October 13, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

P.U.S.H  Pray Until Something Happens

The real question is. What do we do when our prayers are answered? Today, Jesus comments about this, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none, but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God!”

Gratitude is not just a social grace. Gratitude is a habit of the heart. None of us owns our source of existence or the source of all that we need to survive and flourish. All of life is a gift to us. Truly grateful persons acknowledge that they are recipients of countless gifts from others. True gratitude springs from that essential insight. The very word “Gratitude” comes from the same root as the word “Grace”  gift.

The Eucharist is the ultimate act of gratitude thanksgiving for life and salvation in Christ. Gratitude enriches us, it opens us to experience the bounty of God and others. The more we become grateful people, the more will find to be grateful for!

 

October 13, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

      Recently our three parishes had a wonderful opportunity given by Bishop Zubik to submit names for our new-to-be merged Parish. Over 180 names were originally submitted. These names were narrowed down to 10. These 10 were further reduced to three, which were submitted to the Bishop for approval. For our ruminations this week, I would like us to ponder where this practice of giving a name to a church building came from.

    Originally the Agape Meal (what we would later know as Mass) was celebrated in people’s homes. However, with the legalization of Christianity, things began to change. Starting with the Emperor Constantine, buildings were given for Liturgical use. These particular places were considered Sacred spaces. Originally, they were built over the tombs of various Martyrs – for example, the basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, and St. Sebastian. The early Christians had always held in deep reverence the memory of the heroes who had sealed with blood the Profession of their faith. They would soon celebrate Mass and other rituals at the places where the bodies of the martyrs reposed. Building a new church building was usually determined by the scene of the martyrs’ sufferings, or by the spot where their sacred remains lay enshrined. They would remind people of the Faith that the deceased Christian lived for and died for.

    In time other Saints began to be used, because of there association with the Body of Christ, that is, the People of God. They would become patrons for the Church. The underlying doctrine of being a patron is that of the Communion of Saints, or the bond of spiritual union existing between God’s servants on earth, in heaven, or in purgatory. The saints are thereby regarded as the Advocates and Intercessors of those here on earth making their spiritual journey to God. They would put in a “good word” for people. This is the reason why we ask the Saints for help.

    Notice how the Liturgy Team presented the names for your approval. There was a rationale behind the name. These rationales were given as a response to your suggestions as to how this patron represent us in some way, shape or form.

    Bishop Zubik is allowing all the Groupings to think about what their Mission in the Church really is, not as a people geographically located by a building but by Missionary Spirit. He is giving us the freedom to really think about that Mission, as we look at the names. As a Patron to our Mission, how will the Patron help us to Preach the Gospel? How can their mentoring help us fulfil the Mission of the Church? How can their Intercessions help us become closer to the Lord?

 

 

 

 

October 6, 2019 -Thoughts by Rev Kev

The Disciples ask Jesus to increase their Faith. Recently from Scriptures we hear how faith increases in those who are humble, a lesson Jesus tried to share with us a few weeks ago in the scriptures. Faith for people who acknowledge that before the Lord they ever remain unprofitable servants as we hear in today’s gospel. Faith increases when we are willing to bear our “share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” An increase of faith is given to those who are resolute with conviction, that the vision of faith presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint.

Recently, I have continued to apply this statement of how Faith is a part of my life. Faith is an attitude of trust in the presence of God. Faith is openness to what God will reveal, do, and invite the all powerful person who is God, we are never in control. Our personal life is not just about oneself and reality is we are not in control. We are a part of God’s great design and we need to have Faith in HIM!

Let us all continue to listen to God, trust in His Divine Plan and find ways of working together.

October 6, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

We are now starting the month of October, so I thought I’d give a beginning thought for the month. Along with the month of May, October is a month devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. When we think of devotion to the Mother of God, one of the images that we naturally think of is the rosary. I thought I would give a little history about it. My source of information is from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Let us first look at the life of a typical monk. Let’s use the Benedictines, especially since they were the first monastic order in the West. A monk’s first and foremost priority is prayer. That is why they enter the monastery to begin with. The Benedictine motto is Ora et Labora — Pray and Work. People realized this fact and asked the monks to pray for them. Thus, we have the origins of Mass Intentions, where the priest would pray for the soul of a particular person. When all of these practices started, you might have had a priest who would pray Mass after Mass all day. Since he couldn’t work in the fields to support himself, people would offer money for his support.

The rosary had its beginning with this practice. Originally the monks may have said 150 psalms for a person’s soul or sung 150 Lord have mercy’s, while others prayed the mass or recited repetitively the Passion from Scripture. These psalms were divided up into groups of 50. However, there were monks who were illiterate and could not read; they couldn’t pray Mass because they were not ordained as priests. These monks were given simple prayers to pray, especially if they were in the fields and could not attend official prayer in the monastery. To help count the prayers, a simple rosary was made, with, for example 150 beads for each kyrie they had to pray.

At a time when Chivalry was coming into play, with the emphasis on Courtly Love and the platonic devotion to women (for example, the knight in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress), Mary, the mother of God, came to be seen as the highest model a woman could attain. In the church a popular devotion was to re-cite the various salutations to the Blessed Mother. One of these was the beginning of the Hail Mary. Over the course of time the full prayer of the Hail Mary developed as we know it today. The idea of meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life, death and resurrection also developed over time, until today where we have our cur-rent form.

Legends have it that Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic and gave him the rosary in its present form. Historically that is probably inaccurate. However, St. Dominic, who originally was sent to preach to heretics and bring them back into the faith, used the simple prayers of the rosary and helped it develop into a popular devotion it is today.

September 29, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

As we move quickly from September to October our faith invites us to pray and celebrate together.

    October invites us to recognize the gift of the Rosary. The Rosary is Christocentric setting forth the entire life of Jesus Christ, the passion, death, resurrection and glory. Of course, the Rosary honors and contemplates Mary too, and rightly so, for the same reason that the Liturgical year does likewise: “Because of the mission she received from God, her life is most closely linked with the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and there is no one who has followed in the footsteps of the Incarnate Word more closely and with more merit that she ( 142 Mediator Dei). Meditation on this cycle of Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries makes the Rosary not only “A breviary or summary of the Gospel and of Christian life,” (Ingravescentibus malis) but also a compendium of the Liturgical Year. 

    In the United States the Catholic Church in October also invites us to reflect and pray how we can all show Respect to All Life. Respect Life Month is the time where we devote time to praying and acting in defense of all human life,  especially those who are most vulnerable; preborn children and their parents, senior citizens nearing the end of life, prisoners on death row, individuals with disabilities, those suffering from violence and poverty, and more.

    Finally, like many saints who we will honor from the Archangels to the Little Flower, Saint Francis invites each of us to respect all life even in every animal that God has created.

 

September 29, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

     Last week we looked at one of the ways that God interacts in our lives, the Reception of Indulgences. Today we will look at another encounter with the Lord, a Novena.

    Novenas are prayers of devotion that are offered for nine days, or for other periods that have a factor of nine. Through these prayers, one is given Grace. They are part of the Devotions and Piety of the Faithful.

    The word “novena” has its origin in the Latin word for the number nine, novem. A Novena’s origin in the West comes from Ancient Roman times as times of prayer for the dead over a nine-day period. They were prayers of mourning and commendation of the soul to the mercies of the gods. The Romans also celebrated their parentalia novendialia, a yearly novena (13 to 22 February) of commemoration of all the departed members of their families. The celebration ended on the ninth day with a sacrifice and a joyful banquet.

    In the early Middle Ages novenas became ways of preparing for great liturgical events, especially Christmas. So, we have the song, O come, O come, Emmanuel. It may be associated to the nine months that the infant Savior remained in his mother’s womb.

    Back in the day before Mass was prayed in Latin, Novenas were popular Parish devotionals. People didn’t necessarily understand the Latin of the Mass, nor – for the most part – participate in Mass. Yes, many people had their Missals, but that participation was only relatively new. The novenas had popular hymns and prayers in the language of the people. They had devotional sermons and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Novenas were very popular because it gave people an avenue to express their Faith. Thus, we have in our Parish the popular Novena of St. Anthony.

    There are Novenas to Christ and the Holy Spirit, for example. Some of these novenas may be that of the Infant of Prague, the Sacred Heart, the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Others may include Novenas to the Blessed Mother or to particular Saints.

    Novenas are wonderful expressions of our Faith. However, there are a couple of problems to avoid. One of these problems is making the novena very sentimental, instead of an expression of Faith. Some people, while praying a novena, look to the expression of Faith of their childhood. And that piety is the only thing they are looking at. The person doesn’t necessarily want to think about what they are praying; they just want to feel good (spiritual).

    A second problem is that novenas can lead to superstition. If we say the prayer exactly, and for nine days, God will answer our prayers accordingly. Remember, no prayer – whether it be a novena or anything else – can change the mind of God. God does not need nine prayers to know what we need, or even to act; He knows our hearts and what we need, rather than what we want.

    Novenas can help us develop a habit of praying daily. They remind us that God loves us. They teach us the benefits of praying with others.

 

September 22, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Listening to what Jesus says to us this week in the gospel, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other.” The balancing act—living a divided life happens to many of us. So if want to be happy, we have to choose those things that have the power to make us happy: loving, sharing, living with a thankful heart, naming our gifts with delights and then taking delight in carrying them to the people for whom they are in-tended. If we want to be happy, we have to choose those things and then pursue them with all the vigor, intensity, ingenuity, and single mindedness of that crooked manger in the gospel. That is what Jesus is saying.

“Choose!” says the Lord “and then act with everything that is in you. Put your hand to the plow and do not turn back! Choose and do not ever turn back,” says the Lord.

September 22, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

As we reflected last week, Sacramentals help us in our journey with God. This week we shall look at another facet of Catholic life that helps us in our journey. Let’s briefly look at the notion of Indulgences.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.” It is closely connected with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Examples would be visiting the Blessed Sacrament for 30 minutes or more; pray a public rosary; read and meditate on scripture for 30 minutes; pray the Stations of the Cross. We “exchange” bad actions with good ones.

Remember, with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a penitent person asks for forgiveness. Before the Absolution is given, a penance is asked of the person. It may be something simple or something complex. Only when the Penance is completed do we receive the fullness of the Lord’s Forgiveness. Remember Sin always has consequences, divine and temporal (things here on earth). God takes away sin, but we still have responsibilities regarding our actions. Just because we say that we are sorry doesn’t relieve us of the consequences of sin.

For example: A neighborhood kid hits a baseball through a neighbor’s window. He goes to his neighbor and says “I’m sorry” and the neighbor says “I forgive you.” But the window is still broken. And it still needs to be fixed. The broken window is the temporal consequence of the action.

If used correctly, Indulgences help us to truly become closer to God. Proverbs 16:6 states: By loving kindness and faithfulness, iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil. They relieve any temporal consequences incurred because of sin. So, with the above example, the boy is told by his parents that he doesn’t have to pay; they will. The burden is relieved.

We have to strive to live a life with God at the center. When we do strive, God takes those things into ac-count. When our hearts are focused on love and the avoidance of sin, that is what God sees. Instead of focusing inward (sin), we focus outward (love of God and neighbor). If properly disposed, our actions state that we are “trying” to be the best person we can be. Indulgences give us the slack that we are looking for. They re-place the “hatred” from sin with the “love” from God.
Please remember that Indulgences are for sins already incurred. One cannot build up Indulgences for future sins. Like last week’s reflection, they are not “Holy Magic.” The reception of an Indulgence always revolves around one’s disposition. Is the person truly repentant? Does he/she truly want to make up for one’s sins?

September 15, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Today, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday under the theme  “Stay with Us” . Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each baptized person plays in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

    Do you realize that with the cooperation of  great dedicated individuals in our communities the youth are able to grow to full maturity in faith, through prayer, and the celebration of the sacraments in their studies and apply what we share to their way of living.

    This year our Faith Formation will begin their time together at the 9:00am mass and then move to the classrooms for more opportunities to share and grow deeper in their understanding of faith. Full and active participation is very important for all members of our Faith Community of the Mid Mon Valley. In Advent you will begin to see the youth take part as Lectors specifically the Second Reading, perhaps assisting as Greeters, Ushers and even in the music ministry.

    As we continue to pray and grow together as one Community, may the Holy Spirit guide each of us to use our gifts as we build up the Body of Christ. Like the quote states “A Family that Prays Together stays Together.”

 

September 15, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

When looking at the Sacraments and Sacramentals, there is a term that we need to understand. The word is “tradition.” In Church circles we use that term a great deal. “It’s Traditional” people say. “It’s always been our tradition” When we use this term, it is very important to recognize the difference between using it with a capital “T” and using it with a small “t”. In the language of the Church, such a small difference can be critical to understanding the teaching of Jesus to the teaching of humans.

    When we use Tradition with a capital “T”, we are talking about the Teachings of Jesus and the Church. It is what we call the Deposit of Faith. The Tradition of the Church is all the Teachings and Understandings that were handed down generation after generation from the very Beginning. St Paul told the Thessalonians: Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. The Sacraments are Tradition, Scripture is Tradition. Tradition is the “meat,” of what we believe.

    On the other hand, “tradition” with a small “t” is a different story. Being traditional in this sense is looking at the various customs that we have used over the years. When a family says “we are very traditional,” this notion is what they mean. We have Christmas and Easter traditions that we do year after year. Birthday, Anniversary celebrations – these cover the word tradition. Tradition with a small “t” are how we express those teachings handed down.

    Using Church examples, let me give a small visual. The Celebration of Mass is both Traditional and traditional. The whole notion of Mass is Traditional because it came from Christ Himself. The Sacrifice of the Mass started at the Last Supper with the Commandment, do this in Memory of Me. How we CELEBRATE Mass falls under tradition. The meat of the Mass is our Reception of Holy Communion and our uniting with Christ. The language of the Church – English language, music, how we hold our hands in prayer (folded or lifted up) – this falls under the realm of tradition.

    Tradition with a capital “T” can never change; it is what has been handed to us by God, Himself. Tradition with a small “t” can definitely change. Using Latin vs English. Using Contemporary Music vs Gregorian Chant. These human elements can change over time. They only compliment what the Teachings being lived truly are, the Presence of Christ. Mass celebrated in the First Century was totally different than what we pray now. But it is still the Mass. The core teachings are the same; the expressions are not.