From the Pastor’s Desk

Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!


June 16, 2019 | Trinity Sunday

Happy Father’s Day to all dads and men who have been fatherly figures in our life! And how appropriate that Father’s Day this year falls on the Sunday we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a celebration of the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Father’s Day celebrates the relationship of the father with his family.

Over the years of being a priest, I’ve come to realize that for some, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day evoke painful memories of past or current experience of an abusive or absent parent. For those of you for whom this is true, I pray for the healing of your memories, or if current, I pray for that parent to seek professional help. While we all have our faults and failings, and there is no “perfect” parent, a physically or emotionally abusive parent needs to be lovingly confronted to get help to understand the devastating consequences of their behavior on their spouse and children. Likely something of their own past needs to be healed so that an abusive parent can become a better parent, and model the bond between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As Jesus speaks about the Spirit that he will send his disciples, the description becomes a mini-discourse on the Trinity. Jesus pledges to the disciples that the Spirit will keep them aware of who he is. Jesus, who had already proclaimed that he is the truth, now promises that the Spirit will guide them to all truth. He says that everything that the Father has is his and promises that the Spirit will give them what belongs to him. If the pronouns have been confusing and you are not sure who “he” is, that is because the three of them are described as one. Jesus taught that he and the Father are one, and that everything that the Father has is his. Now, he says that his work will be carried on through the Spirit, who will share with the disciples what belongs to him – and therefore to the Father. In this Gospel, Jesus promises the Spirit as the energy or bond that will bring his disciples to share his own union with God. So, as God as Father loves the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, dads are called into that intimate relationship with God and their spouses and children. So, on this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate the BEST in our dad. Let us be grateful for all they have done for us, and let them know of our gratitude. Let us pray for them that they will be faithful to their vocation. And for those of us (including myself) whose fathers are deceased, let us be thankful for good memories and pray they are at home with our Heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

Father Don

June 9, 2019 | Pentecost Sunday

This Sunday is the conclusion of Easter’s Fifty Days. The season of unabashed joy and gratitude is coming to its end. Although we tend to view Pentecost as a singular, standalone event, it is in fact the pinnacle of Easter. The 50 days between the bursting open of the tomb and the overflowing of the Spirit, does the full awareness of what it is to live in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ finally dawn. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, like the empty tomb, is hard for us to get our heads around. But as with the Easter event, there is some wonderful “evidence” left behind, clues that give us a glimpse of the ineffable, the unimaginable. I’m not talking doves or tongues of fire. The Spirit is evidenced by faith in action – the faith of the first church and our faith today. We know the Spirit is with us today because the church continues to journey together in spite of great human frailty, intractable pride and sexual sin. There is a new book out by Brian Flanagan that I want to read, entitled “Stumbling in Holiness: Sin and Sanctity in the Church.” We know the Spirit is with us because there are still heroes among us who choose justice over law and pay the prophet’s price. We know the Spirit is with us because men and women from many nations and faiths hear the same message of peace, compassion and human dignity.

We also know that forgiveness is integral to the mystery of salvation. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus connects healing to forgiveness. He says, “Your sins have been forgiven you” or “your faith has saved you.” And in his last breath, Jesus proclaims his forgiveness for the ones who have crucified him. Forgiveness, freely given by God to us through Christ, is our gift to one another as inheritors of His Spirit. Forgiveness is not an option. If we want to live like the redeemed, it must be our currency in the world. It must be ours because it was His. In the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses for Reconciliation the prayer says: “For though the human race is divided by dissension and discord yet we know that by testing us you change our hearts to prepare them for reconciliation. Even more, by your Spirit you move human hearts that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands, and peoples seek to meet together.” Our first reading today gives us the description of the Pentecost event. But, as I said in the beginning of this article, Pentecost is not a singular event….it is the pinnacle of the 50 days between the resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Our Gospel reading today is “on the evening of the first day of the week” – so Easter Sunday night. Jesus appeared to His disciples and He breathed on them saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” We commonly interpret this passage to be the beginning of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and it is. But, the Holy Spirit empowers all the baptized, not just the ordained priest, to be reconcilers. We are all called to forgive the sins of those who trespass against us. If we are to make a life of loving and forgiving one another, we need the Spirit now every bit as much as the apostles need the Spirit after the resurrection. The good news is, we have the Spirit, and this gift is the only one that really keeps on giving!

Blessed end of the Easter Season!

Father Don

June 2, 2019 | Ascension Sunday

Our behalf of the parish community, I offer congratulations to all our parish graduates in the class of 2019! Whether from college and universities, high school, grammar school, kindergarten, schools of technology or professional career training, congratulations on your accomplishments and the discovery and development of your God given talents! May you all have a bright future!!

While I was away on vacation in California May 15th – 23rd, a scripture passage came to mind several times: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place – what are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals, that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4- 5) Visiting Yosemite for the first time and experiencing the grandeur of El Capitan, the valleys and streams, and the powerfully flowing waterfalls (they had 180% of normal snowfall this year) and standing next to the giant Sequoias, I could only marvel at the grandness of God’s creation. That scripture passage came to mind again when I visited what I call the “outdoor cathedral.” There is a grove of costal redwood trees called Armstrong Woods in Guerneville. Some of these majestic redwoods are over 300 feet tall, 15 feet in diameter and 1,400 years old. It is the calmest and most still place on earth that I have ever been. It is so quiet that you can hear yourself think! And the intriguing and mysterious play of the sun light making its way through some of the trees adds to the specialness of this place. That scripture passage came to mind again when I went to the ocean at Bodega Bay, Jenner, and Fort Ross. Sitting and just being lulled into mindlessness by the rhythm of the waves one can only be refreshed and renewed. In all these places, I realized that God does have a plan. The millions and thousands of years it took for Yosemite to be carved, the redwoods and sequoias to grow, the ocean to form around the continents, God did this so that in time, we humans, mere mortals, could enjoy His creation. The beauty we see in nature today was created for US to enjoy today! “What are humans that you are mindful of them….Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet: All sheep and oxen, even the beast of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the seas, and whatever swims the paths of the seas. O Lord, our God, how awesome is your name through all the earth! May we be good stewards of what we have been given rule over!

Next weekend is Pentecost Sunday, the conclusion of the Easter Season. In addition to decorations and flowers, we encourage you to be a part of the celebration by wearing some red, yellow, or orange. And finally, please keep Fr. Mark in your prayers this week as he will be away on a silent retreat at Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, June 3rd through 7th. Have a blessed final week of the Easter Season!

Fr Don

May 26, 2019 | Sixth Sunday of Easter

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus promises, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Peace? What does Jesus mean by that? On this weekend that we observe Memorial Day, honoring those who gave their lives in battles for peace and freedom, peace still seems to be elusive in our day. Despite the victories in past wars, and despite all of the energy and resources we put into protecting ourselves, we still are not at peace. Perhaps we are looking for peace in the wrong place. Jesus urges, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” His words refocus us to the question, “What needs to happen in our hearts so that we can find peace.?” In contrast to today’s uneasy balance of power, Jesus modeled an authentic peace, which is far beyond what the world can offer. It is a peace that begins and ends in love. Tensions in families are often unavoidable. However, which is more likely to bring reassuring healing to this friction? Anger and revenge, or compassion and forgiveness? Turbulence in the markets can leave us greedily scrambling for an economic advantage, or we can humbly trust God to provide for our needs. Fear can alert us that something is dangerously wrong, but it can also paralyze us in the face of the threat. Solid solutions come from unruffled confidence and strong faith. Stress can keep us up at night, damage our health and suck the joy out of life. If we relax our bodies and quiet our brains, we can approach life with a more productive focus. We can become hardened to the strangers waiting at our borders, sleeping under our bridges, or languishing in our jails. Or the strangers can become our brothers and sisters, as we can extend a warm embrace, a helping hand and a patient concern. In the end, we can allow the world’s anxieties to empty our hearts, or we can open them to the fullness of love. What we can do as Christians to make peace when we find ourselves trapped in division and turmoil? In his priceless wisdom, Jesus gives His love freely and encourage us to invite His Spirit of love to dwell in our hearts. If we live in that love, we will be transformed into the peace Christ promises!

A couple of things you may have noticed (or not)…… one, to make it easier for those with disabilities, we have installed automatic power assist to one door at every entrance to the church and one into the PLC from the church vestibule. In the past, the only door with power assist was at the rear of the church off the small parking lot. Secondly, we have installed new sconce lighting in church. The old fixtures were inefficient and some were broken. The new fixtures are attractive and contain highly efficient LED bulbs. Thanks to Steve Dodd who planned and installed all of the new fixtures gratis. We are also looking at more efficient and brighter lighting for the church. Next, using the profits from last years’ MercyFest, new sound system equipment is being installed in the church on May 28th and 29th. And, last of all, there is a 10 slot bicycle rack near the entrance of church. A smaller rack is back by the chapel.

Have a safe Memorial Day holiday, and join us for Mass on Memorial Day at 9:00AM.

Fr Don

May 19, 2019 | Fifth Sunday of Easter

This weekend I am away on vacation. For all the times I have visited California, I have never been to Yosemite National Park. It’s been on my “bucket list” ever since I watched the Ken Burns series on the history of our national parks. By the time you read this article I will have been there, as I flew to Sacramento on Wednesday and spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the park. Saturday through this coming Thursday I will be…guess where? The wine country of Sonoma County visiting friends there. Today, I am celebrating Sunday Masses at St. John the Baptist parish in Healdsburg. See you next weekend!!

Some thoughts about today’s gospel…. “I give you a new commandment”….certainly love of one another was not something new – read Leviticus 19:18. But what was new was to love one another as JESUS loved. This is the astonishing difference in loving if we are to be Jesus’ disciples. Let’s look at the characteristics of Jesus’ love and ask ourselves if those characteristics can be seen in our love.

Jesus’ love was unconditional. While hanging on the cross in agony, he forgave those who crucified him. Mary’s husband Tom was an abusive alcoholic. To protect herself and her children, they divorced. Her ex continued on his downward path. When his alcoholism destroyed his liver, and he was down and out and needed help, Mary cared for him until he died. Like Jesus’ love, hers was unconditional.

Jesus’ love was sacrificial. His first great sacrifice was becoming human. Jesus accepted the limits of time and space to embrace our humanity so that he could save us. When Kay learned that her brother-in-law needed a kidney, she agreed to be tested. She was a match. Despite the fact that she had three young children, she donated her kidney to save his life. Like Jesus’ love, hers was sacrificial.

Jesus loved social as well as the rich leaders. Jesus’ love did not discriminate. Jesus dined with prostitutes and tax collectors – as well as with Jewish leaders, the Pharisees, and scribes. Chris passed by a homeless man every evening when he was on her way to the train station. One day he stopped and asked him what he needed. Wise or not, he brought him home for the night. Chris and his family helped someone whom others had rejected. Like Jesus’ love, theirs did not discriminate.

Jesus treated all as equals. Jesus healed lepers and the Roman centurion’s servant. He washed the feet of the disciples and healed the pagan woman’s daughter. Joey was six when he ran ahead of his parents while touring Chicago’s lakefront. When they caught up with him, he was sitting on a stoop, chatting with a homeless, toothless man. Both were smiling. Like Jesus, Joey not only treated this man as an equal, he truly believed they were equals.

Jesus’s love was compassionate. Jesus had compassion for the widow of Nain and raised her only son to life. Jesus saw a hungry crowd and multiplied loaves and fish to feed them. Many OLM parishioners volunteer at Hesed House to help the homeless. Like Jesus’ love, theirs is compassionate.

As we continue the Easter Season, I wish you joy!

Fr Don

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