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Fr. Thomas Joseph
Congratulations Mary & Antonio!
May 28, 2017 – ASCENSION OF THE LORD
Happy Memorial Day! This Monday, May 29 is Memorial Day. The American Legion will be here at 7:45 am for a short service. Please stay for Mass at 8 am with coffee and donuts to follow. In observance of the holiday, the parish office will be closed on Monday.
A drop that can make a difference! You may have heard the phrase, 'drops make the ocean.' We often reflect here at St. Nicholas on how much we are blessed with generous souls who take special care of St. Nicholas. We are also blessed with many that we will probably never meet, but they are drops in the ocean of St. Nicholas. For example, when someone comes to dig a trench, install the sprinkler system, paint a room, etc., all these activities are a drop that make the ocean. In my experience, being the pastor of this great parish, I can say with conviction that what really sustains us, and will continue to sustain us, is the 'drops dropped by many.' The 7 Sacraments of the Church are meant to make us feel God's Grace not only supernaturally, but tangibly as well. For example, in the Sacrament of Baptism, we use oil, water, a candle, and a white dress, etc. Instead of praying to the Holy Spirit in abstract, we use things that we can touch and feel. What does this mean? Just as we use physical things in the sacrament of Baptism so that it becomes a real experience, so too, good deeds are to be felt, experienced and shared. Your good deeds are your effort to contribute a drop, which without there would never be an ocean. Yes, drops make the ocean. Never underestimate the power of your contribution; never downplay the blessings you drop. Your good deeds will not go unnoticed or be unfelt. Without your one dollar, it will always be $999 and never $1,000. Just as 'Happiness is best kept when kept in circulation,' so too, the good deeds we do, the good drops we drop, will continue to circulate.
Welcome Center! Right behind the church, near the entry pergola of the Prayer Garden, we have a Welcome Center. What is the purpose of this? It is to welcome people. Currently, we have minimal volunteers present on the weekends. As people step forward, we would like to have volunteers present in the Welcome Center on a regular basis. This past Monday morning, a group of young moms stopped by with their children. As I visited with them, I learned they heard about our Prayer Garden and were glad to be here. Another group of people stopped by in the evening, including a retired priest, and they were also thrilled and complimented us on how this is a place for all. *If you could volunteer, even just a few hours in the Welcome Center/Gift Shop, we will gladly set a schedule that works for you. Please contact the parish office and let us know when you can help.
Pray for the People of the United Kingdom! One of the questions that even Christianity is not able to give a convincing answer for to this day is, 'Why is there evil in the world?' While we are blessed with lots of good-hearted people, we also see lots of evil. This does not refer to just terrorism; evil is at work in many other ways. It is a valid question, ‘Why can't my neighbors, or, those who live in far distant lands, be good like me and family?’ ‘Why can't every husband and wife be happy and loving instead of giving into so much violence and waste?’ Most likely these hard questions will not be answered on this earth, but will eventually be answered when we are in heaven. We offer our prayers and blessings and reach out to the innocent people who lost their lives or were hurt, as well as the rest of us who are hurt spiritually and emotionally. We have to restore normalcy in the civilized, God-fearing world. I have remembered the people of Great Britain in Mass and in my prayers, and I am confident you are praying for them as well.
July 15/16 Celebration! Please mark your calendar for our July 15/16 celebration. On Saturday, July 15 we will celebrate the 4 PM Mass outdoors and have food, drinks and entertainment. On Sunday, July 16 the food and celebrations will continue as we celebrate our regular Sunday Masses, including the 12 noon Mass in Spanish outdoors.
Welcome Visitors! Visitors at St. Nicholas is not a new phenomenon; every weekend we have visitors. However, since our Prayer Garden came into existence, we have new visitors who come to check out the St. Nicholas Prayer Garden. If people can find some peace and the presence of God, can find things they are looking for to bring them closer to God, then let it be. When you see someone, you have never met walking into the Church, do not be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and welcome them. As we are taught, in being nice to strangers we might 'unknowingly entertain Angels.'
Happy Feast of Visitation! Every year on May 31st we celebrate the Feast of Visitation. Reflecting on the Feast of Visitation, we have two visible actors and two invisible actors. The two visible actors are Mary and Elizabeth and the two invisible actors are Jesus and John the Baptist, who were still in the womb of their mothers. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, went to see Elizabeth; it was a joyous encounter between the two. Unlike today, there was no digital camera to record the joyous, happy encounter between Mary and Elizabeth. Based on the description from the Scripture, one can imagine the joy that existed between these two. During my pilgrimage to the Holy Land with about 20 other pilgrims, I remember very well the hill where Mary and Elizabeth met. If you are someone who likes hiking, you will love this place besides the fact it is a Holy Site unlike any other place in the world.
Commitment is an act, not a word. Jean-Paul Sartre
Being pregnant, one could imagine how many steps Mary had to walk to reach the top of the hill to meet Elizabeth and share the good news that She (Mary) was pregnant and then congratulate Elizabeth on her pregnancy with John the Baptist. Take a moment to read and reflect on the Gospel passage of Luke 1: 39-45 that articulates the joyful encounter of Mary and Elizabeth--let that be the song of joy in your life: During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Dear Padre! How did the Church come up with Holy Days of Obligation? Saturday is the Sabbath for the Jews. Sunday is a special day for Christians because Jesus Christ rose from the dead on this Day. As we Christians originated from Judaism, so too, we adapted many feasts and celebrations from Judaism and transformed them into Christian Feasts. A good example is Easter and Christmas. There is lots of meaning and symbolism that come from Judaism, even though they are completely centered on Jesus Christ. To conclude, yes, the Holy Days of Obligation we enjoy in Christianity have lots of connection and influence from Judaism; after all, Jesus was a Jew. (Idea partially taken from The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions, by Rev. John Trigilio Jr.& Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, page 212-213).
Sunday Reflection! Dear brothers and sisters, the Gospel for this Ascension Sunday is from Matthew 28 in which we learn the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.' Dear brothers and sisters, on Ascension Sunday we celebrate the departure of Jesus from this earth to Heaven. However, it is not a departure of erasing memories. It is not a farewell of Jesus to His disciples with the attitude of 'never again.' Rather, it is a farewell that left strong memories in the minds and hearts of all. Jesus did not leave us, telling His disciples to 'figure out what you need to do.' Rather, Jesus gave them every tool. Ask yourself, are you someone who uses every tool that Jesus gave you, or, are you someone who lets the tools that Jesus left for us just sit and rust?
In Christ Jesus,
Fr. Thomas Joseph
The Archdiocesan permanent deacon formation program will begin the discernment and application process this fall for admission to Aspirancy (novitiate) in fall 2011. Men married or single and at least 30 years old can begin now by: 1) applying to the prerequisite Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute that begins on Monday evening, September 13 (go to the St. Paul Seminary webpage at http://www.stthomas.edu/spssod/ for an application or call 651-962-6890), and 2) attending our “Diaconate Inquiry Course” on Tuesday evenings Oct. 26, Nov. 2, Nov. 9 and Saturday morning Nov. 20 at the St. Paul Seminary. This course will introduce men (and their wives) to the vocation, spirituality, and role of the permanent deacon in the Archdiocese and will explain the discernment, application, and formation process. Those who cannot attend this fall may attend one of the courses offered next winter or spring. For more information on the Diaconate Inquiry Course, contact Deacon Russ Shupe at (651) 291-4428 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you cannot apply for diaconate formation now, you may still attend the Diaconate Inquiry Course to learn more about this unique vocation in the Church.