Easter

Jesus Christ is Risen! In a world full of sin and death, to know Jesus has conquered sin and death is great news. The devil does not have the last word against us because Jesus, who is God, has the last say. It is so good to know that God is full of compassion and mercy for us. For two thousand years God has still shown the consistency of His love for us. He came as a little child showing us his humility and compassion for us. He died on the cross for us, still showing His love and compassion. And now at the resurrection, after Our Lord Jesus rises from the dead, He still has compassion and mercy on us! God is so consistent with His goodness.  

This mercy is not something He had to do. He chose it and still chooses mercy. As human beings, we might choose kindness towards others, but the next day who knows? We are not so consistent in our ways. Thank God He is! Two thousand years ago, Jesus was even willing to carry His cross up mount Calvary in order to make sure that our eternal salvation would be bought. To this very day He continues to pursue our salvation. He died, not just so that we would be saved from the fires of hell. He died that all that is His by nature, being divine, would be ours. We deserve suffering and death because of our sins and the suffering it causes ourselves, each other and God. Yet God still invites us to be part of His family!

We destroy ourselves and each other through our sins. Even our “private sins” damage our relationships with others. It affects how we relate to others and to God. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, if we offend God, it necessarily affects how we relate to those who are in God’s image and likeness. Our sins perpetuate suffering in this world. Sin causes the sinner and those whom they have sinned against to suffer. Because of this suffering that we cause, we are not worthy of God’s help. Yet God does come to help us.

But we want to put stipulations on God and the help He gives. God has patience with us as we try to put Him in a box. We are so insecure; we think we need to be in control. Yet God is always willing the good for each of us. The most secure place we can be is in God’s holy will. We need to learn to let go of our own will which only leads to sin and suffering. As I always say, if you want to be miserable in this life; do whatever you want.

If you want to be saved from your suffering; and want to help others avoid suffering, do God’s will.  I have yet to come across a person that has regrated actually doing God’s will. Many people have tried to discern God’s will, but were wrong and so regretted it. Others have discerned rightly, but still did not do it and so regretted it. Some may question God as they are doing God’s will. But I have not met any person who has rightly discerned God’s will, did it and regretted it when everything was said and done. God always wills the good for us. This is part of the salvation He offers us. Jesus is the way (Jn 14:6).

Jesus saves us from the fires of hell we deserve because of our sins. Jesus saves us from the suffering our sins cause us in this life. But Jesus not only saves us, but exalts us by showing us His Father in heaven and allowing us to be His brothers and sisters by adoption. He did not withhold the Father’s love from us. God’s salvation holds us close to His heart where nothing but peace and joy exists. It is a salvation where there is no sin; no lies or deceit, no violence, hatred, abuse, greed, selfishness or using of others as objects. Gods’ salvation is where all people love each other and care for each other. It is a place where we see the goodness in each other and desire the goodness for each other and rejoice in it. That is the salvation Jesus thought worthy of dying for us. Thank God!

Divine Mercy Novena

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday, April 2. Pamphlets can be found in the breezeway at St Joseph Church.

Please be sure to go to Confession before Divine Mercy Sunday. Confessions are on Tuesdays from 9:00-10:00am & 4:30-5:30pm, and on Saturdays (except April 3) from 8:30-9:30am and 3:00-3:40pm from Fr Barr’s garage.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is always a day of mixed feelings. There is hope, yet also the idea that everybody praises God and within six days, they crucify Him. We take our palms to be reminded that we are to worship God and put Him first in our lives. Like the people so many centuries ago, we have a difficult time loving God, and so we sin and offend Him who suffered so much so that we could be with Him forever. Our sins put Him on the cross, yet our sins are forgiven by the cross He hung upon.

The bittersweetness of the cross pulls us closer to God and His wisdom. The sweetness brings joy, the bitterness brings us spiritual growth. The bigger the sinner, the more bitter. Yet those who are forgiven much, love much (Lk 7:47). The more we sin, the more we realize that we cannot save ourselves and the more we realize what a mess of things we make without God. We really need God and His grace to heal us.

The grace He brings us is not the typical strength of the arm we tend to prefer. Rather, God uses His power to bring healing, reconciliation, peace and joy. God uses His authority to bring us all that is good and holy. He had patience with those holding those palms on that first Palm Sunday. They praised Him as being the King of kings and Lord of lords, and rightfully so. But their hearts were divided. Some hearts were not intent on it at all. We hope that our hearts would be intent on loving God the way we should. But this is not something we can do on our own.

To love God as He ought to be loved is not in our own capacity to do. If He did not call us first, we would have never known His love to respond to. He has loved us first, and for that we can thank Him. He chose to love us. He chose to love us to the point of death. Nowhere on earth have we experienced this kind of love. He died on the cross for us not just so we can live here on earth; Jesus died on the cross for us to save us from the fires of hell. Moreover, He died on the cross for us so that we can experience His love forever in heaven. Where can we experience that kind of love, but in God alone?

We hold our palms on this Palm Sunday, remembering all God has done for us. We remember how God revealed Himself in Jesus as He suffered and died for us with an ever deeper meaning of how He defines our “salvation” by His love.

How can we not respond to Jesus alone with such devotion and love in return.

MARY’S CORNER

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (John 5:25). The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, both those dead in body and those dead in spirit. St Augustine teaches us: “The soul is the life of the body, and God is the life of the soul.” Just as the body dies when it loses its soul, so does the spirit die when it loses its God. “It is an unchanging law of divine justice that the evil we choose should be punished by an evil we hate.”

This death is one that cannot be sensed, and yet, if we knew how to see into things, if only we could understand how much more to be feared is the death of the soul due to sin, we would then willingly suffer the death of our bodies instead, even though that death seems so cruel to us. For if it is a great evil for the body to lose its soul, how much worse it is for the soul to lose its God! If we are seized with horror to see the cold and senseless body struck down, without power or movement, how much more horrible it is to contemplate the rational soul when separated from God: it is a spiritual cadaver that lives now only to make its death eternal. It is to those who are dead in spirit, to the souls of sinners, that Jesus Christ speaks, calling them to repent: “The hour is coming, and now is.”

You will find a detailed examination of conscience tools available to you in the breezeway. CCC also provides detail for each commandment on pages 496-611. If you do nothing else this Lent, please go to Confession.

Please review the bulletin to find other tools useful for this Lent.

~ The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality ~

The content of this program will challenge you to become the-best-version-of-yourself, inspire you to live life to the fullest, encourage you to act purposefully, and direct you to a deeper conversation with the Creator of the universe.  It could bring smiles to your face and tears to your eyes.

Are you up for the challenge?

We all need our spirituality re-energized from time to time. Matthew Kelly has been inspiring Catholics to explore the genius of Catholicism for twenty years. If you are not quite sure where Catholicism fits into your life, have questions about the faith, or just need your spiritual life reinvigorated… this one-hour DVD is perfect for you.

To see Matthew Kelly live would cost over $30 per person, and a guarantee of 1000 sold seats. A limited supply of the above DVD is available in the parish office, on a first come, first served basis. If you would like one, you may stop by the office on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 8:30am-3:30pm, or call the office at 815-232-8271 x3 to reserve one.

Once you receive the DVD, a humble pay forward of $5.00 per each is requested (this would be a donation given to the church specifically noting it is for St Joseph’s Seven Pillars DVD event), and when you are done listening, if possible, share the DVD with another.

2 Corinthians 13

Paul writes the thirteenth chapter with strong language, but out of love. He writes with the authority that God has given to him. It is the authority of one of the first bishops of the Church Jesus has established. So this authority did not die with Paul; it goes on to this day. This authority is founded by Jesus in establishing the seats of bishops (10), so the authority is not just to an individual. It is set up in the office of bishop Jesus established. This authority is very real and Paul makes no bones about it. But it is all for the greater glory of God.

Obedience to the faith is important. Not living the virtues of the faith allows our enemy, Satan, to exercise the ancient curse and all the evil that comes with it. That is what Paul is warning them about. God is constantly holding back the evil that Satan, in his jealousy, would do to us. In God’s love for us, every moment of our lives, God protects us. Satan cannot do anything that God does not permit. But God is also just, and cannot allow injustice to go unchecked. Especially, for those whom God loves so much, God does allow to suffer. It is not something He enjoys, but rather, is something that keeps us close to Him and keeps us from hurting each other. So allowing us to suffer is an act of love for us.

Paul says it would be the third time to come to visit (1). He has shown patience and kindness, but there are some still in their sins. Paul is urging them to a serious examination of conscience (5). He wants them to take an honest look at their behavior and correct anything that God would find offensive. For those who refuse to repent, God has given the authority to Paul and the Church to correct such behavior (1-2).

Yet, at the same time, you also see a language of love for his spiritual children (12:14). Paul is not writing as if he is going to enjoy seeing his own spiritual children suffer (10). No, Paul is pleading with those who are continuing their evil ways. Paul is very relieved by those who have repented (7). He wants all his spiritual children to make it to heaven. He wants everybody to love each other and care for each other (11). These are the rich blessings in following God’s ways. Obedience to God brings blessings.

How good it is when children get along and play well with each other. We are God’s children. How He rejoices when we not only get along, but when we love one another. How good it is to the hearts of parents when they see and hear their children doing good for each other, having patience and caring for each other. How much more joy it would bring our Heavenly Father when we are good to each other with patience and kindness. Paul shares in this joy as a spiritual father.

The Father in heaven is always happy to bestow blessings upon His children. But imagine how quickly He would bestow them on those who bring such joy to His heart. How happy He would be to bless those who want to bring His graces to His other children. Paul desires to share this blessing too. He imparts his fatherly blessing upon them as his last parting words (13). How many priests and pastors have this very same fatherly blessing in their hearts; the people of God love one another. Let the blessings begin! “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!” (13).