Sunday, January 31, 2016

Blessing of Throats - Feast of St. Blase

Wednesday, February 3 is the Feast of St. Blase. It is a tradition to Bless Throats asking his intercession.  Here is our schedule:

After the 7:00 a.m. Morning Mass
10:00 a.m.
5:00 p.m.
7:30 p.m.

All Welcome!

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Every wedding – love is patient, love is kind – from 1 Cor 13
But what is love?  St. Thomas Aquinas – to will the good of the other. This kind of love is the source of what we call the Works of Mercy. Last week I reflected on the Corporal Works of Mercy – this week the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
1)     Counseling the Doubtful – Dad’s last year was very difficult. At one point: what have I done? We all have moments of doubt. Sharing in the Cross is difficult. Yet we believe Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Be a good listener – and strengthen their faith!
2)     Instruct the Ignorant – to learn about our Faith and be open to talking about it with others. The primary teachers of children: parents & grandparents. To assist – a Catholic School and School of Religion. (Thank you catechists & teachers!!!) For adults this Lent: Priest, Prophet & King and our Monthly Friday night events.
3)     Admonish the Sinner – Remove the wooden beam from your eye first, then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brothers eye. I am also a sinner – so learn the correct with humility – but do not be afraid to speak the truth.  Say something, then it is their decision. Sometimes this becomes Tough Love and not being an enabler.
4)     Comfort the Sorrowful – my sister Susan is having a challenging time. Chemo for 12 weeks straight. My sister Maureen and I have decided: she will not go to chemo alone. Walk with her.
5)     Forgiving Injuries –  On the cross: Father, forgive them. How often must I forgive – 7 times – no 70 times 7 times. Not an excuse to let people walk all over us – but letting go of grudges and hate. Do not let our anger become a cancer in our hearts!
6)     Bear Wrongs Patiently – Place your hope in God that we may endure the troubles of the world. Step away from the situation and pray for them.  Your children have stopped going to Mass? Yelling will not work. Be the very best example you can be – lead by example!
7)     Pray for the Living and the Dead – Mass Intentions- Pray our Sick List. Entrust your cares and concerns for those around you to God.
On Sabbatical – spent time in Avila – home of St. Teresa. She once taught:
 – Christ has no body on earth now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people!

In the end, these 3 remain – Faith, Hope & Love. And the greatest of these is love!

Friday, January 29, 2016

First Penance

The Sacrament of First Penance will be offered to our children on Saturday, January 30 at 10:30 a.m. We pray it may be an experience of healing, forgiveness and love.

Funeral Mass - Alessandro Santoro

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Alessandro Santoro on Saturday, January 30 at 9:00 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Get Ready For Lent - Message From Pope Francis

Following is the official English translation of Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2016, released today by the Vatican.
In the Latin Church, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016.
1. Mary, the image of a Church that evangelizes because she is evangelized
In the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that “the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17). By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging the initiative “24 Hours for the Lord,” I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God’s word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience first-hand. For this reason, during the season of Lent, I will send out Missionaries of Mercy as a concrete sign to everyone of God’s closeness and forgiveness.
After receiving the Good News told to her by the archangel Gabriel, Mary, in her Magnificat, prophetically sings of the mercy whereby God chose her. The Virgin of Nazareth, betrothed to Joseph, thus becomes the perfect icon of the Church which evangelizes, for she was, and continues to be, evangelized by the Holy Spirit, who made her virginal womb fruitful. In the prophetic tradition, mercy is strictly related — even on the etymological level — to the maternal womb (rahamim) and to a generous, faithful and compassionate goodness (hesed) shown within marriage and family relationships.
2. God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy
The mystery of divine mercy is revealed in the history of the covenant between God and his people Israel. God shows himself ever rich in mercy, ever ready to treat his people with deep tenderness and compassion, especially at those tragic moments when infidelity ruptures the bond of the covenant, which then needs to be ratified more firmly in justice and truth. Here is a true love story, in which God plays the role of the betrayed father and husband, while Israel plays the unfaithful child and bride. These domestic images – as in the case of Hosea (cf. Hos. 1-2) — show to what extent God wishes to bind himself to his people.
This love story culminates in the incarnation of God’s Son. In Christ, the Father pours forth his boundless mercy even to making him “mercy incarnate” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). As a man, Jesus of Nazareth is a true son of Israel; he embodies that perfect hearing required of every Jew by the Shema, which today too is the heart of God’s covenant with Israel: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5). As the Son of God, he is the Bridegroom who does everything to win over the love of his bride, to whom he is bound by an unconditional love which becomes visible in the eternal wedding feast.
This is the very heart of the apostolic kerygma, in which divine mercy holds a central and fundamental place. It is “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (Evangelii Gaudium, 36), that first proclamation that “we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another throughout the process of catechesis, at every level and moment” (ibid., 164). Mercy “expresses God’s way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert, and believe” (Misericordiae Vultus, 21), thus restoring his relationship with him. In Jesus crucified, God shows his desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from him. In this way he hopes to soften the hardened heart of his Bride.
3. The works of mercy
God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbor and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete, everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged. For this reason I expressed my hope that “the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy” (ibid., 15). For in the poor, the flesh of Christ “becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the crushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled … to be acknowledged, touched and cared for by us” (ibid.). It is the unprecedented and scandalous mystery of the extension in time of the suffering of the Innocent Lamb, the burning bush of gratuitous love. Before this love, we can, like Moses, take off our sandals (cf. Ex. 3:5), especially when the poor are our brothers or sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith.
In the light of this love, which is strong as death (cf. Song 8:6), the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow. It can even reach the point of being blind to Lazarus begging at their doorstep (cf. Luke 16:20-21). Lazarus, the poor man, is a figure of Christ, who through the poor pleads for our conversion. As such, he represents the possibility of conversion which God offers us and which we may well fail to see. Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5), which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the 20th century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.
For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practicing the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy — counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer — we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. By taking this path, the “proud,” the “powerful” and the “wealthy,” spoken of in the Magnificat, can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell. The pointed words of Abraham apply to them and to all of us: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). Such attentive listening will best prepare us to celebrate the final victory over sin and death of the Bridegroom, now risen, who desires to purify his Betrothed in expectation of his coming.
Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favorable a time for conversion! We ask this through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, encountering the greatness of God’s mercy freely bestowed upon her, was the first to acknowledge her lowliness (cf. Luke 1:48) and to call herself the Lord’s humble servant (cf. Luke 1:38).

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Corporal Works of Mercy

They were going home! In 583 BC, Judah was conquered by Babylon (Iraq) and sent into exile. Years later, King Cyrus of Persia (Iran) conquered Babylon (some things never change)  and then decided the Jewish exiles could go home.
Nehemiah their leader found 2 major problems:
-           The walls of Jerusalem were torn down. It had to be rebuilt or they would be captured again. Must reestablish the life of Jerusalem. Amazing 52 days!
-          And, they needed to be reconnected to their faith.  Most didn’t even speak Hebrew anymore. They found a copy of the Torah – what we call the Pentateuch or first 5 books of the Bible.  He had Ezra the high priest read it for 6 hours.  (you think this is long?)   The people were so moved that they wept.  They had forgotten who they were – what they were called to be.
After Nehemiah and Ezra, the Jewish people developed 2 places of worship
1)      The Rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem where prayers and sacrifices would be offered   
2)      Synagogues: wherever there were at least 10 families, a place was built for prayers and the reading of the Law & Prophets. There the community would gather every Friday night – to pray, to hear the stories and remember who they were.
Imagine the young Rabbi standing before them.  He goes to the Tabernacle holding the Sacred Scrolls, he picks out the prophet Isaiah and begins to read;     The spirit of the Lord is upon me.   Glad tidings to the poor – liberty to captives – recovery of sight to the blind – let the oppressed go free       2 meanings
- The time of the Messiah has come!!!
- and a challenge for his followers!
It reminds me of what are called the Corporal Works of Mercy   (Year of Mercy!)
1)      Feed the Hungry &
2)      Drink for the Thirsty:    Feeding our Neighbors Campaign & St. Vincent de Paul Society.
3) Cloth the naked and
4) Shelter the Homeless – Support efforts as we prepare for Midnight Run   Newburgh Ministry operates Winterhaven & always in need of volunteers.
5) Visit the Sick   give blood  -  Ministry of Care: friendly visits, phone calls, visits to they doctor, and emergency meal         Can you help?
6)  Visit prisoners – hard one – speak against housing mentally ill in prisons.
7) Bury the dead – offer them the proper rites and prayers and support those left behind.

Spirit of Lord is upon me – US – anointed me – US   -  to be Merciful!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pro Life Homily By Cardinal Dolan

The following is the homily from the Pro–Life Vigil Mass offered by Cardinal Dolan in Washington, DC on January 21.

Pro – Life Vigil Mass
National Shrine, January 21, 2016
“I know that God is with us, for God, in whose promise we glory, for in God we trust without fear.  What can death do against us?”
Those noble sentiments of this evening’s psalm are certainly our own as we keep a vigil ofthanksgiving for the sacred gift of life, a vigil of repentance for attacks upon life, a vigil ofsupplication for its protection.
Like that crowd around Jesus in this evening’s gospel, we, too, have followed the Lord here in large numbers, from all over this great country we cherish as our earthly home, trusting that, like He did in our gospel, Jesus will cure us and our nation from the “unclean spirit” that tempts us to treat the human person with less than the dignity he or she deserves, or human life with anything but the reverence and tenderness God intends.
During the first week of Advent, a sad but gripping episode captivated my home city of New York.  A tiny new born, umbilical cord still attached, carefully wrapped in a big, clean bath towel, was left – – get this – – in the crib of the manger scene in Holy Child Jesus Parish in Queens.  The infant had not been there long when people heard the crying and found the abandoned baby in the Nativity scene.
No one knew where the baby had come from, or who left him there . . . until, a week later, the sobbing mother, a young Mexican woman, remaining anonymous, told her story to a journalist.
She was so scared when she discovered she was pregnant, she explained to the reporter, that she told no one, not even the baby’s father still in Mexico, who was trying his hardest to unite with her and come to New York.  Not even her tia, with whom she was staying, was aware of her condition.  The Madrecita was so petrified, but wanted above all to bring her baby to life, and asked Jesus to take care of her child.
“Then the time of her confinement was over” . . . Let me read her narrative:
“I was so afraid, and, all alone in the house, suddenly went into labor.  I must have been in excruciating pain for at least two hours.  I started pushing because, each time I did, the pain let up.  I pushed for fifteen minutes and the baby, a boy, finally came out.  He didn’t cry at first, so I was afraid he was not alright.  I didn’t know what to do, so I left the umbilical cord on.  I wrapped him in a clean towel and started to look for some place safe and warm.
I’m very religious, so right away I thought of my church, Holy Child Jesus.  I go there a lot, and the priests and people are so good.  I just knew if I left him in God’s hands, my baby would be ok.  So, I ran into my church and put him in the empty crib.  Then he started crying.  I just hoped he was warm enough.  I hid in the back of church, knowing Father would find my baby and the people would help him.  They did . . .”
True story . . . and I submit it as Exhibit A in our case for promoting the culture of life.
God bless that baby – – who I hear is doing well and is named José after the foster father of Jesus; God bless that frightened, young mom who refused to believe in what Pope Francis has termed our “throw away culture”; God bless Holy Child Jesus Parish in Queens, for radiating such a spirit of welcome, joy, warmth, and outreach that our Mexican mother spontaneously knew her baby would be safe there; God bless this culture of life!
It’s not farfetched to imagine what might have happened: that mother’s legitimate and understandable apprehension and isolation could have led her to Planned Parenthood; she could have been going to a parish which she found unwelcoming, cold, impersonal, where she did not feel safe, near to the Lord, or at home, and where she would not have been inclined to turn in her crisis; or, in those fretful minutes after her baby’s birth, she might have run to a church to find it bolted–up, with a sign on the outside telling her, probably in English, to come back during office hours.  Thank God that nightmare remains only a “might–have–been.”
My brother and sister apostles in the culture of life: let every parish in our nation be Holy Child Jesus Parish!  Let every priest be like Father Christopher Ryan Heanue!  Let all our people be like those parishioners whose smile, greeting, welcome, and sense of love assured our young mom that her baby would be safe there!  In a world that often says “no room at the inn” to those in need, she found a manger, a sanctuary, in the Church!
Did you hear that a week or so after Christmas, the Holy Father made an unannounced visit to Greccio, the hill village where his patron, Saint Francis, had put up the first nativity scene.  There he told the surprised Franciscans — who were not expecting him, and had to quickly change from their relaxing, informal clothes into their habits — that all of us are called to make our lives, our surroundings, a nativity set, where the searching and the troubled are welcome, and where God can be reborn.
He then popped in at a youth meeting at the shrine, telling the startled but exhilarated teenagers that, just as we see God when we gaze upon the Holy Infant in the crib, so do we see the divine in the “smallest and most vulnerable” around us now.
Four months ago when Pope Francis entered Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, I was told by the trip organizers he would probably stop and greet some lucky people as he slowly walked up the center aisle.  I admit I had positioned some friends and major donors along that aisle, hoping he would shake their hands, with a little nudge from me.  As we stared up the aisle and I looked ahead, I did not know for sure if he would stop and greet my chosen; oh, but I could already make a sure bet on the ones I knew he’d hug: the newborn baby in its mother’s arms, the obviously pregnant woman; the little girl baldheaded from chemo; the elderly man bent over with Parkinson’s and arthritis; the policeman on a mobile bed paralyzed from a bullet taken in duty; the little boy twisted with cerebral palsy . . . and, sure enough, he embraced them all.
My brother and sister apostles in the culture of life, we need the interior radar, the eyes, heart, and hands of Jesus, of Pope Francis, to detect those at the side of the road, especially the tiniest and most fragile, the baby in the womb.
God’s word at Mass this evening tells us about a dramatic conversion of heart: Jonathan was able to convert his father, King Saul, from a fixation on death to a choice for life, convincing him not to murder David.
We are summoned to be such agents of conversion.  Yes, we do it by reasoned and compelling argument; sure, we do it by advocacy; you bet, we do it in law and political action; don’t forget, so obvious tonight, we do it by prayers and fasting . . . but we most successfully accomplish this conversion from the culture of death to the culture of life, from the “throw away culture”  to theculture of tenderness and mercy, by imitating those priests and people of Holy Child Jesus Parishin New York City, by acknowledging that Jose, that abandoned newborn baby, José was nowhere more at home than in the empty manger of their parish nativity scene, because he, too, is a child of God.
When the at-the-time agnostic author, Malcolm Muggeridge, asked Mother Teresa how in-the-world she could hug, kiss, bathe, and carry the dying, filthy, discarded abandoned beggars in the gutters of Calcutta, people, Malcolm Muggeridge admitted, that made him gag even to look at, soon-to-be Saint Teresa of Calcutta replied, “Because in them I see the face of Jesus.”
In the tiny baby, born or pre-born, we see the infant Jesus; in that child’s mother, especially when confused, scared, and hopeless, we see Mary at the crib of Bethlehem.
Fifteen minutes ago, our choir chanted, “Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has destroyed death, and brought us light and life!”
No wonder we replied, “Alleluia!”

March For Life

Sadly, for safety reasons, we had to cancel our bus for the March For Life. But we are still able to pray! Remember that the Lord is waiting for you in the Adoration Chapel today from 9am to 9pm. Pray in unity with those who March For Life!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Funeral Mass - Richard K. Falasco

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Richard Falasco on Friday, January 22 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for Richard and for his family.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Funeral Mass - Sister Mirabel Santiago, OBT

Sr. Mirabel Santiago, OBT, 53, died on Saturday, January 16, 2016 at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

Born on September 13, 1962 in Philadelphia, PA, she was the daughter of Aurelio and Milagros Santiago. She was a Graduate of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce and had worked in the business industry as an Executive Secretary. In 1990, Sr. Mirabel dedicated herself to the religious life as a sister with the Oblates to the Blessed Trinity. In 1991, she began teaching at their school, the St. Aloysius Happy House Learning Center in Hopewell Junction. She also directed the Religious Education program at St. Columba Parish for 5 years and worked at St. Mary’s in Poughkeepsie in 2015.

Sr. Mirabel will be remembered by all for her enthusiasm, her loving spirit, and especially her abiding faith which she so graciously shared with our community. Her legacy will remain in the hearts and minds of her current and former students for years to come. 

Sr. Mirabel is survived by her mother, 2 sisters, 2 brothers, and all of her sisters in the Oblates to the Blessed Trinity. She was predeceased by her father.

Calling hours will be held on Tuesday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm at the McHoul Funeral Home, Inc., 895 Route 82, Hopewell Junction. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday at 10 am at St. Columba Church, 835 Route 82, Hopewell Junction followed by interment in St. Denis Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made to the Oblates to the Blessed Trinity, PO Box 98, Hopewell Junction, NY 12533. For online condolences, memorial donations, driving directions, please visit Sr. Mirabel’s Book of Memories at

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dr. King Holiday

On Monday, January 18, our nation celebrates the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday. Our parish will have one morning Mass at 8:00 a.m. Our parish offices will be closed. The Adoration Chapel will be closed.

A Wedding At Cana

During the Advent & Christmas Seasons we worked our way through the Joyful Mysteries. Now, we have moved on the Luminous Mysteries – the Mysteries of Light
Baptism in the Jordan – Wedding Feast of Cana – Proclamation of the Kingdom – Transfiguration – Last Supper.      Wedding Feast: 3 Thoughts
1)      Years ago Johnny Carson interviewed an 8 year old boy. He had rescued two friends in a coalmine in West Virginia. As Johnny questioned the boy, it became apparent to him and the audience that the young man was a Christian. So Johnny asked him if he attended Sunday school. When the boy said he did Johnny inquired, "What are you learning in Sunday school?" "Last week, our lesson was about when Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine." The audience roared, but Johnny tried to keep a straight face. Then he said, "And what did you learn from that story?"  "If you're going to have a wedding, make sure you invite Jesus!"
A couple came in the other day to talk about their wedding. I thanked them. They told me – we want God to be part of our marriage. We want to be married before the Blessed Sacrament. Wonderful!     Father Chris & I are here to help! Also to help couples that did not get married in church.
2) Mary said to Jesus: they have no more wine.  As if to say - look at them, they have no wine, no spirit, no joy, no hope, no vision!  Mary intercedes on their behalf. Jesus said “Why does this concern of yours involve me? My hour has not yet come.”   Yes, it is your concern.      She reminds us of a role of the saints. We do not pray to them as God. We do not worship them.   As we might go to a friend here on earth, so we have friends in heaven that we go to.   They pray for us. They offer us comfort.  They give us examples of discipleship.  They help us on the way.     “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.”
3) Then we hear the last word of Mary recorded in St. John’s Gospel:  Do whatever he tells you!!!  They fill the water jars – 6 of them = to the brim – 20 or 30 gallons.  And now the water has become wine.   Perhaps to prepare us for the great miracle of the Eucharist?  A great way to live our lives.  Do what he tells us… Honor your marriage vows.   Pray together. Pray for one another.  Forgive one another.  Walk together in holiness and love.   Offer up the irritations.   Pray for consolations.  Listen to God.  He will always show us the right path!!

Boy was asked – what lesson did you learn?  invite Jesus to the wedding! Invite Jesus into your life. And wonderful things can happen!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Funeral Mass - Kathryn I. Litchauer

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Kathryn Litchauer on Saturday, January 16 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for her and for her family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Prayers Needed

I am quoting from a note from Sister Marie to the families in our School of Religion:

Most of us know Sr. Maribel and have the fondest memories of her time serving at St. Columba School of Religion.  Sister Maribel had a massive stroke (she has had cancer (Leukemia) and Diabetes.  She is presently at Vassar Hospital and her situation is grave.  For this reason your urgent prayers are requested.  Please also keep the Oblates to the Blessed Trinity in your prayers because they are suffering with their Sister.

Funeral Mass - Brian McMahon

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of Brian McMahon on Thursday, January 14 at 10:00 a.m. Please pray for him and for his family.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Funeral Mass - David Garcia

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered for the repose of the soul of David Garcia on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:00 a,m, Please pray for him and for his family.

Baptism Of The Lord

A Religious Education teacher was once asked: If Jesus was sinless, why did He need to be Baptized?  A good question!
Baptism is about:
-          forgiving sins, both personal sins and Original sin
-          uniting us with God
-          making one a member of the Church
-          and about the promise and hope of eternal life
Now - Jesus had no sins, He was already one with His Father, there was no church to be a member of as yet, and He has already existed from all eternity. So why be Baptized?
The simplest answer is – to show us the Way! As always, He leads by example!
1)      The Way to fight sin: from 2009-2014, Dutchess County has seen a huge increase in babies born addicted to drugs. This is not the fault of the child. Yet the child suffers due to the sin of another. Sounds like the state we are born into – Original Sin. We are surrounded by Sin and our sins affect others. Baptism gives us grace to fight against sin and temptation.
2)      The Way to be united with God. What is our goal in life? Millenials answered: 80% wealth & 50% fame. How about a better goal? How about happiness and health?  And how can we achieve that? Studies show that Relationships are the key. At Christmas, we met Jesus human family: Mary & Joseph. At the Baptism, we meet His Divine Family. The Father says “You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.  In Baptism, we hear:  “You are my beloved Son. You are my beloved daughter.”  Jesus makes us part of His family. Relationship with God is a key to happiness & health.
3)      The Way to live as members of the church. We walk together on this journey of faith, assisted by:
Eucharist – food – some are starving themselves.
Confession – to break the power of sin and restore us to Baptismal state
Confirmation – confirm presence of HS and 7 gifts
Marriage & Holy Orders :  strength to live in life long relationships
Anointing – you are not alone in suffering       Also parish   eg Ministry of CARE
4)      The Way to Eternal Salvation – all about hope! Even in death, there is the possibility of eternal life.

What was the most important day in our lives?   Probably could give many answers, but today’s Mass suggests one day – day of Baptism.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

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
Stay true to your call!!!   Even when your husband or wife gives you a hard time!  Even when your college roommate thinks you are crazy!  Even when your friends make fun of you!  Even when your co-workers ask why do you bother???

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
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 children - 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!
The hobbit Bilbo Baggins was about to depart on his Great Adventure– he asked Gandalf:  will I return? Gandalf said: I cannot guarantee it, but if you do return, you will be changed.

When we meet Christ – it changes everything -   how we look at ourselves – how we look at others - how we look at life – how we act toward one another – what we say – what we do.

Today we remember the story of the Magi  – they followed a star – they gave their best – and they went away, changed forever.  Sounds like it could be us, too! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Holy Name

President Bush (43) was once visiting a nursing home. A resident was giving him a good looking over. The President spoke to him “Do you know who I am?”  Resident replied – “No, but if you speak to those nurses over there, I am sure they can help you!”
We like when we are called by name. We also can get annoyed when someone gets our name wrong. That’s why before every single baptism, wedding or funeral that I do, I write down the names. Because, even if I know the person, sometimes I draw a blank.   Why is that? Maybe because I am about to get another year older?!
Scripture readings today talk about names:
1)     First reading from the Book of Numbers says “Bless the people in the Name of God.”  Moses spoke to God – who should I tell them is sending me???   I Am Who Am – Yahweh.  Such an awesome name it is not pronounced.  When it is written, the vowels are left out. Commandment – Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
2)     Paul to the Galatians – as children of God, we can also call Him by another name “Abba.:  Jesus said, when you are to pray, say  “Abba”     Daddy.   An intimate word. Points to a relationship. God is awesome and all powerful, and He is also Our Father!
3)     3) Eight days after his birth, Jesus is presented in the Temple by his parents. They are asked to name him. His name in Hebrew is Yeshua, a form of Joshua  -  Means: Yahweh saves!   Paul writes that this is the Name above every other name.  At His name every knee should bend and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. 
A baptism – the first question parents are asked  -  What name have you given your child? 
A name in society suggests a contract
Society recognizes that this individual exists and has responsibilities toward that child.
A name a baptism suggests not just a contract but a covenant =   this is a child of God, entrusted to this family to be cared for!!
A child of God! If only we could understood this, it changes everything!!!! 

Someone may ask us: Do you know my name?  Our answer could be: I may not but God does. But I know this : you are a child of God!!!