The three gifts of Holy Thursday

This morning, at the celebration of Lauds for Holy Thursday, the pastor here at Saint Anne’s in San Francisco shared in his reflection of the three gifts of Holy Thursday. These three gifts are: The Priesthood, The Eucharist, and The Great Commandment of “Love.” All of these gifts are given to us tonight as we commemorate the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper. At tonight’s Mass we will see these three gifts unfold in very symbolic ways all interweaving in one another.

Tonight, the Lord Jesus eats with his disciples the annual passover meal. This symbolizes the Jews freedom from slavery and bondage and brought into the “promised land” by Moses. Jesus becomes the sacrificial Lamb tonight to free us from our own slavery and bondage with the blood of the Cross. Tonight Jesus gives himself to us through his Body and Blood in the form of Bread and Wine. The ultimate sacrifice, the commandment of Love to give oneself freely out of love for another.

Then as the master, Jesus becomes the servant by washing the feet of his beloved disciples. This is the gift of the priesthood. Where a man comes “to serve and not to be served.” Jesus the priest sets the example for Priests and all people to be servants to one another. The gift of the priesthood is, yes, becoming a servant, but by the power of the Holy Spirit at ordination, a man become “in persona Christi,” in the person of Christ. He becomes Christ and does as Jesus does. The priest gives us each day Jesus’ Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is the commandment of love, the ultimate sacrifice, becoming a servant to another.

Jesus then tells us, “to love one another, as He loved us.” How are we to fulfill this commandment? We do this by becoming like Christ and imitating him. We become servants by washing each other’s feet and continue the mission which Jesus gives us in the Eucharist. At the end of tonight’s Mass, the Eucharist will be reposed to a side altar for adoration and prayer. Spend some time with Jesus. Pray to become a servant. Pray to become the gift of love. And, pray for your Priests that they too may be like Christ, the servant, the priest. Happy Holy Thursday!

This Easter, Catholics Come Home!


It’s kind of hard to believe that we are already in the fifth week of Lent. Just two more weeks to go until the great and solemn feast of Easter begins. As the “high holy days” approach this coming Sunday with Passion Palm Sunday leading up to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil we as the Church and as an individual walk with our Lord on his journey to Calvary. We all share in his bitter passion and even more in his glorious resurrection. Through His death, we have life. As we have journeyed through the desert these last 40 days we have focused on our relationship with Jesus deeply through our prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. We have also journeyed with our Brothers and Sisters who are preparing to profess our faith and begin living new lives as members of Christ’s holy and apostolic Church.

However, this is also a great time to walk with our brothers and sister who are no longer practicing the faith or who may have left the Church for whatever reason. Some may have been hurt, and rightly so, it’s ok for them to be angry with the Church. In these cases, all we can say is “I’m sorry.” Others may have just fallen out of the routine of going to Mass on Sundays. Well, it is our duty to follow through with the mission given to us from Christ to be his disciples and spread his gospel to “the ends of the world.” Why don’t we start with people we know and invite them back to Church. Statistics show that 1 of 4 Catholics attend Mass faithfully on Sunday. Personally, I find that a little alarming! So, in these final days of Lent, let’s go out there and simply invite someone back to Church this Easter and show them the joy in the risen Christ through the Catholic community. This Easter, Catholics Come Home!

Below is a brief video welcoming Catholics home. More information can be found at www.catholicscomehome.org 

The Sacrament of Confirmation

Last Saturday, Jeremy and I attended the Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation at our ministry placement parish of Our Lady of the Angels in San Francisco. There were 68 young people receiving the Sacrament that beautiful Bay Area Morning. As we pulled up to the Church parking lot, we could see that it was getting full and there was a sense of electricity in the air. I personally think that was the Holy Spirit making himself ready to flow over these young men and women. It was a buzz! Mass began in a standing room only Church with the Auxiliary Bishop presiding. He gave a very inspiring homily, of which I will be blogging about too in the near future. Anyway, as the Bishop was ministering the Sacrament I myself had flashbacks to my own Confirmation on that warm June Saturday afternoon. I wondered, “Do these young people know what is happening?” “Do they know the graces which are being bestowed on them?” I thought this, because I gave this group a talk on what it means to live a life as a fully initiated member of the faith. I also thought about my own life and how am I now as a seminarian living out my Confirmation. Below is the text of the talk which I gave to these young men and women of God. May it be a reflection for us who are Confirmed to live out fully our Christian lives and a reflection and inspiration for those who might be getting ready for Confirmation or any other Sacrament. Please pray for our young people, they are our future Church.

 

 

Confirmation

 

            We hear at the end of each Mass we celebrate the words of dismissal that goes, “Go and glorify God with your lives.” Through this we are sent forth to go and do just that. Glorify God with our lives. In a few days, you will be confirmed and become fully initiated members of God’s holy and apostolic Church. So what? You may ask, is the point of this talk. Well for the last two years, you have been hearing talks, coming to weekly meetings, retreats, and doing various service projects in preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

 

            The Catechism states that, “by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” So, by Confirmation we are fulfilling our baptism vows and now glorifying God with our lives. Just as those words we hear at the end of Mass so too can that be applied to Confirmation. Confirmation is not a graduation from coming to youth group, or doing service projects, or, God forbid coming to Church. We now have a mission. In past years, it was very common that upon receiving Confirmation a young man or young woman like you was called a “soldier for Christ.” This can still be applied to you today. We must go into the world radiating Christ’s light and love to all.

 

            How can this be done, you may ask. Well, after I was confirmed at age 16, I helped out in the Youth Group and became a Catechist. I also became a lector and other ministries of the parish, which essentially, lead to my entrance into the Seminary and discernment of my vocation Priesthood. Confirmation and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that you will receive will also play a very important role in truly knowing your vocation in life. Some of you in here may be already feeling a call to serve God, his Church, and her people as a Priest or Religious Sister or Brother. Some of you may be called to love God and serve him through one person be that a husband or wife in the Sacrament of Matrimony and also raise families to love and serve God. And finally some might be called to the single life and love and serve the Lord and the mission of his Church.

 

Well, my brothers and sisters in the faith, I encourage you not to let what happens next week Saturday be an end. When you hear those words, “Go and glorify God with you lives,” go, and do just that. As full members of the Catholic Church go, and learn more and fall in love with our faith, get active at the parish by becoming a youth minister, a lector, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and other ministries there may be here. Be active not only at church but also in the community. Show them that you have the love of Christ within you and the joy you have by being a Catholic Christian. Be a sign of hope in a world and society that at times have no hope.  And most importantly, stay close to the Church and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession. Trust God in all things and have courage for he will never abandon you.