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Pastor's Greetings

November 17, 2019  -  33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

Greetings my good friends,

 

This week, our scriptures focus on the Second Coming of the Lord. Of course, we have experienced one coming of the Lord in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, we look forward to the final coming where all will be taken up and enjoy the eternal rewards of heaven for eternity.

 

Both the first reading and Gospel alert us to the fact that some will come and try and convince us that the time has arrived. The Prophet Malachi cautions that all those who are evil will be nothing in the eyes of God.

 

''But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.'' (Malachi 3:20)

You know that those who commit evil acts upon others have no fear of God, they go about their lives oblivious to the goodness of God and His ways. They will never experience the beauty and love of God, their evil desires will be their ruination.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus warns those gathered, ''See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name saying 'I am he' and, 'The time has come.' Do not follow them!'' (Luke 21:8)

How naïve people are! How foolish, at times, to believe the end has come to the world. As a priest, I have met so many people convinced that the world is coming to an end over one thing and another. Many are brainwashed by these so called modern day prophets who think God is talking to them.

Jesus is warning you today, in this Sunday's Gospel, not to be deceived. Some Catholics run from church to church for healing Masses when the greatest Mass is said everyday in your parish. There is no difference, all are the same. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is here in the now, forever. Why think it’s going to be better in another place, another moment? Are you naïve too? Why abandon the Holy Mass in your parish church for another because maybe you think it’s holier or more focused on one thing or another? The beauty and mystery of the Mass is that it’s real. The Real Presence is present to us all here in the now.

 

Jesus wants us to be strong in the face of adversity and in the midst of great suffering. Many of us here are only focused on ourselves, on our prayers, on what ever is going on in our lives. Jesus wants us all to have a global vision of what it means to be His follower. We are on a journey—the journey of life and love in His name. We are called to follow Him, some choose not to, others are weak and naïve, they believe everything they hear and are never content. Others wait in hope, knowing the day will come as the Lord promised. Jesus reassures us not to be afraid when members of our families abandon the Way of the Lord and try and convince us to do the same. He tells us not to worry about what we need to say, the words will be gifted to us by the Holy Spirit. So don't be swayed, trust.

 

Where are you on this journey of faith? Are you naïve? Do you believe in heresy, or do you seek the truth and trust in God?

 

I challenge you today to open your eyes of faith and focus on the Holy One of God. Ignore all those who lead you astray, and put all your effort into knowing your God of love. This God of love in Jesus Christ showed us so many times how we can achieve total happiness. We achieve total happiness by loving one another, by being kind to people who are different than us, by forgiving from the heart, by not expecting a return, by going out of our way to seek out the lost and give them life, by being compassionate and caring of those in need, by trusting in a God who never abandons, by repenting of our sins and asking for forgiveness.

 

These are just a few ways of being totally in faith with our God of love, but it’s a great start to a new beginning in your life, as you hope for the day of the Second Coming of the Lord. We all want to be the ones whom the Prophet Malachi shared in the first reading today, “who fear my name.” (Malachi 3:20) They will be the ones who will be saved and ever enjoy the gifts of God’s kingdom in heaven.

 

Today, why not focus on the Holy One of God in your life. Put your total trust in Him. Do not be afraid when you hear of dreadful happenings, or when people fool you into believing untruths about our God. Be strong in faith!!!!

 

Next Sunday, November 24th, is the Solemnity of Christ Our King, the end of our liturgical year. The following Sunday will be the first Sunday of Advent, when we prepare for the birthday of Jesus Christ. Please continue to pray for our parish community and all who worship here. Give thanks to God for all the wonderful priests that serve us so well here at OLR. God bless all of our elders who show us on a daily basis the meaning of life.

 

Welcome to any visitors here this weekend and especially those of other faith traditions, all are welcome to the Lord’s house. Thank you, young adults, for attending Mass Sunday after Sunday and for your participation in so many ministries around the parish. Thank you, teens, for doing the same. You are all an inspiration to me and the entire parish community.

 

Next week we are taking a census of the parishioners here in OLR. Please avail of this very important project, I want everyone to participate so that the new information will help the parish better serve you.

This parish has not taken a census in many many years, so this is our opportunity to all take an active role in building up the parish. Thank you all so much.

 

Love,

Fr. Gerard

 

 

 

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ, 

 

During the month of November, we will be remembering all our dead in a special Novena of Masses. How awesome is that! Some of the traditions of the Catholic Church are so meaningful, and we must never forget what a great blessing that is. As a child, I often remember attending my father’s anniversary Mass in our local church with my mother and hearing my father’s name being mentioned by the priest, this was so touching to me. As many of you know, I was three when my father died. I grew up not knowing my Dad, or even remembering his presence in my life, so hearing his name publicly in church was very special to me. I know many of you come and thank me for mentioning your loved ones at daily Mass. It somehow confirms and affirms us in our faith, that they are at peace in heaven with the angels the saints and Mary, Jesus and God the Father. What a great blessing that is!

 

Both the first reading today, and the Gospel promote and confirm that resurrection from the dead is God given and very much part of our belief as followers of Jesus Christ. Two scenarios are shared concerning seven brothers. In the first reading, we enter into a rather gruesome torturing of seven brothers and their mother for refusing to obey the king who was trying to force them to eat pork, which was contrary to the Law of God. Each brother died for the faith, despite unbelievable suffering and torture. They accepted death knowing that the Lord was with them and would not abandon them, and would raise them up on the last day. 

 

The story of seven brothers in the Gospel concerns the Sadducees, who did not believe in resurrection. They challenged Jesus with a situation where seven brothers married the same woman, in accordance with Jewish law, after the previous brother died. They questioned what would happen at the resurrection. Which brother would be the lawful husband? The Sadducees and the Pharisees constantly tried to trick Jesus into making statements which were contrary to the Law of God. Jesus tells them at the resurrection we neither marry or are given to marriage, we are different than here on earth. We are like angels, and those of us who are assigned will rise from the dead. It is a fact that sometimes we compare life here on earth to heaven, but of course, Jesus is telling us that it is not the same thing. We have to trust and believe that all will be well since our God is a loving God and will never abandon those He loves. 

St. Paul confirms, once again, the need for all of us to be faithful even unto death, just like the seven brothers in the first reading today from Maccabees.

 

''But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.''  2 Thessalonians 3:3

If our Lord is faithful then we ought to be faithful too, though it is a fact that some people do not have faith and often lead us into sinfulness and despair. Our faith in Jesus Christ gives us the strength to say no, like those who said no to eating pork. Being faithful to the Lord is knowing that at the end of time, all those chosen by God will rise from the dead and live forever in 

His glory in heaven. What a joy that will be for all of us who proclaim that the Lord is Holy, the Lord is Life, the Lord is Joy, the Lord is Love, the Lord is Truth, the Lord is the Way!  

 

Remember what Jesus said in the Gospels:

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me, even if he or she dies, will live.”   John 11:25-26

All our loved ones who have gone before us await that final call from God. While we continue our journey here on earth, we too are called to faithfulness in everything we say and do. We must have the courage to stand firm in the faith we profess for the good of all.

Do not be afraid, trust in the Lord and all will be well.

As we approach Thanksgiving at the end of the month, please reflect about what you are thankful for and contact me at the rectory or email me your thoughts.

 

Please remember in your prayers all those who are sick in our parish at this time and those who are mourning their loved ones. Please pray for mothers who have lost  their little babies, all those who are unemployed, in financial stress and feel hopeless. Prayer gives us all strength in times of distress, turn to Him who gives life and hope, who hears us and transforms us in an instant. 

 

Please Men of the Parish and School community why not come and pray on our day retreat on November 16. I hope and pray that the retreat will be well represented with our faithful men. When was the last time you gathered with other men to pray, reflect, share and learn with other men like yourselves? This is such a wonderful opportunity to give a day to the Lord. Please sign up, if you can’t afford I will gift you the day, if you have no ride there, we will carpool. Thank you to those who have already signed up.

 

St. Vincent de Paul is having their first Blanket Drive here in the parish November 16-17. Please bring along fresh clean blankets for our homeless on the streets. Thank you all so much.

 

Please continue to support your parish community financially. I want all our programs up and running and even more programs to help the People of God to know Him, to serve Him and to love Him. 

 

Blessings on all our ministers and volunteers and all those who help in any way, God bless you all! 

 

A big welcome to all our visitors this weekend, especially those of other faith traditions, God blesses you all.

 

In Christ's Love, 

Fr. Gerard

 

 

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ,

There is a hymn which I have heard at Confirmation retreats which I often sing to myself when praising God, 

''Our God is an awesome God...he reigns from heaven above...our God is an awesome God, our God is an awesome God.'' Richard Mullins

Our God is AWESOME, wow, look at the first reading today from the Book of Wisdom. Our God is always looking out for us, often overlooking our sins, drawing us into a deeper relationship with him, distracting us from our wayward ways to follow him, to be like him and love him. This is our awesome God who has created everything. 

''Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.''   Wisdom 11:22

Scientists are still marveling on the immensity of the universe, still seeking to understand how it came to be! Here, once again, our God knows all and can do all things. All we have to do, in return for his overflowing mercy, is to ''believe in you, O Lord.''

The reading from Wisdom challenges us today to believe in our awesome God, to trust in his ways, and follow in his footsteps. Then, we will experience true happiness in the Lord.

This awesome God, once again, enters into our beings in the Gospel account today, by a simple invitation by Jesus to Zacchaeus to have a meal together. When I was reflecting on this reading during the week, I recalled that many times I have invited myself to people’s homes for dinner. Jesus invited himself to the home of Zacchaeus for a meal, and, of course, Zacchaeus was overwhelmed. 

Today's Gospel is about a man who was seeking Jesus; a man who knew his failures and acknowledged them. Despite his small stature, this was not an obstacle for him, he climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus passing by. Every year at the Rose Parade, people perch themselves everywhere to have a good view of the parade. Zacchaeus did likewise.

''Jesus looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.’ And he came down quickly and received him with JOY.'' Luke 19:5-6

In Zacchaeus’ search for Jesus, Jesus found him, had a meal with him, and he was converted immediately. Jesus is also looking for you and me. He wants us to take many initiatives to find Him. He is often there, next to us, waiting to invite Himself into to our very being. But, we must make the first move. Zacchaeus knew, in his heart, that he wanted to change from his sinful ways. He also knew that Jesus was a very good man, that He lifted people up who were downcast, forgave their sins and gave them another chance. He sought out the one who could gift him with peace and happiness, and he found it through a simple invitation to a meal.

Are you willing to seek out Jesus more than ever? You may feel you know Jesus by name, but do you truly know this Son of God who calls people by name to change and transform their lives for the good?

If you are constantly complaining and blaming others, then you ought to seek out the Lord with a passionate heart for change in your OWN LIFE. If you are blind to the Gospel of Love and find fault with everyone, excluding yourself or your family, then Jesus can teach you to love and forgive those against whom you might hold grudges, and free you into a new appreciation of what it means to love one another.

OUR AWESOME GOD wants us all to change, He wants us to take many initiatives in our search for total happiness. God will come to us in a moment of surprise, touch us and liberate us into a new beginning. Why not seek out the Lord today in your lives? Why not climb a tree, look around you,  visit a neighbor, or share a smile with one you are not at peace with? JUST DO IT !

As parents, it is your responsibility to bring your children up in the Catholic faith, and your faith witness to them is of paramount importance. Sadly, some parents do not attend Mass on Sunday, so their children will not attend either. This is not the way forward if you take your faith seriously . Our teens need direction. They need you to show them the way. If going to a sports game is the priority on Sunday morning, then the chance of Mass being a priority is forgotten. I would challenge all parents in our parish and our school to live up to your baptismal call and make an extra effort to attend Mass on Sunday as a family. I am constantly impressed by so many families making that extra effort to attend Mass on Sunday with small children. It is always a joy for me to see so many teenagers and young adults at Mass every Sunday.

Congratulations to our parish school students on winning first place at the CyberCrime Symposium..

Our religious education families and teens enjoyed two great nights remembering our dead last week. Thanks to all who organised and participated in these wonderful evenings.

November is the month we remember our loved ones in heaven, why not send in your all souls envelopes to the rectory and have your loved ones remembered at all the masses during this special month. As a small boy I have memories of my mother bringing me to my father's grave during this month. Please try and visit the graves of your loved ones as well. 

On Wednesday we have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 7:00 PM, please come and pray with the Lord. 

Blessings upon all our homebound, our Ministers is the Sick who visit them and all our elders.

Welcome to any visitors to our church this  weekend, you are welcomed in love.

Blessings upon all our seniors and homebound, we love you all!

 

                                         Love,

                                            Fr. Gerard 

 

Greetings my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Please open your missalette and read the first reading today from the Book of Sirach. Is it not beautiful? Listen to what it says,

 “The Lord has no favorites. The Lord is sometimes partial to the weak and oppressed. The Lord is not deaf but listens, particularly to those who serve Him. The Lord will respond justly and will not delay.”

 

For those of us who do all the right things, who practice the faith, who go to Mass and receive the Sacraments, who are loyal to the Church and Magisterium, sometimes we take on the attitude of the Pharisee in today’s Gospel. We look down on others, and judge them as unworthy. We comment about their total lack of commitment to the faith and their rather weak reception of it.

 

Look how proud the Pharisee was in the Gospel. Just imagine it for a moment; full of attitude, he walked into the temple knowing that he did everything as was laid down by the law. How many of us feel the exact same way when we come to Church? Do we say the same as the Pharisee, “Oh God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity, greedy, dishonest, adulterous or even like this tax collector”? Do you identify yourself with the tax collector or the Pharisee, or are you a bit of both? Sometimes we judge and sometimes we try to be humble and acknowledge our sinfulness.

 

Being too proud, full of attitude and judgmental is not what God wants of us. What makes us act like this? Maybe money, security, too much independence, being an elitist, or looking down on others due to social status, the list is endless. Do you want to be the Pharisee? Do you act like him in your relationships with others particularly those who are different, or are you humble? Do you acknowledge your failings and weaknesses before God and others? Are you willing to help others in their need or are you just caught up in your own selfishness and even forget God in your midst?

 

In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that everyone deserted him. Remember, Paul is coming to the end of his life and he is going to die like Jesus on a cross. So, his closest friends desert him and he is alone. Does he blame them or hold anything against them? No! “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength…the Lord will receive me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to the heavenly kingdom.”

 

For those of us who want to be saved, first and foremost what God wants of us is to SERVE Him with all our HEART, MIND and SOUL. Remember God has no favorites; He listens to all who cry to Him and acts justly for the good of all.

 

This coming week we celebrate Halloween, also known as All Hallows Eve, or All Saints Eve. All Saints Day which is Thursday, November 1st is the day we remember all the Saints of the church, both living and dead. This feast day  

goes way back to the 4th century to the Eastern Feast of All Martyrs (13th May).  In 609/610 the Roman Pantheon was dedicated on the 13th May under the title S. Maria ad Martyrs. Many see in this the origin of All Saints Day. For reasons which are unclear, Pope Gregory IV (827-844) transferred the feast from May to November 1st adopting perhaps the Irish practice dating from the first quarter of the 8th century.

 

All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation for all Roman Catholics throughout the world. Please make every effort to attend Holy Mass. Please see the bulletin for Mass times.

 

November is the traditional month of the year we remember all our loved ones who are with the Lord. During the month a Novena of Masses for the dead will be celebrated here at OLR. Please take an envelope and drop your list of the dead into the rectory with your offering.

 

On November 2nd, we celebrate All Souls Day, rooted in ancient Christian tradition (2nd century and Tertullian). St. Odilo of Cluny established a memorial of all the faithful departed in 988. It was accepted in Rome in the 13th century. This November, why not visit the graves of your loved ones at the cemetery, offer up prayers or bring flowers.

 

I want to thank Fr. Bill for watching over the parish while I was in Ireland, and the other priests who helped with the masses Fr. Al, Fr. Bauler, Fr. Raymond and Fr. McNulty. 

 

There is a great shortage of priests in Ireland, in my Diocese of Kerry so many parishes have no resident priest and many have only 1 Mass on Sunday. Life has changed so much, in the past Ireland sent priests all over the world as missionaries especially here in USA. Approx 60 years ago most pastors here in LA were Irish priests now we are in the minimum. 

 

Fr. Bill and I are now living in our newly refurbished suites in the rectory. My dogs Bones and Lily love the new lifestyle. Next project is to redecorate the rectory offices, if you would like to help with that please state it on your donation as restricted for the parish office. Thanks to all of you who donated to the rectory fund. 

 

With God’s Blessings,

                     Fr. Gerard

 

Greetings my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

This week’s scripture readings can be summed up in four letters:

 

               P.P.O.D - Persistence in Prayer Opens Doors

 

In the first reading from Exodus a war is raging, but notice any time Moses, the chosen one of God, becomes weary, the power of God leaves him. So, they prop him up on a rock, and Aaron and Hur support his raised hands. If Moses is not persistent in his task, the Lord is not with him and the goal will not be achieved.

 

The Gospel today is the very popular parable (a story with a deeper message) directed to the disciples, the Widow, and the Judge. Look at her persistence, she practically plagued the Judge to the point of tears until he finally gave her what she wanted—a just decision!

 

St. Paul challenges us today that if we remain faithful to the Gospel, if you have the courage to proclaim it, the Word of God, if you can “be persistent whether it’s convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, and encourage through all patience and teaching,” then many doors will be opened in our lives.

 

You see, one of the problems today is that people are not persistent in their prayer. Some feel that living out their Catholic faith by attending Mass on Sunday and receiving the sacraments regularly is, as St. Paul states, “inconvenient.” It becomes a waste of precious time.

 

For those of you who practice your faith on a regular basis, you know the precious gifts that God bestows upon us. When you come to church with your problems, struggles, doubts, fears, worries, burdens, and sicknesses, you know that God is listening to you when you turn to Him in prayer. I think that this is the beauty of gathering every Sunday in this church; we gather as a community, the Body of Christ. When one is hurting, we all hurt. So, our communal prayer is lifted up to God, the Most High. Look at what the Gospel states:

 

“Will not God then secure the rights of His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night?

Will He be slow to answer them? I tell you, He will see to it that Justice is done for them

speedily.”

 

Remember—P.P.O.D—it works!

 

I would like to welcome Shirl Giacomi who will be joining Our Lady of Refuge Staff as the new Director of Religious Education this month. Shirl is a native Angeleno but moved to Chicago for 7 years with her husband Patrick, who was transferred there with Sears. They have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. She earned a Masters in Pastoral Studies and a Masters of Divinity from Loyola University in Chicago. Shirl has served in many diocesan and parish ministry positions,

and is looking forward to getting to know the OLR Community, supporting our parents, and sharing in the faith formation of our children.

 

Welcome to all who worship in this sacred place this weekend. Know that you’re entering into a Holy encounter with the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings—Jesus Christ. Enjoy it!

Please try and make a better effort in supporting your parish financially. Many of you are very generous and I thank you! But some are not; giving one dollar a week or less to your Church community, when you can afford more, is sad. Please increase your contribution.

 

Blessings upon all!

 

              Love,

                          Fr. Gerard

 

 

Greetings my good friends, 

 

Is it not a reality that every time we pray to God we ask for something, or petition Him for this or that? We all do it, for healings, for a new job, for a happy marriage or relationship, for peace, for success, for a baby...the list is always endless. We ask and ask and ask, but very seldom give thanks. The petitions are always much longer than the giving thanks back to God for all the wonderful blessings we have received.

 

When you reflect on the scriptures this weekend, particularly the first reading and the Gospel, one thing is certain, thanksgiving is very important to our God. I know God is not expecting this or forcing us to do it, but deep down giving thanks is necessary for all of us. If God is our priority in life, then thanksgiving is part of our life. If we take God for granted and just send Him request after request, then our understanding of God is very weak and lacks the knowledge that puts God in such high esteem for others. When prayers are not answered, when health is not restored, when tough situations happen to us, some get angry with our God. Some even doubt His presence and turn away from Him. The first reading today should challenge us all that there is one God who is over all and in all. God is always there for us, He will heal us in His time and not our time. When Naaman was healed of his leprosy on the instructions from ''Elisha, the man of God,'' Naaman wanted to give a gift to Elisha in thanksgiving for his healing. In the same way, when Jesus healed the 10 lepers in Luke’s Gospel today, only one came back to give thanks to God. He was not a Jew but a Samaritan, an unbeliever, unclean in the eyes of the law. We have experienced this time and time again, many unbelievers possess more knowledge of God and His ways than we believers who sit in church every Sunday and listen to the Word of God. Many people who we would term unbaptized or even ignorant in the ways of God, have a deeper understanding than ourselves of our loving God. Is it not the fact that we have become too comfortable in our faith belief and practice? We feel that praying is enough, or that participating in Mass is enough, or that receiving the Holy Eucharist is enough to be saved, not so!!!  Jesus wants action. He wants to see results. He wants us to get up and do something for the good. He wants the Gospel acted upon, rather than you sitting glum and judging others who are different than you. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us all to action, that is what Naaman did after his healing and what the Samaritan did after his healing.

 

Why can’t we be more thankful of others? Why are we so jealous of others? Why do we get angry with others who might have better opportunities than we do? It is this small mindedness which creeps into our being, leading us to insecurities in ourselves, which in the long run leads us away from the God who created us. Is this the right way forward? Of course not, this attitude puts us in chains and incarcerates us in our own issues and attitudes. 

 

St. Paul states, in the second reading today, even though he was a prisoner for Christ in chains, ''...the Word of God is not chained.'' (2 Timothy 2:9) We sometimes create the chains which bind us up interiorly, leading us down routes of inner destruction. Accepting and acting in the Word of God will never allow us to do that to ourselves, but as you know the human mind can be very 

persuasive!!!

 

So, what can we do? First off, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Secondly, give thanks to God for all the wonderful blessings God has poured out upon YOU. Thirdly, put into action what Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospels; love your neighbor as yourself, forgive from the heart, ask for forgiveness, speak well of people, seek the truth- the whole truth, and you will have peace. 

 

Being involved in any ministry in this parish involves a commitment to serve the Lord. It allows you to connect with other people who have the same goal in mind, and to build community, knowing the Lord is with you. Why not do something for the Lord at OLR, and do it well?  You will see the results in no time.

 

God will be very pleased by you in your giving yourself to another in need.

 

                                 Love,  

                                          Fr. Gerard

 

 

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

In the Gospel today, we listen to the disciples asking Jesus to ''increase their faith.” Have you ever asked Jesus the same request? I have many times. Maybe it’s a very human request to Jesus. Increase my faith so that I will have a better understanding of life and relationships and the Gospel and how to love unconditionally. Remember the disciples were ordinary people like ourselves, sometimes they did not understand Jesus and His ways. They got confused, some- times they were jealous or even frustrated and questioned him a lot for clarification. In all the cases Jesus gave them examples of what it means to be a follower of the one gifted to us from God our Father in Heaven.

 

Recently I was talking to a priest friend of mine who happens to be a pastor as well. We were discussing the challenges of being pastor and the different roles we have to take in our duties as shepherd of a particular community of faith. Both of us agreed that it is tough at times, that our role of shepherd sometimes is in contradiction to our role as manager, supervisor or financier, but all are our responsibilities when we say yes to being a pastor. It’s definitely in moments of disagreement or crisis  that I often turn to Jesus and ask for an increase in my faith, to help me guide this community in the direction of the Holy One of God. As shepherd or pastor, I try to reconcile all the different issues that seem to crop up in the parish, while always focusing on Jesus Christ and his message of truth to all. Of course sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile, sometimes we must do what the Psalm response today challenges us to do, ''If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts." Psalm 95

 

What is this voice which the psalmist is talking about here? Is it not the voice of God who calls us all by name to follow? Is it not the voice that strengthens us in moments of grief and death? Is it not the voice that calms us in the midst of a storm of words? Is it not  the voice that helps us to see things more clearly? Is it not the voice that challenges us to change for the good? Is it not the voice that helps us to turn away from our sins? Is it not the voice that gives us the courage to forgive despite all the obstacles we see? These are some examples of this voice which enters our hearts if we are open and willing to accept the Lord and His ways.

 

Hardened hearts will never grow to maturity. We will always be immature in our relationships, and in our acceptance of others who are different than us, because we are not open to the Holy One of God in our lives. The voice of God cannot penetrate when we ourselves are closed and unwilling to accept the truth and goodness in our lives.

 

Listen to what St. Paul tells us in this moment when we may have a weakened spirit or a lack of faith or maybe a hardened heart.

 

''I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have...for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony.''  2 Timothy 1:6-8

 

What a powerful wake up call to all of us, from St. Paul, encouraging us all not to give up but to STIR INTO FLAME THE GIFT OF GOD. 

 

This is my challenge to all the parishioners of OLR. Stand firm in your faith, open your hearts to the voice of God, be passionate about the Gospel you follow, avoid the temptation of gossip, always strive for the truth, and promote unity rather than disunity. As you all know, in every parish some people agree and others disagree, some love to praise and others constantly complain. This is reality. My role is to shepherd the flock, heal the sick, give comfort to those suffering and mourning, and follow the voice of the Lord to the best of my ability, always trusting and knowing that God is by my side. St. Paul once again reassures us not to lose hope,  ''But bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.''  2 Timothy 1:8

 

The gifts which God gives us are gifts of love, power and  self-control. All gifts are given to be shared for the good of all. As we go forward in our journey of faith here at OLR, I welcome you all into a deeper awareness of a God who calls out to us every moment of our lives. Sadly, all too often, we can’t hear His voice due to all the other priorities we seem to think are more important.

 

Jesus truly wants more of us, so what can you offer? What can you sacrifice for the Lord in your life? Are you willing to listen to His VOICE?

 

When was the last time you invited someone to Mass? Sometimes people are only waiting for an invitation. Think about bringing a new person to church next Sunday. Come with them, sit with them, make them feel welcome, and introduce them to me.

 

Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In every parish, there are men and women thinking about the call of God. Sometimes all they need is a little encouragement from us. Do you know anyone who might have the qualities and gifts for devoting their lives to Jesus Christ? Parents, why not mention it at home to your children? I know many parents never mention the priesthood or religious life as a vocation, but some do. Some pray about it, God bless them for their faith. 

 

Thanks to all who worship here Sunday after Sunday, for your faithful presence in the church. Thanks to all the families here with young children, thank you for making that special effort to attend Mass. I know it’s not easy, but you do it through faith. God bless you!

 

Please support your parish financially. We need your full participation. All of us support it by our prayers, presence, and financial support. Why not stir up your faith and come to church and be a community of unity.

 

Welcome to any visitors here this weekend, especially those of other faith beliefs. We welcome you in love. 

 

                       In Christ's love, 

                                   Fr. Gerard

 
Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ, 
 

We live in a society where there is much hate, where some people thrive on it, and are energized by it. But if you are a person of truth, if your life is based on the goodness of God,  you will realize pretty quickly that this way of thinking is ungodly; it is evil.

 

In this era of the electronic age, we have instant communication at the touch of a button. If someone decides to do an erratic act, within seconds it is known throughout the world. The message is often exaggerated, like gossip, and then the media frenzy begins, from blogging to our newsrooms...it’s endless, everyone wanting to have their say. The truth is often forgotten as we witness more people hating one another rather than loving one another.

 

What did Jesus die on the cross for? For us. For loving everyone despite their faith belief. Jesus didn't see that as an obstacle. He was looking for faith and he found a lot of it in the unbelievers. We claim to believe, we have faith, we say we accept Jesus Christ, we are Christian, we are Roman Catholics, but what does that mean when some of us constantly hate, or even promote hatred by words and deeds? Is it not a contradiction to what Jesus died for? Did he die in vain? Are we losing the great call to holiness, forgiveness, love, compassion, peace, joy, respect, and dignity to all?   

 

This might be an occasion for a great re-awakening of those who claim to be Christian; a time for inner reflection focusing on the One who gave His life for us, Jesus Christ. It is one thing to say, "I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST," but on another level, in a moment of distraction, hatred sets in for another who is different than us. Hate and belief in Jesus Christ are opposites. Many Christians and Catholics justify hate, even as they pray to Jesus for direction in their lives. This way of thinking is a contradiction to the truth of the One born of the Virgin Mary, the God of Jesus Christ!

 

St. Paul, in the Letter to Timothy today, puts all this into perspective. The first line brings us all back to reality. Paul is challenging us all to pray for everyone through petitions and thanksgivings. Is this not powerful to be challenged to pray for everyone, not just us Christians, but everyone; Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, and all humanity? Sometimes we are very selfish in our prayers and petitions, but Paul is saying we need to pray for everyone so, 

''That we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.''  1 Timothy 2:2

 

When we focus our prayer upon everyone, Paul tells us this is very pleasing to our God, 

''Who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.''  1 Timothy 2:4

 

How often we think we are the only ones to be saved, since we have the truth. God’s desire is to have everyone saved. That will only come about when all of us who proclaim Jesus as Lord pray for everyone. Why not start today, praying for our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world; for their families and children, their sick and dying, their old and young. They too need our prayers as we need theirs. Listen to the last line from Paul, it is awesome! 

 

''It is my wish, then, that in every place, the men (and women) should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument." 1 Timothy 2:8

 

Can you just imagine if every single person in the world today  focused on prayer from the heart, which Paul promotes here with us today? Can you just imagine the miracles that might take place? Hate, fear and doubts will never bring lasting peace, 

 

JESUS SHOWS US THE ONLY WAY.........LOVE! 

 

I would like to see more families at Mass on Sunday. Please make every effort to come to Mass and give witness to your children on the great faith you received from your parents, or those who inspired you in your faith journey. Why not make that extra effort and make Sunday a Holy Day for your family and attend Mass? Thanks to those parents who bring their kids to church every Sunday, and all during the summer vacation. You know who you are! I want you to know I am very impressed with your witness to your faith and to your children, God bless you!

 

Welcome to any visitors here this week, especially our friends of other faith beliefs, I know you are present here Sunday after Sunday and I want you to know you are loved by God and us. Please pray for us in return.

 

Please do not forget all those who are sick, especially the homebound, God bless you all! 

 

Many thanks to all those who prayed for Deacon Roger over the months of his sickness, for those who helped Mary Ellen in anyway, dropping off meals and whatever else was needed, for those who stayed overnight with Deacon while Mary Ellen tried to have a nights sleep, for those who visited him regularly, for one of our parishioners who played music to him. For our kids who sent him batches of well wish cards and simple notes of healing and encouragement. How caring was all this outreach to someone in need, a perfect example of the Discipleship of Jesus in action. Thank you all!

 

On Monday, I return to Ireland for my vacation, Fr. Bill is returning from his next Thursday, please support him while I am away. I will meet him in Dublin for dinner on Wednesday next the day before he returns to OLR.

 

I am looking forward to meeting my family and friends in my home County of Kerry. Weather will be much cooler than here in Long Beach but so relaxing to be home.     

Pray for me as I pray for you.

 

                                 Love,  

                                          Fr. Gerard

 

 
Greetings my good friends from Ireland, As you can see from the picture on the cover of the bulletin Fr. Bill and I had a reunion in Ireland on Tuesday, the day before he returned home to his beloved parish, Our Lady of Refuge.
 
Fr. Bill was so excited to see me and equally excited about returning to see his newly refurbished rectory suite. Many thanks to all who helped in any way, especially Janis Krantz who did the finishing touches to his rooms. Please take good care of him as he watches over the parish while I am here visiting my family.
 
Last Saturday, the celebration of Deacon Rogers funeral Mass was so beautiful. I know he was rejoicing from Heaven. Thank you to all who attended.
 
Are you happy with Pope Francis? Yes! I do and many more, but some Catholics are unhappy with him mainly because he challenges them to the core of the Gospel of Love which Jesus died on cross for. Let us pray for all Catholics who find it difficult to love our neighbors as ourselves, let us pray for their conversion into the Holy One of God. Pope Francis, a man of God in our midst, is teaching us so much about Jesus Christ's message of love for all. His simple yet profound statements and actions are turning heads throughout the entire world. Remember he called for a night of prayer for peace in Syria, and look what at the results! Pope Francis is definitely waking us all up to a new way of treating one another with respect and dignity for all human life. Let us all heed his words of mercy, compassion, gentleness, patience, humility, and love, otherwise, as he states, our great Catholic Church will fall like a ''deck of cards.'' None of us wants that to happen, but it will happen if we continually focus on some moral issues and forget everything else.
 
I read a great article by the Pope during the week where he addressed the 120 newly appointed bishops from around the world in Rome. He challenged them to be good shepherds, not global trotting bureaucrats, acting like politicians for status and attention. He told them as shepherds to be in the middle of their flocks, not on the right or the left, but in the middle. They should know their sheep by name and also look out for those lost within the flock.
 
These are very challenging words for our bishops, and ultimately for all who follow Jesus Christ. We too have a responsibility to hear the Word of God and act on it with passion and love for one another. If we continually point fingers at others and condemn them for one thing or the other, we definitely are not following the Way of the Lord. Jesus Christ wants passionate action for the good of all of humanity, not just us Catholics who have been offered the Truth, but to all, all of humanity. Pope Francis by his presence in the world is reaching ''all of humanity'' by his simple gestures of love in action. We can do the same and take risks for the good. The scriptures this week are following this theme of Pope Francis. The ''deck of cards mentality,'' being unconcerned about the plight of the poor and the lost in our society, is wrong.
 
We cannot be complacent when we see people suffering, dying, or starving to death. This is very common in our society today, our self-centeredness, our selfish attitudes, our wanting more and more, our craving for power and prestige, our need for attention, and our pursuit of this goal with no interest in others who might need our help. We live in a very aggressive society, we experience major upheavals on a daily basis, people suffer constantly, innocent people die practically every day, and yet many are unconcerned since it’s not affecting them! The first scripture reading this weekend, speaks about this. The person described in the reading is living in the lap of luxury and totally unconcerned with what is happening all around him. The decks are falling and he is lost in his addictions. The house of Israel is falling and this guy is oblivious to the fact.
 
Look what happens in the Gospel. You have the rich man and the poor man called Lazarus. The rich guy is blind to the plight of Lazarus, both die, one is sent to hell and the other to heaven. The one in hell realizes his plight, even though in life he ignored the cries of the poor who were willing to eat the scraps from his table. Now in this eternal fire and suffering, he wants someone to alert his brothers to change their course of action. This is a great message for us, that great divide between those who have much and those who have little. The message of Jesus Christ is always to look out for the other in need, and to help them in the best way possible. Jesus constantly did this while He walked this earth. The Gospels are full of stories of His encounters with rejected people, the lost, and the suffering. That is why we, the followers of Jesus Christ, are always challenged to do the same. I am always impressed by the parish's generosity to those who are poor in our midst. Every time we promote a charity people give from the heart to help the other. Those who refuse to give charity to others by whatever means, lack something interiorly. They lack the great Spirit of God - human nature at its core is always concerned with the plight of the other.
 
Here at OLR, we have to strive to do the same. We have to follow the lead of Pope Francis to treat everyone with respect and dignity. It is possible! Look what Pope Francis has achieved as Pope. The Spirit of God is alive and flourishing! That same Spirit is in you and me, and we can do the same. JUST DO IT!!!
 
Thank you parents in the school and Faith Formation for coming to Mass on Sunday with your children. If your child is in Second Grade, please make every effort to come to Mass on a regular basis as this is a very special year for your child and yourself as they prepare for their First Holy Eucharist. Pope Francis mentioned the other day that the Eucharist is not something ''magic,'' it’s something real and powerful: the real presence of Jesus Christ. Please make this year a very special year for your child and yourselves. God bless you all!
 
Welcome to any visitors here this weekend, especially those of other faith traditions.
 
Love, Fr. Gerard
 
Each month, your parish pays to print and mail Offertory envelope packets to over 1,300 families. The September invoice for this service was $577.00. After evaluation, it seems that only 23% of the printed envelopes are being returned. Approximately 1,000 envelope packets that are printed and mailed to parishioners each month are not used. Creating about $444.00 of wasted expense per month. When accounting for the cost of monthly and holiday packets that go unused, the annual waste totals $6,975. Therefore, in our effort to reduce operating cost and eliminate paper waste, we kindly request that you notify the parish if you no longer desire the envelopes. A simple note left at the Rectory office stating your request, your name, address and phone number or an email using the Contact Page on the OLR Parish Website, would aid us in reducing waste. At the end of September, inactive envelope numbers may be suspended from future mailings. If you are not currently registered at OLR Parish and would like to receive Offertory Envelopes, please visit the Rectory office to register your family or use the registration form on the church website.  Another solution is to enroll in Faith Direct for on-line giving. Not only does it provide the parish with your current contact  information, it also cancels Offertory envelopes and reduces cost. Your support on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
 
Faith Direct
 

Enrollment in Faith Direct has continued to grow at Our Lady of Refuge. There are now 85 families participating in electronic giving through Faith Direct’s convenient tool.  When combined with "bill pay" donations, total electronic giving at OLR represents about 27% of the offertory collections. 

 

Giving through Faith Direct lowers the costs associated with our weekly collections by eliminating envelope fees and by requiring less effort to count and deposit money. Electronic giving is a secure way to transmit money while being environmentally conscious. Our parish receives your contribution when you are traveling, sick, or in a rush. Your contribution amount is flexible; as you can give by the week or month and designate donations for specific purposes. It also improves our cash flow and the ability to project our income to match our expenses.

 

Faith Direct enables parishioners to make contributions through either direct debit from a checking/savings account or through a credit card. Now you can apply the convenience of direct debit to your parish offerings in much the same way as you may now use it to make your mortgage, car or tuition payments. This allows you to budget with a ‘set and forget' plan, as the donations recur on a defined schedule.

 

Electronic giving means you do not have to stop at the bank, carry cash or checks, or remember to write a check before coming to Mass. Faith Direct also offers you personalized offertory cards (if desired) to replace your envelopes for the collection basket. You can easily track your giving and know that your donations go directly to the bank. Any time during the year, you have access to records of your donations from both the bank and Faith Direct for tax reporting purposes.

 

For those of you who have yet to consider online giving, enrollment will be a continuing effort.  Please visit the OLR website at https://www.ourladyofrefuge.org/ or visit the Faith Direct website at https://membership.faithdirect.net/CA966. There is a short video and you can read more information about this great way to simplify your giving.

 

As your shepherd, I encourage you to consider Faith Direct. Please help us make our parish financially strong again. Thanks to all of you for your continued support of our parish.

 

   In peace, Fr. Gerard