Friday, September 13, 2019

Our World Is A Gift

Dear Parishioners,

I live in Annapolis, and I love looking out on the water as I go over the several bridges to get to St. Jane Frances parish. There are usually a scattering of sailboats, some power boats, and a big ship or two. My grandfather was a sailor, and I think I’ve got some of that love of the water in me as well. But it goes beyond the water. I have backpacked the Appalachian Trail and the Adirondacks, and gone up Pike’s Peak. We have traveled the Rockies and the mountains of Alaska. I think in order to stay reasonably sane, you need a hit of the ocean and the mountains regularly. There is such beauty in nature but there is also the message of God’s grandeur and power. It is humbling to be in the presence of the immensity of the ocean or at the foot of a mountain range.

I grew up in Philly so it wasn’t until I was a young man that I saw the Milky Way in the big sky of South Dakota. God has given us a beautiful place to be. He himself even said that it was good as he created it. As we witness the destructive power of Dorian, we must be aware of God’s gift in our world but also the need to respect its power. Like our faith, we can’t take the earth for granted. We must nurture and care for it. So as we move from the heat of summer into the cooler days of fall, let us thank God for the great gift of our world. Let us be mindful of our role in being good stewards, not simply taking advantage, abusing, and desecrating it, but seeing it as a gift from our Creator who lovingly gave us a place in which to live, to grow, and to love.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, September 6, 2019

Who Doesn’t Love A Hug?

Dear Parishioners,

I was awakened recently by my 7-year old granddaughter jumping on our bed. My wife had been up for a while, so little Amelia thought she had the right to come and awaken me with her jumping and peals of giggles. I wasn’t so amused. But I am also aware of the fact that it is a gift for us to live so close to family. I have a friend who is going out to California to see family, and he is not sure that his daughter will speak to him. They have a conflicted relationship. My wife and I are blessed with children who speak to us and with grandchildren who play with us. I hope that it is good for them, because it is certainly rejuvenating for us to be in their presence.

I think that God intended us to be in community. We all need personal space no doubt, but isn’t it also great to have a hug sometimes? I know our society has this value about doing it my way. But isn’t it also wonderful to be able to be supported by friends and family who love you?

Loneliness is a great despair that many people experience. To be known and to know another person is a gift. I think that God puts people in our lives for us and for them to be held and supported. To know and to be known means that I am not alone, but I am a part of a social fabric that gives me strength, a social network that holds me, a connection that says that I am thought about, remembered, and not forgotten. This is a quality of church that brings me back every day. Christ tells us that he is with us until the end of time (Matt 28:20). I need that, I seek that, I am thankful for that! Let us at St. Jane Frances be community for each other. We all need a little more of that.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, August 30, 2019

Get To Know God Better

Dear Parishioners,

What a blessed summer we have enjoyed. Bright and sunny and hot, it was so much better than last year’s rainy and dreary weather. Praise the Lord! Now that school is starting, our children will be learning and studying all kinds of subjects, but what about you and me? There’s an old adage that says, “You are never too old to learn.” Furthermore, the old Baltimore Catechism taught us, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and serve Him in this life so as to be happy with Him in heaven.”

Here at St. Jane’s, we have several opportunities to do that. First, there is RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). It is primarily for those interested in learning about the Catholic faith and possibly becoming Catholics themselves. It’s also a good refresher course for adult Catholics whose education most likely ended at age 14 with the sacrament of Confirmation. Second, our Alpha program on Sunday afternoons is designed to help anybody enter into a more personal relationship with God. Third is the Men’s Fellowship meeting starting Monday, Sept. 9th at 7:00 pm to study the Gospel of John. Finally, how about home study where you take a book of the Bible and read a little bit (15 minutes) each day until finished. I would suggest Luke first, then the Acts of the Apostles—followed by Matthew, Mark, and John. I promise that you will get to know Jesus better. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Or to put it in positive words, “Knowledge of the Bible leads to knowledge of Christ.” As I hear at the end of one TV commercial (with Joe Namath), if you follow any of these suggestions, “You will be glad you did.”

Father Carl

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Tension And Conflict

Dear Parishioners,

I grew up in a family that at times was marked by great tension and conflict. It is hard to talk about at times because of the easy tendency to cast blame and to designate who was wrong. My parents both carry some of the blame, as it takes two to engage in conflict. I remember evenings with loud arguments and mean-spirited exchanges. I did my best to stay clear. If any of us children were focused on during these arguments, it was my brother who was limited. He was the most vulnerable, and given the difficult course his life has taken, it showed some effect. I mention this in part because I feel that our society is reaching a place where I feel the same as I did growing up. It was unsafe often in my household, like walking into the crossfire of a battle. The anger, animosity, blaming, and conflict expressed daily in the actions of prominent politicians and media in our country is sad and points to no positive process, but a negative tearing down of the fabric of our country. My reaction to my family’s difficulties was to hole myself up in my room or leave and be with friends. At the national level of conflict, there is no easy way to avoid or leave. Now as a member of the clergy of our church, I do not wish to get political and take sides. But the level of animosity is greatly disheartening. I think we deserve better than this. I pray every day that our national dialogue will take on a more constructive stance. I ask that God soften the hearts of our national leaders, that His truth will prevail and be served. God’s love permeates my faith. If only it could be more present in our national conversation.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, August 16, 2019

True Happiness

Dear Parishioners,

The summer is drawing to a close. In a short two weeks, it will be Labor Day weekend, and school will begin. This year God has blessed us with much more sunshine than last year, and much better tomatoes, corn, and melons. Thank you, Lord.

However, this week’s readings are not very uplifting (Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12:49-53). The loyal prophet Jeremiah has been thrown into an empty water-well where he sits in mud left to die.

His words from God made people angry as it challenged and criticized their way of life. True believers are rarely popular with the lax and sinful. People don’t like being reminded of their faults. Saints do, but sinners don’t. The gospel goes even further; as Jesus tells us, following the gospel can even cause trouble in families for the same reason. Nevertheless, the benefits of our communion with the Lord far outweigh the difficulties of being at odds with our family and friends.

Hopefully, it will cause them to think and cause them to return to God where true happiness resides.

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, August 9, 2019

How are you and Jesus coming along?

Dear Parishioners,

How are you and Jesus coming along?

There is a lot to our Catholic faith: the sacraments, Sacred Scripture, prayer, the liturgy of the Mass, and much more. Primary among all of these actions and understandings is the life of Jesus. His life appearance in the history of humanity is a challenge, an invitation, and a model to imitate. Christ carries so much meaning for us, it is hard to get your head around. But hopefully, every day our relationship with Christ grows stronger and deeper.

I believe that Jesus is the solution to our problems, concerns, and questions as well as the foundation of our lives. St. Jane Frances is offering a way to better improve your relationship with Christ in a fun, comfortable and informative manner. The Alpha program is a video-based presentation of the basic tenets of Christianity focused on the life of Christ. Through the lively witness of people telling their stories about what Christ did in their lives, the program seeks to invite you to experience the power and love of Christ. This happens over the course of a meal followed by non-threatening sharing at a table with others. The purpose is to take you where you are and show you the breadth and depth of Christ’s invitation to join him. Our faith has the power to transform our lives. Our faith has the energy to bring life to our spirituality. Our faith equips us to be more saintly examples of love and goodness.

Alpha can be the trigger that gets things spiritually moving again. Do you think to yourself that you are not fed? Well here is a scrumptious meal of faith filled experience that can ignite your passion and deepen your understanding. Are you just floating along in your faith? Here is an opportunity to turn that around. Here is the chance to renew your active membership in the Body of Christ. Please join us for the fall Alpha program starting September 8 at 4:00 in the Parish Hall.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

For more information about Alpha or to register, go to https://www.stjane.org/grow/alpha/.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Guard Against Greed

Dear Parishioners,

A number of years ago, there was a satirical comedy about a greedy company from the east that saw an opportunity in the old west to make a lot of money by taking over a small town through which a railroad line would be run. The company had a logo modeled after Gulf Oil, only it’s name was Engulf and Devour. In other words, it was a company designed to eat up something whole and quickly so as to make as much money as possible. Obviously, no company today would be so greedy and vulgar as was portrayed in Blazing Saddles. But greed is a problem not only with businesses and individuals.

The readings today (Eccl 1:2, 2:21-23; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21) warn us against this sin which is one of the 7 Capital Sins. And we all need to be on our guard, since we live in a greedy culture which places material goods and access to them as a supreme value. It’s a sin that clings very closely to each of us unless we decide to do something about it.

Jesus warns us today, “Take care to guard against all greed…” and who are so foolish “... store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” What matters to God is our stewardship over his gifts and sharing with the poor, the needy, and the church. “Don’t be mean and selfish with your money.” (Deut 15:7) “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2Cor 9:7) “God blesses everyone who is kind to the poor.” (Prov 14:21) And finally, there is the poor widow who gives her last two coins in support of the temple.

The bible tells us that the best way to overcome greed is generosity, but not just in terms of treasure, but also with our time and talent as well. Jesus generously gave his life for us. In gratitude, shouldn’t we be generous with God’s gifts to us of time, talent, and treasure?

God Bless,
Father Carl