Monday, December 27, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the Feast of the Holy Family

Readings: Sir 3:2-14; Col 3:12-21; Mt 7:2-23

About two weeks ago my niece, Melissa, had her third baby—a little girl named Ally Rose. In the days following the birth all kinds of pictures appeared on her Facebook account showing a smiling mother and father, the new baby, and her two older brothers, ages two and four, totally entranced with the newest member of the family. The little boys were exploring her fingers, toes and ears. They were pictures of family togetherness at its finest hour. But hearing confessions, as I have often done in this past Advent season, shows another picture of family life. That picture shows the struggles and temptations of people to remain faithful to their promises to each other; it shows the effort needed to regain an honest communication; it shows the difficulty of extending forgiveness as well as asking for forgiveness. This second picture gives ample evidence of all the stresses on family life. The feast of the Holy Family was meant to encourage families of all kinds, including those who are struggling.

The feast of the Holy Family is a relative late-comer to the Church’s Liturgical year. It seems to have originated in Canada in the 1880s or 1890s. Its express purpose was to support and encourage struggling families who were continuing to emigrate to Canada from all over the world. As always, immigrants then had to encounter many challenges to move their families and find the necessities of life to maintain them. Pope Leo XIII liked the feast and in 1893 had it inserted into the Church’s Liturgical Year.

I think it’s important that we should see and understand this feast in relation to struggling families as well as happy families. Too often the feast gets made into some unreachable ideal; that winds up causing more guilt than anything else. It’s instructive that the gospel passage for this feast relates the story of the Flight into Egypt and all the attendant reasons surrounding it. The life of their child is being threatened and so this young couple runs away to another land. They faced a dangerous journey with many hardships. We can only imagine the fears and worries they had in undertaking this trip. There must have been many hardships: coming to a strange place, where people spoke a different language, trying to find a suitable place to live and work that would support them for as long as needed. The Holy Family endured many stresses and dangers in becoming the Holy Family. That was one of the primary reasons why this feast was begun.

In fact, this day would be a good occasion for us to remember the approximately 220 million people who are immigrants in the world today. I took the occasion to look up some information on the International Organization for Migration’s website. That intergovernmental organization was begun in 1951. It seeks to provide just policies for the treatment of immigrants in all countries. The need is overwhelming, and they admit that their efforts meet all sorts of obstruction from various countries. Many reasons drive immigration: the need for work, fleeing from war or oppression, the need for food, the need for housing or education. There are a lot of immigrant people in this world who need all the encouragement and help they can get.

The example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph having to flee for their lives into a foreign land tries to give strength and courage to millions of today’s immigrants. But we are the ones who should examine ourselves to consider the kind of welcome, support and help that we give to newcomers in our midst—they are reflections of the Holy Family in our midst today.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Christmas Homily

Readings: Is 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-4; Jn 1:1-18

There are two levels of meaning in the Christmas story. The first is the story of Jesus’ human birth; this is recounted in the Nativity narratives in Matthew and Luke’s gospels. They tell of the trip of a young couple to Bethlehem in Judea, finding lodging only in a stable where the young woman gives birth to her first child. The second level of meaning comes from John’s gospel, especially in the passage we just heard. This gospel tells us that this is not just a human birth like any other; this is a divine event. The very Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. This small, seemingly insignificant child reveals the glory of the Mystery of God. This is value beyond all telling. This is the greatest event that could ever happen.

Our task is to hold those two levels of meaning together and intermesh them. Now the first we can easily understand and handle. Everyday—somewhere in this world of ours—there are still young women who are giving birth in stables or even worse dwellings; there are young couples having a child in poor circumstances. We can understand that. The second level of meaning is a lot harder to encompass and much more difficult to relate to the first level: that this humble birth is actually THE message that the Mystery of God, the source of all creation, wants to tell us. That message is contained in this small child’s birth.

The only way to combine these two levels of meaning is by an act of faith. The intellectual distance between the two levels of meaning can only be spanned by an act of trust that is infused with love. The very meaning of Christmas sees the birth of Jesus Christ as a free gift of God’s love, although the full depth of that love would not be revealed until Easter and the Resurrection. It is the act of love which holds together the two levels of meaning in the Christmas story, an act of love that becomes an act of faith.

Faith stands as the hard thing for many to come by today. An intriguing article appeared in last Monday’s USA Today newspaper (Dec. 20, 2010, A1). It said that 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, but only 60% see a religious meaning in the day. For one in three Americans Christmas is a yearly occasion to visit the family, exchange gifts with friends, to eat and drink...often to excess. Nothing more. Even for those for whom the day does have a religious meaning, the exact content of that meaning is not always very clear. People get no help from the general culture. Christmas in United States society is increasingly becoming a secular holiday. Fewer and fewer crib scenes are evident. They have been replaced by Santa Clauses, who are everywhere. Advertising programming never uses a religious carol. The advertisements hint openly that it’s almost an obligation to give gifts. Of course, that’s something driven by pure commercialism. The very definition of a gift is something that is freely given.

Our challenge this Christmas is to appreciate and proclaim the Christian faith dimension of the feast. The first faith dimension affirms the intrinsic and ultimate value of each and every human person. The proclamation that the very Mystery of God became flesh in a small child, born to relatively unknown parents in an out-of-the-way part of the world testifies that every human being has ultimate worth in the eyes of God....and should have in ours as well. The second faith dimension of this feast is the primacy of love over everything else in our world. It is the love of God that bestows the very gift of God’s presence in the birth and life and death of this little child. Every single one of us is loved and valued in God’s eyes. That’s what we proclaim this Christmas feast. Let’s celebrate it!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 4th Sunday in Advent

Readings: Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24

In this last week before the feast of Christmas the gospel passages at mass will recount all the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. They are stories that most of us have all heard many, many times. But they are worth re-telling each year. I think it’s important for all of us to remember that each and every year there are some members of our Catholic community who are hearing the stories for the very first time. For them the manner of telling the stories proves extremely important. The Catholic priest and writer, Fr. Andrew Greeley, has stated often that the most important theological teaching moment in the entire Catholic tradition happens when a mother takes her young son or daughter up to the Christmas manger for the very first time. She points out the baby Jesus lying in the manger and then she points out the baby’s mother, Mary, looking carefully and lovingly at the child Jesus. And she says, "That’s the way God loves each one of us—like a caring mother." That’s a powerful thought. Scenes like that will happen all over the world this Christmas season. They will happen in parishes all across this city.

That’s one of the most telling reasons why we, who have heard the Christmas stories so many times, need to hear them each year with renewed reverence. In so doing we contribute to the general reverence surrounding those teaching moments to the little ones who are learning it for the very first time. We don’t just hear the surface story, but we look for the deeper meanings within them. The older we get the more we need to do so.

Why do we need to look for deeper meanings the older we get? Simply because each year the weariness of life wears us down a little more. It does so for all of us. And if we let that go unchecked, it can bring us to the point where we doubt just about everything. Believe me, as someone who has given retreats all over this country to religious communities of men and women, to diocesan priests, to lay men and women—I can assure you that I have met a lot of people in each one of these settings who have been worn down by the weariness of life. It just crept up on them. Many times they never saw it coming. Then all of a sudden one day they realized that they didn’t believe in anything any more.

To prevent this from happening as we grow older, it’s necessary to cultivate anew each year a sense of "being surprised," an enthusiasm and excitement at the feast. One of the best ways to cultivate this sense of being surprised is by committing ourselves to someone or something passionately. And passionately is the key word. If we are passionate about some subject or person, we open our senses up to the unusual. We increase our capacity to be surprised. I was genuinely surprised this past week when I heard for the very first time a new Christmas carol that I hadn’t known about. It’s called "the first Canadian Christmas carol" or the "Huron Carol." It was written by one of the North American Martyrs, St. Jean de Brebeuf, in the Huron Indian language. You can look it up on the Internet. There’s one site that even gives some singing versions of it: first in its original Huron language, then a French translation, and finally an English version. That was something I found very, very exciting about the feast this year.

The readings we heard today also reflect a real passion. The prophet Isaiah writes with passion. St. Paul is always passionate. The Evangelist Matthew passionately proclaims that "God is with us." This Christmas many small children will passionately revel in the mystery and joy of the Christmas season. Let’s join them this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen

Working at the soup kitchen was really cool. It wasn’t very hard work but I could tell it meant a lot to the people there. Most of the time I was doing jobs that was in the back, like carrying boxes and things like that. I served in the front, too. Everybody looked really happy. None of the people that came to eat were mean or bitter. Everybody seemed to know each other. It seemed more like a place to hang out with friends than a soup kitchen. Everyone said thank you and didn’t complain about the food. A lot of people used a lot of sugar on their cereal. I found out that they were probably dealing with an addiction. Almost everyone took some food with them when they left so they could eat it later. That just shows how hard it is to get a meal sometimes. I learned that I’m really lucky to have a house and a meal to eat everyday.
(Mark B.)

My reflection on the Cathedral Soup Kitchen, wow so much to say. Well, the first thing was that it was so much fun. I have never enjoyed volunteering as much as I did last Friday. Everyone there was just so nice. I can’t wait to go back again next year. To be honest when I first arrived I was pretty nervous. But I got over that really quick. All the volunteers helping simply welcomed me in like a family member. They were so nice. After we said a prayer Mark, Chandler, and I were assigned jobs to do. I was assigned to pass out watermelon. I’m not much of a watermelon eater but pretty much everyone there loved watermelon. Some people took at least 3 to 4 pieces at a time but later on put the extras in a bag for later. I think it is sad that there has to be people living on the streets and being homeless especially in this type of season. At the soup kitchen they had breakfast between 9-10 A.M. and just seeing people getting their food and asking me how I am with smiles on their faces was great. Everyone got along great. People were joking and laughing while eating and having a good time. At one point we ran out of coffee and one of the men eating breakfast volunteered to help carry the empty can out to get a new one, which was really nice to do. When I left the soup kitchen I felt so good inside that I had done something really good for someone, and lucky that I don’t have to worry about that kind of thing in my life.
(Sara C.)

My service at the Cathedral soup kitchen was just how I had expected it would be. I have been to a soup kitchen before and it was very similar to the one I went to with my family. It felt really good to help people that are in need. I am so glad that I got an opportunity to help people that are less fortunate. We often take for granted everything we have like food, shelter, and clothing. Homeless people often go without food, without a place to live, and sometimes the only clothes they have are the ones they are wearing. I feel very lucky that I got a chance to make a difference in the world.
(Chandler H.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 3rd Week of Advent

Readings: Is 35:1-10; Jam 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11

I’d like, first of all, to reflect on the difference between the first and second readings we just heard. They are very different in style and message. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah describes how perfect, how beautiful and how ideal will be the coming Day of the Lord. For the prophets of ancient Israel the Day of the Lord was that time in the future when God would set all things right and all problems and pains in this world would be wiped away. To emphasize this the prophet uses many vivid, poetic images to describe that Day; he appeals to people’s imaginations and hopes. That why we hear phrases like "the desert will exult," the parched land will bloom," "the eyes of the blind will be opened," "the deaf will hear." Or, like we heard last week, "the lion will lie down with the lamb." The prophet is trying to get a suffering people to think of and imagine a time when God will make all things right and beautiful.

How very different is the second reading from the Letter of James. This is not poetry; this is straightforward, moral advice: "Be patient until the coming of the Lord. ...You must be patient." The author of James says that it’s fine and wonderful to have a vision of the future, of what God is going to accomplish, but you have to be ready to wait for it. It comes in God’s own time, not ours. James sounds an awful lot like Dr. Phil on television who is continually telling people "the way it is and you need to accept it." James reminds his readers that the very same prophets who proposed all those wonderful images of the fulfilling Day of the Lord were themselves examples of patience.

We should think a little about patience. By and large we Americans do not have a reputation of being a very patient people. We have been conditioned for many years by modern media and business to take a more "got to have it now" attitude. We don’t like to wait for anything, anywhere. That’s too bad. The Christian tradition has long valued "patience" as a virtue, a character strength. Patience is the ability to continue moving forward in life even while dealing with a situation we don’t particularly like. Patience is not letting that adverse situation get us down, but still being able to go on cheerfully doing our best. Sr. Barbara Reid describes it: "Patience is doing everything we can, while at the same time, relying utterly on the divine provider." (America, Dec. 6, 2010, p. 31) If we ignore the virtue of patience, it’s our loss.

Patience is necessary for personal growth to take place. Personal growth involves the development of skills There are too many people who want to develop skills and abilities right now. That doesn’t happen; you don’t learn a skill overnight. Developing an ability requires persistent effort, trial and error, learning, trying again and lots of patience along the way. The same is true in matters of living our faith. Our practice of the faith is never going to be perfect, but we need to keep trying. To do that we needs lots of patience with ourselves along the way. One way we can learn how to develop patience—this is a suggestion of St. Augustine---is by growing a garden. You can’t rush plants into growing. You must patiently tend them....and wait. Gardening and patience go together.

Patience is also necessary for personal healing to take place. We know that’s true in cases of physical healing. You can’t rush back from an injury too quickly or you might wind up making the situation even worse. Sometimes we forget that a similar kind of patience is often required in emotional healing. When someone has hurt us deeply, and then says, "I’m sorry," often it’s going to take time and patience to let that sink in. It’s not that we don’t forgive the person, but it’s recognizing that it’s going to take time and patience to allow emotional healing to occur. That can’t be rushed.

In this Advent season we would all do well to take some time and examine how we practice the Christian virtue of patience.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Feast of St. Nicholas

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas. Who is St. Nicholas and why do we celebrate him as a Saint? Relatively little is known about St. Nicholas, but legends fill in the story of his true history. He is closely linked to Christmas, so it is only fitting that his Feast day is celebrated in December. His fame spread across western Europe, his figure developed into the person we know as Santa Claus, which comes from the Dutch for Saint Nicholas...Sinte Klaas. The story of St. Nicholas was first brought to America by Dutch settlers. His final transformation from bishop-saint to folk figure came in 1823 when Clement C. Moore wrote his famous poem, "The Night Before Christmas."

St. Nicholas was born during the third century in the village of Patara of Lycia, in the country of Anatolia. His parents were virtuous Christians. Nicholas was their only child...and he, too, grew in virtue. As Nicholas grew and matured in age and wisdom he also grew in his love of God and wanted to serve God. He was ordained a priest and later a bishop.

St. Nicholas was known for his generosity. He secretly provided dowries for poor girls. He also played a role in the release of three unjustly convicted army officers. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors. In fact, sailors in the Aegean Sea customarily greet each other with: May St. Nicholas hold the tiller.

He very early became a patron saint for children. On the eve of St. Nicholas many families have the custom of hanging stockings above the fireplace or putting their shoes outside their bedroom doors in hopes that St. Nicholas would visit their homes while they are sleeping and slip a treat in their stocking or shoe. St. Nicholas NEVER failed to visit the Etienne Family. Even today, my Benedictine Sisters are visited every December 6th with treats from St. Nicholas!

I was born one minute after the Feast of St. Nicholas and the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I've always loved the name my parents gave me at birth, Mary honor of St. Nicholas and our beautiful Blessed Mother, Mary. Advent is the time when we prepare to greet Christ—who came as a babe in a manger, who comes into our lives each day, and who will come again at the end of time. During this season of Advent we celebrate the feast of many wonderful saints as we wait in joyful hope for the birth of our Lord and Savior.

Today we call St. Nicholas by a different name, but one thing remains the same: Saint Nicholas, our present-day Santa Claus, is a symbol of unselfish giving...The TRUE meaning of Christmas. Let's allow the spirit of St. Nicholas to enter our hearts and allow us to have a generous spirit always looking for ways to make life a little better for those around us. Tis the season to give abundantly!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Advent

Readings: Is 11:1-10; Rm 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

In last Sunday’s homily I reflected on the need to "get back to the basics" in evaluating our practice of Christian faith. Advent is a good time to begin that process. Let’s take that a step further this Sunday and explore what is meant by "repentance" in today’s gospel passage. Those are ringing words from John the Baptist: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

In its most general sense "repentance" includes two dimensions: one, a change in one’s outward behavior, and two, a change in one’s mind that impels a change in behavior. The two go hand-in-hand. We change our motives in order to change our actions. In our more common language, "repent" would mean something like, "Get your act together." Now, those aren’t words that we like to hear from a boss or a religious superior: "You need to get your act together." Even less do we want to hear them from God. However, that’s exactly what they mean in the mouth of John the Baptist. "It’s time to get your act together."

Let’s think about this a little more closely. Most of the time, unless we are a sociopath or have a criminal mind, we want to do things and live our lives in a reasoned, orderly way for our own benefit and the benefit of others. However, when times get really rushed and we begin to be stressed out most of the time, our life and actions can tend to get "loose around the edges." We cut corners to get more things into the day. We can start doing things just in reaction to someone’s else example or words without really thinking about the consequences. If we are honest, we know that in terms of religious behavior, it’s very easy for regular practices of prayer, self-control and virtuous behavior to get whittled down in the hectic pace of life. That’s especially true during the Christmas season, at least the way we observe it in this country. December can become really frantic at times. That just hastens the cutting of corners on just about everything and reacting impulsively to other’s words and actions. That’s when life become loose around the edges.

So in this Advent season we hear the clear challenge from John the Baptist: "Repent" or "Get your act together." How do we go about doing that? Well, the first thing—hard as it may be—is to slow down and give ourselves some time to do a bit of calm reflection. In that space of calm reflection we need to review our recent behaviors and actions and see if they really measure up to the kind of person we want to be. Did I really want to engage in that critical conversation that ripped apart another community member or did I just fall into it on the spur of the moment and then went along with it? Did that behavior really express who I am and the type of person I want to be? It’s that kind of self-evaluation that is the beginning of "getting our act together."

Sometime when we hear those words, "Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand," they can seem so alien to our everyday lives that they don’t make much impression on us. But they really do challenge us to explore the connections between our actions, our motives, and who we want to be. That kind of thinking is religious of its very nature. Listen to some words of Lawrence Kushner that sum up that point very nicely: " The essence of spirituality is a return to the self, a re-direction of vision of the one who asks the question, a discovery that what is sought is, and always has been, right here all along. Spirituality is personal immediacy and (at the same time) the immediacy of God’s Presence." (Eyes Remade for Wonder, p. 153) "Repent! or "Getting your act together!" They bring us face to face with the Living God. They are the examination of the close connection between motives, actions and hopes in our daily lives. That’s what we are called to do in this season of Advent.

Friday, December 3, 2010

8th Graders Serve at the Soup Kitchen

The idea of going to a soup kitchen used to scare me, it seemed so foreign and honestly kind of frightening. But now I find that those past thoughts were completely wrong and that I should have been more open to the thought of charity. Luckily, Holy Name had provided the opportunity to go and let students help out at the soup kitchen and I decided to take it. But I didn’t think of taking it so quickly, and I’m not going to lie, the thought of acting sick crossed my mind many times, but I knew that would be completely wrong and I would be burdened with guilt for the rest of the school year. So I went.

As we were on our way to the soup kitchen that morning I grew even more anxious than I was that morning when I was getting ready for school, but as we were nearing closer and closer to the soup kitchen I calmed down a bit. Once we finally arrived we got out of the car and walked towards the building. I noticed that a man was bundled up in large amounts of old, dirty clothing sleeping on the floor. An old women that went by the name of Dr. Pike, opened the door to us and we walked down stairs into a room near the kitchen. There we had to put on hats and aprons. We then went into the kitchen and were introduced to people and the stations we were going to work at. Another classmate and I worked at a station where we served Kool-Aid to the homeless. Once everything was prepared and ready to go, people started pouring into the building…So much that I couldn’t even see over or even in between them. My partner and I started to pour Kool-Aid into small plastic cups and the thought of me spilling Kool-Aid everywhere crossed my mind as we did so. See, I am a very clumsy person and tend to run into, spill, and break a lot of things.

A lot of the people there were mostly men; I only saw about five women, and some of them looked like they didn’t even live on the streets. As I poured Kool-Aid for people few of them said thank you, but I knew by the look on their faces that they were either grateful or ashamed. But some of them weren’t even ashamed at all, actually some of them came in singing and smiling, which surprised me a bit. Eventually, the line started to go down and I could see in front of me again. People started to fill the tiny tables and started eating. Some of them sat together laughing and talking, and some just sat alone. Then a young white women got up from her table and shuffled over to where we were pouring juice, she grabbed two cups and looked me in the eyes and said “Sorry.” and then walked away. That’s when I realized that all these people who may have no job or home or food of their own are just like us. They’re no different from people we call “normal”. We’re the same. The only difference is that they are struggling harder than anyone one of “us”. This thought had stayed with me for the rest of my time at the soup kitchen.

The idea of going to the soup kitchen used to scare me, but now I find that the idea of volunteering at a soup kitchen is enjoyable and worth my time. And now instead of rejecting volunteering, I’ll be more open to the thought of helping those in need. Thankfully, I didn’t fake sick that day, because if I did I probably would have never tried volunteering afterward.
(Taylor O.)

When I served at the soup kitchen I think I really got to see how life is for some people. It isn't all good like some people make it out to be. Life for some people is hard and restless always wondering when they will get their next meal. When I served at the soup kitchen I did two things. I served Kool-aid and washed dishes. I don't remember the name of the guy I was washing dishes with, but he was a very nice guy. We talked about the soup kitchen. I learned that he is from Michigan and now lives in Indiana.

The people I served Kool-aid to were really nice. They had better manners than you would expect people who are hungry. There was another guy there who volunteered his time at the kitchen. He knew almost everyone there. He joked around with them and they joked back. The people I served were also very kind. They didn't seem grumpy or grouchy, just very thankful to have a nice meal in front of them. This really made me more grateful for what I have and made me feel like I was helping people. I never felt so good about myself.

My trip to the soup kitchen really made me feel like a better person. This is all because the people volunteering and the people going there for food. The volunteers were just glad to see people helping out and the people there for food where just so kind and I just can't get over that. I would definitely go back and I advise others to go at least one time.

(Zach L.)

When I first walked in to the soup kitchen I was met with the sight of a man sleeping on the floor with about 2-3 garbage bags as a pillow, right then it hit me how homelessness affects our society. After that I was asked to put on an apron and hat. (Wow that was embarrassing, good thing Mrs. Buckley didn’t have her camera on her.) After that we were asked to wash our hands, as I walked around I saw a tiny sink in a tiny kitchen at first I thought that was for dishes but as I found out, it was for our hands! After that we were asked to put on this poly-something type of glove, when we were sent to our stations I was assigned the fruit and salad section. Usually they have a leafy salad, but they were out and they had a bunch of tomatoes so they improvised and made a brochette type salad with cheese, Italian dressing, greens, and of course tomatoes. They also had mixed fruits, and a big box like thing filled with green grapes. As I looked around in the midst of serving I noticed a lot of African-American people in the room. It made me wonder, are ceo’s firing these people because of racism? Or is because of a stereo type?

In the middle of serving I saw a man taking a lot of grapes so as I started refilling the bowls. He said “Can you give me two more bowls please?” As I was filling a plastic bag with them he said “It’s for my kids.” I froze. This man has kids living on the street?!? It made me wonder how he and his family are getting by. I gave him a whole lot of grapes. I said tell them I said hi and enjoy.” He simply replied, “May the Lord bless you.” And he walked out the door. I felt really good inside like I did something really good. Later that day, I saw a woman standing next to the fruit, trying to get some grapes. I said “Let me help you with that.” As I looked at her I noticed she had a U.S. Army jacket on. That startled me because people who risk their lives daily to protect our country shouldn’t be on the streets fighting starvation! After I was finished she said, “Thank you my God,” and that gave me the best feeling imaginable.
(Mitchell S.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jesus' December Message

Each month, Anne, a lay apostle, receives a message from Jesus. This is the message for December. To read more about the locutions Anne receives from Jesus and His Blessed Mother click on this link: Direction For Our Times.

My dear apostles, together, we are making advances. Humanity groans with the changes coming upon them and yet heaven’s servants become holier and holier. The project that is your holiness is on track. Dear apostles, this is the most important thing and this should be your greatest concern. I want you to be aware of your progress. Instead of being distracted by the changes occurring in the world, you are actively participating in the changes through your personal commitment to remain connected to My will in each day. You are offering your service through your allegiance prayer and I am accepting your service and using you to teach others what true holiness looks like. From the outside, you probably look as though you are working hard. From the outside, it is probably evident that your commitment has cost you something, meaning, your own plan. You have submitted your plan to Me and I have handed you My plan in return. Accepting My plan for your life is not easy and some moments are more difficult than other moments, and yet, you continue. You strive for total acceptance of My will. This is what I am asking of you and this is what the Father asked of Me. Abandonment. If you want to learn about abandonment, simply look to My figure on the cross. My Passion offers you a glimpse of where abandonment took Me. Your joy in service offers others a glimpse of where abandonment has taken you. Please be joyful. Your joy offers the world hope. Joy is infectious. And hope is infectious. Suffering passes away and what remains is your offering. I am returning. I tell you this because it is true and I want you to be prepared and to help others to be prepared. All is well. The infant King looks out upon a world which craves Him. Bring Me to others, that they may also herald My return.

A Saint Lindsey C.

What words do you think of when you hear the names Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Peter, Mary, and many other saints? I know I immediately think of holiness. There are many ways to be holy. I try my best to model holiness each day because I feel that it is my main goal as a Catholic.

One way that I am similar to these saints is that I have trust in God during the rough times in my life. Just think of Mary’s deep trust when she was asked to be the mother of Jesus. Sure, I am probably not going to be asked to have a baby at the age of fourteen, and my life won’t be filled with nearly as many extreme challenges as Mary, but I still like to view myself as having deep trust in God. Another well-known saint, Mother Teresa, was kind and caring towards people all of the time, even if it meant that she would have to live a life of poverty. As Mother Teresa did, I too, try my best to show kindness to people throughout my day. When I think of people with unconditional love, I think of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis had a great love for animals, as well as people. Similarly, I try to love and comfort people who are in need of extra care. Joan of Arc was asked to lead her country in war. Wow! I cannot even imagine the braveness she must have had. Just as St. Joan of Arc was always brave, I try to be brave and have God guide me in all that I do. Last, but not least, Peter must have been confused often in his role as an apostle, as well as Jesus’ role. Despite his confusion, Peter always showed patience. Patience is very hard for me to obtain, but I hope to some day reach the level of patience that Peter displayed.

With all the great things these holy people did, it seems nearly impossible to reach the same stage that they are at. But, if I continue to model my life and actions after them, then hopefully I too, will someday reach “sainthood.”
(Lindsey C. 7th Grade)