Sunday, February 7, 2016
On Thursday, February 11th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. 158 years ago the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl by the name of Bernadette Soubirous (Sew-be-roos) at Lourdes in Southern France. Between January and July of 1858 a woman, dressed in white, belted in blue, with yellow roses at her feet and a golden rosary in her hands, appeared to this simple 14-year-old girl eighteen times. Just like the woman wearing a belted dress with roses who appeared to the peasant Juan Diego in Mexico 300 years before, the Lady who appeared to Bernadette asked for a church to be built on the site.
Only a few years before, Pope Pius the ninth had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as an infallible teaching. The vision Bernadette encountered told her “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed, but little more. Through this humble girl, a girl of about the same age that she was when she bore the Lord, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. Within just a few years of the apparition, people began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.
For a century and a half Lourdes has been a place of pilgrimage and healing, but even more of faith. Of the 30 or 40 cures reported annually, Church authorities have recognized over 60 of them as miraculous. There still may be people who doubt the apparitions of Lourdes, and it is not necessary for our faith to believe. Perhaps the best that can be said to them are the words that introduce the film The Song of Bernadette: “For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.”
Sunday, January 31, 2016
Suffering and illness have always been among the greatest problems that trouble the human spirit and the blessing of the sick is a very ancient custom, rooted in imitation of Christ himself and his apostles.
Christians feel and experience pain as do all others; yet our faith helps us to grasp more deeply the mystery of suffering and to bear our pain with greater courage. Part of the plan laid out by God's providence is that we should fight strenuously against all sickness and carefully seek the blessings of good health, so that we may fulfill our role in human society and in the Church.
Here in the United States the annual blessing of throats is a traditional sign of the struggle against illness in the life of the Christian. This blessing is ordinarily given on February 3, the memorial of Saint Blaise.
Saint Blaise was the bishop in Armenia during the fourth century. Very little is known about his life. According to various accounts he was a physician before becoming a bishop. Veneration of Blaise spread throughout the entire Church because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. Details regarding the miraculous healing of the boy vary. One account relates that the miracle occurred during the journey to take Blaise to prison when he placed his hand on the boy's head and prayed; another that the miracle happened while Blaise was in prison when he picked up two candles provided to him and formed a cross around the boy's throat. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat.
The blessing of throats is normally given by a priest or deacon who touches the throat of the one being blessed with two candles which were blessed the day before on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2) and which have been joined together in the form of a cross and tied together by a red ribbon, the color or martyrdom..
The following blessing is said: "Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."The Feast of St. Blaise is celebrated on February 3rd.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
Every week Ministers of Holy Communion from Risen Savior take the Eucharist to parishioners who are either homebound or in nursing homes within our parish boundaries. Currently there are some six nursing or skilled care centers along with dozens of private homes which have been converted to serve as long-term care centers, in the parish. These, combined with individuals living in their own homes and parishioners who are experiencing short-term stays in the hospital, means that we are taking Holy Communion to literally hundreds of individuals each week.
To assist our priests and deacons a small, but faithful, group from the parish visits the shut-ins each week. However, the number of ministers is dwindling and the need grows larger with every passing month. We are actively searching for new ministers.
This ministry is for those called by compassion to be the presence of Christ to the most vulnerable. The ministry to the sick and aging is one of attentive listening and presence, giving the Eucharist and sharing prayer. It is the ministry of the Body of Christ taking the Body of Christ to the Body of Christ and is, perhaps, the earliest ministry in the Church, dating back to apostolic times.
Ministry to the homebound is both challenging and rewarding. Confirmed Catholics are encouraged to join the ministry. There is a short training program and you will be mentored by an experienced minister.
Won’t you search your heart and pray whether God is calling you to become a part of this incredible ministry? For more information please contact Deacon Mark or Kevin Newman at the parish.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Most of us have probably heard that Pope Francis has declared this year a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The year, which began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December the 8th, is a call for each of us to deepen our gratitude for the loving mercy of God.
Why a year of mercy? Pope Francis envisions a year when people will become more merciful in their own lives and bring God’s mercy to others. The Holy Father asks Christ to pour out his mercy on the entire cosmos. He writes, “How much I desire that the year… will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!”
A Holy Year provides an opportunity for each of us to participate in and experience the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. After having confessed our sins and received absolution, we may also receive a “plenary indulgence,” which lessens the effects of our sins here on earth. Pope Francis explains, “To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church.”
Every Catholic is invited to participate in a holy pilgrimage during this year, either by visiting Rome itself, or by visiting and passing through the doors of specially designated parishes in their own diocese. Here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe we may participate in the pilgrimage by visiting one or all of nine parishes. In Albuquerque those parishes are the Shrine of the Little Flower – St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, the Shrine of St. Bernadette, Sanctuario de San Martin de Porres, and Santa Maria de La Vid Abbey.
What’s the significance of “holy doors?” Opening and walking through a holy door invites us to recall that the doorway to salvation is Jesus himself. Christ is now open and waiting for every person. During the Holy Year of Mercy, we are called to pray that our own personal shut doors of sin and temptation may be opened and that we open our hearts to everyone, especially those on the fringes of society.
This year of mercy is an invitation to experience the awesome power of God’s mercy at work in our own lives. Make the journey and walk through a Holy Door this year. Give yourself the gifts that only Christ can give – the gifts of grace, salvation and peace.
If you would like to learn more about the Holy Doors or would like the list of all nine parishes designated as sites for pilgrimage for the Year of Mercy in this diocese, pick up the “Holy Doors” brochure available in our parish lobby.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
We live in an era when calendars seem to rule our lives—the office calendar, the school calendar, the holiday calendar, the social calendar. Not surprisingly, many of us rely more and more on technology to help us keep track of all our various obligations and responsibilities. The new Church year begins today and the scriptures invite us to pause, slow down, and consider some of our core priorities as disciples of the Lord.
Statistics show that, more than any previous generation in human history, we have disposable time to use how we choose. We are not tied to the unrelenting agricultural calendar of traditional farm work or to sixteen-hour days in factories, yet we often feel rushed and over-committed. This all comes down to how we use our God-given time.
The readings today declare that God will fulfill the promises that God has made. Until that time of perfect justice, righteousness, and salvation comes upon us we are asked to do four things: to be alert at all times, not to give in to worry and distractions, to pray for strength, and to care lovingly for one another. So, as we prepare to celebrate again the coming of the Savior, think about the stewardship of time.
Think back to third grade when we learned the difference between needs and wants, and realize how much the line has blurred between the two since then. Is your calendar too full? Streamline it by looking at it with an informed eye: What must you do and what would you like to do, and how can you put God first this Advent?
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Sunday, November 22, 2015
We occasionally see the term “Liturgical Year” in our bulletin. This week we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King which is the last Sunday in our Liturgical Year. What exactly does Liturgical Year mean?
Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and ending with the Feast of Christ the King the Church celebrates the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The year itself is broken down into three distinct periods.
The first of these periods is Advent and Christmas. We anticipate then celebrate God coming into human history. The second period is Lent and Easter where we enter into the events that lead up to Jesus’ death and then celebrate his resurrection and ascension into heaven. The final period we call “Ordinary” Time, but there’s nothing ordinary about it. The word “Ordinary” comes from the word “Ordinal,” which is how the weeks are numbered: first, second, third, etc.
Each of these seasons have a different feel to them and we can recognize the change of season by the different color vestments the clergy wear as well as the colors of our banners and altar decorations.
The use of colors to differentiate the liturgical seasons became a common practice about the fourth century. At first, usages varied considerably but by the 12th century Pope Innocent III approved the use of five colors: Violet, White, Black, Red and Green. Today, four colors are used to express the emotions and ideas that are associated with each of the seasons of the liturgical year.
Violet is the ancient royal color and therefore a symbol of the sovereignty of Christ. Violet is also associated with repentance from sin. We see that connection in its use during Advent and Lent as we acknowledge our sinfulness and prepare for the Lord and his resurrection.
White reminds us of the brightness of day and that Jesus is the Light of the World. We wear it during the Christmas and Easter seasons as well as for the great feasts of the year.
Red evokes the color of blood, and is the color of martyrs and Christ’s death on the cross. But it is also the color of fire and remembering the tongues of fire that hovered over the Apostles it is also the color of the Holy Spirit and feasts of the apostles.
And the rest of the year, when we’re counting out our Ordinal time? We wear green which represents living things and the promise of new life.
Every year we cycle through the life, death and resurrection of Christ and every year we are changed by that journey.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Before elevating the cup a little and blessing God for the gift of wine, the Deacon, or in his absence the Priest, pours a few drops of water into the chalice or flagon of wine. As he does this, he says quietly:
“By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
Because of the distance from the altar and the quiet, almost silent recitation of those words, most of us may hardly notice and certainly not understand either what was said or the significance of the action.
An ancient rule during Christ’s time required that some water must be mingled with the wine. In those times all wine was heavy and thick and no polite person ever served it uncut. Today’s wines already come watered down, so the reason we do this at Mass has been lost. But over the centuries the action took on new symbolic meanings.
The meanings include the wine and water being like Jesus and us, together and indivisible – the close bond between Christ and His Church. And the one that most of us probably heard in grade school: it can be seen as representative of the water and blood which flowed from Jesus’ side as he hung from the cross. One can see that while the mixing of the water and wine is a minor action, the symbolism can be very great.
When there are several cups, as happens here at all of our Masses, the water is normally poured into the flagon that comes up with the gifts and then the wine is poured into the separate cups. Some suggest that the water be placed only into the principle chalice that the priest uses – because that was the practice prior to the Second Vatican Council – but that was because at that time, only the clergy received the Precious Blood and there would have been only one chalice.
However the water gets into the wine, the action today is one of symbolic gesture – a gesture that reminds us that just like the water and wine, we are all commingled, combined into the mystical Body of Christ.