Pray, Think, and Get Ready!

It is hard to believe, but Lent is just around the corner. Ash Wednesday is February 17th this year. I must admit, I am not quite over Advent and Christmas yet. Things are still in a bit of a blur. Celebrating twenty four Masses in four days will do that to you! Since May and in order to help provide opportunities for more people to come to Mass and confession while keeping social distancing during the pandemic, we added additional Masses and confession times. For most of this time we have had three Masses a day, Monday-Friday. Since Christmas, we...

A Year of Grace and Blessings

Dear Friends in Christ: As you can tell by the green vestments, we are back to “Ordinary Time” at least on the liturgical calendar! When we can get back to ordinary and normal elsewhere in our lives is still unknown and is a cause for us to continue to take to prayer. Because of the holidays and everything else, I have had to write my bulletin letters far in advance. This letter is being written more than a week before you will read it. There is a lot happening and things seem to change by the day. In some of my...

Not Yet a Registered Parishioner?

Dear Friends in Christ, Are you registered as a parishioner in the parish? This is an important question. In some parts of the world, parish registration is not a common practice. Here in the United States and especially here in Houston it is very important. Many Catholics remember when it was unheard of that a Catholic would venture outside their territorial parish, be it their village church or the parish that served the neighborhood. In many places it remains this way. Every parish and diocese has a territory and boundaries unless it is a personal or national entity. For example, here...

A New “New Normal”

Dear Friends in Christ: A Holy Christmas, Joyous Epiphany and Happy New Year!  May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bless you and all your loved ones!  May the love of Jesus shine in your homes throughout this New Year! A year ago on the Feast of the Epiphany, we blessed pieces of chalk for parishioners to take home and mark the doors of their homes.  With the ‘chalking of the doors’, we prayed that Christ, our Lord would bless our homes in 2020.  Little did we know how much we would be needing those blessings.  We prayed and...

We Need Jesus in our Lives

Dear Friends in Christ: In preparing for this letter, I looked up last year’s Christmas letter which began, “Our hearts are filled with joy this day and all creation exalts in praise, for Salvation has come to the world in Jesus Christ!  This is our faith and this is what gives meaning to our lives.”  I am not so certain that is the case for everyone this Christmas.  Indeed 2020 and COVID-19 have cast a pall over our lives.  This has been a year unlike any other year for most of us.  This has been a year of death, illness, fear,...

God is Truly with Us

Dear Friends in Christ, We have now reached the Fourth Week of Advent. With December 17, our liturgical focus has shifted.  In these last days before Christmas, we have turned our focus and our attention from the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time to His First Coming into the world by His incarnation and birth.  This year more than most, we probably need to remind ourselves of the joy that the birth of our Savior brings to the world.  2020 has been a year of many hardships and struggles, but none of them can erase or deprive us...

In All Circumstances Give Thanks…

Dear Friends in Christ, “Rejoice always!  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”  ~1 Thes 5:16 This is a tall order even in the best of times, but even more so in challenging times.  Yet, it remains the will of God for us to Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks.  These are not just simple admonitions or cute Hallmark greeting card bon mots, they are life-changing and life-giving instructions of God’s Holy Word as given by St. Paul.  Each of these actions individually and collectively are ingredients for our holiness...

A Joyful Tradition

Dear Friends in Christ: Next Sunday we will again have our annual Gift Giving Sunday! I have to admit that from the time I was assigned here to St. John Vianney parish as a seminarian in the ‘70s and ‘80s there was a little part of me that cringed at this tradition. It has been funny to see the same reaction among the young assistants over the years. Liturgical idealism is a bi-product of seminary training! The issue is that Gaudete Sunday (Rejoice Sunday) is such a wonderful and beautiful liturgical feast and we supplant it by our own local custom...

Let this Be the Best Advent Season

Dear Friends in Christ: Today we begin a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. As we do annually, we place our attention during the first three weeks of Advent (Latin – adventus – coming) on the coming of our Lord Jesus in glory at the end of time. This we refer to as the Second Coming of Christ. In the New Testament the word used to describe the Second Coming is Parousia (Greek – arrival). In the ancient world when an official (king, emperor, ruler or general) would visit a locale, heralds were dispatched ahead of time to...

Jesus is our Lord and King!

Dear Friends in Christ: This weekend we come to the Feast of Christ the King and the close of the liturgical year. What a year it has been! Soon we will be changing with our secular calendar to a new year on January 1. Most, if not all of us, will be glad to put 2020 behind us. Without a doubt, 2020 has presented us with pains and struggles in abundance but there is more to this year than that. Today’s Feast reminds us that even in the midst of struggle and pain there is cause for rejoicing. And what is...