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Focus Prayer

My loving Jesus,       You have planted me in this world, in this time, for your perfect will and reason. Though I may face struggles and hardships, Thank you for the situations you have placed me in to experience and learn from. 
     This world is faced with many distractions Lord, distractions that take me away from you. I am often encouraged and told by society, strangers and even friends to do things contrary to your law, and to break my relationship with you. It is easy Lord, to lose focus on you among these encouragements, and business of my day, I am sorry for the times I have not been focused and mindful of you. 
     Amid all the distractions and stress I face today, help me to stay focused on you. Help me to stay keep always in my focus, never letting your love for me and everyone else leave my thoughts. Strengthen me as I resolve to try to remain more focused on you, for when I do, I know that everything falls into place and that you lead me down the right paths. 
Help me…

Limitless Forgiveness

Growing up I have been given a numerous amount of opinions and life advice from numerous amount of people, especially about forgiveness. Some people have insisted that you should only forgive someone once, for what they have done, others are committed to the two-chance rule. Still others tell me not to forgive if its it highly server, and many say that forgiveness should only come after they have pleaded for it. But one persons advice has always stuck out to me, even as a kid and it was this " Forgive not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

     This weekends Gospel from Matthew 18: 21:35 is an exact continuation from last weekends reading and so Jesus is talking about forgiveness again. This time, Peter approaches Jesus, and after hearing how we are to forgive one another, he asks Jesus the legitimate question: " How often should I forgive my brother or sister if they sin against me? As many as seven times?" Peter of course would have understood the backgr…

Good Shepherd Prayer

Jesus my Shepherd,  You are always good and perfect;  Your love surrounds me,  Your staff guides me,  and Your voice calls me. 
I cannot thank you enjoy  My Shepherd,  for all times you have: protected me, strengthened me,  loved me,  carried me through,  brought me to green pastures,  lead me to flowing waters,  helped me in tough situations,  and blessed me when I needed it the most. 
With my simple and humble heart I thank you fully Lord for being my Good Shepherd. 
Renew in me:  the faith to recognize your voice more in my life,  the understanding to follow your staff,  the wisdom to know your blessing,  the grace to be able to trust you more and more and the joy of hearing your voice. 
For I love you with my entire heart, my eternal and loving Father! 
AMEN 





Radical Forgiveness

Every year I am fortunate enough to teach the first Penance classes at my parish. One of the greatest challenges I face is actually teaching the kids the concept and practice of forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the most fundamental teachings in the church but to teach mere seven-year-olds forgiveness in a way that is truly conceptualized and practiced is a task almost impossible to teach in class. I struggle teaching forgiveness, because the true and heart-felt forgiveness of Christ is a radical forgiveness, and one that is hard to embrace even for the most faithful adult.

     When I was in Poland last year for World Youth Day, during the year of mercy, I heard quite often that "we must be forgiven before we can forgive." Of course this was the call to reconciliation and to turn ourselves back to Christ because only through our own personal conversion are we able to share that mercy and strong embrace from God with others. But forgiveness is first given to us, by Go…

Thinking Like Christ

Last week as I scrolled through my Instagram I came across this very inspirational photo of a couple standing in their flooded home from hurricane Harvey. The couple had a smile on their face and together were holding a framed painting of the bible verse " The Lord stood with me and gave me strength" (2 Timothy 4: 17) and then another photo I saw was a selfie of someone who stood in their flooded home, with a painting on their wall with the verse " The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving" (Psalm 28:7). These photos were inspirational because even among the hell they are facing, they still knew and remembered that God was greater than these problems, and they continuously searched for God among these situations.

    As the liturgical year begins to wind down, we begin to hear passages of Christs passion and eventually of the end of times. It begins  today…

Renew In Me This Day- Prayer!

Renew me this day, Father of life, to constantly work for your kingdom on earth.  Renew me this day, O Holy Spirit, the missionary call given by Christ himself, for me to be an apostle in this world.  Renew me this day with freshness and joy, Father of us all, to be able to love those whom are the hardest to love. Let the love I show others be my love for you exemplified.  Renew in me this day, the call to be a witness to Jesus Christ in every situation I find myself in. May I never shy away from those opportunities to proclaim Christ. Renew in me this day the desire for God, when I tempted. Renew in me the strong love for Jesus Christ, your Son O God, and let me never be separated from you.  Renew in me this day, Lord, the devotion to you in the Most Holy Eucharist, and to Mary our mother. May I never fall away from your pretense on earth and from our mother, the perfect example of faith in you.  Renew in me this day, Father of love, a heart of adoration and prayer, to be able to adore you…

A Global Church

In the early beginnings of the church the early Christian communities, defined by those whom Jesus, Peter and Paul had preached to, were faced with the challenge of allowing gentiles, that is non-Jews, into the faith. We begin to hear this challenge tackled in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 15 at the Council of Jerusalem and then more throughout St Pauls letters. The  writer of Gospel of Matthew also tackles this challenge throughout his gospel.  Writing to a Jewish-Christian community, Matthew incorporates elements of what is being experienced present into and highlights those moments from the life Jesus. Matthew would be experiencing the challenge of inclusion of non-jews into the primary Jewish faith of Christianity and the destruction of the temple by the Romans,while he was writing his Gospel. So these common themes or foreshadows will appear more so in his Gospel.

   We see time and time again, that Jesus was not limited to the Jews, nor were the apostles at Pentecost. Je…

Jesus Prayer

Jesus Christ,  Son of the living Father, Have mercy on me, for I am a sinner. 

AMEN


Center

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well
Matthew 6:33
Immediately preceding this phrase, Jesus had just taught about not worrying. He is teaching from the mountain, and he begins to teach about how we must not worry about our material needs. He points out how the flowers of the fields and the birds of the air are all looked after accordingly, so how much more God will look after us. So Jesus, preaching the sermon on the mount, preaches for us not to worry about our material things. 
    This beautiful phrase right at the end of the fascinating and relatable teaching often gets over looked by the reader and preachers. Yet this one phrase summarizes the entire point of the passage and the goal of the Christian life; that Christ should be at the center of our lives then everything else will fall into place. 
So often our society preaches empty messages that, although are alluring, do not hold up when tested. Society loves to teach  'l…

Listen To Him! - The Transfiguration

This weekend, is a rare weekend that we get to celebrate during the Sunday liturgies of Ordinary Time. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Typically, this feast always lands on August 6th and this year it landed on a Sunday. The church has a hierarchy of  which masses is to be said on which days in the case that multiple feasts, or celebrations land on the same day. For instance today, we have the 18th Sunday Of Ordinary Time and The transfiguration. However, since this feast is a feast of the Lord, it takes precedence  over the Sunday of Ordinary time. So, we are treated with the readings and celebration of the transfiguration
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     As my airplane was coming in to land in El Salvador a couple years ago, I looked out my plane window and saw a large mountain right in the center of the country. The peak was just barely above the clouds and it broke through the clouds surrounding it. For the first time in my life, as I looked out that window, I saw a mount…

Breathe In Me..

O breathe on me, O breath of God,
Fill me with life anew That I may love the things you love, And do what you would do.


O breathe on me, O breath of God, Until my heart is pure; Until my will is one with yours, To do and to endure.


O breathe on me, O breath of God, My will to yours incline, Until this earthly part of me Glows with your fire divine.


O breathe on me, O breath of God, So shall I never die, But live with you the perfect life Of your eternity.

Amen
* Prayer written by Edwin Hatch in 19th century. 


The Precious Pearl

I was at work the other day and as I was stoking the shelves in an isle, I could hear a kid in the toy isle right beside my isle say desperately to his mother, " Please mom, can I have it?! I REALLY want it!!! I NEED IT!" The kid continue to plead with his mom for a couple more minutes to which the mother said, " Will it make you happy?" and the child screams in excitement " YES it will!! It will make me the happiest boy  ever!" and the mother bought it for the child.

    Again this weekend in the Gospel Jesus presents us with three new parables. These are the last three parables in the "parable day" recorded in Matthew 13. Through out these teachings Jesus reveals to us the mysteries of the kingdom. He begins by taking what we do not know and do not understand- the kingdom of heaven- and comparing it to a scenario, situation or thing that we do understand and could relate to. So today, he presents two twin parables that reveal to us the jo…

The Mustard Seed

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard see that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." - Matthew 13:31-32

     One of those beautiful and well known parables, arguably, is this one. Jesus is on the side of the mountain, teaching the crowds with parables. He is taking something well known and comparing it to the mysteries of his kingdom.  Right from the get-go of his teachings we are able to see and know that the kingdom he preaches his not a normal kingdom. It is not an overpowering and harsh ruling kingdom, nor is it a kingdom of hard labor and heavy yokes. Rather, it is a kingdom, that is humble, has wheat and weeds, produces hundred folds, and is a kingdom focused on the other. It is a kingdom of others; a kingdom looking outwards of it self finding ways to help everyone, excluding no one. The king of …

Wheat and Weeds

Last weekend we heard the Gospel of Jesus teaching the crowds through the parable of the sower. Again today, Jesus teaches the crowds with three more parables. Let us look at the first of the three today. He begins by describing how the kingdom of heaven is comparable to again a sower who sows wheat seeds during the day. At night, without the sowers knowledge, an enemy comes along and plants weeds in the field as well. Then as it becomes close to harvest, the slaves notice that weeds had been planted and they wanted to pick them out, but the farmer, being wise, lets them grow together and will harvest both later.

     Many biblical scholars agree that the weed mentioned in this parable is darnel. Darnel is a wheat look-a-like that is highly toxic and only distinguishable from wheat at the time of harvest. So when they realized their was weeds why didn't they pull them out? They didn't pull it out because it looked exactly like wheat and they did not want to risk pulling o…

The Soil of the Heart

I am sure if you were to ask any of my friends if I am a good at texting or responding to emails I am positive you would get an overwhelming reply of "absolutely not."It is not that I hate texts or emails it is just a fact that I am a slow at responding.  I will normally see an email or text at one point and either not respond thinking I will respond later, or just end up forgetting about it. If, in the cases I do respond, my answers are not the most engaging, emotion filled or add much to the conversation.This would definitely come off surprising knowing how, like many other teens and young adults, much time I spend on my phone.