From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family,

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

About the first time I saw Smokey and the Bandit, I remember hearing a song on the radio in which the singer remarked that the hardest part was waiting. I don’t remember what she was waiting for; maybe it was the second coming of Jesus… though perhaps that is not likely; after all, it was the ’70s and songs anticipating the return of Christ did not typically get a lot of play on K.I.Q.Q. Los Angeles. Still, I think, in charity, we can assume it was the return of Our Lord for which she longed.

Waiting is hard, and the anxieties of daily life are many. How easy it is to become distracted from our vigil and maybe even to forget exactly what it is for which we wait.

As we enter this Advent season, let us remain focused on Our Lord and pause a moment to ask ourselves what things we might be doing differently in our lives if we knew we would stand face-to-face with Christ tomorrow. It is never too soon to start doing those very things.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family,

I am regularly amazed at man’s capacity to call evil good and to call good evil. I’m not surprised that it happens — after all, our fallen nature frequently drives us to justify some things for which there is no justification. I’m just amazed at how good at it some people are.

For those of us who desire to do good and to walk in the way of peace, we must be diligent to not be lead astray by those who sugar-coat lies and make them sound sweet. In our age, this has become a major industry with professional working around the clock to sway our opinions and shape our desires.

In the midst of the cacophony of modern life, Christ alone leads us to the fullness of truth. Christ tells us, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. ”

Let us strive always to hear Christ’s call and to live in the truth, which is the path to everlasting life.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

Homily for Sunday, November 15, 2015 – the 33rd in Ordinary Time

The liturgical year is drawing to a close.; we are only a few weeks away from Advent and the beginning of the new Church year. This is the time of year when we hear readings from the prophets and from the evangelists about tribulations… about times unsurpassed in distress… about the stars falling from the sky and the powers in heaven being shaken.

These readings are given for out instruction, but some people make them an obsession. There are always those who claim to have discovered a secret that lets them know when the world will end and Jesus will come again.

This isn’t a surprise. Holy Scripture warns us of false prophets and of false messiahs. I have long believed that almost everyone thinks at some level that the world will end in his lifetime. The next time you drive past a cemetery, take a moment to reflect on all of the many people who were wrong on that count. Probably, the world will not end in our life time. Probably, the world can endure quite nicely without any one of us being there to help it along.

Now, I’m not saying the world will never end or that Jesus will never return. It will end; He will be there when it does. But do you want to know a secret?

Jesus will be there; He’s already here.

He is with us in the proclamation of His Holy Word. He is with us in the prayers and songs of Mass. He is with us Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. He is present in Father acting in the Person of Christ at the consecration. And He is present in each and every one of us and in our brothers and sisters around the world, who make up the Body of Christ.

We should worry less about the end of the world and think more about the end of our own life. We should worry less about seeing Christ coming on a cloud with bands of angels and prepare more for meeting Him at the end of our own allotted time on this earth.

It is wise to recognize that our time on earth is limited; it is prudent to prepare for our own end. The Church teaches us that there are Four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Every one of us will see three of them. We will all die; we will all be judged. We will all ultimately find ourselves spending eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell.

We should – we must – prepare for our own end. It may come sooner; it may come later… but there is one guarantee: we will be there when it does. Not a single one of us will miss attending our own death.

The end of the world will come also, but many have died without seeing it and many more are likely to die before it comes. Besides, if you are ready for your own judgment, you will be ready for the world’s judgment should you happen to live to see it.

A fascination with the end of the world is, really, at its core a fascination with the world. We should not let the world that is passing away distract us from that which endures forever: the love God has for us and the love we should have for God. Let us pray especially during these last days of the liturgical year for the strength and the wisdom to live our lives in friendship with Christ and in a state of grace, so that when we come to the end of our earthly journey we can take our place in the company of saints in heaven, which is the end that God desires for each one of us.

 

??From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family,

I have long believed that every person at some level expects to see the end of the world. I don’t suppose that is really so surprising when you come right down to it. There’s just something about fallen human nature that gives us the hubris to think — even if it is unconsciously — that the world just couldn’t possibly go on without us. And though everyone might believe it at some level, it also bears pointing out that the graveyards are full of people who also thought it and were wrong.

As we approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year, it is little wonder that we hear readings at Mass about tribulations… about prophecies of end times… about the return of the Son of Man.

Will Christ return? Yes; absolutely. Will it be tomorrow? Probably not. Will it be soon? Probably not. Will it be in our lifetime?

Probably not.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be ready. The wise man knows that the world can and probably will go on without him. The prudent man lives every day as if he will be judged tomorrow. It is best to be both wise and prudent.

Whether or not we see the end of the world and the return of Christ the King, one thing remains sure: each one of us will one day be judged by Christ: death, judgment, heaven, and hell. These are the Four Last Things; we are all guaranteed three of them. Let us pray for the grace to live our lives in preparation for that which is certain: our own judgment. If each of us focuses on that, I doubt any of us will have much time left over to worry about the end of the world.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family,

You may have heard the thoroughly modern saying, forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads.

While there is a certain humor to that, there is also an undeniable theological weakness. Far better advice is this: Forgive, and have no enemies, for your eternal salvation depends on it.

Consider that the Lord’s Prayer — the prayer Jesus gives us directly and the prayer that is considered to be one of the most complete and most perfect prayers that a person can pray — asks God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we refuse to forgive others, why should God forgive us? Shouldn’t we, as a matter of justice, be held to the same standard to which we desire to hold others? Shouldn’t we be judged by the same measure by which we ourselves judge?

A refusal to forgive is a refusal to love our neighbor as ourself. Any fool can stay angry; it takes true wisdom to see that we need to forgive others and to be forgiven ourselves. It takes real humility to see that forgiving and being forgiven is vital for our own salvation and for that of our brothers and sisters. God is love; to cling to hate is to drive God away.

True forgiveness comes from reconciliation. We are not built for bitterness and anger; we are built for love and happiness. Letting go of anger allows us to move closer to God.

When we forgive, we let go of old hurts and move toward peace. When we realize that we need to seek forgiveness ourselves, we reconcile with our brothers and sisters who we may have wronged and we grow in wisdom and understanding. We move closer to God, and that should be the goal of each and every one of us.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard

From the Desk of Deacon Richard…

Dear Parish Family,

Please note: in no place in the Gospel does Jesus say, “Blessed are those who refrain from shooting some jerk in the face with a bazooka when he really deserves it, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” He does, however, say “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Christ also doesn’t say that being a peacemaker is easy; however, for those of us who desire to see God, it is vital. Being a true follower of Christ means desiring to act like Christ. We are called to something higher than merely refraining from violence; we are called to truly embrace peace.

Our world and our community are filled with violence. We turn on the news and hear about real-life people killing each other over petty squabbles; we watch a movie and see so-called heroes perpetrating death and destruction on a huge scale presented under the guise of entertainment. Video games seem mainly to involve looking down the sights of a gun at another player.

It’s easy to say that’s not us; that there is a different between entertainment and reality. And, sure — there is a difference… there is a blurry, blurry line between the two. And what do I suggest doing about it? What do we do to fix the world?

Absolutely nothing, I suppose. I’m not looking to fix the world from the top down. I’d rather fix myself and trust the world to tend to its own problems. I’d rather start at the ground floor and work up. And, for me, the fix involves unblurring the line a little bit… it involves rejecting the violence and embracing the role of peacemaker, for there is no higher calling than to be counted among the Children of God.

Peace,
Dcn. Richard