September 25, 2022:  My Dear Parishioners,
While quite a few parishioners of St. Agatha's have not returned since the COVID lockdown was over, we have also been blessed with newcomers who have decided to give us a try! The Johnson’s have been for two months and they love this little parish.  Here is their story in their own words.  They will be helping me with a variety of things in the near future - especially in the area of Marian devotions and Marian pilgrimages!
"John & Caroline Johnson are new members in our St Agatha Community.  Caroline & John met in a youth bible group in 1976 and were married at the Carmelite monastery in 1978.  Married almost 45 years. Since then they have been very active in several ministries in the Catholic Church, including visits to Rome, Israel, Fatima, Lourdes, Portugal (Caroline is 99% Portuguese) and many other Catholic shrines. They love traveling and then sharing where they have visited and what God has given them.
They moved from San Jose to Oregon in May 1989 and have 3 children who are now grown, with one loving grandchild.  Both Caroline and John are cradle-Catholics.  John was an altar boy prior to Vatican II. John has undergraduate degrees in Software Engineering, Philosophy and Theology. He has a Master’s in Catechesis from Santa Clara University and Masters in Psychology – with focus on Christian ministry and Marriage and Family therapy (MFT) from George Fox University. They have volunteered in several ministries over the years: youth, music (John is a guitarist) RCIA, Baptism, Confirmation, Pro-Life and Fatima devotions. They are also Carmelite Seculars (used to be called Carmelite 3rd Order) and attend Carmelite formation meetings each month at Holy Rosary parish.  They have a great devotion to Mary the Mother of GOD who always helps them and brings them to her Son Jesus. They enjoy sharing their faith and learning with others in their home parish. They are very thankful to St Agatha’s and are starting to get to know many in the parish."

September 18, 2022:  My Dear Parishioners,
When I was co-teaching 8th grade religion with Dr. Prevot, on a particular topic about God, he and I were trying to explain to the students the five proofs of God’s existence.  They seemed to grasp the ideas.  But they also grasp this: to know in the head that God exists by proofs is never the same as loving Him.  You can prove to me all you want that God exists, and I would even concede that your reasoning is flawless.  But none of that could produce an ounce of affection for God in my heart!  All of your reasons and arguments would be able to push me not even an inch closer to God!  Cardinal Newman, the famous English convert from Oxford, once famously said: “I am far from denying the real force of the arguments in proof of a God . . . but these do not warm me or enlighten me; they do not take away the winter of my desolation, or make the buds unfold and the leaves grow within me, and my moral being rejoice.”  How true he is!  Arguments and proofs are never enough.  But to hear from Christ Himself these parables that illustrate the mercy of God, parables that are concrete examples from life itself!  That is the kind of religious imagination that really engages me as person and that touches me in the depths of my heart and nourishes me in my daily existence!

September 11, 2022:  My Dear Parishioners,
I came across a number of articles reporting on the conversion of actor Shia Laboeuf.  What I have included here below came from those articles, synthesized and commented on by yours truly.  Please read for your own edification!
The internet has been buzzing with the news that actor Shia LaBeouf has converted to Catholicism, during his preparation for filming Padre Pio (2022) as the titular character.  Go home and watch his interview with Bishop Robert Barron!  But don’t watch his films!  LaBeouf has appeared in 40 movies.  Winner of multiple acting awards, the 36-year-old is most famous for his leading role as Sam Witwicky in the Transformers series.  Fame aside, he has lived a wicked life.  He appeared indecent in many movies.  He was an alcoholic. He plagiarized a script. He was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, criminal trespass, public intoxication, obstruction, battery and theft.  His rap sheet runs a mile long!  In the interview with Bishop Barron, LaBeouf confessed, “My life was on fire [not in a good way!].  I was walking out of hell. … I didn't want to be an actor anymore and my life was a complete mess. I’d hurt a lot of people. . . .I’ve been abusive to women and have been shooting dogs and I’ve been willingly giving women STDs.  It’s disgusting, it’s depraved, and my mother is embarrassed beyond all imagination.”  There seemed to be no way out, and the next logical thing was suicide. “I had a gun on the table. … I didn’t want to be alive anymore. … [There was] shame like I had never experienced before, the kind of shame where you forget how to breathe.”
It was at that point that director Abel Ferrara, who was with him in a virtual self-help group, asked him whether he had ever heard of Padre Pio.  Ferrara was thinking of making a movie about the life of one of the most famous saints of the last century. Of course, Shia hadn’t — he was raised by a secular Jewish mother and an abusive father.  But because at this moment he was “nuclear material” and no one wanted to work with him, he thought Ferrara’s question was his “chance to get back on the hustle.”  The key for him was the maybe one last chance to salvage his career.  God was the farthest idea from his mind.  "The reach-out had happened.  I was already there, I had nowhere to go. This was the last stop on the train.  There was nowhere else to go — in every sense . . . . I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him.  Drawing me away from worldly desires. It was all happening simultaneously.  But there would have been no impetus for me to get in my car, drive up [to the monastery] if I didn't think, 'Oh, I'm gonna save my career.'"  And so that's how it all began.
To prepare for the role, he needed to learn about the Catholic faith and about the Capuchin order to which St. Pio belonged.  He drove to San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez, California, where he met and was befriended by the Capuchins.  The one key thing for him now was how to convincingly “say” the Traditional Latin Mass, which was the center of St. Pio’s life.  That took him to a traditional parish run by Christ the King Institute in Oakland.  So that he would have a better grasp of the Catholic faith, the Capuchins also arranged for him to be catechized by a religious sister.  Over the course of several months of this intense research and study and reflection, LaBeouf gradually “stopped prepping for a role in a movie and started moving to something that feels beyond all of that.”  He began to feel an overwhelming urge to “let go” and “surrender for real” to God.  This actor who thrives on the immersive technique of acting found himself immersed himself in Padre Pio’s world – the Catholic faith, and in the process was converted.

September 4, 2022:  My Dear Parishioners,
A few years ago, I told you about the story of a beggar priest who was graced with a providential encounter with the great St. Pope John Paul II.  Through the humility of Pope John Paul II, who truthfully and honestly saw himself as God saw him, that homeless priest was saved.  Pope John Paul was a genius in many ways, but on this, he was simply following our Lord.  He was simply looking at reality, at the world, at people, through the eyes of Jesus.  Years later, after he had been stricken with Parkinson’s we recognized the same humility at work.  Being the pope, John Paul did not hesitate to embrace his own illness, his own frailty, his own mortality – even in front of the entire world.   Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was very close to him, still remembered how the great John Paul II conducted himself during his very long battle with Parkinson's disease.  Cardinal Comastri recalled one of the pope's final "appearances" before his death, when he watched the Good Friday Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum via video from his private chapel.  "The image we saw on television is unforgettable," Comastri said.  "The pope, who had lost all his physical strength, holding the Crucifix in his hands, gazing at it with pure love. One could sense he was saying: 'Jesus, I too am on the Cross like you. But together with you I await the Resurrection.'"  And who could forget the last time the dying pope appeared at the window of his apostolic palace, clearly in distress for his inability to raise his hand to bless the crowds down below.
Indeed, in the words of Cardinal Comastri, "Pope John Paul II was a true master of pain", because he was a humble servant of God.  Through humility, he accepted his seemingly unbearable physical suffering as an occasion of grace.  As the end was drawing near, he knew he could do nothing for himself.  It must have been hard, considering what and how he had been all his life: a man of robust health and a brilliant intellect.  But the old pope knew the story of St. Teresa of Avilla.  He knew what God could do.  John Paul II was able to drag the cross through the finish-life not through sheer will.  He was able to finish the race through humility: it was God all along, who would never leave him on his own.  His pain was redeemed, and frailty was transformed into incredible strength – which the whole witnessed almost daily over the media during the last year of his life.  The humility of the sainted pope was a humility sustained by a deep and genuine affection for his own destiny – the destiny he knew even as a child.  Pope John Paul II knew that only with Christ can one bear interminable pain and not despair.
John Paul II knew that life is a race towards God's eternal banquet.  Even in the hardest moments, he never lost his serenity.  Through humility, he was able to turn to Christ in the most painful moments of helplessness and tell the Lord, “I surrender myself to you, O Jesus!  Take care of this life for me!”
According to Comastri, "today many people no longer believe in that purpose. That's why they live pain with despair: because they can't see beyond the pain."  People can’t see beyond pain because there is no one to whom they could surrender their lives to!  But we Christians live pain in communion with the Crucified Jesus: clinging to Him, we fill our pain with love and transform it into a force that challenges and overcomes the selfishness that is still present in the world.

Weekly Bulletin Notes - 2022
Weekly Bulletin Notes - 2021
Weekly Bulletin Notes - 2020
Weekly Bulletin Notes - 2019
Weekly Bulletin Notes - 2018

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