2-18-2018 – Message from Father Jim

Reflections on the First Sunday of Lent

“Come back to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12) This is God’s personal call to each member of the Church. God speaks in the first person: “Come back to me with all you heart.” This is His message every Lent and this is why Lent is such a powerful season. It is in this season more than any other that God speaks to us. He calls. He enters personally into people’s lives. He knocks at people’s hearts. God wants us for Himself. His love for us is very intimate for He knows each of us in the depths of our being. He knows that people cannot be satisfied unless they return and are converted to God alone. How can we return to God and be converted to Him alone? Conversion begins by taking a good look inside of ourselves and placing ourselves in God’s presence. Then our hearts and minds can begin to awaken. Conversion cannot happen in the midst of distraction. Hopefully, God’s holy presence and love, which calls us to come back to Him with all our heart, is the climate of Lent from Ash Wednesday up until the Sacred Triduum – which are the three great feasts of Holy Week: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

This holy season can also serve as a wonderful opportunity for us to evangelize. I’m sure we all know someone who is not quite as active in his or her faith as he or she could be. Now would be a perfect time for us to invite them to come back to the Church. It doesn’t matter what one’s past has been because we can always begin anew. It is important for us to remind those who feel alienated from the Church of this.

May the grace and peace of the Season of Lent be with all of you!

God bless you always!
Fr. Jim Volkert

04-09-2017-Message From Father Jim

Reflections on Palm Sunday
Today we recall the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. His arrival is accompanied by the excitement of the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the Passover shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Yet we know that it won’t be long before that excitement fades. Already now among the crowd, some Pharisees ask Jesus to tell the people to be quiet, to stop the shouts of praise. Jesus simply replies: “If they were to keep silence, I tell you the very stones would cry out”.

These past weeks of Lent we had the opportunity to renew and strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ. Hopefully the excitement with which we welcomed Jesus into our hearts as we began the journey on Ash Wednesday has not faded. During this time we have united our hearts and minds to His as we made attempts to renew ourselves in body, mind and spirit. We have confronted the sins and temptations that we struggle with and hopefully have made a clear resolution to at least begin to change.

Now, our journey leads us to Holy Week. Again, we must not let the excitement fade. Today, as we cry out “Hosanna to the Son of David”, we are invited to go up to Jerusalem with Jesus to unite ourselves with Him. Jesus’ journey took Him from the exuberance of His entrance into Jerusalem to the suffering and passion that was waiting for Him on Mount Calvary. Jesus accepted the human limitations that were placed on Him. The Second Reading at today’s Mass from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians reminds us that we must have the same
attitude of Christ. As we reflect on the Passion, on Jesus’ suffering and death, we are invited to have the same attitude of Christ, the attitude that allowed Him to accept weakness, suffering and defeat. We are invited to become poor, to accept the inner poverty of our own human condition. Jesus emptied Himself.

As we journey with Him, let us empty ourselves for it is only when we are empty can God fill us with His loving presence. I want to extend a special invitation to all parishioners to continue your journey with Jesus Christ by participating in the Holy Week Services. As Christians, the
events that we commemorate these next few days tell the story of our faith and give meaning and life to what it is we profess to be true. Please make these days a priority by joining our community of a faith for the continuation of the journey.

May the grace and peace of Christ be with you this Holy Week!
Father Jim Volkert

** Please consider attending Palm Sunday Vespers this afternoon at 4:00 PM. at St. Mary Church. This is a perfect, peaceful way to enter into the solemnity of Holy Week. Join us!

04-02-2017-Message From Father Jim

Reflections on the Fifth Sunday of Lent
Watching the Olympics a few years ago with my nephews, I can remember watching one of the Award ceremonies. A young man from the United States won a gold medal in wrestling. He was what my nephews would call a “tough guy” and that is why they were so shocked when, during the playing of our National Anthem, he began to cry. And not just him, many other athletes experienced the same emotions during the Award ceremonies. Sometimes the strong, the physically strong and the mentally strong, show their humanity. And sometimes this surprises us because we tend to put particular people in a certain plane that doesn’t allow them to show their humanity.

Today in our Gospel, we hear about Jesus, the Son of God, crying at the tomb of Lazarus his friend. It is a very moving scene in the Gospel of St. John. And the reason it’s so moving is because Jesus demonstrates His humanity, the tears flowing down the checks of Jesus shows us in a powerful way that Jesus was indeed a man like us in all things but sin. And because of this we know that He understands how we feel in these same situations. But today’s Gospel not only demonstrates Jesus’ humanity, it also describes for us the divine power as Son of God that Jesus shared with Lazarus by bringing him to life again. Jesus does not only inspire us by His humanity, He can also empower us by His divinity. Jesus can touch our lives in a way that no other human could ever touch them. Perhaps it is at those times when we feel our humanity the most that we are in the best place to acknowledge the presence of Jesus in our lives. It could be at the times when we are most aware of guilt and sin in our lives that we experience Jesus coming alive in our hearts and giving us the courage and the strength to change.

As we approach the final weeks of Lent I offer my prayers and Lenten sacrifices for all of you, the parishioners of St. Mary’s, that together we may continue to Unite Ourselves with Jesus Christ and with One Another in a never ending bond of love and peace.

Fr. Jim Volkert

Holy Week Mass Schedule

Triduum – Holy Thursday
6:30pm – St Mary
7:00pm – St. Chares
7:00pm – St. Joseph

Triduum – Good Friday
12:00pm St. Charles
1:00pm – St. Mary
7:00pm – St. Joseph

Triduum- Holy Saturday
8:15 pm – St. Charles
8:15 pm – St. Joseph
8:15 pm – St. Mary

Easter Sunday
8:00am – St. Charles
8:00am – St. Mary
9:30am – St. Joseph
10:00am – St. Charles
10:30am – St. Mary
12:00pm – St Charles (Spanish)

03-26-2017- Message From Father Jim

“Reflections on the Fourth Sunday of Lent”

It hardly seems possible that we are already half-way through the season of Lent. It feels like just yesterday when we set out on the path of Lent together on Ash Wednesday. Hopefully we have felt the presence of Jesus walking with us these grace-filled days. Lent is the period of a particular intense presence of Jesus Christ in the life of the Church, so we ought to try to get closer to Him in a deeper way during this season. This is the perfect time to open up our hearts to Him in a total, self-surrendering way. Lent is especially a time when grace ought to be over us in a particular way. It is necessary for us simply to open up to it. We need to keep in mind that God’s grace is always available to us, a gift He gives freely. It is this gift of grace that brings us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of God’s love and mercy. The Second Reading from today’s Mass reminds us of this: “Brothers and Sisters, you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light.” Filled with this light we in turn are challenged to live lives worthy of it by prayer, fasting and works of charity. All of our actions should demonstrate the love of God in our hearts.

I want to offer a word of CONGRATULATIONS to the young people of our parishes who were confirmed this past Thursday evening. It was a privilege to welcome one of our newly ordained Auxiliary Bishops, Bishop James Schuerman, to our community. I pray that the gift of the Holy Spirit that these students received will continue to grow stronger each day of their lives giving them the strength to live out their faith and be good examples to those who will follow.

May the remaining weeks of Lent bring peace to us all.
Fr. Jim Volkert

3-12-2017- Message From Father Jim

The Transfiguration – A Moment of Grace

On this Second Sunday of Lent we are once again reminded of the transforming experience of the Transfiguration. Not only was it such an experience for our Lord, but also for Peter, James and John who were fortunate enough to be up on that mountain with Jesus. Witnessing the transfiguration of Christ was a moment that strengthened their faith in a remarkable way. It was a moment they never forgot as long as they lived. For these chosen apostles, this was a moment of grace. This was a moment when they felt the presence of God in their lives in an unmistakable way.

Moments of grace are gifts from God. They are given to us not because we merit them or can buy them, but because they are a sign of God’s love for us. The season of Lent is the perfect time to open our hearts and minds to moments of grace. One way we can do this is to set aside a little time each day for prayer. It is in these moments of prayer that we open our hearts to God and invite Him to enter them. It is my hope that as we continue to demonstrate our sincere desire to spend this Lent journeying with Christ we will also experience moments of grace to strengthen and inspire us on the journey.

May the grace of this holy season be with you!
Father Jim Volkert

3-5-2017 – Message from Father Jim

Reflections on the First Sunday of Lent

“Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” This sentiment is taken from Psalm 51, our Responsorial Psalm from today’s Mass, and is a cry that we send up in a particular way this Lent. This should be our fervent prayer these next six weeks. Lent is such a powerful season because it is in this season more than any other that God listens to us, His people, acknowledging our weaknesses. Every year our objective is clear: develop a deeper relationship with the Lord. If this is to be accomplished then we must be willing to invest ourselves with every ounce of energy that we have. It is my prayer that the sacrifices we are encouraged to offer during Lent will help us be even more mindful of the ultimate sacrifice our Lord Jesus offered for each one of us. I invite you to prayerfully consider participating in the many different activities and prayer services that are being offered at our parishes this Lent and to remember that in the weeks ahead Jesus Christ walks with us in a very special way. During these Lenten days Jesus shows us the love He has for each one of us.

May we also be mindful this Lent that we cannot begin to ask God for something that we ourselves are not willing to do for others. This holy season can also serve as a wonderful opportunity for us to evangelize. I’m sure we all know someone who is not quite as active in his or her faith as he or she could be. Now would be a perfect time for us to invite them to come back to the Church. It really doesn’t matter what our past has been because we can always begin anew. It is important for us to remind those who feel alienated from the Church for whatever reason of this.
May the grace and peace of this sacred time of Lent be with all of you!
Fr. Jim Volkert

2-26-2017-Message from Father Jim

Lent 2017

This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten journey with a mark of ashes on our foreheads and this challenge: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Perhaps this year our season of Lent will give us an opportunity to work on uniting ourselves with our Lord Jesus and one another. It is my hope that we can all make this our sincere desire as we journey these forty days together. The Catholic Church asks each member of the faithful to preserve the penitential character and purpose of Lent. For this reason:

a) Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and each Friday of Lent;

b) Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday, in addition to abstaining from meat, should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Hence, on those days they should eat only one full meal. Smaller quantities of food may be taken at two other meals but no food should be consumed at other times during those two days. The obligation of fasting ceases with the celebration of one’s 59th birthday.

I would also encourage you to take part in the different opportunities for prayer that are offered in our community. Morning Mass is a wonderful way to start the day expressing our desire to walk closely with the Lord during this season.

Masses are celebrated on

  • Mondays and Fridays at St. Mary,
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at St. Charles
  • and on Tuesdays at St. Joseph.

All weekday Masses begin at 8:30 AM.

  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held Monday – Wednesday in the chapel at St. Mary Parish.
  • Stations of the Cross are prayed on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM at St. Mary and on Fridays at 6:00 PM at St. Charles.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation also provides a renewal of faith and extraordinary sense of strength during this season.

  • Confessions are heard on the 1st Saturday of the month at St. Joseph at 4:00 PM,
  • 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month at St. Charles at 4:30 PM
  • on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 3:30 PM at St. Mary.

There will also be two Communal Reconciliation Services available:

  • Wednesday, March 22nd beginning at 7:00 PM at St. Joseph
  • and Saturday, April 1st at 10:00 AM at St. Mary.

Whatever form of prayer and penance we decide to do this Lent, I hope that we will open our hearts to Jesus’ presence in our midst and unite ourselves to Him and one another even more closely.

God bless you!
Fr. Jim Volkert

Examination of Conscience

Use the following to ponder your spiritual life and how you can make a clean heart.

Care for your spiritual life, your relationship with God

  • Am I a Christian who is not nourished by prayer and the sacraments?
  • Do I study the Word of God?

Care for your family life…

  • Do I give my family time, attention, and love?
  • Do I care for their daily needs?

Heal the wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness…

  • Have I forgiven others who have hurt me?
  • Have I said “I’m sorry” to those whom I have hurt and have I tried to make amends?

Watch how you speak…

  • Do I need to purify my everyday language from offensive words, vulgarities, and phrases used in the worldly decadence?
  • Do I gossip about others or tell false truths?

Care for your work?

  • Do I work with enthusiasm and passion?
  • Am I humble enough to thank the lord for may accomplishments?
  • Do I use my God-given skills and talents in the service of others?

Avoid envy, lust, hatred, and negative feelings…

  • Are my thoughts and actions destructive towards my relationships, especially with those whom I love?
  • Do my thoughts destroy my inner peace?
  • Do I say insulting things when it would be better to remain silent?
  • Do I surround myself with angry or destructive people?

Reach out to those who need you… this is how you will be judged. 

  • Do I assist the weak, the elderly, the sick?
  • Do I stand up for the foreigners or for those who are oppressed?
  • Do I feed the hungry and shelter the homeless?

Let go of… 

  • The bitterness that brings us to revenge.
  • The laziness that leads to existential eunthanasia
  • The finger-pointing that lead to pride
  • The complaining that leads to despair.