Feed the Soul

05-29-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

This is the last Pastor’s Desk article for a couple of months. My library of usable photos has dwindled. So, I’ve got to do a little vacation traveling. It is most wise to remember that when vacationing here and there, one must never take vacations from the spiritual life. Do we ever take vacations from all forms of eating or drinking? And yet, many fail to see that the soul has just as much a need for nourishment as the body.

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Sharing our Faith

05-22-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

'Cur' in Latin means 'why?' Man is naturally CURious about the whole of his world. Kids at an early age often astound their parents when they discover the world around them, especially when as adults, the parents themselves are no longer seeking and investigating spiritual matters. "Mommy, is there a squirrel heaven?" At a park recent, I snapped this photo of a child being encouraged to learn something new about the world through the assurance of a mother's gentle grasp.

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Peace

05-15-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

We've come a long way since the days of the log cabin. Roughing it in the wild in such quarters is more like a wild weekend adventure some do for kicks once every ten years. The peaceful excursion on Taylor Creek Trail in Zion National Park, Utah was a visual feast and a welcome rest. But I remembered something important on that hike: don't confuse comfort with peace. The world gives comfort. Peace, on the other hand, is fruit of the loving union we have with God. Jesus makes the distinction at John 14, 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.' Don't get me wrong. Comfort has its place. I open a faucet in the room over to have drink. At the old log cabin in Zion, you'll find drink 200 feet away down in the ravine.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Rest

05-08-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

I took a few days of rest during the Easter Season to enjoy the beauty of Bryce Canyon. On the rim overlooking the Fairyland Trail a crescent moon allowed me to capture the Canyon's contours and shadows. It was a crisp 35 degrees at 8000 feet. I and another priest were the only souls on that part.

When the surroundings get quiet, retreat mode kicks in—a spontaneous crying out to God ensues. I recalled God's promise to Abraham who would make his descendants as numerous as the stars. The big fat twinkling star was my reminder of where God wants you and me. But the needed rest in Bryce is in function of my duties to Holy Cross. We rest so that we may fulfill once again the tasks assigned to us by God. The break at Bryce had me also looking forward to getting back to the office.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Examination

05-01-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

There's a gentleman from Washington State who, as a child, lost a leg in a lawn-mowing incident. From that time he strove to achieve all sorts of personal goals such as climbing Cathedral Rock in Sedona earlier this month.

As tourists scurried up the hill to his right and to his left, we slow pokes began to chat. His courteous manner allowed me to ask if he would share his inspiring story, which he did so gladly. All the while, his determination and persistence could be seen during the climb. Later that evening I recalled our encounter and felt drawn to examine my own determination with important aspects of my spiritual and apostolic life. I didn't learn anything knew that I already knew about myself. I was just reminded of a good lesson: suffering can bring out the best in any Christian provide it is joined to Lord's own Passion. It is in suffering that our imitation of Jesus Christ is rendered most perfect.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Weather

04-24-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Summer will soon be upon us officially, but the summer heat is already here. The Phoenix skyline basks in a sea of sunset light. Halfway up Siphon Trail in the Superstitions I turned back to shoot this panorama. The warm, almost hot glow, is a reminder of the blessings of heat. We should never complain about the way God made things in His creation because it was all made 'good'. Genesis. The Canticle in Daniel 3 expresses it another way, 'Fire and heat, bless the Lord, cold and chill, bless the Lord'. Alan Bean, one of the astronauts who walked the barren lunar surface had this to say about weather, "After coming home I never complained about earth's weather again. I am glad we have weather."

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Walk-A-Thon

04-17-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Cindy, my RE coordinator was quick to point out that the walk-a-thon fundraising event for the RE Department was also intended to boost our sense of parish family. In all humility, I understood that from the get go. I already sensed it (belonging to the parish family) on the faces of the participants. A big 'thank you' to my RE coordinators and catechists for assisting me with an occasion to put on my sneakers.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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Youth Retreat

04-10-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Every year the youth of our parish travel to the Lost Canyon, Young Life Camp just outside of Williams, AZ. It is pretty country, the sort of place where you can get away for a while and give things back over to God.

Thirty-five students from Holy Cross made it up there. There were talks, group dynamics, time for mass and confessions—activities you would expect to find on retreat. This event was very important for the life of the Church. It certainly made it on the Bishop's schedule, and he stayed for most of the weekend. As the retreat got underway, a youth director gave words of introduction on stage while Bishop was behind a curtain silently preparing, meditating perhaps, on his message to the young crowd. Is this not a consoling image? A bishop talks with God before he talks with his flock.

Your Pastor,
Fr. Larry

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The End Result

04-03-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Ah! How sweet Victory is in worldly battles, but how enduring it will be for God's saints! Here's another shot from the Renaissance Festival of the proud Knight riding his prancing horse on a victory lap. Victory over sin and death and the final arrival to the heavenly home necessarily requires that God show us His mercy. Heaven is something we don't deserve or earn. That is where mercy comes in—and God wants us to have an experience of His mercy. While we have time in this world, God gives us all sorts of chances to solidify our pace toward it. The saints are those who knew how to accept God's merciful love. They knew how to seize the moment and let God do his work inside their hearts. The end result?  God crowns His saints with His own glory and puts His enemies under His feet (1 Cor 15:25).

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Victory

03-27-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

To My Parish Family, Happy Easter!

I captured this moment recently at the Renaissance Festival when both riders suffered staged casualties. There were no clear winners at the end of this particular run. Each rider impaled the shield of the other.

The Easter reality of Christ's victory over death could not be more different. His victory over death and sin was total and definitive. Victory begins in the lives of all His faithful who conscientiously cultivate their life of grace through frequent participation in the Church's Sacraments, namely sacramental confession. For God's elect in Heaven the victory is complete and Satan is humiliated with every saint that passes beyond his own control.

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God's Surprising Graces

03-20-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

Spanish crucifixes are known for their realism and the one hanging in the Community Chapel of the Poor Clare Sisters in Tonopah, AZ is no exception. There are numerous examples of souls who have found their way into the Church by contemplating similar images.

Israel Zoller was Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Rome during the period of World War II. At age 8 he visited the home of a classmate who was a Christian. In that home, Israel Zoller spied a crucifix for the first time. Questions about its meaning flooded his mind. "Who was that man hanging on a cross? What did He do to deserve that suffering? Was He a bad man? Why does my friend and his family treat Him so reverently? Perhaps He was a good man who simply told the truth."

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God's infinite bounty and Creativity

03-13-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

I suspect that most of us have never seen the elusive Green Jay. This tropical bird travels along migratory routes that extend only as far north as the southern most tip of Texas where I hail from. Some weeks ago, I visited Mom and Dad who live close to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary where I took this image.

Beautiful things, as well we all know, are not made by themselves. Creation was meant to speak to us of God's infinite bounty and creativity. He sets such beauties before our eyes that we may ponder and thank Him for his goodness. St. John's Gospel points out that no one has ever seen God (1:18). I think for this reason St. Paul points out (Romans 1:20) that we can now come to know some of God's attributes indirectly by examining nature's complexity and providence. The Green Jay, as it turns out, simply isn't the fruit of randomness.

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Putting on Sunday’s best

03-06-2016The World in View from a Believer’s PerspectiveFr. Larry Merta

This image was taken neither in Nebraska or Pennsylvania as some have suggested. It was taken two miles West of Superior, AZ. The monotony of desert landscape is broken by this visual delight only for a moment, and if you're not looking at the right time in the right place, you'll miss it entirely as you drive by it on Highway 60. Such beauty comes at intervals few and far between.

It reminds me how we should dress in our best clothes for Sunday Mass. When preparing ourselves spiritually throughout the week for the encounter with Christ in the Mass, our selection of attire can help our faith. Putting on Sunday's best is meant to be an act of love and respect for the presence of God who physically makes himself present to us in the most radical of ways within the Liturgy. We evangelize our own communities through our attentiveness to personal hygiene, dress and decorum without ostentation.

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