Friday, December 7, 2018

Prepare Your Heart For Christmas

Dear Parishioners,

This week and next, John the Baptist appears on the scene to prepare the people of his time for the coming of Christ (Luke 3:1-6). None of us needs much urging to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas. We shop, bake, decorate, and send cards. And while all of that helps put us in the right and generous mood for Christmas, more is required to prepare us for Christ. There are spiritual preparations called for by John the Baptist. We need to level the mountains of pride, arrogance, and greed in our hearts and fill in the valleys of spiritual laziness (sloth) and indifference to the needs of others.

We are called to expand our hearts in generosity to God and neighbor.


Some ways to do this are through family prayer, attend an extra Mass during the week, giving alms or a gift to the poor and needy, or reading a short continuing section from the Gospel of Luke each night before bed. And certainly the most important thing as John proclaims is repentance for the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Confession available each Saturday afternoon from 3:30-4:30pm or by making an appointment with Fr. Carl at the rectory.

May you have a blessed Advent which will lead to a truly Merry Christmas.
Fr. Carl

Friday, November 30, 2018

Happy Advent!

Dear Parishioners,

As we begin our journey through Advent, let us be mindful of the importance of the season. While the Old Testament demonstrates the revelation of God to his people, Advent represents the coming of Christ to us, his people. The birth of Christ is a significant event in our religious heritage. This great news was announced in Isaiah, spoken about by the prophets and prepared for us by the history of the Old Testament. In this beautiful event, God touches us with his presence in the form of a baby, brought about through the intercession of our virgin Mother Mary, with angels singing and shepherds in awe. Here we find our spiritual roots. Here we see our Christian beginnings. On that day of glorious birth, our joys and hopes are made real. This is the day when the heavens open up and the son of God is brought to us. In the utter poverty of a stable, the King of the Nations is born.

So let us prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Let us clear out the cobwebs of our weaknesses. Let us sweep clean our so-so lives with renewed practice and sacrifice. Let us wash our dusty homes of doubt and question. Let us pick up our prayer books and clasp our hands in much needed prayer. Christ is coming. Christ is the full revelation of God. Nothing needs to be added or should anything be subtracted. God has given us in Christ all we need to reach heaven. Let this season of Advent bring our faith to a heightened level of strength through love.

Happy Advent everyone,
Deacon Steve

Friday, November 23, 2018

Christ the King

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. A recent celebration, it was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to counter several bad trends. First, there was an overly sentimental view of Jesus. The second trend was the idea or view that Jesus was irrelevant to this world. Religion was one thing; your politics and economics are another matter. Religion should not enter into the discussion. Third, it was a time when totalitarian governments were gaining ground—the Fascists in Italy under Mussolini, the Nazis in Germany, under Hitler, and the Communists in Russia under Lenin and Stalin. The people existed to serve the state and not the state to serve the people which is the way it should be.

Pope Pius XI placed the feast on the last Sunday of October. That was the Sunday closest to All Saints to show Jesus was the King of All Saints. When the liturgical calendar was reformed after the Second Vatican Council, it was moved to the last Sunday of the Church year. It serves as a reminder that at the end of our lives and at the end of the world, we will come before the throne of Jesus to be judged. “The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner, Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.” If we all understood this, how much better we and the world would all be. Let us do what we can do to recognize Jesus not just as the King of the World but also as the King of our lives.

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sharing Our Time, Talent, and Treasure

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend’s readings deal with the end of the world and God’s judgment (Dn 12:1-3; Heb 10:11-14,18; Mk 13:24-32). It’s a very sobering thought that all of us will be judged by God. For some, the news will be welcome; for others, not so much. As Daniel says about that time of judgment, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise will shine brightly…”

Last week, the readings presented two women who shall live forever and shine brightly. These are the widows who generously, lovingly, and sacrificially gave to God and neighbor. They were good stewards. Last week, as we celebrated Veterans’ Day and the 100th anniversary of World War I, we also celebrated Stewardship Sunday. I talked about the gifts God has entrusted to us in this life—the gifts of Time, Talent, and Treasure. Of course, they ultimately belong to God who has made us their stewards while we live. Like all stewards, we will be called to give an account of how we used them. Hopefully, we will be able to imitate the widows of last week in generously sharing these gifts with God and neighbor.

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 9, 2018

The Widow's Mite

Dear Parishioners,

In this week’s gospel, Jesus tells the famous story of the widow’s mite (Mk 12:38-44). This poor woman without any source of income approaches the Temple and gives her last two coins. It wasn’t much, but it was all she could give. Last week, Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is what the widow did sacrificing all the money she possessed. What a great example for love to inspire us to greater generosity in giving our time, talent, and treasure.

Let’s contrast her attitude with that of some modern day Catholics. I hear and read in the media that because of recent scandals in the Church, some people are cutting back or stopping their contributions to show their disappointment and anger to the manner in which clerical abuse was handled. Perhaps some are even giving up the church and the faith. How sad that would be. During the widow’s time, the temple authorities were hardly models of virtue. Time and again, Jesus is tested by the religious leaders of his day. The widow could easily have justified keeping the coins for herself, but her love for God led her to give to Him through the Temple. Even has the widow been aware of the faults of the religious leaders, I cannot imagine her doing anything other than she did. Her heart was too full and generous to do anything other than give her coins to God.

Let us not overlook the sins of abuse and coverup. Let us continue to pray for the victims of abuse. But let us be generous to God with our time, talent, and treasure to help build up his kingdom on earth and heaven.

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 2, 2018

Love

Dear Parishioners,

Our readings today illustrate the commandments that Jesus has given us (Mk 12:28b-34). He asks us to love God with all our being and to love each other. Of course, these lead to a beautiful, full and balanced life if we follow them. There is no room for hatred, injustice, selfishness or pride. We are to bow down to worship God our Father, our creator, Jesus His son, our friend and Savior and the Holy Spirit, the gift of power that opens our minds and hearts. We are to love those in our lives who are on the journey with us. We are to love all humanity, for we are all children of God. We all know the commands of God. We know what he expects of us. It is in the doing that we often fail and fall down. It is that little anger or resentment, that selfish desire, that bad habit, that automatic thought that takes us away from God that we need to worry about. It is that stranger we don’t trust, that person who hurts us that we suspect, that individual whom we do not understand that we avoid. In little pieces, here and there, we cut ourselves off from God’s love, and we fail. Let us today hear God’s word, that perfect healing word, that life-giving word that extends us to the fullness of His love. Yes, it is risky. Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, it is challenging. But the Church has been carried on the shoulders of those who follow these commands for two millennium. Can we also carry it for a little while?

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, October 26, 2018

Help Me, Jesus

Dear Parishioners,

I hate to admit it but sometimes it is hard to live out my faith.

I hope this isn’t shocking to people. The model of Christ sets a high standard for our thoughts and actions. Life for me contains many distractions and sometimes downright obstructions. I live with a wife, daughter, son-in-law, and their children, one of whom is a special needs child. To say the least, there are moods that flow through our house at times. I’m sure you know what I mean. The 4-year old has a blowout in her diaper which goes everywhere, or the 6-year old breaks something by bouncing her ball, or the daughter, who is pregnant, needs ice cream, or the son-in-law is looking in the crowded garage for a tool he needs to stop the faucet leak. Yeah, and then there is the need to get up early because I have a Communion service, and the phone says there is an accident on Rt. 2, but the Philadelphia Eagles game went late, and they lost, and I didn’t get to sleep until 2. My brother’s caretaker is calling because he can’t find his Medicare card. I put down my prayer book somewhere. And the car needs gas. Have you had those times and kind of lost your Christian attitude? You know you are to trust the Holy Spirit for grace and patience, but it ain’t working this morning! Life and faith sometimes have a head on collision.

At these times, I try to stop (not an easy task), take a breath, and pause for a second or maybe two seconds. I grab my thoughts (another hard one) and focus on the cross. I center on the cross. “Help me, Jesus” I say in a tired but sincere voice. “Help me, Jesus.” And somehow, things get right, and life is restored. For another day at least!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve