Category Archives: Father’s Messages

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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.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 4

Part 1: Gathering Rites (Cont’d)

Greeting: While the entrance hymn is sung, the priest kisses the altar, which represents Christ, as a sign of surrender and adoration. Following the hymn, the Mass begins with the sign of the Cross and greeting. This greeting is significantly for wishing well, to all present, in the name of the Triune God.

Penitential Rite and Gloria: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy” was the instruction of Jesus to his disciples. We, as God’s children, gathered in his House to offer the Sacrifice of Christ and to receive the heavenly gifts, we need to be worthy of presenting ourselves. Hence, we pray for inner purification. Immediately after asking for pardon, we sing the “Gloria”, a traditional hymn of praise and glory to Jesus, our Redeemer.

Opening Prayer: At the close of the gathering ritual, the priest invites the assembly to join him in the prayer, summarizing the theme of that particular day. At the end of the prayer, people respond “Amen”, which is a Hebrew word for “so be it”. Part 2: The Liturgy of the Word will be continued.

God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 3

The Holy Mass could be described as the ritual celebration of what Jesus fulfilled only once in history: The Last Supper on Holy Thursday, His Death on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. The celebration of the Mass can be divided into four parts:

  1. Gathering rites
  2. Liturgy of the Word of God
  3. Liturgy of the Eucharist or Meal sharing
  4. Rite of Commissioning: sending out to live our experienced in the Mass.

Part 1: Gathering Rites:

The purpose of this part is to assemble or gather together, in order to bring the people of God into one body, to listen to His Word and to share the Body of Christ together.

Greeters/Ushers: When we usually gather for any celebration or when friends gather together for a meal, they are greeted at the door and welcomed into the house.  The Ushers, who are also called greeters are our volunteers, who do this great job in the vestibule, as you enter the Church.

Use of Holy Water: One of the first things, Catholics do when they enter the Church, is to dip their right hand in the Holy water and make the sign of the Cross. This ritual is a reminder of your Baptism; we were baptized with water and signed with the cross.

Genuflection: It has been a custom in the medieval time to go down on one knee or genuflect before a king or a person of high rank. This secular practice of honor has gradually entered the Catholic Church, in order to honor the presence of Jesus Christ present in the Tabernacle.  Today many people express their reverence by bowing as an accepted practice.

Entrance song: When the Mass begins, everyone stands up and sings. Standing is a sign of readiness to begin and much more a sign of welcoming with respect the priest/s, who is/are going to celebrate the Mass. Singing an entrance song helps us to unite our thoughts and voices for the celebration.

To be continued

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained Part 2

On June 4th, Pentecost Sunday, I started explaining the Holy Mass for your benefit and for the benefit of your children. Through my simple effort, I would like that you may be enlightened so as to understand the value of the Holy Mass. This week I want to explain to you about the purposes of the Mass.

 

The purposes of the Mass are similar to the purposes for which Jesus offered Himself on the Cross. They are:

  • to give glory to God
  • to thank him
  • to make up for the sins
  • to pray for favor to fulfill our intentions.

 

The first purpose is to give glory to God, our creator, on whom we depend for everything. Acknowledging Him as The Lord, God, we need to praise and glorify Him.

 

What we have, what we do and what we are everything is because of God’s immense love, mercy, and kindness: our life, family, all the spiritual gifts for our eternal life, namely, sanctifying grace, faith, the sacraments and the gift of his mother. Therefore, it is good to thank God for all the natural and supernatural gifts. The person who is too proud to say “thank you” is not only ungrateful but is bound to end up being unhappy.

 

The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ, though he was without sin, he died like a sinner because he took upon himself our sins and made reparation for them on the Cross.

 

Hence, the third purpose of the Mass is to make up for our sins and those of the deceased. When we come to Mass with real sorrow for our personal sins, we

can draw strength from the love of God.

 

The fourth purpose is to make petitions for our needs. God is the giver of all gifts. Being the most loving Father, he gives us the best. Just as Jesus has taught us to ask, so that we will receive, we make prayerful petition for our various needs.

 

God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V


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Happy Father’s Day

Being a father calls for many challenges and hardships, which every dad bears with pride and happiness. Your dad has been your first friend who has always been with you, no matter what. He is the one person who has bestowed you with unconditional love and care, without asking for anything in return. When it comes to the relationship you share with your father, there are absolutely no strings attached. He may not show, but he is always there for you, with his unwavering support and assistance. How often do you take out time to whisper a silent prayer to God for the health and happiness of this special person in your life? Most of you would prefer not to answer the above question. This Father’s Day, take it as an opportunity to seek blessings for your father, with a special prayer of gratitude as in the following lines:

 

God our Father,

In your wisdom and love, you made all things.

Bless those fathers who have taken upon themselves,

the responsibility of parenting.

Bless those who have lost a spouse to death … or divorce

who are parenting their children alone.

Strengthen them by your love that they may be and become

the loving, caring persons they are meant to be.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

May God bless all the fathers

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Holy Mass Explained – Part 1

As Catholics, we know that the Holy Mass is the center of our faith and the source of divine life. Hence, the Church teaches us to participate in the Holy Mass regularly on Sundays and on Holydays of obligation and also on weekdays, whenever possible. If we understand the value of the Mass, we would certainly participate in it actively and regularly. I feel that a simple explanation on each part of the Mass may help you to recognize the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. With this consideration, I am going to explain every part of the Mass in the forthcoming bulletins, hoping that you would read and profit by it.

Jesus offers Himself:

The Holy Mass is, first of all, a holy celebration, because it is Christ who acts in the person of a priest. Jesus Christ offers himself for us, as he offered on the Cross. Hence, we say that Mass is the same sacrifice of Jesus Christ, offered on the altar in an unbloody manner. Just like Jesus offered his body and blood on the Cross, he offers for us on the altar. The difference is that Jesus offered himself visibly on the Cross but on our altar, He offers himself invisibly and in an unbloody manner, hidden under the appearance of bread and wine.

Faith matters:

A Catholic, who says that he/she loves Christ would not fail to love the Mass. To love the Mass does not mean just being present and nothing more; it means to be present with faith and devotion and to take part actively in the Mass realizing that it is the Sacrifice of the Cross being renewed on the altar. Participation in the Mass involves basically our faith. Without faith, all that one would see on the altar is just bread and wine; just gestures, symbols and nothing more. It is only through faith, we acknowledge that at the consecration of the bread and wine, they are changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. If one would come for Mass without faith, the person would easily feel bored or get distracted. Without faith, one would fail to understand what Christ’s death on the Cross would mean for us. Hence Faith is the most required disposition when we come to participate in the Mass.

To be continued

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Finding Time to Pray

Day after day in our busy schedule, we don’t find time to pray. For those, who ask a question within, “How can I find time to pray?”, here is a witness of a young woman, Ruth Baker, who suggests 8 ways, to find time to pray. Ruth Baker, 26, loves running, wild camping and writing. She is currently studying Creative Writing at University:

Firstly, investigate if you have the balance in your life right. If it’s a that your prayer life suffers, then start by looking at whether you have the balance right. Your personal relationship with God should come first in order that you can best share His love and mercy to others.

  1. Begin simply.!!! Commit to something each morning: Reading one psalm slowly and carefully or meditating on the day’s Gospel, just start your day with a prayer. Don’t worry if you can’t spend loads of time start small and if you do it with sincerity, your prayer time will deepen.
  2. Utilize your smartphone. Your smartphone is great, though for praying when you are busy or traveling. Using apps like “Laudate” or “Prayer” you can have all the prayers at your fingertips, including the Liturgy of the Hours. In fact, any time you use a prayer app, put your phone on airplane mode so you are not interrupted with phone calls or emails coming through.
  3. Pray a decade “on the go”. The Rosary is perfect for times when we are busy! Whether you’re driving in the car, on public transport, eating your lunch, a quick decade does not take long.
  4. Give your day and work as a gift. Everything you do is an opportunity to give to God in prayer. You can just say in your heart: “Lord, I give you this moment, this task, this job, it’s all for you.”
  5. Set a time each day very briefly, pause and put yourself in God’s presence. Create an alarm on your phone or watch so you don’t forget. Whether it’s at your desk, on the way to your next appointment, parked in your car, or a moment before a session begins, shut your eyes and simply be with Him.
  6. End your day with the “Examine”. During this time, ask God to show you where He was in each moment of your day.
  7. Schedule “longer” time for personal prayer once a week. Whether it’s an hour in Adoration or some quiet time in your room, this is your chance to give all of your weeks to God and really spend some quality time with Him.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Taking Active Participation in the Mass

You or any of your family members may have been a little while since you last went to Mass. If you think, why to go for Mass regularly, just think that God wants you to grow in his life, which he imparts through the Body and Blood in the Mass. Here are some suggestions for participating in the Mass actively:

Prepare yourself in Advance

Preparation is very important before leaving for Church. Wear a good and decent dress, as you would prepare yourself to go for an important event. If you have time, read the Gospel either through the internet or from the Bible at home, it will help you.

Try your best to arrive at the Church with some time to spare

As you choose your place in the pew, take a Misallette and mark the page for the Readings and the parts of the Mass.

Take active participation

The Mass is a celebration wherein you are expected to take active participation. Hence instead of being a static watcher of the event, say all the responses and sing from your heart. The postures of standing, sitting and kneeling help you to focus on the importance of what is taking place on the altar. What is more important for active participation is to bring all the bad and the good of your life and lay them on the altar to be offered with the gifts of bread and wine.

Children are welcome too

Even if the children may be crying in the Church, don’t worry. Let the children be as they are. But you pay attention not to play with them and disturb others, who are participating in the Mass. I have seen some parents who bring their older children with a kids’ Bible story book. It is a great way to engage the children, while you are participating in the Mass.

Holy Communion As you are going to receive the Holy Communion, invite Jesus into your heart. Having received the Body and Blood of Christ, spend some time to thank him for all his gifts and new life. Remember to receive the Holy Communion in a state of grace. If you feel not in this state, you can either make a sincere Act of Contrition and receive the Communion and at the next

As you are going to receive the Holy Communion, invite Jesus into your heart. Having received the Body and Blood of Christ, spend some time to thank him for all his gifts and new life. Remember to receive the Holy Communion in a state of grace. If you feel not in this state, you can either make a sincere Act of Contrition and receive the Communion and at the next opportunity, you are obliged to make the Sacrament of Confession. If you still feel that you don’t want to receive Communion, you may remain in your pew in prayer.

Finally, Having received the Holy Communion, don’t just rush off out of the Church. Wait till the Mass is over with the final blessing. Finally, even if you feel that you cannot participate perfectly, don’t worry, God knows all our imperfections. You have come to Church to worship Your Lord and God and He certainly has blessed you. Leave the Church with peace of heart and mind.

Having received the Holy Communion, don’t just rush off out of the Church. Wait till the Mass is over with the final blessing. Finally, even if you feel that you cannot participate perfectly, don’t worry, God knows all our imperfections. You have come to Church to worship Your Lord and God and He certainly has blessed you. Leave the Church with peace of heart and mind.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V


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SAINT OF THE GUTTERS

“The saint of the Gutters” – this is how Mother Teresa, who dedicated her whole life to the service of the sick, outcast, those who suffered from any chronic decease and the dying, was called. Today the Catholic Church declared her formally a Saint, even though she was known as a Saint among the people around the world.

Born of Albanian parents, she had a burning desire to work as a missionary in India. Hence at the age of 18 she joined the Congregation known as “Loretta Sisters”, who had a community in India. Having worked 17 years as the principal of a prestigious St. Mary’s high school in Calcutta, located in the north eastern part of India, a city very thickly populated with hundreds of slums – slums are cluster of huts, in which very poor people live without any hygiene and health care – she felt God’s call to serve the poor in 1946. With due permission from the Pope, she started the Order known as “Missionaries of Charity” with no money in hand.

Totally depending on the alms given by the people, she began a home for the dying in 1952 for the people lying on the streets. The following year she started a home for abandoned babies.

Today’s Gospel speaks of total dedication of a disciple of Christ. Mother Teresa lived her life with a spirit of total dedication to the service of the poor. It did not take long time for the world to see with admiration, what she did for the poor. Hence she was honored with Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Later in 1985 she was awarded with “Medal of Freedom” the highest U.S. civilian award and in 1996 was given an honorary U.S. citizenship. She was given, totally, 124 awards by various countries. The entire sum of money she received, she used to establish new homes in the countries, which required her service. Before her death on September 5, 1997, she established 594 communities of her nuns to serve the needy in 123 countries of the world.

Some of you asked me whether I have met Mother Teresa. Unfortunately, I did not meet her during her life. Once she came to my city; but I could not meet her, because of security, which, in fact, she did not personally like to have. Nevertheless, I have visited three times her Mother House in Calcutta, visited her tomb, celebrated Mass in their chapel for the sisters. When I went to celebrate Mass in the chapel for the first time, I was shocked to see, just in front of the altar, a figure as if Mother Teresa was actually squatting on the floor. It was just a statue of the Mother, erected on the exact location, where she would make her hour of adoration and participate in the daily Mass. She was a true Missionary of Charity. May God be glorified in her.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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Missionary Task of the Disciples

Last week, the theme for reflection was, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This Sunday, the emphasis is on the task of the disciples to be missionaries of peace of the Kingdom of God. The message that the disciples are asked to carry is the message of peace, which is an urgent need of the world.

Jesus chooses seventy-two of his disciples and sends them as missionaries of peace: “The Lord appointed seventy!two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit …” (Luke 10:1). It is interpreted that the number seventy-two is a symbolic expression of the number of all the nations of the world, signifying that the disciples are sent to all the nations of the world. Thus the concept of universalism is symbolically expressed.

The world is struggling with all sorts of problems. Even though we cannot offer instant solutions to all the problems, the Good News is that Jesus wants to offer his message of peace as the only solution to the world. The magnitude of the missionary task is indicated by the words: “Abundant harvest”. It is to say that the task is extensive and that the followers of Christ need to carry out in the world.

What does the message of peace mean? It means oneness with God’s will. This should begin with individuals like you and me, then radiate it to our family, community, nation and finally to the world. If as disciples, we have not experienced the peace of Christ, it is time for us to pray for welcoming it. If we experience that peace, let us share it with others saying, as instructed by Jesus, “Peace be to this household”. May God’s peace fill our hearts, our homes, nation and the world at large.

God bless you,

Fr. Arul Joseph V.