Thursday, 3 September 2020
Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial: St Gregory the Great
In a recent webinar with the Diocese of Phoenix, and with clarification just received, it has been communicated that parishes within the Diocese of Phoenix will be moved out of Phase I of the “re-opening” plan to a modified Phase II. Please note that Phase II does not impact the Mass (all protocols remain in place as during Phase I, including a request to register for Mass attendance) but does allow for additional people to be present on campus, increasing from 10 up to a maximum of 50 people using other areas of the campus. Beginning 7 September 2020, this phase will go into effect with some restrictions (see attached document). Each parish is allowed to determine its policies and procedures within the guidelines set by the Diocese – as well as the parish’s readiness – for this expanded allowance.
At Blessed Sacrament, we have been able to continue to function prior to and throughout Phase I due in no small part to the extra effort of the staff, volunteers, and parishioners alike. We have maintained a full Mass schedule when most other parishes are limited or still not “open” and our office staff has continued to work very hard to provide our parishioners and visitors the opportunity to worship our Lord both at Mass and in the Adoration Chapel, which has remained open throughout the health emergency, reduced staffing, reduced hours and furloughs, and necessary budget cuts. I’m sure you join me in thanking God for these wonderful, faithful, and dedicated people who have given of time and talent for our parish, as well as to the many generous benefactors that have continued to support the parish financially.
Given that this new phase was just announced, and that the September schedule for the parish was planned in July with no advance notice of any plan to expand the accommodation, Blessed Sacrament will not be able to accommodate the 7 September start date for Phase II as staff members and clergy will be taking some much deserved holiday time throughout September. Given our already reduced staffing, it is reasonable for us to plan for implementation of this part of Phase II beginning 1 October 2020. This means that groups, committees, activities, devotional events, and other gatherings will be able to use and/or schedule campus space commencing on or after 1 October 2020 under certain circumstances. Please review the attached document for more information.
With regard to devotional events such as the Rosary, First Friday/First Saturday, and Benediction, please note the following conditions:
Since these events occur within the church building, please follow the guidelines noted on the attached document for “Events Within The Church.”
The First Friday/First Saturday devotions may resume on 2/3 October.
The resumption of the Tuesday night Benediction date has not been set due to several considerations, including lack of clergy availability through September and October; when this event resumes, an announcement will be made.
While these policies and procedures may not be to everyone’s liking, this is what can be offered at this time and your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated. All of us can view this step positively as it brings us ever closer to the restoration of our faith life involving the parish.
As noted above, we have been able to go above and beyond the “average” throughout this difficult time and will continue to make realistic progress toward the day when all restrictions are lifted. Let us pray that that day comes soon.
May God continue to bless us all and keep us holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Phase II Guidelines.pdf

Reflection on Today’s Readings
1 Corinthians 3:18-23; Psalm 24; Luke 5:1-11
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”
(Luke 5:5)
Most of us will have tasted the experience of failure in one shape or form; I know I have. We may have failed to live up to the values and the goals that we had set ourselves; some enterprise or initiative that we had invested in may have come to nothing; some relationship that was important to us may have slipped away. Perhaps it is our sinfulness that we read as failure. All such experiences can leave us feeling disheartened and maybe feeling unworthy or even depressed.
Such an experience of failure is to be found in this morning’s Gospel reading. We can hear the note of failure in the words of Simon Peter to Jesus, “We worked hard all night long and caught nothing,” as well as in Simon Peter’s later words to Jesus, “Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” Yet, the Gospel reading proclaims loudly that failure does not need to have the last word – indeed it is not – because the Lord is stronger than any of our failures and can actually work powerfully through them. The Lord transformed the fruitless night’s labour of the disciples into an abundant catch of fish, and He insisted that the sinful Simon Peter would share in his own work of drawing people into the “nets” of God’s kingdom.
The Lord is constantly at work in all kinds of seemingly unpromising situations, drawing new life out of loss and failure. Yet, for this to happen, the Lord needs us not to give in to discouragement but to keep “putting out into deep water” in response to His faithful word.

Prayer
Dear Jesus, You are my passport to greater things than I could ever imagine. You take my failures and let me learn from them. You take my sins away through the Sacrament of Confession and give me love and mercy so that I can better resist temptation in the future. I know I can trust in You, and You alone, and ask that you remain at my side never letting me be shaken by my failures or the sinfulness of this world. Help me to learn to share my trust in You with others so that You may be known to all.
Amen.

54 Day Novena for our Nation
Link: https://dphx.org/event/join-bishop-olmsted-in-praying-a-54-day-rosary-novena-for-our-nation/
Day 5: Today’s Intention: #5:
For the strengthening of all families, in particular that Catholic families live more deeply their call to be the “domestic church”.
Day 6: Friday’s Intention: #6:
For the virtues of mercy and forgiveness to be demonstrated by our leaders and especially those who pray the Our Father.
Day 7: Saturday’s Intention: #7:
For an end to unjust discrimination and the healing of racial divisions and all other divisiveness unworthy of a sovereign nation.
Day 8: Sunday’s Intention: #8:
For the vulnerable among us, especially pre-born children, elderly, immigrants, unemployed and the poor.
Wednesday, 2 September 2020
Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Not long ago, a friend of mine said that he was working with other Christian churches in Aotearoa New Zealand on a project called “The Blessing.” It is a YouTube event in which choirs sing a selected piece of music (most often a psalm) and it is edited together to make a stunning musical and video prayer moment. There are quite a few of these on YouTube: “The Blessing” from Australia, “The Blessing” from Hawaii, etc. “The Blessing” from Aotearoa New Zealand was posted on YouTube on 20 August 2020 and I have provided the link for you below. It’s only eight minutes long and not only is the music/singing great, but so is the cinematography; turn up the volume and listen and pray along with the many choirs and singers from “The Land of the Long White Cloud” (Aotearoa).
Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZQPifs2kjo&feature=youtu.be
Please note: Unless you have an “ad blocker” on your computer, you may experience some ads before and during the video – they are not part of the video, nor are they endorsed by me, the parish, or the Church. Usually you can click “Skip Ad” to get through it. Don’t let these interruptions deter your listening and watching this prayerful and amazing video.

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Psalm 33; Luke 4:38-44
“But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.”
(Luke 4:43)
One busy day I had a bunch of decisions to make, and while I might like to flatter myself in thinking that I could make the right decisions, I realized that I couldn’t count on that and decided to offer the choices to Lord and ask Him for His decision. So I went off to the church and sat there for a bit in prayer. It wasn’t long before a well-meaning person from the office came into the church looking for me and said, “Oh, Father, I’m glad I found you and you’re not busy…”
The Gospel reading suggests that there was a very definite rhythm to the life of Jesus – a rhythm of work and prayer. At sunset, according to the reading, Jesus was still working as people were bringing their sick friends to Simon Peter’s house in Capernaum, where Jesus was “based” at the time. Then at daylight He left Simon’s house and went to a lonely place to pray. The Gospel reading suggests that whereas the crowds were delighted with Jesus as a healer of the sick, they were less impressed with him as a person of prayer. When He went off to pray, they went off looking for him, with a view to bringing him back to Capernaum where he could continue his healing work. But unlike the people of Capernaum, Jesus placed as much of a value on prayer as on His work.
Perhaps our own age is not all that different. Prayer is not always seen as a good use of time, especially when there is so much work to be done. Yet, prayer helped Jesus to keep his focus on His Father’s mission for Him. Even though the people of Capernaum wanted Jesus to stay with them, His prayer helped him to discern this was not what God wanted of him; he seems to have emerged from his prayer very clear that he must move on to preach the Gospel in other towns. Our own focus on the Lord in prayer can help us as well in discerning the Lord’s will for our lives. The prayer we offer doesn’t have to be a litany of formulaic prayers – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but it can also be simply asking Him for guidance in a particular situation and discerning His will, or maybe just sitting with Him in the Adoration Chapel, looking at Him and letting Him look back. Our prayer can give us the strength to take the path the Lord wills us to take, even though it may not always be what others want from us.

Prayer
Dear Jesus, sometimes I have difficulty knowing where I am going let alone staying on the path that You have for me. The more I contemplate on myself, the more I understand that I really don’t know myself. I desire to please You, and my desire to do so does please You. I offer to You this prayer that though I may be lost at times, I will not fear for You are ever with me and will never leave me to face my perils alone.
And for that I thank You.
Amen.

54 Day Novena for our Nation – Day 4
Link: https://dphx.org/event/join-bishop-olmsted-in-praying-a-54-day-rosary-novena-for-our-nation/
Today’s Intention: #4:
For the rejection of all forms of collectivism (CCC 1885), whether Marxist or born of another false ideology, and the cultivation of true patriotism, based on love for what is best in our country, solidarity with those in need and subsidiarity for those smaller stations of governance such as the family.
Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Twenty-Second Week of Ordinary Time
Kia Ora! Nau mai ki Mahuru!
(Hello. Welcome to September!)
I apologize for not getting an Update out yesterday – as the first week (and especially the first Monday) of the month is always manic, the time just got away from me so by 9.00 pm, my body was tired and mind vacant. I do apologize.
As was announced on Sunday at Mass and in various communication avenues over the past few days, Bishop Olmsted has asked the Catholics of the Diocese of Phoenix to engage in praying the 54-Day Novena for Our Country, and I hope that you have been able to participate in this special devotion to help see and protect our country through a very difficult and important time in our history. As I wrote in July, we have been through many difficult times, and will face more in the future, but we have been blessed as a country with so many gifts and talented people of all races and creeds that is the beautiful tapestry of life. Let us continue to pray to our Blessed Mother, who is the patroness of our land (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) for the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of holiness, which is true happiness, as well as the spiritual health and well-being of every person “on shore” or living abroad who calls the United States home.
To help foster this novena, I will include the link to the Diocesan website for the Novena, as well as the day’s intention at the bottom of each update for your reference.
Interestingly enough, Our Lady of the Assumption is the patroness of Aotearoa New Zealand. I did pass on this 54-Day Novena to them as well – Aotearoa New Zealand is also facing some difficult choices in their upcoming election that mirror those of the United States, so the Blessed Mother has her work cut out for her!

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Corinthians 2:10-16; Psalm 145; Luke 4:31-37
“They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is there about his word?'”
(Luke 4:36)
I really didn’t understand what my mum meant when she would say to me, “What has gotten into you?” Usually this statement followed some opprobrious conduct that, in all honesty, didn’t seem so bad to me at the time. But to her, it must have been out of character and certainly not what she wanted of her son.
There are times in all our lives when our spirit is disturbed. We are not ourselves. We find ourselves distressed and it can cause us to respond to people in ways that we normally would not; perhaps a sharpness in our tone or an anger in our voice seemingly come from nowhere. We might look back on those moments and wonder “what got into us.”
In the Gospel reading, we witness an extreme case of this phenomenon. In the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus encounters a very disturbed person who shouted at Jesus in a very aggressive way: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” the person says. Luke relates that this man was possessed by an unclean spirit. The suggestion is that the spirit which had taken hold of him was not the Spirit of God but that it was a spirit that was opposed to God – a demon. Whatever it was, it was not the Spirit that Paul speaks about in the first reading, the Spirit that comes from God who alone knows the depths of God. Jesus released this man of the spirit that was destructive to him and to others. Jesus restored him to God and to himself.
There are times when we too need to be released from some spirit that has “gotten into us” and holds us back from being or becoming the person God is calling us to be. It may not be a demon such as the one the man in the Gospel had, but a bit of an “obtuse spirit” may be within us at any moment. The same Lord who was in the synagogue on that Sabbath stands among us today to deliver us from the “obtuse spirits” that sometimes diminish us as well as others with whom we come into contact. The good Lord continues to offer us the Holy Spirit, so that our lives can bear God’s fruit more fully. We need to stand ready to keep receiving this gift of the Spirit that comes from God.

Prayer
Lord Jesus, at times when there is anger in my heart and I cannot root it out I know that I should calm down and offer the hurt and disappointment to You to take it away as you did when you were on the Cross.

Even though my emotion can run away with me in these times, let me learn from the experience and grow to be the loving person You created me to be. Help me to overcome this weakness and give me peace of heart as well as mind, and the strength to call on You when I am in trouble.
Amen.

54-Day Novena for our Nation – Day 3
Link: https://dphx.org/event/join-bishop-olmsted-in-praying-a-54-day-rosary-novena-for-our-nation/
Today’s Intention: #3:
For the political parties of our nation to be led by the common good, and to agree on the fundamentals of any nation with a future: protection of human life at all stages, recognition of the dignity of every human person precisely because he or she is made in the image of God, upholding of marriage as the fundamental building block of society, and protection of free speech, freedom of religion, and all other attendant freedoms which help build a virtuous and generous citizenry.
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial: St Monica
It seems that everyone is talking about “the New Normal.” To be honest, it’s a term that has no specific definition because “normal” is elusive and can be defined differently for each one of us. However, there is a “new normal” that we have been living in and I’m not talking about this whole Covid mess. So, what is that “new normal”? Well, to find out, you’ll have to read a wonderful summary written by our very own Dr Larry Fraher that I have attached below. This one page writing by Dr Larry will also appear in this week’s newsletter as well as on our website. We are certainly blessed to have Dr Larry on our staff and I look forward to more of his writings.
Last night, the Diocese of Phoenix sent an invitation to us to join Bishop Olmsted in praying a novena for our nation to the Blessed Mother. It is a 54-day novena and yes, that seems like a long time, but given the severity of the many issues our great nation is facing, it is not that big of an ask. And the novena is easy – if you already pray the Rosary, then a big part of the novena is done. Bishop Olmsted has given us a rotation of nine special intentions to ask of the Blessed Mother for the novena, and to do so on a rotating basis for the 54 days. Below, I have attached a link to the Diocesan website that goes directly to the Novena page.
Please join me in praying this Novena during these 54 days. Our Lady certainly has her Son’s ear and she will be listening to our plea.
God’s blessings to you and your family and friends.
Fr Bryan
Dr Larry Fraher’s Document:
New Normal.pdf

54 Day Novena Link:
https://dphx.org/rosary-novena/

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Psalm 145; Matthew 24:42-51
Readings for Memorial: Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16; Psalm 131; Luke 7:11-17
This reflection is based on the readings for the day.
“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
(Matthew 24:44)
Real life rescues are quite dramatic. I recall the rescue by the U.S. Navy Seals of the captain of a cargo ship that was seized in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates.
It was quite dramatic – even made into a book and a movie.
Another real life rescue is part of “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” That rescue was Jesus’ first coming – he was sent by the eternal Father in heaven to save us from the tyranny of sin – from Satan and death. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and His triumphant victory over the grave won pardon for us and also reconciliation with our heavenly Father. It gave us the possibility and promise of attaining everlasting life and joy in His kingdom.
The Lord Jesus told his disciples on a number of occasions that He would return again at the end of this present age – not simply to rescue us from our Enemy, but as a victor-King and Lord who will vindicate all who have believed in him. He will release us from the curse of death and condemnation and restore for us the plan He had from the beginning of creation: a new heaven and a new earth for a people perfectly united with God in peace, joy, and harmony forever.
This is the background to Jesus’ parable about the householder and the thief who comes in the night. When the Lord Jesus returns, He doesn’t want to find us flirting with the enemy – or worse, joining forces with those who are opposed to God and His kingdom. The parable highlights the necessity for watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially that which is done in darkness and secrecy. We know that no thief is going to announce his intention in advance, but lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for anyone unprepared. Our adversary the Devil seeks to rob us of the treasure that the Lord freely offers us. That treasure is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus himself. Scripture reminds us that there is no greater treasure on earth or in heaven than the Lord himself. The Lord Jesus chooses to come and dwell in our hearts. It is He who knocks at the door of our heart and invites us to let him enter.

Prayer
Dear Lord, make me prudent in all that I do and courageous in dangers, patient in my afflictions and humble in prosperity. Grant that I may be attentive to my prayer life, temperate in my needs, diligent in my work, and constant in my resolutions.
Let my conscience be upright and pure, modest in appearance and dress, and steady in my conduct so as to not cause scandal.
Help me to overcome my human nature and desire so that it corresponds with Your grace so that I can keep Your commandments and work out my salvation so that I may be with You forever and ever.
Amen.
Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Our Lady of Czestochowa
One of my parishes in New Zealand was St Brigid’s in the rural community of Pahiatua (a Maori word that translates to “place of God”). Outside of the town is a monument (photo below) that commemorates a chapter in New Zealand history of welcoming over 700 Polish refugee orphans who, after WWII, were shipped from their homeland to Siberia and Iraq and eventually made their way to New Zealand at the behest of then Bishop Kavanagh. Bishop Kavanagh was the force behind not only bringing these children to New Zealand, but also the building of the refugee center (photo below) and also instrumental in the fostering of these children by local families and the eventual adoption around the country.
In St Brigid’s Catholic Church in Pahiatua hangs a beautiful icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa (known as the “Black Madonna”) that was gifted several years ago to the parish by the surviving orphans in recognition for the love and care that they found in that community, and especially for offering them a place where they could celebrate their Catholic faith so far from their beloved homeland. I was fortunate to be there as parish administrator for the 70th Anniversary when the whole town turned out to welcome the surviving former refugees when we had a special welcome and celebration, including the children of St Anthony’s School who lined the streets waving Polish and New Zealand flags. Several bus loads of the actual children and their children and grandchildren visited the parish and the town, and many shared memories of this period of history. The Polish Ambassador to the South Pacific and his lovely wife visited as well, and being devout Catholics themselves, asked me to bless the special square that was built in the town to commemorate the recognition and appreciation of the current Polish government “for the care of our children after the most difficult chapter in our nation’s history.”
I have attached some pictures for your review as well as a link to a RNZ (New Zealand’s public broadcasting network) about this story, but of course since it is secular media so there isn’t much about the Catholic Church’s instigation and involvement, but the stories are wonderful and a reminder of what we are capable of when we care for our brothers and sisters.
Fr Bryan

Photo: Refugee Camp, Pahiatua, Aotearoa New Zealand
Today, only crumbling remains of the foundation of the store house (background far right) remain on what is now farmland. Notice the school uniforms – still in use at St Anthony’s in Pahiatua to this day.
For a brief newspaper article and audio presentation regarding this story, click on this link:
https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/voices/audio/2018721994/the-polish-children-of-pahiatua
Statue: “Mother and Child”
The trees in the background of this photo are the trees in the background of the camp shown above.
When the sun shines and casts a shadow (around 1.00p), the shadow of the statue is an image of a mother holding her infant child. The inspiration was said to be the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Icon: Our Lady of Czestochowa
Information about Our Lady of Czestachowa:
http://saintsresource.com/our-lady-czestochowa

Reflection on Today’s Scripture

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18; Psalm 128; Matthew 23:27-32
“You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.”
(Matthew 23:27)
I’m always amazed at how much space is given over to personal care products in stores. Walmart and Target have several aisles dedicated to such products and this is, of course, a function of demand from the consumers. It’s an indicator of where our society places significant importance. Yes, personal care is important, after all our bodies are a temple in which the Spirit dwells and we should rightfully care for it.
But there is, of course, the disordered care for the exterior at the expense of the interior. In the Gospel reading, Jesus highlights the importance of what is within rather than what is without. How people are within themselves rather than how they appear to others is what matters. Consider that Jesus himself appeared at his most unattractive as He hung dying from the cross. Yet, that was the moment when the love that was within Him was at its most intense. The poor widow who put two copper coins into the Temple treasury looked an insignificant figure contributing an insignificant amount of money. Yet Jesus saw through the unexceptional appearance of this woman to the generous heart within, a heart like His own, and he called over his disciples so that they could learn from her.
Yes, we all know that appearances can be deceptive. In the case of the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel reading there was less to them than met the eye. In the case of the widow and Christ crucified, there was much more than met the eye. The Gospel reading this morning encourages us not to work so much on our appearances as on what is within, the quality of the love in our heart. The generous and loving heart will always be more attractive than perfect hair and teeth.

Prayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa
Holy Mother of Czestochowa, Thou art full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrate to Thee all my thoughts, words and actions, my soul and body. I beseech Thy blessings and especially prayers for my salvation. Today, I consecrate myself to Thee, Good Mother, totally with body and soul amid joy and sufferings to obtain for myself and others Thy blessings on this earth and eternal life in Heaven.
Amen.
Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Twenty First Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: St Louis
Optional Memorial: St Joseph of Calasanz
Liturgical Vestments (Part II)
As noted in yesterday’s column, there are certain vestments that an ordained ministers wears for the celebration of the Mass, and while vesting, there are some prayers that the priest may pray. Listed below are the names and “meanings” of the vestments along with the beautiful prayers. I’ve included the Latin for any scholars out there…
Washing Hands
At the beginning of his vesting the priest washes his hands, reciting an appropriate prayer; beyond the practical hygienic purpose, this act has a profound symbolism inasmuch as it signifies passage from the profane to the sacred, from the world of sin to the pure sanctuary of the Most High. The prayer hints at this spiritual dimension.

Prayer
“Give virtue to my hands, O Lord, that being cleansed from all stain I might serve you with purity of mind and body.”
(“Da, Domine, virtutem manibus meis ad abstergendam omnem maculam; ut sine pollutione mentis et corporis valeam tibi servire.”)
Amice
The priest begins with the amice, a rectangular linen cloth, which has two strings and is placed over the shoulders and around the neck and tucked into the shirt collar; the strings are then tied about the waist. The amice has the purpose of covering the everyday clothing, even if it is the priest’s clerical garb.
With the reference to St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (6:17), the amice is understood as “the helmet of salvation,” that must protect him who wears it from the demon’s temptations, especially evil thoughts and desires, during the liturgical celebration. The Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans have an altered donning of the amice that includes a pause of the garment on the head before being placed on the shoulder to symbolize the helmet.

Prayer
“Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”
(“Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus”.)
Alb
The alb is the long white garment worn by the ministers, which recalls the new and immaculate clothing that every Christian has received through baptism. The alb is, therefore, a symbol of the sanctifying grace received in the first sacrament and is also considered to be a symbol of the purity of heart that is necessary to enter into the joy of the eternal vision of God in heaven (cf. Matthew 5:8).
The prayer said is a reference to Revelation 7:14.

Prayer
“Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward.”
(“Dealba me, Domine, et munda cor meum; ut, in sanguine Agni dealbatus, gaudiis perfruar sempiternis”).
Cincture
Over the alb and around the waist is placed cincture, a cord made of wool or other suitable material that is used as a belt. All who wear albs must also wear the cincture, a custom that may not be followed today, however. The cincture may be of different colors according to the liturgical season or the memorial of the day. In the symbolism of the liturgical vestments the cincture represents the virtue of self-mastery, which St. Paul also counts among the fruits of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22). The corresponding prayer takes its cue from the first Letter of Peter (1:13).

Prayer
“Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me.”
(“Praecinge me, Domine, cingulo puritatis, et exstingue in lumbis meis humorem libidinis; ut maneat in me virtus continentiae et castitatis”).
Stole
The stole is the distinctive element of the attire of the ordained minister and it is always worn in the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals. It is a strip of material that is embroidered, according to the norm, whose color varies with respect to the liturgical season or feast day. Since the stole is an article of enormous importance, which, more than any other garment, indicates the state of ordained office, there is a different style for the deacon (over the left shoulder, drapes to and tied at the right) and priest (over the shoulders and around the neck, draping to both sides).

Prayer
“Lord, restore the stole of immortality, which I lost through the collusion of our first parents, and, unworthy as I am to approach Thy sacred mysteries, may I yet gain eternal joy.”
(“Redde mihi, Domine, stolam immortalitatis, quam perdidi in praevaricatione primi parentis; et, quamvis indignus accedo ad tuum sacrum mysterium, merear tamen gaudium sempiternum”.)
Chasuble
Finally, the chasuble is put on, the vestment proper to him who celebrates the Holy Mass (priest only; a deacon may wear a similar garment called a dalmatic); older terms for the chasuble are casuala or planeta.
The prayer for the donning of the chasuble references the exhortation in the Letter to the Colossians (3:14): “Above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfection.”

Prayer
“O Lord, who has said, “My yoke is sweet and My burden light,” grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace. Amen.”
(“Domine, qui dixisti: Iugum meum suave est, et onus meum leve: fac, ut istud portare sic valeam, quod consequar tuam gratiam. Amen”.)
While it is possible to use different prayers, or simply to lift one’s mind up to God, the texts of the vesting prayers are brief, precise in their language, inspired by a biblical spirituality and have been prayed for centuries by countless sacred ministers. These prayers thus recommend themselves still today for the preparation for the liturgical celebration, even for the liturgy according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 14-17; Psalm 96; Matthew 23:23-26
“Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”
(Matthew 23:26)
In the Old Testament, the prophet Micah provides a verse to which many people feel drawn: “What is it that the Lord requires of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). To do justice is to give people what is their due as human beings and as images of God. To love mercy is to show mercy to others in the sense of forgiving others and serving them in their need. To walk humbly with your God is to be open in faith to God’s purpose and desire for our lives.
These three basic attitudes are a summary of God’s will for our lives. It is possible that the above verse from the prophet Micah lies behind what Jesus calls in today’s Gospel reading “the weightier matters” of the law: “justice, mercy and fidelity (good faith).” Jesus was accusing the religious experts of his day of being too preoccupied with the less important requirements of the Jewish Law, such as what produce should be tithed (“mint and dill and cumin”) and cleansing “the outside of cup and dish”.
That lawful triad of justice, mercy and faith remains a very succinct statement of what the Lord desires from us in our own day. In a sense, those three elements correspond to the two great commandments that Jesus proclaimed: the first commandment to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength corresponds to faith, and the second commandment, to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31), corresponds to justice and mercy. These remain the “weightier matters” of our own Christian tradition.

Prayer
Lord, I know that I don’t always give others what you ask of me – that I treat others with the same respect, justice, and mercy that You give me. I pray that as each day dawns, I may, through the power of the indwelling of the Spirit within me, love you and my neighbour as You command.
Amen.
Monday, 24 August 2020
Twenty First Week of Ordinary Time
Feast: St Bartholomew
In continuing a look at some Church traditions, today I though I would present a brief discussion on the liturgical vestments worn by clergy at Mass as well as the quick look at clergy apparel.
Liturgical Vestments (Part I)
The vestments used by the ministers in liturgical celebrations derive from ancient Greek and Roman secular clothing. In the first centuries the garments of persons of a certain social level (the “honestiores,” or persons of rank with property) was adopted for the Christian liturgy and this practice was maintained in the Church, even after the peace of Constantine. Such clothing was most mostly reserved for liturgical use. The liturgical vestments were distinguished from secular clothing, not by their particular form but by the quality of the material and their special decorum. The Church kept, without essential alteration, the vestments used by the clergy in public worship; in this way the secular use of clothing was distinguished from the liturgical use. Finally, in the 8th century, the vestments proper to the various degrees of the sacrament of orders, with a few exceptions, took on their definitive form, which they retain to this day.
Beyond the historical circumstances, the sacred vestments had an important function in the liturgical celebrations. The fact that they are not worn in ordinary life gives them a “liturgical” character and helps the clergy to be detached from the concerns of the everyday and refocuses the celebrant on the celebration of divine worship. Furthermore, the ample form of the vestments – for example the alb, the dalmatic and the chasuble – put the individuality of the one who wears them in second place in order to emphasize his liturgical role. In a sense, it is the “camouflaging” of the minister’s body and ordinary clothing by the vestments “depersonalizes” him in a way and that this healthy depersonalization de-centers the celebrating minister and recognizes the true “Character” of the drama of the liturgical action: Christ. The form of the vestments, therefore, says that the liturgy is celebrated “in persona Christi” and not in the priest’s own name. He who performs a liturgical function does not do so as a private person, but as a minister of the Church and an instrument in the hands of Jesus Christ.
The sacred character of the vestments also has to do with their being donned according to what is prescribed in the Roman Ritual. In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the so-called Mass of Pius V, or the “Latin Mass”), the putting on of the liturgical vestments is accompanied by prayers for each garment, prayers whose text one still finds in many sacristies. Even if these prayers are no longer obligatory (but neither are they prohibited!) by the Missal of the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI, their use is recommended since they help in the priest’s prayerful preparation and recollection before the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. This is on reason many priests and deacons seek a “quiet time” before Mass as they vest in the sacristy – it’s not to be unapproachable or distant to the sacristans or the faithful, but because they are prayerfully praying in preparation for the Sacrifice of the Mass. As a confirmation of the utility of these vesting prayers it must be noted that they are included in the “Compendium Eucharisticum,” recently published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Moreover it is useful to recall that Pius XII, with the decree of Jan. 14, 1940, assigned an indulgence of 100 days for the individual prayers.
So, there is a bit of the history and understanding of the vestments used by the priest and deacon for liturgical celebrations. So as to not elongate this column on any one day, I’ll continue with further discussion in the coming days.
Hope you’re well, and keeping safe and holy.
“Pa” Bryan
Reflection of Today’s Scripture
Revelation 21:9-14; Psalm 145; John 1:45-51
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
(John 1:49)
As with many residents of cities, there is a sometimes healthy or unhealthy rivalry between them – Phoenix and Tucson have a bit of that (especially surrounding their respective universities) and it was no different in Aotearoa New Zealand. Expect this island nation aligned itself more around Auckland versus the rest of the country! Over half of the nation’s population lives in it’s largest city (Auckland) and it had a reputation amongst the citizenry of the “outsiders” – Aucklanders are seen as snobby elitists while the Aucklanders termed everyone else as “bogans” – a derogatory term for the “underclass.” Of course there was a derogatory term for Aucklanders, too, and I won’t mention it here as it contains some rather colourful language to say the least.
In today’s Gospel, when Philip tries to share with Nathanael* his emerging faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, Nathanael initially dismisses Jesus out of hand on the basis of where Jesus was born. However, when Philip persists, Nathanael goes with Philip to meet Jesus and when Jesus addresses Nathanael as a person incapable of deceit, Nathanael makes a great confession of faith in Jesus: “You are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus reminds Nathanael that he is not yet at the end of his faith journey and that he has only just begun to “see” what is in store for him: “You will see greater things” Jesus tells him. Yet we sense that Nathanael, having traveled so far in such a short time, will continue to make progress.
Nathanael is an encouragement to us all that change for the better is always possible. We all have the potential to grow in our relationship with the Lord and to allow him to shape our lives ever more fully. Nathanael would not have made the progress he did without the initiative that the Lord took towards him, initially through the person of Philip, and then in a more direct and personal way. The Lord continues to take the same initiative towards us; he continues to call us into a deeper relationship with himself. He never gives up on us. All He asks is that we have that same openness to respond to the Lord’s initiative towards us that Nathanael had. If we have that openness, then like Nathanael, we too will change for the better, and we will begin to see greater things.
* Bartholomew, who is only mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, is often identified with the name Nathanael, who only features in the Gospel of John.

Prayer
O God, prepare my heart for at times it is hard for me to trust in your will. Grant me clarity of vision that I may see Your way and all of Your wonders of heaven and earth, and enlighten the darkness of my soul that can overtake my love for You and for others. Open my ears that I may hear your words of direction, correction, comfort and consolation. Place your hand on my shoulder that I may feel your guidance. Grant me wisdom as I ask for your help with problem areas in my life for You are a generous and loving God.
Like your daughter Mary, help me to know and do Your holy will in this life and the next.
I ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Thursday, 20 August 2020
Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial: St Bernard
If you’ve visited our courtyard of late, you may have noticed that the beautiful ficus trees have gone from their deep green to dry brown and they are beginning to shed their parched foliole.
Panic not, though. Our “tree doctor” has indicated that this is not an isolated event resulting from the drought of the “non-soon,” the extended hot temperatures, and the heat generated by the “heat island” that is our courtyard (all tile, surrounded by high solid block walls).
We have instituted a recovery plan – and continue to pray for rain! – that will hopefully help these beautiful trees to re-leaf and return to their former glory.
Our maintenance team works hard to keep our campus “spruced up” and do a fine job – sometimes nature has a way of thwarting efforts – but as is God’s grand design, it will all return to His glory.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 36:23-28; Psalm 51; Matthew 21:1-14
Memorial: Sirach 15:1-6; Psalm 119; John 17:20-26
“Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
(Matthew 21:14)
In this morning’s parable Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God as a wedding feast to which people are invited. A wedding feast is a frequent image of the kingdom of God in the Gospels. It is an image which suggests God’s gracious and generous hospitality toward the invited guests.
The Eucharist can be understood as an anticipation of the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. At the Eucharist, we not only look back to the Last Supper but we also look forward to the banquet of eternal life. At the Last Supper Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).
The symbology of the parable in Gospel reading today is quite apparent. In the parable, many of those who had been invited to the wedding banquet and who had already agreed to come turned down the invitation at the last minute, just when everything was ready. This would certainly symbolize our world: many have been prepared (invited) to participate in the Holy Mass through catechetical programs and sacramental preparation to receive the Eucharist but have, for some reason, chosen not to stay away from the Banquet. In the parable, those who came to the feast and were not properly dressed and thrown out symbolize those who have received the sacramental preparation yet do not properly prepare themselves for the Eucharist (through Christian words and actions, prayer and the Sacrament of Penance). Of course in this time of dispensation from the Holy Mass, we recognize that the invitation is there…waiting for the time when all feel comfortable enough to act on that invitation from the Lord.
God invites and He persistently invites, even after many continued refusals. Yet, it is up to us to respond to His invitation and grace. Our presence at the Eucharist is a sign that we are responding to the Lord’s invitation, yet, we have to keep clothing ourselves in the right way, clothing ourselves with Christ, as Paul says.
An invitation is given, it’s up to us to respond.

Prayer
Oh my God and my all, in Your goodness and mercy, grant that before I die I may regain all the graces which I have lost through my carelessness and foolishness.
Permit me to attain the degree of merit and perfection to which You desire to lead me, and which I failed by my unfaithfulness to reach.
Mercifully grant also that others regain the graces which they have lost through my fault, and continue to offer to all people your invitation to join You at Your table.
I humbly ask through the merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Virgin Mary that you have mercy on me and grant me these desires.
Amen.
Wednesday, 19 August 2020
Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time
Happy Wednesday to All
For those of you who have been attending the Sunday Mass, you will have noticed that our projection system is currently inoperative as both projectors have “given up.” (Maybe like the rest of us – the relentless heat has taken a toll!) We are currently reviewing our options and discussing the future needs of our parish in regard to the function and purpose of such a system.
The expense is considerable (repair, replace, alternative media, etc.) and it is important that we make a sound decision based not only on cost, but also in consideration of Diocesan and USCCB standards for such projection systems inside the church, and especially within the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There are alternatives to be considered and it is my opinion that while we are still at limited attendance and capacity, we take the time to investigate alternatives and be prudent with expenses.
As such, I ask for your indulgence and patience while we consider alternatives and solutions to our media in the church.
And speaking of attendance at the Holy Mass, as an update we have been experiencing a general uptick in the number of people attending Sunday Mass. We see that our attendance falls between 60 and 110 on average (depending on the day and time of the Sunday Mass) over the past few months and are looking forward to the day when all feel comfortable in attending the Mass in person. Please continue to register for your choice of Sunday Mass by visiting our parish website (https://bscaz.org/) of calling the office for assistance.
Thank you for your continued support of your parish.
May God continue to bless us all with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 34:1-11; Psalm 23; Matthew 20:1-16
“Are you envious because I am generous?”
(Matthew 20:15)
I was privileged every semester to have two classes of high school math students who struggled with the subject and who were at various levels of performance, anywhere from 4th grade level math to pre-algebra. I enjoyed working with them and getting them “through” math without hating it, but it required significant “differentiated instruction” techniques in order to deliver instruction and material that was appropriate to their level. A student who struggled with multiplication and division (let alone the dreaded fractions and percents) was not at a level to conquer quadratic equations, for example, but it was my mission to meet the student at their level and bring them up to the standards. All of the students in the class who gave it effort were able to advance in level; pre-testing and post-testing would indicate such improvement, sometimes as much as four grade levels in a semester when using the programme we had adopted. To me, that was success even if the student was not yet working at a high school level, but the students got what they each needed to advance learning and skills.
One day a student who was working at a higher level noticed that his work was more challenging than one of the other students: “How come he gets story problems about going to the grocery store and I get story problems that involve imaginary numbers (remember those?) and graphing?” Basically, the student was wanting to discuss what was “fair” in his mind – how come the other student was graded on such “easy” work – and he was not?
My answer was that both students were getting what was fair – the other student was working at his level and growing just as the questioner was receiving the same type of instruction; it wasn’t the difficulty of the work that mattered; what mattered was that both were improving their abilities to the best of their abilities and getting what they needed to be successful.
Most of us react instinctively against any form of behaviour that we consider to be unfair or unjust. If we think we are being treated unfairly or unjustly, we can feel especially upset. In the Gospel, we can easily sympathize with the complaint of the workers who bemoan the fact that those who only worked an hour got the same wages as those who worked all day. Yet, whereas those workers were operating out of the “category of justice,” the employer was operating out of the “category of generosity.” The employer wasn’t unjust to those who worked all day; he paid them what they all had agreed to. Yes, the employer was extremely generous to those who only worked an hour, but the employer had determined that what he was doing was providing for each group as he deemed fit.
Perhaps Jesus was saying to us through this parable that God’s generosity cannot be contained within the categories of human fairness and justice; it explodes through those categories. God does not deal with us according to our efforts or on the basis of what we deserve – thank God! There is nothing calculating or deceitful about God’s generosity in any way or form.
Perhaps we find ourselves in both positions: sometimes we are those hard labourers who have given a full day’s work for a full day’s pay; perhaps some days we are more like the short term workers who receive a full day’s wage for less than a full day’s work. Of course, being a parable we know that it isn’t just about “paid” wages; it is about working in the vineyard for the Lord. Some days we find it easy yet a bit of a challenge to do His work and give it our best; some days we find it a struggle to live the Commandments let alone the Beatitudes. Yet God gives us the same amount of grace; it never varies. It’s just that some days we benefit more from His mercy and generosity than others. The parable assures us, however, that God’s generosity will surprise us and leave us humbled.

Prayer
Blessed am I, O Lord, because I have come to know you.
Blessed am I, O Lord, because I believe in you.
Blessed am I, O Lord, because I have shared in your Passion through my daily struggles.
Blessed am I, O Lord, because You are my great hope!
Blessed am I, O Lord, because of Your mercy.
Blessed am I, O Lord, because You are God forever.
Amen.
Tuesday, 18 August 2020
Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 28:1-10; Psalm: Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:23-30
“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”
(Matthew 19:29)
One thing about setting a goal is that it must be attainable – it can certainly be a stretch to make it, but there must always be the possibility of getting there. Whether it is weight loss, a sales goal, or simply cleaning out the closet, if the goal is too high or impossible to meet in the given circumstances, most people either don’t try or give up the futile effort to attain whatever it might be.
Consider the Gospel reading today. To frame Jesus’ comments we remember that yesterday we read about the wealthy young rich man who asked what he needed to do for eternal life which was his goal – lofty, yes, but attainable with one big hurdle to overcome: his wealth. That is why Jesus goes on to say in this morning’s Gospel reading that “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of an needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” This stark statement of Jesus left the disciples astonished and led them to ask the almost despairing question, “Who then can be saved?” as if the goal is impossible to attain. They seem to be saying that it must be nearly impossible for anyone to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus counters their despairing thinking with a very hopeful statement: “For men this is impossible; for God everything is possible.” It is important to look at this statement as a sign of hope that yes, we can make our goal, and that God’s incredible gift of grace will, for those who accept it, make it possible. In the language of the letter to the Ephesians, God’s “…power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). This statement is something to remember when we are feeling defeated in speaking His truth or doing His will. Adding to this is St Paul’s statement from prison “I can do all things in him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). In this day and as has been the case in every age, we need to be putting our trust in the resources the Lord is always giving us – resources which we need so much.

Prayer
Jesus, You are my passport to heaven. I place my life in Your gentle hands so that you guide me along the path to You. My trust is Yours to guide and my soul to reflect your light, and I know that you are worthy of all my trust. Allow me to remain in your hands, even when I falter, and never let my trust in You be shaken or taken away.
Amen.
Monday, 17 August 2020
Twentieth Week of Ordinary Time
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 24:15-23; Psalm: Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 19:16-22
“If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
(Matthew 19:17)
I taught many classes with seniors in high school and as the end of their year approached, their parents and family members, friends and teachers would query about future plans – “What are you going to do after high school?” Most had a reply (“I’m going to university”), some did not yet have a direct answer, and some just looked perplexed: “You mean I’m graduating?” But most were thinking about the options that were open to them on the basis of their studies and entrance exam results: “What college should I go to?” “What courses should I take?” It was a time of searching and seeking for them and no doubt many of them looked for guidance and advice so as to make the best decision possible.
This morning’s Gospel reading puts before us a young man who is clearly a seeker and a searcher. He seems quite likable yet is struggling with one of the bigger questions of life showing a maturity in thought: “What good deed must I do to attain eternal life?” Questions don’t come much bigger than that, especially for a young person. In a way, he is asking what does it mean to live a good life or similarly what is the path to true and lasting happiness. Human beings have always asked these and similar fundamental questions be they storied philosophers or patrons sitting at a lunch counter. We have probably all asked it of ourselves at some time in our lives.
In response to the young man’s question, Jesus directs him to his own Jewish tradition – the commandments of the Jewish Law. (It is always worth exploring our own religious tradition as well; there certainly can be a great deal more there than we even realize!) While it seems this young man knows his religious tradition well by his response, he is still searching for something greater: ‘What more do I need to do?” Finally, Jesus points to Himself as the goal of the young man’s search: “Come, follow me.” Unfortunately for the young man, this was a bit too much; it would have involved letting go of his many possessions, which he couldn’t do. His journey to Jesus seems to end in sadness; the happiness and the life he searched for eluded him in Jesus’ response.
For this young man, it was his possessions that were a blockade. For us in this day and age, similarly it might be possession in our materialistic world that hold us back from following Him, but it might be something else: pride, envy, gluttony, sloth (in that we don’t take time to learn more about our faith); perhaps a vice like alcohol, drugs, pornography, or maybe its a resistance to Church teaching on particular subjects or an attachment to an ideology or agenda that is contrary to God’s Law and love. The young man dared to ask Jesus what it takes to attain everlasting life – it took courage and desire – but he wasn’t prepared for the answer. If we ask the same question – and we must do it at some point – the answer may not be what we want it to be, and we can choose to walk away sad, or we can get down to the hard work and enjoy eternity with He who made all.
Jesus offers himself to all of us as the goal of all our searching, as the answer to our deepest questions. He assures us that in following him, in walking in His way, we will find genuine life and true and everlasting happiness.

Prayer
Dear Lord, please remove from me anything that separates me from You and makes me unworthy of everlasting joy with You, be it in my speech, conversation, what I possess or what I cling to. Cast me from every evil that stands in the way of knowing You and kindle in me an earnest desire to love others and I love you.
Amen.
Thursday, 13 August 2020
Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Happy Thursday to you all!
I’m seeing some clouds in the sky and hopefully a sign of some cleansing water from the heavens will be coming our way! I’ve certainly been praying for some rain.
I’ve put into today’s update some notes regarding some questions that have recently come forward as well as an update to our hours.
Saturday, 15 August is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. While this solemnity remains a Holy Day of Obligation on the liturgical calendar, Bishop Olmsted has granted dispensation from this obligation to all Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix. We will, however, offer the Mass of the Solemnity at the following times for those who are able to attend.
Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Friday: 6.00p (Vigil)
Saturday: 8.00a (live stream)
Please note that it is not necessary to register for either Mass of the Solemnity, although we still request that all sign up for a Sunday Mass as is standard practice.
Beginning the week of Monday, 17 August, 2020, the parish will add to the operating hours, similar to pre-Covid levels. I have detailed the office and campus hours below for your reference. We are able to do this in no small part to the continued funding received from our generous parishioners though out the past few months of operation. We will continue to operate under a parish operating budget (15% below last year’s budget) that will continue to defer unnecessary expenses and preserve our assets for the future. Again, your generous financial support – and especially your prayers – have helped us to return our operating hours to a sustainable level for the current operating climate.
Please note that we are still operating under Phase I restrictions and that while the office hours have been extended, we are still limited to physical contact in that everyone who visits must wear a mask and maintain distance as per protocol, and therefore limited to no more than two people in the reception area at any one time.
Parish Office Hours
Monday through Thursday: 8.30a to 4.30p
Friday: 8.30a to 2.00p
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Campus Open/Close Hours
Monday: 6.00a to 7.00p
Tuesday: 6.00a to 4.30p
Wednesday: 6.00a to 7.00p
Thursday: 6.00a to 4.30p
Friday: 6.00a to 2.30p
Saturday: 7.00a to 5.30p
Sunday: 6.00a to 6.30p

Adoration Chapel
No change

Mass Schedule
No change

Confession
Wednesday: 4.00p to 5.00p (in the Hall)
Saturday: 8.30a to 9.30a (in the Hall)
While the Hall does not offer ideal conditions for the Sacrament of Confession, it is what we have available that can accommodate the necessary protocols and guidelines. We will continue in the hall as long as we are restricted from using the confessionals in the church. Weather permitting, we will return to the courtyard in the Autumn if still under the restrictions as it offers a better environment for the sacrament.
Again, thank you for your continued support for your parish, the staff, and for your patience as we continue to navigate thought this time. We may not do everything perfectly, but what we do in fact accomplish is with the best of intentions and always with our gaze fixed on Jesus Christ.
Blessings to you for holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 12:1-12; Psalm 78; Matthew 18:21 – 19:1
“Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
(Matthew 18:34)
Driving doesn’t seem to be an activity rich in “forgiveness”. Sometimes a police officer may be forgiving in the speeding ticket wasn’t issued when it should have been, but that same driver who should have been cited might lay on the horn to another driver who did something dumb just moments later (just as the parable in the Gospel relates). Drivers in Aotearoa New Zealand are not a forgiving lot either: they have honed the art of tailgating to a science, and the smallest breach of protocol in a round-about will elicit the ire of the other motorist similar to that of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake.
Learning to forgive those who have hurt us is probably one of the greatest challenges in life. Peter’s question to Jesus in the beginning of the Gospel reading comes of out that sense of how difficult it is to forgive someone: “How often must I forgive my brother?” The implication of his question is that there has to be a limit of some sort to forgiveness. Peter seems to decide to err on the generous side, suggesting seven times would be often enough as in his time, seven was considered to be the “complete” number. To forgive seven times is to complete forgiveness; surely, he must have thought, that no more could be asked of someone. Yet, Jesus does ask more, not seven times, but seventy seven times.
There is to be no limit on our obligation to forgive. Jesus underpins this very challenging call with the parable He offers following His discussion with Peter. In the parable, the servant owes his master ten thousand talents – a massive sum of money then and now, equivalent to hundreds of millions today. It simply could never be paid back by one individual in any lifetime. In the parable, the master felt so sorry for his servant that he simply cancelled the debt completely – imagine that! Here we have the triumph of grace over justice. There is an image here of the gracious and generous way that God deals with us…how can we ever pay our debt to God in this lifetime – or any other? Jesus reveals a God whose mercy triumphs over justice, just as He does in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The remainder of the parable in this morning’s Gospel reading tells us that we must allow the mercy that God freely pours into our lives – the mercy that we have been given for our sins and transgressions – to flow through us to touch others. This is what the servant who was forgiven failed to do. Remember what Jesus said: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Being merciful might be easier than this requirement: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Either way, there’s work to do.

Prayer
O Lord, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Saviour, forgive my sins, just as You forgave Peter’s denial and those who crucified You. Count not my transgressions, but, rather, my tears of repentance. Remember not my iniquities, but, more especially, my sorrow for the offenses I have committed against You. I long to be true to Your Word, and pray that You will love me and come to make Your dwelling place within me. I promise to give You praise and glory in love and in service all the days of my life.
Amen.
Prayer from Catholic.org.
Wednesday, 12 August 2020
Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: St Jane Frances de Chantal
Other Saints: Blessed Isidore Bakanja (Africa), St Muredach (Ireland)
Today I thought we might take a look at one of the lesser known not-quite-a-saint people honoured by our Church today: Blessed Isidore Bakanja.
Blessed Isidore Bakanja
Born: 1887; Republic of the Congo
Died: 1909; Republic of the Congo
Notes: Isadore Bakanja was born, at the best of records indicate, about 1887 in Bokendala (Congo) into the Boangi tribe. He worked as a labourer during much of his childhood. At 18, he heard the Gospel through the work of the Cistercian minssionaries and was baptised. He became a devout convert and fervent catechist. He also expressed a particular devotion to Mary in the Rosary and his enrollment in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
While he was working on a plantation in Africa, he was forbidden to speak of his Christianity or to wear the scapular that he wore as a witness to his faith. Isidore refused to comply with these demands and as a result was severely beaten. His health began a rapid decline due to the continued beatings and when the plantation inspector discovered the young man’s failing condition, medical intervention could not save his life. As Isadore lay dying, he expressed forgiveness for his aggressor declaring, “When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much.”
Devotion: Blessed Isidore Bakanja is considered a martyr for the Brown Scapular
Icon: In 2008 the British Province of Carmelites commissioned from Sister Petra Clare an icon of Blessed Isidore Bakanja for the National Shrine of Saint Jude at Faversham in Kent. The icon depicts Isidore as a labourer, wearing the brown scapular. One hand is open in a gesture of blessing and peace. The other holds a cross made from a palm, the symbols of the martyr.
Image and text regarding the icon are from Carmelite.org: http://www.carmelite.org/documents/Spirituality/pickmanisidorebakanja.pdf
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 9:1-7, 10:18-22; Psalm 113; Matthew 18:15-20
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
(Matthew 18:20)
You may have heard the expression, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” As a former math teacher, I would modify that truism: “Math is next to Godliness.” Of course, you may disagree depending on your “love” for math, but that’s okay, I understand – you didn’t have the benefit of my algebra class!
But may of us can often be impressed by numbers, and that is true even within the context of the Church. We look to see how many are coming to Mass or how many are signing up to this event or to that ministry, or the number of kids signed up for youth group, and so on. Certainly we all remember the days when the church was full (other than Christmas and Easter), and yes, the reality is that it is different now.
But Jesus’ way of looking at things is somewhat different to ours. Numbers did not seem to be an issue for him. He understood the value of the one; He spoke of the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep to go in the search of the one who was lost. And the number two is significant as well, just as we heard in today’s reading, and is significant because it underlines the value of how one can help another. “But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (Matthew 18:16). In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus commands his disciples to go out in pairs: “He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7).
As noted above in this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus declares that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them. The smallest gathering in a tiny church is just as significant as the huge congregation in one of the great Cathedrals or Basilicas of the world. In these days of declining numbers within the Church, the Gospel teaches us to appreciate the significance of those who are present, regardless of how many or how few, rather than allowing ourselves to become too discouraged by those who are not present. The Lord is present where two or three are gathered in His name, and if we are open and responsive to the Lord’s presence among us, fewer though we may be, He will draw others to himself – through us. After all, his Eleven did it, and so can we who number much more than that!

Prayer
Father, you will all men and women to be saved and come to the knowledge of your Truth. Send me into your great harvest that the Gospel may be preached to every one in my words and actions. Let my love for You gather together two or three in the presence of Your Son and strengthened by the power of the Sacraments, may we advance the way of salvation and love.
I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020
Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial: St Clare, Virgin
Yesterday, I presented a bit of the history of incense with regard to religious celebrations and today I thought would provide a bit of information with regard to its use in our current day liturgies. My reference point is the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and while it may “be done” differently in other places, the GIRM is the standard for us to follow in the Roman Rite.
Incense is used in various solemn processions, graveside services, the blessing of the dedication of new churches, cemeteries, and items such as new altars, new church bells, new sacred vessels, and newly acquired copies of the Book of Gospels. Incense is also used in the rite of consecrating of the chrism and the blessing of other holy oils, and during the singing of the Gospel canticle at solemn Morning and Evening Prayers of the Divine Office. Incense is burned atop a new altar as the altar undergoes the process of consecration prior to its first use.
Of note is that incense doesn’t always have to be burned. Grains of incense are placed into the sepulcher of newly consecrated altars along with the relics of saints to represent the burial rite of the ancient martyrs and to symbolize the prayers of the saint to whom the relic belongs. It is also placed into the new Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil (see below).
Finally, and while the situations and circumstances described below are rare in our post Vatican II culture, in some places around the world frankincense and myrrh are blessed at the Mass of the Feast of the Epiphany to commemorate the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus. This incense is then distributed to attendees for use at their own family altars and to reserve for use at the coming Easter to prepare their home paschal candles.
With regard to the use of incense at the Mass, the GIRM (#276) allows for the use of incense at different times during the celebration of Mass. Thurification or incensation is an expression of reverence and of prayer, as is signified in Sacred Scripture and may be used optionally in any form of Mass:
a) during the Entrance Procession;
b) at the beginning of Mass, to incense the cross and the altar;
c) at the procession before the Gospel and the proclamation of the Gospel itself;
d) after the bread and the chalice have been placed on the altar, to incense the offerings, the cross, and the altar, as well as the priest and the people;
e) at the elevation of the host and the chalice after the Consecration.
Incense is also used on Holy Thursday, during the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose.
At the Easter Vigil, five grains of encapsulated incense (most often made to look like red nails) are embedded in the paschal candle. These five grains of incense represent the five wounds of Jesus Christ: one in each hand, one in each foot, and the spear thrust into His side.
At funeral Masses, the earthly remains of the decedent and the catafalque (hearse) may be incensed, and also the gravesite at the burial service.
So in review of this ancient tradition, hopefully this presentation gives a bit more understanding as to why we Catholics “do this” – a question and comment that I have heard put forth by fellow Catholics and non-Catholics alike, especially at a Requiem (funeral) Mass. As with the sacraments, our rituals have meaning and purpose far beyond the words and actions and combined gives us a richness not found in other ecclesial communities. Knowing a bit more about our faith and traditions only serves to enhance our experience of God’s majesty.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Ezekiel 2:8 – 3:4; Psalm 119; Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
“And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:2)
The question the disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” reveals a preoccupation with status and honour. My response may have been something along the lines of “Don’t worry about being the greatest, worry instead about even being in heaven!” In His response, Jesus cuts across this preoccupation with greatness, which is far removed from his own concerns. He does not answer the question directly but declares that disciples will not even enter the kingdom of God unless they become like little children. In that culture, children, although loved by their parents, were considered to have no rights, no status, no honour; they were completely dependent on others for everything (not much different than today!). In calling on all of his disciples to become like little children, Jesus is calling on us to cast off all notion of status and honour and to recognize our complete dependence on God for everything – in other words, our poverty before God.
As Jesus says elsewhere, it is those who humble themselves who will be exalted (by God). Humility is not about putting oneself down but about being grounded or “earthed” in the reality of our “creaturely” status. The humble are those who recognize the truth of their reality as beggars before God, dependent upon God for all that is good. As a result, the humble do not promote themselves over others but recognize the common humanity that they share with all people. They recognize and welcome the Lord in those without status or position, such as the child.

Prayer
God of mercy, You inspired Saint Clare with the love of poverty. By the help of her prayers, may I follow Christ in poverty of spirit and come to the joyful vision of Your glory in the Kingdom of heaven.
I ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Monday, 10 August 2020
Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Feast: St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
In continuing to offer some thoughts on some of our beautiful traditions in the Church, I thought I might offer a short writing on the use of incense – or “holy smoke” if you will.
The use of incense in religious worship predates Christianity by thousands of years. First in the East (circa 2000 BC in China with the burning of cassia and sandalwood, etc.) and later in the West, incense use has long been an integral part of many religious celebrations. Incense is noted in the Talmud, and the Bible mentions incense 170 times. The use of incense in Jewish temple worship continued well after the establishment of Christianity and certainly influenced the Catholic Church’s use of incense in liturgical celebrations, however the earliest documented history of using incense during a Catholic sacrificial liturgy comes from the Eastern branch of the Church. The use of incense within the liturgies continued to be developed over many years into what we are familiar with today.
So, why do we use incense? In the Old Testament God commanded His people to burn incense (e.g., Exodus 30:7, 40:27). Incense is a sacramental used to venerate, bless, and sanctify as its smoke conveys a sense of mystery and awe. It is a reminder of the sweet-smelling presence of our Lord and its use adds a feeling of solemnity to the Mass. The visual imagery of the smoke and the smell reinforce the transcendence of the Mass linking Heaven with Earth, allowing us to enter into the presence of God. The smoke symbolizes the burning zeal of faith that should consume all Christians, while the fragrance symbolizes Christian virtue.
Additionally, incensing may also be viewed in the context of a “burnt offering” given to God. In the Old Testament, animal offerings were partially or wholly consumed by fire so in essence to burn something was to give it to God. In another way, we can also see the rising smoke symbolizing our prayers rising to heaven.
In his monograph Sacred Signs, Monsignor Romano Guardini (1885-1968), who greatly influenced the writings of Pope Benedict XVI, had these words to say about the use of incense:
The offering of an incense is a generous and beautiful rite. The bright grains of incense are laid upon the red-hot charcoal, the censer is swung, and the fragrant smoke rises in clouds. In the rhythm and the sweetness there is a musical quality; and like music also is the entire lack of practical utility: it is a prodigal waste of precious material. It is a pouring out of unwithholding love.
Sacred Signs, English translation, 1956 St. Louis, Pio Decimo Press.
Monsignor Guardini also had this beautiful thought about the use of incense within the Mass:
The offering of incense is like Mary’s anointing (of Jesus) at Bethany. It is as free and objectless as beauty. It burns and is consumed like love that lasts through death. And the arid soul still takes his stand and asks the same question: What is the good of it? It is the offering of a sweet savor which Scripture itself tells us is the prayers of the Saints. Incense is the symbol of prayer. Like pure prayer it has in view no object of its own; it asks nothing for itself. It rises like the Gloria at the end of a psalm in adoration and thanksgiving to God for his great glory.
(Sacred Signs)
With this background and offering some writing on the subject of the use of “holy smoke” within the liturgical elements of the Church, and in recognition of not making today’s writing too long, tomorrow I will present the specifics with regard to the use of incense as instructed by the General Instructions of the Roman Missal at Mass.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 112; John 12:24-26
“Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.”
(2 Corinthians 9:8)
Lawrence was a deacon in Rome who was martyred for his faith in Christ in the year 258. There has been continuous devotion to him since shortly after his death, although not much is known about him other than Lawrence being generous with almsgiving. The Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, publicly honoured Lawrence’s grave with a chapel and the basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the walls in Rome stands over the site today.
Today’s gospel reading is very suited to the feast of this early Christian martyr. In the Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as the wheat grain which falls to the ground and dies, and in dying yields a rich harvest. The rich harvest that came from his death and resurrection was the community of believers, the Church. Jesus’ self-giving love, even though it led him to death on a cross, was not only life-giving for himself, but for all humanity. He did not try to preserve his life at all costs; he was prepared to empty himself out of love for others and in doing so He gained life for himself and others. Jesus goes on to state that this pattern of life through death applies equally to his followers. The message here is that if we love our lives above all else, if our primary goal in life is to preserve and protect ourselves in a selfish way, then we risk losing ourselves to the world. We fail to become our true selves, the self that is the image of the Lord in whom we have likeness.
If, like Jesus, we are willing to lose ourselves and to give of ourselves in selfless action and in the service of the Lord and his people, then we will become alive with the life of God and our presence will be life giving for others. This is the paradox at the heart of the Christian life. It is in giving that we receive and, as Paul reminds us in the first reading, our giving is always to be cheerful. “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Prayer
I found in an old, tattered prayer book this prayer to St Lawrence:
O Generous patron of the Church’s poor, St. Lawrence, pray to the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit that all the poor of the Church in need in every corner of the world may feel the effect of the love of their brothers and sisters who seek to help them.
Deliver the Church from the greed and envy of the powerful and protect her rights and property so that she may serve the needy in freedom, giving them good things for soul and body.
May we come some day with all those whom we helped on earth to the bright mansions of heaven where we will enjoy the riches of God’s house and the company of the Savior who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen
Thursday, 6 August 2020
Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
The past two days I have included some information regarding two of our time-honored traditions: Offering a Mass and votive candles. I have a few other topics lined up that I thought I would pass along in the days and weeks to come, but if there are any traditions or practices (but not specific doctrine or dogma of the faith) that we participate in that you would like to know a bit more about – or maybe refresh your memory on – I would be happy to entertain the idea of including them in this column, time and space permitting.
On another subject, as we have been able to welcome back an increasing number of our parishioners to the public celebration of the Holy Mass, and with many visitors also coming to our parish for the Mass (as these visitors frequently comment that either their parish isn’t yet offering the Mass or it has very restricted times), a video has been developed and will be played before Mass regarding the reception of Holy Communion. Comments that I have received, especially from visitors, is that they appreciate knowing the protocol of “how we do it” in our parish as every parish has some sort of variation on receiving Holy Communion in this particular time of mask and distancing policies. The short video will be played before Mass starts so as to not interrupt the beautiful prayer of the Mass, and I personally would like to thank you for your understanding in this particular issue. Offering a presentation to our returning parishioners and visitors on “how we do it” is both welcoming and a way answer an often unspoken question, “I wonder how they do it?” If you would like to view the video, it is presented at the end of the prayer (below); it is also posted on our website.
We continue to have a large number of people viewing the Holy Mass via streaming technology. With our Facebook and website page combined, we have over 2,500 “hits” and viewers on any given Sunday; this isn’t just our parishioners, but people from around the U.S. and the world. It’s wonderful to know that we, who are present at the Mass, are also joined “in communion” with so many other people who continue to participate in their faith, even if unable to do so in person. Let us continue to pray for each other so that one day in the near future, we will all be able to celebrate the highest form of prayer that we have here on earth – the Holy Mass.
I also want to take the opportunity to thank the many volunteers who remain for a short period after the Holy Mass to help sanitize our worship space. It is not possible to express how much this helps our community to be able to gather for the Mass and to feel “safe” in doing so. If you haven’t participated in this activity after Mass, please consider helping out with this project. We have the supplies (gloves, masks, cleaners, towels, etc.) to use and with several hands helping, it doesn’t take but minutes for this process to complete so that the people arriving for the next Mass have a sanitized worship space. If you have helped in the past, again thank you!!!
May God continue to bless us all and keep us holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Daniel 7:9-10; 13-14; Psalm 97; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
(Matthew 17:5)
When parishioners and visitors came back to Mass after the public celebration of the Mass had been restricted, I heard many say words similar to Peter in today’s Gospel reading: “Lord, it is wonderful for us to be here.” Watching Mass on the webcam is not the same as gathering with members of the parish community to celebrate Mass together in our parish church, and while it is understandable why some of our parishioners are not ready or able to return to the public offering, we will be here when others are ready. But it was wonderful for us to be able to gather again in the Real Presence.
The Transfiguration scene in the gospels comes immediately after Jesus had spoken of himself of the Son of Man who must undergo great suffering and be killed. Jesus and the disciples had just set out on the journey to Jerusalem, the city where Jesus would be crucified; it was the beginning of “the way of the cross,” as well as the way to the cross.
Shortly after they began that journey, three of Jesus’ chosen disciples have an extraordinary vision of Jesus in which they saw him not as the suffering Son of Man but as the glorious Son of God. They were, in a sense, given a glimpse of what lay beyond the crucifixion and death of Jesus, a glimpse of the resurrection, and with Him were two of the greatest Old Testament figures: Moses and Elijah.
Sometimes on our own faith journey, our own way of the cross even, we too can be given a glimpse of the resurrection. It might take the form of a consolation that we experience in prayer, or an act of love and kindness that someone shows us, or just a sense of the Lord’s presence as we go about our daily tasks. Sometimes, we too can experience those who are in Heaven with our Lord: the saints and angels.
But you and I are journeying ultimately towards the Lord, journeying towards resurrection. But the risen Lord is also journeying with us, and every so often he will make his presence felt if we are alert and awake to Him, if, in the words of the Gospel reading, we do what the Father asks: listen to him.

Prayer
Lord, thank You for always listening to me and guiding me in spirit to follow Your Word and to enjoy what You have given to me in this life from Your Providence. I pray that I hear Your voice today as You guide, guard, protect, direct and govern me as You have told us that You will draw close to us when we draw closer to You. I seek to hear from You today any correction, instruction or guidance that you offer for my benefit in serving You and those You put in my life. Give me wisdom to discern Your voice and act on it.
Amen.
Wednesday, 5 August 2020
Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome
Yesterday, I wrote about one time honored Catholic tradition in “offering a Mass.” Today, I thought I would write briefly about another one: candles.
Fire and light have always been an important feature of worship in the Christian and Jewish religions. As far back as the time of Exodus we hear how the people were instructed to “keep a flame burning perpetually” (Exodus 27:19-20), as “perpetual incense before the Lord from generation to generation” (Exodus 30:7-8), and as a “lamp stand in the Tent of Meeting…set up before the Lord as He has commanded Moses” (Exodus 40:24-25). We see in Scripture that the ancient Jewish people used a perpetual fire to be two major things: a constant act of devotion, and a symbol of a holy space where God dwells. This practice is most clearly continued today a candle set by the tabernacle in every church in which the Eucharist is present in the tabernacle. The tabernacle, which is the Latin for ‘tent‘, is where the body (and blood of Christ in some places) is kept between Masses. Just like in ancient times, a candle is kept perpetually burning beside it for the same reasons practiced back in ancient times: God is physically with us within the ‘tent’ and we wish to perpetually adore Him.
This being said, Christ’s coming added further dimensions to the use of candles. In John 8:12, Jesus says of himself: “I am the Light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light and life.” The early Christians, who already saw lighting candles as an act of worship and devotion, began to also see the candle as a symbol of communion with Christ and a symbol of Him and His love in the darkness. And as the liturgy began to take shape, candles became a crucial symbol in many of the sacraments in which we participate today.
So, how did our lighting of candles evolve to include lighting them before icons and statues? With the understanding of lighting candles as an act of devotion, a symbol of God’s presence and communion with Him through Jesus, early Christians began placing candles on the tombs of martyrs in the catacombs. They did this because they understood the martyr to be a person who, now being certainly in heaven because of their martyrdom, was in complete communion with God. As Catholics, we believe it is only those in hell who are truly dead and at the “other end”, that those in heaven especially are living in a higher reality (John 3:16). This being the case, then, we ask that this person in full communion with Christ in heaven to pray for us in much the same way we would ask a dear and close friend who is living on earth to pray for us in a special way or need. Due to their complete communion with God, intersessions by those in heaven are especially beneficial to those of us on earth.
In lighting a candle before a relic, statue, or icon we are saying that God resides fully within that person, the person who is in full communion with God and that that person is giving perpetual glory to God. Of course Catholics practice this not to honour the image itself, but rather the one it truly represents. When we ask a particular saint to pray with and for us, the burning candle also shows our desire to remain in God’s presence as we go through our daily duties at home and in the workplace.
Lastly, when candles are lit before Christ’s image, it is done to show our reverence to Him who deserves our adoration and thanksgiving and who alone can forgive our sins and bring us back into a deeper relationship with Him. Only when candles are lit before images of God are they being used for worship of the depicted figure.
Having given this background to another one of our wonderful traditions of our rich Catholic faith, we are exploring the possibility of returning to our church interior the use of “real” candles for devotion. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as there are many things to consider in making this change. The staff and I are doing our research to make sure this is feasible for our worship space, practical in application, and cost-effective given our budget restrictions that are currently in place. I look forward to the day when we can all “light a candle” and let our intentions and prayers be lifted to the Light in our time honoured and historical tradition.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 31:1-7; Psalm Jeremiah 31; Matthew 15:21-28
“The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.”
(Jeremiah 31:7)
Our frame of reference in today’s culture is that there remains a division between ethnicity and race, and we can certainly see this in the news of the day and in the events of the past few months. Many of us were alive in the 1960’s to witness a shift in the United States with regard to Civil Rights. Prior to that the world became aware of the atrocities of World War II against Jews and certain other ethnic people in Europe; the Irish were targets in the 1900’s in the U.S., and suffered similarly in Great Britain, and so on. As human beings, it is certainly not our finest display of a compassionate, loving humanity.
It is not easy for us as readers of the Gospels to appreciate the barrier between Jews and pagans in the time of Jesus. Jesus himself shows an awareness of that barrier when he says to the pagan woman who approaches him for healing for her daughter, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” In Matthew’s Gospel it is only after the resurrection that Jesus sends his disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations, Jews and pagans alike. Up until then, the focus of Jesus’ mission would be the renewal of Israel. However, this pagan woman is not prepared to wait. In spite of Jesus’ great reluctance to respond to her request, her persistent faith in Jesus and her great wit finally brings crashing down the barrier between Jesus a Jew and herself a pagan. This is not to say, of course, that for Jesus this woman was anything of a lesser person because she was a pagan. Not at all. But it has everything to do with reorienting the people Israel and setting them straight. It might be that in this brief passage, we also get a glimpse of the human-side of Jesus who is focused on the considerable amount of work at hand before moving onto the rest of the nations.
A woman of outstanding faith brings forward Jesus’ timetable for proclaiming the gospel to the pagans. The woman stands in for all of us; she is a wonderful example for all of us of persistent faith. She kept on believing, even in the face of the Lord’s silence and resistance. As a result, her faith created a space for the Lord to work in a powerful and unexpected way. She teaches us that the Lord needs our persistent faith if God’s purpose for our lives and for humanity is to come to pass. She teaches us that we, too, are not to give up even if we feel a bit slighted by what is going on in the world around us or before us. It is a model of our faith before our Lord every time we bend a knee prayer.

Prayer
Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!
– Pope Francis, Evangelii Guadium, 11/24/13
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial: St John Vianney, Priest
Kia Ora!
In the office, we get many questions and requests to have “a Mass said” for a special intention or for someone who has passed, or still living. It’s a Catholic tradition that is almost as old as the Church itself. Records dating back to as early as the year 180 show evidence of early Christians having a Mass said for a loved one. Yet, it is one of the most commonly misunderstood practices in our faith and I thought I would take the opportunity to re-present this option for you, our beloved parishioners.
Because the Mass is the highest form of worship on Earth, there are many fruits and graces that result from having a Mass “said” (note that no one “buys” a Mass; a Mass is “offered”). The reason that this tradition has been passed on for centuries is because of the many spiritual fruits that result from this form of prayer. The celebration of the Eucharist is the highest form of worship in the Catholic Church because we unite ourselves with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in worship of His Father. St. John Paul II emphasized the graces that come when a Mass is offered: “The Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of His Bride and joins it to His own redemptive sacrifice” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia).
Of course you need not have a “Mass said” for your special intention; this practice in no way negates someone who comes to Mass and silently prays at the beginning of the Mass and offers the Mass in their heart for a a personal intention. In fact, in the beautiful Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I), the priest specifically mentions this in the beginning of the prayer: “…or they offer it for themselves.”
So, here are some things to consider regarding “offering a Mass”:
1. First, the question on everyone’s mind when it comes to “offering a Mass” is financial: it doesn’t cost anything! There is no price tag on the Mass (remember, it cannot be bought), however, it is customary to give an offering when requesting a Mass for an intention as a sort of sacrifice on the part of the person who is making the request. If you make an offering, the Seraphic Mass Association, for example, suggests a donation of just ten dollars per Mass, and this aligns with our Diocesan policy. But again, the offering – if any – is up to the individual making the request.
2. Though we often think of having a Mass said for those who have passed away, a Mass can be offered for those who are still alive. The Council of Trent says that Mass may be said “for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities,” including the souls in purgatory, expectant mothers, and so on. In other words, if you know someone who could benefit from the spiritual graces that come with having a Mass said on their behalf, there is no need to delay in doing so. And, what better way to say “thank you” to God than by offering a Mass of thanksgiving! Of course it isn’t necessary to have a Mass “said” because you want to give thanks; your personal prayer can do this as well.
With that said, when you request a Mass to be offered, it isn’t necessary to tell the parish (or anyone else) why you are asking for it; all the parish needs to know is for whom the intention is being offered and if, in fact, they are alive or have passed away. Remember, it’s your intention and your offering; the parish or the priest don’t need to know the intention. However, offering a Mass for something against Church teaching or practice is NOT proper and could in fact be a sacrilege (a grave sin). If unsure of your intention, discuss it with a priest or deacon before “signing up.”
Again, if you are having a Mass offered for a person or for thanksgiving, the announcement at Mass would be “for the intentions of …” giving only the name of the person and not the reason. The reason (intention) is between you and God.
With regard to some particulars for our parish, here is how we handle requests for a Mass:
1. Contact the parish office by phone or in person to make arrangements and select a specific date/time. Even if your requested date/time is not available, the intention for someone or something is still valid; in other words, it doesn’t have to be on a specific date (birth date, anniversary, etc.) although it is nice if it is.
2. The Church normally allows for only one intention with a stipend per Mass. This is not to say that other intentions cannot be included in the Mass – at Blessed Sacrament, we follow the USCCB and Diocesan guidelines (which allow one Mass to be offered for multiple intentions) in that on Sunday we pray for the sick and the dead as well as one Mass given over specifically for the “intentions” of the parishioners.
3. An intention does not have to be stated publicly. Because the intention is essentially a spiritual act, its annunciation or publication neither adds to nor subtracts from its efficacy. In the case where the name is not announced (by accident of the presider or reader) or mispronounced, or omitted from publication on accident, it is enough that the priest celebrated according to the intention of the donor; in other words, just because the priest didn’t mention the person, it is still “valid” because the donor intended it to happen… and God knows that!
4. While a priest may offer more than one Mass per day, each with its own intention (i.e. the 7.00a Mass for Mary Bloggs and the 6.00p Mass for Harry Bloggs, etc.), he collects only one stipend per day. In other words, if he says three Masses with intentions, he does not collect $30; he collects one $10 stipend. The balance is sent by the parish to the Diocese of Phoenix for their charity programs or to funds for poor parishes.
There is much to our beautiful Catholic faith, and the traditions and practices have been with us for many hundreds of years. Taking the time to learn about and practice our traditions makes for a much richer faith life and beautiful and radiant liturgies.
May God continue to bless us all.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22; Psalm 102; Matthew 14:22-26 or 15:1-2, 10-14
In New Zealand, there is an expression for when things inadvertently go wrong: “It all went to toffee.” Sometimes it happens no matter how much we plan or try to do the right thing, it doesn’t work out. As a flight attendant supervisor, I would get a copy of a customer letter for one of the 150 flight attendants in my group – most of the time they were complimentary, but once in a while the dreaded “Action Required” file would come across my desk with a customer complaint. Of course it would have to be investigated in a personal discussion with the flight attendant involved who hopefully had documented the incident and perhaps any witnesses to the event would be noted. On occasion, the offending flight attendant would remark, “Yeah, I stuffed it up.” Those were the easy ones to correct; of course an apology letter to the customer would need to be written (and usually included an incentive to “fly with us again” and the employee would have some sort of documented incident report in his or her file. There were only three types of non-performance issues critical enough to get someone fired, all of which involved ill-intent/behavior or willful neglect and/or disregard for safety protocols. All others were “manageable” and, in essence, “forgivable,” as long as such things were not repeated. Since we were non-union, employees realized that they didn’t have union protection for their employment; but it wasn’t needed because the company was very fair with its practices and most employees knew what a great job they had and a wonderful company it was to work for. In fact, back in the day, we had a saying: “It takes an act of Congress to get hired by Delta; it takes an act of God (death) to leave Delta.”
In our first reading, there is quite a contrast between the first and the second part of of the reading from the prophet Jeremiah. In the first part of the reading, God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, declares to the people, “…so great is your guilt, so many your sins.” It is because they have sinned so greatly that God declares, “Your wound is incurable.” It almost sounds as if the people’s situation is hopeless; they have turned against God and brought disaster on themselves, and nothing can be done about it. Yet, the second part of the reading has a very different tone. There the Lord declares, “I will restore the tents of Jacob and take pity on his dwellings… I will make them increase, and not diminish them… You shall be my people and I will be your God.”
It seems that God can work in hopeless situations after all; God’s creative power can bring good out of the mess that humans make. It is reassuring for all of us to know that human failure and sin does not have the last word. Rather, God’s faithfulness and God’s creative power will always have the last word. St Paul puts that truth very simply and very well: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Romans 5:20). That is why we can be hopeful even in the face of failure and loss, even when “it all turns to toffee.”

Prayer
O Lord God, I hope by your grace for the pardon of all my sins and, after life here, to gain eternal happiness because you have promised it who are infinitely powerful, faithful, kind, and merciful.
In this hope I intend to live and die.
Amen.
Thursday, 30 July 2020
Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saint Peter Chrysologus
St Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Date of Birth: In 380, Imola, Italy
Date of Death: 31 July, 480; Imola, Italy
Notes: As a young man, St Peter Chrysologus was made bishop of Ravenna, the new capital of the Roman Empire, and was responsible for many of the building words in that city. His name “Chrysologus” means “golden speech,” and was given to Peter because he was such a gifted preacher. Most of his sermons were based on moral applications, were sound in doctrine, and were historically significant in that they reveal Christian life and the application of Christian values to Christian life.
St Peter Chrysologus was distinguished by a fierce loyalty to the Church, not only in its teaching, but in its authority as well. He looked upon learning not as a mere opportunity but as an obligation for all, both as a development of God-given faculties and as a solid support for the worship of God. Unfortunately, most of his writings have perished, but a collection of short sermons remains.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 18:1-6; Psalm 146; Matthew 13:47-43
“Whenever the object of clay which he was making turned out badly in his hand, he tried again, making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.”
(Jeremiah 18:4)
I’ve always detested being a judge in a contest of some sort, and even more so as a priest, yet we (my brother priests and I) are often asked to participate in some sort of competition by judging the contestants in whatever skill or activity they demonstrate. To me, it seems a bit hypocritical for a priest to do so, especially in light of the Gospels’ teaching on judging, and given the fact that we, as clergy, are to see the good in everyone and make extra effort to treat everyone equally. Yes, I know, it doesn’t always work out that way – but it’s true for each person on the earth regarding judging. (By the way, if asked to judge a contest or performance or event, I’ll turn it down…sorry.)
The parable of the dragnet cast into the sea suggests that at the end of time there will be a separation out of the good from the wicked. However, this is God’s work and it will happen at the end of time. We often make the mistake of thinking that it is our work and that it should happen in the course of our time. We can be prone to deciding who is good and who is bad here and now and behaving in the light of that judgement. Yet, when we make such a judgement, we are prone to getting it wrong, even though we know the difference between judging and action and judging a person doing the action.
We oftentimes see the good in ourselves more easily than the good in others and the bad in others more easily than the bad in ourselves. We also fail to appreciate that people can change for the better, with God’s help of course. The image of God as the potter in this morning’s first reading suggests that God can take what comes out wrong and reshape it into something good. We are all a work in progress. God may have begun a good work in us, but God has yet to bring it to completion.
Judgement belongs to God at the end of time, and our judging God is also our creator God who is constantly at work to bring good out of evil and new life out of what has come out wrong. But it takes time – God get’s it right in His time, but we humans keep “stuffing it up” in our time. As humans, we should be very slow to take on God’s work of separating the good from the evil, making sure that we distinguish the action from the person. As Paul says in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Prayer
Lord, I do desire to become holy. I desire to be transformed little by little every day. Help me to allow You to change me every moment of my life so that I can continually walk the path You have laid out for me. Jesus, I trust in You.
Amen.
Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial: Saint Martha
As we celebrate St Martha today, and in recognition of her dedicated service to our Lord, I would like to take a moment to recognize the many people in our parish who serve to prepare us to celebrate the Holy Mass.
There are many people who engage in the work that goes on, and of particular note as we celebrate St Martha are the sacristans who dutifully go about getting things ready so we can gather “at table” for the Eucharist. While we are limited to access to the sacristy at this point, which means that our sacristans are getting a bit of time off, their work will resume once we are back at full function and does not go unnoticed.
Martha served the Lord in the best way she could, and is an inspiration to us all. So thank you sacristans, and thank you St Martha. Pray for us.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21; Psalm 59; John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42
“Martha, Martha, 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 10:42)
The reflection today is based more on the event in Luke’s account of Martha than that of John’s Gospel account, but both give us a picture of Jesus’ relationship with his friend Martha and her sister Mary and brother Lazarus.
An oddity in our Church calendar is that it might strike us as strange that we have a feast of Saint Martha but no feast of Saint Mary, Martha’s sister. This is all the more strange when we consider that on hearing Luke’s Gospel most people think that Martha comes off worse than Mary. After all, according to Jesus, it is Mary who “has chosen the better part.” Yet, Jesus addresses Martha in a very striking way in that Gospel reading:”Martha, Martha,” He says. It is rare that Jesus addresses someone by their personal name twice in the Gospels yet in doing so, He reveals his love for her or, perhaps better expressed, it would be God’s love for her is revealed in himself: “God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son” (1 John 4:9).
There is clearly a great goodness to Martha. She seems like a woman who puts her heart into everything, just as she was putting her heart into providing hospitality for Jesus. Yet, there was something not quite right in her life at the moment of her encounter with Jesus. He addresses her as a woman who worries and frets about so many things. She is consumed with anxiety when there is no need for it. For all her goodness, she has something to learn from her sister Mary with whom she is clearly upset. She can learn from her sister that sometimes simply “being” is more important than “doing” and listening to others can be a greater form of service than providing for them in a physical sense. Martha is a really good woman who hasn’t quite got the balance right in her life. And how “human” is that!
In what we witness in Martha, she can be an encouragement to us all. There can be great goodness in us, even though we are far from perfect. There can be much in our lives for the Lord to admire, even though we still have a journey to travel. We are all on the way, just as Martha is on the way in today’s Gospel reading. The important thing is to value the good that is in all of us and to invite the Lord to bring his good work in our lives to completion. This requires our cooperation, as well as recognition as to who it is ultimately that we serve. Of course we serve Him by serving others, but it is also important that we do as Mary: sit at His feet, and listen to Him.

Prayer
Father, who are the ever-living source of all that is good, keep me faithful in serving You. Help me to drink of Your Son’s Truth, and fill my heart with His Love so that I may serve You in faith and love. In the most precious Sacrament of the Eucharist, You give me the joy of sharing in Your Life. Keep me in Your presence and never let me be separated from you.
Amen.
Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Even though we are in the middle of summer, your parish staff is evaluating our programs and events that we will be able to offer – and want to offer – in the coming fall, and even into the spring. I need not go into detail about this unique time in our parish life given the uncertainty of the conditions surrounding the virus and all that comes with it, but we are trying to make adjustments that will permit us to continue to offer our religious education classes, adult formation opportunities, and sacramental preparation programs. What we need to work through is that not everyone is comfortable coming together in person, yet some are “chomping at the bit” for social interaction. While that may be true for the participants, we also must consider the many volunteers that we have relied upon these many years and that they, too, are feeling the same way – some are not ready to “be in public” and some can’t wait to get back “to it.” Of course we respect everyone’s situation and do so with understanding and care, but we must realize that not everything will be as it used to be, at least through the fall.
I would again like to thank you, our loyal parishioners, for all that you continue to do for your parish. Your support, be it prayerfully, financially or through other volunteer activities is most welcome, appreciated, and is a true picture of who we are at Blessed Sacrament.
You’re in our prayers.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 14:17-22; Psalm 79; Matthew 13:36-43
“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”
(Matthew 13:43)
During school holiday or summer break, after playing in the yard for a while, once in a while my friend who lived across the street and I would sometimes go down the street to his auntie’s house for lunch. It was always a good place to go and she inevitably provided the same thing for “dessert”: a scoop of cottage cheese with a portion of canned fruit cocktail on top. Simple, but delicious. My friend would separate the red cherries from his bowl – he didn’t like them; to him, the red cherries were evil. I, on the other hand, loved them, and would trade him some grapes (that I had separated out; they weren’t evil per se, I just needed something to trade…) for the cherries. In my book, it was a good deal.
Our Gospel involves separation. It is an explanation of the parable of the wheat and the weeds, and don’t worry, it’s not deja vu – we had this Gospel on the 19th of July (this repeat pattern happens every six years in the cycle of readings). The focus of the explanation by Jesus is the final separation of the good and the evil at the end of time. The parable itself had suggests before that final separation at the end of time, good and evil will co-exist in the world; this includes the Church and also what is within each one of us. The weeds and the wheat grow together. There will be a final separation of course, but that will be done by God. It is not our place to make that separation in the here and now as we will invariably get it wrong, both in regard to ourselves and in regard to others. We will inevitably pull up wheat as well as weeds. (We might even mistake a cherry for a grape…)
It can be all too easy to see ourselves as wheat and identify individuals or various groups of other people as weeds. Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says to those who were judging him, “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court… It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4:1-3). Psalm 145 reminds us that the Lord who will judge is a “God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness” (Psalm 145:8).

Prayer
Dear Lord, grant me to know what I ought to know, to love what I should love, and to praise all that delights You. I desire to value what is precious in Your sight. Help me to discern what in this world is offensive to You and the courage and strength to correct it. Help me to judge not according to the sight of my eyes nor to be critical of unlearned and foolish, but to discern with Your true spirit of love between things visible and spiritual and what pleases You.
Amen.
Monday, 27 July 2020
Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 13:1-11; Psalm: Deuteronomy 32; Matthew 13:31-35
Humble beginnings. Here’s a few business that started there:
Starbucks: The very first Starbucks opened its doors in Seattle back in 1971, founded by three former students from the University of San Francisco. One was a writer and the other two were teachers. They didn’t brew coffee or sell pastries – they simply sold beans after being inspired by roasting legend Alfred Peet.
Kentucky Fried Chicken: “The Colonel,” or Harland Sanders, was 62 years old when he began the move toward profiting on his chicken recipe. He’d already had numerous careers, including working as an insurance salesman and a gas station employee. He started selling chicken from a roadside stop in Utah during the Great Depression and began to find success. By the way, Dave Thomas, working for the Colonel, tried to get him to franchise the company. The Colonel didn’t want to, and Dave left and founded Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers.
Google: In 1995, a couple of college kids met when one was giving the other a campus tour. Computer geeks through and through, they eventually started the first version in their garages of what would eventually become Google – originally called BackRub – one year later.
Delta Air Lines: In the summer of 1925, three men started with one crop dusting airplane and formed the Huff-Daland Dusters (named after the model of airplane they flew actually called the Huff-Daland Duster) battling the dreaded boll-weevil infesting cotton crops around Monroe, Louisiana.
The people mentioned above went about doing their work quietly for many years; what we see is the end product of many years of hard work to get their business up and running. I would venture to say that most all business have humble beginnings, but what we know and experience wouldn’t necessarily be humble many years after the start of operation.
The two parables in today’s Gospel are about humble beginnings and are images of Jesus’ own ministry. His work in Galilee is like the mustard seed and the leaven; it is very small scale, and to those on the “outside” reviewing His work would have seemed somewhat unpromising. Jesus had been going about his work quietly and without fanfare for many years, yet as the parables suggest, these small beginnings are the promise of something wonderful to come. Just as the mustard seed becomes a tree where the birds of the air build their nests and the tiny leaven has a huge impact on three measures of flower, so did the work of God through His Son.
Humble beginnings can have an extraordinary outcome when the work in question is God’s work. There is an encouragement to us all to keep doing the little bit of good we are able to do. It may not seem much in our own eyes or in the eyes of others, yet God can work powerfully through whatever little good we do, in ways that will surprise us. We can all plant the equivalent of the mustard seed; we can all be the equivalent of the leaven. The little initiative, the small gesture, the offer of help, can all bear fruit in ways that we could never have imagined at the time. The Lord can work powerfully through our smallest efforts if they are done out of love for him. Our calling is often to plant some good seed and to trust that the Lord will do the rest, if we let Him.

Prayer
Dear Lord, if what I seek is according to your will, then let it come to pass and let success be the outcome. But if not, let what I seek pass by. Do not leave me to my own devices, for you know how unwise I can be. Keep me safe under your protection and in your own gentle way guide me and rule me as You know best.
Amen.
Thursday, 23 July 2020
Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saint Bridget of Sweden (Sweden, USA)
Optional Memorial: Saint Philip Evans and St John Lloyd (Wales)
Optional Memorial: Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace (Various)
Hello All.
Please accept my apology that this message didn’t go out as scheduled on Thursday. Operator Error…that’s me. So, here it is a few days late.
As you can see from above, there are three saints honored today as well as our Blessed Mother in a special title. Not preferring one over the other, even if I did name my first Volvo after St Bridget (Birgitta), and with the recognition that if I tried to write about all of them that this column would be anything but brief! As such, I thought I might “bullet point” something about each, and you can pick and choose what you would like…
St Bridget
Date of Birth: 1303; Uppland, Sweden
Date of Death: 23 July 1373; Rome, Italy
Notes: Married, 8 children, one of whom is St Catherine (Katarina) of Sweden. Served as lady in waiting to the queen and tried to reform the riotous and indecent life of the royal court. Husband (Ulf) died in 1344. She sold all of her possessions and founded a double monastery (one male, one female) as the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines. The “mother house,” Vadstena Abbey still existing today.
Patron Information: Patroness of Sweden, Co-Patroness of Europe (along with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who was known as Edith Stein in life).
Prayers: We can pray to St Bridget, asking her to help us to love and care for our neighbor as she did. A specific prayer is provided below to use as you wish.
St Philip Evans & St John Lloyd
St Philip Evans
Date of Birth: 1645; Monmouth, Wales
Date of Death: 22 July 1679; Cardiff, Wales (Martyr)
St John Lloyd
Date of Birth: 1630; Brecon, Wales
Date of Death: 22 July 1679; Cardiff, Wales (Martyr)
Notes: St Philip Evans was ordained as a Jesuit priest and sent to South Wales to work where the anti-Catholic policies had him arrested. He was offered to take an Oath of Allegiance to spare his life, but refused.
St John Lloyd was ordained as a diocesan priest in Valladolid, Spain, but returned to Wales. Following the “Popish Plot” of Titus Oates, St John Lloyd was arrested and charged with having prayed the Mass.
Both were imprisoned in Cardiff Castle and hanged, drawn, and quartered together. St Philip spoke to the crowd before his death: “I die for God and religion’s sake; and I think myself so happy that I have many lives I would willingly give them all for so great a cause.”
Patron Information: Nothing proscribed.
Prayers: A specific prayer is provided below to use as you wish.

Our Lady, Mother of Divine Grace
Catholic theology regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary understands that she was eternally predestined, in the context of the Incarnation, to be Mother of God. As decreed by divine Providence, “she served on earth as the loving Mother of the divine Redeemer, his associate, uniquely generous, and the Lord’s humble servant” (Lumen Gentium, 61). She conceived, gave birth to, and “nourished Christ; presented him to the Father in the Temple; and was united with him in his suffering as he died on the cross. In a completely unparalleled way she cooperated, by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity, with our Saviour’s work of restoring supernatural life to souls” (LG, 61). For this reason, she is Mother to us all in the order of grace.
Prayer: A sample prayer is provided below to use as you wish.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7,8,12, 13; Psalm 36; Matthew 13:10-17
“Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
(Matthew 13:17)
How many times has this happened to you: you’re driving and want to change lanes. It’s all clear. You flick the turn signal on (I hope!) and move over only to be blasted into reality by the horn of the car next to you. “Where did he come from!” you frantically say and swerve back into your lane.
Or this: you’re watching that ever-so important baseball game on TV (remember those days?) or some other program of vital importance and your spouse says to you: “Honey, after the (game/show) could you…” and you nod your head as if you heard the request and agreed to do it. Later you think to yourself, I know s/he asked me to do something, but I don’t remember what it was.
All of us at one time or another have looked without seeing and listened without hearing.
In the gospel reading Jesus speaks of looking without seeing and of listening without hearing. We know from our own experience that we listen without hearing and look without seeing. Sometimes what is being said is not worth hearing and so we listen without paying attention, and what is visible is not really worth looking at with any attention. However, Jesus was speaking about those who look at himself without seeing him and who listen to what he says without hearing him. When it comes to Jesus there is a lot to be seen and a lot to be heard. Jesus is worth more than a cursory look and a half-engaged listen. The more carefully we look at Jesus and all that He has done for us, the more we will see God in His glory, and the more attentively we listen to Him, the more we will hear His Word. That is what Jesus means in the Gospel reading when He says, “for anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough” (Matthew 25:29). The more we attend to the Lord, the more we will receive and the more blessed we will be just as He declared, “Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear” (Matthew 25:17).
Jesus is alive among us as risen Lord; He is there to be seen and to be heard by us all. We hear and see him in a special sense whenever we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. Yet, the Lord is to be seen and heard in many other ways as well: He is visible and audible to us in and through each other, especially in and through those who are most vulnerable. Let us all pray for eyes to see and ears to hear His presence among us.

Prayers
Regarding Today’s Reflection
Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You for always listening to me and guiding me in spirit, to follow Your Word and to enjoy what You have given to me in this life from Your providence. Lord God, I pray that I hear Your voice today as You guide, guard, protect, direct and govern me. Amen.
Prayer to St Bridget of Sweden
O Lord, make haste and illumine the night. Say to my soul that nothing happens without You permitting it, and that nothing of what You permit is without comfort. O Jesus, Son of God, You Who were silent in the presence of Your accusers, restrain my tongue until I find what I should say and how to say it. Show me the way and make me ready to follow it. It is dangerous to delay, yet perilous to go forward. Answer my petition and show me the way. As the wounded go to the doctor in search of aid, so do I come to You. O Lord, give Your peace to my heart. Amen.
Prayer to St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs Saint Philip Evans and Saint John Lloyd
triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death. Grant us, who now remember them in
thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in
this world, that we may receive with them the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Divine Grace
O my mother, treasurer of all graces, refuge of poor sinners, consolation of the afflicted, hope of those who despair and most powerful help of Christians, I places all my confidence in you, being sure that you will obtain for me from Jesus the graces which I so much desire, if they are good for my soul. Amen.
Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Feast of St Mary Magdalene
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Song of Songs 3:1-4 (or 2 Corinthians 5:14-17); Psalm 63; John 20:1, 2, 11-18
“Whom are you looking for?”
(John 18:7)
In the last century, there has been a method of studying the Bible known as the “Historical Critical” method. While the word “critical” has many meanings, in this case it doesn’t mean to find fault with or to judge severely, but more so as to find merit and truth in a given context, and in the case of the Bible, to do it in the light of history. While this method of Bible study has its merits, and has been used in formation of seminarians for many decades, the method itself has come under criticism as of late as it does just that: judges the stories of the Bible as being a historical record, which it is not. While there certainly are historical events accounted for in the rich text and stories in Scripture, those who use this method of study tend to “remove God” in many aspects from their analysis and focus on the event and its plausibility as to have occurred at a given time or place and not look at it through the eyes of faith.
Anyway, what I am leading up to relates to our feast day today – St Mary Magdalene in that the long tradition of the Church, including its artistic tradition, Mary Magdalene has been associated with many incidents in the New Testament, and theologians have argued various interpretations of the various characters named Mary. It has even entered popular culture with author Dan Brown’s fictional book The Da Vinci Code placing Mary Magdalene at Christ’s side at the table at Last Supper which is not accurate, although she may have been there. Mary Magdalene has generally been portrayed as the repentant sinner largely due to her being identified with the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and dried them with her hair. There is no evidence to suggest in the Gospels that she was any more a sinner than the other disciples of Jesus, although she did have demons cast out of her (Luke 8:2), but that doesn’t make her a “sinner” per se. Like the rest of us, however, she would be sinful simply because of her human and fallen state. She sought Jesus for mercy and forgiveness and in her converted heart and in her total abandonment of sin, became a true friend and follower of the Son of God.
The Gospel reading for Mary Magdalene’s feast portrays her as a woman whose devotion to Jesus brought her to the tomb early on that first Sunday morning. Her heartfelt devotion to Jesus also left her outside the tomb weeping tears of loss when she discovered that the body of Jesus was not there. She sought the Lord but could not find him. However, the Lord came seeking her and found her when he called her by her name. Like Mary Magdalene, we too seek the Lord, and like her, we are also the object of the Lord’s search. Indeed, the Lord’s search for us is prior to our search for him. Even if we struggle to make our way to the Lord, like Mary, the Lord always makes His way to us and calls us by our name. He is the Good Shepherd who, having laid down his life for us, now calls us by name. In calling us to himself by name, the Lord also sends us out, as he sent out Mary Magdalene, to bring the good news of his Easter presence to those we meet. The Lord who calls us by name also asks us to be his messengers to others. Mary Magdalene, “the apostle to the disciples,” can be our inspiration as we take up this task.

Prayer
Mary of Magdala, beloved apostle of Jesus Christ, hear my prayer. You are holy amongst women because of your steadfast devotion to your beloved Jesus Christ. You who sinned, but wished to sin no more, are the model of what redemptive love looks like. As I continue to struggle with pride and self-absorption, please intervene for me with your beloved Friend. You are my hope and promise that Jesus loves me, a wretched sinner. Even though He comes to me and gives me consolation, I still resist His intimacy. Show me, dear Saint Mary Magdalene, how to love Him without reservation and hesitation as you did. Help me to stay present with Him as you did. Help me to be devoted to Him as you were. Make my path clear, Saint Mary Magdalene, and pray for my soul that I too might be as wildly devoted to Jesus as you.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Prayer adapted from 40daysofprayer.org/.
Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saint Lawrence of Brindisi
As we go forward, and with my sincere desire to keep these reflections going for the time being while we are still under a “restriction” of sorts of gathering together during the epidemic, on days where I haven’t much to report with regard to the parish I thought I might include in this space an overview of the “lesser known saints” such as today’s Optional Memorial: St Lawrence of Brindisi.
St Lawrence of Brindisi
Birth: Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples, Italy; 1559
Death: Lisbon, Portugal; July 22, 1619
Patron Saint Priorities: Brindisi, Italy
In remembrance of Jesus in the Temple at 12 years of age, a custom prevailed in Italy at Christmas time permitting boys to preach in public. (Imagine that today!) Lawrence was only six years old when he preached in the cathedral of his native town with such force and point that his audience was deeply affected and many entered upon a more Christian life.
Saint Lawrence entered the Capuchin friary at Verona when he was only 16 years of age and distinguished himself from the very beginning as a model of perfection. He was punctual at all the community exercises, perfect in his submission to superiors, and full of respect and charity towards his brethren. He was very successful in the study of philosophy and theology, and had a thorough a command of foreign languages that he was able to preach in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and even in Hebrew. He ascribed his success not so much to his talents as to the special help he received from Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, whom he honored with tender devotion.
With such accomplishments, Father Lawrence started out on a highly fruitful missionary life. He was called to Rome where he was entrusted with the conversion of the Jews. His thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language won for him the esteem of the rabbis, and his gentle manner led many an Israelite to baptism.
In 1598 Saint Lawrence of Brindisi was sent to Germany with eleven other friars to establish Capuchin convents and to counteract the heresy of Martin Luther, which was at that time gaining a foothold in Austria. Emperor Rudolph II entrusted to Lawrence with the task of organizing a crusade against the Turks and was also the chief chaplain of the powerful army of Archduke Matthias, which went to Hungary in 1601 to also at war against the Turks. Although quite crippled with rheumatism, he mounted his horse and, crucifix in hand, rode at the head of the troops to the battlefield. After the war, the pope again sent him to Germany, but this time on an errand of peace to reconcile Archduke Matthias with his brother, the emperor, and was successful in this task.
In an errand of charity to Portugal to free his native countrymen and women from the tyranny of the viceroy who was installed by King Phillip III of Spain to oversee the kingdom of Naples, St Lawrence fell very ill at Lisbon. He knew that his end was drawing near and told his companions so. After devoutly receiving the last sacraments, he fell into ecstasy, during which he went to the sweet embrace of his Lord on the feast of St Mary Magdalen, July 22, 1619. Pope Pius VI beatified him in 1783, and on December 8, 1881, Pope Leo XIII canonized him. In December 1958 Pope John XXIII signed a decree declaring St. Lawrence to be a Doctor of the Church.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Micah 7:14, 15, 18-20; Psalm 85; Matthew 12:46-50
“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
(Matthew 12:50)
If we are lucky, we have a good strong family – parents, brothers and sisters, and extended family members who all identify as “family” regardless of where they live or what they “do” or what happens in life. Similarly, those of us who have had experience with, say, a broken family and a family that is not close still recognize a bond of sorts between family members. Some of us may have even been “adopted” into another family along the way – and while not “blood” brothers and sisters, we still consider ourselves to be part of a “family.” Family is an incredible support group, even if – at times – it can seem unsupportive or “difficult” in some ways.
Living in New Zealand, half a world away from my nearest blood-relative, I was part of the last group I mentioned. I was “adopted” by a wonderful Catholic family in the farmlands of lower-central north island New Zealand. Not that they needed anyone else – there were already 12 children living on the farm – but every time we gathered at their home or at the church, or just for fun, it just seemed like family. (I’ve attached a picture of the family from several years ago.) It was wonderful to be with them and watch the kids grow up – the oldest have now graduating from university studies or have moved to learn more farming skills on other properties around New Zealand. I wouldn’t trade that time or friendship for anything here on earth. (By the way, in the family there are four sets of twins – can you pick them out? Hint: they are all boy-girl twins – and no, the farm animals don’t count!)
The Gospels don’t tell us a great deal about Jesus’ family. Yet, when the gospel writers do mention his family, they give the impression that there was often tension between Jesus and his blood family and friends. In fact, in Mark’s Gospel is mentioned that there is even the suggestion by Jesus’ “friends” that He was insane (“Then he went home; and the crowd came to gather again, so that they could not even eat. And when his friends* heard it, they went out to seize him, for they said, “He is beside himself.” (Mark 3:19b – 21). *Some translations include the term “brothers and sisters” here).
In this morning’s gospel, Jesus’ family, including his mother, were standing outside where Jesus was speaking, anxious to have a word with him. They were trying to get his attention, perhaps even trying to get him home, away from the crowds that were always pursuing him. However, on this occasion Jesus stood his ground; he didn’t go with his family. Rather, he redefined who his family really were. He identifies his disciples as his family, and declares that all those who do the will of his heavenly Father are now his family.
As baptized disciples we are all brothers and sisters of the Lord, and of each other, and sons and daughters of God. This is the new family that Jesus came to form, and what distinguishes this family is the desire to do the will of God as Jesus has revealed it to us by his words and by his life. That is why, together, as members of the Lord’s family, Jesus invites us to pray the prayer he often prayed, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prayer

“Blessed God, aid my family members to have peace and unity with each other. Lord, please help each of my family members accept and practice the core values of our family for the betterment of us all.
Father, please let everybody feel loved and respected in the family. Let us be dedicated to the good of one another at all times. Dear Lord, let us not hold on to anger in our hearts for it will lead to resentment, bitterness and even hatred.
Teach us Father, how to solve our conflicts openly, honestly and promptly. Lord, please help us to be humble enough to admit our failures and to seek forgiveness, love and peace when we have done wrong to others. Dear Lord, please help each of us to find peace so as to maintain the unity of the family.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.”
Adapted from catholicreadings.org, 21 July 2020.

 

Monday, 20 July 2020
Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saint Apollinaris
Kia Ora!
I do want to apologize for not writing last week on Wednesday and Thursday. I had to make a quick trip to take care of some personal business and wasn’t able to attend to the writing. Rest assured, and thank you for the notes of concern as to my health, that I’m fine and all is well. I kept you in my prayers.
Not much to report on at the moment, but that’s not to say things aren’t busy – it’s just the more mundane “business” of parish life that is getting some long-needed attention.
As all of us continue to live through the summer, let us remember that each of us has a purpose and it is our relationship with God that will help us to discover what He created us to do and to be, regardless of age or ability. Let us together keep our faith alive, and even if we can’t be together, we can connect through prayer for each other.
God’s blessings for holiness and health,
Fr Bryan.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Micah 6:1-4; 6-8; Psalm 50; Matthew 12:38-42
“You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:8)
In 2013, a British band named One Direction came out with a song titled “The Story of My Life.” It was a bit odd to watch a member of One Direction, known as a “boy band” (meaning the members are young teenage boys) singing about “all that has happened” in their life – what, maybe all 15 years of their life? I thought it quite humorous watching the video (not that I did this on purpose, mind you, but in 2013 you couldn’t escape it) as the lead singer, Harry Styles, tacked up pictures of himself from a little boy until the ripe old age of 15. Of course I write this not belittling anyone’s life regardless of age, but I write it as a recognition that regardless of age, we have the ability to reflect on past experiences. It’s just that as we get older, we have a whole lot more to reflect on, and experience to guide us in a search for meaning to the events of the “story of my life.”
But even with our experience, we can often miss the significance of certain moments in life. They pass us by without our really coming to savour them. It is only looking back on them that we realize just how important those experiences were as we are not always fully present to what is happening in our lives.
In this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus points out that the people of his generation are failing to appreciate the significance of his presence among them. They are not fully present to the person He really is or to the significance of what He is really doing. Jesus mentions King Solomon and the prophet Jonah and declares that the people of the time of Solomon and of Jonah responded to their presence because the people recognized their significance. Yet, as Jesus declares, even though He is much greater than either Solomon or Jonah, His contemporaries are not taking him seriously. He is being asked to perform even more signs to “prove his credentials,” so to speak.
Yet the same Lord who is greater than Solomon and Jonah, greater than all the wise people and prophets of Israel, is present amongst us today. As John says in his Gospel, “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (John 1:14). The Lord is present to us in the “flesh” of life. This gives a great significance to all of our living, all of the “stories of our life,” especially to our encounters with others. This morning’s Gospel reading invites us to recognize the Someone “greater” who stands among us, very often unknown to us, and who comes to us in every moment of our lives, giving each moment eternal significance – whether we’re 15 years old or 95 years old.

Prayer
Thanks to you, Lord, for all that you have given me, for me. Jesus my Lord and Redeemer, my constant companion and brother, may I see You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow you more nearly each day. Amen.
Tuesday, 14 July 2020
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Isaiah 7:1-9; Psalm 48; Matthew 11:20-24
“Will you be exalted to heaven?” (Matthew 11:23)
One of the reasons people don’t like to fly – so they say – is that they are not in control of what is happening to the plane. It’s different from driving because they can be in control of the car, never mind that they are not in control of the other cars on the road – and it’s the “other car,” or more specifically the “interaction” between the two cars that cause the problems on the road. I can’t help but wonder if the ever-closer day of autonomous driving (the car is in control, not the human “behind the wheel”) will have the same effect: will people not want to “ride” in a car since they will no longer be in control?
Of course, with regard to our daily lives, we sometimes like to think of ourselves as being in control – as having everything “under control.” Yet, the reality is that in so many ways we are not in control. So much happens to us over which we have no control. Among other things, we cannot control how people respond to us. We can offer someone the gift of friendship, for example, but we have no control over whether or not they receive and accept that gift. The same works for apologies and requests for forgiveness: we can offer them, but there is no guarantee that they will be accepted. But that works both ways, doesn’t it? We can be offered an apology, but will we accept it? We know our Christian calling in this respect, and in that sense we are in control as to whether or not to offer it and weather or not to accept it if offered.
Even Jesus had no control over how other people responded to him. He brought people the gift of God’s presence but not everyone accepted that gift. Not everyone recognized Jesus as God visiting His people offering them freedom from sin and an everlasting life. In this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus laments the fact that the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum did not respond to his presence, in spite of the miracles that were done in their midst. Jesus suggests that the pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon would have been much more responsive to his presence. The fact that people were graced by the Lord did not necessarily mean that they responded to that grace.
You and I have been graced by the Lord in many ways. We have the gift of the Lord’s presence in his Word, in the sacraments, and even in each other. We spend our lives learning to respond to the many graces the Lord is always offering us. We are, however, in control as to whether we will accept them or reject them.

Prayer
Lord of all, in your mercy grant me all of Your graces, especially those that I have rejected through my carelessness and infidelity to your teachings and commands. Grant your grace to those who, through my fault, have lost their way. Guide me out of unfaithfulness and doubt so that I may serve you and your people. Amen.

Solution to Yesterday’s Scenario
According to the American Survival Guide, the priorities for survival in a similar situation to our scenario would be based on rescue and recovery first, with survival in the elements second, and third would be food/water. The items listed in our scenario should be ranked as follows from the most needed to least useful:
1. The Cosmetic Mirror: It reflects sunlight and is the most effective way of drawing attention to the group.
2. Top Coats (per person): Since our scenario took place in winter, protection against cool nights would be provided by the coats; they can also provide needed shade as a canopy if necessary (as we know desert sun can be intense any time of the year).
3. Water. Dehydration is more of a problem than food, especially in a desert climate.
4. Flashlight: Not as strong as reflected sunlight and the mirror, but it can be used for signalling at night as well as for other necessary activities during the night.
5. Parachute: Provides shelter during the day as well as being able to draw attention to overhead rescue teams.
6. Pen Knife. Can be used to cut open cactus for water, to cut rigging, etc.
7. Plastic Raincoat. Could be used to spread over a wash to collect water droplets from the dew (if any) to supplant the water supply
8. Pistol. Can be used to draw attention to the group and/or to secure food (wild animals) or to scare them off.
9. Sunglasses. Eye protection from sun and wind-blown sand.
10. Bandage Kit with Gauze. Can be used to take care of first aid issues and bleeding.
Again, these are the reasons of the “experts”; just because your list may have a different order doesn’t mean it was wrong, but it does help us to see that judgment is necessary in many aspects of life and ranking something as a priority is necessary in many aspects of life.
Recall my comments from yesterday about the difference between a game and an activity. Well, here are some comments that take the “game” of our scenario and turn it into an “activity.”
While the things of this world in some way help us to survive (those things in the list above, for example, would help the survivors of the crash), there are many things that don’t help (those things that were left to burn in the plane). For our spiritual well-being, God is our rescue and provides us with recovery from sin. In our scenario, the sunlight reflecting off the mirror is the best way to be rescued. In a spiritual sense, Jesus is the Light reflected from the Father who is our one and only Savior.
Monday, 13 July 2020
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saint Henry
We often hear about the “dog days” of summer but few know what the expression means. Some say that it signifies hot sultry days “not fit for a dog,” others suggest it’s the weather in which dogs go mad. The Dog Days of Summer describes the seemingly most oppressive period of summer, between July 3rd and August 11th each year, but of course in the desert Southwest, we could expand that calendar a bit longer – perhaps into September! So, where did the term come from…and what does it have to do with dogs?
The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that, during this time, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from any part of Earth as well as part of the constellation Canis Major, the “Greater Dog.” This is why Sirius is sometimes called the “Dog Star.”
In the summer, Sirius rises and sets with the Sun. On July 23rd, specifically, it is in conjunction with the Sun, and because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth, accounting for the long stretch of sultry weather. They referred to this time as diēs caniculārēs, or “dog days.” Thus, the term “Dog Days of Summer” came to mean the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun—July 3 to Aug. 11.
Of course, this is a “Northern Hemisphere” thing only…we didn’t have this sort of celestial alignment in the Southern Hemisphere. Regardless, the summer (February through early March “down there”) could be quite “doggish.”
Hope your “Dog Days” are holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Sourced and edited from The Farmer’s Almanac, 2001.
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Isaiah 10:1-17; Psalm 50; Matthew 10:34 – 11:1
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)
I was in charge of Freshman Orientation for our high school; on average we had about 700 incoming freshmen each year and needed to introduce them to the school before the first day. About a week before the start of school, myself and two other teachers would gather about 100 juniors and seniors to help with the orientation program.
Now, as I remember from my freshman orientation, nothing would be more boring than to gather in the auditorium and listen to a bunch of rules (as if anyone was listening…) from a bunch of adult teachers and administrators prattling on (seemingly endlessly) about what not to do in school. Boring with a capital “B”! So when given this project I knew it had to be something different. We would gather in the morning, have a big “rah-rah” welcome in the auditorium, play a few “competition” games (balloon pop relays, etc.) then “dismiss” into the classrooms where the freshmen would gather in groups of 10 or less with the leaders (juniors and seniors) and play some “games.” Of course they weren’t just games – they were lessons but we couldn’t call them that because the word “lesson” would immediately switch off any thought of having the group listen or participate. We would call them “activities” because the word “game” signifies there is no purpose to it other than to have fun, and “lesson” was out, so “activity” seemed to work best. There was a series of 10 activities spread out over two hours and the difficulty level would increase as the games went on. What the freshmen would get was the rules and regulations of the school interspersed though out the activities making them more palatable because they were coming from a peer instead of an adult. For the most part it worked well.
So, before I get into the reflection, I have a quick “activity” for you to engage in; it involves ranking things in order of importance in a given situation. Have fun with it and see how you do. (The “answer” will be included in tomorrow’s update.)
Activity
You’re flying in a small plane in late February on the Arizona/Mexico boarder and the engine goes out and the pilot says that she is going to have to land the plane in the desert below, about 30 miles from the nearest town. The plane skids along the desert floor and slams into a big rock and the pilot and 3 other passengers (but not you) are ejected from the plane, injured, but still alive. You are still in your seat (unhurt, but shaken up) in what is left of the plane and unbuckle your seat belt to get out. There is a fire that is starting to consume the plane and you need to get out quickly but you see that there are a few things close by that you can grab and toss out of the plane to help with survival chances for all of you, but the time is short as the fire is very hot and rapidly consuming the aircraft.
Rank these items in the order of most important to least that you can grab:
  • Flashlight
  • Pen knife
  • Plastic Rain Coat (Large)
  • Bandage Kit with
  • Gauze
  • Pistol (.45 Caliber, loaded)
  • Parachute (white/red)
  • 1 Litre of water, per person
  • 1 Pair of Sunglasses, per person
  • 1 Coat, per person
  • 1 Cosmetic mirror
Have fun. Work with someone else if you want to…

Reflection
The Lord, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, in today’s first reading makes a very powerful statement. He declares that all the worship of the Temple in Jerusalem is unacceptable to him if it is not accompanied by a search for justice and by a readiness to help the oppressed and the most vulnerable. This message is very much in keeping with the two basic commandments of the Jewish Law, which are inseparable one from the other, the commandment to love God with all one’s being and to love our neighbour as ourselves, especially our vulnerable neighbour. We give expression to our love of God by worshiping God and by loving those whom God loves.
The life of Jesus is in complete harmony with these teachings of the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus was a person of deep prayer and also a person who sought justice for others and who befriended the most vulnerable. In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that we are to love him above everyone (and everything) else; we are to prefer Him more even than those for whom we have the strongest natural affection, such as our parents. Yes, there is a ranking and the Lord is to be our first love. Yet, Jesus goes on to identify himself with his disciples declaring, “anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me,” and saying that “anyone who gives so much as a cup of cold water” to his disciples will not lose their reward. The Lord comes to us through his followers, especially through what he calls the “little ones” among his disciples, those most likely to be dismissed by society as “unimportant” or worse, “unwanted.”
Later in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus declares that he comes to us through the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, the imprisoned, whether they are his disciples or not. We love the Lord through loving others; but we are to worship the Lord and we do that in prayer and with our lives precisely because He is to be first in our ranking of what is important in our lives. Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans speaks of our “spiritual worship” which consists not only in presenting our bodies, but our whole selves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). This kind of worship will always find expression both in prayer and in the loving service of others.

Prayer
Dear Lord, you know that I love you, even when I fail to show it through my actions and words. Help me to consistently put you first in my life so that I can properly place others after you and before me, and be in loving service to You and them.
Amen.
Thursday, 9 July 2020
Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial Saint Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions
Kia Ora!
Knowing how much I enjoyed the wild weather of New Zealand, and this time of year the winter weather can be quite wild and unpredictable, a good friend sent an email with regard to their current weather: cold! Well, not Minnesota cold, but for New Zealand, high temperatures in the mid 30’s is cold. And there is snow on the “ranges” (the nearby mountains) and with a dusting of white on the incredible green of the landscape, it is quite beautiful. (I’ve included a picture for you to ponder on this warm day and upcoming weekend; God certainly does create some beauty in the world…)
I won’t be writing tomorrow, so please have a cool, safe, healthy, and holy weekend.
God’s blessings,
Fr. Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Hosea 11:1-4; 8,9; Psalm 80; Matthew 10:7-15
“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
Today’s first reading from the prophet Hosea is surely one of the most beautiful readings in all of the Jewish Scriptures. God speaks of his relationship with his people Israel a loving parent would speak of a relationship with his or her children: “I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms… I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him food.” Yet, in spite of such tender love, Israel turned away from God and went after other gods.
Jesus is the fullest revelation possible in a human life of this tender love of God. He too experienced the turning away of people from such love with their refusal to respond to it in any meaningful way. When Jesus sends out his disciples as in today’s Gospel reading, He warns them to expect the same. They are to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand and the reign of God’s life-giving love, but they will encounter those who will not welcome them and will not listen to what they have to say. This negative response is not to deter them from their mission of proclaiming God’s loving presence by what they say and do. It certainly did not deter Jesus. When He suffered the ultimate rejection on the cross, he proclaimed the same good news as risen Lord to those who had turned away from him and rejected him. And the same is true for us; we too are to reveal the loving presence of God, regardless of how we are received by others.

Prayer
Blessed are you, Lord God, blessed are you for ever.
Holy is your name and great is your mercy for your children.
Blessed are you for ever.
Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
As we continue to move through this chapter in world history, and especially in relation to the health factors that are influencing our lives at the moment, I wanted to offer the opportunity for information regarding some assistance that has come from the City of Phoenix through the Foundation for Senior Living (FSL). While you may not need or be in a position to take advantage of it, you may know of someone who could and so feel free to pass on this information.
Rent/Mortgage and Utility Assistance Available to City of Phoenix Residents
The Foundation for Senior Living’s Care by Design team has funding available to help City of Phoenix residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. These funds were allocated to City of Phoenix under the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This new program, called “Phoenix COVID-19 Program,” is offered through December 30, 2020 and provides one-time assistance with rent/mortgage and/or utility bills (APS, SRP, SW Gas, City of Phoenix Water).
Attached are two flyers for your review regarding this program.
Also, on a similar note, I do want to thank you for your cooperation in helping your parish to be able to offer the Mass publicly on a daily basis. We cannot take for granted that we can do this; there are diocese around the country (and world) that have once again suspended the offering of the Mass to their parishioners. While I have not heard of any movement for our Diocese to follow suit, we must be aware that the Diocese of Phoenix has asked us to follow the guidelines not only of the Diocese, but of the city and state as well. As such, I have posted a reminder for all of us to adhere. The City of Phoenix with the endorsement of the State of Arizona currently requires the following:
All persons over the age of two must wear facial covering “outside the home” (unless certain medical conditions exist that prevent this; see the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona websites for more information). Specifically for our parish, this includes anytime someone is on campus for Mass, Adoration, visiting the office, or on site for a meeting.
Distancing protocols (remaining 6 feet apart except for family groupings) are to be in place at public gatherings. Additionally, and for us as a religious entity, the State restricts the number of people to 10 or less for events other than for the religious “service” (in our case, the Mass). As such, and while in this phase, any event outside of the Mass (including devotional gatherings and meetings on campus) are limited to 10 persons including the facilitator.
Anyone who is feeling ill or has symptoms of the virus or, if asymptomatic and has had contact with someone who is symptomatic, is not to enter the campus and should remain home.
All Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix are exempt from the Sunday and Holy Day Obligation to attend the Mass; it is a personal decision to attend or not to do so (“free will” – see the reflection below.)
Remember that attending the Mass is optional; there are risks involved anytime someone goes into the public arena, but we have taken steps over and above those required in an attempt to provide a safe and clean environment for all to work and worship. Your help in adopting the guidelines listed above will help to ensure that Blessed Sacrament can be a place of worship for all who come here.
Last week, we dropped the announcements at the Sunday Mass with regard to the policies and procedures that have been adopted by our parish in response to the government authorities and guidelines by the Diocese of Phoenix. I am happy to say that for the most part, all went well and we will continue to offer the Holy Mass daily and on Sunday without these announcements. In their place, however, during the announcement at the beginning of the Holy Mass on Sunday, a very short reminder with regard to facial coverings and distancing practices will be included. Additionally, we will not be staffing a “monitoring station” but will be relying on personal discernment with a charitable heart of all who come here to comply with these mandates from government authorities and Diocesan policies. As signs have been posted at every entrance to every building on campus, and announcements have been made and reminders have been sent out many times in our communication, the message has been “out there” for quite some time and is no secret with regard to our policies and compliance. Again, we don’t want to be in danger of losing the ability to gather for the Holy Mass, nor should we want to needlessly endanger the health – and lives – of others in this time of extreme anxiety and division. I count on your good heart and discernment in this matter.
May God continue to bless you and your family, and keep you holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Brochures for City of Phoenix Aid Program

English – Phoenix COVID 19 Program.pdf
Spanish -Phoenix COVID 19 Program.pdf

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Hosea 10:1-3, 7, 8, 12; Psalm 105; Matthew 10:1-7
“Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.” (Matthew 10:7)
Every team that I’ve ever been a part of – in sports, in business, in volunteer committees, etc., there has been a mixed group of people of varying skills, abilities, and personal backgrounds. Some of the groups are small and some are large, but there was a task to be accomplished. Sometimes there was no one on the team to do a particular job because they didn’t feel they had the skill or experience necessary to do the task at hand, or perhaps because of fear of failure. Sometimes the groups were very supportive of individual efforts, sometimes not. Perhaps you’ve been a part of a team or group and have experienced these variables as well.
As a student, I detested “group work.” Usually there were one or more other students who didn’t want to contribute to the work, and quickly it seemed that one of the “smart kids” would end up doing most of the work. (I’m not going to identify which part of the group I usually fell into…). As a teacher, “group work” became known as “collaborative learning” and while its merits with regard to coursework can be debated, it does relate to our experience in life as we “collaborate” with people to get things done in the business world as well as in parish life.
Our Gospel reading reflects a “collaborative learning” experience as Jesus has been gathering a growing number of disciples since the beginning of his public ministry. According to today’s gospel reading, from this larger group Jesus called twelve to whom he gave authority and power to share in his healing ministry. The number twelve was significant as it is a reminder of the twelve tribes of Israel. This group of twelve were to symbolize the renewed Israel that Jesus was working to form. The Twelve were chosen very deliberately. They were to receive intensive training and instruction so as to share in His ministry in a special way apart from the other disciples. Yet, by the end of the gospel, every member of this group had deserted him: the first one mentioned of the group, Peter, denied him publicly; the last mentioned, Judas Iscariot, had betrayed him to his enemies. In spite of the fact that these twelve had been given special authority and power and had spent more time in his company than others, listening to him and seeing what he did, they failed him when the cross came into view. They were not faithful to their calling. In the words of today’s first reading, their hearts were divided.
God calls people of every land and nationality to serve; of course, he cannot force us to respond to His call any more than He can force the angels to do so (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:7-9). Although God has a purpose for our lives, God does not thwart our refusal to co-operate with His purpose for us. Yet, in the Gospel story, the failure of the twelve was not the end of their relationship with Jesus. After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples in Galilee and renewed his relationship with them, sending them out to preach the Gospel to all nations. The Lord remains faithful to us in spite of our unfaithfulness to him and He is always at work to bring some good out of our failures. All he asks is that, in the words of today’s psalm, we continue to “seek always the face of the Lord.”

Prayer
Lord, I thank you for the free will that you have given me to make choices in this world. Through this free will, may my choices always reflect your desire for me and for the good of your creation. Amen.
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Jesus says in today’s Gospel that “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:38). You and I know this – we see it daily in our Church in that the number of priests and religious has declined over the last few generations. But in the place of these religious orders and ordained ministers, God has raised up some incredible people to “labor” for the harvest. It’s actually hard to miss them as long as we focus on what can and is being done, instead of what can’t and isn’t being done. On the grand scale, the media (radio and TV) has never had more evangelical Catholic programming reaching a wide and diverse audience around the globe; there are an incredible number of charities doing good work (and people volunteering time and talent to help) in communities all over the world, and certainly in our parish there are some wonderful volunteers who also give generously to advance the mission of the parish and the Church. So yes, the harvest is abundant, and while the laborers are few, they are out there working for the Lord in varied ministries and missions in the Church and parish.
This isn’t to say that we can sit back and rest on someone else’s back because the work is being accomplished. There are so many opportunities right here in our own parish to be involved, and while the current situation surrounding COVID is present and will most likely be with us for a while longer, it won’t be forever. This is a good time to prayerfully consider what you can offer our Lord when all of us can come together again without fearing for our health, and join in the pool of laborers who are working for the Lord. And even if not physically or materially able to participate in some activity, prayer is always of great support to those who are able to participate. And please continue to pray for men to respond to the priesthood and for women to respond to religious or consecrated life. We all need them to be not only witnesses to God’s love and their vocation to the Lord, but to be sources of inspiration as well as providing the sacraments to all who labor.
God’s blessings to you all.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13; Psalm 115; Matthew 9:32-38
“The crowds were amazed and said, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.’”
It was only a 35 minute flight, usually full with 149 people on board, and it was at lunchtime. Flying from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon the flight attendant in First Class would get the 12 passengers their choice of meal and drinks while the three remaining flight attendants in the economy cabin would offer everyone on board a ham sandwich and a cookie, and get them the beverage of choice. Talk about fast food! What would amaze me, though, was the grumbling that would go on from a few of the passengers about the sandwich, or the cookie, or the drink selection (we didn’t have time to collect money for the alcoholic drinks, so we stuck to the usual soft drinks, juices, tea or coffee in economy); but most of the passengers were shocked, commenting “We’ve never seen this before – even on our ‘hometown’ airline Alaska,” an airline known for its good service. Most passengers were complimentary about the service – rushed as it was – but there were a few who just had to complain. I guess it is all about perspective.
There is a sharp contrast in this morning’s Gospel reading between the way the ordinary people responded to Jesus’ healing ministry and the way the Pharisees responded. The people said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” The Pharisees said, “It is through the prince of devils that he casts out devils.” The people saw God at work in what Jesus was doing; the Pharisees saw Satan at work in Jesus’ healing work. It is hard to imagine a more contrasting set of responses surrounding the same incident.
This episode brings home to us that when people look at the same phenomenon, they can see it very differently. The “ordinary” people, in contrast to the Pharisees, were attuned to the presence and action of God in Jesus. In this way, the Gospel reading invites us to ask ourselves, “To what extent am I alert to the presence of God all around me, especially in the good that other people may be doing?” We can be prone to seeing what is lacking in one situation or another and to miss the good that is also being done. We can be better at naming what is wrong than what is right. We can be more attuned to noticing evil rather than the good.
While never being blind to evil and sin, the Gospel reading encourages us to be open to the ways that the Lord is at work in our lives and in the lives of others around us. The Lord himself was sensitive to the good in others, even when they failed to see it for themselves, and others failed to see it in Him. We need something of the Lord’s generous way of seeing, especially in these times when the negative can be highlighted to the detriment of everything else.
Consider, for example, the Holy Mass. Most people who come to the Mass do so to receive the most precious gift God has given us: His Son in the Eucharist. Then there are a few who, while intending to do the same, focus instead on what is “wrong” with the Mass – be it “that person over there,” or the extended length of the homily, or the errors in the liturgy, or whatever other disappointment may draw their attention. In our Gospel, the Pharisees even accused Jesus of cooperating with the devil – they were so focused on the judgement of the physical person of Jesus that they missed what God provided through Him: miracles, wisdom, and love.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, when we come to the Holy Mass let us not focus on the “failings” of the people at the Mass (including the clergy, volunteers, and “that person over there…”), but instead on the great gift we have been given by none other than God Himself: His only begotten Son. And then, let us see not human deficiency around us, but instead let us see Christ in everyone we meet and engage in the beauty of the liturgy.

Prayer
Father, you have given us your Word for us to live by and be an example for us to emulate. You and I know my failings, let me not look for the failings of others but to see what you see in them and to love them as you love me. Amen.
Monday, 6 July 2020
Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: St Maria Goretti
Let’s start with a little fun.
A friend of mine sent me a funny meme (a meme is an updated version of a comic panel that used to appear in a newspaper, but that today is a virtually transmitted image embellished with text) of Queen Elizabeth II (the current monarch of Great Britain) with a bit of a sour face and the words “Happy Treason Day” emboldened on it. Of course it is a reference as to how Her Majesty might feel about the 4th of July – the day when the colonies claimed independence from “mother England,” but in reality we know it’s just fun as she herself is reported to a bit of a wry sense of humour. In fact, living in New Zealand (still a member of the Commonwealth of Great Britain), we often would get messages on special holidays from the Queen to her “subjects” that were uplifting and – get this – even mention her faith in God! On occasion, she would even would talk of the close relationship that Britain has with the United States and that these “great countries” have come together in tough times to support each other and to be grateful for the God-given resources that we share. So while the meme was quite humourous, I don’t think she harbours any resentment (but just in case, I used some of the Queen’s English in my spelling!)
Anyway, I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and were able to participate in some of the festivities – be it a celebration with the grand fireworks displays around the Valley or a backyard BBQ, and took some time to pray for our country that it survives the current division and strife and emerges stronger and grows together in unity so that it can continue to be called the United States of America. I have included a prayer from the Catholic Digest that can be said anytime (and now more than ever!).
I will “borrow” some words from the New Zealand national anthem to close: “May God defend our free land.”
Fr Bryan
Prayer for the United States of America
God our Father, giver of life, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care. You are the rock on which this nation was founded. You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Reclaim this land for your glory and dwell among your people.
Send your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation’s leaders. Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Remind your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing your will.
Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.” Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.
From Catholic Digest online: http://www.catholicdigest.com/

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Hosea 2:16-18, 21, 22; Psalm 145; Matthew 9:18-26
“When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.” (Matthew 9:26)
There are moments in this life that we build up high expectations for the outcome or the experience. Sometimes our expectations are met, or if lucky they are exceeded, and sometimes we’re disappointed. Whether it be going to a new restaurant that has been highly rated, a family gathering, or a much anticipated entertainment event, it is our human nature to hope for an engaging and joyful time in something we have been planning or looking forward to. When it works out, we feel great and fulfilled. When it doesn’t, we’re disappointed and perhaps empty.
In the gospel reading this morning, two people approach Jesus for healing. One of them, a synagogue official, asks Jesus to come and touch his daughter who has just died, by laying his hands on her. The other, a woman who has suffered for many years with bleeding, comes to touch Jesus for herself. As noted in the description of the incident, she limits herself to touching the fringe of his cloak. Both the official and the woman recognize the healing power of touching Jesus or being touched by Jesus.
I wonder sometimes if the woman with the hemorrhage might not have had a bit of trepidation in her approach of Jesus. In another account of the incident, in Luke’s Gospel, he mentions that during those twelve years of bleeding that she went to many doctors and ran out of money doing so. Perhaps her disappointment and emptiness from these incidents is what led to seek to “only touch His cloak” as she set her expectations low; or perhaps it was quite the opposite in that her expectations were high in that all she needed to do was to in fact “touch His cloak” in order to be cured. Regardless, she was able to come and touch Jesus for herself. Of course, the daughter of the official could not come to Jesus for help because she had died, and so her father came to Jesus on her behalf and asked Him to come and touch her.
Both of these people, the official and the woman, speak of the two ways that we ourselves often approach Jesus. Like the woman, we often come before him in our own need, seeking to touch the Lord in faith, in the Sacraments, and/or in our prayer, even if our past experiences of coming to the Lord haven’t yielded the response we were hoping for. But still we come to Him. Like the official, we sometimes come before the Lord in prayer, interceding with Him for others, asking him to come into the life of someone who is dear to us. Both forms of prayer – the prayer for our own needs and the prayer for others – are expressions of our faith in the life-giving touch of Jesus. Whether we come before the Lord in the guise of the official or in the guise of the woman, we will be opening up ourselves and those for whom we pray to the Lord’s life-giving and healing presence. Either way, we have a set of expectations, but we must remember that our expectations may not be aligned with what the good Lord has sorted out in His Divine Will. The key for us is to accept what happens and, in faith, know that God has our best interests at heart.

Prayer
Father, you know every sparrow and hair on my head. After all, you created the sparrow and you created me. I know that you are near me in the Tabernacles of the world, you come into me in the Eucharist, and in your mercy you hear and answer my prayers. Help me to have realistic expectations and to accept your Divine Providence as the answers to my prayers. Amen.
Thursday, 2 July 2020
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
As we head toward the celebration of Independence Day, it is interesting to note that the Scripture today is about the opposite: dependence day – the day a crippled man was dependent upon others to bring him to independence – the ability to walk and perhaps even to work.
Students of history would note that in the early years of the formation of this country that the fledgling colonies were quite dependent on “Mother England” for their well-being and protection. It’s much like that when we are children – we need our parents for our own well-being and protection. And there comes a point in life when we need to make our own way in the world, and such was the case with the colonies. It wasn’t easy, and lives were impacted and lost. There is always a cost to independence, just as there is a cost to dependence. And we never stop paying the price for either.
I write this reflection about Independence Day a few days early because I will not be writing these updates from Friday through Sunday this week, but I thought it important to recognize this special day in the history of the United States. In that one word in the title of this country, “United,” comes an understanding that it is union – a dependence – that we all must strive to develop and maintain. I know that the rancor and unrest that has gripped the nation over the past few months will most likely intensify as we work through this election cycle, the virus, and the civil discontent that is working its way through the nation. It is important, however, to remember that in the 244 years since the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at the Pennsylvania State House (now known as Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, this nation has gone through some tumultuous times and has survived. There was the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the War of 1812, a small pox epidemic (1837-1838), the Civil War (1861-1865), World War I (U.S. entry in 1917-1918), the Spanish Flu (1918-1920), the Great Depression (1929 – ~1935), World War II (U.S. entry in 1941-1945), the Cold War (1947-1995), the Korean War (1950-1953), Civil Rights unrest (1954-1968); the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Hong Kong flu (1968-1970), the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the resulting war in Afghanistan, and the Swine Flu (2008-2010). I’m certain that you could add others to the list.
The reason I mention all of this is that in our life, we tend to concentrate on recent history – our frame of reference is only that of the time we are living and perhaps a bit of recollection from that of our parents and grandparents on what life was like for them. The point is that while I in no way diminish the troubles facing our country and world, it isn’t possible for us in 2020 to know the personal cost for the fight for independence, the devastation of the Civil War or the 1889 flu pandemic that witnessed the death of over a million people at that time. But as a nation, we have survived all of these and will survive the current situation. Yes, things will be different – things are always different as tomorrow will be different than today.
Edmund Burke wrote in a letter to Thomas Mercer, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [people] to do nothing.” This is just as true for the battle for our country in 1776 as it is for the battle of our Catholic faith in 2020. I urge you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to unite together to battle evil in its present form: fear and despair. Evil abounds in the realm of fear and despair. Did you know that in the Bible it mentions “do not fear” or “do not be afraid” 365 times? That’s God telling us every day to not give in to the devil. Together in Christ we can see this present trouble through and survive as a great nation once again, united in Christ – not united in fear and despair.
May you receive God’s Grace in abundance,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Amos 7:10-17; Psalm 19; Matthew 9:1-8
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.'” (Matthew 9:2)
Okay, another airplane analogy. I have always marveled at the “symphony” that goes on around getting a passenger airliner ready to fly. The next time you get to the gate to wait to board your airplane, watch out the window to the plane and look at all that goes on from the moment the plane gets to the gate to until it pushes back from the gate. What you will see are many people working around the plane: the baggage is offloaded, the catering truck comes up to restock supplies and put some food and drink onboard, the cabin service team is ready to go aboard to freshen the cabin, the fueling truck rolls up, the lavatory service truck empties the tanks and recharges the fluids, mechanics check over the plane and fix any trouble spots, a pilot walks around for the pre-flight inspection – and that’s just what you can see. Somewhere in the airport, the operations center is calculating the weight-and-balance statistics to make sure the plane is loaded correctly and not too heavy to take off, the flight plan is filed so the air traffic control system is ready to track and monitor the aircraft along the way, the pilots are briefed on the weather and any other operational considerations, the flight attendants discuss their service plan, and data is entered into the computer systems and passenger manifests are created as people check-in for the flight. And it continues with other dedicated professionals who fly the plane and air traffic controllers who guide it through the air to its destination where it starts all over for the next flight. Each worker has to have faith in the other that they do their job correctly and with integrity, and so do the passengers trust in the crew and all who work to get the aircraft airborne. Most of this is accomplished on time, in less than an hour, thousands of time a day (in 2019, 44,000 flights a day in the U.S. alone), and without incident or loss of life. It is a testament to all of the people who work in the airline industry to carry a person from point A to point B without tragedy. You and I have to have faith that it all gets done each time we board an airplane.
Our faith is a bit like this in that there are times when we need the hard work and faith of others to carry us because our own faith is weak or perhaps non-existent at times. This is how most of us began our Christian lives. It was the faith of our parents that carried us to the baptismal font as we had no faith of our own when young. Not only did the faith of our parents do this, but the faith of others carried us to the Lord through religious education and others have witnessed to their faith by the way they conducted their lives.
We find something similar happening in today’s gospel reading. A paralyzed man is carried to Jesus by the faith of others. The gospel reading says that when the people brought the paralytic to Jesus, he saw their faith. While no distinction is made to discuss who the “their” referred to, it is obvious that the faith of those who carried the paralytic is what Jesus responded to. The opening words of Jesus to the paralytic suggest that, far from being full of faith, he was in need of God’s forgiveness: “Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.”
For us, and having been carried by the faith of others at the beginning of our Christian lives and through the formative years, there will come a time when we will be called upon to carry others by our faith. We were initially brought to the Lord by the faith others; as we grow older, the Lord will often call us to bring others to the Him by our faith. Our faithfulness along with the way we conduct our lives sends out its own messages that touch the lives of others. More specifically, the Lord works through our faith to bring others to Him, just as did the friends of the paralyzed man bring him to the Lord. It is important that we recognize our faith (or lack of it) is never without an impact on others – what we say – or don’t say, how we say it or don’t say it, what we do or don’t do is always broadcast to others and reflects our own faith – or lack of it.
Every one of the people that were mentioned above – and others – were needed to put that airplane in the air. You and I are needed to put others to flight toward the Lord.

Prayer
Father, I fly unto you to increase what faith I have. I pray for faith the size of a mustard seed so that for You, I can move mountains. But whatever I can do, may it be for You, and that others see the good that You do through me. Amen.
Wednesday, 1 July 2020
Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial of Saint Junípero Serra
Welcome to July – halfway through 2020!
As I noted in yesterday’s update, there are a few changes that will be noticed going forward for the new fiscal year. Today I thought I would mention a few of the liturgical changes that will be adopted for the 2020/2021 fiscal year:
1. Due to cutbacks in payroll, it has been necessary to reduce the number of paid musicians that have been with us for a considerable amount of time. Rest assured that Mike Barta remains with us, but you may notice that they variety of instruments being used at Mass has changed.
2. Along with this change, the Sunday 7.00a Mass will no longer have music included in the liturgy as these limited resources are being used at other times.
3. The Missalette will not be restocked for the next liturgical year. The current issue has already been removed due to the sanitization restrictions, and as the cost of supplying these items is several thousand dollars to the parish, it was necessary to not fund this worship aid for the next cycle. Parishioners are welcome to purchase their own copy (various vendors and Catholic stores have them available) and bring it to Mass as desired.
With regard to our compliance with the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona’s orders with regard to facial coverings and other protections, I thought I would review the compliance protocols that we at Blessed Sacrament have put in place:
1. All persons who are symptomatic or who are not feeling well, as well as anyone who has come into contact with someone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 are not to enter campus.
2. All persons over the age of two while on campus, including the church and Adoration Chapel, are to wear facial coverings at all times unless exempted by law while in the building; click this link for more information:
https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/em-and-hs/1353
3. Proper distancing must be maintained when using the facilities, at Mass, in the Adoration Chapel, visiting the office, or transiting from a building to the parking lot. Families (members living in the same household) are exempt within their own grouping.
On a side note, our “mister” or “fogger” (equipment that fogs large spaces with bio-acceptable disinfectant) has arrived and has been tested in the church and the hall. This equipment will operate overnight to sanitize the space as yet another layer of protection for all who choose to worship at Blessed Sacrament. This is a welcome addition to our efforts to maintain a healthy environment in compliance with and exceeding recommendations by authorities.
Again, I thank you for your patience, understanding, and cooperation in these matters. While this may be a temporary inconvenience for most of us, we trust in Divine Providence that we will pass through this challenging time by sacrificing some personal comfort for the charitable benefit for others. May God continue to bless us all, and keep you and your family holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Amos 5:14-15, 21-24; Psalm 50; Matthew 8:28-34
“Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.” (Matthew 8:34)
As the “Parish Administrator” of the Tararua parishes in New Zealand, once a quarter the parish and school would celebrate the Sunday Mass together. (Yes, it should have been every Sunday, but that’s a whole different story for another day…) For me, this was an opportunity to “introduce” the beauty of the Catholic Church to the parents of the students who rarely (if ever) came to Mass. My thought was that a bit of “promotion” of the faith would be good for them – the daily barrage of the news media that was quick to point out the faults of the Church – let alone the abandonment of the tenets of the faith by some clergy and hierarchical figures in the Church in New Zealand – had taken a toll on the faith in Aotearoa New Zealand to the point where 52% of the population claims to be atheist. Anyway, having been familiar with a fabulous organization known as the Catholics Come Home Network, I decided to run a video produced by them before Mass to show our attendees the “good deeds” of the Church throughout the world. The side effect, I hoped, was that the younger generations (Millennials and “Gen Zed”) who like to be identified with organizations that are seen to “do good” in the world would hopefully identify with the Catholic faith. The video was very well done – and I would receive comments from all age groups saying, “I didn’t know the Church did that” – whatever the “that” was. So at least they were listening! (I have a link to the short video, as well as to the Catholics Come Home Network, below.)
But as we know, not all good deeds are accepted, which brings me to today’s Gospel reading and particularly to the strange ending. Jesus had just healed two very disturbed people (demoniacs). They were described as so fierce that nobody could pass near them and as such, they address Jesus very aggressively: “What do you want with us, Son of God?” Even their fierceness and aggressiveness did not deter Jesus from ministering to them – He released them from the evil spirits that had left them so disturbed. What Jesus did was to restore their humanity. Yet, in response to Jesus’ life-giving work, the whole town implored him to leave their neighbourhood. It seems that the local people were more comfortable with having two very disturbed people about than they were with a display of God’s healing power.
Jesus’ liberating ministry did not always meet with welcome and faith. The same is often true of the ministry of the Church. The Church’s work on behalf of the well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable, does not always meet with a welcoming response. Sometimes our own efforts to do what is best for the well-being of others does not always meet with a welcoming response either. Our efforts to share in the Lord’s liberating ministry, especially with “fallen away” children, siblings, friends, etc., will often leave us exposed to the same negative response as Jesus experienced. Yet, the Lord remained faithful to the good work that God had sent him to do. We, as members of the church, are called to that same faithfulness. We try to keep doing the Lord’s life-giving work, regardless of how it is received by others. And never give up. Never.

Prayer
Father, I am often discouraged by what I see in this world because it seems that so many people have turned away from You. They are not bad people, I know this, but I want them to come to know You and your love the way I do. Through your Holy Spirit, keep me faithful to Your mission, do not let me succumb to apathy toward my faith or the lack of faith of others, and keep me always ready to help others come to know You. Amen.

Catholics Come Home Network
At the website of this non-profit organization (started years locally, but now operating nationally) there are some incredible videos and resources to help “Catholics come home.” If you know of anyone who might benefit by the testimonials or information contained within the website, be sure to pass it along.
Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXg91sK5KAs
Website:
https://www.catholicscomehome.org/
Tuesday, 30 June 2020
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Hello all.
As the last day of the fiscal year has arrived, and the new one starts tomorrow, I thought I might take a moment to update you on some changes for our parish for the new fiscal year.
As you know if you’ve been reading these updates for the past few months, the parish income has been impacted by the current situation in which we live and operate. Many of you have been more than generous with your treasure, and others have kept up their regular tithing and still others are contributing with one-time gifts, all of which are very much appreciated by me and the staff, we have had to analyze the budget for next year (starting tomorrow, 1 July) and with consultations with the parish Finance Council and the Finance Manager, some trends emerged and have forced us to reduce our payroll by $100,000 and other expenses in addition to this amount. Here’s a bit of a summary for your review:
1. Reduced payroll, including reducing hours of some employees and salary adjustments for others, both of which we hope are temporary measures but will help manage the liquidity we need to maintain a proper cash cushion for operations and creditors.
2. Reduced office hours will remain in effect with closure on Friday and Sunday until further notice.
3. Reduce staffing levels including the elimination of some positions and the reassignment of duties.
4. Reduced or postponement of certain capital expenditures.
5. Assessment of programs and events that have cost money and eliminate, postpone, or adjust those that cannot sufficiently cover the costs of offering them.
These measures relate to budgetary items; over the next few days, I will provide some details as to the areas impacted by these decisions so that you have a better understanding of your parish’s situation. While we are not desperate or in financial trouble, and we feel that what we have done is the best guess with regard to projections for the upcoming fiscal year, all of this is, of course, is subject to change and depends on our ability to function at current levels given the virus and other considerations. Your generosity of time, talent, and treasure has brought the parish through many other challenges, and we are certainly in demanding times of uncertainty. With your prayers and continued support, I have no doubt we will weather this storm with Jesus in our midst.
God’s blessings to all,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12; Psalm 5; Matthew 8:23-27
“Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea…” (Matthew 8:23)
As we all know, things can change without much warning. We’ve certainly been living that way since late January with regard to the virus, then the violence, and so on. Today’s Gospel reminds me of an incident where life changed in an instant for many New Zealanders at 10.21 p.m. on Christmas Eve in 1953. The Wellington–Auckland night express train plunged into the flooded Whangaehu River (check your pronunciation: Whangaehu is pronounced Fong-ah-EH-who) at the base of an active volcano called Ruapahu (Rue-ah-PAY-who) in the central North Island near Tangiwai (pronounced TANG-ee-why-ee, which means “weeping waters” in Maori). Of the 285 passengers and crew on board, 151 died in New Zealand’s worst railway accident to date. With New Zealand’s population at just over two million at the time, many people had a direct relationship with someone involved in the tragedy.
The weather on that Christmas Eve was fine and there had been little rain. There was no indication that the Whangaehu River would be in flood. A freight train had crossed the bridge around 7.00p and the river had appeared normal to the crew on that train. What transformed this situation, however, was the sudden release of approximately 70 million cubic feet of water from the crater lake of nearby Mt Ruapehu when the wall of the crater dissolved during a shaking by the forces of the volcano. The resultant wave, known as a lahar, produced an 18-foot high wave of water, ice, mud and rocks which surged tsunami-like down the Whangaehu River until, sometime between 10.10 and 10.15 p.m. it struck the concrete pylons of the Tangiwai railway bridge. Travelling at approximately 40 miles per hour, the locomotive and its train of nine carriages and two vans reached the severely weakened bridge. As the bridge buckled beneath the weight of the crossing train, the engine plunged into the river, taking all five second-class carriages with it. The force of the torrent destroyed four of these carriages with little chance of survival for those inside.
The gospel reading today suggests that the onset of a particular storm on the Sea of Galilee was sudden – “without warning a storm broke over the lake.” We know from our own life experience that our own personal circumstances can change without warning. We can suddenly find ourselves in the midst of some physical tragedy or a raging personal storm. One moment or day all is well; the next moment or day we are in crisis, just as was the case for those souls on the train.
To that extent, the Gospel reading this morning speaks to our own personal experience. Matthew’s way of telling the story of the storm at sea links it much more closely to the experience of the people who made up the Church than Mark’s way of telling the same story. The cry of the disciples in Matthew’s account, “Save us, Lord, we are going down” is very much the cry of those for whom Matthew was writing his Gospel – and might be similar wording to what we use when we, too, are in crisis. Matthew seeks to reassure us that the Lord will respond to such a cry; our prayer for help in vulnerable times will not go unanswered. The Lord is stronger than the storm that threatens, and in turning towards the Lord, we will draw from his strength.
Several of the survivors of the train wreck commented on how, in the darkness and confusion amidst the debris and mud, they called out to the Lord in prayer as well. Certainly we cannot know why some were chosen to live and some were victims in the incident mentioned any more than we can know why a certain incident or event befalls us in this life. What we can be sure of, however, is knowing that He is near when we are in trouble.

Prayer
In our storm-tossed boat of life on earth, help me to trust in you, Lord, and learn the lesson that you taught the disciples in the boat on the sea that to you, whom the “winds and the sea obey” that you are the one who can provide “great calm” when I am in trouble. Amen.
Monday, 29 June 2020
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Solemnity: St Peter and St Paul
Kia Ora ma e hoa ma (“Hello good friends” in Te Reo)
I’m not sure I can fathom this, but the month of June is coming to a close – already! Tomorrow is the last day of the month as well as the last day of the parish fiscal year – and the 2019/2020 fiscal year has certainly been unique for all of us, and will continue to be unique in the history of the world for a while to come.
As I write this, Governor Ducey has taken further action with regard to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and in his executive order today, he has ordered certain businesses to shut down beginning tonight at 8.00p for a period of one month. Although he mentions “large gatherings,” he does not mention religious services in particular. As such, Blessed Sacrament will continue to function as we have over the past few weeks unless we are given specific instruction to the contrary.
In review, we have instituted the following measures with regard to our operations:
1. Any person who has symptoms or who has been directly exposed to someone with the virus, even though asymptomatic, is not to enter the premises.
2. All persons entering a building on campus will be required to wear facial covering as defined by the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. The exceptions remain in effect and are listed on the City of Phoenix website.
3. All persons who are present for a gathering will maintain the required distancing protocols (6 feet of separation) that are currently in place and in compliance with the City and State guidelines.
4. We will continue with our enhanced sanitization efforts to provide a clean and safe environment; your help in this matter is greatly appreciated when you attend an event on campus. If you are able to help sanitize the space (such as the church after Mass), it is greatly appreciated.
5. It is still not possible for gatherings (clubs, meetings, social events) to occur on property other than for the Mass. This situation will most likely continue through July, and perhaps longer.
6. With regard to the Holy Mass, the dispensation by Bishop Olmsted remains in place for Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix.
7. Blessed Sacrament will maintain its present schedule of Masses with distribution of Holy Communion and will continue to stream Sunday Holy Mass via the parish website and Facebook.
I will close with a thought on “obedience” – something we preach to our children, employees, and others, but can be difficult for ourselves to adhere to. Obedience in that which is not sin is a cause of peace, harmony and deep union with God and with others when we live it in the spirit of Christ. In today’s world, where we seem to be invited to confrontation everywhere, what is truly “revolutionary” is obeying with freedom and joy. Nothing more resembles Satan to us than proud disobedience, and nothing more resembles Christ than loving and free obedience. I would like to quote my mentor priest in a recent homily:
“Obedience in difficult times is a sign of fidelity. We do not obey because what is asked of us seems reasonable. That is human obedience, that of this passing world. We obey because when authority is legitimate and acts within the scope of its power, we see in its manifestations an expression of the Will of God for us and that turns this virtue into an act of faith that works miracles.”
We certainly are in need of miracles – and all of us can be obedient to God so that He, and only He, can work miracles – and He does so through those who are His own in this world.
God’s peace and blessings,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17, 18; Matthew 16:13-19
The number of seminarians in Auckland was not large by many standards, but while I was there, it was above average at 26 men in various years of formation. Most were “on campus” with the rest on their pastoral year assignment (being placed in the parishes of their respective dioceses), and the mix of men varied from year to year not only with those in formation, but with those who left for various reasons as well as new entrants. In New Zealand, on average, 50% make it through the 6 to 7 years of formation. My cohort started with 10; 5 have made it to the priesthood by the grace of God so we were an “average” lot.
What was interesting was the mix of backgrounds of the men who entered the seminary. There were young men fresh from university, some who were professionals (accountants, a lawyer, a teacher), a successful realtor, and a pilot amongst others. The mix of ethnicity weighed in favour of Asian (those hailing from Vietnam being quite prominent, and to a lesser extent the Philippines, as well as men from Korea, India, and one from Malaysia), a Tongan, with less than 30% of the group considered native born Kiwi or Maori. Certainly the rich diversity not only of cultures but of the Catholic Church were on display and without question it enriched the experience as we built a camaraderie in the adversity of it all. There was not a lot in common between us with regard to backgrounds – our education and work experience varied, let alone culture, but we did have an amazing love for God, His Son, and the Church. For all of us, the Holy Spirit brought us together to serve our one Master, Jesus Christ.
In many respects, Peter and Paul were very different people as were we in the seminary. Peter was a fisherman from Galilee; his world was the Sea of Galilee and the hilly countryside that surrounded it. According to John’s gospel, he was from Bethsaida, a small town on the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. He would have had a basic education and his first language was Aramaic.
Paul was from the university city of Tarsus, the capital city of the Roman province of Cilicia on the southeast coast of what is today Turkey. He seems to have been educated to a high level as he wrote fluently in Greek. His family appeared to have been well-to-do given that his father was a Roman citizen. He was a zealous Pharisee, who declared himself devout with regard to keeping Jewish Law.
If Peter and Saul (Paul) had met before they came to faith in Jesus, one senses that they would have had little in common. Yet, today, the Church throughout the world celebrates their joint feast day. It is Jesus who brought them together yet He touched their lives in very different ways. Peter heard the call of Jesus by the shore of the Sea of Galilee as he engaged in his daily work of fishing; Paul heard the call of the risen Lord somewhere in the vicinity of Damascus where he was heading on his mission of persecuting people like Peter who were proclaiming Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah. Jesus called Peter to be the rock on which his Church would be built; he called Paul to be the apostle to the non-Jewish world, the pagans.
Each of them gave their lives in responding to the Lord’s call: Peter was crucified; Paul was beheaded. They were both executed in Rome, a long way from Galilee and from Tarsus. Their tombs have been places of pilgrimage to this day and two of Rome’s four great Basilicas are built over their tombs: Saint Peter’s in the Vatican and Saint Paul’s outside the walls. We celebrate their joint feast today giving thanks to God for their generous and courageous witness to their faith in the Lord. From its beginnings, the Church has worked to be true to the faith of the first apostles, especially the two great apostles Peter and Paul. That is why we speak of the faith as apostolic.
Today, we too try to be true to the faith as lived and articulated by those two great pillars of the Church in a faith that finds expression in a special way in the New Testament. We keep returning to the Gospels and Letters and other books that are to be found in a collection called the Bible so as to remain connected to the faith of those early preachers of the Gospel. The Lord continues to speak to us through their lives and through the sacred literature that they inspired. The Lord calls out to each of us today, as he called Peter and Paul, and wants to work through us in our distinctiveness just as he worked through the very different people that were Peter and Paul. We each have a unique contribution to make to the coming of the Lord’s kingdom and in our efforts to respond to this call, Peter and Paul can continue to be our inspiration.

Prayer
Father, when you created the world you made it to be lived in and gave a rich diversity to it in so many ways: plants, animals, and human beings. Just as were the men who were chosen to be the leaders of the Church from the beginning, so are we chosen by you to continue to spread the Word and herald the Good News. Send us your Spirit to fortify us that we may not lose our way, but instead give of our all for you. Amen.
Thursday, 25 June 2020
Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time
Kia Ora!
Our Catholic faith is amazing to me…and it’s amazing how it becomes a part of people.
This afternoon a woman stopped by the office and I answered the door. She asked if I could pray with her about her grandchildren who have been exposed to the virus through another family. I was happy to do so and we began to pray. I noted that during my prayer, she would would gently respond with “Amen” or “Yes, Father God” or similar terminology. In my experience, such prayer is usually not how “we Catholics” engage in prayer – there’s nothing wrong with what she was saying, nor is there anything wrong in what we don’t say. But I had a feeling she might be from one of the many Protestant evangelical denominations.
After our prayer session, she asked me if she could get some holy water. I said sure, and said it was in the church to which she responded, “Where’s that?” As we were walking to the north courtyard entrance, I asked her if she was Catholic? She said, “Well, I’m Christian.” “Hmm, and we’re not?” I thought to myself. I said, “Oh, so are we.” She then said, “I was born Catholic, but go to Christian churches with my children.” Okay, I thought, here’s an opportunity for some re-catechization and while filling her bottle, I explored a bit further. It seems she recently moved to Phoenix from Florida and said she would go to church but “they were all closed here.” I said, “Well, we’re not.” She asked me what time “services” were and I referred her to the website to register, and I explained why we needed to register. After a bit more conversation, she said that she would like to go into the church and “light some candles.” I thought, “Well, you can’t get much more Catholic than that!”
How wonderful it was that in this time of stress for her and her family, she came “home” to her baptismal faith. Isn’t that so true – when we’re little kids and staying overnight somewhere, we might get homesick and want to go home to be where we feel safe. For us, we go home to Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist, and it is in Him that we feel safe.
Fr Bryan
P.S. I did invite her to come to the “Mass” (not the “service”) and celebrate the Eucharist – after a sacramental confession! 😉
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Kings 24:8-17; Psalm 79; Matthew 7:21-29
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
I freely admit that I like “classic” cars. Now, you’re probably thinking of the cars from the 50’s and 60’s, and while they certainly are classic, did you know that the cars from the 80’s are now considered “classic”? These are the ones I like. They weren’t particularly well built – quality control was not a strong suit for the U.S. car manufacturers, but at least they didn’t all look like jelly beans back then and the term “SUV” was unheard of in the early part of that decade. I marvel at the prices of some of the 80’s “muscle cars”: a very well preserved “survivor” 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS with only 38,000 original miles has a price of $28,000 on it right now and it will sell rather quickly. Of course, in some cases, the outside of the car looks great, but open the hood or raise the car on a lift and look underneath and it tells a different story: neglect, rust, missing parts, and so on. In other words, it’s all appearance, and no substance.
I also enjoy watching the construction of a home. In New Zealand, I was fortunate enough to design a few presbyteries (in the U.S. the priest’s home is a “rectory”) for the parishes in the Diocese of Palmerston North. While I never finished architecture school (I didn’t want to graduate over $100,000 in debt for my “second career” at age 40…), I did learn quite a bit about home design and construction in my years in school. It often strikes me when houses are being built that, in the early stages, a lot of work can be going on without there being much to see. Then, all of a sudden, a great deal of the house becomes visible in a short period of time. The work that goes on without there being much to see to the outsider is the work of laying the foundation for the home. When the foundation is in place, the rest can happen fairly quickly. The truth is that the less visible work of laying the foundations is the most important aspect of the builder’s work. Unless the foundation is right, nothing else will be right, even if the house looks good when it is finished.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus stresses the importance of getting the foundations of our lives right. He is inviting us to ask ourselves the question, “What are our lives built on?” In other words, do our lives rest on solid foundations, so that when the storms of life come along (like 80’s country singer Lynn Anderson’s song (also a classic!) of the same title said, “I never promised you a rose garden!”), will we be able to stand firm and endure? Jesus offers himself as the only reliable foundation for our lives. He calls us into a personal relationship of love with himself and, within that relationship he invites us to listen to his words and to live by them. Note in the Scripture line listed above, Jesus says, “…and acts on them…”; He gives a two-fold command: listen and act.” And as also noted in the line above, to the extent we do this, He assures us that our lives will be well grounded. When trials come, the Lord is our rock. If we keep our relationship with him alive, by receiving his love and responding to his love by living as he calls us to, then we will stand firm even when we are at our most vulnerable.

Prayer
Lord, I know that you have taught me your decrees and given me the tools to use to build a firm foundation. Sometimes I choose not to follow what you ask and try to take shortcuts but in my heart, I know they won’t work. Help me to shore up my faith, live what you ask, and draw closer to you. Amen.
Wednesday, 24 June 2020
Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist
Happy mid-week to all!
With Wednesday comes the every-other-week webinar for the clergy and parish leadership to engage in information from the Diocese of Phoenix. Today’s webinar gave us an overview of some of the realignment and reassignment of departments and personnel at the diocesan offices. Some departments have been combined and others eliminated, but the “business” of the Diocese continues. Within this presentation, it was evident that the Diocese predicts that we will remain in “Phase I” of the plan to return to full operation for a while longer and that there was no way to predict when the next phase would be implemented. Given this information, your parish will continue to operate similarly to how it has been functioning in the recent past. And this isn’t a bad thing.
When we consider all that has happened over the past few months, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church has been able to remain “open” and functioning for all but one week when the employees were on furlough. And while in some cases things have been at a reduced level (hours of operation) or offered in alternative ways (the streamed Mass), we have met the challenges that have, in some cases, caused significant hardship and even closure to some parishes and churches around the Valley. Our ability to continue to operate shows the dedication of the staff and the generosity and support of the parishioners, and without either would have been certain trouble for our parish.
As implemented last week for the Masses and for visitors and staff alike, facial coverings will still be necessary for all who come onto the campus – be it for the sacraments (Mass, Baptism, Confession) or for business purposes. As per diocesan guidelines, the campus will remain unavailable for group meetings or events until further notice, and office hours will remain limited (closed on Friday and Sunday). We will continue to strongly request that anyone who would like to attend the Sunday Mass to please register so that we can comply with policies from government entities and the Diocese. All of these things are a temporary inconvenience I know, but this is the world in which we operate at the moment. Let us not discount the progress that has been made – it was less than two months ago when no one was at Mass, and now we are once again worshiping our Lord together, even though not all of us are able to gather for various reasons. But that day will come again.
On 1 July, 2020, we enter a new fiscal year for our budget. I won’t hide the fact that we have had to face some difficult decisions with a significantly reduced budget ahead of us, but in consultation with our Finance Council and our parish Finance Manager, I feel that we have put a good plan in place for the upcoming fiscal year. Yes, there will be some changes and more information will be forthcoming in the days ahead, but together we can continue to be a place where we gather to worship and pray, and that alone gives us the strength and courage to face what may come.
Join me in prayer for our parish and for our community in which we live and work, and as we have the opportunity to gather again this weekend for the Holy Mass, let us not dwell on what we can’t do, but what we can do. And we can give praise and thanksgiving to our God. Let us join with St John the Baptist and point out the Lamb of God to others so that they, too, can come to know Jesus.
Blessings and peace,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 139, Acts 13:22-26; Gospel Luke 1:56-77, 80
Don’t worry…I’m not going to descend into some Eastern cosmology here, but the Chinese yin-yang (sometimes “yin-and-yang”) does have an interesting play in our world. In ancient Chinese philosophy is a concept of dualism describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and yet interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Think of daylight and nighttime – one gives way to the other, yet they are dependent on each other: as one increases, the other decreases. In the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite of what they are here, but the interplay of daylight and nighttime still exists. It was not possible to use the analogy of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birthdays “down there” that I’m going to use here, but the concept still works. (I know some of my whanau (family/friends) in Aotearoa New Zealand read these updates, so that’s why I wanted to preface this update with those thoughts about daylight and nighttime. But the yin-yang idea still works!)
The feast of the birth of Jesus coincides more or less with the Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere) as the light begins to increase after 21 December, as this befits one who said of himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). It was the birth of Jesus with which darkness has been dispelled, and the Light began to shine in the world. The feast of the birth of John the Baptist coincides more or less with the Summer Solstice as the light begins to decrease, as befits the one who said, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
In our Gospel today, the crowds at the circumcision of John ask the question, “What, then, will this child be?” Well, John turned out to be the one who worked to ensure that Jesus would increase, even if that meant that he had to decrease. John’s calling – his mission – was to make a way for Jesus to enter into people’s lives – to prepare them to receive Jesus. Having already received Jesus into his own life while in Elizabeth’s womb, John became the first and most powerful witness to Jesus before others could. He was the voice who called Israel’s attention to the presence of the Word standing among them (“Behold the Lamb of God”; John 1:29) yet unknown to them.
John’s role and mission speaks to us of our own role and mission as people who have been baptized into Christ. We too are called to make a way for Jesus, firstly in our own lives, and then in the lives of others. Like John, we are called to create a space for Jesus to increase in our own lives all the while decreasing the self. Like John, we are to welcome the coming of Jesus into our lives so that we can witness to Jesus before others.
John was executed before Jesus suffered His own passion and death. John did not know of the Resurrection, just as none of the Old Testament prophets knew of it firsthand either. John died before the coming of the Church, which was born from the death and resurrection of Jesus. In that sense, we are much more privileged than he was. As Jesus says, “…the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he…’ yet John remains a shining lamp for us all, as Jesus once referred to him (John 5:35). John the Baptist reveals the essence of our baptismal calling, which is to witness to Jesus by opening our lives to His presence and allowing Him to grow in us.

Prayer
Lord, as John the Baptist was that lone voice crying in the wilderness, so may our voices join with his, we pray, so that the Word is shared amongst the people of this world so that salvation can be had for all. Amen.
Tuesday, 23 June 2020
Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time
How about some good news?
You may recall that last week I wrote about the Charity and Development Appeal (CDA) and the offer by a member of the Church to match dollar-for-dollar any gift up to $500,000? Well, the numbers are in and the goal was met – and exceeded – by last Saturday, the cut-off for the match. There were 4,260 generous donors of the Diocese of Phoenix who offered $774,574 for a total of $1,274,574 including the matching funds! That’s great because while the CDA is still a bit behind, this makes a huge difference in the programs that can be offered financial help from the Diocese of Phoenix – which is all of you! So I just want to add my thank you to everyone who was able to contribute not just money, but prayers for the success of this campaign.
May God continue to bless us all in all that we do to build up the Body of Christ.
Fr Bryan

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Kings 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-36; Psalm 48; Matthew 7:6, 12-14
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
(Matthew 7:12-14)
I had an economics professor at my university who made two different tests; one was 20 “multiple guess” questions with an essay (the essay was 60% of the test grade!); he would give four possible essay questions a day before the test and you didn’t know which one you had to answer until you got the test. The other test was 60 questions of various kinds – “multiple guess,” short answer, matching, etc. The professor said that he graded hardest on the essay so it was no surprise that most of the students did not choose the essay – he told us at the end of the semester that only 10% of the students chose the essay.
This fits with the Gospel today: Jesus speaks of two ways between which each person must choose. The image of the two ways was widespread in the Old Testament and also with pagan philosophers, so the symbology wasn’t new to the hearers of His message. Jesus compares the narrow gate and the hard road which few take with the wide and spacious road which many take.
Of course, Jesus himself embodies the narrow gate and the hard road. To take the narrow gate and the hard road is to follow him, to live by his teaching, especially as that teaching is expressed in the Sermon on the Mount from which we have been reading in recent days. Jesus implies that many people will turn away from his teaching and will take other easier paths. The Sermon on the Mount puts before us a very high ideal and the temptation is to keep it at arm’s length on the basis that it is not really for the average Christian. Yet Jesus addresses his teaching to everyone; we each have the same calling which we try to live out in the circumstances of our own lives. The narrow gate with the hard road is one we are all asked to take. In taking it, Jesus assures us that we will find life, both now and beyond death.
By the way, I chose the essay question for each of the four exams in the semester…not because I like the hard road, but because I thought I could do better with writing. To me, there were fewer “trick” questions that way. I guess that could be a bit of a metaphor for what Jesus is telling us: while His way is narrow and the gate small, we’ve each have gifts of the Holy Spirit to help us along that narrow road so that we can stay on it. It is, however, up to us to use those gifts to make it to the narrow gate.

Prayer
Lord, sometimes that narrow path is difficult to stay on, and I fall from the path into the rough. When I do, I desire to call out to you to lead me back and you never fail to offer to me that helping hand. In my weakness, please continue to send your Holy Spirit to guide me so that I can make it through the narrow gate. Amen.
Monday, 22 June 2020
Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saints John Fisher and Thomas More
Optional Memorial: Saint Paulinus of Nola
I would like to thank all who came to Mass this past weekend who adopted the health and safety guidelines that have been instituted by the City of Phoenix under the direction of the Governor of the State of Arizona. While it may have been uncomfortable for some, it is for everyone’s benefit that we do what we can, as Christians, to protect our brothers and sisters in Christ from the ills of the virus plaguing our world. These precautionary procedures will remain in effect until lifted by the respective governments.
As you come onto campus, you will note some signs that are placed at the entrances to the various buildings. These signs are necessary according to the guidelines as given by the State of Arizona, and indicate that facial coverings must be worn, distancing must be practiced, and that anyone with symptoms of the virus “must not enter” the premises or building. This is applied to visitors and staff alike and with a few exceptions as noted on the City of Phoenix’s website, to be observed and practiced by all.
Again, thank you for your help and consideration for all people in complying with this temporary situation and we continue to pray that it will end soon, as well as offering prayers for those who are afflicted with the virus and those who care for them.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18; Psalm 60: Matthew 7:1-15
“The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12; Gospel Acclamation for the day)
One of the comments I hear from people with regard to the Sacrament of Penance is that they feel that they are being judged or condemned by the priest and, if that is the case that this has happened to the person, my heart hurts for the individual – and I am saddened for that priest. I’m not saying this hasn’t happened – even the priest is human (and this is not an excuse for such behavior by the clergy) but I have also asked on occasion if this has actually happened to the person and their answer is most often, “Well, no. But I just feel that is what will happen.” I’ve thought about this and can say that I, too, have felt that way in the past in the confessional before I understood what the Sacrament is all about.
So, what is it all about? It is very much about what Jesus says in today’s Gospel. We certainly live in a society that judges, and we know that we have been judged by many people in the past, and most of us probably have judged others (and their actions) as well. We may have even found out that we were totally wrong about our judgment, yet we may continue to engage in such behavior. Personally, I think this is behind the feelings about the Sacrament of Penance – it is a “learned behavior” and it is then applied to the priest in the confessional, true or not, that he will judge.
In this morning’s Gospel reading Jesus uses a somewhat humorous image to make a serious point. A person with a plank in their eye struggling to take a splinter out of someone else’s eye might have drawn a few wry smiles from Jesus’ listeners. The serious point Jesus is making, however, is that we are on stronger ground when we try to deal with our own failings first rather than when we try to set other people right. A healthy awareness of our own failings and weaknesses can make us hesitate before we are overly judgmental of others, and that is true for the priest as well.
When Jesus says “do not judge,” he is also saying, “do not condemn.” We sometimes have an obligation to condemn what people do in their actions and behavior, yet we are not to condemn the person. Jesus could be critical of people’s actions or words without condemning the person (consider what He said to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He continued to relate to the person as someone loved by God. In spite of what they may have done, Jesus continued to call them to become the person God desired them to be. That is how the risen Lord continues to relate to us all. Even when we have sinned, he continues to love us.
And that is how we, as clergy, are to function: we are called to be Christ-like in our love for others. Therefore, in the confessional, it is not about judgment or condemnation; it is about forgiveness, mercy, and love – all of which come from God in the first place; the priest is to be the “conduit” if you will of God’s never-ending love for what He has himself created: you. God says so in those fabulous words in the prayer of absolution offered by the priest in persona Christi: “I absolve you from your sins.” There is no condemnation or judgment in those words…just His love and mercy.
John’s Gospel declares that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). If that is how God is with the world of human beings, it is also how we are to be with each other, ordained or not.

Prayer
Father, thank you for sending your Son into this world. Help me to see what I cannot see because of blindness on my part that how I think and act is a reflection of my relationship with you. Help me to seek empathy and compassion for others that you have put into my life so that through me, Your Light of Love will shine. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
As communicated in yesterday’s Update, the City of Phoenix (and all other municipalities throughout the State of Arizona) have been granted the ability to develop their own policies with regard to certain aspects of combating the spread of COVID-19 by the Governor of the State of Arizona. The City Council of the City of Phoenix met this morning and has put into place an Executive Order that impacts our parish. (As noted in yesterday’s Update, our church property sits within the City of Phoenix and as such we are bound by the city’s laws and ordinances, even though we have a Scottsdale postal address.). Links to the City of Phoenix website as well as the website for the State of Arizona are given below and these sites present the orders in detail and are made available for your review should you choose to do so. At this point, the Diocese of Phoenix has not issued any statement or guidelines.
The order from the City of Phoenix goes into effect at 6.00a on Saturday, 20 June.
The document of the City says, in part, “The declaration goes into effect on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 6 a.m. and requires every person in the city of Phoenix, ages six and over, shall cover their nose and mouth (emphasis added) whenever they are away from their home or residence and within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household.” Further the document states in part the following categories of people are EXEMPT from the face covering requirement:
· Those with a medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or are otherwise covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
· Children under six years old.
· People whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.
· Restaurant patrons while they are eating and/or drinking.
While our facilities have been marked to represent proper distancing, and the order indicates that facial coverings are required “within six feet of another person,” we are erring on the side of caution and asking that all persons age 6 and up (and who are not exempt as noted above) entering our facilities, out of charity for others as is our calling as members of the Body of Christ, to assist in the health and well-being of all who enter our space for worship.
Of particular note is the third point above: “People whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering” are exempt from doing so. The Catholic Church does not prevent us from wearing face coverings while attending the Mass, and as such Blessed Sacrament will comply with the order from the City of Phoenix that requires face coverings at gatherings away from the home. Additionally, it can be interpreted that we are allowed to consume the Host as has been our practice as an exemption is provided for the public consumption of food (although the order specifically states “restaurant,” our understanding of the Sacrament is the intake of the Body of Christ is required for the Sacrament of the Eucharist.) As such, a mask may be removed for the consumption of the Eucharist.
Listed below is an update to your parish’s policies and procedures effective at 6.00a on Saturday, 20 June and going forward until further notice.
Thank you for your consideration and cooperation during this difficult time. With prayer and trust in the Lord, we will be able to weather this situation and remain healthy and holy. May God continue to pour out His abundant blessings on us.
Fr Bryan
Attending Mass/Entering a Building on Campus
Given this development, please note the following changes to our policies and procedures for attending the Holy Mass:
  • All persons age 2 and up upon entering any building on campus will need to wear a face covering (the definition of a “face covering” is as defined by the State of Arizona). The parish will not be able to supply face coverings. Those who do not have proper facial coverings will not be able to enter the buildings. (Please review the City of Phoenix documents with regard to “enforcement” of their declaration.)
  • While gathered inside of a building on campus, face coverings must be worn at all times by all in attendance at a gathering. These buildings include, but are not limited to, the church/chapel (including hallways, entryways, vesting areas and sacristy), Adoration Chapel, classrooms/meeting rooms, restrooms, hall, and office. (Please note: clergy presiding at the Mass will not be wearing a face covering to comply with the rubrics of the General Instructions. Additionally, since the choir sits separately, and is beyond the 6-foot requirement, if they maintain spacing protocols amongst themselves while in the choir section, they are not required to wear face coverings. All other staff and volunteers at the Mass will wear face coverings.)
  • Distancing protocols remain in effect; only family members may be within closer proximity than the 6-foot restriction, including seating in the church. (“Family” is to be defined as “persons living in the same household” as indicated by the City of Phoenix.)
  • Sanitization efforts will remain in effect: persons entering the facilities should properly sanitize their hands prior to entering by using personally supplied sanitization solution/wipes, and are asked to leave the buildings as soon as the event has ended; please do not congregate in the buildings or in the courtyard. (As always, assistance cleaning after Mass is greatly appreciated by those able to do so.)
  • Please register to attend Mass. According to the policies of the State of Arizona and the Diocese of Phoenix, we must manage the numbers of people attending the Mass, and our most efficient way of doing so is for attendees to “register” for the Mass. As explained in Wednesday’s Update, this will help prevent turning away someone who desires to attend if there is no space. It also helps us to maintain a tracing list should it be necessary to contact anyone who may have been exposed to the virus while attending Mass. This is “strongly recommended” by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the State of Arizona supports this procedure, and so does your parish. While we have not met our capacity limits yet, some of our Masses are experiencing increased numbers (100+ in attendance representing approximately a two-thirds of the capacity we are allotted) so it is becoming increasingly important for us to have this system in place.
  • Please note that in the future, it may be a requirement that only those who have registered will be able to enter the church for Mass as we must maintain our capacity limits. The registration form is easily accessed and completed on our website and will indicate if a Mass has reached maximum capacity. Registrations can also be made by contacting the parish office on Thursdays (before the weekend) to register if unable to use the electronic means to do so.
Holy Communion
With regard to receiving Holy Communion:
  • When entering a line for Holy Communion, please maintain spacing as marked on the floor. There will continue to be three lines available for the distribution of Holy Communion (center, right, and left of the Sanctuary). Please note: only one person at a time may present themselves before the minister for Holy Communion unless physical assistance is needed (persons/couples who do not need physical assistance should remain in the single line, one in front of the other.)
  • Facial coverings are required while in line and when the Host is placed in the hand. (See note below for reception on the tongue.)
  • Once the Host is placed into the hand (do not grab it from the minister), and after stepping to the side a few steps and facing the sanctuary, remove the face covering and place the Host in the mouth. Replace your mask and then return to your seat. Please do not walk away from the sanctuary with the Host until the Host is in your mouth and your face covering replaced.
For Communion on the tongue:
  • Only the center aisle will be used for distribution in this manner. Please wait until the end of the line if possible for reception in this manner.
  • When before the minister, remove your face mask and the Host will be placed on your tongue.
  • Immediately replace your mask and then return to your seat. The minister will cleans his fingers before the next person in line presents for Communion.

Here is a video to demonstrate this practice.

 
Links to City of Phoenix documents:
General: https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/em-and-hs/1353
FAQs: https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/em-and-hs/1353

Link to the State of Arizona’s Guide
Governor’s Plan: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/06/governor-ducey-announces-enhanced-covid-19-action-plan

Blessed Sacrament Parish
Register For Mass: https://bscaz.org/
Thursday, 18 June 2020
Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
As promised, things change.
You may or may not be aware that Governor Ducey has put forth some new guidelines for the public and for businesses with regard to public gatherings and the use of face masks, and has given the local (city) jurisdictions the option to establish their policies around these issues. The Diocese of Phoenix is aware of these latest developments as is the staff and clergy of Blessed Sacrament, and all are closely monitoring this situation.
Of note for our particular parish is that the church property actually sits in the City of Phoenix (as maps indicate, and especially since we pay property taxes to the City of Phoenix and are covered by the City of Phoenix police and fire departments, etc., even though we have a Scottsdale postal address.) As such, we are technically bound by what the City Council of the City of Phoenix will implement after their meeting tomorrow, 19 June, with regard to their plans to comply with Governor Ducey’s policies. It would be inappropriate to put into place any policies and procedures at this time before we know what the guidelines and effective dates are from the city. Any changes to our current operation will be communicated to you through our channels: email, website, and Facebook page.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate together through this ever-changing situation.
May God continue to keep you healthy and holy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Sirach 48:1-14; Psalm 97: Matthew 6:7-15
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:8)
My very first airline job was with a “start-up” – a new airline based in Phoenix called America West Airlines. we had three used – very used – Boeing 737s. Other than the pilots and mechanics, the “front-line” staff was trained in the main operations of the airline: ticketing, gates, flight attendant, ramp service (including “dumping the lav” – yes, just as it sounds) and reservations. For all of this, we were paid a whopping $12,500 per year (which worked out to less than $5 per hour based on the average 50-hour work week at the time.) But it was exciting being there and watching the airline grow. The local community supported it and although over time it got “too big for its britches” and went bankrupt a couple of times, the employees were a hard working lot and a camaraderie developed between us all.
I do remember the reservations training; this was the first point of contact with customers so we were trained quite extensively on phone etiquette and manners, but always with the reminder that “time is money” so we were not to engage the customer in needless chit-chat. In fact, just answering the phone was down to less than two seconds: no “Thank you for calling America West Airlines. My name is Bryan. How may I help you?” It was “America West Airlines, Bryan.” The theory was that these simple words identified the company and gave the name of the person who would help. Why else would someone call if they weren’t needing help, right? You don’t call an airline just to talk about the lasted fashions – you call with a purpose: to get the price, find out the times of the flights, and book a reservation. Done. Next…
In the gospel reading Jesus makes a distinction between the prayer of the pagans and the prayer of his followers. He speaks of pagan prayer as babbling, as using many words, the implication being that by using many words they are trying to force God to listen. Pagan prayer is an attempt to put pressure on God, to manipulate God into doing what those praying want.
The prayer Jesus taught his disciples is the complete opposite of that kind of prayer. Rather than trying to force God’s hand, the Lord’s prayer, as we have come to call it, begins in a spirit of surrender to God and to what God wants: “…hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” Jesus would pray a version of those opening petitions of the Lord’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Matthew 26:39). Although Jesus recoiled before the prospect of a violent death, he did not try to force God’s hand in prayer; rather, he surrendered to what God wanted. His prayer of petition was secondary to his prayer of surrender.
The Lord’s Prayer begins in that same spirit of surrender to God, and only then does it invite us to petition God on our own behalf. The petitions of the Lord’s Prayer are all in the first person plural, not “me” and “mine” but “us” and “our.” They express our basic material and spiritual needs, our need for sustenance, both physical and spiritual, our need for forgiveness and our need for deliverance when tested by evil. Jesus gave us this prayer so that all of our prayers may be shaped by this model prayer.

Prayer
Father, I know you know what I need before I ask, but I ask you with all humility and love because I know of your love for me. Forgive me if I do not always show my love for you by the way I treat others, but when I ask you in prayer and petition, it is out of your mercy and compassion that I come to you for help. Fill my heart with your love and Spirit so that your will may be done. Amen.
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
As we continue to move through the weeks of Phase I, we are noticing an uptick in the number of people coming to Mass – something other parishes are feeling as well, some of which are actually at capacity (according to the 25% limitation) at some of their scheduled Masses. Truly, this is a wonderful situation!
As we progress, it is going to become even more important for those who would like to attend Mass at Blessed Sacrament to register for the Mass (which opens on Wednesday evening on the parish website, and registration is available through Sunday of that week.) Again, this is not to “check on who’s coming,” but to help us manage the numbers so that we can maintain proper distancing within the restricted capacity of the church – we don’t want to be in the situation of having to turn away people at the door of the church. While our biggest Mass to date has been over 100 in attendance, and that represents about two-thirds of the capacity, our attendance is steadily increasing so it is possible that some of our Masses will reach capacity sooner rather than later. (It is important to note that we are not the only parish asking parishioners to register to attend Mass – most are doing this in one form or another, with some parishes even requiring a ticket to be printed and scanned upon entry.) Additionally, registering also allows us to have a tracing document should it be necessary to contact those who were in attendance should it be reported to us that someone was infected with the virus at a particular Mass. The Arizona Department of Health asks (but is not requiring) that public venues keep a tracking system for this purpose.
Rest assured that the electronic data is not kept on a computer after the scheduled Mass; we generate a printed copy of the registered list for reference if need be, then delete the computer file. The paper copy, which is kept secure, will be shredded after several weeks following the recommended guidelines.
Thank you for your cooperation with this temporary procedure. We all look forward to the day when we can attend Mass without such formalities as well as welcoming all of our parishioners and visitors at any Mass of their choice. Let us pray for an end to the virus, and always keep those who have been infected in prayer.
May God keep us all healthy and holy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Kings 2:1, 6-14; Psalm 31; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 6:2)
“Virtue signaling” is an interesting phenomenon – it’s not new as we read in our Gospel today, yet it seems it has taken on a new life in this day and age. What is this behaviour? It is the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue. Virtue signaling doesn’t mean that a person’s point of view isn’t authentic and certainly may be comforting to someone in a given situation. For example, wearing a pink ribbon indicates that a person is sympathetic to women with breast cancer, and someone who is suffering from the disease may take comfort in the support shown by the wearer. There certainly is no problem with someone who genuinely supports cancer research or cares for patients. There are many ribbons and bands being worn by people these days to show their “support” or concern for many causes, and the colour indicates which cause is being supported. It is interesting to note, however, that a recent promotion by a company that was promoting such bands for breast cancer awareness raised nearly $500,000 for their special band, but of the money raised, less than $7,000 actually went to awards or grants for the cause. The rest, it seems, went into someone’s savings account; that could be a reflection for a different Gospel! (See link below for source and more on the story.)
Other than financial misappropriation, another issue with such items has to do with what Jesus is warning about in the Gospel: appearance of self promotion, or “virtue signaling.” The gospel reading this morning reminds us that there is always a danger that our good deeds can end up being quite self-serving, whether it is the good deed of almsgiving (such as supporting a cause or event), praying, or fasting. Jesus calls on us not to do our good deeds to attract the attention of others. Our focus in doing what we do is not so much other people and how they see us, but should be focused on how God sees us and what we have done for Him.
Of course the question comes up regarding, for example, the wearing of a crucifix, making the Sign of the Cross before saying a prayer of blessing before eating a meal in a restaurant, or for us clergy, wearing a collar. Didn’t Jesus say at the beginning of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount that a lamp is not to be hidden? Yes, He did (Matthew 5:15). But that’s even more to the point – if the wearer or action is a sign of Christ’s presence then there certainly is not a problem; but to be seen wearing the crucifix or collar or praying in public for the purpose of being seen to be Catholic or Christian is a problem. It all points to motivation behind the action – and that is a discernment we all must make when we act or speak.
Three times the gospel reading refers to the Father who sees all that is done in secret. We live our lives in the conscious awareness of the presence of God with whom we have an intimate relationship through faith and baptism. The Father who sees in secret is not to be understood as a kind of a “Big Brother” watching us. Rather, Jesus, Emmanuel – God-with-us, has promised to be with us to the end of time and does so out of His love for us. Our good deeds are (or should be) our loving response to God’s love for us through Jesus. In all that we say and do, our focus is to be on the Lord who is always present to us, rather than on ourselves or on how others perceive us. In this way we give expression in our lives to that beatitude which declares, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
News Story: (https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/i-love-wristbands-donations-questioned/1879812/)

Prayer
Father, you know my heart because you formed me in my mother’s womb. You know my secrets and challenges. I pray that my love for you does not get perverted by my ego or pride, and I also pray that through my work and words others do see you and your glory. Send your Spirit upon me to help me discern the reasons why I do what I do, so that my motivation remains purely focused on you. Amen.
Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
I just finished a webinar with Bishop Olmsted and some of the staff at the Diocese that was specifically focused on the Charity and Development Appeal (CDA), the annual campaign to support many programs that are funded in part by the Diocese to do the work of Christ in our community. The webinar provided some statistics with the recognition that because of the situation surrounding our economy at the moment, the generous parishioners of the Diocese have pledged or sent in over $7 million of the $9.0 million goal. This is great news and the campaign managers are happy about all of this. They shared some stories of success from some of the programs that the CDA supports, and they are truly inspiring.
We were also reminded of the matching gift that one generous person has put forward: a matching gift dollar for dollar up to $500,000. The amount received is currently at 91% of the goal of additional contributions noting that the matching ends on Saturday, 20 June. So, if you can help support this appeal, remembering that every dollar that is sent in at this point gets another dollar added. So, your $50 gets $50 added to it for a total of $100 – and that certainly chips away at the goal. I personally want to thank you for your generosity – which is legendary – which will have a huge impact on our less fortunate brothers and sisters in our Diocese.
As mentioned above, Bishop Olmsted was present for a Q & A session. While many subjects were presented, there was a question regarding wearing masks at Mass. While the bishop reiterated the general requirement to attend the Sunday/Holy Day of Obligation has been dispensed during the COVID-19 situation, the bishop reiterated the request for parishioners to wear masks, but that it is not a “requirement” but is “strongly suggested.” Part of his rationale is that “we” (as a Catholic Diocese) do not want to restrict anyone from attending the Holy Mass simply because they don’t have a mask. As such, it will remain the policy to “strongly recommend” but not require a mask, a policy in line with state and federal government agencies. (Links to these documents are on our website.)
Another question was raised in regard to how the Diocese was addressing systemic racism prevalent in our society. The bishop mentioned his firm resolve to eradicate the sin of racism, with a focus on prayer (and that a Mass was offered last week for such a purpose, and included a prominent local minister and his wife from a Baptist church. One thing Bishop Olmsted remarked on was what one family has done: gathered together and offered a “protest through prayer” – an idea that our families and individuals could certainly adopt while under this restriction of public gatherings. What a great idea this family had! As families are more frequently gathered together these days (again, how wonderful is that!), here is an opportunity for the leaders of the family to promote family, discuss the sin of racism, and pray together in a peaceful “protest” against the evil that is racism. If you can’t gather with family, then perhaps an “extended family” such as friends and neighbors – of any race or religion – to pray “in protest” of the sin of racism. If you’re not sure what to pray, include the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a long term battle with the devil who thrives on division and all the prayer warriors out there can gather in a show of unity – even if it is within the confines of the home.
Anyway, thank you for all you do for the parish and for our community.
God’s blessings,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Kings 21:17-29; Psalm 51; Matthew 5:43-48
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44)
As I wrote a last week, Matthew’s Gospel is quite direct, and certainly can present challenges for us to reflect on in our own lives. Today’s Gospel is such a piece. There is no mistake in Jesus’ words; there is little room for a “new age” or relativist interpretation here: it’s not about the love of self – it’s about the love of the other. It’s about a heroic virtue in this day and age, yet is about a standard that we must meet and a “standard” by definition isn’t heroic. It’s about loving one’s enemies. That isn’t easy at times.
It’s a bit funny when we think about who our “enemies” are in this world. Of course we can identify the devil and evil spirits as enemies, and I would say that most of us would classify someone trying to kill us or take our possessions would be an enemy. But we can broaden that definition of enemy to include an opponent in any sport, competition, or political arena. In this day and age, it seems that anyone who doesn’t think like we do is an enemy.
The message Jesus brings is not new. In Proverbs (24:17), we’re told not to gloat when our enemy falls. In the same book, we’re told to feed our enemy when he’s hungry (25:21). But this blatant instruction to love our enemies came from Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Basically in this event, God – who is love – told us to love. How to do this is of the utmost importance. We aren’t able to love our enemies without the supernatural help of God. Hating an enemy is what comes natural for us – all we have to do is pick up the newspaper or watch the news and we’re reminded of that simple fact. If we try and love our enemies apart from the help of God it will not be true love. It’s only by the grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, that we can love our enemies.
So, why should we do this? There are many reasons, but here are just two reasons for us to love our enemies. One is simply because God said to, but the other is because God loved us first. It was when we were still God’s enemies (Colossians 1:21, Romans 5:10) that He demonstrated His love for us. Through Jesus, God’s love brought salvation to us and it is that Divine Love that makes all the difference. It’s not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the appeasement for our sins. If God so loved us, ought we not also love one another?
The conclusion Jesus brings is for us to be like our Heavenly Father who is perfect and merciful (Matthew 5:48). But that word “perfect” can make us cringe due to our humanity. Only God is perfect, we know that. But in the original Greek, the word perfect means “complete.” It comes from a primary word meaning to set out for a definite point or goal. Jesus is saying for us to make it our goal to love like our Heavenly Father loves.
We love by giving mercy to others – the same mercy that we have received. Giving mercy requires us to give up revenge and hand the judgment part off to God. Loving our enemies doesn’t mean to allow them to continue to hurt us – that would be a failure of loving ourselves as God loves us, but we can protect ourselves all the while trusting God to step in. (Refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church Part III with regard to a discussion on this subject.)
While we don’t have to be “mates” with our enemies, we can always pray for them. Praying is in itself an act of mercy. Praying is loving like our Heavenly Father. Praying changes hearts.
Loving our enemies means we see them as human beings in need of the Father’s love.

Prayer
Jesus, you taught us how to love. It is your love for me that has given me hope that I, too, can love like you do. Help me to see in others that you love in them as well, and that even in difficult situations, my heart is filled with compassion and mercy for those who persecute me, just as your heart was filled with compassion and mercy as you hung upon the Cross. Amen.
Monday, 15 June 2020
Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time
On Sunday we celebrated Confirmation and First Holy Communion for some young people who have waited months for the completion of their Sacraments of Initiation. It was wonderful to see the kids dressed in their finest, the girls in their white dresses and boys in suit and tie. It is one of the joys of the priesthood to be able to be present and administer the Eucharist to these young people, and even if disguised by a mask, I could see their joy (even if it was a nervous joy) in their faces and eyes when they came up for Communion.
Please continue to pray for them – and for their sponsors and parents – that their cooperation with the Holy Spirit that brought them this far is not diluted and their enthusiasm keeps bringing them to the Holy Mass. Your prayers are needed for the kids and parents so that they re-encounter Christ through the sacramental life of the Church every Sunday.
May our Lord continue to bless us by our cooperation with His will.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Kings 21:1-16; Psalm 5; Matthew 5:38-42
“For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you.”
(Psalm 5)
There are names that instantly bring up good thoughts: Theresa (Teresa) comes to mind as we have many saints with that name; Abraham is another one – a much revered president of the United States as well as “our father in faith.” And of course, Jesus. But there are names that incite: Pontius is one as well as Adolf – you don’t hear too many kids being named either of those these days. And the character in the story we have today is another name that conjures up images of distrust and corruption and whose name, when used as a noun, means a wicked, shameless woman (Oxford dictionary): Jezebel.
In the first reading we are provided with a disturbing instance of the corrupt use of power. The wife of the king of Israel, Jezebel, had an innocent man, Naboth, killed so that her husband King Ahab could have Naboth’s vineyard. Deceit and lust for power ended in deadly violence that was inflicted upon Naboth for purely selfish gain. In truth, the story of Naboth’s vineyard happens in every generation and in every culture, and still occurs to this day and age. It is a reminder of how power is often used to benefit the powerful. The author of the First Book of Kings in which we find this story was very clear that the crime of Ahab and Jezebel was a crime not just against Naboth, but against God.
In any situation of injustice, such as the one we have read about in our passage today, God is always on the side of those who suffer the injustice. Such inequity done to others is done to God and those responsible for such abuse will be held accountable by God. In the Gospel reading Jesus addresses a situation in which his own disciples will suffer injustice. They too will be the victims of self-serving violence; they too will have to come to terms with what the gospel reading calls “the wicked man.”
Jesus declares that when his disciples find themselves the victim of unjust violence or other injustice they are not to retaliate in kind; they are not to meet evil with evil. The practice of eye for eye and tooth for tooth no longer applies within the realm of the kingdom of God present through Jesus Christ. Instead, the disciples are to remain generous and self-giving even when confronted with evil in its various forms.

This is exactly how Jesus deals with it in the hour of His Passion and death; this is the pattern with which we are called to follow as well. It’s a good reminder for us – especially with the news of late – that as the world sees it, anger, violence, and killing is a “just” action in response to an unjust event. But we, as proclaimed followers of Christ, are to take a different path. Our reward is not in revenge, our reward is in heaven.

Prayer
Jesus, you are the model of civility and love, even to the point of total surrender on the Cross. Help me to bear the injustice shown to me or to my loved ones so that I don’t succumb to the worldly idea of justice, but that I can be a peacemaker and demonstrate that through your grace, I can forgive just as you commanded.
Friday, 12 June 2020
Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
Greetings everyone!
This weekend we celebrate a special moment in the Church when we welcome some young people into the fullness of the sacramental life – First Holy Communion and Confirmation. We will be celebrating a special 1.30p Mass on Sunday for this event and while it will not be streamed, you are welcome to attend in person (some seats are still available) but are requested to keep our young people in prayer not only for this event, but that they will be able to attend the Holy Mass and participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist with the help of their family who will bring them to the Holy Mass. It is my prayer, and yours too, that this not be seen as a “once in a lifetime” event, but a spiritually healthy habit for all.
As you are probably aware, reporting of COVID-19 cases in the State of Arizona has indicated a significant increase in the number of cases statewide. While this was not unexpected according to authorities, it is still disturbing nonetheless. In consult with the Diocese of Phoenix, the State of Arizona Health Department, and the the CDC, it remains strongly encouraged that those who participate in “large” public gatherings to practice distancing protocols and the wearing of masks remains “strongly encouraged” by all who attend. Additionally, and has always been the case, washing hands remains one of the primary ways to avoid contacting the virus. Guidance from the Diocese has not changed on this.
Here at Blessed Sacrament, in compliance with these guidelines, we are continuing to make sure we have as safe of an environment as is possible for all to worship our God. We continue our stringent cleaning of facilities (beyond what is necessary), will soon have some equipment to “fog” the facilities overnight (NOT with pesticides, but with an environmentally neutral and safe solution, have implemented distancing protocols that exceed the mandates in many ways, and strongly encourage our parishioners to wear masks, just as do the clergy and ministers of Holy Communion, when encountering people at close range (such as at the distribution of Holy Communion). We also keep the air circulating in the Church and open the doors for fresh air to enter the space (at significant expense to re-cool the space) when possible and practicable. And as a reminder, if you do not feel comfortable with the precautions that have been taken, Bishop Olmsted’s absolution from attending the Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Mass remains in effect and will remain until we have passed through the various stages of return to public gatherings.
Your continued prayers and support of our parish are certainly appreciated and needed as we pass through this difficult time, not only with the virus, but to encourage peace and love with all of our brothers and sisters who live in this world.
On this weekend, we have the opportunity to enter into the mystery of our faith once again on that Holy Thursday night, when Jesus instituted the source and summit of our faith: the Eucharist. Let us pray that we all can be united in one love – the same love that God has for each of us.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16; Psalm 27: Matthew 5:27-32
“Shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life.” (Gospel Acclamation, Philippians 2:15-16)
In author George Orwell’s fictional novel Nineteen Eighty Four, the totalitarian state invented Newspeak as a language favored by the minions of Big Brother (the world government) and, in Orwell’s words, was “designed to diminish the range of thought.” Newspeak is characterized by the elimination or alteration of certain words, the substitution of one word for another, the interchangeability of parts of speech, and the creation of words for political purposes. The word “newspeak” has caught on in general use to refer to confusing or deceptive bureaucratic jargon – something we would today call “politically correct language” in many instances. Some examples of modern-day newspeak used to “soften” the language would be “pre-owned” rather than “used,” “revenue enhancement” meaning a “tax increase,” and “a person of interest” instead of a “suspect.” All of us use it at times – it has become part of our culture as it is human nature to avoid unpleasantness. (See, I just used it – “unpleasantness” instead of “rancor” sounds nicer.)
This morning’s gospel reading has a sharp edge to it; such language in it is strange to our modern ears. Jesus wasn’t worried about “newspeak” when He had a point to make. Consider our Gospel today: His teaching about adultery doesn’t mince words. For example, Jesus says, “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus also says, “If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” Jesus is speaking in a exaggerated way to get our attention; in this case, He clearly does not intend to be taken literally. This image of tearing out our right eye links back to His understanding of adultery, not just as a physical act but as an intention or a desire.
Jesus goes beyond the actions that the Ten Commandments prohibit to the roots of those actions in the human heart. This is the deeper virtue that he referred to a few verses earlier. Jesus calls for not just a change of behaviour, but a change of heart, a purifying of desire and intention. (This, by the way, is what we pray – and mean – when we say the Act of Contrition.) This interior transformation is understood elsewhere in the Scriptures to be the work of the Holy Spirit for it is the Spirit of God who renews the human heart. It is above all in prayer that we open ourselves to the Spirit of God.
As Elijah in the first reading sought out the mountain of God, we need to seek out the mountain of prayer. On the mountain, Elijah experienced the presence of the Lord in “the sound of a gentle breeze” or as another translation expresses it, “in the sound of sheer silence.” It is above all in silence that we seek the Lord’s face, as in the words of today’s responsorial psalm, and open ourselves to the coming of the Lord’s Spirit who works within us to create in us a heart that reflects the heart of Jesus.

Prayer
Dear Lord, I know that your words are the words of life. When they are hard to accept, please send the Holy Spirit to help me understand that it is through your love that you have given your Law. I pray for all people in this world to accept your Truth for what it is: the words of everlasting life. Amen.
Thursday, 11 June 2020
Memorial: St Barnabas, Apostle and Martyr
Kia ora koutou! (“Hello everyone” in Te Reo)
There is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to help the Charity and Development Appeal (CDA) campaign: any “new” (not previously pledged or sent) money that comes into the CDA fund between 20 May and 20 June is matched dollar per dollar up to $500,000. That means that the CDA will benefit by $1.0 million dollars! This truly is a case where “every dollar counts” because every dollar is like two: it counts double! Please prayerfully consider your ability to contribute a little extra for the CDA so that the 70 charities, ministries, seminarians, parishes and missions, Catholic schools, and so much more, can benefit by this exceptional opportunity. Thank you for your continued generosity to our Diocesan campaign – it is almost at the goal of $500,000 so it is within reach. “Your gift is truly Love that Gives Hope!”
May God’s great love and mercy continue to improve our lives.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 11:21 – 26, 13:1-3; Psalm 98; Matthew 5:20-26
“When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.” (Acts 11:23)
What’s in a nickname? Usually a nickname tells something of the person or thing of whom or what it belongs. For example, Elvis Presley was known as “Elvis the Pelvis” due to his gyrating on-stage performances. Douglas Corrigan became known as “Wrong Way Corrigan” because in 1938 he set out to fly to California from New York but ended up flying across the Atlantic to Europe. Oops. It has become popular to identify the generations with nicknames as well: “The Greatest Generation” or the “WWII Generation” (1925 – 1945), “Baby Boomer” (1946-1964), “Me too” or “Gen X” (1965 – 1979), “Gen Y” or “Millennials” (1980 – 2000), and “Gen Zed” or the “Silent Gen” (2000-2020, approximate). Even biblical characters have nicknames: James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were called the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) and our Saint of the Day, Barnabas, whose birth name was Joseph, was given a nickname to reflect his special gift: “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36).
As nicknames go, “Barnabas” is one of the nicer ones. It was clearly a term that reflected the nature of the man. He had that marvelous ability to recognize the good qualities in people and to draw out the qualities of a person so that they could be placed at the service of the church. We find two examples of this in this morning’s first reading: the first community of believers was all Jewish, but in Antioch there emerged a community of believers that was comprised of Jews and non-Jews. When Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to investigate this new development, he was delighted with what he saw and “he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart” (Acts 11:23). Then, sometime later Barnabas recognized that Saul, the former persecutor of the church, could make a wonderful contribution to this mixed church in Antioch and so he set out all the way to Tarsus to find Paul and bring him to Antioch. Paul went on to become a leading member of the church in Antioch.
Recognizing the gifts of others, and creating openings for those gifts to flourish – this was the strength of Barnabas. We all have it in us to be a Barnabas within the church and within the wider community. We may not have the gift for a particular task, but we can have the ability to recognize that gift in others and to create a space for their gift to flourish. This is one of the ways that we can all respond to the Lord’s call in today’s gospel reading to go out and proclaim that the kingdom of God is close at hand. All of us can be sons and daughters of encouragement if we choose. And why shouldn’t we – we have been given the words of everlasting life (cf. John 6:60-71).

Prayer
Lord, in a world filled with despair and discouragement, let me not cooperate with this darker side of life, but instead become for you filled with words and actions of comfort and encouragement in imitation of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
As has been customary on Wednesdays through this pandemic, the Diocese has sponsored a webinar for the parishes in which to participate. Today’s webinar was motivational in nature, but reiterated that we are still in “Phase I” and that movement forward will be slow; to use Governor Ducey’s terminology it will be more like a “dimmer” where the light gradually goes up rather than an on-off switch where it is abrupt.
What this means for our parish is that while the dispensation from Sunday Mass as well as Holy Days of Obligation remains in effect, we will continue to offer the Holy Mass as we have been, including the streaming of the Mass on Sunday, as well as the distribution of Holy Communion for those in attendance for the Sunday and daily Mass. This also means that we are restricted with spacing in our church (as we have been for the past few weeks) and maintain the required distancing protocols. The parish office will still be open, but hours will remain at the reduced schedule and contact should be through email or phone to the extent possible.
As to how this will affect our parish event schedules, there will be some adjustments to previously planned activities in the summer months as well as in the autumn. Please refer to our parish website for the latest update on the calendar, but we will also communicate via other channels (bulletin, email, etc.) so it is important to stay connected with your parish through these channels. Understandably there are questions with regard to parish functions, and for the most part the decision whether or not to proceed with a planned activity will rest upon the group or club in conjunction with discussion with parish staff. We do have to remember that under Phase I, the parish buildings are not available for use (other than the church for “church services”) as communicated in yesterday’s update.
As always, we as a staff will do our best to keep you informed. What is important is that we not lose our sense of identity as the parish of Blessed Sacrament in Scottsdale. Even though we may not be able to gather in a complete fashion for the Mass and campus activities at this point, we will be able to do so someday in the not-to-distant future and celebrate our faith. Until then, please take advantage of what we can offer including attending the Mass in person (if able to do so) or via electronic means, praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration Chapel, by reading the newsletter and emails, and calling your friends and neighbours to check up on them and offering assistance to the best of your ability.
The sign-up for Mass this weekend has opened and is available on our parish website. Please take advantage of it and sign up for your preferred time if you are comfortable with coming to the public Mass.
Your parish welcomes you whenever you feel up to returning if you haven’t already done so, and you remain in our prayers. Let us all pray for an end to the virus and the associated problems caused by this situation.
May God continue to bless you and keep you healthy and holy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Kings 18:20-39; Psalm 16; Matthew 5:17-39
“Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:18)
Sometimes when things go wrong, it can be spectacular. All sorts of calculations and tests were done when the Japanese government decided to build the new Kansai International Airport on an artificial (man-made) island in the middle of Osaka Bay . The initial cost was $20 billion in 1994 dollars, and the people of the area were promised an airport that would last for at least 50 years. It has been updated and added to in the last 20 years since it opened, and continues to function as the nation’s fourth largest airport. While the airport has survived earthquakes and typhoons, the terminal buildings are sinking faster than the island is settling – much faster so that by 2030 it may be below sea level. While the engineered island is surrounded by a massive dike, the fact remains that airplanes don’t do well in water should a dike break, a very real possibility in an area of unstable land and violent storms, and being below sea level means the potential for severe flooding exists. So the question was raised – in one of Japan’s fastest growing regions, does the government try to “shore up” and improve their investment or do they abolish it and start over?
In many respects, Jesus was facing a similar situation. The faithful Jews were promised by God salvation according to the Mosaic laws. Jesus, however, came along and was preaching what was in many ways seemed to be a “new” law, or so they thought. Jesus had a tremendous knowledge and respect of the Jewish Scripture, but he saw that the “old way” had some problems – it wasn’t that God’s laws were bad, but human beings had imposed some new conditions or had misunderstandings so that the Law was no longer in line with God’s law in some ways. Jesus had to clarify his teachings: in today’s Gospel reading He declares that he has come not to abolish the Law and the prophets, the two most authoritative sections of the Jewish Scriptures, but to complete them. He did not throw away the “old design” nor did He pretend to be starting from scratch. He took what was already in place, and renewed it through teaching and revelation.
There was much in the tradition of Jesus’ own people which he valued, but he wanted to bring that tradition to a greater richness and fullness. Jesus’ attitude toward his own religious tradition suggests that we don’t simply jettison our religious tradition because some new fad or movement has come along or some new societal trends have occurred in opposition of His teaching, but neither do we simply canonize the “old” way. And while it is true that the Church is always in need of reform and renewal, like the airport noted above, we don’t need to abandon it either. That would simply cost too much. In fact, it might just be that we need to “double-down” on what the Magisterium of the Church has already provided, and recognize that Sacred Scripture is just that: sacred because it is divinely inspired and interpreted. Yet, this work of renewal will always involve honouring what is best in our Tradition by allowing its rich potential to be fully realized. Likewise, the Holy Spirit renews our own personal lives by honouring what is best in our own unique story while moving us towards new horizons – a new Heaven and a new Earth.
Prayer
Thank you Father for what you have given us in the Tradition of our faith. Help us to recognize in your holy Word the beauty of Christ’s teachings and we pray that the leaders of the Church stay faithful to what has been as well as to recognize the areas needing reform and renewal, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
Tuesday, 9 June 2020
Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Hello all.
A common question we have been receiving in the office of late is: “When will be able to…” and fill in the blank. It’s a good question, and an honest one as we work our way through a period of time which has been full of questions.
The short answer to this question is “I don’t know.” The more complete answer to this question is that it depends on the Governor as well as the Diocese. We are still in “Phase I” and this phase limits the activities that are not specifically “church services.” (“Services” is a broad term that encompasses the Mass as well as similar events at other denominations.) Once we move into the next phase of “opening up,” it will be clearer as to when the parish can begin to offer facilities and host gatherings other than for the Mass. What is clear is that at this point, events other than the Mass for our parish (such as meetings of clubs, novenas, etc.) are not part of the Phase I re-opening, unless, of course, there is further modification from the Diocese on this subject.
So, in the short term, we will remain offering the Mass has we have been in recent weeks, and other on-campus events will have to be postponed until restrictions are lifted. Let us continue to pray for an end to the COVID-19 virus so that we can return to a faith life with which we are all accustomed.
God’s blessings to you.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Kings 17:7-16; Psalm 4; Matthew 5:13-16
“Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)
One of the reasons I liked studying the Old Testament was how stories were told; the wording was direct and the characters were multi-dimensional, just like us. The first reading today is the story of a widow who had very little of this world’s goods at her disposal. It was a desperate time for her and her son. In a time of drought and famine she only had enough food for herself and her son for their last meal; after that, nothing – there was nothing else and no way to get more. Yet, she was persuaded to share the little she had by and with Elijah the prophet. When she shared the little she had, she discovered that she would never run short again.
The widow in the Old Testament discovered in her own life the truth of what Jesus was to say many hundreds of years later: “give and it will be given to you… the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6:36). This is the gospel paradox – it is in giving that we receive. This is the case whether what we give is in terms of material resources or our gifts or our time or our energy. Many people have discovered this truth from their own experiences, yet many haven’t discovered it. Years ago, after I noticed a friend of mine quit going to Mass, she said, “I just don’t get anything out of it.” My thought at the time was, “Well, what did you put into it?”
In the gospel reading, Jesus calls on us to let our light shine, to give generously of what we have at our disposal, just as did the widow. Additionally, letting our light shine shows itself in what Jesus refers to as “good works.” Jesus also reminds us of the ultimate reason why we give of ourselves and engage in good works: it is so that God may be praised. In giving of ourselves, we do not look to be praised; we look for God to be praised.

Prayer
Father, I know that I have been given much – maybe not materially, but I recognize that I have received from you what I need. Help me to share those things with others who are in need, and to help others recognize that they, too, have been given so much of your bounty. I pray that whatever I do, that it be you who receive the glory. Amen.
Monday, 8 June 2020
Tenth Week of Ordinary Time
I know that many of you have been praying for an end to the violence and destruction that has plagued our community (and nation) over the last week, and for that, you are to be commended. As Bishop Olmsted offers the Mass tonight for the end to the sin of racism, we join him in the same prayer. We also recognize that violence never solves anything but, in fact, creates even more problems and can enhance racial bigotry and stereotypes. No one wins in violence – certainly not the victim, but the perpetrator as well. And that is why we must pray for both victim and assailant.
With the end of the curfew this morning, our Blessed Sacrament Adoration Chapel returns to its 24-hour-a-day operation. As was the case before the curfew, the chapel and gate will be locked at 7.00p until 6.00a for the safety of the adorers.
I have also included below a review of our policies and procedures for the Mass. While there may not be anything new, it is good to review these items to help maintain our reverent and safe environment as we welcome more and more people to the celebration of the Holy Mass.
Again, thank you for all of your support for our parish and the staff. The staff and I look forward to our summer journey together with our parishioners as we gather together in His name.
May God continue to bless us all.
Fr Bryan
Review of Parish Polices and Procedures for the Holy Mass
The polices and practices that Blessed Sacrament has implemented have been a model for other parishes in the Valley and most parishes have adopted similar methods of welcoming parishioners “home.” As a reminder, these policies and procedures have been listed below.
The dispensation from attending Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Masses is still in effect.
Please register for Mass should you choose to attend. Registration will help us to maintain the required separation and avoid turning worshipers away from attending the Mass and this is especially important as our numbers of attendees rises. Visit the parish website or call the office and we can add your name. Registration opens on the website on Wednesday evening. If you have other family members or guests coming with you, please register them as well or ask them to do it.
Please arrive 15 minutes early to Mass. As the number of people attending increases, there will be less disturbance trying to find a seat once Mass has started.
Please sit only in benches not “taped off”; do not remove the tape to sit in a bench. The seat backs are marked with a green sticker identifying a place to sit. Please do not sit between the markers, but “at” the marker. Families are welcome to sit closer together, but in the same row.
The use of a mask is strongly encouraged as per CDC, State, and guidelines from the Diocese, but it is not required at this time.
Please use only the courtyard entrances/exits. All other doors are available for emergency use only.
When exiting the church after the final blessing, please maintain proper distancing practices currently in effect.
By adopting and practicing these policies and procedures, we will be able to continue to offer the Holy Mass in a reverent and safe environment for all who choose to come to Mass.

Review of Parish Polices and Procedures for the Reception of Holy Communion
Given the current environment and distancing requirements, Blessed Sacrament continues to offer Holy Communion for those in attendance at the Holy Mass with the following polices and procedures in effect:
Communion will be distributed to those who are in attendance at the daily and Sunday Mass, as well as anyone attending on a Holy Day of Obligation although dispensation from attending Mass remains in effect.
Only the Precious Body will be distributed.
Three stations for the reception of Holy Communion will be offered; the center aisle as well as to the left and to the right of the sanctuary.
Communion for those who wish to receive on the tongue will only be distributed at the center position; please wait until all others have received Communion in the hand.
Communion can be brought to those in attendance and who cannot come to the sanctuary for distribution; please identify yourself to an usher or raise your hand to identify yourself prior to the conclusion of distribution to the general recipients.
Please maintain proper distance between the person in front of you. The floor of each aisle is marked with proper spacing.
To Receive the Eucharist
Please step all the way forward to the minister, bow (or genuflect) to the Body of Christ in the minister’s ciborium, and then extend your hands.
Respond with “Amen” after the minister says, “Body of Christ.”
Take a few steps to the side, remove your mask if wearing one, place the Body of Christ in your mouth, replace mask if wearing one, then proceed back to the seating area. Please do not “eat-on-the-run”; to avoid the possibility of profaning the Eucharist, the minister is charged with making sure the Host is consumed prior to leaving the sanctuary.
If receiving Communion on the tongue, please proceed to the center aisle and wait until the end of the general distribution (as much as possible) to join the line.
Bow, genuflect, or kneel before the Body of Christ in the minister’s ciborium.
Respond with “Amen” after the minister says, “Body of Christ.”
The Host will be placed on the tongue after which the minister will sanitize his fingers for the next communicant.
By following these practices, which have been the “norm” established by the USCCB and included in the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (with the exception of the mask) for many years, we all maintain the reverence that is due our Lord in the sacred moment of reception.

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
1 Kings 17:1-8; Psalm 121; Matthew 5:1-12
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:12)
Years ago, it was put forward that humor should be injected into the homily because “people like to laugh.” While there is no argument with the statement that people like to laugh, the question becomes does it belong in a homily just because people like to laugh. As this idea caught on, in some instances the priest or deacon would offer a joke regardless of whether it had anything to do with the readings or not and thus headed the Holy Mass toward an “entertainment” event as opposed to a worship event.
This week we start in Chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel and will be in this chapter for a couple of weeks. It starts with the famous “Sermon on the Mount” which could hardly be described as a humorous monologue as one might find on late night television. It has a point, and Jesus gets right to it in Matthew’s account (which is always a feature of Matthew’s Gospel – he is quite direct). This isn’t to say that Jesus is boring; quite the opposite. I would only imagine that his hearers were quite engaged as their Teacher was explaining to them what was required to have a heart modeled after His heart.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus puts before his disciples – and before us – a very demanding way of life. In the Beatitudes he declares that those who embrace such a way of life are indeed blessed and are fortunate. If Jesus can convey a sense that those who follow the way of life he is about to outline are truly blessed, then such a way of living will become something we want rather than just something we are required to do. The values of the beatitudes are the core values of the Sermon Jesus preaches. If we allow our lives to be shaped by these values, then we are indeed blessed, even though it may not be at all obvious to others or even to ourselves. Jesus is suggesting that we don’t find authentic happiness – the state of being blessed by God – by pursuing happiness. Rather, to find real happiness we have to set our sights on something beyond happiness. We have to set our sight on those kingdom values that Jesus proclaimed by His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and also by His life and His death.
Yes, it is important to have a sense of humor – no doubt about that. But it is even more important to have a sense of whom we are called to be in God’s plan. And yes, God does have a sense of humor; but even it has a purpose.

Prayer
My Lord, you have given me so many things for which I am grateful, even though at times I may not show it. I pray to you that by your never-ending and boundless grace, I may have a heart patterned after the heart of Jesus as shown in the Beatitudes. Amen.
Friday, 5 June 2020
Memorial: St Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
Greetings all!
Just three hours ago, the Diocese of Phoenix has announced that Bishop Olmsted will offer a “Mass for the Forgiveness of the Sin of Racism” on Monday, 8 June at 6.00p from the Cathedral of Sts Simon and Jude. Seating is limited, so they are requesting that anyone who wishes to go to RSVP. From the statement, it is unclear as to whether or not the RSVP will be posted on the Diocesan website or not, so it is best to check the Diocesan website (https://dphx.org/) for updates on this event. The communique did not include information as to whether or not the Mass would be streamed. If I get any more information on this, I will let you know.
Fr Kevin Grimditch will be moving to St Joan of Arc beginning the first week of July. Fr Kevin will continue his main assignment with the Diocese of Phoenix in the Office of the Tribunal during the week, but will assist at with the weekend Mass schedule at St Joan of Arc. We thank him for his service to our parish during the interim between pastoral assignments and pray for him as he continues to serve our Lord in his ministry. If you would like to offer Fr Kevin thanks, please feel free to drop or post cards and letters to him here at the Blessed Sacrament office and we will make sure that he gets them.
On behalf of the staff, I would like to thank you for all your support for our parish as well as your prayers over the last few months. We have faced some challenging times, and will continue to do so, and with by grace of God, we will continue to do so together.
Have a blessed weekend.
Fr Bryan
P.S. Please don’t forget to sign up for the Holy Mass at Blessed Sacrament. It is very important that you do so as this will help us monitor the number of people attending so that we can be compliant with the health and safety regulations put forth by the State of Arizona and the Diocese of Phoenix. Visit the parish website to sign up – it’s easy!
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Timothy 3:10-17; Psalm 119; Mark 12:35-37
Optional Readings for St Boniface: Acts 26:19-23; Psalm 117; John 10:11-16
“How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: ‘The Lord said to my lord…'” (Mark 12:36)
Titles are something that identify the person and can tell something about their life: Dr. (doctor, dentist, PhD), Mrs. (marital status), Fr. (ordained priest), Captain (of a vessel of some sort), Dame (British title for an honoured woman), etc. (For an incredible list of titles, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_titles). Of course, the titles never can tell us everything about a person, no matter how many letters are placed before or after their name.
Consider today’s Gospel. In the passage, Jesus suggests that the title, “Son of David” is not adequate for God’s Messiah – for Himself. Many Jews expected the coming Messiah to be a son of David, a descendant of David so it was important for Jesus to recognize this expectation. In the manner of a discussion among Rabbis, Jesus argues His case on the basis of a verse the Psalms (cf. Psalm 110): it was generally understood in the time of Jesus that King David was the author of the psalms. In one psalm, the person praying, understood to be David, refers to the coming anointed one, the coming Messiah, as ‘my Lord’. Jesus argues that if David refers to the coming Messiah as ‘my Lord’, then the Messiah cannot simply be David’s Son but that He is clearly David’s Lord.
What Jesus is really saying here is that there is much more to him than people imagine, then and now. Yes, He is a son of David, a Jew from the line of David. Yet, Jesus’ full identity is not exhausted by the title Son of David. We are being reminded that there is always more to Jesus than we imagine. Our ways of thinking and speaking about Jesus will always fall short of his full identity. He is always more mysterious and much more wonderful than we can possible conceive. Saint Paul speaks of “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). It is because Jesus, in the love of God in human form, that He is beyond any title we could give him. Our thoughts and words never do justice to Him, and that is ultimately very consoling.
I’ll paraphrase Mother Angelica: “There are only two letters that should matter for us to be placed before our name: St.” In the end, no others letters before or after our names matter.

Prayer
Father, thank you for your Son who has given us the Holy Spirit. While we can never fully understand everything about your Son, I know that you love us and that is why you sent Him here: to redeem us from our sins and give us the opportunity for everlasting life with you. Amen.
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Part II of the “pep talk” – but I can’t improve on the words of Scripture:
“In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
(1 Peter 1:6-9, NRSVCE)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the world may seem messed up – but this is nothing new. It was that way when St Peter wrote this letter, it is that when when I write these reflections. Let us take the lead from St Peter and rejoice – rejoice in the fact that our Saviour Jesus Christ has conquered all evil, and rejoice in our faith, which is the salvation of our souls.
“…do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
(Isaiah 41:10, emphasis added.)
Spend some time with our Lord in the Adoration Chapel. Keep up with your prayers and be a “prayer warrior” so that, along with St Michael the Archangel’s powerful sword all the evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls are cast into Hell.
God’s blessings to you,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Timothy 2:8-15; Psalm 25; Mark 12:28-34
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9)
Pep Talk Part III:
In our 1st Reading, St Paul refers to himself as “being chained like a criminal.” Yet, he immediately goes on to say, “…but they cannot chain up God’s news.” Paul was aware that the gospel had a power of its own; its impact didn’t depend on whether he was free to preach it or not. Even if Paul was chained up and couldn’t work, the Lord was at work; even if Paul could not preach the gospel, the gospel was continuing to touch the hearts and lives of many people. Even though he was the great apostle to the Gentiles and the Lord needed him, the Lord could work without him. The Lord is bigger than any of us and His gospel is more powerful than any of us, yet somehow we can lose sight of these facts. At the end of the day, we are all His servants, but He needs us to be his servants – to be His eyes and ears and hands and feet and to speak the Truth.
There may come a time when we cannot serve for whatever reason, when we are ‘chained’ in some way, yet the Lord continues His good work without us. That doesn’t mean that we put down our tools. Indeed, we can work all the more freely, all the more generously, in the service of the Lord, when we know that it doesn’t all depend on us. When we meet with failure of whatever kind, we know the Lord’s good work continues. He can even turn our failures to a good purpose. As Paul says in our 1st Reading, “…we may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful” (2:13).
Because we know the Lord is always faithful to us, our own moments of unfaithfulness should not leave us demoralized. All the Lord asks of us is that we keep striving to love Him with all our being, all our heart, soul, mind and strength (cf Mark 12:30). When we love the Lord in this way, we will begin to love others with the Lord’s own love. That is a goal worth seeking; it gives meaning and direction to our lives.
Prayer
Jesus, I pray for the courage to face this world and while I don’t understand all of the hatred and violence, the unrest and the anxiety, I pray for those who are victims of such hatred, and I pray for those who hold hatred in their hearts that You, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through me as your servant, change the face of the world from dark and cloudy to light and love. Amen.
Wednesday, 3 June 2020
Memorial: St Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
Good Evening!
Time for a “pep” talk.
With all that is going on in the world, it seems that the negativity of it all is taking hold, that hope and joy have been removed. It can seem quite bad.
It’s important for each of us to remember that the world thrives on negativity – political and social media and speech along with the actions of the “players” in society influence and are influenced by public opinion. To “stir the pot” is their goal for it is in unrest and anxiety that people will succumb to whatever “cure” they are peddling at the moment.
But the important thing to remember is that we always have a choice – we can wallow in it (whatever negativity “they” are peddling) or we can avoid the cesspool that they are trying to create by not jumping into it. It’s not that we take a Pollyanna view that everything is okay when it isn’t. But it is important to recognize that there are things that “I” may not be able to do anything about on the wider scale (except, of course, pray) but that what “I” can work within are my own surroundings: family, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc, just as St Theresa of Calcutta referenced. Personal well-being is controlled not by some bureaucrat or talking-head on the news: personal well-being involves recognizing that God is in control, He has it all in view, and that if the focus of the moment remains on Him – He who indwells within each person – then the influence of the world is of no avail. The world is the realm of evil; Heaven is the realm of the Good. And while we may live in the realm of evil, it cannot control those of us who dwell in the realm of the Good.
Yes, it takes a lot of effort to not succumb to the world and it’s negative actions or messages, but in truth, it has always been that way, and always will be. It is a fight to the finish, and for those of us with faith, that fight is well worth it. It is a message the world has chosen not to hear, but that doesn’t mean we have to listen to the world!
Before you go to sleep tonight, take a moment and look for the Good in your life; He’s there. Choose to dwell with Him.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12; Psalm 123; Mark 12:18-27
“He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”
As a teacher, the questions that students would come up with were generally subject related, but sometimes they would come up with some “off-the-wall” questions, usually to get me sidetracked so that it would delay the start of the lesson. I knew what they were trying to do so they didn’t get away with it very often. Sometimes, however, they would have some really good questions that deserved a bit of discussion and I was happy to engage in a conversation for a bit – but we would eventually get back to the subject matter that was to be taught.
Jesus certainly gets a lot of questions. Unlike the questions that I would get from my students, Jesus had to face questions that were of malicious intent. He certainly got that in today’s event. Both readings work together in they reference the afterlife. In this morning’s first reading, Saint Paul declares that Jesus “abolished death, and proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.” This was one of the ways Paul understood the ministry of Jesus, as the proclamation of eternal life and immortality through the good news or gospel. In this morning’s Gospel reading, the Sadducees who question Jesus were a Jewish group who did not believe in eternal life or immortality. They rejected Jesus’ proclamation and by means of their questioning they try to show how foolish is the belief in life after death. Their ridiculous question involves a woman who had seven husbands and they wanted to know whose wife will she be in the afterlife? Their question presupposes that life after death is some form of extension of this earthly life. In his answer, Jesus indicates that our existence after death will be very different to our present existence and this life cannot simply be transposed onto the next life. As Jesus says, we will be like the angels in heaven (although we can never actually be angels).
Of course, we cannot say what that life will be like. As Paul says in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (2:9). When Paul does try to speak about life beyond death, he often speaks of it in terms of an experience of communion; it is a communion with the Lord and with each other. In one of his letters he simply says, “we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Perhaps that is as much as we need to know.

Prayer
Father, I have many questions about my faith, and the teachings of your Son. Help me to accept what faith provides as well as the understanding to accept that I cannot know everything that you have given me. Help me focus on the present, care for my brothers and sisters in love, and know that by loving you and them, I can hope for the eternal reward to be with you always. Amen.
Tuesday, 2 June 2020
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Optional Memorial: Saints Marcellinus and Peter
How about some good news?
I mentioned a few days ago about an upcoming ordination. Well, it’s official. There are more. Here’s the announcement from the Diocese of Phoenix:
On behalf of Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Nevares, we are grateful to God to announce that Deacon Estevan Wetzel, Deacon Nathaniel Glenn, Deacon Kevin Penkalski, and Deacon Gabriel Terrill will be raised to the Order of Priests on Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. The Mass of Ordination is by invitation only. All are invited to watch and pray the Mass live on Facebook or Youtube. Find the program at dphx.org/ordination.
I’m sure you join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for these men who have chosen to follow the promptings of the the Holy Spirit to serve God and the rest of us in Holy Orders. Let us ask Mother Mary to continue to pray for her adopted sons who are to model themselves after her Son.
In a world seemingly gone mad, we are given hope.
May God’s blessings be upon you and your family and friends that you stay safe, healthy, and holy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18; Psalm 90; Mark 12:13-17
“And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
Here’s a word that we all have, but sometimes have a hard time using: patience. Anyone who has been in a customer service job knows this word well when it comes to working with the public. Teachers know it too, and parents certainly know it. But knowing it isn’t the same as putting it into practice – that can be quite difficult, right? I know I thank God for His patience with me – often multiple times a day. And since He has given me His patience, then I recognize that I must pass it along to others, just as God forgives me, so I must forgive others. I think both patience and forgiveness work hand-in-hand, but can certainly be hard to put into practice.
The Lord’s patience is our opportunity. Patience is certainly a virtue and one we appreciate when we are shown it. Patience is the ability to wait on people – not like waiting on someone in a restaurant or a store, but on waiting for them to understand – to understand bigger and more fundamental truths. Jesus once spoke a parable about a barren fig three that the landowner wanted to cut down. However, the landowner’s gardener was a much more patient man. He persuaded his master to leave the fig tree for another tree during which he would tend to it to ensure it bore fruit the following year. Jesus was patient with people, including his own disciples. So many times they failed to grasp what he was trying to say to them, but he never gave up on them. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ patience is put to the test. The Pharisees and the Herodians asked him what seemed like a serious question: “Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” In reality, they were not looking for information but, as the gospel reading says, they were trying to catch Jesus out. They weren’t being sincere and, according to the gospel reading, Jesus saw through their hypocrisy. Yet, he was patient with them. Jesus’ patience towards his opponents on this occasion was their opportunity to learn a vital lesson for life. It was their opportunity to understand His teachings – and to understand just who He was, and is.
The Lord’s patience with us is always our opportunity to enter into an understanding of the virtue of patience that has been given to each of us as a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is up to us to take that gift and share it with others.

Prayer
Jesus, my heart is often troubled with the little crosses that I must bear, and often must bear them daily. Help me to be patient with others as you are patient with me. Amen.

Prayer
Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of my life, in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me forget myself so that I may enjoy the happiness of others. Let me always hide my little pains and heartaches so that I may be the only one to suffer from them. Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden or embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable; that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow or proud or overbearing. May no one be less good for having come within my influence; no one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble, for having been a fellow traveler with me on our journey towards eternal life. As I meet with one cross after another, let me whisper a word of love to You. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.
From “Our Catholic Prayers” online, 2020.

Monday, 1 June 2020
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Memorial: Mary, Mother of the Church

Welcome to June!

As noted in last night’s communication regarding the Governor’s curfew restrictions, we have had to make adjustments to our Adoration Chapel hours as have many other parishes in the Valley. The hours have changed just slightly from what was sent out last night and have been adjusted in order to comply with the curfew and help our parishioners and visitors be in compliance with the curfew.
Beginning Monday, 1 June, the public operating hours of the Adoration Chapel are:
Open: 6.00a
Close: 7.00p
These hours will remain in effect through Sunday, 7 June as the curfew is lifted on 8 June at 5.00a or until changed by the governor’s office. On Monday, 8 June, the Adoration Chapel opens at 6.00a and returns to 24-hour operation.

I know this is a sad state of affairs, and that prayer is needed now more than ever (we’ve been saying that a lot lately!). But it is important to note that the Chapel is NOT closed all day – it is still open 13 hours each day for prayer and Adoration during the hours listed above.

Additionally, the campus at Blessed Sacrament will also observe the same hours; in other words, the gates to the courtyard and access to the buildings will be open between the hours noted above (and locked the rest of the time for the overnight hours).

Thank you for your understanding and help through this turbulent bit of history in our community. Your prayers are greatly appreciated for all involved.

God’s blessings to you and your family for safety, health, and holiness.

Fr. Bryan

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 87; John 19:25-34

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.'” (John 19:26-27)

Unnamed heroes and heroines can be found in literature as well as the Bible. You may remember the question, “Who was that masked man?” Of course, the readers knew his name, but the characters in the story didn’t know the name or identity of their hero. In the Bible, there is “the woman at the well” and others who participated in Salvation History. In today’s Gospel, we have an unnamed character – even though Tradition tells us the disciple “whom He loved” is John the Evangelist – his name isn’t specifically given in Scripture. Might there be a reason for this?

At the foot of the cross there is again a little community of men and women, rather, of one man, the beloved disciple, and several named women. This beloved disciple who has no announced name stands in for us all, male and female disciples alike, and what Jesus says to him he says to us all, “This is your mother,” having just said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Mary becomes mother of all disciples, the mother of the church at the foot of the cross, and at Pentecost she shows herself a mother by praying with other disciples in preparation for the coming of the Spirit. In the first reading Eve is spoken of as “the mother of all those who live.” Mary was understood early in the church as the new Eve, mother of all those who live with the life of her Son, a life received in baptism and nourished at the Eucharist. Mothers tend to pray for their children, and Mary prays for us all, just as she was praying with the disciples (Acts 12:14). In the Hail Mary we recognize this motherly role of Mary when we say to her, “Pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We all need people to pray for us, and it is reassuring to know that Mary, mother of the church, our spiritual mother, is always praying for us.

There might be times when we, too, can be that unnamed disciple whom Jesus loves. Practicing “random acts of kindness” usually doesn’t involve giving a name. Handing a bottle of water to a street person, helping an elderly person load groceries into the car, or sending an anonymous donation to a favourite charity are all ways that we can be that “unnamed disciple” standing at the foot of the Cross. And in this day and age, we just might be wearing a mask when we do it!

Prayer
Jesus, thank you for giving us your Mother. We see in your wisdom our need to have a spiritual mother as well as our biological mother, because your Mother’s “yes” to God imitates our mother’s yes to God so that we, too, might be born. As we work to carry out our mission as disciples, let us never fail to honour our birth mother as well as Your Mother by all we say and do. Amen.

31 May 2020
Curfew Information Regarding Blessed Sacrament
Brothers and sisters in Christ
With the turmoil in the country at the moment, Governor Ducey has issued a curfew order effective at 8.00p tonight (31 May 2020) through 5.00a tomorrow (1 June 2020). His order does allow for certain people to be out during these times, and he has permitted travel to/from “religious services” during the curfew hours. (To review the order, a link at the bottom of this page has been included.) However, given the situation in our community, I feel it necessary to temporarily close the Adoration Chapel during the curfew for the overnight hours tonight.
I have not received any direction or clarification on the situation from the Diocese of Phoenix at this point, so it is my decision to proceed with closing the Chapel for tonight. With the understanding that the Governor’s curfew is in effect for a week, tomorrow I will review the situation with the staff and, if possible, the Diocese of Phoenix should they provide guidance. Please continue to monitor our parish communications channels for further updates.
This curfew does not affect our scheduled Mass times tomorrow at 7.00a or 6.00p which will still be offered as scheduled.
This is different than the situation regarding the Chapel and the virus. With the virus, we were able to control the environment of the Chapel. However, with the curfew, it is the safety of our parishioners and adorers to and from the chapel that is paramount and is something that we cannot control other than to ask our adorers to stay home.
The world and our country needs prayers now more than ever, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will indwell in the hearts and minds of people everywhere so that they can accept that violence is never a solution. Such action is the realm of the devil and only leads to more hate and distrust.
I have included some prayers for peace below. You’re welcome to pray these prayers and/or add your own. The important things is that we pray for it!
God’s love and mercy and protection to you and your family and friends.
Fr Bryan
Prayers for Peace
From St Pope John Paul II
Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings laden with the sufferings of whole societies. Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love. May it put a stop to evil. May it transform consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope. Amen.
From St Francis Xavier
Almighty God, We bless you for our lives, we give you praise for your abundant mercy and grace we receive. We thank you for your faithfulness even though we are not that faithful to you. Lord Jesus, we ask you to give us all around peace in our mind, body, soul and spirit. Amen.
Link to Governor Ducey’s Curfew Order:
https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2020/05/emergency-declaration-curfew-beginning-tonight
Friday, 29 May 2020
Seventh Week of Eastertide
Optional Memorial: St Paul VI (Pope)
As the last week of the Church’s Easter season comes to a close tomorrow, we prepare ourselves for the “birthday” of the Church on Pentecost Sunday. We are excited to offer the Rite of Christian Initiation at our 4.00p Vigil Mass tomorrow, and if you wish to join us for this beautiful moment of welcoming, you are most welcome to do so either in attendance at the Mass or by being present virtually via the live stream (on our website or Facebook page). Please keep our catechumens and candidates in your prayers, and thank God for each of them accepting the grace of the Holy Spirit for their entry into our beautiful Catholic faith.
Also of note this weekend, and I was notified of this joyful event last night, is that Ian Wintering will be ordained to the transitional diaconate this Sunday at the 9.00a Mass at SS. Simon & Jude Cathedral. His family will be there, but the Mass attendance will be limited per the Covid guidelines and unfortunately there will not be a reception after the Mass also due to these limitations. His priestly ordination will be the following Saturday June 6th at 10.00a. The families of the ordinandi will be there, but the Mass is closed to the public and again there will not be a reception after the Mass. Both Masses can be seen on the diocesan social media sites. If you wish to join in the celebration through the live streamed Masses, please do so by visiting the diocesan website (https://dphx.org/) for the stream. Again, please keep Ian in your prayers as he needs all the strength from the Holy Spirit he can get, as I can attest prior to ordination the Devil works very hard to prevent it. I have included a sample prayer in the next section that you can pray for Ian.
I wish you all a very blessed Pentecost, and may the Holy Spirit continue to fill you and your loved ones with His many gifts.
Fr Bryan
Prayer Before Ordination to the Priesthood
O Lord Jesus Christ, the great High Priest, who calls chosen souls to offer You in sacrifice and to assist You in saving souls, I beseech You to grant to Ian Wintering this high grace though he may be most unworthy of it; make him carefully to prepare his heart to receive your grace and to keep himself pure and lowly that You may call Him to serve You at Your holy altar.
Amen.
O Mary, Mother of God and my dear mother too, obtain for Ian Wintering this grace from the Sacred Heart of thy dear Son. Hail Mary…


Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 25:13-21; Psalm 103; John 21:15-19
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’”
A “do-over” is something that I think about sometimes. I wish I had that opportunity to “do over” some things of the past. Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so much or had that second piece of cake with ice cream, or perhaps some harsh words, or maybe a missed opportunity to share in the life of a friend or loved one – or even a stranger for that matter – who needed help. Perhaps you’ve had those thoughts as well. It’s not that we dwell on the past, but those “do-overs” can be valuable lessons so that we don’t wish for a “do-over” the next time a similar situation presents itself.
In our Gospel reading, we are witnesses to a huge “do-over” in Peter’s life. Peter so often seems to do something random, is at the wrong end of the questions and answers with Jesus, and even offers some inappropriate comments. And although on the surface it seems a little cruel and unusual on the part of Jesus in his exchange with Peter by asking him what seems to be the same question three times, with our 20/20 hindsight we know that Peter needed this “do-over” opportunity to unravel his major “stuff-up” of Good Friday. Back then there were three denials, today there were three affirmations. It’s almost as if Jesus is giving Peter the chance to roll back the clock. For every time Peter said a variation of, “I tell you, I do not know the man,” today he says, “you know that I love you,” and does so even as Jesus alludes to the martyr’s death Peter will die in Jesus’ name.
I mentioned above the thought about the times I might like to have a “do-over” and suggested you might have a few in your life as well. But there’s also the other side of the “do-over” that needs to be considered. Might you and I be able to offer someone the chance to do a “do-over” after some guffaw of their own – to give them the chance to change direction, to offer an apology, or re-word a statement that came out wrong? Jesus chose Peter even knowing that he would deny Him – Peter even challenged Jesus’ will (Matthew 16:21-22) – and yet Jesus trusted that Peter would do what needed to be done. And Peter trusted that Jesus was who He said that He was (Matthew 16:16), got his chance at a “do-over,” and changed the face of the earth forever.
So whether we get a chance at a “do-over” or can offer one to somebody who needs one – small or large – that “do-over” can have a major impact on the lives of many, and for the rest of their lives – and ours – for all eternity.
Prayer
God of mercy, I come to you with my head bowed and heavy heart and ask you for forgiveness of those times when I denied You through words or actions or lack of words of love or inaction. Hear me, Lord, as I answer as Peter did: “Lord, you know I love you.” Amen.
Thursday, 28 May 2020
Seventh Week of Eastertide
Thursday Greetings!
This morning we celebrated graduation for the young people of our school at Blessed Sacrament. It was wonderful to see the kids arrive with their parents and siblings in their decorated cars . Some of the kids are moving on to First Grade, and some are moving up within our school – but whatever their “next destination,” the kids were excited. It was also great to see the teachers and kids interacting one last time before summer break – and this personal interaction was probably the first time the teachers and students had been physically together in many weeks. I would also like to add my thanks to the parents of these kids who have supported our school, as well as to the teachers and Mrs Fraher for all their hard work, especially for adapting so quickly to the virtual learning environment and helping the kids continue to learn. I would also like to thank the members of the parent board for their dedication to our school. Let us all pray that next year will be a more “normal” year as I’m sure the kids and parents and teachers will all enjoy the classroom again!
Summer seems to be full on – I guess that’s fitting because Memorial Day seems to be the “unofficial start for Summer.” I hope you are able to plan some sort of holiday this summer, even if it is a “stay-cation.” Whatever you do, please stay safe this summer and enjoy some time with family and friends.
God’s blessings to you and your family.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 22:30, 23:6-11; Psalm 16; John 17:20-26
“When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred…” (Acts 23:7-9).
The reflection today builds on a previous one that I offered in that our 1st Reading offers once again the turmoil in the ancient society over the beliefs of the fledgling Church – and really it isn’t much different today. There’s a problem, and the division revolves around the belief systems of two groups: The Sadducees and the Pharisees.
In a general observation, maybe you have noticed like I have that when people start drawing closer to the truth, sometimes out of the blue comes a roadblock of some sort that threatens to derail everything. Sometimes it’s a bit inconsequential, like when trying to diet it seems that every commercial on TV is for some delicious food – and don’t the advertisers know how to make the simplest food look good! – or maybe its something bigger like drawing closer to God through prayer and at Holy Mass when a busy day is confronted with a personal problem so there’s no time to pray or the boss sends you away on a trip and you can’t get to Mass? Then, of course, there are those arguments at home or at work that create bickering and distrust, let alone those disagreements or frustration with the priest or pope. The devil loves to sow doubt and division, especially amongst those of us who are faithful striving daily to do God’s work. So often people of great faith – those who are deeply committed to their beliefs and their efforts to make the world a better place – end up at each other’s throats over differences of opinion – small ones and great ones alike. Such is not God’s handiwork for sure. It is Satan that is the great divider.
I’ve seen this unfold before my eyes in some of the parishes in which I have been placed. A good cause or project is identified, and people gather to move it forward. Suddenly infighting begins over how best to move forward or what to do to promote the idea; personalities clash, ideas and ideals “crash and burn,” people quit and try to take others with them. When such things happen, it is good to take a step back and know that, like St Paul, you are watching the devil trying to undo the Lord’s work. We know that the devil won’t win in the end, but many of us may get caught in the “spiritual crossfire.” We must always we on watch for this so that the good work, even if we don’t agree with how it is being managed or conducted, is allowed to go forward. If it is the will of God, it will work out.

Prayer
Dear Lord, I pray for patience and an open mind to your will. May I be of force for unity and work to heal the divisions that tear families, friendships, communities, and parishes apart as I know that this is not your will. May I also have the wisdom to discern what is disguised by the devil, and what is genuinely from You. Amen.
Wednesday, 27 May 2020
Seventh Week of Eastertide
St Augustine of Canterbury
Hello all!
Thank you for your patience while the website was “down” but the good news it is up and running. The link to sign up for the Sunday Mass of your choice has also been emailed and the link is also on the website. I have also included it here:  https://bscaz.org/mass
Remember that the 4.00p Vigil will be an extended liturgy for the Rite of Christian Initiation. We practiced the liturgy tonight and it will be beautiful and you’re most welcome to attend. It will also be streamed. Please keep the candidates and catechumens in your prayers. They are a wonderful group of young people and have waited an extra long time to be part of the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
Today’s webinar with the Diocese reiterated that we are still functioning in Phase I of the three phases (as is the State of Arizona) when our participation at the Holy Mass will be fully restored. Until that time, there will continue to be limits on the number of people permitted for public gatherings in the church itself, as well as other areas of the campus. The dispensation for the Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation remains in effect for all baptized Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix.
Of course, the limited number of people in a gathering is only part of the picture; there continues the need for extensive cleaning and sanitization efforts before and after the public gatherings which your parish continues to conduct, as well as staffing limitations due to budgetary issues. So we can expect our present operating conditions to remain in effect for at least a few more weeks. Your patience and understanding are most appreciated as we navigate through these uncharted waters of our present age. But we know that with our faith, our Church, and the love and mercy of God, all will be well.
May God continue to bless you and your family and friends, and keep you holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan

Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 17; John 17:11-19
In our world, a world in which relativism is rampant, it is difficult to discern the truth – to know it and to speak it. But the truth is, truth has never been a relative thing; it is what it is: true. The truth is not up for debate, but one would never know it what with both sides of the political debate spouting off and even in our personal life we find the truth hard to detect sometimes. People inside and outside of politics – and even inside and outside of our Church – put a “spin” on just about everything. (Think of it – we learn how to “spin” when we’re young – it’s how we tried to “bend” the truth to get out of doing our chores – and when they didn’t get done, we would “spin” our excuses to avoid getting into trouble.) What relativism comes down to is molding the something to fit our own wants and desires; and when we do that, the truth suffers and we are headed for trouble when that happens.
In both readings today, truth is the focal point – not a truth as we would have it or would like it to be, but the Truth as Incarnate – in Jesus – the Truth that God has revealed to us. Even to St Paul, it was evident that truth could become a tricky matter. In the 1st Reading, Paul warns that people from within their newly formed Christian community would come forward “perverting the truth” to try to lead people away from those who followed Jesus and His truth. Might this be familiar to us as well? It would be folly to think that our world – and the Church we know and love today – would be any different from what St Paul describes. Somehow, within in the human need for power, control, and material possessions truth continues to exist, yet is often a wounded victim (as St Teresa of Avila wrote, “Truth suffers, but never dies”); it still exists (for it cannot do otherwise) but truth has suffered in our humanness.
The only way to be sure we are not creating a truth in our own image is to cling to the Truth of the Gospel, to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and His teachings (and not try to bend or interpret them to our whim or the ideals of society), and remember that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Prayer
Jesus, your Truth is not always easy to understand and to live out, but I know that it is the only way to live. When I am confronted with the world and it’s “truth,” keep me strong to not give into the false promises of the worldly. Show me the Way to the Truth that sets me free. Amen.
Tuesday, 26 May 2020
Seventh Week of Eastertide
Memorial: St Philip Neri
Kia Ora
So, I guess it’s time to get reacquainted with Summer. It’s been quite mild so far, and sitting outside in the courtyard for the Sacrament of Confession has been quite nice on Saturday mornings as well as the late afternoon on Wednesdays. But it seems as though tomorrow will be quite warm so we’re going to be moving inside again for the Sacrament of Confession. While we cannot yet be in the confessionals due to the rather confined space and sanitization requirements, we will be moving into the parish hall. For the sacrament, please enter the doors into the hall off the courtyard and you’ll find some chairs right there to sit and wait for the priest to be available. The priests will be placed at the opposite end and spaced apart, so for the privacy of the people in the sacrament, do not use the doors to the parking lot to enter the hall. (I was hoping that we could still be outside for Saturday, but since it is supposed to be 111 degrees, so I guess we’ll be inside for that as well.) Thank you for your help in this matter.
We have reviewed our liturgy for Saturday’s Vigil Mass at which we will welcome our candidates and catechumens who diligently prepared to be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, but couldn’t because of the virus. But we are looking forward to welcoming them and your prayers are most appreciated for them. It will be a beautiful liturgy (and it is planned to be streamed), but it is extended due to the inclusion of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. Having said that, you are most welcome to join us in person or virtually as we welcome our new brothers and sisters in Christ.
I know we’ve had some problems with our website and it is not yet up and running. The good news is the problem is not on “our end” but is with the company with whom we have a contract to “host” the website. If the website is not up by tomorrow, we have a plan in place to put the website on a different “host” (with a different company) so that we can offer the streaming Mass over the weekend. I will keep you updated as the situation requires.
I have learned not to ask God, “What next, Lord?” because He will answer me!
Anyway, thank you for your prayers and support of Blessed Sacrament. You are in my prayers.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 20:17-27; Psalm 68; John 17:1-11
“Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.”
St Philip Neri seems a good fit for today’s message from St Paul about not being too attached to this life but rather to the ministry for which we have been called. He lived this message daily, bringing together lay people in his Oratory to pray and sing. He was known to be cheerful and kind, funny and deeply spiritual, and, like St Paul, trusted completely in God’s plan.
St Philip Neri is quoted as having said, “There is nothing more dangerous to the spiritual life than to wish to rule ourselves after our own way of thinking.” In this comment, he is helping us to understand that we cannot cling to our own ideas, our own plans, and our own goals as these may not match what God has in store for us, and like St Paul in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, not worry so much about this life. This is, of course, no small challenge. It takes more than determination and commitment; it takes prayer and a willingness to surrender. We can pray to St Philip Neri as a model of the humility, faithfulness, and cheerfulness that will sustain us in our efforts.

Prayer
I surrender my heart to you, Lord. Help me to do this with courage, with cheer, and with patience and be faithful to You in all I do. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.
Monday, 25 May 2020
Seventh Week of Eastertide
Memorial Day (U.S.)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
First, I would like to say thank you to all who joined us (physically and virtually) for the Holy Mass this past week and weekend. It takes many dedicated staff members and volunteers to put it all together, and their work is very much appreciated. But it would be unnecessary if it wasn’t for you, the faithful parishioners and friends, who attend and watch and offer time to worship our Lord and to give thanks for all that He has provided for us. And for that, we are happy to do what we do.
Today we also honour those men and women who have given of themselves in a most complete way to secure and maintain our freedoms in this “land of the free and home of the brave,” but their efforts and supreme sacrifice were not only for the U.S., but for the world as well. We, especially as Christians, know that it is a constant battle against tyranny and oppression to maintain freedom: we battle it not in a war with guns and bombs, but in a spiritual realm against the devil and the fear and anxiety that he heaps on us, especially in difficult times, as well as the lies and deceit he offers through the many temptations of selfish pleasure and greed. So, yes, we know of a battle as well, even if we haven’t been on a physical battlefield the way our brave soldiers have fought. In a way, we can empathize with them, and the Christian martyrs certainly know of giving of themselves in the most complete way possible. This is not to take away anything from those who have given their lives in war or in service to God and country; it is to acknowledge the supreme sacrifice in which they all shared with Jesus Christ, who Himself suffered unjustly yet gave of Himself completely.
And for those who join Him, we honour them, thank God for them, and pray for their souls.
May God continue to bless our free land.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 19:1-8; Psalm 68; John 16:29-33
“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Living in Aotearoa New Zealand, the earth shakes. And it shakes quite violently sometime. It’s part of life there. The earth shook on Sunday afternoon (our time; Monday morning their time) just when the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Adern, had stood up behind the podium to address Parliament and update them on her edicts for continuing to deal with the virus. She’s young, but watching the video, you could see she was quite shaken (literally and figuratively) and forced a smile and nervous words to her ministers through the moments of the quake. It registered 5.6 on the scale (classified as “moderate” that can cause minor damage to buildings and will certainly knock things off a shelf) and was actually located 16 miles off shore in the Tasman Sea, not far from where I used to live. All of my whanau (“family and extended family” in Te Reo) are fine. But it is unsettling and “trouble” when going through one, and it takes courage to regroup and “get on with it” after one of these events.
I bring this up because it reflects what Jesus says in the Gospel; and what he says is that we will have “trouble” (sometimes translated as “persecution”) in this world. Quite an understatement, don’t you think? Of course Jesus isn’t just talking about earthquakes and natural disasters; politics and fear-mongering, war, domestic violence, hunger, plague, and other “troubles” are everywhere. And it isn’t just those nations and poor people “over there” that have such trouble. Our “first world” struggles are real as well. Sure, we may joke about how we can’t live without our smartphones (if only we could!) and other creature comforts (I remember a young woman quite loudly complaining to the service advisor that her seats would no longer cooled in her Escalade and she demanded that they be fixed right then!), but the reality is that trouble comes to us as well. It comes in the form of illness and job issues or loss, addiction (alcohol, drugs, pornography, etc.), relationship and/or parenting issues, grief over the loss of a loved one, and so on. We can easily feel burdened by what this world dishes out and, and while we take comfort in Jesus’ words of assurance and reassurance, we know that this life can take a toll in the here and now.
So, what can we do? How do we maintain our hope in the face of trouble and persecution for our beliefs and practices? Pope Francis can give us a bit of insight: He says, “This is what Christian hope is: having the certainty that I am walking toward something that is, not something I hope may be” (emphasis added.) This is Christian hope. The Pontiff continues: “Christian hope is the expectation of something that has already been fulfilled for each one of us.” (Gregory, William P. Pope Francis, Go Forth. (New York, Maryknoll Press, 2019))
And remember what Jesus said: “I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
Now, for us believers, that’s hope. Real hope.

Prayer
Lord of all hopefulness, do not let our hearts become so weighed down by the worries of this world that we lose sight of the very real salvation that you promise and awaits us in the new world. Amen.
Thursday, 21 May 2020
6th Week of Eastertide
Optional Memorial: St Christopher Magallanes
I was struck by the story of St Christoper Magallanes Jara (today’s saint) and some similarities that I have experienced as priest.
St Christopher Magallanes (Cristóbal) and his 24 companion martyrs lived under a very anti-Catholic government in Mexico, a government determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools, and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. While it is not as blatant as it was in Mexico, it is currently happening in New Zealand under Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s Labour government. As a proclaimed atheist, through the government’s Immigration department under her direction, she has been deporting (through non-renewal of religious worker visas) priests, nuns, ministers of other Christian denominations, as well as missionaries. The Church of New Zealand has found it difficult to recruit and bring young men into the seminary from other nations, and as such, the national seminary is at risk of closing. Sadly, much of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in New Zealand hasn’t been or isn’t battling other progressive agendas of the government (including euthanasia, same-sex marriage, legalization of prostitution and harmful drugs, etc.) nor has it protested the fact that, even though you can go to bars and restaurants now, you still can’t go to church. You can have an abortion at home (!) but not gather for prayer in your home if your group is over 10 people. The police have even been “given the power” to enter into homes without a warrant if they suspect a gathering of more than 10 people. What happened in Mexico a century ago, seems to be recurring in our day and age.
This world needs martyrs like St Christopher Magallanes Jara – even if not shedding physical blood, but those willing to stand up for Jesus Christ and the faith.
Please keep the New Zealand bishops and faithful in your prayers, and ask St Christopher Magallanes Jara to intercede for the Church in New Zealand – and here in America as well.
May God continue to bless us all.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 98; John 16:16-20
(The Feast of the Ascension in the Diocese of Phoenix is celebrated on Sunday.)
“There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade, stayed with them and worked, for they were tent makers by trade.”
I would suspect that most of us have been put in some situations that require us to move out of our “comfort zone.” It’s a moment of great anxiety and trepidation as we confront something about ourselves: fear. It might be a fear of cleaning out the closet (especially of what we might find – like that a pair of those paratrooper pants so popular in the 80’s…), fear of public speaking, fear of flying, fear of failure (especially if it is something that others will witness), and so on.
In this morning’s first reading we have Luke’s account of the beginning of Paul’s mission in the city of Corinth. Some years later when writing to the church in Corinth Paul told them, ‘I came to you in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling’. He clearly found the prospect of preaching the gospel in the city of Corinth (the “Las Vegas” of the day) very daunting. Luke in this morning’s reading states that shortly after arriving in Corinth Paul met a Jewish Christian married couple, Aquila and Priscilla (who had been thrown out of Rome by Claudius as he ordered all Jews out of the Eternal City), who had arrived in Corinth before him. They were tent makers like himself, and who offered him hospitality. Recall that on Monday we had another incident of hospitality and help that Paul received from Lydia, a merchant of purple cloth. Together Paul, Aquila and Priscilla preached the gospel in Corinth. At a moment of great weakness and vulnerability Paul found support from this married couple.
The retelling of this story brings home to us how we all need each other’s support as we try to live out our baptismal calling as best we can. Those who are not married need the support of those who are married and vice versa, each of us bringing our own experience of life to the other. Even the great Paul knew how dependent he was on others and especially how dependent he was on the Lord who came to him through others. None of us is any different from Paul in that respect. The good Lord has placed people in our lives who are of great comfort and assistance, especially in this day and age when fear has gripped the world. As such, it becomes incumbent upon us to help others in their fear, even if it means going out of our “comfort zone.” With Christ in us, we bring Him to others in the here and now.

Prayer
Dear Lord, help me to know that my fears and anxieties can be overcome with you. May I be your light in this world to others who have fear and apprehension so that they come to trust in You, just as I desire for myself. Amen.
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Sixth Week of Eastertide
Optional Memorial: St Bernadine of Siena
Mid-Week Greetings!
I hope that you have been able to enjoy this beautiful day – what a glorious morning it was.
A few questions have arisen regarding Monday (Memorial Day) and the staffing and the Mass schedule. With regard to the Mass schedule, we will offer Mass at 7.00a and 6.00p, however the office will be closed for the holiday. Going forward, we will be reviewing our Mass schedule for holidays and will have that set for July and the months thereafter. Solemnities and Holy Days of Obligation will most likely have a different schedule than that of the public holiday (Memorial Day, Labour Day, etc.) as Mass on a public holiday is usually not a solemnity, but there are exceptions. So, as indicated previously, be sure to check the website for the latest updates and schedules.
May God keep you and your family and friends holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 17:15, 22-18:1, Psalm 148; John 16:12-15
“He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27)
Grope? Grope for God? It seems a bit harsh. Maybe another word: “examine,” “explore,” or even “cast about” might sound better than “grope.” But those three expressions don’t really get to the gist of the Scripture. The word “grope” in this sense is to desperately reach out to God in order to find him. In difficulty, we desperately reach out to God in the hope of grasping onto something, anything, that would convince us that God is not far away. And while “grope” may sound a bit too frantic, as if we’re already prayerful and holy enough, shouldn’t we be able to find God in a more civilized manner?
In today’s first reading we hear Paul tell us that God created everything – the heavens and seasons and all of us on this planet – so that we “might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him” (Acts 17:27). In other words, God wants us to come after him, to reach for him, to know him, and to feel him nearby when, in actuality, God is nearby – always. This is proof that our faith is to be active – it’s not passive. We have to be operative and participate in it.
How do we do that? It takes practice, and it is different for each person, yet at its core it’s the same: it means seeking (groping) for God in the present moment, no matter our ability or disability or perceived inability. Finding God in the most mundane of events helps us to see His hand: maybe it’s during the drive to work, or waiting to pick up the kids from school, in doing house or yard work. Whatever these little moments of exploration might be, we will find Him closer than we think.

Prayer
Thank you for being near me at all times, even when I don’t see you or feel your presence. In such times, please send your Holy Spirit to me so that I have the courage to look for you in the moment, to help me solve the problem I am facing, to see you in other people, and even in the work that I do, so that whatever I decide, who ever I am with, and in the mundane tasks of my daily life, you become my guide. Amen.
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Sixth Week of Eastertide
Kia Ora!
We had a liturgy planning session this afternoon regarding our celebration at the Vigil of Pentecost. As I previously communicated, we are using this “mini Easter Vigil” (when we celebrate the birth of the Church) on Pentecost as an opportunity to welcome our RCIA candidates and catechumens into the Church. It will be a beautiful liturgy and an opportunity for our parishioners to welcome some wonderful people into our Church and our parish.
We are planning this for Saturday, 30 May 2020 at the 4.00p Vigil Mass. The liturgy for Pentecost is beautiful in its own right, and will be enhanced with the fullness of Scripture and the Sacraments of Initiation: baptism, confirmation, and First Holy Communion. These wonderful people have waited an extra 7 weeks (from the Easter Vigil to the Pentecost Vigil) to be welcomed and are going to be offered the full liturgy of Pentecost. As such it will be a longer liturgy than normal, and I felt it appropriate to advise you of that prior to the registration for Mass that opens on 27 May for the weekend of Pentecost Masses. While there are those who come to Mass “watching their watch” and those who leave early, I think this is a wonderful opportunity for our parishioners to partake in the fullness of the liturgy that didn’t “happen” (in person) at the Easter Vigil. While the Pentecost Vigil doesn’t include all of the “parts” of the Easter Vigil, it is still an extended liturgy rich in text, context, and grace. I hope you’ll consider joining to fill the church (as much as possible given the social distancing guidelines) and welcome these people to the fullness of the faith and our parish.
Anyway, please keep our candidates and catechumens in your prayers. And thank you for all you do for our parish.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138; Gospel: John 16:5-11
“But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.” (John 16:7)
In 1961, Joseph Heller wrote a book about a pilot, amongst other characters, in World War II who wanted to get out of flying dangerous missions. To get out of such missions, the pilot would have to be declared insane. To be deemed insane, the pilot must request to be evaluated. But if the pilot requested to be evaluated, he would be determined to be sane for making the request. Therefore, a pilot can never be deemed to be insane, and therefore no pilot could get out of flying. The novel, of course, was Catch-22 and became a best-seller and a book found in many high school American Literature classes. Even the title became part of the world’s lexicon: a “catch-22” is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape due to conflicting rules and regulations. “I need a job, but it requires experience. I can’t get experience because I don’t have a job” is one such example.
Our Gospel reading today has a “catch-22” in it and it is related to saying “goodbye,” something we tend not to like to do. Goodbyes can hurt or provide some fear and trepidation about the future. Yet, we know that goodbyes are inevitable, and sometimes they can be for the good: a child leaving for university studies is hard to let go of, but we know that the leaving will result in a more independent and well-rounded child. Leaving a job, a home, or even a friendship that has become untenable may cause anxiety and make us sad even as we recognize the good that will come from the decision.
The disciples in the Gospel today are facing one of those major goodbyes. It most likely was a separation that filled them with fear and sadness, yet Jesus tells them that the goodbye will lead to better things. He says that they cannot have the Spirit until they say goodbye to Him. – a real “catch-22” for sure.
But we don’t have to face that decision when it comes to God. The Spirit is ours for the taking – if our hearts are open. Although we know that ultimately we will have to face the goodbye of a lifetime – our own – in order to get the reward of eternity. Yes, we can have it all – but it does come with a price.

Prayer
Spirit of God, be with me when I struggle, comfort me when I grieve, and lead me to where grace is waiting. Amen.
Monday, 18 May 2020
Sixth Week of Eastertide
Happy Monday!
Our first weekend of public celebration of the Mass was a very joyful occasion for us all, clergy and attendees alike. It was wonderful to hear the prayers recited one again by the gathered faithful, to hear voicing singing again, and to offer Holy Communion to those who were present. All the while we were celebrating together, we were aware of those who could not join us and look forward to the day when we can all feel healthy and safe in the House of the Lord.
Many people worked hard in both planning and labor to get the church ready and to implement policies and procedures that, in many ways, go above and beyond to make the environment safe for all who enter and are welcomed for the Holy Mass. It is hoped that those who do attend adhere to the distancing protocols (and it’s easy to do!) that are in place and while there are many people who would love to come back to Mass, it is recognized by all that there are risks involved and it is a personal decision. And as a reminder, all baptized Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix are still granted dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation.
As a thought for those who don’t want to partake in the Sunday Mass due to the number of people present, as an alternative there is the daily Mass at which fewer people attend allowing significantly more spacing, especially at the 6.00p weekday Mass. Again, it is a personal decision, but the daily Mass is an opportunity that is available to receive the Eucharist in a less populated environment while maintaining distancing protocols.
We have received many comments regarding the Diocesan policy regarding the use of face masks in that they are “strongly encouraged” and not required for people in the church. On the parish website is information from the State of Arizona that follows the Center for Disease Control regarding this issue, and the Diocese has followed suit with these authorities. As such, at Blessed Sacrament, the use of a face mask is “strongly encouraged” and supported, and the wearing of a face mask would certainly enhance our strong efforts at providing a healthy environment through the cleaning that we undertake. But again, we are following the policies of the Diocese. If you have comments regarding this policy, please direct them to the Diocese of Phoenix.
As noted, the church underwent a significant cleaning, including the carpets, last week. On Mondays, we plan to do a “deep clean” (and did so today) that is above and beyond our regular sanitization efforts. As I mentioned, I believe that our staff is taking quite seriously the sanitization of the worship space. There are, however, always a few things that we could do better and have identified these areas – both in cleaning and in procedures during the Mass, especially at Holy Communion. We will be addressing these things with the staff and volunteers over the course of the week. As I said a few weeks ago, we won’t get everything perfect, (and understand that we are not perfect!) but we are willing to adapt, and appreciate your patience, understanding, and prayers as we learn more about our efforts to offer you the opportunity to attend the Holy Mass. What we offer may not be to everyone’s liking, but we are attempting to get better at what we can do.
Thank you for your prayers and support. May God continue to bless you with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 16:11-15; Psalm 149; John 15:26 – 16:4
“One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying.” (Acts 16:14)
Sometimes when we read Scripture we are treated to a line of unique detail. There are no wasted lines in Scripture – everything means something or has a purpose for being there. But like any good book, it is often the small details that make the story more enriching.
In today’s reading in the Acts of the Apostles, we meet Lydia. In the quote above, the details sort of leap out: firstly, she is a woman – and a business woman at that. In this day and age, we celebrate successful women in business, but in those days it would have been quite remarkable. Secondly Lydia is a dealer – a saleswoman – in purple cloth – not just any cloth, but purple cloth. Again, a curious detail of enrichment: she sells purple cloth, purple being the colour of royalty so her business would have been quite successful as she most likely sold to the high government officials and potentates of the time.
But not only was Lydia a successful business woman, she was clearly someone of significance to the newly forming church to garner this kind of attention from the Apostles but would also have been someone of significance to her community to have the ability to invite Paul and his fellow missionaries to stay in her home and to have her household be baptized en masse. It is interesting to ponder how many Lydias there might have been in the early church, risking comfort and safety for a faith being preached by men from afar. We can also wonder what it was that opened Lydia’s heart to the message. Certainly the Holy Spirit did that, but what words did Paul say? What moved her to go out on a limb like she did?
Our beautiful Catholic faith is not a faith for the faint of heart; it’s not like some of our brothers and sisters who gather to sing songs and clap hands and be entertained for an hour or two on Sunday. As it happened, not long after Lydia’s conversion and kind gesture, Paul and Silas find themselves on the wrong side of an angry mob. The juxtaposition of the two scenes is jarring. In one, faith and hope are wrapped up in a kind of mysticism shrouded in the majesty of purple, so to speak. In the other , fear and greed are expressed in the violence of beatings and jail cells. This is the story of our faith: hope in the face of suffering; trust in the face of fear; faith in the face of persecution.
Yes, our faith requires much from us. But it gives back so much more than we could ever give.

Prayer
Holy Spirit, give us the courage to take risks for our faith so that we can put ourselves out there when we hear the Truth, to bear witness to what Jesus taught, and to bring others into the Church started by Jesus Christ and formed by men and women with the will and heart to use their gifts for God’s glory. Amen.
Friday, 15 May 2020
Fifth Week of Eastertide
Optional Memorial: St Isadore, the farmer
Happy Friday!
I’m sure the local news will be full of stories as to how local businesses are able to reopen and restaurants get back to offering table dining, and that’s all good so that people can get back to work and we all get a bit closer to a life we once new. Of course we keep in prayers those who are vulnerable to the virus and pray for a vaccine to be available soon.
I did take a partial day off and was able to get my hair cut – a long awaited moment! It seems a bit short, but that’s okay. It was doubly nice as I was able to “bump” into a few parishioners who had the same idea! I know the hair stylists have been busy and they all seemed to be enjoying getting back to work. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come that more people can return to earning their wages to support themselves and their families, and to do so with the health of everyone in mind.
I just looked at the numbers for registrations for our Masses this weekend and they are quite healthy and about what I expected. There’s still plenty of seats available, so no need to panic. I notice some other parishes are doing something similar to us in this regard, some even printing tickets and assigning seats! We’re not going that far – just taking registrations so that we can comply with the regulations.
It will be wonderful to be able to celebrate the Mass again with you – and whether or not you are able to be in the church or watch via streaming, you are in my heart and prayers, as I know our other priests and deacons feel the same.
May God continue to bless us with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 15:22-31; Psalm 57; John 15:12-17
“This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:17)
For us, to love is a decision. More on that in a moment.
Jesus’ challenge today is not only the greatest commandment (to love God and to love our neighbour), but it can certainly be the toughest. Sure, the first part is easy – most of the time – to love God; it’s the other one that gets a bit tricky, especially when our “neighbour” finds the right buttons to push on a regular basis. It could be something on the nightly news, that pushy “know-it-all” in class, the co-worker who comments on our work in a less than flattering manner, the gossipy neighbour next door or perhaps a sibling that can be simply annoying. And let’s not forget that guy in that red car who just cut me off! We can be easily pulled off course by these people when it comes to this commandment of love. We tend to love those who love us or those who are suffering in some way and who deserve our concern and compassion. In those moments, we might think, “I’ve got this!” But then comes the school yard or the office, or the home life.
So, back to my opening statement: to love is a decision. And we need to make it all the time. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it is difficult. But it is a daily decision we must make, even in the face of someone who is difficult to love or has done something to hurt us. When we make that decision to love, we soften and begin to see the frailty that exists under a hardened facade (ours and theirs). And we must always be prepared to give love without getting any in return. Jesus did just that.
Author C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) wrote in Mere Christianity these words:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
That puts today’s Gospel into practical terms, daunting yes, but doable – if we’re willing. But that’s the key – we must be willing to love the difficult cases. Jesus didn’t qualify what “loving one another” meant; He just put “loving” into practice and does so without qualification.

Prayer
God of all love and Master of unconditional love, I sometimes struggle to live up to your greatest commandment – to love you and to love others as I love you. Open my heart to those who come into my life, especially those to whom I find it difficult to be with or work with, so that I may love just as you do. Amen.
Thursday, 14 May 2020
Fifth Week of Eastertide
Feast of St Matthias, Apostle
Here’s the good news: no changes to report today!
Yesterday, we had a major cleaning of the church, including the carpet, and will continue to monitor and clean the space according to our plan to provide as safe and healthy of an environment for us to gather into and worship our Lord.
With all the hard work that goes into preparing for entry into the Church by our RCIA candidates and catechumens, and acknowledging the work of our staff that have worked to prepare the candidates (which, by the way, the staff so enjoys doing!), the delay of the glorious day when the candidates and catechumens will be received into the Church is over, for the most part…just a few more weeks! Since we have been able to significantly increase the number of people who can be in the church for Mass, and with the Bishop’s permission, we have been able to set a date for the reception of the RCIA candidates and catechumens: Saturday, May 30 at 4.30p (the regularly scheduled Vigil Mass) on the feast of Pentecost. This joyful occasion is open to all (subject to the capacity of the church at the moment) and it will be wonderful to be there with them as the community of Blessed Sacrament.
We’re also excited as we have been able to set a date for First Holy Communion and Confirmation: Sunday, 14 June at 1.30p. This is another joyful step not only in the lives of those who have been preparing for these sacraments, but for the parish as well as it is another sign that we are moving forward.
Please keep all of the young and not-so-young people who are on this journey toward the full sacramental life of our Church in your prayers. I know they appreciate it, and I look forward to offering these sacraments for our brothers and sisters – and those soon to be – in Christ.
May God continue to keep us all holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26; Psalm 113; John 15:9-17
“So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.”
At some point in our lives, most of us have not been chosen for something that we really wanted: a spot on the team, a job, or maybe even for a date with that special boy or girl. It can hurt because it was our dream or heart’s desire. And if it is a public loss for “all the world to see” it makes it even worse.
In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles today, there are named two men who “applied for the job” – or at least were being considered – to replace Judas Iscariot. Scripture tells us that Matthias was chosen; Justus didn’t “make the cut.” That was a “big seat” to fill, and certainly a “big seat” to lose. It wasn’t like a seat on the Parish Council, or the Board of Directors of Microsoft. This was the Council – this was to be one of the Twelve.
As often happens when there is such disappointment, anger, sadness, frustration and other emotions that can fill the void left by the hope of “acceptance”; these emotions join with the feeling of loss or rejection. It would have been a very human thing for Justus to say, “If I’m not good enough to be part of the ‘inner circle,’ I don’t want to be part of it at all.” But that’s not what he did. According to history, Justus continued to proclaim the Good News and died a martyr’s death. By the standards of our society, Justus was a loser; fortunately, however, God doesn’t do things by the standards of our society; God does just the opposite.
God takes the downtrodden, the beaten, the miserable and makes them the ones who should be emulated and honored. He does that because in some way they suffered for His sake. They did not put themselves above God, even when the cost was life itself, because a life cut off from God really has no focus or direction or hope. The heroes of the early church knew they could lose everything on earth and gain the kingdom.
As it turns out, there were no losers in today’s first reading. Both men were able to make it to God’s Kingdom of heaven.
Prayer
St Matthias and St Justus, please intercede for us for the courage to follow God’s will, even when it is not easy. Show us the way to say yes to the hard challenges and to accept the disappointments that come with life on earth for we know of God’s great love and of the Kingdom that awaits those who are faithful. Amen.
Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Fifth Week of Eastertide
Optional Memorial: Our Lady of Fatima
Happy Mid-Week!
As promised, the new “sign-up” for Mass is available tonight. Before you sign up, please note the following changes:
**DAILY Mass**
The Mass times have been adjusted for this phase of “return” to public attendance at the Mass. Here is the DAILY Mass Schedule effective Monday, May 18.
  • Monday: 7.00a, 6.00p
  • Tuesday: 7.00a
  • Wednesday: 7.00a, 6.00p
  • Thursday: 7.00a
  • Friday: 7.00a
  • Saturday: 8.00a
While this schedule may not be what everyone “wants,” it is what we can offer at this time. This does not mean that this is permanent, but it is what we will be offering through Phase 1 of the return to the public Mass.
For the DAILY Mass, it is no longer necessary to “sign-up” as we have been able to increase significantly the number of seats available while maintaining social distancing protocol.
Attending the daily Mass is no longer restricted to only once per week; all are welcome to attend the daily Mass as frequently as desired.
**SUNDAY Mass**
The Sunday Mass schedule remains the same, and the Sunday Mass will continue to be streamed as we currently do.
As we still need to monitor the seating capacity so as to not exceed the mandated maximum number of people in the space, and even though the number of seats has been increased, we don’t want to be put in the position of having to turn someone away because we have met capacity. As such, we are asking that all who would like to attend the SUNDAY Mass (including the Vigil) to register so that we can have an accurate count and maintain a “contact tracing” list. A new and easy format has been developed for registration that maintains privacy for all who register. As before it it necessary that each person be listed by name separately when registering. Please understand that if the time you want to attend is not available because it is full, this is because we must maintain the social distancing polices that we have been given and also help your fellow parishioners stay healthy.
To register for Sunday Mass, here is a direct link:
https://bscaz.org/mass/
You may also go to the parish website directly to register:
https://bscaz.org/
As always, if you need help, please contact the office and we can register you for the Mass of your choice.
Remember, there currently is no obligation to attend the Sunday or Holy Mass as all baptized Catholics in the Diocese of Phoenix have been dispensed during this time of pandemic.
Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this transitional phase as these changes and decisions are made with you, our parishioner, in mind. Please understand that there are many other things that impact the decision process and may not be readily apparent. Thank you for your trust. and especially your prayers.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 15:1-6; Psalm 122; John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.” (John 15:1)
It’s amazing what we collect over time. Ask anyone who has recently moved, and most will say something like, “Where did all of the junk come from?” It’s a good question – not only about the physical things of this world, but about our own “rooms” inside of us – where did all that “stuff” come from?
As noted above, this is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. Although it has no specific Scriptural reference, it seems quite appropriate for today’s Gospel. The image of the branches either clinging to the vine or withering and ending up as kindling seems to echo the messages from Mary received by the three children as they tended sheep in their village in Portugal. The message was simple, but in our modern day a bit difficult to do: pray and do penance in order to save yourselves and the world. Wow. my prayers can save the world?
Much focus over the years has been on the secrets of Fatima, but more than the prophetic messages, Fatima offered a way to God by amending our own lives and praying for others. It’s another way of looking at the pruning process that is sued to describe our spiritual lives in today’s Gospel. Even the good branches must be pruned in order to produce more fruit. Although we may not like to admit it, we usually know where and what in our life could use some gentle pruning and shaping – and in some cases, maybe an axe or a chainsaw would be appropriate.
Anyway, life has a way of getting “heavy” and the weight of all the “stuff” can drag us down along with it if we don’t take time regularly to pray, reflect and make some sacrifices, and partake in the sacraments that give us so much grace.
Those three children in that field in Portugal could grasp this; maybe we can too.

Prayer“The Fatima Prayer”
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, and bring all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy. Amen.On this day of the Feast of Fatima…
I would imagine most of us have at least one Rosary tucked away in a drawer somewhere; many people may keep a Rosary but won’t throw it away because they know of it’s powerful prayers and protection, but either don’t know how to pray it, or don’t have time to. But on this day, it would be a good idea to pray the Rosary. If that seems daunting, start with just one decade. If you’re not sure how to pray the Rosary, click on the link below. It can be a good family exercise as well – you know, prayer time together! Or call a friend who’s shut in and pray it over the phone.
Let the rhythm of the prayers wash over you and give you the courage to do the pruning that needs to be done.
How to Pray the Rosary Link:
https://www.rosarycenter.org/homepage-2/rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary/
Pray the Rosary with Fr Benedict Groeschel (a pray-along video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwhOXN2KtEg
Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Fifth Week of Eastertide
Hello all!
As I promised, there would be many changes over this period of adjustment to being able to offer the Mass to the public. The good news is that we can do this, of course, but it comes with some restrictions and ever-changing policies from authorities as well as the Diocese. So here goes…
Face Mask
The Diocese of Phoenix now “strongly suggests” that face masks be worn by those who attend the Holy Mass and, as such, it is no longer “required” at Blessed Sacrament effective Wednesday, 13 May and going forward. Only those who administer Holy Communion at the time of distribution are required to wear a face mask.
Limited Ability Parishioners and Communion
As has been our practice at Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist will be brought to parishioners attending Mass who are not able to come to the Sanctuary for Holy Communion. If you are in such a situation, it is best practice to identify yourself to the ushers who will communicate this to the Ordinary or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, who will then gladly bring the Eucharist to you.
Dispensation and Holy Days of Obligation
As the dispensation from the Sunday obligation to attend the Holy Mass has been given by Bishop Olmsted, this does extend to Holy Days of Obligation as well. As such, any baptized Catholic in the Diocese of Phoenix is dispensed from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation to attend Mass.
Mass “Sign-Up”/Registration
As indicated previously, our procedure to attend Mass asks that parishioners “sign up” or “register” their attendance. A new platform (computer program) will be used to do this effective for the next round of offerings; the registration will open on Wednesday evening (tomorrow, 13 May) for Masses beginning on Saturday, 16 May at 4.00p (the Vigil). This new platform is easy to use and provides privacy for those who choose to attend the Mass as names of those who have registered will not be displayed publicly. As always, if you don’t feel comfortable using a computer to register for the Mass, you may call the office and make a request.
Tomorrow, we have another webinar with the Diocese of Phoenix and I’m sure there will be more changes. I will communicate those with you in tomorrow’s update.
As we know, one thing that is constant is change, and we certainly have had our share of it these past few months. I cannot promise any date as to when it will end, but what I can promise is that change will continue. Your staff and I will endeavour to make as few changes as possible so as to not be confusing, but please know that we are here to help you through all of this.
Remember what Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27). No, the world does not give peace; our peace comes from out of this world: our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ..
God’s blessings to you and your family.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 14:19-28; Psalm 145; John 14:27-31a
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b)
As is the case today, things were tough back then. In today’s readings, violence and intimidation were present as Paul is stoned and dragged from the city; in the Gospel, there is uncertainty and fear among the disciples as Jesus tells them he is going away.
But in the midst of it all, there is hope and promises: promises of peace, promises of a kingdom that awaits them, and promises of an Advocate who will stay with them always. These same promises are for us, but we, like those early disciples, often fall prey to the troubles that weigh us down. Maybe its an overwhelming worry about a child, or bills that can’t be paid, or a job or lack of one. Sometimes it’s things that shouldn’t be given so much power in our life: a full calendar, a house that needs cleaning, or a difficult job that are our burdens. We can forget that the day-to-day struggles that scare us are not the “finish line.” They are moments in an earthly life that is the tiniest fraction of our eternal life!
Grasping this concept can be a real challenge for most of us. Everything we do in this world can seem monumental when it’s happening to us, and some of it is quite critical as life goes: raising children, supporting a family, building a marriage, taking care of a sick loved one, and so on. But put in perspective, as Paul tries to do for us – and this is key and hard to take – we are not as important as we think we are. Yes, we will have some suffering to do and it may be quite extensive – there’s no denying that or belittling suffering. But the takeaway is that we do not suffer alone. We have a future, even when we no longer have a breath, because we have an Advocate who leads us day by day toward the kingdom that God has built for us. And that promise is greater than everything and anything that the world can throw at us.
Let us not bury ourselves with a bunch of “what ifs.” They won’t do us any good in the grave anyway.

Prayer
Eternal God, help me to see clearly the truly important things in my daily life and to find you in the midst of them. Help me to realize that what is given to me is a joy that this world cannot give – the joy of the Holy Spirit and your love. Amen.
Hello everyone
It was a joy to see some faces back in the church for the Holy Mass this weekend. Even though it was still a “practice” Mass, we learned much about how to do things in this new paradigm, and will continue to make adjustments as needed. But the staff and clergy appreciate your support and prayers as we transition to a wider celebration of the Holy Mass and as I said, we were all very happy to welcome you back.
Today the Diocese of Phoenix announced that we can begin “public” celebration of the Holy Mass with certain limitations – all of which we had in place through our “practice” sessions, and we actually had a bit tighter policies in place with regard to the safety and sanitization of our space than required. We’ll keep those in place as they don’t adversely affect offering and welcoming of parishioners, but enhance the health safety for all attendees and the sanitization of the worship space. And remember, all baptized Catholics are dispensed from the Sunday obligation, so no one is required to be at Mass; it remains an option. If you choose to partake in the public celebration of the Mass, there are some conditions to which all who attend must adhere at this time.
I know that wearing a mask is not to everyone’s liking but it is something that is strongly encouraged (for all people over the age of two). The parish does not have a sufficient supply to give a mask to everyone so it is your responsibility to bring your own if you want to wear one. The clergy, while in the sanctuary, will not be wearing masks due to the nature and understanding of the universal Church with regard to certain Rites, as well as the significant distance between the clergy and the congregation. During the distribution of Communion, however, everyone distributing Communion is required to wear a mask and practice proper sanitization practices.
One thing the Diocese did allow us to do effective today was to increase from 10% of capacity to 25% of capacity of the church. This will add a few more seats to our offering, however we will not be able to increase to 25% and maintain the required social distancing in the seating areas. We will, however, be adding some seats. It is important for everyone to remember that the faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix are still being offered dispensation from the Sunday Mass; and while it is understandable that most people would like to attend the Sunday Mass, it is not possible to accommodate everyone on Sunday due to the capacity restrictions. That is exactly why we are offering alternative days of the week and times to try and accommodate all who would like to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Again, and for clarification, the reasons we need parishioners to register for a Mass time is two fold:
1. We have a record of who attended Mass (as the CDC and Arizona Department of Public Health request) so that if we need to contact those in attendance regarding a possible health issue regarding the virus, we can!
2. Since we are functioning under a capacity limit, and to avoid turning anyone away at the door, we believe the best way to manage this is to have a “sign-up” system. Additionally, so as to maintain privacy for parishioners who do sign up, we are adopting a new “platform” (computer program) that will not display names of those who have registered to attend Mass. As has been the case, each person must be listed by name in order to maintain accurate records and counts. You will receive a confirmation email once you have successfully registered.
On that note, I have received several suggestions regarding adding Mass in the hall. While on the surface it seems a simple thing to do, and had been considered when we put together the plan we are able to offer, there are numerous other considerations that are present in such a decision: clergy staffing, ministry volunteers (as many of our volunteers are choosing to remain home at this time, and understandably so), cleaning of the space (budget for custodial, volunteers, and supplies to clean an extra space), and some other things. So it’s not just simply adding another location – there are many things to consider. I do appreciate your suggestions, and perhaps, if demand for the Mass increases beyond our current daily and Sunday offerings, we can consider alternatives. But at this point, we have many “open seats” at other times other than Sunday, and even on Sunday.
Since this week is the first full week of the daily Mass schedule, we will be monitoring the number of people attending and make decisions next week with regard to adjusting days and times, if necessary. Again, it will all depend on demand. There have been requests from parishioners to attend Mass more than once per week, and while this is under consideration, we need to collect data on attendance patterns before we change our plan. I appreciate your patience and understanding in this regard.
Parishes around the Valley will have different plans and procedures as they welcome their parishioners. At Blessed Sacrament, we have developed a plan that we feel bests suits the requirements for health and safety, while maintaining a reverent and sustainable plan that could last for a significant period of time. Please understand that nothing is set in stone and adaptations will occur as we work our way through this new phase. I do believe that if we can all work though this temporary inconvenience together, then we will see the end of these restrictions sooner rather than later so that all of us can go forth and spread the Good News.
Please refer to our parish website for the latest in updates with regard to this ever-evolving situation.
As always, your prayers for the staff and clergy are welcome, and you are certainly in mine.
Fr Bryan
Parish Website Link:
https://bscaz.org/
Friday, 8 May 2020
Fourth Week of Eastertide
Happy Friday to you!
First of all, thank you for your many kind comments regarding the staff and recognizing all of the work that has gone into our planning for the return to the public offering of the Holy Mass. Our test on Thursday went well, and we have a few more “behind the scenes” things to work out and will do so this weekend at our “practice” Masses at which our volunteers will be able to hone their skills. We continue to look forward to the day when we all be together again.
A few questions have arisen and I thought I might take this opportunity to clarify our policies and procedures.
Streaming of the Mass
I’ve received some comments from our “far-flung ‘parishioners'” in other parts of the world, as well as our own parishioners, wondering if we would be able to continue to stream the Mass. The answer is yes, as long as the government and Diocese ask us to restrict our gatherings.
Receiving Communion
A few people have requested a video regarding how to receive Holy Communion under these conditions, especially wearing a mask. Your talented staff has produced a video demonstrating the procedure and it was included in today’s parish message. It will also be posted on our website for your review. We will review the procedure at Mass before the distribution of Holy Communion as well.
Number of People at Mass
As indicated in the original notification yesterday (Thursday), we must limit the number of people who can be in our church at any one time in order to practice the social distancing guidelines set by the government and supported by the Diocese of Phoenix. Originally, that number was set at 10% of the capacity of the church building and that it what we have set our number at: 110 persons. When the percentage increases (if it does as planned in the next step) to 25% of capacity, we will be able to add a few more spaces, and have mapped it out for our church, but we will not be able to reach 25% of capacity and still maintain the required social distancing, even if opening up the chapel space. As such, we will need to continue to limit the number of people who can attend Mass at any one time. This is the reason we have added more Mass times during the week – to allow more people to attend the Mass and receive Holy Communion on days other than Sunday. And remember, the obligation to attend the Sunday Mass has been dispensed, so even if you can’t come on a Sunday, the opportunity to receive the grace at Holy Communion still exists, just on other days of the week.
Attending Mass More Than Once Per Week
Initially, we are asking that our parishioners sign-up only once per week until we understand the pattern of people coming to Mass. We acknowledge that many of you would like to attend Mass more than once per week and we will be happy to accommodate this request when we have enough data to offer this option in a fair and equitable manner. We also understand that there are many of you who are not yet ready to venture out into the public forum again, and recognize this and will welcome you back when you are ready. As such, we cannot predict the numbers of people attending Mass under the given situation and we certainly appreciate your understanding and patience as we figure this out. Rest assured we will attempt our best at figuring out how we can accommodate your request.
The point of reference that I have asked of our staff is one that I will ask of you to consider as well: it’s not what we can’t do, but what we can do. Our lives are filled with many obstacles; the successful people look at these obstacles and see opportunities, not restrictions. Jesus didn’t look at the world and say, “How am I ever going to get these people to heaven!” Instead, He started with a small group of people, as flawed as they were, and worked hard at getting the Church going. The Apostles and disciples of Jesus didn’t look at what they couldn’t do, but what they could do to follow through with what they were being asked to do. And that’s my hope for our parish. Sure, there are things that we cannot do, but there are so many things that we can do, and how we have organised the return to the Mass is what we CAN do. It may not be perfect – we’re human you know – but we are trying our best. I hope you join us in our “can do” outlook as we restore the parish to full function, regardless of whenever that will be.
May God continue to bless us all in all that we “can do.”
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 13:26-33; Psalm 2; John 14:1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)
You and I certainly live in a troubled time. Not only is this virus-thing constantly in front of us, many of us fear the loss of health (for ourselves as well as for a loved one), the loss of employment, the loss of our retirement savings, and so on. It really is not surprise that we often find our hearts troubled. Sometimes the trouble is right here, right now; sometimes the trouble exists in the “what ifs.” When we look ahead, often troubles work their way into our minds even when they have not yet worked their way into our realities.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers not to worry. He says that if they have faith in Him, they already know how to get to where they need to go. But Thomas says what all the others were probably thinking: No, we don’t.
I know I wonder it sometimes, and you may to, that I don’t know how I am going to get through a busy week, a busy season, or even a rough patch of life. The uncertainty of it all threatens to overwhelm at times. Like the disciples, we wonder how it’s all going to get done. Yes, we have faith in God, but that’s not going to pay the bills or get the next project done, or raise the kids.
Or is it?
When we learn not to be troubled and to trust in God, we find that the problems may still be there, of course, but they feel less burdensome, less daunting, because we recognize that, ultimately, nothing on this earth can derail our joy and our faith – that is, without our consent at least. So, why give despair and doubt our consent?

Prayer
Most loving God, although I am often troubled, I do trust in you. In my times of doubt and burden, remind me that you sent your Son to share my burden and let me let Him lead me to the dwelling place where there is no need to fear, no need to despair, no need to give up. Help me remember what Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, RSV) Amen.
Thursday, 7 May 2020
Fourth Week of Eastertide
Kia Ora!
Today we were able to complete a “trial run” of the plan we have to return to offering the public Mass for Blessed Sacrament. It is a bit ambitious and it took a considerable amount of planning and “constructing” to bring it to fruition, but thanks to the help of the staff we were able to work it out. As such, earlier this evening I sent out information regarding the plan and how our parishioners can take part in the Mass and receive Holy Communion beginning this Saturday for the Vigil Mass and continuing for weeks to come as necessary.
As I mentioned earlier, it is a plan that works in phases and is similar to what other parishes in other parts of the U.S. are offering as restrictions are lifted in their states and communities. I do believe that our plan offers the best balance of maintaining the Sacrament of the Eucharist in its fullness as well as adapting to the many conditions and requirements of the laws of our state and local governments as well as the policies of the Diocese of Phoenix. Time will tell, right? I’m not saying our plan is perfect – not by a long shot – but it is doable for our parish and parishioners, and workable for the staff and clergy. And most importantly, it provides the fullness of the Mass and Holy Communion combined as they have always been.
It is important to remember that the plan is totally voluntary with regard to attendance, and since all Catholics of the Diocese of Phoenix are dispensed from the Sunday obligation, our plan will offer alternatives to attend Mass on any day of the week – it doesn’t have to be Sunday in order for someone to receive the grace of the Sacrament. The email that was sent earlier today provides all of the details, and our website will be updated by 6.00p tomorrow (Friday, 8 May) with all of the details as well.
Thank you for your prayers. The staff, deacons, Fr Jingwa and I look forward to welcoming you back to your parish.
God’s blessings,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89; John 13:16-20
“From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.”
Do you remember those school lunch trays – hard plastic trays with compartments for every part of the meal? Front and center would be the main dish in a rectangular spot flanked to the left by a small squarish space in which vegetables would be plopped, above that the roll would be placed into a similar space. There were also two other compartments in the top row: one for dessert and one for the carton of milk. There was also an oblong space for the utensils. All nice and neat and tidy.
Sometimes it is tempting to do that with God – compartmentalize Him: God goes here. Jesus goes there. And the Holy Spirit – well, like soup sloshing around in a bowl, it’s hard to contain Him in just one place, but we try. In our Gospel reading today, a different message is given: God cannot be separated out into compartments. When Jesus speaks to the apostles, He uses words He knows will convey unity with the Father: “I AM.” No compartments there – unity is the opposite of the separation that comes with compartmentalizing. The ancient words spoken to Moses from the burning bush are two, tiny, simple words that convey mystery beyond anything we could ever hope to grasp here on earth: I AM!
Each time we Catholics make the Sign of the Cross and utter those most-familiar words that go along with it, we profess our belief in the great I AM – the triune God who is, who was, and who is to come. Yet, as we prattle of those words, the familiar becomes too easy. We can easily fall into the secular world’s way of seeing Jesus: perhaps a great spiritual teacher in that compartment, a social justice warrior over there, and here in this one, and a loyal friend. But that’s not what Jesus tells us; He says that He and the Father are one and, not only that, but if we believe in Him, we also believe in the One who sent Him. How often do we take the time when making the Sign of the Cross or when listening to Scripture do we take time to reflect on that incredibly deep truth that is only comprehensible with the eyes and heart of faith? We certainly don’t come to such an understanding – if one could call it that – through books or lectures or the writings of the priest. No, we come to it through whatever “burning bush” ignites the fire of God’s love in our own lives. Sometimes it burns bright, sometimes it is a simple ember. But whatever it is, it’s there. Let it burn brightly for all the world to see.

Prayer
Father, you sent your Son who gave us all the Holy Spirit. Help me to see that you, God, are one with distinction but cannot be separated. In your love, grant the faith I need to love with your fullness and never be separated from you. Amen.
Wednesday, 6 May 2020
Fourth Week of Eastertide
Greetings!
Well, it seems like summer has finally arrived! While the days have been toasty, the mornings are still quite nice. I am going to cherish those cool, dry mornings while they last.
Today we had another webinar with the Diocese that reviewed last week’s surprise announcement that Communion could be offered and how it went for a few of the parishes around the Valley, to a discussion on the future of offering the Mass with distribution of Holy Communion. Here, at Blessed Sacrament, we have developed a plan that will not only satisfy the Diocesan requirements, but the federal, state, and local governments’ directives for social distancing and cleaning practices in order to offer the Mass “in public” once again. It has been a big undertaking to try and accommodate all of these diverse requirements, but I am confident that our plan will succeed and offer the opportunity for you, our beloved parishioners, to fully participate in the Sacrament of the Eucharist should you choose to do so, in an environment that minimizes risk to your health and maintains the reverence for our Lord inside his house. We will also continue to offer the streaming Sunday Masses for anyone who cannot partake in the liturgies in person.
To offer this plan, we are going to undertake a “dress rehearsal” tomorrow to “iron out” any of the wrinkles that we discover before going “live” with the plan, hopefully this weekend. If all works well tomorrow, and some other details can be worked out, I will give the “okay” to offer this plan to our parishioners tomorrow (Thursday) evening. Our primary means of distribution of the material describing this plan and required actions on your part will be via this channel (Flocknote or email) and also on our website. We will undertake a mailing to those who do not have electronic access, but you’re welcome to print and distribute the information to anyone you know of who does not have access to a computer.
When this plan is introduced to you, please be sure to read the documents so that you are familiar with the policies and procedures that are necessary and the conditions that must be in place for us to offer this first phase of three. It has been a lot of work, discussion, and implementation in order to do this, and your staff has been quite valuable and has worked hard to put this together in a very short time. I certainly could not have put this together without their dedication and help.
Part of our plan involves understanding why the Mass and the Eucharist (Holy Communion) should not be separated from each other; they are one in the same Sacrament, so to speak. To separate the Eucharist from the Mass would be akin to separating the water from the Rite of Baptism – the water is integral and necessary to the fullness of the Sacrament just as the Eucharist is integral and necessary to the Mass. For another look at this, I have attached a document written by our own Dr Larry Fraher who has provided a masterful explanation and it is definitely worth a read. (This article will also be included in this Sunday’s bulletin.)
Please understand that our effort in this may not seem perfect, and we fully admit that it won’t be suitable to accommodate everyone’s particular request or demand. It is also important to understand that everyone is still dispensed from their Sunday Obligation until further notice. Additionally, we understand that not everyone will feel safe to venture out into the public so no one, especially those in the vulnerable population, is expected to do so and that each person is to make his or her own decision with regard to attending the Mass and receiving Holy Communion.
I would like to give you the details at this moment, but as I said, we need to go through the practice session before presenting the plan to everyone. Please know that it is our love for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that is our motivation, and it is our desire that everyone be able to have the option to receive the Eucharist during the Holy Mass. I believe, and so does the staff, that our plan will accomplish this in a reverent and safe manner.
Thank you for your understanding and especially your patience during this process. Patience is certainly a virtue, and one that pays off when practiced.
Please stay holy and healthy, and the staff and clergy look forward to welcoming you back to your church for the Holy Mass and Eucharist.
Fr Bryan
“With the Greatest Reverence”
By Dr Larry Fraher
Click on document below to open.
With the Greatest Reverence.pdf
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 12:24-13:5; Psalm 67; John 12:44-50
“I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46)
In the southern hemisphere, this time of year autumn is beginning to give way to winter. The nights are longer as the further south one travels, the fewer hours of daylight there are. In fact, at the southern tip of New Zealand, the small city of Dunedin in the “dead” of winter receives only about 6.5 hours of strong daylight – the sun is so far north that it doesn’t “come up” until around 9.30a and sets by 4.00p.
Of course, we here in the northern hemisphere are rapidly approaching the longest day of the year in June which means our daylight hours are extending way into the evening. For many places, new life is reaching toward the sun as the flowers and grass and trees extend themselves while the evening sunset provides a kaleidoscope of colour, the stars shine brightly, and the moon reflects bright light as nightfall takes over.
The light that brightens our days has a way of changing everything – colour, perspective, and mood are affected by light. It manages to find its way in any way it can – through breaks in the clouds, cracks in the door, between leaves on the tree, and even through raindrops to form magnificent rainbows. It just does.
Jesus reminds us today that He is that light, coming into the world to pull us out of the darkness we tend toward when left to our own devices. He shines his hope and mercy into the recesses of our heart and mind where we keep the things that ties us down to fear and despair and anger and jealousy. Of course Jesus just doesn’t shine the light – He is the Light! Like our celestial sun, Jesus is the Light around which we revolve. Like the plants that bend and grow toward the light, we are lucky if we take the chance to grow toward Him. And if we are even luckier, we get the chance to reflect that light onto the darkness we find in the world – like the moon that illuminates the night sky – through no power of its own.

Prayer
Jesus, Light of the World, please illuminate the darkest corner of my heart so that I can be a reflection of your love and a help to light the way for others to you, so that no one remains in darkness. Amen.
Tuesday, 5 May 2020
Fourth Week of Eastertide
Feliz Cinco De Mayo
In high school, I had a wonderful Spanish teacher – she was very pretty, so much so that I took three years of Spanish! Each 5th of May she would bring us lunch – it was the same every year but that was okay. It was delicious: Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken). Still a favourite today – maybe because it brings back some good memories!
My first year of teaching offered me one class period a day full of wonderful students from Mexico, Central and South America for whom I taught algebra. I remember them fondly as well as they taught me much about their cultures, gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish that I had learned way back when, and I got to help them with their English. They even brought arroz con pollo for me to enjoy. Years ago before I left for New Zealand, I ran into one of those students – Berenice – who became a dental hygienist and was married. She seemed very happy and was grateful to be living in the U.S. and speaking great English…I wish I could say the same for my Spanish! I guess that was replaced with Te Reo Maori…
Today the staff and I worked to continue to prepare our church for the eventual return to public celebration of the Mass. There’s a lot more to it than one would think – most of it surrounding the regulations in place (and rightly so) to keep everyone safe and healthy in a public environment. Additionally, the Diocese rolled out a new payroll system, so some of the staff were busy sorting that out to make sure everyone is paid correctly and get used to the new system. All in all, the day went by very quickly. It’s good to have those days and go home knowing that good work was done.
I hope you had a day filled with some joys – small or large it doesn’t matter – and were engaged in something worthwhile for your mind, body, and soul.
May God continue to bless you and your family and keep you holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 11:19-26; Psalm 87; John 10:22-30
“’How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’”
I’ve always liked it when I ask a question and I get a straight answer, and I try to answer that way as well when I am asked a question. But I know that not all people like to have a straight answer so I try to be careful to phrase my answers to the situation. It certainly worked as a flight attendant, as a teacher, and even as a priest. Sometimes I don’t like the answer to my question, and sometimes people don’t like the answer I give. It might be the same for you.
It would be great if we could have all our questions answered truthfully – even if plain and simple. Life isn’t plain and simple, so it would be hard to expect answer to be that way as well. Often, however, not asking the question leads to more difficulty, especially worry as our stomach can be tied in knots trying to hold all the loose ends of our life together. After all, if we didn’t worry, might it all unravel around us and be lost?
In today’s Gospel, the crowd first asks Jesus to “plainly” tell them whether He is the Messiah. After a powerful and poetic message, he gives the crowd an answer: “The Father and I are one.” It wasn’t the response the crowd wanted because in the next few verses it says, “The Jews picked up rocks to stone him” (John 10:31). What did they think He might say? After all, Jesus walked around his world curing the sick, healing the lame, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons and much more. The straight answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear. They were holding on to what they thought was right only to find out they were wrong. Nobody likes to be wrong.
Our faith gives us a paradox: only when we stop holding on so tight will we finally have all that we want. It is not an easy thing to do. We know what is right, right? And when we are proven wrong, or get an answer we don’t like, it isn’t easy to deal with it all. Maybe God’s answer is something we don’t want to hear; we might not want to ask Him a question because we might not like the answer. Or we might ask a question of God, He answers, and we don’t like His answer. It’s interesting though, because with God, He keeps coming back to us, trying to give us a version of an answer that we will finally be willing to listen to. But that’s Him – a patient, loving God who gave us His only Son. His Son even told us, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29). That’s an answer that is good to hear.

Prayer
Lord, speak to us, even when we refuse to listen. Speak to us in the quiet of our hearts where your voice brings peace and rest to our weary souls. Amen.
Monday, 4 May 2020
4th Week of Eastertide
Monday Greetings to All!
As is always the case, Mondays are filled with all sorts of new challenges and opportunities to do God’s Holy Will. This one is no exception.
The biggest part of the day was planning for the return of the public to the Holy Mass and Holy Communion. We had a very productive meeting and while I’m not able to give details (since they are not finalized yet) I do want you to know that we are taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all who attend, and those precautions will be communicated later this week once we have a better understanding of what we are capable of offering. Even more than that, I want to make sure that you know that all of us are still dispensed from attending the Holy Mass through this phase, and when we are able to offer it, attendance is optional. If you or your family don’t feel safe with the protocols that we will have in place, that is certainly understandable.
I know that your clergy and staff are excited at the prospect of welcoming you and your families for the Sacraments. We will appreciate your patience and understanding, and especially thank you for your prayers as we attempt to coordinate all of the various needs and requirements associated with this undertaking. Later this week I will communicate the plan under a separate email. Until then, may God continue to bless you, and know that the clergy and staff are still here for you.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 42; John 10:11-18
“‘If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?’”
As we are in the midst of a political season, even one taken over by the virus, we can recognize that we live in a divided world, a world that is divisive in thought and action. Even we Catholics can get caught up in the game, a game that includes judgment, blaming, and claiming ourselves to be judge, jury, and executioner. Such a process and “holier-than-thou” attitude isn’t restricted to any one religion, political ideology, or race; it’s an “equal opportunity” offender!
This type of division is the playground of the devil. When the followers of Jesus Christ are divided in such a way it leaves room for evil to work amongst the games people play. When we fight amongst each other, the people “out there” look upon us Christians and wonder why anyone would want to join such a divided, angry group. This isn’t just restricted to the Church at large; it is the same for the “domestic church” (the family) as well as our local community: our parish.
In the Acts of the Apostles from which we read today, Peter makes a case for the Gentiles to join in the newly forming Church because they had “accepted the word of God” (Acts 11:1). But it seems that, like us at times, the leaders wanted this new religion to be a “closed group” that would only allow those who met a certain criteria – their criteria – to be allowed to join. This certainly doesn’t match with Jesus’ teachings and actions: He actually sought out the Gentiles, the sinners, the tax-collectors – those on the “outside” to bring them into His sheepfold. He said in the Gospel we read today, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 16). Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit of God, and bring others into the fold. I’ll close with the last few versus from the 1st Reading today: “If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, ‘God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.'” (Acts 11:17-18).

Prayer
Most loving Lord, we pray today for unity, to see clearly our common humanity, our shared gift of salvation, and our part in Your plan of salvation. Open our hearts to all that is possible when we cooperate with Your Divine Plan. Amen.
Return to Public Celebration of the Mass with Distribution of Holy Communion
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As the response to the COVID-19 virus has evolved, we have had to adapt to many changes in our lives, and our faith life is no exception. One of the most difficult aspects for all of us, faithful and clergy alike, has been the withdrawal of attendance at our sacred prayer, the Holy Mass, and the inability to receive the “source and summit” of our Catholic faith, the Eucharist. Your desires and frustrations over this situation have been heard and recognized as we have all continued with many struggles to work within this environment.
On Thursday afternoon last week, shortly before 5.00pm, the leaders of the Diocese of Phoenix concluded a webinar with parish leaders and clergy from around the Diocese identifying what the Diocese has designed for a return to public celebration of the Mass. Three stages were identified and will be implemented after further consultation and refinements. In the meantime, the Diocese offered parishes the possibility of distribution of the Eucharist under certain and specific conditions. Without going into specific detail, the manner in which to do so “outside” of the Holy Mass, was left up to each parish as to how to go about the process within the restrictions and requirements established by the Diocese. The officials were also quick to point out that not every parish would be able to do this interim step, and that it is strictly optional to do so.
In consultation with the staff at Blessed Sacrament after the webinar it was very obvious that at such late notice (Thursday 5.00p) of this development that it would not be feasible or practical for the clergy and staff to put together a program that would satisfy the requirements of the Diocese and to offer Holy Communion in a safe, healthy, and equitable manner that respected the sacred nature of the sacrament. This is not to say, however, that we are not going to work on a plan to do so – it simply means that your parish was not able to participate in this optional and interim step in such a short span of time (48 hours), especially with our office having to be closed on Fridays due to financial conservation practices that are in place.
On Monday the staff and I will be meeting to discuss our options with regard to preparing our facilities, staff, and volunteers to welcome our faithful, loving, and generous parishioners to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to do so in such a way that maintains the dignity of the sacrament, reverence for the Eucharist, and health and safety for all who participate: the faithful, the volunteers, and the clergy.
With acknowledgement of your desire to return to the glory and grace that we receive through participation in the Holy Mass, rest assured that we, your clergy and staff, will work diligently and rapidly to work through this process so that we can all be together again at the Table of the Lord. Let us all pray and ask our Lord to send His Holy Spirit upon us so that we can make wise decisions with love and compassion in our hearts.
May God continue to bless you and your families.
Fr Bryan
Friday, 1 May 2020
Third Week of Eastertide
St Joseph The Worker
Happy Friday to you!
It has been a fairly quiet day around the office and I will enjoy it as next week is promising to be quite busy for all of us processing the information given by the Diocese, the committee meetings, and all of the regular first week “stuff” that we need to do. So I won’t take up much time other than to say I will be looking forward to “seeing you” at our virtual (streaming) Masses this weekend as will the rest of the clergy and participants at the Mass.
Today, the worldwide Church celebrates an optional memorial, St Joseph the Worker, and those of us who started the Consecration to St Joseph 33 days ago will have finished on this day of devotion to Jesus’ “step father.” It is wonderful to be present as the Church continues to develop the “Theology of St Joseph” just as she did for Jesus’ mother, and Jesus himself. Let us keep in prayer those who have consecrated themselves, and pray for them that St Joseph can be not only their role model and guide, but for all of humanity as well.
Enjoy your weekend. May you continue to be in God’s grace.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Readings of the Saint: Genesis 1:22 – 2:3 or Colossians 3:14, 15, 17, 23, 24; Psalm 90; Matthew 13:54-58
Readings of the Day: Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 117; John 6:52-59
“Is he not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55)
It’s a bit ironic, actually, that on this memorial of St Joseph the Worker, a day to recognize our greatest saint after Mary, we have a Gospel reading that gives us a disparaging comment about St Joseph and the work he did. Of course it isn’t the Gospel writer doing so; Matthew is recording the comments of the crowds who are questioning Jesus’ authority and ability to speak with such wisdom. They point to Jesus’ immediate and obvious lineage: He is the son of the carpenter. The underlying tone is to question how can Joseph’s son, the son of a labourer, do such things? Shouldn’t he be working with wood as he was trained to do?
To the people that knew him, Joseph was a labourer. He most certainly would have been a good wood-worker, but a carpenter and a prophet were lifetimes apart in Nazareth. Even in this day and age, to some extent, there seems to be a divide between the levels of work or even education. There are those who think they can gauge someone by the work they do, but the truth is that we are all so much more than the things we do to earn a living. Certainly St Joseph proved that – and even more so, his Son.
Joseph the carpenter was a strong, sturdy, and reliable man, just as was the furniture he built. In Scripture, we don’t know much about St Joseph, but in every “scene” we get clues that tell us he was a good man, a man who put his family above everything except God, a man whose silent strength helped our salvation story come to its fruition. Without humble Joseph, a carpenter, our redemption would have hung in the balance.
Joseph would have taught Jesus everything he knew about being a carpenter, and his son followed suit. For those many hidden years in Scripture, we can imagine that Jesus worked alongside Joseph doing his earthly father’s bidding. We can also image that there was so much more being taught in that workshop: patience and strength, determination and perseverance, and many other virtues come to mind.
Today is a good day to pause and consider our own work. Beyond the obvious, what can we learn in the work we do, our workplace, our colleagues or classmates? As we go about our work, day in and day out, at home, at school, in the office, it’s good to look at the lessons waiting for us – just as it would have been for St Joseph when he learned his trade – and then passed them on to the Son of Man.

Prayer
St Joseph, give us the quiet strength to do the work we are called to do without complaint. We look to you as our role model as we seek out the deeper meaning of our daily tasks. Please intercede for the many fathers of this world to teach their children the virtues that you taught Jesus, so that the men of this world imitate you in strength and love for themselves and for their families as well. Amen.
Thursday, 30 April 2020
Third Week of Eastertide
Kia Ora brothers and sisters in Christ
Today’s update contains a mix of news – part of it is filled with hope and promise, the other is a dose of reality, but the news does relate to the current situation of our faith life. I’ll start with the latter.
The Diocese of Phoenix has sent out a letter to the pastors from Rev. Fredrick J. Adamson, Vicar General, about the current situation with regard to staffing and some other details at the Diocese. The Diocese is forecasting a significant reduction in revenue as a result of the impact of the pandemic on parishes and schools, which means a significant reduction in their funds, and have had to discern the core functions that will be needed most for the coming months, and perhaps years. This has led to a significant restructuring and reduction in staff, as well as scheduling further furloughs for the remaining staff. Additionally, the Diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Sun, will no longer be published effective with the April 2020 issue. Please keep in your prayers those staff members who have been impacted by these necessary decisions.
Here at Blessed Sacrament, we have had to reduce our operating expenses and payroll as well, and have had to evaluate our staffing levels. While we have completed a week or more of furlough for the staff, we have also had to eliminate one full time position and reassign those duties amongst other staff members. It is never easy to do this, nor was it accomplished without the understanding that lives are impacted by such action. While you, our beloved parishioners have been most generous, especially in the past few weeks, and I can only express my gratitude and admiration for your love for your parish, we are attempting to project a budget for the future and accomplish what is best for the longevity of the parish and the needs of the parishioners. Your capable staff and parish councils and the clergy will continue to evaluate our situation and make adjustments as necessary. Your prayers for those staff members who have been affected by this unfolding and ever-changing situation are greatly appreciated – and needed.
And now for the others side – some good news. With regard to the webinar that the staff team leaders and I participated in this afternoon, we were given a “working” presentation of the Diocesan plan to return our parishes to offering the faithful the opportunity to attend the Holy Mass. (They were quick to point out that they were not using the terminology “open our churches” because they have been open!) The plan is not set in its fullness, and so I won’t go into detail on it as it is still being “worked out.” There are many considerations with regard to this return, and we have to always keep in mind that we must work within guidelines set by the State of Arizona (social distancing, limits on the size of gatherings, sanitization of surfaces, etc.) as well as other logistics of the distribution of Holy Communion and how best to do it to ensure reverence for the Eucharist as well as the health and well-being of everyone involved. But it was good news for sure! Although a date has not been set for this first of three phases in the return to the highest form of prayer that we have here on earth, rest assured that your clergy and staff will be working to put together a plan to be ready for that day.
Again, thank you for everything you do for Christ, your family, parish, and the community. May God continue to bless us all with holiness and health.
On the Eve of the Memorial of St Joseph the Worker, let us ask him to pray for us and all who work, seek work, or have lost work due to the pandemic in this world.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66; John 6:44-51
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
The Scripture quote above seems a bit ironic in this day when our churches are closed to public gathering for the Holy Mass. Amongst the faithful, there is a void in not being able to receive the Eucharist if not daily, at least once a week when we gather for the Sunday Solemnity. Words like “sacrifice” and “longing” are used, and while true in that we long for the Bread and are sacrificing in our distress at not being able to partake in the Mass in person, let alone not receiving the Eucharist, we’ve come to the understanding and live in the hope that we will soon be reunited at the Table of the Lord. Our bodies know what nourishment it needs, and so does our soul. And right now, our soul is longing for the Eucharist.

Prayer
Lamb of God, we are not worthy of the gift of the Eucharist, be we are grateful for this spiritual food that draws us to you and to one another. When we are once again able to receive the “Flesh for the life of the world,” may the Bread of Life transform us from the inside out so that we never take for granted the Gift that we have been given in the Eucharist. Amen.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Third Week of Eastertide
St Catherine of Sienna, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Happy Wednesday to you!
As I noted in yesterday’s update, on Friday, 1 May, we will renew our nation’s and personal consecration to Our Blessed Mother. The liturgy will be that given to us by the USCCB and will be broadcast on the parish website and Facebook page at 3.00p. Please let your friends and neighbours know about it – especially those who may not be “tech” savvy; maybe invite them over for the streaming. The whole event will be less than 20 minutes long.
It is my understanding that it has been tradition at Blessed Sacrament of offering a “May Crowning” of the Blessed Mother’s icon in the church. Since the Consecration occurs on 1 May, we have moved the Crowing to Saturday, 2 May following the 4.00p Mass. You can watch the ceremony live on Saturday at about 5.00p (after Mass); we will also be placing the video in a separate link on the website for your review at a later time.
Evidently, our “stay at home” order remains in place for a bit longer with some slight modifications, but at least there is some hope of movement toward a “new normal” – whatever that will be. Tomorrow afternoon, I will be attending a webinar regarding the Diocesan plans for the wonderful day when we can all gather again and I will certainly keep you all posted on relevant information that is discussed. It wouldn’t be prudent for me to make any comment on “reopening” at this time, or to even speculate as to what will happen as I would probably be wrong anyway. But rest assured that I will communicate through our various media outlets any important information in this regard. I know you are looking forward to the day when we can all gather again – and so is your staff and clergy.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, keep your prayers going for those who have been infected with the virus and whose lives have been adversely impacted by it. And thank you for keeping our parish and fellow parishioners in prayer as well.
May God continue to bless you with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture Readings
Acts 8:1-8; Psalm 66; John 6:35-40
(Alternate for the Saint: 1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Psalm 103; Matthew 11:25-30)
Bravery seems to be something relegated to the superhero movies and science fiction novels all of which include characters put in impossible situations who fight off evil with huge muscles and techno-weaponry. It seems unattainable for us ordinary folk but it’s good enough to sell billions of dollars of movie tickets and merchandise. It seems like bravery is something someone else should do.
Enter St Catherine of Siena. She lived in a time (1347 – 1380) when the Church was beset with problems and scandals, in many ways not unlike what we face today. Not only was she involved in spiritual matters saving souls, but in political ones as well. St Catherine of Siena is even credited with getting the pope to move the Holy See from Avignon back to Rome which had to be no small feat and certainly required a fearless and courageous effort on her part – bravery, in other words. She suffered for her faith, but was undeterred in her faith by the many obstacles placed in her way for the “righting of the ship” so to speak. She had superhero qualities for sure.
But bravery isn’t just for superheros or firefighters or soldiers, those for whom we traditionally assign the descriptor of brave. We often don’t consider bravery something we need to fit into our daily lives, or perhaps its not just who we are. Today’s readings and feast day remind us that we are wrong on this line of thinking. Bravery is actually a daily decision for each of us. Maybe bravery is not responding in kind when someone mistreats us. Maybe bravery is going out of our comfort zone to help someone in trouble. Maybe bravery is making the parenting decisions our children need rather than the decisions that they want mom or dad to make. Maybe bravery is befriending that kid over there who gets picked on or teased by others. Bravery is something that requires us to take a chance to do something for someone else, even if we think we can’t do it or that what we do will be of little consequence or maybe even fail at doing. Chances are, however, every day presents us opportunities to be brave. It can certainly make a superhero out of any one of us, even if no one else knows what we have done or the challenges we had to overcome. Ask Jesus to give yourself the courage and bravery and faith that motivated St Catherine of Siena. It’s who Jesus needs right now – those of us who are brave enough to help Him win souls for salvation.

Prayer
St Catherine of Siena, you trusted in Jesus completely, even when it meant suffering, even when you had to do difficult things with bravery. Pray that we may find that same trust and strength as we face the challenges before us each day. Amen.
Tuesday, 28 April 2020
3rd Week of Eastertide
I hope this email finds everyone happy, healthy, and holy!
I know we’re all getting a bit anxious about opening up our parish to the full liturgies and getting back to “normal” – whatever that will look like in the coming months. We are all waiting for the “clearance” from the government, as well as word from the Diocese. Rest assured your staff and clergy feel the same way. Unfortunately, it is still a waiting game. Using my favourite Canadian geese analogy, the flock is ready to fly again, but the weather isn’t permitting it at the moment; we’re still grounded.
We have received several questions regarding the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation) as well as some other Rites and, as noted above, we are still in a “holding pattern” for these things. Rest assured that as soon as we get some dates for the “opening” of the parish we will work to sort out dates, times, places, etc., for the celebration of these wonderful sacraments. But there is no point in setting dates only to have to revise them if the restrictions on gathering and social distancing haven’t been lifted. Until then, please keep the RCIA and other participants for the sacraments in your prayers as we do.
This Friday, the 1st of May, we will join with the other Diocese and many parishes in a special liturgy for the month of May, a month traditionally given over to honoring the Blessed Mother. The United States Catholic Bishop’s Conference has put together a special liturgy to be celebrated on Friday. Your parish will be streaming the liturgy, “Renewing the Consecration of the United States to the Care of Our Blessed Mother” on Friday, 1 May via our website and Facebook page (the time is yet to be determined, but will be included in tomorrow’s update).
Also on Friday, Luke Air Force Base is planning on honoring COVID-19 front-line workers with a fly-over of the Valley. It is planned to start shortly after 3.00p and will last for approximately 50 minutes. A link has been provided below for more information. (Being an aviation geek, I’m hoping to be outside to watch it!)
Again I thank you for all that you do for your parish. Your contributions through prayer, activity, and financial support are cherished. May God continue to bless you with health and holiness.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 7:51-8:1; Psalm 31: John 6:30-35
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors.” (Acts 7:51)
Last week, I had a stiff neck. If you’ve ever had one, you know they are not fun. Mine started the week before and went through Thursday. I did take advantage of going to a chiropractor and he “adjusted” my stiff neck and gave me some exercises to do. The cause of it I’m not sure, but whatever was the cause, I would like to try and avoid it. I have a good pillow, and good mattress, and don’t think I slept in any out of the ordinary position, but how would I know – I was asleep! But like I said, I don’t want to go through that again.
It’s funny in that while I was being adjusted, I was thinking that there might be a good homily in this and then today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows up. It’s not a particularly “happy” reading – Stephen is arguing with the leaders that want to shut him up, and they do so physically by stoning him to death, but not before he really hit the bullseye with his commentary on their actions. And we can tell it was a direct hit because they really didn’t like what he had to say. They were “stiff necked” for sure.
But I was thinking about how the pain in my neck kept me from enjoying some things – a long walk, the beautiful weather, even sitting in the Adoration Chapel; even during Morning or Evening Prayer it was difficult as the chairs made everything more painful. “Stiff-necked” is a term that stirs up quite an image, especially when used in a spiritual sense. Most of us typically are not stiff-necked, but sometimes there is an urge that pushes into our life and pushes us away from a spiritual life. If we’re facing some challenge or disappointment or health issue, it is tempting to “punish” God for inserting this particular ailment or issue into our life. It’s like that pain in the neck that I had – I was certainly tempted to say to God, “I really don’t need this! It’s making me grumpy and it hurts. Why did YOU send this to me???”
Of course God didn’t “send” me my stiff neck. It was something that I consciously did or unconsciously did, and maybe there’s a bit of weakness in my spine that helped it along. But God didn’t “send” it to me to make me miserable and grumpy. But there may be in this life some challenges or difficulties that I do have to work within to accomplish God’s great plan of salvation for all, and this is true for all of us. We may not “want” what we get (who wants a stiff neck?), but we have to acknowledge that maybe, in some way, we have contributed to it. It might just be that we need to accept the suffering, challenge, or difficulty and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to sort it out – whatever the “it” is.
That chiropractor’s adjustment helped my pain, but it didn’t go away straight away – it took a few days to “work it out.” The good Lord, through the Holy Spirit, can help us with whatever pains come our way in a spiritual and emotional sense and help us to “work it out” as long as we’re not “stiff-necked” toward Him. That “adjustment” (a new attitude, perhaps?) combined with the exercises (prayer, perhaps?) that the Divine Physician gives can keep us from being those “stiff-necked” people that St Stephen was talking about.
Prayer
Holy Spirit, we know that trusting you means letting go of our need to control things, to not be stiff-necked, but to be flexible as to God’s plan for us and for our brothers and sisters. Amen.

Luke Air Force Base Fly-over: Friday, 1 May 2020
Link for more information:
https://www.azfamily.com/news/continuing_coverage/coronavirus_coverage/luke-air-force-base-to-honor-covid-19-front-line-workers-on-may-1/article_05a3aeb2-896c-11ea-b92d-93f74f33b82f.html#utm_source=azfamily.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Flists%2Fnoon-news-update%2F%3F-dc%3D1588100414&utm_medium=email&utm_content=headline
Monday, 27 April 2020
Third Week of Eastertide
Kia Ora.
Kei te tumanako ahau kei te pai koe.
(Maori for “Hello. I hope you are doing well.”)
I hope you had a very nice weekend and were able to offer some time in thanksgiving to our good Lord for His many blessings. I certainly offered Him thanks for all of you.
A few messages came in to the office wondering if I was okay because I haven’t written anything over the past few days. Yes, I’m fine – thank you for the concern! I’ve heard from so many of you how you look forward to these writings and I’m happy to do keep writing while we’re in this “lockdown.” I will endeavour to keep writing these reflections through out this time and let you know if there is a break so as to not be concerned if there isn’t one in your email! Again, I am very touched by your thanks and kind words – it is very generous of you.
When this “social distancing” and “lockdown” started, I thought it important to institute a “daily check-in” with the team leaders (department heads) of the staff and at 1.30p every working day the team leaders and I gather outside (practicing “social distancing” of course) and I ask each leader to rate their colour (green, yellow, or red based on their stress level) and name the top two things they are working on at the moment. But the conversation has to remain on task – no wandering off subject; time is a valuable commodity and there is work to be done. Anyone one in a “red” zone is then offered help from the other team members to share the workload so that no one is overburdened or falls behind. We begin with a prayer, go around the circle so that everyone has a chance to speak, and close in a prayer. At first, I wasn’t sure how this would be received – but as we have practiced it for a few weeks now, it seems that the staff is a bit more comfortable with this “check-in” procedure and I have asked them to do it with their team as well. It’s easy and builds team, and that’s one of my goals for our staff: to build a team. I’ve used the Canadian goose as an example of a team flying in formation toward a goal, and that’s the process we are working on. Of course, our goal is Jesus Christ.
In this time of uncertainty and stress, it’s good to remember our goal – yours and mine – and our goal is our Saviour – whether we are at home or at work. And together we can get there as staff and parishioners together. It doesn’t take much time to let people know you care, and that is why we meet for a few moments each day, it’s why we as a staff are calling you, our beloved parishioners, and it why we all join in daily prayer: we care about each other, and we care about our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, you might try it, too. Start in prayer, tell Jesus your colour (your stress level), and name the top two things you are working on for Him today. He’ll listen. He loves you and cares for you.
Kia manaakitia te ra. (Have a blessed day.)
Pa (Father) Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 6:8-15; Psalm 119; John 6:22-29
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27).
Right now, in the fridge at the presbytery (New Zealand for “rectory”), is some food that has perished. If a high school biology or chemistry class was in session, I would be happy to donate it for study of the decay process and chemical compounds of what it used to be! I’m sure you’ve had some similar experiences in your fridge – but I won’t tell anyone you did!
The context of the Gospel reading today is an event after Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish. He and his disciples had left, but the crowd looked for them the next morning and found them “across the sea.” It seems Jesus recognized that there was a bit of an issue with this group so He responds, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26).
From our vantage point, we understand the teaching – the difference between the food we need for physical health and the food we need for spiritual health. Of course we have to work for food that perishes – we need nourishment for our physical bodies. But there’s a difference between “working to live” and “living to work” and that may be more at the root of Jesus’ teaching than a strict interpretation of the passage.
It’s good to take a look at how we spend our time, our money, and our energy. Certainly this pandemic situation has given us a time to pause and acknowledge what the “perishables” of our lives are. Can we do without “it” – whatever that “it” is? And the “it” doesn’t have to be food – it could be clothes, cars, video games (or time spent on them), perhaps social media or less tangible things like prestige or status. It’s easy for us to think of fasting as belonging only to the penitential season of Lent or Advent, but there is a huge benefit of fasting when we “don’t have to.” Perhaps its a good time, during this Easter season, to review our Lenten promises and see if they are more like that of the crowd – seeking to be physically satisfied – or seeking Him to be spiritually satisfied.
Prayer

God of all creation, you have filled this world with beauty and wonder that we, too, often ignore and neglect. Give us eyes to see what is life-giving and a heart that chooses wisely. Amen.
Wednesday, 22 April 2020
2nd Week of Eastertide
Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Today we were offered a webinar presentation with the Diocese of Phoenix and the main focus of the presentation was a survey that was conducted by a group to discern the thoughts and needs of various religious communities in the Valley with respect to the current conditions under which we currently live. The good news was that the majority (75% of those surveyed) of faith-based people are “doing well” with the next biggest group desiring some sort of emotional support during this situation (about 17%). The rest of the respondents were seeking other needs, such as food and/or financial support.
What was interesting to see was how generous the respondents were: the majority (48%) were ready to offer prayers for anyone who needed them, another large group ready to provide emotional support, and another large group ready to provide financial and physical (food, clothing, etc.) support to those in need. I thought it was a good and true reflection of the Christian population of the Valley (again, all faiths were combined in this survey).
As surveys always do, they provide a general picture of things, but not the specific needs of those individuals responding to the survey. Rest assured, however, that your parish, the staff, the priests, and the Diocese are ready to help with your needs and or to help coordinate volunteers who are offering their support for those in need. To that end, several emails have gone out informing the parishioners of what we as a community have to offer as well as asking you to contact the parish office if you need support, or want to volunteer to help in some way. Please continue to be informed about what we are offering by reading our communications and viewing our website. Also, some of your fellow parishioners may not have access to communication material, so your help in offering to provide this information to such folk is greatly appreciated.
Next week, the Diocese will be offering another webinar for the priests discussing diocesan plans for a return to “normal” once the ban on social gathering is lifted. Please note that this does not mean that the ban is being lifted – only that the Diocese is putting together a plan for that day – whenever it is! Of course the situation remains fluid and ever-changing, but as I promised, I would share information with you when I get it. Rest assured, we are all looking forward to that day when we can gather before the Table of the Lord and how glorious it will be when the Sacrament of the Eucharist is once again available. Keep praying!
I have some personal business to attend to tomorrow (Thursday) so will be away for the better part of the day and am taking Friday off for a day of prayer and rest, so I may not be able to send an update on Thursday or Friday, but if something important happens, I will certainly communicate it. Fr Jingwa will be available for spiritual and sacramental needs, and the office is staffed on Thursday (but still closed to personal visits); it remains closed on Fridays. Please know that I take you with me in heart and prayer.
May God continue to bless us all with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture
Acts 5:17-26; Psalm 34; Gospel John 3:16-21
“And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil” (John 3:19)
A few years ago in some of the parishes that I was fortunate to pastor in New Zealand, I started a “movie night” during the summer as well as during school holiday seasons. I’d like to say it was out of the benevolence of my heart that I bought some movies for the parishioners to enjoy, but I freely admit that I had an ulterior motive: it was a chance to watch the Star Wars movies (again!) on a grand scale (a very large “screen” (actually a white bed sheet) spread out on the wall – these were country parishes that didn’t have “movie houses”). I was amazed at how many of the young people had never seen these “epic” movies! Anyway, for one one of the more focused “family” nights, I thought I would offer a favourite animated movie, Monster’s Inc. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it – great family entertainment and nothing scary – even though the title sounds as such. I think the “older folks” enjoyed it more than the kids!
The movie is a fun characterization of one of the things that lurks in the minds of many young people who go to sleep in a dark room – those “monsters” may come out of their hiding places but if a night light is on, then they won’t. I don’t want to ruin the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it, but it deals with the subject quite well and from a different point of view.
Reflecting on the Gospel, and the passage of Scripture that we had today, I noted the juxtaposition of the joy of the famous line “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16) and the line of Scripture quoted above that quite directly draws focus to actions of many people that are opposite to “eternal life”: those who prefer darkness to light.
Darkness can certainly be seductive – and I’m not writing about the sexual side. Darkness can feel safe and comfortable, like a blanket protecting us against a chill. But in truth, it is very dangerous and devilish because it lets us forget about the things we don’t want to admit or don’t like to look at. Avoiding the Light of truth – the Light of Christ – we might be tempted to think that no one will notice and it will all go away on its own. (Such thinking may have been the prevailing thought of Church leaders, bishops, and priests involved in the horrible sexual scandals of the last two decades.) But again, the truth is that these things don’t go away in the darkness – they just grow and establish a firmer grip and a longer reach, making it more difficult for the Light to seep through an opening. The darkness that develops for us beginning in adolescence is different but no less manipulative than the scary monsters that seem to dwell under the bed or in the closet of a youngster. The difference, though, is that the child knows exactly where that “monster” dwells; we who have matured may not know – or not want to recognize – where our “monsters” have set up housekeeping.
Our interior selves can react in much the same way as someone who was asleep wakes up to a bright light by recoiling and shielding of eyes, or perhaps snapping in anger at the person who turned on the light. Might we do that if someone (like Christ) shines the light on our sins and faults? But doing so, in the Light of Christ, it is really unnecessary to act that way: His Light will always find a way in. Maybe we could “flip the switch” first and put it all before a loving God who loves us so much that “he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Prayer
Christ our Light, give me the courage to lay bare the sins I have hidden in the darkness, to seek forgiveness, and to reconcile myself to you in the glorious light of your love. Amen.
Tuesday, 21 April 2020
2nd Week of Eastertide
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
I would like to acknowledge those of you who desire to get involved in “doing something” (volunteering) to help your parish and fellow parishioners during this time of heightened sensitivity and need. Your parish is known for its generosity and in that there should be a sense of pride – not the sinful type of pride, but the “good” kind that acknowledges the good, but recognizes that such efforts are returning to God what He has already given to us.
Having said that, I want to reinforce that your parish staff is in place to help efforts and ideas that are put forth to build community. There are many “things” we do or already have in place (St Vincent de Paul, various clubs and groups, study sessions, etc.) or are considering given the limited resources and other considerations in which we find ourselves today. And while your staff is here to assist, they can’t do it all. That’s where you come into the picture: if you have an idea on something that would help or be of interest to your fellow parishioners, feel free to think it through. It is a good idea to “run it by” Mary Ellen Brown (our Outreach Coordinator) first as she is skilled at this type of thing and has professionally worked in this area in her career. By running it by her, your idea or project can be set up to avoid conflict with other campus ministries and events, as well as pull together names of other volunteers who have expressed similar interest or who “just want to help.” If you want your idea or event to be a “parish” function, then we do have some guidelines under which we must function (Safe Environment, insurance and liability restrictions, staffing, etc.) but these things shouldn’t be an impediment; they simply become necessary accommodations.
It’s wonderful to receive ideas from you regarding what “we” should be doing. An even better idea recognizes not only what “we” should be doing, but follows through with implementing the idea. I’ll leave you with a short story for a bit of reflection:
“Whose Job Is It, Anyway?”
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.
Written by Lolly Daskal in her book The Leadership Gap, Portfolio/Penguin Press, 2017.
Reflection on the Daily Reading
Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 93; Gospel John 3:7-15
“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).
A few years ago, the latest and greatest movement in corporate America was “teamwork.” Now, I’m guilty of it myself, as I do believe that teamwork is very important to fostering new ideas and building “ownership” in a project. In the early 1990’s, Boeing was approached by United Airlines to build a revolutionary new widebody jet that eventually became known at the 777. It was evolutionary in design and revolutionary in the way it was to be built – all by computer aided design. Boeing knew that they could no longer do it “the way we’ve always done it” and had to change their model from a “silo” mentality to a teamwork approach. They called it “Working Together” and the results created a modern jetliner for less money with greater efficiency.
Randy Glasbergen is known for his satirical cartoons mostly related to workplace issues. In one cartoon he depicts what is obviously a tired workshop facilitator standing next to a flip chart on which is written “T. E. A. M.” Below this acronym is written “Together Everyone Annoys Me.” Teamwork has its difficulties whether in the corporate office, Church organization, or around the family dinner table. Human interactions are always fraught with difficulty, but for the most part, they are worth it as a team can foster new ideas, build community, and put dinner on the table.
So what was it that allowed the Apostles in the early Church to put together a team that created harmony in a world that was anything but harmonious? For them, persecution and peril were around every corner, yet they still managed to be “of one heart and one mind.” What worked for them, as it did for Boeing, was a singular focus. For Boeing, it was a jet that would “save” the company from oblivion. For the Apostles, it was a commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ that allowed their differences to fade away – or at least to keep them under control. That’s a far cry from the world we live in, where nothing seems to be under control and everything is a reason to take sides and join in the shouting match, whether virtual or literal.
While we are often willing to donate to those in need, to volunteer time for a good cause, and maybe even come together once a week (or for some once a year) to worship our God, and while this kind of “compartmentalized” Gospel living does allow us to be our “brother’s keeper,” it does so without us being our “brother’s brother” (or sister). The former isn’t “teamwork” nor is it community. Being our “brother’s brother” (or sister) makes us part of a team or community in which we endeavour to build, not tear down. Teamwork isn’t easy…ask anyone who’s married…but we witness to God’s compassionate presence in the world by the way we live and work together. It’s important at work, and all the more important in our parish where we are to witness to our fellow parishioners and those who might drop by that we are “Working Together” to build up the Body of Christ, and not tear it down. And that, brothers and sisters in Christ, will do more to bring others to Christ than any corporate slogan or workshop.
Prayer
God of compassion and mercy, teach us to bear our differences in patience and love, to let petty slights go and to focus instead on the deeper things that bind us together as a human family. Amen.
Monday, 20 April 2020
2nd Week in Eastertide
Kia Ora!
Today, most of the staff returned to work and they were happy to be back to do the work needed to build up the Body of Christ. It was a busy day for them catching up on emails and other tasks that were put on hold, and the phones were busy as the pile of mail was sifted through.
A BIG thank you is in order to all of you who generously remembered your parish with prayer and financial offerings. Your sacrifice is greatly appreciated.
Also in the mail were several cards and letters of thanks to myself and the staff for what we have been doing to keep our community together and informed. We certainly appreciate your kind comments and look forward to continue to serve you in these challenging times. All of us on the staff keep you, our family in Christ, in our prayers and in mind with all that we can do for you and the parish.
I also want to thank all of the people who have spent time in the Adoration Chapel over the last week. It’s great that we were able to keep it open for anyone who desired to stop by and visit with our Lord, and I know at that the times I visited, several people were keeping the Lord company. I encourage anyone who wants (or needs!) to get away for a bit to come visit the Lord and thank Him for all He has done for you especially in the light of the Resurrection.
Again, I sincerely appreciate all of your work and prayers and gifts, and please know that I keep you in daily prayer when I offer the Holy Mass.
May God keep you and your family and friends holy and healthy.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on Today’s Scripture
Acts 4:23-31; Psalm 2; Gospel John 3:1-8
“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Living in New Zealand, wind is a constant. It was not uncommon to have have 100 mph winds in Wellington, the capital city. In fact, it’s nickname is “Windy Welly.”
Imagine for a moment a curtain hanging in an open window. In a strong wind, that curtain would shake about quite noticeably and the wind might even be felt if standing nearby, but a gentle breeze would barely shake the curtain and perhaps go unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean the breeze wasn’t there. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is associated, amongst other things, with wind or breath – either way it’s air movement. To draw an analogy, we will notice a strong breeze, but may not notice a gentle breath.
In a strong wind, we might be tempted to close the window. If the Holy Spirit were to blast us with a strong force, we might be tempted to withdraw and “close down” from God’s Spirit. Perhaps that’s why most of the time we aren’t knocked over by the Spirit, but gently nudged along. We might close that window in a strong wind because we want to protect the things in our interior environment – it’s instinctual to want to do so. It would be akin to wanting to protect our comfortable routine and way of life should we close the window on the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus is quite specific: to be “born of the Spirit” (“born again” in some translations”) requires us to accept the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s movement in us. Sometimes that movement is gentle, sometimes it’s earthshaking, just as it was for the Apostles as they prayed: “As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

Prayer
Holy Spirit, Breath of God, carry us along on the current of you love until our hearts are ablaze with the spiritual fire that comes from trusting in You completely. Amen.
Friday, 17 April 2020
Friday of the Easter Octave
Hello all!
I don’t know about you, but I was happy to hear the message yesterday from the President that a plan is in place to get America back to work. Of course there are many things that must happen and it seems that there are stages to go through before we can get back to an approximation of where we “left off,” but for me the message was about hope. There’s that word again, but it does indeed sound good. In fact, a few people I talked to felt the same way – there is hope that this situation will end and hope that some sense of “normalcy” will return sooner rather than later.
Of course it is too early to tell what will happen for the parish or Diocese, let alone for the State of Arizona; the Governor is no doubt working through the many issues and questions, and once that is done, I am sure that our Diocese will give us an idea of how we can begin to accommodate this phased approach. I promise that I will keep you updated on this as I get the information, but until then, we will continue to hope and pray that this is all resolved in a manner respecting everyone’s health and well-being. But the announcement yesterday certainly lifted my spirits, and I hope the same for you.
Until then, we will continue to offer the Holy Mass and some other events through our streaming capabilities. With the staff still on furlough through this weekend (they return to work on Monday), we will be streaming with the help of some volunteers and it is great to have their help. Please remember to give thanks to God for these volunteers who not only provide the technical help, but those volunteers who will be helping with the liturgies this weekend.
Your priests are looking forward to offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass for you this weekend and please know that you are always in our prayers and we sincerely thank you for yours.
May God continue to bless us all with holiness and health.
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture Readings
Acts 4:1-12; Psalm 118; John 21:1-14
“On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class. They brought them into their presence and questioned them, ‘By what power or by what name have you done this?'” (Acts 4:6-7).
I don’t know if you’ve been following along in the readings, but today we had two of my favourite – I very much enjoy the stories in the Acts of the Apostles as we are given a glimpse into the beginnings of the early Church and the struggles and triumphs of the men chosen by God to form it.
I know sometimes it can be a bit discouraging in this day and age when we read or hear about the declining numbers of people who attend Mass or claim to be Catholic or hear about those who have fallen away from the Church. But to the contrary, I think about all of those people who, throughout Church history, have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, and for some, “following” meant sacrifice of all kinds – giving up their livelihood or even their life to do so. It still happens today, often on a small scale that we may not even notice, and sometimes on a grand scale: from time in the Adoration Chapel to changing careers to work and serve the Church to present day martyrdom in places where Christianity is against the “law.” Think of Peter who once denied knowing Christ – three times – yet died a martyr’s death on a cross. In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter really “puts it out there” – he defiantly tells the leaders that there is no salvation except through Jesus. This is the same Jesus whom the officials tried to destroy and who has not gone away after all – in fact, is now more powerful than ever as He works through others to create His “army” of warriors as noted in the readings: 5000 “heard the word and came to believe” (Acts 4;5).
Many of us have had the opportunity to “defend” the faith; opportunity yes, but have we actually taken part in it? It certainly can be difficult in this day and age to talk with someone about faith and Jesus Christ. The world has done a good job of telling us that “faith is personal” or “Don’t push your religious beliefs on me.” We’ve even heard that St Francis of Assisi (founder of the Franciscan order) supposedly said “Preach the Gospel, and if you have to, use words.” To set the record straight on this, anything similar to this seems not to have appeared in any of his writings. What may be the genesis of this statement, however, does come from his “Rule of 1221” in Chapter XII of Orthodox Order of Friars Minor regarding how the Franciscans should practice their preaching:
No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister…All the Friars…should preach by their deeds.
Essentially, this is saying that their deeds should match their words. And of course, the same it true for us.
If preaching worked for the disciples, it can also work for us. I’m not saying that we should all stand on the corner or corner our neighbour or co-worker and quote Scripture, but if we want to grow our church and specifically our parish, then all of us must engage in speaking up about our love for our parish and love for our faith and love for our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And when we do speak that way, then let us let our actions show that we love our parish, and love our faith, and love our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Holy Spirit, encourage the courage within us to speak about Jesus to our family, neighbour, and co-workers and to not only speak the truth, but to put our words into action so that our faith can draw others to Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thursday, 16 April 2020
Thursday of the Easter Octave
Good evening brothers and sisters.
The Octave of Easter concludes with Divine Mercy Sunday and many of us have been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet since Good Friday and conclude the nine days of the Novena on Divine Mercy Sunday. I am aware that there has been a large gathering of the faithful on Sunday afternoon in the past, and while we cannot be together this coming Sunday in a physical way, I have been able to confirm that we will live-stream our conclusion to the Divine Mercy Novena at 3.00p with the liturgy that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has authorised for this day. It consists of a holy hour at which we will stream Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from the main church, pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet (sung by Julie Carrick), and conclude with Benediction at 4.00p. You are most welcome to join us as we worship our Lord in the Eucharist during this hour.
Following the Holy Hour, we will continue the stream and I will offer a blessing of new holy water that will be stored in the tank in the north foyer of the church. What will be different about this is that I will use the Extraordinary Form of the Blessing of Holy Water that includes an exorcism of salt and the water. The prayers are beautiful and specifically mention the use of the holy water to be spread in homes to rid them of illness. I thought this uniquely appropriate for the time in which we live. I used this form of blessing in New Zealand and the parishioners loved to be present at this blessing. So you are invited to witness the blessing of the holy water in this form as we stream the blessing. Of course you’ll be able to take some of the holy water for private use from the container at your convenience. The church is open from 8.00a to 4.30p every day.
Thank you for your prayers for our parish and staff, as well as your generosity; please continue to pray for an end to this virus and for the health of your fellow parishioners. We will be together again to celebrate and worship our Lord.
God’s peace to you and your family,
Fr Bryan
Reflection on the Daily Scripture Reading
Acts 3:11-26; Psalm 118; Luke 24:35-48
“Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
I don’t know about you, but when I have a question about something, it usually isn’t in my heart. I mean, if I have a problem to solve it seems that I need to work it out more so in my brain – because it seems that is the place where the question came from. The situation that the disciples were in would seem to have been questions that would arise in the human mind – trying to process the whole Resurrection-thing would seem to be a discussion point: “How can someone rise from the dead?” It certainly is a question that would involve some consideration, and it usually isn’t in the heart that we reason things out. I mean in geometry class, it wasn’t the heart that helped my figure out a geometric proof! Remember those?
I think the answer to the question as to why Jesus asked them “why do questions arise in your hearts” instead of in your minds is to make a point: the mind belongs to the world, the heart belongs to God. We need our minds to solve the problems of this world, but we need our hearts to see how God is working in the world and in us. Certainly reason plays a part of our faith, but the disciples – and us – are being asked to believe in what the world says would be impossible, and that involves faith. It was the same for the disciples – they were being asked to believe that their leader and friend, whom they saw tortured and crucified and witnessed his death, come back to stand amongst them, asked them to touch him, and watch him eat – proving that He is not a ghost or figment of the imagination. To do that takes heart. And it is with the heart that we can “see” what Jesus taught at a different level from the reason of the mind; it is the heart that lets us see Him for who He really is. It is with the heart that we learn to love Him and each other.
Prayer
God of miracles and wonders, open our hearts to your word, to your presence, and to your truth. Clear away any clouds of confusion from our minds so that we can see you with our hearts and focus on You. Amen.
Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Wednesday of the Easter Octave
Kia Ora!
While the staff is on furlough, the parish mail is being held by the post office until next Monday.  I did, however, clean out the card drop by the office door today and must say thank you to all who have dropped off your envelopes and cards with your donations.  I haven’t opened them, but put them in a safe place until the staff returns on Monday.  But I did want to mention it and let you know that your generosity is being looked after.  I will clean out the box daily, so please feel free to continue to use it as you wish.  And again, thank you.
I also received an email from a former parishioner in New Zealand, from a little town that was one of the five that I looked after.  She commented on how much she appreciated the streaming of the Masses over Holy Week and Easter and feels as though she’s “part of the parish in Scottsdale.”  She indicated that she would love to come visit one day (hopefully soon) and see the church in person and meet “some of the wonderful parishioners who must fill the benches.”  Wouldn’t that be great – to have the benches filled again – and I would love to introduce you to her as one of our “siblings” visiting us from Aotearoa New Zealand.  One day in the not so distant future, right?
Anyway, thank you for your prayers, and you continue in mine. May God continue to bless you and your family.
Fr. Bryan
Daily Scripture Reading

Acts 3:1-10; Psalm 118; Luke 24:13-25
“‘Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?'”
If I had to choose Scripture readings that would fit our current situation, I would be hard pressed to select any other pieces of Scripture other than what Holy Mother Church has chosen for today and the previous two. The Gospel readings take us into the fear and confusion of the days following Jesus’ death – and here we are, a bit over a month in this surreal and imposed “lockdown” in our daily lives. I know there’s fear and confusion out there – people tell me that all the time; I hear it on the radio and read about it in articles regarding life in this world today. In the Gospel reading, the small group is on their way to Emmaus and they are discussing what had happened to their friend Jesus. – The angst and confusion over the whole situation is palpable in the reading . But Jesus joins them in their walk and again in the story the characters do not “see” who is with them – just as Mary Magdalene didn’t recognise Jesus (from yesterday’s reading). It took a bit more effort for Jesus to be recognised in today’s event; he had to start from the beginning and review the prophets and Scripture – good thing Jesus was patient and thorough in his work – and it is good that he had a long time on the walk to set them straight.
Again, there are parallels for us. Jesus had spent three years with his Apostles and disciples teaching them at length and by example. They were present with Him when He quoted Scripture for them and when He was teaching in the synagogues. Even with all of this personal attention, they still didn’t “get it.” So then, for most people – especially Catholics, the question becomes with our minimal engagement in Scripture generally limited to attending Sunday Mass, how are we to “get it” if we don’t put much effort into knowing Him through Scripture? And even though it was a long walk, and the disciples were certainly enriched in their understanding, it seems that they still wanted more as they were hoping he would stay with them overnight after dinner. For us, this can equate to our lifelong learning – our walk through His teachings – using the many resources that are given to us. But is there engagement in actual study of the Scripture? I don’t mean earning a PhD in Scripture study, but perhaps buying a good study Bible (a link below is to a very well done study Bible of the New Testament) at a minimum or enrolling in an online class or taking advantage of some classes at the parish would go a long way to deepening our understanding – our walk with Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Just some thoughts…
Prayer

Dear Jesus, Word of God, we look to you today and everyday for guidance and growth as you give us the words of everlasting life. Guide us to know them in our hearts and live them through our actions. Amen.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible

This Bible is available from many sources, and can vary in price from $16 to $55, so shop around. The link I have chosen is general, and gives links to purchase it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
The Bible itself is very well done (it is the Revised Standard Version translation and as such is generally considered to be more literal and truer to the original Greek in its translation) and the “study” part of it is easy to read and understand and gives links to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It also includes some brilliant essays on many subjects, and again, easy to read and understand. I do highly recommend it, but again, it is only the New Testament – but that’s a great place to start!
http://www.scotthahn.com/resources-1/2016/1/14/ignatius-catholic-study-bible-new-testament
 

Sunday, 12 April 2020
Easter Sunday

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!
Today, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice and give thanks for what he brought to our world: the promise of Salvation through His Life, Death, and Resurrection.
At Christmas, the Queen of England delivers a message to the Commonwealth nations. I must say that I always found her messages to be quite inspirational and yes, even faith-filled.  New Zealand, being part of the Commonwealth, would have her message broadcast on radio and television and her messages were some of the highest rated events – not as high as an All Blacks’ rugby game of course, but high nonetheless.  This year, the Queen offered an Easter message that was received quite well by her subjects.  I’ve put a link to the YouTube clip at the bottom of this note, it’s a short message and well done.
Of course the Queen isn’t the only one who pushed out a message:  Pope Francis, President Trump, Rev. Franklin Graham, and even Dolly Parton got into the game, just to name a few.  As you would imagine, for all of them a similar message was given in various ways:  the world has been gripped by an unprecedented health event that has brought the economies to near standstill.  Yet, in all of this, there are incredible stories of goodness, kindness, and faith that stand out and are worth telling.  The messages talk about light in the darkness, about hope and humanity, and about finding joy and grace.  Perhaps these messages are summed up in Pope Francis’s prayer at the end of his Easter Message:
May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day. A day that knows no end.  Amen.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is easy now to remember what God through His Son has done for us as we close out this day.  Our challenge is to remember it in the days ahead.  As the Pontiff said, “But the Lord has not left us alone. United in our prayer, we are convinced that He has laid His hand upon us.”
May the Easter Joy be with you always, and may God continue to bless you and our parish.
Fr. Bryan
Message from the Queen of England

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv8nUZtVX84

 

Friday, 10 April 2020
Good Friday

Good Friday Greetings and Blessings
Since today has the word “Good” in it, I thought I would share some “good” thoughts with you today…even though it is a day when we generally don’t think of it as “good.”  More on that later.
It’s amazing to me the global reach not only of the Church universal, but of our parish due in no small part to the situation in which we find ourselves in that we are streaming the Mass.  Of course, anything that goes “out there” on the web is not only being shared with our parishioners in the Valley of the Sun, but communities around the world.  And get this – since what is being sent goes to a satellite in orbit, some of those radio waves go beyond the satellite and into space – forever!
Anyway, back to earth, I have included a document below that shows our global reach of our website (the figures do not include Facebook) on Holy Thursday.  Have a look…if you want to have fun, just look at the flags first and see if you can name the country – then you can check out the number of visitors from each country.
If you haven’t had a look at the parish Facebook page recently, there are some wonderful stories and photos of your fellow parishioners and how they have responded and embraced our Lenten journey in their homes.  It’s always great to see the faith that is “out there” and how the parishioners are embracing it in our current situation.
And some other good news:  we are going to keep our Adoration Chapel open during the week after Easter.  To do so, however, there are a few things that you can help us with in keeping it open and sanitized:
  • If you are scheduled for an hour, please make the commitment to attend to your chosen hour; if you need a substitute, it is up to you to find one (as the staff is on furlough and will not be available to cover or assist.)
  • Please wipe down your space with sanitizing solution or a “Clorox wipe” (provided in the chapel).  The chapel will be attended to in a general cleaning, but anyone who comes to adore our Lord is requested to wipe down the space in which they were seated and/or touched.
The Chapel will open Saturday night after the Vigil Mass (at 10.00p for sure).
So, what’s so “good” about Good Friday?
For one thing, Good Friday is a day common to all Christians and, while we as Catholics start the Triduum on Holy Thursday, Christianity in general focuses on the events of the Friday of the Passion as starting the most momentous weekend in history.  Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).  On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
Why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar?  
Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in Germany, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.”  In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” has been debated, and some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.
The cross is where we see this convergence of great suffering and God’s great forgiveness.  Psalm 85 sings of the day when “righteousness and peace kiss each other.”  The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, His truth and justness coincided with His mercy.  We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin. “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) is why Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to His resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace. 
And remember, without Good Friday, there is no Sunday of the Resurrection.
So, yes, it is good that we call it “Good Friday.” 
May God bless us all, and keep us healthy and holy.
Fr Bryan
Visitors from around the world

Wednesday, 8 April 2020
Holy Week

Greetings All

On this eve of the Triduum, I thought I would take one last opportunity to discuss “business” before we begin the high holy days of the Church.

First, I want to recognize all of you who have been keeping in contact with your fellow parishioners – verbally or through prayer – as well as the kind cards and letters that have been coming into the office over the past few weeks.  It is certainly a reflection of the charity in which we are all reminded to participate in during this time of year.  I certainly appreciate it, and I know the staff and your fellow parishioners do as well.

Secondly, I want to thank you for your generous financial support for our parish over the past few weeks.  It is no secret that our income has dropped, as it has for many of you in your work or other means of financial support.  It’s been amazing to me and to our team how you have responded through online giving (Faith Direct) or putting your weekly envelope in the mail or dropping it off here at the office.  We’ve even received some donations from our out-of-state friends who would normally be here this time of year but because of the circumstances in which we all live at the moment, they are not able to be here to enjoy our wonderful weather and sporting events that have been cancelled.

As I have communicated previously, and even with your support, it is still necessary to close our office after Easter Sunday for one full week and furlough the staff.  As such, there will be no staff on campus next week (except for the priests who will be available for special circumstances as well as continuing to offer the daily Mass for your intentions).  The parish office is traditionally closed on Good Friday, and such will be the case this year as well.  We’re not unique in this unfortunate situation; many of the parishes of the Diocese are also taking similar and necessary steps at this time.  

On Holy Thursday, at the conclusion of Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist is traditionally removed from the Church and taken to a place of “repose” (traditionally at Blessed Sacrament, it has been to the courtyard) for a time when the faithful can “keep watch” with our Lord, just as Jesus’ chosen friends were asked to do.  This year, we will have to modify this procedure in order to comply with the Diocesan and government directives.  At the end of the Mass on Thursday, the Eucharist will be placed on the altar for a short period and the camera will remain on It so that you can participate in that “watch” from home.  After a short period of time, the ciborium will be returned to the Tabernacle and the Mass will end in traditional silence and the altar will be stripped of all furnishings and the church will remain in darkness, signifying our separation from Christ.  Also as has been customary at Blessed Sacrament, the Adoration Chapel will be closed until after the Easter Vigil, also reflecting the solemn nature of the time our Lord entered into His Passion and Death.  However, while the Adoration Chapel is closed, the Church will be open on Friday (8.00a to 4.30p) for anyone who wishes to visit our Lord, but remember we are limited to 10 people in the church at a time and appropriate spacing must be maintained.  (Also, there is a practice Friday at 1.00p – 2.30p for the people who are helping to put on the Good Friday liturgy, so please excuse our presence if you come to the church during that time.)

There are many decisions that have had to be made to accommodate the circumstances in which we are currently living and worshiping, and I very much appreciate the inconvenience and changes that you, the faithful, have had to make during this time.  I understand that this is not ideal – for anyone – but we are all in this together and must be together in prayer and love to help each other through this time.

I know this is the wrong time of the year to think of the particular passage in Scripture when Jesus was with his disciples in the boat on the lake, but I think it fits with many of the concerns and pleas that I have heard over the past few weeks.  If you recall, in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 8:22-25), the disciples are quite frantic as the boat is tossed and turned in the storm.  The boat was “filling with water, and [they] were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water, and they obey him?’”

Brothers and sisters, while it seems our “boat” may be filling with water and that we are in danger, the Lord remains with us, and He, and only He, can calm the storm.  And there will be calm.  The disciples had to learn to trust in Him, and so do we.

God’s blessings to you to stay healthy and holy, and happy in Him.

Fr Bryan

 

Triduum Services at Blessed Sacrament

(All events listed below are broadcast to the parish website or Facebook page)

Holy Thursday

7.00p  Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday

12.00n  Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

3.00p  Stations of the Cross

7.00p  The Passion of Our Lord

Holy Saturday

7.45p  Vigil Mass in the Holy Night

Easter Sunday

6.30a  Mass

8.30a  Mass

Monday, 6 April 2020
Monday of Holy Week
Kia Ora.
I’m a bit short on time today – and sending this update out a bit early as I have to go to the west side and offer a Rosary Vigil Service for a family whose son passed away quite unexpectedly.  Your prayers for the parents, Dennis and Sandra, will be appreciated.
The Liturgy Committee and I had a chat today to plan our services for Holy Week.  Here is what we are able to offer (streamed on our website and Facebook page):
Thursday – 9 April
7.00p – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Friday – Good Friday – 10 April
12.00n – Litany to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
3.00p – Stations of the Cross from our parish church
7.00p – The Passion of our Lord
Saturday – 11 April
7.45p – Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

Sunday – 12 April
6.30a – The Mass at Sunrise
8.30a – The Mass of Easter Sunday
Sunday – Divine Mercy Sunday – 19 April
4.00p – Saturday Vigil
7.00a, 8.30a, 10.30a, and 5.00p – Mass of the Day
3.00p – Divine Mercy Chaplet*
*The Divine Mercy Chaplet (Novena) starts on Good Friday and concludes on Divine Mercy Sunday (9 days).  Due to the staff furloughs during the week after Easter, we are not able to stream the chaplets (except the final one on 19 April); however, you are encouraged to offer the chaplet on your own.
As I get more details and options sorted out, I will let you know if we are able to keep the church and Adoration Chapel open during the week following Easter due to staff furloughs and depending whether or not the Adoration Chapel is able to be staffed each hour during that time period.  I’m expecting to be able to update everyone on this later in the week.
Again, I want to offer a sincere thank you to all who have generously donated (in time and treasure) to help keep your parish open during this time.  You are always in my prayers at Mass and at night.
Our Lord is near!  Thanks be to God.
Fr. Bryan

Sunday, 5 April 2020
Palm Sunday

Good evening brothers and sisters in Christ.

As we begin Holy Week, I know you might have a few questions as to what we are able to offer to you for the Easter Triduum.  Tomorrow, I am meeting with our liturgy group to sort out some of the details and will be happy to include it in tomorrow’s update as well as post to the parish website.

On Friday night, I received an email from the Diocese regarding the Sacrament of Confession and addressing the needs of the faithful who seek the sacrament in this time of self-quarantine and in light of the request of the Governor to remain at home to the extent possible.  The Diocese understands that it may not be possible for you to participate in the sacrament at this time and has offered a solution to help “the faithful to make a perfect act of contrition” and to remain in line with the teachings of the Church.  The document from the Diocese reads, “Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is ‘sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1451).  When the faithful are conscious of having committed a mortal sin and are unable to have access to the Sacrament of Confession, the Church invites us to make an act of perfect contrition, that is, of sorrow for sin, which ‘arises from a love by which God is loved above all else.’  An act of perfect contrition “obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (emphasis added, Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1452). An act of perfect contrition disposes our soul for Spiritual Communion.”  So, while you may not be able to receive the sacrament directly at this time, and with the understanding that a “perfect act of contrition” does not remove the obligation or need for the Sacrament of Confession, this act does allow a faithful person, who, with a humble and contrite heart, to be disposed to the immeasurable grace of God.

If you are able to come to partake in the sacrament, visit our parish website for times and dates for our parish as well as the surrounding parishes.  If not, please take advantage of the conditions for a “perfect act of contrition” as noted above.  A link below is given for the actual prayer known as the “Act of Contrition” as well as links to an examination of conscience for adults, teens, and children.

As we begin the final week of Lent, let us take the time to rededicate ourselves to our Lord in our participation in His Passion by continuing to engage in our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and alms giving.  Earlier this week we sent out a link to a document (a “flip book”) produced by the Diocese for Holy Week.  It was so well received that the website crashed!  But a new link was created and is available on our parish website as well as as the website of the Diocese.  There are some great suggestions for making your home part of the liturgy.       

Nothing can ever replace the solemnity and beauty of Holy Week in our church, and so the absence of public worship during these holiest of days in our liturgical year presents a moment of pause. The void created in our spiritual lives by lack of access to the sacraments can be seen, in a way, to draw us closer to Christ’s own solitude in His final agony and suffering. And yet, we cannot remain there. By our Easter faith, we know that Christ is alive and among us. “I am with you always,” he promised (Mt 28:20).

Knowing all things work for the good, let us not dwell in our sadness, but as Easter people, fervently pray for the grace given to Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning: for the eyes to see the Risen Lord in our midst and the ears to recognize His voice as He speaks to us. 

May God continue to bless us all in all that we do during this Holy Week.  Your work for your fellow parishioners and for those in need is truly and inspiration to me, and I thank God for all that you do, and for your prayers.

God’s peace to you and your family.

Fr Bryan  

 

Act of Contrition:
https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/act-of-contrition-338
 
Examination of Conscience – Adults
https://www.ncregister.com/info/confession_guide_for_adults
 
Examination of Conscience – Teens
http://www.johnpaul2center.org/JohnPaulIICenter/LayFormation/AdultFormation/SeasonofMercyFaithFormationRes/ExaminationofConscienceforYout.pdf
 
Examination of Conscience – Kids
http://www.johnpaul2center.org/JohnPaulIICenter/LayFormation/AdultFormation/SeasonofMercyFaithFormationRes/10Commandments_Child_EC.pdf

 

Friday, 3 April 2020
5th Week of Lent
There’s always hope.  Always.
It is safe to say that these past few weeks have been among some of the most tumultuous and emotional that any of us can remember in recent history.  The impact of the coronavirus outbreak as been felt by individuals and families, companies and communities, not only in the United States, but around the world.
The response to this crisis has been extraordinary in many respects; as much for what it has required from our society but also for what it has revealed of us as a people.  Far from causing division and discord, this crisis and the social distancing it has required, has allowed us to witness something profound and moving about ourselves:  our fond and deeply felt wish to be connected with one another.  God created us as social beings – we need each other – and want to share our lives with others at some level.  For most of us right now, that contact is virtual (using our phones and other types of technology) to gather.  It is no different for our parish.  Our staff is reaching out to our parishioners by phone, and the Mass is being sent out electronically.  It’s humbling to think that we, here in Scottsdale, Arizona, are watching the same Mass at the same time as others in parts of the U.S. join us and also around the world – my St Joseph’s “family” in the town of Dannevirke in rural New Zealand is joining us as well.  One thing is for sure, brothers and sisters, we are connected together by technology, but we are also connected together by baptism and by our world-wide Catholic Church.  It is indeed universal, and we are all part of bringing Him into homes all around the world.  Who would have thought this a month ago, right?  So, yes, there is always hope.  Always. 
In another act of togetherness, Archbishop Jose Gomez, Archbishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked all of us to join together to pray the Litany to the Sacred Heart at 12.00 noon on Good Friday.  The official statement is attached for your review.  Note that a special plenary indulgence is granted for those who join in the prayer, and the details are in the letter.  Please extend this request to join in this litany to your family and friends, especially those who may not be receiving this email.  I have included a link to the actual Litany at the end of this update, as well as the letter from the Archbishop for your review.  We will try to stream live the Litany from our parish (after the noon bells) so that we can do this together as a parish – I will confirm this in a future Update. 
As I have communicated previously, we will be under some new operating hours at the parish.  I thought I would again place those in this update for your information and reference.  Please refer to the bottom of this update for more information.
With regard to the specifics of Holy Week and what we will be able to offer, more information will be forthcoming in a future Daily Update.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you for your kind words, cards, letters, and generous donations to your parish, the staff, and the priests, as well as to St Vincent de Paul and your fellow parishioners.  We really do appreciate all you have done, continue to do, and you!
May God continue to bless us all with health and holiness.
Litany to the Sacred Heart | Letter from General Secretary
 
Blessed Sacrament Operating Hours
  • Office Hours:  Monday through Thursday: 8.30a to 4.30p
  • Church Open Hours:  Monday through Saturday*:  8.30a to 4.30p
  • Adoration Chapel:  Open 24 hours; key entry required between the hours of 8.00p and 6.00a.
As always, the priests remain available.  For an emergency, phone the office for contact information.
*Please note:  the only entrance to the church and courtyard will be through the gates on the south side (“walk of saints”).  On Sunday and during the other hours when the church is not open, you’re welcome to visit the Adoration Chapel.
Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this will cause, but it is necessary due to the limited presence of staff and security personnel on campus during this time of reduced staffing.
Fr Bryan

Thursday, 2 April 2020

5th Week of Lent

Yesterday was a “full-on” day (and evening) so I didn’t get to send out an update – sorry about that – as after the Finance Council meeting ended after 8.00p, I received a phone call for a pastoral situation and didn’t finish until later in the night.

One of the things that I had on the calendar yesterday was a webinar with the Diocese regarding the events of Holy Week and I thought I would update you on what we are able to do and what the Diocese has developed and is offering for you and your families to use at home beginning with Passion (Palm) Sunday.  I have included a link at the bottom of this note for a wonderful booklet for your use.  It is a very well done and comprehensive document for use at home with regard to the liturgies.  It is what is known as an electronic “flip book” and is designed to be used on a computer or smart phone.  It is free to everyone so, for example, if you and your family gather for one or more of the events that will be steamed from Blessed Sacrament (or other parishes) or if you participate in your own or family gathering for the events of Holy Week, you’ll be able to follow along.  There are also some wonderful ideas for young people, and links to follow to print things for kids and/or to get some enrichment and further understanding with regard to the liturgies.  Again, the link is below – have a look around it and see what you and/or your family would like to participate in during Holy Week.  I really liked one of the suggestions in the book and that was to set up an “altar” at home on which a candle is lit and some other items are placed during Holy Week.  There are many other suggestions in the booklet to help you enter into the beauty of Holy Week, even though we are separated by not being able to be in the church.  But the “domestic church” (family) can still participate in many ways, and I encourage you to do so with your family and/or friends.

I also want to thank you for calling or emailing your suggestions on ways to keep our parish community involved.  There have been some great ideas and you are encouraged to go forward with them.  Because our staff has had their hours limited and even some furloughs of various lengths throughout the month of April, the staff time is a bit more restricted so it is incumbent upon all of you, the wonderful family that we have at Blessed Sacrament, to engage each other and do what is good for families – communicate!

If you would like help organizing something, or have a good idea and just not sure how to implement it or what it would take, please feel free to contact Mary Ellen Brown, your parish’s Engagement Specialist, to help.  Even if you “just want to help” as so many of you have offered, feel free to contact her and let her know in what ways you can help and Mary Ellen might be able to connect you with another parishioner who has an idea.  Mary Ellen’s skill set that she brings to us from years of work in non-profit organizations allows her to become the “hub” (if you will) to coordinate efforts so that no one is needlessly duplicating effort.  There are some limitations to what we can do, and Mary Ellen can even help you understand what can and cannot be accomplished under the “parish umbrella,” so to speak.  But again, thank you for your suggestions, offers, and especially your prayers for the staff as well as your fellow parishioners.

As we approach Holy Week, and ever closer to the joy of the Resurrection, I encourage you to not look at what we “can’t do” together, but what we can do, even if not “together.”  The booklet from the Diocese is quite inspirational and filled with the beauty and joy of Holy Week, especially if you take some time and effort to put it together – even if it’s just something simple like a lit candle during the evenings of Holy Week.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you remain an inspiration to us and you remain in our daily prayers, and in the “private” Mass that I (and Fr Jingwa) offer for you.

May God keep you healthy, holy, and happy, and looking forward in the hope of Christ.

God’s blessings to you.

Fr Bryan

 
Diocesan Publication for Palm Sunday/Holy Week:
https://instantflipbook.com/flipbooks/f872d73651/?page=1
It’s easy to use:  to turn the page, click on the large left arrow; to turn back, click on the large right arrow.
Suggestion:  be careful about printing it; the booklet is almost 50 pages!
The booklet is not currently available in hard cover – electronic only.
You’ll see how beautiful it is, and the crew at the Diocese did a fabulous job on it.  It can be shared with anyone, and it is also available on the Diocesan website (also as a “flip book.”)
 
Blessed Sacrament Liturgy Schedule:  
Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday
(All services will be streamed on the parish website and Facebook page.)
Palm Sunday:
4.00p (Saturday Vigil), 7.00a, 8.30a, 10.30a, and 5.00p
Palms will be blessed at each Mass, but distributed at a later date.
Mass of the Last Supper (Holy Thursday):
7.00p
Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion:
7.00p
Easter Vigil in the Holy Night:
7.45p
Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday):
6.30a, 8.30a

Tuesday, 31 March 2020
5th Week of Lent

Kia Ora!

I received several comments and emails today regarding the update from yesterday and want to thank so many of you who have gone “above and beyond” and responded not only with your generosity, but with your kind comments toward the staff as well as to me.  As I have mentioned many times, this is a wonderfully generous parish – not only for your parish, but for charities and people in need.  You live the faith, and that is quite evident in your words and actions.

We also received confirmation from the Diocese that Governor Ducey’s emergency order yesterday classifies churches as “essential” and are not subject to closure under the order.  This is great news and as one person commented in an email to me, “Religious freedom was maintained” and, in fact, upheld; how great is that!  We are still, however, under the federal guideline of the 10 person limit, and the Diocese has maintained the current restriction on offering the Holy Mass publicly, as well as some other limitations.  So, at this time, we will continue to operate the parish as we have been doing for the past few weeks:  streaming the Vigil and Sunday Mass at the regularly scheduled time, the Adoration Chapel remains open as well as the Church during the “normal operating hours” of the parish (see below for more information), and the Sacraments of Confession and Anointing are still available as needed.  With regard to Holy Week, we will have more information tomorrow as we participate in a webinar in the afternoon at which the Diocese will discuss particulars relating to Holy Week and its services.

In other news, and as I indicated in last night’s post, I would be meeting with the staff today to consider our options for the month of April with regard to operations and staffing.  Also I indicated that our budget shortfall for March was quite significant, and April’s budget will also be impacted by the “Stay-at-Home” order.  With the significant decline in funding and the forced drop in activity on campus, in some areas the work for the staff has declined, but for some the work load has increased.  And considering the needs of our parishioners, staff, and their families, some difficult decisions have had to be made and will be implemented in short order.  I know many people are impacted, and everyone may have different ideas on how to function in this time, but I do hope that you trust me in that the decisions I have made in consultation with staff members, officials from the diocese and industry, as well as legal considerations, and that the path we have chosen will help to secure a future for your parish.

 

Here are the changes and updates going forward.

  • All staff members, including clergy, will be participating in a reduction in pay, either through the number of hours worked or salary adjustments.

  • Some staff members will be placed on furlough beginning Monday, 6 April.  All staff members will be on furlough beginning Monday, 13 April.  The end dates of the furloughs vary, but most furloughs will end on 19 April, however this is subject to change based on financial and other considerations.

  • While on furlough, and in compliance with labor laws, no staff member is permitted on campus or to work in any capacity, even in a volunteer manner.

  • Due to the furloughs, the parish office will be closed beginning Monday, 13 April through Sunday, 19 April.

  • Beginning this Friday, 3 April, the parish office will be closed this week and all successive Fridays as well as Sundays until further notice.

  • Please note that while the office is closed, your priests will still be available by calling the answering service.  The priests will continue to offer the Sacraments according to the Diocesan protocols put in place last week; the priests are available for anointing of the sick as necessary. 

  • All staff members who participate in the Diocesan medical plans will maintain their plans during the furlough, paid for by the parish (except for their normal contributions to the plan), so that they can have continued access to needed healthcare should it be necessary.  Staff members have been provided with information regarding new laws and programs that are available for assistance, including filing for unemployment claims with the State and federal agencies.

  • Arrangements have been made for staff members, at their choosing, to work from home.  This is optional, and not all will choose to do so.  Those that do will be able to take phone messages and emails as usual, except during periods of furlough.

  • The front desk will be staffed during the scheduled business hours, except during furlough periods.

  • Effective this week, the church opening hours have been adjusted.  The church will be open from 8.00am to 4.30pm, Monday through Friday.  On Saturday, the church will be open from 12.00n until 5.30pm.  On Sunday, the church will be open from 6.30am until 12.00n.

  • The Adoration Chapel will remain open 24 hours, however, this is subject to review at this time.  Any adjustment to this will be posted and communicated.

  • Funerals will continue to be offered, subject to the attendance restrictions.  It will not be possible to provide for a social event following the funeral while the attendance restrictions are in place.

For all of us, as staff or parishioners, we are learning to adjust to this odd and complicated way of life, made more so by the fact that we cannot partake in the Eucharist in the manner and substance that we have so cherished over our lifetime.  Reason and sanity will return, and God’s great love has never ended.

 

I’ll quote from a portion of Psalm 33, “Song of Praise for God’s Continual Care”:

 

The Lord looks on those who revere him,

on those who hope in his love,

to rescue their souls from death,

to keep them alive in famine.

 

Our soul is waiting for the Lord.

The Lord is our help and our shield.

In him do our hearts find joy.

We trust in his holy name.

 

May your love be upon us, O Lord,

as we place all our hope in you.

Brothers and sisters, thank you for your continued support and faith.  You are an inspiration to us all.  

We miss you, and your prayers are very much appreciated not only for the staff, but for your family and friends of our parish community.

God’s love and blessings,

Fr Bryan

Monday, 30 March 2020
5th Week of Lent

Hello all!

I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the beautiful weather that we have been having.  A great time to get some fresh air.

I had a few things to write about with regard to some updates from our parish, but given the message from the Governor and the “stay at home” directive, until that gets sorted out we will be “business as usual” tomorrow (Tuesday) and I will let you know about any changes to our operations as soon as direction comes from the Diocese or clarity from the State.  I’m sure you’re as ready as I am for all of this to be over – and soon!

I will say that the staff and I are looking at our parish finances and we will need to make some difficult decisions regarding our staffing and operations.  As a guide, our monthly expenditures, which have been cut in many ways, are around $170,000; our income for March, without having tallied in full what has come in over the last few days, is significantly less than half of our expenses, and most of the income came in on the first weekend of March before the “lock-down.”  So, yes, some decisions are going to be made, but we have a wonderful finance manager and council, and an upbeat staff ready to assist you in anything you need.

I kept the note short as I have a few things to get done this evening.  The staff and I thank you for your prayers, and you remain in ours.

God’s blessings and peace to you.  Remember, His love is beyond all understanding.

Fr. Bryan   

Sunday, 29 March 2020
5th Sunday of Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Before I get to some thoughts about our current situation with regard to the sacraments, I thought I would share some facts and figures about how so many of you are joining electronically the celebration of the Holy Mass and online posts.  In regard to our Facebook page, this past week we have had:

  • 757 Followers on our Facebook page (+47)

  • 3,239 Video Views

  • 5,843 people connected to our posts

That’s all good, and I hope it continues while in this present situation…but it just isn’t the same as being here, in His presence, and I know that, and I am sure you do too.

This brings me to some thoughts I would like to share as we stand before the third week of our “exile” and enter into the 5th Week of Lent.

As I said in my homily, the Gospel of John relates so many events in the life of Jesus, and in doing so points to realities beyond the superficial.  If we look at one point of puzzlement in the telling of the story of the Raising of Lazarus, it might be that Jesus delayed his journey to answer the request of his dear friends Martha and Mary – a request of certain urgency due to the severe illness and impending death of their brother, and not insignificantly, Jesus’ dear friend.  The parallels to our situation here are extraordinary:  Martha and Mary were separated from Jesus, as are you, the faithful, in this current state of affairs separated from the Eucharist.  Their brother was sick, and wasn’t being ministered to, as are many of our friends and family in hospitals and in care homes as we cannot visit them in their time of need.  It even seemed that Jesus was detached from the situation, preferring to wait for some unexplained reason.  Might we be tempted to consider the same in that we feel that our Lord has deferred our prayers and petitions as we listen to the reports of the virus spreading in our country and around the world?  And not only our Lord, but what about our bishops and priests who decided to close the churches and stop the public participation in the Holy Mass?  Don’t we feel anxious and maybe even a bit perturbed that the Church is “closed” while stores and restaurants remain open?

I join you in those thoughts and frustrations, even in the indignation by the response that the Church is offering in this situation.  After all, how often are we told that the Eucharist is the most important and source of our faith, yet you – the faithful – are being denied the “source and summit” of our faith and I am being denied the opportunity to do what I was ordained to do – offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for you.  Could it be that there is more fear in this illness than trust in God’s Divine Providence?  We could ask the underlying question put forth by Martha and Mary:  Where is the Church?  Where is Jesus?  Why are they taking so long to come?

To be honest, not a day goes by that I don’t hear from one of you and your sorrow at this whole situation.  I hear it in your voices, I hear it in your prayers, I hear it in your pleas and requests.  And like you, and with you, I do not understand in my heart why it must be this way.  Rationally, I get it – we don’t want to participate in the spread the virus to our vulnerable brothers and sisters – but somehow I feel that this can be accomplished without going to the extreme that the leaders of the Church and the priests have adopted in union with political assertions of all kinds.

Jesus explains his delay in going to Lazarus.  He said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  And like Martha and Mary, we stand in waiting, a bit confused as to why we are waiting, but in a true test of faith, Martha and Mary did just that – waited – and then went out to greet Him when He arrived.  And in the end, there was a great miracle, one that foreshadowed the greatest of all miracles – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

“There are many possibilities to the “end” of the saga in which we find ourselves, but what is not possible, what cannot happen and can never happen, is that Christ fails,” wrote my “mentor” priest, Fr Sergio Fita.  When Lazarus came out of the cave, Martha and Mary understood why it was the way it was.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has a plan in all of this.  It is not until the end will we understand what seems incomprehensible today.  We are being encouraged to not abandon our faith, but to renew our faith that He is with us, even though we don’t really understand the decisions made by the officials of the Church.

Let us remember what St Paul said in today’s reading, “The Spirit of God dwells in you.”  As the Spirit dwells in you and me, so He dwells in our neighbor.  Let us find comfort in each other, even if we have to remain an acceptable distance from each other (and now it seems this will be through April), that Christ dwells within each one of us.  Better days will come, and we will all be together again to celebrate in joy.  Just as Lazarus was called out, so, too, will we meet the Resurrected Christ on that Easter morning.

You are my inspiration, and you are in my prayers, always.

Fr Bryan

 

Consecration to St Joseph
Begins Monday, 31 March 2020
Information on the Blessed Sacrament Homepage; scroll to near the bottom for a more information:  https://bscaz.org/

Saturday, 28 March 2020
4th Week of Lent

I’ll keep the message a bit short today but want to thank you all for the kind messages regarding the work that your parish staff is doing. I will certainly pass them along.

We’re still learning and adapting to the streaming of the Mass and other things, and appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these things. Michelle Harvey and Mike Barta are working together to overcome some technical issues, and we appreciate their efforts. One thing for sure, we would have a difficult time doing it without them!

Just a couple of quick notes regarding things at the parish:
Our parish bulletin has been delayed due to some adjustments in staff and offices that the vendor had to enact during this downturn. We did cut the number of printed bulletins significantly, as did most other parishes, but the few that we will get will be delayed. The bulletin is, however, still available online on our website.
I will be meeting with the staff over the next few days and discussing additional ways that we can reduce operating expenses; we’ve already put some of the “big” items in place, and there are a few more that we will be addressing, as well as looking at some of the other things we can do to reduce our expenses. I’ll update you on these as we progress.

I’ve included a link below to some wonderful resources from EWTN, including “live adoration” from 7.00a to 4.00p Arizona time. There’s much more, including a section on “homeschooling” resources (even some good stuff for us “older students” to look through and remind us of our beautiful faith), prayers and devotions, and links to the readings for Mass (everyday) as well as broadcasts of the daily Mass. And while it isn’t as good as “being there” in the presence of our Lord (as in our Adoration Chapel), the website offers the opportunity as does Skype or Facetime: it allows us to see with whom we are communicating.

Again, thank you for all of your prayers and work to keep our community together. The office remains open and if you come on campus, even though the door to the office is closed, knock on the window and wave at Anne or Mary Ann! They always have a smile for you.

May God continue to bless you and your family, and keep us all healthy, holy, and happy.

Fr Bryan

EWTN Spiritual Resources Website
https://www.ewtn.com/resources

Friday, 27 March 2020
4th Week of Lent

Kia Ora koutou (literally “hello everyone” in Maori)

I would like to thank you for the many kind comments regarding these (almost) daily emails and streaming events that your staff and I have put together. It is encouraging to know that our parish communications team effort is giving you an opportunity to stay connected during this Eucharistic drought. Thank you for the kind emails, and the staff and I really appreciate them – and you!

We’re coming up the second weekend without being together at Mass and gathering to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. For many of us, this is a big change in our daily or weekly routine and anytime that happens it is unsettling, no matter the change. Many people have lost employment, our kids are having to miss out on the social aspect of school – let alone the traditional learning environment, and going out to dinner now involves going out only to bring it back home.

It would be tempting to think that our pace and “time out” from the “old way” of doing things (pre-virus) would be quiet, yet the noise of the world still infiltrates. Communication by text, while quiet, still interrupts with that annoying “ping” when a message comes in; the television is still on, and the internet offers a big attraction. Of course keeping in contact with friends and family is important – we can call a neighbor or friend who might be shut in due to illness, or engage in a bit of “escapism” through a favorite TV program, as well as search for the latest update on what is going on in the world through Google or some other resource on the net.

But this brought me to St Teresa of Jesus (aka St Teresa of Avila) who writes about the first interior words that she heard from Jesus in her prayer were this: “Don’t be sad, for I shall give you a living book.” She explains later in her Letters that this “living book” is none other the Lord Himself. She explains: “His Majesty has been the true book where I have seen the truths. Blessed is such a book, which leaves printed what has to be read and done, so that it cannot be forgotten! His Majesty had become the true book in which I saw the truths. Blessed be such a book that leaves what must be read and done so impressed that you cannot forget!” (26.2)

How could she have listened to what Jesus was saying to her if she was so filled with “noise” that the “interior words” could not be heard? What was true for St Teresa of Jesus is also said by many more saints throughout history. They all agree that everything in the Lord is full of light because He Himself IS the Light. The path of great souls in the Church is that of people who have been able to silence other voices (noise) in order to pay more and more attention to Jesus.

While there are certainly many terrible aspects of this current situation that the world finds itself in, perhaps we’re also experiencing an opportunity to remove ourselves from the noise of this world, tune our hearts to Him, and pay more attention to Christ.

In Matthew 6:6, Jesus tells us just what to do: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Please know that you are in our prayers, and we certainly appreciate the prayers you have offered for us.

May God keep you healthy, happy, and holy.
Fr Bryan

Drive-Up Confessions:

St Bernadette’s Catholic Church Scottsdale
8.00a – 8.30a Monday through Friday; Saturday 8.00a – 8.30a and 3.00p – 4.00p.
For more information: https://www.saintbernadette.com/

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Scottsdale
3.00p – 4.00p Monday through Saturday
For more information: https://olphaz.org/parish

Live Streaming of the Holy Mass at Blessed Sacrament Scottsdale:
Times: Saturday (Vigil): 4.00p; Sunday 7.00a, 8.30a, 10.30a, and 5.00p

Visit the parish Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BSscottsdale/ or our website for the stream: https://bscaz.org/

Financial Contributions to Your Parish
Your generosity makes a difference, especially in this time of reduced sharing. Thank you (!) for your continued support of your parish and our charities.
To make your offering online, visit our web page to sign up and donate. It’s easy and convenient.
Faith Direct at Blessed Sacrament:
https://bscaz.org/give/ or text “ENROLL” to (480) 690-2880

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Tena, e oku teina e roto i te Karaite

(Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ in Te Reo, the Maori and official language of Aotearoa New Zealand)

Today in a webinar with Bishop Olmsted and some other members of the Diocesan Center, we were discussing the Sunday Mass being streamed and they tabulated the results for us to see how popular it was for the parishioners of the Diocese.  Our parish came in 6th place in the Diocese with over 2000 views!  How great is that!  It shows how much you desire to be part of the Greatest Sacrifice known to mankind at your own parish.  And your staff and priests are fully committed to bringing you the live streaming Mass at the same time as we would normally offer the Mass, so you can expect it next weekend as well.  Bishop Olmsted has also provided a presentation for all of us on YouTube; Here is the link.  It’s a good video with a very good message, so give it a “listen” when you have time.

We streamed the Mass of the Solemnity of the Annunciation at noon today and were aware of some technical problems that developed during the streaming.  I do apologize for that and want you to know that we believe that we have isolated the problem so that on Sunday the Mass should be up and streaming.  Be sure to adjust the volume on your computer and if using the website for the broadcast (as opposed to the Facebook site), adjust the volume on the display as well.

Next week on Wednesday afternoon at another webinar, we will receive more detailed information about what we will be able to offer for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.  In short, and based on the information we have received so far, the Diocese is planning that we will still be under the restrictions for assembly and as such the Masses of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday will be streamed from your parish church.  Obviously this is a disappointment for all of us, but the health and safety of all of the residents in the Diocese is of prime consideration.  Also, with regard to the distribution of palms on Palm Sunday, the Diocese has said that this is not to occur.  However, once the restrictions are lifted, the parish will have a supply (we ordered them a while ago and can’t return them!) and will be able to bless and distribute them at a later date (that is our hope anyway).  As I said, more details about the specifics of the Holy Week and Easter services will be forthcoming next week.

Your staff and priests are making a special effort to contact our parishioners to “check in” with you by phone.  It is a big list – over 2000 registered parishioners – and we just started today.  We want you to know that we do care and miss you and that you are important to us as we are a family, united in Christ.  It may take us a while to get to you and in the mean time please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers always.  

I want to thank those of you who have chosen to be the “light in the Lord” as we heard in last Sunday’s Scripture.  There have been incidents of using social media to offer prayers, to upload videos explaining the Scriptures, and reaching out and connecting to people in their homes.  Your efforts remind us that true life – the one that matters most – is the life filled with Grace.  Throughout history, we have seen how the faithful have been the “front line” and guards of the Church; that hour has come again when the faithful followers of Christ take His message to a world that is fractured, frenetic, and frightened.  This is indeed our time to be the “light in the Lord” for all the world to see.

I’m going to try to take the day off tomorrow and get some needed spiritual guidance and prayer time, so I won’t be sending a message unless something urgent comes our way.  Fr Jingwa and the staff will be here for you, and I will carry you in my prayers and heart.

God bless, dear friends and family in Christ, may you be healthy, happy, and holy.

Fr Bryan

Tuesday, 24 March 2020
4th Week of Lent

Dear Parishioners and friends

I thought I would keep this email short as I know you have much to do in caring for yourself and your loved ones.

In Monday’s update, I wrote that it was necessary to restrict personal visits to the office but also mentioned that we are still functioning.  So, if you have a question or a need, please feel free to phone or email and we will do our best to assist you.  We certainly do appreciate your understanding in this temporary situation.  Here are just a few reminders:

The office hours have not changed.

To request a Mass Intention, please call the office first and verify an open date.

You’re welcome to contribute to the operating funds of the parish (our expenses still continue!) by mailing in your envelope, dropping it at the mailbox by the office door, or using the electronic Faith Direct portal.

Our website contains links for updated information regarding health and wellness as well as parish information.

On Wednesday, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we will broadcast via streaming to our website and Facebook at 12:00 noon the Mass for the solemnity.

Thank you for your help in staffing the Adoration Chapel.  A new time has become available for a temporary spot:  Friday, 1:00pm to 2:00pm.  Also, in order to keep fresh air circulating in the chapel, please keep the door open during daylight hours to allow outside air into the facility.  We continue to sanitize the space several times a day and appreciate all who have come into the chapel and maintain the required spacing.

I do appreciate your prayers and want you to know that Fr Jingwa, the staff and I are praying for you.  And while it may seem like our work load has diminished, it has actually increased as we try to accommodate this new way of “doing business” while making some important and often difficult decisions, always keeping in mind of serving you, our beloved parishioners.  But even in this busyness we remain focused on our mission – serving Christ by serving you, His faithful, the best way we can under the current conditions.  And I know you are serving your families and friends as well – I hear some wonderful stories of how your fellow parishioners are reaching many people in our community and parish.  You are an inspiration to us all.

I’ll close with these words from Jeremiah 29:11:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the LORD, 

‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

May God continue to bless us all.

Fr. Bryan 

Monday, 23 March 2020
4th Week of Lent

Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I apologize for not having written these past few days. I actually did write an update on Saturday night, but there was a technical problem (…that was me!) in that I forgot to push SEND! I didn’t discover my failure until Monday afternoon…!

Much has occurred pastorally and in our parish in the last few days, and I thought I would pass along results from our streaming Mass “experiment.” By the end of the 5.00pm Mass on Sunday, we had over 1,800 viewers from both platforms: the parish website and the parish Facebook page. We received many comments and emails of thanks for streaming the Mass and help you remain “connected” to your parish. There were several hundred more views after Sunday. It was a lot of effort by Michelle Harvey, Julie Carrick, and Mike Barta that brought it together in a short time, so be sure to thank them and keep them in your prayers. We also had a few staff members join us in order to “speak” the responses on your behalf – and helped Fr Jingwa and I not to feel so alone!
It is our plan to follow the same schedule for next week, the 5th Sunday of Lent as well.
This Wednesday is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord (it’s hard to imagine we’re only 9 months from Christmas!) and our plan is to stream the Mass at 12.00n (following the noon bells) from the church. Please join us as we honour our Blessed Mother’s fiat.

On to other news for our parish and effective Tuesday, 24 March the parish office will be closed to visitors on campus. This step is necessary to participate to a greater extent in the suppression of the spread of the coronavirus. Of course this is a temporary measure, and it is important to note that the office will remain open regular business hours. The office can be reached by phone or email. With regard to some practical matters for this situation, I have included some notes below:
If you wish to request a Mass Intention, contact the parish office by phone or email to determine the next available date. The date/time can then be reserved and you can offer your donation by either dropping off the donation in an envelope with your name and the name of the intention on it into the mailbox next to the office door, drop your donation into the mail and post it to the parish office, or submit the funds electronically through Faith Direct making note in the space provided. But be sure to contact the office first to schedule the date.
If you need a form, such as a baptism request or other form, contact the parish office by phone or email to request the form. We can email or post the form to you. Over the next few weeks, we will be placing more of these things on our web page for easier access.
If you wish to make a donation (cash or check) to the parish or charity, you can drop it in the mailbox by the office, drop it in the post and mail it to the office, or use the online platform Faith Direct.
If you wish to donate food or clothing, please bring the items to the campus; you’re welcome to call and inform us that you’re coming so that we can meet you outside, or you can drop your donation into the bin outside the office.
Your parish priests are still available! You’re welcome to call or email, and if you want to visit with them personally, Fr Jingwa and I are happy to meet with you – we’ll just have to meet outside in the courtyard. But that shouldn’t be a problem as the weather is wonderful this time of year. As always, an emergency call-out is still available, however hospitals and care facilities may be restricting visits – even for anointing. If a call out to a hospital or care facility is requested, please verify with the hospital or care facility first as to whether or not a priest is allowed to make the visit to the sick person.
Thank you for your understanding with this new situation, and we certainly appreciate your patience while we work through the first few days of this new way of “doing business.” Anne and Mary Ann do some incredible work at the front desk; it isn’t an easy job, and they always appreciate your kindness and compassion.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that we were considering drive-up confessions, and we still are. However, we have a webinar scheduled with the Diocese on Wednesday afternoon to update us on policies and procedures, and before offering specific details, I am going to wait until after the presentation to make specific plans. Until then, we will continue with our regular confession schedule:
Wednesday 4.00p to 5.30p
Friday 6.00p to 7.00p
Saturday 8.30a to 9.30a
As previously mentioned, confessions will be in the courtyard.

With regard to the Adoration Chapel, I thought I would take a moment to share what our wonderful maintenance staff and Kim Zeeman have been doing to maintain the environment in the chapel:
Seating has been changed to reflect guidelines for proper personal space (6 feet distant).
Sanitation of the space (chairs, door handles, restroom, etc.) occurs frequently throughout the day from our staff and Kim.
During the day, the door has been remaining open so as to allow the air to circulate and refresh.
No one is “required” to attend; all we ask is that if you decide that your health risk is such that you feel you don’t want to be put at any greater risk, please attempt to find a replacement (even if temporary) and let us know about your decision.
We continue to monitor the situation with regard to keeping the chapel open. Please make sure you log in/out and include contact information so that if we need to contact you, we have the needed resources should it be necessary in the event of an infection.
At present, we do have one hour available for an adorer: Tuesday 2.00a to 3.00a. This is a temporary spot, so if you can help out, it would be appreciated. See the bulletin for contact information.
Again, and with the knowledge that the situation can change (and does!), at this time we have decided not to close the adoration chapel.

I have included a link below to a website that has some good reading and information during this trying time…and I enjoy the title: The Quarantined Catholic. It fits so well in this particular moment in history.

I thought I would close tonight with some thoughts from my “mentor” priest; I can only hope and pray to be half the priest that he is. In discussing the present situation, we recall that the great saints and masters of the spiritual life teach us obedience to those who have legitimate authority over us is a way that is pleasing to God. We obey not because we are slaves, but because we are sons and daughters of God. We obey because we want to obey, because we choose to obey, and that sacrifice is like fragrant incense in the presence of the Lord. So while we may not fully understand or agree with what our civil authorities are doing, or what the Catholic Bishops of the U.S. have done with regard to the temporary cessation of participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, what we can do is recall what our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed for us – and tie our suffering to His. In His last moments, He gave us His mother. In the very last moment, He gave of himself.

May God keep us holy, healthy, and happy.

Fr Bryan

Dr Scott Hahn: The Quarantined Catholic website:
https://stpaulcenter.com/hub?utm_source=hub_launch_hahn&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hub&utm_content=text-hub

Friday, 20 March 2020
3rd Week of Lent

Thursday, March 19
Feast of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I hope this note finds you healthy, happy, and holy.

Today I met with your staff and updated them in more detail about some of the plans that the leadership team and I have been working on and sorting out.  I must say that we are filled with excitement in preparing to launch some new initiatives to keep you, our parish family, connected not only to your parish but to each other.  And we thank you for your prayers and support.

I am sure many of you are wondering what will be possible this weekend with regard to the Holy Mass.  While nothing can replace being here in person and receiving God’s grace in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, I am happy to offer two ways in which you may participate from home with family and friends.

  1. Attached to this email is a document entitled “Family Liturgy of the Word” developed by our own Larry Fraher (thanks Larry!).  This document can be used to offer a liturgy that follows the Mass and includes prayers and responses in order to conduct a home-based liturgy focused on the Word of God.  It also includes the wording for a Spiritual Communion in place of actual distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ.  I have also attached a link to the readings for Sunday, the 4th Week of Lent known as Laetare Sunday (a day consisting of the liturgical color of rose.)  If you’re not familiar with Laetare Sunday, I will include a brief description in Saturday’s Update.  I will also attach a copy of my homily for Sunday that you may choose to use if you offer the Family Liturgy of the Word.

  2. We will be streaming the Holy Mass from Blessed Sacrament on Saturday (Vigil) at 4.00pm as well as on Sunday at the regular Mass times (7.00am, 8.30am, 10.30am, and 5.00pm).  Again, while not the same as “being there,” it is a way to continue to gather together and participate, from a distance, with the priest.  As we know, the Mass includes parts for the faithful to participate, so at our streaming event, you can say the beautiful words that you would say if you were present.  To assist you and others watching, we will have the faithful’s responses said by one or two staff members as a guide for you to follow.  (Unfortunately we will not be able to provide music as we do not have the necessary copyright permissions to broadcast protected music.  Also, since it takes several people to provide the streaming service, and since we are not able to exceed 10 people in attendance, there isn’t any way to invite others to join us.  Thank you for your understanding in this matter.)  Instructions on how to join the broadcast will be included in tomorrow’s Update.

  3. There are some of our parishioners for whom we do not have an email address and as such don’t receive these updates.  If you know of someone who either hasn’t given us their email or who doesn’t use email, please feel free to print these updates and hand them out.  Thanks for your help on this.

In a section below, I have included a prayer to St Joseph.  I know that by the time this is sent most of the day (the Solemnity of St Joseph) will have passed, but the prayer is good any day!

Please remember in your prayers workers whose jobs have been affected by the restrictions in place with regard to commerce.  Many are affected, most notably those with lower skilled jobs in entry level positions as well as in the hospitality industries (restaurants, hotels, etc.).  Over the next few weeks, it will become more and more evident who has had their livelihoods curtailed and requests for assistance will grow as time goes on.  Prayers are a huge part of help for them as are monetary and food gifts.  Your parish, St Vincent de Paul, and the Diocese are ready to help, but can always use your generous gifts.  More information will be included on specific needs and ways to help on our parish website as we become aware of the needs of the Lord’s children.  We are blessed to be part of such a generous parish, and I personally thank God for that.

I would like to thank all who wrote back in response to yesterday’s post.  Your kind words regarding the staff, Fr Jingwa, and myself are greatly appreciated as are the efforts and prayers of all of our wonderful parishioners at Blessed Sacrament.  As noted yesterday, the priests of the parish keep all of you in prayer when we offer the Holy Mass.

I will close with a note regarding the Rosary:  Pope Francis has asked us to pray the Rosary daily at 9.00pm Rome time (1.00pm our time) to end the suffering surrounding the coronavirus (especially for those afflicted with it, but also for us who cannot attend the Holy Mass).  So, if you have the time and ability, please join the worldwide effort to end this problem.

May God continue to bless you and your family with holiness, health, and happiness.

Blessings and peace,

Fr Bryan

 

Wednesday, March 18

Kia Ora whanau (“Hello family” in the Maori language)

I apologize that I haven’t written to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for a few days since the announcement from the Diocese of Phoenix regarding the cancellation of our liturgical celebrations and activities on our campus at Blessed Sacrament.  Like you, the announcement was an incredible shock – I certainly didn’t expect it and am still trying to make sense of it all.  Rest assured, however, that I have never forgotten you; in fact, on Monday just hours before the communique from the Diocese, I met with the staff to reinforce our need to unite together and serve you, our faithful, with the love of Christ in our hearts and a desire to bring Him to everyone we meet.  The staff was “charged up” with this, and was shocked only hours later by the announcement.  But we are evermore focused now on serving you during this unique moment in Salvation History.
With that said, I want to take a few minutes to let you know that since the announcement, your parish staff, Fr Jingwa, and I have been examining our options given the edicts from the federal, state, and city governments as well as from our Diocese.  One of the things that we examined closely was the possibility of distributing Holy Communion outside of the Mass to you, our beloved parishioners and friends, but in the end the risks to you and our parish proved too much to overcome (legally as well as health-wise) and maintain compliance with civil authorities as well as Bishop Olmsted’s directives.  I will continue to evaluate the situation, but don’t want to give any false hope that the Eucharist will be available any time soon while we are under health restrictions.  In the meantime, I have included a link for you from Our Sunday Visitor Online to explore the idea and benefits of making a spiritual Communion while we are separated from His Body in the Eucharist, as well as a discussion on the Mass and Holy Communion and why they are different:
https://www.osvnews.com/2020/03/14/the-why-and-how-of-making-a-spiritual-communion/?utm_campaign=OSV%20NewsNow%200311620&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua
Another area that we have been exploring with considerable success has been discussion and implementation of ways and methods to keep us all connected as a parish family.  Over the next few days, we will continue to investigate the use of technology to keep everyone part of our parish through electronic means, including broadcasting the Holy Mass via live streaming.  While this does not allow for reception of Holy Communion, it is a way to feel, in some sense, present when we offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  For all of us, in different ways, not being able to be physically present at Mass is in itself a sacrifice, and one that will hopefully make reception of the Body and Blood of Christ even more special when we can all gather again in His Presence.
I am including below some information for your review with regard to some questions that have come to the parish office lately that will hopefully help you plan for the future and address some concerns you may have:

Daily Mass and Mass Offerings (for the deceased as well as for special intentions)

Fr Jingwa and I have been and will continue to offer the Mass daily, albeit in private, for you our beloved parishioners.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (chapel)

The Chapel in which the Blessed Sacrament is contained will remain open and perpetual.  Kim Zeeman, who coordinates and cares for the chapel so carefully and devoutly, along with our maintenance staff, clean the chapel with extra effort to ensure the environment is as virus-free as possible, and you can do your part when visiting by maintaining personal hygiene as previously noted.

Keeping the chapel open, however, can only happen if the adorers remain faithful to their reserved times.  Should slots not be filled, it may be necessary to suspend perpetual Adoration, a “last option” for sure!  If you are scheduled, please make every effort to fulfill your time; remember the person before you on the list is counting on you for relief.  If you cannot attend because of being part of the “risk” group (age or chronic illness), or feel ill, please find a substitute or notify the parish that you request to be removed from the list (even if temporarily).

Additionally, the chairs in the chapel have been spaced to allow proper personal space and a maximum of 10 people in the chapel are permitted during this health emergency.  Additionally, the larger space of the church will also be open (see below) to allow anyone to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.

Church Use and Office Hours

All are welcome to visit the church to pray or offer devotions (Rosary, Divine Mercy, Stations of the Cross, etc.) as desired.  However, the restrictions of 10 persons at a time must be adhered to, as well as providing sufficient personal space when in attendance.

The church will be open from 7.00am to 5.00pm daily.

The parish office is still open and at present we’re working regular hours.  You’re welcome to stop by for a visit!  We miss you!!!

Special Requests

The office and clergy have received some questions regarding offering various services.  To aid clarity on these issues, I have noted them below:

  • Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick:  This pastoral need is still being offered, but only by the clergy.

  • Communion to the Sick:  This ministry is temporarily suspended due to the risk of spreading disease to those who live in confined or group homes.  If necessary, the clergy will bring Communion to the sick as part of the Sacrament of Anointing if so requested, but the Diocese have asked that this be limited to protect the health of the clergy as well as the patient.

  • Tabernacle Access:  Due to the potential risk of spreading germs, the Tabernacle is not to be opened to access the Body of Christ by any one other than the clergy.  We understand the desire to “take Communion” home, but this is not to occur by anyone who might already have access to the Tabernacle through their ministry or by other means.

  • Private Home Mass:  Requests for a “private” or “at home” Mass cannot be accommodated at this time as per directive from the Diocese.

I know there are many more questions, and the staff and I are happy to provide you answers.  Please feel free to contact us and we can address them personally.  Remember, if you have the question, others probably do as well.  It’s not a problem to answer; if we don’t know the answer, well find out.  It’s better than listening to rumors.

At the end of this email, I have included some links to some novenas that may be of interest or help during this time.  Also, please ask your fellow parishioners if they have a current email address on file with the parish office; at this time this is our main source of communication (along with the website) , and we are looking at other ways to keep everyone connected and informed, but an accurate email list is a huge help in our effort to provide accurate and up-to-date information to all parishioners.  

On a final note for this email, please remember that members of our community and the staff and their families have never been as much in your hands as they are now.  Therefore, I ask you to reaffirm your faith and to share of yourself as our Catholic tradition has done for 2000+ years, and has weathered other great times of trial – and has done so as one family in Christ.  Please remember that your sharing of resources is prioritized first with your family – wellness, faith, and materially, followed by your parish family and charitable donations.  More will be forthcoming on ways in which you can remain active in your parish tithing as well as help for charities, especially our well-respected St Vincent de Paul chapter.  Both are needed.

As I noted above, these are unprecedented times, and we are all figuring this out together.  Will we do it perfectly?  Probably not.  Will we do it compassionately?  Of course, and we certainly appreciate your prayers, understanding, and patience as we go through this together.  As things develop or change – and they do hourly! – I make this promise to you, my brothers and sisters, to keep you in my prayers, personal as well as at the Mass, and to keep you updated on our efforts.

May God continue to bless us all, and may Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Diocese of Phoenix, pray for us.

Fr Bryan

Here is the link to many novenas that you may find as a help and in which you may choose to engage.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Friday evening, March 13, Bishop Olmsted adjusted the Diocesan policies regarding our liturgies in order to better participate in the prevention and spreading of the coronavirus and flu amongst our faithful and visitors to our parishes. As of the writing of this note, to the best of our knowledge, no one has contracted the coronavirus and while the note sent out earlier to our parishioners and staff remains in effect, the following enhanced policies and procedures will be placed into practice beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020 and will continue until further notice.
1. As previously communicated, those who are sick or showing symptoms of illness, or considered “high risk” due to age or chronic health conditions are to remain at home. Special dispensation is granted in these cases. The Sunday Holy Mass is available on Channel 7 at 9:00am (English), and ESNE TV 41.3 (Spanish), on EWTN (cable or satellite TV) as well as on the web (YouTube and at EWTN.com).
2. Practicing good hygiene is the best method of prevention – frequent washing of hands is highly recommended.
3. The distribution of Holy Communion will be under the species of bread alone.
4. All Ordinary and Extraordinary Ministers will continue to sanitize their hands prior to and following the distribution of Holy Communion.
5. The deacons and/or Extraordinary Ministers will only distribute the Body of Christ in the hand of the communicant. For those who receive the Body of Christ on the tongue, please use the line for the presiding priest who will distribute Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue.
6. At the Sign of Peace, the handshake is eliminated.
7. Handholding during the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father) is to be discontinued.
8. Holy Water will be removed from the fonts at the entrances to the church. The container of Holy Water at the entrances to the church will remain and contain Holy Water for personal use.
9. Greeters and clergy will not shake hands but offer another appropriate gesture of greeting if at the entrance/exit of the church.
While the Arizona Department of Health Services states that the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low in Arizona, implementing these precautions will help to slow and eliminate the spread of the virus. You may wish to include in your prayers petitions to St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Barbara, St. Rocco, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, all of whom have connections to health issues and/or help for sick.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work through these difficult times. We know that the Lord is with us in our journey.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Diocese of Phoenix, pray for us.
Fr. Bryan

Letter #1 from Father Bryan Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Over the last few days, the events and reports surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) have become more sensational and disruptive to many aspects of our daily lives.  To the extent possible, I am writing to share with you my assessment of the situation and how it affects our community.
As of this writing, we (the staff and I) are unaware of any case of coronavirus amongst our parishioners, family members, or staff.  Should this situation change, we will undertake the necessary reassessment of our liturgical offerings as well as functions on campus.  We continue to follow the advice of national and local public health agencies as well as the Diocese of Phoenix protocol and will promptly take action should it become necessary.  We are well aware the community that we serve may be more vulnerable to certain health problems, which is why we are monitoring and adapting to the evolving situation regarding the coronavirus.  
Here are some of the steps that we have taken:
  1. We are encouraging everyone to practice good hygiene and self-care as the first order of defense: washing hands, covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing (regardless of whether or not a person is ill), drinking plenty of water, and eating healthy.  Avoid using public drinking fountains and unnecessary contact with handrails or other aids unless sanitized.  If such aids are used, avoid making contact with the face/mouth until the hands can be thoroughly cleaned. 
  2. If symptoms of the flu or the virus are apparent, self-isolate (stay home) and contact your primary care doctor. (For a list of symptoms, refer to the Center for Disease Control:  cdc.gov)  If you are unable to attend the Sunday Mass because you are sick or have symptoms, you have dispensation to stay home.
  3. At the Holy Mass, a “sign of peace” doesn’t have to be a handshake; a nod, a smile, or simple “peace be with you” is sufficient. Receiving the Precious Blood will remain optional (as it always has been).  Dipping a finger into the Holy Water is also optional; if you prefer, a Sign of the Cross at entry will suffice as a sign of reverence and recollection of the Sacrament of Baptism.
  4. Currently, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EM) are to contact the facility to determine if visitors are allowed; if not, Holy Communion will not be administered. Additionally, if any EM is not feeling well, s/he is not to go to the facility to administer Holy Communion and is required to contact the facility and the Parish Office.
  5. Parish clubs and groups have the option to assemble as they so desire. Contact the leader of the club or group to determine the status of the meeting or event.
  6. For our Sunday Mass schedule, we will open the chapel to allow for greater seating flexibility with regard to spacing between parishioners. For Communion, anyone sitting in the chapel area will proceed with the regular flow to the front (sanctuary) as there will not be an Extraordinary Minister assigned to the chapel.
  7. We will continue with our cleaning and sanitizing routines and implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures for high use areas and tactile surfaces.
We understand that the situation with the public’s health is constantly changing, as is information regarding the virus.  Although the flu is seasonal and annually affects many people, we are saddened by the loss of life and the disruption to lives caused by the virus as well as the fear that has grown up around it.  Pope Francis said in his morning homily on May 15, 2015, that “Fear is not a Christian attitude” but rather an attitude “of a caged animal without freedom.”  The Pontiff called on the faithful to ask for the grace of courage, so as not to become fearful.  Pope Francis went on to say, “There are fearful communities that always go on the safe side: ‘No, no, we aren’t doing this…no, no, this can’t be done.’  It seems they have written on the gateway: ‘Forbidden.’  Everything is forbidden because of fear.  And you enter into this community and the air is stale, because it is a sick community.  Fear makes a community sick.  The lack of courage makes a community sick.”
The counter to fear is joy.  Christian Joy is not simply enjoyment or cheerfulness.  Christian Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit and having a joyful heart because we know that the Lord has triumphed.  Let us pray to the Lord to raise our spirit and take away our every fear.
Fr. Bryan