Category Archives: Reflections For The Heart

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Corpus Christi

IMG_2205 [767296]Sunday the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  Our community participated in the Eucharistic Procession from St. Stanislaus Catholic Church to Corpus Christi Catholic Church, through the streets of Buffalo’s historic Polonia district, followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Malone. 

It was a beautiful day as we processed, with Our Lord, through the streets singing Eucharistic hymns in English and Polish.  Jesus’ words in the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of John – “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” – took on a whole new meaning for me as people began to come out of their houses and walk down the street to witness this beautiful celebration.  My heart was moved in thinking how powerful it was, for those who lived in the neighborhood we walked through, to have Jesus walking down their street – the graces they would receive, and the blessings that Jesus was pouring out upon them as we walked past each house, whether I saw them or not.  It spoke to me about how we are called, in the mission of the New Evangelization, to bring Jesus, like this Eucharistic Procession, into the streets, meeting people where they are at in everyday life.

IMG_2207 [767298]In Bishop Malone’s homily, he spoke of the beauty of these processions – how some people walk before the Blessed Sacrament and some walk behind.  He said we are all called to follow Christ, but, at the same time, we are also called to go before, to be heralds, just as John the Baptist was, of the message and love of Christ.

As we continue to journey in this liturgical season of Ordinary Time, and especially as we approach the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may we more ardently strive to, first, be followers of Christ Jesus so that we can, also, be heralds of His love and mercy to the world.

Written by: Alycia

 

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Mighty and Meaty

This past Monday we celebrated the first anniversary of our foundation as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful. We held a fundraiser dinner at J’s White Elephant which was a huge success.

I think back over this past year and I can’t believe how much has happened in such a short time, while also feeling like it has been so long since our mass of foundation in 2015. We have had a crazy ride, full of all sorts of emotions, adventures, and great memories. This past year had its share of hardship and pain, but it also held countless blessings for us and immeasurable joy. If there are two things I have come to realize over the course of this last year, it’s this: first, that God’s merciful love is greater than I could ever possibly fathom with my human mind, and second, that Divine Providence will always find a way to pull me through. God reveals Himself to us every day in the smallest ways that a lot of times we don’t even notice. I have been thinking a lot lately about how “watered down” faith seems to be in the lives of Americans today and that causes us to miss the true beauty of God. We have a hard time coming to the realization of who God really is to us and how He loves us when we stop diving to the depths of faith and let ourselves become content with the things on the surface.

I am currently reading a book titled Saint John Paul The Great and His Five Loves by Jason Evert. It is one of the most inspiring books I have ever come across. Jason Evert gives a beautiful portrayal and in depth look at the life of JPII and what his passions were. One thing that JPII was known for was his idea of the Theology of the Body, which is basically the respect for the human person and protecting the dignity of the human body. He dives into the Fall of Man in Genesis and totally redefines the story of Adam, Eve, and the most famous apple ever known to mankind. For me, the story of the fall of man has been just that, a story. When I hear it I often play the scene out like a cartoon in my mind. Adam looks much like Jon, the guy from the comic strip Garfield. Eve looks very similar to him, except her hair is longer and actually just long enough to strategically fall over her chest to cover her. The garden is very green and organized and there is one tree in it that is full of apples. Hanging from the tree is a slithering, green snake, which portrays the devil. I have heard this story so many times since my childhood that I always see the same images, think the same thoughts about what is taking place, and know it all in every detail from beginning to end. What I never realized until I just read this book five days ago is that I have been missing the real point to this part of Adam and Eve’s life. It has always been, in my mind, a sort of hokey story in which two naked people upset God by eating an apple and now the whole world suffers due to their disobedience. It never really made much sense to me anyways seeing as how many of the women I know are terrified of snakes, so why Eve would be conversing with a serpent to begin with is beyond me. None the less, that’s the story. But JPII in his great wisdom shares the idea that Adam and Eve could be naked without shame towards one another because of their purity of heart, mind, body, and soul. It allowed them to love one another with a free, faithful, life-giving love, in which they did not view each other as objects to be used but persons to be loved and cared for. In whatever way Adam and Eve sinned that day, whether it be through the eating of an apple or something else entirely, they made the choice to partake in the Tree of this Life. That choice opened up the whole world to the ‘unhappy inheritance of the darkness of intellect’, where love becomes lust, purity becomes impurity, and all sorts of vanity, greed, and evil things of this world enter into the mind and heart.

I don’t know about you, but the Fall of Man has much more significance to me now. It’s no longer just a story of an angry God and His disobedient children. It has much more depth to it, much more meat to chew on. JPII basically re-proposes this scripture story to us and it’s honestly so cool and so much more than I ever thought that story could mean. He took this passage from the Bible and broke it down to get to the root of what really took place and what God is really trying to speak to our hearts. The cool thing is, that this passage is from the 3rd chapter of 50 chapters, in the 1st book of 73 books that make up the Holy Word of God. Imagine if we broke down every bit of scripture and took something this deep from it… What would it speak to us? How much more would we have to learn?

That’s the whole idea of the New Evangelization. The Church is taking the same old stories, the same old teachings, and re-presenting them to the culture of today to show us their mighty-meaty depth and meaning.

My hope and prayer for myself now, as well as for all of you, is that we no longer gloss over the stories we know so well. I pray that we can all dive in and really sink our teeth into the fullness of Truth. There is so much to come to understand and to fall in love with. There is so much meaning and beauty to everything Our God does. Have fun discovering it. Make an adventure out of discovering Him. The more you come to know Him, the more real He becomes to you, and the more the world around you comes alive in the way He created it to be from the beginning of time.

Written by: Lindsey

 

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Wait For It

While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for ‘the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit’.”  

Acts 1:4-5

 

We live in a culture that tells us that we must constantly be on the go, working towards or doing something.  Waiting can be a difficult thing; it requires a certain level of patience and the self-control to be still. I’ve heard it said often in my life, good things come to those who wait.  Anticipation gets intense at times, but waiting provides us a certain level of appreciation that we would not have been able to have had we not waited.

This Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.  Jesus tells them to wait for the promise of the Father.  Up to this point they have yet to have an intimate encounter with the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Good things come to those who wait! In this case, a GREAT One came to them.  The gift of the Holy Spirit transformed the lives of the Apostles.  They were no longer afraid. They went out into the streets, preaching without fear! Our spiritual lives sometimes can mirror that of the Apostles before the coming of the Holy Spirit, being held in our own upper room, behind a closed door. But just like the Apostles’ lives were transformed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, our lives, too, must be transformed!

It is through the Holy Spirit that we understand Divine Truths.  In my own life, I’ve noticed that as my relationship with the Holy Spirit has deepened so has my understanding of the Scriptures and my love for the Liturgy.  The Holy Spirit enhances our prayers and enables us to witness to the Truth in a way that we didn’t before.

As we continue to prepare for the Feast of Pentecost, let us pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, individually and as a Church.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten us with a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God, fortify our hearts to boldly proclaim the love of God, and guide us to be humble witnesses to the Mercy of God.

Come Holy Spirit!

 

To learn more about how you can prepare for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit in your life this Pentecost, check out: http://thewildgooseisloose.com/pentecost-vigil

Written by: Alycia

 

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Reflection from Community Retreat

This past weekend we were blessed to have a community retreat.  Fr. Andrew, superior of the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance, led our retreat. Throughout our weekend of prayer, we had sessions on Divine Mercy, the evangelical counsels, Our Lady and the Marian Vow and community life. 

One thing that stood out to me from many beautiful points Fr. Andrew made throughout the weekend was a statement made during the session on Our Lady.  He said:

“What is most personal is most universal.”

He went on to say:

“We’re all broken in different ways, but that brokenness is what helps to heal others. When someone close to us dies and we are not able to be present at the time of death, a frequently asked question is, ‘what were their last words?’  Why? Because when we die, we share what is most important to us.  In the 19th Chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus hangs, dying on the cross.  He’s at the pinnacle of salvation – every moment at this point counts – and Jesus says, ‘Behold your mother’.  This is what is most important to Jesus, His mother.  The Scriptures continue to say: ‘from that hour the disciple took her into his home’.  In the Greek, it literally translates into: ‘from that hour the disciple took her into his own’.  ‘Into his own’ what? His home, His life, His work. Into his own everything! True devotion to Mary comes from Jesus himself. What is true in the order of nature becomes true in the order of grace. Not only is she the mother of Jesus but she is also the mother of the Church. Early Church Fathers called the baptismal font the ‘womb of Mary’.”

May we take Mary into our everything!

 

 

Written by Alycia

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Spring In Buffalo

“If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” St. Therese

Here in Buffalo, we know all about the loveliness of spring.  We see those first bright rays of sun and feel a warm breeze and hope is born anew in our hearts!  Winter will not last forever!  As the tulips and daffodils pop out of the ground, we know of the joys of new life and the pains of difficult growth.  We can realize the peace of being who God created us to be, as He created us to be, and that He is faithful.  The work He does in our hearts will be brought to fulfillment, to peace and joy if we open ourselves up to Him.  Here in Buffalo, snow may still come even sometime into May, but whether God chooses to send us sunshine, rain or snow, it all comes with a shower of His grace!

 

rose

 

Written by: Kristen

 

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The Sands of Mercy

We have been very busy the last couple of weeks! We apologize for the lack of posts, but we thank you for your continued prayer and support. We drove down to Atlanta, Georgia to put on a women’s day of reflection and to assist with a life teen retreat. It was a wonderful time! We are all back in town now and returning to our normal schedules. Below is our reflection for this week:

The devotion of candle lighting is one that I grew up with. Whenever we heard of a person that was ill or having a difficulty my mother would say ‘We will light a candle for you.’ The next Sunday we would make our way over to the statue of the Blessed Mother and I would ask my mother if I could light the candle.

 One of the reasons I enjoyed this so much was because after you got to find the candle closest to the statue of Our Lady and light it you got to take that wooden stick and put it into the sand and watch the flame die in an instant. Recently I was reflecting on this. The sand is an important part of the votive candle set up on a simple practical level so the wooden sticks do not keep burning and making embers in the church. It protects the church from destruction by fire. Fire is an amazing thing. It provides light, warmth, and the ability to cook food when contained, but when left for wild it only brings destruction and burns uncontrollably until extinguished. The former is beneficial and needed and the latter is devastating and destructive.

We know that Christ ‘is the light of the world’ (John 8:12) and that we have His light within us and that we are called to give that light to the world and not hide it under a bushel (Luke 11:33). The light of Christ within us is much like that votive candle in our churches. Our light is burning brightly within us and it is surrounded by the glass jar(Christ)  to protect it. This fire within us is beneficial and needed. Sometimes we can have another fire burning within us- the fire of selfishness, greed, envy, lust, and vice. This fire is devastating and destructive.

Let us reflect upon our own hearts with the sands of Mercy during this jubilee year and seek the light that shines within us, the fire burning within. If we find a part that is burning wild let the sand of Mercy extend and be poured out upon you to extinguish it in a minute – that we all may be beacons of light to the world so that we may be the face of Christ to all we meet!

Written by Nicolette
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Alleluia!

“We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” –St. Augustine

 

On Easter Sunday we attended Mass at Our Lady of Victory Basilica.  The pastor began his homily by pointing out an image of St. Augustine and spoke the words above. 

“Alleluia” was the proclamation of the Apostles and the song of the first Christians.  It was the heartbeat and breath of the first martyrs – without it they wouldn’t have had a reason to lay down their lives. The simple word, “Alleluia”, gives meaning to our day to day lives – the joy, the sorrow, the love, the pain and suffering, and the peace.

“Alleluia” reminds us, in the words of St. Therese, that “the world is thy ship and not thy home.” It redirects our thoughts and actions towards the Almighty.  Truly understood, it empties us of self and fills us with Love.

My prayer this Easter Season is that we become a living example of the first “Alleluia”. I pray we remember that we don’t live in a perpetual Good Friday; rather, we sing of the glorified wounds of Our Lord and therefore sing of our own glorified wounds.

As the Easter Octave comes to an end this weekend, may we take the joys and blessings of Our Alleluia into the ‘ordinary time’ and routine of our lives.

We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!

 

Written by: Alycia

 

 

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Good Friday

A blessed Good Friday to you – all of our relatives, friends, benefactors and brothers and sisters in Christ who find yourself on our website this day.

On this most Holy Day where we silence our hearts to enter into deepest prayer, where we fast to remind ourselves of the suffering of Our Lord, where we contemplate the Holy Mysteries of our faith I invite you to pray the stations with us.

From one Jubilee Year to another these stations by Pope St. John Paul II are moving, heartwarming, and call us out of ourselves to the service of others in love.  Come enter in to the mysteries of the Passion of Our Lord!

The Stations of the Cross by JPII (2000)

 

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Holy Thursday

But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.  For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.” –John 16:7

Holy Thursday is Our Lord’s final preparation for His disciples.  In tonight’s Gospel John says, “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1) He loves them to the end.  He loves them completely – absolutely.  Tonight we have the beautiful opportunity to enter into the love of God in a more solemn way.  The celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper takes us to the upper room in Jerusalem.  We, too, experience this preparation the disciples had through the Mass – we participate in the washing of the feet, hear Jesus’ words to the apostles to strengthen and fortify their hearts, and take part in the Eucharistic feast.

Pope St. John Paul II said, “The washing of the feet and the Sacrament of the Eucharist…[are] two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples so that, Jesus says, ‘As I have done…so also you must do.”

May we enter into this mystery of love! May we allow our feet to be washed by the Servant of All so that we can be a servant to all.  May we allow Jesus’ words (John 13-17) to strengthen and fortify our hearts so that we may not waver during times of temptation and trial.  May we enter more deeply into the Eucharistic feast, abandoning all of our cares, worries, fears and anxieties by running to Him who is the source of Life. 

Tonight we are promised the gift of the Advocate – the one who led the Apostles into the streets, bold and fearless.  Today is not a celebration of the end, but rather a celebration of the beginning.  May our lives reflect this truth!

 

Come, Holy Spirit!

Written by: Alycia
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Grumble, Grumble

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Philippians 2:14-18

 

“Do all things without grumbling”. That isn’t so easy to do in everyday life, much less during Lent. There are so many things to grumble about! Money, or the lack of it. City traffic that is just out to keep you from getting where you need to be. The waiter at the restaurant getting your order wrong. The water in the shower being a little colder than we would like. Someone smacking their food at the breakfast table. Not being able to eat meat on Fridays… There are also many things to grumble about that are much bigger and more serious than all those. Losing a daughter in a car accident. A husband and father being hospitalized… again. School fundraising money being stolen. A mom battling cancer for the fifth time.

This past weekend we babysat five children under the age of 7. We were trying to pick out a movie to watch Saturday evening and we let them all vote on the film. They ended up choosing to watch Elf (yes, the Christmas movie). One of the girls, Avila, began to cry because she didn’t want to watch that movie. Marc, the three year old boy, also did not want to watch it, however he did not cry. He simply sat up with a huge smile on his face and declared “I.. am not ..cryin!”. A simple way to choose joy in the midst of a moment worthy of grumbling!

The problem is that when we face situations worthy of grumbling and questioning, we tend to look away from Jesus. When we look away from Jesus it is much easier to grumble. ‘Why this, why that? It’s not fair. How come? I don’t deserve this. I don’t want that’. This is a huge test of the Christian. Even now during Lent, if we forget the reason that we are making sacrifices and fasting, it becomes very difficult to carry on in our Lenten practices.

The questions that we must ask ourselves during the hard times of life are not “why”, but instead “how”. How can I be joyful? How can I grow in this? How can I offer this up? How can I unite my suffering to Christ? How can I be a witness to sacrificial love for the sake of those around me?

The key to this is for us to act in the fullness of our identity, “blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” We take hold of these difficult times and rejoice in suffering, offering up everything in joy and love so that “in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” Every suffering, from the slightest annoyance to the greatest heart ache, can lead to an eternal peace and end in everlasting  joy.

We won’t always understand suffering, and that is ok, because the purpose of suffering is not to help us grow in understanding, but rather to grow in love, service, prayer, and unity. Keep your eyes on the King and remember who you are, a prince (or princess) of the Kingdom. A Kingdom where suffering is no more. A Kingdom where smiles and hugs abound. A Kingdom of true peace and rest. A Kingdom of love and laughter, praise and glory. A Kingdom worth dying for.

 

Written by: Lindsey

 

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