215 Dynamic Youth Ready to Serve

Dear Parishioners,

Last weekend on Pentecost Sunday, our parish witnessed the largest confirmation group ever -215 in all! Our dynamic youth are now ready to serve in various ministries and we need to make room for them to serve. Comprehensive Youth Ministry means that our youth serve in all ministries in their journey of growth in Christ.

My dear young people, I want first of all to congratulate you once again and let you know how much I appreciate you all. The Confirmations went so smoothly because of you all. We now look forward to the follow up journey of faith. The experience of Pentecost energized you and transformed you into powerful instruments of witness in sharing the story of your journey of faith with other young people out there on the school campus, in the neighborhood in the locker room and in the work place. You have been equipped with a desire to serve in our parish ministries. Soon we will offer you the full list of our parish ministries so you can personally discern what you would be interested in doing. The first thing I would like you to realize is that God loves you as you are. God never judges anyone but intends ongoing transformation in all of us. I look forward to meeting you again on May 27 after the 6 pm Mass in the church.

Dear parents, grandparents and godparents, I want to thank you for handing on your faith to your children, the young women and men who were just confirmed and received Holy Communion, the “source and summit” of church life. Your family ministry as parents and your time to accompany your children on the journey of formation is part of that handing on of the faith. This does not end with the reception of the Sacraments but continues through the entire life of our children even when they turn into adults.

May God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you always.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

 As Catholics, we believe that one is sealed with the Holy Spirit at Confirmation, thereby receiving the Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. We also believe that at Baptism we receive these seven gifts and that at Confirmation we are strengthened so that we can proclaim the truths of the faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches: "The reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace."[88] For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed." (CCC#1285)

The seven gifts are based on the prophecy of Isaiah who describes the characteristics of the Messiah which means the anointed one. In chapter 11:2-3, we read: “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom (1) and of understanding (2) A spirit of counsel (3) and of strength (4) a spirit of knowledge (5) piety (6) and of fear of the LORD (7) and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.  Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide." 

 

At Baptism, these qualities of the Anointed One (Jesus Christ) are imparted on us and sealed strengthened by Confirmation, so that led by the Holy Spirit we may give authentic witness to the truth about Jesus Christ. Let us pray that our children may be strengthened by the Sacraments they receive on this Pentecost Sunday.

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

Congratulations to all our Candidates!

Over the last two years, our parish RE staff and volunteers have been preparing our students for the Sacrament of First Reconciliation and the Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and First Holy Communion). Over the weekend of Pentecost, May 19/20, a total of 215 students will be confirmed. Among these, 50 will be receiving their First Holy Communion.

On Saturday, May 19, Msgr. John will preside the 5 PM Mass at which 50 students will receive, Confirmation and Eucharist (FRCE).  Then on Sunday, May 20, Fr. Joseph will preside the 9 AM Mass at which 65 students will receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Holy Eucharist (grades 3-5). The largest group of students this year is the Life Teen & Edge. A total of 100 will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Sunday, 11 AM Mass, presided by Msgr. John.  

Parking as well as seating inside the church will be very limited. If you have children receiving the Sacraments next weekend, consider arriving early to find parking space. If you normally attend the 5pm, 9am or the 11am Masses and do not have a child receiving the Sacraments next weekend, consider attending the 7am or 6pm Masses.  

I take the opportunity to offer my congratulations to all candidates for the Sacraments of Initiation according to the Original Order that we implement for the first time this year.  A big mahalo to all parents, grandparents and godparents for your support during this journey of preparation for your children. According to the Original Order process, the journey does not end with the reception of these Sacraments but continues all our life. This is a moment to encourage your children to assume some ministry in the parish. 

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

What will Happen on Pentecost Weekend?

On Pentecost weekend, St. Apostle & Evangelist parish along with several other parishes in the Diocese of Honolulu will implement the Original Order of the Sacraments of Initiation. The Religious Education Department under the leadership of its Director of Religious Education (DRE), staff. volunteer team, aides have been working forming our children and youth along with their parents and godparents in preparation for this implementation. We still have a few more sessions before May 19/20:

 vMay 9, Practice for First Reconciliation, Confirmation &   Eucharist (FRCE), 6-8pm.

vMay 12, EDGE and Life Teen Students & Sponsors, 9am-12pm.

vMay 16, FRCE Students & Sponsors, 6-8pm.

vMay 19, 5pm Mass: FRCE Students will receive Sacraments of Confirmation & First Holy Communion. Msgr. John will preside.

vMay 20, 9am Mass: Students in grades 3-5 will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Students & Sponsors report by 8am. Picture taking begins at 8:15am.   Fr. Joseph will preside.

 vMay 20, 11am Mass: EDGE & Life Teen Students will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Students & Sponsors report by 10am. Picture taking begins at 10:15am.  Msgr. John will preside.

Parking on our campus is limited. Therefore try, to arrive early to ensure you have parking. If you cannot find parking here, try the shopping center.

I take the opportunity to thank all parents and sponsors for journeying with your children. Please remember that the journey continues after confirmation with mystagogy sessions, which will present post-confirmation catechesis and help entry into parish ministry. These sessions I encourage all candidates, their parents and sponsors to consider joining a ministry to serve your parish.

 

 Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Original Order: Background History

As the Solemnity of Pentecost approaches (May 19/20), all parishioners need to be aware of the Original Order being implemented by the Diocese of Honolulu on that weekend. This article briefly outlines the background history of the Restored Order of the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

 

In the early Church the sacraments of initiation were three: Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist. They were celebrated together in a single rite, with a bishop as presider. This was the practice of the Roman Rite up until the 5th or 6th century when bishops could no longer be present at all baptisms, leading to a time of separation between baptism and confirmation. At first the time of separation was short, but as time went on, the delay for the bishop to arrive grew. Still the Church celebrated the sacraments in the order of Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist until this century.

 

In 1910 Pope Pius X ordered that children be allowed to come to the table of the Eucharist as soon as they could distinguish the Eucharist from ordinary bread. The age was then lowered to around seven. Confirmation then came after First Eucharist. The reforms of Vatican Council II called the Church to restore the original order of sacraments. This is not without challenge and difficulties. Such a change presumes a deep commitment on the part of the family to nurture the life of the young. Such a commitment means that parents have a need to understand the reasons for change & the ways in which they can help their children.

 

The main reason for restoring the order of the sacraments (i.e. putting Confirmation before First Holy Communion) is to emphasize that Eucharist (Communion) is THE sacrament, which celebrates our FULL membership in the Body of Christ. Receiving Confirmation at the same Mass where the First Holy Communion is also received, makes clear that the order of the Sacraments is: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion, the sacrament of ongoing growth and unity. Holy Communion therefore nourishes us for ministry. After Pentecost, there will be post-confirmation catechesis or mystagogy to accompany the newly confirmed.    

 

So stay tuned.

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Good Shepherd Sunday: Vocations Sunday

 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday because on this Sunday we hear the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus tell us that he is the Good Shepherd. Jesus as our Good Shepherd cares for us, nourishes us and keeps us in good spiritual health. He has appointed bishops and priests to serve on his behalf as shepherds. For that reason, on this Sunday the whole Church prays for good vocations. Here in the Diocese of Honolulu we certainly need more priests.

 

Two weeks ago, I was speaking to our young confirmation students and one of them asked me how I realize I had a vocation to be a priest. Vocation to the priesthood can begin with an attraction to serve God following the example of good priests. That was my starting point. I saw the kindness of the Irish priest who was the principal of my school as well as the pastor who was so caring. The priests did not ask me if I wanted to become a priest. I came to that conclusion myself perhaps with God’s Grace. Other times the seed of vocation can be planted by parents in their children. Priests too can plant that seed in young men and help them to discern as they grow.

 

Here at St. John’s we say the Diocesan Prayer for vocations at the end of Mass during weekdays. This prayer is our continuous response to Jesus who asks us to “Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to the vineyard.” Parents can respond to this prayer by encouraging their sons to think of being priests in the future. Thanks to those parents who are already open to encourage their sons to think of vocation to the priesthood even in their young years. May God bless such parents. May He bless parents of priests, seminarians and future seminarian more particularly for their sacrifice so that their sons may be good shepherds of Christ’s flock.

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Mystery of the Resurrection

Christ is Risen! Indeed, he is risen! This ancient greeting is still used today among Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians. During the season of Easter and indeed every Sunday and every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we recall the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the center-piece of our Christian faith. But what does the resurrection mean to us?

In the first place it is a mystery that we cannot understand. In the Gospel passage of this Sunday, the disciples are in a closed room when the Risen Lord simply shows up in their midst. They are startled and terrified. You and I would have reacted in the same way. How is it possible that the same Jesus who was crucified, died and now is right there in their presence. “Peace be with you.” He said to them. He then challenged their misbelief, but also helped them to gradually understand that they were not seeing a ghost as they imagined. What Jesus says to the disciples is very down to earth. “Touch me and see me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones.” “Have you anything here to eat?” He wants the disciples to make use of all their bodily senses of touch and seeing. He asks them to see the wounds on his hands, his feet and on his side, in order to realize that he is indeed the same one who died on the Cross, but now alive. Perhaps what convinces the disciples even more is the fact that he asks for some food and eats right in their presence and then proceed to open their minds to the scriptures for them to understand that all what has happened to him had already been foretold in the scriptures.

We accept and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ not only on the grounds of eye witnesses, his disciples, but also by our own faith, which is a gift from God. During the rest of the Easter season, we live as people of the resurrection, knowing that Christ’s victory over death and the power of evil is also our victory.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda 

What is Divine Mercy?

The Second Sunday of Easter has been designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. What do we understand by Divine Mercy? From the diary of Saint Faustina, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. That message was nothing new, but a reminder of what the Church had always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving. Consequently, we too must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone, especially the greatest sinners.

The message of mercy is that God loves us, all of us, no matter how great our sins when we repent. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. The message of Divine Mercy is threefold: 1) Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world. 2) Be merciful. God wants us to receive His merciful forgiveness and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us. 3) Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive God’s mercy. In brief, God’s name is Mercy! God’s mercy is greater than the total sum of our sins.

Divine Mercy devotion here at St. John’s will be Sunday, April 8 beginning at 3 PM with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Come and join us.

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday are interwoven because what we celebrate this morning is the mystery proclaimed at the Easter Vigil. It is important therefore to see the two moments as continuous. Easter Vigil recalls and re-enacts the mystery of God's salvation for us in the resurrection of Christ. Easter Sunday not only focuses our attention on recalling the resurrection of Jesus and its impact on the first disciples, but also on the meaning of this event for our own lives and for our faith. On this day, we joyfully proclaim and witness our faith in the Risen Lord among us.

Proclamation and witness are the two central themes running through Easter Sunday readings. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter speaks about his own experience and shares that experience with the listening crowds. Because of his experience of knowing with utter conviction that Jesus is alive, Peter is so filled with the joy of it, that he simply must share that joy with others.

Similarly, the experience of the resurrection by Paul leads him to advice that we keep focused on the risen Christ, since Christ is our life. For Paul, we know that his experience of the Risen Lord brought a total revolution in his life and gave him a total new vision of things and especially of the meaning of Jesus' life and message.

In the Gospel, we have the experience of the empty tomb as a sign that Jesus is risen, He is not there. This first day of the week is full of emotions and commotion. The discovery of the empty tomb by Mary of Magdala leads to her running back to tell Peter and John that the Lord's body is not in the tomb. That experience was the compelling evidence that Christ is indeed risen as he had said. John the apostle as eye witness and writer of the Gospel, tells us that he entered into the empty tomb, “he saw and he believed” that the Lord is risen indeed. That very evening, the Risen Lord confirms their faith in appearing to the gathered disciples. That appearance experience strengthened the faith of the disciples and completely transformed their lives. The message we take home on this Easter day is that we too like the disciples be moved to proclaim the resurrection of Christ in our lives to others without fear. Christ is risen, Alleluia!

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda

Making Sense of the Holy Triduum

In the bulletin of last Sunday, we outlined the coming celebrations of the Holy Triduum also known as the Sacred Triduum. Basically, the Sacred Triduum is one continuous festival commemorating the last three days of Jesus’ life on earth, the events of his Passion and Resurrection, when the Lamb of God laid down his life in atonement for our sins.

It is called the "Paschal Mystery" because it is the ultimate fulfillment of the ancient Jewish Passover (or Pasch), which was a memorial of how God brought the Jews out of their slavery in Egypt.  The spotless lamb of slaughtered at the Passover meal and consumed, and that night the destroying angel "passed over" the homes marked with the blood of the Passover Lamb, and the people in those houses marked with the Blood were saved.  This was the Old Testament prefiguring of Jesus' work at the Last Supper- where he inserted himself as the Paschal Lamb- and Calvary, where he offered himself in sacrifice to save us from our slavery to sin.  

The Paschal Mystery is, therefore, God’s plan of redemption for the fallen human race through the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following on the Sacred Triduum:

“Therefore, Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the ‘Feast of feasts’, the ‘Solemnity of solemnities, just as the Eucharist is the ‘Sacrament of sacraments’. St. Athanasius calls Easter ‘the Great Sunday’ and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week ‘the Great Week’. The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.” (CCC #1168, 1169).

Once again, I appeal to all parishioners to participate in this unique event. The entire Paschal Mystery makes more sense when one participates in all three celebrations. Please remember that our parish church seating capacity is limited during these celebrations even with a tent outside. Come early. Invite your friends especially those who do not come to Sunday Mass regularly, as well as Christians and those of no church at all. Have a Blessed Holy Triduum!

 

Monsignor John S. Mbinda