Pearl of Great Price

07-27-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar once said, "Whoever understands the value of what Jesus offers will not hesitate to get rid of everything of his own, to become poor in spirit and in pure faith, in order to obtain what has been offered...Just as the farmer and the merchant are shrewd enough not to hesitate for a moment, so the Christian who has grasped what is at stake will take action immediately."

In today's Gospel, we hear of a farmer and a merchant who have found something of value that exceeds the value of everything they own and we see their immediate actions to give up everything to obtain it. What is our pearl of great price? What treasure is greater than everything we own? Is Jesus Christ that pearl or that treasure? Are we willing to give up everything we have for Him? Why? Why not?

This past week we celebrated the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, our patroness. The primary example she provides for us is the example of preferring nothing to Christ. St. Mary Magdalene loved Jesus Christ with a profound love that impelled her to give up everything for Him. Do we have that same kind of love for Christ? What would we be willing to sacrifice for a deeper relationship with Christ? What kind of behavior would we be willing to put an end to in order to receive a greater outpouring of God's grace? With the upcoming Adoration chapel only a little over a month a way, is Christ worth an extra hour of prayer each week? Exactly how much is Christ worth? These are the kinds of questions today's Gospel is asking us to consider.

May we be inspired by the farmer and merchant in the Gospel and have open hearts willing to give up everything for Christ. Why? Because He is worth it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Always Adore the Lord Jesus

07-20-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Ishaya Samaila

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (John 6:56). As I started my priestly journey in 1989, my pastor encouraged me to always visit the Blessed Sacrament when friends, brothers and sisters may let me down; Jesus Christ never will. Instead He will always be there at points of need. I took those words seriously and gradually things started turning around for the better. Without Adoration I can honestly say I would not have become a priest. I appeal to my reader to follow meticulously the steps of Saint Faustina:

Every morning during meditation, I prepare myself for the whole day's struggle. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory; and so it is that I fear the day I do not receive Holy Communion. This bread of the strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me. The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me it is the Eucharist.

The sacrament of Charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous Sacrament makes manifest that greater love which led him to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis P.1.

In Christ,
Fr. Ishaya

Eucharist & Adoration

07-13-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week I would like to share with you some thoughts about the Eucharist and Adoration from St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests:

"How many Christians are pressed for time, and only condescend to come for a few short moments to visit their Savior who burns with the desire to see them near him and to tell them that he loves them, and who wants to load them with blessings. Oh! What a shame to us! If some novelty appears, men leave everything to run after it. But we run away from our God; and the time seems long in his holy presence! If we really loved the good God, we should make it our joy and happiness to come and spend a few moments before the tabernacle to adore him and ask him for the grace of forgiveness; and we should regard those moments as the happiest in our lives. Are you in sorrow? Come and cast yourself at his feet and you will feel quite consoled. Are you despised by the world? Come here and you will find a good friend whose faithfulness will never fail you. Are you tempted? It is here that you will find strong and terrible weapons to vanquish your enemies. Are you oppressed by poverty? Come here and you will find a God infinitely rich, and who will tell you that wealth is yours, not in this world, but in the next. Ah! How good it is to enjoy the pure embraces of the Savior!"

May we have the same love for Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, as St. John Vianney, and may the Lord give us the grace to make a commitment to spend time in His presence each day.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Openness to Grace

07-06-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Many of you might be asking yourself the following question, "What am I supposed to do in Adoration?" This is a great question. However, there are many right answers to it. The most important thing we do in Adoration is spend time with Jesus Christ. The fact that we are there with Him is the most important thing.

There are many spiritual practices and devotions that can be used in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Praying the rosary, meditating on Sacred Scripture, and spiritual reading are all acceptable and helpful practices that we can do in the presence of our Lord. However, simply spending a few minutes of silent time gazing upon Jesus Christ is also a beautiful thing to do in Adoration. How often do we get to be in a place where there is little to no noise and simply be in the presence of God? Not often enough! Adoration gives us a chance for this. At first, this might be an awkward experience. We are addicted to noise and to activity. Our initial experience of simply gazing upon the Lord in Adoration might be a little uncomfortable. Our initial feeling might be one of restlessness. However, through consistent time spent with Christ, the grace of the Blessed Sacrament will bring peace to our hearts and allow us to slow down and be comfortable simply being in His presence.

As we continue preparing for the coming of our new Adoration chapel, may we be given the grace to discern how we can make time for Adoration of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will


06-29-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we prepare for the coming of our new building, I would like to continue focusing on the beautiful gift of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This week, I'd like to discuss the rite of Benediction, a popular Catholic devotion that originated in 13th century France and Germany.

At the end of a period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, there is a formal tradition that we call, "Benediction." This word comes from the Latin verb, benedicere, meaning, "to bless" or "to speak well of." During the rite of Benediction, the priest or deacon takes the monstrance with the consecrated host inside and blesses the community with the Blessed Sacrament in the form of a cross. On occasion, this blessing is accompanied by the ringing of bells and/or the use of incense. This is an important blessing because it comes from Christ Himself rather than from the priest or deacon. This is why the priest or deacon wears a "humeral veil" while giving this blessing. The humeral veil is the cloth placed over the shoulders and hands of the minister so that he does not touch the monstrance with his bare hands. The reason for this is to demonstrate that the blessing comes from Christ, rather than the minster. The minister during the rite of Benediction is merely an instrument of Christ the High Priest who blesses His people.

As we continue to learn more about Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament, may we open our hearts to our Eucharistic Lord so that our lives might be transformed by His incredible grace.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

06-22-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In light of the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) I'd like to share a beautiful true story.

In the little village of Lu, in northern Italy, some parents made some decisions that had important consequences for the Church beginning in 1881. Along with the need for vocations in the Church, these parents desired that children consider lives of total consecration to God's service in the Church. Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandero Canora, they gathered weekly for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for Vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, they all prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.

From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations: 152 priests and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations. Indeed the Lord will hear our prayers for vocations just as He heard the prayers of the faithful of the village of Lu.

May we have the same love of the Eucharist as the village of Lu.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

The Greatest Act of Love

06-15-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Chris Axline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today as we reflect on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, we see that the true nature of Love consists in the self-emptying of one person, for the sake of another. For example, our Gospel today says quite simply that, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son..." God gave us His Son in order that He might completely pour Himself out for us on the Cross. So great was Christ's Love for us that He quite literally gives us everything He can, including His own body and blood. Why does He do this? The answer is simple, "…so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16). Christ demonstrates for us that such gifts of authentic Love always bring forth life.

This is the basis for Pope St. John Paul II's writings on the "authentic gift of self" where he exhorts us to follow Christ's example of making a gift of ourselves to God, our family and our friends. Like Christ, we give ourselves away because we are called to Love. Such acts of love can be simple, such as offering up small, daily sacrifices, injustices, and hardships for a specific person. With God's help and grace, we learn how to make such selfless acts of Love and by doing so find that we receive "grace upon grace" in exchange (John 1:16).

Love, then, as we see from today's Gospel and the Holy Trinity (described by St. Augustine as a Communion of Love), focuses more on what it can give rather than what it can receive. This is the paradigm of the Cross, that monolithic event that, even to this very day, represents the greatest act of Love that this world has ever and will ever see!

Let us then ask the Most Holy Trinity to teach us what it means to love authentically so that we might increase our capacity to Love God, our families, friends, and all those whom we hold dear. May God Bless you abundantly and lead you deeper into His Love!

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Chris

Gifts of the Spirit

06-08-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Earlier this year at a Confirmation and First Communion Mass, Bishop Olmsted preached about the three things that plague humanity and the ways in which the gift of the Holy Spirit combat these three plagues. Since today is Pentecost Sunday and we are focusing on the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles, I would like to expand on this idea.

First, humanity is plagued by ignorance. Aristotle once said, "All men by nature desire to know." We hate being in a situation where we do not understand something. Ignorance bothers us. How angry do we get when we realize that we have acted out of ignorance: "If only I had known the truth!" The Holy Spirit seeks to resolve the plague of ignorance. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are brought to a deeper sense of wisdom and understanding. This is evident through the lives of the saints. Think of how Mother Theresa was honored and revered by the smartest and most sophisticated scholars. A simple nun serving the poor in India revered by scholars! She was enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives us a deeper insight into who God is and who we are.

Second, humanity is plagued by fear. Fear is often the strongest driving force behind the decisions we make. How often do we make a decision based entirely on fear? How often do we find ourselves tempted to compromise on something that we know to be true because we are afraid of the outcome? Fear cripples us. The Holy Spirit combats fear by giving us the gift of courage. Courage comes from the two Latin words, cur (heart), and agere (to lead). To have courage is to have the ability "to lead the heart" to choose what is true, good, and beautiful, regardless of the outcome. The early Church martyrs guided their hearts to choose Christ even though they faced great persecution and death.

Third, humanity is plagued by isolation. There is nothing that terrifies us more then loneliness. When we feel isolated and lonely, it is hard to muster up the strength to do anything. The Holy Spirit combats isolation with intimacy. The word used for "spirit" can also be translated as, "breath." The image of breath is one of intimacy. When we take a breath we draw air into ourselves so that it becomes a part of us. This is what God does through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He draws us into Himself in such a way that He dwells within us. We are never alone when we have the the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit's primary goal is to draw us into deeper union with God. In the East, they call this, "Theosis," or becoming partakers of God's own life.

As we celebrate this great solemnity of Pentecost, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us truth, courage, and intimacy, so that we might never be plagued by ignorance, fear, or isolation. May the breath of God continue to fill us with the grace to be powerful witnesses of the Gospel.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will

Get in the Game

06-01-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,

Imagine yourself sitting in the stands of your favorite sporting event. Imagine the best player in the game (and your favorite player) coming to you and bringing you from the stands onto the court/field. Imagine this player drawing up a special play for you to execute. How many of us have dreamed of becoming a professional athlete? How many times have we imagined ourselves taking the game winning shot or making a game changing play? How many of us have dreamed of simply being on the court/field for one moment?

In a way, this image helps us understand the significance of what we hear about in today's readings: the Ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ does not want us to be mere spectators of the Gospel. He wants us to be participants. He wants us on the court/field and in the game. Too often we allow ourselves to become mere spectators of the Gospel event. We sit back and watch as if we have no concrete role, expecting Christ to do everything and us to do nothing. The Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is a reminder that God wants us actively living the Gospel. We are not spectators of salvation history, we are participants. Jesus Christ does not want us to sit back and watch the Gospel unfold. He has a role for us in His saving work. God has empowered us with the gift of the Holy Spirit and wants us "in the game."

The work of Jesus Christ is not a magic trick. We do not sit back and merely "let it happen." We are called to engage the world as disciples of Christ. He has drawn up a game plan that includes our participation and he gives us all the gifts we need to be successful. Yet, in order to play our part, we have to first believe that God has included us. If we don't first believe this truth, we will never become the saints that God has created us to be. This is an essential aspect of the Ascension. May we continue to open our hearts to Jesus Christ and may we have the courage to "get in the game" and make the Gospel a lived reality in our lives.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will


05-25-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the challenges of living the Gospel is allowing Jesus Christ to lay claim to our hearts. How often do we find ourselves putting on a good show so that others perceive us to be holy, when in reality we have not allowed the Gospel to transform us from within? In today's second reading (1 Peter 3:15-18), St. Peter tells us, "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts." What St. Peter means by this is that we should allow the Gospel to transform us from within so that our primary concern is no longer the perception of others. If Jesus Christ is not the king of our hearts, then the moment we face the dangers of temptation or persecution, we will likely end up compromising our faith. In order to stand strong in the face of temptation or persecution, Jesus Christ must reign at the level of the human heart. If we allow God to lay claim to our hearts, then we will find the grace that we need to be an authentic Christian.

One of the ways we can begin to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts is by making a good confession. All of us have fallen short of what is expected of us. Jesus Christ is ready and willing to forgive us and give us the strength to move forward as long as we are willing to confront our sinfulness and take responsibility for our poor choices. Often times we find ourselves making excuses for our choices instead of taking ownership of them. We are quick to assess the various external circumstances behind every choice, but slow to assess how we have allowed ourselves to be placed in a situation where we compromise our faith. This is why in the act of contrition we make a commitment to avoid the near occasion of sin and not just the sin itself. Too often we put ourselves into situations where we are destined to fail. We need to own up to this. It is our pride that wants us to blame external circumstances and other people for our choices.

Brothers and sisters, we have an amazing God who continually takes us back and reclaims us as His sons and daughters. May we allow Christ to reign as King of our hearts and allow Him to transform us from within so that we can be His authentic disciples. May all of us seek to make a good confession this summer so that we might stay connected to His love and grace.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

05-18-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the past few months you have probably noticed an increase in the use of Latin during our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. In particular, this past weekend we reintroduced the Latin Gloria in excelsis Deo. First, I would like to thank our music director, Richard Guerra, and our choir for their hard work in learning this beautiful piece of sacred music. They did a fantastic job! Second, I would like to explain why we have reintroduced these Latin Mass parts into our celebration of the Eucharist.

One of the major documents of the Second Vatican Council is the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (also known as Sacrosanctum Concilium). This beautiful document on the Liturgy was constructed to help the faithful develop a deeper sense of participation in the Sacraments. As a part of this movement toward more full, active, and conscious participation, Sacrosanctum Concilium allowed for the Sacraments to be celebrated in the vernacular (or the common language of the people). The Church believed that the use of the vernacular in the Sacraments would be of great benefit to the people of God. I think we can all agree that this was a tremendous blessing from the Church. Our ability to celebrate the Sacraments in English has helped us to participate more fully, consciously, and actively. However, at the same time, Sacrosanctum Concilium also expressed the importance of preserving the beautiful traditions of the Roman Catholic Rite. Although it encouraged the use of the vernacular, it did not envision the complete elimination of the Latin language from the Mass. The official language of the Roman Catholic Church is Latin. It is a beautiful part of our heritage and should continue to be a part of our celebration of the Eucharist. Paragraph 54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” It is in light of this beautiful document that we have decided to reintroduce some of the Latin Mass parts into our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.

Singing Latin can be difficult, especially when it is unfamiliar to us. However, as most of you have experienced, all it takes is a little practice. We have already learned the Sanctus, Mysterium Fidei, and the Agnus Dei with minimal difficulty. Now, we are seeking to learn the Gloria in excelsis Deo. This chant is more complex and will take us a little more time to learn, but we have an excellent music director and choir to help us along the way.

There is nothing more powerful than a Mass celebrated with reverence and beauty. The Latin Mass parts add a sense of antiquity and richness to our faith. It keeps us connected to the universal Church throughout the world and reminds us that our faith rests on thousands of years of tradition. May God continue to transform our lives through the richness of our Catholic faith.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Sacred Silence

05-11-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel (John 10:1-10), Jesus uses the image of the shepherd to help us understand the kind of relationship God desires to have with His people. In the world of shepherding, the sheep are familiar with the shepherd's voice and respond to it with great fidelity. Sheep are able to recognize the distinct voice of their shepherd over all the other voices (even over the voices of other shepherds). They have a relationship of trust with their shepherd and follow him wherever he calls them. The Lord desires to have the same relationship with us. He wants us to have a deep relationship with Him so that we can hear His voice above all other voices and follow Him wherever He calls us.

Today's world struggles to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. There is so much noise and clutter in our lives that keep us from a relationship with Christ. If we want to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives, we must retrain the ears of our heart to recognize His distinct voice above all the other voices. In today's reflection, I would like to suggest one way we can begin to retrain the ears of our hearts to hear the voice of God: silence

Catholics need to reclaim the gift and power of sacred silence. We live in a noisy world that constantly bombards us with various sounds. Often times, these sounds distract us and keep us from hearing the voice of God speaking to the human heart. God speaks more often in subtle movements of the heart than through loud booming noises. In order to hear the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit in the human heart, we must first silence some of the outside noises. For example, do we really need to have the radio or television on all the time? While driving to work, could we sacrifice the noise of the radio and use some silent time in the car to speak with God? Could we sacrifice one television show each week for some silent reflection? Could we sacrifice five minutes of sleep on Sunday so that we could have five extra minutes of prayer before Mass? Could we arrive home five minutes later so that we could have some silent time with the Lord immediately following the Mass? When the Mass is over, must we immediately engage in conversation? A few minutes of sacred silence before and after Mass is a great way to let the Lord speak to our hearts.

At first, silence is difficult. Often, we feel awkward and fidgety. This is normal. We are addicted to sound, and getting used to the silence is difficult. However, after a little while, we begin to experience the peace and joy that comes from that few minutes of silent prayer. We begin to experience movements in our heart, and recognize these movements as the voice of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, take some time for sacred silence in your life. Create opportunities for sacred silence so that the Good Shepherd can speak to your soul.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Will

Pilgrims on a Journey

05-04-2014Weekly ReflectionFr. Will Schmid

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Have you ever wondered where we get our format for the celebration of the Eucharist? Well, look no further. The outline of the Mass comes from today's Gospel (Luke 24:13-35). Using this Gospel passage as our guide, let's look at the essential elements of the Mass to get a deeper understanding of what we celebrate each week.

First, the Mass begins with a procession where the priest and servers process from outside the Church to the altar. Notice how the disciples in the Gospel are traveling. They are pilgrims on a journey. As modern day disciples of Jesus, we are also on a journey. We are on a journey towards Heaven. The procession at Mass is a reminder of our true homeland, which is found not in this life, but in the next.

Second, the Mass begins with a penitential act, where we make a public recognition of our sinfulness. Notice how Jesus points out the foolishness of the disciples in the Gospel. Before Jesus can help them understand the Scriptures, they must first come to realize that they have faults that prevent them from seeing things properly. We too are sinners. We have faults that prevent us from understanding God's plan for our lives. The penitential rite at Mass is an opportunity for us to own up to these faults and receive God's mercy so that we can have a proper understanding of God's plan for salvation and our lives.

Third, the Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Word, where we hear readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Gospels, and a homily designed to scripturally interpret our lives. This is what Jesus did for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He taught them the Scriptures and He gave them a proper understanding of them. This is what happens every Sunday in the first half of the Mass.

Fourth, after the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word, we then move on to the celebration of the Eucharist. This is exactly what happens in the Gospel. After Jesus interprets the Scriptures for them, He then breaks bread with them; He celebrates the Eucharist with them. It is in this moment where the disciples recognize Him. This is true for us as well. It is in the celebration of the Eucharist where we come to encounter most profoundly the presence of Christ. Christ's presence in the Eucharist is the reason why it is so essential to our Catholic faith.

Finally, at the end of Mass, we are sent forth in peace to announce the Gospel of the Lord and glorify the Lord with our lives. This is what happens in the Gospel following the breaking of the bread. The disciples go forth to Jerusalem to share the good news of Jesus' Resurrection, which they experienced first hand on the way to Emmaus and in the celebration of the Eucharist. We are given that same commission as modern day disciples. We must go out and share the Gospel with others.

As you can see, the Mass comes directly from Scripture. Through the weekly celebration of the Eucharist we are drawn into the mystery of the Lord's Resurrection. Through the Mass we are given the same access to Jesus that the early disciples had. What a beautiful gift! No wonder why the Church makes such a big deal about it.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. Will