Monday, June 17, 2019

TRENTON MONITOR PRINTS ARTICLE AND PICTURES OF THE BILINGUAL MASS

An article and pictures about the June Bilingual Diocesan Mass were published in the June 14, 2019 issue of the Trenton Monitor.

The article by Lois Rogers starts: "“De Colores!” This joyful greeting of the Cursillo movement resounded through the vaulted nave of St. Robert Co-Cathedral, Freehold, June 7. There, hundreds of members of the English and Spanish Cursillo movements shared their first diocesan bilingual Mass and fellowship.

The phrase, which translates from the Spanish as “in colors,” refers to the grace of God embodied in the colors of Noah’s rainbow. It would be heard throughout the night as cursillistas from around the Diocese and beyond shared the Eucharist, were moved by the Word of God through the Scriptures, preaching, song and testimony from one of their own."

You can read the entire article at this link.

You can also see over 40 pictures from the Mass at this link.

Monday, June 10, 2019

REQUESTS FOR PRAYERS FOR THE GLORIFICATION OF EDUARDO BONNIN AND FATHER MANUEL APARICI

Mary Weis has asked that we send this to all in community.

All cursillistas are asked to please pray for the glorification of two Servants of God - Eduardo BonnĂ­n and the Venerable Manuel Aparici who are on the process of Beatification. (PRAYERS FOR BOTH EDUARDO AND FATHER MANUEL ARE LOCATED BELOW.)


BACKGROUND

We may all know Eduardo, but we may not be as familiar with Father Manuel Aparici. Manuel Aparici Navarro (1902 – 1964) was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest. He exercised his pastoral mission in his home of Madrid and served as a member of Catholic Action. He focused on the motivation of the faithful in the participation of both the Sacraments and of church life.

Father Navarro was ordained to the priesthood in Madrid. He became a member of Catholic Action and he served as the Youth Chairman of the Spanish Catholic Action from 1934 until 1941 during the period of persecutions of the Catholic faith during the onslaught of the Spanish Civil War. He also served as the chaplain for the chapter from 1950 until 1959 and helped to pioneer the Cursillo Movement to help motivate the participation of the faithful in church life.

He passed way in 1964 and was proclaimed to be Venerable in 2013 on the account of his life of heroic virtue.

(Some information used from Wikipedia.)

THE PRAYER FOR SAINTHOOD FOR EDUARDO BONNIN AGUILO

O God, dispenser of all graces and charisms.
You granted your servant EDUARDO BONNIN AGUILO the grace of dedicating his whole life, with humility and generosity, to the work of the CURSILLOS IN CHRISTIANITY MOVEMENT, as he traveled the five continents proclaiming that God in Christ loves us.
Grant us through his intercession the favor that we now implore Thee.
(name the favor being requested)
Also grant us the grace, of his beatification for your greater glory and the good of your Church, that shines throughout the lives of its saints.
We beg this of You in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Father...

PRAYER TO BESEECH THE GLORIFICATION OF VENERABLE MANUEL APARICI

Our Father who are in heaven, condescend to glorify your Servant MANUEL, who, by his words and examples, as a lay apostle and as a priest, taught us to turn our lives into a Pilgrimage: WALKING THROUGH CHRIST TOWARDS FATHER, URGED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, WITH THE HELP OF MARY, AND TAKING OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WITH US. Grant us by his intercession, the grace we are asking for, and permit that we imitate him, working tirelessly for the extension of your Kingdom and for the good of our brothers and sisters. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

THE ROSARY by JANET MOSCUZZA (FROM THE MAY SCHOOL OF LEADERS)

Opening Prayer:  Dear Mary, your entire life was devoted to the Word of God made flesh in your Son, Jesus Christ, as a hymn of praise to God sung in melodies of joy, sorrow, light and eternal glory.  We pray here that as we meditate on Mary’s Rosary, we too may become closer to your Son.  Amen

In Acts 1:14 we learn that “all these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and his brothers. “  The take away here would be that they all prayed together for a common goal.
Legend says that Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to Domingo de Guzman, in Prouille, Spain in 1208.  She taught him the complete rosary, attaching 15 promises to those who prayed the Rosary faithfully.  Some of these promises include:

1. Special protection and graces,
2. A decrease in sin
3. An abundance of mercy for souls at the reception of the sacraments before dying

When St Dominick received the Rosary from Our Blessed Mother, he formed 800 Confraternities of the Rosary which were the precursor of the Rosary Altar Society.  St. Dominic founded the Dominican Friars, opened monasteries and spread devotion to the Rosary all over the world.  

The format of the Rosary as was established by St. Dominick is follows:

All prayers of the Rosary are Scriptural in origin:

1. The Lord’s Prayer.  From the word of God if we believe in Jesus.  Historically people gathered several times a day to say the “Our Father.”
2. The Hail Mary.  The first half of this prayer is scriptural from the Angel Gabriel and Elizabeth’s greeting.  This prayer expresses a longing of Israel for the coming of the Savior.
3. The Second part of the Hail Mary was added later.
4. The “Glory Be: is a doxology (a hymn that praises God).  We should gather together to “praise God”.

The Rosary was fashioned as an addition to the Liturgy of the Hours.  The Liturgy of the Mass is the central part of the Church.  The Rosary as part of the Liturgy of the Hours is linked to an early form which was the custom of the Church to pray the 150 psalms during the day.  This was too much to do for the average person because firstly, you needed to be able to read.  Most people could not read.  So it was decided that to say the Rosary with the “Our Father”, 150 “Hail Mary’s” (then there were 15 Mysteries before the added Mysteries of Light) and the “Glory Be” would accomplish the same goal.  Secondly, the Book of Psalms was too expensive to purchase for the average person.  Thirdly, books were too heavy for the average person to carry around with them.  And lastly, contemplation of the Mysteries of the Rosary brought a person into union with God which accomplished this important goal.

So St Dominick develops this idea of the Rosary as an extension of the Liturgy of the Hours and uses the Dominican Priests who are itinerant preachers to spread the Rosary.  The Priests traveled to different towns, preached and left the Rosary beads for the towns to say on their own.  A Confraternity of the Rosary (prequel to the Rosary Altar Society) spread as well as the Holy Name Society.

At the Council of Trent the Church developed a plan on how it would grow in America.  In Europe the parishes grew as outshoots of the friaries and the religious communities that already existed.  So in America, the Parishes with a Pastor who was trained in the faith and who could distribute the Sacraments were established. 
Parishes in America were territorial where faith could grow.

The Rosary Altar Society in each Dominican Church grew where people came to say the Rosary.  Eventually St. Dominic was given permission to establish in all Churches a Rosary Altar Society and a Holy Name Society.  

Recommended reading of “Champions of the Rosary” by Father Calloway can be purchased on Amazon.

Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter on the Most Holy Rosary states that the Rosary is a guide to the way we can live our lives.  Through Mary’s example and intercession, we learn the lesson of faithful prayer, just as through our meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, we learn the lesson of faithful life taught by Mary and by her Son Jesus.  Saint John Paul II’s devotion to the Rosary and his ideas are so touching and a learning experience for us all.

Saint John Paull II believed the Rosary is a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.  It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian Life, which, after 2,000 years has lost none of its freshness and it feels drawn by the Spirit of God to set out into a deep understanding that “Jesus is Lord and Savior, the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer (Christ as the center).  With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.  Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

Quoting the Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen who said: “the power of the Rosary is beyond description!”  He believed that through the Rosary we will obtain mercy, stop evil, convert nations and bring peace.  He further suggested that we storm Heaven by saying the Rosary for the following intentions:

1. In reparation for all sins and offenses committed again the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
2. For an increase in the devotion to the Holy Rosary.
3. That bishops and priests will have the courage to teach the Truth and defend the Faith.
4. For all police officers that they may be guided and protected by St. Michael the Archangel in their daily duties.
5. That each of us grows in devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and comes closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
6. For our families and the salvation of our loved ones.

I would like to offer as a suggestion something I found on line many years ago.  It is called the 5 finger Rosary.

1. Your thumb is nearest you.  So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you.  They are the easiest to remember.  To pray for our loved ones is, as C S Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”
2. The next finger is the pointing finger.  Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal.  This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers.  They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.  Keep them in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger.  It reminds us of our leaders.  Pray for the President, leaders in business and industry, and administrators.  These people shape our nation and guide public opinion.  They need God’s guidance.
4. The fourth finger is our ring finger.  Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify.  It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain.  They need your prayers day and night.  You cannot pray too much for them.
5. And lastly is our littlest finger, the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others.  As the Bible says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.”  Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself.  

By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
WITNESS

My own personal interaction with the Rosary began in my teens.  I must say I was loner in this and sometimes made fun of because I prayed the Rosary every day.  The beads were certainly well used because they were always breaking so as a result I became a “finger rosary” user.  I truly can’t remember why I was in a habit of praying the Rosary at a young age because none of my friends did it.  But somewhere in my religious education, I was set on the path.  I don’t remember a Rosary Altar Society in the parishes I attended but one day when I was part of a group who said the Rosary before daily Mass at my current Parish Mary Mother of God in Middletown, I was tapped on the shoulder and asked if I would like to join the Rosary Altar Society.  So now I am a card- carrying member. 

Helping those who attend the Noon Mass join us in the Rosary is important to me.  I suppose that is the teacher in me always wanting to bring as much information to others as I can.   I have copied the Mysteries and the Prayers and through technology made large print copies so that everyone at the Mass can join in.  If you look on your tables you will see what we use.  I get to the Mass about 45 minutes early and I ask people as they arrive if they would like to help us with the Rosary.  For those who are new at it, I have also written up a sheet which I call “Leading the Rosary” which helps them follow along.  Also if I can’t be there on a given day someone can go into the sacristy pick up a copy and lead the group.  I can tell you this was how the Rosary was taught to me by the people who came before me at the noon Mass.  I am passing along what I have learned to the next generation of “Leaders of the Rosary”.  

Last year Father Jeff gave everyone in the parish a copy of Matthew Kelly’s book “The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity” and I must tell you whenever I speak to people I always reference “Holy Moments”.  For those of you who have NOT read this book, Holy Moments are the little things we do every day to make the world a better place.  Maybe someone is in the hospital and you stop by with a flower, or you call them on the phone.  See it’s a Holy Moment that you have brought into someone’s life.  According to Matthew Kelly, we are on our way to Sainthood whenever we give someone a Holy Moment.

It is through my Rosary Altar Society that I feel I have many of my Holy Moments.  I have been truly blessed to work with some wonderful women and men at St. Mary’s parish, who have made this Rosary Altar Society a ministry and an integral part of parish life.  Yes, our primary purpose is to “praise and honor the Blessed Mother” as a Ministry in our parish.  But we are so much more. There are so many ways our members are giving of themselves through the Rosary Altar Society.

Many of our members perform the role of caring for the linens in the Church and this is an enormous job with a Chapel that has two Masses and a Prayer Service daily, as well as a Church with 6 Masses on Saturday and Sunday.  There are two Baptisms every month and a few private Baptisms.  As you can image, the role of caring for the linens in our Church, is quite a job.

As an officer of Rosary Altar Society I assist in the hosting an Annual America Needs Fatima Rosary Rally in October which this year had more than 200 participants.  We have a sharing afterwards so as to get to know the people who have joined us.  Sometimes we can recruit from those who attend.  The attendees always thank us so much for a spiritually wonderful afternoon.

About 5 years ago, we began an off-shoot called Junior Rosarians.  These young teens work with us to do charitable work with the poor.  They organize the “blessing bags” given out to the homeless in January.  The Junior Rosarians monthly collect snacks which we bring over to the homeless students at Brookdale College.  In November we collect hats and scarfs for the homeless in Asbury Park.  The Junior Rosarians help the Rosarians bake for when we host the Church-sponsored hospitality every 3 months in our Narthex.  Our Junior Rosarians also make Rosary beads to be distributed in Red Bank by the Street Evangelizers of St Paul.  I truly feel that it is important to give our teens a way to learn empathy and charity and of course the giving of Holy Moments.

I am so proud of the financial support t that our organization gives monthly to a Missionary Sister Mercedes.   She is in a teaching order in Pakistan.  Our monthly donation to her helps people who are so desperate in such a poor country especially women and children who have been abandoned by husbands and fathers.  Sister Mercedes visits us every two years when she comes to the States and we host a Tea for her and her family.  She always brings us an accounting of the works she and her Missionary Sisters are performing.

We have a group of our Rosarians who go to our local Assisted Living Complexes in Middletown to weekly lead the Rosary.  Also a group of our Rosarians visit these complexes on Sundays to lead a prayer service and distribute the Eucharist to the elderly.

As a fund-raiser our Rosarians sell the Little Blue, Black and White Books.  Besides helping us raise fund, we are encouraging our congregation to get spiritually into the Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons by learning more about our faith.

The Rosarians and the Junior Rosarians hold a Crowning of the Blessed Mother the first Sunday in May at St. Mary’s Chapel.  I have a prepared beautiful ceremony along with a benediction.  At the May Crowning we give a Rosary Altar Society Scholarship of $750 to a graduating senior/or seniors from our Parish.  I am involved in composing the essay question and preparing the application form.  I also send the applications to the High Schools in Monmouth and Ocean County.  I and 4 other Rosarians, are on the Committee to choose the winner/winners.  The winner/winners of the Scholarship join us at our May Crowning and actually Crowns the Blessed Mother.  If anyone is interested in seeing a copy of the ceremony that I have prepared, let me know and I will send it off to you.

As you can see our Rosary Altar Society is truly a Ministry at Mary Mother of God Parish.  We praise and honor Our Blessed Mother with the recitation of the Rosary and we go about doing God’s work by our charitable endeavors which in reality brings Holy Moments to those in need.  In John’s Gospel Chapter 10:37-38 Jesus says “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me, but if I perform them, even if you do not believe in me, believe the works so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”.   I believe that as Rosarians we are setting an example for our parish because in doing our Father’s good works and providing our community with Holy Moments.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

THE MONITOR PUBLISHES ARTICLE ABOUT CURSILLO MASS

An article about the June 7th bilingual Cursillo Mass has been printed in The Monitor. You can read the article at this link. The Mass is at  8 p.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

BILINGUAL CURSILLO MASS AT ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE

Come all! Save the date! 

We're having a Cursillo Mass at Saint Robert Bellarmine Church at 61 Georgia Road, Freehold at 8pm on June 7, 2019.

Please come out in fellowship and joy to celebrate mass at St Robert Bellarmine.

Our diocesan mass will be bilingual! We are joining with our Spanish Cursillo brothers and sisters. 

Please show your love of Cursillo by supporting the Trenton Diocese. 

This notice will be in The Monitor and they will be reporting on the mass with representatives from the Diocese.

See you there!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

THE EMPTY TOMB: WHAT DO WE DO NEXT? by DEACON TONY MARTUCCI


Let's look at the Scriptures to see how others reacted to finding the tomb empty. Witnesses to accidents or other major events often disagree on some details because they see things differently or have a different perspective. So it is with the Four Gospels. The writers all agree on the basic FACTS.
Matthew's Gospel says: The very first witnesses were the guards at the tomb, who felt a great earthquake and saw an angel who rolled back the stone and sat upon it. They fell in fear “like dead men”. Then they ran to tell the chief priests, who paid them and told the guards to “Tell the people that His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.
Women were the first disciples to discover that Christ's tomb was empty. Mark tells us it was “Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome”. Matthew says it was “Mary Magdalene and the 'other Mary'”. Luke says simply it was the “women who came with Him from Galilee”, later identifying them as “Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary the mother of James”. John places Mary Magdalene alone at the tomb.
All the Gospels agree that the women found the tomb empty. In Matthew and Mark's Gospels the women saw an angel who told them Jesus had risen; Luke reported two angels.  In each account, the angel instructed the women to return and to tell Christ's disciples that Jesus was alive. The disciples did not believe the women. Luke reports that “Peter ran to the tomb” saw the linen cloths alone and wondered what had happened. 
In John's Gospel, after she found the tomb empty Mary Magdalene ran to the disciples, thinking that someone had stolen the body. She returned with Peter and John. John saw the linen cloth and believed. After Peter and John left her, Jesus  appeared to Mary Magdalene . She thought He was the gardener and asked Him if He knew where “they had taken the body.” Jesus called her “Mary:” and she recognized Him. He told her to tell the disciples what she had seen.
Both Mark and Luke tell of Jesus' appearance to two disciples “walking into the country”. Luke goes into greater detail and after they recognize Jesus in “the breaking of the bread”, they ran back to Jerusalem to share their joy at the news of the resurrection with the other disciples.
Next we read of Jesus appearing to the Disciples on the first Easter Sunday in Mark, Luke and John's Gospels.
John also has two later stories of Christ's appearance, one  week after Easter, when Thomas was present, and a third time when the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Tiberius. There, He instructed Peter to “feed His lambs and to tend His sheep.”
While the Apostles were filled with awe and joy at Jesus' Resurrection, yet they remained in seclusion until Pentecost, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they spread the news throughout Judea, Galilee and the entire known world.
Christ also appeared in a marvelous way to Saul of Tarsus. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute Me? Who are you, Sir? I am Jesus, who you are persecuting”. Jesus chose Saul/Paul “to be an instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles. Kings and Israelites.”
In Mark's Gospel we are commissioned by Jesus to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” Matthew tells us “Go therefor and make disciples of all nations ... baptizing them ...teaching them all that I have commanded you.”
Luke says, “Jesus said to them,'Thus it written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
The Risen Jesus appears in the midst of His disciples with doors locked and bolted. They were understandably terrified . But Jesus calmed them down and convinced them that it was He. And Jesus said to them and to  us “You are witnesses to these things.”
What things are we to be witnesses of? Consider the following:
#1. The Death of Jesus;
#2. Testimony of Scripture to the Suffering and Death of Jesus;
#3. The Resurrection of Jesus;
#4. The Power of Jesus' Name.
This is the core of Apostolic catechesis. It hasn't changed in 2000 years. You and I bear witness to these truths by our daily lives.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “O chosen people, proclaim the mighty works of Him Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light, alleluia.”
Easter is a fifty day celebration and so we continue to sing: “Alleluia, alleluia!! This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad. Alleluia”(Ps. 117:24)

THE SOWER AND THE SEED - NEW LIFE IN THE SEASON OF EASTER by RONNIE MARTELLA


The incredible thing about the parable of the sower and the seed, which we find in Mark’s gospel - chapter 4 and Mathew’s gospel - chapter 13,  is that we can find ourselves as the sower, as the seed and as the ground at different times in our lives.  In this season of Easter – a time so closely associated with new life and growth we are going to explore this parable in a few different ways.  This morning we will look at … Jesus as the sower….at ourselves as the ground/the receiver of the seed….and at ourselves as sowers of the seed.

Jesus the sower:
“Jesus is the sower. We note that, with this image, He presents Himself as one who does not impose Himself, but who proposes; He does not draw us by conquering us, but by giving Himself: He throws the seed. He strews His Word with patience and generosity, which is not a cage or a trap, but a seed that can bear fruit. And how can it bear fruit?    If we receive it.”

That was a translation of part of the address Pope Francis gave on July 16, 2017 to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Francis says ….IF WE RECEIVE IT- SO HOW DO WE DO THAT?

First, we need to acknowledge and understand that God is extravagant when it comes to offering the seeds of the Gospel to the human heart. In the parable, the sower is throwing seed everywhere, even in places where the seed has little chance to grow.
If you’ve ever planted seeds, you probably prepared the soil, picked the best place, with the most sunlight during the day and whatever else was needed.  The way Jesus spreads the seed is so different, it could be considered wasteful, not at all the way a gardener or scientist would do it.  The seeds aren’t placed individually in the soil.  It’s done in a way the shows there is an unlimited supply, no fear of running out, never rationed or held back.  This shows how much God loves us.  We don’t have to be perfectly prepared or in the right place, He’s going to find us, He’s going to include us. 
AND SO…… If God is the sower in the parable
…who is the rocky ground…we are.  …who is the thorny shrubs…we are……who is the trampled path…we are…and If God is the sower… who is the good soil…we are. 
He knows this. 
It’s precisely why he throws the seeds everywhere.  He knows that you and I will certainly be in one of those 4 areas throughout our lives. He throws the seeds out everywhere because sometimes we are all over the place. And that’s the Good News for today.  He’ll never stop trying to reach us. 
He’s aware that today you might be the rocky ground and you might be the thorny shrub…and I might be the trampled path. 
But He also knows that at some point we get to the good soil and his seeds will land there too and they will take root and grow and we will return his generosity with a rich and holy harvest. 
So stay with it…Be patient with yourself because He’s patient with us. 
If you’re on rocky ground right now… If you’re trampling all over his seeds on the pathway your life…if you’re tearing at everyone and everything with the thorns of your dysfunctions  
Hang in there and keep trying to get to the good soil.
When you get there He’s still going to be sowing seeds.  Remember He’s got an unlimited supply and He will continue to sow them. 
He knows that eventually his seeds will land on our beautiful...tilled…healthy…rich…soil in the gardens of our hearts. 
And that’s why we come back here over and over again to nourish our soul gardens and be ready for his seeds.   We come back to school of leaders, back to grouping, back to ultreya.  Back to be nourished and weeded and cared for so the seed will thrive and produce a good harvest. 
Us as the ground/receivers of seed: PIETY/STUDY

In John we read that Mary, when she gets to the empty tomb, mistakes the risen Jesus for “the gardener.” Maybe it wasn’t an accident.   Jesus is “the master gardener” who came to clean up his garden and lead it into an abundant and fruitful life.
Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at everyone: the people who listen, and even those who don’t. 
We know that God can create growth in spaces where the most seasoned farmer or gardener wouldn’t waste good seed.  But all seeds have unexpected, unexplainable potential and possibility.  All of us have probably seen growth coming from cracks in sidewalks, driveways, even in walls.   Wherever a seed is willing to break open and try - there is growth.
A passage that complements the Parable of the Sower is John 12:24 in which Jesus says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  If instead of the word die, can we think of it this way… what a seed needs to do is “yield” or “relent” or “give in.”
For a seed to move from a state of dormancy to growth, it has to trust that the soil is warm enough, that there is enough moisture, and that there will be enough light to break through and grow. 
Think of what will happen when we allow the compelling nature of God’s love to break through our “seed shells” so we give in to all that God offers and promises.     
God-the-Sower uses rocky soil, rich fertile soil, and plants that were once thought of as weeds. If we pay attention to the Spirit… already creatively cultivating her holiness in us and all around us… our brokenness will make way for growth.
Even what might be considered weeds by some have purpose and value.  They retain the soil’s moisture, reduce erosion when the roots hold on to soil, and attract birds and insects needed for pollination.  Weeds are a part of an ecosystem we don’t totally understand, they are part of the natural world-God’s creation.  
Everyone counts, everyone can contribute.  We don’t or can’t always see it or understand it  
BUT
God measures by a different set of standards. In the parable of the sower, we learn that God throws himself upon the earth and shares himself with each of us and does not expect anything in return.
In the end…. it is up to us how we respond to God’s call.
Will we accept the word of God and allow it to soften the edges and break up the hard earth in our own lives?
We have been given the personal freedom to choose to accept God’s love. By choosing yes, we agree to cultivate the soil of our lives, so we may bear abundant fruit.
Among Christ’s parables about the land, this one about the sower and seed stands out in its teaching about how the seed of the gospel is sown and works in the field of life. No other parable shows us how the devil, the allure of the world and the cares of life conspire to root us from our lives in God.
Our world is full of distractions—the rocks, thorns and birds that conspire to prevent God’s Word and His calling from taking root and bearing fruit.
Those of us who have had a backyard garden know that it requires effort.  Each day we have to check on it.  If it hasn’t rained, it needs to be watered.  If there are harmful bugs and choking weeds, we need to get rid of them.   If not, these things will overgrow or kill the plants.  Even if good ground is properly cared for …. when it’s left to itself -    everything else moves in. Nothing useful can grow until it is cleared out.  We need to be aware of what is growing.
And we need to know when it is time to harvest.  For us as receivers of the seed…hearers of the word … it might mean it is time to grow in faith, it might mean it is time to go out into the field and become spreaders of seed ourselves.   It might be time for ACTION.
Us as sowers: ACTION
Let’s hear what scripture tells us about our action.
We reap what we sow- Galatians 6:7-10
Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.*

Requires patience- James 5:7-8
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Avoid wanting credit for what grows- 1 Cor 3:3-9

Give Generously  2 Cor 9:6

How to do we sow and reap this harvest?
We can’t think, pray, read our way to a harvest.
Let’s suppose you want to plant a vegetable garden.
If you sowed seeds into the ground, you’d expect to see those things growing when it came time to harvest.
But, if you wanted to plant a garden and you hoped and prayed and read about tomatoes, but didn’t actually sow a tomato seed, well, you’d get nothing.
Everything you sow today will be reaped in your harvest tomorrow.
To have a successful harvest you must know what you’re planting.
So you want something different? Is there some habit you want to change?  Is there someone God has put in your life that you want to get to know,  to make a friend…?
You have to know what you want to “plant”, what you’ve been given to “plant” and have clearly defined goals you can sow every day.
St. Jose Maria Escriva once wrote: “May Our Lord be able to use us so that, placed as we are at all the cross-roads of the world- and at the same time placed in God- we become salt, leaven and light.  Yes, you are to be in God, to enlighten, to give flavor, to produce growth and new life.  But don’t forget that we are not the source of this light:  we only reflect it.”  (St Jose Maria Escriva, Friends of God, 250)
At the end of the story, Jesus says “they who have ears, let them hear.” In other words, he wants us to be aware, to learn something and take action.

To get the few that bear fruit, lots of seed must be sown by lots of people. So regardless of whether or not we think we have green thumbs, we farmers are being commanded through this parable to get the seed out there, sowing it everywhere we go, undeterred by the birds, the weeds, and the scorching sun.

So the parable of the sower has a twofold message:
As seed, our job is to get busy growing.
As farmers, our job is to get busy sowing.
The images of seed sown and leaven kneaded into dough, both of these reflect the reality of our lives, God’s call, and our cooperation with His grace. 
The seeds, the living Word, have been planted within us. Then, we’re to become the seed, the salt and the leaven for the Divine Sower who continues His redemptive mission in a world waiting to be reborn in Him.
However, the power contained in the yeast is not activated unless it is mixed and kneaded into the dough. We can’t just think about it...talk about it.
It isn’t usually flashy because when you work the leaven in, it’s hidden to the eye… but it transforms that loaf!  So it is with us in our culture!
All we are asked to do is to mix it up.
We have to get in the loaf. We must be in the world - where Jesus is - in order to be used to accomplish His ongoing work of redemption. Leaven that is not used in time spoils and loses its ability to work; it must be active or it becomes useless. Once hidden in the loaf, active leaven always raises the dough. That’s how it is with our cooperation with grace.
We pray for those in our lives with overgrown or overcome hearts. Often the stresses and circumstances of life can create a small clearing where a seed can actually germinate and take root. (plants in cracks in sidewalk) These divine moments can be opportunities to offer ourselves in the process of sowing, watering and reaping.  We pray to be aware of those moments…when God is putting us with that ONE person in need.
FOR THOSE GRACE FILLED MOMENTS
It all begins with awareness/care..one person, one seed, at a time. 
Right now you are holding a “bag of seed” – the word of God in your hand. The word of the Kingdom of God is always being sown in your life.
You can spread it wherever you go OR you can keep it for yourself.
St. Josemaria Escriva wrote,
"The sower went out to sow, to scatter the seed at all the crossroads of this earth. What a blessed task we have. We have the job of making sure that in all the circumstances of time and place the word of God takes root, springs up and bears fruit."

DE COLORES

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ACTION by RICK AND LISA KLARMANN

In Piety, our whole life is directed to God; study helps up establish a better relationship with God, and to come to know His will for us.  Action is the exercising of our mind, will and senses—basically doing something.  However, in the life of the Christian, our action has Jesus Christ as the focus or reason we do a thing—the things we do and say—our actions are a consequence of being Christian.

Apostolic Action takes Christian action a step further.  Apostolic Action is exercising the power of Love; love of God and love of neighbor to bring them closer to Christ.  Apostolic Action is important to us.  James reminds us that faith without works is dead.  

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?  So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  [James 2:15-16]

• On Ash Wednesday, in the Best Lent Ever, Matthew Kelly reminds us that as Christians we are called to act in the world; not to be spectators.  We are called to take action—to take bold action—to be involved, to be engaged in the life of our culture and our country.

• Matthew reminds us that it is easy to get distracted by all of the things that we have little to no control over and that we can’t influence.  When we get caught up or discouraged by the things that are outside of our control or influence, we often wander away from what Matthew calls our ‘sweet spot.’  That place in our lives where we can have the most impact.  

How often have you heard the phrase, “Walk the talk and not merely talk the talk?” Apostolic action or to be apostles means living in Grace so that God can work through us to bring others to Himself.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear much fruit.” [John 15:16]

Finally, Apostolic Action is essential to the Church

If we don’t act, the Church is not able to carry out its mission to, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” [Mark 16:15]  

How do we participate in the Church’s mission to ‘proclaim the Gospel to every creature’?  Does that scare you?  

It’s hard for me to recognize my Action.  I believe my action is something that just flows from who I am. For me, I can see moments when I have been Christlike in my actions, attitudes, and thoughts.  But until they become intentional, I’m not sure they are necessarily apostolic in nature.  

On the weekend, we learned that for our action to be apostolic it needs to be more than just being kind or considerate towards our neighbors.  A non-Christian and non-believer can perform good deeds.  To clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick or in prison are all good things, but if we fail to introduce them to Jesus, we have missed the punch line.  Remember, “The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons will hear today” ― St. Francis Of Assisi.

On the weekend we learned about the qualities of Action:

• Rational – we need to employ our mind.  We need to have a plan of action.

• Resolute – our apostolic action needs to be bold, decisive, intentional.

Part of our Lent, we are praying for the conversion of poor sinners. I believe we need to go after the most influential who are doing the most damage. First, what comes to mind are those who lead Catholics in the wrong direction. Especially, but not limited to, those who are in positions of power and profess to be Catholic, while advocating falsehoods and immorality, leading Catholics to believe this is somehow the "New Catholicism."  "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES LENT" goes for 40 days, starting on Ash Wednesday and going until April 15 (Day 54). We will name a person each day and keep a running list. I encourage you to keep a notebook, and record each name, and pray over that notebook each day.  Let's ask God to convert these poor sinners!!!  

• Enthusiastic – our apostolic action needs to be enthusiastic.

• Constant – it is ongoing.  We need to look for opportunities.  We must avoid discouragement. 

I can read or hear about the laws being proposed or signed into law that are anti-life.  Laws that promote the killing of unborn children and even infanticide.

After attending the March for Life in Washington DC, we woke to the news about the law being proposed in New York that was to make New York the abortion capital.  It was disheartening to hear about the law being voted on in New York that would expand the killing of infants and the planned celebration by the supposedly Catholic Governor.  

It was a cold morning, but we knew that no matter how cold it was we had to attend the NJ Right to Life Rally in Trenton.  We couldn’t tell the legislators of New York how we stood on abortion but by attending the NJ Right to Life rally we could show our support to any NJ Legislators that happened to walk by.

After hearing about the bill in New York state, I was a little discouraged and had to be reminded that the final battle is already won—Jesus wins.  

• Supernatural – trust in God

It is His Grace, living in us, that helps us live out our Baptism; which in turn, helps to nurture the seed planted in their soul.  People want to see it in you before they will want to hear it from you.  

We know that our Apostolic Action is accomplished with Christ because our life in Grace and our prayer help us to trust that He is beside us.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.” [Psalm 23:4]   

• Apostolic – everything we do, we do for the Lord, not for our own glory.
Jesus sent His Apostles, now He sends you and me to love and serve our neighbor through our Apostolic Action.  As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” [John 20:21]

From the Cursillo perspective we all know the answer; we are called to proclaim the Gospel to those we meet in our moveable square meter by making a friend, becoming friends, and making them friends with Jesus.

• Make a friend.  Probably the easiest step.  All it takes is the will to take the first step; to introduce yourself.  It is important that we are looking for them, don’t expect them to be looking for you. 

• Becoming a friend.  Live a true, Christlike life.  Be interested in knowing them—what they believe and what they are interested in.

• Making them a friend of Jesus.  This final step is not accomplished unless it is done for Christ, with Christ, in Christ and like Christ.  Our Apostolic Action must be focused on Jesus; we desire that others love Jesus, and we are not worried whether or not they love us.    

We need to be open to and look for opportunities.

Recently, on our flight to California, I was sitting next to a gentleman that appeared Asian.  I noticed the book he was reading and writing in looked like a bible.  When the opportunity presented itself, I introduced myself to him and asked him if the book was a bible.  It was a bible, in Korean and English.  We talked for a few minutes.  I learned that he was returning home to California.  He had been teaching bible studies to Spanish-speaking people in north Jersey.  He said that he goes to New Jersey several times a year to teach.  When I told him that I was Catholic, he shared that his parents were Catholic, and he was raised Catholic, until in his words, “I got saved.”  

I wasn’t ready for the “Catholic until I got saved” comment.  I spoke with him a little more sharing my faith but felt insecure and inadequate to ask why left his Catholic faith.  After landing we both wished each other a safe trip and a blessed day.  But I felt like I missed an opportunity to share deeper.

As a couple, we complement one another.  We need each other’s support to get out of our own way.

Recently, after the birth of their second daughter, our son let us know that he might need some financial help.  Richard’s response was, “If he needed help, he would ask”.  Similarly, our niece who has asked for financial help in the past, indicated that they were having financial issues.  When we hadn’t heard from her for several weeks, Richard felt we should reach out to her.  For my part, I wanted Richard to reach out to our son and see if he needed help.  I was more willing to help our son than our niece, while Richard was more willing to reach out to our niece.

Sometimes our feelings and attitudes can get in the way; but together we can be open to all the opportunities that present themselves in our lives.  Maybe that’s why Jesus sent the disciples out in twos—to support each other; to be strength to the other when they are tired or worn down; and in our case, to reveal the attitudes that may get in the way of our being Christ to someone else.  

We also need to be prepared for successes as well as failures; sometimes people will be open for the message of the Gospel and there will be times that people are not willing to hear the Good News.  There will be times that you may see success in your apostolic action but there are times you may not.  As St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta said, “God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful.”

Our oldest son grew up Catholic, and got married in the Catholic Church, but ever since he and his wife have not had anything to do with God or the church.  When asked about Baptizing their first daughter, they said that they would let her choose.   Now, they have two daughters and all we can do is love them and pray that God works in their lives.  I’m sure there were things we could have said or done differently, but you can’t worry about what was, only what happens from now on.  We pray and hope and try to be an example of Jesus Christ in the world.  

Sometimes that is all you can do.  Remember, you may be the only bible that someone ever reads or hears.  Let me leave you with one last thought from Matthew Kelly:

“Go out tomorrow and create one Holy Moment.  Just one Holy Moment.  Not a holy day, not a holy hour, not a holy fifteen minutes, just one single Holy Moment.”  

A holy moment is a moment where you set aside self-interest, you set aside self-will, you set aside what you want to do and you just do exactly what you feel God calling you to do in that moment.