From the Desk of Fr. Joseph
March 18, 2018
The Crisis of Opioid – There is Hope!
The local newspaper, The Southern, of Sunday, March 11, 2018, carried a heading: The Road to Recovery. The report is on the crisis of opioids. Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones calls it, “a public health crisis.” He says, the opioid addiction is “one that has to be addressed.” Mr. Jones laments: “We can’t solve this by ourselves.” As faith community, we must ask ourselves: What can we do to become a channel of true awakening, healing and transformation of life that each of us and our society is in dire need? Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in his book: Light of the World, 2010 offers us insight on how to deal with this darkness and evil of opioids and any other substance abuse that ravage and destroy the lives of our loved ones.
In a conversation with Peter Seewald, a German journalist, Pope Benedict XVI responding to frightening challenges that people deal with in this present age says:
There are of course signs that frighten us, that worry us. But there are also other signs with which we can connect and which give us hope.
Many, many bishops, above all from Latin America, tell me that wherever the road of drug production and trafficking passes – and that includes large sectors of these countries-it is as if an evil monster had its hand on the country and had corrupted the people. I believe we do not always have an adequate idea of the power of this serpent of drug trafficking and consumption that spans the globe. It destroys youth, it destroys families, it leads to violence and endangers the future of entire nations.
This, too, is one of the terrible responsibilities of the West: that it uses drugs and that it thereby creates countries that have to supply it, which in the end exhausts and destroys them. A craving for happiness has developed that cannot content itself with things as they are. And that then flees into the devil’s paradise, if you will, and destroys people all around.
And then there is a further problem. The destruction that sex tourism wrecks on our young people, the bishops say, is something we cannot even begin to imagine. The destructive process at work in that are extraordinary and are born from the arrogance and the boredom and the false freedom of the Western world.
You see, man strives for eternal joy; he would like pleasure in the extreme, would like what is eternal. But when there is no God, it is not granted to him and it cannot be. Then he himself must now create something that is fictitious, a false eternity.
This is a sign of the times that should be an urgent challenge to us, especially as Christians. We have to show and also live this accordingly that the eternity man needs can come only from God. That God is the first thing necessary in order to be able to withstand the afflictions of this time. That we must mobilize, so to speak, all the powers of the soul and of the good so that a genuine coin can stand up against the false coin and in this way the cycle of evil can be broken and stopped.
A need for healing exists, that man can understand again somehow what redemption means. Man recognizes that if God is not there, existence becomes sick and man cannot survive like that. That he needs an answer that he himself cannot give. The great communication, for example, that we have today can lead, on the one hand, to complete depersonalization. Then one is just swimming in a sea of communication and no longer encounters persons at all. But, on the other hand, it can also be an opportunity. For instance, to become aware of one another, to encounter one another, to help each other, to go out of ourselves.
So it seems to me important not to see only the negative side. While we must be very keenly aware of it, we must also see all the opportunities for good that are there; the hope, the new possibilities for being human that exist. So as then, finally, to proclaim the need for change, which cannot happen without an interior conversion.
January 01, 2017
As we start a new year many people make resolutions that they hope to keep as the year progresses only to realize with the passing of time that they could not remain faithful to the promises they had previously made. Why is it so difficult to keep New Year resolutions? Why do we find ourselves going back to the same old practices that we so greatly desired to change, motivated by freshness of New Year? I believe that the reason behind this failure of ours is due to a misunderstanding of the value of the gift: the gift of another year. We tend to take each year for granted since we know that years come and years go…we simply do not ponder the passing of time. But we may want to ask ourselves the true meaning of the gift: the gift of another year. It all begins and ends with God. Having a new year is a brand new gift from God who is longing to work with us to make all things new (Rev 21:5), to purify all things so that they can find their true image, which is to shine like a mid-day sun and to reflect the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the beautiful signature of God’s artistic work of love.
The New Year is a reminder of our true identity, our purpose in life and our call to live life to the fullest. The wisdom of the New Year teaches us that we are branches that spring forth from the vine of God. As branches we can remain fruitful only when we remain connected to the vine of life, Jesus Christ. The identity of God on this first day of the civil calendar year is made known as the God of blessings. God is about blessing us. He wants the best for us and he has come as a baby, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, to dwell among us and within us so that he may continue to inject in us the life-giving blood of blessings: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Nm 6:22-27).
We are transformed by the blessings of God. In our identity we become the face and the channel of God’s blessings on earth. The question we need to ask ourselves is: How am I a blessing for others? Or, am I curse for them by not being constantly aware and responsive to God’s living blessing through me? Be amazed this year by the generous blessing of God and give thanks because this is the true signature of your faith in the Son of Mary, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
December 25, 2016
Today is a day of great joy; for the One we waited for in prayer, in almsgiving and in reconciliation is here with us resting peacefully “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:1-14). Does he look like the one you have been waiting for? Does he look like one who has the power to take away all our fears in life? Does he look like the one whose star shines brighter in the night sky of life? Look again and you will be surprised to find that our Savior, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, has come without any sign of great power. Do you notice that he is just an infant? He is truly an infant who desires our help and our love in order to wake up the world with his cry and with his gentle baby smile that radiates the joy of his humility and love into people’s hearts. Is this the Baby you have been longing for? Remember he is interested in you. You are the reason he is born today of a woman, Mary, who first gave him a place to cry so that you too, may give him a place to love.
This is a perfect day to shine the light of peace that overcomes the darkness of sin and prepare our hearts for the joy of tomorrow and make us long for the healing hope which is in store for all believers. Today is a new beginning. The question we must each ask is: It is the beginning of what? What would you like to begin anew? God who is for us is always ready to begin all things new (Rev 21:5), ready to forget about our tearful past, ready to give us a reason to smile today, ready to give us a purpose for tomorrow with smiling faces trusting in his unwavering promises and blessings that he has and continues to shine upon us. God works with us to rewrite a story of our lives, a story of salvation, and a narrative of freedom. The pen that God uses to write a new story of life is the Word made a Baby who is the light of heaven sent to shine on earth. In order to learn to write in the manner of Jesus, one must be willing to hear and listen to the word of God, to reflect in the heart the deeper meaning of the Word of faith to be revealed to those who are humble of heart and are willing to sit at the feet of the Lord to learn how to work for peace on earth.
Emmanuel, the joy of our lives and the reason of our hope, deserves all our worship and praise in thanksgiving. For today we have been made sons and daughters of God and by his birth we have received the perfect rebirth through anointment by the flames of the Holy Spirit (Heb 1:1-6).
The Word is present at the beginning of creation. He is the beginning of all things. He is the living Spirit, the power that transforms all things allowing them to reveal the face of the invisible Father God on earth. As we journey here on earth, we are never alone. With God at our sides, and filled with the joy that inflames our hearts, we walk amid the passing things of earth from which we come to learn how to love the things of heaven and hold firm to what endures. Now the song of the angels in heaven can be the songs of believers on earth: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his life rests” (Lk 2:1-14).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
December 18, 2016
Faith, our life in Christ and being his true image on earth is made of hearing and seeing (Mt 11: 2- 11). How is your hearing and what about your sight? Right from creation, God has never stopped speaking his Word which has the power to form and give shape to all things and then call them good. In his divine wisdom, he sends the light of heaven to shine on earth so that those whose hearts are open to look to the light with the eyes of faith like Mary, the star of faith, may be healed from the blindness of sin, may see the gate of heaven open on earth through the waters of rebirth.
We inhabit a society that competes with our hearing and robs us of the joy of seeing the richness of beauty that adorns our world. Noise from our phones, TVs, radios, moving vehicles, and allure to attractive pictures that watching TV brings, leaves us blind and deaf, incapable of hearing what is important in life that comes to us from God in his holy, venerable words and in his artistic design of creation, the symbol of his constant presence with us.
Advent is this special time that we are called to pay attention to what we hear and to determine if what we see has the capacity to lift up our hearts high to God. It is a special and unique time to seek God while he may be found and call on him while he is near (Is 55:6). It is a time we seek to know his will and to surrender our own will to the possibility of God’s glorious love. It is a time to let our actions be purified so as to receive the flame of light and love that shames the pride of darkness which constantly obscures the face of God who is in our midst.
In Advent we strive to prepare for the baby Jesus, waiting for the emergence of the Lord of the universe and the prince of peace. We wait in faith while doing good works of mercy, forgiving those who have wronged us just as we have wronged the love of God and have been forgiven by the outpouring blood of new life (James 5:7-10). We must wait with Mary, the Mother of faith for the coming joy of Emmanuel- God is with us (Is 7:14). Dream like Mary and Joseph so as to offer a room in your hearts to Emmanuel. That he who is our holiness may turn your dream into hope and be the shining light of goodness and beauty in your life. This is the promise of the baby Jesus, who takes our human flesh so as to make us resemble the face of God on earth, a face of humility, charity and love. The One we wait for is the one who is waiting for us every day. That we may seek and find him while he is standing and knocking at the door of our hearts, longing to hear us cry from within: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But just say the Word, and my servant (and my soul) will be healed” (Mt. 8:8).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
December 03, 2016
At the beginning of Advent, at the start of New Liturgical Year 2016-2017, the central message we hear from Saint Matthew as a shining light to guide the path of Advent is contained in these words: “You must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:44). In the season of Advent we look in hope for the birth and second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Advent represents a school of humility, mercy and forgiveness that ultimately moves our hearts of stone to thirst for the cup of love that fills our bodies with the beautiful light of faith and brings us unending warmth of joyful hope.
How exactly are we to prepare ourselves for the “bath of rebirth” of the Son of Mary? On how to get ready for the shining star of God made flesh, Saint Paul said this: “Put on the armor of light” (Rom 13: 11-14). We live in a time when darkness created by the pressures of this world is working against us and making our eyes blind from seeing the signs of the face of the “baby God” already present in the world. The Psalmist knows even a better way to prepare for Christ the King of the universe, saying: “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord (Ps 122:1). In the temple, God comes to meet us, to welcome us and “instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his path” (Is 2:1-5). The house of the Lord is the symbol of our common family. We are children of heaven dwelling on earth who continue to labor for the creation of the Kingdom of God on earth, a Kingdom of truth and justice, a Kingdom of joy, peace and happiness.
Those who prepare for the Lord, those who walk in the path of light, those who rejoice in the church and put into action his teaching, shall be filled with the “Spirit of wisdom and understanding” (Is 11:2) to know the plan of God’s will, a plan for freedom, a plan for salvation for all who believe in the Son of Man. Saint John the Baptist strongly states that the heart of preparation for the baby Jesus into our hearts is made possible when we “REPENT,” for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mt 13:1-12). The fruit of repentance is marked by our mission to do good works of love and charity, to share ourselves and our material gifts, to serve in the church by touching the needs of our neighbors, especially those who are poor, needy, lonely and sick. In this new liturgical year one constant question that Jesus will ask you all year long is: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51) Take courage, do not be afraid, and let him know what you want; for he is kind and merciful.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
July 5, 2015
1. What’s new in Laudato si’ (LS)? What’s in this document that we have not seen from the Church before?
The document is a call to conversion and action. While Laudato si’ fits perfectly within Catholic tradition, it is saying with new force that concern for the environment is no longer “optional” for a believer. Caring for the environment is now even more clearly and surely part of Church teaching.
2. Why does the Pope pay little attention to the population problem?
LS acknowledges that population density can be a complicating factor in some areas. But people are not the problem. Waste is a much bigger problem: our throwaway culture and our tendency to consume without reflecting on our real needs, both material and spiritual.
3. The Encyclical seems to make technology and finance enemies.
Isn’t that a bit simplistic, even retrograde?
Technology and the financial markets can be wonderful instruments, as long as they are serving human beings, enhancing human dignity, as opposed to making relatively few very rich and a lot of people slaves. This calls for honest debate. What constitutes real technological progress? Where does it help human dignity, but where does it degrade it? Or financial markets: are they helping to spread the wealth? Are they helping to bring people out of poverty?
4. LS argues against fossil fuels. And yet cheap energy has done a lot to lift the poor out of poverty. Does the Pope want to deny them that possibility?
No. The Pope wants the wealthy nations, and those that have polluted more, to cut back on fossil fuels. He argues that alternative energy is available for all. But that requires solidarity: wealthy nations sharing their profits, helping the poorer nations to develop alternative energy sources.
5. It appears that the Pope is backing global agricultural planning on a massive scale (n. 129, 164). That’s not really his job, is it?
Neither the Pope, nor the bishops around the world, are going to provide technical solutions. But they will speak on behalf of those with no voice. That’s all the Pope is doing: saying that we either change the way we are producing crops, or we’re headed for trouble. It will be for others – conscientious laypeople – to work out the solutions.
6. This document has a fair amount of economics in it. For example, claiming in n. 109 that finance overwhelms the real economy. Is that the kind of opinion a Pope should be expressing?
The Pope is not lecturing on economic theory. He has very clear ideas on human dignity, and what it means for someone to be excluded or without work. They’re missing that sense of self-worth that comes from work hard and putting food on the table for their family.
7. Why is the Pope so anti-market? (for example: 189, 190) Isn’t this just a Latin American prejudice?
Look at the unemployment rates among young people in Europe, and the number of people risking their lives to leave Africa. There’s nothing Latin American about this at all. The global economy right now is simply not serving the great majority of people. That’s all he’s saying. Yes, plenty of wealth has been created by the market economy; but there’s also too much absolute misery, and plenty of indifference to go with it.
8. The Pope claims that global warming is one of the principal challenges for humanity right now (no. 22). Leaving all debate aside, that seems to be a very earthly concern for a man with a spiritual mission.
Everything is connected, and nothing truly human is outside of the Church’s concern. A person of faith should show even more responsibility regarding creation, which is a gift from God. Climate change isn’t a theoretical matter, it is already doing a lot of damage, especially to those least able to adapt.
9. Who, besides Cardinal Turkson, helped the Pope write this? There are a lot of Bishops’ Conferences quoted, but where did the science come from?
A number of people helped the Pope on this, but his name is on it and, in the end, it is his encyclical. The science comes from the same place we all get it: the scientific community, which has been working on this for decades. It’s important to note that Pope Francis recognizes there are points subject to debate; he simply wants the debate to be honest.
10. What ever happened to natural law? It has always been at the center of the Church’s moral teaching, but the Pope does not see to use it in LS. Is this a theological shift? Is he turning his back on Pope Benedict, who at the Bundestag used natural law in talking about the environment?
What we see in LS is not a theological shift but an attempt to find new language for a broader audience. In this case, even those who don’t have an ethos based on natural law can see that taking care of the environment for future generations is the right thing to do.
11. No. 24 claims technology and finance pretend to be the only solution to our problems. But technology and finance have brought a lot of people out of poverty, and made the economy grow. Does LS want to take us backwards?
Technology and finance have helped some people a lot more than others. LS is not about moving backwards at all. It’s about moving forward in a way that respects human dignity, doing everything possible to reduce the numbers of those who keep on being excluded from decent jobs, decent housing and decent healthcare. It’s also about moving forward in a way that respects the planet.
12. The Bolivian Bishops (n. 48) claim that environmental problems hit the poor the hardest. Others counter by saying that environmental controls will hurt the poor more. Why should one take the word of the Bolivian bishops?
The Bolivian Bishops are echoing the protests of so many poor people from around the globe who are hungry because they can’t grow enough food for their family. Just listen to those who are risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, or the Rio Grande into the United States, because it’s their only hope.
13. With all due respect, is the Pope living on another planet? Does he really believe what he writes in N. 52, that wealthier should help contribute to solve the energy problems of poorer countries?
Pope Francis is the first to admit that solidarity is not a popular word. But without solidarity, while some places may get richer, we won’t be going anywhere as a global community. The poorer nations will develop when wealthier nations give them a hand, and energy is a part of that.
14. N. 55 is a kind of condemnation of air conditioning. We know a lot of Europeans don’t like it, but is it really that bad?
Just as many of us waste water, consuming a lot more of it than we really need, many countries waste energy with excessive air- conditioning. When the Pope talks about a more sober lifestyle, it’s an invitation to see what each one can learn to live without.
15. Does LS promote wealth re-distribution? N. 193 seems to suggest that.
LS promotes solidarity among people and nations. Pope Francis has no magic formula for how the wealth should be shared, but he certainly is calling on those who have more than they can eat to open their minds and their hearts, and to share with those who don’t have enough.
16. Buying and selling and trading have been going on forever. It also keeps people working. Is consumerism really as bad as LS depicts it (n. 124, for example)?
We all have to consume, to eat healthy foods, and to drink clean water. What we don’t need is to foment an insatiable desire for more; creating needs that aren’t really necessary at all. Think about someone who has lost all control with drink or with drugs; it becomes very violent, destructive behavior. There is a similar kind of addiction with consumption. A constant desire for more things, more possessions, becomes an obsession. Thinking about the poor, or about future generations, can actually set one free.
Sing and Dance the Song of the Mother Earth with Pope Francis: “Laudato Si”
“God did not make death nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living” (Wisdom 1:13). Instead, He made the living “Mother and Sister Earth,” and rejoices in the song and dance of the goodness and beauty of the harmonious melody that creation as a whole produces in the words: “Laudato Si, mi signore” (Praise to you, my Lord).
Pope Francis in his Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, awakens the sleeping mind and heart of all humanity to realize the truth and the wisdom hidden in creation that the Earth is our “common home,” our common ‘Mother and Sister’ from which our sustenance and hope is birthed.
Our Sister Earth is lamenting her lost beauty and purity stolen by human greed, selfishness and the abuse of her inner wealth necessary to support life for everyone. The common language which is necessary to communicate the sweet goodness of Mother Earth is Peace. The fragrance of peace must be found in the nectar of the human heart.
Pope Francis warns that “Ecological catastrophe” looms wide in the heavens and on the horizon if human progress is unrestrained from overflowing beyond the designated banks of harmony, common-good and unity of life.
Pope Saint John Paul II in his great love for the Mother Earth saw how unbridled development was deforming the beautiful face of our mother and sister earth and called on all of God’s children to a new life of “ecological conversion,” a call to become part and partner of our common creation. A call to have a good relationship with creation of which we are members can be made possible when humanity ascends the ladder of truth, becoming consciously aware that raping and robbing the Earth of its unique blood-life is suicidal to human progress and existence. Pope Benedict XVI described the beginning of the violation of the Earth: “The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves.” When humanity rejects the Creator and refuses to learn the holy grammar of goodness and the vocabulary of beauty hidden in each and every divinely and artily created universe, then the communication that emerges is full of corruption and is marked by the tone of destruction, plunder and brutality.
The need to protect our dear Earth is not the work of the Church alone but, according to Pope Francis, a responsibility at the heart of authentic science and philosophy and any other meaningful development. Our destruction of the Earth is, according to Patriarch Bartholomew, “a sin against God,” “a crime against the natural world,” a darkness of our time that is in dire need of the light of the Son of God made flesh, the Star of creation. The Gospel of the Mother Earth, of beauty and love, seeks a response from converted hearts that can see the face of God in all created things. It also seeks a response to the generosity of the Creator, God, in one voice of worship, by singing the sweet song of life in a melody capable of healing the wounds that humanity has inflicted on her: Laudato Si, a song dear to the heart of Saint Francis of Assisi and echoed by Pope Francis for all the faithful and all people of good-will, to wake up and plant the seed of charity in order to harvest the fruit of love and peace which is the DNA of our Mother Earth and of humanity.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Lent is a blessing, a time to seek and find Jesus, and be transformed into His likeness, love and prayer
God is happy to reveal His Son to each one of us so that in seeing Him, in encountering Him we may be blessed by a
generous gift of God revealing to us our heart’s desire which is, to share in the life of His Son. On the Mount of transfiguration,
from the cloud, the voice of God is heard. This experience on the Mountain of light, is our own experience in life
where most of the time we find ourselves at the peak of the mountain of challenges in life and feel that we are alone,
and sometimes we even become afraid and say that God has abandoned us. But the amazing thing about God is that
He is always present with us when we are at the peak of our sufferings, and all that we see before us is the cloud of fear
and doubt. When we are tempted to believe that there is no hope on the horizon, there we hear His healing and inspiring
words: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” Who exactly is this beloved Son with
whom God is well pleased? We know that it is Jesus, but in fact, God is addressing you and me. You and I are the beloved
sons and daughters with whom God is well pleased. This voice can be heard and listened to only by those who
are willing to journey with Jesus during this Lent to the mount of prayer and fasting. Lent is a journey where we seek to
renew our relationship with Jesus as He walks with us to the mount of transformation, of repentance and reconciliation
so as to meet God the Father who always comes down to meet us amidst the clouds of suffering, pain, sickness and
Lent is a time to sharpen our listening capacity, to listen with the ears of the heart. When we stay long enough in Jesus’
presence, listening to His word, we become changed, we receive a gift of new vision and when we look around, instead
of seeing many enticing and confusing things in life, we become blessed to see only one person, Jesus. This is the goal
of Lent: “To see Jesus” who dwells within our hearts and is present in each one of us.
Abraham our father in faith was abundantly blessed by God since He accepted to respond to God’s calling to take the
journey of faith. He did not know for sure where God was leading him but still he trusted in God’s protective love and
walked in faith. Because he believed God, even though the way ahead of him was completely covered in the darkness
of the cloud, and did not know where he was going, he humbly and obediently placed his life in the hands of God. Because
of his act of faith, he was blessed richly by God and through him, God continues to bless you and me. Lent is a
time for each one of us to trace the footsteps of our father Abraham, the step of faith, so that we too, may be blessed by
the gift of a Son who has come to prepare us for the victory of life over death at the table of the Eucharist and more so
at the Easter celebration of joy.
We Rejoice in Harvesting the Fruits of the Resurrection
In the Spirit of Faith, let us give thanks to God for the newly baptized and confirmed in our Church: Shelby Crews, Reed Koeneman, Daniel Rutherford, Caitlin Williams, Camdyn Carole-Marie Quillman and Jon Olinger. That they may be the living light of the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
In the Spirit of Hope, let us rejoice with the first communicants: Grayson Benson, Addison Galbraith, Sydney Galbraith, Hannah Kelly, Karson Konkel, Olivia Numi, Auna McClure, Ellie Searby, Anna Rose Sheehan, Aydan Zoller, Charley Mercier and Cibyl Mercier. That the joyful flame of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ burn constantly in their hearts forever.
In the Spirit of Charity, let us pray with those who are going to be confirmed by Bishop Edward K. Braxton next Saturday: McClain Baker (St. Madeline Sophie Barat), Delaney Bandy (St. Lucy), Katherine Blazo (St. Elizabeth), Jacob Brown (St. Matthew), Morgan Bullar (St. Francis of Assisi), Megan Dale (St. Angela of Merici), Charley Mercier (St. Hubert), Ryan Myers (St. Francis of Assisi), Elizabeth Schafer (St. Elizabeth of Hungary), Landon Schubert (St. George), Avery Shivley (St. Julia) and Katherine Smith (St. Rose of Lima). That the power of the Holy Spirit inspire them to respond to the call of service in the mission of the Church.
In the Spirit of Unity, let us join our voices with the whole Catholic Church leaping for joy for the heavenly gift on earth for Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Saint John XXIII and Karol Wojtyla, Saint John Paul II who are raised to the
podium of the highest holiness this Saturday by Pope Francis. That we may learn from them how to embrace a life of humility, generosity and suffering in Christ so that, the victory of Jesus, of life over death, of light over darkness, and of peace over division, may find a face in our lives as the present living saints of this gray age.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
You Are Your Choices
Look at your life. Are you happy with your life as it is now? Is there something you would have liked to be different?
The person you are today is a series of unexamined choices you have made in the past and still continue to make today. The person you wish to be tomorrow is hidden in the choices of faith and trust you are afraid to make now in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
You may choose to blame others for your bad choices, so as to feel good for a short while. But the truth will always haunt you deep in the compartment of your heart. The voice of truth, vibrating in the silence of your heart, cries out a loud: “If you choose you can keep the commandments of love, forgiveness, trust, and faith, and you shall live in the light of peace.
“Whichever you choose, bad or good, shall be given to you.”
Those who are wise and blessed have made one choice; God, the law of love. In fact, the first choice was made by God to love you and the rest of humanity through the gift of His Son on the altar of the Cross. Choose “Yes” of Mary in the serenity of your heart, and you shall have the wealth of peace. Choose trust of Jesus in the spirit of your soul, and you shall enter the Kingdom of God and dance for joy at the table of life and happiness. You are your choices.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Light Of Unity
The light of the Cross which is already shining in the hidden corners of our hearts should not be deemed by our misconceived erroneous ideas about the generosity and compassion of God to all His beloved children. The blood of Jesus Christ is a new light, the rising sun in the world of darkness which beckons all who search for the true ultimate meaning of life to surrender to the configuring power of love. Humanity has been saved by a person, He who is the perfect light, has assumed all that divides and destroys the beauty of divine unity of which we have been crafted into even before we were born. God’s perfect artistic design for humanity is a life that knows no division, a life that seeks the warmth of harmony among peoples and yarns for “abundant joy and great rejoicing” (Isaiah 9:2).
God continues to call us in Christ to a life of holiness, to be like Him on earth, to become the living and the healing light of mercy and reconciliation. Division does not exist in God’s alphabets, it is a creation of people’s pride and rejection of the free gift of His friendship extended to all people. God’s unique plan for humanity is that we may “be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (I Corinthians 1:10) of repentance in the ocean of grace, in the waters of transfiguration by emerging into the kingdom of hope, a land of faith where truth embraces humility and peace kisses the lips of love.
Each one of us must ponder, meditate, and reflect on this one fundamental question: “Is Christ divided?” (I Cor 1: 13). Christ who calls all of us to partake in His Word and nourishes us with His Body, sends us on a mission to proclaim the good news of Emmanuel, “God with us” to the rest of the world and to invite them to follow the
way of forgiveness, the path of authentic life illumined by the heavenly light on earth, the Holy Spirit shining in the hearts of believers. We must not stop working in the Spirit of charity, we must be a sign of healing, an instrument of compassion, kindness and divine transformation, so that Christ’s prayer and wish for you and me may become a present reality, “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17: 20-21). At the hour of doubt and despair, God shall call you by a new name, ”My Delight,” (Isaiah 62:4) and He shall embrace you by the warmth of joy. Let us join Mary, the mother of faith, the woman of unity and simplicity, the lady of silent prayer and gaze into the goodness of the Lord with a heart which bits in a musical rhythm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” (Psalms 27:1) in Him I trust, follow, and live.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
A Light of Nation
We are the handiwork of God through which His face shines and His voice vibrates as He makes us the light of nations. Light shines brightly closer to the main source but deems as one moves further away. When we gaze at the perfect light, Christ, the vision of our hearts are aided to recognize the face of the Lord present in our midst. The Word is light, the radiance of life and the summit of all human dreams and hope. We are called by God to be His messengers and partners, custodians and recipients of the good news of freedom, of redemption brought about by the divine act of love expressed in the free gift of the Cross.
The Light has the power to transform a people who had been prisoned in the world of darkness by introducing them to a new world animated by the glittery of truth. Choosing the path set by the Light, is the ultimate joy and fulfillment of every life. The beauty of the light is reflected in our words and its goods becomes alive in the power of our deeds. Light does not disappoint even in the face of darkness, in it one builds a stable identity of holiness, a response to the voice, “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
The Lord has spoken in the One who is the living light of the world and in His self-donation, a gift of humility and trust in the divine plan of the Father to the rest of humanity, every word, all aspiration, longings comes to fulfillment in the rays of the Resurrection. Those who are anointed with the oil of faith and reconciliation sing the heavenly song, “to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”(Psalm 40:10).
God has become the head of human tribe and those who seek membership or are called to His single family, are initiated by the purity of water, branded by the Word of humility and marked by the sign fire of the Holy Spirit. In God’s generosity of friendship, in the Spirit of compassion and kindness, in the light of patience and forgiveness, those who have been captives in the mist of pride and selfishness, He has healed by the antidote of His mercy hence, offering them a new breadth, a new identity, a worthy dignity, grace, the “power to become His children” (John 1:12) in the mystery of holy adoption. Yes, “you are my servant, I called you from the womb to do my will.”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Baptism Makes Us One
In the divine magic of holy water, God reveals Himself to the world through a Son, the humble one who unites Himself completely by taking upon His shoulders human sin in order to set them free, to purify their souls by the fire of His Spirit. Standing in the muddiness of water, the Son shares the dirt of our sins; and by looking to heaven in prayer, He becomes a bridge of reconciliation, of purity between God and humanity. Turning our hearts to the wave-length of Christ’s faithfulness, we are captured into God’s intimacy, music of love.
God speaks in the flow of water, forming a new people in the image and likeness of the Spirit, a chosen race dear to God’s heart. Baptism is a call, a free gift, to share in the richness of God’s love and forgiveness. The waters of baptism form and mold a new people dear to God’s heart; a people who are anointed with the oil of new identity as sons and daughters of God.
The voice of God vibrates in the sound of peace and in those who seek His goodness in truth with a heart of penance and is made the living voice of God on earth, the light and joy of heavenly inheritance. Listening to the voice of God with a longing heart is the sole purpose of human life on earth, since the Word is the beginning and the end of life. The voice of God, the Word made flesh, the sound of hope, the power of charity renews our inner being by healing us from the darkness of our inner pride by the shining light of humility and service.
Baptism opens the door of heaven to humanity in order to partake at the blessing of God’s peace which rains down on people, soaking them with the light of the Holy Spirit, so that they may become the life giving water which purifies people’s hearts contaminated by the filth of sin, hence, transforming them into an acceptable pure sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
Baptism is a school of faith, a seed of life watered by the words of regeneration-the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who is the source and the summit of human joy and happiness. The act of baptism is a vivid and powerful sign of God’s divine design for humanity, a plan for fulfillment, healing and harmony witnessed to by the genius work of the Spirit of unity. It is a language of the Cross, an accent of selfless love written in small letters of obedience and capitalized in letters of the will of God. Baptism welcomes us in a family of believers, a new culture of holiness, a tribe of God marked by the mystery of unity in words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:13-17).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Star, the Epiphany of Love
The birth of Jesus on earth has ushered in a new world of a pilgrim people whose eyes seek the face of the star of freedom. Those who follow the way of the star by gazing to heaven in prayer will have the light of life. We can make the year 2014 the year of joy, the year of the shining star of justice, the light of peace, Jesus Christ. God has revealed His plan of salvation in the sign of a heavenly star by calling all people to rise up in splendor, to raise their eyes to the Lord, and to approach His divine table with a precious gift of self in faith.
The new King of the universe, the Shepherd of God’s flock, invites us to be the stewards of the Spirit, and to let His generous glory shine through us, so that the poor may be found and made rich in the grace of His charity. Those
who seek Jesus Christ, the Lord who comes to save us with a sincere heart, have seen “His star at its rising and have come to give Him homage,” (Mt 2:2) respect, worship, gift and thanksgiving. Jesus brings a gift, in fact, He is the gift that troubles people’s hearts. The news of a new ruler, a king, a servant, is like an earthquake which shakes the foundation of all the kingdoms on earth. He is a news that causes great fear for He comes with power of love which transforms the face of the earth, dismantling the human erected boundaries between nations, pulling down the walls of pride and separation, and re-drawing the map of the universe with the marker of mercy, and defending it from the king of darkness with the shield of self-gift, the light of the Cross, a seal of joyous resurrection.
The most important question asks, “Where was the Christ to be born?” Please, do not seek Him where He is not found; do not search for Him where He is not conceived, do not inquire of Him where His star has not shone, but to the humble of heart, to the believing little ones, the light of His love becomes the wellspring treasure of a redemptive life. The star of truth and faithfulness wants to emerge through you especially in places where you hear the cry of the poor, the sound of the despairing, and the voice of the lonely and sorrowful. Do not keep in secret the good news of the healing rays of this divine light. Let its therapeutic beauty appear in the flower of your words and actions, so that the hearts of those who seek for the ultimate meaning of life may leap for joy and sing the song of faith and unity in Christ.
Humanity must not tire to searching diligently for the shining star already present in our hearts in the form of word, and after encountering Him in a relationship of friendship and love, may we share the wealth of His Epiphany with others who still thirst and hunger for His tender touch of mercy and reconciliation. May the living star, Jesus, precede the steps of our search; may our dreams lead us to a place of holy rest, in a house where He can be found, and may our lips speak the word of joy as we go back to our communities by a new way, as a transformed people, children of God.
A journey of authentic faith in God, a yearning for truth is a treasure of God’s grace, a gift to humanity for, “God has no favorites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Christmas, a gift of love
Christmas is a very special time to reflect and meditate with Mary and Joseph on the mystery of divine light; the wonder of God becoming man, so that men and women of humble faith may speak the language of peace, dream about a world of justice, work for the gift of reconciliation and sing songs of great joy. The flower of Christmas, the rose of love, is the color of faith in a baby who has come to save us, to set us free from the bondage of sin. Emmanuel, “God is with us,” has come to take away our fears, darkness and to redefine the purpose of human life on earth, so that all who seek Him in trust and in homage may conceive Him in their hearts and bring Him to birth through their act of service. The world is patiently waiting for the star of the universe to shine His light through our words and actions. You and I are called by God to become a perpetual and a living Christmas gift. God is one of us, so that united with Him, we may be a spring of love on earth.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Sign-up to serve God with your gifts and talents
A church is a family of love where each member has a place to exercise his or her God given gifts and talents for the common wellbeing of our Christian
community. Just like every part of a human body is very important and has a unique place in the body, so also is every member in the Church. The Church, just like a human body, is healthy and functions properly when each member shares his or her gift of self in love with the rest of the Christian family. When one part of our body is sick, or does not function well, then the whole body is affected negatively. Please, it is another time in the new year of the Church when we are called to renew our commitments and service to God by our acts of charity united as one with the rest of God’s family. Sign up in any area where you think God is calling you to shine the light of love in building up our Church. You are free to sign in more than one ministry. I hope that you will kindly respond to this generous call from God who wants to use your unique gifts to reveal His face of justice and truth on earth, so that your joy may be full; and your name be written in the book of life. What Sacred Heart parish is in need of now more than ever is your participation in the life of our Church, so that walking hand-in-hand, we may become a living sign of Christ in our community.
In the pew, you will find a paper with the list of different ministries which forms the face of our Christian life that is: Worship, Faith formation and Outreach. Please, pray over this divine calling to service and then sign up, a commitment for at least one year. When you have filled the form, place it in the offertory basket during the offertory collection. Thank you for your willingness to share your God-given talents and gifts with the rest of the Christian family.
Thanksgiving Celebration November 24th at 6:30 pm we will have a Thanksgiving Celebration bringing together other Churches in the Ministerial Alliance here in our parish. Please, come and show your gratitude to God for all His blessings in your life. Let us show our hospitality to our brothers and sisters from the other Churches who are coming to worship with us, and may the Lord of unity and blessings be praised at all times. There will be a collection to support the work of love and charity rendered to the poor in our community by the Ministerial Alliance. God is pleased with a generous heart. Thank you all for supporting our Church, and may God of blessings and thanksgiving reward your kindness with the gift of peace.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Nov. 17, 2013
In everything you do and say, strive to imitate the love of Christ and be a model of justice, keeping yourself busy by doing the work of God to serve the little ones. You are the living temple of God, a holy city, built on the foundation of selfless, redemptive love. Be wise, read the sign of time when Christ is coming to restore all things back to God’s hand. The end of time, the reign of the power of sin is living among us, and many people who are dressed in pride are following this path that leads to complete destruction; separation of oneself from the free love of God the Father. “If today you hear His voice harden not your hearts,” (Hebrew 3:15) for Christ has come to rescue us by the power of the Cross, so that those who live in the world of darkness may see the light of freedom. Let your light shine through the valley of darkness and let your faithfulness to God’s call to His service become a living witness to the power of mercy and grace, so that those who see your good work of charity may go down on their knees with their eyes lifted up to God the Father and give thanks. Persevere in prayer, calling on the name of God, the living One in time of temptation, so that the wisdom of love that dwells in your hearts may resurrect your joy and reveal the face of a new world of justice present in you for the time has come when, “your redemption is at hand.”
ADORATION FOR ALL
A number of people have asked me, “Father, who should come to the adoration?” Only those people who seek to see the face of God, present in their hearts and longs to find their true identity as children of the Father should come and sit at the feet of mercy, to gaze at the beauty of love shining in the Blessed Eucharist. This is a place for all God’s children; a place to give thanks to God for His gift of life for each one us; a place to tell God in tears and joy all that goes on in our lives; a place to offer prayer on behalf of our loved ones; a place to remember to renew one’s love with God; a place of mercy and forgiveness; a place of rest and peace. In this place, we are purified, we are humbled, we are transformed into the image of Christ who spent time, day and night, with His Father in prayer and said to Mary and Joseph, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:47) Adoration is the door to heaven, the ladder that leads to the inner sanctuary of God, a place of kindness and compassion. It is the world of divine imagination, the artistic work of the Holy Spirit molding us anew tenderly in the light of silence. God is waiting patiently day and night and, especially on Wednesday’s from 7 am to 9 pm, for your visit. Do not be afraid to come to Him for He has a present for you; a gift of love and healing given in these words, “Come to me all who are hungry and thirsty, and I will give you rest” or “Come down, for today, I must stay in your house.” (Luke 19: 15)
Fr. Joseph Oganda
“… come down quickly for today I must stay at your house.”
What do you seek in life? What is the purpose of the life you are living now? These are fundamental questions about life that still remain unexplored to the fullest. One wise person, Zacchaeus, was out on an expedition. Moved by an inner thirst to understand better the meaning of his life, he became courageous, creative, and surmounted the mount of his limitation, weakness, by taking a very challenging path; the road that Jesus passes by, a road many people are afraid to set their feet on. Zacchaeus had in his granary all the creams, juices and sweetness that life could offer, but he painfully realized that one important wealth, a person, Jesus, the merciful One, was missing in his collections of “things” or possession in his life. Despite the fact that he was very rich in material possessions, he was still very lonely, experiencing emptiness within his heart. His soul was crying for God’s mercy, longing for reconciliation, for an authentic identity, for acceptance as a child of God, to drink from the healing cup of love. Because of his great need to find his true self, he took a life changing path, a humbling decision to “see Jesus.” He was a wise person, because he realized what many people on earth have failed to see clearly; the perfect meaning of life, the true wealth that brings peace and joy which is Jesus Christ who forgives sins at the altar of the Cross.
Zacchaeus received a gift of a lifetime; he was given more than he had hoped for, and it was like winning a heavenly lottery. All he wanted was so simple, just to see Jesus, and did not expect to hear those uplifting and exalting words: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” He became rich at once simply by responding to the call, the invitation to become little again; humble, and by receiving Jesus in his house, opening the door of his heart which had remained closed for a while for the light of freedom and the warmth of redemption to rush in. Zacchaeus was elated, surprised “and came down quickly and received Him with joy.” Jesus brought salvation, true love, comforting peace in his heart which inspired a joyful cry from his heart in the words of transformation, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor.”
Jesus, looking right in the eyes, in the darken hearts of His disciples and the crowd, exclaim, “Today salvation has come to this house.” This message is for you and me. What is preventing you and me from welcoming Jesus completely in our houses, in our hearts? Jesus saw where Zacchaeus was hiding, afraid and called him to come down, to receive forgiveness, and he grabbed the offer with happiness and joy, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Who do you seek, and where do you look for him? “… come down quickly for today I must stay at your house.” (Luke 19:1-10)
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Last Sunday at the Chicken and Dumpling meal, I saw a multitude of generous souls serving God in the wee hours of the morning and into the late night. How beautiful it is to see the people of God coming together for a common purpose, to build a community of faith where a child of six years could serve at a table, a youth of fourteen could set-up a table, adults could prepare food, seniors could arrange tables and chairs, and where hungry and thirsty hearts could sit at one table and eat as a family, sitting side by side in the company of “strangers” who at the end of a wonderful meal, are transformed into neighbors and friends. On this Sunday and many more days of preparation leading to this memorable day, we became a welcoming community when we allowed our hands to get “dirty” as we cooked food. We became a living gospel as we served at tables offered a smile and talked with our visiting guests who honored us by coming to share a meal with us and support our mission, God’s mission of love and charity to the community of Du Quoin. This was an amazing experience of the spirit of togetherness that shall remain written in the corners of our hearts as a sign of God’s work in our community.
To all parishioners and to our friends who made this day a great success, I say, thank you. We ask Almighty God who exalts the humble in His loving kindness to be merciful to all of us today, and in the coming days. Our sincere prayer and hope, is that, the flame of service that was set ablaze on this Sunday, should not be put off, but should be given a chance to burn constantly in our hearts, within our Church, our homes and in our society as a whole, so that, the face of Christ, the perfect servant, who becomes the true food at the table of mercy and reconciliation may satisfy our hunger and thirst for freedom and justice in the Kingdom of life. For the “Lord hears the cry of the poor” who call on him in prayer, in humility, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” May we seek peace and yearn for joy as we embrace the power of Faith that changes hearts and says, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Question of Faith –
An answer of Love in the Light of Prayer and in the Spirit of Gratitude
For the last three Sundays in a row, one important message from the Scripture has been: Faith, Faith, and Faith. Three Sundays ago we joined our voices with the apostles and cried out to Jesus: “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17: 5-10) It is a clear sign from this prayer that faith is not something static or something which is lifeless. Faith is a school of growth in the ways of love, a journey taken, not in isolation, but in union and in support with the rest of the Christian Family. True faith leads to a change of heart, a transformation of mind, a longing to be the living Christ on earth who is the shining light of peace and justice.
Last Sunday, the music of Faith, the power of gratitude, reconciliation and humility vibrated in the hidden corners of our hearts, propelling us to leap with joy saying, “Now we know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Jesus Christ, the Food and the Breath of Life. The beauty and the goodness of this holy music reached a crescendo on this Sunday of Thanksgiving when we all embraced and mimicked Christ’s words of salvation and freedom: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Go back to your families, society and places of work and there give thanks to God in everything.
Today, in this great heavenly marathon of faith on earth, we see that the victory lies in the termination, persistence, trust in the speed and momentum of the Coach and the Victor, Jesus Christ. “Run to win the race,” drink constantly the water of prayer to protect your body from dehydration, fear. Eat the bread of life to find strength in your heart in time of temptation, pain and suffering. Rest at the feet of Christ, breathing in the air of life, the Word of God. May love be a dear brother, prayer a kind sister, and faith a father and mother who builds the foundation of a family in Him who is faithful to the end; the Way, the Truth and the Life Who asks: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18: 1- 8). Faith is love, and it never fails.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
The Good News: The Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in our Church
Experience has taught us that the best way to know a person better and especially, the one who loves you till death, and the one you love as well, is to spend quality time with them, to share with them your joys and pains and listen to them open the pages of their hearts so that, in this act of heart speaking to heart, what was initially having two different faces, is consumed and consummated, hence, giving birth to Oneness in the likeness of love.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful ritual of Oneness; of love shared as a treasure of freedom in an atmosphere of active silence, radiating the light of peace. It is a golden hour (s) of unique living experience of intimacy, healing and transformation which results to our response to Christ’s tears and agony for our love and time as he says: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew, 26:40-41) Our ultimate purpose on earth, the logic of life, is to be with Christ, to listen to His voice in the Word and in creation and to act on His ways truthfully and faithfully. Concerning the person Jesus Christ, God the Father has this to teach us, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)
Staying at rest at the mountain of the Eucharist, at the font of life, is a very special moment of thanksgiving and worship; a sacrificial date with Christ at the table of mercy, allowing him to kiss the lips of your heart with a gentle love and to embrace your soul with the arms of peace, saying to you the same words He spoke to his disciples who were seeking Him in all things and everywhere: “… you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10: 41-42) As was with Mary, who was seduced, and captured by the power of divine love and friendship, you too can make Christ the joy of your longing heart singing, “Your home is within me.”
The exposed Eucharist is a shining star, a guide to God’s lovers, an open gate to heaven, emitting a living force that wins the hearts of the little ones, the humble, and creates a serene space, a beautiful house, a union of hearts, a medicine to chaotic life, a school of trust, a class of humility and patience, whereby, Christ is the servant of savants, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35)
The blessed Eucharist is the heavenly rose on earth producing the fragrance of freedom and redemption. “Better one day (hour) in Your house (in adoration) than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalms 84:11). Learn to “be still and know that I am the Lord” (Psalms 46:11). Those who find Him in the drama of silence, will see His hidden face more clearly in the mystery of chaos, as one who brings order by the power of light even in the world of darkness and speak into our hearts the words of beauty, “He looked at everything He had made and found it very good.” (Genesis 1: 31) In the end, God rested and made rest holy, a time for hospitality, thanksgiving and love.
Jesus has never stopped calling and inviting us again and again “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51) And with a sincere heart we can speak with Him in trust and openness telling Him our deepest poverty so that He may make us rich in sight, in vision: “Lord, I want to see again, I want to see You.” Jesus who come to meet us as One with us, as One of us is the true rest to the restless hearts, hope to the despairing, health to the sick, way to the lost, light to those who walk in darkness and eternal food to the hungry.
Jesus made a promise to us, “I will be with you always until the end of time.” (Matthew, 28:20) In the act of active love at the feet of the Lord, in Eucharistic adoration, this promise become present and effective to all who spend quality time in prayer with their eyes fixed to Christ alone. “In that prayerful silence, the deep forces that exist in everyone, but which are normally dormant begin to wake up.” In this holy and pure act of worship and prayer, we meet Christ Jesus in an intimate relationship that words cannot describe, but heart can whisper in the rhythm of silence. This is the greatest vacation, a free ride to the city of love, a safe and comfortable flight to the dwelling of the Lord- inside our inner heart where heaven and earth meet in a heartbeat of faith. “Silence reminds us that God’s word capture us; our words do not capture God.”
Please come and claim what is freely yours, your son-ship, and daughter-ship with the Father. As Pope John Pau II puts it, “Our essential commitment in life is to persevere and advance constantly in Eucharistic life and piety and to grow spiritually in the climate of the Holy Eucharist.” Please do not close the door of your heart to Christ who sits at the altar of your family house, Sacred Heart Parish, waiting to be visited by you, to welcome you, to host you, so that he can serve and attend to all your needs in the atmosphere made quiet and peaceful by the light of the Holy Spirit. “O, come all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Good people of Sacred Heart Parish, your kindness and hospitality is not a secret but a shining light that has led many people to say, “This community is a living sign of Jesus Christ for it speaks the language of charity and acts with the mind of mission spirit.
The Society of Our Mother of Peace, our partners in charity, will bring us great blessings of peace through Fr. John Hansen, S.M.P. on October 5th and 6th at the Saturday 5:00 p.m. Mass and Sunday 9 a.m. Mass. Fr. John Hansen will be visiting our parish for MISSION APPEAL. This is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to express our thanksgiving to God for the many blessings He has constantly given us. The perfect praise to God to share our God given gifts with our brothers and sisters who are in need of our love and assistance.
Fr. Hansen will bring us a gift, the story of their love, service, and peace. In preparation to receive this God given gift, let us approach the altar of God on these days with a gift to share with God in the second collection that will go towards strengthening the work of God in mission fields served by S.M.P. community.
Let us gladly welcome Fr. Hansen in our beautiful community, encouraging and thanking him and his community for the wonderful service they are offering to our brothers and sisters to make the ‘Good News of Peace” reach every corner of the world.
May the God of Peace reward you all abundantly for your sincere kindness and hospitality.
Fr. Joseph Oganda
Faith in the Market Place: Thank you Mr. Robert “Bob” Bytnar.
It is very hard to mix business with faith; it is extremely difficult to serve God and money. Six weeks ago, when I moved to Sacred Heart Parish, Du Quoin, I was told by my predecessor Fr. Nick Junker that one of our parishioners Mr. Robert “Bob” Bytnar was going to be honored. Then I asked Fr. Nick: “He is being honored for what?” He said: “For taking his faith into the Marketplace” I remember making a remark like this: “Are you sure he is not serving money in the name of God?” Fr. Nick simply said: “You and I should give him a visit one of these days so that you can see for yourself”
When we visited Mr. Bytnar’s business with Fr. Nick, the first impression, what I saw and what I heard coming from his own lips left a permanent mark within my heart. The walls of his business were covered with Christian messages such as, “God loves you,”, or, “Jesus is Lord,” or “this ice cream brings you love and peace.” From his own lips, came words such as: “God is in this place,” this is not my business, it is God’s, “God is on my side,” “I thank God for allowing me to serve him in this business- He keeps this business alive. It is not about me, it is about Him who is running it from up there” (pointing to heaven). The manner in which he spoke with his customers, beaming with a gentle smile, thanking them for visiting his business place, inviting them to taste the newest ice cream in the shop and in the city. What I saw with my own eyes and I heard with my own ears left me without any doubt that I was no more of two minds, but of one, concerning Mr. Bytnar’s recognition. I realized at that hour, that I was wrong, to have asked: “Are you sure he is not serving money in the name of God?”
Mr. Bytnar does not just mix ice cream and people; he mixes Jesus with men and women who are thirsty. Mr. Bytnar does not serve money in the name of God, no, he serves men and women in the words of peace and in the action of love. Mr. Bytnar has transformed my heart and those who have visited his business, or “God’s business” as he calls it to believe that, yes, you can mix business with faith, yes, you can serve men and women the perfect ice cream that has come from heaven to earth- Jesus, but, if only, you keep your eyes looking to heaven and saying: “It is not about me but about God who is present in this place.” You too can visit his business and find out for yourself. On behalf of Sacred Heart Parish family, Belleville Diocesan family, we say to you Mr. Bytnar, and to your family. THANK YOU!
Dance The Music Of Love
A loving and a very concerned mother shared with me the pain of the wound that is eating the joy of life from her heart. Holding back her tears and saying, “I have five wonderful children; I brought them up in the ways of God. Now they are adults with families. Four of them are very committed in their relationship with God but one of my children is causing me sleepless nights. He does not go to Church. He has abandoned the ways of God and is now walking the path of the world-choosing darkness in exchange of light. With a heart full of burden, she asked me, “what must I do, Father, in order to bring back my son to faith-to love God and long for his goodness, beauty and truth?”
This is a concern for many of us present in this Church today and in this great community. We know of a loved one who has abandoned the Father’s care, love and protection or is choosing the ways of the world. Many a times, we find ourselves confused and ask, “what must I do in order to bring my loved one back to God’s embrace of love?”
Never give up praying for your loved ones, keep the door of hope open and alive. For God never takes away his Spirit from those he loves in Christ. The power and the transforming effect of your faith and love shall shake and destroy the walls of pride rooted deep in their hearts, and they shall “come back to their senses” and run, crying out in a loud voice: “I will rise and go to my Father.” And, together as one family, sons and daughters of a compassionate, faithful and loving Father shall join in the heavenly dance of reconciliation and thanksgiving, leaping for joy and singing the music of love around the table of wealth and peace: “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
Friends, don’t give in to the power of anger. With a pure heart, come into the house full of compassion and forgiveness, “then let us celebrate with a feast…then, the celebration began.”