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Tag Archive | "Father Lam T. Le"

Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you (Luke 1:28)


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd • Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319

616-696-3904

In the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, October 7 is a Marian Feast, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. On this occasion, one might ask: what is the Rosary? To put it briefly, it is a prayer in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and primary is recitation of the Hail Mary. 

The popularity of the Rosary has been attributed to St. Dominic and the Dominican Order. It grew out of the laity’s desire to have 150 prayers to match the 150 psalms chanted by the monks in monasteries. In 1569, Pope Pius V officially recommended the praying “of 150 angelic salutations . . . with the Lord’s prayer at each decade . . . while meditating on the mysteries which recall the entire life of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This same Pope instituted the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, 1571.

The Rosary, in its current form, is a Scripture-based prayer: beginning with the Apostles’ Creed (a summary of the great mysteries of the Catholic faith, from creation through redemption and up to the Resurrection of the body and everlasting life); the Our Father follows the introduction of each Mystery of Christ (which is taken from the Gospels). The first part of the Hail Mary is composed from verses from the Gospel of Luke (1:29 and 1:42)—the angel’s words announcing Christ’s birth and Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary. It was Pope Pius V, that added the second part to the Hail Mary, namely “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” At the end of the 10th recitation of the Hail Mary, the great Doxology is said: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.” 

Until October 16, 2002, people have prayed the Rosary while meditating on the Joyful Mysteries (Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of the Lord, Presentation, Finding of the Child in the Temple), the Sorrowful Mysteries (Agony in the Garden, Scourging at the Pillar, Crowning with Thorns, Carrying the Cross, Death on the Cross), the Glorious Mysteries (Resurrection, Ascension, Descending of the Holy Spirit, Assumption of Mary, the Coronation of Mary). With Pope John Paul II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002, Catholics now enrich this prayerful practice with the Luminous Mysteries (Baptism of the Lord, Wedding at Cana, Proclamation of the Kingdom, Transfiguration, and Institution of the Holy Eucharist). 

The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is a Christocentric prayer at heart. Pope John Paul II once said, “With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary, the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 1).

In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street, Sand Lake, MI. 49343. Phone 616-636-5671.

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Catholic parish breaks ground on new, larger church


Saint John Paul II Parish broke ground on a new church last Sunday. Photo by Sue Wolfe.

 

By Sue Wolfe

A Rite of Beginning Work on the Building of a Church (commonly known as a groundbreaking) was held on Sunday, August 19 following the 10:30 a.m. mass for a new Catholic church to be built near the existing Saint John Paul II Parish located at 3110 17 Mile Road, Cedar Springs, just west of Meijer. 

The Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, presided over this historic event in the presence of the parish’s first pastor Father Lam T. Le and many joyful parishioners.   

“It is an exciting moment when a bishop has the opportunity to break ground on a new church in his diocese,” said Bishop Walkowiak. “This growth shows the vibrancy of the Catholic faith in West Michigan.”

Since opening in 2013, the community’s first Catholic Church has done extensive remodeling of the sanctuary and added a commercial kitchen, classrooms, offices, storage area, and a large gathering room/dining area. The current church will remain as a holy chapel for weddings, funerals, and daily mass. The adjoining facilities will continue to be utilized for faith formation and an outreach center of the parish.

The Bishop cited the good works and powerful ministry being done through this small community church to include a free Tuesday night meal serving an average 70 people per night. The parish has youth ministries, faith formation programs, and outreach programs, as well as collaborating with other community Christian groups and organizations to address needs within the area schools and community. 

Following the opening words of Bishop Walkowiak, he then sprinkled holy water over the boundary lines of the proposed church and a corner piece of the foundation. Approximately 300 parishioners and guests attended the ceremony followed by a feast in the gathering room where they shared stories of celebration and hope. 

“Over the past five years, I have witnessed how God has been working through the faith community in Cedar Springs,” said Reverend Lam Le, pastor of St. John Paul II Parish. “I have seen a great number of people coming to this parish for the sacraments of Christian initiation. I have also observed families who have joined our parish and joyfully offered their stewardship of time, talent and treasure to the Lord. Truly, St. John Paul II Parish is living its mission of being the hands and feet of Christ.”

Construction of the new church began on Monday, August 20 and is scheduled to conclude in November 2019. The parish expects to have 600 families by the end of 2018. Church leaders believe their ability to grow is dependent on the space they have available. The rectory will wait until after the church is complete.

Saint John Paul II Parish welcomes all those who wish to explore and deepen their faith to include those who may have practiced the Catholic faith in the past, are currently practicing Catholicism, and those who may want to explore and learn what the Catholic faith involves. The office is open Tuesday–Thursday 9–4, and Fridays 9–noon.  Weekday Mass times are Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays at noon. Sunday Masses are: Vigil at 4 p.m. (on Saturday), on Sunday 8:30 and 10:30 am and 5 pm. You can call 616-696-3904 or visit the website www.JP2-MQA.org for more information. 

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“Live by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16)


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd

Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319

616-696-3904

 

June is the time that we celebrate commencement exercises of our high schoolers. This is a time of joy and excitement for all! 

To the families, especially moms and dads, you probably watched your son/daughter graduate with joy and amazement. It probably seemed like it was just yesterday that you held this newborn child in your arms and now he/she is about to enter the world as an adult. As an uncle of five nieces and nephews, I now begin to share this joy and amazement with my brothers and sisters as my oldest nephew just graduated from high school. Thank you to all parents for accepting the gift of life and being a good steward of such a gift.

To the graduates, some of you will continue your education in colleges/universities; some will enter the work force; and some will take time off to explore the world and discern God’s plan for your life. What an exciting time! Many of you will be on your own for the first time. Not living under your parents’ roof will provide a certain sense of freedom. You are still their son/daughter, but now you will be making your own decisions. With this freedom comes with great responsibility. I encourage you to make wise choices for all the actions in your life. 

How does one make good choices in our life? “Live by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16) is the advice of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians. This is good advice. When we live according to the guidance of God’s spirit, our lives will bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit as well. The apostle continues:  “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23).  

Ask yourself these questions when making decisions: Is this choice motivated by love for God and others? Will it increase joy for those involved? Will it preserve a sense of peace in the environment? Will it be an act of kindness and an expression of generosity? Will it be a faithful response to God’s love and relations with others? Is it an act of gentleness and shows my maturity in overcoming selfishness? If the action does not lead to these fruits, then it is not living by the Spirit and therefore, not a good choice.

Congratulations to all the graduates! May you live by the spirit so as to find true happiness in the exciting journey ahead of you! May you bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit and transform the world, which is filled with the “fruits of the flesh” (Gal 5:19-20). Graduates of 2018, you are called to be salt of the earth and light of the world (Mt 5: 13;14).   Amen.

In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street, Sand Lake, MI. 49343. Phone 616-636-5671.

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Let’s keep Advent


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor 

St. John Paul II Parish 

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs

(616) 696-3904

 

Sunday, December 3, marks the season of Advent and the beginning of the Church’s new liturgical year. The word Advent comes from the Latin word “ad-venire,” which means “to come to.” 

“Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.” (See Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and Calendar, no. 39). 

In our culture of instant gratification, there seems to be no room for such a period of devout and joyful preparation as the liturgies of the Church suggest. But as people of faith, the Parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us; unless we are prudent (carrying a lamp with enough oil while awaiting the bridegroom) we are not suitable for the Feast (Mt 25:1-13). Unless we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord, whether in the celebration of Christmas or at the end of time, we will not be prepared to enter the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Or, as Matthew 22: 11-13 indicates: we might enter, but not with the proper attire for the Feast. 

“Prepare the way of the Lord” is the exhortation that is properly applied to all of us as we celebrate Advent! Concretely, how should we keep advent? As the voice of one crying out in the desert indicates, “Make straight his paths!” (Mk 1:2). We make our paths straight by removing the obstacles in our hearts that separate us from God. Those obstacles can be sinful acts and unhealthy attachments to the “stuff” we accumulate in this life that consumes our hearts and souls, leaving no room for God. 

Let this Advent be unlike any other! Let us be like the five wise virgins with lamps filled with oil to await our Redeemer, Christ the Lord! Amen. 

(In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street Sand Lake, Michigan 49343. Phone 616 636 5671)

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Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd.

Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319

616-696-3904

 

On August 15, the Catholic Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the faith of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven when her earthly journey was completed, because God “would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb, since from her body she marvelously brought forth your incarnate Son, the Author of all life” (Preface: the Glory of Mary Assumed into Heaven, the Roman Missal).

The faithful was surprised to hear the Gospel passage chosen for the Vigil Mass of this great Solemnity, Luke 11: 27-28: “While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

The true blessedness that Jesus spoke of in Luke 11:27-28 should not be interpreted as a rebuke of the mother of Jesus. Rather, it emphasizes that attentiveness to God’s Word is more important to Jesus than biological relationships. Mary lived her life in attentiveness and obedience to the Word, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled,” said her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 2:45). The Church honors Mary for her role in salvation and looks to her as a model of discipleship.

The word “Church” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 775 and 777 teaches ecclesia in Latin and ekkalein in Greek means to “call out of” or “convocation.” It designates the assembly as those to whom God’s Word “convokes,” or gathers to form the people of God. Thus, to be the people of God is to be attentive to the Word.

In short, to be Church is follow the example of the mother of Jesus: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  To be Church is to hear and to keep the Word in our heart. Amen.

(In addition to being the priest of St. John Paul II Parish, Cedar Springs, Father Lam also proudly serves as Pastor of Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 1 W Maple Street, Sand Lake, Michigan 49343. Phone 61- 636-5671.)

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Living in gratitude


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs

 

November reminds us of that the great civil holiday in the United States of America—Thanksgiving. If you attend Church on that Thursday morning with a Catholic community, chances are you will hear Luke 17:11-19:

As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” 

Let’s reflect upon the importance of the gift of healing for these ten lepers.

Leprosy is a terrible illness for those who lived before and during the time of Jesus:  According to Mosaic law, those who were inflicted with this illness were declared unclean by the priest, and they were prevented from encountering others so as not to make them unclean (Lev. 13:45, 46; Deut 5:2). Jesus, in the Gospel today, not only healed the ten lepers but also instructed them to “Go show yourselves to the priests” (Lk 17: 14). Jesus made this command so that the priests could declare them clean and thus not only would physical healing be complete, but their emotional well-being would also be restored.

Sadly, only one person returned to thank Jesus and that led the Lord to say, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17: 17-18). Jesus called the Samaritan leper who returned to give him thanks “this foreigner” as a reminder for us of the mutual animosity between Jews and Samaritans. From the Jews’ point of view, the Samaritans were “the illegitimate” siblings and were unclean. Samaritans, considered to be unclean by Jews, constructed their own place of worship, a temple on Mt. Gerizim, erected in the fourth century B.C. Jesus highlights the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan leper as an example to His contemporaries and to all of us as well: the characteristic of being people of God is not whether we are born as a Jew or Samaritan, but it is in living a life of gratitude to God who heals all of our spiritual leprosy, namely sin which damages our relationship with God and with one another.

So, on Thanksgiving, don’t forget to gather in Churches or houses of prayer to show gratitude to the Lord for the many gifts, especially for healing of our spiritual leprosy by the Blood of Christ poured out on the Cross.

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St. Mary Magdalene: The Evangelizer


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, Michigan
www.jp2-mqa.org

 

On June 10, 2016, a decree by the Congregation of Divine Worship formalized Pope Francis’ decision to raise the July 22 Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a Feast on the church’s liturgical calendar.  In doing so, the Pope wants to highlight St. Mary Magdalene’s role as one of the first witnesses of Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer.”

The significance of this decision is obvious when we visit the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and Calendar (hereafter UNLYC) in the Roman Missal, which classifies the roman liturgical celebrations:

“Celebrations, according to the importance assigned to them, are hence distinguished one from another and termed: Solemnity, Feast, and Memorial” (UNLYC no. 10). The instruction continues: “Solemnities are counted among the most important days, whose celebration begins with First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) on the preceding day. Some Solemnities are also endowed with their own Vigil Mass, which is to be used on the evening of the preceding day, if an evening Mass is celebrated…Feasts are celebrated within the limits of the natural day; accordingly they have no First Vespers (Evening Prayer I), except in the case of the Feasts of the Lord that fall on a Sunday in Ordinary Time or in Christmas Time and which replace the Sunday Office…Memorials are either obligatory or optional; their observance is integrated into the celebration of the occurring weekday” (UNLYC no. 11, 13, 14).

It should be noted that the designation of Feast is often given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar. Thus, with the above decision, the Pope indeed highlights the special mission of St. Mary Magdalene, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church, in witness to the resurrection of the Lord. The witness to the resurrection of the Lord belongs to the entire Church: women and men are included.

As St. Mary Magdalene was among the first witnesses to the resurrection of the Lord and addressed the resurrected Lord in Hebrew, “Rabbouni, which means Teacher” (Jn 20:16), may all of our mothers teach their children the first word in their lives: “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1: 21).  Amen.

 

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A Merry Christmas and a Holy Year of Mercy


Merciful-artFather Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, Michigan
www.jp2-mqa.org

This Christmas is a unique one for Catholics throughout the world. This is due to the fact that the spiritual leader, Pope Francis, declared an Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy from December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016. This is a “special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective” (Misericordiae Vultus, no. 3). In other words, the Pope calls upon Catholics and men and women of good will to see in Jesus, the Mercy of God made flesh and challenges us to engage in the works of mercy in our everyday lives. “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2447).

The theme, contemplating Jesus, Mercy of God made flesh, is clearly expressed in the logo of the Jubilee.  The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization explains:

“The logo . . . presents . . . the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.”

In this blessed season, indeed we celebrate that God showed us His love in a very special way:  sending His Son “in the likeness of our sinful flesh” (Rm 8:3).  Through this Mercy of God “made flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), may our entire life be the praise of God’s mercy.

Have a blessed 2016 and may you and your family be transformed in this Jubilee Year by God’s merciful love!  Amen.

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Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive


Father Lam T. Le, Pastor

St John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd NE, Cedar Springs

 

A Reflection on the Visit of Pope Francis to the United States of America

C-Pulpit-popeMuch excitement surrounds the first visit of Pope Francis to the United States of America from September 22-28. The Pope has a busy schedule, first visiting the White House in Washington, D.C., then traveling to New York City to address the United Nations, and most importantly, presiding over the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The World Meeting of Families is an international gathering that was founded by Pope (now Saint) John Paul II in 1994, and is held every three years to promote and encourage families throughout the world.

The 2015 theme of the World Meeting of Families says it all: “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” which emphasizes the impact that the love and life of families has on society. Why does the Pope put so much emphasis on strengthening family life among Catholics and non-Catholics? The answer is, I believe, found in three important paragraphs (1655-1657) of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that his immediate predecessor Pope Benedict XVI put much effort in preparing. It is important to fully quote them:

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”  When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.  These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.” Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.” Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

As the Pope visits our country to encourage, strengthen and bless families throughout the world, it is good for us to ask ourselves this question: “What am I doing to strengthen my family?” and more importantly, “What am I doing to make God present in my family and community?” Let love be our mission and let our family be fully alive in Christ.

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