February 18, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

This past week we began the Holy Season of Lent. Lent is a time when we are tested and challenged to find ourselves and experience our faith in greater and fuller ways. In the gospel Jesus goes to the desert to find himself, to discover his mission. While in the desert, he undergoes a series of temptations to all the allurements of this world. Jesus survives the period of trial; he is found worthy. Angels come to wait on him. Jesus is now ready to go forth and perform his mission.

In our daily lives God sets before us many challenges, many situations which appear to be great trials. Like Jesus’ journey to the desert our Lenten journey, if accepted properly, will be a great challenge, a desert experience. The challenge we will face will make us better and more complete people. Jesus became perfect, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, through his trial of suffering. Our lives are filled with trials. There are challenges at work with our business associates, with the boss, with our duties. There are challenges at school, with classmates, teachers, and homework assignments. There are trials and challenges in life, with problems, illness, suffering, and death.

How do we handle these trials, these challenges from God? The answer is to go, like Jesus, to the desert. The solution will be found there. The solutions to life’s trials are found in prayer, works of mercy, and fasting—the traditional Lenten observances. Through prayer, works of mercy, and fasting we change. We can then accept the trials and challenges of life, and more importantly, God’s will in our lives. Through trial and challenge we grow, through prayer we learn acceptance. Today, therefore, let us seek the challenge of the desert. Let us turn to prayer in our lives. Let us be transformed on our personal journey to Calvary and resurrection.

 

February 11, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

The first reading and our gospel are about leprosy. Leprosy is not something that we encounter frequently. So to appreciate the full impact of these readings it helps to understand the context in which they were written. Lepers were required to be examined by a priest. When their disease was verified, lepers were expelled from society. Only a priest could certify their cure if they ever recovered from the disease.
In Mark’s gospel a leper does not hesitate to come to Jesus and ask for a cure. In the miraculous cure, Jesus touches him! To talk to a leper, let alone touch him was unheard of in that setting. The message is overwhelming. Jesus reaches out to all in the human family, even those expelled by accepted social standards. In curing the leper Jesus reaches out to the dregs of society. The message is clear. Jesus is the savior of all people. This includes Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, even those whom society ignores and considers worthless. All in the human family are God’s children and deserve dignity and respect. Our readings today teach that all people are worthy of salvation in Christ. We have to admit that power, position, and wealth in today’s world do seem to make some people’s lives more important and obviously more worthwhile. This is an instance in which the gospel is clearly countercultural.
So often the happiest people are those who forget themselves and do whatever they can to serve others. It seems that the way to be happy is to forget yourself and give yourself and give your life to someone or something bigger than you are. Jesus gave his life for all!

February 4, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

Deacon-Al-Poroda-Headshot

Deacon Al

These past three weeks through the Gospels we’ve heard of Jesus’ call to the twelve, and of Jesus’ power and ability to free others from the grasped of evil that entraps those who are weak in faith, lacking in prayer, and choose to not place God as a priority above the lures and temptations of the world.
Paul, in these past weeks gives warnings of the same, that time is running out and we are to be free of anxieties, empty some space out in our lives to give more adherence to the Lord without distraction…
A great analogy on choices and life I heard a while ago called God’s coffee, is what these past weeks of readings and gospels have reminded me of. It relates to our choices and how they affect us & others:
A group of former college students got together and decided to visit their former professor. During the visit, they began to complain about the careers and life in general as they were living it. The professor listens, and after a while offers the young group some coffee. As he brings out the coffee, he brings along with it a mixture of different cups. Some were very expensive, a few were every day mugs and the rest were just cheap plastic ones.
As the professor listens to the his former students, he brings it to their attention the choices they’ve made and points out the fact that they’ve all chosen the better cups for themselves leaving the everyday and plastic cups still on the tray. He tells his former students, while it’s normal to want only the best for yourselves, that’s the source of your problems and stress.
The cup itself adds no value to the taste of the coffee, it just gives a more impressive appearance with greater expectations. Life is the coffee, he explains, but the jobs, position and money are the cups holding that same coffee which gives us different impressions of one another. Concentrating only on the cups, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided for us. The professors teaching was that the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything! Live simply, give generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God…
Our choices in life either make us happy or sad, and a good post I’ve read this past week coveys that message: You can’t keep dancing with the devil, and wondering why you’re still in Hell – it’s all about your life Choices!!!
God Bless

Pastoral Impressions

Due to Fr. Bill being on a much needed vacation, there will not be a Pastoral Impression this weekend, January 21st or the weekend of January 28th.

January 14, 2018 – Reflections by Deacon Al

Deacon-Al-Poroda-Headshot

Deacon Al

Here I am Lord: The Body is not for immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord is for the body: What is it that you are looking for?
Two statements and a question are presented to us this week…At first, Samuel nor Eli had any idea it was God calling…Samuel, thinking “Eli” was calling thru-out the night for assistance, as Eli was now old and nearly blind. But, as it is written in Matthew 22:16: “Many are called, but few are Chosen.” The external call goes to all people. But the elect experience the internal call from God.
From Paul’s letter today, we hear the truth that our bodies are not for our own use (immorality) but we are created for the Lord, each of us to become one spirit with Him. A Temple, a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit Glorifying God with our bodies and not self-righteousness. We’ll speak partly this weekend on 6 truths that can make us a better people.
And the question Jesus asks today- -not just to Andrew and Peter, but to all of us – -What are you looking for? There are standard answers we may be able to give in a “classroom type setting” but to really think about being before Jesus and being asked this, what would your answer be? You’ll be unable to speak anything by the truth. Is it Faith, a deeper relationship with God, Peace, Love. Joy, Happiness? Prayerfully, we’ll help each other find the answer this weekend.
God’s Blessings, Deacon Al

January 7, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

The Epiphany of the Lord is a liturgical solemnity celebrating the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. This in effect expands the understanding of Jesus as the King of the Jews. Based on the church’s experience that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was not a revelation limited to Judaism, the story of the Epiphany focuses on the universal mission Jesus embraced symbolized here by the presence of the magi from the east.
At the heart of the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord is Matthew’s magnificent story of the magi searching out the newborn King of the Jews in order to pay him homage. The narrative is filled with irony. The first people to search out the newborn King of the Jews have no connection with Judaism at all. They are astrologers (magi) from the east. They are Gentiles. They found their way to Jerusalem by following a mysterious star, which somehow they related to Jesus. The magi know that Jesus is the newborn King of the Jews, whereas Herod, who is vassal king of the Jews, has no idea about Jesus. He immediately thinks that this new born king is a contender for the secular throne, and he finds this very troubling. In fact, no one associated with Judaism in the story seems to have any knowledge of the Messiah, where he was to be born, or when this was supposed to happen. Herod has to consult with the chief priests and scribes, but they are of no help beyond a remote recollection about Bethlehem being the place.
Herod attempts to gain information from the magi by pretending that he is really interested in paying homage to this newborn king. Clearly he is interested because he wants to kill him. While nothing works out for Herod, everything works out for the magi. Once again the mysterious star led them to where they needed to go. The real meaning of this child’s birth will not be mani-fested until his death and resurrection.

December 31, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Today’s Gospel tells us that Anna prayed both night and day. So great was her love for God that she persisted in prayer no matter what time it was.
How can we realistically bring our prayer into the night? We don’t need to stay at church all night long, as Anna did, but we can offer our nights to God by spending a few minutes with him before we go to sleep. One way to do this is by using a simplified version of the Daily Examen, a daily prayer method taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The first step is easy: invite the Holy Spirit into your night, and place yourself in God’s presence by praying, “Come, Holy Spirit. Lead me as I reflect on my day.”
The second step : review specific moments and feelings of your day with gratitude. Perhaps you completed a difficult project. Maybe you enjoyed eating dinner with your family! Were you happy? Were you anxious or angry? Maybe you felt relieved. It’s amazing the roller-coaster of emotions we can experience in a single day! Name the gifts God gave you, and thank him.
Third, reflect on what you thought or said or did in those instances. Each moment can show you where God was present in your day. Were you drawing closer to him or pulling further away? You may feel moved to thank God for being with you; you may want to repent of mistakes or failures.
Next, look ahead to tomorrow. What are you looking forward to, and what are you dreading? Talk to God about it. Ask him to give you grace for the coming day so that you can cooperate with him.
Finally, pray the Lord’s Prayer, entrusting yourself to his fatherly care.
These five simple steps, just before bed, can help you echo the psalmist: “In peace I will lie down and fall asleep, for you alone, Lord, make me secure.” (Psalm 4:9)

December 24, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Today we are only a few hours away from celebrating again the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the message our liturgy impresses upon us is powerful. God keeps his promises! Our loving God promised to send a Savior to redeem us from our sins. We are now ready to celebrate the fulfilment of that promise.
Our first reading today reminds us of the promise made ages ago to King David. The promise to David is to be fulfilled in his off-spring who will inherit the kingdom and pass it on to future generations. Hearing this so close to Christmas we are reminded that Jesus our Savior was born into the house of David. We are now celebrating the fulfillment of the prophecy.
The reading from the Gospel of Luke tells the story of the actual event when God kept the promise. God’s fidelity is carried out. The angel Gabriel is sent to Nazareth, in Galilee. One might think such wondrous news should be announced in the splendor and elegance of Jerusalem. It’s very clear, however, that this divine child is to be born in solidarity with all people, ordinary people, not only the rich and famous. Through his foster father Joseph he is to be of the house of David as the prophets had foretold. And Almighty God sends an angel to Mary with the news that will change the world forever. She is troubled and wonders how? When she receives Gabriel’s answer, she gives her “yes”. The incarnation happens. The promise is kept.
By sharing in our humanity, our faithful God became one of us.

December 17, 2017 – Reflections by Deacon Al

Deacon-Al-Poroda-Headshot

Deacon Al

This week we hear again from John about JESUS’ Sandals and John’s unworthiness to even bear or to loose the sandals of his Master. This represents the believer’s (John’s) humility before Christ.
The undoing of the latchets or leather thongs of the sandals refers to this menial duty, along with the frequent habit of washing the feet repeatedly every day, especially upon entering a home. It was a common dictate of good manners to remove a guest shoes/sandals and wash their feet either personally or through a servant, having water for washing present at the main door of the home. This service was con-sidered one of the lowest tasks of servants, probably because the youngest and least trained servants were charged with the task. Jesus taught the greatest les-son of humility by performing this humble service to His disciples… In the metaphorical language of Isiah 52:7 “the feet” are synonymous with “the coming.”
Like John, we ourselves may feel unworthy of God’s Love/Favor – (otherwise known as God’s Grace) and feel that we are unworthy to approach Him whether through prayer, meditation or speaking directly to Him. Personally I can share with you, growing up, whether it was those who taught us religion, or through our home lives, as children we were made to be fearful of God rather than focusing on His Love/Mercy. Fear of the Lord, as I see it today after years of study and prayer, is not to fear God as we would our earthly fathers if we were due a spanking, but to fear God is to be fearful of losing relationship with Him by choosing sin over Him.
This is where Paul’s reading this week picks up and assures us of God’s call on our lives “The one who calls you is Faithful”
Reviewing Paul’s reading in RCIA this past week, and per usual the Holy Spirit spoke leaving all to hear or feel something different. What stood out for me was “Pray without Ceasing”… Some may feel this is the duty of the Saints, their before God and isn’t it their job to intercede for our prayers and petitions? The answer is yes and no…
Yes the Saints are before God and we ask for their intersession before God for our prayers, but can we get through this life without Prayer? Through one of the books I’d read many years ago, I learned about this particular phrase – pray without ceasing and its meaning, still applying it to my life today. This, along with feeling worthy or unworthy of God, will be our topic in the Homily this week.
God’s Blessing for The Merriest of Christmas’s and a Blessed New Year!
Deacon Al & RaeAnn

December 10, 2017 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

“ONCE EVERY SIX YEARS!”
I write this Sunday to answer any question that might arise about our obligation to attend Mass on the fourth Sunday of Advent, since Christmas begins in the evening of that day. This timing only happens once every six years and it DOES NOT remove our obligation to attend Mass for BOTH days. A pastor recently published in his bulletin that he was interpreting cannon law and allowing people to be dispensed from obligation on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
We have received communication from the Diocese that only the bishop is the interpreter of law in the diocese, could grant such a dispensation, and that he has NOT granted such a dispensation. To do so would minimize the importance of the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent as an important part of the liturgical year and should be celebrated as such.
How many times in our lives are we faced with attending two important events on succeeding days( a wedding, a birthday, an anniversary, a football game, etc.) and we make sure we are at both. This celebration in our liturgical year falls under the same umbrella. We must arrange our schedules so that we can celebrate both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and the solemnity of Christmas. Mass times for the Fourth Sunday of Advent are the normal times of Sat. 4:00pm, and Sunday morning at 8:30 & 11:00 am. The masses for Christmas begin with the 4:00pm Mass Sunday evening, MIDNIGHT, and 10:00 am on Christmas morning. Please attend one of the three masses scheduled for each celebration.(The 4:00pm mass Christmas eve DOES NOT satisfy your obligation for BOTH days).
It is a beautiful time to celebrate our faith and we have the “opportunity and privilege” to attend mass two days in a row. Many blessings for all!