Gaudete et Exsultate
Pope Francis has given us a wonderful new Apostolic Exhortation On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World—Gaudete et Exsultate.Holiness should be the goal of each one of us as well as for the whole Church: to reach holiness, which means to obtain the happiness what comes from union with God that reaches its fulfillment in heaven. Thus the title: Gaudete et exsultate—Rejoice and be Glad. Christ suffered and died on the Cross for this reason, and so:
“The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence… We see [this] expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: ‘Walk before me, and be blameless’ (Genesis 17:1)… My modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. For the Lord has chosen each one of us ‘to be holy and blameless before him in love’ (Ephesians 1:4)” (Gaudete et Exsultatenn.1-2).
The Pope encourages us to look to the saints for examples, whether both Old and New Testament saints in the Bible (ibid. n. 3-4) or to ancient or recently canonized saints (ibid. n.5). But the Pope also talks about “the Saints ‘Next Door’”:
“Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for ‘it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them…’(Lumen Gentium9). I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them ‘the middle class of holiness.’ (from Joseph Malegue).
Let us be spurred on by the signs of holiness that the Lord shows us through the humblest members of that people… As [Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross] writes: ‘The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed’ (Gaudete et Exsultatenn. 6-8).
Through these inspiring examples, God is calling
“personally, to you: ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44; cf. 1 Peter 1:16). TheSecond Vatican Council stated this clearly: ‘Strengthened by so many and such great means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord – each in his or her own way – to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect’ (Lumen Gentium 11)…‘Each in his or her own way’ the Council says… The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them. We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness” (Gaudete et Exsultatenn. 10-11).
This should excite each one of us to know that we don’t need to be a bishop, priest, or religious nun or brother (ibid. 14), since all the baptized are called to holiness (ibid. 15). This is the central teaching of the Vatican II and of St. Josemaría who was its precursor. Let us take this call to heart.
Fr. John R. Waiss
I love the reading from the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes… I hope you will too. Fr. John
All human activity is to find its purification in the Paschal mystery
Holy Scripture, with which the experience of the ages is in agreement, teaches the human family that human progress, though it is a great blessing for man, brings with it a great temptation. When the scale of values is disturbed and evil becomes mixed with good, individuals and groups consider only their own interests, not those of others.
The result is that the world is not yet a home of true brotherhood, while the increased power of mankind already threatens to destroy the human race itself.
If it is asked how this unhappy state of affairs can be set right, Christians state their belief that all human activity, in daily jeopardy through pride and inordinate self-love, is to find its purification and its perfection in the cross and resurrection of Christ.
Man, redeemed by Christ and made a new creation in the Holy Spirit, can and must love the very things created by God. For he receives them from God, and sees and reveres them as coming from the hand of God,
As he gives thanks for them to his Benefactor, and uses and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom, he enters into true possession of the world, as one having nothing and possessing all things. For all things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
The Word of God, through whom all things were made, himself became man and lived in the world of men. As perfect man he has entered into the history of the world, taking it up into himself and bringing it into unity as its head. He reveals to us that God is love, and at the same time teaches us that the fundamental law of human perfection, and therefore of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love.
He assures those who have faith in God’s love that the way of love is open to all men, and that the effort to restore universal brotherhood is not in vain. At the same time he warns us that this love is not to be sought after only in great things but also, and above all, in the ordinary circumstances of life.
He suffered death for us all, sinners as we are, and by his example he teaches us that we also have to carry that cross which the flesh and the world lay on the shoulders of those who strive for peace and justice.
Constituted as the Lord by his resurrection, Christ, to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given, is still at work in the hearts of men through the power of his Spirit. Not only does he awaken in them a longing for the world to come, but by that very fact he also inspires, purifies and strengthens those generous desires by which the human family seeks to make its own life more human and to achieve the same goal for the whole world.
The gifts of the Spirit are manifold. He calls some to bear open witness to the longing for a dwelling place in heaven, and to keep this fresh in the minds of all mankind; he calls others to dedicate themselves to the service of men here on earth, preparing by this ministry the material for the kingdom of heaven.
Yet he makes all free, so that, by denying their love of self and taking up all earth’s resources into the life of man, all may reach out to the future, when humanity itself will become an offering acceptable to God.
Today is Mercy Sunday when we celebrate God’s merciful love for us: the Father promises to forgive all our sins because his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, has died on the Cross and has now risen from the dead. Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of the Father’s merciful love. Merciful Love Incarnate! This is what gives us hope in eternal life in heaven.
Our parish has experienced God’s mercy too! Two and a half years ago one of the cornices fell off the church building. We thank God that no one was hurt and that no cars were damaged. God’s angels held the cornice up until everyone cleared out from the 5 pm Sunday vigil Mass. But this event helped us realize, after inspecting the exterior of the whole church with an engineer—the safety issues and repairs needed for St. Mary of the Angels. And the Holy Spirit then moved the parishioners of St. Mary of the Angels to raise over $1 million in cash and pledges. We spent $150,000 for emergency repairs—securing similar cornices, wrapping our cupolas in canvas, our north tower and parts of the façade in steel mesh—leaving about 1 million dollars for building restoration.
Last November we launch our For All Generations campaign. Our school and C.C.D. children have been praying for this campaign and have written to about 30 convents of priests, brothers, and nuns around the country who have responded to these requests by their prayers and Masses for this campaign, even sending us monetary help for our parish. During the silent phase we have added another 1.5 million dollars from about 60 pledges and donations. This means we are currently at 2.5 million dollars in pledges and donations for the permanent restoration of our church. Thank you for your prayers and for these generous initial donors.
With our $3 million Phase I goal within sight—which will restore the north tower, put new bathrooms on the church level, restore the façade, four cupolas, and parapet wall—we are making our in pew appeal for our For All Generations campaign.
We are doing this for our Blessed Mother, Mary, so that the church in her honor may continue to bless her… For All Generations. We realize the church was built over 100 years ago by a generation of faith-filled Polish immigrants. Now we wish to continue their generosity so as to leave this legacy For All Generations to come.
Besides telling us in her Magnificat prayer that we shall bless her for all generations, Mary encourages us that “his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). And since our Lord challenges us in his Sermon of the Mount: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), each one of us needs to show—with our gifts, talents and prayers—our mercy to others and to the church. Our For All Generations campaign is an opportunity to do just that… to show mercy and to further receive God’s mercy—God is never outdone in generosity.
I ask you to consider a generous and merciful gift to restore St. Mary of the Angels to the glory due her name. As you do, entrust your loved ones to Our Lady through the Memorare Legacy—anything you do for her and for the church in her honor she will remember and intercede for your intention.
Fr. John R. Waiss
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary of the Angels,
Christ has risen and has conquered death with the full freedom of Love… Alleluia!
We give thanks that God would love us so much that he would send his only-begotten Son to come and die for us. And by Christ’s death and resurrection he teaches us about the meaning of our own freedom, and what it means to love. As Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz recently wrote in a pastoral letter to all the Opus Dei faithful:
To discover the deepest meaning of freedom, we have to contemplate [Christ]. We are amazed to see the freedom of a God who, out of pure love, decides to abase himself by taking on flesh like ours. We see this freedom unfold throughout his steps on earth towards the sacrifice of the Cross. “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). Human history has never witnessed an act as deeply free as our Lord’s self-giving on the Cross. “He gives himself up to death with the full freedom of Love” (Letter, January 9, 2018 n3, quoting St. Josemaría).
Love is repaid by love. If Jesus loves us by the total gift of himself on the Cross, then he is calling each one of us to respond with the full gift of ourselves to him, to exercise our freedom fully, to give ourselves without reserve out of love for him. We ask St. Mary of the Angels to teach us how to love, with a love that gives itself away! This is our parish motto!
As we are a family, we pray for you and your loved ones at Holy Mass and in our prayers. Thank you for yours and for your time and financial support for St. Mary of the Angels. Especially pray for our For All Generations campaign as we try to raise an “impossible” goal needed to finish the restoration of our church. Yet Christ tells us: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). So pray with us for the impossible.
Have a Happy and Blessed Easter!
St. Mary of the Angels Priests, Deacon, and Staff
Fr. John R. Waiss
In today’s first Gospel, we reenact our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when he rides in triumphantly, seated on a donkey. This was foreshadowed when David had his son Solomon mount his royal donkey and ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his kingship. So now God the Father has his Son mount a donkey so as to ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his eternal kingship. Also this would fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).
St. Josemaría loved this scene of the Gospel, where Christ manifests his humility by riding the gentle donkey. He would imagine himself as that beast of burden, offering his King the use of his life and strength: “If Jesus’ reign in my soul, in your soul, meant that he should find it a perfect dwelling place, then indeed would we have reason to despair. But ‘fear not, daughter of Sion; beloved, your king is coming, sitting on an ass’ colt’ (John 12:15). Don’t you see? Jesus makes do with a poor animal for a throne. I don’t know about you; but I am not humiliated to acknowledge that in the Lord’s eyes I am a beast of burden: ‘I am like a donkey in your presence, but I am continually with you. You hold my right hand’ (Psalm 72:23), you take me by the bridle” (Christ Is Passing By, 181). Let’s let Christ reign over us through our work and study, in our friendships and family relationships. Christ reigns by offering him our life in service, just as did that donkey for Christ.
The second Gospel—the Passion of our Lord—also is about Christ’s kingship. Christ marches into Jerusalem in order to be enthroned on the Cross. As St. Josemaría writes in the Way of the Cross:
“Sentence is about to be passed. Mockingly, Pilate says: Ecce rex vester! Behold your king! (John 19:14). Infuriated, the chief priests reply: We have no king but Caesar (John 19:15)… Offering no resistance, Jesus gives himself up to the execution of the sentence. He is to be spared nothing, and upon his shoulders falls the weight of the ignominious cross. But, through love, the Cross becomes the throne from which he reigns…
“Lord, where are your friends? Your subjects, where are they? They have left you. This running away has been going on for twenty centuries… We, all of us, flee from the Cross, from your Holy Cross.
“Blood, anguish, loneliness and an insatiable hunger for souls… these are the courtiers around your royal throne” (From station 1, meditation 4 and station 2)
Have a Blessed Holy Week!