4th Luminous mystery of the Rosary.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

March 17, 2019

Today's Gospel recounts the mystery of the Transfiguration (4th Luminous mystery of the Rosary). Jesus went up the mountain to pray along with Peter, James, and John. While He is praying, the face of Jesus changed in appearance, his clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with Him.

The Transfiguration reveals Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets, represented by Moses and Elijah. He is the Messiah of the Jews and the fulfilment of the covenant. All that God sought to accomplish in the Jewish people becomes a reality in Jesus who is, in His person, personal union between God and man.

The Transfiguration reveals the divinity of Jesus. Though fully man, He is also God, who lives in the splendor of eternal light. He is the Son of God in whom the Father is well pleased. All united with Him in His humanity, through the grace of the sacraments, will share in His divine glory. That union includes death and resurrection. Only those who bear the Cross may hope to wear His glorious crown.

Jesus wanted to show His disciples the goal of following Him. Though they would encounter hardship, persecution, and suffering, they will win the prize of victory. It is not an easy road. It requires continual effort. But the Transfigured life that awaits them will make the struggle worth it.

Abraham foreshadowed the call of a disciple of Jesus. God called Abraham to leave this world and journey to a new, promised land. God sealed His covenant by sacrifice. We hear about it in today's 1st reading from the Book of Genesis. The animal sacrifice symbolized how Abraham would die to this world and live according new life. His change in name-from Abram to Abraham-symbolized this new life. God would always be with him to help him.

At Baptism God made a similar covenant with each oi us. He promised to give us new life. The name we receive at Baptism symbolizes this new life. It means leaving this world of sin and journeying to the promised land of heaven.

Such a journey is impossible without the grace the Lord gives us in the Eucharist. It is the bread of life-food for the journey. It is a pledge of future glory. Only the grace of the Eucharist allows us to attain the Transfigured life in the midst of life's oppositions.

-fr. Greg Maturi, O.P

In the wilderness Jesus did not engage with the devil's temptations.

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Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

March 10, 2019

In    the    wilderness     Jesus    did    not    engage     with    the    devil's temptations. He simply quote the Word of God in scripture. God's Word has power, even over the demons. Jesus' experience teaches us that there is , nothing wrong with being tempted. It's how we react to the temptation that matters. Pope St. Leo the Great tells us that "Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without  strife."  The  temptation  of  Jesus  throughout  his  ministry  was widely  held  in early  Christianity. The  Letter  to  the  Hebrews  tells  us, "For do we not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. " The source of grace for us is the word of God. On Ash Wednesday  the  invitation  was  to  believe  the  good  news  and  repent. That  is where  we  may  find  life  and  strength  to persevere.  We remain followers of  Christ not because  of bishops, but because of Jesus Christ.

The word  of  God  in His  gospel  remains  life-giving  and  strong. Jesus I shows us that temptations  happen  often to take us off  the path. But as the Palmist reminds us "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto ' my path."(  Psalm 119:105) At a time where scandals of the Church have left us broken,  tested,  and dismayed, it is the spirit who led Jesus into the  desert  (tempted) keeps him  strong there,  will  do the  same for  us . who believe. As St. Teresa of Avila rightly states "His Majesty [the Lord ]   '

rewards great services with trials, and there can be no better reward, for out of trials springs love for God."                                    

-fr. Peter Damian, O.P

Lent

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Lent

As outlined on the U.S. Conference  of Catholic Bishops' website  on

Lenten  fasting  and  abstinence,  fasting  is  obligatory  for  all  who  have completed  their  18th year  and have  not  yet  reached  their  60th  year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence  (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their  14th year. Fridays in Lent are obligatory days of  complete  abstinence  (from meat)  for  all who  have  completed their 14th year. Abstinence  means not eating meat. All persons  14 years and older are bound by the law of abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are Days of both Fast and Abstinence. If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the . . 'paschal fast' to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare  ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

Through our works of prayer, fasting, and abstinence, let us heed the prophet Joel's exhortation to return to God with our whole heart (2:12). Lent is a penitential season and as such religious practice such as daily Mass, reception of the Sacrament of Penance, the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, works of charity and justice, and acts of self-denial are highly encouraged.

Fasting allows one full meal, but a light breakfast and lunch are not forbidden. All adults, 18 up to the beginning of their sixtieth (60) year, are bound by the law of fasting. Pastors and parents are to see to it that children, while not bound to the law of fast and abstinence, are educated and introduced to an authentic sense of  penance.

It is recommended that on Fridays, when abstinence is not required by law, acts of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety are suggested. Abstinence from meat is especially recommended but under no obligation by law.

See the articles in the bulletin for information on Holy Week schedule.

We live today in a world of great violence, of terrorism, of increasing litigation.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

For many people, even those who identify themselves as Christians, this may be one of the most difficult passages in the Gospel. We live today in a world of great violence, of terrorism, of increasing litigation - suing and counter-suing, violence and murder, of vicious vendettas often stirred up in the tabloid press. Even in our country, we have become a divided nation and so intolerant of each other. We have a hate problem that we cannot deny nor ignore. Every day we witness the horror of political attacks on immigrants, hateful and demeaning rhetoric from white-nationalist militias against Blacks, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and the LGBTQ communities, and the slaughtering of the unborn.

As Christians it is easy to get discouraged and even  fearful as we consider circumstances in our nation and world. But God is up to something - God is up to love. And He is still calling His [you] people into that great plan. Jesus invites us today to respond to the world as he did - loving, blessing, praying and offering. We are called to do this not only where there is something of which we approve, but in all circumstances. The love of which Jesus speak of is not just emotion: it is a commitment of the will. It is extravagant and limitless, and it includes us all, good and bad alike. This is the true love that frees up our country's gridlock of hatred. As St. Francis de Sales said, "In mensura sine mensura est amor, ut amor" - 'The measure of love is to love without measure.' It is an active loving based on going the extra mile.

God is very serious about His love for the world. His greatest commandment is love. This is the core of Jesus' teaching, which he himself practiced. The Golden Rule which is often expressed as "Do not do to others what you would not want done to you" is expressed here in positive terms. Now it's time for the Church to be His vessel of love to the least, the last, the lost! Lord, I am the focus of your indiscriminate love. Grant me a profound appreciation of this limitless gift. Transformed by this love, may I in turn show unrestricted  loving to others-specially to my enemies!

Forgiveness is never easy. Loving our enemies and  those  who  hurt  us  is never easy. But Jesus usually does not ask us to do the easy thing; he asks us to do whatever brings about the most love. Crossing racial, cultural, socio-economic, or even emotional barriers to share God's love can seem scary. As John writes "there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18). But instead of fear, let God's love penetrate your heart with compassion. Jesus calls us to follow the model of God himself: "Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate." As followers of Christ, we see things in a completely different way and we want to behave differently. Pray then, that He may help you to focus on His indiscriminate love. And grant you a profound appreciation of this limitless gift. Transformed by this love, may I in tum show unrestricted love to others.

Perhaps words of the late Mother Teresa are appropriate here: "Love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me."

Now, let us to respond to the world as Jesus did - loving, blessing, praying and offering. Amen.

-fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD!

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD!

The words of today's Gospel reading always leave us with a feeling of uncertainty about ourselves and  our own  Christian life. We are able to discover the beauty of Jesus' words but at the same time they leave us with a sense of 'unaccomplishment'. Do we really feel like Jesus is setting goals too high for all of us, an unattainable dream? How can we find blessing in poverty or in hunger? How can we find blessing in sorrow or in tolerance of hate?

The real challenge behind Jesus' words is the question: How much do you trust in God? How much do you wholeheartedly believe that God takes care of his children and specifically you?

The issue of trust is fundamental in our life and faith. Faith is more than knowledge. It is grounded in trust - trust that there is a God who loves and cares for us, trust that God sent his only begotten Son into the world to show us the way, trust that there is a life after death and that we will share in Jesus' resurrection. Saint Paul reminds us in today's second reading, that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, our faith is in vain, and we are still in our sins.

In whom  do we place  our trust? The prophet Jeremiah proclaims and warns us that "cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord ."

If we but believe that the words  of Jesus in today's Gospel reading are impossible to realize in our lives, we need to question ourselves: In whom do we trust? If we trust in God, those words become goals to realize in our lives, and we trust that God's grace will enable us to achieve them. If we only trust our own strength and the human realities around us, those words become unreachable goals for our life. Our faith tells us that we are called to holiness, and the beatitudes become the path to achieve closeness to the Lord.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P 

Luke tells us that Jesus was being pressed by yet another crowd of people.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

Luke tells us that Jesus was being pressed by yet another crowd of people. They didn't yet know just who he was but they had surely heard of his miracles and teaching. They were crowding around him to hear the word of God.

The story of Jesus' ministry to this point has him preaching and teaching in the Temple. This is the first account of Jesus going out among the people, into the streets, meeting them where they were and entering into their everyday lives. Jesus gets into Peter's boat, summoned him and asked him to put out a way from shore so the people could gather on the shore and listen to him. After speaking, he told Peter to go out to the deep water and let down his nets for a catch. Now, Peter and his partners had already finished a very hard day's work and like many of us who have tried our hand at fishing, he had come up empty. They had already washed their nets in preparation for the next day and were surely exhausted, disappointed and ready to just give it up for the day. But Peter, in an act of obedience says, OK, if you say so I'll do it. Nothing more than that, just simple obedience to Jesus.

I certainly have times when I am totally worn out, tired of dealing with rude people, parishioners' who demand more than I can ever hope to deliver, and at the end of those days there is always something like hospice or hospital emergency awaiting me at the end of the day. It is specifically in those times that I hope Jesus doesn't call me and ask me to do even more before I rest! There are times when I hope the ringing phone isn't one of my clergy colleagues or a brother asking me to do something right away. It won't surprise you that when the call comes and I'm required to stretch just a bit more before the end of the day, God always seems to bless those efforts. Sometimes it is the blessing of holding the hand of a very sick person. Sometimes it is the blessing of sharing a meal with the homeless and sometimes it is the blessing of entering into another's sadness and grief. I believe those blessings are indeed as great as a fisherman's boat overflowing with fish. I admit that I only recognize some blessings in hindsight but they are always there. I would suggest that it is in the times when we have given ourselves over to worldly problems and done everything we can to control our lives that we are most likely to be pressed into the work of living out the Gospel.

Acting on Jesus' command, the nets are raised and are overfilled with fish. So many that another boat is needed to hold the  catch. Needless  to say, the fishermen  were  astonished and certainly had to have a feeling of discomfort and uncertainty, as one would _expect after witnessing a miracle. Peter's response to the miracle of abundance was to protest that he is unworthy  because he is a sinful man.

In our first reading we see the Prophet Isaiah is in the presence of God and is being called by God to take a message to God's people. Isaiah protests and says "Woe is me! Iam lost, for Iam a man of un clean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Both Isaiah and Peter feel the magnitude of their unworthiness. A seraph cleanses Isaiah's lips with a burning coal and Jesus has a cleansing word for Peter. Whatever troubled their hearts was let go as God set them on a new course and empowered them for new work in the kingdom. Peter, James, John and others leave everything they have and follow Jesus. They dropped everything they were doing, walked away from their possessions and families and followed Jesus. Through out years as a Dominican Friar, what I've learnt is that following God's call is not a single event, it is a life long process filled with much failure punctuated with occasional bright points of success. God's call to follow can be as subtle as something that moves us to ask questions. It can be the pain and agony suffered by federal workers that spurred Food Banks and community organizations to compassionate action two weeks ago. I believe that we are called to continue Jesus' ministry to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, and to let the oppressed go free. The message in Luke's Gospel is not so much one of acceptance of, or recognition of a call, it is one of obedience. A call to discipleship is something that God has both commanded and enabled. Simon Peter and the others saw something in Jesus that moved them to hope and to do his bidding. Lord, this is what it comes down to: Do I trust you?

-fr. Peter Damian, O.P

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you.

Today's second reading, taken from Saint Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, presents to us a text we have heard on many different occasions, mostly at weddings. This text, like the rest of the letter, was not intended for newlyweds. It is a letter addressed to a community in the midst of great division and turmoil; a community that is trying to find its place in the midst of a pagan world.

Many in the Christian community in the Greek city of Corinth were paying too much attention  to the different  manifestations  of the Spirit through different gifts. And in doing so, they were forgetting the main purpose of every Christian community and individual life; to manifest to the world the manifold love of God through the daily life of its members.

Saint Paul is making clear to them that all of God's gifts without love are empty and worthless. Love should be at the core of the Christian community and its efforts. He goes so far as to say, ”If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not franc love, I gain nothing.” Even the ultimate sacrifice of surrendering our lives, if done without love, is meaningless.

Love is not a romantic expression for Saint Paul. Love is the ultimate imitation of Christ. In love we find the fulfillment of our election. It is because we are the elect, the chosen ones by God's mercy that we are to proclaim to the world the deep meaning of our election. We were elected to love. Lille Saint Paul reminds us, love never fails.

We are to be known in the world as the people who believe and proclaim love. Love that is a reflection of the love God has manifested in our life through our election in Christ. Love is the only path to perfection. Love is the way of life for a Christian in the world, because everything else will pass away, only love remains.

—fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

What did Jesus see as his main mission in life?

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Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

What did Jesus see as his main mission in life?

In this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21), Jesus himself gives us the answer to that question. He tells us his principal  mission in  life. It was  ”to bring  glad tidings to the poor ....to proclaim liberty to captives and recover( of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” The word must become active and fulfilled — not just letters on paper, but energy in the heart, to proclaim and live out the love of God of neighbor. This will be his life.

For St Leo the Great, “The proof of love is in the world. Where love exists, if words great things. But when it ceases to act, it census to exist.” Jesus accepts the stranger, the outcast, heals the sick, gives hope to the despair, forgives sinners, and even accepts your faults. The love and care that God shows for humanity is  a  love without bounds. What Jesus did, he now asks and command us to do. We are

called to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which enables us to more fully see God’s presence in the world. We cannot truly say we love God, yet finds it difficult to do what he commands.

The truth is, I must take personally what God says here. He says: ‘You are the one I choose today to bring good news to the poor and oppressed. The Holy Spirit is sport you. I am sending you!’ Jesus saw these statements as giving him his identity.

Do they give me mine? If we want to know the true state of our love for God, we need to go by more than just feeling, we need to examine our response to the poor and hurting who cross our path and come to our attention. And we cannot

go only by our feelings to determine if we are truly loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. That takes an examination; it takes an honest assessment of how we are treating the poor and oppressed. Holy Spirit of God, you are the living force in the words of the Gospel we proclaim. You are the wind on which the message about Jesus is borne to others. Our agenda is to proclaim you. This is worth all the trouble that this life can bring. Amen.

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

The Work of the Spirit



Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

The Work of the Spirit

There are Different kind of spiritual gifts but he same Spirit: there are different forms of service but the same Lord: there are different working but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is give for some benefit.- 1 Cor 12:4-7

As I was reading the periscope above, I was thinking about  all  the ministries at Holy Rosary Parish. The faces of many ministry leaders came to mind beginning with the ministry of the brothers of our Dominican Community and others such as the Knights of Columbus, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Pro-Life ministry, the Heritage Girls, the Faith Formation Programs, the Young Adult and Youth Ministry, the Music Ministry and the Children's Choir, the Wednesday Lunch, the Sunday Coffee, the ministry of all who help with the cleaning and decoration of the Church during the liturgical seasons, the COOL group, the Finance  and Pastoral  councils,  the Lay Readers,  and many  others. I have been amazed to see how the Spirit is  working  for  a common benefit,  the common good of the whole parish. This is very important for leaders in ministry to keep in mind: the Work of the Holy Spirit is for the common good of the Parish and the Church. Sometimes ministry leaders have the temptation to think or believe that their leadership is at the service of just a particular group within the Parish or the Church. When this way of thinking becomes the way of operating, the community of believers are at risk of becoming an anti-testimony of the Gospel message that proclaims that Jesus gave his life for all.

I have seen the dedication of so many leaders and volunteers here at our parish and I am very grateful for all the support I received while I was Pastor. I encourage all of you to continue listening to the voice of the Spirit and to have the Christian freedom Jesus came to give us on the Cross to allow the Holy Spirit's movement and work continue in the present time. I especially encourage you  to support our recent established ministries: the Young Adult, the Youth Group, and the Children's Choir. Also, I invite you to welcome the new Faith Formation Director who is coming to serve the Parish, Mr. Phu Nguyen. I also encourage you to continue supporting the Faith Formation programs of the parish.

As many of you might know by now, my service as pastor came to an end last Tuesday. I am very  grateful  to all of you!  I assure  you of my prayers  and I ask you to please pray for me and  for  every  priest  in the  world.  I invite  you to offer your support to Fr. Alberto as he serves  as administrator,  and to Fr. Peter Damian and Fr. Hung Tran as they rems in ministry here. I also invite to welcome your future pastor when the times comes. May the Lord continue the work of salvation through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. May our Lady of the Holy Rosary continue interceding for us all!

—fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P.

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings to an end the Christmas season

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Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings to an end the Christmas season. But you might wonder though what does the Baptism of the Lord have to do with Christmas. How do they fit together? Jesus at the moment of the baptism by John the Baptist was no longer the sweet child of Bethlehem or the baby worshiped and gifted by the Magi. On this occasion we encounter Jesus as an adult, a man in the fullness of his life. How are all these celebrations connected?

In order to understand this, we have to deepen our understanding of Christmas to a more theological vision. What is Christmas all about? It is about the public manifestation of the Incarnation. The eternal Word, the second person of the Holy Trinity, through whom all came to be, broke the infinite barrier between God and creation and became human like us. God is now with us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. God has inserted himself into the heart of human history to save and redeem fallen humankind. The cycle of sin and death begun by our first parents is broken forever with a firm promise o1 forgiveness and resurrection.

These three events by heavenly manifestation confirming the truth of the Incarnation tell us that God was pleased with these three occasions. The shepherds around Bethlehem were the first to receive the good news. ”Do not be afraid. Listen I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by all people, Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” At the feast of the Epiphany we encounter the Magi who have come from far away because God's news has been manifested to them. Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.” And the revelation is completed at the moment of the baptism: ”heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ’You are my beloved Son,’ with whom I am well pleased”’.

Simply put, all three celebrations: Christmas, Epiphany, and the Baptism of the Lord are tied together with one theme and enable us to better contemplate and understand the deep meaning or the Incarnation. ”God loved as so much that he sent his only begotten son to save us.”

—Fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

They knelt down and paid him homage.

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Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

I find the Epiphany story to be exuberantly colourful, dramatic, and indeed mysterious. The dramatis personae are familiar to us: the wise men from the east, Herod, Mary and her child. Also familiar are the star that intrigued the wise

men and guided them to Bethlehem, and the gifts that these strangers brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (what do these symbolise?).

Today, we too are being invited to become part of this story. Perhaps we can accompany the wise men and ask to share in the manifestation (epiphany) that they experienced in Bethlehem. Their journey, like our own lives, involved highs and lows, times of insight and doubt, a dream calling them forward (star) and the deception of worldly values (Herod). But at the end they were enlightened in the presence of the child Jesus and “they knelt down and paid him homage" Will we do likewise?

Homage was the reason and purpose of the quest of these magical kings. We have a need to worship, too. Make no mistake about it, people today worship something. It might be a new house, a boat, a car, their families, or just themselves. But for us, worship of the Lord God must be primary. We need to realign our thinking as to what worship really is—acknowledging the lordship of Christ in our lives. Joy, happiness, and peace are peripheral benefits of that meeting with God, and service for Him is the outcome of it. If we can’t find the time to give Christ honour and glory, then the search continues until we find fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Friends in Christ, the star started the magi on the journey and then guided them to the end, like our faith. The star which shone at our baptism is the promise of God to guide us through life. Faith grows through the ordinary events of life. What can seem ordinary happenings can be extraordinary grace—the birth of a child in your family and friends.

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

“And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.” —Colossians 3:15

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

“And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.” —Colossians 3:15

As we come to the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, the Church invites us to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph today, and the celebration of the 52nd World Day of Peace on January 1, 2019.

His holiness Pope Francis begins his message for the celebration of the world day of peace by saying: “Peace be to this house!” He reminds us that in sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history. The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country, and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

Also, in the letter to the Colossians, Paul reminds the community of faith of some basic values to keep the relationships among them and their families in peace: “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:12-14)

As we celebrate the Holy Family today, let us recognize in them that Jesus came to them and through them to all the families in the world to bring his peace. As we come to the end of this year and the beginning of a new one, the Word and the Church are inviting to end and to begin in peace. Maybe can do that by working on those areas of our lives we know are not at peace and allowing Christ to be the source of our peace. Only Christ can offer real peace. Only his presence gives us the assurance and all we need to let go of the year that is ending and to welcome the new one. On behalf of the Dominican Friars and the Parish Staff, have a peaceful new year!

—fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P.

We are at the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas is right around the corner.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

We are at the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas is right around the corner. This year we have a very short Advent season. Only two days for the fourth week of Advent. Is it worthwhile to still celebrate Advent? What and why are we still celebrating?

It does not take much effort to look into our world and see the violence and chaos all around us. We open the papers every morning to find news of war and violence everywhere. And we do not have far to go from home to find the same dark reality around us. We are in a mess, we are a mess.

In the midst of all this chaos and violence, we encounter the voice of God in this season calling us to hope. Is hope a Pollyannaish reality or is it a real season for us to find peace and solace?

In the Advent season, and later into Christmas, we are reminded that God came and interrupted history. The birth of the Messiah implied that God was not a passive witness to our tragic reality, but that God decided to intervene in it. God erupted into our human history to give us a reason to hope, a reason to overcome despair, and continue believing that we are not alone. Now God is with us, Emmanuel. The seemingly unattainable God became one of us to show us the way, to show us how to hope and not despair. The apparently endless cycle of cynicism, corruption, and open violence has been exposed at its roots, and a healing balm provided for us. The eternal Word of God, through which all was created, came to us to show us the way to bring healing to our divided world and to creation as a whole.

There is reason to hope. We are not alone in our pilgrimage through this life. God has become our sojourner. There is a reason to hope. We are not alone fighting against the world and its powers, we do have someone with infinite powers who reminds us that we can conquer because he is our hope and strength.

Let's listen to the voice of Advent, to the silent message of Christmas. God is with us, never to abandon us. Now we hope and smile knowing that the One who loves us is with us. At times we forget this fundamental truth. That's the reason why we need to be reminded year after year in the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Enjoy this Advent and Christmas season and learn to listen to its powerful message. God is with us. God loves us. We are no longer alone. God came to us in the human person of Jesus. The unreachable God became our intimate lover. And it is in the warmth of this love that we learn how to hope.

—fr, Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

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“What should we do?”

December 16, 2018

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

The people ask John, “What should we do?” His answer is surprisingly authentically ordinary: share with others; avoid extortion; be satisfied with your wages. We too, might ask how might I embrace the sacred in the ordinary? I am sure that during the course of this week, most of us see hundreds of people, as we walk through the mall, pick up our groceries, eat at restaurants, take care of personal errands, and do all the other things associated with daily life. Unless they are relatives or friends, we usually take no notice of the people who cross our path. They are just part of the scenery that surround us we move through our day. Those we do notice attract our attention for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is their physical appearance or the clothes they are wearing. When someone grabs our attention, questions start coming to mind. Who is that person? Why is that individual acting that way? Where is that person from? Is this someone to avoid or someone worth meeting?

This Gospel begs the questions: “Who are we?” Do we testify to the light? In this season of Advent, this season of waiting for the light, my game plan is to prepare for the coming of Jesus by testifying to the light so that others might believe through me. So if you are like me, and can’t seem to get yourself in a waiting mode, or if you simply haven't begun your Advent preparation, I invite you to join me in modelling John’s ministry in our lives. John the Baptist lived a life of passionate commitment. His passion for justice and honesty spoke to the hearts of the crowds, tax-collectors and soldiers. What John did is something we are to do. As Christians, we are to attract the attention of people and then we are to focus that attention on Jesus Christ. We might say we are to get people to notice us so that they might notice the one we follow. As we await the birth of Christ, will I share what I have with others, especially those who are poor and on the margins of society?

John insists that preparing the way for the Messiah is not simply a matter of belonging to the Jewish nation, but comes about through justice, peace, anid love. John offers some practical examples. People should share clothing and food with those who have none as basic expressions of faith. These are things we must do to prepare to meet the Messiah. Today, St John asks us to consider our honesty and integrity; for we know that many are poor, at home and abroad, because of the greed of others. Christmas is a reminder of a challenge that all can live with the dignity we have come to regard as human rights. The Christ child who was born poor represents all the poor of the world.

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

Prepare the Way of the Lord.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

Prepare the Way of the Lord

The liturgy of the Church invites us to reflect on four themes through the Advent season: Hope, Faith, Joy, and Love / Peace. During this second Sunday we are invited to take a look at our faith.

The prophet Baruch, by proclaiming that Jerusalem will come out of her misery, is inviting his listeners to have faith in God, in his recreating Word. The prophet proclaims that Jerusalem's children will gather from everywhere and that the Lord will prepare the place where they are to dwell.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians expresses his confidence in God "that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." Paul's confidence is rooted in his experience of encountering the Risen Lord who entrusted him with the mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.

In the Gospel, John is proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He is moved by faith to make this proclamation. and knows that he is there to prepare the way for the one who is to come, the Lamb of God.

Baruch, St. Paul, and John the Baptist were moved by their faith, their confidence in God's goodness, to proclaim the great works He was about to do in their midst. During this second Sunday of Advent, what is our faith in God moving us to proclaim? What are the great works of God that we are witnessing in our midst? How do these works take place in our lives? The acknowledgment and proclamation of God's works will help us prepare ourselves to understand better the Mystery of the incarnation and therefore, to celebrate it with grateful hearts.

In our parish, the works of God take place within different ministries. For this reason, beginning today, we are going to have a section in our bulletin called "Ministry Spotlight." The purpose of this section is for our parishioners and visitors to know what our ministries are about. It is also an opportunity to see how our parishioners are also moved by their faith. Our hope is that this same faith will move many others to participate and be part of our ministries.

-fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P

Advent, again! You might cry out.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Advent, again! You might cry out. We say Advent, but we are thinking Christmas. Most Catholics seem to lack the understanding of Advent as a separate Christian season; a time of the year with its own flavor and purpose. Advent is not Christmas, even if the business world tries to force us into a consumerism spree during this time.

What is Advent about? Advent is a time for waiting.  Like a pregnant woman waiting for the child to grow and develop in her womb, knowing that the process cannot be accelerated; Advent invites us to wait, but with purpose.

Usually we dislike waiting. It reminds us of waiting at the doctor's office, impatiently looking at our watches and counting the seconds. Advent is not that kind of stressful waiting. It is a time of relaxed waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to become part of our human history.

Advent is a time to make a stop amid the rush of our lives and reconsider where we stand and where we are going. In Advent we are reminded of the sure fact that this world will come to an end and that Jesus will return to judge the world. But it is not a time of fear and trepidation. It is a time of relaxed contemplation of our own selves and to dwell in the all-encompassing commandment of love. Love is the ultimate measure of Christian life. Love is the all-encompassing commandment given to us.

Saint Paul in this Sunday's reading gives us an insight into what type of love we are invited to rediscover in this Advent season. "May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all." In this season of waiting we are encouraged to work on our love. Like pregnant mothers awaiting the delivery of the life within them, we are to spend time during this short liturgical season nurturing the love that already exists in our hearts, helping it grow and mature. So that when the Lord comes, we might be able to present him with the best of our gifts: a life overflowing in love of others and ourselves.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken."

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November 25, 2018

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

In  this  Gospel,  Jesus  speaks  about  the  days when  "the  sun  will  be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken." Whilst those images call to mind the end of time, they can also apply to our own lives.

We all have occasions when our personal world is shaken when things seem to be falling apart, and when sadness and pain darkened the joy of living. Even in our darkest hour, the Lord does not abandon us.

Jesus tells us to "learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates."

When our personal lives are in turmoil, we need to realize that God is at our gates. His eye is always upon us as He watches over us night and day, particularly so in our moments of deep sorrow, doubt, and pain. And He assures us that we will indeed have the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, guiding, protecting, and strengthening us in spite of our necessary uncertainties in life on earth. Stay close to Him as we journey, we have nothing to fear. His gift to us is His presence with us 'till the end of the world.

-fr. Peter Damian, O.P.

Office of the Cardinal

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November 18, 2018

Archdiocese  of Galveston-Houston

Office of the Cardinal

My dear friends in Christ,

Pope Francis has urged all of us to not fall into indifference, but to become active instruments of mercy. Our Holy Father asks us to reflect on the life of Christ who is our model for corporal works of mercy. Through the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) we are able to be instruments of mercy to thousands in our Archdiocese who are sick, poor, imprisoned, elderly or facing a crisis in their lives, such as the one caused for so many by Hurricane Harvey.

During and after this devastating storm, many of you were instruments of mercy to your neighbors, friends, and even strangers, offering comfort and compassion. I know many of you rolled up your sleeves and helped people rebuild their homes and businesses. I am proud of all of you for being God's hands to perform gestures of great love and compassion. Supported by DSF, Catholic Charities served as the Archdiocese's major disaster response organization, serving more than 15,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the storm. They are still at work offering long-term recovery services. San Jose Clinic, also supported by DSF, provided medical care to over 1,800 people.

The day-to-day  operations of DSF also need our support, and a few of the programs highlighted this year are Pro-Life Activities, Apostleship of the Sea and the Office of Vocations. Many of you may not be familiar with the mission of the Apostleship of the Sea, but it has been a vital ministry of our Archdiocese for more than a half century. Some 300,000 seafarers come into the Port of Houston each year and 60% are Catholic. They bring 80% of our goods that we consume into our city. Offering the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion along with pastoral counseling and compassionate support for those who often spend months at a time at sea, often more than two months, is part of our responsibility to welcome the stranger.

The mission of Pro-Life Activities is to protect the most vulnerable among us, recognizing the dignity of each human person from the unborn child, to the elderly at the end of their lives, to the prisoner on death row. Human life above all belongs to God and we should make every effort to defend it. This Office is offering a new program scheduled to launch this year, called Jerome's Hope, which will assist parents who have received a difficult pregnancy diagnosis or who have lost a baby and need counseling and pastoral direction. It is because of your DSF contributions that we are able to respond to needs like these and compassionately help those who are searching for answers, healing and hope.

When he was Pope, Saint John Paul II,  wrote  a  document  called  Pastores  Dabo Vobis (in English I Will Give You Shepherds ). This message helped to shape programs for priestly formation and vocational discernment. Our local Office of Vocations fulfills part of this important vision of increasing the number of men who are discerning to be our future shepherds. Through the celebration of the sacraments and pastoral ministry, these fishers of men become instruments of mercy for all of us.

I thank you for your gracious commitment to the DSF. With gratitude to God for your faithful discipleship and praying for God's abundant blessing upon you, I am

Your faithful Shepherd,

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo

Archbishop of Galveston-Houston

The deep reasons why Christ has been instituted the only and true mediator between God and humankind

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews presents to us this Sunday the deep reasons why Christ has been instituted the only and true mediator between God and humankind. The author, whose name we ignored, was most probably a member of the priestly class. His knowledge of the liturgical life at the temple in Jerusalem is amazing.

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, Yam Kippur, a lamb without blemish was ritually slaughtered at the temple by the High Priest. It was a complicated ritual which only the High Priest could fulfill after repeated purification baths and changes of vestments. The blood of the lamb was ritually collected and placed in a special bowl.

At the core of the Jerusalem temple was its main liturgical building, the Holy of Holies. This building, which was divided by a hanging partition of ornate cloth, was supposed to be an earthly representation of the celestial dwelling place, the heavenly sanctuary. Daily offerings of bread and incense were presented inside of the first part twice a day by some designated priest. But beyond the curtain, only the High Priest was allowed to enter once a year. Carrying the blood of the sacrificed lamb, which had been slaughtered for the forgiveness of his sins and those of the people, he would spray the inside area of the Holy of Holies. Later he would spray himself and the gathered people with the blood of the sacrificed lamb, reminding them that for that year their sins were forgiven. This ritual was to be repeated year after year.

Using this background of the liturgical life in the temple, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews presents to us the role of Jesus' death in order to achieve the forgiveness of our sins and our salvation once and for all. First of all he reminds us that Jesus, through his death, did not enter into a sanctuary made by hand s... but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf He makes also very clear that Jesus' sacrifice is a once and for all sacrifice. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary; with blood that is not his own. Jesus on the other hand enters into the heavenly presence bringing the sacrifice of his own blood. In Jesus we have the unblemished lamb who shed his blood for our salvation. It is through his blood that we have received forgiveness of our sins. Humankind has been reconciled with the eternal Father through the freely shed blood of this incarnated Son.

The once and for all sacrifice of Jesus had put an end to the world of the bloody sacrifices of the Old Testament. Out of the pierced heart of Jesus a new reality is born, the realm of those justified by the blood of the cross.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."–Mark 12:29

In the Gospel we find one of the rare meetings between Jesus and a teacher of the Law which is not confrontational. The man seems genuinely interested in Jesus’ answer to a question that was often asked by interpreters of the Law. Again, rather unusually, Jesus answers the question directly. In answering Jesus does not give just one commandment but two: Love your God with your whole heart and soul and Love your neighbor as yourself. Both answers are taken from the Law of Moses (Dt 6:4-5 and Lv 19:18 respectively).

First, in answering a question about which is the most important commandment, Jesus gives two commandments which, in His view, are quite inseparable; one cannot be kept without the other. We cannot say truly we love God and then refuse to love our neighbor. Jesus will make another modification. He will extend the meaning of ‘neighbor’ to include every single person and not just the people of one’s own race, religion, or family (cf. Lk 10:30-37). As Christians, we are called to Love God. We do that in a variety of ways, but perhaps the best way to demonstrate our love for God is by doing what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, to “Love Thy neighbor.”

Speaking at the Last Supper, Jesus says to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” A few verses later he says the same thing in a slightly different way, “Whosoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” In other words, Jesus wants us to express our love for him by being obedient to his command­ments. These gospel statements should absolutely clear up that there is absolutely no dichotomy whatsoever between loving God and obeying God. There is no disjunction at all between having a love relationship with Christ and keeping his commandments: Love your neighbor as yourself. That is, the commandment to love is more important than the commandments which concern the worship and sacrifices of the Temple. The Prophets of the Old Testament already had affirmed this (Hos 6:6; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 51:16-17). Today we would say that the practice of love is more important than novenas, promises, political party, sermons, and processions. The love that Jesus commands and that He showed his disciple was not a matter of sentiments and opinions, but rather a matter of action and decision. For Saint Gregory the Great “The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.” What Jesus did, He now asks and commands us to do.

Jesus accepts the stranger, the outcast, forgives sinners, and accepts your faults. The love that God shows for humanity is a love without bounds. We are called to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which enables us to more fully see God’s presence in the world. Because if God is truly our Father, we are all brothers and sisters, and we are challenged to show this in practice by loving unceasingly. We, disciples, should keep this law in our mind, in our intelligence, in our heart, in our hands and feet, because one cannot reach God without giving oneself entirely to one’s neighbor!

In fact, loving others as oneself can be difficult but the advocate—The Holy Spirit— will be the voice of God, of Jesus directing our action of loving—and we will never be alone. But why do you suppose we have been ineffective in loving our neighbor? The answer is simply, because we have truncated the good news to a sentimental and sloppy notion of love. We instead need to tie in biblical love. And until we restore obedience to our understanding of the Christian’s love relationship with Christ, we will continue to lose our voice in our city, home, and the world. As Saint Catherine of Siena once said “Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.