Dearly Beloved in Christ:
It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news of the death of Mr. Roberto Hernandez, who was a dedicated member of our staff for over fifteen years. Mr. Hernandez was fondly called “Bobby” by friends, family members and his co-workers. Bobby was a jokester with a great sense of humor. He made people around him smile a lot. He was also very kind-hearted. In addition to his duties as a member of our Maintenance Staff, Bobby volunteered a lot of his time and skills, working with the different groups in the parish. As a professional welder, he helped build steel booths and modified the barrel trains that we use during Parish festivals. Bobby will be fondly missed by all of us. May the Good Lord, who is merciful and kind and rewards good deeds, grant him eternal repose in his kingdom, amen! Please remember Bobby and his family in your prayers.
Those who have lost a loved one understand the pain and grief that come with death. I am reminded of the Gospel passage in which Christ wept over the death of Lazarus, his friend (see: John 11:33-36). Here, I see a God who understands human grief in the face of death; I see a God who is not far from us when we are grappling with the death of a loved one; most importantly, I see a God who weeps with us when we weep over the death of a loved one. We know how the story ends – Christ raises Lazarus from the dead. The significance of this miracle is found in Christ himself, more than the fact of Lazarus’ rising from the dead. That is to say, in raising Lazarus from the dead, Christ manifests himself truly as “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Through his death and resurrection, he vanquishes death and gives us the gift and hope of new life in heaven. Through Christ, therefore, we have the victory over death (see 1 Corinthians 15:55-58).
Death comes to all, though no one likes to think of their own death. Not to be morbid, but there is something spiritually healthy about contemplating one’s own death. For one, it puts our life on earth in perspective, reminding us that “the world as we know it is passing away” (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:31) and that “our true citizenship is in heaven” (cf. Philippians 3:20).
When we received ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, we were reminded of this truth by the words of the priest/minster: “Remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return” and/or, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”. Throughout Lent therefore, we are called to daily die to self by
embracing a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Pope Francis exhorts us that more than candy, food, alcohol, etc., we should fast from indifference toward others: “Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.”
Beloved, our Lenten practices should make us uncomfortable in a good way. Our acts of self-denial should be oriented toward God and our neighbors. John Chrysostom, the great early Christian mystic said: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
Last week we launched the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) appeal. The DSF is primarily about spreading the mercy and charity of God to our brothers and sisters through various ministries in our archdiocese. It is our collective way of responding to Christ’s invitation to “be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Thank you for serving as an instrument of God’s mercy through your charitable contribution to the DSF.
Our Holy Family Parish St. Patrick Festival is coming up on March 16 and 17. The complete schedule of events is on page 8. We need all hands on deck to make it fun- and spirit-filled. Some of you will be called upon by members of the planning committee to help and volunteer. Thank you in anticipation of your gracious help. Also, we are asking for donations for the silent auction. See page 6 for more information.
As we serve as instruments of God’s mercy for all, may we continue to grow as one Holy Family Parish, united in the joy of the Holy Spirit and in charity, as missionary disciples, amen!
In Christ’s love,
Fr. Jude Ekenedilichukwu Ezuma