Today’s feast is the oldest celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic Church. Today we conclude the octave of Christmas by celebrating the woman who kept the Christmas story in her heart. While the new beginning celebrated by New Year’s Day may take precedence in the mind of most people, today’s feast is wrapped up in the Roman concept of an octave, that is, the eighth day, which is a symbol of fulfillment or completion. January 1 rounds out the celebration of Christmas with its emphasis on the divine becoming human. The Word of God could only take on our human nature through the cooperation of the Virgin Mother. Her yes made the birth of Christ a reality. As Mother of God and role model in the faith, Mary is a constant reminder to us all of the importance of saying yes to God, of allowing God’s will be done in our lives. Mary teaches us all that with God, “nothing will be impossible.”
Friday, December 23, 2011
Today we celebrate the greatest Christmas gift of all - Jesus. God so loved us; he gave us his only Son. We gather as families and parish to celebrate God becoming one of us through Jesus. Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes came into this world to set us free from sin and death. He rules the spirits of believers all over the world. He brings peace to those whose hearts are heavy. He brings hope to those who live in darkness, whose good deeds go unnoticed and whose love goes without reward. As we exchange and open gifts this Christmas, remember the greatest gift that God gave us - His very self.
Fr. Russell and I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas. Together with all our parish staff and employees, we pray in eager anticipation of God’s gifts in the new year to come.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Next weekend we celebrate Christmas, the festival of our Savior’s birth. Today’s readings prepare us for the coming of Christ, as one born in time, a man like us in all things but sin. Today we hear the story of the annunciation - the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that God wants her to be a special mother. We look to Mary as our example. As Mary said Yes to God, we pray for the grace to say yes to Christ at every moment of our lives.
As we come to the end of this Advent season, let us take some time in prayer to open ourselves to the will of God. Prayer is a wonderful tool of our faith. Prayer can transform our lives. Jesus doesn’t want us to pray because we have to. He wants us to pray because he loves us and likes talking to us. With prayer we can truly say yes to God.
Today we welcome Fr. Sam Esposito, our Vicar, who will celebrate the 11:00 AM Mass.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Gaudete! Rejoice! This is Gaudete Sunday and gaudete means rejoice. We celebrate joyfully today as we are that much closer to the coming Christ. Ironically, with the long Advent season, Christmas is literally still two weeks away. Yet we have much to be joyful for. We hear “Rejoice” in the first and second readings. In the Gospel, John the Baptist’s voice resounds with a call for holiness and justice so Jesus, our joy, might find a worthy welcome within us. John is also pointing to Jesus the light, the one who comes to enlighten all and to shine the brightness of judgment on the works of darkness. To endure this light, we must make straight the way of the Lord in our own lives.
Next Sunday, we will welcome Fr. Sam Esposito, our Vicar, who will celebrate the 11:00 AM Mass.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
On this Second Sunday of Advent, our Gospel today takes us down to the banks of the Jordan River; it is here where we encounter John, the “herald in the desert.” God sent John the Baptist to announce the coming of Jesus. In the same way, God calls each of us to fulfill some mission in our life.
Advent is a time for renewal, rebirth and conversion. We are waiting for Emmanuel, thus we must be active in our faith. Every moment of our lives can be a place of an encounter with God. During this season of Advent, let us open our hearts for Christ’s coming. The more we prepare the more Christ is made visible in our daily lives.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Happy New Year! Today is an exciting day in our parish as well in liturgical history. Not only is it the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of a new Church Year; it is the inauguration of the full implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal; as well as the beginning of our Parish Mission with Fr. Ben Cameron. With the help of the Holy Spirit I am sure we will manage all this excitement! Mark’s Gospel reminds us all to be on guard, as a watchman for the night. This is echoed so beautifully in today’s preface (prayer before the Eucharistic Prayer), as it prays “that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for the day may inherit the great promise in which we now dare to hope.”
Also please try to make some time this week to attend our Parish Mission. What a wonderful time to be renewed. We all could use a spiritual booster. Our parish welcomes Father Ben Cameron, a Father of Mercy. He will be challenging us to grow in love as we focus on God during our Parish Spiritual Renewal.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Cicero said a long time ago, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.” Yes, we have much to be thankful for. This weekend in our second collection we thank the retired religious who dedicated their lives to Christ and to the service of others. Today we thank Jesus for coming to us in the Eucharist. The word Eucharist literally means, “to give thanks." On this feast of Christ the King we have an opportunity this afternoon to say thank you to Jesus by spending some quiet time before Him in the Blessed Sacrament. On Tuesday evening the Union Presbyterian Church is hosting the annual Montour Association of Churches Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service. It is at this service that we as a community of believers can give thanks to God in a special way. On Thursday, we celebrate our national feast of Thanksgiving and as a nation we have the opportunity to thank God for what we are and all that we have. Yes, we have much to be thankful for, so please remember to thank God for the many blessings we have in our lives. “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice” (Meister Eckhart).
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The word “talent” in today’s parable was used at the time of Jesus to describe an actual unit of money. Since the mid-fourteenth century that same word has also been used to describe a natural skill or ability. Of course, many of us turn our skills and abilities into cash through our work. Our “talents” become a means of business through which we earn a living. So the connection of the word to money has never really been lost. A question for us today might be: In what ways do I put my talents – money and abilities – at the service of God?
Friday, November 4, 2011
If we wrote down our ten most important priorities in life, “preparing for the second coming of Jesus and the end time” might not be too high on our list. Most of us are content to refer that experience to some faroff time in the distant future. However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us to be prepared, for we “know neither the day nor the hour.” Starting this week, our liturgies switch the emphasis and point a finger towards the end-time and trying to describe what the reign of God is like. We are reminded that we are a people in hope and expectation for the coming of Jesus. Those among us who are truly wise live and order our lives accordingly.
Friday, October 28, 2011
During the month of November we remember our loved ones who have died and we also pray for their souls. This is a time for us to reflect on the saints of God - those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. Each week at Mass, we pray in the Nicene Creed: “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” As Christians we see beyond this world and with hope we can see a new world with God. We are to have hope in the resurrection and not to grieve like others who have no hope. We should look toward the resurrection of the dead. For we know that life is changed, not ended.
This Wednesday our parish will have a special All Souls Remembrance Mass. At this Mass parishioners who died during the past year will be remembered. This is a very uplifting Mass for all present - it is a time for all to share in the loss of a loved one as well as a shared time of grief and a time of hope. As a parish we realize we are not alone in our loss and this Mass acknowledges how many have made the journey in one year from death to new life.
Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
We often hear it said that a functioning government and a healthy economy need the rule of law. Without the law bribery, corruption, favoritism, and worse are given free reign. In today’s Gospel, Matthew continues with his portrayal of Jesus as the new Moses, who transmitted the law of God to the Hebrew people at Mt. Sinai. When confronted by a scholar of the law, Jesus becomes the lawgiver. The commandments are two: love God and love your neighbor. We Christians are to observe these laws above all others. They are the laws that will lead us to life.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” What obligations and commitments do we have that potentially conflict with our call to discipleship? God patiently waits for each of us to respond to his call. We have to focus our attention on priorities. Isaiah reminds us that God is the Lord, and that there is no other. God should be number one in our attitudes and actions.
Jesus is the perfect example of one who knew how to return to God what is God’s. He worked in faith. He labored in love, selflessly giving his life for us. He endured in hope until his last breath. Jesus continues to give himself in every Eucharist. In imitation of Jesus, we give to God what is God’s when we give him the gift of ourselves, entirely, daily, lovingly, willingly, faithfully. How well have we given to God what belongs to God?
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Thanks to all who helped make our Parish Nationality Festival a great success, especially the dedicated workers who worked in the booths, the children’s games, entertainment, sponsors, setter-uppers, cleaner-uppers, tear-downers and most of all to God for providing us this opportunity to work together. Everyone working together is what makes our parish festival so great. Thank you for all you do for the parish. Dziekuje! Merci beaucoup! Gracias! Danka!
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Today we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. All members of our parish are invited to recommit themselves to fashioning a culture of life. Blessed John Paul II highlighted our identity and mission in his encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae": “We are the people of life and for life, and that is how we present ourselves to everyone” (No. 78). Prayer and witness are key to fashioning a renewed and strong culture of life.
It is Festival time! The pierogies have been pinched, the shells have been stuffed, the cabbage rolls have been rolled, the raffle tickets are incoming, there are some new kids games, and even Elvis is coming into the building. Aren’t you excited? This is a great time for the parish to come together, work together, have some fun, and celebrate a long tradition of St. Malachy Parish. Come out to eat, to work, to meet old friends, to make new friends and to make this a very successful Festival. See you there!
Friday, September 23, 2011
The Gospel parable this weekend is a reminder that God is always giving us an opportunity to respond to the invitation to salvation. But, we must respond. In the parable, the one son never acted upon his father’s request, while the other at first ignored it, but then later changed his mind. We cannot ignore God. We may put off our response, or we may find some excuse for not acting on God’s invitation right away, but to ignore God forever leaves us without hope. The way of righteousness lies before us. We only have to choose to act.
Thank you to Bishop Zubik and the Deacon Class of 2013 for blessing our parish with your presence as you received the Ministry of Acolyte. May God bless these faith-filled men.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
God’s thoughts, the prophet Isaiah tells us today, are not our thoughts and God’s ways are not our ways! It is so easy to forget this, to think we have a corner on the market of understanding and explaining God. The parable Jesus tells in today’s Gospel clearly reminds us that we don’t. God doesn’t think at all like we do if we are to believe he is like the landowner Jesus describes. This rather bothersome parable is not about good hiring practices. Often people are upset about the unfairness of the treatment of the laborers who worked all day. Read through a business person’s eyes, the parable is a horror! But God’s ways are not our ways. God delights in being generous; God delights in giving more, not less. Experiencing God’s generosity changes who we are and the way we see our lives. Thus dwell on all God has done for you and rejoice; give thanks. If you see others receiving blessings like you have, or more than you have - rejoice! Give thanks.
Friday, September 9, 2011
On this tenth anniversary of 9/11 our Sunday readings have a lot to say to us about forgiveness. Please take some extra time this day and reread our readings. Sirach says, “Wrath and anger are hateful things.” We all know so well that many evils have been done in the name of justice and retribution. We must be above an eye for an eye and be people who are kind and merciful, slow to anger and rich in compassion as our Lord is. Sirach also reminds us “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.” We who live for Christ must live as Christ lived: in compassion, in mercy, and in love. Thus do we show that we are indeed the Lord’s.
I wish to share a beautiful piece called “Christ in the Rubble” by Benedictines Genevieve Glen and Tobias Colgan.
O Christ, beneath the fallen stones,
Nailed fast to twisted bars of steel,
And slain in flesh and blood and bones,
Pierced by the fear all mortals feel:
Arise from ash and dust and death,
And breathe into crushed hearts new Breath.
O Christ, within a world at war,
Where love and hate fight for the soul,
And all sights trained on death see far,
But only love can see the whole:
Arise from unforgiving pain,
And teach us how to love again.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
In the Gospel readings of this weekend and next we will hear that the work of forgiveness and reconciliation does not come easily. This week Jesus insists that we must seek reconciliation first by seeking out the one who has harmed us. Only then do we bring it to the larger community. Reconciliation is hard work, something to reflect on as we also celebrate Labor Day. While the holiday gives us a chance to relax, we can never take a break from fostering a spirit of unity and harmony. Reconciliation is our work as baptized Christians.
Next weekend, our parish welcomes Fr. Paul Farin from Cross International Catholic Outreach. Cross International Catholic Outreach is working to establish a stronger spiritual relationship between America’s Catholic parishes and their counterparts overseas - with the ultimate goal of helping the poorest of the poor. Parishes in underdeveloped countries represent more than an important source of spiritual truth for their community. They also stand as a beacon of hope for impoverished families who have nowhere else to turn for help. We all can make a difference in the lives of our least brothers and sisters in the Third World.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
There’s a sign posted on the fence along a rural highway. Beyond the fence is a ranch house in the distance. The sign indicates that the property owners must be church-going people. It says: “PRAYER is the best way to meet the Lord.” Underneath that line, it says: “TRESPASSING is faster!”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows the disciples that while it might be nice for him to continue to pray, teach and heal, he must instead go to Jerusalem and be killed. Jesus is called to trespass against the ways of the day in order to bring new life to all humankind.
Jesus tells his disciples that his own death is a mirror for what must happen in their lives. Each person must take up the cross and follow. What that means in daily life for each person will be different since our cross is our own. But accepting it and carrying it is what is means to follow Jesus.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
At first glance today’s Gospel may seem to have two parts to it: Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus and Jesus’ commission to Peter as “rock” of the Church. But what is revealed in this scene from St. Matthew’s Gospel with Peter is really what happens in the life of each Christian.
Peter professes his faith; Jesus gives him a job. For each and everyone of us it is the same. We profess our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and then we get a commission.
Living the Christian life is not just standing up and saying, “I believe in Jesus.” Living the Christian life is also being empowered by the Holy Spirit to share God’s love through our actions of care for others; it is using the Spirit’s gifts to tell others about Christ; it is acting as a reconciler, bringing people closer together as one family of God.
We are still divided, and the struggle seems almost eternal, but we should see that living faith - being loyal to Jesus - as a door that leads to a permanent solution.
Friday, August 12, 2011
What could a stranger expect of us? How would we react if a foreigner asked us for assistance? Jesus is set upon by a Canaanite woman in the Gospel this weekend and in the end, because of her faith, he heals her daughter. He responds to the woman’s need, even though she is not of his people. While the saying “Charity begins at home,” is true, sometimes we are called to respond to the needs of humankind in distant places and foreign lands. In the end, because we are all children of God, no one is a foreigner to us.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Plenty of people have been going through turbulent times. There are plenty of folks who can relate to the experience of the disciples in the boat. Just as Peter and the rest were being tossed about, there are many whose lives have been turned topsy-turvy by the economy, by illness, by unemployment, by war. Peter’s words to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” have certainly found their echo in many households in these troubled days. Our faith tells us that the Lord does indeed reach out to save us, even if we are not aware of it right away.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
As we journey through life as Jesus’ disciples, have you ever thought to yourself, “I have nothing else to give!” or “I am burned out”? If you do, then our readings this weekend will be an oasis, a place and time to stop, to pray, to focus and become centered again in God.
The prophet Isaiah initiates the process of healing by reminding us that we have a standing invitation by God, who desires to nourish the weary, the thirsty, and the poor. God will tend both physical and spiritual needs, and asks only that we listen so that we might have life and be renewed. Too often, our weariness and discouragement come from the tendency to think that we alone are responsible; we alone have the resources; that we are somehow irreplaceable or indispensable. In his wisdom, Isaiah assures us otherwise, and reminds us that everything we have to give has first been given to us by God – freely, generously and unconditionally.
Every time we come to Mass to celebrate the Eucharist we come to eat, we come to listen, and we are fed. With the bread of the word and the bread of life, our bodies and spirits are nourished and renewed. It is good that we share these good gifts with others. As we leave our beautiful church, we carry away with us the resources that we will need for the week ahead. What word will we carry with us to feed upon during the coming week? How can we best share this word so that others may also eat and be satisfied? How will the bread of life we have eaten change us and inspire our service to others?
Friday, July 22, 2011
Buried treasure, pearls, and fishing nets are all images of God’s kingdom that Jesus uses in today’s parables. One theme that winds its way through the parables is the absolute commitment required by those who would be part of the kingdom of God. The treasure seeker and the pearl merchant both go and sell all that they have. In Matthew’s Gospel, following Jesus cannot be a halfhearted measure. Disciples must jump in with both feet and accept the teaching of Jesus with all their strength and all their will. These are the
people who will be collected by the angels at the end of time.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Jesus communicates the mysteries of God’s kingdom through parables. Unlike a riddle that makes us laugh, a parable is meant to make us think. It both reveals and conceals, offering us first a flash of insight and then leaving us wondering whether we have really understood the message. Often Jesus’ parables reveal as much about the hearers as they do about the kingdom. How we receive them brings to light whether we are willing to accept and grapple with mystery or whether we would just as soon abandon it because it lies beyond our understanding and control.
The parable of the weeds and the wheat is a cautionary tale, meant to encourage believers in the practice of virtue. St. Matthew does not avoid the possibility that people may not accept the message of Jesus. And there are consequences for those who do not. Jesus gives practical, concrete instructions on how to live as a citizen of the kingdom. The beatitudes are one part of that and the corporal works of mercy form another part of Jesus’ message.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
This weekend we hear the parable of the sower and the seed. Jesus teaches the disciples that when his parables are seen and heard with the eyes of faith, then they are understood and, in turn, bear good fruit and true blessings.
One need not be a botanist to know how to tend to plants. They need light, water and nourishment. Plant life flourishes under the right conditions. Our Lord continually scatters the seeds of faith and the nourishment for its growth. The sower never stops showering us with his graces, blessings and love. When the message of Jesus is accepted, it grows into a life of faith witness. The sacraments of the Church and prayer sustain its growth. The Holy Spirit provides the enlightenment needed for faith to flourish amidst the challenges of our sinfulness. The Lord’s part is perfect; it is our response that usually needs the attention. We need to tune in to what the Lord offers and respond in faith. Where is God’s word planted in us today?
Monday, July 4, 2011
This weekend we return to the Sundays of ordinary time – notice the green vestment. We also get back to St. Matthew’s Gospel. Between now and Thanksgiving we will hear from St. Matthew’s Gospel. The words of Jesus in this week’s Gospel are a prayer and an invitation. Since it is Independence Day weekend, we reflect on how the invitation of Jesus, “Come to me you who labor and are burdened,” parallels the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.” As our ancestors came to this country to seek a new life, many of them came to be free of the burdens they experienced in their homelands. This new country provided new freedoms, especially a spiritual freedom. Freedom of religion in our country allows us to choose where and how we will worship God. Exercising this right makes our country and our faith stronger.
As we gather around the altar of the Lord we remember how our heavenly Father was revealed to us through Jesus who paid the ultimate price for us and our spiritual freedom. With no fireworks, only the work of our hands, with no picnics, only bread and wine, with no parades, only a Communion procession, we remember Jesus. We might not label him a hero, but his words and actions have truly set us free. As we gather to celebrate our nation’s birthday and our nation’s freedoms let us also remember how our Lord lifts our burdens and makes us free.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we are reminded that Jesus makes himself truly present in the Eucharistic Mystery, which is renewed on every altar in the world. Pope John Paul II reminded us that in commemorating this solemnity, the Church “does not only celebrate the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.” We rejoice in this expression of our Eucharistic affection in order to deepen our attachment to the unique and unending vent that transforms our lives. As the Sequence for Corpus Christi begs: “Jesus, of Your love befriend us, You refresh us, You defend us, Your eternal goodness send us in the land of life to see.”
Today the Most Blessed Sacrament will be present on our altar after the 11:00 AM Mass until 2:30 PM when there will be prayers, a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Please come and make some prayer time with our Eucharistic Lord. He will appreciate that!
Friday, June 17, 2011
There is a story told about St. Augustine, who one day was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Holy Trinity. He came upon a boy who was digging a hole in the sand. The boy was pouring water from the sea into the hole. When St. Augustine asked him what he was doing, the lad explained, “I am going to pour the ocean into this hole.” “That’s impossible,” St. Augustine declared. “The whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made.” The boy quickly replied, “And you cannot fit the Holy Trinity into your head.” The legend then says the boy vanished, leaving St. Augustine to wonder if he had been talking to an angel.
The Holy Trinity simply expressed is love. As we contemplate and celebrate the Holy Trinity today, let us consider all the dimensions and expressions of love that the Holy Trinity reveals to us. As we celebrate Father’s Day let us also pray for and thank our fathers for the love they have expressed to us.
Friday, June 10, 2011
For the last fifty days, we have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised to send to the apostles the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, the helper that would guide them in their mission. Today, Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the apostles. Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on Jesus’ apostles.The vivid story in the Acts of the Apostles, in which the Holy Spirit comes as a mighty wind and is seen as tongues of flame, is told each year. This year’s Gospel is a repeat of what we heard on the second Sunday of Easter, the extended version of which included the story of Thomas. But today we only hear of the risen Lord’s appearance on Easter night. He breathes on his disciples and he strengthens them with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit that we received at our baptism and our confirmation. It is the Holy Spirit that will give us the words we need to use to proclaim Jesus is the Lord and the prayers we need to pray when we find that we do not know how to pray. Thank the Holy Spirit today!
Saturday, June 4, 2011
We wait in these days between the Ascension and Pentecost much like the disciples of Jesus waited. The difference is that we are not locked away in some upper room, fearful of what may occur. Even though we await the celebration of Pentecost, we already know that the gift of the Spirit has been poured out on all who have been baptized. That same Spirit that strengthened and encouraged the apostles is already active in us. As we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus prays for his followers who are in the world. We have his promise that he is with us in all we do.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Jesus promises that he will give the Holy Spirit to be with his followers as an Advocate and guide. This Spirit is with us always and dwells within us. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God in the baptized. We are not left alone. Christ has not abandoned us after his resurrection and ascension. Rather, the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit remains with us to guide us in fulfilling the commands of Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us love beyond measure and enables us to share our faith in Christ with others.
I know I am very appreciative of the gift of the Holy Spirit. As I celebrate twenty-four years of priesthood and fifty-one years of life it has been the Holy Spirit that has graced me with all that I have. My parents brought me into this world and set a wonderful example of faith and love for me. My teachers filled me with the enthusiasm to learn all that I can. My parish assignments have helped me to see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the people of God. When I reflect on my life and my vocation it truly has been the Holy Spirit at work that has shaped and formed me. Thank the Holy Spirit for dwelling in you.
This weekend we also remember and thank those who gave their lives in service of our nation so that we may have the freedoms we have. The ultimate sacrifice of life is also a great gift for us to be mindful of and to be thankful for. Do you see why Jesus did what he did for us?
Monday, May 23, 2011
We are anxious about many things. At times our world can seem to be spinning out of control. It seems we need some kind of direction. In today’s Gospel we hear words of comfort when Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and “I am the way.”
We know that no one lives a life without troubles. Even when we feel successful, we can look back at times in which we may have been overwhelmed with difficulties. It is just part of our human condition. As much as we would always like everything to go perfectly, that is not the reality in which we live. We can let our hearts be troubled or we can have faith in God and faith in Jesus. Faith is always a choice. Faith is the leap that Jesus will show us the best way to go. It is Jesus who brings us truth and who promises new life for us. This is our reward when we trust Jesus.
Today we pray for our high school graduates that they may not be anxious about their future. We pray that they will listen to Jesus’ words: “Do not be troubled, have faith in God; have faith also in me.”
Saturday, May 14, 2011
In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the example of a shepherd who calls his own flock out from the mixed flocks in the sheepfold. His sheep “follow him because they know his voice.” We hear many voices calling to us in our lives. The voice of the Gospel urges us to learn to recognize the voice of our Shepherd, Jesus, as he calls us to follow him and “to have life and to have it more abundantly.”
Recently I completed a two-year course called, “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds." In this course I learned some very important skills in order to be a better shepherd. As a priest I am challenged to know my parishioners more closely, to call them by name, to care for their needs, to keep them from harm. To put it frankly, I am to be a pastor, not a mere administrator; a steward, not a mere financier; I am to be a servant who listens and not a supervisor who merely dictates. Basically we are all challenged in all we do and say, to bear witness to the true Shepherd we call Good.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
On this Mother’s Day I wish to extend to all mothers of our parish a very blessed Mother’s Day. May our dear Blessed Mother Mary pray for all our mothers living and deceased. A mother’s influence on a child is great. It is especially great during the child’s early years. We pray for our mothers that God will continue to bless our mothers with His gentle strength to care for our families, to shape us and influence us by using wisely the unique gifts found only in mothers. We pledge our support to all mothers as we join them in seeing the hope of eternal life shine on us, their children.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
God’s mercy is abundant. When he appears to his disciples in the evening of the first day of the week, Jesus gives them the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. But Thomas needs to see Jesus to believe that he is truly risen. Some people have a difficult time believing in God’s merciful love. But the promise that God gives through the risen Christ is that his love is without end. We don’t need to see Jesus to believe it. Expressions of God’s mercy and love can be found each day in the community of faith.
This Sunday, 48 of our young people will receive Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. This is a special time of grace, a special time for the child, a special time for the family and a special time for our parish. This time is special because Holy Communion is Jesus’ sign of love for us. Jesus was willing to give his life on the cross and he was willing to give his very self in Holy Communion for us. Jesus is truly merciful. We are called to follow Jesus’ example by being merciful to one another. To recite Jesus’ law of love means nothing; to live it is everything. What sacrifice of love are we willing to show one another?
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Alleluia! Christ is risen! A blessed Easter to all. With Christians everywhere we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. On behalf of Fr. Russell, myself, and the staff of St. Malachy Parish we wish all of you a very blessed Easter. We also rejoice with the newly baptized who have plunged into the waters of rebirth and have risen to new life in Christ. As we renew our own baptism we recommit ourselves to the faith that unites us to dying to sin and rising to life in Christ Jesus. In the fifty days of Easter we will celebrate that new life, shedding our Lenten practices and rejoicing that we are freed from sin and death through the power of the risen Lord. Alleluia!
We also welcome to our parish community Anthony Lance. He was baptized, confirmed and received Jesus in the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. May God bless him and may he be assured that our continued prayers are with him.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Our high holy days are upon us! Our Palm Sunday celebration today begins Holy Week. You will find a complete schedule of events leading us to the Holy Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil and Easter liturgies in the bulletin and on the web site.
The Easter Vigil is the focal point of the entire Church year. In remembering the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, we proclaim our death to sin and our rising to new life in Jesus. Plunged into the waters of baptism, we emerge refreshed and enlivened to help God do the work of the Church. The best gift we can give our families and ourselves is a prayerful participation in the liturgies of the Holy Triduum. Let us walk with and pray with Jesus as we celebrate the events marking the beginning of our salvation. Let us ask God to strengthen us so we can continue the work begun by Jesus our Savior.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
When a loved one dies, we could all wish that Jesus would be around to raise them again to life just as he raised Lazarus from the tomb. But today’s Gospel is not about Jesus granting wishes like some magical genie. In the course of his conversations with Martha and Mary, Jesus is actually revealing to his followers core truths about the resurrection. Because those who believe in him will never die, the resurrection is more than just walking around on this earth. It is a completely new kind of life – a life that will never end.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
The journey from darkness to light, from blindness to sight, is found in all our readings this weekend. Samuel learns that even prophets need to have their eyesight checked. A man born blind comes to sight twice when Jesus lays hands on him. And a community is told that, though they were once darkness, now they are light in the Lord.
We walk in darkness, blind to our own shortcomings and the needs of others. We are called to move from darkness to sight. Jesus lights up our way, curing our blindness and leading us to his kingdom. He desires us to leave our blindness and receive sight. He sees the truth about who we are and asks us to live in that truth. This season of Lent is the perfect time to ask our Lord to help us to move from the comfort of darkness into his wonderful light.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Have you ever been truly thirsty? We live in an area where there is plenty of water. Imagine being in a desert with cracked lips, head aching; these come from going without water for an extended period of time. Those who have had such a thirst can easily be grateful for water. Today, Moses, the Israelites and the woman at the well call on us to consider the experience of thirst and to use that experience to deepen our longing for the God who alone can satisfy every human thirst.
Jesus quenches our spiritual thirst with the living water of grace: the love of God which is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. We should remain true to our baptism and hope that this living water will turn into a spring inside us, welling up to eternal life.
Friday, March 18, 2011
We get a reminder of where we are headed right at the beginning of Lent. The Transfiguration is a glimpse of the Resurrection. St. Thomas Aquinas called this the greatest miracle of Jesus because through it we clearly see Jesus as God. Our participation in the Resurrection is the goal of our belief. When we were baptized we died to sin and rose to new life in Christ. Every year the season of Lent is a time for us, Christians, to prepare to renew our baptismal promises at Easter. This weekend’s Gospel directs us to recognize that the ultimate goal of our belief is a full share in the life of the risen Christ. The Transfiguration calls us to rediscover Jesus’ divine light in our lives.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray for forty days. While he was there the devil tempted him. Temptations are part of life. Desire can drive our existence. That’s not always bad. The desire to achieve, to accomplish, to excel can be very healthy. Lacking this kind of motivation can be problematic in life, even leading to depression. But when desire overtakes us, it can develop into a greed that wants more and more. Self-absorbed attitudes can easily get the best of us.
Lenten fasting is meant to tame that desire, to pull in the uncontrolled attempts to fulfill all wants. We have been given another Lent to do some serious work. The goal of Lent is about conversion; changing and reestablishing ourselves anew. Giving something up for the next six weeks can remind a person that even though God created everything good, we don’t have to possess it all to be happy.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
On Ash Wednesday we begin the season of Lent by receiving ashes on our forehead. Receiving ashes in the shape of a cross identifies us as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The ashes also serve as reminders of human mortality and the need for repentance and change in our lives. This day is a time for fasting and abstaining from meat. We begin the forty-day season of Lent by keeping our sights on Jesus’ victory over death on Easter. Lent is a time for change – changing our lives to be more Christ-like. Lent is a time when we make space in our lives to think about our relationship with our heavenly Father and the ways in which we are responding or failing to respond to his love and care for us. This desire to change our lives toward God and away from sin finds outward expression in various ways: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, reading the Bible, praying the Rosary, following the Stations of the Cross, spiritual reading, going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
This Lent, when we receive ashes, keep in mind that it is an invitation to repent, a challenge to grow closer to the Lord, and a gentle reminder that our time on earth is limited.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
I remember my high school physics teacher saying often, “That life is too short to worry. It all comes out in the wash.” A buddy of mine amended that quote with “But sometimes we need to add more detergent.” Even Jesus said not to worry. How is it then that we spend a lot of our life worrying about things we have no control over. Our lives can be devastated by worry. Ask someone who has an ulcer. Why can’t we just “let go and let God?”
Today’s gospel reminds us not to worry about tomorrow but to trust in God’s providence. Jesus is calling us to surrender all our anxieties and insecurities to God. Through faith and trust in God’s providence, we can become better able to turn life’s pages one by one, to live each day as if it were our last, to set aside yesterday’s regrets and to deal with tomorrow’s troubles only when tomorrow becomes today. Let us then pray for the grace to believe that it might be possible to replace worry with trust.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
There is a saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Whether friend or enemy, the life of faith, is about relationships and how we choose to live them. In the Gospel we are told to turn the other cheek, to live in the face of hatred, to love our enemies. Jesus offers a choice that differs from the conventional wisdom of the world. The real spirit of Jesus’ teaching is in the beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” St. Francis of Assisi said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
Jesus is trying to instill in us a holiness that is above our understanding, yet within our grasp by his grace. As believers in Jesus we are called beyond the law and beyond even the most generous ethical humanism to a perfection that reflects the true spirit of Jesus. This is a holiness that prevents revenge and retaliation while bringing forth a love that can only come from Christ alone. We, for our part, are to welcome this love and decide by the strength of that love living in us, to take Jesus at his word.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Our readings for this Sunday may appear very hard. We don’t like anyone telling us how to behave. Our Psalmist reminds us that those who follow the law of the Lord are blessed. Laws are written to keep order in our society. Law restricts us to live within the bounds of human society so that one person’s individual actions do not impinge on another’s. Speed limits and stop signs are simple examples of this. Following those laws ensures safe driving for all who use the roads. Lacking such laws would make it risky to step out of the house.
Jesus expects his followers to go beyond the minimum standards set by the law. Think about how you felt the last time someone courteously gave way to you at a four-way stop. That simple gesture goes beyond the requirements of law. So should all of our actions.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
At our baptism, we were entrusted with a baptismal candle and told to keep the light of Christ bravely burning in our hearts. We are reminded by today’s readings not to hide that light, but to use it to help transform the darkness of this world. Jesus equated the good deeds we do for others with the light that enables others to see and believe and glorify God. This wonderful light comes from Jesus, for it is Christ who shines in us for the world to see. By being that light of Christ we help others find their way to Jesus. Now that is a great light.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
It is that time of year again (no, not the Super Bowl), Catholic Schools Week. This is the week in which Catholic Schools have the opportunity to show off all the good things that they do and to remind us what an importance that Catholic education adds to the child, the family, the parish, the community as well as the nation. Because of their traditionally high academic standards and high graduation rates, all supported by strong moral values, Catholic schools and their graduates make many positive contributions to American society every day. We are blessed here at St. Malachy Parish to have a fine school. Of course it is not easy to keep the school going but the support of parents, staff and parishioners as well as the many sacrifices made make our school possible. I thank my parents for their sacrifice in providing me a Catholic school education. We are grateful for this opportunity to pass on our faith to the next generation. This is what Catholic schools provide. Please pray for our students, our faculty, our volunteers and all who help our school.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Human life is sacred because God created us in his own image and likeness. As our Creator He alone is the Lord of Life; therefore, no one can claim the right to intentionally destroy another human being. Each and every person must be respected. Human life must be protected absolutely from the moment of creation - the moment of conception. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer. 1:5). The miracle of life is something to be greatly respected and praised.
This Saturday, January 22 marks the 38th annual Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in our country. On Monday, January 24 hundreds of thousands of people from across our country will march peacefully upon our nation’s capital to speak up for the unborn child and the miracle of life. Our attendance at the March for Life is our way to say to our government leaders and to the American public that we honor those children who have died; and we will continue to work for legislation to protect all life, from conception through natural death.
Pope John Paul II said, “Do not be afraid of being witnesses to the dignity of every human being, from the moment of conception until death.”
Even though you may not be able to attend the March, please pray for respect for all life. Life is precious, life is a gift from God, and may we never forget this precious gift of life.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The words of John the Baptist that we hear in today’s Gospel, “Behold the Lamb of God," are familiar to us, because we hear them at every Mass just before we receive Holy Communion. John’s proclamation about Jesus has become the invitation to Holy Communion in our liturgy. For us today, those words are more than just singling out someone who was walking along the Jordan River. These words are now a profession of faith in what we do at every Mass. For in Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Don’t all parents wonder what their child will be? Isn’t every mom and dad filled with hope for their son or daughter? With most Catholics baptized as infants, it is the faith of the parents that nurtures the child as he or she grows to maturity. Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River was another manifestation of his human and divine natures. He was revealed as the “Beloved Son.” In this, he was not so different from any son or daughter who is being raised today. The challenge for parents is to help their children understand the meaning of the divine life that is theirs.
In the baptismal rite we hear the words: “God the Father has freed you from sin, given you new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.” By our baptism we are challenged to sanctify the places where we live and work. We, the people of God, live the Jesus we know through goodness and kindness.