Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent is like "Spring Cleaning" for the soul

By Father Pat O'Hagan, SSCC, pastor
Holy Spirit, Hemet

The following is taken from a homily Father Pat O'Hagan presented during an Ash Wednesday Mass at Holy Spirit, Hemet.

We have entered in this beautiful season of Lent, with this message: Repent. The whole season of lent is turning ourselves to God. There needs to be a conversion. We are given three pillars for lent; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The church also gives us some advice. These are not to be done to seek praise and respect from our friends, neighbors, and those who see us. These are between ourselves and God.

I like to look at Lent as a kind of Spring-cleaning. We have things in our closet that we have had for years and years. We have them because we have grown an attachment to them. It pains us to let them go. There are things in our spiritual lives that we should have thrown out years ago, but it pains us to let it go.

I know when it comes to throwing away books. I have the greatest intention of cleaning out my library. But after I open third book I say, I can use this. I have been carrying that book for 50 years and have not read it once. So, too, in our spiritual lives, there are things that we are carrying with us that we really don’t need.

The great spiritual writer Edward Hays has put out a book on the whole process of prayer during the season of Lent. It is very much like the picture we have [at Holy Spirit, Hemet] with the mountain in back and Jesus praying before he goes up the mountain. When we read of the mountain in the scriptures, we refer to the presence of God.

Edwards Hays centers his book as if we were hikers on a climb. We are hikers going up the mountain. Each Sunday of Lent we realize it is getting more and more difficult to climb the mountain, so we have to let things go. We only take the basics with us.

That should be the way we approach lent.

There needs to be a cleansing of the heart by the time we reach Good Friday. We need to die to ourselves, die to those things that we have carried for years. So we can rise with the true Christ and his teachings.

We can sum up the entire teaching of lent with the words we use when we place the cross of ashes on your forehead, “Repent and Live the Gospel.” When we live the Gospel as pilgrims, we travel lightly through the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Church’s Rx for Cold and Flu Season

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

It’s cold and flu season once again. I know this because of all the news stories and commercials selling cough medicine pain relievers, etc. The daytime hours seem warm enough (here in southern California) that a short sleeve shirt may be in order, but the nights may dip into the 20s or 30s which cause us to become chilled and play havoc with our immune systems.

As a result, most of us will probably experience a sniffle or two at this time of the year and feel blessed if we don’t get real sick and have to miss a day or two of work or school.

When we get sick, the TV commercials tell us, “We call for Dr. Mom.”

As Roman Catholics, however, we have a team of “doctors” and “miracle workers” at our disposal. Not just the doctors (who are important!) and/or our parents or guardians who have our best interest at heart. We call them the Saints for they heal through intercessory prayer.

One of my go-to February saints is St. Blaise.
St. Blaise, Feb. 3
Each year since being ordained, I call on St. Blaise to assist the faithful as together we celebrate the Blessing of the Throats with all present at our parish grade school.

For those who aren’t familiar with the ritual, blessed candles are loosely tied together, held in the shape of a cross and held under the throat of the person receiving the blessing, while the words “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you…” are prayed aloud.

It is a special prayer for our participants and a blessing for me to be invited back each year to share in this ancient celebration of our Roman Catholic faith with our children, many of whom approach their faith with wide-eyed innocence and a sincere trust in God’s love for them. These younger aged children aren’t embarrassed or self-conscious (as many teens become) about what other people might think of them standing at the head of the line with candles stuck under their chin.

As I moved through the upper grades I can see where they start to feel awkward or concerned by the opinion of those around them, from embarrassed laughter, feigned boredom and finally (perhaps) resigned acceptance that ‘it’s a Catholic thing’.

Some of the upper classes joined me in praying the prayer, as we all should, as a community that prays for and cares for one another. They may one day take my place in the service to this joyous blessing.

Depending on their ability, I usually invite one or more of the students to join me in blessing their teacher or, occasionally, myself if I do not have assistance with the blessings (some years I am accompanied by one of our priests and other years by the principal of our school).

I emphasize that St. Blaise is praying for healing on our behalf, but it is God who does the actual blessing, healing and deliverance ‘…from every disease of the throat and every other illness.’

Like the Blessing of the Animals in October, our faith celebrates the joy and awesome love that God has for his creation and how we should always approach our Heavenly Father with a child’s sense of wonder and trust that God has made us to be his hands and feet to care for the needs of others and this planet on which we live.

It is truly our prayers, united together, that make the perfect prescription for what ails the body… Especially, the Body of Christ.

We need to safeguard this belief and never allow ourselves or our children to become so embarrassed or ashamed that we forget the medicinal value of prayer or the mercy and grace God bestows upon those who are willing to pray without ceasing

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Parent's Prayer

By Deacon Mike Jelley
Vice Chancellor of Ecclesial Services

On Monday Doogie & I got up at 4:30 so we could take our walk, pray and be at Sacred Heart, R.C. (me not Doogie) before 7. Actually I got up and Doogie literally opened one eye, closed it, sighed and went back to sleep. I dressed and slipped his leash on him at which point he stood on the bed, stretched as only a dog can stretch, coughed, licked my face and jumped down, tail wagging as if to say: ‘Let’s go, why are just standing there wiping your face?”

It was cool and quiet that early and from the top of the hill we could see the steam from the power station near the SB Airport rising straight up. That’s a sign that it’s cold and there’s no wind.

My prayer on Monday was for those who rise early, work hard and sometimes come home late, especially when husbands and wives both have to work. Our neighbors own a 24-hour convenience store. Some mornings she comes home a little after 5 having worked all night. About an hour later he heads out to work at the store all day. They have four children, a little one still at home with grandma, one in 3rd or 4th grade and two in middle school. The older ones take the bus when mom or dad can’t drive. The bus stops near the top of the hill so they have to hike up there before 6 AM to catch it. Finding time when the whole family can be together can be difficult for many families and perhaps our children (grandchildren…great grandchildren) may not appreciate the sacrifices we make to provide a home and food and a good education, or what we do to show them what faith means by the example of our lives…but God appreciates everything we do for others, especially what we do for children.

So today I’m sharing a Parent Prayer and, for all of you who do not have children of their own this simple prayer applies to you too in because of the many ways you interact with children in your ministry, your family and in many other parts of your life…let us always strive to see the world through the eyes of a child, filled with curiosity, wonder and delight…

God, our Creator and loving Parent, thank you for the gift of life. Cherish me as your daughter (son) and fill my life with the creative power of your love.

Jesus, our Savior and Brother, thank you for showing me the way of love. Be with me as I try to be like you – patient, supportive and gentle with my child. Let me share again the delight and wonder of childhood, of discovering your face in the little things: in the glistening petals of a flower touched by dew in the early morning, in the measured movements of a caterpillar and the dazzling beauty of a butterfly. Thank you for your loving arms around me when I fall.

Spirit of God, our constant Friend & Guide, thank you for leading me in the ways of faith. Help me to show my child the loving face of God during our life together. Let me bring healing to her (him) in times of pain or doubt. Help me to care for my child materially and spiritually and let us always be friends and believers together.

God, Creator, Savior and Spirit, you have trusted me with my child’s life. Help us to grow together in all that is good and right. Be with us in times of joy and in moments of sorrow or pain. Let us know that you are there for us, even when we lose sight of you. Please be the light and warmth in our home and in our hearts.