Friday, April 13, 2018

In The Breaking Of The Bread

Dear Parishioners,

Thank you, Atlantic Maintenance Group. Again you generously donated time, materials and labor to help clean up and beautify our grounds and flower beds. We appreciate these services.

Today’s gospel uses a curious phrase as the disciples describe their encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:35-48). It tells “how they had come to know Jesus in the breaking of bread.” “The breaking of bread” was the term St. Luke used for the Eucharist or Holy Communion. He uses that term again in describing the communal life of the followers of Jesus, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, “who devoted themselves to the apostle’s instruction and communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42) In other words, they regularly gathered for Mass. These gatherings were essential for the building up of the Church and the faith of Jesus’ followers.

The old Baltimore catechism asked “Why did God make me?” The response was “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world so as to be happy with him in the next world.” We can read and study for years about God, but to know Him personally and intimately we need the Eucharist, we need the “breaking of bread.” In the early Church, Christians understood this and were willing to die rather than give up the Eucharist. Today so many Catholics find other things more important. How sad, how foolish, how suicidal!

In the next few weeks, our young boys and girls will be receiving their first communion. Let us pray they will continue growing in their relationships with Jesus and “come to know Jesus in the breaking of bread.”

Father Carl

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Divine Mercy

Dear Parishioners,

As we allow the reflection of God’s mercy and love to continue to brighten us in the afterglow of Easter, we are given another gift in the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. This important day was set aside by St. John Paul II in 2000 in the light of the canonization of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. This Polish nun received revelations from God concerning His mercy that needed to be proclaimed to all peoples. In His communication with her, God made clear the need to set aside a day to reflect on God’s deep gift of mercy that can overcome even the most hideous sin. In her diary, she wrote of God that this day may “be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My mercy… let no soul fear to draw near to me.

The quality of mercy is evident abundantly in the Old and New Testaments. Psalm 118 states, “Let the house of Israel say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’ Let the house of Aaron say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’ Let those who fear the LORD say, ‘His mercy endures forever.’” God’s mercy follows the actions of the Old Testament prophets who urge Israel to repent and return to God who takes them back in his mercy. God’s mercy is powerfully reflected in the love of the Father who runs to welcome back the especially sinful Prodigal Son. Jesus himself in Matthew raises mercy to the heights in the Sermon on the Mount when he says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Christ in his life, death, and resurrection bears complete obedience to God’s mercy toward us. Let us be mindful of God’s mercy this day and the undeserved gift of His love. As we go through our day, let us thank our God and remember that we are to “Be merciful just as your father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, March 30, 2018

Easter Joy

Dear Parishioners,

As I write these words to you, the first day of Spring has arrived. But looking out my window, what do I see? Snow! While I enjoy a snow day as much as anyone else, I was rather hoping to see grass, buds on bushes, birds (robins) in trees, and the emergence of daffodils. It had been a long dreary and cold winter. So it was time for a change. Hopefully, Easter Sunday will give us that change in weather we all long for. However, whatever weather we find that (this) day, the joy of Easter will certainly warm our hearts. Jesus is risen from the dead, Alleluia! It means that life conquers death, good defeats evil, and sadness gives way to joy. It means that Jesus wants to raise our hearts as we face challenges, difficulties, and disappointments in life. And at the end of time, he wants to raise our bodies up to join his in the kingdom of heaven to share an eternity of joy. And we can experience some of that joy right now if we continue to stay connected with Jesus through prayer and sacrament. May you and your families keep the Easter joy throughout the year.

God Bless,
Fr. Carl

Friday, March 23, 2018

Are You Ready?

Dear Parishioners,

Are you ready? It is here, Holy Week. Do you think you are prepared? Has Lent gone well for you? Have you felt some sacrificial pain at giving up chocolate or Facebook or some TV? Do you feel cleansed at praying more or being more diligent during Mass or engaging more in acts of charity?

Well Holy Week is upon us, and our disciplines of Lent will soon see their goal. Holy Week, the Chrism Mass, Tenebrae, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday, these are the mountains that our workout on the hills of our life have prepared us for. These are the high places that the Church holds before us to give our lives light and warmth, mercy and love. These are the remembrances of the life and times of Jesus that are to propel us forward as our life progresses in holiness.

Are you ready? Can you smell the incense? Can you hear the sacred hymns? Can you feel the tears of Christ in the garden? Can you stand with Peter in the cold by the fire denying Christ? Can you be a part of that crowd shouting for his execution? Can you stand at the cross with John and the Blessed Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene when he says it is finished? Can you sense the confusion with the open empty tomb? (Mark 14:1-15:47) What would you think if you heard the word of the man dressed in white, “He is not here, for he has been raised”? (Mark 16:1-7) This next week is the occasion of events that make our lives worthwhile, give meaning to the endless toil in this life, and allow us mere humans to touch upon the life of God. I cannot with words measure the enormity of those events which we will celebrate this week. You better be ready!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, March 16, 2018

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Dear Parishioners,

Last weekend I visited our sister parish in Haiti, St. Guillaume (William), in the remote town of La Chapelle. It was a long, five-hour ride to get there with the last hour over a rocky, bumpy, dirt road that had been washed out in several places. Along the way, we found pick-up trucks with benches serving as transportation. People not only sat on the benches but stood on the bumpers, and some sat on the roofs; so crowded were many of these trucks. Many could not afford to pay, so they traveled the two lane highway by foot, carrying the 40 pound water containers on their heads (due to no inside running water) as well as sacks of grain, tubs of clothes, and whatever else they needed. Motorcycles were very popular, with usually three riders and sometimes four on a single motorcycle. Yet they were in good spirits, because they had God and one another. They were a very social people who gather in the streets at night talking, singing, and listening to music.

In one sense, they have so little, but they also have so much. May we become more appreciative of the many blessings we have rather than worrying about the things we lack. If so, perhaps we can acquire some of the spirit of Haiti where the problem of depression doesn’t exist.

God Bless,
Fr. Carl

Friday, March 9, 2018

Building the Kingdom of God

Dear Parishioners,

My wife and I were at a Deacon Retreat last weekend directed by Sr. Geralyn Schmitt from the Diocese of Harrisburg. The theme was about building the Kingdom of God. As a man, a husband, and a deacon, I am to build the Kingdom of God by expressing authentic and courageous love to all I meet. As we go through Lent, let us remember that our purpose in bettering our spiritual selves is to imitate Christ in his self giving love. It is for us to make our world a better place by showing dignity to others. It is for our church to become more alive in Christ.

The purpose of our Lenten sacrifices are so that our family may show love more readily and freely to one another. We are seeking that our love for God will take up a greater part of our life. The song we try to sing during Lent is a song of gracious love for God's benefit, to glorify and praise Him. I think because we sing to God our little song, rooted in honest care for each other, the Holy Spirit responds in harmony. The more beautiful our melody, the greater the melody that God sings in return. God's love is why we pray, why we go to Mass, why we serve the poor and why we care for each other. We know in our hearts that this love comes through God’s Spirit speaking to us and filling us. Our dance with God is such that the more we invite him in our life, the more we can see him at every turn. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is reflected in our good actions to one another. Let us know and serve God this Lent by becoming more like Him. Our imitation of Christ will surely make our little part of the world a better place.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, March 2, 2018

Fanatics

Dear Parishioners,

A fanatic is a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal. While it’s ok to be a fanatic about your sports team– the Orioles, the Ravens, the Terps, people are uncomfortable with and look down on religious fanatics. As a result, many people are reluctant or shy about bringing their faith into the conversation. This is especially the case with Catholics. Perhaps some of that has to do with the discrimination so many of our ancestors encountered in America. The noted Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. referred to the prejudice against Catholics as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people.” Or maybe it’s the politically correct thing to keep faith and religion out of the conversation. And so we tend to hide the light of our faith under a bushel basket contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Yet in today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples refer to our Lords’ actions as zeal for his Father’s house. Today Jesus invites us to be less politically correct and more zealous and a bit more enthusiastic about our faith. He wants to inflame us with a loving faith that will be like a light on a stand “where it gives light to all in the house…”. (MT 5:15)

Fr. Carl