Sunday, April 11, 2021

Low Sunday

 April 11, 2021

Low Sunday

(Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday)

(Acts 4:32-35; John 20:19-31)

In June 2017, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg said that the social media platform with more than 2 billion users is like a church in that users feel part of "a more connected world." But is a virtual community known more for animal videos and political rants really a substitute for what the church is supposed to be? The book of Acts calls us to reconsider what a real church community looks like -- a community with a purpose.

American culture's retreat from traditional in-person social networks like civic groups, service clubs and even churches toward the more isolating kinds of entertainment and interaction made possible by technology.

Mark Zuckerberg founded the social media platform Facebook while a college sophomore at Harvard in 2004. Originally designed as a platform for college students to check one another out, Facebook is now a worldwide network of some 2 billion users who interact with many "friends," some of whom they have never met in person. What was originally a chance to connect and reconnect with new and old friends has morphed into a global phenomenon that purportedly shrinks the distance between people and gives them an opportunity to interact and share themselves with one another.

Studies show that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined by as much as one-quarter. That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else. For Zuckerberg, that somewhere else is Facebook, which he sees as a postmodern, post-traditional form of "church." "People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity," says Zuckerberg, "not just because they're religious, but because they're part of a community." I am not sure I would equate Facebook with being a church, but the later part is true.

Comparing a virtual church of billions of isolated individuals tapping on keyboards to the real thing will cause most church folk to laugh. But we have to ask the question: What is the church missing that would allow Zuckerberg and millions of others to want to substitute wading through political rants and vacation selfies for real interaction with a living, breathing, worshiping community? 

Maybe part of the answer is we need to reach back to the church's roots, and there's no better place to do that than by reading the book of Acts. Almost nobody worships or evangelizes alone in that book and all the interaction is face to face.

This is what the church does. While Facebook's innovation has had an amazing impact in the world by bringing us faces (of friends and family) right to our screen, the church allows us to experience faces -- the faces and lives of people in a community of faith, a community in which we act, serve and work together for the glory of God. We are physically able to share our pains and joys together.

From the very beginning of the book we learn that God, via the Holy Spirit, created this community called church not for the purpose of people merely checking one another out, but for introducing people to the good news of what God had done through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The very premise of the community was that God had come in person in Jesus and hadn't settled for sharing a tweet or posting our latest photos of making fools of ourselves. Jesus would form a real community of disciples, complete with their own quirks and flaws, and train them how to interact with others in order to bring them into God's kingdom. The Spirit empowered them for this work and, as a result, the community platform grew by leaps and bounds.

Immediately, this community began connecting in person around tables in their homes, in the temple and through sharing their goods with one another. In our reading, we get a more detailed window into how the community functioned, and it was a lot more about selfless service than selfies!

What we see in someone's Facebook profile is precisely what they want us to see and no more. Those vacation photos, pics of new cars and beautiful selfies are all designed in some way to show everyone else that we're doing quite well, thank you very much. For some people, the goal is to attract more "friends" and receive more "likes," which can make even the most mature adult begin acting like an insecure and self-obsessed seventh-grader. There's even evidence that using Facebook can cause depression in some who see the lives their "friends" present online as being much better than their own.

The church, on the other hand, was designed as a community where people focus on others more than themselves. It was created as a group centered on belief in the God who had saved them because they were all in the same situation -- they were all sinners in need of grace. They had no impression to manage because they were all outsiders to their culture. Instead, they were "of one heart and soul," completely focused on what God had done for them in Jesus. They modeled their lives after Him by voluntarily and sacrificially caring for others to the point of seeing their own personal possessions as being available to everyone else in the community.

At this point, someone might post a rant that this was an early form of communism or socialism, but rather than being compelled by an external force, the early church gave out of the internal resources of compassion made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Coupled with that deep sense of community was a central narrative that drove the church's action and mission. The church was centered on the story of the apostles' testimony that Jesus had risen from the dead, which had enabled them to receive God's grace in its fullness and compelled them to share that good news with the world. The story became the motivating and uniting factor in the church's life and work -- indeed, it's what made them a "church" in the first place. 

Facebook, on the other hand, has no overarching narrative other than the collective stories of its users and no authoritative testimony other than the individual's opinion and worldview. Facebook’s vision of community doesn't include a central focus other than the human desire for self-elevation, which ultimately leads us back to what the Bible calls "sin." Instead of a central narrative, the social media platform often presents a constant mishmash of personal stories, silly videos, and angry screeds that are designed to draw like-minded people to one's page, with a few exceptions, of course. Granted, many Facebook users enjoy the ability to stay in touch with family members who are elsewhere in the country, and if friends are posting angry political posts or other offensive ideas, they can be easily unfriended.

It was this need for community that led the early church to be generous with one another. As God had been generous with His grace in Jesus, so they would be generous with one another, believing that their lives were part of something much bigger than themselves. Luke says that there was "not a needy person among them" and that members of the church community sold property and gave the proceeds to the apostles to distribute to those who were in need. 

The early church's social platform was driven by generosity developed out of a sense of gratitude to God. People gave out of their scarcity so that others could have enough. Just as a few help me keep St. Francis’ lights on and the insurance paid!

It's interesting that Luke lifts out one name as an example from his description of the early church. A Levite from the island of Cyprus (from the priestly tribe) was named Joseph, but he received the nickname "Barnabas" from the apostles because he was constantly encouraging others in the community. This "son of encouragement" had sold a field and given the proceeds to the Apostles. He didn't need the real estate anymore because he was about to join another convert who underwent a name change (from Saul to Paul) and head out on a mission to spread the good news about Jesus Christ. The church viewed 

While Facebook has launched a revolution in the way people relate to one another in a technological age, it can never replace the church and its real life impact. This assumes, of course, that the church gets back to its primary message and "business" model! 

Maybe if we took seriously the way of community in the early church we wouldn't be competing with a virtual substitute. We can once again be people of the Book who share with others face to face! After all, the lesson isn’t about selling everything you own (which would not be as practical today) - it’s about being a community of faith and support. What can we do for others today?

Let us pray.

In today’s Gospel, we read how Thomas doubted the resurrection of the Lord until he himself could see the wounds in his hands and side. We pray to our Father in heaven that He bless us with faith and that we, without seeing Jesus’s wounds, would be firm in our belief and loyalty to Him. We pray to the Lord.               

That the Church will rededicate herself to living and proclaiming Christ’s compassion, love, mercy and forgiveness in all our dealings with our family, neighbors and particularly those who may have injured or offended us in the past. We pray to the Lord.  

That the sacrificial love of Jesus may inspire everyone to sacrifice some of themselves for anyone in need. We pray to the Lord.

We pray for our young people that they reap the positive benefits of social media while treating their fellow brothers and sisters with the respect and love which Christ has shown to us in His mission on earth. We pray to the Lord.

We pray that You will be with the friends and families of the 11 people shot and killed in our country this past week and those injured from these same shootings. We further pray that our legislators will be inspired and encouraged to create laws to protect people from those who should not carry guns and to eliminate assault weapons from the hands of the regular citizen. Senseless shootings must stop and we ask Your intervention. We pray to the Lord.

We pray that you will intercede in the genocide taking place in Ethiopia and protect the citizens from the atrocities taking place there. We pray to the Lord.

For those on our parish prayer list, that they may receive swift answers to their needs and that they may find consolation through Christ’s healing presence. We pray to the Lord.                    

We bow our heads and remember in silence our own personal intentions and the intentions of those who have asked for our prayers (pause). We pray to the Lord.

Father, as we reflect today on your great mercy, we thank you for the confidence and encouragement we have gained through the resurrections of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We pray that we sinners may be made worthy of your promise of salvation. Mighty God, with grateful hearts we welcome you on this Second Sunday of Easter, joyously repeating the ancient Christian greeting: "Christ is risen!" "He is risen indeed!" Accept now, we pray, our homage for the forgiveness and the promise of newness, in this life and beyond, which in Your amazing grace, You extend to us, through Him. 

Father God, as we go through our new week ahead, give us the courage and inspiration to live in the example of our community of believers who helped the Apostles, and do likewise in the various ways that today’s society affords us. We ask all these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

God Love You +++

The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

Please help if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter 2021

 April 4, 2021

Easter Sunday

(Colossians 3:1-11; John 20:1-9)

She checks her social media around 10 times a day. Twitter and Facebook are her main sites, but she also looks at Google for news. Since the start of the pandemic, her habit has increased significantly.

“I’m a doom-scroller,” she admits to the Healthline website. Yes, this 26-year-old speech therapist confesses that she has a problem. Doom-scrolling is a new term used to describe the act of endlessly scrolling down news apps, Twitter, and social media, reading all the bad news. “The pandemic has exacerbated these habits in many ways,” says a New York psychologist, “including the fact that there is no shortage of doomsday news.”

If doom-scrolling is part of your daily routine, you are not alone. Twitter use has jumped 24 percent since the start of the pandemic last year, and Facebook is up 27 percent.

The problem with this habit is that it can lead to higher stress. We think that keeping up with the latest news will lessen our anxiety, but it increases it. Doom-scrolling is an “unsatisfying addiction,” says one clinical psychologist. Instead of making us feel safer, it raises our level of fear, anxiety and stress.

But we are not the first to experience this. Journalists admit that they have been doing it for years, and the three women who visited the tomb on Easter morning were some of the very first doom-scrollers.

Mark tells us that when the Sabbath was over, “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint [Jesus]. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.”

What were they feeling? Doom and gloom. Their Messiah had been killed in a humiliating death on a cross. His body had been laid in a cave-like tomb, and a large stone had been rolled against the door. They were feeling grief over the death of Jesus, stress about the future, and anxiety about how they would remove the stone.

As they were walking along, they had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Anxiety is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come, and that’s exactly what the women were experiencing. Many of us have felt this way over the past year. Minute by minute, their mental health was eroding. But when they arrived, “they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.”

Their doom-scrolling was met by an act of stone-rolling. Finally, some good news!

But as “they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.” They didn’t expect to see anyone, (other than their dead Messiah, of course) so they were startled. The man said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised.” Their doom-scrolling had been focusing on bad news, but the words of the young man gave them reason to hope.

Then the man told them to go “tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” The young man changed their focus from doom and gloom to a new possibility for the future. He promised them that Jesus was going ahead of them, and that they would see Him in Galilee.

So the women fled the tomb, filled with terror and amazement. Since negative emotions can be hard to overcome, Mark admits that “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Yes, the fear that had been gripping them was not easy to throw off. It took time. And what was true for them is also true for us.

You can turn off Twitter with the flip of a switch. But escaping doom and gloom is not always that simple.

Experts say that the solution to doom-scrolling is to break out of the “vicious cycle of negativity.” That’s the message for the women and for us, when we see large stones in our path and feel alarmed. The good news of Easter is that God has acted in our lives to break the cycle of negativity. We are invited today to see that the stone has already been rolled back, to believe that Jesus has been raised, and to focus on the future where our risen Lord is ahead of us and waiting for us.

And so, the stone is gone, the barrier has been broken down. Most of us have fears about the future, and we often focus on worst-case scenarios. This was what the women were doing as they approached the tomb, fixating on the enormous stone that they feared was going to block them from entering the tomb and anointing the body of Jesus.

However, fear is always worse than reality. “Our brains are crazy,” writes Tyler Tervooren in HuffPost. “Every day they lie to us about how terrible things are or how bad they’re going to be, but when we finally ignore the fear [we] realize everything’s pretty much okay, the world will keep turning, and we’re going to survive.”

Yes, the world will keep turning, and God will keep working. The women were so afraid of the stone that they never dreamed that God would take action to roll it away. Their brains were lying to them about how terrible things were and how bad things were going to be. But then God replaced their doom-scrolling with stone-rolling. (I bet that scared the posted guards! Must have, because they were no longer there!)

God will do the same for each of us. So, don’t let your brain convince you that the stone you fear will always stand in your way. Don’t let your brain lie to you. Since God is always at work, fear is worse than reality.

We need to open our eyes and see that Jesus is no longer dead. The young man in the tomb sensed that the women were not going to believe what he was saying, so he invited them to see for themselves. Jesus “is not here,” said the man. “Look, there is the place they laid him.”

Jesus is not here, dead in the tomb. See for yourself. Instead, He is alive in people who are showing His grace, His love, His forgiveness, His healing and His justice. Jesus is alive and well whenever a stranger is welcomed, a child is loved, a friend is forgiven, a patient is healed and an injustice is made right.

Resurrection is not stuck in history, but a reality at every time. The risen Christ, is saving and healing, here and now, and touching every place and time. Jesus comes into contact with human suffering whenever it is experienced. In the face of today’s racism and violence, Jesus suffers still, yet loves the more. 

Jesus is not dead in the tomb. Instead, He is found in His followers who act with justice, love and praise. Open your eyes, and see that Jesus is alive and well in you, and in the people around you.

We are challenged to look to the future, not to the past. Our risen Lord Jesus is not simply with us — He is ahead of us as the man told the women, always ahead of us, calling us into the future that He is preparing for us. Our job is to figure out where Jesus is leading us, and to follow Him there. Something we need to seek urgently in a time of sorrow and unknown.

Doom-scrolling traps us in a vicious cycle of negativity that fuels our anxiety. “Our minds are wired to look out for threats,” says Dr. Amelia Aldao, who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. “The more time we spend scrolling, the more we find those dangers, the more we get sucked into them, the more anxious we get.” But what if we replaced a vicious cycle with a virtuous cycle? What if we turned away from threats and looked for possibilities? This is what Jesus was doing by moving ahead of his disciples to Galilee, and what He is doing by going ahead of us today. Jesus is rolling away stones and calling us forward.

I like to think that my daily hour of prayer each day, mixed with Lectio Divina, is a way of setting my mind in a more positive set of thoughts. I have always recommended some form of daily structured prayer. You would be surprised how the Holy Spirit interacts with you!

Let’s move toward new possibilities for deeper connections with family members and friends, new possibilities for vital ministry and mission in the church, and new possibilities for justice and righteousness in our community and nation.

We don’t have to focus on doom and gloom. Not with the stone rolled away and our Lord calling us forward.

Let us pray.

That the joy of Easter will infuse the church with energy to proclaim God’s good news. We pray to the Lord.

That all nations of the world will act to protect the precious gift of life. We pray to the Lord.

That all for whom this Easter is not joyful will know they are not alone and will experience Christ’s compassionate presence. We pray to the Lord.

That all gathered here will be filled with the strength of Christ’s Spirit and will seek out creative ways to witness to the resurrection. We pray to the Lord.

That those who seek justice may find it in the transformation of hearts, minds, and our institutions. We pray to the Lord.

That we maintain the patience, vigilance, and understanding necessary to keep us safe during the pandemic, and for a speedy and equitable distribution of the vaccines. We pray to the Lord.

For all those who give of themselves so that others may be helped – doctor, nurse, healthcare worker, EMT, police officer, firefighter, grocer, trucker, store clerk, mail carrier, takeout cook, hospital and building cleaner, teacher, childcare worker, mental health professional, and countless others.  May they receive your protection as they serve. For those who have died and whose names are listed in this week’s church bulletin. May they celebrate everlasting life in Christ Jesus. We pray to the Lord.

We gather, O God, in your presence to rejoice in the light of the empty tomb. The stone has been rolled away, both from the mouth of the tomb and from the depths of our hearts. During this difficult time, we have been trying to live in the power of the risen Christ. We also have tried to grow daily in the presence of our risen Savior.

For those on our parish prayer list, that they may receive swift answers to their needs and that they may find consolation through Christ’s healing presence. We pray to the Lord.                    

We bow our heads and remember in silence our own personal intentions and the intentions of those who have asked for our prayers (pause). We pray to the Lord.

Some of us, too, have suffered a long winter of the soul. We have struggled to breathe in the chill wind of adversity. We have been unable to grow anything in the barren fields of doubt and fear. We have trembled and shivered as we have struggled to sense the warmth of your love. We come to the empty tomb with an expectant hope in our hearts and the prayer of faith on our lips. We are confident that you are about to do a new thing, O God. We believe that the stone, which we struggle to move ourselves, is about to be blown out of its ruts. We look for an encounter with the risen Christ, and to that end we bow in worship, and worship in wonder, and wonder in faith, and have faith in you. We ask all these things, as we always do, through Christ, Your Son and our Lord. Amen.

Happy Easter! God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San. Diego, CA

Please help if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday

 March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday

(Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 11:1-11)

Today with the whole of the Christian community we enter upon the final week of preparation for our yearly celebration of the Lord's death and resurrection. Since Ash Wednesday many of us have tried to read or listen attentively to God's word of life and mercy in Jesus Christ calling us once more to a renewal of our baptismal commitment. The renewal of that lifegiving stream within our hearts should flow anew into patterns of loving service in the midst of our sisters and brothers within the human family in a time when love is sorely needed. 

The readings of this day's liturgy seek to gather the weeks of our Lenten journey around the St. Mark passion narrative and the story of Jesus’ messianic entry into Jerusalem. These readings represent diverse traditions of celebrating the Sunday before Easter in the early church. 

The Roman tradition of the late 4th and early 5th centuries was to read the passion on this Sunday while the previous Sunday was called “Passion Sunday.” Passion Sunday started the period in which the church focused on the passion the week preceding the remembrance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, known as the week of “Passion-Tide.” 

The Jerusalem tradition focused more in reenacting the day by day events of the last week of Christ’s life and thus centered its liturgy in the Palm Sunday procession on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

The medieval liturgical tradition, which we have inherited, sought to combine both traditions. Some branches of Christianity have taken a contemporary liturgical renewal which has continued the celebration of both traditions, but has placed renewed emphasis upon the reading of the passion as a central focus of today's liturgy of the word. 

In the Liberal Catholic world, we would normally have a liturgy and readings less focused on the gruesome aspects of the passion. Here at St. Francis, however, we normally tend to take a more traditional approach with the Passion-Tide week leading into Palm Sunday. This year, given Covid-19 and reduced attendance, I am going with simplified worship. 

On this Sunday, we read one of the synoptic gospels on the rotating basis while every year we read the passion according to the Saint John on Good Friday (depending on the service).

And so, today we read the passion according to Saint Mark so that the story of Jesus’ suffering and death will be a place where all individual and communal stories of pain, loss, suffering and death during the past year can find some meaning. For we are confronted each day with the tragedies of human suffering that seem to challenge the truth of God's love and providential care for us. The Christian response to human suffering is not so much a philosophically reasoned series of answers but an invitation to the kenosis, the self-emptying, of Jesus. (Philippians 2:7)

The St. Mark passion narrative does not ask us to choose suffering as suffering, but it does bid us to enter into Jesus' struggle to accept in faith the reality of suffering in human life. Jesus’ agony in the garden and His sense of abandonment by God on the cross reflect the truth of our own human experience. 

Paul says in Philippians that our attitude must be that of Christ who empties himself by obediently accepting death on the cross. Jesus’ obedient acceptance is not a passive surrender in the face of suffering, but an active and faith filled listening to His own role in God's plan of Salvation. Such listening obedience does not remove the human agony or the feeling of abandonment that are part of our experience of suffering. But in Christ’s self-emptying of obedience unto death, we are opened as women and men to the mystery of God's strange ways of loving us through suffering and death unto newness of life. 

God created us as human beings that we might have life and have it in abundance. In the self-emptying of Jesus’ passion, death and sin are conquered because they are taken into the mystery of God and transformed into new life. As we gather on this Sunday of the Passion around the word of God's gift of new life in Christ crucified and risen, we bring with it the mystery of our own experience of the passion during the past year as individuals, as a Christian community, and as members of the entire human family. Most suffering and tragedy make no sense to us, and we have often wondered where our loving God is when we are surrounded by pain and loss. 

Today's readings tell us that through self-emptying, the loving God in, with, and through Christ, is present amidst all our suffering so that we will have life in abundance. God’s self-emptying in Christ gathers all our experience of emptiness, nothingness, and meaninglessness in the face of suffering into the Cup of Jesus’ passion so that we may ever drink the Cup of new life and know that we do not suffer alone. 

This day let us allow our experience of suffering to flow into the mystery of the Cup of Christ’s passion. Let us eat of Christ’s body and drink of the Cup of Christ’s blood, believing that the mystery of His self-emptying by obediently accepting death on a cross will sustain us amidst the darkness of our own self-emptying and our own struggle to be obedient to God's plan of life through death. Come to the table of the cross and share in the victory of Christ by drinking new life greater than all the forces of suffering and death. May the stream of Christ’s gift of new life in our hearts flow into the compassionate service of our suffering sisters and brothers in our communities and in the entire human family.

Let us pray. 

At this difficult time for the Church, we ask for the faith to stand by Jesus and have the courage to publicly proclaim the Word of the Lord. We pray to the Lord.               

During this Holy Week, we pray for the grace to reflect on the Way of the Cross and on the sufferings which Christ endured out of love for us. We pray to the Lord.               

Lord, we pray for unity among all Christians and that during this Holy Week we who believe in you, who hope in you and who love you, will worship you in harmony and with the love which you demand of us. We pray to the Lord.           

We pray for all those who like Jesus carry a heavy cross because of poverty, homelessness, illness and bereavement. We pray also for those, who like Simon of Cyrene, help them in their moment of need. We pray to the Lord.             

As we reflect on the sacrifice which Jesus suffered on behalf of humanity, we pray that our society display that same love and commitment as we struggle to overcome the Covid-19 virus and restore the lives of so many to good health and normality. We pray to the Lord.  

For first responders, law enforcement, military and those in harm’s way: that the Lord be their strength and refuge and bless them as they serve our communities and country. We pray to the Lord.

We thank you, O Father, for the wonder of the life and its gifts you have bestowed on us and ask that you remain always responsive to our prayers. We pray to the Lord.

For those on our parish prayer list, that they may receive swift answers to their needs and that they may find consolation through Christ’s healing presence. We pray to the Lord.                    

We bow our heads and remember in silence our own personal intentions and the intentions of those who have asked for our prayers (pause). We pray to the Lord.

Humble Jesus, who rides into our cities, who draws near to our lives, we, too, rise to greet you, to shout our hosannas, to feel life stir within us, to sense hope quickening in our hearts. For you are a great God, a compassionate ruler, a loving friend, a wise counselor. But deep in the distance, in some far corner of our being, we fear your arrival. For you gently offer us a choice, and to choose you means letting go of jealousies and resentments, our private wars against others and our timid acceptance of ourselves. Like the people of Jerusalem, we discover you are more than we first thought. Beyond loud hosannas, you ask our obedience and our worship. And we are learning, piece by piece, to turn that over to you. This is ever oh so difficult when we have a nation, not only fighting Covid-19, but also each other with acts of domestic terrorism, shootings and political fighting instead of governing. Send Your Holy Angels to help during these battles and help us overcome them.

This day, this week, move us into the deeper levels of ourselves. Let us feel again your pain of that last week. Let us touch our own wounds, trusting You. Easter is the sign of new hope for us. Amen.

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

Please help if you can, to keep our ministry alive and vibrant so that there is a place for the those needing respite from a troubled world! God Bless You +++


Monday, March 15, 2021

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

 March 14, 2021

The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Refreshment. Sunday

(Ephesians 2:4-10; John 6:4-15)


It's Sunday. The Sabbath. Day of rest. The Lord's Day.


Time for war.


Getting right in Jesus' face, he screeches, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?"


Hey buddy, it's the sabbath.


"Have you come to destroy us?"


Chill out, friend. This is our day of rest.


"I know who you are," he thunders, "the Holy One of God."


Okay. Time for war.


Jesus reprimands and rebukes the demon, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing the man and crying with a loud voice, comes popping out like a fumbled football. Jesus exudes such authority that even demons obey instantly. Jesus possesses such poise that even evil forces know that he is the Holy One of God. Jesus is pumped up with such power that even unclean spirits know that his arrival on the field marks the end of the Super Bowl for them, the end of their season of domination over men and women.


Jesus, in another words, takes control of the chaos. There's no doubt about the chaos today. Covid-19 and politics have been causing chaos for more than a year.


There's chaos in the synagogue, too. A man of uncertain comportment staggers into the synagogue like a streaker running across midfield of a football game. Jesus takes control. 


A conversion is a life-changing event, and whether you are talking about that conversion which first crafts you into a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, or the conversion which later calls you to reorder your priorities, you probably need to do two things. First, be quiet -- and listen to the authoritative voice of God. Second, "Come out of him" -- that is, break free, let go, get rid of something. Something's always got to give.


Be silent and come out of him. 


So often in prayer we ask for what we want. Jesus is waiting for us to ask Him what He wants for us!


When we follow the command of Jesus to be silent, we spread our branches to the sun and soak up the light of God's love, forgiveness and peace. When we hear God's still, small voice, we are like silkworms spinning the silk of a sanctified life. When we listen for the guidance of the Lord -- really listen, instead of telling the Almighty all about what we are convinced we need to achieve -- we rediscover that our most precious treasure is the God-breathed soul that each of us has from the very beginning of life, a soul that we really should remember to take with us into all the splendid surprises of each day.


Such insight requires a certain amount of simplicity ... and silence.


But hey, don't quit after you've found quiet. Jesus goes on to say, "Come out of him!" -- meaning break free, let go, get rid of something. Something's got to give if you're going to get to where Jesus wants you to go. That is what Lent is about; breaking free and letting go of something you do not need or hinders you from getting closer to God.


Nothing puts us in an "Onward, Christian Soldiers" mode faster than a threat to the health of the church. Our blood starts rushing, our wrath starts rising, and our passion starts to push us into a rampage of righteousness. But as natural as this burst of aggression is, it doesn't seem to be terribly Christ-centered. After all, our Lord is the one who broke tradition by breaking bread with sinners, who loved the one lost sheep as much as the 99 in the fold, and who came to call "not the righteous but sinners" (Mark 2:17).


Jesus commands, "Come out of him!" -- meaning break free, let go, get rid of something. Break free of the natural desire to beat your enemies into submission. Better to submit yourself to God, and to let your good works show the world the awesome power of the Christian life.


Let go of your craving for worldly success, a hunger for food that can never truly satisfy. Better to feast on Scripture and the still, small voice of God, and to let yourself be filled by the satisfaction of a sanctified life.


Get rid of the competitive spirit that forces people to end up as either winners or losers, the victors or the vanquished. Better to welcome the Holy Spirit, who wants everyone to win by discovering and accepting the salvation of our gracious God.


Something's got to give if you're going to get to where Jesus wants you to go. 

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA


As we remain closed due to the Covid-19 virus, we see some hope around the corner. I encourage you to give what you can to help us keep the church alive, especially until we can open again and worship our God as Jesus dictated at the last supper! And so, we remain beggars. God Bless you all!


Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Third Sunday of Lent

 March 7, 2021

The Third Sunday of Lent

This past Wednesday, one of the readings assigned for the day was Matthew 20:17-28. As we read, we can picture the mother of St. James and St. John asking Jesus to bestow the most sacred positions in heaven by sitting on Jesus’ right and left in all of heavenly glory. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be seated on Jesus’ right or left? If we are being honest, most of us would, but we are far from worthy.

Then we read the Gospel for Thursday and in it, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was already living in seats of great status during his earthly life, and then is upset when he dies and seemingly goes to the fiery depths of Hell and he wants a drip of water to cool his tongue. We can’t have it both ways, but oh do we try.

Jesus goes on to ask if St. James and St. John if they are able to drink from the chalice He will drink. Of course, they both say they can, but it is apparent that they have no clue what Jesus is asking. None of His followers do until much later and in harsh manner. 

As Christians, we sometimes forget that the chalice is not a matter of temporal blessings or recognition, as much as we all would like it to be. To be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says, is to be a servant of all. To drink of the chalice is to embrace values that the world despises, like poverty of spirit. Humility, in other words. 

When we look around our world and its current state of things, it can be difficult to stay positive (as some of you who read my Facebook rants this past week can tell). Yet, in Christ, we indeed should be positive. Our trust should be in Him.

As I read the Gospel from Wednesday, my mind also wandered back in my thoughts of a couple periods in my life. Early on when I realized I was being called to be a priest, it was all very scary, overwhelming, and exciting all at the same time.

At first you get these grandiose ideas of the status being a priest brings. One time, while speaking to my spiritual advisor (the late Monsignor Richard Mouton) about entering seminary I asked him why he was not yet a bishop. He was a very holy man, loved by many, and he cared deeply about his flock. Very intelligent, but humble – very humble. He escorted the local bishop to the Vatican Council meetings in the 60’s. If anyone deserved it, in my mind anyway, it was him. His response has stayed with me all these years – “Robert,” he said in his thick accent, “one does not become a priest with aspirations to become a bishop. One becomes a priest to serve God and his people. To be a disciple of Christ. I do not want to be a bishop.” Thinking back on it, I suspect he had been asked to become a bishop and turned it down respectfully.  

After agreeing to seminary and going through the processes etc, as time went by I felt I was being called in a slightly different direction. My heart and soul was a Roman Catholic – at least liturgically - but I simply couldn’t ascent to some of the harsh and antiquated teachings on some important topics that remain important to this day. I just could not see me as a “black and white” type of clergy. Gray areas must be applied sometimes. So, some of Roman Catholic theology I felt was far out of date and harsh. (That’s a debate for another time.)

In the end, I still wanted to be ordained, but I could not vow to teach every single dogma exactly as I would have had to do as a Roman Catholic Priest, so my superiors were disappointed, even mad to some degree, but I believed in a far more compassionate and loving God. Also, I wanted to be with the real people. I wanted to be what is called, “a worker priest,” which simply means having a secular job while having an active ministry. I knew it would seem strange to some, a cop-out to others, the easy way to still others, and even a heretic to more. But, I felt that by being out in the secular world, I could learn about people better. To learn what made them sad and what made them happy. To get to know the “real” person they are. When they come into the church, they act in the manner they think is appropriate which sometimes camouflages the “real” person and what they are going through in their life. I wanted to help them in their everyday life by living in the muck along with them. 

I ended up being ordained as an Anglican Priest. I also knew I would always be second best in the vocation I felt God was calling me to. In a couple of years I found (or rather it found me) the Liberal Catholic Church and was incardinated into them. Independent Catholic denominations/churches have been around for a couple of centuries now, but Rome still labeled them as schismatic at best, and evil heretics at worst. However, I rationalized it to myself that many figures in Scripture were not always ones you would expect God to choose, and yet He did. Scriptures also had those chosen by God that were mistreated and maligned by others. So be it. This is what God wants. I can be a modern St. Vianney of Ars. – at least from the not being able to have the best seminary education and by working in less desirable areas. (I will have you know, St. Francis Chapel is hardly “less desirable.” They deserve better than I have given or could ever give!) I said, that’s fine. At least I will be around everyday normal people. It isn’t about me. It is about the Lord my God and the sheep He sends my way.

I know, Abbott Gentzsch, this sermon is too long already, so let me wind down. You’re the one who most wanted me for the next step I am about to speak.

Then years go by and I move to California, take over a small parish and in the years to come move up the ranks, so to speak. There was a need for a new bishop of our small denomination, and it seemed, everyone wanted me for that role. I thought (and still think) that I was not nearly worthy or cut out for it. Some would say that no one is worthy, but then I remember Monsignor Mouton, and I say there indeed are many who are worthy, just not me. In my many failures since, I have proven myself correct, but some still disagree, just as they did then.

So, what is my point to this self-deprecating story and missive? Sometimes we have to be humble. Sometimes we have to let others win. Sometimes we need to let others treat us poorly. Sometimes we have to do that which others refuse to do. Sometimes we have to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Sometimes we have to drink from the chalice that Jesus drank from. 

As an example, there is a story of a high school student who went along with some people from a local church to complete some service hours for his school as part of his grade. On the way it was explained to him that they normally shake hands with the homeless that they serve, but he was not obligated to do so if it made him uncomfortable. However, when he saw the friendly interactions they had, especially people who had come to know them, he was moved to shake hands with all the people he was meeting.

What enabled that student to reach beyond the chasm that the rich man of the parable never considered bridging during his lifetime and was incapable of bridging in the afterlife? He was surrounded by witnesses. Two women who, in the name of Jesus, were embracing him in the faces of his beloved brothers and sisters, and those brothers and sisters themselves, who were welcoming his love.

Those people were touched by Jesus through the high schooler and the ladies from a church. The homeless people, feeling low in life and mistreated by many, like Lazarus in the parable, were made to feel worthy! I suppose in some ways, I feel like that high school student and have tried to make my ministry to be that example to others.

When you come up to the altar during Communion and approach the priest holding the chalice with precious Blood of Jesus and the ciborium with the Sacred Body of Christ, Jesus is asking us the same thing He asked St. James and St. John; “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” What is your response? 

We occasionally hear in the news of various bishops or priests calling to deny the Eucharist to various politicians, as one example, who voted differently than the Church says they should. In those instances, those clergymen are saying that someone is unworthy. But they are more unworthy, in my mind, than the person coming to Communion. The rich man who ignored his fellow man, was unworthy. However, most of us are not like the rich man and probably not even remotely wealthy. 

When we approach the communion rail and look up at the chalice, remember that the chalice is filled with Love! It is the chalice of the Sacred and Holy Blood of Christ given to you with His Body. Pure radical love. A love that cannot be matched on earth. But when we take the Body and Blood of Christ in us, we are reminded that we have drank form the chalice and must go into the world and love it just as Jesus did. He isn’t expecting us to seek the same fate at St. James and St. John; only that we share that radical love He gave us!

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

As we remain closed due to the Covid-19 virus, we see some hope around the corner. I encourage you to give what you can to help us keep the church alive, especially until we can open again and worship our God as Jesus dictated at the last supper! And so, we remain beggars. God Bless you all!


Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sexagesima

 February 7, 2021

Sexagesima

(2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Mark 2:18-22 – Although these are the assigned readings for this Sunday, I have chosen to use Isaiah 40. I encourage everyone to read it.)

Feeling a little burned out on bad news? If you are, you’re not alone.

The year 2020 seemed to be a month-to-month challenge to top bad news with worse news, dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. Add to that a contentious election cycle, protests and unrest over social issues, and a host of other potential crises — like an invasion of murder hornets and the government’s revelation of UFO photos — and it’s no wonder we’re all feeling a kind of information hangover compounded by Covid fatigue. Some were staying home due to quarantine and social distancing, or in an office that currently has no other workers which naturally led to watching more news than normal just to pass the time.

Some of us are old enough to remember when news outlets consisted of three TV channels, a daily newspaper, and the radio. When Walter Cronkite told us, “That’s the way it is” at the end of every evening news broadcast, we had some time to digest what was going on. The 24-hour, multi-platform, social media-curated, constant cycle of news that confronts us today, however, allows us no time to process and seems to pile on with information that’s not only continuous, but controversial. It tends to include a lot of conflicting information that leaves us confused and stressed, often with no tangible way to respond other than to offer an opinion. 

Author Neil Postman, writing in the days before the internet, was already pointing to the problem of “news fatigue” or a general malaise that leaves us feeling depressed, powerless, and distrustful of news sources that often seem superficial, sensationalist, inaccurate, or hopelessly biased. The result is that the more news we consume the more anxiety we feel or, on the flip side, the more desensitized we become to the news itself. Sound familiar? 

One solution to that anxiety is to simply turn off the news, but that becomes increasingly difficult in a world where we are bombarded with news every time we go into public spaces … in person or online. Another solution might be to only focus on the good news. But neither ignorance nor selectivity would seem to be the answer in a world anxious for the kind of news that people can actually act upon.

What we need instead is a mindset that puts the current news within the context of an eternal perspective. The bad and good stuff happening now has happened before and will happen again. Rather than fret or foment yet another opinion about it all, the prophet Isaiah calls us to remember that the only news that really matters is that the God who created the world in which all this news happens is still at work and will ultimately set everything right. Many of us are praying for just this!

Isaiah wrote to a people confronted with the reality of exile — people isolated and distanced far from home in circumstances they did not choose, but that were the result of their sinful choices. In Isaiah 40:1-11, God announces through the prophet that a return from exile is on the horizon: a new exodus in which God’s people would be set free and restored. God himself would dwell with them and he would feed them and protect them as a shepherd feeds and protects his flock.

This is the news that God’s people needed to hear, and it’s the news that puts all other news into perspective. While we worry over news about the forces of nature threatening to overwhelm us, God reminds us that he is the Creator who “has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand” (Isaiah 40:12). 

The glory and character of God provides us with the best news we could possibly hear. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?” Ask the Creator God, the one who “sits above the circle of the earth” and rules over it (Isaiah 40:21-22). The natural and human-caused calamities that dominate the news cycle are not news to God. God puts them all into perspective by taking the long view. No one who makes the news will ever be God’s equal; he is the one who creates them all and brings us out of it all.

These are powerful reminders for the people of God who, like Israel, often got caught up in the news of the day and began to despair or, worse, began to be sucked into the world’s idolatry, fear and intrigue. The resultant news fatigue made them believe their plight was hidden from the Lord and that they had been disregarded by God. But that’s when God comes shouting through once again with the news that should dominate the attention of all God’s people regardless of their circumstances.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28). Notice the repeat of verse 12, which is a way of bringing home the point that the God who created the “ends of the earth” allows nothing to escape his notice and will allow nothing to defeat his purposes for his good creation. No matter how bad the news seems to be, God’s purposes will win out.

That’s the reason God himself does not suffer from “news fatigue.” As Isaiah puts it, “He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless” (Isaiah 40:28-29). Not only does God know the long view of his purposes in history, he offers power and strength to those who feel the fatigue of bad news in the present. 

Human beings tend to busy themselves trying to either come up with solutions to every problem or offering their opinions to those who “should” be doing something to fix them. But as the pandemic has taught us, there are limits to human knowledge and ability. If we trust only in ourselves, we are bound to experience the fatigue of despair when we fail or reach the end of our ability. The energy and idealism of youth can lead to disappointment and exhaustion when the reality sets in that we cannot “fix” the news no matter how hard we try.

Rather than fret, fixate, or forego the news, Isaiah invites us to deal with our fatigue in light of the larger reality the Creator God has once again declared to his people. Instead of “waiting” on the news by constantly refreshing our screens or scrolling through a social media feed, Isaiah instead invites us to “wait for the Lord” (v. 31). That “waiting” doesn’t mean we simply sit around and do nothing, allowing the news to continue to wash over us. To “wait” means to look to God to provide us with perspective, hope, and purpose through prayer and through being immersed in God’s Word.

How much might our “news fatigue” be mitigated, for example, if we committed to spending at least as much time in prayer as we do scrolling through the news and social media? Many of our phones and devices now tell us precisely how much time we spend online every day. Spending an equivalent amount of time (or more) listening to God and bringing our fatigue and worries to him would allow us the opportunity to put those things in perspective while renewing our strength to deal with the things we can actually do something about. The rest? Well, we simply put the rest in God’s hands, knowing that his purposes win out in the end.

Countering the news with a daily discipline of time spent in the presence of God will enable us to pick up a different pace of life. Do you grab your phone to check the news first thing in the morning? That’s a recipe for starting the day with anxiety, rather than mounting up for the day “with wings like eagles” (v. 31). Instead, try beginning the day with Scripture and prayer before you even touch that phone or the TV remote. Many of you know that I, as do many priests and religious, will normally spend a certain amount of time daily in structure prayer, or Lectio Divina (read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of scripture). I do so for an hour each morning, and when I miss it, my whole day seems off. I encourage you to allow God’s Word to nourish you and strengthen you for the day ahead, to prepare you to run the gauntlet of the day without growing weary or discouraged, and to walk steadily forward without fainting under a load of bad news.

The cure for news fatigue, in other words, is to begin with the good news first!

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We have been blessed by some of you who have generously given to help us keep the lights on and the church and rectory insured - I couldn’t possibly express my gratitude enough! We are not completely out of the woods yet, so I continue to ask for donations and prayers! God Bless you all!

http://www.stfrancisucc.org/donate.html

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Epiphany Sunday

 January 10, 2021

Epiphany Sunday

(Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

After this past week’s events, if one thinks it couldn’t possibly get worse, we would be quite wrong. Over the years, I often would reflect how amazingly civilized our country is; we follow the rules of the road, we work in positions that help our fellow mankind and keep our lives going, we respect our neighbors, since the Civil War we have been quite unified, our democracy worked, etc. However, this has been challenged in many ways the past couple of years – and then this past week happened. Is this the same country that was founded on Christian values?

For Christmas, I reflected on the Light of Christ - the Christ child. This past Wednesday was the traditional day of the Epiphany. And I reflected on it more deeply the past couple of days, and I thought of a solitary candle set on a table outside. Let me attempt to illustrate.

I lit a candle outside when near dusk. The sky began to darken but the Sun was still shining even on the candle. The light of the candle blended in with the light of the day. The 2 lights were in harmony but then what happened? It grew dark. So, now the light of the candle was no longer in harmony with its surroundings. It no longer blended in. As the sky darkened the candle stood out more and more dramatically. It was not the candle that changed but everything around it. So, now it was shining in marked contrast to its surroundings and against the darkness.

The candle in the day, when the sun was still shinning, represents the believer who shines in the midst of a Christian civilization. Its light blends in with the surrounding culture. The culture is in harmony with the light, at least on the outside, and appears to support it.

But the candle in the night represents the believer who shines in the midst of a post Christian civilization, an apostate civilization, an Anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, anti-God civilization. Now the cultural supports as external props are removed. The light of the Gospel is no longer in harmony with the surrounding culture. The surrounding culture now stands increasingly in opposition to the light. The light cannot blend in. It must now increasingly stand out in contrast to its surroundings, and increasingly shine against the flow.

So, if you had a choice, which candle would you rather be, the candle of the day or the candle of the night?

As Christians, we must be the candle of the night. It is the candle of the night that changes the world. The candle that shines in daylight can hardly be seen. But the candle that shines in the darkness can be seen miles away. It is at the very time when it is hardest to shine the light, that it is most crucial that you do. It is then that the light is most needed. And that is when the light becomes its most powerful.

We are amid darkness in our country – a darkness that comes and surrounds us like never before. Our nation is not the nation as it was four short years ago. Sadly, while some can see what is happening and acknowledge the cause(s), others say otherwise.

We should not and cannot go back to the previous centuries that pits our races against one another, our gender against one another, who one loves against one another. This would indeed be a post Christian civilization, an apostate civilization, an Anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, anti-God civilization. So many of us claim to be faithful to our religion, yet none of the three largest faiths encourage the challenges we have been facing from our fellow mortals. They speak out against it! How can one get mad at someone kneeling during the national anthem and then storm the capital and defecate in its interior??

As people of America, we must join in prayer to our Almighty God, our Light, our candle in the darkness, to give us strength to fight back this horrid hateful path we have stubbled upon. We must beg our Lord Christ to bring His radical love into our country and our people. He can be our candle and should be. Let us not waiver to be the knights of this Light. Let Christ fill our hearts so that we may be the candles of light everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. Let us be the voices of reason and never give up doing so!

So, never fear the darkness. You are the light shining, especially into the night and you light up the world. For Christ said, “Do not fear, it is I!” (John 6:20 Paraphrased)

St. Francis has words for us in the form of a prayer attributed to him. As you join me in prayer this week for our beloved nation, finish with these words:

Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine master grant that I may

Not so much seek to be consoled as to console.

To be understood, as to understand.

To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

And it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

And it is in dying that we are born...

To eternal life.

Amen.

God Love You +++

++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We have been blessed by some of you who have generously given to help us keep the lights on and the church and rectory insured - I couldn’t possibly express my gratitude enough! We are not completely out of the woods yet, so I continue to ask for donations and prayers! God Bless you all!


Monday, January 4, 2021

New Year – Second Sunday after Christmas – Mary, Mother of God

 January 3, 2021

New Year – Second Sunday after Christmas – Mary, Mother of God

(Jeremiah 31:7-14; John 1:1-18)

Some of you have probably seen those little noise makers that are used at New Year's Eve parties. A rectangular box with knob on one side. They are also used in Judaism for the Feast of Purim. You hold the handle and you start spinning the Box around which causes a loud grinding noise. You might be more used to the less expensive aluminum version. Either way, they make a racket.

The device in Hebrew is called a rashan, which means noisemaker. It is more commonly known as a grogger, although I think noisemaker fits it the best. During the Feast of Purim when the name of Haman (sometimes called Haman the Evil), the man who tried to exterminate the Jewish people in ancient Persia (Book of Esther), is read, the groggers are turned. By using the grogger they would drown out the name of Haman. In this strange looking instrument of noise is a very profound principle that one should apply to life. Haman is a symbol of evil. The challenge is to overcome evil.

One could say, to some degree, that 2020 was an “evil” year. And how should we overcome evil?

If someone hurts you, you hurt them back? How about if someone hates you and you hate them back? You simply become bitter over what they did, so this certainly is not how you overcome evil. No. That's how you echo evil and perpetuate it. It certainly would go against what Jesus meant to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Jesus meant for us to do good, not do bad. All you are doing is repeating the name of Haman. The grogger holds the secret to drowning out the name.

So, in a sense, when someone sins against you, you use a grogger. The secret of the grogger is that it deals with the sound of evil by producing its own sound, a different sound, and by doing so, it drowns out the sound of evil.

So how do you overcome evil in your life? By producing a sound, that which is not a reaction to evil, that which has an entirely other origin, an entirely different essence, and an entirely opposite spirit. You overcome evil by bringing forth its opposite. You bring forth good. You overcome hatred by bringing forth love. You overcome despair by bringing forth hope. And you overcome that which is negative by bringing forth positive. you overcome darkness by light, and by doing so you drown out all evil.

As we enter a new year, we should drown out the evil in our lives. The hatred of people with different skins tones, national origins, differing religions, different gender, different due to transgender or LGBTQ, different social class, different political beliefs – the list can go on. These hatreds should be drowned out by our groggers!

We are suffering another bad spread of Covid-19. As I write this, San Diego hospitals are at capacity due to Covid infections, yet many still refuse to wear a mask – that would not only protect themselves, but those around them. And now, there is a new strain of it that is even more contagious! Ugh!

Due to the heightened political arrogance and examples from politicians themselves, many people no longer have any common courtesy.

All of these are simply and plainly evil. We are making our own evil. We need to manifest more love, hope and positive energy. We need to be the United States again, not divided as we are. We were a civilized nation, and now we are turning in on ourselves.

For some, you may say I am being harsh. Possibly, but I do not think so. There is so much evil around us right now. It lightened for Christmas, but we need it to lighter even more. As I mentioned in my Christmas message, we need to bring the Light into our lives and that of others.

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions. Normally I don’t make them, at least not from a formal perspective, but I do look at the past year and look at things I want to improve on and try to start the New Year with those in mind. I encourage everyone to cultivate more love, hope and positive light in this coming New Year.

Take some time to sit quiet at some point the next few days, put concerns/mental occupations aside. Sit someplace quiet and alone, so as there are no distractions. Take a small journal/pad and pencil with you. Use the journal to write down things that are interrupting your quiet time, rather than dwell on the them. This works for me. My mind is now settled after writing them down, because it knows now it will not forget those interrupting items. Think of a favorite spiritual word that you can repeat quietly, it could be anything from Jesus, Mary, Eucharist, Holy, or even the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. [Some variations have Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.] Whatever you feel comfortable with.) Some even pray the Rosary!

In whatever form you choose, take that time to cleanse out all the “evil” or negative thoughts and impulses. Allow love, hope and positive energy fill you up and resolve to bring these and the light of Christ into the life of others. Get to a quiet higher spiritual realm where you can absorb some of the Holy Spirit’s energy.

Remember also, the love of Jesus was very radical. Even in a time of turmoil like we currently live in, the radical love of Jesus can reset evil to good. His love has no boundaries. His love is for literally every single person on earth – even all the “different” ones I mentioned earlier and more. And let us pray that the New Year to come will be a fresh start (starting with ourselves being more Christ-like), for the Covid-19 to come under control and a nation on the road to healing – physical, mental and political. This is my prayer. I hope it is yours! Let us spin our groggers and drown out the evil!

God Love You +++

And a Blessed New Year to you all!

++The Most Rev. Robert Winzens

Pastor – St. Francis Chapel

San Diego, CA

We have been blessed by some of you who have generously given to help us keep the lights on ad the church and rectory insured - I couldn’t possibly express my gratitude enough! We are not completely out of the woods yet, so I continue to ask for donations and prayers! God Bless you all!