Immediately after being ordained as a deacon, my classmates and I were sent on a missionary experience to the Dominican Republic in a village about two hours away outside the city of San Juan. It was an exciting and somewhat intimidating experience since it was an unfamiliar environment with its own unique challenges. However, we were looking forward to exercising our ministry just weeks after taking our promises to serve the Church.
As we prepare for the upcoming Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, our Gospel reading this Sunday helps us go deeper in our understanding of who Jesus is and the salvation we received through His sacrifice on the Cross. It is Christ’s love willing to endure great suffering in order to restore humanity back to the dignity prior to our fall that saved us. This is also the love that we are asked to live by in order to bring life or something good to others.
Growing up in an open adoption allowed me to spend time with my natural family who lived not too far away from our house. When school was out, I would sometimes stay with my birth family and get to know my three brothers.
Asked how he came up with the name for his jeans apparel company “True Religion,” founder Jeff Lubell said in a Los Angeles Times article, “To me, it meant there’s many religions in the world, but there’s only one real religion — and that’s people. And all the people in the world wear jeans” (“His Jeans have a Cult Following,” Andrea Chang, February 1, 2009). No offense, Mr. Lubell, but that’s not that accurate.
Playing the keyboard and organ in churches for over a decade before finally taking the leap and entering the seminary, I always made it a point to slow down and accentuate the last few lines of the hymn, “Look Beyond,” so as to capture the potency, and sadness, of the request Jesus makes of His disciples to not abandon Him, as others had done, as He reveals Himself — and doesn’t speak metaphorically — to be the very Bread of Life that is going to feed them as they journey to eternal life.
Although this may sound contrived, every word of this is true. While attending the Memorial Day ordination weekend in May 2018 of a former classmate, Father Ed Shikina, in the diocese of Columbus, Ohio, a number of us priests, seminarians, and others had decided to go for a Rosary walk by a stream in one of Columbus’ public parks.
This past school year saw a particularly astute and inquisitive group of third-graders at St. Mark Catholic Academy in Sheepshead Bay.
Over the recent Corpus Christi weekend, I had an opportunity to accompany a buddy of mine on a whirlwind, three- and-a-half-day trip to Istanbul, Turkey, where the wonderful beauty, charm, culture, and friendly, pious people that make up this ancient city, famously once known and established by Roman emperor Constantine the Great as Constantinople, left a lasting impression on me — the over 900 photos and six videos in my phone from Istanbul lay claim to this.
Back in January, Pope Francis asked that this Sunday be observed as World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, since July 26th is the feast of Saints Joachim & Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
In my last article, I wrote about the Gospel’s special place in my heart as the reading at my ordination. Today’s Gospel holds a similar place in my heart, but for a very different reason. I was ordained June 7th, and on August 4th, the memorial of St. John Vianney, patron of priests, my first pastor died.