Looking at the Stars

Homily by Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe 

We hear today in our first reading about “a great sign appearing in heaven,  a woman clothed with the son, the moon underneath her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars.”

Well if we look at our Lady’s mantle in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we notice her mantle is covered with stars.  The interesting thing is that scientist have studied this mantle and came to realize that the stars on her mantle match exactly how the stars were aligned in the sky the day of one of the apparitions Dec. 12, 1531.   But the stars are aligned not from an earthly or geocentric point of view like how we see the stars from earth, but from a heavenly or heliocentric point of view as she was looking at them from the sun or the heavens.Virgen_de_guadalupe1

So, this sign challenges us to ask ourselves, how do we see things, from an earthly or heavenly point of view? We will look at three more parts of the image to help us examine this.

First, in the image our Lady’s head is tilted the same degree of the earth.  Why?  Perhaps so we can remember that like the earth we must tilt so we can absorb the warmth of the Sun (Son).   We should look at this sign and ask, “Do we tilt towards absorbing worldly fame or heavenly gain?”

Secondly, we see in the image that the Virgin of Guadalupe’s eyes are looking down or in the right direction.  This represents humility, but also, we know that through the ribbon around her hands that Our Lady of Guadalupe is pregnant.  Thus, when Mary is looking down; she is looking down to heaven, the place where God is dwelling and that is her focus.   We often lose focus and take our eyes off our Lord and that’s when we start to focus on the darkness and lose sight of what’s important.  What’s important is God’s will, this is what we must bow our head’s to in humility and in this we stay on the right path.   So, the Virgin of Guadalupe teaches us to keep our eyes on the right things, to have a heliocentric or heavenly view, not simply a geocentric or worldly view.

Lastly, we see Mary’s smile represents the joy of being in the presence of God.  We hear in Mary’s Magnificat (the Gospel), “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit exalts in God my savior” (Lk. 1: 47).   We can understand the joy in dwelling in the greatness of God , but that means we must learn how to let God be the savior, not us

Remember our Lady comes as both virgin (single or consecrated) and mother (raising biological/adopted families) and so this lesson applies to all states of life.   When we try to fix things and “save the day even when we are not called to do so” (this is important because sometimes God is calling us to His instrument in solving problems) we look at life from an earthly point of view.  But when we allow God “to be God” we find joy because we allow Him into the situation, and thus into our hearts.  And Aquinas tells us that joy is the result of when we willingly think about/contemplate experiencing the good.   Sometimes we don’t experience joy because we try to be God and fix everything, but also sometimes we don’t experience joy simply because we don’t take time to contemplate the experience of God, to pray and thank God for the good.

So let us experience joy, the ultimate good by taking in the sign of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Let us look at her mantle and challenge ourselves to see the stars, to see success or shining in life, not simply from a worldly or geocentric point of view, but from a heavenly Son-centered point of view.  If we do this, we will hear in a loud voice the Kingdom of God and the great blessings that God has in store for us.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

(Based on the Readings: Rev. 11:19-12:1-6, 10; Judith 13: 18-19; Gospel: Lk. 1:39-47)

Visiting WorkCamp 2018

By Luke Poczatek

This past summer, I went down to visit our Diocese’s annual WorkCamp event. My main goal was to visit some of youth from St. Paul Chung Parish and Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parish. The faith was very much alive, and the high schoolers and group leaders from these two parishes were very welcoming. I spoke with the Korean youth, and told them I was planning on visiting the parish this summer. Meeting with them, I could see that the faith was strong. Meeting with the parishioners from Holy Martyrs, we hit it off quickly. I told them that my grandmother was Vietnamese, and they all got really excited! I made the connection with them, that I really understood their culture through my grandmother. I loved a lot of the same food, and understood plenty of their customs. They even showed me their special type of perfume which consisted of some green liquid. When I smelt it, I told them it reminded me of my grandma! They were all very kind to me, and it made me look forward to visiting their parish.

Looking at my time with the communities at WorkCamp, I got a chance to see that the faith is strong in the youth, in these diverse cultures, and the Lord is working to nurture this faith in their parishes. They express so much joy in their lives, and this joy was contagious when I was with them. Their camaraderie and zeal was awesome to witness, and I was touched by the way they welcomed me as a part of their group. It encourages me to always be the one that welcomes others, and to do it with the joy that these campers showed.

Luke at Work Camp II
Luke Poczatek (Second Row, Center) with teens and Youth Group leaders from Holy Martyrs of Vietnam


Lightworks: How Christ Fulfills Ancient Customs

By Luke Poczatek

This past Sunday evening, I was able to attend and serve at our Diocese’s annual Lightworks Mass of Thanksgiving. I had no idea what Lightworks, before attending the Mass, but I knew it consisted mostly of our diocesan Vietnamese and Korean Catholic communities. The Mass was a regular English Mass, with the exception of the responsorial psalm and some of the intercessions said in Vietnamese. Still unsure what Lightworks was, we made it close to the end of Mass when before the final blessing, we all sat to listen to testimonies from some of the Lightworks members. They were all talking about how Lightworks helped them grow in a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ, and really stressed that reading Scripture is one way of praying to God. With the reading of Scripture, they spoke of the practice of Lectio Divina, which is an Ignation method of prayer where one prays with Scripture. One enters into the scenes of the Gospels, or other passages of the Bible, in order to have a unique and beautiful encounter with Christ. Each testimony was powerfully moving, and by each sharing of their experience of prayer, one caught glimpse into their spiritual lives. I saw from them that God is not someone far off and distant, but close and personal.

The next day, I spoke with the Director of the Multicultural Office, Corinne Monogue, about how I was moved by the insight the members of Lightworks had, and how they communicated their relationship with Christ through this type of prayer. Corinne told me that the Lectio Divina method of prayer is positively accepted by these cultures, because it complements well with the ancient methods of Asian meditation, speaking of Confucianism and Buddhism background.  This was awesome to see, and to know how Christ comes to fulfill, here by taking ancient Asian customs and completing them with His blessing and transforming Grace.

Cultural Communities Come Together in the Eucharist

By Luke Poczatek

On Friday, June 22nd, I had the privilege of serving my first Mass for Multicultural Communities, which took place at St. John Neumann Parish in Reston. The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Burbidge, and concelebrated by the Archbishop of Asmara Eritrea, with 25 other concelebrating priests. The Mass was accompanied by a beautiful choir, which consisted of much cultural diversity. It was incredible to see, that while each community brings its own identity to the Mass, all are united in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Following the Mass, was an awesome reception with all the different cultures presenting different foods and items from their community. There were also some entertaining performances from the Tamil Indian community, Hispanic community, and a member of the Native American Penobscot Nation. These performances showed the beauty that each of their cultures uniquely possess. The Mass and reception was also blessed to have a strong presence from the Albanian community, which included the President of Albania’s wife and his daughter, the First Lady. They gave an incredible gift to the Albanian Catholic community of our Diocese: a cross containing ten first class relicts of Albanian martyrs!

Overall, I had a great time getting to meet with many of the different communities, and they graciously welcomed me to their table. I was able to officially meet some of the members from the different cultural parishes, which is a good introduction before I start visiting their parishes individually. All of this is bringing excitement to me as I get more involved in the communities at the Multicultural Office this summer, and I look forward to getting to know the different cultures even more.

 Check out photos from the Mass and reception!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.