April 17 Sisters and Brothers in Christ, As we continue the beginning of this Easter season I offer you this podcast by James Finley called “Grounding Ourselves in Life and Resurrection.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/turning-to-the-mystics-with-james-finley/id1494041647?i=1000471520870. It is a most appropriate message for us during this time of Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic that we are living through. Please take time to listen to the podcast it’s very, very, good. Then I would invite you to listen to one or two songs: “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the show Jesus Christ Superstar or “You Know My Name” by Tasha Cobbs. I wish you peace and good health. Fr. Leo Attached is a picture of one of the prayer spaces that we have received. Please continue to send them in, along with the answers to these questions: When do you use the space? What are the religious objects in the space? How it is helpful for you and your connection with God and others?
April 16 Brothers and Sisters in Christ, By the time we started our 7:05 p.m. silent sit we had more than 60 people joining us. I began and ended 20 minutes of silence by reading aloud before God all the names that were submitted to Diane Tuesday morning. I prayed for you and all the members of our community. A few of you have submitted your experience of sitting in silence with members of our community. I am sure we will have the opportunity to do this again. Please see comments below: “The sense of community was amazing! I truly felt how I am a part of this community and how God was comforting all. I felt overwhelmed by the love and the sense of belonging.” “I could feel the energy as we all sat in solidarity…. In our different locations… Powerful.” “That was wonderful. I felt part of something. Thank you for inviting me!” Were you able to find yourselves in the chart that was part of yesterday’s email? We each have so much potential to be more like Christ as we endure this social isolation period but it won’t happen unless we really made a concerted effort to change our lives. God will not do the work for us but will be with us as we do the work. What is the work that needs to be done? It’s our own personal work, psychological, emotional and spiritual work that is necessary as an adult in the faith. In the coming weeks I will write a series of emails regarding the gift of conversion which will hopefully leads us to the new life Christ has for us. Also, please hold in prayer the families of two of our parishioners who returned home to the Lord: Blanca Quinones and Mel Borysiewicz. Always, may God’s peace be yours, Fr. Leo
April 15 My Sisters and Brothers in Christ This attachment was found on Facebook. I saw it and augmented it by adding an additional circle. This time of waiting, this liminal space we are in, is so important that I really hope we are looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to be converted. If we can do such, our “new” normal will be better than the “old” normal. We have so much potential in this gestation period to really open ourselves to God so we, like Jesus, may know the new life God has for us. Check out the attachment. Which circle are you living in the most? Peace, Fr. Leo
April 14 Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Beyond the walls that separate us, the love of Christ gathers us together this evening, Tuesday, at 7:05pm. In your house or wherever you may be, be still and sit in silence with the St. Andrew community. See yesterday’s email for more information. Remember to let us know your name if you are able to join us. Set your timer so you don’t forget! Looking forward to being still with you tonight. Fr. Leo P.S. Don’t forget to send your prayer corner pictures. Tell us when you use the space and what are the religious objects in the space, and, if you can, how it is helpful for you and your connection with God and others. Those who are joining together in stillness and silence tonight: Fr. Leo, Joy M., Jean E., Victoria A., Lynne S., Joanmarie S., John C., Bruce A., Belkis P., Gladys V., Joe A., Rosemarie C., Augusto C., John K., Bev K., Catherine H., Armand C., Kathy C., Jeffry B., Greg S., Margaret S., Renette J., Yvan L., Virginia L., Marie V., Terri W., David B., Eileen G., Fitzgerald T., Esmeralda R., Sandra S., Victor V., Mona M., Joyce D., Mark M., Sonya B., Curtis B., Rena B., Stephanie M., Diane G., Darlene S., Selena M., Joan H., Jean L., Julian D., Richard P., Maria R., Daff L., Iris S., Ann S., Don A., Bobbie A., Sharon S., Martha Z., Claudette A., Luanne P., Maryk B., Joe B., Liz C., Candace B., Parker W., Chris W., Mary Ann O., Annemarie G., Sheila P., Lisa A., Andre A., Mazulie M.,
April 13 Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Thank you for your sacrificial giving. The effort you have made to drop off envelopes at the church, to go to the diocesan website and donate online, or to send your money through the mail, has made a great difference. I know for many of you that this can be a real struggle. I am humbled by your generosity and your faithfulness to St. Andrew. A couple of questions …how do we come together when we are so far apart? How can we be community when we are not in each other’s presence? How can we belong to one another when we cannot be in physical contact with one another? An answer …there has always been a love that is boundless, not confined by time or space or place. There has always been the divine love of Christ from the beginning of existence to the end of time. We, by default, participate in this Love and it always connects us to one another and to God. Always we are invited to be conscious in our participation and connection to this Divine Love that is ours in Christ Jesus. Two invitations …this is why I am offering the opportunities to intentionally unite by being a part of two actions that will help us stay consciously connected to one another and to the love of Christ. The Body of Christ at St. Andrew can continue to grow and learn and be transformed during this time of liminal space. I have mentioned these activities before in previous emails but I want to formally invite you to participate. The first action is to take a picture of your sacred space/prayer corner, and send it to us. Tell us when you use the space and what are the religious objects in the space, and, if you can, how it is helpful for you and your connection with God and others. For example, my sacred space usually is outside on my back porch but because of the weather currently, I am inside. In the morning, I sit in this chair. Either I sit in silence, which is the norm, but most recently, I am also listening to various podcasts on the spiritual life, or I am reading a book to help me grow spiritually. It gives me great inspiration, and reminds me who I am and who I am not and the work that I still need to do. The book I am currently reading is about transformation. Some of you have already sent in your pictures, that is great! We are looking for more and hope to gather them all in a book. (Entitled something like, “How We Endured the Pandemic of 2020 — Sacred Spaces and Prayer Corners.”) If for any reason you wish to remain anonymous, just let us know. The second action is to be joined in spirit tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7:05 p.m. while we sit in stillness and silence in our own homes for […]
April 12, Easter Sunday My sisters and brothers in Christ, Happy Easter! This is the day the Lord has made! I hope you were able to participate and engage in the Triduum celebrations during the week. I pray you heard the guided meditation on Holy Thursday, and that you experienced the Passion of our Lord with Bishop Noonan on Good Friday. I pray also that this Easter time, despite the pandemic, brings a light into your life. Please make time to participate in Easter Sunday Mass by praying with us, in Spanish, English, or French at 10 a.m. today. You will find the links to these Masses on the church website: www.standrew-orlando.org, and our Facebook page. Below is a reflection on the Resurrection and a very important invitation. Please join us!! “Speechless” is perhaps the term that best captures the sheer joy and shock the disciples must have experienced peering into that tomb and seeing nothing and realizing that the words of Jesus were true. It’s almost comical the way the apostles and disciples tried to articulate their experience. That morning amidst the proclamations that “He is risen,” I’m sure there were also long gaps of silence as the followers of Jesus were trying to find their own voice, attempting to convey that which cannot be articulated: the divine mystery of resurrection! Speechless. As we enter into this Easter season, and find ourselves at home more than usual, I want to invite you to experience being speechless, at least for a few minutes each week. Over the last 5 years, the St. Andrew Contemplative Prayer group, facilitated by staff member Diane Gallagher, has met on Tuesday nights. Although the group is not meeting currently, they still sit in their own homes at 7:05 p.m. each Tuesday and are speechless. The silence and stillness have a power to cultivate an interior space that’s the least resistant to experiencing the presence of God. Some of us are familiar with Contemplative Prayer or Centering Prayer and others may not be. Regardless, I am inviting you to join us in your own home on Tuesdays at 7:05 p.m. to just be still and speechless. You don’t have to do it for a long period of time. You can just do it for a few minutes. That’s OK! There are no requirements except a willingness to stop at 7:05 p.m. and to be still and silent. For those of us who are used to this type of prayer, do as you have done in the past. For those of us who are not used to silent prayer, just be with us by stopping whatever you would be doing and just by being still and speechless. We will also include instructions on the Method of Centering Prayer in Monday’s email if you are interested in learning this practice. In the silence of our hearts the Resurrected Body of Christ gathers with and for one another in solidarity. Please let us know if you are able to […]
April 11, Holy Saturday My brothers and sisters in Christ, Today I invite you to read and reflect on this poem by Janet Morley When we are all despairing; when the world is full of grief; when we see no way ahead, and hope has gone away: Roll back the stone. Although we fear change; although we are not ready; although we’d rather weep and run away: Roll back the stone. Because we’re coming with the women; because we hope where hope is vain; because you call us from the grave and show the way: Roll back the stone. ……the stone is being rolled back. We need not live in fear. Soon and very soon, Fr. Leo
April 10, Good Friday My brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope you were able to participate in Holy Thursday with our Bishop last night. Here is the rest of the Holy Week schedule and links: Passion of Our Lord, Friday, April 10, 3:00 p.m. Easter Vigil, Saturday, April 11, 8:00 p.m. (bilingual) Links: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/OrlandoDiocese Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/orlandodiocese Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orlandodiocese Easter Sunday with Bishop Noonan (English), April 12, 12:30 p.m. aired on WFTV Ch. 9 Easter Sunday at St. Andrew, April 12, 10 a.m. on St. Andrew Church website: www.standrew-orlando.org and our Facebook page. You can choose English, Spanish or Haitian mass. Below is the link to a great podcast from James Finley called “A Meditation on Holy Week.”. It is most appropriate for this time of year and the state of pandemic that we are in. I encourage you to take time to listen. https://cac.org/podcast/turning-to-the-mystics/ I wish you peace Fr. Leo
April 9, Holy Thursday My sisters and brothers in Christ, Were you able to create a sacred space in your home? We would like to assemble pictures of the sacred spaces/prayer corners our parishioners are using as they pray and cultivate their relationship with God. We learn from one another so let’s help each other. Reply to this email with your photos. We will post the pictures on our Facebook page and the church website. If you prefer your name not be mentioned let us know and we will leave it out. As we begin this Triduum, I invite you to listen to and reflect on a guided meditation by our Spiritual Formation Coordinator Diane Gallagher, on the Last Supper and the washing of the apostles’ feet. Go to the church website www.standrew-orlando.org and click on the tab for “Holy Thursday Guided Meditation.” You can choose which language you prefer. There is a Holy Thursday liturgy with Bishop Noonan tonight at 7 p.m. The link is also on our church website. Click on the tab for “Video Stream of Holy Week Masses.” Below is a copy of the suggestions I offered a few weeks ago on how to create your sacred space/prayer corner. Always, may God’s peace be yours, Fr. Leo How to Create a Prayer Corner/Sacred Space Choose a religious focal piece: Decide what religious object or symbol will grab your attention as your walk by, as a reminder to pray: a cross, a crucifix, a statue, a rosary laid on a table, a picture, etc. Pick the right spot: Find a spot in your home, such as a corner nook, big enough for you to be comfortable. A spot by a window is a good idea, or some other secluded spot in the home. Include chairs or a small couch or sit on the floor. If you have a family, try to keep this space special and set apart exclusively for quiet prayer and spiritual reading, if you are able to. Avoid using it for other activities such as checking email or playing games. Gather items to your sacred space: Locate religious books, holy cards, spiritual material, a Bible, images of saints or of God, etc. and place them in your sacred space as a means for prayer and reflection.
April 8 My sisters and brothers in Christ, I received this prayer from a friend of mine. I found it to be “spot on.” Father God, thank you for another beautiful but anxious day. It seems that we return to you most easily when we need your comfort and Divine Providence. Here we are again, knowing that you are waiting for us with love, hope and comfort. In the shadow of your wings we find courage and relief that strengthens our minds and renews our souls. Day and night, you are our refuge. These uncertain days of news conferences and quarantines tempt us to assume the worst for our loved ones, our friends and our communities. “Pandemic” is a frightening word, and we can easily feel confused or helpless to respond. Now we are relying on you to lead and guide us, to put our anxieties in their place. Help us to see them as human responses that keeps us conscious of the seriousness of this moment, but do not let them overwhelm our spirits. Steadied by your love, we choose each day to let peace reign in our hearts. As we pause and reflect, we repeat, again and again, “You are here.” Heavenly Father, our families and friends need peace and assurance. Help us to offer them your steadfastness and direction. Those in our communities who are suffering need care. Help us to be generous and to keep contact with the forgotten. Our world calls for cooperation among national leaders, scientists, health care providers, and all who are instrumental in overcoming this crisis. May our prayers and support be with them all. Lord, may your love blanket the earth, as you teach us to live more generously today than yesterday. May our anxieties be transformed into confidence, our fears into love. Light our paths, direct our steps and keep our eyes on You. Amen. May our eyes and heart be aligned with the Lord as we walk with him this Holy Week. Peace, love and goodness. Fr. Leo Thank you to all those who have mailed your offertory to the church or used the diocese’s online link to make a donation. Your offertory is greatly appreciated! Mailing your offertory is easy, simply seal your offertory envelope and place a stamp on it. It is already addressed to the church. To donate online, please go to this link https://www.orlandodiocese.org/landing/ and click on the yellow button labeled “Donations to your Parish”. Then follow the prompts to make your donation. Thank you!