generosity of Catholics throughout the Diocese of Phoenix through the Charity and Development Appeal (CDA) that afforded me this great blessing.

The CDA impacts our diocese in so many ways. Providing a seminary formation for priesthood candidates is just one of the many ways CDA contributions support the great work of our diocese. This week, we begin our annual collection for the CDA. I would like to invite each and every family from St. Mary Magdalene to prayerfully consider supporting the CDA.

As a beneficiary of this great appeal, I can promise you that your donation will make a huge difference. Our parish goal this year is $90,000. Please take some time this week and visit the CDA website to learn about the great charities the CDA supports (www.diocesephoenix.org/cda). Also, please ask God in prayer how He might be inviting you to make a contribution this year. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Presentation of the Lord

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the feast of the presentation of the Lord. In the Old Testament, the Mosaic Law prescribed that each first born male was to be presented to the Lord in the Temple as an offering and that the mother was obliged to fulfill ritual purification laws. Sometimes this celebration is referred to as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. St. Bernard found this feast to be somewhat ironic. Why?

The Blessed Virgin Mary was immaculately conceived and was thus free of sin and full of grace. Why must she go to the Temple to be purified? She is not in need of purification. She is the living tabernacle of the Lord. With Mary, there is nothing unholy. She could have easily demanded special treatment and ignored this ritual. Yet, in her humility she chose to obey the law. Instead of asking to be exempted from this law (which she had every right to do), she chose to be like every other woman and fulfill it.

How often do we ask for special treatment? How often do we find ourselves trying make ourselves the exception, and not the rule? Mary teaches us today that we need to be more humble. Even when we deserve special treatment, even when we are the exception, it is good for our humility to not ask for such things (Let's be honest though...most of the time we don't really deserve it). Our pride is often the factor behind why we ask us for such things.

Mary is the model of discipleship. She shows us how to be a faithful follower of Christ. Christ asks that we humble ourselves. Mary is a phenomenal example of such humility. As we celebrate this great feast day today, may we ask the Lord for the strength to grow in the virtue of humility. May we set aside our pride and stop asking for so much special treatment and exemptions. May we be content with going unnoticed as Our Lady was content with going unnoticed.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Prayer and Work

01-26-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 4:12-23), we hear Matthew's account of how Jesus invites Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him in His public ministry. Notice the location where Jesus calls these four incredible pillars of our Church. He calls them while they are at work. They were fisherman. Catching fish was their particular trade. Jesus comes to them while they are hard at work. This is a significant detail. One of the comments I hear often as a priest is, "Father, I can't find time to pray, I have too much work." Although work is not the ideal prayer environment, and we should set aside time for prayer separate from work, sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we can't pray while we work; that prayer is impossible while working. Today's Gospel is a beautiful response to this issue. The Apostles were so close to Christ that they were able to respond to His invitation even while they were at work. Work did not keep them from Christ. Rather, their hearts were oriented toward Christ even while they performed activities that were not particularly religious.

St. Basil offers a beautiful reflection about praying while working: "In the midst of our work we can fulfill the duty of prayer, giving thanks to Him who has granted strength to our hands for performing our tasks, and cleverness to our minds for acquiring knowledge...Thus we acquire a recollected spirit, when in every action we beg from God the success of our labors and satisfy our debt of gratitude to Him...and when we keep before our minds the aim of pleasing Him." The task before us at all times is to orient everything we do toward Jesus Christ. Even though we may not have the opportunity to focus our minds on religious things, we can dedicate every ounce of our labor to the one who created us and sustains us. May God bless us with the grace to be like the Apostles and hear the voice of God inviting us into relationship with Him, even when we are hard at work.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

March for Life

01-19-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week, eleven young adults from St. Mary Magdalene will be participating in the 41st annual March For Life in Washington, D.C. Each year around a half a million people gather at our nation's capital to walk from the national mall to the Supreme Court building on the anniversary of the Supreme Court Case, Roe vs. Wade, to peacefully protest for an end to abortion and for a greater respect for the dignity of human life in all its stages. The March For Life is the largest human rights demonstration in the entire world.

As the spiritual father of this parish, I feel it is extremely important for me to be with our young adults as they provide a beautiful witness of the Gospel and ask our government to put an end to the destruction of innocent human life. Although most of you will not be with us in Washington, D.C., you can be in solidarity with us through prayer. I am asking the entire parish to join us in prayer on Wednesday, January 22 as we provide a voice for the unborn. Please take a few moments that day and pray with us. Please also pray for safe travels for us, as the weather back east this time of year is not always the best. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. Through the power of Jesus Christ, all things are possible!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Making Holy the Waters

01-12-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. Have you ever wondered why Jesus was baptized? Jesus is the Son of God, a divine person of the Holy Trinity. He was not born with original sin. Why would He need baptism?

Jesus was baptized, not because He needed it nor because He was a sinner, but because He wanted to pave the way for us who are sinners and who are in need of God's mercy. Jesus was baptized to make holy the waters of baptism. By making the waters holy, Jesus established the ordinary means by which we are drawn into a life of grace in the Church.

Baptism is a very important Sacrament. Christ commands us to go and baptize all nations (Matthew 28:19) and reminds us that our path to salvation runs through the Sacrament of Baptism (John 3:5). We should never underestimate the power of this Sacrament. At baptism, we are made into new creatures. We are permanently marked by God and given special graces to live a life for Christ. We must constantly ask the Holy Spirit to help us cooperate with our baptismal graces and live the life that God has called us to live. Our faith must continue to grow after baptism. This is why every year during the Easter season we renew our baptismal promises, so that our faith will continue to grow within the Catholic community.

As we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus Christ, may we never forget that we share in His Baptism. He made holy the waters that washed away our original sin and permanently designated us as children of God. May we always show our gratitude for these graces by living a life entirely for Him.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Changed

01-05-2014Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12), we hear the beautiful story of the Magi who came from distant lands to adore the newborn king. One of the best parts of the story is the final line of the Gospel (verse 12): "They departed for their country by another way." This is a very interesting detail. They cannot return by the same route because things have changed. The birth of Jesus has changed the status quo. This is true for all those who have an encounter with Christ. Once you have an encounter with Christ, you cannot go back to the person you were before. Christ changes things. In particular, He changes us. Is this not the same thing that happened to St. Paul? After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, his life was radically different.

All of us need to ask ourselves this question: "Is my life different because of Jesus Christ?" If the answer is no, then we are most likely doing something wrong. Christ changes the way we see the world, and as a result, He changes the way we live our lives. However, we must not interpret this change as something negative. Change is not always a bad thing, change can sometimes be a good thing. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all our desires. An encounter with Him brings us a sense of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment that the world cannot bring. We should not be afraid of the changes that Christ brings. We should welcome them, as difficult as they may be. May the grace of Jesus Christ continue to transform your life so that you may always stand strong as sons and daughters of God.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Fathers and Mothers of Faith

12-29-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. In today's Gospel (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23), we hear of St. Joseph's incredible commitment to Jesus and Mary. Notice in the Gospel how St. Joseph always puts the child Jesus first. Nothing is said in the Gospel of how St. Joseph reestablishes himself in Egypt to provide for his family. Nothing is said of the heavy burden St. Joseph bore to escort his family to safety to Egypt. All that is mentioned is the obedience of St. Joseph in executing God's plan for Jesus. Whenever the child was in need, St. Joseph responded. St. Joseph didn't need to receive any glory or honor. Selflessly serving his adopted son and ensuring his safety was enough for him.

In today's society, children are often considered an afterthought. So many other things are placed before them: jobs, financial security, hobbies, vacation, etc... It is truly unfortunate how we see parents putting other things before their children! St. Joseph is a reminder that children must always come first. Children are the fruit and joy of the family and should always be cherished as such.

Today's Gospel also reminds us of the importance of God in the life of parents. St. Joseph's cooperation with God and his plan is a necessary component of Jesus' wellbeing. St. Joseph's cooperation with God's plan is what ensures the safety of Jesus. Parents often struggle to protect the spiritual wellbeing of their children because they forget to cooperate with God's grace. If we want our children to live a Catholic life and have their spiritual needs provided for, parents must first seek to give them a living example. St. Joseph listens to the instructions of the angel and provides a living example of what it means to be a man of faith. Fathers must be men of faith and mothers must be women of faith if they want their children to be sons and daughters of faith. As we celebrate the Holy Family today, let us pray for all Christian families. Let us pray especially that children might be placed first and that fathers and mothers might be stronger examples of faith for their children.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Faith in a Crisis

12-22-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A friend of mine once wrote to me in a letter, "A man's true character is measured in a crisis."

In today's readings we see two men facing different crises. One man chooses to trust in the power of men, the other chooses to trust in the power of God. In today's first reading (Isaiah 7:10-14), we are drawn into the story of King Ahaz and the crisis of the kings of Damascus and Israel plotting to unseat him and replace him with a new king. Panic-stricken in the face of this crisis, Ahaz decides to trust in the king of Assyria rather than in the Lord. Instead of asking for a sign from God and using this crisis as an opportunity to strengthen his relationship with the Lord, Ahaz puts his trust in worldly power.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24), we are drawn into St. Matthew's account of the birth of Christ. In this account, we see St. Joseph in a crisis. He is faced with the knowledge that his bride-to -be is pregnant. Since he has not had relations with Mary, he knows that this child is not his own. Unlike Ahaz, who chose to trust in the power of men, St. Joseph chooses to trust in the power of God. He listens to the message of the angel and responds with an act of great faith. Even though he knows he is not the biological father of Jesus, he accepts Jesus as his son and Mary as his bride.

As we meditate on the characters of Ahaz and St. Joseph during these days leading up to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let us ask ourselves if we are men and women of good character in the face of a crisis. Let us pray that when things get difficult, we might be like St. Joseph and trust in the power of God, rather than the power of men. May God increase our faith as we celebrate this Christmas.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Anticipatory Signs

12-15-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today's first reading (Isaiah 35:1-6, 10) is a reflection from the prophet Isaiah on what it will be like when the Jews are allowed to return from the Babylonian Exile. In this beautiful reflection, Isaiah reminds God's people that although the return to their homeland will be through the harsh desert, it will also be a time of spring and joy. The blooms of the various flowers in the desert and the joyful songs that will be on the lips of the exiles as they return to Jerusalem will give them strength as they make the harsh journey home.

From time to time, this world can be harsh. Many of us have encountered various struggles this past year. Some of us have lost loved ones. Some of us have lost jobs. Some of us have gone through serious trials that have caused our faith to waiver. For those of us who have experienced difficulties this past year, this first reading should be a great sign of hope and peace for us. All of us are pilgrims on a journey to our heavenly homeland in God's eternal kingdom. Although our journey often takes us through difficult deserts, God wants us to know that his kingdom is worth the journey. We should hold on to and value the little signs that the Lord gives us along the way that are meant to remind us of the glory that is to come. Just as Isaiah promises the blooming flowers and the joyful songs as anticipatory signs of what will be brought to fulfillment in the final return to Jerusalem, so too does God give us various anticipatory signs communicating to us the fulfillment of our desires that will happen when we reach our heavenly destination. One of these beautiful signs is the rose colored vestment that the priest wears at Mass, which reminds us of the glory that will come. It is a reminder of spring and the new life that comes from it. For those who have prepared, Christ's return will be a glorious moment of "everlasting joy" where "sorrow and mourning will flee."

As we transition into the second half of this Advent, may our hearts be filled with a greater sense of peace and strength, that we might fix our gaze on what is to come, and to sing joyfully in anticipation of it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Cultural Catholicism

12-08-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Matthew 3:1-12), John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus by reminding the Jewish people of the importance of conversion. For many, John's message is challenging. Not everyone is excited about conversion. There were many people who thought that conversion was unnecessary. They thought that since they were of Jewish ethnic descent that the message of repentance was not for them. John warns the Pharisees and Sadducees of this mistake: "Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones." John's message to the Jewish people is that their physical descent from Abraham is not what will save them. Rather, the conversion of their lives will be the act that brings them to salvation. The true sons and daughters of Abraham are those who hear the word of God and respond to it with conversion of mind and heart.

In today's world, we see a similar version of the problem that John the Baptist encountered in the Gospel. There is a kind of "cultural Catholicism" that exists in the world today that feels very similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees. There are many Catholics in the world today who want to be known and identified as Catholics, but who do not seek conversion or repentance of their sins. They are culturally Catholic, but not spiritually Catholic. They have received their Sacraments and some form of Catholic upbringing, but have not allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sink into their hearts and transform their lives. They are content with their sins, even though they know that both Jesus Christ and His Church are constantly inviting them to change their ways. They live life on their own terms rather than on God's terms.

The message of John the Baptist is a powerful one. It is one that should cause all of us to ponder some serious questions. Have I allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change my life? Do I put my relationship with God above other things? Am I sorry for my sins and want to change my sinful behaviors? Do I trust God's plan more than my own? In pondering these questions, all of us should begin to see the need for repentance in our lives. In a way, all of us are guilty of being cultural Catholics and are in need conversion. May the grace of Jesus Christ destroy the false security of our cultural Catholicism and help us to be true descendants of Abraham and authentic disciples of Christ. May Christ continue to draw us into deeper conversion and give us repentant hearts.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Preparing for Jesus

12-01-2013Father's CornerFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Advent is a season of preparation. We are called to begin each liturgical year making room in our lives to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that our faith is no different than any other activity. If we want to be good at it, we have to work hard. Many people think that if we just accept Jesus in our minds and hearts that He is going to do all the work. In this way, faith is treated like a magic trick. This is a false message. God doesn’t want us to be mere puppets. He wants us to freely love Him back with our lives. He never forces us to love Him. We must choose to love Him. Advent is a reminder that we need to choose Christ. Jesus is the only choice that matters. Yet, choosing to follow Jesus Christ is never easy. It takes hard work and dedication. If we want to have a great relationship with Jesus, we have to give him our time and energy.

A few years ago I read an article about a famous basketball player that spends eight hours a day in the off-season working on his basketball skills. This young man is a very talented basketball player. Yet, he recognizes that in order to remain the best he must work hard all year long, not just during the regular season. Our faith is no different. If we want to be good disciples, we must set aside the time in our lives for Jesus Christ. We must go to Mass every Sunday. We must go to confession on a regular basis. We must spend time in prayer every day. We must avoid things that will lead us into sin. If we don’t do these things, we will never truly grow in our faith. Advent is a reminder of this reality. Advent tells us that Jesus is coming and that we must prepare ourselves to receive him.

May God inspire each of us during this Advent season to prepare room in our hearts and lives for His presence. May the grace of Jesus Christ give us the courage and dedication to live our faith more fully.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will