By Father Jim
Oct. 15, 2017
October serves as a colorful and refreshing seasonal way-station between the extremes of summer past and winter to come.
Dazzling foliage abounds, flies and mosquitoes all but disappear, and there’s a crisp bite in the air that cries out for sweaters and jackets.
Yes, the days grow shorter, yet we experience, in the words of writer Maxine Kumin the “briefest and most beautiful moment of status — every day is more precious than the preceding. Dusk comes earlier in sharper air. The horses’ coats thicken, blurring their summer sleek outlines. Everything proclaims: We are reluctant. We are ready.”
That seems the story of our lives: reluctant and ready. Let us count our blessings today, knowing full well that dusk comes early.
Oct. 8, 2017
The comedy writer Woody Allen once said, “I’m plagued by doubts, especially about God. If only God would give me some clear sign, like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
Even though many people have doubts and refuse to practice a faith, many still do remain faithful and have a sincere respect for church and the church’s priests.
One of the most helpful influences in persuading someone to return to the weekend Mass and our traditions is the encouragement of another person, relative, friend, schoolmate or a priest.
There is a renewal in America of those looking for some deeper meaning — the spiritual dimension of life. One person said, “I always loved the sense of peace I felt when I went into the church. I wish I had handed onto my children a more intense hunger for it all. To practice faith gives structure and ritual to our beliefs and a way to think about the great and really important issues of life.”
Another person comments, “Going to church did not solve life’s problems, but it gave me a sense of living in a larger context … being a part of something greater than what I could see through the tunnel vision of my little personal existence.”
A priest’s greatest joy is to help someone come home to the church.
Oct. 1, 2017
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work, family, health, friends and spirit, and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
You soon will understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it would bounce back, but the other irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They never will be the same.
You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How?
• Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself to others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.
• Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.
• Don’t take for granted things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would life, for without them life is meaningless.
• Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.
• Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.
• Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.
• Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
• Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it is impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give it; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly, and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.
• Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going.
• Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
• Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.
• Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
Sept. 24, 2017
After the baptism of his baby brother, little Jason was crying all the way home. His Dad asked him what was wrong.
The boy replied, “That preacher said he hoped all the children would be brought up in a Christian home, but I’m sad because I want to stay with you guys!”
A joke, yes, but some truth to it.
What makes a home a Christian place, a Catholic home?
Many things can foster and fashion young people during their formative years, in the ways of our faith and treasuring the heritage and customs and convictions we hold true. During the summertime, a time-honored and fun thing to do, as a family — or blending a couple of families — is to make a day trip and visit to one of the wonderful shrines in our state. Bring the lunch, connect to some other sight-seeing destination nearby, a camping experience.
Perhaps the fascinating shrine at Auriesville to the missionary martyrs; or in Fonda honoring the Lily of the Mohawks, St. Kateri the young Indian girl; or tied with Niagara Falls, the shrine to the Mother of God located nearby.
Being committed to Mass on the weekend, including prayer and saints and holy seasons in the pattern of home life, as well as a summer day to enjoy and learn at a delightful shrine, all help fashion a faith to be proud of.
And the otherwise …
A little girl sitting in church with her father suddenly felt ill.
“Daddy,” she whispered, ‘I have to vomit!”
Her father told her to hurry to the restroom.
In less than two minutes the child was back.
“I didn’t have to go too far, “ she exclaimed. “There’s a little box by the door that says, ‘for the sick.’”
Sept. 17, 2017
With God, losers are winners
Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and could not read until age 7.
His teacher called him “mentally slow and adrift in foolish dreams.”
Rodin’s father described his son as an “idiot.” His uncle called the sculptor uneducable and Rodin failed three times to gain admittance to art school.
Beethoven’s teacher called him “hopeless” as a composer.
Winston Churchill, who became prime minister of England at 62, failed sixth grade. After a lifetime of defeats and setbacks, he began to achieve some success only as a senior citizen.
Rudyard Kipling’s work was rejected by the San Francisco Examiner newspaper with the comment, “You just don’t know how to use the English language.”
When George Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” was first performed, a reviewer called it “sure-fire rubbish.”
Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 27 publishers.
This list of so-called “losers” who surprised their detractors with their stunning successes could go on and on. Suffice it to say, no human being can be cast aside or overlooked as valueless.
God, who created each individual also has endowed each of us with unique purpose and grace.
Feb. 10, 2017
For most of us, things such as a the death of a loved one, the loss of our job or a significant relationship, accidents and serious illness constitute “bad things.”
But other things — such as a loved one’s constant struggle with addiction, a child’s flunking out of college or the failing health of an aging parent — can be equally worrisome, burdensome and challenging.
Bad things happen. To be in a mature and responsible relationship with ourselves, others, the world and God, we have to face this fact. And when they do happen and we begin to wonder if God really has any interest in us, we may fear we are losing our faith.
But our struggle to remain faithful at these times does not mean our faith is weak or that we are cowardly. Rather, the struggle itself shows we are drawing on faith to help us through these bad times.
Faith is a relationship, and when we feel strong enough to turn to God whatever the circumstances, we are acknowledging the important role that relationship plays in our lives. The fear and anguish we express to God is the voice of our soul naming God as present in the details of our lives.
And while we would not long for bad things to happen, we can find within them a profound opportunity perhaps not available in any other experience. When bad things happen, and we begin to feel vulnerable, we have the opportunity to let go, and to let God be and do what God is and does: Love!
And the otherwise …
A children’s Sunday school teacher encouraged her 5-year-olds to create an art masterpiece that related to the Bible. As she wandered around the room looking at the pictures, she came to little Alice.
“Alice what are you drawing?”
“I’m drawing God.”
“But no one knows what God looks like, Alice.”
Without missing a beat, Alice replied, “They will when I’m finished.”
Sept. 3, 2017
Prayer for Labor Day
O God, creator of the world, of sun and moon and stars,
You choose to fashion us, your own, your handiwork of love.
Indeed, we are your hands’ own work and yet into our hands
You give the care of every living thing.
In more ways than we can count, our work builds up
or tears apart what came as gift from you.
Keep us faithful in preserving all you’ve given, lest we harm the smallest part of all you’ve made.
Give us good and honest work to do and rest at each day’s end.
Let a fair and good day’s wage be paid for a good day’s work well done.
Give us work that nurtures and sustains the ones who serve and those they serve.
Let those who labor, work in peace, in freedom, without fear.
Give those in need, a job to do, and to the tired well earned rest.
Let all work and toil, O God, give glory to your name.
Aug. 27, 2017
Being a Christian means more than just being a “nice” person. Anyone can do this by simply smiling and saying “please” and “thank you.”
Being a Christian also means more than following the Ten Commandments. Jewish people follow the Ten Commandments and they aren’t Christians. So what is unique about being a Christian?
Fundamentally, it means believing in and following Jesus. But even this is too generic. I think the last couple of lines of The Beatitudes get to the heart of the matter. We hear that we are blessed if we are insulted and persecuted for the sake of righteousness. He goes on to say that we are blessed if we are insulted and persecuted because of Him.
This is uniquely Christian. Certainly, people have been persecuted because of their religion throughout history. Millions of Jews died during World War II simply for being Jewish. But Christians are persecuted because other people disagree with the message of Jesus. No one wants to be persecuted, but Jesus is warning us that it’s part of following Him.
Many Christians in our society today don’t want to offend anyone. How else can we explain a predominantly Christian society that allows abortion on demand?
What our nation needs now are Christians interested in more than just being nice. We need Christians who are not afraid to speak Christ’s message about the dignity of every human life, even if insults and persecution are the results.
Aug. 20, 2017
The following is taken from “A Simple Path” meditations by Mother Teresa
Take time to think, Take time to pray, Take time to laugh.
It is the source of power.
It is the greatest power on Earth.
It is the music of the soul.
Take time to play, take time to love and be loved, take time to give.
It is the secret of perpetual youth.
It is God’s given privilege.
It is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to read, take time to be friendly, take time to work.
It is the fountain of wisdom.
It is the road to happiness.
It is the price of success.
Take time to do charity — it is the key to heaven.
Aug. 13, 2017
A bride of a few months listened to two members of her husband’s family deciding who were the happiest couple they knew.
The decision for first place went to a cousin and his wife. A little surprised at first, she studied the situation.
She found that the happiest couple in the world had the lowest income of any of the brothers and sisters in the family. She found that they lived in the smallest house, they knew the fewest big-name people and their professional work drew the least recognition.
But she also discovered that they had jobs were their choice of any in the world, they liked their community, they lived in the part of the United States they loved most, their home was the center of informal friendly groups, they had more interests than a dozen people could conquer in a lifetime and they instigated many community and church activities.
The young bride came to the decision that this couple was happy not because of the money they did not have, and not because of the money they did have, but because the interests around which their lives centered were interests that money had no power to make or break.
Their greatest happiness was found outside the realm of things.
And the otherwise …
Every gift, though small, is in reality great if given with affection.
Aug. 6, 2017
“No cover charge, no minimum and everybody is welcomed” is how Bruce Renfroe, an elevator operator in New York City describes the elevator that he has transformed into a mini jazz club.
He permanently injured his knee and was put on elevator duty where he sits just inside the doors. His love for jazz inspired him to share it with his elevator passengers each day. His 30-second ride is known as an oasis in a rushed and confusing world of commuters in the Big Apple.
Inside his elevator you are greeted with black and white photos of jazz artists, hanging plants and the smooth and soothing sound of good music. His gift of something he personally loves helps to mellow out so many busy people.
How do you share with other something of yourself? Something you know will enrich another person’s life — at home, at work, in school.
St. Paul writing to his converts in the Greek port city of Corinth said: “God loves a cheerful giver.”
This doesn’t mean just money or material resources, it includes our own delights and what fascinates or captivates us, our hearts, our senses, our soul.
And the otherwise …
Some go to church to take a walk;
Some go there to laugh and talk;
Some go there to meet a friend;
Some go there their time to spend;
Some go there to meet a lover;
Some go there a fault to cover;
Some go there for speculation;
Some go there for observation;
Some go there to doze and nod;
The wise go there to worship God.
July 30, 2017
A comedian recently quipped that today’s information technologies have effectively rendered a number of things obsolete, most notably phone books and human courtesy.
That’s also true for human rest.
Today’s information technologies — the internet, email, Facebook, mobile phones, pocket computers, and the like — have made us the most informed, efficient and communicative people ever. We now have the capability all day, every day, of accessing world news, whole libraries of information and detailed accounts of what our families and friends are doing at any moment. That’s the positive side of the equation.
Less wonderful is what this is doing to our lives, how it is changing our expectations, and robbing us of the simple capacity to stop, shut off the machines, and rest.
As we get wrapped up in mobile phones, texting, email, Facebook and the internet, we are beginning to live with the expectation that we must be attentive all the time to everything that’s happening in the world and within the lives of our families and friends. The spoken and unspoken expectation is that we, and others, be available always.
We used to send notes and letters and expect a reply within days, weeks or months. Now the expectation for a reply is minutes or hours, and we feel impatient when this expectation is not met and guilty inside when we can’t meet it.
And so daily, we become more enslaved and compulsive in our use of this technology. For many of us it is not impossible to take off a day, let alone several weeks, and be on a genuine holiday or vacation. Rather, the pressure is on us to constantly check for texts, emails, phone messages and the like; and the expectation from our families, friends and colleagues is precisely that we are checking these regularly.
But the rhythm of time as God designed it is meant to give us, regularly, weekly, some time off the wheel, some “Sabbath-time” when ordinary life, ordinary pressures, ordinary work and ordinary expectations are bracketed and we give ourselves permission to stop, to shut things down and to rest.
Sabbath is time off the wheel, time to take our hand from the plough and let God and the Earth take care of things, while we drink, if only for a few moments, from the fountain of rest and delight.
July 23, 2017
Congratulations. We have once again completed a successful parish festival.
Thanks to the many hard workers and the many parishioners, friends and neighbors who attended over the three-day event.
We thank the volunteers who prepared the food and pizza fritta, set up the café and flea market, and those who worked on the church grounds setting up plumbing, electricity, clean-up and organizing the workers — those who baked cookies, those who donated non-perishable items and paper products, as well as flea-market items, those who sold raffle tickets — all are to be congratulated, for without them, our festival would not get off the ground.
There are numerous behind-the-scenes volunteers who begin with plans and paperwork in the spring and whose jobs are not complete until the fall. We also thank the ROTC students from Proctor High School and the inmates from the Midstate Correctional Facility, as well as the volunteers who were working any of the three days last weekend. How well we can work together for a common cause.
The liturgical celebration honoring Our lady of Mount Carmel was just beautiful and we are proud to continue, our Walk for Mary’s Children. We are also grateful to the numerous priests who were with us during the nine-week novena leading up to the feast day.
May God continue to shower His blessings on our parish family.
July 16, 2017
The story is told about a hunting dog that was very proud as a great runner.
One day a rabbit he was chasing got away. It brought on a lot of ridicule from the other dogs in the kennel because of all his previous boasting.
Still the hunting dog had an answer.
“Remember the rabbit was running for his life, while I was only running for my dinner,” the dog said.
Which reminds us that motivation is so important as to why we do what we do. Some folks, good people, come to weekend Mass motivated by their upbringing and habit — also, the clear commandment to give God His hour once a week — the Sabbath.
Probably an even richer and more blessed motive to gather with others for the Mass would be to know that we really anoint one another by being together. You just don’t get to heaven on your own.
As Jesus accepted the anointing of His feet in the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, so we receive from each other the ointment of love and affection and the peace and securing of community. The presence of the Savior is given eyes and voice and hands and heart through the presence of those brought together for weekend Mass.
If you’re not there, you’re missed.
July 9, 2017
Not long ago, a sign was seen placed on the desk of a very successful store owner and popular figure in the city where the man lived.
The sign on his desk simply said: “Do all you can in the time you have and in the place where you are.”
What a recipe for success!
It’s a great motto to live by and motivate oneself for doing good things and accomplishing much. Whether it’s caring for and providing for a family, making a mark in your community or expressing your love for God by guarding and promoting the life of your church and faith. That word “stewardship” sums up the care and support and guardianship that our church and faith call for.
There was a merchant who had a whole fleet of ships. They crossed the seas and earned riches for the merchant. But one ship just never sailed at all, it only stayed in port and brought only disappointment to the owner.
Our life in the church is like having a fleet of ships. One is called fellowship — a closeness with the Lord through sacraments and prayer. The other is called, discipleship — as we learn to walk in the steps of the Savior and understand the scriptures and enjoy the blessings of the Mass.
Then there is friendship that is found when folks gather for the celebration of the sacraments. And the social ship in our fleet sometimes never leaves the dock in port — that is stewardship. Some just never embrace the caring for and support and guardianship for the church that should be part of that blessed fleet.
For those who do, the words on the man’s desk really must ring true: “Do all you can with what you have in the time you have and in the place you are.”
July 2, 2017
Lincoln on the Declaration of Independence
How much does the Declaration of Independence have to do with your life?
We may give it high marks in American history, but have its words really affected the generations since the American Revolution?
Abraham Lincoln said it spoke of its belief that “nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on and degraded. …”
“Now … if you have been taught doctrines which conflict with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have listened to suggestions which would take from its grandeur, and mutilate the symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable rights enumerated by our charter of liberty; let me entreat you to come back … to the truths that are in the Declaration of Independence.”
In an age that is still not convinced that all people are created equal — the Great Emancipator —Lincoln’s words still matter.
And the otherwise …
A priest waited in line to have his car filled with gas just before a long trip.
The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars ahead of him. Finally, the attendant motioned him toward a vacant pump.
“Reverend,” said the young man, “I’m sorry about the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a long trip.”
The priest chuckled. “I know what you mean. It’s the same in my business.”
June 25, 2017
One of the great spiritual leaders has said this about the subject of commitment:
There are three stages that make up the process of becoming truly committed to doing something or being someone significant. The first stage or step is the fun stage. That’s when we say, “I really love doing this, why didn’t I get involved sooner?”
Then there comes the second stage, which is the intolerant one, we say to our self, “Anyone who isn’t getting involved, like me, isn’t a very good or smart person.”
The third stage of commitment is when we suddenly realize that our involvement is going to make only a microscopic dent in the task of solving problems or making the world a better place, but we stick with it anyway. And this stage is the one at which saints are made.
This is so true in the life of the Catholic church, those beautiful people who do get involved, offer much of themselves, are generous of heart and time and energy.
Another famous person once said, “There are here kinds of people — those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who have no darn idea of what’s happening?
And the otherwise …
“Brace yourself, Mr. Collins,” the physician told the patient on whom he had performed a battery of costly tests. “You have approximately six months to live.”
“But I don’t have insurance, doctor,” said Collins, “and I can’t skimp and save enough to pay you in that time!”
“All right, all right,” soothed the doctor. “Let’s say nine months, then.”
June 18, 2017
A Fathers’ Day Thought
By ERMA BOMBECK
When the good Lord was creating fathers, he started with a tall frame, and a female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers so high up? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child into bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.”
And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?”
And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy. And the angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what you’re doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage small buttons, rubber bands on ponytails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.”
And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day — yet small enough to cup a child’s face.”
And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. And the angel nearly had heart failure.
“Boy this is the end of the week, all right!” she said, “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his knees?”
And God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a child on a bicycle or hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”
God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer.
“That’s not fair! Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a child’s birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?”
And God smiled and said, “They’ll work. You’ll see. They will be good for scaring off mice at the summer cabin, or for showing off shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”
God worked through the night, giving the father few words, but a firm, authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant.
Finally, as if he could read the angel’s mind, God added tears. Then, he turned to the angel before she had a chance to interrupt once again and said, “Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a mother can?”
This time the angel nodded and smiled and said not a word.
June 11, 2017
Sometimes, we need a true story or some incident to spark in our hearts and in our minds the conviction that we are all God’s children. So often we allow religious, racial or political fences to divide us.
A reporter was covering the current chaos in Iraq and came upon a little girl shot by a stray bullet. The reporter rushed to the man who was holding the severely hurt girl and offered his help, he put them both in his car and headed for the hospital.
The man holding the child cried out, “Please sir, hurry for my child is still alive.”
When they got to the hospital, after some minutes, the man and the reporter were told the little girl had died from the wound. As the men washed up in the restroom, the man told the reporter that now he would have the terrible task to inform the girl’s father about his loss.
The English reporter was just amazed. He said to the man, “But I thought she was your child.”
The man looked back and said simply, “No, but aren’t they all our children?”
It reminds us of the comment made a few years ago by one of our American astronauts on a joint mission with Russian cosmonauts. The American said, looking through the small porthole window at the blue globe of Earth floating out there, “If the whole world fits in the retina of my one eye, in my vision, how small must we be in God’s eyes.”
Why do we seek to separate ourselves from each other? The world is too small.
And the otherwise …
An old fellow who loved animals stopped in a pet shop to see if he could get a job helping take care of the animals. The owner told him he didn’t think he was strong enough to take the dogs for a walk or to carry the feed to the animals or to clean out their cages. Noticing some turtles in an artificial pond, the old fellow suggested: “Maybe I could take the turtles for a run.”
June 4, 2017
I remember a friend of mine who always was able to see in every problem not an occasion for trouble, but a golden opportunity.
Look about your life right now and ask yourself: What opportunities am I overlooking or missing?
God raised Christ with newness of life that says to us that God is not content to simply shrug his heavenly shoulders and say to us, “Well, what could I have expected of such people.” Rather he chose a unique, new beginning that unleashed all manner of power and creative actions into this world.
Once more not a defeat but an occasion for growth. This is the recurring theme of the New Testament. Just at the point when we think all is lost and nothing is going to improve, God surprises us with a new opportunity.
The key, of course, is our response. Shall we be like those who always are ready and willing to join the large ranks of scoffers and the “I-told-you-so” crowds? Or shall we say, “I see here a chance to grow with God”?
The tug of “what-might-have-been-if-only” idea is strong but must be overcome by a good dosage of “what new opportunities do I see in today’s world?”
I am certain that God is working within the events of today and that God always is gracious and giving to us as we respond faithfully. Like the proverbial bus, don’t worry, if you missed the last one there will be another coming along.
See the excitement that God has built into your life and say a hearty “yes” to the opportunities for joy, life and goodness that God sets before you.
May 28, 2017
Officials gathered at a train station to welcome the arrival of a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, a celebrity.
When he got off the train, he saw something off to the side of the important officials who were greeting him, and he asked to be excused for a moment
The Peace Prize winner walked over to an elderly woman struggling to carry large suitcases; he helped her to carry them.
Later on, one of the officials of the greeting committee told a friend of this incident and added, “It’s the first time I ever saw a sermon walking.”
The man who delivered that walking sermon was this missionary doctor who spent his life helping the poor in Africa — Dr. Albert Schweitzer. His experience and years of wisdom and faith was put simply, by him, into one statement— a motto for life: See the need, then do what Jesus would do. No ifs, buts or ands.
The wisdom of this approach to everyday life is simply that anyone can be a walking sermon. Do I see myself as unique, as important and gifted? In what way have I used my talents for others sake?
May 21, 2017
May is known throughout the Catholic world as Mary’s Month.
Often, there are May processions and special devotions to honor Mary as “Queen of the Angels” and “Queen of the May.”
We see everything in Mary that we see as good in human nature. Mary was a gentle, loving mother. She brought Jesus into the world, mothered him as all good mothers do their children. She nursed him at her breasts and shared with him joyful moments at home and later on, difficult moments as his life here on Earth drew to its close.
To place flowers in front of a favorite statue at home might seem foolish to some and yet bring a great deal of satisfaction to others. To make an effort to pray the rosary during the month of May only can become a source of great blessing.
Jesus gave Mary to all of us represented in the person of St. John as mother. There is no person better loved or better appreciated in the entire world than the good mother.
And Mary is the good mother to all of us and advocate as well before the throne of God. Mothers always intercede for their children and look out for their best interests. Mary in heaven is able and willing to intercede for us with her son and take our sides and watch out for our best interests.
Yes, May is Mary’s Month and we are privileged to honor her in special little ways that make this month special and particularly joy-filled.
And the otherwise …
A Christian was thrown into the Colosseum with a lion. Terrified, he fell on his knees and started praying. At the same time the lion dropped down on its knees and started praying, too.
The Christian, overjoyed, exclaimed. “Thanks God! Another Christian!”
The lion replied, “I don’t know about you, but I’m saying grace!”
May 14, 2017
Mary, the mother of God, is not a woman protected from the demands of faith in daily living. She is a woman with her feet planted firmly on Earth — Mary of Nazareth, the woman whose risk in faith first made Christ present among us.
It is precisely in this way that Mary is the best and first model for the contemporary woman, not as a mysterious icon of unattainable blessedness, but as an altogether human woman who was painfully misunderstood by the man she loved, Joseph; who was confused by her child’s behavior; who was not afraid to speak her mind or voice her questions; who stood by courageously while her son was executed; who was present at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the new church; and who indeed, had a role of leadership in that church.
When Mary’s place in the life of the church is really recognized and understood, the place of all women in the church is assurednot as onlookers or maidservants, but as important co-workers, as necessary for the incarnation of Christ in our world as Mary was to the first Incarnation.
And the otherwise …
A teacher asked her class a question in fractions. “If your mother baked a pie for seven people for you, five children and your parents, what fraction of the pie would you get?”
A sixth, said a young boy.
“But there are seven of you,” said the teacher. “Don’t you know anything about fractions?”
“Yes” came the reply. “I know about fractions, but I know about mothers, too. My mother would say she didn’t want any pie.”
May 7, 2017
Have you ever told something exciting to a young child and watched their reaction to it?
They can’t wait to tell somebody else, even a stranger happening to walk by.
The Eastertime Gospels send us a message to be like little kids and share the joy of the Lord’s risen life with others, to spread the word about faith and enjoying life within the sacramental church and God’s people.
It’s not that our faith is found wanting or lacking for anything, it’s just that so often the news has not yet leaked out. Too many, even in the Easter season, still walk among the dead, like the Magdalene, or wait and crouch in fear behind closed doors, like the disciples.
Remember, if the basis of Christianity were anything else than a God who came from a tomb, we’d have nothing to shout about.
Peace be with you.
And the otherwise …
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
“If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.”
One of them turned to the other and said,“You be Jesus!”
April 30, 2017
The news that Jesus is raised is good news. It means that Jesus’ life and ministry are active in the world.
Death doesn’t end Jesus’ life or what his life means. He lived for others. Death doesn’t stop that.
In the resurrection, Jesus now lives for you. There might be days when we say we wished we lived back in Jesus’ time. In faith, however, we believe that because of the resurrection we do live in Jesus’ time. He is living among us now in our time instead of being locked up in the history of ancient Palestine, the resurrected Jesus now is present throughout the world and in all times and places. His risen life fills our lives. He is active among us.
The resurrection means that everything Jesus once was — a healer, a comforter, forgiver and life-giver — is what he still is today.
The body which is the church still is breathing and managing to forgive, to fight for peace and justice, still struggling to be generous, still knowing how to sing and break bread together. In spite of any wounds we carry, we still say what St. Augustine once said in the fourth century: “We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song.”
We have heard, we have seen with our own eyes, we have watched and touched with our hands something wonderful and wordless, something that is true, much more than just a rumor of eternal life.
Hope is stronger than memory. Salvation is stronger than sin. Forgiveness is stronger than bitterness. Light is stronger than darkness. Resurrection is stronger than crucifixion. Life is stronger than death. These contrasts capture the message of Easter — hope, salvation, forgiveness, light and life burst from the tomb as Christ is raised.
The resurrection is for us. The good news is that Christ is raised.
April 23, 2017
As we enjoy the spirit and melody of this Easter time and the sound of alleluia!
We also know it is not easy to follow in our daily lives the Risen Lord. Even though we journey in faith under the banner of the cross and the victory of Resurrection, it isn’t easy, is it?
A young man is unwilling to forgive his father for years of neglect and bitter feelings. A widowed woman cannot forgive herself for the torment she caused to her daughter. A middle-aged man really blames God for the loss of his business and breakup of his family, though he knows in his heart the true cause of it all.
In spite of setbacks and things that frustrate us in life, we still sign our bodies with the mark of salvation — the sign of the cross — over and over again. Even when we are walking in the pastures of anger or the meadows of jealousy, the sign of the cross is a sign of the hope that tells us we live within the embrace of the Blessed Trinity, with a hope for the Risen Life, and our bodies and lives are part of the larger body of Christ the church on Earth, the assembly of the baptized.
Make the sign of the cross over your very body, your life.
April 16, 2017
An Eastertime thought
When the brilliant opera “Turnadot” opened in Milan, Italy, in 1926, the composer Puccini had died before he could finish writing the final notes for it.
So, when the conductor, Arturo Toscanini came to that last note composed by Puccini, he announce, “Here is where the composer ended, but this is where his friends began to take up the notes.”
Friends of the composer had finished writing the beautiful ending of the opera.
Easter’s message to those who believe in the Risen Lord is that it is left up to us to take up the song “Alleluia” of faith, the work and the living presence of Christ. To complete the Lord’s own ministry we are His voice, His hands and feet and loving heart. The purpose and mission of Easter is even more profound that the most lovely opera.
A sincere thank-you
We are fortunate here at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament to have talented, faithful parishioners and staff who are so willing to spend many hours planning and preparing our liturgical celebrations. Thank you to everyone who helped make our Holy Week so meaningful and our Easter so joyful. A special note of gratitude to Peter Elacqua and the Music Ministry and RoseMarie Chiffy for arranging everyone involved in our beautiful worship services for Holy Week and Easter.
April 9, 2017
Lately, signs of Spring have been close by. Slowly, patiently and surely there is felt the warmth of the sun and glimpses of the fact that Old Man Winter is exiting.
As Lent draws us nearer to Holy Week and the life-saving events of Christ’s suffering, passion, death and rising, they are a sure sign of this spiritual springtime.
Now we cross the threshold and enter into the life-giving days of Holy Week, we do this not separated as individuals but as a parish and faith community together.
Of the three great days the triduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on saturday evening — Holy Thursday has a special solemnity and evening peacefulness about it that makes it so spiritually rewarding. The Mass of Thursday night recalls the origins of the Eucharist and inspires us to serve and care gently for others as Jesus did when he washed the feet of the Twelve.
Come walk with Jesus carrying the cross on Good Friday — the simple Stations of the Cross at 3 p.m. and the very moving and stark service honoring the cross at 7 p.m.
As the alleluias ring out Holy Saturday at our great Easter service at 8 p.m. when we welcome new Catholics, that Easter song echoes throughout our Masses on Easter Sunday.
Come let us walk together during these days of Holy Week.
April 2, 2017
As we take our Lenten journey toward Easter, now is the time to weave into our fabric of activities, making a good confession.
The gift of the Sacrament of Penance is useful, available and brings unique blessings of its own. Whether it’s a communal penance service in our community, or on a Saturday afternoon at any parish church, to encounter Christ in this healing way is an important step toward a true renewal of baptismal faith at Easter. The temptation is to put it off, to delay until another time, to consider other things more important.
Recall this story: There was a meeting of the board of directors going on in hell. Satan was concerned over the fact that business was not increasing. He wanted to reach as many people as possible and draw then into hell.
One demon jumped up and said, “I’ll go back to Earth and convince the people that there is no heaven.”
“That won’t do,” said Satan. “We’ve tried it before and it doesn’t work.”
“I’ll convince them that there is no hell.” offered a second demon.
“No, that doesn’t work either,” said Satan.
A wise old veteran in the back of the room said, “If you let me go back to Earth, I can fill this place. I’ll just convince them that there is no hurry.”
March 26, 2017
A shopkeeper, seeing a boy hanging around near an outdoor tempting display of fresh fruit, said “What are you trying to do, kid, steal my apples?”
“No, sir” the boy said. “Really, I’m trying not to!”
Doing the right thing always involves some effort and determination. What right thing will you be doing to make Lent this year truly rewarding, worthwhile and a blessing for you?
To settle for being marked with blessed ashes, fish sandwiches on Fridays and regular Mass on the weekends is the bare minimum. Are you determined to let Lent this time around become an important time for your own spiritually healthy life?
What effort will you make? To pray alone and with others, especially to celebrate the Mass; to give something of yourself for the sake of others, the church or the world; to foster a mellow and compassionate heart and to learn something new and gain deeper insights into the gift of faith. These should all be present, at least a bit, for a healthy and renewed life in God’s Spirit.
This is what Lent should be about. This is what will make Easter a joyous time.
And on the otherwise …
I heard of a Christian speaker who declared rhetorically, expecting the answer “yes.”
“If you had two houses, you would give one to the poor, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, indeed I would,” said the man to whom the question was directed.
“And if you had two motor cars,” went on the orator, “you would keep one and give the other away?”
“Yes” of course” said the man. “And if you had two shirts, you would give one away?”
“Hey, wait a minute,” said the man. “I’ve got two shirts!”
March 19, 2017
By BISHOP ROBERT CUNNINGHAM
I think of St. Joseph as a quiet man who nonetheless offers us profound insights and striking examples of Christian discipleship.
Joseph is a great example of one who listens to God and does His will. This man of dreams, as he slept, had two significant encounters with an angel. In both instances Joseph needed to discern whether he was simply having a dream or whether he was really the vehicle of God’s message. He recognized God’s presence, listened to the Angel and acted on the message.
The message conveyed to Joseph is overwhelming and demands an extraordinarily courageous act of faith. Only a man who is inwardly watchful for the divine, only someone with a real sensitivity for God and His ways, can receive God’s message as Joseph did.
Not much is known of Joseph. He was a husband, father, provider every day, and He had dreams. What more can be said? For Joseph it wasn’t a question of success — it was being faithful to the mix we call life.
St. Joseph, protect the church, safeguard family life, assist the dying, strengthen our faith and journey with us as we make our way to eternal life.