Friday, October 13, 2017

Peace In A World Spinning Out Of Control

Dear Parishioners,

A friend of mine from Indiana recently came for a visit. He and I went to Gettysburg which was on his bucket list. We walked across the field where Pickett’s Charge occurred. At this part of the battle, over 12,000 Confederate soldiers attacked the Union lines marching across an open field. They were annihilated by the Union cannon and musket fire. Few made it to the Union line. We walked on sacred ground. I was struck by the peacefulness of the field that is there now, 150 years later. There are clumps of white and yellow flowers, wheat, and beans. Life has taken over where there was great death and destruction. Our faith is like this field. It is a salve for pain and suffering. It is a peace-filled place among chaos and strife. It is an offer of joy and love instead of war and hate. It carries us away from our human brokenness and shows us the image of a merciful God. It leaves the cross and becomes the resurrection.

We have encountered another field of destruction recently, that of a field in Las Vegas. This shooting leaving 58 dead only intensifies my need for God’s peace and love. My don’t we need peace in our lives! What have we become? Where is our society going? We are Catholics and have Christ as our leader who calls us to love one another. He offers us his peace as he enters the locked places of our lives. Let us look into our hearts and find a way to offer to the world the measure of our faith—love, respect, understanding, mercy, and peace. Our chaotic and dangerous world is spinning out of control. Let us hold it gently in the hands of faith and pray diligently that we who are followers of Christ will bring peace to it. As we say in morning and evening prayer, “God come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help us.”

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“After thanking our guardian angel who has remained by our side during our sleep, we should ask him for his protection during the day.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, October 6, 2017

Giving Back To God

Dear Parishioners,

“It’s not just for breakfast anymore.” That was the slogan of the orange growers a number of years ago as they tried to promote more sales of orange juice. In other words, “Drink more orange juice at other times of the day.” You could say something similar about stewardship. “It’s not just about money anymore.” Actually it never was just about money; it was the recognition that everything belongs to God, including money.

In the book of Genesis after he creates the world (Genesis 1:28–30), God tells Adam and Eve, “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all living things that move on the earth.” He went on to give them all that covered the earth so as to be the first stewards of his creation. So then, we see the two sons of Adam and Eve giving back to God some of his gifts as good stewards should (Genesis 4). Cain sacrificed some of the fruit from the soil, and Abel sacrificed one of the best firstlings of his flock. Ever since then, God’s people gave something back to God – because they were grateful. King David has a beautiful prayer, “Therefore, our God we give you thanks and praise the majesty of your name… For everything is from you, and we only give you what we have received from you” (1 Chronicles 29:14-16). David, Cain, and Abel realized their dependence on God and, in gratitude, paid him back.

However, this week’s gospel (Matthew 21:33-43) shows some selfish and greedy stewards who not only refuse to give the landowners any of the produce, they beat and killed some of his servants and even killed his son. Naturally, those stewards came to a bad end because of their selfish greed. Let us be ever grateful for God’s gifts and generous in giving back to God a portion of what is his.

Fr. Carl

“We are occupied with a hundred and one things which, for the most part, amount to nothing; while, as for Jesus Christ, we pass hours and even whole days without giving him a thought. Or, if we do, it is so indef inite that we are scarcely conscious of it.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Main Thing

Dear Parishioners,

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” These words by Bishop Robert Morneau, retired auxiliary bishop of Green Bay Wisconsin, are wise words as we get caught up in all the controversy in our country and around the world with so many spoiling for a fight. So much rhetoric and anger, so little respect and dialogue.

But what is the “main thing?” It’s God of course! Our generous, loving, and merciful creator should be the main focus of our lives and the lens through which we see others.

Twenty five years ago, our American bishops wrote a pastoral letter about the main thing (God) and our proper outlook on our relationship to him. They reminded us that all creation is a gift from God, and that we are his stewards of creation. Our time, talents, and treasure are not our exclusive possessions; they are God’s gifts on loan to us as we walk through life. “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and all who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, one day God will require an accounting of the use (stewardship) each person has made of the particular portion of these goods entrusted to him or her. Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) tells our Lord’s thought about stewardship. Spoiler alert: those stewards who made good use of the owner’s money were rewarded; the steward who didn’t was rebuked and rejected by the Master.
“Who is a Christian steward? One who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others, and returns them with increase to God.” (1992 U.S. Bishops Pastoral Letter)
Several weeks ago, I encouraged you all to reflect on your stewardship of time, especially in regard to time spent in prayer. This week, I ask you to reflect on the talents God has given you. Could you be a little more generous in your talent as a father/mother, husband/wife, son/daughter, brother/sister, church volunteer—lector, choir member, altar server, greeter, finance committee, sodality, usher/usherette, hospitality committee, sanctuary society, home visitor, etc?

As we read in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Not only will you please God, you will find happiness. Jesus said “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.” (Acts 20:35)

Fr. Carl

”One sin can not excuse another sin.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 22, 2017

God’s Merciful Way

Dear Parishioners,

God’s ways are not man’s ways (Is 55:6-9). They go beyond our wildest imagination. We believe in forgiveness but only up to a point. However, last week’s gospel told us that God’s mercy is without limit, and as long as we are on earth, so too must our mercy be if we want to go to heaven. This week we are told that some people will not have to work as long and hard as we do to get to heaven (Matthew 20:1-16a).

That may not seem fair to us, but that is God’s merciful way. After all, it’s God’s kingdom, it’s his terms, and none of us can do enough to earn it. The Kingdom is God’s reward and pure gift to those who serve as his stewards here on earth by generously sharing their time, talent and treasure.

Fr. Carl

“The commandments of God are the guides which God gives us to show us the road to Heaven; like the names written up at the corners of the streets, to point out the way.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Myth of A ”Happy Divorce”

Dear Parishioners,

There is an interesting article I recently read in an edition of Our Sunday Visitor concerning the emotional toll of divorce and the myth of the “happy divorce.” Marriage is not the valued institution it once was, and this is regrettable. The article points out the impact that divorce has on children. Their attitudes and emotions are affected by their parents’ divorce in significant ways as compared to children whose parents have intact and stable marital relationships. Children need stability and clear boundaries in order to develop. A chaotic and unstable home life makes this hard to achieve. Children from divorce grow up without an image of what relationship stability looks like.

My own upbringing points to this as my parents were separated several times and had periods of great acrimony and tension. I stood between my parents once while my father, drunk and in a rage, threatened to kill my mom. Things like that led me to be a psychologist and to seek out solutions for myself and others. The article suggests that one million children experience parental divorce every year. That is a great deal of trauma and emotional pain. And it gets carried over into the children’s relationships.

Our church sees marriage as a sacrament and honors the institution. This gives a much deeper meaning to it than just a nice and convenient way for two adults to share expenses that can be abandoned when things get tough. I have been married for 42 years and often keep in mind my parents struggles and pain. Of course, I married a gentle and beautiful person who has made the time go by in an almost easy manner. I thank God for this and know how blessed I am. I ask that we all pray for those who experience this difficult and challenging situation of divorce. It fractures lives, especially those of vulnerable children.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“Our Lord takes pleasure in doing the will of those who love him.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 8, 2017

Love Thy Neighbor

Dear Parishioners,

So very often, natural disasters bring out the very best in the human race. Time and again, Hurricane Harvey brought that out on the television, radio, and other media outlets as we see the outpouring of love and assistance from rescue efforts brought to bear in Texas.

The readings this weekend are all about this love of neighbor. In the Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20), Jesus tells us that one form of that love is privately confronting a neighbor who has wronged us. Done in a loving way, it can cause repentance and a healing of relationships. As I was taught in the Navy, “praise in public, correct in private.” Unfortunately, there is a tendency to hold the wrong in our hearts and then share that wrong with others through gossip. That helps neither party involved as more people are negatively effected.

The first reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9) is similar, as it reminds us of our responsibility of a spiritual work of mercy—“warn the sinner.” Again, it’s not easy, but if we truly love, we want all of our brothers and sisters to go to heaven. Sin leads us in the other direction. As Paul reminds us in the second reading (Romans 13:8-10) quoting Jesus, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Fr. Carl

“Love for our neighbor consists of threes things: To desire the greater good of everyone; to do what good we can when we can; to bear, excuse and hide others’ faults.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 1, 2017

You Need Not Be Alone

Dear Parishioners,

My mother-in-law is transitioning to assisted living. She fears being abandoned by her children. No one should be alone. This is the source of a great deal of anguish and pain, especially for the elderly. We humans are not made like that, we are social creatures who are made to interact and be with others. Everyone should be able to rely on friends and family for support and interaction. When I was young, I worked with a man who had not spoken to his brother in 35 years. My father had a sister who moved to California before I was born and never spoke with him or the family again. I never met or spoke to her. There is something very sad about that. I hope that she found a community of friends or a church of which to be a part.

Church has always been a place where my wife and I felt supported, we were known and knew others. When our kids were young, we had scout friends and band friends and play date friends. But these changed over time. Our church community has always been a more stable source of relationships. We have found wonderful and caring people there, people who share similar attitudes, beliefs, and practices. It is for us a rich fabric of connections. And we have grown greatly within this loving atmosphere of support and care. So much good has come from it. I cannot imagine not having people of faith as friends. As a result, we have been touched by God’s love in real and powerful ways. I pray that for those who do not have this joy of deep friendship in their lives, that God will help them to encounter it. I pray that God will provide all people with supportive relationships, so that no one will be alone. Help us Lord to touch those lonely people we encounter with your love, so that they will feel included and be connected.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“We must always act in the way that will give most glory to God.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, August 25, 2017

Peter The Rock

Dear Parishioners,

Just inside the northern boundary of Israel, King Herod built a city which was rebuilt by his son Philip who renamed it after the Roman Emperor (Caesar) and himself. Hence, the city was known as Caesarea Philippi. A sizeable river issues from a cave there and is one of the main sources of the Jordan River. It was also a pagan shrine. Hence, since pagan worship and worldly power joined forces to dominate people’s lives, Jesus’ commissioning of Peter with the key of the kingdom is a sign of a new kingdom coming into the world eclipsing that of Caesar, Herod, and pagan worship.

Furthermore, there is a huge rock there, and God was referred to as a rock in the Old Testament. In giving Simon a new name, Peter, which means “rock,” Jesus is giving God’s authority to Peter to be exercised for the good of his people, the Church (Matthew 16:13-20). Let us be forever grateful for this great blessing now under the leadership of Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, as we pray for his ministry in the world today.

Fr. Carl

“When I am about to talk to anybody,” said a young
village girl, “I picture to myself Jesus Christ and how
gracious and friendly he was to everyone.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

For a wonderful study on St. Peter being the rock on which Jesus would build His Church, see the Lectio series on St. Peter at Formed.org. It's FREE for St. Jane Frances parishioners!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Where Are We Going?

Dear Parishioners,

For her graduation gift, our daughter took a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. She received a degree in marine biology from the College of Charleston. She had a great time and brought back lots of cool pictures of the wild life, the blue birds, the bright red and blue crabs, and the old tortoises. She enlarged some photos and gave them as gifts. We got a picture she took of the Amazon river. Now it is a 2' by 3' framed picture of the front bow of a boat in dense fog. It is all grey except for the red and brown bow of the boat pointing forward. There is a simple beauty to it. It is also intriguing. You cannot see where you are going. In front of you are only vague shapes and shadows. For me, this is a great metaphor of life. We don’t know where we are going. We have our ideas and our desires and needs. But do we really know where or how we will live tomorrow? Did my wife and I expect to be at St. Jane’s, living in Maryland ten years ago? Was this our master plan? Well, no. But here we are. This is where God has planted us. And it is here where we will grow. A deacon friend of mine says that the best way to get a laugh out of God is to tell him your plans! I believe that God has plans for us, plans of goodness and love and salvation. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Let us take our boat into the fogginess of life, but with the reassurance that we go, not alone, but with hope in God, directing us.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“Let us live as the Blessed Virgin lived: loving God only, desiring God only, trying to please God only in all that we do.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lord, Save Me!

Dear Parishioners,

Our God is one of surprises. He tells Elijah that he should stand outside a cave on Mount Horeb and that he would be passing by (1 Kings 19:9a,11-13a). After all the might and power God has displayed in liberating and leading his people, his passing-by logically would be a great and momentous event like a hurricane, earthquake, or blazing fire. But God surprises us by passing by in a tiny, whispering sound. In a way, it prefigures Jesus, the Son of God, entering Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass, instead of on a beautiful, white horse. It shows, as we read in the Bible, God’s ways are not our ways—nor are God’s ways the ways of the world. In short humility is the virtue that most completely unites us to Jesus and enables us to enter into communion with the Holy Trinity.

In the gospel, God again surprises us with Jesus walking on the water to save the disciples (Matthew 14:22-33). The apostles are so surprised that they don’t even recognize Jesus and think he is a ghost. Of course, he saves them after Peter’s surprising walking on the water as well. But the most important message is that Jesus comes to save us when we need him in the storms of our voyage on the seas of life, if only we call out like Peter, “Lord, save me!”

Fr. Carl

“We can only receive God once a day; a soul enkindled with divine love makes up for this by the desire of receiving him every moment of the day.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, August 4, 2017

Holy Matrimony Is A Beautiful Thing!

Dear Parishioners,

The sacramental view that the Catholic Church has on marriage or Holy Matrimony is stunning. The Church sees marriage not as a secular contract but as a covenant between two people and God. As the Church is Christ’s bridegroom, so spouses are to imitate this relationship. With a life-giving attitude toward each other involving dignity and respect, seeking goodness for one’s spouse, with an openness toward life, and the hope for growth in the love of God, we who are married seek out the best for our spouse. When we turn to our spouse in this way, the union is a beautiful thing.

However, this dance is not an easy one to do. In my past professional experience, I have seen it turn sour and become a tragedy, filled with criticism, blame, and anger. Personally, my parents’ relationship was fraught at times with argument and ill will. There are no easy and simple answers to these conflicts. John Gottman, a noted marriage authority, says that how one deals with conflict is an important sign of the vitality of a marriage. He sees four characteristics that impair a positive regard for one’s spouse. Focusing on the other’s faults (criticism), quickly putting up one’s defenses (defensiveness), having a strong negative evaluation of the other (contempt) and being unwilling to talk about things (stonewalling) are like a cancer that eats away at the good fabric of a relationship. On the other hand, actively listening to the other, not allowing the negative to overcome the positive, and being willing to talk and share are things to do that facilitate health in a relationship. Making the first move to come together after an argument and asking for forgiveness are also needed correctives. Being married is a beautiful thing, but it requires practice in showing respect and appreciating the dignity of the other.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“A soul in which the Holy Spirit dwells is never weary
in the presence of God; it gives forth a breath of love.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, July 28, 2017

High Hopes

Dear Parishioners,

I am sure that you have heard about the lowly mustard seed, the smallest of seeds which when grown becomes the largest of shrubs (Matthew 13:31–32). What is going on with this seed? Doesn't it know that it is small? Where did it get that attitude that it could grow tall and big? What strikes me here is that this little seed has a great attitude of hope! It is not deterred by its size or the difficult prospects of growing tall and large. Jesus said that with faith the size of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain. Our Judeo-Christian tradition is like such a seed. The Israelites being pursued by the army of the Egyptians, leave slavery in Egypt for the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Israel. What a divinely inspired hope! It is like the hope of the four friends who lower the crippled man through the roof to see Jesus (Luke 5:17-39). Or the Virgin Mary to tell the servants at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:1–12) Or the actions of Simon Peter and his brother Andrew when Jesus says to them to follow him, they drop their nets and follow (Matthew 4:18–22). Aren’t we all followers of Christ because of such a hopeful word or thought or action? Aren’t we all mustard seeds with an attitude of hope? Hope for joy, hope for an end to war, hope for the solution to our difficulties, hope for the best diagnosis, hope for reconciliation, hope for our loved one turning back to God. I say let us continue to hope! Let us pour our energy into hope for those good things our God promises. The Israelites found the promised land. The man walked out of the house with the hole in the roof. The wine at the wedding was the best. Let us hope in God and see what good things can come of it!

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“People will go three or four leagues to earn thirty pence, while they will not take thirty steps to hear Mass on a week -day.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sorry, Thanks, Help and Wow

Dear Parishioners,

I once heard a priest give a homily about the four important words to say. I don't know where he got it, but this isn't original with me. The words are Sorry, Thanks, Help and Wow. They cover a wide range of emotions and situations. Perhaps if we can say all these, if these are in our vocabulary, if they are a part of our common experience and expression, we may become a more genuine and healthy human being.  

Sorry is perhaps the hardest of these words. To say you are sorry is to admit fault and to acknowledge a personal wrong that you committed. It means to admit that you need to repair a broken situation that you made happen. It puts us at the mercy of another who can accept or deny our apology.

Thanks is a wonderful word that conveys gratitude and appreciation. Do you still have the capacity to appreciate? It also acknowledges the gift that others have done for us. It takes us outside ourselves. Thanks is wonderful to say and to hear. It is the necessary oil that makes our relationships work. The frosting on the cupcake of life?

Help is a serious word. To ask for help acknowledges our need for others, our dependence. It says that I can't do it all myself. I need others. I am a part of something bigger than I, and I am not in control of it. I need you.

Finally, wow demonstrates our ability to be impressed, maybe more, to be amazed, to be stunned, to be taken outside of ourselves by something we encounter. It's like seeing the Milky Way for the first time or truly understanding what Christ did for us or appreciating the sacrifice of our parents. It is being taken aback and having your breath taken away. These four simple words, if put into practice, can bring about the presence of love and respect to those we encounter and maybe make us better people.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“I often think that the life of some poor employee who knows no will but that of others may be—if only she knows how to pro it by it—quite as agreeable to God as that of a religious who is always with her rule. ”
~Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, July 14, 2017

Counting Our Blessings

Dear Parishioners,

Those of you who were not here last weekend missed a vivid and inspiring testimony about the faith in Nigeria. Fr. Joseph described the frequency of violence against Catholics practicing their faith. Churches were burned, people were killed during Mass, the Cardinal of the diocese was kidnapped and assaulted, Fr. Joseph escaped from prison the night before he was scheduled to be beheaded. Yet the faith is strong and vibrant; the churches are packed; Mass lasts 3 hours; the people are joyful and hopeful; and they have so many priestly and religious vocation they send them to other countries including the United States.

He was also very appreciative that the United States had done so much for his country and reminded us about the material blessings we have, often take for granted, and are lacking in his country. It was a long homily, but most people were captivated and very generous in the collection.

In the final analysis, it made one see how blessed and fortunate we are to live in the USA. After all, we could have been born anywhere else in the world. May we never stop thanking God and praying for those less fortunate around the globe.

Fr. Carl

“One day, our Lord said to St. Catherine of Siena: ‘I want you to make a Retreat in your heart, and to come there to be alone with me and keep me company.’ Well let us do the same…”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, July 7, 2017

Catholic Marriage

Dear Parishioners,

The month of June has been, for many years, a popular time for weddings. The weather usually becomes warm and sunny before the oppressive heat of July and August. I had intended to write about the sacrament of matrimony, but every weekend there seemed to be a major feast such as Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus that called for special attention.

Now that we have reentered into the Sundays of Ordinary time, so named because they have an ordinal number (the 14th this weekend) I would like to offer a few thoughts. First of all, the fact that Jesus performed his first public miracle at Cana (John 2:1-12) shows that God has the highest regard for this communion between a man and a women. This relationship God established between Adam and Eve at the dawn of creation (Genesis 2) is now a sacrament, that is a sign of Jesus’ sacrificial, faithful, and fruitful love for his spouse, the church. It’s a noble adventure in which the couple collaborates for two purposes: 1) the bringing of children into the world and raising them in the faith; and 2) helping one another grow in holiness so as to enter heaven.

Because the Church believes in the sanctity of marriage, she insists any marriage with a Catholic take place in a church. The Church would prefer the marriage to take place in a Catholic church but allows Catholics to get married in other churches. In either case, it is necessary to contact a catholic priest 6 months in advance for the necessary counseling and preparations.

These days more couples are opting for destination weddings in exotic locations. The Church is fine with that as long as the wedding takes place in a church. Those weddings are more complicated to arrange with extra paperwork and special permission. You also have to find a priest or deacon willing to go away for a few days. But it can be done, just not on a beach, field, or mountain top. I even did one for my niece in Florida a few years ago.

The Church wants only the best for her sons and daughters. She wants Jesus there to bless the marriage for he lives in his Father’s house, the church.

Fr. Carl

Friday, June 30, 2017

Celebrate Freedom of Religion

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend as we celebrate the Fourth of July, we relish the liberty for which our forefathers fought and sacrificed. We are the land of liberty, freedom, and opportunity. And while freedom is a great blessing, it is not enjoyed by all people around the world. Freedom is not an end in itself. Otherwise, it becomes a false idol; it takes the place of God, the only one we should adore. Freedom has limits and boundaries which, if not respected, lead to chaos, violence, and self destruction. St. Peter, in the New Testament, tells us, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cloak for vice.” (1 Peter 2:16)

And Pope St. John Paul II teaches us that, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” (Homily of His Holiness John Paul II, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, October 8, 1995)

One of the blessings that God bestowed upon the human race was free will or freedom. We know from the story of Adam and Eve what happened when they abused that gift (Genesis 2 and 3). Satan entered into human history, and we have had problems ever since.

Today, our religious liberty and freedom is being threatened by the courts, legislature, and executive branch of the government which wants to restrict freedom of religion to the four walls of our church buildings. Some of the teachings of the Bible and our moral beliefs are being labeled as hate speech and bigotry because they contradict the views of modern culture. The late Cardinal George of Chicago opined that while he expected to die in his home, his successor would die in prison, and his successor would die as a martyr. Perhaps that insight is a bit far-fetched. However, many years ago when Margaret Sanger was told that legal contraception would lead to abortion, she said that would never happen. Well it did. What will happen to freedom of religion if we do nothing?

Fr. Carl

“Although the good God does not allow us to see him, he is none the less present in the Blessed Sacrament; none the less ready to grant us all we ask.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, June 23, 2017

Liturgical Vestments

Dear Parishioners,

One of the surprising things for me after being ordained a deacon in 2012 was the cool, new wardrobe I acquired! First of all, we wear an alb. This is a white, long, flowing garment that should cover the wrists, ankles, and neck. No street clothes should be visible. A rope cincture is worn like a belt around the waist. St. Francis wore a rope cincture instead of a money bag to indicate his poverty. For the deacon, a stole is worn over the alb, going from the left shoulder to the right hip. The priest wears a stole over his shoulders. This stole can be very colorful with a variety of symbols embroidered on it like crosses, doves, or flowers. The stole is the color of the Church season or special for a particular Mass. The color for Advent and Lent are violet; Holy Week, Easter and Christmas are white. Good Friday being the day of Christ’s death is red, as is the color for feast days of martyrs. Other holy days like Ascension, Assumption, Holy Trinity are white. For Marian days, you may see blue in vestments. The color for the times between these special seasons is called “Ordinary Time” and is green. The color of the cinctures of the altar servers also go with the day. The outer garments for the priest and deacon are different yet nearly identical. The priest wears a flowing chasuble, the color of the season over the alb and stole. The deacon wears a dalmatic, like the chasuble but with sleeves. The cope is a large cape clasped in the front, worn over the vestments for solemn celebrations outside of Mass such as Adoration. The humeral veil is worn when the Eucharist is in procession or during Benediction. These vestments give beauty and dignity to our liturgical celebrations. Watch for them.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“When we have God in our heart, it ought to glow. The hearts of the Disciples on the road to Emmaus burnt within them at the sound of his voice.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, June 16, 2017

Feasts of Corpus Christi and Sacred Heart of Jesus

Dear Parishioners,

The month of June is always a busy month with graduation parties, weddings, and Father’s Day which we celebrate this Sunday. Additionally, this weekend we celebrate the Feast of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) the Eucharist which is our Lord’s great gift to us the night before he died. However, there is another feast in June that is often overlooked—The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus came about as the result of the visions of Christ reported by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. She reported 12 promises made by Jesus to those who practiced the First Friday Devotion as Jesus said to her! To be granted the promises, a person is to attend Mass and receive communion in the state of grace.

The 12 promises are as follows:
  1. I will give them all of the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their houses.
  3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
  4. I will be their strength during life and above all during death.
  5. I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall grow fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
  9. I will bless every place where a picture of my heart shall be set up and honored.
  10. I will give priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powered love will grant to all those who shall receive communion on the first Friday in nine consecutive months the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

I encourage you all to make the 9 first Fridays and have added a 7:00 p.m. Mass to the 8:30 a.m. Mass for those who have a normal work day.

God bless,
Fr. Carl

Could one find a greater honour than to be allowed to make reparation to Jesus Christ for the outrages which he receives in the Sacrament of his love?
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


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. ***

Friday, April 21, 2017

Divine Mercy

Dear Parishioners,

Before the 2nd Vatican Council in the 1960s, the bible readings at Mass were always the same. Each year on a particular Sunday, you heard the exact same readings from the previous year. After the Council, the Church decided the people should hear more and different readings. Therefore, a three year cycle began with the readings being repeated only once every three years. However, there were some exceptions, and the 2nd Sunday of Easter is one. While the first and second readings are different each year, the gospel is always the same. It is the story of doubting Thomas who serves as a role model when we have some questions about our faith (Jn 20:19-31). But it is preceded by Jesus giving the disciples the power and authority to forgive sins. It is the scriptural basis for our Lord instituting the sacrament of Penance, Confession, or Reconciliation. Also, the Responsorial Psalm is the same each year as it deals with the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion. It is a perfect complement to the Lord’s forgiveness in the sacrament of penance.

If you did not have the opportunity to go to confession before Easter, now is a good time to take advantage of the Lord’s love and mercy which endures for ever. The sacrament is available from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the church. If you are not able to come then, please call the parish office, and I will be happy to make an appointment for you to experience Jesus’ compassion and mercy.

Fr. Carl

“Our Bishop has said that every morning we must offer as a
sacrif ice all we shall have to suffer during the day; and that if
God does not send any suffering, the merit of the sacri fice
well be there all the same.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 7: Celebrant’s Chair

During the Mass, the priest represents Our Lord Jesus, persona Christi, and thus the priest’s chair is distinguishable from the other seats in the church. The chair is not designed as the place for a king: it is not a royal throne, not palatial, but it is easily differentiated from other chairs in the sanctuary and recognized as the place for the one who leads the congregation. The chair is always placed so to be seen from the nave. “The chair of the priest celebrant must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and directing the prayer” (GIRM, No. 310).
  
***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 14, 2017

Alleluia! Happy Easter!

Dear Parishioners,

Spring is that time of the year when new springs up abundantly. Flowers begin to bloom, trees start to produce leaves, grass comes back to life, and the cold air warms up. But most importantly, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. It is the greatest Solemnity of the Church Year as we rejoice in our Lord’s victory over sin and death. It is the sign that we are no longer slaves to sin and the limitations of this world but destined to rise up with Jesus and share his glory at the end of our journey on earth. That is truly a reason to celebrate. Alleluia!

May you and your families truly have a Happy Easter.

Fr. Carl

“O my God, why have you sent me into the world?”
“To save your soul.”
“And why do you wish me to save my soul?”
“Because I love you.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

The Ambo at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD.
Week 6: Ambo

During the Mass, the ambo is the focal point for the Liturgy of the Word. From this kind of tall, elevated desk, “only the readings, the responsorial psalm and Easter proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; it may be used also for giving the homily and for announcing the intentions of the prayer of the faithful” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 309). The design and location of the altar and ambo emphasize the close relationship between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist: from the holy altar we receive the body and blood of Christ, and from the ambo, Christ’s holy doctrine. In this regard the ambo, like the altar, is not just an object but sacred place.
Rev. Msgr. Carl Cummings speaks from the pulpit at St. Jane Frances

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal also explains: “The dignity of the word of God requires that the church have a place that is suitable for the proclamation of the word and toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.”

Once the persecution of Christians ended in the fourth century, churches were built and designed with an ambo or raised platform, making it easier for the congregation to hear. Around the ninth century, the pulpit replaced the ambo and was located either in the sanctuary or the nave.

  
***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. ***

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Holy Week

Dear Parishioners,

Once again St. Jane Frances was blessed by the generosity of Atlantic Maintenance Group who spruced up the parish grounds and put mulch in the gardens and around the trees. Thank you Atlantic Maintenance Group for your support.

Today as we kick off Holy Week, we begin with Passion (Palm) Sunday. The Mass celebrates both the joyful entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and his brutal passion on Good Friday (Matthew 26:14—27:66). How fickle life can be sometimes. Jesus goes from conquering hero to despised criminal in a very short time. The lesson we might learn is to put our faith and hope in God alone, for He alone will not disappoint us. He will always be there to comfort us in our sorrows and support us when fair weather friends desert us. He is the one constant who will never let us down. Thanks be to God.

- Fr. Carl

“You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to Heaven.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


The Sancutary Lamp in the upper church.

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 5: Sanctuary Lamp

In every Catholic Church, we find a readily visible lamp or candle burning before the tabernacle. This is the same light the Magi followed until they found the baby Jesus in a stable. This ever-present light still beckons to each of us. We all look for the flickering flame as soon as we enter the church. Our attitude and demeanor change as we recognize that we are in the house of the living God. The flame signifies his presence and a sign that our love for the Lord is eternal, never to be extinguished.

Called the sanctuary lamp, it was first used in the 13th century, and Canon Law 940 requires the lamp to burn continuously. This perpetual light is mentioned in Leviticus 6:6 in discussing the fire for burnt offerings: “Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continuously; it shall not go out.”


  
***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, March 31, 2017

Cardinal William Keeler: May He Rest In Peace

Dear Parishioners,

This week, the church in Baltimore bid a fond farewell to our beloved Cardinal William Keeler. He led our archdiocese for the better part of two decades and was a prominent leader in the ecumenical movement. I first met him when I was a chaplain in the U. S. Navy. Home on leave for a week, I met him in his office where he was very gracious. I was particularly impressed at how good a listener he was. Although I know he was busy man, he gave me his full attention and seemed in no hurry for me to leave.

The second time, I remember, was after being named pastor to St. Agnes in Catonsville. He gave me three valuable pieces of advice: “Don’t make any major changes in your first year; get out and visit the shut-ins regularly; and let people see you praying in church.” I have tried to do that in both parishes I have been privileged to serve. I believe that advice has served me well.

It is poignant that the Cardinal’s funeral Mass take place this week, as we will hear on Sunday the gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). While Cardinal Keeler’s body will not be raised from the dead [until Jesus returns on the last day], we have hope and confidence that his soul will be raised up to heaven, if not immediately, then in the very near future. May he rest in peace.

Fr. Carl

“Sometimes, temptations are useful in making us recapture our lost sense of the Presence of God by means of an act of love or aspiration.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars



“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 4: Tabernacle

Since there were no churches during those early centuries, Christians did not have a tabernacle. However, as we do today, they were careful to protect the Blessed Sacrament. There is some evidence that following their divine services, Christians took the consecrated bread home and consumed it during the week. By the fourth century, when construction of churches began, any reserved hosts were kept in various rooms in the church, including an area that became known as the sacristy. Theft, pilferage or worse was a serious threat, especially following the Protestant Reformation, when violence was carried out against the Catholic Church.

The design of the tabernacle slowly evolved, and by the 16th century tabernacles similar to those we have today were in use. Canon Law spells out the rules for the tabernacle location: “The tabernacle in which the Blessed Eucharist is reserved should be sited in a distinguished place in the church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitability adorned and conducive to prayer” (No. 938.2). As authorized by Church law, and approved by the local bishop, some churches use a separate chapel to house the tabernacle. The tendency today is to keep the tabernacle in proximity to the altar.

The tabernacle in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located to the left of the altar.

The tabernacle in the lower church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located directly behind the altar.

  
***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, March 24, 2017

Seeing Clearly

Dear Parishioners,

Last Friday March 17th, the school held its annual St. Patrick’s Day Bazaar. It was a huge success with excellent food, games, music, and fellowship. All had a great time thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers. I was particularly impressed by one group who rarely receive any recognition—the clean-up crew. When I went into the hall Sunday afternoon, the hall was spotless, and the floors looked like they had just been polished. Thank you clean-up volunteers.

Today, the 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare in Latin means “rejoice.” Just like Gaudete Sunday which in Latin also means rejoice, it means we are more than half-way to Easter when our Lenten pilgrimage will come to an end. This week’s gospel tells of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind (John 11:1-45). It’s an amazing miracle, but the greater miracle is the man’s seeing who Jesus really is—the Lord! Hopefully, our penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving have opened our hearts to more clearly see who Jesus is and enter into a stronger relationship with the Lord.

- Fr. Carl

“The way to destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and
by doing often those things which are opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 3: Altar

The altar is the centerpiece, the most important part of the church to which everything else is subservient. Every Catholic church is built for the altar. Altars have been part of religious services going back to antiquity, even before churches were built; the name altar is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “place of sacrifice.”


Well into the fourth century, there were no churches nor public worship. Christians held their divine services away from the occupying Romans in places like private homes. Often the altar was a simple wooden table or chest.


The top of the altar, called the mensa, a Latin word for table, traditionally has been made of stone. The altar is consecrated by a bishop and becomes the symbol of Christ: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Mt 21:42).


The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the altar: “On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited” (No. 1182). Here for us is Mount Calvary; here too, the bread and wine are turned into the body and blood of Christ.

* In the early Church, altars were built on the sites of martyrs’ graves. As more churches were built, relics were contained in or buried under altars, a practice that still occurs today.

The altar decorated at Christmas, St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***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, March 17, 2017

The Gift of Water

Dear Parishioners,

Here in Maryland, we rarely have a problem with water. Perhaps every so often in the summer, our water supply may get low because of a lack of rain. Then we may have to limit the days we can water our lawns and gardens. But in the Holy Land where Jesus lived, it was a different story. It rained infrequently in the dry countryside, and people had to find a well for their basic human and physical needs. That’s why the Samaritan women went to the well (John 4:5-42). There she met Jesus who offered her a different kind of water—the water of God’s grace. We first received that water at baptism, and we continue to receive more of it every time we receive a sacrament. Let us rejoice at this gift of spiritual water (grace) which alone can satisfy our deepest thirst for which we were created—God.

Fr. Carl

“He that has received the Sacrament of Confirmation is always ready to give his life for God… His only fear is the fear of committing sin…”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 2: Sanctuary

“They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst.” (Ex 25:8).

The sanctuary is the area, often raised, in the front of the church where the altar, the ambo, the celebrant’s chair, and, in many churches, the tabernacle are located. Separated from the nave, this is the place reminiscent of the Holy of the Holies, that is, the inner sanctuary of the temple described in the Old Testament. Interestingly, the altar and tabernacle were centuries apart in the introduction into the Church.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal defines the sanctuary as “the place where the altar stands, where the word of God is proclaimed, and where the priest, the deacon and other ministers exercise their offices.” (No. 295)

The Sanctuary decorated at Christmas, St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***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, March 10, 2017

Persevering

Dear Parishioners,

Last week we found ourselves early in Matthew’s gospel with Jesus in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). This week, much time has passed as we find Jesus in the middle of the gospel on a mountain (Matthew 17:1-9). There he is transfigured, and Peter, James and John see the glory of the Lord. This is meant to bolster the faith of the apostles during the passion and death of Jesus, give them hope and confidence to continue our Lord’s mission after the Ascension, and be a sign of our destiny if we live our faith. This we can do with the help of our Lenten practices—prayer, fasting and almsgiving, combined with our regular reception of the sacraments. May God give us the strength and grace to persevere.

Fr. Carl

“The way we destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and by doing often those things which are the opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 1: Nave

The part of a Catholic Church where the laity prays and worships is called the nave. The word “nave” comes from the Latin “navis,” meaning ship. We, the people of God, are regarded as passengers on a ship destined for heaven. The nave is not a meeting place but a place of worship; the congregation is not an audience but participants in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In most churches today, the nave is filled with pews or chairs. That was not always the case. For over 1,000 years, churches did not have seats for the congregation; the faithful mostly stood or knelt during the Mass. Not only did they stand, but they were separated by gender. Men were normally on the right facing the altar and women were on the left. Not until the 13th century did pews or benches become popular; still today there are Catholic churches without seats, save a few designated for the old and the infirm. Parishes quickly discovered that pews are an expensive addition and the cost of installation was passed on to parishioners. Pew were purchased or rented by the laity and often regarded as the property of a particular person or family. This idea persisted for centuries. Today we may contribute to pew renovation or installation, but we don’t own a particular pew (although many of us seek to sit in the same spot at every Mass).

The nave looking toward the altar in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***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, March 3, 2017

Inside Our Sacred Space

Dear Parishioners,

For those of you who missed my announcement at the end of last week’s Masses, here is basically what I said. “There was a mistake in the bulletin several weeks ago that said I would be assuming the pastorate of Our Lady of the Chesapeake when Fr. Brian Rafferty retired this summer. That was never the plan. When Fr. Brian Rafferty retires, a new priest will be sent to Our Lady of the Chesapeake to serve as pastor. It will not be me.”

I saw an interesting article in Our Sunday Visitor newspaper. This is an introduction of “Inside Our Sacred Space.” We will reprint a section of this article for the next following 14 weeks.

Fr. Carl

“Jesus Christ found a way by which he could ascend into Heaven and yet remain on the earth. He instituted the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist so that he might stay with us, and be the Food of our soul; that he might console us and be our Companion.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars



“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Gathering Space (Narthex)

The gathering space, frequently called the narthex, is the place where the faithful greet one another before and after Mass. It is the area between the outside doors of the church and the inner doors leading into the worship space. This is where we are welcomed each Sunday, where baptisms, funerals and weddings begin; here we form lines for processions and receive palms. It is a place for religious literature and for parish notices or displays.

In the early history of the Church, the narthex was a waiting area for unbaptized individuals and penitents not allowed inside the worship space and not allowed to participate in all or part of the Mass. Through the centuries, the restrictions on Mass attendance have been relaxed, but the term “narthex” remains.

In the gathering space we, at least mentally, discard our secular ways, knowing that we are about to enter holy ground and that our attitude, body language and even our attire reflect the sacredness therein.

*The word “narthex” in Greek means “giant funnel.”
 

The Narthex at St. Jane Frances where we enter the church and gather before liturgies.
 
Our narthex is also a location for offering votive candles and prayers to St. Francis Xavier, Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Anthony of Padua.


***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, February 24, 2017

Ordinary Miracles

Dear Parishioners,

I was baptized Greek Orthodox. My father was Catholic, but we went to the Greek church, St. George, in downtown Philly. It was very ornate with large, beautiful icons across the front of the church with the altar behind. There was always an abundance of incense and chanting. Unfortunately, it was Greek to me! St. Bartholomew was the Catholic church in our neighborhood, and I and my brothers went there often. I gave up my childhood faith and became Catholic after I was married for several years. I was touched by the Mass as well as the love I saw among my wife’s large family. I was something of a hippie in college, and yet they accepted me, long hair and all. It was a much different environment than my unstable home with an alcoholic father. It seemed to me that the Catholic faith was something to hold on to, stability in an uncertain world.

The faith also upheld marriage in a strong and unifying manner. My parents separated several times; that was tough on us kids. I guess I was ripe for conversion. The Church was a place to belong and to connect with God and others. The priest who married us, Fr. Bob in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was a robust and jovial character. He was also warm and accepting. I think that I have come to believe in miracles, miracles of an ordinary variety. The miracle of a young man finding his place amid the noise and changing scenes of early adulthood. The miracle of finding a loving person while carrying the baggage of a turbulent family upbringing. The miracle of having a family, raising kids without the disruptive shadow of addiction. For me, God’s voice was a beautiful call, a flower among weeds, the true light breaking through the darkness. It was a place of peace in an uncertain desert. This is the saving grace of God. He takes us where he finds us and gives us hope, love and mercy. And what results is a life transformed, a life saved from ruin, a life brought closer to perfection. He does this in millions and millions of lives. He is the good shepherd, carrying us strays on his shoulders.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“The life of a saint is just an imitation of Jesus Christ.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars