Eyes of Faith

Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.

I learned a long time ago that trust is difficult to come by and equally as difficult to maintain. I also learned a long time ago that there are only two beings that can be trusted implicitly and in all situations. Two beings that will never disappoint when trust is placed in them.

Can you guess whom they may be? I’ll go so far as to share that even though I learned this long ago, I still find it difficult to completely trust them. Any guesses further? Of course, it is Jesus (God) and His mother, Mary.

My faith story has evidence all over the place that Jesus and Mary are the only two individuals that, when asked to assist me, never disappoint. Granted their time frame is not my time frame, and their way of coming through for me is not always what I anticipated, but they ALWAYS come through. Eyes of faith have allowed me to see it. To place one’s trust in Jesus and Mary can have the most profound impact on how a person approaches life and appreciates what life offers.

Even still, I like to be in control and think I have it taken care of. I usually make a mess of it when I think this way. Eyes of faith tell me the “mess” is God saying “Give it to me. I’ll take care of it.” After all this time, you would think I would have learned to just trust. One would think by now I would just instinctively “let go and let God” as the saying goes. I don’t. I don’t automatically give it to God to handle things, unless I know I can’t really handle it.

I wonder why that is. Do I enjoy suffering? Am I a glutton for punishment? When I learned and used the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I expanded my appreciation for how the power of God in my life can change the outcome of troublesome situations. I have other such prayers in my arsenal, but this one, for some reason, works the fastest. Holding in my head the troublesome situation while praying brings peace, and therefore clarity. God answers through my prayer. I am able to “see” what needs to be done. The Chaplet blends Jesus and Mary, as the image of the Divine Mercy allows Jesus’s saving grace to shine upon the situation, while hands move feverishly on Rosary beads. It is one of the perfect formal prayers of the Catholic Church. Thank you, St. Faustina, for sharing it.

I would highly recommend it if you are dwelling on a situation that seems overwhelming and out of control. I would recommend it if you find yourself hurt by the actions of others or if you are needing the opportunity to find mercy from someone you hurt. I would recommend it when you feel lost. Here’s a great resource: www.praydivinemercy.com

Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you.

 

Jill Fischer is Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

 

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The Upper Room

Imagine a group of men gathered together in one room. Imagine the conversations and the quiet moments. Imagine the anxiety at every small noise or large shadow.

Imagine the remaining disciples, living every moment in fear, locked in The Upper Room after Jesus was crucified and buried.

According to Mark, The Upper Room was a large chamber furnished with couches and suitable for a dining room. It was here in The Upper Room, only days earlier, twelve men and Jesus broke bread and drank wine together.

It was here in The Upper Room, Jesus washed the feet of the men He had traveled with over the past several years.

It was here in The Upper Room, Jesus declared that one of these men, men that he loved, would betray Him.

Scholars have often discussed the age of the disciples. Many have theorized that the twelve may have been a bit younger than Jesus. That would put the apostles’ ages somewhere in their 20’s at the time of the crucifixion.

Imagine young men in their twenties, locked together in fear, wondering what happened to their lives, wondering what they should do next.

And then they get their answer. And of course it happened in The Upper Room.

“Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (John 20)

Today, many of us continue to live in our own Upper Room. We may lock the doors. We may live in some sort of fear. We may even wonder, what happened to my life? What should I do next?

But like the disciples, we have reason to rejoice. Because the next thing that Jesus said in The Upper Room 2000 years ago, He also says to us today:

“Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you.”

Jesus is sending us out into the world. He is entrusting us to continue His mission. He’s asking us to live our lives with God at the center of everything that we do.

That’s something that is easy to imagine.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

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.

 

 

Once is Enough

There was a story that circulated many years ago that the phrase “Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible 365 times, once for each day of the year.

While this is a nice idea, it did not turn out to be true.

Many Catholic websites do however indicate that “Do not be afraid” or “Be Not Afraid” are indeed the most repeated phrases in the Bible. In fact, they appear over 100 times through the Old and New Testaments in various forms.

We human beings are worriers. We worry about money, we worry about our health, we worry about our kids, we worry about…everything.

While there may be 100+ references that we may read for comfort in the Bible, there is only one specific reference that we truly need:

From Matthew, Chapter 28: 

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it…

“…I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said…”

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Do not be afraid because I have died for your sins and returned from the dead. Just as I promised.

The next time you feel a wave of worry or are overcome with anxiety, imagine yourself running with the two Marys away from the tomb. See Jesus in front of you, standing in the road. Picture Him smiling at you as you embrace His feet.

Imagine Him turning to you, looking directly into your eyes and saying, “Do not be afraid.”

We don’t need it 365 times. Once is enough.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

 

The Call of the Lord

A Message from Fr. John Gibson

Christus resurrexit, sicut dixit, Alleluia! Christ has risen as He said He would, Alleluia!

A very happy and blessed Easter to you all!

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture happens to be one of the accounts of the resurrection—when Mary Magdalene runs to the tomb to find Jesus, but only finds a man who she thinks to be the gardener. She does not recognize the Lord at first, so she begs the “gardener” to tell her where he has placed the Lord. It is at this point that Jesus says to her, “Mary!” He calls her by name and she immediately recognizes the Lord.

This passage has always caused me to wonder what it was about Jesus’ address to her that immediately caused her eyes to be opened. Was it the familiar sound of his voice, or perhaps the way He looked at her? I don’t get very far in asking that question before I stop to hear the voice of the Lord call to my own heart. And in the depths of that heart I encounter a love that is greater than anything that this world can offer.

Deep within the heart of each one of us is the call of the one who created us, who knit us in the womb, who calls us by name. “Lord you have probed me and you know me” (Psalm 139:1).

May you encounter the call of the Lord in a most profound way this Easter season, as His promise to win us back is fulfilled!

Christ is risen, He is truly risen! Alleluia!

 

Fr. John Gibson is the Associate Pastor at St. Dominic Catholic Parish

 

Peter

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about Peter.

Peter was not only a Disciple of Jesus, but he was Jesus’s friend. He, along with James and John, formed the “inner circle.”

They had a unique relationship with Christ on earth, and shared a variety of moments together. Two of those moments included the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. (Talk about moments that will change you forever!)

Peter loved Jesus. And Jesus loved Peter.

Which makes the denial in Courtyard after Jesus was arrested that much more confusing and sad. Every year, when we hear the Passion of Christ, we all think the same thing: how could Peter deny him? What was he thinking?

This always makes me wonder: what would I have done if I were Peter back in the Courtyard? Would I have had the courage to say, “Yes, I know this man. I was with Him. I believe in him. He is my friend.”

Or would I do everything in my power to avoid being called out, arrested, and eventually crucified. (I’m not sure any of us can truly comprehend the pain and suffering of crucifixion.)

I’d like to think that I would defend Jesus, that my convictions would be strong. But fear is a powerful master and it has a way of controlling our thoughts and actions. After all, Peter loved Jesus, he followed Jesus, he was one of His most important disciples. And Peter still denied Jesus.

So here we are, some 2000-odd-years later, and I ask myself an important question. Am I denying Christ in some way today?

  • Am I denying Him with my words or actions?
  • Am I denying Him with my lack of words or actions?
  • Am I denying Him by putting my own personal needs above what He is calling me to be?

Or do I stand proud and say, “Yes, I know this man. I walk with him daily. I believe in Him. He is my friend?”

What do I have to be afraid of?

 

Dan Herda is an editor for theROCK.

 

Let It

A Message from Fr. Dennis Saran

Maybe you’re overworked with your job and your house and you feel like you are about to be overwhelmed…let it.

Maybe you are tired and worn out from trying and fighting against a life that seems unfair and your heart is slowing …let it.

Maybe you have lost your family and friends and the echo of loneliness is all that is heard and your heart wants to cry out…let it.

Maybe you are close to the realization of death and the darkness of fear is what surrounds you…let it.

Maybe you have received some kindness and a heart that seemed dead wants to beat anew…let it.

Maybe the Holy Spirit has called you this Lent and there seems a wanting to enter into your soul a new longing for Jesus…let it.

Maybe you are ready, after all your running away and hiding from God, to have your heart submit …let it.

We both rejoice and prepare for the greatest mystery of our lives… the mystery of suffering, death, and new life. This mystery needs to be let in – not around your everyday experiences – but through them. We need not come to the Easter Season having performed a momentous act of faith, but with simple acts of sacrifice offered in humility. We need to surrender to suffering, death, and new life.

Maybe you have struggled with your Lenten sacrifices and you only feebly hold a palm branch as you offer not greatness, but weakness as your gift…come welcome our King to the glory of the Father.

 

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

The Triduum

Nestled within Holy Week is the Triduum, the three holiest days of the year. They are neither part of Lent nor part of Easter. I love the Triduum more than I love Christmas and Easter combined. Is that crazy?

It is rooted in the traditions I had as a child. We would always attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The pomp and circumstance associated with this Mass has always fascinated me, especially the use of Latin. I pray that our churches never relinquish this practice. I love the whole idea of washing the feet. I always wished I could be one of the chosen to do the washing. How cool is that! To do something truly in the image of Jesus for others! I never miss the opportunity to have my feet washed, as I strive to be the servant leader that Jesus wants me to be.

With Holy Thursday Mass being later into the evening, it made coming home from church foreign to the usual Sunday morning ritual. I remember how odd it felt coming home from church at night and wondering, “What do I do now?” Nothing seemed quite right. I imagine that’s how the apostles felt upon the arrest of Jesus at the garden – nothing felt quite right.

Good Friday is deeply steeped in memories. My younger brother and I ALWAYS had to watch “Jesus of Nazareth”. I credit my knowledge of the gospels to this annual viewing.  It is in watching this mini-series, year in and year out, that helped me to really know Jesus and appreciate what He did for me, for us. My parents kept Good Friday sacred. We truly fasted and it was tradition for our family to go to 3:00 services on Good Friday, followed by a good dose of reconciliation. I ALWAYS cry if “Were You There” is sung. Show Stopper. I have experienced death enough in my life that Jesus’s dying is real. I identify with it. I don’t apologize for it.

Admittedly, we rarely went to the Easter Vigil. Therefore, I never fully appreciated it until my sister-in-law was baptized 18 years ago during the Easter Vigil. What a rich ceremony! It is an evening to learn the history of our faith. It is beautiful!

As an adult, there remains this excitement, as I try to maintain the traditions that helped me fall in love with Jesus for my own family. My own life experiences, especially as a mother, and as I get older, help me to identify more and more with the passion of our Lord and the suffering endured by His mother. By intentionally allowing myself to visualize and be in the story, in real time, as I often did with my students, I “get it” more and more. Our faith is a gift, meant to be reopened time and time again.

Allow the Triduum to work inside you, to make you fall in love with Jesus for the first time or the fifty first time.

Peace.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

Sgt. Pepper’s and the Sermon on the Mount

Several years, Rolling Stone Magazine chose the top 500 albums of all time. Number one on the list, was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The magazine said: “Sgt. Pepper’s is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time.”

The album, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is filled with timeless hits, still played by millions today. The beauty of these “hits” is that all of the songs on the album fit perfectly together; they form one cohesive theme and sound.

What if we ranked the greatest hits in Scripture, Jesus’s theme or message? What would be our number one?

I think The Sermon on the Mount would be ranked extremely high, if not right near the top by Christians everywhere.

Think about the “hits” from these writings:

  • We learn the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”)
  • We hear about salt and light (“Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”)
  • We hear the teachings about the law (“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”)
  • We hear about anger (“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”)
  • We learn to pray (“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”)
  • We learn the Golden Rule (“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”)

And the hits just keep on coming, all with one cohesive theme and sound.

These words challenge us. They make us ponder who we are. They ask us to examine how we are living our lives every single day.

We often return to a classic or favorite album, listening to it over and over for joy and comfort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do the same with these inspiring words?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

 

I Can Do All Things in Him Who Strengthens Me

Do you ever feel you are not worthy of God’s love? I do, but thankfully, He thinks I am.

Or do you ever fall into the trap of thinking that God will love us no matter what, and He will, and therefore we can go around doing what we want whenever we want?

We have been created to love and be love to others. We are created in His image and likeness, a privilege not a one of us has asked for, but was freely given.

Just as in any relationship, freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. We have a tremendous amount of freedom, but we have a responsibility to use it to do God’s will. This is a huge responsibility and thankfully, He thinks we can do it. He empowers us with gifts of grace and virtue to make it happen. He provides us with sacraments to help us stay true to that gift.

Why in the world don’t we take it? Do we really not want to receive it?

Heaven is not a given. Then why do we hesitate to fully participate in our responsibilities to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves? Why do we restrict ourselves from our full potential?

I think I will ponder on that.

“St. Paul said, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me.’ You must come to the conviction that with Jesus, you can do all things. Even the weakness that troubles you, you can get rid of with him.” – Mother Theresa, Thirsting for God

 
Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School