Category Archives: Bulletin Reflection

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HOLY MASS EXPLAINED Part 6

Part Two: Liturgy of the Word:
The second part of the Liturgy of the Word comprises of the homily, the recitation of the Creed and Prayer of the Faithful (General Intentions).

Homily:

Even though the priest celebrating the mass or the deacon assisting at the Mass takes the effort to prepare the homily, this part of the Mass, unfortunately, is the hardest part for some. I don’t blame them; in fact, it is difficult to listen to someone continuously for some time.

There may be many valid reasons, why it is difficult for some to pay attention to the homily preached during the Mass: may be due to many concerns about health, jobs, sports & games, family worries etc. For some, the homily may be too long and boring and for others, it is above the head and not able to comprehend the gist of the message.

Nevertheless, it is very important to know why one must pay attention to the homily. It is the Holy Spirit, who uses the priest or the deacon to enlighten His people with the message proclaimed through the three readings taken from the Bible. Basically, we need to keep our hearts and minds open with faith, so as to grasp and personalize what God shares with us.  Just like a large piece of bread is broken to feed individual persons, the Word of God is broken so that it could be received and digested by the People of God.

The homily is followed by the Creed. What we recite during the Holy Mass is known as the Nicaean Creed. This is longer than the Creed we use at the beginning of reciting the Rosary, which is known as the Apostles’ Creed. Apostles’ Creed is the one, said to have been composed by the Apostles; whereas the Nicaean Creed was composed in the 4th century at the Council of Nicaea. It encompasses all that we as Catholic should believe. By reciting it during the Mass we proclaim our faith.

The Liturgy of the Word comes to an end with the Prayer of the Faithful (General Intentions). The intercessions enable us, as the Body of Christ, to pray for the Church, the nation & the leaders, for the people in special need, the local needs and for one another. Thus, we show our fellowship and universality in the Church.

To be continued
Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 5

Before leaving for my vacation in August, I started explaining about the Holy Mass. I stopped with Part 1, “Gathering Rites”, which concludes with the Opening Prayer. This week I resume it from Part 2.

Part 2: Liturgy of the Word
After the Gathering Rites, we sit down and listen to the Word of God. It is proclaimed to us from the Holy Scripture, which has totally 73 Books (Old Testament 46 Books and New Testament 27 Books) written by human authors but inspired by the Holy Spirit. On Sundays, there are three readings read from the Bible. We believe that God speaks to us in the inspired Books. Hence, the reader, at the end of the reading, announces “This is the Word of God”. Having heard God speaking to us, we all respond saying “Thanks be to God.”

The first reading is read from the Old Testament, except during the Easter Season, during which it is read from the “Acts of the Apostles” in the New Testament. This narrates the history of how God manifested His love, chose the people of Israel, made a covenant with them; at the same time, how the people were not faithful in responding to God’s love. Generally, the first reading is related to the Gospel passage chosen for the day.

Following the first reading one of the Psalms, which is an inspired hymnal from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, is either sung or recited. The psalm is very closely connected to the theme of the first reading.

The second reading is read usually from one of the letters of St. Paul. Sometimes it is read also from one of the letters of St. Peter or of St. John.

The third reading is taken from one of the four Gospels. Since we believe of the unique presence of Christ, who speaks to us directly in the Gospel, it has been a long custom in the Catholic Church to stand in attentive reverence to hear the Gospel.  The Gospel is always read by the priest or the deacon, representing Christ. At the beginning of the Gospel reading, having introduced from which of the Gospel the passage is read, we all make the sign of the cross on the forehead, lips and the heart. We do so, in order that we may be cleansed in our mind to understand God’s Word, lips to proclaim His Word and heart to love Him dearly. The priest or the deacon concludes the Gospel reading saying “The Gospel of the Lord” and all the people respond “Praise to you, Lord, Jesus Christ”, proclaiming our faith in the presence of Christ in the Gospel.

To be continued,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Sharing about my Vacation

Having returned to the Parish after my vacation, I would like to share some of my experiences and impressions, which I gained in India. This time I did not go beyond the territory of my State, Tamilnadu, so named after the language is spoken by the people. The Tamil language is one of the most ancient literary languages and so the State Government takes pride in having named the land as the land of the Tamils. I preferred to take my vacation at the end of July, thinking that the summer would be over and it would not be hot. But unfortunately, it was still hot in August, up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat could not deter me from traveling to different places to visit my friends and relatives. A few religious events within the family circle I had to preside over. Above all, my brother and sister-in-law, who is fighting against her cancer, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They wished that I celebrate the Holy Mass at home. Considering their ill health, I had to celebrate the Holy Mass at home, surrounded by the families of their three children. It was a great and meaningful celebration. I have still three sisters alive, two older and one younger. Their great concern was that I might not be nearer when The Lord would call them. I always told them that I have to be, where The Lord wants me to serve Him. The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery

I preferred to take my vacation at the end of July, thinking that the summer would be over and it would not be hot. But unfortunately, it was still hot in August, up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat could not deter me from traveling to different places to visit my friends and relatives. A few religious events within the family circle I had to preside over. Above all, my brother and sister-in-law, who is fighting against her cancer, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They wished that I celebrate the Holy Mass at home. Considering their ill health, I had to celebrate the Holy Mass at home, surrounded by the families of their three children. It was a great and meaningful celebration. I have still three sisters alive, two older and one younger. Their great concern was that I might not be nearer when The Lord would call them. I always told them that I have to be, where The Lord wants me to serve Him. The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery

The hardest thing I experienced this time was that the people were struggling with water scarcity. The ground water in many places have dried up, the people tried to demonstrate their need for water; but it was like blowing a horn into the deaf ears. The government authorities are very corrupt; corruption and bribery is high. It is because of this that the Church is not able to serve freely the poor people. The government officials expect a percentage of commission in every project of good works done to the people. Hope there will be a new dawn. Thank God, the heat, congestion on the road while traveling and spicy food did not upset my health. I am back in the parish hale and healthy.

Thank God, the heat, congestion on the road while traveling and spicy food did not upset my health. I am back in the parish hale and healthy.

May God be praised,

I am here now to serve you.Fr. Arul Joseph V.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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You Are Thinking Not As God Does, But As Human Beings Do

Jesus had just been proclaimed the Messiah, the Son of the living God by Peter in Matthew’s Gospel. We heard that passage last week, now Jesus explained to his disciples that He must suffer, die and then rise again. Peter, thinking in human terms tells Jesus; “God forbid, Lord! No such thing
shall ever happen to you.” Peter cannot wrap his head around Jesus’ prediction of His passion. This is  where we hear Jesus tell Peter; “Get behind me Satan!”

These sound like strong words from Jesus toward the man He had just chosen to lead His Church. We can only guess at the tone of voice Jesus used in this statement, but He likely used a corrective tone, not of anger to explain to Peter it was not his time to lead just yet. Peter had to follow Jesus until His ascension into Heaven, and then Peter would be the leader of Jesus’ new Church. Patience and understanding can be hard traits to accept and build. Peter wasn’t known for his patience; he seemed to say what was on his mind rather than reflect upon it first and he acted rashly occasionally.

It seems Peter needed to build some leadership skills so he could begin thinking as God does, rather than as human beings do. We can identify with Peter here. Each of us needs training, tutoring, and practice in order to “put on the mind of Christ.” I don’t think any of us ever totally masters this, but there are some people who come close. I’ve run across a few people who, are Christlike; people with a gentle nature, soft words of encouragement, a loving gleam in their eyes. These are people you want to seek out and spend
time with because they put you at ease and make you want to be with them and to act like them. This is what each of us are called to. We can each work on this; using the grace God sends us, the sacraments of the Church and prayer. Try working on this in the coming week. Be patient with your self as we will fail often before we improve, but keep trying!

God bless,
Deacon Ray


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“You Are Peter, and Upon This Rock I Will Build My Church”

Our Gospel reading from Mathew today (16:13-20) is a familiar one.  Peter gets it right and proclaims Jesus as; “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus knows this proclamation is due to the Father’s revealed truth coming from the mouth of Peter. Jesus then states that Peter will be the rock upon which He will build His Church. The Church became present a1er the paschal mystery of Jesus, but Jesus had instituted it and given it a leader knowing well what was to transpire.

The fledgling Church Peter and the Apostles started was much different from the Church today. Here we are, so many years later still proclaiming Jesus as Savior. Here we are caring for souls around the world. Here we are feeding and caring for countless people here and around the world. We have much to be proud of and much more work to do!

One thing that makes us different from other faiths and Christian denominations are the structure of our Church. We continue to have one main head, our Holy Father, who serves the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. Peter had a huge task at hand; to build the followers of Jesus into a Church. Anyone who has ever led others knows how difficult it can be. Every one of us has an opinion and an idea of how things should be run. Peter faced this as well as difficulties with the ruling power of the Romans.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis faces some of the same difficulties today. Each of us may voice our opinion of how things should be run in the Church. Pope Francis and all of us live in a world that seems more reluctant to the idea of religion, of One True God, and of religious influence in society and politics. But don’t give up hope. This is not the first time in our history we have faced difficulties! As Jesus states; “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” referring to His Church. We must continue to worship, to trust that God will take care of us in difficult times, believe that things can get better and pray.

Pray for Pope Francis and all our leaders. Our prayer helps empower them to do what is holy. Pray for Fr. Joseph, that he returns refreshed and ready to lead us.

God Bless,
Deacon Ray


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My House Shall be Called a House of Prayer for all Peoples

The reading from Isaiah ends with this statement; that God’s house is open to all. The prophets of the Old Testament were sent to Israel, the northern kingdom, and Judah, the southern kingdom, to bring about conversion. The people had intermingled with those who worshiped other gods and had begun to worship them as well. The God of their forefathers sent the prophets to warn them of their sin and to call them back to the Himself, the one true God. If you are familiar with biblical history, you know that both kingdoms were invaded and conquered, the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, never to be re-established, and the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC. The prophets of the Old Testament speak of other people and nations. They inform the chosen people that God is a God of all people and all nations. Since the chosen people were rejecting the true God, He would invite all nations to be His people. St. Paul, in his Letter to the

St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, speaks to the Gentiles; his primary audience that he was sent to preach the Gospel. Paul’s mission was largely to the Gentile people as his own Jewish people by and large rejected him and his ministry. He does not give up on the Jews, rather hopes that when the Jews see the change and conversion of the Gentiles they would become jealous and seek conversion to Jesus as their savior as well. This is an example of Isaiah’s invitation to all people in action. In our Gospel passage today (Mt 15:2128) Jesus seems to be rejecting a Canaanite woman who pleads for the healing of

In our Gospel passage today (Mt 15:2128) Jesus seems to be rejecting a Canaanite woman who pleads for the healing of her daughter possessed and tormented by a demon. This seems so out of the norm for Jesus, who heals so many people, even those outside of the “house of Israel.” Perhaps Jesus was testing this poor woman. Seeing just how much she would take before she would decide help was not coming? But this woman was determined and had great faith! She does not give up easily; she perseveres, knowing Jesus can bring the healing her daughter needs. This woman loved her daughter with her whole being and knew in her heart Jesus was the cure for her.

Perhaps Jesus tests each of us at times. Will you continue to ask for the healing you need, for the strength to conquer a sinful habit, the conversion of your loved ones, for peace in your own lives and for the world? Will you? Or will you become tired and discouraged, giving up your prayer? Like this Canaanite woman, I urge you to continue to seek Jesus in prayer; He will not abandon you! We are the Gentiles God has opened Himself up to; we have been invited into a loving relationship with the true God, so continue to seek Him and ask Him for what you need.
God bless,
Deacon Ray


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“O You of Little Faith”

We hear the story of Jesus walking on the water today. Peter, the impulsive man he was, asks Jesus to bid him to come to Him on the water. Peter does well until he became aware of just how strong the wind was blowing and became frightened and then he begins to sink into the water. This is where Peter must quickly decide who to call upon for help and he wisely asks Jesus to save him. We may look at this action of Peter and roll our eyes at his impulsive action. Once again, Peter makes a move without really thinking things through; what will be the consequences of my action? William Barclay, in his book, “The New Daily Study Bible,” states: “Peter’s whole trouble was that he was ruled by his heart; and,

We may look at this action of Peter and roll our eyes at his impulsive action. Once again, Peter makes a move without really thinking things through; what will be the consequences of my action?

William Barclay, in his book, “The New Daily Study Bible,” states: “Peter’s whole trouble was that he was ruled by his heart; and, however, he might sometimes fail, his heart was always in the right place and the instinct of his heart was always love.”

Yes, Peter failed, but he knew where to turn when he failed; to Jesus. If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we each fail to follow Jesus perfectly. Yet when we find ourselves in a precarious situation, separated from Him, we, like Peter, simply need to seek Jesus for help. Be it a serious sin and a trip to confession or a minor slip up, we can seek Jesus knowing He will always be there, waiting patiently, ready to accept us if we are sincerely sorrowful and determined to avoid that sin again. This is the beauty of our Church and the sacraments! This is the beauty of God’s love for us!

Barclay states; “a saint is not someone who never fails; a saint is someone who after a fall gets up and goes on again every time.” So Peter had
“little” faith as Jesus states, but at least he had faith! Faith is what has brought us to Mass; faith is what draws us closer to Jesus. Our “little” faith can grow if we place our trust in Him.

God bless,
Deacon Ray


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The Transfiguration

This familiar story of Jesus showing His glory to Peter, James, and John is truly a beautiful one. In this brief section of the Gospel Jesus gives
these three disciples a glimpse into Heaven, Jesus’ eternal dwelling place. Jesus shows these disciples that He is the fulfillment of the law
and the prophets. They are left with many questions in spite of what they have witnessed. We see the effects of what they viewed in their
lives, especially after the resurrection; they too had a transfiguration of sorts!

We all likely know of someone who has had a transfiguration in their lives. I recall a man who in his youth spoke foul language and made
disparaging remarks about women. Women seemed to avoid him because of his demeanor. At some point he must have figured out his way
of life was not attractive to others; some kind of awareness was given him, perhaps by God. He made an effort to change his ways and he became a man who gained the respect of others. He is now an older retired man, married for many years with children and grandchildren;
truly blessed! He had a transfiguration of his very self which has made him the man he is today.

All too often when we see someone act in a manner unfit for a follower of Jesus we make a judgment. These judgments are often based solely
on a single incident of poor behavior. We hear statements like; “now we see his true nature” in many of these cases. We are quick to judge
and this can taint the way we view others.

I believe the opposite can often be the truth when we witness an incident of bad judgment or poor behavior; that the person simply had a
slip up, a moment when they let their emotions or sin cloud their thinking or their speech. We should try to think that this is a good person
who made a mistake, this is not who they really are, this is not their true nature. No, this brief moment is one of the slight bumps in the
road of life, not what is at that person’s core.

We are all capable of transfiguration. Using the grace of the sacraments we can allow God to shape us into the person He desires. Perhaps this week may be a good time to reflect on the times in our lives where we have made those brief errors and think of how others may have viewed us. Then ask God to help you avoid these moments; pray that you can overcome your weakness and strive to be more like Jesus. Ask Him for help in transfiguring you to be more Christ like.

God bless,
Deacon Ray


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The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

Jesus gives three examples of what the kingdom of Heaven is like in today’s Gospel reading. I struggle with the comparisons He uses
compared with the norms in today’s world; after all we don’t hear of people finding buried treasure today. But I realized I was missing the
point of these parables. Jesus is simply telling us we must make a choice; will we value the things of this world or of Heaven? If we
choose the way of Jesus we must live with purpose and show God we value His love.  How do we put God first? As Jesus says, we must sell all we have and purchase that field with the buried treasure! Of course this is easier said than done. It’s not easy to put our lives in order, giving our whole self to God, trusting Him and surrendering our will to Him. That is what He refers to, not our physical possessions. I recall my early days of formation where the wonderful people leading and forming us told us that we would change if we were serious in our study and prayer. I was a bit fearful, wondering what this would mean for me. This is where trust is put to the test. I certainly struggled with the demands placed upon me and with the idea of surrender. This is not something that comes easily for us. And even though the days of formation are over, surrender is a daily decision. Ordination doesn’t make the wonders and allure of our earthly world disappear. However the grace of the sacrament helps us choose wisely. Each of us received the grace of Baptism to assist us with our choice.

Each of us must decide what we will do with our lives; how we will live, which kingdom will we place our trust in? One of the best things we can do with this decision is to take it to prayer. God is always listening to us when we are sincere with our pleadings and questions. We then need to listen to God when He responds.

God’s blessings upon each of us as we make our daily decision which kingdom we will follow.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 5

Part Two: Liturgy of the Word

Usually, when we gather as a family or as friends for a meal, we begin with a conversation telling our stories. Likewise, after the gathering rites during Mass, the Liturgy of the Word follows. God speaks to us in the inspired Words of the Bible and we listen to Him. Having heard him speak, we thank Him by saying “Thanks be to God”.

On Sundays, there are three readings. The first reading, except during the Easter Season, is from the Old Testament. It relates to the Gospel and so it sounds like a background and insight to understand better what Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel. After the first reading, there is a Responsorial Psalm. The second reading is, usually, from any one of the letters of St. Paul or from one of the letters by other Apostles. The third reading is from one of the four Gospels. Just before reading the Gospel, the priest bows before the altar and prays that God may grant him the grace to proclaim the Gospel.

We all remain standing while the Gospel is read because Jesus speaks to us and so we show our attentive reverence. The priest greets the people, then introduces the Gospel writer and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, lips, and heart, in order to clean his mind, lips and heart and thus enable him to proclaim the Gospel in a worthy manner. Following the priest, the people also make the sign of the cross for cleansing them and to enable them to listen with faith. The Gospel is concluded with the response of the people, saying: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”, and thus praise Him for having spoken to us.

Homily follows the readings. Its purpose is for “breaking the Word of God” and applying it to our life situation today. Unlike a talk or speech given in a meeting, the homily is an interpretation and application of God’s Word to our personal life. Hence the assembly is expected to keep the heart and mind open and personalize God’s message.

To be continued

Fr. Arul Joseph V.