Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 9, 2020:
When I have visited the hospital, the patients usually criticize the food being served to them as tasteless. The reason for this criticism is that the doctor has them on a salt free diet. For people who use salt to bring taste to their food, one can understand their discriminating palate and their criticism. Salt has been both a preservative through the generations as well as a seasoning that brings out the flavor of foods. Jesus understood this concept of salt and uses it as an image to challenge people that they are to make a difference in the world. And so today in our gospel, Jesus tells His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” If we, as Jesus says, are to the be salt of the earth, then how are our lives flavoring the world in which we live? In other words, do we make a difference in the life of our Church, or in the life of our community? That doesn’t mean that we are to stand on the street corner and preach the message of the gospel. What it does mean, is that we are a people who stand by our values, who refuse to compromise our faith, and who truly live by the gospel. If we do all that, then people will take notice in simple things and will respect the integrity of our lives. This is truly being “salt”. This is truly flavoring our world with the kindness, the forgiveness, the truthfulness of Jesus, and thus fulfilling our mission as the salt of the earth. Let us pray: “God our Father, Jesus challenges us to make sure our lives are in accord with His life, our words speak His truth, and our actions reveal His life. Be with us as we add the flavor of your presence in all that we say and do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 8, 2020:
What a personal joy it was this past weekend to finally be able to celebrate Mass with the people of St. Peter Church. After several months of sheltering down, isolating ourselves from each other, and celebrating Mass to a camera, this past weekend brought a smile to my face and a sense of relief in my life. We were finally back home where we could celebrate the Eucharist, that gift from God that nourishes, strengthens, and challenges us to be the person God intended us to be. For these many months in which we longed to return home to Church, our prayers were answered and we were home. Now things are not quite normal, as we still must social distance ourselves coming and going, as well as the Communion line, but at least we are able to participate in that meal that Jesus left us as a memorial of His sacrifice. And for that, I am thankful. Once again it was a reminder to me that we are Church and without each one of us, something is missing. So thank you Jesus for giving us this special gift and being your special people to celebrate this meal of such great importance to all of us. Through this meal, we are in Communion with our God, and through this sacrifice of Jesus, we give perfect worship to our God. I only hope and pray that our Catholic people realize what a great gift this Eucharist is, and that without it something is missing from our lives. So let’s rejoice today that we are back at home with the Eucharist. In our gospel for today, we have the Beatitudes given by Jesus, a summary of a new outlook, completely different from the world. The world considers only today and this world, but through the Beatitudes we must always see things in the context of eternity. For with the Beatitudes we learn one thing, it is God on whom we rely, it is humility that we embrace, and it is willing the good of others that we live. Let us pray, “Jesus you give us the Beatitudes as the proper attitudes of life. Helps us to live them daily. Amen.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 6, 2020:
If I were to choose a Scripture passage for my own funeral that hopefully would reflect my life and my priesthood, I think the one from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy that we find today in our reading would be my hope. In this reading, Paul is getting ready to depart and so he writes: “For I am already being poured out like a libation and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” I would truly hope and pray that I could utter these words as Paul did. Yes, we all have our regrets, and we all have had our failures, and we have our share of sinning. But by the grace of God, I would hope we could all utter these words as we face our departure from life. Then Paul says with such boldness, “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearance.” It would be great if you and I would realize that as our hope. If so, we would all find a sense of peace and not fear as we depart from life. I don’t bring this to your attention to cause anxiety or worry, but if we are truly fulfilling what God wants from us in life, then we have kept the faith and finished the race. From that time on, then we rejoice as we await the crown of righteousness the Lord has planned for us. Today we also celebrate the Feast of St. Norbert. The only parish in our diocese named after this saint is in Hardin, Illinois. This was Fr. Bauer’s parish before coming to St. Peter. I still associate this parish with him as I served as a deacon for the summer months with him. And so in the spirit of Fr. Bauer, let you and I pray: St. Norbert, pray for us.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 5, 2020:
Whenever I leave the parking lot of St. Peter and go west on Maine, one of the first things that appears is a tall steeple with a cross on it. For those familiar with Quincy, this was the St. Boniface Church. Although it has been closed since I’ve been here, nevertheless it is a symbol of a faith of our German ancestors who settled in Quincy many years ago. For those who know anything about St. Boniface, he is designated as the “apostle to Germany.” The reason I bring this to your attention is the fact that today, June 5th, is his feast day in the Catholic Church. Boniface (baptismal name: Winfred) was born in England sometime between 675-680 depending upon the source. He became a Benedictine monk and priest with an inner desire to be a missionary. His first missionary effort was to the people of Holland and that effort was a failure. He went then to Rome to obtain the Pope’s blessing on his mission and returned with authority to preach to the German tribes. It was a slow and dangerous task and his own life was in peril. But his courage never faltered as he journeyed through Germany destroying idol temples as he raised churches on these destroyed sites. His perseverance paid off as people responded to not only his message but also to his holiness of example. He and several companions were later killed by a band of barbarians as he was preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for his people. Because of his spirit and fortitude, Boniface is the Apostle to Germany. His Church in Quincy still rises to the heavens a symbol of the faith and heritage of the German people. Let us pray: God our Father, give us the same spirit of Boniface in living our faith and his fortitude, so that we will continue to reflect the same German faith and perseverance of our ancestors. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 4, 2020:
I don’t know about you, but I like to know what is expected of me in the differing roles in my life. Whether it is in my role as a priest, or as a pastor, or as a dean of the Quincy deanery, it is important that I know and embrace what is expected of me. And I’m sure many of you feel the same whether as a parent, a spouse, a worker, or whatever you find yourself doing. Well, it was no different for the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. We find this need to know what is expected in our gospel for today when we find a Scribe coming to Jesus and asking him, “which is the first of all the commandments?” In other words, what is expected of me as a Jewish person. Then Jesus responds by saying to this young man, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” But then Jesus adds a second, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. “ In our role as a follower of Jesus, these two commandments given by Jesus today is what is expected of each of us. Now In living these two commandments, we must realize that love for our God or for our neighbor is not primarily a feeling or an instinct. As you know you and I go through a variety of mood changes, where there are some days we feel love and loving, but other days when these feelings are distant from us. But that’s now the love to which Jesus is calling us. The love that Jesus challenges us comes from within ourselves, it is an act of the will where we choose the good of the other, regardless of how we are feeling that day. This kind of love is described as that theological virtue for it represents a participation in the love that God is. This kind of love to which Jesus expects from us is His grace, an openness to sharing the very life of God that is within each of us. To love God, or to love our neighbor, is the grace that God gives to each of us, that God invites us into His life ever so deeply and that we begin to share here on earth what we hope to share some day with Him in heaven. Let us pray: “God our Father, we know that you are a God of love, and in fact, you are love itself. Help us to live your nature in our life by choosing to love you as well as our neighbor in each day of our lives. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Word made Flesh and the ultimate expression of your love for us. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 3, 2020:
At the time of Jesus, there were a variety of groups of Jewish people. Some of them are quite familiar to us, like the Pharisees. There was another group called the Sadducees. They differed from the Pharisees in some religious beliefs, especially that of the resurrection of the dead. I remember one person writing that because they didn’t believe in the resurrection, they were, “sad you see.” I thought that was cute and perhaps very true. If we don’t believe in the resurrection, what is our purpose in life. These Sadducees bring an argument to Jesus, trying to show how ridiculous the resurrection would be. It was Jewish law that if a man died, then it was up to his next brother to marry his brother’s wife. In this argument they state that what would happen in seven brothers fulfilled the law, whose wife would she become in the resurrection. Jesus didn’t pay much attention to the ridiculousness of this question as they were thinking of the resurrection as only an escape from the body. But resurrection is more than that. Jesus wanted them to understand that heaven, in the resurrection, is where our risen bodies will be so rich and so intense that we will be able to relate to all those around us in the most intimate, powerful, and richest way possible. I might pose the question; how do you imagine heaven? For me it is the fullness of life, the overwhelming happiness for which we ever longed, and it is life with our God in an intimate relationship. Let us pray, God our Father, help us to be guided by the resurrection in our lives so that we will always follow your will and live your life with no fears, worries, and anxieties, trusting that some day we will be with you forever. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for June 2, 2020:
Our gospel for today is one that addresses an important issue in our lives. To what extent are we obligated to follow the laws of our government? We are often in a dilemma, as we try our best to live the laws of God as we prepare for our eternal dwelling; but also we as citizens of this earth, in an effort to live together, we are also challenged to live by the laws of our government. Then what happens to us when these two laws sometimes go contrary to each other? And they so often do. This is the issue in our gospel as some of the Jewish leaders were trying to trap Jesus in saying something for which He could be arrested and tried. Instead Jesus asks for a coin and asks whose image is on this coin. They presented Him with a denarius and they answered Caesar. To which Jesus stated: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Although this did not answer the question that was asked, but Jesus challenged them to think about that answer. For us as followers of Christ, we firmly believe that everything belongs to God. Everything that we do, say, and live belong to the God who gave us our time, talents, and treasures. But we also know that we live in a social community and need to support it through our taxes. The difficulty comes in when the government overreaches and violates the laws of God and tries to legislate morality. Then we have a dilemma. We just pray that God gives each of us the wisdom to see the difference and live as His people in a society that so often rejects our principles. Let us pray: God, our Father, help us always recognize all those things in our life that belong to you, and give us generous hearts to return them to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, June 1, 2020:
On the Monday following the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Church celebrates the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Under Pope Francis, the Church formally inscribed this Obligatory Memorial in the General Roman Calendar in 2018. It’s a beautiful celebration, one that complements our celebration of Mary, the Mother of God on January 1. Mary is indeed the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, each one of us.
As we celebrate this Memorial, we are mindful that Mary conceived the physical Body of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ who gives us rebirth through the power of the Holy Spirit received at Pentecost. Mary, the Mother of God, makes Jesus’ Body physically present to us in that first century and the Church makes Christ’s Body mystically present through Baptism and Sacramentally in the Holy Eucharist.
Mary shows as much tender care and concern for the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, as she did for His physical Body. Of course she is both the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. Pope Pius XII in one of his encyclicals wrote, “It was she (Mary) who was there to tend the Mystical Body of Christ, born of the Savior’s pierced Heart, with the same motherly care that she spent on the Child Jesus in the crib.”
We honor Mary as the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, always mindful that all she says and all she does always points to Christ. She is a most beautiful example to us and a model of always saying yes to God’s Will, not just at the Annunciation but all along, even as she stood at the foot of the Cross and watched her only Son die there. Mary also is that great intercessor for us and so we turn to her time and again, as both the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, asking for her intercession for our perseverance and protection and for all of our needs.
St. Augustine wrote: “What God has bestowed on Mary in the flesh, He has bestowed on the Church in the Spirit. Mary gave birth to the One and the Church gives birth to the many, who through the One become one.”
And now I leave you with the Opening Prayer for the Mass of this great celebration: “O God, Father of mercies, whose Only Begotten Son, as He hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also, grant, we pray, that with her loving help Your Church may be more fruitful day by day and, exulting in the holiness of her children, may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 29, 2020:
I find one of the most hope filled gospels is found in the gospels for this morning. In this gospel, we find Jesus approaching Peter and asking Peter a very significant question, namely, “Peter do you love me?” Peter of course responds, “Lord, you know that I love you.” Then Jesus says, “feed my lambs.” Jesus does the same to Peter two more times, asking Peter if he loved Him. After third time, Peter is a little frustrated and says, “Lord, you know that I love you.” These three questions were the result of Peter’s threefold denial of knowing Jesus. What this gospel shows is the fact that Jesus never gave up on Peter, and despite his denial and sins, still calls him to great things, like “feeding His sheep.” Jesus came to reconcile. And in this beautiful exchange, we find Jesus reconciling Peter for his sinfulness with Himself, and with His Father. But I also think that in the threefold questioning, Jesus was leading Peter to be reconciled in himself. Peter needed to forgive himself for his denial of Jesus. The threefold questioning was a means that Jesus used to do that. As I said, I find this reading most hope filled. You and I are like Peter. We have sinned, we have denied Jesus. But on His part, Jesus never gives up on us. He reconciles us with Himself through forgiveness, and then He gives us the grace to reconcile ourselves with ourselves—that means, to forgive ourselves so that we can live as Jesus calls us. With this hope, let us pray: “Father, I thank you for Jesus who has reconciled me with you, and who has reconciled me with Him through forgiveness. Give me the grace to forgive myself so that, like Peter, I can continue to fulfill Jesus’ mission of forgiveness and reconciliation. I pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 28, 2020:
As I reflect upon the words of our gospel this morning, what strikes me is the care and the concern and love that Jesus had not only for His disciples but also for all those who would continue His work and His mission. That includes you and me. As we once again overhear Jesus, the following touches my heart and hopefully yours: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us that the world may believe that you sent me.” Sometimes when we hear someone pray, we hear what is most meaningful to them. And for us to hear this prayer of Jesus, we can find that the apostles meant so much to Jesus that He wanted somehow to protect them as He prayed for them. And what is uttered for the apostles is also the prayer of Jesus for us. Then Jesus says “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me.” As I hear this prayer, my first reaction is that Jesus knows how important we are as His followers to Him and His mission. From these apostles to each of us in the year 2020, Jesus knows that we all are His gifts and He prays for us as these gifts. When you and I receive a gift, we are so ever thankful. Today, Jesus recognizes us as gifts to Him from His Father. As these gifts, He is thankful to us for our willingness to continue His work in our lives. As we recognize ourselves as His gifts, let us be ever thankful for being chosen to live His life in one with Him and the Father. Let us pray: God our Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son who cares so deeply for each of us. Fill us with His love so that we continue to share this gift with others. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 27, 2020:
As Catholics, we profess that Jesus found His Church upon four special marks, marks or principles that express the very heart of who we are as the Catholic Church. These four marks are found in our Nicene Creed which we profess each Sunday and Solemnity. These marks are expressed when we proclaim that we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Each of these marks are not something we hope to achieve, nor are these marks a development of the apostles, but as St. John Paul II stated, “these stand at the very heart of the mission of Jesus.” It is not a secondary attribute of the community of His disciples but belongs to the very essence of that community. And so in our gospel for this day, once again we eavesdrop on the prayer of Jesus before He would leave and here is what we discover, as the Lord prays: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.” And so one of those marks of our Church is that of being one with each other, a unity that is supposed to reflect the very unity of the Triune God. Our God is three persons, a God of relationship and communion. Through the Holy Spirit which Jesus gave to the Church, we are in communion with the Son and share with Him His communion with the Father. Oneness, unity—this was Jesus’ prayer as He gave to us the mark that reflects His very nature with the Father, a oneness, a unity. We can only pray that Jesus’ prayer becomes reality for us. Let us pray, God our Father, help each of us to recognize and live as you willed, we, being one with each other and your Son, as your Son is one with you. May this oneness be always a mark of our Church. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 26, 2020:
In our gospel for today, we get to eavesdrop on Jesus in prayer. In this prayer, He is praying for His followers, those in His time, and those who would follow, including you and me. Let’s listen, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me; because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.” As Jesus is preparing for His departure, both visibly and physically, His attention is turned to His disciples of every generation. That’s you and me as He remembers us in His prayer to the Father. One of His disciples is the saint that we celebrate today, namely, St. Phillip Neri. Phillip was a missionary who was known for being a type of “street preacher.” In this manner of preaching, he would engage anyone to listen to him, helping them to consider the Christian life. And the qualities that he had that was so attractive to others was the joy and humor that was exemplified in everything that he did. Sometimes Christians can seem to have bit into a lemon, as their faces frown and they have no joy within them. But this wasn’t the case with St. Phillip Neri. Jesus’ prayer for this saint of the 16th century seemed to be heard as God graced Him with the message of Jesus given through a human instrument of joy and laughter. May God’s grace do the same for all of us. Let us pray, God, our Father, you heard Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. Fill us with the grace of joy that is your gospel of life, and the laughter that should bring smiles to our faces in everything we say and do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Reflection for Monday, May 25, 2020 by Fr. Aaron Kuhn:
Today (and I don’t mean just in this virus situation that we have found ourselves) we are surrounded by messages that warn us of danger…danger to our health, our safety, our retirement, our future, danger to our country and to the world. With all of this, we’re almost afraid to not be afraid and frankly, it can all be exhausting! These warning messages often times create fear that can paralyze us and chaos to distract us, allowing for suppression and causing us to act imprudently and without right judgment.
What we always need to remember is that the world cannot offer us peace or safety or security…only Christ can. And we take comfort in knowing that we can bring to the Lord all of our fears, anxieties, troubles, and burdens and lay them at His feet. And the more we do this and the more we allow Christ to take from us, the easier it is for us to take courage. And that is what Sacred Scripture reminds us of time and again when we hear that message of do not be afraid. In the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus preparing His disciples, and each one of us, for the troubles in the world that will be encountered but, Jesus says, “take courage, I have conquered the world.” In other words, do not be afraid. And although that is certainly easier said than done at times in a world where it seems to take courage to have courage, this is a message of consolation and encouragement from the Lord Himself and a great reminder of His unending love for each one of us.
And so, may we always be confident and secure in the knowledge that Christ has indeed conquered the world, recognizing all the more that the Truth allows us freedom from fear and gives us hope for our true future. Although we live in this world, we are not of this world. No. Rather, we belong to God and while this world will pass away, we are filled with great hope that with God’s grace, we will spend Eternity with Him. May we live each of our days here on earth with that in mind, freed from fear and anxiety, and always striving for that growth in holiness and fullness of life.
And I leave you with this prayer that I found for courage: Dear God, give me courage, for perhaps I lack it more than anything else. I need courage before men against their threats and against their seductions. I need courage to bear unkindness, mockery, contradiction. I need courage to fight against the devil, against terrors and troubles, temptations, attractions, darkness and false lights, against tears, depression, and above all fear. I need Your help, dear God. Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace. Console me with Your blessed Presence and grant me the courage to persevere until I am with You forever in heaven. Amen.
Reflection for Sunday, May 24, 2020 by Fr. Aaron Kuhn:
I think it’s probably safe to say that we’ve all waited for something with great and eager anticipation. The Ascension of the Lord into Heaven helps to strengthen and nourish our desire for attaining Heaven. At every celebration of the Mass as we begin the Preface, the priest says “lift up your hearts,” and the people respond, “we lift them up to the Lord.” Indeed the Ascension invites us to always do just that, to lift our hearts up to the Lord, and not only that but to also seek the things that are above. You see, the hope of Heaven fills our day with joy and our souls should be fixed in contemplation on the Divine. In celebrating the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven and in living out our Christian lives each and every day here on earth, we remain where we are, in our place, sanctifying the world from within, working to improve it, and placing it at the feet of God. Sadly, so often we find folks who have this turned upside down but it is the only way in which human dignity will come to be valued and respected and the true peace of Christ known. And so, may we always have that great, burning desire for attaining Heaven as we lift up our hearts to the Lord and contemplate on the Divine. I leave you with this pray that I recently found: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, right before your Ascension into heaven you told your apostles to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth upon receiving the Holy Spirit. May I be similarly inspired to spread your Gospel message in word and deed, according to your will for me. And may I do so prudently and joyfully, with your help, your guidance, and your grace! And remembering this glorious event, help me to seek what is above, Heaven, where you are seated at the right hand of God the Father! Amen.
Reflection for Saturday, May 23, 2020 by Fr. Aaron Kuhn:
At all times, in times of great joy and in times of great distress and in all times in between, we should be asking ourselves what our ultimate goal is and how we are preparing ourselves for that. Our ultimate goal is the salvation of our soul and the souls of all others so that we might spend Eternal Life with the Father in the Glory of Heaven. We prepare ourselves for that by our continued repentance and conversion, day in and day out, striving to know and act upon the Will of God, emptying ourselves completely while filling ourselves with Christ, sharing in the Paschal Mystery, and giving ourselves completely and unconditionally in humble service to God and one another. If we consider seriously that question of what our ultimate goal is and answer it with honesty, we might find elements of wealth or power or pleasure in our response, in our ultimate goal. Now most of us wouldn’t directly say that but it may indeed be there and often times is. It takes a deep examination of self and an even deeper level of honesty to discover it. But unless we do, we will continue to live our Christian life not with the goal of Eternal Life but with the goal of something worldly and passing which will ultimately and always disappoint. None of us want to be destitute or in ill health nor do most of want to see others in such a state. Many of us are reluctant to give up control of something. Yet, are any of those things more important than Eternal Life with the Father in Heaven? “Oh Father, you just don’t understand, you don’t quite get it,” you may be saying to yourself. No, I don’t understand the fullness of God’s plan of salvation but I do know of the Father’s love for each one of us. And even in my own faults and shortcomings and weaknesses, I understand that there is nothing greater than that Eternal Life with the Father in Heaven, nothing. Is our Christian life an easy one…that continual conversion and that emptying of oneself and that humble service and that unconditional love? Of course not! But is it worth it? Of course it is! Our Eternal Life, our fullness of joy, our very salvation is certainly worth it. And so, what is your ultimate goal and how are you preparing yourself for it?
Reflection for Friday, May 22, 2020 by Fr. Aaron Kuhn:
The Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, a 15th century saint, on May 22. In speaking about St. Rita, Pope St. John Paul II once said, “Why is Rita a saint? Not just because of the wonders of her intercession…but for the incredible normality of her daily existence. St. Rita is an example of what the Lord accomplishes when He finds humble hearts open to His love.” This is a most beautiful line from John Paul II and really gives us cause for reflecting on our own life and our own humble openness to God’s love. St. Rita certainly did not have an easy life, far from it. Yet she always aimed to cooperate with God’s grace through the many ordinary, small choices that she made. Living out our Christian lives is never easy and never done in an ideal environment. We paralyze our growth in holiness when we constantly look at a situation and think to ourselves “if only”…if only this, if only that. St. Rita is a great example to us of the growth in holiness, especially in the midst of struggle, through ordinary daily choices and the desire to always cooperate with the grace of God. And so, how are you cooperating with the grace of God in your life? How can you move more fully from a thinking of “if only this or that” to the fully living out of your life as God has called you at this particular moment? How do you humble your heart and open it all the more to the love of God? If you find it a challenge, you’re not alone but we know that we have St. Rita and all the saints who we can call on for their intercession and our Lord Himself who will give us all we need to carry out His Will and to grow ever more in holiness.
St. Rita, along with St. Jude, is the Patron Saint of impossible causes (among other things) and so I include the following traditional prayer for St. Rita’s intercession: O Holy Patroness of those in need, St. Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistible, who for thy lavishness in granting favors has been called the Advocate of the Hopeless and even of the Impossible; St. Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of such compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou could obtain from Him whatsoever thou ask, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee expecting, if not always relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee. We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray thee grant that [here mention your petition]. Pray for us, O holy St. Rita, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 20, 2020:
Today is 40 days after Easter. When I was growing up, this 40th day after Easter we celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension. However, for many dioceses in our country, this Solemnity was transferred to Sunday. Thus today our readings are from the 6th week of Easter. In our gospel for this day, the apostles remain confused as to what Jesus is saying to them. He is aware of that and so He says, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, a little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you see me?” That’s exactly what they were discussing as it didn’t make sense to them. And Jesus takes their questioning and their lack of understanding and gently nudges them forth. He tells them that “they would weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” He tries to tell them that He would be departing from them. And yes they would grieve. But the promised joy that He provides will be the gift of the Holy Spirit who would help them understand Him, His message, as well as provide strength and courage to proclaim that message. He promised them that they would do greater things than He did because of this gift of the Holy Spirit. Because of that, they would be filled with great joy because there would be nothing that they would ever fear again, since Jesus had conquered sin and death. Let us pray: God our Father, once again we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us embrace this Holy Spirit in our lives and be witnesses of your love in our world. May our lives always be filled with a sense of joy knowing that your gift of the Spirit remains with us always. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 20, 2020:
Today we find in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles a lesson that St. Paul learned from his preaching in Greece. Paul attempted to deliver his sermon to the people of Greece, using right techniques, rhetoric, eloquence, and allusions to the Greek culture. And what he found in turn was his sermon falling flat, especially when he preached about the resurrection. When his listeners heard this discussion of the resurrection, it was like them saying to him, don’t call us, we will call you. His message was turned off and his presence was tuned out. This disastrous experience was enough for Paul. From that time on, he resolved never to use mere human wisdom or philosophy, or eloquence. Instead, he would preach only Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I bring this up because the person’s who feast day we celebrate today was often compared to St. Paul by the Pope of the time. This saint was St. Bernardine of Siena. It is said that he traveled on foot, sometimes speaking for hours in one place, then doing the same in another town. He was gifted in his preaching and his message of course centered on Christ. What is special about this Franciscan priest was his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Bernardine devised a symbol, IHS, which are the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. These letters were always imprinted on a blazing sun. In fact, many of our Churches use this symbol, as does St. Peter, under the tabernacle altar. Let’s pray: God our Father, helps us to always respect the very name of your Son, Jesus, who is our Savior and Lord. Let us never be flippant in our use of this name but let this name always be a reminder of how much you loved us in sending Jesus to suffer, die, and rise that we might have new life. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 19, 2020:
In the gospel for today, Jesus has told His disciples that He was going to return to the Father. This news was devastating to them. In quoting Jesus, this gospel states “because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.” Like the apostles, when we hear some devastating news, grief also fills our hearts. It might be some type of disease that is diagnosed, or it might mean a sudden heart attack of someone we love, or it might mean a loss of a job or other source of income. Grief fills our lives as it did with the apostles when there is uncertainty, worry, or any type of anxiety. And when we feel this grief, most, if not all, feel so alone. Jesus understands that human feeling that the apostles were experiencing, as He understands our feelings that we experience in life. After Jesus announces that He would soon leave them, He reassures them that they would not be abandoned, that Jesus would send to them the gift of the Advocate. That gift of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would journey with them in life and would be present to them, guiding, directing, and keeping them close to the teachings and presence of Jesus in their lives. They would never be alone. It is the same with all of us. When we feel most alone, the Holy Spirit is with us, nudging us along, helping us to draw inner strength from a power far beyond ourselves. This gift is the blessing that Jesus gave the apostles and it is a blessing that He gives to us as we journey along with the many experiences that cause us grief. Let us pray: God our Father, your Son promises us that gift of the Holy Spirit, that gift of grace that is found in each of us. Help us, especially in this time of isolation, to draw from our inner selves that strength to endure this uncertainty and worry, and find the grace to carry on, knowing that you are always with us. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 18, 2020:
One of the concerns that Jesus had before He would depart is how the disciples would react when challenges would arise in their lives. Jesus knew and understood that His message would not be received, and that people would do their best to destroy what they termed as this new way. He knew that they would have their fears and these fears would either make them stronger or provide a reason to abandon their mission. So we find in our gospel today, Jesus reassures the disciples that they would not be alone, that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit would be with them to strengthen them in all that would lie ahead. Jesus tells the disciples today, “they will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” This was probably a very shocking statement to the disciples. In other words, Jesus was forewarning them that because of Him and His message their lives would be literally torn upside down. And each of them would often live in fear for their lives. But with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, they would be able to confront their fears and overcome them with the strength that only God could provide them. And that is what the Advocate would do for them. Let us pray: God our Father, sometimes it is difficult to live our faith. With uncertainties, struggles, and crosses, we each have our own fears. We ask in a special way that you give us the grace of our Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to reassure us that you are always with us with your grace, presence, and help. With the Holy Spirit, nothing will shake us from our mission to love, serve and worship you. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 15, 2020:
In our gospel for today, Jesus says something that should have a strong impact on all of our lives. He says “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” Jesus establishes the standards of our relationship with Him. It is not something casual, but rather He chooses us to be friends with Him and He with us. What is so striking about this, is that our true friends are those who know us very well, who understand our shortcomings and flaws, who knows our pasts and presents, and in spite of our failings, continues to love us as friends. The best proof for this choice by Jesus to call us friends is that He states a fact of His love for us, namely, “no one has greater love, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And we know that Jesus did that as we point to Calvary. It is the cross that is the best revelation of His love. Despite our sinfulness, Jesus accepted the cross because He chose to be friends with us. He took upon Himself all of our humanity, the good and the bad, nailed it to the cross, and died that somehow He might give us new life in the resurrection. This is what it means when He states in this same gospel, “it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” We sure should be thankful for His choice of us as it challenges us to bear the fruit of His choice. Let us pray: God our Father, you revealed to us a special relationship through the friendship of your Son. He accepted us, loved us, and died for us. Now that He has risen, help us to understand the depth of His love, and because of it, give us the grace to live as people chosen by Him to be friends. Help us bear His fruit of goodness, kindness, love, and generosity today and always. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 14, 2020:
The words in our gospel today should have special meaning for us, as it had special meaning for the saint that we celebrate today. In this gospel, Jesus says that “it was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” God’s grace works in differing ways in all of our lives. But it’s this grace that leads Jesus to say to us, “it wasn’t you who chose me, but I chose you.” Such is the case with the saint we celebrate today. It is the feast of St. Matthias. Matthias was the disciple who took the place of Judas in the college of apostles. It was important to make sure that the group was of twelve, since that number had special significance as a number of completion. So when Judas despaired and took his own life, Peter wanted to make sure Judas was replaced with a man “who accompanied the other apostles the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among them.” It was important to them to honor the number 12 but it was more important to somehow make sure that the man to replace Judas was of God’s choice, not theirs. So as the reading describes, they prayed and then drew lots and it fell on Matthias. He was then to be part of the twelve and he himself would be a martyr for the faith. I enjoy this gospel as it is a reminder that God chooses us. We don’t choose Him. No matter what we think of ourselves, God still chooses us for a purpose, and we like Matthias must respond wherever it leads us. We might ask ourselves, “why did God choose me?” or “what is my purpose in life?” Let us pray: God help us to realize that you have chosen us to be a part of your plan of salvation. Give us the grace to realize our role and to live it. Help us to be like Matthias and respond with our very being. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 13, 2020:
Our gospel for today is from St. John’s gospel. In this gospel, Jesus tells His disciples and us how we are connected to Him. With Him we have life; away from Him, we cease to have life. This is best described in the metaphor that He uses, when He tells the disciples and us, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in you will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” What a beautiful image of how Jesus gives and continues to give life to all of us. When we are connected to Him, we bear much fruit. However, we at times choose to go our own way. When that occurs we separate ourselves from the vine that brings life. What happens in situations like that, God doesn’t give up but often He sends His own Mother to bring us back. Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. In this celebration, we remember various apparitions of Mary to three young children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia. In these apparitions, Mary, a loving mother, gives a motherly order to them to pray the Rosary daily, to make sacrifices for sinners and pray for them, to consecrate their lives to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to pray for the conversion of Russia. Through this motherly direction, Mary was hoping to bring the world back to being connected once again to the Vine, her Son. Her prayers still remain valid today as we need to heed her advice for she is always trying to help us re-connect with Jesus. Let us pray: Jesus, your mother taught us during the rosary to pray the following, thus fulfilling her apparition to the three young children: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Your mercy.” Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 12, 2020:
My reflection today will be a bit unusual. Usually, I use the gospel for the daily Mass to focus my thoughts for you. But today’s first reading seems to fit into the situation in which we find ourselves. Currently, we are still sheltered down, isolating ourselves because of this coronavirus that has affected our cities and country. This has created quite a hardship upon most of us as well as a challenge to all of us. Into this experience we hear the struggles of the early Church found in the Acts of the Apostles for today. In this reading, St. Paul was stoned by the people and was thought to be dead. Instead, he continued preaching, proclaiming the good news to differing areas. What we find is Paul and his followers entering a city, and the reading states: “they strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith.” But the one statement I want to share is what Paul said to the people of that city in which they found themselves: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Paul had endured uncertainties, threats on his life, and many other struggles, and through them all, he was able to embrace each one as means of entering the kingdom of God. You and I are challenged to do the same. Our hardships are different but they still are hardships for us. Let’s offer them up as a means for us to enter the Kingdom of God. Let us pray: God you sent Jesus to us and He suffered greatly for us. Help us to embrace this current pandemic as a hardship offered to you in union with the sufferings of Christ. May this hardship be a means for us to also enter the kingdom of God.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 11, 2020:
In our gospel for today, Jesus is preparing His apostles for His departure from them. Even though He would no longer be physically present, He wanted them to understand that His presence would remain in the Church, especially through the gift that He would be giving them. That gift would be as He states, “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name.” This gift of the Holy Spirit will sustain, guide, and direct them so that what they preach is what Jesus preached, how they live is how Jesus lived. This gift of the Holy Spirit as Jesus says, “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Again, this gift will assure us that Jesus has not left us but is still present with us through this gift of the Holy Spirit, the person of the Holy Trinity who is the very love of the Father and the Son.
Jesus did not leave a catechism for the apostles to follow nor did He leave them a book on “how to be the Church”. Instead, He gave to them a part of Himself, the love for the Father and the love of Himself by the Father. This is why He states in this same gospel, “whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Again, Jesus has not abandoned us but is present to us, dwelling within each of us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, let us pray, “God our Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who has revealed so much of your love for us. Help each of us to embrace the gift of the Holy Spirit. May our hearts be the indwelling of that Spirit so that we can keep the word of your Son and experience the love that you have for us. We pray to you Father, through Christ, with the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Amen.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 8, 2020:
Our gospel for today is the same gospel that we will be using this weekend. Jesus’ message in this gospel is beautiful, simple, and very profound. The simple part is that Jesus is going away to heaven and that it’s His will to bring His followers with Him. He will do this because Jesus declares Himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What a beautiful, simple, but profound statement that should give us all hope.
Jesus declares Himself to be the Way. We might ask ourselves, “what way?” We can go into a bookstore and what we find are many help books to show us the way to happiness, the way to lose weight, the way to a happy marriage. What these books do are to give us a sense of direction to follow if only we want to do such and such in our lives. But Jesus tells us that He is the Way—it means Jesus is the Person who, if embraced, will lead us to find happiness in life, satisfaction in living, and a fulfillment of our longings and yearnings. Jesus, not a book, will complete our lives.
Then Jesus tells us that He is the Truth. You and I live in a society today that seems to acknowledge truth as some subjective reality. If we think something is true and feel that it is true for me, then it must be the truth. With such an attitude we will never arrive at an objective truth that is God’s revelation to us. We will each do our own thing without ever arriving at the truth that God has revealed. To appreciate and live that objective truth, we must relate to Jesus who is the Truth of God.
Finally, Jesus states that He is Life. If we want to find our lives and the purpose of those lives, we must follow Jesus. To the extent that we embrace Christ and live for Him, to that extend will we find the fulfillment of living our lives.
Let us pray, Jesus you tell us that you are our Way, our Truth, and our Life. Help us each day to make that a reality for us. You are all that we need to find happiness and joy in this life, and someday to join you in that eternal life of heaven. May your grace keep us centered upon you, and you alone. Amen.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Thursday, May 7, 2020:
St. Jeanne Jugan was canonized in 2009 by Benedict XVI. She is the Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Little Sisters of the Poor are an incredible Order of Religious Sisters whose primary mission is to care for the elderly poor around the world. Just to take a look at their Mission, their Vision, their Values, and their Spirituality is astounding and not only that, to know that they put these words into practice every day of their life is incredible. Their Mission is to offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family, and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself. Their Vision is to contribute to the Culture of Life by nurturing communities where each person is valued, the solidarity of the human family and the wisdom of age is celebrated, and the compassionate love of Christ is shared with all. Their Values include Reverence for the sacredness of human life and for the uniqueness of each person; Family Spirit; Humble Service; Compassion; Stewardship…the recognition that life and all other goods are gifts from God and should therefore be used responsibly and for the good of all. Their Spirituality includes Christ-centeredness, Gospel Simplicity, Trust in God’s Providence, Marian Spirituality, and Strong Family Spirit. All of this alone gives us much to reflect on for our own lives as we strive to grow in holiness and carry out God’s work. Sadly, the Little Sisters of the Poor have had to legally fight for Religious Liberty for a number of years now. On Wednesday, May 6, they found themselves once again part of a case now before the Supreme Court of the United States concerning Religious Liberty. One cannot help but wonder why there is such hostility and even hatred toward the Little Sisters of the Poor and their faith. I urge you to consider the Mission, Vison, Values, and Spirituality of the Little Sisters of the Poor in your own life. I urge you also to consider Religious Liberty and the real threats we have against it. And I urge you to support The Little Sisters of the Poor and Religious Liberty through prayer. Even in times of challenge and persecution, we know the Lord is present to us and what a beautiful example the Little Sisters of the Poor are to us. St. Jeanne Jugan, Pray for us.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 6, 2020:
In our gospel for today, Jesus states: “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.” These words of Jesus reveal to us that Jesus is intimately united with our God, and our God is intimately united with Jesus, His Son. If we want to know God’s love for us, all we must do is to allow Jesus to enter our hearts and lives. Jesus is the incarnate Son, the Word of God made flesh, who was sent into our world to lead us all back to the God who created us. We are, by being created by this God, to be intimately united with our God so that the restlessness of our lives, the longings and yearnings of our lives, will find total fulfillment in the arms of Christ, who is the very incarnate image of our God. When we wander away from Christ, He seeks us out and brings us back; when we think we have all the answers to life’s struggles, He reminds us that He is still in charge; and when we are confused and uncertain, He gives us the answers needed. Let each of us always place our faith and our hope in Jesus who was sent by our God to lead us back to Him. Let us pray: “God our Father, I thank you for sending Jesus into our history and into our lives. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and apart from Him, we seem to wander in our own hopelessness. Help us to realize that Jesus is everything that we would ever want or need in our search for happiness and truth. And when we are united with Jesus, we are united with you, our Father. Amen.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for May 5, 2020:
In our gospel for today, Jesus states: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus continues to reflect upon Himself as an image of the Good Shepherd. In Jesus’ time, the shepherd was the protector of the sheep as well as the provider of water and grass for them. He was with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. The shepherd would invest his very self in the life of his sheep. For Jesus to use the image of the Good Shepherd to describe His relationship with us says so much about how much each of us means to Him. As the shepherds of Jesus’ day would give their very lives to protect the sheep, all we must do is think of Good Friday and remember what this Good Shepherd did for us. He gave His very life for us that we might have life.
Another part of the role of the shepherd was that the sheep were in tune with his voice and his voice alone. In the evening, the shepherds would bring all their sheep into what they call a sheepfold where they would stay overnight, guarded and protected. Then in the morning, each shepherd would call out and only his sheep would follow his voice. What a beautiful image of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Do we follow His voice in our lives, a voice that is found in Scripture and in the teachings of the Church? So often we hear so many differing voices that entice us to follow them. These voices often lead us to destruction, addictions, and materialism. They are very attractive and appealing to us in terms of this world. But the only lasting voice that brings happiness and joy is the voice of Christ. So, let us pray, “God you gave us Jesus as our Good Shepherd. Help us always to be in tune with His voice in our lives and follow it. We are confident that it will lead us to happiness and truth. Thank you for that voice that leads to eternal life. Amen”
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, May 4, 2020:
“Broadmindedness, when it means indifference to right and wrong, eventually ends in a hatred of what is right.” This powerful quote is from the great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Of course we know that this is but one of hundreds of great quotes from Bishop Sheen whose teaching and speech concerning theology and current issues is widely known and quite valuable. His works are certainly engaging and very much relevant to our lives today. If we take a look at this particular quote above, it’s a reminder to us that holding steadfast to the Truth of Christ, which is always right, is not closed-mindedness, not at all. Rather, it is a reflection of our love for what is right. And certainly today, there are many forces trying to tell us that right and wrong is something that we define, that we determine for ourselves, and that there are no absolutes. This simply is not true. Those forces disguise themselves as being tolerant or kind or loving. Let me make it abundantly clear, the greatest form of love is Truth, period. And not some kind of manufactured truth but the fullness of Truth that comes only from Christ. And isn’t it interesting that many who claim to be broadminded demonstrate that hatred of what is right time and again, just as Bishop Sheen spoke about. Just take as one example the hate exhibited toward those individuals and groups of people who tirelessly and peacefully defend the dignity and sanctity of all human life in all stages. Frankly, it is appalling. Broadmindedness in that sense of indifference to right and wrong tries to shame the Truth of Christ and those who proclaim it and who try to live it each day. It is a constant battle but not one that is insurmountable because Christ gives us all we need to witness to the Truth even in times of difficulty, challenge, and persecution. And so, I encourage you to always work to both understand and proclaim the Truth of Christ. Do not be swayed or discouraged by those forces that try to diminish, shame, and even criminalize the Truth of Christ. Pray fervently and unceasingly for perseverance in loving what is right and upholding the Truth of Christ.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Saturday, May 2, 2020:
Psalm 116 calls out “How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” This is a wonderful reminder of the great and many gifts that God has bestowed upon each one of us and upon the whole world. Indeed, God’s goodness fills the world and our lives. Nothing we do can add to God’s greatness and almighty power but we do give witness to that greatness and almighty power of God through our gratitude for those gifts and our proper use of them. The Psalm, as it gives praise and thanksgiving to God, is also a reminder to us to never lose hope even in the face of trials and struggles, even in the face of despair, for the Lord is with us and rescues us. Again, God fills the world and our lives with goodness and the greatest gift that He bestows upon every person, born and unborn, is the gift of life. We thank God for that gift and we pray for those who have died, for those who may now be struggling in life, and for those whose lives are tragically ended through the evil of abortion. We pray for the dignity, sanctity, and protection of all human life in all stages. As many of you know, on Saturday, May 2, we celebrate the birthday of Fr. Leo Enlow, our pastor here at St. Peter’s. We celebrate that great gift of life in a very special way bestowed upon Fr. Leo. We thank God for the gift of Fr. Leo’s Priesthood and for the gift he is to each one of us and we ask God’s continued blessings upon him. Fr. Leo has touched all of our lives in some way and continues to do so…as a Pastor, as a friend, as mentor, as a teacher, as a counselor, as a consoler, as a leader, as a humble servant of God. Happy Birthday to Fr. Leo. We thank him for all he has done for us and continues to do for us and we thank God for bestowing this gift upon us.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for Friday, May 1, 2020:
On this first day of May, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Joseph, as we all know, was the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. In his role as both, Joseph was the provider for his family, making sure that they were fed, protecting them from harm, and being a male role model for his young son, Jesus. I can picture Jesus, sitting by Joseph, watching his foster father work his trade as a carpenter. Because of his role in the life of his family, Joseph becomes the patron saint of workers, and this particular feast reminds us of the value and dignity of labor in our lives. And so today, we look to St. Joseph, a working man, for intercession and for guidance.
As our prayer today, I share with you the opening prayer of our Mass for this feast. “O God, Creator of all things, who laid down for the human race the law of work, graciously grant that by the example of St. Joseph and under his patronage we may complete the works you set us to do and attain the rewards you promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
Since we are still sheltered down and cannot return to the places of our work, we ask St. Joseph in a special way to give us the grace to continue to persevere, and look forward to the day that we return to our work and providing a living for our families as St. Joseph did.
St. Joseph, patron of workers, pray for us. Amen.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Thursday, April 30, 2020:
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” This quote is from St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Many of us know Mother Teresa since she lived very recently and was canonized a saint not so long ago. Mother Teresa’s life was filled with simplicity and greatness. Seems strange, doesn’t it? And for those who remember her, she always seemed to have a smile on her face and a presence that displayed great joy. She has many great quotes, many that reflect her simplicity of life and her greatness. Mother Teresa was also known for her humor at times though never as a way to draw attention to herself but rather to always point to Christ. This quote reminds us to not only show kindness in our speech but, perhaps more importantly, it reminds us of the effects of those kind words and how those kind words go far beyond our encounter with another. Mother Teresa says that those kind words are easy to speak and indeed they are but isn’t it interesting how difficult we find it to do sometimes. And so, I encourage you today to really reflect on your speech with others, whether it be friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, the clerk at the store, whoever it is because indeed, the echoes of our all our speech, kind and unkind, have a huge impact. And so, may every encounter with others find us filled with kindness of speech as we bring the joy and peace of Christ to every person we meet.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Wednesday, April 29, 2020:
The Holy Spirit longs to work through each one of us. Are you willing to let that happen? We hear in the Acts of the Apostles from Sacred Scripture that despite persecution the disciples of Jesus proclaimed the Gospel message, drove out demons, and healed the sick. You might wonder how they were ever able to do this, to persevere. Certainly we know it was not on their own but by the working of the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God in their lives. You may be tempted to say something like “yes, but I can’t do that, no way. Things are so much different.” Well indeed, perhaps you can’t do those things in the same way but none of us do all things exactly the same all the time. And frankly, things aren’t so different for us. We may try to tell ourselves that they are but just because we try to convince ourselves or others doesn’t make it so. We should be proclaiming the Gospel message through our daily lives and loving service to others. And indeed, we should be helping to dispel the demons of fear and hopelessness. We are the ones who should be helping those paralyzed by the sufferings of the world by reaching out in small ways that bring hope and joy into the lives of others. We do this because we belong to Christ and are called to bring others to Him. And since we belong to Christ, we need not be fearful for ourselves but rather, simply open our hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who will guide us and give us the courage and zeal to proclaim the Gospel message in our lives. When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, we may just find ourselves surprised in how we are called to make a difference. And so, let yourself be led by the Holy Spirit, let Him work through you today and every day so that you may bring others to the joy and peace of knowing and serving Christ and His people.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Tuesday, April 28, 2020:
The very fact that nothing, and I do mean nothing at all, goes unnoticed by our Heavenly Father should be enough motivation for us to always seek the good and to glorify God in all things. When we act, it’s always with intention. Right intention is when Christ is both the motive and end of our action. But if our intention to act is for self-serving purposes including approval and recognition from others, we run the dangerous risk of our conscience becoming deformed where, rather than focusing on the Will of God in all things, our focus becomes what people will say or think (about me). This self-centered thinking at the very least begins to neutralize our call to proclaim the Gospel message of Truth. Left unchecked, it can destroy that call in us and leave us spiraling out of control as we seek approving smiles and handshakes and pats on the back over the Truth of the Gospel. And for those who truly seek Christ, they know that their words and actions in proclaiming the Truth may be criticized and their conduct unpopular at times. Keep in mind too that even the best actions and good deeds can be destroyed with the wrong intention. And when we seek earthly reward we will come to avoid doing good at all. Christ must be the center of our life and the reason for our action. And so, throughout the day, we should be asking ourselves, “am I doing what I should be doing? Am I seeking to glorify God or am I seeking to impress others in order that I might be glorified?” These are important questions for us each day that require an honest answer from us and not just a flippant response. And know that we can (and should) always seek to change any self-centered intention and direct it instead toward God. Certainly praise or recognition are not bad in themselves and can even point to the greater Glory of God and help us in our quest for holiness. But it is very important to remember that receiving a word of praise or recognition is very, very different from seeking it through our actions and being motivated solely by it. Those words of praise or recognition should always be accepted humbly and directed toward God with simplicity for it is only with Him that we accomplish anything at all. May you always have purity of heart which pours forth purity of intention in all that you do as you seek God more fully in your life and proclaim His message of Truth to the world.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 27, 2020
Have you ever gone to the refrigerator feeling hungry but not knowing what would satisfy that hunger? Or perhaps go to the cabinet looking for some type of food in an effort to ease what we would term as our hunger pangs? So often what seems to satisfy us is what is termed “junk food.” And that food, as we all know, is not good for us but seems to satisfy our hunger, at least for the moment. What I find interesting is that when I’m hungry I never seem to turn to fresh fruits or raw vegetables which would be good items to eat. But we never seem to do that and then we ask ourselves “why can’t I lose weight?”
In our gospel for today, Jesus has just fed the 5000 men and the other women and children that were a part of the crowd. It was an amazing miracle, giving to each all that they wanted to eat of the fish and bread. But this amazing miracle didn’t seem to be enough for the people. They were hungering for more. They seem to be like us standing before the refrigerator, looking for something to satisfy their immediate hunger. This is when Jesus says to them, “You are looking for Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” And thus Jesus begins to introduce to them that He alone is this Bread of Life that endures forever.
I’m not sure that the people who heard Jesus ever understood Him. And if the people of Jesus’ time did not understand, I’m not sure that we always understand. We so often are looking for things to satisfy our hungers in life. These often take shape in material things, thinking that they will satisfy for what we seemingly are longing. And so we snack on this “junk food” of material things instead of the food that Jesus gives, a type of food that will endure for eternal life. What is that food? His food is to love Jesus, make Him front and central to our lives, and the number one priority for each of us. His teachings, which we take and make a part of our living, will be the food that will satisfy our hungers and bring us the greatest satisfaction for our hungers, namely, eternal life with Him. Lord, help us to know that you and you alone satisfy all of our hungers in life. Amen.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Sunday, April 26, 2020:
We desire God’s Will for we know that His Will, and only His Will, leads to fullness of life and eternal happiness. Still, sometimes we can find ourselves troubled with doubt or fear or anxiety especially over change or uncertainty. We even see this throughout Sacred Scripture. Take a look just at the Gospels and we see Jesus’ disciples sometimes fearful or doubtful or anxious. We can point to a number of these instances in the Gospels. But what is it that brings peace and calm and trust and joy? It is the presence of Christ. And it is He, the Risen Lord, whom we celebrate. Christ is present to you, this very moment and in every moment, and with His presence comes also His peace. And so, as you surrender your own will and your own desires and your own control to the Will of God, be reminded once again that the fullness of life and eternal happiness is found only in the Will of God. By now, you have likely heard the news that effective July 1, I have been appointed Pastor of St. Thomas Parish in Camp Point and Holy Family Parish in Mt. Sterling. I am looking forward to this new assignment perhaps with some anxiety that comes with newness and the unknown. But my heart is also filled with sadness as I prepare to leave St. Peter’s. It would simply be untrue for me to suggest otherwise. Still, I am filled with great joy as I continue to work to carry out the Lord’s Will in my own life. With great sincerity, I thank you for all you have done and have been for me and my priesthood. Let us keep one another in prayer. And as you strive to grow in holiness and to live out your Christian life, may you always have the peace of Christ as you work to carry out His Will.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 25, 2020
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Mark. We don’t know too much about Mark, but apparently he accompanied St. Peter and acted as his interpreter. From various traditions, Mark was attributed with writing the first of the gospels, the gospel that bears his name. This gospel seemingly was based upon the preaching of St. Peter. We really don’t know whether Mark ever knew Jesus personally but developed a relationship with Him through the faith and the witness of St. Peter.
There is a story related only in Mark’s gospel that there was a young man who ran away naked, leaving his clothes, when Jesus was arrested. Some think that this might have been Mark. We do know that Mark’s mother lived in Jerusalem and the primitive Christian community would gather in her home.
There is also a Mark who was a companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. We do not know for certain whether this Mark (surname John) was this individual. We do know, however, that Mark and Paul had a falling out and no longer accompanied Paul and Barnabas. But these two disciples would be reconciled at a later time.
And so today, the Church honors St. Mark, the evangelist (means proclaimer of the gospel). As his life seems to indicate, he had his difficulties and problems with some people. And yet Mark was still able to serve the Lord by preserving in writing what he saw and heard. Because of his gospel, the preaching of Peter and the early Church was written down as that good news for all people, which includes you and me.
Let us pray: “O God who raised up St. Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow in the footsteps of Christ. We ask these things in the name of Jesus the Lord and Savior.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 24, 2020
Our gospel for our Mass this morning is from St. John’s gospel and it is the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 people. What is interesting about this story is that a large crowd was following Jesus because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus noticed them and was very concerned that they were without food. Jesus asked His disciples about feeding them. Phillip answered “two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each to have a little.” That’s when Andrew tells Jesus that “there is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many people.”
This is when Jesus takes these small gifts, gave thanks, and then had the disciples distribute them to the people, giving to them as much as they wanted. To the surprise of everyone, the people ate their fill and they had twelve wicker baskets with fragments left over.
This particular gospel was used by St. John Paul II when he was in Scotland for a meeting of the youth in 1982. This same Scripture passage was used for his homily with the young people. He pointed out how Andrew, Scotland’s patron, was conscious of the inadequate amount of food for feeding the crowd of 5000. As John Paul II related to the youth, Andrew put what he had in the hands of Jesus. Jesus blessed it and fed the 5000 with it.
St. John Paul II concluded that this is exactly what happens with our lives. We often feel so conscious of our inadequacy. How could Jesus use what we give to Him? And what is it that we give—surely not enough to make a difference. This is when John Paul II concluded that when we give of ourselves, no matter how we think it be inadequate, Jesus will take what we give, bless it, and multiply it beyond our expectations. And to think this is what happens in our Eucharist. We take the simple signs of bread and wine, give thanks, bless them, and then Jesus feeds us all with the Bread of Life. For what our Lord does with any of our offerings, let us give Him thanks today. Thank you, Lord, for your generosity to us.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 23, 2020
Our first reading for our Eucharist today is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. In this reading, we find Peter and the Apostles being taken in front of the Jewish Sandhedrin because they refused to adhere to their admonition to stop preaching about this Jesus. In spite of this threat, they responded with the following: “we must obey God rather than men.” Then the apostles narrated the story of Jesus and how the “God of our ancestors raised Him, though you (Jewish leaders) had Him killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.” What a message that they preached. Then they ended by declaring that they were witnesses of these things.
Again, what a difference the resurrection made in the life of the apostles. Their timidity, fearfulness, and cowardly behavior were somehow put aside and what we find is a courage, a boldness, and an inner strength to proclaim what they saw. That my brothers and sisters is what the resurrection should do for all of us. No, we are not going to stand before people and make this declaration, but hopefully the resurrection will give us the courage to live what the apostles stated, namely, “we must obey God rather than men.” And what happens when we do? Well we open up ourselves not so much to a threat of death or imprisonment as was the case of the apostles, but rather we do open ourselves up to ridicule, contempt, and being made fun of. But again, who are we here to serve, God, or the folly of humanity?
Let us pray: O God today we celebrate in the Church the feast of two martyrs, St. George, and St. Adalbert. Each of them served you through differing centuries of the Church, and each of them endured the contempt of human beings. Because they served you, God, they were both put to death for their faith. Help us each day to serve you more and more. May all of us, as the song goes, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly, all the days of our lives. Amen.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 22, 2020
Today in our gospel we hear a summary of the entire Bible in two sentences. If you ever been to a baseball game, inevitably someone will stand up with a sign that reads: John 3.16 What this sign would read if we picked up our Bibles and looked it up would be the following: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believed in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” This summary of the entire Scriptures reflect two truths of our faith. The first truth is that God takes the initiative to have a relationship with His people. We see this in the Old Testament. Even when people rejected the invitation of our God to be in relationship to Him, He never rejected us. He kept persevering, inviting us over and over into that relationship. God could have abandoned us, but He never did. He desires a relationship with us and always took the initiative to establish, maintain, and advance it. The second truth of our faith is the question “why?” The why is answered in the very first statement because “God so love us that He would even send His only Son” to secure that relationship. When we think and meditate upon this one statement the immediate response is “Wow!” How could God love us so much? The answer is because He is love. So when life gets us down, struggles seem to prevail, let’s keep this Scripture before our eyes as God loves us and is always a part of our struggles. “God we thank you for this love, we thank you for your Son. Help us, in spite of our sins and weaknesses, know that you never give up on us but always journey with us in a special relationship with you. Thank you, Lord. Amen”
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for April 22, 2020:
“For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For I believe this: unless I believe, I will not understand.” This quote is attributed to St. Anselm, an 11th century saint. We are reminded that the saints are great examples to us of how to more fully live that life of holiness that we are called to. Not a life of perfection, that will only be in the Glory of Heaven, but a life of greater holiness which prepares us for that great Glory of Heaven. And, as I often remind folks, the saints are not some distant beings that are so far removed from our lives. Rather, they are great models for us, models of holiness that endured trials and pain and suffering and temptation just like each one of us. We are not called to mimic exactly any particular saint but we are called to holiness, and not just that, an ever deepening of holiness, and the saints are great examples and models of that growth in holiness. That is what we look to in them. And of course we know that we can call out to them for their intercession in all of our needs as they now enjoy that perfection and Glory of Heaven. St. Anselm is known for analyzing the Truths of faith through the aid of reason. Thus, he’s been called the Father of Scholasticism. Sadly, some folks try to set faith and reason opposed to one another. This simply isn’t the case. Look at it simply, who gives us both of these things? It is God, our Creator, who gives us both faith and reason. Of course we use the gifts God has given us in the way that He calls us to and His gifts never oppose each other. The difficulty for some folks, especially pertaining to faith and reason, is that they try to identify faith or reason as something that they create or define or control or manipulate. We do not create, define, control, or manipulate the gifts of God given to us. We can use them wrongly but we cannot define or control them. Going back to St. Anselm, early in his life, he was attracted to worldly living and had an indifference toward religion. But he would turn his life toward God and eventually became a monk. Although he was looked upon as an original and independent thinker, he was noted especially for his patience, gentleness, teaching skills, and his care and concern for the poor. Like each one of us, and every follower of Christ, St. Anselm had crosses to carry throughout his life. And although he was a mild and gentle man who loved peace, he was never found backing away from conflict and even persecution when principles were at stake. What a great example we have in St. Anselm and all the saints. May we model the gentleness and compassion of St. Anselm while remaining steadfast in proclaiming and defending the Truth of Christ even in the midst of difficulty. And may we open our hearts all the more to the gifts God has given us, especially faith and reason so that we might believe in order to understand.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, April 20, 2020:
I majored in Business in college. I have my Masters in Business Administration. Prior to entering the seminary I worked in retail management and accounting. I thoroughly enjoyed both. And, I still enjoy those things to some extent. While some people enjoy reading a mystery novel, I often tell folks that I prefer reading the latest edition of the federal tax code which is only a joke, of course. I never studied tax law in any depth and you’d have to be somewhat crazy to actually say you enjoyed reading that. Granted, I do fit that definition most of the time. Anyway, there are great business concepts that can be applied to many aspects of life. I’d be one of the first to admit that. And, when it comes to accounting (and even other areas of my life), I have a tendency to want things perfect, so much so that I can obsessive over and spend a great deal of time on what is really considered immaterial for accounting purposes. But there is certainly a greater depth to our lives than a business model or accounting preciseness. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important. But God’s greatest gift to each one of us is the gift of life and while our lives can benefit from certain business practices, God’s gift of life is not a business model. We should strive for excellence but we also need to recognize our failings and our need for God’s mercy as well as our limitations and our dependence upon God and the gifts of others. Certainly we need to be aware of our financial affairs but our real bottom line in life is the salvation of our soul and the souls of others…the bottom line can change in an instant but our salvation is eternal. Efficiency and productivity are often emphasized in business but we also need to recognize the value of every human person, the gifts they have, and the struggles that they may be enduring. The business world is filled with meetings to discuss anything from personnel to reduction of costs but we should always be spending time growing in holiness. Wasting time in business is unheard of but we should strive to “waste time” with God every day through prayer, contemplation, and adoration. When is the last time you “wasted time” with God? We are the Body of Christ, the Church, you and me. We are not a business. Though many business practices are good practices, the world too often looks to itself as a mighty business machine, confident in its own power and enthralled in its wealth. Sometimes we can do the same thing. And so, let us always remain mindful of who we are as Christians, not defined by a great business model or extraordinary business accomplishments but by that whom we celebrate, the Risen Lord. And let us always be open to how the Lord is calling us to live out our lives more fully.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Sunday, April 19, 2020, Divine Mercy Sunday:
The Second Sunday of Easter has also been designated as Divine Mercy Sunday by the Church. The central focus is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and the floodgates of God’s Mercy being opened upon us. Pope Saint John Paul II said that Christ has taught us that we not only receive and experience the Mercy of God but are also called to practice mercy toward others. That mercy is easily seen in the many healing miracles that we read in the Gospels. In each one, we see where the power of Christ to renew, forgive, and heal bursts into someone’s life. Christ bursts into our life as well and we are called to that same profession of faith that Thomas made in the Gospel for Divine Mercy Sunday, “My Lord and My God.” In that great confession of faith, Thomas, and each one of us, is healed and changed…healed of our grief and pain, changed from doubt to belief. Indeed, the Lord is Risen and we celebrate the Resurrection. The Risen Christ is no mere fantasy and He bursts into our lives each and every day to bring mercy and healing. Sometimes He remains unnoticed because of our own hardness of heart. Indeed, the need for Christ’s gifts of mercy and healing is as great today as it was in Apostolic times. Without it, we are simply lost. As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection, let us open our hearts all the more to the gifts of mercy and healing that the Lord offers to us and commit ourselves to bring those gifts to others as well. If you are able to, I would certainly encourage you to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with your family. It is a beautiful prayer as we pray for God’s mercy on ourselves and the whole world. If you are unfamiliar with the prayers for the Chaplet, they are easily found by doing an online search. May you have a most blessed day as we continue to celebrate the Resurrection. Indeed the Lord is Risen, let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia, Alleluia. And I offer this prayer to close. It is the optional closing prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. “Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.”
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 18, 2020:
I want to share with you a favorite story of mine. A small boy and his grandfather were flying a kite on a high hill. The kite soared into the sky. Then suddenly a low cloud hid it from their sight. After a few minutes the grandfather said, “Robbie, maybe some thief in that cloud stole your kite.” Robbie shook his head NO. “But Robbie, how can you be sure that kite is still at the end of your string?” Robbie said to his grandfather, “Because I can feel what you can’t. I can feel the kite tug at my string.”
This is a beautiful illustration of what the resurrection did for so many people, including you and me. This weekend we hear the gospel reading about Thomas refusing to believe that Jesus died and rose until he put his hand into His side, and his finger into His hands. The certitude of the sense of touch was made real for Thomas as the risen Christ appeared to the apostles once again, only this time with Thomas being present. And we hear Jesus say, “you have come to believe because Thomas you saw me, and touched me. Blessed are those who have not seen nor have touched, and yet still believe.” My brothers and sisters, we find Jesus saying that you and I are blessed. We haven’t seen, haven’t touched the risen Christ, but for many of us we are like Robbie. We feel the tug of the resurrection in our bodies, so we believe that Jesus has risen; we feel the tug in our hearts, and so we embrace His love; and we feel the tug in our lives, as we not only acknowledge this resurrection but we proclaim it with the way we live our lives. May the tug of the resurrection reassure each of you that Christ is with you in your journey of faith.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for April 17, 2020:
How many of us remember the comic strip, Peanuts. In one of the strips, we find Linus saying to Charlie Brown what Fr. Aaron often says to me, “that’s ridiculous.” Charlie Brown replies, “Maybe so! But come and see for yourself.” They go into the living room where Snoopy is, finding Snoopy sitting on the television. His ears are pointed up and out like TV antenna. Charlie Brown says, “See! It does make the picture better.” And amazed Linus says to Charlie Brown, “you’re right!”
For the past month, we have been sheltered down in our homes, somewhat isolated from the community. For some of you, you have children at home, often very tiring, and perhaps getting under each other’s skin. Or perhaps we live alone and find the four walls creeping in on us. You and I can be like Snoopy. Perhaps our role in our lives is to somehow make the picture a little better by our patience, by our understanding, and especially by the hope that we provide . And if we really make the picture a little clearer by these virtues we embrace, then something remarkable happens. We get in tune with the risen Christ and make the picture of Him ever so brighter in our own lives and in the lives of the people with whom we live. You might say, as Fr. Aaron does, Fr. Leo you are ridiculous. But my challenge to you is to try it and the picture of the risen Christ will be made visible and clearer through the channel of your life. God bless and get tuned in.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Thursday, April 16, 2020:
Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, recently spoke with a French magazine concerning, among other things, the current coronavirus. What he had to say was excellent and although I always think it is best to read the entirety of a piece or at the very least have a pretty thorough understanding of the context, I share with you some of the Cardinal’s thoughts.
The coronavirus, “a microscopic virus, has brought this world to its knees,”…a world that was “drunk with self-satisfaction because it believed itself to be invulnerable.” Cardinal Sarah encourages us to ponder our dependence on God and to recognize our faulty priorities as we discover more fully the value of entrusting ourselves to God. He urges us to return to “essential things,” especially prayer. He calls us to “rediscover the importance of our relationship with God, and thus the centrality of prayer in human existence. And, aware of our fragility, to entrust ourselves to God and His paternal mercy.”
Cardinal Sarah said the pandemic “has dispersed the smoke of illusion” and specifically spoke out against materialism which not only causes but encourages one “to consume without limits,” falsely promising happiness that it can never bring. “The so-called almighty man appears in his stark reality…His weakness and vulnerability are glaring,” the Cardinal said.
The Cardinal goes on to remind us that we cannot be “radically independent.” “When everything collapses, only the bonds of marriage, family, and friendship remain. We have discovered that as members of a nation, we are bound by invisible but real bonds. Most of all, we have discovered that we are dependent on God.”
He encourages each of us to turn our families and homes into the domestic church that it is called to be. “A church is a sacred place that reminds us that in such a house of prayer everything must be lived in seeking to direct everything and every choice toward the Glory of God.” He encourages each of us to pray and center ourselves on God. “How precious can be the habit of reading the Word of God, reciting the Rosary in the family, and dedicating time to God, in an attitude of self-giving, listening, and silent adoration.”
“We are the fruit of a loving Will of Almighty God…God is love. He is not indifferent to our suffering. Our vulnerability opens our heart to God and it inclines God to have mercy on us.”
And so, I too encourage you to remain steadfast in your faith, in your trust in God, and in your prayer. Embrace the challenge that Cardinal Sarah offers, to turn your family and your home into that domestic church filled with prayer where all things point to the Glory of God. I want to mention also that there has been an initiative for a “Perpetual Rosary for an End to the Pandemic and for the Conversion of Hearts.” I encourage you to sign up for one or more time slots for this perpetual Rosary. The sign-up can be found at: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b48adae2fa5ff2-perpetual.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Wednesday, April 15, 2020:
In speaking of how the number of coronavirus cases seem to be plateauing in a particular state, I was saddened and a bit alarmed to read that the governor of that state had said that “the number is down because we brought it down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that.”
Indeed, there has been much pain and suffering surrounding the current pandemic. No one has been untouched by it in some way or another. But make no doubt about it, God is active and present in the world and in your life. God created the world and filled it with goodness and it is God’s Providence that directs all things. His plan of loving goodness cannot fail and is realized in the Risen Lord whom we celebrate. We cannot explain away pain and suffering and it remains part of our life but we can unite it to the pain and suffering of Christ so that we can enter more fully into the Life of Christ.
A statement of “I did” or “we did” is only valid when we recognize that I did or we did only through the grace of God. Otherwise such a statement is nothing more than a bold statement of self-glorification and self-worship that dangerously dismisses God’s Providence. Indeed, God has bestowed good and wonderful gifts on every person and calls every person to use those gifts in a particular way. That which we accomplish is only accomplished through God Himself. All praise and glory and worship belong rightly and solely to God.
In no way does this suggest that God is some kind of puppet master who is in charge of pulling the strings. God always respects the free will that He has given us. Our actions do matter, of course, and should always point to the greater reality of God. We have responsibilities in every aspect of our life. But in all things, we are called to live our lives according to the Truth of the Gospel and to keep God at the center of our life and all things.
We pray for a swift end to this pandemic. We remain aware and vigilant in our role of containing the virus. We thank God for the gifts that He alone has bestowed upon those working to treat and contain the virus and for their very work itself which God alone guides. We pray also for those affected by the virus, that is all of us, but especially for those sickened by it and those who have died from it.
That same governor said “that will be a tragedy if that number goes back up.” None of us want to see any more wide spread of this virus and we do our part in preventing that but the real tragedy is to dismiss God’s Providence, removing Him from the center of our lives and the world and bathing in self-glorification and self-worship. Let me be very clear and say once again, God is present and active in the world and in your life and His Providence directs all things. Where and how do you see this? How do you witness that to others? Again, to also be very clear, God alone is the giver of all that is good and He alone is worthy of all praise and glory and worship. What gifts has He given you? How has He called you to use those gifts? How do you show God praise, and glory, and worship?
As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection in this Octave of Easter, may we be ever more aware of the Risen Lord in every aspect our life today and every day. May God give you peace. And indeed, let us rejoice and be glad for the Lord is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Tuesday, April 14, 2020:
It had been relegated to the back, seldom-used stairway. Few people probably ever saw it. An even fewer number probably ever read it. Each day, I used those stairs. I saw it…and I read it…almost every day. I admit that at first it had little effect on me although I did find myself reading it each day at that landing. Isn’t that interesting how we do that sometimes? And doesn’t a crowded road sometimes make us tense or anxious? Anyway, as I was about half-way up that particular flight of steps each day, I’d see it. There it was. And I’d begin reading those same words that I had read the day before. It was a large, framed print with ten simple words. Now I’m sure it was placed there on that big, flat, empty wall not because someone didn’t like it or because it wasn’t important. Certainly the sheer size of it helped to fill that big, flat, empty wall and perhaps it was meant to help make that climb in the stairway more inviting. Nearly every day for twelve weeks, I walked up that stairway and read those same ten words and I have come to realize that indeed they did have an impact on me. And since I’m strictly limited on the number of words here, I’ll have to stop for now and maybe continue later…no, no, I’m just kidding. That large framed print simply read “Always go the extra mile. The road is never crowded.” Now, I know what you just did…you counted the words, didn’t you?…to make sure there were ten. There are…I also double-checked. Seriously though, take some time to reflect on those words. Aren’t those words, in part, what our Christian lives call us to do. Those words speak against any self-centeredness. Those words speak against any slothfulness. Those words speak against settling for mediocrity. Those words call us to more deeply love God and our neighbor. Those words ring out more deeply our call to lay down our life for others, whatever that may look like, but certainly in humble service. Sadly, all too often that road isn’t crowded though it should be. And I can assure you that going the extra mile will ease tension and anxiety and will help bring you true and lasting peace and happiness. So I encourage to think about how you can go that extra mile, today and every day. How can you enter into the lives of others more fully? How can you enter into the life of Christ more deeply? As we celebrate this Easter joy, let us reflect on that all the more. Let your reflection on those ten words help to bring about fullness of life for you and may your life be filled with the peace of Christ now and always. “Always go the extra mile. The road is never crowded.” Indeed the Lord is risen, let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, April 13, 2020:
On the north wall of my mother’s bedroom is a cluster of four simple, rather small religious pictures. They have hung there for years, certainly for as long as I can remember. There’s nothing particularly moving or extraordinary about any of them. Yet as a youngster, two of them always caught my attention, always drew me in, so to speak, without me even realizing it. As I look back now, one of the images always spoke of gentleness, sweetness to me. The other always frightened me, though I never really knew why. One, I would learn later, is Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This is the one that frightened me when I was very young. When I told that to a priest once, he explained to me that I was in good company, understandably frightened because that image depicts the Child Jesus having leaped into His Mother’s arms for comfort and protection after having been shown the instruments of His Passion and Death…look closely at the image and you’ll see a sandal dangling from one of the Child Jesus’ feet, leaping so quickly to the protection of His Mother that He nearly lost His shoe. The other image I would learn is referred to as The Madonna of the Streets. Folks will often laugh when I tell that I was drawn to that image and when I gazed upon that picture as a very young child, I thought it was my mother, holding me. Of course, some will laugh and say…”you thought you were Jesus and your mom the Blessed Mother?” No, that’s not what I thought at all. I wouldn’t have even understood what that meant. The reality is, I was drawn into those images. I didn’t understand them as I do now but I was no less drawn into the greater reality they pointed to. And of course, none of this even entered my thinking. Really, in both pictures, I did gaze upon my Mother, our Blessed Mother. And I gazed upon our Savior. Even as a very young child, though I didn’t even know it I was drawn into the Mysteries of our Faith through beautiful pieces of religious art. And so now you may be thinking to yourself, “well gee, we’re in the Octave of Easter and this has been quite the story time with Fr. Aaron but so what?” And that’s exactly what we should be asking ourselves as we come to experience the Paschal Mystery…so what? Just to know the Paschal Mystery is not nearly enough. We have to ask ourselves: how does it affect my life? How am I drawn ever deeper into the Paschal Mystery? How does it change my life? Here’s the thing, the reality of the Risen Christ surrounds us and we are its witnesses. The beauty that the Lord has filled the earth with points to the greater reality of the Risen Lord and Eternal Life. We enter more deeply into this reality as we strive each and every day to live out our Christian lives with authenticity. And so I encourage you to first off recognize those things that are drawing you deeper into the Life of Christ and then ask yourself how you are being a witness to the Resurrection. By the way, our home was (and still is) filled with religious articles that have certainly impacted my own embracing of the Paschal Mystery. And it’s worth noting that I’ve come to have quite a fondness of all the images of our Blessed Mother…even that one that frightened me as a small child. Some of them have very interesting stories. The Madonna of the Streets is but one. It may be worth your time learning more about some of those images. Indeed, my personal story is the long road to the point of this reflection but perhaps it will give you pause for reflection in your life as well. A Happy and Blessed Easter to you. May the Risen Christ fill your days with great joy and hope and peace as we proclaim: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow—Easter Sunday
“This is the day the Lord has made’ let us rejoice and be glad.” These words are from our responsorial psalm that we would normally sing on Easter Sunday. On this celebration of Easter, I have to be honest again with you and tell you that this is really been difficult for me to celebrate the Triduum without your presence with me. This is a first and hopefully the last for me as I would never want to live through it again. But in the spirit of the day, “yes, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.”
How appropriate that responsorial psalm is. No matter what day it is, or how we experience it, whether sadness or sorrow, the Lord has conquered everything imaginable in our lives, be it sin, sickness, death, isolation, or aloneness—He has conquered it with the empty tomb and gave us something for which we live each day, namely being hope-filled. There is nothing we need to ever fear again for because of Easter, the Lord has made this day for us and we can and always will rejoice and be glad. So in the spirit of Easter, and in the isolation of our homes, I rejoice with you and wish each and every one of you a very Happy Easter.
Our gospel for this day has Mary Magdala going to the tomb only to find that the stone was removed. In a spirit of panic, she tells Peter and John who in turn run to this tomb. Needless to say, none of these followers ever expected a resurrection. Yes, these people heard what Jesus said but no one ever made the connection that this would become a reality. And so when Peter and John arrived at the tomb, they too were both perplexed, confused, and astonished. No one knew what to make of this empty tomb. But when John looked in, our gospel tells us that “he saw and believed.” This one experience would guide Peter, John, and Mary of Magdala, the rest of their lives. It would be a source of strength, a source of hope, and the very source upon which they would lay down their lives, knowing that Jesus had conquered sin and death. This empty tomb should also provide the same encouragement that we need in our lives as we suffer from fear of death, anxieties of illness, down on selves because of sin, and living with regrets of past failures. Yet, the empty tomb gives us all a new life as it gives to us that hope for what Jesus promises. Again, Happy Easter.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow—Holy Saturday Night Vigil
Perhaps the one liturgy in our Church that is filled with very deep and rich meaning is the Easter Vigil celebrated on Holy Saturday night. Unfortunately because of its length, many Catholics do their best to avoid this liturgy. However, if there is one liturgy that captures our grace filled history from creation to redemption, it is this Easter Vigil.
As a reflection of what we do at this liturgy, I want to share with you parts of what we call the Easter Proclamation, or the Exultet. This is the proclamation that needs to be sung by someone who is able to sing. Needless to say, I have never attempted it because my proclamation would be more of a dirge that a lively proclamation. But listen to the beautiful words: “This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea. This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin. This is the night that even now, throughout the world, sets Christian believers apart form sin, leading them to grace, and joining them to the holy ones. This is the night, when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.” What a beautiful description and during this liturgy this description becomes alive in our ritual for this evening. Because of the resurrection that we celebrate this evening, Jesus Christ then become the light of the world as the Easter candle presents and both sin and death are conquered. Because of this newness of life, we usually celebrate with our Elect the sacraments of Initiation. Regardless, each of us will renew our own baptismal promises in which we were initiated into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus we live a new life.
Perhaps a question to ask ourselves, what does Easter mean to you? Do you make this mystery alive in your hearts and lives by continually dying to sin so that the life of grace may live in you and Christ lives in you. Let’s make this Easter alive and let our chorus always be “Alleluia, Jesus has risen.” In this time of sheltering down, this Easter mystery gives each of us a sense of hope. With Christ’s light and presence in our lives, let’s reach out to others through our phones and emails, shedding His light even as we experience isolation. We are a people of hope. Christ is risen—He remains victorious! Happy Easter!
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow—Good Friday
Today we celebrate Good Friday. This is the second day of our Triduum (three holy days) and is the only day in our calendar that there is never a Mass. This day was to be time of solitude and reflection.
As part of the celebration, we usually consecrated enough hosts at the Mass on Holy Thursday to use on Good Friday during the rite of Communion. It is also during this liturgy that the Church would read and listen to the Passion narrative again, only this time from St. John’s gospel, I encourage you to read this Passion sometime today. In John’s Passion, we find that Jesus is victorious every step of the way to His throne on the cross. Jesus, throughout the reading of this particular passion, is in charge. His life is not taken from Him, rather He gives His life in obedience for our salvation. He gives His life for all people, you and me.
After the reading of the Passion, we have what I always thought was a very moving experience. It is the veneration of the cross. In this simple act people would come forward, all differing ages, and would venerate the cross. Sometimes they would kiss it, others would touch it, and still others bow before it. Whatever the case, as I watched the people, I realized how much that cross meant to all these people. Jesus suffered, and died on that instrument of torture, for you and for me. No wonder we venerate it as it held the very Body that saved us from despair, sin, and destruction—only to become the means of new life three days later. As we shelter down, perhaps we can get our own crosses, or crucifixes, and gaze upon it, touch it, and reflect in our lives how much God loves us.
The first reading of this liturgy for this day is from the prophet Isaiah. The words of this reading give us much thought and reflection about what we celebrate today, the death of our Lord. Listen as we hear:
“Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured. The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; by his stripes we were healed.”
These words describe the love that our God has for us, incarnate in His Son. May each of us reflect upon that love, be assured of that love, and always respond to that love, today and in the days ahead.
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow—Holy Thursday
Today we celebrate Holy Thursday, the first day of what is called the Triduum. Te word Triduum means three days. So Thursday begins the three most holy days of our Church, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. In fact, this Triduum is considered an entirely different liturgical season of the Church, thus bringing our season of Lent to a close with the Eucharistic liturgy that usually takes place in our Churches this evening. Now just when we think Lent is complete with the Triduum, the Church invites us to go deeper into the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, His passion, death, and resurrection, by praying more these three day, fasting even more (no meat on Friday and a day of fast), and entering into our liturgies by reflecting even more so on the Paschal Mysteries of Jesus and what they mean to us.
This Holy Thursday has often been called Maundy Thursday. The word “maundy” is shortened version of the Latin, Mandatum. When the Church sang the entrance antiphon, an antiphon that read: “Mandatum novum dedi vobis,” translated as “I have given you a new commandment…..” These are the words taken from our gospel for this Mass where Jesus gets up, takes a towel and ties it around His waste, and then proceeds to wash the feet of each of His disciples. Some objected like Peter. But Jesus says to him, “unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” After Jesus washes their feet, He tells them that they are to wash one another’s feet. He said, “I have given you a new mandatum, a new commandment, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Washing of the feet is a beautiful sign of service, sign of humility, a sign of remaining connected with our Lord. We are to reflect what He did through what we do. For us today, this washing of the feet involves some ways of serving each other. In this time of sheltering down, I want you, as a way of washing someone’s feet, give them a call to check on them. If you have children, to somehow maybe wash your children’s feet. Think about what that would say to them. There are so many ways we can wash each other’s feet. But make sure that you also allow others to wash your feet. That is just as important. Have a great Holy Thursday.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Wednesday, April 8, 2020:
St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians writes, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.’” As we enter into the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday), this passage from St. Paul is a beautiful reminder to us of what we are about to celebrate, what Christ has done for us. To those who place their trust in something other than God, what we celebrate certainly would seem foolish. And if Jesus had simply suffered and died on the cross, then He may have been seen as a great teacher but nothing more and perhaps we would be the foolish ones. But we know that Jesus rose from the dead, conquering sin and death. Christ brings about light to a darkened world, He brings the fullness of life, He brings about our salvation. We enter into the life of Christ so that we may have that fullness of life. We enter into the suffering and death of Christ so that we might share in His resurrection and be brought to the glory of Heaven. Indeed, we recognize in the message of the cross the power of God and we pray for those who look to it as foolishness. We recognize too, in our own crosses, the power of God present in our life. And so, I encourage to embrace the fullness of this Sacred Triduum and the fullness of the message of the cross so that, having done so, you may also share in the joy of Easter, the joy of the Resurrection. And so, how will you embrace this Sacred Triduum? How will you embrace the message of the cross?
Reflection by Msgr. Leo Enlow for Wednesday of Holy Week:
When I was growing up, one of the television programs that we watched was called Get Smart. This program was about a spy, Maxwell Smart, who was a bubbling spy who could never get anything right. In spite of his mistakes, he seemed to be able to always come out on top in the world of spies.
This Wednesday has been traditionally been called “spy Wednesday.” But our spy wasn’t some bubbling spy who couldn’t do anything right, but the spy for whom this day was designated was a man named Judas Iscariot. This is the day that Judas made his bargain with the enemies of Jesus, and looks for a way to hand him over. He had lived among the apostles, was called by Jesus to follow Him, and even was entrusted by Jesus and His apostles to keep the funds. Apparently Judas was a talented individual who seemingly knew what he wanted and made sure that his will would be accomplished—even if it meant to hand over his friend and companion, Jesus. And that he would do.
So we find Judas today being the spy and selling Jesus to his enemies for thirty pieces of silver. And all our gospel tells us is that from the time that he was paid this, Judas looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
I often wonder to myself what would prompt someone to turn over a friend to his enemies, what would so mover a person that he would betray a person for the sake of money. Before we get to harsh with Judas, we might have to take a look at our own lives. How many times have we betrayed Jesus when we are in the midst of people, using His name in a disrespectful way, or perhaps making fun of someone who was trying to live out their faith. Yes, betrayal comes in many differing forms and we’ve all been there. The fortunate part for us is that, unlike Judas, we perhaps realize our sinfulness and always returned to our friend, Jesus, for forgiveness and mercy. Judas could not do that. Not only was he unwilling to turn to Jesus for forgiveness, but even as bad, he could never forgive himself. And because of that he could not live with himself. And so today even though it is spy Wednesday, it is still a day of hope for all of us for whenever we turn to Jesus, He is there with His forgiveness and mercy. And hopefully with that grace we can forgive ourselves and continue our journey with Jesus.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, April 6, 2020:
Things aren’t always as they seem, are they? I mean, just take a look at Fr. Leo and I. One of us is quiet and soft-spoken, a gentle soul who always listens carefully, patiently and obediently carrying out his work. The other is boisterous, one of kind, an unforgettable demeanor who can sometimes be a little ridiculous, always ready to get it done. But hey, Fr. Leo can also be boisterous and a little bit ridiculous at times. You see, things just aren’t as they seem sometimes. But in all seriousness, that’s so true. Appearances can be deceiving and we can struggle to see clearly and rightly. We often times see the stress, and the toil, and the pain, and the confusion but fail to see the victory. And the reality of sin can make itself known as a sort of fog or distortion, or separation from truth. A fog, a distortion, a separation that blinds us and keeps us from loving God and loving others. As we enter into the Paschal Mystery more fully, especially during Holy Week, we are reminded that we are people of hope, called to constantly proclaim the Gospel message of Christ, the Truth, and in doing so, we proclaim that the sin and pain of the world will not have the final say. God remains faithful and loves us to the end. May the humility, and service, and radical self-giving love of Christ be made a part of our life and may we see clearly not only the cross but the victory that Christ wins for us.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Sunday, April 5, 2020:
“Your power is awesome, Father, and wonderful is Your holiness. In Your presence the earth both trembles and stands still, for You shattered death’s power by the cross. Rise to help Your people: give Your light, and grant salvation to the meek of the earth, that they may praise Your name in heaven.” I take yet another beautiful psalm-prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for today’s reflection. I wonder how many times I’ve seen that prayer or prayed that prayer without giving it a second thought. Often times it is easy for me to overlook these prayers when I’m praying the Liturgy of the Hours but what beautiful prayers they are. And this can happen in anyone’s prayer life, you can overlook the beauty of the prayer being prayed or you can be in such a routine that the prayer becomes only words that you say rather than fullness of prayer that you offer. And so, I encourage you to really take the time to perhaps slow down with your prayer, be deliberate about your prayer so that you might enter into that prayer more fully. Perhaps consider adding a new prayer to your “prayer routine.” If it throws you off a little and if you fumble with it, good, it will help you to focus all the more on what you’re doing. When we “say” our prayers, whether verbally or mentally, they don’t have to be perfect or delivered with great eloquence. They need only be sincere. They need only to come from the heart as we recognize our complete dependence upon God and the need for His mercy. And take a few moments to pray and reflect on that prayer I opened with. Indeed because of God’s awesomeness and His conquering of death, the earth both trembles and stands still as it recognizes God’s almighty power and His due reverence. May we always be meek and humble of heart so that we might praise the Lord in Heaven for all eternity.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Saturday, April 4, 2020:
We have been preparing now since Ash Wednesday. We have hopefully taken heed to our need for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Hopefully our Lenten disciplines that we have undertaken have borne fruit in our life and have drawn us closer to God. Perhaps we’ve discovered things in our life that we want to work on, areas that we especially need Christ’s healing. Wonderful. Now is the time to seek that healing. Maybe you slipped up on your Lenten disciplines…how has that drawn you closer to Christ? Has it allowed you to recognize your need for God in your life all the more and your complete dependence on Him? I pray that it has and if so, wonderful. I pray too that repentance and conversion have been part of your Lenten journey. I think we can safely say that the last few weeks of this season of Lent have certainly been like no other. Again, I pray that you have embraced this Lenten season with even greater vigor and that the challenges presented to us have enflamed your heart for God. As we now enter into Holy Week, I encourage you to embrace this holiest of weeks. That you deeply consider what the Lord has done for you and what it is that we will celebrate in the Sacred Triduum. Take the time now to continue that preparation. May Holy Week for you bring even greater repentance and conversion as Christ pours out His love for you and gives you His peace.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Friday, April 3, 2020:
“Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as You deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, except that of knowing that I do Your Will.” For those of you reading this from St. Peter Parish, you will recognize this as our Prayer for Generosity, which we generally conclude our intercessions with at our Saturday Vigil and Sunday Masses. The prayer is attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century saint whose spirituality is expressed simply as “for the greater glory of God.” Many will recall that this prayer was very much a part of our 2018 Parish Stewardship Renewal. And although we cannot, at present, come together to say this prayer, I encourage you, just as Fr. Leo asked each of us when he gave us this prayer, to pray this prayer daily, with grateful and humble hearts. Offer it sincerely as you work to know and carry out God’s Will. Our stewardship continues even in the midst of challenge because we’ve come to know that stewardship is not a program that can come and go but a way of life that remains, one which we fully embrace as we recognize all that we have as a gift from God. In doing so, we offer all that we have back to the Lord for His greater glory and to carry out His Will. May you embrace your life of stewardship all the more and in times of challenge, may the Lord give you strength and peace as you approach Him with gratitude and humility.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Thursday, April 2, 2020:
St. Hilary of Pointers is a 4th century saint, known to be a staunch defender of the faith (especially against Arianism which denies the divinity of Christ). Yet he was also known to be a very gentle and courteous man. He once wrote, “Little children follow and obey their father. They love their mother. They know nothing of covetousness, ill-will, bad temper, arrogance, and lying. This state of mind opens the road to Heaven. To imitate our Lord’s own humility, we must return to the simplicity of God’s little ones.” This reminds me of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark when He became upset over His disciples trying to keep the children away from Him and He says, “Let the children come to me, do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Jesus is not suggesting that we be childish, not at all. Rather, He is reminding us of our complete dependence on God and how, like children, we should always be yearning to know more and understand more and discover more about God. That helps to draw us closer to Him. And that quote from St. Hilary of Pointers reminds us of our need for humility and simplicity of life while pointing out many of those things that weigh us down, turn us away from God, bind us to sin. And so, I encourage you to examine your own life, identify those things that hold you back from growing in holiness, and then to seek that humility and simplicity of life in all that you do as you recognize your complete dependence upon God. May you know God’s love and peace and truth in your life and show God’s love and peace and truth to the world. St. Hilary of Pointers, pray for us.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Wednesday, April 1, 2020:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This short, simple prayer is a powerful one that both proclaims our faith and humbles us by asking mercy for our sinfulness. Sometimes there is a loss of the sense of sin in our life. It’s easy and even attractive at times to fall into relativism concerning morality. Or we may want to blame our sinfulness on others or on circumstances. But God gives us free will, the ability to always turn toward God and to say yes to His Will or to turn away from God and what He calls us to (that is called sin and can never lead to true happiness). Bishop Fulton Sheen spoke of people’s tendency to have their sins explained away rather than having them forgiven by the Lord. But denying our sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy only worsens things for us as we turn away from God more and more rather than asking for God’s grace to help us deal with our troubles, our temptations, our sinfulness. And so, this prayer points us to our faith in Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. It recognizes our own sinfulness and it calls out for God’s mercy. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity. When said with sincerity, it is quite powerful in our life. And perhaps consider including the following in the prayer…”Jesus I love, Jesus I trust you.” I encourage you to say this prayer every day, perhaps throughout the day, with sincerity of heart, allowing the Lord to enter more fully into your life and your sinfulness so that he can bring about healing and wholeness for you and give you His peace. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Jesus I love you. Jesus I trust you.”
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Tuesday, March 31, 2020:
In today’s Daytime Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, I was particularly drawn to two of the Psalm-prayers. The first was this: “Saving God, by the Resurrection of your Son, You have given light to our eyes, and they shall not sleep in death for ever. Look upon the sufferings of Your Church so that our hearts may rejoice in Your saving help and sing You songs of praise.” The second was this: “God of wisdom and Truth, without You neither Truth nor holiness can survive. Safeguard the Church You have gathered into one and make us glad in proclaiming You.” I thought these were beautiful prayers, speaking in a particular way to today’s isolation, uncertainty, anxiety. The prayers recognize the Church, the Body of Christ, composed of you and me with Christ as its Head while they also recognize and pray for the sufferings of the Church…the challenges, the persecutions. The short prayers encompass so much as they also remind us of our need for God in our lives for without Him “neither Truth nor holiness can survive.” We need the Truth of Christ and we need to proclaim it or else our lives will fall into shambles. And we need holiness in our lives, holiness in ourselves and holiness in others so that we might enjoy the perfection and glory of Heaven. And the prayers are also prayers of intercession, asking God to safeguard the Church and to fill us with joy in proclaiming Christ to the world. Finally, the prayers recognize God’s almighty power, calling out to Him as “Saving God” and “God of wisdom and Truth.” Again, these are simple and short prayers but very powerful. Perhaps you might find them useful in your own personal prayer life and in your own reflections as you strive to draw ever closer to the Lord. May we indeed rejoice in God’s saving help, be made glad in proclaiming Him, and sing Him songs of praise for all of His works, for all that He does for us, for all that He bestows upon us.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, March 30, 2020:
Often times when I’m praying the Liturgy of the Hours I’m reminded that Jesus Himself prayed those same Psalms that I’m praying. The same Psalms that are part of every Eucharistic Liturgy that we celebrate as well. That reminder always causes me to stop for a moment and to consider all the more what it is I’m really praying. What a beautiful way to draw closer to Christ. The Psalms speak to each one of us as they express a range of emotions that we all experience…joy, sorrow, anger, repentance. And that is but one reason why the Psalms are great to pray with. The Psalms, while prayers themselves in some sense, also help us to pray, they help to lead us into deeper prayer as they reveal God’s heart to us all the more. One Psalm that I’m especially fond of is Psalm 127, in particular the first part of the Psalm as it reminds us of our need for God and His Blessing, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain to its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” For me, and I hope for you as well, this is a reminder of our need to have God at the center of everything we do, that without Him, all that we might do is done in vain. And yet the Psalm still recognizes the human work performed as well…by the builder, by the watchman. The work God has called you to, whatever it is in your state of life, is important. But we are reminded that all that we do is accomplished through God alone. May we always keep Him at the center of our lives. And so, I encourage you to think about how you might use the Psalms to enter more deeply into your own prayer life. And I encourage you to listen carefully to the Psalms proclaimed during the Liturgy as they are an integral part of the Liturgy itself and of the Word of God. May God’s peace be with you now and always.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Sunday, March 29, 2020:
Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern world from the Second Vatican Council reminds us that “all human activity, in daily jeopardy through pride and inordinate self-love, is to find its purification and perfection in the cross and resurrection of Christ.” All too often, we see pride and vanity in the encounters of the world. They stand in the way of forgiveness and healing, compassion and charity. They work against the building up of the Kingdom of God. Pride and vanity can creep into all of our lives. Maybe there is already evidence of it in yours. Left unchecked, pride and vanity become infectious and hurl us into a life of unhappiness where we replace God with ourselves as the center of our lives. Pride and vanity dismiss the great gifts given to us by God alone as mere objects to be used or consumed or manipulated and we find ourselves chasing after more and more and more to try to fill the void left by moving Christ from the center our life. Indeed we should take great care in doing the work that God has called us to do and be proud to do it. And we certainly love ourselves as we love God and others. This is neither pride nor vanity but rather a recognition of the great gifts and responsibilities bestowed upon us by God alone. I encourage you, especially during this season of Lent, to look closely at your own life and to be honest with yourself. How might you embrace humility more fully in order to weed out any pride that is keeping you from living a fully Christ-centered life? How might you remove the vanity in your life by growing your love of Christ through your encounters with others? Where can you show true compassion and charity more fully and what in your life is in need of forgiveness and healing? Christ has come for us so that we can fully embrace these challenges. We are called to live for Christ and indeed, all of our activity, from the ordinary to the extraordinary is to find its purification and perfection in the Paschal Mystery, the Life of Christ.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Saturday, March 28, 2020:
“The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask.” This quote is attributed to St. Albert the Great, a saint from the thirteenth century who was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church on December 16, 1931 by Pope Pius XI. As we live out our Christian lives, this quote from St. Albert the Great is a wonderful reminder to us of our need to place our full trust in the Lord and to be persistent and persevering in our faith and in our prayer. Sometimes things happen in our life and we might wonder just where God is in all of it. Things may seem to be so difficult that we just want to give up. Perhaps we’ve gone to the Lord in prayer time and again seemingly with no response, no answer. These are precisely the times that those words from St. Albert the Great are all the more critical in our lives. With the temporary fast from the Holy Eucharist, or the current slowing of social interaction, or fear of the unknown, or some other significant challenge that has come into your life, perhaps you have wondered where God is in all of this, perhaps you have felt like you are at your wits end. Take some time to consider your trust in God. Consider how persistent your confidence in God really is. Strive each day to increase your confidence in our Almighty God. In doing so, you will receive what you ask for with ever greater abundance. May God’s peace be with you now and always.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Friday, March 27, 2020:
What is the holiest thing you have ever encountered? C. S. Lewis once wrote “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” What a profound, beautiful, and true statement. In this particular time of challenge with the current virus situation, we have found ourselves, in part, separated from one another and our fast from the Holy Eucharist continues. That line from C.S. Lewis points to two especially important things for us…our desire and need for others and our desire and need for Christ in the Holy Eucharist. I urge you to really look at how you can be present to others in these times. We are united together in Christ through faith and although our personal encounters with others have been interrupted for a time, our desire and our need for others remain. There are many, many ways to be present to others, giving us the opportunity to recognize all the more the dignity and sanctity of all human life, flowing from the fact that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. And I urge you to also consider how you might recognize all the more Christ present in your life in the absence of the Holy Eucharist? Our fast from the Holy Eucharist should be bringing us closer to the Lord and into a deeper union with Him as we enter more and more into true repentance and conversion. Jesus commands us to love God and to love one another. The two are inseparable. We cannot truly and fully love God unless we love every other person unconditionally, unless we recognize that every other person is the holiest thing in our lives next to the Blessed Sacrament. And when we love every other person unconditionally, we then show our love for God. When you look upon another, may you see holiness, may you see the image and likeness of God. And when others look upon you, may they also see holiness, may they also see the image and likeness of God so that we might all be brought into the fullness of life.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Thursday, March 26, 2020:
Faith, Hope, and Love…the three Theological Virtues infused in us through Baptism, meant to bring about our true and eternal happiness. Faith is our response to God. To believe is to surrender to the Will of God and it requires a commitment of one’s whole self to God, freely and completely. In our suffering, the Lord works to bring our faith to perfection and although suffering is difficult, we can and do persevere through God’s abundant grace. Hope has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ and is made available to us through faith. Hope is not some kind of wishing but rather it is confident trust in God’s blessing and promise of Eternal Life. In any difficulty or challenge, hope should be immediately stirred up within us as we remain on guard against presumption and despair. Presumption is that prideful thinking that God’s salvation and forgiveness will be granted despite no real repentance and conversion. It disguises itself as hope as it destroys true faith. Despair is the opposite of hope and is often fueled by pessimism. Love (or charity) is the greatest of the Theological Virtues. God is Love itself and the way that leads to life is characterized by charity. Love is expressed in our words and our actions toward both God and toward one another. Moved by charity, one is able to love God above all things and to love our neighbor in a supernatural way just as Jesus Himself has commanded us. Charity is found in both great heroic deeds but also, and often times more often, in the simple daily acts of love…patience, kindness, compassion, gentleness. Indeed, charity is the source of the Christian life and the foundation of Christian holiness. Let us pray now and always for an increase in Faith, Hope, and Love so that we might come to the fullness of life and happiness and lead others to that same fullness.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Wednesday, March 25, 2020:
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” These are the words spoken by Mary in response to the Angel’s message that she would bear a son, not just any son, but the Son of God. The Church has celebrated today with great joy that encounter between Mary and the Angel, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The Annunciation’s central focus is on the Incarnation, that is, God becoming Man. Additionally, we can never overlook Mary’s role in this, her complete cooperation with God’s grace and His Will. Mary is a most perfect example for all of us in living out our Christian lives and of always saying yes to God’s Will no matter what it is. Mary is not so different from you. She is set apart for a particular role but you also are set apart for a particular role in God’s plan of salvation. No, it is not Mary’s role…that is hers. It is your role. And don’t think that Mary somehow had it so much easier, that she just wouldn’t understand things. Mary found herself young and with child though she had no relations with a man. Mary watched her Son Jesus grow and then watched His unimaginable suffering on His way to Calvary. And then Mary stood at the foot of the Cross and watched her Son die. By no means did Mary have it any easier than any of us. Yet she remained faithful to her yes. How? God gave her all that she needed to carry out His Will. Likewise, He gives us all that we need to carry out His Will, not our will, His Will. And so in these challenging times I encourage you to reflect on God’s Will for you and how you are responding to that. Finally, Mary is a wonderful intercessor for us. We invoke her maternal help in this time of pandemic and I encourage you to ask her to intercede for your own needs as well so that we may all carry out the Will of God in the world.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Tuesday, March 24, 2020:
Joy is interesting, isn’t it? Often times joy is misunderstood or misrepresented. Joy is sometimes confused with happiness, especially worldly happiness. Of course we recognize and give thanks for all of the good that God has bestowed upon us and upon the world in this earthly life. But true Christian joy is not worldly happiness. Joy is not tied to the fleeting moments of pleasure or wealth or power. Rather, joy is tied to our call to holiness and living out that call each and every day. And a life of holiness is not one of perfection. A life of holiness is not one absent of sorrow or trials or pain, suffering or challenges or grief. Rather, a life of holiness always seeks the Will of God, despite all of these things. And that holiness strengthens and increases our joy. Joy is our ability to rejoice which is where the word comes from originally. We rejoice in the hope that the Lord has given us through the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate and engage in each and every day. And joy radiates from us even in the midst of difficulty. We have found ourselves in a challenging time, a very unusual time for all of us to say the least. But do not let this challenge before us be an obstacle to your growing in holiness. Let it not overshadow your Christian joy. The world needs that Christian joy now and always. And so, I encourage you to really consider how you are carrying out the Will of God in your life each day. Consider how the Lord may be calling you to reach out to others in these challenging times (perhaps with a phone call, a note in a card, a trip to the store, or countless other ways). Look for ways to grow in your holiness, to do the Will of God all the more, so that your joy might be intensified and in turn radiate to others. St. Matthew in his Gospel writes “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” In striving to live this out each and every day, we will, without a doubt, have intense and lasting joy.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Monday, March 23, 2020:
Although today’s reflection is being pushed out a little late in the evening it gives us a great opportunity to reflect on something I urge all of us to do, a daily examination of conscience. And it is most fitting to do this at the end of each day. In it, yes, we acknowledge our own sinfulness, especially those times throughout the day when we turned away from the Lord and what He was calling us to. And we certainly recognize our need for God’s mercy. But the daily examination of conscience can be so much more. In doing your daily examination of conscience, I urge you to really take the time to reflect on the entirety of your day. The use of what St. Ignatius called “The Examen,” or an adaptation of it, may be useful. First, give thanks to God. As you go over your day, remember specific things that you are thankful for. Next, pray for God’s light, that you may see as He sees, asking for the grace to see His active presence in the day. Then, replay your day again, discovering where God was. Perhaps choose a moment or two and ask yourself, “Where was Jesus in this? What is God trying to say to me?” Then, express regret as you acknowledge before God the times in this day when you failed to respond to His generous love. Finally, look toward tomorrow, preparing yourself to meet God anew in the moments, places, and people of the next day, closing with a prayer. In these times of challenge and in all times, this is a great spiritual exercise to undertake and to make part of your life. You can do it individually but perhaps consider doing it as a family as well. What a beautiful way to end your day with your family. And the more we do a daily examination of conscience in this way, the more we will see God present and active in our life.
Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
By Monsignor Leo Enlow
One of the valuable lessons that I learned from the early days of my priesthood is the treasure that I had in my mother and father. Parents are the greatest of treasures and for a priest they are extremely important. For parents provide a home, somewhere the priest can always return for time away from the parish. They are a source of encouragement for they were always a phone call away. No matter what hour, I could call and find a ear to listen and a voice to encourage. I was blessed by my parents having been gifted with time with them—mom being 86 and dad being 89 when they died. But as so many gifts, what happens. We so often take them for granted until we no longer have them with us. So when their deaths did occur, needless to say I wasn’t quite ready. Yes I knew that life was not forever, but I was personally shaken when they were no longer a phone call away. I truly missed them, their encouragement, they always being there for me, and after they died, I had this yearning for them, praying in the meantime that they were with God in heaven.
Something similar as been happening in our society and in our Church. The greatest gift that Jesus Christ has gifted us was with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. As a child growing up, we never ever thought about missing Mass on the weekends. One just didn’t do it. If one did then confession was in order as missing Mass was a serious offense. And so as a cradle Catholic, one who was raised Catholic from infancy, we would come to the Eucharist each and every Sunday. This was our gift from God, and when gathered, this was our gift to Him. Yes, so often we would celebrate out of force of habit, we’d come to Church because that was what was expected. Perhaps we didn’t think of it as a gift—but it was. And it wasn’t until this coronavirus which has us sheltered down that we realize that this gift is missing from our lives. I miss celebrating it with you and for you, I miss your presence each and every weekend, and I miss our worship together as the St. Peter family. And you know, now that we cannot celebrate this gift publicly I think you and I will miss it even more. What we took for granted is now experienced as a void in our lives, a treasured missed by all of us. And perhaps as we feel this way, maybe it will help us refocus our lives, just as when my parents died I had to refocus my life. What we thought was always there now makes us realize that it is a treasure that should have never been taken for granted. Maybe each of us can grow in our appreciation of the presence of the Eucharist in our lives and see it as a gift that it is. Only then will this time away from it will be able to reap some positive benefits for us.
When we think of the Eucharist, I often think of Fr. Delix Michel and his people in our sister parishes in Haiti. The people in the mountain churches that he serves do not have Mass in their Church each weekend. Instead, Fr. Michel is able to get to some of the outlying mountain Churches maybe just once or twice a month. If these people in the mountain Churches come to his main church, they have to walk some five to ten miles to Passe de Rein. I thought to myself, yes, these people have a love for the Eucharist—some will walk this distance, others will be unable, but when they do celebrate it, they have a true appreciation if it as a gift from God.
So as we await the return of the Eucharist to a public celebration, and it will, let’s remember the people of Haiti who long for it as we do, yet, are unable to celebrate it as we do on a weekly basis. This is faith, this is commitment to our Church, and this is realizing how the Eucharist shapes, molds, and transforms each of us into the Body of Christ. As we fast from it because of the concern for our physical health, let’s grow in our yearning and longing for it as the Sacrament that provides food for the journey until we all reach our final destiny with God in heaven. May each of us see the Eucharist as a gift to be treasured and a gift to be appreciated, and perhaps we will never again take it for granted. May all of us in time appreciate it as a gift for years to come. Then and only then will this fast take root and help us grow.
Reflection by Fr. Aaron Kuhn for Saturday, March 21, 2020:
To whom shall we turn? In times of challenge and uncertainty, this may be a common question. Of course, we turn to Christ in all our needs for He is the giver of all that is good and the center of our lives. But we are reminded, also, of the Communion of Saints, whom we are united to as members of the Body of Christ. We look to the Saints in Heaven as models for us, models of holiness to which we are called, and we seek their intercession for our needs. Each one of us has a Universal Call to Holiness, a call to faithfully cooperate with God’s grace and to not just live a life of virtue but a heroic life of virtue. The Saints are perfect examples for us and powerful intercessors. In every age, God has raised up Saints. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that in especially difficult times, the Saints have always been the source and origin of renewal. God’s power is manifested in the Saints. You are called to holiness and heroic virtue. You are called to be a Saint. I encourage each of you to implore the intercession of the Saints in all your needs and the needs of the Church, the Body of Christ. Take some time each day to learn about a different Saint and how they lived that life of holiness that you are also called to. What Saint will you implore today? What Saint will you learn more about today? What will you do today and each day following to live a life of holiness and heroic virtue, reflecting Christ to the world?
Reflection by Father Aaron Kuhn for Friday, March 20, 2020:
Our Antiphons for our Lenten Daytime Prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours give us much to reflect on. The Midmorning Antiphon, “The time of penance has come, the time to atone for our sins and to seek our salvation,” reminds us of our need for repentance and conversion now and always, ceaselessly working for the salvation of our soul and the souls of others. The Midday Antiphon, “As I live, says the Lord, I do not wish the sinner to die but to turn back to me and live,” reminds us of God’s desire for each of us to spend Eternal Life with Him. The Midafternoon Antiphon, “Armed with God’s justice and power, let us prove ourselves through patient endurance” reminds the faithful that with God at the center of our lives, we not only can but do endure even in the most challenging times for it is the Lord that strengthens us. It is indeed a challenging time for all of us but we remain steadfast witnesses to Christ who gives us hope and desires for each of us the ultimate good, Eternal Life with Him. May these times of challenge help each one of us to recognize all the more our own need for repentance and conversion as we turn to the Lord in trust and confidence. Please know of our prayers for you and I urge each of you to keep one another in prayer as well. May the Lord give you comfort and peace now and always.