Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship

Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship is the title of our first Lenten Video Study, and the first video series of its kind to be produced by the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Gilbert, Arizona.

When I began working at the parish in my current position, there are were a few ideas Fr. Will and I discussed that we hoped we could eventually offer to the parish as part of adult faith formation. A video series focusing on a particular topic was one of those ideas. I am proud to say that after three years of working at the parish, we have now brought this particular idea to fruition.

This project began in a meeting late last summer, in which Fr. Will wanted to create a video series for the parish during the season of Lent. After setting the outline, which would focus on Worship, we brought in two of our co-workers to discuss their participation in the series, and then after countless hours of writing scripts, reading them to each other, tweaking them a bit, and then filming in front a two cameras and very bright lights, Journey into the Desert was born. Accompanying the videos at the beginning and the end is sacred music sung by a Schola directed by our Director of Sacred Music.

Filmed in the studio at the Diocese of Phoenix Pastoral Center, Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship is a 6-week study focusing on the different aspects of worship – how God shows us to worship, the Cross in relation to worship, change is required in worship, offering our sins, suffering together as a Church, and making Sunday a priority. For a detailed explanation of how this study will work each week, check out the trailer below of Fr. Will Schmid.

To sign-up for Journey into the Desert: Reflections on Worship – Visit flocknote.com/smarymag from your computer or smart phone.
Click “Sign me up.” Follow the prompts to add yourself to the “Lenten Study” group and “create a password.” If you already have a Flocknote account, you can just log in.

Sunday Homilies and Saturday Morning Speaker Series on iTunes and Google Play Music

As I have done in the past, I want to share with all of you some exciting news coming out of the parish that I work for in Gilbert, Arizona. Our parishioners as well as all of you can now download our Sunday homilies and Saturday Morning Speaker Series through iTunes and Google Play Music. We have been offering this service since July, when I first wrote about it. Every month our download numbers increase, and although it’s not about numbers, I felt the desire to share this information again, especially since I gained many new followers in the month of October.

For the longest time, we have offered the homilies on our website for our parishioners (and visitors to the website), but now using iTunes and Google Play, a person can download the homilies (and the Saturday Morning Speaker Series) to their device and listen to them anytime and anywhere. I hope that many of you will take the time to listen to the great preaching many of us here on a weekly and daily basis. I hope that you will also share it with your family and friends.

Francis.Benedict - SMM Homilies meme

For those of you that don’t have a device and just want to listen to the homilies via the website, click here.

For those of you that prefer iTunes, and more than likely own Apple products, click here.

For those of you that prefer Google Play, and more than likely own an Android, click here.

My Interview on “Hungry For More” with Al Smith – Now On YouTube

Here is my interview from this past Wednesday night, February 4, 2015, on “Hungry for More” with Al Smith on the Fiat Ministry Network. Hope you all can watch it and share it with your Catholic family and friends. It was a blast to do and looking forward to being on his show again as well as the other Fiat Ministry Network Shows.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 4

Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I asked yesterday from Chapter 4 – The Fourth Word: Confidence in Victory. This chapter focuses on Mary’s Magnificat and Jesus’ – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Mk. 15:34), which originally comes from Psalm 22:1 (21 in the Septuagint), the great Todah (Thanksgiving) Psalm.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “All trusting implies something you cannot see. If you could see, there would be no occasion for trust. When you say you trust a man only insofar as you can see him, you do not trust him at all. Now to trust God means to hold fast to the truth that his purposes are good and holy, not because you see them, but in spite of appearances to the contrary.”

2. “Rather approach him in full confidence and even with the boldness of a loving child who has a right to ask a Father for favors.”

3. “The man without faith was generally surprised at the dark turn of events with two world wars in twenty-one years, the resurgence of barbarism and the abandonment of moral principles. But the man with faith in God was not so surprised. The sun came out just as he had expected; chaos was in the cards though they had not yet been dealt, for he knew that ‘unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps 126:1).”

4. “Evil will never be able to be stronger than on that particular day, for the worst thing that evil can do is not to ruin cities and to wage wars…against the good and the living. The worst thing that evil can do is to kill God..”

5. “Though he may not grant all your wants, be sure that, in a certain sense, there is no unanswered prayer…Do not forget either that there are not two kinds of prayers to prayer, but three: One is ‘Yes.’ Another is ‘No.’ The third is ‘Wait.”

Questions: 

1. With all the evil and sin in the world, how does a Christian remain steadfast in knowing that in the end the final victory belongs to Christ and those who follow his teachings?

2. What would the Jews standing around the cross have thought when they heard Christ cry out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3. In Heaven, Christ still bears the wounds of his Crucifixion. Explain the significance of this teaching.

 

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 3

Continuing with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, here are the quotes and questions that John and I asked yesterday from Chapter 3 – The Third Word: The Fellowship of Religion.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “Have you ever said, in order to justify your selfishness, ‘After all, I have my own life to live?’ The truth is you have not your own life to live, because you have to live it with everyone else. Religion is not what you do with your solitariness, but what you do with your relationships. You were born out of the womb of society, and hence the love of neighbor is inseperable from the love of God.”

2. “In order to indicate that she is now becoming the mother of all men whom he redeems, he endows her with the title of universal motherhood: ‘Woman.’”

3. “The very thought of this Bride of the Spirit becoming the mother of humanity is overwhelming, not because God thought of it, but because we so seldom ever think of it. We have become so used to seeing the Madonna with the Child in Bethlehem that we forget that same Madonna is holding you and me at Calvary.”

4. “Mary had seen God in Christ; now her Son was telling her to see Christ in all Christians. She was never to love anyone else but him, but he would now be in those whom he redeemed.”

5. “…I wonder if it is not true that as the world loses veneration for Christ’s mother, it loses also its adoration of Christ. Is it not true in earthly relationships that, as a so-called friend ignores your mother when he comes to your home, sooner or later he will ignore you? Conversely, as the world begins knocking at Mary’s door, it will find that Our Lord himself will answer.”

Questions:

1. Why is it that Protestants do not venerate our Blessed Mother? Did it start with Luther?2. Do you think Mary was surprised when Jesus gave her away?                                      3. Why is it significant that the robe that Jesus wore was seamless?

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray for us.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, Week 2

This past Tuesday, myself and John continued with the six-week Lenten reflection series based on the book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary, by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Again, it was an excellent gathering of parishioners from the parish, with even some people coming from other parishes in the area.

The Seven Words of Jesus and Mary is the perfect book for the Lenten Season since it takes the words of Mary from the Scriptures and unites them to the last seven words of Jesus on the Cross.

As I stated in last week’s post, I am going to share some of the quotes and the questions we asked the parishioners who attended each session. I hope you enjoy them and can also reflect on them during this Lenten Season.

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary

1. “The Secord Word of Jesus on Golgotha and the Second Word of Mary in Nazareth teach the same lesson: Everyone in the world has a cross, but the cross is not the same for any two of us…My cross is not the same as yours, and yours is not the same as mine. Every cross in the world is tailor-made, custom-built, patterned to fit one and no one else. That is why we say: ‘My cross is hard.’…So yours is made by circumstances of your life, and by your routine duties. That is why it fits so tightly.”

2. “When God takes someone from us, it is always for a good reason…Every now and then Our Lord takes a lamb from the parched field of a family up to those heavenly green pastures so that the rest of the family may keep their eyes on their true home and follow through.”

3. “The tragedy of this world is not so much the pain in it; the tragedy is that so much of it is wasted. It is only when a log is thrown into the fire that it begins to sing.”

4. “Perfection of personality does not consist of knowing God’s plan, but in submitting to it as it reveals itself in the circumstances of life.”

Questions:

Is Archbishop Sheen saying that because each of our crosses is custom-made for us, no one’s cross is harder or easier than another’s?

Do we run from joyful suffering or embrace it?

Is it fair that the Good Thief got to go to heaven just for saying one thing to Christ? What does that say about His mercy?

My Catholic Corner Office

Below are pictures of my Catholic Corner Office at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. Once we are in the new building, I will have my own office and will post those pictures as well. I love working at Saint Mary Magdalene because I can be the on-fire, papist loving, unapologetic, evangelical Catholic that I am. See my blog post from last year – Characteristics of a Papist.

Today, as I put my Papal Flag, my office mate, Gretchen said, “It looks like a dorm room.” My office keeps me focused where my mind and heart needs to be when I am at work. When I was a high school theology teacher, my classroom looked very similar. Just ask any of my former students from St. Mary’s Catholic High School or St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School.

This is not Original Sin Pride (Adam and Eve’s sin is rooted in pride), but it’s the love of knowing that Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, founded the Catholic Church, the Bride, upon Saint Peter in and around 33 A.D. It’s knowing that the Blessed Virgin Mary assumed into Heaven and is the Immaculate, Perpetual, Advocating, Mother of God of all humanity. It’s realizing that my fellow brothers and sisters over the centuries, the Saints, are in Heaven interceding and praying for us as we pray for each other this side of Heaven.

I give all praise and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for the many blessings in my life and that I get to help lead souls to Christ everyday. In words of St. Francis de Sales, “bring me souls, away with the rest.”

My Corner Office

My Catholic Corner Office

Papal Flag, JP2 picture, San Damiano Cross, Annunciation painting, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Icons of the Saints.

Papal Flag, JP2 picture, San Damiano Cross, Annunciation painting, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Icons of the Saints.

Wall rosary, St. Benedict icons, yes, that's a mini statue of JP2, BW of Chesterton, BW of C.S. Lewis, pictures of my favorite girls and my bulletin board.

Wall rosary, St. Benedict icons, yes, that’s a mini statue of JP2, B/W of G.K.Chesterton, B/W of C.S. Lewis, pictures of my favorite girls, a full bookcase and my bulletin board.