Friday, December 27, 2019

Being Christian Stewards

Dear Parishioners,

Last Saturday on a rainy dreary day, the doorbell rang and I met a young man who had some packages to drop off for the Giving Tree. He brought in two large boxes and one smaller one filled with brand new gifts for the less fortunate. When I commented on his generosity, he replied, “God has been good to me this year, and I needed to give back.”

At that moment, I realized I had come face to face with a real Christian “steward.” He recognized the good success he enjoyed was a gift from God. He was grateful, and to show his gratitude, he gave back to God by sharing with the less fortunate.

As I have mentioned several times this year, we are all stewards of God’s gifts of time, talent, and treasure. If we are truly grateful, like the young man, we will show it in prayer, service, and charity to the church and less fortunate.

The greatest gift we have been given, of course, is Jesus Christ who came into the world to sacrifice his life for our salvation. Let us be ever grateful and show it in generous service to God and neighbor.

Fr. Carl

Friday, December 20, 2019

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Dear Parishioners,

Today we are excited, because Christmas is only a few days away. The tree is up, the Christmas things are about the house. The little Santa Claus statues, the lights, the dish with red and green M&Ms, the little ceramic sleigh with reindeer, the nativity scene with the animals and the little baby, the beautiful angel hanging, sparkling in the tree lights. Some gifts are under the tree. We are ready. The Christmas dinner menu is organized, and everyone knows what to bring. The card tables are dusted off, the table clothes are ironed. The Christmas music is playing: Bing Crosby, Celine Dion, that George Winston CD. On the TV there is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Home Alone” and others. The stores all have Christmas motifs. The externals are all in place.

But now, let us pause. Let us be quiet for a moment. Let us stop our rushing about. Let us slow down. Stop and listen. God is whispering something to us.

The young couple, Mary and Joseph, have traveled from afar and have found their place to bring to the world their new born son. Even though it is a crude and dark place, they are excited and anxious. They will be parents, and their relationship will now become a family of three. The world is changing—the sky, dark and filled with stars, will never be the same.

God whispers, “I am with you.” Listen to that still and soft voice. “I love you and send you my Son.” Let us hold in our hearts those simple words of truth and goodness. Indeed, He is with us. He is the embodiment of love. Let us welcome Him in our families, our friends, in our guests. Let us seek him out, guided by that Spirit given to us in Baptism, leading us to goodness and love. Let us adore this child and make Him the center of our Christmas!

Merry Christmas and many blessings to all,
Deacon Steve

Friday, December 13, 2019

Again I Say Rejoice!

Dear Parishioners,

Several weeks ago we encouraged you to sign up for on-line giving. Instead of having to remember your envelopes or writing checks each week, your bank or credit card would automatically do that for you. A number of you did, so thank you. By the way, this week, on the front page of the Sun newspaper, there was an article about how more churches and parishioners are making their contributions through on-line banking. You might want to read it—very interesting. If you would like more information, please call Gina at the parish office.

As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, the warmth of the summer sun becomes a faded memory, and winter storms frequently make their way across the country with snow, ice, and freezing rain, it’s easy to become a little gloomy or depressed. We need a little joy in our lives. And so we celebrate Gaudete Sunday this weekend. The antiphon before Mass from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Phil 4:4-8) tells us:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice.”

And we do so as we remember our Lord’s coming into the world 2000 years ago, his promise to return at the end of time, and his continuing coming into us in word and sacrament. Furthermore, he promises us to come along on our journey through life and encourage us during whatever difficulties we encounter along the way.

In the first reading (Is 35:1-6a, 10), the Israelites have lost Jerusalem, been carted off to Babylon, and been living in captivity for a number of years. Their discouragement leads God to show them the future through the prophecy of Isaiah. They will return and experience blind eyes being opened, deaf ears being cleared, mute tongues singing, and the lame leaping like stags. This is what Jesus is doing in the gospel (Matt 11:2-11). The Messiah has come to bring the joy of the kingdom.

So let us too rejoice!
Fr. Carl

Friday, December 6, 2019

Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord

Dear Parishioners,

We hear today of the announcement of John the Baptist (Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12) to prepare the way of the Lord. I am reminded of the song in Godspell that goes, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

This is a crucial action. We are not in ordinary times here. We are about to be visited by the Son of God, and that is special. His way must be prepared. For me, this means opening my heart to all that God gives. It means to be open in my mind to the world around me and to take in all that God has created. It means to pray that God will send forth his love and grace to those in need this season. It means for me to give generously of my time and resources. We are asked to love one another, and so we must be agents of care to those around us. We are to be mindful of the great pain and suffering in the world. The birth of Christ is a joyous event that heralds also God becoming human and like us in every way but sin. This child represents the embodiment of God’s love and care for us. His son has come to save us and to open us up to God’s loving presence in our lives. Certainly we have gifts to buy, ornaments to put on the tree, and the bringing out of our special Christmas things that make our homes warm and festive. (Like my wife’s 40 Santa Clauses!) But let us not forget that this season is meant for our rebirth, for our mental and spiritual refresh, for us to realize again the presence of Christ made new by the manger.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make clear his path to your heart, mind and life.

Deacon Steve

Friday, November 29, 2019

Go To The Lord’s House Rejoicing

Dear Parishioners,

As we embark upon a new liturgical year this First Sunday of Advent, my thoughts are on our sister parish in Haiti, St. Guillaume (William). The people there need our financial help to assist in feeding their school children. And we have the money to help but are unable to send it there. We have written the checks, but our messengers can’t take them into the country due to the civil unrest and violence in the capital, Por-au-Prince. Let us pray for a peaceful solution to Haiti’s problems and St. Guillaume.

This week and two weeks ago, the readings called our attention to the end times when God will come again. The earlier readings were a bit more threatening to the evil doers; this week they are more up-beat as they talk about going to the Lord’s house rejoicing (Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44). Nevertheless, we are called to be mindful and live honorably and keeping watch so as to be allowed into the house of the Lord. Besides it just feels better to live that way knowing we are on God’s right side.

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thank God, It’s Thanksgiving!

Dear Parishioners,

I was a Marriage and Family therapist when I had a practice several years ago. It was a very lively and interesting part of my career. From the couple who took two minutes to work up to yelling at each other to the family struggling with the issues of a distraught teenager to the kid who refused to eat anything but macaroni and cheese, the cases I encountered of family struggles were always challenging. I enjoyed being in there with them! Maybe that says something about my craziness!

But from the varied experience of my own family, I know that family is such an essential and basic aspect of our growing up. It is the place where we learn how to be human beings and how to socialize and communicate. It is where we learn about work, self worth, authority and of course, love. With Thanksgiving upon us, most of us will share some family time this week. How should we approach it?

Our Catholic faith puts family as a cornerstone of our lives. In our marital relationship, our sibling relationship, our relationship with our parents, or our relationship with our children, family is a pivotal place where God’s command to love is carried out. If those relations are good, please send off a prayer of Thanksgiving, and let your family know how much they are loved. Put into words your appreciation. Thank God for the joy that he gives us in loving others who matter to us. If the relations are conflicted, pray nonetheless. Pray for God’s grace to accept, to make amends, to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness. Ask for God to enter into your heart and mend the brokenness, the frayed edges, the worries, the anger, the loss. Make a resolution, if possible, to learn how to endure the burden of family, however it occurs in your life. And know that you are a child of God, loved by God, who wants for you to know your dignity and value. May the holidays be a time of grace and appreciation for God’s presence in our lives.

Deacon Steve

Friday, November 15, 2019

The End Times

Dear Parishioners,

Today’s readings challenge us to reflect on the end times (Mal 3:19-20a; 2 Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19).
In the first reading from the Book of Malachi (Mal 3:19-20), the prophet warns of the ruin of evil doers and the healing and restoration of the first. St. Paul, in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thes 3:7-12), encourages perseverance through “toil and drudgery”—and not being busybodies.

In St. Luke’s gospel (Lk 21:5-19), Jesus speaks of natural disasters, including earthquakes, famines, and plagues as well as wars and persecutions, before His second coming.

Deepening our discipleship in Christ leads to a more deeper and personal relationship with Him and strengthens us. Pray daily, go to confession regularly, and attend Mass frequently to receive Christ’s strength through the Eucharist during difficult times. As Jesus says at the end of today’s gospel, “By your perseverance, you will secure your lives.”

Fr. Carl

Friday, November 8, 2019

Attitude Of Gratitude

Dear Parishioners,

I like the prayer of the faithful during Mass where we ask to have a prayerful “attitude of gratitude.” Gratitude seems to be in short supply these days. The common feeling I encounter is more like that of entitlement or a sense of pride. I grew up in a home that had few privileges. I wasn’t one to feel better than others. Thus, it is easy for me to be thankful for the many things that I have received from God.

I have a strong faith and believe that God has blessed me beyond measure. I have been blessed with a good education and a fulfilling and useful career. My health has been good, and even though I can get the senior discount, I am thankful for being upright. I have been married for 44 years to a wonderful woman who is gentle and caring and certainly one who has to put up more from me than I from her! My children and grandchildren have carried us on some interesting paths, but the trip has made life a joy, filled with a fullness of love that leaves me smiling. God opened my eyes to the diaconate and showed me a life of service and giving. I have been brought here to St. Jane through several parishes and shown the great good that is the Church. I have failed many times to live up to the model of Christ, but his grace has always been with me, even when I failed to listen. I cannot hesitate to manifest an attitude of gratitude. I cannot respond to the saving love of Christ without an attitude of gratitude. I cannot look to my life without thanking God for the abundance of his gifts.

During this month of Thanksgiving, this month of stewardship, this month of gratitude, let us loudly proclaim our thankfulness for all the good that God has given us.

Deacon Steve

Friday, November 1, 2019

November: Month of All Souls

Dear Parishioners,

November 2nd is All Soul’s Day when we not only remember our deceased relatives and friends, but also pray for them. We do so because they might not yet be in heaven but in purgatory. If so, our prayers, sacrifices, and almsgiving can expedite their entry into heaven. Going to Mass on November 2nd is a great help, but also going to any cemetery on the 2nd and the next 8 days to pray for them is a big help as well. Since November is the Month of All Souls in Purgatory, it would be good to pray daily for these souls and encourage all family members—especially our children—to do so as well.

While our thoughts are on the dead, it might be wise to ensure that we are prepared for our entry into the next life. Is our Will up to date? Do we have a power of attorney prepared? How about advanced medical directives? When someone dies, a funeral director is usually contacted, who then calls the church and then meets with the family. The Church’s preference is that Catholics be buried in consecrated ground of a Catholic cemetery, but other cemeteries may be chosen. Cremation is allowed, but the Church recommends burial over cremation. If cremation is chosen, cremation should take place after the funeral Mass, and cremains must also be interred in the ground or columbarium or a vault. They should not be kept at home, scattered, or divided among family members. They should be given the same respect as a deceased body. A centuries-old custom is to celebrate a Mass for the deceased on the one month anniversary of their death, called a Month’s Mind Mass. And it is customary to arrange for Mass intentions for the deceased, perhaps on their birthday, anniversary, or death date.

Finally, why not check the bulletin for the Masses honoring the Souls, and come and pray for them. Hopefully, when our time comes, they will be praying for us!

Fr. Carl

Friday, October 25, 2019

Celebrate Life!

Dear Parishioners,

My legs are sore. Last week on a beautiful crisp fall Saturday, I ran 3 miles off and on. The run took place in Washington DC during a fundraising 5 K for Children’s National Hospital. My involvement with the hospital began several years ago. My granddaughter Natalie was in the hospital having heart surgery. She was less than a year old. What my wife and I found out later was that she was really fighting for her life. She was down to only several pounds. She was not eating. She looked emaciated like one of those babies you see on feeding the hungry commercials. She was there for quite a while during which we brought her older sister for visits and to provide some relief to her beleaguered parents. That hospital is a place of miracles. She survived and now thrives.

The Saturday race was a big affair. We collected a couple thousand dollars for the cause, and we had a team of 10 people to walk and run. The coolest part was that Natalie—with the help of her Nana and her Dad—was able to slowly, and with stuttering steps, walk over the finish line. I got the picture! I believe that this is a pro-life story. This is the action of God working through us to allow life to prevail. This is the coming together of many family and professionals to rescue a small little girl from encroaching darkness. This is a life story that reflects how the small breath of God that resides in a broken body can prosper and grow. This shows how faith and trust and community and expertise and a giving spirit make things better. God gave this little one a spark of life, and it continues to brighten. This is what the month of October celebrates.

Deacon Steve

Friday, October 18, 2019

Persistent Prayer

Dear Parishioners,

There were “big doings” in Rome last Sunday as the pope canonized 5 new saints. There were 3 nuns, a lay woman, and Cardinal John Henry Newman. Born in England in 1801, he became a priest of the Church of England. After doing some research on the early church, he decided to become Catholic. This decision cost him dearly as he lost many friends and family members. One sister never spoke to him again. He became a Catholic priest several years later and finally a cardinal many years later. He was a brilliant theologian, poet, and writer of hymns. Our opening hymn the last two Sundays was written by him. A modest and quiet man, but one of great integrity, he followed his conscience and not the voice of popular opinion or culture. He serves as an excellent role model amidst our troubled times.

In today’s Scripture readings (Ex 17:8-13; 2 Tm 3:14–4:2; Lk 18:1-8), persistent prayer is the primary theme. Moses’ continual prayer atop a hill allows Joshua to win the battle over Amalek. In St. Luke’s gospel, the widow’s persistence and determination results in a just decision from the unjust judge. Good Christian stewards recognize the importance of daily and persistent conversation with God. Faith-filled disciples seek and accept God’s response and always remember to express gratitude for his abundant blessings. As St. Padre Pio said, “Prayer is the oxygen for the soul.” October is the month of the rosary. Learn the great prayer and pray it daily. It only takes 15 minutes. The Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor.

Fr. Carl

P.S. The pope prays 4 rosaries a day!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Respect Life

Dear Parishioners,

October is Respect Life month in the life of the Church. For all of us, respecting life should be about an attitude toward God’s creation, toward our personal lives and the lives of all of those in our society. The USCCB elucidates seven themes of Catholic social teaching. Human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the moral foundation of our society. This involves protecting the life of the unborn and the elderly, and being aware of the impact of cloning and embryonic stem cell research. This attitude calls us to know the moral threat of the death penalty. The intentional killing of civilians in war and terror attacks is morally wrong. The protection of the family follows as well the need for respect and dignity. The importance of marriage as a powerful force in the stability of society cannot be understated. Awareness of our rights in this society but also our responsibilities to each other and the common good is another part of the firm ground of our teaching. Protection of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disabled is a clear choice we should make. I think this includes immigrants seeking a better life. They are aliens, and God’s people were aliens and slaves in a foreign land. Expecting our economy to serve people, the dignity of work, and the rights of workers are basic tenets of our moral teaching. The idea that we are one human family, all created in the image of God, is also morally promoted. Finally, respect for God’s creation in this beautiful garden of the environment is another theme of our Christian life.

Let us pray for and contemplate these aspects of our lives and thus make choices that support life in all its forms and manifestations. The God of creation will be pleased, I hope, if we respect the many fruits of His work.

Deacon Steve

Friday, October 4, 2019

Time, Our Most Precious Gift

Dear Parishioners,

For the past two weekends, I’ve been talking about stewardship, which started when God gave Adam and Eve dominion over His creation and told them to cultivate the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, they were not good stewards and lost their privileged position as God’s friends. Thanks to Jesus, we have regained God’s friendship and gifts of Time, Talent, and Treasure. If we are truly grateful, we won’t hoard these gifts just for ourselves; we will share them with God and neighbor.

Let us concentrate for the next several weeks on “Time.” What might we give to God to show our appreciation for the time he has given us already and will give us in the future? Are we willing to sacrifice some extra time in prayers each day? How about some extra time with the entire family?

This is the month of the “Rosary.” For on Oct. 7, 1571, the outnumbered Christian naval forces won a stunning victory over the Turkish Muslim forces at Lepanto, preventing them from over-running the Christian lands in Europe. This happened as Pope Pius V, with a number of his Dominican brothers were praying the rosary in Rome. So, why not spend an extra 15 minutes a day praying the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, or Luminous mysteries? As a matter of fact, Pope Francis prays all 4 sets each day. Or perhaps you could give the Lord 15 minutes each evening reading the Gospels. We just had St. Jerome’s feast who wrote: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” After all, it’s the best seller of all times!

Whatever sacrifice of your time you give back to God will not be forgotten. Your generosity to God will be outdone in one way or another—either now or in the future.

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 27, 2019

Humility And Service

Dear Parishioners,

I have just returned from a weekend at the Deacon Convocation, where the deacons and their wives get together for a weekend of talks, spiritual nourishment, community, and good food. The word that kept coming up for me was humility. It refers to the idea that you treat others as better than yourself. It takes seriously the words of Christ who said that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Matthew 20:16). Our Lord died so that our sins may be forgiven and our relationship with God reconciled. This is true humility, a self-emptying, a pouring out of oneself for another.

Humility is that attitude that I will sacrifice for another, because they are worth it. I am privileged and honored to give some of my time and energy to NCEON, the agency that helps the poor in Anne Arundel County with food and financial support. Now on the weekend, we were introduced to two young men, Colin Miller and Nathan Belk. At the direction of Fr. James Boric at the Baltimore Basilica, they have begun a ministry to the homeless. It is called Source of All Hope ( They walk the streets of Baltimore and share water and pairs of socks with the homeless they encounter. They offer them their time and attention. They show them dignity and welcome their stories. They are humble young men who have been touched by the Spirit to do a great work. They do not see themselves as superior to the men and women they encounter but blessed and called to serve them. They understand well the Church’s call to serve the poor. Let us practice that virtue of humility in all we do.

Our vocation as Catholics is to follow the model of Christ in his mercy and humility. There is much we can offer others not in our pride and superiority but in our humility and service.

Deacon Steve

Friday, September 20, 2019

More Happiness In Giving Than Receiving

Dear Parishioners,

In St. Luke’s gospel today about the dishonest steward (Lk 16:1-13), a basic principle emerges on the topic of riches—one cannot serve both God and money.

Wealth is not necessarily bad when used wisely. Christian stewards—that’s all of us—recognize that all gifts of treasure are ultimately God’s. Therefore, out of gratitude, we should give back generously a portion of these blessings to God (through the church) and to those in need. Today’s culture honors and respects money and wealth instead of generosity and charity. Although a significant donation from billionaires does make the news, it’s not very inspirational as he/she has plenty more in the bank. What is inspirational is sacrificial giving, because it reflects on Jesus’ sacrificial gift of his body on the cross. Besides, there is more joy and happiness as St. Paul quotes Jesus, “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.” (Acts 20:35)

Fr. Carl

Friday, September 13, 2019

Our World Is A Gift

Dear Parishioners,

I live in Annapolis, and I love looking out on the water as I go over the several bridges to get to St. Jane Frances parish. There are usually a scattering of sailboats, some power boats, and a big ship or two. My grandfather was a sailor, and I think I’ve got some of that love of the water in me as well. But it goes beyond the water. I have backpacked the Appalachian Trail and the Adirondacks, and gone up Pike’s Peak. We have traveled the Rockies and the mountains of Alaska. I think in order to stay reasonably sane, you need a hit of the ocean and the mountains regularly. There is such beauty in nature but there is also the message of God’s grandeur and power. It is humbling to be in the presence of the immensity of the ocean or at the foot of a mountain range.

I grew up in Philly so it wasn’t until I was a young man that I saw the Milky Way in the big sky of South Dakota. God has given us a beautiful place to be. He himself even said that it was good as he created it. As we witness the destructive power of Dorian, we must be aware of God’s gift in our world but also the need to respect its power. Like our faith, we can’t take the earth for granted. We must nurture and care for it. So as we move from the heat of summer into the cooler days of fall, let us thank God for the great gift of our world. Let us be mindful of our role in being good stewards, not simply taking advantage, abusing, and desecrating it, but seeing it as a gift from our Creator who lovingly gave us a place in which to live, to grow, and to love.

Deacon Steve

Friday, September 6, 2019

Who Doesn’t Love A Hug?

Dear Parishioners,

I was awakened recently by my 7-year old granddaughter jumping on our bed. My wife had been up for a while, so little Amelia thought she had the right to come and awaken me with her jumping and peals of giggles. I wasn’t so amused. But I am also aware of the fact that it is a gift for us to live so close to family. I have a friend who is going out to California to see family, and he is not sure that his daughter will speak to him. They have a conflicted relationship. My wife and I are blessed with children who speak to us and with grandchildren who play with us. I hope that it is good for them, because it is certainly rejuvenating for us to be in their presence.

I think that God intended us to be in community. We all need personal space no doubt, but isn’t it also great to have a hug sometimes? I know our society has this value about doing it my way. But isn’t it also wonderful to be able to be supported by friends and family who love you?

Loneliness is a great despair that many people experience. To be known and to know another person is a gift. I think that God puts people in our lives for us and for them to be held and supported. To know and to be known means that I am not alone, but I am a part of a social fabric that gives me strength, a social network that holds me, a connection that says that I am thought about, remembered, and not forgotten. This is a quality of church that brings me back every day. Christ tells us that he is with us until the end of time (Matt 28:20). I need that, I seek that, I am thankful for that! Let us at St. Jane Frances be community for each other. We all need a little more of that.

Deacon Steve

Friday, August 30, 2019

Get To Know God Better

Dear Parishioners,

What a blessed summer we have enjoyed. Bright and sunny and hot, it was so much better than last year’s rainy and dreary weather. Praise the Lord! Now that school is starting, our children will be learning and studying all kinds of subjects, but what about you and me? There’s an old adage that says, “You are never too old to learn.” Furthermore, the old Baltimore Catechism taught us, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and serve Him in this life so as to be happy with Him in heaven.”

Here at St. Jane’s, we have several opportunities to do that. First, there is RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). It is primarily for those interested in learning about the Catholic faith and possibly becoming Catholics themselves. It’s also a good refresher course for adult Catholics whose education most likely ended at age 14 with the sacrament of Confirmation. Second, our Alpha program on Sunday afternoons is designed to help anybody enter into a more personal relationship with God. Third is the Men’s Fellowship meeting starting Monday, Sept. 9th at 7:00 pm to study the Gospel of John. Finally, how about home study where you take a book of the Bible and read a little bit (15 minutes) each day until finished. I would suggest Luke first, then the Acts of the Apostles—followed by Matthew, Mark, and John. I promise that you will get to know Jesus better. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Or to put it in positive words, “Knowledge of the Bible leads to knowledge of Christ.” As I hear at the end of one TV commercial (with Joe Namath), if you follow any of these suggestions, “You will be glad you did.”

Father Carl | The Catholic Faith on Demand

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Tension And Conflict

Dear Parishioners,

I grew up in a family that at times was marked by great tension and conflict. It is hard to talk about at times because of the easy tendency to cast blame and to designate who was wrong. My parents both carry some of the blame, as it takes two to engage in conflict. I remember evenings with loud arguments and mean-spirited exchanges. I did my best to stay clear. If any of us children were focused on during these arguments, it was my brother who was limited. He was the most vulnerable, and given the difficult course his life has taken, it showed some effect. I mention this in part because I feel that our society is reaching a place where I feel the same as I did growing up. It was unsafe often in my household, like walking into the crossfire of a battle. The anger, animosity, blaming, and conflict expressed daily in the actions of prominent politicians and media in our country is sad and points to no positive process, but a negative tearing down of the fabric of our country. My reaction to my family’s difficulties was to hole myself up in my room or leave and be with friends. At the national level of conflict, there is no easy way to avoid or leave. Now as a member of the clergy of our church, I do not wish to get political and take sides. But the level of animosity is greatly disheartening. I think we deserve better than this. I pray every day that our national dialogue will take on a more constructive stance. I ask that God soften the hearts of our national leaders, that His truth will prevail and be served. God’s love permeates my faith. If only it could be more present in our national conversation.

Deacon Steve

Friday, August 16, 2019

True Happiness

Dear Parishioners,

The summer is drawing to a close. In a short two weeks, it will be Labor Day weekend, and school will begin. This year God has blessed us with much more sunshine than last year, and much better tomatoes, corn, and melons. Thank you, Lord.

However, this week’s readings are not very uplifting (Jer 38:4-6, 8-10; Heb 12:1-4; Lk 12:49-53). The loyal prophet Jeremiah has been thrown into an empty water-well where he sits in mud left to die.

His words from God made people angry as it challenged and criticized their way of life. True believers are rarely popular with the lax and sinful. People don’t like being reminded of their faults. Saints do, but sinners don’t. The gospel goes even further; as Jesus tells us, following the gospel can even cause trouble in families for the same reason. Nevertheless, the benefits of our communion with the Lord far outweigh the difficulties of being at odds with our family and friends.

Hopefully, it will cause them to think and cause them to return to God where true happiness resides.

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, August 9, 2019

How are you and Jesus coming along?

Dear Parishioners,

How are you and Jesus coming along?

There is a lot to our Catholic faith: the sacraments, Sacred Scripture, prayer, the liturgy of the Mass, and much more. Primary among all of these actions and understandings is the life of Jesus. His life appearance in the history of humanity is a challenge, an invitation, and a model to imitate. Christ carries so much meaning for us, it is hard to get your head around. But hopefully, every day our relationship with Christ grows stronger and deeper.

I believe that Jesus is the solution to our problems, concerns, and questions as well as the foundation of our lives. St. Jane Frances is offering a way to better improve your relationship with Christ in a fun, comfortable and informative manner. The Alpha program is a video-based presentation of the basic tenets of Christianity focused on the life of Christ. Through the lively witness of people telling their stories about what Christ did in their lives, the program seeks to invite you to experience the power and love of Christ. This happens over the course of a meal followed by non-threatening sharing at a table with others. The purpose is to take you where you are and show you the breadth and depth of Christ’s invitation to join him. Our faith has the power to transform our lives. Our faith has the energy to bring life to our spirituality. Our faith equips us to be more saintly examples of love and goodness.

Alpha can be the trigger that gets things spiritually moving again. Do you think to yourself that you are not fed? Well here is a scrumptious meal of faith filled experience that can ignite your passion and deepen your understanding. Are you just floating along in your faith? Here is an opportunity to turn that around. Here is the chance to renew your active membership in the Body of Christ. Please join us for the fall Alpha program starting September 8 at 4:00 in the Parish Hall.

Deacon Steve

For more information about Alpha or to register, go to

Friday, August 2, 2019

Guard Against Greed

Dear Parishioners,

A number of years ago, there was a satirical comedy about a greedy company from the east that saw an opportunity in the old west to make a lot of money by taking over a small town through which a railroad line would be run. The company had a logo modeled after Gulf Oil, only it’s name was Engulf and Devour. In other words, it was a company designed to eat up something whole and quickly so as to make as much money as possible. Obviously, no company today would be so greedy and vulgar as was portrayed in Blazing Saddles. But greed is a problem not only with businesses and individuals.

The readings today (Eccl 1:2, 2:21-23; Col 3:1-5, 9-11; Lk 12:13-21) warn us against this sin which is one of the 7 Capital Sins. And we all need to be on our guard, since we live in a greedy culture which places material goods and access to them as a supreme value. It’s a sin that clings very closely to each of us unless we decide to do something about it.

Jesus warns us today, “Take care to guard against all greed…” and who are so foolish “... store up treasures for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.” What matters to God is our stewardship over his gifts and sharing with the poor, the needy, and the church. “Don’t be mean and selfish with your money.” (Deut 15:7) “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2Cor 9:7) “God blesses everyone who is kind to the poor.” (Prov 14:21) And finally, there is the poor widow who gives her last two coins in support of the temple.

The bible tells us that the best way to overcome greed is generosity, but not just in terms of treasure, but also with our time and talent as well. Jesus generously gave his life for us. In gratitude, shouldn’t we be generous with God’s gifts to us of time, talent, and treasure?

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, July 26, 2019

Persistence of the Human Spirit

Dear Parishioners,

We have just gotten back from going on vacation. Of course we chose the hottest week of the year to go. And we decided in the spring that we would go south! Our daughter went to the College of Charleston, and we hadn’t been back in years, so we headed there. As well, we have always wanted to go to Savannah, so yes, we went really south to Georgia! We were on a mission to Charleston because Al, a guy I know from the food pantry at NCEON, asked me to deliver a donation to the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church there.

If you don’t remember, Emmanuel A.M.E was the place where 9 members of the church were murdered during bible study on June 17, 2015. That horrific event had stuck in my mind because of our connection with Charleston. The church was close to the visitor center, so we walked over. We met with Lee Bennett, one of the church elders, who was kind to us and showed us and several other couples around. He was a pall bearer during the funerals. The church is one of the oldest African American churches in the country. Church members were harassed and persecuted prior to the Civil War, because slaves were not allowed to engage in religious activities. One of the church founders, Denmark Vesey, was executed in 1818, along with others, after a plot to free slaves was discovered. The original church was burned to the ground. Although security is tighter now after the terrible events of 2015, Mr. Bennett made the point that everyone is still invited to attend services. It is “God’s house” he said emphatically. They had bible study the next week after the shooting. It is funny how small things can lead to bigger things. The visit to Emmanuel made the trip for us and left an indelible mark on us. It was a powerful reminder of the evil in the world but also one of the power of God and the persistence of the human spirit to seek God.

Deacon Steve

Friday, July 19, 2019


Dear Parishioners,

Recently there have been some people on the parking lot asking for money. Please do not give them any. There are legitimate charities to help the poor and needy. If you encounter anybody asking for money, let me know, and I will deal with them. Certainly, it is good to give to the poor which can be done through Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities, the poor box, and many other reputable agencies. As a matter of fact, Jesus encourages us to do that as noted in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19–31), and the story of the Last Judgement where the sheep and goats are separated (Mt 25:31–46). The sheep, those who have fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, and clothed the naked will receive the Father’s blessing and be invited into the Kingdom of God.

This week’s readings deal with hospitality. When Abraham sees the three men (Gn 18:1-10a), he knocks himself out to make them feel welcome. He runs out to greet them, bathes their feet, and has Sarah prepare a wonderful meal.

In the gospel (Lk 10:38-42), Mary and Martha show hospitality to Jesus. Mary gives Jesus her full attention by sitting at his feet and listening to him. Martha shows hospitality by preparing a meal. Both sisters show hospitality doing what they can to serve Jesus–Mary by listening and being with Jesus–Martha by preparing and serving a meal.

For the past year, we have been trying to be a more hospitable and welcoming parish with our greeters doing more at the doors. But hospitality shouldn’t end there. We should be welcoming inside as well. Instead of grudgingly moving our legs a bit, why not stand up to allow for easier access and give a smile as they go past. Or you could make the ultimate sacrifice by moving from the end of the pew to the middle. It’s only a small sacrifice but an easy way to love your neighbor as yourself.

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, July 12, 2019

Grow In Love

Dear Parishioners,

God sets the bar of love very high. Jesus says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” And our Lord not only said it but did it himself. He willingly and generously gave himself in ministry and death on the cross. He held nothing back.

St. Jane Frances is a great parish with many loving, faithful, and generous people. We just reached our goal for the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. Actually, we exceeded it! Thank you for your loving and generous support. However, when our Lord calls us to love, he wants more than some of our treasure. He asks for our time and talent as well. We just celebrated Independence Day and rejoiced in the blessings we enjoy here in America. However, all good gifts ultimately come from God. Gratitude calls us to generously give back to God in time, talent, and treasure.

May Jesus, who sacrificed everything for us, help us to grow in our love for God and neighbor.

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, July 5, 2019

Thankful For Free Gifts

Dear Parishioners,

On this holiday weekend with the focus on freedom, I want to focus on the free gifts we have been given by God. First of all, God has given us life which we do not have to pay for or earn. It is abundant as Christ declares. As a part of our human nature, we can see, hear, touch, move around. We have free will and an intellect that can discern good from evil. Being made in the image of God, we are also relational in nature. Indeed we could not survive without the loving relationships with others, especially our parents: feeding us, sheltering us, teaching us, nurturing us along the way. We have been given the gift of love by God and it expresses itself in all things that we do. Love is the basic good that describes our relationships and true love is based on respect, understanding, self-giving and care for the other. It is not something invented by us but a wonderful gift given by God. God has given us a sense of beauty and has placed in our midst beautiful things such as the beauty of a sunset, human beauty and created beauty in the arts. Our faith also teaches us that through our nature, we seek the good naturally. As St. Augustine has stated, “My heart is restless until it rests in You.” God has implanted in our nature a desire for God. As we celebrate the 4th of July, let us also thank our founding fathers for the gift of religious freedom that empowers us to experience all that God has given us. Let us make a simple prayer of thanksgiving for our faith, for the beauty of our nature, and for the ability to gather freely as a faith community at St. Jane Frances. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for!

Deacon Steve

Friday, June 28, 2019

True Freedom of Religion

Dear Parishioners,

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July and our independence from the tyrannical government back in 1776, we are reminded of the freedoms our ancestors won for us. We have those freedoms spelled out in the 1st Ten Amendments to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. Of particular interest to the Church is the First Amendment which guarantees freedoms of speech, assembly, press, and religion. Those first three freedoms are much respected and protected. However, that’s not so much the case with freedom of religion. There have been numerous efforts to reduce freedom of religion to freedom of worship. In one state, California, a law is being pushed to mandate that the sin of child abuse when confessed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation must be revealed to civil authorities. In other words, priests are to violate the seal of confession. While priests have been guilty of various sins and crimes, I have never heard of any violating the seal of confession. Some have even been martyred or gone to prison for their fidelity to the sacrament.

Elsewhere, preaching on sexual morality and the sins involved, have resulted in the preacher being accused of fostering hate speech.

In any event, we need to pray for and work toward true freedom of religion and not just freedom of worship. As we do, St. Paul today (Gal 5:1, 13-18) reminds us to use our freedom not for selfish purposes but to “serve one another through love.” That will truly set us free.

Happy Fourth of July,
Father Carl

Friday, June 21, 2019

Relics of St. Padre Pio in Baltimore

Dear Parishioners,

Recently relics of St. Padre Pio were presented at the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore. I drove up after the morning communion service. St. Padre Pio was born in Italy in 1887 and died in September 1968. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on May 2, 1999. His feast day is September 23. St. Padre Pio was religious at a young age and knew he wanted to live a life for God at the age of 5. He was also a sickly individual having Typhoid fever at 10, being significantly ill at 17 and later. However, it didn’t stop him from joining a monastery as a monk when he was 15. He became a priest in 1910.

As a young, man he experienced the stigmata of Christ and had wounds on his hands and feet. They bled but did not become infected. They were noted to be perfectly round. After some initial controversy, Fr. Pio was allowed to minister more publicly and became noted for his piety, charity, and his preaching. He is noted to have said, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”

The experience of being in the presence of the St. Pio’s relics was wonderful. I felt a deep peace as I prayed for several people I know and for my family. There was a continuous flow of people. People would touch their rosaries and other items to the glass encased relics. Deacon Bob Shepherd (who helps out with communion services here at St. Jane) is assigned there, and we talked. He told me that Fr. Boric, the rector of the Basilica, attended a Mass in Italy presided by Fr. Pio when he was 14!

Let us pray for the intercession of the saints as we believe they are close to God. We need all the help we can get!

Deacon Steve

Friday, June 14, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Father’s Day!
The Trinity is the central and deepest mystery of our faith. How can there be 3 persons in 1 God? And yet, that is what Jesus and the Bible tell us. We get a clue in the Book of Genesis in the creation story where God said “Let us create mankind in our own image.” (Genesis 1:26–28) St. Iraneaus thinks that is the Father talking to the Son. However, in last week’s gospel, Jesus clearly refers to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit coming to live within those who love him by keeping his word.

What can we learn from the Trinity?
We learn that they are a community of persons living in harmony and love. And since we are created in the image and likeness of God, that’s how we are supposed to live—in harmony and love with God and one another. That’s not easy, but the harder we try and pray to God, the better we will be and the happier we will be as well.

God Bless,
Father Carl

Friday, June 7, 2019

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Pentecost by Jean II Restout, 1732, oil on canvas, Louvre Museum, Paris
Dear Parishioners,

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the disciples to experience Pentecost!

These were unlearned men for the most part. They left their jobs to follow this young man whose wisdom, love, and challenge was intriguing and perplexing, yet deeply felt. Here they are going through the embarrassment and fear of the crucifixion to find out that he lives as he visits them and pronounces peace to them. What a whirlwind of experiences, hard to fathom and understand. Then they are given the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire and extraordinary capabilities. It is perhaps the same with us. (Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23)

What is this Holy Spirit given to us at Baptism and Confirmation?

This powerful force leads us to extraordinary situations and results. Did I know when I was a teenager that one day I would be preaching, baptizing, and standing in front of people readily sharing the word of God? No, it was a far, far off thought. Yet my life has come to this place, at this time, doing such things. Why? It is the Holy Spirit. Simply, the Holy Spirit has directed me, given me courage, opened up opportunities for me, given me the words to say. And I offer to you, how has the Holy Spirit affected you?

The disciples challenged the culture they were in, the religious authorities, the basis of their religious practices and beliefs. The Holy Spirit made that happen. It brought to them truth, motivation, and energy that resulted in their actions changing the world. We can do that as well. We need to do that. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created. And Thou shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Deacon Steve

Come, Holy Spirit, come!

And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.

From the sequence at today’s Mass.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Get To Work!

Dear Parishioners,

As the school year comes to a close and graduations take place, so too does the Easter season, with the Solemnity of Pentecost next weekend. But this weekend sets the stage for Pentecost as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. Before the Holy Spirit could descend on the apostles and the Church, Jesus had to ascend to heaven. However, the Ascension is more than an historical celebration of Jesus’ triumphal victory over sin and evil; it is an invitation for us to join in the work of Jesus to spread the good news as we live our faith. After all, the two angels in the first reading said to the apostles “Men of Galilee why are you standing there looking into the sky?” (Acts 1:1–11) In other words, “Don’t just stand there. Get to work and spread the gospel.” Always in the gospel, what is said to the disciples is meant for us as well. Lent may be over, but we still have work to do—to help build up the kingdom of God. And that’s not just a job but rather a privilege.

Fr. Carl

Friday, May 24, 2019

Alleluia! Praise God!

Dear Parishioners,

I have been thinking about the word, “Alleluia.” It comes from Latin around the 14th century and means, “Praise God!”

In the Psalms, it is a request for the congregation to join in praise of God. In the Mass, it comes before the Gospel reading and accompanies an antiphon or phrase from the Psalms among other times. It is withheld during the penitential time of Lent, signifying that the kingdom of God is not yet here. It is a joyous statement of our faith and belief in God the Almighty. Alleluia is a statement of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. We acknowledge God’s greatness and goodness in our enthusiastic alleluia. We join with the angels in heaven in proclaiming, “Alleluia!” We probably can’t say it quietly or with a stern face, it has to come deeply with enthusiasm. Yet I know at times it is hard to be in an “alleluia” mood. Sometimes we can’t get to the place where alleluia fits us and where we can honestly and joyfully proclaim it. Maybe we need to pause then and turn to God asking for his help and support. Maybe it is then that we need to see that God is present even in our struggles, that he is at work in us, shaping us, clarifying us, focusing us. For we cannot praise God only when things are good and we feel blessed. He is present at all times, and I believe cries with us, knows our sorrow and our pain, our laughter and joy.

Therefore it is alleluia at all times. It is praise this God of ours who knows us and who always walks with us. And when we are most crippled by our difficulties, he carries us. So, alleluia, alleluia! Praise God for his companionship and salvation, his creative force in our lives and his great mercy!

Deacon Steve

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sacramental Sponsors

Dear Parishioners,

From time to time, we get requests from people who have been asked to be sponsors for the Sacraments of Baptism or Confirmation. However, I am not always here to sign these letters of eligibility. But, if the person has been using the envelopes on a regular basis or has a history of on-line giving, the office can issue that letter provided all the other requirements are met.

The sponsor must be a Catholic who is at least 16 years old, not the parent of the candidate, and has received the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. If married, the sponsor must be in a valid marriage (i.e, marriage recognized by the Catholic Church). Basically, the sponsor is to be a good Catholic role model to assist in the candidate’s growth and maturing in the faith.

Before asking a person to serve as a sponsor, it’s always good to explain the role and requirements beforehand, so that any subsequent embarrassment might be avoided. While it’s an honor to serve as a sponsor, it’s much more. It’s an important responsibility that will play a significant role in the faith development of the candidate for Baptism or Confirmation. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me.

Fr. Carl

Friday, May 10, 2019

Yes, Lord

Dear Parishioners,

We are in the fullness of May. The spring rains have come. The daffodils, hyacinths, and forsythia have bloomed and are gone. We have had the May Crowning. I have on my desk in front of me a small statue of Mary, with her arms open wide, eyes closed, in a pose that suggests she is in prayer. It is the perfect example of her contemplating the mysteries of her life, the things she pondered in her heart, the special relationship she had with Jesus. What an example for us! The Mother of our Lord quietly contemplating her love for her son, thanking God for the gift of her life, saying “yes” again to the Father in obedience and trust.

I have had my own issues of trust, and so to think about Mary’s “Yes” opens up in me an important avenue for spiritual growth. To say yes is to lay down my will, to believe, to trust in the will of God, to say “yes” to walking into the unknown, to going not where I want but where I am led by God. This was Mary’s journey, and it is ours as well. Can we close our eyes and say yes to the power of God to lead us, to guide us, to carry us? Can we open our hands, lift up our arms, close our eyes, and say to God, “I am yours?” Can we live out the saying, “Not my will, but yours Lord?” Mary did. Mary did, and marvelous things happened, miraculous things, transforming things. Her life was not the same, nor will ours be. There is a popular Christian song whose refrain is “Yes Lord, yes Lord, Yes, Yes Lord, Amen.” It is a simple, yet profound refrain. Let us seek Mary’s courage, openness, and love. Let us “let go and let God!” It’s Mary’s month. Why not now?

Deacon Steve

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Season Of Change

Dear Parishioners,

This past Holy Week was wonderful! The liturgies were all so beautiful and inspiring thanks to our musicians, lectors, altar servers, extra ordinary ministers of Holy Communion, decorators, sacristans, and you, our parishioners who came out to worship. In spite of the negative press the Church has been getting, our attendance remained steady – 1638 this year and 1637 last year. And again, our parishioners were just as generous as last year. My thanks to everybody.

Summer time is the time of personnel changes. We will be seeing a number of priests retiring and/or receiving new assignments, but thankfully, I will not be among them. However, there will be some changes here among the staff. Our Director of Religious Education, Katie Torrey—who has done such good work here—will be taking a position with the Archdiocese in Missionary Discipleship aka Faith Formation. We will miss her but know the Archdiocese will be fortunate to have her talents and make good use of them. Taking her place will be our current youth minister, Claire Horvath, who having worked with Katie the last 8 years, will bring continuity to the program along with energy and enthusiasm. Taking Claire’s place will be Melissa Boyle who had the Youth Ministry job when I arrived here 10 years ago before taking several high school teaching assignments. She, too, has a great deal of energy, enthusiasm, and experience in working with young people. We are blessed to have her back.

Finally, our organist/choir director, Marianne Gregory, is retiring to spend more time with her family. Having worked with her 9 years at my previous parish as well as the past 4 years here, I will miss her. Taking her place will be J.J. Klapa who brings a wealth of experience as an organist and choir director in several other parishes. I look forward to working with him in the years ahead.

Hopefully, things will settle down now and for the foreseeable future. May the rest of the Easter season be good to you and your families.

Fr. Carl

Friday, April 26, 2019

Love, Love, Love!

Dear Parishioners,

The theme for this Sunday is Divine Mercy. We reflect this day on God’s merciful nature. We know that the God of the universe is an all powerful being. Yet God holds this power in check and shows us at times His mercy. When He could crush us, He rather holds us gently in His hand. How easy it is for us to abuse our power, to push it to the limit and beyond. Yet God with His great power seeks to love us in our failings.

I have a story. First I want to thank all who have sent my wife and I cards and notes after the death of my wife’s sister. Thank you all. But let me point to God’s mercy in this. Laura was wracked with cancer and in her last days was on a morphine drip. She was in and out of consciousness and was at first agitated at this, her last, hospital stay. With all but one of her 8 siblings and others around her, she awoke and spoke to her stepdaughter of what Grandma Lena, long deceased, said about improving baking a cake. This was the first taste of something extraordinary going on. At a later time, she voiced how beautiful heaven was with “Wow!” Finally, after waiting for her brother to arrive, she spoke calmly of seeing the face of God and Him saying to her, “Love, love, love!” She passed away shortly afterward.

I submit to you that this is the mercy of God in action. God came to this dying woman and consoled her with visions of His heaven and spoke directly to her. He also gave a strong and beautiful message to her grieving family, that she would be ok and so would they.

This is the mercy of God.
Deacon Steve

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Dear Parishioners,

“We need a little Christmas” is the title of a popular song in December leading up to the days of Our Lord’s birth. The days leading up to Christmas had been getting darker and darker, so it seemed right to yearn for some brightness in our lives.

As we trudged through Lent with our penitential practices, we have come from the dark days of winter into a brighter season of the year. Still, we need the brilliance of Easter to bring us into the light of Christ to lift up our hearts and spirits to experience what the resurrection bodes for us. For the world 2,000 years ago, it was the proof that Jesus conquered sin, death, and evil by obeying his Father’s will.

For us today, it is the sign that God will be with us in our struggles through life and that our faithfulness in their midst will lead us to share in the resurrection of our Lord.

Jesus Christ has risen—Alleluia!
So too shall we—Alleluia! 

Fr. Carl

Friday, April 12, 2019

The One Guarantee In Life

Dear Parishioners,

Back in late February, it seemed as though Lent would never begin. Now it is hard to believe that it is almost ended. We are headed down the home stretch as we celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend and launch into Holy Week. Palm (Passion) Sunday is a stark reminder of how life can change very, very quickly. Jesus enters Jerusalem as a hero to the acclaim and adulation of hundreds of people. But only a few days later these same people will turn on him and cry out for his death. But this wasn’t to be a normal form of execution but the cruelest most humiliating form known to man - crucifixion.

It is a reminder that bad things can happen to us even tragic events. There are no guaranties in life except for one. If we are faithful to God, he will raise us up after death. That’s what happened to Jesus and what is in store for us. If we put our trust in worldly treasures and success, we will ultimately find disappointment, but if we trust God, we will be happy now and forever.

Fr. Carl

Friday, April 5, 2019

Our National Pastime: Rush To Judgement

Dear Parishioners,

Before I start my note to you– let me thank Atlantic Maintenance Group for the work they did on our grounds. Mary’s Garden looks wonderful as does all the rest of our landscaping. These generous folks donated a whole day of work to beautifying our campus—and we want them to know how much we appreciate it! As I write this, I am excited about attending opening day for the Baltimore Orioles. It’s something I last did over 60 years ago. Hopefully the Orioles will win and take another series from the Yankees.

Baseball, a game I used to play and still enjoy watching, used to be our national pastime. Years ago when TV coverage was rather limited, we would listen to the radio to the voices of Bailey Goss or Chuck Thompson in the living room, kitchen, the porch, or sometimes the garage, especially if there was a refrigerator with cold beverages.

Alas, no longer is baseball our national pastime. It has been replaced by a movement called “rush to judgement.” You see it all the time. There was the charge against Duke’s lacrosse team several years ago; it turned out to be false. There were charges against Justice Kavenaugh, but there was no proof, only an accusation. Recently, there was the Covington Catholic High School and Native American interaction where a student and the school were pictured as insulting to Native Americans. Additional videos showed the student and the school to be innocent.

Where will it all end? Perhaps Jesus has some guidance for us. In the Gospel (John 8:1-11), the woman was guilty of adultery; she was caught in the act, and there was no way for her to deny her sin. The Pharisees had already judged her and wanted Jesus to do the same. However, our Lord was not so quick. The Pharisees had to ask him twice before he answered and put them in their place. While we humans rush to judgement, God takes his time; He is patient, kind, merciful, and “slow to anger.” Jesus does not, however, let the woman off the hook. While he does not condemn her, he tells her to sin no more. How relieved that woman must have felt. It’s the same relief I feel whenever I meet Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance. You can have the same experience, too, in the sacrament the next time you go. And you should go soon.

Fr. Carl

Friday, March 29, 2019

Share Your Suffering

Dear Parishioners,

In the season of Lent, we are to give our lives over to penance, almsgiving and charity.

My wife just returned from visiting her ill sister, Laura, who is suffering from cancer. She spent some time sitting with her. According to Fr. Peter John Cameron who spoke at the recent Catholic Men’s Fellowship Conference, being present to suffering is the first step, and indeed a charitable step, in dealing with it. It is hard to sit with suffering for we feel so powerless, but it is most valuable for us and the person suffering. Second, we must share that suffering by not being silent about it. We should speak what many would like to hide or ignore. Not to seek pity but to acknowledge it, to put it into words. Finally, Father Cameron says we need to share the suffering with Christ which gives it meaning. This is the ultimate decision and perhaps the hardest.  

We should give it over to Christ for he knows what suffering is about. He was incarnate and experienced the pain that resulted from the torment of his human flesh. He carried that pain and suffering and on the cross forgave his tormentors. His attitude perfects suffering and makes it meaningful. I am reminded how we watched as St. Pope John Paul II suffered to his death. He allowed us to bear witness to it. This Lent as we go about our Lenten rituals and devotions, let us pray for all who are suffering. Let us sit if we can with them and acknowledge their pain so that it may bring about greater meaning. Let us give it over to Christ who loves us and wishes to give us eternal life.

Happy Lent,
Deacon Steve

Friday, March 22, 2019

St. Patrick Bazaar… a Rousing Success!

Dear Parishioners,

If you missed the St. Patrick Bazaar held in our school Friday a week ago, you missed out on a great time. In the morning, the children joyfully participated in many games and won more than a few prizes as they indulged in cotton candy and popcorn. The afternoon and evening brought out our teens and adults as they socialized, fed on the excellent food from the kitchen, and enjoyed a glass or two in the adult beverage category. I even got involved in spinning the wheel at the “Fun in the Sun” booth.

As the afternoon turned to evening, Fr. Steve Hook, the pastor of Our Lady of the Chesapeake joined me for dinner and a tour of our activities. I think he was impressed, especially after he won a prize at the whiskey wheel—a prize he won’t be able to appreciate until Lent is ended. While it was gratifying to see young and old enjoying themselves and spending money to benefit the school, it was even more so to see our teachers, school staff, parents of current and former students, pitching in their talents in support.

Even more amazing was the clean-up effort afterwards. Volunteers started as soon as the bazaar ended. They worked late Friday evening and started early Saturday morning until finished. When I went in Sunday, I couldn’t believe that the bazaar had ever taken place. The floors were immaculate and the tables set up for lunch. Thanks, many thanks to all who worked so hard. It was a rousing success!

May God bless you all.
Fr. Carl

Friday, March 15, 2019

Things To Give Up During Lent

Dear Parishioners,

A friend of ours sent this to my wife. I thought I would share it. We often look for things to give up during Lent. Here are some ideas that I think everyone can use to better themselves during this time of penance, almsgiving, and charity.

Do you want to fast this Lent?
Here are words of Pope Francis…

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with patience.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

Happy Lent!
Deacon Steve

Friday, March 8, 2019

Sacrificial Giving

Dear Parishioners,

Ritual offerings play a role in all the religions of the world. It has been that way from the beginning. However, for Israel it had a very different meaning. For Israel, it was a profession of faith of what God has done for God’s people (Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13). Basically, offerings were an acknowledgment that everything we have, everything we are, is a gift from God. That was so different from the other religions. In them, offerings were a way of approaching a god or goddess to receive benefits which it alone kept in secret. In short, it was a contract for services to be provided at a later date or simply a bribe. In Israel, the meaning behind the offering is reversed; it is done as a sign or gesture of thanksgiving. It is an admission that everything comes from God, and without God we would have nothing. For Israel, it was away to remember and give thanks as the people gave back to God in sacrifice.

It should be that way for us as well. But all too often, we think of our financial offering to God at Mass as just one more obligation in a life full of obligations and bills. Actually, it’s an opportunity to show God—in a sacrificial way—our love and gratitude for all He has done in the past and will do in the future. After all, don’t we say at the Presentation and the Preparation of the Gifts: “Blessed are you Lord God of all creation for through your goodness we have received the bread/the wine we offer you…”?

Fr. Carl

Friday, March 1, 2019

Leading Others

Dear Parishioners,

“Do as I say and not as I do.” 

Sometimes we hear people in leadership roles say this to those they are leading. It might be said by a parent to a child when the young person points out the inconsistency between the parent’s lifestyle and correction of the child’s behavior.

We know that kind of leadership and teaching doesn’t work. The best kind of leadership and teaching is by example. Jesus makes this point in this week’s Gospel when he says, “No disciple is superior to the teacher, but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” (Lk 6:39-45)

We have had the good fortune to have Jesus as our teacher. He has shown us the way—leading a life of humility, obedience, and prayer along with detachment from power, pleasure, money, and material possessions. May God give us the grace to be good disciples so that we can lead others to Jesus.

Fr. Carl

Friday, February 22, 2019

Courageous and Authentic Shepherds

Dear Parishioners,

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

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

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

Deacon Steve

Friday, February 15, 2019

Counting Your Blessings

Dear Parishioners,

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

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

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

Fr. Carl

Friday, February 8, 2019

Thank God For Life

Dear Parishioners,

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

Deacon Steve

Friday, February 1, 2019

Get More Out Of Mass

Dear Parishioners,

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

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

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

Fr. Carl

Friday, January 25, 2019

Life Is A Gift

Dear Parishioners,

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

Deacon Steve

Friday, January 18, 2019

Don’t You Need That?

Dear Parishioners,

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

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

Deacon Steve

Friday, January 11, 2019

The “Food Place”

Dear Parishioners,

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

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

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

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

Deacon Steve

Friday, January 4, 2019

Nobody Out Gives God!

Dear Parishioners,

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas reconnecting with family and friends. I also hope you received some nice gifts as well.

However, we are still in the Christmas season for another week, and it is still a good time to offer gifts as we celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord when the three kings came to worship Jesus and bring him gifts (Mt 2:1-12). They were not cheap gifts but generous and expensive—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. As we begin a new year, we might ask ourselves what gifts we can bring to the Lord today and throughout the year. What do we truly value, and how can we generously share it with God?

The most valuable possession is our time. Once we use it, we lose it. So how about resolving to spend more time with God in prayer and reading the bible? And certainly Jesus, who came to serve, appreciates our gift of serving others through the parish or volunteering in the wider community. Finally, he has a great affection for the poor and the needy, so he is gratified when we share some of our treasure with them.

Our God gave us the best gift ever in Jesus, and no matter what we give, we can never repay God. Yet the more we give to God, the more he gives to us in this world and in the world to come. Nobody out gives God!

Father Carl