All posts by Fr. Gerard Gordon

Good Shepherd Sunday 2019

Last weekend was “Good Shepherd Sunday,” also known as “Pastor Appreciation Day”.  To those who sent gifts, I am making a thank you list; to those who didn’t, I am making a different list.

The most appreciated gifts received were cards from the school children.  I want to share some of the cards with you that were written by our school children:

  • I am so happy you are in our school
  • Thank you for being fun
  • Thank you for being the best pest, I love you.  PS:  Where do you keep your money?
  • What’s your favorite color?
  • Keep doing what you’re doing
  • Thank you for helping with the environment
  • Thank you for being a great pest.  You show us hope and love in God and us.  I will pray the decade of the roiary from you.
  • Thank you so much for everything you do for me and everyone else.  I am thankful for everything you do.
  • I will say a decade of the rosary for you.  Thank you for being our pastor.  You did great at your job.
  • Thank you Father Golden
  • Thank you so much!  St. Martin’s is really thankful for you Father Gordon
  • I am so happy you are our pastor
  • Thank you for being our amazing pastor.  Thank you for everything you do.
  • You are very kind
  • Thank you for being our pastor.  I will say a rosy for you
  • Thank you for serving our church and helping me to be a better person
  • Thanks for being a priest
  • Thank you for making me be the person I am today.  I am lucky that you are here
  • Thank you for being nice
  • I love pizza

I have put some of those beautiful cards in the foyer of the church for all of our parishioners to enjoy.  The rest are on my desk.  I thank the children for their beautiful words.  If it sounds like I am boasting…you would be correct!

Notre Dame Fire

As you drive toward the great city of Paris you will see the marker signs just like any city in the world: “50 kilometers to Paris,” “20 kilometers to Paris,” “3 kilometers to Paris.”  The unique thing about the mileage marker signs in Paris is that everything is measured from Notre Dame Cathedral. One could say that every place in the surroundings of Paris revolves around the cathedral that is literally and metaphorically at the heart of the city.  All of the roads therefore will eventually lead to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and at the center of Notre Dame Cathedral is God Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.

To that end, I was captivated by two vignettes that emerged from the devastating conflagration of the most famous church in the world dedicated to the Blessed Mother.

The first involves the bravest people in the world:  firefighters.  As the first fire trucks arrived and as they were rigging their fire equipment, one firefighter leapt off the truck and did something none of the others did yet—he immediately ran directly into the burning Cathedral.  This firefighter also happens to be a Catholic Priest.  Father Fournier is a priest and also a member of the French Armed Forces as well as the Paris Fire Department.  I will let Father Fournier tell his own story as conveyed by French News Service:

…. right away two things must absolutely be done:  save this unfathomable treasure that is the Crown of Thorns, and of course our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament.  As I entered the cathedral, there was little smoke and almost no heat, but we had a vision of what hell may be:  like waterfalls of fire pouring down from the openings in the roof.   The relic was extracted from the building and guarded by police officers.  Everybody understands that the Crown of Thorns is an absolutely unique relic, but the Blessed Sacrament is our Lord, really present in His body, soul, divinity and humanity and you understand that it is hard to see someone you love perish in the blaze.  As firefighters we see casualties from fire and we know its effects, this is why I sought to preserve above all, the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.  When the fire attacked the northern bell tower we started to fear losing it.  This was exactly the time when I rescued the Blessed Sacrament.  And I did not want to simply leave with Jesus:  I took the opportunity to perform Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.  Here I am completely alone in the cathedral, in the middle of burning debris falling down from the ceiling, I call upon Jesus to help us save His home.  It was probably both this and the excellent general maneuver of the firefighters that led to the stopping of the fire, the ultimate rescuing of the northern tower.  We started Lent by imposing ashes and saying ‘remember you are dust,’ and truly this was a miniature Lent:  the Cathedral went to ashes, not to disappear, but to emerge stronger, as we Christians are, after the Resurrection of our Lord.”

While this was happening inside, outside the world was stunned by the gathering of young people along the Seine and the walkways of the Left Bank kneeling, praying and chanting hymns to the Blessed Mother as her home went up in flames.  Where had these youths learned these prayers and hymns?  After so many generations of French people had left the practice of the faith, here was a new generation of French youth who so naturally turned to God in prayer. The embers of faith had been stoked within them as Father Fournier told us: “the Cathedral went to ashes, not to disappear, but to emerge stronger as we Christians are after the Resurrection of our Lord.” 

Easter

I have always loved this little parable.  I don’t know where I first learned of it, but it certainly tells us the central purpose of Easter Redemption.

It is Final Judgement Day and all are joyously gathered in Heaven celebrating those who have made it into heaven.  St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II, your mother…all together and enjoying Eternal Life.  The gates of heaven have been sealed—for all eternity, never to be opened again!  Everyone is there—except Jesus.  Nowhere to be found.  St. Peter searches high and low and finally finds Jesus at the gates of heaven looking downcast as he peers out of the closed gates.  “Why are you not celebrating with everyone, Lord?  Why are you so sad on this most joyous of days?”  Jesus responds with great sorrow, “I was just looking for Judas.  I had hoped that he might have come and asked me to forgive him at the last minute—before the doors of heaven were sealed forever.  If he had only come and asked me to forgive him for what he did…I would have forgiven him you know; all he had to do was ask.”

Pope Benedict has reminded us that “Every saint had a past.  Every sinner has a future.”  The figures in the gospel stories are people who have been redeemed from their past—saved—made new by Christ.  Dismiss the thief converts in the last minutes of his life and becomes Saint Dismiss. Longinus the centurion who put Jesus to death repented of his sin and is today Saint Longinus, and Peter “wept bitterly” when he realized he had denied Christ three times, and became Saint Peter.  Often we forget that both Peter and Judas had been disloyal to Christ; the difference being that Peter repented—Judas despaired.

The great irony is that Judas might have been—dare I even say it—Saint Judas.  All he had to do was ask for forgiveness.  He was too proud.  He despaired and died wallowing in his prideful sin.

These past 40 days of Lent we have made acts of penance, fasted and cared for the poor.  Most importantly we have asked for God’s forgiveness in the wonderful Sacrament of Confession.  Last Monday countless sins were forgiven for six continuous hours by countless priests from Montauk to Manhattan, from Washington to Boston, along the eastern seaboard of the United States.  From 3PM to 9PM priests sat for hours absolving penitents of their sins for six hours without pausing.  Do you know that this custom was begun first here in the diocese of Rockville Centre by our Bishop Murphy?  Truly a great day of rejoicing for “this son of mine was lost, but now has been found.” 

How fortunate we are to have so readily available to us the sacrament of Confession here on Long Island where we are absolutely assured of God’s forgiveness; this is not the reality in all parts of the world.  A Catholic bishop tells the chilling story about the former Soviet satellite country of Belarus. When I first heard this story from a Dominican priest I felt like I got punched in the gut. The republic of Belarus proclaimed its sovereignty in 1990 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Prior to this, Joseph Stalin had a firm grip on Belarus by infiltrating Belarus’s government with Russians.  Nikita Khrushchev continued this policy after Stalin’s death in order to ensure the Godlessness of communism.  God was the enemy for the communists. Upon the sovereignty of Belarus, the Catholic church finally had access to Belarus after so many years of the communist persecution of the Catholic faith.  The first thing the people wanted was to be able to go to Confession.  They hadn’t had priests to absolve their sins for so long.  The bishop tells us that late at night the people of Belarus would climb the fences into the cemeteries and search the graves, and then they would whisper their sins to the headstone of a priest. 

Easter is about Redemption:  redeeming the sinner, finding the lost, fixing the broken, and renewing a fallen world.

Redemption can be yours…if you but ask.

The Easter Triduum

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  Holy Week contains the 3 most important days of the Church’s year:  Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.   Lent ends on Holy Thursday and the church enters into the Triduum, or “three days.”  On Holy Thursday, the feet of the 12 are washed, symbolizing Jesus’ call for us to serve others.  After the Holy Thursday evening Mass the Blessed Sacrament is carried in profound solemnity to a place of reservation where others may come to visit.  It is the long-standing tradition to visit 3 churches on Holy Thursday night.  On Good Friday, no Mass is celebrated anywhere in the entire world.  Visit any church on Good Friday and Holy Saturday and there is an existential emptiness because the Blessed Sacrament is not in any tabernacle in any church in the world.  The church is empty of God’s abiding presence.  The sanctuary lamp is extinguished.  The tabernacle door is left open.  The altar is stripped bare of everything to symbolize the death of Christ and the coldness of death.  Where would we be, had God not redeemed us in Christ Jesus?  The Son of God has died for us.  On Good Friday, all are silent from noon to 3 as Christ is upon the cross.  All Christians throughout the world gather in churches at 3PM to venerate the Holy Cross and receive Holy Communion that was consecrated the day before and kept hidden for those who may be dying and in need of Viaticum.  Finally, Christians gather throughout the world after sundown on Holy Saturday to keep vigil and await the great Mass of the Resurrection of the Savior.  A single candle carried into the dark church and soon the darkness is no more.  That candle will burn at the foot of your casket one day to guide your feet through the darkness of death to the glory of heaven.

Please do not miss immersing yourself into the ancient and sacred rituals of the Triduum.  They are 3 days like no other in the Church’s calendar.  Wherever you are, keep a profound silence from Holy Thursday until Easter Sunday.  Turn off your devices and enter into the ancient and majestic solemnity of our faith in the death and resurrection of the only Savior of the world.   

“We adore you oh Christ, and we praise you.  For by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”    

Passiontide

Why are the statues and crucifix covered?  In most Catholic churches throughout the world and over the course of the next few days you will see the main crucifix in the center of the sanctuary covered.  You will also see the statues around the church covered, with the exception of Saint Joseph, who has the distinct dispensation of not being covered during his month of March; since we’re in April, he gets covered this year.  Some churches actually remove all of the statues.  The Stations of the Cross are not covered so as to highlight the Passion of the Lord on the way to the Holy Cross. 

The covering begins in Passiontide from vespers (Evening Prayer at sundown) of the vigil of the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  The coverings in the purple color of Lent may be removed after Good Friday because Lent-proper has finished on Holy Thursday when the Triduum begins. 

So why is it done?  A few reasons:  In the Middle Ages and Renaissance many of the crosses and statues were covered in precious stones and gold.  These were appropriate gifts to give glory to God.  Even Saint Francis of Assisi said “Only the best for God.”  But during the Passiontide of Jesus those glittering jewels and gold were covered so as not to be a distraction from the gravitas of the Passion. The veiling of the Savior also expresses the humiliation to which the Savior subjected Himself.  In His Passion the Savior’s divinity was almost totally eclipsed, so great was the brutal agony and suffering of the Passion.  But also His humanity was eclipsed and covered because His face and body were so disfigured by the scourging and the wounds.  His humanity was veiled, covered and hidden by the torment of the cross.  The wounds hid and veiled both His humanity and His divinity.

But there is an even deeper meaning.

Remember that our faith is ancient and it carries with it very long traditions whose meanings sometime become obscured within history. Your family has many traditions handed down through generations, but the reason why you do those things may be lost to time.  During the gospel of the next few days you will see something definitively change about Jesus.  Jesus is now a “marked man” with a price on His head.  He may no longer move around freely for fear of being arrested.  Jesus is “going dark.”  And so Jesus “hid” Himself from those who were seeking to put Him to death.  Jesus is “hidden” or “covered” from the world until His Holy Passion and death.  He is hidden until His hour has come.  “They took up stones to cast at Him.  But Jesus hid himself…” (John 8) Lastly, in covering the cross, the glory of the Savior is now covered.  And if the glory of the Savior is covered, so too should the glory of His saints be covered.  The saints ought not outshine the Savior…so they are covered as well.  If the light of the sun were to darken, so too would every star in the heavens be darkened; for the light of the stars is dependent upon the light of the sun. The light of the saints is dependent upon the light of the Son.

Let us enter now into these final days of the Holy Passion of Our Lord.  We are mindful of the words said at every stop in the Stations of the Cross:  “We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

Come, let us accompany Him.

The Last Acceptable Prejudice

This month, 50 innocent Muslims were murdered in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Many more were hospitalized due to their injuries.  We read of the horrible atrocities inflicted upon people whose only crime was prayer.  In the name of all of the faithful parishioners from this parish, I sent flowers to the local mosque located on this same block.  I asked that the flowers be placed in the mosque so that all who visited would know that we share their grief and pray for the end to such senseless violence against humanity and against people of all faiths.

The story was the lead story in every news media outlet in the world in the days following.  The horrific story was everywhere.  Every political leader very publicly and rightly condemned this sin.  Every celestial body from Hollywood voiced protest.  Condolences and consolations were offered by everyone, everywhere. 

During the very same week, on another continent and in another part of the world, 120 Christian men, Christian women and Christian children in central Nigeria were macheted to death and slaughtered for the crime of being a Christian.  This murderous rampage against African Christians occurred at the same time.  Did you read about this?  Did you see it on the news?  Had you heard about this latest Christian massacre?  Of course, you didn’t because all of the newspaper and media outlets across America never reported it. 

Also, during that same week over 12 Catholic churches across France were desecrated.  One of the most famous Catholic churches in Paris—Saint-Sulpice—was set on fire after Mass.  Notre-Dame des Enfants was desecrated by painting a cross with human excrement as well as looting of the altar and tabernacle.  Holy Communion hosts were thrown into the dumpster, other consecrated hosts trampled underfoot.  The French government and law officials are reluctant to name those who desecrated these dozen Catholic churches.  80 percent of the desecrations of places of worship in France occur in Christian churches—on average two churches every day in France.

On our own continent, during the same week, a Catholic priest was attacked and stabbed while saying Mass at the Oratory of Saint Joseph in Montreal, Canada.  You had to hunt around to find any coverage of this attack.

The simple fact is that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world.  Seventy five percent of all religious persecution in the world—is done against Christians. 

Perhaps the reason the media never cover Christian massacres is that they are so frequent and no longer sensational enough to sell newspapers or attract viewers.  Perhaps they yawn at “just another Christian persecution”.

The world rightfully is outraged by these most recent atrocities perpetrated in New Zealand.  We join in this outrage, and we pray for all affected by such heinous sin.

Let us be just as mindful of the many more Christians throughout the world who suffer from this “last acceptable prejudice” of Anti-Christian hatred.

As a youth many of us were taught that one day we would be persecuted and suffer for our Catholic faith.  Long before that, however, it was Jesus Himself who taught us this in the Gospel of Saint John: 

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.”   John 15: 18

Lent III

One of the quietest and most moving places on earth is the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.  It is the remnant, all that remains, of the Temple of Jerusalem built by Herod the Great about 20 years before Christ, and then destroyed by the Romans around 70 AD.  The Temple of course was where Jesus was presented as an infant by Joseph and Mary.  It is where Jesus taught the teachers, and where he was found after being lost for 3 days.  It is also the sight of the gospel for the third Sunday of Lent.  Jesus was annoyed at what had become of this most holy place.

When I was a kid I was never allowed to speak in church—ever.  It was the quietest place in town.  I miss that and I still feel uneasy talking unnecessarily in church.  Sometimes I do, but in the back of my mind is the reminder that perhaps I shouldn’t be.  There is something different about Catholic Churches.  What is different is God’s real and abiding presence; independent of whether one knows it, believes it, or even likes it.    The Divine Presence is not dependent upon my consent or even my understanding.  God is simply there in that tabernacle in every Catholic Church and chapel throughout the world.

In all Catholic Churches there is a large candle near the tabernacle called the Sanctuary Lamp.  It beckons us in the dark, as a lighthouse beckons a ship that is lost.  “I’m over here!”   This is no mere auditorium, gathering space, theater or concert hall.  It is literally where God abides.  And so, we ask:  How do I act in His presence?  Do I visit Him throughout the week?  Do I spend some time with Him?  Very often throughout the day I see people stop in to spend some quiet time with the Lord.  Around our tabernacle are a few rows of seats.  I urge you to use them.  Come right up there and spend some silent time with the Lord.  He’d like to see you. Pope Benedict XVI wrote “Silence excavates and carves out an interior space in our inmost depths so that God might abide there.”  The silent time we spend digs out a place in us so that God might live there.  Pretty amazing!

This past week I brought the 7th and 8th grade Religious Education Children along with a few of their parents to a Holy Hour in the Church in the evening.  I spent a little time explaining to them about spending quite time in God’s holy presence.  I reminded them that God speaks to us in quiet.  I asked them to sit anywhere they wished in the church, but to sit quietly by themselves.  I knew this could end in disaster as I waited for all the phones to start chirping around the church.  The amazing thing is that there was absolute silence for a long time throughout the church.  I was truly amazed that the children became lost in the holy silence, since most humans are uncomfortable in silence; perhaps they had never experience silence before.  Silence is where God lives.

In the gospel for this third Sunday of Lent Jesus becomes indignant at those who ignored the Divine Presence in the Temple of the Lord.  This causes us to reflect upon our own demeanor in any Catholic Church.  Do you remember to genuflect?  Do you bow in the direction of the tabernacle?  Bowing is good.  Genuflecting is better, but please, please…never ignore Him.   

Fr. Gerard Gordon

Persevere!

On this second Sunday of Lent we are given the gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Ancient tradition holds that the Transfiguration of Jesus occurred 40 days before Good Friday.  The central figures of the Transfiguration are Jesus’ “inner circle” of apostles:  Peter, James, and John.  It is these 3 only who are present for the raising of the daughter of Jairus.  Peter was the first Pope, James was the first apostle-martyr and John was simply the favorite.  Ironically it is these 3 who wanted to avoid the cross at all costs.  Peter tried to talk Jesus out of the cross, and is thus called “Satan” by Jesus.  The brothers James and John have the nickname “Boanerges” which means “sons of thunder.”  In the gospel of Luke, while on the way to Jerusalem James, John and Jesus pass through Samaria, where the people reject Jesus’s journey because Jesus is going to the cross.  James and John want to call down fire from heaven to destroy them, thus, “sons of thunder.”

St. Thomas Aquinas believed Jesus was transfigured before these three men in order to strengthen them for what was about to happen to Jesus.  St. Thomas writes: “For a person to travel a difficult road, he must have some knowledge of the end in order to persevere.”  And so the Transfiguration takes place before the crucifixion to remove the doubt and despair that might occur as a result of the cross.  Jesus drops His humanity for the briefest moment.  Peter, James and John see a brilliant flash of the Divinity of just who this Jesus is.  Jesus is Divinity veiled in humanity.  There is more here than just a mere human being.  They received a glimpse of Jesus’ true Divine Nature to sustain them for the coming “scandal” of the cross. 

As a result, they remain silent.  They do not understand.  We are very much like them.  We only see the “human” Jesus and do not get a glimpse of the “Divine” Jesus.  Peter, James and John saw that—quicker than a flashbulb.  They were shown a glory beyond their imagining. But it must have been magnificent, because it was enough for them to persevere in the face of the “scandal” of the cross.

This second Sunday of Lent we are given this gospel of the Transfiguration so that we also might not lose heart in our trials.  Like Peter, James and John, we are given a glimpse of the target—the glorified Christ—that awaits those who remain faithful unto Him.

Keep going!

Ash Wednesday Begins Lent

Remember you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”

Not very pleasant words.  A reminder that I shall die.  Perhaps even more sobering, a reminder that I shall be judged.  That’s not very comforting.  It has been said that the gospel is meant “to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict those who are comfortable.”  The gospel is meant to trouble us.  Surely it comforts us, but during Lent it is supposed to challenge our egos and dangerous illusions about ourselves.  So often we will fail during our Lenten resolutions, but these “failures” remind us of an eternal truth—I need to be saved, by one stronger than myselfI cannot do it alone.  I need…a Savior.  And the Savior can only save the one who acknowledges that he needs to be saved.  Said the Lord:  “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  We will remind ourselves daily that we need to be saved through acts of Lenten penance:  fasting, prayers, Confession, forgiveness, sacrifice, conversion, and pardon.  Our small, daily penances and sacrifices will slowly build up our resistance and resolve so that when the big temptations come along, we will be ready to combat them.  Penance is that constant reminder that this life is only a pilgrimage; we hunger for heaven.  We were made for heaven, every human heart yearns for heaven, whether we know it or even believe it!  Settle for nothing less than heaven!  Penance prompts us not to cling to the fleeting things of this world, but to seek things eternal.

          The 6th century saint and archbishop Caesarius of Arles wrote of Lent: “With the hope of attaining eternal life, during these days of Lent, let us strive to repair in this little ship of our soul whatever through this past year has been broken or destroyed or damaged or ruined by the many storms; that is, by the waves of our sins.”  And so, we join ourselves to countless people united across the globe for the next 40 days to “fix what is broken, repair what was ruined,” so that God might find us worthy, and the ship of our soul still afloat. 

This week we begin the Lenten season by marking ourselves unmistakably with the ashes upon our forehead.  The external and very public acknowledgement that you and I are sinners in need of a Savior.  We enter now into these 40 days of Lent, after which comes the glory of Easter.  For 40 days and nights there was the great flood of Noah, followed by a beautiful new earth.  Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years, and then arrived at the beauty of the land of milk and honey.  Jesus spent 40 days and nights being tempted by the devil in the desert, and then was ministered to by the heavenly angels themselves. And it is Easter that awaits those who have passed through these 40 days of Lent.  For our salvation begins this day!  Never in history has Easter ever come before Lent.  In order to get to the magnificence that awaits us at Easter, first…Lent!

You Fool

There is a television show that is called “Storage Wars” or something like that.  The premise of the show is based upon those ubiquitous storage buildings that have sprung up around the country.  Apparently, Americans have so much junk and stuff in excess that their houses are not big enough to hold it all.  Someone has made a fortune in setting up storage facilities around the county where they will hold all your excess treasures in case you need access to them.  I don’t really get it, since I throw everything away; I’m not a keeper. 

            So, back to our show:  the premise of “Storage Wars” is that you have groups of people bidding on a storage bin without knowing what is inside.  It seems to be the new version of “Let’s Make a Deal” from our youth.  (“What’s behind curtain number 2 Monty?”)  Not knowing what is inside the storage bin people make bets to purchase the unknown.  Apparently last week a man in Oklahoma bid $500 on a storage bin with unknown content.  When he opened the storage bin there were the expected broken chairs, bean bags, glasses, plates and tools.  Then the new owner opened an old bag sitting in the corner of the bin he found $7,000,000 in cash!  Someone, somewhere was an ignorant fool to have never looked inside that bag.

            One of the great things about the Catholic Church is our history and tradition which goes back beyond Christ, deep into our Jewish roots.  We call this “The Treasury of the Church.”  We are an ancient lot which have millennia of traditions, stories, customs and history that have survived the test of time.  While so many have come and gone, the Church is still here—sometimes in spite of the harm that we have inflicted upon ourselves.  Just the fact that the Church endures, is proof that God has to be in charge and with his Divine hand on the tiller steering us through history.  Napoleon Bonaparte once bragged to the Pope that he had the power to destroy the church.  One of the cardinals, under his breath, said “Good luck your majesty, if the clergy haven’t destroyed it, you probably won’t get far.”  It is a glib line, but there is a kernel of truth in that the promise of Christ was that no power on earth could destroy the Church—even our self-inflicted wounds.

            Which brings me to my point.  The Church is the custodian of the treasures of faith and history; our traditions, customs and sacramental practices.  We have been given the many gifts of God—in particular the Sacraments—to get us to heaven.  If you are baptized and have received your Sacraments you have been given already the treasures of the Church to assist you in attaining salvation.  But so many people, indeed far too many people, go through life and never open up and delve into those treasures given to assist us.  Like all that money, it is left in a bag that someone never opened in order to find all that was necessary to get through this life.

            I asked my friend when he was going to have his 2 little children baptized.  He told me he was going to wait and let them decide on their own.  I asked him if he let them choose their own doctors.  He got the point.  I always encourage young people to be absolutely sure of what it is they are discarding when they walk away from their faith; sadly, they have never even investigated their faith, yet they will throw it away into the trash.

            In the Sacraments God places before us all those tools and gifts necessary to get us to heaven:  The Eucharist as food for the journey,” Baptism to wash away original sin and bring us into the church, Anointing of the Sick to give us strength in our suffering, Vocations to help us commit ourselves to living the Gospel message and Penance for when we stray from God. 

            You already have those gifts.  Open them up.  You have everything you need. Use those gifts, use those sacraments; they are inexhaustible.