Feeling disconnected? Self-isolation and the indefinite suspension of classes during a pandemic can have that affect.

You're never alone.

To help connect you to God, your faith, and the community of believers (a.k.a. the church, which is each other), we're providing weekly reflections.

I am

May 4
Jason Cody

In the gospel of John, Jesus makes a series of seven curious statements about himself. He says the following:
I am the gate to the sheepfold.
I am the bread of life.
I am the vine.
I am the good shepherd.           
I am the light of the world.
I am the way the truth and the life.
I am the resurrection and the life. 
 
If we look at these statements about who Jesus is we find a common theme throughout: he is the one who came to give life. As the gate he is the entry point to a full, vibrant and living relationship with God; as bread he sustains our lives; as the vine he nourishes us the branches; as the light of the world he provides for our growth; as the truth he sets us free to live as we are meant to live; as the resurrection and the life he is our salvation and brings meaning to our lives. In other words Jesus knew that by giving up his own life he was giving us new life. Jesus knew his vocation or role was to bring us to new life in him with the Father. He was certain of who he was and what his call was. He was and is the great “I am who am” or “Yahweh”.
 
So who are you and I? Jesus models for us how we are to bring newness of life to others. This call or vocation to be life enrichers is common to all of us yet we may respond to that call in a variety of ways. Responding to God’s love is meant to be unique for each of us. Knowing ourselves and being honest about our dreams and capabilities are the first steps in discovering how we are called to live out our vocation to enrich and serve those around us. At this time more than ever we need people to step up to fulfill their personal calling to be an instrument of God bringing life and peace to God’s people. As people who believe we are created for a reason, we ask ourselves, “How is God calling me?  Whose life am I being called to enrich? Who is He calling me to be?”  Who does Jesus say I am?

Seeing the Good News of Christ In Every Day

April 27
Brennan Uhyn

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

Charles Dickens (1859)


This quote may encompass how you feel right now. 
It covers the spectrum of emotions you may be going through. Right now, we are in a pandemic isolation and it is week something of day, I don't know, in month Feb ApriMarJune?

Maybe you are finding it hard to be positive. I know there are days when I am right there with you. Maybe you are in your second round of binging Tiger King on Netflix and having a hard time seeing the good. It is interesting to see what people are doing on social media, the latest TikTok dances, such as the "Blinding Lights" dance videos and other people that are trying to connect with those in the outside world. 

Take Matthew McConaughey, hosting an online Bingo for seniors at a retirement complex in Austen, Texas and I love John Krasinski and his YouTube news like segment – "Some Good News". If you haven't checked it out, I highly recommend it and I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.  

And that is where we are at with our journey with Christ—we are in the Good News part. Before Easter we had Good Friday and before Friday was Maundy Thursday. The time in our story where the disciples did not know what was going to happen with their teacher, the messiah.  He was arrested, mocked, ridiculed, beaten, degraded and condemned to death. They did not believe his prophecy. If I was with them, I would have found it difficult to believe as well.  We are such tangible creatures. We need to see and touch to believe (Doubting Thomas). The disciples left everything to follow Christ and had their hopes crushed when he was crucified.  

But with the story of Christ, the best part came after all hope was lost, after the dejected and downtrodden left, the good news came when Christ arose and fulfilled what He said was going to happen. He took our sins, conquered death and forever changed history for humanity. That is the good news that we have everyday. 

So that is my challenge to you. This is my plan with the staff and students of BJM, on Monday, try to focus on only good news stories. Stories on social media, or any other way you connect with the outside world or maybe just focusing on the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a great initiative to have after Sunday, a day in which we remember what Jesus did for us through the celebration of the Mass. 

Let us pray, 

Lord, thank you for the good news of your resurrection. You took my sins and the sins of humanity upon you and allowed me to have salvation through you. Thank-you for all the good that is going on in our world right now. Thank-you for all the change makers and all those on the frontlines putting their lives at risk to help others. Thank you, Jesus, for what you did for me.

Amen. 

St. Paul and all the saints, pray for us. 

Reflecting Christ's Light

April 19, 2020
by Gayle Brodie 

May the Light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

Many of you know that this comforting prayer is offered at the beginning of the Easter Vigil when the celebrant lights the paschal candle. We then light our own candle from its flame, symbolizing Christ, the Light of the World in our own hearts and lives. This is our resurrection Hope. This is the good news. 

Now is the time to celebrate and share resurrection Light and Hope. How do we spread this Good News; how do we reflect the Light and Hope of our risen Lord in our lives and into the lives of others?  This is a very timely question as so many around us have heavy hearts. I pray the following story may help us all understand that we are not the Light but a means to reflect it into the darkness and suffering of our weary world. 

Robert Fulghum, the author of Everything I Ever Wanted to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, tells a story about Dr. Papaderos, a Greek philosopher and teacher who gave a lecture that he attended. At that lecture Robert asks, "Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?"

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this: 'When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. 'I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine—in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

'I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light—truth, understanding, knowledge—is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. 'I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world—into the black places in the hearts of others—and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.' And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.

GSCS family, may we be blessed anew with the gift of Christ's Light this Easter season. And in our Resurrection Hope, may we dispel the darkness of hearts and minds around us by reflecting Christ, the Light of the World in all we say and do. We are an Easter people. In Him we live and move and have our being! Alleluia!

Leaving the Tombs of Despair

April 12, 2020
by Tom Saretsky

Spring hasn’t been kind to us these past few years. Winter’s unrelenting cold, ice that goes into May, snow that is content to stay where it is, and the oppressive yoke that is winter, in general, is never in a hurry to leave. It doesn’t go gently into that goodnight; instead, it rages against the returning of the light! Spring is having difficulty escorting winter from the premises. But let us not despair; for Jesus said to Thomas, “Happy are those who have not seen but yet believe.” Spring will arrive. Hope, after all, is an empty tomb. 
 
The cold of late can play havoc on our moods, and coupled with the current world situation, it is easy to sink into despair. But despite the cold and the hesitancy of spring to claim victory, are we, like winter, being resistant to new light and life? The days are longer, warmer temperatures are on the way and the tomb is empty! Death has been defeated, and it’s important not to be lax in rejoicing in Jesus’ ultimate triumph: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.”    
 
As spring summons nature’s Lazarus from its earthen tomb, Easter affords us another opportunity to begin again, to return to the living by leaving behind our tombs of despondency and despair. It’s a season that calls us to participate in the unfolding of new life, and to actively participate in the building of a new world. 
 
Easter is the gift of abundance. Easter blesses us with renewed energy, renewed enthusiasm and renewed life. Like the seed planted in the earth, this Easter season, may you shatter the seeds of your own lives and realize the potential of your own growth by living lives of hope, unlimited joy, and leaving behind strings of empty tombs. 
 
Have a blessed and joy-filled Easter season. 

Set apart

April 6, 2020
by Darcie Lich

Have you ever stopped to consider what the word "holy" means?  We often equate the word with "blessed" or "sacred", but in fact, the word holy refers to anything that is set apart for God's purposes.

Passion Sunday marked our entrance into Holy Week – a week that is set apart for us to remember and retrace the last days of Jesus Christ, especially the during three sacred days that make up the Triduum.  For centuries, followers of Jesus have gathered together to participate in the washing of feet, to recall the institution of the Eucharist, to pray at the altar of repose as Jesus pleads with us to stay awake with him, to listen to the retelling of Christ's Passion and death, and to venerate the Cross.

But this year, as we mark this Holy Week, our churches are empty, and the words "set apart" take on new meaning.  We are keenly aware that we are apart, and our hearts ache.  As we isolate ourselves and our families from one another, the cry of Jesus from the cross, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" rings in our ears.  As the stone is rolled in front of the tomb, keeping everyone out, and Jesus in, we seal ourselves in our own homes.

This week has been set apart for us to enter deeply into the darkest and most harrowing moments of our Christian story. But remember: we know how this story ends.  Through the Cross, fear was shattered by hope, darkness was overcome by light, and death was defeated by life. 

Because we have gathered for centuries to tell and retell this story, we know it so well that we can tell it with confidence even when we are apart. St. Peter reminds us that we are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, chosen to proclaim the mighty acts of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).  We know that this is ultimately a story of victory, and we have been 'set apart' by God to proclaim it to the end of creation. We know that God's love cannot be quarantined.  We know that no stone is great enough to hold Jesus back.  We know that no darkness is so great that the light of Christ cannot overcome it.  

During this Holy Week, may we remember that the story of Easter is ours to tell.  May the love of God remind us that even though we are apart, we are not alone.  May the guidance of the Holy Spirit strengthen our resolve to trust in God's goodness.  And may our hearts be filled with peace as await in faith and hope the promise of Christ's resurrection.