Friday, February 22, 2019

Courageous and Authentic Shepherds

Dear Parishioners,

I received a letter from St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana recently. This is the Benedictine monastery that is home to about 80 monks, priests, and brothers that organizes and administers the Permanent Deacon formation program from which I was ordained in 2012.

I expected that the letter would be a request for money. But it was a quite different letter. It was from Fr. Dennis Robinson, the colorful rector of the seminary. The letter acknowledges that the Church, “has been bruised by the sinful and abhorrent actions of men we trusted to lead us to Jesus Christ.” (It is a sign of this sad state that Cardinal McCarrick was recently defrocked and is no longer a priest.) He goes on to assure those served by the Archabbey that the next generation of priests, permanent deacons, and lay ministers will be “courageous and authentic shepherds” of the Church. It continues that the people of God deserve ministers of prayer, who are intelligent and willing to “pour out their lives at the altar of this world’s challenges.” He is filled with hope at the men and women who go through St. Meinrad proclaiming God’s reign, justice, and kingdom through their talent and courage. Finally, he notes that “if I have to drop dead doing it” priests, deacons and lay ministers will serve the Church well, provide the ministry it deserves, and represent the Church without compromise.

Let us all work through this crisis in the Church not by abandoning it, but with resolve, hope, and courage. This Church, the bride of Christ, the home of the people of God will not be so easily stopped. It has faced many significant challenges over the years. The Holy Spirit and the strong will of all of us who love the Church will persist.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, February 15, 2019

Counting Your Blessings

Dear Parishioners,

Sometimes it seems that some people in life are blessed and others are cursed. The motto of the latter group might well be: “If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

Those who seemed blessed have it all: money, popularity, good looks, successful careers, etc, while the cursed have none of those things and a multitude of problems as well. However, the scriptures today (Jer 17:5-8, 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20, Lk 6:17, 20-26) tell us this is an illusion; it is not real. Those who are blessed are those who trust and hope in the Lord, for that forms a relationship that will lead to an everlasting blessing in heaven. Whereas all the supposed earthly blessings will be left behind when we leave this world.

So when life is not treating us kindly, if we but trust and hope in the Lord, we should rejoice and be glad; our reward will be great in heaven.

Fr. Carl

Friday, February 8, 2019

Thank God For Life

Dear Parishioners,

Our family has been graced with another child! Little Harper Joy was born a week and a half ago to my daughter and her husband. She is, of course, very cute. Although it was getting tense around our house with a cranky pregnant lady, that has changed with the presence of this small and delicate infant. You forget how small they come. Her delicate hands that grasp your finger, her small mouth and nose, those sleepy eyes that reveal little blueish circles of color. Of course she has no hair as is our family manner! Is it not a miracle the whole process of conception, pregnancy and birth? How is it that God has given us so much responsibility in having children, so much need to take care of health and diet, so much grace in the glow and general joy of pregnancy (well most of the time), and so much hope and optimism in the starting of new life? We have been given such a gift by God in this process of renewal, generation and creation. How tenderly does a new mother hold her new born child. How loving is her voice. How caring is her touch. It is a great pleasure to behold and see the warmth and welcome that this little one has been given. How anyone could harm one such as this is beyond me. But life can become cruel in its suffering and turmoil. So thank you Lord for the powerful recognition of your generous gift of life that visits us with such joy and presence. Thank you for the witness of your creative power. Thank you for your smile upon our humble lives in the form of this small and precious being. We can only repay you by living rightly and joyfully. For all that is wrong about our world, there are still some things that call us to rest in the love of God.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, February 1, 2019

Get More Out Of Mass

Dear Parishioners,

Congratulations to our young people who are receiving the sacrament of confirmation this weekend. They are receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit which they first received when they were baptized. They underwent a lengthy period of preparation for this big day, and the parish is proud of their perseverance and growth during the past year. We also look forward to their future involvement in the parish and the church.

As we begin a new year, I would like to share a few thoughts from the pope to help us get more out of Mass. “Mass is the highest form of prayer and not an appropriate moment for small talk,” Pope Francis said. At church, Catholics should spend their time in silence before Mass, preparing “to meet with Jesus” instead of engaging in “chit chat,” the pope said Nov. 15 during his weekly general audience. “We are not going to a show,” he said. “Silence prepares us and accompanies us.

The pope continued his new series of audience talks on the Mass, reflecting on the Eucharist as a form of prayer that is “the highest, the most sublime and at the same time, the most concrete” way of encountering God’s love. “this is the greatest grace: to experience that the Eucharist is the privileged moment to be with Jesus and, through him, with God and with our brothers and sisters,” the pope said. (Catholic Review, Dec. 2017)

Fr. Carl

Friday, January 25, 2019

Life Is A Gift

Dear Parishioners,

I left church today with a lot on my mind. I read a book in college that I have been thinking about called, “I and Thou.” It is by a Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, written in the 1930s. It is profound in that it identifies the relationship that God has with us as a “Thou.” This means that we are seen from God's perspective as not to be things to be used by others. That is we are not just customers or consumers or seniors or voters or employees. We are deeper than that. We are an instance of God’s divine creativity, each endowed with dignity and value. Each of us is given gifts to develop. I think our world does not work like that. The world sees us for what it can get out of us. To some bosses, we are only looked at as 40 hours of work. To others, we are seen as someone to scam. To others, we are a paycheck or a ride or a good time. You know what I mean. God sees us as we are: truly miraculous living beings. We are not things to be used for some purpose or another. We have been given God’s gift of life and this is more precious than all the gold in Fort Knox! We are allowed to see and feel and move and love and have relationships and feel the warmth of the sun on a beach or hear the birds chirping in the morning on the deck. This life is a gift to explore and experience. God has made this so. He created this planet with its beauty and mystery to enthrall us. He gave us each other to love and enter into deep, caring, and committed relationships. All of this is gift, and we fit into it as God’s children whom he loves and cherishes. Let us open our eyes to this reality and thank God for his small miracles.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, January 18, 2019

Don’t You Need That?

Dear Parishioners,

You have been hearing a lot about Alpha lately. Let me tell you why. We are Catholic Christians. Because we claim the name “Christian,” we are called to follow Christ. Alpha, simply put, is to gain a greater love for Christ. Christ said many things in his short life. He brought people to himself and asked them to be his followers. He took them from their lives as fisherman and tax collectors, for instance, and gave them a new purpose and a new mission. They were to spread the Gospel of his human and divine life. They were to tell people about the miracles he did, the people he fed, the broken lives he healed. They were to talk about his wisdom, his humility, and his coming back from the dead after his brutal execution. Christ said that he is the vine, and we are the branches. He is the seed, and we are the soil. He is the poor, the hungry, the sick and in prison, and we are to visit and feed and heal. He said many things and did many things that, if we think about it, should lead us to a radical life of service and giving to one another.

If we are content and satisfied in our lives in the face of the suffering of our fellow human beings, and do nothing, then we haven't gotten His message. Alpha is a program that shares videos, discussion, and a meal to energize our love for Christ. If we are content, it is because of God; and if we are satisfied, it is because of God. In the light of God’s generosity, we are to share our time, talent, and treasure. Alpha is a way to relearn the basics of our faith. Alpha is to help us know that we are hungry for God’s love. It is to allow the Holy Spirit to come upon us and send us out into our lives with the fire of faith. Don’t you need that?

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, January 11, 2019

The “Food Place”

Dear Parishioners,

I go to NCEON every week on Wednesday to help move food. I am sure you have heard about NCEON. It is a food pantry that supports the needs of the poor in north Anne Arundel county. It stands for the North County Emergency Outreach Network. St. Jane Frances is one of the biggest supporters of the program. John Ena does a wonderful job of collecting and organizing food, and the parish is wonderful in its generous support. It is in a small building on the grounds of a small church in Glen Burnie. The place was closed over the holidays. I went back after New Years. I help in taking in and sorting food that is dropped off, and making it ready for people to take home. The first Wednesday back, we had a very busy day with numerous large drop offs.

The night before I was to go to NCEON, my granddaughter asked about the “food place.”

She told me that she had something for me to take. She comes up with a large box filled with cans and boxes of food items. She tells me that over the month of December, she put something in the box every day, that her mom said it was ok. Of course I was happy to take her donation and was also proud to tell the other NCEON workers about it. This represents her giving spirit that I think is placed there by the Holy Spirit. And certainly the generosity of a child underscores the great love that it represents.

Let us therefore, believe in each other and in the great God who created us. We have the task to take care of each other. This is basic to our religious DNA, to our faith, to the life of the person who died to save us. May we be generous of ourselves, our time, our talents, and our treasure.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve