From time to time, members of our Parish community, touched by God's Grace, compile a thought that touches on various aspects of our lives, from our faith in Jesus Christ, to current events, to the joy that can be found in the Gospel. Some of these thoughts are born to be shared, to remind us about the hope that is within each of us, or maybe to lift us from what burdens us.
If you have a reflection that you would like to share, please submit it via e-mail to StMartinDePorresBuffalo@gmail.com. Your reflection might show up on this webpage.
The Advent Season caught us unaware. When St Martin de Porres resumed Liturgies on ZOOM last week, Father Peter unexpectedly moved it to Saint Martin de Porres where the chapel and sanctuary was still in Christ the King. Imagine my surprise. Father appeared vested in his purple chasuble against the white and red of our altar.
Traditionally, at St Martin de Porres we have used blue for the four weeks of Advent and purple from Lent. Blue is the preferred color in some liturgical churches – Episcopal, Lutheran - to name a few. In the Roman Catholic Church blue is used for the Marian feasts. Without Mary’s “yes” to the angel Gabriel, there would have been no Incarnation, no census, no room but a lowly manger, no Jesus born in Bethlehem, no Angels, no shepherds, no Magi, no Presentation at the Temple and no flight to Egypt. No lights, no creches. No reason to celebrate Christmas, no feasting, no family get togethers, no gift exchange. No Christmas cards and packages crisscrossing the country and world. No generosity extended the those in need – food, gifts for children, and warm clothing. No caroling, no concerts and cantatas.
What are you doing to prepare for Christmas in this time of COVID-19? How has your preparations changed from previous years? Whose company will you forgo to keep your love ones safe? Did you create a sacred space for your Advent wreath or Advent calendar? Did you choose a time for prayer and meditation? Do you read scriptures? Have you brought out your Christmas ornaments? Have you begun decorating? Do you listen Advent or Christmas hymns? Where will you find Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in these strange and challenging times? Will you share with others that Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving?
Submitted by: Ann Marie Szpakowska
A prayer of St. Augustine of Hippo, Africa (354-430) found in His seminal work "Confessions"
What does Love look like.
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has the eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of (humankind).
That is what love looks like.
As we find ourselves secluded in our homes due to Covid19, let us find new ways to
reach out to each other and to those who are struggling physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. Let us be what love looks like.
Submitted by: Ann Marie Szpakowska 4/21/20
Our Liturgical Ministry Teaches and Proclaims Our Catholic Faith as Lived
Out with an Afrocentric Lens!
Saint Martin de Porres’ motto from our inception as a Faith Community was "Prayer Changes Things". In these trying times it is a comfort that our Prayer Warriors - Intercessors have been meeting every Tuesday on a conference call and have welcomed other parishioners to the Altar of Prayer. In the time of this pandemic we know we need to implore God for protection, wisdom and patience. I want to share the words of a gospel song recorded by Mahalia Jackson and others in hope that it will help you to hold out.
I've heard the story of David.
And I've heard of Daniel in the lions' den.
I've heard of Job in all of his afflictions'
How they kept their faith to the end.
And when all hope just seems to fail
That's when God's power prevail
I know, O yes, I know Lord that Prayers Changes Things.
Yes do you know prayers changes things.
Do you know prayer changes things?
Have you been out on that storming, storming raging sea?
I've been hungry.
I've been sick.
I've been filled with misery.
Along came my Jesus and you know he lifted me.
I know. Oh yes I know Lord that prayer changes things.
Submitted by: Ann Marie Szpakowska 4/28/20
“FOOD FOR THOUGHT!”
By Cynthia Mathews
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about "Respect" and what this word means in our society. In the schools it is taught as a character trait having to do with one's self-worth as a contributor to the community. A constant evaluation of self is essential to the growth process no matter your age or status.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The life of a man is a self-evolving circle, which from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end."
Ernest Boyer, the guru of "Character Education" defines respect as the following: "Each person responds sensitively to the ideas and needs of others without dismissing or degrading them. Differences among people are celebrated and all members of the community are able to accept both praise and criticism from others. While affirming individual freedom, the rights of the group are also fully honored. "
The one thing I know for sure is that it starts with "self!"
There is not a fear in the world that cannot be instantly erased by God’s love. Yet we endlessly let fear ruin our days and sap precious time and energy away from us; negatively affecting ourselves and those around us.
In great irony, we are often blind or unwilling to apply the simple antidote to fear; that is, to willingly let God take it away. Yes, we can spend a lifetime trying to figure out how to find and use His medicine. However, it is not until we truly trust Him that His gifts really arrive in our lives. And when they do, you will know it...
At first, the gifts come with suspicion, and then they come too frequently or timed too perfectly to be a coincidence, and then you start to see the gifts for what they are (not coincidences but God-Incidences), and then trusting in Him enough to “let go and let God”, knowing the gifts will come, and then letting that trust and love grow within you to the point at which you and your behavior change, and then realizing you need Him and He needs you to participate in the unfolding of His plan for the greater good, and finally coming to see that our timeframe (our lifetime) is but a fleeting moment in His plan; not realized as sadness or despair but to be celebrated with Him, without fear and in pure joy and in your slight tasting of the fullness of time.
And once you taste this fullness, your fears will dissolve and then and only then can you really begin to live for today, not for tomorrow, and certainly not within the negative and dark side of the human condition, but for His grace; as He holds our tomorrows in the palm of His hand. Fear not!
St. Martin de Porres
Many years ago, one of the frst plays I read was Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. I remember it because it was a play that had a family I could identify with. African Americans. They were a family focused on doing better for themselves by buying a home of their own. Home ownership was a big thing then. It remains today. The title of the play came from a poem written by Langston Hughes called Harlem. The frst line of the poem raised a question that was asked by millions - still is: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore, and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over, like syrupy sweet? Maybe it sags, like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
Many of our past, present and hopefully future heroes and she-roes talk about dreams. The most famous being Martin Luther King, Jr., who eloquently talked about his dreams for our future. But what I want to remind us today is a little closer to home. The power of dreamers right in our midst. Dreamers are powerful when they take action and make dreams reality. This church was built because of dreamers. them home here. This home didn’t just magically appear. People did everything they could to make things difcult, some- times impossible, and asked us over and over how can a small, minority parish, with so little money, dare to dream that we could build a new church home. They forgot the power of dreamers and how, when people come together sharing one dream, believing in one God, what they can do. They forgot about David and Goliath.
They forgot that the dreamers included bankers, and marketers, and accountants, and teachers. They forgot that the dreamers were, yes—from different parishes and, yes—with different opinions about how things should be done. And yes, some dreamers went to other parishes where their dreams could live. But those who stayed became a family; we came together and committed to a
payment of a mortgage which many said would never be paid in full.
“You are where you are today because you stand on someone’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” —Vernon James
And so today, February 9, 2020, I say Ase to those who came before us. Who dared and encouraged us to dream; who laid the foundation for us to believe. That yes, we can do whatever we dream about. Remember the ancestors most of whom were never honored and yet provided each of us with the opportunity, with the right to dream. Dream small, dream big, but dream. And whenever you doubt yourself, read the inscriptions on the stone walkway in front of this church, then come inside this house, look around and know this is a house of God built by His dreamers with His guidance and love. Ase, my brothers and sisters. Ase.
Note: Excerpted, with her permission , from an African American History Month homage penned by our own Mary Craig, and oratorically presented by her to fellow parishioners at Sunday mass on 02/09/2020.
Sacraments are an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
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