Responding to the Call of the Lord

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Two weeks ago we held the yearly Ministry Fair for the parish. After we were done and the volunteers left, one unanswered question remained in my mind. I knew the volunteers had put in long hours and had done their best to invite parishioners to join one of the many parish ministries. I realized it was not because of their lack of enthusiasm, but could we call the Ministry Fair a success?

Every Christian community rests on the shoulders of a few, most of them volunteers, who are willing to provide for the needs of many. Their efforts are at the heart of every parochial activity. Their generosity in sharing their time and talent proclaim to all of us their liberality and their love for the Lord and this community.

This Sunday's Gospel reading reminds all of us of the many gifts bestowed upon us by the Lord. Nobody can claim that they have not been gifted. Certainly not all have been gifted in an equal manner; but all of us, without exception have been gifted in one way or another. The Lord is always splendid with those who love Him.

The Gospel this Sunday challenges us to think about how we can administer the gifts we have received. Do we make them profitable or do we, like the insecure man in the Gospel, bury them; afraid of not knowing what to do with them?

Christ Jesus became the servant of all, so that we would know how to become servants. Ministries within a Christian community become the measure of our love and commitment to the Lord. The imitation of Christ is always an imitation of his service. True devotion is always reflected in the love and service we share with others.

Let us not be timid in responding to the call of the Lord. Do we listen to the call or do we run away from it? We have all been gifted; let us share the treasure of those gifts with our brothers and sisters, knowing that whatever we do for them, we are doing for the Lord.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

Coming to an End

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Everything comes to an end. While we walk on this earth nothing lasts forever: a building falls either because of an earthquake or demolition, a relationship ends either because those in the relationship decide to do so or because one leaves or dies, and so on. Normally, when something ends we all grieve. In grieving we see our pain and try to embrace it. But even grief comes to an end, otherwise our lives would be paralyzed by the loss and the pain.

We are also coming to an end of the second part of ordinary time and with it also the end of our liturgical year. For this reason, we hear in the Scriptures a constant call to be prepared for that final moment; for instance, we hear in the gospel today "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Jesus constantly insists in the need to be prepared to face those ending moments, those final moments where the will not be more time and in which our preparedness is crucial to enter into a new moment. Of course the one definitive ending of our existence on this earth is death, a moment that requires preparation to enter into the reality of the resurrection, the moment we enter into God's presence in all fullness.

In the parable of the ten virgins in which he depicts five who were foolish (unprepared) and five who were wise (prepared), Jesus teaches not only about the need to be prepared but also about what is needed for that preparation to take place. In the parable, there are two main elements needed for one to be prepared: awareness and wisdom. Awareness of our realities is necessary not to take for granted that something or someone form this world will last forever. Awareness of our own limitations, failures and successes. This kind of awareness leaves us always with the sense that there is something and someone greater than us which instill in us hope.

Wisdom is also necessary to be able to be prepared the best way possible. It is precisely wisdom that helps us to see the will of God in the midst of all situations. Wisdom helps us to see what is in our hands and what is in the hands of others and God. Wisdom allows us to identify and to do the work we need to do to be ready for that final moment which is in itself an end but also a new beginning.

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, we are invited by the word of God to look back and see in which ways the Lord is inviting us to be prepared for that final moment in which we will meet him face to face, to give thanks to him for his work in us and to recommit ourselves to work on those things we need to work on to have enough oil for our lamps to remain lit until he comes.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

 

Signs of a Vocation

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

 The Beatitudes Sermon                                         James Tissot - 1890

 The Beatitudes Sermon                                         James Tissot - 1890

Today is the beginning of the National Vocation Awareness Week (November 5-11, 2017). This week is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, and is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: "To what vocation in life is God calling me?"

Sometimes, to talk about vocation and to work on it might become quite complex. In trying to respond to the question about what is God calling me in life, we can experience a lot of uncertainty and sometimes confusion. It is important then to put the question in the framework of the three primary vocations all human beings have: life, love and service.

he vocation to life is the invitation God makes concrete in his covenant: "My covenant with him was the life and The Beatitudes Sermon peace which I gave him, and the fear he had for me, standing in awe of my name." (Malachi 2:5). It is the vocation to live our lives as a conscious decision of embracing the reality of who we are and with it, God's goodness and peace.

The vocation to love according to the love of Christ, means our willingness to care for the other. For St. Paul the vocation to love was fundamental for the life of the community: "We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children. With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us." 11 (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

The vocation to serve is constantly recalled by Jesus in his message of the Gospel: "The greatest among you must be your servant." (Matthew 23:11) It is our vocation to serve that helps us go out of ourselves avoiding the danger of remaining self-centered. It is our vocation to serve that enables us to share the file and the love we have received from Christ, the Lord.

When we are able to live our lives, to love and to serve others according to the will of God we enjoy a profound peace and we can sing with the psalmist: "In you, Lord, I have found my peace" (Psalm 131). Peace itself is one of the greatest signs of our vocations.

During this National Vocation Awareness Week, I invite all parishioners and visitors, to please pray for those who are seeking their vocations as religious, priests, deacons and lay ministers in the Church. That they may be able to see the signs of their vocation and to follow them by saying YES! to the mission of preaching the Gospel in our times.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Digital orphans " ... and your neighbor as yourself"

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Many of us might be familiar ·with the expression "digital orphan." There are several understandings of this expression. One of them refers to children whose parents allow them to use their electronic devices and internet without any supervision. These children are considered "digital orphans" also because the electronic device becomes the main mean to establish human relationships and parents are somehow absent from their children. It is this lack of relationship with their parents that makes the children orphans. They live with their parents but there is no relationship or the relationship is really poor.

In today's first reading from the book of Exodus, the Lord is calling his people to live in right relationship with the alien, the orphan, the widow, and those in need of the basics of life: water, food, shelter and clothing. The Lord warns his people not to ignore, to oppress or to abuse those who are vulnerable. The Lord himself hears their cry!

Establishing right relationships is key in our Catholic faith. It is in community that salvation takes place. It is in our relationships where the greatest commandment to
"Love the Lord your God, ... and your neighbor as yourself" takes place in a very real
way. The most concrete actions of love are those we do when we care for someone. Actions of care that will offer new possibilities of life.

The word invites us to pause for a moment and take a look at our relationships. Are they rooted in care for the other? Who is the alien around my life? Maybe it is one of my coworkers who has been mistreated because her culture is different from mine. Who is the widow or the widower? Maybe my grandparents living in loneliness because they cannot go out as they used to. Who is the orphan? Maybe the adult children who have not spoken to their parents for a long time because they were upset with each other. Is there something I could do to help them enter a place of right relationship to enjoy the gift of Christ?

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Setting a Trap for Jesus

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Sometimes we are put in situations where we are asked to choose between two options that will respond to a particular need or reality. Our decision will make some happy and others really disappointed. It is really a difficult position to be in, especially when we know our decision will impact the people we care for.

In today's gospel something similar is happening to Jesus. He is put to the test by some of the Pharisees whose intentions now are to find one more reason to put Jesus to death. After the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus, giving the impression that they thought well of him, they asked him if it was lawful to pay the census tax to Cesar or not?" In other words, asking if paying taxes to Cesar was an action that fits with the Law of God. This was a tough situation for Jesus. If he were to say no, then the Roman authorities would go after him for opposing their authority and power. If Jesus were to say yes, the Pharisees and other believers would be disappointed because they saw paying taxes to Cesar as an acknowledgment of a pagan's nation and power over Israel.

No matter what answer Jesus gave, it would have grave consequences for him. Nevertheless, after Jesus questioned them about the image on the coin, he gave an unexpected answer: "Then repay to Cesar what belongs to Cesar and to God what belongs to God." By including both possibilities, Jesus gets out of the trap set for him in terms of either or. He also led his listeners to see that both were possible when done in good conscience. In this way, Jesus directed them to a greater good, something that some of the Pharisees lacked.

Something similar can happen in our daily lives when we put our .relationship with the Lo.rd and others in terms of "either ... or." Jesus teaches us that "both" is also an option that can lead us to something greater.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

 

The Wedding Feast and the Kingdom of Heaven

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors, 

It is hard to believe that someone would reject, ignore or annihilate an invitation from a King to his son's wedding. For many, that kind of invitation would be a great honor. For others, it would be just impossible that a King would extend such an invitation to them. Those who were supposed to be the guests of the king blatantly refused the invitation. As a response, the king opens the invitation to anyone in the streets. Still, one of them showed up without the proper garments to celebrate the wedding ignoring how important the event is for the King. What does this have to do with the Kingdom of Heaven?

It seems that by the refusal to attend the banquet, the guests were trying to control the King. The Kingdom of heaven is like a wedding feast. The king himself is the one who chooses the guests. Still there is a constant rejection to accept the invitation. Nevertheless, the king insists in his invitation. Some guests decide to ignore the invitation. Other guests that were invited took more radical measure, they mistreated and killed the emissaries from the King.

In a similar way, God is the one who takes the initiative to invite all peoples to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He constantly insists in his invitation. If there is no positive answer from those invited, he opens the invitation to anyone who wants to enter, as the parable says ''bad and good alike." 

Accepting the invitation requires from the guests that they do some preparation and wear the appropriate garments indicating the honor, respect and gratitude for the hosts as well as for the occasion. This preparation demonstrates how important the Kingdom of heaven is for us. This preparation also indicates what is the place of God in our lives. 

This Sunday's Liturgy of the Word invites all to take a closer look the moments when God is inviting us to enter more fully and deeply into his Kingdom. What is my response to his invitation? Am I willing to change my garments and be clothed with the garments of Christ to enter the banquet?

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

 

The Mission of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

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"Brothers and sisters: 
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding vvill guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
- Philippians 4:6-7

 

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is the patroness of our Parish. This feast day was instituted by Saint Pius V in 1573 as a thanksgiving to God after Christians had a victory over the Turks at Lepanto. Their victory was attributed to the praying of the rosary. In 1716, Clement XI extended the Feast to the Universal Church.

It has been known that Mary gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic to help the people of the time to pray since at the time they did not have access to printed books or Bible. For this reason, the devotion of the Holy Rosary is a prayer centered in the mysteries of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Rosary took its present form in the XVI century and in 2002, Pope St. John Paul II introduced the five mysteries of light to this devotion adding the mysteries of the ministry life of Jesus through which healing, forgiveness and reconciliation took place in the midst of the realities and suffering of the people of Jesus' time.

Looking into this devotion, one can appreciate that since it is centered in the mystery of Christ, this prayer can lead us to encounter, love, serve and adore the Lord Jesus personally, and by doing that to extend the message of Jesus Christ to other people. In encountering the Lord Jesus, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation takes place over and over again. This is why when we pray the Rosary we are left with a great sense of peace. This is how today, our Blessed Mother and the Rosary continue serving the Mission of God.

As we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, we as a Parish are invited to give thanks to the Lord for allowing us to participate in this mission and to ask the Lord to give us the wisdom, the courage, the freedom, and the generosity needed to continue participating in it.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

The Questions of Jesus

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Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

In the Gospel accounts we constantly find questions from those who ]listened to Jesus and from Jesus himself. Jesus knew that questions can lead us to a greater understanding of who we are and what we do. Most importantly, questions can lead us to face truth.

Right before Jesus asked the chief priests and the elders of the people about their opinion in reference to the parable of the two sons, they were questioning his authority saying, "by what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" Initially, Jesus responded to them by asking them another question relating to the origin of John the Baptist. To this, the chief priests and the elders of the people, after considering the consequences of their responses, decided to tell Jesus that they did not know. Because of their response Jesus replied, "Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things."

Still, Jesus offers a parable for them to think about the authority of Jesus. To introduce it, Jesus asked them, ''What is your opinion?'' After expounding upon the parable he posed another question: "Which of the two did his Father's will?" To which they responded "The First." In this way, Jesus led them to recognize by whose authority he is doing these things. The origin of his authority is God, the Father whom Jesus is obeying and from whom He comes. Now they have an answer to understand better who Jesus is and why his actions are thus. Some of his listeners will resist this truth, others will start to follow him.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Pastoral Intern - Br. James Martin, O.P.

Dear Parishioners & Visitors, 

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As part of the formation program for the Dominican Friars, a brother in formation is required to go to a ministry site for a year to have some experience in ministering to the People of God. This experience will help the brother to grow and mature in their human, spiritual, academic and pastoral formation. To fulfill this requirement, this year Br. James Martin, O.P. will be at Holy Rosary as Pastoral Intern until May 2018.

Being the youngest of five children, Br. James Martin Nobles, O.P. is proud to be a professed member of another large family, the Order of Preachers. Originally from New Orleans, his family moved to McComb, Mississippi at the age of twelve where he experienced the extraordinary pleasure of being devout Catholic in the rural, Bible-belt region of the South. He loves to spend time with his family and friends especially over a good ole pot of gumbo. He has received a B.A. in Philosophy and Theological Studies from St. Joseph Seminary College and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology and a Master of Divinity at Aquinas Institute in St. Louis. He is honored to continue his formation at Holy Rosary Parish as a student brother of the Province of St. Martin de Porres. 

We look forward to do ministry with Br. James Martin in a spirit of collaboration and mutual support. We welcome James Martin here at Holy Rosary and wish him the best in his pastoral ventures!

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

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Holy Rosary's New Pastor

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As a new pastor of Holy Rosary, I would like to take this opportunity to share a little information about myself. I was born and raised in Colombia, South America and come from a large, Catholic family and am the youngest of ten children. I was baptized Catholic as a child and have a great devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and St Martin de Porres. I first became interested in becoming a Dominican when I was twenty-two years old. I made my profession to the Order of Preachers on September 4, 2008 and was ordained on July 10, 2010. I came to the United States in 2001 and attended Tulane University's program for English as a Second Language. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the Universidad Santo Tomas in Bogota, Colombia and a Masters of Divinity /Masters of Arts in Theology from Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. 

As a Dominican, I have been serving in a variety of ministries: RCIA; ministry to people living with HIV/ AIDS; campus ministry at Duke University in Durham, NC & Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. I also was the Parochial Vicar for St. Elizabeth Church in Lubbock. In the last three years before coming to Holy Rosary, I was serving as Socius and Vicar Provincial for the St. Martin de Porres Province. 

It is with great joy that I come to Holy Rosary to continue serving the mission of Jesus Christ. Most of all, I am very grateful to all the members of Holy Rosary Parish for your warm welcome and J look forward to walking with you!

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

The Best of Our Christian Vocation

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"On that very day all the springs of the great deep broke through, 
and the sluices of heaven opened. 
It rained on the earth for forty days and forty nights."
- Genesis 7:11-12

Last week we also experienced our own version of the flood. The city of Houston and our own parish experienced the consequences of an unrelenting rain, which in many cases, invaded our homes touching lives and destroying property and preciously saved memories. 

It is in these moments of tragedy when the best of our Christian vocation is shown forth. Many of you generously responded to the calls for assistance and helped in rescue operations, shelter assistance, and cleaning projects. You gathered as God's chosen ones around those sisters and brothers who were hurting and were .in need of your love and support. Holy Rosary has proved to be what we knew all along: We are a Christian community called to love and to serve one another empowered by our faith and our sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ. 

The task ahead of us is a long term one. Families in our faith community need to rebuild their lives and their homes. This is a long term commitment and we cannot slack in our determination to be of support to them as they reconstruct flooded homes and discover new memories to be preciously kept. 

We are one in the Lord; and what binds us together are His love and His presence among us.

May the peace of the Lord remain always with us!

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, 0.P.

Our Remarkable Community

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

Our new Pastor, Father Jorge Rativa, O.P., will begin at Holy Rosary Parish as of September 1. He has been approved by His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and the Southern Dominican Provincial, Fr. Tom Condon, O.P., along with his Council. 

Fr. Jorge has completed his excellent ministry as Vicar Provincial and Socius of our Southern Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres. I have known Fr. Jorge for several years and he is a most pastoral and prayerful Dominican priest who also is fluent in the administrative realities. Originally from the beautiful South American country of Colombia, Fr. Jorge brings many gifts as a fine and good shepherd wherever he is called. He will delight in your most welcoming ways. 

My term as Pastor of Holy Rosary Church ended on July 31, 2017. Fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P., is now the Administrator of Holy Rosary Parish until the arrival of our new Pastor. 

Please pray for Fr. Jorge, Fr. Alberto, and Fr. Tran as they shepherd our remarkable community here at Holy Rosary in our great Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Know that I am continuing to pray for you in deep gratitude for guiding me in all the graces God has bestowed upon each of you. Grazie tanto!

Joyous Sunday of the Transfiguration of the Lord,

- Fr. Chris, 0.P

Continuing the Work of the Gospel

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

What a wondrous people of God you are here at our beloved Holy Rosary! It is an immense gratefulness that I have experienced, do experience, and will always experience the ways in which you have not only shared most generously of your lives and faith but also the many ways you have taught me how live the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity more fully. In this 104-year old parish community within our thriving Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston we are surely both blessed and encouraged to continue the work of the Gospel.

Switching gears a moment, let me say that there will be a more extensive financial report concerning the Campaign, Phases I and II, once our new Pastor, Father Jorge Rativa, O.P., gets his sea legs in this, his new mission and ministry. However, after in-depth discussion with our Financial Council, Parish Pastoral Council, our Office Manager and our CPA, I want to share with you a brief view of the overall picture of what has been accomplished and what remains to be accomplished concerning the Capital Campaign. The Capital Campaign will come to completion on June 30, 2018. Your generous attention to the needs of our parish-priory entities over the span of this Campaign are overwhelming. Not only were you responsible for the Campaign accomplishments and those to be completed, you have, in addition, offered, in most generous fashion, your prayer, service, and hard cold cash for needed projects not within the scope of the Campaign, e.g., the razing of the old house next to our Religious Education Building, restoration of paintings in our church building, assistance for families going through rough times, and much more.

We have, through your generosity, been able to consolidate the loans we owed to our Archdiocese which amounted to $525,000.00 in August of 2015 and pay it off to the point where what we owe now is roughly $28,000.00. This is a good and united effort and once again, Thank You! We have a most diverse and united community of families, indjviduals and new arrivals (babies and new families registering as parishioners) and I know that we will continue to thrive and to take care of the poor as Jesus invites us to do. You are in my prayers now and also as I begin my new mission & ministry in Rome. I beg your prayers. A 'Hail Mary' prayed with love for God and Neighbor is worth much more than the recitation of the whole of the Most Holy Rosary without love in the heart.

In Christ and in His Mother and ours, The Immaculate Conception,

-fr. Chris, O.P.

Human and Divine Truths

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed ... the smallest of seeds ... it becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" The senses God gave us help us know our world, and, with Jesus, the kingdom of heaven. It is impossible for us to exhaust the meaning of a parable, simple and plain as its clear images may be. In parables Jesus speaks of human & divine truths and this gives enlightenment and understanding to us because we are both human and divine, as we are made in the image and likeness of God. 

This being the case, we already possess more than physical senses for we are endowed with spiritual senses as well. Therefore, it is essential and virtuous that we reflect upon the meaning of Jesus' parables as they apply to our lives. Moreover, our Christian imagination needs the fuel of God's graces so that we may meditate upon and pray with the invitation to new mission with which God entrusts us in the contemplation of God through His Word. Authentic prayer is an art form.

In Jesus, Who speaks to us in images we understand, 

-f. Chris, O.P. 

God's Rich Soil

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

"But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold." These words of Jesus give life and hope to us since we are the very ones who are chosen to be the "rich soil" wherein God's graces, or seeds, can germinate and produce a great harvest. 
In God's grace and wisdom a new Pastor for our beloved Parish of Holy Rosary has been chosen. His name is Fr. Jorge Rativa, O.P., and he is completing his ministry as Socius and Vicar Provincial of our St. Martin de Porres Province. He is a very joyful, pastoral, and compassionate Dominican priest who is eager to begin on September 1st. He is now as a seed of which Jesus speaks and we are the fertile soil in which he can thrive and grow. Let us pray for and support him always as he has answered this call to be planted as shepherd in our rich soil.

In Jesus our Good Shepherd,

-fr. Chris, O.P.

Words to Our Neighbor

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

"Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." These encouraging and comforting words Jesus offers are also a mission call for us to say Jesus' words to our neighbor who is exhausted, depressed, stressed out, or otherwise in need of solace, healing, compassion, and mercy. As disciples we are in Christ and of Christ in our world to unburden others and not bind them up with judgment, biases, neglect, or shame. Am I committed to the alleviation of suffering in another even in the midst of my own suffering and deficiencies?

In Christ, who helps carry our burdens through each other,

-fr. Chris, O.P.