Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Assisted Suicide - Catholic Action Network

From the Archdiocese of New York:

Three similar, but not identical bills have been introduced in the Legislature -- A.2129 (Rosenthal), A.5261 (Paulin), and S.3685 (Savino).  Each of these bill is deeply flawed, both in concept and in execution.  The New York State Catholic Conference memo of opposition for A.2129 is here:    http://www.nyscatholic.org/2015/02/s-3685-savino-a-2129-rosenthal-a-5261-paulin-in-relation-to-legalizing-physician-assisted-suicide/.  In addition to criticizing that specific bill, the memo contains the  more general arguments against legalizing assisted suicide.  A pdf copy is attached.  

Here is an action alert from the Catholic Action Network so people can communicate opposition to their elected representatives: http://www.nyscatholic.org/nys-catholic-conference-action-center/.

It's important to know that we are not alone in opposing this legislation.  Our allies in the Evangelical community are standing with us, as are Agudath Israel (the largest organization representing the Orthodox Jewish community), the New York Medical Society (which represents doctors statewide), and "Not Dead Yet" (a leading disability-rights group).

There has been a good deal of attention to this in the media.  Here is a very good interview by Cardinal Dolan:  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/timothy-cardinal-dolan-fight-bill-assisted-suicide-article-1.2107898Here is a recent op ed by Senator Savino in favor of her bill:  http://www.silive.com/opinion/columns/index.ssf/2015/02/give_fatally_ill_patients_the.html#incart_river.  And here is an excellent response to Senator Savino’s bill from a lawyer/former Family Court Judge: http://www.silive.com/opinion/danielleddy/index.ssf/2015/02/sen_savinos_end-of-life_bill_i.html.

We can't tell yet if these bills will move to the floor of the Legislature this session.  But the time is ripe for public education, starting with our churches.  We will be sending out more resources soon, and will be posting them on our website: http://www.archny.org/assisted-suicide

Monday, February 23, 2015

Synod On The Family - Survey Questions

In preparation for the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October 2015, the faithful are invited to share their input with the Archdiocese of New York. Through an online set of abridged questions that have been developed and approved for this purpose, the people of the Archdiocese will have an opportunity to reflect and respond thoughtfully on how the Church can serve families in their vocation and mission to love. Questions are accessible via the Family Life † Respect Life website: www.nyfamilylife.org/synod
Note - Must be completed by March 5!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Repent and Believe In The Gospel!

Father Chris & I were driving back from St. Denis
We were helping with First Penance
He looked over – isn’t that a sad sight – a golf course covered with snow! – you are making me so sad – at this rate it will melt by May!

Crazy to see golfers on TV – shirt sleeves – not fair.
One who is missing is Tiger Woods – his game is a mess!
He has not won a major in over 5 years ago – to the day when his wife chased him with a golf club – and he drives into a fire hydrant.
Three months later – he explained himself on TV

He said – “I had worked hard my entire life – now it was time to enjoy the temptations around me. I was entitled  -   And with money and fame, I did not have far to go.”

1)      He said – I didn’t think about who I was hurting – I just thought of myself.
Root of sin is a selfishness – to think only of me – what do I want?  Sin does not give thought to how it might affect others, my marriage or priesthood, my work, how it affects children, how it affects God.

2)      He said – I stopped living core values – normal rules did not apply,
We would say – some things are sinful and are always sinful, no matter who you are.
Understanding boundaries and living by them.
To live a life of integrity      -    Baptism – you are my beloved son – my beloved daughter!

3)  I remember he was surrounded by friends at interview – frankly, where were they? What were they doing? Yes, Tiger had the responsibility – but did anyone call him on this?   He was on a destructive path. Were they willing to lose job or friendship? Many would not – we call this enabling.

We are reminded then, why Lent is so important – to go out into the desert and really look at things – what we are doing, how we are acting, what we are saying – and how does this reflect on us as children of God?

Some practical advice: 
What settings are you in when you fall? Avoid them.
What props do you have that support your sin? Eliminate them.
What people are you usually with? Avoid them.

There are two equally damning lies Satan wants us to believe: 1) Just once won't hurt. 2) Now that you have ruined your life, you are beyond God's use, and might as well enjoy sinning.

So is there hope for Tiger? Jack Nicklaus says Tiger still has a chance to beat his record. More importantly, Tiger still has a chance to do things right, to become the person God wants him to be. We all have that chance! Repent and believe in the Gospel!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Today is a Day of Fasting and Abstinence from Meat. Blessed Ashes will be distributed according to this schedule:

7:00 a.m. Mass - after the homily
9:15 a.m. Service - at the conclusion (school children will attend)
12:00 noon Mass - after the homily
3:30 p.m. Service - at the conclusion
4:45 p.m. Service - at the conclusion (school of religion children will attend)
7:45 p.m. Service - at the conclusion (school of religion children will attend)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

President's Day - Monday, February 16

President's Day 2015

Morning Mass at 7:00 a.m.
Parish Offices are closed
Adoration Chapel is closed
St. Denis - St. Columba School is closed
Enjoy the Holiday!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Pope Francis - Message for Lent 2015

Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2015 was published by the Vatican on 27 January 2015 on the theme ‘Make Your Hearts Firm’ (Jas 5:8). Read the full text below:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.
When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference.
Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.
God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.
God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.
  1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26) – The Church
The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn 13:8) and thus can serve others.
Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor12:26).
The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.
  1. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities
All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)?
In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways.
In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).
We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.
In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people.
Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!
  1. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians
As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?
First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lordinitiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.
Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.
Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.
As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.
During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.
It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you.
From the Vatican, 4 October 2014
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Surgery Update!

I had hernia surgery yesterday (Wednesday) at Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital. The doctor was pleased with the results. I am very sore and tired but otherwise good. Thanks for all your prayers! I must take it slow for a few days. I hope to be of help on Ash Wednesday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9 Closings

Our Parish Offices are closed today.
St. Denis - St. Columba School is closed today.
The Adoration Chapel is closed today.
Parish Programs and Activities are cancelled for today.
The Parish Council Meeting scheduled for tonight has been moved to Monday, February 23,
Be safe!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Why?" - God's Answer Is Jesus

It is a very familiar train.
If you live in Chappaqua, it is the best way to NYC.
Just a typical work day, but now 6 people are dead.
In one way you can understand it. Bad things happen when you stop a car on railroad tracks.
But what about the other five?– just coming home from work – but they never reached home.

Why? –Why is there pain & suffering?  an age old question.
Book of Job:  Sometimes life is such a burden – days drag on with work & worry & illness. Or night comes, and you just can’t sleep – too much to think about.
Some would use suffering as an argument against God
– because if God is all good, all powerful or all knowing, how can this be?

The book of Job tries to wrestle with this question.
Job’s friends suggest that he suffers because he deserves it.
Job will have no part of that.
He is God fearing and righteous and does not deserve to suffer as he does.
He has lost everything:  children, servants, possessions.
Yet he will not curse God or let go of God. – but he will complain and who can blame him???
The answer of the book of Job: Someone reads 1 page from a book – how can you possibly understand the whole book? How can we begin to understand the ways of God?

Some things we do know –
-         In order to have free will one must have the possibility of suffering. Many will misuse this gift. Much suffering caused by human beings. Even with cancers – what’s in our food or the air we breathe?
-         Many of us have experienced suffering as a way to grow morally and spiritually. Any compassion I have is connected with my own suffering.
-         Suffering binds us to one another.

What is God’s answer???
Many of us would say: God’s  answer is Jesus

1)    After the Last Supper – he went to the Mount of Olives to pray.
This time – he did not want to be alone. Many times he moved away. This time he asked Peter, James and John to stay close by.
A request for solidarity at the moment he felt the approach of death. We need each other!

2)    He said “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here and keep awake”
Shows how he felt fear and anguish. He understands all the horror a person feels at the prospect of death.

3)    He now moves away and throws himself on the ground – a position of prayer –
Invitation for us to pray – to place before God all that we are going through.
 “that he may give us hope, make us aware of his closeness and give us light.”

4)    “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible: remove this cup from me, yet, not what I want but what you want.”
Our Father – Your will be done
God has a will for us and with us. Each day try to hand over to Him.
Must learn to have greater trust in His love. Repeat this yes every day. This is not easy to do! A prayer to repeat every day.

I Asked God . . .

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier

NOTE - The Reflection on "Gethsemene" inspired by Pope Emeritus Benedict from a Wednesday Audience.  Also helpful - Msgr. Robert Barron reflections on Job.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

From Father Michael

It is very important to get an annual physical! My annual physical last November revealed some abnormal moles on my skin.  After seeing a specialist and having a biopsy, one was revealed to have melanoma. I will now see a surgeon to have it removed.
The physical also revealed a hernia. Rather than wait for it to be a chronic or dangerous problem, I have decided to have it repaired. I will undergo outpatient surgery on Wednesday, February 11. I have cleared my calendar for one week so that I will have time to recover. I certainly hope all will be well by Ash Wednesday. I thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Funeral Mass - Dorothy M. Cyran

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Dorothy M. Cyran on Friday, February 6 at 11:30 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Funeral Mass - Joseph Tuccillo

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Joseph Tuccillo on Wednesday, February 4 at 11:30 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Feast of St. Blase - Tuesday, February 3

Come and have your throat blessed asking the Intercession of St. Blase!
7:00 a.m. - Mass
10:00 a.m. - Service
4:45 p.m. - Service
7:15 p.m. - Service

Monday, February 2 - Presentation of the Lord

Another Snow Day!
The Parish Office is closed.
St. Denis - St. Columba School is closed,
The Adoration Chapel is closed.
All meetings and programs are cancelled for today.
Our next attempt to have a "Ministry of Care" Meeting will be on Saturday, February 21 at 11:30 a.m. in the Library.

On this Feast Day we give thanks to God for all who have consecrated their lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We give special thanks for the Sisters of the Resurrection who serve here so faithfully and for the Sisters at St. Aloysius Convent who have educated generations of young children in our area. We pray that more young people might consider a Vocation to the Religious Life!

"American Sniper" and the Reality of Evil

The movie “American Sniper” is the story of Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal and the most lethal sniper in US history.
Early in the film, Chris Kyle’s Dad tells him – there are three types of people in the world:
-         Evil wolves that threaten the sheep.
-         The sheep who are good people, but they can be harmed because they don’t understand about the existence of evil.
-         The sheepdogs that protect the sheep.
Chris Kyle understood himself to be a sheepdog. He knows that evil is for real. He is out to protect the sheep and his fellow soldiers.

Sheepdogs are not the only ones protecting the sheep! There are also shepherds!  Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He cares for the sheep as well. He also understands that evil is real! He wages a different kind of battle against evil – a spiritual battle – which is even more important!
Man with unclean spirit enters the synagogue:   unclean spirit: something out of place in the spiritual sense, not in order, something opposed to the holy.  Demon.
Cries out  “What have you to do with us?”     Plural is frightening.    Trinity = unity    Evil = disunity.
Jesus says “Quiet! Come out of the man!”
What are we to think of this in our modern world of medicine and psychology?
Can’t this be explained just as a healing of an illness?  Clearly many times yes, but not always.
I have done enough spiritual counseling to see the effects of evil in people’s lives.  The presence of evil is real and can sometimes overtake people. 

Pope Francis speaks about the evil one quite often. He says there is no shadow of a doubt – a battle exists in which the eternal salvation of us all is at stake!   Look around – just read the paper!
Pope has some challenges for us:
1)    “Salus Animarum Suprema Lex” What can be more important than eternal life or the loss of it? Get serious about the salvation of souls! 
2)    King Philip sent a note to John about his brother, Richard the  Lionheart:  “Look to yourself. The devil is loose!”  Pope challenges us to fight against complacency: watch ourselves and guard our hearts. Protect the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Make a Daily examination of conscience.
3)    Fight against worldliness – living the way of the world. Live the way God truly wants us to!
4)    Fight against hate – hated comes from the devil. Never hate but serve others. Pray and live in joy.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd has entered into the struggle against evil.  Never forget this, in the words of Pope Francis: “God is stronger!   God is stronger!”    

There are many debates about the movie – American Sniper.
I don’t ever remember a movie ending in dead silence. Not a word was spoken in the theatre.
I, personally, found it helpful to experience war through the life of a soldier.
I, who have not served, will never fully understand, but we have been reminded of the huge sacrifices made by our military, and the effect their service has had on their families.  When they come home, they need to be properly cared for. That includes veterans of Vietnam and Korea, who may never talk about it.  There has to be more than “Thank you for your service.”

Our nation must not let them down.