The Apostles' Column

From the desk of our Pastoral Coordinator

Practical ways to spread the Good News.

This column offers a weekly highlight for all of us, as apostles in the Church, as missionaries within our own parishes and communities. We are all called to spread the Good News, and this column considers practical ways for each of us to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ, and help lead others to do the same.

May 9, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

5/9/2021

The Rosary: A Walk of Love

“If you say the holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path.”

St. Josemaria Escriva

In today’s Gospel (Jn 15:9-17), the discourse at the Last Supper continues. Jesus presents to His apostles (and us) the culmination of His life on earth. It is a very intimate moment during a very solemn time, their last gathering before His Death. He shares with them (and us) the most basic, yet the most important teaching of His ministry: that He loves us as the Father loves Him; and that we must love others in the same way. Love one another as I have loved you. Everything that we are as Christians stems from this commandment of love.

Commandments are not something that we can blow off; they are divine rules; and a genuine love of Jesus necessitates a concerted effort to adhere to those rules. This can be a great challenge; yet it is what God calls each of us to do. So what does His command mean for us here and now? Are we sharing God’s love with others, or are we creating obstacles to His love? What about the parent, spouse or child that isn’t doing things the way we’d like? Or the guy driving at a snail’s pace ahead of us, or the woman speeding past us on the highway? How much resentment do we carry for someone who slighted us years ago? We learn to love by loving, especially in annoying or difficult situations; and the more we love, the better we love. But how do we get there?

Loving people unconditionally is seemingly impossible; but it can be done, even in this life. We all have access to a sure means of helping us grow in charity: the Rosary; and if we all prayed it daily, the world would be a far cry from what it is today. Praying the Rosary is like taking a walk with Mary our Mother, hand in hand, recalling the mysteries of our Faith as she teaches them to us along the way. They are the Mysteries of Love, truths to ponder as we recite the Aves in each decade.

This walk of love is what leads us to Jesus. If we have Him in our heart, the walk (the Rosary) will strengthen our love for Him; if we don’t have Him in our heart, or we are lukewarm, it will spur in us a desire to come to know and love Him, but only if we commit to the walk in the first place. Each Mystery is like a branch laden with fruit, free for the picking. Our job is not only to meditate upon the Mystery itself, as part of the life of Christ; but also to pray for the fruit of the Mystery in our own lives. The fruits are virtues: humility, true love of neighbor, detachment from the world, obedience and wisdom; the grace to forgive others and have contrition for our own sins, purity of heart, courage, patience and perseverance; faith, hope, charity, the grace of a happy death and the intercession of Mary in our lives.

But virtue isn’t the only benefit. Praying the Rosary every day helps us to resist temptation and give us victory over our enemies; it introduces simple discipline into our lives; it helps us to slow down and seek silence and solitude; it becomes a form of intercessory prayer, and our intentions bring grace and mercy for ourselves, those we love and the world at large; it turns us toward God. This encompasses the walk of love….

During the month of May, we should all honor Mary in a special way. Begin the walk of love (the Rosary) if you aren’t already on it. Find 20 minutes a day to fit it in. Years ago I turned off the radio in my car, and I rarely turn it on anymore. Instead, I pray the Rosary whenever I’m driving. It’s a simple way to “make time” for this powerful and fruitful prayer. If you are praying it daily, but it’s become rote, make a point of praying it in a new way: put yourself in the scene with Jesus and Mary. Walk with them, and ponder how you can better imitate their lives; pray for the grace of the fruit of the Mystery, and how you might cultivate it in your own life. And last, if you won’t pray a daily Rosary for yourself, pray it for those you love, especially your children. There is great power and grace in a family Rosary; imagine the benefit for your own family if every Sunday you knelt down together in front of a Crucifix and prayed for God’s glory and your salvation. Don’t go on this walk of love alone; teach your children the way to walk; place their hands in the hands of Mary….

The purpose of the Rosary is to lift our hearts and minds to God in prayer, but it also teaches us how to love others as Jesus loves us. The Mysteries of the life of Christ, given to us by the Blessed Virgin Mary when she gave us the Rosary, are the mysteries of His love; and as mysteries of the Faith, their fullness and grace are inexhaustible.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

May 2, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

5/2/2021

You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

“Real prayer is union with God, a union as vital as that of the vine to the branch.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Today’s Gospel (Jn 15:1-8) is part of the farewell discourse at the Last Supper. But why during the Easter Season are we looking back instead of looking forward towards Pentecost? The answer lies in the Lord’s most intimate statements to His apostles the night before His Crucifixion. He was giving them instruction to prepare them for what lies ahead. This particular portion of the discourse is about the vine and the branches, a foreshadowing of how Jesus and those united to Him form the Church. In it we can better understand Jesus as the true Vine, one that bears fruit for all eternity, giving glory to God the Father. Only through His Death and Resurrection are we able to be united to Him as this new Vine.

The Lord is essentially describing two types of followers in this passage: those branches that are still attached but not bearing fruit, and those branches that are still attached, bearing fruit, but not a bumper crop. So, what is the fruit anyway? And how do we know if we are bearing fruit or not?

Our very lives are the fruit. If we imitate the life of Christ in all we do, our witness to others, our outreach to them, our sharing of the Gospel message, is luscious fruit. This is the fruit of eternal life! If, on the other hand, we don’t put in the effort to live in the imitation of Christ, if our commitment to Him is half-hearted or less, we produce no fruit. Jesus is clear to say that branches not producing fruit are gathered and thrown into the fire. This is simply an analogy of hell–dead branches perish and are destroyed.

Grace: The Sap in the Vine

We are known by our fruits. It was St. Therese of Lisieux who said, “Everything is grace.” This is a simple, yet very profound statement. Grace is like the sap that runs through the veins of the vine and branches–the ‘life-blood’ so to speak. It gives the branch life. If we are not united to Jesus, then we have no sap running through our veins, no life, no fruit. And–news flash–being united to Jesus is not simply about belonging to a parish, sitting in a pew once a week, maybe picking up a Bible on occasion. It’s about a personal relationship with Him, an intimate relationship; a life focused on prayer, service in the Church and community and those around us. If we are truly living this life, we will bear fruit for eternity, and we will be the true disciples of Jesus.

There is a catch, however. Did you know we cannot bear fruit without being fully initiated into the Catholic Church? What does that mean? Well, being fully initiated is essentially a first step to branching out from the vine. Part of the grace of Baptism is that we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit: we are infused with sanctifying grace which enables us to have faith, hope, and charity; to respond to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and to grow into better human beings by living a life of holiness and virtue. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are present to us if we remain in a state of sanctifying grace. But that grace, the sap of the vine, cannot have its full effect in a branch without the second Sacrament of Initiation, Confirmation. The anointing at Confirmation seals and strengthens those gifts received at Baptism; and if we cooperate with the graces and gifts, we grow… we become transformed… we bear fruit.

Bearing Good Fruit

Take time this week for a thorough examination of conscience surrounding the practice of your faith:

  • Are you bearing fruit in your life? The twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are: charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. If you are striving to live out these special qualities and attitudes, then you are bearing fruit.
  • Are you one of those branches that is still attached but not bearing fruit? Perhaps you’ve been Confirmed, but you’ve never understood why that Sacrament has bearing on your life. Have you ever considered your responsibility to the Body of Christ as a Confirmed Catholic? Do you care about your salvation, the salvation of others, the welfare of those around you (family, friends, co-workers) and those in the world at large? Have you avoided (intentionally or not) “growing up” spiritually?
  • Did you miss out on the Sacrament of Confirmation in your youth? If so, please contact me at the parish office. Being Confirmed as an adult is permissible and indeed encouraged. We would love the opportunity to help prepare you to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ. Without this Sacrament, you will never reach your full potential, the person God created you to be. Please don’t put it off any longer.
  • The third Sacrament of Initiation is Holy Eucharist. Receiving Holy Communion increases the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and helps us to overcome any doubt we may have about the workings of the Holy Spirit in us. If you are healthy, able-bodied, and have not been to Mass since the start of the pandemic, consider returning. Ask the Holy Spirit to protect you from harm, trust God, and come back to Mass (weekday or weekend). If it’s been a while, be sure to go to Confession before receiving Communion. Return to a state of grace; revive your branch so that it will begin bearing fruit.

Being a branch on the Vine of Christ is essential for our sanctification and salvation. Each branch has a singular purpose: to bear fruit, solely for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. If we choose to die on the vine, we fail to bear fruit and we have wasted our lives. Abide in Christ, and as you do, watch the fruits emerge in your life. Come, Holy Spirit, come…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

April 25, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

4/25/2021

Change: The Fullness of Our Divine Potential.

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

St. John Henry Newman

This Fourth Sunday of Easter focuses on the Gospel of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-18). It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and a time for us to pray in a special way for our priests and bishops, and all who shepherd the Lord’s flock. Today is a day to reflect also on the meaning of our own vocations, and how we are working to advance the mission of the Church by helping to bring others into the flock. Our very vocations stem from life-giving change…

Many of us are fearful of change, especially when it is unexpected. But without it we simply stagnate and die; and if we fight change we will never reach our full potential, as individuals or as parishes. God’s creation is ever-changing, intentionally. It is change that shapes our lives, hopefully for the better, as we work to become the saints that God wants us to be. Our acceptance or rejection of change affects everything that makes us Catholic: our faith itself; our sense of purpose; our obedience to and reliance on God; our ability to serve in the Church and foster relationships with others.

Many Changes Ahead

In the coming weeks and months, our parishes will be subject to new and exciting changes; if we approach these changes in a positive light, with open minds and hearts, we will be rewarded with new opportunities for bearing witness to the Risen Christ, strengthening the universal Church and building up the Kingdom of God.

Visiting Priests in May

In early May, Fr. Leonardo will be having some minor surgery. He’ll be out of the office for most of the month, returning before Memorial Day weekend. Supply priest availability is very tight, but we must thank the Archdiocese for working diligently to obtain weekend coverage for us. Fr. Tim McKenna and Fr. Bob Camuso will be here for weekend Masses during Fr. Leonardo’s absence. Please keep Fr. Leonardo in your prayers.

New Principal at Queen of Angels School

After four years serving as our school principal, Cody McDonald has accepted a principal position at a Catholic school in the suburbs of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He and his family will be moving this summer. Ceci Kimball, currently the 3rd & 4th grade teacher, has taken on additional administrative responsibility this past year and has been a tremendous help to Mr. McDonald. Ceci will become the new school principal effective at the end of this academic year. Please keep both of them and this transition of school leadership in your prayers.

Changes in Pastoral Leadership

There is another great change in store: the Archbishop has announced new pastoral leadership for our parishes effective July 1 this year. For the website: Please click here to read the letter from Archbishop Etienne to the parishioners of Queen of Angels & St. Joseph Parishes. Fr. Leonardo, after six years as our parochial vicar and parish priest, is being transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Vancouver, WA. We’ve been so blessed with Father’s presence in our parishes these last years; we have grown in holiness because of his holiness. He will be sorely missed.

In July, Fr. Randy Guarino will become our Priest Administrator. This is the first step for a priest who is on the “pastor-track”, meaning that he will be in charge of all administrative and sacramental aspects of the parishes, but canonically not yet a pastor. I will no longer have the role of Pastoral Coordinator, but will resume my position as Regional Administrator effective July 1st. In addition, we will have a new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Naresh Gali, a priest of the Diocese of Nellore, India.

Expanding our Family of Parishes

Now for the last, but perhaps most challenging change coming this summer: Queen of Angels & St. Joseph Parishes will be combined with St. Anne Parish in Forks and St. Thomas Mission church in Clallam Bay. Our moniker Clallam Catholic will now include all three parishes on the North Olympic Peninsula, opening up some wonderful opportunities to strengthen the universal Church here locally. Fr. Guarino’s pastorate will include Queen of Angels & St. Joseph Parishes as well as St. Anne Parish, St. Thomas Mission, and the West End, incorporating the prison system. The regional staff will extend administration of offices and facility maintenance, liturgy, religious education, etc. to Forks and Clallam Bay. We’re excited for the opportunity to share resources and serve the people of the West End, and to help strengthen their parish programs.

Courage & Peace in Times of Change

Change has the potential for great good, if we cope with it in healthy ways. It will rely on each of us being patient, understanding and cooperative, and for some of us that will mean working hard to avoid negativity and divisiveness. This is the dawning of a new era in Clallam County: a time for new perspectives, exploring how we can come together as parishes to foster in our local flock lives of prayer, service and community, focusing our attention on what is most valuable and important – Jesus Christ!

Keep in mind that all of our diocesan priests were ordained to serve the needs of the entire Archdiocese of Seattle, not just “your” parish. The success of the new configuration in Clallam County will rely on prayer and sacrifice from all of us. So pray, for our strength and courage moving forward, and for our priests in transition and their new ministry. If we show gratitude for their presence and leadership; if we welcome, support and encourage them, their ministry will bear great fruit in all of our parishes, and become the fullness of our divine potential.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

April 18, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

4/18/2021

They Stood There Dumbfounded…

“Doubt is but another element of faith.”

St. Augustine

Today’s Gospel (Lk 24:35-48) recounts yet another episode of doubt by the disciples of Jesus. In essence, this passage focuses on expectations, and how to relinquish them in order to perceive the truth.

Jesus’ appearance is totally unexpected. He knows the impact His appearance has, so His first utterance is to extend peace to those present. The disciples were having trouble getting beyond the finality of His death, for at His appearance they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Place yourself in the setting, in the shoes of any disciple in the room: how would you react? Feel the fear and anxiety, the sense of being let down immediately following Christ’s death; and now the incredulity of seeing the Lord again.

Jesus calmly reassures the disciples that it is He, in the flesh; the same Lord they knew before the Crucifixion. They are invited to touch Him; He eats. He convinces them that He is real, and they become incredulous for joy and amazed. Their hearts and minds are opened and they believe!

Doubt and the Three Pillars of Holiness

How does this passage relate to our three pillars of personal holiness: prayer, service in the Church and community? On the surface it may appear that there are no connections, but if we delve a little deeper we will find them.

Prayer

Prayer leads to peace. It’s not about an absence of conflict, although that is important. It’s about a sense of deep interior calm that can never be shaken. Jesus is extending His peace to each one of us: His blessing and grace, His loving kindness and mercy, His concern for our well-being. Humans are fraught with emotional upheaval (good or bad) which can lead to a total lack of peace. But through a commitment to prayer, the core can be calmed; and once achieved, that peace will assist the soul in weathering all storms. Yes, we will always be prone to surface stirrings; but deep peace is attainable, and it is something to desire and strive for. When we begin to experience it ourselves, we will be able to direct it to others as well. This will only come through prayer.

Service in the Church

Peace leads to trust, which is essential for a life of service. Are you a fearful person? Are you in need of greater trust in God, in your life or important relationships in your life? With deep peace, doubt disappears and the certitude of Christ’s Resurrection takes hold. We begin to understand on a minuscule level that Christ’s life is what we must henceforth work diligently to imitate. In serving our family, friends, co-workers and parishioners, we not only enhance our own holiness, but we bring Christ’s Gospel message to them as well; we become witnesses. It’s a win-win situation; and it is the mission that Jesus calls each of us to. Ask the Lord for trust, and the grace to become a faithful witness of the Good News.

Service in the community

Trust leads to Christian community. Common attitudes, interests and goals are obtained when there is a feeling of fellowship with others, and this fellowship relies on trust. Christ’s message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, of eternal life in heaven, is meant to be lived and shared with others, not kept to ourselves. How do you feel about this? Does fellowship and sharing include you, or do you feel set apart from it? Do you shy away from community so as not to have to give witness to the Lord? Individualism is an obstacle to community and has no place there.

“You are My witnesses…”

Today we are once again invited to believe in Jesus Christ: to believe that He is God; to believe in His Paschal mysteries; to believe that He loves us, individually and personally; and to believe that we are each part of His great plan to bring love to the world. If we don’t believe, we have simply left Jesus for dead, with no Resurrection. We let Him die in our lives by not praying; by excluding Him and ignoring the demands He places on our lives; by treating others poorly and being a source of division instead of unity; by being focused on ourselves instead of others.

Jesus’ Resurrection breaks down all these barriers. His is the perfect Sacrifice. He surpassed all expectations and opened wide the gates of Heaven to all who believe. If we live a life of prayer (especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass), service and community, our minds and hearts will be opened, and the Lord will help us set aside our expectations and see the way to truth.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

April 11, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

4/11/2021

Seeing is Believing…

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

St. Augustine

The Gospel this week (Jn 20:19-31) is a passage most of us are quite familiar with: the doubting Thomas. He is one of my favorite apostles because he exemplifies transformation of our souls; he goes from total doubt to total conversion in a very short time, but only because he was able to see and touch the wounds of Jesus. Thomas’ witness is proof that the Risen Christ is the same as the Crucified Christ, and in the presence of others he proclaims Jesus as his Lord and God.

Doubting Thomas

How many times have we been given our own ‘proof’ of Jesus’ greatness and goodness, His presence in our lives, His transforming love? Is this evidence enough, or are we holding out for something more substantial? If Jesus were to walk into the room today and show us the wounds in His hands and feet, the wound in His side, would that lend greater credence to what we already have? Do we need to see and touch His wounds before we will believe?

The witness of the doubting Thomas is the foundation of our own belief. Our doubts are healed as he touches the wounds of Christ; our transformation begins as he tells us to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Belief in the truth of the Resurrection means that we choose to leave behind our old life and enter into a new and holy life.

The bottom line in all of this is our own personal belief; and manifest through that, our personal witness. Ask yourself: Can other people sense the presence of the Risen Lord by my words, my behavior, how I treat others, my practice of the Faith? Maybe Thomas doubted because the other apostles were not credible witnesses; is my belief so weak that I too am not a credible witness of the Gospel message?

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Sunday is a wonderful time to reflect on our own faith and our degree of witness to that faith. It is a time of renewal; a time of cleansing the soul, washing it clean. God’s divine mercy is poured into our hearts if we are disposed to receive it, helping us to overcome sin in our lives. This mercy is not for us alone; it is meant to be shared with others: for those who are lost, that they might be found; for those who struggle with their faith, that they might believe; and for those who are dying, that they will have unfathomable grace at the time of death, and be ushered into eternal life in God’s Kingdom. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which bring about transformation, are continually renewed in God’s Divine Mercy.

Divine Mercy Devotions in Daily Life

Make a strong commitment to live Divine Mercy, for yourself and those around you. Here are some ways to begin or strengthen your devotion to this most powerful source of grace:

  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet regularly. We offer a beautiful chaplet every Friday at 3:00pm in both parish churches. Download and print the Chaplet here, sing along here (lovely traditional arr. w/choir & organ) or here (upbeat contemporary arr. w/Fr. Rob Galea), or pray along with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in this beautiful video. (Search the web for even more versions!)
  • Set up a Divine Mercy space in your house: keep a candle there, and an image of the Divine Mercy. Write your prayer intentions (and ask your family for theirs) and place them at the feet of this image of Jesus. Use your special prayer-space every day.
  • If you know of someone who is dying, take 5-8 minutes and pray the Chaplet for the salvation of their soul. This could be loved ones or friends, even parishioners that you don’t know, or people you read about in the news. The more we pray for souls, the greater the grace for their passing into eternity.
  • Read The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. It is the amazing story of Divine Mercy and how this devotion was started. You can read it online for free here or purchase a print copy in a variety of formats here or from your favorite bookstore.
  • Read Consoling the Heart of Jesus, by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Jesus’ Heart is given joy through every act of faith and love. His Heart is Divine Mercy. Discover how you can console Him with your own transformation.
  • Teach your children and grandchildren about Divine Mercy. Click here for some age-appropriate resources and fun activities.

Divine Mercy is about trust. Trust comes from experiencing Jesus in our lives, and believing in His Real Presence. And believing leads to personal transformation. Ask Jesus for the grace to believe without seeing, and then exclaim with St. Thomas the Apostle, My Lord and my God!

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

March 28, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

3/28/2021

The Week that Changed the World…

“There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”

CCC 605

Holy Week is the most sacred week of the year. It is a time when all of our Lenten sacrifices and self-denial culminate in a greater focus on Christ’s immolation. As we immerse ourselves in Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection, we become part of the mystery of our Catholic faith: we are reminded of His immense love for us; we take an active part in consoling Him in His time of agony; and we exalt with Him in His victory over death.

Palm Sunday – aka Passion Sunday

This is the day of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. He doesn’t enter the holy city in an obscure way, unnoticed. Rather He is in procession, triumphant. He is the King, and the people honor Him by waving palm branches, a symbol of power and victory over one’s enemies. At Mass, we too hold palms, to pay Him homage and show fidelity to our King. Blessed palms are meant to be treated with great reverence, and used as a sacramental (something set apart by the Church to excite good thoughts and increase devotion) as a witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

The first Mass of the day recounts the solemn entrance. Although it begins amidst the joy of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, it transitions to a more gloomy character. The narrative of The Passion of Our Lord is proclaimed in its entirety, with the details of Christ’s suffering and death, a time of great sorrow. We hear this narrative now so that we can reflect on the various aspects of it throughout Holy Week.

Monday of Holy Week

In the Gospel of John (12:1-11) we read about what happens on Holy Monday: the anointing at Bethany and Judas being scandalized. Mary, possibly the sister of Lazarus, has an absolute love for the Lord, and without realizing it she prefigures His burial. Judas publicly condemns Mary; and in turn Jesus publicly reprimands Judas. Consider why Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. What does her act of “extravagant” devotion teach us about our own devotion and worship? Why did Judas object to her act of love?

Tuesday of Holy Week

Although the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) recount the withering of the fig tree, the Sadducees and Pharisees questioning Jesus’ authority, and a series of parables on the Mt. of Olives, we read today in John 13:21-38 that Jesus is reclining at table with His disciples, and He is greatly troubled. Those closest to our Lord still do not comprehend what is coming. Indeed one sitting at table will betray Him, and another will deny Him. The Lord’s special love for St. John is evident, and it is an image that reminds us of what we are striving to become. Take time today to rest your head on Jesus’ shoulder.

Wednesday of Holy Week – aka “Spy” Wednesday

In today’s Gospel (Mt 26:14-25) Jesus knows that one of the twelve will betray Him. He knows it is Judas Iscariot, who leaves the room to complete his treacherous act. He is a spy for the Sanhedrin and has accepted 30 pieces of silver to deliver Jesus into their hands. None of us knows the fate of Judas; but his betrayal is an image that we can all relate to. Have we been untrustworthy ourselves? Have we confided in people who have turned around and betrayed us? Either way, we must trust in God’s merciful love and the grace of repentance.

Thursday of Holy Week – aka Maundy Thursday

The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is the start of the Sacred Triduum. In the Gospel (Jn 13:1-15) Jesus institutes the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, which is the start of the Church as we know it. Without the ministerial priesthood there is no Eucharist; and without the Eucharist there is no Mass. Everything “Church” is centered on the Mass – it is a tenet of our Faith. Jesus also washes the feet of His disciples, the ultimate in humility; but more than that, it is a show of loving service. To imitate Jesus, our very lives should embrace loving service, first to God and then to others; this is Jesus’ new Commandment of love. Spend this day pondering your level of service in the Church. Are you washing the feet of others in your daily life?

Friday of Holy Week – aka Good Friday

John’s Gospel (Jn 18:1 – 19:42) is the narrative of Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Burial. It recounts the greatest spiritual, physical and mental suffering that any human has ever experienced. It highlights the evil nature of humanity, and the sheer hatred that human beings often have for one another. We are all at one time or another the victim or the perpetrator, so we can relate in some very small degree to the suffering our Lord endured; but also to the malicious treatment inflicted upon Him. Spend this day contemplating Jesus on the Cross; find solace and strength in His love for you – for He died for those who suffer as well as those who inflict suffering.

Saturday of Holy Week

Holy Saturday is essentially two things rolled into one: the day, up until dark, represents Jesus in the tomb. There is great silence in the world; yet on a supernatural level Jesus descends into hell to free all of the just who died before Him.

After dark, we enter the most solemn night of the year: the Vigil of Easter. Jesus paid the price for our sins by His Crucifixion; and with His death He redeemed the world, opening the gates of Heaven and gaining for us eternal salvation. On this night, those who have spent months preparing for entry into the Church are conferred the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist. It is a joyous occasion as we welcome the newly Baptized and newly Received into our parishes.

Easter Sunday

Today’s Gospel (Jn 20:1-9) confirms Jesus’ Resurrection: Peter and John, who were alerted by Mary Magdalene, enter the empty tomb only to find Christ’s shroud. They saw and they believed. Consider which character you are in this story. Are you Magdalene, one who announces the news of the Resurrection? Or are you Peter or John, who run off to the tomb to see for themselves? Either way, discover the Risen Christ – find the hope and the joy and know the love; and as importantly, share it with others!

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

March 21, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

3/21/2021

From Seed to Sign…

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

John 12:24

In today’s Gospel (Jn 12:22-30) Jesus reminds us that if we want to be holy, and supernaturally productive and fruitful, we must renounce ourselves; but it is not without cost. He expects us to deny our own comfort, personal desires and plans, and accept the suffering that will come when we get onto the narrow road, His Way. I recall reading the words of Jesus speaking to the heart of an anonymous, simple soul. He said to the soul, “Seeds are filled with new life, but that life cannot begin unless the seed falls to the ground and dies. The inside is transformed; the outside dies; but the conditions must be right. If you love Me you will follow Me. To follow Me you must die to self and be transformed inside. There is no other way. My Father will glorify you if you but follow Me….”

A Seed: From Potential to Fruition

In John’s Gospel passage, our Lord is giving the apostles a glimpse of what is to come: without Good Friday, there can be no Easter Sunday. He wants them to understand fully His Passion, Death and Resurrection using the analogy of a seed, dead and buried in the ground coming to life again as a new plant, one that grows and flourishes, producing new seeds. Those who choose to become disciples of Christ are His seeds; and they come to share in the fullness of His life, receiving God’s mercy and love and sharing it with others. Ask yourself: What is there in my own life that must fall to the ground and die before I can bear much fruit?

Every seed that is destined to thrive, no matter its size, begins transformation deep within. When we decide to truly follow Christ we are like seeds, and there is transformation to new life: we start to sacrifice and give of ourselves; we come to understand that trials, affliction and persecution become the norm…crosses; we come to know and accept that through our own suffering we participate in Christ’s suffering. Our true lives emerge as we bear the sign of the Cross; acceptance evolves into assent, and we come to find the joy in suffering, because ultimately it is what redeems and exalts us.

The Cross: From Sign to True Transformation

As I sit writing this column, my thoughts move to the Sign of the Cross. It is a simple gesture that for many is made without thought, and carries no significance; but if we make it with greater purpose, the gesture becomes a constant reminder of our salvation. The Sign of the Cross brings Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice into our daily lives, such that this simple gesture, made with holy intent, is a show of our dedication to Christ for the cause of the Gospel.

Begin to incorporate the Sign of the Cross into your life, perhaps more frequently and deliberately each day, and in a more meaningful way. Think of it as a ‘mini-Creed’, an affirmation of your belief in the Triune God, but also an assertion of your belief in the life-giving Cross. Here are some great ways to bring to mind Jesus’ hour, the hour when the Son of Man was glorified. Cross yourself when you:

  • begin and end all prayers;
  • begin and end a meal;
  • are in times of trouble or fear: when you have received bad news, are being tempted, or when an ambulance or fire truck goes by;
  • pass by a cemetery or are otherwise recalling the dead;
  • gaze upon a Crucifix;
  • pass by or enter a church, or have received Communion;
  • want to invoke God or ward off evil.

Let all of us make the Sign of the Cross, and make it often. It is a simple, visible sign of our self-denial, as it tells others that we are followers of Christ Crucified, and that we are dedicated to living a life of suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

“To personally follow Him is to be like the seed that dies into the earth of His Divinity, allowing Him the space and capacity to blossom within us. A new flower then grows, nourished daily by the waters of grace as it keeps its face illumined by the light of His magnificence.”

Sr. Marie Aimee de Jesus

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

March 14, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

3/14/2021

The Pandemic: An Update on Parish Life

“To begin is easy. To persevere is sanctity.”

St. Josemaria Escriva

One year ago this past week the coronavirus pandemic struck with a vengeance and parishes around the world began to close their doors. The obligation to attend Sunday and holyday Mass was suspended, and employees began to work remotely, or in some places, not at all. Our Archdiocese was no exception. After a period of time with no Masses, parishes were once again allowed to open but only if a record of their exposure control plan was approved by and on file at the Archdiocese; and the strict State and Archdiocesan requirements were implemented and adhered to. Praise God for great volunteers who assisted with getting things in order so we could reopen the churches for Mass. In June of last year we resumed Mass and Confessions with our normal weekly schedule in the two parishes, and we have maintained that schedule since. It is a blessing to be able to have Mass and Confession available as often as we do each week.

Over the past year, the Archdiocese has periodically sent out new guidelines for parishes. Some portions of the guidelines have required components; other portions are simply recommendations or suggestions for change, understanding that each parish is different. For various reasons, a given parish may or may not have the ability to implement particular suggestions. Each parish must assess for itself what might or might not work well at any given time, and there is always a vast array of dynamics to take into consideration.

Archdiocesan Guidance

From the outset, and reiterated even just last month, the Archbishop through his COVID-19 taskforce has asked those parishes which have resumed public Mass to continue to reduce potential exposure for anyone coming into the church for Mass. Specifically:

  • Keep Masses short and simple, under 45 minutes. He asked priests to shorten their homilies; he suggested using the short version of readings; he even suggested priests use the shortest form of the Eucharistic prayer. Certain rites that might otherwise be celebrated during Sunday Mass may be done outside of Mass, to keep the Mass shorter.
  • Maintain physical distancing and use of face masks when on parish campus. Parishes unable to implement a plan for these precautions have not been allowed to re-open. These rules are non-negotiable.
  • No congregational singing.
  • Avoid gathering before and after Mass.
  • Registration for Mass was required up until just recently; however, Bishop Mueggenborg did note that the recommendation is to continue with registration if a parish consistently hits its capacity limit.

Particular Concerns

Having said all this, I’d like to address some items that have been of concern to some parishioners these past months.

Other Parishes

First, I hear regularly from parishioners about what is happening in other parishes in the Archdiocese. It’s time we stop comparing our situation to everyone else’s. I’d wager there isn’t another parish in the AD that is comparing their situation to ours. Every parish is different; and there may even be parishes that do not fully comply with the requirements. We will continue to be compliant with what the Archbishop has asked of us, so please let go of comparing us to any other parish.

Capacity Concerns

Second, “capacity limit”; what is this exactly? The State mandate, which is in effect for all parishes of the Archdiocese, says that worship services are limited to 25% of the building capacity, keeping in mind the concurrent requirement for physical distancing. The actual number is determined by the maximum number of people we can safely seat in each church, knocking off 75%. The number includes all clergy and volunteers, so it’s a headcount. It matters not if people come to Mass in groups of 2 or 6, leaving some pews empty. It’s about the actual number of people that comprises that 25%. Neither of our churches will allow us to seat the actual 25% as we don’t have the space to comply with physical distancing. Our current capacity limit is 64 people at Queen of Angels Parish and 53 people at St. Joseph Parish. We will continue with these capacities until further notice.

ADDENDUM: March 12th. Yesterday afternoon, Governor Inslee announced another transition in his Healthy Washington Roadmap. Effective March 22nd, all WA counties will be in Phase 3. He mentions that the new phase will allow for 50% occupancy or 400 people, whichever is lower. The requirements for face masks and physical distancing will still be in place. For our parishes this does not bring change. Our maximum capacity while ensuring physical distancing is 64 total people at QA and 53 total people at SJ. That will not change until the requirements for physical distancing have been discontinued. (This addendum is not included in the bulletin which went to print prior to the Governor’s announcement.)

Mass Registrations

Third, registration for Mass. Pre-registering for Mass is a way to ensure that we don’t exceed our capacity limit, but it’s also a way to maintain order. Initially it was implemented for contact tracing in the event that a parishioner tested positive and potentially infected others in the church. But the need for this is diminished. In our county alone the risk of death from COVID-19 has held steady at about zero! The risk of testing positive has held steady around 2%. In churches with minimal capacity limits, such as ours, registering for Mass ensures that we aren’t turning away the majority of a throng of people that will show up at the church at most Masses if there were no registration. As it is, we occasionally have to turn someone away who isn’t on the list.

In late January I had a Zoom meeting with the check-in volunteers and their leaders from both parishes. We discussed the registration and check-in process, some options for change, as well as some possible outcomes if we did discontinue the requirement for registration. The team consensus was that we continue to do what we are doing and require registration to avoid having larger numbers of people inconvenienced by having to turn them away. Registration does bring order to what could otherwise be a big mess at the front doors of the churches prior to each Mass.

Music

Last, music. I’ve had a small number of people ask me about music at Mass, and why we don’t have a choir or a cantor. These parishioners typically compare our parishes to other parishes that do have music. Again, each parish is different. Fr. Leonardo and I have spoken about this at length and we revisit it periodically. There are many factors to take into account in regards to no congregational singing, music restrictions and keeping Mass times limited. At this time we will continue without music.

Gratitude & Grace Amidst Hardship

We’re all getting very tired of COVID-19, to be sure. There is nothing on the horizon from the State about when all the restrictions will end. All counties are in Phase 2 [Edit: see addendum above], but there is nothing beyond that at this point. And so we continue to sail along. We are blessed: both of our parish offices are open; the churches are open during the week for private prayer and both daily and weekend Masses; we continue to live-stream Sunday Mass and other special liturgies; we have amazing volunteers assisting at each Mass, and cleaning crews to disinfect afterwards; more people are returning to Mass, and overall, Masses are filled before their schedules close; we have access to all the Sacraments; many parish ministries are meeting via Zoom; Religious Ed directors meet with students, catechumens and candidates via Zoom; and the school is open for in-class learning. There is a lot going on in our parishes despite the fact that we are not doing on-campus ministry at this time.

In Pope Francis’ proclamation for the Year of St. Joseph it is stated: Joseph’s spiritual path “is not one that explains, but accepts” — which does not mean that he is “resigned.” …. With the “Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude,” and full of hope, he is able “to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.”www.vaticannews.va

Let’s be grateful for all that we do have, and continue to pray for an end to the pandemic..

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

March 7, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

3/7/2021

Vacare Deo: Making Space for God

“Take care of your body as if you were going to live for ever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”

St. Augustine

The three pillars of Lent, prayer, fasting and alms-giving, are vital components of our fidelity to God during this holy season. Yet, in essence, all three contribute to our on-going spiritual well-being. Living a life of prayer, detachment, service, works of mercy, etc., means we are tending to our holiness, which in turn strengthens our relationship with the Lord.

In today’s Gospel (John 2:13-25) we find Jesus lashing out in righteous anger at the hypocrisy of the commercialism taking place in the Temple. The Temple is a sacred place; the activity there is meant to center on giving God glory; but for generations it was anything but because the buying and selling had displaced the purpose. This commercialism represents everything that detracts from true faith and reverence of worship. In this passage, the Temple depicts our own unruly souls. They aren’t filled with merchants, doves, sheep and oxen, but they are filled with worldly attachments. The temple needs to be cleansed, and that is what Jesus has set out to do.

St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 6:19 that every Christian body is a temple (sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit. Have we grasped this reality? It means that each of us is a living temple, where God dwells, not just sometimes, but for eternity. It means that our bodies are sacred, and should be treated as such. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves some questions: Are there things about me that anger the Lord? Do I clutter my temple so that there is little room for God? How do I clear the noise, and the rubbish and rubble in the temple of my heart to make space for Him? What is my priority in life? Is it about God’s glory, or my own? Is it about what I want, or about what He requires of me? Do I truly have a desire to deepen my faith?

Surely, for most of us, it is a great challenge. Humans have a natural inclination to be shallow and to be idle. Many of us pursue our own desires, what we want and what makes us feel good. We don’t really want to grow in our faith, or use times of trial to learn about how to become better people. We don’t want to put in the effort needed for healthier lives, spiritually or physically. We like where we are; we’d prefer not to bother with the time, work and discipline that true spiritual formation requires. But, if this is our perspective, we are stunted, and our value and purpose are diminished.

Ways to Make Space

Lent is a perfect time to examine just how shallow we are, and in what areas we need to grow. Certainly this past year of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented isolation, laxity, and loss of faith. What can we do for ourselves to turn that around? Here are some ideas to help us get started making space for God:

Make time for Mass

Return to Mass if you haven’t already done so, and your health permits. The parishes and missions of the Archdiocese of Seattle have celebrated over 40,000 Masses in the past year; there has not been one recorded instance of transmission of COVID-19 at Mass. If you are comfortable going to the grocery store, you should be comfortable coming to the church for Mass and private prayer and devotions. Restrictions are still in place; and pre-registration is required for all Masses because our capacity is very limited. If you aren’t sure how to register for Mass, please call the parish office and I’ll be happy to walk you through it!

Make your heart ready

Prepare for worship at Mass, whether attending in person or watching from home. Read the scriptural passages ahead of time and reflect on the message God is giving you. Dress appropriately, even if watching from home. Follow the Mass using the worship aid provided on our website. Pray for the grace to be focused on Christ and the Holy Sacrifice and to avoid distractions.

Make things right

We all have sin in our lives, for which repentance is needed. Return to regular Confession if you haven’t already done so. Confessions are heard twice a week in each parish. Public health restrictions are in place, so it is very safe. Please call the office if you have questions about how to get to Confession.

Make time to talk to Him

Spend time at the church in private prayer. Come, sit with Jesus. Be reminded of the holiness of God and how to respect and reverence Him. Taking time in Adoration will get you out of the shallows and into the deep as you empty yourself to be filled with Him. See the latest bulletin or check our homepage for current church hours.

Make a list

List the distractions in your life that prevent you from doing the four things above. Make a concerted effort to re-prioritize, and put God first in your life.

Vacare Deo….Make space for God. See yourself as sacred; prepare a place and restore your relationship with the Lord. His holy anger isn’t meant to wound us; it is meant to teach us; it is for our benefit. Cleanse the temple of your heart, body and soul; detach from everything to follow His ways and commit to being a true disciple of Christ.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

February 28, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

2/28/2021

Why Climb the Mountain?

“The higher we go, the better we shall hear the voice of God.”

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

About three years ago I joined a friend on a summer hike. We drove up into the Cascades on a beautifully clear morning to a very remote trail head. There wasn’t another soul around. The all-day journey began easy enough, but within minutes we were on a very steep, arduous climb, not just a hike. There were no switch-backs, it was straight uphill. I’m in pretty good shape, but that day I was working so hard to keep up. After about two hours of this uphill wooded climb we left the trees and started skirting the peak, gaining higher ground with every step. The summit was not far ahead, and when we arrived, the view for 360 degrees was perhaps the most breath-taking scene I had ever witnessed. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day. To say that God was present with us is an understatement…

Today’s Gospel (Mk 9:2-10) is about a climb up a mountain, and what happened at the top: the Transfiguration of the Lord. But why are we reading this Scriptural passage in Lent? What is the significance for us as disciples of Jesus? The mountain is symbolic. It represents a silent place, a solitary place where we can engage in deeper prayer, away from the cares and distractions of the world. But what does it take for me to get there? Will I have the same kind of mountaintop experience as the apostles? Is it worth it regardless? Do I have the stamina to begin the burdensome uphill climb, let alone stick with it to the top?

Each of us has to answer those questions for ourselves. The mountain is simply the means to an end: Jesus Christ. Each of us fashions our own: some mountains will be high and others low; some climbs easy and others quite burdensome; some trails wide and smooth, others narrow and rocky. But one thing is certain: if we want a relationship with Jesus, we must have an encounter with our mountain. We must embrace the path He has prepared for us, knowing that there will be some degree of burden and suffering as we ascend. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him, and He will take us too, if we are willing to climb. It will be well worth it if we put in a concerted effort. We may not have radiant spiritual experiences, but being with Jesus, hearing His voice in the depth of our hearts, communing with Him on a deeper level is worth it. The reward is our own personal transfiguration…

Transfiguration is simply conversion, and as with all aspects of human life, it involves suffering. Yet the suffering signifies our personal story of love: a recognition that we need to change; adopting a plan to become better persons; and sharing the light of our transformed lives with others. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names takes the name Tabor from a verb meaning to purge, purify or clean. This mountain of the Transfiguration represents for each of us the process of stripping away, of coming to know self and God; and we can only do this in prayer. On this mountain we are cleansed of our sinful ways; and in that purification we become radiant…witnesses of Christ’s life as part of our own lives.

The more we pray, and the deeper our prayer, the more we are filled with grace; and the fruit of this grace is glory: a magnificence and beauty that radiates from the soul. It was this type of glory the apostles received from Mt. Tabor that allowed them to endure Jesus’ Passion and Death. Jesus wants this for all of us. If we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us so that we will cling to Him when something seems impossible to endure.

This Lent, reflect on some of your own Mt. Tabors: those times that you have experienced God’s presence and love in a profound way. Think about how you can continue to be encouraged and strengthened by their influence in your life.

Why climb the mountain? To love Jesus; to give Him your heart; to remain in His presence; to see His Face; and to listen to His voice. This is relationship with Him, and it can only be found in prayer.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

February 21, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

2/21/2021

40 Days in the Desert…

“I have decided not to let this Lent go by like rain on stones, leaving no trace.  I will let it soak into me, changing me.  I will be converted, I will turn again to the Lord and love Him as He wants to be loved…”

St. Josemaria Escriva

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk 1:12-15) launches our Lord’s preparation for starting His public ministry.  It’s key to consider that the Spirit drove Him out into the desert.  This doesn’t imply the Lord’s resistance by any means; instead it gives us a sense of how compelled He was to leave everything behind and enter into a period of seclusion, a 40-day retreat if you will; a time of strengthening as He focused on prayer and communion with His Heavenly Father.

Jesus in the Desert

I had the great privilege to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in November 2019.  It was a very special trip for myriad reasons.  Perhaps one of the most profound experiences was our visit to the Judean wilderness (desert).  We drove high into the mountains, and from our vantage point we became part of the vastness of the desert landscape.  It looked nothing like the sand-dune deserts that most of us are familiar with; but it also looked nothing like the treed wilderness I am used to seeing here at home.  Instead, it is a rugged place, very dry and infertile.  On that day in November, the beauty of the desert barrenness brought me to tears as I reflected on the Lord living in this harsh place for 40 days without food or water…

Jesus is the pattern for our lives.  Although His venture into the desert carries many messages, it’s a reminder too that when the Holy Spirit guides us into the desert there is some great purpose in it for each of us.  Jesus shows us by example: prayer and fasting are disciplines that will help us battle the devil and resist temptation; but they are also the means of filling us with the power of the Holy Spirit, which strengthens us for the difficult road ahead (our very lives).

Why the Desert?

Lent is our annual retreat to the desert, but why do we need to go there?  What happens there that doesn’t happen elsewhere?  First, it is a time of great grace and closeness to God.  It is an opportunity for us to grow in trust of God’s care for us.  Second, it’s a time that we can devote to greater practice of self-discipline – mortification, dying to self.  And third, it’s an exercise in leaving the old self behind, and putting on the new self.  Uniting our sojourn through the desert with that of Our Lord helps us keep in mind all that He has done for us.  Lent is a time to re-dedicate ourselves to God and follow Jesus more closely.

Chart a Course

If we haven’t already, it’s now time for each of us to plan how we will observe Lent this year.  What sacrifices will we make for our own spiritual growth, our own holiness?  Here are some ideas, keeping prudence always in mind:

Fast.

Cleanse the body, soul and spirit.  Adhere to the prescribed rules for fast and abstinence during this liturgical season.  Perhaps in addition, choose a bad habit or vice that you’d like to overcome and put in the effort to begin to overcome it.

Receive God’s Word.

Spend time with Scripture.  Take one of the Gospels, divide by 40 and read the specified excerpt each day.• Intercessory prayer: pray daily for a specific intention for someone or something. 

Study a Catholic classic.

The lives of the Saints are not only interesting, but they are vital to who we are; their lives existed to build up the Mystical Body of Christ, just like each of our lives do for generations to come.  If you want to be holier, focus on reading the lives of the Saints.

Discern.

Seek direction from God for what He’s calling you to: what He wants you to do as part of your own apostolate in the Church, and how He might guide you in starting that work.   

Retreat.

Make Lent a time in greater silence: daily quiet prayer; Mass (at parish or online); reflection, and spiritual reading.

Lent is a time of spiritual workout, when we go from the wide road to the base of the mountain; or we progress a little higher on the mountain if we are already on the climb.  Through prayer, Scripture, study, works of mercy and fasting we cannot help but advance in holiness, which means we will leave the desert empowered by the Holy Spirit to do our part to build up the Kingdom of God in the world.

The challenge lies in our commitment – to self and God; our trust; our discipline; our perseverance.  Unite yourself to Jesus this Lent; go above and beyond what you would normally do and leave the wilderness victorious.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

February 14, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

2/14/2021

Make the Offering for Your Healing…

“In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds…”

St. John of the Cross

Do you remember the 1959 movie Ben Hur, with Charlton Heston? Perhaps one of the most prominent threads weaving through the movie is the Valley of the Lepers, showcasing the compassionate care given to the outcasts by Judah Ben Hur’s mother, sister and friend; followed by the eventual transmission of this most corruptible disease to his family; ending in their miraculous healing as they witness the Lord’s arduous journey to Calvary. Their faith healed them…

In today’s Gospel (Mk 1:40-45), Jesus heals the leper. There are so many messages in this short passage, but let’s focus on two aspects: the leper’s prayer, because it is full of faith; and Jesus’ instruction to the leper after the miracle: to make an offering for his healing.

The leper represents every single one of us…fallen humanity. Although leprosy is a very contagious physical disease, Jesus uses it as an analogy for spiritual disease as well. The leper is a sinner, in need of cleansing and healing; and his petition is simple: If you wish, you can make me clean. There is no demand here; only a humble, but confident request (prayer) of the Lord. The leper realizes that Jesus has the power to cure him, and the Lord responds to his prayer with a miracle. The power of a simple prayer is realized…

Before spiritual healing can take place, we must do two things: first, admit that we are in need of help, that we suffer from the spiritual disease of sin and wish to be cured of it; and second, humbly pray, confident of God’s love and His desire to heal us. If we acknowledge our need for God and ask for His help, He will respond.

An offering to the Lord

But there is another vital step in all of this, namely the offering. As Catholics we are very familiar with the old adage “Offer it up!” From time immemorial, offerings have been part of the worship of God; they were seen as a means of being in communion with Him. By our Baptism we share in Christ’s royal priesthood, and so as “priests” we are obliged to give offerings in order to show reverence and devotion to God; again, as a means of being in communion with Him. Ordained priests offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for a wide variety of petitions, but especially for their own sins and the sins of the people. We, as laity, non-ministerial priests, can daily offer our very selves to God, as well as everything in our lives: thoughts, words and deeds; emotions (give Him the joys as well as the misery); prayers, sufferings and sacrifices; physical and mental illness; physical, mental or spiritual healing; frustrations with our family/work relationships; a job well done, or a job not so well done; our distractions; our own sins…the list is literally endless.

Each of us is in need of some degree of healing every day, because none of us is perfect. Our days are filled with victories and defeats, some major, some minor. But, if we give everything to God, both at the start and throughout our day, there is much grace, and we help to build up the Mystical Body of Christ. By uniting our day and everything in it with the sufferings of Jesus, we share in His redemptive suffering, and along with that we help with the reparation of the sins of humanity.

Keep in mind too that our offerings must be rooted in gratitude. God gives us everything for very specific purpose, and our job is to accept and offer back to Him the good as well as the bad, in patience, peace and thanksgiving. Our offerings may be petitioned for ourselves; for a loved one or friend; for a greater good; for those who are suffering – both on earth and in Purgatory; etc. Again, the list is endless.

So what do we do to “offer it up”?

A morning offering every day, first thing!

Start each day with a morning offering. And, turn to God throughout the day in our suffering or in gratitude for our healing. Ask Him to use our misery or joy. It takes great discipline to offer things up throughout the day, but it’s a great way to practice the presence of God.

Have compassion for others.

Make a sacrifice on their behalf, for their healing; or for peace and patience in their suffering. This entails intentionally carrying a burden for someone else. Be very aware that God will take you up on your offer!

Unite your offering to Mary in her suffering.

Meditate upon The Seven Sorrows of Mary: The Presentation in the Temple; The Flight into Egypt; Losing Jesus in the Temple; The Way of the Cross; Jesus Dies on the Cross; Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross; and Jesus is Placed in the Tomb.

Voluntary mortifications.

Something unpleasant that we would not normally do, like going without coffee or sweets; getting up 30 minutes earlier each day; fasting from TV or social media; etc. Not out of duty, but out of love for others.

Our lives are truly meant to be offerings to God. We can be one with the Lord, and bring unseen consolation to others, when we strive daily to lift up the countless activities and events that make up the whole of our lives. Let us be one with Him as we give ourselves in their entirety, in union with His Holy Sacrifice: His life.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

February 7, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

2/7/2021

Prayer: the Means to the End

“Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy–then we need an hour.”

St. Francis de Sales

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk 1:29-39) finds Jesus once again very active in His ministry: He is performing miracles, and He’s dealing with people who are pressing in on Him hoping to see more: more healings and more exorcisms. He has compassion for the people, and wants to exercise His power. How quickly word must have spread; how sensational it must have become as people hoarded around Him hoping for their own cure or the cure of a loved one. Jesus’ message was being overshadowed by His miracles…

I can only imagine the Lord’s exhaustion after a long day and night of whirlwind ministry. Just before dawn Jesus withdraws to pray. He doesn’t simply arise and pray right there in the house of Peter; rather He leaves His closest friends and the throngs of people; He finds a deserted place to pray, to be alone with His Father. Only in silent prayer does He maintain an awareness of His mission.

Everything we do in service to God is an act of charity. But that service has no true meaning and cannot be sustained without prayer. Charitable work, indeed, even charitable thoughts and words, will cease to flourish unless they are enlivened by prayer. We tend to find charitable works easy and consoling; oft times we derive inner satisfaction from accomplishing them because the effects are tangible: we are exalted, honored, praised. But most of us tend to flee from prayer because it means we have to make time for something that perhaps we don’t really want to do: we are slothful; we aren’t sure how to pray; we don’t think it’s important or that it will make a difference; we never get satisfaction from it; or we simply don’t have time. If this is where we find ourselves, it’s important to take a deep look at our lives and reprioritize some things. Prayer is our first duty; it is our guide; without it we will only make painful mistakes every step of the way.

Prayer is the channel of all grace. It can lead to conversion because it helps us let go of things and follow Christ. If we are truly striving for holiness, for a Christ-centered life, then the Holy Spirit dwells in us as in a temple, a house of prayer; and only in this temple (our heart and soul) will we take the very first steps towards a relationship with God in prayer.

Three Basic Types of Prayer

So what is prayer, and how do we do it? Let’s keep it very simple. There are basically three “types” of prayer: vocal, meditative and contemplative.

Vocal Prayer

Vocal prayers require our action, and they help us form the habit of prayer. When we recite them at regular intervals we are reminded of God, and with time we actually begin to look forward to our prayer breaks. Distractions are inevitable in any type of prayer. Involuntary thoughts that enter our minds can be quelled with practice; but voluntary distractions (i.e. consciously thinking about or doing something other than prayer) should be avoided during our set time in prayer.

Meditative Prayer

Once we develop the habit of prayer, we begin to feel a desire to go deeper, not just reciting prayers verbally, but praying in order to understand God’s truth. This is meditative prayer, which also requires our action. It is an exercise of the mind, one that relies on silence to be fruitful. In this type of prayer we take a passage from Scripture, read it, place ourselves in the scene, and reflect on the details, inner sensations, and thoughts that come to us. It is not forced; it’s like quietly reading a story and exploring the hidden message in it. When ending mental prayer, it’s important to ask for the grace to understand the message (truth) Jesus has for us, and how He is calling us to change.

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative prayer, the deepest form of prayer, is purely a gift from God, requiring His action and not our own, except in disposing our souls to be prepared for an encounter with Him, ever turning our hearts towards Him. Contemplation is the beginning of true detachment, as we begin to speak more with God (in our hearts) and less to those around us; at its height it becomes a prayer purely of listening (in our hearts). It is not about passivity, however; it takes discipline, determination and attention; remaining habitually in the presence of God.

Conversation with God

These are not distinct forms of prayer, i.e. we leave one and enter another. Instead, vocal prayer is a foundation, and once well-established we build on it, venturing into mental prayer and finally contemplative prayer. Eventually, the whole of prayer becomes a combination of these three types, a melding together of all forms of prayer, but spending less time in vocal and more time in silent contemplation.

We are all called to reach the heights of prayer, no matter what our vocation. But we will never reach those heights if we don’t begin the journey. Commit to a life of prayer. Plan your day around it, and keep it sacred. Like Jesus, leave your surroundings, even if just for a few moments, and find a deserted place to spend time with Him.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

January 31, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

1/31/2021

The Battle for Our Souls…

“Enemy-occupied territory…that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed…and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”

C.S. Lewis

Today’s Gospel (Mk 1:21-28) is an exorcism story. It’s about Jesus’ power and authority. Not only does the Word of God have the power to create, He also has the power to preach the Truth, and the power to command and expel demons. The unclean spirit is keenly aware, and actually acknowledges that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Jesus rebukes him and with a simple command expels the unclean spirit from the possessed man. We also see that everything about Jesus impresses the people: “[They] were astonished at His teaching….All were amazed….”

There are two important messages in this passage: first, the response of the onlookers. Their astonishment suggests that perhaps we should listen more carefully to Jesus. His teachings might be very familiar to us, but maybe this means we only hear and pay attention to them on a very superficial level. Second, the response of the unclean spirit, whose only interest is counteracting the work of grace. The devil is real; and his sole purpose in this world is to snare as many souls as he possibly can. The world around us, both seen and unseen, is a spiritual battlefield; and whether we realize it or not, every one of us is at war with unclean spirits!

Strategies for Victory

As we continue our efforts to put Christ at the center of our lives, how do these messages call us to respond? Here are some things to reflect on this week.

Fix our eyes on Jesus.

Jesus lived the Good News, in His teaching and preaching, and in His actions (healing, expelling demons, virtuous life, etc.) In prayer, place yourself in the scene as one of the onlookers. Notice Jesus; discover what it was about Him that so impressed the people; admire Him for His authority.

Examine our responses to authority in everyday life.

Jesus demonstrated for each one of us how to express the gift of power. It’s not meant to be used for dominating others; but rather for Christian service. Consider how you exercise your own power and authority and ask yourself: Do I ever dominate others? Do I ever protest against the authority of others over me? Pray for the grace to be shown the way to lasting behavioral changes.

Make time for Scripture.

Every time that Jesus preaches or teaches, He identifies ways that we can imitate Him in His holiness. Make a plan to read and meditate upon Scripture every day, even a short passage. Avoid reading it superficially; instead, make a personal commitment to study His teaching and take it to heart. Pray to the Holy Spirit for His guidance. [Fr. Mike Schmitz and Jeff Cavins at Ascension have teamed up this year to bring us a daily podcast that reads through the entire Bible in a year. It’s easy to listen while you fold laundry, wash dishes, or commute to work, and if you’ve never read through the whole Bible before, this is a great place to start! Click here to learn more.]

Make time for prayer.

In Jesus’ prayer to us, the Our Father, we pray to be delivered from evil: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Do I turn to Jesus in prayer before, during, and after spiritual battle? Do I believe that He is my shield, protecting me from evil? Do I stand behind Him and not become frightened or disheartened when evil seems to get the upper hand? Do I believe that Jesus has the power to overcome the world’s enemy?

Recognize our supernatural opposition.

Unclean spirits, as noted above, work to counteract grace. Their goal is to divide us from God and from each other. Demons (unclean spirits) represent whatever forces dominate and bind people, things that drain our life away. These forces can be evident in every aspect of our lives: family and work relationships; religious teaching (i.e. disagreeing with Church Doctrine); health and recreation; education and politics; finances and economics; etc. Instead of grace, love, forgiveness, peace, order and harmony, unclean spirits manifest as anger, fear, jealousy, greed, prejudice, arrogance, addictions, over-focusing on career instead of family, and the like. In the heat of the battle we fall to presumption, revenge, vengeance, self-justification, being judgmental, etc. All humans struggle with these evil spirits. Although we can’t avoid them outright, we must work to quell them. Ponder the sources of your unclean spirits and pray to Jesus to expel them from your life.

Reconsider our media consumption.

One of the greatest unclean spirits in the world today is mass/digital/social media. It’s not that the media themselves are inherently evil; it’s the obsession with them. Humanity is consumed by these demons. Sadly, many souls are driven by them in their daily lives to the point of losing the ability to think critically, destroying their better judgment. We are saturated with stimuli from these forms of communication; they have great potential to take away time for reflection, analysis and imagination. Ask yourself: How important have these become to my sense of self and the way I live my life? Am I incessantly involved with mass/digital media for no good purpose? (Good purpose would be anything for the greater glory of God.) Do I value my time with these media more than the people around me, and if so how has that disrupted my life and my relationships? Fasting from these media can bring a sense of great freedom to one’s life, a sense of being empowered. Consider spending a week or more without the media, if not for your own soul, then for the love of the other souls in your life.

Recognize our God-given powers.

God has given each of us the gift of power, the right use of which helps us win the battle for our souls. Scripture reveals clearly how power can be abused, but if we use it the way God intends, then our lives will flourish. We have the power to make things new: the power of realization and awareness; the power of re-creating our lives as we are converted from a life of evil to a life of goodness and love; the power of reconciling with God and neighbor; in essence, the power to use power in a fruitful way.

Weapons of Spiritual Warfare

Let’s end with some simple, practical ways that we can protect ourselves against the inevitable spiritual warfare. Our battles will be all but won if we add these to our regular spiritual exercises!

  • St. Michael Prayer
  • Guardian Angel Prayer
  • The Rosary
  • Fasting
  • Eucharistic Adoration
  • Wear a blessed Miraculous Medal **
  • Bless your home
  • Place a blessed Crucifix** in every room of your house and in your workplace

**Blessed by a priest.

Believe in Jesus’ power and authority; it brings blessing. With it He not only attracts us to His Person and His Truth, but He repels our unclean spirits and frees us from the bondage of sin, helping us win the battle for our souls!

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

January 24, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

1/24/2021

Conversion: Something We All Need

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination…”

St. Augustine

Have you ever considered that you were created in God’s mind and heart well before you were conceived in your mother’s womb? “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jer. 1:5) Have you ever considered that God “created” you perfect, intending for you to live a life of love with Him forever? “God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them…” (Gen. 1:27) Have you ever stopped to think carefully about how sin entered the world: a single, fateful choice by Adam and Eve, which allowed the enemy of God to ensnare all of humanity in an instant, from that point forward, for all time? Years ago I spent a lot of time pondering that single, poor choice by Adam and Eve; anger towards them welled up in me because they brought to humanity, for each and every soul ever created (except the Blessed Virgin Mary), the potential for eternal separation from God. “The LORD God therefore banished him [man] from the garden of Eden…” (Gen. 3:23)

Although each and every one of us was “created” in perfection, every human being is conceived and born in sin (again, except Mary); we have no choice in the matter. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5). The moment we leave our mother’s womb the pain and suffering of life in the world begins, and it all hearkens back to that Original Sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it [God’s love].” (CCC 1850) So sin is indeed an offense against God that causes separation from Him.

We are all sinners; it is inherent within us even if we are living free from mortal sin. Any offense against God is sinful to some degree, and humans are steeped in faults, imperfections, bad habits and outright venial or mortal sin. We are all sinners, but the vast majority of us do not see sin for what it is.

Praise and thank God for the gift of conversion! Just because someone is Catholic doesn’t mean they aren’t in need of conversion; we are ALL in need of conversion. One day, each of us must reach a point of choosing good over evil forever, because that is the crux of conversion. Have you made the decision yet about where you want to spend eternity? There are only two choices: Heaven (everlasting union with God) or Hell (everlasting separation from God). And without conversion I dare say it’s pretty obvious where someone will end up! Please don’t wait any longer; join me in choosing Heaven now… today.

The first step in conversion is being convinced that we are sinners. The second step in conversion is deciding that we are going to do everything we can to avoid sin and live a life of holiness. The third step is to consciously decide to go to Heaven, and be committed to that choice forever. Falls are inherent to our humanness; but we must strive to get up quickly and continue on the road. Conversion doesn’t mean life will be any easier; but it does mean that it will be better, because it begins the change from a self-centered to a Christ-centered life. And we will not make it to Heaven unless we are truly living Christ-centered lives.

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk. 1:14-20) finds Jesus preaching one basic message: The Kingdom of God is at hand…repent and believe the Gospel. Repentance is that change of heart and mind in regards to sin (conversion): it is recognizing that we are sinners, asking for forgiveness and turning away from sin to a new life of love in Christ Jesus. Conversion is a new lease on life. Andrew and John, Peter and James…they were regular old guys like you and me; they were sinners and always would be. But they knew in their hearts that change was at hand and that they would never look back; that they would abandon their lives of sin for lives of goodness and love. We have to do the same, and we must begin immediately, just as the Apostles did when Jesus beckoned them…

But where does it start? Can we bring about our own conversion? Well, it takes God’s grace first, which is purely a gift; and then it takes our cooperation with that grace: we must say “yes” for the change to begin. So pray for the grace of repentance. Pray steadfastly for the conversion of your own soul, no matter where you are on the journey, for conversion is an on-going and life-long process. Let your prayer for repentance be completely simple: the Publican was reconciled with God in a single phrase, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Lk 18:13) “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” This is the Fatima Prayer given to the shepherd children by Mary as she warned the world of coming tragedies if we do not repent and change our lives. The Miserere, or Psalm 51, is known as a Penitential Psalm, a beautiful song of repentance composed by King David.  Any of these prayers of repentance could easily be prayed daily. It would be God’s way of knowing that we are cooperating with His grace of conversion.

A last thought: one of the best ways to secure our soul is to actually take time to think about these things: the truths about God and eternity. Just as with the Apostles, now is the time; we must act. Jesus is passing by, and He is calling us; if we fail to respond, He will continue on His way…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

January 17, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

1/17/2021

Come and See

“Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom His every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind…”

St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42) marks a transition from the ministry of John the Baptist to the ministry of Jesus. Our Lord’s life now becomes public, beginning a greater manifestation of why He came: to bear witness to God the Father and lead all of us to Him. His is a ministry of salvation.

This passage is perhaps the first instance of true witness to the Faith. John the Baptist was a witness to his own disciples, who in turn gave testimony to others. Andrew couldn’t contain himself and he had to share his experience with Peter, his brother. We can only imagine the ripple effect, how quickly word would have spread as those who had seen and perhaps spoken to Jesus began to tell others about Him. It is probably safe to say that among early Christians the vast majority came to know Jesus through introduction from people who were already His followers. Spreading the word became a true apostolate for many Christians in the time of Jesus, and remains so today.

John the Baptist was very aware of who Jesus was, the Lamb of God, and he points his own followers in a new direction, the direction of salvation. Before they knew Jesus they were actually seeking Him without realizing it; but once they came to truly know Jesus personally, and discover the direction they needed to go, they had a desire to share Him with others, to point them in the right direction too.

We are all called to bring God to others, but we are not all called to do so in the same way! Some of us are very uncomfortable with “Evangelization”. Many of us shy away from talking about God/Jesus with others because we are afraid – we don’t know how to do it; we fear rejection or persecution; we are embarrassed; there is a myriad of reasons. But Evangelization is not about forcing the faith on anyone. It is not about hammering people with facts about the Catholic Church and expecting them to accept them all. Evangelization is about sharing our own personal experience of Jesus with others, hopefully opening a door for them. It is an invitation to come and see, and nothing more; an invitation that can obviously be expressed in words, but as importantly an invitation that can be expressed in our actions, i.e. in how we live our faith. And, Evangelization must begin with the people in the pews, everyday Catholics, many of whom do not know Jesus.

In this Gospel passage Jesus asked a simple question, “What are you looking for?” But it wasn’t intended just for those early disciples; it is a fundamental question that He’s asking each and every one of us today. Reading that question should incite us to look interiorly: What AM I looking for? What AM I trying to get out of life? Jesus says, “Come and see…” – it is an invitation: to simply follow Him, to spend time with Him, to tag along and explore what He has to offer.

This Lent we invite adult parishioners to come and see…to explore what you are looking for in life. The Search for the women of the parish is an excellent series in which we will examine the true meaning of life. All women are encouraged to participate; it will truly change your life! Presence for the men of the parish is another excellent series which delves into the true meaning of the Eucharist and how men can live their faith life with It as the source and summit. All men are encouraged to participate; you will truly be transformed! Consecration to St. Joseph for both men and women of the parish, digs into the hidden, but very holy life of St. Joseph and through that coming to know Jesus better. Everyone is encouraged to to participate. Visit our homepage and scroll down to the Current Events section for more information, to sign up, and purchase participant guides. These are great opportunities to strengthen your faith, so please consider joining us!

Come and see. Accept His invitation and find what you are looking for. Build His Kingdom in your heart and be a foundation of faith for others.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

January 10, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

1/10/2021

Ite ad Ioseph… Go to Joseph…

“Love Saint Joseph a lot. He deserves your affection – and it will do you good to get to know him, because he has great power before the Lord and before the Mother of God.”

St. Josemaria Escriva

The year of Our Lord 2020 will go down in history as one of the most memorable; but will 2021 be any different? Will things get brighter or darker in the coming year? Will we be bursting with joy come springtime, or will we potentially fall to discouragement? None of us knows, and I dare say it is certainly not worth dwelling on. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter in the least what a given day or week or year looks like or what we might want them to be; what matters is our faith, and living each day as if it were our last, keeping Christ in our hearts like never before.

Over the past six months, this Apostles’ Column has identified ways that we can deepen our relationship with Jesus, which is the only way we will get through the darkness. I have shared numerous spiritual exercises, grounded in our three pillars of a Christ-centered life: prayer, service in the Church, and community. A healthy, daily prayer life; reading Scripture and the lives of the saints; studying the doctrine of the Church; the Works of Mercy; getting to Mass and confession regularly; maintaining connection to family and parishioners; etc. There’s so much to do! How can I fit in a spiritual life when I’m struggling to stay afloat in the world? With my job and family life I barely have time to pray, let alone do spiritual reading. Skipping Mass and confession is easier than making time for them…

This is something we can all relate to; but it’s a road that leads to nowhere. If we don’t have a healthy spiritual life we have no life. The way to stay afloat in the world is by making time to pray, and putting in the effort to exercise our faith, even minimally. It’s so hard to do, but I would like to offer something in the short-term that will bring lifetime benefits to those who participate.

Consecration is a big word that frightens many people. They think it’s about becoming ordained priests or “consecrated religious”, cloistered nuns or monks. The host and wine at Mass are consecrated and literally become the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ! But consecration has a very simple meaning when it is applied to the laity (you and me). It has significance for each and every one of us, rooted in Scripture, and something we must embrace instead of fear: I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1). All souls have a primary vocation to personal holiness, and consecration is simply another step to help us on our journey. It is not a single, one-time act; rather, it encompasses our Christian lives. The act of consecration is truly the result of grace: preparatory grace; for we can only commit to living a holier life if we are prepared to do so.

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk 1:7-22) recounts The Baptism of the Lord. As baptized Catholics, we are called to an absolute relationship with Jesus, and we are called to grow in that relationship. Baptism is the foundation of our Christian lives; consecration is simply the spirituality that helps us live out our baptismal call, to be holy as God is holy.

There are many types of lay consecration out there, but on Thursday, February 11th we will begin preparation for a Consecration to St. Joseph. After Mary, St. Joseph is the most important and influential figure in Jesus’ life. He is the holiest of saints, and wishes to help each one of us grow to imitate his virtue and holiness. He is the guardian of the universal Church; he is the patron of a happy and holy death; he is our spiritual father, our protector and guide. Entrusting ourselves into his paternal care is like growing up in the household of the Holy Family: his relationship with Jesus can become our relationship with Jesus!

This Consecration is open to all men, women or couples in the parishes. The preparation period lasts 33 days, and involves 15-20 minutes of daily reading, reflection and prayer. In addition, there will be a weekly large-group meeting via Zoom, to summarize what we’ve read and explore new insights. Basically, we come to know this hidden saint, this quiet man who raised Jesus. At the end of the 33 days, on March 19, 2021, those who feel called to it will make a private, individual consecration. In addition, at Mass that morning Fr. Leonardo will consecrate our two parishes to the protection and guidance of St. Joseph.

For those who have made a Marian Consecration, there is no reason that you cannot make a Josephian Consecration. Actually, I would strongly encourage you to do so, for it will only enhance your spiritual life. Jesus entrusted Himself to Mary and Joseph; why wouldn’t we do the same?

This preparation and subsequent Consecration to St. Joseph will change lives, not only the lives of those who undertake the private consecration, but also every soul in the parishes as a whole. Grace upon grace will begin to shower over us in ways we cannot imagine. St. Joseph wants us to be holy; he wants us to put in an effort to live the daily spiritual exercises that are so challenging for us to live. In consecrating ourselves to his patronage, he will intercede and help us grow in this way. Entrusting ourselves to him will see the parishes, and individuals, become more and more Christ-centered. Please consider joining in this endeavor – it truly will change your life.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

January 1, 2021

The Apostles’ Column

1/3/2021

Let My Heart be your star…

“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.”

St. Peter Chrysologus

Have you ever considered that all of creation, the world and everything in it, is actually a monarchy? We refer to Jesus as King, and so He is: King of the Universe and thus King of this earthly monarchy. He is the one King, the rightful King, all loving and knowing…an eternal King.

Recently I sat pondering the meaning of Christmas. It’s a challenging time for me every year, especially this year with COVID-19. Jesus is out of the picture for so many, many souls; and yet He came specifically for each and every person: to love and redeem us; to deliver us from sin and hell; to exemplify all virtue; to draw us into His heart and teach us how to love. This little King had/has His work cut out for Him. But because He is our King we owe Him our best in every moment.

Today’s Gospel (Mt 2:1-12) introduces a few major ‘characters’ that come into play after the Birth of Christ: Herod and the Magi. Herod was the epitome of cruelty and evil. He was aware of The Birth (of the newborn King of the Jews); he wasn’t alone in feeling greatly troubled, for so was all Jerusalem with him; he felt threatened because his own kingship was in jeopardy; and his pride resulted in the slaughter of many innocent children. The Magi, on the other hand, were the epitome of holiness: the Star was a sign that they did not ignore; they dropped everything and followed it, eventually finding the Holy Family and bowing down to pay homage and give exquisite gifts to the Lord.

Jesus’ birth on Christmas was beheld by so few: Mary and Joseph of course, and the angels and a handful of Jewish shepherds. But Epiphany marks the manifestation of God to all nations, essentially the beginning of the universal (catholic) Church. The Magi represent the rest of the world (the Gentiles), a reminder that God’s plan of salvation is for all people, and that He reaches out to each one of us through the Church. God wants us to find Jesus so He gives each of us a ‘star’. It’s one thing to simply gaze upon our star; it’s quite another to see it and without hesitation set out to find its meaning. Consider how many millions of souls, since the world began, have seen their star and disregarded it, resulting in a missed opportunity to leave the darkness and enter the light.

The ‘star’ is simply knowledge and grace, a ‘program’ of life’s spiritual disciplines if you will. We can come to know the truth, but we also have to act on that truth in charity and faith. So it involves learning, through reading Holy Scripture, the lives of the saints, and the teachings of the Church; but it also involves a continual growth in grace, through the sacraments, prayer, service, forgiveness and mercy.

So what does my particular star look like? Is it tiny and flickering, or big and bright? Perhaps in 2021 each of us is being called in a new way to follow our star and search for its meaning. Most of us focus on New Year’s resolutions in early January, some more seriously than others; perhaps this year our focus can be primarily on Jesus instead of the world. Here are some ideas for resolutions in the coming year:

  • Humble ourselves to make the effort, like the Magi, to find, worship and serve this Great King.
  • Go to Jesus daily in prayer.
  • Read Holy Scripture daily.
  • Obey God in every moment.
  • Be a witness to Christ in word and deed.
  • Trust God in all areas of life.

That’s a pretty general list. What can we do specifically to get on track with this? Jesus has an answer: think of the star as a daily “Rule of Life”, a Horarium (Latin for “the hours”), which is extremely helpful for keeping us grounded in Christ. It is a daily schedule that governs our time, encompassing the three pillars of a Christ-centered life: prayer, service (work) and community. A daily plan helps us discipline ourselves and over time implement good habits and virtues. Below is an example daily schedule. Perhaps it can be a backbone: fill in the times and tailor the sections to your own life. It takes effort, no doubt; but the sacrifice will be worth it.

  • Awaken (same time every morning)
  • Morning routine* – prayer, meal, preparing self and others for the day
  • Morning work – it could be a job outside the home; or chores for the stay-at-home parent; or charitable service. For kids it is school time!
  • Noon routine – the Angelus (or other prayer) and a noon meal
  • Afternoon work
  • Dinner
  • Evening routine* – prayer (family Rosary), leisure time, prep self and others for bed
  • Spiritual reading & examination of conscience
  • Lights out (same time every evening)*Include in your morning or evening routine regular Mass, confession and Eucharistic Adoration.

Let Jesus’ Heart be your star. Find it, fix your gaze on it and never lose sight of it. And like the Magi, give Him your most precious gifts: the gold of your love and charity; the frankincense of your prayer; and the myrrh of your self-denial.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

December 20, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

12/20/2020

The Greatest Yes…

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

St. Augustine

The calendar year is drawing to a close, but our liturgical year has only just begun. With God’s grace our joyful anticipation of the Birth of our Savior is beginning to mount. Although The Annunciation is a holyday that falls on March 25th each year, we are blessed this Fourth Sunday of Advent with Luke’s Gospel passage of the Angelic Salutation. In this passage we are introduced to the mystery of The Incarnation, God taking on flesh in the womb of Mary. In this great mystery we see a virgin conceiving a child, a child who is truly man and truly God.

How does this Gospel (Lk 1:26-38) help us to focus on our three pillars of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ: prayer, service in the Church and community? Our on-going conversion must include these three pillars so it’s good to revisit them periodically to examine how we are advancing in our spiritual lives.  

First, let’s examine prayer. Without The Incarnation, I’m fairly certain that none of us would be here today. The angel Gabriel’s salutation to Mary is the basis for the Ave Maria prayer, i.e. the Hail Mary, as well as the Angelus. Our daily spiritual exercises benefit from these prayers, which are, in essence, the re-living of the mystery of God taking on flesh. Every time we pray the Rosary we are honoring Mary, full of grace, and the Fruit of her womb; even if our Rosary is simply rote and we are unable to enter into it in our hearts, we are remembering God’s great gift to Mary and humanity. The Angelus is typically prayed at 6:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm. Traditionally, Angelus Bells were rung at these hours (and still are in many places). When I visited Ireland years ago, the people walking the streets would immediately stop what they were doing at the sound of the Angelus Bells, kneel in place and pray the Hail Mary three times. What a great way to center our lives on The Incarnation of Christ periodically throughout our day!

Second, our good works. Each of us, in the lives we live, in the work that we do, in the talents that we use, make present some aspect of Jesus. Good works stem from living a virtuous and holy life. To fully serve as God calls us to serve, whether in our families, at work, in our parishes or the community at large, we must strive to imitate Mary. She was full of grace, and we can be too if we keep our hearts turned to her. In a great little book Meditations for Every Day of the Year, Bishop Challoner summarizes well what it takes to imitate Mary: she was full of faith and hope; full of charity, both in loving God and neighbor; she was full of virtue, notably humility, obedience, patience, meekness and gentleness; she was full of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit; her memory was full of holy thoughts; her understanding full of the light of God and divine truths; and her will full of fervent acts of zeal, a desire for the glory of God, of the coming of the Messiah, and redemption for the world.  Reading this summary of Mary’s life, I consider that I will never approach it; but with God, all things are possible.          

And third, community. This Gospel passage epitomizes Mary in community with the Holy Trinity. God the Father, through the message of an angel, invites Mary to become the mother of God the Son. She doesn’t doubt God’s will for her, but she does doubt her understanding of that will, so she asks Him for clarity. There is no hesitation, and the bond of love she shares with her spouse, the Holy Spirit, is strengthened as He overshadows her and The Incarnation is complete. We too must be in communion with the Holy Trinity at all times. We must never doubt God’s will. We must avoid asking God for a sign of His will for us; and instead surrender ourselves, trusting Him implicitly, asking Him to show us the way to go. Our ‘yes’ to God makes room for Christ in this fallen world.

Luke’s Gospel passage is well worth reflecting on over the coming days as we approach Christmas. I found a great Lectio Divina (Latin for ‘Divine Reading’) published by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that would make a wonderful daily spiritual exercise for this last week of Advent, a time for daily meditation and reflection on The Incarnation of Our Lord.  What better way to prepare for Christmas than to ready our hearts fully to welcome Him when He comes?

As the week progresses, let’s focus on these three key aspects of our devotion to Mary:

  • Mary as perfection – Hail Mary, full of grace…
  • Mary’s humility – Behold the handmaid of the Lord…
  • Mary’s complete surrender and total trust – Be it done unto me according to Thy word…

We are all created for a specific purpose. That purpose may not be revealed to each of us as dramatically as it was for Mary, but God does reveal our purpose if we listen to Him in the silence. True devotion to Mary, echoing her ‘yes’ and imitating her virtue, leads us to true love of Jesus. Once He hears our ‘yes’, He will truly come into our hearts, and our salvation will then be at hand.

Mary’s greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

December 13, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

12/13/2020

Rejoice…

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Luke 1:46-47

Advent is a penitential season, as we all know; yet this Sunday gives us a brief respite, a break from the somberness that seems to characterize the season.  The Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin), and it is a day to rejoice and be glad because the birth of the Christ is near.  The Advent candle is pink, and the priest wears rose-colored vestments on this day to represent joyfulness and a time to praise God.

It’s also a time to focus on the joyful message of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel (Jn 1:6-8, 19-28): that he came as a witness to the light, so that through him all might believe. In his humility John tells us that he is simply the voice, and that someone greater than him is coming.  He encourages all of us to make straight the way of the Lord.

This Gospel reminds us too that we are the Church, and we are called to bear witness to Christ. We must strive to emulate John the Baptist, in his courage, his humility, in his focus on and faithfulness to Christ.  We must do so by leading others to Jesus in our words and deeds, in good times and bad, when it is uncomfortable to do so, and even when it is potentially perilous.

How are we applying the message of this Gospel in our own lives, in our own apostolates?  What is “the way of the Lord?” Have I examined what that means exactly, and how I’m to live it out?  Am I prepared to step out of my comfort zone to seek out the fullness of life and share it with others, or is my heart closed to it, am I rejecting it outright?  Am I refusing to welcome Christ into my life?

Gaudete Sunday ushers in the final days of Advent as we wind down to Christmas.  It is a time of encouragement as we continue our spiritual preparation in anticipation of this most holy season; and a time to behold God’s infinite power and majesty as we ponder the birth of Jesus, God made man, soon coming to us as a tiny and fragile baby.

What special things can we do to continue our spiritual preparation for Christmas?

  • Rejoice with Mary by praying the Rosary – the Joyful Mysteries are proper for the Sundays of Advent.
  • Celebrate Gaudete Sunday by having a special dinner and dessert!
  • Make Gaudete Sunday a day of giving – help others in need with food or monetary donations.
  • In the coming days, take the family on an outing to pick out the Christmas tree.
  • Reflect on your small successes from the past week.  Take joy in those victories!
  • Get the kids together to make Christmas cookies and have hot cocoa. Consider wrapping some cookies as little gift bundles to give away to neighbors.
  • Two classic movies focus on repentance, a major theme of Advent: It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Take time to watch these and reflect on how they fit in with preparing the way of the Lord.
  • Begin praying the O Antiphons this coming week starting on December 17th.  Each antiphon addresses the Lord with names given to Him in Old Testament prophecy.
  • Make Christmas cards and mail to family and friends.

There is a lot to do in the coming days, but let’s try our best to stay in Advent until it ends.  Take time to add a few more decorations around the house, but remember to save the full celebration of Christmas for the Christmas season (which begins Dec 24th at midnight and goes through The Baptism of the Lord or Theophany, celebrated Jan. 10, 2021 this liturgical year)!

The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear, and eyes to see you will recognize Him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord!.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

December 6, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

12/6/2020

We Are All Messengers…

“And you, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way.”

From the Canticle of Zechariah, Lk. 1:76

Today’s Gospel (Mk 1:1-8) recounts the prophecy of Isaiah: that a messenger will be sent to prepare the way.  We hear the name of that messenger: John the Baptist, and that he proclaimed a baptism of repentance and the forgiveness of sins.  People flocked to him to hear his words, to acknowledge their sins and be baptized in the River Jordan.  There’s a two-fold message in this passage: first, that each of us must recognize our own sinfulness and ask forgiveness from God; and second, that we are all called to testify to the Light in order to help others turn to God.

John’s example of humility and poverty were like a magnet for people.  His words were simple yet profound as he preached about turning away from pride, arrogance, greed and the like.  Baptism in the Jordan was not a Sacramental Baptism; but it did symbolize the desire of individuals to turn away from selfishness and become faithful to the will of God. 

Advent is not just for ourselves.  True, we must examine our hearts, and strive to remove all traces of selfishness, impatience and laziness; we must prepare our hearts to be ready for His Birth.  But, if we keep all of it to ourselves – the message of repentance and forgiveness; the message of love in the Gospel – imagine how many souls would be deprived of God’s grace! 

This special season of Advent passes very quickly, so let us all be humble messengers of the Lord, first preparing our own hearts and then encouraging others to do the same.  Here are some practical steps we can take to prepare the way:

  • Repent. Feel remorse/regret for wrongdoing. Examine your conscience and ask God to reveal your sins.

  • Go to Confession. Be cleansed and absolved. Fr. Leonardo is in the confessional several times each week:
    • Wednesdays, 11:30 am at Queen of Angels
    • Fridays, 8:00 am at St. Joseph
    • Saturdays, 3:30 pm at St. Joseph
    • Sundays, 1:45 pm at Queen of Angels
  • Await Christ’s Birth with excitement and anticipation.  Fill your heart with hope and joy.  Leave behind fear, anxiety, depression and anger.
  • Pray – and let others see you in prayer.
  • Spend time with your family/friends/co-workers – get to know them better; listen with empathy.
  • Share with a friend or family member something you are waiting for.  Encourage others who may be tired of waiting. 
  • Rejoice in the good – build people up with your words.  We all deserve to have our souls lifted to God by others, not trampled underfoot by them!
  • Create a list of things that you know God is asking you to do in the coming year (e.g. get back to Mass; read the Bible; pray a daily Rosary; call a homebound family member or friend once a week; forgive someone; smile). Keep this list in a prominent place in your house – like on the bathroom mirror!!  Pray for the grace to make at least one of these things a habit over the coming year.
  • Be a living witness of a virtuous and holy life.
  • Talk about Jesus to others.  Express your faith.  Let people know why you love Jesus so much!

Let us all go before the Lord to prepare His way…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

November 29, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

11/29/2020

O Come Let Us Adore Him…

“When we come to the Blessed Sacrament, we come to Bethlehem.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

And so it begins… The season of Advent… the start of the next liturgical year. The days are shorter, which means there is greater darkness; and they are colder as winter sets in. Certainly in nature things are still and subdued, like the first snowfall when a great peace settles over everything. But why do we need this liturgical season? Why can’t we simply go from Ordinary Time to Christmas?

This important liturgical season ushers in Christ’s advent (“coming”) into the world. It’s meant to be a time of spiritual preparation, but for most people it’s a time of material preparation as we get caught up in the demands of daily life: family customs and traditions, gift-buying, decorating the house or workplace, playing Christmas music, baking, party planning, etc. These material preparations seem to go on for weeks, often starting well before Halloween these days! This season of peace (Advent) has become a season of frenzy…

God gives us Advent to help us step back from the frenzy and find the peace. It is an opportunity to spiritually prepare ourselves and our families for the coming of our Savior, and to reflect on the fact that God is always with us, particularly in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is a time for greater silence: of speech, of action, of the mind and heart. It is a time for gentle prayer, perhaps letting go of some of our daily vocal prayers and contemplating Christ in our hearts, without words.

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has been taught since the days of the Apostles, but it was the Council of Trent that led to the start of widespread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. That widespread devotion lasted for hundreds of years; but over the past decades it has waned. I’ve mentioned before the Pew Survey done in August 2019 which showed that 69% of self-identified Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. That’s 2/3 of all Catholics. Before the pandemic, about 1000 people came to Mass each weekend between our two parishes. Consider the stunning fact, based on the results of that Pew Survey, that perhaps 660 of those parishioners don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. That is a staggering notion. Lord, now more than ever, help my unbelief…

I was recently reflecting on Mary and Joseph as they prepared for the birth of Jesus, and I understood in my heart that the “practice” or devotion of Eucharistic Adoration didn’t start with the early Church; rather it began with this most holy couple, before Jesus was even born. My mind was drawn to the idea of Mary as a tabernacle, carrying Jesus in her womb, waiting in joyful anticipation of His coming. He was inside of her, and I imagine her heart and soul were adoring Him constantly. And Joseph must have knelt lovingly with Mary in her pregnancy at times, adoring Jesus as He grew in her womb.

After Jesus’ birth, adoration continued, not just by Mary and Joseph, but the shepherds and the angels as well…and later the Magi. At the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, Simeon gave glory to God, and so did Anna. These were acts of Eucharistic Adoration, worshiping God, giving Him thanks and praise, exalting Him in the Eucharist (the infant Jesus).

The Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is a mystery, which means we are not meant to understand it fully. But we are meant to believe it; it is foundational to our Faith. If you believe that Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, was born in Bethlehem in a lowly manger, then believe that He is present to you here and now. Come and discover Him dwelling in your heart by spending time with Him this Advent. O come, let us adore Him… 

We are blessed to offer time for private, silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament each Sunday evening during Advent. We will alternate parishes, and Adoration will be live-streamed for those who are unable to get to the church. What better place to slow down, to be silent, to pray gently and lovingly and to discover Jesus in your heart. Jesus is waiting for you. He wants to love you Face-to-face… Come, be with Him…

Queen of Angels Parish – Nov. 29 and Dec. 16, from 6:00 – 7:30 pm
St. Joseph Parish – Dec. 6 and Dec. 20 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm

“The mystery of the Eucharist gives us the joy of having Christmas every day.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

November 22, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

11/22/2020

Who are the sheep, Lord…?

“When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessing of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.”

Pope Pius XI

The Gospel this week (Mt 25:31-46) completes Christ’s teaching about what lies in store for all of us. Jesus holds in His hands the eternal destiny of every single man and woman ever created, for all time – past, present and future. Imagine the line-up in front of the King on the last day: thousands upon thousands of souls waiting to give account of their lives, to the minutest detail. A basic tenet of our Catholic Faith is this final judgment by The King. We profess it each time we recite The Creed: I believe…He [Jesus Christ] will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end. But why is it important? I’m Catholic… I believe in God… I pray… Doesn’t that mean I will go to heaven when I die?

Jesus is a just King, but I can only imagine the pain in His heart when He has to separate sheep from goats on the last day. He’s done so very much to help us prepare: He took on flesh (the Incarnation) to teach us in ways that we humans could understand; He gave us the Church, the deposit of our Faith, with the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen her; and He gave us the Sacraments, most especially Himself in the Eucharist, as reassurance that He is with us always, as promised. Why would a King go to such lengths?

Remember, each of us was created in His image, to be with Him forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. The last judgment is our final reunion with Him after years of journeying on this earth. We should anticipate that reunion with great excitement, and joy in our hearts; but do we? Or, is our anticipation of the last day filled with fear and trepidation? If Jesus came down today, would He number you with the sheep or with the goats? There is no in-between, no spectrum of differentiation. It is very sobering to have only these two choices in the end.

We, as children of the King, do rightfully have an inheritance; but to receive it, we must be holy. There is no other way. I would wager that both the sheep and even many of the goats are considered “believers”; but the distinction between them is vast after that, and we recognize them by the way they lead their lives. Recall some months ago when I spoke about the Apostolate of Love? I explained that it is essentially the intersection of our lives of prayer, service and community. An apostolate is the work of the laity; the work of bringing others to the knowledge and love of Christ, so as to help with the salvation of their souls. Those who are the sheep are living this Apostolate of Love; they are right with God; while those who are the goats, although many appear pious and may indeed perform acts of charity, are not right with God; their motivation is self-centered instead of Christ-centered. Sobering distinction indeed: one destined to inherit eternal life; the other destined for eternal damnation.

As the liturgical year comes to a close, let’s take a really hard look at our lives and ask ourselves some basic questions:

  • How have I loved?
  • How have I cared for others?
  • I am called not just to avoid doing wrong or harm, but to go out of my way to do good and to serve others. How have I done this over the past year?
  • Is my motivation truly Christ-centered? If not, what do I specifically need to do to detach from my ego and pride?
  • Am I doing a lot for God at the expense of being fully Christ-like? How do I begin to make changes in who I am, and focus less on what I do?

Living a virtuous life puts us right with God (think sheep); and once we are right with God, loving Him for His own sake, we will begin to serve others for love of Him.  This is what ensures our inheritance of eternal happiness in Heaven.  The Daily Examen is a technique described and practiced by St. Ignatius of Loyola, which helps us grow in virtue.  Through prayerful reflection on the events of our day, we can detect God’s presence in our lives, see His hand at work, and discern His direction for us.  Consider starting this practice. This basic, simple examen (click here to download or print) is an easy form for a nightly spiritual review of your day.  For those who are interested in something a little more rigorous, you might explore this option: some years ago I came across a most helpful booklet, published in 1959, which has the Imprimatur, entitled Examination of Conscience for Adults  (click here to download or print). It is a comprehensive examen based on twelve of the virtues, and would make an excellent spiritual exercise over the coming year, taking one virtue each month.

The bottom line is that we need to prepare now for the Lord’s Second Coming.  Let each of us become as holy as we can be.  Let’s be counted as sheep on the last day, and inherit The Kingdom.  St. Augustine, in his commentary on The Last Judgment, had sage advice for all of us: be merciful before He comes; forgive whatever has been done against you; give of your abundance; and live the sacrifices most pleasing to God: mercy, humility, praise, peace and charity.

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

November 15, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

11/15/2020

Well Done, My Good and Faithful Servant…

“When a Christian kills time on this earth, he is putting himself in danger of ‘killing heaven’ for himself.”

St. Josemaria Escriva

Jesus continues His Gospel parables this week with the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30). Once again we are instructed about preparedness, and that our eternal destiny depends on our own contribution to the growth of The Kingdom. If we do not put in the effort to invest in The Kingdom, we will be thrown into the darkness. It’s another clear teaching that there are only two choices at the end of life on this earth….

Each of us has received a unique set of talents; gifts that God has bestowed upon us as particular grace: from our very lives; to the material goods that we rely on each day; to our family and friends; to our faith. Everything is a gift. God has also given us free will, which means we have the choice to use these gifts wisely, or squander them away. One key factor in our choice: time is finite and we know not how much of it we have left; one day our opportunity will be lost, so it behooves us to begin increasing the wealth of The Kingdom now if we have not already done so.

Jesus implores us to respond to our particular grace, and to keep up the effort for our entire lives. We are on a mission: certainly one for His glory, but also one that puts the responsibility of salvation into each of our hands, salvation not only for our own souls, but the souls of others as well. It’s a scary thought, this immense responsibility; and most of us shy away from it. But God wants us to trust Him and to have confidence in the talents He has given us. It’s not about the actual talents themselves, how many we have received or what they are; what matters is that we generously put them to good use.

How does all of this fit in to the three pillars of living a Christ-centered life: prayer, service in the Church, and community/fellowship? The first step is to identify what talents God has given you; and the second step is to identify how you can use those talents to serve God. This week, as we begin to wind down the liturgical year and move towards Advent, set aside some quiet time to make a list of the talents and skills that God has given you, and determine how you can best use them to build up The Kingdom. Perhaps you are called to an apostolate of prayer; or maybe your talents lead you to serve the poor and under-served of our communities; maybe you have a talent for welcoming people or teaching, or standing on a street-corner as a witness for pro-life efforts; perhaps it is an apostolate of evangelization. If you aren’t sure, take time to pray; ask God why He’s given you a particular talent that you have not put into service. He will give you an answer if you ask….

The bottom line is that we must tarry no longer. We will face Jesus one day, and He will ask for an accounting of all the gifts that we have received. Let us work diligently now and for the rest of our earthly lives, so that He will reward us at death with eternal life in Heaven: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ (Mt 25:21)

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

November 8, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

11/8/2020

The Need for Vigilance…

“If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power
to change their lives…”

Blessed Virgin Mart to St. Jacinta of Fatima

This week’s Gospel (Mt 25:1-13) is one that I have always found challenging.  It’s another parable with lots of symbolism, and it requires piecing together all the details in order to understand the meaning.  At the heart, however, it is another parable about The Kingdom of Heaven.

The bridegroom is, of course, Jesus.  The ten maidens or virgins represent the Church: Christians who have been called and responded to that call.  The torch is the light of faith within each one of us as Christians; and the oil is the actual grace from God which allows us to have that faith in the first place.  The bridegroom’s arrival symbolizes Christ’s Second Coming; and the door closing represents The Final Judgment.  Taking all of this together, it is clear that this is a parable about salvation: preparedness leads to Heaven whereas lack of it leads to Hell (Jesus saying, “I do not know you” indicates the rejection of Him by the foolish maidens.)  But it is abundantly clear that there is work involved; that we must put in the effort to be saved; it’s not a given by any means.  And at some point in time we lose the opportunity and the door is closed…

It is important to note that the ten maidens were all alike except for one detail: five of them neglected to bring oil…they weren’t prepared.  On first glance we might sense that the wise maidens were simply selfish in not sharing their oil; but no, there wasn’t enough to go around; and, with this Jesus is simply teaching us that we are all accountable for our own choices in life.

Although Jesus is actually referring to a future event in this parable, His Second Coming, He’s directing us to prepare now.  He’s reminding us that our lamps need to be lit before the bridegroom comes, and that we must watch so that the lamps don’t go out and find us caught off-guard.  What a shock it would be in the end to realize that we had not done enough in this life to work out our salvation!

How do we put this parable into practice in our own lives, get prepared and remain vigilant?  How do we stay with the wise maidens and not become foolish maidens?  How do we work out our salvation on a practical level, beginning now?  There are basically three key factors: actually getting onto the road itself; continuing to move forward on the road until we reach the end; and getting back on the road when we veer off of it.  This is the only way to get to Heaven…

  1. Actual grace. This comes directly from God.  Recognizing that we cannot make the journey alone is the very first step.  But we must start by turning our hearts to God, through prayer and reading Scripture.
  2. Believing the truths of the Catholic Church and adhering to God’s Commandments.  It’s no longer about what we want, but what God wants for us.  We must be open and obedient to God’s will for us, which can be very challenging.
  3. Good works. Sitting on the fence, being idle…these stall us.  The road to salvation is paved with service to the Church.  We must live out our faith to stay on the road.
  4. A Sacramental life. Immersing ourselves in the life and prayer of the Church, especially liturgical prayer, full participation in the Mass.  (In these days of COVID-19 restrictions this is challenging, to say the least!  Consider attending Mass regularly if it is safe for you to do so.)

     

  5. Fellowship and community. Gathering together has become more and more difficult in this age of COVID-19 restrictions.  But connecting with fellow Catholics is vital to our salvation: we lift each other up; we learn from one another; sharing our faith with others strengthens us for the long journey.  Be proactive in this: join a virtual small group when offered, like the current Metanoia series, or Marian consecration; host a Zoom prayer gathering or devotion, like Stations of the Cross, each person in the group taking a Station; phone another parishioner and “have tea”, making prayer an integral part of the conversation; have a virtual “pancake breakfast” with other families on a Sunday once a month, and add in a virtual family Rosary; etc.
  6. Reconciliation and Penance. Remember that sin destroys our relationship with God, but also our relationship with other members of the Mystical Body of Christ.  Our transgressions have significant impact, seen and unseen; they cause us to veer off the road.  In the Sacrament of Confession, the priest has the power (from God) to absolve our sins; he then imposes a penance, a ‘work’ of reparation, to repair the damage done by our sins.  This is how we get back on the road…

Life is a series of conversions, changes that take place in us every day.  They get harder, and more demanding as we continue on our journey; but we mustn’t see that as an obstacle, or fear it.  We must be ever-watchful, ever vigilant and ready at every turn.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

November 1, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

11/1/2020

All saints go to Heaven…

Lake Tiberias as seen from the Mount of Beatitudes. Photo: Olevy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life…”

St. Augustine – On the Sermon on the Mount

Mercy and peace in abundance from Almighty God and Christ Jesus our Savior!

The Beatitudes in this week’s Gospel (Mt 5:1-12) are not something that Jesus simply describes in passing. He has intentionally gone to the top of the mount; He intentionally waits until the disciples (the followers of Christ) have gathered and quieted down; and then He intentionally begins to unveil the Truth. I visited the Holy Land last year, and part of our pilgrimage was the purported site of The Sermon on the Mount. It is a beautiful area very near the Sea of Galilee. The valley is like a natural amphitheater, so I imagine that Jesus was heard by the multitude who had gathered there, although I also imagine that for most of them Jesus was simply a curiosity.

Beatitude means blessing; but in the context of this Gospel passage the word has far greater meaning. It’s not about a simple blessing, i.e. that Jesus is extending a blessing over the crowd with His teaching. Rather, Jesus is leading us with this discourse to the heart of all human desire: happiness. The Beatitudes embody the ultimate in happiness, in blessedness: a state of personal holiness that exemplifies the core Christian virtues of humility, gentleness, mercy, justice, purity, and fortitude. With this teaching, Jesus invites us to ponder what it’s like to live in the Kingdom of God, for The Beatitudes lead the way to God. In them, Jesus is describing Himself, The Way; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this: “The Beatitudes depict the countenance [face] of Jesus Christ and portray His charity.” (CCC 1717)

But why this particular Gospel passage for The Solemnity of All Saints? It’s simple really: All Saints is a feastday reminding us that we, as humans, are made to spend eternity with God in heaven. We benefit from The Beatitudes to the extent that we examine them in this light, i.e. in light of eternal salvation. We are called not only to live them, but to be them; and as we aim for this here on earth, the doors of the Kingdom will be opened to us.

The saints follow Jesus all the way to Heaven. They never give up; they never turn back; they surmount every obstacle. They are examples of how to do things well in this earthly life; how to make good, yet often very difficult choices. The Beatitudes point to these good choices, but God leaves it to us to decide for ourselves; it ultimately becomes a choice between life and death.

Christ’s teachings must be either fully accepted or fully rejected. Saints are souls with the courage to fully accept Christ’s teachings. Saints are souls with the courage to be different; to stand out from the crowd. They are the souls who understand the repercussions of following Jesus: being insulted, persecuted and slandered; and yet they also know the joy in following Jesus. Let’s all strive for the courage to live what Jesus Christ considers a blessing, and to be saints here on earth so we can continue as saints in everlasting life.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

October 25, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

10/25/2020

The Greatest Commandments of All…

In the name of the Lord who loves us, peace be to you!

“The reason for loving God is God Himself.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

In the Gospel this week (Mt 22:34-40), Jesus teaches us that the entire law is summed up in two commands – not suggestions, but commands:

  • To love God with our whole heart, soul and mind;
  • And to love our neighbor as ourselves.

God doesn’t single anyone out of this command, meaning that we must even consider our enemies as our neighbors. This, indeed, can be most challenging.

These two commands go hand in hand; they are not exclusive of one another; rather, they are equally important in God’s eyes. Our pure love of neighbor is the ultimate proof of our love of God. And the virtue of charity encompasses this teaching. Charity 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. (CCC 1822)

Love of neighbor is one of the most difficult hurdles on our journey. What possible reason would there be to love someone who causes me grief; who drives me nuts; who treats me poorly? How can I love someone whose behavior is intolerable? From the moment of birth our lives are lived in relationship with others, relationships that can be positive or negative. Recall that ‘community’ is vital to living a Christ-centered life; but healthy community only comes when those relationships are loving.

For many years I struggled with this command of loving my neighbor, until one day I was reading a commentary on the writings of St. John of the Cross. The author said that we do not have to like a particular person, but we must love them. This helped me to understand the basic tenet that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and if I do not see them as God sees them, and love them as God loves them, I am failing to keep these two commandments. Whether I like the person or not is immaterial.

We are all created out of love. The fulfillment of our lives, our purpose in this earthly exile, takes place only in God’s love; and this love demands that we respond to others in charity. Do we practice this daily? One great habit to get into each evening before going to bed is an examination of our day: how did I live in God’s love today? How could I have done better? What do I need to change about myself in order to love others more deeply?

The great Saints realized something critical in this life: that God is love! To live that truth at the center of all we do, even the most mundane of tasks; to live it especially in our interactions with those who try us the most; this is the highest form of love. To want what is best for someone in order to achieve their salvation; this is what helping and caring for others is all about.

Throughout the New Testament Jesus clearly states that if we fail to live the Gospel message, if we fail to live these two commandments in particular, it is a rejection of Him. The thought of the eternal consequences of this rejection is disconcerting. We have two choices at the end of this life: heaven or hell. Let’s do our utmost to serve Christ in this life so we can be with Him in heaven for ever.

I end with six practical ways that we can begin to love our neighbors as ourselves, and truly live the Gospel message. (But the list is not exhaustive!) May each of us strive to put some of these into practice every day! What a change that would make in the world!

  1. Every week choose a person who is difficult to love and keep them in your heart. Pray especially for them. Love them for who they are and not who you want them to be.
  2. Bless and pray for those who persecute you.
  3. Connect with people. Interaction leads to connection which becomes a stepping stone for long-lasting friendships. In these days of Covid “stay home” orders and extraordinary use of technology, why not pick up a pen and paper and write someone a letter? It’s an amazing blessing to receive a hand-written note by snail mail!
  4. Go above and beyond for others. Jesus gave His life for us in the ultimate Sacrifice. What little thing can you give up on a daily basis to help someone else in need?
  5. Little acts of kindness and respect: say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; and each and every day make it a point to be gracious and thankful to (and for) everyone you meet.
  6. Slow down. Take time to be present to God by being present to others.

 

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

October 18, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

10/18/2020

Preparing for November… a time to remember…

Mercy and peace in abundance from Almighty God and Christ Jesus our Savior!

In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, in as much as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

II Maccabees 12:43-44

The month of November is traditionally a time when the Catholic Church remembers the dead. It is ushered in with a special triduum of feastdays:

All Hallows’ Eve | Oct. 31

The Vigil of All Saints’ Day, this is a time to ponder death: what to do in this life to gain eternal life in heaven; how to avoid eternal damnation in hell.

All Saints’ Day | Nov. 1

A time to honor the Church Triumphant: those souls who have entered the glory of heaven.

All Souls’ Day | Nov. 2

A time to commemorate the Church Suffering: those souls being purified before entering The Kingdom of God.

As we continue to focus on the three pillars of a Christ-centered life – prayer, service and community – the month of November is an opportune time to begin an apostolate of prayer for the dead. Recall that the Spiritual Works of Mercy are a form of service to the Church, and the last of the Spiritual Works is to pray for the living and the dead.

We cannot presume to know who is already in heaven, aside from the official Saints of the Church. We pray for the faithful departed, hoping that they have gone to heaven; but it’s not likely to be a straight shot for most of us! The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1030) teaches us:

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

Purgatory is real. Many people fear Purgatory because they don’t understand it in relation to Catholic teaching. It is not a place of punishment; on the contrary, it is God’s loving gift to humanity, a gift of mercy and pardon. We must be perfect to enter heaven. Until we are perfect, we will have to suffer in some capacity. Souls in Purgatory will enter heaven one day; their suffering will have been well worth it!

This year of COVID brings special challenges to all of us, but especially in regards to celebrating special Catholic feastdays in full community at Mass. We are limited in what we can do, but that is not going to hinder us from offering ways we can come together to pray for the dead. To this end, we’ve got some exciting opportunities now available:

Queen of Angels & St. Joseph Parishes Purgatorial Society

This is a new, informal and essentially unorganized group of parishioners who enroll themselves as part of an ongoing apostolate of prayer for the dead. It’s a type of “spiritual association” if you will. What does this informal commitment entail?

  • Enroll yourself for a year or a lifetime. No one is keeping track; it is simply a personal offering.
  • Pray a Rosary every Monday for the Faithful Departed.
  • Assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory with your Masses, devotions, and good works.

The “Book of the Dead”

Typically the book would be available to sign up names of deceased loved ones. However, we are not permitted to have items in the narthex of the church that could potentially lead to the spread of infection, so this year we have a new plan in place:

  • Between now and Nov. 1: submit names of your deceased loved ones.
  • Use this convenient online form or send your list to the parish office.
  • Names will be bundled and placed on the altar for the month of November.

Novena for the Octave of All Souls

  • There will be no All Souls’ Mass this year.
  • In preparation, after sunset on All Saints’ Day (Sunday, Nov 1st) light a candle at home and pray a Rosary for the dead.
  • Special candles will be lit by staff on the morning of Monday, Nov. 2 in each church, in honor of all of those parishioners who passed away this past year. We will post the names in the bulletin so everyone has access to the names.
  • The candles will be left burning through the Octave of All Souls’ – so please come to the church to pray for our fellow parishioners who have passed away over the last year.

Ongoing Registration List of the Deceased

  • Use the online registration form to add names to the list of deceased each month.
  • Parishioners may also drop off names of recently deceased family or friends to be included in the bundle each month.
  • We will bundle the names and place on the altar to be offered at Mass every First Friday beginning in January.

Other activities to honor the faithful departed

  • Visit the graves of deceased family or friends.
  • Pray The Divine Mercy Chaplet for those who are dying, for the grace of a holy and happy death.
  • Give alms in the way of lighting votive candles in the church, or offering Masses for the dead.
  • During the Rosary, substitute the following prayer in place of the Fatima Prayer at the end of each decade: Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
  • Pray The Little Litany to the Holy Souls in Purgatory (read here or listen here) or The Chaplet of the Dead (read here or listen here) weekly (or more frequently).

The dead deserve our prayers and sacrifices. Through our offerings and other acts of charity, we can assist the Holy Souls in Purgatory with their release into eternal peace and happiness. Pray especially for the souls who have languished there for a very long time, and those who have no one to pray for them by name.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

October 11, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

10/11/2020

Many are called but few are chosen…

Mercy and peace in abundance from Almighty God and Christ Jesus our Savior!

The Gospel this week (Mt 22:1-14) rounds out a triad of parables that deal with refusal and rejection. Along with the parable of The Two Sons and the parable of The Wicked Tenants, Jesus once again delves into the mystery of human freedom of choice.

Sometimes when I read parables I don’t understand the meaning fully; I’m not always good at piecing together what the different parts or players mean. If you have that difficulty too, don’t give up trying to understand them; the Gospel message is always worth exploring more fully.

The king in this parable represents God the Father, and the Bridegroom is Jesus. The wedding feast or banquet symbolizes the call to salvation, ultimately entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. The invited guests represent all of us. And lastly, the wedding garment embodies the virtue of charity, and the purity of heart needed to appear before God. When we make these connections we can begin to put the puzzle together.

The Kingdom of Heaven is where we are all intended to be, from the moment God first thought of us, even before we were created! The invitation to enter the Kingdom is extended to all and the ultimate aim is the good life. This is God’s most generous gift to us: the potential for eternal love and happiness with Him in Heaven. Our first duty then, would be to accept His gift, and do everything in our power to be at the banquet. But it’s not that way; the invited guests simply don’t want to come. “But they were not interested…” How many, many times I have made that choice in my life, and it really boils down to my ingratitude; a self-centered disregard for the generosity and goodness of God. It’s an ugly place to be…

So many of us find it easy to accept Christ in a basic way, but find it more difficult to accept Him on a more particular level: being called to share my faith in a small group; assisting in the Religious Education classes of our parish youth; adhering to the moral teachings of the Church; tithing; inviting a fallen away Catholic back to Mass. The list is endless. We hear about the “wide road” all the time (recall that it does not lead to Heaven); it is the road that doesn’t require me to change, or to venture out of my comfort zone. If I’m not interested in the invitation to the wedding banquet, if I don’t accept the invitation, I’m taking that wide road, and excluding myself from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Keep in mind that it’s not just about accepting the invitation, and attending the wedding banquet. We also have to be clothed in the wedding garment, because it stands for the Christian life; and that life is founded on humility and charity. Take a moment to reflect upon the fate of the guest who chose not to wear the garment (recall he accepted the invitation to the banquet and was in attendance, he simply was not clothed properly): “Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Yikes! This is akin to having faith, but not putting it into action; to believe without charity.

We all have a choice: to accept the invitation and attend the banquet, or to blow it off; to wear the wedding garment, or leave it behind. The greatest obstacle for most of us is the distractions of the routine of daily life. We have so many things vying for our attention, but God truly wants to be at the very top of our to-do list, and yet for so many, He’s not on the to-do list at all. What is preventing me from living out my faith fully? Why am I hesitant to be involved in a parish group or help with activities? Am I afraid to speak to others about Jesus, for fear that they will reject me? It is my Christian duty to serve the Church and to help others get to heaven; why does that frighten me? Is it because what God is calling me to do is an inconvenience that interrupts my own plans? Am I more dedicated to my work and recreation than to seeking Christ’s true meaning for my life? Am I seeking Christ at all?

Whatever you do, don’t refuse the invitation to the banquet; you have been chosen! Go to the wedding feast! Wear the wedding garment! And if you aren’t sure how to prepare for the banquet, always keep our three pillars in mind: prayer, service and community. Pray every day, no matter what. Serve in some capacity (take a peek at last week’s Apostles’ Column for simple ways to serve every day). And be with Christ by being with others in a sense of fellowship, to come together and exhibit evidence of a relationship with Jesus in our personal lives. This is what honors the King.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

October 4, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

10/4/2020

Tend the vineyard and produce good fruit…

Mercy and peace in abundance from Almighty God and Jesus Christ our Savior!

Today’s Gospel (Mt 21:33-43) follows right on the heels of the parables of the past couple of weeks. This parable of the vineyard points not only to the course of salvation history, but also to the course of our own lives and how we individually respond to God’s grace. Last week Jesus explained to us that the Kingdom of God belongs to those who obey His will and take it to heart, even if there is a delay in acting on it. This week, Jesus tells us that we risk losing the Kingdom altogether if we do not tend our vineyard and produce good fruit.

God is good and merciful, and exceedingly generous. It’s important for us to stop daily and reflect on just how generous God is. He has given us life; He has given us hope; He has redeemed us; and He has prepared a place of everlasting love and happiness for us, if we but cooperate with His grace. But He is also a just God, and this parable makes it clear that our lack of fidelity will ultimately lead to a path of destruction if we don’t work to produce God’s fruit, instead of our own.

It is easy for us to deplore the wickedness of the evil tenants in this parable. But, we would be well-served to examine our own lives in the way that we treat others. Do we destroy those that the landlord (God the Father) has sent to gather the fruit; or do we receive them in charity and loving kindness? Do we feign charity with our external actions, masking uncharitable hearts?

Each of us is a tenant in one form or another; but do we understand what constitutes the vineyard? Our family; our parish; our work; our community…everything we are, and everything around us comprises our personal vineyard. God gives each of us unique gifts and resources to tend our vineyards, and hopefully to help produce good fruit. But do we use them to the best of our ability? Do we use them at all? The mark of good stewardship is the wise and prudent use of our time, talent and treasure in raising a bumper crop of good fruit.

The degree to which we ignore the call to be good tenants corresponds to the degree to which we reject our share in the Kingdom. God wants each of us to be with Him in heaven one day, but we have to work towards getting there; we must put in the effort. Stepping away from our self-centered lives into Christ-centered lives helps us to become sharers in the Kingdom.

Here are some practical ways that we can serve God and our neighbor, i.e. be good tenants of the vineyard:

  1. Serve as family: be cooperative, kind and gentle with one another; be engaged in conversation; go on family outings and discover the beauty of creation; be interested in the health and well-being of each other; send a letter to grandma and grandpa; garden together; clean house together; pray together.
  2. Serve as parish: pray for our parish programs; support the Church financially (tithe); get involved in ministry, like serving at Mass, serving as a Homebound Minister, assisting with St. Vincent de Paul, working with the Respect Life Group, or helping award High School Scholarships; join a men’s or women’s fellowship group. Find a way to volunteer in some capacity – there is something for everyone!
  3. Serve as community: pray for conversions; evangelize by striving to live a Christian lifestyle, bearing witness to the Gospel in all you do; donate food to the poor; volunteer at community events; be a driver for people who have no means of transportation; become a foster parent; offer to do yard work for a neighbor; pick up trash when you find it. The list is endless….

Of course “service” is more challenging with COVID-19 restrictions; but there are indeed myriad ways to serve and be God’s good tenants every day, despite the perceived obstacles. God created each one of us for a special role in His plan of salvation. Be grateful for being created; be grateful for the opportunity to serve Him each day, no matter the cost or the reward.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

September 27, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

9/27/2020

Saying ‘no’ to God…

Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord!

In today’s Gospel (Mt 21:28-32), Jesus gives us a parable about conversion: that personal change is marked by those times when we realize we’ve made a wrong choice and we try to rectify it somehow. In the parable God commands two things: 1) to work; and 2) to work today. So He’s telling us that we must avoid being idle, and that there is a sense of urgency in this command.

When we hear the word “work” we typically associate it with employment…a job. But in the biblical sense, “work” is really about action of some kind, action through which we seek to be accepted by God. That action might be prayer; or some type of service in the Church; or something that builds community. In this Year of the Eucharist (in the Archdiocese of Seattle), we are called to take action to change our lives and become more Christ-centered.

Every day I am faced with choices, and I know that I fall frequently to the response of one son or the other in today’s Gospel parable. I am blind at times to the degree of selfish indifference that I exhibit when I really don’t want to do something. I am blind too on occasion to the false commitment that I sometimes give, those times when I really have no intention of following through. I say “blind” because sometimes I’m either unwilling or unable to perceive Jesus in the situations that are put before me. I’m “spiritually” blind at times. God calls me to prayer each evening, but I sometimes give the excuse of fatigue after a long day at work. God calls me to spend time pulling weeds or cleaning the bathroom, but I blow it off because I’d rather watch old cowboy shows on TV. God calls me to invite a friend out for a day hike, but I make some excuse because I’m “peopled-out”. I fail so often to stop and consider that “work” is those choices I am faced with every day; and God wants me to say “yes” to Him, and do the things He’s calling me to do, not begrudgingly, but joyfully; and not tomorrow, but today.

The “work” of the vineyard needs to be done, and it’s something we are all expected to do, not just a chosen few. So what does that “work” look like?

  • We can all pray – even a little bit each day is better than none.
  • We can read Scripture or other spiritual reading – even for 10 minutes a day.
  • We can invite someone back to Mass.
  • We can invite our spouse or child(ren) to turn away from destructive behaviors and move to a life of love.
  • We can consider the Corporal and Spiritual “Works” of Mercy and explore how to live them in our own lives.
  • We can get involved in the parish: for example Knights of Columbus or the Catholic women’s groups; St. Vincent de Paul Society; Respect Life Groups; Legion of Mary; etc. These are service groups that give us an opportunity to help others; and in that, help ourselves and others come to know Christ in a special way.

Jesus is calling us to the fullness of life. He’s asking us to be doers, not just say-ers, which means that our words and our actions must be in agreement. Am I responding to His call with faith and trust; or am I consistently saying “no” in one form or another? Am I constantly dragging my feet in doing what God wants? Putting off good deeds (good “works”), or saying “no” to God outright, is the sin of omission; it’s the choice to not perform some action that God has called me to perform. How often in a day do I choose the easy way out…

Every step of our personal journey is an opportunity to do something to draw nearer to Christ. Every step is a choice: to serve God simply out of love; or to avoid something I really don’t want to do (for the Father). Today, and every day, let’s strive to do one thing that we’ve been neglecting. Let’s take action, and “work” for the salvation of our souls and the souls of others.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

September 20, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

9/20/2020

The Power of Prayer and Fasting…

Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord!

If you’re like me, you are watching the approach of the upcoming election with a sense of vigilance, understanding that prior to every presidential election there is political posturing and back-stabbing that takes place. This year is unprecedented, however, in that the Church is in a pivotal position, with so many theological and moral truths in question. Well-meaning and pious Catholics often make poor choices, not fully understanding the contentious issues. Many Catholics disregard the issues and fall in line with the crowd, agreeing to rules and modes of behavior that are generally accepted rather than founded on the teachings of the Church. Sometimes it’s founded in fear; but often it’s simply a lack of understanding and acceptance of the truths of our Faith. What can we, as apostles of the Church, do as we edge ever-closer to election day?

First, educate yourself on the moral principles of the Catholic Church. EWTN has a great “Catholic Voter’s Guide”; and the USCCB (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) has provided the document Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship . Please read through this valuable information. In addition, take the time to learn about the candidates and their platforms (most candidates have their own website with information about how they stand on the issues). This can be challenging, as sometimes the information is sketchy or even non-existent. But do make an effort to truly understand where the candidates lie with regard to moral issues. It is our obligation to vote, and to do so responsibly and according to Catholic teaching. Inform yourself so you can vote according to your conscience. Please see today’s bulletin for more information.

Second, there are two spiritual practices that are vitally important as we approach significant events in Church history: prayer and fasting. In the book Freed and Healed Through Fasting, Sister Emmanuel, the author, starts off with a message from the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje (January 25, 2001). There is one line in particular that jumps out at me: “Little children, the one who prays is not afraid of the future and the one who fasts is not afraid of evil.” The most powerful prayer we can pray is the Mass; so please attend Mass and pour your heart out to Jesus for His mercy on the world. But the second most powerful prayer we can pray is the Rosary. If you want to understand the power of the Rosary, read the Catholic historical account of The Battle of Lepanto! It will blow your socks off! So please pray the Rosary daily, for the conversion of souls, for unity and peace in our country, and that God’s will be done in this election.

Fasting is something that we should begin to practice if we haven’t already started. I am reminded of the story of Esther in the Old Testament, when she fasted leading up to an important event in Jewish history. The Jews of her time fasted in order to seek victory in battle against their enemies. And fasting for us can have the same purpose: we are in battle against the enemies of God, so let us control our passions, and in that sacrifice and suffering unite ourselves to Christ for the reparation of the sins of humanity, and ultimately to defeat Satan. If your health permits it, take up the fast of old between now and the election: nothing by mouth except bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. If you cannot fast from food, find another form of fasting: get up an hour earlier and spend that time in prayer; go without TV or non-essential digital/computer time; abstain from caffeinated beverages; eat smaller portions at each meal; spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration each week instead of some other activity; etc. Fasting is powerful, and combined with prayer it becomes even more so.

Fasting brings answers to prayers when nothing else works; together they are one of the most powerful spiritual combinations on earth; together they give us the power to overcome the enemy. You can have prayer without fasting, but you cannot have fasting without prayer. Add this powerful discipline to your weekly spiritual routine and God will work through you in new and wondrous ways!

Pray and fast for the best possible outcome to the presidential election. And may God’s will be done…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

September 13, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

9/13/2020

As we forgive those who trespass against us…

Greetings in the words of St. Paul: We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly! (1 Thess. 1:2)

This is The Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Seattle. The Archbishop wants each of us to become more holy, to strengthen our faith and become more Christ-centered. Our goal as parishes over the coming year is to focus on this idea: in our prayer; in our work in the Church; and in the parishes as community. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, so let us strive to make It the core of our lives each day.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 18:21-35), Jesus uses yet another parable, this time to emphasize the importance of forgiveness. This passage isn’t only about the effect on the offender and the one offended; it extends to others as well, servants who were “deeply disturbed” by what they witnessed. Sometimes this is the case in our own lives, when there are witnesses to our poor treatment of another person; but at other times the offense is hidden, known only to ourselves perhaps. Either way, and difficult as it may be, reconciliation must take place in order to remain centered in Christ.

I am a sinner, and I fall daily in my interactions with others. I try to keep in mind how my words or actions impact others; but I am prone to rash judgment and impatience (interior or exterior), although I have made progress these past years in the virtues of prudence and patience. Looking on a deeper level, I consider how my behavior impacts not just those in my immediate circle, but the wider Church as well, the Mystical Body of Christ. This is the community of Christ, of which I am an integral part; my deeds, my words, indeed even my thoughts have direct impact on the sanctity of The Body, and the impact will be a negative one if I am not living in the imitation of Christ.

Last week I was away for my annual private retreat at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. I took with me for spiritual reading a wonderful book written by Romano Guardini entitled Meditations Before Mass. In it he speaks about ‘congregation’, and how its unity is impacted by the behavior of each member of The Body of Christ. When I think of the word ‘congregation’ I simply think of a gathering of people in the church. But to Catholics it is (or it should be) much more: “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20) Guardini says, “A congregation, then, exists when a number of people disciplined by faith and conscious of their membership in Christ gather to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries.” (p. 95) He goes on to refer to congregation as “the sacred coherence” and “the unity of men in Christ.” (p. 96) This is really profound. I’m not simply an individual, sitting in a pew, getting out of Mass whatever it is that I want to get out of it. I am part of a living organism of faith; one with Christ; and as such, whatever I do against that faith destroys the cells of that organism.

Each of us is called to “actively participate” in the Mass. That phrase has taken on various meanings over the past 60 years; but suffice it to say, that we cannot fully participate in the Mass unless we are free from grudges against our neighbor. Guardini encapsulates this important notion: “But if you have wronged your ‘brother’, and he has a grudge against you, a wall rises between you and him which excludes you from the sacred unity [the congregation]; then, as far as you are concerned, congregation ceases to exist. It is your responsibility to restore it by removing the impediment between you and your brother.” (p. 97) He goes on to say, “For the essential depends not on the actual agreement reached by the estranged parties, but on one condition: your forgiveness. As long as you bear a grudge, no matter how “valid”, there can be no true congregation as far as you are concerned. Forgive, honestly and sincerely, and the sacred unifying circle will close again.” (p. 97-98) Wow! The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass loses it’s sacredness, that “sacred coherence” referred to by Guardini, when even one person in the church at Mass has a grudge against another. Imagine how broken-down the congregational unity is in reality, when not one of us can say that we enter the church for Mass unencumbered. We are all sinners.

Each time we prepare for Mass, let us examine our conscience, and rectify any offenses that we may have against another person. Certainly, we aren’t going to drop everything and rush to someone’s house to make amends; that is unrealistic. If you can get to confession before you attend Mass, that is ideal; but it may not be possible. Guardini gives us good advice: “He can promise himself to remove this injustice by correcting it as soon as possible. The honest intention suffices to bring down the wall between himself and his ‘brother’. Immediately the unifying element is free again to contact all parts. As soon as the injustice that isolates has been overcome, the congregation is restored.” (p. 97) This means that each and every one of us must forgive. We must strive for this honest intention before we can truly be centered on Christ in the Mass. And if even one person in the church, as an integral part of the congregation, has not made this effort on behalf of everyone in the church, the “sacred coherence” is not achieved.

Guardini leaves us with one last thought: “The forgiveness of Christ…means that divine love gains a footing in us….Hence, when you try to fulfill the law of love for the sake of God and His holy mysteries, you make it possible for God to allow the congregation of those rooted in His love to flower.” (p. 98) Let us always love enough to forgive, over and over and over again….

Tomorrow is the feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the ultimate symbol of forgiveness. Let us praise and thank God for this amazing gift. We adore You O Christ and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

September 6, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

9/6/2020

Fraternal Correction…

Grace to you, and peace in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

Do you every stop to consider your purpose in life, why God made you and why you are so important to His Divine Plan? In the grand scheme of things we are really here for two simple reasons: 1) to give God glory with our lives; and 2) for the salvation of souls, especially our own. We are here on earth to be the best we can be; to strive to get to heaven, our eternal homeland; and to help as many other souls get there as well.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 18:15-20), Jesus gives us a plan for fraternal correction, which is actually one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy (admonishing the sinner). When someone has strayed from the truth it is our duty as Christians to do everything we can to correct them and bring them back. Watching out for each other keeps us on the right path; and as members of the One Body, we are all in this together. When one person sins, whether that sin is obvious or not, the damage affects each and every member of the Mystical Body of Christ. Parishes suffer greatly because of the tolerance of sins such as gossip, detraction, envy, hate, greed and covetousness. Every week I hear about some new story going through the grapevine at one or both parishes; the falsehoods and outright lies that are spread outweigh the truth so much of the time. It saddens my soul to think that our own parishes are steeped in the sinful behavior of gossip and detraction, and how this undermines the faith of so many parishioners…

Pray for the courage to learn and live the teachings of the Catholic Church, and be faithful to those teachings. Pray for the courage to have difficult conversations when they are necessary for correcting those who are in error. And pray for the courage to accept any outcome. Last Sunday Jesus asked us to pick up our cross and follow Him. When we do that we choose the narrow and difficult path, filled with humiliation, rejection and opposition. Fraternal correction is never easy; but it is vital for the salvation of souls, not just others’, but our own as well. If we know someone is in the wrong and we do not correct them, we have omitted a good deed, an obligation in fact. So out of love for your neighbor, take them aside and re-instruct them if they have strayed from the truth. It may just be the grace that saves their soul…

One last thing: it is an act of charity to forgive the wrong and overlook the faults of others; avoid holding grudges; and avoid being judgmental when correcting those who are in error. Reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel; let us work towards that together.

May the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, shed so abundantly during His Passion, cleanse us of everything harmful, and sanctify all that we do.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

August 30, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

8/30/2020

Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me…

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord!

In today’s Gospel (Mt 16:21-27), Jesus tells the Apostles that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things prior to being put to death. Then He entreats all of them, anyone for that matter, to follow Him, which means denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and walking a very special path….

Have you ever stopped to think seriously about why Jesus came to earth; why God would take on flesh and live in the world for a time? The answer is simple, and yet so full of mystery: Jesus became incarnate (took on human flesh) to suffer out of love, and subsequently to be put to death and rise from the dead. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “His redemptive passion was the very reason for His Incarnation” (CCC 606). So Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, out of love for His Father, became man solely to suffer and die for each one of us. His whole life was an offering to the Father: for His glory and the salvation of souls.

It took me many years to understand “offering” things up. Jesus “offered” His life; my mother “offered up” our family problems; priests that I knew would tell me to “offer it up” when my life was difficult for some reason. But no one ever explained to me what that meant. I am a practical thinker – I need to understand why I’m doing something and what it means in the bigger scheme of things before I can really put it into practice in my life.

Offerings and sacrifices have been around since the start of time, and they have various levels of complexity, too deep for this Apostles’ Column. So let’s keep it simple here. The first thing to remember is that everything we are, everything we have and do is a gift from God. It’s a gesture of love to thank the person who has given the gift, so offering our lives, and everything in them, back to God in thanksgiving is a wonderful thing. “Offering it up” maintains our relationship with God.

But part of our lives also involves the suffering that we experience every day. Suffering is essentially the many hardships we undergo: it could be physical pain; it could be anxiety, anger or depression; perhaps we’re financially strapped suddenly, and have to go without some of the luxuries we’ve been used to; maybe it’s spiritual suffering, like children leaving the Church; or disappointment in the weather outside today. It could be any number of things. But there is also “positive” suffering: giving up something for Lent; intentional fasting; alms giving; etc. We cannot escape suffering, no matter how hard we might try. But, we can take that suffering (whether it is good or bad suffering) and make it an act of love; we can “offer it up” to God as a true gift of self, uniting ourselves to Christ in His suffering and sacrifice. And remember, the point of Christ’s sacrifice was salvation: salvation of the whole world. He gave His life to atone for (repair/reparation) the sins of humanity, and He’s asking us to do the same….This is what redemptive suffering is all about: it’s denying ourselves, carrying our cross and following Jesus.

But, there is one catch: we must suffer in love if it is going to be of any benefit to ourselves and others… if it is to be redemptive. If we suffer with anger, impatience, whining, grumbling, complaining and the like… this is not useful. This is not carrying our cross, but rather dragging it behind us! However, if we suffer patiently, in silence, and even with joy in our hearts, there is great merit in all of it. An abundance of grace comes from this, for ourselves and others, often for people we don’t even know, souls who are in need of that grace…

So, let’s get in the habit of offering our lives to God each day. The Morning Offering is another prayer that each of us should pray every single day. Here are a couple of options for the Morning Offering:

O my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys and suffering of this day. For all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass said throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, and for our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church. Amen. 

or

O my God, I offer unto thee all my thoughts, works, joys and sufferings of this day; and I beseech Thee to grant me Thy grace, that I may not offend Thee this day, but may faithfully serve Thee and do Thy holy will in all things. Amen.

Let the whole of our lives, especially our sufferings, be offerings to God; let us lift up the countless activities of our day: the works, the joys and the sufferings and unite them to Christ’s suffering for the salvation of the world.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

August 23, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

8/23/2020

You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God…

Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!

We see over and over again in the Gospels that Jesus responds to those who have faith. But what is faith, and where does that faith come from; and why is it so very important? How do I come to believe? How do I strengthen my faith? What exactly am I believing in?

Today’s Gospel (Mt 16:13-20) highlights Peter’s profession of faith. His profound truth, uttered amidst the other Apostles, is definitive. He says out loud, in their hearing, that he believes without doubt that Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one), sent by God to save the world. Jesus goes on to bless Peter, and announce His plans to build the Church.

The Church is built on faith, and it will prevail only through faith. Every age of the Church has seen evil which has tried to destroy the truth: scandal, moral degradation, heresy, war, schism…the list goes on. But in every age, the Church prevails because over and over again there is a renewal that takes place by souls who want to be saints; souls who live Christ-centered lives every day; souls who believe that the Church on earth is the Mystical Body of Christ, which makes each of us who believe an integral part of this Living Body, with Christ as the head.

Faith is a gift from God; nothing less. It is the essence of trust, which is exhibited in our lives as absolute commitment to God; living the way that we know He wants us to live; accepting whatever He permits to happen. Please do not take this gift for granted! Last week I encouraged everyone to pray a daily Act of Faith. This Act is simply our individual profession of faith, a “mini-Creed” if you will. Peter lived with Jesus for three years; he came to know Jesus intimately through his interaction with Him. But we can’t fully acknowledge Christ by anything but faith… faith that is strengthened only through our personal relationship with Him in prayer and spiritual nourishment in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Church is not one person; it is a Living Body composed of unthinkable numbers of souls who have lived and died over millennia. The Church is a community in the deepest sense: the community of the Triune God, and spreading out from there the Communion of Saints (the Church Triumphant); the Holy Souls in Purgatory (the Church Suffering) and the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church Militant). Souls on earth must want to be saints: for the glory of God; for our own sanctification and salvation; and for the sanctification and salvation of other souls. I strive to love God above all things; I want to be in heaven one day (hopefully on the day I die); and I want to bring as many souls with me as I possibly can! None of this is possible without faith!

So, strive to stay connected to the Church, the true Church. Pray every day, and pray to deepen your prayer life; it will come if you persevere. Go to Mass every week (and take your family), even in this time of dispensation from the obligation; Mass is not about us, and how we feel or don’t feel, what we like or don’t like; it is about Jesus and being there for Him at the foot of His Cross to console Him in His most Holy Sacrifice of Love. Look for ways that you can build up the Kingdom in your own life, so you can eventually help others to do the same in their lives: sit in the church in silent Adoration; learn about the lives of the saints; read the rich doctrine of the Church; read Sacred Scripture…even weekly if that is all you can manage! Regularly examine and evaluate your own perspective: am I living today as Christ would want me to live, or am I living the way of the world? Am I seeing through Christ’s eyes, or the eyes of the world?

Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God; He is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Can each of us say with all the love of our hearts that we believe this? Can each of us say “I believe!” without any tinge of doubt? Sadly, for most Catholics, there is tremendous doubt. A year ago, a Pew Study (click to read the article) showed that 69% of self-identified Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, i.e. they do not believe that the host and wine used during Communion become the Body and Blood of Our Lord. This is very telling…

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) If you are one of the 69%, please turn to God in prayer and ask for His help. The gift of faith will come if we desire it and we put the effort in to ask for it, not just on occasion, but daily! Jesus said, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” (Mark 9:23) He didn’t say “some” things are possible; He said “everything”. Pray for your own faith; pray to strengthen your faith, because we must work for the rest of our lives to strengthen our faith. Never give up on this absolute. Pray to Jesus, “Lord, help my unbelief!”

The parishes recently purchased a subscription to the online faith formation program called FORMED. A literal plethora of free amazing “faith-strengthening” resources awaits each one of you. If someone tells you it comes at a cost to you, they are wrong – please call me or have them call me! The parish subscription is accessible to any of you with internet access, free of charge. Click on this link: https://formed.org. Then click the “sign up” button, choose the option “I belong to a Parish or Organization” and in the window, type your zip code! That is the easiest way! You’ll be prompted with our parish listing Queen of Angels (98362) and St Joseph (98382)… click on it and then click “next”. Enter your name and email address. (Save the website to your favorites for quick access in the future.) Once you are signed in you have access to thousands of excellent Catholic programs: movies; audio programs; and books – all geared toward living your Catholic Faith in a more meaningful way. Please join us in using this subscription – it will be well worth your time and effort! Make this resource a part of your life and the life of your family: schedule use of it once a week or more. It has prayers; it has spiritual reading; it has devotionals; it has just about everything you can think of to help you explore your faith, share your faith, and live your faith! What glory there is in all of it!

Jesus, increase my faith…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

August 16, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

8/16/2020

O woman, great is your faith…

Greetings in Christ!

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus performed a miracle in response to Peter’s doubt. This Sunday, His miracle is in response to someone’s faith.

Jesus traveled far and wide to spread the Gospel message. He even ventured into “pagan” territory, which in today’s Gospel (Mt 15:21-28) led Him north along the Mediterranean coast to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. He continued to work miracles, and in this particular Gospel passage He casts out a demon merely by His spoken word: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

Miracles are really signs and wonders; events that show Christ’s power; events that show that He is God and that God works through Him. Miracles are meant to stir up faith in Jesus. In this passage, we know that the pagan woman already knew of Christ and that she believed in Him – how she came to believe we don’t know; but the seed had already been planted. What is very clear is that her contact with Him, her interaction with Him increased her belief, to the point of holy boldness.

The Canaanite woman is an example of the virtue of perseverance. She has been struggling with the trial of her daughter’s demonic torment, but she makes a leap of faith by asking Jesus to heal her daughter – not out of selfishness (pride), but out of selflessness (humility). She was asking for a miracle, for the life of her daughter, and she had the faith that Jesus would respond. She did not give up hope; she persisted despite the fact that she was unworthy. And Jesus responded because she touched His Heart. When we pray in love, faith and humility we move the heart of God. That is why He responded to the Canaanite woman: she humbled herself before Him and simply asked.

Humility is the mother of all virtues, and it embraces in its first tier the three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity (love). These virtues are vital to our personal holiness and indeed to our salvation; they are virtues that we should strive to pray for every single day of our lives. The Catholic Church has given us The Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, three acts that are simple to pray and easily memorized with time. They are best prayed first thing in the morning, ideally right after getting out of bed when we pray our Morning Offering (more on that prayer in a future Apostles’ Column). These Acts are also prayers that we should be teaching our children from an early age, because they are prayers that truly give us the strength to persevere to the end. If these are not part of your daily routine already, please print them and begin to pray them daily! They will change your life! They only take a few minutes to pray, so get up earlier than usual every day, kneel at the side of your bed and turn your heart to God with your deepest love, and pray:

Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that You are one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that Your Divine Son became Man, died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because You have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Your grace, and life everlasting through the merits of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Redeemer.

Act of Charity

O my God, I love You above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because You are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself out of love for You. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.

Keep in mind too, that these three Acts follow the fruits of the first three Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary: The Resurrection is the mystery of Faith; The Ascension is the mystery of Hope; and the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles is the mystery of Love. When we pray the Glorious mysteries, we should turn our hearts to God and meditate on these fruits, asking Him to increase our faith, hope and charity.

God wants us to pray. He wants us to ask Him for things, in humility. He always answers our prayers; not necessarily the way we would want Him to, but the way that He knows is best for us. He rarely answers our prayers immediately; instead, He wants us to increase our desire for an answer by increasing our faith in Him and His response to our prayers. Pray… simply pray every day… that’s His most basic request of all of us!

Jesus, teach me to pray from my heart, and increase my faith…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

August 9, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

8/9/2020

The mountain, the waves, and the wind…

In the name of the Lord who loves us, peace be to you!

Today’s Gospel (Mt 14:22-33) is about faith and doubt, strength and weakness, and Jesus as the center of it all. There is so much going on right now in our personal and public lives, and in the world and Church at large, that it can be difficult to stay faithful and upright. Little things can pull us away from Jesus, like discord in our families or at work; but so too can the troubles in the world, like the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, and the social and economic unrest that have resulted.

Sometimes we find it difficult to believe, in God I mean. We wonder how He could allow the “bad” events of our lives to happen. In the Gospel narrative: why would He allow the wind and the waves to nearly sink the Apostles’ boat? Why would He allow Peter to walk on the water and then nearly sink? Why does He allow the world to be in a seemingly downhill spiral right now? Why does He allow persecution of the Church? Why does He allow physical and spiritual suffering on so many levels?

The answer is basic, but difficult to accept at times: God loves us. He gives us so much suffering, so many trials and tribulations, because He loves us; and He wants us to take advantage of every opportunity, every moment of our lives, to draw nearer to Him in some way, and in that to strengthen our faith. He knows our weaknesses, but despite them He stretches out His hand, gives encouragement and elicits prayer. He wants us to believe and trust in His plan; He wants us to reach out in times of trouble and declare our faith; He wants us to be grounded in prayer, the lifeline between our souls and God. But…He also wants us to be thankful for all the blessings we receive everyday…

Throughout our day we have many ups and downs, and in that, countless opportunities to turn to Jesus in our hearts. Prayer isn’t always about lengthy periods of time in silence; or reading Scripture; or reciting the Rosary. Those are all good; but sometimes, it’s the littlest moments in prayer that become considerable founts of grace. There is great sacrifice in disciplining ourselves to habitually turn to God in those moments of struggle, or disciplining ourselves to thank Him periodically in times of joy, and indeed in times of sorrow.

One easy way to start turning to God throughout the day is in a type of prayer called an aspiration. These are short prayers, a word or phrase that we can memorize and use over and over throughout the day. “I believe.” “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” “Jesus, I trust in You.” “Jesus, take care of everything.” “Jesus, I love You.” “Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Even simply stating the Lord’s name, as we use it to beckon Him. Try it right now, it truly does bring peace and calm to a troubled soul, and greater joy to an elated soul: “Jesus.”

If you aren’t praying, please start. It truly is our lifeline to God. For many of us, we aren’t sure how to pray; so we need to learn. Starting small is helpful, and aspirations are a perfect way to begin. Make one up, or use one of those noted above; but begin using it every day. Memorize it, and every time you’re feeling stressed about something, just say it: out loud, in a whisper, in your mind…but say it! I’ve read in the lives of the saints how they would keep track of things in order to mark their spiritual progress. Why not try this: make a tick mark for every time you use your aspiration in a day, and after a week check your progress. Then keep up the good work; try it again for another week, and another – just that single word or phrase as a short prayer of love to Jesus during the day. Avoid making it a competition with yourself or becoming obsessed by it however. That’s not the point. Just start small, and every time you have lost your peace (impatient with the kids or spouse; angry because the cats chewed a favorite plant again; discouraged because of inability to lose weight; feeling guilty for gossiping; etc.) turn to Jesus with a short prayer. He will bring you peace. Or every time you are happy about something (not losing patience with the family; smiling when the cat chewed the plant; losing a couple pounds; not gossiping; etc.) turn to Jesus with a short prayer. He will bring you joy! These aspirations are like holding His hand throughout the day…

Jesus teaches us by example the importance of spending time in prayer. If He retreated to the mountains or hill country by Himself to pray, then so do we need to make time for God, even short moments throughout our day. One heartfelt “Jesus, I love You” is worth so much…. In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux: “Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy.”

Lord, teach me how to pray…

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

August 2, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

8/2/2020

Feeding the Multitudes…

Greetings in Christ!

The Apostles’ Column sprang to life a month ago bringing to light the three pillars that really set the foundation for a Christ-centered life: prayer, work in the Church, and building community. In these past weeks we have come to understand that living a Christ-centered life begins deep inside each one of us. Unless we begin to change our lives, away from worldliness and toward heaven, we will not find the greatest treasure there is. This means surrendering ourselves; setting aside silent time and being committed to it; starting small and continuing over many years to advance; continually putting in the effort; never getting discouraged; and persevering to the end.

Do you ever stop and think to yourself, “Why…? Why would I want to change? I’ve got it pretty good right now: I finished college; I have a good job; I have a family; I have friends; I have money; I get out every night and enjoy social time with my friends; I have a beautiful home with a gorgeous landscaped yard, and loads of possessions in which I take great pleasure; I go on expensive vacations two to three times a year and live it up… Why change all that?” The answer is simple: God is nowhere in the picture…

Our earthly lives are very short; they are but a millisecond in relation to eternity. If we waste this precious, but short, time here on earth, well… I shudder to think about what will happen to us when we die. I’m fairly certain that most of us are hopeful that we’ll end up in Heaven; but truly, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of grace for us to get there! I’m shooting for Heaven myself, because if I miss then with grace I will end up in Purgatory. But, if I don’t change who I am, and become more centered on Christ, I’m simply taking whatever I can get; and if I am hoping for Purgatory and I miss, well, the fires of Hell await me! The bottom line: the choice is mine… all mine… God doesn’t send souls to Hell; they send themselves because they choose in this life to live apart from Him.

So what’s this got to do with the Gospel this Sunday (Mt 14:13-21)? Of those three foundational pillars, there is one in particular that is vital to a personal relationship with Jesus: prayer. Although the three pillars are inter-related and necessary, prayer trumps the other two. Why is that? Because prayer is the umbilical cord of the soul, the lifeline between God and each one of us. If we are not praying, we have no lifeline to God; if we pray, but it leaves much to be desired, we are in danger, as the cord that connects us is drying up and will one day be cut off; if we pray every day, even a little and even if we’re not always attentive, our lifeline is established and with our effort, and grace, it will strengthen over time.

We’ll talk about personal prayer in an upcoming column; but today I want to focus on the Mass, because it is a prayer… the highest prayer that any of us can pray. When I read the various Gospel accounts of the multiplication of the loaves (and there are several), I can’t help but consider the people who had gathered: there were thousands of them; they had been hanging about for a few days, they must have been tired; they’d had nothing to eat or drink, and I imagine they’d be grumbling about that; they were likely hot and sweaty; they clamored for attention from Jesus, to heal themselves or their loved one(s). My point here is that the vast majority were likely not really focused on Jesus for who He was; but rather on their own material and personal needs – after the multiplication it says they went away satisfied….Did any of them realize the absolute miracle that had just taken place…? Or were they now corporally satiated and simply wanted to get home… long journey and all…?

The multiplication of the loaves is Jesus in prayer; it prefigures the Mass, and parallels the actions that were recounted at the Last Supper: Jesus takes the bread (Preparation of the Gifts), He looks up to heaven and blesses the bread (Eucharistic Prayer of thanksgiving and blessing), and gives it to the disciples (the Communion Rite). As we all know (or should), in the form of unleavened bread, Jesus was giving the disciples His Body. (“This is My Body…which will be given up for you.”) It’s not just about an informal meal with friends; it’s about Jesus Christ literally offering Himself, sacrificing Himself for the glory of His Heavenly Father and the salvation of the world. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is imbued with profound meaning and mystery; prayer that is unequaled in our Catholic Faith. Does this influence me spiritually; or am I simply one of a larger crowd waiting for my share?

Mass is an integral part of our Faith. We need to be united with Him in this highest prayer of Jesus. Remember, Mass takes us to the foot of the Lord’s Cross on Calvary, to His sacrifice. When we place ourselves in His presence at Mass – whether we are in the church or watching on TV/computer – we are joined to Him in prayer, and in some special way we are part of His plan of redemption. So take time each week to “be” at Mass, and pray in this way. It’s awful easy right now to let it slide, but re-read the third paragraph above and consider why this prayer in particular is so important to our own salvation.

We are in unprecedented times; it is not possible for all of us to get to Mass for one reason or another: we are fearful of venturing out; we are in a vulnerable category; seating capacity is very limited. Be reminded that the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation has been abrogated; the dispensation from the Archbishop is in place until the pandemic subsides, so it is not a mortal sin to miss Sunday or holyday Mass at this time. But, that does not mean that we should simply blow off Sunday Mass! On the contrary, if we cannot attend Mass in the church, we should strive to watch Mass via computer (many options here, streamlined and recorded – our local Mass is aired live at 11:00am every Sunday) or on TV (EWTN has televised Mass every day). Be at Mass in the church if you are able, even once every couple of weeks, on any day that we have Mass available. Our Mass schedule provides eight Masses per week between the two parishes, enough for those wishing to attend Mass to do so as long as we act charitably and avoid “grabbing” excessive Masses in a week’s time. Make Mass a priority in your life, but strive to focus on the miracle of Jesus’ sacrificial prayer rather than simply being satisfied and heading home…

“Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass;
they will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain.”

 

–St. John Vianney

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, please pray for us!

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

July 26, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

7/26/2020

Treasure, Pearls, and Nets in the Sea…

Jesus Christ: yesterday, today and forever!

Once again in the Gospel Jesus is teaching us through parables about the Kingdom of Heaven; but once again we can use the message and apply it to our own lives on a more intimate level. Yes, the Gospel is about the ultimate destiny: eternal life in Heaven; but it is also about possessing the Kingdom of God here on earth, in our own hearts; and living it in our lives…

When I was a little kid, I would find or be gifted something that was really special, and I would keep it in a little jewelry box that my parents had given me. Imagine a tiny plastic hot dog “charm”; or a beautiful turquoise cross for a necklace; agates from the beach; or my first birthstone ring. I had numerous unique items, each one of great worth in my kid’s mind. That jewelry box became a hidden collection of the most amazing little treasures, each one with loving memories and meaning for me alone.

The treasure and the pearl in the Gospel parables this Sunday (Mt 13:44-52) represent friendship with Jesus. Whether we are actively seeking this, or it is bestowed upon us through grace, we must understand that it has the highest value of anything we can possess; and once it is ours, we must never let it go.

Friendships do not just happen. As I said last week, relationships that are meant to last start out very tiny and blossom with time; and if they are holy friendships they consume the heart with love. This is what Jesus wants for each one of us: to be consumed in His love.

I’ve talked about some practical ways to begin establishing a deeper relationship with Jesus: reading Scripture; praying the Rosary; spending time with Him in silence. If you are like me, there are many, many things preoccupying your mind; so taking time out to read, pray or simply be with Jesus becomes a great battle: family members vying for our attention; grocery and other “to-do” lists; conversations with others in our minds about something we did or something we have to do; mental wanderings about an upcoming vacation or trip; the cell phone, computer or email; health issues… The list goes on.

But here’s the thing: this budding relationship with Jesus will only become an everlasting friendship (our greatest treasure…the pearl of great price) if we make the time to be with Him, and write it in stone. We must commit ourselves, and carve out time for Him – sacred time that no one and nothing else can steal. Consider your day: aren’t there things that absolutely have to get done, and on a time schedule? Spouses getting off to work on time; children getting to school on time; doctor or dentist appointments; a meeting; getting your haircut; even a workout at the gym. These are things that we wouldn’t consider delaying. So why haven’t we set aside dedicated time to be with Jesus?

Jesus Christ considered Heaven to be His pearl, His treasure…so much so that He became man, He suffered, and He died for love of each one of us personally. He rose from the dead to open the gates of Heaven to each one of us personally. Right now, today, He’s asking each one of us, personally, to make Him our treasure so that we can get to Heaven one day….

I would like to end with a beautiful excerpt from a profound little book.

A pilgrim sets out for an unknown destination. There’s trust, however, that much will be in store, because those who have taken the journey before have been transformed from who they were on departure to who they were to become in the wholeness and fullness of God. On the way there is shedding and leaving behind, and dust to be shaken off the feet. Whatever happens, the assurance that all will certainly be better than it was, that the rewards and treasures are indeed worth the toil, is what draws us to journey.

 

The journey is a solitary one, as each soul is called by name. The call is to an intimate encounter with the One who supplies everything, a growing relationship with the One who guides everything, a trusting confidence that all is already within us and will be exposed in its appropriate time. We learn to open ourselves to receive what we need, to be conscious of and cooperate with the changes we must make, to be aware of what separates us from the measure of God’s love.

 

~ The Twelve Degrees of Silence by Marie-Aimee de Jesus O.C.D.

The mere realization that Jesus is our Treasure is the spark that begins our transformation, one that leads to our conversion. Commit time to Jesus. Make this budding friendship with Him your greatest treasure and protect that Treasure with your life. For years now, I have set my alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual so I can have quiet time before my family starts their day; it has become a most serene prayer-time. Begin to disable excessive stimulation, the noise of our lives; God is found in solitude. Silence the ‘self’, especially the inquisitive and curious mind, which is always trying to draw us away from God. Don’t get discouraged; keep trying, for God is so thrilled with our efforts. Make Him, and begin treating Him, like that pearl of great price….

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

July 19, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

7/19/2020

Tiny Beginnings that Expand Over Time

Greetings in Christ!

“Lord Jesus, let me know myself, let me know You, and desire nothing save You.” ~St. Augustine

I was born and raised Catholic, into a devout Catholic family; I attended Catholic schools and completed the Sacraments of Initiation before graduating from 8th grade; I was active in ministry at my Catholic High School. But I still left the Church in my late teens when I went off to college. Looking back on it, I was the picture of a devout Catholic, but I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know myself, so how could I even begin to know Him?

When I returned to the Church twenty-two years later, I returned exteriorly, but on the inside there was still no knowledge of Jesus. Faithfully attending Mass every Sunday, I was fed and nourished, but it lacked meaning. Mass was an obligation that I knew I must fulfill; but the words of God simply passed through me.

Over the years I heard priests speak about coming to know Jesus, having a personal relationship with Him, and how vital that was for eternal salvation. But, it always stopped there. I wasn’t connecting any of the dots at that point so I started to become frustrated. I needed details: the practical things that I could do to help me form this “personal relationship”. I didn’t understand the Trinity to any depth at that time; I knew there were three Persons, but I only ever considered them as “God”. Singling out one of Them was a bit foreboding: how was I to start that? Like many of us, I simply didn’t know how to begin.

My half-hearted searching went on for years. But then, something began to change. In retrospect I realize that so much of it was about grace, and my openness in responding to it. God showers us with grace all the time; yet in every opportunity we have a choice: to go His way, or to go our own…to cooperate with grace or not. One day, out of the blue, I finally – and intentionally – chose His way. I began to pray the Rosary, something I had not done since my youth. It had hardly any meaning, but I was faithful to it. Every time I got into the car, I turned off the radio and prayed a decade of the Rosary. Little did I realize at that time how instrumental this small act was: it became the seed for my personal relationship with Jesus. The Rosary is a living prayer, and every time we pray it – attentively or not – Mary is leading us to Him….

Within months, something else began to happen: I understood that this was a budding relationship, and the only way it would get “personal” was for me to spend time with Him, to truly begin to get to know Him. Did I care enough to set aside time to be with Him? I was so distracted with family, kids in school and work outside the home; I rarely thought about Jesus. But I knew, deep in my heart, that I had to make the move; I had to intentionally make the time, or I would lose the opportunity being presented to me.

Jesus’ parables of the mustard seed and the leaven speak to us about patience and hope. Although He is referring to the expansion of the Kingdom for tiny beginnings, we can use this as a metaphor for expanding His Kingdom in our own hearts as well. The seed and yeast start out very tiny, but are transformed into a big tree and a lot of dough. Think of the wondrous and vast difference between their tiny beginnings and their final results. In order to know Jesus, we have to be the mustard seed, we have to be the leaven. The growth and the fermentation begin only if we choose to devote time to get to know Him, and make Him the center of our lives.

Perhaps each one of us can make this summer a “mini Advent”, a time to anticipate Jesus coming into our lives in a new way. Make a small commitment to carve out some time each week to spend with Jesus, all by yourself, even just 10 – 15 minutes. This will entail sacrifice, which is Jesus’ love language! But it will be another small step in coming to know Him. Take a nature walk and begin to see and know Him in His creation. We are blessed in that both of our parish churches are open at least a portion of each week. Why not commit to 15 minutes sitting quietly in the church every week until Labor Day? And then have patience and hope: no expectations; tiny beginnings that will blossom with time if we stay the course. In taking this step, we will begin to learn about ourselves; we will begin to know Jesus and we will begin to desire Him. This is the start of a Christ-centered life.

Let us pray to Mary and ask her intercession to help us incline our hearts and minds ever-more toward Jesus, and come to know her Son.

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

July 12, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

7/12/2020

“Why do you speak to them in parables…?”

Greetings in Christ!

I mentioned in the first Apostles’ Column (June 28) that we’ve all been called to carry out the Gospel message as apostles, children of God with a purpose and a mission. Every aspect of our lives must be centered in Christ: our prayer, our work and our contact with others. These are the three pillars of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But before we delve into an intimate relationship with anyone, we have to get to know them. Without knowledge of the other person, the relationship remains superficial and without real meaning….

So, how do we come to know Jesus? One of the best ways to begin learning about Who He Is is to read Scripture. I will admit that it took me years to begin reading the Bible. I would listen to the readings at Mass every Sunday, but that was about it. I was familiar with various stories in both the Old and New Testaments, but I couldn’t quote Scripture to save my life, and I can’t to this day. But some years ago I decided to make a concerted effort to begin reading the Gospels. I simply wanted to know more about Jesus; so I purchased an approved Catholic bible with extensive and very helpful commentary.

My efforts were hit or miss for years. I couldn’t get into it. But, I kept trying; and that is what God wants from each of us: to keep trying, to keep putting in the effort to come to know Him. I was determined to take 10-15 minutes regularly to read and think about a short Gospel passage, first weekly and then with time, daily. I always found the parables particularly difficult to understand until I realized that parables are the Lord’s way of teaching us about the Kingdom of Heaven. He weaves truth into the everyday events of our lives, things that we can relate to. The naked truth is sometimes difficult to digest and accept; Jesus knows this. But if we hear the truth through a practical application, something we are familiar with, it can be more convincing.

Take The Sower of the Seed parable: Christ is the sower; each soul is the garden. He is sowing the seed of Truth into our souls, He, as the Word of God. Our job is to tend that garden: to water it and remove the weeds in order to gain knowledge and understanding. If my heart is not open to hearing the word, then my efforts will be in vain; I must be attentive to the garden of my soul.

In this earthly life, we are bombarded with obstacles: the devil, the world and the flesh continue to vie for our attention. But truly, if we begin to take just 10 minutes a week, to sit down in a quiet place and read the Bible, and we commit to that, our lives will begin to change. Turn off the TV and/or digital media; get up earlier in the morning; break away at noon; whatever it takes to put aside 10 minutes a week (with an ultimate goal of 10 minutes a day) to simply read and think about a passage in the Gospels. It could be the Gospel of the day; or a random passage. No matter what you read in the New Testament, it is Jesus speaking to you.

Jesus wants us to know Him…to listen to the truth and begin living it. He gives us so many opportunities each day, but ultimately the choice is ours: to choose His way, or some other way. Reading the Bible and thinking about His word is a start. It is a sacrifice of our time; but it is worth it! Let your soul be a Garden of Eden: tend it and grow it. Help it to grow better each day, more perfect; otherwise it will deteriorate and turn to wasteland. When I found Your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart. (Jeremiah 15:16)

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

July 5, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

7/05/2020

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light…

Greetings in Christ!

One huge jump that we all have to make at some point in our lives is to trust God implicitly: not just with some things, but with everything: our material needs, our family dynamics, our health, our jobs, the world at large…the list is endless. We live in a state of concern and trepidation about every aspect of our lives. Do we ever stop to consider our constant loss of peace in the comings and goings of our day? In the current state of affairs we are getting further and further from that place of peace: we are more isolated than ever, not just physically but socially as well; we cover our faces, even when no one else is around us; we are immersed in the daily news of the mainstream media which only serves to heighten our fear about things we have absolutely no control over. We have lost our peace, collectively and individually.

Where does peace come from anyway? And how do we get it? Not just for a moment or two; but true and lasting peace? The answer is simple, yet demanding, because it requires us to change. Jesus Christ is peace. Jesus is the only source of deep and abiding peace. Our worldly burdens are oppressive, but Jesus has offered to take our burdens, and carry them for us! So what does He demand? That we surrender everything to Him, and therein lies the difficulty. It’s so challenging to let go, to allow God’s plan to unfold in our midst and not try to control the outcome, or the steps leading up to it. Sometimes we get part way there: we begin to let go; then we find ourselves not happy with whatever is happening and we get fearful, or we grumble and complain.

Surrender is one of the first steps in living a Christ-centered life. Each of us is at a different place on the journey, but we can all surrender in some way every single day: sometimes it’s little things like not having a favorite snack; or getting up 5 minutes earlier than usual to start the day with prayer. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult, like doing our best to avoid speaking uncharitably about someone, or not having a judgment or an opinion about a situation around us. Surrender is something that comes with time and practice, but we have to want it to attain it. And it will only come with God’s grace.

Novenas are prayers that come in groups of nine, typically once a day for nine days. They are very powerful and we can often see the fruit of the prayer before the novena ends. In this time of great uncertainty in the Church, with Covid-19 and the civil unrest that stretches across the globe, we could all use some peace…peace that comes only through surrender to Jesus. I’ve included in The Apostles’ Column a wonderful start to letting go, and giving everything over to Jesus: The Surrender Novena. (click to read) Perhaps we could each take 10 minutes a day, in a quiet place for the next nine days and ask Jesus to take our burdens, so that we can have peace. I’ve been known to convert 9 day novenas to ‘perpetual’ novenas, praying them over and over for a particular grace in my life to help me change. Maybe a perpetual Surrender Novena is just what the Church needs right now…. Come to Me all you who labor, and I will give you rest….

Pax Christi,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

June 28, 2020

The Apostles’ Column

6/28/2020

Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect

It is the last weekend of the fiscal year in the Archdiocese of Seattle. Normally this is a time when we see priests transitioning to new parishes, but as we all know that is not happening this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fr. Robb, our beloved pastor these past six years, retires in just a few short days, and we will miss him dearly. It is sad that we are unable to have a going away reception for him now or perhaps even in the coming months; he told me recently he’d prefer to wait on that until such time that he’s feeling up to it. Father’s health issues (the congestive heart failure and ongoing issues with his prosthesis) continue to be a bit of a struggle for him, so please hold this up in prayer. Thanks to everyone who brought or sent in retirement cards to the offices I will deliver them after the 4th of July, so if you have one that you haven’t sent in yet, please do so ASAP. The big “gift boxes” will remain in the narthex of each church until the end of next week; feel free to swing by either church during visiting hours and drop your card in the box! You may certainly send or bring the cards to the parish office as well! Again, let us keep Father in our prayers, thanking God for his pastorate these past six years, as well as his priestly ministry the past 46 years; and wishing him all the love and peace of Christ!

Archbishop Etienne recently consecrated 2020 The Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Seattle. It will run until the feast of Corpus Christi 2021. As I begin my tenure as Pastoral Coordinator, I cannot help but consider what the upcoming year holds for all of us . The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith, and in that It should be the center of all we do; as parishes certainly, but more importantly, as individuals.

We are in an unprecedented time in the history of the Catholic Church, a time of great suffering in The Body of Christ, the Church militant; but also a time of great opportunity and purification. To save the world we  need to be saints in these times. Each one of us must strive to live a life of Christian perfection now more than ever, moment by moment; the current milieu demands it. If we relax our efforts, out of fear or any other number of reasons, we are failing our Baptismal call.

Over the course of this next year it is my hope that our parishes will become more holy; that each of us will strengthen our faith and become more Christ centered. I will be working with the Pastoral Council to  explore ways that we can call people to conversion, help strengthen families, renew our efforts at being more welcoming parishes and developing strong leadership in our ministries. We have all been called to carry out the Gospel message, and we must do so not merely as disciples, or students of the Word; but as apostles, children of God with a purpose and a mission. In our prayer; in our work; in our contact with others; in our suffering…in every aspect of our lives we must be centered on Christ and the Eucharist.

The Apostles’ Column is about all of us and in it I will share with you each week ways that we can strengthen our faith through prayer, service in the parishes, building community and the like. For now, I have a special request: next year at this time we will be welcoming a new pastor. That is my great hope, and I know that each of you joins me in that hope. The prayer below was written imploring God to bless us with a new and holy pastor next year. If we all pray for this daily, it will come. Please make a concerted effort to join me and the other parishioners in praying daily:

QA/SJ Prayer for a holy pastor.

Dear God our Father, we ask for blessings on your parishes, Queen of Angels and St. Joseph, our homes and sanctuaries of faith. We pray for the intercession of St. John Vianney, the beloved patron of parish priests, to send us a holy pastor in July 2021, an d with this prayer to open our hearts to the love and faith and will of Almighty God. Lord God, we petition you with all humility and an unwavering trust that these prayers will be heard, and that joy and peace will bloom in our faith communities. We petit ion all the angels and saints and our Virgin Mother as we seek a holy pastor, a disciple of Christ, to guide and lead us in our journey with God and to our eternal rest. We ask this as always, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thank you for all of your loving support over the past several months. It’s a new time, but an exciting time. Know that you remain in my prayers as we move forward together in the midst of all the uncertainty.

Christ’s peace be yours today and always,

Cathy Wiswell, Pastoral Coordinator

Queen of Angels

209 W. 11th St.
Port Angeles, WA 98362
(360) 452-2351

qa@clallamcatholic.org

St. Joseph Parish

121 E. Maple St.
Sequim, WA 98382
(360) 683-6076

sj@clallamcatholic.org