Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From Pope Francis - About Fathers

Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences.
Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers.
He said that teaching us to call God our Father, Jesus gave new depth and richness to this relationship, so fundamental to the life of society.
Sadly – Francis said –  in our modern societies, we are experiencing a crisis of fatherhood. In the past it was common practice to perceive the  image of the father as authoritarian and at times even repressive, today – he said – we now sense uncertainty and confusion about the role of the father.
And speaking of  an “absence” of the father figure in society, the Pope said that “without father figures, young people often feel ‘orphaned’, left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development.
Calling on fathers to be responsible, he said that fathers are necessary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue.
Society itself – he continued –  has a similar responsibility not to leave the young as orphans, without ideals, sound values, hopes and possibilities for work and for authentic spiritual fulfilment.
Just as Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans – Pope Francis concluded – let us ask him to deepen and renew our appreciation of fatherhood and to raise up good fathers for the benefit of our families, our Church and our world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Closings and Cancellations - Tuesday, January 27

Our Parish Office is closed today.
St. Denis - St. Columba School is closed today.
Touring Tuesday is rescheduled for next Tuesday, February 3.
St. Columba School of Religion is closed today.
The Adoration Chapel is closed today.
The "Ministry of Care" meeting is rescheduled for Monday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Enjoy the snow day!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Closings and Cancellations - Monday, January 26

St. Denis - St. Columba School early dismissal today.
Adoration Chapel closed at 12 noon
Church Office closed 11:45 - 2:00 p.m. for staff meeting. May remain closed.
All Parish Meetings cancelled for tonight.
Ministry of Care Meeting moved to Monday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Library.

Funeral Mass

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Denise DeGaetano on Thursday, January 29 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

"Deflate Gate!"

They are calling it  “Deflate Gate”
Let’s see – 24 footballs were inspected before last week’s game – 12 for New England, 12 for Indianapolis.  All were found to be properly inflated.  The footballs were checked again at the end of the first half and, for New England 11 out of 12 were not inflated properly.  All 12 of the footballs used by Indianapolis were correct.
What happened? – amazingly, no one knows – not even the coach or the quarterback!
Coach Belichick got God involved yesterday – something about atmospheric conditions!
Tom Brady – what’s the big deal?  No one died?  This isn’t ISIS!
Is it a big deal?  Does it affect the integrity of the game when rules are broken?

It’s not surprising that Coach Belichick involved God.   In fact, many people already believe that God is involved in the Super Bowl.
Surveys taken last year reveal that a lot of praying is going on before the Super Bowl:  26 % of American pray to God to help their team -  23 % believe their team is cursed! I can understand if you are a Cubs fan!
31 % of Catholics  &  45 % of Protestants believe:  God plays a role in determining the winner of a sporting event!
65 % of Catholics believe that God rewards faithful athletes.   Wow!  
This is how God works?         What happens if a faithful athlete loses? He didn’t pray enough? 

Website “ Open Doors”  says that: Each month  332 Christian are killed because of their faith     214 Christian Churches and properties are destroyed    772 forms of violence are committed against Christians.
They did not have faith????   
I remember my Dad one year before death – his health was getting worse – Michael:  what did I do?  Did I do something wrong?    This was a faithful, good man who went to daily Mass after he retired.    Broke my heart -      no, dad, you just got old!    Since when does having faith mean bad things do not happen?   What about the Cross?

Young priest was talking with a group of old priests like me.   Would you do it all over again?
He said: The expected answer is YES
The Question is WHY?  
Not because I had good support from other priests - 
Not because I met so many wonderful people  - 
Not because everything went well: IT DID NOT ALWAYS GO WELL!  -
Not because  it was an easy life: IT WAS GOOD BUT LIKE MOST PEOPLE, NOT EASY.  (Or else our seminaries would be full!)
WHY? – because somehow God worked through me!  - 
I was used for good –
somehow my life made a difference  - 
despite sometimes lousy homilies or not best advice –
yet God was at work.
I Wonder – would Andrew, Peter, James and John done it all over again? – said yes and followed? – nothing like they thought – yet they were used for good    
How about Mary? -  do it all over again?
Faith does not mean things will always go our way – but that God will always be there – and if we cooperate with His grace – God can use us for good!!!!

So, who will win the Super Bowl?   God knows (which does not mean he fixed it!)  – BUT -  you better check those footballs!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cardinal O'Malley - The March For Life

I offered Mass 4:30 this morning with a group that boarded a bus for a trip to Washington to participate in the March For Life. I was delighted that so many were young people! Here is the text of the talk Cardinal O'Malley gave at the vigil Mass last night. It is extraordinary!

 In Boston, there is a popular diner near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. One of the items on the menu is called “The Emergency Room” consisting of bacon, sausages, eggs, pancakes, french toast, hash browns. The clientele are people from the hood, a few Archie and Edith Bunkers, Ralph and Alice Kramdens, cops and priests. It’s the kind of place you could invite Pope Francis to. Juke box music from the 50’s and 60’s adds to the atmosphere. 

While having dinner there last week with Fr. O’Leary and Fr. Kickham, the phone rang. I presumed it was a telemarketer. It was Oprah Winfrey. 

I almost had to order “the emergency room”. She called to tell me she was reading my blog and wanted to thank me for the comments I had published on the blog. 

You have to feed the blog. I had shared some reflections about the film Selma. To me, one of the very moving aspects of the film is to see how people of faith came together to witness to the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God. They were Protestant, Catholics, Jews, Greek Orthodox, standing together courageously. One of the ministers from Boston, a 38 year old white man, Reverend James Reel, was beaten to death leaving behind a wife and four small children. He had served for four years here in Washington D.C. at All Souls Church on 16th Street, just across from my offices at the Spanish Catholic Center. At the time of his death he was working for the Quakers in Boston as director of a housing program focusing on desegregation. Martin Luther King called him the defense attorney of the innocent in the court of public opinion. Today that is our job.

The quest for human rights and solidarity brought together people of faith to try to repair the world --to use the Jewish expression. InEvangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says, “No one should demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanction of personal life without influence on societal and national life… The Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”

We are called upon to build a better world. “The Church’s social thought”, says Pope Francis, “offers proposals, works for change and constantly points to the hope born of the loving heart of Jesus Christ.”

In the history of our country, people of faith have worked together to overcome racism and injustice. Now we come together to be the defense attorney for the innocent unborn and the vulnerable elderly and all those whose right to life is threatened. We shall overcome.

As a matter of fact, we are overcoming, but it is a well kept secret.

We have all heard of Greek Mythology and Roman Mythology. I want to talk about some American Mythology.

There are many myths that are circulating and cause a lot of harm, especially since our politicians often espouse them. First of all, you will hear that abortion is a woman’s issue; secondly, that most Americans are pro-choice, pro abortion; and thirdly, that young people are overwhelmingly in favor of the pro-choice position.

Earlier this month in an op-ed on the editorial page of the New York Times entitled "The Abortion Stereotype," Razib Kahn observes that in polling done over the last 20 years, women have been consistently more pro-life than men.

Despite the impression that a solid majority of Americans back legal abortions, the Gallup polls indicate that about the same number of Americans identify as pro-choice as do pro-life, but in fact 58% of Americans oppose all or most abortions. If abortion depended on the ballot box rather than an activist court, it would be greatly reduced.

Studies have shown that women are more pro-life than men. Certainly the maternal instincts and closeness to the source of life, dispose women to be more protective of children. So, despite the talk about “the woman’s body” and the “woman’s choice”, oftentimes the big supporter of abortion is the man who is quite happy to invest all reproductive responsibility in the woman. This creates a situation in which men can easily rationalize their irresponsibility towards women who opt not to have an abortion.

According to the Allan Gutmacher Institute, 80% of all abortions are sought by single women. With abortion as an option, a man can compel a woman to have an abortion by denying his responsibility or threatening to abandon her if she “chooses” to give birth. For the unwilling father, an abortion is a bargain compared to monthly child support payments.

Even a majority of so-called pro-choice Americans actually favor informed consent for mothers, abortion bans in the third trimester, bans on partial-birth abortions, required parental consent for minors, 24 hour waiting periods and even abortion bans in the second trimester. These are polls by Gallup, CBS and the New York Times, not by EWTN, Catholic University and the Vatican.

Another myth proclaims young people are more pro-choice, to use the terminology. Once again the polls are unanimous in showing that young Americans are the most pro-life segment of the American people.

Upon her resignation in 2012, NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) President Nancy Keegan stated that there is a large “intensity gap” among young people on the subject of abortion. We have already seen that the majority of young people are pro-life. An internal poll by NARAL shows that 51% of pro-life young people see abortion as an important electoral issue, while only 20% of pro-choice young people see abortion as an important electoral issue.

Gallup in 2010 declared that “pro-life is the new normal”. Congratulations, you are normal.

But you know there are some people who are using these American myths: that the majority of women, the majority of Americans, the majority of young people are pro-choice. It is a lie that is being foisted on the American people to try to convince people to embrace abortion with the flag and apple pie. We need to make sure that our political leaders are brought up to date and begin to take the pro-life ideals of Americans seriously.

It is good to recall that even if all the myths were true that the American people, women and youth were overwhelmingly in favor of abortion, that would not alter the sacredness of human life and our absolute obligation to protect and defend this most precious gift that is life.
In the first reading from the book of Exodus we heard about the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who resisted the orders of the Pharaoh to kill the babies. They were convinced of the sacredness of each and every life and were willing to submit themselves to the wrath of the Pharaoh rather than abort one innocent child.

Recently, addressing a group of Catholic doctors in Rome, the Holy Father, Pope Francis stated: “If the Hippocratic Oath commits you to always be servants of life, the Gospel pushes you further: to love life no matter what, especially when it is in need of special care and attention. The Holy Father warns the health care workers that “The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a ‘false compassion,’ that which believes that it is helpful to women to promote abortion; and act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to ‘produce’ a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome.

The compassion of the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that is, the compassion of the Good Samaritan who “Sees, has compassion, approaches and provides concrete help.” 

The Holy Father tells the doctors: “Your mission puts you in daily contact with many forms of suffering. Fidelity to the Gospel of Life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes requires choices that are courageous and go against the current, which may become points of conscientious objection.”

The Holy Father is reminding our Catholic Healthcare workers that they must be like the valiant midwives who refused to kill the Hebrew babies at the behest of the Pharaoh.

One of the greatest challenges to people of faith in our culture is the erosion of conscience rights, the space we need as a Catholic community to carry on our ministries and works of mercy without violating God’s law and our conscience.

In a certain way the Rich Young Man in today’s Gospel reminds us of many young people today, who are asking serious questions about the meaning of our existence, why we are here and what we should do with our lives? What is true success? What is happiness?

Not only does the Rich Young Man ask the right questions, but he is asking the right person, Jesus Christ: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

When I ask confirmation candidates or classrooms I visit: How did Jesus answer the Rich Young Man? Invariably, I am told: Jesus said: “Go sell what you have, give the money to the poor and come and follow me.” That is correct, but it is not the first thing Jesus says. Jesus says if you want to inherit eternal life, keep the commandments. And the first commandment Jesus mentions is: “Thou shall not kill.”

This story of the Rich Young Man appears in all the synoptic Gospels. And Jesus’ answer always begins with: “Thou shall not kill.”

We are all here today because we are convinced that human happiness and inheriting eternal life require us to embrace this commandment: “Thou shall not kill or to express it positively, “Thou shall protect human life.”

The second command Jesus mentions: “Thou shall not commit adultery.” To express this positively, “practice chastity in your life.” 
We know that unwanted pregnancies often end in abortion. Many unwanted pregnancies are the result of a culture that is always encouraging promiscuity.

People who favor legal abortion claim they want to reduce the number of abortions. One of the logical ways to reduce the number of abortions would be to discourage the promiscuous behavior that is rampant in our culture. There are many instances of positive social changes that have been brought about by public consensus reinforced in advertising, educational efforts and use of mass media.

The campaigns against smoking and the public backlash against the promotion of tobacco in movies and on TV has done much to curb smoking and has contributed much to a healthier America.

The glamorization of promiscuity needs to be reversed by having people speak out against it the way people object to demeaning media portrayals of women and African-Americans. Like these, it is not a matter of passing laws but of changing what we deem as acceptable in society.

So Jesus’ first two instructions for happiness are: “Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not commit adultery.” Protect innocent human life, embrace the discipline of chastity which protects the transmission of life.

Jesus goes on to tell the Young Man to honor his mother and father. An important part of discipleship is respecting the family, nurturing relations, preserving the Family as the sanctuary of Life.

The Rich Young Man proudly proclaims that he had observed the commandments from his youth. That is really impressive. Not every Catholic can say that. Unfortunately, the Rich Young Man was so busy congratulating himself that he was totally unprepared for what followed. Jesus says thanks for keeping the commandments, but that is not enough. Jesus tells him: “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell everything that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.”

The young man said to himself: I am keeping the commandments, Thou shall not kill – I’m pro-life. Thou shall not commit adultery – I follow the discipline of chastity, and now I have to help the poor with my money? It is too much.

The Rich Young Man thought it was either/or, but Jesus is telling us it is both/and. We follow the commandments, we are pro-life and we help the poor.

The Gospel says he went away sad for he had many possessions. How dangerous money can be when it becomes our master. Jesus said: “How hard it is to enter the Kingdom. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Chesterton once said that ever since Jesus made this statement, scientists have been trying to breed smaller camels and engineers are trying to make bigger needles!

Part of the Gospel of Life has to be about loving and helping the poor. Indeed, reducing poverty will also reduce the number of abortions. Poor and low income women account for more than half of the abortions performed each year in our country. 

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium says that just as the commandment “Thou shall not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shall not kill” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have a throw away culture that is now spreading.

The Holy Father warns us both at Lampedusa and in Evangelii Gaudium about the globalization of indifference. He says, “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor as though they were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

The Pro Life movement in the Catholic Church is about overcoming that indifference, indifference to the suffering of a woman in a difficult pregnancy, indifference to the voiceless child who is destined to be part of the statistic of a million killed in the womb each year, indifferent to the poverty and suffering of so many.

Indifference is our greatest enemy. We see the antidote in today’s Gospel. The Lord looks at the confused young man, and St. Marks writes: “And he loved him.” The confused young man went away sad because he did not realize how much the Lord loved him. Had he even suspected I am sure he would have given the money away gladly, but in his insecurity and fear, he leaves. He goes away sad.

Christ has given us the formula for joy in the Gospel. We must learn to look on people with love. An attitude of judgmental self righteousness is not going to change peoples’ attitudes and save babies. We need to be the field hospital not Judge Judy. We need to be the merciful face of Christ in the way we promote adoption, aware of how difficult it is for birth mothers to choose that option. We also need to expand our outreach in Project Rachel to those whose lives have been devastated by abortion.

To change people’s hearts we must love them and they must realize that we care about them. They need the witness of our love and our joy. To evangelize is to be a messenger of joy, of good news.

The rich young man went away sad. He needed to meet someone like St. Francis, another rich young man who was filled with joy after kissing the leper and giving all his money and clothes to the poor.

As Pope Francis reminds us: “When St. Paul approached the apostles in Jerusalem to discern whether he was running or had run in vain”, the key criterion of authenticity which they presented was that he should not forget the poor. This important principle, namely that the Pauline communities should not succumb to the self-centered life style of the pagans, remains timely today when a new self-centered paganism is growing. We may not always be able to reflect adequately the beauty of the Gospel, but there is one sign which we should never lack: the option for those who are least, those whom society discards.”

To me, Mother Teresa is the model of the pro-life movement because she witnessed to the preciousness of life by her care for the poor. Her first ministry was collecting the dying people on the streets of Calcutta to take them to an old abandoned Hindu temple so that she and her sisters could take care of them so that they could die with dignity, surrounded by love. She called this “doing something beautiful for God.”

What must characterize the pro-life movement is a special love for the poor, the marginalized, the suffering, and especially human life that is in danger of being discarded.

When Helen Alvaré worked our Pro-life office she always told the Bishops: “Be positive. We are not against anything, we are for something. We are for life.”

At times we might be tempted to curse those who advocate for abortions and promote and defend this barbaric practice. But Paul tells us: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”

One of the wisest pieces of advice in Evangelii Gaudium is found in Paragraph 168. As for the moral component of catechesis, which promotes growth in fidelity to the Gospel way of life, it is helpful to stress again and again the attractiveness and the ideal (of the Gospel Way of Life). In light of that positive message, our rejection of the evils which endanger that life can be better understood. Rather than experts in dire predictions, dour judgments bent on routing out every threat and deviation, we should appear joyful messengers of challenging proposals, guardians of the goodness and beauty which shine forth in a life of fidelity to the Gospel.

We shall overcome the indifference only by love. A love that will allow us to see in every unborn child a precious gift, a fellow human being.
We must direct our love and attention to wherever life is most threatened and show by our attitudes, words and actions that life is precious, and we must not kill.

We must work tirelessly to change the unjust laws, but we must work even harder to change hearts, to build a civilization of love. Solidarity and community are the antidotes to the individualism and alienation that lead people on the path of abortion and euthanasia.

The rich young man left in discouragement because what Christ asked of him was difficult. The challenges we face are great and discouragement is our greatest enemy.

But know that Jesus is looking on us with love, His love should energize and unite us. No sacrifice is too great, we must not count the cost, but press on with the full assurance that We shall overcome.

Hudson Valley Magazine - Congrats St. Joseph's Men's Group!!!

Patrick Moore (left) and Dennis McCormack accept their awards for helping children in need.

Several Saturdays a month, Dennis McCormack, a longtime sourcing strategist at IBM, heads to St. Columba Roman Catholic Church in Hopewell Junction. For the past three years, the local resident has been an active member of the Men of St. Joseph group at the parish, discussing the Gospel and partaking in service projects alongside his neighbors. “Now that the kids are grown, I luckily have more time for volunteering,” he says.
On one such kind-hearted mission on behalf of the Capuchin Franciscans, McCormack ventured to New York City to help deliver donated furniture to a family that recently fled the violence and religious persecution of their native Egypt. Because of the presence of the St. Mary and St. Antonios Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens has fast become ground zero for Coptic Christian refugees. One of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the Egyptian Copts have been persecuted by the Muslim majority for centuries. The violence, including murders and gutting of churches, has been increasing in recent years. 
bunk beds
As a result of this sudden influx, many of the children in these floundering families are forced to share beds and sleep on floors inside narrow railroad-style apartments. When McCormack observed these gloomy conditions, he immediately thought bunk beds could be a viable solution. “More than one twin bed simply didn’t fit in these rooms,” he points out.
Along with Patrick Moore and Eric Winogradoff, fellow members of the men’s group, McCormack helped provide bunk beds — and everything from frames and mattresses to pillows and sheets — were given to needy kids between the ages of three and 18. Last spring, nearly 100 volunteers crafted 33 beds; in the fall, they turned out 44. “The beds are made from two-by-fours that we sand down, stain, and then polyurethane,” says Winogradoff, who works full-time building homes. “Afterwards, it looks like rustic furniture.”
The group has plans to continue making beds for the Ridgewood community at least once a year, but to make an impact on their home turf as well, they’ve collaborated with other charitable organizations to do the same for kids in Hopewell Junction and Poughkeepsie.
“It’s a lot of work,” says Winogradoff. “But there’s a need, so we will just keep going.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

From Cardinal Dolan - Tuition Tax Credits

Statement from Cardinal Dolan on Education Tax Credit 
Following is a statement of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the New York State Catholic Conference, regarding new developments related to the Education Tax Credit, which will encourage private giving to scholarship-making organizations for low- and middle-income families, as well as for programing in public schools: 

“Today is a historic day for education policy in New York State with the inclusion of the Education Tax Credit in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget, as well as the state Senate’s passage of Senator Martin Golden’s tax credit bill earlier in the day. These developments provide the best momentum to date for the eventual enactment of the tax credit, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of both houses of the state Legislature, and would help working and poor families regardless of where their children attend school. 

“On behalf of my brother Bishops of New York, I want to personally thank Gov. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senators Golden and Simcha Felder, Assembly Member Michael Cusick and all of our allies in the Legislature, in business and in organized labor who have been fighting for years on this issue. We have been told by Democrats and Republicans at the highest level of state government that this tax credit is a ‘no brainer,’ and we are overjoyed that a clear path toward enactment has been put in place by the Governor and Senate Majority today. 

“There were many other items in Governor Cuomo’s address today worthy of our comment, which will come in good time. But for today, we want to focus solely on the Education Tax Credit to drive home the point of just how critical its passage is for the future countless children across this state. Expanding educational opportunities is a clear matter of social justice, and we are so grateful for today’s actions.” 

The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.

Funeral Mass - Steven Michael Hart

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Steven Hart on Friday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for him, and especially for his wife and children.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"God Is Not Dead"

The movie is called - “God Is Not Dead.”
Josh Wheaton, a college student, enrolls in a philosophy class taught by Professor Jeffrey Radisson, an atheist, who demands that his students sign a declaration that "God is dead." Josh is the only student in the class who refuses to sign and is then required by Radisson to debate the topic with him,
A number of people encourage him to sign the declaration – but Josh cannot do it. How can he turn his back on his faith? In the process, his courageous stand causes other young people to consider faith in God.
Today, we hear the first words in the Gospel of John spoken by Jesus “What are you looking for?”  Which means:  What do you really want  -  what are you seeking?  What is your goal in life?  What is the meaning of your life?
Andrew responds – “Where are you staying?”   What is your foundation?  Where do you draw meaning from??
Jesus says -  “Come and you will see!”    Come see for yourself!
Andrew sees – then brings others to Jesus!     Brought:   his brother Peter -  young man with 5 loaves & 2 fish -  children  -   Greeks.     What he received he gave as a gift!
A neighbor comes out of his house with golf clubs – why don’t you come with me and play a round?   But Sunday means Church for me! I’m sorry. I’ve often wondered about your church and I admire how faithful you are. Funny, I always invite you to play golf with me. But you never invite me to go to church with you!
What brought you to church?
2% advertisement    6% invitation from a priest   6% outreach program    86% invitation from family member or friend!
St. Francis once asked a brother – come and preach with me. All day long they walked the streets of a town. At the end of the day, they began to walk home. Not once did Francis address a crowd.  Young monk said – I thought we were going to preach? We have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was observed. It is no use to walk to preach unless we preach everywhere we walk.   Preach the Gospel at all times – if necessary, use words!
Sometimes necessary to use words!!!
Survey of active Catholics – how do you pass on our beautiful faith?
1)  Books, CD’s, you tube videos
2)  Invite people to Catholic events
3)  Bring a godly perspective to conversations.
4)  Learn Catholic teachings on certain issues and be able to defend Catholic teaching in social settings
5)  Help people to discover answers to questions that cause them to doubt the Catholic faith.
6)  Demonstrate the love of God through service and generous action.
Action step – try to do one thing this week to share the faith!
Tell them you will pray for them – give a book or CD – learn about a church teaching and explain it  (like Pope on Birth Control)  -  invite someone to a Catholic event or Mass  -
What a difference it could make    drip drip into bucket – soon it will overflow!

Unless you think – God is dead?!

Funeral Mass - Irene A. Emmons

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Irene Emmons on Tuesday, January 20 at 11:30 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Funeral Mass - Rita Allen

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Rita Allen on Wednesday, January 21 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday

Monday, January 19 is the annual Dr. King Holiday. Morning Mass will be at 7:00 a.m. The Adoration Chapel will be closed. The parish office will be closed.

Funeral Mass - Norma Buon

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Norma Buon on Tuesday, January 20 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Funeral Mass - Pietro DeRosa

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Pietro DeRosa on Saturday, January 17 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Louie Pelella - Oldest Living Firefighter in Orange County - Rest in Peace

Thank you Father Joe for the opportunity to be back in the pulpit of Sacred Heart Church.     
Thanks Father Jack for celebrating this Mass. You are loved by the Pelella family.                   
Thanks for coming home again, Father Michael. You are one of the treasures of Sacred Heart Parish.                                                                                                 Thanks Master Sgt. Mary Kay Messenger – who is usually found singing at Yankee Stadium or with the West Point Band!

I told Father Jack when he arrived – be careful what you say – your parishioners are either all related or friends with everyone else.  You will also find out that Highland Falls has a number of “colorful” personalities!”
Like - I remember asking – almost 20 years ago - who is that old guy always walking on Main Street? Oh, you mean Louie. Your usher. The 5pm Mass began in 1970 – he has been the usher at almost every single 5pm Mass since then. Always faithful.

Louie has had a very interesting life – born during WWI – Woodrow Wilson was President – The year Alexander Graham Bell made the  1st phone call across the US.
He would serve our country in WWII – Iceland – stopped by day after Christmas – had to show me his latest book – Iceland – loved that place.
He thought he would lead the single life, but you Italian guys – watch out for those pretty Irish girls! He met Naomi – and along came Maria, Louise & Martha.

Many of us have 1 career, Louie Had two: 
West Point Mess - cooking for over 4,000 Cadets who needed to eat in 15 minutes?!!!  After 20 years he retired – then worked at Letchworth Village for 20 more years – cooking for group homes.

Obviously proud of his family, including his son in law Brad and his 3 grandchildren – Bradley, Brian and Benjamin. But he was also very proud of being a firefighter – 67 years. Cannot prove it, but we believe Louis was oldest active firefighter in Orange County – and perhaps in the whole country.  He was still doing fire police until the last few years – even then, went to the firehouse to watch things while the crew was out.

Firefighters -   not: how much money – where do you live – what color of your skin – but rather: how can I help – risking life for others! We are grateful for your service!

Difficult past few years – great to live long, but all your buddies have passed on. Plus, the body won’t work the way you want it to – very frustrated.
Family did great job caring for him – thank you Lorraine.
No regrets – be proud of the care you gave him, the safe home you provided him.

Now he has another home:
"In my father’s house . . .    

Rest now my fallen brother.
Rest well and forever.
Rest your tired hands.
Wipe clean your weary brow
Rest now with St. Florian.
Your spirit now endowed.
Rest here your weary heart.
We know you gave your all
Rest easy, you’ve done your part.

You’ve answered your last call!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Inclement Weather Today! Adoration Chapel is closed. St. Denis - St. Columba School Closed. The parish office may close early. Be safe!!!

Baptism - New Life In Christ!

Walk into a Catholic Church – expect to see certain things:
Altar – Pulpit – Tabernacle – Statues – Stations – Holy Water Fonts
Holy Water Fonts – Baptismal Water – bless ourselves to remember our Baptism.
We are all so different – yet one thing almost all of us have in common is our Baptism!
Feast of Baptism of the Lord – Great opportunity to recall what happened to us at our Baptism:
1)    What Name Have You Given This Child – unique identity “this is my beloved son/daughter” Pope Benedict: “Every baby, every child carries the face of God.”
2)    Signed with the Cross – mark of a Christian – part of God’s family, a community of faith. I am not alone.  1 Billion Catholics
3)    Oil of Catechumens – prayer is to be set free from Original Sin. Crack Baby – Mother’s addiction to cocaine. Baby is innocent but needs to be saved.  Born again into new life.
4)    I Baptize You – a washing away, a cleansing. But further: into the death and resurrection of Christ – with the promise of eternal life!
5)    Anointing with Chrism – Dwelling place, temple of the Holy Spirit.  Strengthened in Confirmation.
6)    Clothed with White Garment – clothed in Christ – outward sign of our Christian dignity. – we belong to God.
7)    Lighted Candle – Mission – let your light shine – bring light to a darkened world.

Two years ago Pope Francis was speaking at St. Peter’s Square: do you know the date of your baptism? January 20, 1955.  Find out – because that day changed everything!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'What's It Like For The Priest In The Confessional?

A Great Article by Father Mike Schmitz
"What's It Like For The Priest In The Confessional?"

I was once riding in a shuttle-bus with a number of older folks on the way from an airport.  They noticed that I was a priest and started asking questions about it.

“Do you do all of the priest stuff?”


“Even the Confession thing?”

“Yeah. All the time.”

One older lady gasped, “Well, I think that that would be the worst. It would be so depressing; hearing all about people’s sins.”

I told them that it was the exact opposite.  There is almost no greater place to be than with someone when they are coming back to God.  I said, “It would depressing if I had to watch someone leave God; I get to be with them when they come back to Him.” The Confessional is a place where people let God’s love win.  The Confessional is the most joyful, humbling, and inspiring place in the world.

What do I see during Confession?

I think there are three things.  First, I see the costly mercy of God in action.  I get to regularly come face to face with the overwhelming, life-transforming power of God’s love.  I get to see God’s love up-close and it reminds me of how good God is.

Not many folks get to see the way in which God’s sacrifice on the Cross is constantly breaking into people’s lives and melting the hardest hearts.  Jesus consoles those who are grieving their sins . . . and strengthens those who find themselves wanting to give up on God or on life.

As a priest, I get to see this thing happen every day.

I see a saint in the making.

The second thing I see is a person who is still trying – a saint in the making.  I don’t care if this is the person’s third confession this week; if they are seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it means that they are trying.  That’s all that I care about.  This thought is worth considering: going to Confession is a sign that you haven’t given up on Jesus.

This is one of the reasons why pride is so deadly.  I have talked with people who tell me that they don’t want to go to Confession to their priest because their priest really likes them and "thinks that they are a good kid."

I have two things to say to this.

1.  He will not be disappointed! What your priest will see is a person who is trying! I dare you to find a saint who didn’t need to God’s mercy! (Even Mary needed God’s mercy; she received the mercy of God in a dramatic and powerful way at her conception.  Boom. Lawyered.)

2.  So what if the priest is disappointed? We try to be so impressive with so much of our lives.  Confession is a place where we don’t get to be impressive.  Confession is a place where the desire to impress goes to die.  Think about it: all other sins have the potential to cause us to race to the confessional, but pride is the one that causes us to hide from the God who could heal us.

Do I remember your sins? No!

So often, people will ask if I remember people’s sin from Confession.  As a priest, I rarely, if ever, remember sins from the confessional.  That might seem impossible, but the truth is, sins aren’t all that impressive.  They aren’t like memorable sunsets or meteor showers or super-intriguing movies… they are more like the garbage.

And if sins are like garbage, then the priest is like God’s garbage-man. If you ask a garbage-man about the grossest thing he’s ever had to haul to the dump, maaaaaaybe he could remember it. But the fact is, once you get used to taking out the trash, it ceases to be noteworthy, it ceases to stand out.

Honestly, once you realize that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is less about the sin and more about Christ’s death and resurrection having victory in a person’s life, the sins lose all of their luster, and Jesus’ victory takes center stage.

In Confession, we meet the life-transforming, costly love of God… freely given to us every time we ask for it. We meet Jesus who reminds us, “You are worth dying for… even in your sins, you are worth dying for.”

Whenever someone comes to Confession, I see a person who is deeply loved by God and who is telling God that they love Him back.  That’s it, and that’s all.

In Confession, I see my own weakness.

The third thing a priest sees when he hears Confessions is his own soul.  It is a scary place for a priest.  I cannot tell you how humbled I am when someone approaches Jesus’ mercy through me.

I am not over-awed by their sins; I am struck by the fact that they have been able to recognize sins in their life that I have been blind to in my own.  Hearing someone’s humility breaks down my own pride.  It is one of the best examinations of conscience.

But why is Confession a scary place for a priest? It is frightening because of the way in which Jesus trusts me to be a living sign of His mercy.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once told priests that we scarcely realize what is happening when we extend our hands over someone’s head in absolution.  We don’t realize, he said, that the very Blood of Christ is dripping from our fingers onto their heads, washing the penitent clean.

The day after I was ordained, we had a little party and my dad stood up and made a toast.  He has worked his entire life as an orthopedic surgeon, and he was a very good one.  My whole life, his patients have come up to me at one time or another and told me how their lives have been changed because my dad was such a good surgeon.

So, there my dad was, standing in the midst of these people, and he began to say, "My whole life, I have used my hands to heal people’s broken bodies.  But from now on, my son Michael… um, Father Michael… will use his hands (at this point, he got choked up)… He will use his hands to heal broken souls.  His hands will save even more lives than mine have."

Confession is such a powerful place.  All I have to do is offer God’s mercy, love, and redemption… but I don’t want to get in Jesus’ way.  The priest stands in judgment of no one.  In the Confessional, the only thing I have to offer is mercy.

I get to sacrifice for you.

Lastly, when a priest hears Confessions, he is taking on another responsibility.

One time, after college, I was returning to Confession after a long time and a lot of sin and the priest simply gave me something like “one Hail Mary” as my penance.
I stopped.

“Um, Father…? Did you hear everything I said?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Don’t you think I should get a bigger penance than that?”

He looked at me with great love and said, “No. That small penance is all that I’m asking of you.” He hesitated, and then continued, “But you should know… I will be fasting for you for the next 30 days.”

I was stunned.  I didn’t know what to do. He told me that the Catechism teaches that the priest must do penance for all those who come to him for Confession.  And here he was, embracing a severe penance for all of my severe sins.

This is why Confession reveals the priest’s own soul; it reveals his willingness to sacrifice his life with Christ.
He sees our sins as a burden that he will take up (with Jesus!) and offer them to the Father, while offering us the mercy of God.

Remember, Confession is always a place of victory.  Whether you have confessed a particular sin for the first time, or if this is the 12,001st time, every Confession is a win for Jesus. And I, a priest, get to be there.  That’s what it’s like… I get to sit and watch Jesus win His children back all day.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Funeral Mass - Michele Swarner Kinsell

A Memorial Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Michele Swarner Kinsell on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 10:00 a,m, Please pray for her and for her family.

They Followed A Star!

They are known today as Caspar – Balthasar – Melchior:   the Magi from the East.
Asia – Africa - Europe       Young – middle age - old
Scripture tells us  -  they followed a star.
At the end of their journey, they found Christ!

1)      If we could interview the magi and ask them – why did you do this, why journey and follow a star?  -  perhaps they would say -  we were called
Carl Sagan once said that we are all made of star stuff – all matter comes from the furnace of stars.
But – that is ALL he would say.
The Christian would say more – we are infused with the gift of a soul.
Soul tells us – there is a purpose to our existence
Each person here has a purpose – a call
As we journey through life – we come to a deeper understanding of that call.
The Hobbitt - Bilbo Baggins -  he wanted to stay in hole in ground in his comfortable chair – but he was called on an unexpected Journey.    What is our call? – do we have the courage to follow it?

2)      They came bearing gifts:
Melchior - Gold – for a king   a kingly gift!
Balthasar – Frankincense – from the Boswellia Tree -  worth the same as gold - Incense – prayers up to heaven – for divinity
Caspar – Myrrh – Mysterious - From Cammiphora tree. Can be used as incense – also used in anointing a dead body. Worth 7X more than gold.   For the sacrifice  INRI
They gave their absolute best!

My parents were very good in this – not so much the grade – did you do your best?
Give our best – to our marriages – our parents – our families – work – school???

The question is – not the grade, but did you give your best?

3)      The Magi went back another way.
Did not trust Herod and rightly so -  but also
It is hard to encounter the baby and not want to go a different way
Could not go back to the old ways!
Gandalf asked by Bilbo Baggins – will I return? I cannot guarantee it, but if you do return, you will be changed.

They meet Christ – it changes everything -   how we look at ourselves – how we look at others - how we look at life!

Scripture says – they followed a star – they gave their best – and they went away, changed forever. Might the same be said of us!!!