July 1, 2023
Let Freedom Ring - the Frassati Way
By: Andrew Kelinsky
July 4 is not only Independence Day. It is also the memorial of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a great model for young people everywhere.
Frassati was born into an agnostic family with an artist-mother and a politician-father. Frassati grew up wealthy. Frassati was known for his intellect, practical jokes – a.k.a. the “Terror” – and devotion. Growing up, he would sneak out in the middle of the night to go to mass only to return before his family would wake him for school. He would attend social gatherings and make bets with his friends at pool halls offering money against time in prayer. An avid mountaineer, he would fake injuries to walk with the person most struggling to navigate the terrain or carry others’ packs. When the group reached a resting point, he would suggest praying.
Eventually, he was sent to study with the Jesuits and became a 3rd order Dominican. Frassati dedicated himself to social action to combat inequality. At the age of 16, Frassati’s father offered him a car or a fund. He chose a fund, which he used to feed the poor. Later, arrested in Rome, Frasatti was protesting fascism and, specifically, the regime of Mussolini. “Charity is not enough; we need social reform.” These words rang true as the streets were lined during his funeral by homeless, needy men and women touched by Frassati’s generosity after a tragic, early death due to disease.
However, words from Blessed Pier Giorgio from “TO THE MEMBERS OF ‘CATHOLIC YOUTH’ OF POLLONE” on July 29, 1923 struck me most. “But if every one of you were to possess these gifts to the highest degree, and did not have the spirit of sacrifice in abundance, you would not be a good Catholic. We must sacrifice everything for everything: our ambitions, indeed our entire selves, for the cause of the Faith.” In short: How far am I willing to go to encounter Jesus?
I find this question is answered daily. Am I fasting? Am I saying a daily Rosary? Am I going to daily mass and spending time in adoration? If not, why not? Am I struggling with sloth? Do I need to give up time at the gym or social time? Do I need to re-arrange my work schedule? Worse, am I addicted to technology? When was the last time I went to confession?
Let us remember and meditate on the words of Jesus himself, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Only once our minds, eyes, and hearts are intently, solely, obsessively fixed on Christ can we possibly dare to say with Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati “Verso l’Alto!”
June 1, 2023
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
By: Jerome Resurreccion
Hey Newman friends! Happy Summer!
June is the month we celebrate and honor the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, so this month I wanted to share my thoughts on the private revelations of Jesus to St. Margaret Alacoque and St. Faustina Kowalska where he reveals the secrets of his human and divine heart.
When we think of God, we may think of a creator that does not need us and is cold and far away, watching from a distance… this is far from the truth. The Catholic Church teaches that God is not far or distant, but united to all of humanity and creation in a unique and special way as revealed in the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. In an even deeper way, God has revealed his Heart to humanity through His Son. As Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. However, because humanity continues to forget God’s heart for us, Jesus continues remind us through messages and appearances to His Saints, mystics, and prophets.
In 1670’s France, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary, a French nun, and shared with her a series of mystical visions and experiences regarding his deep and burning love for humanity that flow directly from His Heart. Jesus showed St. Margret Mary that humanity was not receiving his love and instead turning away from it with indifference and coldness. Jesus spoke with St. Margret Mary about humanity’s indifference saying, “This is more grievous to Me than all that I endured in my Passion. If they would only give Me some return of love…I would not count the cost of what I have done for them, but I would do even more if possible.”
In 1930’s Poland, Jesus appeared to St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, and shared with her a similar series of mystical visions and experiences that continued to describe the pains and suffering of his heart for us. At one point Jesus shared to St. Faustina, “Others distrust My goodness and have no desire to experience that sweet intimacy in their own hearts, but go in search of Me, off in the distance, and do not find Me. This distrust of My goodness hurts Me very much. If My death has not convinced you of My love, what will?” (Diary, 580).
From these mystical encounters and messages of these two nuns was born the devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Divine Mercy. These devotions consist of consoling the Heart of Jesus by trusting in His Love and recognizing the deep longing God has for each and every one of us in a unique and special way. There will never be another you and God’s love for you will need all of eternity to express itself.
As part of this month’s honoring and celebrating the Heart and Love of Jesus for us, let us think about how much we long for God to answer the deep desires and pains of our own hearts, yet never consider the deep desires and suffering of his own heart? Let us take time this month to meditate and seek God’s heart and its deepest desires, so that we can pray to fulfill them and console Him.
December 1, 2022
Advent, Week 2
By: Jerome Resurreccion
During this advent and Christmas season, “silence” is probably the last thing that is on your mind. With all the noise from Christmas shopping, family gatherings, and mental to do lists, it can be hard to notice the silence within our soul.
Each and every one of us has a silence within us… a silence that is longing for God. Yet, we are not always aware of this silence. It is the deepest part of us that is hungry and thirsty, waiting for Christ. At times we run from this silence because it brings us before our misery and brokenness. We hide from it by doing a great many things to avoid the uncomfortable parts of ourselves and reality. At other times we run from this silence because we are too busy chasing what is in front of us, trying to build our kingdom instead of God’s. Let us be still. Christ says, “…the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). To seek God is to first be still, to be silent, and then to be honest before God. During advent, are we becoming more aware of the silence within us?
Jesus tells Saint Faustina, “Strive for a life of recollection so that you can hear My voice, which is so soft that only recollected souls can hear it.”
Recollection means an inner silence while resting on His love and presence by faith. During this advent season, Jesus is asking us all to rest in His presence and pay attention. Here he asks us to listen to his still small voice. In the midst of all the noise in the world, during advent turn your attention to the child conceived in the silence of Mary’s womb, within the silence of your heart. Listen to the child called Emmanuel which means “God is with us.”
May 1, 2023
Hail Mary, Star of the Sea
By: Dcn. Michael DiPietro
One of my favorite titles of Mary our Mother is Maris Stella, “The Star of the Sea.” The first time I encountered the title was the sophomore year of college, when I read about her at the end of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi, “Saved in Hope.”
Like St. John Paul II his predecessor, Pope Benedict would end his encyclicals with an appeal to our Mother, to serve as an example of the encyclical’s theme. Mary is our emblem of hope. And hope is the virtue which overcomes the vice of despair, that endemic condition of misery, sadness, and jaded apathy so characteristic of our culture today. In the ruins of this culture, hope stands in the breach between despair, the refusal of even the possibility of forgiveness, and presumption, the belief in a cheap grace where forgiveness is automatically assumed. Rather, in an attitude of trust, hope guides man through the travails of fear and uncertainties in life.
As Pope Benedict writes: “Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route.” (Pope Benedict’s Spe Salvi n. 49). And Mary is the star above all stars to guide us through life’s journey.
In Mary, we find first a model of hope because of her most constant trust in the Lord. She is also our source of hope, in keeping us tethered to her just and merciful Son. And finally she is our guide in hope. As the northern star shines through the night and would prove the trustworthy guide for the mariner at sea, Mary is our light in the darkness of this vale of tears. The splendor of the sun and its reflection in the moon illuminates the world, yes, but the Star of the Ocean guides us on our way. So too Mary, the lesser light, helps us to approach the true Light of the World. Even amidst the storms of the sea, when all light is obscured, it is nonetheless true for the mariner that a mere glimpse of this star can set one’s course aright. And this is Mary’s pleasure, to shine through the darkness of our misery and point us in the direction through the journey of this life to the safe harbor on the other shore.
With confidence in her who shines brighter than all creatures, we can join in the prayer of Pope Benedict: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way!” (Pope Benedict’s Spe Salvi n. 50).
November 1, 2022
Reflection from Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, Associate Chaplain
By: Fr. Nicholas Sheehy
Pasadena and Persevering Prayer
St. Paul exhorts us to pray always. But how is that even possible? What he actually says is “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Th. 5:16-18)
What does it even look like to pray always? They tell a story about St. John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. When still working on the family farm, he was already a devout young man. He had a statue of Mary that he would throw ahead on the row he was working. Then, he would work quickly to arrive to the statue and say a prayer. It was a way for him to pray continually. For us in Pasadena, I think stoplights give us a similar opportunity.
How do you use stoplights?
Driving around Pasadena the past few months, I have been fascinated by the phenomenon of the stoplight. The yellow light seems longer than in other areas of the country. And it is certainly treated as an extension of the green light. I have been surprised by how many people follow a yellow light into a red in order to make a left-hand turn. Maybe this comes from frustration of driving through city traffic. What I have seen encourages me to look both ways before taking off when the light turns green. I have no desire to enter into a collision with a driver who takes the yellow a bit liberally.
How do you use stoplights? Whenever we go out driving, we spend a good amount of time at stoplights. Waiting on red… Do you ever reflect on your existence? As you wait for the red light to turn green, you become aware about how external, arbitrary forces decide what you do during a significant portion of your life. Resistance seems futile, as to buck the system would be to risk your own life. It hardly seems worth it.
Do you get upset at stoplights?
Maybe, there should be a greater effort to coordinate the stoplights. I am always curious about how if I am going straight and following the speed limit, why I am stopped at nearly every traffic signal. What is the point? Would synchronizing the traffic lights not be a great way of motivating people to travel the proper speed? It would save on brakes and reduce driving frustration.
Can you pray at stoplights?
There are different types of prayer for different circumstances in life. If you are driving the car, don’t close your eyes, obviously. It may not have the same depth and recollection of a thanksgiving time after communion, but it can be a quick time to lift your mind up to God. Taking advantage of the stoplights, you can integrate a spirit of continual prayer in your daily commute.
What do you think about at stoplights?
What if we used that time at the stoplight to think about God? If we raised up our minds and hearts to God during that time, we would be much more aware of God’s presence in our lives. It might also give us a reason for enjoying the stoplights, or at least stem the frustration. “3…2…1… I am thankful for…” The stoplight would become a constant reminder to lift our minds up to God and thank him for his gifts. How different might the commute be if instead of focusing on delays and frustrations, we could focus on the gift of being alive and mobile.
St. Paul tells us to pray always. Beyond our morning prayer and time of adoration, quick prayers at stoplights just might get us the rest of the way. Pray always and drive safe.
October 1, 2022
Reflection from Nicole Tobin
By: Nicole Tobin
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1
Dear NCP Friends & Family,
It has been a labor of love to start and build this Newman Center with you here at St. Philip the Apostle. I have enjoyed every moment of dreaming with God in hope of what this place could be for the students of surrounding colleges, as well as for the Young Adults in our region. My heart was full of expectant hope as we opened our doors in February with the support and blessing of our Archbishop Jose Gomez. I have loved seeing the space being utilized with students and young adults, who come through these doors and are able to feel at home here, filling it up with life and faith. And now, it comes time for me to step down and serve the Lord in another way, as Director of Encounter Ministries Los Angeles Campus here at St. Philip’s as well as spend more time with my two small children, Noah & Ava. I still plan on being a friendly face, and hopefully will get the chance to lead some bible studies and do some spiritual accompaniment at the Newman Center - so you will definitely be seeing me around. I will also be chairing the Newman Board with a group of people who are passionately championing the mission of what God is doing here.
I’m so excited that we have a brand new Campus Ministry team this year, led by Krista Corbello, who are dedicated and committed to serving you and bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all those whom they encounter. Make sure to look out for our next Newman Center update where they will be introducing themselves to you. Or better yet, stop by during our drop in hours, or come to one of our events to meet them yourself!
My friends, this is just the beginning of something so beautiful that the Lord has in store for all of you - for this place to truly be a sanctuary for all of you to come and experience true Christian community, and to become your Catholic home. My prayer for each of you is that you continue to make the Lord Jesus Christ the center of your lives, that you devote your hearts to Him in prayer, and that the Holy Spirit fills you and makes you a light to this world! I pray that Blessed Mother is always with you along with all the angels and Saints, interceding for you in all your needs, that the Sacraments be a continued source of nourishment for you, and that you fall deeply in love with Scripture, as it truly is the powerful, life-changing & transformative Word of God!
It has been a joy to see what God has started, He is so faithful, so I know that this is only the beginning of great harvest that is yet to come.
In His Peace and Unfailing Love,
“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” - Phil 1:6
September 1, 2022
Reflection from a Student, Alejandro R.
By: Alejandro R.
For those that I did not have the pleasure of meeting this summer, I’m Alejandro, a senior undergraduate aerospace engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin! I had the immense privilege to live in the Los Angeles area for ten weeks as I interned at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During that time, I made my home at Newman Pasadena.
In a lot of ways, the world has gotten bigger for me the past couple months. Throughout my travels and time in California I have found it such an important thing to just sit and witness. Some people know the phrase about being too busy: “we are human beings, not human doings.” We shouldn’t be worried all the time about outputting and producing, as school and jobs often would like us to do. But I think our time just “being” shouldn’t mean to just lay around and do nothing as we rest – we can still approach “being” with a more active role. We should not just “be,” but instead we should “witness."
Our Lord has given us many ways to sense the world around us, we mustn’t let it go to waste. We must strive to witness all the truth, beauty, and goodness in the world and in those who inhabit it. What is the use of outputting and producing so much when we never are inputting and receiving all the creation around us? My friends, I have found so much joy these past couple months in hearing the laugher of Honduran children learning to play Duck Duck Goose, in feeling the searing 115 degree heat of the Nevada sun on my skin, in wafting the salty air of the Pacific North West, and tasting the same taste of Little Caesar’s pizza at the Newman Center as which always comforted me back home in Houston. It is such a gift from above to be able to sense the world around us, and I think it’s a gift that we use too little. We must remember to not just exist in the world, but to witness it! Even just one sense has so much beauty to receive. I think a life would be well spent if it was full of simply appreciating His beautiful work.
And then too add the ability to witness all of our beautiful Church! My travels have allowed me to celebrate mass in full buildings with the young adults of Pasadena and the “lolas” in Seattle, but too in the smallest and most distant places with the children in Honduras and the residents of Sheffield. Our faith is truly Catholic, or universal. It is a wide faith. Witnessing both the physical body of Christ as the Eucharist and the mystical body of Christ as all these baptized Catholics everywhere really just sat me down. And sitting down, I was able to see and appreciate Him better and shed a happy tear because His presence and fingerprints are everywhere. Despite the hustle and bustle of all the traveling, I’ve been able to witness Him, His beautiful works, and His beautiful people, and that has made all the difference.
Thank you for being part of my journey this summer! Y’all have a special place in my Heart and in His Heart too.
Alejandro. D. Rincón
August 1, 2022
Reflection from a Parishioner & Graduate Student, Maria C.
By: Maria C.
Hello friends, my name is Maria Camarca and I am a parishioner at St. Philips. Currently, I am in my third year of graduate school at Caltech, where I am studying planetary science.
You may have seen in the news recently that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) released its first images to the public. Launched this past Christmas Day on December 25, 2021, the JWST was sent into space to serve, in a sense, as the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Over the course of its mission, the Hubble has shaped our imagination and understanding of the cosmos with landmark images such as the Pillars of Creation and the Bubble nebula. Now with better mirrors and more sensitive instruments to capture light from distant celestial objects, the JWST is ushering in an exciting and new era of astronomy, and the new images from the release bear no lack of beauty or grandiosity.
Out of the first JWST images, my favorite is the Carina Nebula. The picture showcases enormous dust and gas clouds decorated with starlight. Sometimes when I look at images like the Carina nebula (even the name of this object has a lyrical quality to it), I am reminded of the passage from Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
It’s a common theme when connecting astronomy and faith to reflect on how the beauty of the cosmos reflects the Divine grandness and the beauty of our Savior. Often, we feel that images like this remind us how small a space we occupy in the universe.
To go beyond those common reflections, I encourage us to look at these images and be reminded of the gift of life and the gift of the mind that God has given us. As beautiful and colorful as all the stars are and as powerful and complex as all the physical processes are that sculpted the stars are, not a single atom of these celestial landscapes are aware of themselves. The Carina Nebula knows not the number of stars in its possession nor the way its dust and gas is swept away by outflows, yet the human mind is equipped with the faculties to know these truths about this wonderful nebula and the human heart is uniquely disposed to enjoy its beauty. From Genesis we know that the world was good even before human rationality could perceive it, so we ought to remember that even the parts of the universe that will forever remain inaccessible to the human eye or any telescope we can construct is still good and beautiful because God made it. The fact there is currently beauty in our universe in excess of what the human intellect is able to detect gives us the slightest taste of what Heaven might be like, namely a place where beauty in excess of what the human heart and mind can even hope to fully contemplate abounds.
July 1, 2022
Reflection from Krista Corbello
By: Krista Corbello
As the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus comes to a close, I pray that the Lord blesses you with His infinite mercy and compassion!
A week ago, I was in Philadelphia when I found out about the Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe. On Monday, I went to Washington, D.C. to share my story in front of SCOTUS, holding a sign that read, "I mourn my sibling lost to abortion."
When my immigrant mother found out she was pregnant with me, she was met with hostility from my biological father as well as her parents back home in the Philippines. They tried to coerce her into having an abortion, but she chose life for me. I didn't meet my biological father until I was 22 years old, but it was not until years after that he revealed to me I had a sibling who died by abortion. It's difficult to describe the complicated grief I experienced the years following, but survivor's guilt, existential doom, and depression were a large part of it.
My whole-life advocacy as a Catholic is rooted on these three points:
To conclude, I'd like to share a portion of the Sisters of Life statement. Their work and service is deeply inspiring!
"Today as we renew our commitment to love, we invite all others to step with us into this new era of greater protection for the unborn with even greater generosity, courage and dedication.
Let us together pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our nation for peace, healing and conversion of heart—that all may believe in the sacredness of every human life."
April 9, 2023
What we Celebrate Easter Morning
By: Fr. Nicholas Sheehy
We have so much tradition surrounding Easter, that we could be tempted to forget what it is really about. God became man, and died for us – for our sins. Then, on the third day, he rose again from the dead. It would have been easy for somebody to present himself as a messiah – the anointed one – the Christ. But it is entirely different once he rises from the dead.
Now, just about everything has been said about Jesus. Some have claimed that he was God, and therefore could not be man. Such was the teaching of the Docetists, such as Basilides and Valentinus. Sts. Irenaeus and Hippolytus responded that if Christ were not truly human, he could not redeem humanity. (cf. Heb. 2:14; 1 John 4:1-3)
The Judaizers proposed the doctrine of Ebionitism, that Jesus was human and was therefore not God. Origen and Eusebius responded that Jesus is fully divine and thus worthy of worship. (cf. John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 13:8)
Marcion proposed the Gnostic theory, that Jesus was neither fully divine, nor fully human – but something in between. St. Justin Martyr and the Apostles’ Creed make sure to assert that he is both human and divine.
And the heresies go on. Some even persist or are reborn in our own day. But we have to hold on to two truths: Jesus is fully God and fully man. St. Polycarp said it best:
For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil: and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord for his own lusts, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, -- this man is the first-born of Satan. (Polycarp of Smyrna, “Letter to the Philippians”)
When we celebrate Easter, we celebrate the central mystery of our faith. We can rejoice, because we have a savior who can actually effect change. He has changed us through our Baptism, and continues to change us through the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. As we enter into the Easter season, we should ask ourselves how well we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.
St. Augustine said famously: “We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song.” Let us make sure that in our worship, our testimony and our lives we give witness to the reality of the resurrection. Christ, both God and man, has redeemed us from our sins and opened for us the gates of Heaven.