Category Archives: Parish News

Calm In the Face of the Storm | Staff Reflections | Hurricane Ian

Dear Parishioners,

As you will have become aware our Parish has, this year, accepted the challenge of Pope Francis to celebrate the Season of Creation. The central focus this year is the call to ‘Listen to the voice of creation’. As Hurricane Ian looks set to approach our city it is difficult to be clear about what the impact on created things and creatures will be.

Ironically, we may have no choice than to listen to the voice of creation, to hear creation groan! But let’s also watch creation. Already birds whose natural habitat is the ocean have begun their unseasonal migration towards the land. Dog owners will know that dogs and other pets will sense that change is in the air long before there are any visible signs. This is instinct. First nation peoples had a natural awareness of the movement in the skies and the waters and reacted accordingly. This is why many Seminole Indians chose Tampa as a relatively safe haven!

All creation is inter-connected although it would seem that humanity may have lost some of this awareness and natural instinct. Nevertheless, those who suffer from arthritis may discover mysteriously that they experience more pain in their joints in times of such meteorological change. The vast majority of us will have to depend on warnings from the media and meteorologists, inevitably causing supermarket shelves to empty of batteries, bread, and water, with long lines to form at gas stations.

This week, we who live on the west coast of Florida will be concerned for ourselves and our neighbors as we potentially face damage or loss of all that keeps us safe. Friends and family living elsewhere will be similarly anxious for us.

And what does God say? Throughout scripture God and his angels always say “Do not be afraid, I will be with you in your distress.” When the disciples were in a storm-tossed boat they were justifiably afraid. So afraid, in fact, that when Jesus appeared walking towards them on the waters, they thought they were seeing a ghost. This was not the only time that the disciples did not recognize Christ in a time of turmoil. The post-resurrection journey to Emmaus was another significant moment of unseeing. On another occasion, when a storm arose and, amazingly, Jesus had managed to fall asleep in the boat, the disciples turned to him in fear. He calmed the waters and he calmed their fears.

We know from the Gospels that God will care for us so much more than he cares for the lilies. God cares whether we reach out to God in prayer or not. But let’s make out of this time of anxiety an opportunity to learn the power of constant prayer, to intentionally place ourselves in God’s care and to hear God say to each of us what God and his angels have always said: ‘Do not be afraid’ and ‘Know that I am with you always’.

Peace and all good,
Phil Jakob
Director of Music

You may find the following songs comforting during your prayer:

Be Not Afraid | Bob Dufford and the St Louis Jesuits
 

How Can I Keep from Singing? | Sung and arranged by members of the Iona Community

Don’t Be Afraid | John Bell of the Iona Community

Let Nothing Trouble You by Bernadette Farrell

Shelter Me | Michael Joncas

Hurricane Ian Updates and Closures

*This page will be updated as additional information is received.

Following the noon Mass on Tuesday, September 27, through Friday, September 30, our church, North Campus, and parish office WILL BE CLOSED due to weather impacts related to Hurricane Ian. ALL PARISH ACTIVITIES, including daily Mass, confessions, and parish group meetings HAVE BEEN CANCELLED through the morning of Saturday, October 1.

  • This includes Friday’s “God’s Good Earth” prayer and music service, as well as Saturday’s annual Blessing of the Animals.
    • Parishioners are encouraged to join us at the Franciscan Center for their “St. Francis Day” celebrations on Friday, October 7 beginning at 4 p.m. to participate in these offerings. Click here to view the full schedule of the event.
  • Parish Faith Formation and RCIA sessions have been cancelled through Saturday, October 1.
  • Parish group meetings scheduled from Tuesday, September 27, through Saturday, October 1, have been cancelled. That list includes:
    • Bible Study
    • Choir Rehearsal
    • A.A. | Keep It Simple
    • Women’s Prayer Group
    • Event Planning Committee
    • Men’s Prayer Group
    • Rosary Devotional Group

*Additional Groups and Ministries may appear on this list at the situation develops.

The normal daily and weekend Mass and Confession schedule will resume the afternoon of Saturday, October 1, beginning with the 5:30 p.m. Mass.

Additional Resources:

Staff Reflections | Calm In the Face of the Storm:
Hear from our Director of Music, Philip Jakob, as he provides a thoughtful reflection on prayer in the face of the storm, along with a selection of calming music to help ease your anxiety and accompany your prayer. You can view his reflection by clicking here.

Prayer against Storms | from the Pieta Prayer Book
Make the sign of the cross when you see the (+) symbol.

Jesus Christ a King of Glory has come in Peace. + God became man, + and the Word was made flesh. + Christ was born of a virgin. + Christ suffered. + Christ was crucified. + Christ died. + Christ rose from the dead. + Christ ascended into Heaven. + Christ conquers. + Christ reigns. + Christ orders. + May Christ protect us from all storms and lightning. + Christ went through their midst in Peace, + and the Word was made Flesh. + Christ is with us with Mary. + Flee you enemy spirits because the Lion of the Generation of Juda, the Root of David, was won. + Holy God! + Holy Powerful God ! + Holy Immortal God! + Have mercy on us.

Amen!

A New Way to Communicate the Good News | Staff Reflections | The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners, 

Back in August, the Bishop’s office announced a resolution to a key item presented through the recent synodal process. They found from their synthesis of the sessions a desire from our region’s parishioners for greater synergy, community, and communications. That resolution takes place today, as we celebrate the first-ever Diocesan Media Day, instituted to raise awareness of our diocesan media ministries, including Spirit FM and the Gulf Coast Catholic.

Many will be familiar with these outlets and the great efforts they make to share the Good News, but in the off chance you were not aware, please take the time to find Spirit at 90.5 on your FM dial and subscribe to the weekly newsletter at gulfcoastcatholic.org. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 states “Test everything; retain what is good.” I can assure you will retain these as part of your daily and weekly routines.

As a child of the information age, spending the entirety of my 13- year career in media, communications, and the like, I take heart seeing our pastoral office provide a day of emphasis for these outlets. We need to remember anything that communicates a message is considered media, and sometimes (yes, sometimes), it can even be uplifting! We regularly produce media for you here at Sacred Heart, with the intent to inform and enrich your connections to both the Gospels and our parish. From this web article that you are reading my thoughts from this week to our live-stream Mass, or our social media posts, Flocknotes, and emails letting you know about upcoming liturgical events, our media production is already robust, and we intend to do much, much more.

We recently completed our own version of synod-like “Listening Sessions,” tailored to focus on our parish and its needs, as opposed to the greater Church. Similarly, we heard a desire for more media, specifically with a Franciscan focus, for parishioners to gain a greater understanding of the order from a theological perspective, as well as to develop a greater Franciscan identity within our parish. The Friars and staff are ready to answer that call.

You’ll have heard us mention before the need to prioritize new media (video/social/ podcasts) in previous columns, especially when addressing the topic of evangelization. We must be readily available through multiple digital outlets to meet the demographic changes and population growth within our parish boundaries, in addition to the parishioner requests previously mentioned. I am happy to say we are finally approaching that next step. Recently, the parish hired a new parish communications assistant, backfilling a vacant position. With this additional help in place, we can begin building out a studio space within the parish office. We will start with producing some short-form informational content, as well as weekly podcasts, featuring the friars discussing their reflections on the week’s Gospel or lay leaders telling the parish about their ministries, and grow from there.

If you are interested in supporting these new ventures, please reach out to me directly via email.

Peace and all good,

Rob Boelke
Manager, Communications

October’s Giving From the Heart Drive

Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive through donation event on Saturday, October 8 at the North Campus main lot from 10 a.m. to noon. The October event will benefit both our Hands of Hope ministry and Love INC of Metro Tampa.

For nearly a decade, our Hands of Hope ministry gathers together each Saturday at our North Campus to prepare a meal for our homeless neighbors. They then go into the city and distribute said meal while offering friendship and fellowship to the people they serve. 

Love INC of Metro Tampa is a nonprofit whose mission is to mobilize Christian churches and their members to transform lives through outreach volunteer service. Sacred Heart was one of the six founding churches of Love INC and since its launch in 2017, our parishioners have served as founders, board members, Help Center volunteers, Resource Navigators and professionals offering their pro bono services to our most vulnerable neighbors. Love INC will be collecting for a pair of initiatives that assist their clientele: Home Beautification Program -&- Lullaby Ministry.

The home beautification project exists to help senior homeowners in the Tampa Bay area get their lawn and property back in code with the city. What senior homeowners can struggle to even accomplish, can be completed within hours by Love INC volunteers.  Once every other month, Love INC volunteers from various Church partners gather to work in people’s lawns. The Love INC Lullaby Ministry is dedicated to providing support and children’s items to Tampa Bay Area families that are going through a challenging time in their lives.

If you are interested in volunteering for our next Giving from the Heart donation drive, contact our Hands of Hope or Loving Hearts INC (SH’s affiliate ministry of Love INC) via email.

Below are lists from each organization highlighting the most needed items hoping to be collected during the drive.

Hands of Hope Needs

  • Non-perishable food items, such as rice, beans, canned vegetables, crackers, peanut butter
  • Toiletries and personal items, such as soap bars, small bottles of shampoo, deodorants, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, masks
  • Adult underwear, socks, and t-shirts

Love INC Needs:

  • Home Beautification Project: Safety Glasses, Trash Bags, Yard Gloves, Rakes, Coolers, Clean-Up Caddies, Twine, Shovels, Buckets, Pruners, Sunscreen, Brooms, Tarps
  • Lullaby Ministry: Diapers (all sizes), Walmart/Target Gift Cards (for families moving into housing purchasing essentials), Bus Passes, Monetary donations (to assist with rent)

We thank you in advance for your generosity and continued support!

(This page will be updated with additional donation needs and volunteer opportunities)

2022 Franciscan Celebrations | September 30 – October 7

“Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.” That line, written near Francis’s own embrace of Sister Bodily Death, reflects the importance and natural character of death in the life of all creation. St. Francis was not afraid of what would come at the end of his earthly life, choosing instead to recognize in that experience, not an end, but a transition from one way of living to another.

The Friars of Sacred Heart invite you to join them for a series of Franciscan celebrations, reflecting on that devotion and understanding of creation, as we observe the Transitus and The Feast of St. Francis.

Want to Learn More About the Transitus? Click Here

UPDATE: The “God’s Good Earth” prayer and music service scheduled for Friday, September 30, as well as the Saturday, October 1 annual Blessing of the Animals have been cancelled due to impacts from Hurricane Ian. Parishioners are encouraged to join us at the Franciscan Center for their “St. Francis Day” celebrations on Friday, October 7.

Transitus of St. Francis: Monday, October 3 | 6:30 p.m. | Church
Every year, on the third evening of October, Franciscans ritually remember the passing of Francis of Assisi from this life during this liturgy, as a reminder to renew our own commitment to follow Christ in the way of the poor man of Assisi. A reception in St. Francis Hall will follow the liturgy.

St. Francis Day Celebrations: Friday, October 7 | Franciscan Center (3010 N. Perry Ave.)
The Franciscan Center is combining their annual St. Francis celebrations and Blessing of the Animals with the historic occasion of their 50th Anniversary.

  • Festivities begin with the “God’s Good Earth” music and prayer service at 4 p.m. Our director of music, Philip Jakob, will lead an hour of prayer and music as part of the international observance of the Season of Creation, highlighting this year’s theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation.”
  • At 5 p.m., Members of the Franciscan Center and our Friars will gather to bless and dedicate a room with in the Center in the memory of Sr. Jeanne Williams, OSF.
  • At 6 p.m., City of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will be on hand to unveil a new historical marker celebrating the Franciscan Center’s 50 years as a place of peace, healing, and joy within our community.
  • At 6:30 p.m., bring your animals and let us share God’s blessing of all creation. The Friars will be on hand to provide blessings to pets large and small, furry, finned, feathered or scaly.

The event is free to the public, and will feature live music, pet-friendly vendors, food, exhibits, and family activities from the Franciscan Center’s riverfront grounds.

Lost and Later Found | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

God loves the just but does not ignore the sinner, for whom there is always a place in his kingdom. The church is not an exclusive club. As a matter of fact, there was a friar who referred to the church as a refuge for sinners.

The Pharisees seemed to resent God’s mercy, so Jesus answered their jeers in this week’s Gospel with a series of parables. The parable of the lost sheep does not deny the goodness of the virtuous majority but makes the point that there is a special place for the repentant sinner. The lost coin is important to the careful widow, and her joy at its recovery is shared because it is deeply felt. The sum may be modest, but its sentimental value matters to her a lot. We’re all V.I.P.s in God’s eyes, especially those who are lost and later found.

But there is another side to this story: the Prodigal Son “came to his senses.” He opened his eyes to see, his ears to hear; he reached out for help and got in touch with reality. The father’s welcome was extraordinary, but it could only happen because the son came back home. We, too, need to be willing to let God embrace us as we come to our senses. God’s mercy is there for any of us who turn to him with all our hearts.

The parable of the prodigal son is a classic of narrative skill that is timelessly relevant. We need to know that a loving God awaits our return home (if you haven’t already done so, do yourself a favor and get a hold of a copy of Henri Nouwen’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”). We also need the reminder that the same loving God expects us to forgive one another and to welcome them back again. The joy of a son’s homecoming was spoiled for the father by the sulking of the elder brother but the father was undeterred.

It’s sad that the elder brother held resentment towards both his brother and his father. God wants us all to be merciful and understanding. Leaving people helpless is no part of his plan. Though living under the same roof, the elder son was isolated from his father. Focused on his own rights and needs, he could not handle his brother’s safe return. Calling him “this son of yours” must have grieved his father. As we strive to be faithful and dutiful disciples, we need to be open to welcome home the lost ones, for we, too, have been lost at different times in our lives.

We come to church as both a refuge and home for a brief bit of respite from our hectic week. And as God welcomes us, we welcome those around us knowing that we all long for acceptance. God meets us where we are, knowing us and loving us, welcoming our return home with open arms. We are called to do likewise.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Zack

Labors of Love | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

It is hard to believe that summer is coming to an end, and Labor Day is upon us. Faith Formation, along with many other parish ministries and groups are starting up again following their summer breaks. A couple weeks ago, we held our informational ministry fair as a kickoff to the seasonal change. I do want to thank everyone who took the time to visit the fair, and especially the volunteers who were at each of the stations. You did an outstanding job advertising our the many aspects that make up our parish life here at Sacred Heart. If you did not have the opportunity to sign up for a ministry, or if you were unable to attend, please contact the parish office and we’ll be happy to connect you to our ministry leaders.

You will notice this week that the southern-most doorway at our front entrance is covered with plywood. I mentioned a few months ago that we would be resorting and repairing our doorways, and I am pleased that this process has begun. This is not a matter of just putting some varnish or sealant on these doors and calling it a day. For the restoration, our contractor must remove the doors entirely and work on them at their shop.

Many of the doors have sun damage and small cracks in need of repair. These doors are 117 years old, and our goal is to have them for 100 more. The frames of the doors have also settled over that time, and issues with the frames will also be addressed. Each set of doors will take between four and six weeks for repair, with one set of doors being repaired at a time. When restoration begins on the handicap accessible doors at the side entrance along Twiggs St., a temporary door will be put in its place. The estimated cost for the complete restoration of our entry doors will be about $36,000.

The main entry doors will take between 4-6 weeks for each set to be restored.

You’ll likely also notice the lack of holy water in the fonts by the church doors. We have seen a recent uptick in our neighbors without homes using the fonts as wash basins for their clothes or face. For both the safety of our parishioners and our homeless, we will test a dispenser for holy water that we have borrowed from our friends at the St. Jude Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is stationed near the main entryway, and when tested during last weekend’s Masses, it seemed to work out nicely, however some did confuse the dispenser with a hand sanitizing station. Wood stands are made for these stations that help differentiate them from other dispensers. If we chose to move forward with their use, each stand or station is a $300-$500 expense.

On the left, the holy water dispenser we are testing. On the right, wood dispensers that we will consider.

Finally, I’d like to provide an update for our new reconciliation alcove. To remind you, we are enclosing the area near the stairwell with glass to ensure privacy for those seeking confession. We are anticipating the installation of the glass in a few weeks. While many parishes hold reconciliation once or twice a week, we provide the sacrament Monday through Saturday, so having a more private space is needed. The space would also be available for use during weekend Masses. The estimated cost for this project is $9,000.

Confessions will be more private once the alcove is enclosed with glass.

Our clergy, staff, and volunteers are always looking for ways to preserve our church, enhance your ability to take part in the Mass and sacraments fully, and engage with parishioners and the community through outreach and ministries. We hope you see the fruits of these labors very soon.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Mike

Answering the Call to Serve | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

The period from the 11th to 13th centuries witnessed the rise of a money economy in Europe. Cities grew and multiplied; more and more land was cultivated, increasing the wealth of landowners; and a new-sprung merchant class made it possible for those who were not part of the aristocracy to accumulate wealth. Partly in reaction to these changes in the larger society, a new form of religious life emerged in the early 13th century — the so-called mendicant orders.

These religious communities were different from the great monastic orders such as the Benedictines or Cistercians, which were founded hundreds of years earlier. Members of the monastic orders devoted themselves to prayer, learning and manual labor while living and working together within the walls of the monastery. Although individual monks took the vow of poverty, monastic communities owned land and goods. Over the centuries, the monasteries became powerful centers of education, the healing arts, and the preservation of culture, often accumulating great wealth.

In contrast, members of mendicant orders were itinerant preachers, moving from town to town to preach the Gospel. Consciously modeling themselves on the disciples of Jesus, they went about two by two and were to “take nothing for the journey, neither knapsack, nor purse, nor bread, nor money nor walking stick.” This form of poverty embraced by these religious communities involved the renunciation of all ownership of goods, communal as well as individual. To survive, the mendicant friars asked for alms as they preached, traveled, and worked along the way.

The dedication of the mendicant orders to “begging without shame” produced a different dynamic from that of monastic orders. Voluntary absolute poverty created an institutional dependency. The mendicant communities relied on contributions from donors to survive. Thus, early forms of philanthropy are what made it possible for mendicant communities’ work to go forward. A mutual relationship evolved between the mendicant orders and those who supported them.

Click the Photo to Make Your Gift to the 2022 Catholic Ministry Appeal.

I have chosen this history about the friars and their way of life to speak about the Catholic Ministry Appeal, which starts this weekend at all Masses. Each diocese around the country has its way of raising funds to assist with direct services to the poor and other ministries concerning matters of human dignity and the common good in society. We as Catholic Christians will be asked to take part in helping our brothers and sisters on the periphery by our generosity. Your gifts will go towards Catholic schools, marriage and family life, Catholic Charities, priest retirement and clergy care, faith formation and so many more useful causes. In many ways our acts of charity to the diocese or Franciscans go a long way in providing assistance and keeping Christ’s call to serve the least among us.

Portions of this letter features writing from Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, PhD, a prominent Franciscan theologian. It is my hope that his and my words on our history opens our eyes and ears to the greater call of our Christian identity of giving and stewardship.

Peace and all good,
Friar Henry

Our 2022 Catholic Ministry Appeal


Week 4 Update:

Last weekend, staff and lay ministers appealed to you on behalf of our parish’s connections and devotions to the ministries surrounding education, specifically Faith Formation, Catholic Schools, and Seminarian Education. If you missed Mass with us last weekend, you can view the appeal above.

You voted, and we hope you join us in giving to our special second collection this weekend for Faith Formation initiatives across our diocese. Through our participation in the Catholic Ministry Appeal, the funds we collect from each and every one of you go straight to our ministry of choice – and we could not be more excited to support the teaching of the Good News through Faith Formation.

If you’re looking for ways to give in support of the Catholic Ministry Appeal, we have many options to choose from, including:

Our final appeals will be heard at all Masses on the weekend of October 1 and 2, with ministry leaders discussing priestly retirement, clergy care, and liturgical celebrations, as we decide again as a parish community where to direct our donations.

To plan your gift to the 2022 Catholic Ministry Appeal, click here.

We, and the Diocese of St. Petersburg, thank you in advance for your generosity as we work toward our parish goal.


Week 3 Update:

Gifts to the Catholic Ministry Appeal support the mission of Jesus Christ, allowing us to bring God’s love and mercy past our parish boundaries through ministries, programs and services provided by our local Church.

At all Masses this weekend, staff and lay ministers will return to the pulpit to appeal on behalf of our parish’s connections and devotions to the ministries surrounding education, specifically Faith Formation, Catholic Schools, and Seminarian Education.

Following their appeals, our friars will invite you to vote via this link on which ministry Sacred Heart will support through a second collection on the weekend of September 24-25. To vote, click here.

Week 2 Update

You voted. And we listened! This weekend, we hope you join us in giving to our special second collection for Catholic Charities. Through our participation in the Catholic Ministry Appeal, the funds we collect from each and every one of you go straight to our ministry of choice – and we could not be more proud to support the great works and efforts of Catholic Charities.

If you’re looking for ways to give in support of the Catholic Ministry Appeal, we have many options to choose from, including:

And next week, we look forward to hearing more from our ministry leaders on Faith Formation, Seminarian Education, and Catholic Schools as we decide again as a parish community where to direct our donations. We, and the Diocese of St. Petersburg, thank you in advance for your generosity as we work toward our parish goal.

Week 1 Update


As we continue our Catholic Ministry Appeal this week, the emphasis switches from hearing from our lay ministers, staff and clergy from the pulpit, to acting on their appeals, and contributing to our parish goal through a special second collection.

At each Mass last weekend (September 3-4), you heard from a pair of lay ministers explaining our parish’s connections and devotions to the ministries surrounding Marriage & Family Life, and the services of Catholic Charities, as seen in the video above. Following their appeals, the celebrant invited parishioners to vote on which of these ministry groups our parish will support through this weekend’s special collection.

Through your participation and votes, Sacred Heart will support Catholic Charities with this weekend’s (September 10-11) special collection.

If the ministry you selected wasn’t chosen, don’t worry! You can support your choice and send a gift to the Catholic Ministry Appeal directly by clicking here, or by submitting via the envelopes in the pews.

Our next pulpit appeals will be heard at all Masses the weekend of September 17-18, as lay ministers, staff and clergy inform you on the ministries of Faith Formation, Seminarian Education, and Catholic Schools.

As always, we thank you for your consideration and generosity as we work toward our parish goal.

Read the full letter from Fr. Mike to parishioners, as distributed by the Diocese

Learn how we are discussing the 2022 Catholic Ministry Appeal at Mass

Over the next few weekends at all Masses, you will hear from lay leaders, staff, and clergy regarding the many ministries here at Sacred Heart that are directly supported by your gifts to the Diocese of St. Petersburg’s Catholic Ministry Appeal.

The new Catholic Ministry Appeal is simpler and more transparent, with every dollar donated toward our parish goal directly funding both Sacred Heart and the diocese’s ministries, outreach, and programs. All of the ministries included in this appeal have a direct tie to our call to be missionary disciples, bringing others into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

On alternating weekends you will hear from lay leaders emphasizing two categories of ministries supported by the Catholic Ministry Appeal from the pulpit at Mass. Following their appeals, the presider will prompt parishioners to vote via a QR code/link on which ministry Sacred Heart will support through a second collection the following weekend.

We’ll let parishioners know which ministry was selected to be supported via email each week. If the ministry you selected isn’t chosen, don’t worry! You can support your choice and send a gift to the Catholic Ministry Appeal directly by clicking here, or by picking up an envelope in the church.

As always, we thank you for your consideration and generosity as we work toward our parish goal.

The Narrow Door | Friar Reflections | The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

What caught my attention in today’s Gospel according to Luke (13:2230) are the lines Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Years ago, as I was walking across the parking lot of St. Francis Church on Long Beach Island, NJ, for daily mass, I suddenly stopped and said to myself, “O my God, I believe it all!” I realized that while I didn’t understand it all, I believed everything in the Creed and the Gospel portraits of Jesus. You might find this a bit shocking that a priest would come to this realization, but I see it as a moment of clarity that had been growing into a conscious affirmation. Yet this is not the end of my story, since belief in Christ is the starting point from which trust in Christ must grow. My ability to trust in God is growing day by day, and when I find myself fearful, I say to myself, “God is trustworthy, all circumstances are temporary.”

St. Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne | 1650

However, even trusting in God is not the end of my faith journey. What I still struggle with is turning my trust into works of charity and kindness, particularly to those people who are not my “cup of tea.” It’s at this point that I must make the choice to be loving, especially when I don’t feel loving. Choosing to act kindly toward others is, I think, part of the easy yoke and light burden that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 11:30. It’s easy because we are all made in the image and likeness of God who through the indwelling Holy Spirit given to us in the sacraments, shares our burdens, and calls us into community to help each other.

The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, nourish our identity as the Body of Christ in the world, and enable us to choose to live out our identity as the Body of Christ. In the words of St. Augustine when looking at the Eucharistic Bread and Wine, “See Who you are! Become Who you receive!” and I add, “Live Who you become!”

One of the small acts of kindness I love here at Sacred Heart is the opportunity to hold open the door to the Church as the People of God gather for Mass on Sunday. I love saying, “Good morning, good people” or “Good morning, holy family” for that is who you are. If each of us held the door open for one another in the world, I believe that in time the world would be a better place. And an open door is a beautiful image of the person of Jesus Christ.

Peace and all good,
Fr. Steve