Apostles in the Middle of the World

If someone were to ask us, what is the purpose of the Church? I think we would all say to get people to heaven. Baptism makes us members of the Church, and we all have a role in helping people to reach heaven. The Second Vatican Council teaches this very clearly: “For the Christian vocation by its very nature is a vocation to the apostolate”. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity No 2). People who have a job in the middle of the world have an essential role to play in having society be more the way Christ wants it to be. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II states about the vocation of the laity:
“But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.” (Lumen Gentium, Chapter IV, No. 31).
In all professions and trades, Christ wants doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, homemakers, students, etc., to radiate the message and Christian life style. It is very important to do our work as well as we can, while fulfilling family obligations and other responsibilities that we have. To live our roll as apostles a life of prayer is necessary. It is the foundation of apostolic action. St. Josemaría tells us in The Way No. 301: “A secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints. God wants a handful of men ‘of his own’ in every human activity. And then… ‘pax Christi in regno Christi — the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ’.” Pope Francis describes how this can be done:
“Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching, which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” (Joy of the Gospel-Evangelii Gaudium, No 127).
 

Fr. Hilary Mahaney

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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Divine Mercy

April 3rd is Divine Mercy Sunday! God offers us a wonderful opportunity to experience his love and forgiveness, while encouraging us to heal past wounds through forgiving those who have offended us. Mercy Sunday is not only a good day to go to Confession and receive God’s mercy, but it is a day on which each of us should forgive others, abandon resentments, show charity to the poor, and to love with the affection we see in our Holy Father.

Mercy and Forgiveness

Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need for us to forgive one another. He taught us to pray in the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;” he also warned us: “for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15) while giving us a parable of the unmerciful servant who is condemned for not forgiving the small debt of his fellow servant (cf. Matthew 18:23-35).

Jesus also gives us a wonderful example from the Cross: as his persecutors taunt him he says: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). St. Stephen imitates our Lord—as should we—when he is being martyred, stoned to death for preaching Jesus Christ, Stephen “knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:60).

We usually learn forgiveness as children in the home, when we see parents forgive each other after differences. Mothers repeated remind us to “say you’re sorry” after we have hurt a sibling or playmate. We also learn to forgive as we also experience forgiveness for offenses we have committed (hurting others), for quarrels that were unnecessary, as well as for injustices (unfairness and favoritism) and neglect.

“Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it” (CCC 2227).

A child finds it particularly hard to forgive when he has not experienced forgiveness at home, when he witnesses one parent holding on to past hurts, or one “punishing” him with uncontrolled and irrational bursts of anger, or by long periods of silence that may seem forever, or by constantly reminding the child of his past misdeeds.

Often such experience produces ongoing resentments that end up defining our attitude towards another person. While self-giving love, mutual affection, and service should define our relationships, how often it is the hurt feelings and resentments that take over. We must let go of these and forgive them so that we can receive God’s forgiveness for our trespasses.

Forgiveness is the best hope to receive eternal life because when we go before the Judgment Seat of God, we can say: “Lord, you promised us that you would forgive us if we forgive others, and I forgave this person… and that person…” Then we will hear his sweet words: “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2) and “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).

The Holy Spirit will turn injury into compassion and purify our memory so as to transform our hurt into intercession (cf. CCC 2843). Let’s take advantage of this wonderful grace.

Fr. John R. Waiss

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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Happy Easter!

Resurrection SMA Painting

Easter 2016

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Mary of the Angels,

Christ has truly risen, Alleluia!

Easter fills us with much joy, because mercy has conquered death. For love of us Jesus had died and for love for us Jesus has now risen, giving us hope that life is not only possible but is God’s merciful will: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Let us take advantage of this Jubilee Year of Mercy by accepting our Lord’s mercy, as Pope Francis writes: “Jesus, seeing the crowds of people who followed him, realized that they were tired and exhausted, lost and without a guide, and he felt deep compassion for them (cf. Mt 9:36). On the basis of this compassionate love he healed the sick… and… he satisfied the enormous crowd (cf. Mt 15:37). What moved Jesus in all of these situations was nothing other than mercy, with which he read the hearts of those he encountered and responded to their deepest need” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). Jesus wants to do the same with each one of us.

In this way Jesus mercifully approached to the two disciples who had lost hope and were returning home to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). To instruct the ignorant is a wonderful work of mercy. Jesus also wants to teach us the ways of peace, mercy, and the way to eternal life so that our eyes may be opened to recognize him in the breaking of bread—in the Eucharist! (Luke 24:30-31)—and so that our hearts may be set on fire with love: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32).

You are all in our prayers. Thank you for yours and for your time and financial support for St. Mary of the Angels: we are getting closer to having the resources we need to rebuild the north tower.

Have a Happy and Blessed Easter!

St. Mary of the Angels Priests, Deacon, and Staff

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Thirteenth & Fourteenth Stations

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Thirteenth station: They Place Jesus in Mary’s Arms

At the Cross, with John beside her, Mary is engulfed in grief. Being late, the Jews press to bury our Lord. With Pilate’s permission, that Roman law requires for convicts, a councilor named Joseph comes to Calvary. This good and upright man, native of Arimathea, hasn’t consented to their plans or actions but awaits the kingdom of God (Lk 23:50-51). Nicodemus, who first met Jesus by night, also comes bringing about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes (Jn 19:39).

These men, not known publicly as disciples of the Master, hadn’t witnessed his great miracles or his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. But now, as others flee at the bad turn of events, these two fearlessly stand up for their Lord. They take down Jesus’ body and lay it in the arms of his most holy Mother, renewing her grief: Where has your Beloved gone, o fairest of women? Where has your beloved gone, and we will seek him with you? (Canticle 5:17).

The Blessed Virgin is our Mother; we wish not, we cannot, leave her alone.

4: To be faithful, be very Marian. From the Annunciation to her agony at the Cross, our Mother had no other heart, no other life, but for Jesus. A tender filial devotion to Mary will yield what you desire: loyalty and self-denial.

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Fourteenth station: They Lay Jesus in the Tomb

In an orchard near Calvary, Joseph of Arimathea had made a new tomb cut out of the rock. There, on the eve of the Jewish Passover, they lay Jesus. Joseph rolls a great stone across the grave door and departs (Mt 27:60). Jesus came into the world with nothing and with nothing, not even a place of repose, he leaves us.

Our Lord’s Mother—my Mother—and the women who followed the Master from Galilee take careful note of everything and depart. Night falls.

Everything is over; our Redemption complete, as Jesus’s death has ransomed us: Empti enim estis pretio magno—you and I have been bought at a great price! (1Cor 6:20); now we are God’s children.

Let us embrace Christ’s life and death, making them our own; dying through mortification and penance so that Christ may live in us through Love; giving our life for others in Christ’s footsteps, eager to co-redeem all souls. Only thus will we live Christ’s life, becoming one and the same with him.

1: His hidden disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, use their influence on his behalf. In his lonely hour of scorn and complete abandonment, these two stand up for him audacter, boldly (Mk 15:43), with heroic courage!

With them, I too go to the Cross; on fire with love, my arms tightly embrace his cold Body, Christ’s corpse… I unnail it with reparation and mortifications… I wrap it in the new winding-sheet of my clean life, burying it in the living rock of my breast, where no one can tear it away. There, Lord, you can rest! Even if the whole world scornfully abandons you… serviam—I will serve you, Lord!

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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The Way of the Cross* Twelfth Station

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Twelfth station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

The verdict is posted above the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews (Jn 19:19) and passersby insult and jeer at him: If you are king of Israel then come down off the cross (Mt 27:42). One of the thieves comes to his defense: This man has done no evil… then humbly makes a faith-filled request of Jesus: Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. —Truly, I say to you: This day you will be with me in Paradise (Lk 23:41-43).

At the foot of the Cross stands Mary, and other holy women. Jesus looks at his Mother, then at his beloved disciple, saying: Woman, behold your son… Behold your mother (Jn 19:26-27).

The sun is extinguished, the earth darkened. Three o’clock comes and Jesus cries out: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani—My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt 27:46). Knowing the end is near, to fulfill the Scriptures, he says: I thirst (Jn 19:28). Soaking a reed of hyssop in vinegar, the soldiers lift it to his mouth. Jesus sips the vinegar and exclaims: It is finished (Jn 19:30). The temple veil is torn and the earth trembles, as our Lord shouts out: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Lk 23:46), and expires.

Love sacrifice, it is a fountain of interior life; love the Cross, the altar of sacrifice; love pain, until you drink, as Christ did, the very dregs of the chalice.

1: Et inclinato capite, tradidit spiritum—and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (Jn 19:30), his last breath. Jesus often taught his disciples: meus cibus est—my food is to do the will of him who sent me, to accomplish his work (Jn 4:34) and he did so to the end: patiently, humbly, giving everything… Oboediens usque ad mortem—he was obedient unto death, even death on a Cross (Phil 2:8)!

2: A Cross; a body nailed to wood with its side pierced… Only his Mother, a few women, and a young man remain. Where are the apostles? And those he cured—the lame, the blind, the lepers—and those who acclaimed him? Everyone shuns him, surrounding Christ in silence.

Someday you may feel the loneliness of the Cross. If so, turn to him who died and rose again. Take shelter in his wounded hands, feet, and side. This will renew your resolve to begin again, restarting your journey with more effectiveness.

5: On the Cross hangs our Lord’s now lifeless body. The people, seeing what they had done, return beating their breasts (Lk 23:48). Having repented, promise that, with Jesus’ help, you will never crucify him again. With faith, tell him over and over again: I will love you, my God: you trusted my loyalty and abandoned yourself in my arms, even when you were just a defenseless child.

Alone before the crucifix, you may find tears welling up. Don’t restrain them… just make sure those tears lead to resolutions.

*By St. Josemaría Escrivá, Fr. John’s revised translation

Online: http://sma-church.org/motherofpurelove

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