Day 9: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

DOES GOD’S WORD MATTER?

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

 Adam and Eve ate the fruit forbidden by God, and they were punished. Mary listened and kept the Word of God and pondered in her heart. She said to the Archangel Gabriel, “May it be done to me according to your word.” And she faithfully followed this mystery to the end.

 As we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are called to meditate on the willingness of Mary and the goodness of God.

 First, Mary’s willingness brings salvation to all humanity. Regardless of her current situation and relationship, she was willing to have a conversation with the Archangel about “the big plan” ahead.

 “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

 This news was huge. She was open to it. Her private life and plan with her spouse Joseph will be changed. This acceptance without Joseph’s opinion will be very risky. Nevertheless, Mary still said YES to God to fulfill God’s will. Her faith, hope and love must be very strong and real to be able to discern this promise of God.

 Second, God’s goodness is boundless. God became human through another woman. God is willing to become a little child and to be raised by a simple couple, Joseph and Mary. God must love us so much. God does not just become a human but also he is with us forever to bless and to guide us.

 We are in the middle of the Advent season. We are invited to settle down, to submit ourselves, to be open to God like Mary, and to allow God’s love flowing in our lives. Every breath of life is the breath of God’s grace.

Reflection question: How often and open are you to encounter God through your daily activity? If God sent a messenger to ask you a favor, would you say yes?

 

THE WORD MADE FLESH

Day 8: Second Sunday of Advent
IS 11:1-10; ROM 15:4-9; MT 3:1-12
REPENT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
 
Repent is not only for personal salvation and conversion achievement but also for God’s Justice and Peace truly exist. God desires God’s kingdom to be a place for everyone to love. And love one another is no longer a responsibility but rather is an act of honor and joy. It’s like Isaiah described, “The wolf, the cow and the bear shall be neighbors. Together their young shall rest.” What a beautiful life!
 
Justice and peace of God are like a pair of shoes in our feet. They are inseparable, necessary, beautiful and humane for all to protect us and to help us walk far together. Today we live in a world that is constantly threatened by violence, discrimination and division. Wars and civilian shootings are happening every day. Cyberattacks and hatred dangerously haunt people’s lives. Politics and human life are not connected.
 
We need God’s Justice and Peace. It must start from each individual’s radical discernment. As St. Paul suggested, “We welcome one another as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Our God is “the God of endurance and encouragement.” Let us keep trying to do good deeds and be kind to one another. Let us encourage one another to build true peace and justice among us today.
 
Reflection question: What is justice and peace for you? How do you live your life to build justice and peace around you?

The Word Made Flesh

Day 1: First Sunday of Advent

IS 2:1-5; ROM 13:11-14; MT 24:37-44

“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

BE PREPARED

When we have a big event we are prepared to celebrate well. We want to make sure every necessary thing needs to get ready. When my youngest brother got married last October, my mother was worried to prepare well to make sure everything looks good.

Advent season is also the time for us to get ready to welcome the coming of Jesus. However, the coming of Jesus is no longer an event or a moment. It is a transformational lifestyle for us. God does not want us to prepare only a few days to celebrate “Christmas” like the worldly commercial event that focuses only on the appearance and gift exchange.

Jesus came over two thousand years ago in Bethlehem for the sake of loving our humanity. God loves us so much that God becomes human so that we might become divine. God wants to live in each person’s heart. God wants to share our hardship, fears, and joy.

Therefore, let us be prepared by welcoming God into our lives in order to free us from all sins, darkness of fears, and hopelessness. Let God be the center of our hearts and activities. Let’s use this time of Advent to reflect deeply on the love of God for us today.

Reflection question: If you had one wish for God to do for you to improve your life right now, what would that be?

Vietnamese Martyrs Feast Day November 24th

The Vatican estimates the number of Vietnamese martyrs at between 130,000 and 300,000 were killed. Pope John Paul II decided to canonize those whose names are known and unknown, giving them a single feast day.

The Vietnamese Martyrs fall into several groupings, those of the Dominican and Jesuit missionary era of the (17th century) and those killed in the Christian persecutions of the 19th century. A representative sample of 117 martyrs — including 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish Dominicans, and 10 French members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (Missions Etrangères de Paris) — were beatified on four separate occasions:

The tortures these individuals underwent are considered by the Vatican to be among the worst in the history of Christian martyrdom. The torturers hacked off limbs joint by joint, tore flesh with red hot tongs, and used drugs to enslave the minds of the victims. Christians at the time were branded on the face with the hieroglyphics 道, for heterodox doctrine, while their families and villages were destroyed.

List of names of the Vietnamese Martyrs

  • Agnes Le Thi Thanh
  • Andrew Dung-Lac An Tran
  • Andrew Thong Kim Nguyen
  • Andrew Trong Van Tram
  • Andrew Tuong
  • Anthony Dich Nguyen
  • Anthony Quynh Nam
  • Augustine Huy Viet Phan
  • Augustine Moi Van Nguyen
  • Augustin Schoeffer
  • Bernard Due Van Vo
  • Dominic Hanh Van Nguyen
  • Dominic Henares, a Dominican bishop from Spain
  • Dominic Nicholas Dat Dinh
  • Dominic Trach Doai
  • Dominic Uy Van Bui
  • Dominic Xuyen Van Nguyen
  • Dominic Kham Trong Pham
  • Dominic Tran Duy Ninh
  • Dominic Cam
  • Dominic Huyen
  • Dominic Toai
  • Dominic Mau
  • Dominic Nhi
  • Dominic Nguyen
  • Dominic Mao
  • Emmanuel Trieu Van Nguyen
  • Francis Chieu Van Do
  • Francis Gil de Frederich
  • Francis Isidore Gagelin
  • Francis Jaccard
  • Francis Trung Von Tran
  • Francis Xavier Can Nguyen
  • Ignatius Delgado y Cebrián
  • Jacinto (Hyacinth) Casteñeda, a Dominican
  • James Nam
  • Jerome Hermosilla
  • John Baptist Con
  • John Charles Cornay
  • John Dat
  • John Hoan Trinh Doan
  • Jean Louis Bonnard
  • John Thanh Van Dinh
  • José María Díaz Sanjurjo
  • Joseph Canh Luang Hoang
  • Joseph Fernandez
  • Joseph Hien Quang Do
  • Joseph Khang Duy Nguyen
  • Joseph Luu Van Nguyen
  • Joseph Marchand
  • Joseph Nghi Kim
  • Joseph Thi Dang Le
  • Joseph Uyen Dinh Nguyen
  • Joseph Vien Dinh Dang
  • Joseph Khang, a local doctor
  • Joseph Tuc
  • Joseph Tuan Van Tran
  • Lawrence Ngon
  • Lawrence Huong Van Nguyen
  • Luke Loan Ba Vu
  • Luke Thin Viet Pham
  • Martin Tho
  • Martin Tinh Duc Ta
  • Matthew Alonzo Leziniana
  • Matthew Dac Phuong Nguyen
  • Matthew Gam Van Le
  • Melchor Garcia Sampedro
  • Michael Hy Ho-Dinh
  • Michael My Huy Nguyen
  • Nicholas Thé Duc Bui
  • Paul Hanh
  • Paul Khoan Khan Pham
  • Paul Loc Van Le
  • Paul Tinh Bao Le
  • Paul Tong Buong
  • Paul Duong
  • Peter Tuan
  • Peter Dung Van Dinh
  • Peter Da
  • Peter Duong Van Troung
  • Peter Francis Néron
  • Peter Hieu Van Nguyen
  • Peter Quy Cong Doan
  • Peter Thi Van Truong Pham
  • Peter Tuan Ba Nguyen, a fisherman
  • Peter Tuy Le
  • Peter Van Van Doan
  • Philip Minh Van Phan
  • Pierre Borie, Mission Estranger de Paris
  • Simon Hoa Dac Phan
  • Stephen Theodore Cuenot, a bishop
  • Stephen Vinh
  • Théophane Vénard
  • Thomas De Van Nguyen
  • Thomas Du Viet Dinh
  • Thomas Thien Tran
  • Thomas Toan
  • Thomas Khuong
  • Valentine Berriochoa
  • Vincent Liem the Nguyen
  • Vincent Duong
  • Vincent Tuong, a local judge
  • Vincent Yen Do

The End…….

Jesus said, “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

We are approaching the end of the liturgical calendar. December 1st will be the first day of the new liturgical year. At the end of the year, the Church reminds us of conflicts and destructions in the world.

I remember my own ending moments a few weeks ago when I took too much cough medicine. I thought I was dying. My heartbeat raised up. The world around me was spinning. My eyes could not concentrate and read. I thought I was standing in front of death, the ending of my life. I had a little worry. Who would say Masses for me? What happened to all my plans?

My own death verses to the death of the whole world. Today the Gospel invites us to reflect on the incidents and realities NOW. We need to look around and pray to see, to judge and to act appropriately and prophetically.

I see the Mother Earth is crying for help because the climate change heats up the glope.

Ms. Greta Thunberg, 16 years old, stated, “The climate and ecological emergency is right here, right now. But it has only just begun, it will get worse. 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit on January 1st, 2018 to have a 67 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise. And now that figure is already down to less than 360 gigatons. Our house is on fire, I am here to say our house is on fire. According to the IPCC, we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes.

Jesus said, “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.” How do we prepare for our eternal life? We cannot sit here to wait for death to come and destroy us. We should be active and alert to respond to the life that God has given us.

Ms. Greta Thunberg said, “This is the year 2019. This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is a moment in history where we need to be wide awake. You must not gamble your children’s future on the flip of a coin. Instead, you must unite behind the science. You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never ever be an option.

  • Fr. Tat

Happy Birthday To The Redemptorists

November 9th, 1732 – 2019

St. Alphonsus Liguori and his first companions began the Redemptorists in response to the needs of those on the periphery of the Church and society, “the most abandoned, especially the poor.” Starting with the rural residents of 18th century Scala, Naples, the Redemptorists have continually sought to bring the joy of the gospel to all with whom they minister. The priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer seek to build communities of conversion wherein people can encounter the plentiful redemption offered through Christ. While preaching Christ, the Redemptorists rely on and encourage devotion to Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help. She is  a mother of mercy and powerful intercession, pointing her devotees to life through her Son and the mysteries of his life, death, and resurrection.

As a new pastor at St. Gerard Majella Church, I would like to use this time and opportunity to journey side by side with all of you, especially the poor and the most abandoned.

Even though I cannot do everything to “bring back” the old St. Gerard Majella Church, I believe God continues to bless us all with surprises and blessings to build this church as a place of worship, family and community of love, peace and unity.

As the Redemptorists in the whole world celebrate our 287th birthday, I, a Redemptorist missionary, would like to dedicate one more time to renew my mission spirit to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, by preaching the Good News to the poor and most abandoned here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of Saint Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption.” (Constitution 20)

I would like to invite you to help me for the next four years to reach out to more people who need God’s redemption now and here. It is my privilege and honor to be here and accompany with ALL of you in faith.

In Christ our Redeemer,
Fr. Tat Hoang, C.Ss.R.

 

Teach Your Children To Use GPS

After Mass today, have a conversation with your children, asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After a few moments of discussion, ask, “Who do you think God wants you to be when you grow up?” Emphasize to your children that God has a specific plan in mind for them, and that following God’s plan is the surest way to happiness. Every life decision – which college to attend, whom to date, which job to pursue, whether to enter seminary, whom to marry – should be undertaken only after praying for God’s guidance. In other words, encourage kids to navigate life using GPS – God’s Positioning System.

How Parent’s Can Nurture Vocations:

Set an example. Model discipleship and a loving marriage to your children.

Seek role models. Befriend priests, sisters, and brothers and invite them to your home.

Look to scripture. Read and discuss the Bible stories of Mary’s response to God (Luke 1:26-39), and Jesus calling the Apostles (Mt 4:18-22).

Pray for the future. Pray aloud that your children will follow Jesus and remain open to holy marriage, priesthood, and religious life.

If your child does not express interest in the priesthood or religious life, be supportive. The best thing you can say is, “Whatever God wants for you, I want for you, too. Just keep praying to discover His will for your life.”

 

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

A HALF CUP OF INSPIRATION WITH FR. STEVE NYL, C.SS.R.:

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” These words of T.S. Eliot speak to my experience whenever I arrive to minister in a new place. I have been in Baton Rouge a little less than 3 weeks at this writing, but already have family and friends asking what it’s like here. I usually just tell them that I don’t know because I’m in process of figuring it out.

For me a ministry location isn’t so much defined by the place as much as by the people. And so it takes time for me to come to know all of you and you to get to know me. It is in relationship with one another, and together in relationship with the Lord, that we come to truly know how to answer the question. So let me briefly introduce myself: I am Fr. Steve Nyl, a Redemptorist for 22 years and ordained a priest for 18 years. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up on a dairy farm. Following high school I worked in a factory for four years before furthering my education. Then I taught middle and high school for 12 years. Thinking I had set the course for my life, God stepped in one day out of the blue and changed everything. Following his call (eventually), I entered formation with the Redemptorists. have served in Denver, Colorado, Whittier, California (outside of Los Angeles) and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now I am here in Baton Rouge. Thanks to those I have met who have made me feel so welcome. And I look forward to meeting you all in the upcoming days.