April 19, 2019

Good Friday is the day we mourn the death of Christ on the cross, but we also prepare to rejoice in His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Today, we have a Gospel reflection from Deacon DeSousa, the father of one of our community members, on the Resurrection of Jesus.

As difficult as the Resurrection of Jesus is to understand, it is important to note what happened when John and Peter arrived at the tomb as reported in today’s Gospel. They were initially in disbelief, even though Jesus had tried to repeatedly make it clear to them. John, it is said “saw and then he believed.” Eventually, Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene realized the meaning of what Jesus had been telling them that He would rise from the dead. Finally, it all made sense after they saw the empty tomb on that first Easter morning. The Lord has indeed risen! The Lord kept His Word that He will save us from our sins. End of the story? Not quite, for that is where our story begins. We were saved with much pain, and at a great price. A grateful and contrite heart is our response to God especially at Easter. Often, we forget, take for granted, or simply disregard what Our Loving God has done for us. Easter is about gratitude and joy! Let us live grateful lives for we have been saved. Let us also live joyful lives, for we are forgiven and loved.

The season of Easter runs for fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. We live in a culture that is much bigger on the thrill of anticipation than on savoring the actual experience, and once the celebration is over we are onto thinking about what is next. Once Easter is come and gone, it is onto Memorial Day. There is this desire for looking ahead to what is next, and we miss something by rushing through the moment too quickly. And so to emphasize, prolong, and experience more deeply the joy of Easter, let us observe it in gratitude.

Remembering that today is only the beginning of the Easter Season, make a promise to do something kind for others every day for the next fifty days. Save a plastic Easter egg and keep it on your night stand as a reminder to yourself that each day you are given an opportunity to bring new life to yourself and to others in gratitude by living the call of Jesus. By our very lives, let us be bearers of joy, hope, peace and love to others. Doing so, the Easter story goes on!

April 16, 2019

We are just two days from the beginning of our Lord’s Passion. In preparation for Easter, Sr. Marie Notre Dame L’Esperance, SSVM, UWM Alumnae (‘18), wrote for us a reflection on gratitude and joy in relation to Easter.

G.K. Chesterton says that joy is “the gigantic secret of the Christian”. But if we, as Christians, are called to follow in the example of Jesus Christ, who suffered so much and died on the Cross, how can we justify being joyful? Authentic joy presupposes something that makes us joyful – where, then, do we find our joy? It is in the mystery of Easter. At Easter we rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ, because his triumph is our triumph. It is the triumph of truth over lies, of good over evil, beauty over ugliness, love over hate, life over death, grace over sin… Our joy is so great, and our love for Jesus is so intense, that we celebrate the Resurrection not only during the Easter festivities, but also on every Sunday of the year by our participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – just as Jesus commanded at the Last Supper. Through our participation at Mass we commemorate the sacrifice of the Cross, through which the triumph of the Resurrection came about. How can we help but feel immense gratitude when we consider how Jesus suffered for us? By the grace of his Sacrifice we are granted eternal life! Are we content with gratitude, or do we seek to truly love Jesus with real, sacrificial love?

-Sr. Esperance

April 12, 2019

This Sunday, Palm Sunday, commemorates the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. When the crowds laid palms on the ground before him as he triumphantly entered the city. What a contrast it must have been, when just days later Christ was betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, scourged, and executed as a criminal. In preparation for the celebration of Palm Sunday, Robbie Renner, diocesan seminarian and UMW Alumnus (‘16), wrote for us a reflection on Sunday’s Gospel.

On Palm Sunday we get to participate in the reading of the Gospel. This is the long dialogue narrating the Passion of our Lord from the Passover to the burial. We, the congregation, say some harsh words, really condemning words. We shout, “Crucify Him,” and in other Gospels accounts the people also shout, “Let His blood be upon us.” We participate in the proclamation of the Good News by condemning an innocent man, the innocent one who’s blood did fall upon us. To those that shouted at Him and think this man does nothing for us, saying “Thank You” would be off the table. But God loves irony. He likes to turn things around. Whether it is making the blind see or bringing someone from unbelief to belief, God loves to make an unexpected change. On Palm Sunday in our participation of the proclamation of the Gospel we speak words of condemnation, yet inwardly recognize our need to repent, a last ditch effort at the end of Lent. By our participation in the the Blood of the innocent one that was meant to show our responsibility for His death, we receive everlasting life. He converts us and let’s us continues to let us participate. We first participated with sin, and now we can participate with thanks.

-Robbie Renner

April 9, 2019

How often do you think about God’s presence in every moment of your life? He’s always there! If we fully grasped this concept, imagine the gratitude that would constantly flow forth. This week, Sr. Frances Carol, O.S.F.S., wrote for us a reflection on God’s continual presence, and joy as gratitude’s final end.

Living a faith-filled life, we experience God in all things and all things in God. This faith calls us to be grateful for each moment of our life and to recognize in the experiences of each moment our interaction with God. Our daily journey calls us to look at these interactions, to see God in each moment and to take time to be grateful for each one. How we grow and develop in our spiritual life will depend on how we react with each of these moments. As we experience gratitude at each interaction, our heart and soul become filled with joy. We make sense of the past, we find peace in the present moment, and we anticipate what is to come tomorrow. Knowing that we are walking each step with God, we are grateful for his guidance and care. Gratitude makes us joyful and this joy brings us ultimate happiness. Following the maxim of St. Francis de Sales, “Be who you are and be that well,” we recognize who we are and that living a life of gratitude allows joy to flow out of us and to help us become good and holy people of God. It is this joy which flows out of gratitude and leads us close to our God.

-Sr. Frances Carol

April 5, 2019

Sunday’s Gospel is the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). What did the woman think of Jesus? Fr. Colin Davis, Parochial Vicar at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception wrote for us a reflection on this gospel and the choice we have to be grateful.

The story of Jesus' demonstration of unconditional love to the woman caught in adultery is timeless and beautiful. Had you ever considered that it is possible, in fact, that the woman did not experience gratitude?

Don't you know people who seem to have everything going for them and they're depressed? There's countless Christians who pray frequently and receive the Sacraments and are still bitter people.

And have you ever met a person who comes from the most difficult background and is full of light and joy?

That's because the grace and blessings Our Lord is continually pouring out on us cannot either be perceived nor received without the proper "dispositions" - that is, without the right habits of soul.

Even more than that, contrary to popular belief, feelings, emotions, and sentiments CAN be cultivated, so that emotions like peace, joy, patience and gratitude become more and more pervasive.

It is true that emotions happen to you. But they can also be produced deliberately by you, and then turned into good habits. Gratitude can become an emotion you feel more frequently, almost all the time, if you practice at it.

HOW??

Glad you asked. There are 8 things you can do to produce emotion in yourself:

  1. Move your body, breathe better, and change your posture (back, shoulders, head, facial expression) in accord with desired emotion - smile and it actually causes the "happy" parts of your brain to light up.

  2. Choose which thoughts and ideas to focus on - all the small things that are great in this situation or all the terrible things and imagined bad intentions of people around me.

  3. Choose from the many possible larger meanings for your life when events happen and stick with the one that fits best with the goodness of God our Good Father. For example, I get sick and that means that I miss out OR that God has better things in store and it's an opportunity for a little rest.

  4. Create an "image-trigger" (like imagining the Holy Spirit in a cloud descending on you) and deliberately feel an emotion like gratitude, associating the image with that emotion.

  5. Do a mental, image-driven exercise like Ignatian Contemplation of a Gospel like this Sunday's, or going through old happy memories and thanking God, or thinking of hopeful future things and thanking God that they will happen.

  6. Reinforce your willed belief in the goodness of God by repeating hopeful verses from Scripture with feeling and conviction. these are great resources: Joy- Open Bible, Promises of God- Open Bible.

  7. Do some problem-solving and come up with a plan of action to solve the problem that is bothering you (just be sure to dwell more on the solution and the feeling of hope than you dwell on the problem).

  8. Make sure you get enough sleep and nutrition - but don't eat just to feel better, only eat after you've tried these other ways to feel better.

Give these a try. You'll be grateful you did.

-Fr. Colin Davis

April 2, 2019

When we stop to acknowledge all of the blessings the Lord has given us, joy is inevitable. This week, Fr. Nicholas Schierer, UMW Alumnus (‘09), wrote for us a reflection describing the source of that joy and the gift that it is in our lives.

Joy is not like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is not happiness. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. It could be described as exhilaration, delight, sheer gladness, and can result from a great success or a very beautiful or wonderful experience like a wedding or graduation but the definition of joy that the world holds is not nearly as amazing as biblical joy but joy is also gift. There is joy in thanking God for the great gifts that He has given us. To realize that everything we are comes from a Heavenly Father who loves us. He has created us, each and everyone of us for a specific reason. He holds us in creation. God has given us the gift of life. In thanking Him for that gift as well as all of the talents and graces that He bestows upon us throughout our lives allows us to live more closer to Him. In living more closer to Him, we are more closely united to His love and grace. In having these gifts we have acquired something truly great and wonderful which can give us joy. In expressing gratitude for them, reminds us to treasure them and that we can lose them.

-Fr. Nick Schierer

March 29, 2019

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is the story of the man born blind whose sight was restored by Christ. Have you ever considered how Christ has restored your sight? In preparation for Sunday, Fr. John Ziegler, Pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, wrote for us the following reflection:

The Gospel for this Sunday presents a very extraordinary as well as dramatic and intricately woven account of the restoration of sight to a man born blind. As the narrative unfolds it becomes obvious that the seeing involved occurs on more than just one level, a level deeper than merely physical vision.

After Jesus gave the light of physical sight to the man born blind, it soon becomes apparent He gave him much more than that. As a new world began to open for him, so too did a new life, a life of faith. A progression of that faith is evident as he initially referred to Jesus a man, then he called him a prophet, and finally he bowed down to worship Him as Lord.

We each receive the gift of faith in Baptism. The waters of Baptism are for us a pool of Siloam where we who are made of clay, the dust of the earth are enlightened by the infused light of grace and by it receive an eternal inheritance. How grateful are we for such a sublime gift? Are we truly appreciative of what God is doing for us? Do we pray and ever say to the Lord as did the Apostles: “Increase our faith”? Or do we give scant time to prayer and expect to remain faithful?


The Golden Legend tells how St. Macarius in the fourth century, once found a skull in the desert sand.

        "Whose head have you been?" he asked.


        "A pagan's," the voice came back from the skull.


        "And where is thy soul?"


        "In hell."


        "How deep in hell?" the saint asked.


        "As deeply down as the earth is lower than the heavens."


"Are there,” the saint finally asked, “any souls thrust down into hell even more deeply than yours?"


        "Yes," the voice of the skull replied.


"The souls of those who were redeemed by Jesus Christ, but held their privilege cheaply."

All of us, have received a very great privilege. Through Baptism we share in the very life of Christ. We are made God's Temple and the Holy Spirit dwells within. What's more, we are nourished, even every day if we choose, with the very Body and Blood of Christ. Do not hold that privilege cheaply!

We are living in turbulent, even sinister, times and many have allowed their minds to become deluded, even debased.This Gospel began with the understanding that physical blindness is not caused by sin, but it ends with the understanding that spiritual blindness, in the case of the Pharisees, is caused by sin. Remember the great dignity and the great destiny to which you are called. Reject the darkness and cling to Christ.

Finally, use the time remaining in Lent to make a sincere and heartfelt Confession so that you may enjoy the light of Christ now and one day enjoy the perfect vision of Him forever in heaven.

-Fr. Ziegler

March 26, 2019

What is gratitude if one does not act on it? Concrete action is necessary in Christian gratitude. This week, Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony wrote for us a reflection on challenging ourselves to share the source of our gratitude with others.  


Pope Saint Paul VI wrote in his encyclical On Christian Joy, "Joy cannot be dissociated from sharing. In God Himself, all is joy because all is giving."  We too are called to have all as joy, to be like God, to live in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:26). However, what does that mean because I'm sure each one of us wants joy. Joy comes from have an perpetual presence of encountering the good.   So first it means we have to look for the good, thus look for God and be grateful for Him and His gifts. Second it means challenging yourself to give because God is love and the love that we find is not meant to be kept simply for ourselves if it is going to fulfill us. We must, as St. Paul tells us, have "faith working through charity" (Gal. 5:6) in order to experience true joy. St. John puts it even more direct when he writes,"God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (1Jn. 4: 16, 19-20). In other words, if we don't want to lie to ourselves and have a false/pretend joy we must allow this spirit of love, this spirit of gratitude, to flow out from us to others!  As Pope Saint Paul VI reminds us joy cannot be disassociated from sharing! So to do this, ask yourself two questions: How do I like to give? This can help you to discover a charism? Then ask, "What might I be called to give which might be a sacrifice?" This will help you to discover a deeper meaning of love! And the more you discover love, the more gracious you will be because you will realize that you too are loved; and the more gracious you are, the more you will want to share with others; and the more you want to share with others, the more joyful you will be. Gratitude is linked to Joy through Love. So this Lent, let us strengthen that link so that we can take in our Lord's words, "I have told you these things so that my joy may be within you, and your joy may be complete" (Jn. 10:10). Let us have the fullness of joy that comes through love and founded upon gratitude!   

-Deacon Gerard


March 22, 2019

This Sunday at CCM, we will begin the Scrutinies in preparation for our catechumens to become full members of the Church. The first Gospel of the scrutinies is the story of the woman at the well (John 4:3-32). In preparation for Sunday, Father Stephen Vaccaro, Parochial Vicar at The Church of the Nativity in Burke, wrote for us a reflection on Christ’s saving of the woman at the well and her resulting joy.

In Sunday’s gospel, we see Jesus interacting with the Samaritan woman. At first glance, it may seem that Jesus is lecturing this woman and that his demands for her life are too great: that she live according to the Law of God. But if we look a little deeper, we see that Christ is SAVING this woman. While He demands much from her, in the process of demanding, He is simultaneously revealing to her Eternal Life: He, Who is the way, is showing her the Way to H. And if we look how she responds to Jesus, at first she seems shocked. But by the end of the Gospel, we see the Samaritan woman starting to realize how much God is giving her. In joy and in gratitude she runs and shares the Good News with zeal and reckless abandon. For us, we are standing at that well alongside that Samaritan woman. Jesus comes to each one of us and calls us to live the glorious, yet demanding life, of Christian Saints. But as much as Christ demands, even more does He give: His very Self, the Grace of the Sacraments, and membership in His Holy Church. With Him in our life, we have everything: we can conquer sin, we can do the impossible, we can save the world with Him, we can become Saints! We, too, should be filled with joy and with gratitude for this great gift. And just like that Samaritan woman, filled with this joy and gratitude, we should run into the world and share this message of salvation to all we meet.

-Fr. Stephen Vaccaro


March 19, 2019

This week, our beloved Ms. Ronnie and her husband Mr. Peter wrote the following reflection on having gratitude in the present moment:  


As we experience joy and sorrow in this life, we can rely on our Lord Jesus Christ to lead us home as long as we strive to follow Him, and repent and return to Him when we fail.  Thank you Lord, for the gift of faith, which assures us that as we strive to live this moment according to Your Will, every trial or consolation we experience is from Your Providence.

-Ms. Ronnie and Mr. Peter

March 15, 2019

This Sunday’s Gospel tells of Christ’s transfiguration before Peter, James, and John (Luke 9:28-36). What a beautiful gift the Lord blessed them with in that moment. In preparation for Sunday’s Mass, Fr. James Hudgins, Pastor at St. Jude Parish, wrote the following reflection on the transfiguration and the humbling privilege we have to put ourselves in the presence of the Lord.


St. Thomas Aquinas once defined joy as “the conscious possession of a good.” Joy, therefore, has two prerequisites: that one possesses something good, and that one be fully aware of it. Every person alive, without exception, is blessed abundantly by God. We all possess not only some good, but many, very great blessings. However, very few people are consciously aware of just how blessed they are. This is why very few people can find joy in ordinary things. The secret of living joyfully is to grow in conscious awareness of one’s blessings.

Recognize that everything in life is an unmerited gift. Every breath, every heartbeat, even your very existence is a complete unmerited gift. The greater your humility, the greater will be your awareness of this. That awareness is gratitude itself. It’s the taproot of joy.

Joyful people never feel entitled. Entitled people think everything is owed to them. They see nothing as a gift. They have no humility, no gratitude, and therefore no joy. When Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes, they knew the greatness of God, and how much they had been given. They learned humility at that moment. Let’s put ourselves in God's presence as they did. That’s where we will learn humility. Humility is the soil in which the fruit of gratitude can grow, and the flower of joy can blossom at last.

-Fr. Hudgins


March 12. 2019

This week’s theme is ‘Gratitude and the Eucharist”. Father Michael Kelly, Parochial Vicar at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception reflected on the sacrifice of the Mass as thanksgiving to our Lord:

Has anyone ever encouraged you to think positively? It’s kind of annoying. Why should I think positively? Isn’t it just wishful thinking? And besides, if you end up like Job, how positive do you have a reason to be? Not much. What’s really wrong with positive and negative thinking is not outcomes realistic or otherwise. It’s that they are worldly thoughts. And the Eucharist is the most heavenly thing there is.

Eucharist is from the Greek word “eucharistia,” meaning “thanksgiving.” That’s an amazing thought! The Mass is an act of thanksgiving! You’ve had a thanksgiving meal every Sunday and you didn’t even have to eat turnips! The highest prayer we have, the Mass, is an act of thanksgiving to the Father from the Son on our behalf. But don’t forget it is also a sacrifice. You see Jesus, in the Mass, makes thanks to his Father and offers Himself in gratitude and reparation. This is no worldly thought. We give thanks based on what Jesus did and what the Father offered in Jesus. The next time you are at Mass, offer up everything in your life, good and bad, to the Father through Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Give thanks in everything, because that is how Jesus lived, even in his darkest bitterest moments. And give thanks for the Eucharist, a gift worthy of the highest praise.

-Fr. Kelly


March 8, 2019

This Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) tells of Christ’s 40 days of temptation and fasting in the desert prior to his public ministry. In preparation for Sunday’s Mass, Fr. Timothy Danaher, O.P., wrote the following reflection:  


The opening prayer of this Sunday’s Mass, which is called the collect, asks: “Grant, almighty God… that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ.” This is a huge theme all over Paul’s letters, even in the selection for Sunday: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him” (Romans 10:12). What is the richness of God he speaks of? Salvation. That’s a word we’ve heard all of our lives, but maybe never stopped to think about what it really means. And it’s not easy to define. Salvation involves Adam’s sin, our souls still wounded by that, God’s eternal love for us, Him coming to earth in Christ to teach us, to accomplish the mysteries of his Passion, and finally to have all of that teaching and that grace be poured out into the centuries to come, by the Spirit and through the Church. The concept of salvation is just about as complicated as the concept of life, which is why we call it new life! Lent helps us simplify the rest of our life, to do away with other riches so we pay attention to these ones, the riches in Christ. We are to discipline ourselves just enough to pay attention more to salvation. The Gospel for Sunday recounts how Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, fasting in his body and resisting the devil’s 3 temptations with his words, really, with his Sacred Heart, which loves us and is strong for us even when we’re not that way with him. In these days ahead, the whole Church disciplines herself with Christ, who is with us in our desert, and for Christ, to turn our hearts to him. What John the Baptist shouts at the start of Advent, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” we really put into practice more during Lent. Or as St. Benedict said, “Prefer nothing to Christ, who preferred nothing to you.” May that be more true for us this Lent.

-Fr. Tim


March 6, 2019

The Lenten season is upon us! To continue our theme for the year, “Joy is the fruit of appreciation” (Matthew Kelly), and as a follow up from out Spirit of Gratitude conference, Cabinet has reached out to men and women close to the Catholic Campus Ministry who are leading holy lives to write reflections on joy and gratitude throughout the Lenten season. These reflections will be sent to your inbox twice a week. On Tuesdays, we will send a reflection on joy and gratitude, and on Fridays, we will send a reflection in preparation for Sunday’s gospel. In addition, every few weeks we will have a video reflection from a student in our community in which they will tell of personal accounts of gratitude in their lives.

To kick off 40 Days of Gratitude, Mr. and Mr. Bereit together wrote a reflection on Joy and Gratitude:

To appreciate all that God has given us with a spirit of gratitude is to find joy. When we stop to look at our blessings through the lens of gratitude, it creates a sense of wonderment and joy.

Last Spring, our family was blessed to watch a cardinal build her nest in a bush near our porch. Each day as we came in and out of the house we stopped to observe her progress and were in awe of her great work. We witnessed God’s handiwork on full display! It brought us joy when she laid her eggs, they hatched, the baby cardinals grew up, and eventually flew on their own. How amazing! In the midst of the business of everyday life, we were grateful to observe God’s gift of new life.

The poet John Milton said, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

Be thankful for every moment God has given you. Don’t take anything for granted. Soak it all in! The crashing waves of the ocean. The new buds of daffodils in early spring. The joy-filled laughter of friends. All is a gift from God above. Choose an attitude of gratitude. Choose joy for the journey.


-Mr. and Mrs. Bereit