Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish

Our vision is to be a vibrant, active, faith-filled community as one, holy, parish family.

Mission: Immaculate Heart of Mary is a Roman Catholic parish family called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, fostering spiritual growth in our worshiping community; encouraging greater participation in living and sharing the Catholic faith through prayer and action; and providing for the benefit of individuals, families, and the larger community.

Operating as usual

Prayer | Download
Perhaps a great and unexpected blessing of this year is that we have been given the opportunity to practice silence so that God can speak.

Wednesday, October 21 (LINK) | Download
In his latest encyclical, Pope Francis has some good reminders for how we are to treat our brothers and sisters:

[10/21/20]   29th WOT Wednesday Reflection: Luke 12:39-48

Most of us today are able to control certain aspects of our calendars and schedules on a daily basis. What none of us knows, however, is the time of the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, we must always be prepared.

Peter is not sure who the Lord is talking about in the parable in today’s Gospel, so he asks Jesus to clarify it for him. Jesus responds with a second parable about the responsibilities of a steward, with specific ramifications for the Apostles and their successors. But really, it applies to all of us: Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.

The saints certainly took those words, and responsibilities, seriously. As a bishop, Saint Augustine said, “I am terrified by what I am for you,” while Saint Ambrose warned priests “that they will suffer severe punishment” if they neglected to govern the Lord’s household properly (Gadenz, The Gospel of Luke, p. 246). We should take them just as seriously, because we also have been given much. We have been given the gift of faith, and of the sacraments. We know Jesus opened the gates of heaven for us through his death and resurrection. But we also know that we must follow his path in order to reach heaven.

Fr. Phil

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Tuesday, October 20 | Download
Today we commemorate St. Paul of the Cross, who spread devotion to Christ's Passion throughout Europe. Watch the video to learn more.

[10/20/20]   29th WOT Tuesday Reflection: Luke 12:35-38

The psychology behind advertising tactics and marketing often takes advantage of a basic human emotion: fear. Fear of not having enough; fear of not being prepared; fear of missing out; fear that this will happen if we do not do that. We are constantly given messages in commercials and printed material that contain instructions to do something so that we may achieve something better, and avoid some kind of failure or shortfall. The modern economy is built, in part, on fear.

In today’s Gospel, then, when Jesus instructs his disciples, Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, he is speaking from this love and not fear. He is not telling them to be preppers, buying and stocking up on supplies while awaiting some distant apocalypse. He is calling on them – and us – to be vigilant in our lives of faith now, striving to make perfect within ourselves that which God has already given us. We do not need to go out and “get” anything; Jesus is reminding us that we already have all we need through him and the Church.

Our charge every day is to clothe ourselves in his love and mercy, and to dispel any darkness in the world with our witness to the Good News. In this way, and with God’s help, we will indeed be well-prepared for the coming of Christ and the fullness of life in the Kingdom to which we are invited.

Fr. Phil

Encouragement | Download
Let's not forget those who are caring for sick friends and family during the pandemic. Lord, bless all our caregivers!

[10/19/20]   29th WOT Monday Reflection: Ephesians 2:1-10

If we live our lives apart from Jesus, we can be controlled by all the negative influences of the world. In his Letter to the Ephesians today, Saint Paul points out that we are powerless to fight the evils of our world without God’s help – without his grace. Fortunately, we have a God, who is rich in mercy. Through him and by grace [we] have been saved through faith. In our baptism, we have been given new life in the risen Christ.

Paul emphasizes that the grace God has given us is not something we have earned, but is a gift from him. It is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are … created in Christ Jesus for good works [emphasis added]. We do not receive grace because we have done something we can boast about; instead we receive the grace of faith so that we may do good works. We do good works that point back to the One who is pure goodness. The Catechism says, “the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God” (CCC 2008). Otherwise, if we think we can work our way into heaven, we fall into the sin of pride.

Together, today’s readings send us a clear message: God is in charge. Our lives are gifts from him. Likewise, his graces are a gift to us. If we desire eternal life in heaven, we can’t do it alone.

Fr. Phil

[10/16/20]   29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Reflection

At the beginning of this Letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, a city in northern Greece (modern-day Macedonia), St Paul uses a very interesting and very important phrase. He praises the Thessalonians for their "endurance in hope." This is not a popular phrase nowadays. And yet, St Paul puts it right up there with the "work of faith" and the "labor of love" as a key characteristic of Christian life.
Thessalonica was the second city in Europe where Paul had a chance to preach the Gospel. His preaching was well-received by many, and a local Christian church was founded there. But after a few weeks, some of the local leaders became so jealous of Paul's success that a violent mob raised a city-wide demonstration against him. Paul's new converts had to sneak him out of the city at night to bring him to safety. After he left, the Christians there continued to suffer persecution and hardship in the face of the old guard who felt threatened by the new religion.
This is why "endurance" was so important for them: they were constantly being tempted to go back to their old ways, the easier and more comfortable ways. We are also constantly facing this temptation. Being a faithful Catholic in a society full of anti-Christian influences demands non-stop effort and vigilance. What will enable us to keep up our effort? The same thing that enabled the Thessalonians to keep up theirs: hope. The Thessalonians firmly trusted in Christ's promise that God himself would always walk beside them, guiding and protecting them on their journey to the abundant and eternal life that only Christ can give. Our great task in life is to endure, to persevere. And we can do that, if we keep our hope healthy.
So what can we do to strengthen our hope? Two things: nourish it and exercise it. We nourish hope by feeding our minds with knowledge about Christ's countless victories. In the Bible, in the history of the Church, in the lives of the saints, and in the current experiences of active Catholics and missionaries around the world, we can find case after case in which God's grace has won a victory over sin, sorrow, suffering, and evil. But we have to decide to pay attention to those things. If we just go with the flow of popular culture, we will be filling our minds with superficial gossip, tragic news that is gruesome, frightening, and spectacular enough to get good ratings on television, or worse.
But it's never enough just to eat right, we also have to exercise. We nourish hope by filling our mind with knowledge of Christ's victories, and we exercise hope by saying yes to God's invitations. God is always inviting us to something. God may be inviting some of those here to follow him as a full-time missionary, priest, religious, or consecrated lay person. God may be inviting others simply to take more time for self-giving, in prayer, service to our neighbors, or both. Whatever invitation he is making, when we say yes, we exercise hope, and therefore strengthen our Christian hope - the key to enduring life's trials joyfully and meaningfully.

Fr. Phil

Sunday, October 18 | Download
In today's Gospel, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus, but the way they describe Him is true. He does not see with the eyes of the world, and He welcomes everyone into His presence.

Saturday, October 17 | Download
In tomorrow's Psalm, we are encouraged to spread the glory of God far and wide. We'd love to hear how He has shown His glory in your life.

Friday, October 16 | Download
It's a great day to feed the hungry! Especially in light of COVID-19, there is great food insecurity in the United States and around the world. You can donate to New Hope Ministries.

[10/16/20]   28th WOT Friday Reflection: Ephesians 1:11-14; Luke 12:1-7

But Jesus today also tells the gathered crowd, and he tells you and me: Do not be afraid.
Jesus indeed knows everything there is to know about us. He knows our faults and failures, yes, but he knows them as one who loves us. The hairs of our heads have been counted not so that every fault might be wrung out of them, but because Jesus wants to know and to love the real us – not any whitewashed image, but the reality of our whole selves.

Saint Paul writes in the Letter to the Ephesians that, in Christ we were also chosen … so that we might exist for the praise of his glory. Christ does not come to condemn, but to save. This does not, then, promise us an easy life, but it does promise a good life. Today let us pray that we be given confidence in Jesus’ unending love for us, and so not be afraid to let him see us – faults, failures and all. Instead, we entrust our whole selves to him.

Fr. Phil

[10/15/20]   28th WOT Thursday Reflection: Ephesians 1:1-10; Luke 11:47-54

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, Paul writes. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ. Paul, persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, and beaten/imprisoned some more, never ceased giving thanks for, and praising the gracious mercy and faithfulness of God. And here he is showing us, during times today that can seem scary, uncertain, and unjust, that our first words ought to be “bless God.”

It is also a great reminder of our adoption in Christ – to take comfort during this earthly turmoil in knowing that while we were given this world, we are made for another. Saint Augustine says, “The true Christians are those who understand that on earth they will always be aliens. Our native land is above in God’s heaven” (Sermon 111, 4). That God has made us his adopted sons and daughters through Christ is a consolation beyond any other. Many did not believe it at the time of Christ – Jesus in today’s Gospel accuses those who surround him of being guilty of killing all the prophets who had come before him. And he knows they will kill him. Many still do not believe it today. But we do believe.

Fr. Phil

[10/14/20]   28th WOT Wednesday Reflection: Luke 11:42-46

The Pharisees and law scholars in today’s Gospel are trying to make themselves righteous by outward observance of the Jewish law. In doing so, they forget the heart of the law: love of God. Their interior lives grow cold, they become obsessed with human respect and power, and their influence leads others astray. That false righteousness is, in part, what Jesus has come to clear away.

Jesus came to give us a whole new kind of life – the life in the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul explains that we now have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and giving us his direct guidance. Whenever we act on that silent push to do an act of kindness or resist temptation, whenever we get a sense of God’s presence and allow ourselves to be still and listen to him, we’re following the Spirit. And we’re then free from both the law and the desires of the flesh.

The Holy Spirit wants to transform everything about us: our mindset, our desires, our attitude, and emotions. The fruits of the Spirit aren’t rules, they’re the dispositions of a heart like Christ’s, one that surrenders everything to the Father and receives everything in return. The more we let him work in us, the less we want to sin; it becomes easier to be generous and charitable because our hearts are overflowing with the love we’ve been craving our whole lives.

Fr. Phil

We jest - Jesus is not a Dominican, commonly abbreviated OP. OP stands for "Ordo Praedicatorum," or "Order of Preachers."

[10/13/20]   28th WOT Tuesday Reflection: Luke 11:37-41

A faith that works through love is clearly not what the Pharisee in the Gospel practices. In the midst of providing hospitality to Jesus, the Pharisee is amazed to see that Jesus does not observe the ritual washing before a meal. Jesus calls him out for the hypocrisy of the situation, being more preoccupied with appearances than what is really within them. They have not yet realized the freedom that Christ will win for them, should they choose to believe in it. Their faith is focused on law, not love.

God’s incredible mercy is found in the person of Jesus Christ, who – in fulfilling the law – has freed us from it. In love, he has given us a way to be purified, both inside and out, through faith and forgiveness. So while the secular proverb exhorts us not to throw stones, our merciful Father reminds us that should we fail and fall into that judgmental trap, we can repent, and be made clean.

Fr. Phil

Monday, October 12 (LINK) | Download
If you'd like to learn more about the redemptive power of suffering, check out this video from the Knights of Columbus:

[10/12/20]   28th WOT Monday Reflections: Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1; Luke 11:29-32

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the crowd: This generation is an evil generation. This is because, unlike the Ninevites who repented immediately upon hearing Jonah’s preaching, the crowd around Jesus fails to heed any of his words of repentance.

We could ask ourselves, “Are we more like the Ninevites, or like the crowd around Jesus?” We could ask ourselves the question, but it’s the wrong question. The real question is not “Who are we in these stories?” but “Who are we by the grace of God?” Paul’s encouraging exhortation to the Galatians give us the answer: Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother. We are her children, Paul says, and for freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Truly, we are neither the Ninevites nor the crowd around Jesus. We are members of Christ’s body, and we recognize Christ as the head. We acknowledge his presence in the Word and Eucharist, and in faith we are transformed as witnesses to the truth.

That witness ought to translate into seeing God’s presence out in the world, too. As we drive in traffic, work, go to the grocery store, get dinner ready, do the laundry – in all these daily activities and more, God is present. What we do here, in this sacred place, should shape the way we see the world, and help us see the way God’s grace continues to reveal his kingdom. For there is definitely something greater than Jonah here.

Fr. Phil

[10/09/20]   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

By refusing the king's invitation, the invited guests fell into the sin at the root of all our sins: ingratitude. The invited guests were so busy enjoying the peace and prosperity that the king's well-run kingdom provided, that they forget to honor the king himself. As a result, they also cut themselves off from the King and the peace and prosperity that he was so generously providing.
But there is also a second level to their ingratitude. In ancient times, you didn't send out just one wedding invitation, you sent out two. The first was a general announcement of the good news, but it didn't specify the date of the celebration. Then later, when all the preparations were made, the second invitation would go out, giving the specific day and place for the banquet. The guests who refused to come to the wedding were actually rejecting this second invitation. That means that they had already accepted the first invitation. Therefore, they are not only insulting the king by refusing to come, but they are also going back on their own word. The parable applies in a special way to the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ, who had accepted God's Old Testament promises, but were now rejecting their fulfillment by rejecting Christ. It also applies to us who are baptized and grow up in the faith, but then later on in life, when Jesus asks us to put their faith into action, we refuse to take the risk.
In both cases, what stands out is the mystery of human freedom. God respects our freedom; instead of forcing us to do his will, he invites us. God showers his gifts upon us, and yet when the time comes to show our gratitude, we so often prefer to honor the gifts more than the giver.
The English painter William Hunt captured this in a famous painting called The Light of the World. He painted it in 1852, as an expression of his personal conversion to Christ. It shows the large wooden door of a country cottage, which is located on the edge of a forest, far away from other houses or towns. Around the door weeds have grown up, and the landscape looks abandoned, uncultivated, and hostile. It is nighttime. In the darkness, the full moon forms a halo around the head of Christ, who is standing in front of the door. He holds a lantern in his left hand, and with his right hand he is knocking on the door. In this painting, the cottage symbolizes the soul, the door is human freedom, and Christ is the light that brings hope and meaning to the darkness within. In the painting there is no doorknob or handle can be seen on the outside of the door. This implies that the door can only be opened from within. Christ is knocking on the outside, patiently waiting to bring his light into the house, but only those on the inside can let him in. God surrounds us with his good gifts and his love, but he will never force his way into our hearts: he simply knocks, invites, and waits patiently for us to open the door.
Ingratitude is the substance of every sin, and sin separates us from God, - it keeps us from accepting God's invitations. And so, a healthy sense of gratitude is one of the best ways to combat sin and stay close to the Lord. Today's parable shows us exactly how to grow this rare and powerful virtue of gratitude: by letting him change our plans. If the invited guests in the parable had truly respected their king, they would have adjusted their plans for his sake. God asks us to change our plans in many ways.
Like when it becomes risky to act like true Christians in a non-Christian world. To stand up for the rights of the unborn, for example, is not always the popular or easy thing to do. To remain committed to the commitments we make in life. This week, God will ask each of us to change our plans for the sake of his Kingdom - maybe in something big, maybe in something small. As we accept God’s invitations, we will be empowered to what Mary told the servants, “Do whatever He tells you”.

Fr. Phil

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