Jesus presents us with more parables in today’s Gospel from St. Matthew. He opens the first one with “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”READ MORE
A recent ABC News headline claimed: “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” Wow, who was this ‘hate group’? The KKK, the Neo-Nazi Party? No, it was Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from right here in Scottsdale, Arizona. ADF is a civil liberties organization that consistently defends issues of Religious Liberty, the Rights of Conscience, the Sanctity of Human Life and Marriage and the Family. There are over 1900 trained attorneys that work with Alliance Defending Freedom defending pro bono the civil and religious rights of all Americans. One of its greatest accomplishments is that ADF has counter balanced the ACLU’s erosion of religious rights. They have won 5 cases at the Supreme Court in the last seven years. Not exactly a fringe group.READ MORE
Today’s readings remind us of the fact that it is God who guides us, and it is God who influences our decisions through the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel is again a series of parables shared by our Lord Jesus to teach us and to explain Holy Scripture.
Jesus tells the Parable of the Weeds and the Wheat, which is relatively clear to us in terms of the facts. However, there is an important point within it that we must acknowledge. When the decision is made to allow the weeds to grow with the wheat, it is clear the separation will occur later, not at that moment. When the decision is made as to what will be harvested and kept and what will be destroyed, that is a decision made by God.
It is somewhat a reflection of another point made in scripture. Today’s Gospel comes to us from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13; however, in just a few chapters prior to that (Chapter 7) we are told “Stop judging, that you may not be judged…for as you judge, so will you be judged.” There is no question that there are “weeds” among the flock, but it is not our place to identify them and sort them out. That is the work of God.
As Catholics and Christians we must take care not to be self-righteous and judgmental. Before we call into question someone else’s walk with God, we need to scrutinize and take care of our own. Stewardship is what we do, not what we necessarily think others should do.
Often when someone dies prematurely, their loved ones will say things such as “we did all we could.” In other words, they left no stone unturned in trying to find a treatment that would keep their loved one from dying. I realize it is a small comfort but a comfort nonetheless. The parents of baby Charlie Gard in the UK are being denied the comfort of saying, “we did all we could.”
Baby Charlie, born with a severe genetic disease, received treatment at a London hospital. When the parents requested that they wanted to take their child to the U.S. for experimental treatments (using money they had privately raised), the hospital said no. The parents appealed to the British courts and their request was denied; likewise, the request was denied when they appealed to the European Court for Human Rights. The hospital said that Charlie must “die with dignity” - whatever that means. One thing it does mean is that the hospital, and not Charlie’s parents, gets to decide when and where this child will die. All the while, the hospital and physicians talk out of both sides of their mouth: on one hand, they say Charlie has no brain activity, can’t move, eat, hear, or see; hence, treatment is futile. Then at the same time, they state that to move Charlie to the U.S. and give him experimental treatment would be torturous for the child. The hospital is making nothing more than a value judgment that low probability chances are not worth taking and that some lives are of a quality not worth trying to save. Ethicists call this Futile Care Policy, and it is the hospital or its anonymous Ethics Board, and not the patient or parent, that gets to decide when treatment is futile. This is already making its way into U.S. hospitals. Baby Charlie’s condition is not futile since there is a life-sustaining treatment available that could possibly help him survive. The hospital and the courts are refusing to acknowledge that. (This is similar to a case here at St. Joe’s Hospital, where hospital personnel performed a direct abortion and refused to admit that there were other medical options available that could have helped.)READ MORE
Since today, July 16, is the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a little history may be helpful. (Most of this comes from the Carmelite Order itself.) Mount Carmel is a mountain in the Holy Land celebrated for its sheer beauty. Stretching out into the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea, Mount Carmel in the springtime of the year is aglow with the vivacious coloring of flowering shrubs and plants - a symbol for the beauty of Mary. On that mountain, the first Carmelites, a unique group, came together. Most of them were laymen living as hermits in community. They took as their model one who appealed to many monks in the West, the Prophet Elijah. And with the passage of time, they took Mary as the companion on their journey to the Lord. Carmel stands for prayer and union with God on the holy mount. Every Carmelite house, even the smallest in the back street of some huge city, still manages to recapture something of that unique and beautiful spirit of Mount Carmel.READ MORE
In today’s Gospel Reading from St. Matthew, Christ is asked why He speaks in parables. His response in part is the statement, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Christ’s parables, of which there are many, may not always make sense to us, unless we consider them carefully. Christ’s speaking in and relating to parables has everything to do with what we call The Word. If we listen conscientiously to the Word (represented by our readings at Masses and to the homily we hear), we may, and perhaps even should grasp the meaning. The Word is filled with the deeper truths of the Bible. God opens our eyes and ears to these truths, but we must be amenable to them and must be willing to try to understand them. Too often we merely listen and do not hear. We go through the motions when our total concentration should be on what we are being told. First of all, we need to appreciate that only God can open the eyes and ears of each of us.
One of the popular phrases about stewardship is “an attitude of gratitude.” That is so important. On a bad day, even the most hardened of us can find one thing for which to be grateful, and that can adjust everything in our thought processes. Are we closed off to the teachings of Jesus? If we open our minds and concentrate, the Lord’s teachings may unfold to us like nothing we have ever experienced previously.
“I was in prison and you came to see me” (Mt 25:35)
A few years ago, God invited us to visit Him through the women that were in prison. In our weekly visits, we sought to take them the mercy and closeness of God, who always looks at us as His children and believes in us. We gave them spiritual company and catechesis. We ask you for special prayers so they can always feel the company of Christ in their lives.
Now and then, help comes from unexpected sources. In this case, it came in the form of a “Message of the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the occasion of the International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, 26.06.2017.” (Cardinal Turkson is the Prefect and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, a new department formed during the reform of the Roman Curia by Pope Francis that combined the work of four Pontifical Councils: Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, and Cor Unum. You can read the full text at: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/06/26/170626d.html#READ MORE
Does the Holy Spirit dwell within you? If you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic the answer is a resounding “yes.” However, a better question might be “Is the Holy Spirit alive within you?” We are all gifted with the Holy Spirit, but how we respond to that gift varies immensely from one person to another.
St. Paul says as much in the Second Reading from his letter to the Romans. Paul says, “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, (He) will give life to your mortal bodies also.” This produces a number of other questions for us as Catholics.
Given that the Spirit is within us, but does the Spirit guide us to Jesus? Are we prepared to be more like Jesus? Are we willing to be His disciple? And especially, Is the Spirit working in our hearts? It is there for each of us, to strengthen us and fortify us and to be with us always. However, we have to accept and embrace that fact. Living a life of stewardship is one of the ways we can do that. As our Bishops have told us in their pastoral letter on stewardship, “Stewardship is how you respond to Jesus’ call to discipleship and holiness.”
It is a challenge for sure, but it is within the grasp and the capability of each of us. We may have to work at it, but if we trust in God it is most definitely possible.
Continuing with what we shared last week about our chapel, we would like to share some thoughts about a few of the symbolisms that our chapel has. In almost all our chapels we usually use 2 materials: rock and wood. With those 2 materials, we want to show how our life and apostolate is to be.
As you look at the picture(in the bulletin), you can see the Lord is in the center of a stone wall. Our Lord is our rock and the foundation of our lives. Sometimes there are moments of joy and difficulties but the Lord is there, supporting us with His grace; the strength that we need for our own lives and in the service of others. Each stone in this wall is different and unique, in our community it is the same, each sister is unique and the Lord unites us as one heart.
We strive to remember that as the Lord is the Rock that has sustained our lives, His heart is always opened to us and giving of His love. The wood of our chapel seeks to remind us of this truth: His love is both strong and soft at the same time. We seek to serve others with these same two characteristics.
Please pray for us that we can always be opened to this special grace that Jesus gives us in the Blessed Sacrament, so we can always have Him in the center of our hearts and as the source of our apostolate.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
Today we want to share with you some good news! A month ago we inaugurated our chapel in our house. Jesus in the Eucharist is the daily source of our life and consecration, that’s why we have everyday moments of prayer (alone or in community) in which we want to seek and strengthen our friendship with the Lord as we pray for all the intentions that people ask us to pray.
If you have any intention that you want us to pray for, please let us know don’t hesitate to tell us directly or by email.
Since 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked us to observe a “Fortnight for Freedom” each year from June 21 to July 4 in order to highlight the importance of Religious Freedom. This all began after the unprecedented assault on religious liberty by the Obama Administration via the “contraception mandate.” Each year the Fortnight for Freedom aims to remind Catholics of the preciousness of their inheritance of freedom as Americans and Catholics and the necessity of standing up to threats to it.
So how have we been doing? First, let’s take a look at the local level. Through the efforts of the Arizona Catholic Conference, several key pieces of legislation were signed into law this year.READ MORE