07-17-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Charlie Goraieb

Dear Friends,

My dear brothers and sisters, I extend my love and gratitude for each of you on this Solemnity of our Patroness, Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Because the Church understands the profound importance of honoring the parish patron, we are able to supersede the given Sunday readings and prayers for this date with those for Our Lady of Mt Carmel.

Many of you are already well acquainted with the story behind our Lady of Mt Carmel. A group of monks living on Mt Carmel (located IN the Northwest of Israel) built a church and monastery honoring our Blessed Mother, thus beginning the religious order of the Carmelites which, of course continues today throughout the whole world. They did this after our Blessed Mother appeared to the monk’s superior, St Simon Stock in 1251. It was in this apparition that our Blessed Mother gave us the mystery and devotion of the Brown Scapular.

We are blessed to share in this rich heritage through our Patroness. In the midst of this weekend’s celebrations and festivities, I pray that each of you will draw closer to our Blessed Mother and experience her unique, maternal love. Happy Feast Day!!

I have spoken numerous times of the need for all of us to become more evangelistic. This is not a novel or marginal idea, but is at the heart of the mission of our Church. We exist for the salvation of souls and all of us, in one way or another, need to participate in that mission.

I understand that evangelization can be unchartered territory for many Catholics. At its simplest level, it just means being willing to show another person the way to God’s love and eternal life. That process might include explaining the truths of the faith, particularly the mystery of Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the grave. It could include explaining our hope for eternal life (many of those who profess no belief in an afterlife, but can secretly harbor a lot of doubts - especially as they start to get closer to the end of their life).

For those who claim to be “spiritual but reject religion,” we should be prepared to show them why we need the Church to direct us and keep us from fatal error. That could be the right time to talk about the great gifts of the Eucharist and the absolution of our sins in the Sacrament of Confession. For those who are carrying around a lot of sin, the idea that they can be forgiven can be almost too good to be true (but it is!). Good explanations about these topics and many others can be found at the website, Catholic.com , aka Catholic Answers. I have also found the video series; Catholicism by Bishop Barron can be very helpful for many. 

There are some other aspects of evangelization that are even more fundamental than just having good answers. We need to listen with compassion to those who have objections to our faith (even when they express those objections in an offensive way). We just don’t know what their past experience with Christianity or the Church has been. We also have to pray intensely for them. After all, it is not our eloquence that changes people’s hearts but the Holy Spirit. Our Blessed Mother can be a great assist here. A dramatic example is the conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a virulent opponent of the Catholic Church. His story can be found at aleteia.org/2017/08/14/how-a-radical-atheist-became-a-catholic-priest/

We should prepare to give our own testimony or story of our encounter with the Lord. Our personal journey to the Lord can be very powerful. If you are reading this, you have a story to tell. That is true whether you’ve been a life-long faithful Catholic or have had a conversion or reversion to the Faith. Our testimony might be the most powerful tool in our arsenal because there are no theological or philosophical rebuttals to our story.

We are living in a “post-Christian” world where even the most basic truths of our faith that we can take for granted are foreign ideas for many. Yes, of course we want to be secure in the knowledge that God is preparing a place for us, but we also want those we know and care for to participate in that eternal glory with us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Evangelization, “pray for us.”

May God bless you and your family,

Fr Charlie Goraieb