Fr. Thanh’s Mailbox

MESSAGES FROM FATHER THANH

LENT: A TIME TO RETURN

February 28, 2021

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Lent is a season of purple color: not purple at the horizon, not purple on flowers, but purple in the human heart because Lent calls for penitence and exhorts return.

Where to return?

Not to dogmas, not to duties  but to a Person.
He knows us before we know Him.
He loves us before we love Him.
His love begets us and only when we love Him, our happiness may be complete.
His laws protect us on the road to that happiness.
His religion is a string that connects His love to ours.
Therefore, violating His laws is to disconnect ourselves from His love.
Penitence is indeed a return to the Person who loves us.

We can return like  Zacchaeus. He was a corrupt tax collector. Upon hearing that Jesus would pass by, he was curious to see him. His return starts with a joyful welcome of Jesus into his home.

We can return like the adulterous woman. She was brought to Jesus. Everybody accused her of adultery, but Jesus remained silent. Finally, Jesus said to her, “Go and sin no more.” Her return begins when she totally surrenders herself to the mercy of God.

We can return like  Peter.  He denied knowing Jesus three times. His Christian discipleship seemed to be over, but it had hardly begun. Upon leaving, he turned back and saw the look of Jesus upon him. His return commences when he is willing to look at Jesus.

In brief, to return is to encounter God in order to accept His forgiveness with faith and love.

This kind of return is perpetual because when do we cease to be sinners?

Peace,
Fr. Thanh


“ONE FAMILY IN CHRIST”

February 21, 2021

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Once again, like all the 97 parishes and missions in the Diocese of Raleigh, our parish has embarked on an important effort to assist the Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) to raise funds that support the work of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) is conducted in every parish throughout the diocese to help finance various activities and programs of the Catholic Church in the eastern part of North Carolina.

The BAA reminds us we are one with other parishes in our diocese and the diocese itself. We have a chance to work together to care for the people of the church by sharing the gifts that God has given us. We are “one faith, one family in Christ” (the 2021 BAA theme).

There is an abundance of human need surrounding us—the poor, the sick, the elderly, troubled families, the disabled, and those in crisis.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal gives us an opportunity to respond to those in need and to show Christ’s love by puttingour faith in action as a diocesan family. The diocesan agencies and programs supported by the BAA help with both spiritual and physical needs and go beyond what an individual parish can accomplish alone.

The 2021 BAA goal for our parish is $133,727.00—the same as last year. 100% of over-the-goal money collected through the BAA will be returned to our parish for our parochial needs.

Last year, our parish generously pledged $209,087 or 156% of the goal. Your BAA pledge is part of your personal commitment to Christian Discipleship, giving thanks to God by returning a portion of the blessings God has given you.

Thousands of people, many programs and agencies, your parish and your diocese need your help. Please plan to make your pledge to the BAA.

More information is to follow in the next few weeks with how you can help in this effort.

God bless,
Fr. Thanh


B.A.A.: FROM THE PROFOUND TO THE PRACTICAL 

 February 14, 2021

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

In the past few weeks, through the BAA literature, from the pulpit, and in this Mailbox page, I have discussed and asked you to pray for the success of the 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

Many have affirmatively responded to this call and I feel confident we can be successful in spite of the current economic situation and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has not improved as we would like it to. Now, our 2021 BAA commitment weekend has arrived.

Humanity is challenged by the ongoing political unrest and unpredictable weather in the U. S. which serves as a reminder that help is in need. The 2021 BAA gives us the opportunity to extend God’s love to those in need. Also, the BAA embraces the charitable, spiritual, and educational needs of thousands of families, helping to unite our various parishes into one diocesan family. Through the BAA, we can demonstrate our stewardship by showing our love and caring for all of God’s family by moving from the profound to the practical.

From a Christian point of view, love is not only a warm feeling of one person toward another, but it is an act of giving. In other words, to love is to give and love is a gift.

“God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son…” (John 3: 16).

Our prayers are also vital for the success of this year’s Bishop’s Annual Appeal. They help us to remain focused on the goal to continue Jesus’ mission in the modern world. Please join me by praying that God touches our hearts, so we may share generously and joyfully the gifts we have received.

May God continue to bless each of us with his unfailing love and constant care,
especially during this holy season of Lent.

God bless,

Fr. Thanh


B.A.A.: LOVE IN ACTION!!

February 7, 2021

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

You and I may have all kinds of thoughts and ideas about love. In other words, love means different things to different people. But, from a Christian point of view, love is more than a warm feeling of one person toward another—primarily it is an act of giving—or meaning, to love is to give and love is a gift.

“God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son . . .” (John 3: 16)

During this time of the year, I would like to emphasize our need to participate in the
2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA).

The BAA embraces the charitable, spiritual, and educational needs of thousands of individual families, helping to unite our various parishes into one diocesan family. Through the BAA, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our stewardship by showing our love, caring for all of God’s family.

In the course of our daily lives, we have received many gifts from God and, I dare to say, most of them are free of charge! If we receive so many free gifts from God, we should also give back a small portion of what we have received and share it with other people in need through the 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. 

I call this process of sharing “sportsmanship” or playing the game and playing it fair.”

Our prayers are also vital for the success of this year’s Bishop’s Annual Appeal. They help us to remain focused on the ultimate goal—continuing the mission of Jesus in the modern world.

Please join me by praying that God touches our hearts so that we may share with others generously and joyfully the gifts we have received from God.

May God bless you all for your sacrificial gifts to the 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal.
God bless,
Fr. Thanh


January 31, 2021

THE 2021 BISHOP’S ANNUAL APPEAL

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

As we all know, Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama is the 6th bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh. He is continuing The Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA), which was initiated by the late Bishop Gossman to raise funds to support the work of the Diocese of Raleigh.

Thus the 2021 Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) is conducted in every parish throughout the Diocese to help finance various activities and programs of the Catholic Church in the eastern part of North Carolina.

The BAA reminds us that we are one with other parishes in our diocese and the diocese itself. The BAA gives us a chance to work together to care for the people of the church by sharing the gifts that God has given us. We are one faith, one family.

There is an abundance of human need surrounding us—the poor, the sick, the elderly, troubled families, the disabled, and those in crisis.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal gives us an opportunity to respond to those in need and to show Christ’s love by putting our faith in action as a diocesan family. The diocesan agencies and programs supported by the BAA help with both spiritual and physical needs and go beyond what an individual parish can accomplish alone.

The diocesan 2021 BAA goal is $7,345,212. Our parish goal is $133,727.

Your BAA pledge is part of your personal commitment to Christian Discipleship of giving thanks to God by returning a portion of the blessings God has given you. Thousands of people, many programs and agencies, your parish and your diocese need your help.

Please plan to make your pledge to the BAA.

Be Christ for others ………. pledge a generous gift to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal.

God bless,
Father Thanh

January 24, 2021

DOES GOD REALLY CARE?

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

None of us is a total stranger to a hopeless situation. We can do our best, but our best may not be good enough. At moments like these, do we deeply believe that God really cares?

This may be easy when the stars are shinning, and the sea of life is smooth! But when storm clouds gather and the sea is raging, this question takes a new urgency!

Does God really care?

I could tell you that he does. But you could point out that nothing much seems to come of it. Ultimately, this question is not answered by assurances from this Fr. Thanh’s Mailbox page or from the pulpit.

We must find him there ourselves.
And how do we do that?

Surely, it is by asking that other question: Do I care?
When you and I care, it is easy to believe that God cares.

Jesus often described life in terms such as this.
He said it is the merciful who receive mercy.
The only way to experience God’s mercy is to start practicing mercy.
The only way to experience God’s forgiveness is to start forgiving.

Does God really care?

Only those who care know the true answer to that question.

Yes, my friends, God really cares, and he is always with us in every storm of our lives.
But much more than that, God is also
beyond the storm.

Every Sunday, we come here to worship him. Our parish would not be a Catholic Church
unless we can come here, expecting to meet him who is beyond the storm.

When things look hopeless, we can hold on to our faith in him!

Peace,
Father Thanh

January 17, 2021

THE TWO DIMENSIONS OF HOLINESS

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Honestly speaking, you and I will do anything to go to heaven. The only way to achieve that goal is to become a holy person. That is why we attend Mass on Sunday, go to confession, read the Bible, give alms, etc.

Remember the day when Jesus told his disciples and us: “If your holiness does not surpass the holiness of the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of God.”

But “holiness” means different things to different people. As a priest, I can only talk about holiness from a Christian point of view.

  • Holiness is not only a matter of personal piety—a relationship between you and God by going to Mass, etc., which I call that the vertical dimension of holiness.
  • Holiness is also a matter of relationships between people. I call this the horizontal dimension of holiness.

Many people accentuate the vertical dimension and neglect the horizontal or social dimension of holiness. Jesus seemed to suggest otherwise when he said, “When you go to the altar to offer a gift to God and there you remember you had some conflict with your fellow human beings, leave the gift there at the altar and go back to make peace with them before returning to offer your gift to God.”

The last parable Jesus told (we call it the parable of the Final Judgment) also stresses the social dimension of holiness: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting prisoners and welcoming strangers.

A young man felt sullen and downcast and went into a church looking for God to enlighten him. He bowed his head and prayed. An elderly lady in the church thinking he was hungry, offered him $10 to buy food. The young man thanked her saying he was not hungry. He left with a refreshed spirit, saying to himself: “The church is not the only place to find God, I can also find Him in people.”

Peace,
Fr. Thanh


January 10, 2021

NEW YEAR AND LOFTY RESOLUTIONS

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

One of the most common things we usually do on New Year’s Day is to set a lofty goal. But it is less common to choose the procedure leading to that goal.

A man went to Greyhound bus station in Wilmington, planning to go to Philadelphia.
He boarded a bus, fastened his seatbelt, sat back and relaxed. Several hours later,
he walked off the bus, only to find himself in Kansas City. His intention concerning
Philadelphia had been very sincere. That was the goal he had in mind. The problem was
that he had boarded the wrong bus and ended up in a place where he did not intend to be.

Something like this continually happens in our human experience. People make plans for one destination but end up somewhere else.

The problem with most of our New Year resolutions is that they are too general. We must break them down into tiny and feasible steps that can be put into action because good intentions alone will not accomplish anything.

For example, if you say to yourself: “This year, I am going to be a better husband and father,” you must start with little things like helping your wife around the kitchen, offering words of appreciation, helping your children with their homework, and being patient when you want to blow your stack.

The good intention of going to Philadelphia will be to no avail, unless you board the right bus that will take you there.

The good news is that putting good intentions into action is almost always a matter of tiny steps which
is within everyone’s reach.

We have been dealing with some of the most critical issues of life:
Where are we going this year and how do we plan to get there?

May God continue to bless all of you and your loved ones during
this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.

Peace,
Fr. Thanh


January 3, 2021

EPIPHANY AND THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

God’s Christmas gift, Jesus Incarnated, could not be confined within the limits of one nation. These visitors from the East, the Magi, are some of the mystery characters of the New Testament. Bringing gifts along with them, these astrologers are studying the stars and set out in search of a newborn king in Judea.

According to a catholic legend, not supported by the Scripture, the names of the magi are: Casper: young, ruddy and beardless; Melchior: old, white-haired and bearded; and Balthasar: black-skinned and thickly bearded.

As we are celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, a day in which God manifests himself to all people, let us take a brief look at how the gifts of the magi to Jesus can still make a difference in our lives.

Recently, I heard a quip—a clever and witty remark, often sarcastic—from a woman:

   “Only WISE MEN would go shopping for baby gifts and return with gold and perfume!
    A group of WISE WOMEN would have brought diapers and blankets and baby food.”

I think, either from WISE MEN or WISE WOMEN, their gifts to the Baby of Bethlehem have their own values and elements of wisdom.

  • The gifts of the WISE WOMEN could have immediately helped Baby Jesus to deal with the cold weather in Bethlehem.
    and
  • The gifts of the MAGI might have contributed to the financial support of the Holy Family until they could return to the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.

But the really important thing is not what the receiving of the gifts meant to Jesus, but the giving of them meant to the MAGI and WISE WOMEN.

This is always the primary impact of a gift, not on the receiver, but on the giver. We need to learn that lesson. A wise person surely knows that he/she must get in order to give, but the main flow from his/her life is outward, not inward.His/her primary purpose is not to get, but to give; and this is an element of true wisdom.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Peace,
Fr. Thanh


December 27, 2020

FAMILY GRACE

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a feast that we can easily relate to or be associated with.

My 26 years of priestly ministry to the church has brought me into contact with all kinds of families.

They have varied in size—some large, some small.
They have varied in structure—most have 2 parents, some are single-parent.
They have varied according to race—white, black, Asian, or Hispanic.
The families I have known came from all kinds of economic conditions:
A few have been rich, some poor and most have adequate means.
But all the families I have met had at least one thing in common—problems.

In addition to the lack of communication, one of the main sources of family problems is the blame game.

It has never known to solve a single problem. But it does create a few.
The worst thing is that it drives a wedge between people who need to be, should be and could be friends.
We would still have problems. But as long as we remained friends, we could work through them together.

And if you stick together, you can come out the other side more of a family than you have ever been.

A family had a special guest coming for dinner, and the 6-year-old son had been briefed to be on his very best behavior. As everyone sat own at the table, the boy reached for a roll and accidentally knocked over his glass, spilling water all over the table. He froze in terror—he knew he was going to be scolded. The boy looked over at his father.  His father looked at him, smiled and knocked over his own water glass. Then, together, they got towels and wiped up the mess.

Do we identify with people when they make mistakes?  Are we compassionate enough?

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


December 20, 2020

ADVENT: KEEPING US FROM RUSHING INTO CHRISTMAS

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Our Advent season is almost coming to an end. This is a critical time in our preparation, not only external, but also spiritual, for the coming of the Lord at Christmas.

Our external preparation, such as setting up the Christmas tree, writing cards to friends or buying gifts for relatives and co-workers, is the most obvious belief in the coming of Christ.  But our spiritual preparation, with focused prayers, spiritual alertness and personal piety, is the most important preparation that we all need in the final week of of this season of grace.

We live in a highly commercialized society and Christmas is probably the busiest season of the whole year.  It is very easy for us to be drawn into this hectic pace of consumerism that may rob us of the joy and peace that we look for at Christmas.  To combat this malaise, we need to use the final week of Advent season as a time to adequately prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

Be watchful and stay awake!

This is a common thread in the teachings of many great teachers in the world such as Confucius, Socrates, Buddha and Jesus.  This ”art of constant awareness” will help us to stay focused on the spiritual aspect of Christmas rather than being lost in the noises of the highly commercialized season. We don’t have to stop our daily tasks or change our work routine in order to focus on the meaning of Christmas during the season of Advent.

To experience the coming of Christ in the doing of our daily work depends not so much on the nature of the work as on the attitude of the worker.  If the heart is right and the mind is expectant, we will find him in many places, even in the midst of the joy and sorrow of our daily lives.

God bless,

Fr. Thanh


December 13, 2020

ADVENT: AN EXERCISE OF AWARENESS

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

I grew up in Vietnam where Zen Buddhism was a major religion. In fact, 75% of the Vietnamese population was Buddhist. Being immersed in such a religious environment, I had the opportunity to see the meeting of minds between Buddha, the founder of Buddhism and Jesus, the founder of Christianity.

One striking similarity between the two religions is the concept of awareness.

Awareness is an important aspect of Buddha’s teachings and it is also a requirement for any Buddhist student to be elevated to the rank of Zen master.

One day, after 10 years of study of Buddhist theology, a student asked his old and enlightened Zen master to elevate him to the rank of Zen master. 

The old Buddhist monk agreed and asked his student to come to the temple the following day for a small test. It was raining when the student arrived at the temple. He removed his shoes and left his umbrella at the front door before entering the temple to see his Zen master who was meditating in front of a Buddha’s altar. 

The old Zen master asked his student, “Where did you put your umbrella, on the left or on the right side of your shoes?” 

The student could not tell his master exactly where he put his umbrella. He failed the simple test of constant awareness. He spent 10 more years of study and practice before mastering the art of constant awareness to become a Zen master.

In the New Testament, Jesus constantly called on his disciples to be vigilant, on-guard, alert, awake and watchful. As for us, this Advent season is also a time to exercise our awareness of his coming. He will come, not in the noisy commercialized shopping season, but in the quietness of a burgeoning flower and in the stillness of a sleeping baby. Only those whose hearts are expectant can catch a glimpse of him this season.

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


December 6, 2020

ADVENT: A TIME FOR WATCHING

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

The season of Advent is all about watching in waitingI venture to say that we all despise waiting.  

    • We do not like waiting in line at the airport or at the grocery checkout counters.
    • We honk our car horns impatiently as we wait in slow traffic.
    • We stare at the clock every other minute waiting for the result of a loved one’s surgery.

But when it comes to matters of the soul, we need to remember that the waiting itself is a necessary part of the journey.

Like the building excitement as you look forward to a big summer vacation, waiting for God allows our spirit to become more sensitive, our souls stronger and our minds more alert.

One day, a monk asked:

“Abbot, what has God’s wisdom taught you?  Did you become divine?”
“Not at all.”
“Did you become a saint?”
“No, as you can clearly see.”
“What then, O Abbot?”
“I became awake.”

Watching in waiting allows us to be more sensitive to the coming of the Lord, to slow down the Christmas rush and to call us beyond the noisy commercialization and hurry that robs so many of us of the joy and peace we seek at Christmas.

Thus, Advent is a season for great expectations.
It is a special time for being spiritually alert.

If our heart is right and our mind expectant, we will experience
that the coming of Christ is indeed “the reason for the season.

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


November 29, 2020

ADVENT: WHY WAIT?

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ, 

You don’t have to be an economist to know that the stock market is up and the economy has recovered after the Presidential Election and the coronavirus vaccine perhaps will be available at the end of the year or early Spring.

With this new enthusiasm, consumers are more confident in their spending, especially during this highly commercialized shopping season.

Needless to say, we live in a culture of instant gratification.  Belk’s advertisement at the Independence Mall in Wilmington convinces us to buy that perfect gift before it is sold out: Don’t wait. Buy now while supplies last!

This is the Advent season, a time to wait.

Advent keeps us from rushing into Christmas without preparation of the heart and soul.
Advent allows us to savor the moments of mystery of the
Incarnation of the Son of God.
When the culture says, “Now,” Advent says, “Not yet.”

Why wait?

Waiting during Advent is a discipline that God wants us to use to build our character.

  • How many of you who are parents teach your children to wait for the right person to date and marry rather than just take whoever is around at the end of High School?
  • Do parents delight in the frustration of the child’s desire for instant gratification? The answer is obvious:  No.
  • Wise parents know that their child’s life is headed for disaster if that child grows up without learning to delay instant gratification for the greater long-term good.

Waiting during Advent also allows us to notice the small beginnings of God’s coming. 
The coming of God is not announced with loud clarinets and tambourines.
God comes like a tender new shoot and as vulnerable as a tiny baby.

Peace,

Fr. Thanh 


November 22, 2020

THE YEAR’S END: A BACKWARD LOOK

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, also known as Our Lord, Jesus Christ King of the Universe Sunday.

To bring the liturgical year to an end, the Church invites you and me to direct our attention to Jesus who is the center of the universe, and to also reflect on our spiritual journey.

We have journeyed throughout this whole year, trying to find God and to maintain a close connectedness with the Lord.

BUT HAVE WE REALLY FOUND HIM?

Not a remote and vague God, but an intimate and living God!

Is there any feasible way that will help you and me find God?

The Gospel reading for today suggests to us the best way to find God. There, at Calvary, we met 5 different types of people:

      1.  The Jewish people in general.
      2.  The Jewish leaders.
      3.  The Roman soldiers.
      4.  The thief on the left side of the cross.
      5.  The thief on the right side of the cross.

Among the 5 diverse people, only one type really found God. The other 4 did not.

Let us see how he did it!

It was the 5th and only different one who had really found God. He did not go along with the crowd, but he courageously declared that Jesus was innocent. The secret of the penitent thief who had found God lies in the fact that he loved people.  

We can ask God to help us to love others. Loving people is the way to lead us to God.

God is waiting to be found behind suffering people–and through them–we will surely find him.

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


November 15, 2020

UNBOUND: A LAY SPONSORSHIP MINISTRY

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ, 

The Church is a multi-dimensional institution that exists to continue to carry the mission of Jesus to us. At the Ascension, Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the Good News to all nations on earth. There is a special group of preachers who do just that, mostly in rural settings—the Glenmary Home Missioners, who serve in rural Southern United States where Catholics are a minority.

This weekend—November 14-15, 2020—we welcome Father Frank Ruff who is with

us to celebrate Masses and tell us about the work of Unbound, a lay Catholic sponsorship ministry that helps children and the elderly in 19 developing countries. Fr. Ruff, a member of the Glenmary Home Missioners, resides in Trenton, Kentucky and has faculties in the Owensboro, Kentucky Diocese.

Long active in ecumenical relations between Catholics and evangelicals, Fr. Ruff was a field representative for the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs to the Southern Baptist Convention. He has served as Vocation Director, fundraiser, director of the program to start mission churches with lay pastoral ministers, and President of Glenmary.

Father Ruff enjoys gardening, canning vegetables, and raising animals. He continues to serve on the Glenmary Ecumenical Commission.

I am sure Father Ruff’s pastoral experience will bring a different life perspective of the Church to our parish and enlighten our minds and hearts to reach out in love to the children and elderly in developing countries.

May God continue to bless you and your families, especially during this uncertain and challenging time.

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


November 8, 2020

WILL YOU COME TO CHURCH AGAIN?

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

Needless to say, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a big dent in Sunday Mass attendance in the United States and throughout the world. This is understandable due to the fear of the virus and the overexposure of the media on the matter of sickness and death.

In addition to the pandemic, more and more people are their spending Sundays on family activities, sporting events, travel, and work. This decline in church attendance does not indicate a decline of interest in religion. In fact, many people are deeply committed to their religious faith. They simply see no need for church and the sacraments. Many take pride in the fact that their spiritual life is a deeply personal matter rather than an institutional thing.

They believe God can be known and worshipped without the benefit of clergy or sacraments or their faith community.

A pastor in a small parish heard that one of his parishioners was announcing he would no longer attend Sunday Mass. His rebellious parishioner was using the familiar argument that he could communicate just as easily with God in the natural setting of the fields as in his place of worship.

One winter evening, the pastor called on this reluctant member of his flock for a friendly visit. The two men sat before the fireplace making small talk but studiously avoiding the issue of church attendance.  

After some time, the pastor took the tongs from the rack next to the fireplace and pulled a single piece of coal from the fire. He placed the glowing ember on the hearth. The two men watched as the coal quickly ceased burning and turned an ashen gray while the other coals in the fire continued to burn brightly. The pastor remained silent.

The parishioner said, ”Father, I will go back to Mass next Sunday.”

The church is no cloak for a godless life, but it surely is a buttress for a godly life, protecting us from self-centeredness and self-deception.

God bless,

Fr. Thanh


November 1, 2020

SAINTS: THE WAY THEY LIVED!

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

This Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints—not the feast day of one particular saint such as St. Luke (feast day: October 18) or a group of saints such as St. Paul Miki and his martyred companions (feast day: February 6)—but all of the saints we celebrate throughout the liturgical year.

Once a year, on the first day of November, we pause and honor all these holy men, women, and children who stand for the best in the Christian faith.

Two important aspects (among others, of course!) that we need to pay attention to concerning the saints:

  • What makes these people saints is not the way they died, but the way they lived. They  are living proof of faith because they showed the world what it really means to be a Christian and how the Christian lifestyle can make a difference in every area of our personal and social environment.
  • The Church canonized those exemplary men, women, and children, not because of their intelligence (St. Thomas Aquinas, for instance) or wealth (St. Hedwig, Queen of Silesia in Poland), but because of their holiness. 

Again, the holiness of the saints consists of two dimensions:

  • The vertical dimensionan intimate relationship with God they constantly maintained through prayers and personal piety.
  • The horizontal dimensiona close connectedness with their fellow humans they also maintained through services and relationships. In a sense, they were not people who set themselves apart from the world, but they engaged” and were active people who may often have marched to the beat of a different drummer by living out the Gospel’s values.

As we come to church to honor all the saints on this occasion, we are reminded we are sons and daughters of those courageous and holy fathers and mothers who challenge us to continue to build the kingdom of God upon the solid foundation they themselves laid for us.

Could you and I one day be counted among the saints?

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


October 25, 2020

MORE FAITH: HOW TO GET IT?

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. That seemed to be a reasonable request. It was something Jesus would be willing and eager to do. But I am wondering exactly what the disciples expected Jesus to do.

Maybe they thought Jesus possessed some kind of magic formula for multiplying faith?

If this is what they had in mind, they would have been very disappointed! Faith is a fundamental part of our lives. We all have it, we all use it, and we all need more of it. We get stronger faith the same way we get stronger muscles—through proper nourishment and exercise.  

In other words, the only way for us to get more faith is by using what we already have: “Mustard-seed faith” is what Jesus talked about when the apostles asked him to increase their faith.

Jesus told them that it is not a question of more or less faith, but how you live with the little faith you have.

If you and I feel the need of a greater faith, this is the way to get it: We must take the faith we have and put it to work. Start doing things with it. Faith is not really faith until we act upon it.  

Some years ago, all major TV networks told a story about a Bangladesh banker named Mohammed Yunus who received the Nobel Peace Prize. His bank has a very unusual policy: It loans money only to poor people who have no collateral. His typical customer is a rural woman, and his typical loan is $100—a lot of money in Bangladesh. These women have used their loans to start businesses and hire workers. And 97% of them have paid him back. Do not tell Mr. Yunus that nothing can be done about poverty. He knows otherwise.

It all started with a basic belief in the abilities and honesty of the poor people of his region.

He decided to put that faith to work.

That is the way, the only way, that you and I can increase our faith.We must put it to work!

Peace,

Fr. Thanh


October 18, 2020

GENEROSITY AS A CHRISTIAN VIRTUE

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

One of the few virtues that the Bible extols is the virtue of generosity.

The apostle Paul believed that generosity was an important aspect of true Christian living.

If not, he would not have mentioned it in the closing advice of his letter to the Hebrews.

Why is generosity so important as a Christian virtue?   

Simply because:

  • Generosity is an indication that a person is free of the sin of covetousness.  People who covet wealth are not in the habit of giving generously to others.
  • Generosity is a sign of impartiality. We are generous to those people whom we think deserve to be helped. People who look down their noses at the poor and the destitute are not likely to be generous toward them.
  • Generosity is a reflection of the love of God. God is generous in his love, offering it to those who do not deserve it and cannot return it in kind.

Another important aspect of generosity is “giving roses to people while they are still living” as this little story cleverly points out.

“Why is it,” said a wealthy businessman to his minister, “that people call me stingy when everyone knows that when I die, I’m leaving everything to the church?”

 “Let me tell you a story about the pig and the cow,” said the minister.

The pig was unpopular while the cow was beloved. This puzzled the pig.  

‘People speak warmly of your gentle nature and your sorrowful eyes,’ the pig said 

to the cow. ‘They think that you are generous because each day you give them milk and cream. But what about me? I give them everything I have. I give bacon and ham. I provide bristles for brushes. They even pickle my feet! Yet no one likes me. Why is that?’”

“Do you know what the cow answered?” said the minister to the wealthy businessman.

“The cow said, ‘Perhaps it is because I give while I’m still living.’”

 Peace,

Fr. Thanh


October 11, 2020

ALL SOULS: BELIEVING IN LIFE BEFORE DEATH

Dear parishioners and friends in Christ,

On Monday, November 2, 2020, we will be celebrating the Feast of All Souls at the9:00 a.m. Mass. It is indeed a special day in the liturgical year dedicated for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

It is a time when we remember, in a special way, those of our family members and friends who have “died in the Lord.”

The commemoration of the dead (All Souls) is rooted in ancient Christian tradition from around the 2nd century A.D. Saint Odilo of Cluny established a memorialof all the faithful departed in 988 and it was accepted in Rome in the 13th century.

All Souls is the time to capture the full meaning of resurrection.

       Resurrection means freedom from death.

  • Freedom from physical death is the most obvious implication of our belief in the resurrection.
  • But freedom from spiritual death is the most important implication of believing in the resurrection.

We die spiritually whenever selfishness gains the upper hand over generosity, whenever lust overpowers the ties of love, whenever despair crowds out the light of hope. By the same token, we come back to life spiritually whenever we overflow with generosity, whenever we reach out in love and whenever we are lifted on the wings of hope.

If you would like your deceased loved ones to be remembered in all the Masses celebrated throughout the month of November, please fill out the All Souls envelopes with the names of your deceased loved ones and place them in the Sunday offertory baskets or simply return them to the Parish Office.

As a remembrance, these All Souls Mass intentions envelopes will be left at the altar during the entire month of November.

May all the faithful departed rest in the peace of the Resurrected Christ.

God bless,

 Father Thanh