Pentecost Sunday

By: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

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     “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!” Pope St. John Paul II exclaimed this during a homily in Australia in 1986. Today, on Pentecost Sunday, we conclude the liturgical season of Easter. Today, we celebrate the descent  of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, upon the Apostles. It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles were able to pronounce the mighty acts of God and baptize three thousand people.

     However, this gift of willing the will of God was not merely given to the Apostles,. We, as the body of Christ, are called to evangelize and live our faith with great joy. Although the Easter season is coming to an end and we approach Ordinary Time, it is anything but ordinary.

     What does Alleluia mean, anyway? It means, “Praise the Lord!” And what better way to praise our God than to live and learn about his life? That’s exactly what happens in Ordinary Time, as the Mass readings revolve around Jesus Christ and his ministry. Quite literally, the Holy Spirit is our Alleluia! To conclude the joyful Easter season, the Holy Spirit comes down in order that we may better understand, discern, and choose the will of the Father. We cannot do anything on our own, for “the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” But it is through the Holy Spirit that our praise comes. It is through the Holy Spirit that virtues and gifts come; wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. I think this trust in the Holy Spirit, this desire to fully align one’s will to God, is shown best again by Pope St. John Paul II through this prayer to the Holy Spirit that he prayed daily:

“Holy Spirit, I ask you for the gift of Wisdom to better
know You and Your divine perfections, for the gift
of Understanding to clearly discern the spirit of the
mysteries of the holy faith, for the gift of Counsel that
I may live according to the principles of this faith,
for the gift of Knowledge that I may look for counsel
in You and that I may always find it in You, for the
gift of Fortitude that no fear or earthly preoccupations
would ever separate me from You, for the gift of Piety
that I may always serve Your Majesty with a filial love,
for the gift of the Fear of the Lord that I may dread
sin, which offends You, O my God.”

     So as we carry on this week, let us remember Him from Whom all things are made. May our words and actions not be our own, but rather, of our everlasting and ever-loving Father, through the immense power of the Holy Spirit. Let us live out the ministry of Christ, the only-begotten Son. And let our Alleluia ring for all those to hear, for although the Easter season has ended, our joy has only begun.

Mother’s Day

By: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

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     I want to begin by saying thank you and happy Mothers’ Day to all of our mothers: our physical mothers, our mothers by guidance and our mothers in spirit. It’s amazing how much our mothers do for us to ensure that we grow up to be great men and women in this world, so that we can be successful and grow up healthy. I learned early on that if you listen to your mother, not only will you avoid getting grounded, but often times you will come to discover that they know what is best for you. If you trust them and do as they say, more often than not, you will find out that you’ll end up better off than if you did not.  

      The same rings true in terms of faith. If we trust in Christ and his plan, we will be better off than if we fail to trust God. Sometimes, however it can be really difficult to trust God’s plan, just ask the mother of a teenager. Sometimes we are in trying times or we witness cruelty in our world and it can be difficult to continue to give our trust to God. Other times, Christ reveals His plan for us and we doubt it because it is too spectacular, we fail to trust because we do not believe that we could achieve the amazing things that Christ calls us to. The Apostles faced both of these as they stood and watched as their teacher was lifted into clouds. In the world that they lived in, Christians were persecuted and killed because of their faith and here was Jesus, telling these former fishermen, tax collectors and average townspeople who left everything to follow Him that they would receive power through God. Then, He’s gone. These apostles now have a decision to make, to forget Jesus and try to return to their normal life or to place their trust in what he said would happen. We, of course, know that they chose the latter and receive the gifts to grow the Church and spread the good news. So what will you do when given the decision to trust? 

     If Christ told you that you would have the ability to drive away demons, speak different languages, pick up a snake or drink poison but not be harmed or even to heal the sick if you only believe, would you trust that? Would you trust Him? Well, He did say that and we must trust Him. We can begin to practice our trust in Him by being unashamed of our faith and talking about it openly, by volunteering to help the homeless or sick, by praying for the Church and the members of your parish, or even by simply listening to your mother. 

Sixth Sunday of Easter

By: Thomas Boyle, UF Student

Love one another as I have loved you

     Imagine the humility experienced if you were to meet the pope in person. Even to non-Catholics, the pope is seen as a man of great wisdom and virtue. Then imagine the holy father looking into your eyes and saying “I’m a human too.” This message of humility is what shines through these weekly readings.

     We find Peter, the first pope, saying very similar words to Cornelius in the first reading. It is here, after stating that he is “also a human being,” that we see him make a proclamation to those who are listening. He states that all, not just the chosen nation of Israel, are open to receiving baptism and the love of Christ fully. This is something to reflect on that God calls all people closer to him since the Holy Spirit has come for all souls. Even those of different traditions are called into the the full life of Christ. The love of God is for every single person to come to experience. This should give us great hope and help shine light on our purpose.

     Next in the responsorial Psalm, we “break into song” praising God. Maybe the literal words are a bit archaic, yet the feelings invoked invite us to be humble enough to show extreme joy over Christ in public. This act of praising God in daily life is something that we could all use some more motivation in.

     Something else we must be always inspired to do is to love people always. We find ourselves caught up in the pride of our accomplishments and forget the humility that brings true happiness.

     This notion is expressed in the second reading through St. John’s pondering about love. The most important thing here is that it is not our love of God which makes us holy, but “that he loved us and sent his Son.” That is why Christians are called not just to be nice to people in a courteous manner, but to openly profess the love of God in a humble manner. Since we cherish the love of God in our own lives, if we are to really love our friends, classmates, and neighbors, we should consider having the humility to share the love of God through our testimony. Consider loving others by leading them to love Christ. 

     How, if we are supposed to bring others to it with joyful humility, is the love of Christ expressed? This is the great question which Jesus himself answers in the Gospel reading. He says if we keep his commandments we will remain in his love, so what are these commandments? “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus says. This takes incredible humility to execute. It is very hard to give your life to people who will abuse you. It is so hard that we heard Christ beg that he would be spared from trial in the Gospel just a few weeks ago on Holy Thursday. If God himself is intimidated by suffering, we should feel assured that our fear of suffering for love are expected. Just as singing a praise song in public might make you a little uncomfortable, Christ took the entire pain of the world onto himself so that we might being God glory through his death. This glory is what we celebrate now in the Easter season, that Christ’s Resurrection brings true life to us. We are called, this very week, to humbly share the beauty and importance of the Resurrection to those we love (aka everybody).

This week will we live for hope or for fear?

This week will we praise God in public or will we hide our light until the Mass next Sunday?

This week will we “love one another” by having conversations about Christ or will we settle for timid mediocrity? 

 

Fifth Sunday of Easter

By: Peter Nguyen, UF Student

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

     In this last verse of the Gospel reading, God calls us all to be his disciples, in order that we may become fruitful. This calling seems very simple at first, as it seems like a win-win. Trust in God, and He will give you all that you want. But if you look at the lives of the apostles and of those in the early Church, it was anything but simple. In the first reading, we see Paul, who was just recently converted by God, wanting to join the other followers of Christ. But the others were afraid, because they only knew of his past; as Saul, who persecuted Christians. But Paul willed God’s will, and upon his conversion, he went to various other towns, speaking boldly in the name of Jesus. Again, this was not simple. Becoming a disciple and establishing the early Church took a lot of courage, and he risked his life to uphold the truth. But in this act of courage, Paul bore fruit. He became the forefront of bringing the faith to others, and established the Church in places such as Antioch and Corinth. He became a saint through his act of faith, and his writings serve as a blueprint for missionaries and theologians alike.

     To be a disciple means that you are called to bring others to the faith. We are called, through our sacramental union with God, to live out His commandments, to love one another, and to spread the joy of the Gospel. This does not mean it’ll be easy, however, especially as students on a college campus. In this secular culture, we are called to be different, to break societal norms, and to live joyfully. Just as Paul faced chastisement, we will also face criticisms for our beliefs. At times, it may also seem simpler and more enticing to live as others are living. But we are made for more. Jesus calls us to remain in Him, just has He continually remains in us. It is through this confidence that we will bear fruit. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth doing unless it means effort, pain, [and] difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” True joy comes from trusting in God and gaining a greater understanding of the Sacraments. He is the vine, and we are the branches. That joy of living out God’s will for us surpasses any cheap pleasure one may choose to partake in, and the struggles form us closer to Christ. It is through this decision of becoming a disciple that will turn the heads of others and lead us all closer to Heaven. There, our faith will flourish.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

By: Evan Cowie, UF Student

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     Turn on the T.V. and flip to a random channel. Open YouTube, and find the Trending videos. Open Snapchat, and take a quick look through the featured stories.

     What did you see? I’m willing to bet that you didn’t see God mentioned – not even once. At best, you saw indifference to religion. At worst, maybe you saw someone advocating a lifestyle contrary to the teachings of God, or of the Church – or perhaps even directly attacking the Church.

     Welcome to the world! This is the status quo, and has been ever since our first parents Adam and Eve turned away from God. As Christ Himself said,

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:18-20).

     This is what we heard in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. They’ve just cured a sick man, and what do the authorities do? They put the apostles on trial! Just as they rejected Christ, even after all of His miracles, so to are they going to reject the apostles.

     It doesn’t matter, though – The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone. The words of the Psalmist, written about 1000 years earlier, spoke to this truth. No matter what rejection we experience from the world, it does not matter. Like Christ, and the apostles after Him, and all the holy saints throughout the ages, our lives are not for this world. The kingdom of God, in which we have a share as children, is not of this world.

     Yet, we’ve still got to reach out to those still living in the world, those that reject us. As Christ tells us in today’s Gospel reading, He has other sheep that do not belong to this fold. As the Good Shepherd, He desires to go after the one lost sheep, even if there are 99 others already in His fold (Luke 15:4).

     Brothers and sisters, Christ is Ascended. He has no hands and no feet on this Earth to do so – none but ours. We are the body of Christ, and so we ought to act with His will. He reached out continually, speaking the truth unwaveringly, even to the point of death. We are called to follow in His example.

      So today, reach out to somebody. If the world is dark, that is only proof of how badly it needs the light. As members of the Church, we alone hold that light, which is the fullness of God’s Truth and Grace, made fully present in the Sacraments. Don’t keep that light to yourself! Let it burn with vigor and passion, burn for the whole world to see. Don’t be afraid – darkness cannot overcome the light.

     “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).

Third Sunday of Easter

By: Evan Cowie, UF Student

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     Today, we heard Peter speak to the Jews. He’s honest with them – brutally honest. He tells them,

“You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death…”

     That same Peter, who in the Garden of Gethsemane drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, now strikes the People of God with his tongue. He pulls no punches, leaves no uncertainty: the People of God have blood on their hands. Not just any blood, either: it is the Blood of Christ, the Son of the Living God, who was perfect and blameless. Take a moment, now, and dwell on the sorrow and bitterness of that profound injustice. Understand the complete failure of the People of God.

     It’s been two thousand years since the historical event of the crucifixion. It would be easy to think that our hands are clean – that we bear no responsibility for the crucifixion. It would be comforting to think that Peter was talking only to those particular Jews, way back in the first century. He’s not.

Father Mike Schmitz put it wonderfully in this video: Fr. Mike Schmitz

     Christ died for our sins. In each of our sins, we put Christ on the cross. It is our arms that scourge Him, our blows the bruise Him, our words and taunts and irreverence that pierce Him. Our cruelty and indifference that crucifies Him.

     I want to emphasize this, because we often tend to downplay our sin and our guilt. We think “Well, I’m pretty good most of the time. I’m an alright person.” We tell ourselves that it’s not that bad – even when it really is. Our sins were so serious that they required a sacrifice of infinite value – the Blood of the Spotless Lamb – to be washed away.

      Don’t stop reading here, though. Don’t despair, because Peter’s not done. There’s another half to that line that I haven’t mentioned yet:

“…but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”

     What does this mean? That even though our sins put Christ to death, Death himself could never win! Jesus is not just the Paschal Sacrifice, but Conqueror, Redeemer, and Savior! For indeed, just as He died to true death, He rose to true life – today’s Gospel makes that clear. He arose, not as a ghost or spirit, but was resurrected bodily as well.. A true body of “flesh and bone,” and He showed them this by asking for food and eating. This resurrection from death is available to all of us – if only we are humble enough to admit our faults, to seek forgiveness, and to strive to amend our lives out of love for God.

     John tells us in today’s second reading that even when we do sin,

“We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”

Christ died so that we might have eternal life with Him – don’t let that sacrifice go to waste! Don’t let the death of Christ be in vain!

     In this Third Week of Easter, let us remember that even though we put Christ to death by our sins, that death is not the end of the story. For even the gravest of our sins, the power of Death itself, could not triumph over the Son of God. In a flash of heavenly light that burned His image onto the burial shroud, He rose from death, and brings us with Him into eternal life!

Alleluia, He is truly Risen!

Divine Mercy Sunday

By: Sam Abbott, UF Student

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     St. Faustina Kowlaska was just 19 years old when she had started having visions of Jesus. While at a dance in a park in Lodz, Poland, St. Faustina saw a vision of Jesus suffering. This vision changed her, and she joined a convent to fully dedicate herself to Christ. Throughout the rest of her life, Christ repeatedly visited and spoke to St. Faustina. Christ’s most influential vision to her was on February 22, 1931, when he appeared to St. Faustina, calling himself the “King of Divine Mercy.” Wearing a white garment with red and pale rays emanating from his heart, Christ told St. Faustina that he wanted the Sunday after Easter to be the Feast of Mercy.

     An answer to what Divine Mercy is and why it is celebrated the Sunday after Easter is found in today’s Gospel. In John 20:19-31, Christ reveals himself to the apostles hiding in the locked room. When Jesus stood in the midst of the apostles, he did not admonish them for fleeing his side. These men had devoted themselves to Christ, yet they cowered, hid and denied Him out of fear for their own lives.  The first words Jesus told these men were, “Peace be with you.” Christ forgave them for rejecting Him. When Thomas doubted the other apostles’ statements that Christ had resurrected, Jesus again appeared and showed Thomas the scars of his Passion to alleviate any skepticism. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is this: We must always remember His mercy is far greater than our sins.

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     To fully understand the message of Divine Mercy we must apply the struggles of the apostles to our own lives. When have we doubted Christ? When have we denied Him? When did we betray Him?

     The remedy for these sins is presented right in the Gospel. Jesus gives the power of his Divine Mercy to the apostles, so they may absolve our sins in His name. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, Christ’s Divine Mercy is available to us all. The sacrament of Reconciliation proves that God loves all of his creation and wants every one of us to experience his Divine Mercy. To quote St. Augustine, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

     Even if you were the only person on Earth, Jesus would have still sacrificed himself and gone through the agony of death to save you from sin. The treasury of Christ’s mercy is infinite. We must be willing to humble ourselves and accept this grace.

 

Easter Sunday

By: Thomas Mooney, UF Student

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     God created His greatest creature, the human, and placed it in a garden of peace and serenity. Satan saw this and devised a plan to turn the creation that loved God into one that would fight Him. Man drank the ever-enticing poison of sin and suffered. However, God promised us an antidote, a cure for our failure, so that we might one day be reunited with Him, cured of the sin which rots the flesh and the soul. For many years, man struggled with this sin, turning to God and turning away from Him. Many times, it looked as if God had abandoned them and, many times, they abandoned their God. Yet, man held hope for that cure which would be sent by God.

     Then one day, the powerful cure came, the conqueror that would vanquish sin arrived! The people were confused though. They had envisioned a magnificent warlord, a mighty warrior and King. Instead, the Son of God was a poor carpenter from Nazareth. As soon as Jesus revealed His nature, people denied and plotted against Him. Satan was at work once again. It was not long before, despite the good deeds and healing that Jesus performed, people were calling for His death. Then, following the Passover feast, Jesus was handed over to be killed. God’s chosen people, His beloved creation, the creatures who once shared in His joy and company, were now beating, torturing and killing His son. Christ was then nailed to a cross, lifted in humiliation and breathed His last. The cure, the Savior, mankind’s last hope hung there, naked, bloody and dead. Satan laughed in the face of God, as the Lord’s plan to win back his people seemed to have failed. For three days, the disciples scattered. For three days, mankind appeared to be on its own.

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     We arrive upon Easter Sunday. As we see in the Gospel, the disciples were going to care for the deceased body of Jesus to find that it was not there. The Apostles heard of this, saw and believed. Everything Christ had taught was now starting to make sense. Suddenly, Satan’s “greatest victory” quickly became his worst defeat. The antidote had been administered, and mankind could now rejoin God! God, out of love for His creatures, took on flesh for the very purpose of suffering, so He could die for us! These truths of Easter are the crux of our faith, the root of our belief.

     We must use the joy of Easter and run, like the Apostles in the Gospel, to our Lord and proclaim our belief. We must fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ, ridding ourselves of malice and wickedness. However, we must not miss one important line from the first reading:

“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”

     Yes, that means exactly what you think it means: We must share the Good News, the Easter message! God has entrusted us with the joy and truth, trusting that we would not keep it to ourselves but spread it among all people. We do this by our actions, by living by the law of God out of our love for Him and, equally as important, by speaking of Him. Many people like to resort to the “they will know we follow Christ by our actions” which is good, but we resort to this out of fear, because we are embarrassed or afraid to speak of our belief. Do not be afraid, God is with us! God died and rose for us, and we believe, so let us not waver in proclaiming our belief. So, enjoy this Easter celebration, sing songs of joy and feast on the goodness God has given us. But remember your mission! Remember that today there are people who are not joyful, who are not celebrating, who are not feasting because they have not yet heard the Good News: Christ has died for them, risen again, and they are loved.

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