from Fr. Chris
driving in a circle
May 22, 2022
Dear SPA Family,
In this weekend's Gospel, Jesus says very important words: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
To believe is not only to know, to be acquainted; it is also to accept something for truth; it is to trust that someone is telling the truth; it is to trust someone; it is to hold something as true despite the lack of evidence to prove it; it is also remembering, agreeing. However, to believe is, above all, to love, trust, and share what is in the heart with those around us.
To believe Jesus is to love Him and live His Word, His teaching, and do His will. And in doing so, we believe and love God the Father Himself. These relationships should always be personal and vivid. And for this we must pray very much, especially to the Holy Spirit.
How often many baptized people do not live a Christian life, do not pray, do not participate in the Eucharist, live in sins, ignore God ... Why? Because their faith and love are very superficial, shallow. And “whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
A priest from my hometown who is working in Siberia once took a group of poor children on a train trip. Many of these children have never traveled by train. They left at night for a neighboring town located 350 miles from their town. They all took their places in the sleeping car. An 8-year-old girl fell asleep next to the priest sitting in his seat. In the morning he was awakened by the scream of that girl: “Father! Father! Look out the window” – and without waiting for the priest’s reaction, she said: “I only see trees all the time. Father! We are driving in a circle!”
Very often in our spiritual life, in our faith, we ride in a circle. We are afraid or we don’t want to go deeper, inside, towards the center. That is why sometimes, everything within us is such a weak and fruitless walking on the surface, spinning around in a circle. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that Christ may always be at the center of our life, that His teaching may be truly carried out by us with love, and then “My Father and I will come to him(us), and we will live with him(you).”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote a letter one day to an unknown mother of a three-year-old child and included the following words in it: “Ma’am, familiarize your child with the Gospel and teach him to believe strictly according to the catechism. This is the basis. Otherwise, you won’t raise a good person. At best, he will become a sufferer, at worst, selfish or worse. You won’t find anything better than Christ, believe me, ma’am.”
Have a blessed Easter Season. Fr. Chris Ciastoń
culture of love
May 15, 2022
Dear SPA Family,
We hear so often today in public space about ‘hate speech,’ about a wave of hate, and so rarely about ‘love speech.’ Especially now, when the election campaign is underway, we are witnessing in the mass & social media many words full of hate, aggression, spoken at other people, other candidates. What happened that instead of using the language of love, respect, we began to offend each other, hate each other, talk contemptuously about others, that in one house, at a shared table, it is impossible to talk normally, because an argument soon breaks out, that someone is burning some stupidity, and in a moment a whole flock of ‘parrots’ repeats it mindlessly; quoting, linking, tweeting, emailing, etc.
However, let’s not play politics, but look at ourselves, at our everyday behavior, verbal taunts to our loved ones... What is the value of my word today? I’m afraid it has no value. But why? ...because I don't care... because I do not take responsibility for the words that I say...
There is a saying in Polish, “What’s in the heart is on the tip of the tongue.” So maybe there is too much anger, hatred and all kinds of judgments in my heart, and the language only externalizes it? A beautiful word flows from my heart (Ps 45: 2). What word comes from my heart? From my lips? Beautiful or… dirty? Full of love or hate?
More and more often we hear disturbing information that a middle school student cannot withstand the verbal tension of her friends, that a young, ambitious, and talented student cannot handle peer pressure. Why is this happening? Probably we will never find out... Maybe it is the ‘bad’ word that poisons the blood, thoughts, soul, and heart of such people. Let us do a kind of examination of conscience from the ‘quality’ of spoken words.
Probably each of us has noticed a specific mechanism whereby violence breeds violence, malevolence generates unkindness, aggression breeds aggression, etc. It takes great determination and self-denial to respond with good to the experienced evil. Therefore, Jesus gives us a very valuable indication: I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another (Jn 13:34). And it is not only an indication to repay with good for the good received from others. Jesus does not encourage but obliges us as his disciples to do good in a place of evil, to overcome evil with good. If we really start to live this commandment, we will quickly find out that it is worth living for one love and bearing all the hardships for it.
Maybe this is a piece of advice and a tip for today’s times? Seek God and His indications and always be guided in life by the commandment of love. Will then all ‘bad speech’ disappear from our tongue? I don’t know, but if we don’t start talking about it, don’t start taking care of the culture of our language, then the world will not be better, it will be worse. The Risen Christ will say to his frightened, fearful disciples: Do not be afraid! Take courage! So we too, with all the greater determination and love, let us take care that in our everyday life there is more ‘speech of love,’ ‘culture of love’ and healthy humanity...
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35). A difficult challenge, but how beautiful and how much we need it today!
Have a blessed Easter Season. Fr. Chris Ciastoń
May 8, 2022
Dear SPA Family,
The psychology says that a sense of security is an indispensable element of the proper development of a child’s personality. He grows being aware of belonging to a group or a person. Even a naughty child, disciplined by his parents, does not lose his sense of security and joy because he knows that he belongs to them. The family is a natural community in which we can find the satisfaction of this need.
Human desires, however, exceed the material dimension, hence the need for belonging to a community that, starting here on earth, reaches its fullness in eternity. This community cannot even be threatened by death. Only in God can such a community be built. Jesus stands before us as the Good Shepherd who welcomes and guides us like a sheep shepherd. This Shepherd can be trusted because He gave His life for His sheep and rose for them. He is still present in His Church, which we call the Mystical Body of Christ. We belong to this community in this life, and we will belong to the next one.
However, it is not enough that Christ knows us. In order to be in His flock, we ourselves must get to know our Shepherd. Without this knowledge, we can miss our Shepherd. Knowing Christ is knowing about His life and teaching. But this knowledge is only a good start to true knowing and loving.
Getting to know Christ, we discover that we can trust in Him, trust Him completely and love Him more than life. And this will lead us to the highest level of knowledge, which makes us to listen to what the Shepherd says to us and with love we follow Him. And then we can joyfully repeat with the Psalmist: ‘The Lord, my Shepherd, there is nothing I want.’
In 1974 in China, in the Yellow River valley, workers accidentally discovered the priceless life-size figure of a warrior on a chariot drawn by two horses. Research has shown that this find has more than 2,000. years. In the course of further excavation work, about 6,000 similar figures were discovered. It was the entire army that the Emperor of China had carved and buried with him. The emperor was known for his fear of death. That army of carved figures was to defend him from his enemies after death. In dead sculptures, he looked for support and encouragement after death.
The Good Shepherd passed from death to life, therefore His sheep are always safe, even when they pass through the ‘dark valley of death.’
This Sunday, we celebrate Mother’s Day, so I want to write a few sentences about one of the most beautiful love – mother’s love. The beauty of this love is closest to the love that God gives to each of us. Mother’s love takes thousands of shapes in everyday life. An awakened mother bends over the screaming baby in the middle of the night. She waits anxiously for the late return of her child. She embraces her children in her heart, when others make them feel abandoned. She sheds tears when her baby goes through difficult times in his life. She never stops loving, like God.
Have a blessed week and Happy Mother's Day. Fr. Chris Castoń