Wednesday, March 18, 2020

God Will Not Abandon Us


Dear Parishioners,
 
We are in extraordinary times. My mother just moved to a nursing home, and the place is not accepting visitors. There is a national emergency. And of course, there is a run on toilet paper! I received the following prayer from the Knights of Columbus national office in my email. Let us remember to keep all in prayer as we get through an unprecedented time in our lives. Let us pray fervently that our faith be strengthened, our courage in the face of difficulty made stronger, and our support for one another be made more constant. God will not abandon us but is reason for hope! Let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God for consolation and help:
 
“O Mary, you always brighten our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who, at the Cross, took part in Jesus' pain while remaining steadfast in faith. O loving Mother, you know what we need, and we are confident you will provide for us as at Cana in Galilee. Intercede for us with you Son Jesus, the Divine Physician, for those who have fallen ill, for those who are vulnerable, and for those who have died. Intercede also for those charged with protecting the health and safety of others and for those who are tending to the sick and seeking a cure. Help us, O Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who took upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows, so as to lead us, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection. Amen
 
Under thy protection we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God. In our needs, despise not our petitions, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.”

Blessings in these troubled times, 
Deacon Steve

Download Prayer PDF

Not As Man Sees Does God See


Dear Parishioners,
 
How strange it was to have Sunday with no Masses. However, we had a vigil Mass on Saturday evening attended by 101 parishioners. How much longer our churches will be closed for Mass is unknown. We can however, watch Mass on EWTN, YouTube, and archbalt.org. Furthermore, the week’s scripture readings are included (Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5:8-14 ; Jn 9:1-41) so that we can stay in touch with the Lord.
 
This week the readings are about seeing. In the first reading, Samuel is called by God to anoint a king from among Jesse’s 8 sons of lofty stature. The first seven are rejected because he doesn’t see in them what he wants in a king. “Not as man sees does God see.” Samuel finds the 8th son, David, is the one God wants. The gospel of the man born blind shows Jesus healing the man not only from physical blindness but also spiritual blindness. He alone comes to believe in Jesus and worships Him, whereas the Pharisees who can see remain blind to Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of Man.
 
May God help to enlighten us so as to grow in our faith.

Fr. Carl

Friday, March 13, 2020

Thirsting For Faith


Dear Parishioners,
 
I just signed the papers for the warranty on the new church roof which, along with the chapel roof, sacristy roof, and bell tower roof, is costing the parish approximately $300,000. The Archdiocese suggested we conduct a Capital Campaign to pay for the roofs. When I met with the Archbishop last week, I told him I didn’t think that was necessary as our parishioners are very generous. I said that a monthly second collection over the next three years should pay for the roofs. The Archbishop gave his approval and so far we have collected $6,801.70. Thanks for your generosity.

This week finds Jesus traveling south from the mountain of the Transfiguration in Galilee toward Jerusalem (Jn 4:5-42). Along the way, he stops at Samaria in a town called Sychar, where he goes to Jacob’s well which is still there today. By the way, it’s over 100 feet deep. There he meets a notorious woman who, because of having been married five times before and now living with a man outside of marriage, has become an outcast. However, Jesus treats her with respect and dignity. While Jesus asks her for a drink, he isn’t so much thirsting for water as thirsting for her faith. It’s the same thing he wants from us. Our Lord does not care about our past; he cares for us now; and cares for our future. If we are smart, we will turn away from our earthly thirsts and go to Jesus who alone can quench our deepest thirst. As St. Augustine said, “O God, you have made us for yourself. My heart is restless until it rests in you.”


Fr. Carl

Friday, March 6, 2020

Suffering

Dear Parishioners,

Our household was hit by a stomach virus recently. It took all 7 of us, one by one, starting with Natalie, the middle granddaughter. It was ugly! But of course we all survived as our body defenses did what they do. It came at a good time, right before Lent. It was a good time, because Lent is a time of scaling back, reducing, minimizing, fasting, and sacrificing. I lost 5 pounds in a couple of days!

Getting back to our defenses, our psychological defenses tend to minimize the suffering that is an everyday occurrence in our world. Yes, there are fires and murders and serious accidents and illnesses all the time. The corona virus threat focuses us on a particular illness, but really they are with us constantly. My own stomach illness (pretty minor really!) called my attention to my vulnerability and weakness. My mortal body will fail at some point, and I will die. Isn’t that what Ash Wednesday was about? I have been primed to think about those who are suffering. And ultimately, I am thinking about the suffering of Christ. That is what this is all about.

The person of God who was filled with love for others, whose life reflected an openness to the suffering in others, was himself made to suffer. The suffering of Christ is visible, public, naked, and enduring in the sign of the Cross. The Cross is something we venerate and is commonplace around our homes, our churches, and our necks. It joins us with Christ in his suffering and in the suffering of all our fellow human beings. Let that sink in. That beautiful Cross in your bedroom stands for suffering, that wooden Cross at Church stands for suffering, that silver Cross you can wear stands for suffering. The Cross has been earned by the pain and angst of so many beings over the years. Of course, it stands for the agony and passion of Christ as well. But it goes beyond that. It stands not only for the cost in struggle and death, but it also points to the Resurrection! The Cross stands not alone but with the empty tomb! The Cross means that we fall and fail, but it also means that we are raised by God in his mercy and salvific love. The Cross is the key to the world of Heaven! So let suffering occur, and know that it will be transformed into joy through God’s mysterious love!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, February 28, 2020

Resisting Temptation


Dear Parishioners,

Oscar Wilde, the witty British author and speaker, once said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” As we begin Lent, we see Adam and Eve giving into temptation (Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7), but Jesus, of course, overcomes temptation (Mt 4:1-11). However, it will not be the last time Jesus faces temptation. After he tells the apostles about his upcoming Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Peter tries to discourage Jesus from his intended plan. So Jesus rebukes Peter, calls him a satan, and tells the disciples that following Him requires suffering as well (Mt 16:21-23). And of course, there’s the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prays that, if possible, he might be spared of the Cross. But he finishes by saying to his Father “Still let it be as you would have it not as I.” On other occasions, the Scribes and Pharisees ask him for a sign to test him which he refuses to do as his miracles and teachings should have been enough. Finally, as he hung upon the cross, the crowd called for him to come down from it to prove he was the Son of God.

Jesus had not one but many temptations in his life, just as you and I. But he prepared and built up his resistance by prayer and fasting. It’s what we need to do if we want to overcome the temptations that will also follow us throughout our earthly lives. Lent is a season that invites us all to engage in a spiritual work out together so that we can follow Jesus. United we can encourage and support one another as we journey toward Easter.

Fr. Carl

Friday, February 21, 2020

Happy Lent!


Dear Parishioners,
 
While we are still in Ordinary time this Sunday, we will soon be in Lent. It is good to begin to think about what this means. Yes, we have Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday to help us. I would like to offer that this not be a somber season but a celebration. Certainly Lent is a time of fasting and sacrifice. It is a time of becoming aware of the long walk that Christ made carrying the weight of his cross, heading toward crucifixion. My call to celebration rests on the fact that Lent opens to the glory of Easter and Easter is the sign that we will be taken care of by God. Our fears of death and pain should resolve to the possibility of heaven and living (yes, living) forever in His friendship and presence. We should celebrate that we aren’t done when our bodies give out. This life of trial and difficulty with the struggles of money and work and relationships are not the end. Our time is not defined by the ups and downs of the economy, the winds of politics, or the vagaries of social expectations and criticism by others. We live in the hope of what we glimpse during Lent and Easter. 

The tragedies of the abuse we hear of, the unjust deaths we become aware of, the persecution and immoral actions we read about, all are mediated by the saving action of Christ on the cross. The raw imbalance of life with its haves vs. have nots, the privileged vs. the suffering, the hungry vs. those who are full and satisfied, is addressed by God in the saving actions of Lent and Easter. Let us open our eyes to what is offered to us in this most powerful season of the Church. Let us thank God for our salvation that lifts us from the sad morass that this life becomes for some. To be with God is our purpose, and Lent and Easter give us a taste of that possibility. The harder life is, the more sweet will be heaven.
 
Happy Lent and glorious Easter, 
Deacon Steve

Friday, February 14, 2020

Attitudes


Dear Parishioners,
 
Ordinarily on the 4th Sunday of the year when Matthew’s gospel is read, we hear the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This year we didn’t as the Feast of the Presentation was celebrated with it’s own gospel. So we missed out on the Beatitudes which begin with words “Blest are they… ” Basically Jesus is telling us the “attitudes” his followers should have, ie, poor in spirit, the sorrowing, the lowly, the merciful, the single-hearted, the peacemakers, etc.

In today’s gospel, Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount as he condemns bad attitudes as well as bad actions. Afterall, thoughts and attitudes always precede whatever actions we undertake. Before murder, usually there is anger. Before adultery there is lust. So Jesus urges us to take strong measures to eliminate these sinful thoughts. He knows that temptation left unchecked will grow stronger and stronger until the sinful thought is acted upon. To verify this all we have to do is look at the violence taking place on city streets in Baltimore and the rest of the country. Also the increased rates of infidelity are affecting more and more families leading to higher divorce rates and destruction of family life everywhere.

The antidote to these problems rests in our relationship with Jesus. The stronger that grows, the holier we become with the grace and power to overcome the capital sins of lust and anger, and enable us to enter the kingdom of God where true happiness awaits us.

Fr. Carl