Friday, June 5, 2020

Welcoming Back Safely

Dear Parishioners,

We are preparing for your return back to St. Jane Frances. We have been busy ordering cleaning supplies, making sure that we are following the health and safety guidelines, and preparing for your arrival when we are able to gather as a large group. Just over two months ago, we had to close our doors to gatherings. We are very excited to welcome our Parish family back.

Even though we are in the planning phases of opening soon, please remember that the state is still under the “Safer at Home” order. If you are in the age range where you are at higher risk, have underlying health conditions, or are uncomfortable with attending public gatherings, Archbishop Lori extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass. We will still be live-streaming Mass at 5:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.

If you are attending Mass, please know that keeping our community safe is our Number 1 priority. When we fully open, we will be asking for your help. Enclosed in the bulletin are some new procedures that I would ask that you become familiar with before we open for Mass. Again, we look forward to welcoming everyone back safely.

Fr. Carl


Friday, May 29, 2020

Pray For God’s Strength

Dear Parishioners,

I saw an interesting article about how things may change as a result of the pandemic. It also spoke about how things have changed. If we imagine that we are slowly coming out of our houses, what world will we see, what culture will we experience and what reality awaits us? Of course, I hope for all the good things to remain. Although there is still strong divisions in our society, I have felt a sense of strong community as my wife and I walk around the neighborhood. I have had more conversations with people I didn’t know than ever before. There is a picture of a mountain range taken from a nearby city that has not been seen for decades from that location. I have spent more time with my grandchildren with whom I live than I really did prior to this. I have heard from friends and communicated with others much more than before. I feel a certain urgency and a need to connect with others which before would have been put off as, “I'll get to it later.” I have a group of friends from Indiana that I get together with weekly over Zoom. It has become an important part of the week.

Economically, it will be interesting to see what places survive and what places are gone after this. There is for sure great sorrow and tragedy in that loss for the people involved and for the community. We have lost a wonderful little coffee shop nearby for instance. I wonder as well what will be different about church? Certainly, we will have social distancing for a while and changes in how we do Mass. But will we look at church differently? Will we see it differently now that we have been kept away for a while? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? But as well, has our relationship with God changed? Have we relied on Him to get us through? How is your prayer life? If it is the same as it was, then I wonder. My prayer life has taken on a bit more depth and seriousness. My brother had Covid but got through. My Mom in a nursing home had a roommate who tested positive, but she herself is negative for the virus. These are little skirmishes with death and doubt that call forth the need to pray and ask for God’s protection. They also call for thanksgiving at the little things that show us love and goodness. Of course, God will be the same. He is the same now and forever. He didn’t leave nor abandon us. Remember he doesn’t take away our crosses but helps us to carry them. So let us prepare to return to “normalcy.” I hope for the good and pray for God’s strength to carry us.

Blessings,

Deacon Steve

Friday, May 22, 2020

I Am With You Always

Dear Parishioners,

These last several months have been difficult and challenging to say the least. Closed restaurants, churches, and movie theaters; empty parks, sports arenas, and beaches; not to mention shut down businesses and the economy—this has been the new normal since the middle of March. The times have not been exactly uplifting. So it’s time for a change as life seems to be opening up bit by bit, and we are lifted up with the hope of recovery and better days ahead.

How appropriate it is that we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension when as we hear in the first reading that on a mountain in Galilee, among his disciples, Jesus was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took him from their sight (Acts 1:1–11). While His glorified body ascended into the heavens, so too must the spirits of the disciples be lifted up. And so too should ours be as well, for Jesus is showing us our destiny. But first we have work to do. In the gospel, Jesus gives the disciples and us our marching orders (Mt 28:16–20). He gives us the Great Commission to baptize and teach. In other words, we are to live and practice and share our faith boldly and without compromise. That’s a challenge, but we don’t have to do it alone. For his closing words are: “Know that I am with you always until the end of the world.

Fr. Carl

Friday, May 15, 2020

Everlasting Truth

Dear Parishioners,

It has been a tough week starting with Mother’s day on Sunday. My mom is in a nursing home in Pennsylvania that is locked down. She doesn’t have a phone. My sister visited her through the window a couple of weeks ago. It was difficult not talking with her on the phone or in person. These times have brought unusual sacrifices to us. But as I look back on Easter, there was a part of Lent and Holy Week that was made real by our dealing with this deadly virus. We were not only giving up chocolate or TV. We were making a greater sacrifice for the greater good, for the common good. I was not doing my normal routine for the sake of my vulnerable granddaughter and for those others who are vulnerable. While we were remembering Christ’s passion and death, there were numbers being counted of people who were in fact dying.

The recent events in our country and the world in fact, make this living real and our choices, serious. I am sorry, but I am not one that sees this as a hoax or as, “just like the ordinary flu.” This has been a case of unprecedented sacrifice and restriction with great consequences for families and communities, especially in terms of the healthcare system and the economy. We have been given the example of Christ to carry us along the way. We had the Church with its rituals and deep history as an aid to help us make sense of what was happening. We were accompanied by Christ in a real way as we experienced an emotional reaction to events outside of our control, not knowing where this was going. Easter morning still came with its beautiful and powerful realization of the empty tomb. Even in our difficulties, in our uncertainties, our anxieties and fears, we were reminded that God is still present to us. It was still clear that we are His children, that we still have the Church helping us to work through our sufferings, joining with us, and giving us comfortable and familiar words and actions to hold on to.

The truth is that God still offers us his consolation and love, his care and mercy, no matter what the challenge. The words are different, the events different, the cause different, but Christ has always walked with us in our needs and uplifted us in our darkness. This season of Easter is perhaps a more powerful example of that everlasting truth.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Mother’s Day! This weekend we remember and give thanks to our mothers, grandmothers, and other women who have shown us a motherly concern. They have encouraged us when our spirits sagged and corrected us when we needed it. Their sacrifices on our behalf were great blessings which we can never fully repay. At the same time, we are mindful of those married women trying to conceive a child with no success. Let us pray for them.
 
This week’s gospel scene takes place at the Last Supper right after Jesus’ announcement of his betrayal (Jn 14:1-12). So naturally the apostles are upset, worried, and discouraged. To comfort them, lift up their spirits, and give them hope and courage, Jesus says to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in me.” Our Lord goes on to assure them that he is leaving to prepare a special place in his kingdom for them.
 
As we continue dealing with this pandemic, a lot of hearts are troubled as many have lost loved ones, employment, or both. And we who have not been touched by these effects are concerned that it could touch our lives as well. So what do we do? Stay busy; practice social distancing; and practice the faith through regular prayer and reading the bible. These are some of the things we can do to keep our hearts untroubled and lift up our faith in God and Jesus.
 
And don’t forget your mothers and wives on this Mother’s Day.

Fr. Carl 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Seek The Comfort of Our Mother


Dear Parishioners,
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

I have been saying those words a lot lately. There is comfort in calling upon the Holy Mother of God to help us. There is a great consolation that comes from praying to Mary, gentle Mother. Her humbleness before God and her openness to God are characteristics that make her easy to approach. 

Reciting the “Hail Mary” brings a comfort, for it is a beautiful statement that conveys so much. In my meditation upon Mary, I am always brought back to the realization that she carries our humanity and gives it as a gift to Jesus. She reaches out to the divine and offers our identity as human beings. As a young woman, she says “yes” to God, giving over her life to a mystery which she scarcely glimpses. She lays down her life, puts it on the line, makes a judgment that will impact and direct her life completely. She is indeed blessed, and brings her love and dedication to Christ over the years to the Cross. She stands there at the Cross in unimaginable pain and sorrow watching her son die. It is only later that she sees him alive in his resurrected life. 

Mary has been remembered and honored over the centuries for her openness, gentleness, humility and persevering the arrow of pain that pierced her heart. She is indeed blessed among women and all humanity for the example she is of how to love and how to use your life in the service of God’s will. I have been thinking as well about the last part of her prayer. Mary pray for us sinners. We continue to need help in our weakness and selfishness. We need God’s intervention in our lives so that we may continue to be in a relationship with Him. But also—and I hope this isn’t too weird—we need to ask Mary to continue to be open to us at the time of our death when we are most alone and most vulnerable. Let us seek the comfort of Mary, especially in the month of May, so that we may take on her beautiful qualities and experience her comforting intercession.
 
Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, April 24, 2020

Lifting The Haze

Dear Parishioners,

One of these days, I want to get back to the Holy Land, which I visited over 40 years go. While I then visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Seas of Galilee, and other places, I never got to Emmaus. This weekend we all go to Emmaus to hear the familiar story of the two disciples of Jesus walking from Jerusalem (Lk 24:13-35). Now it doesn’t come right out and say so, but they were discouraged and despairing over the death of Jesus. You know that because Emmaus is 7 miles west of Jerusalem toward the setting sun. And a Christian is someone traveling east to the rising sun symbolic of the risen Jesus because of his/her joy in the Lord’s victory over sin and death and his/her hope in the future.

It was indeed fortunate that Jesus came along to show from the scriptures that his death was all part of God’s plan over the centuries but not the final chapter. It lifted some of the haze around their minds until the breaking of the bread opened their eyes to recognize Jesus. It’s what Mass is supposed to do for us. The Liturgy of the Word (the scriptures) helps us to understand God’s plan and our way of personally incorporating it into our lives. Then the Liturgy of the Eucharist not only helps us recognize his presence under the appearance of bread and wine, but also unites us to Him.

The experience of those two disciples energized them to share their experience with others. May it open our hearts and energize us when we again gather at St. Jane’s for the “breaking of the bread,” the Mass, so that we too can reach out to others.

Fr. Carl