Rediscover the Saints
All the current global and local news getting you down? If you're overwhelmed or just plain tired of all the doom and gloom, you could probably use a spiritual tiramisu (literally means "pick me up" in Italian). Matthew Kelly's Rediscover the Saints offers just the right dose of encouragement and optimism to inspire and motivate. It's an easy read and chances are, you already have it at home. It was gifted to parishioners by Fr. Chad at Christmastime.
Excerpt from Rediscover the Saints:
They say every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. If I could lean in close to you and whisper something in your ear, it would be this: If there are pieces of your past that are weighing you down, it's time to leave them behind. You are not what has happened to you. You are someone unimaginably greater than you have ever considered, and maybe it's time to consider all the possibilities that are within you. From the perspective of St. Dismas, "the good thief" who was crucified along with Jesus. Known for his 'death bed repentance', he asked our Lord, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
If you picked up a copy of Rediscover the Saints at church but haven't had time to read it, pick it up. But this time, open it and just read the prologue: The First Saint.
You won't want to put it down. Did I mention this is also this month's book for Book Club? Come join us on Friday, February 21st at 7:30pm as we get together to discuss this truly uplifting book.. If you don't have the book, contact the church office or SGC board member for a free copy of the book.
Whether you were rooting for the Niners or the Chiefs, the Superbowl delivered a very disappointing result for those who value the sanctity of life. For months leading up to the event that was watched by 99.9 million viewers, Fox Network did not run a 2-minute ad pitched by Faces of Choice, an organization that brings awareness to the survivors of unsuccessful abortion attempts. The campaign asserts that these people did not have a voice when they were nearly killed in their mothers' wombs and they deserve to be heard now.
As a show of support, Faces of Choice posted an online petition and encouraged viewers to turn off our TV during the commercials, and instead watch the videos that tell the moving stories of these survivors at Faces of Choice website. Watch the unapproved video here or the 30-second version, that allows people who lived through botched abortions to tell their stories of how their parents nearly robbed them of their lives. They are stories of strength, compassion, and reunion.
Regardless of your political leanings, as Catholics we believe that human life begins at conception and that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2270) "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." (Jeremiah 1:5). Please share the Faces of Choice campaign on your social media. Cultural change is in the air for the pro-life movement. Help charge that change.
The word of the day is viaticum. It's the final Eucharist received before death, usually as part of the Last Rites. The word viaticum is Latin for "provision for the journey". In sacred liturgy, viaticum refers to the provision for the passage out of this world into the next. This word came up in recent news that shocked the nation. Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, 41, died Sunday in a helicopter crash. BUT it comforts many that he and his 13 year-old daughter Gianna who also died in the crash, were seen at the 7 o'clock mass that morning and received what was to be their last Holy Communion, their viaticum.
Kobe Bryant: Death of Catholic
While Bryant's fame comes from his 20-year basketball career playing for the LA Lakers, his past was tainted by the accusations of rape. He retired in 2016 and led a more private life. News of Bryant's fatal accident sparked reactions from fellow athletes, fans, and of course a plethora of media outlets. Much to my surprise, the news even made headlines on Relevant Radio, highlighting the fact that Bryant was not only a basketball celebrity; he was also Catholic.
On Morning Air, Fr. Edward Looney offered lessons on what we, as Catholics, can learn from the life and death of Kobe Bryant.
And Let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
Pray to Protect Sanctity of Life
Today, January 22nd is the "Day of Prayer for Legal Protection of the Unborn" as designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and approved by the Holy See. Catholics are called to prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. Celebrants may use readings for giving thanks to God for human life or for the preservation of peace and justice.
Why today? On this solemn day in 1973, Roe v. Wade made abortion legal and since then 60 million babies have died in the name of "a woman's right to choose". But God is hope and He asks us to be the light. (Matt 5:14) Thousands of Americans have answered the call this month through pro-life rallies across the country. Women, men, politicians, youth, every citizen are standing up to be the voice the voiceless who have no choice. Chicago had a rally on January 11th, Washington D.C.'s National March For Life will be this Friday, January 24th and Arizona's was held last Saturday.
AZ For Life
Hats off to all who walked with us past weekend for the AZ For Life March & Rally! There was a large group of us from Corpus Christi downtown last Saturday, excited as we gathered in front of City Hall. For most of us, it was our first time attending a pro-life rally. Marching with our signs in hand and chanting "pro life, pro women" was energizing and empowering to say the least! Speakers included Bishop Olmsted and Governor Doug Ducey. Pro Life advocate Abby Johnson on whom the movie Unplanned was based, was the keynote speaker. She addressed the crowd with heartfelt sincerity, inspiring pro lifers to boldly speak up against abortion, noting that our counterparts spread their rhetoric regardless of who they offend.
Her message was about redemption, about transforming hearts. "I'd been in the [abortion] industry for 12 years. It wasn't too late for me." Abby started a nonprofit called And Then There Were None to help abortion clinic workers leave the industry. She testifies that to be successful our pro life campaign must be pro love. It's not enough to support women through pregnancy. As a society and as brothers & sisters in Christ, our support needs to last a lifetime.
"I noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."
President Ronald Reagan
Abby's Message of Hope
Abby was as dynamic as she was inspirational, addressing all generations in attendance. She said it's encouraging to see more and more young people joining the movement in the ten years that she's been part of the pro life campaign. She declared 2020 "the year of the man", insisting that men are equally responsible for conception so they should protect the life they helped to conceive. Abby credited our elders in the crowd since they've been at this since before she was born.
Take aways from the rally:
What can you do to help? Start here #FastForLife
Thank you for a blessed and memorable Advent & Christmas season! A special thanks to our SGC sisters who helped organize and set up the Christmas Brunch & Christmas Ornament Exchange Dinner. This week enter into the Ordinary Time of our liturgical calendar.
Christmas Miracle in Ordinary Days
Even into my adulthood, I looked forward to the Christmas holiday season which most people consider Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. I loved everything about it. The gathering of family, preparing feasts, shopping and wrapping presents, baking cookies, watching movies. So when all of the festivities ended, I was left feeling down. Maybe even depressed. I wasn't even aware of this until I moved to Phoenix. I had attributed my depression to the cold, dreary weather.
Tiring though it would be, I wished it was Christmas all year round. But it wasn't the ham, the presents, or the shopping. What warmed my heart was the feeling. It was the anticipation, the excitement of preparing for a special day. Well, what's more special than the Second Coming? (Yes! That's how I started thinking after a few sessions of Coffee Break bible study.) I realized that as long as I kept Christ in my heart, the Christmas spirit is alive all year long! While we can't physically, make every day Christmas, we can and should re-create the best and most important part--the spiritual aspect.
So how can we make every day Christmas?
In Middle of Christmas: Happy Epiphany
Merry Christmas! What?! But Advent is over. Yes, indeed Advent which is our preparation for the Lord's coming is done. Now he has arrived! It's a boy! He's a priest. He's a king. He's human. He's divine. All the purposes of Advent is fulfilled as the young messiah is revealed to be the light of all nations. This wondrous revelation is what we call The Epiphany which we celebrate as an integral part of Christmas season.
At yesterday's mass we celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Epiphany is celebrated either on January 6 or, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.
My husband and I had the honor of explaining Epiphany to a group of pre-K to third graders for Children's Liturgy during morning mass. Most of us have heard the story 'the Three Kings' since we were their age. As a child, I understood the jist of it but I never understood the deeper meaning behind the three gifts. Why gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
The Roman Catholic Church's liturgical calendar indicates that next Sunday, January 12th is the end of the Christmas season. It concludes with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. So that gives us one more week to feast, exchange gifts, or celebrate the Lord's birth. More importantly, now that the secular world has concluded their hustle and bustle, there is time to reflect on the AWESOMENESS of the Nativity. God sent us the greatest gift of all, Himself...when He sent his Son as our Savior. So go on. Continue joyfully to seek Him in your bible reading, in adoration, in your king cake!
December 6th Feast of St. Nicholas
For the families out there who traditionally celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas, you may find yourselves in a quandary in light of the recent request that also falls on Dec. 6th. Four world-renowned exorcists have issued a joint statement urging Christians to participate in a world-wide prayer and fasting in reparation “for the purpose of driving out any diabolic influence within the Church that has been gained as a result of recent events.”
The recent events being the controversial presentation and procession of the pachamama statue in the Vatican during the recent pan-Amazon synod. The pachamama is a pagan goddess worshiped by indigenous people in the Andes). Here's an audio of Fr. Rich Simon explaining the pachamama in detail on Drew Mariani's show on Relevant Radio. Tune in at the 28 minute mark after the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
At first glance, the feast and the fast may seem irrelevant. But if we take a closer look, St. Nicholas of Myra whose powerful prayers alone effectively fought off demons and was known to have physical altercation with at least one heretic, cast out demons in his lifetime pretending to be gods & goddesses worshiped by pagans. So it's actually very fitting that we step into St. Nic's shoes and join the battle against idolatry. We can even request his intercessory prayer to boot.
My personal take is this: we are always called to prayer and sacrifice in reparation for all the ways humans insult God and injure our communion with Him. As the body of Christ, we must continually pray for each other and our church leaders for God hears the cry of His people. Extra prayers can't hurt, might help. Read more or watch a summary here, pray about it, and let me know what you think.
Read an educational & meaningful reflection that offers sound advice on how to observe faithfully on Dec. 6th.
In His Service,
SGC President 2019-2020
If gospels were burgers, yesterday's was the *Baconator! (I would've said "whopper" but that would be dating myself ;-)
In Luke 21:5-19, Jesus talks about the end times. He warns that there will be earthquakes and of course death, war, famine, and pestilence. But even before the apocalypse, Jesus says that those who believe in Him will be called out and persecuted, that even our family members and people close to us will be among those who persecute us and this persecution may even lead to our death. All of this is powerful and scary. But what strikes my heart is when Jesus says, "This will be a time for you to bear testimony," (Luke 21:13). That's heavy. What does He mean by that?
Fr. Chad explained there will come a time when Jesus will expect us to make a decision and perhaps is closer than we think. And I don't mean **Popeye's vs. Chik-fil-A chicken sandwiches. We are asked to choose: fight for Christ and die OR deny Christ's teachings to please others? Jesus reassures us that if we remain faithful to Him unto death, "not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."
Sisters in Christ, we are living in that time. As Catholics, we are in the minority (especially if your count includes only practicing Catholics). Sad as that is, we aren't Catholic because everybody else is. We choose to practice Catholicism to live out the teachings of Jesus Christ. We're part of a mothers' ministry that vows to raise our children in the faith. So let's not delude ourselves. We are already in this fight. Whether we like it or not, we face the decision today and every day: please God or please man?
So where's fight? In our homes, in the stores, in our children's schools, and maybe even within our church. You've seen how secular society mocks, distorts and wages war against Christianity. For example, you may recall that in 2015 a series of videos went viral because they revealed chief employees of a California Planned Parenthood selling body parts of abortion babies for money. The multibillion-dollar abortion provider sued Daleiden for outing their fetal tissue trafficking trade.
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“[T]hey will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony.”
Major Setback for Pro-life
Three days ago, Daleiden and pro-life supporters lost. A California jury found in favor of Planned Parenthood, awarding it $1.35 million in damages on RICO (racketeering) charges, $870,000 in punitive damages and presumably millions of dollars in attorneys’ fees on top of that. The result may not be surprising since the presiding judge has reportedly received campaign funds from Planned Parenthood. But it's far from over. Daleiden's attorneys are already getting ready to appeal this decision. Daleiden's defense team is from the Thomas More Society, a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Learn how you can donate to this pro-life cause.
Thank God There is Hope
We don't have to be lawyers to defend our faith and our freedom to practice it. As a start, we must be aware and remain vigilant.
**Please excuse all the fast food references. This newsletter was not sponsored by any fast food chains
In His Service,
SGC President 2019-2020
I recently attended a retreat that Father Chad has required for all parishioners who have a child or grandchild in Catholic Education. The title of the retreat was Chastity vs. Sex Education and the presenter was Katrina Zeno, a diocesan educator on theology of the body. This is a gem, especially for those of us who didn't attend Catholic school and/or didn't receive formal education on chastity. Katrina begins by explaining how we are made in the image of God and that our bodies are a gift, just as God is a total gift.
Yesterday my family and I attended the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival hosted by St. Mary's Basilica. We had such a good time, we vowed to go back next year and arrive earlier to really take advantage of the festivities. As an adult I'd never really sought to celebrate All Saints Day in a festive way, the way they celebrate it in Mexico or the Philippines (a cultural tradition of the Spanish influence). Instead, I've adopted the American way of observing the Holy Day of Obligation: reverent and somber. We attend mass and pray the rosary, asking the Blessed Mother to intercede for our dearly departed.