Liturgy Corner—Página Liturgica

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT:

A true Lenten conversion must begin with a look of tenderness and compassion.  They are two things that can prevent us to truly experience the look of God’s immensity love for us.  One is our self-satisfaction or sense of justification and the other is our constant intuition of unworthiness conscientiousness in a sense of saying God would never forgive us.  In both cases we can found ourselves wrestling with God’s merciful heart and compassion.  For the past couple weeks, the Lenten liturgy invites us to focus on the tremendous ability of God to forgive and to show mercy.  There is no such sin that God cannot forgive.  We have learned and experienced through the salvation history that God has always shown mercy to sinners, even the most reckless people.

The scripture readings for this fifth Sunday of Lent reveals that our God is a liberator and savior, and that He can give life and hope to his people in the midst of the most uncertainty and desperation of life {first reading} just to praise his name.  However, to be able to do that we must turn our life to God, to set free our own self and turn our life entirely to Jesus Christ like Saint Paul did {second reading}. Because, it is only through Him and with Him that we can find the strength to free ourselves from everything that can be an obstacle for our salvation: like self justification and the intuition of unworthiness.  Paul, from his personal experience after his conversion, leads us to understand that the true liberation comes from Jesus.  Only God’s grace can transform our existence through repentance and a true conversion in the light of the saving act of Jesus Christ.  Everyone has been wounded and everyone have wounded someone, so there is an exceptional need for repentance as a proper response to God’s mercy.

In today’s Gospel John gave us a different version of mercy; a mercy that set us free.  This woman that was caught in the very act of committing adultery should be stoned to death according to the law.  Her accusers were the Scribes, the Pharisees and the elders, the were very prominent figures and well known for their religious belief and their interpretation of the law.  But Jesus’ word on this specific situation changed everything: “Let the one among you who is without sins be the first to throw the first stone”.  With those words Jesus sent everyone to look up to their conscience.  In the eyes of God no one is without sins.  In her entire life, the adulterous woman knew only two kinds of looks: a look of sexual desire that men bore on her and a murderous look of hatred and condemnation.  Jesus looks at her with respect, kindness and understanding.  He does not point to her an accusing finger.  Jesus does not deny the sin of this woman, but he does not condemn it. He lifts her up, puts her back up and restores her dignity as a human person.  He invites her to forget her past and start a new life, a new beginning.

One way or another, everyone is guilty of something.  Everyone has some type of wounds; either we have been wounded or we had wound someone else.  That is why Jesus came to us today to offer everyone his humble mercy and forgiveness.  Our life is full of scandals, small or big, known or unknown, but the grace of God can help us to overcome these scandals as we accept to repent and seek for forgiveness.  What we need to learn today during this Lenten journey is: “sin is a scourge, an evil to fight and to reject but the sinner is someone that needs healing and salvation”.

Una verdadera conversión de Cuaresma empieza con una mirada de ternura y compasión.  Hay dos cosas que nos pueden impedir  experimentar la mirado del amor inmenso de Dios por nosotros.  Una de ellas es la propia satisfacción o el sentido de justificación y la otra es nuestra intuición constante de la escrupulosidad falta de mérito en un sentido de decir que Dios nunca nos perdonaría.  En ambos casos podemos encontraros luchando en contra el corazón y la compasión misericordiosa de Dios.  En estas últimas  semanas, la liturgia cuaresmal nos invita a centrarnos en la tremenda capacidad de Dios para perdonar y ser misericordioso.  No hay tal pecado que Dios no pueda perdonar . Hemos aprendido y experimentado a fondo la historia de la salvación que Dios siempre ha mostrado misericordia a los pecadores, incluso las personas más imprudentes.

Las lecturas de la sagrada escritura de este quinto domingo de Cuaresma revelaron que nuestro Dios es un liberador y salvador y Él puede dar vida y esperanza a su pueblo en medio de la mayor incertidumbre y desesperación de la vida {primera lectura} por su gloria.  Sin embargo, para hacer eso debemos entregar nuestra vida a Dios, liberarnos de nuestro propio ser y dar nuestra vida completamente a Jesucristo como San Pablo lo hizo {segunda lectura}.  Porque, es sólo por Él y con Él que podemos encontrar la fuerza para liberarnos de todo lo que puede ser un obstáculo para nuestra salvación: como la autojustificación y la intuición de indignidad.  Pablo, en su experiencia personal después de su conversión, nos lleva a entender que la verdadera liberación viene de Jesús.  Sólo la gracia de Dios puede transformar nuestra existencia a través del arrepentimiento y una verdadera conversión a la luz de la acción salvadora de Jesucristo. En realidad cada uno ha sido herido en la vida y cada uno hirió a alguien y es por eso que hay una necesidad excepcional de arrepentimiento como una respuesta adecuada a la misericordia de Dios.

En el Evangelio de hoy, Juan nos dio una versión diferente de la misericordia; es una misericordia que nos hace libres.  Esta mujer sorprendida en el acto mismo de adulterio debe ser lapidada hasta la muerte según la ley.  Sus acusadores fueron escribas, fariseos y  ancianos, figuras muy prominentes y bien conocidos por sus creencias religiosas y su interpretación de la ley.  Pero la palabra de Jesús en este caso especifico cambia todo.  “Aquel de ustedes que no tenga pecado, que le tire la primera piedra” . Con estas palabras, Jesús envió a todos a mirar su propia conciencia.  En los ojos de Dios nadie está sin pecado.  En toda su vida, la mujer adúltera solo conocía dos tipos de miradas: una mirada de deseos sexuales que los hombres le mostraban y una mirada asesina de odio y condena.  Jesús por su lado la miraba con respeto, amabilidad y comprensión.  Él no la ha señalado con ningún dedo acusador.  Jesús no niega el pecado de esta mujer, pero no lo condena.  Él la levanta, la pone de vuelta y restaura su dignidad como persona humana.  Él la invita a olvidar su pasado y a comenzar una nueva vida, un nuevo comienzo.

De una forma u otra, todos somos culpables de algo.  Cada uno tiene algún tipo de herida; quizás  hemos sido heridos u otra persona nos ha herido.  Por eso que Jesús vino a nosotros para ofrecernos a todos nosotros su misericordia y perdón.  Nuestra vida está llena de escándalos, pequeños o grandes, conocidos o desconocidos, pero la gracia de Dios nos puede ayudar a superar estos escándalos si de verdad aceptamos el arrepentirnos y buscar el perdón.  Lo que tenemos que aprender hoy durante esta jornada de Cuaresma es que “el pecado es una plaga, un mal para combatir y rechazar , que el pecador es alguien que necesita sanación y de salvación”.

 

 

2018/06/24 The Nativity of John the Baptist

It is a kind uplifting moment this weekend to celebrate the feast of the birthday of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus.  This is a universal celebration in our Catholic’s tradition that gives us an incentive of the importance of John in the history of salvation.  As we look at the person of John the Baptist the first word that can comes to our mind is conversion.  John was a man of profound faith and continued conversion.  His message was all about conversion: “Repent because the kingdom of God is at hand”.  John truly understands how the dynamic of God’s grace works.  He knew and understood that no one can achieve the full maturity of faith without a constant and permanent experience of conversion.  Our experience of true Christianity teaches that conversion it is not like one deal done.  It is mostly about a lifelong experience of a constant desire to change because through conversion we are able to show to the rest of the world the true value of our Christian faith.

What can we learn from today’s celebration as we remember the greatest of all the prophets?  The first thing that I would say is: Looking at the reality of our lives, there is an invitation to change our aggressive mentality into something that is more suitable to the core of our Christians values.  The second thing is to little by little rediscover the sacred silence and the sacred light that have always instilled in us the desire to listen to God asking us to try again and again.  And last, the willingness to take together and pondered prayerfully consider to appreciate more and more the careful and loving initiative of God calling toward a more intimate experience with Him.

Brief update:  As I mentioned to you before; on June 4th, we have begun the work for the renovation of the Parish Hall. So far, the project is going very well and we hope to be on schedule for the completion.  The finishing will be beautiful.  As I mentioned before, the Hall is a great asset for the school and the parish.  Through the dedication of the principal we were able to secure from two different foundations an amount of 200,000.00.  The parish continues to count on your generosity to be able to cover the cost which is $368,482.00 and it does not included a new AC Unit and furniture.

New Roof:  Because of rain, the contractor has to delay the work on the roofs.  We hope to resume it as soon as we have good weather.  As I stated before, all these roofs have been damaged by the hurricane Irma in 2017, and are covered under the insurance, however, our deductible will be $143,600.00.  Once again I will appreciate your help to fulfill our task.  I am very aware of the sacrifices you have made to provide generously for the parish in order to be where we are today.  Once again, I anticipate thanking you for your contribution and support.  I pray that God our Father will grant you and your families his countless blessing.

Rev. Ducasse Francois, Pastor

2018/06/17 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Father’s Day

The prophecy in our first reading from the Book of Ezekiel is a prophecy about the kingdom of Christ.

In the Gospel from Mark 4, Jesus tells two parables – one about a seed that is growing secretly and the other about the mustard seed.  I would like to explore the parable of the seed that is growing secretly.  In this parable Jesus is trying to get his disciples to understand that there is a seed of faith that is growing in Jesus’ ministry and that the seed will eventually grow and produce fruit after Jesus suffers, dies and is risen.  When we plant seeds, we cannot make them grow ourselves.  Once we sow the seeds, the rest is up to God – the process of growth is a beautiful gift from God.

In a similar way, God controls the growth of the seed of faith in our hearts.  We can try to ignore it, but once the seed of faith is planted in our hearts at Baptism, our lives are changed.  Our parents need to help us through teaching us about the faith and bringing us to Mass, but at some point the Holy Spirit takes over and helps our faith develop and grow strong in our hearts.

As disciples we, through Evangelization, can also help sow seeds of faith in the hearts of unbelievers.  Once planted, the Holy Spirit will take over, and help faith grow in their hearts.

If we have family members who seem to have turned away from their faith, we should pray that the Holy Spirit will help them to remember what God has done for them in their lives.

My friends, by now you know that I will be leaving St. Juliana at the end of June.  I cannot express in words how much I love you all and what being here for these last two years has meant to me.  You have helped me grow so much in my ministry as a priest and I will miss you dearly and I will remember our time together as I move to Ft. Pierce to become the Parochial Administrator at St. Mark the Evangelist.

Rev. Bob Pope

 

2018/06/10 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear brothers and sisters,

 

On this tenth Sunday in ordinary time the question has been raised about the origin of Jesus’ power that transformed the lives of so many people. To answer this question Mark’s Gospel highlights the point about Jesus to be the powerful Savior with strong and mighty grace who comes to rescue humankind from anything that might tie them down. Mark describes Jesus as the strong man who uses his power to liberate, to heal, to forgive and to save. Since the dark power of Satan was at work on earth, he was the perfect response to defeat the darkness.

 

His power comes from God the Father who sent Him to defeat the prince of darkness. He has been vested by the power of God to accomplish a rescue mission and to form a new community of believers; men and women of faith whom through the spirit of discipleship become his true family. The vain accusation of the Scribes about Jesus acting on Beelzebul’s behalf is part of a greater conspiracy against God’s plan to set humanity free from the bondage and the glamour of evil. Once again today we continue to see the action of the devil in our world and society but we strongly believe that Christ is stronger than the greatest obstacles we can imagine that happen today. He invites us to share with Him his great rescue mission to fulfill the divine will and liberate all those who have been trapped by the grip of death.

 

** Please allow me to share with you what is going on, on campus during the summer: Since last Monday June 4th we began the renovation of the Parish Hall. As I stated in my letter several weeks ago there is a great need to do some major repairs; upgrades and even to bring to code some areas. The hall is a great asset for the school and has been used for different purposes. For the restoration the school was able to secure from two different Foundations an amount of $200,000.00. The total cost for the restoration will be $368,482.00 not included new AC Units and furniture.

 

New Roofs are being installed on Four buildings: the Church, Cafeteria, Saint Joseph House (Old Convent), and School Offices buildings. All these roofs were damaged by hurricane Irma in 2017 and are covered under the insurance however our deductible will be $143,600.00. I will appreciate if anyone can support us for these projects. I am very aware of the sacrifices you have made to provide generously for the parish in order to be where we are today. Once again, I anticipate thanking you for your contribution and support. I pray that God our Father will grant you and your families his countless blessing.

 

Fr. Ducasse Francois, Pastor

 

2018/05/06 6th Sunday of Easter

Jesus’ command to us for this sixth Sunday of Easter is that we should love one another. Why is this commandment so hard for us sometimes? After all, loving other people is doing charity which is “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” Catechism 1822.

If we are honest, we might say something like “Some people are just not that easy to love” or “ How can I love a person who is mean to me or has hurt me so deeply?”

God loved each one of us so much that he sacrificed his only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus laid down his life for us, for the forgiveness of our sins. This is the ultimate act of love.

How can we do better in complying with this commandment in our lives? Can we be more forgiving? Can we be more loving? Can we be less self centered and more other person centered?

These are just a few ways to show our love for one another. Our love needs to be self sacrificing, where we give up part of ourselves when we take the time and effort to show love for others.

Love needs to be a part of our character, our very being. It needs to be 2nd nature, so that we can express love easily and readily to all the people in our lives.

We may not like the way someone else behaves or treats us, but that is no reason not to love them. God made them and it is our duty to love them.

When love is part of our character, it can freely flow out of us specially when we interact with other people. People notice whether or not we are loving and caring people.

Jesus washed his disciples’ feet because he loved them so much. Jesus died on the cross for our sins because he loved us so much. Jesus wants us and commands us to love others with such sacrificial love.

So this week, may we do what our scriptures encourage all of us to do and sacrifice some time and energy to show love for another person. Have an awesome week.

Rev. Bob Pope, Parochial Vicar

 

2018/04/29 Fifth Sunday of Easter

The past recent weeks have been very interesting in reading the message of Jesus from Saint John’s Gospel. The image of Good Shepherd from last week left a very good test for us about the unity that He and His disciples shared together. And this weekend is the symbolism of the vine, branches, grapes, prune that come as an ordinary scene where the word remain serves as a refrain of the melody of the unity. In a very symbolic image Jesus has used an old practice of winemaking that is dated from 4100 B.C and that has not changed during his time. Basically he was using an image that is very common in his culture and familiar to his people.

This statement “I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower” can be seen as a key element for the comprehension of our relation with Him and His Father. If we want to produce fruits we must remain in Him. It’s all about producing fruits. There is a necessity to remain with Jesus and remaining in his love. Keep in mind the images of Israel as vine as appeared in the Old Testament like in Isa 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21. Somehow using the same image can lead to anticipate by seeing Jesus as a replacement of this image of Israel in the Old Testament as the true vine. Also, the Old Testament spoke about pruning the fruitless vine and can be compared today to people hiding their faith. Jesus is warning them in some way to remain closer to the source in order to be able to be more productive in the context of faith. This image of pruning echoes the idea of the adjustment we have to make in our life when we realize our wrongdoing or when we have discovered that we have made the wrong decision. Our life always needs some type of readjustment.

The act of pruning away the old branches is in connection with the hope that the new will be giving life more abundantly. One of the things we need to remember as evidence of that pruning and remaining is to be able to speak openly about our faith. In the first and the second reading we can see how Paul and John have taken this initiative to really stand and speak loudly about their belief in Jesus and inspired others to do the same. I don’t how do you feel today about what you have heard or read but to me it is very inspiring. I tried to stay with the word remain that is the refrain. There is that constant need for you and for me to keep remaining in the Lord. As we look at the challenges of our faith, the challenges of our society and the challenges of our church and family there is nothing else we can do than to keep our hope, our faith alive by remaining in Jesus the true vine. By remaining in Him, the Risen Lord, we continue to draw life from Him and empower ourselves to give life to others. This is our call, this is our life and this is what we have been called to do, to get connected to Christ, allowing his word to live in us and let his Holy Spirit breathe in us as we continue to give fruits of life and joy.

Rev. Ducasse Francois, Pastor

 

2018/03/18 Fifth Sunday of Lent

On this fifth and last Sunday of Lent for 2018, our Gospel and liturgy focus our attention on the imminent death of Jesus. The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah talks about the New Covenant that God plans to establish with the people of Israel. This new covenant contains a message of hope, forgiveness and transformation.

We have the advantage to be able to realize what Jeremiah is predicting, because we know how this new covenant comes to pass, through the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. But it is good for us to contemplate the message of hope, forgiveness and transformation.

First we have hope. Through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross, we have the sure hope of the resurrection and eternal life for ourselves and our loved ones. As baptized Christians we have this sure hope, but we also have the responsibility to practice our faith daily. If we don’t practice our faith daily, then we miss out on the many graces that we receive from the Holy Spirit. If we don’t practice our faith daily, our lives will not be as full of this hope as they can be.

Second we have forgiveness. The Lord’s mercy is beyond our human comprehension. When we sin we need to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness through an examination of conscience and the sacrament of confession. Confession will do what Psalm 51 says—”Create a clean heart in me, O God.” If you have not been to Confession in a while, I invite you to come to the Lenten Reconciliation Service on March 22 at 7 p.m. We will have extra confessors that evening.

Finally we have transformation. When we practice our faith daily, the Lord will transform our lives. We will experience changes that cannot happen otherwise. Each day will be full of joy and our problems will not seem so bad. The focus of our lives will also be transformed from focusing on power or wealth or possessions to focusing on love of God, love of neighbor and love of self.

Jesus wants each of us to have hope, forgiveness and transformation and he will help us achieve this, if we turn our lives completely over to him and we cry out to him create a clean heart in me, O God.

Father Bob Pope

 

2018/02/25 Second Sunday of Lent

The story of Abraham ends with the frightening moment of the sacrifice of Isaac. In a powerful way, God stops the slaughtering of the little boy who himself, has some great concerns over the sacrificial adventure of his father Abraham. God holds the arms of Abraham and stops him from cutting the throat of the boy. They are two great lessons to learn from Abraham: First of all, his faith in God and his willingness to total trust. How much can we learn from him today? If God is with us nothing can be against us. If God is with us, nothing can do us harm. These words from Saint Paul for today’s’ second reading, finds echoed to the trust and the unconditional faith of Abraham. Because his promise endure forever, and He always finds a way to bring us new consolation.

Talking about new consolation, the Apostles at the scene of the Transfiguration, find some answers to many of their unanswered questions. Six days after Jesus announced to the Apostles about his imminent death, the disciples were troubled and confused. I believe the experience of the Transfiguration came as a surprise but most of all, as a certain reassurance of the person of Jesus and his true identity. The place up the mountain has a very important theological significance. It is about the Mont Zion where the Temple of Jerusalem was built. Mountain, in the context of the biblical revelation, is a place for great encounter with God. So, up to the mountain, Jesus Transfigured in the presence of the three Apostles Peter, John, and James. They are the same ones who are going to witness his agony in the garden.

The Transfiguration has been for the three, a great moment of consolation in the midst of their doubt and unworthiness. This great manifestation seems to be a decisive moment for the disciples to be part of a greater conversation between the Old and the New, the prophet and the law, that found resonance in the person of Jesus. Yes indeed, the voice that from the cloud has confirmed it. “This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him”. Jesus is the beloved Son of God ,whom the Father sent to save humanity. The only response is to listen to Him.

What can we learn from this Gospel? First of all, the moment we spent in the presence of God can give us the strength to overcome the hardship we are experiencing every day in our lives. Second, no matter what is happening in our lives, we are sons and daughters of God. God’s love for us is unconditional. Third, we cannot only just taking pleasure in our comfort. We have a job to do. We need to go down the mountain and share with others our unconditional trust in God and our true faith.

Rev. Ducasse Francois, Pastor

 

2017/10/1 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

On this twenty sixth Sunday of the Ordinary time we heard from one of the great Prophets of the Old Testament, Ezekiel, as we know him through his writing speaking to the Israelite’s people in a very specific moment of their life.  It was about the time of their deportation far away from their native place.  The Jews were scattered all over a pagan soil. It was like a deplorable catastrophe and many of them blamed it  as the consequences of the sins of their predecessors.   As usual it is somebody  else’s  fault,  no  one  wants  to  take responsibility.   The prophet  Ezekiel  reacts  against  this  absurd  mentality  and reminds everyone about their own responsibilities.   The only way to approach this situation is by reviewing their lives and keeping their focus on the Lord. Turn away from your iniquities and seek God’s grace to escape from the glamour of death.
In the  second reading,  Paul,  in  his  letter  to the Philippians  gave  us  a  model  of  what it  means  to turn away from iniquities and change one’s heart.  In one word Paul is telling us
clothe ourselves with humility and be united in heart with one another.  Take Christ Jesus as our model who accepted to empty Himself and took the human flesh just to journey close to us, we, humankind, to the point he died on the cross for our salvation.  Such love has been shown to humanity in a very effective way in the person of Jesus whom God has exalted above all things here on earth and in the heavens. The Gospel is of the other master piece where Jesus uses the analogy of the vineyard for the second time.  Again, He was addressing a group of people who pretended to be the best among others.   Of
course they have been practicing the law and the precepts but they hide behind this glass and do not respond to the call for conversion.  This parable once again put in context the choice Jesus has made to welcome the sinners.  Those who have always said no to God.  Jesus saw what they have in their hearts; he knows their suffering and their desires to change their lives.  Since they found joy in Jesus, they opt for an encounter that has changed their lives and became his followers.  Their “No” became a “Yes” because they have been touched by such great love in a way that they never felt before. Through this  parable,  we  get  to truly understand that  Jesus  has  extended an invitation to  everyone,  righteous  and sinners alike, to be part of the vineyard and to do the will of the Father.  To do the will of the Father is not about just having good intentions, rather it is a
commitment, an adhesion to change one’s live and work in the vineyard as we share our faith and  hope with the rest of the world.  If you haven’t felt that need for commitment before, would you be able to change your opinion today, say a big “YES” to the Lord and go to work in the vineyard?  The
answer is yours.

Fr. Ducasse Francois, Pastor

2018/06/17 Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The prophecy in our first reading from the Book of Ezekiel is a prophecy about the kingdom of Christ.

In the Gospel from Mark 4, Jesus tells two parables – one about a seed that is growing secretly and the other about the mustard seed. I would like to explore the parable of the seed that is growing secretly. In this parable Jesus is trying to get his disciples to understand that there is a seed of faith that is growing in Jesus’ ministry and that the seed will eventually grow and produce fruit after Jesus suffers, dies and is risen. When we plant seeds, we cannot make them grow ourselves. Once we sow the seeds, the rest is up to God – the process of growth is a beautiful gift from God. In a similar way, God controls the growth of the seed of faith in our hearts. We can try to ignore it, but once the seed of faith is planted in our hearts at Baptism, our lives are changed. Our parents need to help us through teaching us about the faith and bringing us to Mass, but at some point the Holy Spirit takes over and helps our faith develop and grow strong in our hearts. As disciples we, through Evangelization, can also help sow seeds of faith in the hearts of unbelievers. Once planted, the Holy Spirit will take over, and help faith grow in their hearts. If we have family members who seem to have turned away from their faith, we should pray that the Holy Spirit will help them to remember what God has done for them in their lives. My friends, by now you know that I will be leaving St. Juliana at the end of June. I cannot express in words how much I love you all and what being here for these last two years has meant to me. You have helped me grow so much in my ministry as a priest and I will miss you dearly and I will remember our time together as I move to Ft. Pierce to become the Parochial Administrator at St. Mark the Evangelist