Gathering the sheep
AUGUST 18, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
In my message last July 7, I strongly encouraged you to ac-tively involve yourself in a parish ministry. I also promised to give you a list of parish ministries from which you can choose the ministry that is best suited for you. Below is the list. Please take time to read it. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you choose the right ministry for you. Once you have made your choice, please let me know or any of the office staff.
1. Prayer Ministry—Prayer is a very important part of the life a Christian. In prayer we develop a deeper relationship with God, gain strength to get through the ups and downs of our day to day lives, and support our brothers and sister in our faith community. Our prayer ministry has three sub-ministries:
A—Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament—This ministry requires spending time with Jesus in silent prayer and adoration in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Time commitment is one hour per day or per week.
B—Prayer Circle—This ministry involves praying for the needs of the parish-ioners and of the whole parish community. Parishioners may request prayers and those prayers are then sent to members of the Prayer Circle, via email or telephone, who will pray for that intention. Time commitment varies depending on the number of prayer requests and the time one wishes to spend in prayer. This a wonderful ministry oppor-tunity for all parishioners no matter what age and for anyone who requires something with less physical activity.
C. Tetcha Ministry—This ministry offers comfort and help to the bereaved families by leading the praying of the funerary rosary for the deceased members of our community. Time commitment varies, depending on the schedule of the funerary ro-saries.
2. Church Maintenance Ministry—This ministry is responsible for the mainte-nance and upkeep of the church building and other parish facilities including the recto-ry. Those who know carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, painting, etc. are perfect for this ministry. The time commitment varies depending on current needs and projects.
3. Garden Ministry—This ministry is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the church grounds and gardens. Adults, families or teens may volunteer for this important ministry. People who enjoy gardening, planting, pruning and getting their hands dirty would be well suited for this ministry. The time commitment is an hour or two twice a month.
4. Hospitality Ministry—Our Hospitality Ministry creates a welcoming environ-ment at Mass and handles certain tasks that must be completed. Hospitality Minis-ters help to make Mass a more reverent and prayerful experience. This ministry is open to parishioners in junior high through adulthood. Families are encouraged to serve together. These volunteers greet people before Mass, help them find seating, supervise the offertory collection, facilitate the smooth and orderly flow of Holy Communion, and distributed the Umatuna, the parish bulletin, etc.
5. Art and Environment Ministry—The Art and Environment Ministry is responsi-ble for creating a prayerful and inspirational environment inside the church with floral arrangements and other appropriate ornamentations during the different litur-gical seasons of the Church. This ministry helps to foster and create a physical en-vironment of beauty and reverence that enhances liturgical worship. Time commit-ment is seasonal.
My prayers and God’s blessing,
AUGUST 11, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
We come to Jesus out of our neediness. We are no dif-ferent from those people in the gospels. They came to Jesus because He was a brilliant teacher and they love listening to Him. They came to Jesus because His words provoke them and His teachings challenge them. They came to Jesus for healing and strength. Some came to Jesus for the free food or out of simple curiosi-ty. Others come out of selfish interests. Even His ene-mies came to Jesus to find fault which they can accuse Him of in order to get rid of Him.
Jesus did not turn away any of these people who came to Him with their needs, even those with selfish needs. Instead, He used these opportunities to draw them closer to Him. Jesus invited them to establish a more personal and inti-mate relationship with Him. Jesus made sure those people who encountered Him would end up spiritually satiated.
Assured that the Lord will never reject us, we come before Him with all our needs, but this time let us allow Jesus to draw us much closer to Him, to heal us, to transform us, and to make us His grateful disciples willing to give back to God by serving Him and our neighbors.
We have been coming to Jesus with our needs. We have encountered Him many times through our prayers and the celebration of the Sacraments especial-ly the Eucharist. Have we grown closer to Jesus? Are we now more in love with Him? Are we now better Christians?
This Sunday‟s Gospel teaches us that our life‟s priorities determine the status of our relationship with Jesus. The things we value most, the things we consider important in life, the things we relentlessly pursue—these things reveal the kind of person we are and the quality of our Christian life.
We are in constant search for that “thing” that will satisfy our longing, fill our emptiness and brings us lasting happiness. This modern society leads us to the wrong belief that wealth and materials possessions is the answer to that craving and loneliness. But St. Augustine wrote, “God made our hearts in such a way that it will always be restless until it rests in God.” This is what we should search for, this “inexhaustible treasure in heaven” that Jesus mentioned in the Gospel this Sunday. This is “the treasure that no thief can take from us nor moth can destroy.”
Who can possess this treasure? The Gospel tells us it is to the “prudent stew-ard” that the Father is pleased to give it. A prudent steward is one who is al-ways vigilant for his Master‟s return, and while waiting, does his duties respon-sibly by serving his fellow servants.
We are all called to be this kind of stewards. Let us always remember, it is what we do, not what we have, that makes us true disciples of God. Let us ask God to make us true servants—disciples of Jesus. God bless you.
Prayers and Blessings,
AUGUST 4, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
The Bible has sufficient warnings about giving in to greed and longing for riches. In fact, our Lord Jesus talked about the sin of greed more than any other sin.
In this Sunday‟s Gospel, Jesus says, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one‟s life does not consists of posses-sions.” (Luke 12:15)
Jesus warns us about the danger of greed because He knows that it will destroy us; Jesus knows it will hurt us and make our lives miserable. Jesus knows greed will make us self-ish, envious, and indifferent to other people‟s needs. Jesus knows greed will make us sinful people.
What is greed? Greed is the disordered or inordinate desire to have more of something, especially money and power. Greed is the mistaken notion that the more we have of something, the happier and more fulfilled we will become.
Money and material goods are not evil, per se. They are considered neutral or amoral, neither good or evil. The Bible says it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) It is greed that causes us to sin.
Can money make us happier? Yes, if we live in abject poverty—and we need to buy basic needs such as clothing, food and shelter—having money can make us happier. However, once we have enough money to provide for the basic needs, any increase in money does not necessarily mean increase in happiness. In oth-er words, once a person has the basic necessities, more money does not neces-sarily lead to more happiness.
The temptation to be greedy is so strong and persistent yet at the same time so subtle that people fall into it without even realizing it. Every time we say, “If only I can have more of this, then I will be happy,” we are already falling into the temptation of greed. Every time we compare ourselves to those who are a little richer than us and we say, “If only I can have one more care or a much bigger house,” we are already being greedy. Every time we say, “I do not have enough money to give to the poor or to donate to the Church,” we are already being greedy. Every time we refuse to get rid of the things we have but do not really need, we are already greedy.
How then do we fight and overcome greed? One way is by being a good Chris-tian steward. First, we acknowledge God as the source of everything we have, and the provider of everything we need. Second, we take care of the gifts— time, talents and treasure—that God has given and use them for the welfare of others and the Church. Finally, we give and we share.
There is more to life than just having more possessions. It is in giving that we find happiness and fulfillment. Let us pray to God to give us the strength and the courage to say no to our greed and selfishness. God bless you.
Prayers and Blessings,
JULY 28, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
The first prayer I learned when I was a child was the Lord‟s Prayer. I learned to pray it first in my local tongue—the Bikol language. When I entered the seminary in high school, I learned more prayers, rote and devotional prayers, including novenas and rosaries. It was in college seminary that I was introduced to other forms of prayer like meditation, reflection and scriptural prayers. It was at this time that I have realized that praying was not easy. It takes discipline and patience to pray regularly, especially when you feel that your prayers are not being answered. The temptation to give up and stop praying is always there. Our Lord Jesus is cognizant of this. That is why after teaching his disciples to pray, he immediately told them a parable to show the importance of persistence when praying. In the story, the friend who was at first unwilling to get out of bed and give his friend a bread, eventually did so because of his friend‟s persistence. Lest we get it wrong, the story does not tell us that if we really want something from God, all we have to do is keep on asking and eventually God will give in. No, that is not the lesson that Jesus wants us to learn when He tells us to be persistent in our prayers. In the story the friend who is selfish does not represent God. In fact, he is the contrast of God. The point of the story is this: if a selfish person will eventually give us what we ask for if we are persistent in our asking, how much more our heavenly Father who is so good and generous? Now the question is: if God was so good and generous, and if He already knew what we need even before we ask Him, why do we still have to pray and ask repeatedly? Why can‟t He not just give us all that we need even without our asking? God knows what we need and He will give us what is best for us. The reason why Jesus wants us to pray, and to pray constantly, is that he wants us to have an intimate and personal relationship with his Father. He wants us to call God our Abba, our Father. And the only way we can achieve this kind of relationship with God is through persistent and personal prayer. Persistent and personal prayer leads to a more loving and trusting relationship with God. And once we have developed that kind of relationship, we will surely keep on praying whether our prayers are answered or not. It no longer matters whether we get or not what we are praying for. What matters now is we are with God, loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. But another question has to be asked: God said, “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” why is it that until now God is not answering my prayer despite my constant and persistent asking? There are several reasons why God does not always give us what we ask for. Firstly, we ask with the wrong motive. St. James in his letter (4:3) said, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Secondly, it is not yet the right time. Even if what we are praying for is best for us or for others but the time is not yet proper for it, God will delay his response. Lastly, God does not give us what we pray for because He has something better in store for us. Whatever the case may be, do not give up; pray and pray unceasingly, persistently, and trustfully. God bless you.
With my prayers and blessings,
JULY 21, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
I was in Tampa, Florida last week to attend the 25th priestly ordination anniversary of a priest-friend of mine. At first I was not planning to go because Tampa is just too far from Guam. Long flights are no longer as exciting for me as they used to be when I was younger. But Fr. Erwin, the honoree, insisted that I come, so I went. And I am glad I did. Because the occasion made me meet old friends and make new ones—priests and lay people alike. But more importantly, the occasion made me reflect again on the wonderful gift of the priesthood that God has given me 34 years ago. Though unworthy of the gift, God has chosen me nonetheless. And for that I am eternally grateful to God. This gift of the priesthood, like any other gifts I have received from God, is not really for me. Yes, it is a gift given to me but no, it’s not for me. The priesthood is a gift for the people and for the Church. I am merely God’s steward of this gift. Using the priesthood in the service of God’s people is my way of showing my gratitude to God. God has given all of us beautiful gifts. We need to take care of these gifts, make them grow, and use them for the benefit of others and for God’s glory. What are the gifts God has given you? How do you use these gifts? What particular gift— talent, time, treasure—are you giving back to God in gratitude? All of us want to be disciples=servants of Jesus. But we cannot be one unless we first acknowledge that everything we have is God’s gift to us. We are mere stewards of God’s goodness. Thus, gratitude is an essential element in Stewardship and Discipleship. Unfortunately, not too many people are aware of this. The other day I was watching on TV the ESPY award in which recognition and accolades are given to people who excel in their chosen field of sports. After receiving the trophy, every awardee gives a short “thank-you” speech thanking family, coach, teammates, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. Yes, they thank everyone except God who is the source of their great talents and achievements. Disappointed, I was about to change channel when a man in a wheelchair is called to the stage to receive a certain award. The man’s name is Rob Mendez. He is being recognized for his perseverance in achieving his dream of becoming a football coach in spite of his enormous physical limitations. You know, Rob Mendez was born without arms and legs. But despite that, he persevered and did not give up. I cannot but admire him and be inspired by him. But what surprised me most was during his speech, after thanking his family, his friends and his football team, Rob said, “But most of all I thank Jesus, my Lord and Savior.” It was so beautiful and inspiring to hear him praise and thank God. This man, who has every reason to feel bitter and blame God for his physical deformity, was instead filled with gratitude. What can we say about those who were truly gifted but are never grateful? Let us pray that we will always be grateful to God. All praise and thanksgiving to Christ our Lord now and forever. Amen. Have a blessed and happy week.
Prayers and Blessings,
July 14, 2019
My Dear Parishioners,
Have you ever asked yourself these questions: How can I get rich quickly? How can I make all people like me? How can I remain young and healthy?
At one point in your life I am sure you have asked these questions. And we have found the answers. We have learned that there is no easy way to get rich quickly or easily. Yes, there were those who became instant millionaires through inheritance or by winning the lotto or by stealing other people‟s money but otherwise we have to work diligently long and patiently hard to get rich.
We have also learned and came to accept the fact that we cannot please everyone. There will always be people who will dislike us no matter how much we try to be likable. We have now come to believe in the adage “if we try to please every one, we end up pleasing no one.”
By now we also have gained enough wisdom to know that there is no way we can stay forever young and healthy. There is no such thing as the fountain of youth or a panacea for all our ills and troubles. Thus, we have stopped asking those questions knowing it would be an exercise in futility. Instead we have learned to trust God and live life as it comes. We try not to worry or get anxious needlessly.
But there is one question I want you to ask and to seek the answer. This is the same question the scholar of the law asked our Lord in this Sunday‟s Gospel: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus‟ answer was simple: “Follow the great commandments—Love God, love your neighbor.” In the Christian parlance, love is synonymous with service. As Christians, we cannot profess love without serving. Love is not love unless it is expressed in service to God and others.
This is a mark of Discipleship—Love and Service. To be a disciple is to willingly commit oneself to God and offer everything in service without counting the cost. But before one can truly become a disciple, one needs to be first a steward. Stewardship is acknowledging that God is the source of all the gifts and blessings we have. Stewardship is taking good care of God‟s gifts of time, talent and treasure. Stewardship is using these gifts in loving service to God and others. Stewardship is giving back to God.
So again we ask, how do we get to heaven? By loving God with all our heart, mind and soul, and loving our neighbors as well. And how do we effectively do this? By becoming Christian stewards and disciples.
There is another question I would like you to ask yourself: How can I serve my Santa Barbara parish? How can I be of service to my Church? I ask you to pray that God will help you find the answer. In the meantime, I will keep you in my prayers, as I always do.
Prayers and Blessings, Fr. Dan