ASCENSION AND PENTECOST SUNDAYS…

This past weekend we celebrated the Ascension of Jesus, and this coming Sunday we will celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

In the Gospel for this past Sunday Jesus is taken up to his Father in heaven. Be careful not to read the Ascension along essentially Enlightenment lines. Enlightenment thinkers (think French Revolution emancipating man from God) introduced a two-tier understanding of heaven and earth. They held that God exists, but that he lives in a distant realm called heaven, where he looks at the humanity moving along, pretty much on its own steam, here on earth (Think of a watch maker who creates the watch and then just leaves it to run).

On this Enlightenment reading, the Ascension means that Jesus goes up, up, and away, off to a distant and irrelevant place just merely looking down, but not engaging much with our affairs.

It is important to remember – at the Ascension – Jesus speaks of sending the Holy Spirit, which is a game changer. Jesus has not gone up, up, and away, but rather—by the gift of the Holy Spirit—becomes a more intimate and powerful presence in each soul of each person that freely receives and accepts this Divine Presence and guide.

This is the power of the Ascension and Pentecost. The sending of the Holy Spirit makes present in “each soul of the Baptized” – The Kingdom – The Presence – The activity and vibrant life of The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

At the Ascension, for all who believe, Jesus desires to raise our humanity in His Divinity, as He opens the gates of Heaven. And Pentecost is a reminder that our Lord is working daily within each believer who freely invites the Holy Spirit to renew and restore and inform us of the beauty and truth of our bodies and temples.

Each day ask the Holy Spirit…”For an increase in the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity (Love).

Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever…Fr. Vic

Fifth Sunday of Easter

As our group leaves for the Holy Land may we be reminded of Pentecost, and the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit that has given wisdom to many over the ages to proclaim the truth about Almighty God, & the beauty and truth about His bride…well, that would us.

First I will share this from Bishop Barron…In the Gospel for this Monday (5th Week) Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to inspire, strengthen, and defend his followers. Speaking to his disciples the night before he dies, Jesus tells them that he and his Father will send another Parakletos. The word, from kaleo (to call) and para (for, or on behalf of) designates something like an advocate or a lawyer, someone who would plead on behalf of another, offering support and encouragement.

Jesus will depart physically from the scene, but he and his Father will send the Spirit as a friend. This is the supporter, the Advocate who will inspire Christians up and down the ages.

When the martyrs went to their deaths, it was with the help of the Holy Spirit; when the missionaries went to proclaim the faith in hostile lands, it was the Holy Spirit who pleaded on their behalf; when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, it was the Holy Spirit who lifted him up; and when Thomas Aquinas wrote his theological masterpieces, it was at the prompting of the Advocate.

What is the Advocate prompting you to do today?

With that said, we sorely need this gift today as we articulate how we come to know the truth about the reality that surrounds us, and the truth of who we are as human-beings.

C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man…

“For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.”

As we see all around us, every developed society now continues headlong in its attempts to reshape reality rather than to understand or conform to it. One of the most revolutionary statements one could make today is: “Things are a certain way, and we would do well to accept them.” Because there are some things we cannot change, things that are so deep in us as to constitute our very being. But since we have given up on studying being, we have forgotten this.

May we again seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, giver of true reality, goodness, & truth.

Pax Christi – Fr. Vic G

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Friends, our Gospel reading today is extremely short, but it is packed with theological and spiritual significance. We hear first of a voice: “My sheep hear my voice . . .” How wonderful and strange that Christianity is not a set of ideas. It’s not a philosophy or an ideology. It’s a relationship with someone who has a voice. The first disciples were privileged to hear the voice of the historical Jesus, its very particular tonality and texture.

But we hear his voice too, in our own way, when we hear the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass. Mind you, we don’t just read the Bible; we hear the Bible. We hear the voice of Jesus too when the bishops and the popes speak.

We can hear the voice of Jesus in good spiritual friends as well, in those people who comfort us and challenge us and keep calling us to higher ideals and encourage us when we fall. We listen to Jesus because he is leading us to a renewed and transformed life on high with God.  ~Bishop Barron

Third Sunday of Easter

Our faith is about developing good habits that draw us closer to our Lord. I was reflecting on how the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and spending more time in Eucharistic Adoration are all leading me to habits and behaviors more consistent to a more balanced and fulfilled life in Christ.

“Just as two friends, frequently in each other’s company, tend to develop similar habits,’ John Paul wrote, ‘so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them.” (TOM HOOPES – The Rosary of Saint John Paul II)

Blessings…Fr. Vic

Second Sunday of Easter

This is why I love our faith…Darkness and anguish are temporary and can lead to a good ~

In the world of College Basketball – Virginia last year was the 1st #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed…Humiliation indeed. With a purpose & great coach they accomplished something amazing.

… And Texas Tech has an excellent coach and he will teach these kids something from this disappointment…He has built something exceptional there and they will be successful as well. These kids overachieved, and they understand what dedication and work can bring about. In the world we might not all be #1, but #2 is still success.

I remember always being on teams where I didn’t get a trophy. Even played in a finals in a basketball league where we lost and only the winners got a trophy. I never got a trophy, but it taught me to push forward, persevere, and to work. Failure led me to not give up and I received the greatest trophy. Priesthood…I never dreamed this would be possible. This is like having a trophy.

Never lose faith because God always has a plan…Fr. Vic

Palm Sunday

-It’s dark…No Resurrection yet…Just dysfunction and sin.
-Look at problems in the world today…Seems to be much confusion & darkness.

-Each year we read Luke’s Passion narrative…
-What detail draws your attention?

-I’m reflecting on Jesus looking at Peter after his 3 denials…
-What was Peter thinking after his fall while he looked into the eyes of his Lord?

-Jesus will later offer Peter the grace, to offer his heart to Jesus… 3x.
-He gives Peter a Remedy…The Keys, Authority, Grace & Forgiveness.

-God gives us through our Jewish elders a remedy…Jesus Christ.
-When you see the cross…Your problems…Trials…Tribulations….
-Remember they are temporary & followed by grace & resurrection.
-2nd chances & forgiveness…Peters denials to confessions of love.

-If we are patient & faithful…What might Jesus give to you after your passion…your Storm…Amidst your confusion…Your Darkness.

-What does Jesus offer the world?…Purpose & clarity of who we are & where we are going.

For me, I am reminded of 2nd chances & remedies after a fall…Same as Peter.

The Lord be with You…Father Vic

Fifth Sunday In Lent

 (The Woman Caught in Adultery)

-We always talk about forgiving others as our Lord forgives us…But do we remember to forgive ourselves? How do we deal with past sins?…That one sin or memory of failure that we allow to haunt us.

On this final Sunday before Holy Week, Christ looks at us as he looks at the woman caught in adultery, for we need the forgiveness of our sins. The question is: How do we LOOK back at Christ? With the self-righteous, yet guilty eyes of the mob?…. Or like the woman who remains alone before Jesus, who accepts with humble confidence the sentence of Christ who says: “Neither do I condemn you”.

-Again I ask…How do we look back when Jesus looks upon us with compassion?
-Do we Run away & hide in Shame?…Or do we just ignore Jesus in our righteous anger & continue in our life of futility & frustration apart from forgiveness?

The woman gives us the answer…She takes Jesus at His word…She believes Him…She then moves forward with her life by listening to Jesus’ advice…To get out of her present mess (adultery) & then move forward knowing she is forgiven.

And we read the Psalm…”Jesus does great things for us.” What is a greater gift than to have the authority & power to forgive our sins.

In the second reading St. Paul gives us an important tool to finding true
forgiveness of self…For the Apostle says…
“…Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead…”
-We cannot be held in the past by our previous sins & failures.

-Quit confessing sins you’ve already confessed.
-A sure sign that we have not forgiven ourselves for past transgressions is when we dredge up past acts that we have previously brought to confession.

-True forgiveness of self means we don’t deny history, but stop living in it…We don’t deny it exist, we don’t whitewash or alter it…Why, because it allows us to see where we’ve been…To learn from our mistakes & through the Power of Forgiveness…Leads us to a deeper appreciation of what the Lord Jesus has done for us…Leading to a deeper Joy & Love of God.

-The Sacrament of Confession reminds us that our past history is blotted out,
annihilated & We need this Sacramental Grace so we can LET GO OF THE PAST.
-Our Lord wants us to be a people not held captive by the past, but a people of HOPE BECAUSE WE LIVE WITH CHRIST IN THE PRESENT.

-May we follow the example of the woman caught in adultery…ITS DONE… you’re forgiven…Seek to get out of your present situation, so you can MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE…FOR I HAVE A FUTURE FOR YOU.

Fourth Sunday In Lent

THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON

I love the depth and various layers of Sacred Scripture…From a literal reading to addressing the spiritual meaning of a text. Thus, for those of you who heard my simple homily on the Prodigal Son…I now offer, from a friend, (Dynamic Catholic’s, Dr. Allen Hunt’s) message for this same parable…Enjoy and be blessed…Fr. Vic

“I don’t know about you, but today’s reading—this is my favorite chapter of the Bible. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 15. First you get the parable of the lost sheep, where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go find the one that’s lost. Then you get the lost coin, where the woman goes in search of the one coin—she had ten, but there were only nine—and she goes to search high and low until she finds that one.

And then you get this powerful reading, which is our focus in the Gospel of the Fourth Sunday of Lent. The parable of the lost son. The parable of the prodigal son, who goes to his dad—you remember the story—the younger son goes to his dad and asks for his share of the inheritance. And he takes the money, takes the cash, and he runs away to some faraway place, maybe he goes to Vegas and he squanders it, and he gets a job—he’s so desperate—feeding pigs, which, for a first-century Jew, is the lowest imaginable job. And one day he comes to his senses and says, “I’m gonna go home.”

And you get these powerful words that Luke says in the reading today when he writes: “While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

That’s the love of God. Reckless, unbelievable in the truest sense of the word—we overuse that word, unbelievable, but it’s true. The love of God is so rich, so boundless, and so reckless. Do you believe it? I mean, what kind of love is this?

I call this “the Sacred Heart chapter” because it describes the heart of God that’s just bursting for you. Longing for you. God pursues you. How’s he pursuing you right now? And is there anything keeping you from coming home? What’s preventing you from coming home to him?

I don’t know how you read this chapter, but when I look at the three men in this, the father, the older son, and the younger son, I have to admit that I see myself in each of them, particularly at different times in my life.

Take the prodigal son. There have certainly been times in my life when I ran as far away from God and from greatness and from sanity as you can possibly get. And, when I’m honest, I would admit I still do it now and then today.

The father—becoming a parent, becoming a mom or a dad or a grandparent—it changes you. The love just bursts through when your daughter or your grandson decides to come home—when they return from a place that you wish they had never gone in the first place, but when they come home, you are more than delighted to welcome them back into the family.

And then there’s the older son. This is the part of me that I really would like to resist, but when I’m honest, I know it’s there. I see somebody else who makes bad decisions or hurts family or disappoints friends, and yet they are welcomed home. They even experience forgiveness and mercy. And I want to go, “Whoa, can we slow down this mercy train just a little bit? I’m not so sure they deserve it.” That’s the part of me I’m really not that crazy about. I really like unconditional love when it applies to me, but sometimes I’m not so crazy about it when it applies to other people—as if somehow some of us really deserve it.

None of us really deserve to be welcomed home, but it’s not about us. It’s all about him—the father, who sees from a distance, who runs to us, embraces us, welcomes us, kisses us, and throws the party. It’s all about him—the father, whose heart bursts with love for you and for me. This parable, it’s all about him.”…Dr. Hunt

Third Sunday in Lent

I was praying on what to write about for the next Pastor’ Corner. I had three or so personal entries to choose from and then the Lord plopped this one right into my lap. It’s simple but powerful and comes from the 17th Day of the Dynamic Catholic online Lenten 3 minute video series. This video transcript from George Josten, an employee with Dynamic Catholic, offers a personal story that relates to Matthew Kelly’s message…”Tiny but Mighty.”

George Josten…
A few years ago, we had our priest over for dinner and I remember asking him, “What can we do to make the world a better place?”

There’s so much suffering, strife, and violence in the world. Quite honestly, my wife and I wrestle with it often. After all, what can we do to make the world a better place when we’re consumed as spouses and parents of four, nearly five, children?

I will never forget the former Marine helicopter pilot, and now priest’s, response. He said, “George, your battle’s right here in this very house. If you want to make the world a better place, you got to win the war for your family.”

I was taken aback by that response. The way my wife and I can make the world a better place is by leading our children in the way of the Lord. Can you imagine what the world will look like if we each focus on making our families the-best-versions-of-themselves? It’s a big, transcendent cause, much bigger than ourselves. My wife and I believe it’s a game-changer.

So, how can you make the world a better place?

Now that message is simple, and a game changer…It starts with you and me. Take it each day at a time, and do the simple things, to the best of your ability, out of love for God. Do it one day at a time. That is what allowed St. Terese of Lisieux to become a Saint…

Pax Father Vic Gournas

You can watch both messages by going to this link…
https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-lent-ever/lenten-reflections-2019/tiny-but-mighty?utm_source=marketo&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=best%20lent%20ever&utm_content=0325%20day%2017%20video%20still&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWm1Ga01tUmlaVGd4WWpCaSIsInQiOiJBcSt4YTFCelhBSDJaM3N6d2hMWjZnVmE2SFwvazBrZ3BuUkQwb3kycjlPQlFsWFlNUXRMT1lXMFwvSTh6T3kxdnFnUW1LSnRcL1dza01YWmpXN25pWW5aTFplWVZNQWxqK0gweG95K2pDWmdFc25tTXNJQUVCdlExeWJKeTFoOTVNWiJ9

Ash Wednesday March 6, 2019

AshWed…WHY ARE WE HERE?

-Becoming most attended liturgy…Catholics, Non-Catholics receive…I have read about Drive thru Ashes…Ashes given In Airports…Ashes donned on TV.

-We crave the spiritual…Even as the west continues to move away from traditional Christianity…Ash Wed. reminds us that we are spiritual & desire to connect to someone greater than ourselves…

-This is what people crave…even amidst a world saying we’re not spiritual…If this were true…Ash Wed. would be just another day…People are frustrated because they find Seeking the material/visible is not enough…it leaves them longing for something more…

-Ashes remind us of our mortality, but we are reminded & connected to our eternal nature which has no end…Eternal as we are connected through penance to Almighty God…This is the truth that ultimately satisfies beyond just accumulating the stuff…

-& Fasting, Almsgiving, Prayer…helps us to connect to God’s Divine Grace…
REPENTANCE…Abstinence…& Rending our hearts open us to being filled by the Lord, the Word, who created us & gives meaning & purpose to our lives.

“St. Augustine was right: “Lord, you have made us for yourself; therefore, our heart is restless until it rests in thee.” We are all wired for God. There is a hunger in us that nothing in this world can possibly satisfy. Only Jesus can lead us to the heavenly banquet; and that’s why we must follow him.”

Blessings,
Fr. Vic