Jesus is Alive
April 18, 2023
Happy Easter! The celebration continues—for an octave, for a season, for ever. Indeed, the mystery of the Resurrection is inexhaustible.
Allow me to share with you an excerpt from a sermon preached many, many years ago, by Saint Quodvultdeus, Bishop of Carthage in what is now Tunisia. He was a spiritual student and correspondent with Saint Augustine of Hippo, forced into exile near Naples by the Arian King Geneseric, where he died in 450.
Yours in our Risen Lord,
Corruption will no longer have dominion over us, as we live in immortality and dwell with Eternal Life Himself. Nor will we need clothing, for there we will be dressed in immortality; nor will we lack food when we have the Living Bread that came all the way from heaven to earth for us. For He will satisfy our souls with His presence. Nor, with the Fountain of Life present, will we lack drink. For He will satiate us with the abundance of His house, and He will provide water for our hearts with the torrents of His delights. We will not suffer from heat there, for our refreshment is there, the One who sheltered and shelters us under the shadow of His wings. We will not suffer from the cold there, for there is where the Sun of Justice is. He it is who warms our hearts with His love, and who give sight to our eyes with the rays of divinity, so that we will see the divinity and equality of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We will not get tired there, for our Strength will be with us, the One to whom we say, I love you, Lord, my strength (Psalm 18:2). We will not sleep there, for there is no darkness there that can blot out everlasting day. No commerce, no labor will be there. And what are we going to do there? Perhaps what it is written: Be still and see that I am the Lord (Psalm 46: 11). This leisure of contemplation itself will constitute our activity, so that we delight to contemplate and contemplate to see with delight. To see what? The good things of the Lord (Psalm 27:13). What good things? We will be able to express what neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor arises in the heart of man (Isaiah 64: 3.; I Corinthians 2:9). We will be able to explain how God will be all in all (I Corinthians 15:28).
Believing: More than Seeing
April 11, 2023
In this coming Sunday’s gospel of John (20:19-31), Jesus declares “Blessed are those
who have not seen and have come to believe.” What a strange declaration. Haven’t
we always been told that seeing is believing? And don’t we know from experience that
we are only really happy when we see for ourselves?
Happiness is indeed always linked to experience—most particularly the experience of
persons we love. And human experience does always entails seeing for ourselves, i.e.,
face-to-face, personal interaction. Jesus is telling us, however, that, when it comes to
Him, we can and will be happy even without seeing Him. How can this be? It’s called
faith! Faith is not simply a belief system about God. Faith opens us experientially to
God’s revealing of Self. Faith is a mysterious experience of God—without seeing a
thing… Strange indeed. Happy indeed. Our Risen Lord is alive and present and He
draws us to Himself.
Yours in Him,
March 21, 2023
This coming Sunday’s gospel (John 11:1-45) is the moving story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, in which Jesus reveals Himself as “the Resurrection and the Life”, as the One by Whom, as St. Thomas Aquinas says in “Commentary on the gospel of Saint John” (chapter 11), at the last, “everyone will rise in their souls and in their bodies”.
In the same Commentary, in considering the sisters’ initial message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill”, St. Thomas underscores two things about friendship with God:
We are invited to be friends with Christ (in the deepest not the Facebook sense!). Christ knows what we need and in Him we can have complete confidence. He the friend par excellence, Whose love knows no bounds and Whose faithfulness is perfect. Lent is about divine friendship.
“The Will of God: Food for the Heart?”
In the gospel for this coming Sunday, the third of Lent (John 4:5-42), “the disciples were urging Jesus” to “eat something.’” Jesus appeared to be hungry, and they were being thoughtful. Common sense and common decency. Jesus’ response, however, takes them completely beyond the realm of the common. “He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about…My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work’.” Huh?
Let us look to two spiritual writers for insights into the mystery of God’s will…
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Italian Bishop, spiritual writer, theologian, composer, musician, poet, and lawyer (d. 1787) reminds us of the goodness of God’s will:
God wills only our good; God loves us more than anybody else can or does love us. His will is that everyone should save and sanctify his soul…God has made the attainment of our happiness, His glory.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal (d. 1641), a French woman, who, after the death of her husband, founded a community of nuns called Congregation of the Visitation, encourages us to trust in the goodness of God’s will:
When shall it be that we shall taste the sweetness of the Divine Will in all that happens to us, considering in everything only His good pleasure? When shall we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms of our most loving Father in Heaven, leaving to Him the care of ourselves and of our affairs, and reserving only the desire of pleasing Him, and of serving Him well in all that we can?
Seeking God’s will with you,
The Rev. Dominique Peridans
Unworthy and Joyous
December 6, 2022
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!
This Sunday, we once again encounter John the Baptist. He is apparently an important figure on our path! Recall that the saints are not distant, pious persons on pedestals, examples of virtue beyond the reach of us ordinary people. The saints are divine friends actively journeying with us.
As those of us familiar with our tradition know, John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus. John is wholly other-centered. Indeed, last Sunday, we were told, This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness.’ The Voice, not the talent show, but the precursor, forerunner, the last of the prophets, wholly other-centered.
In John the Baptist, we see the attitude of heart that we are to have if we really want to experience how awesome Jesus is: a sense of our unworthiness. Indeed, similar to what John says, I am not worthy to carry his sandals, at every Mass we say, “Lord I am not worthy to that thou shouldest come under my roof…” (Matthew 8:8). This is not an act of self-deprecation, but a happy acknowledgement of how perfect Jesus is, i.e. how unconditional and generous is His love.
Beyond or deeper than the decorating, shopping, baking, visiting and the “already”-Christmas parties (!), such a sense is the right preparation for Christmas. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to awaken this in us. Interior freedom, awe and joy will follow. This is Gaudete Sunday (always the third Sunday of Advent), “rejoice” Sunday. Our joyous Lord gratuitously comes to us in our unworthiness, and we rejoice.
Yours in the Lord of joy,
Only Love Can Convert
November 29, 2022
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153), the French mystic and reformer of the Cistercian order, tells us that “only love can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.” From a rather different part of the Church, some eight centuries later, Billy Graham (+2018) tells us that “to be a Christian is not a pious pose. It is not a long list of restrictions. Christianity opens the windows to the real joy of living. Those who have been truly converted to Jesus Christ know the meaning of abundant living.”
This Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 3:1-12), for the Second Sunday of Advent, is about conversion. John the Baptist knocks at our door, extending an invitation to turn towards Jesus who comes. Conversion follows. Conversion results from welcoming and being seized in love by Christ, Who illuminates our hearts and minds. Conversion always implies change. John Henry Newman (+1890), (Anglican/Roman priest known for the Oxford Movement which, amongst other things, awakened a new appreciation in the Church for the Eucharist) tells us that “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.In conversion, our primary role is to acquiesce, to say “yes” to God, Whom St. Paul, in our second reading (Romans 15:4-13), so lovingly prays, “fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” In conversion, we gradually become perfect in love, as we should be. Speaking of which, St. Catherine of Siena (+1380) tells us, “if you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” Ah, the fire of love…
Yours in Christ Who comes,
November 22, 2022
This Sunday, November 27, we end our Stewardship Campaign for the mission of our parish for 2023. This is more than a campaign, however. During stewardship season, we embark on a journey where we allow God’s love to awaken in us even greater generosity of heart. Why? Because our finances, although the fruit of our labour, ultimately belong to God. If so, the best management of our finances is that of generously giving them back to God.
Stewardship is a mark of true discipleship and expresses the goodness of God at work in our lives, awakening generosity of heart and moving us to love and serve one another. Generosity concretely expresses love and is a sign of holiness.
I believe that we stand at an important juncture in the life of our parish and must pray for renewal and growth. We are asking our Lord for the grace to grow in holiness and, because of the resulting “spiritual attractiveness”, to draw new parishioners with whom we may worship in awe.
I am grateful to the members of our parish, and to our broader circle of friends, whose generosity here, in this place, allows us to response to Christ’s call to holiness and to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). By His grace, we can fearlessly give!
Christ the King
November 15, 2022
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, a point of culmination, bringing our liturgical year to a close, preparing us to begin a new liturgical year, awakening in us eschatological (Second Coming) hope.
The kingship of Jesus is indeed different from all other kingships. The kingships of this world are largely kingships of power. Some, on a good day, are kingships of service (I think of the King of Belgium!). The kingship Jesus is a kingship of love--powerful love, but love. Any power in his reign (and there is power, for he is all-powerful) is at the service of love. The kingdom of God is Jesus navigating and awakening the human heart.
What is Jesus’ purpose as king, some may ask? His purpose is to love us into the mystery of God. And, although we would advise Him otherwise, He allows bad and sad things, for this greater good. As hard as it is to fathom at times, He reigns even in our brokenness. How hopeful and liberating to know and to be granted to experience, on our personal journeys, and on our communal journey here at Ascension and Saint Agnes.
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come”, we give Jesus permission to reign in our hearts, in our broken hearts, knowing, in faith, how awesome a King we have. Even when do not realize it, He is navigating and awakening our hearts, loving us into the mystery of God. Something amazing is happening deep inside us. If only we trust, and yield in love. We have every reason to hope, not to be discouraged. His kingdom comes. And “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away.” (Daniel 7:14)
Yours in Him,
November 8, 2022
God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of sound mind. II Timothy 1:7
As disciples and friends of Christ, we have been given the Holy Spirit. We are thus able, in the midst of our fragility, to live boldly, to trust when things even look bleak. We are able fearlessly to give our whole selves back to God. Such giving of self to God concretely includes our time, talent and treasure.
November is Stewardship month, when we pause to consider this gift of self. For many, it will include a pledge to the parish for 2023 (or a simple donation), in support of its mission and ministries. This is a financial expression of gratitude to and trust in the Lord, here at ASA, our spiritual home. Some of you, understandably, may be feeling financially insecure at this time. What is important is not the amount that you give but the fact that you give, back to God, in some meaningful way.
Here are three considerations for those of you discerning what the Lord may be inviting regarding of stewardship of treasure in the form of a pledge. It
“The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.” (I Corinthians 16:21)
Holy Ones of the Most High
All Saints Day
November 1, 2022
“The holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever—for ever and ever.” Daniel 7:18
“For ever—for ever and ever” AMEN! Today is All Saints Day (moved to this coming Sunday for our celebratory purposes). Actually, we do not celebrate All Saints Days, we celebrate all the saints—our true BFFs, our “for ever and ever friends”, those officially recognized by the Church for their holiness, i.e., their full participation in and sharing of divine love. Amongst other things, they reveal to us the everlasting mystery of “the church, which is Christ’s body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:11-23)
Not all parishes celebrate in such deliberate fashion. We do because, well, the heavenly host are a big deal! One need but look into the clerestory of our church, the upper level of windows. Take a look! All kinds of saints…. We are blessed to be accompanied on our journey by these Sisters and Brothers in Christ. How much richer the journey. We will discover, when we see them face-to-face in the light of God, how strong and merciful an invisible hand they lent along the way. And we will thank them!
With St. Paul, “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.” Ephesians 1:17-18—2nd reading).
Yours with the saints,
THE REV. DOMINIQUE PERIDANS