July 14, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Consider the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson; “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life that has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

    They are similar to the gospel for this weekend as we hear Jesus present two perspectives with the question. Who is my neighbor? And as he changes the perspective to the question is, “In your opinion, who was the neighbor to the victim?” Not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Who was the neighbor to the victim?”

    This is not a question of deciding who is worthy to be assisted by me, but it’s an attitude which says all human beings deserve my attention, for they are all children of God, and when in need, I reach out to them. I reach out to them, because, when I reach out to them, I touch God Himself.

    So as we continue to reflect on our personal role and work in our daily lives I would invite you to ponder how you have reached out and helped someone lately. For the Mid Mon Valley how have we reached out and helped our community lately. Extra Hands are sincerely appreciated as we finish our preparations for the two days of the Festival at Saint Damien Park. If you cannot physically help, your prayers are appreciated for a Safe, Dry and Successful Festival!

 

July 14, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

    As we have been reflecting on Israel’s development over the centuries, and how time and time again they fell from God’s Grace, one thing to keep in mind is that God never abandoned His people. He was always there to help them.

    Let us, therefore, look at what is going on here, in basic terms. When God helps us in our everyday live, we use the term “Grace.”  Grace is God’s favor, the free and underserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become His children, partakers of Divine Nature and of Eternal Life. How God’s Grace is given is widespread. Grace helps us to become who God wants us to become. A free gift, we accept Grace or reject it. If we accept His Grace, we become one with Him and are Holy. If we reject His grace, we are left behind.

    Here is a simplistic example of what Grace is. One of my teachers at Ringgold taught the Advanced Math courses. Her method of teaching was to give her lecture and have us do our homework at the end of class, when she could be there to help us. I was never really good at word problems, so I was always asking her to help. When I was having difficulty, I would call her over. She would ask me if I looked at what we were working on that day.  DING! Lightbulb shining over my head. And I was able to do the problem. Another time I would bring her over and ask for help. She would ask me if I looked at what we worked on today. I would answer yes. Did you look at what we did yesterday? DING! Lightbulb shining over my head.

    In both cases she did not give me the answer, but helped me all the same. I still did the work. This is how some of God’s Graces work. God freely gives us the means, we use that means for a desired end and effect. In these cases God does not do the work; we do. We can use those Gifts, or not. We are better off using them – as in my case, using what she suggested helped me get a better grade.

    When Israel used God’s Graces, their lives were less complicated, and they lived more Saintly lives. When they rejected God’s Graces, their lives were miserable.

    For our reflection, do you even ask God for help in your lives? Do you expect Him to do everything for you? Or do you use what He offers and improve your lives?

July 7, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Today the gospel of Saint Luke tells of Christ appointing and sending seventy two followers out in pairs with instructions on how to work in the field as they proclaim to the people the gifts and presence of God in their lives.

So we are asked to do our part in spreading the awareness of who we believe in and how God is trying to be a part of our lives.

It is no easy task that we hear Jesus say, I am sending you out as Lambs in the midst of wolves. We all can probably understand how this is true from our own experience.

Perhaps, the advice Jesus gives to his disciples can help us as well; Travel light he tells them, you are going to be walking a long and hard road so get rid of the excess baggage, do not bring along anything that can slow you down or prevent you from reading your work that God has given you to accomplish. So what is the excess baggage that we feel we need, what is dragging us down? For some it is fear or worry, for some it is ideas that have outlived their time, for some it is an attachment or holding onto what we feel is important, for some it is a heart of stone that weighs them down and we cannot forget, forgive or trust in others. The list goes on and on, old hates, old habits, old illusions, old blindness.

So take time to unpack your bags and see what you really need as we all make this journey of faith to build up the Body of Christ in the World Today.

July 7, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Have you thought about why God, the Father, sent Jesus, the Son? Today, we are going to look at second of two reasons for Jesus’ coming to earth.

When Adam and Eve committed the first Sin, there was no way that humanity could take it away on its own. Anything that humanity did would always have that taint of the Original Sin. Any human offering would not be good enough. Even with the Jewish priests, nothing would be on the level needed to take away Sin.

This is where Jesus comes into the picture. No HUMAN offering would be good enough. But…what about a DIVINE offering? And…what about a DIVINE Offering… Offered by someone DIVINE? Would that be good enough?

The answer is a definite YES. Jesus, both God and Man, would be the Eternal High Priest that would offer Himself for our Salvation. Remember, the word “Sacrifice” means “Offering,” not something you “deprive.” Jesus would Offer Himself for us, so great was His love. The altar of the Sacrifice would be the Cross. The Offering of the Sacrifice to the Father would be Himself.

We were taught these dogmas of Faith in our Catechism. However, there is one other thing to keep in mind. When Jesus offers Himself for our Salvation, along with Jesus, we Offer ourselves. Along with Jesus, we Offer all of our Thanksgiving (this is what the word Eucharist means). We Offer the gift of ourselves through Him. Humanity puts all that is human on the cross with Jesus, pleading to God for Forgiveness and Salvation.

Something to think about: When you come to Mass, do you consciously think about what is Offered? We use the term “Sacrifice of the Mass” Are you thinking about how YOU offer (with Him, of course) Jesus to the Father? Are you thinking about how you Offer yourself? Do you realize the scope of what Jesus did? All for us?

Remember, then, what Mass is all about.

June 30, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

I invited each of us to ponder on these words from Emma Lazarus’s poem, the one mounted in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Think, remember, pray and discuss the many members of our family who came to America for Freedom.

Do we not hear similar words from Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, come to me, all you who labor and are burdened.

When we have dreams and hopes do you let your fears that you may have or those differences hold you back from being open to the loving Arms of the Blessed Mother, the Light of Christ and the many ways the Church is there for you ? Rather every day is an Independence Day as we look to the light of the lamp lifted and aglow beside the Golden Doors of our Tabernacles and above the doors of our Confessional. We come in our tiredness, our poverty, our wretchedness, longing for a home, yearning to breathe freely and finding that we can just as our Forefathers who came to America.

Enjoy these days that our nation celebrates with fireworks, picnics, parades and time off of work to be together!

June 30, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

In our ruminations, we have been reading that the Israelites of old would, at various times in their history, reject God’s Call to holiness. God, Himself, would send various people to help them, but those people would not always have the influence that God’s people needed.

Have you thought about why God, the Father, sent Jesus, the Son? Today, we are going to look at one of two reasons for Jesus’ coming to earth. The first reason, I would suggest, is language. With the Prophets, the Law, the Judges, etc., there was always the possibility of misinterpretation. Like many words in our language, there were times that there could have been many interpretations. The correct interpretations may have been looked over.

Unlike the Prophets, for example, Jesus would have the proper interpretation as to the Message coming from on High. As God, there would not be any misunderstanding as to the Message. And there would not be any misunderstanding as to the Teachings, itself. Jesus would truly understand the Heavenly message, be-cause it came from Him.

Moreover, as a human, Jesus would grow and understand only as a human could. God, the Father, would allow Jesus to grow in human wisdom, living as one of us, growing as one of us, and learning as one of us. He could use language with various nuances that we would understand. If Jesus were to speak on the Divine lev-el, we may never truly understand what God wants for us. We could have glimpses, but not the true message. As a human Jesus would solve that barrier.

Some thoughts for you. When you try to meditate or learn about basic Teachings about God (for example, the Trinity), how well do you truly understand them? When you have to explain those Teachings to others, how do you do it? Having knowledge about something does not always equate to knowing how to teach it. The more you know about the Teachings, and the more you know about Human living, the better you can translate those Teachings into a manner people can understand. Read, learn, explain, and live.

June 23, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

On this feast of Corpus Christi I would invite you to take some time to listen to these simple descriptions for our personal relationship with the Most Blessed Body and Blood of Jesus.

Meditating on the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, fill my heart with that same love that burned in your heart. May I become the love and mercy to those who live in pain and suffering. May I become the living gospel of your compassionate love.

Meditating on the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, fill me with faith, hope and love. When I find myself lacking in Charity, help me to see your presence in those around me. Increase my faith when I find it hard to understand. Give me hope when life around me seems empty and forsaken. May your presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the alter be my courage and strength.

Meditating on the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, may your gift of the holy Eucharist strengthen me on the journey of life. Transform me into your disciple and send me to those who are helpless. May I be your heart to those who are unloved. Surround me with your life and allow me to be an instrument to your peace and joy!

June 23, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Last week we reflected on the role of Prophets in our lives, that is, how we listen to other people – through praise or criticism. The Israelites didn’t want to listen to God; they thought they knew better. Because of their disobedience, Israel was punished.

During a long stretch of time, the Israelites began to have an identity in the world. This time was still before there was a king in Israel. Without the Prophets the Israelites went through a time of what the Scriptures call Judges. These people were not judges as we know them from the Law courts. These were individuals who would lead them through various stages in their journey. Think of them as superheroes. They were to be leaders that were supposed to lead the Israelites through difficult times. The primary book of the Bible that talks about them is the Book of Judges.

The main theme in this book is that if the Israelites followed the authority of God, they would prosper. However, they thought they knew better, and they used earthly politics to guide them. Judges (21:25) states In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own sight. Keep in mind that this book was probably written after Israel was a kingdom and had a monarch (Saul). In writing the book the author was probably looking at the mistakes that were made. There were disasters after disasters. The writer of Judges points out that God, Himself, was to be the Israelites King. However, the Israelites looked to their neighbors for an identity. Because of those thoughts, they suffered.

We make the same mistakes today. When it comes to Spiritual matters, how often do we apply earthly solutions, and utterly fail? How often do we think that we, ourselves, have all the answers? How often do we think that the Church is backward and doesn’t think like her followers? How often do we want to be like everyone else? How often do we think the Church is a Democracy instead of having God as our Leader? How many times do we act as if the Church is a cafeteria, letting us pick and choose what we want to believe?

Politics isn’t the answer. Jesus Christ is. Remember His teachings. Jesus would not permit people to politicize Him; He would not allow them to make Him an earthly king. The main point of the book of Judges is that the answers we need are not political; Politics cannot save. God saves.

June 16, 2019 – Thoughts by Rev Kev

Today we honor the Holy Trinity that brings together all the mysteries that we have celebrated during the seasons of Lent and Easter; the creative, saving and sanctifying work of God that not only freed us from the powers of sin and death, but which also unites us as a community of Faith- – – the Church.
The astounding truth about the Trinity is that it is the perfect realization of perfect love. God’s secret is; there is “I and Thou” without “Mine and Thine”. The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Father; the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Each is a real person, and still there is no “Mine and Thine” no egoism. The Father gives to the Son literally all that He Himself has, all that makes Him God, all that makes Him Love. The Son, perfect image of the Father, loves the Father to selfless perfection and Son love each other, that love is a person. The love is the Holy Spirit.
Let us take time to pray; God, I believe that you are the Farther, Son and Holy Spirit. Help me to know you in a more personal way!
As a final point not to overlook that today, Father’s Day, that we may find a moment to honor those who we acknowledge as our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, and step fathers.
May we be open to the love and forgiveness seen through the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

June 16, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

Before Lent started, I was exploring the Jewish people as the teachers of Faith to the World. Looking at the development of Israel and how they were learning to become teachers, we were reminded that at some point of their development, they said No! to God; they wanted to follow their own path, not the one planned by God.
Since the Israelites kept saying No! to God by disobeying the Law, Prophets were sent to bring them back into God’s graces. If they listened and reformed their lives, all was well. If they did not change their lives, they were punished, or even exiled.
Many people misunderstand the Prophets. People think that the Prophets were soothsayers, predicting the future. They look at some of the Sunday morning televangelists and come to the wrong conclusion. Thinking that Prophesy is only about the future is far from the truth. Prophets were sent to the Israelites to tell them what was on God’s mind for a particular issue. It may have involved the future (If you continue on this way of life, this is what is going to happen….). It may also have involved the past (Because of your sin, you were exiled….). But the main Message would have been for the Present. God wants them to change their ways and continue of the right path. In today’s world we look at those prophetic messages and apply them to what is relevant in today’s world.
Keep in mind, however, that this approach did not work at times. Every major Prophet in the Old Testament had an assassination plot against them. The Israelites sometimes didn’t like what they heard from them, and would accuse the Prophet of being a False Prophet.
There are no longer Prophets in the world, but that fact doesn’t mean that you may not have a prophetic insight. Maybe it’s something from a homily, or something someone said. Whatever the message may be, it is speaking to you, asking you to change some aspect of your life or how you think about a certain subject.
How do you respond? Do you treat the message with respect? Do you objectively look at yourself and realize that you do need to change? Or, do you utterly reject it, because you don’t like what you are hearing? Do you criticize the messenger or message and refuse even to listen? Do you “write” him/her off as insignificant? How do you deal with constructive criticism or even hostile criticism?