Surrounding Ourselves

A message from Kurt Peot.

We all share some common human characteristics. When things are tough, we tend to complain. When God led the Israelites out of slavery, they complained about how hungry they were. They even told Moses they were better off in slavery, at least their bellies were full.

But God God heard their prayer, if you can call it that, and provides manna and quail.

We also like to believe that we can manage or overcome anything on our own, if we try hard enough. Yet, that can-do attitude runs up against the reality that we are limited. And many of the things we seek and strive so hard for are really things that are temporary.

The crowd that Jesus fed with the loaves and fishes see a great sign, and they misunderstand it completely. They see Jesus as their warrior King who will lead them in triumphant battle against the Romans. Jesus explains to them they should be seeking something much more permanent, eternal life. To find that eternal life they need do nothing more than come to Him, believe in Him, and they will receive this amazing gift.

So, it is for us. Rather than complaining, or “grabbing the bull by the horns,” how about we rearrange our priorities, pray for Jesus’ help, and surrender ourselves into His loving arms, expecting we will find eternal life as a reward.

 

Kurt Peot, parishioner and diaconate candidate

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Who is Jesus?

A Message from Deacon Greg Diciaula

In Mark’s  Gospel, we learn some interesting details about Jesus’ early life. He’s known to be a carpenter, probably learning this trade from Joseph. Strangely, Mark describes Jesus as “the son of Mary.” This is unusual since adult males were typically identified with the name of their fathers. Brothers and sisters of Jesus are also mentioned. Scripture scholars are divided on how to interpret this.

As Catholics, we believe that Mary was and always remained a virgin, thus we don’t believe that this refers to other children of Mary. Some scholars suggest that these family members might be Joseph’s children from a previous marriage. Others explain the words brother and sister often referred to relatives, including cousins or nieces, and nephews.

The theme of Mark’s Gospel is: who is Jesus? The townspeople of Nazareth might know the carpenter, the son of Mary, but they don’t know Jesus, the Son of God. We’re told that Jesus is hampered from performing miracles in Nazareth because the people lack faith. Mark is foreshadowing Jesus’ rejection by his own people, the people of Israel. While many of the first Christians were Jewish, Christianity took hold and flourished in the Gentile communities. Mark is writing for a mostly Gentile community, who may have been experiencing persecution. By showing that Jesus himself was rejected, Mark consoles and reassures his first readers.

He is also alerting us of the possible consequences of Christian discipleship. By living as disciples of Jesus in an increasingly secular world, are we willing to accept ridicule, criticism and possible rejection?

God bless you!

 

Deacon Greg Diciaula

Talitha koum

“God did not make death…God formed man to be imperishable.” (Wisdom 1:13, 2:23)

Death enters our world through sin; life enters through God. Jesus further demonstrates this when he raises a young girl from the dead. (Mark 5:21-43) In this story, a synagogue official named Jairus begs Jesus to heal his daughter, and Jesus immediately agrees. By the time Jesus arrives at the house, the girl has died. Jesus raises the girl from the dead by saying, “Talitha koum,” meaning “little girl, arise.”

Jesus desires to do the same thing for us: to breathe life into our lives, to give us “life to the full.” (John 10:10) Most of us have never witnessed Jesus raising someone from the dead, but how often has he raised us from spiritual death through the confessional?

How often have we witnessed the Holy Spirit breathe new life into a marriage, or bring healing to heartbreak? When we suffer heartache, anxiety, and even death, God is there suffering with us. He mourns our losses the same way that he delights in our joys and our love. He invites us to bring him our sorrow and our pain, to let him carry that cross with us, until at last death is no more.

Let us offer to Jesus every part of our lives that feels dark and every part that needs healing, so we too may allow Jesus to take us by the hand, and say, “Talitha koum”.

 

Sarah Daszczuk is the Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministry & Evangelization at St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

A Message from Mary Lestina

As a child, I remember walking into my grandma’s home and seeing the pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary side-by-side on the living room wall. It was an image that I will never forget, and I often talked about it with my mom in the car after our visit.

My Mom’s answer was unforgettable. “Jesus and Mary love us so much that their hearts beat for us every moment and hope that one day our hearts will beat completely for them.”

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form is derived from a Roman Catholic nun from France, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus during a series of apparitions between 1673 and 1675. In the 19th century, there were mystical revelations of another Roman Catholic nun in Portugal, Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart, who requested in the name of Christ that Pope Leo XIII consecrate the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Let us unite in prayer that the reception of Holy Communion will lead us closer to Him and that He will form us into His image.

Let’s invite Him into our hearts and welcome Him into our lives.

 

 

Mary Lestina is the Pastoral Associate at St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

 

Anything But Ordinary

Ordinary Time. In the Church, we put away our white vestments and to the happiness of the Irish, put on the green.

Ordinary time takes us through summer and fall until once again we begin the first week of Advent. Ordinary time does have a few special Sundays: Trinity Sunday and the feast of Corpus Christi. However, our religious fervor, our Lenten observances, our Easter joy, our vows to become more a disciple of Christ, can quickly become ordinary as well. Just like our New Year’s resolutions became lost in our busy-ness, so too can our relationship to Jesus.

Here is what I suggest for summer.

Read the scriptures. Get a periodical that gives you the daily readings. Ordinary time readings give us a chance to reflect on how God calls us to live as disciples of Jesus. Weekday readings tell of the varied responses to God’s call and his call back to those who have strayed.

Secondly, attend Sunday Mass. It can be hard with sports, summer projects, and vacations, but remember, recreation means ‘re-creation’ and a great time to live a summer of gratitude for creation and all of God’s gifts.

Finally, remember someone else. Ordinary Time is a good time to re-connect with someone who may be homebound. Bring them to church, pick up some groceries, cut their grass, offer yourself for something greater.

If you do all three of these things, I promise you time your summer and fall will be anything but ordinary.

 

 

Fr. Dennis Saran is the Pastor of St. Dominic Catholic Church.

 

The Love of a Mother Made Perfect

A Message from Deacon Greg Diciaula

Each year on Mother’s Day, as we express the love and gratitude we feel for our mothers, I also reflect on the gift that Jesus gave to us before the total gift of Himself on the Cross; the gift of His mother to be our own.

May is the month dedicated to Mary, the Mother of our Lord. Jesus entrusted Mary to his beloved disciple and to the entire Church with these tender words recorded in John’s Gospel:

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:26, 27

Mary was there at the incarnation, birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. She was there on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. She was there as the first evangelizer and disciple, as she visited with her cousin, Elizabeth.

Her “Fiat” (Let it be done) given in response to the angel Gabriel, provides an example for each one of us. Mary said “Yes” and her humble surrender serves as a model for the vocation of every Christian.

Through her response, Mary shows each one of us the pattern of human love surrendered to God’s love, and finding its fulfillment. She also shows us the love of a mother made perfect.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…

 

Deacon Greg Diciaula

Celebrating New Life

A Message from Debbie Olla

In the Church, we celebrate “new life” through the Risen Christ, in our liturgical environment, in the celebration of new catechumens, and the sacraments of First Communion and confirmation.

This spring, my head is full of thoughts about confirmation and how it brings new life into the candidates we have been journeying with over the past year.

“Be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” This is what the bishop says as he anoints with the Holy Chrism. I don’t know about you, but for me this is exciting.

The Holy Spirit strengthens us for ongoing service as the Body of Christ, the Church in the world. The Catechism states it this way for the sacrament of confirmation: “It gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross. God the Father has marked you with His sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.” (CCC 1303).

Working with the candidates each year, I am so thankful for the reminder it brings to me as a confirmed Catholic of the importance of the Holy Spirit in my own life. It makes me take time to reflect on how I call on the Holy Spirit to help me defend my faith in all circumstances. How I live for Christ.

I heard this saying awhile back, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It sure made me stop and think, is there? I like to switch out the word Christian for catholic, witness, disciple. Confirmation is not only an anointing, but also a commissioning to live out our faith in the world. I need to constantly call on the Holy Spirit to help stir within me the gifts received at my own confirmation, to continue to allow the Holy Spirit to move in and around me.

As our young people present themselves to be fully initiated into the church, to be “sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” to receive “New Life” in their faith journey, please pray for all those who present themselves for the sacrament of confirmation during Eastertime and take a moment to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your own life.

 

Debbie Olla is Director of Youth Formation for St Dominic Catholic Parish.

The Good Shepherd

A Message from Paul Burzynski

In our modern age, we really “don’t get” the whole idea of shepherding, and I think I would be safe to say that not many of us know a shepherd.

But in the time of Jesus, the idea of shepherding was very understandable.

We hear much about shepherd in Sacred Scripture: The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18: 12—14), Jesus telling Peter to “tend my sheep,” (John 21:17) and chapter 10 of John’s gospel when Jesus proclaims that he is the Good Shepherd.

Today, Jesus continues to be the Good Shepherd through the work of his shepherds, or pastors (which comes from Latin, meaning shepherd). Today might be a good time for us to hold the pastors of our Church close in prayer.

Let our prayers be for our Holy Father, Francis, our bishops, clergy, including our St. Dominic shepherds, Father Saran, Father Gibson, Deacon LaFond, Deacon Diciaula and our soon to be associate pastor, Deacon Laskiewicz, who embody the image of the Good Shepherd.

May they continue to be loving, strong and self-sacrificing in their vocation, and be a patient guide to the sheep who rely on their safe care.

 

Paul Burzynski is the Director of Music & Liturgy for St. Dominic Catholic Parish

We Have a Mission

A Message from Kurt Peot

The greatest news ever received: the Messiah, as predicted by scripture and the prophets, has come in Jesus Christ, fulfilling all that was written about Him, and He has risen from the dead! He has set us free from our sin and returned us to being a part of the Trinity through Him!

After his resurrection, Christ was intent on proving to His disciples that His glorified body, while different in appearance and no longer constrained by space and time, is still physical, having flesh and bones. He encouraged them to touch Him, see Him and eat with Him. Certainly, no ghost can eat. A ghost would have been easier for the disciples to wrap their minds around than a physically resurrected Christ.

How is it for you?

Jesus suffered and died so that He could rescue us from our sin. It’s easy for me to think of Him as divine, and so of course, He could do and endure all that He did. But, as a man, it seems harder, darn near impossible. Yet, He did, because He loves us and loves the Father.

What does He ask of us in return?

We started on Ash Wednesday, “repent and believe in the Gospel.” Now, He asks us to go and preach the Good News, in His name, to all nations. The Good News that He suffered, died and rose from the dead so that we could spend eternity with Him and the Father.

We have a mission! We have been called! We have been sent! Where will we go today and to whom will we proclaim the Good News?

Jesus Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

 

Kurt Peot is a member of St. Dominic Catholic Parish. He recently was accepted into the introductory phase of diaconate formation and discernment.

 

Jesus, I Trust in You

A Message from Mary Lestina

I remember as a child dressing up for Mass on Sundays and trying to leave home early enough to get a seat in the church. Often times, we ended up in the choir loft, which made me eye level with the large crucifix on the back wall. I remember looking deep into His eyes.

I will never forget the amazing decorations in the church at Easter. The abundant number of flowers made me aware that Easter was an extraordinary feast in the Church. The images and symbols that we witness as a child help form our adult life of faith and instill memories that we never forget.

Last week on Easter, we sang the “alleluia” for the first time since Lent began. A woman shared with me that she finally had the courage to go to confession after 30 years, and felt such a light and peace inside.

Easter time is the celebration of Christ’s life in us and His unending mercy and love.

The first Sunday after Easter, we celebrate the feast of Divine Mercy, as decreed by St. Pope John Paul II. Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, Sr. Faustina in the early 20th century, and asked that the image be painted with the words, “Jesus I trust in you.” The picture shows the grace, mercy and love emanating from the heart of Jesus. Looking deeply into the eyes of Jesus in the picture, I realize how much He loves me.

As a child being drawn to our Lord at Mass, we grow in the realization of his great love for us every day. In the coming week, join me in the morning prayer, “Jesus you love me with perfect love. Give me the grace to love you throughout this day and every day.”

 

Mary Lestina is the Pastoral Minister and Director of Adult and Family Ministry at St. Dominic Catholic Parish.