December 9, 2018 – Liturgical Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Since October 15, 2018, when Fr. Kevin, Deacon Al, and myself were assigned to the Mid Mon Valley churches, there has been a major shift in how we worship as a Church Family. First of all, there are, for at least two parishes, 3 new clergy members. Second, the Mass schedule has dramatically changed. We are now asked to Offer Mass at 3 different places within a new time schedule. If you think YOUR heads are spinning, think about what I, Fr. Kevin, and Deacon Al are going through; we are constantly using Google Calendar just to remind us where we need to be each day and when. It is daunting, to say the least. Over the next few articles I am going to ask you the reader to think about your Faith and how Worship is integral to everything we as Church do.
One of the most basic points of information to know about the Liturgy and Mass is that of the Language of the Church. I am not talking about the use of English, Spanish, or Latin. What I am talking about is more fundamental and some-thing that is not really thought about, mostly be-cause it is just done. That Language is our use of certain words, gestures, postures, and rituals. Why is it that when we visit a non-Roman Service, for example, a Protestant Service, we can become disconnected and lost. Why is it when Protestants visit a Catholic Mass, they are just as befuddled? It is because Catholics and Non-Catholics use different Language to express Worship. Remember, we are not talking about English, Spanish, or any other Cultural Language. We are talking about Rituals, Procedures, and the like.
Here are the upcoming pieces of information I intend to share: What do the rituals at Mass do? When we make the Sign of the Cross, for example, what are we trying to say by that action? When the priest imposes his hands over the bread and wine, what is supposed to be happening? When you visit a non-Catholic Service, what makes you disconnected? What are their actions and phrases trying to get across?

December 2, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is the season encompassing the four Sundays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).
One devotion for Advent includes the Advent wreath, a visual to remind us of God’s unending love seen in the circle/round wreath, the evergreens showing us the ongoing of life, the gradual brightness of the candles as we come to the shortest day of the year and look forward to the Bright Light of that Star otherwise known as the Light of World—Jesus Christ! The scriptures each week will offer us personal reflections which can assist us to welcome the Christ Child, the reason for the Season!
Within the First Week of Advent we can pray,
“Lord Help me to make time for you in these busy days of December!”
Within the Second Week of Advent we simply pray,
“Lord open my eyes to see you in the many that we may encounter along our journeys and busy activities of the season!”
Within the Third Week of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) we pray,
“Lord help me hold onto my joys, especially when I face the difficult challenges of life, and the many pressures I may feel in this time of preparation for your birth!”
Within the Fourth Week of Advent, although very short, we still are invited to pray,
“Lord Jesus thank you for your love. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for doing your Father’s will.”

November 25, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

During this Thanksgiving weekend we are invited to celebrate our Feast Day that units us with Jesus Christ. The Feast of Christ the King invites us to gain inspiration and understanding through the example of Jesus who is a King which unlike any other.
Many times the images of Kings come out of our small experiences whether it is from the movies or television shows or from British Royal Family. The roles and lifestyles of the King is not the experience and image of what Jesus offers us.
Ponder and reflect how Jesus Christ the King who will celebrate His birth is a simple Stable with animals and how throughout the life of Jesus emulate for us how we can live out our daily lives. He is the one who seeks to bring peace into the midst of conflict. His wisdom mercy and justice are a pattern for our own deliberations and actions. He is willing to offer us life by laying down his life for us on the cross.
Jesus teaches us by his example that true kingship is not about glamour power or wealth. It is about service as our King who is an example and model for our daily living. Jesus shows us by this life that we are called to humble loving service. Our King shows us that we are to be merciful, just and truthful, who is willing to bring God’s peace to challenging situations and our daily lives. Like Christ our King we are called to lay down our live so that others may live.
Today is also our feast day as this is the kind of kingship into which each of us has been baptized. This sort of kingship offers each of us as vision of a new heaven and new earth. It also demonstrates that we life Jesus must be willing to serve all people, willing to stand in tatters before the powers of the world.
For this simple reason the Church invites us to spend quiet time with the true presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Do not forget that at Our Lady of Valley we will offer adoration of the Blessed Sacrament prior to the Sunday Evening Mass. Come to pray and listen to what our King has to offer us in our journeys of life from 4:00 to 5:15 Sunday, November 25th.

November 18, 2018 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Very quickly we will see many things changing as the end of a calendar year comes quickly. We are invited to reflect how moving from our experiences and changes of 2018 we can prepare ourselves to the new and mysterious events of what 2019 may bring. Similarly the Catholic Church invites us to draw near to the end of another liturgical year. As we listen to the readings of today’s Liturgy, when during the time of the Babylonian Exile, the prophet Daniel speaks of salvation and damnation. In a time of war and enslavement, Daniel’s vision speaks of the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness—a feat we know to be accomplished in and by Jesus Christ both on earth and in the heaven. Similarly, Jesus in Mark’s Gospel refers to the end of time when the Son of Man comes in the clouds with great power and Glory. Of that day or hour no one knows, as Jesus says. The Letter to the Hebrews captures these mysteries perfectly reminding us how in the Mass we see memorialized the one offering by which Christ has made perfect those who are being consecrated. As we prepare to celebrate the end of the liturgical year with the feast of Christ the King and then the beginning of a new one with the coming of Advent, let us be mindful that heaven and earth will pass away but the saving words of the Lord will endure forever.
Within this week and the weeks approaching may we take the time to say THANKS to God and those He has sent into our lives? During the festivities of this Thanksgiving week, let us reflect on the chance our forefathers encountered to come to America, the many new changes our grandparents made to offer and create a vibrant opportunity for each of us to enjoy today. Similarly I thank those who have welcomed Father Pat, Deacon Al and I as we also begin to offer a new vibrant opportunity to become a unified community of faith filled brothers and sisters. Our desires are to pray, celebrate and create lifelong a lasting relationship with God and each other.
We pray that your travels and opportunity to be with family and friends this Holiday brings laughter ,love and loads of good health!

November 11, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

As we reflect on the many men and women who have and are serving our country to protect and provide safety, I wanted to invite us to share information on the power of the Prayer to Saint Michael.
Facing the many challenges in our world and Church there are many unanswered questions, frustration, fear and anger. We can worry…..We can Blame…..We can Question…..We can become despondent at the many issues with the church to the many acts of senseless violence. The fact is that we have lost our overall focus to become as Holy as the Heavenly Father is Holy. November began with the feast of All Saints when we were asked to reflect on how each of us, like all of the Saints, can find the Mercy, Love and Grace from that Loving Father! Let us all become Childlike and return to that simple purity of heart focusing on the love of Christ and neighbor!
So can a prayer be inspired by a battle? Pope Leo XIII wrote the Saint Michael prayer in 1884 after supposedly seeing a frightening vision: evil spirits, trying to fulfill Satan’s boast to destroy our Lord’s church within a century, were engaging in fierce attacks against it. Although the Pontiff also saw Saint Michael casting Satan (also known as the devil) and his de-mons back in the Hell in his vision, he was so horrified by what he had seen he felt compelled to help de-fend our faith in this struggle.
In the Saint Michael prayer he throws down the gaunt-let to the “the Father of lies” as Jesus calls the devil in John’s Gospel (8:44), by enlisting the help of a very special Archangel:
Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Divine Power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Prayer of Saint Michael at the Mass—In 1886 Pope Leo XIII decreed that this prayer to Saint Michael be said at the end of mass throughout the universal Church, however in 1970 this changed because of the new rite of the Mass. Our beloved Saint John Paul II in 1994 urged Catholic to recite this prayer to Saint Michael again. So I am asking that as we continue to work, listen and build our communities of the Mid Mon Valley that we engage the intercession of Saint Michael in our Liturgy.

November 4, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

November is a month of THANKS!
Thank you the Veterans who have served and those who are actively serving our country. Your time away from your families can never be returned and the many things you witness will never be forgotten. I pray you know of our gratitude and continual prayers for your and your families.
Within this month, we are invited to give thanks to God for the many people who come into our lives and offer us a glimpse of the image and likeness of God. May we continue to share the stories of those God has called to be with him- – – to keep memories close to us and future generations and also to pray that their souls may be closer to God in Heaven.
Looking ahead may we begin to think of showing our gratitude for what and how we are blessed by giving to those in need? The power of prayer can be amazing to those whose lives have been changed because of natural disasters, acts of senseless violence or simple accidents, diseases, addiction, unemployment and those who struggle because they are underemployed.
So let us all continue to give thanks for the opportunity to encounter God through one another, through those God sends to us and share in building up the Body of Christ in the Mid Mon Valley Parishes.

October 28, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

Prayer can unite us! May we all continue to pray with and for one another in our parish communities of Mid Mon Valley!
Father Pat and I truly appreciated the warm and supportive presence from all of you in this great new Community! Without prayer our vocations would not be as strong! So please let us continue to pray! Prayers are also needed for the continual strength as Deacon Al regains his mobility through therapy and especially for healing for Father Jerry.
I invite you to ponder what Saint John Paul II shared about the Eucharist:
“There can be no Eucharist without the priesthood and there can be no priesthood without the Eucharist.”
Sharing our faith together around the altar of God is very important, but as you have heard the sharing of our Scriptures the under-standing of our faith is also very critical. As we all continue to understand the schedule at the various different sites, we appreciate you input so that as a whole we can evaluate the interim mass schedule.
A sincere note of thanks for the many people who have volunteered in the ongoing ministries as Lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, Ushers, Organists, Cantors, Choir and Catechists! As I asked many of the students, as we all prepare to celebrate with all of the Saints on their Feast; “Which Saint will you dress up as and what do you think Father Pat will be dressed as on November 1st?”
A simple reminder of the importance of your parish envelope—Please use it at what-ever parish site you be attending because the envelopes will be delivered to the perspective Parish.

October 21, 2018 – Thoughts from Rev Kev

How can we make these changes easy? PRAY!!
CONFESSION offers grace to under-stand
HEAR, listen and be open to one an-other
ATTITUDE of gratitude for what we have
NEVER doubt the power of God
GIVE everything a chance before judging
EXERCISE with one another our prayer and faith in God
Recently, as I sat in the confessional, I reflected on the opportunity we are given like the disciples. By chance, we are offered choices. By change, we can make adjustments as needed. By caring for one another, we are then accepting that chalice which Jesus is offering to His Disciples.
I pray that we all can face these changes with openness and try to work together, with grace, peace and hope to build a stronger unity as a community here in the Mid Mon Valley.
Confessions are available:
By appointment with Father Kevin and Father Pat
Monday evenings at Mary, Mother of the Church during Holy Hour
Wednesday nights at Saint Damien’s during Holy Hour, prior to Mass
and
On First Fridays at Our Lady of Valley

October 14, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

On April 28, 2018, we announced the new groupings of all of the parishes in the Diocese, saying that the implementation date would be October 15, 2018, six months away! That time has passed so quickly and here we are today facing implementation of ON MISSION FOR THE CHURCH ALIVE!. That means that in many cases priests around the Diocese will be moving on to shepherd new flocks. I am one of them (unfortunately!) Over the forty-nine years of my priesthood, there have been a number of times to experience this phenomenon. Never has it been easy and never has it been something I looked forward to. It is always a time when I have to change my routine, make efforts to meet new parishioners and make new beginnings, and say goodbye to old routines and people.
It is also a time to leave a part of oneself behind and to put distance between new friendships gained and the comfort of working with wonderful people. Though I am only going to about twenty minutes away, the daily contact and working with people who know your likes and dislikes, your idiosyncrasies and foibles is interrupted and you have to let new people begin to learn these things as I have to get to know them in others. But change should always help us grow and to be better persons.
As I will not get to speak personally with every parishioner, I take this opportunity to thank the entire parish for the joy that you have been to me over the years. We have not been able to accomplish all the projects and hopes that I had for St. Damien’s, but circumstances and time have not allowed for this to happen. Hopefully many of these things will be accomplished by the new pastoral team and the new Parish grouping. I can only offer my thanks to all who have contributed there time, energy, treasures and talents for this parish of St Damien. I will not single out individuals or groups because the page does not allow that to occur and I would definitely forget someone. Just know that I have appreciated and been blessed by so many wonderful people. I hope that you will continue to give of yourselves to the new team and the new grouping so that you can grow this mid-Mon Valley parish and grow the church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! And GOD BLESS YOU ALL! Please keep me in your prayers as I will all of you!

October 7, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

“Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God l like a child will not enter it” Jesus says some strange things, doesn’t he? I’m sure some of his followers were puzzled by this statement from him. And while the words “kingdom of God” would have gotten them wondering to some ex-tent, the part about a child entering the kingdom would probably have made little sense to them. As you know, Jesus talked about the “kingdom” a lot. Whatever this “kingdom” was, it clearly was pretty important to Jesus—and clearly important that his followers understand what it was all about. And there is NOT one simple, short answer as to what the “kingdom” really means. In one sense, we, the Christian community two thousand years later (especially in the light of Jesus death and resurrection), have sort of “titled” the focus of the “kingdom” toward the afterlife—that after our earthly lives have ended, we hope to live forever with God in the eternal kingdom—heaven.
And while that is certainly NOT a “wrong” way to look at it Jesus seems to use the word “kingdom” to describe something NOT in the future, but in the present. In other words, God’s kingdom is NOT something we have to wait for, it is right here in our midst. And so , Jesus seems to be telling his followers that there is this beautiful thing called the “kingdom” that he wants them to embrace and share in, a kingdom which can only be experienced when our hearts become like that of a little child.
Children have an ability to trust. Do we trust God? Do we trust in the inherent goodness of others? Children have the ability to be hopeful;. Do we do the same? Do we truly believe that tomorrow can be better, that the world can be better—that we can be better?
Children have the ability to live in the present. Do we spend our time absolutely dreading the future? Or do we try to make today the best day it can be?
Children have few boundaries. Do we keep people at a distance? Do we put up walls rather than tear them down? It just takes the heart of a child. May each of us strive to reclaim the very best of our-selves that might have gotten lost along the way!