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.