Friday, October 19, 2018

No Pain, No Gain

Dear Parishioners,
“No pain, no gain.”
I first heard this phrase 40 years ago from a U.S. Marine gunnery sergeant. At that time, I was at the Navy Chaplain School in Newport, RI. Gunny Crank was leading us through our morning PT exercises, and he noticed some of the chaplains were having difficulties, especially in the running. He was telling us that if we wanted to get in shape, there was going to be some pain in the process.

It’s the same in spiritual growth. Our natural inclination to be admired and valued is to do better than others so as to receive recognition and honor. So we strive to outdo others. That might be the way of the world, but it’s not the way of Jesus. True greatness for Jesus is service, and that’s painful because it hurts our pride for we want to be served. However, Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.” (Matt 20:26) Several popes have been given the title “Great” like “Leo the Great” and “Gregory the Great,” but their favorite title is “Servant of the Servants of God.” Now none of us is likely to be called “great” by those who survive us, but if we make it to heaven by serving God and neighbor, we will be great.

Fr. Carl

Friday, October 12, 2018

Respect Life Month

Dear Parishioners,

October is Respect Life month. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has labeled the theme for the month as “Every life: cherished, chosen and sent.” We are cherished by God, created in His image; chosen by God to be in relationship with Him; and sent by God to spread his love. The bishops are using the appearance of Mary, Mother of God to St. Juan Diego in 1531 as the backdrop for the month. If you recall, near present day Mexico City, Juan Diego encountered Mary who, in the form of Our Lady of Guadalupe, instructed him to ask the bishop to build a church for her and her son. This church, now the New Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City displays his cloak with Mary's glorious image.

Abortion is the main issue of Pro-life activities, with others being assisted suicide, issues at the end of life, contraception, persons with disabilities and healing from abortion. There are others.

In response to the encyclical of St. John Paul II called The Gospel of Life, the US bishops wrote in 1998, Living the Gospel of Life. Here they suggest that opposing abortion and euthanasia, “does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health issues.” My view of Pro-life includes these many issues that impact Godly living. Let us this month, pray for and cherish the life of the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the war torn, the victims of racism, the hungry, the homeless, the imprisoned, the uneducated and those suffering for lack of health care. God asks us, I believe, to go against all suffering and injustice.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Case For Marriage

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s scripture readings (Gn 2:18-24; Mk 10:2-16) deal with Holy Matrimony which goes all the way back to creation. In the Book of Genesis, we hear how delighted Adam is when Eve is given to him in the Garden of Eden. “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Even though Adam was in Eden with total control over the garden, something was missing—a partner that would complete him. And so Eve is created from a rib of Adam’s side to show that she is equal in dignity although different in other ways.

These days people in seeing so many failed marriages are more reluctant to enter into a life-long commitment and dedicating their lives to another person. But when you look at a couple married for a long time, you see how worthwhile it is. I have been reading a book entitled “The Case for Marriage.” The authors describe studies that show married people are happier, healthier, and better off financially. One study found that 40 percent of married men said they are very happy with life compared to 25 percent of unmarried men. Another study showed that marriage improves mental health. While still another study showed that married surgical patients were far less likely to die in the hospital than singles. As for finance, studies show husbands earn 10–40 percent more than unmarried men. In short, marriage is a win-win-win proposition. No wonder Adam was so pleased to be given a wife.

However, as those of you who are married know, a good marriage requires maturity, work, and sacrifice. But the benefits are surely worth the effort.

Finally, one reality not discussed in the book is the purpose of marriage. Actually there are two ends: procreation and mutual support to grow in holiness, so as to get to heaven. May God’s grace help our married couples in achieving those ends.

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 28, 2018

Gratefulness

Dear Parishioners,

Well, we have encountered the beginning of fall. You can feel it in the air, just a little cooler. Some trees agree with a few yellowing and reddening leaves. I appreciate the changing of the seasons. God has given us a world that is immensely interesting and changeable. My wife and I took a long walk on the eastern shore. The diversity of the trees was amazing. What was truly inspiring was the number and diversity of the butterflies we encountered. There were large Monarchs, black and purple ones, white ones. We saw several small, half-inch butterflies. And along the beach were numerous pieces of driftwood. Each was somewhat different in shape and hue. How can this be? The diversity of the world reflects the imagination of God. Just as every face of the people we meet is different, so are the manifestations of life: trees, butterflies, driftwood, clouds. I know that there are many troubles in this world. There are the effects of a terrible hurricane and its devastating and destructive impact on an entire region of the country. There are places in the west lost to raging fires. And there is a 6-year old civil war in Syria that has displaced millions and destabilized Europe. Yet in the midst of this turmoil, which we pray for, God offers us a simple and beautiful piece of the world to be in. Amid the strife and agony, there are small places of joy locked up in the presence of a small butterfly. Thank you Lord for your beauty and diversity.

Your wondrous imagination leads us to appreciate your greatness and creation. Thank you for the world you have given us. Help us to live in it with respect and appreciation, seeking not to destroy it with our selfishness and desire. It is a gift that sustains us. Make us wise in our use of it.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, September 21, 2018

Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

Dear Parishioners,

Those of you who keep up with the news are aware of the problems in the Church. In the fifty years leading up to the year 2000, there were some priests, deacons, and seminarians who behaved shamefully. And the bishops failed in their responsibility to take appropriate corrective action and tried to cover up the problems. As we read in this week’s Gospel (Mk 9:30-37), the apostles Jesus chose acted poorly as they discussed who was the greatest. When questioned by Jesus, they were too embarrassed to tell him what they were discussing. The Church has always had a good portion of weak, sinful men and women.

But the Church has also had some great, wonderful saints! This weekend—Sept. 23rd—is the feast day of one of the great ones of the 20th century, St. Pio of Pietrelcina. He was more readily known as Padre Pio. Ordained in 1910, he spent a short time in the Italian army during WWI. In 1917, he was sent to the friary of San Giovanni Retondo on the Adriatic coast. A year later, while praying after Mass, he had a vision of Jesus. When it ended, he had the wounds of Jesus (the stigmata) on his hands, feet, and side. The stigmata has been given only to a few saints in the history of the Church and is a sign of sanctity. As news of him spread, busloads of people came to his 5:00am Mass and went to him for confession. Often he heard confession for 10–15 hours a day! One special gift was of bilocation or being in two places at the same time. Allied pilots during WWII while attempting to bomb the area around San Giovanni Retondo report seeing a Franciscan friar in robes flying along with their planes and were too intimidated to drop the bombs!

He so loved the Mass saying, “It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” His motto was “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” That’s good advice for us all today.

God Bless,
Fr. Carl

Friday, September 14, 2018

Let Us Pray

Dear Parishioners,

We are a church of prayer. Prayer weaves through the other important areas of our faith such as liturgy, ministry, sacraments, and stewardship. We have unveiled a wooden box for prayer requests at the back of church. Father will check it weekly and personally pray over each request.

For me, we are a church of ministry and action, going out to the world to do what God has asked us and which Christ has amply demonstrated. But first and foremost, any action must be grounded in prayer. We pray. Right now in the history of our church, it is a time of prayer. It is time to focus on what our mission is—to live out the commandments of Christ and to believe in him in faith and love. We are to turn away from sin and seek the good and the holy. We are to love one another being examples of Christ’s love to all we meet.

Our church has been scandalized by forces of sin and evil, selfishness and betrayal. Is this the first time? These negative forces have always been present in one form or another. Our church has survived not because of its people, however wonderful and faith-filled they have been. No, it is the Holy Spirit who has brought us beyond our human weaknesses. We are the bride of Christ, the Church, and at times the bride has been unfaithful. So, let us pray. Let us look at our faith. Let us be strong and caring members of this wounded church. May the Holy Spirit be strong in our midst, guide us and perfect in us our role as members of the Catholic Church.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, September 7, 2018

Discrimination

Dear Parishioners,

Discrimination has been very much in the news over the last 50 years. I remember hearing about the race riots in 1968 (I was away in the U.S. Navy at the time). And hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about some form of racial, sexual, or religious discrimination. In today’s reading from the Letter of James (James 2:1-5), we hear of a different kind of discrimination. It’s called favoritism. St. James describes a rich man fashionably dressed with gold rings entering an assembly and being well received. Whereas a poor man who enters the same assembly being rudely treated. They should both be treated with respect and dignity since they are both created in the image and likeness of God. Of course, it’s natural to behave like the assembly as we are attracted to some people and unattracted to others. Still we are rational creatures, and our minds should override our feelings. That’s why God gave us one.

However, there are times when our failure to discriminate leads us astray. Power and money can blind us from seeing the difference between good and evil, obeying the law or skirting the law, going along with the crowd or going away from it. In the news, we see how those failures to discriminate have resulted in tragic consequences for those who fail to do so.

Let us pray for an end to unjust discrimination and the wisdom to discriminate between sinful and unethical moral choices. We will be happier if we do.

Fr. Carl