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The Heart of your Priests

July 27, 2020

Sacrificing for the Treasure

Greetings from Kenya. I had a beautiful Sunday experience I would like to share with you. This past Sunday, (July 26th 2020), I left our home and made an attempt to drive to our local mission church for Sunday Mass. The roads were not good. The rains had filled up potholes, there was mud, and the Church grounds were flooded. I did not make it to the mission, and I had to walk a short distance about three blocks.  According to the government directives, church attendees must be over 12 years old and not older than 58 years. That means, we have only young people running the Churches. Incidentally, this Sunday, the pastor had asked the church not to open because they were not expecting Mass.  I did not know about this. A few people saw me going to the Church, and they ran from their homes so that they would not miss the Sunday Mass opportunity. We prayed the Chaplet and the Rosary outside in the morning sun while waiting for the keys of the church to be brought. 

As soon as the Church keys arrived, I was impressed by our teens. One girl (14 years) immediately cleaned up the sanctuary and set up the altar. A couple of boys (about 14 and 15 years) set up for Mass and vested ready to serve Mass. In just a few minutes, we were ready to start. 

Normally, we would have over 100 people for Mass. This being the second Sunday since churches resumed public Masses, we had less than 10 people. I saw a vibrant celebration in each one of these souls. It felt like we had over 100 people there anyway.

The gospel then hit home, “the Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up, then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt 13:44). No doubt, this small group knew of the treasure of the Eucharistic celebration. They knew they could have stayed home because the service had already been cancelled that day. However, they left everything and raced to join at their church for Eucharist. 

This made wonder, how do I value the Eucharistic Assembly? What can I do to make sure I am part of the Eucharistic celebration at my parish church? 

Right now, the obligation for Sunday Mass is lifted but, in all sincerity, will I just go to Mass because of obligation? Am I convinced that at the Eucharist the fullness of Church is visible? 

Jesus is with us in his people (“where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst”), he is present in his priest, in his Word and in an amazing way, in the Eucharistic species. How can we realize better that this is the hidden treasure in the field and leave every excuse behind and come make our Sunday a fuller experience? 

Ok, the Covid-19 Pandemic is going on yes? Regardless of this, how is the Eucharist your treasure? Have you truly optimized the provided opportunities within the given restrictions? Have we stretched the envelope for Jesus? If we can march in our streets for days without social distancing or sanitization, if we can go to our sporting clubs, if we can gather at playgrounds, shops and all other public forums, how much more can we do so that we can meet to worship our true ‘treasure’ Jesus Christ? 

I encourage everyone to not find a reason or excuse for not going to Mass. Rather, do everything possible to go and celebrate. If we show our Lord, we desire him, he will draw near, he will come to us, he will show us his wisdom and he will heal our world. If we are content and do nothing for our faith, we will never discover the treasure. 

 I really felt moved by these small groups in this poor community that never gave up on going to Mass because they could. Rather, they tried in their limited resources to have a celebration on a Sunday whose obligation they were already totally excused from. How about you and me? What can we “sell” or “give up” to make sure we have our Sunday Celebration? May God who loves us so much never leave us for our past frail and weak responses to his invitations, “do this in memory of me”. 

Jesus thy kingdom come! In my heart through Mary! Fr. Gabriel 

 

July 1, 2020

“What can give us happiness?”

Greetings from Kenya. Once again, I write to you as I feel my closeness to you. The world turmoil continues but there is one who is never disturbed or shaken. Our Lord Jesus Christ. He remains the calm passengers in the boat amidst the waves. He is the creator all there is and he is almighty. The might of God can never be outdone by any worldly fracas or storms. 

I have been thinking about the source of joy, peace, and fullness of life.  Where do we find sure peace in our life? Nowhere, but from him who is “the way the truth and the life”.  Does it seem to you that sometimes the Lord is far? This spiritual desolation is a reality we can all experience. It is sometimes caused by our own doing when we detach ourselves from our relationship with God. When our prayer and worship is not “in spirit and in truth”. Sometimes it is also directly caused by the fog and darkness of the enemy of human nature, the Devil, the father of lies. In all these, God allows it to happen, yet his grace to save us from desolation is constantly with us. 

As I stay in Kenya with no certainty when air travel will be resumed nor how this pandemic will end or at least be controlled, I hear in my heart a longing for happiness and good news all the time.  However, there are many false sources of happiness. The pursuit for happiness in these counterfeit sources can consumes our every being with dismal results. I imagine occasionally you have asked, “what can give us happiness”. Right? 

There seems to be many directives and many plans going on to make sure we enjoy our lives and have a happy time. However, in order for our search for happiness to yield real fruit, we must seek happiness from a true and sure source. This of course is our God.  

Some words echo in my heart. “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want” (Psalm 23).  He has provided me with great help over the years he will not leave me today. “You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine” (Psalm 4).  There can be no other source of perfect happiness. “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change” (James 1:17). I remain convinced of this and encourage all of you to renew and double your efforts for your faith in God. Continue to make a profession of faith daily, to pray the rosary, to attend Holy Mass, visit the Blessed Sacrament, and to read sacred scripture. Let God be at the center of your life as you seek happiness. We are not abandoned but we are continually being loved by God. Our true happiness come from other than from God who knows all our needs even before we ask. Is another source going to yield true happiness? God who is close to us in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit is our happiness. 

I continue to thank Fr. Jeremy and Fr. Samson, the Parish and School staff for all their resilience in leading us through this time. I remain united with you and looking forward to seeing you face to face. In all things, trust in God the true and sure source of our happiness. 

Happy summer!

Jesus thy Kingdom come! In my heart through Mary!  Fr. Gabriel 

 

June 16th, 2020

God first!

Greetings from Kenya. As we continue to manage these days of Pandemic, I feel like St. Paul held in chains even though my chains are invisible (Eph 6:20). The Churches in Kenya remain closed. Other measures include the cessation of movement in and out of some counties which including Nairobi - our capital. All domestic and international flights are suspended. A curfew is in effect daily throughout the country. High standards of hygiene is encouraged and required in all public places. These measures bring some uncertainties. It is easy to feel discouraged because no relief seems in sight. 

At the onset of these pandemic, I was convinced, “God is in control”. Surrendering to his will and following the required safety measures have yielded good results. However, as time goes by, a feeling of impatience has started to grow. Some anxious thoughts begin to fill my mind from time to time. A few times I have found myself trying to make plans for myself. I have questioned how long these will last. Have you felt the same too? I noticed also some fear and worries invading my mind. 

To cope with the situation, I have resolved to more scripture reading and offering Masses of thanksgiving. Daily Rosary and Chaplet have fostered in my heart a great desire to keep God first and to yield to his almighty power. The greatest commandment to Love God above all things requires an undivided focus on our relationship with God. The right order of our relationships demands that God is always first. In response to all that is going on in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic, the protests in the U.S. against racism, persecution of Christians in Nigeria, violence and lawlessness in Libya, the rise in worldwide of corruption and extortion, domestic violence and systemic poverty, we need to put God first. It is when God has been marginalized and faith in God considered absolute and irrelevant that we see the human race turn on each other aimlessly. 

As we look towards restoration of normalcy in our lives, will we put God first?

Finding God in our life requires we surrender to his almighty power. We also must surrender to the truth that God as creator of all things, has created us in his image and likeness. The dignity of every human person will be honored when we restore our order of relationship. God first all the time. Without fear or prejudice let us open our hearts to God. 

A few years ago, we introduced the practice of enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in our homes. This spiritual exercise aims to empower families and develop within our homes, a sanctuary that allows every member of the family to encounter God through the Heart of Jesus. During this month of June, let us all allow Jesus Christ to be the King of our homes. Having experienced a long period of time without sacraments especially celebration of public Masses, how have you encountered Jesus Christ in your home? The Sacred Heart of Jesus is at our disposal as sure means of God’s favor. Through the heart of Jesus, God is continuing to pour His love down upon us. I am certain that with a restored order of relationship with God we will feel the effects of this love. God’s love is sure and everlasting. Even in these troubled times, God is offering us his love. Personally, I do not want to allow any uncertainty, anxiety or civil unrest steal away my awareness of God’s love for me. “For I am convinced that neither death, no life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). 

Jesus thy Kingdom Come! In my heart through Mary! Fr. Gabriel 

 

MAY 2020

Dear beloved parish and school staff and all Parishioners,

Please find below a letter from Fr. Gabriel.

God Bless, Fr. Jeremy

Update and Encouragement.

Dear Parishioners and Assumption School Families
Christ is risen indeed! I am greeting you today at the beginning of the Month of May.  With these words, I would like to update you and encourage you during this difficult time of Covid-19 pandemic. I take this opportunity to thank you all for keeping the faith and maintaining the needed tenacity during these challenging times. In a specially way I thank Fr. Jeremy and Fr. Samson for leading us in our pastoral duties. I thank the parish and school staff especially for their creative and diligent ways they have deployed to keep our mission going.

On my part, despite of the disruption in my sabbatical program, I am well and grateful to God. I have now an extraordinary grace to have daily prayer and daily Mass with my parents. some of you know I like to garden, so I have endless projects at our farm. We have tried to adjust with the situation and taking every obstacle as an opportunity. We are appreciating time together and sharing ideas to keep things going. The rainy season is giving a lot of hope with crops and farm animals doing well. Some parts of the country have suffered floods and mud slides. Roadways have also been damaged. We are grateful for safety and good health.

Regarding the pandemic in Kenya, many things continue to be uncertain. We have restrictions on movement and other health measures with no definite deadline. We are seeing some results with these measures. We are hopeful. Our parishes remain closed. I take long walks around the farms praying for the faith community in my area. As St. Mother Teresa would some “where my hands cannot reach my heart will”.

I feel the same way with you my dear family. You have shared your hearts with me in the last few years and knowing you I can only imagine what you are going through. My heart goes out to you since I cannot be there in person. Even though this year I was going to be away during the sacramental celebrations (First Holy Communion and Confirmation) I feel sad that the dates for these celebrations remain uncertain. I always believe God is in control. That is of course easier said than done especially when tough times come. I empathize with our students who are missing the regular graduation traditions. I am sure Divine wisdom will grant us ways to honor them and celebrate these landmark achievements. Usually as a parish, we spend several hours a week visiting the elderly and caring for those in the nursing homes and hospitals, during this time, I am praying that residents and patients can experience our risen Lord and not feel lonesome. Please keep praying for them and checking on each other from time to time.

Like many in the world, jobs have been lost. To all the jobless parishioners and school families know of my prayers. On this feast of St. Joseph the worker (May 1st), let us renew the meaning of our life. We live because God wills. Everything we do, we do for his greater glory. Our faith leads us to God creator of all things. Our jobs and our labor also need to have God at the center. St. Joseph glorified God by his diligence to God’s will. He is our example for human labor. On our part aided by his intercession, we can grow in faith and duty first and foremost towards God. May anyone or any relation you know who has lot their job during this pandemic be renewed in their focus on God as the source of all their livelihood. Through God’s providence may all find needed sustenance for themselves and their families.

As I conclude, I would like to thank you all once again for your faith, dedication, and prayer support. I had invited everyone to pray the Creed daily. “It is right and just to entrust oneself wholly to God and to believe absolutely what he says. It would be futile and false to place such faith in a creature” CCC 17. Please keep up with the prayers. Continue with 7pm Rosary lead by my brother priests Fr. Jeremy and Fr. Samson. During the month of May our Holy Father Pope Francis has encouraged us to pray the Rosary. The tradition of Family Rosary at home is highly encouraged. Pope Francis says it is good we rediscover the beauty of praying at home. Make it simple and sweet for yourselves. I promise to join you together with my parents to pray with you. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Virgin who listens, embraces us with joy, she intercedes, she keeps vigil with unwavering hope and as a mother she will never leave us.

Jesus thy kingdom come! In my heart through Mary!              

In Christ our hope

Fr. Gabriel Waweru
Blessed Sacrament Parish

 

MARCH 2020

Greetings and best wishes to all of you. 

I have sent messages of greetings and update during my sabbatical and this pandemic encounter through Father Jeremy in the past few weeks.  This time, I want to reach you all and encourage you. We are in this together. 
Our sabbatical program began well on Jan 20th. Having done several pilgrimages and had several lectures in our program. On February 23rd we got word that all major museums, churches and tourist centers in Northern Italy were closed due to the Corvid 19 virus. The trip to the Holy Land scheduled for February 27th -Match 6th was cancelled last minute. Classes were scheduled to continue March 9th. On Monday 9th of March, partial lockdown was announced. Our retreat master and some lecturers were unable to commit to our schedule. The next day, Tuesday March 10th the country went on total lockdown. This meant, only groceries and pharmacies were open. Only workers with authorized documents would be allowed to transit around town. The volatility of the situation meant we reschedule everything but since many of the priests were scheduled to be home by Easter and with the 14-day quarantine period requirement in force many scattered using all possible routes to get home. Plans where scheduled and cancelled every other hour. Nothing was definite. There was a lot of frustration and disappointment. Our college encouraged we make plans sooner than later. Many of our group were able to depart by Friday March 13th. 
I decided to come to Kenya earlier than planned. My flight originally was scheduled for March 17th, but it was cancelled. March 13th Kenya announced its first case of Corvid-19. I managed to find a new flight March 14th in the evening arriving in the morning of Sunday 15th. That evening the government shut boarders, except for Kenyan nationals and Permanent residents. All schools were closed, and colleges were given two days to effect closer. Public gatherings were limited. A hype for hygiene ensured with sanitizers and had washing stations appearing everywhere in public places. Currently Kenya has 7 cases and a few awaiting results. 
I am in self-isolation. Spending most of the time alone with the Lord. I am healthy and well no symptoms at all. 

As you continue to make adjustments, I encourage you to be hopeful and to know that things are really going to be managed. We need to be docile and humble. It was difficult to have our many churches in Rome closed. However, I saw faith grow as everyone went home including all of us at the college and began to pray, be close to the Lord and to trust in his providence. We had a day fasting and prayer. We had several men walking around campus praying the rosary privately. Our Marian grottos had a guest every so often. Faith was a love; the Lord was in our midst and I could feel it. 

Some people have thought to ignore the essential health directives and have resulted to serious consequences including death of loved ones. In Italy because the young mix so much with the elderly in their homes, we suspect this is why many of those vulnerable were infected and have died. 

On Third Sunday of Lent, Jesus said, “there comes a time when you will worship in spirit and truth” John 4: 23-24. I have felt your unity and closeness during this time though spiritual and true worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. We might not be able to worship the way God has asked us during this pandemic, but he knows our need to get saved from this pandemic. I am convinced we can all rediscover the spirit that makes us want to congregate around the altar.

The directive from the diocese to cancel all public masses and large parish gatherings is difficult. This is not a decision taken lightly. On the other hand, it is meant to help us all during this pandemic. Despite all these, make a stronger commitment to Jesus during these circumstances. I recommend the following:
1. Daily recital of the Creed (Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed) We should never forget who believe in.
2. Make a spiritual communion - (From our Holy Father, to our bishops and priests daily Mass is being for the whole world including for you)

My Jesus, 
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. 
I love You above all things, 
and I desire to receive You into my soul. 
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally, 
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

3. Recite the Rosary daily (if possible 7pm parish hour) You will learn the works of God through the mysteries.
4. Private visit to the Blessed Sacrament (Church is open 8:00am - 7pm Monday through Friday 9:00am - 7:00pm Saturday and Sunday)
5. Private confessions (Thursday noon, Saturday 10am and 3pm)
6. Contact the home bound and vulnerable (Call, text or email) loved ones to make sure they are well.

God knows in his wisdom what he has in store for us. He has allowed us to experience these times. Through his eyes we will see clearly.  “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Pray for me as I for you. 

In Christ our hope

Fr. Gabriel Waweru
Blessed Sacrament Parish