Sunday, December 27, 2015

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Holy Mass will be celebrated:

Morning Mass on New Year's Eve at 8:00 a.m,
New Year's Eve at 5:30 p.m.
New Year's Day at 10:00 a.m. and 12 :00 noon

Parish Office Hours
New Year's Eve - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
New Year's Day - Closed

Adoration Chapel
Closed on New Year's Eve & New Year's Day 

Happy New Year!

Holy Family - "The Finding of Jesus in the Temple"

We have been working our way through the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary

-          Annunciation     (Immaculate Conception & OL Guadalupe)
-          Visitation     (4th Sunday of Advent)
-          Birth of Jesus  (Christmas)
-          Presentation of Jesus  -  Jan 1
-          Today - Finding of Jesus in the Temple.

The Temple is long gone – Destroyed by Romans in Year 70
All that is left   so called Western Wall or Wailing Wall  built by King Herod.
Jews believe “Shekinah” – the Glory of God - still dwells there.
So it continues to be a holy place:
Place of Prayer:  150 psalms each day.
Of Ceremonies:  bar & bat mitzpha
And Great discussions and teachings    can you picture Jesus being there?

How could he have been left behind?
Funny age – 12   turning boy to man
Up to 12 – raised by mother and women.
Around 12 – passed over to the men – which was a hard transition for many.

Men & women always traveled separately
So Mary thought – he’s with Joseph     Joseph thought – he’s with Mary
Go searching – found Him in the Temple.
“Did you not know I had to be in my father’s house?”
In other words – why didn’t you check here first?

1)      Raised him centered on God
Brought him to temple  -   you are our son, and you are also a child of God.
Raised him with religious traditions  -   they lived it out.

2)      A reminder that there is no guarantee it will work out the way we plan.
Do our best – and then hand it over to God.
Can we trust that God is at work?

3)      Child was obedient to them. His parents tried to fulfill their responsibilities – They listened to Him, nurtured him, educated him, cared for him, tried to keep him safe. This is the true Mission of the family, and when this is done, the world is a better place! In turn, boys and girls should trust that their parents know what they are doing – have your best interests in mind -  would not hurt to say YES more often!

So today we celebrate the Holy Family. And we pray for all of our families:

O God, you have created us in love and saved us in mercy, and through the bond of marriage you have established the family and willed that it should become a sign of Christ’s love for his Church. 

Shower your blessings on these families gathered here in your name. Enable those who are joined by one love to support one another by their fervor of spirit and devotion to prayer. Make them responsive to the needs of others and witnesses to the faith in all they say or do.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Traditions

The composer Gustav Mahler once said Tradition is not the worship of Ashes but the preservation of Fire. It sounds like the Olympic torch relay – pass the fire on from one person to the next. Same is the passing on of traditions.  Most people I know have Christmas Traditions. One for me is a trip to NYC.
1)      To see the Tree. We New Yorkers at least call it the Tree – Rockefeller Center. It is gorgeous! Of course, it is a wonderful symbol –
Evergreen = eternal life
Lights = the light of the world
Star = Bethlehem  or  Angel = announcing Good News.
Another favorite tree is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   Leads to second Tradition:

2)      Nativities –At the Met it is set upon the ruins of the Roman Empire.  Nativities were inspired by St. Francis, who was concerned that people did not understand the meaning of Christmas. In 1223 in Greccio, Italy he created the first live Nativity – he called it a crèche (French for cradle) Villagers played the parts and brought their animals. After Francis read the Gospel, he went over and picked up the baby, and held the baby in his arms
And so they understood: God became a baby – God became a human being – God became one of us!!!     An awesome thing!

3)      A Third Tradition – the Windows! So creative.  I was happy to see Macy’s is paying tribute to the 50th Anniversary of a Charlie Brown Christmas. Always a special place in my heart – 38 years ago a group of seminarians put the play on for about 300 inner city children – and who was Charlie Brown?
You know the story – Charlie Brown is directing the annual Christmas Play. He decides he needs a Christmas Tree for the set. He see lots of flashing, beautiful artificial trees. Then, he sees a tiny, skimpy looking real tree with a few branches and the needles falling off. CB said – “it seems to need a home.” All the children laughed at the tree, and finally, Charlie Brown says – “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is all about?”  That’s when Linus recites tonight’s Gospel.

“It seems to need a home” – sounds like an act of mercy  – isn’t this the Year of Mercy?
2 days ago, a Catholic Priest in Lexington Kentucky stood on the street dressed as a beggar. He held a sign: Will you help? Give/receive.   Anyone who gave him something received $100.00 in return.  One man said: now I can get my kids Christmas presents. A homeless man gave him $.50.   Blessed are the merciful-mercy shall be theirs!
One last great Christmas Tradition – what we are doing now -  Christmas  -  Christ Mass  -  Mass of Christ – Word becomes Flesh and Dwells Within Us!    How awesome is that?!     Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

4:00 p.m. in Church
4:00 p.m. in School
6:00 p.m.

9:00 a.m.
10:30 a.m.
12:00 noon

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Ark of the Covenant

They called it the Exodus  --  their journey from slavery to freedom
In the course of the journey, a man named Moses was invited to climb a mountain.
Mount Sinai       There he would meet God.
On that mountain he received what is now called “the Decalogue” – the 10 Commandments – Laws that would keep the community on the path to God

The people of Israel treasured this gift from God and eventually built a container for them   Called it the “Ark of the Covenant”
Placed inside:  two tablets -  jar of manna – staff of Moses

They carried the Ark everywhere they went  - when they stopped they put it under a tent called the Tabernacle.  At times a cloud called the Glory of God would descend upon it   They called it the “Shekinah”

When David became King he took the Ark up to Jerusalem
Bible describes David   “dancing before the Lord”   “skirtao”
Later, his son, Solomon  - built a temple & the Ark was placed in the “Holy of Holies”

586 BC   Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem
2 Maccabees suggests that Jeremiah hid the ark in the mountains.
Everyone has been looking for the ark since them – including Indiana Jones.

Many years later, an angel appeared to a young woman of Nazareth
“Hail full of grace   -   the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you!”          “shekinah   same word!
Mary said - I am the handmaid of the Lord – let it be done to me according to thy word.
Moment of the Incarnation.
She becomes the dwelling place of God.       The ark in human form!!!

Mary – arose -  “anistemi”   same word for resurrection.   went across the hill country – to a place just outside Jerusalem.  Ein Kerin – where her cousin Elizabeth lived
Elizabeth said: “Blessed are you among woman” -   like David  John the Baptist leaped before the ark  “skirtao”

Theotokos  -  God bearer   bring God’s light, God’s joy!!!

Jewish Tradition – There is an Ark in every Synagogue – contains Torah scrolls
Every Catholic Church has a Tabernacle  -  holds the Eucharist  - true presence of Jesus

But both are limited by place
When WE Receive Holy Communion  -   we become Arks as it were
Like Mary, WE have the opportunity to bring Jesus wherever we go.

We can bring Jesus – Home, to school, the store, to the game, to work
We have purpose – God’s needs us to bring Jesus there!!!

God bearer!!!

An Article About Confession by Father Mike Schmitz

This is excellent and worth reading!

I was once riding on a shuttle-bus with a number of older folks on the way from an airport. They noticed I was a priest and started asking questions.
“Do you do all of the priest stuff?”
“Even the confession thing?”
“Yeah. All the time.”
One older lady gasped. “Well, I think that would be the worst. It would be so depressing hearing all about people’s sins.”
I told them it was the opposite. There is almost no greater place to be than with someone when he or she is coming back to God.
I said, “It would depressing if I had to watch people 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 he or she is seeking the sacrament of reconciliation, it means the person is trying.
That’s all 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 they don’t want to go to confession because their priest really likes them and “thinks I’m 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 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 movie — 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 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 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 saying he or she loves him back.
That’s it, and that’s all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Funeral Mass - Donald F. Emmons, Sr.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Donald Emmons on Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.

Funeral Mass - Virginia Claire Menchen

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Virginia Menchen on Friday, December 18 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Reconciliation Monday

All Parishes in the Archdiocese of New York will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Monday, December 14 from 4:00 - 8:00 pm. Please take advantage of this opportunity to prepare our hearts and souls for Christmas!

Prepare The Way of the Lord!

Doing Christmas shopping – saw Santa, Frosty & Baby Jesus – no JB
On the way to Bethlehem – we must cross the Jordan River.
This is where we meet that unusual figure – John the Baptist
Some consider him the last and greatest of the OT prophets.
Jesus took him very seriously “among those born of women none greater than JB”
Church celebrates 3 birthdays
-          Jesus – Dec 25           Mary – Sept 8      JB – June 24

He spent a great deal of time in desert – no distractions – listening to God.
Here is fruit of his desert time:

1)      Teaches about Humility
“I am not worthy to untie his sandals” & “he must increase and I must decrease.”
Humility – this is not putting oneself down.
Realize – in certain areas of life – things happen that I cannot control  -  Talk with nephew Kevin – you are praying for my Mom, right? Treatments will help & I will be with her next Friday – but you are praying, right?     I Need a Savior.   I need Eucharist  -  I need prayer  -   I need God!

2)      Teaches about Repentance
Elf on the shelf – a scout sent by Santa from the North Pole – helps Santa manage his naughty and nice list -  family adopts – goes to NP each night to make his report about what you were doing.
A tough one – I would not stand a chance  -  see: Baptist knows I will sin, but I also need a place to go so I can be forgiven!
Nothing like a good confession!!!  Reconciliation Monday. Monday 4-8

3) Teaches about Integrity
He was a person of principle & conviction – told the truth with love
Soldiers – nonbelievers – do not practice extortion, do not accuse anyone falsely.
Tax collectors - believers but not practicing – stop collecting more than prescribed
Faithful ones – whoever has 2 cloaks should share with the person who has none. Whoever has food should do likewise.
Walk the walk -   be the same person at church, in school, at home & work.

On our way to Bethlehem – need to stop at the Jordan River.
John will be waiting for us
To teach us about humility -  repentance  -  integrity.

To help us prepare the way for the Lord.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception

Tuesday, December 8 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses will be offered on Monday, December 7 at 5:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and at 7:30 p.m.

Funeral Mass - Zita V. Losey

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Zita Losey on Saturday, December 5 at 12:30 p.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Wedding - Robert Paone and Victoria Mapes

The Bonds of Holy Matrimony will be exchanged by Robert Paone and Victoria Mapes on Friday, December 4 at 4:00 p.m. Please pray for this couple about to be married.

Back From Sabbatical

I have returned from my Sabbatical! It is good to be home. I am grateful to all of you for your patience and your prayers, and especially to Father Chris, Gary Bartilucci and our entire staff for carrying on in my absence. I am thankful for Father Emmanuel, who is now serving at the Church of St. Patrick in Highland Mills.
I had a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. I lived in Rome and studied at the Institute for Continuing Education at the Pontifical North American College. I had the opportunity to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain and earn my “Compostella.” I lived in Lourdes, France for one week and served as Confessor. I concluded my time in Scotland with a visit to Iona Island. Thanksgiving Day found me praying at the Tomb of St. Columba.

I now look forward to celebrating with you the Birth of Our Savior and serving you in the New Year of 2016. Please know that throughout my Sabbatical you were never far from my thoughts and prayers. May God bless all of our parish families throughout this Holy Season!