Category Archives: Parish News

Let Justice and Peace Flow | From the Organ Bench w/ Philip Jakob

Dear Friends,

This Friday, September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation marks the beginning of the Season of Creation which continues through October 4 and the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron of ecology and founder of the Franciscans who bless our church of Sacred Heart with their presence.

This year we are called to ‘Let justice and peace flow.’ The prophet Amos cries out, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24), and so we are called to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity. So where do we little people start when it comes to such global issues? I suppose we could start on those elements we can control, over which we might exercise our care for creation. Since this year’s theme includes the word “flow,” we might start with that most valuable resource: water.

I heard recently that vast amounts of water are consumed in the cooling systems of data centers, which include cooling towers, chillers, pumps, piping, heat exchangers/condensers, and computer room air conditioner units, with only some of this water being recycled. Cloud-based servers and our social media are not as cheap as I used to think! You might want to investigate this further for yourselves, but apart from lobbying or writing letters there may not be much we little people can do.

We can make changes in our own lifestyles which do reflect our care for creation. If we regularly water our gardens or wash our cars in a season in which daily rainfall is almost guaranteed, then we are wasting water. If we run the shower for longer than we need to, or brush our teeth while running the water, then we are wasting water. And water is a God-given resource. Just “as the deer thirsts for the running streams,” (Psalm 42) so we also thirst for God in our lives and for a more just use of resources. However small our sacrifices may appear, they do serve to prevent us from taking for granted what we have by the gift of God, and they enable us to consider the plight of those for whom water ‘on tap’ cannot be a daily expectation.

In addition to considering our consumption of water, we might also have care over what we allow to enter the water system, and to concentrate on keeping the water ecosystem as clean as we can. Simple actions such as not pouring fat drippings or household chemicals down the drain, reducing use of detergent or opting for earth-friendly brand products, and minimizing the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides in the garden will all contribute to a reduction in environmental pollution.

A more contentious issue concerns our choice between tap water or bottled water. The reasoning behind using bottled water is primarily convenience but also because water quality in Florida, whilst still meeting the stringent Federal standards, is among the lowest of all the states. On the other hand, we also know the damage done to the environment and wildlife by increasing our need to dispose of plastics and we are learning that some of the plastic from the bottle can break down into the water. Not for nothing did India last year ban all single-use plastic bottles and that is a considerable risk for a country with serious tap water concerns! In so-called ‘first-world’ countries, many who have the financial wherewithal may choose to invest in a domestic filtration system or water softener which removes from our tap water some of the chemicals which still cause concern.

Mother Teresa, when asked how she had managed to change so many people’s lives, replied “one person at a time.” The assassinated Archbishop Óscar Romero answered a similar question:  “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

I think it is the same with our lifestyles and the environment: once we have become conscious of the issue we begin to make positive changes, bit by bit, gallon by gallon, until “justice rolls like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Peace and All Good,
Philip Jakob
Director of Music

As Phil mentions, there are many ways we can embrace the ecumenical call of the annual Season of Creation. As a Franciscan parish, you’ll know that integrity of creation serves alongside justice and peace as key tenants of the Franciscan charism. The following are suggestions for how you can help ‘let justice and peace flow’ right here at Sacred Heart:

Laudato Si’ Ministry | Meets on the second Saturday of each month, discussing environmental topics.

Garden Ministry | Meets monthly to tend to the North Campus property and garden.

For more on the Season of Creation, view livestream prayer services, and read the 2023 guide, visit

From that Hour | Friar Reflections | Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God the Lord be with you!

Years ago, when I was starting my theological studies, one of my professors said that we can see “the other, the stranger,” as either a gift or a threat. It seems to me that the authors of all three readings this weekend are writing about the struggle in making that distinction, with them all coming to the same conclusion.

Isaiah (56:1, 6-7) writes that the Lord told him to “observe what is right, do what is just” not for his fellow Jews but to the foreigners that live within the borders of Israel. Not just the Temple building located in Jerusalem, but the Temple that all of Israel was supposed to be, “shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” What a vision God had? Too bad the people of Isaiah’s day didn’t cooperate to fulfill it.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans (11:13-15, 29-32) is writing to a church composed of Jews and Gentiles. Paul is warning the Gentiles not to be smug that God has called them, while many of the Jews have rejected the Messiahship of Jesus. He writes, “God delivered all to disobedience that he might have mercy upon all.”

Jesus to seems to struggle when confronted with a Canaanite woman with a demon-tormented daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). For a while, He seems trapped by cultural prejudices, not to mention the strict norms of gender and religion. Unfortunately, His initial reaction is supported by the disciples. However, the persistent faith, courage, and love for her daughter win Jesus over, and her daughter is healed “from that hour.” I can’t help but think that this encounter led Him to a deeper understanding of His mission.

There seems to be a lot of fear in our society and Church to people that are not like us. Whether they have a different skin color, ascribe to a different religion, are a different sexual orientation or gender identity, it seems to me that the only way, the Gospel way, to interact with them is to remember that God has mercy upon all. Pope Francis calls us to live the “sacrament of encounter” particularly with people who are different from us. Judgement and condemnation are not what Christ calls us to. We are called to respond to those who are least like us with the same compassion Christ has towards us.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Focus on His Presence | Friar Reflections | Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

In 1964, Simon & Garfunkel released their album “Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.,” which included the song “The Sound of Silence.” According to Art Garfunkel, the song symbolizes the “inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.”

I think we can all find some agreement with that sentiment being valid today. We are bombarded with 24-hour news cycles and social media ad nauseum, and as such there is still a deafening silence all around us as we observe the world through constant sound bites and distortion. Everyone wants our attention to improve their own algorithms in order to validate themselves or what they have to say, and perpetrate more unsolicited ads, because more “hits” usually just means more money from advertisers. We may see each other in passing, but do we really communicate? SO MUCH NOISE!

Well, all I can say is, “thank God for the Prophet Elijah!” The first book of Kings relates the story of Elijah’s finding God in the “sounds of silence.” The Prophet Elijah discovered that God wasn’t to be found in the turbulence and destruction of strong winds, crushing rocks, earthquakes, or fire. God was found in a tiny whispering sound. The paradox of a sound in silence alludes to the transcendent, even the inexplicable presence and activity of God. It seems that Elijah’s God is not one of power and might, but one of a quiet and awesome presence. Once Elijah realizes God’s presence, like Moses before him, he covers his face.

Just being in silence is a discipline. It doesn’t come easy. While sitting in silence, our minds are constantly engaged with our many thoughts which we cannot simply turn off. They constantly distract us. Our challenge is, like Elijah, to not allow the distractions of our thoughts or surroundings to take away from our focus in searching for God. Elijah was focused on identifying the presence of God. God is always and everywhere present to us.

In our Gospel this weekend, we hear about a commotion on the sea where Jesus’ disciples are in a boat being tossed about, afraid for their lives. Peter, who was commanded by Jesus to come towards him walking on the water, quickly begins to sink after only a few steps. Peter lost his focus. He allowed the elements and sounds around him to distract his coming to Jesus, much like the distractions of social media can distract us as Catholics if we allow them to. Jesus saves Peter and calms the sea, in turn saving not only the boat carrying his disciples, but every other boat on the sea that night.

Our challenge and our prayer is to focus on the presence of God and our relationships with one another. For all of the good that social media and instant information may bring to us, there is also a liability in allowing it to consume us. Listen intently to the sound of silence in your own lives, and like Elijah, you, too, will hear the whisper and feel the presence of God and find the ability to love one another.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Zack

Reaching Out | From the Desk of the Pastor | August 2023

Dear Parishioners,

As you might have noticed from my absence at Mass, I was on vacation for a few weeks to close out the month of July. My brother and his partner arranged last minute plans for us to embark on a cruise of several European countries, as part of a celebration. In May 2022, my brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Over the past year he has had surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy. In June, all his test came back negative for the cancer. To celebrate this wonderful news, he decided for us go on a trip. The location wasn’t important. It was being with my brother.

Now back at the parish, I am excited for the busy month ahead of us. The friars will provide an official blessing of our new Bikes from the Heart ministry at the North Campus later this month. This ministry provides repaired and restored bikes for the homeless and transportation challenged within our community. It may seem a small thing, but these bikes are an opportunity which can help change their lives, giving them easier access to additional assistance and work. If you have an old bike or even parts of a bike that you no longer have use for I encourage you to get a hold of our ministry leaders with Bikes from the Heart. You can learn more here.

Members of the Bike ministry will also be on hand at our next Giving from the Heart, on Saturday, August 12, collecting specifically for our neighbors at Tampa Hope, in addition to the needs lists you’ll find here in the bulletin. This next Giving from the Heart drive also supports the teachers and students of our neighboring parish school at St. Peter Claver. As you may be reading this on the weekend of August 5-6, we are in the final days of our tax-free week here in Florida. If you are able to assist, be it that you are already shopping for supplies for your own children, or are simply looking for a more economical way to donate at this next drive, please consider grabbing an item or two from their needs lists when out shopping this weekend. We look forward to seeing you at the North Campus next Saturday.

At 6 p.m. on August 24, we invite all ministries and their representatives, as well as any interested parishioners to a parish-wide ministry outreach meeting. This meeting is a time for our ministries to gather together and looks at ways we can collaborate to fulfill our collective community outreach goals. This meeting will also feature an opportunity for our ministries and parishioners to view new parish mission, vision, statements, as created by our Parish Advisory Board. These statements come after careful consideration of the recent parish survey, and serve as a new guidance for our parish following the many changes brought in recent years. Members from the PAB will present these to the ministries. It is my hope that each ministry will take these statements on board, and work to see how their groups can individually and collectively embody them.

Largely, the August ministry meeting will be a discussion led by our Parish Outreach Committee. This committee is the conduit from which all parish ministries’ outreach goes through. This structure was created to ensure we are not duplicating efforts or constantly asking for support.  We understand our parishioners deep desire to live the Gospel through action, donations, and outreach, but I wish to ensure you do not feel burnout from any simultaneous asks. The Outreach Committee will also cover the ministry event approval process. Ideas for potential upcoming parish-wide outreach events include Soxtober (collection of socks throughout October for the benefit of our local homeless), the Advent Giving Tree (or an alternative toy drive), the Reverse Advent Calendar food drive, and the Lenten 40 Cans/40 Days food drive. In order for these drives to remain successful, we need the help of all ministries acting together. These drives may be a large undertaking for an individual ministry, but collectively, several ministries coming together can make these easier to accomplish. We will also have additional opportunities to address different needs through Giving from the Heart, which continues on the second Saturday of every other month.

If you are not part of a ministry, but would like to be a more active participant in our parish’s outreach events, please reach out to the Outreach Committee. My mother always said, “many hands make light work.” With your help, I know that we can do so much more.

Parish Advisory Board: Larry Bevis, Cindy Burnett, Sarah Daniels, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Sam Ferlita, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Helen Lukavec, Lynda Marsh, Tony Miranda, Laura Prather (Chair), and Felix Vega. Meets quarterly.

Parish Outreach Committee: Larry Bevis (Chair), Rob Boelke, Cindy Burnette, Suzanne Collins, Susan Coppin, Hank Cramer, Sarah Daniels, Angela Erb, Fr. Zack Elliott, OFM, Mike Fabianski, Tom Henry, Fr. Mike Jones, OFM, Dr. Stephen Krist, Shannon Leigh, Jennifer McElroy, Robb Mercado, Tony Miranda, Don Murray, Patty Oliver, Fran Provenzano, Jim Rossman, and Olga Siegenthaler. Meets monthly.

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Mike

Finding the Treasure | Staff Reflections | Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Kingdom of Heaven is here and now and will be fulfilled when we arrive in Heaven. Jesus shares with us today the parable of a great treasure and a pearl of great price. When I reflect on these two parables, I can’t help but think about my spiritual journey.

Raised as a cradle Catholic and educated in parochial schools, it wasn’t until my late 20’s, after I became a wife and mother, that my faith came alive. This gift of faith, which was bestowed on me at Baptism, wasn’t discovered until I recognized it as a “treasure,” or “a pearl of great price.” Soon after that initial conversion, I had zealous fervor!  I had decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.

I certainly didn’t realize what that would mean for my life. It has been a wonderful, terrible, exciting, dull, event-filled, sometimes doubt-filled, story of faith. It is a very human story filled with joy, sorrow, disappointment, and success. At the beginning of this new commitment to Christ, my primary focus was making God a priority in my family’s life. It is now over 30 years later and the Gospel has not changed and I’m still in love with Jesus! 

Today’s parable still invites that same fervor and asks us to do whatever we need to do in order to live the Gospel. Perhaps there is another reason that Jesus shared this parable with us. It is a reminder, reinforcing the parables we have heard in recent readings. Think about it for a minute. Who would not be thrilled at finding a huge treasure? The early days of the find would no doubt be exciting. Yet, the newness and the excitement of the treasure naturally would wane after years of managing the investment, giving some of it to charities, and making sure it grew. There would be a constant sense of well-being if the treasure was doing well, but would there always be that early passion and fervor? It takes work and constant diligence to maintain such enthusiasm.

Poem Recommendation Regarding from Barbara Ferreris | “The Find”

Looking to delve deeper for that “buried treasure?” Barbara recommends the following poem by Catholic author and poet Anthony De Mello, entitled The Find, from his 1984 book on spiritual exercises, Wellsprings.

Jesus says, “Here is a picture of the kingdom. It is like a treasure buried in a field. The man who found it went and, through joy, sold everything he had- and bought that field.”

I have a treasure:
the thing I value most in life.
I relive the events
that led me to discover it.

I think of the history of my life
from the time I found this treasure…
what it has done for me
and meant to me.

I stand before this treasure (God or Jesus Christ
or a conviction, value, or ideal
or a person, task or mission)
and I say, “Of all the things I have
you are the dearest.”
And I see what happens to me
when I pronounce that sentence.

I think how much I would gladly do
or give (even life itself, maybe)
in order to preserve this treasure.
If it is not that important,
I acknowledge this with sadness—
and I hope for a day when I shall find a treasure
for which through sheer joy I shall be ready to give up

I am a treasure.
Someday, somewhere, someone discovered me.
I should have no awareness of my worth
if someone had not found it.
I recall and relive the details of the finding.

I am a multifaceted treasure.
There were many things concealed in me
that different people drew out
and revealed to me.
I joyfully review each one of these
and gratefully remember the persons who
uncovered them.

Finally, I stand before the Lord
and find, to my surprise,
that he considers me a treasure.
I see reflected in his eyes in the many lovely facets
that only he could have observed in me
and I rest in the love He gives me.

Today’s Gospel reminds me that I cannot become complacent with the great gift I have been given. Outward appearances may suggest that all is going well, but often it seems the ordinary concerns of life take precedence over everything else, and the reign of God is taken for granted. Jesus reminds us that we can never lapse into complacency. We do not know the hour or the day of the Lord’s return. One way I’d test my fervor in light of today’s Gospel would be to ask myself: “Do I still reach out in love to others with the same commitment as always? Is there still an urgency to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the world?

After surrendering to Jesus at a retreat many years ago, He took my heart and my life and placed me in a position to share this urgency to preach and teach the gospel. I am entering into my 29th year of ministry in the realm of faith formation and it has been quite a journey. I could not have found a more perfect treasure to share than my love and passion for Christ and His church through this ministry. I am humbled that God sees fit to use me, in spite of myself, to help bring about His Kingdom here and now.

How could I not respond?

Peace of Christ,
Barbara Ferreris

Tilling The Garden | Deacon Reflections | The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

We are in the second of three weeks of readings where Jesus is using parables, or short morality stories, to teach us about the Kingdom of God. Why does Jesus use parables? By speaking in parables, Jesus grants understanding to those who are seeking after Him – revealing truth to those who are willing to listen and thoughtfully consider what He has to say. Conversely, those whose hearts are hardened against Him have the truth hidden from them.

Last week, we learned through the Parable of the Seed and the Sower what type of soil the seed fell on. We can liken this to the Word of God being planted in our hearts. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus shares with us the Parables of the Weeds among the Wheat and the Mustard Seed, both referring to some of the choices we have to make in our lives. We are all aware of our free will. Jesus never forces Himself on anyone. We always have choices to make, and whether they’re good or not so good, we still have the freedom to choose.

We have an idea about how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to love one another and help each other build His kingdom here on earth as we wait for the day to be with Him in Heaven, even though we know that isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. God has given us the freedom to make our own choices and, unfortunately, sometimes we decide to do things our own way and not follow Jesus. These are the times when we become the weeds in the crop.

It’s like trying to keep up your lawn. You fertilize it. You water it. You try not to trample on it, if you can avoid it.  Then, out of the blue, weeds start to pop up.  We tend to just pull them as we see fit.  Many times, when we pull those weeds, we can see that we’re also uprooting the good grass. So, what do we do?  We treat it. We nurture the grass. We continue to work on eliminating the weeds over time. If we’re consistent in this, it will be difficult for that weed to return.

This is akin to our spiritual life. We need to nurture our relationship with God through prayer, scripture, the sacraments, etc. Oftentimes, weeds (sins) get in the way and try to uproot the good that we are also trying to do. That’s when we need to fertilize and use the gifts and resources God has given us. The Mass, the Rosary, and Reconciliation are just a few of the “lawn tools” to keep our field (our heart) in order.

How are you tending to the weeds in your life? How will you continue to allow the Lord to fertilize your heart? My prayer is that the Master Gardener will sift through and sort out all the weeds in our hearts so that we may produce a bountiful harvest for Him!

Peace of Christ,
Deacon Ray Ferreris

The Rocky Parts | Friar Reflections | The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

All three readings this weekend have, as a motif, creation and its penchant of bringing forth life. In the reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah (55:10-11) the Lord likens His word to a seed that “will not return (to Him) void, but shall do (His) will, achieving the end for which (God) sent it.” However, as the second reading, Romans 8:18-23, explains “creation was made subject to futility yet awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” Today’s Gospel from Matthew (13:1-23) is the well known, and well worn, Parable of the Sower, which I think brings to light the other two readings.

Christ sows the Good News of the Kingdom of God in the world despite the fact that much of the soil is unsuitable for it to grow. However, “some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” During the time of Jesus, a fivefold yield on a crop was considered good. How extraordinarily good is the yield of the Word sown by God!

When I reflect on these readings, I have to admit that I have rocky parts of my heart that resist the alluring Word of Christ. My mind is sometimes filled with the chatter of flying birds that distract me from hearing the Word of Christ. Despite all of this, I know that there is still a part of my heart open to receive The Good News of God’s unconditional love and have His love travel to my hands and feet to act on that Good News.

At Baptism and Confirmation, the Holy Spirit was sown in our hearts. We must make the conditions right for the presence of the Spirit to grow within us. The seed of faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit grows through prayer, participation in the sacraments, and being part of a faith community. All these things will help us bear the fruit of charity which shows us, and the world, that our faith is alive for all to see.

We don’t need to do big things for God. All we need to do is do the ordinary, everyday things out of love for God and others. I’m paraphrasing St. Mother Theresa here. We are currently in Ordinary Time during the Church’s liturgical year. It’s hot and muggy here in Tampa and all we have to look forward to even hotter and muggier weather in August. Keep doing the good you are already doing no matter how small, and don’t worry about the yield of your goodness.

Goodness is its own reward, for the good that we do has its origin in God. Through the goodness we do, we will be revealed as “the children of God.”

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve

Building Blocks | Our Next Giving from the Heart | August 12, 2023

In our continued effort to meet the growing needs of the Tampa/Hillsborough County community, Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive-through donation event on Saturday, August 12, at the North Campus from 10 a.m. to noon.

In our continued effort to meet the needs of the Tampa/Hillsborough community, Sacred Heart is holding its latest Giving from the Heart drive-through donation event on Saturday, August 12, at the North Campus from 10 a.m. to noon. As the parish approaches the three year anniversary of this successful program, the Outreach Committee wishes to thank all of our volunteers, parishioners, and donors for their commitment to these drives and those that benefit from them. With our next drive, the emphasis is on providing the building blocks for success to our neighbors in need. The beneficiaries of the August drive are St. Peter Claver Catholic School, and the Tampa Hope Homeless Shelter.

At St. Peter Claver School, as with any school, teachers and students are in need of school supplies to ensure a path to success in the classroom. On average, a family will spend more than $600 per student per year on supplies, with teachers often spending upwards of $1000 annually, filling the gaps that often arise within their class’s needs. To best serve the students of this historic, downtown Catholic school, parishioners are encouraged to donate any amount the following items:

Click to View St. Peter Claver School Needs List
  • Zip Lock Bags (all sizes)
  • Plastic Folders w/Pockets (blue)
  • 2 Pencils (10ct)
  • Crayons (24ct)
  • Ball Point Pens (blue & black)
  • Paint Brushes (various sizes)
  • Binder Clips (various sizes)
  • Post-it Notes (various sizes)
  • Assorted Construction Paper
  • Copier Paper (white)
  • Crayola Markers (8 or 10ct)
  • Elmer’s Liquid Glue (8oz)
  • Elmer’s Glue Sitcks
  • 3”x5” Index Cards
  • Colored Pencils
  • Notebook Paper (either rule)
  • Sanitizing Wipes & Spray
  • Scotch Tape (3 pack)
  • Facial Tissues
  • Paper Towels

Additionally, the parish will be collecting gift cards and donations to aid St. Peter Claver in updating classroom first aid kits.

At Tampa Hope, volunteers assist the unhoused with temporary shelter, food, clothing, and counsel, putting residents on a path toward self-sufficiency. Sacred Heart is a founding partner of the shelter, with our parishioners regularly volunteering to meet the needs of residents. To best serve our neighbors in need, parishioners may donate any amount of the following items:

Click to View Tampa Hope Needs List
  • Toiletries (soaps, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors)
  • Used Clothing, including shoes, sandals, rain gear, hats
  • Towels, Tissues, Toilet Paper
  • New Undergarments
  • New and Used Linens
  • Blankets, Pillows
  • Disposable Kitchen Supplies, Cutlery
  • Used or Broken Bicycles
  • Cleaning Supplies, including laundry detergent, dish soap
  • Paper Towels
  • Water, juices, coffee
  • Microwaveable meals
  • Snacks (crackers, chips)
  • Breakfast food (cereal, bars, oats)

Additional information and needs list updates will be available on this page as they are received. As always, the church appreciates your attentiveness and generosity for these drives.

Staff Side Notes | Come All You Weary

Dear Parishioners,

Fr. Zack rightly asserts in his reflection for the 14 SIOT that Jesus’ invitation to shelter and rest are some of his most gentle words in the Gospels, and that invitation is central to our roles as His followers. While the word “rest” may intimate a pause from work or the growing number of responsibilities we all share (and that could entirely be a necessary avenue for those who are indeed weary), we know Jesus is eager to aid in rest for our souls. This is the rest that we all long for, the rest that will one day be uninterrupted in the bliss of heaven.

It is no coincidence that we heard this same Gospel three weeks ago as we celebrated our parish feast, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart. “Behold the heart that has so loved humanity,” wrote St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in her journals recounting Jesus’ words to her as He appeared bestowing the Sacred Heart. As His followers, we are called to extend the invitation of rest for those around us who are weary. While we all face our own challenges and tribulations, there are times when our burden allows us to shoulder that of others, and times when we ourselves are the ones in need of help. We can emulate His love for humanity and the love of His Sacred Heart with those who are burdened.

Equally, we can turn to Him when we are burdened. This Gospel stands out to me more than most, as it was an invitation to reengage with my faith after I had fallen away from the Church when I was in college. That reconnection didn’t come from a traditional source per se, like hearing the Gospel at Mass, or reading its verses during a bible study. Alternative-rock band Thrice, known for occasionally mixing Christian themes and theology into their songs, released “Come All You Weary” in 2008, a first-person take on Jesus’ invitation featuring a folk, or almost country-western feel, with slow-building acoustic guitars and gravelly vocals. I am a big fan of the band, both then and now, and drew to the song like a moth to a flame. I had lost faith in the work I was doing. I had stopped attending Mass. I had stopped praying. Then I found this song, and its reminder that He is always there to give us rest.

“Come all you weary, you cripples, you lame
I’ll help you along, you can lay down your canes
We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll travel as friends
The light’s growing bright, further up, further in.”

I encourage you to listen to the song once or twice this week, and consider ways to embody His invitation to those around you. You can find the song from this link.

Rob Boelke, Manager of Communications

Seeking Rest | Friar Reflections | The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Parishioners,

Busy, Busy, Busy! Life at times seems to be an endless roller coaster transporting us from one event to another, sometimes even making us unaware how we got there in the first place! We can come home from a trip, be it work related or for pleasure, and still find ourselves being exhausted and feel the need that we need a vacation from our vacation! Well, today we hear of Jesus’ most gentle words in the Bible:

“Come to me, all you who labor and
are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

These are some of the best words in the Gospels, and they have great relevance for us. During His lifetime, Jesus lived among the ordinary people. He knew at firsthand how busy and burdensome life was for them as well. Consequently, He had sympathy for ordinary people and wanted to lighten their burdens, hence, His invitation. Many people accepted that invitation and came to Him with their burdens of sickness and anxiety. All had their burdens lightened as a result of meeting Him. His mere presence could bring peace to an anguished soul. We too, need to accept His invitation and come to him with our burdens. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will have no burdens. Some burdens we just have to bear. But He does give us the strength to carry them. Not all burdens are physical, and although physical sleep may help our tired mind, its fatigue is not solely caused by the limited energies of the body. There is a weariness that also afflicts the mind. This weariness, a labor and a burden, can at times become too much for us.

Read this week’s Staff Side Notes, as Rob Boelke expands upon
Fr. Zack’s reflection with his connection to this Gospel.

We strive to be responsible people, taking care of our affairs and loved ones. Jesus suggests that the mind rests by disengaging from its wise and learned status and by embracing its childlike status. Its child status is to recognize its relationship to higher realities of which it is a part and on which it can rely. The mind can rest in the soul and the soul can rest in God. Jesus knows how this happens, and He invites all who feel labored and burdened with excess sense of responsibility and control to put on his easier yoke and pick up his lighter burden.

Perhaps it wise to step off of the roller coaster at times and hop onto the Merry-Go-Round; there will still be ups and downs, but the scenery passes by at a more leisurely pace!

Peace and All Good,
. Zack