Never lose focus on God, and let Christ into your hearts – May 2023

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts (1 Peter 3:15).

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

St. Peter reminds us of the importance of never losing focus on God, to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. He tells us to be ready to explain the reason for our joy; for if Christ is in our hearts, we are joyous, and others may not understand this sacred joy. He reminds us in our daily living, in our living joyously, to greet the people with reverence, no matter how they might treat us. By doing this, they will also know the love of Christ and the reason for your joy.

The early Christians dedicated their lives to prayer and service and offered each day to God. The Liturgy of the Hours is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer. The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using Scripture and prayer. In the Hours, the royal priesthood of the baptized is exercised, and this sacrifice of praise is thus connected to the sacrifice of the Eucharist, both preparing for and flowing from the Mass. This communal prayer of the Church is one way in which we dedicate ourselves to God from the moment of our rising to our rest. It is in this dedication through prayer that we join others who do the same, never forgetting the reason for our living. We are born of God for God. While priests and religious are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the laity is encouraged to join the entire Church in our prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Of course, we each have the delight of receiving refreshment in the Lord by our reception of the Eucharist. During the month of May, you, our parishioners throughout the Diocese of Orlando, are rejoicing because of the many children who receive Jesus the Eucharist through their First Holy Communion. As each one receives, our own heart smiles because we know Jesus lives in them and they join us as beautiful examples of Jesus among us.

In a way, we can say that these little ones ‘graduated’ to another step in their faith journey. We also ‘graduated’ with them as we continue to form them by showing them how to live joyously because Jesus lives within us.

During the month of May, we also celebrate the Ordination of three men to the Priesthood, Deacons Ángel García, Edgar Serrano, and Zachary Parker, on Saturday, May 27 at 10:00 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Recently, I celebrated the Funeral Mass of Father Sean Heslin, a priest of the Diocese of Orlando who served the people of God for 60 years. I pray that the three ordinands will grow as priests like Father Sean. He was a priest whose focus was always on God; his service was to bring the people to God; and he was joyous in his priesthood. His love for the people was born out of Jesus the Eucharist and he knew everyone he met as Jesus. Pray for Deacons García, Serrano and Parker that their love of Jesus will joyously spill over into their daily living that all might know Jesus because of them.

Many of our young people are expectant as they wait for the moment of graduation, either from elementary, high school or college. Graduation is a momentous occasion as it is part of our everlasting pilgrimage to heaven. Our education helps form us to see the world through God’s eyes and to serve the people we meet as He calls us to do: “love one another as I have loved you.”

Pope Francis talks about our pilgrimage to heaven, our ‘journeying together.’ He says, “We need to let ourselves to be educated by the Spirit to a truly synodal mentality, entering with courage and freedom of heart into a conversion process.” He says our encounter with the Risen Jesus fills us with joy, with hope and “this means that we are to be God’s leaven in the midst of humanity.”

In other words, “it means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world.”

May we sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. May we be a Eucharist in our world.

To watch the Ordination of three men to the Priesthood via livestream, visit our Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Ordination to the Priesthood is on May 27th at 10 a.m. at Mary Queen of the Universe, Orlando.