Divine Disturber

12-28-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today’s Gospel (Luke 2:22-40), we hear the beautiful account of the presentation of Christ in the temple. A major figure in this particular Gospel passage is Simeon, a righteous man who was awaiting the coming of the Savior. When Simeon saw Jesus, he realized that this child was the long awaited Savior and spoke a prophecy to Mary. He said to the Mother of God: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted - and you yourself a sword will pierce - so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” What does this prophecy mean?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote about this prophecy in his famous book, “Life of Christ.” In this book, Bishop Sheen notes that Simeon’s prophecy is proclaiming that Christ will “provoke human hearts either to good or evil.” In other words, Christ is a polarizing figure who will either draw out the best in you or expose the worst in you. This is why He is destined for the fall and rise of many. Bishop Sheen elaborates further to say that the closer a human heart comes to an encounter with Christ, the more aware that human heart becomes of its own sinfulness. As a result of this awareness, the person will either then ask for God’s mercy and find peace or turn against Christ because he/she is not ready to give up their sinfulness. Seeking Christ’s mercy and receiving His peace will be the rise of many. Rejecting God because of attachment to sin will be the fall of many.

The question placed before us today in light of this Gospel is, “How will my heart respond to Christ?” Will an encounter of Christ lead me to God’s mercy and peace, or will it fill my heart with fear because of my unwillingness to change? Is my heart fertile ground or hard rock?

Jesus Christ, the “Divine Disturber” seeks to stir up our hearts so that we might let go of all that is not of God so that we might experience fulfillment and peace. This is why he came into the world. This is why he became a little child. This why he died on the Cross. Our hearts are restless until they rest in Jesus Christ. May God make our hearts fertile ground this Christmas season so that we might know the peace of the Savior.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The One Thing Necessary

12-21-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Luke 1:26-38), we hear the Scriptural account of the Annunciation, the encounter of Mary with the Archangel Gabriel, where she consents to the Lord's invitation to become the Mother of God. Recently, I came across a beautiful painting of this Scriptural event that I would like to share with all of you. The painting is called, "The Annunciation," and it is by Henry Ossawa Tanner, an early 20th century African-American artist from Pennsylvania. The original can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

There are two aspects of Tanner's portrayal of the Annunciation that I appreciate. First, I appreciate the location of the Blessed Mother at the edge of her bed. This detail beautifully captures Mary's readiness to respond to the Lord's invitation. Even in her sleep, Mary is ready to arise to answer the call of the Lord. Nothing stands in her way from saying "yes" to God. This painting invites us to ask similar questions about ourselves. How ready am I to respond to God's call? What obstacles st and in my way from saying "yes" to Jesus Christ?

The second aspect that I greatly appreciate about this painting is Mary's posture. Mary is in a position of humble receptivit y in the face of the glory of St. Gabriel. At the edge of her bed, Mary sits peacefully with her hands folded in her lap, with her gaze upon the light of St. Gabriel. Her arms are not folded across her chest as if to reveal any kind of doubt or frustration with the Archangel or his message. She is not cowering in the corner trying to hide her face or body from the bright light. She is not in a position of defense or fear. Rather, she is in a position of humble receptivity. She is listening attentively to the profound message being delivered to her, pondering the great significance of it. This humble receptivity is what allows her to say the powerful words that transformed human history: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

Mary's posture invites us to ponder our own receptivity to the Lord. Have I put myself in a position where I am open to the Lord's voice? Do I make time for prayer everyday so that I can hear what God is trying to say to me? Father Thomas Dubay, S.M. once wrote:

Mediocre people often have a tinge of religion about them, but it is only a tinge. They take their religion as it comes. They may pray and worship more or less regularly, and they usually stay clear of publicly disgraceful crimes, but they are lukewarm, colorless. Seldom or never do they read a serious book about prayer or study to learn more about God and his plans, to discover how to be humble and chaste and patient. They are always too busy for the one thing necessary.

Does my mediocrity keep me from the Lord? Am I too busy for the one thing necessary? How can I become more receptive to God's call?

Brothers and sisters, as we finish our preparations for the coming of Jesus Christ in just a few short days, may we place ourselves in a position of humble receptivity so that we might always be ready to hear God's voice and respond to His call for our lives.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898, Philadelphia Museum of Art


12-14-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the third Sunday of Advent we continue our reflection on the person of John the Baptist. In today's Gospel (John 1:6-8, & 19-28), the priests and Levites ask John the Baptist a crucial question: "Who are you?" His answer to their question is interesting: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord." He is not the prophet Elijah. He is not the Messiah. He is merely the voice, in other words, the messenger. His identity is wrapped up in his message. He seeks nothing for himself. Everything is about the message he is called to proclaim.

In a way, all of us are called to be messengers. The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Mission Activity in the Church, Ad Gentes, reminds us of this call: "All Christians…wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they put on in Baptism, and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation, so that others, seeing their good works, might glorify the Father and more perfectly perceive the true meaning of human life and the universal solidarity of mankind" (11). In other words, through the visible witness of our lives, we are called to be messengers like John the Baptist.

How do we become better messengers? The answer to this question lies in our relationship to the message itself. In order to give a greater witness to a message, we must first come to know and love the subject of the message. In the case of the Christian faith, the subject of the message is the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, to be a messenger of Christ, we must first come to know Him and love Him.

There are many ways to grow in our relationship with Christ. First, we come to know Christ in prayer. We become greater messengers of the Gospel by spending more time in prayer. It is in prayer where Jesus Christ strengthens our souls. Maybe an hour each month (or even each week) in Adoration would be a good way for us to grow in Christ?

Second, we can come to know Christ in the teachings of the Church. The Church is an extension of Christ and continues His presence through her teachings. We can become better messengers by taking time to learn more about our faith. Maybe signing up for one of our Tuesday morning book/Bible studies, or our Thursday evening Catholicism series, or our Saturday morning speaker series would help us grow in our understanding of the faith?

Third, we can come to know Christ by sharing our faith with others. It is amazing how much Christ transforms our lives when we choose to speak about Christ with the people in our lives. Sometimes we are met with opposition when we do this. However, a little opposition might be the catalyst we need to get more serious about our faith. Could we really grow in our faith without challenges? Maybe we could invite someone to Mass next weekend? Maybe the good news of Jesus Christ might be what our struggling co-worker needs to hear?

Brothers and sisters, we are called by God to be messengers of His Son, Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid of this beautiful calling. Be with Christ in prayer. Know what Christ teaches through His Church. Share your faith in Christ with others. Let John the Baptist be your guide.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

St. John the Baptist

12-05-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Every year in joyful anticipation for the coming of Christ we take time to reflect on the person and mission of John the Baptist. In today's Gospel (Mark 1:1-8), Mark begins by reading to us the call of Isaiah the prophet to "Prepare the way of the Lord" and "make straight his paths." In Isaiah, this particular calling was God's way of filling his people with hope by announcing that their time of exile was almost over and inspiring them to remove any obstacles from their relationship with Him that might keep them from returning to their homeland. However, in Mark's Gospel, this calling from Isaiah is reworded in such a way that it is now redirected from God's people to God's Son, Jesus Christ. It is the words of a Father to His Son, letting His Son know that the way is being prepared for His coming. It is in light of the coming of Christ, the Son of God, that we discover the mission and identity of John the Baptist. He is called to prepare the way for Christ to come into the hearts of God's people.

How does John the Baptist achieve this mission of preparing the way for Christ? First, he accomplishes it from his place of origin: he comes from the desert. This is a significant detail and one that is of no coincidence. Although we live in a desert, the desert in Scripture is a symbol of loneliness and deprivation. It is a symbol of being stripped away of worldly pleasures and comforts. John the Baptist's mission is one that comes completely from God, not from himself. He appears in the desert to demonstrate this truth. He has no worldly glory or appearance. Thus, he is dressed in camel's hair. In this way, his message cannot be misunderstood to be his own. The success of his message cannot be attributed to his great personality or demeanor. He is a poor and dirty man that comes from the desert.

Second, John the Baptist accomplishes his mission of preparing the way for Christ by his choice of words. His words are not directed toward the greatness of himself (although Jesus tells us in Luke 7:28 that there is no one born of women greater than him). Rather, his words are those of repentance and humility: "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals." His words point away from his own power and might toward the power and might of the Son of God who is to bring hope to God's people.

Inspired by the person and mission of John the Baptist, we are called today to reflect on how well we prepare the way for Christ. Do our words and actions prepare the way for Christ to fill His people with hope? Do we empty ourselves in such a way that Christ is free to work in and through us? Let us pray today that the mission of John the Baptist might become our own; that we might empty ourselves of worldly glory and become "poor in spirit," so that our poverty might make room for Christ to perform great and mighty deeds.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The Virtue of Patience

11-28-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the beginning of a new Liturgical year, the first Sunday of Advent. The season of Advent is a season of anticipation, a season of holy waiting, where we wait with joyful anticipation for the coming of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ at Christmas and the return of Jesus Christ at the end of the world.

In a season of waiting, the virtue of patience is always essential. We must patiently wait for Christ. Patience is something we struggle with in our modern culture. Simply put, we don't like to wait. We want things to happen immediately. It is for this reason that I think Advent is an important season for us.

We must always remember that God is patient with us, and He asks in return that we be patient with Him. Often times we expect God to act immediately and we become frustrated with Him when it appears as if He is not acting this way. It is in these moments where we must remember that God's grace works more like a crock pot than a microwave. Many times God chooses to work slowly over time with precision. The slow working nature of God's grace may not please us. However, although it may not please us, it is always what is best for us.

Our culture needs a greater outpouring of the virtue of patience. Maybe this Advent season, we could ask God in prayer that he begin this outpouring on our culture by helping us grow in patience. Maybe we could be the start of a "patience revolution." It has to start somewhere. Why not with us?

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The True King of Our Lives

11-21-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next week we will begin a new Liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent. Today's solemnity was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. The purpose for the establishment of this celebration was to provide a response to 20th century nationalism and secularism. Pope Pius XI wanted the people of God to know that although most governments were no longer Christian, Christ still remains the true king of our lives. In his encyclical, Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI reminds us that Christ desires to reign in our minds, wills, hearts, and bodies. What does this mean?

Christ reigns in our minds when the truth of the Gospel becomes the lens through which we understand the meaning of all things. It is through Jesus Christ that all things were created. Thus, it is through Him that we come to know the purpose of existence. Science can tell us how the world was made, but only Jesus Christ can give us the meaning behind why the world was made. Biology can tell us how we were created, but only Jesus Christ can tell us our vocation, the purpose of our existence.

Christ reigns in our wills when we have true freedom. In our modern world, freedom is understood as the ability to do whatever we want. Unfortunately, this is not true freedom. We are truly free, when we are free to choose the good. Sin enslaves us. It pr events us from being free to choose what is good for us. Christ reigns in our wills when we are free from sin and are able to say "yes" to the Gospel. The gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift that frees us from sin so that we are free to choose Christ.

Christ reigns in our hearts when we desire Him above all things. St. Augustine once said about our Lord, "Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you." Christ reigns in the heart, when the heart finds rest in Christ. Every human being longs for communion with God. Christ is king of our hearts when we place our desire for Him above our desire for earthly things. This is why we often undergo various penances in Advent and Lent, so that we might always give preference to the desire for spiritual things.

Christ reigns in our bodies when we seek to serve rather than be served. The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, tells us that "man…cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself" (24). The truth of our existence is that we were created to be selfless, not selfish. We are made to serve. Christ reigns in our bodies when we fight our selfish inclinations and seek to live a life at the service of the Gospel. We discover our authentic selves only when we learn to make a gift of ourselves.

As we celebrate the end of another Liturgical year and beginning of a new one, let us be mindful of Christ's desire to be the king of our lives. May we allow Christ to reign in our minds, wills, hearts, and bodies.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Be Not Afraid

11-16-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (Mt. 25:14-30), the servant who received one talent gave the excuse of "fear" as the reason why he refused to do anything with this talent: "Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground."

How often do we find ourselves acting out of fear? How many times have we let the following fearful thoughts keep us from living our faith? What if they call me a…(insert slanderous term here)…for standing up for my faith? What if they think I'm weird for praying in public? What if I invite them to Mass and they say "no" and then it is always awkward between us? What if they don't take me seriously because they know I'm a Catholic? What if try to avoid this sin and I fail? Won't that make me a hypocrite?

It is unfortunate when we let fear keep us from discipleship with Jesus Christ. When it comes to living our faith, God does not want us to be afraid. How do we know this? The answer is found in Scripture. The Bible says the words, "Do not be afraid," in the following passages: Genesis 21:17 & 43:3, Exodus 20:20, Numbers 14:9, Deuteronomy 3:2 & 7:18, Joshua 8:1 & 10:25, 1 Kings 17:3, 2 Kings 6:16, 2 Chronicles 32:17, Tobit 6:18, 1 Maccabees 3:22, 2 Maccabees 7:29, Proverbs 3:25, Luke 1:30, 5:10, & 12:4, Matthew 1:20, 10:26, 14:27, 17:17, & 28:10, Mark 6:50, John 6:20, Acts 18:9, & 28:24, & Hebrews 13:6.

We should never let fear keep us from living our faith. The servant in the Gospel was afraid of failure. He was afraid of being unsuccessful. When faced with possible failure, it is important for us to remember that what we may consider to be a failure, the Lord may consider to be a success. Take the Cross for example. The Cross is a worldly failure, but a heavenly success. It won for us eternal salvation, which means nothing for this world, but everything for the next world.

Brothers and sisters, be not afraid to live your faith. Be not afraid of worldly failure. Seek to be faithful, not successful. The Lord will bless you for your witness. May God one day say to us the same glorious words we heard in today's Gospel, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Mother and Head of the Church

11-07-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Mother and Head of the Church

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. Why are we ignoring the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time to celebrate some Basilica in Rome? The answer to this question can be found on the Latin inscription at its entrance: Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput (Of all the Churches in the city and in the world this is the mother and head).

Following Constantine's legalization of the Catholic faith in the early 4 th century, the land upon which this basilica is built (land that once belonged to Plautus Lateranus) was donated to the Catholic Church for the construction of a temple for public worship and a private residence for the Pope. As a result of this donation, the Basilica of St. John Lateran (originally named Basilica Salvatoris – The Basilica of the Savior) became the cathedral Church of Rome and is still its cathedral today. Since this Basilica is the Mother Church of Rome, we honor its history and significance with a special celebration.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this Basilica is the series of nineteen-foot-high statues of Christ and His Apostles at the top of the entrance. These statues are so large that you can see them from various points in the city of Rome. These statues remind us that the presence of the Apostles watches over the Church of Rome by watching over her skies. We know through the promise of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit that God offers special protection over the Roman Catholic Church (Matthew 16:18). The gates of hell shall never prevail against her. When we celebrate the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, we are celebrating this promise and protection.

In a special way, let us thank God today for the blessing of the Catholic Church and for always protecting her and guiding her. Let us thank God for the multitude of saints who offer us holy examples to follow and intercessions to guide us toward a more profound encounter of Jesus Christ. May the Apostles continue to watch over the skies of the Church of Rome!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The Holy Souls in Purgatory

10-31-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the solemnity of All Souls Day. It is a day for us to focus on the importance of praying for all those who have died. Why do we pray for the dead? When we die, don't we all go straight to heaven? What need do they have for our prayers?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "all who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (par. 1030). The Church derives this teaching from both Sacred Scripture (1 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Peter 1:7, and 2 Maccabees 12:46) and Sacred Tradition [St. John Chrysostom (407), St. Gregory the Great (604), the Second Council of Lyons (1274), the Council of Florence (1439), and the Council of Trent (1563)]. The name given to this final purification is "Purgatory."

Who goes to purgatory? As mentioned above, those who die in God's friendship, but who still lack perfection, go to Purgatory where they undergo this process of final purification. Once this purification has been completed, they are then ready to experience the fullness of God's glory in heaven. Even good people who die go to Purgatory. The perception of Purgatory as a kind of punishment is a false perception. Purgatory is purification, not punishment. Think of a Brita water filter and how it strains out the impurities in the water. That is similar to what Purgatory does for souls. It perfects those who are in relationship with God.

If we spent some time reflecting upon our deceased relatives and friends, we would likely discover that many of them died in relationship with God but without the perfection necessary for heaven. Thus, many of those souls are in Purgatory.

Since there are many souls in Purgatory, we have a responsibility to pray for them so as to help them in their final purification. Our prayers offer them assistance on their journey toward eternal life. What a beautiful gift! Even death does not destroy our relationship with those who have died. Rather, we are still in communion with them and can help them in their relationship with God. Then, when they have reached their final destination in heaven, they can in turn pray for us and help us on our journey toward heaven. Sounds like a really good deal to me!

Brothers and Sisters, throughout the month of November we will be praying in a special way for all of our deceased family members and friends. A book of remembrance has been placed in the narthex of the Church for us to write down the names of these people who may still need our assistance with final purification. I invite you to join us in providing spiritual assistance for these souls. May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Financial Snapshot of the Fiscal Year

10-26-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week I am proud to present to you a financial snapshot of the 2013-2014 fiscal year. As you can see from the chart below, we had a great financial year. This is due to the generosity of our parish families and excellent financial planning by our Director of Finance and Operations and Parish Finance Council. St. Mary Magdalene continues to grow in so many ways. This past fiscal year we gained over 500 families and are currently one of the largest parishes in the Diocese of Phoenix. As our parish continues to grow, so too do the services we provide. As we move forward through our new fiscal year, let us pray for continued generosity from our parish families so that we can fulfill our mission of witnessing the love of Jesus Christ through evangelization, catechesis, and the celebration of the Sacraments.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

  June 30,2014 Budget, 2014
Plate Income $1,644,462 $1,262,144
Building Fund $295,521 $206,500
Other Income $128,008 $93,700
Total Income $2,067,991 $1,562,344
Total Expenses $(1,460,124) $(1,302,618)
Net Income Total $607,867 $259,726

*As of June 30, 2014 St Mary Magdalene had 3,933 registered families, this is an increase of 531 families within the fiscal year.

*The balance on the bond loan is $3,443,999.84 as of June 30, 2014. The original bond loan amount was $4.1 million

Give to God What Belongs to God

10-17-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

You're Invited

10-11-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today’s Gospel (Mt. 22:1-14), Jesus tells a parable of a very generous king who has invited a large number of people to be a part of his son’s wedding feast. What a beautiful invitation! Weddings are familial celebrations. The king has invited complete strangers to be a part of his family for this special celebration. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciated the value of this invitation. Many invited were too preoccupied with their earthly business to appreciate the grace offered to them. Instead of coming to the feast, they ignored the invitation altogether. This is the first scorning of the king’s invitation that we see. The second scorning of the king’s invitation is found in the man who came to the wedding feast but decided not to prepare. He came to the celebration as if it were no big deal, refusing to put on the appropriate wedding garment. The Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar offered the following commentary on this man’s behavior:

The second form of unworthiness…is that of the man who strolls into the Eucharistic Celebration as if entering a pub. Why should I get dressed up? The king should be happy that I come at all, that I still communicate, that I bother myself enough to leave my pew to stuff a bit of bread in my mouth…Perhaps only after being tossed out it will occur to him what he has missed out on because of his lackadaisical behavior. (Light of the World, 135).

This man responds to the invitation, but not in an appropriate manner. He responds half-heartedly to a whole-hearted gift. How often do we behave the same way with the Mass? How often do we respond to the Lord’s invitation to share in the wedding feast of His Son with half-heartedness? Do I treat the celebration of the Eucharist as something different, something special, or as if it were just another daily activity? Do I prepare for Mass, or do I rush into it? While at Mass, do I seek to participate, or do I expect to be entertained? Do I go to confession when I have gravely sinned so as to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace, or do I treat the Eucharist like it is just another piece of bread?

Brothers and sisters, Christ’s invitation to us is something special. We must treat it accordingly. Our loving God has invited us to be recipients of great graces in the Eucharist. May we respond whole-heartedly to this invitation with utmost respect and reverence.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Wild Grapes

10-05-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of my favorite Church documents is the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, more commonly known as Gaudium et Spes. In paragraphs 22-24 of Gaudium et Spes, the Church invites us to gaze upon the Cross of Jesus Christ as a kind of mirror revealing to us our true nature and identity. As we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see how we were created to love. It is in selfless giving that we discover our true identity as human persons and authentic fulfillment. The sacrifice of Christ demonstrates to us that we were not made to take, but to give.

In today's first reading (Isaiah 5:1-7), the prophet Isaiah uses the image of a vineyard overrun by wild grapes. The vineyard owner did all that he could to create a vineyard that produced good grapes, but the bad grapes took over. This image is an image of God's people. God has done all that he could to produce good fruit in us, but we have decided to take control of God's vineyard and have allowed it to be overrun by wild grapes. This is what happens when we decide to replace God's plan for humanity with our own. God has created each and every person for selfless giving. The more we seek to make a gift of ourselves to others the way that Christ made a complete and total gift of Himself to us on the Cross, the more we discover our true identity. We experience fulfillment only when we are willing to give of ourselves as Christ gave of Himself. When we act contrary to this nature, we end up lost, broken, and confused. We end up becoming like wild grapes…

Our modern culture has bought into a dangerous philosophy that distorts the proper understanding of human nature. We live in a world that presents our human nature as a blank slate to fashion in our own way. In other words, I make myself into who I want to be, rather than receive myself from the God who created me. I have taken God's vineyard as my own, and I have forgotten that it has been given to me as a gift. This is part of the reason why our culture finds things like abortion, contraception, and the redefinition of Marriage acceptable. Since the marital embrace is a human action, it is therefore subjected to whatever I want it to be. If I don't want it to be inherently unitive or procreative, I can alter it to become what I want it to be. If the consequence of the marital embrace is not what I want, then it can be discarded at my own pleasure and convenience. In other words, it is only a human person if I want it to be a human person.

The problem with this terrible philosophy is that it is an illusion that only produces wild grapes. There is an authentic human nature given to us as a gift, and we will continue to live an unfulfilled life until we discover it. Our faith professes that this nature can be found in its fullness when we come to know, love, and serve the person of Jesus Christ. Only in Him do we find our true selves. Only in God's plan for our humanity is good fruit produced in us. Let us pray today that God gives us the grace to trust in His plan for us since He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will