Dear Brothers & Sisters,
In this weekend Gospel, Jesus continues with other parables about the Kingdom of God. This particular passage is very dear to me. It speaks to me about the discovery of my vocation. Sometimes it’s hard to put into words what one feels, especially to explain such a different path of life. Jesus puts it actually quite simple, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Next weekend, Saturday, August 1st, five men will be ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Boston by Cardinal Sean. So today, I would like to share with you some thoughts about vocation.
Thinking about becoming a priest, or a religious sister is something a bit “strange” nowadays. Some decades before it was quite usual or even expected that one of your children would dedicate their lives to God. Now the pressure of society, as well as friends and family can be quite opposite of serving. It’s natural to ask, what do YOU want to do when you grow up, to a child or a teenager. However, it would be interesting to ask, what do you think that GOD calls you to do when you grow up? The word “vocation” comes from the Latin “vocatio”, to be called or summoned for something. God calls all of us to love him and our neighbor. That can be done by being a teacher, doctor or firefighter. We should not think about which career is best, or most profitable, but what is God calling someone to do. So, I invite you, as you talk to children, teenagers and adults, to encourage them to discern their calling. There is so much pressure today to do so many things, that can be confusing to hear that call. In the same way that we are in need of good doctors, teachers, professionals in general; we are also in need of holy priests, and religious sisters.
Personally, I never thought about becoming a priest until I was a teenager. My mind was all over the things that I thought would make me happy, or even what was most gratifying. Surely, I was thinking very worldly, mundane thoughts. In the 9 years of the seminary and the 6 years as a priest, I find it difficult to think of any other activity that would be for me as rewarding and gratifying as a priest. (By the way, I’m confident that getting married and having children is equally awesome, but my happiness shocks me because I did not think it was possible.) Thinking about everything I gave up, or what I left behind by entering the seminary, the words of this Gospel always come to my mind, “out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” There are no words to describe the happiness of celebrating the sacraments, accompanying the people in joyful and sometimes sad moments and being able to witness the miracles God does in people’s lives. When a good friend of mine became a priest, he shared with me the feeling of saying the words of absolution to someone “I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It’s true, to be able to lend ourselves to God it’s unexplainable. The same thing can be said about the words of consecration. However, none of this would be possible if some people had not encouraged me and, through prayers, sustained me in this journey. Knowing personally many of these men who will be ordained next week, as well the stories of many other priests, it’s amazing to see how there is always a group of people that have helped them to enter the seminary. Whether their grandparents, parents, different priests who have served them, or even friends and Campus ministry, there was always someone to help them. The same can be said about religious sisters.
Therefore, I invite you all to pray for vocations, to pray for those discerning and following their vocation. Also, have some conversation with your children, grandchildren and folks close to you about their vocation. We can always ask them, what if God calls you to be a priest/nun? Why not? It’s a not matter of forcing anything, but certainly we need to question ourselves if God calls them.
Finally, I would like to ask you all to pray especially for these five men who will be ordained priests next week. Maybe they will be serving us one day, or maybe your parents or your children. If would you like to accompany the ordination, I invite you to tune in Catholic TV next Saturday at 10am. It’s a beautiful celebration! I would like to invite everyone to be there, but due to the Covid, attendance will be very limited.
Here below we have the name and the picture of each one of them. Let’s ask the intercession of our Blessed Mother to protect them and St. John Vianney, patron saint of Priests, to inspire them to be Holy.
Fr. Steven Rev.
The Apostle of the Apostles
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week we will celebrate a very important feast in the Church. On July 24th the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Let’s look first what we know about her life and the mission that God sent her. A character that often is uncertain of her history. Although there is no explicit correlation between Mary Magdalene who stood with Jesus at his crucifixion and the woman caught in adultery that appears in Chapter 7 of the Gospel of Luke, we know for sure that she was the woman whom Jesus had freed from seven demons (Lk 8). Throughout the time, she was thought to be a prostitute from the city of Magdala, near Tiberias near the Lake of Galilee. Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich had visions about the life of Jesus and those near him (very interesting book to read). The movie of the Passion of Christ made by Mel Gibson used some of her revelations to fill in the story that is not reported in the Gospels. According to her, Mary of Magdala was a wealthy woman who had an immoral life looking for the love of her life. In one occasion, she ended up going out with a married man and was caught in the act of adultery. At that moment, Mary’s encounter with Jesus changed her life. She finally found the love of her life. Shortly after that, she became a follower of Christ and accompanied him to the end, to Calvary. Mourning for the loss of Jesus, she goes to give him proper burial looking for a corpse. To her surprise, she finds an angel that announces the resurrection of Christ. In her quest to search for the Lord, she continues searching for him, until the Risen Christ meets her and called her by her name, as it appears in John 20. There he sends/commissions her to tell the apostles about his resurrection. She became the apostle to the Apostles (the word Apostle means sent).
When God chooses a person for a mission, he does not look at the sinful history, the limitations of oneself or the aspirations. He simply chooses. Without Mary Magdalene, Peter and the other apostles might have never gone out to look for the Lord. This is why recently, Mary was given this title of the Apostle of the Apostles, as she was recognized by the Early Church.
Besides that, her importance to our lives is also significant. Without the love of God for her, and her response to the His love, we ourselves might feel that we are unworthy to be in the Church or to receive communion. The other day I met a person who did not want to go into the church because he said that he was not worthy. Certainly he was not worthy like myself. No one is worthy of God, but He still chooses to manifest himself to us, and invites us to love him regardless of our past. He is the one who calls us by our name to receive His Body and Blood. He made us Children of God by our baptism. In other words, if Mary Magdalene was indeed a prostitute, or someone not associated with any sinfulness, that is “irrelevant”, because God has already chosen us to reveal his love for us. Then, like Mary, let’s announce/share with others how we have seen the Lord in our lives, how he has accompanied us in our journeys and our difficulties. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I hope you all are enjoying your summer, this beautiful weather and all of God’s blessings.
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Dear Brothers & Sisters,
One of the most interesting classes I had in the seminary was an elective on American Church History. This weekend as we celebrate Independence Day, I would like to point out some facts about the historical origins of the Catholic Church in the US. We will divide this history into three parts, the Spanish Settlements in the South and West, the French territory and the British Colonies.
Moved by the desire to evangelize the native people of the Americas and to treat them humanely, the Spanish Queen Isabela began to send Catholic Missionaries all over the Spanish territories. This is how the first priests, Jesuits, arrived in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. Soon after, Franciscans also led the evangelization of the southern states. Inspired by the creation of the Reducciones or Mission settlement in South America, the new missionaries created different missions all over the Southern border. It was not until mid 18th century that California was evangelized by Saint Junipero Serra. Starting in San Diego, he founded many other missions always named after saints, St. Francis (San Francisco), St. Barbara, Saint Claire (Santa Clara).
The first evangelizers arrived in the French Territory in the early 1600’s with the creation of the settlement of Port Royal and Quebec. From there, Jesuit priests began evangelizing the native tribes of the area near Albany first with the Hurons, and then later the Iroquois and Mohawk. Saint Isaac Jogues and John Brebeuf and their companions were the first martyrs giving their life in the service of Christ. One of the many fruits of their work was the conversion of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. As the French expanded their territory to the Great Lakes, the Catholic Church accompanied their expeditions. Eventually, small settlements were founded along the Mississippi River all to way to the States of Louisiana and Alabama.
The First English Catholic Settlers arrived in Southern Maryland in the year of 1634. George Calvert, a close adviser to King James I, converted to Catholicism in 1625, by rejecting the King’s Religion. At that time, there was a large persecution against Catholics. Because of Calvert’s close relationship with the King, he was awarded land in the New Colony, which later became Maryland. Gathering more Catholics and Protestants who wanted to practice their faith in the new colony, there was an expedition that set out accompanied by some Jesuit priests. On March 25, 1634, the first mass was offered on St. Clement’s island in St. Mary’s county. One hundred years later, Baltimore became the first Archdiocese of the English World, led by the first Archbishop, John Carrol. Slowly, amid religious persecution in many other states, the Catholic Population grew, especially with the new wave of Catholic immigrants arriving from England, Germany, France and Ireland arriving in the new World.
Many men and women gave their best to bring love and faith to our great country. Now we are called to continue their work in promoting the Gospel in our daily lives. Inspired by their fearless desire to bring Jesus to others, let’s not be afraid to live out our faith.
Happy Fourth of July!