Staying Connected to One Another in Christ

 After college, I entered a program in Rome that required me to be away from the country for two years with no possibility of returning home. These were the days before the internet, Zoom, and Facebook, when even phone calls were expensive. As the time for me to leave drew near, I was feeling sad at the possibility of losing touch with so many people I had come to love. When I shared this with my pastor, he told me, “The Jesus you will be praying to in Rome is the same Jesus your friends will be praying to here at home.” Those simple words reminded me that, even half a world away, I would remain connected with my friends through the mystery of faith and prayer.

At the Last Supper, Jesus faced the prospect of leaving his disciples. He wanted them to know that although he would no longer be with them physically, his presence would nonetheless still be very real and active among them. And so, Jesus used the image of the vine to describe the ongoing connection he would have with his followers even after his death and resurrection. Just as the branch is vitally connected to the vine, so the believer is vitally connected to Jesus. And just as, apart from the vine, the branch shrivels up and dies, so those who are not connected to Jesus have no life within them. The Last Supper is the only place where Jesus uses the image of the vine, but it repeats a theme which echoes throughout the gospel of John  that Jesus “stays” or “remains in” his disciples and that they “stay” or “remain in” him. For example, when Jesus asks the first disciples what they want, they do not ask him, “Where are you going?” but, “Where are you staying?” This “remaining” points to the mystery of Jesus’ ongoing presence within his disciples.

The fact that we each sprout individually from the vine which is Christ does not mean that we are separated from one another. Jesus connects us not only to himself but to one another. Together we form the one vine which extends its branches throughout the world and bears fruit in love. The woman who folds her hands to pray in Tennessee draws life from the same source as the man who kneels down in Bangladesh. The teenager who visits the sick in Buenos Aires does so with the same love that moves a rich woman to give her coat to a homeless person in Lisbon. It is the same Jesus who continues to be present and active throughout the world just as he promised his disciples.

At the Eucharist, we gather to witness the transformation of “the fruit of the vine and work of human hands” into the very life blood of Christ. It is the source of our life and its highest expression. We offer with the gifts of bread and wine all that we are and all that we have done. It does not always seem like much. But we offer it precisely so that it can be transformed into something beyond our power to achieve. Pondering the mystery of the life of Jesus within us will make us grow in our longing to be united with him through Holy Communion. And it strengthens our sense of unity with other Christian believers throughout the world.

In Christ we remain connected to one another through him.
Douglas Sousa


Lord Jesus, You are the vine and we are the branches.
Because of you, we are alive. Because of you, we bear fruit.
As we reach out to you, keep us mindful of the needy who yearn to be reached out to.
As we stretch out our hands to you, let us also stretch out our hands to the hungry so that the fruit we bear in you may nourish others.


Third Sunday of Easter—Hope for the Resurrection of our Bodies

In this last year we’ve all been reminded of our mortality countless times as we’ve watched the COVID-19 pandemic sweep over the world. But as part of the Body of Christ, there is a hope that awaits our mortal bodies, and to see it, we need look no further than this Sunday’s readings!

 “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses!” The promise of Christ proclaimed by Peter is not only good news for us in the present moment — the redemption from sin — but good news for us for eternity, too. As Catholics, our theology of the end is very specific. While our bodies and souls separate at death, we do not continue on as glowing, disembodied spirits for all of time. The resurrection of Christ foretells our own destiny — the resurrection of the body.

The Apostles lived in a world where, to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, life was often “nasty, brutish, and short.” Among the powerful and privileged, the highest priority was bringing glory to the family name and producing enough strong offspring to continue the line. The rich could hire alchemists and magicians in the quest for immortality and eternal youth. Without modern medicine, any injury could be potentially life threatening and every illness suspected to take a severe turn for the worse. When Jesus hung upon the Cross that Good Friday, even the most hopeful among them had no reason to suspect that — once he was taken down — there would be any more to the story.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Jesus emphasizes what he does when he appears to the Apostles. “‘Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see … they gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.” Jesus’ return is no ghostly apparition. He has not emerged from the tomb as a luminous being, pure spirit shed of its earthly shell. Jesus is still Jesus. He is still fully God and fully man. When Jesus conquers death, he does so as a human being in his very flesh and blood. Not only that, but he is a human being who still bears the scars of inflicted violence.

In the face of suffering, the thought of sloughing off our mortal coil may feel all too promising. Yet, by his resurrection, Jesus reinforces our bodiliness. He doesn’t negate it. Jesus redeems us through the offering of his life and the gift of his body. Through his example, we see that our bodies have moral potential. We act out our sin or sanctity, our vice or virtue, through our bodies. In the second reading, John speaks of just that. “He is expiation for our sins … the way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.” In other words, while the grace of God is living and effective in our life, our choices matter. And we enact those choices in and through our bodies. Our hands extend an offering to the poor. Our feet operate the gas pedal in our car to move us to church on Sunday. Our brains process the decision to obey God or to deny Him.

 Our bodies matter. Life matters! Christianity is not a denial of the material world but a participation in its sanctification. This Third Sunday of Easter, be aware of the choices you make in and through your body. How do you reveal your love to your friends? What decisions do you make about the food and drink you consume and offer to others? To whom do you offer them? When you look at your own wounds — physical and emotional — how do they affect the way you see the world and interact with those around you? Remember, we worship a resurrected God. We are disciples of a resurrected Savior. “Of this we are witnesses.” Will we choose a life for all the world to see?

 Anna Carter

Spring Cleaning and Planting

Getting tired of being indoors?   Come join fellow parishioners while we spruce up and plant flowers in the church and school garden beds. So bring your yard tools and join us, Sat. May 15rd,  9 am-12 pm. Doughnuts, drinks and safe distance fellowship provided. If you have any questions, contact Eileen MacDonell, 313-592-0481.Thank for your help ahead of time.


Happy Easter, Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Dear Parishioners,

 On behalf of the parish and school staff, I would like to wish you and your family a Happy Easter. Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar and it is a great joy for us to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.  It is not just the end of our period of penance and sacrifice, but the beginning of a new life in Christ the risen Lord. Easter brings so many promises of God to us, life is stronger than death, love can overcome hate, goodness ultimately triumphs over evil and eternity and glory with God in Heaven are our destiny. 

 As the “Exsultet”, the great Easter song or the great Easter proclamation states clearly that the grace of this most wonderful event “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride…” may these things come true for all of us as we keep moving forward.

 Thank you for your care and support for St. Valentine Parish and the School. We are indeed blessed to have your selfless and loving dedication.

 I pray that the Risen Lord may continue to bless each one of you and keep you safe with His Peace and Courage and may the Easter Joy continue to fill your hearts and homes throughout this season.

 Happy Easter, Christ is Risen, Alleluia!

Fr. Socorro Fernandes