Friday, October 16, 2020

Giving To Caesar

Dear Parishioners,

We hear today in our Gospel reading Christ say, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mt 22:15-21) We are in a political season of great import but also, great tumult and intensity. Political debate is not so much debate as it is an argument. There is, at times, little dignity given to one’s opponent and insult added for good measure. For me, I am sickened by this level of acrimony. And here comes Jesus asking us to differentiate where God is in all this. It is a good question.

Where are we as far as the guidance our faith can offer? What does my Christianity, my Catholicism, call for in this situation? I refuse to fall for the call to hatred of the other that seems to be present. I refuse to see others as enemies or somehow less than full human beings. I want to keep hold of my peace that comes from Christ, my confidence in his Resurrection and Salvation. I must remind myself of his call to love one another, and—amid all the noise—to love God with my mind, heart and strength.

All of this will pass as will the virus. There may be rancor over these divisions that last for a while. The virus may leave its imprint on us for a while. But my faith is my anchor. It is the thing which I must protect and hold onto, no matter the circumstance, no matter the issue, no matter the current state of affairs. My faith is the light that will brighten my way when all this darkness engulfs me. Yes, I will vote, and I will participate in this fragile democracy. I will do my social duty. But I will also not forget the teachings of my Lord, the teachings of my Church, the wisdom of scripture. I will hold onto the stability and dignity of my faith that will, no doubt, still carry me long after November!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, October 9, 2020

Helping Out Where We Are Able

Dear Parishioners,

 As you know during these unprecedent times in our world, the Coronavirus has changed the way “normal” society and communities operate. We have seen the unfortunate outcome of businesses closing, people losing their jobs, and of course the adjustments with our day to day family activities. One thing that we are reminded of during these times is that we need to rely on one another and help out where we are able.

During the recent weeks, we received a request to help out an independent Catholic School who, because of COVID and regulations, were unable to use their expected space. After weeks of searching from Bowie, Baltimore, and Annapolis, Divine Mercy Academy still needed to find a location. After they wrote a letter to the Archbishop’s office, they were granted permission to hold classes here at the Parish Center at St. Jane Frances. Beginning on Monday, October 5, Divine Mercy Academy will occupy our Parish Center for their K–8 school of about 35 Children Monday through Friday.

Divine Mercy Academy will use our Parish during the day and will not have an effect on our current Preschool program in the school. Both schools will remain two different entities.

As always, we are happy to help out a sister Catholic organization as best we can, when it is needed. If you have any questions please call the Parish Office.

May God continue to bless you and your families and keep you safe.

Fr. Carl

Friday, October 2, 2020

What An Idea!

Dear Parishioners,

It is easy to get down about all that is happening. Social media reflects the great polarity of views that Americans hold concerning politics, government, social relations, sports, and even medicine. For me, I am tired of the restrictions in my life. I would like it to be like it was before. I liked my life before, but now it is difficult, and my mood is not happy and joy-filled. What has helped me is that I can pray to a God who is bigger than all of this. 

Humanity has always struggled with tension, division, war, and conflict. We are a selfish and self-centered lot, seeking control and possession. That is why the message of Christ is so revolutionary. We are to love each other. What an idea! We are to treat each other with respect. We are brothers and sisters. We are to seek the good for others. We are to work with others. God offers us a glimpse of a world that is so different than the world I see. And yet, there are examples of fidelity, honesty, care, solidarity, reverence, and healing everyday. There are many instances of kindness that people show each other. 

God is present in our brokenness. He does continue to offer us his mercy and love. There is a healing balm for our wounds that resides in the powerful presence of Christ, in his words, in his sacrifice, in his wisdom, and in his invitation. That invitation is for us to let go of our pride and anger, and to believe in the greater love that God offers. He has placed the Holy Spirit within us so that we may imitate Christ in thought and action. Let us allow that Spirit to guide us, to build up rather than tear down, to join rather than separate, to seek similarity rather than difference. We may try to fix things, but only through the perfection of God can things be truly solved.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Road To Hell

Dear Parishioners,

When I was a young boy and failed to do some chore or put off an unpleasant job, my father would call me in for a little talk. My usual excuse was that I intended to do the task but just hadn’t gotten around to it. My father would often respond by saying, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

In today’s gospel (MT 21:28-32), the older son intended to carry out his father’s request. He had the right intention, spoke courteously to his father, but never got around to fulfilling his father’s request. Meanwhile, the second son’s intention was just the opposite of his brother’s. But he changed his mind and did as his father asked. 

Why did he change his mind? Was it out of guilt or love or fear of punishment? Maybe it was a little bit of all those reactions. The important thing is that he did it because his father asked him. God our Father asks us to work for him in the fields of life. It would be best if we did it out of love and gratitude, but maybe we have to start with less noble motives. The important thing is that we do it and serve him simply because he asks us. After all, our loving Father only wants what is best for us. As the title of the 1950s sitcom suggested “Father Knows Best.”

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 18, 2020

Generosity and Thankfulness

Dear Parishioners,

Our Gospel today points to an important quality of God, his generosity (Mt 20:1-16A). This is a mysterious quality of God. God has given us so much, from the world to our very lives, while there is little we can do to make the awesomeness of His gifts. It points to the idea that God can give of himself yet never be diminished by giving. He has created the universe, has created humanity, and has given us the Holy Spirit, and continues to be present in our everyday lives. God’s generosity does not enrich God but leaves us with a beautiful world filled with wonderment and awe.

During the pandemic, I have watched numerous travel shows going around the world. There is such beauty around the world. The mountains, the rivers, the forests and plains, the magnificent ocean views. We are blessed ourselves with the Bay and its surroundings. If you let it, you can be filled with a great sense of awe and humility. The night sky, for instance, just can take your breath at times. 

What can we return to God for this gift of beauty and awe? Nothing really. But we can honor and glorify God in all his gifts. We can read the Scriptures and allow them to be a guide to our lives. We can attend to the life of Christ and live according to His example. We can participate actively and fully in the life of the church here at St. Jane Frances. We can appreciate all we have been given and all the lives placed in our paths through this life. We can thank the Lord for His work in our lives and strive to listen to His voice calling us to goodness and truth. Let us be thankful for the generosity of God, and respect and appreciate his creation.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, September 11, 2020

Forgiveness

Dear Parishioners,

I hope you all had a relaxing Labor Day Weekend. This week, many schools will open with different types of settings: remote, classroom, and combinations of the two. Last week, St. Jane Frances Preschool opened for ages two through four. The three and four-year-old classes are almost full, but there are a few openings left. If you hear of anyone looking for in-school classes, please have them call the school.

Last week, the scriptures talked about love of neighbor and that particular form of love known as fraternal correction. To correct anyone is difficult and challenging, but to do it in a loving way is even harder. Nevertheless, we must try, for “we are our brother’s/sister’s keeper.” And it is one of the 7 spiritual works of mercy—“warn the sinner.”

This week, we are encouraged to grow even more in our love of neighbor by forgiving their offenses against us. After all, in the Our Father, don’t we pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?” Since God has been generous to us, we must do the same and be generous to others. Besides, Jesus said at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, “If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.” (MT 6:15)

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Language Of God

Dear Parishioners,

Love is the fulfillment of the law, declares our second reading today from the Book of Romans (13:8–10). This is a powerful text of great theological meaning. Indeed, love is the language of God. We believe that the Holy Spirit emanates from the love of God the Father and Christ his son. Love is that mysterious phenomenon that brings us together. It is that thing that attracts us to each other. The word is used to describe the highest form of adoration or value. We love what we hold dearest. 

Now of course I am speaking of authentic love, the kind of love that demonstrates a real caring for the other. Love is the life blood of a marriage. It is that glue that holds things together. It says that I hold you, my spouse, in great esteem and promise to love you as myself even in bad times. This is how God feels about us, He loves us. We are his creation and his children. His love wills for us to live. His love wills for us to be good. His love wills for us to respond to him and others with love. It is this love that causes the man to buy the pearl of great price. It is this love that causes the woman to give her last two coins to the Temple. This love planted in our hearts by God calls us to join this church. It causes us to open our hearts and give food to strangers, to give our time to those in need, and to pray for others who need prayer. 

This mysterious gift from God makes the world go round I think. It is the real gift we give our families, our children, and our spouses. It causes us to kneel before the presence of God when we come to church, to give each other the sign of peace, and to open our hands with a great “Amen” when we receive the Eucharist. Thank you Lord for this most magnificent gift of your being and presence. Help me to share it with others.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve