Friday, March 1, 2024

Lenten Misson This Week!

Dear Friends of our Pastorate,

There are two options for our readings on this Third Sunday of Lent. This is because the Church celebrates special rites called the Scrutinies during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. These rites are celebrated with those who are to be baptized at the Easter Vigil, although many parishes also celebrate them with those who are going to be confirmed or enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The regular Gospel for this Sunday is John’s version of Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple, while the Gospel for the Scrutinies is the Samaritan Woman Jesus encounters at the well. Both are powerful Gospels that tell us much about Jesus’ mission and ministry. I would encourage you read and reflect upon them both this week.

Please plan to join us this week for our Pastorate Lenten Mission being offered by Fr. Jim. The theme for the mission this year is “Time for God” and is based on Fr. Jacques Philippe’s international bestselling book of the same name. The first talk will be offered on Monday, March 4th, at 7:00pm at Our Lady of the Chesapeake. The second talk will be offered on Tuesday, March 5th, at 7:00pm at St. Jane Frances. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be offered on Wednesday, March 6th, starting at 6:30pm at Our Lady of the Chesapeake. Please plan to join us!

There is still time for the men of our Pastorate to sign up for the Catholic Men’s Fellowship conference being held at St. Philip Neri this Saturday, March 9th. To register, go to catholicmensfellowship.com.

Stations of the Cross and the Knights of Columbus Lenten Fish Fry Fridays continue this Friday, March 1st at St. Jane Frances. Stop by for a delicious Lenten appropriate seafood meal at St. Jane Hall from 4:00pm to 7:00pm, then attend Stations of the Cross at 7:00pm in the Church. Eucharistic Adoration will take place during Stations.

We are still looking for volunteers and donations for the St. Patrick’s Day Bazaar on Friday, March 15th at St. Jane Hall and School. Gift cards, wine and liquor, and silent auction items can be dropped off at the office at either St. Jane Frances or Our Lady of the Chesapeake. This is a great family friendly event! Thank you for your support!

Thank you for keeping our Pastorate in your daily prayers!

Father Steve

Friday, February 23, 2024

How Is The Transfiguration Relevant To Me?

Dear Parishioners,

You might be saying to yourself, “How is the Transfiguration of Christ relevant to me? I cannot seem to
relate to it.” Here are three considerations. First, each of us can probably relate to at least one of the men present with Jesus: Moses and Peter did not initially want to answer God’s call, Elijah fell into despair, and Peter was sometimes double-minded and even denied Christ. They were human just like you and me, with strengths and weaknesses. Second, we can relate to the apostles’ experience of the presence of the transfigured Christ on the mountain when we receive the presence of the Christ in the Eucharistic at Mass—a real Communion with the living God in our midst. Just as Christ’s transfiguration strengthened Peter, James, and John to endure Jesus’ impending suffering and death, so Jesus in the Eucharist gives us grace to endure our trials and suffering while looking forward to the glory of the Resurrection. Third, each of those five men did not choose God, but God chose them first—just like He has called each of us, regardless of who we are or what we’ve done or not done, and has given each of us a particular mission He has not entrusted to another.

“Listen to him.” The context of the Transfiguration is also significant. It follows after Jesus had just
taught the apostles that he must suffer and die before rising from the dead, and that the apostles too must deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow him to their death… THIS message—the message of the cross before the resurrection—is what the Father reinforces by saying, “Listen to him.” The cross and glory belong together. Christ’s transfiguration also foreshadows the changing of our own bodies at Jesus’ Second Coming, when Paul says that Christ will “change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body” (Phil 3:21). Lastly, when we receive Jesus’ crucified and glorified Body and Blood in Holy Communion, we too hear the Father’s voice speaking to us in the depth of our hearts: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”—a perfect segue to…

Our Pastorate Lenten Mission on March 4th and 5th will teach you how to listen to Him speak in the depth of your soul through what the saints have called “mental prayer.” Fr. Steve has asked me to present Fr. Jacques Philippe’s book on mental prayer, “Time for God”— a book that I’ve found invaluable in helping me find God “in solitude and silence …in order to enter into intimate, loving communication with Him” (page 1). This 2-part mission (each lasting only 1 hour) will summarize Fr. Jacques’ most important tips and include time to actually practice mental prayer using these tips. Day 1 is March 4 at 7 pm at OLC in the church; Day 2 is March 5 at 7 pm at SJF in the church.

Peace in Christ,
Father Jim

Friday, February 16, 2024

Pray, Fast, Give: 40 Days To Holiness

Dear Parishioners,

Wow, we’re in the first week of Lent already. Seems like we just finished the Christmas Season. Lent is the season to pray, fast, and give alms. All three practices need to be real and should lead us closer to Jesus. Every Christian needs to take these disciplines seriously. Everyone can pray, fast, and give alms in appropriate and meaningful ways. They are the ways to grow in holiness. Our goal this Lent should be to grow in holiness. Go to the desert with Christ through works of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In that desert, we will come to know Christ our Lord, and at Easter will emerge a more holy person. A great journey of faith during this Lenten season.

In Mark’s Gospel this week (Mark 1:12–15), we are told that Jesus went into the desert for 40 days immediately after his baptism, led by the Spirit. Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee begins after his temptation in the desert. The fact that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert is significant. This recalls the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after being led from slavery in Egypt. The prophet Elijah also journeyed in the desert for 40 days and nights, making his way to Horeb, the mountain of God, where he was also attended to by an angel of the Lord. There are many other examples. The number 40 in scripture symbolizes testing and trial for spiritual preparation in growing closer to God. Remembering the significance of these events, we also set aside 40 days for the season of Lent. This is to prepare ourselves for new growth in holiness. We come out of the ashes into new life in Christ.

Don’t be afraid to be holy! Holiness is feeling the presence of Christ within your heart, and allowing that presence to guide, support, and inspire you to live a life that conforms with what God wants of you. Are you ready to go into the desert?

God Bless,
Deacon Howard

Friday, February 9, 2024

Here Comes Lent!

Dear Friends of our Pastorate,

Our readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us once again of the healing power of Jesus Christ on those who are afflicted with illness and disease. A leper approaches Jesus, begging him to make him clean. Immediately Jesus is moved with pity and heals him. In Jesus’ day, this disease would have caused this person to be isolated and removed from the community. Now through this encounter with Jesus, he is made whole again and can be welcomed back. Jesus can do the same for each one of us as well. When we approach Jesus with our “illnesses” and “diseases” that isolate us from others, and ask him to heal us, he can and will do it! God’s mercy and compassion for us is endless, if only we approach the Lord with humility and trust.

A great church season that helps us to do this is Lent, which happens to begin this week, on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14th. Please join us for Masses at 8:30am and 7:00pm at both parishes. Ashes will be distributed at all Masses. Dedicate yourself to “turning away from sin and being faithful to the Gospel” during this Lenten Season. As a reminder, Ash Wednesday is one of the Church’s special penitential days of fasting and abstaining from meat—a small sacrifice to make in response to our Lord’s sacrifice for us.

We have a couple of Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras celebrations this week on Feb. 13th. Join Scout Troop 414 at St. Jane Frances Parish Hall for the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner from 4:30pm to 7:00pm. In addition, join Fr. Steve as he “guest bartends” from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Rumor Meal on Mountain Rd. for our Mardi Gras celebration. A percentage of all proceeds that evening (4:00pm–9:00pm) from dine in or carry out will benefit OLC.

Stations of the Cross and the Knights of Columbus Lenten Fish Fry Fridays begin this Friday, Feb. 16th at St. Jane Frances. Stop by for dinner at St. Jane Parish Hall from 4:00pm to 7:00pm for a delicious Lenten appropriate seafood meal, then stop by the Church at 7:00pm for Stations of the Cross.

The 2024 Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries is in full swing! This year’s theme is “Faith in Action—Transforming Lives, Impacting Communities.” Many of us have received information about the appeal in the mail and have responded by making a donation. This weekend, all of us will have an opportunity to make our pledge and commitment to the Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries. Your donations serve people throughout the Archdiocese, including our local pastorate parishes. The parish goal for St. Jane Frances is $62,158 and for Our Lady of the Chesapeake, it is $60,290. All monies raised through the Annual Appeal are considered restricted gifts and will go to support the Church’s many outreach programs, educational needs, and social services including the essential works of Catholic Charities. Please be as generous as you can and support the 2024 Annual Appeal for Catholic Ministries.

And don’t forget to mark your calendars for the St. Patrick’s Day Bazaar on Friday, March 15th at St. Jane Hall and School. This is a great family friendly event!

Thank you for keeping our Pastorate in your daily prayers!

Father Steve

Friday, February 2, 2024

Everyone Is Looking For You, Jesus!

Dear Friends,

“Everyone is looking for you, Jesus!” In today’s gospel from Mark (Mk 1:29-39), in the early morning Simon Peter hunts down Jesus, eagerly looking to find Him after the whole town of Capernaum had been at Peter’s door the night before when Jesus had cured the sick and cast out demons, His first public healing service. When Peter finally found Jesus in a deserted place, praying, he said, “Everyone is looking for you!” Although everyone knows that it is Jesus who heals, Jesus chooses to heal others not solo but with his disciples present, telling Peter, “Let’s go to the nearby villages.”

Today, everyone is still looking for Jesus, whether they know it or not. Pope Benedict XVI put it this way: “We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ: they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman. Everyone today, whether he or she knows it or not, needs this message. It is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.” [VERBUM DOMINI (The Word of the Lord), #91. 2010]. Just as Jesus wanted his disciples to accompany Him in His ministry of healing and proclamation of the gospel in Galilee, He also wants us to accompany Him in His work today by healing and proclaiming through us. And why is Jesus’ healing ministry and our involvement in it so important?

The answer lies in the deeper meaning we discover by discerning how the 1st reading (Jb 7:1-4, 6-7) connects to the gospel reading. Here we find Job—who represents every human person who suffers, ie, all of us—despondent in the midst of his suffering: “I shall not see happiness again.” (Job 7:7). But 12 chapters later Job proclaims, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25). Job, in his desire for healing prophetically, points hundreds of years later to Jesus in the gospel beginning his healing ministry in Capernaum. The deeper meaning of today’s readings, reflected in our Responsorial Psalm, is this: “(God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. The LORD sustains the lowly. Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.” (Psalm 147).

God ALWAYS brings good from suffering: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.” (Romans 8:28). In these early weeks of Ordinary time, early in Jesus’ ministry, let us have the faith of Job, confident that Jesus heals and restores in His perfect timing. Our Redeemer lives and is present to us on earth in our trials and suffering—most directly in His sacraments, and also in the loving care of others, and when we seek Him in prayer.

Peace in Christ,
Father Jim

Friday, January 26, 2024

Authority

Brothers and Sisters,

The world today seems to struggle against any authority. We are determined to be our own authority. We reject the healing, peace, and security that come from yielding to God’s authority. When we choose to go our own way, we open ourselves to the influences of the world. We are going to allow some authority in our life, whether it be our choosing or by failing to choose. When there is a void in our life, it is usually filled by something. Evil can creep in when we slowly lose our faith and trust in God. When we allow or choose some authority for our life other than God, it can manifest as a lack of hope, lack of love, lack of direction, or a lack of meaning in our lives. The cure for this evil is a faith in God and accepting His authority in our life just as Jesus shows us.

Jesus is the true prophet promised by Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. We need true prophets. The world still needs prophets, those who live like the future is now. For us disciples, we are to be those prophets, who preach and live Kingdom values. Just like Jesus did. Jesus spoke the truth, there was no division between his words and his life. The challenge for us, as Jesus’ disciples, is to follow his lead, and to proclaim Jesus with authority with words and actions so compelling that they capture the attention and imagination of those who hear us. It all comes from the same characteristics we see in Jesus.

Are we people who practice what we preach? Do we do what we say by living the truth, the truth of Christ in our lives. When we do, we, too, will teach with authority.

God Bless,
Deacon Howard

Friday, January 19, 2024

The Hardest Thing To Do

Dear Friends,

1. Nineveh, B.C. Why did Jesus give his followers such a seemingly impossible command: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27)? For the same reason God commands Jonah in today’s 1st Reading (Jonah 3:1-5, 10) to preach to the Ninevites (whom Jonah hated, and initially resisted going to) their need for repentance: because God is a merciful God who “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). And the method God prefers to communicate this mercy to those who are far from Him is through you and me—our words and actions. God wants us to demonstrate today the truth of what was repeated in a variety of ways throughout the Old Testament: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15). When Jonah preached “the message that I [the Lord] will tell you,” God, with Jonah, changed the world, and Nineveh was saved.

2. Galilee, 30 A.D. As God called Jonah in his lifetime to preach repentance for the salvation of souls, so in today’s gospel (Mark 1:14-20), Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to do the same in their lifetimes: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When Peter and Andrew preached the message the Lord told them, ie, “Go therefore and… teach them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20), God—with Peter and Andrew—changed the world, and many are were saved.

3. Pasadena, 2024. As God called Jonah and Peter and Andrew in their lifetimes to preach repentance for the salvation of souls, who is He calling to do this today on our peninsula in your lifetime? Clearly the Lord calls you and me. 

A Twist to the “3 in 1” Challenge. In October, about 400 of us made a commitment to evangelize “3 people in 1 year.” I continue to be inspired by many in our pastorate who are sharing their “invitation stories” and how this challenge has changed your whole perspective on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, and how you’re experiencing in a new way the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life and in the lives of those you’re reaching out to. Now here’s the hardest thing to do: 

The Challenge of Jonah: “Can I reach out to one who hates me?” 

It’s hard to love our enemies; we can relate to Jonah’s hesitancy. Yet, God calls us to reach out to them. He knows we cannot do this on our own, which is why He Himself provides the source of strength to do so: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). If we don’t love our enemies, who will? Thy Will be Done, Lord.

Peace in Christ,
Father Jim