Friday, June 9, 2017

Death and Grief

Dear Parishioners,

I recall having a client whose spouse committed suicide. It was a grueling several months of therapy that eventually resolved the sting of my client's loss and questioning. I don’t think that any of us can get through our lives without loss and grief. It is a part of our common human experience. But a confusing and painful part. It is not easy to adjust your life to a new reality once someone close leaves us. Especially for one we are close to, their death changes our life in our habits, our expectations, our assumptions. The morning sun doesn’t seem to shine in the same way, and our shared experiences lose their zest and attractiveness. This is understandable and to be expected. Our taste for life has changed, and we need to reevaluate who we are in the light of our loss. But we can’t let grief become our master. I knew a woman who cried every evening over the death of her husband, even though he had been gone for 20 years. We need to allow the hope of our faith to enter into our emotional reaction. Christ has said that he has a place for us, he has set aside a room for us in His Father’s house (John 14:2). This is true for us and for our loved one. We need to grieve, but we need not lose hope over death. Christ’s resurrection is a triumph over death itself, which has “lost its sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

I would like to offer my services to anyone who feels the need to talk about their grief. Please call the office or email me from the Parish Staff page. We can get together in an informal way and talk about it. As well, in the fall, we are planning some activities on grief, so look for announcements in the Bulletin. Death is one of the great mysteries of life. Our faith gives us tools not to do away with it but to understand it and to live on in the face of it.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“When one loves anyone, it is a great happiness to have something of theirs as a souvenir. If we love our Mother, the Blessed Virgin, we should make it both our duty and privilege to have one of her pictures or statues in our home, which from time to time will remind us of her.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 14: Confessionals

The first Christians confessed their sins face to face to a bishop in his church and in some instances to the congregation. Public confessions were short-lived and stopped by Pope Leo I (r. 440-461), who wrote: “It is sufficient that the guilt which people have on their consciences be made known to the priests alone in secret confession.”

Face-to-face confession, typically kneeling before a priest or sitting in a chair at his side, was the norm until the middle ages when a screen was placed between the confessor and female penitents. This action eventually led to the introduction of the confessional booth in the 16th century, which included the screen separation, and from that time until the Second Vatican Council, confessions were normally anonymous. In 1974, the Church introduced a new formula for confession, which promoted a reconciliation room instead of a confessional booth. Penitents could now go to confession face to face or behind a screen.
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, June 2, 2017

Great Summer Reads and Audios

Dear Parishioners,

I spend a lot of time in the car driving from Annapolis to St. Jane. I often drive in quiet. Sometimes I will do Morning or Evening Prayer conveniently from my phone. I recently found some interesting podcasts that I can play on my phone while driving. A podcast is an audio file you can access on your phone or computer. For instance, you can access a conversation of a doctor talking about some Alzheimer's issue, an interview with a basketball player, or a chef talking about ravioli. There are millions out there. You have to download a podcast player but there are also many free ones available. What I have recently found is “Pints with Aquinas.” The premise is what would happen if you could sit down with a beer and ask Saint Thomas Aquinas, probably the greatest Catholic theologian, a single question. The podcast asks about grace, sin, angels, the Eucharist, and all sorts of theological questions. Matt Fradd is the presenter, and he quotes often from the Summa Theologia, Aquinas’ masterwork. It is always interesting, and I recommend it.

Laudate, Ignatius Press Bible App, and Pocket Catholic are other phone apps that I use that provide access to the bible, prayers, and lots more information. For summer reading, Pope Benedict Emeritus is a wonderful theologian whose books, Jesus of Nazareth, offer great insights into our faith. My favorite writer is Henri Nouwen whose books are beautiful and articulate. Pope Francis has presented his ideas in a very down-to-earth manner in The Joy of the Gospel, The Name of God is Mercy, and On Care for Our Common Home. Finally, I would recommend, James Martin, Jesus: a Pilgrimage. There are great materials out there to enliven your faith.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“We must be like the shepherds in the fields during the winter. They have a fire, but from time to time they search about for sticks to keep it alive. If we knew how to keep up the fire of the love of God in our heart by prayers and good works, it would not go out.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 13: Ambry for Holy Oils

Each church stores holy oils for use in various ceremonies. New oils are blessed annually during Holy Week by the bishop at the chrism Mass and then distributed to parishes. The oils are: the oil of the catechumens, the oil of the sick and the chrism. They are kept locked in an ambry, a French word meaning wall safe or cupboard. Our Catechism says, “The sacred chrism (Myron), used in anointings as the sacramental sign of the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is traditionally reserved and venerated in a secure place in the sanctuary. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick may also be placed there” (CCC, No. 1183).
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, May 26, 2017

We Have Our Mission

Dear Parishioners,

As we approach the end of the Easter season (next Sunday—Pentecost), today we hear the end of Matthew’s gospel and our Lord’s last words before he ascends into heaven (Matthew 28:16-20). Since he will no longer be with his disciples, he commissions them to teach and baptize delegating his divine authority to do so. In short, he is telling them and us to evangelize. This is part of our Lord’s mission along with redemption, and is our mission in life as all our recent popes from Paul VI up to Francis have been telling us. Our Lord didn’t just live for himself; he lived and died for all of us. We, too, are called in a less dramatic way to do the same. May we respond to God’s grace and do what we can for others. Who knows what effects our Christian living will have in this world? But we will surely find out in the next world.

Fr. Carl

“With the Holy Spirit, we see everything in its true proportions; we see the greatness of the least actions done for God, and the greatness of the least faults.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 12: Stations of the Cross

In nearly every Catholic Church, 14 Stations of the Cross ring the walls of the nave. We can walk along with Jesus as he makes the agonizing journey from Pilate’s house to his crucifixion on Calvary that first Good Friday. We halt at each station meditating on the actual or traditional events that took place at that particular spot. This most popular devotion evolved over several centuries. While many Catholics participate in this devotion every Friday of Lent, the stations are available for us to “walk” anytime. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document “Built of Living Stones” states: “Traditionally the stations have been arranged around the walls of the nave of the church, or, in some instances around the gathering space of even the exterior of the church making the devotion as a true journey.”

  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, May 19, 2017

Finding True Happiness

Dear Parishioners,

After Mass the other day, I was asked why the Easter (Paschal) Candle was burning. The answer is very simple. We are still in the Easter season. This Sunday is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The Easter Season will continue up until Pentecost Sunday. After Vespers (Evening Prayer), the candle will be put out and placed near the baptismal font to be lit only for baptisms and funerals. If you look closely at the candle, you will see two Greek letters. At the top is the letter “alpha”; at the bottom is the letter “omega.” They are the first and last letter of the Greek alpha and symbolize Jesus as the beginning and the end. In short, he is to be our all—our everything. So when you think about the use of the Easter Candle at baptisms and funerals, it makes perfectly good sense. At baptisms, we begin a new life here on earth with Jesus. At funerals, we end our earthly life hopefully still connected to Jesus and begin anew our heavenly life. Of course, we have to love Jesus to be with him in heaven. And how we do that Jesus says in today’s gospel: “Whoever has my commandments and observes (keeps) them is the one who loves me.”

May we do our best to always show our love for Father, Son and Holy Spirit so as to find real happiness.

Fr. Carl

“How beautiful it is, my children, to be accompanied by the Holy Spirit!
He is indeed a good guide; and to think that there are some who will not follow him!”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 11: Sacristy

From the Latin word sacristra, meaning a room near the sanctuary or church entrance, this room contains the bread and wine, sacred vessels, the books, the vestments, everything needed in the celebration of the Mass. It is the location where the priests and ministers vest. The sacristy was part of the church since the first places of public worship were built in the fourth century. Here the sacred vessels are cleaned after Mass. In most sacristies there is a sacrarium, a sink that drains directly in the earth where water from cleaning the vessels is poured.
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, May 12, 2017

100th Anniversary of Fatima

Dear Parishioners,

One hundred years ago, Europe was embroiled in World War I. It was said to be “the war to end all wars,” but it was not, as we have seen in the last century. While the country of Portugal was not involved in the great war, there was a battle for the faith of the Catholic Church in that poor little country. The government was doing whatever it could to stamp out the Catholic faith. Then on May 13, 1917, three young Portuguese children were visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary who delivered a message of hope and a message of warning. She told the children that God was offended by the many sins committed around the world. The daily rosary was to be said in reparation for those sins and for help in preventing more souls from going to Hell. The current war would end, but if significant prayer and reparation were not offered, an even greater war would break out in the future. Unfortunately, the world didn’t do enough praying, and World War II broke out twenty years later.

Today, the world is in even worse shape than it was 100 years ago, and the message is even more relevant. We need to pray the rosary for peace and better family life. We may not generate enough prayer to prevent further wars, but the rosary will certainly help our families to grow in faith, hope, charity, and solidarity. If we have strong, united families, life will become a joy even in the midst of life’s trial and tribulations.

As we celebrate the month of Mary, let us pray the rosary. She will help us with her motherly support.

God bless,
Fr. Carl

“You wonder why God, who is goodness itself, allows us to suffer…
But, what would you think of a doctor who lost his patient because
he was afraid to give him the necessary but unpleasant treatment?”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’
Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 10: Easter Candle

The Easter (or Paschal) candle is located near the baptismal font, the exception being during the Easter season when it is placed next to the ambo. Originating around the fourth century, this large candle represents the light of Christ, and a new Paschal candle is blessed during each Easter Vigil. It is lit for every baptism, and the flame, the light of Christ, is transferred to a candle given to the baptized individual or to an adult family member when an infant is baptized.
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Good Shepherd

Dear Parishioners,

The month of May is typically dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother as well. This weekend we have our May Procession as we honor Mary and bring flowers to her as a sign of our love and affection. Praying the rosary on a more frequent basis would be a gift she would appreciate even more as we draw closer to her and “the fruit of her womb, Jesus.”

This week, Mary’s son, Jesus, reminds us of his love for us in referring to himself not only as the good shepherd but also as the sheep gate (John 10:1-10). As the sheep gate, Jesus serves as the entrance into a land of security, peace, and safety. It is a state of being and a relationship that gives life more abundantly than we can imagine.

So, this weekend, we celebrate two blessings: Mary and Jesus. May we strive to enter a deeper relationship with Our Lord and Our Lady.

Fr. Carl

“We must be like the shepherds in the fields during the winter. They have a fire, but from time to time they search about for sticks to keep it alive. If we knew how to keep up the fire of the love of God in our heart by prayers and good works, it would not go out.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 9: Baptismal Font

Baptism is the door to all the Church’s sacraments. The baptistery or baptismal font is part of every Catholic Church and located so that the congregation can participate in the baptismal ceremony. Some fonts are large pools with free-flowing water and normally found as you enter the nave; others are smaller and placed in different locations. The early converts to Christianity were baptized in rivers, streams, public baths, some in the catacombs. For the most part, it wasn’t until the fourth century with the construction of churches that baptisms were brought indoors.

Over the centuries, even until recently, the receptacle used for baptisms has been continuously reduced in size. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document “Built on living Stones” says for each parish that, “One font that will accommodate the baptism of both infants and adults symbolizes the one faith and one baptism that Christians share.”
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, April 28, 2017

Becoming Like Children

Dear Parishioners,

Wouldn’t you just know it? Several weeks ago it was hot outside and inside the church, so we switched the HVAC to the AC mode, and the weather turned colder. Sometimes you just can’t win. However, if you were part of our Flocknote system, you would have been notified and advised to bring a sweater. Flocknote is proving to be a wonderful tool for keeping you up-to-date. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s easy to do. Just text “stjane” to 84576, and then follow the instructions.

This past weekend, we had a number of our young people make their First Communion. They all looked so nice and were so excited to receive Jesus for the first time. It was very awe inspiring to see their child-like faith and trust in God. Unfortunately, we all lose some of that as we grow older and become distracted by other interests in life. We would be wise to regain the attitudes of those young boys and girls. After all, Jesus said, “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3)

Fr. Carl

“Do not be afraid of people saying that going to Mass on
a week day is only for those who have nothing to do….
Are you ashamed to serve God for fear of being despised?
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’
Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 8: Images, Statues, and Relics

Statues and pictures of Jesus, the Blessed Mother and the saints adorn nearly every church. Catholics don’t pray to or worship statues; rather we venerate, we admire, respect and seek to imitate the individual emulated in the statue. We worship our living Lord, Jesus Christ, not his statue. The saints depicted in our churches lived lives of heroic virtue and are now in heaven, where they can intercede for us before God. The statues, pictures, even the stained-glass windows, tell about Jesus and the Scriptures. These images have long been an important educational tool, especially in the first 1,500 years of Christianity when few people were literate. Relics are treated in a similar way, as best explained by St Jerome (340-420): “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyr in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.”

  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***