The Feast of the Holy Family

12-29-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Mary and Joseph did everything they could do to protect the Christ child. They had already had to deal with so many hardships. The Holy Family then has to leave everything and move to a foreign country to avoid the king, who wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus is just a week old and already there is trouble. Surely there was another way. Couldn't God have somehow just "taken care of Herod? Why did the Holy Family have to suffer so much!

I think most of us have asked ourselves the same question especially when there is a family crisis or a tragedy. It can be a real test of our faith that comes when we come face to face with some sort of injustice or undeserved illness, some crisis in our family -- an unexpected death, an accident, someone slanders us, our health or we lost our job. It can be very easy to feel like God has forgotten about us. In those dark moments, we can fund ourselves asking the question again: why was this necessary?


Merry Christmas

12-22-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Because so many of us will be traveling over Christmas, I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of our parish staff, to wish all of you a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Over the next few days, we will be wrapping up our Christmas preparations—decorating, buying and wrapping presents, sending cards, and baking. Of course we must remember the most important preparation of all… spiritual ones.

One thing we could all pray for are the visitors coming to our parish. Each Christmas, our churches are filled with visitors who come to pray before the Manger; go to confession; and experience the beauty of the Catholic liturgy.


Gaudete Sunday

12-15-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are called to expect the Lord's return at any second. We are called to be joyful about it. Do you have joy in your heart?

This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent. It is also known as Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday we light the pink candle on the Advent wreath. Gaudete means to rejoice. It's as if the lightening of the color from purple to the lighter rose should be reflected in our attitudes. Our Lord is inviting us to rejoice!

You might be surprised to know that the Advent season is a season that calls us to fasting and penance. Fasting and penance are ways to prepare our hearts and minds as we lead up to the feast of our Savior's birth. The whole season of Advent reminds us of the joy that is to come. It is also a 'break' that gives us a chance to recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.


Our Lady of Guadalupe

12-08-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

From December 9-12, the American Church celebrates the appearances of the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe in present-day Mexico City. It was during these days in 1531 that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego. The Virgin Mary appeared 5 times as a sign of God's mercy and love, most fully and perfectly expressed in the conception of God the Son in her womb.

On December 12, 1531, the local bishop, Juan de Zumarrága, asked Juan for proof that Mary had appeared. In a later encounter, Our Lady asked Juan Diego to gather roses from the hilltop (where roses are not common, especially during winter). He did, collecting them in his cloak or tilma. Later, opening the cloak in the presence of the bishop, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was discovered to be imprinted on the tilma itself.


What is Advent?

12-01-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The word Advent means coming, and the season prepares us to celebrate the coming of Our Blessed Savior. Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year for the Roman Catholic Church. On the first day of Advent, which begins this year on December 1st, the Church celebrates its New Year's Day. The date for the beginning of Advent falls each year on the Sunday closest to November 30th - the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that Advent is part of the Christmas celebration. In fact, Advent is a separate time of preparation all its own. For the Catholic Church, Christmas doesn't begin until the first Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve and it continues until the "Octave of the Epiphany" which occurs on January 14th.


Happy Thanksgiving!

11-24-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I really enjoy this time of the year in Phoenix and in our parish. The weather is beautiful; our programs are in full swing; and, people just seem to be more pleasant. It is a great time to stop, rest, and focus on our gratitude! Thanksgiving Day is all about giving thanks to God for His countless blessings in our life.

I have so many reasons to be thankful to God for the wonderful people of St. Joan of Arc. In recent months, our parish has made significant strides in our understanding of stewardship. Many more people are registering as parishioners and becoming more active members of our parish. More and more parishioners are realizing that we are all stewards of God's many gifts. Many parishioners have come together to give the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of families through our St. Vincent de Paul pantry. It is so inspiring to see. Your generosity and thoughtfulness will make a beautiful difference to so many families this Thursday.


Electronic Giving

11-17-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During difficult economic times we are ever more conscious of how we use our money.  No matter how much we have (or don’t have) in the piggy bank, we are still called to be responsible stewards with whatever God has given to us.  We are called by God to practice good stewardship.

Many of us give of our time, talents, and treasures in different ways and I want to thank all of you who have given so freely of your resources. Your gifts enable us to maintain our buildings and grounds; provide youth and adult education programs; and, support many charitable endeavors. Your offerings allow us to have a beautiful church for Mass, classrooms for teaching, religious education and fellowship. Usually when I speak with you about Stewardship, it’s about generosity. Today I would like to speak about the way in which we give.


Putting God First

11-10-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
What happens when we put God first? Today Our Lord reminds us that great blessings happen when we put God first in our life, in our family, and in our finances. In the first reading for this Sunday we hear about a woman arrested with her seven sons. The king wanted them to deny their Jewish religion by eating pork. The courageous mother encouraged her sons to endure torture rather than betray God. It is difficult for most of us to imagine the pain they inflicted on her children, but they put God first. They knew that this life is short and - no matter what we do - none of us can avoid suffering, so put your trust in God.

Our Lord calls each of us to do something similar when He calls us to be good stewards. Like the mother of those seven sons, we are asked to put God first. You may not see immediate results. It may require some suffering. But if you put God first, things will eventually work out for the best.


Hope in Christ

11-03-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

What does it mean to have hope in Christ? Pope Francis recently said, "The Church offers all the possibility to walk along the path of holiness, which is the path of the Christian: it makes us meet Jesus in the Sacraments, especially in Confession, in the Eucharist, it communicates to us the Word of God, it makes us live in charity, in the love of God to all."

Pope Francis went on to say that we are not to be afraid of holiness, of letting oneself be loved by God. To be holy, he said, does not require one to do extraordinary things, but in letting God act.

"Let us not lose hope in holiness, let us all walk along this path. Do we want to be saints? All of us? The Lord awaits us with open arms. Let us live our faith with joy and let ourselves be loved by the Lord."



10-27-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The way our culture currently recognizes Halloween is more than scary… it is wrong. Let me attempt to clarify a few things. This week we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints, which is celebrated every November 1st. This celebration dates back to the fourth century. It was originally called the Feast of All Martyrs and it was celebrated on May 13th. The words "martyr" and "saint" originally meant basically the same thing — someone who is a witness to Christ even unto death.

The early Christians usually placed the body of the martyr, someone who had been killed for the faith, in a tomb that was easily accessible. Then on the anniversary of that martyr's death, the faithful would come and pray and celebrate the Eucharist on or near the tomb of this Christian hero or heroine. That is why many altars have a relic of a saint located in the altar. St. Joan of Arc altars do not have any relics. Eventually, these celebrations were held in local churches to commemorate not just one martyr, but all who had given their lives for the faith. By the fifth century, this feast of "All Saints" was held on the Friday of Easter week.


True Love + Real Sacrifice = Eternal Gift (part II of II)

10-20-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sadly, the unwillingness to offer real sacrifices and the lack of true love has led many people to believe that life is disposable. This tragic way of thinking has impacted our world in many negative ways i.e., marriages, families, workplaces, government, the economy, communities and even the Church. Many people live with a darkened intellect and in ignorance of the love of God for all His children. We live in a world where many people fail to see that true love includes personal sacrifice. It is so easy to become puffed up with pride and a false sense of self-reliance; many selfishly choose their own path; many seek to maximize pleasure and avoid giving of themselves and therefore miss the beauty of God's creation all together.


True Love + Real Sacrifice = Eternal Gift (part I of II)

10-13-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate Respect Life throughout the month of October, Our Lord reminds us of the sacredness of every life. Catholics have always held and will always preach the value of human life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that:

"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, under any circumstance, claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being"
—CCC 2258

And "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life"
—CCC 2270


Respect Life Month

10-06-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Everyone is impacted by the evil and violence. Many Americans know of the culture of death that is so prevalent in our country.

As Americans, we are impacted and saddened by acts of terrorism (the Boston Marathon bombing), mass shootings (a movie theater in Aurora, CO; an elementary school in Newtown, CT, at a Navy base in Washington, DC), 532 murders in Chicago in 2012, and over a million children killed each year by abortion (its brutality was seen in the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider).

We can become frustrated. We can think thoughts like, "Why hasn't God intervened to stop the killing and why haven't we been unable to stop it ourselves through our legal system" I feel frustrated at times but frustration that is ignored accomplishes nothing. Frustration distracts us from the two things Our Lord asks of us, the two things needed to overcome violence and evil: faith in God and the loving witness of our lives. Hope in action overcomes frustration.

There are so many beautiful examples of people who choose life by not giving in to the frustration. For example, there are more martyrs today than in the early centuries of the Church. These men and women around the world go bravely to their deaths, witnessing to the faith. Their witness can inspire us to witness to the right to life and inherent dignity of every person. Be not afraid!