Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 07 June 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 7, 2020

    Dear Parishioners,

    It's really important that we read and reread this short first reading from the Book of Exodus.  Let it form our mind.  Let it help our understanding of God.  We need this proper knowledge of the Lord if we are going to navigate the complexities of our moral and spiritual life.

    Moses returns up to Mount Sinai and Yahweh reveals another title by which he can be called: Lord.  I don't know about you, but I like using this title, Lord, for God.  Yes, I certainly use other titles when I pray and when I'm in relationship with God: Jesus, Father, friend, brother, Spirit.  'Lord' doesn't give me a sense of fear or servility in a bad way.  I like 'Lord' because it emphasizes for me that God is the one in control, not me.  He is guiding my life, he has a plan for me—a plan that is better than anything I could concoct—and that it is to my advantage to simply surrender to him.  Remember that "Surrender Novena" we prayed a few months ago?  The title 'Lord' is all wrapped up in that.

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25 Aug

We Are Called to Action

Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 25, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

You've all seen action movies.  I have in my mind this image, from so many movies, of the heroes trying to enter a sealed and guarded building.  They take a car or truck and bust through the gates. 

Our Lord says, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate" (Luke 13:22-30). Sometimes we have to "bust through" the narrow gate.  That is, we don't enter the narrow gate to heaven by squeezing through or taking the long route or by some trickery.  We take action and plow through. 

Jesus then says the following: "And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where you are from. Depart from me you evildoers.'"

25 Aug

Jesus is Lovable

Thomas Merton compared prayer to a firework.  Dialogueing or meditating is the shell being lit and sent up into the sky.  For the prayer to explode like the firework into the colorful pattern it must have love.  Whatever spiritual activity we may do, whether it is contemplation, rosary, petitioning, centering, lectio divina, it is not genuine prayer if we do not make an act of love for Jesus Christ.  Merton says the activity without love would be more accurately described as self-reflection or self-psycho analysis.  And this is merely the slight arc of a firework with no explosion; ultimately a dud.

25 Aug

Gospel, August 25, 2019

On the twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, the first reading is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 66:18-21. Isaiah 66 is considered part of Third Isaiah. It was written as a prophetic book following the Babylonian exile. The tone of this reading is apocalyptic. It looks forward to the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. God gives the nation the role of bringing back to Jerusalem “all your brothers and sisters” from the lands where they have been scattered. An essential purpose of the gathering of Israel and the nations is thus worship. The final verse of this reading seems to describe an extraordinary transformation.

25 Aug

The Kingdom of God

Marvel caught my eye again with their epic hero movie, Black Panther. I was especially gripped by the awesome kingdom of Wakanda. This very technologically advanced kingdom is embedded in the luscious jungles of Sub-Saharan Africa. How did such a combination of technology and natural beauty come to be? Way back in its history, a meteorite of unknown origin struck the kingdom. Within the space rock the inhabitants discovered a highly advanced metal which they called, virbranium. It has the ability to absorb, store and release large amounts of kinetic energy. The suit Black Panther wears is made of vibranium, and interestingly enough is the same material Captain America's shield is made from.

18 Aug

Gospel August 18, 2019

In the twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the first reading is from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah (38:4-6, 8-10). Jeremiah had announced, “This city shall certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon; he shall capture it.” His prophecy conflicted with the military strategies of the princes, who brought their accusations against him to Zedekiah who was a week and inconsistent leader, the last of Judah’s kings. They chose to throw him into a muddy cistern, intending to make him a humiliating spectacle whose prophetic word would be ridiculed. The king who had approve the violent action against Jeremiah orders Ebed-melech to rescue the prophet before he dies.      

18 Aug

Whatever happened to Shelly Pennefather

Villanova University has one of the best college basketball programs in the country.  Between the men and women's programs, 21 national championships have been won.  Many of the players have gone on to play in the NBA and WNBA.  The individual with the most points (2,408) in Villanova basketball history is Shelly Pennefather, who played from 1983-1987.  In 1987 she won the Wade Trophy, given to the best women's college basketball player.  She played professionally for a few years in Japan, as the WNBA did not yet exist, earning nearly half a million dollars in today's standard.  And then she disappeared.  "Whatever happened to Shelly Pennefather" read a recent headline. 

18 Aug

The Saints Are Cheering Us On

The Men's Club Golf Outing is next Saturday, August 24th. 

Golf is followed by an after-party in the parish courtyard. 

Thanks to all who organized the event!  

 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 18, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

Christ set the world on fire 2,000 years ago and it has been burning ever since.  The fire has been kept alive by the holy women and women who have lived the faith, in particular the saints.  And so it is the communion of saints that I want to focus on in this letter.

"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," says the Letter to the Hebrews, "let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:10). 

18 Aug

Sacramental Grace

Continuing on the topic of grace, let's first consider sacramental grace. These graces flow from each of the seven sacraments respectively. Each sacrament is a font for a particular grace, which we refer to as sacramental. Sacraments are sensible signs instituted by our Lord Jesus; they symbolize and confer grace.

15 Aug

The Feast of the Assumption of Mary

"On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed as a divinely revealed truth "that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, on the completion of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven."

By the fifth century, August fifteenth was kept at Jerusalem as the Commemoration of the Mother of God. In the sixth century the feast of Mary's Falling Asleep spread throughout the East Finally in the eighth century the day was celebrated as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"For Roman Catholic Christians, the belief in the Assumption of Mary flows immediately from the belief in her Immaculate Conception. Catholic Christians believe that if Mary was preserved from sin by the free gift of God, she would not be bound to experience the consequences of sin—death—in the same way we do. Mary's assumption shows the result of this freedom from sin—the immediate union of her whole being with her Son Jesus Christ with God at the end of her life." 

The Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus, before defining the dogma, reviewed the increasing awareness of this truth over the centuries, recalled the words of Holy Scripture which the fathers and theologians used to support their considerations and underlined this dogma's harmony with many other truths of the faith, such as Christ's resurrection and our own." Lives of the Saints, Augustine Kalberer, O.S.B.

"Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages." — Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII 

Munificentissimus Deus

Deiparae Virginis Mariae

Homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption

Called, Like Mary, to Be Filled with God's Word

"Mary's Immaculate Body was, in a sense, the origin of sanctification of all mankind. Her flesh was used to form the flesh of her Son; the flesh which he used on the Cross to destroy death and sin, and which he gave to us that we might rise from the dead. Was this flesh, Mary's flesh, Christ's flesh, the instrument of our redemption and resurrection, to be subject to the corruption of the grave?" — Rev. James M. Keane, O.S.M.

"The womb that bore Jesus Christ, the hands that caressed him, the arms that embraced him, the breasts that nourished him, the heart that so loved him — it is impossible to think that these crumbled into dust." — Father Canice, OFM Cap. 

The Assumption of Our Lady

Mary's Death and Bodily Assumption

The Vatican Council on the Assumption of Our Lady

Her Assumption Befits the Mother of God

"The spiritual powers receive her with honors due to God,
and she who is truly the Mother of Life departs unto life,
the lamp of Light which no man can approach, the salvation
of the faithful and the hope of our souls (The Feast of Dormition, Great Vespers, Lete, Tone 2*)."

"A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."

Hymn of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Crown of Twelve Stars

Beautiful, Glorious

Salve Regina

Novena Prayer for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Novena for the Solemnity of the Assumption

 

 

11 Aug

God's Gate

The most famous tower in the Old Testament is Babel, meaning "God's gate." It was man's attempt to reach God on his own ability.  This failed.  But there is another tower that can help us reach God, and that is the Tower of David—Mary.

The tower of David is a reference to Mary's physical beauty, her strength, security, steadfastness, and inaccessible womanhood.  Vigilance and ascent are other attributes of a tower.  We need to be vigilant in the spiritual life; on the lookout for pitfalls and sins that will lead us away from God and make us fall back into ourselves and, ultimately, into Hell.  We are, instead, to ascend upwards to God.  We cannot do this on our own, but only through the assistance of the Blessed Mother.  The Tower of David rises high into the Jerusalem sky.