Father’s Letter: Second Sunday in Advent

Dear Friends,

The penitential aspect of Advent is brought to the fore this weekend as we hear about St John the Baptist. He is our model for “preparing the way of the Lord”. Often pictured as clad in rough camel skin, he is the embodiment of what it means to deny oneself earthly goods and comfort so as to make way for the outpouring of grace that comes with the arrival of Christ. We might also consider him as an image of what our heart, mind, and soul should be during this season: focused on seeking purification and forgiveness for our sins, denying ourselves small comforts so that we become more detached from sinful ways and more focused on the Lamb of God Who comes to take away the sins of the world, and pointing other people to the Lamb, not to ourselves. In fact, many depictions of the Baptist have him making a pointing gesture – his whole vocation was to be the great prophet that preceded the Messiah, the one who was called to bring others to Him, and then to decrease while our Lord increases. During this season of joyful preparation, may we all be given the humility, penitential spirit, and evangelical zeal that we see in St. John the Baptist.

I’d also like to say a word of thanks to all of you for so generously answering the call to adore our Lord this Advent! It is such a joy to see those spots full – may it be a source of grace for our parish for years to come! Please know what a gift your time before our Lord is to Him, to yourself, and to the Church. A word of thanks also to all those who helped arrange the adoration schedule, made calls to new adorers, and helped make everything look so beautiful: Pat Vanderpool, Michelle Guthrie, Brenda Sinkovitz, Sherry Gesmundo, Alane Fifelski and many others!

In Christ,

Fr Marotti

Father’s Letter: The First Sunday of Advent

Dear Friends,

With the school year well underway, I thought it would be a good time to give a much-needed update on the many exciting things happening at our schools.

As you may already know, this school year began with us welcoming Vineyard Academy into our building, to share our space and resources. Officially, at this time, there are two schools operating: St. Ann Montessori, and Vineyard Academy. However, as one would expect when two schools are in one building, the teachers, staff and students of both institutions – while maintaining their separate charisms – have effectively come together as one closely-knit community of Catholic education. Having one school, rather than two, is what we had hoped and envisioned when we began this new journey together. Praise God for making it happen so quickly!

We are blessed in that the Diocese is enthusiastically supportive of this transition and, encouraged by recent conversations with Margaret Erich, the Superintendent of Schools in our Diocese, we have begun to put together a proposal for making the two schools officially into one Pre K – 8 school, recognized as a CSGK (Catholic Schools of Greater Kalamazoo) school. The school will be formed under an altogether new name (soon-to-be-announced) and will be a unique institution in our diocese, maintaining the special charisms of Montessori and classical Catholic education together in one continuous educational program. This model has achieved much success in various new schools throughout the country as a desirable alternative to other more well-known forms of Catholic education. I myself have a particular love and passion for this type of education – as my own educational background is classical – and I could not be more impressed with and supportive of the Montessori method of education since I have been exposed to it here in Mrs. Mannes’s classroom. So excited am I about our schools that I asked Mrs. Jewett if I could teach philosophy to the 7th and 8th graders every week!

Even more unique will be the emphasis on personalization of the education of your children. There will be both Montessori kindergarten and Classical kindergarten for parents and teachers to choose from after evaluating what would be most beneficial for their child and his or her particular gifts and strengths. How exciting that all of this will be available at our own parish!

The only way to truly know what our schools are about, and the quality of education that the students are receiving, is to come and see for yourself. You can all be a part of making our schools – or rather school – flourish. Please join us in praying for the school and its students, supporting it both in word and in deed, and contributing financially if you are able.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to call me at the parish office or email me at frmarotti@stannaugusta.org

In Christ,

Fr. Marotti

Father’s Letter: Solemnity of Christ the King

Dear Friends,

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It is the close of the liturgical year, right before we celebrate the Church’s “New Year” with the First Sunday of Advent. As we bring the liturgical year to a close, I’d like to raise several questions for reflection:

  1. Is Christ the Sovereign of my life? We call Christ the King and Lord of all things, both on earth and in heaven, both visible and invisible. These are grand praises that we willingly offer, conscious of the fact that He created and sustains all things in existence. And yet…do I allow Him to be Lord of the actual day-to-day events of my life? The Lord of my family? The Lord of my career? The Lord of my vocation? As with an earthly King, do I offer Him honor and obedience? Do I seek opportunities to see Him? To speak to Him?
  2. Do I live the liturgical year? I just mentioned that this is the last day of the Church’s year, and next Sunday is the “New Year” for the Church. Do I actually live my life according to the prayer and liturgical life of the Church? Do I celebrate the many feasts and solemnities in home, and not just at Mass? Do I try to live the rhythm of prayer and penance that the Church worldwide is living?
  3. Am I making any New Year’s resolutions?Since next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, how am I deciding to renew myself for the coming liturgical year? And I mean real resolutions, not just “I won’t eat chocolate” or “I’ll go to the gym”… how about “I’ll set aside at least 30 min for prayer every day” or “I’ll only eat one meal every Friday”? Be creative, and be honest with yourself. Offer the new year to the Lord.

In Christ,

Fr Marotti

 

Father’s Letter: 33rd Sunday

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to increase our adoration hours, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it from me! So let’s hear what some holy Popes (St. John Paul II & Pope Paul VI) have to say about it!

Twelve Reasons From The Teachings Of The Church For Wanting To Spend One Hour With Jesus In The Blessed Sacrament 

  1. You are greatly needed! “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic adoration.” (Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae)
  2. This is a personal invitation to you from Jesus. “Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love.” (Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Canae)
  3. Jesus is counting on you because the Eucharist is the center of life. “Every member of the Church must be vigilant in seeing that the sacrament of love shall be at the center of the life of the people of God so that through all the manifestations of worship due him shall be given back ‘love for love’ and truly become the life of our souls.” (Pope John Paul II,   Redeemer of Man)
  4. Your hour with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will repair for evils of the world and bring about peace on earth. “Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Jesus and ready to make reparation for the great evils of the world. Let your adoration never cease.” (Pope John Paul II, Dominicai Cenae)
  5. Day and night Jesus dwells in the Blessed Sacrament because you are the most important person in the world to him! “Christ is reserved in our churches as the spiritual center of the heart of the community, the universal Church and all humanity, since within the veil of the species, Christ is contained, the invisible heart of the Church, the   Redeemer of the world, the center of all hearts, by him all things are and of whom we exist.” (Pope Paul IV,    Mysterium Fidei)
  6. Jesus wants you to do more than to go to mass on Sunday. “Our communal worship at mass must go together with our personal worship of Jesus in Eucharistic adoration in order that our love may be complete.” (Pope John Paul II, Redeemer of Man)
  7. You grow spiritually with each moment you spend with Jesus! “Our essential commitment in life is to preserve and advance constantly in Eucharistic life and Eucharistic piety and to grow spiritually in the climate of the Holy Eucharist.” (Pope John Paul II, Redeemer of Man)
  8. The best time you spend on earth is with Jesus, your Best Friend, in the Blessed Sacrament! “How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed       Sacrament, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more   efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness!” (Pope Paul VI,  Mysterium Fidei)
  9. Just as you can’t be exposed to the sun without receiving its rays, neither can you come to Jesus exposed in the Blessed Sacrament without receiving the divine rays of his grace, his love, his peace. “Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, God with us, day and night, he is in our midst. He dwells with us full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtue, consoles the       afflicted, strengthens the weak.” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei)
  10. If Jesus were actually visible in church, everyone would run to welcome him, but he remains hidden in the Sacred Host under the appearance of bread, because he is calling us to faith, that we may come to him in humility.“The Blessed Sacrament is the ‘Living Heart’ of each of our churches and it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore the Blessed Host, which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word, whom they cannot see.” (Pope Paul VI,   Credo of the People of God)
  11. With transforming mercy, Jesus makes our heart one with his. “He proposes his own example to those who come to him, that all may learn to be like himself, gentle and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interest but those of God.” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei)
  12. If the Pope himself would give you a special invitation to visit him in the Vatican, this honor would be nothing in comparison to the honor and dignity that Jesus himself bestows upon you with the invitation of spending one hour with him in the Blessed Sacrament. “The divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people the incomparable dignity.” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei)

 

Father’s Letter: 32nd Sunday

Dear Friends,

The Gospel this Sunday is about preparation and perseverance.

Preparation: The ways in which we prepare for the coming of the Lord are many:

  1. Daily prayer, most importantly. If we are not speaking to the Lord every day, we will quickly lose a sense of His presence and more easily fall away from His grace.
  2. Sunday Mass (at least). Would we go a week without feeding our bodies? Certainly not. We would grow weak or even die. The same is true for our souls. Without feeding our souls with Christ’s Body and Blood, our soul grows weak and dies.
  3. Frequent confession (at least monthly). It should be clear to all of us that we fall into sin frequently, through thought, word, and deed; in small ways and unfortunately sometimes in big ways. We need God’s mercy more than we like to admit!

We might consider these three acts of our Faith as the sources for the oil we need to keep our lamps burning brightly while waiting for the Lord’s return.

Perseverance: Perseverance is dying in the state of grace. We think of perseverance as enduring to the end, as in a race. Having the strength and courage and fortitude to endure the difficulties and temptations of this life while still remaining in God’s grace. St. Alphonsus Liguori said that we need to pray for perseverance/a holy death every single day. The one moment that matters most of all in our life, is the last moment. Will I leave this world with oil in my lamp (grace in my soul), or will I fail to prepare and be found with a darkened lamp? May God give us all the grace to prepare and persevere!

In Christ,

Fr Marotti