A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH BR. CLEMENT

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Gerard’s Parish,

Your pastor has asked me to write the reflection this week. Not sure my words, like Fr. Tat will be “A Half Cup of Inspiration” maybe more, maybe less. A chance I take. This I know. My 23 years in the parish was somewhat surprising. Arrived in Baton Rouge from the Crescent City in August 1996 from the then viceprovincial residence, which moved from New Orleans to the “Red Stick”. Came with the community of four other members, two priests and two brothers.

My first year was difficult. I knew no one, so there was no connection. Not until I was asked to become involved in the high school retreat program. I then found myself visiting the students of Redemptorist Diocesan High School, as well as the children at St Gerard Elementary during religion classes. Working with the principals at both sites was a joy. And for the students you know what is said about them, “working with the young keeps one young“. This wasn’t the reason for staying with them. But found out it works. LOL.

Ministering over the years as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister brought me closer to the sick, the elderly and the dying in their homes, as well as in nursing homes.

But it’s time to move on I found our from my Redemptorist superior. I will move on to Houston. But with my new assignment the happy memories of what so many have done over the years come along. These will be packed and taken as well. The nice things like baking brownies, sewing a rip shirt, being invited to their home, never forgetting my birthday, preparing a plate of red beans and rice (only in Louisiana), driving to someone’s home to bring Holy Communion, inviting to have lunch at their favorite restaurant (only in Tigerland). And so many more. What others offer as acts of kindness. God bless those whose path I have crossed, and those who have crossed my path.

A wise person once said, “You don’t have to go far to find the best things in life”. May I add, all the best people. We find them where God places us at each stage of life. I found them right here in South Louisiana, in North Baton Rouge, in St. Gerard’s Parish, and not too far from Plank Road.

May our dear Mother of Perpetual Help cover you with her holy mantle.

– Br. Clement

Quotes for Life: Prayer for Good Humor

Every day after his morning prayers, Pope Francis recites Saint Thomas More’s “Prayer for Good Humor.” Here’s how it goes:

“Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.” Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor.
Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others.”

20th Sunday of the Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. TAT:

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”  (Luke 12:49-53)

Everyone always wishes for peace. No one wants war, conflict and division.

Jesus announced, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” What did Jesus mean? Did Jesus bless us with all the bad and difficult things in life? – No.

Jesus always wants the best for us. Maybe he wants us a different kind of peace, the real true peace within, not the false peace of empty noises. He wants us the peace of joy, justice and inclusiveness.

Some of us appear to be very peaceful from outside, look very nice and friendly, talk very politely, but they already picked and chose the fixed way of judging other groups of people. They are so discriminated. They are so exclusive. They are so rigid and close-minded. There is no “gray” part, only “black or white”. There is no “both-and” argument, only “either-or” statement. This type of peace is only the peace of a subgroup.

Catholicism, the Church of Jesus Christ, is the religion of inclusiveness, forgiveness and everyone. Jesus invites everyone to come to his Father, especially the sinners, the poor, and the marginalized. If we keep our own definition of exclusive peace, we will divide among ourselves again and again. We never find unity, healing and true peace.

What a blessing for us to be able to worship and work together in diversity here. May we, the St. Gerard Majella Community, live up to Jesus’ command and spirit so that we can truly promote the peace of joy, justice and inclusiveness here and now.

– Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.

19 Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. TAT:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32-48)

These days, Jesus reminds his disciples about their daily life as well as eternal life. “Do not be afraid any longer.” What are we worring the most these days in our lives?

The tragedy is that we are worrying about our short temporary needs while God “is pleased to give us the kingdom.” The whole kingdom God will give us. We constantly run and work, compete and compare, control and play politics to gain some power and benefit from one another. Some even are willing to attack or kill others to get what they desire for. The question here is: “Are we still believing that God gives us the kingdom?” Our fears will influence and control our thinking, actions and future destiny.

If we allow God to decide and plan for our lives, we will be free from all anxieties and unnecessary fears. We will be free for expressing our strength, friendship, love, joy, and need. We will be free to give, to serve, to pray and to live everyday.

I wish and pray that each one of us will develop a faith with Jesus, through Jesus and in Jesus so that we, as a whole community of St. Gerard, freely live, work and pray together everyday.

Let’s pray for all students as they prepare to go back to school with good health, happiness and enthusiasm. May all teachers be blessed with wisdom, courage and generosity to serve young people to discern God’s gifts in their lives. And may God bless us eternal joy now and forever.

Prayerfully,

Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. TAT

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:1-12; 17-20

Dear disciples of Christ,

“Who are the disciples of Christ?” You might ask. You are; I am; and we are the disciples of Christ.We are called and sent to be disciples of mercy, forgiveness and love. Jesus called and sent seventy-two disciples to go out, to preach the good news, to heal the sick and to pray with the poor and abandoned.

We should be so proud and happy because God invites each one of us personally by name. The most joyful and rejoicing news is: “Our names are written in heaven.” Today, we should celebrate our vocation as baptized Christians. We are called to be holy and to share God’s blessings with everyone without condition and without border.

What a privilege to work with God and for God in the vinyard. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” I would like to invite youpersonally to reflect on your gifts, availability and time to see if you can work in the following ministries at St. Gerard’s community:

  • Finance council (internal dimension)
  • Parish council (external dimension)
  • Sacraments team (spiritual dimension)
  • Giving Communion to the sick and homebound
  • Youth and young adults
  • Extraordinary ministers (Lectors, Ushers, Altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, sacristans, choir)
  • Catechists
  • Bible study
  • Helping the homeless or poor
  • Interfaith dialouge
  • Counting collection money
  • Alumni
  • Cleaning the church, chapel and office.
  • Bingo
  • Prayer group

I thank God for your great generosity to St. Gerard’s Church. I am glad to share with you a picute of Mary Ann visiting Ms. Kim and giving her Communion every Thursday. May God continue to bless us with joy and grace to generously share God’s blessings with others around us.

Gratefully,

Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.