February 17, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Life today can get complicated. There are so many ways to get caught up in a variety of concerns every day. We all have people to see, places to go, commitments to keep and things to do. It is easy to lose sight of the meaning of it all. What is it all about? The readings the church gives us today provides the answer, it is all about the choices we make that give meaning to our days. We have received the gift of life from our loving God. Let me use a question that was presented to many of us while learning our religion from the Baltimore Catechism.
Why did God Create us? Answer: God created us to know love and serve God in this life and to be happy with God forever in the next life, this is our life goal!
What a blessing to serve and love God as we simply look around our faith community who gathers weekly together. We may see young and old, those who are single and families, women and men of all sizes who are diverse, yet, we are all here together. May we who come together in our Mid Mon Valley community find ways to be inspired through each others presence to be willing to worship and rededicate ourselves to the gospel. May we continue to try to serve God by serving and helping one another as one parish so that we can keep our Faith Alive!

February 10, 2019 – Liturgical Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Last week we started out by reflecting on God’s joy in creating the world. This week let us look at how God’s love continued to be shared with the world.
So…let’s look at Adam and Eve. When you hear their names, what do you think of? Many people think of the “apple” that caused them to sin. Then, when they think of the “apple,” they think of their expulsion from Eden. The whole account points to God’s punishment for their actions. Adam and Eve’s actions were so grave that they affected all of humanity. That pristine relationship was broken because Adam and Eve thought that they didn’t need God. If they had the knowledge of the gods, like the Serpent claimed, they would not need the Lord. With their expulsion, Adam and Eve, along with the rest of humanity would suffer the pains of life. Because of their actions, the union that God planned from the very beginning would be flawed. There would always be an obstacle because of the sin. Jesus would pray later in His Ministry that all might be one, just as We are one. His Death and Resurrection will bring that reality about (but I am ahead of myself).

We have a separation. We have an expulsion. We have a punishment. However, the actions of our original parents did not stop God’s love for the world. He would continue to be there throughout the ages. What if the expulsion from the Garden was not actually a punishment, but a blessing? Not discounting the theme of punishment altogether, what if God wanted to teach humanity how to have a true relationship? The act of expulsion could be seen as an act of love.

In the Garden Adam and Eve would not really understand or know how to have a relationship of any kind, let alone an inti-mate relationship with God. They physically could not have that type of relationship that God intended. They had all their needs met. They didn’t have to think about anything, because they had all the resources that God could give. They didn’t have to think. They didn’t have to work. It was all there for them. They had the resources but not the knowledge to use them. By expelling them from the Garden, maybe God was making them learn how to have a relationship with people. By living through life’s experiences, they would learn how to listen to, work with, and live with other people. By forcing them to live Life, they would learn how to have a relationship with the Lord.

I would like to close by asking everyone to think how we learn about life. At first, we imitate others when we don’t know what to do. By looking at other people and their personalities, we compare and contrast. If I should say I like carrots and not broccoli, it would be easy to barter, for example, with others, especially if they liked broccoli and not carrots. That relationship is based on a mutual likes or dislikes. At work, in the store, or at other places in life, we look at the people that we have to interact with. We com-pare and contrast them to ourselves. There are people that we like or dislike because of who they are. There are things in common or not in common.

February 10, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

ADVENTURES WITH GOD!
Are you like Peter who doubts their new leader and friend Jesus in the gospel: After he had finished speak-ing, Jesus said to Simon, Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch. Simon said in reply, :Master we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing but at your command I will lower the nets.”
As a community how have you begun to participate in the Mid Mon Valley Parishes? We are in need of your help at our Liturgies. From being a Greeter, greeting people at the door with a friendly smile, a hello and a welcome, here is our Worship Aid for the Mass. Using the gift of your voice and taking on the role as the VOICE OF GOD- – – – each reading comes from the inspired WORD of God! God wants us to hear his thoughts, the Lector helps that happen in the proclamation of the Word of God. Presenting the simple gifts of the Bread and Wine to the Altar- – – We need your help! Please consider how you can help in our adventure to come closer to God! I pray that many of you listen to the Prophet Isaiah who spoke “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? Here I am!’

February 3, 2019 – Liturgical Ruminations by Fr. Pat

As Lent slowly approaches, I thought I would start some reflections regarding the Sacraments – especially Baptism and Reconciliation – which God manifests His love for us.

The Instruction for the Rite of Penance starts out with:

The Father has shown forth his mercy by reconciling the world to himself in Christ and by making peace for all things on earth and in heaven by the blood of Christ on the cross….

Reflect on why the Trinity created the world. In a nutshell, it is a desire to share a deep love. God was by Himself, sharing the love only God can share between the three persons of the Trinity. Moreover, that love was so great that he wanted to share it. That relationship that exists between the individual Persons was meant to include us. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me (John 17:21).”

Think of a young child who receives a desired gift from Santa. Filled overflowing with joy, that child  announces to anyone who would listen: “Look what Santa brought me!” he/she just wants to share the Joy that is felt with anyone who is willing to receive that joy. God, Himself, may have felt the same way in  desiring to share that Joy with the world. However, with the ability to have a true relationship, was created to share in that love that only God can give. What does the old Baltimore Catechism say? “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.”

Although humanity was invited (and is STILL invited) to have a deep relationship with the Lord,  humanity chose otherwise, the result being Original Sin. We broke the original Relationship that God  intended from the very beginning.

However, God, Himself, still strives His joy with us. As we shall see, he has never abandoned us, and He still strives to share Himself with us. In the upcoming articles, we shall see how.

February 3, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

 As our parishes of The Mon Valley continues to work, pray and grow, we would like to pray together this simple description of how we can grow together. 

The Mid Mon Valley Community is composed of people like me. I help make it what it is. It will be  friendly, if I am friendly. Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them. It will do important work, if I work. It will make generous gifts, if I am a generous giver. It will bring people into worship and fellowship, if I invite and bring them. It will be a Communal family of loyalty, of love, of fearlessness and of faith, if I am filled with these same qualities. It will be a parish family with a noble spirit. Therefore, with the help of God, I will  dedicate myself to the task of being all that I want my Parish Community to be. Bless my journey Lord God, that I might build the church through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Reflections by Deacon Al

Owning vs. Renting/Borrowing your Faith
We recently watched a great movie titled Grace Unplugged. The movie is about a Youth/Music Pastor who gives his daughter a guitar for her 16th Birthday. Fast forward, the daughter now in her late Teens decides to leave the Church and pursue a professional music
career.
The daughter has “Success” and becomes a very popular musician/singer. All the while during the movie she keeps relating her former Christian life to her new professional life and meets a strong faith based young man, along with a popular movie actor (Faith vs Worldly desires). The Christian young man sees her struggling and invites her to his parents’ home for a home cooked meal, and hands her a book entitled “Own It”.
Without giving any more of the movie away, the book intrigued me so I ordered it. It is a wonderfully written book on Faith. The book begins talking about owning your Faith vs renting/borrowing and or even faking your Faith.
You see, a lot of us get our Faith and Morals from our upbringings, our parents, grandparents, and so on. Faith that’s passed from one person to another. This isn’t a bad thing, but do you really own it? Others may have different views of faith than you, but their actions may not be your actions.
The question the book really makes you think about is how deep, or how strong is the Faith that you really have? Is the Faith you have something you can say is so deep, so strong in belief that you fully trust in God, handing over your concerns, anxieties, worries all the problems that affect you from living the life you were created for, or do you give them over & continue to worry?
Trust is a very difficult thing these days, Scripture is clear when it says: Trust God with all your heart. When you start trusting man that leads to danger because man can’t save you only Jesus can.
When you put your trust in humans, you will be let down, because humans aren’t perfect. Even good friends can let you down sometimes. In the same way we can
disappoint others as well. Let’s face it, we all fall short of being 100% trustworthy.
The Bible says to love others as yourself, put others before yourself, serve one another, but put your full trust in God.

Liturgical Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Since 1965, people still struggle with the concepts of Worship. In previous articles I tried to explain that our participation in the Mass is not watching a play. It is not just singing or reciting hymns or prayer responses. It is a true participation in the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord. Responses, hymns, etc. are used as language to help bring about in the present age the Graces, etc. that the Lord accomplishes.
I have a question to ask: Would Mass still be a Mass if all the externals were removed? For example, is Mass still a Mass if music were removed? Is Mass still a Mass if the church building were removed? What is it that makes a mass a Mass? What is it that makes a Solemn High mass at St. Paul Cathedral and mass at a family picnic on a card table the same? Those similarities are where we need to concentrate.
People still think of a “true” Mass as “Smells and Bells.” The true and ultimate potential of the Sacrifice of the Mass is still misunderstood. Misinterpreting the roles of everyone present, people still look at Mass as something that is watched; we are made holy by osmosis. The Holiness of the Mass was seen as being in the same room as the priest saying Mass. Actions, like the ringing of bells, are thought to enhance the “mystery” of the ceremony. In reality, the mystery of Mass (synonymous with Sacrament) is the people’s Offering, not just the outward signs. Bells, for example, were used at a time when people pay attention to a ceremony they weren’t actively participating in. When people today say “they like to hear the bells,” it makes me cringe inside, because their misunderstanding is still not where it needs to be.
“It’s not the same” people tell me. “I like the way things were when I was a child. Church felt like Church. I liked the incense and bells.” if worship is only based on feelings, what happens when you don’t feel holy? Is God not present, then? Why is it that people who never grew up with incense and bells still feel that they are at Church? If Church doesn’t feel like Church, what is lacking on your part? Sometimes, people like to think of nostalgia rather than reality. The truth of the matter is that the “good ol’ days” weren’t very good, especially when it comes to worship. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been a change.
What the Church is trying to help people to do is fully focus on what needs to be focused on. There are growing pains. Bells aren’t being used because we want you to focus on where you need to be, rather than being inattentive and not receiving the full benefit of the Mass.

THOUGHTS BY REV KEV

As our Parish Communities of the Mon Valley continue to come together in prayer and our many activities, I would invite us all to spend some time this week in prayer to the Holy Spirit, for guidance, patience and grace.
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.
Our young children celebrate their Catholic faith in your homes, as we share and live out our Catholic Faith (as well as the classrooms of Madonna School) which has been present in our community for 20 years. The
pastoral Council will begin a new journey as a newly Combined pastoral Council, compromised of members of each Parish Family. The Finance Councils will be meeting to assist our parish family to be good stewards of your donations.

Reflections by Deacon Al – January 20, 2019

Contentment
A friend passed along the following article last week, and I’d thought it was a good article to share. To some it’ll be an eye-opener, I know it has been for me, Deacon Al.
The article begins with a farmer who lived on the same farm all of his life. It was a generational farm, a good farm, peaceful and serene . But as the years passed, and the farm began to age, he’d began to
realize more of his time was going into fixing and maintaining than actual farming. Taking care of his animals and his crops seemed to become routine and tiresome. Longing for something better, the farmer contacted a realtor to sell his farm.
The realtor came out and viewed the farm, and they agreed on a selling price. The realtor went back to their office and wrote up a sales flyer. Before
Publishing the flyer she visited the farmer to review. The sales flyer read as follows: large beautiful farm for sale, with healthy animals, modern farm
equipment, along with a well maintained 2 story farmhouse, farm buildings and rolling hills of land as far as the eye can see. A very peaceful setting for those who wish to leave the city living and become their own boss to peaceful country living.
The farmer read the sales flyer and said “Hold
Everything” I’ve been looking for a place like this all my life, and I just didn’t realize I already had it until you put it on papers and opened my eyes….
Like the farmer, you and I may always be
searching for something better, something newer, and something more exciting- we long for something more. We don’t always stop to realize or
remember the very wise and old saying of “Never make the things you want, make you forget the things you have”.
As we begin to welcome in a “New Year”
consider the contentment that you already have in your life, your family, and your home. Trust in God, and remember this article the next time you find yourself wishing for more. The first step to a
contented life is learning to trust. Trust God’s will and plan for you life, you were created with one in mind. Then choose which perspective from there you’ll live your life from.
God’s Blessing on a Contented New Year!

Liturgical Ruminations by Fr. Pat – January 20, 2019

By looking at a Crucifix, we recall by one single thought the Life, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord. By
kneeling, standing, singing, or putting our hands together, we give a message to God. That message communicates more than words could ever do. They are an expression of who we truly are, what that relationship is, and what God truly wants for us.
There is an aspect to Mass that people sometimes
forget. Mass is not something that is watched; it is
something that one actively participates in. Think about it a second. If you are talking with someone, you are not passively watching the conversation; you are knee-deep into it, expressing ideas and the like, sharing your thoughts with another person.
Therefore, at Mass, we are actively participating in a
dialogue with the Lord. We are fully interacting with our God. That is what Rituals, gestures, etc. do. They help us talk WITH God. Many people still have the notion that they go to church and just watch a ceremony (like a play), and that during that ceremony something happens. That notion is far from what is supposed to take place. With the Priest, EVERYBODY offers the Sacrifice and is drawn into the Spirit of God. ALL OF US are invited into the Passion, Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
At Mass we are invited into the whole Easter Event. We do not just hear about it, but are invited, like the
Apostles, into the main event. Jesus brings the Easter Event into the here and now, just for us. It is NOT
something just to watch; it is something to
PARTICIPATE IN. It is like we are just as present around the Table as were the Apostles.
When Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me”, He did not mean just to remember an event; He wanted that Event to be part and parcel of who we are. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians; For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Some things to think about: What do MY actions at Mass mean?
How am I actively participating in the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter Event?
When I recite prayers, sing, kneel, and do what is
required, am I really talking with God , or am I not
participating because my mind is wandering?
Where is the Conversation with God?