Monday, December 30, 2013

The Holy Family

Did you ever hear of a feast searching for a home? Today's feast of the Holy Family is one of those. We hear in our Gospel story how Joseph was told in a dream, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt." What a dream! Or was it a nightmare? To be commanded to take flight like refugees in the night, to have a newborn baby and no time to pack or plan, all this must have been frightening to say the least. Joseph was no stranger to life-changing dreams though. He had already been told in a dream to take Mary as his wife, even though she was with child. And now God was asking him to change course again.
Few of us have dreams like Joseph did, but we do share with him the challenge of reconciling our plans with the hard facts of reality. When things don't go our way, we can respond like the Holy Family, recognizing an opportunity to deepen our faith in God's providence. Their faith in God was like a spiritual compass that kept them oriented in the most unfamiliar circumstances. Let us hold up the example of the Holy Family by keeping God close to our family.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent

In my travels I have visited many holy sites including the little town of Bethlehem where Jesus was born. It was in Bethlehem that I purchased a beautiful creche that was made by local artists with olive wood. It is this creche that holds the figures of the first Christmas story. It was this little insignificant stable that held the greatest gift for all of us. Jesus is God's gift of love for us.
It is good for our families to have a creche in our homes to remind us that God was willing to become one of us. It is even more important to open our hearts to allow Jesus to enter our lives.
God's choice of a place to live among us is breathtaking - he didn't need a palace or a temple. God came to dwell with us in the body of a woman, in the sinless Virgin Mary. He continues to live within each of us if we open our lives to him. This is the true meaning of Christmas - God became one of us and made his dwelling among us.
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 gift in the new year to come.

Third Sunday of Advent

Jesus' response, to John the Baptist's disciples when asked if he is the one to come, is that "the poor have the good news proclaimed to them." Jesus caps his list of miracles with this statement. In the same sentence where he reminds his listeners that he has cured the blind, the lame, the deaf, the sick, and even raised the dead, Jesus concludes by mentioning preaching the good news to the poor. How did that make the list of the supernatural cures?
The poor are not just those in physical poverty, but those whose sins have impoverished their souls. This of course applies to us. Because of this, we have cause to rejoice! We pause in this season of Advent, this season of anticipation, to remember that, in truth, our hopes have already been fulfilled. God has "visited and brought redemption to his people" (Luke 1:68). He is among us, Emmanuel, saving us even now.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent

A cartoon showed a tall, robed and bearded man carrying a sign that read: "The End Is Near." The next frame showed a short, robed and bearded man carrying an unexpected sign that read: "The End."

When John the Baptist appeared preaching in the desert saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"; he meant business. He was right then, and he is still right for us today: The end is near, and before we know it, it will be upon us.

Despite the warnings, we put off making any changes in our lives. This is the moment! Now is the time! Advent especially reminds us to examine our lives and renew our commitment to Christ. As John the Baptist put it, we are called to "produce good fruit as evidence" of our repentance. Only a truthful heart, responsive to God's grace in sincere repentance, will be blessed with God's gift of salvation.

First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year! The season of Advent marks the beginning of a new Church year. The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus, which means "coming". It is a time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion in anticipation of the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world. As we go about making preparations to celebrate Christmas, it wouldn't hurt to take a moment each day to prepare for the coming of Jesus. So don't scrimp on your spiritual needs because there are so many other things going on!

Our Lord Christ The King

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. 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, our neighbor at the Ken Mawr 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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we approach the end of the Church Year, our readings take on an end-time tone and focus. When we hear this Sunday's Gospel with its doomsday language, it is easy to consider it a prediction of the future. But in reality the events described had actually taken place shortly before Luke's Gospel was written. With the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD it is easy to understand why Luke would put these words in the mouth of Jesus and call upon Christians, especially those who had fled subsequent persecution, to remain faithful. Each age faces its challenges. We may not be facing destruction from invading forces, but the call to be strong in the faith is given to us as well.

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of our core beliefs as a Christian community is in the resurrection of the dead. Each time we profess our faith whether it is the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, or our baptismal promises, we announce that we believe in the Resurrection - Christ's on the third day, and our own at the end of time. The month of November is a time when we particularly recall those "who have gone before us with the sign of faith." We honor the countless of unnamed saints who already share in the blessedness of the heavenly kingdom. And we pray for the many who have died that they too may enjoy eternal light, happiness, and peace. Our belief in the Resurrection unites us in a communion of faith that is beyond the grave. And we pray that we may all come to the everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Happy Feast Day! On this November 3rd we remember St. Maolmhaodhog ua Morgair, Anglicized St. Malachy Morgair. Our patron was born in Armagh, Ireland in 1094 or 1095. St. Malachy was a twelfth century reformer of Christianity. In 1129 he was named archbishop of Armagh. He worked zealously to restore ecclesiastical discipline; restored marriage; renewed the practice of confession and confirmation; and introduced Roman chants in the liturgy. He was successful in preaching the Word and was distinguished by his devotion and vigor. He was also known for his care to the needy as a miracle worker and healer. In 1148 on his way back to Ireland from Rome, St. Malachy stopped at the monastery in Clairvaux, France to visit his close friend. St. Bernard. It was here on November 2 that St. Malachy died in the arms of St. Bernard. In 1190 St. Malachy was canonized a saint.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

It is easy to point out the Pharisee in someone else, and much more difficult to see it in oneself. That is one of the hazards of self-righteousness. Coming to an awareness of one's own failings demands some reflection. It doesn't happen all on its own. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector illustrates this very point. The Pharisee couldn't stop talking during his prayer. He went on and on about all of the things he was not, and then boasted about all of the things he did. On the other hand, the tax collector's prayer was simple and direct: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." He had time to listen. Why not take five minutes each day to listen to God? Turn off the radio or TV. Sit in a quiet place. Empty your mind and start with the words: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." And then, listen!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's Gospel we hear Jesus instructing his disciples about the importance to pray always. Prayer is beginning in God, awareness of God, engagement with God, abandonment to God, ending in God. To be alive to life is to pray. In the early years of Christianity, monks in the Palestinian desert took literally Jesus' command to pray always. Each day they prayed all one hundred fifty psalms, and if they still had time, they prayed the Lord's Prayer over and over. Long before Hail Mary's were used for the beads of a rosary, a circle of fifty beads three times was used to keep track of the daily share of psalms. Jesus knew, loved and prayed the psalms, and so should we. The psalms are wonderful prayers, maybe you can read one every day. Even though we may not pray always or pray the psalms every day, we can have a prayer card, a small crucifix, or a rosary in our purse or pocket to remind us of God's presence.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What are we desperate to have fixed? An illness? Our finances? A relationship? What is a problematic part of our everyday life that we want changed? This is what the lepers were seeking when they cried out to Jesus for mercy. Leprosy had changed their very existence, and the grueling effects of the disease separated tem from the very life they had known. In some ways the government shutdown, the hit to the economy and the collapse of the housing market has been a kind of leprosy. Despite campaign promises, politicians will not be the saviors. Let us recognize our need for the Lord. Be receptive of the Lord's unconditional love. Be of service to those around us. Thus we will find out salvation in the love of God, shared by fellow Christians.

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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!

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

There is probably no more chilling Gospel story about the lack of awareness of those in need than the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Wooed by the glitter and glitz of life, we can easily be distracted. In fact, we can even forget that we came from God and we are returning to God sooner than we think. The suggestion in the story is that in the end God will even things out if we don't make the efforts on our own. The rich man had plenty of comforts in life and took little notice of Lazarus' suffering. And so in the end, it was Lazarus who enjoys paradise while the rich man was in torment. The parable is a stark warning that our abundant blessings do not assure us of heaven.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tweny-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Can you pat the top of your head and rub your belly at the same time? Some folks can, but if they are asked to switch hands or to pat their belly and rub their head instead, they become members of that group who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Today's Gospel warns us that we cannot serve two masters. We can take the path to heaven or a highway to hell. They run parallel, but in different directions. Where are we going with our lives? Do we have a specific direction? Following Jesus is a path that leads to eternal life. Following Jesus and remaining just and true in our daily lives is not always easy, but it is the calling we have received, and we must strive to do it with all our hearts.

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catechetical Sunday is a time for us to pray for those who take up the important task of sharing the faith in our parish communities. This year's theme is "Open the Door of Faith," and many catechists do exactly that for the children, youth and adults who hear the good news through their teaching. Thank you to all the catechists who teach our children in both the school and CCD and to those who share their faith in our parish. Please pray for all those who are involved in opening the door of faith in our parish - their names are listed in the flyer in this bulletin.

In today's Gospel, the woman with the lost coin invited in her neighbors and the father of the prodigal son welcomed him back. These parables remind us that each of us can open the door of faith to someone through our words and actions each day.

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

An Army sergeant was trying to motivate his soldiers to think clearly, plan purposefully and execute their orders with competence. As a visual aid, he hung up a sign in the meeting room that said: PLAN AHE. Of course it was supposed to read PLAN AHEAD; for years that sign hung on the wall, serving as an example of one who hadn't. Planning ahead is part of any large project. Whether it is the building of a home for a family, or the reconstruction of a major highway, the planning may actually take longer than the work itself. Students will talk about their "plans" for what they will do after college or even their "plans" for the weekend. The Christian life has a plan as well, and in the Gospel this weekend Jesus asks us to consider the true cost of being one of his disciples. To be a disciple and to build our faith in Jesus, we too need to calculate the cost and begin with full determination to follow through. Have we invested enough of ourselves in what it means to follow him?

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

My rector in the seminary would say, "When you meet, you eat." And he would follow that with, "You can see that I have been at a few meetings." Gathering and eating was no different in Jesus' time. Meals are one of the great characteristics of St. Luke's Gospel. It seems that Jesus is always either eating at someone's house or talking about the banquet in God's kingdom. There will be plenty of picnics this Labor Day weekend as families take the opportunity to have what is often a final summer celebration. When we gather people together we are offering hospitality that is characteristic of God's own generous invitation to share in divine life. A Labor Day picnic isn't heaven, but how we welcome others can be an example of God's generous grace.

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

As school doors open and the students enter a new stage of their education there is always much to learn. I remember the teacher that I had. Looking back, the teacher who were the hardest, were the ones I learned the most.

Today we hear Jesus teaching and answering the question of how many will be saved. Jesus uses this opportunity to say something about the difficulties involved in following him. What appears as harsh words from Jesus is meant to be a warning to those who have gone astray. The narrow gate is about the difficult choices we make. We can choose the easy path that will guarantee that we will not grow or mature. Sometimes passing through the narrow gate will bring a great growth and maturity. Life is a series of narrow gates. To achieve anything of value in life means we have to strive. St. John of the Cross said, "The purest suffering bears and carries in its train the purest understanding."

As those teachers of mine challenged me to think, Jesus is challenging us to take the risk by allowing his words to challenge us. We pray that we will take the challenge and enter the narrow gate that Jesus directs us. Once we proceed through we will truly be better for it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

We are not used to hearing Jesus speak of division. So much of our religious language concerns unity and peace that the words of the Gospel this week seem to be at odds with what we understand as Christianity. But being a believer also means that we hold fast to certain beliefs and profess our faith by our actions in this world. There are times that others may not like what they hear from us. It is then that the division of what is true and what is false is made evident. We cannot give up the faith for convenience.

Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Each of us is making his or her own journey. It might be toward graduation from school, it might be toward marriage or toward a new career, it might be toward improved health, it might be toward retirement or it might be just a matter of trying to survive the stresses of each day. Whatever it is, time is moving us along. In our journey through life, there is an event that we definitely need to prepare for. That is the day we are going to meet our Lord, not just in prayer, not just in the sacraments, not just in the invisible ways in which he comes into our lived, but in a visible, unmistakable way at the end of life's journey through this life. It's a meeting most of us like to put off as long as possible and many people do not like to even think about. This is why our Lord warns us to prepare for it, because we may tend to procrastinate or just put it out of our minds altogether. The reason he warns us is not to fill us with fear, but because he loves us and he wants us to share in all the blessings he has for us. If we are not ready, we may miss out. So let us get started and prepare ourselves to meet out Lord!

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

What is truly valuable in our lives? In our consumer driven society we all want things, we buy plenty of stuff. We may know in our brain that the meaning of our existence is not rooted in possessions, but often we want more. The challenge arises in trying to balance the desire for economic wellbeing with the heart of the Gospel message. The Gospel this weekend asks us to take a hard look at what we have. Our riches are not the things that we hold in our hands, but those that we hold in our heart.

Henri Nouwen, in his book With Open Hands, he teaches us how to pray. He says we must open our clenched fists and let go of what we grasp most tightly. With hi, let us pray: Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! who will I be when I have nothing to hang on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love, unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus teaches us how to pray, especially through his example. How often we have prayed the Lord's Prayer and prayed: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." What a powerful line of mercy. Do we follow what it says to us? Our Gospel passage that we hear from St. Luke, points to the abundance of God's mercy. The Lord gives us what we need each day for our service to him. As the Lord's Prayer reminds us, we condition our reception of God's mercy on our willingness to forgive others. This phrase of the prayer should give a moment's hesitation to make sure that we really understand what we are asking. Every time we pray that prayer we ask God to forgive us in the same way that we forgive others. It is a pretty tall order. But it does make sure that our own attitude is aligned with God's. In him mercy and forgiveness abound.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The psychiatrist had one patient on the couch and several waiting outside the office. It was going to be another long day. The doctor asked the receptionist if she could stay late. Glaring back at him, she replied, "Sure, I can stay late if you will help me work through my feelings of anger and bitter resentment."

The Martha and Mary story in today's Gospel speaks of Martha's anger and resentment. Poor Martha, stuck in the kitchen all by herself while thoughtless Mary gabs in the living room with Jesus. How many times have we been in the kitchen with Martha? Jesus' message is for all of us. Take time to spend time with Jesus. Today if possible. Tomorrow may never come.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Where do we go when we are looking for God? Do we go to a church? Do we find God there in the silence among the worn pews and the scent of flowers and incense? Perhaps we find God in nature's cathedral - in the quiet forest, or the regal mountains, or by the sea. Some find God in between the notes of a symphony. Others find God in the complexity of the sciences, in biology, chemistry, physics. Still others experience God's presence in the rhythm of a well-tuned phrase or in a majestic hymn. In today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to find the presence of God in one another. Through the parable of the Good Samaritan who proved himself to be good, we are taught to seek out the presence of God not only in those we love, respect and admire, but also - and especially - in the poor and the victimized. When we minister to God's poor ones, we minister to God. Therefore, in our ministering, we must be aware that we are touching the very God who made them and us. Our compassion must be personal so that those we serve do not feel themselves a burden, but know themselves to be blessed. When we do all this we will truly have found God.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Did you notice the person one pew over in church today? Imagine the two of you going out together into the neighborhood around the church knocking on people's doors and bringing them good news. What would you say to someone when they came to the door? What could you tell them that would invite them to be a part of our church? This may seem like a radical thought, maybe even an important action. But this a part of our faith. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus send out the call for evangelization. It is a call issued to all baptized Christians to bring the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God to the world. Our Gospel story is not just a nice story about Jesus' companions in the past. It is also a commission to us, his followers today.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Happy New Year, Charlie Brown one of the Peanuts TV specials, Charlie Brown tells Lucy that next year he is going to be a changed person. "Oh, be serious, Charlie Brown," Lucy says. Charlie protests, "No, I mean it. I am going to be strong and firm." "Forget it, Charlie Brown," Lucy tells him. "You will always be wishy-washy." Charlie ponders, "Why can't I change just a little bit? I've got it! I'll be wishy one day, washy the next."
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples there is no room for being wishy-washy. A follower will have no place to rest his head. Disciples must abandon their former lives to proclaim the kingdom of God. Jesus says that it they look back, they are not fit to preach the kingdom.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are told in our Gospel this Sunday that Jesus was praying in solitude. Jesus took time to pray and to be with His heavenly Father. This past week I went to Mount St. Mary's Seminary to take time to pray as well. This was my annual retreat. I am sure Jesus' schedule was a busy one; so he knew the importance of getting away and praying. It is good to take time to pray and be with our Lord. Do you take time to pray? Do you take time to unwind and put yourself in our Lord's presence? In prayer, we lift our minds and hearts to God. Prayer is a relationship of love with God. Humbly, we seek to know Him, and open ourselves completely to His holy will. Prayer is a great gift and activity of communication with our loving God. If Jesus took time to pray and be with His heavenly Father, it is a good thing for us to do as well.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Happy Father's Day! May God bless all those who fulfill the role of father. I thank God for my father who is ninety-two years old. My father taught me many wonderful things over the years like throwing a baseball, riding a bike, laying ceramic tile, and praying. He has also been a great role model and example. Recently my parents had a plumbing problem and I suggested my father call a plumber; he called an electrician. My dad is quite independent and has been used to fixing all kinds of things around the house. This job was just a bit too much for him. Well, the problem got fixed. Sometimes even our fathers need a little help. We pray on this day that God my bless all our fathers. We know that God will do a good job because we know he is a Father as well.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The widow's story in the Gospel this Sunday is not unique. How many mothers witness their children being carried out to burial because of gang violence, war or civil strife? In cities across the nation and in countries around the world, mothers grieve for their children who are no more. Mercy, pity, tenderness, love, hope are all words that could be used to describe the actions of Jesus. Yes, Jesus brings back the son of the widow, who had become alone and vulnerable. Jesus reached out and restored this simple family at the edge of disaster.
Perhaps as we reflect on this reading we might reflect on how we need that gentle, life-changing touch of Jesus in our own lives. Where do Jesus' great compassion and concern need to touch our live and to bring its healing to our sometimes tired and weary spirits? The care that Jesus demonstrates in today's Gospel is the same compassion that he extends to each one of us every day.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ

The Eucharist we share this day and every Sunday is the sacrament of Christ's body and blood broken and poured out for us. As St. Paul reminds the Corinthians in the second reading, this tradition comes from the Lord who commands that we do this in remembrance of Him. The Mass is more than just a memorial service to the life and death of Jesus. What we celebrate each week is the real presence of Christ among us. He promised to be with us always. And through the Holy Eucharist, He is. Our communion with Him nourishes us until the day we join Him at the heavenly banquet.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Most Holy Trinity

The attorney for the rich woman opened the sealed envelope containing her last will and testament. His office was crowded with all the hopeful relatives who were eager to receive their inheritances. As the attorney began to read, they scooted forward to the edge of their seats. "And being of sound mind and body," he read, "nearing the end, I decided to spend all of my money on myself! There should be nothing left."

In today's Gospel from the Last Supper, Jesus bequeaths the gift of the Holy Spirit to all of us. He spent nothing on himself, giving all he had to those who were there that night, and to all of us down through the ages.

This Memorial Day weekend we thank all those who served our country in the military and who gave their all including their lives to protect our freedoms.

We also pray for our graduates who we recognize this weekend at the 11:00 a.m. Mass. May they have learned to give of themselves in service to God, family and country.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost Sunday

"Come, Holy Spirit, fille the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the fact of the earth." Our Pentecost prayer recognizes the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us with the flame of God's love, reminding us of God's love for us and enkindling our love for God. Then the face of the earth will be renewed. When you look around our world, when you look around your life, do you see God's love, God's face? The face of the earth doesn't always reflect the face of God. Sometimes it seems we are surrounded with chaos and pain. Politics, economics, family dynamics can be disheartening. We need someone on our side to help us make it through. Can the power of Pentecost touch us? Can we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Seventh Sunday in Easter

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. In the blessing at the end of the baptism rite, the priest blesses the mother, who holds her child in her arms, using these words: "God the Father, through his Son, the Virgin Mary's child, has brought joy to all Chrisitan mothers, as they see the hope of eternal life shine on their children. May He bless the mother of this child. She now thanks God for the gift of her child. May she be one with her child in thanking God forever in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord."
As we honor women called to motherhood on this Mother's Day, we are certain that God will continue to bless our mother with His gentle strength to care for our families by using wisely the unique gifts found only in mothers. We pledge our support to all moms as we join them in seeing the hope of eternal life on us, their children.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sixth Sunday of Easter

In the first line of our Gospel this weekend, Jesus says that if we love hime we will keep his word. That might be a tall order, since keeping our own word is hard enough. Napoleon said it well when he advised: "The best way to keep one's word is not to give it." The author of the bestselling book The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, knew about human weakness. He wrote, "Promises are like crying babies in a theather; they should be carried out at once." But the Gospel challenges us to do more than give a quick response. Keeping our word is a lifetime action. The Gospel also reminds us that if we do keep Jesus' word, the Father will love us and dwell within us.

This week our second group of second graders will receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. We pray for them and for their families that they will always turn to Jesus to help them in times of difficulties.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Don't we just always want life to be perfect? We already have so many blessings, and yet we always seem to want each day to be perfect. We get angry or upset when something doesn't go our way or when there is some roadblock to our plans. St. Paul reminds us that life in Christ will not always be easy. He said, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." Difficulties are also part of the Christian life. Thank God that He knows how to help us. He became one of us. Jesus also gave us the sacraments to help us as well. This weekend our first group of second graders will receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. We pray for them and for their families that they will always turn to Jesus to help them in times of difficulties.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Easter

The Gospel today says that the sheep know the shepherd's voice. But can sheep be fooled by someone just imitating the real shepherd? How many eloquent and clever preachers have turned out to be charlatans intent on fleecing the flock for their own gain? But the real voice of our Shepherd Jesus cannot be duplicated. It is a voice we recognize because it speaks not just to our ears but to our heart as well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Third Sunday of Easter

Scripture scholars have long wondered about the possible meaning of the count of 153 fish in the catch described in today's Gospel. One proposed that there are 153 varieties of fish found in the Sea of Galilee, and therefore the number symbolizes all generation of people.

Yet the most important number in today's Gospel is the number three. This was the third time that the resurrected Jesus appeared to the disciples. Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. And we are left pondering our triune God: three persons in one, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Second Sunday of Easter

The story from Acts of the Apostles this weekend reminds us of the great mercy of God. It describes the growth of the early community and good works of the apostles. In particular, the care of the sick is highlighted as well as the cures that were performed. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the mercy of God was made manifest through the action of human beings. Like the apostles in their day, we too are called to be men and women who help reveal God's mercy in the world. Our outreach to the sick, our concern for the poor, our care for the lonely, are all expressions of divine mercy.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord

Alleluia! Christ is risen! A blessed Easter to all. With Christians everywhere we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. On behalf of Fr. Russell, Fr. Malcolm and the entire staff of St. Malachy Parish we wish all of you a very blessed Easter.

On this Easter Day, we rejoice because the Lord is risen from the dead. But it is much more than that. Not only has Christ conquered death, but he has also broken apart the chains of death that bound us all.  We, who are baptized in his name, have the promise of eternal life. While humankind was created in the image and likeness of God, we stained that image by our original sin. By the power of the Resurrection we have been recreated in the likeness of Christ and share his new life. Alleluia!

We also welcome to our parish community Dawn Elliott and Nicoletta Stangl. They were baptized, confirmed and received Jesus in the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. May God bless them and may they be assured that our prayers are with them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

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 this bulletin.

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 the 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.

I wish to thank Fr. Scott Seethaler for a wonderful mission. His message was excellent, especially for us to make Lent a time for awakening to God's presence in our lives. I also wish to thank all who attended the evening conferences and the morning Masses. Everyone definitely received a blessing as well as our parish.

Monday, March 18, 2013

5th Sunday of Lent

We all know that we are sinners. At the beginning of each liturgy we acknowledge our failings and ask for forgiveness. "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" is easy to say aloud when everyone else is saying the same thing. And in a couple of weeks we will be singing, "O happy fault!" that brought Jesus into our world. But now, after five weeks of Lent, have we really examined our lives, looked closely at our actions and attitudes, and resolved to change? When we confess to Almighty God and to our brothers and sisters, we stand alone with our poor decisions written across our face, waiting for the weight of judgement to fall upon us. But we are not alone. Jesus stands with us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

4th Sunday of Lent

The main idea in this Sunday's Gospel, the parable of the prodigal son, is of family - a generous and forgiving father, a willful son, a jealous brother. Their relationships and conflicts could be recognizable to almost anyone, and these characters would not be out of place today on the couch with "Dr. Phil". But there is also another important thread that ties all the characters together: the idea of home. A place of departure and returning. A place of love and support, of safety and security. Ultimately, a place of welcome.

As we consider this familiar story once again, let us consider, too, the notion of home and homecoming. Some of those we know might be estranged from the church. Lent is a good opportunity to try to heal whatever may be dividing us as members of the Christian family.

With this parable on our minds, now is a good time to work on opening our arms and opening our hearts, to remind ourselves that there really is "no place like home."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3rd Sunday of Lent

Repentance and reconciliation are frequent themes in St. Luke's gospel. Today we hear Jesus' warning that people will perish badly if they do not repent. His parable of the fig tree speaks about being unfruitful. God is very patient with us sinners and he is willing to give us a chance to reform our lives by seeking reconciliation. God will give us a change to produce good fruit. Good preparation is to repent daily for our sins. If we are not producing good fruit maybe we need to realize that the season of Lent is our fertilizer for a fruitful preparation for Easter.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2nd Sunday of Lent

The word transfiguration is commonly defined as "a dramatic change in appearance, especially on that reveals great beauty, spirituality, or magnificence." Thus the mountain of Transfiguration is an image of what is to come for Jesus and for us. Through his death and resurrection Jesus is not only transfigured, but is restored to life by the glory of the Father. It is a life that we come to share through the waters of baptism. In the opening prayer today we ask of God that, "with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory." The glory of God is revealed in Jesus. This is the truth of God's revelation and love. For us to begin the process of transfiguration, then, we must invest in the truth and not simply acknowledge it. The more we enter God's truth, the more we read the Scriptures, meditate and reflect upon the word of God and actively seek a connection with God, that is when we begin to notice and confront all those things in our life with the mind of Christ, that is when we become transfigured. It is then that we believe that we shall behold God's glory and see Him face to face. This is when we come to the fullness of the Resurrection.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

1st Sunday of Lent

On our money we find the words, "In God We Trust". Do we? Or do we put our trust in ourselves or science or a certain theology or philosophy or political view? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary trust is "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." Jesus models for us how to trust in God at all times and in all circumstances.

Today we hear of Jesus' temptations and how he stands his ground with the devil. Jesus knew that God was with him. He knew that God would care for him. Jesus placed his trust in God.

Like Jesus, we can be tempted to rely on ourselves, using our power only for our own good. We can place our trust in people or things that are not worthy of that trust.

Lent is the time for us to go into the desert and remember that we have been filled with the Spirit of God in baptism and had the gifts of the Spirit deepened in confirmation. We mustn't forget the words of St. Paul who said: "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Let us follow Jesus' example and trust in God!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 2, 2013

4th Sunday In Ordinary Time

We all like to feel special. We tell our children that they are special and they are! We look to honors and awards that acknowledge our achievements. Excellent work sometimes gets rewarded with bonuses that signify an exceptional job. In the Gospel, Jesus points out that God's choice is not always the same as those who might be recognized by humankind. The opening prayer for today's Mass asks God to help us "love everyone in truth of heart." It is a reminder that God shows no partiality. All people are special in God's eyes, even those we may not think are such!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I was in grade school, at my home parish's school, I was an outstanding student - that is - I was out standing in the hall. When I was in sixth grade there was a transformation in me; that is when I had Sr. Anne for my teacher. There was something very special about her. One of the things that I remember was that she would read the story of St. Dominic Savio to the class. Hearing the story of St. Dominic was inspiring for me. It was good to hear the story of a young saint who had the courage to stand up for his faith. I was fortunate to receive my early eduation at a Catholic school where I heard about God, the saints and how to follow Jesus' example.

This week our parish school celebrates Catholic Schools Week. The theme is "Cathlic Schools Raise the Standards." Catholic schools make a world of difference, and we as a parish are blessed to have a school where our children are taught faith - not just the basics of Christianity, but how to have a relationship with God. In Catholic schools academics are held to very high standards, helping each child reach his or her potential. Service, the giving of one's time and effort to help others, is also taught as an expression of faith and good citizenship. So please pray for all students, teachers, principals and all who serve in Catholic schools.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in our country. The Church asks us to pray for legal protection of the unborn. Each of us has the responsibility to promote the Gospel of Life. Blessed Pope John Paul II said, "Every individual, by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh, is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore, every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church's very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature." - (Evangelium Vitae, no. 3). Let us then take up the call to pray for just laws that protect the innocent. Let us also pray for a transformation of minds and hearts, so that the protection of the unborn may become reality.

Please join us on Tuesday, here at the parish, in praying for the protection of all life, especially the unborn, during our Eucharistic Day of Adoration and at 6:00p.m. for prayers and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of the Lord

On this final day of the Christmas season, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We hear how the Holy Spirit was present to Jesus and how God was "well pleased" with his "beloved Son". The descent of the Holy Spirit and the voice of God from heaven mark the final epiphany of the Christmas season.

Our opening prayer for today recalls the mystery of the Incarnation. It reminds us that the only begotten Son of God has appeared in the flesh, and it asks that we might be inwardly transformed through the One whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves. It is a great summation of the entire Christmas mystery in which we celebrate the fact that God took on our humanity so that we might come to share in his divine life. This is the great transformation that takes place in our own baptism in Christ.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Epiphany of the Lord

Happy New Year! On this Epiphany Sunday we celebrate the journey of the Magi, who bore gifts for the Jesus, the new born king. This trip was possible because they belived that a star would lead them to this Savior. The star of Bethlehem plays a prominent role in the prayers for today. But the meaning is less about what shines up in the night sky than what sheds its light in our hearts: the star of justice and the light of faith. We pray that we may behold God's glory, for the guiding light that we follow today is not a star to the house in Bethlehem, but the heavenly light that will lead us to our eternal home. The journey for us is not across the Mesopotamian desert, but through a life filled with faith and love. Let us take our gifts of faith, hope and love to the Lord and to one another.