Diocesan Services Fund (DSF)

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. l 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, cal1ed 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

Fear Had Taken Them Over


Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and Jed them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white.

The disciples were scandalized. Jesus had announced to them that they were going up to Jerusalem where he would be rejected by the nation's religious leaders, abused, condemned to death and resurrect after three days. There was too much in those words for them to understand. So far they felt everything was under control. And now Jesus was shaking their confidence. This is the background to the reading of today's gospel. Insecurity and fear had taken them over.

Jesus needs to intervene, he needs to restore confidence among his disciples. And so he takes the three initial disciples with him up a high mountain. And it is there that he manifests to them the real purpose of his passion, death and resurrection. They are not going to be the end. There is more to come, a most glorious future. And he transforms himself in their presence. He shows them his real glory and the glory they are called to participate in.

We also know what it means to face rejection suffering and even death. And we are also afraid; afraid of the uncertainty of the future, afraid of the possibility of rejection, suffering and death. As we move into this Lenten season, Jesus offers us hope and consolation. He knows that we, like the disciples at times, find ourselves looking for answers and hope. Answers, because at times, we seem to encounter darkness and doubt in our lives, and we need answers to questions that seem to be riddled with confusion. And hope, because darkness prevents us from making sense of our and others' lives.

The transfiguration of Jesus reminds us of what the last goal of our life will be: the total identification with the risen Lord in the kingdom of God. Our crosses, which at times seem to be meaningless, acquire their difficult to identify purpose, to share in the life and glory of the risen Christ. It is a difficult lesson to learn at times. We like the disciples will have to witness to the cross before arriving to the full knowledge of our lives meaning and purpose. There is no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday!

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

Lent: Time to Empty Oneself


Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

A newly ordained priest was very excited about celebrating his first season of Lent as a priest. He was preparing the liturgies and homilies very diligently. This priest was serving in the United States but he was from another country. A few days before Ash Wednesday, his mother fell gravely ill. His mother was advanced in age and her health was weak. After some thought, he decided to go back to his country and help his mother hoping to get back soon to the US and celebrate Lent with his parishioners. While the priest was taking care of his mother, things got more complicated. She had a heart attack. The doctors helped her to come back. The doctors spent all night doing procedures on her to keep her alive. Early in the morning, after all the procedures, she was back. At that point, the priest anointed her. The priest realized that he needed to stay with her to help her in her recovery.

The priest spent the whole season of Lent taking care of her, helping her to take care of her basic needs. She recovered some more and the priest was able to return to his parish in the US just in time for Holy Week. Reflecting back, the priest recognized that initially he was disappointed he was not able to celebrate Lent in full as a priest with his parishioners. Nevertheless, taking care of his mother was one of the most meaningful religious experiences he ever had. While he was taking care of his mother he was able to get to know her better and to appreciate what she had done in life for her family, includ­ing her son, the priest. He was also able to be touched by the suffering and vulnerability of elderly people, especially women. Most importantly, through the whole experience, the priest had the opportunity of emptying himself from his own expectations about Lent. He understood that the religious practices are important and that they help us to grow. Nevertheless, Lent is about something deeper, the willingness to empty oneself for the benefit of others. Just as Christ did, "Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for tr1e sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God" (1 Peter 3: 18a). Only then is when Lent becomes a life changing experience.

The Lord gives us opportunities, like the one given to the priest, for us to empty ourselves in our daily lives. The Church invites us to empty oneself for the benefit of others through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. One of the ways our Parish is also giving us that opportunity is by becoming a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul society and volunteering to serve the poor. We heard their invitation last week and we heard how this service is a life changing experience. Please consider this opportunity. Now it is up to us, if this season of Lent is just one more in our lives, or if it is the one season that will change our lives for the rest of our existence. 

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Everything for the Glory of God

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

"Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, 
do everything for the glory of God."

In this week's second reading, Saint Paul invites us to do everything for the glory of God. Though this invitation might seem to be very tame, it has deep implications. It questions the deep reason behind all our actions. What are the real motivations behind our daily behaviors?

That we live in a self-centered and hedonistic society is evident to all of us. Our culture does not foster generosity and self-giving attitudes. Preoccupation with self-advancement, sexual and sensual gratification, and the creation of false human idols-sports, politics, and the arts-drum the behavior of the masses. The greater glory of God seems to be far away from the minds of most of those with whom we live our lives.

How can we create around ourselves an environment which will empower us to give priority to this goal? Some people might think that isolation might be the solution. But isolation negates our role as witnesses to the Gospel in the world. Jesus himself told us that we were in the world but not of the world. This dichotomy challenges us to live with the inner tension of being immersed in the world but not belonging to the world. It takes a mature faith to be able to withstand the forces of the world and its culture which try to engulf us. As in the day of Saint Paul, it is not easy to live a Christian life which aims to do everything for the glory of God.

It is up to each one of us to develop that mature faith. God grants us the graces to live a Christian life, but it is up to each one of us to create that inner personal culture of faith which would enable us to live our lives for the greater glory of God. Faith education plays a very important role in this process. In the same way in which we con­stantly update ourselves in our professional fields, it is fundamental we do so at the level of our faith formation. Let us make the best of the opportunities offered to us to grow in our faith. Only through a mature faith will we be able to live as Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught his followers: Ad Maiorem Dei Gloria!

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

Preach the Gospel!

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! - I Cor 9:16

When I was in my early twenties, I started to read the Bible with certain regularity. At the time, I was living in Colombia in the midst of a very complicated political situation. There was a lot of social unrest. Every time I read the Bible, I would find hope and healing. That was a moment of abundant grace in my life. This reading of the Bible and the situation of my country moved me to grow in the understanding and practice of my faith. Soon after that, I started to attend Bible classes. I was not confirmed yet, so I also decided to seek faith formation. In the midst of this search, I was also looking for a Church where the preaching would help me to grow in faith and especially in hope.

One day, I decided to go to Parroquia de Santo Domingo, the Dominican parish in my hometown. That day, the homily of the priest really spoke to my heart. At the end of Mass, the priest also announced that the confirmation classes were about to start. I was very happy because I had found the two things I was looking for in just one place.

The priest who celebrated the Mass that day was Luis Carlos Perea, O.P. He was known as Padre Perea. He was very joyful, very passionate about God's love for us, and a very good Dominican. I started to attend mass frequently. Padre Perea and I became friends. Later on, he asked me to help him with First Communion classes since he did not have enough teachers. I accepted even though I was a little hesitant since it was my first time teaching religious classes in a Church setting.

One day, Padre Perea and I were having coffee, and he asked me if I would like to be a Dominican. When I heard this question something happened inside me. For me, it was like the whole world had stopped. I said to him that I had never thought about it. He asked me if I would like to think about it to which I said I would. Since then, I never stopped thinking about being a Dominican. Later on, with the help and guidance of Padre Perea, I decided to join the Order.

As in my personal vocation story, there are many other stories that help to highlight how essential the mission of preaching the Gospel is. This is precisely what St. Paul is reminding us in his letter today. It is very clear that the mission of preaching the Gospel is to open the hearts of the people of God to receive inspiration, healing, and conversion. It is through the mission of preaching that God makes his way in to move the hearts of his people to new opportunities and new decisions to respond to His Holy Will.

In a parish like ours, the mission of Preaching the Gospel, is not just the responsibility of the priest but of every member. Have you ever wonder how God is calling you to participate in the mission of preaching the Gospel? If not, would you like to think about it?

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P

Times of Many Voices

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

The people were astonished at his teaching, 
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

The listeners of Jesus were astonished because he taught them as one having authority. His words were not grounded on others' authority but on himself. He spoke in the name of the Father and his message resounded in their hearts.

Though people were astonished, that did not mean that they liked his message, because his message challenged many of their religious and devotional traditions. The Sadducees did not like when he spoke of resurrection and angels. The Pharisees did not like what he had to say about their mechanical following of the letter of the Mosaic Law and their judging of other people's lives. Jesus' words were at times harsh to listen to and even harsher to accept. His teachings were forcing people to expand their understanding of who God was and how God loved us. Jesus' words of truth brought many to hate him and produce his violent death.

We live in times of many voices; voices that try to redefine for us the meaning of truth, of who we are and how we are supposed to lead our lives. Amidst the noise of these many voices, it is not easy at times to recognize the voice of Jesus, the one who spoke with authority. How to discern among the many voices? How to listen to the voice of the Master?

In the Catholic Church we have the advantage to know whom to listen to and how to listen. We know, as part of the content of our faith, that Jesus gave to Peter and the other Apostles the power to bind and loose, the power of the keys. And our faith tells us that these powers are passed onto their successors.


These powers connote the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. We are not left alone. The voice of the Master still reaches us through the voice of the Bishop of Rome and the College of Bishops. And they do speak with clarity and ;authority. We might not always like what they tell us; but at the end we have to be able to put to the side the cafeteria approach to the Church. It is not about liking or disliking. It is about listening to the voice and obeying it.

- fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

I am Calling You!

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,


Simon, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen. Simon and his brother Andrew were casting their nets into the sea while James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John were in a boat mending their nets. They were doing their regular daily work when the Lord saw them. Then the Lord called them to follow him and become fishers of men. It is interesting to see how the extraordinary of the Kingdom of God unfolds within the ordinary routines and activities of our lives.

It is within their own circumstances that Jesus cal1ed Simon, Andrew, James, and John to participate in the mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. After hearing the call, they left their nets and James and John left their father along with the hired men. In order to follow Jesus, they had to leave someone or something behind.

In our daily lives, we need attentive listening to be able to hear Jesus' call and the freedom and willingness to follow him and fulfill the mission to which he is calling us. What is the Lord calling me to today? What do I need to let go of to follow him and proclaim the Kingdom of God? We are invited to ponder these two questions individually and as a parish.

The mission statement of Holy Parish says that "we strive to live and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ." This is at the very heart of our parish. This is the call we have received. We respond to this mission by participating in the liturgy, the sacraments, and all the other ministries. A good number of parishioners are already taking part on this call We are grateful for their generosity. Still, the Lord is calling others. For this reason, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to take a look at our different ministries and consider enrolling in one of them. This is one of the concrete ways we respond to the call.

As for the first disciples, responding to Jesus' call is a Life changing experience. We might need to leave something or someone behind, we might need to do some changes in our ordinary lives but be sure that only then, the extraordinary of the Kingdom of God will come.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.


Planting the Seeds of Vocations

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,


"Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, 'What are you looking for?'They said to him, 'Rabbi, where are you staying?' He said to them, 'Come, and you will see.' So they; went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day."

Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are fundamental to the healthy development and future of the Church in the United States. Sadly, we are presently encountering a crisis. Though we in our parish do not experience the brunt of this situation, we have to look into the future and ask ourselves: what are we doing in order to secure the proper ministerial assistance for our parish community?

Vocations can not only be a concern for bishops and provincials. Vocations are born and fostered in the safe space of our families. It is the parental invitation that plants the seeds of vocations in the hearts of the younger generation. Parental encouragement is fundamental. The parents within our communities need to question themselves: how would I react if one of my children wanted to become a priest or religious? Sadly, I believe that for some parents it is more important to create an attitude which encourages success and status in the minds of their children. In my experience, I have encountered a number of young men who were afraid to pose to their parents a question regarding a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. There is a fear of disappointing them; of not fulfilling their expectations. Is this the attitude prevailing within our families? Though it is always important to encourage our children to be their best in preparing for their future, this should never preclude the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.

Young Samuel in this Sunday's first reading was unable to recognize the voice of God. It took the advice of Eli, who played a parental role in his life, to help him recognize the call as the call from God. Only then was he able to respond and accept the call. It is primarily the role of the parents to teach their children to discern the voice of God in their lives. We live in a world where the voices are many and confusing and many of them do not attempt to lead us to love and serve God. The parents, as the first teachers of their children, play a unique and privileged role in the religious formation of their children.

It is also important to realize the power of prayer regarding vocations. We, as a parish community, need to constantly pray for vocations. Jesus himself told his disciples to pray to the Father for more workers for the harvest. Our prayers pave the way for more vocations. Our prayers united to the intercession of the Blessed Mother will help us foster and support more vocations within the hearts of our families.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, 0.P.


A Guiding Star

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,


Today we hear in the Gospel of a guiding star: "And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother"(Matthew 2,9b-11a). I could not help but contemplate how our Holy Rosary parish is a guiding star that leads many to see Jesus and his mother.

After my first months of ministry here, I have witnessed this guidance. Holy Rosary is a guiding star by being faithful to the Magisterium of the Church in our preaching, teaching and the liturgical celebrations. Holy Rosary as a guiding star is also very inspired by the testimony of God's love in the lives of many. As Pastor, I have had the grace and the privilege of seeing how God is restoring the lives of people who come to confession or seek spiritual advice. Parishioners are also always ready to love their neighbor by helping them when they are in need. This was very clear to me after Hurricane Harvey. Love for the neighbor is very concrete and real in our parish by the service of the staff, the volunteers, the ministry leaders, the friars, and all the faithful who support the ministry of this parish with their time, talent and treasure. Personally, I am very grateful to all parishioners for their love and support. This is a parish that truly strives to live and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I can also say that Holy Rosary is the guiding star that brought me here as Pastor. When I was discerning to serve in this capacity, I felt drawn to it in part because of the place that Our Lady of the Holy Rosary has in my life and my vocation. Even though I visited the parish before, I did not have the opportunity to become more familiar with parishioners and the parish life itself. Now that I have met some of the wonderful, faithful people that strive for holiness here at Holy Rosary, I am very happy being here as a part of this guiding star. I also appreciate the challenges of the parish life because they are opportunities for growth, grace, and conversion.

As a guiding star Holy Rosary calls us to be active participants of our faith so that we may arrive to the place God is leading us to. As we begin this new year and trusting in this guiding star, I look forward in continuing walking with you in order to bring more people from Houston and beyond to see Jesus and his mother Mary here at Holy Rosary. 

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

All Families are Called to Be Holy


The hectic activities of the Christmas celebra­tions are mostly gone, and now we deal with the memories of those days. Whenever fami­lies are gathered for the holidays it seems as if the best and worst of all its member's affects tend to appear. Now that mostly everyone is gone back to wherever they came from, we deal with the questions: Was it worth it? Can we not be like every other family and enjoy the celebrations in peace?

A good friend of mine, who happens to be a psychiatrist, once told me an as­sertion that made me wonder. She said: "All families are dysfunctional." She was not trying to tell me that all families are sick, but the simple fact that there are no perfect families. Every family has issues and they deal with them the best way they can.

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. What is the Church's liturgy trying to teach us through this celebration? Contrary to what some people believe, the Church is not trying to present to us a perfect family, but is showing us a more realistic option. It is showing us the option available to all families to be holy.

Contrary to what some people think, holiness is not perfection. Holiness is learn­ing how to fulfill God's will in our lives. It is living our lives in obedience to God's plan. The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph also dealt with issues: Joseph's doubts, Jesus' decision to remain in Jerusalem when his parents left. We all know of insecurities and rebelliousness in our ovm families. There are no perfect families.

However, there is an option available to all our families, the option to become holy in the eyes of God: the option to live in obedience to God's will within our families; the option to realize God's plan within the small framework of our families.

Our family life may never be perfect, but holiness is always a possibility with God's grace and our commitment. May all our families become holy families!

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.

The Birth of a Child


Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

The birth of a child generates different responses. Parents make sure they have everything ready for when the baby comes. The mother experiences the pains during labor. The father goes through some anxiety and worry while he waits for the baby to be born. Grandparents, relatives, and friends make phone calls to see if the baby was born and if everything worked out well. Once the baby is born, safe and sound, all rejoice and there is a great sense of peace, beauty, and awe.

This Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Advent which also concludes the Advent season. Also, this Sunday we enter into the Christmas celebration. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God born in the midst of pain, anxieties, and expectation. It is the Word of God made flesh in Jesus that gives us a renewed sense of peace, beauty and awe. Jesus' peace is a reassurance that God is truly with us every moment, every step of our journey. The word made flesh is a reassurance of God's beauty that he shares with all creation. Jesus renews our sense of awe, Divine awe, because God surprises us all with the simplicity of a baby born in a manger.

During Christmas night, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are invited to enter into Jesus' peace, beauty, and awe. It is a time for us to allow the word to continue becoming flesh in our lives in very simple and surprising ways.

As we enter into this celebration, on behalf of the Dominican Friars of Holy Rosary and the San Martin de Porres Province, I wish you a merry Christmas! Please know that during this time of the year we keep you and your family in our prayers.

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

The Inner Joy in the Heart of Jesus


Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

In today's second reading Saint Paul exhorts us to rejoice. Why should he be reminding us of something that seems so unimportant? Should joy be an essential part of our Christian life? Joy should be at the heart of every Christian life. The joy that exists in our lives is but a reflection of the inner joy in the heart of Jesus who is constantly inviting us to follow him in the path of salvation. Joy is the natural response of the souls that discover that God loves us in the person of the Messiah with a love beyond commitment. Through the incarnation of the Eternal Word, God came into the life of the world to bring radical change, an empowerment to conquer sin and death. And in the face of this, we cannot remain without a proper response. And that response is joy; a joy that is not born out of simple human fulfillment but a joy that comes from the knowledge that God loves us in the person of Jesus, who came into our world to offer us a path to forgiveness and eternal life. We, the baptized, are therefore constantly reminded in Jesus of our dignity and condition.

We are no longer tied to the bonds of sin and death. We are children of God blessed and called to eternal life. No Christian can be on the path toward salvation without joy in their lives. Rejoice and be glad!

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P

How is God preparing me during this Advent?

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,


Advent is a time of anticipation. One of the meanings of anticipation refers to an action that takes into account a later action or event. For example, when planning a party one might decide to have some extra food in anticipation of a larger crowd than one expected to attend. In this sense, anticipation calls for preparation.

We might think that in anticipation to God's full revelation, preparation is our responsibility and that somehow we should determine and decide how that preparation should be or go. Nevertheless, according to the Scriptures, it seems that God himself prepares his people. We hear of this preparation when God sent his prophet to offer comfort and to speak tenderly to the hearts of the Israelites. This is an attempt from God to convince his people that he is concerned about them. Also, through the prophet, God proclaims the completion of the process of purification process of sorrow for the people of Israel. In this way God reveals himself as comforting and purifying his people in the midst of suffering and sorrow.

In a similar way, in the second letter of Peter we hear that "The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard 'delay,' but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." It is clear then that when God delays his revelation it is because He patiently waits for our repentance and conversion since He wants the salvation of all. As God patiently waits for us to repent, we are called to patiently wait for Him.

As we enter into the Second week of Advent, let us ponder the ways that the Lord is preparing us for his coming. Is the Lord comforting me at this time? Am I going through moments of purification and sorrow? Is there any person or circumstance that requires me to be patient? How are these moments preparing me to encounter the Lord when the time comes?

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

Advent - The Season of Realignment

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Every owner of a car is aware of the need for the proper alignment of the tires. Without proper alignment the possibility of controlling the direction of our driving is severely diminished; and the chances of greater wear and tear of the tires are proportionally increased. Proper alignment allows us to reach our destination safely and promptly no matter what kind of weather we encounter on the roads.

As we begin the new liturgical year today, this First Sunday of Advent, we are all given a chance to look into our lives, at all levels, and realize our need of realignment. Advent is the time of the liturgical year when we are all invited to look and focus on the direction and purpose of our lives. Contrary to some peoples' misconceptions, Advent is much more than a simple preparation of the Christmas season. During the Advent season we are invited not only to prepare for the commemoration of the Lord who came, but also to prepare for the Lord who will come again at the end of time. Moreover, beyond the first and last coming of the Lord, in Advent we prepare for the daily encounters with the Lord who constantly is meeting with us throughout our lives.

Advent is a season of realignment. A time of the year to question ourselves on our fidelity to the Lord who came and taught us how to live. A time of the year to question ourselves about our ability to recognize the Lord when he arrives at his last coming and be accountable for our lives. A time of year to question ourselves about our ability to recognize the Lord in the daily encounters of our lives, when he approaches us in the persons of our brothers and sisters.

Let us make this Advent season a time of realignment in our lives. Let us come ready to cry out with the whole Church: "Marantha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!"

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P

Responding to the Call of the Lord


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.

Then the King Will Say ... (Matthew 25:34)

Dear Parishioners & Visitors,

Today we celebrate with the Church the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Pope Pius XI instituted this solemnity on December 11, 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas. The institution of this feast day to celebrate the kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ was the fruit of the Jubilee year in which Pope Pius XI asked the faithful to pray for peace among peoples. This request from the Pope came at a time of political and social unrest among nations. During that year, the faithful had more than one opportunity to enhance the glory of the Kingdom of Christ. - Quas primas, 6

In his encyclical, pope Pius XI begins with the scriptural foundation of this celebration:

"Do we not read throughout the Scriptures that Christ is the King? He it is that shall come out of Jacob to rule, (Numbers 24:19) who has been set by the Father as king over Sion, his holy mount, and shall have the Gentiles for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. (Psalm 2) In the nuptial hymn, where the future King of Israel is hailed as a most rich and powerful monarch, we read: 'Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever; the scepter of thy kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.' (Psalm 44) There are many similar passages, but there is one in which Christ is even more clearly indicated. Here it is foretold that his kingdom will have no limits, and will be enriched with justice and peace: 'in his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace ... And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."' (Psalm 71)

- Quas Primas, 8

The constant affirmation through the Scriptures is that only when Christ has full authority in our lives, true peace flourishes. It is the peace that comes precisely from obeying the voice of Christ in the Gospel:

"Then the King will say ... 
Come, you who are blessed by my Father. 
lnherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, 
I was thirsty and you gave me drink, 
a stranger and you welcomed me, 
naked and you clothed me, 
ill and you cared for me, 
in prison and you visited me."

- Matthew 25: 34-36

-fr. Jorge Rátiva, O.P.

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


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


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.