Tag Archives: new life

Daily Mass: The lesson of a grain of wheat. Catholic Inspiration

Mass Readings – Thursday of the 18th Week of the Year (St. Lawrence)

When a grain of wheat falls to the ground it dies, and through this sacrifice of itself it begets new life.  Our sacrifices – when directed by the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ – can also become a rich offering to the Lord, who will change and transform us with his gift of life.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


Easter Day

Easter Lily

Study:  When have you experienced a profound moment of change and growth?  What brought it about?

Pray:  Open your heart to Jesus Christ.  Let the joy of the resurrection transform your life.

Serve:  Claim your faith!  Let your love for the Lord direct your thoughts, words, and actions – in whatever you face today.

Easter Day Readings        Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast (posted April 20, 2014)

In the early hours of that first Easter Day we celebrate an incredible hope as word spread through the city of Jerusalem – Jesus is alive.

His followers had been crushed by the agony of the Cross.  Lost – beyond all sense of pain, sorrow, and grief – from the darkness of their fear and despair they passed on the message: we have seen him, we have touched him, we have eaten with him – the Lord has been raised!

I have always been struck by the transformational effect the resurrection of Jesus had upon his disciples:

  • Fear to Faith
  • Helplessness to Hope
  • Lament to Love
  • Cowardice to Courage

The same disciples who once fled for their lives will now go out into the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  They will face persecution, suffering, and martyrdom in order to testify to the truth of Easter Day: the Resurrection of Christ.  What’s more, they will do this with an overwhelming sense of conviction and strength.

No one can ignore the power of this effect.  The encounter with the Risen Lord changes everything.  What is there to be afraid of?  Jesus has broken the chains of sin and death – we can face anything in this world with confidence.  Jesus has triumphed, and in the light of Easter Day we now draw on his strength to face our battles with joy.

The death of Jesus on the Cross was for our sins; the resurrection of Jesus was for our lives.  The power of Easter Day directs our attention to the sacred and precious gift of life.  Life is worth fighting for, worth dying for, and worth living for – in this world and the next.  The resurrection reveals God’s love for our lives; we are worth the sacrifice of the Cross and empowered to live with faith, hope, and love.

How will we live this great promise of faith?  How will we allow the power of Easter to transform us?  For remember: the moment we acknowledge the truth of the resurrection our lives fundamentally change.  Directed by the saving work of Christ we now engage the world on new terms: we witness through word and action the love of Jesus each and every day.  With our eyes fixed on heaven we boldly walk this earth as his disciples.  We live our lives with real truth and power.  We live our lives as God’s sons and daughters.

The authentic witness of our faith is THE WAY that people truly discover Jesus.  It was true for the disciples on that first Easter Day, and it is true for disciples today.

Perhaps today is the day that our faith takes on a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives – placing Jesus first in all that we say and do.  May this Easter Day fill our hearts with grace and power to live in the light of Christ.  May we let the Lord into our hearts and allow our lives to be transformed by his love.

Christ is alive!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!


Holy Week Preparations

Holy Week

Pastoral Note: This post was originally given on April 12, 2014.  I share it once again in the hope that all of us will enter more fully into the gift of this sacred time.  Fr. Andrew

Study:  Recall a time in your life when you experienced death and new life.  Where did you find the strength?  Who helped you through this time?

Pray:  Spend some time reflecting on the death and resurrection of Jesus this week.  Read Mark 14-16; Matthew 26-28; Luke 22-24; and John 18-21.  Take in as many prayer opportunities as possible in your parish.

Serve:  Who in your life is dealing with life and death issues right now?  How might you be present to them to offer help, comfort, or strength?

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We enter into the heart of the Christian mystery: Holy Week offers us a time to pause, reflect, and pray as the Church ponders on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This mystery, often called the Paschal Mystery, recalls us to the saving work of the Lord.  His death frees of from the burdens of sin and death, and his resurrection opens for us the path to eternal life.  This mystery is profoundly experienced over the Triduum – the 3 Great Days:

  • Holy Thursday – the Mass of the Lord’s Supper
  • Good Friday – the Passion of the Christ
  • Easter (Vigil/Day) – the Resurrection of the Lord

On Holy Thursday we find ourselves in Jerusalem, eating with the disciples at the Lord’s Supper and feeling awkward as he washes their feet – wondering how we would react if he did that for us.  We might identify with Peter or Judas – especially when we consider the times we have willingly betrayed or turned our back on the Lord.

On Good Friday we experience the physical pain, emotional abandonment, and personal humiliation on the path to Calvary (also called Golgotha or Skull Place) and look on with horror at the cruel death of Jesus.  We might also consider the times we have helped others – as Simon did when he was forced to carry the Cross of Christ.    And then we stand in profound sorrow with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, helpless as the innocent suffer injustice.

On Easter we wait in vigil and rise early in the morning with Mary Magdalen, only to find to our wonder and joy that the tomb is empty:  Christ is alive!  Our world, like that of the apostles, is changed forever as we experience new hope and life.

A word to the wise – we get out of Holy Week what we put into it.  Here are some simple ways for an incredible experience.

  • Make church services a top priority – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter (Vigil or Day).
  • Take time to read and reflect on the scriptures (see at the top under “Pray”).
  • Make Holy Thursday an opportunity to offer a special act of service or kindness to another.
  • Make Good Friday fasting extra special with a gift to a particular charity that helps the poor.
  • Make Easter a time of gratitude – take a quiet moment to count our blessings and thank the Lord.
  • Find some time throughout this week to tell the people in our lives how much we love them.

May this be a time for all of us to grow closer to the Lord and one another.

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Walking with the Lord in Holy Week (March 9-12, 2015 – Our Lady of the Valley – Green Valley, AZ) This parish mission takes the listener on a journey with Christ – from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper, his Passion, and his Resurrection.

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


Easter – Our Resurrection Joy!

Easter Lily

Study:  Where in my life have I discovered God’s strength and grace?  How have others helped me?

Pray:  Where do I need God’s strength right now?  Call upon the Lord with boldness to face the challenges of life.

Serve:  How can I be an instrument of God’s strength to another?  How can I help someone today?

Easter Vigil Readings

Easter Day Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast (7 minutes, given at Cathedral on April 4, 2015)

I can only imagine the surge of excitement that went through the disciples as the word was shared.  Beyond the agony of the Cross and the sorrow of the Tomb on that first day of the week the message was proclaimed:  He’s Alive!

And everything changes.  This group of disciples – bound by fear and selfishness – are transformed with a new strength and conviction.  Their encounter with the Risen Lord will empower them to face the obstacles of this world with joy and hope.  They have seen the risen Christ…what is there to fear?  They have embraced the one who has conquered sin and death – there is NOTHING that can shake their confidence in the light of Easter morning.

This same strength comes to us.  Like the first disciples, we can turn to Jesus and allow his saving grace to renew us with a strength far beyond our own.  We can claim a hope that sustains us in the midst of our challenges and struggles.  The Easter sunrise brings light to the darkest corners of our hearts.

What in our lives needs to be touched by Jesus Christ?  We are invited to boldly come forward, receive his resurrection strength, and face whatever this world presents with confidence: the victory of Christ enlivens us to travel through life with the conviction that the grace he gave his disciples continues in our hearts today.

May this Easter season be a time of transformation and renewal; a time where we embrace the gift of our lives with a new freedom and conviction.  In the light of this Easter, may we follow the one who leads us from sin and death to the abundance of life…in this world, and the world to come.

Happy Easter!

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Walking with the Lord in Holy Week (March 9-12, 2015 – Our Lady of the Valley – Green Valley, AZ) This parish mission takes the listener on a journey with Christ – from his entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper, his Passion, and his Resurrection.


5th Sunday of Lent – A Second Chance Revisited (Year A)

 

Second Chance

Pastoral Note: The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent provide an option for using the “Year A” readings at Mass for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process.  At the Cathedral this year, we will be using Year A during these weeks for this very reason, and the reflection is offered below for all who will be hearing these readings in solidarity with those in RCIA who are joining the Church this year.

Study:  Reflect on a time when you were given a second chance.  How did you feel?  How did you respond?

Pray:  Is there something in your past that has held you back from growing?  Ask the Lord for the grace to begin again.

Serve:  Is there someone you know who could use a second chance?  How can you help them to start over?

5th Sunday of Lent Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast (from Lent 2014)

Anyone who plays games knows about second chances.  They happen in board games when we get to “roll again”, and they happen in sporting events when one team gets a break through a change in the action.  They are part of the game, and they usually bring plenty of excitement and interest.

A second chance usually gives the player new opportunities and hope.  When a second chance is offered, it provides for the possibility to correct past mistakes.  Second chances can revitalize a player’s efforts.  Simply put, they can breathe new life into the game.

In the Gospel today we hear how Jesus calls Lazarus back from the dead.  Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days, was loved by family and friends alike.  This love is witnessed in Jesus, whose tears reveal the depth of his concern.

I have always wondered how the story of Lazarus continued after this miracle.  What did people say every time they saw him?  Did people point to him as an example of the power of Jesus?  Did he wake up each day thanking God for another opportunity to love the people around him?

This miracle shows us a fundamental truth about God:  the Lord grants us second chances. Through the miracle of Jesus, Lazarus has been given back the gift of life.  This miracle provides the possibility for him to look back on the past and make a break with it.  In other words, his new life is an opportunity to begin again.

The story of Lazarus inspires us with hope.  God gives us second chances, too!  There are times when we may reflect on our lives, and we know that there is something that needs to change.  We need to let it “die” so that God can call us back to life.

Perhaps we have acted or spoken in a way that has been harmful to another.  Perhaps we have abused our bodies or put ourselves or others at risk through unwise choices.  Or maybe an event or decision in the past has kept us from living our lives in the present.

Whatever it is, God gives us a second chance.  Through his journey from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, Jesus makes it possible for us to break from sin and live in the light of God’s grace.  We can start again, living with the faith, hope, and love that can only come from Jesus Christ.


Easter Day

Easter Lily

Study:  When have you experienced a profound moment of change and growth?  What brought it about?

Pray:  Open your heart to Jesus Christ.  Let the joy of the resurrection transform your life.

Serve:  Claim your faith!  Let your love for the Lord direct your thoughts, words, and actions – in whatever you face today.

Easter Day Readings        Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

In the early hours of that first Easter Day we celebrate an incredible hope as word spread through the city of Jerusalem – Jesus is alive.

His followers had been crushed by the agony of the Cross.  Lost – beyond all sense of pain, sorrow, and grief – from the darkness of their fear and despair they passed on the message: we have seen him, we have touched him, we have eaten with him – the Lord has been raised!

I have always been struck by the transformational effect the resurrection of Jesus had upon his disciples:

  • Fear to Faith
  • Helplessness to Hope
  • Lament to Love
  • Cowardice to Courage

The same disciples who once fled for their lives will now go out into the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  They will face persecution, suffering, and martyrdom in order to testify to the truth of Easter Day: the Resurrection of Christ.  What’s more, they will do this with an overwhelming sense of conviction and strength.

No one can ignore the power of this effect.  The encounter with the Risen Lord changes everything.  What is there to be afraid of?  Jesus has broken the chains of sin and death – we can face anything in this world with confidence.  Jesus has triumphed, and in the light of Easter Day we now draw on his strength to face our battles with joy.

The death of Jesus on the Cross was for our sins; the resurrection of Jesus was for our lives.  The power of Easter Day directs our attention to the sacred and precious gift of life.  Life is worth fighting for, worth dying for, and worth living for – in this world and the next.  The resurrection reveals God’s love for our lives; we are worth the sacrifice of the Cross and empowered to live with faith, hope, and love.

How will we live this great promise of faith?  How will we allow the power of Easter to transform us?  For remember: the moment we acknowledge the truth of the resurrection our lives fundamentally change.  Directed by the saving work of Christ we now engage the world on new terms: we witness through word and action the love of Jesus each and every day.  With our eyes fixed on heaven we boldly walk this earth as his disciples.  We live our lives with real truth and power.  We live our lives as God’s sons and daughters.

The authentic witness of our faith is THE WAY that people truly discover Jesus.  It was true for the disciples on that first Easter Day, and it is true for disciples today.

Perhaps today is the day that our faith takes on a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives – placing Jesus first in all that we say and do.  May this Easter Day fill our hearts with grace and power to live in the light of Christ.  May we let the Lord into our hearts and allow our lives to be transformed by his love.

Christ is alive!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!


Palm Sunday – The Cross

The Face of Christ

Study:  Reflect on a time you experienced weakness and suffering.  Where did you find the strength to continue?

Pray:  Gaze upon a crucifix and offer to Christ any struggles you are facing right now.  Bring the needs of your loved ones to the foot of the Cross as well.

Serve:  Is there someone in your life who is carrying a heavy cross right now?  How can you offer comfort and assistance?

Palm Sunday Readings (with Year A reading for the Procession with Palms)

Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast

How many times throughout our lives have we made the sign of the Cross?  Stop and think:  at Mass; meal prayers; morning & evening prayers; special gatherings; and moments of blessing and grace.  This simple action, which we teach to children at an early age, invokes a connection with the passion of Jesus.

We adorn our homes with the Cross.  A crucifix is a common gift to a new home; crosses are placed in bedrooms and common areas as a reminder that Jesus is the source of our help and strength.

We adorn ourselves with the Cross as well:  a crucifix on a chain; a cross in our pocket; earrings; rings; bracelets; and all the extra cards, bookmarks, figurines, and miscellaneous items that remind us that Jesus died on a Cross.

The passion we read every year on this day focuses our attention on the central mystery of our faith.  Out of love for us God sent His Son, Jesus, who gave his life on the Cross that we might have eternal life.  Through his suffering and death, we recognize that God has made a pathway possible that we might all journey through this life to the gates of Heaven.

The Cross teaches us many lessons:

  • Life is difficult, and at times painful
  • Weakness and sin are part of our experience
  • God identifies with our pain
  • God dies that we might have life

At the core of our teaching the Cross stands as the testament of God’s love for us.  Yet the Cross appears to be an embarrassment – after all, why would God (all powerful, all knowing, supreme) choose to be humiliated?  Does that not mean that God is weak?  Why could God not take away our sins in a way that showed majesty and splendor?

In reality, the weakness revealed in the Cross uncovers our frailty, not God’s.  Jesus endured the Cross because of our broken, wounded nature.  He carried the Cross because we were unable to – as St. Paul writes “The wages of sin is death” in Romans 6:23 – and he bore the suffering, pain, and grief that are the natural result of our sinfulness.  God is not weak, rather God takes on our weakness so that we can be made whole.

The Cross proclaims the truth that God meets us where we are in life.  In our weakness, in our humiliation, in our low moments of doubt and sin God comes to us.  Jesus, like us in every way but sin, understands our pain because through his Cross he shares in the suffering of the world.  He knows us, loves us, and saves us through his Cross.

Every time we make the sign of the Cross may we recall what the Lord endured for us.  Through the Cross we discover our strength as we trust in God’s love and  seek to follow that love as we journey through this life toward the world to come.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.  Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world!