Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

When we celebrate Christmas we honor the birth of Christ come in the flesh to dwell among us. But like any child in this world, he is born into a family. The Christian value of family life is highlighted this day when we pray in the opening prayer by asking God to help us imitate the example of the Holy Family by practicing the virtues of family life and the bonds of charity. It is the bond of charity that holds a family together. Whatever the makeup of our particular family, exercising the bond of charity within the family unit helps us act in charity out in the world.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Our Advent preparation heightens as we anticipate our celebration of Christmas this Tuesday. Isn't it amazing? God chose to save our world through the birth of Jesus, son Mary, wife of Joseph. What a clever but simple plan! As clever and simple as creation itself. As clever and simple as the unraveling of history. Even more amazing is the fact that we ourselves are, and always have been, a part of that plan, a part of that creation, a part of that birth, a part of that unraveling of history. For this baby, whose birth we are about to celebrate, was destined to be the Messiah, the Christ, whose mission was to begin to announce the reign of God. Jesus wasted no time in recruiting help to assure the continued success of his divine mission. Thus Jesus and we, the Church, were born simultaneously.

When we stand before the manger with our children and our grandchildren we realize that Jesus was once as small as they are. But Jesus learned from the world around him, accepted God's call to grow up and become mature enough to be willing to die for those he loved. And that began the salvation of our world. We hope we can learn from the world around us. We hope we can accept God's call to grow up. We hope we can become mature enough to be willing to die for those we love. We hope we, the Church, can continue the salvation of our world.

Fr. Russell, Sr. Jolenta 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 bountiful gifts in the new year to come!

Third Sunday of Advent

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near" (Phil. 4:4-5). This Third Sunday of Advent has been traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, the Latin word meaning "rejoice". As the season of Advent continues to unfold, - we are reminded that the coming of Christ into the world is a time of rejoicing, for the Lord is soon to be in our midst in a manner outstanding in human history.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Second Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist, one of the great Advent figures makes his appearance in today's Gospel. While John's role as herald for Jesus is evident in each of the Gospels, St. Luke gives a much more detailed account of John's role. In the infancy narrative in Luke (Chap. 1-2) John's annunciation and birth parallels the same events in Jesus' infancy. In today's selection, the Gospel writer puts the words of the prophet Isaiah on John as though he is being given a role of prophecy: "A voice of one crying in the desert: 'Prepare the way of the Lord!'" We may ask ourselves, "In what way is the life of John the Baptist like my life? How do I prepare the way of the Lord for my family members, or my neighbors, or those with whom I work?"

We witness the saving and sanctifying Gospel with what we do as well as what we say - including when we "give God persmission," as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said, to convert our own hearts more deeply to Christ.

Here are some simple ways for us to say Yes to deeper personal conversaion to Jesus:
Put up an Advent wreath.
Place a cross or sacred-art tiem in every room.
Pray every time a siren sounds.
Cross yourself when passing a church.
Create a prayer corner.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year! We begin this weekend the new liturgical year with the season of Advent. The opening prayer for this first Sunday of Advent asks God to give us the resolve to run forth to meet Christ at his coming with righteous deeds. Sounds like a good New Year's resolution to make. We don't often think of the liturgy in terms of justice, but this Advent season is filled with it. One day, Jesus will return in his glory to judge all the world. Our preparation for his return is to live the faith we profess and to act in charity toward all our brothers and sisters. Justice will prevail when we show the love of Christ each day in all our deeds. Again, have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christ The King

Every Church year concludes with the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. We celebrate this final Sunday of the Church year with the fundamental Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the universal king and judge of all. By virtue of our baptism we are citizens of His kingdom. Our King calls us to his throne of love and compassion. The journey involves sacrifice. The cost is our self-determination of will. Worshiping our King while here in this world will lead us to the peace and joy of his eternal kingdom. He is the only King we need to know and follow. We follow Christ our King because of His perfect example of humility, service and love. It is this kingdom that we work to bring others to. If Christ is not our king, then who is? If Christ is our king, then be an example of loving service as He showed us. Long live Christ our King!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ordinary Time 33

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. On Tuesday evening our parish 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

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ordinary Time 32

Today we are blessed with beautiful examples of self-sacrifice and not counting the cost. Two widows share and give all they have. Eleanor Roosevelt has been quoted as saying, "We must do that which we do not think we can do." We are challenged to give from our heart, not only from our pocket; to give that which we do no recognize as ours to give.  Even in these difficult economic times, using up our whole livelehood is not something that many of us face. But there are people around us that have to make those choices, folks who have lost a job, suffer huge medical expenses, or are suddenly without a spouse because of death or divorce.  For some the temptation may be that of the widow and her son in the first reading, "when we have eaten what is left, we shall die." While Elijah worked a miracle, the Gospel today suggests that the miracle does not come from outside, but from within the community that knows those in need and reaches out.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ordinary Time 31

This Tuesday is Election Day, a day where voters go and cast their votes. What a great privledge and opportunity we have as Americans to choose our government leaders. Our vote does count; always remember that. Every act of responsible citizenship is an exercise of significant individual power. Remember we get the public officials we deserve. Their vitue - or lack thereof - is a judgment not only on them but on us. "Because of this we are urged to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose our political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self interest" (1998, U.S. Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life). Even our Catholic Catechism reminds us of our responsibility. It says, "Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one's county" [CCC 2240]. Please remember to vote!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ordinary Time 30

This week we celebrate two important feasts: All Saints - November 1st and All Souls - November 2nd.  These feasts celebrate our Christian belief in life after death.  A tradition in many cultures is the home altar.  The altar is usually a small table placed in the family room on which is placed a statue or picture of Jesus, Mary or other favorite saints.  A candle can be lit to signify presence and prayer.  Pictures of deceased family members can also be placed on the altar with memories shared about them with the children.  Another tradition during this month of November is to visit the graves of loved ones, perhaps cleaning the markers and leaving behind some flowers.  Children should see that cemeteries and graves are cared for as a sign of respect not only for the deceased, but also to the bereaved and the descendants who visit.

A Prayer at the Graveside
Lord Jesus Christ, by your own three days in the tomb, you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies.  Grant that our brother/sister, N. may sleep here in peace until you awaken him/her to glory, for you are the resurrection and the life.  Then he/she will see you face to face and in your light will see and know the splendor of God, for you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ordinary Time 29

What does it mean to be humble in today's world? Mother Teresa famously said, "When you don't have anything, then you have everything." We hear so much about the need to be in charge of our lives, to stand up for what we believe in, to take personal responsibility. In some ways, that was what Jesus was asking of James and John. They were to take charge of their lives and not look for personal favors to get them ahead. That's where humility comes in. It is recognizing that life is not a struggle about getting ahead of everyone else. Rather, it is about taking the measure of ourselves and striving to do our best with what God has given us.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ordinary Time 28

I survived the festival and I am back to my regular sleep schedule.  Before the festival, I was able to travel to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary for their priest reunion/homecoming and celebrate my twenty-five anniversary with several of my classmates.  It was good to see them; one I hadn't seen since we left the seminary.  We shared stories of our ministry and how our priesthood is going.  We all agreed it takes a lot to really follow Jesus and to lead his people closer to him.
Jesus wants us all to follow him and he is inviting each of us to follow him.  In today's Gospel story, Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him and then invited him to follow.  It is no less for us.  Jesus loves us all, and invites us to follow him by remembering the poor.  Indeed, he even promises us that as we give up wealth and possessions for the sake of the kingdom, we will be blessed even more.  Remember to help someone today!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ordinary Time 27

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. A big thanks also goes to Dan Trocchio for chairing our festival.  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!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ordinary Time 26

As humans we are capable of both good and evil.  Our Gospel this weekend makes it clear that any good is of God, no matter who is doing it.  The fact that others not of our faith may be doing good things in the world should spur us on to even greater acts of charity and love.  After all, we follow Jesus, who gave everything for us.  But when we do evil, the greater is our sin, because our wicked example becomes a stumbling block to those who might want to draw closer to Jesus.  The way we live can be for good or ill.

Did you hear it is Festival time!  The perogies have been pinched; the shells have been stuffed; the raffle tickets are incoming; there are some new kid's games; and even Elvis is going to make his last apprearance.  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 our parish.  Come out to eat, to work, to meet old friends and to make this a very successful festival.  See you there!

Ordinary Time 25

Following Christ is more than just having the right beliefs and knowing the truths of the faith.  As this weekend's Gospel relates, to be a follower of Christ one must be a servant of all.  Consider how we might act throughout the day if the foremost thought in our minds was to be a servant.  What would be different about how you interact with others if you placed yourself in the role of being their servant?  As a Christian, a hallmark of our faith is the way we love others.  Being a servant to all is a concrete expression of that love.

Ordinary Time 24

In the Gospel this weekend Jesus tells the crowd and his disciples that if they want to follow him, they must deny themselves and take up the cross.  In the early days of the Church, when the first believers were persecuted, cast out of the synagogues, and martyred for their faith, these words of Jesus had a very concrete meaning.  For many early Christians, accepting the cross meant suffering and death.  But what can it mean for us in the world today?  What is the hardest part about being a Christian in today's world for you?  That is the cross to embrace.

Ordinary Time 23

An often overlooked aspect of the healing story in this weekend's Gospel is that other people brought the deaf man to Jesus.  Like some other healing miracles, this on occurs not because of the sick person's initiative, but because others were there to bring the person to Jesus' attention.  We may not often think of the role that we play in healing.  One of the corporal works of mercy is to visit the sick and including them in our prayers has always been an important aspect of our faith.  We may not be bringing deaf people to Jesus to have him cure them, but we can pray for all the sick and ask God to give them strength.

Ordinary Time 22

Did you know that in Texas it is illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow?  It is against the law in Kansas to catch fish with your bare hands.  In the state of Washington, it's illegal to catch a fish by throwing a rock at it.  In Nagales, Arizona, it is illegal to wear suspenders.  In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.  It is against the law to hunt whale in Oklahoma.

Rules, statutes, and commandments help us live in a society.  We recognize that these limits on freedom make it possible for us to develop a community that can serve the common good.  And yet not every law carries equal weight.

In today's Gospel Jesus points out that God's laws take precedence over human rules.  God's laws are not just directed at forming external behavior.  God's laws were given to us so that we could live as God intended us to live.  As Jesus makes clear, it is one's internal attitude that can be in need of improvement.  What puts us into a healthy, life-giving relationship with God is when we treat our fellow men and women with kindness, consideration, respect, compassion and love.  It is when we maryy our inner convictions, the values we cherish, with our actions.  Ultimately, the commandments of the Lord require a change of heart!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ordinary Time 21

God calls us, and prepares the way, and yet still gives us the freedom to choose to follow. Joshua, in our first reading this weekend, responds, “As for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.” Peter’s response in the Gospel was, “Master, to whom shall we go?” These two responded yes to God. However, for some in the Gospel, the cost of discipleship was too much and many chose to walk away. There are choices that each of us makes each day and every day – some simple and some complex. We make all kinds of choices every day. Some are as simple as whether to have toast or cereal for breakfast. Others can have more importance, such as which doctor to select. Choices always have consequences – some foreseen, and some barely imagined. Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith. Thus we have no one else to choose but Christ. He is our way, our truth, our life, and going somewhere else will never satisfy. Let us pray that we may respond like Joshua and Peter for their responses characterize the faith of believers. For there truly is no where else to go!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ordinary Time 20

We believe that in his death on the cross, Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the world. But he also gave himself to us for our salvation in the sacrament of his body and blood. This weekend’s Gospel reveals the depth of our life in Christ. We have no life with us unless we eat his body and drink his blood. And when we do so, we have not just life, but eternal life. We are nourished by Christ as we feed on him. His life becomes our life as we connect with him in the banquet we share at the altar of sacrifice, the table of the Eucharist.

We have come to know Jesus as “the Word made flesh” who offers himself to us as “the bread of life.” As a Eucharistic people, we are called to live and be in community with each other that reflects the reality that we are nourished by the body and blood of Christ. Others should see how we live out our faith in everything we do from the manner in which we greet one another to the good nature evident in our hearts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ordinary Time 19

It seems that there is always something that we can complain about: the weather, the traffic, ill health, or a neighbor who lets dandelions flourish. When the Hebrew people were wandering in the desert they murmured against Moses and against God because they were hungry. Manna from the heavens and flocks of quail became their food. The crowd murmured against Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel as well, complaining that he was putting on airs, that he was acting above his station. God is not some giant complaint department, though maybe sometimes our prayer may sound like that. Rather, God is our loving Father who gives us our daily bread.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ordinary Time 18

Bread is one of the most common and popular foods in the world and plays an important role in every civilization. Bread connects us to culture, tradition and religion. It is considered the staple of life. In the Old Testament, wheat and bread are symbols of the earth’s fruitfulness. Manna prefigured the Christian Eucharist, a sign of God’s generosity. In the New Testament bread becomes a symbol of a supreme gift from God. The many grains making up a loaf of bread symbolize our coming together.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us “Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” He goes on to say that he is the Bread of Life, and if we partake of this bread from heaven, we will never be hungry.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ordinary Time 17

Today’s Gospel is a wonderful affirmation that Jesus is indeed the prophet who has come into the world. The story tells us that with almost no resources, just the lunch of a little boy, Jesus was determined to feed the people. He did it miraculously and abundantly. And, in fact, the scraps were more than what he started with. Those who ate of the meal were so impressed they wanted to make Jesus their king.

From this miracle, Jesus will attempt to teach the people its significance that he himself is the bread that has come from heaven, not the magic provider of everything they want, but the genuine source of all that they need.

A good lesson for us to learn is when we share all we have; God can provide all that is needed for everyone. This is a sign of God’s abundant love working through simple people. It is this sort of generosity that allows the hand of the Lord to feed us and answer all our needs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ordinary Time 16

I recently came back from South Dakota where I visited the Badlands, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore with my buddy Fr. Malcolm McDonald. At Mount Rushmore we saw the faces of our four presidents carved in stone.

I am sure we have many images of our family hanging on the walls of our homes. I have pictures of my parents and my brothers, I also have many icons hanging on my walls. I recently received one of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Bishop Winter. An icon is a Greek word for image. Another definition is that an icon is a window into heaven. The word has come to mean a sacred image. An icon is an artistic representation of a sacred person or event such as Jesus; Mary, the Mother of God; the saints, the Nativity or Resurrection of Jesus. One icon I have depicts Jesus the Good Shepherd. On Jesus’ shoulder He is carrying a lamb. By our faith we believe that Jesus cares for us; He is always looking out for us and He is ready to search us out when we are lost. The image of the good shepherd is often used in the Bible. Psalm 23, one of the most memorable psalms, is probably the best-known poem on this theme. Have you ever taken time to slowly read this beautiful psalm? It truly is a wonderful prayer for all of us to know. Take some time to read this psalm. It is also good to have sacred images in our homes because they remind us of how much God cares for us. It is good to be reminded of this often.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ordinary Time 15

Most of us are not natural missionaries. We wouldn’t consider going off to some foreign land or even walking around the neighborhood knocking on doors to tell others about Jesus. But missionary venture is part of our faith. Every Mass ends with the words (in Latin) “Ite, missa est” - “Go, you are sent.” Sent to do what? And by whom? It is not the priest that sends us out. It is God. And we are sent to spread the good news in the world. It is not hard to tell a friend or neighbor that God is good. Try it today!

See you at the Parish Picnic at Fairhaven Park on Sunday, July 15 at 1:00 PM. Come and join the parish family for fun!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ordinary Time 14

In one of the great Peanuts cartoons by Charles Schulz, Charlie Brown makes a heartfelt appeal: “Believe in me!” A little blonde girl walks by without even giving him a glance. In the next frame, Charlie cries out again: “Believe in me!” His own beloved dog, Snoopy, trots by, lost in his own thoughts. In the next frame Charlie has fallen into stride with another little girl, who is trying to ignore him as he cries out again: “Believe in me!” In the final frame, Charlie is sitting on the curb, chin in his hands, staring hopelessly. “I just can’t get people to believe in me!”

Today’s Gospel paints a similar picture of Jesus being rejected by his own townspeople in Nazareth. Scripture says: “And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.” Jesus is calling out to us: “Believe in me!” How are we going to respond?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ordinary Time 13

This week we celebrate our nation’s independence. The Fourth of July is a birthday of a great idea - not merely the idea of independence, not merely the idea of the rights of the people, but a profoundly idealistic and profoundly influential charter of liberty and freedom. What a gift to be able to pray and worship without being persecuted or arrested. But we also know that we still need to pray that our freedoms may be protected and preserved.

As we gather as family, neighborhood, community, and nation to celebrate this day remembering the profound freedom that our nation’s ancestors signed with their lives, we also gather each Sunday as a community of believers in Jesus Christ, the true giver of freedom. Jesus laid down his life that we may be liberated from the slavery of sin, and through His resurrection He opened the gates of heaven. Let us not forget the first and great giver of liberty and freedom - Jesus Christ.

As you celebrate the Fourth of July, Fr. Malcolm and I will be on vacation paying our respects to our presidents at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

It is six months before Christmas, and today is honored as the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist to fulfill the biblical timeline that is announced in St. Luke’s infancy narrative. When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary he tells her that Elizabeth her kinswoman is now in her sixth month, pregnant with John. And so we honor today the Forerunner, the one who will announce to the world the Lamb of God, baptize and points out Christ, something each of us is called to do by our very lives.

I also welcome to our parish Fr. Malcolm McDonald. Fr. Malcolm is the prison chaplain for the Allegheny County Jail. He is now living in residence in our parish house. He was living at St. John Vianney Manora residence for retired priests. With the diocese selling the Cardinal Dearden Center in Oakland, six retired priests living there needed a place to live, so the non-retired priests at the Manor needed to move out. Since Fr. Malcolm is a buddy of mine, the diocese asked me if I would provide him a place to live. I gladly said yes. Since he is a full-time chaplain, you might see him at our 7:15 AM Mass. Welcome, Fr. Malcolm!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ordinary Time 11

I recently met with a father who is greatly concerned about his ailing daughter. You can feel the concern and the love. Last Saturday I went to my home parish to celebrate a 25th anniversary Mass. While I was there I saw parents of grade school classmates of mine. One such couple, I commended for their heroic actions of taking care of their son, my classmate, who died about two years ago. Now the husband is taking care of his wife who is in a wheelchair. There are some great men who are quietly loving and taking care of their loved ones. As we gather this day to remember and honor our fathers, let us thank God for the fathers in our lives. We remember how they have shared their love to us.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

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 out 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.”

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Most Holy Trinity

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we are reminded how our faith rests on the great mystery we know as the Holy Trinity. This great mystery of our faith is about three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in one God. Many images or symbols have been used to help us understand one of the deepest mysteries of our faith, the Trinity: the three leafed clover, water in its three stages. The Trinity is the central mystery of our faith. As with any deep mystery, we can probe the mystery, and have some understanding about it, but we will never have complete knowledge of the Trinity. We can even have a similar experience of the life of the Trinity: our own personal experience of human love that mirrors God’s love. But we will never approach the fullness of love that is God. Our faith keeps seeking understanding, until the day when we see God face-to-face.

Friday, May 25, 2012


On behalf of my parents, younger brother and godmother I thank everyone who was able to participate at my Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating my 25 years of priesthood last weekend. May the Holy Spirit continue to bless you.

We began the Easter season by setting a fire at the entrance of the church symbolizing the light of Christ. Today we end this great season by celebratingthe fire that God lights in us through his Spirit. Fire both fascinates and frightens us. It warms us and burns us. It draws us and makes us want to run away. It is a fitting image of the love of God – a love that we both long for and fear. And it is a fitting image of our baptismal vocation – to set the world on fire with love.

Today we also pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our graduates as they head off to the next stage in their lives. Besides honoring our graduating high school seniors we also remember the 23 young people who will complete our Eighth Grade, as well as the 17 Kindergarten youngsters who will be entering First Grade. We call upon the Holy Spirit to help these young people, especially to be their guide in faith and truth.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Easter 7

As I reflect about my 25 years of the priesthood, many thoughts pass through my mind and the journey that God has led me before and after ordination. I have been a priest almost half of my life. You sometimes wonder what God has in mind for us. I think back of myself as that quiet, shy, inquisitive, little boy who played all kinds of sports and played with Legos, erector sets and built dams in a creek. God had a plan and over time he unveiled what he had in mind. I thank God above all – he has truly blest me throughout my 51 years of life. I thank my parents for their faithfulness and their example – it is through them that I learned about God and how to serve the Church. My two brothers, Jim and Dave, my grandparents, my teachers, my friends and girl friends all shaped me in some way also – especially the bruises I received from my brothers. That was the time before my ordination. During my priesthood I thank the pastors that I have served under. In my first five years of priesthood and two parish assignments I had four pastors – all unique and brilliant in their own ways. But most of all it has been from the parishioners that I have served that I have received so much. In parish ministry there are so many ways that I serve God’s people – from the womb to the tomb. At times you have no idea what to say and you pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom. At other times you put your foot in your mouth. There have been those moments that I have helped and there were those moments that I have hurt. That is the humanity that I deal with, my brokenness, my imperfections. Fortunately God is bigger than all of us and he knows each and everyone of us better than we know ourselves. Thank you and may God continue to bless all of us.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Easter 6

Jesus tells us in our Gospel this Sunday, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus is basically talking about self-sacrificing love. Other than Jesus himself, what better example of this agape, this unconditional love, do we have than that of a mother? Mothers have gone without sleep or food, changed their own plans, or given up something new for themselves, all to take care of the needs of a child. Monks and nuns may stay up late or rise early in the morning to pray, but no one knows more about the concept of a vigil than a mother staying up with a colicky baby, or the mother of a teenager who lies awake in bed waiting to hear the sound of the garage door to know her child has come home safely from an evening’s event.

On this Mother’s Day we thank our mothers and those who have acted in a motherly manner for all their love that they have shared with us. May God continue to bless our mothers.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Easter 5

Businesses grow through networking, making connections with individuals and other businesses that lead to referrals. Faith communities grow in much the same way by individuals connecting to one another through a common love for Jesus. The image Jesus uses for it is the vine. Like branches, we are connected to him and then through him to one another. As the saying goes, “it is not what you know, but who you know.” Knowing Jesus and obeying his word, we make steady progress as a community of faith and enjoy the consolation of his Holy Spirit. None of us can do what we do unless we remain connected to Jesus. Let us ask Jesus to make our connection to him stronger. With that stronger connection we can continue to draw our life from him, so that in faith, we can make our faith community stronger.

This Sunday, 62 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 28, 2012

Easter 4

This day we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday and World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In our Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as “the good shepherd.” He then goes on to define what makes the shepherd good: “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus speaks of his unconditional love for us as his sheep. It is in the process of laying down his life that Jesus can offer us the gift of salvation in his resurrection and the gift of a glorified body in his second coming.

Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd who knows his sheep and they know him when he calls. This implies more than an acquaintance with another person, rather it implies an intimate relationship. When someone is called to religious life or any vocation, one deepens that relationship with Jesus and the community. We pray this day for all who are called to a vocation, whether to the single life, married life, religious life, priesthood or deaconate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Easter 3

Here is a question to ponder: While the family is gathered around the table for dinner some night, what if Jesus suddenly appeared and asked, “Have you anything here to eat?” How would you react? Would you be terrified just like the apostles in today’s Gospel? And what if Jesus did not look like the way you thought he should? Then what?

As a matter of fact, Jesus shows up all the time, and often we do not recognize him. We may have difficulty seeing the presence of Jesus in our lives. The distractions of the world blind us to what is there before us. The poor, in whose appearance Jesus is present today, are already asking us, “Have you anything to eat?” How will we respond to Christ? Let us pray that our eyes may be open so that we might discover and respond to Jesus right there before us.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter 2

St. Thomas, the apostle, who professed his faith when he met the resurrected Jesus, said, “My Lord and my God!” Hopefully St. Thomas can be an example for all of us. I don’t mean in his lack of faith, although most of us probably have at one time or another doubted just like St. Thomas. What I mean is that St. Thomas got a second chance. Jesus appeared again to the disciples in the upper room, this time with St. Thomas there. St. Thomas was given another chance to make his confession of faith. Through God’s divine mercy, the same happens to us. We are given second chances (and sometimes third, fourth, or even fifth chances). As Jesus responded to St. Thomas, “Blessed are those who have seen and have believed.” We are thus blessed for the call is to believe.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and writer once said, “Faith is not the suppression of doubt. It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it. The person who has never experienced doubt is not a person of faith.”

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Sunday

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. Christ is risen and our alleluia tumbled forth from lips newly opened with rejoicing. We, who were stumbling sinners, have been made new by the power of the Resurrection. Our fall from grace has been overturned by the One who is risen from the dead. With the newly baptized who share in the life of Christ, we rejoice that our Savior has triumphed over the grave. Death has no more power over us, because Christ has been raised. We who are baptized are joined to him so that we also share in the fullness of his life. Alleluia! We also welcome to our parish community Erica Frischmann, Melissa Wojciechowski and James Fish. May God bless them and may they be assured that our continued prayers are with them.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Passion (Palm) Sunday

Our high holy days are upon us! Our Palm Sunday celebration this weekend 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 on our parish 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.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lent 5

One of writer Ramona C. Carroll’s most well-known faith quotes is: “Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch.”

In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus does not ask the Father to save him from the hour of his death. Even as he foretells his death on the cross, Jesus puts all of his faith in God’s basket. Through such faith, we see that there is hope on the horizon. From the dark agony of Calvary will come the glorious triumph of the Resurrection. In that Easter sunrise, we find ourselves heirs to an everlasting day, basking in the presence of God himself.

There’s no need to hedge our bets. Salvation can only be found by putting all our eggs in God’s basket.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lent 4

The rod of Asclepius, with a single snake entwined upon the staff, remains a symbol used in modern medicine. Its biblical likeness as the bronze serpent lifted up on a pole is the sign of God’s saving power during the Exodus when the people of Israel had rebelled against the Lord and he sent seraph serpents among them as a punishment. In the Gospel of John the victory of God’s saving action is not a symbolic serpent, but the Son of Man who is lifted up on the cross. The self-offering of Christ is the ultimate victory over death. The Gospel reminds us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lent 3

As each Lenten Sunday draws us nearer to Holy Week and Easter, the scriptures urge us to measure ourselves against the mysteries we celebrate so we can be better, grow in God more deeply and believe more fully – both as individuals and as a community.

A wonderful word that comes to mind is zeal. Zeal is that passionate driving force that can enflame a person’s heart and motivate one to give great effort. I am sure the disciples recalled the words of Psalm 69 when they saw Jesus cleansing the Temple, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” We are at the midpoint of Lent and maybe some of our initial enthusiasm and zeal for the traditional practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving have worn off a bit. The zealousness of Jesus for setting things aright might serve to encourage us and help us renew our own zeal this week.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lent 2

I have had the opportunity to go up Mt. Tabor, the mountain on which Jesus was transfigured. It was quite an adventure. The mountain is steep and thus preventing a bus to travel up it. What is needed is a strong-powered taxi. The road zigs and zags going up the mountain and there is no guard rail. To add to the adventure the taxi driver who only speaks Arabic is looking at the passengers and speaking to them while he drives up the perilous road. When one finally arrives at the top there is a beautiful panoramic view of the countryside below. There is also a beautiful church built in honor of the Transfiguration. I am sure Peter, James and John got to see the same beautiful sight as well. They also saw an amazing sight when Jesus was transfigured before them. We may never get a chance to go up Mt. Tabor to see the face of Jesus transformed, but our Lenten acts of kindness and almsgiving will transform the faces of those around us who are Christ present among us.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lent 1

Today my father turns 91 years old. He turns another year. God has given him some more time to serve him. For ourselves we have come to another Lent. We have received another season of Lent of striving in the battle against evil, knowing that we always will fall short of our goal of perfection. But this is not a day to throw up our hands in despair. If we truly believe in the Incarnation – that the Word took on our human flesh so completely that he is one of us – then we are filled with hope this day. For our Gospel tells us that Jesus – the human Christ – battled temptation and overcame the tricks of Satan. And with the support of one another and with faith in God, we can do the same. Just as my father celebrates the anniversary of his birth, he has been given an extension in his life to do more for God. So as we journey through this season of Lent let us know also that God will help us become closer to him.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ordinary Time 7

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, 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 11, 2012

Ordinary Time 6

Leprosy, in the ancient world, meant being cut off from contact with the human community. The leper who approached Jesus in today’s Gospel would have borne the shame and isolation of this disease beyond what most of us might imagine. The leper’s faith in Jesus was grounded in his desire to be in a right relationship with God. “Moved with pity,” Jesus made the leper clean.

How do we imitate Jesus in our lives? Who are the despised among us? Who are the overlooked among us today? Whom do we fear because of who they are?

Some possible ways we can overcome the lepers of today are to pray for those who mistreat us, forgive someone, especially someone who is a “leper” in our life, or resolve that we will say something complimentary to someone every day. By being Christ-like, we can bring healing to those around us that may feel they are lepers.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ordinary Time 5

In my nearly 25 years of ministry, I have been called many times to visit and pray for the sick. We all seek healing. I know how my arthritis is slowing me down, and how good it is to turn to Jesus in prayer for healing. When illness strikes us or a close relative or friend, we may want Jesus to come with immediate healing. Often, in illness, people deepen their own prayer-life and their relationship with God.

But our Gospel story this weekend suggest that Jesus takes a different approach to sickness. When everyone is looking for him, Jesus simply tells his disciples, “Let us go to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.” Jesus’ activity is less about healing, than it is about announcing the good news. In our quest for healing we discover what “good news” is for us as we draw closer to God. We are invited to consider our own response to difficulties of life and to examine how we can help others cope with their struggles. This is truly following Jesus.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ordinary Time 4

Our Gospel story this weekend speaks of Jesus healing a possessed man. We look to Jesus to cast out evil, but we also have a responsibility to tackle it as well. A certain spirit of uncleanliness can infect our lives. Vulgar speech can become routine. Ignoring common courtesies or not practicing simple politeness can take root. Aggressive driving can become the norm. All of these little things can progress to an attitude in which others are unimportant, where they do not count. The unclean spirit that had taken hold of the man in the synagogue had no respect for him. It only cared for itself. Our respect for others shows our own attentiveness to Christ’s teaching. With faith in Jesus, a pure heart, and a nature of service, it is possible to clean out that which is unclean. St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Those who really love God, love all good, seek all good, help forward all good, praise all good.” At times, unclean spirits gradually work their way into our lives through stress, frustration, and disappointment and we forward that negative spirit onto others through words, actions, e-mails, and disappointed behaviors. We can come clean, clean up our act, and kick out anything unclean hiding out in the recesses of our hearts by following the footsteps of Jesus.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ordinary Time 3

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 until death. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (1:5). The miracle of life is something to be greatly respected, protected and praised.

This Monday, January 23 marks the 39th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. that remembers the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in our country. Hundreds of thousands of people from across our country come to peacefully march 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.

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.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ordinary Time 2

God’s call can come at any time. It can be in the dead of night, as it was with Samuel. It can be in the middle of the afternoon, as it was with Andrew and Simon Peter. God’s call can break into our daily life dramatically as it did for Saul who later became Paul the Apostle. Or God’s call can creep into our experience day by day, as we strive to conform our lives according to God’s will. We do not create our own lives or futures, regardless of our liking for planning and organization. We are called into being, called to serve and called into the unknown future by a God who knows and loves us and never departs from us. The “practice” of the faith is really the daily activity of prayer and charity through which we respond to God’s invitation to believe. Our response to God is found in what we do with all the divine calls that mark our days and nights with possibility.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Epiphany of the Lord

Happy Epiphany! The word Epiphany is from the Greek language and literally means the “manifestation, or striking appearance.” The celebration of the Epiphany is a reminder that God will not be limited by human expectations. The Child born in Bethlehem as the King of the Jews is made manifest to the nations as the Savior of the world. Jesus is born for everyone, including those from distant lands, those who are not like us, those who are strangers, and even those from whom we may not like. Thus the Epiphany highlights God’s offer of salvation to the entire world.

The magi came from afar to seek the new born King – they sought out the Christ and believed. We too journey through life seeking many things. Let us seek out this child called Jesus, our Savior, and believe and adore him.