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The Bible and the Virgin Mary

Presented by the Holy Family Bible Study Ministry

The Bible and the Virgin Mary is a dynamic twelve-part video series that beautifully explains the Catholic truths about Our Lady showing how she has been a part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the world since the beginning of time. 

No RSVP required.  All are welcome.  Starting Thursday September 7 to October 12, 2017 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM Parish Life Center in Room 217. For more information call Pilar: 904-705-3541.

Fr. Cusick’s Homily – 19th Sunday (A)

Readings

1 Kings 19:9a.11-13a

Psalm 85

Romans 9:1-5

Matthew 14:22-33

Sometimes you just want to run away. Maybe it’s the constant frustrations of day-to-day living. Maybe it’s apparent failure in your career or relationships. Maybe it’s anxiety about everything going on in the world. Whatever it is, sometimes you just want to hop on a ship to a deserted island and leave everything behind.

The only problem is that you can’t run away from yourself. “Wherever you go, there you are,” as the saying goes. Whenever we try to run away from our problems, we eventually realize that part of the problem may be us.

That’s what happened to the prophet Elijah. He had challenged the king and queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel, about their idolatry and injustice. The funny thing is that, initially, he won. He convinced the people of Israel to abandon their false worship and return to the true God. But Jezebel vowed revenge – and Elijah lost heart. All he wanted to do was give up, to simply lie down and die. It seemed too much for him. Eventually he fled to Mount Sinai (also known as Horeb) – but there the Lord turned his flight into a retreat, a time when he could recover his sense of himself before God.

At Horeb, he was asked to look beneath all the violence and turmoil that he was experiencing. Notice that he discovers God’s presence not in the wind, or the fire, or the earthquake – but in a “tiny whispering sound,” a still, small voice assuring him that he has not been alone. And so Elijah is able to return to his mission – fulfilling it so successfully that he is remembered as one of the greatest prophets of Israel.

There’s a lesson for us here. Sometimes we need to make a retreat to renew ourselves to face the stresses and struggles of our lives. We can at times do this literally, even by something as simple as a visit to the Blessed Sacrament – finding a place of peace in which we can focus on the Lord’s presence. But we’re not always able to do this – but we can do this interiorly at any time.

It’s a matter of understanding, at a deep level, who we really are:

  • Are you your thoughts? Of course not – they’re changing all the time. Between now and the time you return home, hundreds, if not thousands, of thoughts will arise in your minds, most of them quite inconsequential. How can I define “myself” based on something that shifts so rapidly?
  • Are you your feelings? No; they’re also constantly changing. I might be despondent right now, and full of vim and vigor tomorrow. Emotions are like clouds passing through the sky; sometimes when they’re dark and stormy it seems like they’re all that exists, but we know that there is light and peace behind them.
  • Are you your desires? No! These don’t stay constant either – my desires change at different times of the day, and at different times of life. What I wanted as a child is different from what I wanted as a college student, which is different from what I want today. If there is any continuity in who “I” am, then mere desires cannot define me.

So who is having all these thoughts, feelings, desires, sensations? Perhaps there’s my true self – a still, small point which experiences all these things but is not identified with them. This peaceful center is where Christ dwells within us! Beneath all the noise and turmoil and fear is this oasis of tranquility which nothing, and no one, can take away.

Isn’t this where Peter lost his way? As long as he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, he was able to walk on water! But when his attention shifted to the strength of the wind, he faltered. It was only when he turned again to Jesus that he was rescued – and when he took Him by the hand, the storm ceased.

So when we’re tempted to run away because of the problems life brings us, let’s make a retreat instead – to that still, small point in the center of our being where we can discover Christ in the midst of it all. And when we see Him there, we’ll be ready to step out of the boat.

Homily – The Transfiguration on the Lord (A) – by Fr. Tim Cusick

Readings

Daniel 7:9-10.13-14

Psalm 97

2 Peter 1:16-19

Matthew 17:1-9

On this day, 72 years ago, humanity entered the Atomic Age. The delivery of a nuclear weapon at Hiroshima revealed to the world a power in nature that staggered the mind. The tiniest amounts of matter had a potential hidden with them which could bring about an unprecedented destructive force.

The Bomb ended a terrible war in a horrifying way. Human reason had discovered how to unleash the power of the atom – but could we control it? Could we direct it to peaceful purposes? Could we avoid the destructive tendencies of our own nature?

So far we have – but the questions and anxieties remain. By the grace of God, the human race has been preserved from a final insanity. By the grace of God – for there is another hidden power in the universe, one greater by far than the power of the atom, because it comes from the One who made the atom. But few people recognize it; fewer still seek it.

This is the power revealed at the Transfiguration – the power of the Creator Himself, hidden beneath a human form. It shone forth for the disciples to give them a glimpse of Who Jesus truly was – but also of what we are meant to be. This power is accessible to us, by grace, and in the sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist.

Hidden beneath the elements of bread and wine, the Real Presence of our Creator and Redeemer – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – awaits us. Do we truly realize the power of this Presence? If we did, we could transform the world!

St. Paul tells us that “I live, yet no longer I, Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) – this is meant to be the result of our reception of the Eucharist. But in the same passage he adds, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We have to have faith in the presence and power of Christ in us if it is to have effect.

To increase this faith in Christ’s continued presence in the Eucharist, and, therefore, in us, we need to come before Him. This is a primary reason for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: to come to a deeper recognition of Christ’s Real Presence, and to learn to bring that presence to the world – for that is to bring true hope, and true peace, to the world.

Notice how Jesus teaches us this through the Transfiguration: He has just predicted His Passion and Death to the disciples, and they are distraught at the very idea. So He takes them away from the tumult of the crowds, up a high mountain, alone. We need to do this, too – take time away from our anxieties and our fears, our cares and our burdens, and just be with the Lord Jesus. Adoration allows us to do that.

Next, Jesus reveals to them His inner radiance – the glory which He shared with the Father before the foundation of the world, but which remained hidden to most eyes as He accepted fully our human condition. This allowed the disciples to overcome their fear of what would happen to Him – as He would tell them at the Last Supper, “You will have troubles in the world, but fear not – I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). Nothing ultimately will stand in the way of God’s purposes for us; we simply have to trust Him, and know that there is often more to our life than meets the eye. In Adoration, we too are offered a glimpse of the glory of the Lord which can sustain us.

Then Moses and Elijah appear, for a brief time. Moses represents the Law, Elijah the prophets; Jesus is their fulfillment. Notice that the voice tells the disciples to listen to Him, and at the end of the story, “they saw no else but Jesus alone.” We are meant to keep our eyes fixed on Him alone, and to listen for His voice. But we find this difficult in an age filled with so many distractions. Committing ourselves to Adoration can help us to silence our minds and hearts, and listen to the voice of Jesus, who seeks to guide us to peace and freedom of spirit. As St. Peter says in the 2nd reading, reflecting on his experience on the mountaintop, “Be attentive [to His word], as to a lamp shining in the dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”

What is this morning star? Christ Himself, who desires to dwell within us and make us like He is. As St. Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Finally, Jesus and the disciples return to the bottom of the mountain to resume their tasks – Adoration is not an escape, but rather sustains and strengthens us to face the challenges of life, knowing that we are never truly alone – and that we have a destiny beyond imagining.

Beginning next month, we will have further opportunities to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Our new Adoration Chapel, located in the old choir room behind the main altar, should be completed at the end of August. It will be beautiful, and even more so when the stained glass is installed later this year. Initially, it will be open during daytime hours during the week: Monday-Friday from 9:30 am-5:00 pm. (If there is sufficient interest, we will extend the time on Wednesdays until 6:45 pm, just before our Wednesday evening Mass.) We hope over time to extend these hours, perhaps even to Perpetual Adoration in the future. (Bishop Estévez told me the other day that his only concern is that the chapel will prove to be too small – the attraction of Christ in the Eucharist draws more and more people over time!)

But to do this, we need you! I’m asking that we have a minimum of 4 people in Adoration each hour that the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, to ensure that the Eucharist is never left unattended. After Mass, you will have the opportunity to sign up to spend an hour with the Lord one day a week. Please prayerfully consider responding to the call of Christ to adore Him, to recognize His powerful presence hidden in the Host, to fix your gaze on Him, to listen for His voice. I ask that you do this for yourself, for your families, for our parish, for our community, and for our world, which so desperately needs the peace that Jesus offers—a peace the world cannot give.

Let us give ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord, so that He may dwell with us, and within us, and allow us to bring His transforming power to all Creation. Amen.

Servants of the Blessed Sacrament

Visit our Risen Lord.  Adoration is coming.

Adoration is given to God alone.  That is why it is called Eucharistic Adoration because the Holy Eucharist is God!  Will you be there for one hour every week?

For more information, contact:  Renee Hertz at RJKH188@gmail.com. 917-287-5175

The Holy Family Adoration Chapel will be supervised by the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Servants of the Blessed Sacrament is a subgroup of the Prayer & Worship Committee.  Adorers pledge to spend a specified hour on one exclusive day of their choice every week in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Holy Family Adoration Chapel is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm Monday through Friday.  Sign up and registration will take place in the Narthex and PLC after all Masses beginning in August.

Fr. Cusick’s Homily The Transfiguration on the Lord (A)

FAQs

Where is the chapel?

Our beautiful chapel is located at the rear of the church.  Enter from the outside door nearest the west parking lot.

What is expected from me as a Servants of the Blessed Sacrament?

An individual who commits to being a Servant is expected to arrive at the scheduled time and remain present in the chapel until the next person arrives one hour later.  Remember, you are choosing one specific hour (between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm) on one specific day (Monday through Friday) that your schedule accommodates. That assignment is your entrusted commitment.

What if I can’t make it to my regularly scheduled time?

We understand that emergencies do arise.  If you are unable to keep your commitment, it is your responsibility to find a substitute for your hour.  We intend to implement a service through a web connection that may assist you in finding a replacement.  Communication via email is essential, and therefore, an email address is required.  Additionally, your Day Coordinator might also be able to be of help.  However, we are depending on you to fulfill your responsibility for the day and time you select.

 May I become just a substitute adorer?

Absolutely!  As a substitute adorer, you should be available to cover occasional hours for another adorer, when requested.  You may state which days/hours work best for you when registering.  Communication via email is essential, and therefore, an email address is required.

 Adoration Chapel Guidelines:

WELCOME!

  • Please try to be a few minutes early so that the person you relieve may depart on time.
  • Please remember to always sign in.  Adorers who are not Servants  should sign the Guest Log.
  • Please be courteous of others.  Jesus is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament.  Please genuflect (or deeply bow) when you enter the chapel quietly.  If children accompany you, please instruct them to be quiet when they are in the chapel.
  • Get to know the people on your hour – they are your “prayer buddies.”
  • Invite a friend to join you for your holy hour.
  • You may bring your own prayer resources or choose from the spiritual reading materials from the table.  If you borrow supplies, we ask that you please return these materials for others to enjoy.
  • Pray, read, listen.  Anticipate the gifts the Lord has planned to give you.  Cherish this time.
  • Keep your Day Coordinator informed of your schedule if you have an emergency. Check Ministry ProServe for additional help to find a substitute.
  • At the end of your hour, please make sure that your replacement has arrived.  Remember, Fr. Cusick requests that four (4) adorers be present at all times.

Thanks for your cooperation in keeping our chapel the beautiful and safe sanctuary it was meant to be!

SIX DATES

Married Couples, spice up your marriage and join us for 6 evenings of fun!

SIX DATES for Catholic couples is a program offered by the Holy Family Family Life Ministry.  It will begin on Friday, September 8th, and will continue every other Friday until November 17th.  Childcare will be provided.

Register here.

RCIA Inquiries

At Holy Family, RCIA normally takes a year or so, depending on individual cases, culminating at the Easter Vigil. We welcome the unbaptized (both those coming from other faith traditions and those with no faith background at all) and baptized Christians from other denominations (who are known as “candidates” rather than “catechumens” since the Catholic Church recognizes most Protestant baptisms). For those interested in learning more about the RCIA and the Catholic faith, we will have 2 “Inquiry” sessions this summer, the first on Tuesday, July 11th, the second on Tuesday, August 29th, both at 7:00 pm. For more information, please contact our RCIA Coordinator, Maria Petrotta, at mpetrotta@holyfamilyjax.com. Encourage your non-Catholic friends and family members to learn more about the faith of the Church and discern whether Christ might be calling them into our community!