Reflections

Something Extraordinary

I came into the church sixteen years ago during a deep personal crisis. I had been an atheist my entire life. My mother says that at the age of five, after playing all day with my little friend who was learning the catechism, I marched into the kitchen and announced, “I don’t believe in God. He is mean!”  Then, I found myself attending daily Mass, spending time in church praying and reading Scripture.  The Liturgy of the Mass, the calm and focused rituals, and my growing awareness of the Divine Presence became a new home for me. I prayed for God’s mercy and found it in abundance. I longed to receive the Eucharist with all my heart. I ached for it. But, I had never been baptized.  A visiting priest, Father Gabriel, intervened and steered me into RCIA. I was baptized, confirmed and received Holy Communion at Easter Vigil. Since that time I have become an EM– Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Every time I exercise this humbling privilege I am filled with extraordinary gratitude.

by Nathaniel

Joy of Surrender

I met Jesus at a crossroads in my life in the Garden of Gethsemane through a prayer of letting go.  I was reading Matthew 26:36-46 and praying that God’s will be done in my life, not as I will it. Up to this point, I only prayed to God to do something for me, to help me out. I asked Christ to walk with me, in the still moments, the silent moments, as well as the hustle and bustle moments. I asked Him to take my will into His and through His refiners fire, shape it into my Father’s will. It was a hard prayer for me to pray, to surrender but it freed me from an over dominate obsession to be a mother, to have a child. I was forty-seven years old, that wasn’t going to happen. I came to know Jesus that moment as I sat in the garden with Him. I felt His compassion, His overarching Love, and I truly felt released from the bonds of obsessive longing. I was free! The next month, I conceived, and surrendered forever.

by Gracie

Joy of Giving

I read a wonderful book, The Good and Beautiful God by James B. Smith.  When I arrived at the chapter titled “ God is Generous,” I stopped to thank God for all the blessings in my life. Then the challenge came. How do I continually live from a place of generosity and not a place of scarcity? Living from a place of scarcity says there isn’t enough to go around and questioning why God calls us to give. We find that a life of generosity is a life of deep joy. The author shares that “God is generous because he lives in a condition of abundance, his provisions can never be exhausted”. The sun is up, I am breathing in and out. That’s generous. “The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having or getting anything but only in giving.” Henry Drummond

by Cathy

Yearning To Belong

Did you ever sit alone on a crowded playground or classroom and feel like you don’t belong?That yearning and desire to belong to a group is our human longing to connect. It starts with family, continues in the work place, in social circles, in church. Desire to belong  binds us together as human beings living in this spiritual world.  I have found it takes time to discern what belonging really means, like where I came from since I was adopted, what group in school I was going to hang out with, what work ladder I would climb and prove myself. I can also take myself out of that belonging if it is not good or healthy for me.  The one true connection for me is belonging to God. That innate distinction, once experienced, brings a belonging and a longing that will never go away in my soul. Everything falls into place once I rest in that knowing and feel the security of belonging to God.

by Liz

 

A Mystical Manifestation

There’s a doctor of science who finds peace by a running stream away from the rigors of the laboratory.  There’s a teacher who meditates to the sound of Chopin away from the struggles of students.  There’s a laborer working at the Red Cross on his day off. These folks have found a sanctuary in which their spirits can grow,  a sanctuary not found in the day-to-day growth they toil at in order to survive.  Every day there is an open invitation to celebrate mass. There is a promise that you will enter a sanctuary and encounter three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It’s a mystical manifestation and we’re all invited. No matter how we seek refuge from the world, we must find a sanctuary. We must find a place to liberate our soul. Where do we go to free our spirit? If we search in vain for our sanctuary then we should change the path we’re on. It’s closer than we can imagine. Our sanctuary is not in the search; it’s in the Savior.

by Diego

Remembering the Old Prayers

As an eight year old boy attending Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in Long Beach, I would ride my bike in the morning dark the two miles to serve as an altar boy at the 6:30 weekday mass. Ours was the last class to learn the Latin mass and my memorization of the Confiteor (the “I confess” prayer) was haphazard at best.  Entering the sacristy to don my cassock, old Father Daily would quietly nod at me while smoking a cigarette and reading the sports page.  He had some patience with us boys as we sleepily fumbled over the Latin rite kneeling on the cool stone floor, offering him cruets of water and wine. Sister Miguel would feed us small boxes of cereal and milk after mass since we had left home fasting for the Eucharist. She would finger the large black beads of the rosary which draped about her corpulent torso while we finished our morning repast.  Like the rosary circling her waist, this church surrounded me, and continues to surround me, with her imperfect and blessed people praying, laughing, and crying our way to heaven.

by Andrew

Invitation to Belong

When I moved to California nine years ago, a top priority for me was to find a parish where I was comfortable.One cannot find a comfortable parish like one can find comfortable shoes.You will have to walk much longer in your faith than you ever will in a pair of flats. So I tried some  on. The cathedral-like church of Basilica San Juan was a beautiful setting for mass, but it didn’t grab me. The priest at another church gave a “fire and brimstone” sermon  leaving me wanting something more positive. I happened upon St. Edward the Confessor quite by chance. Or maybe not? There was no reason for me to go up Calle la Primavera that day but I did and  found the church. I copied down the mass times and the following Sunday experienced a true “aha” moment. Here was this welcoming, joyful community, living Christ’s teachings through dozens of ministries, with uplifting music and “take something away” homilies; this is where I belonged.

by JAM

 

 

Happy Easter! Invitation to Joy

We have completed our 40 days of Lent. We journeyed with Our Lord as He instituted the Holy Eucharist, washed the feet of His disciples, was imprisoned, handed over to Pontius Pilate, was scourged and crucified; we mourned his death on Holy Saturday and today, the Lord is risen from the dead! Now what? As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we may feel that we’ve reached the end. There’s joy, relief, it’s over. Yes, the “strife is over,”as we sung last night at the Easter Vigil, but now a new journey begins as we extend an invitation to 50 Days of Joy, what we call the “Easter Season” of the liturgical year.  From the Resurrection to Pentecost, fifty days, we will continue writing and sharing our daily reflections through text messages and social media to keep us all focused on the deep down joy that flows from the overabundant graces of a new life given to us by Christ glorified. We invite you to sign up or continue following us as we go forward together.

by Fr. Brendan