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EPISODE#51
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: LENTEN MISSION CHRIST CATHEDRAL PARISH (LAST OF A 3-PART SERIES)

Fr. Christopher Smith is the Rector and Episcopal Vicar of Christ Cathedral. Last year, he shared a 3-part parish mission at one of our parishes in the Diocese of Orange.

This podcast is the third of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this with someone. They’ll be glad you did!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on radio in April of 2020

EPISODE#50
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: LENTEN MISSION CHRIST CATHEDRAL PARISH (SECOND OF A 3-PART SERIES)

Fr. Christopher Smith is the Rector and Episcopal Vicar of Christ Cathedral; and, he hosts the weekly Cathedral Square radio show. If you have ever been fortunate to hear one of his homilies at mass, you know that he is truly a gifted speaker. Last year, he shared a 3-part parish mission at one of our beautiful parishes in the Diocese of Orange.

This podcast is the second of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this with someone. You will both benefit tremendously!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on radio in April of 2020

EPISODE#49
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: LENTEN MISSION CHRIST CATHEDRAL PARISH (FIRST OF A 3-PART SERIES)

Here is a wonderful opportunity to listen to a parish mission without leaving the safety of your home!

Last year, Fr. Christopher Smith was honored to share a 3-part parish mission at one of our beautiful parishes in the Diocese of Orange.

This podcast is the first of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this with someone. You will both benefit tremendously!

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on radio in April of 2020

EPISODE#30
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: PARISH MISSION AT ST. JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PLACENTIA, CA – PART 3

Over this past Lenten season, Fr. Christopher Smith was honored to share a 3-part parish mission at St. Joseph’s Parish in Placentia, CA

This program is the third of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this podcast!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 5/2/20

EPISODE#29
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: PARISH MISSION AT ST. JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PLACENTIA, CA – PART 2

Earlier in the Lenten season, Fr. Christopher Smith was honored to share a 3-part parish mission at St. Joseph’s Parish in Placentia, CA

This podcast is the second of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this with someone. You will both benefit tremendously!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 4/18/20

EPISODE#28
CATHEDRAL SQUARE: PARISH MISSION AT ST. JOSEPH’S CATHOLIC CHURCH IN PLACENTIA, CA – PART 1

Here is a wonderful opportunity to listen to a parish mission without leaving the safety of your home, your car or work space!

Earlier in this Lenten season, Fr. Christopher Smith was honored to share a 3-part parish mission at St. Joseph’s Parish in Placentia, CA

This podcast is the first of a 3-part series.

Be sure to share this with someone. You will both benefit tremendously!

 

 

 

 

Originally broadcast on 4/4/20

A MESSAGE OF HOPE

 

DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST,  

We are in our journey of Lent, the season of sorrow, the season of remembrance of Jesus’ passion. In the past, we spent this time spiritually preparing ourselves and looking forward to the rituals of Palm Sunday, the  Holy Week, and then Resurrection Sunday. We sobbed, joyful to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. Our communities, our choirs, and even catechumens and candidates looked forward to the Resurrection with excitement. 

This Lent, however, we find ourselves experiencing an indescribable fear and sadness. Every day we hear news about the pandemic and its effects around the world, and today it is here, across America, in our state, in our city, and even in our neighborhoods. Everywhere we go we hear  the  news  on TV and on YouTube of the coronavirus from Wuhan  that makes our lives seem more fragile. We are facing a challenge that we have never experienced, and we are shocked and annoyed that our usual routines have been interrupted. We feel the collapse of the material world that we have invested in.  

We are, however, fortunate to be among those who believe in God and His abundant love.  We are strengthened when we read the Scriptures, especially John 16:33 which says, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” And in the Book of Joshua, “I command you: be strong and steadfast!  Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.”  

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,  we must take courage and be strong, because we know God is walking with us on the way to Golgotha. We should make an effort  during this time with our families to share with one another our moments of grief and happiness, our anxieties, and our hardships, and we should take this opportunity to renew our loving relationships. We should stay connected with our friends, family members, and those with whom we have lost touch because of our busy lives. And we should set aside some time for family prayers during these  precious moments. 

Finally, come to the Lord in online  Masses to find peace, to pray, and to experience God’s love. Please join me in our prayers for the world, for the United States of America, and for Vietnam.   In particular, let  us pray for the patients who are fighting this deadly disease, and especially for the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers  who directly confront the dangers of this disease both day and night.   Please ask God to give them the health and patience to overcome this challenge. 

May the Lord bless us all and grant us peace in our hearts and bodies. May our Lady of La Vang  protect us from the tragedy of the current pandemic. 

 

In Christ and in our Lady of La Vang. 

DONATING OUR TIME, TREASURE, AND TALENT TO OTHERS IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF LENT

During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on “almsgiving,” which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God.” – U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 

 

As one of the three pillars of Lent, almsgiving – like prayer and fasting – should be part of our lives as Catholics and not merely an annual sacrifice.  

In his 2012 essay, “Introduction to Lent: Almsgiving,” author Mike Aquilina reminds us that Jesus declared almsgiving a necessary part of Christian life: “When you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men,” notes Matthew 6:2-3. “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” 

Like fasting and prayer, almsgiving is a non-negotiable part of Lent. Planning ahead makes donating money part of our annual Lenten sacrifice. Christians traditionally use the Old Testament practice of tithing or giving one-tenth of their income to God – whether that means donating to our church, diocese, or to other Catholic organizations, such as St. Vincent de Paul.  

Many parishes offer additional opportunities for giving during Lent, through outright donations or opportunities to join together for simple meals or providing service to others. 

Indeed almsgiving, notes the website Aleteia.org, can take many forms. The site offers suggestions to embark on your Lenten mission of giving.  

Setting up a piggy bank reminds us that Lent is a season of sacrifice and service; giving up a weekly lunch out or a trip to Starbucks can add up. Seeking out a service project individually or with a group of friends can benefit local charities, such as homeless outreach or Habitat for Humanity. 

Charity begins at home, where we teach our children to give time, attention, and resources to others. But charity must not stop there, Aquilina writes, “because for Catholics ‘home’ is universal and our family is as big as the world.” Thus, we must dig deep and give generously, recognizing the dire needs of the individuals and families in our community. 

“It is a scandal, after all, for Christians to have closets overstuffed with clothing when there are families who are shivering because they can’t pay their heating bill,” he notes. “It is a scandal for Christians to be epidemically overweight when they have near neighbors who go to bed hungry.” 

We Americans enjoy creature comforts like central heat and air conditioning, electricity, medical care and more – but we often take these commodities for granted. Almsgiving may mean occasionally sacrificing one of these everyday luxuries to experience what our less-fortunate neighbors endure every day. 

We must give with the image of Jesus in our minds, Aquilina reminds us. As He gives Himself entirely to us in the Eucharist – body, soul, and divinity – we must give, too, everything that we have. 

“Whenever possible,” he writes, “our charity should also involve personal acts, not just automatic withdrawals from our bank account. Pope John Paul asked us to see, and be seen by, ‘the human face of poverty.’” 

LENT: ANOTHER STEP TOWARD ‘ENOUGH’

“What is enough for you?” was a question posed to my husband and me by our financial adviser. 

Many factors competed for consideration: the desire to not be a burden on our kids, people living longer, enormous costs of health care, diminishing social safety nets, ability to travel and a certain standard of living. 

The list goes on and, with our graduate statistics background, we can engage in some rigorous discussion of probabilities and risk minimization. Without getting too heavy into the exercise, it just seems that “more” is better. 

“What is enough?” is the question that permeates all arenas of decision-making and raises its head implicitly or explicitly as we on a personal level determine how much to give to charity, or on a societal level address whether immigrants are draining our resources, whether we can afford food assistance for low income populations, how fast we are willing to raise the minimum wage to $15, how much safety Boeing is willing trade away to grow profits beyond the 2018 level of $10.5 billion, or what we are willing to pay for a low carbon environment. 

For David and me, getting to “enough” poses a tug between the Gospel call to other-centeredness and radical generosity, and the pragmatic drive for control and the reserve that insures against life’s vicissitudes. 

We are conditioned by the virtue of being responsible and unnerved by the uncertainties of the future and disregard for the common good in our policies and society. 

At the same time, we recognize that sin often emanates from a good thing, an appropriate desire that loses balance and assumes disproportionate dominance. 

We know we should relinquish such idols, mind the teachings that worry has not added a day to any one’s life, that building bigger barns is a foolish enterprise, and that we are so much more than the lilies and birds crowned with God’s glory. 

But … 

We all know the “Yes, but …” We all have scary tales that make us shudder and lead us to prioritize security above all else. Within those parameters, we ration how much we can give back to God. This accommodation yields implicitly to the power of fear and the harshness of an impersonal economy over the power of God. 

Our actions indicate that we put our trust in our own planning, effort, self-sufficiency rather than in God. We proclaim our faith in songs and prayers, but where it counts, we cannot let go of the tethers that give us the illusions of safety and certitude. 

We should not be surprised with our half-hearted faith, as it is impossible for us to really comprehend the capaciousness of God’s love. Our failure to live up to the Gospel message may cause us to wonder how much we merit God’s generosity or how we score in God’s counting. 

We follow many others, saints included, with the same struggles to fully surrender to the mystery of God starting with the father who begged Jesus for a cure for his son, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24). 

We may be timid and unsure but we do know that our limitation is no match for God’s grace, mercy and presence; that God wills us to recognize divine goodness at work in us and others. In the end, it is not just what we can do, but what God can do to help us claim our birthright as his children. 

For this Lent, perhaps you can join me to turn over to God our “Yes, but …”

ASHES TO ASHES

“Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” – Joel 2:12-13 

 

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent as Catholics have ashes placed on our foreheads for two reasons: as an act of remembrance and a sign to others of our faithfulness. 

Creighton University’s Praying Lent website calls the placing of ashes “one of the most counter-cultural acts of our faith.”  

When the ashes are placed on our foreheads, the minister says one of two things: 

“Remember, man/woman, you are dust and to dust you will return,” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” 

The ashes come from the burnt palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services, bringing us back to the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

“On this first day of Lent, we begin a journey of renewal – from death to life,” the university site notes. “This is a joyful season. We will make sacrifices, in order to try to let God reform our desiring, but this is a time for God to be generous to us.” 

The ashes remind us of our own death. They also remind us that as mortal creatures we must turn away from sin and accept God’s mercy with the promise of everlasting life. Fr. Andy Alexander, S.J., writing on the Creighton website, notes that because the ashes are easily wiped from our foreheads, our challenge is to remember why they were there and what they mean. 

“We are reminded that our call is to turn away from sin and to believe the Good News of our salvation in Jesus,” he writes. “This is a joyful reminder. It challenges us, for sure, but reminds us of why we want to turn from sin.” 

Rather than a sign that says, ‘Look how holy I am,’ Fr. Alexander notes, the ashes are a sign to the world that we are reminded of where we come from and where we are going – and that we have turned away from our lives of sin to live the lives Jesus calls us to. 

His essay underscores that in today’s world, we deny death as we attempt to stave off old age and try hard to look young.  

“The reality of being mortal is not to surrender hope or vitality,” he writes. “Quite the opposite. To realize that we are limited and fragile, can lead to a humility that opens our hearts to being truly dependent on God, and more profoundly open to the reality of our redemption.” 

Indeed, through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are saved from the power of sin and the power of death, he notes, opening us to new hope and vitality. 

“That’s why it is so important to remember the ashes all throughout Lent,” Fr. Alexander sums up. “This remembering opens us to the graces of Lent for us. I am a creature in need of God for life itself – the gift that gave me life, the gift that sustains me each day, and the gift of eternal life. The worse than can happen to me is that I will fall into the hands of a loving God.”