My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Risen Christ be with you!
his evening at the at the Life Teen Mass we will honor the 2018 graduates. It is a time for the graduates and their families to give thanks to the Lord Jesus for helping them reach this milestone in their lives and to ask that on this Pentecost Sunday He will send the Holy Spirit to guide the graduates as they take the next step in life whether it be entering college or the workforce. I would hope the graduates choose to continue their education since a good education builds a solid foundation upon which they can build their future.
Many challenges await them as they step through the threshold of adulthood. They will find that paying attention in the classroom and learning how to stay connected to the Lord Jesus have given them a solid foundation upon which they can build. These graduating seniors are accepting the responsibilities of being out in the world, but hopefully not of the world. I pray, as any parent would, that they draw upon what they have learned as each new challenge jumps out in front of them – and there will be many.
As their pastor, I have grown to love them. I have held their hand as they learned to walk with the Lord Himself on their journey of faith. It was my privilege to baptize many of them. Yes! I have been around here that long! As with all of us, they have traveled to the top of the mountain only at times to have life knock them down to the valley to start the journey once again back to the top. But with each fall they have been strengthened. They have always found the Lord’s hand reaching out to them to pick them up. In fact, His hand will be there for them until the day they die. But that is true for all of us.
I am thankful for the ministry of our parish youth minister, Gilbert Juarez, and the Core that works with him. For four years they have guided the graduating seniors as they discovered how much God really loves them. Hopefully they have succeeded in instilling in their hearts a love of Jesus present in the Eucharist. Youth ministry is a tough job and I am so grateful for all that Gilbert and the Core do. I also want to express my thanks to many parents for faithfully providing the teens with something to eat every Sunday evening.
Graduation is both a good-bye and a hello. As they publicly and ceremoniously end their secondary education as they walk across that stage in the American Bank Building to receive their high school diploma, they will be saying hello to the next stage of life. It is exciting to walk into the unknown to discover what God has called them to be and do in life. My prayer for each of the graduates is that they truly discover what it is that God has called them to do from their mother’s womb. Answering His call gives true joy and peace.
On this Feast of Pentecost, let us also pray that the graduating seniors will remember to always turn to the Holy Spirit as they seek guidance. May the Holy Spirit give them the wisdom that they need to make right decisions all through their lives and to guide them as they seek to do God’s will.
I join the community of SS. Cyril and Methodius in congratulating our 2018 graduating seniors and in asking the Risen Lord to bless and keep them close to His Most Sacred Heart. Let us also pray through the intercession of Saints Cyril and Methodius, that the Lord will keep all of them safe as they begin to live the next stage of their journey.
With the seniors graduating, I am reminded that the 2017-18 school year is coming to an end. When I was ordained most churches were not air conditioned. It was the custom to shorten the sermon and have very little singing so that the Mass would not last more than 45 minutes. It was simply too hot; but yet, the people came to Mass almost every Sunday and were dressed in their Sunday best. Today, all the churches are air conditioned so as to make the people comfortable, and still over half of the people stay away. I simply do not comprehend why so many think that once school is out and the summer vacations begin, one does not need the Lord.
Our Catholic faith tells us that participating in Sunday Mass is the most important thing that we do each week. It is during the Eucharistic liturgy, the Mass, that the Lord God speaks to us in the Word (the scripture readings and the homily), and feeds us with the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, so that we can have the strength to live what He tells us in the Word. Without the Word of God, you and I are blind and will surely loose our way. If we do not let the light of Christ that comes to us in his Word shine in our lives, how will we be able to see the way that He wants us to go? I don’t know about you, but when the lights are out and I have to walk in complete darkness, I stumble and fall. I need the light to see where I am going!
If we stay away from church on Sunday, or even if we come to church but distract ourselves and do not listen to the Word, how will we hear what the Lord wants to say to us? How will we know the direction that He wants us to take with our lives? When we miss Mass, we are the ones who lose.
In John’s Gospel, chapter six, Jesus tells us very bluntly that if we “do not eat His Body and Drink His Blood, we will not have life in us.” It is during the Mass that Jesus, through the person of the ordained priest, takes bread and wine and changes its substance into His Own Body and Blood. Jesus truly becomes present in the Eucharist! It is the Eucharist that gives us the energy to live our life in a way that will gain eternal life. We need the Eucharist!
When we receive the Eucharist, we become the Eucharist and thus take the living presence of Jesus wherever we go. There is no way that when we come to Mass and open ourselves to the Lord, listen to Him in His Word, and feed our bodies and spirit with His Body and Blood that we ourselves do not change for the better. Just as Jesus changes bread and wine into His Own Body and Blood, so the Eucharist changes us to become more like Christ in this life. We should never leave the church after Sunday Mass the same person we were when we entered the church.
So this brings me back to the question – why do people take a vacation from Sunday Mass during the summer months? If you know someone who is guilty of this, reach out to them. Tell them that we will leave the light on for them.
Today as we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and gave birth to the Church, let us open ourselves to the living presence of the Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help guide us thru life. We can either ask Him to give us the wisdom we need or choose to go it on our own, which is like walking in darkness. We will surely fall!
Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you on your road towards Heaven and imbue you with a true love and devotion to Jesus ever present in the Eucharist. Pray for our graduating seniors. Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful!
Please pray for me! I love you.