Stonewood, West Virginia


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Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ by living our faith as a Catholic Community in worship, service, and support of one another.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church

Weekly Gospel Meditation

Connect! Sunday Reflection

New Grace from God

September 9, 2019  •   Br. John-Marmion Villa

For Sunday, September 15, 2019
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

New Grace from God

Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-32

When I was a senior in high school, my family took an international vacation, but I slept through my 3 a.m. alarm on the day of departure. When I finally awoke, there was a frenzied panic as I tried to troubleshoot as many possible options to get me to the airport two hours away to meet my family on time for the flight. Hope was slim, but it was there after a few hours of looking through phone books (remember those?) to find an available shuttle ride. But even as I stepped onto the shuttle, I wasn’t sure that this plan was going to work out. My panic increased because now I was at the mercy of time. There was nothing else that I could do but to see how things would play out.

We’ve all had moments like this in our lives, moments when our throat sinks into our belly, and paralyzing apprehension takes over. It happens to us when we realize that we didn’t show up for that scheduled appointment, when we forgot to pick up our son from school, when we left that report at home, or when we lock our keys in the car. It’s a realization that we lost something of significance, and there’s going to be a consequence following. We go into a panic mode of sorts, often acting uncharacteristically or erratically, like we’re kinda going crazy!

Maybe this feeling is what the shepherd, woman, and Prodigal Son felt. What they had lost was of utmost value to them, and there was a heightened awareness of the aftermath if their lost item was not found. A desperate search ensues.

I remember sitting in that shuttle utterly disappointed that I didn’t wake up in time and ashamed that I had put myself through those panicked few hours. I was terrified of missing my flight and afraid of my family’s reaction were I to miss our vacation abroad. The interior dialogue was deafening during that two-hour ride to the airport. Things didn’t get any better when I arrived. Everything heightened as I had to check my luggage and go through security. “What if something else goes wrong?”

In our Gospel text, the word rejoice (and its derivative, joy) appears five times. But note where in the context of the stories it appears … after a period of turmoil. In other words, joy always follows the anguish. I like what Jean Vanier had to say about this: “Tensions or difficulty can signal the approach of a new grace of God.” This new grace can come to us in many and varied ways, but so often, our hearts are not ready to receive that new grace, and the opportunity slips by unnoticed.

I did get to the airport just in the nick of time, and my family was waiting for me at the gate. I was still a little anxious as I waited with them to board the plane. It was only when I took my seat and my father, seated next to me, said, “I’m glad you’re here” that a sudden flood of relief and joy came into my heart.

Today, this very familiar Gospel passage speaks to me of joy, and it poses a few very simple questions: “Do I really encounter it?” “What am I willing to endure in order to experience it more deeply?” And “How do I foster joy in others?”

Br. John-Marmion Villa, BSC



I feel as though I am losing my grip and can barely hang on a moment longer.
In desperation, I reach my hand to you, God.
Grab me! Pull me out of this mess! Hear my earnest prayer!
I give my life to you today, every bit of it.
I’m yours. Help me. Be my God.
No longer will I build my life on shifting sand.
You are my rock, and with your help, I will establish my life on your firm foundation.
Deliver me from this pit, and I will praise you.
I will tell of your great wonders.
I will make known your wonderful ways, steadfast love, and unending power.
Thank you!
I know you hear me and that you save the humble and contrite of heart.
Forgive me for my decisions, actions, and attitudes that got me to this place.
I receive your forgiveness and power to change.
And as I am forgiven, I forgive each person that has contributed to my temporary defeat, for my victory is at hand.
You are here.
— A Prayer of Desperation

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U.S. Bishops Vote for Conference Secretary, Chairman and Chairmen-elect of Six Committees at Fall General Assembly in Baltimore

BALTIMORE—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have elected a new secretary for the Conference, as well as a chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and chairman-elect of five additional standing committees at their Fall General Assembly in Baltimore.

During their morning session, the bishops elected Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles as president of the conference and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit as vice president. Both the new president and vice president begin their terms at the conclusion of this year’s General Assembly. Archbishop Vigneron has served as the Conference secretary since 2018 and will vacate that office upon assuming the vice presidency. In order to accommodate this leadership change, the bishops voted for a new Conference secretary in the afternoon session. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Military Services, USA was elected secretary of Conference in a 112-87 vote over Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo.

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U.S. Bishops Vote for USCCB President and Vice President at Annual General Assembly in Baltimore

BALTIMORE—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) during the Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. Archbishop Gomez has served as vice president of the Conference since 2016. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit was elected as USCCB vice president. Both the new president and vice president terms begin at the conclusion of this year’s General Assembly.

Archbishop Gomez was elected president on the first ballot with 176 votes. Archbishop Vigneron was elected vice president on the third ballot by 151 to 90 in a runoff vote against Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Military Services, USA. The president and vice president are elected by a simple majority from a slate of 10 nominees. If no president or vice president is chosen after the second round of voting, a third ballot is a run-off between the two bishops who received the most votes on the second ballot. Archbishop Vigneron has served as the Conference secretary since 2018, a position that he will vacate upon assuming the vice presidency. Therefore, the bishops will vote in their afternoon session for a Conference secretary to fill the vacancy left as Archbishop Vigneron assumes the vice presidency.

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USCCB Chairmen Issue Statement on Supreme Court Cases Upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, commented on three cases argued before the Supreme Court today – Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California; McAleenan, Secretary of Homeland Security v. Vidal; Trump, President of U.S. v. NAACP. These cases challenge whether decisions in the lower court to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) were lawful.

On October 4, the USCCB, with other Catholic and evangelical partners, filed an amicus curiae brief in the cases. The brief argues that rescinding DACA without considering crucial facts underlying the program irreparably harms hundreds of thousands of families by placing them at imminent risk of separation, which violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and is thus unlawful.

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