from Fr. Chris
December 3rd, 2023
Dear SPA Family,
I remember the first time I took a boat trip on the Chicago River. I remember the color of the river’s water. Closer to the Chicago Harbor Lock, which leads to Lake Michigan, I noticed that the water was turning ‘bluer.’ After passing the lock, the waters turned into crystalline and its unusual blue-turquoise color. The color of the water reflected the pristine blue of the sky. As the clouds came and covered the sun, the water turned gray in the lake and the blue of the sky disappeared. Back on Michigan Ave, one of the participants of the trip said: “I was in heaven for a while.” Indeed, our earthly world can charm us with its beauty and give us a foretaste of heaven. Side note: in the Polish language, there is only one word for heaven and sky - niebo. Therefore, sky and heaven are the same thing for me:-)
The biblical heaven partly becomes our share here on earth, which is the place where it is conquered. We are sailing on the endless ocean. Above us, there’s the blue of the sky/heaven and the sun. This Sun is Christ, who says about Himself: “I am the light for the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Sometimes, clouds appear in the sky of our life to obscure this Sun. These clouds take the shape of sin and all the evil that separates us not only from God but also from our neighbor. When they obscure Christ, our spiritual world turns gray and the heaven to which we are all called disappears from the horizon of our lives. Someday the time will come, when the image of the reflected sky/heaven in earth’s reality will disappear, only heaven will remain. And this will happen at the end of time when Christ returns to judge the world.
The anticipation of Jesus’ return at the end of time is the main theme of the Advent beginning. To be vigilant/watchful means to use the time to grow in holiness. Metaphorically speaking, it is to remove from the blue of your sky/heaven all the clouds of evil that obscure Christ. In this vigilance and growing in holiness, prayer, reading a pious book, retreats, additional devotions are important, and all this is what the Church encourages us to do during Advent. But all this would mean nothing if it had not intensified love for God and neighbor, which is the most important path to holiness and the surest preparation to meet Christ in the end times.
Advent preparation for meeting with Christ in the end times takes place in the charming atmosphere of preparation for Christmas. Our four-week preparation for the Holy Days evokes the expectation of the Chosen People for the coming of the promised Messiah. This prophecy was fulfilled for every Christian, when the sky was flared up over Bethlehem and a star of extraordinary brightness appeared, announcing the birth of the child, who was named Jesus. The memory of this event very often dominates our Advent preparations. And sometimes it replaces all preparation. Of course, the external beauty of Advent preparations, colorful Christmas trees, gifts, carol melodies, a common Christmas table, an atmospheric nativity scene in the parish church are needed. They fill our hearts with beauty, gentleness, goodness, love and help us prepare to meet the greatest Love that will embrace us and open the gates of the end times for us.
Have a blessed week. Fr. Chris
Christ is my King!
November 26th, 2023
Dear Spa Family,
What are you doing for Jesus? How do you express your love for Him?
These are very specific questions.
You may tell me that you pray, that you go to church, that you confess, etc.… That’s good. But I keep asking. What is the result of it? What do you do for Jesus after prayer, after Holy Mass, after confession? You can fulfill all your religious practices wonderfully and not notice the person who needs your help.
At the end of time, we will be judged by love...
But it’s not about some sentimental, emotional love, love from a soap opera. It is not only about love that leads us to prayer and the Eucharist. It’s about specific acts of love. However, someone may misunderstand me and say: Aha... so if we are judged by love, which is expressed in concrete help, then why should I pray? I will be a good person and that will be enough.
Well, no. It’s not enough. Do this, that is, pray, nourish yourself with the Eucharist, confess, and do not abandon the other. Both realities go hand in hand. They are inseparable. Actions of love are the fruit of prayer. The one who truly prays sees the needs of others, especially those who are suffering.
It is a great mystery that Jesus identifies Himself with the poor and abandoned. He is hidden in all the suffering faces of the modern world.
This is what God tells us today through the word of the Gospel. On the day of judgment, the day of Christ’s second coming to earth, we will be judged by love. We will be judged by our acts of love. Our ignorance towards the sick, the hungry, the abandoned, and the homeless is ignorance towards Christ. Our ministry to those whom the world ignores is a ministry to Christ Himself. This, in turn, will result in life with God forever.
An unrivaled example of concrete love for the poor is Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. A person deeply united with God. She devoted many hours to prayer. But it is not everything. She went out to the streets, to the poor, to the homeless, to the sick who were literally rotting in the gutter.
A journalist came to report on her work. A few days later, during a conversation, he said to Mother Teresa: “Mother, I wouldn’t do it, even for a million dollars.” She replied, “Me neither.”
Where was the secret of this beautiful ministry? She discovered Jesus in the faces of the sick and the poor. For her, every suffering person was ‘another Christ.’ Everything she did, she did for Jesus. She did not live with sentimental and emotional love for Jesus. Her life, her love – it was concrete! After her death, she was judged by love. Today the Church honors her as a Saint.
At the end of time, we will be judged by love...
Jesus is practical, love is practical. Let’s be practical and specific in love. Let’s look around! There are many people around us who need our help. There are many ‘faces of Christ’ around us that need our love.
“Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!” – “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands” Happy Christ the King Weekend. Fr. Chris