Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent


Time moves quickly! Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now the focus is on Christmas; shopping, decorating, sending cards, parties.
It is all good – but the church also urges us to prepare our souls, our hearts for Christmas – after all – Christmas means Mass of Christ, and Jesus is the reason for the season!
That’s why the church insists upon the season of Advent – Latin word – Adventus – Coming – the coming of Christ.
Most believe that he did come – in history – in Bethlehem – born of Mary. But what makes Bethlehem so important is what happened in Jerusalem.
Most again agree that he was put to death by Pontius Pilate - but then what? The Bible records 11 different appearances by the Risen Christ – once to 500 people. They began to realize that what happened in Bethlehem was no ordinary birth – but the coming of the Son of God.  The Word became flesh – God became one of us – which changes everything!
If he is Risen, he is still with us. So, we believe that Jesus comes to us even today, in Mystery.
1)    When the Bible is read, we say: The Word of the Lord or The Gospel of the Lord. God is still speaking to us – why the Bible is read to us every time we gather!
2)    When Sacraments are celebrated – Jesus is at work: Baptism – new life, Reconciliation – forgiveness, Confirmation – sending Spirit, Anointing – healing. Center is the Eucharist – Bread and Wine become his very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.
3)    When two or three gathers in his name
4)    In the poor – whatever you did, you did for me.
He will come again in glory -in Majesty – when – we do not know – we wait in joyful expectation – so we get ready.
Many paintings with Saints show a skull – the idea is – remember that life is short – live in the light of God. We call this “sub specie aeternitatis” View everything under the aspect of eternity – is this action going to get me into heaven or increase darkness in my life or the life of others. How will this appear on the day of judgment?  Very good to go to confession every now and then – to keep sin in check.
So – 3 comings – History – Mystery – Majesty. Advent keeps us focused on the true meaning of Christmas – to prepare the way of the Lord!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving


How can you be thankful if you are in a “living hell?”
Ravensbruck was the largest concentration camp for women in Germany. By the end of WWII it held 50,000 women.
Two sisters were brought there – Corrie and Betsie ten Boom. After a few months they were assigned to a new barracks – Barracks 28.  They quickly noticed it smelled of sewage and soiled bedding. When Corrie lay down to try to sleep, she felt a sharp pinch on her leg – “Fleas”: she cried. So many of them.  Betsie, how can we live with them?
It came to Betsie’s mind a verse from the Bible – Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians - Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
That’s the answer Corrie – we must give thanks – starting with every single thing in this new barracks.
Such as???
Such as being assigned here together.
Such as what you are holding in your hand (somehow they had been able to hold on to a Bible)
Thank you there was no inspection when we entered.
Thank you for the women with us. Thank you that we are crowded so that more may hear God’s Word.
Thank you for the fleas.
Corrie - Now you are going too far – there is no way I can be grateful for them.
Betsie – Paul says give thanks in all circumstances.
So Corrie gave thanks, but she was sure her sister was wrong.
Weeks wore on – more work, less food, more women. At night they would use their Bible to help everyone pray – to keep hope and love alive.
They were just waiting to be caught – and punished – or even put to death.  Yet, there was never an inspection. No guards ever came in.
For many, their work was knitting – knitting and knitting. One day there was confusion about sizes – they asked the supervisor to come in and settle it. But, the supervisor would not, and neither would the guards.
Why not?  They said – we are not going in there - the place is crawling with fleas!   Corrie remembered what Betsie said: – give thanks to God for the fleas!
And so – on this Thanksgiving Day – we give thanks – for the good, and even for the bad – even though we may not understand at the time.
And, it is wonderful that we give thanks at Mass.
Greek word for Thanksgiving - eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them … ” (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, “he gave eucharisteo.”
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.”
Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. 
Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy.
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo; the table of thanksgiving. The Eucharist is the central act of Christianity. Doesn’t the continual repetition of beginning our week at the table of the Eucharist clearly place the whole of our lives into the context of thanksgiving?
One of Christ’s very last directives He offers to His disciples is to take the bread, the wine, and to remember. Do this in remembrance of Me. Remember and give thanks.
This is the core of Christianity: to remember and give thanks, eucharisteo.
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving

Eucharist means Thanksgiving! Join us for Thanksgiving Day Mass at 8:00 a.m. Mass on Friday will also be at 8:00 a.m. Our Parish Office and Adoration Chapel will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Christ The King Of the Universe


Last Sunday of the Church Year   - Christ the King
Q - When was it 1st celebrated?   You would think Middle Ages?   -   1925 
Time of Pius XI – old royal kingdoms were crumbling – instead of kings and queens, now they had the growth of:
Nazism – a dictator who argued for the superiority of his race.
Socialism – common sharing of property – without God
Communism – totalitarian, no God, no individual rights
Pope feared they would be worse than many kings of old & they were – tens of millions of lives lost.
Pope wanted to remind all people – ultimate loyalty is due to God – there is only one King!

If you think about it – Jesus is a strange sort of king –
-          sign   -   Latin - INRI - Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
-          no regal clothing
-          crown of thorns

But kings and queens can learn much from this king.

1) Jesus is told: if you are the Son of God, get down from the cross! But because He is Son of God – stays on the cross   -   true power is in obedience to His Father.     Many people felt Kennedy could not be elected because he was Catholic – JFK had his famous meeting with Baptist Ministers – would not take orders from Rome – faith is about my private life only. Argument made today – Freedom of Worship vs Freedom of Religion – even affected Chick Fil A.

St. Thomas More would have disagreed – when King Henry VIII asked Thomas to agree that he was the head of the Church of England – Thomas refused -  right before Henry had him put to death – his last words were:  “I am the good King’s servant, but God’s first.”  True King is obedient to God.

2) Other thief told him to be quiet – we deserve this, but this man has done nothing wrong. Famous words: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
King Frederick the Great was visiting the jails of Potsdam – each inmate proclaims innocence -  only one said – “I am guilty and I am receiving the punishment I deserve”   king ordered him released – I don’t want this man to corrupt all the innocent people in here. Jesus told the thief – this day, you will be with me in Paradise.   True King is about mercy!

# There is a power to the Cross – every Catholic Church is expected to have a Crucifix visible for all to see – one can learn so much praying before the Cross of our King!
Bishop of Paris once was preaching in the Great Notre Dame in Paris.
He said - Once a young man came in here – who had fallen away from God - confessions going on – he thought: I will go in and try to fool the priest and make things up -  the priest wasn’t fooled -   told him – every confession requires a penance – so go into the church -  look up at the crucifix – look into the face of Jesus and say   “All this you did for me and I don’t give a ….”   Well, the young man tried. He stood there, looked into the face of Jesus and said -   all this you did for me - tried to complete the sentence but could not -     Bishop leaned over – that young man was me.    True King brings us back to God!

The obedience of God – the Mercy of God - The miracle of the cross --- Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews – he is! - Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Msgr. George Thompson 1941-2019


Your Excellencies – Bishop Peter, Bishop Dom, our Regional Dean Father Jay Backes, our now retired Dean Msgr. Jim Sullivan, brother priests, deacons, Religious sisters, parishioners of St. Columba, friends of Msgr. Thompson. Welcome, thank you for coming today to pray with us for Msgr. George Thompson. Bishop-Elect Colacicco is on retreat or he also would have joined us tonight.
The question was asked - Have you ever thought of becoming a priest? I had just finished lectoring the 5:15 pm Sunday Mass at St. John & Mary Church in Chappaqua.
Now, at that time, I have no idea what a vocation director was. All I knew was that he was Father Thompson – and he said Mass on the weekends at our parish – I served many Masses for him over the years, and that all our parishioners loved him – a wonderful homilist and a good priest.
Soon after, I entered college seminary and he would move on to forming young candidates for the priesthood at Cathedral Prep Seminary. What a great example he gave his students! During this time, he began his involvement with Cursillo – 40 years!
Eight years later, All Saints Day, 1981 – I offered my first Mass – with him by my side.
Msgr. Thompson had an interesting and varied priesthood. From the Prep he became Pastor of St. Denis in Yonkers, and 5 years later, Cardinal O’Connor asked him to work at the Office for Priest Personnel. He and the Cardinal worked very closely together, assigning priests, and working with priests who were having physical, spiritual or emotional issues. He admired Cardinal O’Connor for his compassion toward priests, and they made a great team together.
In 2002, he went back to parish ministry, and he spent 14 years at St. Patrick’s in Bedford. As it turned out, I was his last move as Personnel Director – off to St. Stephen, Warwick.
Years later Father George Hafemann and I started a Clergy Reflection Group, which still meets at Bishop Dom’s house, and Msgr. Thompson soon joined us. What a joy to see him each month!
In 2016 and close to retirement – he spoke with me - Can I come live with you?  Really?   What a blessing for the people of St. Columba. This was a priest who gave himself totally to God. He was centered completely in the Mass. He was a man of deep prayer. He loved to teach and taught both adults and children. He counseled many. At the same time, Cardinal Dolan asked him to represent Retired Priests on the Priest Council, and was asked to visit and counsel our newly ordained priests.
Now - To live with him – a new experience - education in wine (best wine from the Finger Lakes is Dry Riesling, better when Fr. Connolly imitates him) - Mets and Yankees – Barton Farm Apple Cider Donuts – his world travels – unfailing joy, laughter and good fun.
It was shocking when he came home one year ago last September acting confused. What had happened to him?
Could no longer celebrate Mass (can you imagine?) – he needed extra help – I did not need to ask - Staff stepped up to the plate, particularly – Laura (Diner) – Gary (dressing) - Father C. (many acts of kindness & wine!) and Bill Carey for doctor trips. I am grateful to all of them!
During this, we kept Bishop Walsh, Vicar for Priests & Deacon Steve DiMartino, Priest Wellness, in the loop. They came to visit and gave us their constant support. Thanks!  
It broke hearts to send him off to the St. John Vianny Clergy Residence – but received excellent care – and we knew he was safe. Special thanks to Mena, Shanaz and his nursing staff who provided 24 hour care.
Msgr. used to visit sick priests with Card O’Connor, especially those near death - The Cardinal would remind them that they were never more powerful, never more a priest, when they offered their sufferings for Christ.  During these last months, Msgr Thompson became even more like Christ - the Priest, the Altar, the Lamb of Sacrifice. All Saints Day, (38 years after my first Mass) he was called home.
Behold, I make all things new – stone is rolled away –why do you look for the living among the dead?
Thank you, Father, for this extraordinary priest – his work is done. May God in His mercy give him safe lodging, and holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

Monday, November 4, 2019


A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered by Timothy Cardinal Dolan for Msgr. George Thompson on Thursday, November 7 at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of St. Patrick in Bedford, NY. This was requested by Msgr. Thompson after having served as Pastor there from 2002-2016.

The Parish of St. Columba will offer a Memorial Mass for Msgr. Thompson on Wednesday evening, November 6 at 7:00 pm. The celebrant will be Bishop Peter Byrne, Episcopal Vicar for Dutchess County. Presiding will be Bishop Dominick Lagonegro, retired auxiliary bishop and former Pastor of St. Columba. The homilist will be Father Michael McLoughlin, Pastor. All are welcome as we pray for our beloved Senior Priest.

NOTES    
Wednesday – Adoration Chapel will close at 6:00 pm
Thursday – Rectory Office will be closed

Funeral Mass - Freida O'Leary

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Freida O'Leary on Wednesday, November 6 at 10:00 am. Please pray for her and for her family.