July 12, 2020 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Greetings my good friends in Christ,
The great prophet Isaiah compares the rain and snow falling from the heavens onto the earth to the Word of God which is poured out upon all. The rain and snow waters the earth and makes it fertile, producing many fruits and foods to feed the people. In the same way, the Word of God has the power to satisfy all God’s people with life, hope, and truth. God knows that His word is awesome and powerful. ''My word...shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.'' (Isaiah 55:11)
How many times have you been inspired by the WORD OF GOD? At every Mass we listen to it intently. The priest or deacon tries his best to break it open and help us to understand and relate it to our lives. Whenever you open your own Bible for prayer or meditation, know that this book was inspired by God; It is holy and every word is special and has a deeper meaning for our lives. The Word of God is life, it is truth, it is hope, it is love, it is forgiveness, and it leads us to God.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us a parable about the sower of the seed. How the seed, if it falls on fertile soil and is nurtured, produces a great harvest. Of course, the parable is about us, the people of God. The hope is that we are like fertile ground when we receive the Word; we welcome and embrace it with love, and produce the good fruits of life. We know from experience that many receive the Word but forget it in time, sometimes rejecting it, preferring other distractions, which lead them away from God. ''The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.'' (Matthew 13:23)
Just receiving the Word is not good enough; one has to understand it. Maybe we need to study the Word from the many commentaries on the Bible; just saying you accept the Word of God, but never understanding it, is not enough. We need to prayerfully investigate what the Word means in our lives, how we can accept it and live it in our daily relationships. Remember, GOD IS LOVE. All too often this is forgotten when disagreements occur between different faith traditions. We see Christians rejecting Catholics or vice versa. We hear of judgments against Muslims, sometimes reciting scripture. Often many of us get caught up in the frenzy. We know there is only one judge; that is God the Father. Why not let God do the judging, and we, the people of God, the serving? Strife and hatred are not gifts from God. Sadly, it’s we who create these divisive situations in society today. All of us together can change the world, little by little, step by step, by acting with sincerity of heart, by being patient with others, gentler in our approach in disagreements, more loving and forgiving when disturbances occur, being humble and giving another a chance, refraining from judging without the true facts, giving people the benefit of the doubt - this is just a short list, but it’s a start. Why not be part of the change? The Word of God always teaches us goodness, peace, love, truth, and forgiveness. Why not embrace it with your heart, and be it today?
Have you ever thought about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life? Why not call me at the rectory? I can connect you with very good spiritual directors who can help you discern. OLR has a long history of Vocations in the Parish down through the years. We are presently creating a new page on Vocations on our website. Please visit and see all the priests, deacons and women religious who discerned their vocation here in our Parish. Presently we have two seminarians: Nick Russell, a convert to Catholicism, studying with the Society of Jesus, popularly known as the Jesuits; Justin Ordoveza, studying at St. John’s Seminary to become a diocesan Priest for the Archdiocese of LA.
On Wednesday, after a long period since the beginning of this pandemic, we begin once again, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 7:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. I hope you have missed this sacred time with the Lord as I did. This is the core in any Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist which spiritually strengthens the parish and its parishioners. Whether you are present in the church or not, why not pray for yourself, the parishioners, and the spirit of OLR during this hour next Wednesday? Let us do it in solidarity with one another.
I would like to thank Mr. Robert Salvador for his term as Chair of our Parish Finance Council since the Fall of 2018. He recently resigned due to job responsibilities. Robert approached me when I arrived here in September 2018 to serve in any capacity in the parish leadership. At the time my first task was to form a Finance Council and I duly appointed him as our first Chair. Robert served with distinction, and was always kind and approachable. Thank you once again for your leadership and advice on behalf of the entire Parish and School community. I wish you every happiness for the future.
Enrollment in Faith Direct has continued to grow at Our Lady of Refuge. There are now more 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.
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