Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The End Times



Dear Parishioners,

Today’s readings challenge us to reflect on the end times (Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19).
In the first reading from the Book of Malachi (Mal 3:19-20), the prophet warns of the ruin of evil doers and the healing and restoration of the first. St. Paul, in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thes 3:7-12), encourages perseverance through “toil and drudgery”—and not being busybodies.

In St. Luke’s gospel (Lk 21:5-19), Jesus speaks of natural disasters, including earthquakes, famines, and plagues as well as wars and persecutions, before His second coming.

Deepening our discipleship in Christ leads to a more deeper and personal relationship with Him and strengthens us. Pray daily, go to confession regularly, and attend Mass frequently to receive Christ’s strength through the Eucharist during difficult times. As Jesus says at the end of today’s gospel, “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 8, 2019

Attitude Of Gratitude

Dear Parishioners,

I like the prayer of the faithful during Mass where we ask to have a prayerful “attitude of gratitude.” Gratitude seems to be in short supply these days. The common feeling I encounter is more like that of entitlement or a sense of pride. I grew up in a home that had few privileges. I wasn’t one to feel better than others. Thus, it is easy for me to be thankful for the many things that I have received from God.

I have a strong faith and believe that God has blessed me beyond measure. I have been blessed with a good education and a fulfilling and useful career. My health has been good, and even though I can get the senior discount, I am thankful for being upright. I have been married for 44 years to a wonderful woman who is gentle and caring and certainly one who has to put up more from me than I from her! My children and grandchildren have carried us on some interesting paths, but the trip has made life a joy, filled with a fullness of love that leaves me smiling. God opened my eyes to the diaconate and showed me a life of service and giving. I have been brought here to St. Jane through several parishes and shown the great good that is the Church. I have failed many times to live up to the model of Christ, but his grace has always been with me, even when I failed to listen. I cannot hesitate to manifest an attitude of gratitude. I cannot respond to the saving love of Christ without an attitude of gratitude. I cannot look to my life without thanking God for the abundance of his gifts.

During this month of Thanksgiving, this month of stewardship, this month of gratitude, let us loudly proclaim our thankfulness for all the good that God has given us.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, November 1, 2019

November: Month of All Souls

Dear Parishioners,

November 2nd is All Soul’s Day when we not only remember our deceased relatives and friends, but also pray for them. We do so because they might not yet be in heaven but in purgatory. If so, our prayers, sacrifices, and almsgiving can expedite their entry into heaven. Going to Mass on November 2nd is a great help, but also going to any cemetery on the 2nd and the next 8 days to pray for them is a big help as well. Since November is the Month of All Souls in Purgatory, it would be good to pray daily for these souls and encourage all family members—especially our children—to do so as well.

While our thoughts are on the dead, it might be wise to ensure that we are prepared for our entry into the next life. Is our Will up to date? Do we have a power of attorney prepared? How about advanced medical directives? When someone dies, a funeral director is usually contacted, who then calls the church and then meets with the family. The Church’s preference is that Catholics be buried in consecrated ground of a Catholic cemetery, but other cemeteries may be chosen. Cremation is allowed, but the Church recommends burial over cremation. If cremation is chosen, cremation should take place after the funeral Mass, and cremains must also be interred in the ground or columbarium or a vault. They should not be kept at home, scattered, or divided among family members. They should be given the same respect as a deceased body. A centuries-old custom is to celebrate a Mass for the deceased on the one month anniversary of their death, called a Month’s Mind Mass. And it is customary to arrange for Mass intentions for the deceased, perhaps on their birthday, anniversary, or death date.

Finally, why not check the bulletin for the Masses honoring the Souls, and come and pray for them. Hopefully, when our time comes, they will be praying for us!

Fr. Carl

Friday, October 25, 2019

Celebrate Life!

Dear Parishioners,

My legs are sore. Last week on a beautiful crisp fall Saturday, I ran 3 miles off and on. The run took place in Washington DC during a fundraising 5 K for Children’s National Hospital. My involvement with the hospital began several years ago. My granddaughter Natalie was in the hospital having heart surgery. She was less than a year old. What my wife and I found out later was that she was really fighting for her life. She was down to only several pounds. She was not eating. She looked emaciated like one of those babies you see on feeding the hungry commercials. She was there for quite a while during which we brought her older sister for visits and to provide some relief to her beleaguered parents. That hospital is a place of miracles. She survived and now thrives.

The Saturday race was a big affair. We collected a couple thousand dollars for the cause, and we had a team of 10 people to walk and run. The coolest part was that Natalie—with the help of her Nana and her Dad—was able to slowly, and with stuttering steps, walk over the finish line. I got the picture! I believe that this is a pro-life story. This is the action of God working through us to allow life to prevail. This is the coming together of many family and professionals to rescue a small little girl from encroaching darkness. This is a life story that reflects how the small breath of God that resides in a broken body can prosper and grow. This shows how faith and trust and community and expertise and a giving spirit make things better. God gave this little one a spark of life, and it continues to brighten. This is what the month of October celebrates.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, October 18, 2019

Persistent Prayer

Dear Parishioners,

There were “big doings” in Rome last Sunday as the pope canonized 5 new saints. There were 3 nuns, a lay woman, and Cardinal John Henry Newman. Born in England in 1801, he became a priest of the Church of England. After doing some research on the early church, he decided to become Catholic. This decision cost him dearly as he lost many friends and family members. One sister never spoke to him again. He became a Catholic priest several years later and finally a cardinal many years later. He was a brilliant theologian, poet, and writer of hymns. Our opening hymn the last two Sundays was written by him. A modest and quiet man, but one of great integrity, he followed his conscience and not the voice of popular opinion or culture. He serves as an excellent role model amidst our troubled times.

In today’s Scripture readings (Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tm 3:14–4:2; Lk 18:1-8), persistent prayer is the primary theme. Moses’ continual prayer atop a hill allows Joshua to win the battle over Amalek. In St. Luke’s gospel, the widow’s persistence and determination results in a just decision from the unjust judge. Good Christian stewards recognize the importance of daily and persistent conversation with God. Faith-filled disciples seek and accept God’s response and always remember to express gratitude for his abundant blessings. As St. Padre Pio said, “Prayer is the oxygen for the soul.” October is the month of the rosary. Learn the great prayer and pray it daily. It only takes 15 minutes. The Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor.

Fr. Carl

P.S. The pope prays 4 rosaries a day!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Respect Life

Dear Parishioners,

October is Respect Life month in the life of the Church. For all of us, respecting life should be about an attitude toward God’s creation, toward our personal lives and the lives of all of those in our society. The USCCB elucidates seven themes of Catholic social teaching. Human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the moral foundation of our society. This involves protecting the life of the unborn and the elderly, and being aware of the impact of cloning and embryonic stem cell research. This attitude calls us to know the moral threat of the death penalty. The intentional killing of civilians in war and terror attacks is morally wrong. The protection of the family follows as well the need for respect and dignity. The importance of marriage as a powerful force in the stability of society cannot be understated. Awareness of our rights in this society but also our responsibilities to each other and the common good is another part of the firm ground of our teaching. Protection of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disabled is a clear choice we should make. I think this includes immigrants seeking a better life. They are aliens, and God’s people were aliens and slaves in a foreign land. Expecting our economy to serve people, the dignity of work, and the rights of workers are basic tenets of our moral teaching. The idea that we are one human family, all created in the image of God, is also morally promoted. Finally, respect for God’s creation in this beautiful garden of the environment is another theme of our Christian life.

Let us pray for and contemplate these aspects of our lives and thus make choices that support life in all its forms and manifestations. The God of creation will be pleased, I hope, if we respect the many fruits of His work.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, October 4, 2019

Time, Our Most Precious Gift

Dear Parishioners,

For the past two weekends, I’ve been talking about stewardship, which started when God gave Adam and Eve dominion over His creation and told them to cultivate the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, they were not good stewards and lost their privileged position as God’s friends. Thanks to Jesus, we have regained God’s friendship and gifts of Time, Talent, and Treasure. If we are truly grateful, we won’t hoard these gifts just for ourselves; we will share them with God and neighbor.

Let us concentrate for the next several weeks on “Time.” What might we give to God to show our appreciation for the time he has given us already and will give us in the future? Are we willing to sacrifice some extra time in prayers each day? How about some extra time with the entire family?

This is the month of the “Rosary.” For on Oct. 7, 1571, the outnumbered Christian naval forces won a stunning victory over the Turkish Muslim forces at Lepanto, preventing them from over-running the Christian lands in Europe. This happened as Pope Pius V, with a number of his Dominican brothers were praying the rosary in Rome. So, why not spend an extra 15 minutes a day praying the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, or Luminous mysteries? As a matter of fact, Pope Francis prays all 4 sets each day. Or perhaps you could give the Lord 15 minutes each evening reading the Gospels. We just had St. Jerome’s feast who wrote: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” After all, it’s the best seller of all times!

Whatever sacrifice of your time you give back to God will not be forgotten. Your generosity to God will be outdone in one way or another—either now or in the future.

Fr. Carl