April 14, 20219 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Soon the array of colors will fill our homes as we celebrate Easter – – – My prayer is that you will find those things that bless and delight your spirit with the Easter Joy of Christ’s Victory over Death!
Did you know the Color of the Easter Eggs is meant to be offered to specific individuals?

Yellow represents YOUTH; eggs given to Young Children
Green represents VITALITY; eggs given to Students
Red represents PASSION; eggs to share among Boyfriends and Girlfriends
Blue represents HEALTH; given to Parents and Godparents
Violet represents WISDOM; eggs given to the Single People
Black represents REMBRANCE; eggs that are given to a Priest
Brown represents ROMANCE; eggs that are given to Engaged Couples

April 14, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

An old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength, it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: “Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross – two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints – brown with rust and stained with red – and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember.
Faithful cross above all others
One and only noble tree.
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit your like may be.
Gracious wood and gracious nails,
Gracious weight on you impaled.

April 7, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

In our Lenten Journey we are invited to celebrate the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Leave the Light On For You! will occur again next Wednesday, April 10th, at each of our parishes. Father Jerry will be at Mary, Mother, Father Pat will be at Our lady of the Valley, and Fr. Kevin will be at St. Damien — 6 to 9pm.

Consider meditating on the Beatitude

“Blessed are the clean of heart for they will see God.”

Think about the kind person you are? Are you able to use the eyes of your mind to see and the ears of your heart to hear? Lent is that wonder time to answer these questions!
It is like this. Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. They get to know things that are different from each other. They distinguish light and darkness, black and white, ugliness and beauty, elegance and inelegance, proportion, and lack of proportion, excess and defect. The same is true of the sounds we hear; high or low or pleasant.
So it is with the ears of our heart and the eyes of our mind in their capacity to hear or see God. God is seen by those who have the capacity to see him, provided that they keep the eyes of their mind open. All have eyes, but some have eyes that are shrouded in darkness, unable to see the light of the sun. Because the blind cannot see it, it does not follow that the sun does not shine. The blind must trace the cause back to themselves and their eyes. In the same way, you have eyes in your mind that are shrouded in darkness because of your sins and evil deed.
But if you will, you can be healed. Hand yourself over to the doctor, and he will open the eyes of your mind and heart. Who is to be the doctor? It is God, who heals and gives life through his Word and Wisdom. Through his Word and Wisdom he created the universe, for by his Word the heavens were established, and by his spirit all their arrangements. His wisdom is supreme. God, by Wisdom founded the earth, by understanding arranged the heavens, and by knowledge the depths broke forth and the clouds poured out the dew.

Come find the Love and Mercy of God in this Sacrament!

April 7, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

When we carry our cross each day, sometimes it seems that we are stronger one day and weaker the next. One day we can be brave and move forward; the next, we are in despair and cannot move.
Think about our Lord’s three falls while carrying His cross. He could have just given up on the way. Why did He keep going? He had just been beaten to an inch of His life. A crown of thorns was placed on His head, digging into the flesh. There was a heavy loss of blood. He even asked the Father to take His cup away from Him.
But He kept going. Despite the pain, the loss of blood, etc., He kept getting up and moving forward. Nothing, not even knowing that things were going to get worse, would keep Him from moving on towards His death, a death that would save the world. It was His will, His determination that kept Him going, moving forward to that salvific event.
How about you and me? There have been, or will be, times that we want to just give up. We say “I can’t go on.” We get up, however, take a step, and move forward. Why? It is like I said in an earlier article, we offer it up to God. We give our pain and suffering, so that others may not suffer. Knowing that some good will come out of things, we move on.
It says in Everyone’s Way of the Cross: “Know this, my other self, your body may be broken, but no force on earth, and none in hell, can take away your will. Your will is yours.” We get up because we have to. We have a job to do, and we need to get it done.
Remember, moreover, that we aren’t alone. Because He, Himself, went through His Passion, He is there for us when we need Him, giving us strength to keep moving.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

April 7, 2019 – Reflections by Deacon Al

New Pastoral Associate position: In this new position, as I’m meeting different people on this new journey, one of my hopes and dreams will be to make the word “Pastoral” a commonly used word in the Parish(s).
Last week I spoke about, wide eyed views of opportunities, being open to create, fine-tune or rejuvenate in our Parish(s). Pastoral care belongs to all within the parish, not just the Clergy or Pastoral Associate, but all of us working together as a family in care of each other.

In beginning this new position, I’d like to meet with the different organizations at each of our sites. This is where we will begin to build upon our visions for the future together. I’d like to hear from the leaders/officers of these organizations.
We will need to meet as groups coming together to build teams of Pastoral people continuing the work of Christ in our little part of the diocese.
We can build teams to ensure no one has the feeling of loneliness, depression or be without a support system throughout our parishes.
Please Pray, Dream and Consider becoming a part of this “New way of Ministry thinking” for the Mid Mon Valley. You can reach me at deaconal611@gmail.com or my office number 724-258-7742 ext 13. If you leave a voicemail, you will get a call back.
God’s Blessings, Deacon Al

March 31, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent also called Laetere Sunday. The fourth, or middle Sunday of Lent, so called from the first words of the Introit at mass, “Laetare Jerusalem” – Rejoice, O Jerusalem”. Other names applied to it were Refreshment Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves, from a miracle recorded in the Gospel; Mid-lent, micareme, or mediana; and Mothering Sunday, in allusion to the Epistle, which
indicates our right to be called the sons of God as the source of all our joy .
The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays is thus emphasized in the joys of this Lent, yet the
rejoicing is still mingled with a certain amount of sadness.
The Rose vestment is full of peace and Hope, with the strength and clear awareness of the presence of God and the gift of help through forgiveness. Similarly there is that Forgiveness and Peace found in the Gospel parable of the Prodigal Son. Lent invites us to follow the lives of the Father who asks his son to be welcoming, and finding ways to celebrate the second chance as the two sons did. Be open to find ways to celebrate the changes through moments of reconciliation with one another, especially through the sacrament of
Reconciliation.

March 31, 2019 – Reflections by Deacon Al

OK, we have a New Pastoral Associate, NOW WHAT? In this new position, the Job is just what the title says: Assisting the Pastor (Administrator) with the Pastoral care of those in the parish.
This leaves a wide eyed view of opportunities that are open to create, fine-tune or rejuvenate in our Parish(s). Pastoral care is not just for the infirmed or those in bereavement, but each and every one of us needs a shoulder to lean on, has a voice that needs to be heard, or someone to just sit and listen.
With that in mind, in beginning this new position I’d like you to think about some ideas Father Kevin, Father Pat, Father Jerry and myself have been thinking, praying and talking about. We/ I are open to hearing from you, and would like to take this opportunity for our new parish to be involved in the care and support of one another.
We will need to build teams for Hospital Ministry, Bereavement Ministry. Maybe a Dinner Ministry (this is a good one) for those just home from the hospital or after the celebration of life has ended, and the person is now alone in a quiet home.
We can build teams of support groups, teams that work as a phone ministry, supporting one another and growing together through prayer, reaching out and following up, or a confidential support line for those in need or requesting help or assistance.
Please Pray, Dream and Consider becoming a part of this “New Ministry thinking” for the Mid Mon Valley. I’m reaching out to all our seasoned volunteers, but also to those of you who have always wanted to be involved, but haven’t been asked, maybe you’re too shy, or think you just don’t have enough time to commit.
You can reach me at deaconal611@gmail.com or my office number 724-258-7742 ext 13. If you leave a voicemail, you will get a call back.

March 31, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

How heavy can our crosses be? As we have been reflecting on how we carry our cross, it sometimes feels that we can, like the Lord, be a super hero. We can do anything – at least on paper. We say confidently sometimes, and sometimes proudly, that we can manage everything.
How often, however, is the opposite true? We sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. We bravely try and try, but some days we fail. We may not go into despair, but we come close. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death Remain here and keep watch with me (Matthew 26).” We even ask the Lord to take away the burden. He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
In carrying our cross we can always use some help. Jesus had Simon of Cyrene. We may have family or friends. Simon of Cyrene did not understand at first what he was doing. He thought that he was just being “volunteered” for the job. It was later that he understood the true meaning. The same might be for our family or friends. Only later do we understand the privilege we were given.
Although Jesus had to bear the full weight of the cross, just like us, He was never alone. The angel ministered to him in the Garden. Simon helped Him. Mary and John were there to comfort Him while He hung on the cross. In our lives we never have to be totally alone. People are there to help.
Allow them.
Lord, make me realize that every time I wipe a dish, pick up an object off the floor, assist a child in some small task, or give another preference in traffic or the store; each time I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the ignorant, or lend my hand in any way – it matters not to whom – my name is Simon. And the kind-ness I extend to them I really give to you (Everyone’s Way of the Cross).

March 24, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Lent is a great opportunity for family and friends to share their fears of Reconciliation, Confession or Penance. A few weeks ago Father Pat shared a series inviting each of us to be open to this amazing sacrament. John the Baptist first appeared in the desert of Judea with this message — Repent, Prepare the way of the Lord! Later, when Jesus began his ministry, he led with this message “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent is a powerful word. But what does it mean for you and me, here and now, this Lent – almost two thousand years later? It means the same as it did to the people walking around the dusty pathways in their san-dals, trying to inch closer to Jesus as he passed through their town or village. Repent means “to turn back to God” if we need to turn back to God this Lenten Season we also need to turn away from whatever led us away from God and keeps us away. It may be that certain people have led you to stray from God — perhaps possessions have distracted you from your true and authentic self, or maybe pleasure has seduced you into walking a wayward path. However you have been distracted, it is important to realize that you cannot journey to a new place, and at the same time stay where you are. Walking with God demands that we bring order to our lives and put first things first. Sometimes it is just as important to know what you are journeying away from, as it is to know what we are journeying towards.
I invite you to consider that within the Sacrament of Reconciliation you have the opportunity to talk with the priest about your distractions and how you can turn back to God and renew your relationship with him this
Lent!

March 24, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

When Jesus was arrested and stood before Pilate and the people of Jerusalem, what do you imagine what was going through His head? For a while He kept telling people that He was going to suffer and die, and now the time had come. Was He scared? Was He triumphant? Was He confident?
How about us, when we carry our crosses. The cross in your pocket – is it heavy? Is it a burden? Is it necessary? In the Scriptural version of the Stations of the Cross that we pray, the verse for the Stabat Mater shares with us: Now the Cross as Jesus bore it, Has become for us who share it, The jeweled Cross of Victory.
Is your cross a burden? Do you carry it with dignity, or do you whine or complain as you carry it? Do you make sure others know that you are suffering? Sometimes we make others suffer when we are suffering — “If I’m unhappy, I will make sure that others around me are unhappy too!”
So we go back to Jesus saying nothing. He was quiet so as to carry the full burden of our sins. And, so, we too might know people who act the same. We might say after a person has died: “I never knew how much pain she was in….” There is a difference between lamenting before the Lord and whining before the Lord. The former is healthy, the later is not. Lamenting is not complaining; it is a recognition that the Lord is there in our needs, and that He takes care of us, even when we do not understand. Whining is wallowing in self-pity. Once again, by whining we are not carrying the cross, we are trying to get rid of it.
Lamenting before the Lord means that we acknowledge our pain, we ask why, and we ask for help. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” (Psalm 130:1) We are not asking God to take anything away. We are just venting frustrations and pains, knowing that He will hear and answer. In confusion, loss, and turmoil, we are asking for stability and balance and His presence in our lives.
“My life is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is…The thought of my wretched homelessness is worm-wood and poison; Remembering it over and over, my soul is downcast. But this I will call to mind; therefore, I will hope: The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness! (Book of Lamentations, chapter 3)