Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Security Blankets

Dear Parishioners,

We learn a valuable lesson this week from the Gospel story (Mk 10:46-52). The blind man, Bartimaeus, provides us a model of faith to follow. The Gospel points out that when Jesus called him, he threw aside his cloak, jumped up, and went to his Lord at once. The cloak was the most versatile item of Palestinian clothing at the time. It was protection against the rapid and frequent temperature changes, insulation against the harsh Judean winds, and at night, it doubled as a blanket. The cloak of the blind man symbolizes our own self-sufficiency, those things in our lives that we depend on for our security—the things that can hold us back when we hear God calling. By leaving it behind, Bartimaeus teaches us that our only sufficiency should be Jesus Christ. Our true security is in Him alone. Let us get up, throw off our cloak, and go to Jesus at once when we hear Him calling.

God Bless,
Deacon Howard

Friday, October 15, 2021

Achieving Greatness

Dear Parishioners,

Next Sunday is World Mission Sunday, when we are reminded that the Mission of the Church is the spreading of the Gospel. So it is very fitting that the Friday before, we celebrate the feast of Pope St. John Paul II, the greatest missionary since St. Paul in the early days of the Church. Traveling 725,000 miles to 129 of the 195 countries of the world, St. John Paul II spread the Gospel in person and through the media, to billions, not millions, of people. He was truly Pope St. John Paul II, the Great. Nobody will ever again have such a global missionary effect. None of us could ever come close to John Paul II and never will we be called “The Great.” However, we can become great without doing what the world considers to be great things. Jesus says, “Anyone who aspires to greatness must serve the rest.” It is a very simple task and yet it is difficult for many to sacrifice their time, talent, or treasure in service to others. Laziness, comfort, and pride are the chief enemies of service which we must try to overcome.

One of the early popes, St. Gregory the Great, realized the value of service calling himself “Servus servorum Dei”—the servant of the servants of God. It’s a title popes have taken upon themselves ever since. So, if they see themselves as servants, how much more should we?

Fr. Carl

Friday, October 8, 2021

Are You All In?

Dear Parishioners,

The rich young man in today’s gospel is eager to inherit eternal life (Mk 10:17–30). So he asks Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus speaks to every seeking heart with the answer. We must move beyond the bare minimum. We must tear down any obstacles that stand between God and us. To be in right relationship with God, we must rely entirely on him, not ourselves. We know that eternal life is a gift that God offers to us. It isn’t forced on anyone, and we are free to say, “No, thank you.”  To accept God’s gift of eternal life, we must be utterly dependent on Him. We can’t be the one in control. And this is essentially what Jesus is telling the rich man in this week’s gospel. Jesus says that if he wants to have a deeper relationship with God, if he wants to go “all in,” then he must let go of his wealth. When Jesus tells the rich man to give everything he has to the poor and follow him, he is asking him to trust God completely. By giving away his earthly treasure, the rich man will find an even greater treasure. Jesus wasn’t making a bargain with the man. The “letting go” was the only way he would experience true charity and giving of self. This is the love that God wants us to experience with one another. This is the love for which we were created. Are we all in? Yes, I know it’s not easy, but with God all things are possible.

God Bless,
Deacon Howard

Friday, October 1, 2021

Marriage: Permission, Thank You and Forgiveness

Dear Parishioners,

In the first story of creation, we see the power of God. God said and it was done as soon as he said it. Wouldn’t parents like to have that kind of power over their children? When He said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen 1:26), it was the high point of creation. However, it was impersonal; he simply said it, and it came to be. But the second story of creation shows God taking a more personal interest. God “formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” But God didn’t stop there, for as the old saying goes “No man is an island.” And so he formed Eve from the side of Adam to be a help mate, wife, and mother. God is good!

There are great blessings and joys in marriage, children, new homes, new jobs, mutual support and encouragement, moves to different states and sometimes countries, family vacations, and companionship in the later years. The devotion between couples married 50, 60, or even 70 years is truly an inspiration.

Still it’s not all sweetness and light. Differences arise, arguments take place, and personalities change. Personality quirks once so interesting become annoyances, and patience sometimes gives way to rude/ hurtful remarks. Marriage can be challenging and difficult at times; so divorce becomes an option. What to do? Pope Francis, in a speech, shared three words to head off divorce—permission, gratitude, and forgiveness. On the topic of permission, the Pope said, “always ask your spouse ‘what do you think, what do you think of this?’” rather than running over the other without getting their opinion. 

He also stressed the need to be grateful, “because it’s the spouses who confer the sacrament of marriage, one to the other. And this sacramental relationship is maintained with this sentiment of gratitude of thanks.”

The third word he noted is forgiveness which is “a very hard word to say.” In marriage, mistakes are always made, he said, noting that the important thing is to know how to recognize one’s mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

Permission, thank you, forgiveness—three words to remember to which I would add one more: crucifix. It would be good to have one hanging in the bedroom as a reminder that real love demands sacrifice—“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 24, 2021

Temptation

Dear Parishioners,

Today, we might re phrase Jesus’ words from the Gospel this way: “If it costs an arm and a leg to resist temptation, it is worth it.” (Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48) When we talk like that, we are not suggesting that a person literally sacrifice an arm or leg, but Jesus is simply using dramatic language to emphasize and make a point that resisting temptation is very, very important.

However, if we should not take Jesus words, “cut it off,” literally, we must take them seriously. Discipleship sometimes requires amputations. We need to amputate bad habits, resentments, ambitions that cause us to sin. We need to amputate things that stand between us and God. Our Lord teaches us that the pain of removing sinful ways is nothing compared with the sorrow of cutting ourselves off forever from God’s love. May the love of the Lord be our heart’s desire, and may our words and deeds reflect our love.

God Bless,
Deacon Howard

Friday, September 17, 2021

Combining Parishes

Dear Parishioners,

Back in the late 1960s, I read an article in the Catholic Review about the declining number of priests in the country. The vocations crisis was just beginning, so I thought maybe I could help. After making a private weekend retreat at the Jesuit house of Manresa overlooking the Naval Academy, I contacted the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese, had several interviews, attended the seminary in Washington, and was ordained along with eleven other men in 1975. Back then the shortage was not being felt as we had four priests serving St. Dominic’s on Harford Road. Now there is only one priest, and he is also pastor of another previously large parish.

With this happening throughout the Archdiocese, over the years, a plan was needed. So five years ago, after extensive listening, the Archbishop issued a pastoral letter titled A Light Brightly Visible. While partly intended to enable the diocese to operate more efficient administratively, financially, and pastorally, a main objective was to improve on evangelization efforts, the primary objective of the Church. To do this, some individual parishes were needed to combine and form a pastorate with one pastor responsible for two or more parishes. Some pastorates would have an associate pastor as well.

When the pastorates were designed, it was decided to join St. Jane Frances and Our Lady of the Chesapeake. The timing will be a gradual process over a period of years. It will start when I retire as of July 1, 2022.  At this time, the plan is for Father Stephen Hook to be appointed Pastor of St. Jane Frances while continuing to serve as Pastor of Our Lady of the Chesapeake.

While it will be difficult to leave St. Jane’s, I do so knowing I am leaving it in capable hands of a good, talented, holy priest.

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 10, 2021

Faith In Action

Dear Parishioners,

Who do we say Jesus is? Is He our savior? Is He our Lord? Is He our God? If we answer “yes He is,” do our actions reflect this profession of faith? Are we a people who walk the talk no matter what the consequences?

In the Gospel, Peter represents the Christian community, both in his profession of faith and in his misunderstanding of the faith (Mk 8:27-35). We, too, are most willing, even eager at times, to proclaim what we believe about Jesus. But most of the time, we are only half ready to follow through with the implications of what we say, especially when it calls us to follow the redeeming suffering of the Savior. Jesus says to the Church, too, what he said to Peter: “Get in line behind me; walk in my path; go where I will lead.” May our faith in action follow in the footsteps of Christ which will lead us to everlasting life.

God Bless,
Deacon Howard