This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - July 7, 2017

Dear All: 

 

As Paul wrote to The Thessalonians: “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The more we contemplate God’s goodness, the easier it becomes to celebrate our dependence on God. If our God were a thorny god or a vengeful god or a dismissive god, who would want to declare dependence? But our God is everything we could hope for. The last Sunday in June reminded us that our God is infinitely compassionate and caring and loves us profoundly, even in those circumstances that suggest God has lost interest in us. Of course we want to re-declare our dependence on such a God.

 

The readings of July 4 weekend also nudge us to re-declare our dependence on God. Those readings remind us that God constantly enables us to find our way to the people who multiply life’s joy, divide its grief, and help us to say “yes” to God. They might not change our worlds, but they provide priceless company.

 

God enabled Elisha to find his way to the inspiring woman of Shunem, let’s call her “Claire.” Not only did Claire supply Elisha with food and first-rate lodgings, she enabled him to keep saying yes to God. Elisha first encountered Claire after his treacherous engagement with the Moabites and just before his negotiations with Naaman the Syrian. Perhaps Claire’s assistance kept Elisha from giving up during those difficult times.

 

Sunday’s gospel reading comes from Matthew’s tenth chapter, the “missioning chapter.” This week’s passage contrasts sharply with most of chapter ten. Having warned the disciples that hardship is inevitable, Jesus now tells them that some people will receive them and, on murderously hot desert days, supply cold water. Jesus is pointing to the Claires they will meet along the way. 

 

What about you? Who have been some of your Claires? Like Claire in the Elisha story and the water-providers in the Gospel, they might very well be people you didn’t know before the Claire-moment. Was it a coach or a teacher who restored you to self-confidence or help you set more inspired goals? Maybe it was a doctor or a nurse who steered you toward healthier choices? Was it a neighbor you don’t know too well or maybe someone at work? Perhaps the person was not a member of your inner circle but was still an agent of consolation and inspired self-assurance. Who have been your Claires and what is the best way for you to return the kindness? And finally, on Independence Day, we wonder about the persons who have enabled our nation to keep evolving toward the nation that God calls us to be. God bless them and God bless America.

  • The renovations of our Blessed Sacrament Chapel are basically finished, but our staff and our Buildings and Grounds Committee continue to welcome suggestions. Thanks to the parishioners who recently recommended that we replace the small votive lights with longer-lasting, glass enclosed candles. The candle changes will start to unfold next week. Be sure to let me know if you like the minor tweak.

  • Attention parishioners who bring communion to your home-bound loved ones – Most of our home visitors are EMs who went through the group training that Bill Gibson senior so graciously provides for those who would be EMs at Mass. They bring communion to parishioners who are homebound for relatively long stretches and who they did not know before the visits began. A very small number of other parishioners are bringing communion to loved ones who are homebound for short periods – e.g., the duration of chemo treatments. These EMs have been trained by me. If you are one of those EMs – i.e., trained by me to bring communion to a temporarily homebound loved one – please consider completing the training to be a regular EM. Also stop by the office for the updated instructions concerning your Eucharistic visit.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This Week in Service:

  • Attention all servers – Your team names are IN!!! They will be posted on the servers’ bulletin board this weekend. You have until August 1 to suggest a new name. Thanks to the team leaders who submitted some terrific names.

  • More “attention all servers” – The competition to “lift high the candles” is reaching new heights. As more servers are grasping the notion that the goal is to make the candles visible to everyone in church, the flames are climbing. Please don’t strain yourselves but please keep them way high. Should we have cash and prizes for the team with the consistently greatest altitude?

  • A little advanced notice – the Buildings and Grounds Committee is organizing its list of small projects that small groups of parishioners could complete in a very few hours – e.g., clearing brush from part of the prayer path, pruning a few bushes and trees, etc. The list consists of projects that would be nice to have completed but never get to the top of our staff’s “to do list.” Maybe think of organizing a small crew?

  • Boundless thanks to all the members of our community who donated to our Catholic Heart Workcamp 'Giving Tree'. The scholarships are being put to good use helping to offset the cost of taking 54 young adults (and slghtly older chaperones) on a mission trip. 

This Week in Community:

  • This week’s “First Wednesday” Mass and celebration was our most-attended yet. Thanks to everyone who showed up and extra thanks to all who provided the great food. First Wednesday? The time each month when the 8:35 Club (i.e., the regular attendees at 8:35daily Mass – along with the occasional attendees) take a moment after Mass to enjoy superb carbs and caffeine and sing robust rounds of “Happy Birthday” to all present who celebrate birthdays that month. Put it on your calendar. Our next wing-ding is Wednesday August 2nd.

  • Attention would be ARCHIVISTS – Through the work of two very dedicated parishioners, we are making great progress in sifting and winnowing many of our old documents. Once the sifting and winnowing is complete, we will need help in organizing. If you have ever worked as a librarian or an accountant, or if you have that great mix of imagination and attention to detail, we could use you.

  • Pay extra special attention to the signup sheets for the Patriot Stadium ministry.There have been a few changes in the schedule. There is still plenty of room on the lists for newbies. See you at the game!

Hoping you are having a terrific week and enjoying consoling moments of connecting the dots between your happiness and God’s boundless love.

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 30, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Here’s to a fun, safe and attentive Fourth of July for every parishioner. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Our celebrations of July 4 encourage us to thank God for the many forms of independence we currently enjoy. The same celebrations might also prompt us to notice our ways of being dependent. 

 

Some modes of dependence are uninspired. They require fixing. Dependence on destructive relationships and bad habits invite declarations of independence. Dependence on God is another story. Dependence on God is supremely good. We grow when we recognize and re-declare our dependence on our caring God – as in “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

 

Last Sunday’s first reading, from the middle part of the Book of Jeremiah, details the prophet’s woes. The local officials want to destroy Jeremiah. His friends have betrayed him. His “yes” to the Lord has carried him into horrendous straits. Yet, despite the nightmare, Jeremiah does his best to recall God’s care and compassion. He summons the strength to assert “The LORD is with me.” That simple declaration says, “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.” The claim rescues Jeremiah.

 

 Last Sunday’s gospel comes from Matthew’s tenth chapter. It is the “missioning chapter” in which Jesus sends the disciples into the world and advises them how to proceed. Jesus warns them that they will surely encounter violent resistance. He asks them to remember that, when the going becomes exceedingly rough and the notions of God’s care and love seem absurd, God cares profoundly. Matthew invokes the image of God’s care for sparrows. If God is attentive to the sparrows, surely God will always keep a caring eye on the apostles. Jesus is clearly hoping that, when the apostles find themselves in crisis, they will find the courage to say, “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

 

What about you? In what difficult periods have you mustered the will to say “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.” You surely used different words, but chances are you have made an equivalent statement to God. When have you done that? When have you re-declared dependence on God even when doing so felt illogical? And who might need to know that you're going has had its rough times and that, even in those rough times you found the courage to re-declare your dependence with “God, I know you care and I will keep depending on you, even though I have my doubts.”

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to all the senior servers who took time out of their busy summer schedules to show the new servers how it is done. And a great big welcome to our new servers – we are very glad to have you on our teams

  • Thanks to Wendy Carter and Bob Ferretti for getting 28 new people through Virtus training last night. By having Virtus these trainers right in the parish, we make it much easier for more parishioners to get the certification that enables them to serve in many settings. Stay tuned for more sessions. Onward!

  • Thanks to Phil Russo and Miriam Larson for accompanying 11 more households through Financial Peace University. And of course great thanks too to Rich Realbuto for getting the program going at St. Joe’s. The dozens of people who have completed the program since last year have collectively eliminated tens of thousands of dollars of debt and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in savings. Their households are far more peaceful and grace-filled than they were in the days of debt and distress. May this program continue to flourish. And congratulations to the most recent batch of graduates. By acknowledging that you felt called to a better way, and by pursuing that better way, you are an example for every parishioner.

  • Nearly 350 students have already registered for next year’s religious education programs. And they have all done so at the pre-July, discounted rate. In a spirit of holiday benevolence, Mr Jungels has just decreed that the discount will stay in place until Sunday night at 11:59 pm. Hurry in for the savings!

  • Happy holidays to all those that supported our Catholic Heart Workcamp Giving Tree this month. The money raised will be used to offset the tools and supplies that we will be bringing with us to Tennessee as well as supporting some families finding it difficult to swing the $600 camp cost. If you haven't returned your check yet you can still do so - just make it out to "St. Joseph", write "CHWC" in the memo and put it in the "Poor Box" this weekend. 

  • Speaking of CHWC, the Knights of Columbus have received a matching gift from their organization to assist the youth ministry with our costs for the trip. Big blessings to all the Knights!

This Week in Community:

  • Three cheers for our “Holy Rollers,” the recently founded “Saint Joe’s Motorcycle Club.” The founding members had a terrific ride through delightful landscapes the Sunday before last – before ending up at the Hillsborough Diner for home fries and bacon. The bikes included Harleys and Kawasakis AND two electric bikes. If you have had the urge to bike, use church as your excuse to do so.

  • Once again, we are making great progress in our effort to get every parishioner anointed as soon as they need it. As we strive for even more progress, please let me or the office know if you would like the Sacrament of the Sick. Also, please let us know if someone close to you has expressed a desire for the Sacrament.

  • Pay extra special attention to the sign up sheets for the Patriot Stadium ministry. There have been a few changes in the schedule. There is still plenty of room on the lists for newbies. Reporting from my own experience, it is great fun. If you have always wanted to sell beer or work a cash register, use church as an excuse to do so!

  • The Pumpkin Patrol is in full swing - there are more pumpkin mounds planted and the garden is looking great. Looking forward to a bountiful harvest in the fall! While we’re waiting lookout in the coming weeks for some other garden delights growing in our community garden. All donations will go towards the local community foodbanks.

I send this with best blessings for all of you and your loved ones and your celebrations of July 4.

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 22, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Greatest thanks to every person who helped to channel extra grace and inspiration into Saturday’s4:45 Mass. The musicians outdid themselves and enriched our prayer in profound ways. Thanks for the kind words and for the very amusing video at the end of Mass and thanks for the extra sacristans, EMs, lectors, and ushers who kept the train on the track. And absolutely – it will be 25 years before we have another 90-minute Mass!

 

And still more thanks to every person who made the picnic so excellent. Thanks to the members of the staff and the volunteers who planned it and implemented the plans. Thanks to the members of the Youth Group who procured food for those who needed a bit of extra help. Thanks to everyone who set up and cleaned up. Thanks to everyone who joined the party and thanks to those who were there in spirit. It was an extraordinary moment of community fun. And thanks to whoever arranged the rainbow’s appearance.

 

Finally – thanks for the kind wishes and cards. I will be replying in the next few weeks. You have been terrifically kind. It will take a while for me to soak it all in. Thanks for being patient with me. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

God has built a spiritual compass into each of our souls. It points us toward our peace and God’s glory.

 

The bishops of the Vatican Council referred to that spiritual direction-finder as a “voice” that emanates from “deep within (our) conscience” (Gaudium et Spes n 16). The bishops continue, “(that) voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells him inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that . . . There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”

  

We can call it a “voice” or call it a “compass.” We can call it anything we want as long as we honor it. 

 

Sunday’s first reading from Deuteronomy, like the second reading from First Corinthians, refers to the troubles that result when we ignore that inner spiritual compass. Moses’ audience in the first reading ignored that compass over and over and ended up wandering in the desert for 40 self-inflicted years. Paul’s audience in the second reading, because they have ignored that spiritual compass, have befouled their celebration of the Eucharist and heard Paul begging them to rethink their habits.

  

Sunday’s gospel, for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, reminds us that those who receive the Eucharist remain in Christ and Christ in them. My personal compass is very much tied up in that bedrock truth. My personal compass has been pointing for decades toward remarkable Eucharistic communities and celebrations of Christ’s presence – in the bread that has become his body and the wine that has become his blood. My experience teaches me that the spiritual compass sometimes points us in scary directions we would rather not pursue. Experience also teaches me that those scary steps are made all the more doable by the presence of “priests, prophets and kings” – priests who pray with us and for us, prophets who console us and challenge us, and kings who welcome us into the community and encourage us to build it up. 

  

What about you? Who are some of the priests and prophets and kings for whom you are most grateful, precisely because they helped you honor your spiritual compass when it pointed in a scary direction? Who has been there to remind you that “the call only takes you where God’s grace holds you?” And for whom is God asking you to be there now? To whom does God want you to be present and kind and non-directive as they conjure the courage to step out in a scary direction, in relationships, in their professional or academic or spiritual or community lives? For whom is God asking you to be a reminder “It’s OK to follow your compass”?

This Week in Service:

  • Thanks to all the Liturgical Ministries – (Sacristans, Lectors, EMs, Servers, Leaders of Song, Ushers) – who made the new sign-in process work so well. It is very much an experiment but this weekend’s results seem to suggest it will make life much easier for many. Thanks and let me know if you think the forms need to be tweaked.

  • There are still tags on the giving tree! If you are in a position to support the Youth Group’s trip to Tennessee, please take a tag. Thanks.

  • Attention anyone who needs Virtus training, or is thinking of joining a ministry that requires Virtus training – the training session scheduled for here on Thursday, June 29 is almost fully booked. The next session will most likely be scheduled before the start of the school year. 

This Week in Community:

  • June 28 is the 19th anniversary of the dedication of the new church. Big blessings for all who were there. Big blessings for all who were there and are now gone to God. Big blessings for all who made the new church possible 

  • “Becca's Friends”, our parish ministry of and for people with special needs, enjoyed a terrific Father’s Day afternoon of baseball Patriot Stadium. And the afternoon wasn’t spent in just any old seats. It was spent in the comfort of the Somerset County Freeholder's box.  The group had a memorable day and was delighted by a visit from Sparkee, Slider, and General Admission. Thanks to all who made it happen.

  • We are making great progress in our effort to get every parishioner anointed as soon as they need it. As we strive for even more progress, please let me or the office know if you would like the Sacrament of the Sick. Also, please let us know if someone close to you has expressed a desire for the Sacrament.

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 15, 2017

Dear All: 

 

What a remarkable grace it is to write to you as your pastor. I am profoundly grateful to God and thankful to Bishop Checchio for the privilege of sharing this adventure with you. May God continue to bless our time together in remarkable ways. Yours is a parish greatly inspired. I am delighted to make my home with you.

 

This Week in Prayer

 

Make amends, Encourage one another, Agree with one another, Live in peace.” Saint Paul’s advice in Sunday’s second reading is solid gold counsel for community-formation. The first letters of each phrase give us the easy-to-recall mnemonic M.E.A.L.

 

“Make amends” comes through in some translations as “Mend your ways.” Either way – “mend” or “amend” – he was telling the divided people of Corinth, “Notice the ways in which you have hurt others and apologize and don’t do it again.”

 

“Encourage one another” is about cheering each other on to use well the spiritual gifts that Paul discusses at length in this letter. Don’t resent others’ talents. Don’t try to put others’ lights under bushel baskets. Do just the opposite. Remind them of how much the world needs them and urge them on.

 

“Agree with one another” isn’t about being a milquetoast or a mush and caving in when others hold differing views about how to proceed. It’s about doing the work of recalling common ground (those things on which we all agree, like “Christ is Lord”) and doing the work of reaching consensus. It’s about turning potentially destructive tension into highly productive and dynamic tension.

 

Finally, “Live in peace” is more of a summation than an additional bit of advice. If you do the M the E and the A, then the L will take care of itself. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians is simple: Do these things and the peace of Christ will dwell in your community and in your heart.

Jesus reminds us, in Sunday’s passage from John 3, that his mission is to bring us all into a first-hand experience of the Trinity, the perfect community. He wants us to be blissful for eternity. He wants to bring us into heaven’s direct encounter with the Trinity, whose feast we celebrated last weekend. Until we step into that community, we do the best we can right here and right now by following Paul’s advice for community.

Sunday’s first reading, the story of Moses trying to reboot the community after the golden calf debacle, anticipates Paul’s advice. It reminds the people of the Exodus that their greatest desire is to have The Lord stay in their company. That requires them to make amends with the Lord, to recognize the Lord’s astonishing acts of encouragement along the way, to agree with God always says, and to live in peace with God.

 

What about you? In which of your most important communities (immediate family, extended family, work place, team, play mates, neighbors, ministries at church, social organizations, parish, political groups) is the M.E.A.L. good and where does it need work? In which settings are you getting it right with each other and, together, getting it right with God? And where do you need to work on your M.E.A.L., knowing that God wants to help you build and experience inspired communities until the time you experience the Trinity?

This week in service:

  • All Liturgical Ministries – (Sacristans, Lectors, EMs, Servers, Leaders of Song, Ushers) – this weekend starts the new sign-in experience. The smartly designed sign-in sheets on the medallion stand will enable us to know that all jobs are covered or that we need to recruit. Thanks for your help.

  • Special thanks to George Meyers for his non-stop work on the parish grounds. Same to Ann and Josh Riding and Jo-Ann Delasko. Without you, our church grounds would not look so spiffy. 

  • Thanks to all for supporting the Youth Group trip to Nashville this summer. If you haven’t already taken a tag from the giving tree, and you are able to help them purchase $15 or $50 worth of tools and supplies, please take a tag and return the money so we can purchase the paint brushes, rollers, scrapers etc. If you are on a tight budget, zero worries. Say an extra prayer for them. We have much to celebrate in this summer’s work week. 

This week in community:

  • Thanks to all – the staff and handful of volunteers -who have organized Saturday’sfestivities. If the weather is lousy, so what? Bring a pop up tent if you have one and if you don’t celebrate under the big tent or in the parish hall. Please keep in mind, this celebration is ultimately about our parish and God’s gracious support of it for the last 152 years. Good for all of us! 
    **Editor’s Note: this event is to celebrate the grace that God has given all of us - but in this particular instance, it is to celebrate Fr. Hank’s 25 years of serving as a disciple of Jesus and leading others to fuller communion with Him.

  • It’s never too soon to think of being a CCD teacher next year. Contact Jim Jungels JJungels@stjosephsparish.com) if you think that MAYBE the Holy Spirit is prompting you in this direction.

  • If you are interested in working with our youth in any of our ministries - CCD, Blue Storm Basketball or Youth Ministry, you need to be Virtus trained. Great news - we are offering the Virtus training right here at St. Joe’s on Thursday, June 29th at 6:30pm. Sign-up today - there are only 6 spots left!

  • Did you run the St. Joe’s 5K? Are you interested in your time? View the race results here!

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 9, 2017

Dear All: 

 

As Paul writes in this coming Sundays’ second reading, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

 

This Week in Prayer

 

You decide if it is good news or bad news: the season of white vestments is basically over. The white vestments came out of storage for Easter and were worn each of the next seven Sundays. Then came a lone day of red for Pentecost (last Sunday). The white vestments come back off the hangars this coming Sunday (Trinity Sunday) and next Sunday (June 18, The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). Then, on June 25, they go back into storage and the green are seen until Ordinary Time ends on November 26.

 

Why the tutorial in liturgical holidays and colors? To point out that the Sundays from Easter, April 16, until Corpus Christi, June 18, belong to the same batch of Sundays. The Sunday readings for this cluster of Sundays generate many questions, one of which concerns the inspired desires God has built into our DNA.

 

The Pentecost readings remind us that our hearts possess an inextinguishable desire to be competent prophets. Our very human nature gives us that desire. Our baptisms and confirmations intensify it. We might use different words to describe that urge, but one way to describe that urge is the desire to be a competent prophet who does a fine job of consoling others when that is in order and a fine job of challenging others, generally by our example and occasionally with words.

The great news is that Jesus says loud and clear “I believe in you and I believe that you have what it takes to be a competent prophet.” Pentecost Sunday’sGospel depicts Jesus saying, “As the Father has sent me so I send you.” Think about it. Jesus is comparing the apostles and all His true disciples (including you) to Himself. That is an astonishing endorsement. He then confers the Holy Spirit to reinforce their/our prophetic abilities.

 

Another favorable comparison emerges in the passage from the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke’s description of the Pentecost. The tongues of fire that descend on the apostles are meant to remind us of the fire that came down when Moses climbed the mountain to receive the Torah. Luke’s version of Pentecost thus compares the apostles to Moses. That’s another astonishing endorsement for them and for you. It clearly reveals God’s confidence in their/our ability to function as competent prophets.

 

Just about every day finds you doing the work of a prophet – mostly consoling others and sometimes challenging by example. Parents do it all the time. So do kids. Teachers rarely stop doing it and the same can be said of effective ministry leaders. Pretty much everybody does it in some way. Once in a while, however, especially when the going gets a little scary, each of us needs to be reminded that we have what it takes to be a competent apostle, one who has Jesus’ affirmation, one who has what it takes.

 

What about You? What helps you remember that Jesus is telling you “I believe in you?” What helps you hear his gentle message of affirmation? Our missteps and sins surely remind us that we aren’t perfect and that is good, but what helps you believe in your ability to be a great prophet in your sphere? What helps you know that your God-given desires to console and challenge others is matched by God-given abilities to do so? Is it certain types of prayer? Spiritual reading? Spiritual conversation? Art? Music? Exercise? What helps you?

 

This Week in Service

  • Altar Servers – Please let me know what name you would like to give your altar servers’ team. I suggest you go with a favorite saint, or perhaps a place or a group mentioned in the bible. Be as creative as you can be! 

  • Hats off to all the parishioners whose donations of food enable us to help our local food banks 52 weeks a year. Great thanks also to all who get the food from church to the food banks. 

  • Special thanks to the team of ladies who made our church look so beautiful for Pentecost. The doves raining down on us as we entered church last weekend was truly uplifting.

  • If you are interested in volunteering at St. Joes and need to get your Virtus certification we have good news! Register for a Virtus training that will be held right here at St. Joes on Thursday, June 29. Virtus is required for anyone working with youth. 

 

This Week in Community

  • Great thanks and blessings for the generous members of the Parish Council and Finance Council who have completed their terms. Thanks to Mike Seelig, outgoing chair of the Parish Council and to Parish Council members Billy Gibson, Anthony Carter, Frank Colpini and Carl Mueller. Great thanks as well to Bill Strawderman, outgoing Chair of the Finance Council, and to Finance Council members John Lanahan, Jim Blum and Donna Manuelli. To each of these persons, the parish owes a great deal.

  • And for the incoming members of both councils, best blessings for you as well! Nina DeLucia, currently a member of the Parish Council will serve as chair from this July until July, 2019. Joining the Parish Council are Dottie Lukazik, Bernie Demsky, AnnaMaria Realbuto, Natalie Zucarello, Amy Dahl and Bill Strawderman. Thanks to Beth Martello who has agreed to chair the finance council from this summer until the summer of 2019. Mike Seelig will be joining the Finance Council. Four other people are currently discerning the prospect of joining the councils. Best blessings for all.

  • After considerable effort by staff members Brian Gilmurray, Monica McDevitt and by members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, the five-year spending plan for parish facilities’ upkeep and restorations is nearly complete. Soon after this week’s Finance Council review, the spending plan will be made available to the entire parish. The simple goal is to plan ahead to keep our facilities safe and welcoming while avoiding the emergency expenditures that always cost more than planned spending.

  • Great thanks to our workers from Hillsborough High and to their job coaches for making our workers’ time here so successful. We thank Jim, Mark and Wayne for their great work and we thank Lesia and Tammy for their job coaching.

  • Its never too soon to think of being a CCD teacher next year. Contact Jim Jungels if you think that MAYBE the Holy Spirit is prompting you in this direction.

  • Join us as we celebrate Fr. Hank’s silver anniversary on June 17. We start with 4:45mass and then we party. We’d like to know how many people to expect so if you haven’t already done so, please fill out this simple form

I send this with best blessings for all of you

 

Fr Hank

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - June 2, 2017

Dear All: 

 

Thanks to Bob Ferretti for organizing last week’s “This Week.” Retreat was excellent. 

 

This Week in Prayer

 

The Easter Season’s Sunday readings continue to highlight the inspired desires God has built into our hearts. Last Sunday it was about the desire to pray – the desire to speak to God and listen to God. God gave us those urges. We decide how to play them. This week’s readings highlighted the question of praying with others, both being with others when we listen to God and being with others when we speak to God.

 

The first reading describes a terrifically bittersweet moment in the apostles’ lives, the moment immediately after Jesus’ Ascension. They suspected that they would never again encounter Jesus that directly yet they knew they had a special mission to take up. When they left the “mount called Olivet,” they did not go separate ways. The eleven men and accompanying women returned to the Upper Room – together – where they “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.” The story suggests they were most eager to listen to God – together.

 

Sunday’s gospel comes from John 17’s “High Priestly Prayer.” Jesus prays there for himself, his nearest and dearest, and those his nearest and dearest will influence. The passage depicts Jesus praying intensely and within earshot of the disciples. John provides no suggestion that the disciples fell asleep before Jesus’s arrest. The disciples do not share in the prayer but they accompany Jesus while giving him room.

 

Both readings invite us to delight in our resemblance to Jesus and the disciples. Like them, we possess a God-given desire to pray. The readings also invite us to check in on our ways of praying. Our speaking to God and listening to God is sometimes meant to be a private and sometimes meant to be a shared experience.

 

What about you? Do you feel like you have the right balance of private and communal prayer? Are their people with whom you can pour out your heart to God? Do you have people in your life with whom you can pray petitionary prayers? And how about the listening? With whom can you swap insights about God’s various invitations? Dozens of people participate in parish programs that facilitate shared listening to God – i.e., Walking with Purpose, the Spiritual Exercises, Cornerstone and the Youth Group Prayer experiences. And of course Mass is the perfection of us being together to listen to God and to speak to God. But what about in addition to Mass? Do you think you are maintaining an inspired balance of private and shared prayer? If not, what might be an appropriate next step?

  • Continued blessings for all the young people who were confirmed this Spring and have moved into the ranks of “Young Adults.” It will be good to see many of you this weekend at the “Confirmation Reunion Mass.”

  • And more continued blessings for people who made their First Communions in May and continue to receive the Eucharist each week. It gives me and others great joy to hear you report after Mass “I just made my fourth communion.” May God continue to bless you with great enthusiasm. And double good for you when you hold your hands up nice and high when you receive. You are terrific.

  • Thanks to all who made the 6 pm Mass special on Memorial Day weekend. 

  • In addition to the opening of the 2018 Mass book, parishioners can now request “unannounced Masses” through our front office. These Masses are offered by priests in monasteries and in the missions.

  • Its Bible time again. Please let us know if you are graduating from high school, college or trade school this Spring. We want you to have a bible from the parish to take with you in the next adventure. Please sign up either in the gathering space or, better yet, fill out the online form by clicking here.

  • Think it over . . . “Meeting Christ in Prayer” is an eight-week program, related to the Spiritual Exercises, that I am thinking of offering three times next year. It’s about growing in prayer and is not nearly as time consuming as the Spiritual Exercises. Let me know if you think you might be up for it.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This week in service:

  • Altar Servers – Please let me know what name you would like to give your altar servers’ team. I suggest you go with a favorite saint, or perhaps a place or a group mentioned in the bible. Be as creative as you can be! 

  • The Buildings and Grounds Committee, the Parish Council, and the Finance Council all hold their last meetings fo this fiscal year in June. During July and August, most business will be conducted by email and regular meetings will not be held. If you have any topics you want and of these committees to address before the summer semi-recess, please let the appropriate board members know.

  • You will notice what looks suspiciously like a Christmas tree in the gathering space but don’t be fooled. This Giving Tree is filled with tags that allow the parish to help sponsor a teen for Catholic Heart Workcamp. Take a tag and sponsor a camper. 

 

This week in community:

  • Online CCD registration is going beautifully. Keep in mind, June is the last month to get the discounted price for next year’s CCD.

  • Parents of summer CCD students – remember the meeting on Monday June 5 at 7:00 in the parish hall.

  • It’s never too soon to think of being a CCD teacher next year. Contact Jim Jungels if you think that MAYBE the Holy Spirit is prompting you in this direction.

  • Join us as we celebrate Fr. Hank’s silver anniversary on June 17. We start with 4:45mass and then we party. We’d like to know how many people to expect so if you haven’t already done so, please fill out this simple form

  • Have you already signed up for the St. Joe’s leg of the Hillsborough Triple Crown of 5ks – I Run Hillsborough. Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the holy burn. The race is NEXT SATURDAY! 

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry

 

I send this with best blessings for all of you, especially those who are simply days away from summer breaks at school. Hang in there!

 

 

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 25, 2017

Dear All: 

Fr. Hank is on retreat this week and will return next week to the writing duties. 

This Week in Prayer

“Whoever has my commandments and observes them

is the one who loves me.

And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,

and I will love him and reveal myself to him."

 

This week’s Gospel from John provides us a glimpse, well, more like a majestic view into just how Jesus wants us to follow him. It’s the story of Peter getting his instructions for the Church. It’s Peter’s roadmap to knowing, loving and serving and in turn, Peter's passing those instructions on to us in the subsequent readings.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter acts on his call when he heads to Samaria, a traditionally unfriendly place for a Jew. As Peter lives out his call, he transforms hearts. There is great joy and a true awakening as the people of Samaria receive the Holy Spirit.  

In the second reading from the First Book of Peter, Peter reflects on his life as an apostle and his direction to us to become excellent apostles. 

Jesus has put into each of our hearts, and the hearts of the apostles, the desire to know God, to love God and to serve God. St. Peter’s story as an apostle specifically, is one of knowing, loving and serving. It can be our story as well.

So what about it? Who in your life has been an excellent apostle, helping you along as you know, love and serve God? And on the flip side, for whom are you called today to be an excellent apostle?  

  • GREAT blessings to all the young people who made their First Communion this month! It is a great day for the entire church, even the people who don’t know you. Thanks for making your Communion.

  • The 2018 Mass book is now open. If you want to arrange a Mass intention, stop by the office. So that more people get a chance to arrange Mass intentions, we need to limit the number of intentions to eight per family for the book’s first three months. After that, come back for more.

  • Ascension Thursday mass is tonight, May 25 at 7:30pm. May 25.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This week in service:

  • There are many opportunities to become involved. Download the project form if you have an idea for a service project!

  • The church coat closet is undergoing minor renovations that will allow better use of the space. Be patient with us during the transition. The result will allow ministries to better serve, especially the liturgical ministries who help make our weekend liturgies so beautiful.

This week in community:

  • Please save the date for a parish celebration on June 17. We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Fr. Hank’s ordination with a special mass at 4:45pm followed by a family BBQ in the parish hall and grounds. Please plan on joining us for a great time to pray and celebrate together as a community. Bring your croquet shoes. There is no charge but donations will be accepted to help offset the cost. 

  • Online CCD registration for next year is up and running. The results have been impressive as we are well ahead of the typical number of registrations for this week in the registration cycle. All families intending to register for next year should do so as soon as possible – to take advantage of the discount for early registration and to enable the program directors to get a jump on planning an even better program for next year.

  • The Pasta and Wine Tasting evening was another great example of community! The Knights of Columbus cooked their hearts out and it really showed! Petrock’s Liquours, one of the evening’s lead sponsors, provided a great sampling of wines and tons of expertise! 

  • THE PARISH COOK BOOKS are here. Be sure to pick up yours this weekend. We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes should take a free copy.  Every household should also take one home, for free or for a donation of $5 if the spirit moves you. Let’s try to get one copy into every parishioner’s kitchen. Major thanks to Kate Shaughnessy and Joanne Gagliardi for the extensive labor of love it took to get the book from concept to print. And thanks to all who contributed recipes.

  • Have you already signed up for the St. Joe’s leg of the Hillsborough Triple Crown of 5ks – “I Run Hillsborough". Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the holy burn. 

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry

May this Memorial Day weekend be a special one as we remember all those that sacrificed so we can enjoy our freedom. 

Peace,

Bob Ferretti

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 18, 2017

Dear All:

It’s time for pasta and wine tasting! (See below)
 

This Week in Prayer

How many times a day do we think or say “I want” something? Some of those “I wants” are so familiar we no longer notice them: “I want coffee,” “I want to get to school on time,” “I want a good parking space,” “I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour.” Other “I want” statements feel a little bolder: “I want a new job” or “I want this relationship to improve.” Amid all the “I wants,” are several that God has built into our souls. The readings since Easter have highlighted several of those God-given “I wants:”

  • I want to participate in the experience of God’s love and the life of the church, not just observe;

  • I want to understand Jesus more, not just maintain a facile awareness of him;

  • I want to discern the Good Shepherd’s voice, not just reach a conclusion.


This week’s Gospel highlighted another “I want” that God has built into our hearts:

  • I want to feel safe and beautiful.

The first reading, from Acts of the Apostles, pertains to widows, the group that, at the time Acts was written, had many reasons to feel very unsafe. They lacked property rights, reliable income, a voice in legal conflicts, and, in most instances, a home of their own. That Jerusalem sect of extremely vulnerable Christian widows included two groups. Most of the widows spoke Hebrew. A few spoke Greek. The apostles reacted immediately when they learned that the Greek-speaking widows received fewer benefits than the other widows. Bad enough that their widow status should make them feel unsafe. Worse that the discrimination should make them feel something other than cherished, esteemed and beautiful.
 

The disciples’ speedy response resembles Jesus’. Throughout his public ministry, when he encountered anyone who had reason to feel unsafe or unbeautiful, Jesus sprang into action. He engaged the people with leprosy, the people publicly accused of grave sin, the possessed people and many others who felt threatened or fundamentally ugly. They were always his highest priority and his time with them gave them plenty of reason to feel safe and beautiful.
 

Sunday’s gospel comes from John’s Last Supper Discourse. It describes a moment when the apostles had many reasons to feel unsafe and unbeautiful. The growing animosity toward Jesus threatened them. Jesus’ talk of leaving could have left them feeling not too cherished or beautiful. Jesus then combats both concerns. In saying “I will come back again and take you to myself,” he gives them cause to feel safe and to feel beautiful and cherished, as always.
 

 What about you? Who has helped you feel safe and beautiful over the years? Maybe it was your mother? Maybe some other woman or man or friend or teacher or relative or religious? Chances are they leveled with you when you needed it. They were realistic and let you know when you smelled bad, but they also made you feel safe and beautiful. Who has done for you what Jesus did for the mighty and the afflicted throughout his time on earth?
 

And for whom are you doing that? Who in your life feels more safe and more beautiful because you are who you are and do what you do? Maybe it is a relative who needs extra TLC? Or maybe it is someone who projects complete self-assurance but deep down needs someone to remind them “It’s OK” and “You’re OK.”

  • GREAT blessings for the 23 youngsters who will be making first communion this weekend. It is a great day for the entire church, even the people who don’t know you. Thanks for making your Communion.

  • Thanks to all who made the 6 pm Mass special on Mother’s Day. 

  • The 2018 Mass book is now open. If you want to arrange a Mass intention, stop by the office. So that more people get a chance to arrange Mass intentions, we need to limit the number of intentions to eight per family for the book’s first three months. After that, come back for more.

  • Ascension Thursday is May 25. Check the schedules for holy day Mass times and plan accordingly.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This week in service:

  • Our week of hosting the IHN families tilted the grace meter – for the families and for us. Nearly 80 parishioners enabled us to provide a superb experience for the four moms and their nine children who stayed with us. Our collective hats are off to Sue and John Calamonari who served this year, for the first time, as overall program coordinators. Right up there with them are Sid Lentz and Kristen Mazuera who coordinated the overnight hosts and the food, respectively. And of course veteran director Paul Toste was never out of reach. Our project leaders and all the others who helped – cook meals, clean the parish hall, read stories to the kids, change the sheets and perform 101 other duties – created a situation in which those 13 people could feel safe and cherished. What more could God ask? 

  • It has been a great month for Becca’s Friends, our parish social program for adults with special needs.  On May 6 this group celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a DJ, dance and sombrero contest.  Lots of good food was enjoyed.  Amazing cupcakes were made and decorated by Denise Adams.  The program’s next event is an outing to Patriot Stadium on June 18 – to enjoy the amenities of the Community Box!

This week in community:

  • Online CCD registration for next year is up and running. The results have been impressive as we are well ahead of the typical number of registrations for this week in the registration cycle. All families intending to register for next year should do so as soon as possible – to take advantage of the discount for early registration and to enable the program directors to get a jump on planning an even better program for next year.

  • All parents of CCD students and all CCD teachers are encouraged to come to the Parish Hall on Monday, June 22 at 7:30pm, to meet the Loyola publishing representative who will explain our new curriculum.

  • And now for the Pasta and Wine Tasting . . . Don’t miss it. Be sure to bring your own bottle to go along with your dinner AND be ready to sample the available wines. All adults will receive a complimentary ticket at the door to sample four varieties of wine – two red and two white. Parishioners will also have a chance to order their new favorites (minimum order six bottles) through Petrock’s Liquours, one of the evening’s lead sponsors. Petrock’s will then donate 10% of the earnings back to the Knights of Columbus to support parish programs. Last thing about the wine tasting – there will be MUCH Frank Sinatra music for the occasion. See you there! 

  • THE PARISH COOK BOOKS are here. Be sure to pick up yours this weekend. We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes should take a free copy.  Every household should also take one home, for free or for a donation of $5 if the spirit moves you. Let’s try to get one copy into every parishioner’s kitchen. Major thanks to Kate Shaughnessy and Joanne Gagliardi for the extensive labor of love it took to get the book from concept to print. And thanks to all who contributed recipes.

  • Have you already signed up for the St. Joe’s leg of the Hillsborough Triple Crown of 5ks – “I Run Hillsborough". Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the holy burn. There is a 5K run, a 1 mile walk and an opportunity to be a "virtual" participant (all options get you the awesome 2017 shirt!)

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry

I send this with best blessings for you and with a request for your prayers as I head off to retreat on Sunday afternoon. Truth is, it is really the first half of the retreat – as Jesuits are expected to make 8 days of retreat each year and I can only get away for four. I will come back with a request for prayers for the second half later this summer. But pray anyhow!
 

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 12, 2017

Dear All:

Christ’s Peace!

NB – There is a 6 pm Mass this Sunday, Mother’s Day. It will be very low key. And speaking of calnendar issues, do you already have next Friday’s Pasta Night and Wine Tasting on your calendar? (See below.)

This Week in Prayer

Formative experiences frequently generate influential desires. We see a pro sink astonishing three-pointers and we want to imitate her. We hear beautiful music and feel a longing to create beautiful music. We meet people in marvelous relationships and we crave similar connections. Life’s adventures generate countless desires. Many of them determine our choices and lead us closer to Christ.

Other desires come directly from God. God places them in our hearts. The readings on the Second Sunday of Easter reminded us that each of us has a God-given desire to participate in (rather than merely observe) God’s love and in the life of the church. The Third Sunday of Easter highlighted our God-given desire to understand Jesus more (rather than simply watch Jesus), that we may love and serve Him more and feel His peace more profoundly. Last Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, the readings underscored our desire to discern God’s hopes (rather than just reach a conclusion); we want to recognize Jesus’ voice, make it our organizing principle, go where it suggests, and do what it says.

Peter’s heated speech in Acts 2 challenges his listeners to admit their mistake. They heard Jesus’ voice, had the chance to cooperate with Him, and chose not to cooperate. They chose instead to kill Him. Mistakes notwithstanding, Peter reminds the people it is never too late to choose Jesus. When his listeners ask “what should we do,” Peter basically replies, “start listening to Jesus.”

The Gospel passage from John 10 gives us good news; we have what it takes to recognize Jesus’ voice and to follow. Sunday’s portion of the Good Shepherd discourse describes an ideal world and an ideal church in which “He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow Him, because they recognize His voice,” but it is a world we can help create. God gives us the desire to follow Christ the Good Shepherd to verdant, peaceful pastures. God also enables us to discern His voice in the din. Like Peter’s people, we sometimes follow wrong voices but we can always start over, try again, and honor the inspired voice.

What about you? When have your choices fulfilled the readings’ hopes? In what moments of your life have you deliberately honored your God-given desire to discern, tried to figure out which course of action Jesus was asking you to undertake, and then taken it? When have you explicitly wanted to make the choice that Jesus wanted you to make, done so, and then felt the peace that pursuit of the inspired path provides? And where might you be able to ask the discernment question even more profoundly these days? What choices are you making these days? About your job, your schools, your relationships, your family’s location, your summer plans, your sports and your recreation? Are you trying to discern or simply trying to make a good choice? In what choices might you try to listen even more attentively to the voice of the Good Shepherd trying to point you toward the deepest possible peace?

  • Great thanks and congratulations to 42 “kids” who made their First Communions last Sunday. You folks are a great inspiration to all of us. The whole parish thanks you, your families and your CCD teachers for giving the church such a bright future, one in which friendship with Jesus truly matters.

  • The 2018 Mass book is now open. We are still working on arranging multiple intentions for Tuesdays and for Sundays at 9:30. We are also awaiting further instructions about how to arrange Masses in the missions. Meanwhile, if you want to arrange a Mass intention, stop by the office!

  • Great work Ira Sherman. Ira, who was baptized here at the Easter Vigil, gave a very fine talk at the Neophyte Mass. He described his faith journey . . . and urged the bishop to pray for the Eagles.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This week in service:

  • The apostolic energy emanating from the parish hall this week is a wonder to behold. Over 60 parishioners, younger and older, have been giving themselves to hosting the four IHN families we have the privilege to serve this week. The four families – including four moms and nine children under the age of nine – have been feeling the kindness of the dozens of parishioners who have been cooking, sharing dinner, playing with the children and staying overnight. It has been a beautiful week in countless ways.

  • Thank you and more thank you to Ann and Josh Riding for washing all the servers’ albs

This week in community:

  • THE PARISH COOK BOOKS are here. Be sure to pick up yours this weekend. We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes should take a free copy.  Every household should also take one home, for free or for a donation of $5 if the spirit moves you. Lets just try to get one copy into every parishioner’s kitchen. Major thanks to Kate Shaughnessy and Joanne Gagliardi for the extensive labor of love it took to get the book from concept to print. And thanks to all who contributed recipes.

  • Pasta Dinner next Friday, May 19 will feature many Italian delights prepared by our Knights of Columbus. New for 2017, Petrock’s Liquors will feature a wine tasting table for you to sample some delicious wines. This promises to be a night of excellent food and drink and fellowship for adults.

  • Thanks to all who joined their fellow parishioners at Comedy Night. It was an evening of fine food, terrific laughs and great fellowship. Enormous thanks to the many people who organized it.

  • Have you already signed up for the St. Joe’s leg of the Hillsborough Triple Crown of 5ks – “I Run Hillsborough". Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the holy burn. 

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry

Great blessings for all who celebrate Mother’s Day in any way and best Easter blessings for all.

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - May 5, 2017

Dear All: 

And as the old May-crowning hymn requested “May our Lady bless you in every way.”

This Week in Prayer

Our Easter-season, Sunday readings name many of the sacred desires God places in our hearts. Those holy desires make our holy hearts burn with an inspired fire. Each Sunday reminds us of a different inspired desire and our call to honor it and experience the profound peace that comes from doing so.

Last Sunday, the Third Sunday of Easter, reminded us that our hearts contain a God-given desire to know Jesus more profoundly. That deeper knowing leads to greater love, more vibrant service, and more pervasive peace. 

It all starts with the knowing him more profoundly. It’s not just about being able to recite facts, although the facts provide the basis for our relationship. It’s about understanding him more, coming to a deeper appreciation of who Jesus is, how he loves us, and how he encourages us to love. 

Cleopas and his walking companion on the Emmaus Road became overwhelmed with a deeper knowledge of Jesus. As Jesus explained all that the scriptures said about him and connected countless dots, he enabled the walkers to understand him more than ever before. That deeper understanding caused their hearts to burn within them with a newfound love of the lord. That deeper love, in turn, launched them into service; they became overwhelmed with the desire to share the news with others. The deeper knowing led to deeper loving which led to more active service and finally to deeper peace. 

Saint Peter’s speech in Acts 2 highlights the perils of not knowing Jesus. He accuses his listeners of deliberately not understanding Jesus even though they observed his “mighty deeds, wonders and signs.” That failure to know and understand Jesus caused them to reject and kill him rather than to accept and love him. The ignorance and rejection carried them away from service and peace and toward turmoil.

What about you? What helps you know Jesus more? Do programs at church – like Walking with Purpose or Cornerstone – give you that occasional spark of deeper knowing? Is it a favorite author or TV program? Is it something on the internet or perhaps a friend or two with whom you have spiritual conversation? What is working for you these days in terms of growing your knowledge and understanding that you might love him more dearly, serve him more energetically, and feel his peace more completely? What is helping you to know him more?

And, how are you helping others to know him more? Is it by participating in your children’s CCD program? Explaining to your children what the gospel might mean? Helping them to know how Jesus wants us to love him? Encouraging friends who are going through rough times, enabling them to trust God more? As the old saying goes, the best way to learn it is to teach it.

How are you coming to know Jesus more? How are you helping others to do so?

  • Congratulations and best blessings for our newly baptized and their families. Since Easter, we have welcomed six new babies into our community: Grayson, Aubrey, Brooklynn, Simon, Emma and Dazby.

  • Congratulations and best blessings for the 40 youngsters who will be making their first communions this week at the 9:30 and 11:30Masses.

  • All best blessings for the dozens of people who participated in Wednesday morning’s May crowning. May your prayers with our Blessed Mother be particularly efficacious this year.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read last Sunday's readings 
  • Read the coming Sunday's readings 

This week in service:

This was a week that was in service – in terms of our young people leading the way!

  • Hats off to the 55 members of our youth group who fasted for 30 hours last weekend. They raised over $18,000 for Elijah’s Promise, S.H.I.P., World Vision and Catholic Charities and provided greatly valued service at four locations around the area. The people who benefited from their service were extremely impressed with their kindness.

  • More hats off to Mrs. Kelly Hoefele and the members of her seventh-grade CCD class. Their car wash and bake sale raised more than $600 for Visions and Pathways (formerly the Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children). The car washers did a bang up job, working long stretches without breaks to keep the line humming along. And fine car washes they were! Bravo!

  • IHN – Starting Monday we will have the privilege of hosting three families through the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). We have made excellent progress toward filling the dozens of jobs that still need filling and we still need a handful of folks to complete the roster:

    • Sunday, May 7, 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., to unload cots from the truck and set up IHN rooms for our guests.  2 adult helpers still needed

    • Sunday, May 14,  7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., 3 adults for loading cots into truck, cleaning up parish center at close of IHN week.

    • IF YOU CAN FILL ONE OF THESE SLOTS PLEASE EMAIL Contact Sue Calamonari at  matlison@yaoo.com

This week in community:

  • Check out the monitor in the gathering space this weekend for a beautiful review of many great things that have been going on at church this Spring.

  • You probably know already that (a) the St Joe’s 5k is taking place on June 10 and (b) you can sign up for it through the parish website or through http://www.stjosephsparish.com/5k2017 What you might not already know is that our 5k is part of a local “triple crown” of 5k races. The other two are the Steps together at Steeplechase in September and the Gigi's playhouse /HRC fitness 5k run in October. This “I Run Hillsborough” series will have one grand prize winner. Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the invigorating burn – starting with the St. Joe’s 5k.

  • Good news - Comedy Night is sold out for tonight. Bad news if you don't have your tickets, comedy night is sold out.

  • Our new parish cookbooks will be available in the gathering space after all Masses the weekend of May 13-14.  We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes gets a free copy.  So does every parish household’s chief cook.  Cook well!

  • Be sure to check out the signup sheets in the gathering space for the Patriots Ministry. The rules of the project have changed somewhat this year (better to sign up further in advance), so see what weekends you might be able to join in the work and hilarity. GREAT thanks to all the ministries that have collectively agreed to help the members of the ministry get the job done. More slots are still available for other ministries to sign up.

Continued Easter Blessings for all of you and your loved ones.


Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 27, 2017

Dear All: 

He is risen indeed. Alleluia Alleluia. 

This Week in Prayer

It’s the season of “Holy Heartburn.” Not the heartburn that too much hot sauce causes. It’s the season of hearts burning with zeal for the risen Jesus. It’s the season when, as this coming Sunday’s Gospel reports, “our hearts burning within us” when He speaks with us. It’s a season for noticing the very inspired desires God places in our hearts. Those God-given desires set our hearts on fire.

One such God-given, heart-igniting desire is the desire to participate in the unfolding stories of God’s love, of the renewal of the face of the earth, of Christ’s action, of vibrant prayer and vibrant church. Deep down inside each of us is a desire to be more of a participant and less of an observer.

The first reading, from Acts 2, describes a church in which everyone who wanted to participate did participate. They learned together, ate together, prayed together and performed good works together. No one was pushed to the sidelines to observe. Everyone had a role to play and evidently relished it.

The Gospel story of Saint Thomas paints a picture of 10 participants and one unhappy observer. Those who were together for Jesus’ appearance participated fully in the encounter. Each heard Jesus say “peace” and “as the Father sends me so I send you.” Thomas didn’t experience the encounter and he was not content simply to observe the other disciples’ reports. He wanted to participate, not to observe. And Jesus worked with that. He cautioned about over reliance on proof, but he encouraged participation.

What about you? Who are the Thomas’ in your life? Who in your orbit is feeling both (a) a deep God-given, heart-igniting desire to participate more fully in the church or in the experience of God’s love and (b) some sort of unwanted constraint that leaves them feeling like an observer? The resulting frustration often prompts criticism or even cynicism about the church and about faith, but beneath the harsh words one frequently finds a frustrated desire for a deeper sense of participation in the glorious story. In the shadow of Divine Mercy Sunday, it can be useful to recall that those who feel prevented from full participation and who harbor rough attitudes are frequently requesting compassionate listening and a hope for deeper participation. Does anyone in your life fit that description? Does someone you love feel unable to act on a God-given desire for fuller participation? And how did Jesus answer Thomas?

  • As mentioned at all weekend Masses, the parish’s Mass intention book is currently filled for the year. We will soon be opening the 2018 book and it will allow for two Masses each week (Tuesday at 8:30 and Sunday at 9:30) when the Masses will have more than one intention. Meanwhile, we will soon make arrangements with the right missionaries to have Masses offered this year.
     
  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings (Palm Sunday)
  • Read next week's readings (Easter)

This week in service:

  • 30 Hour Famine: On Friday and Saturday April 28-29 50 over 60 St. Joe's teens and adults will be going without food - all for a great cause. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for charities that are part of the solution to world hunger including Elijah's Promise, S.H.I.P., World Vision and Catholic Charities. Take a prayer/pledge card after mass and support a teen making a difference – the project needs your financial support AND your prayers. $30 makes a huge difference in the life of a child. Project success truly encourages our young people to be great priests, prophets and kings. 

  • Need more impetus to donate? Read this blog post on the Scholastic Teen Voices site written by our own Michael Atlas, a junior in our youth ministry program.

  • Spend a night at Church! – During the week of May 7-14, St. Josephs will host the IHN homeless shelter in our Parish Center.  We need 7 more folk who are willing to spend the night in church. We already have one Virtus-certified person for each night but we also need a helper for each night and that helper does not have to be Virtus-certified. This could be YOU! If you can help, please contact Sue Calamoneri, our IHN Coordinator, at matlison@yahoo.com.

  • Bring your dirty car to church early Sundayafternoon! Let the fifth graders and their chaperones wash your car and send your donation to local homeless shelters! 

  • Especially since the start of our Sesqui year, many people have expressed desires to follow up on great ideas for service projects and community-builders. The efforts have been terrific. In our effort to make sure the word gets spread as thoroughly as possible, the following publicity guidelines have been prepared. So if you want something in the bulletin or the other parish media, check out the project submission form (mobile devices, below, computers look to the right). Your project is most surely a great gift to many. 

This week in community:

  • Check out the monitor in the gathering space this weekend for a beautiful review of many great things that have been going on at church this Spring.

  • Last Call: COMEDY NIGHT is Friday May 5. Get your RSVP in by Sunday - either online or stop by the table in the Gathering Space on Sunday. It promises to be another wildly fun night.

  • You probably know already that (a) the St Joes 5k is taking place on June 10 and (b) you can sign up for it through the parish website. What you might not already know is that our 5k is part of a local “triple crown” of 5k races. The other two are the Steps together at Steeplechase in September and the Gigi's playhouse /HRC fitness 5k run in October. This “I Run Hillsborough” series will have one grand prize winner. Invite your running friends and relatives to run Hillsborough and feel the invigorating burn – starting with the St. Joe’s 5k.

  • Thanks to the Lew family and all who sponsored and helped organize Friday’s very fun movie night!

  • Our new parish cookbooks will be available in the gathering space after all Masses the weekend of May 13-14.  We are selling the books for $5.00 each.  Everyone who contributed one or more recipes gets a free copy.  So does every parish household’s chief cook.  Cook well!

  • The envelopes for Easter Flowers will be available until Pentecost. Thanks for helping out. If you want to make a contribution in memory of a deceased loved one or in honor of a living loved one, please take an envelope from the Moses table and eventually put it in a collection basket. Thanks.

  • Thanks to the Knights of Columbus who turned out to help staff the stands at Patriot Stadiumon Friday night for the season opener. Reports are that it was great fun for a great number. Stay tuned to this page and to other church publications for news about when YOU might join the fun.

All best blessings for you during these magnificent days when we recall our baptisms, refocus on the Great Commission, and celebrate our salvation. 

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 13, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace. 

This Week in Prayer: 

Palm Sunday raises another “carpe kindness” question: When we deep-down want to be kind but don’t act on that desire, is it because we are unable to be kind or unwilling to be kind?”

 

The Passion Narrative describes people who evidently possessed no deep-down desire to be kind to Jesus. The Roman guard, the temple guard, Caiaphas, and several others apparently wanted only to destroy Jesus. No kindness there. At the opposite extreme, Joseph of Arimathea wanted to be kind and was kind when he gave up his tomb for Christ’s burial. Between the two extremes, we find several others who deep-down wanted to be kind to Jesus but didn’t carry through on that desire.

 

Saint Peter provides two examples of choices that did not express his deep-down desire to be kind. In the hours before Jesus was killed, Saint Peter squandered two opportunities to be kind to Jesus. The first occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to stay awake while he prayed. Three times he sought Peter’s kindness and three times Peter, bone tired and probably with a full belly and a bit of wine, did not deliver the requested kindness. Peter’s physical limits apparently rendered him temporarily unable to provide the requested kindness.

 

The second failure to be kind occurred outside the high priest’s house when the strangers tried to link Peter with Jesus and Peter denied Jesus. The kind move might have been to claim bold affiliation with Jesus, to say “Yes, I know him, l love him and I serve him.” But fear of the repercussions seems to have rendered Peter temporarily unwilling to make the kind move.

 

What about us? What about those moments when we deep-down want to be kind but don’t make the kind move? Is it because we are temporarily unable to be kind or unwilling to be kind? And what is the cure for each obstacle to kindness? The temporary inability to be kind frequently reflects underlying exhaustion. Like Peter, we want to be kind but we are too tired or distracted to do so. Those moments expose our need for more stamina. Prayer and wise choices can supply that stamina. 


The temporary unwillingness to be kind frequently reflects underlying fear. Like Peter, we want to be kind but become too concerned about the price we will pay for being kind – whether it is the emotional price or the physical price or the financial price or the relational price of kindness – as in “If I am kind to this person, my life will get complicated.” Those moments expose our need for more courage. Again, grace and grit can provide the courage.
 

As you consider a situation or a relationship in which you deep-down feel the urge and the call to be more kind, is it that you are temporarily restrained by an inability to be kind or an unwillingness to be kind? And how might you cultivate the stamina to be more kind? How might you cultivate the courage?

  • It will be good to pray the Triduum together again. The Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper starts at 7:30. The Good Friday Passion Liturgy starts at 3:00 pm. The Easter Vigil starts at 8:00 pm Saturday.

  • All best blessings on those parishioners who, by praying the Stations of the Cross, filled our church with prayer on Friday mornings and Friday evenings throughout Lent. You are a blessing to the parish.

  • Thanks and blessings for all those members of the community – just about 100 people – who participated in Saturday’s morning of recollection for liturgical ministers and members of parish councils and committees. Your ministry is a great gift to all parishioners. Your ministry is also one of God’s preferred ways of blessing YOU. May you continue to soak up and savor those blessings.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings (Palm Sunday)
  • Read next week's readings (Easter)

This week in service:

  • Huge thanks to the St. Joseph’s parishioners who volunteered last week at the Hillsborough Reformed Church for the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). The week was one of terrific blessings. Our parish volunteers who co-hosted the week welcomed 12 family members who are in the shelter program.  The hosted children and moms were exceedingly grateful for our care.  

  • More IHN news – During the week of May 7-14, St. Josephs will host the IHN homeless shelter in our Parish Center.  We need 60 volunteers to make it happen and are well on our way to having the complete complement but need help completing the roster.  If you can help, please contact Sue Calamoneri, our IHN Coordinator, at matlison@yahoo.com.

  • 30 Hour Famine: On Friday and Saturday April 28-29 50 St. Joe's teens and adults will be going without food - all for a great cause. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for charities that are part of the solution to world hunger including Elijah's Promise, S.H.I.P., World Vision and Catholic Charities. Take a prayer/pledge card after mass and support a teen making a difference – the project needs your financial support AND your prayers. $30 makes a huge difference in the life of a child. Project success truly encourages our young people to be great priests, prophets and kings. 

This week in community:

  • Great thanks to all who improved our church grounds as part of our Sesquicentennial celebration. The 400+ daffodils and the several forsythia bushes that were planted last year are making our church beautiful this Easter. Thanks to all who made it happen.

  • The parish cookbooks will be available on Mother’s Day. We hope to provide one free copy to every household and to sell the others for $5. It has been a labor of love and the result will delight many.

  • Comedy night is May 8. Mark the date and prepare to laugh. You can buy your tickets online.

  • It's not too early to signup for our 4th Annual 5K at St. Joe's. Register now! 

  • The envelopes for Easter Flowers will be available until Pentecost. Thanks for helping out. If you want to make a contribution in memory of a deceased loved one or in honor of a living loved one, please take an envelope from the Moses table and eventually put it in a collection basket. Remember, your gift this year determines the flowers for next year’s Easter. Thanks.

For all of you who will be traveling for the Easter holydays, may God bless your travels, your celebration and your prayer. For all who will be staying close to home, it will be good to see you and to pray with you.

 

May each parishioner’s gratitude to Jesus grow this week. May your confidence in the resurrection and its implications reach new heights. May your appreciation of God’s love for you increase and console you greatly.

With blessings and love,

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - April 7, 2017

This week – April 7, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace. 

This Week in Prayer

Once again, “carpe kindness” – “seize the opportunity to be kind.” Every Sunday in Lent has challenged us to imitate Jesus’ amazing kindness. Last Sunday it was about giving people “mulligans” – about not holding it against others when we are kind to them and they do not respond with kindness – about letting them have a do-over after they have been unkind or cranky. Jesus gives us that lesson during his visit to Bethany, and so we think of the “Bethany Mulligan.”

Jesus’ visit to Bethany was an exercise in kindness. He went to give great gifts of faith to Martha, Mary, Lazarus and their friends. Sunday’s gospel speaks four times of Jesus’ love for his friends and theirs for him. That sort of love allows only for kind initiatives. Even his delay in going to Bethany, after learning of Lazarus’ illness, was an expression of kindness. The delay enabled greater gifts to be given. 

Mary’s reply to Jesus – “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died” – is a complex one. It expresses affection and confidence in Jesus’ power. It also reveals disappointment, an urge to accuse and an underestimation of Jesus’ affection and kindness. But Jesus does not reply harshly to Mary. He appreciates the pain and sadness behind her somewhat harsh greeting. He consoles her and helps her trust God. He gives no indication of counting it against her. Jesus, knowing she is going through a very rough patch, gives her a mulligan. He does the same with Martha when she replays the exchange.

What about you? In what moments or relationships are you, appreciating that another is going through a difficult hour, letting them off the hook for being a little cranky when you are being kind? Are you being kind to an ailing loved one and getting some harsh blowback? Are you giving a Bethany Mulligan to one of your children, being kind and getting measurable grief in response? Is it a colleague? Someone in the neighborhood, someone in class or on your team or an old friend or a new one? Chronic tolerance of bad behavior is a separate issue. The Bethany Mulligan is about being clear “A person I love is sad and off her or his game and I will absorb it.” And as you dole out the Bethany Mulligans, as you imitate Christ’s kindness toward the temporarily ungrateful and unkind, can you see God smiling on you?

  • Confessions will run from 3:30 to 4:25 this Saturday. Might it feel like time to offload your regret?

  • Our Morning of Recollection for members of many ministries is tomorrow, Saturday, April 8. All liturgical ministers are invited. So are the members of all councils and committees and all who help build up the community. Join us for Mass at 8:30 if you can – then donuts, some food for thought, some quiet time, and time to get with the other members of your ministry. Lunch is at noon.

  • The missal provides three ways to start Palm Sunday Mass: The Procession, the Solemn Entrance, and the Simple Entrance. The 9:30Palm Sunday Mass will use the Procession and will begin in the gathering space or in front of church, depending on the weather. All the other Masses will begin with the Solemn Entrance – which means that you get your palms from the ushers on the way into church and go to your place before Mass starts. With the Solemn Entrance, after the unusual opening of Mass (extra prayer and procession gospel), hold your palms up good and high for the presider to bless.

  • The men’s Cornerstone Group meets this Monday at 7:30. Jack Kirnan from the St Catherine’s group will give a “Walking with God” witness before we share the “Gift from God” and “Hand of God” moments. Jack’s witness will both provide meaningful observations of God’s ways and help us know how to do it. Jack is a partially retired banker and business teacher.

  • Check out the liturgy Holy Week schedule for Holy Week. It will be good to pray together frequently.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • The sign-up sheet for the Patriot Stadium ministry will be in the gathering space again this weekend. If your ministry has figured out which night it will cover, terrific. Sign up AND email Suzanne Kral.

  • 30 Hour Famine: On Friday and Saturday April 28-29 50 St. Joe's teens and adults will be going without food - all for a great cause. Their goal is to raise $15,000 for charities that are part of the solution to world hunger including Elijah's Promise, S.H.I.P., World Vision and Catholic Charities. Take a prayer/pledge card after mass and support a teen making a difference – the project needs your financial support AND your prayers. $30 makes a huge difference in the life of a child. Project success truly encourages our young people to be great priests, prophets and kings. 

This week in community:

  • The parish cookbooks will be available on Mother’s Day. We hope to provide one free copy to every household and to sell the others for $5. It has been a labor of love and the result will delight many.

  • Comedy night is May 8. Mark the date and prepare to laugh. 

  • It's not too early to signup for our 4th Annual 5K at St. Joe's.  

  • Sorry for the confusion about the Easter flowers. It would be nifty if you could help us make the church beautiful. On the Moses table in the gathering space you will find envelopes that have printed on them a big Easter lily and the phrase “flower offering.” Take one with you and put it in the collection basket when you get the chance. Once again, keep in mind, if you are having a tough financial spell – don’t even think about supporting the flower fund. And even if you are having a good year, this collection is not about giant donations. Its about $5 - $20 gifts. Thanks. This year’s gifts determine next year’s flowers.

  • Also – to clarify upcoming causes that you might want do support: Palm Sunday, retired priests; Holy Thursday, Social Ministries; Good Friday, the Holy Land. 

With all best blessings for your final days of Lent and your move into Holy Week.

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Mar 23, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s peace! And think “Confession” and “Fish Fry.”

This Week in Prayer

Carpe Kindness” – loosely translated, “seize the opportunity to be kind.” Three weeks ago, it was about being kind to the ancestors, living and deceased. Two weeks ago, it was about “thiNNk,” about asking ourselves “Is what I am about to say true, helpful, important, Necessary Now, and kind?” The emphasis was on the “Necessary Now” consideration and wondering if it might be more kind to postpone my words. Last Sunday it was about the setting in which we speak the challenging word.

In the story of “The Woman at the Well,” Saint John indicates that Jesus challenged the woman when no one else was around. He challenged her about her faith and he challenged her about her moral choices. But Jesus did all that at noon, when it was too hot for other Samaritans to be at the well. Only the woman was there, perhaps because she wanted to avoid her neighbors. And he did that when his disciples had gone to town to shop for food, perhaps because he didn’t want the lady to feel like she was surrounded. Jesus took advantage of a rare solitary moment to challenge the woman. We know that Jesus’ strategy worked. The woman immediately became a true evangelist. 

What about you? Can you recall how you felt when someone challenged you in front of others? Maybe you still wish it had not happened that way. Might it have been better if the other had been more discrete in speaking the challenging word? Might you have been more available to their challenging words if they had spoken to you in private? And what about a situation in which you feel your faith calls you to speak the challenging word? Have you thought through the best setting in which you might speak your truth? Have you thought about how to be as kind as possible when doing your prophetic work? If you were in the other’s place, in what setting would you like to be challenged? Chances are that social media declarations don’t align with God’s hopes. Chances are that bold proclamations with many witnesses will not work. Jesus’s words and examples affirm the old notion “commend in public, challenge in private.” Where might Jesus be asking you to keep that in mind as he urges us to “Carpe Kindness?”

  • Our Parish’s Lenten Penance Service is especially for adults (i.e., those already confirmed). It will be held on Tuesday April 4 at 7:30 pm. Who cares how long it’s been since your last confession? Like Hosea says, “Don’t let fear keep us apart.” Between now and then, in addition to your regular examination of conscience, try to name (a) one habit God wants you to leave in the dust and (b) one habit God has been wanting you to take up. The confessors are all good guys. The music is always excellent. The gift of absolution is terrific.

  • Confessions will start early on the two Saturdays before Holy Week. On April 1 and April 8, confessions will start at 3:30 instead of 4:00. Confessions will end at 4:25.

  • If you want to make an appointment for confession at a time that is more convenient for you, great! Email me at fhilton@loyola.edu. No time like Lent to leave the spiritual crud behind.

  • The next meeting of the Cornerstone Men’s prayer group is Monday, March 27 at 7:30. The inspired group is just getting going. The program has a great way of lifting men into a higher appreciation of God’s action in their lives. While it provides ample opportunity to speak to God in petition and in song, it emphasizes the call to listen to God by noticing God’s actions in our own lives and hearts and souls.

  • Congratulations to the 70 young people who were confirmed last week. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit become ever more apparent to you and be the source of great consolation in your beautiful lives.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • Thanks to all who enabled us to bring the “in-pew” portion of the Bishop’s appeal to successful completion. Special thanks to all who covered last weekend’s logistics and extra special thanks to Dottie, George, Avelina, Dianne, Larry, Carl, Suzanne and Monica for sorting out the cards, affixing the labels, etc. We got quickly to closure because of you.

  • Saturday’s morning of recollection was a most memorable gift for an impressive group of parishioners and others who take care of loved ones. GREAT thanks to the organizing committee for your excellent work. You certainly are making Jesus’s love apparent to people who need a little help.

  • CALLING ALL MEMBERS OF ALL LITURGICAL MINISTRIES AND ALL PARISH COUNCILS AND COMMITTEES. The morning of recollection on Saturday April 8 is all for you – to help you (a) appreciate God’s appreciation for your great work and (b) connect with fellow ministry members to discuss matters both logistical and lofty. TO PREPARE FOR LUNCH, WE NEED THE LEADERS OF EACH MINISTRY TO GIVE US A HEAD COUNT BY SUNDAY APRIL 2. Please email your headcount to Suzanne Kral at skral@stjosephsparish.com 

  • The parish’s Spring Blood Drive is Fryday during the Fish Fry. Give a pint and eat a perch!

This week in community:

  • CALLING ALL FISH EATERS – Join your fellow parishioners for some elbow-rubbing and fine K of C marine cuisine tomorrow – FRYDAY March 24. The first fish will appear at 4:30. The last will show up at 8:00. 

  • CALLING ALL FANS OF IRISH STEP DANCERS – Come to the Fish Fry on Fryday. The first show will start at about 5:30. The second starts at about 6:30.

Hoping that you started to feel rejuvenated on Mondaymorning at 6:29 am. And to think it coincided with the re-located feast of Saint Joseph. Doubly nice.

All best blessings – especially as you consider fish and confession.

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Mar 16, 2017

Dear All: 

May the Lord be with each of you in palpable ways during these 40 days.

This Week in Prayer

thiNNk before you speak. Ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say true, helpful, important, Necessary Now, and kind?” Sunday’s gospel invites us to focus on the “Necessary Now” question.

The Transfiguration, described in Sunday’s passage from Matthew’s gospel, had to have been a transformative moment for Peter, James, and John. Picture yourself in the scene and imagine your amazement. Not only do you suddenly grasp Jesus’ connection to the law and the prophets, symbolized by Moses and Elijah, you have heard the Father tell you directly “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” It truly was a mountain top experience for each of them.

Then comes a most perplexing twist. Jesus tells Peter, James, and John not to mention the experience to anyone until after he is raised from the dead. That was one tall request. Try to grasp the self-restraint it would have taken not to tell everyone you met about what happened on the mountain. But Jesus has told you “not now.” The story you want to tell everyone is true, and helpful and important and kind, but Jesus has said “not now.” 

Why did Jesus demand silence? Some argue that most who might have heard the Transfiguration story would have misused the news. They would have tried to make Jesus their Rome-bashing king, a mission that he frequently disavowed. Others say the evangelists inserted the ban to advance their stories. Or perhaps Jesus told them to wait because, if they had told the story right away, they would have used their privileged knowledge as an excuse to gloat over those who were not there. We do not know exactly why Jesus told them not to tell but we do know this was not a one-shot-deal. Mark’s gospel contains eight passages in which Jesus told others “You now know who I am, but do not tell anyone.”

As priests, as prophets and as kings, we frequently get the urge to share insights that are true, helpful, important and kind. As priests, we sometimes feel the inspired urge to invite others into deeper faith. As prophets, we might want to speak a consoling word or a challenging word. As kings, we want to say the things that build up community. The words we want to speak can be both inspired and subject to the “not necessary now” restraint. Jesus sometimes has mysterious reasons for asking us to hold off.

What about you? Are there things you want to tell others, even for the best of reasons, that you should wait to tell? Maybe the thoughts are true and helpful and important and kind – and subject to Jesus’ “not necessary now” restriction. Perhaps there will be a better time for the other? Perhaps there will be a time when you will be more focused on Jesus and less focused on yourself as you say what needs to be said? Perhaps Jesus is asking you to give more thought to HIS schedule for pursuing the mission?

  • Three holy cheers for the confirmandi and their families and sponsors. Confirmation is Fridaynight.

  • Best blessings for all the men who joined Cornerstone on Monday night. It was a first step and a darned good one at that. See you March 27. Guy is bringing the food and Jeremy the cider. Meanwhile, are you sure Bill G. has your email address straight?

  • Thanks to all who have let me know they or a loved one needed to be anointed. We are making great headway as we try to get people anointed, whenever possible, when they first become ill or learn of the need for surgery. 

  • Youth group – remember we are celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation this Sundaynight. Bring a friend!

  • CAREGIVERS – It will be good to see you on Saturday morning for the Caregivers’ morning of recollection. If you have made your reservation, great. If not, show up anyhow and bring a friend.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • THIS IS IN PEW WEEKEND FOR THE BISHOP’S ANNUAL APPEAL. That means, when you get to church, you will find in your pews the pledge cards for the appeal. If you are having a terrible financial year, it would be great if you could give ONE DOLLAR. We are striving to increase significantly our participation rate in this most worthy cause. If you are having a good financial year, ramp it up. Remember, the appeal supports causes that are dear to our hearts – but that no single parish can support. The appeal keeps Catholic Charities afloat, keeps the Ozanam Shelter’s doors open, keeps our seminarians, including Tholitho and Mike in books and studies, keeps the hospital chaplains in the hospitals, and many more things. If you are having a good financial year, try to increase your donation by 15% over last year’s. If you can, that would be great. Look for a special email later this week with a note from a parishioner.
  • You have one more chance to BRING YOUR OLD GREETING CARDS TO CHURCH THIS WEEKEND. The collection produced truly remarkable results. One family donated four beer-cases of brand new greeting cards. Others brought in bags full. Keep them coming this Weekend.

This week in community:

  • Check out the windows in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, if you have not done so already. And keep in mind, the light switch is on the right as you enter the chapel. If the windows are not lit from behind, turn the lights on and get the full effect. (And remember our long and wonderful tradition of genuflecting when we enter the chapel).
  • The Fish Fry is March 24 from 4:30 - 8pm – complete with Irish Dancing. See you there.
  • The blood drive is the same day. The snow days have really increased the demand for blood. Give if you can.
  • If you are a Blue Storm person who has not yet registered for the dinner, get going!
  • And what about the new use of our parish hall? A drop-in center for parents who need a little quiet time when the snow keeps the kids at home. We have Wifi and good coffee! We had a few customers this storm and they thoroughly enjoyed their snow day!

I hope nobody got hurt in the snow mess and, if you did overdo it, I hope you are on the mend. Hope too that you can join me in looking forward to this Monday at 6:29 am. Nice

Meanwhile, best blessings and Lenten perseverance.
 

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Mar 10, 2017

Dear All: 

May the Lord be with each of you in palpable ways during these 40 days.

This Week in Prayer

Each of our deceased ancestors was one of God’s beloved. The same is true of our living ancestors. God loves them profoundly and sent His Son for them. Beyond that consoling commonality, all of our ancestors share countless other characteristics. Some of those shared traits make us smile. Others do not. Among the truths that do not gladden our souls is the fact that each ancestor, both those who are alive and those who have died, have made flawed choices. Some of those flawed choices were sinful. Others were just goofy mistakes. Many of their poor choices influence our current quality of life, and not in a delightful way. And where do we go with that awareness? Sunday’s readings invite us to be candid about the sin and kind about the sinners when recalling our predecessors and their flawed choices. 

The first reading, from Genesis 2, reminds us that Adam and Eve, our furthest back ancestors, fell under the influence of the evil spirit. They made choices that led them away from God’s hopes. Sunday’s account of the world’s first rotten choice is both candid in what it says about the sin and kind in what it does not say about the sinners. It does not say terrible things about Adam and Eve. Compare that passage to those in the first and second Books of Kings that denounce the uninspired leaders – including Kings Rehoboam, Jehoram, Ahaz, Ahaziah and Queen Athaliah. Unlike the author of the Books of kings, the author of Genesis is candid in about the sin and kind in what he does not say about the sinners.

Jesus makes a similar move in Matthew’s description of the Temptation in the Wilderness. Every time the devil tempts Jesus, Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy. Each of those quotes, in turn, recalls a moment when Israel made a terribly flawed choice. The second temptation, when Satan tempts Jesus to leap from the temple, causes Jesus to quote Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test as you did as Massah.” Massah? The place where the Israelites made the unfortunate choice to grumble against God and to protest, “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” – after God had showered the people with countless expressions of love in the wilderness. Despite their misdeeds, Jesus does not rail against the ancestors he references. He is candid about the sin and kind about the sinners.

The third temptation, to gain influence by worshiping evil, prompts Jesus to say “The Lord, your God, shall you worship and Him alone shall you serve.” The mention of false-god-worship stirs images of the people bowing low before the golden calf, another low point when His ancestors made a severely flawed choice that Jesus opts not to use as an excuse to denigrate. He is candid in what he says about the sin and kind in what he chooses not to say about the sinner. Yes, Our Lord sometimes castigates those who make flawed choices, but Sunday’s gospel reminds us that He also has mercy on mistake-makers.

 

What about you? Let’s say we broadly define ancestors as anyone who has preceded us – not just in the gene pool but also in our workplace, or team, or school or church. And then let’s say they have all made mistakes about which we are called to be candid, at least in our own minds. Finally, let’s say these mistake-makers fall into three categories: 

  1. those of whom we already speak and think kindly, 

  2. those of whom we do not yet speak or think kindly, and 

  3. those who have hurt us so profoundly that we need professional help to deal with the resulting pain. 

It’s about that second group, mistake-making ancestors of whom we do not yet speak or think kindly. Who is on your list? Which ancestor(s) made a bad choice – in child-rearing or financial management or stress-release or physical activity or whatever – even though they were doing the best they could with the hand they were dealt? Which ancestors might you consider moving from that second category (treated harshly) into the first (treated kindly)? Who needs a little mercy from you? We all make flawed choices – every last one of us. That’s why Jesus came. But only the evil Spirit wants us to keep thinking harshly of those who went before us – because doing so gets between us and the peace Christ wants us to experience.

  • God bless all the confirmandi and their confirmation retreat this weekend and confirmation next week.

  • God bless all the men wondering about the Cornerstone Men’s prayer group – which meets this Monday night for the first time. May it be a greatly blessed experience in Lent and beyond.

  • God bless the women who visited Walking With Purpose on Monday and are considering joining the women’s bible study.

  • And a giant “God Bless” for the many people who are re-trying the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent. What an amazing grace it is to be a part of that experience. And for those who are wondering, come on in. Don’t hesitate to contact me for an appointment if Saturday afternoons don’t work for you. 

  • Mark your calendars for two mornings of prayer at church: March 18 for Caregivers and April 8 for all people who serve in liturgical ministries and in the managerial ministries – Parish Council, Finance Council, REFC, Buildings and Grounds, Collection Counters . . . and all the “kingly ministries.”

  • Sign-up for a daily email lenten reflection. There are many available - here's one from Loyola Press

  • And welcome again to those who are adding daily Mass to their Lent. It is good to have you with us.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • GREAT blessings for all who helped make the ministry recruiting Sundays so successful. Thanks to the ministry leaders, to those who staffed the tables, and greatest blessings for those who signed up. Just about every new recruit should have by now received confirmation emails from Suzanne Kral, from your ministry leader, and from me. Again, good for you!
  • BRING YOUR OLD GREETING CARDS TO CHURCH THIS WEEKEND. The Grimmer family is organizing a collection of greeting cards that benefits St Jude’s ranch. Don’t worry about the cards’ condition. Just bring them.

This week in community:

  • THE CHAPEL WINDOWS ARE HERE. After nearly two years of intense mental and physical labor, five windows from the old church are now installed in our Blessed Sacrament chapel. Make sure you turn the lights on when you encounter them. More on this later. For now. WOW.

  • Great thanks to all who put so much heart and soul into decorating the church for Lent. Special thanks for the symbols of Holy Thursday in the gathering space and the symbols of Good Friday near the altar.

  • Thanks to the youth group and to all who participated in the PJ Anderson Concert. A fine night indeed.

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is here! Stay tuned for more information in the bulletin and in church.

  • March 24 is our Lenten fish fry. I have to miss this one (godson’s wedding) but trust you can make it. Those who participated last year can tell you the Irish Dancing was even better than the fish!

  • Great thanks to all who made this Blue Storm basketball season so terrific. You are all a great gift.

With blessings for your Lent and your life in the last days of snow.

 

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Feb 24, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

This Week in Prayer

“Spiritual Chillax-ability” – that ability to get back to the deeper experience of Christ’s peace when life’s large and small difficulties knock us out of the chillaxed zone. Sunday’s readings remind us that the more able and willing we are to disavow retaliation, the more able we are to stay spiritually chillaxed.

The first reading, from Leviticus, the Old Testament’s third book, admonishes us to “Take no revenge.” It allows no exceptions. It doesn’t say “take no revenge unless the person who hurt you is a complete creep.” No. Just take no revenge. And if we are not going to take revenge, what good does it do us to contemplate revenge? To savor the prospect of getting even? Answer: those contemplations do us no good. They only make us miserable. The Leviticus passage also says “Cherish no grudge.” The mandate orders us to stop playing the bad movies in our head. Stop revisiting the slights and the injustices. Stop convincing ourselves what victims we are. Why do all that? Because (a) God says so and (b) we know we cannot get to spiritual chillax-dom when we are plotting revenge and re-watching the movies that star us as victims. 

Jesus drives the point home in Sunday’s gospel, another passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructs us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The request leaves no room for retaliation, actual or imagined. We are unable to love our enemies while plotting to hurt them. We are also unable to pray for our persecutors while planning the pay back. Once again, we ask “why do all that?” Once again the answer is “because Jesus says so and because doing so leads us to peace.” (N.B. – Jesus is not saying “regard no person as your enemy or persecutor.” We sometimes have enemies and persecutors – whom we must treat in the ways Jesus tells us.) 

So, what about you? In what circumstances have you experienced the underlying truth that “the call to forgive is a call to live?” When have you done the work of forgiving (i.e., disavowing retaliation) and, then experienced deeper peace? When have you prayed for and received the grace to stop watching the mental movies of past hurts and injustices – and then felt deeper peace? Was it in school? A study groups? Your team? Your workplace? With your close relatives? With annoying neighbors or colleagues? With a former spouse? With a shameless mooch or someone who talks trash about you? Everyone has someone to forgive, some impulse toward retaliation to resist, some choice to retaliate or to disavow retaliation, some choice to keep watching old victim movies or to turn them off, some choice to cooperate with Christ and feel his peace or to keep the monkeys tied to our backs. What about you?

  • Congratulations and all best blessings for the second graders who made their first reconciliations on Tuesday night. You were terrific. You were so very well prepared and so very prayerful and sincere. You knew how to start the process (“Bless me Father . . . ) and you knew your Act of Contrition like you’d been praying it for years. Plus you looked so nice and that clearly helped make the evening such a good one. God bless you, your families and your teachers. Thanks too to the eighth graders. You were also in great form. Finally thanks to the ushers for keeping us organized, to Mr. Viola for the wonderful music, and to everyone who really gave themselves to the prayer by helping to keep the silence. You were excellent.

  • Calling all grown men. Do you sweat holy water? Can you recite by heart the table of contents of the entire bible? Do you love extremely touchy feely gatherings of men? Are you perfectly content with your spiritual life, think maybe you have already reached the mountaintop? If you answered NO to every question, then Cornerstone is for YOU. Try this men’s prayer group for three Mondays in Lent and then commit for the long run. The group welcomes all men – 21 to 101 – who want a little more depth in their spiritual lives, who can commit the occasional Monday night to the effort, and who are up for a well-organized program that honors your personal borders. The first meeting is Monday, March 13. Read more about it in the bulletin and talk to the guys at the table in the gathering space. You will be glad you did.

  • This coming Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday. Masses are at 8:30am and 7:30pm. The Service of the Ashes for children (and anyone else) is at 5:00. Plan accordingly, and keep thinking of (a) one habit you want to stop and (b) one habit you want to start – and use Lent as a time to get those projects going.
     

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • Ministry Recruiting in the Gathering Space this weekend and next – If you are already committed to one or more parish ministries and are happy with your work, stay your course! If you aren’t already involved or if you think it might be time for a change, talk to the people at the recruiting stations in the gathering space or check out the ministry directory and contact the relevant people. Just before Lent is a great time to reassess your ministries and make whatever tweaks God seems to have in mind. (NB – we still need altar servers for the 4:45 and 6:00 Masses.) 

  • Attention all members of liturgical ministries and community building ministries (Parish Council, Finance Council, Buildings and Grounds, Money Counters, etc.) Please consider participating in the April 8 Morning of Recollection for member of all liturgical ministries and community-building ministries (aka priestly and kingly ministries). It will be a good time to consider the good you do and the challenges you face. It will also be a fine time to spend a few unhurried minutes with your ministerial colleagues. The only ministries NOT invited to this are social concerns and religious ed.

  • Caregiver Retreat – are you taking care of a loved one or another who cannot fully care for himself or herself? Then join us for the Caregivers morning of retreat on Saturday March 18. 

This week in community:

  • Family Bingo last Friday was a gas. Great thanks to members of the Youth Ministry for making it such fun. Thanks to the nearly 250 people who showed up for the fun and special thanks to all who introduced themselves to other parishioners and who welcomed unknown parishioners to their tables. It was a superb evening of fellowship. Plus it raised money to help fund the Youth Ministry charities for our 30 Hour Famine (Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen, S.H.I.P. and World Vision).

  • The free PJ Anderson concert is next Saturday night, March 4. This too promises to be a wonderful evening of fellowship – fed by excellent music and yet more terrific hospitality offered by the youth group.

  • First Wednesday – given the peculiarities of this year’s calendar – the first Wednesday of March being Ash Wednesday when excellent junk food is not OK – we are moving the first Wednesday celebration to Tuesday, February 28 after the 8:30 Mass. We will celebrate March birthdays and Mardi Gras! Every last parishioner is invited to join this crowd.

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is here! Stay tuned for more information in the bulletin and in church.

  • The Patriot Ministry is taking a new and improved approach this year. On behalf of that ministry (which works the concession stand at Patriot Stadium to raise funds that pay down our mortgage) – I encourage each parish ministry to consider working one night. Find a night when many people in your ministry can work the counter and sign up! It is more fun than you would guess and is a fine way to strengthen the connections within your ministry. Can you really know another ministry member until you have worked the beer taps or the ice cream machine with that person? The Lord works in strange ways his wonders to perform.

With best hopes and blessings for your Lent and your end of winter.

Fr Hank.

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Feb 16, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

This Week in Prayer

“Spiritual Chillax-ability?” Last week it was about “Spiritual Chill-ability” and this week there is an “ax” added. What is up with that? A very mindful and generous parishioner sold me on the change. Quite easily. Said parishioner thought “spiritual chill-ability” carried connotations of spiritual coldness, frostiness, or desolation. Add the “ax” and there is no mistaking it. I agree. Hence, “Spiritual chlilax-ability” is all about – the capacity to regain that sense of being peacefully connected with Jesus; the ability to return to the graced state of spiritually chill-axing after feeling spiritually agitated.

Last week’s readings reminded us that the myth of incompetence strikes frequently, has a singular ability to deprive us of the sense of calm connection to Christ, and can sometimes be easily dispatched. That voice says “You cannot do the good God wants you to do.” We can sometimes dismiss it by recalling “If God calls you to it, God helps you do it, and God gets you through it.” 

This week’s readings remind us that the evil spirits also like to hound us with the belief that we lack the ability to resist evil. That too is a voice that can prevent us from feeling spiritually chillaxed. It is also a voice we should expect to hear from time to time. Fortunately, it is also a voice we can generally eliminate without too much effort. In deepening our ability to ignore that voice, we grow in our “spiritual chillax-ability” – in our ability to return to a peaceful center after turmoil has hounded us.

Sunday’s first reading, from the book of Sirach, claims without qualification, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments.” It says nothing about “you might be able to keep the commandments” or “on a good day you can keep the commandments.” No. it says you can, as in right now. Today. Here. In the face of this temptation.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus also expresses total confidence in our ability to resist temptation. The gospel comes from The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-8. It comes from the section of Chapter 5 knows as “The Antitheses,” where Jesus compares old thoughts to His wisdom. Each phrase affirms our ability to resist the sins, especially the big ones of murder, adultery, and oath-taking. In telling us to do those things, Jesus implies that we can do so. We have what it takes to resist.

But Jesus takes it one step further. He admonishes us to be extremely self-aware and candid. He tells us to notice our first inclinations toward sin and to address those inclinations long before they grow. To use the garden metaphor, he urges us to pluck the sin-weeds as soon as we see them pop up. It makes no sense for us to let them grow into big, ugly, unmanageable tree-weeds that are very hard to eradicate.

God’s confidence in us is terrific. So is Jesus’ strategy advice – fight the sin in its earliest stages. But how do we pull those sin-weeds before they grow? How do we keep ourselves from indulging desires that we know lead us away from glorifying God, from finding deeper peace, and from loving others? One of the best ways to pull the baby sin weeds, a way endorsed by centuries of saints, is to tell someone, a very trusted someone, about the inclination that is taking root in our soul – as soon as it takes root.

So what about you? To whom can you turn when you are feeling the first urges toward violence in any form, toward terrible self-indulgence, or toward misuse of the abilities to speak and communicate with others? Is there a trusted friend? An old confessor? A family member? A church pal? To whom can you go, regardless of your age? Is it a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, or your youth minister? We all get shady inclinations. If we keep them as secrets, we become far more likely to indulge them. If we share our inclinations with others, especially via the therapeutic vent, the inclination loses its grip on us. What might have seemed irresistible seems quite manageable when we spill the beans. To whom can you turn? And who can turn to you, for a safe place to speak of the inclinations that lead us away from that graced, chillaxed sense of being close to Jesus. The irresistibility of sin is a myth. Whose ear helps you combat it?

 This week in service:

  • This weekend, once again, and throughout the month of February (and a little bit into March), several ministries will be recruiting new members and re-recruiting old members who have taken well-deserved sabbaticals. This weekend in the gathering space you will encounter recruiters for: Becca’s Friends (the ministry for people with disabilities), The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)(which provides food and shelter for homeless area families) and the Respect Life Ministry. Informational flyers about other ministries will be available on the Moses Table. Keep in mind, we are not actively recruiting altar servers this week but still need a few more, especially at the 4:45 and the 6:00. Thanks. Big thanks.

  • On Saturday, February 11, over 30 of our high school teens spent the day performing random acts of kindness all around town. The results were outstanding: over 200 flowers were distributed outside ShopRite, at Avalon and at our municipal building; random books at our library include a small bonus and note from the youth group, meals were made and distributed that will feed hundreds of people in need of a hot meal and a little love; plus many more. If you experienced one of our teens out an about this past Saturday drop us a note - we'd love to hear from you. A blessed day all around!

This week in community:

  • FAMILY BINGO IS THIS FRIDAY NIGHT. It promises to be a superb time for all. Great fun for the entire family. Feel free to bring your neighbors and friends. $5 per person or $15 per family. Food, fun and prizes!!

  • The PJ Anderson Concert is on Saturday March 4th after the 4:45 Mass. Mark your calendars. With these two events – bingo and the PJA concert – our Spring fellowship series is off to a rollicking great start.

  • Our Blue Storm basketball teams continue to represent our parish with grace and will be playing a host of games on Saturday afternoon at the Auten Road Intermediate School. 

Remember, the sun is now rising before 7:00 am and setting after 5:30 pm. The Equinox will soon be here! And then comes the Fourth of July!

All best blessings.

 

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Feb 10, 2017

Dear All: 
Christ’s Peace! 

This Week in Prayer

“Spiritual Chill-ability” – the ability to regain a sense of being peacefully connected with Jesus; the ability to return to the graced state of feeling spiritually chilled out after feeling spiritually agitated.

The myth of incompetence can keep us from feeling spiritually chilled out. It frequently leaves us feeling disconnected from Christ and the peace he wants us to feel. Who hasn’t heard the dark voice muttering “you cannot do the good God wants you to do”? It can be terribly discombobulating. 

Fortunately, God likes to help us resist that voice. God invites us to remember: “My call only takes you where my grace can hold you.” A slightly different version says: “If God calls me to it, then God helps me do it and God gets me through it.” That message comes through every one of Sunday’s readings.

In the first reading, from Isaiah 58, a very unsettling chapter, Isaiah tells the misguided people “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked...remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious.” Isaiah addressed this admonition to people who evidently doubted their ability to do the good God wanted them to do. We can only hope they knew deep down that, since God was asking them to do the good, God would enable them to do the good. That belief makes all the difference. It helps us to beat the myth of incompetence and to do God’s work.

The second reading, reveals Paul’s self-doubts. He tells the Christians of Corinth: “I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling...not with persuasive words of wisdom.” Does that sound like someone who trusts completely in his own talents? It sounds more like someone who is fully aware of his limitations and who knows completely that God will show up in the places to which God has sent him.

The Gospel, from Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, tells us that we are salt and light. It implies we can perform the duties of salt and light – to preserve and enhance life. Jesus includes no escape clauses. He doesn’t say “you are like salt and light” or “if you practice harder you will be more like salt and light.” No. He tells us we can do it now, as we are, in those places to which he sends us.

So what about you? Are there places in your life where the evil spirit is trying to convince you that you lack the ability to do the good God wants you to do? As a parent or as a spouse? As a student or as an athlete? As a priest who is a person of prayer? As a prophet called to challenge and console others? As a king called to build up the community? Of course we sometimes get ourselves tangled up in deals that have nothing to do with God and in which God does not intend to sustain us. But in those places where we are truly trying to cooperate with God, we sometimes need to recall: “If God calls me to it, God helps me do it and God gets me through it.” In what circumstances does Jesus want you to recall that? To defeat the myth of incompetence? To move further into the peace/spiritual chill only he can give?

This week in service:

  • Would that more parishioners could have observed all the inspired activity taking place here on Saturday morning – as the church rooms held planning sessions for the Ministry to Caretakers, the Pro-life Ministry, Becca’s Friends and the facilitators of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. The amount of good being planned and recounted is “a wonder to behold.”

  • Remember, February is the month for ministry recruiting. Maybe walk slowly through the gathering space and wonder if the Holy Spirit might be nudging you to join or rejoin one of the ministries. The Altar Servers, very much into a successful rebuilding year, will be recruiting again this week. Thanks!

  • On February 11, our high school teens are spending a day performing Random Acts of Kindness all around Hillsborough.

This week in community:

Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming fellowship events. The posters and postcards in the gathering space list a gaggle of opportunities to come to church for pure fun. Two of those events occur within the next month:

  • BINGO! Yes, that Catholic social staple is back for one night only. February 17th will be Family Bingo Night! All proceeds will be donated to the youth group's 30 Hour Famine charities - World Vision, Elijah's Promise and S.H.I.P. Come have some fun and feed the hungry!

  • Nashville Christian Recording Artist PJ Anderson will be performing here on Saturday March 4th at 7pm. If you have been to one of PJ’s concerts you know how they lift your soul towards all that is good and holy. If you don’t already know that, come and experience it. 

Today’s snow day has been a double bonus. It gave us the day off and didn’t leave us with a mountain of snow to remove. I hope each of you was able to dig out without incident and was able to enjoy the day. And remember, the count for winter is now 49 days down and 41 days to go. We are over the hump! 

All best blessings.

Fr Hank 

This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Feb 2, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

This Week in Prayer

“Lead, follow or get out of the way.” The catchy slogan can serve us well in our athletic endeavors, our professional pursuits, and many other circumstances. When it comes to living out our baptismal promises, however, we need to adopt a slightly altered axiom: “Always follow God; lead others when that is what God wants; follow others when that is what God wants; always stay out of the way of grace (i.e., don’t make it difficult for others to experience God’s grace.” When we get that all straight, we serve well.

Sunday’s first reading, from the Book of Zephaniah, provides negative examples, stories that we should try not to imitate. The basic story is one of lousy leaders bringing out the worst in people by coaxing them to worship false Gods and to mistreat the disadvantaged. These leaders cared mostly about their egos and status. They did not follow God. Neither did they lead in ways that aligned with God’s hopes. And they seemed determined to impede the flow of God’s consoling graces. These self-guided leaders suffered deportation shortly after Zephaniah issued his warning. They were not among those left in Jerusalem during the Exile. These villains were not among “the remnant of Israel (who) do no wrong and speak no lies; (who) shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.”

Sunday’s second reading comes from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, one of the epistles attributed to Paul that he really did write. In it, Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth that their high-flying neighbors regard them (the Christians) as lacking wisdom, power and nobility. The Christians are thus not in a position to exert leadership in Corinth – and that is fine with Paul because it is fine with God. The Christians can be followers, as long as the following does not violate their faith. Paul also reminds his people that, in their relationship with Christ, they possess beautiful wisdom, power and nobility.

The Beatitudes in the Gospel illustrate our adjusted maxim: “always follow God, lead others when that is what God wants; follow others when that is God’s desire; always stay out of grace’s way.” The first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit” reminds us we are always to follow God’s lead, not just our own impulses. The “poor in spirit” are those who continually remember that God’s hope is what matters, that God’s dreams are what counts and our job is to discern them and desire them. The beatitude “blessed are the meek” affirms humility. It blesses the inclination to be humble enough to follow others when doing so seems to align with God’s desires. Finally, Jesus’ affirmation of “peacemakers” and of those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” reminds us that God sometimes invites us to get out in front, to change the world, to lead the charge by leading others in God’s ways.

So, what about you? In what ways are you getting it just right? Habitually trying to want what God wants, leading when that is what God wants, following when that is appropriate, staying out of grace’s way? You are surely leading others in some capacities – in your family, at school, on your team, at work, in the community. What are some of the indications that your leadership aligns with God’s hopes? And what about following? What are the circumstances in which you endorse others’ leadership? What are some of your reasons to believe that your decision to follow along aligns with God’s hopes and that you are following as God wants?

 

This week in service:

  • This weekend, and throughout the month of February (and a little bit into March), many ministries will be recruiting new members and re-recruiting old members who have taken well-deserved sabbaticals. This weekend in the gathering space you will encounter recruiters for: Altar Servers, Eucharistic Ministers for Mass, Eucharistic Ministers for Avalon and Bridgeway, Eucharistic Ministers for Carrier Clinic, and Sacristans. Might the Holy Spirit be giving you a slight elbow to join one of these ministries?
  • On February 11, our high school teens are spending a day performing Random Acts of Kindness all around Hillsborough. If you want to be part of the day you can sponsor a Random Act for $5 by placing your gift in the 'poor box'.

This week in community:

Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming fellowship events. The posters and postcards in the gathering space list a gaggle of opportunities to come to church for pure fun. Two of those events occur within the next month:

  • BINGO! Yes, that Catholic social staple is back for one night only. February 17th will be Family Bingo Night! All proceeds will be donated to the youth group's 30 Hour Famine charities - World Vision, Elijah's Promise and S.H.I.P. Come have some fun and feed the hungry!
  • Nashville Christian Recording Artist PJ Anderson will be performing here on Saturday March 4th. If you have been to one of PJ’s concerts you know how they lift your soul towards all that is good and holy. If you don’t already know that, come and experience it. 

Once again, chin up. Saturday marks winter’s halfway point. The days are getting noticeably longer and a few of the overambitious daffodils have started to assert themselves. Spring will be here soon. 

All best blessings.

Fr Hank