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Chaplain's Corner

Spiritual Life

Here at St Joseph High School, each day presents many opportunities for growth and an increase in knowledge of the faith. Classroom learning, service opportunities, moments of worship and liturgical participation are all part of each student’s day to day life. This monthly blog from our Episcopal Chaplain, Fr Eric Silva, is a way to connect parents and guardians to what is going on in the spiritual lives of their children as well as present an opportunity for the parents own growth and knowledge of the faith. In a culture that often drives parents and children apart it is a way to bring those parents and guardians into the lives of their children in a small way. 

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After over a month of being in quarantine, I am certain that we are all tired of reading about ways to cope, strategies to stay busy, and all things related to Coronavirus news…I know that I am! There is so much happening in the world but it is so easy to be consumed by the reality that our world has changed at great length because of this global pandemic. While I cannot imagine the real suffering that is occurring because of the illness itself, lost jobs, and the anxiety of being “locked up” at home, I must say that I have found great hope in seeing so many from our own community and beyond, who have hunkered down in hope and have made great strides in choosing joy in the midst of so much sorrow and confusion. The patroness of this particular month is accustomed to choosing joy in the midst of sorrow; Mother Mary is the patroness of the month of May and there is no clearer time than the present for her patronage to shine forth in our own lives. The month of May has traditionally been dedicated to Mary since the 11th century but it has an even more ancient background. Traditionally, the ancient Greeks dedicated the month of May to Artemis who is the goddess of fecundity and the Romans dedicated May to honor the goddess Flora, who is the goddess of bloom or blossoms, which both undoubtedly were related to the spring flowers blooming in the month of May. At some point in the 11th century, the Catholic Church turned the focus to Mary because it is in her example and through her intercession that flowers may not bloom, but something far more important.

Mary’s uniqueness was not dependent on her job, because she didn’t have one; her uniqueness was not dependent on her status or money because she was just a normal Jewish girl. She didn’t even marry into uniqueness because her hubby was just a simple carpenter. Her uniqueness, her power, her strength, and what set her apart from the rest of creation, what made her even higher than all mankind and even the angels, were none of these things, but her holiness. Holiness is real power and real strength and that is what set Mary apart. Real power and strength does not come from managerial decisions but from holiness. It is holiness given by God that prepared Mary from the time of her conception, in all her cooperation, to bring about the savior of mankind.

The important thing to remember is that God did not set Mary apart for her own sake, and the life of Mary itself did not point to her own life, but to the life of her Son: the One from whom all goodness and mercy flows. Mary said those words to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” She was unique and set apart, yet she was radically given to the will of God; she radically gave her life away for the sake of God and for the sake of the rest of the human race. That’s where we learn what we must learn from this month’s celebration: that we are called to give of our lives in obedience to God, and only in giving our lives do we find real power and strength. When Mary gave her life at that moment, she was only fulfilling what she was created to do…what she was made for. In fact, it made her more herself by saying “yes” to God. God doesn’t call us to be boring but to be Holy! That idea often scares us because to be holy is to mean that we are not in control anymore; holiness changes us and those around us in amazing ways.

The Incarnate God, whom we celebrate and rejoice particularly during this Easter Season, who is all-powerful and who holds our lives in his hand offers us real power and real strength. What and who we celebrate this month should challenge us and the way we live because we live in challenging times. But more than ever our world, our country, your families, needs saints because only saints and only real strength and power, ultimately, only holiness will change the world. Be saints, nothing less.

In Christ & Mary,
Father Silva

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-9

Reflection:
A very Blessed and happy Easter to you all. In the Eastern Church there is a tradition that is entitled the Paschal greeting where, during Easter, one person would say to the other, “Christ is Risen!” and the other would respond with “Indeed, He is Risen!”. This small tradition speaks to the immense reality that Easter is not just another holiday that we celebrate as Christians, but it encapsulates the entirety of our lives. Pope Saint John Paul II said in his November 30, 1986 Angelus address, that “We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery - the mystery of his Death and Resurrection. ‘We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!’. We are not looking for a shallow joy but rather a joy that comes from faith, that grows through unselfish love, that respects the ‘fundamental duty of love of neighbor, without which it would be unbecoming to speak of Joy’.” During this celebration of Jesus’ conquering of sin and death, we choose to be joyful and we choose to share that joy with a world that so desperately cries out for it. God Bless and be sure to celebrate well!

Prayer:
O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Saint Joseph Our Patron, Pray for Us!  

Reflection:
For the modern woman or man, it is easy to let Holy Saturday pass by as simply the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In the year 2020, we have almost 2,000 years of retrospect on our side that allow us to know of what is to come, namely the resurrection. For those who watched Jesus die or who at least heard about it, they had not the clarity that you or I have. What must it have been like for those who had just spent three full years following Jesus, witnessing the countless miracles that He performed, and listening to His teachings, to see Him perish in an afternoon among two thieves? In a word, devastating. There were those who may have lost faith that Jesus was who He said He was, there were those who simply mourned His loss, and there were many in between. For each of us, while we see with the clarity of what is to come, we must always lie, not simply in wait for Him who is to come, but in hopeful anticipation; for those who are prepared for His coming with reap more bountifully from the harvest of His vineyard because we are among those to whom His promises apply no less than those who lived 2,000 years ago.

Prayer:
Ever-living and all-powerful God, your Only Begotten Son descended into the depths of the earth, from which he arose again in glory. Grant to your faithful, buried with him in baptism, to share in his Resurrection to eternal life, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Saint Joseph Our Patron, Pray for Us!  

Isiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

Reflection:
How can the commemoration of the death of God Himself be referred to as “Good Friday”? How can a day of darkness and fasting when the God of Love was put to death on the Cross be thought of as “Good”? It is important to look to the Good Friday liturgy for the beauty in answering that commonly asked question. After the reading of the Passion Narrative and the longer intentions for the needs of the whole world, the priest or the deacon retreats to the back of the church and proceeds to process into the church holding up a crucifix that is covered and periodically he will stop to proclaim, “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world. Come, let us adore.” It is not what was done that we consider good, but that which is accomplished is the good of which we speak; what was accomplished is our redemption! The very word redemption comes from the Latin word redimere meaning, “buy back”. The Lord Jesus Christ became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary for what we commemorate today because it is on Good Friday that He buys us back from sin and death in this one act of dying on the Cross. How Good it is to know that Christ has already paid the price of sin and death in order that we may have life and have it to the full! 

Prayer:
O God, who by the Passion of Christ your Son, our Lord, abolished the death inherited from ancient sin by every succeeding generation, grant that just as, being conformed to him, we have borne by the law of nature the image of the man of earth, so by the sanctification of grace we may bear the image of the Man of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Saint Joseph Our Patron, Pray for Us!  

Exodus 12:1-8,11-14
Psalm 116
Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

Reflection:
Holy Thursday is also known as “Maundy Thursday” which is a word that derives from the Latin, mandatum, meaning “commandment”. This is in reference to Jesus’ words to His apostles at the Last Supper when He tells them, “Do this in remembrance of me”. He tells His Apostles to do this in remembrance of Him, making not a suggestion, but requiring something of them that they have yet to fully understand. On this day, we commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist as well as the institution of the Priesthood, which are so intimately bound; the Lord, in His wisdom, institutes them on the same date in order that we may see clearly that the primary role of the priest is to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to be protectors of the Holy Eucharist. It is on this night that typically churches all over the world will empty their tabernacles and erect a separate altar of repose where the Lord will be carried at the end of the Mass and placed for people to come and adore. These various altars of repose are usually adorned with flowers and candles to represent Jesus Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and those who chose to stay and pray with Jesus at this altar or those who travel from church to church, do so in prayer as a way to seek to remedy what Peter, James, and John failed to do…stay up with Jesus in prayer for what was about to happen.

Prayer:
O God, who have called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity and of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Saint Joseph Our Patron, Pray for Us!